Thursday, October 15, 2020

Just My Opinion

 Cut, light, puff and enjoy. Simple words that open up a world of possibilities to the cigar smoker including our freedom to do so. Fine hand rolled cigars is a business for some, a hobby for others, but for all an item of sheer pleasure. We cigar smokers come in various shapes and sizes, languages, occupations and life styles, be they male or female. Nevertheless, no matter who the are or what their status is in life, the one thing each shares is a passion for fine hand rolled cigars.

What is a cigar after all but leaves that have been cured and rolled into a cylinder shape and consumed? However, they are so much more. Expert blenders, rollers, artists, etc. that work in unison to create a master piece of art work that delivers to the cigar lover a never ending combination of wrappers, binders and fillers to give blends that deliver the pleasure that each seeks. To sit and clip a cigar, letting the torch touch the foot of a prime blend causing the smoky essence trapped within to flow from its captivity, drawn through the cigar then engulfing the palate. The flavors of the cigar with its smoky transformation bringing to the receiver true relaxation and the joy the seek. A fascinating thing about cigar smokers, we can be strangers but when cigars are lit or talk of them commence, it is an instantaneous icebreaker making friendly conversations, laughter and even causing friendships to be created.
Its true cigar smokers, writers, companies and retailers are somewhat of a community, somewhat of a family. It’s odd how the outside world misunderstands our passion or enjoyment. Today we have politicians and certain groups who in there misguided thought patterns and not so hidden agendas, try to take away the things we enjoy. What they seem not able to understand is that unlike cigarettes, cigars are not a habit but our pleasure, not our addiction but our satisfaction. The problem is, and do not be fooled by their comments, they do understand they just do not care. They care not about what you want as long as their agenda gets fulfilled. What they actually seek is to regulate and take away the thing we enjoy. Different attempts are always made but our freedom to enjoy fine cigars still exists.
It’s wonderful to have an object that people from so many different walks can sit and enjoy together. It does not matter if you a seasoned smoker or someone new to the world of cigars, we are all equal when it comes to the pleasure. What a variety we have that we can choose from, all manner of blends and shapes, from those who like the very mild to those who tackle the heavy hitters of strength. It really does not matter how strong a cigar you smoke, mild or strong, all are equal. There are many of us who write about the thing that we so enjoy, we talk of a plethora of different flavors, tones and notes. Words written of the good and bad points of different cigar, some we like and some not. Should someone read cigar reviews? Yes of course, a cigar smoker should read anything they can. Should someone let a review make his or her decision on to buy or not to buy a cigar? Absolutely not. We all like different things, try it and make up your own mind.
The next time you walk into a B&M, one where you can smoke at, select a great stick, sit back and be glad that you are still free to do so.


Peace and Smoke,

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Cigar Review: Bellas Artes Maduro

Recently I turned 60 years old and decided to go back to where I grew up and look around, been a while sense I had been There. 

I stopped at my sisters house for a few minutes to catch up then headed out to walk the farm. I brought with me a great cigar from A.J. Fernandez, the Bellas Artes Maduro. Fantastic looking cigar with a rich Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper with a nice dark chocolate colored appearance. Nice and smooth with excellent construction. Once cut I set the torch to work and it began perfectly. The art work on the band itself is superb. 

The experience began with a mild spice mix that lasted briefly, about a quarter inch in, then gave way to a tasty mix of fresh turned earth, dark coffee and a mild hint of bitter sweet chocolate. Soon into the smoke, the first third was under way with the dark coffee becoming more of a south Louisiana coffee and chicory flavor with the chocolate darker and reminds me of when I was little and my grandmother giving me a chocolate bar and sharing her big coffee cup. These flavors twirled and moved together in a dance of perfection being wrapped together with hints of smoky wood. 

I was truly enjoying the start of this cigar as I decided to walk down to the creek first at the back of our property. The fence we use to work so hard to keep in shape was rusted and broken in some areas as I stepped over it and onto the sand bar. I sat on a fallen tree for a few minutes looking at the place I spent many summers growing up. When work was done I would head here to swim and have fun. I found what was left of an old swing we use to use and even where we pilled rocks for camp fires. As I walked back to the field, I headed to an old barn and corn crib where we feed cows and stored hay. 

As I walked, the cigar was moving into the second third. The coffee and chicory was clearly bolder. The mild spice that came at the beginning was starting to return but with a hint more of a red pepper zing to it that matched perfectly with the coffee. The chocolate became more of a higher cocoa content reminder and still these flavors continued to enthrall the taste buds with a delightful morphing of predominant placement, and the smoky wood tops them off. 

I walked into the old barn and it was clear it needed work. Two very old square bales of hay remained or what was left of them as well as an old plow. I thought about the cows we feed here and the time spent, loving every minute of it. It was a great way to grow up. Looking in the old corn crib, it smelled of rats, old husks and dirt. I spent many days right here shucking corn, feeding nubbins to the cows, and shelling corn. My father and I would talk, tell jokes and tell me about growing up right. I left there and walked across the fields where we grew hay and corn. Seems like so very long ago, wish many times just to go back for a while in time. 

I said goodbye to my sister and as the cigar was moving into the final third I pulled up and parked at the old house. I did not get out and go in, I just sat for a few minutes looking around. Moving into the final third, the flavors had become bolder with the coffee and chicory still up front but the chocolate had transitioned more of a home made brittle taste with the spice blend and smoky wood switching back and forth in place. Each draw was an experience unto itself as the flavors flowed in waves. Very smooth to smoke. the cigar finished beautifully with the last draw having a touch more spice but the coffee and chicory still up front. I headed back home, thoughts running through my mind, memories of years gone by, and and missing some loved ones. But as someone once said, life goes on. If you have not tried the Bellas Artes Maduro, do not pass it up, its one great smoke.

Peace and Smoke,



Tuesday, August 18, 2020

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,