Thursday, December 29, 2011

My 12 Days of Christmas: Unwrapping the Humidor & a Conclusion.

Six Geese through Twelve Drummers...

I come to you, my readers, bearing gifts. Twelve days of gifts to be exact. From now until Christmas, I'll be giving 12 reviews of cigars that have been in my humidor for various amounts of time. Nothing beats the gift of one's own humidor and the treasures that lay within. So, here we go.


Previous post(s):
A Partridge in a Pear Tree - 1961 Frank Llaneza
Two Turtle Doves - Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial
Three French Hens- Ashton VSG Wizard
Four Calling Birds- Alec Bradley Black Market torpedo
Five Golden Rings- Drew Estate Liga Privada L40

On the remaining days of Christmas, my humidor gave to me...

Six Geese-a-Laying...
A La Flor Dominicana Colorado Oscuro robusto
Wrapper: Ecuadoran Ligero Sumatra
Binder: Dominican Sumatra
Filler: Dominican & Nicaraguan
Time in my humidor: 5 months

You all know I couldn't do 12 days of cigars without a LFD, right?  This cigar is one of five that I purchased the day it landed at Town & Country Cigars in Euless, Texas.  The beautiful appearance and construction of this cigar begs to be smoked.  Lush oils cover this cigar right off the shelf, age only amplifies the richness.  This cigar is medium in body and strength, with a complex array of flavors on the palate ranging from dark fruit & orange peel to cedar & white pepper.  Total Rating: 9.4

Seven Swans-a-Swimming...
A Carlos Torano Vault Liga torpedo
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Shade Grown Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan Omentepe
Filler: Nicaraguan & Dominican
Time in my humidor: 2 months

This was another Town & Country purchase as soon as it was available after the 2011 IPCPR.  This smoke was an incredible surprise, that definitely exceeded my expectations.  The concept behind this cigar is what intrigues me most.  The foundation of this cigar was developed in 2000, but apparently there was a missing link.  Enter the Nicaraguan Omentepe leaf.  Eureka!  The Vault is born and a fantastic, rich bodied smoke with great flavor.  The palate is savory and the burn is immaculate. Total Rating: 9.1 


Eight Maids-a-Milking...
An Arturo Fuente King B
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sungrown Rosado
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Time in my humidor: 3 years 6 months

An instant classic as soon as it hit retailers in 2005, the Fuente King B is a great cigar that ages extremely well.  I kept the cedar roll around this stick for the past few years and had at the very bottom of one of my humidors.  The pre-light bouquet was enough to entice me to smoke this cigar.  The burn was a little off, but the mild  flavor was dead on with a nice, long peppery finish. Total Rating: 8.8

Nine Ladies Dancing
A 262 Ideology Churchill
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Rosado
Binder: Nicaraguan Jalapa
Filler: Nicaraguan Ligero, Mexican Ligero (San Andreas), Dominican Republic Viso (Piloto Cubano)
Time in my humidor: 8 months
You know Clint Aaron and the guys over at 262 are some of my favorite people.  I've been waiting for this smoke for a long time.  This was gifted to me by Clint and I've been holding onto it for a while.  I've had several Ideology cigars before, but never with much age on them.  I'd really like to see how years can affect this smoke.  The construction, draw, and burn are terrific and the flavors compliment the espresso that accompanied it.  The finish was nice and long with the beautiful bouquet lingering for a good amount of time.  Total Rating: 9.2

10 Lords-a-Leaping
A Camacho Triple Maduro toro
Wrapper: Jamastran Honduran
Binder: 3 Unknown Maduro leaves
Filler: Jamastran Honduran
Time in my humidor: 1 year 3 months

What a gorgeous cigar to look at!  This beaut is very dark with excellent construction and almost no visible veins.  The wrapper is quite meaty, with a fantastic sweet & peppery bouquet and palate.  The smoke was plentiful and the draw was a little tight, but it wasn't a total turn off.  The cigar ages great, and I think another year would do some wonders.  Grab it, hold onto it, and then...smoke it!  Total Rating: 9.2

11 Pipers Piping...
A Kristoff Sumatra toro
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Binder: Brazilian
Filler: Cuban Seed Dominican, Cuban Seed Nicaraguan
Time in my humidor: 7 months

