Celebrating 243 years of one sweet victory….and American whiskey!

Whiskey claims to itself alone the exclusive office of sot-making.

Thomas Jefferson
A Stolen Throne Crook of the Crown with a 13 year old WhistlePig Rye Whiskey from the Bourbon Society of Central Florida.

It is July 5th. Independence Day is over. Although for some reason I do not want to stop celebrating that sweet victory that is 243 years old. Independence Day is my favorite holiday. I love it more than Christmas. Hell, I love it more than my own birthday. Which leads me to one massively important point. American Whiskey is the best whiskey to ever grace this planet.

Without our Independence from Great Britain, we would have never been gifted what the Founding Fathers spent so much time working on. I know what you’re thinking, the Declaration of Independence….WRONG! It was whiskey. You see, the way I look at it is quite simple: the Declaration of Independence was simply a document to give America the freedom to distill the best liquid to grace Earth.

Now, now, I am moderately joking. It serves as one of the greatest historical documents of all time (taxation IS theft). The greatest country in the history of mankind formed as a result. The freedom to write this piece is evidence of that. Yet, for some reason I always come back to whiskey. So with that, I believe a toast with some fine rye whiskey is in order. George Washington did it and he arguably drank more than any other President. Something about it must be good, right?

So toast we will to the greatest country in the world. To all those who did and continue to sacrifice so much for our freedoms, we say thank you. I will always love Independence Day. Cheers everyone!

Blanton’s Black (Japan)

It’s Monday Hawks! We all know what that means! That’s right, an excuse to have a glass of whiskey and a fine smoke to help relax from the beginning of the week. This week we take a look at our second installment of the Blanton’s series. Today is all about taking it Japanese, with Blanton’s Black!

Blanton’s Black and Red are distilled in Kentucky with the rest of the Blanton’s labels, but only distributed to the Japanese market. Even in Japan these two are harder to find. I spent a whole week in Tokyo and was only able to find two bottles of the Black and none of the Red. I got lucky a couple of weeks ago and won a raffle for a bottle of the Red.

So let’s dive right in to this delicious bottle of rare and forbidden juice.

Blanton’s Black comes with a minimum of 8 years aged, unlike the regular Blanton’s the US gets. The regular Blanton’s doesn’t come with any kind of age statement, but it’s speculated that it’s 6 years minimum.

The mash bill on this bourbon is Buffalo Trace’s mash bill #2, which has the higher rye content. However, BT doesn’t disclose the exact mash bill.

ABV on this variation of Blanton’s is 80 proof. The Red is 93 proof, just like the original. The Black, however is slightly watered down to help bourbon drinkers that don’t want the heat of the higher proof pours.

The color of this fine juice is a golden dark brown.

This bourbon is not particularly expensive at about 30-40 dollars USD in Japan. However, on the secondary market these bottles are like gold. Running somewhere between 200-300 dollars.

The nose on this bourbon is stunning. Floral notes with cherry and apple on the front, with caramel, vanilla, and oak on the back end.

The taste is smooth. A very easy drinker. Little to no burn on the tongue. Fruit and sweet on the front of the tongue make way for the oak of the 8 year aged juice. The oak is not overpowering, but it’s definitely noticeable.

The finish on this bottle was medium at best. It doesn’t linger. It’s tasty and makes a great sipping drink.

My final thoughts on this bourbon are that it’s great! One of my favorites! However, for the price on the secondary, it’s just not worth it. If you happen to be in Japan and find it, buy a bunch. I personally wouldn’t pay what people are asking for this bottle.

An interesting side note- Blanton’s in the US and Japan comes in the standard 750ml bottles. Blanton’s released to European market only come in 700ml bottles.

#Blantons #blantonsblack #japanese #bourbon #whiskey #Buffalotracedistillery #Traficante #spirits #cigarhawk

Blanton's Black (Japan)

It’s Monday Hawks! We all know what that means! That’s right, an excuse to have a glass of whiskey and a fine smoke to help relax from the beginning of the week. This week we take a look at our second installment of the Blanton’s series. Today is all about taking it Japanese, with Blanton’s Black!

Blanton’s Black and Red are distilled in Kentucky with the rest of the Blanton’s labels, but only distributed to the Japanese market. Even in Japan these two are harder to find. I spent a whole week in Tokyo and was only able to find two bottles of the Black and none of the Red. I got lucky a couple of weeks ago and won a raffle for a bottle of the Red.

