Ramon Allones 2014 RE Alemania 898’s – They’ve Finally Arrived!!!

So, they’re here…

Sadly, the band shortage must have been the reason for Habanos S.A. delaying on these for a year.  Lol.

A bit lighter than I normally like to see RA, and not overly oily either, but nice aromas, and an EXCEPTIONAL gesture that myself and a few other Canadian amigos received in assisting us to get the transaction set up.  Very happy to have these in hand finally – a year late is better than never!  And, though it’s only two boxes, I’m glad to at least have part of my order too!

Boxes 0279 and 0347 of 2000, both Jul 2015 “RAE” coded.  Can’t wait to dig into them and give them a good reviewing.  Will be doing that towards the tail-end of November after the next Cuba trip, and after these have 30 days or so to settle.

Cheers all.


Wicked “Iroda Micro-Jet” Butane Torch Travel Lighter…

I can’t remember if I’ve covered it specifically, but I didn’t find a specific post about it, so I’ll do so here.

Some have asked about the lighter that occasionally pops up in the background of some of my review pics.  It’s actually a small soldering torch by Iroda called the Micro-Jet.  It’s awesome, and something that a great BOTL turned a bunch of us onto during a November 2012 trip to Havana.  They can be found on sale occasionally through the Canadian Tire chain of department stores in Canada, and through some various online vendors as well, one of which is through good buddy Lou’s shop at Canada Humidor.  I’ll include a pic here for those that need / want an item number on it:


These Iroda torches are awesome.  As those of us out of Canada and other countries know, the travel restrictions in recent years for items that can be carried on airplanes is getting tighter and tighter.  As butane cigar torches are generally not allowed, this unique little item makes it awesome to travel as a cigar smoker with a decent quality torch.

Take the separate pieces apart, and the fuel reservoir is simply a “standard” soft-flame, Bic-style lighter, and allowed to be carried within your shorts / pants pocket.  But, inserted within the outer casing once you get to your travel destination, and special valves and jets turn that simple soft-flame lighter into a kick ass butane torch.  And, at a very reasonable cost, compared to the not-to-be-travelled-with-lest-they-be-lost-or-confiscated S.T. Duponts, Colibris, KGM / Vectors, etc., etc.  The fuel cells on these Iroda torches also have a refill valve at the bottom of them, so you can refill with your choice of quality butane at home.  And, you can even use the outer torch shell with a standard lighter if you wish, just by simply getting rid of the flint wheel installed on them.  Also, being able to pick up spare fuel cells, and pack them in your additional luggage (where / if allowed) makes it very nice, and more feasible for most people travelling (especially into Cuba), as you don’t have to worry about finding good quality butane to refill your torch.

So there we go.  Thanks again Marc!

Cheers all.

Cigar Review – Cuaba Piramides EL 2008, Sep 2008 “USE” box code; Final Score – 93

I love me some Cuaba…as long as they’re not regular production Cuaba.  LOL.  As the general discussion usually goes with Cuaba, most of their regular stuff (Divinos, Exclusivos, etc.) are generally crap.  If the flavour / blend ends up being anything worth tasting in a particular stick, it’s usually shitted up by having horrid construction leading to draw and burn issues.  The main thought is that the perfecto / figurado format that leads to bad construction and draw issues – I myself don’t think it’s necessarily that, as I love me some various perfectos, but, it’s definitely an issue where the roller’s skill is way more relevant to the success of these sticks.

With this being a relatively newer brand (started in 1996), they definitely need to pick up their feet with this brand, and start infusing Cuaba with some much needed love and attention.  The slightly peanut-laced flavour profile could make it more of a winner, if some care was taken.  And while being a perfecto / figurado might hinder the construction/performance of the cigar, the classic double-tapered appearance is definitely a unique thing (reminding most of the classic cigars seen with Groucho Marx and in the old Looney Toon cartoons).

So, all in all, most Cuabas I’ve tossed and haven’t stocked…save for a few coffin-boxed giant Diademas, or the EL Piramides.  Hell, these Piramides shouldn’t even have the Cuaba name on them, as they’re so different from the rest of the brand.  Well, maybe that’s what makes them so damn good!!!

These EL Piramides were part of the 2008 releases, along with another favourite of mine, the Montecristo Sublimes.  These carried along the change implemented in 2007 to the EL program (which was started in 2000) of having all the tobacco used in the cigar being aged for a minimum of two-years prior to rolling (compared with it only being the wrapper for the 2000 to 2006 EL releases).  Compared with normal cigar tobaccos (generally, 6 months for seco leaf, 9 to 12 months for volado and wrapper leaves, and 12 to 18 months for the stronger ligero leaf), these EL’s with the added-aged tobaccos used makes for some interesting, non-usual format smokes.

Reviewed Cigar:  Cuaba Piramides EL 2008

Box Date:  Sep 2008

Factory / Manufacture Code:  USE

Packaging:  10-count dress box

Price per cigar:  $17.50 USD (online vendor, 2009 purchase)

Length:  6 1/8″, or 156 mm

Ring Gauge:  52

Format:  Piramides / Pyramid

Weight:  17 grams / 0.6 oz

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  This cigar was awe-some.  This particular stick was one of three left in one of my original boxes of these, with another 3 boxes marinating away in the humidors yet.  And these just keep seeming to get better and better with time, so my fingers were definitely crossed with this one, being a bit of a celebratory smoke for me.

Nice bands and presentation with these, and I’m definitely a fan of the piramide format.  Really nice heft in the hand, and good bunching and overall construction.  No soft spots or overly hard areas either.  Hard to say any cigar can be “just about perfect”, but this one felt that way.  The wrapper was dark and light maduro, but wasn’t oily though – a slight hinderance for me.  However, the ever so slight tactile feel of the “tooth” of the wrapper with these always makes them feel nice in the hand.

At cold, strong dark fruit and brown sugar.  Sweet wood (cedar and/or maple perhaps?) and dark earth.

