Scotch Review: Deanston Bordeaux Red Wine Cask Matured


As promised, here is my review of the holiday gift I received from my parents.

This is a cask-strength single malt Scotch from Perthshire. This particular batch weighs in at 58.7% ABV, true to form and, as in the name, is aged in Bordeaux casks.

Pour is a deep copper color with streaks of red and chestnut brown. Nose of caramel, vanilla, honey and definite red wine and oak. Red wine up front. Vanilla, dark chocolate, oak, molasses some orange zest. Tannins round out the finish. Notes apricot brandy on the aftertaste and a big alcohol burn along with come cinnamon and ginger.

A truly delicious sipping Scotch, pair this with a hefty, full-bodied cigar. My selection was the previously reviewed Blanco Liga Exclusiva de Familia Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro and it was a beautiful pairing. Rating: 4.75/5.

Have you had this dram? Let me know what you thought!


Scotch Review: Ardbeg Uigeadail

Tonight I’m bringing you all a Scotch review! Hope you enjoy and hope this gets your interest up!

This peated cask strength single malt comes from Ardbeg in the Islay region of Scotland. As with every cask strength whisky, it varies in ABV but this batch comes in at 54.2%.

Goldenrod color on the pour. Very peaty/smoky on the nose with tones of oak, toffee and a fruity note I can’t quite put my finger on – maybe honeydew melon? Attack is bold and hot with alcohol astringency, substantial peat, caramel and a hint of dark chocolate. Finish is very hot and white long with tones of smoke, orange zest and hot cinnamon.

A solid cask strength dram. Not my favorite but very good to have with a nice strong cigar. Had a Padron Delicias in Maduro when pairing for review but would do well with other similar sticks. Rating: 4.25/5.

Cigar/Scotch Review: Oliva Connecticut Reserve and Aberlour A’Bunadh

Welcome back. Today we are going to take a look at a couple of rather interesting products that are pretty much on total opposite ends of the spectrum but are excellent in their own right. We shall start with the topic of today’s cigar review, which was recommended to me by the employee stocking the walk-inumidor  at Spec’s in Downtown Dallas when I went for a beer and liquor run (and that I’d have never picked up on my own otherwise).

Oliva Connecticut Reserve

This offering from Oliva features, predictably, a claro shade Connecticut wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and filler. The size reviewed here is a 7″ x 50RG Churchill. It’s billed as a mild but complex cigar, but is it? Let’s find out!

The first light revealed a perfect draw producing a large volume of smoke. Medium body out of the gate with a zesty wood and pepper, not too unusual of a start to a Connecticut cigar but with more substance.

Getting into the first third the body settles to mellow mild/medium and gets very creamy with a natural sweetness that sometimes has a vanilla connotation. There is also a subtle, fleeting cocoa on the draw. The woody note loses its initial bite and takes on a very light, bright cedar, particularly on the retrohale. Consistent flavors start to finish while the body waffles between a mild/medium and a medium – one draw seems to be stronger/weaker than the next for some reason. Ending at 1 hour 20 minutes for a slightly fast burn time for a Churchill but not at all unusual for a Connecticut blend. No detectable nicotine strength.

Flawless construction with a razor sharp burn while the ash hold on solidly for about an inch and a half at a time.

Honestly, this cigar reminded me a lot of the previously reviewed Padron Damaso at half the price. It’s still rather expensive for a milder cigar IMO (about $6-9/stick depending on vitola) but it’s definitely a notch above a vast majority of Connecticuts in terms of flavor and complexity. This would be a perfect cigar to start your day along with a cup of coffee.  Rating: 4/5.

Aberlour A’Bunadh

This single-malt Scotch from Aberlour distillery is aged in sherry casks and bottled at cask strength. The batch reviewed here weighs in at 61.1% ABV (122 proof).

Appearance is a deep, rich honey color and leaves substantial lacing when swirled in the glass. Aromas of sherry, honey, brown sugar and dark fruit on the nose, along with a hint of anise and licorice. The attack features flavors of toffee, orange/citrus, molasses and dark chocolate. A sweet cinnamon/nutmeg spice on the middle of the palate followed by a full-flavored, warming, oaky finish supported by the sherry cask maturation. A subtle black cherry note comes out as the long finish starts to fade. Very thick on the palate, almost syrupy.

