Wednesday 20 March 2013

Celebrate endings - for they precede new beginnings

I have not done a proper post in almost three months so it is about time I update you all, whether you like it or not. A lot has changed in my life in that space of time, most notably, I am no longer in the Security Business.

David Weinbaum said "The Secret To A Rich Life Is To Have More Beginnings Than Endings"

After working the doors for thirteen years or so I have quit and moved on. The last four off those I spent were in the The Church Cafe,Bar and Restaurant (Nightclub,Tourist Attraction,Juice Bar,Summer BBQ....and so on). From my first night on the 12th February 2009 to my last on the 9th February 2013, I worked there with pride. I would be lying if I said I enjoyed every night (Who does??) but the people I met and the friendships I forged over the years made it all worthwhile. What I will miss most is the fun and slagging with Hollywood standing beside me on the door as well as the strangely varied and obscure conversation we normally would have. When we were standing outside battling the rain, wind or snow it made the night pass by a lot quicker. Thank you Dave!!

So on to the new venture. My friend owns a restaurant in the city center and on the run up to Christmas I helped him out during the day, serving tables. I loved it. It had been years since I waited tables and before long I was back in the swing of it. In January he offered me a trial position as a manager and in February he offered me the position full time. I took it. Longer hours and harder work but I am indoors and the time flies...and the weight is dropping off.

I may no longer be a Doorman but I am now a Godfather. My godchild was christened two weeks ago and I am not one for kids but I love little Byrne Jr as if he was my own. He doesn't do much at the moment (He's a baby!!!) but I cant wait until he is old enough for me to fill him full of ice-cream, skittles and coke and send him back to his parents. I wonder how often I will be on child minding duty!! Fun times!!!

Now to the Cigars. My collection has grown substantially.

The Mrs got me some lovely sticks for my Birthday and a few more for Valentines. She also got me a set of Cufflinks made from a Pre-Embargo RyJ Cigar band and a nice leather travel humidor.

I also received a few goodies in the post:
I won a competition that was run by Cigar_G and Jose Blanco and was sent 2 x Joya's, 2 x MUWAT and a Liga Privada.
After tuning into Cigar Chat one night, Paul Stulac generously promised all the viewers one Cigar. When I received my package I had been given three.
Finally I ordered a box of Partagas Culebras. They come in a box of nine, 3x3 in separate coffin boxes. I have been wanting to get my hands on some and they seem to be very hard to find. Now I have them.

I now have a very impressive display of Cigars but that is all it is at the moment. With the new job but more importantly the weather I have not had many opportunities to smoke anything. I did manage to sneak a few in over the past few months but not as many as I wanted. Roll on the summer!!

BIG NEWS ALERT: Cigar Aficionado Magazine published one of my tweets. I will confess that I am not an avid reader. Too much advertising and not enough Cuban content for my liking but I do realise that for so many people it is the Cigar bible. Getting a mention in the publication is kind of a big deal so I will take that. Maybe they will read my blogs and publish some thing else.....or give me a job. I could do Savanos job!!

Which brings me to the 15th Annual Festival del Habano. There are so many festival I would love to go to. IPCPR, Cigarnival, CigarFest and so on but this is the Holy Grail. Some year I will get there. Maybe for my 40th (*Drops hint to the Mrs*) This year the focus was on Montecristo, Partagas and the relaunch of the Vegueros Brand.

There were three new Edition Limitada's released:

Romeo y Julieta Romeo De Luxe EL 2013
Hoyo De Monterrey Gran Epicure El 2013
Punch Serie D'Oro No.2 El 2013

Four new regular production cigars:

Montecristo Double Edmundo
Montecristo Petit No.2
H. Upmann Connossieur A
Bolivar Libertadores (Only available in a LCDH store)

One New Gran Reserva:

Partagas Lusitanias Gran Reserva

The Vegueros brand was also relaunced and include:

I dont know much about the Veguros brand but if Habanos SA included them as a headliner in the Festival they must be worth checking out. The Gran Reserva will be the one everybody want but for me its the Montecristo Petit No.2. I love the normal No.2 so hopefully this will be as good although their was rumours of a new blend.