Opening Impressions:  Upon lighting and initial puffs, just enthralled.  Creamy and thick smoke.  Rich, coated mouthfeel with a sweet viscous smoke.

First/Second/& Final Thirds:  Yup.  Another delayed review here from the early spring, and surprise surprise, my tasting notes went sideways a bit.

What I do have down here is that this thing went stellar right off the bat with heavy tones of raisins.  I always seem to get that with these Cuaba Piramides – raisins, dark wood, molasses, and leather.  Well, my notes were spot on, with tastes noted of raisins, brown sugar, wet cedar, and old leather.  The cigar had a couple of tunnels noted about a third of the way in, but smoked well regardless.

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  Puff after puff, I remember wholeheartedly enjoying this cigar.

Also, this was enjoyed in the hot tub after a freak ice and snowstorm. While it was in late winter / early spring for us, it was 8 degrees celsius the day before I smoked this (with that day being at 0 degrees C / freezing), and then a temp of 18 Celsius expected in only another two days.  Tons of sea gulls were flying around – even those “shit hawks” were confused by the early spring weather.

It’s amazing what we’ll do to enjoy a good smoke.  Hell, we’ll even try a Cuaba from time to time!

Final Score:  93

Total Smoking Time:  1 hour and 2 minutes

Date & Time Smoked:  March 31st, 2015; lit up at 10:08 am, done at 11:10 am

Paired Beverage:  Two big mugs of Cubita dark roast molido coffee, double-double

Last Meal:  Cereal breakfast, 8:15 am

Smoking Conditions:  In the hot tub, 0 degrees Celsius freezing, 94 % RH, 14 kph breeze

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.

Rum Vertical-Slash-Horizontal Tasting (Part 4 of 4)…

So, here’s the last of my rum tastings.  If you want to read up on the previous ones, go here for Part 1, here for Part 2, and here for Part 3.

As with previous tastings, these five rums are sampled straight up, about an ounce of each, with no mixers, ice cubes, or chilling, and enjoyed at room temperature.  These were all enjoyed last night, after a honey-glazed ham dinner with scalloped potatoes and fixin’s.

Here goes…


14.  Dictador 12.  (42% alc/vol, Columbia)  This rum from Columbia is an “ultra premium reserve” rum that’s made using the solera system (similar to my favourite sipping rum, Ron Zacapa).  Funny thing is, the label itself says 40% alcohol by volume, but then there’s an amendment sticker affixed to the reverse-side label that shows it at 42% instead.  This particular bottle was won at auction at one of the Toronto MegaHerf events, and it’s be a slow-use rum for me.

In the glass, this stuff is a bit lighter than similar 12-years.  It’s a fair bit thinner in viscosity as well, and doesn’t so much leave legs in the glass compared to just a slight oily coating.  This rum is made using virgin sugar cane as well (rather than molasses or Demerara sugar), and it shows.  The aroma is fairly bland and light, with slight floral tones, brown sugar, and buttered roasted almonds, and then perhaps some overlapping caramel fringes.  Once sipped, flavours of butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sweet carmelized sugar remind me of pancakes and syrup, or French toast and syrup – quite nice.  However, it seems to be somewhat overpowered by the alcohol heat, which really takes over the other flavours, and lingers long after.  This rum for me isn’t so much as a good sipper as it perhaps is something that’s best cut with a bit of Coke.


15.  Ron Santiago de Cuba Extra Anejo 12 Anos.  (40% alc/vol, Cuba)  This 12-year-old rum has a rich, dark copper colour, and coats the inside of the glass well, and has very nice, long-holding legs.  The bottle for this is only slightly distinguishable from the standard Anejo (one has a brown-background on the label, the other has the black background), but the price and the quality still do set it aside.  That said, this one is fairly excellent value, being picked up for $40 CUC down in Cuba.

On the nose, slight lemon zest is there, along with an almost sour-but-sweet aroma – I’d almost say a slightly sweet malt vinegar tinge; yes, while it may seem a bit crazy it seems to work.  Everything on the nose is blended well with a molasses tinge.  Once sipped though, a slight sourness is initially apparent.  Butterscotch, honey, and fresh dough (like that for fresh and soft white dinner rolls) are most apparent, with the alcohol heat really only hitting at the back of the palate and back of the throat.  Everything is evened off of each other quite well, and though that sourness is a bit off-putting at first, it does seem to make this rum pair up quite nicely with lighter cigars (think aged Trinis, Cohiba, and LGC fare).  If the sourness is too much for you, some ice cubes in the glass with it alone do wonders for this rum.


16.  Ron Flor de Cana Centenario 18.  (40% alc/vol, Nicaragua)  This bottle was a kindly gift from BOTL Rob / “Freefallguy”, he of the Nicaraguan Children’s Feeding Mission, and grabbed for me as a kind gesture during one of his trips down there.  He frequently gets a chance to visit my home and family during trips up here to the Frozen North, and my kids enjoy when Uncle Rob brings bubblegum for them, and then coffee and booze for Mommy and Daddy.  This rum in particular is a slow-aged, single-estate sugar plantation rum, and has a fair bit of fans out there.

The rum is a lighter golden colour in the glass, a bit surprising being that it’s a slow-aged traditional rum that’s 18-years-old, and being a lighter hue than other younger and solera-aged rums.  That said, once it’s in the glass, it’s all old hat.  Long slender legs are aplenty in the glass, and strong banana, caramel, and lemon-honey-tea tones are readily scented.  Tasting it, the creme brulee and caramelized-sugar sweetness hits you first, and then WHAMMO!, get’s overran by the alcohol heat, which travels front to back on your tongue and then even hits you in the nasal cavity.  After the burn subsides a slight bit after a second or so, background flavours of prunes, bread, and pears round it out.  A wonderful sipper that would be a sacrilege to cut with anything aside from a handsome cube or two of ice.


