You can visit it by going to http://www.cigarnewbie.com. I’ll primarily post my reviews there but some general stuff will be cross posted. Enjoy! 🙂
Today was less than fun at work and I was nearly fully late but made it in with a couple of minutes to go. But by the end of the day I was ready to go home so I thought I’d treat myself to something interesting an ddifferent. So I went to the Wall Street store of Barclay-Rex and picked up a couple of things, including a Rocky Patel Summer Collectoin 2008 Lancero. This cigar is a 7 x 42 guage, thus appearing slim and long. While it’s a nice cigar it’s rather unremarkable. There are no hints or flavours of really anything. In some ways, a bit disappointing. 🙁 But still, enjoyable in the sense of not being horrible to the palate.
Perhaps this one will flavour with age if left in a humidor for a year or two.
This early morning stuff has got to stop. Seriously. To make it even more fun, I don’t have enough time to enjoy a nice cigar and will probably have to wait until the weekend (maybe Friday afternoon). I’m a bit disappointed as I have some new ones I can to really test out and perhaps do a review of. This weekend suggests lots of rain so it may be a perfect one for it (although a photo shoot I was to be at last weekend was pushed over to this one so I’ll have to venture out for one day at least).
So for now I’m limited to some nice coffee (for that morning perk) and a Rocky Patel Jr., Baccarat Connie or a Macanudo Ascot. My favourite remains the Rocky Patel Jr., featuring a nice dark maduro wrapper. It has a nice flavour to it, almost a deep, rich nutty or coffee flavour, and generally takes about 45 minutes to smoke (a bit longer than my walk from the subway to home but if the weather is ok, I can linger outside enjoying it). I know all the health risks that come with smoking and certainly am respectful of laws put into place but I have to say that I feel far more relaxed after a nice smoke, particularly when I can enjoy the whole cigar down to the nub, than I do otherwise.
Life is short enough as it is. We spend the majority of it working for ourselves or others in hopes of making enough to support family and dreams, sometimes spinning our wheels due to issues outside of our control. A little luxury now and then is hardly enough to worry. We need to enjoy life and remove more of our worries. George Burns, well known for his cigar smoking, smoked upwards of 10-to-15 cigars a day! And he was booked right up to his 100th birthday (he lived to be 100 plus a couple of months).
I’ve come to the conclusion that while food, alcohol and exercise are all factors the ultimate item that helps one’s longevity on this planet is happiness. And I think with the way my life has been shaping up lately, we’ll have to have the fire department on hand at some point to deal with all the candles on the birthday cake.
Well, today was long and it felt odd. I felt somewhat isolated by my students and perhaps it’s because I’ve let my beard grow some. The challenge has been how much do I hide and when do I let knowledge out. I still believe in not being stealth as honesty can be the best policy. But sometimes it is also good to do this delicately and with grace so that it allow others to come to grips with this change, even if they don’t see me everyday. People have built in expectation of things and how people are. Genders are social constructs that others understand and they often get rigid when faced with the unknown or different.
But that will be things they will have to address and there is nothing I can do, unless they broach it with me, to help them come to terms with it. On a plus, a couple of former colleagues from my Canadian office are very aware of my transition and supportive of it. This will be helpful as I’ll probably visit the office in December and it’ll be nice to see old friends then.
That all said, today gave me a taste of what is up-and-coming over the next few months as my schedule will be busy. And that will allow me to keep moving and have less of a chance to experience DVT. I’ll probably not be able to enjoy as many cigars as I’ll be too busy travelling and such (which often have non-smoking policies — which is fine, understandable and acceptable to me). This will mean I’ll be limited to the weekend and, at the least, my “stash” will last for long time. In fact, it’ll allow for some cigars to age nicely in my humidors and thus when I do enjoy them, they’ll be even more enjoyable.
