31 May 2009
30 May 2009
- Be made from at least 51% corn
- Distilled to not more than 160 proof
- Aged in new white oak barrels, the inside of which are charred
- Not barreled at greater than 125 proof
- Be aged at least two years in order to be called Straight Bourbon
- If the age is displayed on the label, it must be the age of the youngest bourbon in the barrel (applies to mixed / batch bourbons)
29 May 2009
I tried a new imperial stout today (new to me anyway), Black hole Stout brewed with coffee by the Danish brewery Mikkeller. It was very dark with a chocolaty-brown head and a very nice, sweet, malty nose. It had a very dominant bitter-chocolate taste that carried on throughout. After a few sips though, I did detect notes of black coffee. Eventually the bitterness might border on the overwhelming for some but if you are into craft beers, especially the dark side like me, its definitely worth trying. It is 13.1% ABV according to the label but I read a review that claimed it is actually 14%, but what's .9%??? The alcohol content was not at all overbearing though and I enjoyed this beer.
28 May 2009
For those of you who really enjoy an imperial stout, this is a great one. I recently had the opportunity to try THE CZAR Imperial Stout from the Avery Brewing Company. Right away you can see the pitch-black color which develops into a nice, thick brown head. Even when held up to a light, this brew could not be seen through. It has a very pleasant and complex nose with several different notes, some obvious, others you have to hunt for. I spent several minutes just enjoying the aroma. The central aroma that I detected was what I think is sweet molasses. The first sip did not disappoint, the flavor was complex and pleasant. Be advised, this a strong one, expect to feel a slight euphoria after drinking this one
23 May 2009
I took the opportunity today to try the next in the new XIKAR HC SERIES, the Criollo. It is made with a Nicaraguan Shade Grown Criollo wrapper, Nicaraguan Sun Grown Corojo binder, and Honduran and Nicaraguan fillers. It had a slightly toothy, attractive brown wrapper which I would put somewhere around a Colorado-Rosado with a very pleasant aroma. I made a punch cut and tested the draw which was excellent. Another easy light and even burn with nice smoke and ash color. The ash held on until approximately half way through again and fell off on its own with traces of the veins evident in the ash. The flavor started off smooth and progressed into a mild to medium spiciness throughout. All in all a consistent, enjoyable medium-bodied smoke.
21 May 2009
I recently became the owner of the first box in the United States of a new line of cigars developed by XIKAR and Jesus Fuego. XIKAR (manufacturers of some of the finest luxury tobacco accoutrements on the market) and Jesus Fuego (world famous Master Blender) have combined their skill and “love of the leaf” to create a new line of cigars called the XIKAR HC SERIES (Havana Collection).
The claro wrapper was very attractive with a smooth and silky feel and no visible flaws. The body was appropriately firm with no soft spots and a very pleasant, slightly sweet aroma. I made a straight cut using a pair of XIKAR scissors and then tested the draw, which was excellent. It was very obvious already that this was an exceptionally well-made cigar. No surprises there…
The cigar lit effortlessly and burned without any problems. I did not have to re-light or burn the wrapper a single time. It started off very smooth and left a pleasant taste on the lips. The smoke was attractive with a nice bluish-grey color. The ash, which had a nice color as well, was firm and dense and held on until the cigar was half-way through before falling off on its own, another indication of quality. These smoking qualities remained exceptional throughout; however, as it progressed it began to develop a sort of bitter, unpleasant taste, which hung in the middle of the tongue. This taste kept up completely through the finish and remained for approximately 30 – 45 minutes after I had finished smoking. This surprised me because XIKAR and Jesus Fuego equal high quality so other factors must be taken into account. Could that cigar have been a fluke; had I eaten or drank something earlier which either lingered or altered the pH in my mouth; was it the environment (I was in a cigar club where many people were all smoking different selections at the same time)? It required a second and a third smoke on different days under more controlled conditions.
The second and third time the bitter, unpleasant taste was not present but all the exceptional qualities were. Once again a smooth start followed by a creamy mouth-feel. Part way through some spiciness was detected on the back of the tongue. As the cigar progressed, there was a little more spiciness, which continued on to a slightly peppery finish.
As stated by XIKAR, it was a little stronger than what you would expect from a traditional Connecticut Shade but not at all in an unpleasant way. While it wasn’t exactly what I prefer, it is important to remember that taste is highly subjective. A friend of mine who is a highly respected tobacconist thought it was great. The quality of this cigar was undeniable and I look forward to smoking the Criollo and the Habano Colorado so stand by. Overall, I would say it was a mild to medium cigar and an enjoyable smoke.
I wish you Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.