Quai d’Orsay Corona/Hine Antique XO Cognac; Asahi Super Dry Beer

I would love to be able to share with you my endless knowledge of the Quai d’Orsay cigars and in particular this neat little corona from November 2011, but there is a problem. I know the proverbial bugger all about this line. By coincidence, I was chatting with Rob a week or two ago and he kindly gave me a Quai d’Orsay Imperial, which I understand has been discontinued, to have a look at. I could not think of another occasion when I had tried one. 

Then this popped up for Kenfessions. Now, as I said, I could not honestly remember ever having smoked one before so I thought I had better jump on the internet and see what I could find out…

H. Upmann Sir Winston Churchill/Flor de Cana ‘Spresso’; Sullivans Cove Single Cask XO Brandy

I’m not one for spiced rums, although I quite like the Stolen Spiced Rum for its enticing smoky characters, and a note that is almost peaty, but I just love the new offering from Flor de Cana, their Spresso. In fairness, it is much more of a rum/coffee liqueur than a spiced rum, but what’s in a name. We are not likely to be including Spresso in any discussion of the great rums, even great liqueurs of the world. But it is seriously delicious and very moreish…

Cohiba Siglo VI Gran Reserva/Causes & Cures Semi-Dry White Vermouth; Glenfarclas 1971

Onward with the two drinks/one cigar experiment. And hard to think of two more completely different drinks.

But first, the cigar. And what a cigar. If ever there was a ‘last request on death row’ cigar, this is it. Should I find myself thinking of giving a cigar 100 points, sadly an all-too-rare occurrence, I do try and think if it could be improved in any way, is there the tiniest flaw, any reason at all not to give 100? This time, no. All as near perfect as one could wish. I’ve read on various sites where some have described this as the greatest cigar they have ever tried. Fully understand, as it is breathtaking…

Cohiba Siglo IV (July 2011)/Foursquare ‘Premise’ Rum; Foursquare ‘Dominus’ Rum

The two drinks for every cigar idea hit a bit of a speedbump this last time. I’ve been at a place on the coast for a while – Queensland summer – and while I brought a number of cigars, I seem to have failed to bring enough different drinks. I do have some fabulous Margaret River Cabernets, but as Rob isn’t here insisting on red wine with cigars, I won’t insult either the cigar or the wine by matching them. 

I searched the dregs of the old man’s liquor shelf – remembering that this was a man who didn’t drink so everything was largely leftovers from dinner parties or gifts from clients…

Flor de Cano Regional Release Asia Pacific Grandioso (July 2013)/Stone Pine Black Truffle Gin/Delamain ‘Vesper’ Cognac

Two very different spirits this time, to go with a lovely cigar.

The Flor de Cano Regional Release Asia Pacific Grandioso, from July 2013, is a most worthwhile member of the regional releases, up with the best. That said, and I am pretty sure that Rob and I did them for a vid when they first came out, it is not one I see often. Assume that production was not dissimilar to usual (a little research reveals that production was up with the top releases – 5,000 boxes of ten)? They just do not ever seem to pop up on the radar. If anyone has any thoughts on why that might be, please let me know. Did they get a bad rap early? Or was it so highly regarded that they just disappeared into the vaults, never to be spoken of again? Sadly, none disappeared into my vault…

Partagas 8-9-8/Asahi Super Dry Beer; Grand Marnier

We continue the double drinks experiment. This time, I went with two utterly different drinks to see what we’d come up with.

But first, the cigar. A Partagas 8-9-8 of undetermined age, though after smoking it, I think it had a number of years under the belt, but not ancient by any means. The first time I have tried one of these in quite a few years – yes, so many cigars and so little time to smoke them all. Immediate impression is that this is all old school. A nice thin (ish) ring gauge – 43 – and Lonsdale sized. So thumbs up from the kickoff. The flavours are instantly powerful, take-no-prisoners stuff. I think Rob and I did a vid of these some 6-8 years ago. No idea what we thought. I’m going to go out on a limb and say I suspect we enjoyed it…

Cohiba Esplendido (May 2014)/Glenmorangie ‘Quinta Ruban’ 12-Year-Old Malt Whisky; mystery port.

Been thinking about this matching concept. I have a feeling that when one has a decent cigar and a decent drink, there is a subconscious tendency to think, all is well and that they work. Now, I am more than happy to smoke/drink whatever if I am enjoying them, but I wonder if, as far as combinations go, this is falling into the easy trap. So on occasion, I’m going to try a couple of different drinks to go with a cigar and see if one works better than the other. I think that, in order not to confuse the palate too much, it has to be one after the other rather than back and forth. We’ll see…

Hoyo de Monterrey ‘Le Hoyo des Dieux’ (2011)/Suntory Whisky Hibiki ‘Japanese Harmony’ ‘Masters Select’ Whisky

For Kenfessions this time, it was a dip into the bag of mixed singles. Was not looking for anything too extreme, too large. Just a pleasant evening smoke. In the end, we exceeded that in spades! 

