Cigar Fashion Blog

Mon

12

Jun

2017

15th Wedding Anniversary Celebration

http://www.sohocigarbar.com/
Bille BLVD at the Soho Cigar Bar NYC

By BillieBLVD

 

I recently celebrated my 15th Anniversary with by beautiful wife in downtown Manhattan (our old stomping grounds).  We ate at a few restaurants in between drinks, bar hopped in between meals, and ended up at Soho Cigar Bar on Watt St (formerly known as Circa Tabac).  We had an incredible time alone with each other reflecting on the past, planning for the future, and joking about how some men have really gone to far with the tight pants craze. 

 

While all of the festivities played out, various cocktails were sipped, and new things experienced but somehow I could not stop thinking about my grandfather.  In constant loop I remembered walking him to the casket of my beloved grandmother to say goodbye to his wife of over 60 years. He touched her chest, kissed her forehead, and wept in silence. The only time I ever experienced him showing vulnerability. I often use that memory to fully respect the sanctity of marriage; to appreciate it for its absolute value. 

 

I held back on bringing up such sad memories while celebrating our milestone but with every puff of the cigar I could see the pain of my grandfather's face. With ever sip of Scotch I saw my grandmother's lifeless shell being embraced intimately by the man she had built a life with (seven children 12 grandchildren).  Soon after my grandfather would also yield to the sands of time.

 

I thought about the moment when I would be in the same position or vice versa.  Its like the Padron my wife and I shared that wonderful day. Like our lives we experienced it together but sooner or later it will have to be put out but in the end we'd know we had a dam good time.  

 

Billie B

0 Comments

Tue

06

Jun

2017

My Apology to London

Cigar Fashion www.leaf-and-barrel.com
BillieBLVD in London with the Shard building in the background

By BillieBLVD 

 

Everyday I walk past the World Trade Center on the way to my desk on Wall Street.  Its a constant reminder of what this city went through during that troubled time. 

 

Recently terrorism has visited London in less magnitude but more frequency than 9/11 but one loss of human life is too much. During the World Trade Center attack The UK, our longtime ally and cultural twin, stood steadfast and resolute beside us to rebuild and respond.  

 

In the mode of a leader the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, increased the presence of police and in a attempt to bring calm to those that notice the "men with guns and helmets" he told the citizens of London there is no reason to alarmed.

 

Our President Trump attacked the mayor of London in a juvenile attempt to prop up his travel ban.  Trump made it seem as if Mayer Khan was saying there was no need to be alarmed of terrorism calling his statement a pathetic excuse.  

 

I want to apologize to the world for this embarrassment of a President.  

 

We stand with Europe, we stand with those that have been oppressed by terrorism in the Middle East and Africa.  We stand against those that want to darken the world with lies and propaganda.  

 

We will correct this mess of an administration and upon doing so we will better understand that sitting on your ass and not voting is not a viable option.  We will understand that while corporations have a hand in the Democratic and Republican cookie jar that there are still fundamental differences between the mindsets of both parties.  

 

Until we rise and purge these knuckle draggers from the levers of power I sincerely apologize. 

0 Comments

Mon

05

Jun

2017

Food for Cigar Pairing

Glenfiddich whisky cake purchases in London
Glenfiddich whisky cake purchases in London

By BillieBLVD

 

Take your cigar pairing to the next level with food cooked using the same spirit that you plan to pair with a cigar.

 

Recently I paired a Dunhill Heritage with a 12 year old bottle of Glenfiddich single malt Scotch but I did not just leave it to the malt and the cigar.  I decided to add and another variable to the equation with a slice of whisky cake.  

 

After a good meal the cake balanced my palate.  The layers of fruit, nuts, molasses, and the whisky took over every nick and cranny of my mouth which set the stage for a nice two finger deep shot of whisky and the dark notes of the cigar sealed the deal.

 

The same concept can be applied to red wine sauces, bourbon recipes, and just about any spirit you could pair with a cigar.   Its fun to plan, fun to do, and it allows the cigar snob in you to look down upon the pedestrians.  And lets be honest, that's all that really matters. 

 

 

Billie B

0 Comments

Fri

02

Jun

2017

Aficionado vs. Connoisseur

Wearing a Smoke and Ash cigar shirt
A Cigar Aficionado vs A Cigar Connoisseur

By BillieBLVD

 

 

In an infamous cigar rant I posed about two years ago I fearlessly challenged those within my orbit of influence to answer a simple question

 

"Do cigar aficionados smoke flavored cigars" 

 

I had no idea of the bee's nest I rattled.  The responses ranged from you are an old school snob to indeed Sir no true aficionado would ever smoke a flavored cigar.   Suffice it to say that most of my tribe agreed with my addict that you should smoke what you like and be free of any criticism; however, you are most certainly not an aficionado.  But I was syntactically wrong.  

 

I did not truly delve into the meaning of the word.  An aficionado is someone that is passionate (that's it).  Passion does not require a strict adherence to tradition or a respect of natural processes.  Passion like beauty is in the eyes of the beholder but a connoisseur is something very different.  A connoisseur is an expert judge in matters of taste.  

 

There is a difference between having passion (aficionado) and being an expert judge (connoisseur).  The former can be sparked in one session of smoking a cigar while the latter is only formed with experience and knowledge.  Lets argue!

 

Billie B

0 Comments

Tue

30

May

2017

Harlem Whiskey Festival

https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1497181?utm_medium=VK%27s
Harlem Whiskey Festival July 11th and 12th 2017

By BillieBLVD 

 

There are times when I want to be around the flyest people. There are times when I want a premium cigar and  a premium whiskey. And then there are times when I want to be in the center of the Black Renaissance. All of these aforementioned desires converge during the Harlem Whiskey Festival at The Cecil 210 W 118th St New York, NY on July 11th and 12th. I will be there with cigar in hand, cigar shirt on, whiskey glass near, and enough wit to charm the devil. What about you? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0 Comments

Wed

24

May

2017

Its More Than Just A Cigar

Superb cigar defined by elegant fullness
Cuban Stock Extra

By BillieBLVD

 

For me a cigar more than just some tubular shaped bundle of tobacco. A cigar is more like a silent friend, an unconditional partner asking no questions or favors, never begging for money, and never requiring me to lie. Cigars are a means of relaxation; a vessel transporting me to a better place of tranquility and peace.

 

Cigars abridge friendships, facilitate new acquaintances, and experiencing new places. It's a tool to assist in gathering my thoughts, contemplating the future, and reflecting on the day. For many brothers/sisters of the leaf the smoking experience is considered to be the art of relaxation experienced in many forms. One of those forms is a poker game, watching a sporting event, or possibly reading this very post. A cigar does not require that you celebrate its quality, taste, and flavor in any specific way.  It only asks to be appreciated, to be respected, to be smoked by a worthy gentleman or lady.

 

Cigars for me are a way to slow down the world; a sort of buffer allowing the brain to slow down its sensory perception. Provided that it is smoked in the proper environment cigars are like a silent room where the only thing that requires any focus is where is my lighter, where is my cutter, and where is the ashtray.

 

And where is my glass of wine, rum, brandy, single malt, or bourbon.

 

Billie B

0 Comments

Tue

23

May

2017

Cigars & Dogs

My American Bully and French Bulldog
Turbo and Motor

By BillieBLVD

 

I love smoking a cigar with my friends and I certainly love to smoke a cigar with my wife and family, but there is a special place in my heart for smoking a cigar with man's best friend. They don't care that I am smoking a cigar as long as they are outside running around and playing and within my sight.  I adore them. They protect the house and family when I am not there and act as if I am returning from war when I come home from work.

 

With a cigar in hand we take command of our urban quarter of an acre.  They calmly sit at my feet but bark at the passersbys with the fury of dragons.   People see a blond pit bull (Buddy), a short but stout black and white French Bulldog (Motor), and a Black and White American Bully (Turbo) and react as if they are going to be eaten alive. But its all a facade. They are just showing daddy that they are on the job and that I can smoke my cigar in peace.  This is our special time together and while their stay on this Earth is shorter than mine I will remember these special moments with them forever. 

 

 

Billie B

0 Comments

Thu

11

May

2017

Lets Smoke A Cuban Cigar

0 Comments

Mon

08

May

2017

Why Brandy Is The Best Cigar Pairing Partner

Cigar Fashion www.leaf-and-barrel.com
Brandy In The Form of Cognac and Armagnac

By BillieBLVD 

 

For years I believed that the best pairing partner for a cigar was red wine (one of my favorite master blenders, Pete Johnson, would agree).  While I do waver and return to this perspective very often I have a tendency to come to my senses and opt for the best cigar pairing partner, brandy.  Brandy has beat out all of its competitors in my stash of hooch, and please remember that I am the biggest admirer of whisky (including whiskey) and rum that you can meet.  However, brandy has the qualities of whisky with its oak barrel wood notes, complex layers of flavor, and sweetness (to  name a few); but I have also found that it marries what I love about red wine and whisky.  

 

The brandy I prefer is from Cognac and Armagnac so yes I am in the tank when it comes to brandy from France, but it’s the love of the grape and the love of the barrel that make Brandy very different from other spirits.  One cannot deny that red wine perfectly compliments a cigar with its bitter edge, fruit notes, and complexity but its lacks the power that we love from whiskey.  When it comes to whisky we often get the power and complexity that we love but often the cigar’s flavors get erased with every sip.  Let me be clear here.  I mostly enjoy a full bodied spirit, the likes of Kentucky and Islay, but when you are specifically talking about a cigar pairing other variables become part of the equation.  Rum has a tendency to be too sweet but its that very sweetness that makes it a great pairing partner.  Nonetheless, rum has also been outclassed by brandy because it has no such weaknesses.

 

Brandy is the result of the grape and the barrel.  Its takes the best of what we love about wine and whisky and offers a package that bonds well with cigar flavor (especially when it comes to sweetness), compliments the wood, coffee, and leathery notes from a cigar, and does not erase the palate with every sip.  I know that many reader will disagree with me but that is simply because I am one step ahead of you (just one). 

