Friday, February 16, 2024

Five O'Clock Friday: A Lenten Sacrifice

An Irishman moves into a tiny hamlet in County Kerry, walks into the pub and promptly orders three beers.

The bartender raises his eyebrows, but serves the man three beers, which he drinks quietly at a table, alone.

An hour later, the man has finished the three beers and orders three more.

This happens yet again.

The next evening the man again orders and drinks three beers at a time, several times. Soon the entire town is whispering about the Man Who Orders Three Beers.

Finally, a week later, the bartender broaches the subject on behalf of the town. "I don't mean to pry, but folks around here are wondering why you always order three beers?"

'Tis odd, isn't it?" the man replies, "You see, I have two brothers, and one went to America, and the other to Australia. We promised each other that we would always order an extra two beers whenever we drank as a way of keeping up the family bond."

The bartender and the whole town was pleased with this answer, and soon the Man Who Orders Three Beers became a local celebrity and source of pride to the hamlet, even to the extent that out-of-towners would come to watch him drink.

Then, one day, the man comes in and orders only two beers. The bartender pours them with a heavy heart. This continues for the rest of the evening - he orders only two beers. The word flies around town. Prayers are offered for the soul of one of the brothers.

The next day, the bartender says to the man, "Folks around here, me first of all, want to offer condolences to you for the death of your brother. You know-the two beers and all..."

The man ponders this for a moment, then replies, "You'll be happy to hear that my two brothers are alive and well... It's just that I, myself, have decided to give up drinking for Lent."


Thursday, February 15, 2024

Amendola Family Cigars West Side Story The Blade

It's a constant theme around here of late -- will there remain a bit of sunshine to enjoy at the end of the work day? On a recent cool evening while the sun set, a new cigar, the Amendola West Side Story, provided a pleasant opportunity to enjoy the sunset with a smoke.

Amendola West Side Story is a new line, announced in 2023, consisting of two varieties. This vitola, named The Blade, is a 6 x 53 torpedo that uses a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper over an Indonesian binder. The filler tobaccos hail from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. This cigar was included in the January Luxury Cigar Club mailing, so has been resting just over four weeks. 

It's a well-rolled cigar with sharp cap. Upon lighting the Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper influence stands out. I've only smoked a few cigars using that wrapper, but it's distinctive. The flavor is a spicy, rich toast, cocoa, and coffee combination with an underlying sweetness. The cigar is full flavored and left hint of pepper in the back of my palate. 

The draw was on the looser side and I did a couple minor touch ups, but otherwise the performance was fine. Perhaps a bit more time in the humidor would have made it even smoother. The mocha coffee was a balanced and flavorful match up.

As is often the case with the Luxury Cigar Club shipments, the Amendola cigar was previously unknown to me. And it did not disappoint. That's one of the main benefits to me of the monthly three cigar shipment.


Monday, February 12, 2024

Rocky Patel Disciple and Old Forester 1910

The days are getting longer. Ever so slowly, but it's beginning to be noticeable. It's nice to start the evening smoke with a bit of sunlight still available. I kicked off the weekend with a Rocky Patel Disciple paired with some Old Forester 1910 Old Fine Whisky. (Old Forester uses the Old World spelling without the 'e'.)

Old Forester is "double oaked" bourbon. The whiskey undergoes a second barreling in a heavily charred barrel. The technique is said to have originated after a warehouse fire in 1910 when bourbon was moved into charred barrels from the fire. The 93 proof bourbon has rich, caramel and vanilla aroma. There's a hint of smoke but it's surprisingly faint. The aroma is easily noticeable from the side table even as I light my cigar.

Sipping the bourbon it's apparent why the fairly new bottle is nearly empty. This was indeed a bottle kill evening. My palate is treated to more rich flavors of caramel and vanilla. A touch of tobacco and cocoa make it into the mix. The finish is mildly spicy and sweet. Oh, I do wish there was more to be poured.

