Google PlusObservations, and commentary from an otherwise unremarkable guy learning about fine cigars. Just doin' it for the yuks, not the bucks.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Leisure Suit for Winter & Room101 Cigars

I haven't had much time lately to leisurely enjoy a good cigar and a movie, good or otherwise. Work has been engaging, and the weather has been frigid. But that's not to say I haven't been able to enjoy a good smoke, because I have. Just not leisurely, because a parka, thermal underwear, and a flappy-eared hat ain't leisure wear.

The local smoke shop has been pretty good about keeping an interesting assortment of cigars on hand. The biggest surprise so far has been the Room101 Cigars 808C (Connecticut wrapper). I've seen several positive #nowsmoking tweets for the brand, so when I saw the 25-count box of 808c (five or six of which had been sold already) a couple weekends ago, it wasn't a big risk to try one. I made it back to the smoke shop this past weekend, and there were only six of those 808C left. Of course I bought 'em.

Besides being a big, fat smoke (6X60), it was as nicely balanced a smoke as I've come across in my brief cigar-smoking adventures. It had a little peppery spice up front, and a rich coffee tone throughout, all without it being too, if at all, sweet. It burned quite well, without noticeable defects. The draw was maybe a touch loose compared to my usual smokes, so I gave it plenty of time between draws to make sure it didn't burn too hot.

Hopefully they'll keep Room101 Cigars in stock, as I will be keeping them stocked in my humble little humidor.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Padron, Panic & Peaty Scotch
Part of the weekly Triple-feature series–a smoke, a drink, and a movie ;)

As the title of the post suggests, Tuesday's triple feature was a Padron Anniversary 1964, the movie Panic starring William H. Macy, and some Auchentoshan Scotch.

Firstly, I have got to mention that I've never before smoked a cigar that has a numbered band. Padron mentions on their website that the double-banding is a counterfeiting prevention. Still, it's impressive.

Before lighting the cigar, I read a review or two to get an idea of what to expect. Of the few different brands and vitolas I've smoked so far, this was one of the more elegant. It had plenty of body, and as other reviewers pointed out, it was consistent from foot to cap, with no significant variations in flavor. If there were any such ebbs and flows in tastes they were subtle, such as the touch of leather that came in the middle of the burn. The nuttiness mentioned by others escaped my notice, but the character of espresso was there evenly from start to finish.

Since the Padron was a particularly fine cigar by reputation, I made a point to not sip too much Auchentoshan too often, figuring the smoke was deserving of my palate's undivided attention. Even still, I realized quickly this Scotch was not a good choice for this cigar. If there had been a prominent spiciness to the smoke, then the peat in the drink would have had something to play off. A bourbon or Irish spirit would have been a better choice. Lesson learned.

As for the movie, it stank. Netflix's description of Panic as a subtle dark comedy led me to believe there would be some humor, dark or otherwise, somewhere, anywhere. Fine actors all, but they were stuck with a predictable and plodding story. Panic only if you're forced to watch it. Thank goodness I had an excellent cigar to keep me company–it carried the night.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Let's Make a Deal, Monty!
Armchair philosophy and bad theology under the influence of cigars 'n whiskey

On New Year's Eve I happened to be smoking a nice cigar (Rocky Patel Edge) outside, where good husbands and house guests go to do such things. It makes for amateur philosophizing when you have company, or reflection when you're alone. I was alone that evening, so I began to play a game of connect-the-dots, mental edition.

When James Burke connects the dots in his elegant way the result is a beautiful mosaic of history and society. When I finish I'm lucky to have a simple stick figure. That night my stick figure was of God, but he looked a lot like Monty Hall from Let's Make A Deal.

First dot: under the stars, I got the sense of standing on a big rock, hurtling through a big ol' universe. Hackneyed. Second dot: are we alone, are we special? Still hackneyed. Third dot: do other creatures have hackneyed thoughts, and question the origin of everything? Fourth dot: No, I don't think so, at least not on this planet. Fifth dot: I wonder if God is like Monty Hall, asking if we want to see what's behind the curtain, or if we want the cash.

Often we take the cash, but we're dying to know what's behind the curtain. Humankind is so inquisitive, and driven to know something just for the sake of knowing it, hence the proliferation of crap-loids at grocery store checkouts. The trait does usually have a payoff in those fields where we combat disease, hunger, and squalor. Even then controversy is never far behind success.