Ok. This isn’t on cigars but rather a few of accessories that have become rather important to me and I cannot imagine enjoying cigars without them. The reality is how you prepare your cigar and then actually smoke it adds to the enjoyment of the cigar itself. You don’t have to spend alot but should spend wisely.
1. Humidor Humidification Control: While having a good humidor to store your “sticks” in is critical, how you actually humidify it is just as important. Learning how to balance distilled water into a humidification container can be tricky. I don’t think I ever got it right. But one day while searching I found Boveda. A rather ingenious idea that uses reverse osmosis based on Raoult’s Law, a simple idea whereby the combination of compounds will determine the pressure of the vapour (liquid) and how it passes through the membrane (this is my simplistic understanding — this link gives far more detailed account for those of the truth mathematically geeky inclined). In short, the packet ensures that there is an even release of appropriate humidification over a period of time.
2. Sharp Cuts: a good cutter can also make the difference from tasting the smoke or tasting the tobacco (and getting it out of your teeth). I originally began by using the cheap cutters that are often provided at cigar retailers. In fact, one such retailer sent me a whack of them (something I can given away to friends who are first time cigar smokers). But given how much I enjoy a cigar in a given day (somewhere between 0-3) I figured a decent cutter was a necessity and one that would stay sharp. I did a far amount of research. Certainly there are a variety of ways to cut or puncture a cigar and honestly, it’s a matter of personal taste and preference as to how to do this. The main consistent key is to avoid cutting too far past the cap as this can cause the cigar to unravel and you’ll lose some of the flavour as a result. I tend to slice a bit off the cap as I find it’s enough of an opening to enjoy the smoke without sacrificing the wrapper.
Anyways, the best cutter I’ve found is the Xikar Xi3 Spectra. Granted, any of the Xikar cutters are good but I prefer this one since it’s fairly hefty (has a good weight) and consistently cuts well. The one downside I found to this cutter is it’s limitation to size as larger (58 guage and higher) can be tricky but since I just slice a bit off the cap it’s not too bad. (side note: cigar cutters are allowed to be taken on carry-on luggage as per the TSA website. I printed out their PDF brochure and wrap my cutter in it just in case someone challenges me on it)
3. Fire!: Of course, how we light a cigar can make a difference. My ultimate preference is Lieb Cedar Matches (I cannot find these online and have only purchases them once while in Mexico City) with the Davidoff Long Matches coming in a close second. I can take matches when I travel, which is good. Because when at home I use a wonderful butane lighter from Blazer. Their Blazer Torch Lighter is amazing. It’s consistent, has a huge reservoir (lights about 5-8 cigars or more, depending on how often you have to relight), a cap to cover the area that the flame comes out of (thus making it more secure and safe) and has a nice feature that locks the flame in place, thus resulting in less chance of burned fingers and such. While I’ve bought cheapo butane lighters from the local dollar store I quickly discovered that there was a reason they were so cheap: they broke down after about 6 months of use.
Enjoying a cigar shouldn’t take a huge amount of fussing and fiddling with and these items can help ensure that you can enjoy them sooner and better.
A quick little post about an issue that bugs me: as I smoke a good cigar I want to smoke it down to the last little bit. Often a good one will cost me a pretty penny and I want to enjoy it all. The problem becomes when you get down to the “nub” it’s hard to hold because it gets too hot as the center burns. So a little trick: toothpicks. Use a simple but sturdy toothpick to hold the cigar by poking it in the side near where the cap was (not too close to the end but not in the middle). Avoid going all the way through the cigar. Just puncture it enough to hold the cigar with it. This way you can get right down to the last little bit. Alternatively you could use tweezers to hold it with.
While in Vegas I got to enjoy some Fuente Fuente Opus X. While Vegas is very dry and thus, cigars tend to burn faster I still enjoyed them very much. I also brought back a God of Fire Pyramide which I enjoyed tonight. It burned beautiful and tasted great. It had a nice cedar flavour and the Cameroon wrapper helped add to that flavour nicely. I do find that those wrappers make a cigar even more enjoyable to pass an evening away quietly and with no thought.
