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

Partagas Serie E No. 2 - Chalmers Appassimento 2017 - Yamazaki 12-Year-Old

Partagas Serie E No. 2 - Chalmers Appassimento 2017 - Yamazaki 12-Year-Old

Rob kindly dropped off a small bag of mixed smokes for Kenfessions last week. Unfortunately, he’d picked up the wrong bag, so I have a mix of seconds – whose, we have no idea. We decided to give it a go, even though some are unbanded and we have no idea what they are.

This one, the Partagas Serie E No. 2, we could tell. It did have a split wrapper near the foot but in the end, this seemed to have little effect. It smoked very well, kicking off with an immediate and lovely note of cream and toffee. Some spices and then it moved to more earthy and eventually slightly mushroomy notes. Finally, a hint of caramel. So certainly a cigar with plenty of evolution throughout. Good complexity. Very pleasing soft smoke. There were also some notes of espresso in the latter parts though at times, this verged on a slightly stale coffee character, which was not positive. But overall, the flavours are very appealing.

Most notable feature was that it smoked extremely slowly. Closer to three hours, than two. Ideal for watching the Ashes (that would be the cricket Ashes, not the cigar’s ashes). For me, I thoroughly enjoyed it (both the Ashes and the cigar). 91.

For the technically minded, 5 ½ inches with a ring gauge of 54, making it the fattest of all the Partagas range, I believe. So, bigger than I like but one tries to overcome. I understand that it was included in the alphabet soup of Partagas cigars in 2011, introduced at the XIIIth Havana Festival. A worthwhile addition. Boxes are five and 25.

The tobacco used is sourced from the famous Vuelta Abajo region.

Drinks? I did pick up a bottle of Cognac, given some of the recent chatter on the forum but then I thought, no, something left field and something really good (not to say the Cognac would not have been but perhaps another time). So, the Chalmers Appassimento 2017 and a cracking Japanese whisky, the Yamazaki 12-Year-Old.

The Chalmers Appassimento 2017 is a dessert style wine which comes in half bottles ($48). From the Lambrusco grape (Lambrusco Maestri) grown at Merbein. The grapes are sun-dried on traditional sultana racks before being made into wine. Naturally, this tends to desiccate them and apparently, there are 1.5 kgs of grapes in every half bottle. It may work better with a good cheese or dark chocolate but it was not bad with this cigar. It had chocolate and aniseed flavours, a hint of green leaf and herbs. Lovely supple texture. I liked the palate more than the nose. Plenty of sweetness but it was nicely balanced. 88.

Next, the Yamazaki 12-Year-Old. Honey, cinnamon, peaches, hints of toffee. A wonderfully complex malt. Great stuff. A hint of white chocolate. A good spirity note, with a touch of fire, but balanced, smooth and very long. A really superb malt and a cracking match. That little note of honey in both the cigar and the whisky really tied them together well. 96+.

I did run into a couple of issues when I pulled this out. It was a bottle I have had in the back of the cupboard for quite a while, just as well. When a friend saw it, his immediate reaction was, ‘no, don’t just open it to drink it. Too expensive’.

This reluctance was because of both the shortage of top Japanese whiskies at the moment and the huge prices that come with them. I don’t buy with the intention of reselling, so I have no idea what he thought I was going to do with it, if not drink it. Perhaps he felt the occasion not special enough. Then again, this sort of whisky and a good cigar, make any occasion a bit special. Given that it was an older bottle, purchased a while back, I have no doubt I paid far less, far far less, than the A$350 they want today.

The next issue I had was when I started to look up some info on it. There were numerous references to it being discontinued. Which would make this a bit moot. Many top Japanese whiskies have been discontinued, thanks to shortages from the worldwide demand. Non-age-statement whiskies have become much more common as, despite the construction of numerous new distilleries, Japan doesn’t have the necessary aged material and won’t for many years.

If you think there is a problem now, in less than two weeks (time of writing), the Rugby World Cup kicks off in Japan, bringing with it a great many well-heeled visitors who are expecting to drink and buy the best Japanese whiskies. I've got mates who are more excited about the whisky tastings they think they have arranged than the games (well, you would be too, if you were a Wallaby fan). Even worse, next year Tokyo hosts the Olympics. Stock up soon or say goodbye for many years.

But I digress. The good news is that all information suggests that the Yamazaki 12-Year-Old has not been discontinued, but of course, that does not mean it will not in the near future. And as pleasant as the Chalmers was, the Yamazaki was the preferred match. A stunner.


Cohiba Robusto - Equipo Navazos ‘La Bota de Ron, Number 65’

Cohiba Robusto - Equipo Navazos ‘La Bota de Ron, Number 65’

Ramon Allones Regional Release ‘La Palmira’ Arab Emirates 2016 - Blanton’s Single Barrel Special Reserve Bourbon - Rymill ‘June Traminer (Botrytis Gewurztraminer) 2013 (half).

Ramon Allones Regional Release ‘La Palmira’ Arab Emirates 2016 - Blanton’s Single Barrel Special Reserve Bourbon - Rymill ‘June Traminer (Botrytis Gewurztraminer) 2013 (half).