 

 

 

 

0 Comments

Fri

28

Apr

2017

The Cost of Being A Cigar Lover

By BillieBLVD

 

Recently Cigar Aficionado published an article that obliterated the notion that teenagers are smoking cigars in larger numbers to the point that legislation is needed to protect them.  Most of us already knew it was bullshit but when I come across arguments that the youth are increasingly smoking more handmade premium cigars it upsets me deeply. Why?  Because we know that it’s a ploy to get to the bigger play which is to regulate the entire premium handmade cigar industry.  

 

One of the primary reasons why the FDA put handmade cigars on its radar was due to the fictitious spike in teenagers smoking cigars. A shallow and poorly performed analysis was used to justify the legislation by basically stating that any tubular shaped bundle of tobacco was considered a premium cigar (i.e. machine made Philly blunts, machine made flavored cigars, and cheap cigarillos). If kids go to a gas station for a Philly to roll a blunt it was considered a cigar purchase. Another example is a teenager purchasing a $2 machine made flavored cigar from a highway gas station or bodega. In both of these instances the teenager is not engaged in the act of smoking a premium handmade cigar. But never mind that!

 

I have a different argument that requires no million dollar report from a team of surveyors and ivy league consultants. It simply asks, what is the cost of being a cigar lover?  It is well outside of the financial wherewithal of most teenagers and young adults so let's add it up.

 

The cost of a premium handmade cigar can range from anywhere to 10 - $50 on average, yes that is a huge range so let's stick with say 12 bucks. The cost of a cigar cutter can range from anywhere between 20 to $200 but let's go with 30 bucks for a cutter (I have paid over a hundred and I have 4 of them).  The cost of a cigar lighter can range from anywhere between 20 to $600 so lets go with very conservative 50 bucks for a decent lighter. The cost of a humidor can range from anywhere from 100 to $5,000 but for the sake of argument let's go with 200 bucks for a humidor. Most humidors are filled with anywhere from 100 to 1000 cigars at 12 bucks per cigar we are talking about 1200 to 12000 dollars worth of cigars but for the sake of argument let's stick with the minimum $1200 (the price lowers when boxes are purchased). In addition, the humidor has to be maintained which is not an expensive activity but it is a very meticulous thing to do especially when you're considering the capricious lives of teenagers. The cigars have to be handled in a very careful manner; they have to be humidified between 67 and 72% humidity; and they have to be maintained at a steady temperature between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, a teenager would have to have the vigilance to allow the cigars to age thereby ruining the instant gratification of spending $10 and expecting to smoke a cigar.  Full stop, a $1500 investment is out of the reach of a typical teenager. Furthermore, many cigar smokers visit cigar lounges frequently and purchase a locker/membership and additional cigars. Case and point, when you add up the cost of cigars, lighters, cutters, humidors, and the actual time that it takes to preserve those cigars you in the upwards of thousands of dollars. Teenagers and young adults simply are not going to allocate thousands of dollars towards what is considered by many to be an acquired taste.

 

Stop with this foolishness!

 

0 Comments

Tue

18

Apr

2017

Cigar Smoker's Rights Hub

Brought to you by Famous Smokes
Cigar Smoker's Rights Hub

By BillieBLVD

 

Cigars smokers are an easy crowd to pick on. We are low in numbers, the least vocal, and most of us are just too damn busy.  The whole reason that we smoke cigars is to relax, reflect, and sip a premium single malt with other like minded people.  To make matters worse our hobby has been co-opted by visions of mobsters, corporate imagery, and the opulence of the super rich.  So when you add up our vulnerabilities and liabilities the only thing left is our awareness.  The more of us that are aware of the threats to our culture the more we can rally behind those that are fighting in our favor.  Furthermore, awareness facilitates our ability act locally, evangelize our cause in everyday conversations, and contribute to individuals and/or groups on our side.  We can no longer wait idly while government forces plot against us unjustly.  


To that end, I am glad to present the Cigar Smoker’s Rights Hub.  Consider this a one stop shop for all things related to legislation that threatens cigar culture in America.  Famous Smoke has done all the heavy lifting to amass the legal data and news in one central repository but it's up to all of us to put our shoulder to the wheel of progress.  

 

Visit this URL to stay abreast of all things related to the FDA and its crusade against cigar culture 

http://fda.famous-smoke.com/

 

From the press release

 

EASTON, PA--(Marketwired - March 30, 2017) - Famous Smoke Shop, the leading online distributor of discounted premium cigars, has debuted their new interactive Cigar Smokers' Rights Hub. Crafted in response to the US Food & Drug Administration's 2016 Final Deeming Rule regarding premium cigars and other tobacco products, the Famous Smoke guide presents cigar enthusiasts with a history of legal actions affecting the tobacco industry. The Smokers' Rights Hub also offers cigar smokers a detailed understanding of how FDA's new regulations will negatively impact the premium cigar industry, and the legal challenges that have been mounted against the agency's sweeping new rules.

 

"The rights of adult cigar enthusiasts to purchase and enjoy a completely legal product are quickly going up in flames." Arthur Zaretsky is the president and owner of Famous Smoke Shop, who has launched a Cigar Smokers' Rights Hub -- a website devoted to educating consumers about the Food & Drug Administration's Final Deeming Rule concerning premium cigars. FDA released 499 pages of new and strict cigar regulations in August of 2016, filled with measures, rulings, definitions and fees that "completely overstepped the authority FDA was given by Congress to regulate tobacco," says Zaretsky. His company's goal is to inform customers -- and cigar enthusiasts at large -- about how these rules are shortchanging consumers, unfair to business and in violation of US law. "The agency is going at this regulation, and the costs associated with compliance, blindly. FDA has failed to perform an adequate, legitimate cost-benefit analysis of the Final Rule's economic impact on small businesses, as is required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act," says Zaretsky, who adds, "the FDA is defying the law."

 

Read the rest here

 

0 Comments

Fri

14

Apr

2017

You Don't Know Sh*t About Cigars

The perfect face and hand movement of an asshole smoking a cigar
Imagine George informing a fellow smoker on why Cubans are better than non-Cubans

By BillieBLVD

 

I could hear him outside of the walk-in humidor lecturing a patron on what a wrapper, binder, and filler is but he did it in a condescending manner.  He was a 30 something working the register of the cigar lounge so one can guess that these types of conversations are par for the course but something did not sound right. He was too eager.  His delivery was too smug. The customer responded saying that he already knew what a filler, binder, and wrapper is; however, he was trying to ascertain the specific origins of the cigar’s components.  "Oh, I see" our would-be expert replied in a dumbfounded fashion.  Just when thought he saw a void he could fill his wings were clipped.  Old folks always said that a little knowledge was dangerous and I could tell that he had shot his load.  I could hear me inner voice whispering “you don’t know shit about cigars”.  

 

I could care less if your Cuban cigar is fake, if you cut off too much when cutting your cigar, or if you burned the foot while lighting it. I could care less how you pronounce Ligero or if you know what first priming is. I do care if you smoke a flavored cigar  (just a little cringe) but not enough to say anything about it or treat you differently.  I don’t care because in the grand scheme of things it's meaningless.  Furthermore, I would rather use matches or a cedar spill to light a cigar instead of an expensive lighter (all of which happen to be shitty after they have been dropped a few times).  The only thing that matters is that you enjoy whatever you are smoking because life is finite but if you are caught up in such things I can conclude that you don’t know shit about cigars.  

 

There is a big difference between being knowledgeable and being a know-it-ll.  Firstly, a know-it-all is usually an asshole that unjustifiably speaks out against or for something and hurls opinions at people that don’t give a shit.  Secondly, know-it-alls rarely know much. Know-it-alls tend to have a surface level of knowledge but are way too invested in expressing themselves as if the little they have learned has earned them the duty of teaching us lowly peasants.  Lastly, some know-it-alls actually do have a wealth of information and experience but are closed to new ideas and are easily aggravated when others disagree.  

 

Just enjoy your cigar and remember that I know you don’t know shit about cigars and neither do I.

2 Comments

Thu

30

Mar

2017

Davidoff London

I always heard of the world famous Davidoff Cigar Shop in London.  It was a place that I needed to check-off-the-box and add a notch to my belt as a cigar connoisseur. The shop is untouched by time from its debut in the sixties.  Before I got there I took the liberty of stopping at a cafe across the street for a danish and a coffee as it was early in the day and I wanted something on my stomach. Slowly walking in, I took my time to take it all in.  The marble floor, the beautiful humidors, an incredible selection of umbrellas, the top choice lighters, rose gold cutters, but I was amazed at the austere design of the humidor.  It was nothing like what I expected.  It was unpretentious and amazingly regular but the cigars were pristine with a selection of Cubans that I had never seen. Much to my amazement I saw a few Non-Cubans and I remember one of the employees telling me that the Americans usually buy them (Padron Family Reserve Maduro).

 

I settled on a few sticks and struck up a conversation with a rather young gentleman (early twenties) that was sharply dressed and extremely helpful.  He was on the cusp of taking the Masters of Habanos test and you could tell that he was a bit intimidated.  I could not believe that such a young chap was about to take such big step.  I decided on a Montecristo and took a seat with my coffee.  I lit the cigar and thought to myself dam.  Here I am in London at the Davidoff shop about to smoke a Cuban and then the rug was snatched from under me.  One of the employees informed me that this is not a smoking shop!

 

I was taken aback.  "What do you mean this is not a smoking shop" I asked.  He replied "this is a sampling shop were you can smoke for about 20 minutes but that's it".  With the wind taken out of my sail I obliged with only a gesture (I did not fly here from NY not to be the ugly American).

 

 I lit my cigar and smoked it to the nub staring at the nice gentlemen with a smirk that said "I will leave when I dam well please".  Don't worry I was nice about it.  

