Wednesday 27 January 2016

Azan Burgundy Label

This website was initially titled 'Fine Cubans', which I quickly terminated to not only make way for a more interesting title, but also to allow reviews of produce from the other cigar-producing countries. I innocently asked my employer, being a fan of the finer things, about decent non-Cuban cigars, to which he bared his teeth and, turning sharply on his heels, gave a terse "there are none". Thinking he'd gone to the bathroom, and hurt at his dismissal, I sat down and angrily took to his couch cushions with my car keys, upsetting the piping, and leaving powdery white teethmarks on the leather. He returned quite suddenly, having in fact been retrieving a humidor and, ignorant of my misguided retaliation, placed it between us on the couch. He rummaged through scores of cigars, and threw some Nicaraguan and Dominican examples my way, happy to be relieved of them. It's with this shameful introduction that I'll be putting an Azan Burgundy-label robusto to the flame. It's a well-travelled Nicaraguan, and my hopes are not high.

Many years ago I was in Munich, supposedly named for pre-Sapien Munchkin races that preceded the Barbarian tribes that founded modern-day Germany. Munich is a city known for its beer, with the famous Hofbräuhaus and Oktoberfest and Maß's of lager available in most places. I was with my friend Krist, with whom I'd joined a beer tour. I'll spare the great detail, but it's effectively a group of young people, mostly Australian, who are driven to show everybody else how much beer they've managed to pour down their constantly flapping gullets. I ultimately enjoyed the tour, but it instilled a camaraderie among the tourists that compelled them to want to keep the party going. Krist was just as eager to escape as I was, and we ducked into one of Munich's many discreet strip clubs, leaving the crowd timidly giggling in our musky wake.

The first inch is intensely bitter, and makes me shudder, but it quickly gives way to wonderful cedar chips, like with which meat is smoked on Weber barbecues. The burn is even, the tobacco is light, and the draw is perfect.

We sat at the club's bar and ordered drinks, and backbriefed one another on our individual experiences with the tour's trilby-wearing Australian hipsters. I had my hands in front of my face, trying to express my disgust, when Rihanna sidled up next to me. "Hello, baby", she cooed, oily Barbadian accent crackling on the fricatives. Before I knew it we were in a semi-private booth, and I was handing over fistfuls of Euros while she, perched on my sweaty lap, peeled her fishnets off her brown body. She cradled my soft penis through my jeans, paused, and said "baby...are you black?", and said she wanted to jerk me off. How much would this cost, I mused aloud. €500, she lazily exclaimed. I balked, but found myself withdrawing the cash from the bar at whatever gross markup they were charging. I returned to the booth where she was waiting, fully clothed once again. I handed her the cash, and excused myself to use the bathroom before we got started.

At the midpoint the light tobacco endures, and is accompanied by the light bitterness of coffee grounds. The burn is strong and even, without requiring a single re-light or touch-up, and there's not a hint of tar. It's not a complex cigar, but it's so far a fine smoke.

I hit the bathroom and let liters of German beer splash hotly out of my cock which, unfortunately, was all it was good for at the time. Alcohol has never enhanced my sexual prowess, and my penis cared not that I'd just handed a month's rent over to Rihanna. I wandered back to the booth where she, disinterestedly, fished my flaccid penis from my pants and started to yank it like a ripcord, her heavy rings catching the loose skin around my squishy shaft. She yanked and yanked, and I made "ooooh yeah" noises, but it wasn't working. Eventually I pivoted away, thanked her, and slunk back to my hotel. 

In the final inch the Azan continues to impress, and brings out the taste and aroma of burning kindling with cardboard, such as when starting a woodfire. I enjoy the light tobacco until my fingers burn, and I'm forced to stub it in my stumpy little ashtray. This Nicaraguan savage has been stewing in my backpack for ten days, and is the best thing I've smoked to date.

Wednesday 20 January 2016

Montecristo No. 4

One of the few benefits of working as a domestico is that, when one's employer is feeling particularly benevolent, one will enjoy an occasional taste of their lifestyle. The new-year period is especially rich with these opportunities, and I found myself smugly nestled between one of the manor's opulent lawn chairs, and a Montecristo No. 4. I take the latter to the flame, and am met with a mix of mild tobacco, and a hint of even milder cream.

In mid-2014 I attended a friend's wedding in Sydney. I arrived early, and checked into my hotel on the eighth floor on Sydney's Kings Cross; an area known for it's violent night life, and a mix of pimps, drug dealers, and arsehole millennials. The wedding was fine. I remember being besotted with a fairly average blonde thing from Tinder back in Melbourne, so I ignored the harem of dapper beauties and focused on drinking. I'd made nice with the bartender, and was double-fisting blasphemously coke-diluted premium liquor on the host's basic drinks package. I quite publicly kissed the bride on the lips that night, and tried to kiss the groom too to assuage his anger. It was disgraceful.

