Back on November 17 of last year, we hosted the Cigar Snob Lechón Challenge at the InterContinental Hotel in Downtown Miami (there’s a coverage of the event on p. 78). The event was the first of its kind and it took our team months of planning to pull off. On the day of the event, it was all hands on deck to ensure it went off without a hitch. Thankfully, save for the broken hearts of the competitors who didn’t win, it ran about as smoothly as one of these multi-vendor cook-offs can.
After the winners were announced, the raffle items were doled out and the last of the 382 pork-filled, boozed up guests left the venue. Our exhausted crew gathered for a ceremonial toast and cigar. We’d spent so much time planning everything else that we didn’t set aside any cigars or booze for the occasion. But as the cleanup crew was packing up the leftover hooch and smokes, we snagged a bottle of GlenDronach Original 12 and a box of AJ Fernandez Bellas Artes. Although there were other cigars to choose from, we chose the Bellas Artes because AJ Fernandez’s team had won the Lechón Challenge so we thought it’d be fitting. Little did we know what the pairing had in store for us.
The GlenDronach Original 12 is a Highland single malt Scotch matured in a combination of Spanish Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry casks. The distillery, located deep in the East Highland hills, has been perfecting the method of sherry cask maturation since its founding in 1826 by James Allardice.
After the dust had settled from the Lechón Challenge, we recreated the pairing back at Cigar Snob HQ and to our delight, it tasted even better after a good night’s rest. The GlenDronach pours into a Glencairn whiskey glass with a deep amber color glistening in gold. Rather than rush right in, we let the spirit swirl in the glass for a bit, admiring the nose. After adding a few drops of spring water, the bouquet of caramel, vanilla, spice and pear comes through in waves. On the palate the whisky is rich and creamy up front with a marked sherry sweetness accompanied by fruit, spice, and a light touch of oak. At this point it was time to introduce the Bellas Artes with a well-balanced profile of pepper, cedar, and nuts with a bit of cream on the finish. The cigar’s pepper and cedar helped to accentuate the GlenDronach’s caramel and vanilla notes exceptionally well.