Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Select With E.P. Carrillo Allegiance

Recently I've been going back through some of the whiskeys on my shelves that have not been opened for a while. Sometimes they are ones that didn't excite me, or I just didn't like, when they were first opened. Others are simply ones that have been overlooked in the crowd. Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Select falls somewhere in the middle of that spectrum.

The 375ml bottle was picked up in spring of 2022. I drank a bit, and then it slowly got pushed back and lower on the shelves as new bottles made their way in. Frankly, at this point I didn't recall too much about it. 

The 94 proof whiskey is reminiscent of the classic Jack Daniel's Old No. 7. There's a mild aroma of fresh baked bread, caramel, and a faint alcohol burn in the nose. Upon tasting, the "Tennessee Whiskey" charcoal filtered softness is there as expected. It's a milder, softer profile than the proof number might indicate. Sweet caramel, oak, and butter cookie come to mind. Although I don't have any No. 7 on hand for comparison, and have not tasted it in a while, this strikes me as a slightly enhanced Old No. 7. Of course, that's to be expected as these single barrels are the source of the classic whiskey's blend.

As for the cigar for this weekend afternoon pairing, I grabbed a E. P. Carrillo Allegiance Sidekick. The 5 x 50 stick is covered in a mottled, dark chocolate brown Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper. The cigar has a rustic appearance. The binder and fillers are comprised of Nicaraguan tobaccos. Looking at the cigar I wonder if I have overstepped the whiskey. The smoke starts off with a kick of cedar and pepper. As it warms, the flavor picks up bitter cocoa. It's a gritty, earthy smoke, unlike what the Jack Daniel's presented.

I spent some time taking fast sips of the drink and puffs on the cigar, varying which came first. I was trying to decide how they worked together. It was not a bust, but this was not a star pairing either. I went into the tasting with some apprehension. Sometimes there's just happens to be a cigar I feel like smoking and a whiskey I want to (re)explore, so I go forth nonetheless. The Jack Daniel's did not hit my usual preferences in a whiskey, while the cigar did. In any case, it was an afternoon spent sipping and smoking, so what's not to love?


Monday, September 18, 2023

Gold Leaf Adorned Cavalier Genève BII Viso Jalapa

This unique cigar came in my July Luxury Cigar Club pack. I have been enjoying this subscription for a few months. I usually receive cigars that are unknown to me, be they new or limited releases, or older varieties not sold any longer. The Cavalier Genève BII Viso Jalapa Robusto Gordo was an interesting inclusion, and a brand I was not familiar with. Especially interesting was the 24-karat gold leaf that adorns the wrapper of the Cavalier Genèva cigar.

I found this to be a fairly bold cigar. The Nicarguan Visa Jalapa tobacco used in the wrapper is described as being similar in flavor to ligero tobaccos, the top leaves of the plant which produce the strongest tobacco used in cigar, though slightly milder. The binder and filler tobaccos are Nicaraguan habano. I could certainly detect the presence the bold leaves upon lighting. Dark chocolate, pepper, and a sharp grassy note made for a full flavored smoke. 

The burn on this particular stick required attention through the first two thirds. One side of the cigar burned substantially slower than the other. I wouldn't call it canoeing in the strictest sense, it was not a narrow line going down the side. Imagine one half of the cigar being coated in flame resistant material. This wreaked havoc with my fixation on an even burn. I managed to ignore the lopsided burn until the difference reached 1 1/4 inches or more before touching up. The ash was quite solid and required effort to knock it off when trying to even the burn. Undoubtably this contributed to the short 45 minute burn from the 5 x 54 stick.

I was very interested in seeing how the smoking through the gold lead would be. Fortunately by that point the burn was progressing evenly.

The gold leaf glowed a bit as the burn hit it, but mostly held on and maintained the diamond shape over the ash. I held the nub as long as I could, barely touching it to my lips for the final light draws.

Despite the burn issues I enjoyed the bold smoke offered by the Cavalier Genève BII Viso Jalapa. It's certainly a cigar I would smoke again. I enjoyed this one simply with some carbonated water. If I acquire more in the future, I'm definitely pouring a strongly flavored bourbon to go along with it.


