Distinguished Ruffian

Pappy Van Winkle Tradition

Pappy Van Winkle TraditionAs someone who drinks bourbon on a daily basis the idea of the Pappy Van Winkle Tradition cigar was an exciting event for me. Whether it had anything to do with the whiskey itself really didn’t matter it was the idea that a blend had been made for us whiskey drinkers and gotten the seal of approval from Julian Van Winkle himself. I might have been a little over zealous in texting photos to everyone I knew once I got them using the unicorn emoji and #bejealous but like I said I was excided. (What can I say, my friends and I are all immature.)

Willy Herrera made this particular blend during his tour of the Drew Estate factory in Nicaragua while deciding to join the Drew Estate team. Several other blends where given to Julian to sample and ultimately this was the one he found himself going back to and like that the Tradition was born. Now that we have the quick history behind it, on to the important stuff.

Construction of the cigar is solid as is the case with pretty much anything you get from Drew Estate. The seams on the wrapper are tight and even and the feel of the cigar throughout the body is full with no dead spots. The wrapper itself has very minimal veining giving it a smooth complexion. The color is a light roasted coffee bean with a just a hint of the oily sheen you’d expect from an Oscuro. The feel of the cigar is full but yielding to pressure between the fingers

The smell from the body is woodsy and semi-sweet. From the foot there is the distinct smell of raisins, leather and, perhaps it’s my imagination because of the excitement but bourbon as well. I choose a straight cut for this cigar and the cap comes off easily and has no effect on the integrity of the cigar. The pre-light draw is firm but not to the point that you feel you’re fighting with it. The pre-light flavor is that of fresh brewed tea and hay.

It lights easily and burns evenly as it starts with mild resistance on the draw. The cigar produced plenty of smoke that had a light mouth feel and had a nice sweet scent. The initial flavors to me were spice and pepper with a citrus finish but remained mellow making this an easy to smoke cigar and paired well bourbon. This flavor carries on for the first half of the stick.

The second half of the smoke shows the peppery flavor becoming slightly more prominent with the taste of fresh bread and hints of leather nudging its way on to the pallet. The ash was light grey and held tightly for the duration of the smoke, only falling off when requested. The burn stayed consistent and even through the duration of the cigar.

The overall construction of this cigar was top notch and the Belicoso size was perfect for me. The flavors were fantastic and were blended to the point that none of the flavors were overpowering but mingle together to as a great smoke. This made for a rich, complex smoke that you could either pay attention to all of the subtle nuances or just sit back and relax and enjoy. Not surprisingly this cigar paired very well with bourbon but could easily be enjoyed with coffee or sparkling water. If you happen to come across these pick up whatever you can because you will not be disappointed.

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro

Filler: Indonesian and Dominican

Sizes: Coronita 4 x 46, Robusto Grande 5.5 x 54, Toro 6 x 50, Belicoso Fino 5 x 50

Also available in these sizes but only available in certain ways.

Churchill 7 x 48: Exclusively available at Drew Diplomat Spirits Retailers

Lonsdale 6.5 x 44: Box Exclusively at Drew Diplomat Rewards Events in October, November and December 2017

Corona 5.5 x 44: Available exclusively from Jonathan Drew and Julian Van Winkle

Price: $21.00-$26.00

Website: Drewestate.com

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 pints

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Suicide King From Traficante Cigar Company

Traficante Cigars Suicide KingBeing fairly involved in social media it was hard not to notice the serge in Traficante sticks being passed around and quite a lot of them through our club members. Finally curiosity got to me and I checked out their website. I liked their stance on how they operate and their idea of building camaraderie in the industry aligned with our philosophy so of course I placed an order. Some of the prices are slightly above average but from a vendor who produces less than 1,000 sticks a day the prices are justifiable.

For my first smoking experience with Traficante I chose their box pressed Suicide King. It comes in one size, a 6×50 Toro. The wrapper is a rich dark espresso color, is fairly smooth with some veining. The cigar feels spongy to the touch but the rolling is consistent all the way though with no dead spots. The pre-light draw is easy which goes with the soft feel of the roll. Even though it feels soft and the pre-light draw is easy the construction is solid and it is a well crafted cigar.

It lights easily with no issues and seems to burn well. The flavor is rich and earthy with a lasting finish. Smoke production is full but feels light. Even though it has an easy draw to it the cigar does not burn hot or fast. This held up until just past the first third of the cigar.

Just past the first third the burn line became A bit uneven and an inspection of the foot showed a bit of tunneling. This began to worry me but I hit the uneven burn with my torch to bring it up to speed and carried on. After about 1/4 – 1/2 an inch more the burning kept even and the tunneling disappeared. (Side note: This has not happened again with either the second one of these or others from their line that I have since smoked. We’ll chalk this up to a one time occurrence.)

The flavor profile stayed consistent throughout the cigar with a bit of nuttiness being more apparent towards the final third. The cigar burned with no issues for the remainder of the smoke and had a tight greyish ash that held on for a good inch or so before knocking it off.

