Thursday, December 29, 2011

Whisky Review: Glenmorangie The Lasanta

It is better to give than receive, unless you are dealing with Scotch. Then it is much better to receive (of course).

I received this bottle of Glenmorangie Lasanta as a Christmas gift from a colleague. I don't know what could have been a better gift. Who doesn't want great booze for the holidays!? Anyway, I am a fan of the Glenmorangie Original and I had very high hopes for this dram.

Color: Pale Straw
Nose: brown sugar sweet, syrupy with a little cinnamon
Body: medium and malty, had a mellow mouth feel
Palate: mmmm vanilla, smooth nutty taste with some spice
Finish: long and soft, oak plays it part here as it ends

This tasted a little like a Macallan 12 but at the same time, different enough. It was smoother and felt rich. When I say smooth, I mean there was no bite to it. Plus the sweet and syrupy tastes really added to the "smooth" characteristic. You could easily drink more than you realized with this whisky. It just tastes so good! Not the most complex, but it was just so nice to drink. Its sweet taste reminds me of a Dalwhinnie 15 but with the carmel and spice of a Macallan. I was very impressed and liked this whisky way more than the Glenmorangie Original. I give this sweet whisky a strong 8 of 10. This is a must own from the Glenmorangie Distillery.

Question for YOU: What was the last Glenmorangie that you had?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cigar Review: Olivia Master Blends III

If this gloomy weather has you down and out, I have a solution for you. Yup you guessed it, my solution is this excellent cigar from Olivia. This Master Blend is exactly that , a masterful blend of delicious flavors and smells. As the weather gets a little colder and the clouds come in, warm up your day with a darker and heartier cigar.

The construction of this cigar is excellent and I could see no wrong wrong here. It has a rich oily sungrown broad-leaf wrapper and is constructed with  a Nicaraguan blend of Habano-seed, ligero tobaccos . This gives the cigar a great balance between full flavor and spice with a smoother finish. The cigar has some very obvious earthy and spicy notes. It is a tad strong but perfect for a seasoned smoker or for a colder day (hence this post). The flavor gets a little more amplified as it burns down, the earthy notes really start to come out, finished with a little brown sugar sweet. 

This cigar tackled my winter doldrums with ease! I have had mixed results with Olivia but this cigar has restored my faith in them. I give this subtlety awesome cigar a great 8 of 10. Seriously it's good.

Questions for YOU: What is your favorite wintery smoke?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cigar Review: Rocky Patel Conneticut

Ahhhh...smoking a cigar is all about sitting back and relaxing, am I right?!

That means sometimes you just want a nice mellow smoke. Nothing too strong or intense, just an easy going cigar. I also don't like skimping on taste though. That is where a cigar like this shines.

 Rocky Patel really does a nice job with the more mellow smokes, but I also enjoy his full bodied smokes as well. This cigar had very nice construction, very few veins in the leaf and a perfect draw. It had a very light and pleasant taste of nuts. It became more earthy as you smoked but still very mild in body. The smoke was rich and creamy, and even though it was a mellow smoke, it presented the smoker with a great taste experience. I would recommend this to a blossoming cigar smoker as his anytime cigar. Really nice work here Rocky, my only complaint is that I would like to see a little more complexity ( I know that is hard with a mellow cigar). That is not the cigar's fault, it was made to be light. Overall, I give this cigar an 7 of 10.

Questions for YOU: What is your favorite mellow cigar?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cigar Review: Rocky Patel Sungrown

Like visiting an old friend, I am going back to my Rocky Patel cigars... I have had them at the bottom of my humidor for almost a year now and they are ready for a good smoke. As I was rummaging around the humidor, I spotted the RP Sungrown. I was smoking at a friends house and we lit it up, once again Rocky didn't disappoint. The cigar was heavy and smelled strong. It had a slow burning draw. I started smoking it and noticed its bold flavor and a very small amount of creamy sweetness on the tongue. I handed it to my buddy and he gasped at its spiciness! I went back and tried another puff looking for that spicy pepper taste he claimed. It was there when I focused on that taste, it is very interesting to see how the mind and mouth play along. I have become used to that peppery finish from the Graycliffs and some of the Ghurka's. The RP Sungrown just wasn't up to par.

