Friday, September 29, 2023

Five O'Clock Friday: Choices

It was probably a Friday.

Enjoy your weekend. We will not judge you.


Veritas Three Blends and Horse Soldier Reserve Bourbon

I was looking for a high proof, full flavored bourbon to enjoy with a cigar after a long day of driving recently. A bottle of Horse Soldier Bourbon seemed the perfect choice. 

Horse Soldier Reserve is the distillery's barrel strength expression. The nose is strong with dark caramel, sweet maple, along with hints of vanilla and fruit. Even as the glass sat next to me on the table I could smell the bourbon goodness wafting up, the aromatics enhanced by the 124 proof. The flavor profile carries charred wood, dark fruit, molasses, and some cinnamon. I get a late fruit note in the finish. There is a bit of lingering heat that remains in balance. I should really pour this one more often, especially with a robust cigar. I posted more information about Horse Soldier bourbon in a previous post.

The cigar for the evening was the Veritas Three Blends. I was given one of these a couple years ago and enjoyed it. It's been a smoke I've been wanting to go back to. I found the Three Blends, as well as a couple others from Veritas, at the cigar lounge recently.

The cigar has a partial box pressed shape. The foot end of the Three Blends is box pressed, and the cigar transitions to a standard round shape towards the cap. The 6 x 54 cigar also grabs your attention due to the tri-colored wrapper. It is made of Sun Grown Ecuadorian Habano, Habano Maduro, and Connecticut leaves. The binder is Mexican San Andrés and the filler is a mix of tobaccos from Jalapa, Ometepe, Condega and Esteli. The roll is a little rough around the edges but the cigar is well filled and burned flawlessly. Given the unique shape and the complex wrapper, it must be a challenging cigar to create.

Three Blends is a full flavored cigar producing strong pepper right out of the gate. As the smoke progresses, the flavor mix adds espresso, wood, and nuts. The pepper remains but the other flavors claim equal billing. There's some vanilla sweetness that shows itself in time. I found this to be a flavorful and enjoyable smoke.

The robust flavors of both the bourbon and the cigar to played well together. The generous flavor array offered by the tobaccos were not overwhelmed one bit by the strong bourbon. It's a pairing I look forward to repeating.


Thursday, September 28, 2023

St. Wenceslaus, Patron Saint of Brewers

Originally posted September 28, 2012.

Today is the feast day of St. Wenceslaus, who is regarded as a patron Saint of Czech brewers.
St. Wenceslaus, duke of Bohemia, was born about the year 907 at Prague, Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). His father was killed in battle when he was young, leaving the kingdom to be ruled by his pagan mother. Wenceslaus was educated by his grandmother, Ludmilla, also a saint. She taught him to be a Christian and to be a good king. She was killed by pagan nobles before she saw him king, but she left him with a deep committment to the Christian faith. 
Throughout his life he preserved his virginity unblemished. As duke he was a father to his subjects, generous toward orphans, widows, and the poor. On his own shoulders he frequently carried wood to the houses of the needy. He often attended the funerals of the poor, ransomed captives, and visited those suffering in prison. He was filled with a deep reverence toward the clergy; with his own hands he sowed the wheat for making altar breads and pressed the grapes for the wine used in the Mass. During winter he would visit the churches barefoot through snow and ice, frequently leaving behind bloody footprints. 
Wenceslaus was eighteen years old when he succeeded his father to the throne. Without regard for the opposition, he worked in close cooperation with the Church to convert his pagan country. He ended the persecution of Christians, built churches and brought back exiled priests. As king he gave an example of a devout life and of great Christian charity, with his people calling him "Good King" of Bohemia. 
His brother Boleslaus, however, turned to paganism. One day he invited Wenceslaus to his house for a banquet. The next morning, on September 28, 929, as Wenceslaus was on the way to Mass, Boleslaus struck him down at the door of the church. Before he died, Wenceslaus forgave his brother and asked God's mercy for his soul. Although he was killed for political reasons, he is listed as a martyr since the dispute arose over his faith. This king, martyred at the age of twenty-two, is the national hero and patron of the Czech Republic. He is the first Slav to be canonized.
According to, the Saint's protection of local hops earned him much regard.
Because Bohemian hops were so valued, Wenceslas ordered the death penalty for anyone caught exporting the cuttings and obviously endeared himself to the local hop growers and brewers. He became the patron saint of Bohemia and Czechoslovakia and his crown became the symbol of nationalism for the Czechs. By extension he became a patron saint of Czech brewers.
King Wenceslaus is the inspiration for the Christmas carol, Good King Wenceslas.