Glenn Case and his Kristoff cigars are climbing toward the top of my list for a Go-to Smoke.  This cigar is very unique with a hearty foundation of oak and smoked mesquite.  Sounds like BBQ, right?  Well, the complex flavors that follow and build throw that idea out of the window.  Floral notes in the bouquet and sweet cinnamon & cardamon through the core, make this a very different smoke.  The rustic feel and appearance takes this cigar to a classic-style level.  Total Rating: 9.0

12 Drummers Drumming...
A Paul Garmirian Artisan's Passion super robusto
Wrapper: Dominican
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Time in my humidor: 2 months

It's Paul Garmirian.  Period.  Ok, I should probably give you a little more than that, but its pretty self-explanatory.  The nose and bouquet from the smoke is an unbelievable mixture of pepper, dark fruit, almond, and light citrus.  The construction was flawless, but the draw left a little to be desired.  I can't wait to see what more age will do to this smoke.  Total Rating: 9.0

Well, there it is folks.  12 Days of Cigars to conclude the 2011 Holiday Season.  So, to all my readers Happy Holidays, Season's Greetings and have an amazing 2012!  Remember, there is nothing wrong with knowing you are the best!

Regards,
Bear

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My 12 Days of Christmas: Unwrapping the Humidor.


I come to you, my readers, bearing gifts. Twelve days of gifts to be exact. From now until Christmas, I'll be giving 12 reviews of cigars that have been in my humidor for various amounts of time. Nothing beats the gift of one's own humidor and the treasures that lay within. So, here we go.


Previous post(s):


On the fifth day of Christmas, my humidor gave to me...

A Liga Privada √único Serie L40
Wrapper: Connecticut Sungrown Habano
Binder: Brazilian Mata Fina
Filler: Honduran & Nicaraguan
Time in my humidor: 2 HOURS

Acid, Ambrosia, Chateau Real, & Tabak Especial are just some of Drew Estate's renowned brands and lines of cigars.  The company's founder and co-owner, Jonathan Drew has built his cigar brand from a small 8 person operation into an industry leader.

For most cigar amateurs and beginners, they miss out on Drew Estate's best creation: The Liga Privada Serie.  The Liga Privada line is not only one of the industry's finest and sought after products, but also very rare and in only limited retail locations.

The L40 is just as coveted and just as hard to find.  You read that right, this one only stayed in my humidor for 2 hours.  Frankly, I shouldn't have even bothered messing with the humidification of my humidor by opening it up.  The temptation was too great. And while "aging" this particular Liga Privada vitola did nothing for the cigar, I am certainly excited about the second one I bought and am hoping to let it go until next Christmas.

The construction of the cigar is impeccable, with no visible veins or tooth to the texture of wrapper.  There is mildly , oily sheen with rich earth & coffee notes on the palate of the dry draw.

The cigar lights perfectly and burns with nearly flawless effort.  The draw had a little tightness to it, which is indicative of many Drew Estate cigars, especially Liga Privadas.  However, while draw was not extremely loose, it was still enjoyable the smoke was abundant.  Okay, abundant smoke is a major, minor understatement.  When this stick was resting in had more smoke billowing out of it than most of the cigars when I'm puffing on them!

It is so rare to find a smoke that I regard as nearly flawless.  For that matter, I try not throwing that word, flawless, in reference to cigars.  I believe there is always room for growth and the journey in seeking out the perfect smoke is an adventure I hope that never ends. 

Drew and Co., really came into their own and with their new mantra of "Re-birth of the Cigar", the Liga Privada line has given birth to another crowned jewel in the Drew Estate family....the Undercrown.  More on that later (*wink).

Back to the L40, the flavor from first light, through the prime core, and to the very nub was consistent, smooth, and chalk full of excellent, rich flavor.

As my palate experienced savory flavors of earth & espresso to rich dark fruits & chocolate and finished off with a nice smooth dash of white pepper & nutmeg it becomes very clear to me to invest more time in this type of cigar.  The lancero and panatela vitolas are by far some of the most flavorful, well constructed cigars I've smoked.



