Thursday, May 30, 2024

Your Bourbon Has Been "Discarded"

I was excited for the bottle of a newly released bourbon to arrive in time for the weekend. But alas.

Is this the UPS version of a "Thank you" card?

The shipper was very responsive and issued an immediate refund of the charge. I am now taking my chance on a reorder.


Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Almond Old Fashioned and Perdomo 20th Anniversary Connecticut

After the enjoyable Perdomo the previous day, I was reminded of the Perdomo 20th Anniversary Connecticut that's been in my humidor since August 2019. I decided it was high time to smoke it. To complete the pairing I mixed up a couple Almond Old Fashioned cocktails to enjoy for our "traditional" Sunday Cocktails on the Deck.

Almond Old Fashioned
  • 2 oz. Bourbon
  • 1 oz. Amaretto
  • 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
Mix the ingredients over a large ice rock. 
Express an orange peel over the top and add as a garnish.

The cocktail is sweet but at the same time has a balanced bitterness. I used Laws Four Grain Bourbon which I think adds a touch of sweet citrus to the mix. 

The Perdomo 20th Anniversary Connecticut Epicure is a 6" x 56 Toro. It boasts an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper which was aged for eight years and then spent another eight months aging in bourbon barrels. The binder and fillers hail from Nicaragua.

Despite nearly five years of life in the humidor and jostling from adding and removing cigars, the Perdomo stick was in excellent shape. It was still quite pliable and undamaged. The medium-bodied smoke is buttery, with sweet honey and citrus notes. There's a mild cedar spice in the background throughout the smoke. The cigar burned evenly and without issue. When I came back to it after being inside to mix another round of cocktails the cigar was still fully lit and required no touchups at any point.

The Almond Old Fashioned and Perdomo 20th Anniversary Connecticut cigar each complicated the other quite well.


Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Vixen Red Ale and Perdomo Reserve 10th Anniversary Sun Grown

I spent Saturday morning finally getting around to potting up some plants for the deck that had been waiting for my attention for a while. Afterwards, it was time to sit and enjoy the plants and the warm sun. A Perdomo Reserve 10th Anniversary Sun Grown, a local Red Ale, and a "book" was the order of the Memorial weekend Saturday afternoon.

The Old Bust Head Vixen Irish Style Red Ale is a very nice ale, rich in malt with a hint of hop bitterness. It's one I seek out when shopping for Irish Ales in the Spring. This lone bottle was found in the back of the refrigerator, left since last year. It was still in fine condition.

The Perdomo Reserve 10th Anniversary Sun Grown in the 5 x 54 Robusto proved a most satisfying accompaniment. The cigar spent just four weeks resting in my humidor but the smoke was near flawless. The cigar features a milk chocolate colored Nicaraguan Sun Grown wrapper over Nicaraguan binders and fillers. This wrapper leaves were aged for 6 years, followed by an additional 10 months aging in used bourbon barrels. 

The 10th Anniversary Sun Grown is a medium to full bodied cigar. Starting off with sweet caramel and cedar, the smoke is thick and full. As it progresses, caramel, molasses, and coffee join the mix. The spice morphs to a light black pepper. This is a very flavorful smoke. My only disappointment being that it's been so long since I've picked up a supply to have on hand.

I generally prefer to use the Kindle for reading when smoking. It's easy to manage with one hand, and any ashes dropped on the screen can be easily blown off. Sitting on the deck, reading with a good beer and cigar was a most enjoyable way to pass the time. 


Monday, May 27, 2024

Memorial Day

As we begin the unofficial start of Summer, it is necessary to take a moment to pray for those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms. We may choose to celebrate the holiday with food, drink, fun and friends, but must do so remembering the reason behind it. Without the sacrifice of our fallen heroes this great country, and indeed the world, would be a much different and lesser place.

It is those sacrifices that helped to preserve the freedoms we value and enjoy today. As we pause to remember our lost heroes, may we also vow to be steadfast in our opposition of those who wish to destroy that which has been so hard won.

"No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." -- John 15:13

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Woodford Reserve Double Oak With My Father El Centurion H-2K-CT

It's been a busy week around the house, filled with contractors doing work, interspersed by medical appointments, and other necessary business. I was looking forward to some down time with much anticipation. There's been a bottle of Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon sitting on my shelf since a friend gifted it to me at Christmas. It was high time to open it. I selected an El Centurion  H-2K-CT by My Father Cigars to enjoy with the smooth Double Oaked.

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked is one of those libations that I like to keep around. It's a great bourbon to serve to both the new bourbon drinker and the experienced aficionado. I don't believe I've run across someone who does not enjoy it. 

