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Sometimes, I like Mondays

30 Jan

New pipe and knife

Sometimes I love Mondays. Especially when UPS or FedEx yell out “Package!” The pugs go running madly in an attempt to let me know that someone is there and that I might need to be concerned.

Today, I got some goodies. After reading Walt in PA’s contest I was intrigued about having a personal knife. Although small, this is a pretty sturdy little knife. It will be perfect for when I’m on my solo bicycling tours and camping. As a Canadian, I cannot shoot a gun (legally) so I live vicariously through Walt’s blog and his adventures in competitive shooting.

I got a second package today from Pipes and Cigars. In it was a tin of McClelland BlackWoods Flake, some Happy “Bogie” and Sweet Maple plug tobacco (corded). And, a new Bingham Acadian bent billard pipe. I’ve become rather fond of their pipes and them being Canadian makes them even more enjoyable. The quality is good and the maple insert is easy to replace when needed.

So.. off to enjoy! :)

 
 

Wait.. What?!

24 Jan

Enjoying the evening.

It’s 2012?

Already?

Hard to believe but the year has flown by. So much happened last year, including a worldwind of a tour with my company that had me seeing four cities (Sydney, Singapore, Beijing and Tokyo — and that was only a few weeks after their earthquake) in a matter of 17 days. In fact, I traveled so much last year that I managed to get Platinum status with American Airlines. Only to hear that they were filing for bankruptcy shortly after that.

Ah. Such is life.

Anyways, I started a habit of writing a list of things I needed to do each week. And regularly on that list was to update this blog.

We can see how successful that was.

Not.

But, my foot locker humidor is filled to the brim with all sorts of cigars I haven’t tried, some I have and some that just scream to be tried (I managed to snag three Flying Pigs on one trip recently). So I’m going to try this again. This time, however, I’ll probably sprinkle in a few other blog posts beyond cigars. I had taken up pipe smoking a little while ago as an on-again, off-again enjoyment. It’s brought back great memories of my grandfather, who was an avid enjoyer of the pipe while I was growing up. I have a feeling that historically my family has enjoyed a bowl or two because of the proximity to the ocean (the Atlantic) and the history of traveling to a new land as new settlers in the mid-1600s. Acadians (my heritage) were a hearty lot that enjoyed things like Toutiere (meat pie), a good fiddle and lots of dancing.

They also enjoyed a glass of wine or two, being originally from France. Now, wine is good but I’ve taken more of a personal shine to various whiskies. Recently, this has been Glenmorangie’s 18 year old Scotch. I managed to get a 750ml bottle over the holidays. And I’m nearly half-way through. And the only one drinking it. I first got introduced to this when on a trip to Orlando, Florida last year with my boss. We went downtown, had dinner and then hung out at Corona Cigars. They had quite a pleasant selection of cigars, including pre-embargo. My boss got a shock when they showed him one and quoted something $1750, I think. He was tempted until he realized the price was PER CIGAR, not per box. Anyways, we got a few and ordered their Glenmorangie sampler which included the 12 year, 18 year and the 25 year.

All I can say is if I had the money all I would drink is the 25 year. Heck, I’d give up water for that!

The last thing that I may write about is fountain pens. I inherited one from my mom’s estate, a Parker Cisele that she got when she graduated university. Since I was always afraid of losing it, I purchased a new one while on the road in Asia. Parker’s nibs still leave a bit to be desired but overall it’s a good pen. Until I discovered a used Montblanc that I got off of Fountain Pen Hospital. While I don’t think I’ll go and buy a new pen every week, I may indulge in posts about the ones I got and ones I’m considering. Unlike cigars or whiskey, there are only so many pens that I feel comfortable having. As a collector, certainly I can add to what I have but, to me, only if I will use it.

So, we’ll see. I think I’ll end up scheduling time in my schedule (when I’m not in front of customers already) to try to do a minimum of a weekly blog post. This year promises to be busy as I’ve been tapped to write a book for work and already have a busy schedule as far as travel is concerned (for February and March). But it does break up the mundane of life and make it more interesting to share with others.

 
 

On the road again..

24 Mar

I have so much to update here. New pipes, new pipe tobacco. New cigars.

Sigh.

So much and so little time.