My Ratings:
Appearance - 10
Pre-light taste- 9
Construction - 10
Draw - 9
Burn - 10
Aroma - 10
Flavor - 10
Balance - 10
Finish- 9

Total Rating: 9.6

Dear Jonathan Drew,

Although we've haven't always seen eye to eye on your cigars, let me take the liberty of paying you a great compliment.  I admit it is very audacious of me to presume that you care or word of this will ever reach you, for what it is worth, The Liga Privada L40 is the highest rated cigar to be seen on this blog.

Take it from me, audacious or not, there is nothing wrong with knowing you are the best!

Regards,
Bear

Monday, December 19, 2011

My 12 Days of Christmas: Unwrapping the Humidor.

...Four Calling Birds

I come to you, my readers, bearing gifts. Twelve days of gifts to be exact. From now until Christmas, I'll be giving 12 reviews of cigars that have been in my humidor for various amounts of time. Nothing beats the gift of one's own humidor and the treasures that lay within. So, here we go.


Previous post(s):

A Partridge in a Pear Tree - 1961 Frank Llaneza
Two Turtle Doves - Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial
Three French Hens- Ashton VSG Wizard

On the fourth day of Christmas, my humidor gave to me...

An Alec Bradley Black Market torpedo
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Maduro
Binder: Sumatran
Filler: Panamanian & Honduran
Time in my humidor: 3 months

Alec Bradley was a cigar brand founded in 1996 by Alan Rubin, who recently sold his family import business.  Rubin named the cigar company after his two sons and partnered with Ralph Montero, who is now his Executive Vice President.  He sought the advice and guidance of renowned Henke Kelner, and the brand started to come into its own.

While the company had some early success with the Occidental Reserve and the Maxx, it really caught every aficionado's attention with the herald Tempus line.  Since 2007, Rubin and his crew have cranked out 90-rated smokes like clockwork.  The Tempus is in good company with Maxx Connecticut, Select Cabinet Reserve, & Prensado.

Rubin's newest creation, Black Market, debuted at this year's IPCPR trade show in Las Vegas and has been on the shelves since early September.  I grabbed a few of them right off the bat and the torpedo, is actually only the second one I have smoked.

Leathery! Leathery! Leathery! This may become the new HO! HO! HO!  A dominant leather flavor hits me on the dry draw and the foot has a strong note of pepper.  This cigar is rich with oils and I am very excited to see what extensive age will do to this smoke. 
The ash held well on this smoke, finally falling off in the middle of the smoke.  The first third of the cigar, while dominated by leathery flavor, does have notes of chocolate, pepper, earth, and clove.  The smoke is cool and delivers a strong, yet wonderful smelling bouquet. 

The cigar lasted me about an hour and a half that never had to be re-lighted or became bitter at all.  The finish was strong and stayed for quite a while. 

I paired this particular cigar with rum and I feel that a complimentary beverage, rather than contrast, would serve this cigar best.  I have a Real Ale coffee porter in my fridge right now that I think would go perfectly with the Black Market.

My Ratings:

Appearance - 10
Pre-light taste- 9
Construction - 10
Draw - 8
Burn - 8
Aroma - 10
Flavor - 9
Balance - 9
Finish- 9

Total Rating: 9.1

Rubin's story and journey into the cigar world is one of tremendous success.  His cigar creations and blends are some of the most talked about in the industry.  He doesn't have a name like Oliva, Garcia, or Padron - but his passion and drive have jolted him toward the upper echelon of the industry.

4 down...8 to go.  There's nothing wrong with knowing you are the best.

Regards,
Bear



Thursday, December 15, 2011

My 12 Days of Christmas: Unwrapping the Humidor.


...Three French Hens

I come to you, my readers, bearing gifts. Twelve days of gifts to be exact. From now until Christmas, I'll be giving 12 reviews of cigars that have been in my humidor for various amounts of time. Nothing beats the gift of one's own humidor and the treasures that lay within. So, here we go.


Previous post(s):
A Partridge in a Pear Tree - 1961 Frank Llaneza
Two Turtle Doves - Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial

On the third day of Christmas, my humidor gave to me...

