Sunday, September 28, 2014

October's Cigar of the Month: J Grotto Anniversary!!

What belongs in this box? you ask?

A secret we have been keeping for months. MONTHS I tell you. Our friend Paul Joyle, yes, he of the Silk Lancero, launched his newest line and waaaahoooooo! You are going to love it!

Ooooh. Pretty. And delicious.

More to come! We pinky swear! The more to come is here!!!

But right now, we're heading out to a cigar cruise, which is going to be wicked awesome! (And not just because it's in Boston Harbor!)

How to win the Cigar of the Month:

Comment on this post to be entered to win.  (Be sure to leave your email address so we can get in touch with you!) Want a second chance? Subscribe to our blog posts by email--over there on the right side of the blog.

The winner will be chosen on the 25th of each month--because my birthday is on the 25th (of December; be sure to mark your calendars), and what better way to count down to the blessed event than to give something away?

So! Comment below. Wheeeee!

September's Winner!! Wahooo!

Before we get into the October Cigar of the Month, let's stop and say congratulations to our winners from the September festivities.

I printed out all the names of the folks who commented on the September post and the blog email subscribers. I said to Valentino, "Pick a number between one and a lot."

He said a number that would require me to actually work at counting, but you know I am willing to suffer for you folks, so I did it. I counted.

Me counting. [source]

And the winner is...Marc LeBlanc from Chicago!! (Hi, Marc!) Wooooohooooo! This makes me happy for two reasons: 1. I like giving Valentino's stuff away and 2. I went to college (Southeastern Massachusetts University, back when that was a thing) with Marc way back in the day!

Then I started to feel guilty, like you guys would think the whole thing was rigged, which it totally wasn't, so I told Valentino to pick another number. He did.

Yes, I make this face. Be quiet. Math is hard.

So our second winner is... Matt Rosenthal! (Hi, Matt!)

Both kind gentlemen will get at least one of these and maybe (probably) (definitely) other cigary things.
One cigar. Not one box. I'm an instructor at state colleges, for heaven's sake.

Want to know what's up next? For October? We'll post all the deets soon, but for now...this is a pretty good hint:
Yep! The brand-spankin' new J Grotto Anniversary Series! [source]

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Words of Wisdom #26

"My boy! Smoking is one of the greatest and cheapest enjoyments in life,
and if you decide in advance not to smoke, I can only feel sorry for you."
-- Sigmund Freud - to his young nephew, Harry, after he declined a cigar

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Big Eek! Plus! Fun with Joya de Nicaragua and Tatuaje

The pair of caballeros and their lovely partners headed to Springfield, MA for the 99th annual Eastern States Exposition, known to most folks as The Big E. (Insert your own joke here.)

"The weeks-long shindig is billed as "New England's Great State fair". It is the largest agricultural event on the eastern seaboard and the sixth-largest fair in the nation. The Big E is inclusive of all six of the New England states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.* Each of the New England states is prominently represented at the fair," according to the Almighty Wikipedia.

We joined all the people in the world there. And they all decided to show up while we were safely ensconced in New Hampshire, thus lulling me into thinking the crowds wouldn't be all that bad. I do not like crowds. I do like Xanax**, which helps me not hate crowds of people as much, so there's that...

It may be nice and peaceful when you go in right as they open...
but not when you come out!! [source]
But that's beside the point. We're here to talk about cigars, and that's what we shall do...

While in Connecticut,

...we happened upon the Connecticut Valley Tobacconists, who were rolling and selling cigars.

Valentino picked one up and said it was a good smoke, although I think he was a bit distracted by the throngs of people to fully enjoy it. Unfortunately, all the smells of deep-fried everything in the world (or at least New England) kept me from actually enjoying it, so we're going to have to take his word that the cigar was pretty darned fab.

Once he finished that, he and Caballero #2 synchronized their smoking and this happened:

No, we did not ride any rides.
Unless you consider eating and shopping a ride.
Then, wheeee!

Every time I see this picture, in my mind,
I make a little toasting with glasses noise.
Clink! A votre santé! To your health!
Caballero #2 gave Valentino this Joya de Nicaragua Cabinetta, which I luuurved. Unlike the first cigar of the day, we were seeking refuge from the rain while he smoked this one, so I actually got to enjoy it.