The Rocky Patel Disciple is a cigar I've enjoyed on many occasions since its 2021 release, in both Robusto and Toro vitolas. This 6 x 50 Toro has been resting for about four months in the humidor. In what seems like a break from the usual Rocky Patel release, the cigar is not box-pressed, a switch I appreciate.

The cigar initially sports a large superfluous band that covers much of the length, in addition to the usual cigar band nearer to the cap. Fortunately the large covering slides right off, and makes a handy prop for the cigar.

The cigar is wrapped in a dark San Andrés wrapper leaf.  The wrapper encases binder and fillers tobaccos from Nicaragua. The Disciple is a medium to full bodied, richly flavored smoke. Notes of espresso and cocoa come first. Black pepper and raisons follow. The burn line was sharp and smoke production was plentiful for the entire 90 minute smoke. Unfortunately the second band suffered from excessive glue and was removed in pieces. A small bit of wrapper leaf tore away but it did not affect performance. Oddly, I've experienced this issue with each of the Disciples I've smoked.

By the time the cigar, and the bourbon, was finished the temperature had only dropped to 58°. The evening was extremely pleasant, especially with the added pleasure of not having to run the propane heater. 


Sunday, February 11, 2024

Sunday Morning Thoughts: Just Live

Sometimes we need a simple reminder.

Collected online, from where or when I remember not.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Saint José Sánchez del Río

Today, February 10, is the anniversary of the martyrdom of Saint José Sánchez del Río. On this date in 1928, this 14 year old boy was killed by Mexican troops for refusing to renounce his Catholic faith during the Cristero War. The story of this period of Catholic persecution led by Mexican President Calles was told in the movie "For Greater Glory." The young martyr was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on November 20, 2005, and later canonized by Pope Francis on October 16, 2016.

The Saint's story is one with which few American Catholics are familiar. That is a tragedy in its own right. Though they might not know the Saint's story, many Americans are no doubt familiar with his face. The picture, shown below, of the young boy with Cristeros fighters is one we often see hanging in Mexican restaurants throughout the United States, among other old photos. Probably not too many diners know that a Saint and fighter for religious freedom is looking down at them while they eat.

After José was captured by government forces fighting the Cristero, he was forced to witness the torture and execution of fellow Catholic countrymen, yet he never wavered in his faithful resolve. He was himself was tortured and urged to shout "Death to Christ the King" with the promise his suffering would be over. On the day of his torturous execution, the soldiers cut the soles of his feet and he was made to walk barefooted to the grave they had dug for him. He was repeatedly stabbed with bayonets as he made his way to the place of his martyrdom.

Even after he had been shot he continued to cry out "¡Viva Cristo Rey!" ("Long live Christ the King!") The commander of the soldiers was so furious that he was able to resist the government barbarism, he finally shot the boy in the head. As he died he is said to have drawn a cross on the ground with his own blood as a final act of defiance.

During the Cristeros War many Catholics were killed by the Mexican government for their faith. This tragic part of recent history is pointedly ignored by the history books in both the United States and Mexico. It is a story that needs to be told and learned by all free people.

Saint José Sánchez del Río is truly a Saint for our times. His faithfulness in the face of torture and death should be a model for all of us. I pray we can be as strong when our own persecution comes.

Blessed José Sánchez del Río, Pray For Us!

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Casa 1910 Revolutionary Edition Cuchillo Parado and a Cocktail

A sunny afternoon and moderately warm temperature allowed for an unexpected return to our tradition of Sunday afternoon cocktails on the deck. I decided to mix up a slight variation on the Cranberry Citrus Cocktail we enjoyed over the holidays. We didn't have any cranberry simple syrup made up, or fresh cranberries, but we did have some cranberry juice on hand. I had also recently restocked the Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon that we enjoy so much for cocktails. The rosemary and cranberry garnish was skipped, but the drinks actually were still quite tasty and refreshing.

Colleen put together a cheese, fruit, and cracker platter to go along with the cocktails while I searched for a cigar.