An Ashton VSG Wizard
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatran
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Time in my humidor: 1 year 3 months

In 1985, Philadelphia native, Robert Levin launched a brand that many consider second to only Davidoff when it comes to non-Cubans.  The Virgin Sun Grown line (VSG) debuted in 1999 as Levin called upon his friend, Carlos Fuente, Jr. of Arturo Fuente to help develop what would become one the highest award winning cigar lines in the industry.

In 2006, the Wizard was created.  It is the only puro in the VSG line that is not box pressed and the Ecuadorian Sumatran wrapper hails specifically from the Oliva family factory.  

The pre-light smell and draw are not as rich as other VSG vitolas, but with the time spent in my humidor, there is a much more pronounced sheen and oiliness to the exterior.  Mild cedar, earth, and nutmeg dominate the dry flavor.

Upon lighting the cigar, I botched the job slightly as I was driving down the road away from my day job.  But the welcomed smoke was a comfort to my palate.  The first third of the cigar is heavy in earth, cedar and oak flavors.  The bouquet is sweet with dark fruit & roasted nuts. 

The middle of the cigar takes a notable and complex turn.  Pronounced cocoa and nutmeg flavors comes through against the heavy wood taste. 

The finish is very smooth, with a dominate earthiness that lingers on the palate for just the right amount of time.  If I wasn't driving at the time, I would have loved to enjoy this cigar with a nice cognac or port.    The sweeter liquors offer a nice contrast from the robust earth and wood dominated smoke.

My Ratings:
Appearance - 9
Pre-light taste- 9
Construction - 10
Draw - 9
Burn - 9
Aroma - 10
Flavor - 10
Balance - 9
Finish- 9

Total Rating: 9.3

As a second generation tobacconist, Levin has pursued perfection with every turn his company has taken.  The VSG and , in particular, the Wizard are no different are a prize that every humidor should don. 
 
Levin, Fuente and I know it, as should you: There is nothing wrong with knowing you are the best.
 
Regards,
Bear

Monday, December 12, 2011

My 12 Days of Christmas: Unwrapping the Humidor.

...Two Turtle Doves

I come to you, my readers, bearing gifts.  Twelve days of gifts to be exact.  From now until Christmas, I'll  be giving 12 reviews of cigars that have been in my humidor for various amounts of time.  Nothing beats the gift of one's own humidor and the treasures that lay within.  So, here we go.

Previous post(s): A Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the second day of Christmas, my humidor gave to me...

A Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Toro

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf maduro
Binder: Ecuadorian
Filler: Nicaraguan
Time in my humidor: 10 months

Don Pepin Garcia may be the legendary cigar blender, but it doesn't take a genius to see that Jaime (his son) isn't too far behind.  Hailing from the My Father cigar factory in Nicaragua, the Jaime Gacria Reserva Especial line burst onto the industry scene in the summer of 2010.

This 54x6 cigar brings complex flavors and nuances to an aficionado's palate.  The cellophane wrapper is cloudy with oily residue from the excellently constructed maduro wrapper.  The dry draw is filled with pepper and savory earthy flavors.

Upon lighting the cigar the bouquet is filled woody and peppery notes with bountiful smoke on the palate.  I remember when I first tried this cigar over a year ago, there was a pronounced acidity that lingered throughout the core of the stogie.  However, with age, it seems to have subsided.   Instead, a rich, medium bodied sweetness begins to come to the forefront to compliment the spice.

The finish is short, yet perfect for the early evening when I chose to enjoy this.  I chose to pair this cigar with a 25th anniversary holiday seasonal beer from The Pyramid Breweries, called Snowcap.  The beer's roasted caramel malts and full-bodied taste complimented the Jaime Garcia's exquisite flavor and richness.

My Ratings:
Appearance - 10
Pre-light taste- 9
Construction - 9
Draw - 9
Burn - 8
Aroma - 10
Flavor - 10
Balance - 9
Finish- 8

Total Rating: 9.1
 Take it from Jaime, the best gift is a shared passion and honoring those you love.  And take it from the whole Garcia family, There is Nothing Wrong with Knowing You Are the Best.
 
Two down....ten to go.

