Camacho Corojo Maduro Torpedo

Camacho Corojo Maduro TorpedoLike the CAO Black VR Totem I reviewed this week for the Stogie Review, the cigar for this review has a tie in to Dogwatch Cigar Radio. Walt and I were originally scheduled to appear on the show about three shows ago at this point. The show’s featured cigar was the Camacho Corojo Maduro, which I’d never tried. A little homework seemed in order, so I picked up a handful of them the week of the recording.

Well, it was sort of like studying for a test in college only to have the professor not show the day of the exam. Due to last minute scheduling issues beyond anyone’s control, our appearance on the show rescheduled for the next week. And a different week means a different cigar. So what do I do with all these smoking Camacho Corojo Maduro Torpedo notes? Well, it was clear. I need to give it a review. So here goes.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 6 1/8 x 54
Wrapper: Honduras
Binder: Honduras
Filler: Honduras
Smoking Time: 2 hours
Beverage: Water, Coffee
Price: $7.15

The Pre-Smoke
My first impression is that the cigar has a bit of a rustic look to it, and it’s not quite as dark as you might expect from a maduro. It’s more of a dark, slightly mottled natural wrapper.

Wrapping this cigar is an simple but elegant band that does an excellent job of complimenting the appearance of the cigar instead of stealing the show. In fact, the band is mostly the same color as the cigar, but there’s just enough of the textured-gold outline to keep it from disappearing completely.

A closer inspection revealed that the wrapper had a bit of a delicate texture to it, had fine veins, and was mostly smooth. The delicate nature of the wrapper did not translate to a soft cigar, I found it to be nicely firm to the touch.

The wrapper had an aroma of rich chocolate and compost and had a darker, dusty earth and molasses flavor to the cold taste.

The Burn
This cigar had a pretty attractive burn, the ash was nice and white, but tended to be a little delicate. I encountered a bit of flakiness, especially in the beginning of the burn. And it wasn’t uncommon for the cigar to “shed” instead of ash, meaning that little flaky bits of the ash would drop while the main ash remained in place.

The draw was generally good, erring on the side of looseness. As I tend to favor a looser draw, I didn’t see this as a problem.

The Flavor
The cigar opened up earthy and pretty full right off the bat. The predominant flavor early on was a dry combination of chocolate and coffee. As the first third progressed this chocolate became sweeter. As the second third began the cigar took on a noticeable smoothness on the palate. The earthiness continued and as the cigar neared the final third, I started to taste some leather and a bit of dusty cocoa. The final third took on an good creaminess and remained earthy with leather appearing from time to time.

The Price
I paid $7.15 for these cigars at a local cigar shop, and I’m actually OK with that price. I haven’t looked around, but I’m sure that this cigar could be found for less online.

The Verdict
I really enjoyed this cigar. At one point I was liking this so much, I felt compelled to email my local Camacho rep to tell him it was a great cigar. (Unfortunately, he didn’t get back to me, but I guess I could understand that, I probably came off as a nutcase.) This cigar and a cup of coffee is a little slice of heaven.

The interesting thing is that I also tried the toro size, and I found it to not be nearly as good as the torpedo. I suspect the tapered head and resulting more condensed, focused flow of smoke added to the experience.

I’m pretty sure this is the first Honduran puro I’ve ever tried, and I’m very happy it turned out to be such a wonderful cigar. So would I buy this cigar again, absolutely. And I have several times at a local shop since I first smoked them. I’m thinking at some point, I’ll spring for a box.

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Yes, and I have.
Recommend It: Yes

What Other People Are Saying

My Other Reviews
If you enjoyed this review, I encourage you to visit my Cigar Review Index to check out some more of my reviews!

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Sickness, Dehyrdation and The Palate

Happy Shootin’ DudeEven though I’ve been over my lovely little case of bronchitis (and pink eye too!) for a couple of weeks now, I seem to still be experiencing the side of effects of said malady. Don’t worry, I’m not sick, and the nagging shallow dry cough has hit the road for new throats to set up camp in. What I mean is that a lingering case of dehydration may have been adversely affecting my cigar smoking experience, and as a result, my reviews for the past week or two.

