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Pairing Cigars with Cask-Strength Whisky

Jack Bettridge
Posted: August 10, 2012

(continued from page 1)

Auchroisk 20 Year Old Special Release Bottled in 2010, Speyside, (116 proof or 58 percent abv, $175)

APPEARANCE: Brassy color with slight green. Its tight legs are excruciatingly slow with big drops and thin tails like a lazy comet.

NOSE: Fruity aroma with honey and slight flowers.

PALATE: A peach and hard-candy quality is balanced with a certain weight and oily quality that speaks of nuts, wood, toast, cinnamon and a cigar-box cedar.

FINISH: Fruit hangs on forever in the after taste with savory bits of nut at the very end.

CIGAR PAIRING: Felipe Gregorio Refusion F2 - The cigar brings out chocolate, butterscotch and an aged Gouda flavor in the malt, which accentuates finer quality with no clash between. Another fine pairing.

Montecristo Edmundo - Here, the fuller-bodied cigar made the whisky tangier, squelching its fruit. The whisky made the cigar a bit nuttier, but all in all not a successful combination.

Port Ellen 28 Year Old Rare Edition Bottled in 2007, Islay, (107.8 proof or 53.8 percent abv, $299.99)

APPEARANCE: Light yellow color, slow fat legs.

NOSE: A big whiff of sweet smoke is followed by caramel and wood.

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Comments   3 comment(s)

Valley Beverage Co. August 10, 2012 7:11pm ET

Great artictle. You should mention that all of these Scotches open up nicely with a bit of distilled water. That Lagavulin 12 year old will start showing some fruity notes with just a few drops of water added.

JACK BETTRIDGE — NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES,  —  August 13, 2012 10:24am ET

That is true, and I toyed with noting that as I had tasted them all (plus other cask-strength whiskies) separately (no cigars) for something else I'm working on. At that point, I did add water. For the purposes of this cigar pairing we didn't, so I didn't mention it. Another Islay that I tasted previously was the Laphroiag 10-year-old as it comes both in standard proof and cask-strength and I could compare them head to head. It was striking how such a peaty malt at 86 proof could be far less smoky at 111 (or whatever proof it comes out of the barrel at--it varies by batch). Then you add a bit of water and smoke releases.

Valley Beverage Co. August 13, 2012 12:49pm ET

Absolutely. The Laphroaig 10 cask strength is one of my favorite examples to demonstrate what just a little bit of water can do to a whisky. What an amazing spirit whisky is.

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