0 Comments

Tue

28

Mar

2017

Shut Up And Smoke

Shut up and smoke
Shut up and smoke

By BillieBLVD 

 

 

While in London I met a Master of Habanos, a designation earned from a grueling written and oral test on all facets of cigar and tobacco production, who profoundly impressed me with his knowledge of all things related to cigars.  I have met self-educated connoisseurs that can breakdown the components of a cigar and articulate the nuance of the flavor profiles by region.  I have engaged in conversation with master blenders that have shared their knowledge of how cigars are made for power, taste, balance. and complexity.  All of these interactions elevated my awareness of the effort that goes into cigar production and the majesty of the cigar smoking experience; however, not all of my experiences with fellow cigar lovers has been pleasant.  In fact, sometimes its a major drag (pun intended).  

 

Out of kindness and respect for cigar lounge decorum I have endured stupidity on unprecedented levels.   For example, I spoke with a gentleman that recommended submerging a new humidor in water for 6 hours before using it to store cigars. I told him that doing so would warp the wood resulting in a humidor that does not close properly and allow too much air in the humidor and dry out the cigars.  He responded stating that no humidor is airtight.  I agreed.  But I interjected that some air is needed but humidity must be maintained at a constant between 68 and 72 degrees which is impossible if there is too much air.

 

Furthermore, I met another brother of the leaf that argued the merits of the flat-Earth school of thought (how could one hold such views in 2017).  I immediately responded by stating that there are pictures of our very round Earth taken from the moon.  He insisted that scientists faked pictures of Earth from outer space and even suggested that his recent vacation on a cruise ship provided proof due to the flatness of the horizon. It does not stop there.  I have met climate change deniers, conspiracy theorists, ghost chasers, and religious fundamentalists of the doctrinaire type. Fortunately, the company and conversation of one enlightened cigar smoker more than compensates for 100 bumbling idiots.  But for now I only ask every smoker with the charm of a doorknob to shut up and smoke. 

 

 

BillieBLVD for www.leaf-and-barrel.com 

 

 

0 Comments

Fri

24

Mar

2017

Are You A Serious Cigar Smoker?

For the serious smoker only
Smoke And Ash Cigar Shirt Pockets

By BillieBLVD 

 

Can you be a serious cigar smoker if you don't have a humidor (exceptions will be made for those that cannot yet afford one)? Furthermore what about a lighter or cutter? In other words, if you are serious about cigars you are also serious about tools and accessories.  Your humidor must be maintained at the right temperature and humidity. You lighter must use a high quality butane to prevent bad taste and light the cigar properly.  The cutter must be sharp or the head of the cigar could be ruined and diminish the draw.  The accessories of a cigar smoker reflect our passion for the leaf and now the same applies to fashion.  

 

If you are a serious cigar smoker you need a Leaf&Barrel cigar shirt. Are you still carrying your cigars in a zip lock bag, two finger, or herf?  Are you also carrying a wallet, car keys, mobile phone, bill fold, lighter, and cutter?  That's a bit much. 

 

You can do better!

 

Where there is passion there is fashion and the most passionate people that I know are cigar smokers. Much like sport enthusiasts that don the clothing of their favorite teams and bikers that wear biker gear while riding, cigar smokers now have fashion made to enhance the cigar smoking experience.  

 

Leave the zip lock bag at home, walk into the lounge wearing your Leaf&Barrel cigar shirt, select one of the cigars and enjoy.  The pockets are designed with individual slots that prevent the cigars from rubbing against each other.  Their also made with fabric that does not breath which will keep your cigars fresh and there's a front pocket to hold your cedar spills.  

 

This is a shirt made for smoking!

 

**All Leaf&Barrel shirts made in America from Japanese woven cotton.  

 

BillieBLVD for www.leaf-and-barrel.com 

 

 

0 Comments

Mon

20

Mar

2017

Why We Love Cigars

BillieBLVD Smoking A Partagas Serie D in Tokyo
BillieBLVD Smoking A Partagas Serie D in Tokyo

By BillieBLVD 

 

So I took the democratic (small D) route and decided to open up a Facebook discussion on we we love cigars.  I stated clearly that I would also post the responses that I thought were the the best (all below).  I will limit the posts to 25 but before that I want to lay out why I love cigars.

 

Firstly, there is no one single reason thus it's more like a confluence of reasons, here are a few. I like cigars because of all the effort that goes into the production process.  Its extremely extensive while I could rattle off an array of integral processes I will leave it to you to investigate.  Secondly, I love the flavors and the complexity of cigars.  An elite cigar will always taste good, it will also have to burn and draw well but the real designation of an elite cigar will come from its complexity.  Complexity, which is defined by subtle flavor profile changes from the first to the last third, completely transform the experience.  Lastly, I love cigars because of how they relax me.  I call it smoking the moment. Without further ado here 25 comments I thought were pretty dam good.

John Dodge For the peace the prosperity and the genuine relaxation that they bring to my life

 

Sean Taugher I love the fact that a lawyer, and a gas station attendant can smoke together and find common ground.

 

Cowboy-michael Mayer Smoking a cigar takes me away from everyday life and cigar smoking brings people together I just love cigars

 

David Harper A stick forces relaxation, reflection and at the same time is both visual art and art for the palate.

 

Don Diego The unexplainable bond that draws men and women together from every walk of life where - if just for an hour or two - we can put the troubles and worries of the world at bay while giving ourselves a level of indulgence and luxury that is nearly impossible to recreate

 

Kevin Flowers Because smoking cigars is fly, and I do fly shit!

 

Ronald McCoy when you indulge in a great stick, and dram.....no matter what all is going on in your life, nothing matters for that hour, or hour and a half your enjoying your treat. Genuine relaxtion, that many enjoy, and many don't get.

 

Maria Warren It's a meditation that drives straight down to a change on the spiritual level that I can best described as Euphoria.

 

Rob Lofton Cigar smoking unites generations and transcends time.From The pauper to the prince the time smoking a cigar is the same incredible

 

L Nathaniel Harris Because it relaxes me when I need yo relieve stress. Plus it is all natural!

 

Ylka Renee Morales Smoking a cigar for me is the best short term remedy for relieving stress. From the first moment your buds get a taste of that pure tobacco, your brain releases endorphins throughout the body that act like a natural opioid high which instantly relaxes the mood. Over the years,, with each cigar, I have become addicted to continuing to seek a better high than before.

 

Grayson Malone It's my moment of solitude when I need to escape from the same hum drum of life. Ron Perlman said it best. "Some people meditate I smoke cigars"

 

Puro Pete Smoking a cigar brings people together. We don't focus on race, political views, or personal opinions. All we focus on is that cigar and the fellowship that comes with it.

 

Ski Wyro As Rudyard Kipling said, "A woman is a woman but a cigar is a damn good smoke."

 

Lenessa Terry It's one of the only things that can hold my attention longer than an hour and provide a sense of relaxation at the same time. I enjoy the smell, the taste, the process and the element of fellowship a cigar can bring in a diverse social environment.

 

Erjan J Fortson We love cigars because psychotherapy is far too expensive.

 

Jacob Ontiveros The best thing about a cigar is the journey. We all start as a novice and perfect our palettes and attention to details. What atmosphere we prefer to what spirit we enjoy to pair. From the master who selects and blends the perfect tobaccos, and the artisan who rolls each fine stick. It can be that no matter where we are what we are doing. When we light up, we are all interconnected and part of the same small and proud community. When we smoke be that alone or with great company we can loose ourselves. Drift afar deep into pure thought and imagination. To a place of bliss and pure inspiration. In today's fast paced world moments like this are few and fleeting.

 

Jessica Hutson Cigars do two things for me. 1. They are mediation. Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat until calm. 2. Forced social interaction. Turn off the TV and light a cigar. You are guaranteed a period of conversation or comfortable silence.

 

Ty Johnson It's a Melo feeling, almost like serenity. A cigar with a glass of cognac what's that saying it doesn't get any better than rhis.

 

Kevin Atwood The truth is nothing is more relaxing then sitting back, relaxing with your thoughts and smoking a good cigar. The whole experience from selecting the cigar for your mood, the cut, the light and then the first draw. It allows you to simplify everything and slow down for that simple moment in a world that moves too fast.

 

Taven Johnson When I first started in this business I asked my grandfather what defines a great cigar and he told me that a cigar is not only a true handcrafted artisan product but one of the last remaining affordable luxuries available. That a single Cigar is touched by over 300 individual skilled craftsmen (on average) as each cigar goes thru an intensive 12 to 18 step totally handmade process completely natural & 100% agricultural/horticultural in nature all while being totally dependent on the climate and weather conditions each year. That it can take as long as 3 to 5 years to make a super premium A grade cigar, however when it reaches America the average retail price is normally only $5 to $12 a piece. With Even the super exquisite rare and hard to find a limited editions not being much over $30 in most cases. So for something that touches all five senses; the look, the touch, the taste, the feel, the aroma and the great conversations you hear and have while smoking a cigar, makes Cigars truly one of the last affordable luxuries and it brings people of all ethnicities, races, and creeds together in the enjoyment and fellowship of a great smoke. The cigars listed below in our portfolio that we are blessed and honored enough to represent are the epitome and true definition of great cigars and legendary manufacturers. please let us know if we can serve you in anyway it is our great privilege and pleasure to do so thank you all for your continued support.

 

Adrian Spath I was 20 years old when I smoked my first cigar. In the Army and stationed in Panama. They called me "Boy Scout" because I didn't swear, drink, smoke, or chase women. After a serous military engagement (all I can say) I was not that "clean cut midwest boy" anymore. I was on the beach trying to wrap my head around what I'd done and seen. An old man was selling cigars on the beach, and I decided to try one. I told the man I'd never smoked before and he handed me a mild Cuban Special and a box of wooden matches. I went down to the beach and smoked that cigar and watched the sunset on the ocean. Smoking that cigar I could feel a wave of calm come over me. That night, that beach, and that cigar (along with a bottle of rum) represents a "pivot point" in my life. Even all these years later, when I smoke a mild and sweet cigar, sometimes that memory returns and I am that 20 year old corporal sitting on a rock on the beach in Panama.

 

Shawana Isaac One of the best things about a cigar is that moment. My appreciation requires me to be fully present in that moment; a "stop and smell the roses" experience.