I liked the cigar but it just wasn't my thing, too simple and plain. Sweet and spicy that was about it. If I tried really really hard I could identify that sweet taste as some legume like flavor, but that would be a stretch! Overall though great quality cigar, just not what I wanted at the time. I give it a 7.5.

Questions for YOU: Did you have a different experience with this cigar? If so, do share! 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Scotch Review: Ardbeg 10

WOW, thats all I can say. I decided on the Ardbeg up after reading a review about it in my whisky bible. It received phenomenal reviews and the connoisseurs love it. So lets put this smoky friend to the test....

Color: a very pale straw or even a white wine (sure isn't sweet like wine)

Nose: It starts very salty then turns to a smell of peat, after that a little PEAT, then more PEAT! But it is is so smooth almost like a sweetened slice of the dirt. Like a campfire roasting marshmallows.

Palate: Stings a bit, then mellows into a sweet smoky taste, not as much peat as you would expect but still very strong. Ahhhh a citrus like sweet stays on the back of the tongue as the smoke drifts out...very impressive. Much more refined than the Laphroig 10. It has a berry aftertaste, granted it is hidden in layers of smoke and peat but it is there.

Finish: It is much much, more smooth than I imagined. The smell makes you think you are about to drink a swamp, then the taste presents a very complex and sophisticated dram. It is a fairly long finish of smoky sweet and that warming high alcohol tingle.

What a journey! I was really impressed with this smoky dram. I thought I liked Laphroig but this puts the Laphroig to shame. It was smooth, impressive, and complex for a peaty Islay malt. It was a thick, juicy, and actually quite affordable. I would not recommend this to a new drinker, or even some veterans. This is a whisky to be enjoyed by someone with a tongue and nose that would appreciate this unique drink. I give the Ardbeg 10 year old a solid 9.5 out of 10.

Questions for YOU:  What is you favorite smoky Scotch?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Cigar Review: Diesel

Diesel, how awesome of a cigar name is that? With a name like Diesel how could it not be an amazing cigar!?  I beleive the Diesel was introduced in 2008, and has been impressing cigar enthuasists ever since. This little masterpeice was crafted by none other than Mr. Fernandez and here is what has to say about him...

"Abdel "AJ" Fernandez is the protégé of Don Alejandro Robaina, the man who is considered to be the “Godfather” of tobacco. After spending most of his life studying in Cuba under Don Alejandro, Abdel Fernandez moved to Nicaragua to begin producing his own cigars. After only 6 years, Abdel currently produces Rocky Patel’s Fusion, Indian Tabac 10th Anniversary, Padilla Habano, Sol Cubano Cuban Cabinet, Man O' War and Man O' War Ruination, all of which received rave reviews."
The cigar had a good weight to it, and was packed full of great tabacco. Its earthy Costa Rican maduro wrapper gave it a very strong smell and dark appearance. It cut and lit very easily and made you aware of its presence right away. It had a slightly pungunet smell, but nothing offensive. It tasted great though! It billowed great big clouds of thick smoke that tasted like toasted expresso and finished with some spicy pepper. It was a really good smoke and had a varieity of flavors for your senses to sort out. I was very impressed and will definitely pick up a few more, if the opportunity presents itself! Overall I give this pleasant earthy smoke a super solid 8.5 out of 10!

Questions for You: Have you had the kick of  a Diesel recently? What did you think about it?
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Scotch Review: The Balvenie DoubleWood 12

Double the cask, double the flavor?! Maybe...

The Balvenie Doublewood was the first doublewood I purchased and it wont be the last. I like the concept of using both varieties of casks to bring out the best flavors from each. It is like the SUV of Scotches! But do doublewoods actually draw the best flavors?

