Monday, 28 May 2012

Cigars, Culture and Conversation

We arrived out in Dundrum on Wednesday afternoon. The Sun was high in the sky, Mr.Byrne survived his first LUAS trip unscathed, the Mrs went of the do a bit of shopping and the two Daves and I were on our way to the Port House for an Evening of Cigars and Whiskey hosted by James Fox

We traversed through a very busy restaurant to the outdoor decking area at the back. We were greeted with a nice glass of Cava, there was already a decent crowd, we found a nice seat and the Cubans were presented and inspected.

Diamond Dave had brought his new favourite cigar, The Partagas Series P No.2. He is a quick smoker and enjoys spending no more than 30-40 mins smoking a nice spicy cigar. Even with its 52 ring gauge, this cigar suits him down to the ground. Mr.Byrne was presented with a Bolivar Gold Medal. He was warned that it was a very strong cigar that appealed to the more seasoned smoker. He scoffed, I conceded, and I gave him the cigar. Hours later, as I was leaving, I noticed a cigar beside the ashtray where we sat. A Bolivar Gold Medal, barely half of it smoked!!!!

Speaking of the Ashtray. I have recently connected with a guy called "Stinky" on Twitter. A fellow BOTL, hailing from Las Vegas (I think), he developed and sells the most practical and stylish Cigar ashtrays I have seen. I have looked to buy an ashtray that accommodates four cigars in Dublin. You can get them but they are not cheep. They range from about €50/60 upwards and you will have to empty the ash at regular intervals to keep them practical.

To my surprise as we sat at our table, there in front of my was my ideal ashtray. A big bulbous pot to collect ash, matches, Cigar rings and whatever else, situated below four lovely beveled stays for your cigars. On the side, I found a logo, "Stinky Cigars". could this be the guy I have been tweeting. Turns out it was. The cigar world can be a very close community at times. Check out what I am talking about at Stinky's Website
I was enjoying the Cohiba Siglo VI for the first time. It is Diamond Daves go to Cigar so I had to try it. If I am honest I didn't pay much attention to the Siglo VI. I was puffing away in between the conversations, drink and food. What I will say, however, with everything going on around me I didn't have to worry about my cigar once. I was puffing away, the cigar was burning perfectly, I was enjoying it, and all without having to pay attention to it. Mark of a good cigar in my books. I will certainly pick up some more and give them the attention they deserve.

In between the haze of Cigar smoke came the Whiskeys. We sampled five different types on the night. Not a major whiskey fan myself I was surprised at the smoothness and flavour of the drinks, unlike the harshness I am used to whenever I had tried whiskey before.

We sampled:
Mitchell's Green Spot
Middleton Barry Crockett
Powers John Lane
Mitchell's Yellow Spot

Apparently, all were Pot Still Whiskeys and all supplied by Irish Distillers. I know very little about whiskeys but the guy presenting each one was very informative and I enjoyed the samples. My favourite of the them all was the Middleton Barry Crockett. It was like drinking honey, fantastic. I had resolved myself to buy a bottle until I heard the price. €190 a bottle!! Needless to say I wont be picking up a bottle anytime soon.

Whiskey flowing, Tapas served, palates tantalised it was time for the Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchill. David from James Fox gave a brief talk before the Cigars were handed out and promptly lit. The cigar had a nice feel in my hand and burned well. Once again I got caught up in conversation, this time with Rob Fox, to concentrate on the cigar. Luckily, Mr.Byrne, who was looking a bit green at this stage, gave me his cigar. I will try that one evening and take my time with it.

I had a great chat with Rob Fox about Cigars, Cigars culture in Ireland, Cuba and a lot more. It is great to meet like minded people and talk about your passion. Even if you enjoy the occasional Cigar I would recommend to enjoy it with other Cigar smokers. This was the first event of its kind that I have attended but it certainly wont be the last. I cant wait for the next one and I hope I wont have too either.

A truly wonderful evening of Cigars, Culture and Conversation.

The Ashtray

Cohiba Siglo VI on the go

RyJ Wide Churchill

Closer look

Friday, 25 May 2012

Rushing and Relaxing

The sun is shining, music on in the background, the weekend is here and it all means one thing.....I have to go to work and its going to be busy!!

I cant complain though. The couple of days since my last post have been very eventful, well Wednesday was anyway. Yesterday was all about recovery.

