Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Rocky Patel has a brother. Believe me, I know from personal experience--I sat next to Nimesh at the Big Smoke lunch last year. Don't ask me what I thought of him--it's immaterial to the review of the cigar that bears his initials along with his more famous brother's. According to more than one course, this cigar is a slight variation on the Winter Collection 2008 that was such a big hit among smokers. It features filler and binder from Nicaragua along with a broadleaf wrapper from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
The cigar certainly looks great. The wrapper is dark and oily with just a few visible veins. The aroma from the body is chocolate and coffee with an undercurrent of barnyard. The foot is even stronger in the cocoa aroma department.
Prelight draw is easy and has a strong cocoa flavor and a lesser coffee flavor. Like the Winter Collection, the first few puffs brought a great deal of black pepper and a strong coffee component. The initial spice was a real blast, too, quickly ramping up after 2 or 3 minutes to a nice pepper burn in the middle of the tongue. The first third had a lot of coffee even after the spice component faded a bit. It seemed to be not as spicy as the Winter, but with stronger coffee flavors.
The second third still had plenty of coffee and that was joined by a nice roasted nut flavor. The black pepper had diminished somewhat, but was still present as a prominent undertone. Construction was excellent--straight burn line and consistently easy draw.
The last third still had plenty of coffee and a little bit of black pepper, but there was something of a sour undertone that was not pleasant. This could be due to the relatively new nature of the cigar, so I will try this one again sometime, probably in a different vitola. Overall, this cigar had a great start and there was much promise to it, but I am less than thoroughly impressed with it at this time.
- Where I live. If God has created a more beautiful place than Appalachia, I don't know where it is. From here in the Tennessee River Valley to the Cumberland Plateau to Lookout Mountain to the Smoky Mountains, everywhere I look there is beauty. To quote Rich Mullins: "Everywhere I go I see You." The Hand of God is everywhere, but it is more evident here than anywhere else I've been.
- My Family. I'm glad that my wife not only agreed to move with me to Tennessee, but actually wanted to move just about as much as I did. We have the opportunity to be close to my parents now and we've worked hard at recruiting her parents and other family members to move close to us here, too...and there seems to be some measure of success. We'll see how that goes. After years, though, of not wanting to live "that close" to my parents, I've matured enough to want to be here.
- My Friends. Whether it's the friends I've made here in TN or the ones I had to leave in California, I treasure the friendships I have been a part of. Great times gathered in homes, in churches, or in cigar stores.
- My Church. While we don't attend church as often as some of the folks back here do (there was a time when church-goers here would be in church practically every day...now it's just 3 or 4 times per week), we do appreciate the sense of community, acceptance and love we have from our church.
- Cigars. I've said it before, I'll say it again...God does not make mistakes! God created the tobacco plant and all the different varieties of it. I don't believe God created them to look at, and I'm rather doubtful that cigarettes were what he had in mind. I do believe that unlocking the keys to tobacco's legitimate use is involved in the all-natural process of moving leaf from field to barn, drying, fermenting, aging, rolling, and smoking. Done in moderation, this provides a relaxing and enjoyable pastime that may not be for everyone, but is certainly not as unhealthy as some would have you believe.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Rocky Patel was a lawyer before getting into the cigar trade about 12 years ago, so he cannot commemorate his father's birth year or how many generations of Patel have been working in the biz--maybe those cigars will come 2 or 3 generations down the line. What he is celebrating in this new release is the year of his own birth, 1961. It features Nicaraguan filler, Honduran binder, and Ecuadorian Habano-seed wrapper. It is the first cigar that is being produced in Rocky's newest Nicaraguan factory: Tabacalero Villa Cuba. (In a side note: under the description paragraph on the Rocky Patel website where I gleaned the above info, it states that the cigar features a Honduran wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and Dominican and Nicaraguan filler. Obviously, Rocky's website is up to its usual standards. I'm going with what the descriptive paragraph, not the listed info under it..it's a craps shoot either way.)
The double band is interesting and attractive, featuring a while outline drawing of a tobacco plant on a black background; the leaves and roots extend beyond the natural borders of the band and are die-cut out. The secondary band is a dark red band with the RP logo very tiny in black; it is placed lower and under the first band and gives a unique look--I commend the graphic designer who came up with this. The wrapper is a fairly dark brown--I would call it a maduro--with a little oily sheen to it (a little oily sheen...hmm, was it's name Charlie? No, that would be a crazy little Sheen). The body of the stick has an aroma that is barnyard and classic humidor; the foot is composty with some coffee and a little dark chocolate.
In prelight, the draw was excellent and the flavors were of chili pepper, creamy coffee and just a little cocoa. Initial puffs were heavy with black coffee and roasted nuts. The first third continued to be very nutty with just a little coffee undertone and a building mouth burn from the spice.