So let’s dive right in to this delicious bottle of rare and forbidden juice.

Blanton’s Black comes with a minimum of 8 years aged, unlike the regular Blanton’s the US gets. The regular Blanton’s doesn’t come with any kind of age statement, but it’s speculated that it’s 6 years minimum.

The mash bill on this bourbon is Buffalo Trace’s mash bill #2, which has the higher rye content. However, BT doesn’t disclose the exact mash bill.

ABV on this variation of Blanton’s is 80 proof. The Red is 93 proof, just like the original. The Black, however is slightly watered down to help bourbon drinkers that don’t want the heat of the higher proof pours.

The color of this fine juice is a golden dark brown.

This bourbon is not particularly expensive at about 30-40 dollars USD in Japan. However, on the secondary market these bottles are like gold. Running somewhere between 200-300 dollars.

The nose on this bourbon is stunning. Floral notes with cherry and apple on the front, with caramel, vanilla, and oak on the back end.

The taste is smooth. A very easy drinker. Little to no burn on the tongue. Fruit and sweet on the front of the tongue make way for the oak of the 8 year aged juice. The oak is not overpowering, but it’s definitely noticeable.

The finish on this bottle was medium at best. It doesn’t linger. It’s tasty and makes a great sipping drink.

My final thoughts on this bourbon are that it’s great! One of my favorites! However, for the price on the secondary, it’s just not worth it. If you happen to be in Japan and find it, buy a bunch. I personally wouldn’t pay what people are asking for this bottle.

An interesting side note- Blanton’s in the US and Japan comes in the standard 750ml bottles. Blanton’s released to European market only come in 700ml bottles.

Blanton’s Single Barrel

It’s whiskey Wednesday Hawks, and boy I’m excited for this one. Starting today and for the next few weeks I will be reviewing the Blanton’s bourbon line. A little background on Blanton’s bourbon…It comes from the Buffalo Trace distillery and was made by Master Distiller Elmer T. Lee in honor of Colonel Albert B. Blanton, who was previously a Master Distiller at Buffalo Trace. We will start this week off with the original Blanton’s Single Barrel bourbon, and then continue with the Gold, Special Reserve, Black, and Straight From The Barrel editions. There are obviously a few of the releases that I have left out, however I still haven’t had the luxury of getting my hands on any of these. They include the, Red, Silver, and various France releases.

Each bottle of Blanton’s is noticeable from a distance, due to its grenade shaped bottle, and horse and jockey on top. Each of the toppers has become collectable in its own way, as each of them has a different letter on it that spells B-L-A-N-T-O-N-S once you’ve collected all of them. Specialty companies have even made topper displays, such as the one pictured.

The mash bill on this bourbon is Buffalo Trace’s mash bill #2, which has the higher rye content. However, BT doesn’t disclose the exact mash bill.

ABV on this variation of Blanton’s is 93 proof. More than enough to get the job done, if you know what I mean.

The color sits at a dark amber with hints of red and burgundy.

At 49 to 65 dollars a bottle, Blanton’s is not the cheapest pour on the shelf, but it’s not insane either. The biggest issue you will have with this bourbon is finding a bottle. Not even 10 years ago I remember going in the store outside of Fort Campbell and literally wiping dust off bottles of Blanton’s. You could have found it anywhere at any time. Fast forward to present day and the bourbon boom is in full swing. I have now only been able to find three bottles of regular Blanton’s in two years, and two of those were behind the counter and I had to ask. Thankfully I have built up somewhat of a relationship with my local ABC employees.

The nose on this bourbon is great and one of the best I’ve nosed. Notes of citrus, clove, nutmeg, all spice and raisin. The spicy smell from the rye is not extremely overpowering, but reminds me of the holidays.

The taste is similar to the nose. It’s well balanced with citrus, spice, and vanilla notes. There is a sweeter caramel and toffee taste on the front, and a spicy cinnamon taste on the back.

The finish on this bottle was medium to long. Oak, toasted marshmallow and nutmeg wrap this pour up in a nice package.

My final thoughts on this bourbon are that if you can find a bottle of Blanton’s, give it a try. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite bourbon, but it’s in my top 20 for sure. It’s definitely a great bourbon for parties and conversation starters. The bottle is cool, and I’ve seen a ton of crafty ways to reuse the bottles.

