Tag Archives: Toronto

National Mourning…

This sucks.

Yesterday, there was the incident in Toronto.

Man arrested after Toronto van attack charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder

Here’s what we know about the victims of the Toronto van attack

I was about to post a cigar review yesterday, and a couple other Cuba trip posts, but it’s not the mood / time right now.  At this point, I’ve been able to hear that most family and friends in Toronto are not directly involved, and all appear to be safe and sound.  Which is good to hear.  And it’s comforting to see how that city / this province / this country is coming together for this incident.

I lived in Toronto for a number of years back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, and a place that I worked at was right at Yonge St and Sheppard Ave, right at Spring Garden Ave, just a few blocks south of Yonge and Finch Ave.  So, I know that region / plaza / street quite well – a very bustling area, with the Ford Center for the Performing Arts right there, and the plaza area surrounding the North York municipal center and whatnot.

Current reporting states that the arrested guy (and my hat’s off to the Toronto PS cop that nabbed the guy) used to be a Canadian Armed Forces member.  It sounds more like he was a “recruit” than a “member”.  By the sounds of things, he only made it through 16 training days out of his Basic Training when he started with the CAF last summer / fall, before he was punted out.  So, no, he didn’t become a full member of the Forces, as it sounds like he got turfed for simply not fitting in (but doesn’t sound like there were big warning bells on an incident like this either).  It might be interesting depending on what other info about this becomes known also.

But I know within the military, and policing as well, these types of incidents are always in the backs of our minds, as front line personnel, and for military and police planners.  Lone wolf.  Mental health issues.  Soft targets.  Hardened weapons-of-opportunity/convenience.  Etc.  Everyone worries about international terrorism, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, etc.  But it’s these types of incidents that Canadians as a whole have had a lackluster approach to, as a society.  How many times do we hear “I never thought it could happen here” in the media stories???  Unfortunately, we think about it in military and law enforcement circles – hell, an old Warrant Officer of mine from a number of years back (before the Ottawa attack even) used to say that what Canadians unfortunately NEED is to have one of these types of attacks occur, on Canadian soil, on a big, soft target, to make everyone wake up and realize that complacency and shoving our collective heads in the sand won’t make the threats go away.  That our downloading of mental health beds/hospitals/treatment over two-plus decades has left a HUGE gap, and coupled with the budgetary limits placed on the Armed Forces and first responders, that it’s all a giant accident / incident waiting to happen.

So, we need to learn from this, and gain as much valuable insight as we can.  To not to be Chicken Little, and be afraid of our shadows, and deviate from our everyday lives.  But to simply have a slight vigilance about us, and to actually fund the personnel, training, and infrastructure for our military and law enforcement and first-responder institutions, to make us all the better prepared and ready should something terrible like this happen.

Thoughts and prayers (to whatever deity you worship) being sent to all directly or indirectly affected by this.  Hopefully the coming days and weeks will yield more answers, more understanding, some forgiveness, more tranquility and calmness, and more awareness of the underlying issues.

Cheers all.


Cigar Review “flashback” – Vegas Robaina XV Aniversario 2012 RE Canada, Sep 2012 “LAR” box code; Final Score – 90

So, I’ve got another review here, but it’s sort of a “flashback” review, in that its from a review that I did a while back, before this blog, and then saved the text as I wanted to see how the future evolved for this cigar.

Also, as I’m mentally, physically, and emotionally preparing for this November’s Partagas Encuentros festivities (dude, it’s a marathon week!!!), I’ve decided to repost this here, as my thoughts harken to the last trip.  I’ve got a couple of boxes of these VR 2012 RE’s, all with a Dic 2012 “LAR” code, and I’ve been thinking of them lately, so I figured posting this older review here prior to doing a new one soon will help with a bit of the hindsight aspect.

So, review’s below, with some minor editing notes, and a few small non-relevant deletions.



It’s actually been ages since I did a detailed review.  Aside from the blind tasting competitions, I think the last full-on review I did was from late 2011 or so.  And this was definitely one worth reviewing.

I enjoyed this on a visit to Montreal.  I was actually on a bit of a road trip, on my way back out here to Nova Scotia for work.  I made a stop into Toronto for one day and evening, getting together for a mini-herf with Frank, Art, Tom, and Mike, and we shared some great stories, great smokes, nice drinks, and good times like always.  A nice little planning / brain-storming session for the [then] upcoming 2013 Toronto MegaHerf III.  But, then I travelled through to Montreal, and while waiting for my travel-wife Simon to get done his shift at work, I made a nice little 4-hour or so pop-in to the LCDH in Montreal.  Simon prepared the introductions previously, and I had the chance to sit and talk a bit with Antonio Marsillo, the new manager of LCDH Montreal (Marc has recently retired, earlier last year, I believe).

So anyways, I tried this cigar during that visit.  It’s one that I was very interested in, as both Simon and Art had the chance to attend the pre-release tasting panel for this cigar when we were down in Havana, Cuba during the Partagas Festival.  [NOTE – Art’s awesome review on these, with mucho pictures, can be found here on his The Dirty Ashes blog, and Simon’s review can be found here on Cigar Inspector, though I also believe he has it posted to the LCDH Montreal blog too.]  They had the chance to sit and taste and discuss this cigar with some H S.A. higher-ups, as well as with Carlos Robaina (of whom, we visited him in his shop earlier that week).  Simon was actually invited to attend through/on behalf of the LCDH Montreal, and Art, similarly for LCDH Toronto.