During the second third, the roasted nut flavor faded as did the spiciness. Instead there was more black coffee and a little chocolatey sweetness. So far the construction was superb: no draw or burn issues.
The last third was far more mellow than the first. The flavor of coffee continued to dominate and virtually all spice disappeared. Overall, this was a very good smoke--easily trouncing last year's Renaissance as well as most of the seasonal, special and proprietary blends that Rocky has been wasting his time on since he released the Decade two years ago. It was medium-to-full in body and had an interesting flavor progression to keep it from being dull. I have given Rocky Patel a lot of grief in conversation and on this blog in the past year, but with this stick, I call a cease-fire. If the Patel Bros. stick performs as well as this, it could have the affect of changing my opinion...and buying habits. Thank you, Mr. Patel, for creating a very flavorful stick...and for doing so at a price that is reasonable. (The Patel Bros. review should be in this spot tomorrow.)
Monday, November 23, 2009
This bourbon was noticeably lighter in color than most other bourbons that I have had. Comparing it with what I had "on hand" I could easily see a large difference between it and either Markers Mark or Jack Daniels (I know, not a bourbon, but similar enough that the color is good for comparison). It seems odd that the color should be this light considering that it is a 10 year old liquor--normally the longer a whiskey stays in the barrel the more color it picks up.
The aroma upon opening the bottle is light and delicate: a little oak, a little corn, and very easy on the alcohol vapors. In the glass, the legs trailed down fairly slowly, with thin runners. It seems more viscous than your average bourbon, although substantially thinner than, say, a bourbon-based liquor. The aromas in the glass were of vanilla and some kind of fruit, perhaps apricot.
It was cool on the tip of the tongue before it started burning on the sides; the burn continued down the throat and came back up to the tip of the tongue, leaving a warm tingling sensation throughout. The flavor, like the aroma before, was light and delicate for a bourbon. There was some sweetness that you would expect in a bourbon, but the lightness of this whiskey reminds me more of a Scotch--not an Islay, mind you, but maybe something smoother without some much peat, like a Highland.
I paired this one with an Alec Bradley Select Cabinet Reserve, a fairly full-bodied stick. In the robusto size, it does not pack much of a punch and it did go well with this bourbon. I would be very hesitant to pair this drink with a really full-bodied stick (like the larger version of the SCR, or any La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero) as the cigar would likely overwhelm the stick very easily. Honestly, this particular cigar was on the edge of compatibility for this cigar and a good medium-bodied smoke like an Alec Bradley Family Blend of Avo 787 might go much better.
I think this bourbon might be worth adding to your collection as a lighter alternative to most bourbons. It has a unique character that can enhance the cigars in the lower to middle end of the body spectrum.
It is hard to know what to write about a cigar company that has been in business since 1997 and hands out stogies nearly every year at the Big Smoke...and yet you have never seen them for sale in a tobacco store...not to mention that the people who work in your local store have never heard of them at all. On paper, this La Caya Brasil should be a great cigar: it features filler made of Piloto Cubano, Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos, along with a Criollo 98 binder and a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper.
The reality starts breaking down when you look closely at the wrapper--I honestly have never seen a wrapper this toothy before. You could almost use this cigar as a sanding tool or a new method of peeling zest off a lemon! It is oily, too, though...in fact, after sitting for a year since last year's Big Smoke, this stick was still oily and aromatic. The wrapper gave off coffee and classic humidor aromas while the foot was more chocolatey. Other than the rough toothiness, the wrapper was nice-looking, lightly mottled medium-to-dark brown, with relatively small veins.
The cold draw was easy and had notes of dried fruit and cocoa powder. In the first puffs after lighting, I could taste wood and coffee. The first third turned out to be woody, bitter and somewhat sour. I thought about doing the unthinkable: pitching the stick. But in the end I decided to give it a chance to improve.
Around the time the second third started, the unpleasantness went away, leaving a very average cigar flavor. There was a little coffee and a tiny maduro sweetness, but mostly it was just like any other medium-bodied, mid-priced, hand-rolled cigar: Partagas, Romeo y Julieta, Macanudo. Not bad, but definitely nothing to brag about.
The last third had some spice and coffee flavors but there was still an underlying dullness to the cigar. For half the going rate (if you can find it "going" anywhere, that is), I could see purchasing these as lawn-mowing cigars, but at full-price, it would have to be pretty slim-pickings before I would opt for one of these again.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Socialite: My goodness, Mr. Churchill... Well, I suppose... we would have to discuss terms, of course...
Churchill: Would you sleep with me for five pounds?
Socialite: Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!
Churchill: Madam, we've already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.
