Tag Archives: Cigars

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!

Bourbon Review: Four Roses

Four Roses Website

This bourbon was a gift from the girlfriend on Thanksgiving. While I’m normally  a scotch drinker, I began drinking bourbon some seven or eight years ago as my sister is a Maker’s Mark girl.  She likes it neat 🙂

When I discovered cigars, I found some paired really well with bourbon and not so well with the particular scotches I could afford so when I told my girlfriend I’d smoked the La Riqueza by Tatuaje and that Thomas at Grants had suggested enjoying bourbon with it, I guess she got a hint 🙂

The bourbon is very smooth and contains that little hint of sweetness on the back of the palate while displaying fruit and floral notes in the front of the mouth.  It has the characteristic smoothness one would enjoy from a good bourbon all while being light bodied.  I’m thinking it’ll pair well with my la riqueze or the Torano signature I just had and will leave notes for that when I can.

This is definitely a sipper to be enjoyed over time.

From the website:

In 1884, Paul Jones Jr., moved his thriving business to Louisville, Kentucky, where he opened an office in a section of historic Main Street called, “Whiskey Row.” Four years later, he trademarked the name Four Roses, claiming production and sales back to the 1860s. In 1922, the Paul Jones Company purchased the Frankfort Distilling Company, one of only six distilleries granted permission to operate through prohibition to produce Bourbon for medicinal purposes. Owing to Paul’s passionate direction and astute business sense, sales of the Bourbon flourished and Four Roses grew to be a preeminent brand.

In 1943, Seagram purchased the Frankfort Distilling Co. primarily to acquire the most noted and recognized name in the business at that time – Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon. Even though Four Roses was the top selling Bourbon in the U.S. in the 30s, 40s and 50s, Seagram made the decision to discontinue the sale of Kentucky Straight Bourbon here, and Four Roses was moved to the rapidly growing European and Asian markets where it quickly became the top selling Bourbon.

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The website describes the bourbon as mellow and I’d definitely agree.  I had my flask filled with Wild Turkey earlier this week and that has more aggressiveness to it,  possibly due to the slightly higher alcohol content.  Also, Four Roses is not as aggressive and lacks the  oaky characteristics that Makers has, but agan, all bourbons are different.  Four Roses uses new white oak barrels to distill with so you’re not going to get a lot of oakyness in this bourbon IMHO.

But this is definitely an upgrade if you’re used to drinking Jim Beam or Jim Beam Black.

Cigar Review: Cuesta Rey 898 Cabinet

The Cuesta Rey 898 cabinet is a 7  X 49 cigar with creamy, mellow flavors made from the famous JC Newman and Fuente family is alwayas a favorite of mine.  A cameroon wrapper gives a slightly toothy edge to the mellowness from the Dominancan binder and filler.

I just discovered that there is a maduro version of this cigar!

I picked up my first 898 Cabinet at a shop I refuse to name and sat down with it.  The burn was good, even and the draw was a little tougher than other Cuesta Rey’s I’m used to (like the #60 torpedo) but for the price on a mild to medium bodied cigar, it can’t be beat.  Smoke time was about an hour and a half but you have to remember my smoke time is going to vary depending on where I am smoking at.

Buy from JR Cigars