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!  🎉