Wednesday started of nice and relaxed. I woke up, the Sun was high in the sky, Coffee was brewing and I lit my first Cigar of the day. A Trinidad Reyes. It was the perfect smoke to start the day. 45 minutes or so of pure pleasure. It was moreish and I smoked it down until I was burning my fingers. Fantastic.

Next I was off to James Fox's to collect my prize I had won through Facebook the previous evening. Two tickets to the Jameson Distillery. A tour of the building along with a Whiskey tasting. I had a pleasant chat with David in the store about all things Cuban but unfortunately I had to cut it short as I was in a rush.

Tickets in hand I was belting it up Nassau St, past Merrion Sq and towards Haddington Rd. The details of what transpired over the following few hours will have to remain confidential however suffice to say I could give the whole Law thing a bash if ever I had a few hundred grand and 7-8 years to spare. I left a very happy man.

With business out of the way I was free to enjoy the rest of the day, and what a day it was. I suppose like anywhere in the world, Dublin is a different city when the sun shines. People seem happier, the streets are busier and in general there is a great buzz.

My buzz was about to get better (or was it) as the Mrs and I made our way towards Smithfield and the Jameson distillery. We entered the reception area and joined the queue only to be told that the final tour of the day had been sold out. Not one to be denied, I marched ( well, sneaked unassumingly) up to reception as the lady was dealing with the last lucky customers. Once she finished, I produced my "James Fox" tickets and after a moment of panic/confusion she manged to "fit us in" on the last tour. Result!!

The tour lasted an hour or so. It was enjoyable and informative however I felt it was a little bit rushed. Maybe because it was the final one of the day. I didn't mind as we were lucky to be there in the first place and secondly, I arranged to meet the two Daves at 6pm and I was running late. When the tour ends, you are invited to sample the Jameson Whiskey and a luck few get to do a Whiskey tasting. We were one of the lucky few.

The Whiskey tasting involves comparing Jameson, a triple distilled Whiskey, against a Scotch (blended) and an American (Single Distilled) Whiskey. It is fun, you get to sample three Whiskeys and after it all you get a certificate declaring you a Qualified Whiskey Taster.

Already late, we were now on our way up to St. Stephens Green to meet the two Daves in Sinnotts. We were meeting up before making our way out to the Port House, Dundrum, where we would attend an evening of Whiskey and Cigars run by James Fox.

 The evening deserves a whole post of its own, which I might do tonight after work. So until then, Enjoy the Sun!!

The Reyes

I didn't want to stop

The Mrs at Jameson

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Non-Cuban, Non-Starters?

Its Tuesday night, I am in a Meatloaf and Mac & Cheese induced food coma, I just lit a Primo de Cuba Rothschild Honduran Cigar, and now I am two lines into my latest blog entry!!

I have had very few cigars over the last nine days. The one I smoking at the moment is only my fourth. I am still getting through the cigars I received from the states. I bought them at Cigar Auctioneer and they are all Non-Cuban. In the spirit of honesty, I think I was duped.

I have outlined what I though of each in previous posts as I sampled each different brand, however, in retrospect, they are average cigars. I have only had one of each so I may be wrong. I thought I was getting a good deal but I suppose you get what you pay for. They are definitely not up to Cuban standards.

Now don't get me wrong, I am not trash talking the Non-Cubans, merely stating that the ones I purchased are not great. I have had some great Non-Cubans in my time. I primarily smoked Davidoffs when I started my cigar journey, I have had fantastic Macanudo Vintage 2000's, I have even had great Bauza's.

Over the last nine days I have had:

Arturo Fuente Cuban Corona : Probably the ugliest cigar I have ever held and it smoked how it looked. I didn't finish it.
La Riqueza No.4 : This wasn't  bad. A Nicaraguan Puro and you could tell.
Imperial Toro : I concentrated on this cigar a lot, then a bit more, and a bit more. It never changed, not once
Primo de Cuba Rothschild : I'm smoking it as I type, probably not giving it the attention I should, although I am not sure if it deserves it.

A lot is said about where you are, what you have eaten, what mood you're in etc..when it comes to smoking cigars. Maybe I am not giving these a fair shout. All I know is when I look in my Non-Cuban humidor there are only two brands that excite me. I smoked them, I enjoyed them.

The Alec Bradley MAXX The Fix and the Pinar Del Rio Seleccion Reserva Limitado.

