La Palma Dominican Maduro Corona


If you visit Denver Colorado, you will be very tempted to drive everywhere particularly if you are near the outskirts where several of the craft breweries call home. It’s wide open, with plenty of industrial warehouses, body shops, and shipping businesses. However, resist the temptation. You will stumble upon many absolutely hidden gems. Although they are not located in an obviously close area, in about half an hour I ran across an urban winery, chocolate tasting room, several breweries I’d never heard of, and finally a tucked away cigar lounge with a serious focus on rum. That’s where this current tale was written.

Being out of town, I’m usually interested in the novelty of a new store. I try to see the new blends that may have come out that are yet unavailable in my area or simply difficult to find. In this case I asked the proprietor for a recommendation for “something new and/or particularly interesting” in his humidor. He mentioned some Tatuajes and Illusiones (excellent choices to be sure), but then said “I actually have my own blend that I sell here”. Bingo.

Now, if you’ve been to some smaller cigar shops, you’ll know that many times this is an iffy proposition. To be honest, they are usually fairly amateur. However, I am one to judge a book by its cover for better or worse, and these were clearly thoughtfully packaged. I probed a bit further, and realized after some minor discussion that this was no throw-away blend. This was an enthusiast who put together something interesting that he personally wanted to smoke. When he mentioned his specific pairing preference (Cuban-style rums) that these were particularly blended for, I knew I had a winner in hand. So, I cheerfully purchased a corona (his preferred Vitolo, and usually mine) and bellied up to the bar with a nice glass of Viscaya 21 rum (another personal recommendation – normally I’m fairly confident in my drink selections, but I’ll never pass up a personally curated experience from the blender himself).


The cigar opens up with several big flavors, all vying for dominance in the first third of the stick. I got black pepper, cedar and cinnamon in equal measure, though the cedar began to soften into something more syrupy as the the third progressed, and the cinnamon melded beautifully as the black pepper gave way slowly until it added just a touch of heat on the retrohale. The flavors linger for a long time on the tongue, and here’s where the dedication shines through. This particular blend accentuates and mitigates the somewhat cloying sweetness of the rum, forming an elegant marriage that, though perhaps overwhelming on an invidual basis, morphs into a whole substantially more elegant than the sum of its parts.

 The second third really accentuates the smoothness while adding just a touch of caramel and sugar cane without losing that toasted cedar flavor in the first. Again, these tastes are powerful, yet they don’t overwhelm the rum and vice versa. I’ll also add that the venue is the perfect place to enjoy such an experience, plush with leather couches, a well-placed ventilation system, and electing hanging lamps. It is down to earth but luxurious. The conversation with Clay doesn’t hurt either, he’s a great conversationalist and worth the seat at the bar alone. 


The final third of the cigar is an extension of the second, the flavors continuing to meld with the occasional pop of pepper as if to remind you that you’re smoking something interesting and you oughtn’t to drift off in the clouds of perfumed smoke too much. No doubt that you need to pay attention to the rum as well, though they meld so beautifully that is honestly hard not to just sit back and drift off into introspection. 

I’ll say a word on the construction of the cigar as well. There are two kinds of excellent construction: those that perform well consistently, and those that recover without any real babying. This cigar falls into the second category. Several times I was sure it had gone out and would require a relight, but a few puffs brought it easily back to light. It kept a sharp burn throughout and never had any major issues.


If you ever find yourself in Denver and want a very chill cigar smoking experience, look up Palma Cigars and settle yourself in. The blender/proprietor, Clay Carlton, will treat you right. He’s also a fervent support of our troops and has sent cigars overseas for years. It’s a great place, a great cigar, and well worth your money and your visit.

The Patoro Churchill Serie P – Dominican Standby with Brazilian Kick

Read More
patoro-serie-p-usa-ed-churchill-maduro-7-x-47

patoro-serie-p-usa-ed-churchill-maduro-7-x-47

Stephen lit up a Patoro Churchill the other night during a poker game. I have to admit that it stank. Stank like I’ve never smelled stank before from a cigar. Wet-dog-smell stank. Ol’ Steve had put in some new Boveda packs into his coolidor, and while the packs tend to even out over about a week’s time or so, it sometime takes a while for the humidity to level out. This was a new cigar, too, and it may have been wet from the store to begin with.