Apparently Senator Mary Landrieu's (D-Louisiana) price is just about $300 million dollars. There is no word on exactly how much Blanche Lincoln (D-Arkansas) was bought off for. Both claimed that they were simply voting for the current Senate healthcare bill to pass into the "debate" phase and that they could not vote for the current bill to become law in its current form. My question for these two political whores (did I really say that? Yes, I did!) is this: if you don't agree with the principles of the bill now but are willing to vote for it when Dingy Harry Reid gives you a certain sum of money, what makes us think you won't just up the ante to vote for the final bill in another month or two? Exactly how much are you going to soak the taxpayers for your next vote? It's been 18 years since P.J. O'Rourke called Congress a Parliament of Whores...his words still hold up: God is a Republican, Santa Claus is a Democrat.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Okay, maybe not...but the original picture is certainly creep enough without any Photoshop manipulation...
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The My Father line of cigars was introduced in 2008 as Jaime Garcia's tribute to his father, Don Pepin Garcia. The My Father website seems to continually being a state of "Coming Soon" so finding info on this cigar was tricky. I used Cigar Cyclopedia to determine that this cigar was all Nicaraguan and I believe I stumbled across the meaning of "Cedros Deluxe" in a general Google search: cedro is Spanish for cedar. These cigars are wrapped in a cedar sheath--although I'm not sure that warranted a separate cigar line.
Presentation is beautiful on this stick. The regular My Father band has a lot of color along with gold foil accents; the cedar wrap has the "MF" logo and "Cedros Deluxe" printed on it; and a "Cedros Deluxe" foot band completes the look. The only complaint being that it is impossible to tell the general condition of the wrapper under all that marketing material. Fortunately, it turned out to be as good as it should be for a small cigar costing over $9. The wrapper was very oily and even had some plume starting. The veins were small and delicate and the color was an even milk chocolate and flawless. The aroma of chocolate was powerful from the body and even moreso at the foot where it was joined by some compost and a tiny bit of coffee.
The prelight draw was easy and featured cocoa mostly, with a little undertone of coffee. The initial puffs had more of the cedar flavor. The remainder of the first third was heavy on cedar along with a healthy dash of black pepper mixed in.
The second third featured a building pepper component and a fading cedar flavor. There was some dark roast coffee and roasted nuts struggling to emerge, too.
The final third of this stick was the most interesting--wood had long gone and the pepper diminished as well. It was replaced by a very nice coffee note as well as cloves and a little nutmeg. Overall, this was a very nice, extremely complex cigar that never stayed in one flavor area for long. I did not care for the heavy cedar in the first third, so I wonder if what the non-Cedros version is like--luckily I have several examples of those to try at some point in the near future. The body never got above the mid-point and there was no nicotine-kick to speak of. The only thing wrong with this cigar (aside from too much cedar) is the price tag, which will keep it from being more than an occasional smoke for me in the future.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Thursday, November 12, we made the 3 hour drive to Nashville, starting around noon and getting there a little after 2 (we are in the Eastern time zone, N'ville's in Central). We did our TJ's shopping, then went next door to Uptown's. I bought some sticks that my local tobacconist is not going to carry (upcoming reviews for Xikar HC Series (all 3 variants), Torano Exodus 50 Years, and Alec Bradley Vice Press, thank you very much...) and we talked with the manager and the owner for a while before heading out to get some food before the show. Interesting to find out that Uptowns' clientele does include many names from the music industry that you would recognize, including some of my all-time favorites, as well as local sports stars. I won't drop any names here as they have their right to privacy and this article is not about them, anyway.
Phil Keaggy showed to start setting up around 5:00. I offered to help carry stuff in, but I was too slow. I got to talk to him a bit as he was setting up, expressing my gratitude for providing so much enjoyable music, then getting into the reason he was playing at Uptowns: his love of pipes. I pride myself on being well-informed about cigars; while I may not have the photographic memory of some people, I can generally do a good job recommending smokes to people. Phil knows his pipe tobaccos every bit as well as I know my cigars. He is more of a non-aromatic (natural?) tobacco fan, whereas I've generally thought of pipes in terms of aromatic tobaccos. That is a big mistake as it is equivalent to a cigar smoker only thinking about Acid, Havana Honeys, and CAO Flavours--while it may be good on occasion, there is just so much more out there and when you experience the richness of natural tobacco, you rarely ever dip into the flavored pool again.
During a lull in sound check, I went ahead and asked Phil, "What pipe tobacco would you recommend?" I expected just a few names, but he put down his guitar and went with me over to the wall of pipe tobacco and showed me several things I might be interested in, including one that had cigar leaf mixed in...maybe next time! I bought Beacon by McClelland, a Virginia Flake with a bit of Louisiana Perique. Phil said it has a bit of pepper to it; I like peppery cigars, so I thought this would be a good choice. I did smoke a bowl on Thursday night...after a bowl of something else and 2 cigars, so while it tasted good, I cannot give a fair evaluation of the Beacon at this point.
