Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Gurkha "Nepalese Warrior"

I decided to brave the "wind advisory" in effect for today (40 mph gusts in KC equals a temperate breeze in Dodge City) and enjoy the unseasonably warm temperature of 61 degrees. However, my ignition tool is less than adequate on a still day let alone a very windy one. Combine that with some questionable construction and the total score for this admirable smoke suffered more than perhaps it should. We'll see. My wife gave me 20 of these delightful stogies and I'm looking forward to refining my opinion after really getting to know it.

The Nepalese Warrior is the same cigar as the Class Regent with the exception of the dark brown Cameroon wrapper.

Construction: 4?
W.T.F? This shipment of cigars suffered some slight damage in the factory perhaps. I gently pulled two more out of their wrappers and found flaws in all of them; though most are very small. The wrappers all feel a little dry and brittle. A few more weeks in the humidor might ease that a bit but I don't know. In any case, taking the guillotine to the end of it make a horrid crunching sound and caused more flaking and peeling than I think is normal. As it burned, the much vaunted Cameroon wrapper gradually peeled off and blew away. Still, I managed to smoke it down to the nub; that is, it held together well enough for me to smoke it. Others in the shipment might be better.

Appearance: 8
I love Gurkha's labels. I particularly like the Legend Aniversario and the Royal Brigade colors but this one is nice as well. While brittle (see above) the wrapper is lovely to look at and I like box-pressed cigars. Still, they feel a little....delicate in the hand and they're not very big. Not that I'm preoccupied with size mind you.

Burn: 7?
The wind was kicking my arse on this one. I never did get it evenly lit (crappy butane torch) so it didn't burn evenly. My guess is that it would normally burn easy and even under anything less than hurricane force winds. I never had to re-light it.

Flavor: 9
Here is where this baby shines. I like medium-bodied consistent smokes and this one fits the bill without par. Slightly sweet with a very nice leathery smell throughout. Earthy and super smooth all the way. There was only a dash of pepper toward the end.

Unlit Smell: 8
I love smelling cigars. In fact, I think I like smelling them unlit more than I like smoking them. However, man can endure only so much foreplay; it's going to get smoked sooner or later. The smell brings more of that leathery goodness. A fine sniffer despite not being a powerhouse smoke which typically smell better but don't suit my palate.

Value: 10
On the small size, it only took me about an hour to finish. For me that's not a detractor. My patience level with cigars is about 60 minutes anyway. I got 20 for $30 plus shipping. Perfect.

Plumage 8?
Hard to say when I was smoking in a tornado. It put out a fair amount of smoke under the circumstances. Another smoke will tell me more.

Special: 8
It's a Gurkha, yo. Some some respect.

Total Score: 8

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Punch Maduro Rothchild

Here are the tools...lovingly displayed atop my right thigh. I paired this baby up with a nice coffee that my brother Eric bought me in KC.

This is a special cigar...it was given to me by my father over Christmas. Gift cigars always seem to smoke better...and since this is a Punch, I had high hopes. It had been cooking in my humidor for about three weeks and was begging for me to give a try.

I gotta work late tonight...so I figured I'd take a long Lunch and treat myself.Even the 28 degree January cold couldn't keep me away from this...besides, I was nice and warm in the M.S.S.!

I hadn't had a smoke since Saturday (five days ago?) and when I had, I was sickly and stopped up. This Punch really hit the spot! The prelit aroma smelled pungent and just a little grassy-very nice.

Most Punch cigars seem to be medium to full in flavor and light to medium in body...I always enjoy the flavor but rarely get dizzy or suffer any adverse effects from enjoying one. This one was no different.

The draw was perfect-I got a little resistance but not much-perfect .The first few puffs imparted a good maduro flavor. The smoke smelled a little spicey and was very full. The smoke left a little aftertaste behind...reminded me of tea at times and at other times chocolate. About 1/2 way into the smoke, the plumage seemed a little thicker and smelled less spicey and a little sweet.

The burn was perfect. Not one touch up was required. I did find that smoking it a little slower hepled a lot with the flavor-when I was rushing it, the stick got a little bit more bitter. As soon as I slowed down, it kicked right back to goodness.

Construction: 10 (counts double)
Flavor: 8.5 (tasty but didn't change much)
Value: 8
Plummage 9 (odor and quality of smoke very high)
Special: 8 (This category varies from cigar to cigar-in this case the score is to
represent the great consistancy that Punch has)
Total Score: 9

Punch cigars always "do it" for me. They have a nice band, good price, and are very reliable.

Here's a pic from my "Head Cam"...so you can see the smoke and the world from the cigar's viewpoint!

And here is a special bonus pic of the M.S.S. (Mobile Smoke Shack).
While I smoked this little dude, I reflected upon the good times I had over the holidays...seeing Family, and such. I also had good memories of the Gaming Trip in Topeka last weekend...very fun and good to see all the guys again.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bundelo Havana Rose

It's Friday night at Mike Kelley's Westsider in Kansas City. Eddie Delahunt, Gabe, and another fella are churning out the terrific traditional Celtic tunes. I have my lady by my side as we enjoy a night off. Above you can see my Boulevard Pale Ale, my "indoor lighter" (it has a mellow flame that isn't too hot at resisting wind), and my Bundelo Havana Rose cigar. Never heard of this one, never seen it before, but I'm looking forward to giving it a try. It is quite possibly the thickest stogie I can remember ever putting in my mouth.