The nose has a pleasing sweet aspect of vanilla and corn. As expected moderate oakiness is present. Sipping coats the palate with rich impressions of sweet vanilla, caramel, oak, and dark fruit. The flavors are robust but not harsh or overwhelming. There's a mild heat of pepper in the finish to top off the enjoyment. There's a reason Woodford Reserve Double Oaked is a staple of many home and restaurant selections. The price tag isn't bad either.

My Father El Centurion H-2K-CT  is a cigar I've paired with success to a variety of libations in the past -- bourbon, stout, wine. The 6 x 52 Toro has a rounded box-press shape with an oily, caramel colored H-2K-CT Connecticut wrapper. The H-2K-CT leaf is Cuban-seed strain of tobacco grown in open sunlight and cultivated in the Connecticut River Valley. The binder and fillers are Nicaraguan. 

This cigar has been resting in my humidor for about 10 months now. The medium bodied smoke comes across as creamy, with a mild pepper warmth. The flavor profile is complex, with vanilla, nuts, caramel, roasted coffee, and dark fruit note detected. The cigar is consistent from start to finish with no transitions over the 90 minute smoking time.

I enjoyed the time spent on the deck with the drink and cigar. The down time was used to reflect on a too long list of friends who have coincidently all passed in the past two months. In addition, this was the kickoff of the Memorial Day holiday weekend. It was time to pause and give thanks to all of those who gave their lives defending the liberty that allows me to sit and enjoy some of my favorite pastimes in safety and freedom. May we never forget their sacrifices, or allow them to have been in vain.


Sunday, May 19, 2024

Liga Privada H99 - An Early Retirement Gift to Myself

With retirement just a couple weeks away, I was looking to treat myself to an early retirement splurge. Hogsheads Cigar lounge held a Drew Estate event last Friday evening, which provided the perfect opportunity to indulge myself. 

The evening featured most, if not all, of the extensive Drew Estate lineup, but the "main event" was showcasing the new Liga Privada H99. Along with the regular vitolas the line cigar, the event-only Corona Doble was available for sale as well. I had decided prior to arriving I was going to treat myself to a box of 24.

The purchase of this special box qualified me for slew of H99-themed swag to go along with it. A glass ashtray, Xikar cutter, keychain, a cigar rest, and a selection of free cigars, were all added to my bag. The hardware will be added to my shelf of other themed cigar accoutrements to make appearances as demanded.

I spent the evening at the lounge enjoying fun conversation and smoking a couple other Drew Estate cigars. I didn't win ay of the raffles of the evening, but I had my prize. I'll let the H99 cigars rest in my humidor for as long as I can resist. I am looking forward to enjoying it soon though -- and I'll have plenty of time to do that. 


Friday, May 17, 2024

Coffee Break: Undercrown Maduro

This coffee break supported by the Liga Privada Undercrown Maduro from Drew Estate. The temperature was in the mid-60° range -- not cool, but warm enough to not require any supplemental heat. I think I can finally bring in the portable heat sources until the fall.

The Liga Privada Undercrown Maduro from Drew Estate is one that I smoke frequently and that has been mentioned often in these Musings. The 5" x 54 Robusto has been resting in my humdor since February. It combines a Mexican San Andrés Maduro wrapper, a Habano Connecticut binder, with Brazil Mata Fina and Nicaraguan Habano fillers. The medium-bodied smoke has rich espresso and cocoa sweetness. Some dark fruit and bitterness is also in the mix.

This is a cigar I like to keep on hand. ("Siri, remind me to pick up more Undercrown Maduro.") I almost universally enjoy it with a bourbon or a dark beer. I don't recall that I've paired it with coffee, though it seems likely I would have at some point. The dark espresso notes in the cigar contrasted with the comparatively lighter notes of the rich, black coffee. The combo was enjoyable and I poured a second cup to enjoy.

We've been under an extended period of dark and rainy days of late. As I wrapped up my smoke, though it would be setting soon, the sun finally came out from behind the clouds. It was a morning dawn -- at the end of the day. 


Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Coffee Break: Muestra de Saka #NLMTHA

Another tease of Spring weather meant coffee and a cigar on the deck. I was in the mood for a lancero, a desire that often arises when I'm looking for an afternoon smoke, usually with coffee. As with this day, those situations often include some acoustic blues coming from the outdoor speaker.

The cigar of choice was the Muestra de Saka #NLMTHA from Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust. The cigar was part of a Lancero Sampler I purchased last August from Luxury Cigar Club. (I have no connection with LCC other than being a satisfied member.)