Finally all future Montecristo's will now be sporting a new band and it looks great.

So that's it from me for now. Hopefully it wont be as long before my next post. Enjoy the Pics.

Hollywood and I on my last night

Bday Cigars

Valentines Present

Bday Present - Leather Travel Humidor

Cigars from Cigar G and Jose Blanco

Cigars from Cigar Chat and Paul Stulac

Partagas Culebras Box

Three Coffins

Partagas Culebras- The Cigar(s)

Trinidad Fundadores

House blend from La Maraleja Restaurant in Cuba - Delish

H.Upmann Petit Corona

Cohiba Maduro 5 Secrectos

Man O War Side Project Little Devil
Cigar Aficionado Magazine

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Top 25 Cigars of 2012

With all the furore, excitement and debate surrounding Cigar Aficionado's Top 25 Cigars of 2012  I decided to do my own list. Only three Cubans are included in their list and seeing that I have little or no access to the other twenty two Cigars, I thought I would compile my personal favourites of 2012.

Bearing in mind that at the start of the year I was a complete novice. I had no idea of the rituals, etiquette or do's and don'ts when it comes to truly enjoying a 100% hand rolled Cigar. Throughout 2012 I have smoked a lot, and I mean A LOT of Cigars. Some were just OK, others I will try again and some were downright terrible. Compiled below are the Top 25 Cigars that I really loved.

My list was mainly decided on smoking experience  With a few of the Cigars included, I was overwhelmed by the flavours of Chocolate, Ceder, Coffee etc.. There are also Cigars included that I couldn't find a flavour if it was on a chart in front of me yet I still enjoyed smoking. I have also included Cigars that I have enjoyed because of the situation or surroundings I was in at the time of smoking each Cigar.

Finally I have included the Cigars I truly love, the Cigars that you don't have to pay attention to, the Cigars you enjoy while sitting around with friends, enjoying good company and solving the worlds problems. The Cigars that you hold in your hand, sitting back after hearing a good joke or story or maybe you're contemplating a though or idea and only breaking the silence to say
"This is a good Cigar"

Enjoy my List!!!!

1.Montecristo EL 2012 Grand Robusto

From the first draw of my first ever Monte El 2012 I fell in love with it. Full of Chocolate and Coffee and ending with a nice spice. This Cigar is Lush from start to finish and worthy of my Number one Cigar of 2012

2.Trinidad Fundadores

Sixteen years ago this was the rarest Cigar in the world. Only handed out by Castro to visiting diplomats. Thankfully it was released to the public in 1998. I love this Cigar!! Elegant and full of flavour it is a pleasure to smoke at any time or any occasion. If it hadn't been for my first experience with the Monte El 2012 this would have been my No.1 Cigar of 2012.

3.Vegas Robiana Unicos

A Go-To Cigar for me if I had enough of them. The VR Unicos seems to take on the flavour profile of whatever you are eating or drinking at the time and amazingly complements it. Well worthy of its place in the Top 3.

4.Partagas Series P No.2

This is my Go-To Cigar. A powerful spicy stick that never disappoints.

5.Jose Blanco 5 Wrapper Cigar

The Fudadores may have been the rarest Cigar in the World in 1997. This is probably the current one. Made by Joya de Nicaragua solely for Jose Blanco's Wrapper Seminars. I was lucky enough to be sent one and participated in the seminar online. A fantastic smoke made all the better as Jose talks you through the characteristics of each wrapper and the effect it has on the blend. If you get the opportunity to smoke this Cigar don't pass it up. I may never smoke another in my lifetime.

