Attempting to rewrite the book on single malts is a trap into which many a label of yesteryear has fallen. Specialization is often a much more effective way of showcasing the way a label might stray from the path set by others. This can been seen as adding a chapter to the sprawling tome that is “whisky.”
One of the key attractors which keeps me returning to the world of Scotch whisky personally is the depth of variety within the industry as a whole. This continued experimentation and innovation yields results both delightful and disastrous. I could not help but wonder if the original Cigar Malt from The Dalmore fell on either side of that proverbial fence.
The Dalmore created and marketed their original Cigar Malt label to appeal to those who happen to enjoy a cigar with their single malt, as the name would imply. Discontinued as a regular release in 2009, there is an updated version known as The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve which contains a revamped mixing and finishing process along with an increased price tag. The Reserve version also includes an uptick in alcohol by volume, with current bottlings featuring 44% ABV (88 proof) compared to the original 40% ABV (80 proof).
Bottles of the original Cigar Malt, the focus of this review, are available on the secondary market, although selection and price can vary dramatically. Essentially, this original Cigar Malt was a single malt with no age statement which was matured in American ex-bourbon barrels (white oak) before finishing in 30-year-old Matusalem oloroso sherry casks.
Tasting Notes: The Dalmore Cigar Malt
Vital Stats: 40% ABV (80 proof), no age statement, 100% malted barley, no longer in production but available around the $105 price point in secondary markets.
Appearance: Deep mahogany with strong legs.
Nose: Strong, creamy malt notes, kettle corn, tobacco, charred oak, raisin bread, cereal grains, light amount of leather.
Palate: Robust, with notes of bitter citrus, toffee, custard, caramel, chocolate chips. Buttery mouthfeel. Quick, medium burn in the finish, with continued dark toffee notes and chocolate. I’m really feeling the lower alcohol content here.
“Robust” is probably the correct word for me to use when describing how I found The Dalmore Cigar Malt. This was never intended to be the first and last word in single malts, and I feel it would be a mistake to view it in that light. This was a product which was engineered with a specific purpose. It is almost a niche whisky, although I hesitate to classify it firmly as such because I do not want to imply that this is an unapproachable dram for those who do not partake in cigars.
No, while that may have been the intended audience, fans of full, sherried drams minus the smoke will find much to enjoy in a bottle of Cigar Malt, providing they are able to find one at a reasonable price in the secondary market. I use the word reasonable because, although bottles currently fetch upwards of $105 per 750 ml bottle, it drinks more like a solid $45-$55/bottle dram. While certainly not a strictly essential release, The Dalmore Cigar Malt is a suitably enjoyable variation on the standard Highland single malt fare.
FINAL SCORE: 82/100
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Joshua St. John
When not sampling whiskey, Joshua St. John can most likely be found running the trails of the Pacific Northwest surrounding his home in Portland, Oregon. A lifelong world-traveler, Joshua was first introduced to single malts while visiting distilleries in Scotland, and continues to explore the world through the countless interpretations...