Either way, Stephen got me a Patoro Churchill for my birthday, as well, so I can’t wet-dog on him too much. Mine “felt” like it was at a good temperature – neither spongy and full of humidity nor dry and crisp like kindle. The Patoro Serie P is a relatively new line with Dominican fillings and bindings, but with a Brazilian wrapper. This turned out to be my first Brazilian-wrapped cigar since I smoked the CAO Brazilia Gol in 2011.

Immediately, I knew that I’d gotten a Patoro in better condition than Stephen’s. The cigar lit with ease, the smoke production was immediate, with an easy and graceful draw.

The first notes kicked off with chocolate, cream, and a little char. This lasted for about 20 minutes or so, and soon it turned into a mellow, low-key flavor profile. Many cigars don’t follow the rule of thirds, in which the flavor changes up over the course of the experience. While the smoke was tasty (and not reminiscent of an old, mossy children’s pool, as Stephen’s smelled), it was mellow and low-key to the point of blandness. The flavor never changed afterwards. I don’t want to down on this cigar – it required no maintenance at all and let me talk on the porch without having to pay too much attention to it. But the Patoro never really grabbed my attention in the first place. Still, a birthday cigar is a birthday cigar, and it was a perfect choice for an easy, relaxed, run-of-the-mill night.

At $12 a stick, the Patoro might be a little too pricey for an everyday or regular smoke. And I can’t recommend it on a special occasion, since there are plenty of other cigars at that price point that would offer a little more variety and excitement. Still, if the box was uneven, perhaps Stephen and I both missed a delicious one. Looking forward to trying it again.

Yamazaki 12 Year

Read More
img_2656-1.jpg

I have never tried a Japanese whisky before, though I’ve been intrigued by them for quite some time.

My fascination began in 2014, when Suntory’s Yamazaki Sherry Cask ranked first in the Whisky Bible, unseating both Scotland and Ireland for the title of best whisky. Yeah I know. Holy shit.

Anyway, I’d been tempted before by other Japanese whiskies but felt I needed to hold out for the Suntory Sherry Cask. So, I passed up other acclaimed brands, including the also-legendary Nikka. I needed the best.

And so it was that I found myself in Swifts Attic, a fantastic Austin dinner place with a rotating and delicious whisky menu. I debated for a while what to get, and then I saw it. No, not the Yamazaki Sherry Cask, but the equally appealing (I’d had a Manhattan before hand) Yamazaki 12 Year. Fuck it, thought I. I’m gonna do this.

I bothered the bartender (a cute blonde with that decidedly “Southern thing” going for her) and asked her to pour up the Yamazaki for a tasting. She kindly catered to my bullshit and obliged, giving me one neat, one with a cube, and one with a splash of water.

I’ll start with the neat. The nose on this thing was potent. I got rubbing alcohol accompanied by a bright polished brass aroma and a touch of smoke. Though it was Japanese, the aroma reminded me of an intense Islay Scotch. The taste was similarly intense thought slightly fruity, giving me fresh black cherry, peat, cane sugar and Mediterranean spices.

The splash of water did change the nose of the drink slightly, dulling the brass a bit but keeping the smoke. However, the flavor profile remained mostly the same. It would take more than a splash to temper this beast.

Finally I tasted the drink with the ice cube. This version unlocked many more of the subtleties of the Yamazaki 12 Year. I got ginger, browned butter, dried cherry, and sea salt on the nose. I took a sip and was rewarded with delicious cherry flavors, more of the browned butter, and a taste of caramel that had been cooked just a touch too long. It was complex and rich.

Overall, I’d say the Yamazaki 12 Year was unexpected, but mostly because I didn’t know what to expect! The flavors were a bit too harsh neat, but they really shine when brought down a bit by an ice cube (or to a lesser extent by a splash of water). Check it out if you want a challenging drink. This is not something to sip casually. Give it some attention though and you will be rewarded.

Edradour 10 Year

Read More
Edradour

What is it about gifted whisky that makes it taste so much better?

I’d like to attribute it to the kindness and thought that goes into it (and don’t get me wrong, that does play into it). But even more than that, I love the thrill of tasting a bottle that I didn’t select myself. Whether the giver selected it because they assumed I’d like the profile, or because it’s one of their old favorites, it always brings to mind a curated experience. It communicates something nonverbally between friends, and translates taste from one person to another. Plus whisky you don’t pay for is just damned good.

