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What is vintage?

Written by feltedhat on . Posted in Cuban Cigars Post

When can a cigar be considered as a vintage cigar? Difficult question, isn’t it? Is it after 5 or 10 years? Or is it even more. Or is a cigar vintage once the year has passed, when the cigars were boxed? I guess there are various sources for the definition of what vintage is. And getting the following out of the way straight away, there is no clear definition. For instance I’m sometimes really surprised when I look at list that vendor put up or mail around. Cigars with less than three years of age are declared as vintage. A cigar that has less than three years of age still shows signs of its youth. Be it by having an unstable/uneven burn or it being harsh.

Googling and reading wikipedia, vintage means old-fashioned, old or classic. It could be used to say something about a genre, a style or movement. The Cambridge dictionary actually goes even further and says it is a sign of high quality, long lasting value and that it has typical aspects that are represented in the object with the title vintage (no direct quotation). While this is all good and I can especially relate to the “representing” part, this still does not say what age a cigar does have to have to be vintage.

The cigar bible from Min Ron Nee often speaks of “chunks” of five years, e.g. “let rest for at least five years”, “better after 10 years”. I like the increment of five years as I feel below or in between nothing much spectacular happens to a cigar. Actually I still make a point, if possible, to not smoke a cigar that is younger than five years. But I still don’t think that a cigar deserves the title vintage after only five years.

From the wine makers and the wine universe vintage not only declares that the wine is old if not it is used for particular good years when everything fit up perfectly and the product was of very high quality. I like that way of looking at it too. But vintage cigars from a particular good year are not so realistic right? Often tobacco from various years is rolled into one stick and so the vintage term cannot really be matched up well with Habanos, not even with the Gran Reservas where the year sometimes is openly declared. The years used there normally only go for the wrapper leafs and not the binder or the bunch. But I admit, I’m not a 100% sure and might be wrong here.

So as said in the opening, there is no precise definition and I guess everyone has to come to terms with vintage by her- or himself. In my book, to be truly vintage, a cigar has to have 20 years as its minimal age and it still has to be appeal and smell so nicely, that I am looking forward to smoke this baby. Everything else is just aged. πŸ™‚

La Escepcion Selectos Finos jar

Written by feltedhat on . Posted in Cuban Cigars Post

I slipped again. Back in 2016. It’s been a while but I guess there is no time-barring when it comes to a self-inflicted buying abstinence, right? Well, I was weak. I was unprepared. I really caught me in a very weak moment. I was on vacation. I was in a good mood. I have not bought cigars for a long time. I thought I was safe. I forgot about the mesmerizing odor in walk-in humidors.

What can I say? My guard was down. The selection in the shop was surprisingly wide. And there it stood. The embodied, ceramic temptation. A jar. It just stood there. On the top shelf. I lost it. I did not even ask for the price. Just told the shop assistant that I will take this one with me and reached for my credit card. A few days later I kind of woke up. The haze lifted. I checked my cc bill online to see if I really did this. Or if it was something like a weird dream. And there was the transaction (and might I add a hearty “ouch” here). I went to the humidor. And there it was. A jar. On one of the shelves. Standing there. In my humidor. I believe, I did not even have a look at the sticks in the shop. It did not even open the jar to take a nose full. It all went so fast.

But what a jar! A simple and yet elegant jar. Tall and curvy. Full with 30 sticks. 30 elegant Cuban cigars. I knew the cigars. I smoked some of them as everybody in my virtual vicinity raved about it I smoked some young specimens. I liked the brand from before it got revived to be used for the Edicion Regionales concept. I have smoked some very powerful and tasty vintage cigars from La Escepcion. I like the thinner ring size a lot too. And I believe it is one of the better Edicion Regionales. So getting the jar was the logical next step. Even if taken at a very late (or shall I say, expensive) time. Getting the jar was like committing to this cigar. Like a formal obligation. After all I still feel this is a great cigar and I love jars. Right?

Can anyone blame me? I guess so. Do I feel bad? Yes, a little. Did I overpay? Probably. Funny thing is, this jar did not interest me, back when it came up for sale in Italy. The boxes of La Escepcion Selectos Finos were for sale for quite some months, if I remember well. And then Diademas S.A. offered a free jar if you bought two boxes of 25. A free jar! A free ceramic containment with such elegant curves. But I was not interested. But that has changed. That has changed on this beautiful day in late spring 2016. It has changed on that day when I was driving back from Italy. Driving home. Not thinking about what would hit me when I made a short stopp. What can I say. That day, I slipped again.


Brandy cocktails

Written by feltedhat on . Posted in Brandy Post

Not very much down my alley but it is a part of the Brandy universe and as such deserves a post here. I prefer my Brandy straight up. No ice. No water. No nothing. But there are some Brandy cocktails recipes that, let’s say, are worth a mention here. They at least make an eyebrow of mine raise. To be very precise I did not try every cocktail mentioned here more than once (well apart from one). And I do not consider myself a cocktail mixing bar man. I have other virtues. So apart from the eyebrow nothing much happened. But if I would drink a Brandy based cocktail on a regular basis, it would be one of the following! And while at it I thought it was a great opportunity to go thru a few glasses of them tasty maraschino cherries! πŸ™‚

B&P – 2cl Brandy, 5cl Port, stir and serve on ice. Simple and yet surprising

Brandy Collins – 4cl Brandy, 3cl sugar sirup, 3cl lemon juice, Soda water to your choice, serve stirred with ice. Elegant but effective. BTW this one lends itself to be decorated and accompanied with fruit. I went for red submarine. A maraschino cherry.

Chateau Sarre – 4cl Brandy, 2cl banana cream liquor, 2cl Maraschino, ice cubes. The name is actually more “thrilling” than the drink. πŸ™‚

Brandy Flip – 2cl Port, 3cl Brandy, 1 egg yolk, 1 ts sugar, 2cl cream and a little nutmeg. I guess if you do not have the time for a real lunch or are not a big fan of egg nog, this is for you! I changed the original from more to less port and added more Brandy because I like that better. Profit from being served cold in my opinion.

Brandy Sour – 8cl Brandy, 2cl lemon sirup, 1ts lemon juice, Soda water and a drop of angostura. Serve with ice. Having been to Cyprus, there is no way around this drink established on the island by the English. So that one I knew and adjudicated a lot during my visit to Cyprus.

Hanseatic – 4cl Brandy, 2cl Burbon, 6cl Champagne or Prosecco. This is as not as girlie as the ingredients make it sound, I guess. Personally I prefer Scotch over Burbon but with a sweet demi-sec Champagne to compensate the Whiskys personality.

And a world premiere:
The felted hat – 4cl Gran Duque d’Alba, 1cl Maraschino, fill up glas with ginger ale and add ice, good stuff for happy days, and you might add maraschino cherries too πŸ™‚

I think it goes without saying but I mention it here anyway. I believe in top notch ingridients. Mixing a drink with third class alcohol does not make it equaly enjoyable. If the stuff that tastes good straight up already, is used in a cocktail, chances are, your going to appreciate the mix better as well.

Hope that with this post I was able to raise one or the other eyebrow out there as well. So please go ahead, it’s actually more fun than I anticipated. Or do you have a cocktail with Brandy that you like much better than the ones above?!?