>beer break<

Now, after chatting to some of my Brothers Of The Leaf (BOTL - I only figured that out the other day) from over the pond(on Twitter), most notably @NJLeakester, there is a world of fantastic Non-Cubans. The Rocky Patels, Alec Bradley (other than the Fixx) and 5 Vegas Gold to name a few. So I wont give up just yet.

The plus side of the whole saga is that if I feel its not working, I can always go to my Cuban humidor and pick out a nice Cohiba Siglo VI, Partagas Series P No. 2, Trinidad Fundadores or whatever I feel like enjoying.

Almost Finished my cigar now. Verdict: Average

Ugliest Cigar Ever

Nicaraguan Puro

Imperial Toro

PdC Rothschild

Friday, 18 May 2012

45 Seconds Of Hope

Sunday morning I awoke with a sense of hope. In only a few hours I was to watch the last Premier League game of the 2011/12 season. 90 minutes would decide who would prevail as the top team in England but more importantly the top team in Manchester. Well, for a year at least!!

The Mrs and I walked towards Buskers. It was a sunny afternoon, the streets were busy and people were going about their business. I was shocked! Did these people not understand what was about to take place? Did they not care? Did they not understand?

On the walk over and especially when we entered the bar I was amazed with the amount of sky blue replica jerseys. Where did all these c(sh)itty supporters appear from. Maybe they were all Chelski supporters a few years ago.

I must let you all know before we go forward that I have not been to Old Trafford since the Glazers have taken charge. I am off the belief that they are bleeding the club dry for their own personal gain. I succumb to the "Green and Gold 'till we're sold" brigade.

We had the best seats in the house. Big screen in from of us and the "other" game on a smaller one behind us. Brown Bear, Ste, Doran, Monkies and his new squeeze all came in to join us. Kick off was moments away and I felt as if I was about to play myself!

Throughout the following 90 minutes(not including half time) both teams jostled for the top spot. United were top, then c(sh)itty scored. As it stood they would be champions.

QPR equalised, putting United top again. If dreams came true what happened next was right up there. QPR scored again, taking the lead. c(sh)itty would need 2 goals to win the league and there was only 10 minutes remaining.

The final whistle went in the United game. They were champions, right?

QPR had a man sent off (Joey Barton) earlier in the game. The melee that followed his dismissal meant that there was 5 minutes injury time in the c(sh)itty game. As the United game finished Edwin Dzeco scored an equaliser for the blue side of Manchester.

It was OK though. United were still on top. c(sh)itty needed to score again and time was running out. Against all odds QPR had done the impossible and United were going to be champions. 45 seconds later it was all over. I had my head in my hands and it felt like the stomach had been ripped out of me. c(sh)itty scored with the last kick of the game. They were champions. I was SICK!!!

The rest of the day involved many bars and even more drink. I managed to slip in a Bolivar Belicosos Finos somewhere while I was drowning my sorrows. I remember enjoying it. It was a pleasant break in a day that contained many extreme highs and lows.

I suppose that why I love football. We have the European Championships in a few weeks, followed by the Olympics, however none can compare with the excitement and adrenaline that goes hand in hand with the English Premier League.

Roll on August so we can start it all over again.


Monday, 14 May 2012

A Diamond Birthday

The week started as well as I could have wanted. Bank Holiday Monday and a day in front of the TV. We eventually got out of bed sometime after 3 o'clock and that was to run to the shops and be back in time for Harry Potter. Snacks purchased, I commandeered the sofa for the rest of the day. Movies and food all day                         made me a happy bunny.

Tuesday I was back to work but I was there in body only. I had a meeting Wednesday and left as soon as it finished. I was on the bus back into town to meet up with Diamond Dave to celebrate the 3rd anniversary of his 30th birthday. 

I popped into the Decent Cigar Emporium on my way to meet him and purchased a Cohiba Siglo VI to add to his present I had in hand (a Care Bear - Long story). I met DD in No Name Bar and gave him his presents. He had one for me as well, a very late Christmas present, A SKY torch lighter. 

It didn't take me long to put it to the test, lighting up my 1st cigar of the day, a Romeo y Julieta Escudos Limited Edition 2007. The wrapper had a slight crack but it didn't effect the taste whatsoever. It did look a bit comical half way through, almost like an exploding cigar from a cartoon. Once past the damaged section the burn evened out perfectly.

