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Friday, July 31, 2015

Kaplowitz: Puttin' on the Ritz: Project MEBCB Launch


Puttin' on the Ritz: Project MEBCB Launch 
 
Some time ago, I made public my plans to launch Project Make Quorum Better. Phase One involved the projected liberal use of hooch.

This evening, it begins.

Only I've opted to spend 2.50USD instead of 3.00USD and thus it begins --

Project Make Everyday Brand Cigars Better (MEBCB). It rolls off the tongue as smoothly as "homogenized leaf." Link> Here is the original review I did of this stogie <Link. Go ahead and read that real quick, because I'll likely be riffing off it a'plenty.

Welcome back.

In your absence, I took the liberty of smoking it since I got it. I am currently an inch into the cigar -- lemme catch ya up:

If Phase One is hooch, an early morning Phase 0.5 involved me sealing the inexpensive stick in a zip-lock baggie with some coffee grounds. Silver Spur's Daybreak Blend. A blend that can irreparably break any day. Ahem. It's a good enough blend at a great price, and is totally in keeping with the stogie at hand.

The taste of coffee is obvious but not ham-fisted, and I believe it has, thus far at least, waylaid the red pepper from being a near painful focal point. It is there, but too is some richer earthiness allowed to peek through in its somewhat absence.

A Bit on Booze:
Cognac is the King of Brandy, and as we know
-- all cognacs are brandy, but not all brandy is cognac -- 

For a brandy to bear the name Cognac, its production methods must meet certain long, boring, and at times hard to pronounce legal requirements. It begins perhaps most importantly with the grape, of which 90% must be of the Ugni blanc variety, and L-rd I do not want to go further into this. Cognac is the highly controlled and regulated King of Brandy.

Brandy, while booze class is in session, is a distilled wine. Also, it is wonderful. All of it. Two thumbs and no pinkies up. Pinkies tucked securely in, is true table etiquette.

Now, if you were to take brandy and say use it to fortify a wine -- you'd have ... grab a pen -- Fortified Wine, or more commonly known in any neighborhood you'd wish to live in or even attempt to drive through, Sherry. Palomino grapes are used here for the very most part. Too, the majority of this happens in Spain.

Nevertheless I am halfway through the 1/3 and a very salty note has distinguished itself and it lingers heavy and long on my palate. I should say that another reason this stogie works as a science project is its sheer size -- it is a Churchill of the new-fangled and much larger sense. These began appearing several years back when larger ring gauges began to be all the rage.

Personally, I prefer the classic churchill with its more slender design which lends to slower and cooler burns that allow for more taste opportunities.

Now as we near the second third of this thing, the salt and too the tin notes I've mentioned in my original review have taken once again, center stage. The red pepper has remained thankfully muted. Chalk one up for my coffee infusion of melee sorts.

I believe it is time for some adult beverage assistance. Of re-note first, is the extreme saltiness of this cigar. I at times hesitate to bring it to my lips. Me, a very big fan of salt both in and out of cigars. This, however, is like eating the crumbs out of the bottom of a bag of pretzels. I need coffee, or something, wait -- sherry. The long overlooked and under-appreciated sherry. I like sherry.

Taylor makes an inexpensive (5 bucks a bottle) sherry that is aptly, if not creatively, named Dry Sherry. It is a classically styled pale offering with notes of somewhat complicated roasted nuts and soccer moms shopping at Cosco.

We'll pretend that this bottle of Wild Irish Rose I'm unscrewing, is that.

Speaking of Churchill, the cigar -- Winston Churchill, the man -- from which the cigar's name was birthed, was a notorious dipper into of booze with stogie. A quick internet search provides no direct proof on his usage of Wild Irish Rose, however.

A word about WIR: NyQuil. Another word: vodka (meaning neutral spirit. Possibly rubbing alcohol.)

Two men collide.
"Hey, you got Nyquil in my Vodka!"
"You got Vodka in my NyQuil"
In unison: "Let's get drunk under a bridge!"
The Wild Irish Rose origin story.

Some kidding aside, Wild Irish Rose is the best of bum wines, in the sense that it is actually recognizable as wine, although well less than is Manischewitz. It is loaded with grapes (grape flavor?) and has been getting it done on the cheap since the late 1940s. Good stuff.

Why not just wine, Kap? I'll answer that after a quick stogie update:

S A L T.
I drop a few drops of Wild Irish into my ash tray and dip quickly... I have created a high-end Grape Swisher Sweet from my Everyday Brand cigar. Too, some prankster has loosened all the salt shaker tops in this establishment. I shall dip once more ... puff ... set down a bit. Rest is important.

Why not wine, then? Because wine and beer do not pair well with cigars. Ever. Don't let the trendy artisan brewers tell ya different. Nor the suburban home winemakers who share eerie amounts in common as far as method, with keister-stashing jailbirds.

You made wine? Congrats -- now do something meaningful and fortify it. Better yet, distill it into Brandy. Same-ish with beer. Good halfway point -- now distill it into whisk(e)y.

Why not whisk(e)y for this gig, Kap? Too over-powering for most sticks. The ones that can hold their own there, need no help. It is knee-jerk and under-thought to automatically pair a stogie with the typical hard bourbon/scotch approach.

You simply cannot go terribly awry pairing any cigar with sherry or brandy. There are nuances enough to write volumes on, for certain, but those are for another time entirely. I implore you to give Sherry a shot,  gentlepersons. She's a good sort.

Halfway plus through the second third here and the grapes have muted into a dried sweetness. The coffee is still tangible, and I've decided to offset the salt by putting a pinch of sugar in my freshly brewed Silver Spur. Now that is fine pairing. Against my best advice, I plop in a cube of ice and risk sealing in the joe's flavor. My risk is rewarded by a cooled palate.

Never drink booze on the rocks, however. You will be missing most of the sensory experience.

I am in the final third of the stick now, or darned close to it. The salt is nicely offset still, the red peppers never fully reared their bite, and I shall consider this launch a success. Had I some dark chocolate, well, that would have been nice. I'll save that for later experimentations.

Also, the flinty taste of last time has been avoided. The oil swap of the coffee ground infusion seems to have done well in strengthening the wrapper from last outing's dry cracklings. The burn and ash, too, were also superior methinks.

The final third is here now and with it, some familiar sweet spices.The wrapper is only vaguely cracked now, and I'll let you go as it winds down along with, I'd imagine, your interest.

Oh, atmospheric pairings: success in Dinah Washington "Is you is, or is you ain't, my baby." Failure in Sinatra, who laughed at me throughout and showed no respect for me doing it my way.

Wearing something paisley feels like it would have helped.

I hope you've enjoyed this surprisingly educational post. Now go away, you. Just not too far. I might need a hand. This Wild Irish Rose grows on you...

Check out more from Kaplowitz on his blog at http://kaplowitz.blogspot.com and follow him on Twitter @iamkap. Cheers!

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