The Perdomo 20th Anniversary Maduro – “WHOA.”


I sat down with the Perdomo 20th (Maduro) on the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend, right as floods began invading Austin and before we realized what kind of damage would be done here and in the surrounding area. It also happened to be my birthday weekend, and I had looked forward to the Perdomo for some time. Stephen has smoked it before, but it’s never before been reviewed on the site. It was a hell of a birthday gift.

Some smokes take time to develop, only revealing their true characters at the end of the last third or even later. The Perdomo immediately hit me with a wallop of rich cocoa flavor. I quote, from my notebook, “WHOA!” The cigar has a slightly flattened shape, but if I feared that the Perdomo would resemble the disaster that was the Alec Bradley Puro Diamond Cut, that anxiety was instantly put to rest.

On the second third, the rich cocoa mellowed out into more of a milk chocolate flavor. The Perdomo features amazing, prolific smoke production, and it was a still night in between the rainstorms, making it a perfect atmosphere for smoke rings. The flavor grew less bold and more nuanced, with dried cherries threaded or coating throughout the chocolate. If you’d described that to me it wouldn’t be my first choice, but trust me on this. Light coffee flavors also complimented this part of the cigar.

Finally, the last third deepened into something richer, with more heavy syrup. The smoke was almost liquid. When I stood up to take a quick break, I realized how woozy the Perdomo had turned me. Normally these kinds of smokes are few and far between for me, and I definitely respect the power that the Perdomo 20ths possess.  And since I had been drinking a coffee, there was no element of other intoxicants there to muddle (or enhance, depending on who you ask) the experience.

With a price hovering around $8.00 per single, the Perdomo 20th Anniversary Maduro is an immediate buy. Enjoy the flavors, the boldness, and getting your ass kicked.

The CAO LX2: Tricky Draw But Alluring Flavor Through and Through

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The CAO LX2 (which stands for “ligero times two”) prides itself on its potency. A hybrid across the board, the cigar sports Dominican and Nicaraguan longleaf filler, a Honduran binder leaf, and a relatively dark Nicaraguan wrapper. Like a custom computer or a built-for-speed automobile, the combination suggests a smoke with unique potential, maximizing for enjoyment and pulling together its disparate characteristics to create something better than its parts.

I had hoped this was the case for the CAO LX2. I’ve enjoyed different lines from CAO in the past, and the Brazilia “Gol!” cigar was one of my go-to favorites during my time in the humidor. I lit this CAO on the back porch with Stephen earlier this April.

The burn took a little adjusting. The fire wanted to canoe to one side, but that’s just a simple matter of turning the cigar the correct way. After some maintenance, the LX2 settled down. The first third tasted rich, woodsy, and with more than a generous helping of black pepper. There’s not a lot of spice in the LX2, otherwise – just a solid heft of flavor that floats along smoothly and without fuss. While still avoiding the canoeing issue, the second third transitioned into something toastier and sweeter. This is one of the cool things about smoking cigars: certain things are delicious that might sound odd if combined in actual ingredients for a meal. The second third sported a graham cracker-like crust or toast, but also had earthy and sweeter tones of wheat and hay. It’s a transporting aspect.

Unfortunately, the issues with the burn continued for the remainder of the cigar. By the final third, I was tending to the LX2 as much as I was noting its flavors and experience. The draw seemed quite tight, tighter than most cigars I’ve enjoyed, but the flavor remained worth it. After the woodsiness of the first third and golden wheat of the second, the finish seemed something like a chalky dark chocolate. Dry, almost powdery and bitter, but still delicious.

Remember the potency we’d expected at the beginning? Maybe I’m just a nicotine fiend, but this cigar did little to knock me over, such as, say, the Perdomo 20th might (which we will review next week). Still, the tastes were involving and out of the ordinary, the maintenance was not too big of an issue, and the price point on these remain reasonable from $6-8. Distributors in our area (Central Texas) are out at the moment, but pick the CAO LX2 up here if you need it sooner than later. Flavor-hounds, rejoice in this custom-built cigar.

