Song Lyric Sunday 12/10/17 – Free Fallin’

So Song Lyric Sunday is upon us one again and our theme is falling. Well OK. Again, not an easy topic but I’ll run with it.

This is the first song I thought of for the topic. Though not a song about falling in general, I think it fits. Here then is the song “Free Fallin'” by the late, great Tom Petty (written by Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne)

She’s a good girl, loves her mama
Loves Jesus and America too
She’s a good girl, who’s crazy ’bout Elvis
Loves horses and her boyfriend too

And it’s a long day livin’ in Reseda
There’s a freeway runnin’ through the yard
And I’m a bad boy, cause I don’t even miss her
I’m a bad boy for breakin’ her heart

Now I’m free
Free fallin’
Yeah, I’m free
Free fallin’

Now all the vampires walkin’ through the valley
Move west down Ventura boulevard
And all the bad boys are standing in the shadows
And the good girls are home with broken hearts

Now I’m free
I’m free fallin’
Yeah, I’m free
Free fallin’

Free fallin’, now I’m free fallin’, now I’m
Free fallin’, now I’m free fallin’, now

I wanna glide down over Mulholland
I wanna write her name in the sky
I’m gonna free fall out into nothin’
Gonna leave this world for awhile

Now I’m free (Free fallin’, now I’m free fallin’, now I’m)
Free fallin’ (Free fallin’, now I’m free fallin’, now I’m)
Yeah, I’m free (Free fallin’, now I’m free fallin’, now I’m)
Free fallin’ (Free fallin’, now I’m free fallin’, now I’m)

(Free fallin’, now I’m free fallin’, now I’m)
Now I’m free
Free fallin’
Oh (Free fallin’, now I’m free fallin’, now I’m)
Free fallin’ (Free fallin’, now I’m free fallin’, now I’m)
Now I’m free (Free fallin’, now I’m free fallin’, now I’m)
Oh, free fallin’ (Free fallin’, now I’m free fallin’, now I’m)
(Free fallin’, now I’m free fallin’, now I’m) Free fallin’
Source: https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/tompettyandtheheartbreakers/freefallin.html

As always, hope you enjoyed the song. Until next week!

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Pick Your Poison…

…and that’s really what I’ve been having to do lately to keep myself from going crazy.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the epitome of good health. Though I am in good physical condition and exercise regularly (and eat reasonably well), as you can tell from my alcohol and tobacco reviews I do have my vices. It seems lately I’m engaging in my vices a lot more than normal, probably as a way to cope with the increased stress from my heavier work load and just being away from friends and family. All of this is, of course, compounded by the stress of the holidays which gets everyone down.

On my down time, I’m one of three places: at the bar, the cigar lounge, or at home. In any of those instances, chances are I’ve got a drink in one hand and a smoke in the other, pretty much all the time. If it’s too damn cold outside; it’ll be a vape in the other hand. Whatever the case, it’s what I have to do to unwind.

Yeah, I know I’m not doing my liver, mouth or throat any favors. Trust me, I know. I have at the bare minimum 3-4 standard units of alcohol per day (and that usually runs closer to 5-6 given the higher than average ABVs of my beverages of choice) and anywhere from as few as 1 to as many as 4 cigars in a day.

I’m very well aware that my consumption of these things is well above the medical recommendation (the US definition is up to 2 standard drinks per day and up to 2 cigars per day) but man, I don’t know what else to do. For me having a drink and a cigar is a ritual that relaxes me. It takes the edge off and I kind of forget about the worries of my job and my shitty ass life in the meantime.

I mean, what’s worse for you? Tobacco/alcohol or stress? It seems to me stress is a far greater harm to you and I have plenty of that from having an boss who doesn’t understand how to deal with autistic adults, no real support structure and all that bullshit. When you look at people like Jose Orlando Padron who always had a cigar in his hand, you have to come to the conclusion that genetics probably plays a far bigger role in developing smoking related cancers than exposure to smoke itself. That’s not saying it helps matters, but you get the idea. Same with many old wine makers, distillers, etc. – they don’t appear to have a higher-than-normal incidence of cirrhosis or similar.

I guess the point is I just question the legitimacy of all this “smoking/drinking is so bad for you” bullshit. I’m not saying it’s entirely risk free. Alas, in my view you have to pick your battles. I’ll gladly gamble with a slightly elevated risk of mouth cancer or liver disease if it helps me to reduce my stress levels. As an autist, my vices are as much as ritual and routine as much as pure enjoyment. It is what it is.

