PIC OF THE WEEKEND :: The Good Life – A Pre Dinner Stogie and Single Malt

by Harvey Gold on September 14, 2012

Ashtray courtesy of the Westwood Marquis

Finished off a picture perfect end-of-summer day with a pre-dinner sit outside, a wee dram of Mortlach 15 Speyside Single Malt Scotch poured and a Cohiba Black Pequeño in my hand.

This Mortlach, bottled and distributed by Gordon & MacPhail, is a caramel colored and flavored, sweet, but not cloying whiskey. I’m very much an Islay man, but have certainly enjoyed many Highlands. In fact, I recently revisited one of my very first single malts, The Macallan 12, one I had abandoned as not “being interesting enough,” and found it, coming back on the roundabout, to be sweet and delicious, just as it was when we were first introduced.

Mortlach, a single malt, if I am to believe a couple Scots I enjoyed a few drams and a pint with in Gourock this last Spring, is only exported, which would explain the different versions from different sources I’ve seen here in the states. I’ve mistakenly, as it turns out, purchased one NOT from Gordon & MacPhail and found it to be very, very different, much lighter in color, with more of an alcohol cut to it’s presence, and just not very distinguished, so be careful to get the Gordon & MacPhail offering, as this one is absolutely delicious.

My first couple times in Paris, the Missus and I traveling with Chef Joe and his much better half, we ran to the Tabac and bought a box of Cuban Monte Cristos (4s or 5s… can’t recall). I was a big cigarette smoker at the time and while I loved that daily post dinner walk & smoke, they were big on the bite and, along with my butts, it got to be a little too hot and too peppery. The next time, we went with Cohibas, and while they were tasty and mild, there were moments I would have liked to have split the difference.

These Cohiba Blacks seem to do the trick, perhaps because of the dark Connecticut broadleaf wrapper, perhaps not. As there isn’t a truly useful website for Cohiba (some good notes, but all from retailers and wholesalers) we look to our resident expert, Anthony Bellatto from Havana House to weigh in here and help explain why these seem to walk a nice balance between spicy and mild:

Nice pick with pairing the little Cohiba’s with the Scotch. I picked one up and smoked it after reading this, as to better explain what you are experiencing. Typically the Connecticut Broadleaf in any cigar will give you the sweet and and caramel notes that you taste, and be somewhat mild. In addition when I dry drew the cigar (pre-light), I could taste a slight booziness which would match quite well with the Scotch. The nice thing about the little Cohiba is that they are hand made and long filler. The Dominican filler is adding the spicy notes of pepper and cedar, making this a pretty well balanced little guy. As you know, most things in life are about balance, and this is without exception. Next time, try a Tatuaje Brown label Noella, or an Illusione Epernay Le Petite, both small batch production and an extreme focus on quality.

We WILL try these smokes with appropriate beverage combos and report in. If you want to continue this line of conversation with Tony Bellatto, you can write us here or reach him directly at The Havana House.

A wonderful combo of a smooth but peppery cigar and a round, caramely single malt on a picture perfect day.

PS – A beautiful Sunday, pre lawn mow: Just finished up a card game outside, this time, staying in the Highlands by pairing up another Cohiba Black with, given to me by my son-in-law, a tasty, sweet Glenlivet French Oak Reserve 15. Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s the day, but it contrasted the Cohiba even a little more delightfully than the Mortlach. Delicious.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

admin September 14, 2012 at 12:15 pm

So after posting this, I started seeing notes about how the Mortlach 15 is “hard to find outside Scotland” and others, frankly, selling it for Pounds Sterling. This would throw the assertion of my possibly tipsy new friends on the River Clyde into doubt. Maybe you can get it elsewhere in the UK, but not Scotland proper…. or maybe you CAN get it in Scotland! I know not at present, but still, when sent over here, more than one bottler has done so and I still hold with the caution to go only with the Gordon & MacPhail version.


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