New Cigar Shop Finder: CigarPlaces.com

Arganese Double Wrap ChairmansAs I’ve seen it reported on Cigar Command and Today’s Cigar Reviews and News (kudos for the find guys!), there’s a brand new resource out there for people in search of a good place to buy or enjoy a fine cigar. And the best part, it is has an easy to remember URL: CigarPlaces.com.

What the website is, essentially, is a customized mash-up of Google Maps that allows you to ad your favorite cigar-friendly establishment or search for shops based upon a U.S. city. Simple enough, right? But then many of the best ideas are shockingly simple. In speaking with my good friend Jesse from Cigar Jack, our initial thought was “Man, why didn’t I think of that?” With all the frenzied rush to outlaw smoking in every place under the sun, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a place where you can still indulge in a premium smoke!

So Cigar Places definitely a website I’d recommend all cigar enthusiasts take advantage of. If for no other reason than to make it easier for those of us who spend time on the road to find a smoke shop when we find ourselves away from home. As with a lot of things on the web, the more it’s used, the more useful it becomes.

OK, now that I’ve lavished praise on this great new website, here are a few things I’d really like to see added in the future:

  • International listings. I think the site supports this, but it isn’t obvious.
  • The ability to search on a whole state in addition to a city or state.
  • I’d like to see shops in nearby cities as well as the city I searched. Searching for Atlanta excludes shops in Alpharetta. Perhaps this is a feature we could switch on or something.
  • A larger map view. Perhaps a link to go “full screen” or something.
  • Special markers for manufacturers.
  • Maybe some sort of rating or review system. (Yeah, I’m really going out on a limb here.)

Of course, the website is new, and is a great resource as is. I’m just throwing out some ideas. Do you have any ideas? Now go add your favorite smoke shop to the list!

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The Cross-Country Pub Crawl

Brian and Wife at Cooper Smith’sIt wasn’t planned. Originally, when I was thinking about the roadtrip, I envisioned a rolling herf. A sedan with a perpetual haze and rich smell of tobacco permanently infused into the vehicle’s upholstery. Well, that’s not quite the way things worked out.

It may have been our lack of luck in finding decent tobacconists in our travels. (Google maps, it seems, is unable to distinguish between convenience stores and cigar shops.) Or it could be that my co-pilot, Mr. “Monkey Poo” Harris didn’t like to smoke while he was driving. Either way, the air was a lot less hazy in that cabin than I expected. That isn’t to say we didn’t smoke some good cigars. We definitely did. But what stole the show was the brew pubs and their small scale microbrews.

It started out by accident. We pulled over in Hood River, OR to stop for lunch, and noticed a sign for the Full Sail Brewing Company and decided to stop in to have some good pub food and a beer. Once we were in there, we decided, what the heck, why not do a sampler? And then it happened again in Salt Lake City, UT. After that it became a mission. And then after a few more, we started keeping score. By the end of the trip, we had done samplers at seven different brewpubs in seven different states, and had ranked them from best to worst after several lengthy discussions.

So here’s where we went, what we drank and what we thought of it, beginning with the pub we liked the least, and working up to our favorite. Enjoy!

Squatters Sampler

#7 Sqatters Pub Brewery
Salt Lake City, UT
In spite of the great atmosphere and funny drink names (“Poligamy Porter”) the brews just didn’t cut the mustard. But it’s not entirely their fault, unless you blame them for opening up shop in a city (or state?) that doesn’t allow draught beer to have a higher alcohol content than 3.2%. So as you might expect, these initially promising beers had a very watery, unsatisfying finish. The beers we had here quickly became a yardstick by which we compared other breweries offerings.

5 Seasons Sampler

#6 5 Seasons Brewing
Atlanta, GA
It pains me that a local Atlanta brewpub ranked so low in our esteem. Between the ill-prepared, overpriced food (Four bucks for a small plate of cold edamame? C’mon! And those crutons were very stale!), poor service (our waiter was clearly hating his job) and uninspired beer, we had no choice to put this almost at the end of the list. Almost the end. The beer here, while nothing to get excited about, at least it wasn’t like drinking colored water. There is hope for this place, the two beers they were out of when we visited may be fantastic. And maybe that waiter will wake up and realize his calling isn’t food service.

