Review: 1880 Macallan 12 Year Scotch-Infused
In looking forward to 2019, we knew there would be growth, changes and upgrades to 99 Cigars. Evolution. Part and parcel of this progress is our new year resolution to add infused cigars to our growing review list. No, they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but they are growing in popularity, especially with novice cigar smokers. Late in 2018, fate lent a hand and we landed our first request from the folks at 1880 International. Unlike the current crop of infused offerings from the likes of Drew Estate (Acid), CAO (Flavour Series) or Havana Honeys, 1880 went big time infusing their limited edition stogeys with top shelf, aged scotches and whiskys like Macallan, Laphroaig and Yamazaki (yes, there’s even a Yamazaki 18!).
Inspired by his family’s heritage and collections of the finest whiskys and cigars, co-founder, Andrew Brice, launched the Dallas, Texas-based 1880 International focused on melding these two complementary worlds. Eschewing typical tricks of the flavoring or “sweetening” trade with artificial extracts or seasoning, 1880 utilizes a unique, proprietary process called Truly Infused™. Yes, I asked and no, they would not share any details of this process. Each aspect of the cigar – wrapper, binder and filler tobaccos – are treated in this process. After the tobaccos are selected, they are infused with the respective whisky, aged (they would not divulge aging details) and finally rolled at the venerable El Titan de Bronze in Miami’s Little Havana.
We’re cigar and whisky lovers and we’re also reviewers. As reviewers, the challenge we face with this type of cigar is to not focus on the whisky, but on the cigar. The stalwart Scottish whiskys are globally renowned and their tenor is much beloved and recognizable, making our job even tougher. The Macallan 12 (M12) comes packaged in a glass tube sealed with a plastic stopper and an M12 label over the top. After removing the cigar from the tube, I was greeted to a wonderful fragrance of berries, orange zest and green tea. There’s a slight greenish hue to the pecan shell-colored Ecuadorian wrapper which also delighted with vanilla, dried fig and oak aromas. Seamless, oily, veiny and toothy, the M12 has a well-executed triple cap and a solid feel although the foot felt a bit squishy.
The opening profile was somewhat muted, but is defined by a woody spiciness, charred oak and hints of sherry. Adding the familiar tingle on the lips and palate reminded me of what Speyside nectar lie inside. There’s noticeable hints of black pepper and sweet cream and a crisp, woody finish. The complexity began to open up with nutty, leather intonations on the retro and charred oak on the draw. Subtle hints of cinnamon made a brief appearance and the woody finish gets a bit longer. Overall, the profile is well-balanced, but with some rough edges. Some of the well-defined Macallan flavors seem to overpower rather than complement the tobacco blend at times, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing and may be a well-intended trait the 1880 brain trust desired.
The middle transition features more body with a loss of sweetness but retains nice caramel notes on the retro. With a warm texture, the last transition is a spice bomb accompanied by the return of the marvelous complexity we experienced initially. A minor mineral aftertaste develops with a little more than an inch remaining. Our M12 produces copious amounts of smoke and the combustion is superb producing an even, razor-sharp char. The M12 likes to be smoked, so puff at will.
As far as infused cigars go, there’s no question there’s a universe of difference between a cigar laced with coffee or vanilla and another dipped in 12-year-old Macallan Scotch. Infusing a cigar with top shelf hooch is an intriguing prospect for any cigar and whisky lover, but it raises some interesting questions like, ‘can/should I pair anything with it’ and the answer is a resounding, yes. While initially difficult to shed the familiar tinges and notes of the Macallan 12, I was able to tap into the cigar and trust my senses rather than my memory. For me, the M12 marks a first and a very unique, enjoyable one at that. For a first effort, 1880 has done a nice job of combining the best of two worlds. This is a cigar that should be shared and, based on the price point, probably saved for those times you want to splurge a little, especially if you don’t have any Macallan handy. Yes, you can have your Macallan…and smoke it too!- In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: 18 year-old Yamazaki is no longer available and can only be found in private collections or at auction and usually sells for $600 and up.
- Profile: Medium
- Vitola: Corona
- Length / Ring Gauge: 5.5″ x 48
- Purchased: Direct
- Origin: US
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
- Binder: Dominican
- Filler: Nicaraguan, Dominican
- Cutter: Colibri V
- Lighter: Colibri Firebird
- Price: $13.00
- Humidor Age: 8 weeks
- Box: 3-cigar travel humidor, 10-count box or 25-count bundle
- Other Vitolas: None
Smoke Time: 1:13
Build: Solid throughout – foot area spongy; oily; veiny; toothy; pecan shell-colored wrapper with slight green hue; nice triple cap; holds strong, 1″+ ash.
- Shaft – dried fig, vanilla and oak
- Foot – dark berries, salted caramel
- Cold Draw – Sherry
- Initial: Spicy, woody with hints of charred oak and sherry; familiar tingle on lips and palate; complexity muted but noticeable hints of pepper and sweet cream; light woody finish is a tad dry; leather, nutty and light cinnamon notes on retro; lots of charred oak on draw; wood finish gets longer with tinge of caramel.
- Transition: Savory with more profound woody intonations; loss of sweetness and complexity, but retains caramel on retro; spice hangs around; green tea on palate; malty notes on finish.
- Transition: Warm texture- notes of sherry and sweetness return as does some complexity; finishes with intonations of charred oak and coffee; heavy on spice.
Complexity: Very good
Touch ups: N/A
Weaknesses: muted flavor palette early; loss of complexity in middle transition.
Recommend: 1. Boxworthy
- Go-to (boxworthy)
- 3rd stringer (keep 1 on hand)
- Smoke a banana instead