 

Robyn Parsons It brings people of all race and class together as one brotherhood/sisterhood under one affordable pleasure, hobby, luxury... even if for just an hour we come together to clear our minds, inspire conversations, and enjoy simplicity of an otherwise complex handcrafted cigar.

 

William Lopez Guevara Cigars connect us to the earth, they embrace us to the people who labor them and they create indelible experiences with love ones and help us make new friends.

 

 

BillieBLVD for www.leaf-and-barrel.com 

 

 

1 Comments

Thu

16

Mar

2017

Cigar Lounge Arguments

Conversations and arguments while smoking a cigar
Conversations and arguments while smoking a cigar

By BillieBLVD 

 

I love cigars. and I love to argue; therefore, I love to argue while smoking a cigar.  I am not referring to raising my voice or anything remotely hostile but something more akin to a simple verbal exchange of opposing positions which in many cases is a positive learning experience.  However, there are instances where people are arguing for a point of view that they have absorbed from a source they have selected that agrees with their preexisting perspective.  In other words, many of us are looking for information to back up our bullshit. 

 

Often when I am about to engage in a debate at the cigar lounge I will ask my protagonist if he or she has considered the possibility of being wrong.  If yes, I like to ask for a list of scenarios whereby you can you be proved wrong.  In other words, what fundamental variable[s] in your logical equation cannot be removed if your argument is to remain true.  This is not a trick or some attempt to off put my nemesis instead it serves to establish rules and remind us of our imperfection that we may be incorrect or that this may be a teachable moment.

 

The most mind blowing experiences for me have been the moments where I had to acknowledge that my most strongly held beliefs are inconsistent with reality.  The daylight between perception and reality should be narrow and the more narrow the more anchored we are in objective truth.  I am willing to hear any perspective but I grow weary of any statement or position based on bullshit with no appreciation for the fundamentals of reason.

 

So the next time that you are enjoying a glass of whiskey or smoking a cigar with a worthy arguer be sure to ask him/her how can you be proven wrong or have you studied any arguments against your position.  If the answer is no then just walk away.  You are engaging in an argument with an idiot.  I will conclude with the following arguements; flavored cigars are shit, R Kelly is a pedofile, Trump is a demogue, the Earth is not flat, and Wu Tang Clan ain't nothing to fuck with.  I will argue these points till the cows come home. 

 

 

BillieBLVD for www.leaf-and-barrel.com 

 

 

0 Comments

Tue

14

Mar

2017

Cigar Smoker's Equality

Diverse Gentlemen Smoking A Cigar
Diverse Gentlemen Smoking A Cigar

By BillieBLVD 

 

 

One of my favorite movies is The Big Lebowski (I chuckle at just the thought any scene).  When it comes to comedy, irony, and a host of other great qualities this is a piece of cinematic Americana that stands the test of time.  One line in the movie always stuck with me for some weird reason that I do not want to understand.  It's the part where the Dude, Jeff Bridges, is reminiscing on his stolen rug and in doing so he mentioned that “it (the rug) brought the room together”.  That simple statement left an indelible mark on me.  I began the 19 year task constantly looking for parallels whereby one centerpiece brings many otherwise disparate things together in harmony.  You already know where I am going with this.  

 

Cigars are a huge part of bringing people together from a  multitude of different origins, economic strata, educational levels, professions, and beliefs.  A cigar lounge is emblematic of a demilitarized zone stripping away meaningless designations thus allowing ideas to flow and our “humanness” to thrive.  Name another venue where a doctor, brick mason, barber, policewoman and a politician can mingle.  There they are trapped for the duration of the first, second, and last third of a cigar more than often paired with a spirit.  They puff, take in the ambience of the room, share lighters and cutters, walk the humidor, recommend cigars, and shake hands with the owners or other members.  They all acknowledge decorum and unspoken rules, they stare into each other eyes while talking, and all the while simultaneously rubbing off on each other some fundamental aspect that allows us to know each other a little better.

 

Don’t get me wrong there are more than a handful of cigar lounge violators but they are a statistical minority only serving to allow us civilized folk to coalesce deeper.  You may ask why.  Why is it that cigars have such an effect on people?  The answer is simple.  Cigars are the art of relaxation (the proverbial letting down of one’s hair).  They are a mechanism to slow down the world and who wants to slow down time beside an asshole.  Cigars and lounges are a means of gathering one’s thoughts and reflecting on the day while planning for tomorrow.  With that as the backdrop it's hard to mess it all up.  

 

BillieBLVD for www.leaf-and-barrel.com 

 

 

0 Comments

Thu

09

Mar

2017

Women That Drink Whiskey

Women and Whiskey
Women and Whiskey

By BillieBLVD 

 

The only thing better than a woman that smokes cigars is a woman that smokes cigars and drinks whisky while smoking cigars.  I have the pleasure of having a wife that falls into this category; however, my wife is more of a wine drinker than whisky.  The article below delves into the topic with more depth.

 

How Women Savor Their Whisky

Written By Richard Guzman for Los Angeles Daily News

 

For Alexis Rhone Fancher, it started as an act of rebellion against her parents.

For Lisa Segal, it’s about bonding with friends, and for Kim Ohanneson it was simply love at first sip.“I instantly fell in love,” Ohanneson says, recalling the first time she tried whiskey about 20 years ago when a friend offered her a Macallan single malt scotch.“It was the complexity and a richness that just said, ‘This is my drink,’ ” she says after taking a sip from a glass of Laphroaig single malt 10-year-old scotch.Whiskey is also the drink of choice for Fancher and Segal, who are sitting with Ohanneson at a table in a downtown L.A. restaurant on a recent rainy Friday night.

 

“When I go out, I drink whiskey — and why do I drink whiskey? I drink whiskey because I like the taste of it. I can savor a whiskey,” Segal says, jokingly describing herself as a promiscuous drinker because she can’t decide which is her favorite whiskey. Fancher, who says she first sneaked a taste of the liquor at the age of 14, knows what she likes. “I like single malts, and I like Japanese whiskey, which really is scotch, but you can’t call it scotch because it’s not made in Scotland,” she says with authority. The women are part of a rapidly growing club that’s looking to dispel stereotypes about what women like to drink — or that whiskey is somehow for men only. “I pretty much don’t drink anything else but whiskey, neat,” says Ohanneson, the L.A. chapter president of Women Who Whiskey, which is marking its one-year anniversary this month. First launched in New York in 2011 by whiskey enthusiast Julia Ritz Toffoli, the women-only whiskey club was started to connect like-minded women who at the time stood out for drinking whiskey. “I would talk to women, and we would have the same conversation over and over, which was, ‘I like whiskey, but why is that so strange for people — why is it hard for men to understand that we like whiskey?’ ” Toffoli said. Members of the club attend whiskey events every month that often include trips to distilleries or tastings led by experts or brand representatives who discuss flavor profiles and different kinds of whiskeys. “For me, it’s such an amazing experience to meet so many different types of women who are united by their love of this one thing, but who have totally different backgrounds and experiences coming into it,” Toffoli said. The events not only unite women who love the drink but also makes them more confident whiskey drinkers, members of the L.A. chapter say. “I feel strong when I drink whiskey. I feel feminine in this very unexpected way,” Segal says, noting that yes, there are still some men who do a double take when she orders a whiskey. Since its launch, the club has grown into an organization that boasts 23 chapters across the United States and internationally and claims to have about 10,000 total members. The year-old L.A. chapter is one of the biggest with about 2,400 registered members who attend the largely women-only events.  And the fast growth of the club both nationally and locally doesn’t surprise the members, since it’s reflective of the overall renaissance of whiskey as well as the appeal the drink has for women, whose contributions to the liquor go beyond just tossing back a few. “Women have always been an integral part of making whiskey,” said Fred Minnick, a Kentucky-based writer whose penned three books about whiskey including “Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch, and Irish Whiskey.” Minnick notes that women have worked in fermentation rooms, as distillers and marketers throughout whiskey’s history. “In American whiskey, one of the most dominant whiskey brands out there, Maker’s Mark, the name and the red dripping wax on the bottle were all designed by Margie Samuels, and she co-owned the brand,” he said.

 

But women haven’t always been big whiskey drinkers.

 

In the late 1950s, for example, women only made up about 5 percent of liquor purchases, Minnick noted.In the 1990s about 15 percent of whiskey drinkers where women.Today, however, women represent about 37 percent of whiskey drinkers in the U.S., according to Minnick’s research.“We’re in a time where people no longer want flavorless products. They want to taste what they’re drinking,” Minnick said.And for the members of Women Who Whiskey, it’s also about who they’re tasting it with. 

 

“I have these very intimate, close feelings about drinking scotch that are really associated with women friends. It’s just always been that way for me,” Segal says while having drinks with Ohanneson and Fancher.

 

If you want to join Women Who Whiskey go to www.womenwhowhiskey.club or www.facebook.com/WomenWhoWhiskeyLA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

0 Comments

Mon

06

Mar

2017

Cigar Fashion in New York

Cigar Fashion www.leaf-and-barrel.com
Wine and Gingham Cigar Shirt at the Cigar Inn NYC

By BillieBLVD 

 

Its Saturday night and there is no other place that I would rather be than the Cigar Inn on 2nd Ave between 53rd and 54th St NYC.  I decided to wear one of my favorite cigar shirts, the Leaf&Barrel Wine and Gingham, and to compliment the colors of the shirt I wore dark navy blue slim fit Brooks Brother chinos, a pair of Double Monk-strap British Tan Cap toe shoes, and a matching British tan Ferragamo belt.  To top it off I decided to err on the side of contrast with a orange brown wool Fedora (seen in the bottom right of the photo).

 

Before I stop in I opted to buy a bottle of Michter's Straight Rye Bourbon at "You and Me Wine and Spirits" on the corner of 54th and 2nd Ave.  Its the perfect place to buy a bottle before walking in the lounge (only 50 feet away) due to a vast selection of spirits in all price ranges. 

