Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas Stogies - Part 1

With over two weeks in Ireland over Christmas and New years, I've been a bit quiet with the blogging, but not with the cigar smoking.  No way hose. 

After an early ferry across the Irish sea, we kicked things off with a night out with the Doyles, Kaz, Rolo, Chip Lanigan and Suzie.  An early meal in a great little Thai restaurant, followed by a gallon of Guinness in Delaneys pub in Smithfield, and we were on our way to the first major hangover of week.

I brought some Culebra with me for the three amigos so needless to say, after a lovely meal, a good few pints, a great cigar and many victorious games of pool, I was a happy man, if more than a little bit merry.
Kaz and Rolo gave me a fantastic birthday present of a box of Macanudo Robusto and John and Gill brought me the coolest box of matches ever, all the way from Mexico!

The following morning and we were on the road to Galway to enjoy a week of gale force winds and driving rain.  Not exactly cigar smoking weather but I made do and set up shop in the car (Don't worry, I won't start calling it the ci-car), with some good English bitter and even better Guinness to keep me going.

I got a nice surprise when Gearoid and Cillian produced cigar shaped Christmas presents which turned out to be a Cohiba Siglo VI, a Monte Cristo and a Partagas Serie P No.2.  Excellent cigars, one of which didn't make it back to London.  I also got a box of assorted seeds from Ina, some of which will be planted this weekend when I kick off Gardening 2012.

There wasn't a lot else to do as the weather made things difficult, but we did manage an afternoon at Ashford castle, for champagne afternoon tea, as you do.

Ashford castle is a lovely spot that has been graced by all sorts of famous people over the years.  Larry Hagman, Bob Hope, Sir Alex Ferguson.  Surprisingly, they declined my photo for the famous faces gallery.  Their loss.  I won't be making that offer again.  Nice cakes though.

Check out their webiste which starts off with a breathtaking fly-by of the castle and grounds.  A great spot that definitely worth checking out if you ever get the chance.

My Christmas day cigars were a Cohiba Behike 52 and a Cohiba Robusto.  The robusto was first up.  This was a present from my wife for my birthday and it was full and tasty cigar.  A real pleasure to smoke, taking well over an hour and going down well with some chilled St. Peters best bitter.

I was really looking forward to my first Behike.  There's been so much hype over these cigars, and with a fairly heafty price tag coupled with some great reviews, I had great expectations and was even feeling excited about what was surely going to be a great cigar.

Well, you should never smoke your heros, as this cigar let me down.  It only got interesting towards the end and was nowhere nearly as good as the robusto I had earlier in the day.  Certainly not worth the price tag.  The burn was off and although the cigar looks great, I found it lacking.

Maybe the bigger ring gauge behikes are better, but I'm sorry to say that the 52 was a disappointment.  My advice is go for a robusto.

Barney, in case you're reading this, I was planning on having the special edition Partagas you gave me in Luxembourg as my Christmas cigar, but I decided it was too special and to keep it long term instead, so it's now safely back in the humidor.

I had a lot more cigars over the Christmas, so I'll cover them off next time.  I might even have a new cigar smoking buddy in the making...

Best birthday ever

Behike - Nice but no great cigar
Best robusto ever

Sunday, 18 December 2011

The O'Fogies

The wife turned 40 last Friday and believe it or not, I waved goodbye to my thirties the very next day.  I know, I bagged myself a sugar mammy.  Just about.

For the record, she's actually a day and a half older.  There's a good 36 hours between us.

To celebrate, we had food and drinks and friends around on Saturday and I was planning on smoking something special.  But before that, I had some presents to attend to.

Apart from the cigarf already mentioned, I did pretty well with the presents this year.

I got some gardening stuff and a trip to Madrid in March.  I got some CDs by M-83 and I'm told that we're also going to see them when we're in Madrid, so that's nice.  With any luck, the cast from Johns birthday celebrations in Luxembourg will be there with us.  Everybody except Shivo, but you probably don't remember him.

Also in the birthday gift bundle was a a six cigar selection the the wife put together, which included four new ones for me.  A Cohiba behike 52 and a Partagas Lusitania being the stand out picks.

The days celebrations involved lots of food and drink with friends and neighbours dropping by to commiserate the passing of our youth.  I popped out to the garden to enjoy a cigar while I could and before anybody arrived.  I selected a Bolivar Gold Medal as my birthday cigar, which was a new cigar for me and a fine cigar it was too.

Picked up in Luxembourg a couple of weeks back, the cigar comes mostly covered in a gold wrapper and to be honest, although it looks alright, I'm not mad on the idea.  It does save you picking at the band because that's on the outside of the wrapper, but I found the wrapper a bit fidgety to get off.  That obviously didn't spoil the cigar in any way but it was just a bit of unwanted hassle.

The cigar was perfect.  Nothing bad to report.  Strong and smokey and went to the nub, which is what you want.  Do yourself a favour and get yourself some Gold Medals.

Most of the people who dropped by came armed with a small child, so we had a nice family friendly afternoon with fizzy drinks (alcoholic) and finger food.  They brought some lovely gifts with them, most of which was consumed on the day.

As the day wore on, I was looking to get out to the garden for another cigar.  Thankfully, Jim arrived over with his lovely new girlfriend, Alana.  Jim likes a cigar now and then but he didn't have much time so I selected an robusto sized Mexican cigar for him, and a Partagas Serie P No.2 for myself.

As Jim examined and rolled the Mexican under his nose, the bouquet brought images to Jim' mind of sweaty man crotch.  I reminded him that cigars are rolled between the thighs of virgins but that just brought other unwanted images to Jims mind, images involving Mexican men plus tobacco and you pretty much get the picture.

So we dumped the Mexican and I took Jim up to view the selection on offer.  I should have picked this one to begin with but I had forgotten about it.  The name alone makes Jim stand to attention and salute.  Best name ever in his opinion and he's probably right too.  Winston Churchill Lancaster.  A name every proud English man would love to have for themselves.

