Thursday, March 29, 2012

Whisky in the jar... and smoke in the air...


Yesterday I was able to make it, after I had to pass on the first evenings which´ve been organized by Thomas Portmann in the bar of the Hotel Einstein in St. Gallen... a nice line-up made me find a gap in my time schedule... the whiskys of the evening were the following:
  • Littlemill 1990, 18 yo., 53.5 %,  Single Cask
  • Mortlach 1997, 60.5 %, Single Cask
  • Benromach 11 yo., 50.0 % Portwood
  • Brora 24 yo.,  46.0 %, Single Cask
  • Linkwood 27 yo., 53.3 %, Single Cask
  • Bowmore 1989, 53.0 %, Single Cask
  • Octomore Comus 04.2 (2012), 61.0 %

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The line-up of the evening

My recommendation for the cigars was
  • Cuaba Tradicionales
  • Romeo y Julieta Cazadores

The cigars I recommended for the other two evenings was always a good match, so I hoped it would be a good combo again.

Before we start let´s introduce the guys who were resonsible for the different parts of the evening:
  • Thomas Portmann from Portmann Tabakwaren GmbH for the cigars
  • Roland Wagner from the Alpstein Drogerie for the whisky
  • Reto Konrad from Hotel Einstein for the food

Thomas Portmann

Roland Wagner

Reto Konrad and Thomas Portmann


The tasting itself started with a surprising big bang... I had some Littlemills before but this one was an amazing fruit bomb... just WOW! Very floral and bloomy... a fantastic start.

Littlemill 1990, 18 yo., 53.5 %,  Single Cask

    The second whisky was slightly "disappointing" - ok, it´s complaining on a high level - but I definitely had better Mortlachs before... it´s still a good whisky but the Littlemill we´d first really smashed it.

    Mortlach 1997, 60.5 %, Single Cask

    While we enjoyed the whisky the first course with some sweet-sour pumpkin was served.. a good match with both of the whiskys.

    Appetizer with some pumpkin

    We continued with the Benromach which´s finished in a Portwine cask... a pleasant sweetness, floral notes paired with a decent aroma of the wood...

    Benromach 11 yo., 50.0 % Portwood

    Then it´s time for the Brora... wonderful malty aroma... some dried fruits... very fat in the mouth and some kinda "meaty"... there are some hints of smoke and peat... the main course was served too... and after it the first cigar of the evening was lit.

    Brora 24 yo.,  46.0 %, Single Cask

    Main course - duck breast

    Cuaba Tradicionales

    Cuaba Tradicionales and Brora 24 yo.

    A short break while we enjoyed the cigar in combination with the whisky... I got another glass of the Littlemill which was my favorite of the evening at this time... it went very well with the medium bodied Tradicionales...

    Then we continued with the Linkwood... some woody notes... malty sweetness... but not too impressing...

    Linkwood 27 yo., 53.3 %, Single Cask

    The one which followed I definitely liked much more... a Bowmore from 1989 which´s been bottled in 2011... a great one, an old-style Bowmore like I really love it... aromas of salt and seagrass, some decent notes of smoke in the nose. Intensive notes of smoked bacon, dark chocolate and also some saltiness in the mouth... you think you can chew it.... oh wow.... great!

    Bowmore 1989, 53.0 %, Single Cask

    In the meantime the dessert was served... Crème brûlée... a great combo for me... sweetness of the dessert and smoke of the whisky... then the combo with the cigar... a strong cigar to be a good counterpart to the whisky... it matched really well...

    Crème brûlée

    Romeo y Julieta Cazadores

    RyJ Cazadores and Bowmore 1989

    The last whisky of the evening was the latest Octomore release... brand new... finished in Chateau d´Yquem casks. Another finish in a wine cask after the Orpheus release two years ago which´s been finished in a Chateau Petrus cask... the peatiest whisky of the world with 167 ppm but you didn´t feel the peatyness at all... all well-embedded in the sweetness of the wine.... really good stuff...

    Octomore Comus 04.2 (2012), 61.0 %

    It was a great evening, I really enjoyed it... thanks to the guys who made this happen... and I´ll be back in September when the tasting events with Single Malts will be continued...


