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Dalmore Cigar Malt

Some whisky with your E150?

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RReview by @Rigmorole

27th Mar 2013


Dalmore Cigar Malt
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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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.

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Rigmorole commented

I also recommend using a single oversized ice cube rather than smaller cubes that melt quickly. I think any whisky drinker who likes his whisky (any bottle over $30) on the rocks occasionally, should consider using the bigger cube or a whisky stone in lieu of standard sized ice cubes. At any rate, it's always a good idea to run warm water over the entire ice cube before putting it into a whisky glass. This removes freezer burn, which can add a nasty flavor to any drink. I put my cube in a large glass, run in the water, remove the cube and then put it in my whisky glass in a "fresh" state with the outer layer of contaminated ice stripped bare.

11 years ago 0

YakLord commented

Interesting thought, re: the size of ice cubes. As for the whisky stones, I've never tried them, been dubious about their capability, and then found this experiment, conducted by a group in Toronto, ON: scotchblog.ca/scotch_blog/2013/…

11 years ago 0

hunggar commented

Interesting review. Quite scathing in regards to the colouration. I'm relatively new to breaking down whiskies, so forgive me if I sound like a noob, but I can't say I've ever really 'tasted' E150. I've certainly had my fair share of it before, but to be honest I probably wouldn't recognize it for being what it is. Supposedly it adds bitter notes to a whisky. Would you agree? In one of his reviews, Ralfy mentioned that the pre-existing character of a whisky goes a long way towards deciding whether or not the whisky can 'handle' it. Makes sense. But based on your notes here, I think I'll skip this one.

Sidenote: I came across this bottle in a local retailer. I looked it up when I got home. Apparently these guys have embraced the caramel colouring and taken it to a new level, intentionally overusing it to affect the flavour of the whisky. It's gimmicky, I know, and I have my doubts about how good it is, but I have to admit I'm curious...


11 years ago 0

YakLord commented

@hunggar - look up the review for Loch Dhu here on connosr, and you'll see what adding too much caramel colouring can do to a whisky...I've never personally tried the Loch Dhu, but my understanding is that the Cu Dhub is often referred to as "Son of Loch Dhu"...

11 years ago 0

DaveM commented

What I find disingenuous about Dalmore is that this distillery wants to take the bulk of their whiskies and make them upscale in price. Yet Dalmore is one of the biggest offenders in using E150a coloring.

11 years ago 0