I didn’t require ice or water with this bourbon and tasted it using my Glencarin glass.

#Traficante #Blantons #Buffalotracedistillery #CigarHawkBrand #Zosworld #ZotheBourbonBro #whiskey #bourbon #singlebarrel #Whiskeywednesday

Blanton's Single Barrel

It’s whiskey Wednesday Hawks, and boy I’m excited for this one. Starting today and for the next few weeks I will be reviewing the Blanton’s bourbon line. A little background on Blanton’s bourbon…It comes from the Buffalo Trace distillery and was made by Master Distiller Elmer T. Lee in honor of Colonel Albert B. Blanton, who was previously a Master Distiller at Buffalo Trace. We will start this week off with the original Blanton’s Single Barrel bourbon, and then continue with the Gold, Special Reserve, Black, and Straight From The Barrel editions. There are obviously a few of the releases that I have left out, however I still haven’t had the luxury of getting my hands on any of these. They include the, Red, Silver, and various France releases.

Each bottle of Blanton’s is noticeable from a distance, due to its grenade shaped bottle, and horse and jockey on top. Each of the toppers has become collectable in its own way, as each of them has a different letter on it that spells B-L-A-N-T-O-N-S once you’ve collected all of them. Specialty companies have even made topper displays, such as the one pictured.

The mash bill on this bourbon is Buffalo Trace’s mash bill #2, which has the higher rye content. However, BT doesn’t disclose the exact mash bill.

ABV on this variation of Blanton’s is 93 proof. More than enough to get the job done, if you know what I mean.

The color sits at a dark amber with hints of red and burgundy.

At 49 to 65 dollars a bottle, Blanton’s is not the cheapest pour on the shelf, but it’s not insane either. The biggest issue you will have with this bourbon is finding a bottle. Not even 10 years ago I remember going in the store outside of Fort Campbell and literally wiping dust off bottles of Blanton’s. You could have found it anywhere at any time. Fast forward to present day and the bourbon boom is in full swing. I have now only been able to find three bottles of regular Blanton’s in two years, and two of those were behind the counter and I had to ask. Thankfully I have built up somewhat of a relationship with my local ABC employees.

The nose on this bourbon is great and one of the best I’ve nosed. Notes of citrus, clove, nutmeg, all spice and raisin. The spicy smell from the rye is not extremely overpowering, but reminds me of the holidays.

The taste is similar to the nose. It’s well balanced with citrus, spice, and vanilla notes. There is a sweeter caramel and toffee taste on the front, and a spicy cinnamon taste on the back.

The finish on this bottle was medium to long. Oak, toasted marshmallow and nutmeg wrap this pour up in a nice package.

My final thoughts on this bourbon are that if you can find a bottle of Blanton’s, give it a try. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite bourbon, but it’s in my top 20 for sure. It’s definitely a great bourbon for parties and conversation starters. The bottle is cool, and I’ve seen a ton of crafty ways to reuse the bottles.

I didn’t require ice or water with this bourbon and tasted it using my Glencarin glass.

Local Company Spotlight. BroadBranch Distillery

So a few months ago while my wife and I were out exploring our new city we cam across this distillery downtown. We went in and Don gave us a lesson on their spirits and a round of samples to try. At first I was a bit skeptical about it. Blueberry infused whiskey? First thought was Bird Dog sweetness and “not really my thing”. And then I tried it. Certainly unique and very good. Then I switched over to some of the others and each time it got better and better.

Fast forward a few months and a few back and forth emails and my buddy Gonzo and I took a tour last week and learned more about the company, the spirits and the people behind it all.

Broad Branch: Our story

“The relentless, uncompromising pursuit of high-quality whiskeys & spirits will always reign supreme.

Broad Branch is rooted in Old World craft heritage and traditional Blue Ridge Mountain distilling methods. From mash to barrel to bottle, our focus remains absolute- meticulously crafted, superlative spirits worthy of your time, attention, and taste.

At the core of our process and everything we make are exceptional ingredients. We work with top quality neighboring grain farmers, an accomplished local malter, and a handful of specialist growers who share our commitment to responsibly craftd and produced goods. We do all of this and more from an old tobacco warehouse on historic Trade Street in Winston Salem, NC. Every day is an adventure.”

I do not want to spend a lot of time recreating the wheel and taking tons of info from their website and sharing it here so I will direct you to their website. http://www.broadbranchdistillery.com/

You can find everything you need to know about them along with some great drink cocktail recipes. I will, however tell you about our time there.