The Muestra de Saka #NLMTHA is a 7 x 38 stick consisting of all Nicaraguan tobaccos. That's as detailed as the information goes. The wrapper is an attractive dark brown and the cap has a small pigtail. As the story goes, Steve Saka was regularly hounded by fans to create a lancero vitola, a size he apparently disdains. When he ceded to those requests, he stated his feelings with the hashtag name, which stands for "now leave me the hell alone." 

A quick hit with the lighter and the cigar is easily lit and a thick cloud of smoke fills the air. The first impressions are of roasted nuts and dark coffee. As the cigar warms up, cedar and pepper spices join the mix, though the spices don't drown out the coffee aspect. There's a bread and oak base that comes through as well. As the cigar progresses, the dark coffee shifts to the bitter espresso side of the spectrum. 

The Muestra de Saka #NLMTHA provided a 70 minute accompaniment to the coffee and music. Despite the intermittent cloud cover cooling the air occasionally, it was an extremely pleasant repast on a Sunday afternoon.


Monday, May 13, 2024

Hidden Humidor Treasure: 2018 Fratello DMV Virginia

I decided to dig deep in the humidor for something to smoke on a recent evening. Pulling out the bottom tray where I had put cigars "for later" led me to a Fratello DMV Virginia. I have just two left from the original 2018 release, and looked forward to seeing how the cigar had aged.

This Fratello DMV Virginia features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, with an Ecuadorian binder. The fillers are a mix from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and the USA. I've always enjoyed Fratello cigars, but the original DMV releases are some of my favorites. 

The Virginia vitola is a 5 1/2  x 52 Robusto. After more than five years in the humidor, the cigar still has an oily sheen and the chocolate brown wrapper is in perfect condition.

I first smoked the DMV Virginia during a release party at my local lounge, where I had the pleasure of meeting Fratello owner Omar de Frias. My notes on the cigar from that evening included tasting a strong spice and roasted note, as well as an oily sensation on my lips. As I've smoked more over the years, I've noticed the flavors have mellowed very little, but have come together in a balanced profile. I still get roasted coffee, leather, cedar, and bit of pepper. 

The vintage Fratello DMV Virginia burned evenly, producing copious flavorful smoke. I truly enjoyed it and look forward to, slowly, going through the remaining sticks of the series that I have tucked away.


Saturday, May 11, 2024

Blanco Liga Exclusiva de Familia Connecticut Robusto

Many folks assume a dark wrapper means a cigar is strong and full bodied. The assumption is often incorrect. Admittedly, I am guilty of an opposite assumption, that all lighter colored cigars are mild and boring. It's true that Connecticut wrapper cigars can disappoint me, but that's not a universal truth. For one such case, meet the Blanco Liga Exclusiva de Familia Connecticut Robusto.

Blanco Cigars, made at the Plancencia factory in Nicaragua, have a reputation for being strong smokes. Some even come with a warning. This Blanco cigar was part of the February Luxury Cigar Club Core shipment. When I saw the cigar, I was at first taken aback. I am signed up for the Medium-Full package, and here's this Connecticut Shade wrapper. Then I saw the Blanco label, and was optimistic. 

Blanco Liga Exclusiva de Familia Connecticut Robusto features a Honduran grown Connecticut Shade wrapper, with Nicaragua binder and filler. The smooth shiny wrapper and colorful band combine for a very attractive cigar. Upon light up, I got an immediate hit of black pepper. It was predominant but not overpowering. Quickly that was joined by sweet cream and woodsy notes. The balance of sweet and spice continued throughout the smoke.

Due to some temporary alcohol restrictions imposed by prescription pharmaceuticals,  I enjoyed the cigar with a lightly flavored carbonated water. That was actually the perfect accompaniment. Despite the full bodied nature of the cigar, a bourbon may have muted the flavors too much. Perhaps a cappuccino would have been a nice pairing.

In summary, don't judge a book, or cigar, by its cover. You might miss out.


Friday, May 10, 2024

Toscano Antico and Espresso

I enjoyed a fun "Italian" dessert after dinner this week. I had the urge to enjoy one of the Toscano cigars I brought back from Italy last fall. An espresso seemed fitting to go along.

The Toscano Antica is a 6 x 38 cheroot slim panatela with a very rustic appearance. The cigars are dry rolled and do not require storage in a humidor. The wrapper is fired cured Kentucky tobacco and the filler is blend of USA and Italian tobaccos. There is no binder leaf. This is the classic Clint Eastwood Western movie cigar.

