April 2022

Yes, Cigarinspector.com is a cigar related website, but we also like the other good things in life. Things like good spirits, and we won’t shy away from sharing news, information, and perfect pairings of cigars and spirits. Sometimes companies even make it easy for us by creating a link between cigars and alcohol. That’s the case in this article.

In 2021, La Casa del Tabaco from Belgium and C.Gars Limited from the UK merged to the largest cigar retail company in Europe, Dominique London. The group has 21 stores and will open 4 more just this year. These stores sell cigars, but also premium spirits. The Dominique London group also owns a distillery, the Snowdonia Distillery in Wales, and with that Dominique London is the producer of Stalla Dhu whisky.

Due to the expertise and experience of the distillery, Stalla Dhu had built a strong name with medals for independent bottles during the 2019 Scotch Highlands awards, bronze medals for their gin at the World Gin Awards 2021 and 2022 and a silver medal for the Stalla Dhu Cask Strength Truthbehold and the world best single cask single malt for the Stalla Dhu Coal Ila 11YO Single Cask.

The launch of the drinks in Belgium took place last week at the 3 star Hof van Cleve restaurant. Frédéric Dechamps, COO of Dominique London, says “The start of our group has a link with the rise of the demand of luxury products. Our numbers show constant growth. The demand for high and products, both in cigars and spirits is at an all-time high. People don’t travel as much, don’t go out at much, but instead enjoy premium products at home. We see people enjoy experiences and are willing to pay for that experience. We operate in that market”.

Gin got a great boost in the last few years and now has a substantial piece of the spirit sales. Dominique Gyselink says in a press release that it has to do with the popularity of the gin tonic. “That fresh aperitive, it cannot be replaced by something else. Chris Marshall, Master Distiller van Snowdonia Distillery in Wales makes the world class Foragers gin. “What we see is a big difference between drinkers. For the longest time, young adults were drinking sweet drinks, but nowadays they are more aware of what’s in the drink. They are cautious about sugar. Foragers is one of the driest gins. There is no added sugar in the Yellow label but the sweetness is all natural due to the spices and herbs. The availability in flavours on the market is becoming more international and global. Gin Tonic got an upgrade, it is the right balance between tonic and alcohol. Enjoy responsible, that’s the message”.

More than Gin

Besides Gin, Dominique London also carries rum, vodka, and the high quality whisky from Stalla Dhu. Gyselink continues “we look at the wider palette of premium spirits. We try to make a difference in the high end market. We recently created a chocolate vodka and a coffee liquor. We have our own signature cocktails. We will launch a new gin soon, we have introduced a slow gin and three award winning whisky’s. We keep evolving. We don’t intent to release everything, this is a competitive market. We don’t want to be the cheapest, we want to be the best. We just celebrated our first birthday and our motto is ‘do what you say and say what you do’. I think we took the right steps to build a premium supplier in the luxury sector that can be successful in both the tobacco and alcohol sector.”

Christophe Navarre

Christophe Navarre is a big name in the world op premium spirits. For years he was the chairman and CEO of the Moët Hennessy group. In that role, he was responsible for Krug, Dom Pérignon, Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Ruinart, & Mercier champagnes, Glenmorangie and Ardbeg whisky, Belvedere vodka and several wine brands. Last year Navarre joined Dominique London as one of the directors on the board. His leadership and experience made it possible for Moët Hennessy to grow the way it did. Dominique London now uses his knowledge, expertise, network and reputation to build their spirit portfolio.

 

Unique spirits

Foragers Gin

Chris Marshall is the founder and master distiller of the Snowdonia Distillery and the producer of Foragers gin. He says “the more hasty the world gets, the slower we want to go. It’s not that we don’t have the knowledge and technology to do things faster that things are better. We invest lots of time in producing our gins. We use local, hand-picked, botanicals from the Snowdonia National Park. Fresh ingredients just taste better, we thank it to the environment and the effects of the seasons.

Foragers has the slow, copper distilled Yellow Label with notes of Sicilian citrus, camomile and a hint of honey and apples. The Black Label is as clear as possible with only two plants as ingredients. Then there is the Soulful slow gin with handpicked and local ingredients and water from the Snowdonia mountains. The Winberry Gin has a nice and complex aroma of fresh citrus, berries and floral notes.

Dominique London also has Ybet Vodka. An original one with elements of Wales. But there is also a Vodka Rosé with a slight beetroot flavour and a Chocolate version with Peruvian chocolate. The vodka is triple distilled.

There’s also a rum, distilled in one of Cuba’s oldest distilleries. After a year, the liquid is transferred to American oak barrels and get 2 years of additional aging before being transported to Wales. At Snowdonia, the rum is transferred to Cognac barrels where the flavour is even more enhanced before bottling.

The Marsette Cold-Pressed Coffee Liqueur is a unique coffee liqueur made with Indian Malabar coffee beans. Spicy with notes of oak and a sweet undertone of chocolate.

Stalla Dhu

Stalla Dhu, which is Scottish Gaelic for black is an independent gamma of single cask Scotch Whisky’s coming from the best distilleries in Scotland. Stalla Dhu has been winning awards for the last few years.

It is all due to the picking and managing of the barrels. The barrels create the unique blends. To do this takes times, experience and knowledge.

Ron Morrison, Spirits Director: “how do you get the result of what you aim for? In the 1980s most whisky’s were blended. Producer made a one dimensional product. Some distilleries wanted to make a different quality. Nowadays we pick the flavour profile from the different kinds of wood. Cherry, port, sherry, red wine, and all the other options available.

We have an idea of where we want to go in colour and flavour. To reach that, we test and taste the wood. It’s not an exact science but you have to have faith in the choices you make. Then you can get to big differences in quality. It pays off, that is proven by the prices we won. We are still a young company, but we have seen tremendous growth in the last two years. During the pandemic, many distilleries had issues with the supply chain which affected production. On the other hand, afficionados are at home more and are getting better educated and interested in high end products. Stalla Dhu is the answer to their question on what high-end whisky to buy.”

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