Friday, June 14, 2024

Flag Day and National Bourbon Day - What a Combo!

June 14 is filled with truly "Made in America" celebrations. Today is Flag Day, the day we celebrate our Nation's flag and all it represents. On the same day we also mark National Bourbon Day, the day we celebrate an "official" American beverage. 

On June 14, 1777 the Continental Congress resolved "That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation." Our first flag has evolved over time to the one we proudly fly today with 13 stripes and 50 stars. To this day, I hold it to be the most striking of any Nation's flag. There are many misguided and anti-freedom people in the US today who claim our flag is a racist or oppressive symbol. Ironically, a majority of those making those accusations, would hardly be as free, if even allowed to avoid the death penalty, under the governments they so ignorantly wish to emulate. 

National Bourbon Day came later. On May 4, 1964 Congress proclaimed bourbon to be a “distinctive product of the United States.” I am not sure when the National holiday came to be, nor how the day came to be celebrated on June 14. Tradition, or legend, holds that May 4 was actually the first time bourbon was distilled, but who would really know? The day likely has more to do with distillery marketing than history, but who could be against such a celebration? There is certainly an argument that could be be made for joining it with Flag Day given its connection to our great Nation.

So fly the flag and enjoy a sip of bourbon today, and be thankful for both.

Fun fact: Viewing the American flag leads to higher brain function.


Thursday, June 13, 2024

The Creation of the Beer Fridge

It begins here.

And finishes in the basement or garage. That's where the majority of its existence will be.


Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Sunday Wine, Hors d'Oeuvres, and a Cigar

Aah. . . Sunday afternoon. Even in retirement, Sunday's remain special. Mass in the morning, then a nice breakfast/lunch, followed by reading, and piddling around the house or yard. There was a time when Sunday afternoon also included a visit to one of our favorite local pubs for drinks and light food before dinner. Now it we are more likely to spend the late afternoon on the deck, with of course, drinks and light food, with the added bonus that I can also enjoy a cigar.

This past Sunday afternoon I had an urge for wine instead of beer or bourbon. It just seemed right for the sunny afternoon. I selected a bottle of Rebellion "Commonwealth" red wine. The local wine is from the Rebellion Bourbon Bar in Fredericksburg. Rebellion offers a house stave pick of Maker's Mark bourbon. When they receive the bourbon, they also receive the barrel it was aged in. Rebellion work with a local vintner to produce a red wine aged for 8 months in the barrels.

My wine knowledge is generally limited to liking a wine, or not. I do favor full bodied reds. The bourbon barrel aged wine is semi-dry with sweet dark berry fruit notes. It is low in tannins with no bitterness. I didn't find any distinctive or different notes, outside of a very pleasantly drinking wine.  And, one that happened to pair quite nicely with the La Paline Black Label cigar I chose to enjoy.

The La Palina Black Label is a 6 x 50 Toro. The cigar has not spent much time in my humidor as I just picked it up last week when visiting the cigar lounge. However I was most interested in trying it out, and it just looked like it would pair well. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut.

The cigar uses a Brazilian Bahiano wrapper, which encases a double binder of Dominican and Nicaraguan leaves, as well as filler tobaccos from those two countries as well. The Black Label kicks off black pepper spice, along with hints of cocoa and roasted nuts. As the smoke progressed the cocoa shifted to more of a sweet dark chocolate. The cigar provides a full bodied smoke, although it is not harsh at all and should be approachable by most smokers. I enjoyed a 90 minute smoke with no burn issues.

I had high hopes for the pairing, and I was not disappointed. The two flavor profiles were complimentary, like a classic red wine and chocolate pairing.


Monday, June 10, 2024

Friday Evening - A Cigar, A Rye, and New Music

I'd been looking forward to revisiting the Buzzard's Roost Cigar Rye, and finally did pull it down from the shelf on Friday evening. I also grabbed a Rocky Patel The Edge 20th Anniversary to smoke along with the rye on a pleasantly warm and low humidity evening. This sort of weather doesn't last long in Virginia.

Batch 2 of Buzzard's Roost Cigar Rye was released in the fall of 2022. The mash bill is 95 percent rye and 5 percent malted barley and bottled at moderate 105 proof. The #1 char barrels used for the cigar blend were smoked over tobacco leaves.

The aroma is light in the rocks glass, but a rye spice and a hint smoke come through. The rye spiciness is forward in the sip. Tobacco and citrus notes come through after the initial spice. A caramel and tobacco smoke presence coats the palate in a lingering finish. Taking a sip of water clears the spice and helps the tobacco smoke come through. I enjoyed the Buzzard's Roost Cigar Rye. It's not the typical cognac - port - wine finish of other "cigar blends" but makes a quite pleasant pairing for the cigar.

The Rocky Patel Edge 20th Anniversary is a smoke I've enjoyed often. This particular 5 1/2" X 50 Robusto has been resting in the humidor for a year. The 20th Anniversary was introduced by Rocky Patel in 2022 to mark the 20th anniversary of the Edge series. The stick has a 10 year aged Ecuador Sumatra wrapper, a Honduran Broadleaf binder, and filler tobaccos from Honduras and Panama. The chocolate brown, silky wrapper gives evokes a classic HERSHEY'S Chocolate Bar. The medium bodied smoke delights with rich notes of espresso, dark chocolate, and nuts. The flavor was consistent throughout the smoke, which was just fine with me as it was pairing with the rye most beautifully.