For my first go around with a company I was pleased with the taste and overall construction of the cigar. While there was that moment of uncertainty I was glad to see that it was just a minor hiccup and I’m sure that the other cigars I purchased from them for reviewing will not have this issue. If your looking for a break from your everyday cigars I suggest giving Traficante a try you won’t be disappointed.

 

Wrapper: Maduro (Most likely Nicaraguan)

Filler: Nicaraguan and Dominican

Sizes: Toro (6 x 50)

Price: $13.44

Website: Traficantecigar.com

Rating: 4 out of 5 pints

 

AK-47 Cigar Punch From Hollow Point Gear

Hollow Point Gear Cigar PunchWhen it comes to cigar accessories everybody needs a good reliable cutter. Now I know we all have our favorite one that stay with all of our usual cigar accoutrements, whether it’s a guillotine, scissors or a maybe a V notch. However how many times have you ended up somewhere with your travel kit, pulled out the cigar you’ve been looking forward to smoking all day and your lighter then had that “Where the hell is my cutter moment”? So what do you do then? Well you could break out your knife and hope you remembered to sharpen it recently so it’s sharp enough to cut the cap properly without damaging the whole thing (No comments Fran we all know you sharpen your knives religiously) or you could have the convenient AK47 cigar punch from HollowPointGear.com that slips right onto your keys with the attached grenade ring so you always have a solid back up plan.

I’ve had this little guy now for about two months or so now and have used it on at least 30 cigars and AK47 Cigar Puncheach time I’ve had no problems getting a solid, clean punch. It makes for a good draw on the cigar and most importantly doesn’t cause any damage to the wrapper. My only complaint with this thing is that there is no opening on the back of the shell to clear it so the cut caps do build up inside but this in only a minor issue. The bullet cigar punch is handcrafted with a real once-fired AK47 (7.62 x 39mm) bullet casing, and a real once-used (not sure what they did with the grenade after pulling the pin) grenade pin.

Do yourself a favor and pick up one of these AK47 cigar punches from Hollowpointgear.com. At a cost of $11.99 the first time you need it because you don’t have anything with you to cut that $12.00 stick this guy has already paid for itself. While your on the site be sure to check out their other items as well.

Cost: $11.99

Website: Hollowpointgear.com

Rating: 4.6 out of 5 pints

Southern Draw’s Jacobs Ladder

Souther Draw Jacobs LadderAfter having The Rose of Sharon at Cats Fest in Texas this year I was very excited to try Southern Draw’s Jacobs Ladder and being a fan of full-bodied cigars my anticipation level was very high. The cigar boasts a dark, full flavored maduro broadleaf wrapper from Pennsylvania. Inside is Nicaraguan long filler including Estelí Ligero and an Ecuadorian binder. Like the rest of their cigars the name comes from a flowering plant, Jacobs Ladder was used in ancient Greece for medicinal purposes, of course there’s also the biblical reference as well as the founders son’s middle name also happens to be Jacob.

The wrapper of the cigar is fairly smooth but has some large veining through portions of it. The roll feels tight and solid all the way along the stick but, as it should, gives when pressed between the fingers. The pre-light draw is not as difficult as I would have expected from how tight the roll felt. (Note: This cigar has a covered foot that I removed to inspect the bunching and aroma. If the foot were left covered the draw would feel more difficult.) The smell has a sweetness to it that reminds me of dried fruit and licorice and the pre-light draw is reminiscent of fresh brewed un-sweet tea.

Lighting was easy and the draw was smooth. With the first few pulls there is a large wave of spice and pepper, it’s the kind of flavor you’d expect from a blend like this. It burns evenly, the ash hangs on for easily an inch or so before I decide to knock it off vs. seeing how far I can go then getting upset when it falls in my lap. It produces plenty of nice heavy smoke that you can almost chew on. This flavor profile carries on for about the first half of the cigar.

Entering the second half the pepper and spices take a back seat to a nice punch of rich sweet tobacco and leather flavor. It’s the kind of flavor you would imagine WWII tank drivers must have gotten from their cigars. The burn remains even throughout the last half of this cigar with the pepper coming back in a bit more again towards the last third and continues to produce plenty of rich smoke.

This cigar was an absolute joy to smoke; in fact I took this guy down to a nub, which I rarely do. While it’s being said that it is a complex flavored cigar I think people are over thinking it, to me this is a great straightforward full flavored and full-bodied cigar. It is clearly on the heavier side so I wouldn’t recommend it for the novice smoker but any seasoned smoker that wants to remember what it’s like to taste what you are smoking should pick this guy up.

 

Wrapper: Pennsylvania broad leaf maduro

Filler: Nicaraguan long filler including Estelí Ligero

Binder: Ecuador

Sizes: Gordo (6 1/2 x 60), Robusto (5 1/2 x 54), Toro (6 x 52)

Price: $9.50 – $10.50

Website: Southerdrawcigars.com

Knives by Panhandle_Iron

Fixed Blade Knife

A solid reliable fixed blade is a necessary part of your EDC. I’ve been looking for a good utilitarian everyday blade that was small enough to conceal carry easily but had enough balls to it to get the job done. After some investigation, about a month ago I was lucky enough to get one from Joe Gilliam AKA Panhandle_Iron on Instagram.

