Friday, June 21, 2024

From One Year to the Next

On the first full day of summer last year, I was lamenting the need to fire up the propane heater to enjoy a cigar on the deck. 


This year, the wall thermometer tells me that today's evening repast will require no such preparations. I do expect it may cool slightly when the sun sets and I'm fully ensconced outside with a cigar and bourbon, and some new blues coming from the outdoor speaker.


Truth be told, I prefer the present weather to the previous year's.

Happy Friday.

Cheers!

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Summer Kickoff

After what seemed like a long wet spring, summer officially arrived on Thursday. And in typical Virginia fashion, the season arrived in a heat wave. I always welcome the warm weather nonetheless. Though technically summer officially arrives at exactly 4:51 p.m. EDT, this is interestingly the earliest summer solstice since June 20, 1796, when George Washington was president.

After I set out the morning lawn sprinklers, I poured a cup of coffee and sat down with a little Sagrado Feito Connecticut. 


The Sagrado Feito Connecticut is a 5 x 38 Petite Corona. Part of the May Luxury Cigar Club mailing, it's been in my humidor just about 5 weeks. The rustic looking Connecticut wrapper hides Dominican binder and fillers. The tobaccos are said to be aged before rolling, but that's as specific information as I've found.

After taking a couple cuts from the pointed cap, I found the pointed tip was still a little small for comfortable smoking, but the draw was wide open so I left it there. The first quarter of the cigar required constant effort to maintain a good light, but when the small cigar was lit, it produced plenty of smoke. As the cigar progressed, the burn improved significantly. 

The flavors were sweet but mild, with nuts and cedar predominating. Near the end a splash of white pepper made an appearance. I've smoked only one cigar from Sagrado previously, the Sagrado Lilith Petite Corona. That cigar I found superior to the Feito, and an exceptional coffee accompaniment. This one was less impressive, though a morning coffee and cigar is always an enjoyable moment.

Cheers!

Monday, June 17, 2024

A Big Smoke for Friday: El Septimo Empress of Sheba

It took me most of Friday to decide on my evening selections. I guess that's the problem with having a wide selection on hand. I picked up this El Septimo Empress of Sheba about a month ago, when shopping for some celebratory cigars. The 6 x 60 Gordo is part of El Septimo's Emperor Collection. The Emperor Collection is dedicated to history's most sovereign rulers. The deep brown maduro wrapper of the Empress of Sheba glistens behind the decorative gold and blue bands.

El Septimo is characteristically unrevealing on the details of the blend. When I asked to cigar shop proprietor about the blend, he simply responded, "You got me." The cigar looked enticing so I took a chance on one.  


The El Septimo Empress Empress Sheba has been resting in my humidor for just a month. That's the minimum time I prefer to keep new additions before they are smoke, though I am not always as patient as I plan. I decided to use a punch to open the cap and found I loose, open draw, right near the edge of my preference.

The initial flavor that hit me was a moderate white pepper. That was soon joined by a creamy dark chocolate and nut blend. Smoke production was copious. Chocolate and espresso came to the forefront through the bulk of the cigar. Occasionally another smack of white pepper would mix things up a bit.


The large cigar fell right in the medium bodied range. In the second half, I felt a bit of strength come through, however the flavor profile changed little throughout the smoke. It did have the feel of well-aged tobacco, though I have no info to confirm that. The burn was a bit faster than I expected, ending at around 90 minutes. Overall an enjoyable, though unexceptional smoke, if a bit on the pricey side.


I enjoyed a couple pours of one of my go-to sippers, Four Roses Small Batch Select. There isn't too much to be said about it that I haven't already said in previous Musings. This Four Roses bourbon is crafted from a blend of six of the Four Roses mash bills and is bottled at 104 proof. The profile is filled with sweet, dark fruit, vanilla and oak, with just a touch of spice. It's a moderately priced bourbon that pairs well with cigars, fruits, and cheese. Just the thing for weekends in these parts.

Cheers!

Friday, June 14, 2024

Flag Day and National Bourbon Day - What a Combo!

June 14 is filled with truly "Made in America" celebrations. Today is Flag Day, the day we celebrate our Nation's flag and all it represents. On the same day we also mark National Bourbon Day, the day we celebrate an "official" American beverage. 


On June 14, 1777 the Continental Congress resolved "That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation." Our first flag has evolved over time to the one we proudly fly today with 13 stripes and 50 stars. To this day, I hold it to be the most striking of any Nation's flag. There are many misguided and anti-freedom people in the US today who claim our flag is a racist or oppressive symbol. Ironically, a majority of those making those accusations, would hardly be as free, if even allowed to avoid the death penalty, under the governments they so ignorantly wish to emulate. 

National Bourbon Day came later. On May 4, 1964 Congress proclaimed bourbon to be a “distinctive product of the United States.” I am not sure when the National holiday came to be, nor how the day came to be celebrated on June 14. Tradition, or legend, holds that May 4 was actually the first time bourbon was distilled, but who would really know? The day likely has more to do with distillery marketing than history, but who could be against such a celebration? There is certainly an argument that could be be made for joining it with Flag Day given its connection to our great Nation.

So fly the flag and enjoy a sip of bourbon today, and be thankful for both.