That said, I will be hitting the following cities in the next few weeks: Sydney (Australia, not Canada); Singapore and Beijing. If you have suggestions of places to go, let me know..

 

Cigar Review: Felipe’s Minotaur

27 Sep

The heat of the day beat down on me but didn’t dissuade me from wanting the cigar I had been sent. It had come with a strong suggestion to eat first before enjoying the cigar. The mahogany Rosado wrapper was pock-marked with veins here and there but it still looked good.

The Minotaur resting..

I looked up to see the custom blue dune buggy go speeding by. Ah, the sounds of Los Angeles. The black band with the gold bull’s head proclaimed “Minotaur”, suggesting a mythical taste and size to the cigar. It was a decent size at 6×55 and the taste was soon to be discovered. The band came loose as I cut a bit of the cap off.

I enveloped the foot in a small swath of blue flames and watched as the tobacco turned white from the heat. A sweet nutty taste lazily wafted past my tongue. The air filled with a pleasant spicy blue-white smoke that got taken away in the ever random sniff of wind that came by this morning. The sun was determined to be king in my yard and denied the faint breeze to enter.

As I continued into the first third each puff brought a coolness to my tongue as the morning sun became the noon furnace. The solid ash at the end of the cigar was like a reverse set of tree rings, telling the time from when I first started to enjoy it until the moment of my most recent puff. As I looked at my work email, I tasted the tanginess of black licorice on my taste buds. It was definitely a stronger cigar.

The zebra-lined ash remained determined to stay at the end of my cigar until I forcibly removed it so I could relight it. This was not the fault of the cigar but rather my two panting and slightly dense pugs. Apparently good sense to stay inside in the A/C filled room escaped them and they were determined to be near me, even with the hot sun bearing down. I encouraged and brought them inside a few times to keep them a bit cooler. But this meant ignoring the cigar a few times as well.

Relighting the cigar was a straightforward task and it continued as if it had never gone out. The burn remained smooth, the coolness on my tongue continued and the dance between the sweet almond-nut and black licorice went onwards. The construction of the cigar is excellent. It is loose enough to burn well and yet tight enough to remain solid with no splits and tugboat burning. I began to wonder if there were little nanobots inside it, keeping the burn line rigid and smooth.

The cigar isn’t that complex but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes simpler is better. I imagine if I had this after dinner a nice tangy liquor would balance well with it in a cooler breeze. As I neared the end of the 2nd third that mottled ash fell off on its own as a breeze came into the yard. Although still warm the heat was starting to make its eventual exit for the day.

Minotaur smoldering..

I sipped a cold water and got back to the cigar as a giant yellow Monarch butterfly skipped along the wind into the yard. The Pugs remained oblivious to this intruder into their yard after a morning of chasing passerbys and delivery-type persons. It wasn’t until a skate boarder cluttered by like a miniature train that they got up, defended the yard and then went into the house for more determined siestas. I was left alone to the hum of the A/C and the occasional car or two passing by while I sipped cold water and my stogie.

As I got into the final third, I noticed some of the wrapper becoming loose. I suspect that this was more due to the warmth of the mid-day sun than anything else. I moved a little more into the shade and did a cursory search online about the cigar. It was interesting to learn how this particular cigar, introduced to many at IPCPR (International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers), has been created and marketed towards a France-based audience. I think it could do well here if it weren’t for the $15 per cigar sticker shock.

The last third introduced me to a creamier licorice taste. Even with the loose wrapper the long filler and wrapper still remained in place, a testament to the construction and care that went into this cigar. As I got closer to the nub of the cigar a more black peppery taste came through and nipped at my taste buds. It was a nice finale to the cigar and woke me up for the afternoon of work I was procrastinating on.

I would rate this one around an 8.7-8.9 with the price being something that would cause many to shy away from it.

 

Light my fire!

29 Mar

Ah, a good lighter. It can make the difference between enjoying a cigar and not enjoying it. I’ve always been partial to Blazer’s Torch lighter because of it’s durability and consistency. And when traveling I get long cigar matches to enjoy and share. I also bring little wooden matches for those touch-ups I might need. So when Blazer came out with the Little Buddy I was excited. Now I wouldn’t have to worry about the chain cap. And it worked great… for the first two weeks. And then died. Occassionally, it would fire up but not as a torch flame but rather a lazy flame. Once it even seemed to engulf the top (dangerous, IMO).