Two words Jim - deed poll.

My Partagas was good but not great.  I think they need to settle for a few more months and I've found the Serie P to be like this in the past.  Jim enjoyed his Lancaster immensely and raved about it non stop.   So a nice little cigar, good construction, great in the hand and it made Jim a happy man, as has his lovely new girlfriend.

Our next adventure brings us home for Christmas.  We're loading up the car with booze and presents and making our way across the Irish sea, to the land of saints and babysitters.  The three amigos will be together on Friday in Dublin, before we head to Galway for Christmas, so I'm looking forward to that.

I'll be bringing a good supply of cigars to keep me going over the two weeks and hopefully this year, the weather will be good enough to get some golf in and some days out with the wife. 

Have a great Christmas everybody. (except Shivo)

P.S.  The title credits go to the Doyles who addressed our birthday card to Mr & Mrs O'Fogies.  A nice touch so thank you John and Gill.

Birthday Cigar and Birthday Beverage
Birthday Pressies

Saturday, 10 December 2011

The Badger

My friend Peter "The Badger" Wallace came to visit last week.  He loves his badgers.  A bit more than us normal folk but each to their own, and I suppose we all have our own obsessions.  His just happens to be badgers.  And cycling.  He's a bit retro tour-de-France obsessed too.  All good.

To celebrate, I went for one of the Ramon Allones Superiores that was bought at Casa del Habano in Luxembourg.  The man who suggested them knew I'd like them and he wasn't wrong.  A powerful cigar, full and strong, and for around €8, I'd have to say great value too.

The badger brought his sister Fionnuala with him.  Joe and Sandy arrived over too and it was nice to catch up as we've not seen each other in ages.

Peter said he fancied a cigar so after giving him the obligatory tour-de-humidor, he selected one of the small Montecristo that sit in the depths.  Perfect for a quick smoke out in freezing air.  I took one of the same and we had a nice 10 minutes in the garden. 

The following afternoons cigar was another Ramon Allones but this time I went for one of the edicion Limitada 2011.  I loved this cigar when I had it a few months ago and although I did enjoy this one, it wasn't as great as I remembered.  I found myself comparing it to the superiore so maybe that was my mistake.

That was it for last weekend cigars.  The weathers taken a turn for the worse and it gets pretty cold sitting out in the garden for an hour, cigar gloves or otherwise.  To make things a bit more comfortable, the wife bought me a scarf to go with the gloves.  I call it a cigarf, obviously.

Ronan (a Brother-in-law) arrived back from Australia early in order to surprise everybody for Christmas, which was nice.  It was very kind and thoughtful of him to bring me an early Christmas present.  A three pack of Romeo y Julieta No.2, which are an old favourite, and a box of five cigars from the Philippines, which I never knew existed if I'm honest.  That's the cigars, not the Philippines.

I took one of the Filipino cigars out on Thursday night to go with a lovely Californian Zin we picked up earlier in the day.  I admit that I wasn't expecting much from the cigar, but it did look nice.  A solid feel with a good colour and decent construction.  A little bit veiny but nothing major.

It actually turned out to be good and I enjoyed it very much.  The only problem was that I was freezing which ruined the enjoyment a little, but a very cold thumbs up for Filipino tobacco.

My thoughts are with the people killed, lost and left homeless by the storm and flash floods in the Philippines recently.

RA Superiore


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Hangover - Part Two

Saturday began early enough considering.

It was raining, cold and a bit miserable but we all braved Luxembourgs public transport system, which is excellent by the way, and made our way towards town.  Chip Lanigan didn't have a hat so he improvised by putting a plastic bag on his head.  He couldn't see where he was going so he fashioned out some eye holes with his teeth.  It turned out to be a wise move as the rain came down.

After a bite to eat, we hit the Christmas market to get some gluhwein into us and warm our bones. 

Gluhwein is basically German mulled wine and best drunk hot.  With our bones somewhat warmer, beer and cigars were next.

There are a few cigar shops in Luxembourg but this one is my favourite.  I must get the name and take a few photos next time we're over.

I had an interesting manly man chat about cigars with the man behind the counter who recommended the some of the following purchases...

A delicious box of 10 Ramon Allones Superiores
A delicious box of 9 Partagas Celebra + an extra box of 3 for the Amigos.
Two Ramon Allones Extra - Limited Edition 2011
Two Ramon Allones Gigantes
Two Bolivar Gold Medals

When we got to the pub, the girls and Chip Lanigan were already there so we got a few drinks in before getting the Culebras going while Chip took the bag off his head.

A Culebra in this bar is now a three Amigos tradition and a couple of hours I will look forward to every time.

It's a great little cigar.  It used to be €16 for a box of three, but is now on sale for €21.  It's still good value, but only just.  At €7 each, I'd have to say they're pushing it.  That said, the cigar does last much longer than you'd expect for it's size and never disappoints.  They did go out quite a few times but this was just a minor annoyance.

Barney and Rima soon arrived with Barney blazing a stogie of his own.  He also brought a lovely Partagas No.4 limited edition 2010 which he presented to me in thanks of the previous nights cigar.

The Three Amigos are now four.

It was a much appreciated gift from Barney who said it was his favourite, so I'm taking it to Ireland with me to enjoy on Christmas day.  Roll on the 25th.

Next up was dinner in a great Italian restaurant.  Everybody had a wonderful meal.  Everybody except me.  I managed to pick the only rubbish thing on the menu.  Thankfully though, the wife and Kaz felt sorry for me and donated much of their own steaks to bolster my petty portions.  Add bread and fries and I was sorted.  More wine was also had.

After dinner, we headed over to Decibel for more beers, before jumping on the bus that was taking us to see The Smashing Pumpkins.

The Pumpkins were smashing.  However, I did have to spend much of my time defending John from his stalker and my arch enemy.  A strange fellow called Shivo who seems to spend most of his time trying to touch John.  Well, who could blame him really.  But John is my best friend so he seriously needs to back off.

