KENTUCKYS BOURBON NECTAR!

I have always enjoyed bourbon. There’s something unique and comforting about having a glass or two of the ultra-smooth and supple elixir that reigns from Kentucky. I have picked out my favourites here, not only are they outstanding quality but also fantastic value too!

So, what exactly is bourbon you may ask?

Bourbon whiskey must be made from a grain mixture which is at least 51% corn. The fermentation process for this mixture is often started by mixing in some mash from an older already fermenting batch, a process known as sour mash. Much like how Scotch must be made in Scotland, Bourbon can only be labelled as Bourbon if it was made in the United States. While the rules are slightly looser with Bourbon than with Scotch it still has to conform to a few requirements.

The spirit must be distilled to no more than 80% alcohol (160 proof) and be no more than 62.5% when put into casks for aging in new charred oak barrels. Finally, Bourbon has no minimum aging period, but to call your product Straight Bourbon it must be aged for no less than two years (and can have no added colouring, flavour or other spirits added).

Blended bourbon is permitted to contain colouring, flavouring and other spirits, as long as 51% of the mix is straight bourbon. The age on the bottle of blended bourbon must be the age of the youngest whiskey in the mix.

The first two in the running are the incredible BLANTONS Original Barrel and the BLANTONS Gold Edition!

Blantons Original Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey – 70cl 46.5%
Taken from the centre-cut or middle sections of the famous Warehouse H, Blanton’s Original was once designated for ambassadors, dignitaries, and Colonel Blanton’s family and friends. Today, everyone has access to the world’s first single barrel bourbon.

The taste profile is sweet with citrus and oak. A creamy vanilla nose features hints of nuts, caramel, orange and light chocolate. Blanton’s Original set the standard for single barrel bourbons. Best served neat or on the rocks. 46.5% alcohol by volume.

Tasting Notes

Nose: A spicy aroma of Dried Citrus and Orange Peels with a hint of Caramel and Vanilla.
Palate: Full and soft, marked by a mix of Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Orange, and Cloves.
Finish: A muted finish but also well balanced with vanilla, honey and citrus.
Best Served: Straight, on ice, or used in a premium cocktail.

Blantons Gold Edition Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey – 70cl 51.5%

Undoubtedly one of the greatest bourbons around, Blanton’s Gold Edition was created for discerning connoisseurs who appreciate an exceptional bourbon.

Hand-bottled from the best casks at the distillery, this bourbon whisky is profoundly full-flavoured. Best served neat or with a splash of water. Bottled at 51.5% alcohol by volume.

Tasting Notes

Colour: Dark amber.
Nose: An oaky dry nose yet powerful. There is noticeably plenty of fruit although mainly dried with chewy peels and floral notes with a kick of spice. Honey, rye, vanilla and chocolate.
Palate: Fairly complex but enjoyable with top notes and chewy oak. Dark stone fruits, honey, butter, oak, deep spices, peppy and rich.
Finish: A long finish with toffee and apple which develops on pecan and caramel.
Best Served: Straight

Another top favourite of mine is this rich and intense nectar from BAKERS!

Bakers Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey – 70cl 53.5%

A powerful Small-Batch Bourbon Whiskey which utilises a special kind of yeast for extra smoothness. Named after the grandnephew of Jim Beam, Baker Beam, this is a well-aged Small-Batch Bourbon which makes use of a special strain of yeast which the Beam family have made use of for over 60 years. Described as rich and intense, this Bourbon makes for the perfect substitute for an after-dinner Cognac.

Tasting Notes

Nose: A full and fruity nose with rich hints of caramel and toffee as warning spices rounds the nose off.
Palate: Nutty with plenty of tangy citrus fruits with more spice and a gentle vanilla, rounded off by char.
Finish: Rounded and of good length – warming with a delicious sweetness with coffee.

Now this is a bourbon definitely worth trying! Silky smooth, complex and a true masterpiece of great Kentucky elixir and such a cool bottle too!

Willets Pot Still Bourbon Whisky – 70cl, 47%

Smartly packaged in an unusual yet smart potstill-shaped bottle, this small batch Willet’s Pot Still Reserve single barrel bourbon is made by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, home of Noah’s Mill, Rowan’s Creek, Johnny Drum & Old Bardstown.

Tasting Notes

Firstly, there is a noticeable floral element with a rich nose of corn, leather, tobacco with just a hint of tobacco. Warm rye and a dab of oak also feature.

A subtle heat and lack of an after-bite on the finish combine to make this Willet Pot Still reserve, one of the smoothest bourbons around.

Smartly packaged in an unusual yet smart potstill-shaped bottle, this small batch Willet’s Pot Still Reserve single barrel bourbon is made by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, home of Noah’s Mill, Rowan’s Creek, Johnny Drum & Old Bardstown.