Bluegrass Sampler

#5 Bluegrass Brewing Company
Louisville, KY
The funny thing about this brew pub is that the best beers they make weren’t available in the sampler! We had several great ones at an Irish pub next door, including a tasty stout that didn’t appear on the menu and isn’t listed on the website. Overall, these beers were kind of hit and miss. Aside from the tasty Bourbon Barrel Smoked Porter and the stout with the long name I’ve forgotten, the most memorable was the Dort which tasted very much like bananas. Very much. Mr. “Monkey Poo” Harris also was very keen on the Drunkelweizen.

Granite City Sampler

#4 Granite City Brewery
Sioux Falls, MN SD
This pub was another complete surprise. By the time we rolled into Sioux Falls, we were dead tired, and would have settled for any place to get a burger before hitting the sack. We walked in, and hot damn, it was a brewery. It was around this time that we realized that our calling on this trip was to sample and review as many beers as possible.

We were a little conflicted about putting this on the list, though. It wasn’t that the beer wasn’t good. In fact, it was all very tasty. The thing is that the establishment isn’t a pure microbrewery. It’s part of a chain. And in an effort to maintain a consistent quality in their beers, their wort/unfinished-pre-beer is shipped in, and the final stages of the process takes place locally. Mr. Monkey Poo is a bit of a purist, but I’m a bit of a slacker. And since I’m the one writing the blog, I’m gonna let ‘em slide on this technicality. They were very nice (the manager came out and talked with us at length about the beer and the business) and the beer was good. That’s enough for me.

I’d say more about the beers specifically, but I can’t seem to get to their beer list on the website! I can say that I don’t recall disliking a single one.

Full Sail Sampler

#3 Full Sail Brewing Company
Hood River, OR
I’m probably a bit biased, as an Oregon native from Portland, but there’s plenty of Portland beer available, so there’s no need to artificially inflate the ratings of an single Oregon beer. As with Granite City’s brews, the entire Full Sail line was very enjoyable, but there was clearly a star of the show. Since I’ve been away, a beer called Session seems to have become a very, very popular brew in the area. And I can see why. I tasted it and was immediately in love. Light, flavorful, crisp and refreshing. An excellent summer beer. I liked it so much, I bought a case of the little grenade-shaped bottles it comes in and drove it all the way out to Atlanta. And that’s saying something. There were only three beers I brought back with me, and the other two were Golden Valley’s Red Thistle Ale and New Belgium’s Fat Tire. That’s very good company to be in. (To be fair, Bridgeport is available out here, otherwise I would have brought that out here too. Though the porter isn’t, and I couldn’t find any… :( )

Funny thing about the “grenade” shape. One of those babies went off between Kentucky and Tennessee! My trunk still smells like beer!

Yazoo Sampler

#2 Yazoo Brewing Company
Nashville, TN
This taster almost didn’t happen. When Google maps lead us to an old warehouse with no signage in a sketchy part of Nashville (complete with bridges and rough looking vagrants hanging out under those bridges), we nearly left. When we walked in and there was no seating, we nearly left. When we discovered that they didn’t sell food, we nearly left. Fortunately, less sober heads prevailed and we worked out way up to the bar and snagged a table at the same time.

As you can probably tell from the picture above, the “samplers” we ordered were less like samples and more like a round of drinks for a sales department lunch. Immediately we had a warm fuzzy for the place, and it wasn’t too long before warm and fuzzy was all we had going on.

It’s hard to say a beer stood out here, they were all excellent. I know I really enjoyed their “Hop Project” super-duper experimental IPA (I forget the exact name), as well as the ESB and the porter. Heck, I just love that they make a porter. I don’t see a lot of those anymore, and it’s a tasty beer.

So there’s good news and bad news about this place. The bad news is that it looks like you can only get their beer in Tennessee. The good news (for me that is), is that it’s close enough for me that I’d consider a quick weekend trip up there to pick up a Growler or two.

If you happen to be passing through the area, don’t miss this gem!

CooperSmith’s Sampler

#1 CooperSmith’s Pub & Brewing
Fort Collins, CO
As soon as I saw they had chili beer on menu, I knew I’d found a special place. That’s right, chili beer. As in hot chilis. I know that probably sounds weird, but believe me it’s good. It’s good enough that it’s on their menu year round! It’s more of a distinct jalapeño flavor in the aftertaste than a noticeable flavor during the drink. Think of it like drinking alcoholic nachos. No, on second thought, don’t. Oh yeah, and I forgot about the Cherry ale!

As was the case with Yazoo, the sampler came out looking like the drink order for a group of Irish salesmen. (Kiss me, I’m Irish!) To be honest, I don’t think any of us remember a lot about this evening, other than loving the beer, and the staggeringly large list of available brews. According to the website, there are 14 different beers on tap; several of those being variations on the Pale Ale. That’s what I’m talkin’ about! I really wish more brewpubs did that. Why have one Pale Ale, when you can have three?