It all came to a head when I realized I was starting to get headaches at the drop of a hat. Smoke a cigar, get a headache. Drink a cup of coffee, get a headache. Drink a beer or a glass of wine, get a headache. And for me, as for the average hung-over reveler, headaches are a symptom of dehydration.

Until I realized I, like the state of Georgia, was undergoing a serious drought, I thought I’d lost my tolerance for stronger cigars. Cigars that I could normally smoke one after another on an empty stomach (probably not a good idea, actually), were suddenly working me over like a loan shark collecting an overdue debt. As you can probably guess, this was a little unsettling. I write regular reviews for the Stogie Review (and irregularly here), as well as spending a lot of times at herfs. Being knocked on your ass by a medium-strength cigar at a herf is the kind of thing that makes you lose a bit of credibility as a cigar reviewer. And look like a pansy. Since I don’t actually know if I command any credibility to begin with, I gotta focus on avoiding the floral resemblance.

During this period of dehydration, when my noggin wasn’t being knocked around like the steel ball in a pinball machine, I noticed that every cigar I smoked was unusually spicy. My palate was surprisingly sensitive to the acidity and pepper flavors in cigars. But after an aggressive re-hydration campaign, the same cigars were noticeable less spicy. And that’s fascinating. What this seems to indicate is that even pairing a cigar with water in an attempt to get a good, unaltered read on the flavors may be a flawed idea. Smoking a cigar without a drink will be a different experience that smoking one with water, because the presence of additional water has an impact on how your palate detects flavor.

Of course, some people already know that a very cold or iced beverage deadens the taste buds. (Ever wonder why cheap beer is served ice-cold?) As part of my recovery process, I’ve been trying to drink room temperature water to avoid irritating my throat. So I’m not just talking about the turning you palate into a flavorless tundra.

So what should you, as a cigar smoker take away from my random, unscientific, anecdotal thesis? A couple of things:

  • If you find your cigars are suddenly kicking your butt, you might be dehydrated. Trying drinking a bunch of water an hour or so before you light up. Consider having some more water with your cigar. Remember that coffee is actually a diuretic! (A very tasty one, given.) Without realizing it, your cup of joe may just be dehydrating you! And keep in mind some areas become drier in the winter, so your environment may be working against you!
  • If you find that your cigars seem pretty bland recently, cut back on your fluids while you smoke them. Or maybe considering smoking your cigar with something warm like tea. If cold beverages deaden your taste buds, it stands to reason that a warm beverage will wake them up.

But what about me? I read your blog, and I don’t smoke cigars! Well keep in mind that the very same palate I use to enjoy the finer qualities of premium tobacco is the palate I use to evaluate red wine and the presence of possible poisons in my wife’s cooking. (She seems to have the mistaken idea that I have a large life insurance policy in her name. The joke’s on her, I’ve left everything to the neighbor’s Chihuahua!)

But if the preciseness of your palate is not a big concern to you (or maybe even a liability if you live on Taco Bell and Schlitz malt liquor), you still should be aware of the importance of water. After billowing plumes of premium tobacco smoke, water is probably the most important thing we can consume on a daily basis. I did a quick search of the web for the effects of dehydration and came across this website that alleges the lack of water is tied to everything from Asthma to diabetes, arthritis, heart burn, back pain and migraines. And you know what? I believe ‘em.

Drink up!

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1 Pound of Beans + 15 Hours = A Month Of Joe

Toddy Coffee Maker In ActionI just spent fifteen hours making a pot of coffee. That really doesn’t sound like something anyone should brag about, does it? Unless maybe you’re waiting in line to hop on the short bus. No, as you’ve probably guessed, I didn’t spend the last fifteen hours waving jazz-hands in the air yelling “coffee’s brewin’! coffee’s brewin’!” while pouring thimbles of water on coffee grounds. Quite the contrary. In that period of time I watched a movie, smoked a couple of cigars, slept, scanned a few websites and even forgot to shower. Not a lot of coffee-related activity, you’ll notice.

