Monday, February 22, 2010

Camacho Cigars

What a beautiful weekend, almost feels like Spring! Well, almost. It still gets pretty cold at night. If you've been watching the Winter Olympics, the weather they get up there is basically the same as what we get down here, we're just a little bit warmer. (Vancouver BC is only a couple hours away by car)
Being so nice outside, we try to spend as much time down on the waterfront as we can - it's so pretty down there!

So on Saturday night after a BIG dinner down at my favorite Chinese restaurant, my wife and ventured over to the Tobacco Patch for a cigar. We stopped by that new cupcake place across from Cactus restaurant first for some desert, then of course we had to run over to Caffe Ladro for a Mocha, but then we were ready for a fine cigar.

I walked into the Tobacco Patch and said "hello" to my favorite tobacconist and he handed me a cigar. "Hmmm? A Camacho. I've never had one of these before." He said that they don't actually sell them in his store, but he had a few to hand out. To tell you the truth I don't think I've ever noticed the Camacho line in any of the local shops around here. I had no clue as what to expect from it.

Anyway, since I didn't see the box that this cigar came out of, I'm thinking that it might have been a Camacho Havana Figuardo, not entirely sure though - searching the web can be deceiving. I would have taken a picture of it had I not smoked it that night. Oh well, I saved the band for the camera shot.

There's something about a pyramid shaped cigar that I've always loved - the feel in my hand and also the way the pyramid shape fits between your lips; I have a tendency to bite down on Figurados. ;)

First off, this is a really good looking cigar - it has a nice, smooth, natural wrapper and the feel is just a tad soft to the touch, but consistent throughout. I guillotine cut the point and lite it up. UGH! Something about that first puff wasn't quite right - left a bad taste in my mouth. Jeez, I wonder if I might have lit this up goofy? I let my wife try it and she said the same thing. However, this might have been the power of suggestion since I told her it tasted funny right off. But you know what, this turned out to be one of the best cigars that I've smoked in a long, long time. That nasty taste at the beginning went away very quickly and rest of the cigar was incredibly smooth tasting. One of my fellow aficionados that was sitting right next to me smoking the exact same brand got a little buzz off it, and he's a veteran cigar smoker! Me, surprisingly no effect, and I'm usually the biggest wiener when it comes to any of the more potent blends. The burn, the draw, the ash, the volumes of smoke, all turned out to be fantastic. This is a keeper for sure.

One of these days when I grow up, I'm going to learn the more subtle nuances of evaluating fine cigars, but until then you'll just have to trust me, this cigar is a winner! I'll definitely smoke this brand again, you can count on it.

My Rating: 9.5

Monday, February 15, 2010

Punch Upper Cut

Valentine's Day weekend, another busy weekend for me. On top of all the stuff that I had to do, including my taxes, I also had to take care of my neighbor's dog while they were up at Whistler Mountain watching the Olympics. I don't mind really, it's a beautiful golden retriever that's super well trained. I'd actually love to have a dog like this! Someday, eh?

I made it over the Tobacco Patch on both Friday and Saturday nights - only a few cigar aficionados this weekend due to the off and on rain shower situation. It wasn't too bad though.

Anyway, Friday I smoked another one of those Da Vinci cigars (see last week's review), and Saturday I enjoyed a Macanudo, one that my neighbor had given me before he left for Canada. But on Sunday after I finished my taxes, I wanted to celebrate a little bit, especially since I didn't have to mail a check to Uncle Sam this year. Yippee! So I grabbed a beer and a Punch Upper Cut cigar and headed out to the garage. (couldn't go out on the deck because it was raining, again)

So here's what I thoughts...

When I first lit the cigar there was a bite, plus it left a nasty taste in my mouth, drag was a little tough as well. I looked at the head of the cigar and re-punched the hole, just to see if it might open it up a little more - luckily it did! Much better draw, plus after just a little bit it really smoothed out. Perfect white ash. Cigar is firmly wrapped. I've always said that the first puff was the most important, well, that theory appears to be going bye-bye. That very nasty opening taste is totally gone now and the flavor is full, but smooth. I love a cigar that gives off a good volume of smoke when I draw on it and this one is superb. So far, so good.

Little issue - about quarter of the way through the cigar, the burn was a little uneven. I took a closer look and noticed that the wrapper was cracking just a tad on one side. A few moments later it looked like it was going to unwrap. What the heck? Luckily the smoke is still enjoyable - just hope it doesn't fall apart in my lap.

I was drinking a Dos Equis Amber Cerveza, which I'd have to say paired well for this cigar. I think I could have easily brought out my good rum, but it was too early in the day - didn't want to get looped! ;)

Halfway through the cigar and I noticed a little harshness, but it's not consistent, some puffs have it and some don't. I'm not really happy with the cracking in the wrapper either. It still occurring.

Little further along and it's not unwrapping, but there's still one little crack in the wrapper, plus the burn is still uneven. It's not a bad smoke though. The full-bodied taste is keeping me interested.

Last third of the cigar and everything has fallen into place - burn has evened out and the cracking is gone. Flavor is great and strangely enough the bite never came back. I would have rated this cigar much higher, but having a cigar potentially unwrap on you is not a cool thing, plus I want a cigar that remains smooth for the entire smoke.

My Rating: 7.0

Monday, February 8, 2010

Another Busy Weekend

You know a lot of my weekends are pretty booked up, in fact generally speaking I am so busy that sometimes I actually look forward to going back to work on Mondays - That's when I can take a break!

Anyway, the annual Super Bowl Party was on Sunday out in Issaquah at a friend's house. Great food, but I ate too much. Luckily I didn't drink too much. I was a good boy this year. Boy, what a great game though!