A little later Phil sat down at the table with me and started contemplating a set list. I pulled out my list of songs that I had brought--my "if he opens it up to requests, this is what I should shout out" list. He took it and ended up playing "Fare Thee Well" from the Beyond Nature album. A young man showed up from Detroit (yes, he drove all the way from Detroit!); he got his picture taken with Phil and had him sign the back of his guitar. I had brought my 3 favorite CD booklets (Beyond Nature, Phil Keaggy (self-titled), and Sunday's Child) which Phil graciously signed for me before the show.
For the actual concert...let's just say that when Phil has an "off" night, he is still better than 99 percent of all guitar players in the world. I saw something I had never seen on Thursday night: Phil Keaggy nervous. He actually does not often play in his home town of Nashville and with so many friends, relatives, and acquaintances around, the nerves did show a few times. He made mistakes that were unlike him, and ended up playing "Days Like You" as kind of a theme song for the night: "I have days like you / stuck in the mud, feeling the blues / oh, I have days like you / just holding my ground." I think mostly because of some frustration at the sound not working right all the time as well as some playing mistakes, he stopped after an hour and a half and spent the rest of the evening talking with the folks who came.
The set list did include "John the Revelator," "Paka," "Make You Feel My Love," "Here Comes the Sun," "Shades of Green," "Salvation Army Band," and "Village Bells" (from his new Christmas album) as well as the two other songs mentioned above.
I have to say that Phil Keaggy really impressed me as a very friendly, likable fellow. He was gracious and humble and willing to share his opinions on pipes and cigars (he once was a member of a cigar-smoking Bible study called...are you ready for this..."Holy Smokes"); he had time for everyone who wanted to speak with him on Thursday night, but also made everyone feel special.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
The Alec Bradley cigar company really came on strong in 2009, releasing 4 new cigars, including the Family Blend, a mixed-filler, bargain smoke. The Family Blend was created, according to their website, "expressly for the fathers of the company's three principal executives." It is available only in the robusto size and features fillers from Honduras and Nicaragua, a binder from Indonesia, and a wrapper from Honduras. It is one of many value-priced premium cigars to hit the market this year as well.
The wrapper got a little beaten up because it does not come wrapped in cellophane (a recurring theme with Alec Bradley smokes it seems), but it still looked good overall. It had a nice oily sheen and moderate-sized veins. The body of the cigar had faint aromas of hay and humidor, while the foot had faint aromas of nutmeg and cocoa (again a casualty of no cello wrapper).
The prelight draw was fairly loose, common for a short or mixed-filler smoke. The flavor was very nice, though, with plenty of cocoa and coffee. After lighting, the first few puffs were rather indistinct from a flavor perspective. There was plenty of smoke and it was rather oily, leaving a very coated mouth-feel. During the first third, the Family Blend had flavors of leather and black coffee and it went very well with the coffee I had with it.
This cigar is pretty much a middle-of-the-road, medium-bodied smoke and I chose to enjoy it on a Sunday morning before church. It was a beautiful morning with the autumn colors just starting to ramp up to their peaks. The blue jays recently came back to East Tennessee in force and I got to watch them playing in the front yard for a few minutes. Bird song filled the air on all sides and dogs barked in the distance and then...all at once, silence. The occasional jay shriek and the wind in the treetops. Definitely a great way to start another beautiful day here in God's country.
The second third featured a rather abrupt flavor change as the black coffee flavor got much stronger and was joined by a nice peppery bite. While the first third was just good, in this segment the cigar really started to get interesting. So far the construction was as good as you get with a mixed-filler stick-no draw or burn problems, but the ash falls off easily at just over a quarter-inch.
As the final third started, the wrapper began to split and break where it earlier showed signs of wear. This points out the folly of using a thin, delicate wrapper leaf and then failing to protect the cigar with a cellophane sheath. Most of the time I don't knock anything off for incidental wrapper damage but it seems negligent to not use the cello, so in this case I deducted half a point on construction. The flavor, however, is still very nice, plenty of coffee and pepper and an introduction of roasted nuts near the end. Really a very nice cigar for the price of admission and one that I will revisit with some frequency.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
The Select Cabinet Reserve is one of several new cigars that Alec Bradley introduced this year. This is a long-filler premium cigar with filler from Honduras and Nicaragua, a binder that is confusingly described as “Trojes, Honduras, Indonesia Embetunada” and a Honduran wrapper (also from Trojes). Maybe it’s a double-binder? Maybe it’s an Indonesian wrapper grown in Honduras? Whatever.
