Tag Archives: Cigars

Bucking a trend

The latest slew of cigars I’ve smoked have all been the same. Don Cervantes, Tatuaje, Padron and a Brickhouse thrown in for good measure. But then Joe Barron of Grants Tobacconist turned me onto Jose Fuego’s Origen cigars and then suggested I try the CAO La Traviata Maduro.

The problem with the last two is that they don’t qualify for the blog but they’re both very tasty, such that I’ve gone back and picked up more of them. Hell, even Brickhouse doesn’t qualify based alone on price. If I were going by ratings, that would be different. Let’s look closely at that first.

Brickhouse, Padron and Tatuaje consistently score 89-91 points from most of the big players like Cigar Aficionado and Smoke Magazine. Yet by my standards, based on price alone, only the Padron Anniversarios, Tatuaje Miami and JC Newman’s Diamond Crown would qualify for review.

Fine. So I’m a snob. And even worse, I’m a romance writer which means I currently don’t bring in the sort of money that the average Cigar Aficionado reader is reported to make. But I refuse to compromise on quality. So what do I do?

That’s one area I can work on with a little bit of thought and talking to other cigar fans. The other problem I have is that I actually only want to try extensions of the above mentioned makers. So that limits me to Don Pepin Garcia, Padron, Eric Newman and Max Myers. Now I’m sure these guys are honored to know that with my income I chose to spend it on their product but the funny thing is that once we start talking to each other, more cigars are suggested and that puts me in an odd position.

“Well,I only smoke Padrons.” In fact, Pete’s La Riqueza #2 broke that streak. Padron broke my JC Newman streak, you see how this goes. And in truth these cigars have different, unique tastes that evoke different sensations on the palate yet still give me that one thing I seek when I light up. A relaxing experience.

Perhaps I just need to stop being stuck in my ways. Oddly enough, I don’t have this problem with wine and spirits. I tend to drink Glenfiddich/Grants as it’s what I can afford and I refuse to compromise on that. With wine, I am a ratings whore. And a classist too. And a Francophile. But I have a hard time getting good French wine in California. But when someone suggests a new cab or merlot I’m welcoming with open arms.

I honestly don’t know what to do about my dilemma. I guess for now, I’m still figuring it out.

This week on Pure Indulgence

This week we cover the question I posed on episode 6 about the cigar shops and tobacconists across the country that have strict policies.

A recap of the issue: Grants Tobacconist had changed their policy whereby customers could enjoy use of the lounge. Prior til August 2nd, there was no minimum required purchase and patrons could enjoy smoking from 5-7 during the weekdays and all day on the weekends. After August 2nd, this changed as did the rules of the lounge. Things looked a little grim and led many of the former patrons to boycott the shop yet I felt it was better to ask why the change occurred and what we as customers could do to help ensure a future of one of the Bay Area’s oldest smoking lounges.

I discovered a very simple answer in talking with Joe, one of the owners of Grants Tobacconist. I think you’ll be delighted.

We’ll discuss Westerly Vineyards 2004 Merlot, Atlas Peak 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon and some basic notes while covering the beauty of these simple, yet elegant wines. Sadly, I haven’t been drinking much in the higher end of things. Yet I intend to remedy that soon as there are a ton of events coming up in the Bay Area that cater to those seeking a taste of the Good Life.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. We recently had a chance to sample wines from the Stepping Stone line by Cornerstone Cellars, Napa Valley California. Tasting notes to follow.

As always, catch repeat shows on Radio Dentata
The White Wolf Indulgence Blog: http://whitewolfindulgence.wordpress.com which is the official blog for Pure Indulgence!

Trouble in the Cigar Industry

With all the new bullshit legislation coming down on cigar and pipe smokers, we’re left looking at each other with unlit vitolas in hand, stress on our shoulders and a crumbling economy. The problem has become so bad that many retailers are scrambling to find new ways to generate revenue -ways which are ultimately going to drive away business.

One of the shops I’ve visited has a policy whereby customers must purchase $25 worth of merchandise in order to enjoy ONLY two hours with one other person in the shrunken smoking lounge. They shrunk the lounge to make more room for product that’s NOT cigar/tobacco oriented.

This policy took effect recently and has already shown itself to be harmful. Many of the regulars have stopped coming to smoke there and will find other places to hang out, if those places can be found. In San Francisco, we’re limited to the Occidental, 850 Montgomery Cigar Bar and that’s it.