 

Since switching owners a about 2 years ago the Cigar Inn (now referred to as Casa De Montecristo) has changed for the better aesthetically and the prices of the cigars are more buyer friendly.  I was surprised to see that the new BYOB policy now requires a purchase of two cigars (fair enough). I started with a AVO Heritage (slowly becoming one of my favorite cigars) and ended the night with a Ashton VSG (Virgin Sun Grown). 

 

On this special night I am joining a friend that just returned from Cuba and he had the kindness to bring back one of my favorite cigars, the Hoyo De Monterrey Epicure #2 and a bottle of Havana Rum. Can it get and better?  I think not. We discussed the particulars of his trip to Cuba, updated ourselves on family status, and veered off into how to make the best roasted chicken.   

 

We ended the night at the Brooklyn Diner on 57th street and ordered two of the best dam Chicken Pot Pies you can ever taste (seriously, do not be aforesaid to copy every step of this wonderful night). I told him that nights like these are the best of times. Rum, bourbon, Cuban cigars, good conversation, great food, the cheerful banter of friendship, New York City in the backdrop, and good heath.

 

Night like these define what life is all about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

0 Comments

Fri

03

Mar

2017

Cuban Cigar Sales Are Rising

Trinidad, My Second Favorite Cuban Brand
Limited Editions Trinidad Cigars

By BillieBLVD 

 

Although sales from most luxury goods are down Cuban cigars sales are up by 5%. Why?  There's a lot of daylight between the passion people have for cigars and other luxury goods like shoes and jewelry and its that very difference that is fueling the entire cigar industry (passion).  Furthermore, Americans are visiting Cuba in droves which is driving the sale of Cuban cigars through the roof but soon the thrill of a taboo product will dwindle as Americans discover that the cigars they have always had available to them were just as good or better than the forbidden fruit they have mythologized. 

 

See the original article here

 

HAVANA – Sales of Cuba's legendary cigars rose 5% last year to $445 million, defying stagnation in the global luxury goods market, manufacturer Habanos SA said on Monday at the opening of the Caribbean island's annual cigar festival.

Habanos, which makes brands including Cohiba, Monte Cristo and Romeo y Julieta, said it expects moderate sales growth this year as it continues to tap the Middle East, Asia and other new markets. "We are quite happy we were able to grow during a year that was in truth quite challenging," Vice President of Development Javier Terrés told Reuters after holding a news conference hazy with smoke as journalists puffed on complimentary cigars. Cuba's monopoly cigar company was kicking off the festival that attracts wealthy tobacco aficionados and retailers from around the world for five days of extravagant parties and tours of plantations and factories. Habanos dominates the global market for hand-rolled, premium cigars except in the United States (US) due to Washington's half-century trade embargo against Cuba. The United States is the world's biggest cigar market. American enthusiasts have had slightly better access to Cuban cigars since former President Barack Obama two years ago unveiled a Cuba policy aiming to normalize relations. Last October, the Obama administration removed limits on the amount of cigars American travelers could bring home. Terrés said this made little difference to overall sales but it would help brand recognition in the US. Wholesale shipments there would require the US Congress to lift the embargo, a move that looks uncertain under President Donald Trump, who has threatened to reverse the detente. Still, better US-Cuban relations have helped stoke a boom in tourism, which in turn has lifted cigar sales in Cuba, according to Habanos. The number of visitors to the island rose 13% last year. "Our sales in Cuba are directly related to tourism, and in effect, sales in Cuba have grown," Terrés said. Habanos said its traditional European markets had remained stable last year, while there was growth in emerging markets like the Middle East and Pacific Asia. Meanwhile, female smokers remain a largely untapped market for Habanos, Terrés said. The company is working on it but has learned that producing smaller, milder versions of its classic cigars is not the answer. "Actually, women want to smoke big cigars and enjoy them like a man," he said, adding it was important to draw in women with specific promotional events.

 

See the original article here

0 Comments

Wed

22

Feb

2017

2016 Limited Edition Cuban Cigars

Trinidad, My Second Favorite Cuban Brand
Limited Editions Trinidad Cigars

By BillieBLVD 

 

The 2016 Limited Editions from Habanos S.A. are here but the most significant aspect of this news is that for the first time in over half a century Americans can purchase them, for the first time we are not limited by the amount we can buy, and for the first time we can go to Cuba with little or no restrictions.  I have smoked many Cuban cigars and have published many reviews and pairings of Cuban cigars and Cuban rum but there is nothing like visiting the island and experiencing the people that produce these wonderful pairing partners.  A proud people with a rich history that have persevered oppression on a level that would've broken the backs of many.

 

Last Friday I had the pleasure of entertaining a friend as we painted the town red with our wives.  Wonderful dinner, hand crafted cigars, and artisan cocktails from Jimenez tobacco.  After the fun we said goodbye; they were on the way to the airport to catch a flight to Cuba.  The world is changing and this cigar connoisseur is willing to change with it. See you in Havana.

Billie B

 

Article From Prensa Latina

 

Habanos S.A Limited Editions 2016 Go To Market 

 

Havana, Feb 20 (Prensa Latina) International corporation Habanos S.A. informed today about the distribution of its Limited Editions 2016 corresponding to Trinidad Topes, Montecristo Dantes and Romeo and Juliet Capuletos, a novelty for the Premium cigar market. Limited Editions of Habanos are very much appreciated and awaited every year by cigar aficionados, said the official note.  These proposals are characterized for its bands which are not in the regular assortmnent of the brand's portfolio and are distinguished by a meticulous selection of all its leaves -cover, filling and cape-. The tobacco leaves are matured for no less than two years. The cover that dresses these cigars come from the upper leaves of the plant of covered tobacco plants,l another of the characteristics identifying them, as it accustoms to be darker than the cover of the bands of the regular brand assortment. In the case of Topes (vine or diameter of 56 by 125 millimeters long) of Trinidad, it is the first band introduced with that measurement in the portfolio of the brand. Trinidad Topes is an habano that allows a taste of that Brand in an innovative format appreciated by those who like gross calibres and strength from mild to middle, explains the tasting note. In the case of Montecristo Dantes (diameter of 48 by 167 millimeters long) is a cigar of gross to medium caliber, elegant format and strength from medium to strong. Experts also insist this is the first Hermoso (vine 48) presented by Montecristo. This Limited Edition is presented in a special case of 10 units.

For its part, Romeo and Juliet Capuletos (vine 53 by 153 millimeters long) is the other Limited Edition 2016. This band is unique in the Brand and is characterized by an intense and complex flavor, assure the specialists. All these habano cigars of the Limited Editiions were rolled by hand with long filling and leaves originated iun the zone of Vuelta Abajo in the westernmost region of Cuba, Pinar del Rio, the most famous of the tobacco crop.

 

See the original article here

0 Comments

Mon

13

Feb

2017

Passion Needs Fashion

Cigar Fashion www.leaf-and-barrel.com
White Knight Cigar Shirt

By BillieBLVD 

 

Where there is passion there is fashion. It's a phrase that I am glad to coin as uniquely my own; however, its only real because it is universal. You indeed feel the same way whether you know it or not. For example, football fans don the garments of their respective teams, golfers have a look that is conducive to the environment and manner in which the sport is played, and bikers have clothing that will protect them in the event of a fall from a motor bike.  No matter which of these groups you subscribe to, one thing is sure, your passion is proclaimed by your fashion.  

 

Cigar smokers happen to be one of the most if not "the most" passionate group of people on the planet.  They read about cigars, smoke them in lounges with fellow smokers, they watch youtube channels like ThePuroMaduroChannel for hours on end.  They go on tours to Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.  Why?  It’s not just good to smoke a cigar they want to understand its every aspect.  They age cigars for years in humidors that maintain their preferred humidity and temperature.  Passion indeed but they do not have a specific design aesthetic for clothing UNTIL NOW!!

 

The Leaf&Barrel cigar shirt is designed to look good, really good, but the shirt reflects the passion of a cigar smoker in its utility.  There are multitudes of shirts that are made with quality materials and sewn by the best seamstresses one can employ but how can a shirt enhance the cigar smoking experience?  How can the shirt allow the smoker to become one with the cigar?  A cigar shirt would have to feel good on the skin with high quality cotton, the collar would have to maintain its form as the smoker falls into the leather couch of a cigar lounge, the colors would have to cover the most conservative to the most flamboyant cigar smoker’s personal sense of style, but none of this is implicitly meaningful to the smoking experience.  

 

A cigar cannot be enjoyed if its construction is compromised.  For example, a break in the wrapper ruins the draw and burn of a cigar thus severely impacting the flavor profile. Cigars are fragile and they need to be carried in the most careful manner possible which is usually done with a leather case.  The case is rigid and helps to maintain moisture but with today’s slimmer fitting clothing a large leather case cannot be carried comfortably especially when you are already carring a wallet, a set of keys, and a mobile phone.  

 

The Leaf&Barrel cigar shirt features a pocket consisting of three individual cylinders designed to hold three cigars of any conventional ring gauge.  Once the cigar is in the pocket its surrounded by a non-breathing material that maintains the freshness of a cigar.  The pockets are hidden but they allow the world to see three pristine cigars.  The shirt says to the world I am a proud cigar smoker, a man of style, and I am man comfortable in his own skin.   

 

Billie B

0 Comments

Fri

10

Feb

2017

Plume or Mold?

A Cigar Covered With Mold or Is It Plume
A Cigar Covered With Mold or Is It Plume

By BillieBLVD

 

 

 

Perusing Instagram or any cigar blog you'll eventually run across a plume vs mold argument.  Its usually posted by someone scared of what they just saw in the humidor.  They wonder is this cigar safe?  I must go to the elders of the village and find out the nature of this evil taking over my cigar.  Will it spread to the other cigars in my humidor?  If I smoke it will it kill me?

