Poolside with the La Flor Dominicana Ligero

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What’s the best kind of weather for smoking a cigar? My ideal factors would involve the following: a crisp 45 degrees outside, reclining by a large fire, and winding down with a Weller’s after a sustaining, wintery meal. It’s reaching triple digits on regular basis in the Texas summer, though, so we lived out the next best ideal: in a shaded pool with a glass of rum.

I’d bought four La Flor Dominicana Ligeros for a trip to Houston, where I’d planned to grill out and relax. It is a particular kind of blessing when everyone else shows up with enough cigars for your crew, and then some. So I saved the Ligeros for a good day, like this one. Steven poured out some Ron Zacapa 23 (review to come) into glasses for me, him and our friend TJ. It was the middle of the day and the sun was beating the ever-living hell out of us. We found some refuge under a cabana that overhung the pool and lit up with a regular red Bic (sacrilege, I know).

The power of this cigar, combined with the scorching heat and cold rum, put me in an ideal state of lower consciousness. You feel the hit immediately with a LFD Ligero. The flavor is robust but even. It’s an unassuming, straightforward smoke. Binder and filler leaves are, as you might surmise, Dominican, but the wrapper is an Ecuadorian Sumatra Maduro.

Easy to light, and easy to stay lit – TJ got up to get something from the apartment for about 15 minutes and left his cigar there, smoldering. When he came back he was able to puff it again easily. When you’re at the pool, you need ease of use when smoking – you might be grilling, splashing, or otherwise being a summer degenerate. The LFD Ligero is that perfect kind of smoke. Out of the three of us, there were no lighting or construction issues whatsoever, making it easy to philosophize and screw around in the pool. I recommend the LFD for an outdoors smoke for this reason – its hardiness would do you well on a walk through the woods, at a windy beach, or on a saltlicked boat somewhere.

This LFD experience lasted a good 45 minutes with the robusto size. At a price point of about $7/each, you’d be remiss not to end a summer with a pack of these to enjoy with friends. Find a body of water, get in it, have a cool drink to accompany, and light up. Let us know what you think!

La Gloria Cubana Serie R (No. 5) Natural – Appreciating a Real Classic

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Earlier this week, a friend brought over some cigars and handed me La Gloria Cubana Serie R No. 5, the Natural version as opposed to the Maduro. Venturing back into the smoky world of cigars, he talked about how he used to smoke them as for their reliability and excellence. He did not oversell the experience. It’s Fourth of July weekend, and my guess is that you’re looking for something tried, true, and with no fuss. You need reliability, but it’s a party, so you want something that goedkope voetbalshirts kopen packs a little more potency than usual. And if you’re bringing several cigars for friends and family, you don’t want to break your piggy bank. The Serie R No. 5 is about $6.50-7.50 well spent.

In production since 1999, La Gloria Cubana Serie R earns a solid reputation as being full-flavored without being overpowering, a workhorse of a cigar with flashes of bold and spicy flavor. The Natural has an Ecuadoran wrapper, and is stuffed with Dominican and Nicaraguan filler. It’s a good mix, but maybe my taste buds are burnt or on vacation already – to me, this was quite a sweet cigar. I toasted the foot of the smoke and started off with great bitter chocolate flavors, like cocoa powder straight from the Hershey’s tub. Smoke output started slowly but consistently. I have a tendency to smoke cigars quickly and goedkope voetbalshirts they often grow hot, minimizing flavor; I slowed down and tried to focus more on the first third. Soon the bitterness moved into sweeter milk chocolate flavors. The smoke became more prevalent and plumes soon filled my entire back porch.

With the last third, the sweetness of the La Gloria Cubana Serie R receded and settled down into earthier, woodsy effects and flavors. It did require a little bit of tending than earlier, but I found it worth the effort. I was happy to take part in my friend’s tradition and have already committed to making it my own.

Photo credit: stogiegeeks.com

Weekend Pairing: Alec Bradley Fine & Rare/Red River Rye

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The Alec Bradley Fine & Rare was released late fall of 2012. I knew that I wanted to find one right off the bat, primarily drawn to it because of it’s interesting band and perfect torpedo voetbalschoenen sale shape. After a few weeks of searching I finally found one, and it was as impressive in person as it had been in the promotional pictures.

And then I promptly put it into my humidor and forgot about it until this week.

red river rye
Photo credit: Red River Whiskey Facebook Page

I decided to pair the cigar with a bottle of Red River Rye which has recently come into my possession. The Red River Rye is a Texas whiskey that I had not been familiar with before physically receiving the bottle. Nevertheless, I love a good rye and hell, I’m from Texas so I was willing to try this pairing untested.

I went with my preferred method for the whiskey: two fingers with one large ice cube. I gave it a try before lighting the cigar and found it very rich with hearty notes of caramel, cinnamon and woodsmoke. This was not a timid whiskey, but I trusted the Fine & Rare to hold it’s own.

For a second after first light, I was afraid I was wrong. The Fine & Rare came out of the gate with a grassy, hay-like flavor that was billiga Nike fotbollsskor dominated by the character of the Red River Rye. However, after that initial taste dissipated it become much more hearty, with a black-pepper and cedar flavor mingled with leather. Taking a puff immediately after a sip of whiskey really brought out the woodsy flavor and subtle sweet notes in the cigar smoke.