Using my not-yet-patented rating system, I delivered the following category ratings as my puffing experience wore on:

  • Appearance - 6 \ Its huge ring gauge is impressive, as is its traditional shape and rich brown hue.

  • Draw - 3 \ Pretty tough throughout.

  • Burn - 3 \ With its thickness and poor draw, lighting this bad boy from the get-go was challenging and led to burn problems. But even with frequent lighting maintenance, the uneven burn never really corrected itself satisfactorily.

  • Plummage - 2 \ The amount of smoke plumes this stogie produced were underwhelming on the whole.

  • Flavor - 3 \ The flavor never really drew my attention, although it was doable.

  • Overall - 3.5 \ I enjoyed the full-bodied nature of this tobacco truncheon (especially the pleasant little buzz at the end), and actually noticed a nutty aroma to the smoke (although I never tasted that.) It was a muy macho stogie with the novelty of its girth alone, making you feel like you were smoking a golf ball. But generally, my key categories (flavor, burn and draw) were lacking.

So, I can't say I'd recommend this stogie, other than for the novelty... But I enjoyed myself nevertheless. Just look at this monster!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Holt's Connoisseur Selection (Knight)

Holt's Connoisseur Selection (Knight)

Here's my tools and Scotch...I'm ready to roll! Too bad it's January and a sunny 35 degrees out...I'll be smoking in the M.S.S.!

This is the best "House Brand" I've ever had. It's WAY better than stuff like the CI Legends...it's made by Holts but Don Pepin Garcia created the blend. I think I paid $4 a stick.

It starts out with a blast of pepper that comes and go throughout the smoke. At about 1/2 an inch, I started to wonder if it was going to be too spicey for me to finish and it mellowed a bit...and then the spice came and went throughout the little dude. To me this cigar is defined by the pepper taste, the medium to full body, and the thick smoke. You have just enough of resistance on the draw that the smoke is...heavenly.

When the stick gets going, it's like a donkey punch to my poor abused sinuses...it's like pulling the covers off of Scott and screaming "wakey wakey, eggs and bakey!". If you don't know Scott...well...you're probably not reading my blog.

Here I am, enjoying the pepper and thick smoke!

Smokes like these make me forget about my trials and enjoy life.

These cigars are solid. I've had about five and they all perform the same.

I'd give them a 7.5 or 8 on a 10 point scale.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Kahlua Robusto (yeah, that's right)

Let this be a warning to you. The flavored cigars really are as nasty as you think they are.

I'll be damned if this thing didn't smell nice unlit and the price was reasonable enough. Hell, it's a Drew Estate and that tubby bastard gets a lot of attention for what he creates (whether you like it or not). Admit it, we've all been drawn to the flavored cigars once or twice; like nubile cheerleaders experimenting with one another in college...tenderly...eagerly under silk sheets with....

Pardon me, where was I? Toxic smoke, right.

My experience with this thing was more complex than you might think. I didn't stick it in my mouth and immediately regret it. Quite the opposite...I was pleasantly surprised! With a beer in hand to cleanse the palate I found the draw delightfully easy and the burn as smooth and even as any top-shelf cigar I've ever smoked. I acclimated to the sweetness and began to enjoy the cigar like one would enjoy a candy bar. I began to think I had found a once in a while (a long while) treat.

I continued to suck on that thing like Ginger Lynn on set back in the 80s but by the time the cigar had peaked, I began to regret it. The sweetness came back with an unholy vengeance coupled with rancid pepper. Maybe I was lured into it's ease-of-draw and mild bodied character and just smoked it too fast. I don't know. What I do know is that I couldn't get that damn sickly sweet smell out of my nose and my nausea was rising to dangerous levels.

I tossed that Connecticut wrapped turd into the street and spent the next half hour in the bathroom waiting to revisit my dinner. It never made an appearance but the cold tile on my forehead felt pretty damn good. It also gave me time to reflect on my serious lapse of judgment and to swear before the Great Porcelain God to publicly renounce that cigar-demon so that I might save others from sharing my shame.

Like many things in life, the sweetest wrappers hide the foulest hearts.

Ovation Maduro

2008 01 07
Alec Bradley's Ovation Exotic Maduro (robusto, 5 x 50)
It was a typical cold and crappy January night and, though Michelle had seemed positive about my plans to light up, I knew that there was always a chance that I'd be needed for some "kid maintenance"...so I grabbed an Alec Bradley Ovation. The Ovations are cigars that I like to keep several around for-their likable, reliable, and affordable...so if I have to bail on it half-way, I don't feel like I just flushed a ten dollar bill down the drain.

I called up Rico to b.s. with but he was too busy...so I lit up alone.