After the gig, the beer bus brought us back to Decibel where we enjoyed more madness until around 3am.   It's strange to be in a smoking pub but I made full use and got one of the RA Gigantes going.  Such a large cigar that the sheer size of it drew a few gasps from the locals, but they all looked on approvingly.

Sunday saw Kaz, Rolo and Chip head home.  How they managed to get up and go is beyond me.  The rest of us went back to bed to think about it.  A while later, Gill cooked up breakfast and we went to the shops before they dropped us off at the airport.

I was feeling incredibly rough by this stage.  Apart from the hangover, I was now suffering for a full blown head cold, so I was glad to get back home a few hours later.  On the way through the airport, we picked up 2 packs of 3 Partagas Serie P No.2s.

Not quite another airport drama but here's how it went down...

Assistant: Hello Sir, how may I help you.
Me: I'd like some cigars please
Assistant: Where are you flying to today?
Me: London
Assistant: Which one?
Me: The one in England
Assistant: No...which one, which cigars would you like?
Me: Oh right...

That's about it for John' Birthday bash so I'll leave you with some photos of the weekends madness.  These are the more acceptable photos.  Most are too disturbing for public consumption.

This blog update was brought to you courtesy of the French Movember on Rolo' face.  All donations are most welcome and I can be contacted for details.

**Since first publishing this blog post earlier this evening, I've since been informed that my favourite shop is La Casa Del Habano Luxembourg.   The link is to their facebook page.  Like it.  I forgot to mention that the nice man also sold me a 7 year old Cuban rum. 

Don't try this at home kids, this man is a trained professional

The Four Amigos

Apparently, he doesn't look a day over 40

Chip and I

Making some women happy

The strange fellow

My hair product

My Guitar Hero plays Stairway to Jevens (ba dum tish)

Sunday, 4 December 2011

The Hangover

The weekend ended almost exactly like it did in the movie, with me flicking through the photos of the carnage that was Saturday night.

Friday night was a bit of a blur too.

The weekend started off with a flight from London City airport to Luxembourg.  I was wondering what airport drama might happen this time...  Previously on "Airport Idiot", Mark picks up John' passport instead of my own but doesn't realise until it's too late.  A costly mistake.  Next time he takes the wrong bag from baggage reclaim but once again, he realises too late.

This time though, it wasn't entirely my fault.  Little Miss picky picky security guard told me my hair product tub was 20 grammes over the allowance of 100.  I wouldn't mind but I have very little hair left to play with and even though the tub was already half empty, there was still a good few months worth of it left. (That's the product, not my hair thank you for asking dear wife)

That wasn't the issue though.  At the first bag check, I had to dump a tub of ello vera because it was too big, then at the X-Ray screening I ended up getting a full body pat-down.  After all that, I was being told to open my bag...not easy with it's broken zip tags...only for the woman to notice that I was smuggling the oversized hair product container in the clear plastic bag.

She then tells me I can go back and check in my bag...I agree to this but I get a little bit angry too.  Why wasn't I told this before I came through the bag checks?  Why didn't the first woman who picked out my allo vera tell me this before I lobbed that into the bin?  And what did you want to see in my bag?  Then why did you ask me to open it?

So off I storm off, back to the checkin desk, but stopping on the way to reach into the bin to retrieve vera.

As I pass the first set of guards, I'm told that I need to ask for a new boarding pass. Thank you.  I check my bag in, explain what happened, and ask for a new pass...long story short, my new boarding pass doesn't work so I get sent back for another, and that doesn't work either...anyway...

I make the plane.

I get to Luxembourg.

I calm down.

The whole reason for the trip to Luxembourg was to celebrate the 40th Birthday of my oldest friend.  He's not actually my oldest friend so that should probably read, my longest friend, but that presents it's own problems.   What I should say is that John has been my friend longer than anybody else in the whole world.

With that in mind, it was with a heavy heart that I arrived empty handed.  Apart from a nice Cohiba for John, a bottle of XO and two bottles of Baileys Irish cream, biscotti and some other flavour...the Birthday present I was hoping to get John wasn't available in London.  I thought it was but it wasn't.  Big mistake but everything will be sorted out by Christmas, so don't worry John. 

I know, I'm the worst best friend ever.

So, we kicked off celebrations on Friday night.  Gillian cooked some lovely food and John showed us how to open Champagne with a saber.  As the night wore on, most of us had a go at taking the top off a bottle with the sword.  Easy when you know how.  Rima takes credit for the best attempt with my good self a very close second, even if I do say so myself.

The cigars I brought over for the evening were a Cohiba for John, Rolo had a Regius robusto,  Barney had the other Cuban, a El Rey del Mundo Choix de L Epoque (UK 2009 Regional), and I went for a  Camacho Corojo Toro Cello.

To be fair to all these cigars, I was a little bit tipsy when asking how each of the fine fellows were enjoying them, so I'm not entirely sure I remember the opinions expressed, but I'll give it a go.

My cigar was only alright.  A lovely looking stick but that was about it.  It had a weird draw and never really got going.  Disappointing.  Not sure if I could be bothered with one again to be honest, so that's all I'll say about that.

I honestly don't remember if John enjoyed the Cohiba but I'd imagine he did.

Barney had a bit of trouble with his little El Rey and it burned badly down one side.  I think it was more trouble that it was worth.

The best reviews were from Rolo and his Regius Robusto.  I said in a my last blog entry why I went with the Regius, and I'm glad Rolo enjoyed it.  Excluding the Cohiba, which I can't remember, the Regius was the winner on the night so congratulations Regius.

After dinner and copious amounts of alcohol at the Doyles, we decided we should probably head to the pub.  Things get a bit blurry after that but thankfully we all made it back safe and sound.  No trips to the hospital this time, and a good night was had by all.

Be sure to check out the best pub in Luxembourg - Decibel

Next time, I'll cover off the rest of the weekend.  We had more fun and games on Saturday and I picked up a shed load of cigars on the way.

