Published on April 16th, 2018 | by Ken Gargett0
Ramon Allones Specially Selected – Sanchez Ayala ‘20 Anos’ ‘Galeon’ Oloroso Sherry
Been working my way through Greg’s selection for Kenfessions and will confess (kenfess?) that the first couple have not been stellar. The other evening, pulled out the Ramon Allones Specially Selected. I used to enjoy these but to be honest, I had not had one for ages. No idea why that happened – not deliberately. One of those things. Also, no idea why Greg chose this one, but way to go, Greg. Made me wonder why on earth this fell out of the rotation. It was a really terrific smoke.
Robustos are about as fat as I enjoy so that is not the problem. I wondered if perhaps I’d moved away because they had lost form. A quick look revealed that it seems everyone else was not as deluded as myself. I see, time of writing, that RASS are rating 2nd in the FOH best of ’17. It smokes way above what the House/rep should suggest.
I don’t have ages on the cigars from Greg – I am assuming latest releases, although this gave the impression of having several years under the hood – but this was by far the most ready to smoke of the ones I’ve seen so far. Opened with lots of caramel. Delicious. Plenty of power and spices weaving in and out. Good concentration and well balanced throughout. Loved it. Just a stunner. If you want a score, 95-96.
So, for a drink to match?
Been thinking about some slightly left-field combinations and seeing how well they work. Sherry has certainly been one I’ve been keen to explore far more than I have. PX sherries would be a no-brainer – the richness, intensity and sweetness would work with most, but it could destroy subtle flavours.
Hence, I tried it with a good Oloroso and a great Amontillado.
The Amontillado is from Equipo Navazos: for me, one of the most exciting wine producers on the planet.
They are a long story but the shortish version is that three friends – a historian, a professor of criminology and a sherry maker (all sherry aficionados, experts and really nice guys – the professor is co-author of the definitive tome on the subject) – were visiting bodegas and were shown a butt of old sherry which they loved. They decided to buy it – Houses will occasionally make such sales as sometimes old butts may have fantastic sherry in them but they do not fit into the House style – got a number of other friends to contribute and shared the bottles among everyone. Word got around and the ‘other friends’ were keen for more. Over a few years, they turned this into a business, cherry-picking stunning sherries of all styles. Each release is numbered and very limited – usually between several hundred bottles up to perhaps a thousand or two. So far, there have been about 80 releases.
This one – they are named ‘La Bota…’ as in Poe’s ‘The Cask of …’ – ‘Equipo Navazos Amontillado No 58’, was from the Sanlucar sub-region (the small restaurant on the corner of the town square is considered by many to have the very best tapas in all Spain – with good reason). Gloriously complex and yet still with freshness. Dry with notes of hazelnuts and almonds, orange rind and teak. This was one of their more prolific Bota – 3,000 bottles – with an approximate age of 22 years in barrel. It was from Bodega Hijos de Rainera Pérez Marín. Sanlucar Amontillado tends to be more delicate than that from Jerez.
As a match, immaculate. Complex sherry, complex cigar.
The next sherry, while not the same standard as the Navazos, was an even better match – it was slightly deeper and richer, though more simple. Still a drier style but had the caramel and dry honey notes, without the sweetness.
That sherry was the Sanchez Ayala ‘20 Anos’ ‘Galeon’ Oloroso (no relation, as far as I am aware – and I am sure they would disown him if they were, as Whipcrack is an avowed sherry heretic). I found it because last time I stayed in Sanlucar de Barrameda, my hotel was directly across a tiny lane from that very Bodega, by chance. And in a lovely piece of synchronicity, the Bodega the three wise men of Navazos first visited and purchased what became ‘Le Bota No 1’? It was Sanchez Ayala.
Granted a brief sample here but it is really worth thinking about matching a top cigar with a great sherry. Give it a go.