Sunday, April 21, 2024

Black Works Studio Intergalactic and a Night at the Lounge

I wasn't in the mood to sit on the cold porch Friday evening, so I headed over to the Olde Towne Tobacconist outpost at 1781 Brewing. I was hoping the cool-again weather wouldn't keep other folks away. When I arrived the parking lot was busy and I realized there was live music this evening. Unfortunately I wouldn't hear the music from inside the lounge, but again, I wasn't desirous of sitting in the cold.

After filling my mug with 1781's delicious Winter Bock, I went over to the lounge. I grabbed an Intergalactic by Black Works Studio, and picked my seat near the door to see passersby, but close enough to the wood stove to stay warm.

The Black Works Studio Intergalactic selected was a 6 1/4 x 46 Corona Larga. The cigar is rolled with a slightly rounded off foot and a small twisted bun on the head. It features a dark Indonesian Sumatra wrapper. The binder is Ecuadoran Habano, and the filler from Nicaragua. The first few draws bring a big dose of black pepper and cedar that tingles the nose. The flavor picks up cedar and charred wood as it progresses. The Intergalactic is a medium to full bodied smoke. I found that in combination with the malty beer, the profile picks up a creamy aspect, moderating the spiciness of the smoke. 

After a short while I was joined by a gentleman who was enjoying a cigar while his family enjoyed the music and winery side of the venue. Like me, he chose warmth over music. It turns out we had some similar experiences in both our careers and travels. Since I had arrived well before him, I decided to grab another smoke and a refill of my beer as we chatted. It made for an enjoyable evening. 


Saturday, April 20, 2024

Before It Turned Cold. Again.

Writing this as I remind myself that Spring in Virginia is schizophrenic -- just when you think it's getting warm, the weather abruptly changes. We went out to dinner with a large group of friends on Thursday evening. Before going out, one of those friends visited for an afternoon drink and smoke. It was near 80° so the screen porch was quite pleasant.

I cracked open the bottle of Bulleit 12 Year Rye I had found earlier in the week. This delightful whiskey requires a more in-depth review, to come later. In summary, the well-aged rye is smooth, with sweet notes of toffee, vanilla, and brown sugar. There's a nice rye spice that does not overwhelm but gives even more character to the drink. 

We enjoyed our cigars and whiskey, before heading out for a long evening with friends, until the "late" hour of 9:45 PM, when somebody noticed that the restaurant closed at 9:00. They were obviously very accommodating.

And now it's back to 60° days and 40° nights for the next week.  


Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Sunday Cocktails, Hors d'oeuvres, and a Cigar

It was a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon as we enjoyed our before dinner drinks and appetizers. Colleen grabbed a selection of snacks, including some delicious Sopresatta. I mixed up Old Fashioneds, using Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon. I experiment frequently with different bourbons and ryes for the classic drink, but our favorite remains the Four Roses.

Naturally I needed a cigar to enjoy as well. I selected the Oliva Serie V in a 6 x 56 Torpedo. Anything from the Serie V lineup is sure to please.

The Italian meat, Irish cheese, and nuts provided a tasty accompaniment. We even added some Salsa and crackers to the international mix. If I do say so myself, the Old Fashioned cocktails were right on point. And the creamy chocolate, nut, coffee, and cedar flavors from the cigar fit in nicely. 

Despite the constant rain of pollen requiring covering of the drinks and food, it was a very enjoyable afternoon repast. When it was done, I grilled some Flat Iron steaks for dinner while Colleen sautéed onions and mushrooms for the side. All in all, a fitting feast for Sunday.


Monday, April 15, 2024

Maker's Mark Private Selection and Rocky Patel A.L.R. II

Kicking off the weekend, I grabbed one of my favorite Rocky Patel cigars, the A.L.R. Second Edition. I also went back to the Virginia ABC pick of Maker's Mark Private Selection Hint O' Chocolate II. In retrospect, it was a "Volume Two" sort of evening. 

The evening was cool and breezy, but bearable. Colleen even grabbed a coat and joined me on the porch for a pour and conversation. 

The Maker's Mark Hint O' Chocolate has grown on me since I first tried it in 2022. The 107.9 proof bourbon has a pleasant aroma of fruit and oak. With sipping, there is sweet cream along with a stone fruit and some drying oak. The milk chocolate I had originally detected in the finish, which was slightly off-putting to me, is nearly imperceptible. Colleen noted without prompting that she wasn't tasting any chocolate. Interesting given the naming, but a pleasant development in my opinion.

The Rocky Patel A.L.R. Second Edition is a 6 1/2 x 52 box-pressed Toro. The initials on the band stand for Aged, Limited, and Rare. The wrapper is San André Maduro, and the binder and filler tobaccos are of Nicaraguan origin. The wrapper is slightly rough and is dry to the touch. The burn was slow and even, the cigar offering a pleasant 80 minute smoke. The ALR is full bodied with coffee, roasted nuts, and just a touch of spice. 

It was a pleasant "outing on the deck, even if it did get much cooler quickly. Colleen headed inside after a bit while I finished my smoke, and another pour of the Maker's Mark.


Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Sunday Sunset With Crux Du Connoisseur and Chai Tea

After dinner on Sunday I once again aheaded out to the porch for a last bit of relaxation before the Monday grind. I was looking through the humidor for a smaller smoke and came across the Crux Du Connoisseur No. 3. I also grabbed pod of an instant Chai Tea Latte that was in the pantry. I am not sure when or why we picked that up, but it seemed like a promising accompaniment.

The Crux Du Connoisseur No. 3 was included in the January Luxury Cigar Club mailing. The 5 3/4 x 35 panatela is draped in a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper. The binder is also Nicaraguan and the filler Honduran. The cap and wrapper are somewhat roughly applied, and I did have to use my PerfecRepair to glue the corner of the wrapper back down after cutting. There were no other issues and that repair was easy and seamless.

The smoke starts off with a surprise kick. Cinnamon hits right off the bat. Sweet caramel and espresso join in the mix very quickly and the profile balances out. This medium to full bodied profile continues through the length of the cigar. In the last inch or so, the espresso begins to dominate the caramel. The cigar was a surprisingly robust and flavorful smoke with a short 45 minute burn time. Before that time was up I was perusing online web sites with an eye to buying more. It's an ideal "quick smoke."

And the instant Chai Tea Latte? It was flavorful, and was a near-perfect pairing. While I was enjoying the beverage and cigar that sun was hitting at a low angle and shining directly on me, heating up the space against the house where I sitting. Despite the reported 60° temperature, I needed neither a jacket nor the heater. A fine way to close out Sunday to say the least.


Monday, April 8, 2024

At the Cigar Lounge - Veritas 412 and 1781 Winter Bock

It's been quite some time since I enjoyed a cigar at one of my local cigar lounges. The effects of available time, travel, and a really good selection at home have all served to defer those visits. I finally got out to Olde Towne Tobacconist at the Farm (Facebook link) this past weekend. Online they had promoted having the wood stove going so I knew would be warmer than my deck and portable propane heater.

As usual, I first stopped inside the brewery to grab a glass cup of 1781 Brewing Winter Bock. I hadn't brought my mug club mug and was disappointed they were serving in plastic cups. But at least it showed off the bright caramel orange color of the beer. The lager had a slightly sweet caramel malt flavor with just a touch of hop bitterness. It went down smoothly, and quickly. 

I selected a Veritas 412 to go with my beer this evening. The 6 x 54 Toro has a dark Pennsylvania Maduro wrapper. There's a San Andrés binder that holds Nicaraguan Double Ligero and Pennsylvania fillers. The 412 is a full flavored smoke, yet it is quite smooth at the same time. There is semi-sweet chocolate, black pepper, and roasted nuts in the profile. It's bold and dark, but with a mild sweet toasted underpinning. This centers in on my favorite notes in a cigar. The flavor profiles of the beer and the cigar were excellent together.

I've enjoyed the other Veritas cigars I've tried. The Veritas 412 might be my favorite the bunch, though that impression could simply be a recency effect. However, the brand seems to not be widely available. Checking my usual online sources uncovers a very limited selection, with many of the options showing out of stock. The only place I've found them is at this particular lounge. Which reminds me, I need to pick up more "to go" on my next visit.


Sunday, April 7, 2024

A Weller Evening

I've been waiting for warmer weather to enjoy another of the Weller by Cohiba smokes I picked up last August. I've smoked one not long after the purchase. It was enjoyable but needed a bit more humidor time. The cigar had some minor burn issues and tasted a little harsh at times. After waiting eight months, I was itching to have another. Alas, the weather this weekend turned to the chilly side. But, I still have propane for the heaters, so I went for it any way. Patience only goes so far. 

On top of the desire to enjoy this cigar, I've been wanting to go back to my bottle of Weller Antique 107. The hard-to-find bottle is down to its last third, so I've been drinking it sparingly. I decided to go for the "matched pair."

The 2023 Weller by Cohiba is a 6 x 50 Toro that comes in individual aluminum tubes. I removed the cigars from the tubes for humidor storage. The deep brown Nicaraguan Jalapa wrapper encases a USA Broadleaf binder. Brazilian Mata Fina, Nicaraguan Esteli, and Nicaraguan Jalapa tobaccos make up the fillers. In a partnership with Weller Bourbon the binder leaves were aged in Weller Bourbon barrels from the Buffalo Trace distillery, producers of Weller Bourbon. I saw one reference specifically stating Weller 12 Year as the bourbon, but the Cohiba and other websites are non-specific. Nonetheless, I paired the cigar with Weller Antique 107, because that's the one I have.

The cigar is densely packed and firm to the touch. The area around the band had no give whatsoever. After clipping the cap, I used my PerfecDraw to open it up a bit. The draw remained firm until the last third. Regular double puffs were required for good smoke production, but the cigar never went out. Only one early correction to the burn was required.

The flavor profile of the Weller by Cohiba is rich dark chocolate with caramel and toasted oak notes. There's a small bit of black pepper at the beginning, which seems to disappear later on. Despite the dark appearance of the cigar, it's medium bodied, with a smooth and creamy texture.

I picked up the Weller Antique 107 a couple years ago, back when the Virginia Alcohol Beverage Cartel  actually put hard to find bottles on the shelves when they came in. One could find interesting bourbons at random times. It was worthwhile checking out the stores at random times to find fun stuff.  The bottle cost under $50 at that time too.

