Monday, July 15, 2019

Cigar review: Crowned Heads Las Calaveras 2019


Recently I had a little time off and as it has been some time since I had been to the old farm site where I grew up, I decided to take a drive. I grew up on a small farm that was typical of the time, we had cows, chickens, horses, etc., and fields and a large garden. There was always work to be done but even with the hard work, it was a great way to grow up. After my parents passed years ago, we had moved off due to work. As I drove into the yard, old emotions and memories started pouring in, both good and bad. As I sat there in my truck for a moment, I reached into my travel humidor and selected a Crowned Heads Las Calaveras 2019 to enjoy during my visit. The Las Calaveras began in 2014 with each years blend being unique and always complex and abundantly packed with complex flavors.
Absolutely stunning in appearance and that red band sets it off. The wrapper is smooth with few veins and once clipped, I made fast work with the torch. A very succulent spice greeted me with the first draws but not overbearing, along with touches of dark earth and smoky black oak. Shortly in, the smoke is velvety smooth, and the spice mentioned before was showing more of a dried cayenne affair but again not overdone but just the right touch. Into the first third, the dark earth and black oak were in unison being joined by a very mild but noticeable hint of fruit, much like fruit from the dehydrator, which ebbed its way among the main flavors. Wrapping these together was nuances of dark roasted coffee bean. This cigar is pouring on the flavor and is showing how good it is. 
Walking around the farm is like a trip in time. In the old pump house is still tools we used for small repairs, cans and drawers full of screws, bolts, nails, etc. Articles hang on the walls that were there when I was a child. I walked along one of the old fence lines, barbed wire rusted, and some fallen, I think back to those hot summers of digging post holes and stretching barbed wire and hoping it didn’t snap. 
As I walked the cigar was getting into the second third and shining brightly. The smoke coming from this cigar is buttery smooth, the oak and earth are morphing, still present but the roasted coffee bean was more as coffee and chicory in flavor, add into this bountiful blend a lightly sweet cane syrup sweetness flowing among the favors and you have got a cigar that is filling all your cigar expectation. 
I walked down to the creek in back of the property, the bank being about seven feet above the water on our side and gazed at the sandbar and that clear running water. As far back as I can remember, this is where you went to cool off, have fun and relax. 
As I made it back to my truck the cigar was into the final third. The flavors have become more pronounced but matching each other perfectly. The oak had now started to lessen with the now coffee and chicory rounding it out. The mild sweetness worming and twisting its way among the tastes flowing abundantly causing this cigar to have a kaleidoscopic dance of sublime intoxication. 
A truck pulled in behind me and I recognized one of our old neighbors. We talk for a few minutes before he left and shook hands, I promised to come for a visit. Getting in my truck I finished this amazing cigar that at the close gave a ramped-up spice with an abundance of wood, dark coffee and chicory with a touch of rawhide leather. This cigar is bar none the best yet of the Las Calaveras line, and gets a 5 out of 5 score, hitting every bell and whistle. If you enjoy a very complex and exquisite cigar, do not pass this up.


Peace and Smoke,
Gator

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

Sizes:
Torpedo size 6.125x52
LC54 size 5.5x54
LC50 size 5x50
LC46 size 6x46

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Cigar review: Crowned Heads Court Reserve XVIII

Every so often, something special comes along. After all the years in cigars its rare that i am surprised at any new release. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that there are not cigars I'm really pleased to see come out, it is just not much surprise. but this year is different. Last weekend I had a project I wanted to work on, some art that I have been meaning to get to. Took a photo in Colorado several years ago of a very old barn and I wanted to get it on paper. Having a day with out pressing matters, I gathered my supplies and set up in my office at home. I took a sheet of parchment paper and attached it to the board and set out the technical pens I love to use. I never draw with out a cigar so for today's work I picked out the new Crowned Heads Court Reserve XVIII. The band is beautiful, and the Mexican San Andres wrapper has a nice touch of oily sheen to it with its deep rich color. Once cut, the pre light draw gives hints of aged tobacco, nutmeg and a very nice hint of orange zest. This was unexpected and very pleasing.
lighting up, I had to smile because there is no waiting for flavor from this cigar. Right from the start it gives you a bounty of delectable flavors. Spice and peanut brittle combines with the citrus zest producing an elegant smoke. Further into the first third, the aroma is awakening the senses as the peanut brittle morphs into more of an oven parched peanut affair with a mild sweetness reminiscent dark malt. Combine this with the taste of the rich tobacco being emitted and you have a profusion of engaging flavors.
As I was thoroughly enjoying the cigar, I began my work on the project at hand. I began with a 7H pencil lead and carefully laying out the building, framework and environment. Once done, I began with a .13 technical pen, laying in the outlines of each board, post and roofing. 
As I began to start applying texture to the board surfaces of the barn, the cigar was moving well into the second third. The citrus zest was still present as is the parched nuts. The mild sweetness as before mentioned was not as pronounced but yet the taste of the dark malt has enveloped with the parched nuts giving a deep rich smokiness to the cigar. Each draw presents the flavors in an entangled web of combinations, switching placement in manifestation of placement. The citrus zest I mention is captivating due to the fact that its affect upon the savoriness of the blend. It is a perfect match, not over powering but ever present, causing the amplification of the cavalcade of tastes. exquisite to say the least.
Board after board, placing line work and shadows. Creating the appearance of age and wear. Spending time with a magnifying glass as to get each identifying mark accurate on the building. 
Moving into the final third, the flavors have elevated somewhat. More intensity each singularly and unified. A deep smokiness, rich in the essence of the tobacco coated the combination as if drawn by an engineer. An appearance of nutmeg began to show as was first gathered in the pre light which caused the the mix of zest, nuts and now dark wood to be completely pleasing in every aspect.
Finishing this cigar had me wishing for another but here again, work needed to be finished on the drawing at hand.
When this cigar hits the shelves treat yourself to some and see what you gather from it. No ones ever tastes the same things as we are each individual smokers but the great expectation is in the smoking.

Peace and Smoke,
Gator      




The finished work

Friday, June 21, 2019

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,

Gator