These cigars come without a cellophane wrapper so I will knocked off “prelight” credit for a banged-up wrapper. This wrapper was slightly damaged in 2 places, but other than that it was nice and appealing. It is a dark, rugged wrapper with plenty of tooth and a few large veins. It is also nice and oily. The lack of cellophane also allowed practically all aroma to escape from the wrapper—I seriously could not smell a thing from it. The foot is nicer, with hints of cocoa but little else.
The prelight draw is very good. There is a certain spice quality to it, maybe cinnamon or nutmeg, along with some mildly sweet chocolate and just a little spicy tingle on the lips. It took two lighters to get this hefty stick burning: my Lotus triple-jet got the bulk going quickly, but I needed to switch to my Zippo & Z-Plus single torch to get one little spot going without completely immolating the rest. The first few puffs on the SCR give up some pepper spice as well some roasted nuts and weak black coffee. Those coffee flavors strengthened in the first third, but roasted nuts was still the dominant flavor. Under both were hints of black pepper and hints of nutmeg, all wrapped up in a luxuriously, thick full-bodied smoke.
The second third saw more sweetness emerge, sort of what you would except from a maduro wrapper, although nothing I saw called this a maduro. The coffee also got more dominant and the flavors of nuts and pepper diminished. Several touch-ups were required.
In the last third, the SCR became more leathery while still maintaining the undercurrent of coffee. A nicotine kick also crept up on me that I had not expected—probably a function of the size and corresponding quantity of tobacco. In the end, this was a flavorful, complex, full-bodied stick that I enjoyed a lot. Not a good choice for a newbie in this size, but definitely a smoke that was well worth the time invested.
Ever smoked a Moontrance? This video shows someone who hates flavored sticks smoking two at the same time, bound together with a rubber band. He lost a bet...
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
According to the Perdomo website, Lot 23 cigars are named after one of the company's farms in Esteli, Nicaragua. The cigar is blended with tobaccos raised exclusively on that farm which have been aged for four years before rolling and another six months before sale. The wrapper is an Ecuadorian Connecticut that the company claims "adds an elegant creaminess which complements the robust Nicaraguan fillers."
The wrapper is a beautiful honey-colored Connecticut-shade style with a delicate vein structure and it was practically flawless. This leaf would not be out of place on a Davidoff at 2 or 3 times the price. The aroma from the wrapper is hay and fresh-cut grass, along with just a tiny hint of autumn spice. The foot gives off aromas of damp earth, chocolate and just a bit of coffee.
The prelight draw was easy and had classic "mild cigar" flavors of honey, hay and cream. Despite the mild cigar appearance and prelight flavors, though, opening puffs had plenty of black pepper and coffee flavors along with what immediately struck me as a medium-bodied smoke. Perhaps this is what happens when you combine the mildest of wrappers with a more robust filler blend? A question that may get answered in this cigar. The first third was an exercise in contrasts: flavors of black coffee, roasted nuts and black pepper were tinged with a slightly edgy smoke that nonetheless had undertones of cream, honey and hay.
The second third had just as much contradiction than the first--maybe more. The flavors turned more creamy with hay and grass becoming dominant, but there seemed to be an underlying strength that absolutely prevented it from tasting like a classic mild smoke. There were also some interesting citrus notes, a little lemony zing and sourness.
In the last third, the Lot 23 definitely showed a nicotine kick that was not overwhelming, although it was unexpected. The flavors of roasted nuts returned to complement the hay and creamy notes. This was overall a very interesting cigar that brought plenty of complexity and contrast to what appeared to be your basic mild stick. Construction was superb, featuring an absolutely flawless draw and perfectly straight burn line. Because of the lighter, more nuanced notes it probably would be wise to choose this as your first cigar of the day; from my own experience, smoking a more full-bodied smoke first causes the majority of this cigar to get lost.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Genesis' Invisible Touch was the first rock album I ever bought as far as I can remember; at the very least it was my favorite for a very long time. That album was the best-selling by the band and came at the height of their commercially-successful period during the late '70s through the early '90s. I did not just stop at that one album, though; I started buying earlier albums and got interested in some of their more "progressive" work, although for whatever reason, I could not handle the Peter Gabriel/Genesis stuff during my teen years.
Years later, my tastes have evolved to where I believe some of the Gabriel albums, along with the first couple Phil Collins-led albums are the best the group ever put out. And I actually enjoyed the Ray Wilson-led Calling All Stations album, too. Although the group grew and changed over their long life, I really did enjoy pretty much every incarnation and whim of the group.