6.Partagas 898

I sampled my first 898 in Havana and it was that good I went out and bought a box. Typical Partagas spice and with a smaller ring gauge that brings out more elegant flavours than the P2

7.Cohiba Siglo V

Cohiba is a brand that I tend to overlook. Probably the most well known brand in the world and a price tag that matches. I wont buy a Cigar just because it is a Cohiba. The Siglo V may have changed all of that. I have tried the Robusto, Esplendido's and a few of the Siglo range. None compared to the Siglo V. Again, a smaller ring gauge cigar, full of flavour that I now recognise as Cohiba. I just may have been converted.

8.Montecristo No.2

Another Go-To Cigar for me. Milder than the P2 but doesn't fall down on flavour. A great afternoon smoke with friends. You can light a Monte 2 and on each occasion you know exactly what you will get. Probably the most consistent Cigar I have ever smoked.

9.Romeo y Julieta No.1
I had smoked so many large ring gauge cigars in 2012 that the though of smoking another was putting me off. I needed a small, short, pleasant smoke for those evening when a 50+ Cigar was too much effort. I found this baby and have never looked back. I love it so much that I think I will be buying a box as soon as I can.

10.Montecristo Petit Edmundo

Like a few others, this Cigar is placed largely on my first experience  I had just finished off a large meal and a few glasses of wine. I sat back, lit up the Petit Edmundo and lost myself for almost an hour. Any I have had since the first have also been top notch.

11.H. Upman Magnum 50

I dont smoke many H.Upmans and I sit here wondering why not. It is a brand I always forget to buy and based on the Magnum 50 I must be mad. A smooth rich easy smoke. Creamy and spicy at the same time. I really should try some more.

12.Grafton Reserve Salomon

This is a cigar I smoked early on in the year.  One of the Decent Cigar Emporium's own blends and it is delicious. When you walk into a Cigar Store and are faced with the array beautifully decorated bands and boxes its easy to forget the un-banded gem in the corner.

13.Partagas Series D No.4

Before I discovered the P2 this was my Go-To Partagas. I still love it. A small fat stick than never disapoints. Apparently the best selling Cigar coming out of Cuba today.

14.Ramon Allones El 2011 Allones Extra

Another Cigar that I tried for the first time while in Cuba. I smoked it in the idyllic surroundings of the Hotel National's terraced area in Havana. It looked great, a nice shiny oily wrapper had me excited and the taste didn't let me down either.

15.Macanudo Vintage 2000

My first Macanudo Vintage was smoked on the Champs Elysees in Paris. I loved it. I have had a few since and each one has been as good. A nice treat when you can get them.

16.Padron 6000

I picked up a couple of these one day without even thinking. I love a torpedo and they looked good. No more thought went into it. Thankfully it was a great choice. I have been told that there are better Padrons on the market. If they are better than the 6000 I will have to pick some up.

17.Trinidad Reyes

A lovely morning Cigar is what I was informed about the Reyes. Morning, Lunch, Afternoon, Night, having a shower, I dont care. This Cigar is good at any time. Typical Trinidad. Smooth and full of flavour.

18.Ramon Allones Specially Selected

I don't know if I would call this a Go-To Cigar. What it is for me is a Cigar I reach for when I cant make up my mind what to smoke. If I spend too long routing through my humidor I will just give up and smoke a RASS. I have never had a bad one.

19.Arturo Fuente Hemingway Work of Art

Doesn't it look great. No matter what anyone tells you, most Cigar choices are based on appearance and this cigar smoked as good as it looked. I had mixed experiences when it comes to Fuente Cigars. The Ugliest looking Cigar I have ever smoked was a Fuente Cuban Corona, however the WOA was superb.

20.Bolivar Belicoso Fino

Bolivar, like Cohiba, has a stigma attached to its brand. The most powerful Cuban you can smoke, only for the true aficionado, novice beware. In someways its true, they can blow your socks off however I found the Belicoso Fino to be bordering just below Full body. Be careful of the cut though, too little and it will be very harsh, too much and you risk losing your Cigar.