In addition to having one of the largest lists of beers we saw the whole trip, it had a great atmosphere and very accomodating staff. We sat al fresco even though the seating area was closed, drinking our many beers, watching college-aged skateboarders falling down stairways and tripping over their baggy crack-pants in the surrounding pedestrian mall. Good times. And to think we probably would never have gone there if New Belgium had been open when we rolled into town!

And with that we’re done. I’ll leave you the way my esteemed friend “Monkey Poo” Harris left us most evenings. Abruptly out cold. Cheers!

Monkey Poo Harris, Out Cold
“Monkey Poo” Harris has left the building…

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Your Chance To Tell Brian Where To Go!

So I’m planning a road trip. But not just any road trip. This is gonna be a multi-day, 2,600+, cigar-smokin’, sight-seeing, exotic-beer drinking extravaganza! You read that right, 2,600 miles or more! Just how far will that take Brian? Well, the plan is to drive from Portland, Oregon to Atlanta, Georgia and hit a bunch of interesting sights along the way. And you know that no road trip is complete without a good crew. The current roster consists of my wife (who thinks this might be a waste of time and money), my good friend, and recent cigarillo aficionado “Monkey Poo” Harris (MPH for short) and myself.

Road Trip 2007

Anyway, the reason for the vague number of miles is that we haven’t yet figured out exactly where we’re going to stop along the way. The simple door to door trip is 2,596 miles. Of course, detours rack up mileage quickly. (Memo to myself, use trip odometer to figure out just how far we go.)

I’ve compiled a list of things I’d like to see, but I have a feeling that I’m forgetting some stuff. As these things go, once you’ve gone on a trip, somebody invariably asks you if you stopped at some amazing, can’t-miss attraction you either forgot about or didn’t know about in the first place. In an attempt to prevent as much of that as possible, I’m looking to you, dear reader, to give me some suggestions. So this is the chance you’ve been waiting for, tell Brian where to go! (Keeping in mind that my car is not fitted with a drill bit.) ;)

Oh yeah, I guess you might find it handy to know a bit about the destinations we’re already considering for this trip. You’re in luck, there is a list. A very, very optimistic list. We’ve got a week (and change) to do this thing, so there’s quite a few places that won’t make the cut due to time constraints. But it’s good to have a list. Lists are fun.

High Priority Sights
A combinations of places I haven’t been, and a few off-the-wall places that should make for some good pictures and funny stories.

Booze or Cigar Related
Yeah, this list is pretty small still. I think we’re going to wing it once we’re on the road. I’m sure there’ll be a ton of interesting pubs and cigar shops we’ll bump into on the way. Feel free to recommend one!

Lower Priority
Places I’ve either been to, or places far enough out of the way we just may not have the time to see.

A thought occurred to me the other night as I was compiling this list. Wouldn’t it be fun (and possibly cost effective) to have sponsors for a trip like this? As long as we’re going to be sipping bourbon, swilling ale and herfing across the U.S. why not make it a dual purpose trip? I could see us having the names of respected coffee, cigar and alcohol establishments (or websites) prominently displayed in the windows, or temporarily affixed to the doors of my car. I know we probably couldn’t give away alcohol, but we probably could hand out some cigars, kinda like honorary cigar reps. I’d be fun, but I have no idea who you’d talk to about something like that. If you happen to be somebody who knows something about that sort of thing, feel free to let me know. :)

Want to sponsor our roadtrip? Here are some ideas:

  • Send us some shirts, we can either wear them or give them out along the way.
  • Send us a bunch of cigars. We’ll smoke some of them and hand out the rest.
  • Send us some cash for gas and accommodation.

Anybody who does, will have name, brand and/or website displayed prominently on Brian’s chariot for at least a week! Is this a great idea or what? :)

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If I Ran The Pub

Beer Means More Here“But if I chose the brew,”
Said Brian, beer guru,
“I’d make a few changes
That’s what I’d do…”

Though my reputation for alcohol consumption in certain circles has reached mythic levels reserved for naked, bearded Greek guys living on Mount Olympus, I have yet to actually discuss the matter of booze in any thorough manner. Well, I can’t allow this over sight to continue.

Imagine if you will, a parallel universe. In this alternate universe, I’m the new owner and operator of a Irish pub. And in this parallel dimension (which is heavily influenced by American television sitcoms) I’m magically able live a trendy lifestyle with comical problems that are generally resolved with in the hour.

