Thursday, July 11, 2024

A (Very) Hot Smoking Time

We were on the road for eleven days to end June and begin July. There were many fun times while we engaged in other interests, but sadly no opportunity for enjoying a cigar. We did make a brief pass through Frankfort, KY, which included a stop at the Buffalo Trace Distiller to shop and do a morning tasting.

After a long day spent catching up on things around the house upon our return, I was looking forward to relaxing with a cigar. Alas, we're in the midst of a summer extreme heat wave, and the screen porch was hovering over 100°. I noticed after dinner that the thermometer needle had dropped below the 100° mark. Close enough.

Grabbing a Foundation Aksum from my travel humidor, I turned on the fans and tried to make the best of it. (I traveled with cigars, just didn't get to smoke them.)

The Foundation Aksum is a 5 x 50 Robusto cloaked in a very dark Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper leaf. The binder is Connecticut broadleaf and the filler tobaccos hail from the Jalapa and Estelí regions in Nicaragua. The cigar is a bold, full bodied smoke with rich notes of sweet espresso and dark chocolate predominating. Black pepper, and dark cherry and raison notes blended throughout. This is the same cigar previously released as Foundation Metapa. A trademark issue prompted the rebranding.

After getting settled and adjusted to the heat, I poured the remaining bit of Wilderness Trail Bourbon from my travel flask. (I also traveled with bourbon, but didn't need to pour from the flanked often since other sipping opportunities did abound.)

Wilderness Trail is a wheated bourbon. The distillery releases in small batches of 18 barrels, after 5-6 years of aging. Strong aromas of vanilla and caramel waft from the glass. There's a pleasing oak presence which joins the vanilla and caramel. A hefty dose of cinnamon and pepper spiciness rounds out the finish. That spicy heat makes a flavorful match for the robust cigar.

Perhaps some less "hot" flavor choices for the pairing may have been better for the very warm temperature. Still, the one hour break was welcome and enjoyable.


Thursday, July 4, 2024

Independence Day

A thought for today.

For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.
— Thomas Jefferson, letter to Roger C. Weightman on the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, 24 June 1826.

This ending to Jefferson's last letter is worth remembering today.


Friday, June 28, 2024

Summer Coffee and Smoke

This week, I finally got around to planting a couple of trees we acquired about a month ago. They should have been put in the ground right away but I had to wait for a back issue to be (mostly) mitigated. They are finally in the ground, in the midst of an extreme heat wave. Time will tell how well they do.  

After that morning chore, I retired to the screen porch, with a Caldwell Lost & Found Cream Machine. Despite the heat, I also had a cup of cappuccino. We often enjoy a cappuccino in the afternoon. It's a faux pas to order cappuccino in the afternoon in Italy, but in this house, the rules don't apply. 

The Cream Machine had been hiding in the humidor since July of 2023. The light brown 6 1/4 x 52 Toro is wrapped with Ecuadoran Brazilian-seed Arapiraca tobacco. The rest of the blend is Dominican, consisting of a Dominican Piloto binder, with Dominican Piloto, Dominican HVA and Dominican Habano fillers. The cigar is hefty but has an open draw when cut. As suspected, the flavor profile started off mild, with creamy peanut and graham cracker notes. There's a hint of white pepper and cheddar. Through most of the smoke the flavor was consistent and the cigar burned well. I was enjoying the pairing with the creamy cappuccino.

In the last third of the Cream Machine, it started developing a bitter note. Interestingly the ash became very flaky at the same time, and started leaving a bit of a mess in my lap and chair. Could be I was smoking too fast or perhaps just the nature of that particular stick. The flavor was not unpleasant, but also a significant twist that I did not find as enjoyable. Overall the experience, coupled with the relaxation, made for a delightful afternoon repast. 


Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Celebrating the Eve of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist

One of the oldest celebrations in the Catholic Church, the Nativity of St. John the Baptist was June 24. Traditionally, a bonfire marked the eve of the Saint's birthday. For our part, we decided to enjoy a small commemoration with a fire, food, cigars, and drink.

