Ever wonder if a Cohiba tastes better in Cuba??? Would the moist tropical air affect the taste and give you more than if you were smoking the same cigar, let’s say, in Montana?? Probably !!! But if thats the case then it would probably taste the same in Miami since its only a handful of miles away.  I love Miami with it’s beaches, sun and stone crab.. I could go on for a while about stone crab but this is a cigar blog!

While smoking cigars with a few buddies a few days back, the topic of how cigars taste in Cuba came up and all who had been there seem to agree that cigars have an incredible taste in the country of their origin.  I guess to some degree I have to go along with that because I remember smoking cigars from the Siglo series, the Maduro series and Non-Cohiba Cuban cigars.  To be honest, they were all great but I was drinking a lot of rum from breakfast onward so everything was great.

I DO remember that cigars tended to burn a bit slower in Cuba, not much, but definitely noticeable.  The air is heavy and moist, warm and to die for.  Holidays tend to do that to you, your senses are heightened and everything is beautiful.  Maybe not having a care in the world and no cel phone has a lot to do with it! My cel stayed in the hotel room safe and got turned back on when we landed in Canada.

Lately I’ve been hearing a bit about Monsdales… Can anyone shed a bit of light on those cigars??

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One person’s toasted coconut is another person’s vanilla.

One person’s cedar is another person’s burned oak.

One person’s leather is another person’s musky earth.

One person’s bitter chocolate is another person’s strong espresso.

It may or may not be all that far fetched but, from time to time, I have a bit of difficulty understanding how some of these cigar reviewers palates can be so developed and advanced that they can identify subtle walnuts amidst clouds of cigar smoke.  I guess its possible and far be it from me to disagree with what someone is tasting but the game we play of identifying flavors is very subjective.

I was spending some time with a few buddies last night, telling lies about the fish we caught and different accomplishments we were able to pull off in our youth and the topic of picking subtle flavors in cigars came up.  One of the quiet old guys in the corner piped up and asked if any of us could tell us what a banana tasted like… Kind of stopped us in our tracks when we thought about it, the room went silent.

Exactly HOW could you ever describe that kind of flavor in words?? Where would you start?? Are there any phrases you could utter that would accurately flip a switch in our olfactory nerves that would send that kind of message to our brains so we would get it??

Anyone who smokes quality Cuban cigars and has a hot blooded passion for the pastime would probably love to be sitting in a room somewhere in a cigar factory in Cuba and be a cigar taster.  You’d get handed robustos, double coronas, marevas and get paid to smoke them!! Now we’re talking.  It makes me drool just to think about the situation, but I’m sure those people probably get tired of it like anything else in life you’re supposed to do day after day…….

How do you get that job?  Is a sensitive nose something that develops over time or are you simply blessed with it from day one?  When is this gift discovered, in your youth?

Just a few questions that have been on my mind lately……………

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I’ve smoked a lot of Siglo I’s, IV’s and a handful of the Siglo VI’s but for some reason, through the years’ the Siglo V is a cigar that I’ve spent only a little time with.  Don’t ask me why, its just worked out that way.  A shame, if you ask me, it may be one of the best in the Siglo line, very grassy, herbal and of extreme quality.

At least thats what hit me last night as I smoked one on the deck after dinner.  Last night was a bit of a cool night in Vancouver, so the gas heater had to be lit and all improved, as far as comfort goes.. Cooler nights are on their way and I was trying to get a bit more acclimatized to what is in our future, for the next few months.  We don’t have extreme winters so we are a lot better off than the rest of Canada.  Friends of mine occasionally visit throughout the winter, we golf, we try to catch a steelhead, but most of all we enjoy great cigars under the warm natural gas glow of the deck heater.

Getting back to the Siglo V, I found that last night’s cigar had everything I want in a cigar.  This being 2011 meant that the ’09 Cohiba had 2 years of age and the draw, the even burn and the flavors were absolutely perfect.  I paired this beauty with my favorite beverage, Oban, a fine fine single malt.  I get a kick out of the burst of caramel that happens on your taste buds after a sip of this Scotch and enjoyed 3 of them with the hour and a half that the cigar burned.

I’m one of these guys that loves to go to my humidor and check on my cigars after an experience like this, I make sure that the humidity is right, make sure that all cigars are lined up with the bands facing up and making sure that there are no non-cubans right next to Cubans.. Things get a bit obsessive after a Scotch or two and seeing that I only have a few Siglo V’s left made me wonder why I don’t own more…. First thing on tomorrow’s to do list will be a bit of a cigar shopping trip.

