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

Travels to Orcland – Diplomatico No 2/Moa Festive IPA, Red Edition, Limited Release

Travels to Orcland – Diplomatico No 2/Moa Festive IPA, Red Edition, Limited Release

For some unfathomable reason, I do love travelling. The divinities-that-be obviously love me travelling as well, because that means they can have endless fun at my expense.

A few months back, the Lions rugby tour to New Zealand was on. A great event.

Anyway, I was looking forward to spending time amongst the vineyards and wineries of Hawkes Bay in the Land of the Long Sad Whinge. And apparently there was some rugby game in Wellington we planned on ducking in to see. Was originally told it was me and two wine-writing mates going with this particular winery (surprised, as there had been an ‘incident’ on the last trip with these guys a long while ago – completely not my fault and such was my indignation at the said ‘incident’, that I even received a call from the Chairman of one of our very biggest banks to apologise – long story, but I thought the black line might have been drawn though an innocent name – mine). Anyway, turns out my mail was a smidge incorrect and one of the two guys was not invited (well, it is hardly my fault if they told me the wrong bloke) but, after I rang to chat about the forthcoming trip, he then knew he wasn’t. I thought we’d catch up for a drink when we landed in Orcland. Apparently not.

No matter. Got on to the Stumbling Wombat a month before the flight and arranged the best seats I could (I have done enough of these trips to have lifetime Gold status so am supposed to be able to do that). Was checking something else on the site the day before departure and discovered that the Stumbling Wombat had deleted the seat allocations and now I was jammed into some sardine-like spot, no doubt surrounded by ferals. And when I attempted to discuss this with said Wombat, I got attitude. Which really annoyed me as I had the agents change the first booking from Virgin to the Wombat. Not happy, Jan. Never again.

Set the alarms for 4am – flights and fishing, there is no other reason to get up at such an unholy hour. All packed and the taxi zips me out to the airport. Turns out to be an Emirates code share – karma for all my good deeds – and I ask about the seating. The wonderful girl immediately gives me the exit row and not only that, the one with so much room in front, I could not touch anything if I swan-dived forward from the seat! Woohoo.

So, Emirates – delightful girl who could not be more helpful and who gives me a brilliant seat. The Wombat – stuffs up things and then gives me lip.

I get to go to the Emirates lounge (after I went off and spent a horrendous amount on three duty free bottles – the Yamazaki 12, Laphroaig ‘1815 Legacy’ and a Mt Gay 1703, hoping that I would remember to collect them on the way home)! So, I settle in and start talking to a bunch of gents all in their Lions gear. They have flown from Dublin via Dubai to Brizzy, sans any decent stopover (read, rest from drinking) and are heading on. And they have been enjoying themselves. They insist I join them for G&Ts. It is just after 6am, but what the hell…

Soon, they are telling extremely off-colour and very funny jokes (anyone from Wexford?) in really loud Irish voices and we are all in stitches. Next thing, they are being warned that they will not be allowed on the plane. They find this exceptionally unfair and say so. Time for me to slip away. Flight called soon after. I’m hoping they made it, but I never saw them again, on the plane or in Orcland (but I did run into them in Wellington, so all was well).

Flight not too bad, though I did have the joy of watching two blokes who had moved seats, away from their wives, spend most of the flight trying to pick up two stewardesses, while trying to convince said stewardesses that they were not the sort of blokes who would do that sort of thing. Never seen stewardesses yawn more often (and from a little glimpse of some unauthorised stewardess handholding, I suspect that the guys really were on Mission Impossible).

Always a joy to arrive in Orcland. Ages to get off the plane. No idea why. Then we have to line up to be sniffed by dogs. Then we have to line up to stick our passports in the new machines designed to make things much quicker. Stop laughing. Takes ages. Get there. Does it work? Fat chance. Off to the “Assistance Desk”. So, I join a long queue. Eventually, we are then told we should line up behind other desks. We do. So the assistance desk is to tell you that you will get assistance elsewhere? After a while, it suddenly dawns on the people up the front of the queue that they have lined up behind some bloke who is simply filling out his forms and not at a manned desk. Special. So, we move to new queues. Starts improving. Lines moving through. And then the bloke in front of me…

For reasons unknown, he and the customs woman at the desk become BFFs and talk. And talk. And talk. Seriously? Sure enough, I am the last person to get through. She has no idea why the machine rejected me, but this is New Zealand. Down to baggage and eventually I manage to collect mine (which, no matter whatever else happens, I always think means a win for the white hats). There are about five different “lines”. I am in “Aust/New Zealand Nothing to Declare” line. We are divided up like cows down shutes at the abattoir. We walk about 80 metres even though the bit where you exit is all of 15 metres away, but no way would anyone just channel people there. Oh no. 80 metres down the shute, do the turn and 65 metres back up the shute, whereupon we are all spat out into a jumble. So, the different queues meant nothing at all. I am questioned extensively but sent down the “Green Lane”, which I believe means all good and go away.

Not quite.

One more dog wants to sniff me. And this braindead pooch decides I might be a notorious drug dealer. So, it is off for the gear search. My very friendly security person tries to take my files out of my bag and all the contents spread forth. All over the floor. Such fun. Eventually, after he can’t find anything and I suggest that they invest in a better quality of canine, I am spat out of the system.

The hotel is all of 25 metres away from the exit (we have to be back at around 6am tomorrow morning for another domestic flight) so I have not progressed far. Going to try and catch up with a mate from Brizzy who moved to New Zealand for the fishing about 25 years ago that evening. I can always sleep at the winery.

In the end, that proves too difficult, but I do manage a cigar. And when in Rome. So, a Diplomatico No 2 and matched it with one of my fave Kiwi beers, Moa. On this occasion, the Moa Festive IPA, Red Edition, Limited Release. Yeasts, hops and all are American. Cracking cigar beer. Malt driven. Nice caramelly notes and even a little citrussy touch, some pineapple and passionfruit. Good bitter finish. The cigar was also excellent. Some sweet, summery, citrusy fruits and a touch of raspberry (not something I think I have encountered before in a cigar). I find these Dip 2s reasonably mild.

Together, they worked beautifully. An exemplary match. Really good. Why on earth we slog along trying to combine cigars with red wine (no names but I’m looking at you, Whipcrack), is beyond me.


Por Larranaga Petit Corona/Ron Caney ‘Anejo Centuria’

Por Larranaga Petit Corona/Ron Caney ‘Anejo Centuria’

Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No 2/Wynn’s Single Vineyard ‘Johnson’s Block’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014/Rubbel Sexy Lager

Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No 2/Wynn’s Single Vineyard ‘Johnson’s Block’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014/Rubbel Sexy Lager