17.  Ron Zacapa 23.  (40% alc/vol, Guatemala)  What can I say – this is my absolute favourite sipper.  This Ron Zacapa 23 (as well as the following Ron Zacapa XO) is made from “first-crush virgin sugar cane honey” (that’s a mouthful) and then aged in the mountains of Guatemala at an altitude of 2300 meters.  The location above the clouds allow for a unique warming and cooling process of the barrel houses throughout the course of a day, and accelerate and accentuate the aging process of this rum.  The Zacapa 23 particularly contains rums with a minimum of six-years of age, and a maximum of 23-years, and is matured in a mixture of barrels that previously held American whiskeys, sherries, and Pedro Ximenez wines.  The packaging of this rum is also top-notch as well, with its black, red, gold, and tan outer-packaging, and then the very distinguishable bottle with the rattan weave around the circumference of it.

In the glass, this is one of the richer copper-coloured rums I have, and has wonderful long-holding legs in the glass.  The aroma is loaded with caramel right from the get-go, and then even some marshmallow and sweet apple pie notes.  Upon sipping, a buttery softness and caramel breadiness makes me a very happy man, and the alcohol heat slowly steps into the fold with some sweet fruits and savoury spices, notably some allspice.  This rum definitely has set the bar for me as a sipper, and is my overall favourite, and though the availability seems to be getting harder to find, and the pricing seems to be getting higher, this is still a must-have.


18.  Ron Zacapa XO.  (40% alc/vol, Guatemala; bottle # T465143)  Like the Zacapa 23, this XO has a lot of the same production aspects.  However, what sets this one aside is that the rum ages are from six-years to 25-years (rather than only 23), and then the rum is finished in French oak casks that previously aged cognac.  The packaging on this one is stellar as well, and a very elegant bottle is contained within a well-protecting outer box; that said, I almost like the Zacapa 23’s bottle better, in that it just fits into a cabinet more neatly!

This rum, almost identical to the Zacapa 23, is such a dark brown colour it’s wonderful to behold in the glass.  Again, long legs in the glass when swirled, and beautiful aromas of caramel, this time accented with breadfruit and nectarines, with a cinnamon and nutmeg tinge.  On the palate, tastes of caramel and whipped cream are helped along right from the get-go with an alcohol warmth, and continue on with a hit of banana and coconut-cream pie.  This is a very sweet rum, caramel laden, and not overly distinguishable from the Zacapa 23.  Both are excellent rums, and at the top of most rum lovers’ wish lists, and are equally well-paired with any cigar but the lightest (I avoid long-aged LCG and Trinidad with these).

So, there we go.  Eighteen rums, two evenings, zero bottles or glasses broken, one whole dishwasher load of shot glasses and rocks glasses, and only two Aspirin used (for a completely different issue altogether).  Glad I went through these – some in here that I haven’t delved into too much lately, and this was a nice refresher on what to start drinking down for this upcoming holiday season.

Cheers all.

Rum Vertical-Slash-Horizontal Tasting (Part 3 of 4)…

Continuing still from my first and then second posts on this rum tasting, here’s number three.  These five were enjoyed two nights ago as well (right after those in Part 1 and Part 2), but I’m just unfortunately posting it here early today, as the inability to see my computer straight later that night, LOL, and then family stuff yesterday, all led me to be unable to post until now.

Also, after supper that night was enjoyed before the last groupings of rum, these five were then enjoyed along with a quite nice H. Upmann No. 2 from 2008 that I was given in trade from good brother Emil (Oct 2008, “USE” coded stick), and after a nice sunset-filled sky that evening.  The dense, creamy rich smoke from that cigar, and the bold power it still had in a nice balance profile, meshed well with these rums below.

Again, these five rums are sampled straight up, about an ounce of each, with no mixers, ice cubes, or chilling, and enjoyed at room temperature.

And so…


9.  Bacardi Ron 8 Anos.  (40% alc/vol, Puerto Rico)  This one is aged for a minimum of eight years in oak casks, and then finished apparently in sherry oak barrels.  While Bacardi Superior white is simply a mixer only, this stuff is different.  From the box packaging, this is a special blend originally created in Cuba by Facundo Bacardi Masso, and was the “private family reserve blend” for over five generations.

This stuff has a nice aroma to it.  On the nose, there’s molasses sweetness, honey, and almost a saltwater taffy tinge.  Legs are fairly nice in the glass, very long and coating within the glass, and the golden copper colour is pretty good too.  Very balanced in the mouth, with a lemony sweetness, and a smoky woodiness to it.  The oaking is quite apparent with this, and helps meld it very nicely.  An excellent and well-balanced sipper, I was also getting hints of sweet spice (nutmeg or cinnamon on the fringes perhaps), with a sweet stonefruit ripeness to it.


10.  Havana Club Cuban Barrel Proof.  (45% alc/vol, Cuba)  This lovely rich-copper-coloured rum, from the packaging notes, is aged in specially selected fresh white oak barrels, and then polished off in unique “finishing casks”, and then bottled straight from the cask directly at 45% alcohol by volume.  This is the rum that, apparently, was discontinued and then reintroduced under a slightly changed recipe and different packaging under the Seleccion de Maestros label.  This particular bottle of rum is my last of this type, from a 2011 trip to Cuba, and from one of the last production runs I believe.  The rum in this is a minimum of seven-years-old (rather than a blend with seven years being the maximum, such as with the Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos), with it generally being referred to as a 10-year-old for the majority of the rum within it.

On the nose, some fresh nuts (cashew or brazil nuts?), some smoky honey, and almost like a rich black tea.  Very distinct and slowly moving legs to this rum in the glass, with almost a negative attraction of the rum and the glass together (the rum doesn’t coat the inside of the glass so much as it pools itself into little droplets to “avoid” contact with the glass).  Flavours of rich dark honey, caramel, some smoky woodiness on the back of the palate even, and then a full-bore heavy alcohol heat to hit on the backend of the flavour profile.  With the heavy flavour profile and alcohol heat, it’s a very thin and lightweight feeling rum on the mouthfeel.  A very nice rum to pair with nearly any cigar.