21.Montecristo Edmundo

The Big brother to the Petit Edmundo. Same flavour profile and just as good. I favour the Petit purely because as soon as you light it you are into the "Sweet Spot" of the Cigar. The Edmundo is on par, you just have to wait that little bit longer.

22.Davidoff Classic Special R

Ahh the Special "R". This Cigar will always have my affection as it was my "Starter" Cigar when I took up my journey. Subtle and very creamy. How could you not like it?

23.Davidoff Short Perfecto

Like the WOA it looks fantastic. Davidoff are a fantastic brand and when I want a change of pace from a spicy Cigar, I would reach for one.  I picked up a small pack of these in the Airport. A pleasure to smoke but I need to smoke more to get a real feel for them. They differ from the Special "R" because as well as all the creaminess coating your tongue there is a bit of a spicy kick that follows.

24.Punch Double Corona

I have not got into Long Cigars (Lonsdales aside) purely because I dont have the time to dedicate to smoking them. I dont see the point in lighting one if you are not going to enjoy it to the end. In saying that, I have had a few of these and they were very pleasent. You just need to give it the time it deserves.

25.Romeo y Julieta Short Churchill

This Cigar puzzles me. I could light one tonight and say its the best Cigar I ever had, light another next week and say its the worst. It barely made the list but I decided to include it for one reason. If you get a good one, you will love it!!

Sunday 6 January 2013

Happy New Year!!

January the 6th is called Little Christmas in Ireland.

It is also the 12th Day of Christmas. On this day the Decorations come down as it is said to be bad luck to take them down earlier; It is traditionally the end of the school holidays for all the kids; Another tradition states that any food left over from Christmas Day should be thrown out today. It worries me that people would still be eating leftovers eleven days after it was cooked.

So the Mrs dismantled the tree and packed it up for another year. Christmas ended well before today for the two of us. The Mrs was back in work on the 27th Dec and I was back on the 28th. Last year we spent Christmas in Paris with the Byrnes. We had a great time and apart from a few Christmas Markets it didn't feel very festive. This year in Dublin was the same.

Christmas Day was spent in the In-laws and Boxing Day (St.Stephens Day) was spent with the Byrnes. The 27th we met the Byrnes again for a few sociables in the city center.

The Byrnes, due to their new arrival, had not had a night out in almost a year. A few Long Island Ice Tea's later that fact was evident. A nice relaxing night ended up with the Byrnes parting company slightly drunk and very tired, or the other way around, i'm not sure!! Maybe next time the will listen to me and go for a nice meal before hand!!!!

It was back to the grindstone after that for everyone and especially me in the lead up to New Years Eve. For the 4th year in a row, Hollywood and I watched the (Now) world famous balloon drop in the Church Bar, hugged each other (In a manly way... was!!!) and quietly contemplated what 2013 had in store.

The week just passed has seen me back in the day job as well as working the door. My cigar smoking has been very muted due to the weather as well as being far too tired to really enjoy a good smoke. I had a Macanudo Vintage 2000 on Christmas night and a Sosa Churchill on one of the other nights.

I followed them two cigars up with another two when I met Hollywood during the week. We met up for "one or two"  and about eight pints of Guinness later I had smoked a Tatuaje Mini Mum and a Ramon Allones Specially Selected.

I received a parcel in the post the next morning. Three fantastic Cigars from somebody in the states. The only problem was that I didn't have a clue who they were from. A lot of hours googling and tweeting later I found out they were sent by one of my fellow BOTL (Brother of the Leaf) @MattSRoss81. Thanks again for them!!

So that just leaves me to say I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and make sure to have a prosperous and healthy New Year. Just remember, It is a new year, a clean sheet, a blank diary. The only person stopping you from doing what you want is YOU!!!

Tatuaje Mini Mum

Sosa Churchill


Macanudo Vintage 2000

Cigars recieved from @MattSRoss81

Thursday 27 December 2012

A Christmas Catch Up

A Merry Christmas to everyone and apologies for the lack of Blog posts. It has been crazy over here!!

