Monday, September 9, 2019

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,

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,

Friday, August 30, 2019

Cigar Review: La Coalicion

Let me say at the start that this is not a long review because some cigars just do not need a lot of words. They stand on their own merit.

An aunt of mine years ago had a German coo coo clock that I thought was amazing. I used to spend a week there every summer and was fascinated with the art work on the clock. Years later, the clock is now in my hands. Unfortunately it has seen some bad time in storage and was very dirty and the wood needed cleaning. I had a day to myself so it was time to bring the magnificent old clock to life. I set it on my work bench and laid out everything I would need. Before getting started, I went to the humi and pulled out a cigar which is a collaboration of Crowned Heads and Drew Estate called La Coalicion. Absolutely magnificent cigar. The pre light draw gave a wonderful aroma of aged tobacco and mild spice. The torch went to work and the smoke gave a grand entrance of flavor as mild spice, hints of clay earth and buttery smooth texture. The aroma and flavor brought to mind smoking a cigar at a grand floral garden in New Orleans. I leaned back in my chair entranced by the start of this cigar. As the first third continues in, light notes of powdered chocolate crept in. Succulent flavors twisting and turning as the stems of lilies in the breeze.

Completely enjoying this cigar, I began working on the clock.I began with brushes to remove as much dust and particle debris as I could from the small carved crevices in the wood carving, then starting with a stiffer small brush to remove buildup on the wood. As I continued to work, the cigar thundered in an elegant manner from the first third into the second with the showing of a slight appearance of sweetness that reminds me much of that mix of flavor you get in a maple covered King Cake, but only in hints for now. This very mild sweetness seemed to cavort with the powdered chocolate and spice as the clay earth moved into the background being replaced by what reminds me of pecan wood. The oral sensation this cigar was creating is phenomenal as further along the spice and sweetness were absolutely combined in a mix inseparable as an undercurrent of wood and spice wrapped them as a gift. Each note, each hint, each flavor combined in perfection with the other, neither overtaking the other but instead working in symphony together.

Smoking along, I had cleaned the wood and was finishing the inside works of the clock which needed cleaning and oiling with a very thin but lubricating oil. After reassembly, I began the task of oiling and polishing the fine wood. As I did, you could once again begin to see the beauty this very old clock has. The grain of the wood began to shine and when done I hung it on the wall, set the time and pulled the chain. It was as if the clock had never stopped, as it worked beautifully. As I sat admiring it and remembering some old times, we moved into the final third.

The thought of that grand garden returned as the earth lessened and the chocolate powder became more of a dark cocoa with the spice a touch bolder. The excellence of the blend has shown through from beginning to end with this cigar. In the last puffs, touches of bolder spice, that, along with the combination given, made this cigar amazing.

The La Coalicion is and outstanding cigar that should absolutely be tried.   

Smoke and Peace,