11.  Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros.  (45% alc/vol, Cuba)  This is apparently the updated / newer version of the Barrel Proof.  Again, being a 10-year-rum, the only real difference is that this rum is triple barrel aged (whereas the Barrel Proof only went through two caskings), and then the Seleccion de Maestros apparently does two sets of maturation in the old oak barrels first, and then does the finishing in new fresh white oak casks (opposite of the Barrel Proof style).  Again, this is apparently the only real difference, in that the rest of the actual rum recipe is the exact same between the two.

I must say also that the packaging on this one is awesome.  A cedar-look outer package, a lovely tapered crystal-clear bottle, and then the rich copper colour of the rum and the lovely cedar-look outer package all contrasted and accented heavily by the rich blue, gold, and red labelling.

Rich caramel notes and smokiness are on the nose, with a hint of lemon peel and fresh bread dough.  Wavy legs are noted in the glass, within a heavy coating of rum when sloshed around in the glass.  Flavours of sweet and savory spices are noted, accented by a buttery toffee and creme brulee profile.  The heat aftertaste is very balanced throughout the mouth (not biting in any one area to hard), and meshes well with the profile.  There’s even hints of tobacco and cedar essences in there (perhaps if one dreams and imagines hard enough, LOL).  Again, another nice rum to pair with just about any cigar, but this is one I really enjoy paired off of dense and rich Ramon Allones or Montecristo sticks.


12.  Kirk and Sweeney 12 Year Dominican Rum.  (40% alc/vol, Dominican Republic; batch # 002, bottle # S1878)  This rum is made in the D.R., and imported and created by a company out of California called 35 Maple Street.  The packaging of this one is unique, being in a giant apple-shaped bottle, and with very elegant and tasteful white silk-screening on the bottle showing of the history of the brand’s namesake (a rum-running schooner than ran from the Caribbean to the northeastern U.S. seaboard, before it was captured and turned into a U.S. Coast Guard instructional ship).  This was an awesome gift sent to me by great BOTL Alex, part of a few trades and whatnot he and I did back and forth, and a rum I had not heard of nor seen before.

However, and especially for a 12-year-old rum, the packaging unfortunately is the best part of this rum, and while it’s nowhere near a bad rum, it’s not quite the best sipper.  It has a rich copper colour, but the legs in the glass are a bit broken up and spotty.  The nose is of heavy vanilla and oakiness.  The mouthfeel of this rum is very watery, with no viscosity to it at all.  The heat is almost overpowering on this rum compared to any flavours – one would almost think this is a barrel proof or 50%+ rum due to the heavy alcohol tones.  There’s some nice caramel and butteriness there, but again, the heat overpowers it.  If I drink this one as a sipper, it’s generally chilled/frozen (does this rum a world of good), or, more often than not, I’m cutting this one with a bit of Coke.


13.  El Dorado 12 Year Old Rum.  (40% alc/vol, Guyana)  This is one of my favourite sippers.  This rum is made in Guyana and is a “Demerara” rum, using Demerara sugar (a darker brown sugar than normal, containing a high level of molasses), which results in a strong and bold flavour profile.  This rum contains a blend with a minimum age of 12-years (some rums upwards of 16-years apparently), and comes from a company making this stuff for 345 years now.  Some find this rum too sweet and caramel-laden (attributed to its demerara sugar manufacture), but I tend to love that in good rums.

In the glass, a good consistent copper colour, and with noted wrinkly-looking and zig-zagging legs in the glass.  Very strong butter and caramel aromas on the nose.  On the palate, any heat is rounded and well-ascentuates the flavour profile, consisting of vanilla, toffee and caramel, and some sweet fruitiness (perhaps of dates or prunes?)  Some sweet spices of allspice and nutmeg are around the fringes as well.   I love this one as a sipper.  Mixing with Coke is okay too, but I find the caramel sweetness of this one can almost be overpowering and too sweet if mixed with Coke.  A bit of ice to chill this one does wonders.

Well, that’s where I left things off the other night.  Didn’t get a chance to finish off the last five yesterday due to family commitments, but will be trying to get the rest finished off this evening though.  More to come shortly to finish this off then…

Go here for Part 1here for Part 2, and here for the Part 4 conclusion of this series.

Cheers all.

Encuentros Partagas November 2015…

Already booked and confirmed for the Encuentros Partagas at the tail-end of this November.  But, for those interested in the main details, I just found some of these particulars sitting in a promotional e-mail recently:

La Casa del Habano Partagás, managed by Caracol S.A Business Corporation, is inviting all Habano lovers to its 28th Meeting of Friends of Partagás, that will take place November 16th to 20th, 2015. This year La Casa del Habano celebrates the 170th anniversary of the Partagás Factory with the following program:

Monday 16:  Accreditation

Tuesday 17:  Welcome dinner at Havana Cafe, including competition and show.

Wednesday 18:  Day in the countryside: La Arboleda; overnight at Hotel Tuxpan, Varadero

Thursday 19:  Day at the beach &  safari to Cayo Blanco, including swim with dolphins

Friday 20:  Gala dinner at El Laguito, including auction and show.

For Information contact Casa del Habano Partagás, Industria # 520, Havana, Cuba Tel.: +53 7 8623772 or 53 7 8668060

Email: partagas@thabana.caracol.cu

Cheers all.

Rum Vertical-Slash-Horizontal Tasting (Part 2 of 4)…

So, continuing on from my previous on this ascending rum tasting, here’s the next five rums or so.  Supper was had prior to these rums – pork chops, green beans, and rice, enjoyed with the Mrs and the Rugrats.  Again, these are sampled straight up, about an ounce of each, with no mixers, ice cubes, or chilling, and enjoyed at room temperature.