Get them all! [source]

You know how any Nicaraguan cigar is almost always a slam dunk in Valentino World, so this one screams "Love me!" before a flame ever touches it. Because it's on the label and all. And because the filler and binder are from that very land and the wrapper is Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade and Nicaraguan Habana Criollo at the head.

What does all this mean? Super creaminess, which I'm learning is a slam dunk in Penny World. And just like a sugary dessert is enhanced by a pinch of salt, the pepperiness perks up the creaminess. This delight also has undertones of almonds, cocoa, and even a bit of earthiness.

Here's an interesting fact: Did you know Drew Estate handles the U.S. distribution of Joya, Nicaragua's oldest cigar company? True story.

Per usual, Caballero #2 brought a pocketful of cigars. For this portion of the show, he produced...wait for it...the Tatuaje Tattoo Caballero***!!

And then get these!! [source]

According to Cigar Coop, "While Tatuaje Cigars are made by My Father Cigars, this particular cigar is made at Tabacalera Cubana (TACUBA) in Esteli, Nicaragua.  TACUBA is a factory owned by the Garcia family.  It was opened when the Garcias expanded its operation out of El Rey de los Habanos in Little Havana, but before the construction of the My Father Cigars S.A. factory.  TACUBA is still used by the Garcia family today."****

As I didn't get close enough for a full-on second-hand smoke, we're going to go to CI for some deets: "The buzz has been flying over the reintroduction of the Tatuaje Tattoo series, which originally appeared in 2011 in a limited edition version. The cigar was massively popular, and for good reason, a great blend without the boutique price tag. There is no question why the new Tattoo should be any different, seeing as how it comes with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and an enticing mix of Nicaraguan filler leaves. Medium bodied and bursting with notes of cocoa, leather, pepper and a slight sweetness. To Tatuaje, all we have to say is this: Welcome back."

Many more cigars were smoked; much more food eaten; many much more people bumped into and hidden from.  Would I go back? I would, with a Xanax at the ready, just in case I start to get eeked and freaked out. You should come with us! I have enough for everyone! Wheee!


*Oh Vermont, I love your lovely earrings that lovingly grace my lovely ears. And New Hampshire? The maple candy? I want to marry it. Is that legal in your state?

**Which I have taken to calling "Mr. X" because I think it sounds very mysterious.

***I can't make this stuff up! How serendipitous!*****

****I don't know why the font is messed up here. Move on, please.

*****This is one of my favorite words of all time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

In which we invest in The Banker

During one of the many Italian feasts this summer that must surely annoy the residents of Boston's Hanover and surrounding streets, Valentino traded one of his beloved Leaf by Oscar cigars (Hi Jim! Hi Oscar!) for a Banker by H. Upmann with the fab guys from Rolling Stogies.

You already know our love for the Leaf (and of the leaf, obviously, but that's a different thing) and Valentino has been spreading the word like it's his job. (Which it isn't. He just loves them. Me too, of course--otherwise I totally wouldn't write about them. I'd be all, "What? No. Never heard of them." But we all know that's not the case.*)