This was an absolutely mouthwatering Scotch and one I’d recommend to all Scotch drinkers, whether or not you tend to prefer cask strength. You just can’t go wrong with it and it’s priced competitively in terms of cask strength Scotches. Pair with a full-bodied, heavy, dessert-like cigar for best results (the previously reviewed Marrero Fuerte pictured above with the Scotch was a match made in absolute heaven). Rating: 5/5.

Have you had either of today’s selections? Let me know what you thought in the comments!

Cigar & Scotch Review – Marrero Flor de Nino and Alexander Murray Dalmore 15 Year Cask Strength

Welcome to a special edition of some alcohol & tobacco reviews. Today we’re featuring a Scotch and a cigar as opposed to the usual microbrew beer. I don’t review Scotches often as I only usually buy a bottle at a time but it was time for a new bottle today so we’re going to mix it up with one. Let’s start with the cigar review.

Marrero Flor de Nino

This 6″ x 54RG Box Pressed Torpedo features a Habano Oscuro wrapper over an Ecuadorian binder and trade secret long fillers (not listed on the website).

Two cuts with the perfect cutter opened the draw up to perfect putting off tons of smoke. Full body out of the gate with big blasts of dark roast coffee and creamy leather on the draw followed by an aromatic cedar and pepper retrohale. Very thick, heavy smoke.

The first third dials down slightly to medium/full body as the initial pepper blast tapers off slightly. This allows a nice milk chocolate to enter into the draw. This same complex flavor profile remained into the 2nd third with the only change being the introduction of strength early on – already up to a medium at the halfway point. The final third still had no changes to the flavor profile with the strength ramping up to medium/full, matching the body so it has quite a punch. Ending at 1 hour 10 minutes for a very good burn time for a Robusto+/Toro- sized stick (after cutting the taper).

Construction was good. It did require a couple of rather large touch-ups early on but I expected that out of such a thick Oscuro wrapper with a large-ish ring gauge. The latter half burned razor sharp. Ash holds on in nice solid 1/3 chunks.

A very good cigar indeed. I do think I prefer the previously reviewed Fuerte slightly over this one but it’s still a good cigar at a good price point. It paired beautifully with today’s Scotch. Rating: 4.25/5.

And now for today’s Scotch:

Alexander Murray Dalmore 15 Year Cask Strength

This cask strength Scotch from the Dalmore distillery is aged 15 years in oak casks and bottled at 55.6% ABV.

The appearance is that of a rich caramel color that leaves plenty of lacing when swirled. Spicy aroma consisting of cinnamon and nutmeg over a floral and toffee base. The attack features a sweet brown sugar, vanilla dark fruit supported by a pleasant but not overbearing oak note. The finish matches the nose with its sweet spice of cinnamon and nutmeg. The finish is very long and with a big burn going down but without any harshness.

A very good dram. It is rather pricy but worth it. It paired beautifully with the aforementioned cigar and would be a great pairing for many full bodied, robust smokes. Also good for an after-dinner dram. Very impressive. Rating: 4.75/5.

So there you have it. Have you tried either? Let me know what you thought.

Scotch Review: Glengoyne Cask Strength

I love beer and drink more than my fair share but Scotch is my first love. Perhaps it’s by baptism into pipe band culture or perhaps it’s the little bit of Scottish blood that runs in these veins (I am a Blair after all; adopted mind you ;-)) and let’s face it; nothing goes better with a cigar than a good single-malt Scotch. Of course, as with everything food and drink wise, I like bold flavors so naturally I prefer cask strength Scotches (i.e. Scotch straight from cask to bottle without the addition of distilled water to bring it down to a specified proof/ABV).

This particular batch came out to 58.8% ABV (note cask strength Scotches vary a lot) so it has the pedigree of a good cask but does it have the flavor?

The appearance is a beautiful dark copper color. The nose is greeted with a wonderful bouquet of butterscotch, banana, vanilla and a hint of floral esters. As is to be expected, a fair bit of astringency as well. The initial flavor is a smooth medium bodied caramel and banana with a touch of brown sugar. This gives way into a full bodied finish of a balanced peppery and smoky note (but not like peat – just general smokiness) while the butterscotch and vanilla enter back into the mix. The finish is long and warm, lasting well until the next sip.

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect for the price point (I paid $75 from a place called Spec’s here in Dallas). I’m honestly quite impressed. It’s a unique Scotch for sure; never experienced this flavor combination but I dig it. I’d describe it as dessert-like for sure – definitely something to have after dinner. For suggested cigar pairings, go for something smooth and rich like a Rocky Patel Royale, Padron 1964 Natural, CO Final Third or an All Out Kings.

