Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Macanudo Cru Royale Robusto - Wednesday, July 13th

I'll admit something, right here, right now. I'm not a huge fan of Macanudo. Well, let me be more specific, I'm not a fan of the old Macanudo. I've had the Cafe, the Robust, the Maduro, and the Gold and, for was less smoking a cigar and more sucking on a straw. They didn't pack a whole lot of flavor. I tried a few times on each and they just didn't do it for me. Try as I might, they were just wayyyyy too mild for me. To steal Yogi's thing, they're milder than your average cigar. And I like my cigars like I like my women: robust, full bodied, and with spirit.

I also like them older than me but that's here nor there.

Thus it was with great trepidation that, during the IPCPR last year, I learned that the Macanudo line was getting a new baby brother: the Macanudo Cru Royale. For me, I thought "fancy name, same-old same-old." I got a few samples of it at some point during the show and put it out of sight / out of mind. I knew I wasn't going to like it, it's a Mac.

I'm not a proud man. I'm not overly vain or egotistical. Hell, I'm not even humble. I'm borderline sadistic when it comes to promoting myself. I THRIVE on self-defacing humor. So it's easy for me to say this:

I was wholeheartedly WRONG.

This was an enjoyable cigar. I sparked it up again today and it reminded me how absolutely solid and in-line with my taste preferences it was. With no further ado, here he is, the Macanudo Cru Royale:

Look at 'im. Big, bold, and brash. A wrapper darker than a German film noir. It just screams "light me on fire!" So I did. Here's the notes:

First quarter: Surprising amount of complexity. It starts with a new leather taste; heavily tannic (in a good way). Woody too, oak. Spurts of nuttiness (peanut?)

Half way: Mainly that fresh leather flavor. Some hints of cinnamon in there too. Black tea as well. But predominantly leather. Complexity has definitely faded since the first quarter.

Third quarter: Intensity of the leather dies down. Dark chocolate. Velvety, almost creamy now. I get toast too. A buttered toast thing going on. Mmm.

Overally, a very solid addition to the Macanudo line. Is it the best cigar available? Can't say that, sorry. But is it a solid, enjoyable cigar that is available readily and for a decent (~$6.50) price? Sure is. Would I pick it up? Yes and no. Depends on my mood. If it had maintained the complexity of the first quarter throughout then I definitely would. However, I feel it stagnated towards the middle and didn't really recover the complexity it had at the beginning. So it would depend on what I'm doing. Frankly, this would be the -perfect- golf cigar for me (or any "smoking + activity" cigar). Tasty, enough complexity to keep me interested without diverting my attention, and easy to smoke more than one of in a sitting. So take it as you will.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wild Turkey 101 - Sunday, July 10th

Cheap bourbon is a fickle mistress. There are few bourbons that maintain both a low price and a palatable taste. Take for example Fighting Cock bourbon by Heaven Hill. It's a decent, six year old whiskey that clocks in at a healthy 103 proof. It's about, oh I dunno, $16~ish a liter. It is a decent bourbon for mixing but drinking it straight is a measure in sheer willpower. I'm not sure what it is but I can't drink that stuff neat no matter how much I try. And then there's Early Times. That's cheap and readily available. But I can't drink that in any fashion. It smells like corn soaked in paint thinner and tastes equally wretched. Budget bourbon is hard to come across and those that do find one jealously horde it.

For me, I have a broad range of cheap bourbons and, unlike some people, I'm willing to share. Fighting Cock and Buffalo Trace make it onto my bill of fare rather frequently and that's cool. But thanks to travel retail, I've found my favorite budget bourbon. Wild Turkey 101. Eight years old, 101 proof. It's a manly whiskey. It's got a kick like a mule and makes me think of the stuff they swilled down in Wild West taverns in the mid 1800s. But unlike that stuff, it tastes pretty damn good. And the best part? I'm equally comfortable mixing it (the higher proof holds well in a mint julep) and drinking it neat. Here she is in all of her bottled glory:

How does it look in the glass?

Looks miiiighty delicious. Here's the particulars:

Nose:  It smells like freshly hewn wood and corn oil. What must be a decent rye content gives some paprika and mustard powder-like spice. Busted, worn leather as well. Reminds me of the barn on my godparent's farm.

Taste: Honey and corn oil sweetness tempered with wood. Floral as well but I can't quite narrow down what it is. This fades to a robust vanilla and oak coupled with, strangely, a taste not unlike burnt ends from brisket. That mustardy/paprika rye taste is there too but buried deep. Finish is not warm, but biting and bracing like a bonfire on a chilly night.

When you can get a liter bottle of this for $20 at travel retail, you can't go wrong. This is the "girl next door" bourbon. Sure, there's prettier, fancier, more costly belles at the ball...but more often than not the best thing is something you've always overlooked. Although, frankly, I feel that way about just about all bourbon. There's your fancy scotch, your Japanese whisky, your Irish too. But that girl next door, that southern belle, always calls to me strongest. And I generally heed. Funny, that.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Guillermo Leon Signature Corona - Saturday, July 2nd

As you may or may not know, last year I had the extreme fortune of attending IPCPR thanks to Drew Estate. If you haven't seen the saga, check here. In short, I spent about 12 hours a day smoking my face off, carousing, and battling kidney infections all while bringing my adoring fans (read: no one) all the news that was fit to print. One of the gems that I got to smoke during the show was the Guillermo Leon Signature. Launched during the show, I had the great fortune to attend the launch party along with a bunch of other bloggers (like Barry of A Cigar Smoker). I smoked a few of these during the duration of the show and while different from what I normally smoked, I liked 'em. I brought one back home with me from the show to get decent pictures of and put a review up.

Then I moved to Scotland.

If you've never been to Scotland, I'd like to summarize the weather here. rains. A lot. In the winter, it is precipitation. There is no "chance" of it, it just happens. Every waking second. Sometimes it's rather mild out for winter, other times its cold. The spring and summer mixes things up delightfully though. It's either sunny out and bitingly cold and impossibly windy...or warm and raining. Thus, conditions for smoking cigars without having the cigar go out, canoe like a Chippewa, or make me miserable and cold. So I've had to wait until one of those rare, dice roll days when it's warm, sunny, and not overly windy. When one of those days decided to show up, I sparked this bad boy. So, without much further ado...

Beautiful, no? Let's see how this beauty stacks up in the smokage department.

 First quarter: Man, effortless draw on this thing. Smoke is thick and rich. Starts off with a worn leather couch taste and a gratuitous amount of white pepper and toasted nuts. Sweet and medium-ish flavor at this point.

Half way: Body kicks up. The leather recedes and this powerful black coffee flavor bursts through. This would be a killer cigar with a cup of coffee. Cedar and leather intermingle in the background.

Third quarter: Coffee recedes and it reverts to the leather and white pepper flavor but more intense than the first quarter. I'd put it at a solid medium in terms of flavor at this point.

Last quarter: Power picks up a bit in the last quarter as a mustard like spice comes in.

Damn good cigar. It has the complexity of the heavier body, full flavor cigars that I like but I could definitely cruise through a couple of these in a day and still enjoy each and every nuance. While not fitting into my preferred cigar flavor profile (LIGERO), it is a pleasant smoke that can stand up to a day's worth of smoking. I'd imagine, with the heavy, predominant flavor of coffee that this would pair well in the morning with a nice cup of drip coffee or even a cappuccino. Would I recommend this? Definitely. Complex but not overbearing, ideal for days where you want to smoke a lot, and at about $6-$7, it's a pretty solid buy.