We were greeted by our host for the day, sat down and went straight to samples. These guys don’t mess around and neither do their products!

The Smashing Violet (award winning) again was great as a stand alone but mix in some of the Sunshine Energy drink (next door to the distillery) and now you have a terrific summer drink. I plan to do these when we move into the house for sure. Add some mint and a touch of lime over ice and that is danger all dressed up.

We moved on to the Nightlab 1.0 and while I am no huge fan of clear/white liquor, this one has a very unique flavor. Floral and citrus which I did not expect. (I did not get a photo of this one, my apologies)

Now the fun part (for me anyway). First up, the Nobilium 2 year aged in European Oak barrels and non-chill filtered, this small batch offers hints of maple, dried apples and vanilla.

Finally, the newest release of the group, the Supercollider. Single Barrel, Premium Cut, Non-Chill Filtered. “A handcrafted collision between 100% WA State Rye Whiskey and HoneyCrisp and Fuji apples, mashed and fermented together, then distilled. Rested in new oak and finished in brandy barrels, the result is delicious, refined spirit with gentle flavors of cooked fruit, maple and spice”. As someone that does not drink a lot of Rye, mostly because I haven’t found many I enjoy, this one impressed me.

Once we finished tasting and discussing these great spirits, we took a tour of the distillery. I encourage you to do the same when you visit Winston Salem. It may be small but there is a ton of information given out about the product and the process. I never fully understood just how much goes into making each bottle just right. Very impressive process.

A beautiful sight of sleeping beauties.

You dont get any better than straight from the barrel!

Look at that golden goodness!

Oh yeah!

We ended our tour with a new appreciation for what goes into making all of these great products. The folks at Broad Branch really do a great job of taking the time to explain the process to you. You can certainly tell that they enjoy what they do and it comes through in their products.

They are located at 756 Trade Street Winston Salem North Carolina. (336) 602 – 2824

Follow them on Social media.

I would like to take a second to say “Thank You” to everyone at Broad Branch Distillery for having us and allowing us to spend some time with them. Please visit their website (above) and if your local ABC store does not carry them, make sure to ask for them. I am sure we will be reviewing these throughout the summer. Be sure to check back often for updates.

Almost time to get back into cigar reviews and look for new cigar and spirit pairings coming soon!

Until next time, Long Ashes and Full Glasses friends.

Oak & Eden Texas Whiskey set to debut

In-bottle Finished, Inspired Whiskey is the genesis behind a Texas Whiskey brand, debuting this month.

WESTLAKE, TX., April 17, 2018/PR Newswire/ — Sanctified Spirits, LLC, producer of Oak & Eden Handcrafted Whiskey proudly announces the introduction of its remarkably smooth, highly original line of in-bottle finished, inspired whiskeys. “Our whiskey is exceptional because of the way in which we finish it, in-bottle”, says Joe Giildenzopf, the company’s CEO.

In-bottle finishing utilizes a masterful combination of Spirit, Wood, Fire and Spice. “We start with Spirit, Straight American Whiskey, in two varieties, Bourbon and Rye. Next, using our patent-pending process, we add Wood, a 5-inch long spiral cut piece of American Oak to each bottle. We call this our “Spire”. The Spire has been exposed toFire (just like a barrel would be) in order to extract flavorful botanicals that when introduced to the bottle adds Spice, smoothness and character to our whiskey” stated Mr. Giildenzopf.

While our whiskeys are in-bottle finished, they’re also inspired. “Inspired Whiskey” has two meanings; the first, obvious meaning is there is a spire in our whiskey. The second, less obvious meaning speaks to the Creation Story when God made Man from the earth and breathed His life into His creation. Similarly, Oak & Eden uses elements of the earth, corn, rye and barley to create a spirit, whiskey. We figuratively put a part of ourselves into our creation to bring it to life, or inspire it. The spire in the bottle is emblematic of this impartation. “Oak” characterizes the origin of our creation and “Eden” the perfection of it.

Oak & Eden subtly honors The Creator by celebrating creators, those who are so inspired that they willingly endure long-suffering to refine their craft and make something that lasts. “We get it. It’s a struggle, long and arduous. That’s why we share our creation: amazing whiskey, inspired from within by our spire, enabling our in-bottle finishing, defining our flavor and perfecting our creation. It is a suitable reward for anyone who puts whatever is in them, out there” claims Brad Neathery, the company’s Creative Director.


