Monday, December 21, 2009

A Coffee Break on a Snow Day

Today since I'm in the house, in my study, and somewhat tired of working on actual job-related activities I decided to take a "Coffee Break". Not your typical coffee break, but today I decided to light up a creation by Miami Cigar Co. bearing the signature name of Nestor Miranda Special Selection. The Special Selection line is a mix of Nicaraguan & Costa Rican tobaccos specially blended by Don Pepin Garcia. The nickname "coffee break" comes from the small stature of this particular vitola that I have chosen. We'll see if the burn time lends itself to a normal length coffee break.

Size: 50 x 4.5
Filler: Nicaraguan/Costa Rican
Binder: Nicaraguan
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
MSRP: $6.50 (approx.)

Construction: The cigar is nice and firm but not hard to the touch. There are some predominant veins in the wrapper but the color is consistent.
Pre-light aroma: The cigar smells of strong barnyard tobacco odor with a hint of coffee/cocoa.
Pre-light draw: The draw is fairly loose with hints of tobacco and coffee.

1st third: First couple of puffs produce loads of smoke with a rich earthy flavor. Roasted spice notes are present on the retrohale. The coffee note begins to build toward the end of the first third. The ash held for about the first half inch; however, the burn stayed even.

2nd third: The middle of the cigar really opened up with a flavor that was almost like hickory smoke or barbeque. Either I'm hungry or that was one awesome flavor encounter. Either way, I enjoyed it nevertheless and I hope it stays for a while. The coffee flavor is also present on the finish and the cigar continues to pour out lots of smoke which enhances the experience. The "barbeque" has now given way to a slightly sweet spiciness on the retrohale. So far, I must say that this cigar is very complex and quite surprising.

Final third: The cigar continues to be a little flavor firecracker. While it has not been anywhere near strong it has been fairly medium to full-bodied in the flavor department. It is still putting out lots of smoke even as it is getting closer to the nub, and the flavors of coffee, sweet spice, and an occassional hickory barbeque are ever-present.

Final thoughts: With a burn time of about 45 minutes, I could never smoke one of these on a coffee break at my job, but it was certainly nice to get lost for that time with this cigar. The price point is not intimidating and the experience was worth every penny. Overall, I give it 4.5 out of 5 smokes.

Tabacos Baez Serie SF

I picked up this cigar several months ago during a run to John B. Hayes Tobacconist in Fairfax, VA. At a price tag of about $3, I could not resist giving this Don Pepin creation a shot. It is a mix of Cuban-seed Nicaraguan long filler and mixed short filler in a Nicaraguan habano wrapper.

Vitola: Robusto
Size: 50 x 5"
MSRP: $3 (approx.)
Construction: Very firm to the touch with one or two veins on the wrapper, but otherwise clean.

Pre-light aroma: Rich tobacco and barnyard hay
Pre-light draw: Rich tobacco with a hint of milk chocolate
Tonight I am pairing the cigar with a Leffe blond ale.

1st third: Upon lighting the cigar and taking the first few puffs I am not getting a really strong flavor on my palate initially, but there is a hint of pepper on the retrohale. The cigar is medium-bodied but not overpowering. The ash is white and solid but starting to bend at just over an inch & a half. Dominant flavor is rich tobacco but not heavy. From a strength standpoint I am not experiencing a pronounced nicotine kick.

2nd third: The burn is fairly even with no need for a touch-up. The pepper note has graduated to more of a pleasant spice. The cigar is still holding in the medium-bodied range with little or no noticeable strength. Approaching the band the strength is begins to intensify but it's not beyond a medium range.

Final third: The burn still even. The flavors have been consistent throughout with tobacco, spice, & pepper. A slight leathery flavor creeps in toward the nub. Unfortunately, the wrapper cracked just past the band.

Final thoughts: With a price tag around $3 a stick, this is a very solid "budget" cigar. The flavors are consistent throughout and the strength is in the mild to medium range. Aside from the wrapper cracking at the end, this is a decent smoke that I would love to have as an everyday cigar and will definitely re-visit. The total burn time was 1 hr 8 min. I give it 3.5 out of 5 sticks.

As always, fly straight and fly high.

-Da Byrdman-

5 Minutes with Alan Rubin

Big Pimpin' and I had the pleasure of sitting down with Alan Rubin of Alec Bradley Cigars for short chat and a cigar. Here's a transcript of the interview.

B&B: First of all we want to thank Alan Rubin of Alec Bradley Cigars for sitting down with The B&B Cigar Club. I am Ashley Byrd, the Byrdman, Big Pimpin' Paul Ballard is here snapping the photos. Alan, question #1, what is the most challenging aspect of being a boutique brand?

Alan Rubin: I think for me it's more than one piece. I think one is being able to listen, understand what the consumers are asking for, and then going out and trying to produce that. One of the things I think we do well for our company is utilize new, unique tobaccos and try and blend "outside of the box" a little bit try and do new and creative cigars. I think the other thing is going out and meeting the people. There's just not enough time to be in the factories and try and run the operations and meet everybody and if I could do it all I would.

B&B: What do you see as the next "big thing" in the cigar industry?

Alan Rubin: Oh, I wish I knew.

B&B: Is it a size, is it a strength, a particular blend?

Alan Rubin: Well you know this industry goes through changes. A lot of times I think mild cigars sell very well, but people don't really talk about mild they talk about stronger cigars. I think the strong cigars have maybe gone through it's time. I think people are maybe looking for balance. I think people are looking for cigars that are balanced that enhance their experience when they get to whatever event they're attending or whether they're by themselves I think what they want is a nice experience. Our job for our company is just to be a part of that experience. My whole feel is that if you're looking for what the next great thing is in the cigar business, I think people are back to balance, back to complexity, back to smoothness. I think they've gone through that "stronger is better" phase.