Anyway, that night, he received and lit up this:
Ooooh. That looks like a million bucks!
Then, not too long ago, we had the opportunity to meet up with Tom Borio (Hi Tom!) from Altadis. (Just so you know, Altadis is the company that owns a boatload of brands, including H. Upmann, Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, and many more!) The Banker was coming to Habanos** and we were super excited, since we already knew much love existed between Valentino and his new discovery.***. He and Tom chatted for ages about all things cigar, and then Valentino suggestively sold (but not sold suggestively because that's something else entirely) them to all our pals.
Here's the thing about Valentino: He's very (very very very) persuasive. To quote my mom, "He could charm a hungry dog off a meat wagon." But he's also incredibly trustworthy and straightforward, so if he says, "You have to try this cigar," chances are, you're going to like it. And he really did like The Banker.
The cigar is composed of a dark Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder from the Jalapa region, and aged Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers.
Keep in mind, when we first encountered the classiness that is The Banker, we were surrounded by all the smells (pleasant and otherwise) that are part of a massive festival in the middle of Boston, so I took Valentino's word that the cigar achieved purchase-level status.
Once we were in the confines of the cigar bar and I could fully enjoy the Currency size (48 x 5.5--also available are Arbitrage at 56 x 7 and Annuity at 52 x 6).
As I jumped into the wake of his first couple of exhales, I liked the combination of coffeeness (It's a word now. Quiet, you.) and chocolateyness (Shut. Up.) with a hint of pepper. I guess that would make it mocha (with pepper, ew), but each flavor alternated, weaving in and out of each's presence rather than blending together to make something completely new. Think of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup--You can taste both the PB and C separately, which is fab. So too The Banker.
Then he wandered around, chatting, charming dogs off meat wagons, whatever. When he returned, the cigar was very different. The coffee and chocolate were still there, as was the pepperiness, but all had settled into the background, with an earthiness, not the dirty-kind of earthiness (you know what I mean), moving up to the front. The original creaminess that accompanied the first moments had split for parts unknown, its place taken over by rich tobacco.
"I was thinking I should buy a box," he said.
"You should totally buy a box," said the enabler, er, me.
We decided it would serve as an everyday, hanging around kind of smoke, the answer to "What should I have?" as he stands in front of the humidor, its door wide open and lights on, not unlike standing in front of a full refrigerator, wondering if there's anything to eat.
As you have probably figured out by now, I love a good (or great) backstory. Here's The Banker's story, according to the Montecristo Social Club website: "German bankers Carl and Herman Upmann traveled to Cuba to craft an exceptionally unique cigar in 1844. They locked it in the vaults and gave it as a special gift to their most important clients." We all know that means richest, right? Apparently, the bank burned down in 1922, and after all this time, the folks at H. Upmann are finally able to bring back, not quite the original, but something very close, from what I understand. I mean, I read it on the internets, so it must be true, right?


*Someone has obviously had way too much caffeine today. 

**Actually, The Banker comes to Habanos frequently and we love him! Hi Brian! :)

***The love was, and remains, one-sided, obviously. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Words of Wisdom #25

"Eating and sleeping are the only activities
that should be allowed to interrupt a man's enjoyment of his cigar."
-- Mark Twain

Saturday, September 20, 2014

::facepalm:: Cigar-cutting edition


We watched in horror as the young man tucked the cigar deep into the cutter and...

Let me back up. You should experience the event with the same shock and awe we did.

There we were, Valentino and I, sitting at the bar drinking ginger ale and water* and chatting with pals. Two very young guys came into the cigar lounge and bought a few cigars. (They weren't picky in their selections.) They asked to purchase a cutter too, although when told the cheapest would run them about $30, they changed their minds.

Valentino suggested they take them out of the cello, cut them, and put them back. He offered up his awesome** cutter. The poor young man looked at it, perplexed. And who can blame him? It looks like this:
What the what? Where does the cigar go? [source]

Valentino very nicely reached over and made it into a dilophosaurus when it opens its frill***:
No, it doesn't magically turn wood into carbon fiber.
This is for demonstration purposes only! [source]
And he handed it back to the young man, who proceeded to do this:
We held our collective breath and hoped, hoped, hoped he didn't actually squeeze and make the cut here.  The poor guy must have heard our very audible gasps, because he pulled back a bit. It wasn't perfect, but he would up cutting a little closer to this:

I hate being corrected in public**** so there's no way I can ever say the stuff in my head, which usually begins with, "Oh, honey, no..."

Thankfully, these two guys got out with the majority of their cigars intact, so yay!

You're welcome! [source]
In the meantime, I'm trying to figure out a way to correct folks without seeming to be correcting them or coming off like Sassy McBossypants, so if you have any suggestions...

*Cheap date. We're still really good tippers though!

**Awesome because I bought it. And had it monogrammed, because I am awesome x 2. And that was years and years ago!


****Although how often can it actually happen, since I am practically perfect in every way. Stop laughing. Oh, right, that was Mary Poppins, not me.

Obvs, not me.

Words of Wisdom #24

"Cigars served me for precisely fifty years as protection
and a weapon in the combat of life...
I owe to the cigar a great intensification of my capacity to work
and a facilitation of my self-control."
-- Sigmund Freud

Thursday, September 18, 2014

She blinded me with science! Plus! Deep Dish (but not apple pie!!)

I like Super Dave* and Sarah, Queen of Science.** They are nice, kind, funny, thoughtful people we see on the weekends and sometimes during the week at one of our hangouts.

Dave reminds me a little bit of my boy, so I have a little special place in my heart for him. Sorry, Dave, but not enough that I'm going to sign you up for Cigar of the Month Club too. But so very very close!

Here's what Dave smokes: the Drew Estate Acid Deep Dish, which makes me think of apple pie, which makes me think happy thoughts** Unfortunately, it doesn't smell like apple pie.