 

Fortunately there are only two possible explanations for that strange stuff you your cigar, its either plume or mold, but how can you tell?  Firstly, lets explain what they are.  Plume comes from aging the cigar to the point that the oils start to pierce through all layers (wrapper, binder, filler) of the cigar and leave dusty looking deposits.  Many would-be aficionados will claim that this is the result of a humidor that is too humid and too warm but I disagree.  For me its a sign that the cigar is ready to smoke with the right amount of maturity.  On the other hand, mold is a fungus that grows in spores and can be very dangerous.  Its usually yellow, green, or blue-ish and grows in clusters.  Unlike plume molds does not spread uniformly; instead,  it grows in clusters.

 

The best way to determine the difference between mold and plume is to first try and blow it off.  If it blows off it is definitely plume.  The second test is to try and rub it off.  If it comes off easy its plume but if it sticks it is almost always mold.  Lastly, plume will usually take place along the entire body of the cigar and not in one area.  

 

Billie B

2 Comments

Tue

07

Feb

2017

A True Cigar Pairing

How to pair a cigar with a spirit
Lagavulin Distillers Edition Paired With a Cohiba Behike

By BillieBLVD

 

 

If the wine or spirit has been properly selected to fit the body and flavor profile of the cigar you will certain experience a synergy.  

 

This happens when the terroir of the spirit is perfectly balanced with the thrust of the cigar and the flavors compliment the intricate complexity of the wrapper, binder, and filler.

 

During the first third of the cigar pairing you should have some idea of how well you have paired the cigar and spirt. If all is going well, once you enter the early stages of the last third be sure to blow the smoke into the glass (be liberal and take a deep pull).  Put your hand over the top of the glass to trap the smoke so that the flavors absorb into the spirit or wine with a few swirls.  Remove your hand and let the smoke hover over the surface for a minute then slowly sip it.  You should be able to detect the most prevalent flavors of the cigar intertwined with the spirit.  

 

This is not some silly trick to look cool or some pretentious act of snobbery; instead, its requisite to complete the cigar pairing.  Remember that in a cigar pairing you are not just smoking anything and combining it with any drink.  You are strategically searching for a harmonious mingling of complex flavors that embody the land they were produced in and from processes that have been cultivated for hundreds of years.  Take it serious and go beyond a smoke and a sip.

 

Billie B

0 Comments

Tue

07

Feb

2017

Yamazaki Paired With Bolivar

1 Comments

Thu

02

Feb

2017

ATTENTION: Cigar Lounge Owners!

The cigar smoking experience is everything
Cigar Lounge Owners, Remember what you do

By BillieBLVD

 

ATTENTION: Cigar Lounge Owners

 

If you have been smoking cigars for over a decade you are probably a cigar and a half a day smoker and you probably enjoy a glass of wine or brown hued spirit along with it (it can get costly). Unless you’re a millionaire you have most likely found a cigar that you can enjoy daily without breaking the bank.  This means that you have the good sense to purchase your cigars online. Why? Don’t be silly--the price!  You can buy a box of cigars for 90 bucks that means you are spending 4.50 per cigar and you can smoke that cigar in the comfort of your home. Meanwhile, a cigar purchased at your local tobacconist is at least 10 to 15 bucks. Which brings me to the topic of this article.

 

Cigar smokers pay a premium to cigar lounges for the experience.  We pay for the cleanliness (clean ashtrays, clean floor, clean seats & bathrooms); the quality of the cigars (a decent collection of the full spectrum of flavor profiles, proper arrangement, high end to low end); a well maintained humidor (69 to 70 percent humidity and Fahrenheit, with rules against smoking inside the humidor and how not to handle a cigar); a peaceful environment free of assholes (enforce rules against loud antics, racist comments, vulgar language etc.); and an experience that does not include senseless charges. For example, I know a tobacconist that will sell you a cigar, drink your Scotch, and then charge you for a glass and a cork fee. Freeloading POS does not have the decency to waive the fee after drinking on a smoker’s dime.  I know another owner that charges 2 bucks for a bottle of water which is fine but when a client brings in five new customers that each spend $50 to $70 bucks a piece but on the way out you gently detain him and shake him down for a bottle of water you look like an ass.

 

The point is this.  Remember what your value proposition truly is. You are in the cigar selling business via the experience. You provide an experience and in turn cigar smokers buy a stick and tell their friends.   We can smoke at home, we can smoke at a friend’s home, or we can smoke at a lounge that will provide the proper environment to smoke a cigar.

 

0 Comments

Mon

30

Jan

2017

Lancero, My Favorite Vitola

The ideal dimensions for a cigar
Cuban Cohiba Lancero

By BillieBLVD

 

In the 90’s the most popular vitola was the robusto with an average five inch body and a 50 ring gauge.  The great thing about the robusto is that it gives you an ideal representation of the blend in that the wrapper, binder, and filler are given equal footing.  This begs the question, should I ever want anything other than a robusto to experience the cigar’s overall blend and flavor profile. The answer is simple. Yes! 

 

Every cigar consists of a wrapper, binder, and filler and their value in terms of cost is consistent with the same order.  The wrapper is the most expensive component of the blend and the filler is the least (note to all 7x70 lovers).  I am sure that there is some obscure exception to the rule (for the trolls out there) but generally, like 99.99% of the time, this is the case.  Why?  The wrapper has the most impact on the blend.  Case and point, you have many cigars that have an identical filler and binder; however, the cigar is given another name just because it has a different wrapper.  This is because the wrapper is responsible for up to 60% of the flavor profile.

 

Enter the lancero.  Unlike the robusto the lancero shuns an equal representation of the blend by up-playing the wrapper and down-playing the filler and binder.  Furthermore, the sheer physics of the lancero shines a light on the wrapper because the diameter of the cigar is so low (38 to 42 ring gauge).  In other words, with any vitola the wrapper is responsible for most of the cigar's flavor but the lancero amplifies the dynamic.

 

So what makes the wrapper leaf so special? The wrapper has gone through the most extensive fermentation process so it's the most refined.  Furthermore, in order to withstand the fermentation process the leaf used for wrapper is thicker which helps it endure the fermentation process resulting in more flavorful.  Cigar wrapper is also very rare with only 10% being accepted for this coveted spot. The wrapper also has to do one fundamental thing that the binder and filler don’t, it has to look good.  It must be free of any blemishes and present a uniform color free of excessive veins and any unattractive characteristics. In conclusion, the lancero is my favorite vitola because it showcases the best of what any cigar has to offer, the wrapper.

 

0 Comments

Fri

02

Dec

2016

Octomore Paired With Two Saints

0 Comments

Mon

28

Nov

2016

Cigar Culture

BillieBLVD with  Partagas Serie D
Smoking A Partagas in Cancun Mexico

By BillieBLVD

 

Back in the 70's and 80’s I survived an entire stint of public education from K to 12 and during those sessions of exposure to the best and worst of middle and lower class America we learned that culture was a way of life.  You gotta love the simplicity of that statement but what is a “way” and what is a ”life”?  Nowadays the definition has been altered to to mean “the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively”. I will use a little bit of each to define or explain cigar culture.

 

Firstly let's dispense with the obvious; how can a culture be associated with a tubular shaped bundle of tobacco that is smoked but not inhaled?  To the unsharpened eye of a nonsmoker this statement may sway you to dismiss the entire idea of a culture but there is no much more below the surface.  

 

The tobacco in a cigar is a product of a very specific environment, terroir, in that the climate, sun exposure, composition of the soil, elevation, minerals in the water, humidity, and wind all contribute to the characteristics of the tobacco’s flavor and body.  In addition, considering all the aforementioned aspects of the environment one also has to recognise that a cigar consists of a wrapper, binder, and filler that may or may not come from multiple regions. Each region represents an array of characteristics that leave an indelible footprint.  You would be remiss to overlook that each region has different people, blenders, and farmers.  They all have different processes, levels of expertise, sophistication, and tradition.  

 

Blenders enter the fray with an amorphous vision of a flavor profile, intensity, and body adding even more complexity.  They strive for uniqueness and more importantly balance to make sure that each component of the cigar contributes to a synergistic outcome.  Lastly, cigar rollers, which I call artists, enter the equation.  Rollers are the most significant contributors to the overall experience because no matter how well the farmer and blender perform their respective duties the roller can construct a cigar that’s too tight or too loose,  The cigar may burn too fast or slow or worst it could burn uneven which will ruin the coalescence of the wrapper, binder, and filler.

 

Any given cigar will be constructed in different vitolas that will alter the flavor of the cigar based on how the components are featured (e.g. a smaller diameter showcases more wrapper influence and a larger diameter showcases more filler and binder in the flavor profile). Either one of these aspects can produce defects that will severely impact the cigar smoking experience. It's absolutely mind boggling how many different tangible and intangible inputs produce the end product, the cigar.   The maturity of this process took hundreds of years to achieve starting with Taino, native Cubans, who later encountered European explorers.

 

Once a cigar is made it has to be smoked.  A completely new set of processes, facilities, and market forces take hold.  A cigar has to be stored at the proper humidity and temperature, it has to be cut or punched with a utensil of both artistic sophistication and great specificity. Then a smoker must be provided with an environment that will not affect how the cigar burns. The chairs have to be comfortable and designed not to absorb the cumulative aroma of cigar smoke, the ventilation system has to bring in new air and filter the air from multiple cigar smokers out of the lounge, ashtrays have to rotated so as not to clutter the scene and ruin the cigar smoking experience.  The lighting, furniture, and ambience of the cigar lounge all contribute to the experience.  I say all this to underline “intellectual achievement” and complexity of cigar smoking.  The multitude of information published on the subject is ample evidence of how much its appreciated.  It's a culture.

 

2 Comments

Wed

16

Nov

2016

Bolivar Paired With Red Zinfandel

0 Comments

Tue

15

Nov

2016

Cuban Cigar...So What!

Romeo Y Julieta Habana
Cuban Cigar

By BillieBLVD

 

A cigar is not a better cigar just because it is a Cuban in fact a Cuban cigar may be the best indicator of poor construction and mildness to a fault.  In fact, I subscribe to the idea that Cuba has been left behind while the American palate evolved to bold and spicy flavors from surrounding regions that have been given dominion over the US market.  All that said I will submit to you that when a Cuban cigar is on its A game its unbeatable.  In the article below the author sites other reasons we may want to shy away from Cubans. 

