Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 Top Cigars

Now that 2012 is finally over and we are a couple of days into 2013, all I can say is good riddance to 2012.  2012 was a year that saw a nasty election, attacks on innocent citizens, attacks on personal freedoms, a super storm, and numerous other things that have left most of us kind of scratching out heads as to what else might be lurking out there in the shadows.  Sports fans are dealing with a desire to post an asterisk at the end of this year's NFL season thanks to the replacement refs, and the NHL is still left wondering if there will be a season at all.  Personally, I feel like I'm at home in the midst of all of these frustrations as this has been a tedious second half of 2012.  Between the hospital visits of family and friends with sickness and diseases, my wife's emergency surgery and rehabilitation, death, funeral, and then my bout with the flu the last 7 days has really thwarted the ability to blog like I have wanted to the last half of the year. Therefore I apologize for the lack of attention this blog has received this year, but fortunately, I will have the ability to finally enjoy and blog about some of the great cigars this year in 2013 that I didn't get a chance to cover in 2012.

As a result, the following cigars are the honorable mentions for 2012.  These are cigars that I got to smoke recently but not able to write a blog about them, or maybe I didn't get to smoke them but they created such a buzz that one could not help but take notice of them:

Crowned Heads Headley Grange
Crowned Heads Mule Kick LE
My Father Cigar La DueƱa
Nat Sherman Timeless Collection No.2
Ortega Serie D

And now finally, here's the top 3 cigars I reviewed for 2012:

 #3 (tie) with a score of 90-
Rocky Patel 1961 Toro Natural and Herederos de Robaina

#2 with a score of 91-
Emilio Draig K

and with a score of 94, the cigar of 2012 is-
CAO Concert!

Congrats to CAO for releasing a great cigar!
I look forward to being able to enjoy and write about more cigars in this new year and hope that you will do the same.  Thank you for your time and passion!

Friday, November 16, 2012


This is a quick little post to keep you in the loop.

My wife had to have emergency surgery and so I've been taking care of her since she's been unable to do most things for herself.  As a result, everything has been put on temporary hold, which includes this blog.

However, after weeks of recovery and doctor appointments, she is doing better and although she still can't drive herself, or go back to work, she is now starting to get out of the house if she has the energy.  As a result of her progress, it will allow me to continue writing about cigars and alcohol and share with you my experiences with them.

I apologize, but I thank you for understanding!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Big Star Cigar

On the last evening of #CHAtweetup2012, David Jones of The Tiki Bar Online and I talked about several things.  One of which was his suggestion for me to write a series about local smoke shops in the Nashville area.  It was an idea I had been toying with anyway because a new shop had opened a few months previously not far from where I live, and my friend Scott Partridge of Uptown's Smoke Shop, was about to open his own shop as well.  So with two new premium cigar shops in the area opening a few months apart, the timing seemed appropriate.

Fast forward to last week when I took the time to visit Big Star Cigar, and my first shop in this series.  There was a small party where I saw several friends that came out to support Scott, and business partner/co-owner Tony Benken, in their new endeavor.  The humidor was well stocked with the traditional heavy weights, as well as some great boutique cigars such as Emilio, Elogio, and Crowned Heads.  There are two lounge areas, as well as a bar with chairs for those who need space to work. With Scott's cigar insider/business knowledge, Tony's passion, and being located in an area that was missing a place of this caliber, I believe Big Star Cigar is going to have a prosperous future and look forward to many events there.  Their press release follows.

Big Star Cigar Lounge Opens in Mt. Juliet
Mt. Juliet, TN – Wilson County’s first full-service cigar and pipe store has opened in Mt. Juliet. Big Star Cigar Lounge is an upscale establishment that specializes in premium hand-rolled cigars, with an emphasis on boutique and hard-to-find cigars. Big Star’s walk-in humidor is the envy of many and features a selection of 
over 30 brands of high-end hand-rolled cigars. The store also offers a wide selection of premium briar pipes as well as cigar and pipe accessories including humidors, cutters, lighters and more.  With flat-screen TV’s in two lounge areas, comfortable seating, Wi-Fi, and exceptional service, Big Star provides an unparalleled experience for every visitor. 

