Cigar Pairing: Glengoyne Cask Strength

Cigar Pairing: Glengoyne Cask Strength

Glengoyne, the Scotch distillery that has long touted itself as "The authentic taste of malt whisky untainted by peat smoke," can now claim to be uncorrupted by added water, artificial coloring or chill filtering as well. That's the case at least for the Glengoyne Cask Strength, which is now reaching America along with a brace of sister whiskies that have been repackaged.

Alongside Cask Strength comes the Glengoyne Mini Tin ($25), which is a gift set of 50 milliliter bottles of its 10-, 15- and 18-year-old marques. Standard-sized bottlings of the 10- and 12-year-old have also been repackaged.

Glengoyne is a Highland malt that bridges a connection to the Lowlands in a couple of ways. Its complete lack of peat (the organic fuel that is burned to heat barley before fermentation in almost every other Scotch whisky) is akin to the often lightly peated malts of the Lowlands. This historically reflects the terroir of an area that lacks peat in the ground.

Glengoyne's facilities also straddle the border with the Lowlands. The distillery itself is on the southern border of the Highlands, but cross the street and you are in the Lowlands. That is where its squat warehouses, with earthen floors, stone walls and tin roofs, stand. (For those visiting Glasgow, Glengoyne is also among the most convenient distillery tours.)

While the Cask Strength is essentially untreated after aging, it represents a melding of casks types. The cask recipe comprises 20 percent first-fill European oak previously used for aging Sherry, 10 percent American oak Sherry casks and 70 percent refill casks.

Glengoyne Cask Strength (117.6 proof, or 58.8 percent alcohol by volume, tasted from Batch No. 004; no age statement; $89.99 a 750-milliliter bottle)

APPEARANCE: Color is deep amber, very close to a sunshine orange. Very slow, delicate legs.

NOSE: Bright honey and triple sec/orange bouquet, reveals Stilton cheese and bread dough as the initial alcohol blast fades. There's a bit of fudge at the back end.

PALATE: Graham cracker and a laundry list of fruit—orange from the nose, cherries, bananas, pears and grape—make a beguiling mix. The whisky then proceeds to emit mint, white pepper, cinnamon, licorice and some of the cheese notes also from the nose.

FINISH: The finish arises quickly enough that it's hard to distinguish it from the end of the palate experience. It starts with fudge and moves into dark nuts and some caramel flavors. Most of the notes of the palate make current calls in this long finish.

CIGAR PAIRING: Padrón 7000 Maduro (Nicaragua; 6 1/4 inches by 60 ring gauge; $8.10; 89 points; August 2016 Cigar Aficionado)
Earthy and woody, this thick cigar imparts hints of mint, anise and cardamom before a fresh pine finish. This was an easy matchy-matchy choice as the middle palate of the whisky so clearly mirrors the cigar notes. For the most part those commonalities played out in the pairing. The mint of the cigar boosted that quality on the whisky and also shared its pine notes. The Glengoyne also showed off more of its bread dough, cheese and the nuts of the finish. However, the fruit was less in evidence. When paired, the cigar took on more of the toast and nuts that we typically associate with Padrón. It became rounder and fuller, and smacked of fudge as well. A solid pairing, but nothing unpredictable arose.