Tag Archive for cigar

Smoke Blog: Man O’ War Toro

It’s been a long, odd Summer already.

Not so much bad, but full of ups and downs and several distractions keeping me from the main goals.

It’s a balmy night, and though rednecks are already blowing things up around town, my block is quiet. The Rugrats are in bed and won’t be able to break anything or each other for a while. I’m sipping on my second glass of whiskey and enjoying a Man O’ War Toro. I intended to spend this smoke writing, but instead find myself finding my chill and problem-solving. Maybe this post will help me transition to a little positive creativity.

I’ve enjoyed every Man O’ War I’ve tried, and this eponymous Toro is no exception. It’s a dark and oily beast, but not as bold as a Maduro or Ligero. It boasts a Habano wrapper around Nicaraguan guts, and delivers rich, woody flavors which linger on the palate without turning sour. Tonight’s whiskey is Japan’s The Hakushu and club soda, and it complements the cigar nicely.

This Man O’ War smokes easy and burns smooth, but it’s a needy thing that wants to be held. Ignore it for just a few moments and it goes out quick. Be careful on the relight with this one: a little flame goes a long way. Too much and it will bite back before mellowing out again. The ash doesn’t burn much longer than an inch or so, but it clings well enough that it’s not making a mess of the table or my laptop.

This may be the last of them from my last order, and I think I’ll miss them. They’re in the knuckler category, where they’re a good smoke right down to the last half inch threatening to burn my fingers. I prefer to buy milder cigars in larger quantities for casual smoking and for sharing, but I won’t hesitate to pull the trigger next time I see Man O’ War in a bundle or in special packages.

All told it’s a good, solid smoke for dedicated quiet time.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Smoke Blog: Drew Estate Copper Label

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a cigar review. It’s not because I haven’t been enjoying them, just that I’ve been too distracted to sit down and write about them. A local bar has an enclosed porch with a heaters and a nice fire pit, so it’s a great spot to relax and hang out with a cigar and a drink.

It's time. #bourbon #cigar #knobcreek

Of course, rumor has it the laws are changing and anything with a floor and a roof will be considered “indoors” and thus a non-smoking area. I haven’t seen it in the various lists of new Illinois laws coming January 1st, and the wait staff at the bar hadn’t heard anything about it yet, so with luck it’s a ways off for the existing bars—some of whom built enclosed patios to accommodate smokers—or they will be grandfathered in and not subject to the expanded smoking ban.

If the law does change, though, it’ll make for some long Winters with cigars few and far between. Ack. It’s hard to beat noodling on a plot point or a bit of dialog over a cigar.

I’ve certainly survived worse, though. And I’ve certainly had worse cigars than CI’s Drew Estate Copper Label.

CI offered up several Black Friday deals, and the Copper Label looked like a great deal. I got started with their ACID line way back when, and I’ve enjoyed their Natural, Sauza Tequila, and other labels. I felt having something on the mild end of the flavor spectrum would round out my humidor, too, and give me a few sticks to hand to friends who don’t always like darker cigars.

CI describes the Copper Label as a blend of Drew Estate’s Natural and ACID brands, and I’d say that’s exactly right. They smelled both sweet and savory right out of the cellophane, and before I lit up I could taste creamy vanilla similar to the ACID Blondie.

The cream turned bitter on light, but it quickly mellowed again. The strong vanilla quit and gave way to a subtler, creamy flavor that accented the earthy smoke rather than overpowering it. The smoke itself was not unpleasant, and the construction held up well. I think my only concern is going to be burning through them fast enough so the vanilla doesn’t linger in my humidor.

I see now that CI is selling five sticks for $35, so I got them for a little under half price on Black Friday. A steal for a good smoke like this, assuming you’re okay with the sweetness. The Copper Label is not something I’d normally fill my humidor with, but it offers a nice break from the stronger cigars I’ve been favoring lately.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Another Year Done

School year, that is.

The students at the day gig finished yesterday, and the teachers will wrap up tomorrow. I work all summer, but I’m looking for this year to be much quieter and more productive than last year.

One teacher has been very helpful in helping me push technology into our district, but he’s retired as of tomorrow. As a parting gift, he handed me a bottle of Four Roses Single Barrel.

Now THIS is a gift!

Score. Thanks again, Steve! I owe you a good lunch this Summer, both for this and for all the assists.

Now I’m kicking back on a Whiskey Wednesday with a bourbon and a smoke, reflecting on good times, and getting ready to pound on a short crime piece.

