El Laguito meets the Speyside

By Giannis Valavanis

Aromas of the most famous Cuban cigars blend with spirits from the Scottish highlands.

These trips to the liquor stores and tobacconists have become a favourite habit now. I have found the appropriate and more informed ones and the walk in search of new labels and spirits takes on an interest of its own. Maybe there is something “forgotten” in a corner or shelf, so the much sought after aging and rarity has set in.

So I stumbled upon Glen Moray, not that it is some new label just that as an islander, as I have stated repeatedly, I pass the word Highlands on the shelf. What caught my attention were the words Fired Oak on one bottle and Peated on the other, where smoke and fire in me. To tell you the truth I was also drawn to some other bottles with finishes in barrels of various wine varietals such as Cardonnay, Cabernet, Port and Sherry but I decided to stand firm in my opinions. After the purchases, when I returned home, I read in my bibles that this distillery specializes and has even been a pioneer in cask finishes from wines since 1897 along with neighboring Glenmorangie. You will tell me out of all the bottles of Glen Moray on the shelf you got two similar ones. So that’s where the difference became apparent because they may both be from the same distillery so the basic flavours that prevailed were similar, vanilla, oak, cinnamon and something like toasted bread scratching the palate, but the smoke that predominates in both fails in the end to give the long finish that the charred oak casks where the Fired Oak is finished give the Fired Oak. As I am also a rum fanatic I saw on the company’s website some distillates finished in barrels from Rhum Agricole and St. James de Martinique but I couldn’t find them anywhere in Greece, so I will hit the streets again to see if I can find something, the internet is good but there is no such thing as personal contact.

At the lighting, things were simpler, not in the product, but in the decision since it was a foregone conclusion. I had been brought from the other Caribbean island, a forgotten box of Cohiba Supremos Edicion Limitada 2014. Where the friend found it I don’t know, but it’s a good thing he thought of me. Being a Cohiba and a Limitada at that, the price as you can understand is a bit outrageous, around 50 to 60 euros, depending if you can find it anywhere anymore, but luckily the box is a 10 piece box so you pay less on the box but you get less and just forget about it. Although not a Cohiba fanatic I had to try it just for the 58 ring gauge, Cubans are not known for their large calibers but they are slowly putting out some numbers. The size is small of course, at about 13 cm, Robusto Gordo, in a similar situation for 60 euros I would have gotten two Lusitanias, but we said we have to try and evolve. A classic Cohiba with a very good draw, both because of the quality of the twist and the thickness, with earthy and cedar aromas and with strong flavours of cocoa, chocolate and fruit alternating throughout the smoking time ranging from two hours for regular smokers and somewhere around one hour for the nervous ones like me. The most beautiful thing though was the colour, much darker compared to other Cohibas, not maduro of course but the difference was noticeable in both taste and appearance. So all perfect for today, I explored new flavours and aromas and with that we renewed our appointment.