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I know nothing about motorcycles except that whenever I’ve ever sat behind the handlebars, I’ve always tried to drive the thing as fast as physics would allow.  This fact is why my parents never allowed me to own a bike and now that I’m old, I can see their point.  I would never have made it this far, thats for sure.

I have a friend, Bobby, who is a motorcycle enthusiast, who has taken his bike all over North America in his quest to photograph scenes from Florida to Alaska.  I think that he has some fine shots of Mount Rushmore, Banff, golf courses in San Diego to military ships in Halifax.  Bobby is a gentle giant who’d never hurt a soul but as kids, we used to get mouthy around local hoodlums and Bobby would always come to our rescue.. But he was never happy with us and would show his displeasure after we would escape these situations.

I’ve stayed in touch with him all my life and decided to drop into the small garage behind his house yesterday.. He did a bit of a motorcycle tune-up while I sat and smoked a Cohiba Genios in the corner of his shop.  The weather was gray and not extremely warm so the shelter and good conversation was what I needed.  It had been a while since I lit a Genios and as usual, I was sad that I had abandoned this beautiful cigar for as long as I had.  This happens to me from time to time, and I always make the promise that I’ll pay more attention to the maduro line from Cohiba.

The 5 1/2 inch long, 52 ring gauge cigar is packed full of dark chocolate and strong coffee which is perfect for a cool day in a garage.  There’s something comforting about a good friend telling stories about his travels while smoking a cigar of that stature.  I feel that I can be myself and pick up where I left off whenever I run into my old high school buddy.. I mean, I could try to big time him with exploits of supposed greatness but he’d quickly put me in my place so, what’s the point!

The cigar lasted about 1 1/2 hours until I finally had to set it down and when I did, I noticed that we had covered all that we needed to talk about so I hit the road.. I think I’ll go see him more often and smoke more cigars with the Cohiba Maduro wrapper.

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A few post ago I revealed that I had a neighbor who had lost her husband and was getting rid of his cigar collection.  I did very well and obtained, not only some beautiful aged cigars, but a quality humidor as part of the package.  She revealed that she had more cigars so I thought I’d pay her a visit this morning and see if she needed any yard work done.  Thats an understatement since her lawn is quite overgrown and full of weeds.  We are approaching the winter season in Vancouver so the grass will slow down, as far as it’s growth is concerned, so I’m feeling that a single cut will be all that will be needed.

After finishing my own lawn this morning after a slight drizzle, I pushed my lawn mower over a few doors down and started in on her front lawn.  She waved to me from her living room window and all I needed was about 20 minutes to blast away at her grass and weeds.  After a small amount of raking and adding a few leaves to her compost bin, I knocked on her door to say a quick hello.  Although I’m getting on in years, she is considerably older than I am and was glad to have some company as I sat down in front of a steaming cup of coffee.  I remembered her saying that she loved the smell of cigar smoke so I felt comfortable in pulling out a Romeo y Julieta No 3 I had in my shirt pocket.  Before I had the chance to light the little coronitas she asked if I would like to smoke one of her late husband’s cigars instead…. Was I about to be rude and refuse her offer??

After disappearing into another room, she returned with a dark and rich Piramides with, once again, that oh so recognizable gold and yellow band.. My God, this was the Cohiba Piramides from 2001.. I have some of the 2006 releases but have only smoked one or two of the first edition from ’01.. What I remember about the experience was that it was a cigar that was nicely balanced and brimming with rich flavors but for some reason I never smoked that many.

Now this is a 10 year old cigar that I’m having with a coffee after a bit of yard work.. Seems a bit over the top for such a casual moment, this is more of a grand occasion cigar, so I pulled out my torch and lit the foot.  There are times when it is easy to describe flavors that a cigar will give you but this torpedo left me speechless.  I told her that I felt that she grossly overpaid me for something that a friendly neighbor would gladly do free of charge, and with that she disappeared again and came back with 4 more from the same amazing vintage……….

She told me that she was planning on having a yard sale the next sunny day and needed some help cleaning out a shed that is full of tools…. I think I’ll offer my services……

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Taking the fly rod, food for the day, warm clothing and your best Cohiba, whether it be a Robusto, Esplendidos or one from the Cohiba Maduro series, down to the river may or may not be the best idea.. OK, not like its a bad idea to have a beautiful cigar when fishing, but there are conditions that are better suited for smoking one of Cuba’s finest creations..  My feelings are that the ride in the car on the way to the river would be better for having the ability to taste every nuance that the cigar’s profile has to offer.