B&B: What should I expect when I light up a Prensado for the first time?

Alan Rubin: Greatness. Dude I'm talking to Da Byrdman, what do you want me to tell you. Prensado is just out of the box right now. We just launched it, and the responses have been spectacular. I'm walking around kinda with a permanent smile on my face right now coming off of Tempus, SCR, and Vice Press that all hit and now Prensado. I think when you smoke Prensado what you're going to get is balance. You're gonna get complexity, you're gonna get smoothness. It's gonna be one of those cigars where you're gonna look down and say "did I just smoke that whole cigar?" You're gonna wonder where did it go because I just lost myself. I think that's what you're gonna get out of Prensado.

B&B: If I were a first-time cigar smoker looking at the Alec Bradley brand, which one would you recommend and why?

Alan Rubin: As a first-time cigar smoker I would say that you want something that's going to be mild in terms of strength, but still has some flavor and smoothness and creaminess to it. I would say our Occidental Reserve line which uses a Connecticut wrapper. It's smooth, it's creamy, it's got some nice flavor to it, and it's not over the top strong so it's not gonna put you into that "ozone" atmosphere. It's really a nice cigar. As a matter of fact, one of my best friends is a doctor, never really had cigars before and he said to me, "hey I want to try a cigar". We sat down and smoked an Occidental and at the end of the evening he said, "hey you think we could do this again?" It was about enjoying the experience and the time with my friend over a cigar that didn't overpower him.

B&B: What should we expect in the future from the Alec Bradley brand?

Alan Rubin: In terms of brands, we are creating new things. We are trying and experimenting with some new tobaccos. I'm actually in the middle of testing some blends right now for some new things coming out in 2010. You'll probably see the same momentum that we have right now and that is coming out with some unique blends, using some interesting tobaccos that are not really in the marketplace. After that, I could tell you, but then I gotta kill you and you're bigger than me so that's not happening, but if you hit the ground I'm taking the hat.

B&B: What is the perfect humidity for storing & smoking Alec Bradley cigars?

Alan Rubin: I can tell you that humidity is such a huge component. One of the tests is to take a cigar and leave it out for 4 or 5 days and take the same cigar at the proper humidity and smoke those cigars. Those are different cigars. Right now we're doing more testing. I just bought a humidity gauge that's extremely accurate. Even samples that come in, I will put the humidity gauge on that sample before I smoke it and see where it is. I would say that Tempus smokes best at 65% R.H. because there's so much thick tobacco and a lot of oils you don't want to over-humidify that because then the humidity doesn't have a chance to escape. SCR right now is also at 65%. We are testing Prensado and I think that will be at 65% as well. Some of the lighter cigars can stand a little more humidity, so I would say 69% for those. Most cigars, if you smoke them at over 69%, they hold a little too much humidity and you may get an acrid taste and a little bit of harshness. As that humidity builds and that heat builds, you're gonna get a little bitterness. To me 65%, 67%, and up to 69% would be the proper humidity to smoke the cigars that we make.

B&B: Alan, thank you for your time.

Alan Rubin: My pleasure.

Friday, December 4, 2009

"The Mystery Smoke"

This was a gift that I got from the "Da Byrdman". (What up B?) I don't know what type of cigar this is so this will really be a test for me.
It is a 5x50 Robusto.

South Park is funny, No Minorities in the water park, Pee Pee in the water park. This is hilarious. Sorry, back to the smoke.
Construction- It has a beautiful brown Maduro wrapper with no defects, Oily, smooth and firm to the touch. Looks like it will be a great smoke.

It has a nice even burn with an easy draw. Flavors are somewhat sweet. No spice yet. But if I know "DaByrdman" it will have some spice in it. Nice amounts of puff smoke and resting smoke.

Kyle is swimming in Pee, This is funny. Making it difficult to focus on the smoke.

They just pissed on the monkeys. LMAO!! Sorry.

Second 3rd. It has been a very consistent burn. Getting some toastie notes, very smooth but here comes the pepper. It's not allot of pepper but I knew it would have some kick to it. (Thanks B). Starting to feel a little cigar buzz.

That's awful, Kyle has to drink the pee. WTF!!

Final stretch- Had to relight because of South Park. The spice is allot more noticeable at this point. Still has a nice burn. The ash white with no flaking and it stands tall. For me I will have to say this is a medium to full body smoke. I should've expected that from "DaByrdman". I will have to get something to eat after this. The spice is getting a little to much for me, but I am at the end of the smoke so I will push forward to the finish.

The verdict. Very nice consistency on this stick with a great amount of smoke, Steady even burn with earthy, toastie & spice flavors. With all of that coming at you, it is still a very smooth cigar. I will have to say now that it is a full body smoke.

I will give this one a high grade. 4 out of 5 sticks. If you are someone who likes a full body smoke this is one to get. What the hell am I talking about, I don't even know what the heck I am smoking.

After getting in contact with 'Da Byrdman" to let him know that I smoked it. He finally told me what it was. "Cain F". Are you F'n kidding me!!! He knew I would never buy one of these so he had to sneak it in on me. Good Job Byrd.

Here is the official information for the Cigar.


Wrapper: Nicaragua
Filler: Esteli Ligero, Condega Ligero, Jalapa Ligero
Size: Robusto (5 x 50)
Strength: Full
Until next time, "Happy Smokin"
Big Pimpin

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Big Smoke Las Vegas Part II

Since we're still in transition between the page here and our site on wordpress, I have decided to post the remainder of the Big Smoke 2009 info in both places.  Here's yet another photo slideshow.  Enjoy!