Many thanks to John and Gill for a great weekend.  It always great to see them both, not forgetting Rolo and Kaz, Barney and Rima and Johns Fan Club at Decibel.

Kaz bottle topping

Rolo bottle topping

Two Cigars - One Winner

Fr. X-Mas

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

What age are you!?

Although I'm told "How old are you?" is the correct way to ask the question, but I prefer "What age are you?".  I normally ask it with raised eyebrows and a smirk.

It doesn't matter which one you go for because apparantly, these questions are no longer allowed.  It's ageist you see and we can't have that.

Every man knows that you never ask a woman her age, unless I suppose, you suspect her to be under age, then you probably should.  I'm not sure the judge will let you off with a warning when you tell him a gentleman never asks.

I don't have to ask John Doyle his age because I know he'll be 40 on Saturday.

I don't have to ask my wife her age either, because I know that one too.  Shes...younger than John.

I'm a couple of weeks behind John and so I leave my thirties behind very soon too.  I don't mind turning 40.  What's to mind?  I've had a great time in my thirties and look forward to more of the same in my fourties, only less clubbing and more sleeping. 

I've just been told that I didn't do much clubbing in my thirties, that was my twenties. 

We're off to celebrate John' big day in Luxembourg tomorrow, and to help with the celebrations, I've a few choice Birthday cigars lined up.

I wanted something special for John, plus some new cigars for myself, Raul and Barney to fight over.

John gets a nice Cohiba Siglo III.  I thought Raul and Barney might enjoy a Regius Robusto or an El Rey del Mundo, which leaves a Camacho Corojo Toro Cello for myself.

The Cohiba looks great and I think John will enjoy it.  The little El Rey looks like a little power house, short and wide.  The Comacho is completely new to me.  It's quite dark and interesting looking and big also.  The Regius was selected because Regius put a link to my blog on their website, so I think they deserve it on that alone.  I did enjoy it last time so I know it's good enough for the celebrations to come.

I mainly picked these cigars thinking that they would suit the boys so I hope I was right.

Luxembourg is a great place for cigars and I'm really looking forward to picking up enough to get me through the next six months at least. *coughBirthdaypresentscough*

Friday, 18 November 2011

Christmas is coming...woo

I know, it's still November, but Christmas is already in the air and has been for weeks.  In the air, on the TV, in the papers.  The toy adverts are in full flow and all the major shopping streets have turned on the Christmas lights.  Weekend shopping has become even more unbearable.

I hate shopping about as much as I hate X-Factor and believe me, that's a lot.  Actually no, I hate it more than that, but it's certainly on the same level as Strictly.  (If you don't know what Strictly is, then count yourself lucky)

In case this was in doubt or if I was somehow thinking that Christmas was still miles off, the wife brought me to an exhibition at Earl's Court, an exhibition called "The ideal homes show at Christmas".

Two problems here.  Firstly, it's not Christmas, it's November.  Secondly, it's far from ideal.  It should really be called "The Nighmare before Christmas in November".

Surprisingly,  the event was a massive disappointment.  It was not the Christmasy, snowy, elf-fest I was hoping for, with mulled wine and sleigh bells roasting on an open fire.  Nothing of the sort.  It was more like your average Sunday market mixed with the shopping channel, only more Sunday market than QVC.

I suggest a law be passed.  A law to keep Christmas in December.  That's a whole month of Christmas.  One month should be enough. Two months is just greedy and a month too many in my opinion.  What's that thing where if you get 75,000 signatories, the government has to debate it?  I think I might start one off.  Might be a bit late this time round but there's always next year.

Thankfully, it wasn't all bad last week.  Gearoid arrived over with Sean and Lulu.  Lulu brought cigars.  One for me.  How ever did she know?  It matters not.  I was very happy with the gift.

The cigar was a Montecristo Especial, which is a long slender cigar with a small pigtail.  As I said in the past, I'm not mad on Montes but this view is definitely changing.  The clubs I had a few weeks ago were excellent, and this was a fine cigar too.  Definitely an afternoon cigar in my view.  Not heavy, with a nice easy burn which required no work.  A perfect burn with a good draw and good smoke.  Big thanks to Lulu and Sean.

Gearoid brough me some excellent Cohibas when he last graced our shores, so it was nice surprise when he picked up a La Rica Corona from Nicaragua.  He picked it up in Cambridge, not Nicaragua in case you wondered.  This one was a disappointment though.  No flavour and absolutely nothing to note.  A big fail for La Rica but big thanks to Gearoid.

Unfortunately, Sean wasn't feeling too well on Saturday night and wasn't up to smoking his Monte.  I was off to bed early so that left Gearoid, and he probably didn't want to smoke on his own, so as they both left for the airport the next day, I had to take charge of both Montes.  Shame that.

It's been a bit of a stressful week.  I had my first IT related exam since 1999 and was happy to get it out of the way.  The La Rica was my celebration cigar, but it was a bit of a let down so I might be having one of those abandoned Montes to compensate.

I did have a few other interesting cigars last week.  One was a stripey number from Vegas.  My Dad brought it over earlier in the year and it turned out alright for something that was as dry as the moon when it got here.  The other cigar was the second from last of the aged Sancho Panza' from 1998.  I'll miss them when they're gone so I've decided to save the last one for a few years or so.  I'd seriously recommend aged cigars if you get the chance.  I picked up the box of 10 from C-Gars Ltd and was more than happy with what I got. 

Here are some photos from the week that was.

Artwork by my Son + a Monte

Last of the Cohibas

Viva Las Vegas


La Stinka

Sunday, 13 November 2011


Cigar mittens, cigar mitts, or cimitts (Smiths) for short.

I'd like to lay claim as the inventor, but alas, I cannot.  Nobody can.  I know of one guy who adapted his mittens for cigarettes by putting a cigarette sized hole into a webbed thumb-index finger construction.  Then there's the ginger bloke who claims that his girlfriend knitted him mittens but without the top part that covers the "smoking" fingers.  I'm not so sure.