I came across a Casa 1910 Revolutionary Edition Cuchillo Parado that had been resting since last June. It actually took me a few minutes to remember what the cigar was, the band not being very informative. Finally placing the cigar, I recall it had not been a stellar smoke prior, but I felt I'd give it another chance, at least for a few minutes.

To review, the Casa 1910 Revolutionary Edition has a San Andrés Sumatra wrapper, with San Andrés grown tobaccos also making up the binder and filler. It's an all Mexican tobacco blend. The wrapper was aged for five years and the rolled cigar then aged for five to six months. The previous example I smoked developed a somewhat bitter and yeasty taste that was not overly compelling. As I lit this stick, I got a blend of straw, and bread, along with a hint of pepper. The burn line remained even but the ash was flaky. I didn't notice the funky sourness I got before, but the cigar still tasted somewhat dull and straw-like.

The "winter" cocktail was enjoyable. I can see revisiting it in warmer weather as well, perhaps with a bit of ginger ale to add some refreshing bubbles. The cigar is not one I am a fan of although it does get some favorable reviews online. It was not unpleasant per se, but just isn't a cigar that fits my preferences. Nonetheless, I still opted to smoke most of the cigar, while enjoying a couple of the tasty cocktails. The pleasant weather and relaxing conversion with my wife added to the joy of the afternoon.


Monday, February 5, 2024

Tumblin' Dice 8 Year Rye and Rocky Patel 10th Anniversary

I ordered this bottle of Tumblin' Dice 8 Year Single Barrel Rye truly on a whim. The email promoting the Seelbach's pick intrigued me, exactly why I don't recall now. I decided to do a "fresh crack Friday" and open it to kick off the weekend. I turns out that my spur of the moment purchase was a worthy one.

The barrel proof rye from Proof and Wood brands comes in at a respectable 116.2 proof. With an eight year age statement, the sourced whiskey has a mash bill of 95% rye and 5% barley. The label notes it was barreled on December 12, 2014 and bottled June 9, 2023. 

The rye pours a bright reddish brown with thick legs that coat the sides of the glencairn. The aroma gives off citrus and vanilla tones, with some sweet caramel. The first notes upon sipping include citrus peel and vanilla. Those divert into creamy sweetness and oak. The finish leaves some pepper and spice, along with the oak. It's a rather pleasant pour.

After a bit of tasting, I retired to the screen porch to enjoy the rye with a cigar. For this evening I selected a Rocky Patel The Edge 20th Anniversary Edition. The cigar has been resting in my humidor for seven months.

The Rocky Patel 20th Anniversary was introduced in 2022 to mark the 20th anniversary of The Edge line from Rocky Patel. The line has grown to a number of blends and sizes and is marketed as a budget line. The celebratory 20th Anniversary features a 10 year aged Ecuador Sumatra wrapper, a Honduran Broadleaf binder, and filler tobaccos from Honduras and Panama. This one is a 5 1/2" X 50 Robusto. The medium bodied smoke has rich notes of espresso, dark chocolate, and nuts. I do enjoy the 20th Anniversary more so than the various "standard" Edge versions I've had.

The espresso and slight sweetness of the cigar paired well with the spicy rye. I found myself frequently tasting both right after the other, rather than letting the flavor of one rest on my palate before bringing in the next. As such, my cigar smoked a little faster than usual, and the glass needed refilling a couple times. The pairing was so enjoyable the cigar was smoke down to a very tiny, but not hot, nub that I held onto with the tips of my fingers. Good to the last drop as they say.


Saturday, February 3, 2024

Quesada and Coffee

Colleen asked me on a recent evening if she should make dinner a little early so I could enjoy a cigar on the deck with the last bit of sunshine. Not long after that I was outside with a Quesada Oktoberfest 10th Anniversary and a steaming mug of black coffee. The sun would soon set, and I enjoyed those last light remnants with the cigar, coffee, and a book.

The Quesada Oktoberfest is an annual release from the company. This one was a special 10th anniversary edition from 2021. It had been resting in the humidor for over two years.