I will give you a brief update starting where we left off, our return from Cuba.

I met Hollywood for a long arranged post-Cuba cigar night. Cigars were smoked, cocktails were consumed and little did I know, I wouldn't have many more nights like that for a while.

Next up was the Blog Awards. I was one of the finalist's in the Best Mobile Compatible Blog. I went, I didn't win but I had a great night and met some great people especially the two behind the following great blogs, Me, Mine and Other Bits and Worth Doing Badly. Real names are omitted due to legal reasons!!!

The next bit of news was the biggest of the year. The Byrnes had a baby boy called Leon. Thank Higgs Boson it was a boy as I will be the Godfather and I don't think a girl would appreciate being dragged to watch football matches.

Speaking of Football. I am now the Manager of the team I joined in the summer, South William St. Celtic FC. We wont be taking on the European stage anytime soon but we are holding our own. I could dedicate a whole other blog to their antics so I wont delve further into it here.

My New Humidor also arrived during my blogging break. It is a Adorini Habana Deluxe. It holds around 300 cigars spread among a removable tray and space for boxes of cigars. 

The humidor was needed immediately as I had to store my Cuban cigars and the packages I received in the post. Most notably from Logan Lawlor. First of all he added a few extra cigars to the 3 pack of Monte Pascals that I won on #CigarChat and then, just before Christmas  I received another fantastic bundle of Cigars from him. 

I love getting cigars from the US as the majority of sticks I receive cannot be bought over her. That is the reason when I spotted that Buttheads were doing an offer on boxes of Tatuaje Little Monsters I just had to get one. Kevin is a great guy over there and is always eager to help even though shipping to Ireland is not a common thing for him. I was saddened to hear about the School Shooting that was so close to them and must have effected many of their customers family and friends. 

On a lighter note, a very good friend of mine, Mr.Black, has found love. I met him many years ago as a young, wet behind the ears, naive but eager young fellow. As he hailed from the same part of the country as me I took him under my wing and showed him the ways of the world. It up for debate how worldly my knowledge is but he has turned out alright and just recently proposed to his, now, fiance. I wish them both the best of look in the future.

So with a wedding on the horizon  a godson to spoil and with Christmas around the corner I ended up taking on another job. A friend of mine is owner of a very successful restaurant in Dublin city center. He needed staff, I needed the money, It was only logical that I accepted. It is polar opposite to my regular job of standing on a door  but working both funnily gives me an appreciating for the other (if that makes sense)

That brings me to my absence  Working early mornings in the restaurant, late nights on the door and football in between has seriously hampered my cigar smoking, tweeting, #CigarChats etc.. On the plus side my Cigar collection has grown dramatically.

I did however find a few hours one of the evening to join the crew at their Christmas Herf. Smoking cigars with like minded Cigar enthusiasts is always a good thing and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I had to leave early, (work in the morning), however I ended bringing home a couple of fantastic cigars, one of which was a custom roll by Hamlet, one of the best torcedors to come out of Cuba. 

Before I knew it Christmas was upon me. Running around Dublin city center looking for presents is no easy task yet I got it done well before my usual panic of shopping on Christmas Eve. The Mrs outdone herself as well. This year I received a very nice selection of cigars along with a bottle of Middleton Barry Crocket. 

That kind of brings you all up to date. If I have forgotten anything or anyone I am truly sorry. I will also en-devour to keep my updates as regular as I can. A New Years Resolution if you will.

Anyway, I hope you all are enjoying the festivities and have a great time over Christmas. I will see you all in the New Year.

The Blog Awards

Little Leon

My New Humidor

#CigarChat Bundle from Logan

Christmas Bundle from Logan

Little Monsters from Buttheads

Inside the Box

Cigars from the Herf

Christmas Present from the Mrs - Cigars

New addition to the family

Christmas Present from the Mrs - Whiskey

Christmas Present from the Mrs - Book

From the Byrnes