Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Exclusive Cigars - Kristoff Ligero Criollo/Maduro

Kristoff Ligero Criollo -

Actually, this wasn't a bad cigar, but the flavor didn't really kick-in for me until around the midway point. After that, I thought it was very good. Come to think of it, when I first lit this up I thought there might be a hole in the wrapper, the draw seemed a little airy for a Ligero. Anyway, everything improved considerably right around the halfway point. Thank goodness too, because this was my Friday night cigar, this is the one that I count on, the one that I wait all week for, and if I only have one cigar all week to smoke, this better be a gift from God, so to speak. Nah, I'm not that tough, but I'm like you and the last thing I want to do is throw money away on crappy cigars.
My Rating: 7.5

Kristoff Ligero Maduro

Sunday afternoon, I wasn't doing anything special, just upgrading an old computer that's sitting out in my garage. My lovely wife had left to go shopping at the Mall, so I had a few hours to myself. Cigar time? Yah baby! I flipped on the Seahawk game (I've got a TV in garage) grabbed something to drink and pulled this Kristoff Maduro out of my humidor. God, what a perfect afternoon for a cigar too - rainy, windy and cold.
OK, so I'll tell you right up front that this Ligero Maduro was not my type of cigar, I smoked it, but it really didn't suit me. (Sorry Glen)
The flavor was a bit harsh and the draw didn't give me the billows of smoke that I long for. I knew this wasn't my type of cigar when I started getting a buzz. Yeah, I think this cigar was made for the more "seasoned" cigar smoker. Me, I'm too much of a weenie! I did smoke the whole thing, but I really had to pace myself.
My Rating: 7

Thanks again Ed and Glenn for the cigars! 

Side note:
During my lunch hour I like to get out and take a walk from my office down to Boeing Field and back, occasionally I'll take my camera with the 200mm lens along; couple of places that I like to shoot from. Anyway, the other day when I was on my way back from Boeing Field and had my camera strapped across my shoulder, I caught this car out of the side of my eye driving the wrong way down the one way street that I was walking on. I thought to myself "boy, that's weird". The car pulls over right next to me and this young guy gets out and motions me to come over. Huhn? I noticed that he's wearing a coat that says "Seattle Police" and his name tag indicates that he's a detective. WTF? So this guy says to me that someone had reported a suspicious character taking pictures at one of the overpasses and by the airport. "You have got to be kidding me??!!" He continued with his 20 questions or so until he was satisfied that I wasn't a threat to National Security. What a frickin joke! The weird part is that this is Georgetown, definitely not the kind of people to even associate with law enforcement let alone call them. Anyway, it kind of ruined my day, but it definitely won't change my routine - you can still find me taking shots in Georgetown. Screw-em!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Big Cigar Weekend

So how was the Smoke Easy this year and where the heck was I ?? Don't ask....

Anyway, beautiful weekend here, miraculously that big ball of warmth and brightness known to most of you outside of western Washington as the sun has been hanging around here for the last few days teasing us. Fall colors are almost at their peak, so it's been gorgeous outside.

Let's see, what did I do this weekend?
First off, I met some pretty big dogs in the cigar industry up at the Lit Lounge on Friday night. Ed Ryan, one of the regional cigar reps invited us up to meet Glen Case from Exclusive Cigars. Glen is the mastermind behind the Kristoff / Vengeance / Brittania cigars. These are big on the east coast, but brand new to us out here, so it was kind of a privilege to be one of the first in the area to try some of these sticks. Glen's a pretty cool guy too - good-looking, very articulate, charismatic, and definitely passionate about his cigars. Unbelievable how much he travels every month. My lovely wife would definitely disown me!

Couple other celebrities at our table - Don Hanes, very well-known cigar rep out here introduced me to Abe Flores from PDR (Pinar del Rio) Cigars. Abe is a little more soft-spoken than Glen, but definitely just as passionate about his product - super nice guy.
BTW, Don if you're reading this, the waitress said that you paid my tab on Friday night. WOW! I owe you one, OK!

So anyway, let me go down the list of what cigar I smoked over the  weekend...

