Getting with Scotch and Cigars
Posted: August 31, 2012
When a gentleman with an untamed beard and a kilt who self-styles himself as a Wild Scotsman takes the trouble to attend the IPCPR convention to announce his solidarity with cigars, he’s generally worth reckoning with. So when Jeffrey Topping asked us to taste some of the whisky he imports against cigars, we took him up on the challenge.
Topping visited a Scotch whisky distillery (Bladnoch) for the first time some 10 years ago and returned to the U.S. with enough enthusiasm to go into the business. Now, he is a whisky negotiant who buys casks from distilleries in Scotland and bottles them for marketing here. Distilleries he deals with include Bladnoch, Glen Grant, Royal Lochnagar and Mortlach, but much of what he bottles comes in the form of blended malt whisky. That is not to be confused with simple blended Scotch, which includes grain whiskies. Blended malts are marriages purely of pot-stilled malt whiskies from various distilleries. They used to be called vatted malts, but a change in Scotch Whisky Association regulations a few years back resulted in this decidedly down-market designation for these products, which can be exquisite.
Topping’s signature product is the Wild Scotsman Black Label Blended Malt Scotch Whisky, which he created “to compliment my enjoyment of a cigar.” He also promotes a Wild Scotsman Single Cask Series in small runs using casks remnants from his blended malt and private label bottlings. “It allows the consumer to appreciate the different flavors that inspire my palate much like eating next to a Chef as they are cooking a great meal,” he told us. This series includes Bunnahabhain 38-year-old, Caol Ila 27-year-old and something called North Islay 21-year-old ex-Olorosa Sherry Cask, a name made up because “due to the nature in which I bought the cask I was not allowed to use the distillery name. Just look at a map of Islay and all will be clear.”
Wild Scotsman Black Label Blended Malt Scotch Whiskey (94 proof or 47 percent abv, $68.99)
APPEARANCE: A light Riesling gold color with fast legs of medium width.
NOSE: Starts with a modest peat smell that quickly turns to toast. Then comes honey sweetness and a bit of vanilla with traces of orange oil.
PALATE: After the softish nose, the whisky is surprisingly chewy in the mouth with a nougat taste before becoming toasty and wheaty notes, but not particularly peaty.
FINISH: That orange zest from the nose reappears at the finale.
CIGAR PAIRING: For the front end of the pairing we chose an Oliva Serie 'V' Special V Figurado (88 Points, June 2012 Cigar Aficionado), a dramatically curvy figurado with a toasty, woody flavor profile that also reveals hints of leather and cedar. With the Wild Scotsman Blended Malt the smoke became even toastier and very nutty with a bit of cinnamon. The cigar gave the whisky a wood structure, and from the two seemed to arise a lemony, citric note, especially when water was added.
Comments 4 comment(s)
JACK BETTRIDGE — NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES, — August 31, 2012 5:35pm ET
Mario Takeyama — August 31, 2012 8:09pm ET
Clifford Brown — independence, ky, usa, — August 31, 2012 11:07pm ET
Jeffrey Topping — September 1, 2012 2:07am ET
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