Friday, September 15, 2023

Five O'Clock Friday: Irish Humor

A laugh to start the weekend.


Few Bourbon With Fratello Arlequin

I was surprised to find that I haven't reviewed either part of this pairing previously. Both the Few Bourbon and the Fratello Arlequin have often been featured in my Instagram posts. Time to correct that. 

Fratello Arlequin sports a chocolate brown Mexican San Andrés wrapper leaf over a Ecuardoran binder. The filler tobaccos are from Nicaragua and Peru. This one is a 6 1/4 x 54 Toro. (Every time I type Arlequin, my laptop autocorrects it to harlequin. Arlequin is the Spanish word for harlequin. Autocorrect can be annoying.) The cigar is the last one of a bulk purchase made in February 2022 so is well rested.

The medium bodied cigar gives rich notes of earth and cacao. There's roasted coffee and cinnamon coming through as well. As the cigar warms, the flavors picks up a sweeter, creamy aspect that smooths out the whole profile for a very enjoyable smoke.

Few Bourbon is one that seems to get mixed reviews from bourbon fans. It's a younger whiskey, aged less than four years, so still has a few rough edges, but I enjoy it. It's got bread, corn, and vanilla notes, with a fairly intense pepper and cinnamon spice. There's peppery finish is long lasting. 

Few Bourbon drinks a little hotter than expected from the 100 proof. However, I am not sure that's really a bad thing when pairing with a flavorful cigar.


Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Georgian Chacha Tasting

Wherever you go in the world, there seems to be specialty alcohol "native" to the region. We once had Arak with a shop owner in Bethlehem who then wanted us to visit the "high end" part of his store. I remember getting a hotel manager in Italy to open his bar after a late arrival to explore Grappa. Most recently we got to try Unicum in Hungary last fall. Though it wasn't "in country" I recently had the chance to try Georgian chacha that was brought back from Georgia (the country not the southern US state.) Our son and his wife and were given a sampler of chacha by their friend who had been stationed there. Knowing I'd be interested, they brought it with them to share during a recent visit.

Chacha is a pomace brandy distilled from the leftover grapes from wine making. The samples in the package were 45% ABV although I read that some natively brewed versions can reach 85%. It can be aged in various woods or flavored with herbs or fruits. Typically served very chilled, the bottles rested in the freezer for a bit before our exploration.

The four varieties in the sampler were Classic Chacha, Oak Aged Chacha, Honey Chacha, and Tarragon Chacha. That was the order in which we tried them. We also had some hastily gathered food pairings based on recommendations on the package.

The classic chacha was accompanied by a thin slice of ginger. The flavor I thought was fairly plain, with lots of the expected raw alcohol burn. A tiny nibble of ginger moderated the flavor. Next up was the Oak Aged variety. This one spent 12 months in oak barrels. The oak influence was strong and it reminded me of the oak notes present in bourbon. The suggested pairing was BBQ and cheese, which we faked with a some homemade sauce dabbed on a cracker with a bit of cheese. The oak aged flavor was definitely my favorite of the options.

The next pour, the honey chacha was perhaps the most mild. It had a sweet honey flavor. I found this one somewhat uninteresting, though my companions seemed to enjoy it the most. Finally it was time to try the tarragon flavored chacham. This was the strongest flavor of the group. And for my tastes, the least enjoyable. The mild licorice flavor was not enticing. Did I mention the beverage was green?  I enjoy tarragon as a seasoning in many dishes, but it did not excite me as a drink flavor. 

I found this an interesting tasting experience. It was fun to explore another regional liquor. Of our group, I think I enjoyed the chacha the most. The rest thought the strong alcoholic beverage was too harsh and not something they'd try again. I on the other I hand would, and am intrigued by some of the other stronger variations I've since read about.


