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Dalmore's Tweaked Cigar Malt Reserve Still Perfect For Smoke

Jack Bettridge
Posted: February 21, 2014

The sobriquet "dessert malt," often tagged to The Dalmore whiskies for their expansively sweet, yet nuanced characters, can be especially apt if your idea of an after-meal treat is something you light up and smoke rather than fork into your maw and eat—and you have chosen the Highland distiller's Cigar Malt Reserve as a companion.

If you know the whisky from its earlier incarnation—simply Cigar Malt—it is worth a second taste in the Reserve version, which debuted in 2011 with an enhanced malt recipe after the original had been rebranded four years earlier.

Tying a whisky to enjoyment with but a single product, like cigars, is a bold choice. First, you have to make good on the boast—don't worry, The Dalmore, shepherded by cigar enthusiast Richard Paterson, puts "paid" on that bill handsomely. Second, you're conceivably limiting your audience only to smokers. That's not a popular choice in a marketing world where you can read on a single wine label that the liquid pairs well with not only beef, pork, lamb and chicken, but fish.

That led to the choice in 2007 to rename the Cigar Malt, which had been introduced in 1999, as the Dalmore Gran Reserva. Paterson says that confusion over the original name even had people believing that the whisky was matured in tobacco leaves. The truth was that it was a mix of two malts, 70 percent of which were aged in Oloroso Sherry casks and 30 percent in Bourbon barrels.

When Dalmore returned the word "cigar" to the label, it didn't just tiptoe back. It did it with swagger. The new cigar mix comes in at about 10 to 14 years of age, but its content aged in Sherry casks (70 percent) is 30 years old. The rest of the recipe is 20 percent Bourbon-barrel aged and 10 percent matured in former Cabernet Sauvignon casks. The only down side to the rich mixture is that it costs about twice as much.

It's worth the splurge, however, when you're breaking out a great cigar. Paterson suggests Partagás No. 2 and No. 4. Those weren't available for this tasting, but we did quite well just the same, thank you.

(Cigar pairing notes on next page)

The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve (88 proof, or 44 percent alcohol by volume; no age statement; $120 a 750-milliliter bottle)

APPEARANCE: Rich amber color, slight copper. Massive legs take forever to break.

NOSE: Starts out with slight flowers and expands into fuller notes that suggest dessert: nuts, chocolate and cherries. And if you close your eyes, yes, you might even get a whiff of tobacco. But it's sort of like when you thought you heard Santa's sleigh bells while lying in bed on Christmas Eve.

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Comments   2 comment(s)

Frederick Amodeo — Bellport, New York, USA,  —  February 22, 2014 7:15am ET

I have had the original 'cigar malt' about 3 years ago and was extremely impressed with its subtleness and pairing with the cigar choices my buddies and I had. Then, I couldn't find it any longer. In the past few months it has returned at almost double the price! I would love to sip more of it with my favorite cigars and friends however, the price is such that it is a little out there for a scotch. At this price, I can get a 21 year old Glenlivet or GlenFIddich. It's like purchasing cigars, I can buy one very expensive cigar and not the box to enjoy in something special but with scotch its a all or nothing at all thing. Maybe my buddies and I can chip in and buy another bottle. God knows it was worth it! February 22, 2014 12:08pm ET

So glad you reviewed this, Jack. I loved the old Dalmore cigar malt but was hesitant to pay the new price. But it sounds like it's definitely worth it. To the liquor store!

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