Since the beginning of Cigars & Spirits I have wanted to pair this scotch. I’d heard really great things about it and people seemed to love pairing it with their cigars. Based on the flavour profiles I chose the cigar. I needed something dark in flavours but not too powerful in order to enjoy this pair to the end.
About Aberlour A’bunadh – batch 44
The story goes that in 1975 as Aberlour installed their second pair of stills a time capsule was discovered hidden behind a name plate. The time capsule contained an 1898 newspaper about the fire at the distillery along with an 1898 bottle of Aberlour. The workers who found it set to work at some research, drinking around 80% of the bottle before deciding they should had the bottle in. The remains were brought to the laboratories in Kieth to be analyzed. A’bunadh, Gaelic for ‘of the origin’, is an attempt to recreate the original single malt.
Each batch of this whisky is blended from barrels ranging from 5 to 25 years old and ranges in alcohol percent from a whopping 58% to a staggering 61%! It is exclusively aged in Spanish oak Oloroso sherry butts which imparts a sweeter, softer flavour than most scotches. A’bunadh is not chill filtered. with no water or colour added.
Because alcohol at this level has a noticeable anaesthetizing affect I chose to present this pair with 1tsp of distilled water in a 2oz serving of the scotch.
The flavours are of orange, black cherries and bitter chocolate. Each batch is slightly different though so do your research ahead of time! For a really great review on this scotch check out Ralfy on YouTube and subscribe. His videos are an exceptionally good resource. His review on batch 42 is at the bottom of this review.
About Rocky Patel Vintage 1990
This cigar has a mind numbing 23 year old Honduran Broadleaf maduro wrapper. It is box-pressed, with Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers. It has a good “balance of flavor, complexity, and richness” with “notes of cedar and espresso.” This line was dubbed the Best of the Best in the 2004 Robb Report.
I’ve heard from people in the industry and read on the forums rumors like “there’s no way they’re that old” or using quotes around the ages. I’ve even heard some manufacturers in the industry question the real age. Here’s the back story on it and the 1992, both released in 2003:
“Both the 90 and the 92 Vintages are made in Danli, Honduras with tobacco that was meant for Astral cigars (Introduced in 1995, Astral cigars are one of the cigar boom’s biggest success stories. Astral cigars were in development for over 3 years. Made by the same people who make Don Thomas). In the mid nineties U.S. Cigar (which I think doesn’t exist anymore) thought Astral would become the next Montecristo and stockpiled bales of wrapper leaf in its warehouses. A large quantity of this never made it to market, and sat quietly ignored, gracefully aging and awaiting its fate. Patel came across it and snapped it up after discovering its quality. There were two types of leaf in the stockpile: Ecuadoran Sumatra from 1992 and Honduran broadleaf from 1990.”
The general concensus is that these cigars are this age. They’re not just “1990” as in a style, but are actually of that age.
Rakesh “Rocky” Patel introduced the Indian Tabac blend in the mid 1990s. He was originally a Hollywood attorney who represented several big actors. Patel was exposed to cigar smoking by spending time with the actors between takes. He sold his legal practice and spent five years in Honduras working and learning the cigar trade, including field and barn work. In 2002, the company changed its name from Indian Tabac to Rocky Patel Premium Cigars.
This cigar is painted which is immediately a turn-off for us. We also did a wrapper test on this guy and the flavour was really unenjoyable without this wrapper. But altogether, it works and is a decent cigar. The flavours are of cherry and caramel followed up by cedar and espresso. These notes were exactly what I wanted to go with this drink.
About the pair
This was a tricky pair to decide if we would recommend it or not. Two pairing members are not really “into” drinks as strong as this while two really are. None of us are really “into” Rocky Patel much but I felt like this cigar was still the right one with this drink. It took some putting aside of our individual preferences to say “if this is my cigar of choice, is this the right drink for it?”
And I think the answer really was yes, this is the right combination. The flavours went well together and complimented each other quite nicely. The strengths worked well with each other where as more nicotine would have negatively affected the experiences, and a light flavour would have simply been lost.
I would say that if the 1990 vintage is your cigar, this is your drink! Enjoy!