Quesada Oktoberfest 10th Anniversary 'Das Boot' vitola is a 6 x 52 torpedo featuring an oily Mexican San Andrés wrapper, and a Dominican binder as well as Dominican fillers. While Quesada's annual Oktoberfest release is said to be designed to be paired with a Märzen-style beer, a style of beer I truly enjoy, I have previously also paired it with stout, whiskey, and coffee.

The cigar had sweet undertones, along with woody and earthly notes. There is a pleasing espresso bitterness that comes into play as the smoke processes. This stick was the last of my stock. Well-aged after two plus years in the humidor, it smoked extremely well and the flavors were melded into a balanced smoke.

All in all, a quite pleasant evening repast.


Friday, February 2, 2024

Five O'Clock Friday: The Company of a Good Cigar

Welcome to the weekend.

After a week of coworker interactions, I'm ready for some solitude.

Image purloined from the Old Virginia Tobacco Facebook page.


Thursday, February 1, 2024

St. Brigid of Ireland

February 1 is the Feast Day of St. Brigid of Ireland, one of our family's favorite Saints. The quote below has long been attributed to St. Brigid.
"I'd Like A Great Lake Of Beer For The King Of Kings. I Would Like To Be Watching Heaven's Family Drinking It Through All Eternity."
Our family has long had an affection for this great Saint. She is a revered Saint in Ireland, second in popularity only to St. Patrick. Her legendary association with miracles involving beer often overshadows her deeds of charity and compassion. Brigid is believed to have been born in 451, and she died in 524 or 525. The Abbey she founded in County Kildare in the 5th century was destroyed in the 12th century.

Beyond her prayer for a "great lake of beer" this revered Saint had other interesting connections with the beverage. According to tradition, Brigid was working in a leper colony when they ran out of beer. Since beer was an important source of safe liquid refreshment and nourishment, this was indeed a serious issue. Brigid is said to have changed her bath water into beer to nourish the lepers and visiting clerics. In another miracle attributed to St. Brigid, she provided beer to 18 churches for an entire Easter season, all from a single barrel of beer in her convent.
St. Brigid Statue, Knock Shrine, County Mayo, Ireland

St. Brigid, ora pro nobis!


Thursday, January 25, 2024

Room 101 Snake Shake Cigar and Old Elk Bourbon

It had been more than a week since a relaxing cigar found its way onto the schedule. But finally, a free evening at home, and somewhat moderate weather prevailed. Looking through the humidor I noticed I still had cigars from the monthly Luxury Cigar Club packages waiting to be explored. I grabbed an unfamiliar cigar one called the Room 101 Snake Shake. The gold embossed band inspired me to grab a somewhat color-coordinated bottle of Old Elk Cognac Cask Finish Bourbon.

The 6 x 50 Toro had been resting in the humidor since November. The blend is a shiny Nicaraguan puro sporting a dark chocolate color wrapper. The wrapper is oily with a sort of "smooth roughness" to it. It was an attractive roll and gave a hint of a bold, enjoyable smoke to come.

The first puffs on the cigar provided an eye-opening blast of pepper spice. After a few minutes the spiciness was balanced by other flavor notes. Rich coffee and the bitterness of dark chocolate come into play. Earth and leather provided background notes. The cigar is full bodied and flavorful, yet manageable. The Snake Shake is a Luxury Cigar Club exclusive and I expect I'll soon be ordering a few more. This will be a great late night smoke with bourbon come the warmer months especially.

The Old Eld Cognac Cask Finish turned out to be a good match for the cigar. The bourbon is aged for at least five years in Limousin oak casks, after which it is finished in cognac casks for 10 months. The aroma is sweet with the 109.7 proof whispering its presence.  Upon sipping, sweet raison and apple notes predominate, along with caramel and oak. The proof shows in the finish with a mild spicy heat, which provides a small extra "oomph" without being overpowering.

The cigar burned perfectly, giving an 80 minute smoke. The sweet and mildly warm bourbon provided a nice foil for the pepper of the smoke. Nothing disappointing to be said about the pairing at all.


