Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Cigar Review: Crowned Heads Juarez

The other day I had an afternoon to myself and decided to go see an old friend I haven’t seen in a while. Several years ago I was a volunteer firefighter for nine years and he and I served side by side. Before you say anything about volunteer firefighters let me explain. In our department we had the same training, had to go to the same schools as regular departments and had the same equipment we just didn’t get paid for it. I drove to his house and was greeted with open arms by him and his wife. We sat and talked and brought out photos and shared memories. I brought two cigars with me to share, Crowned Heads Juarez.  
The cigar itself brings to mind a rustic past. The band plays a huge part of the overall look and the color is a sublime dark earthy brown. The pre light draws give hints of cocoa, and spice. I handed to one to my friend and once punched, torched them up. The grand first puffs gave a smooth and velvety cocoa essence with spice right behind it. After a quarter inch in, the cocoa and spice was greeted with a bountiful blend of earth and what I would compare to the aroma you get from a high end dried fruit mix. Ever open a bag and check the aroma? If it’s a good brand the aroma is enticing. This combination was delivering a plethora of abundant flavors that danced on the palate. My old friend made the comment that this is, “What a cigar should be.”.
As we were enjoying the smokes, we continued to reminisce. On one house fire, it was a cabin; you could say it was the hottest fire we encountered. Four departments were called as it was a large house and very involved. On this one, he and I pulled hose to work on the outside as other crews were headed in. we worked our way to a bedroom window and the room was fully involved. We were about three feet from the window when we throttled the hose open. I had just enough time to shout “Shield”, which means lower your head until your face shield touched your turnout gear, before the fire in the room shot out the window and for seconds, which seemed minutes, engulfed us. It will absolutely wake you up. 
Laughing now about things that happened, the cigar was moving into the second third. One of the great things about this cigar is the silky smoothness of the smoke. Never harsh, bitter or overly biting but easy to smoke on the palate and retrohale. Moving into the second third, the flavors were going through multiple changes of place in position, but with each change between the cocoa, earth and now touches of chicory coming in, the smoker is never lacking in a pleasurable smoke. A fine dark wood was beginning to envelope the flavors as the cigar continues to fascinate the senses giving an added bonus to the smoke.  
The conversations and memories continued to pour like rain in a thunderstorm. Things we never want to forget and some we wish we could. Any firefighter can tell you there are some things you see that will haunt you forever, that to this day will make you shudder at the thought. But it’s all part of what you sign up for. You know the risks you take every time you hear the tone and answer the call yet you go because somebody needs you, somebody is in trouble, is losing their house, in a wreck or medical call, but somebody needs your help. I’ve been in funerals for fellow firefighter who paid the price of service as well. We went silent for a moment thinking about those gone and raised a glass in their honor. 
I was getting ready to head home as the Juarez was in the final third in which the same succulent flavors were morphing and changing, giving each puff uniqueness. The spice had become a tad more intense as the chicory and earth took the main stage. The final puff gave a perfect richness in the two. Crowned Heads Juarez is a great cigar and at a price you can’t argue with. This is one you can smoke over and over with full enjoyment.

Peace and Smoke,

Friday, March 6, 2020

Cigar Review: Southern Draw Firethorn

These days I write when I have time and unfortunately, there is never enough. But certain cigars will cause me to stop and write when I am impressed by them. One such cigar is Firethorn from Southern Draw. The construction is wonderful with a even leaf color and few veins. Once cut, the prelight draw gave hints of aged tobacco and earth with a touch of wood. Once the torch went to work, the first few draws gave a nice hit of pepper with roasted nuts. Shortly after the start, the pepper remained zesty but not overbearing with the roasted nuts coming through more mixing with a slight sweetness that reminded me of caramel you find in some candy bars but just enough to show. The richness of the tobaccos shown through perfectly in the flavors. Deep into the first third, a hint of smoky wood began to show.

I took this cigar and walked out side under the carport, a time to relax and unwind which is rare. I love old blues, BB King and more, so I turned on the tuns and let them play as I prepped my grill to set it up for smoking.

As the wood and coal were being set in the fire box, the Firethorn was showing its colors. The deep pepper spices that wrapped around the flavors so well that in each draws they blended smoothly. The roasted nuts was much akin to deep roasted pecans and the slight caramel sweetness still touched each puff. The smoke in the second third was thick and velvety, and the wood that had begun to show now gave its flavor in a smooth undertone under the rest. This cigar does not stop in amount of flavor, giving a wall of a splendid combination.

Thoroughly enjoying this cigar I fired up the grill and began to set it up for the next few hours.  Roast as well as a brisket where prepared and waiting for just the right time.

I poured a nice beverage and turned the music up as the final third moved in. The flavors were more pronounced, changed in place, with hints of raisins coming in put not to a point of interference but enough that it made for a very enticing smoke. The last puffs of this wonderful cigar gave that great spice with a touch more wood. The Firethorn is a win, and one fine cigar. Do not miss this one.

Peace and Smoke,


Saturday, August 31, 2019

Cigar Review: Jacobs Ladder

The south has had many movies, stories, jokes and some ill thoughts about it for years, but to be honest I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. The people, food, tradition and ways are different than anywhere else and down here we take it to heart. Recently I went to a “Gathering”, something I haven’t done in years. I was invited by a family friend to their place and was told to, “Meet us down in the back.” What that means is not at the house but down way back in the field near the creek. So that afternoon I took beverages and cigars and headed out. When I arrived at his farm the gate was open and you could see several sets of fresh tracks so I followed them to the gathering. Several pickup trucks, of course, where there as well as a couple tractors, and it was clear that a bonfire has been stacked for later. I noticed several coolers and three grills had been readied so I knew this was going to be a very late night. After walking around greeting people I sat with some old friends with a beverage while others where starting grills. The good nature, conversation and smell of the grills where setting in and this was shaping up right.
I pulled a Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder from the travel humi to enjoy. Great looking cigar, with its Broadleaf wrapper nice and dark. Once cut I set torch to work and the cigar lit wonderfully. Upon lighting I was greeted with dark roast coffee like I had in New Orleans for years. With that, a fine mix of cocoa, smoky oak and cayenne spice. This cigar is a mouthwatering treat. Further in, the spice moved back a touch as the wood, cocoa and coffee danced in unison. Excellent.
Someone was cooking steaks as another was cooking ribs, the smells were inviting and here, no matter who you are, you could help yourself to anything. The music began to play and four wheelers were headed to the creek as others sat in lawn chairs or tailgates just enjoying the afternoon. This is country living, where people gather to unwind and enjoy outdoors. Jokes old and new as well as tall tails were being told, as well as good natured ribbing to friends.
The cigar was now well into the second third as the oak and cayenne works in complete perfection and the coffee became more of a dark coffee and chicory affair. The richness of the blend is very clear and very well done. Into the final third the wow factor increased as did the strength. The smoke is thick and bountiful, smooth as velvet. As the cigar came to a close it never lets up on flavor showing its complexity with each puff. Look for these and pick up a few and see what flavors greet you, they are very well done.

Peace and Smoke,