Deep in flavor. Deep in your mind.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Radio Herf 02282016



Apologies for some poor audio. I did what I could.

Nevertheless, it's 99.9% hearable and 100% good conversation. Very political.
Also we discussed box-pressed cigars, covered foot offerings, and toasting said foot.

I also really would like a Vespa.
Also, also, Anthony is a MONSTER BEAST.
And back to me: I ain't handy.

We all play the "Boutique Game."
I review Mike's nub holder.
Darryl likes my jokey jokes.

Good show! Thanks, gentlepersons, for yer eyes and ears!

Isabela True Cuban-sized Corona - Cigar Review

PROLOGUE
The Academy Awards are tonight! Feel free, gentlepersons, to watch along with my picks and to too smoke along with my pairings. The glitz! The glamour! The wow!

THE CIGAR(!)
Isabela Cigar Company
True Cuban-sized Corona
5 1/2 x 42 Corona
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut DesFlorada
Binder: Nicaragua Tiempo
Filler: Nicaraguan

I also featured this cigar on a Sabbath Smoker installment.
Sample courtesy of Johnny Piette, Brand Owner.
PRE-LIGHT
Complexion is even throughout and straight up CT. Seams are shy of tight, yet even. Veins are scarce but noticeable -- still, I see no potentiality for burn issues. There's a stem/stick running with the length of the shaft in most of the 2/3, which I'll keep my eye on. It bulges a bit menacingly. Bit of a runner threat, mayhap. Some greenish-hue under-tone peaks and peeks up to the top and over-top it all is a nice bit of light and lively oils. Triple cap is well done without a tick outta place. Foot tobacco shows a couple close shades of auburn coloring and an even packing to a medium+ density. While looking closely, I notice the top-leaf doesn't quite stretch to cover the binder at the foot. Hair's whisper of a breath, and not all around.

I mentioned the cap in my Sabbath Smoker I linked above, but too shall mention it here. It is not infused or flavored, per se. It is assembled via one of several traditional Cuban methods -- the one which employs a sugar glue. This is not any more akin to a Swisher Sweet than I am to Oprah Winfrey.

Hand-feel is perfectly balanced and should be, given its format. There is a bit of suede feel to it. The oils as mentioned previously, transfer only very thinly to the hand. Charmin squeeze test results are a medium+ firmness and evenly so throughout. The stem-thing in the 2/3 is an impediment. Schnoz notes are a sweetened nuttiness along the shaft with a sunny hay undertone. At the foot, some light but warm spices are added and some fresh peppers.

As if my biting off of caps weren't sacrilege 'nuff, I for whatever reason opt to pinch this one off with my thumbnail. Draw resistance on the cold pull is medium+ and right in my wheelhouse. I get hard caramel notes braced against spiciness. I wouldn't say "exotic," but it ain't 'white bread,' neither. Lots of nutty notes around the middling. Big middle on the cold draw. The nuts get everywhere. This fella is wearing boxers, not briefs. They're in the sweet and the spicy -- and quite different in each. Hard to find a backing note, but my money is on a tobacco with inherent sweetness, as that's what was the story of my first Isabela of this format.

LIGHT
1:40pm
I not long ago realized that there's a school of thought which deems toasting the foot unnecessary. However, there also exists the Flat Earth Society. Notes upon toasting the foot include nuts sweetened via hard caramel and a lively pepper that almost acts as a liquid on my nose. First hot pull is produce department green grocer style peppers that trail off into the finish in their own juices. Jalapeno, habanero, something that makes me see yellow -- but not Belle. All this is balanced by a healthy dose of pale flesh'd nuts, delivered sweetly on the caramel. The nuttiness, too, goes into the peppers and tastes a bit Far East, but cooked by a round-eye. All this is on a quite creamy mouth-feel. Medium body at least, and fresh out the gate. Still, there is an effervescence which keeps it lively if not light. Dayum.

Second hottie is retro-haled to plenty of peppery juices that drop sweetly to the pre-cushioned palate. Very crisp. Finish builds to a medium+ length and is supremely balanced of sweet & spicy. A candied tingle fills my smoke-hole and dances there.

Ash is 70/30 salt/pepper on a loosely assembled sheath. burn is dead-even on a thin+ line. Packaging softens a half inch ahead of burn. Draw has loosened but remains in the medium+ range. Foot-smoke is medium. Draw offers much of the stuff, and out-put is heavy white clouds, but a medium amount of them. Profile is a low-end medium+ and I'm guessing at an up-tick shortly. Strength is a light+ for now.
ACT I
Flavors dance, but not the Jitterbug. Nothing frenetic, a joyous smooth twirling, perhaps. The middling is a tobacco core and a big 'un. There are some suede if not leather characteristics there. Sweetness via caramel and cream. Peppers... actually, it's all there. There is no backing. It's all a pulsating swirling of sweet and spicy from that tobacco center. Interesting. It's delivers its notes in the same fashion of a Nat Sherman 1930, but Nat is a conservative gentleman. This Isabela fella is a nut! A lampshade on his head kinda guy. Hawaiian shirts... the whole megillah.

In the Nat Sherman go, I divied up into red and green notes. I can't divide here -- transitions are to quick and beyond that, layered. Let me explain as the second act loometh nigh. Firstly: no new notes have come, and none have gone. OK. There are small transitions every couple/few pulls when a swirling off of spice leaps higher than sweet, and vice-versa. Also, and less often, it's first happening now -- the direction of the swirling dance twirls in the opposite way entirely.

I feel as though this is either the best, or worst, cigar review ever. 

In no particular order, because there ain't none, there are notes of fresh green, red, and yellow peppers and their juices, hard caramel, pale nuts, and a suede to leather note. A short menu, yes -- but infinitely blended with one another on a tobacco canvas (that is a 3D spinning orb).

Packaging has re-firmed a tick and is almost wearing its original face. Draw holds. Burn holds. Very, very well constructed. 

ACT II
I roll off the entire opening act's ash. I usually don't grow ash, but was distracted. The ash is less dense than I anticipated and breaks readily into a fine dry talc. Strength is up to a medium-. Profile is a medium+. A deeper tingle sets in warmly and keeps the creamy mouth from being heavy. Flavors are tremendously hard to keep up with, but you get the gist. No change there -- just constantly changing there. Sometimes I get a vanilla extract hint. Sometimes a citrus rind. Vibes o' that, mainly.

Ash is 95/5 salt/pepper with a firmer sheath than prior. Now at mid-point, the twirling motion seems to slow. A slight sweet grassy note is underneath the pepper juices on a retro-hale. I purge and sit the Isabela in my $0.99 Walmart black plastic tray. Re-address the schmatta in my lap. Foot-smoke is greater now by a tick or two. Sharp, lively, light tobacco with a sweet lilt on the room-note. It's simplicity belies the draw's cuckoo complexity. Two minutes, I wait. The thing died down not a quarter of a darn tick. It's all ready to fill my smoke-hole. The tobacco core still spins, but slowly. Bits of blended flavor notes still spin off it at random, but stay closer to home. Its become a somewhat contemplative but not solemn smoke. Burn slows.

All notes to flavor and construction hold true.

ACT III
Gentlepersons, we have dimensions.
At least in a more familiar than previous manner.

The core of tobacco nuttiness eats up the middling. Leather drops to backing. Peppers lead caramel by a length in the primary. Citrus weaves through each layer as a lemon zest. Vanilla extract adheres to cream in ebbs and flows. Where is the cream? Sorta everywhere and nowhere. Kinda looming to the side and on the mouth-feel. Perfect moisture level there. Finish shortens its legs to a crisp medium of citrus infused fresh peppers and roasted pale nuts -- think Richie Cunningham in thermal underwear.

Draw gets a bit damp, but a purging corrects it. Smoke hastens its pace and smoke out-put ramps upward. As the band approaches, we go back to a tobacco core middling which sucks all back into it. It rotates, but no flavors spike from it. Its all there, inherent and sorta aglow. For all it's dazzling array, I feel it is quite the classic cigar, this Isabela offering. Dandies and showmen are as old as time, ya know.

Final third was medium+ in terms of body, flavor, and strength. But lively and kindly so. Sour notes of citrus rind and zetz of zest infused the peppers to the point of sour. Refreshingly so. Sweetness ebbed. Ending was clean and effervescent. Cool to the nub and toothpick.
NOTES
I swears it never fails. I edit together one a these, and the next offering is another.
This was heck to write, this review. I hope I did justice to the experience.

PAIRINGS
Don't. Just don't, gentlepersons. You won't wanna, anyways.