Therefore, their reviews from November for this cigar definitely made me interested in it (and I took some pretty extensive notes and pictures with my iPhone), and I went into this review I did with some good hopes.  Plus, theirs was damn near wet fresh when they did their H S.A. tasting, and it had been a few months of sitting time for this cigar, so I was definitely interested to see where it was going.

Anywho…on to the review.

Reviewed Cigar:  Vegas Robaina XV Aniversario, 2012 RE Canada

Box Date:  Sep 2012

Factory / Manufacture Code:  LAR

Packaging:  10-box, standard dress box, numbered boxes

Price per cigar:  Never talk money… (well, you can see the Canadian retail price in the picture)

Length:  6 1/2″, or 164 mm

Ring Gauge:  54

Format:  Sublime / double robusto

Weight:  Don’t you know it isn’t polite to ask a fella this??

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  This cigar was just flat-out nice.  It’s a big sublimes format.  This cigar (and for that matter, all the various ones that were in that retail box) just seemed to have impeccable construction, with no obtrusive veins at all that were noticeable.  The wrapper was thin and lush, with a very super-fine-grain tooth, but still with some nice mild oils that left a luxurious feeling in the hand (especially when combined with the size and weight of the cigar).  After clipping the head, and finding an interesting draw, I was getting hints of light, faint chocolate, and mildly faint Merlot wine at cold tasting.

Now, when I say “an interesting draw”, it’s because to me, it almost seemed wind-tunnel like at cold. It seemed to almost free flow, but then…

Opening Impressions:  After a lighting up and initial draws, the draw was just perfect when lit.  It somehow firmed up to have just the right amount of resistance, exhibiting just the perfect smoke volume once lit.  The body/density of the smoke, though, was almost a thin, lightly peppery smoke at the opening.  There was even almost a slightly salt & peppery tinge – almost tannic, something that sticks to your lips, drying them out but still keeping you wanting more (which was fine with me, as I had lots of cappuccino on hand that day).

First Third:  Into the first third, the story began to change a bit.  The smoke started to develop a medium body, with medium-full flavours.  The smoke almost “thickened up”, which became very nice.  I was smoking a big, bold statement of a cigar, and the smoke was now letting you know it.  It was beginning to have…presence.  Some wet, fresh leather tones were coming into play.

Second Third:  Into the second third, the evolving continued.  Also, the ash had shown to have almost a wonderful pitted appearance of dark granite or porous limestone.  The ash was fairly firm, and holding on in inch-and-a-half chunks.  About halfway through the cigar, I switched over to sparkling water and some Havana Club 7 – the cappuccinos were making me wiry, and I needed both something stronger for my palate to pair up with this cigar, as well as the San Pellegrino to help continually clear my palate (which was on its third cigar out of this particular five-cigar day).

At the halfway mark, the salt and pepper tones were really backing off, but were being replaced by a light but very fragrant expresso hit.  Quite the voyage so far, this cigar was definitely keeping me more than interested.

Final Third:  Into the final third, I started to get metallic hits of harsh youthfulness.  Honestly, I was a bit surprised it took that long, for such a young and still fresh cigar (at this point, this cigar was still only 4 months old or so).  While smoking this last third, I noticed a very unique cut to the RE band (something that Simon later told me at supper he noticed down in Cuba too).  To the best of my knowledge or recollection, I haven’t seen this type of cut on these RE regional-designator bands before on any other RE release.

Also, in this third, I was starting to get a hard carbon tone added to the mix (almost like a pencil-lead sort of flavour).  Thankfully, this was only coming into the mix when I was getting close to nubbing it.

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  I finished the cigar after a one-hour and forty-five minute joyride.  It was definitely an enjoyable cigar (considering an unfortunate complete-miss on a failure of a RASS I tried to smoke earlier that day).  This VR RE was a great performer overall, considering the format and age.  I’m not a huge fan of something this big and bold (I like my piramides and robustos, but I find that stuff over 50 ring gauge can be just too annoying to smoke sometimes).  But, like the Montecristo Sublimes, this blend just seems to work soooooo damn well in this format.  A VR sublime is a definite score it seems with this result.  It will be really great to see how these age and perform over time.

I’d say these are definitely box worthy, for at least one box in anyone’s humidor.  If you like VR (or the larger formats especially), this would be a good bet I’d think.  It was extremely enjoyable for me, and I’m not even a huge overall fan of VR, and I don’t have a lot of VR product in my humidor.  These were an absolutely solid 90 right now (at only 4 months old, with some harsh tones too!), very smokable right up front, and I think these have a perfect potential for an easy 94-96 with only 3 or 4 years aging time.

Final Score:  90

Total Smoking Time:  1 hr and 45 minutes

Paired Beverage:  Cappuccinos, then sparkling water and some Havana Club 7

Last Meal:  N/A

Date & Time Smoked:  January 31st, 2013; lit up at 3:45 pm, done at 5:30 pm

Smoking Conditions:  N/A

Thanks for reading my review. Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.