This is definitely one I’ll be keeping in my liquor cabinet. Rating: 4.5/5.

Scotch Review: Glenlivet Peated Nadurra


I think this might be the first Scotch review on this site. That’s OK; it’s about damn time!

I’ll be the first to admit I love, love, LOVE a good single-malt Scotch. I got turned onto it before I was of legal drinking age when I joined a pipe band and was baptized by fire into it. It was love at first sip and I’ve been in love ever since.

I have a particular liking for so-called “cask strength” Scotches. Most are diluted down to a proof of the maker’s desire (but with a minimum of 80 proof) with distilled water. Cask strength Scotches are not – they go straight from the cask to the bottle, hence resulting in a higher and variable ABV from batch to batch.

As such, needless to say Glenlivet Nadurra has always been a favorite of mine. Rich, full-bodied and hot finish, it’s always satisfied me. For the first time since being released, I’ve now found this peated version of it locally and I just had to try it. This particular batch is 61.5% ABV. Here’s the description on the bottle:


So going into it, what I was expecting was Nadurra with a coloration of peaty smokiness. Lo and behold, I was exactly right.

Color is a beautiful golden amber. Leaves lots of lacing on the glass when swirled. The nose was immediately met with the characteristic burn of a cask-strength Scotch with overtones of citrus, vanilla and, predictably, peat. The attack is greeted with a rich honey sweetness and a subtle spiciness with a touch of fruitness. Beautiful smoky/peaty and hot finish with the ever slightest hint of dark chocolate. You can feel this one in your sinuses.

I would say I like this one even a little bit better than the regular Nadurra. It’s got the peat but it’s not so heavily peated as to be offputting to those who don’t prefer super peaty Scotch. I’d describe it as very well-rounded. This would go beautifully with a Padron 1926 Maduro, Blanco Nine Lancero or a CO Final Third cigar.

I absolutely love this Scotch. It’s everything I love about the Nadurra but the peat adds a little something extra to it. Of course, I love peated Scotch and non-peated both and this one kind of gives you the best of both worlds. I can’t wait to pair it with a cigar.

Do yourself a favor and check this one out. Rating: 5/5.


Beer/Cigar Review Wednesday 3/15/17 – What’s Worse for You?

Beware the ides of March and welcome to beer/cigar review Wednesday. Unfortunately I still have nothing really new to review, so for today we’re just going to take a look at another aspect of a couple of my favorite things: namely the health effects.

Let me be perfectly clear here: I know alcohol and cigars aren’t the healthiest things for you. Whereas the former has some heart health benefits in moderation, there’s practically nothing good for you about cigars. I know this. That said, the way I see it is everything is a tradeoff.

I am what most would consider a fairly heavy drinker (my normal is about 3-4 standard drinks/day given I prefer higher ABV beers and higher proof Scotch) an a light to moderate cigar smoker (no more than 1-2 cigars/day). I am not dependent on either alcohol nor nicotine and can and have laid off of them if the situation required me to do so.

For me, my love of beer, Scotch and cigars is more about the flavors, the relaxation and the overall experience. I have my alcoholic beverages of choice and my cigars for that reason only. Sure, the psychoactive effects of the alcohol and nicotine are part of the experience and rounds out the package but that isn’t my primary purpose.

Even so, I realize that I am taking somewhat of a risk here, but it is a very calculated risk. I’m very well aware that I am increasing my risk of certain cancers (oral, stomach, etc.) as well as my risk of cirrhosis and such. I also know that alcoholic beverages are high in calories (something I am mindful of and adjust for in my daily food intake). That said, when you step back and think of it, which is worse for you? Alcohol and cigars or stress? I think even most doctors would agree that stress is many times worse for your health. Stroking out, heart attacks, high blood pressure and even mental illness can come about due to excessive level of stress.

Hence, a calculated risk. My daily drink(s) and cigar(s) go a long way to reducing my stress levels and though I drink more than the recommended daily amount of alcohol I don’t go absolutely crazy and I don’t smoke enough cigars for it to have that substantial of an effect on my health (actually even the FDA has admitted 1-2 cigars per day has a negligible effect on health) so I’ll gladly take my chances with my vices.

So yes, enjoy your alcoholic beverages of choice and cigars/pipes in moderation, savor the experience and reap the overall net health benefits of reduced stress.

With that, time to go pour a dram and light up. Cheers, everyone!