FINAL GRADE
****A-****

LESS SCHTICK MORE STICK
Letter grades are graded on a scale of K A P L O W I T Z.
K being the least, Z the greatest
Appearance I
Construction I
Combustion T
Flavors/Body I
Strength W

EPILOGUE
3pm
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a Radio Herf to plan and do, and a very particular Three Stooges short to watch. 1934's Men in Black -- their only Academy Award nominated turn. You should go watch it too. They're all up on the YouTube.

As always and ever, gentlepersons, thanks for your attention and time.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

88th Academy Awards Picks & Cigar Pairings

"The human animal differs from the lesser primates in his passion for lists." - H. Allen Smith

"This is a terrible mistake, because I used up all of my English."
- Roberto Benigni, after winning his second Oscar of the night for Life is Beautiful, 1999

Ah, the red carpet. Ah, all the movies I have not seen. Via a quick bit of research measured in minutes not hours, I have meticulously and quasi-professionally predicted the winners of all major categories. Too, and most importantly, I have paired said (projected) winning actors/projects with offerings I feel compliment their inherent qualities. I have not delved into my reasons, but rest assured, I gots dem. Can ya guess dem?

Well, let's get to it gentlepersons.
Are you ready for your close-up?
WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)
Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; Inside Out

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)
Drew Goddard, The Martian

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Son of Saul

ANIMATED FEATURE
Inside Out
See: WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)
DIRECTING
Ridley Scott, The Revenant

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Sylvester Stallone, Creed

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Cate Blanchet, Carol

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

BEST PICTURE
Spotlight
Asylum 13 Authentic Corojo

I shall like it duly noted that I tried to offer up many a Maduro to the vastly Connecticut Shade cavalcade of stars. 

Congratulations to all the winners.

Sabbath Smoker 02.26.16 - Isabela True Cuban-sized Corona


THE CIGAR
Isabela Cigar Company
True Cuban-sized Corona
5 1/2 x 42 Corona
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut (Des Florada)
Binder: Nicaragua Tiempo
Filler: Nicaraguan

THE TALK
  • Traditional barbering
  • Oy, my aching body
  • More... (I forget)
As always and ever, thank you gentlepersons, for the ears and the eyes.
Shabbat Shalom, Gut Shabbos, and happy Saturday!

Friday, February 26, 2016

A Review of Recent Grade A Cigar Offerings

"You're simply the best.
Better than all the rest.
Better than anyone --
Anyone I've ever met." 
- Tina Turner, The Best

The end of February is pretty darn close to the beginning of February, at least as compared to other months. That said, I still smoked a good buncha A Grades. Here they be.

A's
Black Works Studio (BLK WKS) NBK
Caldwell Cigar Co. The King is Dead
My Father Le Bijou 1922

HONORABLE MENTION
Xikar Xi2 Cutter

WHERE TO BUY
www.CigarsCity.com carries some a dem.
Ask yer local B&M.
Each review links to the company site, where there is typically more info.

As always, thanks for reading, gentlepersons. Your attention is greatly appreciated.

My Father Le Bijou 1922 - Cigar Review

PROLOGUE
"A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof, trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn't easy. You may ask, why do we stay up there if it's so dangerous? We stay because Anatevka is our home... And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word... Tradition." - Tevye, Fiddler on the Roof
Tradition. On my birthday for a good couple of 'em now, I've smoked the Cigar Aficionado's #1 stick of that year. I was excited by the Bijou taking this year's honor, because I'm -- as many of ya know -- a huge My Father fan. It's gonna be a good year, mayhap.

I must say this, gentlepersons, before we begin: I purchased this stick over a week prior to smoking. When I brung it home, I took it out of its condom prior to placing it in its new home. I always inspect and sniff as part of this process. Piss. Ammonia, more proper and apologies for my previous French. I had had issues with burns in previous My Father endeavors (La Antiguedad) which I later found could well have been attributed to a rush to market. Ammonia to me, means rush to market. However, in the week since, that scent has left. Although to be honest, I'd recommend another month.

But tradition. 
& Now --

THE CIGAR
My Father Cigars
Le Bijou 1922 
6 1/8 x 52 torpedo box-press
Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro (Pelo De Oro) wrapper
Nicaraguan binder & filler
PRE-LIGHT
Decadent. And I don't simply mean the typical gaudy beauty of a My Father band -- not its secondary. Nor, even, the foot ribbon which I cannot believe -- was stolen from a Crowned Heads Tennessee Waltz. Tsk-tsk and nevertheless, the thing itself is decadent. Fudge brownie brown even complected with an under-hue of more Death by Chocolate. Glistening sheen placed evenly over-top. Minimal veins with no hand or burn impediment. Tight tight even seams. Beautifully crafted cap. Foot tobacco is a sinful every color of chocolate. I feel at risk of getting a pimple or two in my T-Zone. Packing is medium+ at least at the foot. Decadent.

Hand-feel is very balanced. Smooth but not sleek. Oily but not damp. Charmin squeeze test rated a goodly medium with great springiness. It might feel a tad light, but then again, that might be its fantastic balance. Schnoz notes are densely rich cocoa and mildly spiced earthy tobacco along the shaft, with a slight pepper zetz added at the foot.

Very dense resistance at the snipping. The cold draw, however, is a silky medium+. Earth, chocolate, black pepper. Spice components end in a sweetly laced cold finish. Wow. I barely wanna light the thing. Can I just cold pull till my next 39th birthday?

LIGHT
7pm
Ya know what? Suddenly I wanna light, and I wanna light now. A couple wooden matches into toasting the dense foot, and I opt for the ol' Djeep. Very black pepper foot-toasting. Barely metaphorical. Black pepper proper, or as proper as a metaphor might get. Hints of deep complex earth sweetnesses.

First hot pull is like biting into a dark yet sinfully sweet brownie. When that subsides, its under-note of pepper rears up in its absence to drop a slight tingle to my palate then tongue. Very oily. Flirting with Chewy like a drunk Han Solo. A muscular earth backing carries these quite high notes easily. There are sweet spices in that earth. They find their way straight to the finish. Medium legs, there -- and a hint of returning chocolate. Second hot one is a retro-hale of very finely ground and smoothly delivered black pepper. It dries the palate a bit and makes the chocolate a bit more fleeting than I'd like, but too cleanses well and showcases the more complex earth and its dark sweet-spices. Third hottie is all aboard and silky smoov. -Full body and medium+ flavors as listed. Strength-o-meter ain't budged.

There's not a lot of resting smoke out-put. But when you get it humming, the clouds are dense white sweet room-notes of chocolate and Mexican candy. Burn is mainly even on a thin+ line, and ash is 90/10 salt/pepper of narrow dense ladder-rungs. Mouth-feel is chewy and sweet, but too kept in tingly check.
ACT I
How many times can I say the words decadent, smooth, dense? We'll find out shortly, gentlepersons. Dare I gripe with the Cigar Aficionado's numero uno? It's the somewhat greedy gripe that I'd like a more immediate filling of my smoke-hole, thank you. Consider it a birthday wish.

Chocolate has died back some, and pepper has went closer to the sweetly spiced earth. Burn is a tick wonky and I retouch some top-leaf that seems to not wish burnt. No deduction here -- I can still find the fault in my light. All is corrected.

Quite a dose of woods now. Very creamy. Black pepper lays very low, glancing along the earthen floor. Chocolate is less direct, but drives the sweetness. Not full on a chewy mouth, but very dense and holds long, the flavors for a leggy finish as already described. Burn strays a tick and I roll off 3/4" of ash to inspect. Ash  is less dense than I would have guessed, and a bit of rough talc. Still noticeably light foot-smoke.

Primaries are creamy woods and smooth rich tobacco. Secondary notes are chocolate and pepper. Earth backs with its sweet spices. The notes are flying so low and smooth, though, there isn't a far cry between top and bottom. Spices occasionally spring all the way to the primary and when they do, are less sweet and more warm. Still smooth.

ACT II
A savory leather note comes in at the opening of the second act. It floods the middlings. Smoke out-put soars and even the resting smoke ups three ticks. Sophisticated, yes -- but thus far not overly complex. There are nuances in the earth and creamy woods, but not enough as of yet to build complexity. Ash flakes a tad, but holds well and is cosmetically unchanged otherwise.

Spices go to the savory note which is now meatier. Leather seems to bind them there in the middling and it's almost its own experience there. Up-top there is creamy wood. Underneath earth gets a tobacco addition to its sweet spices. It's almost like three different offerings, really -- save that the driving sweetness throughout remains the chocolate note.

