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.

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.



Sunday, August 7, 2011

Back from the Dead!

Manuel Quesada, me, & Manuel's rep, Brad
 "There are five things, above all else, that make life worth living: a good relationship with God, a good woman, good health, good friends, and a good cigar." -Prince Sined Yar Maharg

My sincerest apologies, readers, for my recent hiatus from blogging. I need to remind myself that not every post I write needs to be a novel or qualify, at least in my mind, for a Pulitzer.  However, just because I haven't been writing doesn't mean I haven't been smoking.

On the contrary, over the past few months, I have sampled some of the industry's best smokes.  In the past two weeks since the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) trade show last month in Las Vegas, it seems I've had a newly released cigar every day.

So, here's to reinvigorated inspiration, motivation and a love for one's passion.  And as always, remember guys and gals...There is nothing wrong with knowing you are the best.
Best Regards,