Oak & Eden is proud to curate, and commemorate other makers. “For all the makers, we made this for you”. Stories of craftsmen, artisans, innovators, and explorers can be found at http://www.oakandeden.com/stories

Oak & Eden is available in Bourbon, finished with a Toasted Oak spire and Rye, finished with a Charred Oak spire and can be purchased in many Texas liquor stores. Other innovative expressions will be released later this year, in limited, small batch quantities. “In September, we will be releasing a “Cabernet-Steeped” variety, whereby we rest a French Oak spire in cabernet sauvignon for 6 weeks prior to using it to finish, in-bottle, an American Whiskey”, claims Joe Giildenzopf.

Oak & Eden Handcrafted Whiskey is being distributed by Republic National Distributing Company. The company aspires to grow the distribution of the brand to other states soon.

For more information, view http://www.oakandeden.com.

Thank God for Good Whiskey,

Ezra Zion Announces Oak & Eden Whiskey

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Ezra Zion is pleased to announce it’s latest company venture: a partnership with Oak & Eden Inspired Whiskey.

Ezra Zion rounds out the ownership team which includes brothers Joe and Jamie Giildenzopf; who serve as CEO and Master Distiller, respectively.

“We’re elated to bring innovative, small-batch, ‘boutique’ whiskeys to our friends in the cigar community.” stated Kyle Hoover, Ezra Zion co-owner. “Everyone knows there’s nothing better than having a great cigar and whiskey. It’s absolute heaven.”

Oak & Eden will be distributed by Republic National Distributing Company, one of the nation’s largest spirit distributors and will soon be available in most liquor stores, bars, and restaurants throughout Texas.

The official product launch will be in April across the State of Texas, and will expand to the rest of country over the course of 2018. Initial launch will be two products: Oak & Eden Bourbon and Oak & Eden Rye.

“We’re excited to introduce Joe to the cigar community. He’s a total genius. Having him at the helm of Oak & Eden is epic. The level of palate sophistication and blending aptitude on this team is legendary!” added Chris Kelly, Ezra Zion co-owner.

Oak & Eden whiskeys are unique. Each is “in-bottle finished” with a patented spire technology allowing for a variety of diverse finishes and revolutionary new small-batch whiskeys.

“We say that the spire is ‘Better than a barrel’ because the surface area ratio of oak wood to liquor is higher with our spire than a barrel. It makes a superior whiskey. It’s an evolution in whiskey making that we’ve perfected and patented.” added Joe Giildenzopf.

Ezra Zion will introduce a line of Oak & Eden whiskey inspired cigars. Each project will be blended as the optimum cigar pairing for each whiskey release.

“No doubt we’re going to be flooded with emails about this. We’d ask each of you to follow @OakAndEden on Instagram and like Oak & Eden on Facebook. We’ll be posting regularly to keep you up to date on everything Oak & Eden.” added Hoover.

(Courtesy of Cigar Federation Press Release)

For more detailed information visit OakAndEden.com

Changes on the way…Stay tuned

As we continue to expand and grow I have decided to bring on some help. If you are not yet a member of our Facebook group, hit us up and join the club. I will be bringing on reviews from other people to keep content coming. I am also working with a couple of people to bring in reviews of craft beer and spirits (mainly whiskey/bourbon). My goal is to bring as much content to you as possible and keep thing interesting.

If you have any suggestions on content you would like to see, please feel free to reach out here and let me know. I look forward to what’s next and I hope you will keep up the support.

Thanks for the support! Long ashes and full glasses friends!

Mixing pleasure with business…Arizona

So I had the opportunity this week to travel to Phoenix/Scottsdale to speak and be part of a panel at a work conference. It was a really nice honor to be selected and after a long day of travel, I arrived in paradise. I was fortunate enough for my wife to travel and meet me there and combine some vacation days in after the conference. Coming from Pa and getting to Az after the cold we have been having was certainly a blessing. Being from the south, I am a lot more partial to warm than cold.