Friday at the Lit Lounge

Cuban Stock Royal Selection Toro (box press)
I saw a box of these in the humidor up at the casino and I just had to have one. I'm a sucker for a box pressed cigar, I love the feel of them and this one is a truly great cigar. Not too strong, incredibly smooth and volumes of rich creamy smoke. I loved it.
My Rating 9.6

PDR 1878 Pinar del Rio Cubano Especial
This is the cigar that Abe Flores gave me and I smoked this one right after the Cuban Stock. Now I've got to tell you that I was drinking rum with the Cuban Stock and French press coffee the rest of the evening, both beverages went superbly with each of these cigars.
OK, so the PDR 1878 has a beautiful dark oily wrapper, nice feel to it, not too spongy. Judging by the wrapper I thought this might be a nicotine bomb, but it turned out to be a very enjoyable medium bodied smoke. I liked it! Plus it was basically a smoke factory - no kidding. This was the smokiest cigar I've ever seen - the smoke billows out of it. Paired with the dark coffee it was phenomenal. My only complaint was that I had to re-lite it 3 times. Who knows, they were probably fresh from the factory and needed a little time in my humidor. Anyway, it was an exceptionally good smoke.
My Rating; 8.9


So on Saturday a few cigar buddies came over to mi casa to help me detail my wife's FX35. I should re-phase that, on Saturday I helped a couple of cigar buddies detail my wife's car. It took a whopping 5 hours. My friend has every known Griot detailing product there is, and believe me we used them all. Holy Cow, that car looked brand-spanking-new when we were done. Rumor has it that we'll be doing my car next month. (oh boy!)
After all that hard work, I grabbed some cigars and booze and we headed out to the back deck. I made a fire in the fire pit, distributed the cigars, poured a few glasses of rum and scotch and we kicked back and just took it easy. I still had a few Oliva Serie G figurados left, but that's the last of them. Yes, that's one of my favorites.

Late Saturday night we went to dinner at the "Olive You Restaurant" in downtown Kirkland. I love that place, the food, service and ambiance are fantastic. BTW, I saw Edgar Martinez having a beer up at the bar.
Anyway, after dinner we strolled over to the Tobacco Patch for a late night cigar with the gang. I forgot to bring a cigar with me, so I went inside and picked out a Casa Magna Colorado from the humidor. Very nice cigar indeed, but I would more than likely rate it a tad lower on my list than the Oliva, PDR or the Cuban Stock. Really, nothing wrong with it, just not the top of the list.
My Rating: 8

Lastly, Sunday night after a BIG Brazilian feijoada dinner, I kicked back with my daughter out on the back deck. I'd been looking forward to trying out the cigar that Glen gave me on Friday night. I lit up the fireplace and grabbed a cup of fresh coffee.

Kristoff Brittania Reserva, Torpedo (Exclusive Cigars)

Glen told me that this cigar was named after his daughter Britney, and not surprisingly the Kristoff cigars are named after his son Christopher. It's really a good-looking cigar - beautiful wrapper, long torpedo size, but what's most unusual about it is the pigtail top and the unwrapped foot - very unique. Of course they're the first things to go bye-bye once you lite it up.

So I've heard that this is a good morning cigar, maybe because of its Honduran Connecticut wrapper, but personally I found it a bit spicy for the first cigar of the day. For me, this was the perfect cigar to end a great weekend, kind of a celebration cigar. I'm not going to tell you that this was the best cigar that I smoked all weekend, but it was pretty close. Very smooth, good draw, and a big flavor made this a delicious smoke.
My Rating: 8

Thanks you guys for the wonderful cigars - I hope we can do it again soon!

Side note:
So I asked Don Hanes this question: "If you could only smoke one cigar brand for the rest of your life, what would it be?"
He answered back: "A free one".
My kind of guy!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Glen Case at the Lit Lounge Friday Night 8 PM

A little note that I received from my friend Ed Ryan, he's an independent cigar rep and Certified Tobacconist that works with a variety of boutique cigar brands including Berger & Argenti, Kristoff, Savinelli, El Primer Mundo, La Palina, Flatbed, etc...

