Late in 2012 at an auction held in London, a handful of 1980s Cuban Dunhill Estupendos sold for over $1,000 per cigar! The 1983 version of that cigar was rated a whopping 100 by Cigar Aficionado. In other words, it doesn’t get better than that! That’s a perfect setup for pairing pairing whisky and cigars.
Since the award winning cigars of the early 80s however, the superlative brand has been sold several times and moved out of Cuba altogether. The Dunhill of today is not the same cigar by any stretch of the imagination. However when I saw the rebranded look of The Signed Range of cigars in their matte black tubos, I had to try and it. And if I have to smoke it, you know I have to pair it!
The Drink: Glenfiddich 14 Year Old Rich Oak
This divergent whisky starts off with an atypical age that only a handful of whisky producers release their scotch at. Glenfiddich seems to enjoy doing this by also having a 15 year old. Does 2 years or even 1 year make much of a difference? In this case it does.
The unique process of aging see this scotch develop for 14 years in fine American oak casks, at which point it is transferred into virgin American and Spanish oak barrels for an extra round of maturing, developing new notes of vanilla, toffee, and nuts into the spirit.
In the glass the drink is a beautiful amber with long thick legs. On the nose – great sweet notes of wood and nut and a sweet smoke. Once in the mouth, a splash of candied cherries, orange rind, and sweetness compliment a generous serving of oak.
The Cigar: Dunhill The Signed Range Robusto
This line was first released in 2001, manufactured in the Dominican Republic by Cuevas & Toraño, two now-iconic names in the industry. The used to be comprised of an Ecuadorian wrapper, Pennsylvanian binder, and fillers from Dominican and Colombia. In 2007 the blend was completely changed when production was moved to Esteli, Nicaragua. This 4.5″ x 52 Robusto is made of a Nicaraguan wrapper, Cameroon binder, and fillers from Nicaragua and Dominican.
I haven’t had the pre-2007 version but I imagine it’s quite different. In researching the lineup pre-pair I came across a great review of this cigar from 2012 – 2 years before the rebrand – and I didn’t notice quite the same notes as they did which makes me wonder if anything has changed since then.
The cigar is well packed and feels well made in the hand. The seems and small veins are visible on an otherwise silky wrapper. The cigar seems to be double-capped with the bottom cap extending well below the shoulders which I really appreciated after have a few wrappers unravel on me recently on single-capped cigars.
The wrapper smells of sweet green grass while the foot is a beautiful hay. The dry draw gives hits of raisin and cookie. On light, the immediate taste is wet leather with a good hit of minerality which I suspect is from the Cameroon wrapper. There’s also notes of cream with espresso.
On a side note, the Cameroon wrapper is an intriguing thing. I’m not sure if it’s a “love it or hate it” relationship or an acquired taste. Sometimes I’ve hated it, and sometimes I loved it. Maybe I’ll do a series on pairing the Cameroon wrapper…
Returning to the drink after the cigar and it’s become a sweet-oak. I know those flavours were there before, but it’s more well-rounded now. The wood has mellowed, the sweetness has increased, and there’s some new chocolate tones emerging.
Returning to the cigar and it’s a bit more earthy with some walnut – that oily richness – with milk chocolate dancing in and out. It’s interesting to see chocolate coming out in both components now. The minerality is still there, but under control now and well integrated.
Yes! Do it. I wasn’t too sure about this cigar at first light and the drink was very woody. Together they keep the reigns on each other and help round each other well. It’s a great marriage and a great cigar pairing for Glenfiddich 14 year Rich Oak Scotch and something to consider when pairing whisky and cigars.
Try it and let us know what you think!