OK. There are complexities, but from differing sources... a sort of cross pollination, if ya will. Spicy tingle tingle ups a tick and raises with it, black pepper. This ties the profile together with a second cord and whole other dimension. Draw retains its brilliantly lush smoothness. Profile is a medium+ and strength is light.

Burn-line wavers but corrects albeit slowly. Ash is unchanged and solid. Packaging holds beyond well. I do have to Djeep a bit of unburnt top-leaf. Smoke stays creamy and white. Very pleasing to the eye and unassuming to the nose. Spicy clean finish. Mouth-feel is oily and body is creamy to a medium+ level. All is very chillaxed. A slow smoker with an even-keeled and well-trained profile. A great contemplative stick for my 39th trip around the sun.

You know what? This My Father Le Bijou: it's Darth Vader. Not Anakin Skywalker. Every thrust and movement is accurate and meaningful. Not erratic and vengeful. I'd still like a greater filling of my smoke-hole. I'd say it's more of a combustion than construction issue. As the draw is very fine. The occasional pulling away of top-leaf from burn; that is construction. Package soften but shape holds, as we approach the final act.

Woods soften a bit. Spices subdue. Leather somewhat stiffens and dries the palate a tick. Tobacco/earth backing is sinking lower and the notes appear higher even in their somewhat weakened state. It's almost like the leather is a net, holding them off the ground. Black pepper is so fine a talc, it almost acts as a liquid on the mouth-feel, balancing out the dryness. Chocolate has been hidden for some small amount of time. Far less sinful now, but I'll be able to fit into my swimsuit, if I lay off the sweets. What drives the sweetness? Not sure, but it drives it slower. Perhaps the creamy woodiness.

ACT III
Some of that talc consistency black pepper gets in the throat a bit, but nothing egregious. Strength ups to a -medium. Profile holds but thins. Pace quickens. Still very smooth in delivery and in what is delivered. savory notes subside. Tobacco soars low on long spicy wings. It bothers me that the spices are never fully distinguishable beyond sweet and spicy. Occasional chili powders and waxy red belle peppers perhaps, but always only in vibe-form.

Leather seems to thin, and of all the subduing flavors I miss that almost the most. I'd kill for another morsel of brownie. Some thin almost liquid spice gets under my tongue, not my personal preference, but not unkind.

As the band approaches the remaining notes are delivered in a linear sort of way. Brilliant, but simple. Completely enjoyable and unassuming in its smarts. Ends coolly in a medium balance of flavors, body, and strength.
NOTES
A step up into brilliant sophistication; or down into sophisticated tedium. That depends upon the height of your perspective. Neither is a bummer. Each might be as equally confused as satiated -- but it does hit almost every wheelhouse and offer something for all.

Coulda used another month (as noted) in the bottom of my pirate chest humi for fifteen minutes more of decadence, and five minutes less of thin spices. Ya never know. But ya kinda can.

PAIRINGS
A big ol' brownie. Anything chocolate or fudge. A mocha latte. Dig? Manischewitz wine, Grape Concord. A party hat.

FINAL GRADE
****A-****

LESS SCHTICK MORE STICK
Letter grades are graded on a scale of K A P L O W I T Z.
K being the least, Z the greatest
Appearance I
Construction T
Combustion W
Flavors/Body W
Strength P

EPILOGUE
9:20pm
Allow me to at once flex the muscle of my Three Stooges smarts, and to recommend a fellow cigar blogger. Mr. Paul Schuett aka IRVCIGARBROKER. Please check him out; very well worth reading his insider perspective on our cigar industry. Nevertheless...

He oopsied on a bit of Stooges history, which I addressed via Facebook comment thusly:
"Fourth Stooge? Ya mean Ted Healy? It was his act that Moe, Larry, and Shemp started under, then left. There were actually 21 (I believe) actors under the Stooges mantle. Under Moe, there were 4 -- not counting Emil Sitka. Great history there*.
Oh, cigar sounds nice, too."
We then agreed I know my Stooges.
So this is what 39 feels like. Not terrible, soitenly!

*There is so much more to that...

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Arturo Fuente Hemmingway Short Story - Cigar Review

PROLOGUE
I don't mean to sound particular, but I ain't sure about these new shoelaces. They're in my old grey shoes now. They're all laced in and up and not smooth, but braided. I'm not certain if it's simply the change raising my irk, or if I shoulda stayed smooth. Braided, huh? Dunno...

I guess I am a tick of a dandy. And that tick of a fancy dandy is well pleased with --

THE CIGAR
Arturo Fuente
Hemmingway Short Story
4 x 48 Perfecto
Cameroon wrapper
Dominican Republic binder/filler
PRE-LIGHT
I do not think a first day on the job Torcedor could pull this partiicular format off. The band is stock Fuente. Upon closer examination, the Fuente, format aside, is a bit...sloppy. Crimped veins. A seam ticked up in a few places. Point of cap a bit off-kilter. Almost zilch as far as sheen. Complexion is, well, a paper shopping bag and slightly uneven, at that -- pock-marked blemish in a few spots. A slight and seldom marbling trace offers up a coffee bean hue. Tobacco peeking out of the lotus-style tiny bound foot is auburn.

Hand-feel is on the dry side, but fine. Some light oils can be felt and all but one of the veins are fingered smoothly over. The one at apparent issue runs the entire first half of this four inch Fuente. "Four Inch Fuente." lol. Anyways, for the near comical shape, balance is quite nice. Schnoz-notes are a floral woodsiness at the shaft and sticking the perfecto tapered foot up my nose like a rubber hose, I get more of the same. A light but pretty tobacco note is the under-tone throughout.

I employ my gifted Xikar Xi2 cutter and like buttah! Full review. Back in well-appointed box. Simple addition to my smoking experience of roughly eight (8) steps. Cold draw is woody and floral and a nice sweetly spiced tobacco. Perhaps some pale nuttery. Little sugar vibe. Very sweet to the lips, and uncumbersome.

LIGHT
2:40pm
Toasting the nipplesque foot lets loose a sweet wood aroma. First hot pull is wood-led sweet spices with a leather backing. Pretty straight-forward. Nice tobacco finish, -medium length and tobacco. More spicy than sweet. Tingly mouth-feel. A bit of smoke leaks out from a flawed seam about a 1/4" post foot. I'm still seemingly getting good smoke-hole delivery, as on the second hot one, I retro-hale. Primarily very woodsy morphing to a seasoned cedar and a semi-sweet spices of a comfy level. Second, there is a fleeting floral and pale nut that swirl but never dance with one-another. Leather is the main occupant of the middling. Underneath is that nice tobacco, ballsy-mild, 60/40 spicy/sweet but kindly so. Palate is a tick sharp, if not dry. Third hot pull is samesville, Daddy-0.

Burn is very even given the format. Its line is a medium thickness. Ash is pale grey to medium, with new growth paling further in tight ladder-rungs. Draw is a very impressively smooth medium. The leaky seam is but an ashy memory. Profile is mild and strength-o-meter has not seen its needle budge. Smoke out-put is full, but light and white. Room-note is a very pleasing sweet cedar with floral and sweet tobacco vibes. Package density has not budged. Nice start!
ACT I
There’s a little of everything. If "everything" consisted of cedar, sweet spices, leather, and tobacco with a sweet floral leaning. Spices go up 70/30 over sweet on the retro-hale now. Tingly tongue. Palate moisture is correcting. I'm having a full on sweet and spicy Cameroon experience. Some vague other woody note comes in, toasted. I'm too getting some earthiness I'd been expecting and with it, a bit of a grassy note. Mini zetz of white pepper now on the draw and retro-hale. Still the forefront is a very woody mix of toasted sharp woods and sweet seasoned cedar. White pepper is there for a tick, then falls back to secondary. Leather leads the secondary which is fleshed out by sweet spices (on occasion, they leap over into the primary), a diminished floral, a ramping dry earth and grass. White pepper continues its subduing. Backing is a sweet tobacco which absorbs much of the secondary notes and extends into a medium+ finish.

Profile is medium+, strength is light. As the half-way point looms, I have not lost one iota of ash from this Short Story. Its cracked on one side, but pale grey and dense ladder-rungs hold. Even as I've been typing with it in my hand. Construction nor draw have strayed any part of a tick. Very impressive not only given its format -- but any format. Combustion has not wavered from a very middle of the road burn. Only the slightest of waver from even on a -medium burn-line. It even balances well in the smoke-hole, leaving a nice sweetness on my lips. Kiss me, ya fool. I get a nice zetz of flowers and cane sugar on a white pepper retro-hale.