I tried a few things like carefully tapping.

Still didn’t work.

I tried compressed air, thinking that something was blocking something.

Still nothing.

I listened carefully. I could see the slight blue spark and could hear the gas but still wouldn’t light. I let it sit for a few days.

Still nothing.

I sent an email to Blazer and never heard anything. I was rather disappointed. I’ve continued to keep trying to no avail. The biggest challenge is that I bought this on Amazon and it’s not like I can return it to a retailer there (well, I could but sending it via mail means I’ll have to drain it first). I guess since it’s still under warranty, I’ll have to drain it and send it to Blazer directly. We’ll see how that goes.

Since I needed something a little more than my usual Blazer Torch lighter and there was a sale on the Perdomo Vector Thundra lighter, I splurged on getting that. So far, it’s been a decent lighter. I can actually light 5-7 cigars before I need to refill it. I do wish it had a clear body (something about being able to see the fluid would be helpful) but otherwise, it’s been a champ of a lighter thus far.

 

Cigar Review: Finding Peace in America

20 Feb

Peacemaker in its coffin

Peacemaker in its coffin

Cigar Name: Red 760 Peacemaker (7 x 60)

Cigar Description: Brazilian maduro wrapper and Habano binder around a blend of Seco Cubano, Ligero Piloto Cubano, Ligero Olor Dominicano, and Ligero Nicaragua long-filler tobaccos.

Cigar Strength: “Strong” Medium

Review of the Cigar itself: I had decided since I was reading Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu by J. Maarten Troost that something exotic and different was needed. I had ordered this cigar (along with a sampler) from Flatbed Cigars earlier in the week and after the challenging week that I had experienced, it truly was time to wind down and relax a little. The cigar was in a freshly made coffin. I could smell the wood as if it had just been cut that morning. I mixed up a nice spiced rum and Coke, turned on CBC’s Jazz Stream, settled into my home office chair and inhaled the scent of the cigar. It was rich with a deep earthy scent and a sweet tobacco. The length and guage of the cigar was certainly massive. This is definitely a hefty cigar and I expect it to take a better part of the afternoon. Since my girlfriend was out, I figured this was a perfect activity to do for the warmish sunny afternoon.

The cigar construction was excellent. The wrapper lines were nearly indistinguishable  and I punched the end easily. It took a little bit to light it, given it’s girth, but once going it emitted a nice sweet odor with a hint of spice that danced along the bluish hue of the smoke. This isn’t an overly smokey cigar but enough to gentle waft along any current of wind. I sipped the rum and the cigar as read about the adventures of the fearless — or is that fearful? — author while in Vanuatu. The greyish ash burned fairly consistently and straightly with only an occasional slant here and there.

Enjoying the taste..

The long ash that had developed as part of the first third eventually fell off on it’s own. Rich woody scents mingled with the sweet earth scent and my taste buds enjoyed a deeper earth taste with hints of sweetness and tang (molasses?) in the background. I continued reading and ended talking with a friend online before I noticed that I had already gone through the middle third. The cigar’s flavour was so smooth and the burn so good I didn’t even notice the two hours that had already pass (!!).

As I got into the last third, I pondered how a simple idea had culminated into a wonderful tasting cigar. Flatbed went back to basics. Yes, the cigar came in a coffin but it was a simple one. No fancy wrappings. No splash. No bang. Plain paper nestled in the coffin to protect the tasty treat inside. The tasty spice mixed with a sweet earth taste became more accentuated as I got closer to the nub of the cigar. I looked over and realized that my spicey rum-Coke mixture was long gone. The intrepid author had now moved over to Fiji and my last third was almost gone. The sign of a good cigar, to me, is one that lets me meditate while life bustles by. The name, Peacemaker, is apt.

You’ll find it if you let the cigar guide you.

Definitely a cigar to enjoy again and again and again.. I think I may try to get a few for the next Herf I have with work colleagues in May.

Enjoyed with: water & a spiced rum and Coke

Smoke time: approximately 180 minutes

Final Review Rating: 9.5/10

 

Cigar Review: A Knightly Rothschild

16 Feb
Excalibur 1066 Rothschild

Excalibur 1066 Rothschild

Cigar Name: Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Rothschild (4.5 x 50)

Cigar Description: Connecticut  Maduro Havana-seed wrapper around Honduran, Nicaraguan & Dominican longfiller.

