Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hookah Time

When I go searching for cigars to review, I generally try to avoid buying anything that I've purchased before, but occasionally I'll space out and buy something that I shouldn't have, this time it was the Perdomo 2 Limited Edition 2008, which I reviewed back in July. Oh brother....

Anyway, what did I think of it this time? I still liked it. The box press, the dark wrapper, eye-catching label, good draw and medium to full bodied taste were all exceptionally good. Only complaint was the burn being a little uneven and I had to relight it twice. No big deal, I still enjoyed it. I did however notice that I got a little buzz this time. The last time I didn't notice because I was a bit tipsy. :)

Now onto something I've never tried before....

Saturday night we were at a friend's house for dinner - BIG dinner, ate and drank way too much, didn't think I could drink that much wine and not get drunk. Anyway, after dinner we moved to the living room for Turkish coffee and to smoke the hookah (shisha). I've got to tell you that I've seen these before, but I didn't have a clue as to how you're supposed to smoke them. It was truly a learning experience. We were smoking an apple type of tobacco, which was exceptionally smooth and the aroma was quite pleasing. My biggest problem at first was that I was trying to smoke it like a cigar, where you basically inhale the smoke just into your mouth. I noticed that everyone else was getting these big plumes of smoke when they exhaled and for me there was hardly anything. Hmmm? How did they do that? Well, they're smoking it like a cigarette - yes, they're taking a big draw into their lungs. I tried it - oh yeah, I'm smoking like a chimney now. Hah! The water in the base of the hookah cools the smoke down and mellows it out, so even though the smoke is going deep into your lungs, you don't feel like coughing it all out.

Would I do it again? Of course! I enjoyed it. I don't see myself going out and buying one of these, but if the occasion arises again some day, I definitely would not turn it down.

Very cool weekend indeed!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Infused Cigars

So on Friday night while I was down at the Tobacco Patch, I was searching for a cigar that a friend of mine (Leif) recommended. His taste being similar to mine, I thought I'd see if I could find it. Well, unfortunately I couldn't find the Acid Kuba Kuba, but I did find an Acid Blondie, so I picked that up along with a Baccarat cigar.

First the Baccarat, which I smoked on Friday night -Terrible cigar, too harsh and an awful flavor to it.
The details (sorry, no photo) on the label read:
Dolce Far Niente
The Game
This was probably one of the worst cigars I've smoked in years - harsh and it left a terrible taste in my mouth afterward. I need to go and brush my teeth just thinking about it!
Rating: 1 (I gave it a rating of 1 because the draw and the burn were OK, otherwise it would have gone into negative territory)

Saturday afternoon was beautiful, temperature around 60º and sunny blue sky. I was over at the Redmond Town Center Mall with my lovely wife, she was shopping and of course I was at the cigar store trying to find an Acid Kuba Kuba cigar. Naturally they didn't have it, but they did have a few Drew Estate selections, one being the Java. Oh brother this is a good looking cigar, but more on that later. I bought the Drew Estate Java and a Perdomo cigar.

Anyway, Saturday night we buzzed up to the Snoqualmie Casino to meet up with friends at the Lit Lounge (cigar bar). We got there a little early, so we started out at the poker slots at the bar, my favorite slots by the way, played for about an hour or so, then headed over to the Lit lounge.

So let me tell you about the Java by Drew Estate. When I first saw this at the cigar store it stood out from all the others. The box press, the Java label, the beautiful dark maduro wrapper and what's this, the light aroma of coffee or maybe chocolate? I had no clue that this was a flavor infused cigar. What is a flavor infused cigar anyway? I gave the cigar a scissor cut -my cutter sliced through it like butter, very, very smooth, not the chop or the snap that you get sometimes. I took a sip of coffee and lit it up. By the way, the French press coffee at the Lit Lounge is exceptional and goes perfectly with a cigar. Sometimes I actually prefer it to booze. (don't quote me)
I lit up the Java Maduro - Oooooh, that's nice. The slight sweetness on your lips and the medium bodied, very smooth taste was such a pleasant surprise that I had to let my wife try it. She puffed on it and gave me a look like "wow, that' IS good!" Two thumbs up so far. I couldn't really say if I tasted coffee or cocoa flavor, I just know that it was a very unique taste and I liked it! This cigar continued to impress me the entire time. The sweetness diminishes as you get towards the end, but overall it's an excellent cigar.
My rating: 9.5