A few drinks, and a few more people later we headed across the road to the Market Bar for some Tapas. Actually, far too much Tapas. I was stuffed. The Market bar has redeveloped its upstairs function room into a very comfortable smoking area. I will defiantly be returning there.

At this point the weather had taken a turn for the worst so the closest option was to run to the Exchequer Bar. It was only my second time here. It was very busy but we eventually found ourselves seated in comfy leather sofas drinking strange but tasty cocktails.

The night was getting on now, the weather was getting worse, the Mrs wanted to dance and I wanted to smoke. Many bars were suggested, a taxi ride and much walking around in the rain later we ended up in Flannerys. Much is said about this bar but they have a nice smoking area with a real turf fire which was very welcoming to our cold and wet bodies.

It was in here I had my second cigar of the evening, a Punch Double Corona. By far the largest Cigar I have smoked to date. I have had it in my humidor since January and I was dying to smoke it. I was extremely smooth. I took my time enjoying every draw and ended up smoking it right down until I couldn't hold it anymore. Truly a delight.

Food, alcohol and cigars were taking there toll at this stage and as the rest of the group headed towards Copper Face Jacks, I was in a taxi home.

Thursday morning I didn't feel to bad but I am sure I would not have been allowed to operate heavy machinery. I didn't really do much or if I did I don't remember. I do remember finishing off my day with a Honduran cigar, the Bayamo Robusto. Oh and the Mrs brought me home a lovely surprise, The Illustrated History Of Cigars, which was nice. So cigar and book in hand it was a pleasant end to the day.

Friday and Saturday I was working on the door. Friday was quiet but Saturday was busy however both nights, as do most nights, presented me with moments that make me doubt the future of humanity. I just hope I am not as stupid when I am drunk!!! 

Sunday deserves a whole post of its own. I aged years in only 45secs. I am not up to writing about it yet!!

Punch Double Corona
PDC on the go

RyJ LE 2007

Bayamo Robusto (Honduran)
New Book
Out of Box
Display box
Cigar Punch at the bottom

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

A Week of Two Halves: Part 2

THURSDAY: The Mrs was off and the weather was OK so we decided to go for a stroll around town. I packed two cigars to take with me and off we went. I was extremely tired from the the previous few days and there wasn't much life in me. We spent most of the day bickering over where we were going to eat.

We ended up in Milanos(Pizza Express) in Temple Bar. Our starters were great. Polpette Meatballs and Milanos signature Dough balls. The Mrs is on a health kick so she ordered the Padana Leggera and I was in the mood for something spicy so opted for the Francesco Mazzei Calabrese.

My Pizza was fantastic, Spicy but not too hot, great size crispy rectangular pizza base with plenty of toppings. The Mrs wasn't as impressed. The menu claims her pizza comes with a hole filled with healthy salad. It looked more like she got the crust of a pizza with a few salad leaves and tomatoes thrown in. She ate it all the same!!

The Dessert menu wasn't the best and the Mrs had cream buns on the brain so we paid he bill and sauntered up to a bakery I know on Thomas St. A decent walk for a cream bun but we didn't mind. Coffee slice in hand we made our way home again. I attempted to smoke a cigar on the way home but it ended up very badly. I didn't light it correctly and the stick tunneled on me. Nobody to blame but myself!!

Later on that night I made up for the disappointment of the tunneled cigar by smoking two more. I started off with a La Floridita Toro which was very mild and creamy. I then braved the Alec Bradley MAXX The Fix which is a big meaty cigar.

I have enjoyed the non-Cubans so far but have not been overwhelmed. They are fresh from their travels so I am going to let them sit in the humidor and settle for a while and see if they improve. I hope so because I have 20-odd more to smoke.

FRIDAY / SATURDAY: Worked on the door and it was freezing. Somebody told me it was officially summer now. Try telling that to a doorman standing in zero degrees, probably less with the wind chill.

SUNDAY: Back to the football. I went out to the in-laws in Dundrum to watch the United vs Swansea game. On the way out on the Luas I got the news that c(sh)ity had beat Newcastle 2-0. United ended up winning by the same result so the week ended the way it started. c(sh)ity doing what they needed to do and United not doing enough!!

Here is hoping and praying that miracles can happen next Sunday.

