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Pairing Cigars with Cask-Strength Whisky

Jack Bettridge
Posted: August 10, 2012

(continued from page 2)

PALATE: In the mouth all that peat takes on the sea air of Islay and turns to candy with nuts, wood and pear and then moves on to licorice and a bit of cinnamon.

FINISH: The fruit on the palate lingers and repeats like a Howitzer.

CIGAR PAIRING: Felipe Gregorio Refusion F2 - With the smoke coming from the whisky the cigar loses some of it pop, while the whisky loses some of its peat character. Neutral pairing.

Montecristo Edmundo - Both elements seem to be helping the other with great balance. The fruity pear flavors of the Port Ellen start to pop and the cigar gets very leathery. An excellent give-and-take on what is already great stuff on its own.

Lagavulin 12 Year Old Special Release Bottled in 2010, Islay, (113 proof or 56.5 percent abv, $89)

APPEARANCE: Very light yellow color, fat, quick legs.

NOSE: The aroma has peat that speaks of toast and nuts, with some candy at the back end.

PALATE: The candy from the nose immediately jumps out, to be followed by toast, understated peat and the emblematic tars and sea breeze of Islay. A very well-balanced malt.

FINISH: That sweet and smoke interplay that informs the palate goes on and on.

CIGAR PAIRING: Felipe Gregorio Refusion F2 - This cigar is overwhelmed and flattened out in flavor by the whisky, which doesn’t suffer at the hands of the smoke. Still it’s not a successful coupling.

Montecristo Edmundo - At this point, the cigar turns into a nutty candy bar, and the whisky softens its firm peat stance to release its sweet and fruity charms. Ding, ding, ding, this is the winner among the pairings.

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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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