Cigar Strength: Full

Review of the Cigar itself: It’s been a busy month and a bit. And I’m well over-due for a review or more. I have a few reviews in the works for a couple of products (Blazer’s Mini Buddy and Repuff, Cigar relighting solution) and decided to post this one on the 1066 Roth. A very sweet and heady little cigar, the wrapper is well made and almost a dark coffee colour. The veins, and there were a few, were not predominant or overpowering of the quality of the cigar.

It punched easily and soon was emitting a rich blue/white smoke. The scent that arose was a peppery spice that tempted tasted buds. As I went through the first third, I listened to the poor hapless souls outside trying to get their cars to escape the grip of hardened snow and frigid ice. Ah, the joys of being inside basking in the sun on a not-so-warm day. The cigar itself tasted of rich oregano and a bitter mocha taste. The draw was clear enough to allow the flavour through, which started a bit subdued but as I finished the first third it began to develop more.

The middle third continued the oregano and added a bit of a sweetness to the taste, almost a mint but not quite.

Overall it burned well with minimal uneven burning occurring. Most of that I was able to resolve or it resolved on its own.

Enjoyed with: water

Smoke time: approximately 75 minutes

Final Review Rating: 8.2/10

 

Cigar Review: A little Red that could

02 Dec
red-601

601 Red Habano Robusto

Cigar Name: 601 Red Habano Robusto (5 x 50)

Cigar Description: Nicaraguan longfillers covered in an oily Nicaraguan Natural Habano wrapper.

Cigar Strength: Full

Review of the Cigar itself: I knew I was in for quite the cigar treat when the pepper taste hit my taste buds before I had even lit the cigar. It was surprising since the wrapper had a sweet smell to it. The 601s aren’t known for their mild flavour and I was expecting a decent amount of spice from this. The construction was good with minor veins running through the dark chocolate coloured wrapper. The blazer torch kissed the foot of this cigar perfectly and it lit with cedar and white pepper aromas wafting up to my home office light. The ash in the first third was an off-white with hints of brown, grey and black but it was the flavour that was impressive. A nice blend of white and black pepper tickled the roof of my mouth. The spice rum balanced well against the piquant of the cigar.

The burn was fairly straight except for this one part of the wrapper that “bumped” a little bit on one side. A quick touch-up there and I had hoped the cigar would be settled down enough to do an even burn for the rest. The peppers mellowed a bit in their spiciness and added slight occasional hints of leather. The aroma, however, continued the nice spice to fill the air. It made me think that perhaps eggnog with spice rum would have been a better option.

As I continued into the middle of the cigar this stayed pretty much the flavour. The one distraction was the constant need to adjust the burn. It seemed like one side just wasn’t having it tonight. So I gave it an little extra oomph. Examining it closely I could see where the wrapper wasn’t quite tight and began to wonder if this was the cause. This was a tad disappointing since I was enjoying the cigar very much. Although this is a full cigar, I didn’t find it as strong as the 601 Green, which is a very powerfully strong cigar. The finish was a bit smokey, almost like a smokey cedar flavour. Overall a good cigar and it made me glad I had gotten a fiver.

Enjoyed with: Spiced Rum and Coke with a glass of water on the side

Smoke time: approximately 75 minutes

Final Review Rating: 8.2/10

Since I was in a holiday mood early, I was listening to some music and a classic came on:

 

Cigar Review: Medusa ain’t that scary after all.

09 Nov
3 cigars in one

3 cigars in one

Cigar Name: Drew Estate Medusa (6 x 44)

Cigar Description: Nicaraguan filler surrounded by Nicaraguan Maduro wrapper, done in a traditional Culebra form (3 cigars inter-twined together)

Cigar Strength: Medium

Review of the Cigar itself: I had recently saw the Drew Estate Medusa coffin on sale and thought it’d be a neat cigar to have for Hallowe’en or a meeting with 3 friends. Unfortunately, Hallowe’en was so busy and most of my friends were out of town that I never got to it. I finally decided to try it yesterday. I took it out of the box and carefully undid the twine on one end. I had contemplated actually smoking all three at once but decided against it. So I undid the other end and separated the cigars. Although tight together they did come apart with ease.

