Category Archives: Cigar Reviews

Horacio cigar II and her – forever.

 

St Christina Church

Many years ago I was in church on the Southside of Chicago.  Before the service, I noticed one of the most intriguing women I have ever seen there.  She was several pews in front of me to the right.  She was short in stature, oh maybe about 5’5”.  Her medium-length hair was black, simple – halo style back then.  I thought I was being discreet as I stared at her from behind for practically the whole mass.  My intention was to go up to her after worship and introduce myself in some kind of Christian way so as not to scare her off.  

So the mass ends and I get up and she leaves on the right and heads for the door.  I’m in the center aisle and proceed to head for the back as well.  I’m just a few feet from her and the priest who had the mass was shaking everybody’s hand and as much as I tried to avoid that contact, he seemed to reach over to me and take my hand.  Odd I thought.  But I wished him a “Good morning” and attempted to get on my way because this woman I noticed was not a slow walker.

He still has my hand, and he looks at me and asks, “What were you thinking today during the service?”  Those were his exact words.  I will never forget them.  And I felt a rush of nausea in the pit of my stomach because I could see he had no doubt noticed my attention was on the young lady and that my mind was a galaxy away from his homily.

She’s walking further away by now.  And I do remember the very words I answered, “Father, I have a lot on my mind.”  He looked at me.  It was as if he kept me there until for all practical purposes it was too late for me to contact this woman unless I ran or raced toward her and that would not have been a very smart thing to do.  He knew what was on my mind.  He knew what I was concentrating on – and he was right!

I marvel at this vivid recollection of fact.  This is over 40 years ago.  Yet, it’s as if it happened yesterday and in my redolent vision, it did.  I remember the feelings, the angst, the embarrassment, and the dialogue.  It’s when a moment like this occurs that you know you have an indelible crevasse etched in your memory.  This is how I feel about today’s cigar.

I’ll just rewrite my notes, as scattered as they may seem – the whole is what counts:

(Notas ad verbum est)

horatio no 2Horacio II.  Delightful first puff.  Aroma matches the taste of the cigar.  Oh boy, was this worth the wait. Caramel.  Soul-stopping flavour.  Decadent.  Hedonistic. Sybaritic.  A grand smoke.  Ecuadorian, Nicaraguan and Costa Rican.  The time it took to get this brand through the proper channels into the US will remain with me like a nightmare – as will the erotic essences so essential to the exotic end.  A smoke of wide proportions.  Thick with details of the memorable mixed minutiae of madness – David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest.”

Savory.  Sensual.  No.  Sensually satisfying.  The bouquet pulsates with luxury.  

Deep, ground Roman coffee.  Call it a pleasurable sensation.  A feather.  A look.  Marie Magdalene “Marlene” Dietrich may sing it the best:

Falling in love again/Never wanted to/What’s a girl to do?/I can’t help it.  Love’s always been my game/Play it how I may/I was made that way/I can’t help it/Men cluster to me like moths around a flame/And if their wings burn, I know I’m not to blame.  (Repeat)

irv with horatioWhat?  What?  What?  What?  This aroma touches my senses – all of them.  A buffer of sweet spice colliding with rich touches of Dylan’s poetics.  It’s beginning to thunder. The sky is dark.  I’ve lost sight of the thirds.  I don’t think anybody really gives a damn about the fractions.  Na!  

It’s beginning to rain.  The moisture in the air melds with the melting aromatic smoke silently whisked into the air and into my memory.  “What were you thinking today during the services?”  A calm resonates above the splashing rain on asphalt.  She may have gotten away, but her memory, like Horacio II – will forever be engraved in my mind.

(Songwriters  F. HOLLANDER, REG CONNELLY/Published by Lyrics © MUSIC SALES CORPORATION/Song Discussions is protected by U.S. Patent 9401941.  Other patents pending.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaZDiKRT1is

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nonstop

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Strong cigars are an acquired taste.

irv with crow

It’s an extremely windy day.  The sun in blazing and the sky is as blue as the azure waters off the coast of St. Croix.  I’m at the Patio Cigar Lounge (Open 24/7).  The cigar you see me smoking is almost making me sick.  It’s beyond full-bodied.  But the flavor is too rambunctious for me to let it go.  I feel in a daze.  Stupefied with sensory overload.

Even the wind can’t break through this cigar’s bodacious bouquet.  It swirls back to me mixing with nature.  A robin is bathing and splashing cooling water sprinkles everywhere. No towel needed.  I study the bird.  It possesses the air of insouciance.  What else is there to do?

turtles

Looking at two turtles in a photo I was sent, gives me more to ponder.  Are they so slow due to the small legs?  Or the heavy shell?

