17 January 2010

CIGAR REVIEW: Nestor Miranda Collection - Special Selection Rosado

I recently smoked the Nestor Miranda Collection - Special Selection Rosado with Mr. Rene Castaneda, Sales Director of Miami Cigar & Company.  This line was first introduced in 2007 and is named after the companies founder.  It is released in five vitolas in both Rosado and Oscuro: Robusto (5-1/2 x 52), Toro (6 x 60), Lonsdale, called the "Lancero" introduced in 2008 (7-1/2 x 40), Double Corona, called the "Danno" introduced in 2009 (7 x 56), and a Perfecto, called the "Ruky" also introduced in 2009 (5-5/8 x 52 figurado), costing around $8.00 each, give or take.  They are all hand-made in Esteli, Nicaragua under the supervision of Pepin Garcia.  Rene tells me the Rosados are mild to medium in body and the Oscuros are medium to full.  He hooked me up with a nice selection of each but for this review I smoked the Robusto and Perfecto - Rosado.

The Rosado is made with Nicaraguan and Dominican tripa, a Nicaraguan capote, and a Nicaraguan capa which was silky with nice veins, no apparent flaws, and colorado rosado in color.  It had a very pleasant and mild tobacco pre-light aroma, seemed well packed, and squeezed well.  I made a straight cut on each and tested the pre-light draw which on the Robusto was very smooth and easy; on the Perfecto was a bit tighter.  This is not at all unusual considering that the Perfecto vitola starts from a small opening in the foot, widens suddenly, and then reduces again toward the head.

They both lit very easily and almost right away the Perfecto's draw loosened up, certainly a result of skilled bunching.  They both started out with a nice, mild pepper / spice and the Perfecto seemed to have what was perhaps a mild coffee flavor as well.  In the first 1/3 the Robusto developed a mild tingle on the sides of the tongue and the Perfecto had a slight dryness on the tip.  They each produced plenty of light-grey smoke and a medium-grey ash which held on for over 2".  Retro-exhalation was at first slightly hot but became smooth, easy, and pleasant after easing into it a time or two.  The Robusto had more pepper / spice than I was expecting which was consistent throughout, but never got too strong or overpowering at any time and held onto its medium body.  The Perfecto mellowed some after the initial pepper and presented what I thought were roasted coffee undertones and a dryness that followed each draw.  Shortly past the half-way point, a touch of spice re-emerged in the Perfecto which remained through to the end.  Again, the ash held on for over two inches on each and the burn was excellent all the way to the end.  I smoked them both to the nub and they never got tarry or bitter, even to the last puff.

Overall I would have to emphasize the consistency of the Rosado throughout, and in my opinion they hold fast in the medium body realm.  They gave every indication of being a well made, high quality cigar both pre-light and while smoking.  The Nestor Miranda Collection - Special Selection Rosado is a very good cigar and I recommend you try it.  Its medium body and relatively mild strength makes it a good choice for early in the day or evenings and you don't need a full belly to enjoy it.  I'm looking forward to smoking the Oscuro, thanks again Rene.

07 January 2010

BEER REVIEW: Clipper City - Yule Tide

The latest addition to Baltimore's own Clipper City Brewing Company - Mutiny Fleet is their holiday brew Yule Tide, a Belgian style triple ale, which like the rest of the Mutiny Fleet is distributed in 22 ounce bombers.  I realize I'm a little behind on this one being January now and all, but I have been busy and besides, its still cold out (below freezing where I live) which makes a strong holiday ale just right.  As I said, Yule Tide is a belgian style triple which is 10% ABV / 10 IBU.  It is brewed with two kinds of hops and four kinds of malts which they didn't specify.  Additionally it includes trappist yeast and Belgian candi sugar.

It poured with an attractive, slightly hazy, amber / orange color which I place at about a 13 on the Standard Reference Method (SRM) scale.  It didn't produce any real head or lace but what was there was thin and white to slightly off-white in color.  It also appeared to be mildly carbonated with some slow rising bubbles persisting throughout.  The initial aroma was a treat; very sweet and molasses-like with perhaps subtle notes of apricot.  The first sip was crisp and slightly sweet at first, giving way immediately to a mild spiciness, subtle citrus notes, and not much bitterness.  There was no strong alcohol taste or associated heat; however, some taste was mildly present.  The mouthfeel was at first tingly on the tongue, then soft and nondescript on the cheeks, followed by a little creaminess mostly on the tongue.  The final pour had plenty of floaties, mostly yeast of course which laid on the bottom of the glass, but there were some which were suspended in the liquid column up to two inches from the bottom and were darker in color, perhaps undissolved spices.

Overall, Clipper City's Yule Tide was OK but I didn't desire another one when I was finished.  To be fair though, I am not often a fan of some of the Belgian styles so as to not unfairly bias my review, I evaluated it against the standards of the Beer Judge Certification Program.  Yule Tide seemed to generally fall within the accepted parameters of Belgian triples and I thought it was medium in body (+/-), but on the down side in my opinion it was perhaps a little syrupy and I didn't care for the "coated" feeling it left in my mouth for some time after finishing.  As always, try it for yourself and you be the judge, the best beer is the one you like.