Thanks to some poor lifestyle decisions made by a younger Brian and the present day dental consequences, I haven’t been able to enjoy that many cigars over the past week. So how can you post a new Week in Smoke? Asks the reasonable reader. Easy, is my response, these are all smoking visualization exercises, what I imagine it would be like to smoke the random assortment of cigars listed below. I’m just kidding. I already had a partially complete Week In Smoke that I didn’t have time to finish while I was editing the recently posted General Cigar D.R. tour videos. (You should check those out if you haven’t.) Add to that my smoking notes leading up to my dental day of reckoning, and you have a respectable Week In Smoke. So though I’m currently napping with my face pressed against a bag of ice, my veins coursing with doctor-prescribed controlled substances…
It’s once time again for another issue of Brian’s The Week In Smoke. In case this is your first Week in Smoke, be advised that it covers many (though not necessarily all) of the cigars I’ve smoked in the past week (or the past month, or however long it has been since the last issue), along with a couple of quick thoughts that came to me at the time. These are not full cigar reviews, but quick blurbs based on a single smoking experience. As such, they may be influenced by the natural variations that occur from one cigar to another. Your mileage may vary. (If I know the cigar well enough to comment, I may mention if an experience strays from what understand to be the norm.)
An appearance in The Week in Smoke does not preclude nor guarantee a future in-depth review. Whenever possible, I’ve linked to more a thoughtful and thorough review of the cigar in question. (Or maybe I’ve linked to a photo of Jerry The ‘Stache. You won’t know until you click.) Enjoy!
Arturo Fuente 858 Sun Grown
Let’s start up this Week In Smoke with a cigar I actually did smoke this week. On the couple of occasions I have lit up since the dentist implanted the Borg uplink in my jaw, I’ve tried to avoid really spicy or potent cigars. But this man may not live by Macanudo Gold Labels alone. On the way to my local shop it struck me that there were 858 Sun Growns to be had, which in my recollection was a good source of flavor without the intensity or potency I was looking to avoid. While I don’t recommend it, the silver lining to going a week or more without a cigar is that when you do get it smoke one, it’s vivid. This 858 Sun Grown was like that. The notes of leather, coffee, mild peppercorns and light fruity sweetness seemed so bold for a cigar I typically think of as medium-ish. It reminds you of how different the tastes of the very occasional smoker can be. Part of me is jealous. The rest of me wants to get my mouth back in the saddle. (That probably came out wrong.)
Crowned Heads Mason-Dixon Project MMXV (2015) Southern Edition
A friend who had recently smoked through the better part of a box of these well-aged cigars traded me one for a Buenaventura I happened to have handy because he felt like mixing it up a little. It had been a while since I had one, so I was only too happy to oblige. It was the end of a long day, and I began the smoke with the best intentions of making flavor notes, but I didn’t get far with that. I noted early on tasting chocolate, cedar, molasses and pepper, but the evening weighed heavily on me, and I didn’t make any further notes. Most importantly, I did enjoy it, and would buy another if we cross paths. It was a good smoke and a good trade.
MBombay Gaaja Torpedo Natural *
Recently and unexpectedly a package arrived in the mail. Inside the package, in a what looked like a resealable trail mix bag was an assortment of MBombay cigars. It’s a pretty clever way to ship cigars, because it’s been sealed, you know your shipment hasn’t been tampered with in transit. And once you open it, you can reseal it just like any ordinary ziplock bag. Unfortunately, the sporty packaging failed to motivate me to go for a hike, or take up snowboarding. But I did sit (which is the new smoking) and light up a Gaaja Torpedo Natural (which is the old smoking). It was a pretty enjoyable cigar. I noted rich coffee, caramel, earth, dark chocolate, spices and a mineral quality consistent with all MBombay cigars I’ve had.
Partagas Black Clásico *
As you may have heard, Ben and I recently spent some time down in the Dominican Republic touring General Cigar’s facilities. While we were down there, I revisited some cigars I hadn’t smoked in a while, like the Cameroon-wrapped Cohiba and the Macanudo Cru Royale, which made my top ten list a few years back. But what I found myself drawn to more than anything else was the classic Partagas Black.
You’re likely familiar with the rich peppery profile of Partagas Black. But there’s a good chance you haven’t heard of the beer I paired it with – Monday Night Brewing’s Tears of My Enemies. It’s a scotch barrel milk stout, which means it’s a stout that has been brewed with lactose sugars and aged in 18 year old scotch barrels. It’s like making yourself a chocolate milk, drinking half of it and then remembering that you’re old enough to drink scotch, so you top the drink back up with scotch. (If you’re trying that now, you’re my kind of guy. Consider this a virtual fist bump.) Our local beer laws here may be as backward as they come, but brewers here thumb their noses at the idiocy with creativity.
I enjoyed the way the cigar made the beer pop, and the beer seemed to bring out the best in the cigar as well- nuts, caramel, and of course, pepper. Neither the cigar nor the beer seemed to upstage the other. In this field of battle, they are allies. If you’d like to recreate this pairing, but don’t have access to this beer, try New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk or Left Hand’s Milk Stout on for size. I won’t tell anyone if you pour a shot of scotch in it. At this point, you’d be crazy not to.
Paul Garmirian 15th Anniversary Short Robusto
My policy is to never leave a cigar shop unexplored. While wandering around my hotel in the Dominican Republic, I noticed a gift shop with a selection of cigars. Even with no shortage of cigars waiting to be lit, I felt obligated to browse. Looking through the small store, I came across this last PG 15th anniversary looking lonely in a nearly empty box. As it happens, this cigar had come up in conversation on the day prior, and received high praise. This was couldn’t be a coincidence, clearly I was meant to smoke it. So I bought it, and lit it up once I got home. The aroma of the cigar’s wrapper was beautiful, like honey and flowers. The profile was creamy, cedary and earthy with a touch of lemon-like acidity and light pepper. It was a very pleasant cigar that I wouldn’t mind smoking again, should I ever find another.
* Big Brother would have you know these cigars were gifts or free samples, and that my opinions on them is suspect. My opinions (and dentist-induced wallet trauma) are my own, your response to them is your own. All your base are belong to us.
** I have too many smokes, and this denotes that the smoke in question has been sitting in one of my humidors for at least a year, and thus qualifies as “aged”. If my collection continues to grow, the chances are good I’ll be on that Discovery Channel show about people who hoard stuff and face eviction.
Some of the pictures in Brian’s The Week In Smoke first appeared on twitter or instagram. If you’d like to see these lists constructed in real time, follow Brian on twitter or instagram. If you don’t, you’ll make the Fail Whale cry. And he’s ugly when he cries.