At this point, you must be intrigued. “Why on earth haven’t you taken a shower yet? And what sort of coffee takes fifteen hours to brew?” You must be asking. Ignoring the first question (‘cuz that’s none of your beeswax), it isn’t the coffee that’s particularly special. It’s an interesting Starbucks blend named Arabian Mocha Sanani that I selected because it’s extra bold and happens to be a variety I haven’t tried before.

The special bit is the brewing method. I cold brewed a pound of coffee. That’s right, I brewed an entire pound of coffee. All at once. In a big white bucket with cold, filtered water.

Essentially this is what I did:

  1. Add water to bucket.
  2. Add coffee to bucket.
  3. Repeat until all the coffee is in the bucket, or the bucket is full. Don’t pour coffee or water on floor or counter. (My wife’s addition to the instructions.)
  4. Wait 12 hours. (I always mess this one up, both because it’s easy to do and because waiting longer results in more potent coffee.)
  5. Pop the cork in the bottom of the bucket and drain tasty dark nectar into a carafe.

Sounds simple, huh? And because I’m withholding information, it probably sounds decadent and wasteful. “One whole pound of coffee in one shot,” you think. “Dear god, Brian, that makes my venti-froo-froo-frappucino look cheap!” And while I think nothing lights a $20 cigar quite like a fifty-dollar bill, what I’ve actually made here is the ultimate lazy cheapskate’s coffee. (And I was kidding about the fifty. We all know Benjamin burns better than Grant.)

I’ll explain. What this process produces is a coffee concentrate, not something you want to drink straight. A cup of this stuff is a express train to Heart Explosion City, with a single stop in the twin cities of Diarrheaville and Yack City. It’s not a train you want to ride. Anyway! What you have at the end of this twelve plus hour process is enough coffee concentrate for around a month’s worth of coffee drinking. (Your results may vary, of course).

A big selling point of brewing coffee this way is that it’s less wasteful than your traditional drip coffee pot. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve brewed an entire pot of coffee only to let the drain drink half the pot. You make this coffee one cup at a time. Which means that you don’t make anything you won’t be drinking. Immediately, the caffeine elite will point out that there are special funnel-shaped brewing cones that will allow you to make a cup at a time also. I know, I have one of those too. They’re OK, but kind of a hassle. (And of course, there’s also those spendy “pod” coffee makers out there.) But the main difference here is the smoothness of the coffee.

The biggest selling point, and the reason I originally bought this “Toddy” coffee maker, is it makes incredibly smooth, low-acid coffee without the need of a chemistry set and without sacrificing the flavor of the coffee. I went through an annoying period of time last year where my stomach was constantly in an uproar about everything and anything I ate or drank. Suspecting the culprit might be strongly acidic coffee, I went in search of an alternative. I tried my dad’s secret trick of sprinkling a little bit of salt on top of your coffee grounds just before brewing them, and unsurprisingly I wound up with salty coffee. And then finally I tracked down the Toddy Coffee Maker, which I’d heard rumors about for a while. And it helped. It didn’t fix the problem, but it helped. (It turns out I wasn’t the coffee, and it wasn’t food allergies. I was eating too much fiber. Yes, you can overdo it. My doctor still thinks I’m nuts.)

And I’ve used it ever since. It’s convenient, the coffee’s smooth and tasty, and you can even drink it when you’re hung over. If you’re looking for an alternative to your normal cup of joe, or you have digestive issues, I’d recommend picking one of these up. (Alternately, Toddy sells pre-made concentrate at their online store, so you can try the result out before you buy it.) I still have a soft spot in my heart for my French press and for Americanos, but the Toddy is hard to beat when it comes to convenience.

