The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve

This is a guest post from Denis from He knows far more than I do about pairing cigars (and cigars in general), and does justice to the topic. See my earlier review of the malt here.

Hello everyone! My name is Denis and I run a cigar reviews blog over at I want to start out by giving a huge thank you to Nathan for giving me the opportunity to be here today and share my enthusiasm for whisky and cigars with you all. The award-winning Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve was released back in August, which makes it fairly new to a lot of whisky and cigar connoisseurs, although some prominent whisky bloggers published reviews before the release (*wink*). The price tag (~$125.00) doesn’t make it all that accessible either; I saved up for months to purchase a bottle—and I’m glad I did.

Once upon a time there was a Dalmore Cigar Malt, later discontinued, of which I have vague but fond memories. My friend Martin reviewed it in 2010 on my own blog. The old Cigar Malt was a smoky whisky with notes of dark cherries, rum, caramel, sherry and chocolate. Alas it has been too long—I’m not the only Dalmore fan to think so, either. “So many of our fans would ask about a cigar malt,” says Jorge Gutierrez, Vice President of The Americas Region for Whyte and Mackay, “and many were disappointed when one was not available. Now with Cigar Malt Reserve, those fans and more will get to experience the lush, full flavors of a single malt whisky crafted expressly with cigar pairings in mind.”

Whatever happened to the old Cigar Malt? The Cigar Malt was well loved by cigar smokers, but enough non-smokers were hesitant about whether or not the drink was for them that The Dalmore changed up the recipe and the name, giving us the Gran Reserva—which just wasn’t the same. The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve wasn’t created as a replacement for the old Cigar Malt, but rather was crafted as an entirely new experience. This whisky came elegantly packaged in a gift box. The bottle is graced with the Dalmore stag and contains a golden amber liquid aged in oloroso sherry wood and white oak bourbon barrels.

When I open the bottle, my nose is greeted with notes of tobacco, orange, and berry, drenched in dark chocolate and caramel and spiced with cinnamon and pepper. There is something else earthy which I detect as well, or perhaps it’s more leathery.

The palate entry is defined by sweet orange, but is quickly replaced by earthy dark chocolate spiced with cinnamon, pepper, and clove. Sweet caramel and vanilla are also present along with a number of fruit notes in the tropical spectrum including pineapple, kiwi, and mango. I also taste something woody, which gives this malt a rustic edge — while still retaining its elegant character. The finish is spicy wood smoke.

Could you enjoy this whisky without a cigar? Absolutely. Would I miss out on the chance to pair it with something great? No way. Before we begin—I wouldn’t recommend pairing a super-premium cigar like a Padron Anniversary or an Opus X with this malt. I am confident that those can be thoroughly savored on their own. This being said, here are several cigars I have enjoyed pairing with the Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve.

The Oliva Serie G Maduro is a cheap cigar—ironically—but it goes well with the malt owing to its rich, dark chocolate flavor and aroma which so nicely complement the whisky. Other notes include coffee and toasted nuts. This cigar with a Nicaraguan filler and a Cameroon wrapper retails for only ~$4.00. The Serie G has a medium-full body, but the spiciness of the Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve helps it to assert itself.

The body of the first cigar I mentioned may not be sufficient for some of you. In this case, a good alternative is the Don Pepin Garcia Blue Label, a Nicaraguan puro which you can purchase for about $9 a stick. Powerful yet creamy, this spicy cigar makes a nice accompaniment to the tropical fruit flavors in the Malt Reserve and blends well with the wood in both the cigar and the whisky.

And if you have access to Cuban cigars, treat yourself to a Montecristo Edmundo. Alone, it slightly lacks evolution in my opinion and the Cigar Malt Reserve gives it a good boost in this department.

These are just a few cigars which I would recommend pairing with the Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve. There are many others which I imagine would also make great compliments, and I invite you to share your suggestions in the comments! If you already enjoy pairing up whisky and cigars, then you already know that cigars and whisky both leave behind pleasant aftertastes which can complement each other and enrich the flavors of both. The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve was created specifically with this goal in mind, and it achieves that goal, effortlessly accompanying many different cigars. The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve will cost you, but it’s worth saving up for and makes a superb holiday treat!

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  • Hello Denis,

    Great to see posts like this on a whisky blog. I am not a smoker, but I did taste a few cigars in thet last few years, which I enjoyed.
    Pairing cigars and whisky, I never did that before. But it sounds like something i should try! I picture myself sitting on the balcony pouring a dram and smoking a cigar. But I better should wait untill the winds and the rains are gone and the temperature is above 20 degrees celcius in the evening (Summer, where are you?!?!).

    Pairing different cigars to one particular whisky is pretty hard for someone who does not smoke cigars on a regular basis.
    What about the other way around? Suppose I’ve found a good decent cigar… What whisky should I pair to it?? Simply said, what (single malt)whisky (brand??) is in generaly a good match with ‘any’ kind of cigar? Are there any general recommendations? A big fat sherry monster? A really smokey peaty whisky? A more gentle tasting whisky?

    Interesting stuff!

    Greetings from the Netherlands.

    • Hi TJ, thanks for the comment! Denis may be able to answer your question better, but I do know that your goal when pairing cigars & scotch is to avoid clashes. You rarely would want a peated whisky, because it might clash (or get washed away by) the more robust smoke flavors in the cigar. Fruit usually pairs well with smoke, so any fruity highlander or speysider should make a good match. The bigger (bolder/heavier) the cigar, the bigger the whisky should be. A sherry monster should pair well with a robust maduro, while a lighter highlander like Oban should pair well with a lighter, Connecticut-wrapper mild cigar. Always remember to bring a glass of water outside with you, which not only prevents dehydration, but (I believe) keeps your palate awake. There was a good article on this topic in a recent edition of The Whisky Advocate magazine.

    • TJ, thank you for reading and your feedback – it’s highly appreciated.
      The Scotch Noob is right, the goal of such pairing is to avoid one element overpowering the other one. For instance, I would totally avoid heavily peated malts (Laphroaig, Lagavulin…) because they might simply offset any flavor a cigar might have, even if it’s a powerhouse. This would result in a waste of both products. Try pairing full-bodied cigars with stronger drinks, medium-bodied ones with lighter malts. Mild cigars are trickier to pair because they are easily overwhelmed.
      For some reason I’m tempted to recommend the Auchentoshan 10/12 y.o. for a “generic” pairing recommendation. Need more suggestions? What about Macallan 10/12 & Aberlour 10? But you shouldn’t limit yourself to single malts – blended stuff also works well (Green Label…), so does bourbon. The most interesting part is trying out different combinations, good luck!

      • Thank you both for the answer and tips.
        That is exactly what I mean; I want to avoid clashes when I try to pair some good whisky with a good cigar, so thank you!

        The Macallan 10yo fine oak and the Aberlour 10yo are both in my whisky cabinet at the moment. Aside from some smokey peaty whiskies, I have several bottles of fruity whiskies on the shelf, so the pairing with fruity whisky should not be a problem.
        But the cigars have to wait (at least till summer, because I am not going to smoke indoors)and I don’t own a humidor, but I’m planning to buy one in the near future (not a big one) to ensure the loss of quality of the cigars is limited.

        Momentarily I’m focussing on the single malts… There are so many whiskies I would like to taste and enjoy. I will not forget the blends and bourbons, but for the moment… It’s just a matter of budget (what I am willing to spend, not what I can spend) and I am not a big drinker, so it takes time to empty a bottle.

        Thanks for the tips on pairing whisky whith cigars.