Flavors keep chugging along. I wouldn't say simple, as much as calming and kinda reassuring. Solid. Stout. Fireplug-ish. Almost thuggish in a 1930s cartoon sense -- and that's the image any good Perfecto should conjure.

ACT II
All of the opening act's ashes clump on my Chromebook keyboard. Dry, cool, solid, a bit coarse. All that applies to myself and the ash. A bit of dark toasts finds the lower secondary. Packaging loosens a half-tick as the shaft narrows. A seam gets a bit loose ahead of the burn-line. There's a thin hint of graham flour. Still very wood/cedar. Retro-hale picks up a sharp dustiness and waters my eyes whilst dulling my notes.

Linear and one-dimensional, maybe. But a nice line and good dimension. Construction is splendid and the format quite fun. Not a whole lot more to report, really -- and I don't foresee a lot more coming. Nuts roast nicely and attract some cane sugar, head to the top of the middlings. There's a playing of citrus rind. Ash gets quite dry and jagged, darkens two ticks, so I rolls it off in my $0.99 Walmart ashtray. I never get a tingle sans a slight drying of palate. At times, not so much slight. Room-note has a nutty nuance to it.

As the band approaches, the sweet tobacco bottom stretches vertically through to the top. I feel as though I've been somewhat turned on my side. Profile remains the same, as doth muscle. White pepper sharpens and soars. Cedar drops and woods scorch. Slighter nuances go kaput, but for the graham, of all things. Smoke is quite warm. Pulls crackle the leaf now. Strength sucker punches with a weak arm. Not a spectacular end.
NOTES
A fun Fuente. A good option for a cold day outdoor smoke, or a squeeze into a busy schedule. I've been wanting to try one a' these forever. Glad I did. All told, and given its format, great construction -- delivering sorta mundane but well-formed flavors.

PAIRINGS
A blonde latte with that fancy caramel over-top whipped cream. Hot cocoa in a Superman mug... or is that just me?

FINAL GRADE
****B+****

LESS SCHTICK MORE STICK
Letter grades are graded on a scale of K A P L O W I T Z.
K being the least, Z the greatest
Appearance W
Construction I
Combustion T
Flavors/Body O
Strength A

EPILOGUE
3:45pm
It's my Birthday. I got a couple loaves of french bread, a brownie, and a Bijou waiting on me.

It's not every day ya turn 39!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Quesada Oktoberfest - Cigar Review



(+ a bonus bit re: a local B&M)
THE CIGAR
Quesada Cigars
Oktoberfest 2014
4 x 50 Short Robusto (Kurz)
1/5 of Quesada's Winter Pack
Dominican Cibao Valley wrapper
Dominican binder
Dominican Cuban Seed Criollo,
Dominican Olor Viso & Ligero fillers
ACT I
Letter grades are graded on a scale of K A P L O W I T Z.
K being the least, Z the greatest
Appearance W
Construction O
Combustion O
Flavors/Body W
Strength A
Primary/s Dark earth, Pepper. Berries are a driving force.

ACT II
Appearance O
Construction W
Combustion O
Flavors/Body L
Strength W
Primary/s Dark earth, Pepper. Berries are a driving force. (Thinner.)
FINAL GRADE
****B****

Look below this post to the share buttons. Below that -- click on "Winter Pack" for other reviews of the, yes gentlepersons, Winter Pack. As always and ever, thanks a heap for yer eyes and ears. Thanks too, to my good great pals over at Cigars City for the "Hook up," as the kids say these days.
Fine selection throughout at Cigars on 7th.
Eugene, OR.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Quesada 40th Anniversary & Heisenberg (2/5 Winter Pack)- Cigar(s) Review

PROLOGUE
Yer in fer a wild ride, gentlepersons. A real tour de farce.

THE CIGAR
Queasada Cigars
Quesada 40th Anniversary
4 x 50 Short Robusto
Closed foot
Mexican San Andres wrapper
Dominican Republic binder
DR/Nicaraguan fillers

1/5 of the Quesada Cigars Winter Pack. Shorter smokes for colder days.

Sample courtesy of my Cigars City good and great pals. You go NOW. After reading.
PRE-LIGHT
Roasted coffee bean complexion with a Hershey's chocolate vibe coming up from under of it. Double banded in black, silver, and gold on nice enough paper stock. Q tobacco leaf logo is raised. Secondary band reads 4oth Anniversary. Barely any sheen over the top-leaf. There are oils, but they almost appear to be below the surface. Not very veiny, but one sharply crimped ridge doth impede the hand-feel in the second act. Seams Are mostly barely visible, less in the 1/3 where one is a tick loosened. Cap is well-affixed and foot is closed, as noted above. There are a nice amount of spider-web veins throughout, which tend toward a darker hue.

As to hand-feel, the vein crimp has been noted as well as notated. Too this thing is packed very tight. Not a spot below full anywheres up or down the shaft. Dry. No transfer of oils to hand. A fine tooth can be felt. Mainly dry. It's stone-like between the firmness and texture.

Schnozzing the shaft, I get peanuts and hay, and my mind goes toward the room and board of a circus elephant. I'll be -- I get a manure notion, as well. Some sweetness in the feces. Nice. The elephant is a diabetic. Cold pull off a Xikar snip is wood, dark hot cocoa powder, wood/wood shavings/hay, leather. -Tight draw resistance. Cold finish is coolly sweetened reddish spices.

LIGHT
9:30am
Toasting the closed foot takes a bit of patience. I always half wonder the point of it all. A zetz of wrapper flavor is the hypothesis on first pull, but it's mainly toasted to oblivion by the time the thing's hefted to my smoke-hole. Anyways, notes of wood/shavings/hay and some sweet soft leather act as the aroma there. First hot pull is a charred note right out the gate. It's in the woods where a hickory takes up the lead. There a faint mesquite, as well. Middling is a lotta leather and some thin heavy toasted cream. I get a deepening BBQ vibe on the finish. Charcoal and umami. Draw is not giving me full smoke, I feel. On the second hot one, I retro-hale to a more complicated wood array and coffee bean drop to my palate then tongue. Mouth-feel is thin and dry -- arid, almost. Some nuts vibe in on the finish, dark and roasted. Kitchen spices sharpen the end a tick. All notes are quite dry, as is my tongue. A slight tingle is there, as well. Third hot one has more smoke-out-put and is very, very, very mesquite BBQ. I hate BBQs. Never anything there I can eat. All cloven hooves and harsh to my gut spices.

Something is happening on the dry medium+ finish and feel. It's as if there's a flower garden near the grill. Its blooms are feeling the heat, and drying. One more tug and they're on the immediate draw, too.

Draw resistance is a not overly comfy -tight, but even, and I'm getting some slight more smoke. Room-note is very wooden with stiff leather underneath. Ash is 60/40 salt/pepper. Burn is wavy, but OK. Line is razor thin. Pack has not softened any part of a tick off light. Profile is a solid medium already, strength not on-board yet.
ACT I
I'm getting a bit more moisture now. As I do, the kitchen spices become more apparent and flesh out the leathery middle. Primary is way higher, though. Woods, mesquite hickory led charring BBQ vibe. Floral notes are dark and dry almost like a potpourri and lace through the primary and secondary. Underneath is a barnyard. Suddenly I'm getting virtually no smoke.

I toothpick the cap. I roll the tiny thing in my hands. I light light and light. Nothing. For a good bit. Then smoke. Sweet BBQ sauce. Caramelized sensation. Much tingle to palate and tongue. Molasses. Ramping up nuts? I'd like to go home now? Please turn the car around?

Leather is barely contained by the middling's boundaries, given the furthering of nuts there... roasted... almonds and pecans. Espresso is poured over top of the middling and gets into the primary. Still, with all this happening, it's a bit thin. As is the smoke, although there's a good bit more than prior. I feel like the body to flavor ratio is fercockt. In the wispiness, there is dry bit vacancies. Almost a seltzer fizz.

Ash flakes. Slight flowering can be in part to re-light, so I roll off and wait. Re-touch a bit of top-leaf. Some more sweetness tries, a toasting of molasses. Black pepper, a heavy dose of the stuff, is now on the retro-hale. Sweet 'n' Spicy. Almost immediately, the pepper mutes several notches, but a cedar and new creaminess is on-bard in ebbs and flows -- it's as if there isn't enough room for all the notes. I get the feeling of furnishing a huge living room by cramping all the seating into a small corner, leaving the rest vacant. Full a' nuttin'.