The Friday evening was made even more enjoyable with some new music from a favorite artist. I'd been looking forward to Joanne Shaw Taylor's new blues album to be released. As Friday was the release date, it got a couple play throughs in the course of this evening.


Sunday, June 9, 2024

Sunday Humor

A laugh for your Sunday morning.

A preacher was delivering a temperance sermon one hot Sunday afternoon. With great exposition, he said, “If I had all the beer in the world, I’d take it and throw it into the river.”

With greater conviction, he banged his fist on the pulpit; “And if I had all the wine in the world, I’d take it and throw it into the river.”

Finally, he said, “And if I had all the whiskey in the world, I’d take it and throw it into the river.”

Sensing he delivered a powerful sermon, he whipped his brow and sat down.

The choirmaster, with shock on his face, looked over the congregation, stood very cautiously, and announced with a wry smile, “For our closing song, let us sing Hymn #365: “Shall We Gather at the River?”

This laugh courtesy of OldNFO


Friday, June 7, 2024

Relaxing at the Cigar Lounge

I decided to go over to the cigar lounge to enjoy an afternoon of smoking inside for a change. Feeling free from any interruptions from my (former) employer, I sat down with a Aganorsa Leaf La Validación Habano. 

The lounge was pretty empty in the early weekday afternoon. Instead of conversation, I spent the time reading. (Kindle app on my phone for the win.) The Aganorsa Leaf La Validación Habano is a cigar I've not tried previously. This 6 1/4 x 52 Toro is smoothly wrapped in an Ecuador Habano leaf, with Nicaraguan binder and fillers. The double gold-accented, colorful bands make for a showy presentation. 

The first few puffs are a robust black pepper wake up. The smoke quickly gets slightly more balanced with the addition of leather and some sweet chocolate. As I smoked I occasionally detected nuts and a dry earthiness. The cigar kept its full bodied and spicy personality throughout. The burn was even and slow, giving a full two hours of enjoyment.

In a bit of irony, I received a text message from my old boss. It was not unwelcome though, as we had also developed a non-work related friendship. He also recently left the company and was just checking in to chat. That was certainly more preferred than a work interruption. 


Wednesday, June 5, 2024

AVO Unexpected Celebration and Courage & Conviction Double Cask Reserve

I don't try to age cigars for long periods in general. The oldest cigars in my humidor are around five years old. Most are two years old or less. "Smoke 'em if you got 'em" I say. There was one AVO Unexpected Celebration in there from my purchase in August 2019.

When the AVO Unexpected line was released it was touted as a new line of specially crafted cigars. In reality the cigars appear to be rebranded prior releases. The Celebration is the same as the AVO XO. Probably not the best PR that AVO could do, but that marketing technique is probably not unique to them.

The Celebration is rolled with an Ecuadoran wrapper, and binder and filler tobaccos from the Dominican Republic. The cigars were aged for six years before being released. So I'll see what 10 years of aging bring.

This cigar was about the same as I remember. Mild, with sweet chocolate and cedar. Probably the last time I smoked the AVO Celebration was the fall of 2020. I recall it was a smooth, mild cigar, that went well with my morning coffee. This time I decided to pair an American Single Malt Whisky that I had never tasted. I had an airplane bottle Courage & Conviction Double Cask Reserve from Virginia Distilling on hand. I had grabbed the bottle to try out the whiskey before investing in a larger bottle. 

The Double Cask Reserve consists of a blend of 50% Bourbon cask aged, 25% Sherry cask, and 25% Cuvée cask aged whisky. (Whisky is the distiller's preferred spelling.) The flavor made me think of a scotch or irish whisky. It had a mild flavor, with hints of hay, oak, with a hint of pepper and fruit sweetness. The 96 proof was easy on the palate. 

I enjoyed the Courage & Conviction Double Cask Reserve quite a bit. It was well-matched with the cigar's profile. I lamented not having a bit more than the little 50 ml bottle. Coincidently about the same time I was preparing to enjoying this pour, a friend messaged me about the Px Sherry finish Courage & Conviction he was enjoying. It would appear I need look for some more offerings in this lineup.


Monday, June 3, 2024

El Septimo Sacred Arts Collection Da Vinci

For an afternoon smoke recently I grabbed an El Septimo Sacred Arts Collection Da Vinci. This was one of the "special" cigars I picked up recently as I prepared for the great relaxing (aka, retirement.) It hasn't been in the humidor long, but I was anxious to try it out.

The Da Vinci is part of the Sacred Arts Collection by El Septimo. The 7 1/2 x 40 Lancero has a dark chocolate maduro wrapper. The wrapper leaf is toothy with a slightly dry look, though it did not feel dry.

The cigar had a tighter draw than I prefer, which it retained throughout the 95 minute smoke. I had to retouch the bun a couple times when the smoke production wavered. The smoke was dry and earthy, with bit of cedar and black pepper. The spice was joined by cocoa and nuts as the smoke progressed. It was a medium bodied smoke that I enjoyed despite the extra effort required for the draw.

For the sunny afternoon smoke, I paired the El Septimo Sacred Arts Collection Da Vinci with a couple glasses of beer. I started with a leftover Lights Out Holiday Ale from Blue Mountain Brewery. The malty, slightly spiced beer proved a good match. I followed it with a malty Smithwick's Irish Red Ale. Again, the malt rich beer prove a nice compliment to the El Septimo. A pleasant afternoon all around.