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Five Excellent New Scotch Single Malts to Pair with Your Cigars - Nicolas Stecher

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Back before the holidays we shared some interesting spirits to share not only with your Thanksgiving table, but also with your post-turkey cigar. Today we delve into some of the best Scottish single malts that dropped last year, to highlight some amazing whiskies from the land that started it all. Here are five of our cigar-friendly favorites, plus a smoke we recommend to complement each scotch’s specific aromas and tasting notes. Sláinte!

Port Charlotte ‘Islay Barley 2014’ Single Malt Whisky

Islay's Bruichladdich originally gained notoriety as being one of the few non-peated whiskies flowing from the famed isle, so it's noteworthy that these days their peated releases are so beloved. Consider their Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2014, the latest in the family's heavily peated lineage. After distillation in 2014, the juice matured in a medley of casks, including a majority in first-fill bourbon wood complimented evenly by whiskey aged in both second-fill virgin oak and second-fill Bordeaux wine casks. As with all of Port Charlotte's offerings Islay Barley 2014 takes you on a profound, labyrinthine journey of flavors: the instant smoke and iodine quickly giving way to the toasted sugars and caramel of flan, with bright citrus notes and ripe apricot. Bottled at 50% ABV with a $85 SRP.

Cigar Pairing: Embark on an odyssey of complexity with the pairing of Port Charlotte 'Islay Barley 2014' Single Malt Whisky and Viaje Honey & Hand Grenades. Imagine the intricate dance of the cigar’s rich cocoa and espresso notes, perfectly entwined with the whisky's peaty and caramel-like richness.


Glenmorangie ‘A Tale of Tokyo’ Single Malt Whisky

Under the watchful eye of esteemed Director of Whisky Creation Dr. Bill Lumsdens, Glenmorangie's single malt tree has been branching out in some interesting directions. Their first in the ‘A Tale Of’ Series, A Tale Of Winter, featured a single malt finished in Marsala casks. Its follow-up, A Tale of the Forest, kilned their barley not only with peat — rare for a Highland distillery — but also forest botanicals like juniper berries, birch bark, heather flowers and even rowan berries. For the third, Tale Of Tokyo, Glenmorangie takes inspiration from the globe-hopping Whisky Creator’s favorite cities. More specifically, its rare and brittle oak that is now becoming more renowned around the world as a singular second-aging wood: Mizunara. So Dr. Lumsdens takes his own single malt normally aged in both sherry and bourbon casks and blends in whisky partly aged in Mizunara oak, creating a finished marriage that adds subtle notes of sweet cherry and coconut. $110.

Cigar Pairing: Guardian of the Farm Rocco and Glenmorangie 'A Tale of Tokyo' Single Malt Whisky make for a perfect pairing. The slightly spicy kick of the cigar creates the perfect backdrop for the herbaceous notes of the scotch, bringing the spirit’s toffee and cedar notes to the forefront.


The Balvenie ‘French Oak 16-Year-Old’ Single Malt Whisky

It’s no small thing to say The House of Balvenie was built on legendary Malt Master David C. Stewart’s experimentations with second finishes — aging a spirit in a second barrel after initial maturation — from which the Speyside distillery’s core portfolio were born: DoubleWood 12-Year-Old, Caribbean Cask 14-Year-Old and PortWood 21-Year-Old. For the first time in a decade The Balvenie recently unveiled a new member of its Cask Finishes Range: The Balvenie French Oak 16-Year-Old. The fourth permanent entry into the Cask Finishes Range is finished in wood that previously held Pineau — a fortified wine from the Charentes vineyards made by blending unfermented grape juice with cognac eau-de-vie. The French Oak 16-Year-Old offers a beautiful, rich color and oily mouthfeel, luxurious even by the elevated standards of the single malt category. The Pineau casks add citrus notes of lemon rind and grapefruit, as well as ice wine and ginger to The Balvenie’s traditional vanilla, honey and oak base. The Balvenie French Oak 16-Year-Old comes bottled at 47.6% ABV with a SRP of $175.

Cigar Pairing: The Balvenie 'French Oak 16-Year-Old' Single Malt Whisky pairs beautifully with Cavalier Geneve Inner Circle. The whisky’s peppery mouthfeel harmonizes with the smoke’s unique notes of ginger and espresso to create an experience that’s as bold as it is memorable.


Glenglassaugh ‘46-Year-Old’ Single Malt Whisky

Although launched on the crescent coast of Sandend Bay in 1875 by the Colonel James Moir, the Glenglassaugh Distillery turned off its lights in the 1980s after the infamous ‘Whisky Loch’ crash sank hundreds of distilleries across Scotland. Until December of 2008, that is, when the mothballed distillery resurrected its whisky-making soul. In the meantime all the barrels of its luscious single malt treasure rested in the mothballed cellars, soaking in their wood and littoral climate while they awaited their raison d'être. Recently Glenglassaugh Master Blender Rachel Barrie pulled a whisky thief filled with ancient spirit from cask #1978, tasted its golden Highland elixir, and instantly recognized its time had come. "The lush sweetness of this coastal single malt is a complete distillation of its natural surroundings in Sandend Bay,” the distinguished Master Blender told us. “Its whole essence is created by both the visible and invisible influences of land, sea, air and spring water." Only 215 hand-numbered bottles of Glenglassaugh ‘46-Year-Old’ exist at cask strength (41.7% ABV), priced at $4,800.

Cigar Pairing: Experience a taste sensation with Glenglassaugh '46-Year-Old' Single Malt Whisky and Oliva 135th Anniversary. Savor the hints of cashews, toffee and cedar from this cigar alongside the whisky’s notes of tropical fruit, cherry, black currant, and mango. This luscious and indulgent pairing is one for the ages.


Torabhaig ‘Allt Gleann Batch Strength’ Single Malt Whisky

Considerably less famous than its whisky-making Hebrides sister island Islay, Skye still has its place in the world of scotch — most notably through the famed Talisker Distillery. But don’t sleep on Torabhaig, a rather fledgling Isle of Skye distillery making a name via its Legacy Series. Distilling its first whisky only in January of 2017, Torabhaig mitigates the relative youth of their Allt Gleann expression by releasing it unproofed, allowing the smoke and brine to take center stage. This is the final release of the Allt Gleann line, named after the rivers that feed the distillery’s stills, so they’re bringing the heat at a potent, but not too torid, 61.1% ABV. Unlike some of the more aged single malts you’ll find on top shelves, the entry level Torabhaig ‘Allt Gleann Batch Strength’ offers significantly more approachability with its $89 SRP.

Cigar Pairing: Delight your senses with a pairing of Torabhaig 'Allt Gleann Batch Strength' Single Malt Whisky and Ozgener Aramas. Experience the harmonious blend of floral, smoke, and brine, accompanied by a subtle hint of lemon meringue on the palate. An indulgent experience awaits.


About the author: A 20-year veteran journalist covering music (Rolling Stone, Billboard, NYLON), high-end automotive (WIRED, Maxim, Automobile) and luxury travel (VICE, The Guardian, Cool Hunting), Nicolas has grown increasingly obsessed with the world of top-shelf liquor. He shares his favorite findings via his annual Best in American Whiskey Awards and Spirit of the Week column for MAXIM, and his @BoozeOftheDay Instagram project. For the pages of Cigora, Nicolas hopes to share some of his most unique discoveries for those both passionately curious and with discriminating tastes — for cigars or simply life itself. Follow him on the Gram at @nickstecher and @boozeoftheday.

1 Reply 1

Petite Corona

Great post!