About two inches in the cream fades, and is replaced with a very slight bitterness. My employer chastises me for inhaling too much smoke, but agrees that a very faint sourness can be tasted.

I don't remember getting back to my hotel or going to bed, but I do remember suddenly running around the hallway of my hotel dressed only in boxer shorts, and trying to force my way into the other rooms. I needed to piss. I needed to piss more than I've ever needed to piss, and I knew that one of these hotel rooms must have a toilet. My own room had a toilet, but I 'woke up' running around the hallway, and wasn't in a state to consider this obvious solution.

The bitterness intensifies at the midpoint, but is accompanied by roasted walnut, before fading in the final third, with medium tobacco emerging that pairs perfectly with the Beluga Gold Line vodka that's steadily replacing our pale ale. This vodka is packaged with a hammer with which to smash the hardened wax seal that protects the cork, which all present enjoy. The vodka is excellent, sweet but not sickly, and I taste it and the cigar individually on my tongue.  The burn is even throughout. This is a fine afternoon.

Ignoring the lift, I opened the door to the hotel's stairway and, with one hand gripping the head of my penis to stem the flow of urine, made my way down eight flights of stairs to the underground car park. However, I identified no way out without a key, which I'd left in my room. On retreating back up the stairs I lost all control, and I pissed deliberately and enthusiastically into my boxer shorts, soaking them and my legs, and leaving a huge puddle of hot piss all over the stairwell. My load now lightened, I managed to find the green door-release button on the car park, and made my way out into Kings Cross wearing only piss-soaked boxer shorts, at 0300 on a Sunday morning. The Filipino cleaning girl who answered my frenzied banging on the hotel's security doors was very nice, considering the mess she'd later have to clean.

In the final inch the bitterness comes back, yet I smoke it to the requisite nub; my pinched fingers burning on the sodden wrapper. I beam at my employer, who claps twice, and gestures at the mess of late-Montecristo and smashed wax seal on the table. I have work to do.

Montecristo on the Cuban Cigar Website.

Wednesday 6 January 2016


It's the evening of Christmas Day in Melbourne, Australia. It's still warm and sunny, and my benevolent employer has granted me leave. I've got 5.6" of Punch-Punch Cuban cigar in my grasping paw and a six-pack at my feet; thus, some wanton tuck to indulge. It's been the better part of a decade since I've smoked a cigar, and I accidentally snap the first match on the unterlage of my matchbox.

Twelve years ago I met with my friend Buckley to have some drinks by the Yarra River, under the bridge that links Flinders Street station to Melbourne's inner south. I was twenty years old, and Buckley had brought me my first cigar. I recall it was a little perfecto that he'd picked up from the bottle shop, and I grabbed at it excitedly. I liked how it felt in my hands. I sniffed it like they did in the cartoons.

The Punch starts with notes of cigar. I can't distinguish anything else, but I don't feel any need to chase the firm draws with sips of the Amber Ale I've lazily paired it with. There's a slight burn on my tongue an inch in, which makes me want to spit.

As Buckley and I wandered down to the riverbank, I babbled about the subtle nuances of cigars, the different flavour profiles, and the correct way to smoke them. I was the expert, and young Buckley, who didn't indulge, was about to see how cigar smoking was done. We opened our beers and I, cradling one end of my perfecto, clumsily ignited the chiseled, uncut, tip. I inhaled deeply into my lungs, and breathed out again through my nose to show how committed I thought I was to the cause. I remarked at the delicacy, and the flavour, and complimented Buckley's good taste.

At the midpoint the cigar burns unevenly, but the initial burn has given way to strong, but smooth, tobacco. It tastes like a Vietnamese Marlboro Red; strong and slightly sweet. My benevolent employer would later remark "yes, but what does a Marlboro Red taste like? Cedar? Oak?", but I don't know. It's good though. Pleasant. The Punch Punch, though regarded as the more 'cheerful and fun' Cuban cigar, is the perfect re-entry into the cigar world. I roll the smoke around against my pharynx and practice my smoke rings. I'm enjoying myself immensely.

Buckley watched as I smoked the entire thing as one would smoke a cigarette, including deep inhalations of the smoke, and all while seated and getting increasingly drunk on the six-pack of Carlton Draught we'd purchased. After taking a final draw I stood up to flick the stub into the Yarra, and promptly blacked out. The next thing I remember was Buckley pulling me out of the foaming shallows by my legs. This in itself was embarrassing, but the three beers I'd consumed had coursed through me, and the shock of the fall had made me coat my jeans in my own hot piss, which mingled with the stinking river water. It was a long train ride home.

The final inch burns hot because the wrapper has been slowly peeling off, and each draw brings a mouthful of hot tar. The cigar is now soft and unpleasant, and my temples are throbbing from the nicotine, yet I smoke it down to a nub. A nice, fitful, little fire.

Punch on the Cuban Cigar Website.