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I was not impressed with a generously large dram of Cigar Malt that I was served last night at Paddy's in Portland. The generosity of the dram impressed me, but the actual whisky did not.
E150 (artificial "carmel" coloring agent) in this dram last night was so strong in the glass that it ruined the whisky for me and even made me wonder if there was anything there to ruin. After all, if I'm not mistaken, the Cigar Malt is approximately 12 years old, and does not deserve the hyped up fanfare it has received as the "perfect" malt to drink while smoking a cigar.
Recently, I tasted traces of E150 in a glass of Bowmore Darkest. Well, I can confidently report to me that E150 was even more pronounced in the Dalmore. The flavor that I detected in both glasses in the past week was quite similar, and this leads me to believe that E150 can be tasted, especially when it is present in fairly high percentages as compared with other whiskies that use fake color (and flavor).
Considering that the Dalmore Cigar Malt costs $130 in Oregon, it is greatly overpriced, especially with the conspicuous presence of E150 in the bottle.
My verdict? E150 does indeed affect the palette and finish of both the Darkest and the Cigar Malt, but it is more pronounced in the Cigar Malt.
In all fairness, the nose of the Cigar Malt was very good indeed. Still, I wonder if I was smelling only the whisky or a bit of the coloring agent, as well? Who knows?
Nose: Artificially flavored caramel, Girl Scout shortbread cookies (which taste artificial to me with a chemical flavor), fine espresso, milk chocolate, and the presence of E150.
Palate: E150, burnt marshmellows, a bit of sherry, some dark chocolate, lake water, all spice.
Finish: E150, artificially flavored caramel, a touch of dried orange peel, pipe resin, toffee, wet musty oak leaves.
As for pairing this whisky with a cigar, I would not recommend it. Personally, I like a more refreshing and a less heavy whisky with a cigar, such as Glenfarclas 10 or 12 year, or Highland Park 12. The McTarnahan whisky (a 9.5 year Glenfarclas) is also quite nice. I certainly wouldn't pair a $130 bottle of scotch with a stogie, even if that bottle was worth $130, which the Cigar Malt is not.
Why waste a great whisky when you are coating your tongue with smoke that dulls your taste buds? This makes no sense to me. I can certainly see the value of drinking a fine scotch BEFORE smoking a cigar, but not during or immediately after. I suppose if you are well healed and rich, then anything goes. Me? I am a humble college professor. I can't throw away perfectly good money that way. It's against my nature.
When I smoke a cigar and drink a whisky, I always drink it on the rocks. Other than that, I rarely drink my whisky on the rocks. I like to drink Black Boss porter (from Poland) with cigars, as well. That is a nice pairing in my estimation.