Draw is down to a mostly comfy medium+ resistance. Smoke is nigh a medium out-put. Room-note picks up a sweet creaminess. Ash pales. Line is a razor-thin wavy. Packing softens a tick. Mouth-feel is still erring toward dry. Floral jabs are marrying into the cedar, as it heads to the rest of the woods in the primary notes. Very charred and heavily roasted toasted. Espresso is becoming quite nice on the finish, and is kinda a Red Eye coffee mixture with sweet cream. Still, though, dry. Kitchen spices are leading with a tex-mex flare. Mouth-feel is much softer now, and moisture is trying, but the finish dries. Draw tightens and smoke out-put lessens again. Oy.

I'm having a rough time here, gentlepersons. A chemical taste is on the tip of my tongue. In imperfect situations, I feel the need to state that this Quesada was delivered to me in great condition with moisture enclosed. It has been in my pirate's chest humidor for a week at 68% RH. Flavors are interesting and almost uniquely displayed here; making this all the more of a frustration. Dryness sinks to under my tongue and I need a sip of agua. I detest drinking water, as I feel it takes away from my potential coffee intake, but I only do water, and only as a must, whilst I review.

The shoulder comes loose. OK.

ACT II
Very wispy now. Flavors and body. I'm almost tempted to see what other reviewers say about this -- but who has time to bother with cigar review, I mean really. Leather is still in the middling, but that middling is the focus now. I almost get a sarsaparilla note. Interesting, but all now falls into the category of "Almost." Ash flowers again. Darkens.

I never put a stick out because there are kids starving in America, but I must say I am tempted to here. I won't rag on this offering any longer. If something positive transpires, I shall relay it. Although even a positive flaring-up would speak to a greater combustion issue at this point. It went out again.

Inch and a half left and let's call it 10:15am

Review over.

NOTES
n/a


FINAL GRADE
****F****


HEISENBERG BY QUESADA

PROLOGUE
Whatta boon. Whattan opportunity. On the latest Radio Herf, I unveiled plans for PROJECT X. Wherein I shall, from show regular and occasional fill-in co-host, receive cigars removed of any and all recognizable traits (read: bands and ribbons and etc.). I will then review and on the next Radio Herf, will have unveiled to all, including me, what the heck I smoked. Blind review, gentlepersons. Blind review.

That's essentially what this Heisenberg is.

THE CIGAR
Quesada Cigars
Heisenberg by Quesada
4 x 50 Short Robusto
1/5 of the Quesada Winter pack
Undisclosed wrapper
Undisclosed binder
Undisclosed filler(s)

The Heisenberg project is named after the scientific formula of the same name that proves the fundamental limits of precision: in other words, no matter how much we know about something we will never know everything; the more we focus on one aspect, the less we know about another. The Heisenberg project has two intentions: to dispel the stereotypes that limit our ability to enjoy a cigar and remind aficionados that sometimes its best to sit back, relax, and just enjoy a smoke without over analyzing it. To put it simply, “Embrace Uncertainty!” How often do we pass on an opportunity to experience a new cigar because it’s not from a certain country, factory, or made from certain tobaccos? How often do we spend our time analyzing every flavor and nuance in a cigar rather than simply enjoying it in the moment? So with this in mind we will not be releasing any information on the Heisenberg blend, number of cigars made, or description of strength, flavor, etc. We want aficionados to smoke the Heisenberg with as few preconceived notions as possible. Just light this cigar up and smoke it wherever it is you enjoy a cigar the most; whether in solitude at home, with friends at the local cigar shop, or while taking the dog for a walk. We know this is an unusual way to release a cigar. We don’t know how it will turn out. All we can do is “Embrace Uncertainty.” We are asking you to do the same.

Your friends,
The Quesada family
NOTE
I will not be guessing at blend. I will simply be rating each of the two acts on the K-A-P-L-O-W-T-Z scale, with the added feature of primary flavor notes. For you rasslin' fans out there, I ain't breaking kayfabe. Too, in the interest of full disclosure, I don't wanna spend too much time here, because my first experience with this Quesada Winter Pack was atrocious. Redemption, might thou name be Heisenberg?

Meh.

ACT I
Letter grades are graded on a scale of K A P L O W I T Z.
K being the least, Z the greatest
Appearance O
Construction W
Combustion L
Flavors/Body L
Strength W
Primary/s W Black Pepper/Woods -- Sweet smoky.

ACT II
Appearance O
Construction O
Combustion P
Flavors/Body O
Strength I
Primary/s Mesquite/Hickory, Molasses -- Robust not voluptuous, gritty.

Smoke time was 'bout an hour. Flavors were not completely dissimilar from 4oth Anniversary offering.

FINAL GRADE
****B-****
POSTSCIPT
1/5 was unsmokeable. 2/5 was mainly smokeable but still sub par combustion. Look for the rest of my Winter Pack reviews... find them by clicking on "Winter Pack" below the share buttons at this post's end. I might as well review 'em all, right?

Thanks for suffering through this post. I owe ya.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Xikar Xi2 Cigar Cutter - Product Review

PROLOGUE
It might seem as though I've been hyping this write up forever, but mainly, I've been procrastinating. I'm not typically the lazy sort, so I gotta file this one under M for meh. What to say about a cutter? A machine precision surgical style instrument made of 440 stainless steel with an HRC of 57. I mean the thing's got specs, epus! It's a lot more than a little like toasting a foot with a 2,000 degree Jedi Lightsaber. 

Maybe I'm just old school. Perhaps I have poor man PTSD, and 40 bucks can better go to a two bundles of cheap sticks on-line, or one bundle of cheap sticks if you support yer local Brick and Mortar.

Nevertheless, I've used this a good few goes now, this Xikar. The time has come now, to review the sucker.

THE PRODUCT
Xikar Xi2 Cutter - Noir Black
"These cutters have blades hardened to a Rockwell C rating of 57, the result is the hardest, sharpest blade you can buy. The body retains the classic XIKAR shape and features a lightweight nylon fiberglass composite in an assortment of metallic colors and now, carbon fiber look and mesh patterns on black.
Xi cutter blades are made of high quality 440 stainless steel with an HRC of 57.
All Xi cutters are the same ring gauge: they will cut a 54 ring gauge cigar in half. Depending on how much cap you cut, they will cut up to a 60 ring gauge cigar." - from www.Xikar.com
FORM
This category might contain both my largest bugaboo AND my greatest support. Good news first, shall we?

It's got great presentation. I was gifted this beaut, and upon opening the substantially built dark charcoal box, I let loose an audible "wow." Those whom know my A+ criteria, know that's a pre-req for that grade. As when you open a Gurkha or iWhatever box, you know you are peeking and peaking into a higher tax bracket's zip code. Soon, though, you realize there is better tobacco elsewhere, and cheaper. As does Android do much the same for a fraction of cost. Although I do believe of the three, Xikar's performance holds to the higher level it advertises. Actually, I got a bugaboo which stems from the packaging, but we'll get to that in a tick.

Now for the bad news. It is completely outta whack with what is so meaningful in my own cigar smoking experience. It pretties up the ugly and machines up the humanity. I'm no nature freak, a day outdoors sounds pretty awful to me; unless we're talking a ballgame, dog or horse track, or urban park bench w/ stogie.  But I cling to the organic soul of a cigar. As well as to the many human hands who handled it on its way to my smoke-hole. Cold steel is an abrupt abortion of this meditation. In this way, the term "cutter" could not possibly be more sadly apt.

Is it good lookin'? Heck yeah! I could tell it's superior to a freebie or lesser piece of weaponry at the very briefest of glances. It's like showing up to a knife fight with a Star Trek phaser. No one'll argue yer being impressive. Let's lookit dem looks. It is not black. It's listed as Noir Black, but it's a dark matte charcoal to my eyes. Company logo is on the blade. Pretty cool how it butterflies open at a siver-toned button-push, then snaps closed at a snip. But that's more --
FUNCTION
So much of this might sound familiar, as I have spoken it in vast quantities before -- but it's a small cutter. Ergonomic, sure -- but small in my freakishly largess hands. My virile, masculine, strong yet tender hands. Its design gives a nice view of yer snip, far better than the previous freebies I've had. How does it stack up to those freebies? It blows them outta the water. It's sharper, faster, cleaner, more precise...but we're simply cutting the glued-on cap off a cigar, gentlepersons. Mayhap we need to calm almost entirely the heck down.

Can this "blowing outta the water" be detromental? Can it be, for lack of a better way of putting it, too good? In a way, yes -- and sure, I'll elaborate. I used the Xikar to cut a Cooperstown Cigar Co. Cooperstonian. In the review HERE, I almost had the Xikar mangle the stick because it tried taking on a zaftik stem which I freebie woulda been stopped dead by. Too, a mouf coulda felt.