This latest, and last, box set from Genesis collects their live albums from 1973 straightforwardly-named Live to The Way We Walk, a 1990s live album. They even leave room for the 2007 Live Over Europe collection in the box, so people that already purchased the album did not have to buy it again. The sound has been remastered and there really is something here for everyone: both Gabriel and Collins-led readings of "Supper's Ready" and other classic prog-rock songs, and at least a couple versions each of some of the later pop songs.
I have really been enjoying listening to all these over the past couple weeks, getting re-acquainted with some albums like Seconds Out and Three Sides Live, and experiencing the first and last live albums for the first time. Genesis is a very strong live band and some of the live performances even improve on the studio versions. The only thing left now is the live-DVD box set...which I will most likely skip on the basis that I generally don't watch concert DVDs more than one time.
The box set here is probably for "fans only" but more casual fans would really enjoy The Way We Walk or Live Over Europe as they do feature most of the big hits Genesis is known for.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Saturdays are generally pretty slow in the cigar shop so I got to talk to Ortega a bit. He's been in cigar trade for a total of 15 years and selling the 601s for 6 years. This was a surprise to me as I don't recall having seen them before a couple of years ago. He said that they started by trying to win over their "own back yard," concentrating on getting product into stores in and around Miami before expanding. He says that almost every store in Florida carries their products now days and they have had a big presence on the east coast for years.
My humidor is rarely ever able to absorb a whole box of cigars at one time, so I rarely pick up that quantity at an event. I picked up a 601 Red, a 601 Blue and a Murcielago to bring home and smoked a Cubao Maduro there in the store with Mr. Ortega. I didn't take notes for a review, but...great cigar! I'll have to pick up another for a review soon. Thank you again to Eddie and everyone at Burns for doing what you do.
One story reports that Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee waved a copy of the bill when it passed, which only tells me that Lee must be some kind of female body-builder who should be investigated for steroid abuse because the bill was very close to 2,000 pages long. This length also guaranteed that virtually no one on either side of the argument had time to read the whole thing, which all by itself should have guaranteed its being shot down.
Will this monstrosity pass the Senate? The common wisdom is that Senate passage will be that much more difficult that House passage was, but with demonic, evil geniuses like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in charge of our legislative bodies, I guess you just don't know for sure.
One thing for certain, with less than 365 days left until election 2010, Pelosi has no given the Republicans the biggest opportunity she could dream of to take her down. Less than a week ago the inhabitants of two states showed their contempt for the Marxist (Democratic) dream by voting overwhelmingly different from their votes for Obama last year. This bill's passage will create on more anger and frustration in the American people. If the Republicans can get someone with half as much leadership skill as Newt Gingrich in 1994, they will take back the House of Representatives next year and make large cuts into the Democrats' hegemony in the Senate.
Friday, November 6, 2009
We need more cops like her and, more importantly, more shooters who can hit their targets!
More information is sure to follow in the weeks and months to come and eventually Hasan will probably "dance with ol' Sparky" or something to that effect, but at this moment, it is appropriate to celebrate a hero like Officer Munley.
It’s always exciting to trying something new from someone who is acknowledged to be a master of the art of blending cigars; when the cigar in question is a real bargain, too, it only adds to the equation. I had my first Tabacos Baez over a year ago and really enjoyed it. Don Pepin Garcia created this blend and named it for the town of his birth. The Serie SF is the Short Filler version of the Baez; there was little to no information about the cigar online but judging from Garcia’s propensities, it is likely to be heavy on the Nicaraguan leaf.
The cigar looks well-made, especially for a $3 stick. The veins are visible but not too large. The wrapper is oily and so dark you could call it an oscuro. The aroma from the wrapper is mild, with some leather, tobacco and chocolate notes; from the foot a deeper chocolate note is evident. It is not a tightly-packed cigar, but you would not expect a $3 short-filler cigar to be anything other than what it is. My recent experience with the Garcia-made Benchmade short-filler cigar has convinced me that the only way to cut these cigars is with a punch. While I have practically given up punching cigars, on a short-filler stick, it is often the only way to prevent getting a mouth full of chewing tobacco every time you take a puff.
There were definite coffee notes on the first few puffs, along with some cocoa hints in a very smooth and creamy smoke. There was a nice peppery finish as well. After a third was done, the predominant flavor was still black coffee along with some smoother chocolate and edge black pepper flavors. The cigar was medium-to-full in body and the ash dropped off fairly short with a minimal amount of flakiness. It performed very, very well for a short filler stick.