Regards,
Bear

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My 12 Days of Christmas: Unwrapping the Humidor.


... a Partridge in a Pear Tree

I come to you, my readers, bearing gifts.  Twelve days of gifts to be exact.  From now until Christmas, I'll  be giving 12 reviews of cigars that have been in my humidor for various amounts of time.  Nothing beats the gift of one's own humidor and the treasures that lay within.  So, here we go.

On the first day of Christmas, my humidor gave to me...

A Frank Llaneza 1961 Cuban Corona
Wrapper: 1998 Ecuadorian Criollo
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan & Dominican
Time in my humidor: 8 months

Frank Llaneza may have been born into the cigar industry, but he became a legend as he dedicated his entire adult life to art of cigar making.  He turned Villazon & Co. into an industry power and helped develop well-known labels of Punch and Hoyo de Monterrey after the Cuban Embargo.

On March 18, 2010, he died two weeks after his 90th birthday.  One of his final, of many, contributions to the world of cigars was a cigar that bears his name.

The Frank Llanzea 1961 line from Altadis, U.S.A., hailed from Nicaragua, was introduced at the IPCPR trade show in 2009.

When I first acquired a box of the Cuban Coronas I had various issues with draw, burn, and an overwhelming meaty flavor.  As I let the cigars age and rest in my humidor, over time, they have become much better.  I now have four left. 

After almost a year, the toothy wrapper has some present oils that permeate with creamy and coffee flavors on the palate of the dry draw.

A smooth, medium bodied nutty and creamy smoke comes through upon first light through the first quarter. The ash is light gray and sandy, and the cigars builds with impeccable consistency.  A peppery note starts to form as the cigars works into a fuller bodied stick.

The rich oils are quite impressive and remain constant as the cigar finishes.  The finish is quite smooth, long and peppery.  I can't wait to see what the remaining sticks will do and taste like over the next months and years.

My Ratings:

Appearance - 7
Pre-light taste- 9
Construction - 10
Draw - 8
Burn - 8
Aroma - 9
Flavor - 9
Balance - 10
Finish- 9

Total Rating: 87.8

Here's to Frank and his wonderful story, his amazing contribution, and his great cigars. 

One down.  Eleven to go.  Just think of Frank Llaneza, There's nothing wrong with knowing you are the best.

Regards,
Bear

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Serious Commitment for Life's Simple Pleasures

"When I puff for pleasure, I'm not smoking a cigar because my body says I have to, I'm smoking a cigar because I want to." ~ David Savona, Senior Editor, Cigar Aficionado Magazine

I recently witnessed a scene at the local corner store.  I began to walk toward the checkout with the items that I intended to purchase, and a disheveled, hurried woman burst into the store and rushed in front of me.  She wasn't rude, per say, but she definitely drew attention to herself.  She ordered and paid for a pack of cigarettes.  As my turn came to pay, I turned as the woman rushed outside as quickly as she came in.  As I walked out of the store it was just in time to see this lady exhale a cirrus cloud of cigarette smoke with much anticipated relief coming across her face.

I have no cause or justification to judge this lady, but as I have often exclaimed, I find it hard to believe that my passion for cigars has somehow lumped me into the same group as the woman I just described. 

Savona's quote gave me pause, as wise proclamations often do.  It also reminded me of a recent blog entry I read by a fellow aficionado, Nada (aka "CigarGirlFL").  As much as well-made cigars speak for themselves in quality and enjoyment, almost as important is the environment in which they are smoked. 

Subtle nuances and the perfect stage can make a terrible cigar tolerable, a bad cigar not bad, a good cigar great, and an amazing cigar legendary.

No need to break the rules or feel rushed, find
your safe haven and enjoy a great cigar with
some freinds.
While I agree that there is room for argument in the smoking debate and the comparison between cigarettes and cigars I do agree with Savona and Nada. 

Cigars may have the chemical make-up, as many things do, to support an addiction, but cigars are NOT addictive.

Pretty bold statement, huh?

Not really, if you consider as I do.  While I freely admit to having moments where I have declared verbally or consciously, "I could really use a cigar."  That moment is very rarely, if ever, followed by my speeding off to have a cigar.  I don't take cigar breaks at work, nor would I want to.  Few things irk me worse than rushing a cigar and/or being forced to finish quickly.  Most cigar smokers I know behave and believe similarly.