The Alec Bradley Nica Puro Diamond Cut – 10% Diamond, 90% Rough

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A couple of weeks ago, before the hard rains hit and Central Texas began filling up to its brim, Stephen and I visited SPEC’s in search of the CAO LX2. I’ve had that smoke before – it’s excellent, but it’s been discontinued in our area. Need to run through it one more time to write a thorough review. With the LX2 unavailable, I asked the humidorian for something new and fresh.

You gamble when you ask a salesman which cigar matches up with your taste, may or may not result in a transcendent experience, etc. As a fodboldtrøjer børn former humidor clerk, I was often instructed or incentivized to promote certain lines over others, regardless of quality. This is all in the game and makes it worth doing a little research before you hit the humidor. Since I entered SPEC’s on the fly, I did not do my research this time around.

The gentleman led me to the Alec Bradley Nica Puro Diamond Rough Cut, which I picked up promptly and took home. I love a good Nicaraguan, and the Diamond Rough Cut is a Nicaraguan on all three fronts: wrapper, binder, and filler. I thought the name “Diamond Rough Cut” alluded to the way the tobacco was arranged or cut. Instead, the cigar makers performed a box cut on this limited edition and squeezed it a little, giving the cigar a lopsided square shape. Or, a diamond, if you want to get picky about it. Either way – this seems lazy to me, and it’s not a great foundation on which to lay an entire line of cigars.

Don’t read any further if you’re picky about technique. My first cut on the cigar was a little small, so I tried to trim the edge to open it up and allow for a better draw. This works on regularly-rolled cigars. With the “diamond cut,” the trim unraveled a significant portion billige fodboldtrøjer of the bottom third. It’s possible this affected my draw. The cigar burned hot for the majority of the smoke, worsening as I got down to the last third. In turn, the heat affected the flavor profile and I could not pinpoint anything remarkable about the smoke. Even if the heat intensified during the process, I expected to be able to pick up some notes on the first third. Nah. Just tasted like burning wood.

I take full responsibility for my carelessness on that first cut. But my gut tells me that there were more issues intrinsic to the cigar. How, barring sickness or a brain injury, can you not taste a single interesting flavor on a smoke? Mainly, I overpaid for the Alec Bradley name, the “novelty” of the cut/squeezed trapezoid shape, and my own ignorance. Don’t make my mistake.

S’more Smoke: The Delightful Joya de Nicaragua Antano Dark Corojo

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I lit up the Antaño at a good little cigar shop in Austin on one of those days when the sky only pretends that it will rain. I’d been angling for a Liga Privada, maybe a T52 or a Dirty Rat, and not really wanting to try anything new at the tail end of the week. But I opted at the last minute for an Antaño, something I’d never tried before. I toasted the foot first, took a puff, and realized I have never been so struck by flavor that immediate.

A good cigar may ease into something better, surprise you at the end, or even indicate something interesting at the very beginning. The Antaño demands attention from right out front. I quote from my notes – “Wow!!” For context, I’m not normally a two-exclamation mark kind of guy. The whole front third of this smoke stayed rich with lots of smoke production, and I noticed a little red pepper introduced after the initial wallop. I did have to keep rotating the Antaño so that the burn would stay even, but it was a joy to tend because of the richness of flavor.

The second third sweetened up a little bit but maintained most of its richness and depth. Sometimes, cigars forgo complexity for sweetness, and vice versa. The Billige fodboldtrøjer tilbud Antaño struck a perfect balance in this section. Along with the chocolate flavor from earlier, I experienced something like a toasted marshmallow and graham cracker. So, indeed, this is the most s’more-like cigar I’ve ever smoked. I don’t imagine anyone would take offense to that.

The Antaño peaked at the beginning and eased into a second third. The last third changed from graham cracker and oats to a grassier, almost nutty flavor. Seems like a weird transition (chocolate and red pepper to s’mores to Parmigiano Reggiano or hay), but worked just fine for me. Paired with just a little Donut Shop Keurig coffee, which they had at the store.  Nothing too fancy needed to pair with this $8 cigar. Strong buy.

Oliva Nub Habano #358

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It’s spring in Austin with a high of 73. That means barbecues, crawfish boils and me spending a little more time on the porch. I don’t want to belabor the point when I know a lot of you poor, Eastern Seaboard bastards are stuck with the Winter That May Never End, but the late March weather in Central Texas offers up a lot of optimism, cedar allergies and the feeling of something new.