We all have poisons in our live we have to choose between. Pick the one that’s the lesser harm to you because you have to pick one. There’s no avoiding it altogether. I don’t give a fuck if you think I have a problem. You’re not me. And no, I won’t “get help.” I’ll keep doing what I do. It works for me.

 

Beer/Cigar Reviews – Bishop’s Barrel #18 and Padron 1926 No. 90 Natural


Photo credit: Padron Cigars official Facebook page.

Today’s review blog is dedicated to the memory of Jose Orlando Padron (6/10/1926 – 12/5/2017). He will be sorely missed by the cigar community worldwide.

Welcome to a special edition of my beer and cigar reviews where I review two amazing products and offer up a toast to the legendary Señor Padron. Before we get to that, let’s get to our reviews.

Bishop’s Barrel #18

This is an English style barleywine hailing from Saint Arnold Brewing Company in Houston, Texas. Officially listed as a “rye aged oat wine,” this big badass beer weighs in at 12.8% ABV, 25 IBU and St. Arnold’s is nice enough to provide the gravity numbers – an original gravity of 1.113 (26.5 Plato) and a final gravity of 1.0183 (4.67 Plato).

Had on tap from Flying Saucer in Garland, TX. Pours a deep red-orange color with a thin ring of tan head. Aromas of plum, citrus, brown sugar. A hint of rye whiskey on the nose. Big, chewy, sweet flavors consisting of a bouquet of brown sugar, toffee, molasses, dark fruit and caramel. A little hint of the oats come through as does a small streak of milk chocolate. Smooth, warming rye finish but not astringent in any way with the alcohol well masked. Thick body with medium carbonation and way too easy to chug for the style.

Unlike American Barleywines, English tend to be mellower on the hops so that’s not a fault at all. If anything, too much would have gotten in the way. This is what an English Barleywine should be – rich, sweet, festive and warming. This one was an absolute home run. Rating: 5/5.

Padron 1926 No. 90 Natural

As with all Padrons, this is a Nicaraguan puro featuring all sun-grown Nicaraguan tobacco. This blend only comes in a single size – a 5.2″ x 55RG soft box pressed Robusto that come in tubos.

The first light revealed the characteristic loose Padron draw that put off a huge cloud of thick, chewy smoke. Full body out of the gate consisting of musty aged tobacco and a big pepper and spice blast. There is a hint of creaminess in the smoke also.

After the first few puffs the big pepper blast dies down and the body calms down slightly to medium/full and gets much more complex. The draw features a delicious mix of milk chocolate, cream and coffee. A fleeting hint of caramel also in there. The pepper remains on the retrohale but it also joined by a smooth leather and a bright, aromatic cedar. Everything mixes together and no flavor dominates the others. A strength kick starts setting in early at the 2nd third already at medium. No further flavor changes thankfully (as I was enjoying the hell out of the flavor package). Ending at 1 hour 30 minutes for an absolutely insane burn time for a Robusto sized stick and the strength at the end matches the body flavors at medium/full.

As with nearly every Padron I’ve had, the construction was flawless with a razor sharp burn all the way down, and what’s this? This cigar has a double cap! Kind of a rarity for Padron but it was a welcome surprise. I’ve not usually had problems cutting Padron single caps but the double is just a little extra insurance against unraveling.

I felt this was the perfect way to toast a great man and it was. I literally cannot find fault with this cigar. The usual quarter point I deduct Padrons for their single cap I can’t deduct here. This ranks right up there with the previously reviewed #47 TAA in Natural but even this one might have the edge on it as my new favorite Padron. It’s the real deal, baby. Don’t pair this with anything; enjoy alone to really appreciate all the complex flavors. Rating: 5/5.

With that, it is with great sadness I bid farewell to Señor Padron. His vision and his product has changed the cigar industry forever, and for the better. His legacy in the industry would be difficult to surpass. It was the Padron brand that first made me fall in love with cigars (the first cigar I ever had was a 3000 in Natural and I absolutely loved it, something I never thought I’d enjoy personally) so to say his cigars have enriched my life with a new hobby would be an understatement.

In addition to being a master cigar blender he was a great humanitarian, always willing to lend a helping hand and fighting for political and social justice in his birth country of Cuba. He said he wanted to be remembered as someone who helped people and he will be. The world lost a great human being in the wee hours just past midnight on the morning of December 5th. Our hearts collectively ache for this loss. If there is an afterlife, I’d love nothing more than to smoke a No. 90 in natural with Sr. Padron. What a wonderful man and a life well lived. He was 91.