Color: chestnut, oloroso sherry
Body: medium to watery
Nose: Oloroso sherry, honey and vanilla (from the double casks!)
Palate: prickly, cinnamon and spice with sherry and a little taste of the honey
Finish: long and some flavors from the honey (oak) and the vanilla (sherry), has a little bite to it though

This is a spicy and sweet doublewood but it is a little rough on the edges. The flavors just seem to rush from one to the other, but without ruining the experience. You can defiantly tell there are two very different casks involved here, and it makes for a fun drinking experience. This is a great little change from my normal sherry cask preference. It is a tad spicier but still keeps some of the balance. I give this interesting sweet/spicy dram a 7 of 10.

Questions for you! What is your favorite doublewood Scotch?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Cigar Review: Montecristo Cabinet Seleccion

There is truly something special about fall. The cool breezes, changing of the leaves, start of football season (close call this year!), and of course the pumpkin beer! 

I was watching some football I decided to pull out a Montecristo Cabinet Selection and a Sam Adams Pumpkin Ale. I don't think there is a better way to spend a fall day than this, you must try it.
The Montecristo was very pleasant. It was perfectly constructed and burned fine. It had a great nutty taste and finished smooth. It was creamy and had some spice on the palate. I am not sure if I would have liked to see a little more spice in this cigar, but it was still really good without it. I would describe this cigar's taste as toasted almonds. It did go nice with a pumpkin beer!
The Sam Adams was a deep reddish amber beer with a hint of spice and real pumpkin. It was good with a nice smooth Montecristo. Not my favorite Sam Adams but definitely my favorite pumpkin ale. The pumpkin played nice with the smooth rich cigar.
Back to the cigar, it really changed as it burned down. It became progressively spicier and intense as it burned down. It was just a good cigar, not my favorite but worth buying. The finish was my favorite part. It was clean and balanced, not ashy or too spicy. Well I would give this cigar a sturdy 7 of 10 but with a good pumpkin ale, an 8!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Cigar Essentials: The Cutter

I am starting a new series on "The Essentials". I am referring to the tools of the trade for proper cigar and whisky consumption! I have several different items to talk about but today is going to be the cigar cutter. We have all had that cutter that you thought was good, but kept noticing that your cigars were dry because every time you cut it, the head unraveled. More than likely, it was your cutter. If the blade isn't sharp or the cut not quick enough, it rips the cigar instead of cutting it. Thus making the wrapper damaged and it comes unraveled or cracks. I dont know anyone who likes to smoke a cigar with the wrapper falling off in your miouth! This makes a a good cutter a must for any cigar enthuasits.

So what should one look for in a cutter? Basically, it needs to be super sharp and easy to close/punch. It should slide through the cigar, not rip it open! Well there are many brands of cutters and different styles too. There are guillotine cutters, bullet cutters, and scissor-like cutters. You need to see what you like, but I am here to tell you what I know. I use a Xikar cutter like the one shown. It is super sharp and gets the job done! It closes and locks as well to avoid any messy accidents. I have heard nothing but good things about Xikar cutters. They also make different styles of cutters too. They have a cigar multi tool and bullet cutter. Xikar features some pretty cool looking cutters, they have different body's and colors to choose from. The cutter makes smoking a great cigar that much easier and eliminates that cracked head on the cigar. I would invest in a quality cutter and with the Xikars, they look great too!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Scotch Review: Dalwhinnie 15

Age brings wisdom right?! My dad raves about Dalwhinnie and every time I let him taste my collection, he tells me of this whisky. I also recently signed up for the Classic Malts newsletter and they feature Dalwhinnie also. So with all this hype, it has to be good right?

Color: it resembles a light beer, a very soft golden color
Body: it is lite and watery
Nose: a smoky vanilla pear, it smelled like a toasted vanilla wafer
Palate: is slightly smoky, vanilla with lots of sweetness on the tongue. I would say it had a noticeable fruit/berry taste but very caramel like with the vanilla. Most people taste vanilla in Scotch, but this was very noticeable. Very pleasant and sweet
Balance: Very short finish but great and easy on the nose and mouth.