I hope these great Bourbons have inspired you to try something really special and to appreciate what the true taste of the Wild West has to offer. 🇺🇸

 

Slainte

Pete

Dantes available in the UK… at last!

C8-pMwMXUAAiAvIGood morning from sunny London! Well at least it was perfect cigar herfing weather over the weekend with London getting up to 24C. That may explain the mad uplift in cigar sales last week :) (Thank you lovely C.Gars and Turmeaus clients). Nothing wrong with a little al fresco herfing that’s for sure.

My crazy travel schedule ended (for a few months at least) last week and I was back to driving to the office topless on Thursday and Friday :)

My travels took me to Pennsylvania to visit our friends at Cigars International in Bethlehem where we are having a lot of fun working on some very cool projects together and then on to beautiful Chicago (unseasonable but very nice weather too) where I enjoyed hosting a few Pre Embargo Havana cigar tasting events at The Clayton.

We had a fine crowd of cigar aficionados at the sold out events and enjoyed some rather incredible 1930‘s Partagas and Romeo y Julieta cigars . Amazing how perfect storage can ensure that cigars of this age are still a ‘smoke’. The cigar shop at The Clayton really is cool, the design of the humidor is very modern and the range of premium cigars is just perfect. Knowledgeable staff (Dennis and Israel) make this an all-round perfect experience for the novice or experienced cigar smoker.

New York was the last stop on the US trip and some serious herfing activity was enjoyed at GHR, Carnegie Club and Bar & Books. Again, we had rather lovely weather so it was a perfect finish to the trip.

I was back just about long enough to sign off our new mobile friendly website (all comments welcomed) and then head off to France/Spain for a few days. It’s great to be home again and have no flights till the Summer time as I now focus on putting the finishing touches on the second phase of our Liverpool expansion due to open next month. More details to follow later this month.

The 2016 (yes, I know its 2017 now!) Limited Edition Montecristo Dantes was finally released a few days ago, measuring in at 6 5/8” Length and 48 ring gauge and presented in boxes of 10 cigars.

This cigar looks like a winner to me. It’s a great blend and well-constructed. The wrappers are a beauty to behold and I reckon this may become a super popular cigar for smoking and investment, much like the Montecristo Sublimes Limited Edition was/is.

The new packaging laws I believe come into effect on May 20th so if you like your tobacco packaging as it is now, you may want to stock up as its all changing. As a result of the new legislation a lot of tobacco products will no longer be made for the UK market as its not cost effective for the manufacturers to do so.

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We have tried to make this easier for our clients to understand by showing products as ‘(discontinued)’ on our website and genuinely , I’m afraid, when they’re gone… they are indeed gone. Find them all here.

Premium cigars will all have different health warnings to now and the new packaging is already coming through. Not too massive a change except for small boutique brands such as Inka- Secret Blend and others where the costs of new packaging become a bit of a pain but hey ho, it is what it is. Our best-selling New World range of Secret Blend will survive the changes and continue no doubt to be the most popular New World cigar in our vast range.

The recent Budget and manufacturers price increases (in a part due to the weakness of Sterling) ensured the cigar smoker was whacked with a pretty hefty price increase on all tobacco products. I reckon around 8% as a mean average. We kept our price increases as tight as possible and as ever guarantee best value in the UK. With over 8000 products in our range we may get it wrong once in a while! But… we will always price match :)

I popped out for a spot of al fresco lunch last Thursday to Boisdale Mayfair (it’s the closest Boisdale to my office!) I have been here a few times since its opened and I can’t praise it enough. Great food, wine service and a comfortable smoking terrace.

Our pipe and pipe tobacco department seem to be busier than ever and adding more products by the day. There is a huge range of Peterson Pipes and I am reliably assured by my team that our prices are the best in the UK.

I reckon we also have one of the largest snuff ranges in the UK just a massive choice. I’m not a regular snuff user though I do enjoy it when I’m on a plane.

In the booze department, we have just added the rather magnificent Louis XIII which is available at Turmeaus Liverpool, Chester and Knutsford and added quite a few rare whiskies as well. All available for next day delivery :)

I’m working on our next cigar auction for the next few weeks and as ever putting together a fine catalogue of aged and rare Havana cigars to be knocked down online on the 11th June.

Have a smokey week.

Peaceful puffing.

Mitchell

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MOTHERS DAY DELIGHTFUL TREATS!

As Mothering Sunday is nearly upon us I couldn’t think of anything nicer than giving some reviews on some blissful gin tipples! I am a big fan of anything that tastes of raspberries and I was excited to be presented with a sample of this wonderfully infused botanical and raspberry gin.