This particular beauty was oily and good looking. I bought a sampler pack of Alec Bradleys for $40 and so I figure I paid around $2 for it in July of 2007, knowing that these guys would be pretty good smokes in Winter 2008, expecially if I let them sit a few months. The extra few months of age on these Alec Bradleys makes a big difference-when I first got the pack, I gave one a try and it was a bit...odd....

This dude was a yummy bastard.

The smoke was medium in flavor and in body-a fully decent combination for me. The flavors were consistent from beginning to end and the stick suffered no burn issues. It was a hearty "beef" type flavor, something I like, with a little pepper and maybe...charcoal smoke? Regardless, it was solid.

I would compare it closely to the El Rey del Mundo, except the El Rey is a stronger and all-around better smoke. The Ovation had a slight sweetness that tasted a tad artificial...and occasionally a weird "funkiness" that I couldn't identify.

Alec Bradley makes the Ovations, the Trilogy, the Medalist, Pryme, and Maxx (as well as other lines, I'm sure). Of these, I've tried all but the Medalist and find them all to be solid smokes. The Ovations and Trilogys in particular can often be found at pretty good prices ($2 a stick).

I rate these a "7" on my 10 point scale. They fill a nice niche-and give a lot of value. If the flavor was evened out a little (or even changed slightly as the cigar progressed), they'd score higher. I've had at least five of this make and model and I've had the same good experience with them all.

Here's an unflattering picture of me, in my Mobile Smoke Shack (M.S.S.), enjoing the Ovation. Note the ultra cool head band/led miner's light...very useful as the M.S.S. doesn't have interior lighting and it's tough to "ash" or read in the dark. Before I began using the miner's light, I managed to use the torch lighter on my finger on two separate occasions...and the Blazer PB-207 is hot enough to WELD WITH, so...
I thought I'd also note that, while smoking this bad boy, I made up some notes for the next Topeka game...Good times ahead!

Thompson Co. Deal

Alright, shizzle monkey, I'll contribute to this deranged bit of "Roger Ebert smokes a stogie."

I got a deal in the mail for 10 cigars at $19. Two of the ten I really like; there's a RP Vintage 90 and a Gurkha Gold. The others I have never tried. Remember, I like medium-bodied smooth smokes. In addition to the two listed above, it comes with: Bolivar, Thompson Tusker (their brand, obviously), Cusano Corojo 97, A Reyes Native, La Flor Dominicana 2000, La Paloma, Manolete (another Thompson brand), and Cohiba.

Ya'll have any experience with these smoke tubes?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

King of the World

El Rey Del Mundo

The Scene: It’s January 5 2008, around Noon and I’m smoking this dude outside…knowing that no matter how much I want it to be warm and nice, that it’s going to curl my toes with cold. Still, I haven’t had a smoke in four days and my new blog needs some lovin’ so here goes.

These dudes look elegant in their white wrapper…I’m not sure if they’re “maduro” or just dark. They don’t really have that sweetness that many maduros have. I might detect a little bit of expresso type taste along with a lot of deep muddiness.

This guy doesn’t look that manly and in the future I think I’ll get a “robusto” sized version of the El Rey. However, this guy is kind of like the new James Bond...kind of refined but you have no doubt that he’s all man.

The cigar took the flame well…and rewarded me a mouthful of musk. This stogie has a lot to live up to…given that my day began with a daughter’s kiss and progressed to a wife’s embrace…and eventually, my favorite coffee.

The El Rey Del Mundo (King of the World) is earthy-I detect no lemon, or chocolate or weird flavors that I hear about and (rarely) experience in a cigar. It makes me think of leather chairs, rib eye steaks, dark woods, single malt scotch and other symbols of successful masculinity. It’s no bullshit.

I don’t think that the flavor changes much but it’s a flavor that I enjoy Half way in, the burn is great. The ash is decent, though not crazy. The smoke is holding up well, in spite of a slight (but cold!) wind from the South. The box press form factor is not something I normally seek out…but it is coming in handy here…when I put it down the wind doesn’t roll it off my cigar rest.

I can smell it when I put it down and it smells better than it tastes-I always appreciate a cigar that I can smell. At times it reminds me of the smell of my dad’s pipe from when I was a kid, living on 4th street. I recall the contented look he had at those times. I like to think I’m experiencing some of that.

The Harp doesn’t really add anything to the experience but it doesn’t hurt either. I’d have chosen a Guinness (sp?) but my brother snatched up the ones I tried to take home with me over Xmas. Beatch.

The El Rey is indeed one of my favorite cigars…it’s a full Honduran puro that lives up to it’s name-it is one of the “Kings” of my cigar world…especially for the price (I think I got this dude for $3). It’s consistent, manly, and holds up well to the elements.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Introducing... Ryan T. Reid and stogies discussions to come

This blog is going to be the bomb. I can just feel it. You know how I can feel it? Because Ryan T. Reid has conceived it -- and his energy and passion and general chutzpah has already infused it.

Plus, he invited me to write on it once in awhile. So I'm already trumping him by putting down the first entry. How cool is that?

So, since this blog is about him and stogies, let me say this. I expect the same level of animated and provocative discourse to emerge from this blog as when we talk about stogies on the phone, or get together to smoke us some and talk about their flaws and merits.

Read on!