I arrived at the airport Tuesday (3 hour time difference made for a long day) and my wife instructed me to meet her at the rental car center. Off to the shuttle I go to arrive to a bright red, Camaro convertible SS with 4k miles! Now I would never own this car, but as a rental for the week in the desert, oh hell yes I will! Off to the JW Marriot to check into our room. This place is simply majestic. Set at the foot of the mountains, this is an oasis of scenery and upscale living. This was proven later with the clientele for the restaurant and seeing the exotic car show in the parking lot. Super friendly staff, super clean and the food was great.

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Being a cigar guy obviously high on my priority of things to see and do was to visit local shops. Unfortunately for me, that didn’t work out exactly like I planned but…I did bring cigars and I did get to visit 2 local spots. Smoke and Joe (cigars and coffee, well done) and Ford on Fifth. For those of you that are on Instagram and Twitter you probably know FTB_Melanie and FTB_Anthony Cantelmo, Ford on Fifth is their shop. More to come on that.

After a successful conference on Wed and a wonderful fully catered dinner in the garden, I found a fellow cigar aficionado and he presented me with the offer of, you bring the cigars and I will buy the drinks. You sir have a deal! I enjoyed a Padron 1926 Maduro and a nice bourbon and he a Balmoral Anejo XO and scotch. After trying the Lagavulin he was having, I decided I needed to have some of that as well. That was my first time with that and I was not disappointed. Super smokey and a great pairing with the Padron I was having.

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Thursday was an early start and 5 hour drive up to Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend in Page, AZ. WOW! I can’t begin to describe in words how breathtaking the scenery was there. Pics are nice but can’t even come close to the real life experience. After a long day of hiking, tours and moments of deep thought, we drove the 5 hours back, convertible top down, music cranked and cruising through some beautiful desert landscape.

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Friday was open to whatever so we went to some local spots to sight-see and do the tourist thing. As we were driving, my wonderful wife noticed Smoke and Joe and asked if I wanted to stop, I almost flipped the car doing a u turn to get there. Lol. Ok Not really but yes I did indeed want to stop. What a cool place. I should have gotten pictures but with jet lagged, time change, busy schedule and overall drag assing that was going on, I just wanted to smoke. My wife was kind enough to replace my Padron 1926 Maduro and bought me 2 house blends and the Full Metal Jacket cigar. Got to love it when the wife takes such great care of you! We sat outside and I enjoyed a L’atelier Limited Edition while talking with the owner for a few minutes. He is a pilot with Southwest and opened the cigar lounge. Nice selection, the lady at the counter was super friendly, the private lounge seemed very nice and the coffee bar was a nice touch.

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After that nice break, it was off to do some more sightseeing and photos. We found ourselves near Ford on Fifth so I decided to stop in and see if Anthony was around. He was not so I was a little bummed about that but no fear, the guy working at the time (I did not catch his name) was more than helpful in pointing me to the long time eluded Deliverance Nocturne that I have been searching for. Score! I picked up some of those and a Mi Querida from Steve Saka and Dunbarton Tobacco. Steve was there on Tuesday night and unfortunately I missed him. I hoped to make it back later that evening to have a smoke but that didn’t play out. Ford on Fifth has some history behind it and has a small lounge and a nice humidor with a nice selection and a outdoor sitting area in the front.

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We headed out to our next adventure which was a sunset electric bike tour through the desert. What a cool concept and oh what a trip! The trails were a fun challenge, the views were terrific, the knowledge about the plants, desert, area etc was super interesting. A side from a brief encounter with a very large and very pissed off rattlesnake, we had a great trip. I highly recommend taking the tour if you ever visit. Hit me up and I will get you the info. Our tour guide was great and did a great job of getting video and photos on top of a great tour.

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We tried out a place called the Wild Thaiger we saw on Diners, Drivein’s and Dives for dinner. Very good Thai food and worth checking out. After a full week and an early start on Saturday of travel, sadly it was time to put Az behind us for now.

I say for now because my wife and I truly fell in love with the state. It is certainly on the top of our list for places to move. If I can make that work in the future, I certainly will do so. Until then, we will have to rely on photos and memories. If you have never been there, I highly recommend it. I know this isn’t that much about cigars but I hope you enjoyed it anyway. Feel free to drop comments or suggestions.

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EGO…Good or Bad? Find out here

What is an Ego? By definition it’s a person’s sense of self esteem or self-importance. We all know someone that has strong ego and it’s pretty much seen in a negative light by others around them. Not often does the word carry a positive connotation. Sometimes we could all use an ego boost or have someone stroke our ego. When it happens, you feel great, you feel a lift in your spirit, and overall demeanor.