The second third got stronger in the black pepper department with the lingering and cumulative spice effect that brings. The final third started off peppery with some nice black coffee supporting note and just a touch of chocolatey sweetness to round it out. With the positive flavor notes, it would be a pretty safe assumption that I would love this stogie, but I found myself rather underwhelmed by it. Although it had a nice balance of coffee, chocolate and pepper, there was just something missing. Maybe it was strength. Maybe it was fullness of flavor. Whatever it was, I found myself unable to consider this to be anything other than a slightly above-average bargain smoke. Because of the price I will undoubtedly buy more, but not that many.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
One of Gurkha’s non-B&M offerings is this Triple Ligero, a frequent special buy on Cigars International and Cigar Bid. I got mine about a year ago, so technically this has been aging for a while. The only information I could find on this stick comes from CI, where I was able to learn only that it has a Brazilian wrapper.
The bottom half of the cigar is covered with a cedar wrap. That led to a portion of the wrapper having a very strong cedar aroma. The foot also had plenty of cedar as well as sweet chocolate. The wrapper has some very dark spots and some larger veins that are more seen than felt. The light/dark areas on the wrapper followed no pattern or even the veins very well and made the stick rather unattractive to look at.
The prelight draw had a load of chocolatey sweetness and not much else. Initial puffs were sweet and remarkably smooth for what is billed as a Triple Ligero, implying all kinds of strength and harshness. The first third of the TL had flavors of sweet chocolate and creamy coffee, as well as just a tiny bit of pepper spice that is normally associated with ligero tobacco. There was also some sweet spice in the form of hints of cinnamon from time to time. The smoke was, so far, just medium-bodied. Truly this is not your father’s “triple ligero” cigar.
The second third saw the pepper spice fade completely and the flavor of black coffee came to the forefront, pushing aside the sweet chocolate and replacing the creamy coffee aspect. Construction was good—the draw was great and the burn line straight, but the ash was flaky and tended to banana-peel if left on for more than half an inch.
The final third was pleasantly chocolately again the black coffee flavor was very evident as well. Overall, despite its Triple Ligero designation, this was a nice, mild-to-medium bodied smooth-smoking cigar that would serve very well as a morning smoke. This is not even close to a powerhouse—not even for a Gurkha. While being fairly mild and smooth, though, it still had plenty of flavors ordinarily associated with stronger smokes. Interesting and unexpected.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
CAO has been known for many years for creative blends using unusual tobacco (Brazilia, Italia) and trend-setting blends (MX2, LX2) and their marketing has always been seen as contemporary and flashy. This year CAO took a turn toward the more traditional style of both cigar and marketing with La Traviata. This is a resurrection of a hundred-year-old Cuban brand which uses the original-style artwork and a blend that attempts to create a truly "classic old world Havana flavor profile." To top it off, they decided to make this smoke for the price-conscious aficionado in light of the current economic climate. The filler features Nicaraguan Pueblo Nuevo and Dominican tobacco, while the binder is from Cameroon and the wrapper is Ecuadorian.
This cigar is a dark brown color and has a fairly rustic look, with several medium to large veins in evidence and a few blemishes. There is some toothiness and quite a bit of oil. The aroma from the wrapper is chicken coop while the foot has a manure and compost quality to it. While that may not sound particularly appealing, it is the aroma that Cuban sticks famously are supposed to have.
In prelight, the draw is very good and the flavors are cocoa and some spice. The initial puffs have black pepper, black coffee and leather flavors, along with a fairly full-bodied, oily smoke. The first third of La Traviata was earthy, nutty and leathery with hints of espresso bean and loads of black pepper. The smoke had also settled quickly into the low end of the full-bodied range.
The second third was just as tasty as the first and there were even some herbal notes in there. The construction was fantastic--wonderful draw, even burn line and ash that regularly held on for an inch or more.
The last segment of La Traviata was very good, too. There was still plenty of black pepper and coffee along with more roasted nuts and leather. Honestly, I guess the flavor did not change dramatically throughout the stick, but it was all very enjoyable. This is a medium-to-full bodied smoke that held up the tradition of Cuban-style smokes very well--somewhat odd for a company that once ran the ad "Cuban Scmuban." I would like to take this opportunity to say a public "thank you" to Tim Ozgener, Jon Huber, and everyone else at CAO for producing another great stick, especially one this tasty that costs this little. Truly a gift in these troubled times.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Avo Uvezian is a modern-day renaissance man who started out as a musician and composer before lending his name to one of the Davidoff Co.'s highest-regarded cigars. Avo describes the 787 as an "edition for cigar aficionados." It features Dominican filler and binder combined with an Ecuadorian wrapper. Considering the fairly exorbitant price tag, you might consider it quite unlike me to purchase one of these and you would be correct in that assessment: I owe a debt of thanks to Tracy at CBC/Burns for gifting me this fine stick.
The cigar is beautiful to look at with a wonderfully flawless wrapper, light veins, and a generous cap. The foot looks a little damaged, but that could have happened at any time so I won't subtract any points there. When I took it out of the cello, the first impression I got was a light citrusy aroma coming from the cigar. When I sniffed closer I could pick up some hay as well and there was just a faint hint of cocoa from the foot.