The Toscano Antica has a strong wood fire aroma even before lighting. The flavors when smoking bring to mind smoky BBQ with some sweetness added in. Despite the rough, dry appearance the burn has no issues and gave about a 40 minute smoke. That was plenty of time for a couple of double espressos.

I do enjoy these cigars on occasion. Fortunately Tuscano packages them for export and they can be had, rather inexpensively, from many online retailers.


Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Sagradi Lilith With My Morning Coffee

I enjoy coffee with a cigar fairly regularly. It's usually as part of an afternoon pick me up. Although often craved, having the time to linger in the morning is an infrequent pleasure. (Though that schedule restriction will soon be a thing of the past.) 

This past weekend, on a cool morning, I had the pleasure of a leisurely smoke with my mug(s) of hot coffee. The Sagrado Lilith Petit Corona was my choice for this repast.

The roughly rolled 5 x 43 stick features a light brown Ecuadorian wrapper, with Dominican binder and filler tobaccos. The cigar was part of the December 2023 Luxury Cigar Club shipment. It's been resting for about five months, while I awaited a fitting coffee moment. The medium bodied smoke has balanced notes of black pepper and cinnamon, along with a hay and floral presence.

I've lamented in the past that finding cigars that are well-suited to pairing with black coffee, for me, has been a challenge. It seems from recent experience, that the secret is found in cigars featuring Dominican tobaccos. True or just recency effect, the Salgado Lilith was a truly enjoyable accompaniment for the morning caffeine dose.


Saturday, May 4, 2024

Cigar Lounge - Rinse and Repeat

Another Friday evening and I opted once again to have a cigar at the brewery cigar lounge. Though I have beer, cigars, and even whiskey at home, the change of pace and chance to chat with other beer and cigar fans prompted my visit.

Coincidently there was a Civil War reenactment event taking place this weekend at the brewery. There was a large and growing crowd of "blue and gray" participants milling about. The main events were to take place on Saturday and Sunday, but the reenactors were camping for the weekend. Many drank their beer from their tin cups, and I saw some even resorting to matches (outdoors!) to light cigars and pipes. Most were not to bound to avoiding those anachronisms.

I broke from my usual cigar-friendly porters and stouts to enjoy the 1781 Brewing Boogie Water Pale Ale. The 5.5% ABV ale has a juicy citrus profile that is both flavorful and refreshing. As I recall the brewery releases it each Spring, but I  have never tried it. I did rather enjoy it.

I grabbed what's becoming a somewhat regular cigar for me when I visit the Olde Towne Tobacconist brewery lounge, the Veritas 412. I have some of these at home as well, but still gravitate to them when walking the humidor.

Maybe it's the dark Pennsylvania Maduro wrapper I see. Perhaps the San Andrés binder and Nicaraguan Double Ligero and Pennsylvania fillers that attracts. Whatever the reason, the full flavored smoke with semi-sweet chocolate, black pepper, and roasted nuts is a favorite.

As the sun set, I moved inside where the wood stove had been lit. I was feeling relaxed and enjoying conversation. The pleasant setting mandated a refill of my mug and another cigar. I lit up a Micallef A to carry me into the late evening. This is a "brick and mortar" only cigar, the company opting to cease selling via mail order houses. I hadn't had one for some four years. No pictures were taken so I'll save that tale for another day.


Wednesday, May 1, 2024

ODG 114 and Black Label Novemdiales

I remarked on Instagram that just making it to Tuesday can be cause for celebration. It was hyperbole, but I did feel the need to sit and relax after a day of work frustrations. 

Before I even opened my humidor, I had the Black Label Trading Company Bishops Blend Novemdiales in mind to smoke. I still have a few resting since last October and figured they might be hitting their prime. I've mentioned previously that the annual Bishops Blend releases are among my favorite smokes, and this variation from 2023 is especially enjoyable. The Pennsylvania broadleaf wrapper, Ecuadorian habano binder, and a complex filler of tobaccos from Nicaragua, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut provide a flavorful smoke from the 5 x 50 Robusto.

The densely packed cigar burned well and provided a full bodied smoking experience. Rich, dark fruit, boosted with bitter espresso were the predominate flavors. There are also strong cedar and pepper spices adding to the excitement.

Pairing the cigar with the Old Grand-Dad 114 seemed to me an obvious choice. The 114 proof bourbon has a high rye mash bill providing a spicy noted in both the aroma and palate. Upon sipping I get a copious brown sugar and caramel sweetness, along with bold rye and cinnamon spices. The 114 proof provides warmth and a long finish.

As predicted, the pairing was perfect. The evening spent on the porch, with warm temperatures and a mild breeze was a fitting finish to the day. I'll plan more of these.