Pinkster Raspberry Gin 37.5%

Pinkster Gin all came about when founder Stephen realised wine and beer no longer agreed with him. A keen maker of sloe liqueurs and other concoctions, he turned his attention to spirits and started experimenting at home, mashing assorted fruits with different spirit strengths. It wasn’t his intention to create a pink drink, it’s just that after working his way through an entire fruit bowl, raspberry delivered the best flavour. G&J Distillers, one of the world’s oldest gin distilleries, was recruited to the cause. They produce the core spirit with five botanicals to the original stunning recipe.This is then macerated with a further three botanicals, including fresh raspberries grown locally to our rural base outside Cambridge.

Nose: Slight hint of orange peels with a subtle aroma of unsurprisingly, raspberries coming through.
Palate: Yet more fruit, in the background is a hint of pepper with vanilla. Raspberry of course the focal point.
Finish: Raspberries and a grassy hint of water mint.

Another unique and equally appealing gin is the Eden Mill Love Gin 42%  Bursting with exotic fruit botanicals and crafted at St Andrews in Scotland and bottled in this cool earthenware swing top bottle. Love Gin brings together an outstanding blend of local botanicals and infusion of exotic fruits. One-to-one research shows that it works well in the company of a very close friend but it’s a sociable elixir too. Enjoy with premium tonic water or a quality prosecco.

Soft subtle juniper on the nose with a touch of warm, spiced berries – strawberry and raspberry. Sweet vanilla and green fruits – green apples and pears then come into play as the gin finishes with a delicate citrus pink grapefruit and a drop of rose water at the very end.

If you’re looking for a gin gift set to give on Mother’s Day then this Whitley Neill Gin Gift Pack 70cl with signature glass will certainly please!
A London Dry Gin made with African botanicals including extracts from the Baobab Tree (known as the Tree of Life) and Cape Gooseberry to give it an even more exotic feel than other gins. It’s made in a one-hundred-year-old copper pot still! There is also a stronger version at 48%. This stunning Whitley Neill Gin comes with a ‘Whitley Neill’ branded glass and 70cl bottle, both presented in a fantastic Whitley Neill presented box.

Nose: Smooth and balanced is the overriding impression. Green pine is restrained. Subtle citrus, fruit and earthy notes are delicate, and suggest a lighter style of gin.
Palate: Juniper is restrained too on the palate as the balance between all elements is a success here. Relatively sweet for a ‘dry’ gin, fruity and floral notes shine throughout.
Finish: Just enough coriander spice and a perky hit of orange peel on the finish lift things and maintain interest.

Slainte,

Pete

New Cigars… At Last!

I was hoping to update my blog after my return from the Festival del Habanos but I seemed to acquire the dreaded Cuban bug/virus on the Upper Class cabin on the return journey which has knocked me out for the last 10 days so I’m a tad behind everything including my weekly blog.

This was the 19th Festival and I reckon I have attended all but the first one. Havana has an amazing buzz around the Festival time of year and seems to be packed with a who’s who of the cigar trade so it’s a great opportunity for me to meet up with clients and cigar specialists from all over the world, as well as attend the trade fair and the gala dinner event.

New cigars are introduced at the festival as the norm, though it can take months or years or never till they are actually released to the trade and, by extension, our clients. This always seemed odd to me as I would have thought with such a captive audience the cigars would be released immediately after the Festival and distributors would be waiting with their order pads!

This year was no disappointment with the introduction of the re-imaged Quai d’Orsay brand, the new Montecristo Linea 1935 range and The H. Upmann Sir Winston Gran Reserva.

The Montecristo Linea 1935 cigars sport a very smart new band design as well as a foot band and will be made in the following sizes:

Leyenda: 6 1/2” length by 55 ring gauge.
Maltes: 6” length by 53 ring gauge.
Duma: 5 1/8” length by 49 ring gauge.

We were given a very lovely gift case containing one of each cigar and having smoked them all I can say, I’m very excited to get these into our shop humidors (some time in the future!). The blend was splendid, the wrappers were beautiful and the construction was perfect.

But what of the H. Upmann Gran Reserva? Well it was the star of the Festival as far as I’m concerned, a truly magnificent cigar and having had 100’s of clients emailing me to ask when they will be available I’m afraid the answer is… there is no answer. Bearing in mind we are still waiting for the release of the Romeo Wide Churchill Gran Reserva from 2 years ago, so it’s kinda hard to get over excited at this stage.

The Gala dinner event was possibly the best I have attended over the last 18 years, I had a great table which included my assistant Roy Price from C.Gars (North) on one side of me and my friend Edward Sahakian from Davidoff on the other side. Edward was nominated for and won the Habanos retailer of their year award and it was very well deserved. (Congrats Edward!) Also on our table was Jemma Freeman from H&F, Stuart Fox from JJ Fox and Laurence Davis from Sautter.

The entertainment was great (a tad too loud as ever!) and the service was brilliant. The charity auction featured some of the most beautiful humidors I have ever seen and auctioneer Gary Heathcote did a marvellous job of bringing in some 1.265 million Euros for the Cuban National Health service.