Now on to the other flavor infused cigar - The Acid Blondie

Since it was still early and we were deep in conversation with the gang, I decided that this would be a two cigar evening, and I just happened to bring a second cigar with me. I've seen the Acid label before, but never thought too much of it. I think anything that says "acid" on the label has a negative impact with me. Well, it looks like I was wrong. I liked it! This was a very mild cigar, extremely smooth, flavored cigar, excuse me, flavor infused cigar. The only small issue is that it might have been a little too sweet at first. But, since I was drinking a cup of French press coffee, which is already pretty darn strong, the two taste seemed to balance out one another. This is a good cigar if you didn't have much time - the cigar is pretty short and it seemed like I smoked this in about 20 minutes or so - really fast. Overall, I liked it though, but I would definitely buy the Java over this one.
My rating: 8.9

Thursday, March 18, 2010

St Patrick's Day

Perfect evening for a walk last night, so I ventured downtown to see if anything was happening in Kirkland for St.Patrick's Day. It was still a bit early, 8:30 PM, so I didn't expect much.

"Holy Crap! Where did all these people come from!!??"

Almost every bar was packed, but the bar that stood out the most was the Wilde Rover Irish Pub (of course) - the line to get in was all the way down the block to the Tobacco Patch, and at times it would reach the corner, by Zoka Coffee, plus they were charging a $10 cover. (Hmmm? $10 X 1000+ people - not a bad night) This place is huge too, just looking through the front and back windows I could see that the entire restaurant was standing room only. I'm going to have to ask my Bouncer friend if they had any problems with that many Irish in one place. ;)

What's interesting is that St.Patrick's Day has a bigger turn out than New Year's Eve. Why is that?

Anyway, last weekend I finished up all the Da Vinci cigars that were left in my humidor -
Friday night at the Tobacco Patch - great turnout and perfect weather.
Saturday night dinner party at my house - way too much booze.
Sunday late afternoon - waxing the car. (wife's car)
Great cigars. If I had to choose between an Oliva and a Da Vinci, I'd still choose the Oliva, but these are pretty good smokes, very reliable, and the price I paid for them was equally incredible, so I'm pretty pleased all around. Nice job Da Vinci!

Stopped by Rain City Cigars in Georgetown yesterday and asked them what's up with the cigar tax legislation that's being debated right now? What started out as an increase of $3 per stick is now down to around .16 cents, but that's subject to change. We may know by the end of next week what the final increase will be. Politicians aren't dumb you know, they start WAY high on the tax increase knowing full well that they're going to get something, just not everything.

So me being the concerned citizen that I am, wrote to all my representatives in Olympia to complain about the pending legislation, most of the replies that I received back were quite positive, but the one that kind of pissed me off was from State Senator Rodney Tom. Here's a portion of his canned reply:

"The only way we are going to be able to realistically reduce our health care expenditures is by addressing the two most prevalent causes of exorbitant health care costs - smoking and obesity.

In Washington State alone we spend over $2 billion on health care expenses that are directly associated with smoking. State government alone spends over $651 million in taxpayer dollars each and every year on Medicaid services covering the cost of smoking related illnesses.

The great news in Washington State and King County specifically, has been the massive reductions in the numbers of smokers who have quit due to policies we've pursued over the last seven years. The last increase in cigarette taxes coupled with the prohibition on indoor smoking has greatly reduced the number of smokers and smoking related health care expenditures in our state. We have gone from over 20 percent of our citizens smoking to near 15 percent. In King County, we've seen an even more dramatic drop from 18.5 percent in 2000 to the current estimate of just under 11 percent.

Smoking is very price sensitive, especially among our teenage children, and this $1 increase will help prevent over 74,000 children from taking up this unhealthy activity that has shortened so many lives. I think all of us can agree that having 74,000 young children not taking up this habit is a good thing."

Technically speaking, I could care less about the tax on cigarettes, my concern and the concern that I stated in my email to my congressman was the tax on cigars. Even so, if I'm not mistaken the Senator states that there are two prevalent causes of exorbitant health care cost, smoking AND obesity. I see no mention in his email addressing the problem with obesity. Using the Senator's logic, shouldn't we bring back the sales tax on food? (Washington law exempts most grocery type food from retail sales tax)

What pissed me off even more was the fact that he made no mention of cutting government spending.

Anyway, we'll see what happens. The real problem isn't necessarily the tax, it's the fact that the Washington cigar retailers won't be able to compete with out of state and/or internet retailers. Right now it's a matter of convenience for me, but if the tax goes up too much, I'll have to look elsewhere.