Maybe she did, maybe she didn't, but if she did, she really needs to get herself a life, and a new boyfriend while she's at it.  If I was that woman and he asked me to knit smoking gloves, as per his crude design, I'd just get the scissors out and chop the fingers off his normal gloves.  Job done.  I'd probably do his socks while I was at it, taking a diagonal across the big toe area.

So, I don't believe him.  I can easily imagine my own wife's reaction if I put that question to her.  I can actually see her falling off the couch in tears laughing.

My solution, after I googled it, was to buy a pair fingerless gloves, but with a fingers cover for non cigar smoking times.  Johnny D has a lovely pair actually, of fingerless gloves that is, and so using John as inspiration, as I normally do, I invested in a pair of said gloves.

I tried them out last night, which was not particularly cold night, but with the cigar lasting around 90 minutes, and with a cold beer to keep it company, my new gloves proved themselves and passed with flying colours.

The cigar I enjoyed was bought in Dublin last time we visited.  It was rolled and bought at the Decent Cigar Emporium and the guy in the shop sold it to me by saying how great it was.  I believed and trusted this man and I'm happy to report that everything he said was true.

It was a non-banded cigar, rolled with aged (so he said) tobacco by a famous grade-9 torcedor on tour last year and I have to admit, it was one of the finest cigars I've smoked to date.

The burn wasn't great, and I had to keep the torch lighter on hand and give it a blast every now and then.  It didn't actually go out at any stage, it just needed some encouragement along the way.

Those of you that read my blog know that I don't do the full in depth analysis of notes and whatnot, but this one stood out and so I'm going to do one...

The flavours started to come through after a few draws, with leather and spice to begin with followed by strong citrus towards the middle.  The citrus flavour then mixed with the spices and the leather faded away.  The flavours suddenly stopped and I thought the cigar was through, then a few draws later, I was hit by a lovely nutty cocoa flavour which stayed with the cigar until the end.  I almost let this cigar go early as I though it had run it's race, but it came alive again and ended up a finger burner.  A great cigar and when we get back to Dublin for Christmas, I'll have to drop by the shop to see if they have any left. 

The next cigar adventure comes up in a few weeks time when we hit Luxembourg for Johnnys Birthday.  My mission, find suitable cigars.  Good times ahead no doubt.  Last time we visited Luxembourg, John laughed so hard, he fell off his bike.

Real Cigar Mitts

Real Cigar
How to make your own

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

A Crisp Too Far

Tatyo crisps are banned from entering the Sultanate of Oman.  That's a fact.  To be fair, it's probably not just Tayto crisps.  I'm sure there's other stuff on the list.  Sheep for example.  I'd imagine you'd have problems there.  Pigs are a definite no no.  I am guessing here of course.  All I do know for sure is that Tayto Cheese'n'Onion are on the no-fly list.

Presumably this ban is down to the environmental disaster caused by crisp bags back in Ireland.  I don't live there anymore, but I believe crisp bags have been banned, and you have to bring your own bags with you when out shopping for crisps.

Whatever the reasons, the 6-pack of Tayto we brought over to Oman, fell foul of food immigration laws and never made it to Wayne's belly.

Shame but they're only crisps.  A taste of home but still only crisps.  Dangerous as they might appear, they  are only crisps.

I didn't bother picking up cigars in Male or Muscat on the way back because I'm going to stock up in Luxembourg next month, when we're over for John's 40th.  Male have a small selection and Muscat have a nice walk in humidor but I really couldn't be bothered trying to work out how to convert Rials or Rufiyaa into Sterling.

So I gave up on the humidor in Muscat and went in search of Wayne.  We met up and had an hour or so over a coffee.  After over 20 years, it was lovely to meet up.  Hopefully it won't be another 20 years before we meet up again.

Over the course of the week away, I enjoyed some Roman Allones Gigantes, Sancho Panza's, some lovely Cohiba, Monte Cristo' and Partagas.  The Jimmy Saville Partagas was my favourite.

One cigar made it home intact.  A Cohiba Siglo VI tubed that the wife got me months back, survived the week so I'm now keeping it for new years eve.  Why not.

The Luggage

Evening Cohiba

Sir Jimmy Saville Tribute Cigar


Indian Ocean

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Paradise Lost

This is our third trip to the Maldives, the wife and I, and funnily enough, it also happens to be our third honeymoon.  This time we booked through Expedia, rather than Trailfinders, who we normally use, and that might have something to do with the difference between where we've previously been, and where we are now.  To cut to the chase, it's not that great.

The flight with Oman Air was excellent.  The economy class seats have plenty of leg room and the movies on offer are new and selectable at any time, so they're not stuck in sequence.  Thor was the best.

The first leg to Muscat was 7.5 hours, 8.5 if I include the hour delay leaving Heathrow, which left us 10 minutes to catch our connecting flight to Male.  Once off the plane, we felt we should probably rush, but needn't have bothered as they held the plane for us.  Nice people the Omanians.

Standing at the gate, waiting to greet us was a guy I hadn't seen in years, since leaving school or even before that, so it was a shame we had to rush through.  Wayne is a pilot with Oman Air, and as I now felt connected, I was expecting to be called up to the flight deck by our captain, but he never called.  Strange that.  I was thinking a 6 pack of Tayto wasn't a good enough bribe, but there's always the return leg.  Fingers crossed.

At Heathrow airport, I was looking to pick up some duty free cigars.  Unfortunately though, the only outlet in Terminal 3 sells them tax free, not duty free.  They are a little bit cheaper than normal, but not much, and some brands were actually more expensive than C-Gars Ltd, which I was using as a reference.  Cigarettes are duty free, but not cigars, which seems a bit unfair to me.

Anyway, mustn't grumble as I picked up a 5 pack of Cohiba Siglo IV's and a 3 pack of tubed Montecristo Open Masters.  We also spotted Richard Branson smiling and waving at the peasants as he made his way to the Indian Grand Prix.