Wind, rain, sleet and hail are just a few of the conditions I’ve run into when fishing in British Columbia on any given day and I think that cigarettes would probably be the lesser waste of money during that kind of day.  I’ve had the good fortune to smoke a few Cohiba Behikes these last few months and, believe me, they ARE as good as people have been saying in their reviews and blogs.  Any cigar that starts out with a 52 ring gauge and has brothers that are 54 and 56 will only let you know that there is a lot of tobacco blended in this size of cigar, so why would you fight to keep a cigar dry in a torrential downpour when fighting a 16 pound salmon on a fly rod?  Save it for a quiet moment by the fire at the end of the day.

A round of golf with a cigar in the cart is probably the most popular place to enjoy a stogie these days but there ARE some courses that do NOT allow smoking…. Just avoid these courses !  Golf elsewhere and enjoy the freedom that you have …. For now……

A garage, den, rumpus room or a computer room can be a place where you have the freedom to do what you want, as long as you aren’t endangering the health of anyone else.. Scared of smelling up one of the rooms in your house??  Know what a paintbrush is?  Real men know how to paint and clean up any kind of issue a cigar has caused before you sell the house !

I simply believe that a controlled environment free of wind and cold should be your main quest before applying a flame to the head of some of the finest cigars in the world,

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Hamilton Ontario, last week-end, was the Canadian host city for our annual country music award show and it was a success in that all who attended were able to meet with others in the industry that were either their peers or were someone that they had to hand their product to and get some future support in the country scene.  I didn’t smoke as many cigars as I took because of the winds that were blowing.  I don’t like smoking in a windy environment and believe that wind is one of cigars greatest enemies, let alone a great Cuban cigar that you’ve been saving for a special occasion.

I had some great conversations about cigars with a canadian singer who’s doing very well, George Canyon.  From time to time George will enjoy a cigar when time permits and he gets great joy from it.  Casey Clark, who is a Canadian Celebrity, is a guy who loves Cohiba Esplendidos and smokes many annually. Both great guys and great talents.

Anyone spending time in Ontario should play at a few golf courses close to Toronto.  The first I got to see was Angus Glen in Markham, which has hosted the Canadian Open and deservedly so with spectacular holes designed  to challenge your skills at the game.  Although there was wind on the course that day, we decided to smoke a few of the cigars that I brought along which were a 3 year old Romeo and a 4 year old Cuaba.  The cigars took a terrible beating in the gusting winds but our moods were elevated with the aroma in the air.

The day after we ended up at “The Summit” in Richmond Hill, which is a suburb of Toronto.  This 100 year old course yielded one amazing scene after the next because of the age of the course and because the course was designed by Stanley Thompson, who also designed the Banff Springs course and the great track at the Jasper Park Lodge.  We decided to smoke slightly longer cigars in such an elegant environment and lit up a Ramon Allones Gigantes and a Partagas Lusitanias..

Coming home was difficult and I certainly felt total golf withdrawals on my first day back, so I simply went to the humidor, picked out a Cohiba Robusto and sat out back…..

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Its that time again in Canada when the Canadian Country Music Association or CCMA has it’s annual Awards weekend where it showcases country music and it’s performers with a series of musical workshops, a gala dinner where awards are given out to industry people and a televised awards show the following evening which spotlights the winners in various categories.  This is one of the most exciting weekends for country fans and industry alike because of the many late night jams played by the best pickers in Canada and of late, bands like “Jetty Road” from Australia, who’ve been performing and lighting up Canadian stages in the last few years.

These evenings are, most often, in local bars and rooms which are focused on live music with stages, lights and great sound in place and ready for an onslaught of maniacal country music folks hellbent on having the most fun they’ve had all year.  This year will be again a meeting of musicians, TV personalities  and producers now realizing that cigars are yet another thing that they have in common, will take place for 4 days in Hamilton Ontario.  This event moves from host cities in the west to the maritimes and this year’s event will will be very close to it’s association’s home town of Toronto.

Many great cigars will be passed back and forth and a whole bunch of drinking will take place.  One can only imagine the stories that will be told over breakfast tables this year.  I know that I’ll be seeing friends who play music and friends that are more involved in the technical end of things as well as producers that I sometimes only run into once a year.

As well as sharing Cuban cigars with old smoking buddies I always try to convert new smokers over to the cigar way of thinking… Yeeeeehaaaaaw!

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I’m a guy that will always be on the hunt for a good cigar at a great price and quite often I check on Craigslist, here in Vancouver, to see if anyone is selling off any of theirs at a good price.  Now and then I find some real hidden treasure but I don’t believe I thought I’d find aged cigars so close to home like I did yesterday.