Don't rush the moment.  Savor every second.  Drink in each nuance.  Smoke on my friends and enjoy it because you want to, not because you have to.  After all, there is nothing wrong with knowing you are the best.

Regards,
Bear 

p.s. enjoy Savona's entry and blog, here.
p.s.s. enjoy CigarGirlFL's world, here.

Special My Father Cigar Commemorates Fallen 9/11 Firefighters | News & Features | Cigar Aficionado

Special My Father Cigar Commemorates Fallen 9/11 Firefighters News & Features Cigar Aficionado

Sunday, September 11, 2011

American Pride: My Thoughts on September Eleventh

"A man's country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle and patriotism is loyalty to that principle." -George William Curtis


It's true.  I admit it.  I love my country.

Today, you will hear this a lot.  Men and women from famous celebrities to our next door neighbor will be shouting praise to our country, its troops, and doting paraphernalia that would make one think it is still early July rather than early September.

Ten years ago today, I watched the single most important historical date of my generation come and go as our nation watched in terror.  Nineteen cowards, proclaiming a higher calling, boarded four airplanes that morning intending to destroy a nation's hope and will.  They failed.

Yes, you heard me.  They failed.  While the terrorists did,in fact, destroy the World Trade Center, part of the Pentagon and kill thousands of American citizens, their ultimate goal of spitting in the face our country and disrupting our way of life, was met with utter failure. 

America hit the pause button for a couple of days, but then came back louder, prouder, and with more gumption than ever.  Standing together, united as one.

That was ten years ago.

Ten years later, our country stands at a crossroads politically, economically, and, in my opinion, patriotically.  My humble desire for today is that Americans look past their opinions about our government and current political standing to rise together in another battle cry: "RE-UNITED WE STAND!"

As Americans, even those of us who experienced life pre- and post-9/11, we have lost something.  I wish I could point to something specific, but I can't. 

I had a conversation with my father this past Memorial Day about how I felt that Americans, including myself, are all too often selfish and forget what got them to where they are in the first place.  I am not talking about one's personal perseverance or hard work, but how they were allowed to pursue the life they have chosen.

I am blessed to have family and friends who have served and continue to serve in our country's armed forces, local police, fire and EMS departments.  These men and women are the real heroes that our country's freedom is founded on.  Courage is not something you can find, I believe, but something you either posses or do not. 

So, on this hallowed day, a day that will live on in history, I say thank you to our heroes of the past, present, and future.  I salute this nation and leave you with the following:

I don't always love my government, but I will ALWAYS love my country.  After all, there is nothing wrong with knowing you are the best. 

Regards,
Bear


p.s. If you wish to send a small gift to our men and women overseas, come by Pop's Safari Cigars & Fine Wines in Ft. Worth, Texas and donate some cigars.  All donations are matched and sent to Afghanistan and Iraq.  If you wish to thank our veterans with a donation, visit the Wounded Warrior Project and donate today.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My Saturday: searching the bottom humidor


"I've been thinking Hobbes .  On a weekend? Well, it wasn't on purpose..." ~ Calvin & Hobbes
 
Got up this morning and was ready to enjoy my weekend.  I took a gander in one of my humidors and nothing jumped out at me.  I did a little digging and discovered a little gem just waiting to be smoked. 

La Flor Dominicana Premium Line Insurrectos.

This cigar must have been in the bottom of this humidor for a little over a year.  The cellophane wasn't completely clouded or anything, but there was some tint to it.  The wrapper had some protruded oils, but since it does have the Connecticut Shade I wasn't expecting anything insane. 

The pre-light bouquet was full of cedar.  Aging this stick really brought out the sweetness of stick.  I loved it!  Since it was my first cigar of the day, it was perfect.  The overall mild flavor and wonderful construction allowed this perfect burning cigar to really get the day started off right.

Here's to the weekend.  There's nothing wrong with knowing you are the best.