This cigar is making me nauseated.  I need to toss it.  But I don’t.  There is that distinct flavor that I want to explore.  What?  Tree bark?  Licorice?  Powdered black pepper? Blackstrap molasses?  All oozing out of each draw.  A critic’s nightmare.  It has a toothy wrapper.  Each Lilliputian bump carries more of that flavor I want so badly.  There’s only one way to get it, smoke the cigar – burst into those nodules of nature.  Sacrificial.  Do I allow my heart to continue to race?  Apparently.

I’m stunned into contemplation.  

Why the turtles?  Turtle soup is soup or stews made from the flesh of the turtle. The dish exists in some cultures and is viewed as a luxury or delicacy.  (Google)  Bad thought? Musings.  Maybe an ortolan would be a more acceptable delicacy?  Barbarism both.  

Is this cigar causing me to spin out?  I move to another chair.  Less sun.  Under the swaying umbrella, the shading helps my nausea subside.  Just a few more puffs?  This is a luxury.  Legal.  My head is swimming.  I drank all my Dew.  A volatile mix?  Perhaps.

crow

Crow by Blackbird Cigar Company.  Dominican.  One size. Gran Toro.  Closed end.  Infinite flavors.  My son’s band is practicing in the basement.  Gig tonight.  An added growling of aural sensations.  A silent bash to the head. The Yardbirds (1963) smashed their guitars before The Who (1964).  Holy mackerel.  I take what’s left and toss it into the bushes.

I have to sit still.  The wind continues to pummel the garden.  Warm air, which weighs less than cold air, rises. Then cool air moves in and replaces the rising warm air. This movement of air is what makes the wind blow. (Google)

I have to get into the air conditioned house.  I pick up my notes that had been held down by an ashtray.  Ashes are everywhere.  

Man!

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Oftimes, words are no longer necessary.

pepsi and pizza

This is what you end up eating when you just finished all the chores and you’re hungry, not willing to cook, and just want to relax.  Is it healthy?  Yes.  Because the combination is making me happy.  And to make me even happier, I tried a new cigar (for me) at the Patio Cigar Lounge (open 24/7).

Perfect, absolutely flawless draw.  I’m not a fan of the belicoso – I find them pretentious. So I had no shape jones going into this.  But for some reason, I picked this one – habano oscuro wrapper, Ecuadorian binder, and Peruvian/Dominican/Nicaraguan filler. Handmade in Costa Rica.

marrero paint

Smooth.  Very smooth.

This is the blend-child of Joel Marrero.  He and I go way back.  Through an odd contact, he and I reconnected.  He sent me a variety of cigars and I plan to try them all.  This one is a bit peppery.  I’ve had my issues with Peruvian tobacco.  So we’ll see if they surface.  I just lit this one.

The construction is superb.  The burn is – hold on, I have to put my Pepsi in the fridge.  Warm Pepsi.  Blah!  I don’t like the way the band is loosely “adhered” to the cigar. It’s annoying.  But, as some of you might know, there are times I’m easily piqued.  Sorry, Joel.

He wanted me to try the barber pole, but this one intrigued me.  When was the last time I followed directions anyway?  Ha!  F*^k it!  I’m in a playful mood.  I worked hard today.

marrero ashLook at that ash.  Good soil.  Solid.  Sydney Greenstreet. Solid.  Shrewd fermentation.  

I’ve been asking myself why am I reviewing cigars I don’t rep?  We’re a cigar community.  Not a communistic cigar conundrum.  I think I may slip this cigar band off earlier than I usually do.  

There’s that Peruvian lilt.  It’s nutty, but not of the sweet meat, rather the protective shell.  Maybe Marrero is hell-bent on experimenting with bitters.  That’s a skill.  Ask any bartender.  A plus in my book of exotic tastes.

I’m taking this ban off.  I feel like Tommy Dorsey playing the trombone.  Fix that Joel, will ya?

This is a strong cigar.  Definitely full-bodied for me.  But I just had the pizza so I’m ok. Lots of luscious smoke with a great aftertas . . . hold on.  “Great” is such a pedestrian adjective.  Let me think on this.  Be patient with me here.  (Yeah, there’s that Peruvian tobacco.  Nicely blended though – but definitely there.)  This cigar has an aftertaste that I would liken to a woman’s lips after a long embracing kiss.  Intoxicating, yeah, that’s it.

irv with marreroIntoxicating.

I included this photo to show you how calm I am.  Do you see any tension?

Its bouquet is spicy smooth and when it dissipates into the warm breeze – I must be oversexed, it reminds me, it soothes me like an alluring perfume where the characteristics blend exquisitely with a woman’s personality.  My heart is racing.  Could be the caffeine, the nicotine, or my hopeless trists into seduction.  