Things continue to worsen. The bar around the corner has a sign up in the “smoking” section that says no cigars, no pipes, no weed ya’ll. I agree on the latter but the former two? I’m a cigar smoker, a pipe smoker and now will be taking my money elsewhere as I search for a cigar friendly place to relax.

In the first case, I understand the need to generate revenue in a brick and mortar store located in state with high as hell tobacco taxes. Legislation has shut down many of the businesses that support cigar and pipe smokers, leaving less revenue on the table. This may all seem like whining from a minority group but the last time I checked, this was AMERICA.

In ultra liberal California I’m no longer allowed to smoke cigars on the community balcony. So far the manager has said shit about me smoking my pipe on the front steps.

So what is the answer for shops with shrinking revenue? Even with unlimited funds I couldn’t justify going to a shop every day to smoke and having to spend a minimum amount, which makes it seem like I’m carrying the shop. And the feelings a lot of folks have expressed have been less than stellar.

Sascha Illyvich

Cigar Review: Rocky Patel Patel Bros.

One of the newest cigar makers the industry at the time when I first picked up smoking cigars was Rocky Patel. He’d left his career as a lawyer and found a much better following and probably more success in the cigar industry by making his own cigars. Most folks probably know him for the Edge, a full flavored vitola only for “professional smokers.” Quality on these cigars was astounding and the price was unbeatable.

Shortly after the release of the Edge, Patel launched the 10 year and 12 year blends which were an instant hit due to consistent flavor and great rankings from Cigar Aficionado. Personally I tend to like the 12 year 1990 in a Churchill form for maximum smoking pleasure.

I had the opportunity to try out the Rocky Patel Patel Bros yesterday and I have to say it’s a wonderful stick. A gorgeous dark maduro Pennsylvanian broadleaf wrapper adds flavor and power to this unique Nicaraguan binder and filler. The cigar starts off with robust, spicy and somewhat overpowering flavors that meld into dark roasted coffee notes.
The second third of this cigar mellows even further with toasty earth and mild spice while allowing a perfect draw throughout. The ash held on for about a half inch, indicating flawless construction. A medium to full finish on the palate reminded me of the Casa Magna blend, only a little more complex.

For those interested, this is the first cigar released that was a collaboration between Rocky and his brother Nish. The two for some time wanted to create a special cigar and this is definitely one that continues the legacy of Rocky Patel.

We’ll cover this cigar and a little more about it on an upcoming episode of Pure Indulgence, found only on Radio Dentata. Don’t forget that we did have the opportunity to speak with Tim Wong of Rocky Patel for almost an hour and as soon as the podcast link is up, you’ll find it first here!

Cigar Review: Fuente Fuente OpusX

This well constructed cigar from the Fuente family is one of the finest Puros to come out of the Dominican Republic.

Notes start off with a silky smooth taste from aged tobaccos that meld into hearty a spicy rich taste on the palate. From such a little vitola comes a thick plume of gray smoke with a dark gray ash. The medium finish compliments the rest of this complex cigar leaving the smoker with a satisfied experience.

Aged leaves for the Opus X contribute to a variety of tastes that differs slightly from size to size and will not disappoint fans!

This is one cigar to have in your humidor and I’d like to add that since it’s a smaller size puro, it’s perfect for those quick occasions when you want a lot of flavor but don’t have much time.

Next week on Pure Indulgence

This week we’ll cover Pinot Noir as a single grape varietal while discussing the versatility of which wines can be made from it. We’ll mention new world and old world styles while referencing wines that “should” be easy to find at most wine retailers off and online. With cigars, we’ll share a few recommendations for those wanting to try cigars. Hint, we’re AVOIDING macanudo!

What I’m smoking this week: Padron 4000, La Riqueza Double Corona, Arturo Fuente Rosado, and Grants Royal Reserve Blend Pipe Tobacco
What I’m drinking this week: Rutz Cellars 1997 Quail Hill Vineyard Russian River Chardonnay, Grants Blended Scotch, Knob Creek Whiskey

Check out the blog for White Wolf Indulgence, which helped spin off PI at:

As always find us at Radio Dentata

NEWS: Pure Indulgence launching on Radio Dentata today at 1 PM PST!