[Valentino would like me to point out here--not in a sparkle at the bottom--that deep dish could also mean pizza.  I say, "Shhh. Stop talking," because deep dish pizza? Yuck. I do not like the pizza bones or the 72 cubic tons of cheese on my pizza. And sauce on top of the cheese? What the what? So we're going to stick with this image:]

Not this. Boo. [source]
Luckily, I really like what the Deep Dish does smell like, which is fortunate, since I like sitting next to Dave and chatting. What's that? You want to know what it does smell like? Well, there's an underlying sweetness upon which rests hints of coffee and floral undertones. Mmmm. Almost as good as pie!

According to, "What I love about these Acid cigars is the fact that they are indeed ‘real’ cigars. If you retrohale them you can pick up the typical flavors you would in a cigar. I was finding this very woody and earthy note on the retrohale that complimented the sweet candied flavor on the lips. It’s actually quite enjoyable. The retrohale wasn’t packed with spice causing my eyes to water. It was a nice full flavored rounded out smoke."

This cigar is lovely. Except it doesn't smell like pie. I call shenanigans!

Drew Estate creates this infused cigar in their Esteli, Nicaragua factory. According to CI, "The Deep Dish is a chunky, 58-ring box-pressed beauty that's been carefully influenced by Drew Estate's proprietary recipe of aromatic herbs and botanicals. The smoke is exceedingly rich in tobacco flavor, thanks to a generous dose of black Nicaraguan long-fillers inside a light, silky-smooth Sumatra wrapper leaf."

As the cigar takes about an hour to smoke, that means I get to enjoy Dave and Sarah's company for a while!

Of course, Sarah is going to be solely responsible for me becoming an alcoholic. Every time I see her, she's requesting another delicious drink that I just have to try and then order my own.  One time, she said we were going to have chocolate cake shots.

I like cake. No, I loooove cake. She had the lovely bartender line up shots of Frangelico, along with a lime and packet of sugar.

"There is no way this is going to taste like a chocolate cake," I said.

"It will! It's science!" she proclaimed. 

So I dipped the lime in the sugar and then sucked on it, keeping the sweet juice on my tongue while I shot the Frangelico. I know my face lit up. "It tastes like chocolate cake!" I said, probably way too loudly.

It's this...but in a shot glass!!! OMG! [source]

"It's science!" she repeated.

Doubting Valentino doubted and so we lined him up with his own. And blammo. "It tastes like chocolate cake," he acquiesced.

"Science!" we all cried! And then ordered another, because...of delicious reasons.

Not this Super Dave. And by the way, have you seen recent pictures of this Super Dave?
He went a little heavy on the plastic surgery and Botox. Yikes. ::shivers::

**Obvs, not their real names.

***Did you know the Shakers ate pie for breakfast? True story. Ask my BFF Jame Richards!

How to not be a douchebag: Outdoor kiosk edition

There we were, sitting in the open-air piazza at Regina Pizzeria during the St. Anthony's feast in the North end of Boston at the end of August. 

Know why this picture is so good?
Because Valentino took it.

We'd ordered our two favorite pies (We're creatures of habit.) and had a lovely view of alllllll the people milling by and our old friends Rolling Stogies and their lovely sticks while consuming as many slices of pizza as two people can handle and not die.*

Our seats were the perfect vantage point to watch people who have never smoked a cigar choose one and then fumble around, trying to figure out what to do next. We would have gotten up and offered assistance, because we're nice like that, but we didn't because 1. We waited in line for half an hour for those seats and we were going to sit in them until we were forcably removed or melted by glaring stares of other people waiting in line; and 2. Pizza.

Here's what we saw, as the next generation of cigar smokers tried to impress friends and girlfriends. We had the sad and did much head shaking. 

If you want to look like a suave, experienced cigar smoker, please learn from their mistakes.

Step 1: Consult your friends and say the names of the few cigars you've heard of. Ask if the proprietor has those.  
What you should do: Right now, go to a local cigar shop or lounge, and ask the proprietor for recommendations; be sure to tell him** you're a novice. He will not judge you. He will welcome you. Take pictures of the bands and keep them in your phone, as well as make note of some of the names. No one will know you're you're using a cheat sheet when you approach the cigar kiosk with your friends. 

