Robbie Burns: Born: 25th January 1759
He wrote poetry & enjoyed Scotch Whisky until 21st July 1796

Robert Burns: National Poet of Scotland.
In 2009, Robbie Burns was chosen as the greatest Scot by the Scottish public in a vote run by Scottish TV.
Robbie Burns Day is celebrated worldwide  at the end of January.

Let’s talk Scotch Whisky
Scotland is split into 5 whisky producing regions:
41 Distilleries in the Highlands
50 Distilleries in Speyside
 – which is within the Highlands.
To quote my good friend George Grant of
Glenfarclas Scotch Whisky … every Speyside is a Highland …
but not every Highland is a Speyside.
13 Distilleries in Lowland
best known from this region would be Auchentoshan
03 Distilleries in Campbeltown
they’ve got Springbank.
08 Distilleries in Islay
revered by Peat-heads who seek out the smokey aroma’s & expressions of Islay Scotch Whisky.

 Let’s take a look at a few different Scotch Whisky expressions:

Robbie Burns NAS – No Age Statement
Isle of Arran Single Malt Scotch.
Isle of Arran – 7th largest Scottish Island.
Population 5,000.
Maturation:
American Oak ex-Bourbon casks.
Finished in ex-Sherry hogsheads.
“The Color is described as that: of Ayrshire Sunshine”
“A true drop of Liquid Poetry”

 AnCnoc 12yo
Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Very approachable in both aroma & flavor.
A malt with an excellent price point & taste profile.
Great for people new to whisky & appreciated by experienced drammers.

Balvenie DoubleWood 12yo
Highland Single Malt
Matured in American ex-Bourbon Casks
Finished in Sherry Casks – which can impart more sweetness, dried fruits, depending on the type of Sherry cask.

Why do distilleries choose to mention the different casks used for maturing their whisky?
A lot of the flavour of whisky comes from the oak casks in which it rests until it’s bottled. There’s a big difference in the type of casks used for Scotch Whisky … both in price and in flavour profile.

American Oak used for 1st fill Bourbon Casks are
valued at about $150.00
 impart flavours of light vanilla, coconut and toffee.
French Oak / Barriques are smaller than American casks and are valued at over $1500.00.
French oak has a different grain and imparts vanilla & caramel flavours.

When you consider the price differences in American vs French vs European oak alone, that means the type of cask used will influence not only flavor, but the final price to the consumer.

 Highland Park 18yo
Orkney Single Malt

Highland Park is one of only a handful of distilleries that still retains a traditional malting floor.
Highland Park turns each batch of malt by hand.  It’s a physically demanding, time-consuming process.
Think about it …  shoveling grain. All day.

Highland Park 18yo will have a slight peatiness to it.
Peat is that smoky characteristic sometimes found in Scotch whisky.
The Orkney islands, home of Highland Park, have an abundance of sweet, heathery, peat.
Peat is used to heat the barley so germination can take place, changing the starch to sugars which can be distilled.
Subsequently, the smokiness from the peat imparts a smoky flavor into the liquid.

Lagavulin 16yo
Islay (pro: eye-LAH) Single Malt
Massive smokey – peat aroma & flavours.
Nose: Peat
Palate: Peat
Finish: Peat
Iodine overtones. Brine-iness / Salty.
Meaty and woody-like oak influence.

 So, on January 25 remember to raise a dram to Robbie Burns.
Recite some poetry and enjoy the warmth of fine Scotch Whisky.

 

 

It’s nice to relax with a premium cigar enhanced by sipping a fine spirit.

Today I went with the Flor de Claro Corona from Dominion Cigars
and the Appleton Estate 21yo Jamaica Rum.
appleton-estate-21yo-rum
Appleton Estate

Let’s take a look at the rum.
Appleton Estate 21 Year Old is a ‘minimum age’ rum.

That means that all the rums selected by the blender have been aged for a minimum of 21 years, which in rum-land is quite a length of time.

The casks used for aging are what Appleton Estate refers to as “Number One Select American Oak barrels”.
As I went through the tasting, the oak component was apparent but not over-powering.

Pouring this rum into the glass is enticing just in colour alone.

As it sits in the glass, beautiful copper tones sparkle in the sunshine.

Appleton Estate 21 year old possesses a rich, dark color – like fine mahogany.
Mahogany is a close relative of Spanish Cedar, so there’s a bit of a connection between the color spectrum of the rum and the humidor from which I pull my cigar.

While smoking a mild cigar, in this pairing the Flor de Claro from Dominion Cigar, you want to take care to choose a drink that isn’t too powerful in either aroma or on the palate.

That’s what makes Appleton Estate 21 year old Rum a nice choice for the Flor de Claro … with its creamy cedar and sweet spice profile.
The two compliment each other beautifully.