As you’ve been with me for awhile now, you know what this blog is about. Now you get to hear me once a week talk about cigars and wine on Radio Dentata

I am Sascha Illyvich, host of Pure Indulgence. We’re dedicated to empowering those who wish to embark upon the Good Life known as fine wine and cigars. Our show will focus on education at first, talking about basics of wine/spirits and cigars before getting into the nitty gritty of why we smoke/drink and how to maximize pleasure from The Good Life.

Pure Indulgence started out by pure annoyance as some of my erotic romance author friends, my producer kept asking me to expand in this direction. When my publicist suggested I do a show or write a blog on it, I told her I’d toy with the idea until my long time publisher Jean Marie Stine of Renaissance E-books fame (and ownership) told me one night I should do the show. So here it is; a weekly half hour show to simplify the daunting world of wine and cigars.

Catch us weekly on http://www.radiodentata.com
White Wolf Indulgence Blog: http://whitewolfindulgence.wordpress.com

Update: Things I’ve tried

Been a week since the last update and I thought since I haven’t drank or smoked anything noteworthy, I’d just take a moment to share what I have been drinking and smoking.

First, yesterday at Grants I smoked the Triumfador by Tatuaje. I understand it’s roughly the same or similiar blend to the La Riqueza (which I need to review for this blog!) and the round of opinions from the guys who smoked it found it pleasant and and “excellent cigar.” I had to agree. Construction was solid, the wrapper held some oily notes along with that signature flavor profile by master blender Don “Pepin” Garcia. I’ll be smoking another one Saturday more than likely. Thanks Pete Johnson!

Oh, at Tobacco Road I finally picked up an Ashton VSG Sungrown. Heard this was a nice smoke and at $17 a stick, it’s blog worthy based on my standards. I’ll report that soon!

I picked up pipe smoking a few weeks back and am enjoying that but haad to deal with the learning curve. Thankfully one of the gents i smoke with has offered to introduce me to some of the finer points on pipe smoking. Btw I picked up a Perot pipe for about $35 from Grants.

This week I’ve had Murrietta’s Well Meritage which doesn’t qualify for the blog (I think it retails for about $15 a bottle) but was a delightful wine to drink. Full of structure, nice tannins and flavor, this 2005 release is one i’ll pick up a few more bottles of. Thank you Livermore Valley, California!

Also this week we had GMH Verdelho from Australia. Geoff M. Hardy’s 2006 release shows bright fruit, acidity and some tartness on this well made South Australian wine.

Of note, was a new thing I might add to the blog. Beer reviews. My girlfriend picked up Three Philsopher’s belgian style ale. Bright flavors with a typical belgian style profile and fruit held nicely on the palate with a medium finish.

Guess that’s it for now.

As always, cheers!

Consumption question

How many cigars do you smoke in a week? How many drinks do you consume in a day?

I ask this question for curiousity’s sake as well as to see where I fit in the moderation spectrum. You see, I recently upped the number of cigars I’ve had in a week from 4 to about 6 and maintained my drink count at 4 drinks a day. Usually two glasses of wine, two scotches.

I asked a few of the smokers I hang out with about their smoking habits and found that most seem to hover around 3-4 cigars a day. If I smoked that much I’d never get anything done!

My cigars and pipe are a relaxing thing for me that keeps me out of the office. Cigars require me to leave the house and be outside at least long enough to head to BART to go to Grants or Tobacco Road. Or at the very least I can sit ont he lake and light up.

Regarding drinks, I just never thought about why I can’t have four drinks in a day. The wine and last scotch of the night is centered around a hearty meal and the early drink I have with lunch.

I drink plenty of water, tea and juice. I eat fairly well and beileve in a good diet all around –which should include fine scotch and cigars!

What say you?

Happy New Years fellow Enthusiasts!

I want to wish you all a happy and successful new year and that you may all enjoy the finer things in life! I started off the year working with a bang, cranking out plots and words for three new stories, and had to take a cigar break Tuesday!

First cigar of the year was NOT up to blog standards, but was still a good, tasty stick. I had heard a lot about the Arturo Fuente Double Chateau Fuente by one of the guys who smokes them at Grants so I picked one up.

Definitely a good stick for an occasion when I want something more mild to medium with creamy, woodsy notes.

As for drink, nothing spectacular has hit my palate yet. We’ve gotta work on that!

More soon!