Compared to my other Scotches, Dalwhinnie is definitely the sweetest, but delightful! I love my Scotch to be a little sweet and vanilla-y so this one gets my approval. I thought it was kind of interesting; it was watery for a 15 year though. I really enjoyed it and it was so smooth, no bite what so ever. When someone says they hate Scotch I usually give them a Dalwhinnie to see if they change their mind, and they usually do! Good one dad, great drink! I give this sweet whisky an 7.5 of 10.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Whiskey Review: Russell's Reserve Rye

I fell prey to product placement. I was watching the excellent series Mad Men on AMC and the lead character drinks a lot of Rye whiskey (almost every scene!). I was curious to see what is so special about Rye whiskies. They may have just picked Rye as this character's drink to show how unique he is, but hey its worth a shot right?! So I picked up a Russell's Reserve Rye Small Batch 6 Year Whiskey and I am so glad I did.

Color: tawny gold
Nose: honey sweet, almonds, rye 
Body: medium and mouth watering
Palate: honey and sweet bread, smoked rye, allspice
Finish: long sharp and bitey, warm and full of a nice smoked taste

This was excellent! It was very similar to a sweet bourbon but the unique tastes of the rye really made a statement. The rye added a nutty taste and a whole new level of complexity. That is hard to find in some bourbons. It was surprisingly smooth, especially for a 90 proof whiskey. I am not saying it didn't bite. It definitely had a sharp alcohol bite, but it was handled nicely and wasn't as bad as one would expect. I was thoroughly impressed. As a matter of fact this is my favorite bourbon so far Good thing I am a sucker for marketing. Overall I give this whiskey a strong 7 of 10. I will always keep this in my whiskey cabinet and you should too!

Question for YOU: What is your Rye of choice? 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Whiskey Essentials: Madison Ave Whiskey Glasses (From Mad Men)

For all you Mad Men fans, these are a must have! These whiskey glasses were created just because of the AMC hit series about advertising men in the 1960's. The main character, Don Drapper, is an advertising executive and a big fan of his rye whiskey. Now you can sit back and watch the enthralling series with a glass of great whiskey in your authentic Madison Ave Whiskey Glasses.

After watching the show and receiving my set, they are identical and it is really cool to see Don drinking from the very glass you hold in your hand! Even for all you non-Mad Men fans, these glasses are great. They are thick and have a good weight to them. The silver band around the top really makes them pop. They are perfect for an Old Fashioned where you need to swirl the simple syrup around the glass as you build the drink. So there you have it! You may not be a millionaire advertising ladie's man of the 1960's but you can drink like one....

Question for YOU: What is your favorite glass for whisky? Share a link to the site too!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cigar Review: Graycliff Crystal Edicion Limitada 2010

Special edition, for a special cigar! This cigar is part of the 2010 limited release from Graycliff. That makes me sad really, I like the limited editions so much I hope they make it a standard offering.

Now to the cigar! The cigar is wrapped in an oily Habano Oscuro leaf and uses bold Cameroon binders. The long fillers are smooth Nicaraguan and Honduran leaves. This mix of tobacco really creates a great smoking experience and one that will surely impress!

Upon Lighting you notice its sweet heavy smoke, as it lingers you get a soft leathery smell. The cigar was sweet and mellow with lots of coffee and graham cracker nuances. It was a little light but very smooth. It is smoother than its red label edicion limitada brother . I actually liked this cigar a little better. The taste was very different and if I had to choose between the two limited editions, I would pick this cigar. I just had a nicer smoking experience with it. It was not perfect though. It did suffer a few burn problems, but it was just minor unevenness. The finish was just like the rest of the cigar, sweet and smooth. It had a little pepper on the palate but nothing too noticeable. This was a cigar I couldn't put down. Burnt my fingers a little….worth it though!