Rest in peace, Jose Orlando Padron. It’s been well earned. Here’s a toast to you. Your memory will live on in the hearts of cigar enthusiasts worldwide.

Beer/Cigar Reviews: Wintervention, Mysterium Verum Coffissar, Rocky Patel Vintage 2006 San Andreas and Brickhouse Maduro

Welcome to another edition of my beer and cigar reviews where we take a look at some notable (and not-so-notable) microbrew/craft beers and premium cigars! Let’s just jump right in and, as always, we will start with today’s beer selections:

Wintervention

Wintervention is a winter warmer style ale brewed by Peticolas Brewing Company right here in Dallas, Texas. It weighs in at 10% ABV and 45 IBU.

Had on tap at Flying Saucer in Garland, TX. Pours a very dark amber color with a thick tan head. Aromas of toffee, black cherry, alcohol. Some spices also on the nose. Big blasts of flavor that follow the nose almost exactly – toffee, brown sugar and black cherry. A faint spiciness on the palate and a slight hint of banana. A delicate tea-like hop bite in the back. The alcohol is very well hidden without astringency. Big body with medium carbonation. Easy drinking and warming.

An excellent example of the style: big, bold, festive. A real winner. 4.5/5.

Mysterium Verum Coffissar 

This beer is a Russian Imperial Stout brewed by Real Ale in Blanco, TX. It is aged in oak and rye barrels with coffee. It weighs in at 9.8% ABV and an unspecified IBU rating.

Had on tap at Goodfriend in Dallas, TX. Jet black pour with a thin head. Aromas of dark chocolate, pine and coffee. The initial flavor profile consisted of plum and natural cherry supported by notes of caramel, dark chocolate and licorice. Coffee very prominent on the back of the palate into the finish. Not as hoppy as the nose would have suggested. Medium body, low carbonation. Smooth drinking and alcohol well hidden.

I felt this was a very good beer but a little lacking in mouthfeel for the style. Very tasty, just was wanting something a little more. Rating: 4/5.

And now for our cigar picks:

Rocky Patel Vintage 2006 San Andreas

This offering from Rocky Patel features a Mexican San Andreas Maduro wrapper over Connecticut Broadleaf binder and Nicaraguan long fillers. The vitola reviewed here is a 7″ x 48RG Churchill.

The first light revealed quite a firm draw but producing a good amount of medium/full bodied smoke. Very heavy earth on the draw and a big black and red pepper blast on the finish and retrohale. A slight hint of dark chocolate on the draw.

Getting into the first third the flavor profile remains largely the same but just gets a bit smoother and creamier. The initial pepper blast tapers off slightly allowing a leather to join the nose. Draw opens up slightly but still on the snug side. The 2nd third mellows slightly to a straight medium body as the red pepper heat completely vanishes leaving just a slight hint of black pepper. No further changes were noted. The smoke started going hot and acrid at 1 hour 30 minutes for an average burn time for the vitola and brought in a mild/medium nicotine strength.

Construction was fair with a fairly straight burn that interestingly enough only needed to be corrected when the ash dropped. Ash was fairly short, about 1″ chunks, but not surprising given the smaller ring gauge.

I have to say this was not my favorite Rocky Patel by any stretch (that title goes to the previously reviewed Royale). It’s not bad mind you and would pair well with a red wine, bourbon or rum. At the price point though, I’ll take the Royale any day. Rating: 3.25/5.

Brick House Maduro

This offering from Brick House cigars features a Brazilian Arapiraca Maduro wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and long fillers. The vitola reviewed is the “Mighty Mighty,” a 6.2″ x 60RG Gordo.

First light revealed a perfect draw producing plumes of thick smoke. Medium/full bodied flavors out of the gate consisting of leather and cocoa on the draw and a big blast of pepper and spice on the retrohale.

Getting into the first third the pepper dies down slightly while remaining present and the smoke remains medium/full. A sweet cream finds its way into the draw as well as a hint of caramel going into the finish. The 2nd third drops the pepper almost completely while the leather takes a back seat to a medium roast coffee. Strength starts setting in early, already at medium. The final third shifts completely to a heavy earth and entering a nougat and nutmeg into the draw and a hot cinnamon on the retrohale. The cocoa is still prsent but becomes fleeting. I ended the cigar at 1 hour 40 minutes for an impressive burn time while the strength held at a medium.