The second part of the cigar continued to deepen, and added little touches of dulled cayenne spice while keeping the primary flavors introduced in the first third. the Red River Rye at this point became sort of a flavor highlight, brightening those more potent cigar flavors and enhancing the more subtle notes.

If the second third signified a deepening of flavor, the final third saw it touch bottom. Now the wood had melted into a maple-syrup flavor, and the cayenne had fotbollsskor webshop transformed into black pepper. It was rich and delicious, made all the more decadent by the Red River Rye, which was now singing in perfect harmony with the cigar, complementing it perfectly.

This ended up being a delicious pairing the whole way through. The cigar performed almost perfectly (minus one small tear in the wrapper that occurred when I pulled off the band – it was no big deal) and the whiskey was top-notch. Although I think it would be difficult to find a 2012 Alec Bradley Fine & Rare nowadays, I believe you should definitely try out the Red River Rye at your earliest opportunity!


Rocky Patel 50th Anniversary

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Let me come right out and say this: I have had mixed feelings about Rocky Patel cigars almost since I started smoking.

That is not to say that I haven’t enjoyed some of their cigars, but I had not discovered anything that blew me away. I also experienced a fairly significant amount of inconsistency in construction and performance that have sort of steered me away from the brand despite it’s popularity.

I say all this because when I was told by a trusted source that the Rocky Patel 50th Anniversary was a spectacular cigar (in his words, “one of the best cigars I’ve ever had”) I was a bit skeptical. Nevertheless, I filed the information away, and a few weeks later billige fotballsko Nike when I saw a box of 50th Anniversary cigars at a local vendor I picked one up despite the slightly exorbitant price tag ($20.00 in my case).

The cigar itself is, admittedly, pretty regal. The wrapper is appropriately thick with just a hint of tooth that gives it a pleasantly rough feel like stingray boots. The color is uniform and the wrap is perfect with only a few pronounced veins and tight construction. The band is attractive, if a bit garish for my taste, with a bold “RP” inscribed on an orange bed surrounded by a simulacra of round diamonds. If you are looking for something that will announce your stick from across the room, this is the band for you.

Pre-light I got notes of oak and dried cherries. First light revealed these to be the dominant flavors, and they continued to mingle throughout the billige fotballsko på nett på first third. They were lightly interspersed with sweet notes, though they were fleeting and difficult to pinpoint. Think sparks of vanilla.

The second third gradually slacked off the sweetness to present the woodsy flavors in full force. These were highlighted by a gradually growing white pepper flavor that added a counterbalance to the majesty of the oak. Towards the end of the second I got a taste of leather.

That leather taste grew to rival the wood in the final third, adding back in a sort of deep, fruity sweetness like aged dates. These chaussure de foot Nike pas cher actually became a bit tart towards the finish of the stick, like the dates had been given a light coat of blackberry jam. It was a luxurious flavor.

Throughout the smoking experience the cigar performed very well, with no burn issues to speak of. Smoke production was medium-heavy and overall very complimentary to the aesthetics of the cigar.

I was impressed with the Rocky Patel 50th Anniversary, to the point that I will probably have to reintroduce Patel sticks into my lineup. That being said, I don’t think that they are quite worth the price I paid. Pick one up if you get the chance because this is indeed an excellent cigar, and increasingly hard to find this far out from its release.

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.

Oliva Serie V Melanio Maduro

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The Oliva Serie V Melanio was one of the most hotly anticipated releases of last year. Though it did receive an initially lukewarm reaction it has cemented itself as a fine example of a high-quality, regular release stick. I have personally sampled several of these cigars and have enjoyed them, though they didn’t quite blow my mind in the way I would have hoped. Still, as a big fan of Maduro cigars in general,

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

Tatuaje Black Label Lancero

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I have been harboring the Tatuaje Black Label Lancero in my humidor since December 2012 and, tonight, I felt it was time to finally taste it. The Tatuaje line in general receives a significant amount of critical acclaim, yet I will admit that I have had very little to do with these cigars. The time has come to make remedy of that situation.

The Black Label Lancero, like most Tatuaje smokes, is understated in appearance. The band is about as minimal as you can get, with the simple cursive label adorning a field of black with little embellishment. The cigar itself does the talking, and does it well with the appearance of a browned cypress knee suggesting a period of dormancy. Because this smoke has aged for a bit, there was some light crystalline structure forming on the wrapper which you regularly find on the ages Padron lines.

The cigar lit exceptionally easily, and immediately gave off large plumes of thick white smoke. Initial flavors were direct though not imposing. Some cedar and spice which gave way to softer flavors of more wood, likely oak, and sugar cane.

The next third shifted subtly into dark coffee and bread. The sweetness continued, and even introduced a fine cinnamon flavor on the tail end. This third was marked by its dryness, the coffee reminiscent of a rough grind that suggests the flavor of a proper roast without the necessity of water to unlock the aroma.

The fina third continued the trend, the coffee flavor deepening and introducing some leather and fine aged tobacco flavors as the smoke reached its climax. The sweetness of the stick very nearly disappears toward the end of the smoke, regressing back to its woodsy origin.

This stick was interesting yet accomplished that feat without too many stark transitions. I find blending of this nature a rarity in an a climate where deep flavors and sharp contrast seem to define most high end sticks. While I definitely love smokes of that type, it is nice to have a cigar treat you to a meandering journey evey now and again, as if it has the ability to anticipate your expectation then satisfy it almost casually. This is an easy cigar to recommend and served as a great introduction to the Tatuaje line.

Paired with: Glenlivet 12