I sniffed the cigars, expecting either a sweet sugary or cocoa smell (very common amongst the Drew Estates cigars) or a nice mild, tobacco smell. I got neither. A bit puzzled I checked again. There was nothing wrong with my nose, I thought, as I checked an Arturo Fuente Seleccion D’Oro Churchill I had just purchased (just to be sure) and inhaled a sweet tobacco smell. It was odd to have a cigar that had no odor but I thought, eh, try it any ways.

These cigars have no cap and, thus, need no clipping. The construction seemed good, although hard to tell with the twisty-ness. The end lit easily and the draw was easy. But it was tasteless. Literally. Never have I had a cigar that didn’t have a taste — heck, I’ve even had some that tasted like wet straw and grass. Now I was flummoxed. Should I continue or try another? I decided to continue and it burned relatively fast. I had to re-light it regularly as it went out far faster than other cigars I’ve had. After a bit I got a hint of a cinnamon or pumpkin spice, I couldn’t make out which since it was faint but definitely there. Maybe it was a late bloomer?

I continued further but it was the only tease of flavour I got. After smoking it about half-way, I stopped. It just wasn’t worth burning air like this. This was definitely not a medium. It wasn’t even a mild. Whatever is milder than a mild is what this is. I still have the other two and may let them breath on there own, out of the tightness of the Culebra. If the second proves to be the same then these will definitely be on my do-not-buy-again list. I tossed the last bit and enjoyed the Arturo Fuente instead while I went after critters in my World of Warcraft game.

For the Horde!
Enjoyed with: water

Smoke time: approximately 20 minutes

Final Review Rating: 5/10

Monument Factoid: Culebra means snake in spanish and refers to the twisted shape of the cigar.

 

Cigar Review: A Monumental Tribute to America

29 Oct

CAO America MonumentCigar Name: CAO America Monument Torpedo (6 1/4 x 54)

Cigar Description: Connecticut Shade and Broadleaf Maduro around filler from Dominican, Nicaragua, Italy and USA

Cigar Strength: Full

Review of the Cigar itself: After getting back from Baltimore, my humidor is even fuller than before. It is definitely time to step up with more reviews and free up some space so I can enjoy more and.. Hrmm.. Sounds rather like a cyclical thing, eh? Ah, the things one must do to help the economy. The Monument was the last of the barbershopped dark with light stripes cigars from the Fourth of July Sampler. The cigar itself had a sweet smell that highlighted the cool, wet weather we’ve been experiencing in NYC of late. I could almost see the leaves change before my eyes as the aromas of the unlit cigar’s tobacco filled my senses. The cigar’s construction was good and nearly flawless with few, if any, veins. The wrappers were obviously done with enough care that I could barely make out where the maduro started and the shade ended. It was a seamless layering of colours.

The actual tobacco is packed densely within the cigar, giving it a solid feel. The maduro wrapper in particular had a nice oily sheen on it. I easily slipped off the band at the foot of the cigar and cut the pointed end at the head. The light was easy and the draw creamy. I almost wanted to say it was “meaty” in flavour but it wasn’t quite that. It definitely had a nice flavour of mixed spices to it. A good stout would be a nice thing to pair with the cigar. Although the flavour didn’t change much — occasional twinge of nut and wood flavours — it was nice and enjoyable.

The burn at the start was a bit uneven but it did eventually even out as time went on. The overall smoke at times was a bit voluminous but it wasn’t anything bad. The white smoke produced a nice, spicy and creamy scent. As I sat back and watched the rain “pour” sideways,  I carefully tugged the band off and ponder what makes the US great. My experience last week in Baltimore highlights it: it’s the people. All countries have monuments, museums and historical buildings but it really is the people and how they interact with those from outside that make the difference.  Monument is defined as “a structure intended to commemorate something which either needs no commemoration or cannot be commemorated.” To me, this cigar commemorates the average American who is often forgotten in the wild activities of celebrates, politics and the like. It is that Average American who made up this at the first 4th of July and continues to make it something special for him/herself and their family.

Enjoyed with: water

Smoke time: approximately 110 minutes

Final Review Rating: 8.6/10

Monument Factoid: There are 3 “Monuments” in the US: one is in Colorado, one in Pennsylvania and one in Oregon.

 

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