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!


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!

My Business Concept – Leaf & Barrel Cigars & Whiskey

The other day I sat around and wrote this as a note on my Facebook page. I think I might be onto something here. Maybe I’m just kind of crazy for thinking this is legitimate but maybe someone else might have some input? By all means I’m open to suggestions for improvement as I won’t be in a position to launch this for some time yet.


If I were to be totally honest with myself, comparing where I’m at now to two years ago not much has changed other than I actually have money on account of actually having a decent paying job. Yeah, it was a stroke of luck that I got in where I’m at now (even despite the fact that the people who got me in were terminated shortly after) but I’m still as miserable as ever. Even with looking at a potential transfer and major pay increase, well you know what they say about money and its ability to buy relief from suffering (or lack thereof).

In course of my time at the company, though the money has been a huge blessing in its own way (life has definitely been easier not being flat broke all the time, even if I am still miserable), I’ve come to realize that I will never be happy working for or under someone else. Being told what to do, how to dress, to cover my tattoos and/or remove my piercings, etc. just does not fly with me. I’m too much of a free and independent spirit to be boxed in that way. I’m sick of it all. I really am.

With this realization I got to thinking how I could break out of all that bullshit and do my own thing. I’ve tried doing horology but there’s just not enough market for it anymore for it to be a sustainable business so that’s not really an option. So as the wheels got turning one night and I was indulging in my nightly ritual of a cigar and a Scotch it just dawned on me – I love cigars, I love whiskey, let’s marry the two concepts together into one! You have cigar bars and whiskey bars but I don’t know as though I’ve ever seen the two in the same setting. That was the tiny spark of a big idea that set the concept of Leaf & Barrel in motion.

Leaf & Barrel (name suggested by a very good Canadian friend of mine as not only a descriptor of the business model but also a play on my initials) would take my love of fine cigars and whiskeys and bring them together. The business would consist of two elements – a brick and mortar retail store and a bar/lounge.

The retail store would focus on fine cigars and various types of whiskies and would feature a large climate controlled room with ready-to-smoke cigars to be sold by singles or in bundles as well as a variety of Scotches, Bourbons, Irish Whiskeys, Canadian Whiskeys, etc. to suit all palates and price points. It would also feature as side items such things as microbrew beers and fine wines as well as pipe tobaccos and smoking accessories. The non-alcohol drinkers would not be left out and would have a selection of coffees and teas to choose from.

The bar/lounge side of things would be a relaxed, casual kind of speakeasy atmosphere. The room would have state-of-the-art ventillation so that cigars and pipe tobaccos purchased from the retail store would be allowed to be smoked (no cigarettes or outside tobacco though) as well as any beverages purchased from the retail section (no outside alcohol/coffee/tea). For those unsure of what they want drink-wise, we’d offer single shots of our whiskeys and tasters of our wines/beers at a reasonable cost (not the exorbitant amount charged by most bars) as well as bottomless ready-made coffee/tea for reasonable cost. No food would be served but outside food would be allowed in.

There will be no TVs or anything of the sort and I’m still debating on having Wi-Fi or not (though online music/video streamers would be relegated to earbuds). Maybe just some easy-listening background music. We’d have tables for people to play cards, maybe a checker/chess table or two and a pool table or two. The goal would be to unplug from the demands of everyday life and just chill for awhile and get back to being human and friends again. We’d be all inclusive and welcome everyone, regardless of race, sex, religion, origin, sexual orientation, gender identity (and that includes the right to use the bathroom that aligns with your gender identity!), neurotype, disability, social status or anything else and any offender to that inclusivity policy would be immediately dealt with and removed.

Ideally I’m thinking for a location have a ground level, a loft and maybe a basement. Of course, the loft would be the bar/lounge section as smoke could waft up and out and then ground level the retail store. A basement would be nice so I could live where I work (being single and no kids and that never changing, that would be the best possible situation for me).

Of course, Abilene is not the place that would support such a concept or my inclusivity policy. I’d have to find some place else a little more progressive and open-minded but I think I’m onto a winning idea here. It’s just finding out where and how to get this going. I’m still a couple of years away from even being able to think about getting this together as I still have a bankruptcy on my record and good luck getting a business loan but I can start assembling my vision now I think. This is why I’m writing this down so I can revisit and make slight modifications as necessary.

I realize this would be purely a labor of love. I’d be leaving behind a good-paying drafting career for being a broke-ass hippy but that’s OK. You can’t put a price on contentment and satisfaction and money is just an empty promise – it’s not going to bring that. I know I will never be happy as happiness is not an emotion I’m capable of feeling, but all I seek is relief from suffering and when I’m indulging in my vices is when I’m most at peace (well, either that or when I’m being tattooed but I can’t do that all the time).

Whatever the case, I know I’m dreaming at least for the time being. But maybe someday this dream will become a reality. If I can’t fly for a living as per my true dream, well, the least I can ask for is to be paid to indulge in my vices, right?