Overall I give this elegant and creamy Graycliff creation a solid 9 of 10. Definitely pick one of these up! Or like 20…

Questions for YOU: Have you tried any limited editions cigars this year?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cigar Review: Bahia Blue

Good flavor, even better price!

I wanted to try the Bahia line because of several reviews I have read, and because of a sale that a retailer was running. It was a great deal on a stick that is normally only $2.90 to begin with. I like my more premium smokes but the price on this cigar was too good to pass up! That is why a stick like this is a must have in the humidor. If you have buddies over  and they want a cigar, you don't usually want to give them your best smokes. Especially when they don't smoke a lot of cigars, they wouldn't appreciate the fine nuances in a premium cigar. But this little guy is perfect for that. It is smooth and still has a great taste without the big price tag. 

Bahia cigars were started in the 1990's and have claimed their space in the cigar industry as a value cigar. Great taste at a great price. It is a crowded place in the cigar world but Bahia has done a nice job. This particular cigar is a Nicaraguan made of 6-year-old fillers from Esteli, Jalapa, and Leon. The Bahia Blu is wrapped in a Corojo leaf that is around 3 years old. After rolling, these cigars are then aged in Spanish cedar for at least 180 days in Spanish cedar. 

Upon lighting this medium cigar had a VERY feint taste of pepper with a sweet cedar nuance that left a very pleasant finish. It burnt really well and didn't have any lighting problems either. All in all, a really enjoyable smoke. The extra care given to a cheaper stick is what gives them a better taste than other value brands. I may not be buying too many more of these, but if you find some at your local shop, pick up a few for guests! I give this stick a 6.5 of 10. 

Questions for YOU: What is your favorite value cigar?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cigar Review: Graycliff Platinum Edicion Limitada 2010

I am such a sucker. I have fallen in love with Graycliff cigars and I cannot get out of their hypnotic trance. I told myself my next review would be a Ghurka (I want to smoke their whole lineup in a year), but that obviously didn't happen. It all started when I ordered an amazing package from It was a 10 count portable humidor with humidifier and 10 Graycliffs. Not just any Graycliffs though, 2 double espressos, and 8 red and black label 2010 Limited Edition Graycliff cigars. This particular review is for the Red Label Limited Edition cigar. Another great cigar and because of the amazing deal I received, it made this cigar that much sweeter!

This cigar is tucked into a gorgeous Brazilian Habano wrapper and was free of any defects. This cigar is filled with Cuban seed long leaves straight out of Nicaragua. It had an average draw and I had no burn problems the whole time. Upon lighting, you didn't really get anything too noticeable. It had a nice mellow smell with a little sweet wiff. The first half of the cigar tasted very similar. It was very sweet and smooth, with a few complex flavors that I couldn't quite put my thumb on. Maybe a hint of cocoa!? It did have a little spice at the end and it made the smoke awesome. It was really good and I enjoyed every inch of that cigar. I actually expected it to be a little stronger but it’s medium strength was actually kind of refreshing. It made the whole smoking experience relaxing and perfect after a big lunch. A nice medium cigar after lunch is a the best way to round off the day!

If you manage to find some of the Graycliff limited edition cigars, buy them. Buy lots of them. This is a cigar you have to try and if you miss smoking this cigar well, your life just won’t be the same. Ok, that might be a stretch but these are some great cigars. So my next cigar review might be those Ghurkas I promised myself ….or it might be another Graycliff. I am such a sucker... This little gem was rated a 9 of 10.

Questions for YOU: Have you had this limited edition cigar and where did you buy yours?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Night with THE Macallan

A night of FREE Scotch and good company, I can’t think of anything better (seriously).

The Macallan is doing a marketing campaign at local venues all over the country. They allow you to sign up and invite guests to a one night Scotch tasting event. I was lucky enough to grab a seat at the Cleveland, Ohio event. The whole night cost me nothing and I was able to taste most of Macallan’s expressions. They served snacks as we milled around waiting for our seats. It was a nice little crab ball appetizer. As we got in line for the event they served us our first glass of Macallan 10yr Fine Oak. I have a bottle of this at home but I still like the sharp, young whisky.

