Cigar Review: Southern Draw Jacob’s Ladder

I figured I’d close out my year in cigars by trying something new. I also wanted something powerful to close out with a bang. Well this one definitely delivered both.

Jacob’s Ladder is the fullest body offering in the Southern Draw lineup. It is stuffed full of Nicaraguan long fillers under an Ecuadorian Maduro binder and a Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro wrapper. The size reviewed here is a 6″ x 52RG Toro vitola.

First light reveals a smooth draw putting off big clouds of thick, chewy, full bodied smoke. Flavors of a deep earth and dark chocolate core tantalize the palate straight away. This is supported by a huge pepper blast and cedar note on the retrohale.

Getting into the first third the smoke retains its intensity but the pepper dials back slightly allowing a distinct caramel tone to join the draw and a zingy lemon zest to join in on the finish. Despite the power it is incredibly smooth textured and flavored.

The 2nd third is much the same as the first, which is ok by me as I’m absolutely loving the flavor package. Strength starts setting in quickly though. The only notable shift is the earth moving more toward a leather. Ending at 1 hour 45 minutes for a truly impressive burn time for the size and the strength almost matches the body at near full – my head was spinning by the end of it!

Flawless construction with an absolutely razor sharp burn, which is quite surprising given the binder and wrapper. Ash holds on about a third at a time. High quality self-adhesive bands that come off effortlessly and do not damage the wrapper.

What a way to close out the year. Bursting with flavor and a lot of complexity, this cigar wowed me in every way. At about $10/stick the price is right for what you get too – I would almost call it a budget stick given what you get for that money. Pair with a heavy, oaky bourbon or an peaty scotch for best results. Rating: 5/5.

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Product Review: NEAT Ultimate Spirits Glass

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Lovers of fine spirits will tell you that not all glassware is created equally. The proper glass can go a long way to enhancing the enjoyment of any spirit, be it whisk(e)y, rum, vodka, tequila or what have you. Likewise, the wrong glass can really break the experience. Who’d have thought that something so simple as a glass could make as much difference as it does?

There are many glasses to choose from now, from drinking straight out of the shot glass to snifters and everything in between. As of recent years, this glass has taken the world by storm it seems, and for good reason.

Part of my holiday gift from my parents this year was a set of NEAT Ultimate Spirits Glasses. NEAT (Naturally Engineered Aroma Technology) claims to have used science and engineering to develop a better glass – one that wafts the searing alcohol burn away from the nose as to allow for more of the true aromas to come through, and of course aroma in turn gives way to flavor as well. Pure ethanol burn can numb the sinuses, thus you don’t get the full array of aromas if you get too much of it.

Serving spirits in the NEAT glass is very simple – just pour to the widest point of the glass for your standard 1.5 ounce pour. This makes precise measurements easy. From there, do as you would any other spirits glass to get the aroma – swirl and inhale deeply through the nose.

Being the skeptic I am when I first saw it I thought it couldn’t make that much difference. Alas, I was quickly proven wrong when I took the first whiff of a familiar Scotch. I knew how it smelled and tasted out of a normal glass so that was a good one to use as my baseline. Taking a deep inhale I noticed very little alcohol burn at all (even with the near 120 proof), while being able to take in more of the true aroma. Hey, you mean this actually works? I’m in shock!

The shape of the glass means you’re not going to get too big of a sip at a time. It almost seems metered in that way too. Get just the right amount to swirl around on the tongue and taste all the flavors before taking the swallow. Maybe the hype is justified after all?

Best of all, these glasses are dishwasher safe for easy cleanup. You just can’t beat that.

Whatever the case, it does seem that this glass delivers on its claims. After drinking my fine cask strength single malts out of this glass I can’t imagine going back. This will become my new go-to glass for fine spirits and I highly recommend trying them for yourself. Once you try, you’ll never go back.

Song Lyric Sunday 12/30/18 – Brand New Lover

“New” is our theme for this week’s venture into music via Song Lyric Sunday. I had a few ideas swirling around but I’ve settled on this song, a lesser known song by this band (which I don’t know why – this song is better than their so-called “signature song” in my opinion).