Cuba is certainly changing in some ways such as loads more tourists, quite a few decent restaurants and bars but the prices are also changing and in fact I can never remember it being more expensive. I was lucky on this trip as the weather was generally very nice so every day Roy and I met up early (before it was too hot) and went for a 10km power walk all round the back streets of Havana. Clearly Havanas roads and building are still collapsing and decrepit which is such a shame as the city is in places so beautiful and I can only hope one day will be restored to its former glory.

We took a long road trip to Las Terrazes and had a good walk around this beautiful nature reserve, on to Indian Caves, a tour round Robaina’s plantation, some beautiful views at Los Jazmines and sampled some decent smokes and rum on the way. We herfed a load of Magnum 54’s, which I was pleasantly surprised with as I wasn’t keen on them when they first came out but they seem to be evolving steadily into a pretty tasty smoke, as well as a load of Upmann Connoisseur A which were simply delicious.

Back to the UK and I managed a few hours in the office before collapsing for a few days and watching the Budget from my bedroom which has resulted in a pretty huge 7-10% increase in tax on cigars. Stock up before prices go up as they certainly will be very soon. I thought I was getting back to normal and headed up to Turmeaus Liverpool for a couple of business meetings but had to cut a 3 day trip short by 2 days and head back home. Hey ho, another few days relaxing at home and I’m finally better. Whilst this was all going on we received the new Partagas Presidente and Cohiba Medio Siglo as well as the Cohiba Short. All proving popular and all available online and in Turmeaus specialist cigar stores.

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So tomorrow I’m heading off to the USA until the end of the month. Meeting up with friends and clients in 3 states and doing a Pre Embargo cigar tasting or two at The Clayton in Chicago with my partner, Guy from the Decent Cigar Emporium (Dublin), I think even by my standards half a day in the office in a month could be a new record! I remember the days when I would routinely work around 20 hours a day in the office 6 days a week but they are fast becoming a distant memory as my Management Team generally do everything better than me and I can take life a bit easier these days.

In April we start listing Lots for our Summer Cigar Auction which is always good fun for me. I never know what’s going to turn up and it’s always full of surprises.

In late April we also expect to be opening phase 2 of our Liverpool development which will provide a Turmeaus cigar store and sampling lounge open till 11 pm as well as a whisky cocktail and tapas lounge and incredible whisky bar with some of the rarest single malt whiskies available by the dram, as well as the bottle. More details to follow…

Righto , I better get my case packed and fill my trusty DuPont lighter as I have a lot of fun herfing days and nights ahead for the rest of the month :)

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

The World of Don Tomas Cigars

Don Tomas are a well-made Honduran cigar blended with select Dominican, Mexican and Columbian Cuban seed fillers, wrapped in either a natural Indonesian or Mexican Maduro wrapper. The cigars have silky construction and mild to medium bodied smoke with subtle coffee and toast flavours with a hint of spice and C.Gars Ltd offer the full range!

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Now if you haven’t figured out a reason to smoke these beauties then I am here to give you a few. To start with they’re all reasonably priced so you won’t find yourself waiting for payday to purchase one of these. If you have just started the art of smoking cigars these are perfect as a beginner cigar as they offer a mild to medium smoke. Each one has been tried and tested by me and I will say that I was very satisfied.

Don Tomas Corona:

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I would give this a 4/5 stars. A smooth smoke throughout with constant coffee notes. Not only is it a great cigar but you won’t break the budget purchasing one. The draw was perfect and didn’t require any relighting. If you are looking for a 40-minute smoke for a walk in the morning this is perfect😊.

Don Tomas Petit Corona:

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Like it’s big brother above this cigar deserves a lot of credit enough that I would give it 5/5. It has the classic Don Thomas taste but I found it to be slightly smoother than the corona, more of a cool smoke. Will be perfect in the summer with a nice glass of Tullibardine.

Don Tomas Robusto:

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I would wait for the afternoon to smoke this one. It has more of a medium strength to it but with a creamy smooth draw. Such subtle hints of coffee and nut and a beautiful woody aroma. As you get to the final third it starts to get a little spicy which really adds to the complexity of the flavours, if you haven’t tried yet, you need to get yourself one.

Don Tomas Rothschid:

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Last but definitely by no means least to try was the Rothschild. Now if you like coffee these are the cigars for you. Each one I’ve tried I definitely notice they have a classic flavour of Coffee but this one being a slightly darker wrapper had a sweet taste during the second half, why made this, one of my favourites. The final third added a slight leathery taste topped off with subtle nutty notes. Perfect in the evening.

So, if you’re still working your way through Cuban and New World cigars, I would recommend your next stop to be Don Tomas. Four different sizes all with a variety of flavours and aromas. These really will update your palate to new tastes.

Have a great weekend,

Liam