Away from the mainstream
Virtuozity’s club limitada heads To st. regis bar To sample some off-the-beaten-track cigars and single malts
Virtuozity’s Club limitada recently descended on st. regis bar at the st. regis Hotel dubai for a night of glamour. the evening saw guests enjoy fine examples from Padron Cigars, paired with stunning samples of Jura single malt whisky.
the venue, located in one of dubai’s newest five-star hotels, has already made a name for itself. adorned with wood and leather, the cozy st. regis bar recalls the Gilded age with bespoke cocktails, including the dubai-inspired Golden mary and other bloody mary interpretations; wines, spirits, and cognac; and fine cigars from Havana and beyond.
Certainly it was the ideal setting in which to enjoy an evening of fine taste featuring some top-notch cigars and whiskies. What’s more, the cigars and whisky were from brands that are often, we think, unfairly overlooked. sometimes it’s better to step away from the mainstream and sample what some of the other players are producing, and that’s exactly what we did.
the first cigar we sampled was the Padron 1964 aniversario serie diplomatico, which comes from a range featuring tobacco that has been aged for around 10 years. it’s a nice-looking Churchill vitola—boxpressed with wrapper, binder and filler from nicaragua.
Pre-light, you’re given aromas of hay and strong tobacco, along with some cedar and floral notes. light up, and those same flavours come to bear, except that they’re paired with a much spicier feeling. there’s definitely a hint of pepper in there, but it all goes beautifully well with the cedar and floral notes. later on in the first third, the spiciness subsides considerably, and is replaced by something more bitter—it’s like strong coffee mixed with ultra dark
chocolate. Again, it’s extremely pleasant, but it’s certainly surprising how many flavours the cigar can come up with.
And that feeling of surprise carries on into the second third, where the cigar changes again. Sure, there’s still a base of tobacco and cedar, but everything else is much more mellow. The spiciness completely disappears, as do the peppery notes. What you’re left with is a very smooth and flavourful smoke that’s an utter joy to puff on. Great plumes of creamy smoke bellow from this stick, and it’s all sweet and lovely.
The final third carries on in much the same way. Every now and then, a couple of bitter notes come back, but because they’re closer to dark chocolate rather than coffee, they fit in quite nicely with the whole ensemble. Overall, this is a really enjoyable cigar.
The same could be said of the second cigar of the evening—the Padron Series 4000. A corona grande, it comes with a ring gauge of 54, and takes around 90
minutes to smoke. It’s medium to fullbodied in nature, and certainly it uses that fact to its advantage by serving up a complex array of flavours.
The first third reveals a reasonably strong spicy kick, which is actually a little harsh on the throat at first. However, that quickly subsides, and this section of the cigar is largely characterised by peppery notes with a little bite to them. That these notes are set against a backdrop of earth and tobacco is welcome—the whole package is brilliantly balanced.
The second third reveals some woodier notes, which are added to the base. Indeed, the further you go down this cigar, the more it feels like a complex (and highquality) entity. The top notes tend not to matter as much (although there are sweet and spicy flavours that come out every now and then), simply because the main base flavours are so interesting. Going further, you’re treated to cedar, earth, tobacco and leather—all coming about at different points.
The final third is something of an anticlimax, with the cigar carrying on in
much the same way as the previous third. This isn’t a dreadful thing (as the second third is extremely enjoyable), but it would have been nice to see such a complex flavour profile really explode during the final third. Either way, you can’t escape the fact that the 4000 really is a pleasant way of whiling away 90 minutes.
Whiskies for the evening were prepared by single malt specialist Jura, which gets its name from the small island off the west coast of Scotland that shares its name. The original distillery has stood in its spot since 1810 but fell into ruin. In 1963, the brand decided to resurrect it and with it, help to revive the local community.
Ever since then, Jura has been using its tall stills to create a unique range of whis- kies. While some brands just do sweet and others only smoky, Jura does both. It may not be traditional, but it means there’s likely something in the range to take your fancy.
For this evening, there were two Jura whiskies to sample. First was Jura Prophecy, which is heavily peated with a sweet and spicy finish. It’s a complex whisky aged to perfection inside Limousin oak casks. Some say it tastes of peat smoke with fresh cinnamon and spicy sea spray. But like any great story, it’s always open to interpretation.
The second whisky of the night was Jura 21 Year Old, a full-bodied single malt with marzipan, walnuts and bitter chocolate. Matured in vintage casks, it has hints of maraschino cherries, soft marzipan, butter chocolate and flavours of citrus fruits. It’s one whisky you won’t forget in a hurry.