When I saw the EGO cigar from Felix Assouline, I thought man that is ballsy. It takes a strong belief in a product to associate it with something often seen in a negative light and seen as cocky or arrogant. Sometimes you are just very confident and it comes across in the wrong way. I decided to keep an open mind when I purchased this stick. I was intrigued by the name and I wanted to see what it was all about. It was either going to silence the critics in my head or prove them right. Don’t judge me, you have those same voices in your head. If you say you don’t, one of you is a liar! 🙂

I decided to save the EGO Spirit for last. No real reason for it, it sorta just played out that way. This is the last of the bunch that I purchased and obviously this will be the last review of the brand until I get the Ringo and Something Special in my possession. I will say that everything I tried was absolutely top notch and FAC is doing it right!

So without further ado, let’s spark this EGO and see what we get…

The Spirit is a 6 1/2 X 54 (Belicoso) box pressed Nicaraguan cigar with a Habano Criollo 98 wrapper, Indonesian binder, and filler from Honduras and Nicaragua. It is available in 7 sizes and priced between $1.96 (Shot) and $10.30 (Passion).

The cigar is simply an elegant looking cigar. The box press is very nice, the color is a rustic, reddish brown with some nice veins. There was a minor defect in the wrapper (you may see in the photos) that was visible but had 0 impact on this cigar or the performance. The band is really nice. The red and gold really stand out and it has an Indian feel to the artwork. With the Indonesian binder, it fits for sure.

From the foot I pick up heavy barnyard notes, with a mix hay, cedar and cocoa (almost a dark chocolate). I use a straight guillotine cut and only matches to get this one started. (It was so cold out that the butane in my lighter would not ignite)

Immediately I am flooded with a woodsy, cedar like flavor, spice and cocoa. The Jamastran and Jalapa come through nicely. If you are familiar with Felix Assouline, these tobaccos are noticeable standouts throughout the portfolio. The process he uses to age these tobaccos are something I have only tasted in his lineup. No other cigar that I am aware of taste anything like this. I am a big fan of the flavor profile it gives to his cigars. That being said, they are on display nicely in this blend. It almost has a cedar, pine or evergreen flavor and I cannot pinpoint it but its distinct and it is good! The draw is perfect and the burn is straight and even (until I cranked up the heater in the garage and the swirling hot and cold air mixture created a small issue as you see in the pic). The ash hangs on through the first third and falls off with a little encouragement.

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As I transaction into the second third, the pepper and spice are on display but not harsh at all. The dark chocolate profile ramps up a bit and this settles into a nice medium strength with a medium-full flavor profile. The cigar is performing nicely and even under extreme cold and swirling winds from a propane heater blowing hot air all around the garage, I only have some minor shifts in the burn line. The flavor profile is complex enough to make it very interesting. I am about 45 minutes in at this point and so far, another great cigar. I am starting to think that Felix might just know a thing or two about making great cigars. 🙂

When I review a cigar for the first time I typically only “pair” it with water because I like to get a feel for the cigar and only the cigar. As I transitioned into the final third, I decided to take a chance (and because it was freezing outside) to break out some Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon and see how things changed.

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The cigar changed back to more of the pepper and spice with some earthy tones and a creamy smoothness but with more of a cinnamon or nutmeg spice addition. When I added some bourbon into the mix things got very interesting. The pepper notes flooded my taste buds and it really amped up the spice in the bourbon. Things got hot but I wasn’t complaining. I am a fan of hot and spicy things but not to the point of pain like people that love having tears in their eyes from peppers. Being from Louisiana, cayenne pepper and flavor are a part of what we do with everything.

The more I got into the final third, things calmed down and the sweetness took the forefront and really leveled out the heat from the bourbon. The draw stayed perfect throughout the entire smoke and the burn (had it not been for the swirling air being forced around by the heater) stayed relatively even. Take away the heater and the burn stays even throughout. The ash held for each third and I needed no touchups at all.

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Overall, this was a very good cigar and worthy of its name. This is a cigar I would smoke on a regular and a great addition to any rotation. It was roughly 1 hour and 20 minutes total and I enjoyed my time with it. I am curious to try the other sizes as I have heard others say they got more of the sweetness from one of the others making it almost a dessert cigar. I did not find that in this one but I could easily see it as there are certainly notes of it to be found.