 

Monica Collier for Times Daily

 

 In 1962, just hours before signing the trade embargo against Cuban leader Fidel Castro, President John F. Kennedy made a mad dash to secure 1,000 of his favorite Cuban cigars. At least, that’s how the story goes.

After five decades of prohibition, in December 2014, the Obama administration started taking steps to normalize diplomatic trade relations with Cuba. Limits have been lifted on bringing cigars from Cuba to the U.S. for personal use.

But before there is a stampede to buy Cuban cigars, some retailers warn aficionados not to expect too much by way of taste.

Brady Liles, tobacconist at The Cigar Room in Florence, said Cuban cigars, which have been shrouded as a forbidden luxury, simply don’t live up to the hype. Most modern cigar consumers are looking for complex flavor, something Cuban cigars do not provide.

“When you look at a Puro cigar from Cuba, it’s difficult for them to get as much diversity as Central American countries,” Liles said. “In Central America, they can pull from other countries — even from Ecuador, Sumatra and Indonesia — they pull tobacco from all over the place. Cuba doesn’t do that.”

 

Liles said blending tobacco from different regions leads to endless flavor possibilities. He said every region has its own unique process and combining tobacco creates diverse products.

 

“There are so many different ways to do it to give you many variances of flavor,” he said. “There are so many cigars that have been released to the market the past 10 years. In the past three years, there have been about 2,000 new blends introduced to the market.”

Donald Waddell, who owns The Cigar Room, said when most people think of Cuba, they think of cigars. After more than 50 years of Cuban cigars being out of reach, Waddell said there is some anticipation as laws change.

 

“A lot of folks who come in are looking forward to it,” Waddell said. “The real cigar guys, the ones who have their Nicaraguans and Dominicans they already smoke and have smoked for the past 30 or 40 years, are saying they don’t care. They already have what they like.”

 

Waddell said compared to Nicaraguan, Dominican and Honduran cigars, the lack of complexity in Cuban tobacco affects the flavor.

“There’s complexity in other regions,” he said. “In Cuba, they keep their tobacco Cuban because they make more money.”

Waddell said the current cigar industry in countries other than Cuba has an open recipe.

 

“You have people who are in their 80s and have spent their whole lives doing this,” Waddell said. “It’s remarkable to see how these men and women are able to take a skewer of tobacco and pick from it to make a recipe. They’re able to pick and choose tobacco from different regions and make something new and different.”

 

Unfortunately, Waddell said, Cuban cigars don’t have an open recipe because they’re picking tobacco from the same region in Cuba.

“When it’s all about the cigar and not about how much money you can make, a blender can create a certain taste,” he said. “They’ll go wherever they have to go to get that tobacco. If they’re in Nicaragua, they won’t say, which Nicaraguan tobacco can I use to make this taste a certain way? Maybe they’ll buy Sumatran tobacco to add to their Nicaraguan tobacco to make a blend. It’s all about the blend.”

 

Liles said not only does complexity of taste fall short in Cuban cigars, the quality is lacking because the country lags behind in techniques.

“Both Don and I have been to Nicaragua to tour the Perdomo facility,” he said. “Nick Perdomo, the owner of that company, personally walked us through. He gives his workers what they need to be successful. He sends them to school to study agriculture. They haul in fertilizers to replenish the soil, which is one thing Cuba has never been able to do. Many of the fields in Cuba are sandy from lack of nutrients.”

 

Liles said he had an eye-opening experience three years ago at the anniversary celebration of The Cigar Room in Madison. He said they had all brought some sort of Cuban cigar. Their national sales representative for Perdomo cigars was there and saw what they were doing. He laughed at them.

 

“He told us a story about Nick Perdomo’s grandfather,” Liles said. “He was a leader in one of the oldest cigar factories in Cuba. To leave Cuba and come to America was a big deal, you had to win a lottery, which was having your name drawn. He won the lottery but the country realized what an asset they were losing and changed its mind. They went to detain him and he fought. They shot him in the leg and put him in Cuban prison for five or six years. Finally, he was able to come to the United States and make cigars again.”

 

Liles said after telling the story, the sales representative told them if they wanted to go ahead and light their Cuban cigars, that was fine with him.

 

“He said it’s one thing to smoke a cigar that makes you happy and you enjoy it,” Liles said. “But, why would you support a country that did that?”

Liles said Perdomo is their most popular brand and is a household name for The Cigar Room clientele. He said hearing the story changed his perspective on Cuban cigars.

 

“Do we really want to go back to supporting the oppression of people under a dictator?” he asked. 

monica.collier@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5725. Twitter @TD_mcollier.

 

1 Comments

Tue

08

Nov

2016

Largest Single Malt Selection In Manhattan

By BillieBLVD

 

I patronize many bars in the Manhattan are for cocktails but there is one bar that owns the largest single malt selection in NYC, Keens Steakhouse. 

 

Author Gary Walther for Forbes Magazine

 

Online, it’s Keens Steakhouse, but on the awning it’s Keens Chophouse. (No apostrophe, please.)

 

This is just one of the quirks that make this venerable Manhattan meat-eater’s sanctuary on West 36th Street so endearing. It was opened independently in 1885, when the area was part of the theatre district, but before that it was part of The Lamb’s Club, an actor hangout.

Open the heavy wooden door and you’re entering the palpable past–dining rooms of wood-panelled, perpetual dusk courtesy of the frosted glass windows, and of ceilings decorated wall-to-wall with the largest collection of churchwarden pipes in the world. These hard-clay, thin-stemmed, small-bowled implements–you’ve seen them in Dutch paintings–were allegedly the remedy for driving away “evil homourse of the brain.” They’re a remnant of the days when men would leave their favorite warden pipe at their favorite inn. Keens once had a Pipe Club of more than 90,000 members, among them Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, Will Rogers, Billy Rose, Grace Moore, Albert Einstein, George M. Cohan, J.P. Morgan, Stanford White, John Barrymore, David Belasco, Adlai Stevenson, General Douglas MacArthur and “Buffalo Bill” Cody. But today we’re not here to speak of smoke, but of smoky. Meaning the Keens single-malt scotch list, which at 308 different labels, “plus 10 downstairs that we’re holding back,” says the suave Brandon Falzone, one of the list’s two keepers, is the largest at any restaurant in Manhattan.

 

The list requires a triptych menu, and is divided into the traditional single-malt genres (Highland, Highland-Speyside, Lowland, Islay, Island, and Campbeltown, plus “Single Malts From Unexpected Places” such as Texas, India, Japan, and Virginia.) The bottles themselves form a grandstand behind the tin-ceilinged bar, with more decks below the sightline. The collection was started in the 1980s by owner George Schwarz as a way of making Keens stand out at a time when the neighborhood was going south. (It’s now going north.) What you get at Keens is access to a single-malt museum, with some bottles that are endangered species. “The industry is changing,” says James Conley, a 17-year-veteran and the list’s senior curator as it were, referring to the fact that distilleries are now increasingly making scotch ready to drink now–”non-aged and less use of sherry barrels, all geared toward Millenials,” he says. He offers the heavily peated Octomoor as an example of a single-malt that lives up to novice preconceptions.

 

What you want to go for at Keens are the single-malts from distilleries deceased, signified by an asterisk that means “going, going”, but that live on here for now (Brora 35 Years, for example). The fun part of the menu is to pin the tail on the donkey–point to something and ask Brandon or James to explain your shot in the dark. I went for the Ledaig 10-Year-Old from the Isle of Mull, and it lived up to Brandon’s precis (“lightly smoked, fleet on the palate”). As for this duo’s personal favorites, Conley characterizes the MacAllan 25-Year-Old ($174) as “a little piece of Nirvana”, but also cites the Highland Park 18 ($22, from the Orkneys) and the Caol Ila 15 ($22, from Islay) as value stand-outs. As for Brandon, he’s a Springbank man, and suggests the Cask Strength 16-Year Local Barley ($30), an example of the new single-malt locavore trend, making the scotch from barley locally grown.

But then, don’t ask for advice. Act the part. Order the Mortlach Rare Old ($24), the Mortlach 18-Year-Old ($46), or the Clynelish James MacArthur ($20, aged 12 years on Bourbon casks and another ‘going, going’ scotch). Says Conley, “I’d take you for a connoisseur.”

 

 Written By Gary Walther for Forbes Magazine

Sat

05

Nov

2016

My Favorite Cuban Cigar

Purchased in London in 11/2015
Eclusivo Gran Britana by Bolivar

By BillieBLVD

 

 

I'm an avid fan of Cuban cigars and my favorite brand  is Bolivar.  Most Cubans are mild to a fault such that my mainstay cigars are usually Dominican or Nicaraguan with an exception of a few Mexican and Honduran sticks.  Why?  Because like any organism that must survive in an isolated ecosystem I have evolved via the forces of natural selection imposed by the Cuban embargo.

 

The embargo has altered my palate by limiting my selection of cigars to the spicy intensity of non-Cuban cigars.  While our fellow brothers of the leaf across the pond indulged in various Cuban brands we were smoking Padrons, Crowned Heads, Espinozas, Roma Crafts, Tataujes, Illusiones, and the like.  These brands battled for dominance in the biggest cigar market on the planet.  Victors emerged all the while forever changing what an elite cigar meant to an American aficionado. 

 

But what about Cubans?  They remained the same without even catching on to the big ring gauge trend or the dreaded flavor cigar delusion.  In that isolation Cuban cigars maintained their mild character but one brand stood alone, my favorite, Bolivar.

 

Bolivar in my not so humble opinion is the most intense Cuban on the market but its not just a spice rocket.  Its elegant, flavorful, and complex. Changes to the Cuban embargo are emblematic of species that were separated by environmental barriers for millennia and once the barriers cease to exist the once isolated species begin to engage in reproduction and evolve again.  

 

Obama removed the limitations of his relaxed $100 rule which will result in more Cubans between the fingers of US aficionados but will this change the American palate or change the Cuban cigar profile. May be both will change but my favorite Cuban is already perfect for a full bodied cigar lover with a penchant for Cuban cigars.  