The only real drawback to the Toddy is that you will have to buy new filters from time to time. They are reusable, but eventually the little fibrous discs get gunked up and stop working. They aren’t that expensive (you can get two of them for about four dollars), but I’d really prefer to have a permanent filter. Because they’re specialized filters, I do have some concern that should the company eventually go out of business, I’ll be stuck with a coffee maker I can’t use. For now that doesn’t appear to be a likely, as they’ve received a lot of major press coverage, and are sold at the Seattle’s Best Coffee shop in my local Border’s. And at $37.50 for the whole system, if I’ve probably already gotten my money’s worth out of it!

Oh yes, and another thing, I wasn’t paid or bribed to write this review. (Though I did try to see if I could get some swag or coffee if I wrote a review for them. No dice. Hey, you can’t blame me for tryin’!) I just want them to continue to do well so I can keep buying my coffee filters!

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Indian Monsoon Coffee Review (Blame The Cigars)

Coffee Beans!Talk about an unintended consequence. Ever since I’ve been smoking and reviewing cigars on my blog, I’ve started noticing crazy things in the food I eat and the drinks I down. Things like flavor. And I’m talking about flavors beyond “good” and “nasty.” I think I must have broken something. God, I hope this isn’t life-threatening. I have two full humidors of cigars to smoke. Some of them extremely desirable and controversial. (No, I’m not gonna tell you what I mean by that.)

This is kind of new to me, I spent my formative years training for the food Olympics. Food came between me and running around outside or playing video games. And my parents knew this. If I dawdled, they’d tell me things like “the sooner you finish your dinner, the sooner you can go play!” So I earned my nicknames of “Hoover” and “The Vacuum” and easily got in an extra half a childhood more than my more finicky sisters. My folks couldn’t have been happier. They still refer to me as the “easy” kid.

In much the same way speed-eating makes tasting food difficult, speed smoking is a liability when it comes to evaluating cigars. In my early cigar smoking days (before and during the 90′s boom), I’d suck down a hour long cigar in half an hour. Smoking that way is rough on the tongue and throat, and results in a very consistent smoke across all cigars. Tarry, charred and bitter. A rough flavor I would have called “cigar” a decade ago.

But I started slowing my puff-per-minute down once I got out of college and started smoking decent cigars in decent places with decent guys. (Sorry Shorty, your decency has been compromised for the sake of clever repetition. ;) ) That made it a more pleasant experience. And recently, I’ve slowed it down even more and have started really savoring the flavors. More than savor, I hunt for them. Kind of like the way silly folks with binoculars wander through the brush seeking out the Black-Throated Huet-Huet, Red-Footed Booby and Scaly-Throated Leaftosser. (Want more? You know you do. Go here and indulge your need for comical bird-name innuendo.)

I guess this focus on flavor has awakened my existent, but dormant taste buds. Because I’m tasting stuff everywhere now. And I’m afraid this means I’ll never enjoy Velveeta Cheese ever again.

This brings me to my Indian Monsoon Coffee. (I bought it last week at the Dekalb Farmer’s Market in Atlanta, in case you’re interested in picking some up and live in Atlanta. Funny, you can also get it through Amazon!) I bought it because the neat little charts indicated it was a full bodied coffee, but with extremely low levels of acid. In short, the perfect coffee to over consume! :D And when I tasted it, I immediately noticed that this coffee has an unusual flavor. While discussing it with some other bean-heads in the office, I realized I was talking about it like it was a cigar. That gave me an idea. Why not review it like I’d review a cigar?

So here goes.

Coffee Stats
Body: Medium to Full
Strength: Seems to have slightly less caffeine than average…
Acid: Very Low
Grind: Coarse
Maker: French Press
Price Per Pound: $5.69 (Farmers Market), $12.99 (Amazon)

Pre-Drink
I’ve noticed that the ground beans appear to be of mixed color, with some lighter colors than I expected to see in coffee reported to be full-bodied. The grounds have a rich smell, with a noticeable element of sweet caramel. (Also, I could totally smell the store in the grounds, which is both cool, and a little scary.)