Anyway, he said:

"I wanted to extend an invitation to you guys to come over to Lit Friday night to meet Glen Case from Exclusive Cigars. Glen is the mastermind behind the Kristoff / Vengeance / Brittania cigars. This will be his first time out here in the Northwest. This isn't an official Lit event, but we'll be there and I thought maybe you could help me spread the word and make him feel welcome."

Sounds like a good time and a great opportunity to schmooze with Glen - I'm not going to miss it!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Macanudo Maduro Vintage 1997 Reserva Dorada 2010

So I'll be frank with you, this is not a pretty cigar, even with its gimmicky "metal" cigar band, it's still an ugly duckling. In fact, I would have never bought it based purely on its looks. No, I bought this cigar solely because of its shiny metal ring. Yes, the gimmick paid off. Here I am in this big cigar store looking at a million different cigars, and this ugly little turd with the pretty bronze ring catches my eye. I've never seen a metal cigar band before, so I just had to have it, regardless of the price.

Anyway, my lovely wife and I were in downtown Kirkland on Friday night before the rains came, it was actually a pretty nice evening, no wind and the temperature was still in the upper 60's - very pleasant. So we sat down with the gang out in front of the Patch and I pulled out my smoke for the evening.

This cigar reminds me of the DaVinci Leonardo that I've smoked, both have that rugged dark firm wrapper, both are medium bodied maduros with an excellent draw and a very smooth full flavored taste. I've got to tell you, even though I knew this was a gimmick cigar, I liked it. Would I buy one again? If it cost me the same as the DaVinci Leonardo, heck yes! Unfortunately, these are considerably more expensive, so more than likely, no, I wouldn't buy it again... So sad...
My Rating: 8

Monday, October 4, 2010

Arturo Fuente Hemingway Short Story

So on Friday night after I'd already smoked an Alec Bradley cigar down at the Patch, a good friend of mine showed up and wanted me to stick around and shoot the breeze for a while. Friday night, sure why not, I'm in no hurry to get home, although I would need to buy another cigar. So I went inside with a fellow aficionado in search of the perfect cigar. We came up with the Arturo Fuente Hemingway Short Story Perfecto 4 X 48.
I'll tell you right up front that I liked it. I later found out that it has a Cameroon wrapper, which just happens to be my preferred wrapper of choice. Anyway, it lasted less than an hour, which was perfect for me, and it didn't kick my ass, which also worked out nicely. A very good medium bodied smoke, maybe a little tight on the draw, but nothing to worry about. I found this little guy to be very enjoyable.
Would I buy it again? Maybe... I liked it, but I didn't love it, and for me to want to purchase a cigar it's either got to be a cigar that wowed me, or one where the price is just too darn good to turn down.
My Rating: 7.5
Just a reminder that the SmokeEasy Cigar Event is coming up  - Friday, October 16th, at the Little Creek Casino Resort in Shelton. I know, that's a LONG-ass drive for us Seattleites, but what the hell, it only happens once a year, so make the drive, it'll definitely be worth it!

Side note:
I made another visit to John Howie Steakhouse at the Bravern. It was better this time, but not great. Again, the breads and the soups are excellent, but the steak was just OK. Here's the thing  - I ordered a Rib eye steak medium, not medium rare or even rare, but medium. So when they brought the steak out, she asked me to cut into it to see if it was prepared to my liking. Hmm? Anyway, I sliced into the center of the steak and noticed that it was rare, not medium rare, but rare-rare. "Oh-oh" slipped out of my mouth. The waitress picked up on it and asked if I'd like to send it back to have the chef cook it a bit longer? Now in my book you only get one chance with meat - once it's cooked, it's done. You can re-fire it, but it's never the same once the meat has rested for a while. I decided to eat it their way. Oh well, no big deal, it was still a lot better than the last time we were here.
One other little complaint that I have is in their presentation - they bring your steak out on a big white plate, just the steak sitting there all by itself, no garnish, no decoration, no color, just a hunk of beef sitting on this big white dish. It just looks weird to me. Heck, put a sprig of rosemary, or a touch of parsley, anything to give it some life! Look at me, the food critic - ;)
BTW, I already had a $100 gift certificate for this place, but they comped my dessert as well since the steak wasn't perfect - $18 Bananas Foster. That was very good indeed!