Using wheat instead of the more usual rye, gives the 107 proof drink a "softness" in both the aroma and the palate. Dark fruit, caramel, and a floral note waft from the glasss. Upon sipping, I get a mild cinnamon, along with raisons, vanilla, and dark caramel. The finish is oily but short lived. The poof adds some body but is a negligible note. I really could sip this all day.

The pairing of the two Wellers was enjoyable. The mild sweetness of the bourbon played nicely with the caramel and chocolate sweetness from the cigar. I do think a more robust cigar may have overshadowed the soft bourbon. The Weller by Cohiba is a limited release and not an inexpensive smoke. I like the flavor profile, though the cost is high buck for the bang. On the bright side, the well-packed cigar gave a two hour plus smoking time. That was plenty of time to enjoy a few pours of the Weller Antique. 


Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Easter Candy and Tatuaje Avion 13 Tuxtla

Forty-days of avoiding sweets, and then a bonanza! I often wonder if the tradition of chocolate at Easter started because Catholics were graving the things they gave up for Lent. The fabled Easter Rabbit still makes a small drop at our home, despite it being empty of (actual) children. I paired some of those sweet treats with a cigar on Sunday afternoon.

The Tatuaje Avion 13 Tuxtla is the last of a batch I purchased in July 2022. I figured it was probably getting close to, or past, its prime. The Tuxtla is a strong, bold blend by design and I didn't want to lose that.

Tatuaje Avion 13 Tuxtla is variation of the original Avion 13, which featured a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper. The Tuxtla has a San Andrés wrapper. Both cigars have a Nicaraguan double binder and filler. The 6 7/8 x 52 box pressed perfecto is a large, well constructed, and attractive stick. The dark brown wrapper is oily in the hand. 

The foot lights easily and the burn spreads evenly as the cigar widens to its full circumference. The initial flavor is pepper and cedar. As the cigar heats up and the burn gets to the body of the cigar, espresso and cocoa join the mix. Eventually a mellow earthiness comes in to play. 

The Avion 13 Tuxtla started out as a full bodied smoke, though as I passed the mid-point, the profile mellowed slightly. I didn't feel the flavor was as strong as I remembered. That could be the nearly two years spent in the humidor. In any event, it was still plenty flavorful and enjoyable.


Monday, April 1, 2024

Saturday Sunshine, Highland Black Mocha Stout, and CAO America

On the Saturday before Easter, while the family watched NCAA basketball, I escaped to the deck to enjoy the sunshine. The sun was shining causing me to squint in the bright light, and it was glorious. It was mid-afternoon and I was in the mood for a beer with my cigar.

The mostly-beer fridge downstairs had recently been rearranged to make room for all the Easter food being prepared. A bottle of Highland Brewing Black Mocha Stout turned up during that shuffle. Admittedly, the bottle was from our trip to North Carolina a few years back, but it had been refrigerated during the intervening years, so I was hopeful. Upon pouring, the beer had a full, stiff head so all was good.

Highland Black Mocha Stout has dark chocolate, coffee, and citrus hops in the aroma. The breeze in the air was wafting it to my nose as a prepared the cigar for lighting. Dark, bitter cocoa and chocolate malt great the palate. There's a pleasantly bitter roasted maltiness that lingers in the aftertaste. I began to wish there was another "lost" bottle in the fridge to be found.

I had picked up a five pack of the CAO America last fall, with the plan to save them for an Independence or Memorial Day weekend, but they seem be getting smoked regularly, so perhaps those plans will be altered.

CAO America Potomac is a 5 x 56, fat Robusto. It features a dark Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper accented with a barber pole of Connecticut shade leaf. A Brazilian binder encases a blend of Dominican Republic, Italy, Nicaragua, and USA Connecticut fillers. That recipe produces notes of vanilla and cedar, with a touch of pepper coming in at the end. The medium bodied smoke has a creamy overall feel to it. It's a very nice compliment to the dark stout.

I enjoyed a 75 minute smoke in the sun. While the cigar and beer was finished, I was table to enjoy the sun a while longer. It was time to grill the beef for tonight's carne asada feast.


Sunday, March 31, 2024

He is risen! Alleluia!

I wish everyone a very blessed and joyous Easter. The culmination of the Liturgical year comes on this holiest of Feasts. By His Resurrection the joy of eternal life -- assuming we don't willingly throw it away -- is His ultimate gift to us.

After 2,000 years, the enduring joy of the Feast of Easter remains.

Happy Easter

Picture credit:

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Rocky Patel Disciple With Peerless Bourbon

After a small Good Friday dinner, I settled in with a good cigar and a wee sip of bourbon to assuage my desire for a filling dessert. I honed in quickly on the Rocky Patel Disciple. The Peerless Small Batch Bourbon was a bottle I grabbed in Florida last fall, but had not explored very much.

The Rocky Patel Disciple is a cigar I've enjoyed many times, in both Robusto and Toro vitolas. This 6 x 50 Toro has been sitting in my humidor since October. Once the large marketing swag is removed, the cigar shows off a chocolate brown San Andrés wrapper leaf. The oily wrapper encases Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. The Disciple is a medium to full bodied, richly flavored smoke. Initially there are notes of espresso and dark cocoa. Soon black pepper and raisons join the mix. Smoke production seems a bit on the light side, but the flavor is still robust. The burn is even throughout the 75 minute smoke.  