The construction was absolutely impeccable. Normally 60 ring gauge cigars burn terribly and Maduro cigars don’t burn very straight either, but this one had a mostly straight burn that only required one minor correction around the halfway point. Ash held on almost all the way to the first band:

What can I say? I wasn’t expecting much out of this one given the ring gauge and price point (about $6.50/stick depending on where you get it) but this one defied expectations. It’s a real winner of a cigar for sure and you’re doing yourself a big disservice if you don’t check it out. This one would pair well with a good, strong Scotch. Rating: 4.5/5.

So that’s a wrap for today. Have you tried any of today’s offerings? Let me know what you thought!

Song Lyric Sunday 12/3/17 – Scots Wha Hae

Our theme for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday is courage. Well, that’s a somewhat challenging theme for this week but I think I’ve got an off-the-wall pick that fits the theme perfectly.

For this week, we are going all the way back to 14th century Scotland. Well, maybe not that far back as this poem-turned-song was penned by the famous Scottish poet and songwriter Robert Burns in 1793 about events dating back to the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. This song is Burns’ interpretation of a speech given by Robert the Bruce in aforementioned battle where Scotland maintained its independence from England. Burns’ footnotes claims that the lyrics were inspired by Bruce’s “glorious struggle for Freedom, associated with the glowing ideas of some other struggles of the same nature, not quite so ancient.”

Of course, Scottish forces eventually succumbed to English rule but the Scots showed great courage in their fight to the end. It broke my heart when Scotland voted to remain part of the UK back in 2014 and I often think of Burns in light of that. Maybe someday Scotland will regain its independence but until then, this song has a special place in my heart as an adopted Scot and a piper (a little tidbit: this is usually the first tune fledgling pipers learn!).

There are countless versions of this song but I’ve chosen this version by the Corries. For lyrics, I’ve provided both the original Burns lyrics as well as a modern English translation of the lyrics.

Burns’ Lyrics:
Scots, wha hae wi Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome tae yer gory bed,
Or tae victorie.

Now’s the day, an now’s the hour:
See the front o battle lour,
See approach proud Edward’s power –
Chains and Slaverie.

Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha will fill a coward’s grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn an flee.

Wha, for Scotland’s king and law,
Freedom’s sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or Freeman fa,
Let him on wi me.

By Oppression’s woes and pains,
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free.

Lay the proud usurpers low,
Tyrants fall in every foe,
Liberty’s in every blow! –
Let us do or dee.

Modern English Translation:
Scots, who have with Wallace bled,
Scots, whom Bruce has often led,
Welcome to your gory bed
Or to victory.

Now is the day, and now is the hour:
See the front of battle lower (threaten),
See approach proud Edward’s power –
Chains and slavery.

Who will be a traitor knave?
Who will fill a coward’s grave?
Who’s so base as be a slave? –
Let him turn, and flee.

Who for Scotland’s King and Law
Freedom’s sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand or freeman fall,
Let him follow me.

By oppression’s woes and pains,
By your sons in servile chains,
We will drain our dearest veins
But they shall be free.

Lay the proud usurpers low,
Tyrants fall in every foe,
Liberty is in every blow,
Let us do or die!
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scots_Wha_Hae

Well there you have it. Off the deep end? Maybe, but fitting I think. I also meant absolutely no offense to my English friends with my political remarks. I love you all the same and have nothing against England as a country (it’s a rather fine country indeed; in many ways finer than my home country the US!) but I remain firm in my position that Scotland has its own culture and way of life and would best be served by independence.

I digress. Hope you enjoyed your little lesson in Scottish history and culture today.

Cigar & Scotch Review – Marrero Flor de Nino and Alexander Murray Dalmore 15 Year Cask Strength

Welcome to a special edition of some alcohol & tobacco reviews. Today we’re featuring a Scotch and a cigar as opposed to the usual microbrew beer. I don’t review Scotches often as I only usually buy a bottle at a time but it was time for a new bottle today so we’re going to mix it up with one. Let’s start with the cigar review.

Marrero Flor de Nino

This 6″ x 54RG Box Pressed Torpedo features a Habano Oscuro wrapper over an Ecuadorian binder and trade secret long fillers (not listed on the website).

Two cuts with the perfect cutter opened the draw up to perfect putting off tons of smoke. Full body out of the gate with big blasts of dark roast coffee and creamy leather on the draw followed by an aromatic cedar and pepper retrohale. Very thick, heavy smoke.