And so…


4.  Nutz ‘N Rum Peanut Punch.  (14% alc/vol, St. Lucia)  This stuff is actually in a nine-year-old bottle from when my wife and I had our honeymoon in St. Lucia and we did a rum factory tour there, and I just recently found again during a liquor cabinet clean-out.  Essentially, this stuff is one-third creamy peanut butter, and two-thirds amber/gold rum (three-year-old approximately).  Sounds horrendous, but it’s wunder-bar!!!  As the label says, it’s best when chilled.  As for tasting notes – it tastes like nuts.  With rum.  LOL.


5.  Captain Morgan Tattoo.  (35% alc/vol, Puerto Rico)  As I mentioned before, most Captain Morgan rum I find to be sacrilegious to the good name of rum.  However, along with the overproof spiced rum of their I like for eggnog drinks, I also like this stuff.  I first found this in fall 2007, when my wife and I were on a golf and shopping vacation to Myrtle Beach.  Found this at a liquor store there, and was told at the time it was a special offering for around the eastern seaboard / Gulf-shores states, but in the past few years it’s been right up to Michigan and Ohio now too (haven’t seen it in Canada yet).  Apparently, it’s made with a two- to three-year-old rum, depending on who you ask.

This stuff is very heavily infused with flavourings and such, and is a distinctly darker colour.  In the glass, though it’s a darker rum, it’s very watery in appearance, and with no legs on the glass at all.  On the nose, black cherry notes and faint allspice, some sweet nutmeg and cloves – almost even an aroma of flat Pepsi.  Tasting it, it’s heavy with molasses, cloves, and black cherry, and the heat ramps up on the aftertaste.  Also, with all the myriad of spices they add into this rum, it almost reminds me a bit of that Jagermeister feeling in the back of your throat afterwards, almost like a tinge of NyQuil is mixed in there too.  LOL.  Even though that flavour is around the edges, this is one that can be sipped, but I’ve enjoyed it most on a 50/50 splitting with some classic Coke.


6.  Ron  Santiago de Cuba Anejo.  (38% alc/vol, Cuba)  Now we’re starting to get into what I like for going either as sippers or mixers.  This one is a bit harsh for the former, but mixed 50/50 with Coke, it’s pretty nice.  Cuban rum I find is a bit harsher compared to others (ie – a Cuban 7-year-old is sometimes not as good as a 5-year from somewhere else), but Cuban rums just seem to pair so well with Habanos cigars (whether it’s a mindset thing or not, I dunno).  This stuff (Anejo) is the five-year variant.

A faint bit of legs in the glass, I’m always amazed at how this one shrugs off any residual water to the inside of the glass – kinda like oil and water.  On the nose, there’s a light caramel nuttiness, but very strong hits of banana actually, and a smokey woodiness.  Tastes of ripened fruit, some candy sweetness, and a bit of citrus (orange peel?) and slight bitterness/sourness, are followed up with a bit of heat and a slightly harsh bite on the sides of the tongue.  The flavours overall aren’t abundant or apparent in a good mix to have me enjoying this rum as a sipper only – as mentioned before, it’s best as a mixer, as I personally think it meshes well with caramel-heavy Coke.


7.  Legendario Elixir de Cuba.  (34% alc/vol, Cuba)  This stuff is always a treat.  It’s a liqueur that’s made from seven-year-old Cuban rum.  Yup, that’s right…it’s booze that’s made from other booze.  LOL.  This stuff is an amazingly sweet and delicious concoction, it’s best as a sipping dessert aperitif after a nice long Cuban seafood dinner, and enjoyed with a post-dinner cigar.  Glorious.  And that, coupled with small production batches, are usually why it’s so damn hard to find on trips down to the island usually.

In the glass, this stuff has really nice legs actually, and has a bit of sediment in it usually (usually attributed to the pulverized raisins used to make this concoction).  While noticeably darker in colour for a seven-year-old, it sticks to the sides of the glass and coats it well.  Aromas are of lemon, light leather, and a vanilla-honey sweetness, and even with a decent raisin and even banana air to it.  In the mouth, flavours of dark smoky honeyed caramel hit you front in the face.  This shit is swweeeeeettt.  The heat of the alcohol is around the edges somewhat, but really covered by the smoky honey and sweet raisin layered flavours.  There’s a bit of an herbal background to it too, accenting the honey and lemon.  Reminds me of a white port, but with a heavier smokiness to it, and a more tropical palate accentuating it.


8.  Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos.  (40% alc/vol, Cuba)  This is my everyday rum-and-Coke rum.  While some seven-year-rums may be good enough for everyday sipping, I generally don’t think most Cuban rums fit the bill, and especially not the younger Havana Club stuff.  That said, it pairs too damn well with a Cuban cigar when in a 50/50 mix with Coke.  It’s fair to say I go through a healthy amount of this rum compared to all others in my cupboard.

This particular bottle is a Pernod Ricard produced bottle, purchased in Canada, and not direct in Cuba (though for this hemisphere, it is produced there).  Also notable is that the Havana Club product line used to be the Bacardi’s, before the Cuban Revolution and such, and recently Bacardi has apparently introduced a “Havana Club” product into the U.S.  But this stuff here is the Cuban production stuff sold worldwide by Pernod.

Lighter in colour than what I like to see, legs in the glass are faint.  Light aromas on the nose of caramel, buttered toffee, and a coffee mocha element, but they’re overpowered by the harsh alcohol ethers.  Harsh on the palate, flavours of nectarines and cedar with a butter and caramel edge are washed away by acidic and harsh alcohol layers.  It’s good, but not for sipping really.  Just soooo much better as a general-use dark rum for rum-and-Cokes and even stellar pina coladas.

Hic.  Okay.  Things are rolling along smoothly now.  Hic.

More to come shortly…

Go here for Part 1, here for Part 3, and here for the Part 4 conclusion of this series.

Cheers all.


Rum Vertical-Slash-Horizontal Tasting (Part 1 of 4)…

So, here goes…

As you can see from the featured image, I have 18 rums to go through.  Well, I actually had 19, but then Erin decided to scam her Malibu aside so I wouldn’t delve into whatever was left there…

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No loss there, LOL.  Stuff tastes like watered-down white rum and coconut milk.