Flor de Nino.  Hmmm.  Yes, a full-bodied smoke.  

I’m tired of this breeze, blowing the papers of my notepad back and forth.  I’m in the corner of the garden, not on the stone patio.  I’m hidden.  I give this cigar full marks.  If you’re reading this Joel, you have an extremely gratifying blend here.  Hmm.  Each draw is like looking into the eyes of my love.  Telling.  Words are no longer necessary.  

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“Cumpay”- Nicaraguan Nirvana.

cumpay nirvana

It’s no Noguchi, but it’s an awesome garden that I can escape into when I’m smoking a cigar at the Patio Cigar Lounge (Open 24/7).  Today was one of those “I’m feeling worthless” downslides.  My entire schedule fell through and time swept by too fast for me to grab onto anything worthwhile.

So why not change my mood?  But what will it take to do that?  I decided to chill at the Lounge.  I’m smoking one of the most elegant cigars in the country – Cumpay by Maya Selva.  This one is a diminutive cigar (4 x 46) but packed with an alluring mix of mature and exotic flavors that makes Jackson Pollock’s “Untitled (Green Silver)” appear organized.

cumpay nub2

From the first, fresh draw that reminded me of a feathery tickle at the beginning of an impromptu afternoon of lovemaking, to the orgasmic release of a reggae peppery explosion, I was transfixed.

This 100% Nicaraguan sensual tobacco feast has been aging for over three years in my humidor and when I gently took it out, I had a hunch that I would end up totally enraptured.  Indeed, being completely immersed in the relaxation of total ecstasy allowed me to dismiss my upended schedule.

I have one 4 x 46 left.  Just one.  Will I hold onto it until the moment is right?  Or perhaps, do what I did today, and blithely glide into the breezy world of Nicaraguan nirvana.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6x2iMGwjgk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POaaw_x7gvQ

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Today’s Tobacco Trinity.

 

trio of cigars

Three cigars in one day are too much for me.  The first was this afternoon when I took Flo out for her Sunday walk.  The second was as I was exercising.  I speed walk and it feels great.  The final cigar was the one I am smoking right now under the night’s sky trying desperately to see what I’m writing next to the solar light on the side table next to my bench in the Patio Cigar Lounge (Open 24/7).  (There’s no door, just walk in.)

Number one had a magnificent draw and the flavor was as luscious as crème brûlée when you crack open the caramelized top and your spoon softly enters the custard and when you put the blancmange into your mouth the explosion of warm vanilla and crème épaisse (heavy cream) causes a taste sensation that tantalizes your desire for more.  It’s a tickle that demands to be itched.  It made me stop and look at the cigar with Willie Wonka wonder as to how tobacco can have such a transformative effect.

The second one was the same as the first, but unfortunately the draw was poor and I ended up so disappointed that I became a bit testy, again looking at the  cigar and in total exasperation talked to this inanimate man-made “thing” questioning it as if I expected an answer, “What the hell happened to you?”  Of course, my query was met with utter silence and so I just concentrated on my quickened steps one, two, three, four, and how I wish I had some more – of the first one.  Grrrr.

My final cigar was smoldering under the night’s sky.  I sat at the lounge lapping up every last swirl of smoke I could because this is one that I never can get enough of – ever. Though it, too, has an occasional draw problem, I have given it eternal dispensation for being arrogantly inconsistent.  I love the flavors, essences, and tastes it provides, despite this flaw.

Here, the smooth, raisin purée and molasses mix tinged with freshly ground nutmeg and powdered coffee with just a whoosh of dried cocoa are injected into my palate that I have no choice but to savor each draw.  As the smoke escapes into the air I breathe in just a thin strand of dissipating smoke into my nose to complement one of the most pleasing and addictive aromas ever produced from burning dried leaves.

Three very different experiences.  Not a single primary flavor in any one, but a schmear of tingles and tangs regardless of the inconsistent draw.  When Mother Nature grew these leaves and man took them and almost as if by gossamer magic created such sensory dilators is a miracle that is certainly blessed and touched by the gods.

The third cigar is about to go out.  I wish it wouldn’t.  But I’m forcing its demise by drawing on the nub with the same intensity as one would breathe in the last breath of life.  The sounds around me are beginning to take over the finalé of this day with my trinity of tobaccos.  The distant sounds of cars’ tires on the main drag’s worn asphalt. The ever so gentle rustle of some small creature next to me hidden in the hostas.  The occasional accent from the sounds of a couple’s voices on the sidewalk in front of the Lounge.  Indeed, I am quietly being blended back into the nocturnal atmosphere sans cigar to the inevitable end of my day.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UU-QiGDZJns  

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