Packaging is again wondy. But that's the visual. Functionally, it's a pain in the tuchus. Open Xikar box, carefully remove Xikar cutter, line up, snip, push-button-open back up to clean ugly filthy leaves of disgusting 'baccy from pretty shiny pristine-clean sterile metal, replace in velvet-like lined box, cover w/ Xikar emblazoned lid. I'm tired from just typing that, gentlepersons! 

I understand that if you sign up at their website, Xikar gives you a "free" Xikar bag/sleeve to carry your Xikar cutter around in...ENOUGH. Xikar and me: we be cool. I think we be cool, Xikar 'n' me.

THOUGHTS
Have I not already thought enough? Oy vey. Here's something else: it is the perfect gift for the cigar smoker in yer life. Unless you are sure as to his/her profile wheelhouse, gentlepersons, don't gift sticks. Unless you are sure of their eye for furnishings, gentlepersons, don't gift humis. I suppose lighters are another perfect gift. Also, my birthday is mere days away (2/25). HERE is where you can send me presents. Too, I never so much met a profile I didn't like or at least appreciate.

As a gifter, you crave that giftee's "wow." And yer long gone on down the road before said giftee fires up his ridiculous blog.

FINAL GRADE
****A+****
Cannot recommend

EPILOGUE
Thanks, Gabe. You are without a doubt, my very favorite Brother-in-Law. 

Now if you'll be so kind, Dear Reader, as to excuse me... I'm headed over to www.Xikar.com to register this thing and get the bag/sleeve. I'm looking at it now. A sheath. Nice!

POSTSCRIPT
Register, confirm email, WAIT that was for a newsletter? I'm now a member of Xikar Nation? I usually run these groups by my Rabbi before joining. Where do I find the warranty and sheath thing?! ...

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Radio Herf 02212016



Nice turn-out for this week's Radio Herf.

We talked about what exactly a Boutique cigar blend/manufacturer is, Brick and Mortar v. On-line cigar shopping, Some coffee, a little barbershop, and Gurkha; or to be more exact, marketing.

As always, gentlepersons, I am humbled by yer ears, eyes and -- well -- ears and eyes.

Thanks to all who partook!

Black Ops Habano - Cigar Review

Oy, vey.
PROLOGUE
I have this pal, see? This pal I have has a sense of humor, see? I go pro-Gurkha, he sends me this house brand as/of such. But he knows what's good for me. "Veggies: eat 'em." "Yes, sir."

We shall now commence with the non-inside joke portion of the evening's festivities with --

THE CIGAR
Black Ops Habano
6 x 50 Toro
Ecuador Habano wrapper
Nicaraguan binder/filler
PRE-LIGHT
There is blood-splatter involved in the design of the band. I'd go into further detail, but I'd proly talk myself outta lighting, if I did. Immature: check. Classless: check. Moving on: check.

Light hand-feel and not well-balanced in the ol' paw. That's what I note firstly, so we'll break with protocol and flesh out the rest of the hand-feel scenario prior to eyeballing notations. Smooth uneven oily grit. Not a satin-smooth, but smooth more than gruff. Packing is very spongy and of loose uneven density off a Charmin squeeze. Oils slick onto fingers.

Now the looksies. Chocolate hued wrapper, even (although tannish around a couple of the larger veins) and matte, albeit an almost even oil slick over-top. Underneath is more of the same complexion. I am gazing into a fudge-colored abyss. Seams are mainly tight, with a tick or three a notch looser. Very veiny looks, but no real hand-feel impediment, surprisingly. However, there is some crimping and sharp ridging which may cause burn issues; particularly in the first half of the Black Ops. Cap gets the job done sans hiccup or wow. Foot tobacco is a brunette with a singular high-light streak of dirty strawberry blonde. -Medium density there to the eye.

Schnoz-notes of cocoa, semi-sweet spice rack with a paprika front, and sweetly compost-led tobacco. More sweetness from the foot and a crisper note delineation, although each note is lessened. I Xikar Xi2 the heck outta the cap with a strangely out-of-context cold efficiency (full review coming, I swears).Cold pull is a medium resistance dose of chocolate and paprika pairing. Compost quite high underneath. Spice rack occupies the cold middling. Nice smoothly crisp finish.

LIGHT
1:40pm
Toasting the foot lets loose an aroma of paper with traces of hickory twigs and leaves. First hot pull is a sharp yet unrefined red pepper over-top the paprika, which peeks through at the pepper's end. Cocoa powder. Dry notes. A hickory vibe. Char. Top-leaf cracks at the burn-line. Second hot one is retro-haled to a far more kind dose of red pepper than I braced for. Notes don't differ from first draw. Still dry, although moisture level in my smoke-hole is perfect. LOTS of smoke. Third pull is samesies to the first two.

Profile is a medium now. Strength is almost there with it, already. Ash is white to light grey flaked sheath on a wavy burn which ain't aided by a new crack in the wrapper in the mid 1/3. Smoke leaks, but I'm still getting more than plenty. A dark bread note is on the finish -- toasted to burnt. Draw is smooth and even,
ACT I
Warm spices are seasoning my lips. A dark semi-sweet tobacco comes on in the high middling and begins to steer. Underneath is black earth and burnt black toast; touch of hickory char. Over-top is a red pepper and red spices forefront, cocoa backfront(?). So much smoke. You could perforate this thing up and down and up again along its shaft, and still get smoky. White ash dulls a tad. Nice throat catch.

I smoke an inch into the Black Ops in not quite 15 mins. Package is a very soft sponge density. Burn is evening. I rolls off da ash, yo. Jagged cool powder, airy. The crack has been smoked through, and by all means, please to insert Whitney Houston joke [here]. More cocoa, less red pepper. Still, there's more red pepper than cocoa. Dig? Draw braces to a medium+ resistance. Ash picks up a charcoal tip. Cocoa picks up a dollop o' cream. Chocolate, then. Sweetness rises and extends to finish. A wetter and softer mouth-feel doth ensue.

All else holds. Steady rockin'.
(Mention made of schmatta. Streak continues.)

ACT II
A salted nuttiness starts in at the onset of the middle act. Some sweetness goes toward it. The sweetness, overall, is a bit erratic. A salty sweet tingle plays nice on my mouf. Black bread gets a tad less dry in the black topsoil backing. Cocoa and red pepper welcome paprika to the top. Middling is a less charred hickory, and a now sweeter still warm spice rack. Not a bad stick, at all. I hid the band from myself, so I got that going for me. Flavors intensify and delineate, but are not added to. Still, nice enough. Some malt tries in the sweetness, but the sweetness gives way to a stout tobacco, and ebbs -- malt falls.

Medium+ profile, medium but somewhat assaulting strength. Not smoov. Draw ticks back down to medium resistance. Notes dry up again. For a limited recipe, there's not a lot of stability in the ingredients. Burn-line is even, but a tick of top-leaf loosens a bit at that line. There's a shift in the primary notes, as a now dark creamy chocolate noses out ahead of the red pepper. Paprika falls to the middling. Both still influence the chocolate. Backing holds true to its form. Middling addition of paprika plays well with hickory and some coffee bean is roasting to Full City there.

As we head toward the final act, the creamy sweetness toasts and a nougat vibe is added into it. I am pleasantly surprised with this stick's flavor. My carport/HQ office cat pats the band around on the concrete floor. Smoke is noticeably warmer now. A cereal grain vibe is lacing the middlings.

ACT III
Draw tightens back up to a medium+. Smoke out-put downs a tick. Perhaps a notch. I don't fully know what I mean by either of those vague measurements. Smoke cools a bit, slows. Flavors moisten and I purge the thing. Picks right back up.

A seam comes loose and a bit of top-leaf again peels up from the burn. Palate dries and tingle grows. All told, a very nice stogie + offering from Gurkha owner Kaizad Hansotia. I really believe, no knock against the fella, that's his wheelhouse. Maybe that explains my affections. Red pepper is now mainly on the retro-hale.

Smoke billows back up. Heats up. Room-note was always very reminiscent of a cigar being smoked. The band is NOW. The fat lady is singing. I'm grabbing a toothpick. A goiter is growing at the even enough burn-line. As ya were, gentlepersons. Or "at ease." Whichever is more correct.
NOTES
The foreman puts Wong in charge of supplies. Ten hours later, Wong is nowhere to be found. "Where's Wong?" Says everybody -- they form a search party. After an hour of searching, Wong jumps out from behind a stack of railroad ties, "SUPPLIES!!!" Yells Wong.