With the main tasting stuff, I’ve generally arranged this to start with the youngest / white rums to begin with, and then working towards the more aged rums.  I’ll note the alcohol percentage per volume as well as the country of origin, and will note (where available / applicable) any lot or batch or bottle numbers, or anything particular to that rum.

Also, these rums will be sampled in approximately 1 ounce allotments, drank neat from a simple rocks glass, at room temperature (no chilling, no mixers or water added, no ice cubes).  Straight from the bottle, measured in a shot glass, straight up in a rocks glass.  Glorious nectar!

Here’s the rundown of what I’ll be going through, in order from basically youngest to oldest:

  • Bacardi Superior White Rum
  • Brugal Ron 151
  • Captain Morgan 100-Proof Spiced Rum
  • Nutz ‘N Rum Peanut Punch
  • Captain Morgan Tattoo
  • Ron Santiago de Cuba Anejo
  • Legendario Elixir de Cuba
  • Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos
  • Bacardi Ron 8 Anos
  • Havana Club Cuban Barrel Proof
  • Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros
  • Kirk and Sweeney 12 Year Dominican Rum
  • El Dorado 12 Year Old Rum
  • Dictador 12
  • Ron Santiago de Cuba Extra Anejo 12 Anos
  • Ron Flor de Cana Centenario 18
  • Ron Zacapa 23
  • Ron Zacapa XO

Let’s see how then rolls then, shall we.  Here’s the first three to start with (no cigars paired with yet, all enjoyed prior to supper):

1.  Bacardi Superior.  (40 % alc/vol, Puerto Rico)  The classic “big brand” of white rum.  This is a mainstay for me, for frozen pina coladas, daiquiris and mojitos.  That said, that’s about all it’s good for.  Very plain Jane tasting.  Only a one-year-old rum (two years max), it has no “legs” in the glass.  Slight vanilla and lemon tinge to the rum, not overpowering.  No real other tasting notes – it’s just a plain, white rum.


2.  Next up – Brugal Ron 151.  (75.5 % alc/vol, Dominican Republic)  Jesus.  This shit is rocket fuel.  On the nose out of the bottle, it reminds me of rose water (any of you having kids know of this stuff).  It’s very deceiving, in that you don’t think it any worse than regular white rum.  This stuff has a sweet bite, almost with an anise (black licorice) tinge, and has decent legs in the glass for a white rum.  Then – KAPOW! – this stuff hits you with the heat and numbness after.  With a bit on the lips, it actually makes your lips start to tingle and go slightly numb.  Slight honey and vanilla sweetness at first with this stuff too.


3.  Captain Morgan 100-Proof Spiced Rum.  (50 % alc/vol, Puerto Rico)  Yup, I’m NOT a huge fan of Captain Morgan.  I find that stuff tastes more like gasoline than many “cheap” brands of rum, and I usually cringe when I ask at a bar as to what their dark rums are, and I usually get an answer back of “Captain Morgan Dark and Captain Morgan Spiced”.  Yikes.  That said, I do enjoy this stuff.  Primarily, it’s a Christmas-time eggnog-and-spiced-rum that I have this with.  But, this 100-proof stuff is just that tinge nicer.  Huge hits of buttered caramel / toffee right off the get go, followed by some nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves, and a bit of sweet vanilla with the heat follow-up.  While this isn’t really a sipping kinda rum, it’s not unbearable either (though definitely not preferred).  My wife likes this one mixed with Malibu for her rum-and-cokes occasionally.

Mmmmm.  Palate’s warming up now.

More to come…

Go here for Part 2, here for Part 3, and here for the Part 4 conclusion of this series.

Cheers all.

Rum Vertical Tasting En Route…

…Or should I call it a Rum Horizontal Tasting, as that’s how I anticipate feeling once this evening is done!

Anywho, after sitting on it for quite a while, I’ll be doing a rum tasting tonight (and perhaps into tomorrow, LOL).  Relatively free night to myself tonight, so I’ll be pouring some modest helpings of what turns out to be the 18 different rums in my possession, LOL.  I’ll try to do it in blocks of five rums at a time, and will try to do some cigars in with it as well.

We’ll see how this pans out…depends on how many Aspirins I may need tomorrow!

Cheers all.  Literally!

Cigar Review – Ramon Allones Celestiales Finos 2009 RE Asia Pacifico, Ago 2009 “OMA” box code (Box # 1947 of 4000); Final Score – 92

Ramon Allones – yup, love ’em.  This one here is another format that I smoked earlier this spring, and neglected to get a review done.

This particular stick (both, actually – you’ll see why shortly) is from a box-split that I did with two other Canadian buddies from FOH.  When these things came out, they were fairly potent little powerhouses, very bold and in your face.  I was hoping time did them well…

Reviewed Cigar:  Ramon Allones Celestiales Finos 2009 Regional Edition Asia Pacifico

Box Date:  Ago 2009

Factory / Manufacture Code:  OMA

Packaging:  25-count SLB, numbered boxes (box # 1947 of 4000)

Price per cigar:  $11.60 USD (online vendor, 2011 purchase)

Length:  5 3/8″, or 137 mm

Ring Gauge:  46

Format:  Britanicas / Perfecto

Weight:  12 grams / 0.4 oz

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  Well, my first stick was wonderful.  Slight over-extension to the cap itself, but overall very nice.  But then…I dropped the fucker.  It hit the edge of the quartz countertop of our newly-and-almost-done downstairs bathroom, where I was taking a picture of it for better lighting, and cracked the wrapper right open.  Was not salvageable at all, and pissed me right off.  Then, unwrapped it right open, and kinda did a little autopsy of the tobaccos within.  Shoulda taken more pictures though, but it is what it is.

Anywho, after ruining my night, I gave another stick of this cigar a try the following evening, resulting in this review here.