We were joined for our celebration by a good priest friend, the evening starting out with a delicious slow cooked pork dinner. Afterwards we retired to the back yard for the main event. I grabbed a couple of the newly redesigned Wise Man Maduro selections from Foundation Cigars. We poured The Macallan Edition No.1 Scotch, and Colleen set out a selection of cheeses and salami to nibble on.

The fire was small, in deference to the high temperatures outdoors, and sat further back from the fire pit than usual. Still, it was warm! 

Foundation Cigars recently released a redesigned Wise Man line. The Wise Man Maduro and Wise Man Corojo. The older El Güegüense and Wise Man Maduro lines were discontinued. The new cigars are made at the My Father Cigars factory, another change. The previous lines were produced by the Aganorsa team

The 6 x 52 Toro has a dark reddish, Mexican San Andrés wrapper. Two Nicaraguan binders from Nicaragua Estelí and Jalapa regions, with a mix of fillers from Estelí, Condega and Jalapa.

The Wise Man Maduro was an excellent smoke. The cigars had been resting in my humidor for 6 weeks. I prefer a little longer rest for new arrivals but they performed wonderfully. The medium to full bodied smoke had hints of toasted nuts, earth, and sweet chocolate. There was a pleasing cedar spice throughout. At the cigar progressed, there was an occasional increased tasted of the spice, but the flavors remained in balance. Smoke production was thick with a creamy mouthfeel. The cigar was quite enjoyable and I suspect with just a bit more resting time, the spice notes would even out.

Afterwards, we cooled off inside with some chocolate icebox pie. All in all, a feast fitting to celebrate the birth of St. John the Baptist, the last and greatest prophet.


Monday, June 24, 2024

Sagamore Spirit Sherry Finish Rye, CAO V660, and the Heat!

Our heat advisory reached its peak over the weekend, but that didn't stop my enjoyment life's simple pleasures. While the wall thermometer read 98° on Friday evening, the "official" temperature was a mere 94°. It's all in your attitude and perspective really. To my mind, outside is preferred over inside, especially when I can add a cigar to the mix.

A CAO Flathead V660 and some Sagamore Spirit Sherry Finish Rye, enjoyed with multiple large glasses of ice water, was the order of the evening.

The CAO Flathead V660 is a cigar I had not explored in a while, though I've had some resting in my humidor since last August. It's a big cigar and as such requires some devoted time to enjoy in its full measure. The 6 x 60 box-pressed dark chocolate hued Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper covers an Ecuadorian Connecticut binder and Nicaraguan fillers. The flavor profile offers rich, semi-sweet chocolate, and espresso notes. The cap of the V660 is quite flat and I always use a punch to open it, rather than attempting a standard straight cut. Despite its heft, the cigar has a wide open draw. I have used a V cutter on one in the past and found the draw too open for my preferences.

The Sagamore Spirit Reserve Series Sherry Finish Rye goes especially well with a full bodied cigar. This is a 4-year old straight rye whiskey which is further aged for 18 months in PX Sherry casks, and bottled at 106 proof. The rye is a brilliant a deep burnt orange color. Aromas of figs, cherries, and raisons greet the nose, foretelling the flavors to come. Upon lighting an immediate hit of cinnamon spice starts things off. A dark sherry impression soon arrives, joining the dark fruit notes. The sherry finished rye is quite flavorful with just a hint of alcohol in the smooth finish. I've had this bottle for about two years, and after this outing there is only a small amount remaining. I chose not to finish it off, just to be able to savor one more pour, probably in the near future.

A couple of cooling fans moderated the heat on the porch ever so slightly. Despite the temperature, I experienced an enjoyable evening, watching the occasional firefly showing off, while enjoying a two hour smoke and sip.


Saturday, June 22, 2024

Weekend Beer Math

In case anyone asks  . . . 

Enjoy the weekend. And stay cool


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.


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.