The prelight draw is as exceptional as you would expect for a cigar of this price and made by Davidoff. The citrus aroma was definitely not anomalous; the prelight tasted like hay and sweet citrus fruit and there was just the smallest amount of spicy tingle on the lips. The Davidoff heritage is also obvious after lighting--the flavors of hay and the smooth creaminess of the smoke are one of the hallmarks I have learned to associate with ultra-fine mild to medium cigars.
The second third started mostly the same--hay and cream--but also featured some fruit flavors, both the orange/citrus from earlier and something a little harder to pin down. The draw was utterly perfect and the burn line was as straight as I have ever seen on a cigar smoked outdoors.
The surprising thing about this stick is that it did not just stay in that "Davidoff mild" zone but moved on. In the last third I got flavors of pepper and cedar that eclipsed the hay and cream. There was also some honey that complemented the fruit essences. The 787 smoked slowly and evenly needing only one minor touch-up. The body built throughout as well until it finished as a solid medium-bodied stick. This is a truly excellent cigar that actually seems worth the high cost of admission, if only on a special occasion basis. It is rare that I give extra-high praise to a stick that costs over $10...honestly, they really have to bowl me over in some way at that price and very few have. The Avo 787 was as flavorful and complex as it should be for the price, and the construction is absolutely peerless.
Monday, November 2, 2009
In 2008, Pete Johnson and Tatuaje started a new tradition of very-limited edition Halloween-themed cigars. While I missed the Frank (short for Frankenstein), I was able to get my hands on The Drac this year. This stick is so limited in release that it does not cast a shadow or show a reflection in the mirror--there is no information about the makeup of the cigar on any website I could find, except for the fact that the wrapper is a Habano Maduro. Since pretty much all of Tatuaje's other offerings are all or mostly Nicaraguan blends, I would say it is pretty safe to say that this stick features Nicaraguan filler and binder and that the wrapper is most likely from the same country.
The wrapper is quite a dark maduro with some rather prominent (jugular) veins visible. It is a little toothy (that wasn't meant to be a pun, but...) and it is very oily. The single band at the foot is affixed upside down--in fact, the entire box of cigars (torpedos shaped like stakes) is shipped upside down in a coffin-shaped box, painted black outside and red inside. The aroma from the wrapper is barnyard and leather; from the foot there is chocolate and compost.
I picked up this stick two days before Halloween, so it was natural for this to be smoked on that night. The nice thing about a rural neighborhood is that the chances of trick-or-treaters accosting the homefront is pretty unlikely. Regardless, I set up shop with a bucket of candy, warm clothes and my Drac on this chilly Halloween. Before heading outside, my wife and I watched Jamie Lee Curtis reprise the role of Laurie Strode in Halloween: 20 Years Later on TV. When I stepped out, I was greeted with dogs howling down the lane howling at the moon. Perfect!
Prelight, the draw met with a little more resistance than I prefer, but it was hard to tell how that would affect things down the line. The flavors were of coffee beans, cocoa powder, and maybe some dried fruit and some citrusry sweetness. Initial puffs brought the cocoa powder and dark roast coffee out immediately. The draw turned out to be an issue right from the start. I initially tried to remedy the situation by clipping more of the head off (one sure-fire way to kill a vampire is to remove its head, then burn it and the body separately); it did not provide much relief, though. I then took the draw poker tool on my Xikar multi-tool and used it like a fang to puncture the tight tobacco near the head; that proved to be the trick to ensure the treat of a copious flow of smoke. I ended up having to reopen it this way every 5 minutes or so the rest of the way, which was a little annoying. On the other hand, I ended up cracking the wrapper a bit when I tried to re-clip it. This ordinarily leads to an immediately tendency to unravel, but the Drac held firm. I was careful the rest of the way and had no unraveling problems. So I would say the construction deficiency of the tight draw was virtually canceled out by the fact that this cigar is one of the few torps that I have had try to unravel on me when I clipped just a tiny amount too much off. The first third was wonderfully flavorful--the Habano wrapper provided the dark coffee and cocoa flavors with just a little pepper spice so far.
The second third continued just as nicely. With the special occasion for which this cigar was produced, not to mention its moniker, you might expect this cigar to be a monster. Instead, if was a full-bodied but extremely smooth with no nicotine kick evident as the second third passed into history.
In the last third, the Drac got more leathery and started to show some strength. Overall, a great smoke although one with a price tag that is prohibitive except as the occasional special occasion smoke. While it would be nice to buy a whole box, the impact on the wallet would be a virtually bloodletting. It is worth an annual purchase, though, and I hope to get in on whatever next year's Halloween offering will be.