So, a des Dieux was perfect – the Hoyo de Monterrey ‘Le Hoyo des Dieux’. From 2011. I think I have a few older boxes (00, 03, 08? although a little inner voice is saying, no, you’ve smoked the lot – hope not and need to check. An even smaller voice says I had a cabinet of these from ?, in the days of unbanded cigars, but I note that cabs of these were discontinued in 06?? That would be a pleasant find)…

Zenith Cohiba/Woodford Reserve Bourbon

Always been a big fan of the Woodford Reserve Bourbon and never really understood why it does not get more love around the traps. No matter. It is probably my go-to bourbon, partly to do with the fact that it has been readily available here for some time. 

I have mentioned in the past, for reasons I do not completely follow, I received a sample bottle of Batch 1, when it was first released (at the time, I was doing very little with spirits). And I will confess that though I’ve enjoyed bottles from a number of batches since then, that was something special – I have a theory that…

Nudies No 1 Lonsdales/Last Drop 1971 Blended Scotch Whisky (and possibly some Flor de Cana 25-Year-Old Rum)

Couple of interesting things touched down at the swamp recently. I had been talking to the people behind a rare spirits company and they were going to flick through a sample for review. And Rob left me with a mystery cigar. No clues at all. 

The whisky sample turned up and it was, wait for it, a 10ml thimble. I thought how on earth does one get to taste anything from such a minute sample? I found out later that a full 700ml bottle comes in at around £4,000, so suddenly 10mls is looking very generous. And it was such a stand out, no issue at all…

Por Larranaga Belicosos Extra RR Asia Pacific 2008/Flor de Cana 25-Year-Old Rum

Was talking to Rob about these cigars, as did the comparison for Kenfessions recently and loved it. I’ve not always had such luck. Rob was very positive on them, suggesting that they simply needed time. Well, a decade seems fair.

This isn’t the first time these smokes have featured in Kenfessions. Over a year ago, I matched one with a fave Kiwi beer, the Emerson’s Hefe-Weizenbier Dunkelweiss. The beer was great, the afternoon with a couple of wonderful books superb, but it was all rather let down by a very disappointing smoke. And looking back, my notes for this cigar, from this box – the Por Larranaga Belicosos Extra RR Asia Pacific 2008 (19/7400) (EMA Jul 08) – have widely varied. Had two from the box, when first opened, in March 2017…

Montecristo No 2/Gouden Carolus Tripel Beer

One does try and swap things about as much as we can for Kenfessions, so to feature the same smoke twice in a row is a little poor form (much like the form of the Aussie batsmen in the background as they desperately try and stave off two losses in a row to the might of King Kohli – and like him or not, that lad can bat). Rules are, however, made to be broken – just ask those Aussie cricketers. Anyway, yours is Monte 2’s, in succession. In fairness, this is such a popular smoke that why not? And when they are in form, as these have been, even more reason…

Montecristo No 2/Cubaney 21-Year-Old

Seems that the old Cuban/elsewhere thing is not just cigars and Bacardi. Whilst we have Cohiba’s and Montecristo’s from various places, as well as Cuba, I had not twigged that Cubaney Rum is also Dominican. I recall bottles from Cuba some years ago and I had a little sampler bottle of their 21-Year-Old in the drinks cupboard, from where I know not (as in, from where I got it, I know not, but I believe, even though one cannot tell from the small bottle with the blurred label, it to be from the Dominican Republic)…

Trinidad ‘La Trova’/Yamazaki 12-Year-Old

May I start this week by asking whether anyone knows, definitively, whether these Trini ‘La Trova’ are one-offs or if they are going to be regular production. I ask as I have heard both and no one seems to know for sure. As so often seems to happen with Cuba and Cuban cigars, confusion reigns. We do know that they were intended as a 2017 release, though it seems that few saw any before this year…

Louis Roederer Cristal 2008/Partagas D4 (Vintage Collection – 2004)

Doing what I do – call it a job or not (and for anyone at the ATO, it most certainly is) – one gets to see a wide range of wines. Some good, some less so and some occasionally spectacular. Sadly, not that many of the latter.

I had been keen to look at the latest release of Louis Roederer Cristal, the 2008, for ages (it has only just been released here but the pre-release hype for it has been more than I have ever seen for a champagne, at least since the 1996 Krug), but was under no illusion that given the demand, a sample was unlikely – I should add that the Roederer people are usually very good with samples…