Step 1.5: Mention that you wouldn't mind buying a Cuban if he has any. 
What you should do: Don't ask. Even if he did have them, which he doesn't, he wouldn't sell them to you. 

Step 1.75: Dodge laser beams of hate radiating from proprietor's eyes. 
What you should do: Not have to worry about it, because you didn't ask.

Step 2: Ignore what the proprietor says because that cigar band over there looks cool. (No judgements; I buy books because they have cool covers.)
What you should do: Listen to the person speaking to you. He is an expert, or at least more of an expert than you are. Respect his knowledge. His goal is to sell you something you're going to like so you come back for more. 

Step 3: Select one cigar randomly and ask "Is this a good one?"
What you should do: Just like with food, everyone has their own taste. What Valentino loves, you might not because of the strength or taste or nicotine level. That doesn't make the cigar bad--just not right for you. So is it a good one? Yes--selling junk would hurt the shop's reputation. As for the Rolling Stogies, they only have premium cigars, so yes, they're all "good ones."

Step 4: Ignore proprietor again because your friend makes an uneducated suggestion. 
What you should do: Unless your friend has experience with cigars, you probably want to ignore him and listen to the person who knows what he's talking about. Probably a good suggestion across the board. 

"We're professionals. We're here to help!"

Step 5: Ask how much it is. 
What you should do: A valid question, of course. Usually, prices are marked.  If price is a concern, you might want to say when you first start chatting, "I'm looking for something in the $8 range." 

Step 6: When you're told the price, say, "What? For one? That's ridiculous. Forget it, man."
What you should do: If you are shocked, balk silently so as to not embarrass yourself in front of your friends. Please. It's the least you can do. Cigar smokers do not quibble over prices. You're paying for a hand-rolled product. Don't be a cheap bastard.  

Step 7: Have a dumbfounded look on your face when they ask if you'd like it cut straight, V, or punched. 
What you should do: For the love of all that is good and holy, do not suggest biting the end off. If you're not sure, default to straight. This will make smoking a bit easier. When you get some experience, you can experiment with different cuts. 

Step 7.5: Say you'll cut it and then when you're handed the cutter, slide the cutter about half an inch. 
What you should do: You have two choices here. 1. Hand the cigar to the proprietor when he offers and watch how he does it so you know for next time. Or: 2. Snip a teeny bit, and when we say teeny, we mean about one-sixteenth of an inch. According to Cigar Aficionado, a bad cut will ruin a cigar, so it's probably best, in this casual setting where distractions abound, to leave it to the professional. 

Step 8: Ask for matches and then try to light a cigar with said matches. 
What you should do: Unfortunately for you and the cigar, lighting a cigar with matches is difficult in general but definitely in this wind. We know you want to do it old school, but reject the challenge and use the proprietor's torch lighter he has at the ready.  If you're inside, go for it, but outside...meh. Your friends are only going to wait so long.

That's Mike (the Rolling Stogies owner), a good student,
and a slew of onlookers getting schooled.
Why is this weirdly blurry, you ask?
Sigh. Photography by Penny

Step 9: Puff once or twice because you saw someone on TV do that, feel satisfied and smug and walk away cockily. Realize twenty feet away that the cigar is out. 
What you should do: Lighting a cigar is a process that can't be rushed, like toasting a marshmallow, according to Cigar Aficionado. If your friends won't wait for you to complete the process because they light their cigs in a nanosecond, tell them you'll catch up with them. Otherwise you're going to be stuck with a dead stick pronto. 

Step 10: Hold your cigar with two fingers (pointer and thumb) while looking at the sky. Inhale. Raise your arm towards the sky and the arc it down like you're rowing a canoe. Blow the smoke straight up like you're a human smokestack. 
What you should do: Not that. Since we can't be there, we're going to suggest at this point, watch how the guys in the Rolling Stogies tent are smoking their cigars. 

So there you have it. We want you to look like a classy dude (or dudette). We want you to be the one folks look up to! We can help! Stick with us and we'll get you there!!

*Actually, Valentino saved a teeny tiny bit of room because our friend Omar was across the way shucking clams for immediate consumption as well. Then there was an arancini with my name on it too. It's always a big food day. Wheeeeee!

