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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Trinadad the Cigar Review

I have quite a bit of association with individuals from Trinadad, not sure why but I know that Chinese culture and food has incorporated into the country in the way of emigration to Trinadad. I don't know much about the West Indies except sugar caning, slavery, food, and that accent.

Wrong!

After a little more research, the cigar was named after a city in Cuba. I have had my taste of really good (the Behike 52) and a few lackluster (Cohiba Maduro) Cuban cigars including from ligitimate sources including Casa del Habana. The Trinadad (from 1998) did not fail in quality.

















Vitola:
Fundadores (7 1/2" x 40RG)
Price: Rare

Wrapper: Cuban Habano
Binder: Cuban Habano
Filler: Cuban Habano

Aged in Humidor: Unknown from it's source, but certainly over 2 years in my humidor


Appearance and Construction:

The entire cigar is thin and has a dark brown with a a bit of an oily wrapper showing it's almost crinkling tobacco leaf it came from reminiscing old school philosophers who smoked thin pipes. I would call it a old man cigar because of it's appearance and the image from those old schoolers that smoked it. It is still very intact and well off, not dried, not loose and no overly tight. The band is so simple.

Tasting Notes:

Pre-light: I like the way this cigar smells out of the humidor: light woody. I always say this but in this case it is exceptionally true: you can smell the fine refined rustic soil it comes from. The cold draw is of a floral spice.

I cut the pigtail and light with the butane lighter circling and it lights easily.

The initial lighting brings out a medium notes of dark roast of cocoa and coffee beans on wood.

1cm in comes an aged refined sweetness of tobacco.

The first inch gives an aroma of dark coffee that brings a scene from old guys sitting in a Cuban coffee or liquor spot smoking one of these discussing the economy or politics. Somewhere in the first third I get a cool like airy tea like softness but that's a short note. And the cocoa/coffee notes are still present. There's a cinnamon reminder and spice on on the intake. The ash holds for two inches.

The beginning of the second has the note of over roasted coffee.

The third does not change much but the notes from the second and third are still there: dark roast, spice, light floral, coffee aromas.

Overall status of each category:

Burn: Mild
Strength: Mild with Points of Boldness
Fumes: Light
Ash: Dark Grey
Harshness: Only one or two points midway giving a reminder of burnt coal
Aromatic or Oder: Not heavy, medium

2 and a Half Hour Smoke

Recommended: Yes, excellent: 98 rating just like it's year. The description alone does not represent it's quality. It was my privilege to smoke you Trinadad.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Camacho Havana Diademas Cigar Review

Macho, Macho man!

So I bought a 10 pack of these Camacho Havana Diademas...


I am so exited because the box is crafted so nicely, in yellow with gold lettering. I open the box and wowed even more because each one is wrapped in a golden snake patterned outer material. There are two bands, the one that holds the golden snake skin material and the one on the cigar itself. I take the band off the golden snake pattern wrapping and under there is a second white paper wrapping. I finally get to the cigar itself there's the second band on the cigar. So these cigars are double banded and double gift wrapped. But before even that, when I first opened the box I got hit with a strong whiff of spice and cinnamon as a tobacco scent. Each one smells like very nice aged sweet cinnamon tobacco leaf. The scent from the whole box is a combination of each cigar.

This cigar looks a little like a slimmer club that a cave man back in the day used or like a submarine. The end where you light it has a nipple (I like nipple shaped cigar ends, it makes it easier to light it: one center point to get it going rather than like cigars where the ring gauge is evenly shaped throughout the cigar). The cap where you cut off and the end where you light is not the ring gauge they call a 60. They must refer to the fattest part of the cigar right below the end. The cap's ring gauge is small, I would say the diameter less than a dime.

It is a Salomon shaped cigar

My first was on December 2012 and I had smoked a handful between now and then. It's now June 2014 and I believe from what I can recall is my fourth one. I had gifted a couple away. There are three more out of the original ten in the box.


Vitola: Salomon (8.0" x 60RG)
Price: $11.00 to Sold Out/Limited Supply per cigar

Wrapper: Honduran (Cuban Origin) Criollo
Binder: Honduran (Cuban Origin) Corojo
Filler: Honduran (Cuban Origin) Corojo

Aged in Humidor: 1 Year 6 Months


Appearance and Construction:

A little uneven with noticeable veins with a dark complexion yet not too dark.