The founders of Big Star Cigar Lounge are two music industry veterans who share a passion for cigars.  Scott Partridge moved to Nashville as a musician and traveled the road with such acts as Vern Gosdin before falling into a career in the cigar world as the General Manager of UPtown’s Smoke Shop in Nashville from 2007 through July of 2012. Tony Benken moved to Nashville after college and spent 20 years working as a record label executive with many of the top country music superstars before making his passion for cigars the path for the future.  Big Star Cigar Lounge is the realization of both of their dreams and their opportunity to share their passion with fellow cigar lovers--in Middle Tennessee and beyond! “I live in Mt. Juliet and love this community” says Partridge. “I have known that there was a huge demand for this type of business in Wilson County.”  Benken adds, "Big Star Cigar Lounge is a dream come true for me.  I've wanted to run my own business for over 20 years now, and when Scott and I started talking about opening our own shop, it just seemed like the perfect time and perfect business partner."

Big Star Cigar Lounge is located at 3384 North Mt. Juliet Road, Suite 1100 in Faulkner Landing, and is open Monday – Friday from 10:00AM to 8:00PM; Saturdays from 10:00AM – 7:00PM and Sundays from Noon – 6:00 PM. The phone number is 615-288-4084.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Emilio Draig K

Emilio, the new kid with serious clout on the boutique block, recently released the limited Draig K.  And I'm sure you've noticed the buzz about this company and it's latest offering all over the web. So, with this kind of excitement, I decided to pop over to a local cigar shop to pick it up and tried it out in the Toro.  (Now, there was a notice from Emilio that unfortunately the cigars were a little damp from when they were shipped and that the cigars should be given 3-4 days to dry out a bit.  I dry boxed mine for 2 days before trying it because I wanted to review it before #CHAtweetup2012.)  I ended up pairing this with Chivas Regal 12 year Scotch.

Behind the pink dragon on the band (homage to Gary Griffith's Welsh heritage), the Draig K has a beautiful, slightly oily dark Colombian wrapper showing virtually no veins.  There didn't seem to be any issues with the wrapper or cap, but it was a bit springy from probably not drying it a little more.  I picked up notes of hay and probably the sweetest tobacco scent I've ever had.  I toasted the foot with relative ease and had a good amount of smoke as a result.

Into the first third and I found a woody taste, like oak, as well as earthy notes.  I even found just a hint of chocolate as a treat.  However, I quickly found that I had a bit of a burn issue from the thick wrapper that was still a bit more moist than is ideal, but as I said, that was my fault for not giving it another day or so to dry as was suggested. Nothing that a quick touch up wouldn't fix.

Entering into the middle third, I got a nutty flavor and also discovered what I would consider a berry taste.
More like a blueberry than blackberry or raspberry.  It almost felt like breakfast...but with scotch instead of O.J. 

Rounding out the cigar in the final third, oak returned with hints of leather, graham and chocolate.  Nothing was ever harsh as this seemed to be really well-balanced.  It was even milder than I thought it would be, but still on the medium/full side of things. It had a great draw throughout, and despite the touch-ups (which was more my fault for not wanting to wait another couple of days), this was a great cigar and something I would recommend.  I give this Emilio offering a 91.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

National Rum Day 2012

If you've been following this blog for a while, I'm sure you probably remember my post last year which briefly mentioning that August the 16th has been dubbed "National Rum Day".  Last year was the first year I had heard of such a monster and thought I'd make mention of it just because it involves my favorite spirit: rum.  Also, I thought I'd mention it as a way to segue into Bacardi's newest spiced rum offering, the OAKHEART, which would be a review I did shortly afterwards. 

But that was then, and this is now.  It seems that there has been more credence given to this pseudo-recognized day by the press, and maybe it is slowly catching on with mainstream culture after all (thanks to inclusions in Forbes and the Washington Post to name but a few).  But why give any spirit it's own day?  Why would it merit such recognition?

The honest answer would be, it doesn't.  This is just a marketing ploy by the companies to get you to by their product on this day and that is all.  It's all about making money, right?