The first third dials down slightly to medium/full body as the initial pepper blast tapers off slightly. This allows a nice milk chocolate to enter into the draw. This same complex flavor profile remained into the 2nd third with the only change being the introduction of strength early on – already up to a medium at the halfway point. The final third still had no changes to the flavor profile with the strength ramping up to medium/full, matching the body so it has quite a punch. Ending at 1 hour 10 minutes for a very good burn time for a Robusto+/Toro- sized stick (after cutting the taper).

Construction was good. It did require a couple of rather large touch-ups early on but I expected that out of such a thick Oscuro wrapper with a large-ish ring gauge. The latter half burned razor sharp. Ash holds on in nice solid 1/3 chunks.

A very good cigar indeed. I do think I prefer the previously reviewed Fuerte slightly over this one but it’s still a good cigar at a good price point. It paired beautifully with today’s Scotch. Rating: 4.25/5.

And now for today’s Scotch:

Alexander Murray Dalmore 15 Year Cask Strength

This cask strength Scotch from the Dalmore distillery is aged 15 years in oak casks and bottled at 55.6% ABV.

The appearance is that of a rich caramel color that leaves plenty of lacing when swirled. Spicy aroma consisting of cinnamon and nutmeg over a floral and toffee base. The attack features a sweet brown sugar, vanilla dark fruit supported by a pleasant but not overbearing oak note. The finish matches the nose with its sweet spice of cinnamon and nutmeg. The finish is very long and with a big burn going down but without any harshness.

A very good dram. It is rather pricy but worth it. It paired beautifully with the aforementioned cigar and would be a great pairing for many full bodied, robust smokes. Also good for an after-dinner dram. Very impressive. Rating: 4.75/5.

So there you have it. Have you tried either? Let me know what you thought.

Song Lyric Sunday 11/26/17 – Obsession

Hah, this might be the first time I pick a song with the exact same title as our prompt. Probably the only time such a song fits, but hey, I’ll run with it.

So our theme for Song Lyric Sunday this week is obsession. Well, OK – it just so happens a song I love has the theme as the only word in the title, so why the hell not run with it right? Sure, this song is a bit raunchy and risque but oh well, it fits so we’ll go with it.

With that, here is the song “Obsession.” This song was originally written and recorded in 1983 by Holly Knight and Michael Des Barres. However, the song is best known for its 1984 cover by the pop group Animotion, and this is the version I fell in love with so many years ago.

You are an obsession (You are an obsession)
I cannot (I cannot sleep) sleep
I am a possession (I am your possession)
Unopened at your feet
There’s no balance (There is no balance)
No equality (No equality)
Be still (Be still)
I will not (I will not) accept defeat (accept defeat)
I will have you
Yes, I will have you
I will find a way and I will have you
Like a butterfly
A wild butterfly
I will collect you and capture you

You are an obsession
You’re my obsession
Who do you want me to be
To make you sleep with me?
You are an obsession
You’re my obsession
Who do you want me to be
To make you sleep with me?

I feed you I drink you
My day and my night
I need you I need you
By sun or candlelight
You protest; you want to leave
Stay, oh, (there’s no alternative) there’s no alternative
Your face appears again
I see the beauty there
But I see danger
Stranger beware
Of circumstance in your naked dreams
Your affection is not what it seems

You are an obsession
You’re my obsession
Who do you want me to be
To make you sleep with me?
You are an obsession
You’re my obsession
Who do you want me to be
To make you sleep with me?

My fantasy (my fantasy)
Has turned to madness (has turned to madness)

And all my goodness (and all my goodness)
Has turned to badness (has turned to badness)

My need to possess you has consumed my soul
My life is trembling; I have no control

I will have you
Yes, I will have you
I will find a way and I will have you
Like a butterfly
A wild butterfly
I will collect you and capture you

You are an obsession
You’re my obsession
Who do you want me to be
To make you sleep with me? 
You are an obsession
You’re my obsession
Who do you want me to be
To make you sleep with me?
You are an obsession
You’re my obsession
Who do you want me to be
To make you sleep with me?
You are an obsession
You’re my obsession
Who do you want me to be
To make you sleep with me?
You are an obsession
You’re my obsession
Who do you want me to be
To make you sleep with me?
You are an obsession
You’re my obsession
Who do you want me to be
To make you sleep with me?

You are an obsession
Source: https://genius.com/Animotion-obsession-lyrics

Now, just for shits and giggles, here’s the original version, but I will say I vastly prefer Animotion’s cover of the song.

Well, hope you enjoyed our weekly venture into music! As always, thanks Helen for providing us some food for thought and fun!