    The group´s enjoying the whisky and the cigars

    The group´s enjoying the whisky and the cigars

    Serving the cigars

    Sunday, March 25, 2012

    03/23 - 03/24 - The replacement of the Non-smoker


    It´s planned for a while and on Friday Josh and Dan arrived on their tour through Switzerland in Zurich, after visiting Ajay in London and several places in Geneva while spending there 2 days...

    We met at the QN Lounge and finally there was the replacement of the non-smoker. It´s a running gag with Dan that I call him non-smoker because the last times he was here he always had some periods without any cigar in his hand... but this time Josh took his part and didn´t smoke for a while at this evening, so the new non-smoker was born... hahaha

    We´d a really great evening there and enjoyed our time with good conversation until midnight.

    This time Dan was smoking...

    ...but Josh replaced him as a non-smoker.

    Some fingerfood


    What´s that? Josh smoking?


    On Saturday morning we met again around 9.30 am, this time at Portmann in Kreuzlingen. Kicking off the new day with a fantastic Robusto outta the Portmann 40th Anniversary jar... they developed really good in the last two years and I´m convinced that they´ll be great smokes with some more years of aging...

    Around 11 am we moved to the lounge and due to the fact that Josh never tried some aged Belgium beer I brought some Chimay Bleue with me... Just from 2010 but it tasted great and was a perfect match with the cigars we smoked at this time.

    A big thank you to Dan for giving us a Partagas Lusitanias 109 to smoke, a really rare and hard to find cigar because there have been just a handful of boxes made in the early 2000s.

    Meeting at Portmann

    Chimay Bleue 2010 - great start of the day

    Enjoying it...

     Enjoying it too...

    In the meantime Tom and Michael arrived and around 12 we moved over the border to the Seerhein, a restaurant which is directly located at the River Rhine where we met Ralf who completed our group. We´d an excellent Rib steak lunch there and enjoyed the sun while smoking some more sticks... and having a lot of fun...




    Lunch is served

    At the River Rhine, Lake Constance in the background

    Paparazzo




    Back at Portmann we´d the chance to go downstairs and have a look at the storage... and Josh was really lucky to find a nice box of cigars... he smoked on of those old and crusty Punch and passed it around... definitely a great smoke...

    Time flew by and around 10.30 pm we decided to quit... Josh and Dan had another hour drive back to Zurich... the time´ll be changed that night, so another hour of sleep´s missing and they´d to get up early in the morning to catch their flights home...

    It was an awesome time and it was a great pleasure to meet you guys again... I´m looking forward to see you again here in Europe or in the States...

    Josh smoking a nice stick

    Crispy Tom

    Cheers guys

    Wednesday, March 21, 2012

    Winter grilling, part 1 - meat, meat and meat


    For many people the grilling season started the last days when the weather was getting better and better... sunshine and mild temperatures. But: grilling's nothing which is limited to the summer time... so... here are a few things I'd on the grill during the cold time of the year.

    I made some categories: meat, poultry and fish, sides dishes and appetizers.

    Let's start with the meat, two more postings will follow within the next weeks:

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    Strip steak smothered with Laphroaig marinated onions

    Strip steak smothered with Laphroaig marinated onions

    Planked venison with raspberry marple syrup glaze

    Roesti and venison

    Beech-planked wild hog entrecote

    Black Angus Beef with some toppin containin sheep cheese

    Black Angus Beef and mashed potatos

    3-2-1 ribs

    All gone

    Tri-tip-steak

    Tri-tip-steak and cedar-planked stuffed mushrooms

    Ribeye-Steak planked on a redwine soaked cedar wood

    Flank Steak

    Flank steak, stuffed mushrooms, potato mash

    Planked London Broil as a main course

    Main course - planked London Broil

    Main course - Planked London Broil

    Planksmoked bacon

    The first cut

    Marinated Thai Lamb Rack

    Planked Thai Lamb Rack

    Skirt Steak

    Skirt Steak and some vegetables

    Skirt Steak Part II

    Planked leg of lamb

    Raw beef tongue - ready to be grilled

    Grilled beef tongue

    Beef tongue, potato and horseradish sauce

    More ribs...

    Varied recipe of the planked London broil

    Varied recipe of the planked London broil

    Breakfast burger (for dinner)

    Steak with some Camembert topping

    Pastrami after a few hours in the smoker

    Pastrami sandwich