Anyway, I digress. In a little bit of an interesting pick this week, I have settled on this song – “Brand New Lover” by the band Dead or Alive (written by Michael Percy, Pete Burns, Stephen Coy and Tim Lever):


Your sweet nature, darling
Was too hard to swallow
I’ve got the solution
I’m leaving tomorrow
And now as I stand
And stare into your eyes
I see safety there
I want surprises

What I really need to do
Is find myself a brand new lover
Somebody with eyes for me
Who doesn’t notice all the others
What I really need to do
Is find a brand new lover

When you wake up tomorrow
You’ll be all alone
Oh the love that we had
I have quickly outgrown
I wanted to stay, but I just couldn’t do it
Couldn’t stand there and put you through it

What I really need to do
Is find myself a brand new lover
Somebody with eyes for me
Who doesn’t notice all the others
What I really need to do
Is find myself a brand new lover
Somebody with eyes for me
Who doesn’t notice all the others

Now other loves will tell you that
I’m nothing but a pleasure-seeker
For once I really must agree
I need to leave you by yourself
And go in search of someone else
To satisfy my curiosity

Your sweet nature, darling
Was too hard to swallow
I’ve made my decision
I’m leaving tomorrow

What I really need to do
Is find myself a brand new lover
Somebody with eyes for me
Who doesn’t notice all the others
What I really need to do
Is find a brand new lover

What I really need to do
Is find myself a brand new lover
Somebody with eyes for me
Who doesn’t notice all the others
What I really need to do
Is find myself a brand new lover
Somebody with eyes for me
Who doesn’t notice all the others

What I really need to do
Is find myself a brand new lover
Somebody with eyes for me
Who doesn’t notice all the others
What I really need to do
Is find a brand new lover
Source: https://genius.com/Dead-or-alive-brand-new-lover-lyrics

Hot/Spicy Food and Autism – Am I a Rarity?

Yesterday one of my best local friends and I met up for lunch at one of my favorite local Asian restaurants. It was the 2nd day in a row I ate there but that’s OK, I could eat it every day and not tire of it. This ain’t some cheap, disgusting Chinese buffet. This is a full sit-down restaurant where everything is made fresh to order. Needless to say I’m a bit spoiled. Having one of the top 100 Chinese restaurants in the US right here in podunk Abilene, Texas? Who’d have thought? Whatever the case, if you ever spend some time in Abilene Szechuan is a definite must-try if you’re into Asian food.

Anyway, one of the things I absolutely love about this place is they will bring as much heat as you ask for. I always order mine at the maximum spice level, add whole red chilis and jalapeno peppers and order extra chili oil to go with it. Sound crazy? Maybe I am. After all, anytime I ate at Goodfriend when I lived in Dallas I always ordered their so-called “El Salazar” burger which consisted of a roasted pepper sauce of ghost pepper, Thai peppers and a few others and I always powered through it as though it were nothing. Would I feel the burn, sweat bullets, etc.? Oh yeah, but I absolutely loved it.

I actually have to be very mindful to answer in a correct way when someone asks me if something is hot, because often times what has little or no detectable heat to my palate will knock someone else on their ass (in more ways than one, if you catch my drift). I always have to answer “it’s not hot to me but it might be to you.” If I tell you something is hot to me, watch out. That’s a clear warning and I don’t joke around about stuff like this. It’s not funny and someone could get very sick or injured as not many people have as tough of a stomach as I seem to.

Alas, I digress. As I was eating my lunch yesterday and starting to heat up a bit I couldn’t help but wonder if I’m a rarity when it comes to my heat/spice tolerance and being on the autism spectrum. It would stand to reason (at least to me) that not many autists could handle as much spice as I can. Given our hypersensitivities, I could see where most of us would be hypersensitive to capsaicin. Alas, for whatever reason I’m not.

The only reason I can figure for my heat/spice tolerance is genetics – I do have some Japanese background after all. I remember my great-grandmother used to grow those little ornamental peppers in her garden and she would often just pick one off the plant and eat it like candy. Yes, she could handle her heat like nobody’s business.

All that said, I’m truly curious. Maybe it’s one of the weirdest things to be curious about but I truly am. Fellow autists, what is your heat/spice tolerance like? Is it a hypersensitivity for you or are you like me and can wolf it down like nobody’s business? Even if you’re not on the spectrum, I’m curious as to how much heat you can take. I know not many people in the western world have my tolerance but some do.

Hurry Up, 2019!

The holidays are coming to a close and 2019 is on the way which will bring some significant changes to my life starting pretty quickly. I think these changes will help improve my quality of life overall and they will be a welcome change from the drudgery that was most of 2018.

First of all, my boss is going to let me work from home on a most-time basis. I can really do my job anywhere. I could be on Mars and still get the same results (as long as I had some sort of internet connection anyway). Being in the comfort of my own home will no doubt bring about less stress, free of office drama and I can work at my own pace. No more sititng around the office twirling a fidget spinner for hours on end on slow days and/or being limited by normal working hours on busy days. Of course I’ll have to check in at the office a couple of times per week to get updated on any crane moves or whatever. This 120 mile round trip commute 5 days a week, taking it down to just 1-2? I’m all for that. I always figured working from home would be the best fit for anyone on the autism spectrum for those reasons and more.