Saturday night we were in the U-District having dinner at Bilbao Tapas Bar. A gal we know was singing in the bar, and one of the waiters there is a guy that I used to smoke cigars with a long time ago. We had a lot of fun and the tapas were delicious! The only bad part is parking. On the Eastside we're spoiled with not having to pay for it, well generally speaking you can find someplace to park for free, but in Seattle finding a free parking place is like winning the lotto. It cost me $6 to park in the lot across the street from the restaurant. It was pouring down rain and I'm standing out there waiting for the stupid credit card reader to give me a receipt to put on the dash of my car. Holy cow, it must have taken 5 minutes. So obviously you can see how happy I am about going into town for any event. Parking sucks! PS - this was our first time to this restaurant and as it turned out if you ate at Bilbao you didn't have to pay for parking. UGH -now they tell me!

But what I really wanted to tell you about was a little gem that I bought a few weeks back.

DaVinci Leonardo 7.00 X 48

I just happened to be looking at JR cigars Dutch Auction site the other day and I noticed a box (10 count) of these DaVinci's for $19.95. Then I noticed that they had 1000 boxes that they were trying to unload. Huhn? That's pretty darn cheap, plus they've got a boatload of them. OK, I'll bid on a box. Amazing, $19.95 and a couple bucks for shipping - that's dirt cheap! So when they arrived just a few days later I was pretty excited.

The cigars come in a beautifully decorated white box and each cigar is individually sealed in a glass tube. Just by looking at the packaging I'd say someone is loosing money here, and it sure isn't me! I took one of the tubes out of the box and inspected it - Hmm? The cigar looked a little darker than what the website showed. I opened the tube and pulled out the stick. OK, yes indeed the wrapper is darker than the picture I saw on the web, but no worries. What was a little worrisome was that the wrapper had a rugged feel to it, kind of leafy with lots of little pinpoints sticking up. Now I'm thinking that this cigar might actually be worth what I paid for it. It did however have a pretty solid feel to it; firmly wrapped. So I carefully lite it up.

The first drag on a cigar in my opinion is one of the most important, because if it's good, the cigar will immediately put a smile on your face. If that first puff is bad, well you kind of hope for a miracle for the rest of it. The first puff in this case was Good! As was the second and third. This two buck cigar is smoking like one of the more expensive brands - I love when that happens! Medium to full bodied in taste, much, much smoother than I would have guessed and a flavor that never let up. Maybe not as sweet as I would have liked, but a very solid smoke, very enjoyable and that's really what it's all about.

For the money, I definitely recommend it...
My Rating: 8

Monday, February 1, 2010

Gift Cigars

A good friend of mine, a true Connoisseur of fine cigars, gave me a couple of cigars last week and I've been dying to try them out. He could have given me just about anything, but he gave me these, so I'm betting that these are extra special.

So let me tell you about my weekend - Friday night, Cigar Night, of course we always try to make it down to the Tobacco Patch, and this Friday was no exception. Since it was pretty late, Starbucks was already closed and Caffe Ladro just seemed to far to walk (half a block further than the Patch - jeez!), so we stopped by Zoka Cafe on the corner. I don't know why we stopped by here, every previous visit here has been an issue for us. (funny how when you get older your "minimum standards bar" keeps getting higher and higher) Anyway, this time it was a lukewarm mocha. I asked if they could make it again only this time make it really hot! Naturally they did and with no complaints, but when I tasted the second cup it was identical to the first one - I wasn't about to ask them to do it again. Unbelievable... Yeah, that was my last visit to Zoka. Always something...

We made it over to the Patch and there were quite a few people hanging around. I brought along with me a cigar from a box that I had ordered online the week before. The price I paid for these cigars was incredibly cheap, so I kind of assumed that these weren't going to live up to my minimum standards bar. Stay-tuned, I'll give you a very surprising review next week on these.

OK, now onto the main event. Saturday night we buzzed up to the Snoqualmie Casino to do a little gambling, but more importantly - visit the Lit Lounge for a drink and a cigar. After loosing at the Poker Tables we stroll over to the cigar bar. The place is packed, so we stand next to the bar until something opens up. I order a glass of Pyrat Pistol Rum and a Coke for my lovely wife. When the drinks arrive a couple seats at the bar open up - Bingo! We grab them before anyone else can. Ah, time to enjoy this cigar that I've been looking forward to all week.

It's a Nestor Miranda Collection/Miami Cigar & Company 20th Anniversary Cigar. Wow, that's a mouth full. An indeed so is the cigar! It's bigger than most Churchill's and has an extremely wide ring size - kind of looks like it was made for a giant. Don't let that detour you though, it is a beautiful looking cigar, smooth as hell, in fact maybe just a hair on the "too smooth" side. I'm not sure if it was the construction or maybe a very microscopic hole, but I thought the draw was just a little airy? I'm going to try one more of these just to double check, but overall though I was quite satisfied with it. Boy, it took me forever to smoke too!
My Rating: 8.6

Last night we had 4 friends over for dinner, it was a thank-you dinner for one of the guys. Anyway, after eating WAY too much, myself and all the guys retired out to the back deck to enjoy a smoke. I lit up the patio heater, brought out a bottle of rum and offered the group a cigar. Now it was time to give my other gift cigar a try.

The E.P. Carrillo EdiciĆ³n Inaugural 2009. Yes, this cigar looked right up my alley - perfect color, great feel, excellent size, nice aroma, just by looking at it I knew that I would like it. Turns out that I loved it! Silky smooth taste from the moment you light it up until the hot ashes are burning your fingertips, absolutely an outstanding cigar. I'm not good at describing taste and flavor, but this was delicious, just a tad stronger than a mild/medium bodied cigar and a great draw, in my mind it was perfect. Out of the 3 cigars I smoked over the weekend, this one was by far the winner.
My Rating: 9

Thanks Herman!