Upon seating they started the event and the ambassador covered what makes the Scotch so unique. Our ambassador was a decent host but if you really listened to what he had to say, he was very entertaining. We were then served another 10 yr Fine Oak, 12 yr Sherry, 15 yr Fine Oak, THE 18yr Sherry cask, and the 10yr Cask Strength. WOW. I consider my Macallan 12yr Sherry my go to whisky, but the 18yr was absolutely amazing. I wish I never tasted it to be honest! Ignorance is bliss and now after tasting the 18, I just don't know if I can go back to the 12. I am just not ready to fork over the extra 70 dollars for the 18yr. A 12yr Sherry is around $50 while the 18yr is over $100. Bummer. The night carried on and we had the opportunity to talk the ambassador afterward. He was very friendly and super personable! I loved listening to him talk about his whisky adventures. He has the greatest job in the world… I am a tad jealous. The group I went with hung around and smoked a cigar in the parking lot as our blood alcohol level dropped a little, we had over 5 glasses of Scotch remember. My buddies and I just loved this event and I love Macallan for doing something so cool. Thanks guys, you will always be my favorite whisky. Well I am now off to sell some stuff on Ebay so I can afford an 18yr bottle of happiness!

Question for YOU: Has anyone else been to these events yet? If so, how did your night compare?!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cigar Essentials: Dr. RH Cigar Care

Struggling with keeping those humidors just the right humidity? Is the winter and colder temperatures wrecking havoc on their consistency? Well guess what?! I have just what the Doctor ordered. They are called Dr RH Cigar Care products.

I was getting really frustrated with my current humidifiers and the consistency they delivered. I live in Ohio and we try not to over-use the furnace to keep the bills low. So that means colder temperatures in the home. This in turn affects my precious little leafy friends (my cigars). I was reading my latest Cigar Aficionado and they had an ad for ultra-grade cigar care. I was sold and immediately went online to do some research. I learned they use a standard jelly humidifier but their solution is ultra pure and medical grade. Would that translate to better humidification? Maybe. But I was willing to try after I was literally tending to my old humidifiers weekly. So I ordered the Dr RH Cigar Care products; two humidifiers and the Cigar Care solution. I immediately noticed a jump in humidity (a good thing, I was running too low). They have also been very easy to maintain and they offer much better consistency as far as highs and lows in the humidity. I am impressed and I know that I will be getting more of their products. Plus, they are not that much more expensive than similar humidification products. I will keep you all updated as to their long term performance, but overall I would highly recommend.

Question for YOU: How do you humidify your humidor?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Whisky Review: Talisker 10 Year

Drink and be merry! One of the best parts of the holiday season is all the great food and drink that is provided during parties and family outings. My family knows that I love Scotch so they did their research and got me this delicious bottle from the island of Skye. The Talisker 10 year Old was one of my better gifts for sure! So after pouring the family a few glasses this is what we decided on for the tasting notes:

Color: old gold or yellow gold
Nose: smoky citrus, and salty feints
Body: full and thick, warming and mouthwatering
Palate:  dried fruit is present then engulfed in a salty peaty taste, a little spice at the end?
Finish: long and sweet then fades to smoky peat

WOW. This whisky rocks. It is a great blend of flavors and a really fun tasting experience. It was smoky like an Isle malt but had all the sweetness of a traditional Speyside like a Macallan. It is similar to Ardbeg in its smoky sweet characteristics but the Talisker is a notch ahead on the sweet flavors and much smoother.The sweet taste of fruit and the peaty smoke was a refreshing change of pace for me. I have been on a long bender of sweet Scotches and this was just what I needed to break out!  I saw that Jim Murray gave this tasty dram a 94 and I definitely agree. I gave this great Scotch an excellent 9.5 of 10.

Question for YOU: What is your favorite 10 year Scotch?