After 5 wonderful cigars from Felix Assouline Cigars, I can say without a doubt that I am sold on the brands. I have 2 others left to try and I want to try these same 5 in different sizes for sure. For me, FAC belongs in the top 3 of my all time favorite cigar brands. I encourage all of you to follow them on social media and visit the website. Make sure you let them know you heard about them on the blog and feel free to come back here and leave your comments, photos and reviews. I would love to hear what you think about all of the cigars I review. I hope you enjoyed it.

Don’t be afraid to put your EGO on display and share it with the world! Until next time, long ashes and full glasses friends. Peace!

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Road trip…Nashville and Louisville

So Monday we returned home from a 1700 + mile road trip from Pa, to Nashville, Louisville and back with a stop at the legendary Leaf and Bean in Pittsburg. It was a quick trip but it was packed with things to do. After working all day Thursday we finally hit the road around 6 pm and drove all night and arrived in Nashville around 7 am. Just in time for breakfast and then a stop off at Crowned Heads headquarters to meet Jon Huber. Because of scheduling we couldn’t hang out for long but it was nice to finally meet the man behind some of my favorite cigars. I was able to score a new hoodie and a couple of great samplers! Next was a stop off at Smokers Abby to pick up some Crowned Heads Tennessee Waltz (FINALLY!!!!), the new Oscar Habano, and a couple of Viaje Honey and Hand Grenades. This is a great local shop with mainly boutique brands, a nice humidor and lounge. I highly recommend stopping in if you are in the area. After that it was full blown tourist mode. The Johnny Cash museum, all the bars and stores on Broadway, The Ryman Auditorium (incredible amount of history in that place and we also got to attend The Grand Ole Opry in the Ryman which was awesome), local bus tour of the area, Music Row and more. We found another local lounge called Primings Cigar Bar and Lounge. Another nice humidor, the best Old Fashion I have ever had, great bar, super friendly and attentive staff and a really nice house blend cigar. If you have never been to Nashville and you like country music or history I recommend taking a trip. I am not a new country music fan, personally I think this new bro country garbage has ruined the genre. I think much of the “talent” shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breathe as the true legends of the music. Moving on…

The Tennessee Waltz is a cigar that was made by Crowned Heads and sells exclusively in the companies home state (some online retailers do have them). If it reminds you of another cigar, it’s for good reason. Made in the My Father’s Cigar factory this cigar is 5 1/2 X 52 with a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper and Nicaraguan fillers.

Right off the bat this cigar smells of barnyard (hay) with notes of cocoa and pepper. It is a very rustic looking stick with a dark brown color with lots of veins and the orange ribbon on the foot. As I light it, first with a match and then touched up with a dual torch, I am met with black pepper and a woodsy cedar (maybe) with some leather and nuts. As I moved towards the second third, the spice leveled off because of the sweet cocoa that appeared.

Into the second third and it moves into a cocoa and nuttiness.There is still some spice but its a nice combination. It isn’t super complex but the blend is very nice. The draw, ash, and smoke production are still great.

As I move into the final third, the spice makes a comeback but the woodsy, leather, earthy notes even it out nicely to finish out this cigar. It remains a solid medium bodied smoke for me. I have read reviews that stated it became tart or bitter into the last third. I did not experience that with this one.

Overall the Tennessee Waltz was a solid medium bodied, flavorful cigar with great construction, even burn, perfect draw, not super complex but consistent throughout the entire smoke. I enjoyed this cigar a lot and would recommend it to anyone. For me, it is a box worthy cigar and I will certainly smoke it again. Total time was right at 1 hour 40 minutes.

After Nashville we took the 2 hour drive to Louisville and stopped in at Four Roses Bourbon distillery for a tour and tasting and then over to Woodford Reserve for another tasting (we got there too late to tour). The next morning I realized that our hotel was literally a couple blocks from Angel’s Envy bourbon so we had to stop in. They recently re-opened their distillery and we didn’t have reservations for the tour but still scored a nice bottle and shirt. Overall I would say it was a busy, but very nice getaway. It helps that I came home with new cigars and 3 bottles of really nice bourbon.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my review. Please drop your comments and reviews here. Take a few minutes and click on the links below.

Up next, the Oscar goes to….. Check back and find out.

Peace!

Please visit: http://www.crownedheads.com/cigars/

http://smokersabbey.squarespace.com/

http://www.primingscigar.com/

 

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