**Or her, obviously, but the he/she thing will clutter the writing. 

Words of Wisdom #23

"To fully appreciate fine cigars, it's important to recognize the various types of cigars.
There are two basic categories of cigar. The lit and unlit."
-- P. Martin Shoemaker

Monday, September 15, 2014

Words of Wisdom #22

"A cigar numbs sorrow and fills the solitary hours with a million gracious images."
-- George Sand

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Words of Wisdom #21

"A cigar ought not to be smoked solely with the mouth,
but with the hand, the eyes, and with the spirit."
-- Zino Davidoff

Friday, September 12, 2014

Words of Wisdom #20

"It has been my experience that folks who have no vices,
have very few virtues."
-- Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Poor Valentino! Or: "This doesn't suck." Or: All hail Padron!

Valentino puts up with so much. Recently, I underwent five days of IV steroids for my MS, while upping the dose of other meds and trying to not go crazy thanks to another drug and then trying to punch migraines in the face with yet one more. I am setting the scene! I am not looking for sympathy! I'm generally fine and never even think about it--unless I don't want to do something, in which know...

But as of this writing I am simultaneously foggy-headed, hyper, and zoned out. Then that changes and hungry takes over. Everything is nutty in Penny World. (And now! With nougat!*). 

So in an effort to distract him with his version of something shiny, I purchased this while at Habanos, hoping it might take his mind off the next wave of chemical crazy:

We've discovered over years of intensive research (hahahahaha) that Valentino is partial to Nicaraguan blends over all others. Not to say he doesn't love a variety of international smokes, because he will give anything a try and once he lights up, he's committed to finishing, regardless of his love level.** Although there was one cigar that he smoked about half an inch and that was that. Done. Fin. Kaput.  It was a generic cigar from a charity event. (Thanks, Brian! He should have let you throw it away!!)

Anyway, the Padron 85 Years, part of the Family Reserve line, is named in honor of Jose O. Padron's 85th birthday in 2011 and is available in natural and maduro 5 1/4 x 50 box-press robusto.
 Cigar Coop describes the smoke this way: "The start to the Padron Family Reserve 85th Natural was very similar to the pre-light draw with wood and pepper notes.  By about the five percent mark, some natural tobacco sweetness surfaced.  In the first half of the smoke of the Padron Family Reserve 85th, I categorized the pepper as a primary note, the natural tobacco sweetness secondary, and the wood notes tertiary.
"In the second half, the natural tobacco sweetness picked up quite a bit and came on par with the pepper.  I also detected some nut notes on the after-draw.  The nut notes slowly increased and eventually would push out the natural tobacco sweetness.   The last 25 percent of the cigar had a nutty and peppery profile."

Because my senses were all out of whack, I, unfortunately, didn't get to enjoy this beauty.*** Obviously I didn't think this purchase through before I handed it to him. But Valentino could taste and love it, giving it his highest praise, "This doesn't suck."
All the tobacco used in the Family Reserve series is aged ten years before becoming a premium cigar. 

Crank the Good Girlfriend Points up to 11!

Traveling Stogie stated in their review, "There was a bit of cocoa but and wood but the pepper really dominated the flavors.  The pepper settled down as I entered the first third and I immediately notice a cherry note with dark chocolate flavors.  The pepper is still there but the cherry is so distinct, I can’t help but focus on that.  The dark chocolate notes definitely help to balance out the flavor profile."

Reviewers at noted, "It started out full and ended as a solid medium."  They also said, when giving the cigar a 90 rating, "Whenever we review one of the Family Reserves, I feel like we are in the middle of Groundhog day, as we always seem to say the same things. In my opinion, Padróns have never been the most complex of cigars flavor-wise and the 85th is no different. However, the flavors it does have are dark, intensely rich and distinct. When you add in the amazing construction, draw and burn, and it is easily a very good cigar."

During the onset of our courtship, Valentino said, as I flipped through one of the multitudes of cigar catalogues that glut the mailbox, "If you ever want to buy me something, my favorite is the 64 Padron."

I nodded enthusiastically, tallying up all the Good Girlfriend Points that  purchase would get me.  I filed it away, promising myself I would figure out what 64 Padron actually meant. Because...what?

I still haven't earned those points, by the way.  I've purchased the random 64 here and there, a few 26es, but this Family Reserve 85 is above and beyond awesome. His face lit with joy, peace, and satisfaction with the first draw, increasing in intensity as the cigar burned.  

If this one cigar brought him happiness after a couple of days of crazy, I'm thinking a box of ten might get us through this round of treatment. Shhh. Don't tell him!

