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pairing caribbean

Glenfiddich 21 Year Old with a Chuao Wild Truffle Chocolate and Ashton VSG Cigar

caribeRum is as synonymous with the Caribbean as pirates and palm trees.  This month's selection salutes this treasure of the islands with a scotch that has been finished in rum casks, the Glenfiddich 21 year old.  Rum originates from sugar cane which flourishes in tropical climates and was thought to be introduced to these islands by Christopher Columbus.  Its by-product molasses is easily fermented with the introduction of yeast, then distilled in much the same way that whisky is produced.  Rum is also commonly matured in oak barrels and aged from 3 years up to 20 years for more premium brands.  The majority of rum production occurs in the Caribbean and has been part of their history, economy and "spirit" since the early 17th century.  Glenfiddich has a tradition of maturing in rum casks and this smooth as silk 21 year old core expression, integrates rum's toffee and vanilla richness without overwhelming their signature flavor.

gf21yoThe Glenfiddich distillery lies in Dufftown in the heart of Speyside.  Owned by William Grant & Sons since 1886, little has changed from its early origins. Washbacks are made of Douglas Fir rather than stainless steel and the Glenfiddich spirits are distilled, matured and bottled on site.  "Marrying" is taken very seriously to guarantee the consistent quality of the brand.  Glenfiddich uses an oak wood marrying tun that holds 30 casks of whisky for up to nine months to maintain a continuity of quality, flavor and aroma with each distillation.  

Glenfiddich 21 year old was matured in American oak casks for much of its life, then finished for four months in Caribbean rum casks.  The nose entices with a pleasing toffee, slight banana and sultana date sweetness.  The palate comes alive with stewed fruit, then layers of creme burlee, vanilla, hints of coffee, and a faint maltiness.  Sweetness gives way to dryer notes of bittersweet chocolate, with lingering citrus and spice. 


Wild Truffle 200This wonderful dram was easy to match to several of the Chuao bonbon flavors but the Wild Truffle is a real standout.  The textural component is as interesting as the flavor pairing.  Glenfiddich's smooth and pleasantly oily mouth feel is contrasted by the powdery cocoa exterior until you reach the rich and velvety chocolate ganache.  This truffle definitely draws out the chocolate note of the spirit, yet the overall sweetness is perfect without being too cloying.  

vsginashtrayWith visions of tropical islands and buried treasure on our minds, Caribbean rum and Dominican cigars seem like a natural combination. On some Caribbean islands, rum and cigars are a tradition that goes back countless years.  But the sweetness of rum, and of the rum finished whisky, begs for a cigar that can counterbalance all that sugar, and bring out the depth and complexity of both. Enter the Ashton VSG!

Ashton Cigars are the culmination of years of experience and the astute business acumen of Robert Levin, teamed with the manufacturing expertise of the world renowned Fuente cigar family. Since 1985, the Ashton name has become internationally recognized and respected for their premium cigar lines. Of the six blends that Ashton produces, the VSG has been the most successful and most sought after line of cigars. When it was unveiled in 1999, the VSG was an instant success and drew the highest ratings ever for a non-Cuban brand of cigars.  Again in 2007, the VSG was awarded a slew of 90 plus ratings re-affirming its place amongst the very top cigars in the world.The Ashton VSG (Virgin Sun Grown) uses the finest and richest Dominican tobacco, aged 4 to 5 years, for binder and filler; and an Ecuadorian sun grown wrapper taken from the highest primings of the plant and grown exclusively for the VSG by the Oliva family. To create this cigar, Levin turned to Carlos Fuente, Jr. of Tabacalera A. Fuente who worked for two years to develop the blend.  The result is a perfect balance of strength, flavor, and complexity. Any one of the 10 vitolas will do, our favorites are the Wizard, the Belicoso, the Corona Gorda, the Illusion or the Torpedo.

VSG torpedo 50Alone, this cigar is a fabulous experience, expertly constructed and with an excellent draw and complex flavor. Paired with the Glenfiddich 21 Rum Finish, you'll find the only thing missing is that tropical island replete with palm trees, a cool ocean breeze, and incredible sunsets. The initial spiciness of the VSG is wonderfully mixed with sweet vanilla flavors perfectly matching the rum finish of the malt. As the spice subsides, an earthy background appears with notes of nuts, roasted coffee and creamy butter individually picking out flavors within the Glenfiddich and highlighting them.  The aroma of the resting smoke is just as enjoyable, with a creamy sweetness and spiciness that lingers in the room. Notes of cinnamon, cedar and cloves punctuate the last half of the cigar and easily combine with similar flavors in this rum finished single malt.  

Add in the Wild Truffle bonbon, and you will never want to leave the island. The deep, rich chocolate of the bonbon finds amazing compatible notes in both the cigar and the single malt.  And while the Glenfiddich finish is smooth, the combination with the bonbon creates a silky texture in your mouth that is almost sinful.  If you have never tried the VSG, the Glenfiddich, or Chuao Chocolates, you can't possibly pass up this combination. Any one of these alone are a must try, together they are a treasured experience!

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