The rum’s aromas aka “nose” is what we call “restrained” with hints of brown sugar and sweet spice on the initial release.
There’s a thoughtful whisper of orange citrus.
The barrel aging contributes a beautiful vanilla note combined with fresh coffee and a bit of milk chocolate.
As can be expected from rum that has been resting in barrels for more than 2 decades, the scent of toasty oak & tobacco lift, mingling delightfully with all the other sweet spice and fruit aromas.

On the palate, the brown sugar component stays true from the nose to the palate.
You’ll also discover flavors of cinnamon, orange zest and raisin’d fruit.

Appleton Estate 21yo Rum finish is luxurious & complex, without the cloying after-taste often found in other rums.

As you sip the Appleton Estate 21 year old, the taste of marzipan and marmalade linger long in your throat

… and that’s what makes it a good pair with the Flor de Claro, which has corresponding cedar notes, as well as rum overtones, a bit of honey & citrus, enveloped by the sweet spice of cinnamon.
flor-de-claro-w-cigar-in-front

The Appleton Estate 21yo Jamaica Rum harmonizes with just the right balance of complimentary flavors and aroma that enhances the sweetness of the Flor de Claro smoke.

Flor de Claro Provenance:
W: Honduran (Connecticut)
B: Nicaraguan
F: Nicaraguan
Vitola:
Corona 5.5 x 42

dominion-logo
Dominion Cigar

 

Frank Llaneza 1961
frank-llaneza-full-stick
Pre-Light Wrapper Aromas:
At 1st the wrapper smelled like an earthy cigar, but I kept nosing it before lighting because there were other things going on from its wrapper aroma.
I realized the Frank Llaneza 1961 Cigar wrapper actually leads with just a quick hit of citrus before the earthiness shows through.

The wrapper continues to surprise with a whiff of cocoa and a bit of mint.
This is a cigar where you could spend several minutes just smelling the wrapper because it’s really unique in aroma.

Raw Draw … I loved how the raw draw matched the scent from the wrapper.
Got all the above mentioned aroma descriptors on the back palate & up through the retro.

The wrapper itself is smooth with very light veins.
I was intrigued by the look of this cigar, so I started my research on Frank Llaneza.

Frank Llaneza has a fascinating story and Herculean contribution to the Cigar world.
frank-llaneza
Frank Llaneza

Start time: 6:15am
Easy ignition and a lot of cocoa flavor on the lips upon lighting the 1961.
Initial flavor … it’s a big-boy cigar. This is full-body, full flavor. But I keep getting this cool mint reaction from it on my palate … but not in the aroma as when smelling the wrapper.
What kind of mint? Peppermint, rather than the more common spearmint.

It’s got a lot going on … an earthy & a toasty cigar, with a bit of malt rising to the flavor profile.
I’d smoke this cigar with Stout if I were a beer drinker.
There’s quite a bit of undergrowth like you’d smell in a forest.

I’m drinking a Cappuccino with the Frank Llaneza 1961 and it’s a good pair, so if you like full-flavour 1st thing in the morning, this is the cigar for you.

The burn is even at the beginning … but make sure you are puffing every 15-30 seconds because the draw does get a little difficult.

Yup, just as suspected, the cigar extinguished before the end of the 1st third.
frank-llaneza-1st-3rd

On the re-light, the mint I was enjoying so much evaporated at first, but came back nicely as the burn leveled out.
The room-aroma from the Frank Llaneza has become more pronounced with its cocoa profile.

Plus, that mint scent is staying consistent.
Got a bit of ash-influence flavor on the back palate

I had to re-light before the ½ and noticed the cigar was a little soft just under the band, so while I thought that the cigar might have been packed quite densely, it seemed to loosen up past the 1st half.

Burn is uneven through and past the 1st half.
frank-llaneza-1961-uneven-burn

I cut the cigar past the 1st half  due to the uneven burn.
A creaminess is showing through now and I like that it’s not burning hot even with a re-light so late in the smoking experience.

After that cut, I’m actually enjoying the Frank Llaneza 1961 more, as the draw is easier.
Getting mouth-filling smoke and there’s some great toasty flavors of showing through.

End time: 8:30am
This cigar takes almost 2hrs to enjoy due to the burn issues. Maybe it was just this particular cigar, so I would expect one could otherwise smoke it in 60minutes.
Over-all, if you prefer a full-body, full flavor #Cigar, the Frank Llaneza 1961 delivers a lot of what you’re looking for.
Be prepared to coax it a bit, but it’s definitely worth the time.
frank-llaneza-band

 

I enjoy Port with a Cigar anytime, but especially after a sumptuous Sunday dinner.