Gotta kick Summer off right.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Smoke Blog: Foundry Uranium

It’s been a while since a cigar kicked my ass, and the Uranium from Foundry’s Compounds, Elements, & Musings line came pretty close.

The CE&M line is Foundry’s small batch, a mix of blends that will even vary within the same box. My guess is the names are all about the size and shape of the cigars first, and then the design of their boxes and bands. There were a few different Foundry options in the humidor I shopped, and I opted for the Uranium mostly because it was a large cigar (7×70) at a very reasonable price ($7 and change).

Uranium on a keyboard

The Uranium is a big one

Because the blend changes, I can’t be sure what I had in my hand. Near as I can tell from a Google search, it was probably some mix of Honduran, Nicaraguan, or Costa Rican tobaccos. It lit up easy and had a very smooth draw given the size. Whatever the mix, I enjoyed it.

Two-and-a-half hours later, the cigar was still going strong. I finished up my work on the laptop (wrapping the second short story in the The Pack series started with “Bravo Four”), got up, and walked around for a moment. The buzz hit me pretty good, then, and I realized I was flushed and sweating despite a cool breeze outside.

Well done, Foundry. Next time I’ll know to save this one for after a meal. At seven bucks, I’d say this cigar is a steal. I’ve also tried a cigar from their main line, the one that comes with a metal cog around the band, and I thought it was pretty great, too.

Foundry is going to be a line I need to explore in a little more depth before the Compounds, Elements & Musings line disappears. I can’t recommend the Uranium to a rookie, but for experienced smokers looking for some variety, give it a shot.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Smoke Blog: Montecristo Chicago

Remember that thing I said about Friar Tuck dudes not knowing anything about their cigars? Friday night, I may have run into the guy who at least pays attention. I was debating between two smokes, and the Montecristo Chicago’s price tag ($13+) pushed me the other direction. However, the guy told me, “You won’t be able to get that one for long.”

The Chicago is part of Montecristo’s Connoisseur Edition series, and they’re making unique blends for big cities like New York, Chicago, Vegas, and Philly. And they’re only available in their named markets for a limited time.

Fair enough, then. Sold.

Tonight's cigar: the Montecristo Chicago

I kind of dig the wrapper and logo, too.

Now, I love Chicago. I’m not exactly a world traveler, but having visited LA, San Francisco, St Louis, Seattle, and Denver, and despite falling more and more in love with Peoria, I still put Chicago on top of the list. If someone’s going to call their product or business Chicago anything, they’ve set the bar pretty high for themselves.

Fortunately, Montecristo delivers.

The Chicago is a 6×50 Toro made with an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder, and Dominican filler. It’s luscious. Medium body, plenty of flavor but very mellow from puff to finish. No spice or tang, nor any other overpowering, obvious note. It tastes . . . well, it tastes like a cigar, damn it! It’s got a gentle buzz and lots of smoke, draws easy, and holds together well. I enjoyed it so much I had to force myself to slow down, and I smoked it right down to my knuckles.

Friar Tuck only had a box of 10, so I will have to get back there and get another before they’re gone. If your city has its own blend, get thee to a cigar store.

On a separate, cigar-related note, I want to thank XIKAR for their awesome warranty and service. I bought a fairly basic XIKAR butane lighter a few years ago, and I’ve been having some trouble with it. It’s just a $30ish lighter, but rather than toss it I decided to send it in.

A week later, a brand new lighter arrived.

My replacement lighter arrived!

Pretty little thing, ain’t it?

Functionally, it’s a night-and-day difference. The jet works so much better, and I don’t have to crank it up to full blast to get it to work. It stays lit, and it lights my cigar a lot faster. When I’m ready to invest in a new one with a punch, it will definitely be a XIKAR. Their humidor supplies work well for me, too.

In contrast, I used to have a hand-me-down of another popular brand. They charged me $30 to repair it, and even then I had the exact same problem after one refill. Never again.

Thanks, XIKAR. You guys rock.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: Breathing Life Into the Work

I almost skipped this week as I’ve got a lot of work to do. Progress has been good this year, though, and I don’t want to derail it, so I shot the photo while getting other work done.

Breathing Life Into the Work

This is how the magic happens

The next challenge to tackle: getting the focus just right when using a tripod and a remote without and a low aperture due to the darkness.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: Smoke Up!

I needed a photo for an author bio in an upcoming publication, so I went outside and came up with this.

Smoke Up

Smoke up!

