Sunday, May 19, 2024

Liga Privada H99 - An Early Retirement Gift to Myself

With retirement just a couple weeks away, I was looking to treat myself to an early retirement splurge. Hogsheads Cigar lounge held a Drew Estate event last Friday evening, which provided the perfect opportunity to indulge myself. 

The evening featured most, if not all, of the extensive Drew Estate lineup, but the "main event" was showcasing the new Liga Privada H99. Along with the regular vitolas the line cigar, the event-only Corona Doble was available for sale as well. I had decided prior to arriving I was going to treat myself to a box of 24.

The purchase of this special box qualified me for slew of H99-themed swag to go along with it. A glass ashtray, Xikar cutter, keychain, a cigar rest, and a selection of free cigars, were all added to my bag. The hardware will be added to my shelf of other themed cigar accoutrements to make appearances as demanded.

I spent the evening at the lounge enjoying fun conversation and smoking a couple other Drew Estate cigars. I didn't win ay of the raffles of the evening, but I had my prize. I'll let the H99 cigars rest in my humidor for as long as I can resist. I am looking forward to enjoying it soon though -- and I'll have plenty of time to do that. 


Friday, May 17, 2024

Coffee Break: Undercrown Maduro

This coffee break supported by the Liga Privada Undercrown Maduro from Drew Estate. The temperature was in the mid-60° range -- not cool, but warm enough to not require any supplemental heat. I think I can finally bring in the portable heat sources until the fall.

The Liga Privada Undercrown Maduro from Drew Estate is one that I smoke frequently and that has been mentioned often in these Musings. The 5" x 54 Robusto has been resting in my humdor since February. It combines a Mexican San Andrés Maduro wrapper, a Habano Connecticut binder, with Brazil Mata Fina and Nicaraguan Habano fillers. The medium-bodied smoke has rich espresso and cocoa sweetness. Some dark fruit and bitterness is also in the mix.

This is a cigar I like to keep on hand. ("Siri, remind me to pick up more Undercrown Maduro.") I almost universally enjoy it with a bourbon or a dark beer. I don't recall that I've paired it with coffee, though it seems likely I would have at some point. The dark espresso notes in the cigar contrasted with the comparatively lighter notes of the rich, black coffee. The combo was enjoyable and I poured a second cup to enjoy.

We've been under an extended period of dark and rainy days of late. As I wrapped up my smoke, though it would be setting soon, the sun finally came out from behind the clouds. It was a morning dawn -- at the end of the day. 


Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Coffee Break: Muestra de Saka #NLMTHA

Another tease of Spring weather meant coffee and a cigar on the deck. I was in the mood for a lancero, a desire that often arises when I'm looking for an afternoon smoke, usually with coffee. As with this day, those situations often include some acoustic blues coming from the outdoor speaker.

The cigar of choice was the Muestra de Saka #NLMTHA from Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust. The cigar was part of a Lancero Sampler I purchased last August from Luxury Cigar Club. (I have no connection with LCC other than being a satisfied member.)

The Muestra de Saka #NLMTHA is a 7 x 38 stick consisting of all Nicaraguan tobaccos. That's as detailed as the information goes. The wrapper is an attractive dark brown and the cap has a small pigtail. As the story goes, Steve Saka was regularly hounded by fans to create a lancero vitola, a size he apparently disdains. When he ceded to those requests, he stated his feelings with the hashtag name, which stands for "now leave me the hell alone." 

A quick hit with the lighter and the cigar is easily lit and a thick cloud of smoke fills the air. The first impressions are of roasted nuts and dark coffee. As the cigar warms up, cedar and pepper spices join the mix, though the spices don't drown out the coffee aspect. There's a bread and oak base that comes through as well. As the cigar progresses, the dark coffee shifts to the bitter espresso side of the spectrum. 

The Muestra de Saka #NLMTHA provided a 70 minute accompaniment to the coffee and music. Despite the intermittent cloud cover cooling the air occasionally, it was an extremely pleasant repast on a Sunday afternoon.


Monday, May 13, 2024

Hidden Humidor Treasure: 2018 Fratello DMV Virginia

I decided to dig deep in the humidor for something to smoke on a recent evening. Pulling out the bottom tray where I had put cigars "for later" led me to a Fratello DMV Virginia. I have just two left from the original 2018 release, and looked forward to seeing how the cigar had aged.

This Fratello DMV Virginia features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, with an Ecuadorian binder. The fillers are a mix from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and the USA. I've always enjoyed Fratello cigars, but the original DMV releases are some of my favorites. 

The Virginia vitola is a 5 1/2  x 52 Robusto. After more than five years in the humidor, the cigar still has an oily sheen and the chocolate brown wrapper is in perfect condition.

I first smoked the DMV Virginia during a release party at my local lounge, where I had the pleasure of meeting Fratello owner Omar de Frias. My notes on the cigar from that evening included tasting a strong spice and roasted note, as well as an oily sensation on my lips. As I've smoked more over the years, I've noticed the flavors have mellowed very little, but have come together in a balanced profile. I still get roasted coffee, leather, cedar, and bit of pepper. 

The vintage Fratello DMV Virginia burned evenly, producing copious flavorful smoke. I truly enjoyed it and look forward to, slowly, going through the remaining sticks of the series that I have tucked away.