Port Selection:
Taylor Fladgate 20 year old

Cigar Selection:
Davidoff Nicaragua

Port and Cigars is the perfect pair.

They both share a long & fascinating history; each has character that has been perfected by craftsmanship and they’ve both gained reputations of timeless luxury.

Taylor Fladgate Port

Has both the sweetness and mouth-feel texture that plays well alongside a premium Cigar.
There’s no doubt that Taylor Fladgate, founded in 1692, is one of the best known Port producer in the market and this 20yo Port compliments any cigar.

Davidoff of Geneva – since 1911
Enjoys a rich history in quality Cigar making that few other producers can match.

As they say on their website:
“Davidoff Cigars are handcrafted by experts with a passion to deliver a level of sophistication and refinement that allows each aficionado to fill time beautifully.”

_________________________________________________________________

In the 60+ minutes of smoking enjoyment, the Davidoff Nicaragua delivered layers of aroma & flavor that blended seamlessly as the cigar evolved.

At 1st there was a sweet spice, followed by a gentle hit of white pepper. As the cigar progressed, so did its complexity – revealing luscious flavors of cocoa & a hint of coffee … like smoking a creamy Mocha.

_________________________________________________________________

The Taylor Fladgate 20yo Port is smooth as silk, with delicious flavors of dried fruit, sweet spice & caramelized nuts.

The harmony achieved by smoking the Davidoff Nicaragua while enjoying the Taylor Fladgate 20yo port bordered on Nirvana.

It’s a match made in heaven … and perfect any day of the week.
taylor-fladgate-20yo-davidoff-nicarauga
Davidoff of Geneva – Since 1911
Taylor Fladgate Port

valbradshawdotcom

When it comes to Thanksgiving Dinner, choosing the wine is actually pretty easy.
I let my guests enjoy 2 wines, a Riesling and a Pinot Noir. Both are very pleasant on the palate and pair well with a variety of foods.
One of the things you want to keep in mind with any food pairing is “sauce”.
You want to pair the wine with whatever sauce is on the table.
There’s usually at least 3 sauces on any Thanksgiving table … gravy, cheese sauce and a sweet & tart Cranberry sauce.

This year, I’m going with a Lingenfelder Riesling. It’s light, refreshing and has the right amount of acidity to take on some of the fatty components of the gravy drizzled over the mashed potatoes, turkey & stuffing … as well as the cheese sauce often used for Brussels Sprouts.
For the red … I picked up a nice Pinot…

View original post 231 more words

When it comes to Thanksgiving Dinner, choosing the wine is actually pretty easy.
I let my guests enjoy 2 wines, a Riesling and a Pinot Noir. Both are very pleasant on the palate and pair well with a variety of foods.
One of the things you want to keep in mind with any food pairing is “sauce”.
You want to pair the wine with whatever sauce is on the table.
There’s usually at least 3 sauces on any Thanksgiving table … gravy, cheese sauce and a sweet & tart Cranberry sauce.

This year, I’m going with a Lingenfelder Riesling. It’s light, refreshing and has the right amount of acidity to take on some of the fatty components of the gravy drizzled over the mashed potatoes, turkey & stuffing … as well as the cheese sauce often used for Brussels Sprouts.
For the red … I picked up a nice Pinot Noir for its wonderful aromas & flavours of bright red berries … like cranberry.
Pinot Noir is light in tannin, good in acidity and generally a soft enough wine that’s sure to harmonize with the variety of food choices on your Thanksgiving table.

But my focus this year is on the dessert.
I visited a wonderful bakery in the Cathedral District of #YQR.
Sinfully Sweet Cathedral Bakery #YQR
Sinfully Sweet caters to the Cupcake-Crowd … but they also make a fantastic Pumpkin Pie
pumpkin-pie-sinfully-sweetThe pie is rich with aroma & flavour … delectable spices and a melt in your mouth consistency.
Another choice for dessert is Pumpkin Spice Cake.
Sinfully Sweet makes a decadent cake that’s a flavour explosion, enveloped in a delicious cream-cheese icing.
sinfully-sweet-pumpkin-spice-cake-vb
For the dessert pairing … I trusted my friends from Rebellion Brewing to help me decide on just the right beer … which is a great choice for pairing with pumpkin pie!
Rebellion Brewing #YQR
Rebellion samples a variety of their craft beer in clever fashion, on a solid board, with the names clearly visible.
rebellion-beer-samples-thanksgiving The Rebellion Stout was definitely a solid consideration … but ultimately I went with their Lentil Beer for its light flavour & palate cleansing freshness.

We had a great time during the CTVReginaMorningLive feature on Thanksgiving Dinner pairings and what to look for in terms of flavour, length, balance, complexity & harmony.
Happy Thanksgiving!

 CTVReginaMorningLive