I made one mistake with these, I kept them in the box instead of a humidor. They have dried a little but not a bad dried out, luckily I keep up with the humidity the best I can.


Draw: Just Right
Aroma: Medium
Ash: Medium grey, a little flaky but it held in a uniform cone to about 2 inches 
Fumes: Medium
Burn: Perfect with a speckle of uneven
Boldness: Just Right
Harshness:
I didn't notice any, not at all even to the bitter end, none
Strength: Medium to Lightly Strong
Complexity: It does have it's points where the notes change but not overly so, yes, a little


Tasting Notes:

The aroma that emits off the wrapper is very nice, sort of like a refined light scent of cinnamon stick with a light hint of pepper or spice. The cold draw is loose and of wood-like and a hint of spice. The most recent cold draw is of the same but also comes with a light sweet cinnamon spice. Lighting it with the butane lighter is easy with the nipple as a fuse.

Initial light: A spicy dried black cherry on wood.

1 cm in: It's like a toasted brownie with wood notes

With the above introduction to what I would consider one of my top ten cigars is a sweet (aged) cinnamon like spice on the aged tobacco, a well refined taste of the tobacco leaf it's made from. Another one of those cigars you can feel the soil it comes from. It's very toasty with a coolness to the puffs. The last of the first is a bit dark toast but not too dark, it has a very nice grilled tobacco note on the last of the third.

The second is less refined, some of the profile from the first dies down and it gets rather toasty with puffs of a cool airiness. The black cherry hints remain lightly now and then and with rotation of toasty dark coffee.

The third has a toasty dark coffee note also, less of the spicy cinnamon and dark cherry notes, more so of toast and dark coffee bean. No harshness of tannin, but deep and dark. There are cigars that do not have good ending but this cigar didn't. I had no problem savoring to the very last inch or savory darkness.

Besides the presentation I like these, they are enjoyable to smoke because of it's smoothness, no harsh spots, it's strong and has a good character. I rate them a 97.

Monday, June 16, 2014

My Father by Don Pepin Garcia No. 1 Cigar Review

Happy Post-Father's Day!

I didn't have time to photo fresh cigar photos, maybe when I get the chance but I have a simple snapshot off my phone when I was puffing away...so without further ado, this is the Garcia family "My Father" cigar, supposed named in honor by Jaime to his father Jose Pepin Garcia. My father has always been a very basic person, work (save to support the family), eat simple, gamble a little in Mahjong, watch sports and love the family, so I try to honor him when I can. He doesn't smoke cigars. But for all the dad's that do take care of their kids well...


The background of the father's cigars, Jose Pepin, has a good reputation and the name just brings enthusiasm in wanting to try such an honor. I tried this cigar when I first got it, didn't take notes like so many cigars. I just enjoyed them without a thought but I remembered it being good and then again yesterday on Father's Day, I'll bring you the notes for the second cigar.

I had a five pack of the No. 1


Vitola: Robusto (5.25" x 52RG)
Price: $10.00

Wrapper: Ecuador (Cuban Origin) Habano
Binder:Nicaragua (Cuban Origin)
Filler: Nicaragua (Cuban Origin)

Aged in Humidor: 1 Year 6 Months


Appearance and Construction:

It's built well not too tight though. The cigar looks like any other cigar similar to the others from Esteli. The wrapper is a tan color.


Draw: A bit on the loose side but it's right
Aroma: Medium aged sweetness with hints of a buttery scent
Ash: Light grey with a little flaking, no black burn rings, there are ripples but rolled evenly
Fumes: Medium
Burn: A speckle of uneven
Boldness: Medium
Harshness:
Only light bitterness at the end
Strength: Medium to Lightly Strong
Complexity: It does have it's points where the notes change but not overly so


Tasting Notes:

Before I leave it in the humidor out of the clear wrap for a few months, I take a whiff of the foot while still clear wrapped is if of caramelized/aged almost sweet tobacco. One of the cigars you can taste the soil it comes from. The cold draw is a light spice especially a little tingle when touching the tip of my tongue.

(1) Grassy
(2) Sweet in a aged tobacco leaf
(3) Just to throw it out there during it's first impression from a smell of the wrapper before even lighting it is like a sweet potato pie (I think the aroma has been building up)

Initial light (circling with butane lighter): Toasty caramel-like creamy air of well aged tobacco leaf, smooth.