So it was with the Edradour 10 Year, a birthday gift from my good friend Venkat. I’ll admit I had never heard of this single malt scotch before, but I was eager to give it a try. The label is rustic though elegant, bringing to mind some of the classic distillery styles that doesn’t capitalize on minimalist pretensions. The color is browned butter and it has a fragrant floral/honey nose.

I poured it with a single large ice cube in my standard style and immediately took a sip to taste the largely undiluted character of the drink. Even in this state it had a smooth, rich caramel flavor cut with just a hint of campfire smoke. The taste lingers, offering just a hint of red apple on the palate.

As the cube melted and the conversation became more relaxed, so too did the flavors. Although I’ll admit that I finished the drink well before the cube melted considerably, it held its character even as it mingled with the water. The only thing that changed was the beverage became more refreshing. I drank it at night, but I could imagine this being the perfect scotch to enjoy with a splash of water after a day of yard work.

Even more impressive from a pairing perspective was its ability to hold up to the Opus X I smoked with it. Normally scotches require a certain amount of peat or smoke to achieve this, but the Edradour 10 didn’t waver despite its sweeter flavor profile.

I’d highly recommend this bottle. Once it’s finished I will seek it out again (assuming I can’t convince Venkat to give me another).

 

Fuente Fuente Opus X – For When You Need to Celebrate

Read More
Fuente Fuente Opus X

The Fuente Fuente Opus X came to us all the way from the Arturo Fuente company – specifically, Chateau de la Fuente, a paradisaical-looking spot in the Dominican Republic, where workers roll the cigar leaves by hand. These Fuente workers pioneered the first Dominican wrapper leaves. And with the introduction of the first ever Dominican premium cigar – the Fuente Fuente Opus X – the company shocked the world with the cigar’s quality and deliciousness. The Fuente Fuente Opus X remains one of the most sought-after smokes in the world.

These two Fuente Fuente Opus X’s have been aged for over three years, since the inception of our beloved Cigar & Whiskey community, which we began in December of 2012. And we’re celebrating in this post, y’all. Cigar and Whiskey just hit 40,000 subscribers on Facebook and we have YOU to thank.

Let’s talk about the Opus X.

The wrapper itself indicates that the Fuente estate put a lot of care into this cigar. Rich red, accented with dimmed gold to promote a sort of family crest look, it’s a play off their standard lines of cigars, which are old standbys of C&W themselves. Mineral deposits shone around the surface of the smoke. These deposits, called “bloom,” are condensations of the tobacco oils that occur when the cigar has been left to age in optimal conditions. Stephen takes good care of his coolidor, paying close attention to the temperature (it sits in the back of his closet) and the humidity (assisted by Boveda packs).

It’s a cool night for May. El Nino has tapered off since the winter, and so while in some years our summers begin in March, the days grow hot but cloudy now, and the nights return to a perfect cool. I chopped a smaller cut than usual on the tapered end, toasted the end gently, and the cigar still drew – beautifully. Stephen had started his before me, but as soon as I drew we arrived at the same conclusion –

Spice! Tons of spice that floats in and out across the draw. Salt, pepper and just a hint of capsaicin or red peppers. At the very beginning of its first third, the Opus X gives off something like a very light char on a ribeye steak. It fades completely and quickly, but you’ll definitely notice it.

As the night scrolled by, Steve and I began smelling wheat or something sweet that we couldn’t quite identify, wondering if it made sense to follow up such a char with something sugary. You do that all the time with a steak entrée and a dessert, so not sure why I was so skeptical. But the Opus X definitely segues into something like an old-fashioned breakfast cereal. I tasted a Honey Nut Cheerio in the wheat; Stephen picked up buttered toast with honey, another comparison I appreciated because it kept in mind the char.

