On December 5, 1933 the nightmare of Prohibition finally came to an end. Utah became the 36th state to formally ratified the 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution. The 18th Amendment which had unsuccessfully attempted to ban alcohol in the United State was officially repealed.
Unfortunately, the Prohibitionists are still out there. Freedoms once lost, are rarely restored. So responsibly enjoy an alcoholic beverage today and celebrate the gift of personal choice.
We spent the Thanksgiving holiday in Orlando to take in the ESPN Events Invitational college basketball tournament. It was a different sort of vacation for us, but thoroughly enjoyable. Thanksgiving dinner consisted of court side hotdogs and shelf Scotch. I didn't get in a lot of whiskey shopping, but did pick up a few bottles that are unavailable or hard to find in Virginia. It's been a busy week since our return, with inhospitable outdoor weather, but the weekend brought a bit of a respite, and the chance to open a new bottle.
After an early dinner, with the temps hovering a low 60°, I grabbed the St. Augustine Port Finished Bourbon, along with a CAO America cigar.
The bourbon was one I picked up on a whim. I was intrigued by the port finish, and wanted a "souvenir" from the local area. (It was that or a gator head.) I also like the old school bottle style. I've found these finished bourbons generally pair quite well with cigars. St. Augustine Distillery sources port wine barrels from the local San Sebastian Winery to finish their straight bourbon. The barrels then go back to the winery to finish more port wine. Yeah, technically it's a "port-style fortified wine" but no need to be pedantic.
Bottled at 102 proof, the bourbon is an attractive ruby color. The aroma brings notes of dark fruit, caramel. In the appearance, aroma, and flavor profiles, the port influence is unmistakable. The flavor is bold and rich. Dark cherries, fig, and raisons come to mind. There's also a creamy caramel sweetness underlying the fruit. The finish is long, as black pepper comes to the foreground and lingers. I found it a rather enjoyable drink.
The CAO America is a cigar I've not smoked before, and only recently picked up a few to try. This Potomac vitola is a 5 x 56 Robusto. The red, white, and blue label color scheme sits on a barber pole wrapper of Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro with a thin strip of Connecticut Shade tobacco creating the barber pole effect. The wrapper covers a Brazilian binder, which in turn hides fillers from Dominican Republic, Italy, Nicaragua, and the USA.
The cigar is medium bodied with notes of leather, nuts, milk chocolate, and cedar. The flavors are consistent throughout the smoke. The smoke production was rich with an even burn. I enjoy cigars that put out copious smoke without requiring touchups. The plentiful smoke brings lots of flavor to the palate. The ash was solid and the cigar finished with just three, long ash sections left in the ashtray, and no flakes on my lap.
The cigar and finished bourbon paired well together. I enjoyed about a 45 minute smoke before reaching the warm nub. Retiring inside, the St. Augustine Port Finished Bourbon merited another pour for both Colleen and I to enjoy as a late night libation.
It was a chilly but sunny afternoon when I decided to carry my mid-day treat cappuccino out to the deck to enjoy with a cigar. The fall colors were enchanting and the thinning leaf cover let some sun shine through.
The Foundation Wise Man Maduro Lancero is a 7 1/2 x 40 well-packed cigar. The Mexican San Andrés wrapper glistened in the sun. Along with the Nicaraguan binder and fillers, it made for a medium bodied, robust smoke. Notes of espresso, chocolate, and black pepper are predominant. As I've remarked in the past, the lancero shape seems to enhance and concentrate the cigar's flavors when compared with other vitolas of the same blend. I expected the cigar to give me about a one hour smoke. The burn was slow and flawless and after about an hour only half the stick had been consumed. I was enjoying a book while smoking so may have smoked a little slower than usual, but the cigar burn never wavered nor needed touching up.
I was tempted to step inside to prepare another cappuccino but the sun was getting lower in the trees. While it was still another 45 minutes or so until sunset, the temperature was dropping. Still bearable but the remaining sun was providing little in the way of warmth. I smoked for another 30 minutes before putting the cigar down with about a quarter left.
The rich expresso notes of the Foundation Wise Man Maduro Lancero complimented the creamy sweetness of the cappuccino well. I was not thrilled with giving up the smoke so early, but it had served its purpose and provided nearly two hours of pleasure.
This was the pairing on a rare late night smoke recently. We're typically an "early to bed, early to rise" household. While perusing my whiskey shelf I spied the Basil Hayden Toast bottle sitting in the bottom corner. Its placement was reflective of how long it's been on hand -- the prime spots tend to hold more recent acquisitions.
Basil Hayden Toast also gets overlooked most weekends due to its low proof, just 80 proof. This time I gravitated to it for that very reason. The aroma is very light, almost nonexistent. With concentration I get hints of caramel and oak. The flavor profile is also mild, but pleasant. Toffee and caramel predominate. There are cinnamon spice and brown sugar notes arriving in the finish, which lingers for a short while.
I went with an old standby for the accompanying cigar. Oliva Serie V is a smoke that I generally have on hand in several vitolas. It works well with both coffee and bourbon. It stands up to higher proof whiskeys, and at the same time doesn't overwhelm the milder ones either. The 6 x 56 Torpedo has an attractive Ecuadorian Habano wrapper with Nicaraguan tobaccos making up the binder and filler. Clipping the sharply pointed cap reveals a firm but open draw. The cigar gives flavors of coffee, creamy chocolate, nuts, and cedar. It's robust but medium bodied.
The late night pairing was a fine end to the evening. The cigar gave nearly two hours of pleasure. The easy sipping bourbon provided the perfect nightcap.
This was originally posted November 23, 2013, and shared nearly annually on this date. Given the growing anti-religious furor infecting our country, and world, it's worth remembering the heroes of persecution of recent memory.
November 23 is the Feast Day of Blessed Miguel Pro. Born on January 13, 1891, in Guadalupe, Mexico, Miguel Pro was ordained a Jesuit priest in Belgium in 1925. He returned to his home country in 1926, in the midst of that country's Cristeros War. After being falsely accused of an attempted bombing, Father Pro was executed by government forces without trial.
Blessed Miguel Pro's final request was to be allowed to pray to his heavenly Father.
After which he refused a blindfold and faced the firing squad bravely, proclaiming ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
Father Pro's executioners initially failed at their task, and the deed was finished at point blank range.
I am saddened, but hardly surprised, at the ignorance of the American public regarding the persecution of Catholics, and of the Cristero War that took place in Mexico in 1926 through 1929. Some 250,000 people lost their lives in a persecution that was supported by the government of the United States with both funds and air support. Given the ever-growing intolerance towards Christians, especially Catholics, in the United States, we would do well to remember.
Christ the King, by the intercession of Blessed Miguel Pro, I beg you to answer my prayers. Give me the grace and the strength necessary to follow your heroic example and to live my Catholic faith in spite of all temptations and adversities. Amen.