1 cm in: notes of dark candy

The first half is as described with a toasty, aged sweetness of tobacco leaf, hints of caramel, a nice sweet buttery aroma and occasional hints of spice, woody (cedar) and tobacco.

Up to the second of third half and the fumes are a gentle, slowing down a bit as I let it rest with a nice calmer profile in taste than the first. Still toasty, lighter in the caramel-like notes and a airy buttery profile to compliment. This is where I notice the speckle of uneven burn midway through the second and I touch it up and after a few more minutes at about 2.5" the ash drops, I am being gentle.

Forgive me for adding some notes because I'm also reflecting on life as I sit back and enjoy each puff... Like a bonsai tree to know where to cut, know the things in life to keeps things at bay or as they are when they are beautiful or at it's joy. I'm also reminded of a quote that without knowing harshness there's no sweetness in life. This cigar has very little harshness and that little speckle of uneven burn is part of life's beauty.

I'll end the last part of the second with dissipating caramel sweetness, still toasty but it gets a feeling like I'm smoking a average cigarette or cheap cigar now. I'm losing interest.

I leave it alone to rest for a few minutes then bring the butane lighter and bring it back to life as it dies out a bit.

On relighting the third I get a a deep charcoal toast and then as I let it burn a tranquil buttery toasty profile comes back with the a dark toasty caramel on tobacco. It has a different aroma this time, a little less enjoyable. It's the same profile but faded and more rustic. It's profile is bolder with a tannin note. It's complexity is somewhere in between liking and not liking. It comes and goes with blandness of an average cigar to bits of dark toast. Down to a little less than 2 inches left and I'm not really enjoying the cigar any more. It's dark almost like toasting wood charcoal. Overall I'd rate this a 91 cigar, enjoyable, no real harsh spots but be aware of upper medium to dark boldness.

I also have much respect for the positive things that outshine the negative things my father does, in the same naming honor

Monday, June 2, 2014

Arturo Fuente - Short Story Cigar Review

I've been trying to layoff cigar reviews due to the fact that I have not been indulging in smoking because it's bad for ones health, so since January 2014 until today-the fresh start of June, I had decided to enjoy a sunny day with a smoke I had a year back: Arturo Fuente's Short Story.

Arturo Fuente had an connection and esteemed respect for the way Earnest Hemingway lived. It would seem as I am reading they knew each other. Or at the very least crossed paths with one another. Hemingway's stories have cross my path and I also have esteemed respect or a high interest in Hemingway's stories, especially his short stories, for example: 'A Clean Well-Lighted Place' is my favorite. So it would be no absence of good marketing or honor in me grabbing a smoke named in such.

The cigar lives up to it's name because just like a short story, it's short.




Vitola: Perfecto (4.0" x 49RG)
Price: $5.80 to $6.60 per cigar

Wrapper: Cameroon
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic

Aged in Humidor: 1 Year 6 Months


Appearance and Construction:

Well the complexion does look Cameroon, a well wrapped, uniform, tight in the cap, all around down to a nice rolling to the nipple end. There are highly noticeable veins. It's band is like a red ribbon awarded to best of show. The question is it?


It's still packed tight after being in my humidor for 6 months over a year. I begin as usual by taking in the aroma of the wrapper and it gives off a aged sweetness like most decent cigars should. The cold draw is a leafy tobacco. As I light it easily with my butane lighter: the initial scent is a medium aroma of dark burning tobacco.


Draw: Loose but not too loose
Aroma: Medium to Light
Ash: Grey and White, rippled like a cone of Shawarma meat
Fumes: Yes, quite a bit especially on puffing but not like a chimney
Burn: Uneven and inconsistent, it never gave out
Boldness: Bold but not heavily
Harshness:
It's point of view, do you like a deep, sort of burnt note occassionally, some call it chard. Do you like a raison, not so sweet taste in your cigar occasionally?
Strength: Medium to Lightly Strong
Complexity: Not much



Tasting Notes:

1 cm in: I get a bit of a raisin along with a medium dark tobacco note.