Like many cigars, the Opus X mellows out in the last third instead of amping up the drama. The endings of cigars have a structural similarity, when the flavor condenses, the smoke output diminishes, and the quality of the smoke deepens, becoming more syrupy. This is often my favorite part – a good nicotine buzz setting in, the night getting cooler, the conversation at a natural lull. I wrote down, “I feel like I’m being rewarded at the end of this smoke,” and I did. It was hard to put down even has the stick shortened and began burning my fingers.Fuente Fuente Opus X

Get Spooky with the Tatuaje Monster Series: The Jekyll

Read More
Tatuaje Jekyll 1

Tatuaje Jekyll 1

It’s October in Central Texas. For a good stretch of our friendship, Stephen’s introduced me to the joys of the horror genre (and subgenres), the spooky fun of Halloween, the weird intersection of the cozy fall season and sometimes sheer terror, gruesomeness, and legends. He’s also showed me one of my now-favorite short stories, “An Occurrence on Owl Creek Bridge,” a Twilight Zone-ish tale about a Civil War soldier’s execution and escape. Stephen also hosts a nightly Halloween movie special for each of the 31 days of the month. It’s a special time at Cigar & Whiskey.

So, last week, we set ourselves up for a cigar/grill/porch/dog night with our good friend, Pynes, who has a Big Green Egg, a wonderful family, and two rambunctious dogs. While setting up the grill, we lit up the Tatuaje Monster Series’ Jekyll, which came out in 2014. Stephen has aged these three Jekylls since last October, and Tatuaje releases the follow up cigar, the Mr. Hyde, this year. We will review the Mr. Hyde soon and see about how it reacts and follows up with the Jekyll, but for now, let’s talk about the nicer, kinder, gentler of the two cigars/literary characters.

We lit up. The first third surprised us, with a strange combination of cream and black peppercorn – almost like a potato soup. No bacon or cheese in this cigar, though. The peppercorn would transform into a spicier flavor. As we continued on, the dogs ran around and through our legs, wanting to be petted or thrown to. I engaged with the American Bulldog in a pretty intense fight over a rubber ball that he was pretty passionate about, and the boxer would come up, put his front legs up on the American Bulldog, and try to assist me. The cigar took a pretty good beating, and never went out. Was glad to see that it held up well.

Dog

In the second third, the cream re-emerged with some light brown sugar flavors. Certainly the sweetest aspect of the flavor profile, I’m sure the cigar makers wanted to include these to indicate Dr. Jekyll’s amiable, kind personality. Smoke production stayed constant and plentiful, as you can see below.Stephen Smoke Ring

Soon, though, a coarser, leathery flavor took over, and even the spicy pepper from before melded with other flavors to become more muted. I love a hard cigar buzz, but the flavor was more powerful than the actual effects. I imagine that the Hyde will be much more powerful, potent, and unpredictable.

An unusual flavor, a mercurial flavor profile, with a hint of something more powerful to come – couldn’t ask for a more enjoyable cigar in the Halloween month. Check in soon with us when we confront the Mr. Hyde – we have no idea what is in store. Stay tuned!

The Cigar Goes Southern: Trying out the Fertitta Christeaux Natural

Read More
Fertitta Close Up

Fertitta Close Up

We’re always ready for something new at Cigar and Whiskey. This week’s cigar, the Fertitta Christeaux, comes from Shreveport, Louisiana — not the first place you think of when you consider tobacco and cigar production. But it’s a humid, green and leafy state, with a vivid, tumultuous history, and citizens who make an art out of The Good Life. Why the hell not?

It’s unclear where the cigar is actually rolled, though it sports fine Dominican long-leaf filler and a lovely Ecuadorian wrapper. Patrick Fertitta, the owner of the line, apparently researched dozens of cigar options before getting into the business. His diligence shows. At the time of publishing, the cigar company only produces two sticks – the Christeaux Maduro and the Christeaux Natural, both toro-sized with the latter reviewed here – allowing Fertitta to start small and focus on the details.

Stephen and I sat down on the Back Porch to try these out. He took the Maduro and I took the Natural, knowing that I would work my way to the Maduro later if the baseline Connecticut proved tasty. The packaging is simple, and a little old school, with an anthropomorphic alligator that is less cheesy than it sounds. The Natural had good give, and the cigars were sent to us with obvious care.