Lesson learned that evening? Cigar smoking is like making good BBQ: it has to be done low and slow. I puffed away at that stick for a good forty minutes, trying different poses and working up some smoke to get the shot just right. The cigar got hot and harsh quick. This is why I will never understand how some people power a cigar down like cigarettes. It just can’t be done and still be enjoyable.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Smoke Blog: Perdomo Gran Cru

Nothing cures a crap day like a good cigar.

Perdomo: cure for a crap day.

So I used a photo filter. The lighting sucked.

The Perdomo Grand Cru is a Cuban seed blend, and judging by the size and color of this bad boy it was a Grand Epicure (vs Churchill, etc.) with a natural wrapper. The moment I went to light it I tasted hints of cocoa, and it burned clean and even with plenty of smoke and a mild flavor.

It had a strange, thorny lump under the cap, probably a twist in a leaf or a stem, which felt uncomfortable on occasion but didn’t ruin the experience by a long shot. I spent about an hour and a half with it, until it went out on its own in the last two inches. While it did not turn harsh, I could see it had tunneled some and was probably done, so I tossed it.

But honestly, a lot of that didn’t matter today. I just needed to sit and relax.

The day job has been kicking my ass since early last week, including over the weekend, making it tough to get anything else done. I could easily have spent a big portion of Saturday there if I hadn’t already had plans for the annual Peoria Jaycees Beer Fest. It was a good chance to go out on the porch, kick back, and flip through a Harley-Davidson catalog I had picked up at the International Motorcycle Show in February.

Edits are back in my hands for Lie with the Dead, the cover for an upcoming anthology showed up in my inbox this afternoon, and I’ve got a screenplay to finish, as well as a handful of other projects waiting in the wings. Just a few more days of this testing nonsense at the day gig and I’ll be able to get back on track and re-examine the exit strategy.

I can almost taste the freedom.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: Smoke

So far behind on everything.

I’ve got a few weeks’ worth of photos, some for Photo Friday, some family stuff, and a few more that I can’t even get off the camera yet because it’s out of juice and my charger has disappeared.

The following is a portrait of my cousin:

Smoke

Ahh, smoke.

He’s a distant cousin by marriage, actually, and he found me online thanks to my Smoke Blog posts. We’ve talked a lot since, but this is the first time we were able to meet face to face. We had steaks & beers at a local microbrew, then relaxed and chatted with a couple of cigars. It was right after things started ramping up at work, what with the start of the school year, so couldn’t have come at a better time.

I’m happy with how the camera handled this. We were sitting in near-total darkness, but the camera and my Canon 430EX SpeedLite metered it out just fine. I bounced the flash off the white roof of the porch to smooth out the light, and I just dig the result.

And he did, of course, give me a hard time for not finishing Lie with the Dead yet. It’s good that even family is keeping me honest on that one. Lately it’s been more a matter of time than of desire or other issues, but the school year has settled in and things are moving into a rhythm. I’ll get there.

I’ve apparently been too quiet on Twitter, too, as one person asked if I was dead. All symptoms of the same thing: overloaded with work and commitments. This month needs to be a big one for me, though, as once LwtD is done I have a short story that needs revising and a new one due in November. Busy busy busy.

Here’s hoping Autumn is as quiet as I’ve been anticipating.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Smoke Blog: Rocky Patel 15th Anniversary (with Accidental Tequila)

A friend picked up a handful of cigars for his birthday the other day, and I was happy to help him smoke them. He handed me a Rocky Patel Fifteenth Anniversary, a handsome, box-pressed cigar with a dark wrapper and a pleasant scent. A quick prayer to Google told me it had an Ecuadorian wrapper grown from Habano seed.

It had a bold, peppery taste on first light, but it settled back to a full-bodied texture with a leathery finish that settled in easily. The easy draw produced plenty of smoke, and it held together well, even after I dropped it in tequila.

Yes, tequila. Another friend bought a round of Patrón shots, served up in a wider glass to accommodate lime slices. I needed both hands for a moment and the ashtray didn’t have a proper lip, so I rested the cigar across the mouth of the glass. Unfortunately these big paws I have for hands bumped it and the cigar went ash-first into the tequila.

I’m not one to let a cigar go to waste. I pulled it out of the drink and used my knife to cut off about a half inch of the cigar. It crushed a little, but I got it lit again with little trouble. Surprisingly, this didn’t kill the draw or the taste, and after a minute it was like it never happened. Now that’s construction!

And yes, I still did the shot with a little ash in it. I don’t waste good liquor, either.

All in all a fine smoke. It’s a little heavy and leathery to be among my favorites, but I certainly wouldn’t turn another down in the future. If you’re a Rocky Patel fan, I’m sure you’ll find it a worthy entry to the line.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.