by John Valavanis
Reading the latest issue of Mancode while catching up on the latest news developments, some things jogged in my memory. The latest James Bond film, the death of Sean Connery and the Mancode tribute reminded me of my trip to Scotland – too many facts at once for my memory to ignore!
About 15 years ago on a trip to explore tastes, countries, friends and even holidays – an offer of a drinks company – I was hosted in the tower of Chivas Brothers Distilleries, in the famous Linn House in Keith, Scotland. Apart from the similar treatments, guided tours, seminars and other self-evident situations that developed during the trip, the things that stayed in my memory were the butler of the tower and especially the cellar!
A huge cellar in the tower with countless casks and bottles of whiskey available for tasting and drinking! So Master Blender of Chives and Battler Nick were at our disposal for 5 days. In addition to the abuses and trials that took place, I managed to retain in my tasting diary a formidable whiskey that made a huge impression on me because of its diversity, both on first impression and on the finish. Glenlivet, 15-year-old, French Oak Reserve. It was the first year that the Scots had started to “muddle” barrels and perfumes, so you understand that the exploration was impressive. Because of the French casks, with what they had in them before the whiskey came in, the aromas were very rich – honey and vanilla with caramel and hazelnut – and much more complex for Malt whisky, than was usual until then. With an intense yet smooth taste, and with a finish of oak, roasted almond, and other nuts that my palate understood, I have to admit that I was speechless, as was the battler who drank almost the entire bottle!
The evening was of course crowned with total success and for another reason that was also a catalyst! I had in my luggage one of the best cigars ever on the market, the Montecristo A, a legend in the cigar world and coincidentally the perfect match! All I have to say about this cigar is that in the 1971 Guinness Book of Records, it was listed as the most expensive in the world! With a ring of 47, a length of 23.5 cm, and a medium intensity, this Gran Corona gives off aromas of coffee, cocoa, and vanilla that perfectly match the Glenlivet. An excellent and magical cigar that was very rare until 2000 but reappeared on the market, I managed to find 2 boxes before it disappeared again in 2010. So not only did I get the ultimate combination of flavors but also it’s the best season as it is of the few that accept further aging of 5 years – the one in question was from 1999 – and I was also very lucky to have it with me on the trip. The particularity of this cigar is the slow burn and combined with its size, its long duration helped us to consume the entire bottle with the company, continuing until the early hours of the morning. But it’s a shame that we don’t find it easily on the market anymore. I had hit the perfect combination: great cigar, awesome whiskey, and authentic Scotland!