The Cohiba's were excellent and the Monte's weren't bad either.  I'm not a big fan of Monte's normally as I find them a bit harsh but the Open's were lovely and so I'm giving them a thumbs up.

When we arrived at the resort, we were greeted with a cold towel and a sugary cordial.  We were then left to wait for ages, until we were eventually told our room wasn't available until tomorrow.  To make it up to us, after we complained, we were offered a seafood dinner.  We accepted and were lead to our substitute room, which was horrible.

Not a great start.

To be fair to the place, and I could go on about it's faults, the staff are great and all the place needs is a refurb and some investment.  That includes the food.

The please forgive us meal was lobster, which we had to argue to get, as it was going to be a mix of all sorts of fish, cuttle fish for example, but we got the lobster which was lovely.  The rest of the meal was lovely too, even the Californian wine was alright.  I do like my Californian wines but I think they keep all the good stuff for themselves.

One thing that stood out straight away, and this is not the resorts fault, but down to certain national stereotypes that live here for a week or two.  Some leave their towels on the sun loungers, and others sing vodka fueled drinking songs and bring their Grandmothers with them.

I don't mind the drinking songs, although it was a bit aggressive, but the towel people bother me.  Bringing your own towel to Paradise is bad enough but to leave it on a lounger while you are off doing God knows what, just seems chavvy to me.

Anyway, I'll let it go for now.

The wife bought me a Partagas Serie P No.2 recently which I brought with me.  This is a new cigar, and although it was good, I wasn't that impressed by it.  It's not fair to judge it on one cigar alone, so I'll need a few more.  It's possible the heat and humidity had a hand in it.

I did have a big monster of a Partagas that we got in Dublin a while back.  Now this cigar was excellent from start to finish despite the heat and humidity.  This was my Jimmy Saville tribute cigar and it was a worthy tribute to a cigar lover and unique individual.

Now then.  We have three days left in Paradise and I have 7 cigars left.  Should be enough.

Abandoned but not forgotten


Well earned rest

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Hello Mammy

Apologies.  I know it's been ages since my last post, but due to sickness, busyness and other things, I've not posted in a while.  The post below is one I drafted a few weeks ago, so it's a little out of date, but here goes anyway...

My Mother came to visit recently, and apart from the sausages and stuff she normally brings, she also brought a little something for me.  A cigar no less.

This particular cigar flew all the way from Las Vegas to Dublin, and from there to London.  It's now happily resting in my humidor, the lucky thing.  Very lucky in fact, as somebody had it living in a fridge for a while.

All said ,after two flights and a stint in the cooler, it actually feels and looks pretty good, if just a little bit squished from my Mothers handbag.

My Dad, who got the cigar from a bloke in the pub, was told that the fridge was the best place for it.  Luckily though, he phoned me and asked if this was true, and I put him straight.  I heard my mother voice in the background, softly shouting those immortal words... "I told you so".

Arriving early Friday afternoon, my Mother was on baby minding duty, so I took advantage and started off early with a Ramon Allones Gigantes.  The cigar was excellent but I was suffering from cold fingers, as it's getting a bit cold over here now, so I'm in search of cigar-mittens for the winter months.  It was nice and warm out when the cigar started, but not when it finished.  The fingerless gloves search begins.

A few hours after the RA Gigantes, I smoked another Cuban great.  A Cohiba Siglo IV.  This one was from a pack of 5 that recently made it's way here from Hong Kong, courtesy of Gearoid.  The Siglo IV is a great cigar and Cohiba are not cheap, so many thanks to Gearoid, and a fine choice too.

Both cigars were flawless.  The Cohiba looks and feels like a quality cigar and that's exactly what it is.  I love Cohiba.

On Saturday, we brought the boy to the London Transport museum.  Now for a little boy who's absolutely mad about cars, we thought he might enjoy himself a little, and he did exactly that.

He absolutely loved it.  Running everywhere, shouting his head off.  KAA! TACI! BUZZTS!

Not sure he has a word for train yet, but he went mad for those too.

The London Transport Museum is a great place for both kids and grown ups, with lots to keep both interested.  Not that I had much time to get interested in anything, as I was busy running after that car-razy (sorry) child of mine.

On the way home, we stopped off at the cigar shop in Selfridges.  I've never visited it before, and I certainly won't be visiting it again.  It's a branch of JJ Fox's, and being Selfridges, I thought prices might be a little bit higher than normal, but I was wrong, they were in fact, a lot higher than normal.

The shop is layed out with the Cubans on the right side and rest of world cigars on the left, with a good selection of both to choose from.  Seeing as everything was way over-priced, I went for a new cigar to the market, a Ramon Allones Limited Edition 2011.  At £18, I knew I was being ripped off and when I checked their website later, I found out I was ripped off by about £5.50.  

Despite the price, the cigar itself was a revelation.  I don't think I've ever smoked anything as smooth and balanced as this cigar.  It did burn a bit unevenly and needed a few relights, but even so, it was generous with smoke and went down to the nub.

The thing that really grabbed me straight away with this cigar was how smooth the smoke was.  It was slightly warm but never hot or harsh.  It was the most moreish cigar I ever had.

The wrapper was dark with the foot coming up slightly darker than the rest.  It has its' own unique look, a mature cigar that's pleasing to look at, but it's not about aesthetics with this one, it's way beyond that.  Although I did think the band looked pretty cool.

An absolute winner for me then, and I'll definitely be looking to pick up a box of these babies sometime soon.

We finished off the weekend with a trip to the Museum of London.  Yes, I know, a cultured weekend was had, more culture than I'm used to anyway.  After the MoL, we took an elevator ride to the roof of that new shopping centre opposed St. Pauls, which gives a great view of south west London and St. Pauls.  It's worth checking out.

So that's another visit over.  Donnacha was in great form all weekend and had a great time with his Granny.  Shame it's going to be two months before they get to hang out again, but two months isn't really that long.