Saturday, January 20, 2024

Bourbon is Good For You

Some good news for your weekend.

Image Courtesy Bourbon Classic

Bourbon Classic has an interesting article on the health benefits of drinking bourbon. The report states:
Bourbon lovers everywhere rejoice! We’ve compiled 10 benefits of drinking bourbon and how it can actually be good for your health. Keep in mind, the best results are seen for those that drink a moderate amount of bourbon. Be sure to always drink responsibly.
The listed benefits include reducing stress as well an other measurable heath conditions. Given some thought, all of their points could also apply to many heathy activities and foods. But bourbon tastes better than kale.
  • Reduces Stress Levels
  • Improves Your Immune System
  • Prevents Blood Clots
  • Reduces Your Risk of Cancer
  • Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes
  • Improves Cognitive Function
  • Increases the Amount of Good Cholesterol
  • Relieves Cold Symptoms
  • Reduces the Risk of Obesity
  • Prolongs Your Life
Obviously, one should never take health advice from the internet, but still it's an interesting and thought provoking list. Be sure to read the whole thing for the reasoning behind the listed benefits.

Remember, all things in moderation. See "10 Benefits of Drinking Bourbon" for the complete article.


Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Smoking a Powstanie Broadleaf and Enjoying the Snowfall

Two words I don't often in the same sentence, snowfall and enjoy. But the first snow of 2024 provided some enjoyable moments. Though the needle on the thermometer was hovering right around 30°, I fired up the heater and lit a Powstanie Broadleaf Corona Gorda. The little alcohol fire pit provided some extra warmth for my hand holding the cigar. The other one remained in my coat pocket.

The Powstanie Broadleaf Corona Gorda has been in the humidor since last May and smoked very well, despite the cold, dry air. The combination of a broadleaf maduro wrapper, Indonesian binder, and fillers of Estelí ligero, Jalapa and Pueblo Nuevo tobaccos made for a flavorful smoke. Flavors of creamy chocolate and wood, along with some pepper and cedar was a nice pairing to a warm coffee.

As I sat and enjoyed the smoke, I was struck by the awesome silence that accompanied the winter weather, No cars on the nearby street, no leaf blowers or chainsaws, not even the sounds of wildlife moving in the woods. If the storm continues through the night and into the next day, I suspect there could be chainsaws and even generators providing the background noise in days to come. But for now, all is quiet.


Monday, January 15, 2024

Post Dinner Rose of Sharon and Coffee

No, I'm not doing "dry January." I happen to enjoy coffee as much as bourbon. Fortunately, drinking it in the early evening doesn't affect my sleep. Though I might not fall asleep in front of the television as quickly!

A Southern Draw Rose of Sharon Desert Rose Lonsdale LE makes a great accompaniment to a steaming cup of coffee as an after-dinner treat. It's an enjoyable pairing I've done in the past.

The Southern Draw Rose of Sharon Desert Rose Londsdale is a limited edition of the Southern Draw Desert Rose. The 6 x 44 lonsdale features an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, a Nicaraguan habano leaf binder, and filler consisting of Honduran Corojo 99 and Dominican Piloto Cubano tobaccos. The cigar is bolder than the wrapper would indicate. I am typically not a fan of Connecticut wrappers, but this is a repeat cigar for me. The cigar kicks off with a peppery spice, before the addition of creamy bread, leather, and cedar. The cigar has been resting in my humidor for a little over four months and the burn and draw was excellent. 

The thermal mug kept the coffee hot for the entire 50 minute smoke. That was just enough time to have the sun fully set and the temperature begin its rapid drop. It was time to head inside and NOT fall asleep in front of the TV.


Friday, January 12, 2024

Five O'Clock Friday: Cheesy Goodness

You know you would.


A Cigar And A Bourbon At Sunset

The days are, ever so slowly, getting longer. I've noticed that if we eat dinner just a few minutes early, and I've already prepped my selections for smoking and sipping, I can enjoy the last bit of sunlight at the start of the smoke. One evening this week, I was ready with the choice of a Cigar Clowns Torpedo and some Blade and Bow Bourbon. 