This Peerless Small Batch Bourbon is labeled at 115.4 proof. That's a little higher than some bottles I've seen online, which hover around 110 proof. There is alcohol on the nose, along with cinnamon and sweet caramel. Still, the bourbon has a mild aroma, especially for the proof.

Upon sipping, the caramel remains, along with other sweet notes of butterscotch and brown sugar. A pleasing addition of dark cherry comes in at the end. The finish is soft and short.

Overall, I found the Peerless Small Batch Bourbon to be a pleasing sipper. It was balanced and mellow. I think the higher proof gave it a bit of strength to stand on, but did not seem "proofy" at all. The pairing with the Rocky Patel worked, with the cigar holding the edge. I'll certainly enjoy both again in the future.


Friday, March 29, 2024

A 3:00 thought for Good Friday.

The ancient greyness shifted suddenly and thinned like mist upon the moors before a wind.

An old, old prophet lifted a shining face and said:

“He will be coming soon. The Son of God is dead; He died this afternoon.”

A murmurous excitement stirred all souls. They wondered if they dreamed

save one old man who seemed not even to have heard.

And Moses, standing, hushed them all to ask if any had a welcome song prepared.

If not, would David take the task?

And if they cared could not the three young children sing the Benedicite,

the canticle of praise they made when God kept them from perishing in the fiery blaze?

A breath of spring surprised them, stilling Moses’ words.

No one could speak, remembering the first fresh flowers, the little singing birds.

Still others thought of fields new ploughed or apple trees all blossom-boughed.

Or some, the way a dried bed fills with water laughing down green hills.

The fisherfolk dreamed of the foam on bright blue seas.

The one old man who had not stirred remembered home.

And there He was, splendid as the morning sun and fair as only God is fair.

And they, confused with joy, knelt to adore

Seeing that He wore five crimson stars He never had before.

No canticle at all was sung. None toned a psalm, or raised a greeting song,

A silent man alone of all that throng found tongue — not any other.

Close to His heart when the embrace was done, old Joseph said,

“How is Your Mother, How is Your Mother, Son?”
-- Sister Mary Ada

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Caldwell Eastern Standard Cream Crush

It was a cool and breezy Sunday afternoon, but the sun was shining. The Caldwell Eastern Standard Cream Crush seemed a good choice to enjoy while sipping a cup of coffee and listening to acoustic blues on the radio.  

Caldwell Eastern Standard Cream Crush is a 7 x48 Lancero with an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper. The wrapper is said to be a hybrid seed offering a fuller bodied smoke than a typical Connecticut Shade cigar. The binder is Indonesian with Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers. The light brown wrapper glistens in the sunlight.

Upon light up, I get surprisingly robust citrus and pepper notes. As the cigar processed, the flavor became more creamy, with hints of leather, nuts, and cedar. The cigar is indeed more flavorful than I expected. The cigar was part of a Lancero sampler pack I purchased in August 2023. Not typically one to enjoy many Connecticut Shade cigars, I was curious if I would enjoy this one. But I did. The burn was even but I needed to give it a boost with my torch a few times to keep up the smoke output.

The issue I had with the Cream Crush was the problem removing the smaller band. The overlap was glued so tightly that I had trouble getting a fingernail under the edge. When I could raise a small corner, the tiny bit tore off without unwrapping the band. I could see the wrapper starting a small crack as I worked on the band removal. I finally used the tip of my pocket knife to get a cut in the band to tear it off. As a result of these struggles the wrapper was cracked and lifting off in a couple places. Upon removing the larger band, I could flakes of extra glue hanging off the edges of it. After employing the extra skill needed to roll a Lancero cigar, it's a shame to have a careless bland application detract from the final product.

My coffee had a bit of caramel vanilla flavoring in it. The sweet and bitter flavor profile of the coffee matched well with the cigar. I am also looking forward to the coming, and more consistent, warm weather so the deck time is even more abundant.


Saturday, March 23, 2024

Four Roses Small Batch, Oscar Valladares 2012 Sumatra, and Friday

Friday couldn't come soon enough. Sure, I had a quiet birthday celebration earlier in the week with a few friends, but the week was still long. Friday evening was cool, but not uncomfortable, which made for pleasant sipping and smoking on the screened porch.

For this long-awaited repast I selected the bottle of Four Roses Small Batch Select. As the smoking accompaniment I dug out an Oscar Valladares 2012 Sumatra in Toro that had been in the humidor for a couple of months. Requisite photo done, I grabbed the Kindle for some reading and headed outside.

Four Roses Small Batch Select is made of a blend of six of the ten mash bills used by Four Roses, in various combinations, for its bourbons. The bourbon is bottled at 104 proof. There is a touch of alcohol on the aroma, if you look for it. Mostly it consists of sweet, dark fruit and oak. When sipping, spice notes kick off the flavors. Dark fruit and a vanilla sweetness join in. The bourbon is flavorful and well-balanced. Spices and candied fruit notes linger in the creamy finish. 

Oscar Valladares 2012 is a line of cigars from the same Oscar Valladares the brings us the Leaf by Oscar cigars. The 2012 branding pays homage to the year Oscar Valladares started his cigar company, after decades of working for Rocky Patel and General Cigar. The cigars are made in Honduras.