Alec Bradley MAXX The Fix

La Floridita Toro

Sunday, 6 May 2012

A Week of Two Halves: Part 1

MONDAY: The most important Derby game in recent years was about to kick off. I was in Buskers Bar with Ste B and Mr. Withero. 105mins later I needed to drown my sorrows. United lost 1-0 and virtually handed the league to c(sh)ity.

Normally I would have stormed home and there would be no speaking to me for days after losing a game of that importance. I wanted too, believe me, however I had asked the lads to come into town so I wasn't going to abandon them.

Many pints and Morgan Spice later we ended up in Coppers (yes, we were that drunk). For any one who doesn't know Copper Face Jacks (Coppers) is the place nobody admits to going to yet it is packed 7 nights a week.

TUESDAY: Strangely enough, I didn't wake up too bad although I did have a missed call from the post man re: my cigar delivery that I mentioned in my previous post. Tuesday was spent ringing around trying to locate my parcel. It was also a shocker of a day weather wise so I was quiet happy to stay indoors.

WEDNESDAY: I got a call to inform me where to go to collect the cigars, the An Post collection depot in Kilbarrack. Now lets get something out of the way. I have lived in Dublin since 1999 after moving from Donegal. I live in the City Center and pride myself in knowing my way around. Actually when it comes to City Center I am probably more knowledgeable than most Dubs. As soon as I leave the comfort zone of Dublin 1 & 2 its a different story.

I made my way down to Tara St. Station to get the Dart. I didn't know what train to get or what platform it left from. I got off at the wrong stop, got lost, made my way back to the station, waited 12mins for the next train only to find out the next stop was a couple of hundred yards up the track, Got off at the correct station, got lost again, eventually found the depot, made my way back to the train station and then looked like a terrorist all the way back home as I was sweating after my excursion while also holding a brown package. Plus side, no body sat beside me and I finally had my cigars

I got home and unpacked them, inspected them and placed them in my humidor. I was itching to smoke one so I got young Matt to call over and we headed for the Morgan Hotel. We both had a Famous VSL Honduran. I enjoyed mine but poor Matt was going green. A newbie to cigars like my self albeit a few months behind he made it half way through the full bodied cigar before giving up.

Later that evening I tried a second cigar from my new stash. It was a Pinar Del Rio Seleccion Robusto. Once again it was an enjoyable cigar but there is a remarkable difference when it comes to Cubans. I was missing them already!!

Famous VSL Honduran

PDR Seleccion Robusto

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Only Fools and Horses

No Income Tax, No know how the rest goes.

I ordered a load of cigars from the States a couple of weeks ago. I was using an auction site that is part of the Famous Smoke Shop. After confirming CC details and shipping costs my cigars were on the way. Something I neglected to take into consideration was Customs. It had never crossed my mind and after doing a bit of research I started to get worried.

According to the Revenue import rules I was allowed to receive 10 cigars without any added taxes. I had 29 cigars on the way. On the excess there are 3 duties.

1. Excise Duty: This is charged at €271.337 per Kilo of Cigars
2. VAT: This is charged at 21% on the value of the goods including any other taxes
3. Customs Duty: This is charged at 2.5% on the total of everything including P&P.

(4.) An Post also add a flat rate of €6 on any goods charged at customs.

Needless to say, as I was 19 cigars over the limit, I was worried. What started off as a good deal may end up costing me a lot of money.

I had been out drinking on Monday night (more of that in the next post) so when I got a call from a blocked number the next morning I was not rushing to answer the phone. Bad mistake. It was the post man with my cigars and I missed him.

Many hours later, still not feeling the best, the search was on for my cigars. Long story short they were shipped around Dublin all day and ended up in Kilbarrack which is not close to me. I eventually got them today(another story for the next post). I arrived at the depot, cash in hand, fearing the worst, and to my surprise there was no extra charge.

Customs had opened the parcel, inspected what was inside, resealed it and sent it on its way with no extra charge. I always said that they were a good bunch.

I wont be using the aforementioned site again for a while. My passion is cigars but primarily Cuban. I now have plenty of non-Cubans to test out but I don't think I will ever prefer one over a Cuban Puro. I do intend to order more cigars of a different site but this time from a country within the EU. I already have my eye on a box of Partagas Culebras. It will be a while yet though, I have a lot of Cigars to smoke and not much room in my humidors.


Non-Cuban Humidor
It Barely Closed
Cubans and Non-Cubans