Recently I was able to travel to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and experience a bit of the culture out there. This beautiful island is made of a fantastic mosaic of the cultures that founded it – Scottish, Mi’kmaq, Acadian, Irish, and English. Naturally, it was only a matter of time until Scottish insisted on founding a distillery that brewed single malt whisky in their ancestors traditions. 1989: Glenora Distillery enters the scene.

The Drink: Glen Breton Rare 10 Year Single Malt Whisky

When I found out that Cape Breton had managed to distill its own single malt whisky, I was excited to try it.  Not because I expected anything spectacular, but because it represented the heritage of a people who helped found part of our nation.  Even though it does not identify itself as Scotch, nor could it not being from Scotland, Glenora distillery entered a legal battle in 2004 against the Scotch Whisky Association who objected to the use of the word “Glen” in the product name.  A glen is simply a valley.  This distillery is in Glenville, which neighbours Glenora, and the water is sourced from the Glenora Falls.  There are in fact 34 communities in Nova Scotia containing the name “Glen”, all of which were founded by Scotts in the 1800s.  Needless to say, the won the battle.

In the glass this drink is a very pale yellow.  It’s oily and yet has some very short legs.  On the nose, a sweet toffee, very fruity – apples – and very floral.  On the palate, burnt sugars and toffee give way to a malty citrus finish on the tongue.  There’s some beautiful white grape acidity in there as well.  The finish is medium in length but that malt remains present on the tongue a bit longer.

Does this taste like a highlands?  No.  Islay?  Definitely not.  Lowlands?  Maybe.  A bit more like an Irish Whisky to me.  It’s quite light but it’s tasty.  To compare it to Scotch is the wrong way to think – especially coming from a distillery with only a few decades behind it, and this being only a 10 year old whisky.  I look forward to future versions.

The Cigar: Vegueros Entretiempos

I chose to pair this with a Cuban cigar because of its roots as a Scottish-like whisky (still definitely not a Scotch).  But because the flavour wasn’t incredibly complex, I wanted a simpler cigar.  The Vegueros line is all small vitolas and is an affordable Cuban.

The cigar itself is very well made and has shown to be a reliable stick, but can typically do with some time in the humidor before smoking them – around 6 months.  Mine have been resting already.  These are a straight forward, earthy-tobacco stick, with a fairly pronounced Cuban “twang” overarching the whole thing.  So, what drink goes with a Vegueros? Is this it?

The Pair

GlenBretonPairThis pair worked great for me.  The cigar became woodier and more well rounded.  The whisky brought that twang under control and made it taste like a more expensive cigar.

Similarly, the whisky becomes smokier and fuller, and begins to taste more like a highland Scotch at this point.  This is a pair that increases the enjoyability of each component which is exactly what you want!  Having it on the island of Nova Scotia watching the sunset gave it a whole new level of enjoyment as well.

Give it a try and let us know what you think!

– David