Again, wonderful stick overall.  Slight compression of the foot (making it a bit one-sided / off), but no major issue there.  Gorgeous honey-brown colour to the wrapper, no veins, no cosmetic flaws to the silky thin and supple wrapper leaf.  The cap head had a slightly folded-over piece to it, but no issue there also.  The funny thing to notice is the slightly undersized RE bands used with this cigar – slightly too small for the ring gauge of the cigar, so you end up seeing bare paper, rather than a relatively-seamless continuation of the band from one end to the other.

After cutting the cigar and tasting at cold, I was quite happy.  Light white pepper tones, old leather, dry wood and grass, maybe a hint of black tea and honey.  This may be interesting.

Opening Impressions, then First, Second, and Final Thirds:  Well, I think it was interesting.  And yummy.

Honestly, I didn’t take many tasting notes, and it’s been a few months, so I’m hard pressed to remember all of the tasting particulars.  While I did some detailed pre-light notes on my iPhone, the actual smoking notes relatively went to pot once in the hot tub.

Here’s why…

LOL.  I had the little monsters follow me out into the hot tub after supper.  It was all about making faces at Daddy, and hamming it up for the camera.  Hell, even with these pics only going back a few months in time, I’m noticing how amazingly quick they’re growing up on me, especially with all the time I’ve had to spend away from home over the past few years.

I did take a few extra cigar shots, and from those, I do recollect a few things.  Namely, the burn was quite good and I fairly well enjoyed it once going through the tapered foot.  Also, being fairly humid with the hot tub, it was easy enough for the fairly tight double-bands to eventually separate on their own.

Also, one interesting point I picked up on while smoking was a lightening of the tobacco.  Basically, at the cut head of the cigar, after smoking it for a bit and the tobacco becoming more and more moist (such a naughty word, LOL), the tobacco actually become lighter.  It simply became a lighter tan shade of the golden brown that it was before.  There was no staining to my lips or anything like that, or any other noted differences.  Just simply that small bits of the tobacco got lighter in colour.

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  So, the details on this cigar are a bit wanting.  The kids really had me going during this hot tub time instead.  However, two main things I did note with this cigar review experience…

Firstly, I did specifically make a mental note as to how much smoother these Celestiales Finos have got.  When they were first out, they were spicy and strong little bombs, that were somewhat harsh and hard to smoke initially.  But, I did note that things have improved immensely.  Still fairly good legs to come, and a definite cedar aspect starting to come to the forefront more, but definitely improving.

Secondly…love my kiddies and always get a chuckle out of them (when they’re not making me lose my hair).  Time spent with them can’t be frequent enough, and has more reward to my soul than any cigar smoked.

Final Score:  92

Total Smoking Time:  1 hour and 13 minutes

Date & Time Smoked:  April 23rd, 2015; lit up at 6:12 pm, done at 7:25 pm

Paired Beverage:  Unsure, can’t remember

Last Meal:  Can’t remember, woulda been about 5:30 pm

Smoking Conditions:  In the hot tub, 8 degrees Celsius and 68 % RH outside, with an 18 kph breeze.

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.

MRN 2nd Edition Encyclopaedia Still A Bit Away…

So, as discussed previously here on “Lights, Sirens and Cigars”, as well as on Nino’s “Flying Cigar” blog, and then also followed-up on again as well here, the Min Ron Nee 2nd Edition Encyclopaedia was announced as delayed.

I’m not sure if further info has trickled out, but I have not heard or seen it elsewhere.  Recently though, I was informed of a further little tidbit from a friend, and thought I’d share it here.

There’s apparently no new update on a confirmed further release date for the 2nd Edition.  MRN is now apparently semi-retired and according to some recent conversations this friend had, he expects it to hit the stores late this year or early next year, but MRN is always checking and re-checking on the progress of the reprint / reconstructions of the new books.

Fingers crossed on seeing these shortly and any further production delays are slim to none.  It’ll definitely be an interesting finished project to see.

Cheers all.

Cigar Review – Ramon Allones Specially Selected, Jun 2011 “ROA” box code; Final Score – 89

Ramon Allones is definitely in my top three favourite brands, if not my favourite.  With my love for robusto-sized cigars especially, a good RASS is in my top five for sure.  RA, as a brand, just generally has a nice dark and sweet tone – that dense, heavy, rich Christmas-cake lusciousness to it.  Stewed fruit – think of cooked dark cherries and such, boysenberries, perhaps mulberries – dark, cooked cherry-pie-filling, but without the heavy sugar added.  Mixed with molasses and rum, some brown sugar and walnuts in there too, heavy butter and cream.

Damn, I’m getting hungry.

This particular smoke was from a trade with a fellow member on the FOH forum, my last stick of a 5-stick or so swap with him from back in 2012 or so.

Reviewed Cigar:  Ramon Allones Specially Selected

Box Date:  Jun 2011

Factory / Manufacture Code:  ROA

Packaging:  25-count dress-box

Price per cigar:  Traded stick (approx. $22.70 CDN value per stick)

Length:  4 7/8″, or 124 mm

Ring Gauge:  50

Format:  Robusto

Weight:  11 grams / 0.4 oz

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  This was a fairly nice stick.  Decently thin and supple wrappers, with a healthy oily sheen.  Not quite as dark and rich as I like to see from RASS, but pretty damn nice overall, and not too far off.  No prominent veins to the wrapper, nice construction.  Fairly good aromas, if not a slight bit muted.

Good weight and construction overall.  Cap was perfect, and the bunch on the foot had nice colouring (a good blend of seco, volado, and ligero leaves), but just a bit lopsided and slightly overbunched it seemed.

After cutting the cigar and tasting at cold…not bad.  Fairly present RA flavours there, but with a tinge of dryness.  Perhaps hay and a grassiness there.

Opening Impressions:  Ahhhh.  RASS.  Such a consistent performer.  Such a consistent go-to stick.

First Third:  Into the first third, the experience was pretty nice.  Some RA Christmas-fruit-cake was right there in the forefront, but with some leather and hay tones added in.