Working from home also frees me up to resume my funeral bagpipe services. I’m usually in and out in a hour tops so that would not take too much of my time. It’ll also free me up on slow days to focus on my writing project, which I eluded to in a previous post. When the weather gets better, this also puts me in a prime position to start building my dream grandfather clock. No matter how you turn it, this will no doubt increase my quality of life.

As far as other projects, I’ve got some ideas in addition to writing and bagpipe but we shall see if they pan out. I know you’re all still waiting on pics from my photoshoot that happened about a month ago and rest assured, as soon as I get them I’ll be posting. Alas, that’s almost a gateway – my friends who did the shoot swear I should think about doing some modeling on the side. Not many men have the guts to rock patterned leggings (sad, they’re so fun!) and there are still some parts of the world where men’s short shorts have a cult following so maybe I could look at modeling stuff like that too? I imagine it’s a niche market but if I’ve got the nerve to do it then it might be a way to make some extra cash.

Of course, 2019 will also bring on some more ink. You know I can’t go more than a few months without adding to my ink collection. As new ink drops, you’ll be sure to know that too.

Anyway, 2018 had its highlights and low points but I can say it was overall better than my 2017, so I’ll call 2018 an overall success. Hopefully this up-tick will continue because I’m ready to get back to life as I knew it going back to my college and grad school days. It seems once I closed that chapter I went into a downward spiral that lasted for years and 2018 was almost a return to normalcy. Maybe 2019 will be.

Only time will tell I guess.

Scotch Review: Deanston Bordeaux Red Wine Cask Matured

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As promised, here is my review of the holiday gift I received from my parents.

This is a cask-strength single malt Scotch from Perthshire. This particular batch weighs in at 58.7% ABV, true to form and, as in the name, is aged in Bordeaux casks.

Pour is a deep copper color with streaks of red and chestnut brown. Nose of caramel, vanilla, honey and definite red wine and oak. Red wine up front. Vanilla, dark chocolate, oak, molasses some orange zest. Tannins round out the finish. Notes apricot brandy on the aftertaste and a big alcohol burn along with come cinnamon and ginger.

A truly delicious sipping Scotch, pair this with a hefty, full-bodied cigar. My selection was the previously reviewed Blanco Liga Exclusiva de Familia Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro and it was a beautiful pairing. Rating: 4.75/5.

Have you had this dram? Let me know what you thought!

On Dining Out on Holidays (And Little Gifts)

First things first, I hope everyone has a happy holiday. Whether you celebrate Yule, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or just another day, I hope you have a fun-filled day full of gifts, family, friends, laughs, food and drink.

For me? Well it’s mostly just another day with Yule elements mixed in. Nonetheless, I did get a nice little gift from my parents, this very tasty looking Scotch (review to come soon, I promise!):

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And my awesome local friends got me this fun little cigar tasting journal:

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You know you’re a total grown-up when this is all it takes to move you to tears. Hah.

Anyway, after festivities this morning the rest of my family will go on to the communal family gathering, which is a no-fly zone for me because I just don’t get along with the group. I’m the black sheep in a family of a bunch of hard-right, Bible-thumping Southern Baptists so in the interest of avoiding drama I always skip out and do my own thing, which usually (as will today) involve going out for dinner.

I’ve become somewhat of an expert on eating out on holidays and have made it a point to always do what I can to make my server’s day better. You might say I’m contributing to the problem but I disagree – these establishments will be open regardless of whether or not I’m there so the least I can do is try to make someone happy.

Depending on where you go it can either be slammed or, in the case of where I usually end up, rather quiet. I love this because I can enjoy a nice, quiet, peaceful meal without all the drama. No need to feel bad for me, it is what it is. I quite enjoy it.

Anyway, my biggest thing is to make your server’s time worthwhile: small talk when appropriate and going “all out” – appetizer, dinner, drinks and dessert. I always do it all. I also “pay it forward” with a generous tip, usually going insofar as to “tip the bill” – a bit of a social media trend here where you tip 100% of the amount of the check. Again, just something I do to try to make someone’s day better because I know for many, the holidays are a time of heartache. I’m no stranger to that feeling myself.

Of course, not every nation in this world has a tipping culture but I say even if you don’t normally, add a tip. You have no idea how that can make someone’s day.

Anyway, I’m off to enjoy my day, and once again, everyone have a happy holiday (or maybe even a happy birthday – I have one blogging pal who is a Christmas baby!).