The Oscar Valladares 2012 Sumatra Toro is a selection from the January Luxury Cigar Club mailing. It is a 6 x 52 box pressed cigar, wrapped in Ecuadorian Sumatra leaf, with Honduran tobaccos used for the binder and filler. The light brown wrapper felt dry in the hand. Cutting the cap revealed a wide open draw, a bit more open than I prefer but useable.

I got a mild spice in the opening puffs. This was soon joined by a sweet blend of honey and molasses, with a creamy butter impression coming in. Smoke production was copious. As the burn progressed and the cigar warmed up, some tobacco notes joined in. However the flavor notes were pretty consistent throughout the 70 minute smoke. I did relight the cigar twice, perhaps from my own inattention caused by intermittent reading and day dreaming.

When I first went out to the deck, I set the propane heater in place, but I did not have to use it. The temperature hovered around 60° and there was no breeze. The smoke was finished before the sun fully set, making for a rather pleasant kick-off to the weekend.


Wednesday, March 20, 2024

It's Time for Irish Whiskey and a Lovely 162 Corona Gorda

We began our "holy day" celebrations with some Irish Whiskey, and for me, a cigar. It was a cloudy but warm enough Friday evening to kick off a St. Patrick weekend of quiet celebration at home. I grabbed the bottle of Powers John's Lane Irish Whiskey to take out to the deck.

This bottle is somewhat special to me. I brought it back from our 2012 trip to Ireland. John's Lane was the first whiskey I had in Ireland, on the recommendation of the pub bartender. While waiting in the Dublin airport this is one of the bottles I grabbed in the Duty Free shop. I didn't actually open it until we had friends over for St. Patrick's Day in 2021.

The Powers John's Lane is a 12 year whiskey produced by the prominent Irish distillery Midleton, who also brings us Redbreast, Jameson, among others. It is a proper Single Pot Still whiskey and comes in at 46% proof. The glass gives off aromas of sweet fruit and caramel. Upon sipping I get a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg. I picked up a caramelize banana in the finish, while Colleen found Apricot. Of course plenty of sweet malt and honey was present. The finish allowed the same notes to linger pleasantly on the palate. 

Powers John's Lane is a very pleasant whiskey that makes a great afternoon sipper, as it was here, but also is a delightful dessert beverage.

I selected the Lovely Cigars 162 Churchill to pair with my Irish whiskey. The cigar was part of the December Luxury Cigar Club December mailing. That means it was resting in my humidor for three months. I didn't know what to expect from the Lovely 162, as I had never heard of the brand prior to the Luxury Cigar shipment. Which is of course, one of the things I like about the subscription. There are often new brands to discover.

Lovely Cigars is a Green Bay, Wisconsin company that was founded in was founded in 2019. The name of the company pays tribute to the Ain’t They Lovely brand that produced cigars in Green Bay from the early 1900's until the about 1960. The corona vitola takes the name 162 from a progressive cigar roller union in the Green Bay area. The union offered high wages, sick benefits, and was one of the first to provide maternity benefits.

The Lovely 162 Corona Gorda is a 6 x 50 stick wrapped in an Ecuadorian Habano leaf, with a Sumatran binder and Nicuarguan filler. The milk chocolate colored wrapper has a nice oily sheen. The smoke bring a mild pepper spice along with a creamy chocolate note. The smoke remains smooth and creamy, with balanced flavors of chocolate, mild pepper spice, and a sweet caramel. Overall it was very enjoyable. The burn was even with plentiful smoke through out the hour and forty-five minute smoke.

I don't think I had opened the Powers John's Lane since last the St. Patrick Day. That's regrettable as it's quite pleasant.


Monday, March 18, 2024

La Mission de L’Atelier 1959 and Coffee

Cigars and coffee. While my preferred pairing with a smoke is whiskey, often the situation calls for a non-alcoholic beverage. Many carbonated drinks work well, especially cream sodas in my opinion. I just prefer to limit my soda intake to very rare occasions. 

My preferred coffee flavor is "black." However I do find that often a flavored-style of a caffeine beverage does seem to work better with cigars. Cappuccino is an excellent choice. I also frequently turn to flavorings such as vanilla, caramel, or mocha. Mocha was the random pairing selection to go with the La Mission L'atelier 1959.

L'atelier Imports is a project of Pete Johnson of Tatuaje cigars. The Tatuaje influence is strong in this cigar. I've enjoyed other L'atelier cigars, and they are often referred to as "Tatuaje L'atelier." The La Mission line pays tribute to the Château La Mission Haut-Brion winery in Bordeaux, France. The 1959 represents one of the years the winery received a 100 point rating from wine critic Robert Parker.

La Mission de L’Atelier 1959 is a 4 3/4 x 52 Robusto. The tobaccos used are a Mexican San Andrés wrapper with Nicaraguan binder and fillers. The cap has a prominent pigtail twist. Interestingly, all L'Atelier cigars include a leaf of Sancti Spiritus tobacco. That tobacco is a hybrid of Criollo and Pelo de Oro seed that is grown by the Garcia family of My Father Cigars.