So let's raise a glass of fine beer to the Good King, Saint Wenceslaus.


Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Italy: A Cigar and a Eucharistic Procession

We recently returned from a two week pilgrimage in Italy. Visiting historical and religious sites in Naples, San Giovanni Rotundo, Lanciano, Assisi, Rome, among others was a wonderful and joyful experience. Besides the beautiful churches and amazing history, we also enjoyed great food and drink, and even had time for cigars on occasion. 

Once such smoking occasion was in San Giovanni Rotundo, the home town of Saint Padre Pio. When we stepped outside after dinner I noticed the hotel's outdoor dining area had "Vietato fumare" signs posted -- some of the rare no smoking posters we saw during the entire trip. Our bus driver happened by and we asked him where we could smoke. He looked at us like we were crazy and waved his arms around, stating, "Outside." That was the situation almost everywhere. If an outdoor dinner area didn't have ashtrays on the tables, they'd generally bring you one if asked. 

We opted to stroll and smoke. We had visited San Giovanni Rotundo fourteen years ago, and although the town had grown and expanded exponentially, we still recalled our way around the old original section.

As walked by the Basilica where the Saint had lived, we heard the distinctive sound of a thurible being swung coming from inside the church. We realized a Eucharist Procession was taking place and the people were exiting the building onto the plaza in front. We stopped our stroll and knelt in adoration until the procession reentered the church. Coincidentally, during our first visit to San Giovanni Rotundo 14 years ago, we happened upon a huge procession as well during a festival. 

Although we had enjoyed cigars after some dinners earlier in the trip, I happened to joke to the priest friend with us that this could be the inaugural smoke of our informal Saint Pope Pius X smoking group. We took it as Divine Providence that the procession began as we arrived with our cigars in front the basilica. 

There would be many cigars and other adventures during our trip. Some of those will be the subject of later Musings.


Monday, September 25, 2023

Foundation El Güegüense with an Octoberfest Märzen

Sometimes you just want a big cigar and a beer. The El Güegüense Toro Huaco from Foundation Cigars is a hefty 6 x 56 cigar that fills the bill. It's a great candidate to enjoy on a warm afternoon of sipping beers. The Nicaraguan puro has a Corojo 99 wrapper and binder, and the binder is a blend of Corojo 99 and Criollo 98 tobaccos. A chocolate brown wrapper is somewhat bumpy with the rough inner leaves seemingly trying to escape. Despite a rough appearance, the oily wrapper held everything together and the cigar performed without issue. This is a medium bodied cigar. A blend of cocoa, espresso, sweet chocolate, nuts, accented with along mild pepper spice combined for a complex and flavorful smoke. 

I look forward each fall to the Ocktoberfest beers that many breweries release, even if they do show up in the summer. In especially enjoy the Märzen style beers over the more grain forward "fest beer" versions. Bell's Brewing Octoberfest is one that's generally easy to find.

The beer pours a coppery orange color with a thick and persistent white foamy head. The aroma of caramel and malt great the nose. A malt forward flavor profile is balanced with biscuit and caramel sweetness. It worked quit well with the chocolate and espresso notes in the cigar.

The umlaut accented names in this pairing may have been a coincidence, but in a sense, it was a sign of a pairing made to happen. 