Stem cell research promises miraculous healing, but as whose expense? Genetically modified pest resistant crops provide markets with abundance, yet starvation is still with us. Marvels that one day keep us warm, cook our food, or lighten the workload are the next day adapted to kill people.

Adam and Eve just had to know about good and evil. Just had to. Both of them had been endowed with free will and could choose for themselves, and they chose to know. When caught, he blamed her, she blamed the serpent. Neither would admit the simplest truth that they succumbed to temptation because they just had to know something new. God made us inquisitive to the point of defiance, regardless of whether it's to our lasting benefit. How we fare has to do with what we choose to do with the knowledge gained. Too bad for Abel, and countless millions.

Today physicists hunt for the Higgs boson, the so-called God particle, at the Large Hadron Collider. I didn't buy-in to the catastrophic hype when LHC was fired up, but what exactly does mankind stand to benefit from the billions spent? CNN tries to answer that question, but I think it fails, miserably, unless the achievement, in and of itself, is the benefit. Yay us! We built a bigger thing. It may not still be there, but when I viewed that CNN article, an ad for their Impact Your World series was displayed–a photo of a young impoverished child, captioned WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF EVERYONE CARED?

I don't mean to be critical of LHC, CERN, or the many fine scientists elsewhere doing honest research that will lead to wondrous discoveries, especially those that benefit humankind. To push ourselves to go one foot further, one second faster, to do more and do it better is good and virtuous as long as it's for the betterment of the individual, family, and community. Will finding the Higgs boson somehow end starvation and poverty? I sure hope so. Or will it be expensive, and esoteric?

Here's hoping our searches for knowledge aren't driven solely by reckless ambition and pointless curiosity, and we choose wisely what to do with the result. God makes the offer to show us what's behind the curtain, but we need to remember that sometimes it's a Zonk.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Micky, Dicky, Rocky & Rye
Part of the weekly Triple-feature series–a smoke, a drink, and a movie ;)

The triple feature for this week is a Rocky Patel Vintage 1990, some Wild Turkey Kentucky Rye whiskey, and The Fighter starring Mark Wahlberg, and Christian Bale. You might think it's a coincidence with this movie's title and a cigar maker named Rocky, but I remember seeing a video clip of Rocky Patel explaining how difficult it was to break into the cigar business, and that it's a fight to get the best tobacco leaf. This movie and this cigar were meant to be enjoyed together.

And enjoy the cigar I did. Its mechanics, the construction, draw, and burn appeared to be flawless to my untrained, and unskilled senses. The subtle coffee aroma and flavor I have come to appreciate, and prefer, in a cigar was present in the first two-thirds of the smoke. There weren't any jabs of strong spiciness to distract me, and if I detected any nutty-wood tones, they were there to support the flavor rather than overtake it. After twenty minutes into the cigar I thought this was one of the most pleasing smokes ever. The sweetness of the Wild Turkey complemented the cigar's flavor, and made for a great one-two combination.

The Fighter was a haymaker of nearly every figurative fight in life a person could have. It wasn't a rehash of the Rocky Balboa story transplanted from Philadelphia to Lowell, MA, but there were some similarities--brother Dicky vs. brother-in-law Pauly, and romantic interest moral support. What set it apart was the barrage of personal fights that each of the characters has with their demons, addictions, expectations, self-images, and relatives, just to name a very few. The story does draw you in though, in classic Rocky fashion, and you really want to see Wahlberg's character, Micky Ward, win his fights in and outside the ring. Bale's portrayal of Dicky Eklund as the screw-up brother was as much deserving of best-actor than as best-supporting-actor. See this movie.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Gurkha On The Side

While out shopping today I thought to check in on the local smoke shop to see if there was anything new. I was pleasantly surprised to find the four items pictured: a Perdomo Habano, an OSA SOL from CAO, a Gurkha Seduction, and an AVO Heritage. Who'd of thunk it? Such grand smokes with funny names at an out of the way cigar (and candle) shop–Blue Ridge Tobacco, by the way.

I'm so very tempted to get that OSA SOL and light it up, but I'll exercise a little self-control and give it some time in the humidor. And I'll take a tip from Logan Lawler and leave all today's purchases in cellophane to see what difference that makes.