Anyway, I have an important decision to make in my alternate universe. What beer will I put on tap? I’m not subject to weird protectionist booze inter-state/country import policies or odd restrictive laws that harsh real-life buzzes. Nor am I slowed down by limited productions of the rarer or seasonal beverages. Of course, as a resource, I can rely on the parallel real me, who drinks far more than he should, doesn’t resolve his problems nicely in an hour and faces the often unfortunate consequences of his misguided actions.

Between the two of us, we’ve come up with the following list, sorted by beer style for your reading pleasure.

India Pale Ale (IPA)
Bridgeport IPA – This hoppy award winner is a staple beer in Portland, Oregon. Recently it’s gotten a wider distribution. Seek this one out, it’s worth it. Or have your parallel self stop by my pub. My uncle from Virgina fell in love with it in one evening. He promised to never leave it, but he did have a plane to catch. The beer’s heart was broken. I think your love is all it needs to mend.

Sweetwater 420 – According to the website, this is a “West Coast Style Pale Ale” which is probably why its been my beer of choice the whole time I’ve lived in Hotlanta. It’s hoppy, it’s got a clean finish and it’s got an arbitrary number for a name. And it’s tasty. That’s all I need to tap the keg.

Amber / Red
Golden Valley Brewery Red Thistle Ale – This beer balances mysteriously between an Amber and an IPA, and is absolutely fantastic. In the real world, you better head to Oregon to find this gem. Even then, your only sure bet is heading to the sleepy little college town of McMinnville in the Oregon wine country.

Flying Dog Old Scratch Ale – I don’t know why, but I simply can’t put into words how much I like this beer. Nor can I understand why this is the single hardest Flying Dog brew to find. Fortunately, in my parallel universe pub, this guy is made exclusively for my pub. And its the most popular beer in the world. So business is good. (For research purposes only, I cracked one of these guys open. If a lightly hoppy, cinnamony malty beer sounds good to you, go pick up a cold six. If it doesn’t what’s wrong with you? Is the peer pressure not coming through strongly enough?)

New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale – This beer is sweeping the nation in real life. (I might hold that against it, if it weren’t such a great beer.) However due to the aforementioned weird voodoo booze-import policies, nearly every state in the union has this gem, except my adopted home of Georgia. This tasty “toated malt” flavored concoction of hops and yeast poop is so popular, it even appears in wikipedia. Resistance is futile, but the implants are so small, and the procedure nearly painless, you might as well get it over with.

Blonde / Hefeweizen
Caffrey’s (Official dead website) – This is the obscure Irish cousin of Boddingtons, that gets the same respect as the Irish did in the U.S. in the 19th century. The awesome thing about this beer, aside from the flavor, is the honey-colored Guinness-style cascade. In the real world, Coors owns the rights to U.S. distribution of this beer, and elects to sit on its giant corporate thumb instead of blessing us with this nectar. (If you want to see it in the U.S. again, give Coors a call at 1-800-642-6116).

Hoegaarden – With a double ‘a’ like that, you know its gotta be Belgian. It was over this cloudy, golden liquid heaven I seduced my then girlfriend with my wit, charm and fluid capacity. In the real world, this nectar is widely available in the bottle, and every now and then, on tap.

Leffe Blonde – Though I don’t get to enjoy this brew often, it merits a tap because it holds a special place in my heart. A place that probably was originally responsible for important blood circulation. In any event, this beer is responsible for my lack of memory of several Friday night chicken vindaloo trips I made to Brick Lane while I was working in London. It was also an unpleasant Saturday morning companion on the train to Edinburgh and Paris.

Stout / Brown / Porter
Guinness, Murphy’s Irish Stout and Beamish – This should come as no surprise to anybody. You have an Irish pub, you need an Irish beer. Especially for St. Patties. And I’m not going to discriminate, we’re boasting the full Irish stout trinity.

Bridgeport Porter – Not only do I love this beer for it’s caramelly-chocolaty goodness, we (meaning the beer and I) teamed up to corrupt my friend “I Don’t Like Beer” Dana. It’s a hard beer not to love. And for some reason porters are not a very easy beer to find. They’re so hard to find that you won’t even find a mention of it on the Bridgeport website!

Lagers/Pilsners
Peroni – I first tried this in Italian train station. The kind of place that featured guys with pencil-thin facial hair and immaculately pressed pastel Armani outfits. So a typical Italian train station. I was as dry as a prune and happy to sample a local beverage. This one surprised me. For a light beer it was crisp and delicious. And the good news for those of you firmly stuck in reality, it’s probably available in your area.