Friday, September 22, 2023

Five O'Clock Friday: Buying Whiskey vs. Drinking Whiskey

The struggle is real.

Time to get to work on that.


A Sweet Pairing - Carrillo Pledge and Barrell Batch #33

For this pairing I pulled down a half empty bottle that's been untouched of late. It's been idle, somewhat because it's not readily available in Virginia, but mostly because I buy more bourbon than I drink. It's actually quite rare to finish off a bottle unless it's a regular mixer. Given the ever shrinking shelf space, I may have to make a concerted effort to reverse that trend.

Barrel Craft Spirits sources whiskeys from around the world, and expertly crafts new blends that are released as new batches, on a regular basis. Batch #33 was released in mid-2022. The bourbon was well-received by bourbon fans almost immediately. The 116.6 proof bourbon is a blend of  5, 6, 7, and 9 year old barrels from Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana. It carries a 5 year age statement based on the age of the youngest component.

The aroma warms the nose with notes of cinnamon and fruit pie. Sipping brings enhanced baking spices and fruit sweetness into the mix. There's a moderate warmth to the profile but it's balanced by a pleasing sweetness. The flavorful finish is long, coating the tongue with persistent sweet fruit and caramel notes.

I've been enjoying a few different cigars from E.P. Carrillo of late. This time I grabbed a E. P. Carrillo Pledge Prequel. This is a 5 x 50 Robusto wrapped in a US grown Cuban-seed tobacco called Connecticut Habano. The binder hails from Ecuador and the filler tobaccos are Nicaraguan. The soft box pressed stick is adorned with distinctive blue and gold labels. The wrapper leaf is dark chocolate in color and lightly mottled.

The flavor profile runs in the medium to full bodied range. There is some intitial spice and pepper. The main flavors are black coffee, oak and a sweet tobacco flavor. The burn throughout was even giving plenty of flavorful smoke. If we can put any stock in cigar of the year rankings, it should be noted that Cigar Aficionado ranked the Pledge Prequel the #1 cigar of 2020. Thanks to that, this one was very hard to find for a while, but seems to be widely available once again. Despite the popularity, it remains a reasonably priced cigar, with the consistent high quality one expects from E. P. Carrillo.

I enjoyed this pairing. The sweetness left on the palate from the bourbon and the sweet coffee flavors of the cigar were very complimentary. Either one is a delicious treat by itself, and together they are even more delightful.


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 Roost 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

Five O'Clock Friday: The Sad Life of Bread

The things that could have been.


Gatherings: Casual-Fancy Meals to Share

We are always on the lookout for new recipes and food ideas to try. Colleen is as passionate about cooking and baking as I am about cigars and bourbon. As such, there are stacks of cookbooks, recipes, and food related books throughout our home. My role is mostly that of a consumer, while Colleen manages the preparations as well. There's a new book on the table that I expect will contribute to our dining pleasures.

Gatherings: Casual-Fancy Meals to Share is a new addition to the extensive library from America's Test Kitchen. The premise of the book is simple -- themed meals for entertaining friends in your home, with minimal stress. Easy plans for cocktails and appetizers, through the main course, and on to dessert are illustrated.

The book begins with some basic planning tips before getting into the meat (no pun intended) of the book. Each themed meal is presented in an easy to follow guide along with timings and tips. There's a "game plan" for the preparations which could start a few days in advance, all the way up to the hours before your guests arrive. The chefs include numerous options throughout for streamlining or simplifying the process based the situation.

The individual recipes within each organized meal are easily made on their own as well if you simply want to supplement your own plans. There's a handy listing of the recipes by course; drinks, appetizers, main courses, sides, desserts, etc. You can scan the list to mix and match as your tastes, and pantry, warrant.

The book contains numerous color photographs of the dishes. It's an attractive book and one that would make a welcome gift for both budding cooks and new hosts, as well as experienced chefs looking for inspiration. The book sitting in our living room has attracted the attention of visitors.