But  maybe it does deserve such merit.  After all, traveling by ship between the old world and the new was long and arduous.  Fresh drinking water was difficult to come by out on the seas.  Stored in casks, clean water eventually developed algae and became slimy thereby making it undrinkable and sickening. A solution was needed, and after Britain's conquest of Jamaica in 1655, rum became a viable option as part of a sailor's rations while out on the seas.  And for the better part of two centuries, it became regulation in the Royal Navy.

So maybe we should, after all, pay homage to the drink that helped those sailing ships across the Atlantic, affording countless millions the opportunity to start new lives and help found a new country.  I can't think of no better reason to have a nationally recognized day than that.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Herederos de Robaina

Emilio Cigars recently reached an agreement with American Caribbean Tobacco to distribute Herederos de Robaina in the US.  Manufactured in Esteli, Nicaragua, this boutique line utilizes the classic blending methods from the Godfather of Cuban Tobacco, Alejandro Robaina.  There will be four sizes: Robusto, Toro, Torpedo, and Churchill in both 10 and 20 count boxes.  One can expect exact pricing and product information in September.

 For this review, I smoked the Robusto and paired it with some Eagle Rare single barrel bourbon.  The cigar was chocolate-y brown, but had only the slightest bit of a sheen.  Rolling the cigar between my fingers, I noticed that the veins were small and the stick had a bit of a spring when gently squeezed.  I smelled hay and some earthy notes on the wrapper and a faint manure and cocoa smell at the foot.  After clipping, the stick had a nice cold draw with a bit of sweet tobacco on my lips.

I toasted the foot and smoke billowed upwards as I smelled sweet tobacco in the air.  I also noted some creaminess with a bit of  barnyard and tobacco in the 1st third of the cigar.  It kind of reminded me of childhood while visiting extended family.  My uncles had barns and livestock while their neighbors raised tobacco. The smells would commingle in the breeze and those experiences became a part of my childhood. Now, those smells take me back to a more innocent and curious time.

As I reached the 2nd third, things became richer with spice and pepper.  It was a solid change without being overpowering. The draw had been excellent and the burn continued to be pretty even.  The ash was firm and held together well until I tapped it off at around an inch and a half.  It was at this time that I needed to relight.

As the middle third transitioned into the last, the flavors regressed to a more mellow profile.  Sweetness and a hint of cocoa rounded out the diminished spice from the previous segment. The draw remained excellent throughout and the smoke plentiful.  The burn stayed fairly even and I only needed a minor relight. Well constructed and flavorful, I'll gladly add this medium bodied cigar to my humidor. Herederos de Robaina was definitely a great addition to Emilio's portfolio and is another reason why Emilio has become a stand out in the boutique arena.  They are well worth watching grow over the next year.  I give this little gem a score of 90.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Room 101 San Andres Pre-Release

I had the opportunity to try out the Room 101 San Andres back in March with every intention of blogging about it.  I gave it a thumbs up on my Facebook and Twitter profiles, but never actually wrote out a proper review. I became rather busy in the the Spring and early Summer and overlooked this cigar.  I've enjoyed hearing feedback from people thanking me for my different tasting notes, so I thought it wise to dig up my photos and notes and write one now that I've had more free time to do so.

The San Andres had a nice milk chocolate Mexican wrapper with a bit of an oily sheen.  The construction seemed to be solid but it did have a slightly larger vein then I would have liked to had.  The binder was a Honduran Corojo with Honduran and Dominican, Corojo and Criollo fillers.  Prior to lighting, I noticed the foot had a sweet smell of tobacco and hay.

The stick lit easily and smoke was prevalent upon my first few draws.  I noticed some cedar and spice with pepper being the predominant  flavor.  The spice and pepper tapered as I progressed into the next third.  In the 2nd third, the cigar became a little creamy with a surprising leathery note that hit right in the middle of the stick.  By the time I got to the end of the middle third, the leather presence had left with the cream and spiciness remaining.

Into the final stretch, the spice and pepper was joined by a bit of earthiness and hints of cocoa and coffee.  The burn was a bit of an issue and required touching up due to a poor burn.  But all-in-all, this medium bodied cigar had a really nice flavor profile and I would recommend it to someone else looking for something new to try. After all, "It's Boofy Baby".  I give this cigar an 89.