Unlike many cigar aficiandos who enjoy a cigar with a nice whiskey, scotch or other stronger liquor, I enjoy mine with a pop, water or a nice rich coffee. It isn’t what I drink with it that makes it enjoyable but rather the fact that I can take time to enjoy the flavours and slow time down for a bit. So how does one enjoy a good cigar? Well, from my point of view, this is how..
- Ensure you have a couple of interrupted hours in a low wind environment that is well ventilated. You want to be able to enjoy the flavours that the cigar long-filler and the wrappers provide. You don’t want to be overwhelmed by the smoke from the cigar, especially if it burns hot (something that happened when in Vegas because of the dryness of the area).
- While enjoy a scotch or other hard liquor with it is good, water can clean out the palate and allow the true flavours come through. I’ve found that when enjoying a cigar with water I actually can taste things like chocolate, cream and other flavours come through on “non-flavoured” cigars.
- A good cutter. Whatever cutter you have or method you use, be consistent on all your cigars. I have a very nice Xikar that I use to cut the tip off of a cigar so that the wrapper doesn’t come undone. Others use a bullet for the same effect.
- A good lighter or a good set of long matches. I splurged on a decent single flame Blazer Torch lighter as well as have some nice Davidoff long cigar matches. The best matches I’ve ever had were Lieb Cedar Long Matches I got in Mexico. What you shouldn’t do is use a regular cigarette lighter (those cheapo 99 cent ones you get). Those add extra chemicals to the cigar when it burns. If you do have to use it, let it burn for a little bit to allow for the chemicals to burn out.
- Don’t over-indulenge and try too many extremes of cigars. I’ll enjoy a strong full cigar with perhaps a Dirt (a very sweet cigar) as a dessert. You want to ensure that your taste buds get a chance to relax so they can enjoy the flavours. Again, water in-between cigars can help.
- Relax and, if possible, enjoy good conversation with friends and/or family. A cigar is truly an social thing and more enjoyable when conversation can happen (or a good poker game).
Smoking cigar isn’t just enjoying a good smoke; it’s enjoying a full experience that takes in all senses to the fullest — much like how we should enjoy life in general.
Cigar Description: Georges Reserve is an aged Nicaraguan, long-filler handmade cigar with a unusual African Cameroon binder. The only place I know that you can get it at is Famous Smoke online. The wrapper is near perfect in it’s construction and is more of a mild-to-medium cigar. It was the first box of cigars I ever bought.
I bought the Corona size, which is a 5 1/2 in length with a ring gauge of 42. Perhaps a bit skinny for some but I found it to be a perfect size. The binder is a natural colour, almost a tan-like hue. And it’s creamy to the palate. The long Nicaraguan fillers are wrapped perfectly so that the draw is even and consistent.
It only attempted to tugboat once but self-correctly easily. All-in-all it took about an hour and a bit to smoke this cigar with very few relights (I think I only had to do one and that was because I had gotten distracted). It re-lit nicely and without any of the bitter taste that often comes with relighting a cigar.
The actual “flavour” of the cigar is a creamy, nutty flavour that isn’t overwhelming on the palate. I found it didn’t take away from what I might be drinking (whether coffee, Red Bull or a beer) but was enough to just enjoy.
I have found that this cigar does far better as it ages over time. I had bought these ones in May/June and have found that recently they have improved immensely. I’d recommend them but only if you put them in your humidor for a couple of months to “settle”.
Rating: Overall, I’d rate these an 8/10.
Cost: At a price of $80/box (25 cigars to a box), that’s about $3.20 per cigar and makes for a nice daily or near daily smoke. Granted, when I bought them I got it for a 2-for-1 deal so my costs were down to $1.60 per cigar but even today, I’m considering getting a box or two of them.