Tiger Beer – This is on the list because I want a beer from southeast Asia. And I’ve had to many rough experiences with Singha. (Mark, if you’re reading this, you know what I’m talkin’ about!) This beer won by heart by virtue of being free during happy hour in the executive lounge in the JW Marriott in K.L. And the ads they ran before movies in Malaysia were so ridiculously funny.

Fruity/Odd Ball
McMenamins Ruby – This beer, like the McMenamins pub chain is a pacific northwest cult favorite. The ruby is basically a raspberry hefeweizen. But its hard to focus on the beer when surrounded by the surreal, quirky hotels, schools and theaters they serve it in. Though my parallel universe pub is Irish, it would definitely steal a page from the McMenamins design handbook.

21st Amendment Watermelon Wheat – This beer was a hit with my wife, my friend Cowan, and his wife also at the 2006 Oregon Brewers Festival. I thought it wasn’t bad either. What can I say, I’m a man of the people. I want my parallel universe customers to be happy, and this beer was out faster than any other beer at the brewfest. Wanna drink one in real life? Head to San Francisco. Hold on there! Quit the humming and drop the flowers, we’re talking about beer.

Jalapeño Chili Beer – This was a seasonal beer put out by a California brewery for the 1996 Oregon Brewers Festival. To my knowledge this beer has been lost to time (and the internet) in the real world. (I’ve seen some evidence that it might have been a product of the late Russell Schehrer, head brewer of Wynkoop Brewing Company…) But, in my parallel-universe, Irish pub paradise, I can resurrect this beer and serve it. Because everyone should have the opportunity to taste a beer that tastes like hot nacho cheese with jalapeños. Even when it’s cold. Kind of like the jelly bean that tastes like buttered popcorn. Only this guy will get you drunk, and as a bonus, will wreak havoc on your digestive system. :twisted: Hey, I never said my pub had to be practical. And just try to tell me that that wouldn’t be bottled awesomeness.

So whaddaya think? Up for a trip to McBrian’s? (Maybe I should all it O’Brian’s?) Feel free to recommend a beverage to add to the list, the parallel reality Brian has no trouble with distributors! :)

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Six Unusal Free eBooks On My Reading List

The Sony eBook ReaderThe thing about blogging is that it tends to steal bits of your time away from daily activities, if you let it. And I’ve been letting it run rampant. Happily though, in my situation, it seems to mostly be cannibalizing my TV time, which is wasted time anyway. But unfortunately it has also been sneaking bites out of my reading time.

Now that my wife has read all the things she’s interested in reading on my Sony Reader (meaning I can use it again), I plan to reclaim some of that time. As an incentive to get myself reading again, I’ve picked a list of the most random, intriguing and off-the-wall books I could find for free on ManyBooks.

Here, more or less in the order I’ve found them, are my selections:

Trapped by Malays by George Manville Fenn – From what I can gather, this is a turn of the (last) century English colonial adventure story that takes place on the Malay peninsula (probably somewhere in modern day Malaysia). News and stories about Malaysia are few and far between where I live now, and I always make a point to check out anything I come across relating to my wife’s home. (I always have to chuckle whenever I hear the word “Malays”, it sounds just like “malaise“. It’s an almost irresistible call for a witty pun. Almost. :) )

The Practical Distiller by Samuel McHarry – As the subtitle to the books says, it’s “An Introduction To Making Whiskey, Gin, Brandy, Spirits, &c. &c. of Better Quality, and in Larger Quantities, than Produced by the Present Mode of Distilling, from the Produce of the United States.” Sounds like a must read for anybody interested in making a bit of moonshine or bathtub gin! This will be especially interesting to me because my friends took me on a tour of an Oregon distillery as part of my recent all-day bachelor party. (Eat your heart out, I got to try a little somethin’ right from the still! “Mmmm… this tastes like blindness!” :D )

King Solomon’s Mines and Allan Quatermain by H. Rider Haggard – These are the books that inspired the Allan Quatermain character in the truly unfortunate movie The League of Extraordinary Gentleman. If one thing positive can be said for that movie, it forever locked Sean Connery in my head as Allan Quatermain, which can only help make these books more fun to read.