Smoke volumes were nice.  Not a huge amount when “at idle”, but nice slightly viscous smoke on the palate when puffed on.  Definitely a cigar that you know you’re smoking – grabs your attention just enough to remind you what’s going on.

Into the hot tub…

Second Third:  …and into the second third.  Fairly flaky ash (not holding for 1/2″ plus), and somewhat wonky burn at times.  Smoke and flavours right where they should be though.  Leather backing off a bit, perhaps with an ever-so-slight backing of a dark chocolate / dry cocoa tone there.

The band was noticeably loosened from the cigar, a fairly consistent sign of a cigar with some age on it, especially with the larger ring gauges (comes from the cigar slowly “shrinking” over time compared to when rolled).

Final Third:  Into the final third, still consistent RA fruitcake tones.  The leather came back in front, with a slight citrus tanginess / sourness to it, but not in a way that was a put-off.

Not quite a full nubber (it definitely absorbed some of the hot tub’s humidity, and started to slow down and sour up near the tail end).  But finished well.

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  Some slight burn and construction issues didn’t really hurt this stick.  The flavour profile was pretty much spot on, and kept me attentive just enough.

This RASS, to me anyways, was distinctly noticeable though in that ever-so-slight difference between dress-box RASS and cabinet RASS.  Aside from two partial RASS dress boxes, all my own RASS are from 50 cabs.  There’s just such a slight, but yet ironically enough distinct, difference to the cigars taken from these two packaging methods (though they’re the same essential cigars from the ground up), that I’m a cab-cigar convert.  While it may not be a “blind” tasting decision, I would definitely say that quality cab RASS have a general 2-3 point difference minimum in extra enjoyment for me.  Something about the difference of a perfectly-round and artisan-intended original robusto, compared to the slightly box-pressed versions, just make enough of a difference to the burn, combustion, smoke development, etc.

All that said, these are generally always consistent for me and enjoyable.  I can count on them to give me an 86-93 point performance each time and every time.  If you can’t find or afford a 50-cab of these, much less fit them into your humidor or other cigar storage means, a 25-count dress-box of these should definitely be within everyone’s top 10 list of cigars to keep in stock.  Obviously, with this blend, the darker and richer and oilier the sticks, and the more pungent the barnyard aroma, the better.

Final Score:  89

Total Smoking Time:  1 hour and 10 minutes

Date & Time Smoked:  May 23rd, 2015; lit up at 9:35 pm, done at 10:45 pm

Paired Beverage:  Blended margaritas

Last Meal:  Domino’s Pizza and italian cheese bread,  6:30 pm

Smoking Conditions:  In the hot tub, 14 degrees Celsius and 46% RH outside, with an 11 kph light breeze.

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.

Teaching The Wife To Shoot…Ummmmm…

So, in the middle of July, out of the blue in the midst of some stressful goings-on in the summer, my wife up and says to me, “Do you wanna go shooting?”  By the time I picked my jaw up off the floor, she already explained she wanted to start with some clay pigeon shooting with the shotgun.  WTF??!?!?!!!!  12-gauge to START WITH?!?!?!??  I’m in LOVE!!!!  Daddy married RIIIIIIGHT!!!!  LOL.

You see, I’ve been fishing and into the outdoors for most of my life, and shooting firearms since I was 14 (covertly with neighbours and friends, as my parents didn’t want to let me), and firearms hunting with my own since just before I turned 30.  Since then, I’ve bugged my wife once or twice a year – wanna learn how to shoot?  She’s always shrugged it off.  Her explanation?  “You’re the cop, I’m the nurse – you hurt them, and I fix them.  I don’t need to know how to shoot guns.”

So out of nowhere, this came up.  Gladly, I made arrangements for her to try out the Benelli M2 Field and Remington 870 Wingmaster 12 gauges when we went out to some friends’ farm in the middle of July for a BBQ (the same childhood friends who I hunt deer with in the fall).  Obviously, she enjoyed the Benelli M2 Field a LOT more, as the recoil / autoloader action of it made it a lot kinder on her 5’7″, 133 lb-or-so frame.  And no pun intended, but she had a blast, and was a trooper in going through about 45 shots or so just to herself for a first-time shotgunner, and busted her fair share of clays (even with my buddy Scott saying they were gonna switch her out for me for being a better shot for deer hunting, LOL!!!)

Then, later at the start of September, she reminded me that she still wanted to do a “range day”, where she got to try some of the other stuff.  So, a Springfield XDm 9mm and Sig Sauer P226 Combat 9mm pistols, a Remington 700 VTR .223 rifle, and a Sig Sauer M400 Enhanced carbine would be up for the task that day.  A perfect sunny day, light breeze, and only about 22 Celsius.  Five hours spent on the range, about 400 rounds gone through all told, and lots of basic hands-on proficiency (after some dry-fire safety stuff at home in the evenings prior to our range day).  Amazingly, she seemed VERY comfortable with the Sig M400, being that AR’s / carbines are looked down at as “scary black guns” and assault-rifles (hey, they’re dangerous alright, but they simply are a tool at the disposal of whomever is holding it – but that’s a debate for another day), and did pretty well with the reactive targets (the last video was at the very END of the day, she was very tired, and had sore and tired arms at this point, LOL).

While it was only a very basic point-and-shoot day for her, her willingness to even trying it out was wonderful.  After a bunch of weeks and months of very stressful stuff for both of us, we had a great time with that range day, and she was rarely without a grin that day.  She kept saying too that one of the coolest things was constantly having a pistol loaded and on her for the day, that it was a “neat feeling”, both awkward and scary and powerful all at once.  That it gave her a new respect for what I do at work and the responsibility and onus carrying a pistol has, that it made her acutely aware of that while it was on her hip (and she made reference to the awareness that we must have on duty when other people are around us).

All in all, some fun things to share with her.  I think she’s hooked too, as she’s already asked about doing it again!  Win!

Cheers all.