Saturday, May 11, 2024

Blanco Liga Exclusiva de Familia Connecticut Robusto

Many folks assume a dark wrapper means a cigar is strong and full bodied. The assumption is often incorrect. Admittedly, I am guilty of an opposite assumption, that all lighter colored cigars are mild and boring. It's true that Connecticut wrapper cigars can disappoint me, but that's not a universal truth. For one such case, meet the Blanco Liga Exclusiva de Familia Connecticut Robusto.

Blanco Cigars, made at the Plancencia factory in Nicaragua, have a reputation for being strong smokes. Some even come with a warning. This Blanco cigar was part of the February Luxury Cigar Club Core shipment. When I saw the cigar, I was at first taken aback. I am signed up for the Medium-Full package, and here's this Connecticut Shade wrapper. Then I saw the Blanco label, and was optimistic. 

Blanco Liga Exclusiva de Familia Connecticut Robusto features a Honduran grown Connecticut Shade wrapper, with Nicaragua binder and filler. The smooth shiny wrapper and colorful band combine for a very attractive cigar. Upon light up, I got an immediate hit of black pepper. It was predominant but not overpowering. Quickly that was joined by sweet cream and woodsy notes. The balance of sweet and spice continued throughout the smoke.

Due to some temporary alcohol restrictions imposed by prescription pharmaceuticals,  I enjoyed the cigar with a lightly flavored carbonated water. That was actually the perfect accompaniment. Despite the full bodied nature of the cigar, a bourbon may have muted the flavors too much. Perhaps a cappuccino would have been a nice pairing.

In summary, don't judge a book, or cigar, by its cover. You might miss out.


Friday, May 10, 2024

Toscano Antico and Espresso

I enjoyed a fun "Italian" dessert after dinner this week. I had the urge to enjoy one of the Toscano cigars I brought back from Italy last fall. An espresso seemed fitting to go along.

The Toscano Antica is a 6 x 38 cheroot slim panatela with a very rustic appearance. The cigars are dry rolled and do not require storage in a humidor. The wrapper is fired cured Kentucky tobacco and the filler is blend of USA and Italian tobaccos. There is no binder leaf. This is the classic Clint Eastwood Western movie cigar.

The Toscano Antica has a strong wood fire aroma even before lighting. The flavors when smoking bring to mind smoky BBQ with some sweetness added in. Despite the rough, dry appearance the burn has no issues and gave about a 40 minute smoke. That was plenty of time for a couple of double espressos.

I do enjoy these cigars on occasion. Fortunately Tuscano packages them for export and they can be had, rather inexpensively, from many online retailers.


Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Sagradi Lilith With My Morning Coffee

I enjoy coffee with a cigar fairly regularly. It's usually as part of an afternoon pick me up. Although often craved, having the time to linger in the morning is an infrequent pleasure. (Though that schedule restriction will soon be a thing of the past.) 

This past weekend, on a cool morning, I had the pleasure of a leisurely smoke with my mug(s) of hot coffee. The Sagrado Lilith Petit Corona was my choice for this repast.

The roughly rolled 5 x 43 stick features a light brown Ecuadorian wrapper, with Dominican binder and filler tobaccos. The cigar was part of the December 2023 Luxury Cigar Club shipment. It's been resting for about five months, while I awaited a fitting coffee moment. The medium bodied smoke has balanced notes of black pepper and cinnamon, along with a hay and floral presence.

I've lamented in the past that finding cigars that are well-suited to pairing with black coffee, for me, has been a challenge. It seems from recent experience, that the secret is found in cigars featuring Dominican tobaccos. True or just recency effect, the Salgado Lilith was a truly enjoyable accompaniment for the morning caffeine dose.


Saturday, May 4, 2024

Cigar Lounge - Rinse and Repeat

Another Friday evening and I opted once again to have a cigar at the brewery cigar lounge. Though I have beer, cigars, and even whiskey at home, the change of pace and chance to chat with other beer and cigar fans prompted my visit.

Coincidently there was a Civil War reenactment event taking place this weekend at the brewery. There was a large and growing crowd of "blue and gray" participants milling about. The main events were to take place on Saturday and Sunday, but the reenactors were camping for the weekend. Many drank their beer from their tin cups, and I saw some even resorting to matches (outdoors!) to light cigars and pipes. Most were not to bound to avoiding those anachronisms.

I broke from my usual cigar-friendly porters and stouts to enjoy the 1781 Brewing Boogie Water Pale Ale. The 5.5% ABV ale has a juicy citrus profile that is both flavorful and refreshing. As I recall the brewery releases it each Spring, but I  have never tried it. I did rather enjoy it.

I grabbed what's becoming a somewhat regular cigar for me when I visit the Olde Towne Tobacconist brewery lounge, the Veritas 412. I have some of these at home as well, but still gravitate to them when walking the humidor.

Maybe it's the dark Pennsylvania Maduro wrapper I see. Perhaps the San Andrés binder and Nicaraguan Double Ligero and Pennsylvania fillers that attracts. Whatever the reason, the full flavored smoke with semi-sweet chocolate, black pepper, and roasted nuts is a favorite.

As the sun set, I moved inside where the wood stove had been lit. I was feeling relaxed and enjoying conversation. The pleasant setting mandated a refill of my mug and another cigar. I lit up a Micallef A to carry me into the late evening. This is a "brick and mortar" only cigar, the company opting to cease selling via mail order houses. I hadn't had one for some four years. No pictures were taken so I'll save that tale for another day.