Driving in my Car, Smoking my Cigar

February 22, 2012 · Posted in Cigar 101, Deep Thoughts · 2 Comments 

Allison Krauss’s haunting voice is singing Trampled Rose, the windows are down and the speed of my car is increasing. It may be sunset but this is Southern California where the yins and the yangs are extreme opposites. Sure, the taxes are murder but the weather is amazing.

If I lived in Minnesota or some other place that is in the running for a scenic “White Christmas” photograph I couldn’t do what I do most days after work: smoke in my car. It may be a little impractical and I definitely am not getting the best out of the cigar but that misses the point. Smoking a cigar on my drive home from work is pleasurable; a ritual that brings a little bit of joy to my heart.

This certainly isn’t for everyone. If you have a nice car that you do not want to despoil or you have to chauffeur people who cringe at the mere thought of the smell of finely aged tobacco then you probably shouldn’t be smoking in your car. People with short commutes, an inability to multitask and those who “feel a need for speed” may also want to think twice about lighting a cigar before they start their car. Oh, and those poor bastards who start their mornings by scraping ice off their windshields may also be excused from smoking a cigar in their car.

I’m not going to BS you and say that I’m smoking great cigars while driving, far from it. There’s no reason to do that because your mind should be at least nominally on the road and not on your cigar. Why smoke an Opus or an Avion 11 when you can’t dedicate more of yourself to it? It just doesn’t make sense emotionally or financially.

By no means am I suggesting seeking out crappy cigars to satiate your vehicular smoking habit because there are some very respectable cigars that are very cheap. Recently I’ve been smoking a lot of Diesel Unholy Cocktails, Nestor Miranda 1989s and Joya de Nicaragua Antano Machitos on rides home from work (and while walking the dogs, but that’s another story). These are solid cigars that are a joy to smoke sitting at home while listening to music or reading a book. They are also strong enough to withstand the elements.

Even though this is Southern California and the weather is great it can still get a little cold. Some nights it feels like the temperature drops all the way down to the high 50s when I have my windows rolled down! Weak, pathetic cigars won’t offer much under ideal circumstances but when you add in the wind, the (relatively) cold temperatures and the fact that you are driving a vehicle they just aren’t worth the trouble. By all means, if you accidentally came by some really awful cigars that you dread smoking then you can smoke them while driving or, better yet, “gift” them to somebody you don’t like.

Another tip I have for this would be to smoke a cigar that you are familiar with. Familiarity is great in this circumstance because you won’t have to devote much brainpower to deciphering the flavors of the cigar; you already know the recipe. It’s also a good idea to smoke cigars with good smoking characteristics: i.e. a good draw and burn. It takes a modicum of skill to correct a recalcitrant burn line while cruising down the 5. (Alright, it takes more than a little skill to do that and doing just that almost ended up with me rear ending somebody. Incidentally, the smell of burnt rubber doesn’t go well with cigars.)

Driving in my car while smoking a cigar is a ritual I have come to really enjoy. It may not be for you but, then again, you may find out that you really like it.

Tatuaje Avion 11 Cigar Review

January 18, 2012 · Posted in Cigar Review · 5 Comments 

The Tatuaje Avion 11 is a perfecto shaped cigar, which means it’s tapered on both ends. Chances are if you are looking for the Tatuaje Avion 11 in a search and happened upon this review you already know that, but I just wanted to make sure.

As the special edition Tatuaje Fausto for 2011, this cigar is a looker. And it tastes really good too, even better than the normal Fausto line, which still managed to place very well in my recently (and tardily) published Top 10 Cigars 2011 list.

Solidly and evenly packed. It does look like it got a little smashed (don’t look at me, Tatuaje did this on purpose since it is a box pressed cigar after all) but no bother, it’s not like it’s smashed like a pancake. The wrapper is a dark mahogany brown color webbed with insignificant veins. While it’s oily to the touch what really gets to me is the smell. It’s one of those cigar smells that is the equivalent to that Dirty Harry (paraphrased) line: “Do you feel lucky, punk?” Just the smell of it is aggressive.

Cigar Stats
Length: 6 ¾″
Ring Gauge: 48/52
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Maduro
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Price: $45.00/Box of 5 | $180.00/Box of 20

Game of Thrones Flame!

I’ve smoked a number of these so far and the only reason I have yet to do a review for one is because I just enjoy smoking them too much. This one is no different.

Sure, it’s a very strong cigar; definitely in the upper echelon of strong cigars. But that isn’t what I’m getting from it. To me, the Avion 11 is this full throttle study in spice, leather, oak, mesquite and very old tobacco flavors. It’s like a flamethrower of flavor enveloping my tongue’s taste buds. The retrohale is also very enjoyable.

During the second third the flavor profile transitions into being more of an oak and dry earth mix. Sure, spice and leather are still strong flavors but, with this cigar, they are relegated to being merely excellent backup flavors.

Besides the flavors being truly amazing this cigar’s smoking characteristics are exceptional. Every one of these I’ve smoked (this one is the seventh) has had an absolutely perfect draw and the burn line progress at a steady and even pace.

A couple of days ago I was watching Clubhouse Confidential, which is a baseball show that focuses on statistical analysis, and a question was posed. The gist of this question was, “What if there’s a player who was near the top for statistical ratings for eight or so years but since he played for twenty years his average statistics weren’t all that brilliant, should this player merit consideration for the Hall of Fame?” This question popped into my head again as I was progressing through the final third of the Avion 11.

It’s not as if the final third is bad. No, it’s much better than that, but it just is not quite as good as the first two thirds. The flavors have turned towards singed hay, earth and spice, which has come on exceptionally strong during this third.

From my point of view, the final third doesn’t mitigate my enjoyment of this cigar. I don’t think, in this situation at least, that what is a truly exceptional cigar should receive any demerits for lasting too long. What is the alternative? If they had made this cigar shorter the flavors during the first two thirds would be different and probably not for the better. It’s just that by itself the final third would not be Hall of Fame worthy. However, taken in its totality, this cigar is definitely Hall of Fame worthy. If anything, the final third should be considered as a highly deserved victory lap for an excellent cigar.

So, what am I to do? This cigar is not perfect and since I have been lauding this cigar from the beginning you would be right to surmise that I think this cigar is one of the best that I have ever had the pleasure of smoking. At the risk of being overly enthusiastic about this cigar I cannot do anything other than give this cigar an extremely high, and well deserved, rating.

98 points

PS: I feel I need to elaborate a little on why I did not weigh the final third as much as I did the first two thirds. If I had stopped smoking this cigar after the first two thirds, to be honest, it was a little bit into the final third when I noticed the differences in the flavors most fully, this cigar would have earned 99 points. It’s not a perfect cigar in my mind, the strength is a bit too much, even during the first two thirds, and can have the effect of lessening the impact of the flavors if you aren’t completely concentrating on the cigar.

During the throes of the final third the strength overpowers the flavors a little bit more. In my opinion, if the final third were to be segregated and given its own rating, that would make this a 94-95 point cigar. Still excellent but just not as excellent as the whole cigar is.

The reason why I am treating this cigar differently than other cigars is because the first two thirds were so extraordinarily good and it is those first two thirds (probably more like three quarters or four fifths) that has lead me to downplay the ending. It may sound trivial but I think there is a world of difference between a 98 point cigar and a 97 point cigar, which is what I’d given this cigar if I simply averaged the scores out.

Well, that’s enough babbling on for me. If you want a more sober review of this cigar head on over to Tiki Bar’s excellent review.

PPS: The picture on the band is a flying cigar.