This Back Ops Habano was just as big a surprise. Less flinching, too. It looked fercockt, but I think ya could drive over the thing and still get a smoke-hole fulls. Completely serviceable offering as a budgeted option.

PAIRINGS
Anything except the hard stuffs. Beer, even -- it works with Gurkha, too. Think malty.

FINAL GRADE
****B-****

LESS SCHTICK MORE STICK
Letter grades are graded on a scale of K A P L O W I T Z.
K being the least, Z the greatest
Appearance A
Construction P
Combustion O
Flavors/Body W
Strength W

EPILOGUE
3:05pm
Pick some up HERE at Cigars City. Knock around wit' 'em. Try to not napalm anyone.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Sabbath Smoker 02.20.16 - Roly Natural



The ears...yer ears...Gentlepersons...thanks for tuning them toward this, my general vicinity.

TOPICS


Gut Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom, and Merry Saturday!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Caldwell Cigar Co. Caldwell Collection The King is Dead - Cigar Review

PROLOGUE
I don't mean to brag, but I'm on quite a hot-streak re: dominoes. Bones. My five year-old can barely keep up. Here's to victory. Here's to --

THE CIGAR

Caldwell Cigar Co.
Caldwell Collection
The King is Dead
"Premier"
50 x 5
Capa: Negrito Dominicano – 2008
Banda: Corojo Dominicano – 2006
Tripa: Corojo Ligero Dominicano 30% – 2006
Tripa: Negrito Viso Dominicano 20% – 2008
Tripa: HVA 20/20 50% – 2010" - from www.CaldwellCigarCo.com
(That level of disclosure, I adore.)

Speaking disclosure, I get 5 1/2". I'm right, too. Ask me how, if yer curious.
PRELIGHT
I really like Caldwell's artwork. Even Tom Selleck's bearded mug on their Eastern Standard. All very nice and very unboringly "Caldwell." Excellent branding, that. Have I mentioned I like pigtails? As kosher as they ain't, I've a deep fondness nonetheless. This The King is Dead got one. The complexion of the stick is an even and light milk chocolate with not much, if any at all, under-tone. This offers up an interesting dull counter-balance to a decent 'nuff sheen. There is some yellowing surrounding a vein or two. Yes, there are veins (none impede upon the hand-feel), and spiders (some going across the shaft, not length-wise). Still, I don't foretell a burn bugaboo. I do get a carefully expressed "rustic." Seams are tight and even, darn near invisible. Pigtail is oinked upon a well-affixed cap. Foot tobacco is interesting. The binder is an almost loud orange hue; the rest is dull shades of auburn. Medium+ Eyeball'd density.

Hand-feel is a tick toward dry, but still oiled enough to feel of some life. Also has a trace bit of peach fuzz glide. Shaft is packed to a medium+ firmness as exhibited via a Charmin squeeze. Balance feels OK. Schnozzing the shaft, I get Some rather faint woods and smaller still pepper and chocolate. A little dusty. From the foot I get a stronger focus on chocolate and a cream attachment. Wood there is a sweet-spiced cedar.

I cut with my Xikar Xi2 cutter, after I schlep it out of its well-appointed box -- full review, coming soon. Get back in the box. Cold pull is on a smooth medium+ resistance and yields soft but flavorful mainly red spices, with a chocolate following that forefront. Throughout is a very nice tobacco core. Rich, but not deep. Mild-ish but flavorful. You know, nice.

LIGHT
3:40pm
Toasting the foot gives you a spicy zetz of wood array. Oak, cedar, and hickory (in that particular offer). The middling of the foot seems to burn quite differently than its surrounding leaf. darker and less hot. Slower. It catches up. Lots of dusty, musky pepper on the first hot pull. Dusty musky goes to mild spices, too. Like entering a room that's been closed off for a good while. The woods are there, as well. Cocoa goes to the finish. It's a sticky finish, as in sticks to yer ribs. Second hot one is retro-haled and sweet spices delineate from red pepper flake. Woods and tobacco core swirl around. Chocolate and cream seem to be joining forces underneath. Third hot draw is an already down-ticking pepper and the flavor profile is shuffling into place.

Strength and body, we'll call an early medium. Strength is vibed already, but just a vibe. Draw is a quite solidly medium+ resistance. Burn ribbons, but doth not waveth. Line is thin+. Ash is white to pale grey and is forming a thus far fragile sheath. Finish is very long. Mouth-feel is a clingy cream with not a tingle, but a zest.
ACT I
I work the draw on a few quick puffs, and it ticks down, but still remains in the medium+ spectrum of resistance. A stiff leather note pops in as red pepper drops way down low. Settling -- all notes are on par for a couple pulls. Then a milk chocolate/cream tandem takes to the forefront. Secondary is sweet cedar led seasoned hardwoods. A touch of hickory. A spicy tobacco fleshes out the middling. Underneath is a musky and leathery dusty earth. 

Slow burner. Even burner. I'd like a tad less draw resistance, but I ain't lacking for flavor -- perhaps a bit of smoke, though. Out-put is an at-most medium. Room-note is a tobacco thing with fleeting traces of inherent sweet and spicy notes. Ash browns a bit and a spot on the char-line blisters. 

Retro-hale gives a nice zetz of seasoned woods and sweet spices. As the first act closes, we're cruising ahead in terms of flavors. Burn evens on its own. Ash is rolled off in full to a nice density, although a tick dry. Profile is a robust medium, strength a -medium. Packaging holds true to its form.

ACT II
Palate is a bit on the dry side and has a slight bit o' nice tingle. Cedar had been leading the woods, but now it's busted ahead and is in the primary notes with a creamy chocolate. Remaining woods stay in the secondary and the tobacco core stays with them, almost engulfing them. A graham cracker pie crust is there, as well. Same musky leathery earth is underneath, but some sun hits it and it rises up to carry the other notes a notch or two higher. A light and white fruit juice is on my tongue now. Some green grocer produce, a vegetal led by green belle pepper, too.

My Uncle Frank retired from commercial fishing and bought a green grocer in Coney Island, Brooklyn. It had a dirt floor with plywood thrown over it. I remember bouncing and running over it as a little kid.

Smoke out-put rises, as does smoke into my smoke-hole. Stay smoky, gentlepersons. NOT Smokey. Smokey is a name. A good name for a dog. Stay, Smokey. I roll off a bunch of ash and it's the same as the first. Citrus chimes in, an orange rind. Pace quickens, but still has a calmness. It's completely cedar led, now. All other notes dance in the middle. Backing remains. Packing softens a tick. Draw stays put. I take my garbage to the curb. Citrus soars. Graham, too, but less. Moisture level corrects and mouth-feel is kind. Still nicely clingy, and offers a long finish of sweet tobacco. Strength is a comfy medium now. Ash gets a darker streak or two. Throat gets some grit. Retro-hale is a tad coarse.

Some lemony oil is added into the citrus. Lots of playful flavors that don't sit still, but aren't erratic, either. The tobacco core drives them forward along that musky leather dusty earth backing. Graham subdues on account of lemon addition. Cedar is still out in front and is sweet and spicy and complex. Still, it's a singular note. Hickory is a whisper in the predominantly tobacco middling. I'm getting a sense of the pedestrian -- but in designer shoes. Let's say this Caldwell offering is of an attainable complexity. A very nice smoke. Very. At it's best, the cream and chocolate hit the primary and the tobacco and woods swell in the secondary...but this occurs in ebbs and flows. Retro-hale is kinder now and adds a red pepper and now a thin and finely ground white. Medium+ profile with a medium kick. Construction holds. Burn is a slight wavy, but fine.

ACT III
Legs maybe pull back but the mouth-feel remains not heavy -- full. Zestier thinner cream. That finish is a sweet tobacco tempered by a lemon oil. Cream pulls in some cocoa. I don't get a sense there will be much change. Flavor notes seem well-trained. Stay, Smokey, Stay. Construction is marvelous, and packing re-firms. Natural tobacco note mutes a tick, but its role isn't lessened. Ash clumps off in a first surprise manner. Misses my schmatta mockingly close, and hits my already in need of launder pants. No big whoop.

Lemon oil sweetens, and cream toasts. A very nice effect as the band looms nigh. Cedar, even when alone up-top does nicely there. Sweet and spicy in a goodly seasoned balance. Palate dries a bit again. A bit of white tea leaf is present. Graham is back as a quicker but more dense cracker. Hickory is back in full, too. The King is Dead, but going out quite well, it would seem. 