No photos for this post, but I should have some next time to make up for it.  I'm three weeks behind and have to catch up, so I'll have plenty of pics in the next posting which should be in a day or two.  Until then so.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Last of the summer cigars

Summer made a triumphant return the other week.  The temperatures hit 30 degrees during the day and the humidity hit 91% during the night.  Great cigar smoking weather.

Speaking of hot weather.  In just a few weeks time, myself and the wife are off on our holidays.  Apart from spending quality time with the wife, which is the best bit, obviously, I'll be spending quality time with some quality cigars.

I'll have a Partagas Serie E No.2 with me, which the wife got for me a few weeks back.  This is a new cigar to the UK market, just out in fact, so I'm looking forward to that.

It was actually a surprise from Caitriona, along with a Cohiba Robusto.  A nice surprise and an excellent choice.

Also arriving at Casa di mio the other week were my Sister, her husband Howie and their three lovely kids.  We had a great weekend with the kids, squeezing in London zoo and some 10 pin bowling, but the highlight of the weekend, for me anyway, was the victory over Howie in the Sunday morning golf extravaganza.

Howie played magnificently.  Playing off 18, on a new course, using Jim's golf clubs (once described as "women's clubs" by the Father in law), he still managed a huge score of 43 points.

Sadly, for him though, it wasn't enough.  Also playing off 18, I racked up a grand total of 47 points, with 26 of those points on the back 9.  A back 9 that included 3 birdies. 

I'm not one to brag but that was the highest score I've every hit, and the most birdies in a round, so I enjoyed that one.

On Friday night, myself an Howie enjoyed a Ramon Allones Gigantes.  We also enjoyed a fair amount of beers.  So a fair amount of beers, a large cigar, plus a days traveling and poor Howie was out cold by 10:30.

I lasted another 10 minutes.

Some other cigars I got to enjoy lately were a Macanudo Maduro, a Cuesta Rey Centenario and the Cohiba Robusto that the wife got me, all pictured below.  I'm not sure if I mentioned the Macanudo or Cuesta previously but just in case I didn't, I'll quickly cover them off.

The Macanudo was excellent.  A great looking cigar with a lovely smell that the wife liked, so I'll have to get some more of these, seeing as they smell nice.  The Cuesta was OK.  Nothing special but a nice evening smoke and I did enjoy it.  The Cohiba however, was a bit of a disappointment.  I probably should have left this one sit for a while because it didn't burn well.  A great cigar but I expected better.  Too many corrections to the burn.  Shame but this sometimes happens.

Next time I'll be talking about some new arrivals from Hong Kong, and my mother is coming to visit.  So it should be action packed.

Until then.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Grand Theft Auto

Not the video game, or the musical for that matter.  I'm talking Grand Theft Auto, the crime.

This is the all-too-common tale of a young boy who walked the fine line between good, and the not so good.  This boy knew no bounds.  His bedtime was 9:30pm, but sometimes he stayed up till way past 10.

They say he fell in with the wrong crowd.  He went into creche a baby but came out a toddler.  He knew all the tricks.

Those of us that were there that day will never forget what we saw.

Nobody saw it coming.  These things just don't happen around here.  They only happen in the movies.  Nothing could have prepared us for what happened next.

The boy turned around, clutching 3 small cars to his chest.  He walked slowly, purposefully to the kitchen door.  He waited.  He shot me a sidewards glance and I knew what I had to do.  I went over and opened the kitchen door.  He walked out.  He didn't look back as he made his way to the front door.  He stopped.  I followed.  I opened the door, and he made good his escape.

The innocent owners of the cars never knew a thing.

Their Mammy witnessed everything, but said nothing.  Too afraid to talk.

This was not a motiveless crime however.  The car's owners were asked to share some of the dozens of cars in their possession.  They refused.  They paid the price.

To celebrate my Son's criminal coming of age, I decided to contemplate his actions, by enjoying a Grafton Reserve Robusto followed by Ramon Allones Gigantes.

The GRR is only available to the Irish market, so they say, and who am I to doubt this claim.

I've had a few GRR's on previous visits and they were always nice, but this was my first GRR robusto.  The others were smaller but I was expecting more of the same.

The cigar started off well, with a strong chocolate flavour, a bit like hot chocolate.  This stayed for the first quarter and then things got a bit plain after that.  Not bad but nothing special.  The last third became very harsh and basically unsmokable, so I had to let this one go early.

The RAG was great.  These are priced at €14 in Luxembourg and don't seem to be available  in the UK.  It's a fine cigar and went well with two bottles of St. Peters Best Bitter.

After much contemplation, I forgave the car thief his crimes, on the condition he doesn't move on to Grand Theft Cigars. 

I don't know where he gets it from, but I blame his mother.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Ireland - Part 3

Did I mention this was a trilogy?

Well, it is, but with no theme or connecting storyline.  Apart from Ireland that is, and cigars obviously.

While we were in Galway, the weather was dictating play, so we couldn't do much outdoorsy stuff and had to settle for indoorsy stuff instead.

The inside jobs we went for were a trip to the Pictures, as we used to call it, and a visit to the aquarium. Atlantaquaria in fact, as seen in the recent block buster movie "The Guard", starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle.

I'll start of with the movie.  It's good.  It's not brilliant but I spoke to a guy in work, who happens to be English and he said it was brilliant, so what do I know.

Galway is on display throughout the movie, with Salthill, Spiddal and Barna (got married there) getting some great exposure.

The aquarium gets a good showing too and that's where we chose to bring the boy to see the fishes.

Atlantaquaria is situated in Salthill and is certainly one of the best I've been to.  Not the biggest by far but you can actually touch the fish here, yes, you can touch, if you like, the rays as they swim past.  There's very little stopping you from grabbing one and frying it up for lunch, but I'd imagine they might frown upon that sort of thing.  It certainly didn't cross my mind at the time for a good 10 minutes.

They've also claim to have "the only White Skate on public display in the world".  In case you were wondering, the skates name is Valentine

Now back to the cigars. 