Smelling the cigar before lighting, I was struck by a musty barnyard and hay aroma. Once lit, the cigar kicks off with semi-sweet chocolate joined by prominent pepper. As the cigar progress, the profile gains an earth and leather aspect, but the chocolate and pepper remain. Towards the end, spicy pepper and cedar creep into the forefront. This is definitely a full-bodied cigar. 

The cigar was a little rough looking, with a slightly off center cap that included an extra tab of tobacco. The draw was open and the burn remained even. The cigar did go out once, a result of my own inattention. 

I enjoyed the La Mission de L’Atelier 1959 quite a bit. I did regret that I was not enjoying it with a spicy rye whiskey. Next time for sure.


Sunday, March 17, 2024

Celebrating the Feast of Saint Patrick

Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhaoibh!

It's that time of the year when a Saint revered by many, especially in the Irish-Catholic community, is adopted by people of all descent. As a Catholic of Irish decent, I can find little fault with people bettering themselves. :-)

In 2024, the feast day falls on a Sunday. Therefore, throughout much of the Church the Saint's day loses out to the liturgy for the 5th Sunday in Lent. Since St. Patrick is our parish's patron saint, it's traditionally a "day off" from Lenten obligations, but this year Sunday already grants that option. 

As we typically do, we'll avoid the local pubs on the 17th. I don't drink green beer, and remain confident that neither did St. Patrick. But do as you wish. For my celebration I will stick with a dark Stout or an Irish Red Ale. And surely a wee pour or three of Irish Whiskey will be enjoyed. In our house there is always homemade Irish Soda Bread and Irish Stew served as well. 

While in the midst of your celebrations, try to give thought to the man behind the Feast Day. Whether you accept the traditions associated with St. Patrick's life or not, there can be no denying the good he did. (As much as some of these stories cannot be proven, they cannot be disproven either.) Kidnapped as a young boy and sold into slavery in Ireland, he grew to love the Irish people. Late in his life, he was around 60 at the time, Saint Patrick returned to the Ireland to teach and convert the people he had adopted as his own. Certainly that is worthy of our respect.

Our family has long had a devotion to St. Patrick. That admiration was made all the more tangible when we were blessed to make two pilgrimages to the Emerald Isle, in 2012 and again in 2019. During those visits I was reminded just how much the Irish love Patrick. He's more than just a marketing ploy there.

Odd as it may seem, we actually have to remind people, and pubs, that St. Patrick was a man, not a woman. His name is Patrick, which comes from the Irish, Pádraig. Shorten his name to Paddy if you must. However, we do not celebrate "St. Patty's Day." Patty is a shortened version of Patricia, a girl's name. Feast-related debauchery is one thing, but transgendering our Saint is unacceptable. As much as it pains me, I refuse each year to take advantage of any "holiday discount" from businesses who attempt to lure me with discount codes of "STPATTY" and the like. It's a feeling of satisfaction when I see a local establishment has corrected their marketing after being reminded of this error.

Let's all celebrate the memory of St. Patrick. Enjoy a drink or two and some good food, hopefully with friends. There's nothing wrong with bringing a little revelry into the world, we certainly need it. I like a good party as much as the next guy. And I certainly appreciate a good Irish drinking joke. Drink your green beer if you must. Dress up in silly clothes. (But, remember St. Patrick was a man, not a leprechaun.) Then remember the reason for this feast. Take a moment to honor the man and all the good he did. In our house we'll raise a drink of uisce beatha, "the water of life," and a prayer, to St. Patrick in honor of his deeds and his country.

All the children of Ireland cry out to thee:
Come, O Holy Patrick, and save us!


Thursday, March 14, 2024

A Tease of Spring

There's a meme on social media that says, "It's like Winter leaves the room and then comes back to say, 'And one more thing. . ." Well, Winter left the room for a few days this week and we got a glimpse of the Spring to come. (Yes, Winter is coming back in a few days.)

I took advantage of the 70° temperatures to enjoy some deck therapy with a pour of Buffalo Trace Bourbon, paired with the El Güegüense Toro Huaco from Foundation Cigars.

The El Güegüense has been resting in my humidor for about a year. This Toro Huaco vitola is a hefty 6 x 56 stick. It felt especially large since I've been enjoying a lot of Robusto and Lancero cigars of late. 56 ring gauge is about the largest size cigar I enjoy. I've smoked many 6 x 60, or even 8 1/2 x 60 sticks. But for smoking time, balance in the hand, and comfort smoking, 56 is a good ring gauge. 

This Nicaraguan puro has a Corojo 99 wrapper and binder, and the binder is a blend of Corojo 99 and Criollo 98 tobaccos. The 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. A blend of cocoa, espresso, sweet chocolate, nuts, accented by a mild pepper spice combined for a complex and flavorful smoke. 

The medium bodied cigar paired quite nicely with the Buffalo Trace Bourbon. I've been nursing my few bottles of Buffalo Trace as it's "allocated" in Virginia. This not truly rare bourbon can only be purchased when the VA ABC announces a random "drop event." And then you don't know where the bottles will show up until you arrive at the store. Adding to the State-generated hype, if one decides to purchase a bottle of Buffalo Trace, no other allocated bottles can be purchased that trip. It's an idiotic system devised by, well, you know. Fortunately, it often available in neighboring states, and online, at or near MSRP. 

