Saturday, 29 September 2012

The Future of Cigar Smoking is in Safe Hands

Hey Guy! Just a few words to say thanks for the superb service last week. I don't know a huge amount about the finer details on cigars with all that hint of almonds and a whisper of chocolate rubbish, I just know what I like and Paul really helped me choose from the hundreds of fine cigars on display. The welcoming and fun approach you have to selling cigars and the distinct lack of condescension was very refreshing and made me feel very confident in my purchases. I bought a few of those beautiful Zino Barrel cigars, lovely big smoke for a special occasion with its easy draw and super smooth taste they are hard to beat when I have an hour to chill out. I also took a few of your special hand rolled Cubans which have to be my number one go-to-cigar now, a superb taste and easy to enjoy smoke especially in the robusto and flying pig sizes.

So thanks again for bringing cigars to people like me that don't like risking our hard earned cash on the chance of a cigar that does not suit. I'll be back next month to get something special to put away for my newborn son's 21st (rolled on his birth month hopefully). As you can see from the photo he is keen to see what all the fuss is about!

by Alex Tucker (Adventure Branding)

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Ireland's The Wild Geese fly by James Leavey

Mr Guy Hancock, Ireland's tobacco ambassador, and I were enjoying a hoolie with a few nicotine companions in my favourite smokers' den in Dublin.

In between the reeling and whooping and renditions of 'Up Went Nelson', we considered, loudly, the best beverages to gargle while inhaling a fine cigar.

'As you know, Mr H,' I yelled, to the accompaniment of The Dubliners' lively version of  Whiskey in the Jar, 'it all depends on the cigar you're smoking.  What works well with a light Havana would probably be wasted on a medium-bodied Nicaraguan tube of premium hand-rolled tobacco, such as The Grafton corona.  And, of course, a full-bodied cigar requires a full-bodied drink, preferably a single malt, cognac, or very fine aged rum, to keep the balance and not get lost in the process.

'Now, can somebody turn that fucking noise down so we can enjoy the craic in peace!'

The music was lowered, Mr H nodded agreement, sipped a dram, and fell off his stool.

'That's grand, James,' he muttered, from the safety of the smokeasy floor.

Lifting him up, in every sense of the word, I added, 'But there are some whiskies that I choose before I decide which cigar to smoke with them.'

'Jaysus,' said Mr H, now ensconced in his proper chair, 'that's the highest praise a man can give to any drink.'

We all raised our eyes and glasses to Heaven and clinked glasses: 'Slainte! May you get to Heaven a full half hour before the devil knows you're dead.'

Then I got back to the remembering. 'One of the best presents I ever received flattened the cat on the Fuck Off Non-Smokers mat just before last Christmas,' I said, wiping a tear from my eyes.

'It was a box containing the four bottles that comprises The Wild Geese Irish whiskey collection,

'You know me, I'm a lover of Scotland's single malt whisky and although I have tried many other whiskies around the world, I've rarely found one to match the finest Scottish malt – until now.'

Mr H sat up, reached for his lighter and reignited his Nicaraguan robusto then uttered one of those words guaranteed to tick a box in the minds of cognoscenti and anyone else brought, rather than dragged, up: 'Really!' 

He then sipped another drop from his half empty glass, and sat back, ears and eyes ready for the off.

'The first bottle I tried was the Classic Blend, which lived up to its name. It was sweet and light and delicate and not over-honeyed, somewhat like lying in a field of wild flowers and clover on a hot summer's day, enjoying the heady scent and listening the bees.

'I then gave the Rare Irish  a twirl round my tonsils and it was so smooth and perfectly balanced, with a touch of citrus and the teeniest taste of honey and lasted so long and so lovely, I almost died with delight. It was a beautiful rare whiskey, indeed, and worth waiting a lifetime for.'

'God save us,' muttered Mr H, his mouth watering. The rest of our companions were also drooling and licking their lips.

'The third bottle's description, Single Malt, set the old bullshit-alarm tingling, until I took my first luscious sip.  Clean, smooth, subtle, summery, rich, well balanced and a body that is whisky's equivalent to Elle Macpherson – who, I must admit, I wouldn't mind sampling, given the opportunity (please, God,  just the once and I'll be a good boy for the rest of my unnatural life).

'Finally came the turn of the Limited Edition, which like its three siblings was one of the nicest and most perfectly balanced Irish whiskies I have ever tasted,  but, like them, with its own distinct character.  Smooth, sweet then spicy, light and stunning.  The problem I had was not to drink all four bottles in one mad go.  But then, if I had, I would have missed so many delightful hours of pleasure.'

Mr H rose, staggered to the whisky cabinet and grabbed all four bottles of The Wild Geese, which he had  hidden away, and said, ashamedly, 'I can't stand it any more. Help me open and pour these, James.'

'Righto, Mr H,' I replied, grabbing a tray-load of virgin glasses, rapidly distributing them to all the cigar companions present before yer man changed his mind and disappeared into the night with his treasure trove.  'Happy days.'

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Talk to the ashtray by James Leavey

I was twiddling my Nicaraguan corona over a cup of Gold Blend tea in Bewley's Grafton Street, thinking of this, that,  but mostly the other, when the first anti-smoking idiot of the day rolled up.

'Stop that, immediately!' he cried.  'You cannot smoke here.'

'If you used your eyes and what's left of your underdeveloped brain before you opened your ignorant gob you'd remember there's no law against unlit tobacco, even in this famous tea-room,' I growled. 

'Besides, it's nice thoughtful smokers like me who keep puritanical twats like you in clover with our taxes.'

The idiot's ugly mug boiled over and he muttered, 'Just wait until 2015, when we ban the whole lot of you in Ireland.'

'Yeah, well, we shall see what we shall see. Until then, talk to the ashtray.  Now fuck off, you pompous uneducated prick.'

I know, I was much too subtle. 

So I underlined my perfectly reasonable point of view with a suggestive vertical jolt of my cigar and resisted the temptation to shove it up the idiot's arse. In the grand old days I would have offered to put sand in his Vaseline to help the stogie on it's way. For that's what the likes of him deserved.

Bored of bumping into beastly bastards, I decided to take a break from Dublin's unfair city (for smokers, that is) for the literary and seaside delights of Sandycove,  topping up my travel humidor at the Decent Cigar Emporium, en route.

The James Joyce Museum & Tower was open. I stepped inside and asked the friendly curator if I could take another sniff of the great writer's favourite leather cigar case.  

He'd first allowed me to do this a few years ago when I was filming BBC2 Horizon's documentary, 'We Love Cigarettes'.

The curator nodded and even let me slide my cigar inside Joyce's cigar case again.

Then I took myself and the anointed tube of fine tobacco outside and lit up, hoping Joyce's genius would rub off on my scribblings.

Fat chance.

'Jaysus, Mary and Joseph, the Great Man and all the other genius Irish writers and dramatists must be twirling in their graves at the very idea of the Elf & Safety boggarts taking over the world and turning it into an unused ashtray,' I thought.

Then  I took another reflective puff on my premium stick of fine Nicaraguan tobacco, 'It's not over till it's over. And while there are people like Mr Guy Hancock selling excellent cigars like this, there's hope.'