The Hacker’s Dictionary by Eric S. Raymond – This is the youngest book on this list, being a mere 15 years old (1992) as of this writing. It also has the chance of being a book that is impossible to read in the conventional sense, if it truly is a dictionary. However, I’m gonna take a stab at it, and I may just fire up the movie Hackers (1995) to get me in the mood. (The most up to date version of this book can also be found online here, under the name The Jargon File).

The Confessions of an English Opium-Eater by Thomas De Quincey – All I can say is that it’s hard to pass up a title like that. Based on the excerpt listed with it, it could be a pompous, insufferable read. If it is, I hope it will so bad that its actually makes a good, but unitentional, comedy. Based on the wikipedia page dedicated to the book, it was considered both “taboo” during its Victoria era context, due at least in part to the description of Mr. De Quincey’s opium trips in great detail. Perhaps it will be a pretentious R-rated Alice in Wonderland?

If any of these sound interesting to you, check ‘em out. Maybe we can compare notes later. And if you do enjoy them, consider making a small donation to ManyBooks. I plan to. They really provide an awesome service to eBooks fans. Happy reading!

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CAO Sopranos Associate: A Cigar Is Not A Box

CAO Sopranos AssociateIn my ongoing quest to discover new and interesting cigars, I’ve learned one important lesson. You should never buy a box of cigars based on a single smoke. I came close to making that mistake recently with the CAO Sopranos Associate.

I love the Sopranos show, so a cigar-themed gimmick had a cheese appeal to me. The appeal was not enough to get me to lay down $10 a cigar, but it was enough to get me to look around and see what other cigar smokers thought about it. I found mostly positive reviews of the cigar online and it was even featured in Cigar Aficionado. In some testimonials the smokers lamented that they only bought one after a surprisingly good smoke. Good enough for me, it looked like it was worth a try, so I kept an eye out for it.

When I went on vacation a couple of weeks ago, I found a small supply in a local tobacco shop and I bought a few. That evening I smoked one with a young tawny port on a balcony overlooking the Oregon coast. It smoked like a dream. It had a beautiful draw, each puff rewarded me with a huge volume of smooth chocolaty smoke. I loved the hell out of it and made immediate plans to go back tobacco shop and buy the remaining 10 or so cigars.

A few nights later, some friends and I got together at Greater Trumps in Portland, Oregon for some cigars and some old port. Earlier that day I picked a bunch more (I didn’t quite clear them out- clearer heads prevailed) so I passed a few around, thinking I was really treating my friends. We were all in for a surprise. The cigars where strikingly lackluster. Good draw, as before, but the smoke was almost flavorless. Wow, did I feel like an idiot.

On a side note, it turns out the mildness wasn’t such a bad thing. My friends didn’t smoke cigars often, and this gave us the opportunity to have another completely different cigar later without being completely overloaded and hating life the next day.

A week or two later, I smoked one while watching the Sopranos. The cigars I had left over from my trip had spent the weeks in bottom of my humidor. This time it smoke seemed filmy (pun not intended, but heck, I’ll take it). Given my past experience with the cigar, it seems likely that the mouth feel was due to the unimpressive wine I decided to pair with it.

The point of all this is that I made a very amateurish mistake. I assumed that a single cigar was a good representation of the line, and I bought more of them than I should. (Fortunately, I didn’t spring for a box online. There’s still out there, and I was thinking about it.) Sometimes a line of cigars is that consistent, but I’ve run into too many cigars where this isn’t the case. (An Onyx experience comes to mind here.)

What really clinched the lesson for me was remember Walt from Stogie Review mentioning in one of his video clips (I think it was the Gurkha X-Fuerte review) that he didn’t like doing review based on a single cigar. He didn’t elaborate, but the truth is that cigars are so influenced by their environment a cigar from one humidor may be very different from another. Or even more importantly, cigars often have slight flaws that have a big impact on the quality of the smoke. The only way to get a good feel for a cigar is to sample several.

Because of these potential inconsistencies, before you buy a box of cigars, or decide to never smoke one again (hey, it could go either way) buy one more cigar and try it again. (Or at least go for the 5 or 10 pack instead of the full box.)

As for the cigar, I don’t think its a bad cigar. It’s a mild cigar that needs a good drink pairing. I would recommend carefully selecting that accompanying beverage. It’s quite pleasant with a ruby or young tawny port, or perhaps a stout or porter beer. Possibly a coffee drink (I’m thinking Spanish coffee, but that’s probably because I love Spanish coffees). Dark and rich is the key here. Lighter beers and wines may wind up making it an unpleasant experience.

Oh yeah, do me a favor- if this post prevents you from making an expensive cigar mistake, let me know! :)

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