The Christeaux Natural seemed aged well before I lit it, with a good, grassy smell. The first third tasted pretty damn autumnal, with plenty of grass, wheat, and some cardamom or allspice sprinkled throughout. And it became clear that both Christeauxs offered plenty of smoke, with easy draws. This seems like an obvious marker of a good cigar, but I’m always surprised when it happens — it’s a true joy when the draw stays easy and the smoke comes with no effort whatsoever. The second third grew a little more complex, introducing some cinnamon and a little sweetness with the earlier grassy-spice, but the primary flavors remained constant. So did the burn — even, slow, and easy to maintain.

The final third intensified only a bit. The grass transformed into a woodsier flavor. The sweetness turned into more of a dark brown sugar. The tar around the end of the cigar collected and added a nice charred taste.

For now, it is unclear on where I can purchase this line. Hopefully, the day will come soon, because this was a delightfully easy and enjoyable smoke, with no frills but also no maintenance required. I could talk at length without worrying about tending to the burn or the heat of the cigar. Be on the lookout for the purple and gold gator when it comes your way. The product excuses the fedora on the packaging.

Update: You can pick one of these up directly from fertittacigars.com!

The Tatuaje Verocu: Firecrackers in the Fall

Read More
IMG_3165

IMG_3165

Hey guys. Last week I wanted something new, so decided to visit our friends at Pipe World in Austin. Picked out the Tatuaje Verocu, a new Nicaraguan puro stick created at the My Father factory. Let’s get down to brass tacks.

I started at 9:30 in the evening. The summer heat is still around here so I’d poured a huge glass of sweet iced tea. Dark brown and oily, with a good give to it, Pipe World had taken good care of this cigar and I’d been excited to take it to the porch. I toasted it carefully and lit up, enjoying some red pepper and serious heat. The intensity of the heat surprised me – along with the pepper taste, a woodsy, almost charred flavor dominated this first third. Really a hell of a one-two punch, with not a lot of subtlety in between the woodsiness and spice. Along the second third, it mellowed out a little bit, lessening its intense profile but retaining the charred, nearly mesquite taste.

Despite this, the actual temperature of the smoke was not intense at all. I easily blew heavy plumes of smoke, and the draw and maintenance was quite easy. Unfortunately, though I had taken measured puffs, the Tatuaje Verocu went out just before the last third. I relit carefully, wanting to see if there was any nuance in that last bit. There may be in a less defective smoke – I doubt this is the wrapper’s fault. Could well have been a fluke. But as is usual with the tar collecting towards the last third, I didn’t perceive much taste beyond what I began with when I lit it.

The Tatuaje Verocu is a solid smoke, but without a lot of nuance. As I mentioned earlier, it’s a firecracker cigar to begin with, mellowing out just a smidge but remaining the equivalent of a delicious campfire. Normally, the lack of variety would disappoint me, but the Verocu is so direct and intense that I did not mind. A solid smoke from a great line – especially for the price point. Pick it up if you enjoy the smell of burning leaves and fields in the fall.

Stagg Jr.

Read More
Photo Credit: Buffalo Trace Distillery
Photo Credit: Buffalo Trace Distillery

 

Photo Credit: Buffalo Trace Distillery
Photo Credit: Buffalo Trace Distillery

In the world of bourbon, there are a few names that stand out above the crowd. One of those is George T. Stagg, a pioneer of whiskey who has been associated with some of the finest beverages conceived by man. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that a bourbon bearing his name should be held to the highest standards of excellence. When I came across the Stagg Jr. by happenstance, I knew I’d have to put it to the test.

I began unwrapping the bourbon and pouring it neat. The nose was rich and sweet. Swirling it around the glass, it had a perfect amber color and lazily dripped down the edges.

I gave it a sip with no ice to get the pure flavor. I was immediately exposed to hearty cinnamon, brown butter, cloves and dried cherries. The flavors were not subtle, but were absolutely delicious. Still I prefer to take the edge off my whiskeys just a hair, so I dropped a large ice cube in and let it settle.

The ice did the trick, mellowing the Stagg Jr. just enough so that I could more comfortably explore its nuance. I was rewarded with a light caramel flavor that synthesized with the rest, binding them together and making the drink more silky in the process. It was an extremely pleasant experience.

The Stagg Jr. is not the easiest bourbon to find, but if you come across some I’d highly recommend picking up a bottle. I’ll make a brief note that after I drank mine I came across some other reviews stating that it was not particularly good. To each their own, but I’d say you’re missing out if you don’t at least give this one a try.