When I received the blade it came packaged with a horizontal carry olive drab Kydex sheath. The sheath measures 4 7/8″ long and 3″ wide counting the belt clip. The over all size of the knife is 7 1/4″ with the handle being 3 1/4″ and the blade 4″. A perfect size for everyday use and.

The blade is forged from 1095 steel, which is a basic form of carbon steel, and has a carbon content of .95% which serves to harden the steel, and reduce the amount of wear that a blade will experience over time. It holds a great edge which can be seen by Joe’s efforts in sharpening the blade before shipping it and is very easy to re-sharpen when needed. With the properties of this type of steel it can rust but as long as you make sure to not leave it wet after use and occasionally oil it up this is not an issue. After the initial photos taken at the beach and a month of use there has been no problems of rust what so ever.

 

The blade also has a noticeable hamon on it which makes for an overall esthetically pleasing look to the final product but shows the effort put into the blade. Hamon is a visual effect created on the blade by the hardening process, it is the outline of the hardened zone which contains the cutting edge. This means that the cutting edge is harder than the spine make for a better edge but a more durable spine. 

The handle is fitted with natural micarta scales and brass pins that fit very nuclei in the hand and is Fixed Blade Knifecomfortable to hold on to. Micarta industrial laminate sheets are a hard, dense material made by applying heat and pressure to layers of prepreg. These layers of laminations are usually cotton fabrics, synthetic yarn fabrics, glass fabrics, or unwoven fabrics. When heat and pressure are applied to the layers, a chemical reaction transforms the layers into an incredibly durable industrial laminated plastic.

 

After carrying this guy around everyday for over a month and beating the crap out of it I can’t say enough good things about it. It’s easy to carry, holds a great edge, can be used in almost every application and is just an overall fantastically made knife. Joe knows his way around a knife and can custom make a blade to your specifications for whatever you might need. If your looking for a great fixed blade that you’ll get years of use out of I strongly suggest you talk to Joe. Prices will vary depending on what you want,but are going to start around $100 which for a custom made blade is not a bad price at all. You can find him on Instagram under the name @Panhandle_Iron, just shoot him a direct message with what you’re looking for and he’ll make it happen.

 

Dim Mak From Moya Ruiz

Moya Ruiz Dim MakThe Dim Mak from Moya Ruiz is the third installment in their yearly limited edition line of cigars. While its been almost a year since it’s launch and only 700 boxes of 10 cigars were made, they have been one of my favorites and since there are still a few of these guys floating around figured why not get a review up about them. Like the two limited edition cigars before it, it has an Asian inspired motif and name as a nod to Cigar Dojo for their help in promoting the brand during inception.

Visual inspection of the Ecuadorian Habano wrapper reveals a smooth wrapper with little veining and a milk chocolate color. The construction looks clean and the seams are tight. The roll feels solid all the way down with no apparent dead spots, it feels full but also yields to light pressure.

The body gives a large fragrance that reminds me of an old library, that leather mixed with old books aroma. The cap was removed with a straight cut and came off with no rips or tears to the overall body. The cigar lit easily and the burn started smooth.

The start of the stick offers a good dose of pepper and spice to the flavor profile, with a bit of grassy notes. There was good full medium bodied smoke production and the burn went well and evenly. The ash was a little on the loose side. Not to the point that you had to ash after every draw but you’re not going to win any long ash contests here. This continues through the first half of the smoke.

The second half mellows a bit with the spices calming down and more of a zesty citrus note coming to the front. Smoke production remains constant while the burn gets slightly wavy from time to time but overall mostly even.

Overall this is a great cigar with an excellent construction with great strength and full flavor. In my opinion this is one of Moya Ruiz’s heaviest cigars. If you’re new to the smoking world be prepared for a lot of flavor and strength, if you’re a seasoned smoker you’re in for a treat.

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano

Binder/Filler: Nicaragua/Dominican

Size: 5” X 54 Robusto

Price: About $10.00

DR Colorado Meet Up

 

finalIts finally happening! The first annual DR Colorado Meet Up!!!
On June 3rd plan on being at Havana Manor Louisville starting at 3:00 P.M. and going until closing. (Location information for the shop is available at the bottom of this page.) Not only are we getting the hospitality of such a nice facility BUT we are also fortunate enough to have Illusione Cigars there to party with us and of course their rep will be offering member specials throughout the day so be sure to have your patches and coins on you.IMG_0937

This event will also be a BYOB so make sure you bring food and whatever you like to drink to share with everyone and lets make this a great time. We look forward to seeing everyone out there and having a few cigars with the family. As always even though this is an official DR member event non-members are always welcome to come and join the fun and get to see what we’re all about. See you there!!!

BYOB

Havana manor Louisville @havanamanor on Instagram
1124 W Dillon Rd
Ste 4 Louisville, CO 80027
(303) 666-6134