Of course if I were a REALLY good girlfriend, I'd pony up a box of the new 50th Anniversary. But not just any box. This one:

I suspect when he's making happy noises as he sleeps,
he's dreaming about owning this.

*Does anyone actually know what nougat is?****   
**I think I just made up a new ranking system! It should probably be capitalized: Love Level. 
***Which means we're going to need a re-do, of course.
****I would still eat it.  I'm that hungry. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Three Wise Men or: Corruption of my own child, part the third

During my son's visit to the homeland in August, we made it our goal to drag his butt to the places we love. Naturally, that meant a trip to Broadway Cigars. You already know how much we lurrrrrve Bobby and John and JV and the rest of the gang. They've made us feel welcome and at home from the very first time we went there and swiped up all of their Mysteriosos (Mysteriosi?).

The three of us soaked up the humidor's ambiance for way too long, looking for the perfect cigars for that perfect day.* We chose one for Sean, who, as you may remember, is in the early throes of cigar lovin'. But when we came out, Bobby said, "Would you mind if I switch that out for you?" And he produced this for our novice:

You know we love all things Alec Bradley, including Drinnan!!

According to CI, "The [Alec Bradley] Connecticut boasts an array of big-time flavors, all while remaining pleasant and tame in body. Dressed in a seamless Ecuadorian Connecticut shade wrapper, and chock full of Honduran and Nicaraguan long-fillers, Connecticut produces a highly satisfying mild to medium-bodied experience. Plumes of creamy and cool smoke coat the palate as notes of cedar, nuts, and toast enter the fray before ​a slightly sweet finish. It's a lot like a light beer that tastes really damn good."
Sean loved its creaminess with a bit of pepper in the background, which got a little stronger as he continued to smoke.  It proved the perfect cigar for our afternoon of hanging with family and friends. 

Hello, old friend!

Valentino went for a San Lotano, already an established favorite. According to the San Lotano website, "The San Lotano Habano by AJ Fernandez is specially blended for the full-bodied cigar fan. By using only premier fillers fermented to perfection, the Habano is strong yet perfectly balanced with a rich and robust flavor leading to a long and memorable finish. Perhaps the most unique aspect of the Habano blend is its rare Cuban seed and ligero wrapper grown only in Brazil by the Fuego family. Containing extremely limited Cuban seed only offered to two factories in Central America, including Tabacalera Fernandez, the Habano is truly an exceptional experience."

This fave started out with rich, cooked sugar and chocolate deliciousness as he lit up.  The sweetness intensified as he smoked on, as did the original hint of coffee. I hate the taste of coffee, but man, oh, man do I love the smell. 

This cigar is one that when he's wondering what to smoke, I say, "Well, how about a San Lotano...?"

Hello, new friend!
Bobby, who, keep in mind can smoke anything he wants, chose the Oliva Serie V lancero (7 x 38), "a complex blend of Nicaraguan long filler tobaccos. Blended with specially fermented Jalapa Valley ligero, and finished with a high priming Habano Sun Grown Wrapper."

According to the Oliva website, "This cigar is blended to deliver full body taste while maintaining an unparalleled smoothness. This flavorful blend exhibits complex tobacco with rich coffee and dark chocolate tones. A subtle and well balanced spice is present throughout."

About this cigar, Stogie Guys say, "The flavor of the Lancero, even at the outset, is strong. Not the full-bodied blast of pepper strong that’s common these days. But rather an intense nicotine strong coupled with an old-school taste of warm tobacco." Valentino should never ever ever have this cigar. Anything with really strong nicotine makes his head explode, and I've grown rather fond of that noggin.

Stogie Guys continue, "In addition to nicotine strength and warm tobacco, the Serie V Lancero displays flavors of cocoa, leather, espresso, earth, and a touch of toffee sweetness. It also exhibits good construction, including a reliable draw and a straight burn, albeit with a gray ash that tends to fall off a bit prematurely."

The three of us loved hanging out there--and we might even STILL be there, except a certain someone** was getting the hungry headache and was starting to make the hungry headache face, which is a clear sign that if she doesn't get food in her maw soon,*** people should take cover.

*If it weren't so humid,**** I would live in a humidor.

**I can neither confirm nor deny that it was me, but I will say that it was the one other person sitting on the cozy orange couch with the three wise men.

***We wound up at Caserta Pizza, which we love for all its quirkiness.

****Shut up.

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