Fun fact: Viewing the American flag leads to higher brain function.

Cheers!

Thursday, June 13, 2024

The Creation of the Beer Fridge

It begins here.


And finishes in the basement or garage. That's where the majority of its existence will be.

Cheers!

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Sunday Wine, Hors d'Oeuvres, and a Cigar

Aah. . . Sunday afternoon. Even in retirement, Sunday's remain special. Mass in the morning, then a nice breakfast/lunch, followed by reading, and piddling around the house or yard. There was a time when Sunday afternoon also included a visit to one of our favorite local pubs for drinks and light food before dinner. Now it we are more likely to spend the late afternoon on the deck, with of course, drinks and light food, with the added bonus that I can also enjoy a cigar.

This past Sunday afternoon I had an urge for wine instead of beer or bourbon. It just seemed right for the sunny afternoon. I selected a bottle of Rebellion "Commonwealth" red wine. The local wine is from the Rebellion Bourbon Bar in Fredericksburg. Rebellion offers a house stave pick of Maker's Mark bourbon. When they receive the bourbon, they also receive the barrel it was aged in. Rebellion work with a local vintner to produce a red wine aged for 8 months in the barrels.


My wine knowledge is generally limited to liking a wine, or not. I do favor full bodied reds. The bourbon barrel aged wine is semi-dry with sweet dark berry fruit notes. It is low in tannins with no bitterness. I didn't find any distinctive or different notes, outside of a very pleasantly drinking wine.  And, one that happened to pair quite nicely with the La Paline Black Label cigar I chose to enjoy.


The La Palina Black Label is a 6 x 50 Toro. The cigar has not spent much time in my humidor as I just picked it up last week when visiting the cigar lounge. However I was most interested in trying it out, and it just looked like it would pair well. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut.

The cigar uses a Brazilian Bahiano wrapper, which encases a double binder of Dominican and Nicaraguan leaves, as well as filler tobaccos from those two countries as well. The Black Label kicks off black pepper spice, along with hints of cocoa and roasted nuts. As the smoke progressed the cocoa shifted to more of a sweet dark chocolate. The cigar provides a full bodied smoke, although it is not harsh at all and should be approachable by most smokers. I enjoyed a 90 minute smoke with no burn issues.


I had high hopes for the pairing, and I was not disappointed. The two flavor profiles were complimentary, like a classic red wine and chocolate pairing.

Cheers!

Monday, June 10, 2024

Friday Evening - A Cigar, A Rye, and New Music

I'd been looking forward to revisiting the Buzzard's Roost Cigar Rye, and finally did pull it down from the shelf on Friday evening. I also grabbed a Rocky Patel The Edge 20th Anniversary to smoke along with the rye on a pleasantly warm and low humidity evening. This sort of weather doesn't last long in Virginia.

Batch 2 of Buzzard's Roost Cigar Rye was released in the fall of 2022. The mash bill is 95 percent rye and 5 percent malted barley and bottled at moderate 105 proof. The #1 char barrels used for the cigar blend were smoked over tobacco leaves.


The aroma is light in the rocks glass, but a rye spice and a hint smoke come through. The rye spiciness is forward in the sip. Tobacco and citrus notes come through after the initial spice. A caramel and tobacco smoke presence coats the palate in a lingering finish. Taking a sip of water clears the spice and helps the tobacco smoke come through. I enjoyed the Buzzard's Roost Cigar Rye. It's not the typical cognac - port - wine finish of other "cigar blends" but makes a quite pleasant pairing for the cigar.


The Rocky Patel Edge 20th Anniversary is a smoke I've enjoyed often. This particular 5 1/2" X 50 Robusto has been resting in the humidor for a year. The 20th Anniversary was introduced by Rocky Patel in 2022 to mark the 20th anniversary of the Edge series. The stick has a 10 year aged Ecuador Sumatra wrapper, a Honduran Broadleaf binder, and filler tobaccos from Honduras and Panama. The chocolate brown, silky wrapper gives evokes a classic HERSHEY'S Chocolate Bar. The medium bodied smoke delights with rich notes of espresso, dark chocolate, and nuts. The flavor was consistent throughout the smoke, which was just fine with me as it was pairing with the rye most beautifully.


The Friday evening was made even more enjoyable with some new music from a favorite artist. I'd been looking forward to Joanne Shaw Taylor's new blues album to be released. As Friday was the release date, it got a couple play throughs in the course of this evening.

Cheers!

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Sunday Humor

A laugh for your Sunday morning.

A preacher was delivering a temperance sermon one hot Sunday afternoon. With great exposition, he said, “If I had all the beer in the world, I’d take it and throw it into the river.”

With greater conviction, he banged his fist on the pulpit; “And if I had all the wine in the world, I’d take it and throw it into the river.”

Finally, he said, “And if I had all the whiskey in the world, I’d take it and throw it into the river.”

Sensing he delivered a powerful sermon, he whipped his brow and sat down.

The choirmaster, with shock on his face, looked over the congregation, stood very cautiously, and announced with a wry smile, “For our closing song, let us sing Hymn #365: “Shall We Gather at the River?”


This laugh courtesy of OldNFO

Cheers!