Blade and Bow is one of the bourbons that I've kept on hand for several years. The price point is right for a regular sipper, although it's going up like everything else. It could be a had for under $40 a couple years and it's now approaching $50. The VA ABC does put it on sale occasionally.

The 91 proof bourbon pours a golden orange color and emits a sweet fruit aroma along with a touch of alcohol on the nose. It's quite easy to sip, with notes of caramel and white fruit. The finish has a crisp graininess and a subtle oak char.

The Cigar Clown Torpedo was a selection in the August Luxury Cigar Club Core package. Not much information is provided about the 6 x 52 sharply pointed torpedo. The wrapper is listed as Mexican San Andrés Claro and the rest of the components are undisclosed. The flavor profile is best described as creamy. There's a touch of cedar spice to add variety, but overall the smoke is one dimensional. I found there to be a "horse blanket" funk to the finish. It reminded me of some of the yeasty farmhouse ales. Not wholly unpleasant, but not eliciting excitement to my palate. To my surprise given its hefty size, the cigar gave just under an hour of smoking. 

As an added bonus, the sky burned a bright red as the sunset. Of course as the sun set the temperature dropped. However, the quick burning cigar did not require a long sit in the cold.


Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Five Years Later - A Better Way to Enjoy the CFP

As I sat down to enjoy the College Football Playoff Game Monday night, the evening treats included Elijah Craig 18 Year Bourbon.

The view brought back a similar memory of watching the 2019 Championship game five years ago. The setting and the mood could not have been any more different.

The life events of January 2019 have been on my mind lately. The background for the two evenings is eerily similar but at the same time extraordinarily, and thankfully, different!


Monday, January 8, 2024

Cold Night Bourbon and Cigar

Why is it the short weeks always seem the longest? After a "long" and busy post-vacation week, the weekend provided the long-awaited chance to enjoy another bourbon and cigar pairing. Despite the temperature barely breaking above freezing, I looked forward to the deck time. 

The cool night required a little extra "internal heat" so I chose the 1792 Fool Proof from Barton Distillery. This bottle, purchased in February 2022, is a VA ABC "pick." 1792 Full Proof is bottled at a hefty 125 proof. Poured into a Glencairn glass, the high proof is evident in the nose. Under that I can detect oak, white fruit, and a sweetness that reminds me of a morning pastry.

Sipping, the alcohol burn is immediately evident, but at the same time, quite manageable. I also get toasted oak, butterscotch, and a hint of mint and anise. There's also a fruity aspect underneath it all. I was reminded of a fruit-filled pastry, one with a touch of icing. (Perhaps I was just hungry.) I was actually surprised at how easy this one is to drink. It's quite flavorful, so much so that I must remain vigilant not to consume it too fast. Although I did top off my glass a time or two -- did I mention it was cold outside?

I selected cigar I had picked up only a few weeks ago, the Villiger San'Doro Colorado in Robusto. It's a cigar that has been around for many years. I came across mention of it online a few months ago, and the reviews sounded interesting. The 5 x 50 stick has a slightly rough, medium brown Ecuadoran Habano wrapper. Filler and binder tobaccos are from Nicaragua.

The cigar was packed tightly and the draw was somewhat restricted through the first half. The flavor profile was medium, with typical cigar notes of cedar, tobacco, and mild spice. The smoke had a creamy aspect with a bit of sweetness to balance. The cigar required frequent double and triple puffs to keep up smoke production. It never went out, but I did take the lighter to it at one point when the smoke production began to wane. I attribute these issues to the cold and the short, one month humidor time.

The cold was somewhat kept at bay by the propane heater, and an infrared lamp, though I did resort to gloves as well. I felt the creamy aspect of the smoke served to somewhat mediate the heat of the bourbon. I enjoyed this bourbon and cigar pairing. I especially look forward to enjoying more of the 1792 Full Proof bourbon in the very near future.