 

BillieBLVD

1 Comments

Wed

02

Nov

2016

16,000 Pounds for 50 Year Old Bowmore

Do you have 16k for an Islay single malt?
50 Year OId Bowmore

By BillieBLVD

 

Ok, if you don't know that I love Islay malt then you just met me and being that we are now nice and chummy please know that I am a Islay single malt disciple (one step up from a fanatic).  Bowmore is not as smoky as I like but I like it nonetheless.  The real question is this; is it worth 16k.  I doubt it but I can dream can't I? 

 

From the Article: 

BOWMORE UNVEILS £16K 50 YO WHISKY

Launched on 1 November, just 159 bottles of Black Bowmore 50 Year Old the limited expression have been produced, having spent 50 years maturing in cask, making it the most aged expression of the Black Bowmore series.

The Islay single malt has been matured in first-fill Oloroso Sherry casks, which have imparted a “deep, black pearl darkness to the colour of the whisky”, with notes of tropical fruit, honeyed black truffle and the signature peat smokiness of Bowmore.

“This last cask of Black Bowmore® to be rediscovered not only demonstrates the unparalleled depth and quality of our single malts but cements Bowmore® as one of the world’s leading whiskies,” said distillery manager David Turner, who’s Grandfather worked on the original bottling over 50 years ago.

Black Bowmore was first distilled on 5 November 1964 at the Bowmore distillery on Islay and after four releases, the first in 1993 and the fourth in 2007, one last cask was rediscovered in the corner of Bowmore’s No.1 Vaults – the oldest Scotch maturation warehouse.

This final bottling is presented in a bespoke handmade cabinet and carries an RRP of £16,000 a bottle, available at select whisky specialists.

 

BillieBLVD

0 Comments

Mon

17

Oct

2016

Cuban Cigars and Rum for All;My 10 Predictions

A real Cuban cigar pairing
Havanna Rum and Partagas Serie D #D

By BillieBLVD

 

Last Friday we were told that Obama is going to allow cigars smokers to do the unthinkable, we can now bring home as much Cuban rum and cigars we can carry. This is a huge deal and the momentum will eventually reach your cigar lounge and here are my predictions for the near future;

 

  1. Many people will get to smoke their first Cuban cigar and many of them will be disappointed, especially at the construction and the lack of maturity.  The plugged draws, tannins, and ammonia notes will stun would-be aficionados.
  2. The price of Cuban cigars is going to shock many smokers but the lure of the forbidden fruit will force them to try a Cuban at least once.  Subsequently many smokers are going to be so upset that they will never pony up 30 bucks for a Cuban cigar when a Padron is only 25 bucks. 
  3. In a nanosecond cigar posers will state that they are strictly Cuban cigars only.  
  4. The proliferation of fakes will inundate the market and many will not know the difference.  They will be in a state of bliss due to ignorance but eventually they will have to give up. Be on the lookout for 70 ring gauge Cubans which will be 99% fake.
  5. Cigar lounges will get a shot on the arm with new patrons seeking the forbidden fruit.  Once the hype dissipates they will resort to an ACID (this is not a diss to the candy cigar lovers). 
  6. Rum aficionados will be the true winners because unlike cigars Cuban rum is truly exceptional but its not the absolute best just because its Cuban (try some Ron Zacapa or Don Q for proof of that). 
  7. The spike in new sales will erode the quality assurance process and the performance of Cuban cigars, which is already horrible, will get worse as the production process is stressed to the hilt.
  8. Cigar aficionados will come to the understanding that the Nicaraguan, Dominican, Mexican, and Honduran cigars they were already smoking are just as good if not better than the Cubans they have been denied for so long. 
  9. The unknown Cuban brands from small farms will slowly get a lot of attention with superior quality and a more attractive price than the likes of Cohiba and Montecristo.
  10. Sales of current brands will decrease for a short while until the market starts reach an equilibrium.  In other words, smokers will more along the experience curve and dispel the myth of unequivocal Cuban cigar superiority.  That being said I will repeat that when a Cuban cigar is on its A game it's almost unbeatable but just because a cigar is Cuban does not mean that it's good.

 

BillieBLVD

0 Comments

Thu

29

Sep

2016

The Perfect Cigar Cocktail

A Proper Cigar Cocktail
The Manhattan With Blantons Bourbon

By BillieBLVD

 

 

When it comes to cigar pairings it's rare that I go for a cocktail over a glass of Merlot, single malt, or bourbon.  Why?  The cigar is pure and I often feel that the pairing partner should be just as pure.  For example, a cigar is made of tobacco only, its aged naturally, and rolled by artist.  On the same note the aforementioned spirits are made and produced naturally as well.  Cocktails have a tendency to throw a monkey wrench into the entire machinery of the pairing.  I know that sounds like the rantings of a snob but so what.  At my age I know what I like and I know why and I am sick of not expressing it for fear of offending members of the thin skinned nation.  

 

I like authenticity, but when it comes to a cigar pairing there are some worthy compromises especially when it comes to one of my favorites cocktails, The Manhattan.  I will not get into the weeds of its origins (there are loads of reading on that) instead I will focus on the synergy of this beloved classic as it relates to a cigar.  

 

A cigar needs to borrow sweetness from its pairing partner at a bare minimum and the temperature once served should only be slightly chilled (never ever never should ice enter the equation).  The pairing partner should also balance with the body of the cigar in that a powerful full bodied cigar may need a medium to full pairing partner or the clash will kill the synergy.  The Manhattan offers all of that especially when served neat with a high quality rye whiskey, bourbon, or single malt.  The sweet vermouth is a smooth base, the bitters animate the sweetness, and the bourbon is where the magic happens.

 

I prefer a powerhouse bourbon in the form of Blanton's or Booker's.  Both have ample uniqueness and thrust with the perfect amount of flavorful elements.  Make sure that its served neat and enjoy. 

 

BillieBLVD

2 Comments

Tue

27

Sep

2016

Saying Good Bye To Cigar Season

My favorite place to smoke
My Cigar Garden

By BillieBLVD

 

If you live in the Northeast then you know that our beloved cigar season is coming to a close.  While there are a few good days left they are most certainly outnumbered by the snow and sleet filled days that will be coming our way very soon.

 

I recently had a last gathering in my cigar garden pictured on the left.  I sent out a few messages late Friday and to my surprise on Saturday I had about 20 close friends show up and we had a great time.  Cigars and whiskey, food and music, and the cheerful banter of friends.  These are the best of times.  As the years pass these moments will be forever trapped in my mind.  This is what life is all about.  

 

I can still taste the BBQ, hear the music and the laughter of friends in the backyard.  The dogs running freely, a gentle breeze, and the smell of fresh cut grass.  Summer will be missed dearly.

 

So its time to embrace the changing of the seasons, look forward to the crackling of burning wood in the fireplace, and family time during the holidays. Humidors will have to be re-calibrated for extra humidity as the heated house starts to dry out the stash. More cigars will be smoked indoors providing great conversations and times to remember.  

 

Good Bye Cigar Season 2016.  There will never be another and I hope to have about 50 more before I check out.

 

BillieBLVD

0 Comments

Tue

20

Sep

2016

Lagavulin's Anniversary Dram

One of Islay's best turns 200
Lagavulin 200th Anniversary Whiskies

By BillieBLVD

 

There are many different offerings from Islay that are worthy of any whisky aficionado's admiration but few are so steeped in tradition and myth as one of Islay's best distilleries, Lagavulin.  Lagavulin goes too far back to mention but not so far that we cannot praise its 200th birthday.  I have always felt that Lagavulin's niche was elegance and balance when compared to its peers but I cannot wait to try these drams to contrast with other Islay greats.  Read more below.......

 

From Forbes

 

Authored by Nick Passmore

 

“An exceptionally fine whisky.”

That’s not my observation, nor the invention of the Marketing Department at Diageo , Lagavulin’s owner, but the judgement of the first ever whisky journalist, Alfred Bernard, on Lagavulin’s 8-year-old single malt when he visited Islay in 1887.

 

Nobody’s quite sure when production started at Lagavulin but it was certainly going on by 1816 so when the marketing people at Diageo, ever on the lookout for a promotional opportunity, decided to release a  200th-anniversary limited edition, they decided to resurrect the Bernard story and make the whisky an eight-year-old. And, not to miss out on the highly lucrative bling! end of the market, added a 25-year-old.

 

Pricing: 8-year-old is $65 and the 25 $1,200.

 

Not as medicinal as its neighbor Laphroaig, nor as hugely peated as its other neighbor, Ardbeg, the regular release 16-year-old is quintessential Lagavulin sweetness followed by a long-lived bonfire smokiness on the finish. However, these two special releases are very different.

0 Comments

Fri

09

Sep

2016

Octomore: The King Of Peat

The essence of Isay
Octomore from Laddie

By BillieBLVD

 

Outside of church no two things are created equal.  As with cars the same is true of Scotch in that a station wagon and a Ferrari are both considered to be automobiles but no one worth their own salt would prefer the former.   The very same analogy applies to Octomore and every other Scotch (yes, even Lagavulin and Laphroaig).  Am I biased?  Hell yeah.  I love Islay Scotch but not just for the peat, the salt, the briny flavors, or a medicinal notes.  I like distinction and flare. This is a Scotch after my own heart.  If I died and were reincarnated as a Scotch I would want to be Octomore.

 

Check the box on this being the most peat flavored Scotch that you have ever tried but don't let that fool you into thinking that this is one trick pony.  This dram is almost 130 proof, its complex, sweet, and somehow smooth.  The packaging is exquisite and the bottle is frosted which adds a nice touch to the deep amber tones of its contents.  

 

When nosing this nectar the senses become animated.  You're forced to anticipate the flavor because you have never smelled anything like it.  I will be pairing this with a Two Saints cigar from Felix Assouline, one of my new favorite cigar brands.  The video will be uploaded soon. 

 

Happy Friday.  

 

 

BillieBLVD

0 Comments