This isn’t a new cigar for me, though. I’d been reminded of the Oliva Nubs by my friend, in the midst of discussing old standbys that we’ve enjoyed from the past. When I worked in a humidor, these Rothschilds were popular with the country club and lakeside retiree set. The Rothschild offers the pleasure of a quick, powerful smoke, with minimal fuss and need to maintain. I can see how the Oliva Nub would be ideal for the golf course or on the breezy dock.

You don’t have to be Mr. or Mrs. Moneybags to enjoy this cigar, though. Me, I’m just smoking it on my modest porch. I bought two for $6.70 each and I think it may be my go-to this season for a writing cigar.

The Habano #358, at least, is a potent smoke with a ton of smoke production. If you’re trying to blow smoke rings or want to teach a fellow smoker how, this may be the one for you. I split the gap between the lighter Connecticut wrapper and the Maduro, opting for the #358, thinking that it might be representative of the line as whole. It’s not too complex or fancy, and the flavor doesn’t change much as it’s only about a third the size of, say, a Churchill. It’s got some bold Nicaraguan filler that is woodsy and powerful, but lacks the fire or spice of a standard Padron or equivalent. Smoke time lasted about 25 minutes, but that could probably be shortened if you’re in a hurry.

I paired the Habano #358 with a Cuvee Coffee Black & Blue Nitrogenated Cold Brew, which added just a little sweetness to the smoke.

Whiskey Wednesday: C&W Visits Half-Step Bar

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The city of Austin grows by 110 people per day — a town shooting up so quickly that it’s sometimes hard to keep up with the number of joints, bars and other establishments. We’ll do these venue reviews in the hope that if you come to Austin, you’ll know exactly where to go since we’ve already been there for you. And, clearly, the venue format also gives us an reason to review some of the things we most enjoy.

Half-Step is one of the latest additions to Rainey Street, a cluster of bars in central Austin. It’s a district that began five years ago with the development of the legendary (and recently closed) Lustre Pearl. While the crowds have grown and some of the low-key vibe of the entire street has been lost, Half Step retains the kind of neighborhood bar feel that made the street attractive in the first place.

Stephen’s been wanting to go to this place for quite some time. He kept bringing up the bar’s signature, the homemade ice the staff creates for its cocktails. I thought this sounded finicky and a little too precious (“What is this, ice?”) but hey, y’all needed a new whiskey review! We tried to go to the bar once before, but it looked empty or closed. Half Step opens at 7 except for on Mondays, so we got a little nervous when it was 6:55 with no sign of life on the inside. After a quick jaunt around Rainey, we returned to find that the gate opens precisely at 7. Half Step is in a renovated bungalow with a high porch, and there’s a shed in the back where the staff makes the ice every day.

The bartender, Floyd, informed us that he’d woken up in Bushwick that morning and flown back into Austin just a couple of hours before. He asked us what kind of base we wanted and we branched off from there. Bourbon or one of the other big four? Shaken, stirred, fizzed or strained? While Half Step serves cocktails with each kind of liquor base, the bartenders all seem keen on variations of the Old-Fashioned. These guys are passionate about bourbon, y’all. Floyd took his time — no “Cocktail” buffoonery going on here. The conversation was good as we talked about Half Step’s ownership (six friends went in on the bar together), old movies (William Faulkner writing lines for Humphrey Bogart, eventually resulting in this cocktail classic) and where the bartenders hailed (mostly the South after spending some time in New York).

I opted for a bourbon with citrus, and Floyd whipped up something off-menu called the American Trilogy. Starting with Old Verholt Rye, he poured in nearly equal amounts of Laird’s Apple Brandy (100 proof) and Regan’s orange bitters. After shearing off a long strip of an orange peel, Floyd crushed one and set it sideways in the glass. The result was a clear drink, the orange peel and oils the only opaque aspects. This deceived me – the drink tasted syrupy and intense. The enormous ice cube eventually opened the glass up, but seeping oil from the peel continued to dominate the flavor profile. I couldn’t taste any apple flavor, though the brandy did give the drink some chewiness and bridged the density between the rye and bitters.