I'm showing what's left of the Dublin haul and the lovely Ramon Allones box presented to me by John.  The haul included 2 big Partagas smokables, a gorgeous looking Macanudo Maduro, the Mexicans (1 pictured), a specially made un-banded beauty that might not last past next weekend, and a couple of other tasty looking things.  The box speaks for itself.

We won't be back in Ireland until Christmas but for the 1st time in 10 years, we'll be in Ireland for New years, so that deserves a very special cigar in itself.  I already know what its going to be.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Ireland - Part 2

I normally only have good things to say about Ireland, and as I was born there, I reckon I'm allowed to say what I like, even if I haven't lived there in 10 years.

I'm not about to say anything nasty about the place.  That wouldn't do anybody any good.  Ireland needs it's tourism, so I wouldn't want to inflict more damage on the Irish economy by scaring people away.

I won't mention anything that has already been covered by the worldwide media.  I won't mention the rip off prices (20% higher than the European average).  The politician, priests, banks or builders.  None of these will get a word.

No, what got me going over the last two weeks, were the complete and utter lunatics speeding around the place trying to kill each other.  Visitors be warned, driving on Irish roads is not for the faint hearted.

Now, I've been to China, where the driving was terrifying at best, so I know bad driving.

Ireland may not be as bad as that, but for a country that has driving standards and tests enforced by a mysterious body called the "Road Safety Authority" and supposedly complies with what's known as the "EU Directive on Driving Licences", the frequency of dumbassery I witnessed on the roads was just as scary as a seat belt-less taxi ride in The Peoples Republic.

Don't let that put you of visiting China either.  I loved it there and would recommend it to everybody.

Anyway, to combat the anger I was feeling towards these people (the Irish, not the Chinese), I've smoked a few cigars in order to cool my jets a little.

I've enjoyed three of the aged Sancho Panza', which were all excellent. The first one was a bit tight but still a great smoke and the second was perfect.   The last one was had the wrapper damaged as I removed the "1998" band, but other than holding it in place so it wouldn't unravel, the cigar was lovely.

I nearly always smoke a cigar with the bands on and removed them when I get close, so as not to damage them but I forgot this time and paid the price.  Oh well, lesson learned.

I got through a couple of Serie D No. 4's and also a cigar I picked up in Dublin, which was Honduran made. This one was alright but I got a few complaints about the smell so I'll put that down as a fail.

Another new cigar I tried was the Macanudo 1968 Titan which is a short stubby cigar, 4" x 50 but a powerful little smoke despite its size. It looks great and lasted longer than I thought it would, so this one gets the thumbs up.

I also smoked one of the Ramon Allones Gigantes that John brought over from Luxembourg.  This is now one of my favourite cigars. It's a long slow burner, with a perfect draw and burn.  No complaints and thanks again to John for bringing them all the way from Luxembourg and not charging commission.  These 10 cigars arrived in the original box, which was an added bonus.  Nice one John.

Two weeks in Ireland is never enough but we did manage to pick up a few things along the way.  I bagged myself some excellent cigars and I finished 1st place in my Dad's golf society's Presidents day competition.  Oh, did I not mention that...?

The baby bagged himself around 50 new toy cars, some of which were stolen from his cousins, so not a bad weeks haul for him either.

RA Gigantes in the car
Sancho P in the pub
RA Gigantes in the Brothers

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Ireland - Part 1

We're back in Emerald Isle a week now, having left Dublin for the grey, wet and windy wilds of Galway.

Galway is a beautiful spot but bleak in bad weather, and the forecast is not good, with ex-hurricane Katia (not hurricane Irene btw) hitting our shores over the next few days.  So we're basically stuck indoors for the duration.

No golf.

I can't complain though as we've had a great week so far.  Apart from family, we met up for a few pints with Sarah from work, who was in Dublin last weekend with her lovely wife Sam.  We also met up with Rolo and Kaz (twice) and the Doyle's flew over especially from Luxembourg to be with us last night.  They mentioned something about a wedding but that was just an excuse.

We also went to a wedding, which was one of the best weddings ever, set in a beautiful castle in County Laois. 

The wedding of James Murphy and Natalie Boyall was held at Castle Durrow.  The cigar I chose to celebrate the day was one of the aged Sancho Panzas that I picked up recently.  A perfect cigar enjoyed after dinner with a cold pint of Guinness, or four.

This was honestly one of the best weddings we've ever been to, and I'm not just saying that because James said he was "loving the Cigar Stories".  Everything about the day was excellent, even the weather!  The priest was on fire.  The food fantastic.  The bride beautiful.  The location was perfect with everybody in great form and the groom didn't stop crying.  So best of luck to Natalie and James and thanks for a great day out.

A few days before the wedding, we dropped into The Decent Cigar Emporium on Dublin's Grafton Street, where I picked up a few new cigars.  This is a great little shop at the top end of Grafton street and worth a visit.

The staff in the shop are always pleasant and friendly, and look after you as soon as you walk through the door.  A Cuban coffee was offered and gratefully accepted.
Good things aside, they had a box of Partagas Culebras and I nearly choked on my coffee when the guy said the price was €60.  He reacted to my jaw hitting the floor by saying he'd double check the price, coming back with a revised offer of €45. 

That's €45 for something we picked up in Luxembourg for just €16. 

Anyway, it's a great shop with some great cigars and enthusiastic staff.

I managed to accumulate more cigars when Doyle arrived over with 10 Ramon Allones Gigantes and then my Brother in law, Colm, dropped over 3 Mexican cigars, which look decent enough, so after a few months rest in the humidor, I'll give one of those a go.   Many thanks.

Next up is Presidents day with my Dad's golf society.  I'm driving down from Galway to Royal Tara with the Father in law for 18 holes followed by a slap up meal.  I'm hoping to get a cigar in after the meal but secretly hoping to take away the visitors prize.  Fingers crossed for both.

The Castle

The Collection

Cigar Store Native American