Buffalo Trace in the quintessential bourbon. It checks in at 90 proof, and has all the classic notes of caramel, vanilla, and toffee. It's has a sweet but balanced profile that offers an easy-to-sip drink. Buffalo Trace is often dismissed by the bourbon "snobs" but is generally well-received by folks who simply like a good bourbon. The $30 price tag is a bonus as well. (I refuse to pay secondary market prices for any whiskey.)

Now that we are in Daylight Saving Time, I was able to enjoy the after dinner smoke and drink before the sun had even set. That felt good to say the least.


Monday, March 11, 2024

Knuckle Sandwich Maduro With OGD 114

I've been looking forward to trying this one for a while. Back in December I picked up the Espinosa Knuckle Sandwich Habano and Espinosa Knuckle Sandwich Maduro, both in the Robusto vitola.  The Knuckle Sandwhich line is the result a collaboration between chef Guy Fieri and Erik Espinosa. I'm an admitted fan of the boisterous celebrity chef, and hoped the cigars would be representative his personality. Not just another celebrity putting his brand on a product, Fieri is a longtime cigar enthusiast. 

For this outing I selected the Knuckle Sandwich Maduro version. The chocolate hued Ecuadorian Sumatra Maduro wrapper holds Nicaraguan binder and filler. The 5 x 52 cigar is box-pressed.

The cigar blasts out of the gate with a flavorful blend of dark coffee, cocoa, and a bit of white pepper. A dark fruit aspect comes in the finish. The draw was on the looser side, with lots of smoke production. The first third of the cigar seemed to burn really fast. I was seriously enjoying the flavors, and started lamenting the predicted short smoking time. To my delight the burn seemed to slow, especially past the midpoint, and I ended up enjoying a surprising 90 minute smoke from the small cigar.

The ash on the cigar did seem to drop easily in short blocks. On several occasions I ended up with the ash section in my lab. There was also as fair amount of loose ash flakes dropping on a consistent basis. As I became aware of the mess I was much more attentive to keeping the stick over the ashtray on the side table. Other than than, I had no burn issues. Even down to the tiny nub, the smoke remained cool, even when I could no longer hold the cigar between my fingers.

I paired the Knuckle Sandwich with Old Grand-Dad 114. This bourbon seemed to be hard to find in Virginia for a while. When we visited Florida last fall I picked up a bottle. Of course, soon after that I started seeing it again on shelves locally.

Upon pouring, the 114 proof point, along with the high rye mash bill, is immediately evident in the aroma wafting from the glass. The spicy heat is apparent, in the nose, backed by a brown sugar sweetness. The flavor profile follows the pattern with brown sugar and caramel sweetness. A rye and cinnamon spice coats the palate, as well as the warming proof. The finish is long, with the flavorful heat lingering.

Despite the many mentions of spice and heat in the paragraph above, Old Grand-Dad 114 is extremely drinkable. There's no harshness, just a full palate sensation. At an approximately $30 price point, it's a value that should not be passed by,

The Knuckle Sandwich Maduro and Old Grand-Dad pairing made for a delightful combination. Two full bodied flavor sensations together were even better than the parts. Both the bourbon and the cigars are ones I'd gladly keep on hand. I am looking forward to trying out the Knuckle Sandwich Habano counterpart very soon.


Thursday, March 7, 2024

Grenadine Old Fashioned Paired With BLTC La Madonna Negra

More warm weather, means more cocktails and cigars on the deck. As I was perusing the virtual stack of drink recipes I've gathered over time, I came across one for a Grenadine Old Fashioned that sounded interesting.

The recipe calls for 2 ounce of wheated bourbon, 1/4 ounce of grenadine, and bitters. I selected a Wyoming Whiskey Bourbon for the drinks. Stirred over ice and served on a single rock, I garnished with a Luxardo cherry. The 88 proof bourbon was somewhat muted by the sharpness of the grenadine, but still it was a flavorful drink. The Grenadine Old Fashioned isn't as sweet as my normal recipe, but I found it to be a very refreshing drink. Worthy of a second round at least. A platter of sharp Irish cheeses also added to the enjoyment. 

Sometimes I sip a drinking immediately know what cigars I want to smoke. This time I quickly settled on the Black Label Trading Company La Madonna Negra, in the 5 1/4 x 50 Robusto vitola. A dark chocolate colored Connecticut broadleaf wrapper covers an Ecuadorian habano binder and fillers from Nicaragua and Pennsylvania. I recall the smoke having a robust, flavorfully sharp profile that I felt would go well with the sweetly bitter drink.

The cigar has been resting in my humidor for about eight months. Some of the initially smoked sticks had tight draws that required some work to maintain a full smoke output. Not so with this one. The cigar smoked wonderfully and made a delightful pairing for the cocktail.

As noted, the slightly aged cigar burned well and produced a medium to full flavored smoke. The flavor presents a blend of dark chocolate, espresso, and dark cherries. There is some pepper and cedar sitting in the background to add even more interest. 

I quite enjoyed the combination of the drink and cigar flavors. I'm looking forward to trying the cocktail with some different cigars, and of course, the remaining La Madonna Negra cigars I still have on hand.


Monday, March 4, 2024

Cool Evening With Hamlet Tabaquero and Knob Creek Rye

March 1 marked the first day of "meteorological spring." The actual start of spring is still three weeks off, but the days are getting longer and warmer. The bulbs are sprouting in the garden, and the birds in the trees are active. And it's pleasant enough for a smoke on the deck. 

