This is a guest post from Denis from CigarInspector.com. 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 CigarInspector.com. 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!