Stay tuned...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Another fine cigar weekend

Friday: Te Amo World Selection Series Cuban Blend Robusto
Saturday: Da Vinci Leonardo
Sunday: Coronado by La Flor

You know how they say that you should never judge a book by it's cover, well technically speaking you can apply that same law to cigars. I had high hopes for this Te Amo Cuban blend when I picked it up at the smoke shop last week. It looked like something I would enjoy - wrapper has a nice color, nice big robusto ring size, price was good, and an interesting wording on the label: Te Amo and Cuban Blend - what's not to love?

OK, so here's what I didn't like. First, the draw. I really had to work this cigar to get anything out of it. It's not that it was wrapped too tight, actually it had the perfect feel to it, but for some odd reason I just couldn't get the amount of smoke that I was looking for. Secondly, the taste. Since I was already hacked off at the draw, it was easy to complain about the taste. It wasn't necessarily strong or harsh, but I think this particular leaf is not my cup of tea. I'll smoke it, but it's really not my favorite.
Rating: 7

Saturday was a gorgeous Springlike day with temps near 60º - Holy Cow, this has been one of the mildest Winters on record. No snow at all! (Knock on wood) So Saturday night we ventured back downtown Kirkland for a little stroll, then dinner, dessert, coffee and of course a cigar. I brought along with me another one of those Da Vinci Leonardos. I'm not going to go into details, but this one was just as surprisingly good as the one I smoked a few weeks back. Da Vinci cigars? Heck, who would have guessed? These are good! (and cheap!)

So on Sunday afternoon while my lovely wife was at the Mall and I was pretty much caught up with everything, I decided to take a break and have a cigar. I poured a glass of Oban, grabbed a cutter and some matches and picked out the first cigar that I saw in my humidor.

Coronado by La Flor - Yeah, I've never heard of it too, but this was an amazing cigar, up until the last third, that's when it starting getting somewhat harsh, but before that I thought it was one of the better cigars that I've smoked - really rich, full bodied, smooth taste. I loved it, just that last little part at the end was a bit annoying. GRRRrrrr....

Rating: 8 (would have been in the high 9's had it not been for the final)

Anyone watch the Oscars this year? I never watch that sort of stuff, but while I was sitting in the garage smoking my cigar I happened to have it on that channel. You know it was actually pretty entertaining. I thought Steve Martin and Alec Bladwin were hilarious! Big surprise of the evening for me was when Sandra Bullock got the Best Actress award. Amazing...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sancho Panza Maduro

Blasted up to the Snoqualmie Casino on Saturday night for a little gambling. It was kind of interesting, while we were there a gal won $1,000,000 at a slot machine. A million bucks - Holy Sheet-O! Some old lady playing a $5 progressive slot machine. When the casino people came over to congratulate her, she was as cool as a clam, you'd never know she won that much money. Even funnier was that she forgot her ID, so she had to call someone to get it and bring it up to her. Too funny...

So while we were at the casino our primary mission was to go to the Lit Lounge for a drink and a cigar. As usual when we entered the bar it was packed - definitely don't come here on a Saturday night if you want to "sit". We were kind of lucky though, we saw a few people that we knew and they invited us to sit at their table with them. One slight problem was that there was only one chair for the two of us. We made it work. :)

I brought along with me a cigar that's been sitting in my humidor for a little while, not sure when and where I got it, but I thought this would be as good a time as any to see if it was any good. Since I don't actually remember buying this cigar, I can't tell you exactly which variety it was. I'll tell you what I do know though, it was a Sancho Panza, box pressed Maduro in a Churchill size. Couple of things I like about it are the box pressed shape and the Churchill size - two pluses. What's kind of lame is the label - it just doesn't stick out in any way. I think that's why it was still sitting in my humidor - too many other cigars with labels that give the impression that you're going to be smoking a quality First Class cigar. Kind of interesting when you think about it, how can a label do all that? Mind games...

So what did I think?
Meh... nothing special. (I think the label was telling me something after all) The draw was good, it burned well, the taste was acceptable and it was somewhat smooth, maybe a hair on the strong side, but the one thing that it wasn't was memorable, at least not to me. Don't get me wrong me, it's really not a bad smoke, just not one that I would go out of my way to buy. Had this been just a bit more creamy or silky so to speak, it would have made it to the "Good" category. Oh well... An average cigar is better than a bad cigar.

My Rating: 7.5