For this evening repast I grabbed one on my favorites, the Rocky Patel Hamlet Tabaquero, accompanied by a bottle of Knob Creek Single Barrel Rye.

The Hamlet Tabaquero is from my slowly shrinking stock I purchased in September 2020 upon hearing the line was being discontinued. The 6 x 52 Toro  has a San Andrés wrapper, a Nicaraguan filler, along with San Andrés and Brazilian Mata Fina double binders. The previous ones from this box have had some minor burn issues, but after 16 months of resting, the performance has improved. The balanced flavors of creamy sweetness, milk chocolate, cedar, and oak still present themselves well. With half the box gone, it's getting more difficult to light up one, but I know the flavor will change over time, and they are great right now.

The Knob Creek Single Barrel Select Rye is a VA ABS pick, with a barrel date of June 13, 2016 and a selected date of January 31, 2023. I purchased the bottle in July 2023. The 6 year old rye is bottled at a respectable 115 proof. The nose is deceptively mild with cocoa, vanilla, and citrus. The proof and robust flavor profile truly shines in the sipping. I get a moderate amount of rye spice. Butterscotch, cocoa, along with some cinnamon and nuttiness join in as I roll the rye across my tongue. A spicy heat lingers for a long while in the finish.

The Tabaquero and the high proof Knob Creek Rye made for a flavorsome combination. I was pleased how neither the smoke nor the rye dominated, but instead complimented each other quite well.


Thursday, February 29, 2024

Southern Draw Kudzu Axil Lancero

All the social media things reminded me that Tuesday, February 27 was "National Cigar Day." On February 27th, 1883 Oscar Hammerstein I recieved a patent for an automated cigar rolling machine. While our preference is for hand-rolled cigars, Hammerstien changed the cigar industry with some 80 cigar related patents. As an aside Oscar Hammerstein I was the grandfather of Oscar Greeley Clendenning Hammerstein II, of the famous Rogers & Hammerstein duo. 

Not that I needed an excuse, I decided to mark the occasion with a cigar after dinner. Circumstances had precluded enjoying a smoke for the last couple of weeks, so it was a double celebration.  I selected a Southern Draw Kudzu Axil Lancero to enjoy on the warm evening.

The Southern Draw Kudzu Axil Lancero is a 6 1/2 x 40 Lancero with a small pigtail cap and closed foot. The dark brown wrapper is Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro. A Nicaraguan Ometepe binder and Nicaraguan fillers complete the picture. This cigar has been resting in my humidor for five months. 

Upon lighting, a rush of cinnamon and black pepper flashes across my palate. That was not unexpected as I've smoked other Southern Draw Kudzu vitolas in the past, though it was a bit of a shock. As when taking the first sip of a strong whiskey, my taste buds soon acclimated and I settled in for the robust and flavorful smoke. 

As the stick progressed, the spiciness was joined by leather and wood. As the burn moved into the second half of the cigar, a dry oak began to predominate. The spices were also balanced by the addition of a hint of creaminess. The cigar's strength was medium to strong and I concentrated on moderating my smoking speed.

The burn was slow and even, with copious smoke production. After about 75 minutes, I needed to move on to another activity. Disappointingly, I estimated there was probably another 30-40 minutes left on the cigar. I was not expecting to get that long of a smoke. Relunctantly I set the cigar down, telling myself next time I would allow for more smoking time. I do have more of these delicious cigars in my humidor so that's a consolation.


Tuesday, February 27, 2024

The Feast of Saint Gabriel Possenti

Today, February 27, is the Feast Day of St. Gabriel Possenti.

Legend holds that Gabriel Possenti was a Catholic seminarian in Isola del Gran Sasso, Italy. In 1860 he is said to have used his skills with the pistol to drive off a band of marauding soldiers who were terrorizing the town. Possenti faced the troublemakers after grabbing revolvers from two soldiers. As they laughed at the young student, he took aim and accurately shot a lizard that was running across the road. Impressed, the soldiers left the town, escorted by the seminarian, who had become the hero of the town.

Like many Saints, there's an unclear line between the facts of the Saint's life and the tradition associated with him. However, this story about Gabriel Possenti has led to him being promoted as the Patron Saint of Handgunners. The St. Gabriel Possenti Society was created for the purpose of promoting the Saint's cause. The society promoted the study of the historical, philosophical and theological bases for the doctrine of self-defense. Sadly, the founder of the group died in 2017 and it appears the organization is no longer active.

A few years ago, our parish was presented with a relic of St. Gabriel Possenti, under the title St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. It was an exciting moment when I saw the blurb announcing the displayed relic in our weekly bulletin. Since then, I've enjoyed sharing the story of Gabriel Possenti with many parishioners. I dare say most of our Catholic friends who also enjoy the shooting sports are now familiar with the Saint and his story.

In another interesting "coincidence," my Virginia Concealed Handgun permit was originally issued on February 27, the Feast Day of the Patron Saint of Handgunners!

St. Gabriel Possenti ora pro nobis!

Today would be a great day to hit the range. If that's not possible, perhaps I'll buy some extra ammo instead, if I can find any for sale at a reasonable price.


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.