Welcome to Kenfessions, my occasional and irregular blog, looking at the world of cigars and drinks, and hopefully matching the two. The good, the bad and the downright ugly. No doubt, it will veer off on all manner of tangents, but we will try and stick to the subject (when it suits).

- Ken Gargett

A royal pairing/Montecristo No. 2 2006/2016 Four Pillars Christmas Gin

A royal pairing/Montecristo No. 2 2006/2016 Four Pillars Christmas Gin

So, a B grade Hollywood actress, pretending to be a legal secretary in a dodgy drama, is to marry His Royal Highness, Prince Henry of Wales, 5th in line to the British throne, assuming Europe doesn’t get that in the Brexit divorce. The greatest act of social climbing this century and perhaps second only to that short fat bloke nabbing Grace Kelly. Good on you, Harry, blokes everywhere salute you. You are definitely coming up in the world.

Unfortunately, the impending nuptials will mean that no longer, as one approaches the supermarket checkout, will one be confronted by an array of glossies all showing young Harry with a new attractive blonde on his arm. Still, getting hitched is certainly a step up from his previous favourite hobby – dressing up as a Nazi. And now, the world is holding its collective breath as the good folk of Damp Island indulge in their favourite past-time – preparing for yet another Royal Wedding.

You’d think after the somewhat limited success and extended fallout of the ‘wedding of the century’, (last century), between Chuck and Di, they’d have learnt their lesson, but it is a great way to sell coffee mugs and tea-towels. And who amongst us would not settle back with a good cigar to enjoy the spectacle, hoping that at least this bride will get His Royal Hubby’s name right this time (still, unlike Mum and possible Dad, at least ‘Harkle’ – has to be a better combo than ‘Marry’ – have met a few times before the ceremony). Personally, I like her chances that, given she is an actress and presumably learning lines is her day job, she will do better than the now-departed highness-in-law and she will remember her fiancé’s name at the crucial time.

Still, a Royal Brit hooking up with an American divorcee. What could possibly go wrong?

I’m sure that vast numbers of young Aussie lasses have had their hopes dashed, fingers crossed that young Harry would come looking downunder – after all, the Crown Prince of Denmark (not Hamlet, but did you like how I slipped in a reference to Hamlet so I can tell his Grand Poobah of FoH that I am keeping this cigar-related, even if the wrong Hamlet) managed to slip in to the Slip Inn and find one Mary D from Tassie, former partner in the failed Kingcash business (I’m sure it was not her fault).

But to digress, I recall some disturbing news seeping out of Damp Island some time ago, but in a land as besotted with all things Royal as our own blue rinse set, it was always likely to go unnoticed. Or ignored. Thankfully, Kenfessions is on the job to share this crucial information.

Seems that the most famous regal dinosaur of all, Diana, has fallen from favour amongst the general populace. Say it isn’t so!

We know this because there are apparently – and I am not making this up – people employed by the British government to keep records of the names used, and the number of them, for each new addition to the Pommy population (don’t you love it when you discover a new way elected officials waste money). This is, apparently, essential work as the public service do their bit to prop up the last remnants of the eroding Brit Empire (cue the music from ‘Dad’s Army’). If this isn’t a harbinger of the end of Western civilisation then I don’t what is. How did life exist before these people arrived (and who dreamt up the need for them?). Or did they always exist, lurking in the background, in dusty, file-ridden rooms in the back of Pall Mall, quietly toiling away, keeping England safe from the damage that could be done if it were not known that Brittany is currently a more popular name than Agnes?

More relevant is how on earth does one become such a person (is there a name for them?). What parent wouldn’t be chuffed beyond spit if their little Johnny (or indeed, as no doubt these back-room boys could tell you, more likely ‘little Jonny’ ever since that dark day of the World Cup final – thanks very much, superboot) came home from school and proudly announced that when he grew up, he wanted to count names.

Well, it seems that a recent release of such information, no doubt a ‘standing room only’ press conference, revealed that only 40 parents had seen fit to bestow the name ‘Diana’ on their daughters. Actually, the report said ‘child’ rather than ‘daughter’, but we can only hope that things are not so dire over in the Motherland that parents have besmirched Old Blighty’s honour by so labelling their sons (anyone else hear Johnny Cash in the background or the antiquated remains of our own ‘No’ campaign claiming the end of life on earth?). Okay, there could have been other releases with important updates subsequently, but my level of interest sits on a par with my chances of settling in with a cigar and a rum in the back row of the blessed event, and yes, I know, nothing like flogging a dead equine, even if it is a regal one.

So, Diana is out and in comparison, during the same period, almost one hundred sets of parents (and one would have thought that this act alone would have made a compelling prima facie case against them ever being allowed to have children) called their daughter, ‘Chardonnay’. Seriously.

Are the future playgrounds of Damp Island destined to ring with the sound of wine? “Sauvignon and Gris, please stop running”. What if their folks enjoyed a good blend? “Cab Shiraz, did you and Meritage do your homework?” Can we look forward to a Royal Hitching further down the track between a Prince Pinot and a Viscountess Viognier? No doubt, all the tabloids will be speculating just when they might release their own bunch of Dolcetto’s?