Monday, September 11, 2023

Buzzard's Roost Cigar Rye and Rocky Patel A.L.R. 2nd Edition Pairing

I was fortunate enough to win a random drawing in a Facebook Bourbon and Cigar group for a bottle of Buzzard's Roost Cigar Rye recently. I had not heard of Buzzard's Roost prior to this event. The Kentucky company sources whiskey and then uses specifically prepared barrels to finish. From the website,
We start by sourcing the best aged whiskey we can find, but the real magic is in our barrels. We use only brand new, 53-gallon white oak barrels that are carefully toasted and very lightly charred. Each one is designed from the ground up to deliver a specific flavor profile.
We work closely with our cooperage to tweak every parameter of the barrel  - from the seasoning to the charring to the development of our custom toast profiles. All of our barrels are unique and proprietary to our company, giving Buzzard’s Roost a truly one-of-a kind flavor. After resting only a few weeks in our new barrels, the whiskey is purposefully transformed and ready for bottling.
The initial batch of Cigar Rye was released in April 2022 to much success, and Batch #2 followed in late 2022. The mash bill consists of 95 percent rye and 5 percent malted barley, and is bottled at 105 proof. Buzzard's Roos uses all #1 char barrels to finish their whiskeys. The light char allows other flavors from the different barrel treatments to be highlighted. For the Cigar Rye, the charred barrels are smoked over aged tobacco leaves.

Buzzard's Roost Cigar Rye pours a bright amber brown, viscous liquid. Rye spice and smoke greet the nose. A deeper inhalation picks up a trace of alcohol. Upon sipping, a touch of tobacco smoke hits but very quickly there's a sweet and citrus impression coming through. Caramel and a citrus rye spiciness take the foreground. After the sip, the dry leather and smoke note lingers for a long time. The smoke finish is mild and reminiscent of tobacco and wood.

Since the whiskey was unknown to me, I chose to pair it with a known, old favorite, Rocky Patel Aged Limited Rare 2nd Edition. I select one in the limited edition Bala vitola. The Bala is a 5 3/4 x 58 Perfecto that is widest at the foot. It was created for a special limited humidor from Rocky Patel. I don't own one of the $2,500 humidors, but managed to obtain a few of the cigars at a cigar event attended by Rocky Patel last winter.

The ALR 2 starts out with a bold pepper kick. As the burn progresses the profile is quickly joined by espresso and cocoa. The touch of sweetness that lingers in the finish completes the picture. 

The Buzzard's Roost Cigar Rye had a different flavor profile than a lot of finished whiskeys. It wasn't as sweet as a port or rum cask finish. Neither is it a peat smoke finish. The tobacco and smoke flavors of the Buzzard's Roost Cigar Rye complimented the similar profile of the cigar. Additionally, it's an enjoyable flavor that does not overwhelm and could just as easily be enjoyed alone, without a cigar. 

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Buy a Priest a Beer Day

September 9 is "International Buy a Priest a Beer Day." This annual holiday serves to remind us that priests are real people who also enjoy a good beverage. This recognition is the brainchild of the folks over at The Catholic Gentlemen.
This festive holiday traces its origins back to the pious deed of St. Hopswald of Aleyard, the first man to buy his priest a beer. The legend goes that St. Hopswald, a master brewer by trade, was a Teutonic pagan who was converted and baptized by a zealous Catholic priest.

One day, St. Hopswald committed a grievous sin. Without wasting a moment, he ran quickly to his priest and confessed. Later that day, as he was particularly enjoying the peace of a clean conscience, St. Hopswald was so filled with gratitude for his priest’s sacramental ministry that he rushed to the rectory and offered to buy his priest a beer.

Okay, if you haven’t figured it out by now, St. Hopswald wasn’t real, but your priest is, and without priestly ministry, getting to heaven would be well nigh impossible!

Believe it or not, priests are real people, and they enjoy socializing over good food and drink as much as anyone. They also have a thankless and difficult job, a job that we couldn’t get to heaven without. Priests are the lifeblood of the Church, and they deserve some appreciation.

Even if you aren't able to buy a round or two for your favorite priest today, raise a pint today in honor of the men who devote their lives to the Church.

The late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI celebrates his 88th birthday.


Friday, September 8, 2023