Normally I would break down the first, second and third profile but I don't believe the Short Story needs that for it is a short smoke like it's name with a tasting profile that does not change throughout the cigar. It is pretty much it's name a short story, one hour of your time for strong tobacco notes and a bit of raisin notes in the mix.

I would not buy any more of these for it's price tag. Don't get me wrong it's a solid, smooth, smoke from very good tobacco but the profile was just too plain for my taste. Rating: 79

Red Savina Pepper Review


As a followup to the previous article on Hot Sauce, the day after an unknown pepper was brought in. It is a Red Savina pepper (350,000-580,000 Scoville) variety of the Habanero. It is rated on the Scoville chart hotter than the Scotch Bonnet (100,000-350,000 Scoville) and below the Ghost pepper aka Bhut Jolokia - Naga Jolokia (About 1,000,000 Scoville).

Pop it in my mouth like if it were nothing, like a cherry with 350,000 to 580,000 Scoville(s) of heat behind it. Now, I haven't done this in a long time (over ten years), pop a whole Habanero pepper and just chew on it with the rind, seeds, veins and all, well I tossed the stem.

I give it thirty seconds and nothing, I'm waiting because I know the heat will be there in another minute, BAM! It's stinging thirty seconds after the first thirty seconds of nothing. It is like a someone brushed some lighter fluid around my mouth and lit it with matches. And it intensifies gradually and stays on the tongue, on the roof and around the mouth for about five minutes even after drinking a few cups of water and a cup of milk. I had let it sit for two minutes of burning trying to be a tough manly man, I finally gave way and drank those few glasses of water and a cup of milk to dissipate the scorching feeling. The heat is like a bell curve on a graph gradually going up and stays stinging for a little over five minutes before it goes down but afterwards my eyes were wide awake. The whole ordeal is ten to fifteen minutes of whoohoo! During, my eyes were a little red and so was my face, I had watery eyes.


Flavor: Peppery Gas
Heat: 5 Points
Affect: Over five minutes of a burning linger

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hot Sauce Review

It would seem, I am not alone in liking hot sauce. I know people that cannot handle it, but I love the burn. Ever since I was young when I took a dare to bite into a pepper, I've liked the experience. It's eye opening, brings out a sensation that awakens, nerve pinching, and just off sets your balance with tears and even some sweat. It's nice that I have a colleague/friend that shares this light interest. I myself am no expert but I follow and know the basics. The measurement of a hot sauce's heat (how hot it impacts the nerves and senses) is measured in the units of Scoville(s).


-----The overly popular island aged fermented Tabasco pepper sauce I refer to as week vinegar sauce because it is made of peppers. Tabasco pepper sauce is not high on the Scoville scale. I don't favor it, it has too much of a vinegar taste.

Flavor: Vinegar
Heat: 1 Points
Affect: No linger, no impact on senses


-----The second and my favorite (though a bit of turn off due to it's bright redness) is the Vietnamese Sriracha hot sauce. It is also a light weight hot sauce, low on the Scoville scale. Sriracha is made of chili peppers also and has a lightly sweet and garlic taste to it.

Flavor: Sweet garlic with the pepper
Heat: 2 Points
Affect: No linger except that garlic after taste, no impact on senses


This is where I am going to draw some points on judging hot sauce and notate that flavor is an important aspect of hot sauce in addition to heat. Whenever I rate hot sauce in the aspect of why I like it, the above two counts most importantly. There is a third and it is how longer it lingers. I will add a fourth but is also should be included as part of how hot it is and that is: which senses it affects, does it clear up the sinuses, bring out tears, give sweat, make you run to the kitchen for milk or water (my favorite reaction from my homemade).

The following are not pepper as the main ingredient but the lines of habanero pepper, which the pepper rates higher on the Scoville scale than chili peppers. Again, I am no expert and I am not going to go as far as adding viscosity, how liquidity, smooth, etc, etc, as part  of my judging. Just those three or four.

(Photo and sampling courtesy of my buddy S.S.)


-----My friend likes Baron West Indian Hot Sauce, I do not favor it either because it has no taste, he says it does. I let it sit around my mouth for 20 seconds before swallowing. Yes, it does but a hint of the pepper note and then it gets heated for a minute or two then that's that. I did feel chucks of the seeds with the half teaspoon that I sampled for two rounds.

