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

Hoyo de Monterrey ‘Le Hoyo de San Juan’/Blanton’s Gold Edition Single Barrel Bourbon

Hoyo de Monterrey ‘Le Hoyo de San Juan’/Blanton’s Gold Edition Single Barrel Bourbon

Do cigars induce weird dreams?

Not sure I have noticed this before but after a big cigar, I had a night full of them. I can’t remember any, except the tail-end of the last one – so often the way.

A group of us were in Havana, Cuba, but it was unlike I’ve ever seen Havana. More like, but different to, Mooloolaba. Anyway, three of us – someone I can’t recall, a mate we’ll call Merls (because that is what we call him – a friend of both Rob and mine, though I knew Merls, the coffee king of Australia, about 20 years before I even met Rob – his was the store where Rob set up his first humidor) and myself. Merls came with us on our 2nd trip, many years ago, but why we were there this time, no idea.

A lot went on before we got to this stage, but no idea what – lost in the mists of dreamland. My first recollection was that we were in some enormous supermarket/sporting goods store. The Cuban staff were being very helpful. Merls was off somewhere looking at something and I was minding his extremely young daughter (not sure of exactly what kids Merls actually has, or their ages). Merls had wrapped her up in blankets and we were using a shopping trolley as a pram. This seemed perfectly normal to us, but I guess it was Cuba.

Our other mate headed off and was not seen again and I still can’t remember who it was. We were in a bit of a rush as there was a nearby pub which apparently held beer drinking contests and we were keen to get there. Anyway, Merls heads off and I am apparently supposed to meet him there. Just before I leave, one of the staff comes over and says, ‘excuse me sir, your friend forgot this’. And hands me an even younger kid, pretty much a newborn, in some sort of baby-carrying basket. Kid is all wrapped up and asleep. I am not excited.

Anyway, I have to catch up with everyone, so I gently place the baby-carrying basket into the “pram” on top of the other kid, but I do make sure she is okay. She sleeps though all of this. They both do. And off I go, staff opening doors, me having to get the trolley over all manner of bumps and hills. Across major roads. Get to the pub, which is an open-air pub but under cover, on a headland, on several levels. And it is chockers. Huge crowd. This is the Sunday session and everyone is there. But not a Cuban in sight. Not even any of the staff. The kids are still asleep.

So, I am wheeling the trolley and basket all around the pub looking for Merls. No sign. I’m asking everyone of they have seen him. Get to the beer contest area – quite civilised – but still no sign of Merls. Next thing, some middle-aged woman, quite well-dressed, slams the side of the trolley and glares at me. I have no idea why but she is not happy. And nor am I. I point out that there are kids in this trolley and ram her with it. She whacks it again – kids start crying – and I ram her several times until she goes away. Continue the search for Merls.

By now, I am in another area of the pub, having to manoeuvre the trolley over bumps. Finally run into Merls. He is delighted by the fact that he has found so many old friends – some I knew and some I didn’t. Anyway, we edge outside onto the headland. Spectacular views but they were not views that were familiar to me. Merls takes the baby and the other daughter wakes up. She is the cutest little girl. Hops up in the trolley, she is only just tall enough to peer out over the edge, and starts giving us high fives. With some force. Big grin.

I remember thinking what a gorgeous little kid and wow, Merls must have married a supermodel to have a kid this cute. But when she smiles, she has triangular teeth like a shark. Although rather bizarrely, in the dream, I actually think it also looks quite cute.

And then I woke up.

I have not the slightest idea what it all means but it is, to the absolute best of my recollection, the first time Merls has ever appeared in a dream of mine (I’m sure he won’t be offended if I say I also hope it is the last). Caught up with him a couple of weeks ago but no reason I can think of that he should feature.

Another mystery which will go unsolved.

And speaking of unsolved mysteries, why on earth do people prefer monster gauge cigars?

That brings us to today’s cigar and drink. The cigar that induced these dreams was a Hoyo de Monterrey ‘Le Hoyo de San Juan’. It is not a cigar with which I am familiar. This is part of the Greg-parcel, designed to expose me to some new cigars for Kenfessions. I recently got some different Blanton’s, so it is the Blanton’s Gold Edition Single Barrel Bourbon. Not really sure they benefit from the little horse on the cork, but I guess it makes them readily identifiable.

I suspect that Greg chose this pseudo-baseball bat deliberately to test me. The immediate impression anyone will have is of a monster ring gauge. For me, we are now in the realms of the absurd. 54. Seriously? But it looks well constructed. I have read of underfilled cigars in this line. No such issue here.

To be honest, these had not registered with me prior to this one. They came in, in 2014, but to the best of my recollection, I have never smoked one before. This is, of course, the moment when someone will instantly link to a review Rob and I did of them at some stage and where I no doubt raved about them.

I am simply so uncomfortable with this ring gauge that they are not a cigar I’d buy. Not unless they were something just so stellar that it was bucketlist stuff. In fact, I thought it was a pretty good cigar. But not good enough for me to buy. Flavours are fine – I just really hate that size (and yes, I know some love it and good luck to them – in that case, definitely chase this and put them away). Too young at this stage but lots to like.

Such a shame it makes one feel that one is at the dentist. ‘Open wide. Wider. WIDER!’

An under-medium style with a light nutty note and some dry herbs, but quickly moved to a lovely creamy coffee character. A note of white chocolate and some light caramel popcorn notes, which were actually very pleasant – I remember telling Rob that I had never seen popcorn in a cigar (one of the very, very few foods I do not like) but it was here. And it worked. Then there were liberal doses of cinnamon. The last third had the thing verging on falling into the earthy and possibly slightly unpleasant realm, but it held up well. Those creamy coffee and cinnamon notes did dissipate. Some lighting issues in the last third. A very young cigar and if I did have any, I would leave them for at least 2-4 years. 91, if you want a score, but the potential for more.

The mildness of the cigar was possibly marginally overwhelmed by the bourbon, but not to the extent that it harmed the match to any extent. Melded very well. The cinnamon/popcorn caramel of the smoke and caramel in the bourbon worked well.

All up, a fine combo. But it does lead me to a broad generalisation. I say this after having had a couple of the Greg-parcel, which are brand new cigars. It is much, much harder to successfully match a young cigar with a good drink, whatever that might be, than it is do so with an aged cigar.


Ramon Allones Specially Selected/Sanchez Ayala ‘20 Anos’ ‘Galeon’ Oloroso Sherry

Ramon Allones Specially Selected/Sanchez Ayala ‘20 Anos’ ‘Galeon’ Oloroso Sherry

Cohiba Medio Siglo/Laphroaig “The 1815 Legacy Edition”

Cohiba Medio Siglo/Laphroaig “The 1815 Legacy Edition”