I woke up and was very excited that Kim Mitchell was playing at the PNE… I wrote an entry about that yesterday morning on this blog and after I hit the publish button I went to Craigslist to see if anyone had cigars to sell.. Bingo!!!! A very short ad describing cigars for sale came up and I emailed the address given, I got an answer right away only to find out that a few doors down from where I live, an older woman was getting rid of about 30 cigars for $100…. What????

After getting her phone number, I gave her a call and we were both quite pleased and surprised to find out that we were neighbors.. I walked over… In a city of this size you have no idea who some of your neighbors are and quite often we just don’t make the effort to get to know those who live close to us.  Life is changing, things get more complicated and I believe that we humans tend to cocoon more and more so maybe we live more guarded lives.. I guess I do that as well now…..As I walked into the entry of her home I was met with the smell that reminded me of Havana, you know the one, it is the aroma of a home that has seen many a burning cigar.. I was becoming very excited, I had no idea there was a cigar smoker who lived so close to me.. How could I have missed this?

This very pleasant woman, who could have been in her 80′s, explained that her husband, who smoked cigars all his life, had died and she was getting rid of his possessions before putting up their house for sale.  Her realtor told her that she would have to do a big house cleaning and paint the interior of the home before the sign would be stuck into the front lawn.  She also explained that the “wooden box” where he kept his cigars would be also thrown in as part of the deal… blink…… Ummmm, Ok…. Now my heart rate starts to go up 20 beats or so as she tells me to have a seat and drink some tea as she shuffles into another room to retrieve the “wooden box”..

I wasn’t sure what to expect but was very excited to see her return with a beautiful humidor that had the capacity to hold, I guessed, about 75 cigars.. This “wooden box” had the most beautiful barnyard smell come out of it after I opened the lid and inside were an impressive collection of cigars covered in plume… Good Lord.. What laid in front of me were Montecristo No 2′s, Partagas Lusitanias,  2 Cuaba Salomons, 4 H. Upmann Magnum 50′s, 3 Montecristo A’s, a few Romeo Churchills and the rest of the nicely aged cigars had that familiar black, white and gold band that we all love so much… I had to sit down and try to contain myself. I didn’t say anything for a while as she went to the kitchen to get more tea.

You know that dizzy feeling you get when you realize something has just happened but you’re not sure that it just happened and that maybe you shouldn’t have had those mushrooms sprinkled on top of that salad that those hippies just made for you….. Yeah, yeah, thats the feeling…

When she returned, I asked her if the smell of cigars bothered her and she told me that she loved the aroma so I reached into my pocket for my clipper and lit a Robusto adorned with that lovely yellow band.. The clouds parted, I was bathed in a warm comfortable glow as the first puff hit my olfactory nerves which told me that I now knew how the first guy felt as he picked up that rock which told him that the California gold rush was about to begin.  Just a few doors down???? I have a nose like a Steelhead when it comes to cigar smoke.. Why didn’t I ever smell cigar smoke so close to my home before???

I didn’t say much as I listened to this woman talk to her cat but decided that I would be a good neighbor and offer to cut her lawn as she was selling her house and moving out of our part of town.. This made her very happy and as I paid her the five 20 dollar bills she told me that the next time I came over, she’d let me pick a few cigars out of another “wooden box” that she was planning on giving to her brother…….. Heart rate goes up again……

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Tonight is the night to go see Kim Mitchell at the PNE in Vancouver, a great stage, wonderful outdoor sound and they say we’ll be seeing 27 degrees this afternoon… Take your rock and roll t-shirts and shorts because you won’t need a lot of clothes today… We’ve had a great stretch of weather in Vancouver in the last 3 weeks and with all of the complaining about the Pacific North West’s summer this year, I’ve seen nothing but hot days, sunshine and warm nights… A perfect setting for a Rock and Roll concert..

Trouble is, the Pacific National Exhibition is in a Vancouver park, or at least classified as a park, so there is NO smoking on the grounds whatsoever… That’s right folks, non smoking hysteria is in full swing here in Lotus Town and any mention of a cigar in this post would be futile.. No matter, I want to hear, ” I am A Wild Party” and see my friend “Suds” on drums, as he drives the band in a steady and solid direction.. Chris is a Winnipeg drummer that has recently moved to Toronto and will storm the town, hopefully cleaning up with sessions and live work.

This has been a great week of getting new cigars, loading up the humidors and I’ll have more to report in that department in the next few posts.. Holy, Behike Batman!!!!

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