Monday, March 24, 2008

Gran Habano - 3 Siglos

February 28, 2008 -- I choose to celebrate my brother's birthday by grabbing dinner in an Italian restaurant and cigar bar. After polishing off a little chicken with toasted cheese ravioli at the Cigar Box, I settle into a Maker's Mark manhattan and a Gran Habano 3 Siglos. It was part of a 20-pack sampler of Gran Habanos and it has turned out to be my favorite - as excellent a blend as the blonde 5-pack was bad. But that's another review.

Anyway, at $2 a stick, I'm ready for anything. I am very pleasantly surprised. As I sit and puff away, Kellie makes fun of me and we enjoy the lounge singer attacking Journey songs with a vengeance. 3 Siglos translates as "three centuries". Hard to imagine that three centuries ago, no one could have dreamed of the huge glass buildings a couple blocks away - the angular glass-walled Kansas City Star presses, the bowl-shaped glass Sprint Center, the ovalishly cylindrical glass H&R Block building. Or the strip club next door.

The ratings played out like so:
  • Appearance - 5 \ Medium width and length at 5X50 robusto. Attractive white & gold double label.
  • Burn - 7 \ Perfect halfway through but did become somewhat uneven over time.
  • Draw - 8 \ Effortless.
  • Plummage - 7 \ Solid plummage.
  • Flavor - 10 \ Suprisingly flavorful with a notable spice.
  • Overall - 9 \ Very likable and an excellent value.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Arturos Fuente Gran Reserva

So I'm not into name brands for hardly anything. Ask anybody who knows me... A brand has to earn my respect -- consistently -- for me to pay more money for it than something else similar at a better price. I do not swoon over brand names.

So when I picked up this Arturo Fuente, I did so because of its impressive size. I just wanted to know what it would be like. Figured it would be good to mix things up some random winter day with a good novelty smoke.

I didn't get around to unpacking this Big Bertha of cigars until a couple of months after its purchase at the Outlaw Cigar store. On the cold evening of February 15th, I found myself at a place as worthy of eyebrow raising as my Fuente boomstick. Kell and I were kicking it at the Kickstand, a local dive we enjoy that manages to cross a biker bar with your uncle's 1970s basement. (If your uncle was a swingin' redneck or buff, that is.)

It's like an old college dive bar, but for mostly blue collar folks. Various union stickers plaster the cramped bathroom's walls. Booths are the size of a spacious phone booth. Christmas and Halloween lights are draped across a ceiling married to brick walls and dark wood paneling. As I order a whisky and a rum-drink, somebody tells me I look like Perseus from Clash of the Titans. And although I thank him for the compliment, the way he's laughing his head off, I get the feeling he didn't really mean it that way. Another fella and his wife come over to me to pay tribute to my stogie and my smokin' hot girlfriend. It's a quick opportunity to feel like you're in a rural American bar while still being in the middle of a metropolis, and I like to drop in once in awhile.

After an hour of half-hearted inattentive sound checks, the middle-aged band explodes into bluesy hard rock renditions of classics. "Travelin' Band" starts it out and flows into songs with refrains such as "That's a cold shock, baby" and "Give me a beat, boy, and Free my soul"...

As for my cigar's ratings, here you go:
  • Appearance - 6.5 \ Long to the point of ludicrous. Classy label and sod-hued wrapper.
  • Draw - 9 \ Surprisingly decent draw. Firm but fluid.
  • Burn - 8 \ OK, especially considering the length. Impressive and even burn for so long a stick.
  • Plummage - 7.5 \ Smoke smelled good and put off good amounts.
  • Flavor - 5 \ Extremely tasty to start but a little bitter at the end.
  • Overall - 7 \ Better than expected and a fun change of pace.
Now since I paid $7-12 retail for this giant, I'm not singing its praises to the mountaintops. But when you've got a cigar you enjoy far more than you expected, you're sharing an adult beverage with your sweetheart, and you start to find yourself jamming out to live covers of Creedence Clearwater Revival, life's looking pretty good.