Profile and strength remain a constant. The room-note spins off a light floral aroma. A roasted salt hits my lips. I almost detect a vague hard caramel candy vibe on the immediate draw. Retro-hale smooths more as white over-takes red. Smoke is cool and even as I reach for a toothpick. After that, it's all cedar and vegetal.
NOTES
If the King is so Dead, why does Caldwell want this one smoked before Long Live the King? Or am I missing something. Something I didn't miss was this offering's brilliant usage of Negrito. In short, it's an attainable complex cigar with near perfect construction which falls in the majority of wheelhouses insofar as profile. It's really pretty neat.

PAIRINGS
Lemonade. Sweet tea. From a gaudy goblet. 

FINAL GRADE
****A-****

LESS SCHTICK MORE STICK
Letter grades are graded on a scale of K A P L O W I T Z.
K being the least, Z the greatest
Appearance W
Construction T
Combustion I
Flavors/Body I
Strength W

EPILOGUE
5:10pm
Ya know who's dead? Twitter. Ya know what I ain't a fan of? Instagram (kaplowitz.xyz).

Buy this stick from my tremendous pals and Kaplowitz Mishpucha members, CIGARS CITY. <-- that link'll take ya right there to it. An easy stick to recommend, this The King is Dead.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Man O' War Side Project Little Devil - Cigar Review

PROLOGUE
My NY Mets reported to camp today. Well, their pitchers and catchers. I'm quite excited. Don't worry, though -- slightly after Opening Day, I'll grow weary and look! A squirrel. I have trouble following a full season any longer; mainly I enjoy the background of listening to a game on the radio.

Back to this blog's cigarcentric heavy leanings: I got something special for you gentlepersons. En route to me right meow is a care package/challenge in the form of some unmarked cigar offerings. I shall blindly review and have the unveiling live on Radio Herf. Wow.

For now, I know what I'm smoking. Unlike my experience throughout my twenties. Fine. Some a' my thirties. Late teens. Lettuce just do --

THE CIGAR
Man O' War
Side Project - Little Devil
5 1/2 x 44 Corona :)
Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro wrapper
Mexican binder / Nicaraguan fillers
PRE-LIGHT
THIS IS SPARTA. Also, it's a bit like Marvin the Martian all growed up and testicular. I'm of course referencing the band. You had me at golden embossed medallions. Black, red, silver. Nice. I'm a pacifist, so I'll enjoy more the history and less the posturing which made me leave my JHS football squad. Gratuitously growling in the weight room...pumping each other up with the slapping and yelling...it's as if these guys had yet to find out about girls; I thought to my 14 year-old self.
I digress. DIGRESS!!!
D-I-G-R-E-S-S what's it spell???!!!
MAN-O-WAR
Secondary band reads "Side Project Little Devil" In black on grey framed in black and bordered in gold. Stick itself is veiny in a purposeful way which inhibits the hand-feel nil. Hershey chocolate bar even complexion with a high up under-tone of red. Some gritty tooth. Seams are nigh invisible. Short pigtail cap and a closed foot. Each end and the shaft betwixt shows superb craft. Great sheen over-top.

Hand-feel is a gruff 'n' greezy beaut. Exceptional balance (natch, Corona) and an even medium+ Charmin squeeze testing. Totes looking forward to the next hour or so, gentlepersons. Schnoz notes are a slight sweet 'n' spicy tobacco with a walnut vibe stretched out on topsoil. I cut the cap with my Xikar Xi2 gift and... full review coming soon...it cuts. Cuts good! Ugh!

A cold pull gives me walnuts and red fruit vibes. Some spicy cedar. Medium+ resistance but a tad of an airy wisp here and there.

LIGHT

4:20pm (no, really)
Remember, gentlepersons, toasting the foot is torching wrapper here. Lots of leather, cedar and both spiced sweetly. Some barnyard underneath. Draw solids up and bye-bye slight wispy. It's a good comfy medium+ resistance. Slow light. First hot pull is predominantly red pepper with a warm white pepper, very finely ground, underneath. Secondarily there is spiced cedar and a sweetly roasted walnut balance. as the finish hits, I get a nice fruitiness. Length of finish is sometime 'round Opening Day, I imagine. Mouth-feel is cushioned tingly goodness on a thus far perfect moisture level. Second pull is red pepper fronted, but not menacingly so. Carried under that is a sweet tobacco laced with fruit. Lovely, really. Cedar is really flexing, as is walnut. Leather is crisply flowing, as well. Third hot one is a meaty charcoal blast on a less dry pull with some added compost. That was different and unexpected.

Profile is a medium+ out of the gate. Strength is a -medium, but I'm braced for upping. Ash is grey and rather loosely formed. Burn is even and its line, -medium. Very fine start! ...
ACT I

Oh, this is good. Oh, oh, oh. This is very good. Dark fruit juices lay out over a topsoil backing. Forefront is Walnut and toasted cedar. Middling is red, white and black pepper (black on retro-hale) with a stiff yet thin leather which serves to display. Mouth-feel is creaming up and a faint cocoa can be found therein. Long finish is sweet with fruit and cocoa, but too, balanced by very finely ground peppers which also serve to cleanse the mouth. I should say the fruit is slight, but sweetly drives the balancing nuances of spicy notes, from the back seat of the WAR CHARIOT.

Ash clumps shy of an inch and is solid until squeezed into a talc. Nice and cool. Juices are picking up some heavy dark red floral blooms. Foot-smoke is a kick in the tuchus of leather and peppers. Out-put is medium. Draw is, at times, a tick moist. All told and as stated: Oh, this is good. Much flavor. Much body. Strength is up-ticked to medium and seems ready to ride higher on its WAR CHARIOT.

ACT II

We're burning a bit warm and the ash is a slight flower in 'light' of that. Nothing terrible -- perhaps I'm being greedy in my pulls. Flavors are entrenched and too, languidly so. An easy falling into lock-step march. Peppers notch down a tick; cocoa up. Very walnut finish. This Little Devil ain't an ash-grower, but neither be I. My schmatta is ever at the ready here.

Burn wavers a bit, but corrects sans aiding. Leather is subduing. Throat gets a lil gravely, but I like that sort of action; I'll take an extra Flintstone vitamin at bedtime. Black and red pepper, while down on draw, are up on tingly mouth-feel. Burn slows and out-put of pale grey smoke climbs. Walnut can best be described as black and roasted darkly yet sweetly so. Ash pales a tick.

At the midpoint, a bit of a sharpness threatens and is headed off by a quick purge. Fruits whisper. Dark tobacco soars and with it comes a return of leather and heightening of sweet n spicy seasoned cedar. Nice oils coat my smackin' lips. I'm rather nicely buzzed, gentlepersons. Brief floral interlude passed some time ago. Smoke is becoming smoother and body is perhaps a tick down. Flavors hold, as a whole. An occasional damp draw doth still occur. Very red pepper in the nasal cavity. Tingle is down-shifted. Packaging has not budged a single iota.

ACT III

Final act starts as a replay of the second act's onset, flavor-wise. A bit of a higher composted backing lends a dampened vibe and a slight dulling. Strength is up to a -full, but easy for this lightweight to handle pre-supper. A nice buzz. Ash pales a tick further but still won't build.

Burn is even and on a thin line. Construction is flawless, save the ash. Combustion errs briefly and only very occasionally in the form of a slight sponginess on the draw. Notes are the same, but flying closer to the ground. As band gets smoked through and Man O' War gets toothpicked, a slight draw restriction is noted and peppery 1/2 unpleasant zing finds its way under my tongue. That's just thomething I'm pethonally prone toward exthperienthing. Pluth, I do not grade into and beyond band. I will say the smoke coolly warms.

NOTES

All told, an exciting lil bang of medium-full profile and medium+ strength. Successfully manages to stave off linear tedium by making an awful lot outta what it's got. This will fall into the slight outter spectrum of many a wheelhouse. It's only a slight boundary pusher in a smallish format, and heck, do it FOR SPARTA.

PAIRINGS

I kid ya not when I sez, I sez Manischewitz Blackberry. Cola. Sweetened joe, maybe jose (Cuban).

LESS SCHTICK MORE STICK
Letter grades are graded on a scale of K A P L O W I T Z.
K being the least, Z the greatest
Appearance W
Construction W
Combustion I
Flavors/Body T
Strength I
FINAL GRADE

****A-****

EPILOGUE
5:25pm
I like a strong ceegar in the AM and a lighter one in the PM. I prefer to smoke pre, not post meal. In short, I'm quirky. Maybe ya picked that up already?

Make with the credit card info over at Cigars City. Thank me later.