Flavor: Habanero
Heat: 3 Points
Affect: 2 Minute linger of heat, no impact on senses except for heat


-----My friend also has a bottle of Gray's Authentic Jamaican Habanero Pepper Sauce. This is the second time I heard of this hot sauce. When I asked a West Indian friend of mine what's his favorite hot sauce he mentioned this brand. It had less of a kick, little bit of a hotter note and I detected spices in the mix. Less of the pepper taste than in Baron brand hot sauce. Could freshness also be a factor?

Flavor: Equal ratio of Spices and Habanero
Heat: 2 Points
Affect: 2 Minute linger of heat, no impact on senses except for heat


-----El Yucateco is a Mexican founded habanero pepper based hot sauce. Now I am describing it from a few years back (remembering I liked it), it's not so fresh in my head, I mean I could go buy a bottle for $2 but I will leave it off for when I really need it. As of right now, I recall a kick, with a short/light taste in habanero and yes a lingering and tears in the eye and a light sweat/blush. Now, this was a few years ago and my senses have become better acquainted with heat since then. Or as someone in my family says "you have no taste buds"; wrong! my taste buds are fine, they are just better evolved than yours and stronger too!

Flavor: Habanero, not much other flavor
Heat: 3.5 Points
Affect: 5 Minute linger of heat. Blushing with light tears and light sweat


-----I have never made hot sauce before and actually learned quite a bit from my first experience. My Homemade hot sauce was a suggestion from someone who brought in a little mason jar to use in the office. It was a hit and had heat and a kick. It didn't have much flavor except for a bit of a heavy habanero taste and a light sour taste. I asked if he put vinegar and he said no. This is where the previous reaction came from: the "make you run to the kitchen for milk or water". I wanted a very heated hot sauce without the bells. I bought a pound of Habanero from my local market they label Scotch Bonnet and made my own very simple mix. I kept it simple with no water and two other ingredients. It was a pure, puree.

Flavor: Habanero/Scotch Bonnet not much other flavor
Heat: 3.5 Points
Affect: 5 Minute linger of heat. Blushing with light tears and light sweat


You can research the ingredients for the commercial brands on your own.


Tags: Tabasco Hot Sauce Review, Sriracha Hot Sauce Review, Baron Hot Sauce Review, Gray's Hot Sauce Review, El Yucateco Hot Sauce Review.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Superfoods

I was reading up on health. Particularly the benefits of consuming Acai berries because Acai is the new health rave. Acai berries contain more or less (depending on what form they come in) polyphenols, amino acids (proteins), fatty acids (good essential fat), one of the highest providers of antioxidants (like Potassium) and other nutrients. Heck, to top it off, naturally sourced are sugarless. I think it can even make you fly. How do Acai berries taste? I wouldn't know because I read that once harvested they lose their nurtitiion content so fast that they have to be mashed down as the locals eat them, to be exported they are frozen or preserved, maybe even processed. But the organic frozen paste bars (which I assume taste the same as the berries for the paste is just the mashed down version) have little taste/flavor. The Acai mash has no sweetness and no tartness unlike many berries like the strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, etc... I only detected a very slight flavor note and buttery texture.

Then I came across the Goji berry. I never heard of the Goji berry before until lately. Just like the Acai berry, it's only become a recent health rave, in the United States that is, along the lines of Chia seeds, Maca root, Flax seeds, Spirulina and the like, well to my ears anyway. Coming across images of the Goji berry, they looked familiar. Ah! indeed these are it. What's it? These little red fruit like berries I would find in soup my father had been making since I was a little kid. Reading up on the origins of how far Goji berries date back: thousands of years and I assume that's where my father got the usage in cooking them from, back from the ancestors that passed down using the Goji berries in cooking to sustain health.

I was also reading the Bloomberg article on 'Superfood'.

Similar nutritious values go for the Goji berries. My father has incorporated Goji berries in a few dishes all my life. I had no care or knew of what these berries were until the marketing made them a 'Superfood'. I always referred to them as the given Chinese name my father called them, not "Goji", I guess that's the dubbed American name for them. He always told me they were good for me and particularly good for the eyes. I just always thought of them as simple little football shaped... not veggies... not roots... not spices... not animal but fruit in soup and a few other dishes. Now onto my hot drink with a leaf in it. That also has antioxidants.


These photos are taken by my own camera.
They are not copyrighted but if you do use one, ask me.