The publication date for Gatherings: Casual-Fancy Meals to Share is September 19, 2023. It is available for preorder from America's Test Kitchen as well the usual online book sellers.

A copy of this book was provided at no cost by the publisher. This review presents my opinion and is provided without obligation or compensation.


Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Teeling Irish Whiskey For A Humid Evening

I was staring at my whiskey shelves recently, comtemplating what I wanted to sip. I focused in on the Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey bottle. This particular bottle was bottled in May of 2016, and my notes say I acquired it in February of 2019. It's been around awhile. Needless to say I don't frequent the Irish whiskey selections I have. Teeling seemed a fitting lighter drink for the humid evening.

Teeling Whiskey makes their Small Batch by individually aging whiskies in used bourbon barrels. The whiskies are then blended and aged for six months in rum casks. Then resulting whiskey is bottled at 46% ABV.

Upon pouring, I was immediately struck by the bright straw yellow color of the beverage. It was a marked change from the brown bourbon I am accustomed to seeing in my usual beverage. The whiskey is mild and subtle but still flavorful. I get notes of caramel and vanilla, with a very light spice. There's a dark, sweet fruit influence as well to add interest. I actually enjoyed the Teeling more than I expected, and it certainly exceeded any dim memory I have of it after so many years.

The Rocky Patel LB1 is a smoke I've been smoking more of recently. The medium bodied cigar has notes of coffee, cedar, earthiness, a touch of spice, and a mild sweetness in the finish. When I took a preview sip of the Teeling Irish Whiskey before picking a cigar, I gravitated right to the LB1 selection as a fit. My instincts were correct and the pairing was spot on. 

The high humidity fortunately did not affect the cigar, but my glass remained wet from dew. After a bit I noticed the label on the bottle was getting soggy. I topped my glass off before taking the bottle inside, increased the speed on the fan, and enjoyed the rest of the smoke.


Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Sunday Cocktails and Oliva Serie V Lancero

This edition of "Sunday Cocktails on the Deck" features a twist on a classic drink, and a "classy" version of a favorite cigar. It's no secret that the Old Fashioned is a go-to cocktail for us. It's quick and easy to make, shows off the flavors we love in bourbons and ryes, and is simple to modify for variety. 

This time we employed Bulleit Bourbon, along with the Backstrap syrup from J.H. Bards. And of course the standard Luxardo cherry. For the twist, I added a slice of the bourbon peaches prepared recently. I also substituted 1/2 ounce of the 2 ounces of bourbon with the Bulleit bourbon syrup that the peaches had been soaking in.

The peach influence was minimal but did give the drink a slightly sweet fruit note. The first version I made used only the peach slice without the bourbon substitute. The result told me the peach-flavored bourbon had the bigger affect on the flavor. In any event, the peach slice made a tasty treat at the finish of the drink.

For this afternoon smoke I selected an Oliva Serie V Lancero. I've posted numerous times about the cigar line. It remains a favorite. I've been purchasing more and more lanceros frequently of late. I find them especially enjoyable with morning coffee or afternoon drinks. It's an elegant vitola to the eye and in the hand. The flavors are typically somewhat enhanced. I was once given good-natured ribbing in a cigar lounge for my "girly cigar" by a friend, who later in the evening had selected a lancero as well. "It looked fun," he explained. Yes, it is.


Monday, September 4, 2023

Jefferson's Aged At Sea and Le Carême Pastelitos

I finally gave in and finished off the last pour of the Jeffferson's Ocean Aged at Sea Bourbon bottle. I had been nursing this release, Voyage 13, as some of the more recent editions, or voyages, appear to have undergone shorter excursions. 

Whether that impression is true or not, the flavors of this one have grown on me. I wasn't as keen on the bottle when I picked it up a few years ago, but after time, it was quite enjoyable. A 90 proof bourbon with notes of brown sugar, caramel, and espresso. Those flavors linger in a long finish, which seems less briny than it did originally. Alas, it's gone now. That not all bad, as a new bottle of something will soon fill it's space on the shelf.