When someone starts to get a little serious about cigars, it's hard to know what's what, all at once. It's a matter of willingness to experiment and be open to new things whether they look strange, or are strangely named. I never thought I'd like a cigar with a name like Gurkha--it made me think of a kosher dill, something on the side. But now I think otherwise, and don't ya think they have the most kick-ass bands, and box art? Besides a fine smoke, of course.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Trifecta: Cigar, Whiskey, and a Movie
Part of the weekly Triple-feature series–a smoke, a drink, and a movie ;)

I lack a man-cave, and smoking cigars outdoors in the winter is a bummer, at least up in the mountains. I can make myself only so comfortable on the deck. A warm coat helps, but without the creature comforts, the smoke still isn't what it could be.

Thankfully, Netflix got around to making their app available for my Xoom Android tablet, so now I can enjoy a good smoke, a little whiskey, and a movie to boot. Tonight's smoke is an El Baton Robusto from J.C. Newman, the whiskey is Scotch, and the movie is Tucker & Dale vs. Evil.

The El Baton is all-Nicaraguan, and the cigar's profile mentions oak, leathery transitions, and nuttiness, among other things. After the ignition stage, let's say a quarter-inch past the foot, I could taste the nuttiness and the oak. The leathery taste came in the second-third, and remained 'till the end, while the nuttiness and oak petered out about halfway. Tasty through and through.

Now for the movie–it was a stitch. One of the better dark-comedies I've seen lately. In the Appalachian mountains we have plenty of tourists, and part-time residents who assume that when they hear banjo music, it's time to paddle faster. The stereotypes are, most times, unwarranted. Most times. Tucker and Date are two such victims of this social and class prejudice. You might recognize Alan Tudyk, who plays Tucker, from Serenity and most recently ABC's Suburgatory. Tyler Labine plays Dale, who turns out the be the hapless hero. The two pull off the good ol' boy duo as well as any others that have tried.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The French Kiss Method of Cigar Tasting

Last night's smoke was a Rocky Patel Vintage 1992 Toro (tubed), and it was thoroughly enjoyable. The flavor was much different from the Decade variety I usually smoke, as would be expected, but trying to identify those differences was difficult.

Recall the scene in French Kiss when Luc teaches Kate to identify the flavors in the wine. He used an old school project, samples of herbs, roots, and other items that are in the soil and contribute to the character of the vineyards' grapes. Kate smells the lavender, drinks, and then can distinguish its presence in the wine.

I need such a collection of things in a tobacco fields' soil, and other influences that make their way into the leaf. Sadly, I can't afford to travel to Honduras, Nicaragua, and parts unknown, just to collect dirt and wood samples.

One characteristic of a cigar that I've been able to pick up on fairly easily is its spiciness, or lack thereof. The Vintage 1992 didn't seem to have the subtle pepper spice that I found in the Decade, and it had a touch of sweetness that I liked very much. This might be the simplest aspect of cigar tasting, the shallow end of the pool, so to speak.

In the meantime, I'll learn to distinguish more elements of cigars by smoking them, read what other folks think about 'em, and smoke 'em again. Gradually, I'll make my way out to the deep end.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Back to Work, Thankfully

The year-end holidays afforded me time to smoke much more than my usual two or three cigars a week. It's time to go back to work though, and these days with the economic climate being what it is, having a job is a privilege not to be taken for granted. Accordingly, my weekly cigar combustion will return to normal.

I didn't create this blog to dispense cigar wisdom and acumen. Obviously, I have none. I created it so I would have to write, or risk looking like a boob with an empty blog. I needed to develop writing skills, and this seemed to be a simple way to do so. Another reason was to begin associating with other folks, via their tweets and blogs, who liked cigars, and to learn something of the cigar culture.

After reading various tweets and blogs I had feelings, ever so slight mind you, of inadequacy. The brands, the variety, the frequency! I see variety in cigar selection is a must, despite being a creature of habit. When I find something I like, I stick with it. Even so, I will endeavor to overcome this trait insofar as it relates to cigars.

Because the UPS guy can find my house out in the middle of nowhere, mail ordering (while it's still legal) cigars to get the certain brands not carried locally is a great option.

Wishing y'all the best in 2012.