Friday, January 5, 2024

Five O'Clock Friday: Weekend Weather Forecast

I have bourbon, cigars, and fire. I'm ready.

Just to be safe, the snow blower and generator are ready as well.


Cranberry Citrus Cocktail

Despite having a fairly respectable whiskey selection on hand, I don't have an extensive selection of the liqueurs and other ingredients used for cocktails. That's slowly changing but when we went looking for simple cocktail ideas for the holidays, the search was based on what was on hand. I came across this Cranberry Citrus Cocktail on the Bourbon Review website. The listing for Amaro Montenegro caught my eye since I happen to have a bottle of that in the pantry. Four Roses Single Barrel also happens to be one of my favorite cocktail bourbons. Since Colleen was already buying fresh cranberries for some holiday cooking projects, the recipe fit the bill perfectly. We even had fresh rosemary on hand. It was destined to be! 

Colleen prepared a cranberry simple syrup and we were all set. Did I mention we use Four Roses Single Barrel frequently? Yeah, and I had used it all up recently, and had not yet replenished. No problem, I grabbed the bottle of John J. Bowman Single Barrel instead.

The drink was refreshing and flavorful. The bourbon flavor was somewhat muted by the citrus juice but was quite enjoyable. This one I added to my file of cocktails to make again.


Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Gingerbread Stout, A Veritas Cigar, and The Sun

While completing some morning chores on a cloudy day, I would occasionally see the sun breaking through the clouds. Those sightings would give me hope for a later smoke on the porch. When the time came for that anticipated break, the temperature was in the mid-60°, and what I'll optimistically call partly sunny. That'll do.

I've had a Veritas Torch San Andrés in my humidor for a couple of months and decided it might make a good pairing with the beer I was planning to enjoy.

Around this time each year, Hardywood Park Brewing releases its Gingerbread Stout, along with several variations of the beer with different additions. We recently picked up a variety pack contain four of the many variations on the theme the brewery produces at different times. For this outing I was sipping the classic Gingerbread Stout.

The Imperial Milk Stout comes in at winter-perfect ABV of 9.2%. The beer is rich with flavors of milk chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon and ginger. The initial sweetness and spice flavors give way to a roasted bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel is creamy and the flavors lingers on the palate.

The Veritas Torch San Andrés smoked is a 6 x 50 Toro. The cap is finished with a tight pigtail twist. The cigar features a San Andrés (obviously) wrapper with Nicaraguan binder and fillers. The smoke is creamy and copious, with notes of chocolate and nuts. 

I've smoked several cigars in the Vertias portfolio and have always found them to be flavorful, well-made, enjoyable smokes. And each time I smoke one I think I really should seek out more. So many cigars, so little time.

The Gingerbread Stout and Veritas Torch was an exceptional pairing. The flavors complimented each other quite successfully. I'm looking forward to more winter cigar and stout pairings in the coming months.


Monday, January 1, 2024

Bourbon, Eggnog, and Rocky Patel to End 2023

I've never been a big fan of eggnog, but spice it up with a little bourbon, and it becomes a fit winter drink. Getting ready to head out for a smoke in the last sunshine of 2023, I mixed a drink a glass of eggnog with hefty dose of Maker's Mark 46 Cask Strength. Lighting a Rocky Patel 15th Anniversary Toro I was ready to wind down the year, and start my New Year's celebration.

The Batch 23-02, 110.1 proof bottling gives a pleasing brown sugar, caramel, and cinnamon boost to the sweet drink. 

The Rocky Patel 15th Anniversary is a 6 1/2 x 52 Toro. The box-pressed stick is clothed in shiny Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. The binder and filler tobaccos are Nicaraguan. It has creamy, sweet profile with dark fruit and chocolate notes joining the mix as the cigar heats up.

Many maduro colored cigars have a wrapper reminiscent of chocolate. Siting in the sun, the wrapper of the 15th Anniversary distinctly reminded me of the classic Hershey's Chocolate bar. All in all, a pleasant way to begin winding down the year.

🎉  Happy New Year!  🎉