Monday, November 12, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #196


Chieftain's Cigar Malt Classic (2007)
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
54.4% abv

£68


Yeah, baby. Light 'em up, smoke 'em if you got 'em, etc.

This week we'll be hitting Malt Mission #200 and to mark the occasion we'll be looking at whiskies well suited to accompany cigars... not that I smoke, but it seems that many people smoke when they celebrate and I have a few appropriate malts on the shelf so I figured it was as good a theme as any.

The truth is, I am not very fond of cigars and find the concept of matching something that impairs your taste/fills your mouth with smoke and tar with something best enjoyed with an attentive palate a bit puzzling. That being said, many folks love this combination and it must be acknowledged that "unwinding" with a cigar and a whisky is a common practice; it is a classic image we have of whisky drinkers, especially older male whisky drinkers, whether or not it be accurate. I have been told by many respected whisky folks that the combination of whisky and cigars can be very complimentary, but when I have tried to combine them I've found that the cigar spoiled my enjoyment of my whisky. Only the most pronounced characteristics could be detected and thus all the charm and subtlety I love about enjoying whisky was lost... on me. I do love the smell of tobacco and used to enjoy visiting Royal Mile Whiskies and The Cigar Box in Edinburgh for the smells if nothing else. Burning the stuff is a different story, but to each their own.

Chieftain's is brand within Ian Macleod Distillers group and the Cigar Malt range has been through 4 previous editions. Early this year, with the smoking bans in Scotland well in place and the ban in England imminent, Ian Macleod Distillers invited whisky and cigar writers and retailers to Berwick, just south of the Scottish border, for the chance to smoke and taste their way through cask samples with the aim of selecting the best drops for release as Chieftains Cigar Malts in 2007. We will be tasting the trio over the next 3 days.

This is a 13-year-old limited release of 618 bottles and has been finished in ex-Chateau La Nerthe casks. Chateau La Nerthe is one of the oldest estates in Chateauneuf de Pape. It should be noted that I will NOT be tasting these with cigars. I might do so this weekend and will let you know if I have any further observations. Otherwise, I will leave the cigar-and-whisky commentary to the experts.

TASTING NOTES:

I often avoid describing colour, but in this case it is worth noting a new-copper tint, slightly pink. Very creamy, butter, jam, crumpets; trés Anglais. Butterscotch or toffee, soft-serve vanilla ice cream, and some corn. Water really sweetens this up and brings out more grassy-type of aromas. Hay, cinnamon and lemongrass.

Mmm, sweet and sour with a pleasant mouth-coating quality. Hot and exciting, under-ripe fruits, hard kiwis, green bananas. With water the creaminess in both texture and flavour becomes enhanced.

SUMMARY:

Big and sumptuous with sweet and sour extremes keeping an enjoyable, and balanced, flavour experience. With time, the nose get more and more sour (lactic sour, not crabapple sour) and I really enjoyed that. The taste remained fruity and chewy. The grip is extremely pleasing to my drinking experience, and I imagine it would be a positive feature for cigar-matching.

Malt Mission #195
Malt Mission #197
Malt Mission #198
Malt Mission #199
Malt Mission #200

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1 comment:

No. 0003 said...

Mmmm sounds good. Might I add that for those who enjoy a smoke with their malt a pipe offers even more matching combinations - you could have a sweet Virginia with a floral Speysider or a heavy Latakia English mixture with a peaty Islay for example...

I have to admit cigars have more "cool factor" but if you are unmoved by the caprice of fashion give the pipe a try.