Regards,
Bear


Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Welcomed Return to a Familiar Welcome

“Any cigar smoker is a friend, because I know how he feels.” – Alfred de Musset

As some of my loyal readers know, in March of last year I got married.  It was a wonderful event that my wife and I will never forget.  Over 100 of our closest friends and family were in attendance, with some of our inner most circle joining us at the altar as members of the wedding party. 

One of my groomsmen, Chris Volpe, and I have a very unique friendship.  Over the course of our six year relationship journey, there have been only three occasions where we have not smoked a cigar together.  As we often tell people, our entire friendship has been dominated by one constant: the welcoming smoke from a premium cigar.

Chris and I spent many hours at Pop's Safari (the cigar lounge which I now work part-time) during our tenure at TCU.  It's the place where I introduced him to his first La Flor Dominicana, where he told me that we was going to ask his wife, Diana, to marry him, and finally where I asked him to be a groomsman in my wedding.


From left: Diana, Chris, Me, & my wife, Kris
 For the first time in a number of months, my wife and I accompanied Chris and his wife for a night of dinner, live music, beer, and, or course, cigars. 

All of us have that friend or group of friends where it doesn't matter how long you are apart, when you come together, it's like no time has passed at all. 

After dinner, I lit up one of Quesada's newest releases, the Espana.  Chris went with a Cusano 18.  We listened to some awesome live music and caught up on our comings and goings. 

Friendship is one of life's greatest blessings.  Cherish your friends and, in my opinion, cherish them with a great cigar.  Remember guys and gals, there is nothing wrong with knowing you are the best.

Regards,
Bear
Me with my Quesada Espana and Chris with his Cusano 18






Monday, August 8, 2011

Got Sol?


CAO Returns to the Scene with OSA SOL

"Brevity is the soul of wit." - William Shakespeare

Last year, the popular CAO brand of cigars became a part of the General Cigar Company. The first new blend of a CAO branded cigar since the merger debuted at the IPCPR Trade Show last month.  So, whatever your particular feelings on CAO are, throw it out the window.  Things are going to and have changed. 

If the CAO OSA Sol is a preview of things to come, then I am pretty excited.  

The OSA Sol is a medium to full bodied smoke that gave me pause to consider the new direction that CAO is now taking.  When I first heard of General Cigar's merger with CAO, I was concerned about the company's intention for the brand.  In the past, I haven't been a huge CAO fan, but it is an exciting brand that has seemed to have the pulse of the cigar community over the past few years.  The MX2, LX2 and Limited Release Sopranos edition in conjunction with the popular Brazilia line have proven fruitful for Ozgener, Huber, & Co. in the past few years, so let's just say I wasn't ready to say goodbye to CAO just yet.

General Cigar has since released OSA Sol and I was lucky to get my hands on one of these before its main release to the public.

OSA is an acronym for the region of Honduras where the blend of tobaccos for this cigar comes from. The Olancho and San Agustin valley produce unique leaves that contain lots of oils not found in other regions.  The wrapper is 2008 OSA. The Connecticut Broadleaf binder and blend of Nicaraguan and Honduran filler add to this cigar its complex character.

I smoked the robusto, which was five inches in length and had the traditional 50 ring gauge.  The ash has a very solid consistency and was light gray in color.  

The aroma was a little off-putting upon first light, but really settled into a perfect, well-balanced bouquet of rich, hearty earth, espresso, and oak.

The overall flavor and character of the cigar were surprisingly outstanding.  I am unsure what I was expecting, but this smoke definitely exceeded many of my expectations.  The rich flavor that protruded through the dark, oily OSA wrapper.  The construction held consistent and the burn was very forgiving.  

The smoke was plentiful and coated the palate with decadent flavor.  The medium bodied strength melded into some full body enjoyment by the end of the smoke as I took this stogie down to the nub.  

This cigar should retail for about $143.00 per 25-count box and should be a good value at that asking price.  Good Job CAO! Welcome back to the party.



My Ratings:

Appearance - 9
Pre-light taste- 8
Construction - 9
Draw - 8
Burn - 9
Aroma - 9
Flavor - 10
Balance - 9
Finish- 7

Total Rating: 8.7

Remember guys and gals, there is nothing wrong with knowing you are the best.

Regards,

Bear