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pairing andalusia

Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX Scotch with Chuao's Morocho Bonbon and Carlos Toraño Exodus 1959 50 Years Cigar

Our May selection features Sonnalta PX, the first release of the new Glenmorangie "Private Collection" of rare and limited edition malts, recently made available in the United States.  Sonnalta PX is a reflection in both name and flavor to a certain class of "Generosos" or fortified wines more commonly known as sherry. Sonnalta is the Gaelic translation of "generous", the very same word the Spanish use to describe this particular category of spirit.  PX is a nod to the type of sherry that seasoned the cask used in finishing this deliciously distinctive whisky.

raisinsPX is a common reference to the Pedro Ximenez grape and resulting class of sherry.  This thinned skin white grape with high sugar content, is sun dried off the vine.  This concentrates its essence prior to being pressed into wine.  The results are a dark, richly sweet and syrupy sherry with signature raisin, molasses and chocolate notes.  These flavors are easily distinguished when compared to other sherries, such as the dry and delicate Manzanilla or intense and citrusy Oloroso. This grape thrives in the chalky soils of Andalusia, one of Spain's earliest winemaking regions dating back to the 8th century B.C.  Jerez de la Frontera is the area in this region, renowned for the production of fine PX sherries coming from such famous bodegas (wineries) as Emilio Lustau, Emilio Hidalgo and Gonzalez Byas.

spanish vineyardsUnlike most wines, Generosos wines undergo aerobic aging in oak butts.  To accomplish this, a small chamber of air is left in the cask to aid the development of a naturally occuring yeast called "flor".  The resulting top veil of flor prevents oxidation, encourages fermentation and contributes specific flavor properties to the resulting sherries.  Vinic alcohol is eventually added to halt the flor fermentation at a desired stage.  Through frequent travels to Spain, Dr. Bill Lumsden, Master Distiller of Glenmorangie was obviously inspired by the flavor and process of these raisiny nectars.  It is said that he hand picked the PX casks tor this sumptuous new expression. 

glenmorangie sonnalta px 12Sonnalta PX is a 12 year old with plenty of personality.  Matured in ex-bourbon American Oak, it is then finished in lightly toasted PX casks.  Your nose is greeted with the rich fragrance of oranges and ripe dark fruits stewed in wine.  Behind that is a developing soft honey and caramel sweetness.  The texture in your mouth is full, syrupy and fantastic.  On the palate the raisin notes of PX sherry are immediate and satisfying.  They have a rich almost raspberry sweetness.  A faint coffee note appears, then a citrusy distraction, with a wonderfuly strange touch of chocolate and figgy dates thrown in.  The finish is very long and leisurely with the taste of leather (pleasant), raisins, chocolate and faint oak.  Overall a very intriguing malt with the PX sherry as a definite but not overwhelming influence.  This is one dram not to be rushed. 

morochoWith so many layers of flavors it was easy to pair the Sonnalta PX.  I finally settled on Chuao's Morocho for this featured pairing. Morocho is a dark chocolate bonbon that has a rich chocolatey buttercream interior. A hint of Calvados mimics that raisiny fruit note of the scotch, while almonds and hazelnuts add some texure and compliment the oak flavors of this dram.  The fudgey mouthfeel marries well to the full almost chewy body of the whisky. 


logoWhile searching for the perfect match for this wonderful single malt, I was intrigued with pairing the chocolatey, coffee and raisin notes derived from the Pedro Ximenez casks that so define this single malt. Several cigars came to mind, but the spicy, sweet dark wrapper of the Carlos Toraño Exodus 1959 50 Years caught my attention. I had tried both the Exodus Gold and Exodus Silver lines and loved them, so I had to see if this matched up.

Some cigars are anniversary cigars for celebratory reasons, the Exodus 1959 50 Years is a commemoration cigar. 1959 was not particularly a good year for the Toraño family and they created this cigar "to remind smokers of the hardship inflicted by Cuba's Marxist communist regime, especially its exile of the world-renowned tobacco and cigar families, including ours" as their website states. But triumph over adversity is how the story of the Toraño family continues to be written, and in 2009 they released this cigar as a celebration of that triumph.  Now, over 1,000 retailers proudly display their cigars, their production in 2008 totaled 20 million cigars and they were even honored by Spain's King Carlos. A family run business, the Toraños have much to celebrate now.

The Exodus 1959 50 Years comes in three vitolas each wrapped in that stunning Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper - the 5" x 50 Robusto, the 5-1/2" x 52 Torpedo, and the 6' x 48" Short Churchill. This cigar is the most full-bodied blend of the Exodus line, but with a subtle, natural sweetness and balance.

If you like deep, dark flavors in a cigar, this one is for you.  Dark chocolate and coffee present an initial attack on the palate with the thick volumes of smoke filling the mouth. As the cigar moves out of the initial third, flavors of leather and spice appear gradually, complicating the flavor profile. It is at this point when the cigar and the Sonnalta PX really start to combine well. When the port-like raisin flavor appears in the cigar, it connects immediately with the malt, and the combination is really wonderful.torano exodus 50 hzntlBoth the Sonnalta and the Exodus 50 are strong, with lingering finishes, but do not overpower one another. This rich and decadent combination is a perfect dessert after a fine meal. A light warning here, this is a strong cigar with strong dark flavors, so if that is not your preference, you might want to try something with similar buy lighter flavors.  

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