Friday, July 27, 2012

Tobacco and Whiskey - Indulgent Pairing

For quite a few years, I've enjoyed my pipe while sitting on the front porch during temperate times of the year.  A few years back a good friend of mine piqued my interest in cigars and I was hooked.  Unfortunately, my pipe took a back seat for a spell until recently and I found that I missed the mellow times pipe smoking brings.

I've paired tobacco and whiskey together whether it be cigars or pipe on a regular basis and thoroughly enjoy the combination.  There's no right or wrong pairing when selecting a whiskey or tobacco, it's really whatever you happen to like, but it's also fun trying various combinations that may be better than others.  In the end, this double indulgence provides a time of relaxation, reflection and pure gratification.  The one bit of advice I do offer, and again, this comes down to preference, is paring a whiskey that is not cask strength when smoking a pipe.  The high ABV will impact the palate minimizing your ability to enjoy the subtle nature of the pipe tobacco.

For this post, I'll focus more on pipe tobacco.  There's a very broad selection of pipe tobacco and the topic would take far to long to articulate here.  There are numerous resources on the web if you're interested in researching.

Growing up, my Father smoked a pipe and I always remembered the sweet aroma that lingered in the room or car as he puffed away.  Unfortunately, my Mother was not a fan and my Father eventually gave up smoking and gave his pipes away.....a real shame that I don't have some of his pipes today.

When someone asks me to make recommendations on cigars and they are new to smoking, I recommend something mild that has a light wrapper and little to no Ligero as this particular leaf adds strength to a cigar.  For pipe tobacco, the selections are almost endless.  There are a number of tobacco's that have higher nicotine content which can provide the same physical effects as a Ligero cigar......a good sucker punch to the gut.

I won't recommend anything here but will point you to a good website that has a deep database of user reviews at

I have about 15 various selections and I recently picked up a couple more.  Last night I enjoyed one of the new acquisitions; Dunhill Navy Rolls.  While this is a Dunhill offering (Dunhill is a UK company), the blend comes from Orlik Tobacco Company in the Netherlands.  This tobacco is labeled as medium in strength and very mild in flavor.   Navy Rolls is a Virginia tobacco blended with Perique.  The tobacco itself was coin rolled, not loose, which required the added job of breaking apart the coin before loading the pipe.  Overall, an enjoyable smoke that exhibited a sweetness which comes from the Virginia tobacco and a spice on the finish that comes from the Perique.

With this smoke, I paired a low proof Bruichladdich 15 year 2nd Edition (I's an Islay and I said I didn't like those.....).  The 'Laddie exhibited a profile of summer fruits, very mild peat, and a nice viscosity promoting a creamy mouthfeel.  The whisky spent 15 years in used Bourbon Casks and then another 26 weeks in Sauternes Casks imparting an additional layer of sweetness; an exceptional dram.

Connemara Peated - Blind Tasting

When selecting whiskies for the Irish tasting, I purposely picked a peated expression in order to have a selection that deviated from the more standard Irish profile.  The Connemara is a peat monster; at least to my palate.  This particular expression is double distilled (rather than triple distilled) and aged in oak casks and bottled at 80 proof.  This selection is from Cooley distillery and they offer a couple expressions of Connemara with this one being their base offering.

To be honest, I couldn't even finish this whiskey.  I was just too nasty for my palate since I'm not a lover of high peat content and this one was over the top for me.  The tasting panel was pretty split on this whiskey.  A little more than half liked it and the rest agreed with me.  Here are how the numbers stacked up:

95-100 Classic Whiskey  0
90-94 Excellent Whiskey  0
85-89 Very Good, Above Average Whiskey  5
80-84 Average Whiskey  2
75-79 Fair Whiskey  0
74 and Under - Pass on This Whiskey  4

If you like Scotch, particularly those from Islay, you may find this Irish agreeable.  Here are some comments from the tasters:

"An unpleasant nose dominated by rubber, with a little smoke and malt in the background. Bitter on the palate."

"Peat tea with honey, well balanced sweet and peaty elements. A nice flavor profile but a bit weak tasting.  The peat is lighter on the finish but still very present."

"Beautifully complex - drinks nicer and smoother than the nose would suggest (didn't much care for this nose on an Irish whiskey), finish that goes on and on - great legs on the glass - just enough warmth on the sip to add to the complexity of the entire greatly with the sweet woody taste."

"A nice medium mouthfeel, this is pleasantly different than what I was expecting; there’s a sweet smokiness that follows the nose with a pleasantly drying smokey finish that lasts a while."

Bottle comes packaged in 750ml and is priced around $40.  If you like Irish Whiskey and you like Peat....knock yourself out.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Fast and Furious

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm busy.  As I've mentioned, I own a Franchise and am in the process of opening my second location.  Most nights I'm buried deep in e-mails and paperwork until hitting the sack late.  I'm scheduled to open August 4th so I hope to get some breathing room after that.

I have a couple things stacked up to post:

Bowman 17 years cask - new release last month
Springbank Scotch
Personal barrel pick reviews
Irish Blind Tasting results
Pipe Tobacco - anybody else enjoy a good evening smoke?  I'll review a couple tobacco's I've enjoyed recently.

I do miss posting here on Bourbon Dork and hope to be back in full swing soon.  As I take a quick break to make this post, I am enjoying a Julio's release of Weller Centennial done back about 5 or 6 years ago.  Superb pour.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Bourbon Influx #2

Just received partial shipment of the barrel picks from last April.  Four boxes arrived Saturday with three different selections of Old Weller Antique; all single barrel. The last OWA we picked had just turned 8 years old a day or two prior to the barrel dump.  This time around they were approx. 7 yr 4 months old.  One of them in particular reminds me of an older Pappy 15. 

The three Four Roses Single Barrels were different recipes; OBSF, OESK and OESF, picked in that order by the group of tasters.  The OESK selection was a very short barrel.  In fact, Jim Rutledge didn't think it would actually yield much of anything.  He was almost right...we managed to pull 48 bottles from the barrel. The "F" yeast recipes are terrific.  I've opened the OESF and it's got a big fruity profile.  

Have not received the selections from KBD and we're still working a possible selection from Heaven Hill that would be a barrel from the Parkers Heritage line of wheaters. 

I haven't opened and tasted everything yet but what I have opened is top shelf.  I'll post tasting notes later.