Of course, all winelovers will be keen to see what will be served on the Big Day. There are already strong rumours that guests will be swilling Pol Roger NV, because apparently, the government can’t stick their hand in the Treasury and spring for a vintage? Surely that would be the final nail in the Empire’s coffin. Last year at a pretty swanky tasting in Europe, I got to try a special release Veuve Clicquot, made just for the Chuck and Di Royal Wedding Breakfast. Not sure it lasted any better than the marriage did.

Now, FoH is never one to name names, unless we can get away with it, so you may have to read between the lines as to just who was hitching themselves to whom and when, but our favourite Royal Hitching of recent times took place in yet another European kingdom (okay, Spain and it was quite a few years back). It did suggest that perhaps Europe had gone back to basics – abandoned their flirtation with sporting success and reverted to what they do best. A good old Royal piss-up. Or, as the press release from a certain Spanish winery, whose product was poured down the throat of thousands at the big event, described it, ‘A Royal Weeding’.

Word filtered out at the time, the media in Europe no longer treating these things in the sacrosanct way they once did, that a few of the toffs may have behaved in a less than regal manner than would be expected at such a do. Now, as we have mentioned, we have seen one of our own, Mary D from Kingcash (taking the broad view that Taswegians are close enough to real Aussies), join the Royal Fellowship of Europe not so long ago, so if one was concerned that there might be a bit of a barney at a hitching, given that Taswegians were involved, surely that would be the one. Forget it, the Spaniards and their guests beat them hands down.

Indeed, a new phrase even entered the European lexicon – ‘hacer un Hanover‘ (which I am assured, somewhat reliably though no guarantees, means ‘doing a Hanover’) – which in turn, in Aussie parlance means ‘taking a sickie’. Evidence? For those who were wondering why Princess Caroline shuffled up the red carpet at said gala sans hubby, it was later revealed that he was a smidge ‘tired and emotional’ from the pre-Weeding lunch, the day before. It seems he became intimately acquainted with numerous bottles of a very fine 1994 Rioja and was unable to even fall out of bed on the big day, though witnesses reported that he’d had no problems doing all the falling he wanted, the day before.

Still, the accomplishments of Caroline’s handbag du jour were tame in comparison to the Charlie Sheen-esque performances of cousins, Victor Emmanuelle de Savoy and Amedeo de Aosta, heirs to the Italian throne – and if you didn’t know that, or even that Italy still had a throne, then you have not been keeping up with your celebrity mags. The cousins are, it seems, not the best of friends; not bon amis, as they say over there (somewhere over there). In the old days, presumably one would have slipped a little poison into the other’s Chianti, had him run through with a sharp sword or slipped the current Pontiff a bung to declare a papal decree having him tortured and burnt, but apparently such behaviour is now considered a touch infra dig, even for European royalty.

Things between the pair eventually bubbled over at a pre-hitching dinner at the Zarzuela Palace (don’t you just love the way alcohol, ’cause you just know it was involved, helps international relations) and Vic clobbered Amedeo. Ice was supplied by one of the sheiks from Saudi. Poor old King Carlos was last seen walking away, muttering ‘nunca mas‘ (never again – or possibly something really rude if my interpreter has lied to me).

So, ‘nunca mas’, at least, with luck, not until the next Royal Weeding – come on down, Harkle. Perhaps I will get out a good cigar and the rum.

Speaking of which, if ever there was a Royal match deserving of our attention, it came to me the other evening. I found the last of my 2016 Four Pillars Christmas Gin in the back of the fridge and believe me, the extra time has done it no harm at all – raisins, stonefruit, toffee, an alcoholic Christmas cake. Delicious by itself but a wonder when matched with an old favourite, a Montecristo No 2. But not just any Monte 2 – this was from a box from Oct 2006 (and loathe as I am to inflate his ego any further, I have a feeling that Cardinal Whipcrack, who has presumably already started watching the mail for his invite to the big do at Buck House next year, selected the box for me). It was, quite simply – and like most of us, I’ve smoked a fair few of these – the finest Monte 2 I have ever enjoyed. This was a surprise as I had already tried a couple from this box and they were good, but not overly special. This one, as they all do, looked great – dark oily wrapper. It was a seamless, balanced, complex, mature smoke. Lovely rich flavours, choc cake and nuts. But together they were magic. The sum of the parts far greater than the individual components. Wow.

I would like to wish our heroes all the best and hope that they will be as good a match as the Gin and Monte 2, but I doubt it. After all, fairy tales only happen in Hollywood.


Dasher & Fisher ‘Meadow’ Gin/H Upmann Magnum 46

Dasher & Fisher ‘Meadow’ Gin/H Upmann Magnum 46

November 11th - A momentous day in history - Partagas D4 Vintage Collection - Tia Maria

November 11th - A momentous day in history - Partagas D4 Vintage Collection - Tia Maria