I enjoyed the American Trilogy overall, but asked Floyd if he could make something less sweet. I’m glad I did. For the Kentucky Colonel, Floyd poured out some Elijah Craig 12, Benedictine liqueur, and a small dash of Angostura bitters. He also added a lemon peel. Damn! Light clover on the nose, orange in the far back, with just enough of that Elijah Craig rich oak on its foundation. Though it smelled like a bright yellow Skittle, the taste was complex and evocative without being too sweet. Definitely the kind of drink tailor-made for a patio.

While Stephen and I were originally the sole customers in the bar, patrons had trickled in while Floyd was educating us on the best cheap bourbons. Chris, the bar’s majority owner, went around talking with everyone. Stephen (still excited about the ice) asked him about it, and as Chris explained, the ice is definitely a feature — but what Half Step really deals in, instead, is great bourbon, good conversation and a friendly atmosphere. He is dead-on right. Next time, we’re bringing cigars.

The Battle of the Beams

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We picked these two bourbons because both have been on the rise, winning awards and accolades in the last few years since their debuts. In doing so, they’ve in some ways defied Jim Beam’s brand reputation as a reliable but relatively uncomplicated bourbon. We asked whether the hype was justified, and I wonder whether Jim Beam is headed into the boutique bourbon market space with these two products. Let’s dive in.

We start with the Devil’s Cut. When smelling the glass, the slightly higher alcohol content is apparent. The nose is sharp. The glass sports the slightest red-orange tint, just a tiny warmer shade than golden brown. Sadly, even without an ice cube, this whiskey fussball trikots kaufen is just watery. You can catch some hints of maple and caramel, but they don’t infuse this bottle–instead, the better flavors just float around on top of the lightest woodsy base. The most distinguishing part of the Devil’s Cut is the after burn. If you like your bourbon a little spicier than normal, you’ll enjoy the fire on the tongue and gums when exhaling. It will last for an hour.

Though the Jim Beam Double-Aged Black shares the same color as the Devil’s cut, it smells twice as good. And if you could somehow make timber delicious, it would taste like this bottle–a strong current of oak runs throughout the whole sip. Its caramel flavor is vibrant, with more insouciance. Accentuating these two joyous flavors is a little brown sugar keeping things from getting too serious. The sweetness helps the whole sip and lingers on in the aftertaste. Robust.

I use a pretty large cube, which, based on my untrained eye, is roughly equal to 2 1/4 normal-sized cubes.

The best thing about the Devil’s Cut on the rocks is that it retains some salty pungency. The sharpness remains on the nose and in the after burn. But the wateriness I alluded to earlier cannot be avoided. The bottle is so weakened by some melted water that even its basketball trikots günstig hallmark fieriness is mitigated, removing the bourbon’s most impressive quality. I think that this bourbon would be a fine base for a cocktail, if it only had a couple of other elements to balance it out. If you like it slightly abrasive, stick with it neat and this is your drink.

Jim Beam Double-Aged Black oozes excellence with a slightly melted ice cube. The water opens up a little cinnamon, sprinkled atop the caramel that is so apparent with no water. Spice a serious spine keep the drink varied. At its best, this bourbon tastes like a salty caramel milkshake. A little smokiness can be detected, maybe freed up with the water from the replica uhren kaufen timber from before. Stephen even compared it to a peaty Scotch. Heavy, sweet, but not cloying. It’s a real delight that I’d recommend, in particular, for the upcoming holiday months thanks to its cinnamon and nutmeg components. No medicinal twang.

Obviously, the Double-Aged Black destroys the Devil’s Cut in the Beam battle. I had a little of both left over, and I opted to make a cocktail commemorating the end of the summer months–blueberries, basil, and lemonade. It was light, balanced and made for an excellent wrap-up to our bourbon battle. Perfection.

Paired with the Liga Privada Feral Flying Pig.

Devil’s Cut: 5/10, $20.99 for 750 ml at SPEC’s
Double Aged Black: 8.5/10, $20.41 for 750 ml, also at SPEC’s