I also succumbed to another of my Le Carême Pastelitos 2023 Limited Edition 2023. I tell myself I am going to save these short smokes for the winter. So far, unsuccessfully. They are also perfect for a quick break, and a small sip of whiskey.

The short 4 x 54 robusto has a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper with an Ecuadorian Sumatra binder and fillers from Nicaragua. The Le Carême, in many vitolas and special releases, is one of my favorite smokes. It works with a wide variety of beverages, and there's a size for every smoking situation. There's not much to say that hasn't been said in these Musings already.

The small pour of bourbon and a quick smoke mad a perfect interlude between dinner and late dessert on a warm summer evening.


Friday, September 1, 2023

Five O'Clock Friday: It's Time For Solutions

All problems are solvable.

Have a great weekend.


Foundation Olmec Maduro With Maker's Mark 46 Cask Strength

This turned out to be an exceptional pairing. Foundation Cigars Olmec is a newer release from the company. I've had some resting in the humidor for about three weeks and finally could not resist them any longer. The 5 x 50 Robusto has a very dark chocolate San Andrés maduro wrapper. It's nearly black in appearance. The binder and fillers are Nicaraguan. The filler tobaccos are said to be baled and aged for three years after fermentation. The wrapper leaves undergo a low temperature slow fermentation process preserve the oil content and enhance their flavor. It's a very attractive cigar. The gold outlined lettering over black on the band made getting a good photograph difficult. Even just looking at it my eyes couldn't quite get it in focus.

I punched the cap with my new PerfecPunch and Stand™ from PerfecCigar Solutions. This thing makes a nice cut -- I'll have more in a future review. The draw on the cigar was free flowing and produced copious amounts of smoke for the entire duration. I initially felt the cigar might be slightly under packed, but I got an even slow burn and an hour plus smoke from the small cigar. The flavor hit with an initial pepper blast, though it was not overwhelming or unpleasant. Other flavor notes quickly rolled in. Rich espresso and charred meat were the main impressions. Some sweet molasses and dark chocolate made appearances as well. The cigar remained full bodied throughout and never developed any bitterness even smoked down to a hot nub.

Maker's Mark 46 Cask Strength is one that I hadn't been able to find in Virginia for some time. The stores got inventory last May and I had rushed out to grab a bottle. That bottle soon got hidden on the shelf until recently I spied the unbroken wax on top peaking out. Upon remembering that bottle, I knew it had to be enjoyed with the Olmec.

The label is marked Batch 23-02 and 110.1 proof. The liquid inside pours a bright copper orange and immediately releases scents of caramel, cinnamon, and raisons. I think the higher proof contributes to the aromatics being wafted about. The alcohol can be detected on the nose, but it does not burn. 

The flavor of the cask strength bourbon hits the palate full on. It's a sweet mix of brown sugar, caramel, cinnamon, and sweet fruit. There's a "Kentucky hug" going down, but it warms, not burns. I'm struck by the richness of the bourbon. It's powerful though quite palatable. I grabbed a bottle of the standard Maker's 46 to compare. This is the bourbon most often used for cooking and baking in our home. I found it interesting that the flavor lines were comparable, but now all ramped up to a fuller level. Not simply stronger, but richer and brighter. 

Maker's Mark created some confusion when they redid the labels on their products. The No. 46 has always been "finished with ten French oak staves." However, the distiller now prominently displays "French Oak" in gold on the front of the label. I've seen some enthusiasts mistaking it for a new bourbon. It's still the same delicious whiskey it's always been.

The Foundation Olmec and Maker's Mark 46 Cask Strength combination was extremely enjoyable. The two full flavor profiles each manage to stand up to the other. Combining either the bourbon or the cigar with a milder partner would be a disservice and a waste of the milder partner. The Cask Strength 46 is already a regular (when I can find it) on my shelves. I suspect the Olmec will be a humidor regular.