The coffee produced a great thick layer of crema when brewed and I noticed that the coffee has a distinctly more reddish brown color than most of the coffee I’ve had before.

Flavor
The most striking thing about this coffee is that it’s smooth. Smooth as a stout on nitro. Actually smoother. If you normally like to put creamer or half and half in your coffee, taste this first. You’ll probably decide not to.

It definitely has an earthy full flavor, but the most interesting part of the flavor was the aftertaste. I detected dry straw or grain. My first instinct was to say it tastes like dry open desert areas of Eastern Oregon around Pendleton, but there’s only a couple of thousand people out there that would know what I mean. (And I don’t think any of them read my blog.)

It just occurred to me that the flavor kind of reminds me of Mate (or Yerba Mate), the somewhat popular coffee alternative I’ve tried in the past. (<conspiratorial whisper> It’s tea! </conspiratorial whisper>)

The Burn
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get it to light. Not even with my butane torch. So, not applicable. :)

The Verdict
This is a great coffee if you’ve got a sensitive stomach due to ulcer or just drinking way too much coffee. It’s also a fun alternative to the more popular lines of coffee out there. I don’t think this is going to become my regular brew, but I will probably buy it from time to time. (Besides, I’m a coffee slut, I can’t commit to just one bean.) And you can’t argue with that price (from the Farmer’s Market), it’s well below anything you can buy in the supermarket or coffee shop.

In Summary
Like It: YES
Buy It Again: YES
Recommend It: YES (And I have to the people stop by my office to “chat”, i.e. steal some coffee.)

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Fighting Off Abe And The Beave With Kiwi

You don’t have to look like this to be a good I.T. consultant.Sleep deprivation is funny. I don’t make the rules, it just is. Don’t believe me? How else could you explain the knock-out pill commercials featuring a cantankerous, news paper-reading beaver and a vaguely injured Abe Lincoln? And don’t tell me you haven’t spent at least one all-nighter laughing your ass off every time your lack of coordination broke the lead off the end of your pencil. Nights like that are what college is all about. That and hot co-eds. Nights without sleep, laughing outside the windows of hot co-eds. (I kid, I never did that. The windows were too high off the ground.)

Anyway! Last night I experienced full-blown insomnia. So today I’m about as sleep deprived as they come. I can’t even make it to the coffee pot in the break room in a single trip. Take for instance, my last trip for hot wake-up juice. I grabbed a Kiwi and headed for the break room, playing catch with the weird fuzzy fruit as I walked down the hall. As it turns out, kiwis, while fully functional as a fruit (and semi-functional as a baseball), are quite deficient when it comes to fluid retention, scoring only mildly higher on that scale than river rocks.

So in the shirt pocket goes the kiwi, and and back to the office go I. Normally all the extra exercise would make me grouchy, but I’m kind of shifting in and out of robotic automaton mode. I’m mentally checking in when things go wrong, like when I try to pour coffee into a kiwi.

I won’t bore you with the rest of the coffee retrieval trilogy. (Yep, 3 round trips, and the kiwi is still in my shirt pocket.) The scary thing is that I’ve been more productive today than any day in the prior week. That can mean one of two things: 1.) I’m a phenomenally good programmer, and I don’t need to actually be awake to solve problems, or 2.) I’m going to have one hell of a mess to clean up tomorrow. The part of me that checks in from time to time has been alerted to the likelihood of scenario 2.

I feel like I should leave you with a few pointers now. So here goes. (Consider the source before taking action on any of these items!)

  1. A diet high in fruit helps make up for a night low in sleep.
  2. Kiwis have poor fluid retention, but are fun to bounce of the ceiling.
  3. Don’t try to pack your lunch if you didn’t sleep the night before.

Have a restful day. :)

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