Welcome to Episode #5 of The Whisky Guy Podcast!
It’s Whisky Wednesday – Time for a Dram!
Published Nov 11, 2015
My most humble apologies for leaving you hanging for so long. Thank you for poking and prodding me – The Whisky Guy podcast is back. More info on how to keep it on the air later in the show.
Happy Veterans Day!
Nov 11, 1917 marked the armistice at the end of World War 1 and the date was made a holiday in 1938. Thank You to all of those who have served in the US Armed Forces – I raise my glass to you today! Learn more about Veterans Day from the US Dept. of Veterans Affairs
I came across an article this week about a bottle of whisky that sold for $6.2 Million dollars, tho much of the cost was in the jewel and gold encrusted bottle. Read about it here: <<Bottle Story>>
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Interview with Josh Weltmer, manager of Lit Cigar Lounge at Snoqualmie Casino outside Seattle.
- Started in the cigar industry in Las Vegas at Casa Fuente
- Moved to Seattle to manage Lit
- Started selling cigars in 1996
- Lit Lounge has a walk-in humidor featuring a great range, and over 50 whiskies to choose from.
- Studied as an english major in college, then became a bagel salesman.
- The owner opened a cigar shop, Josh moved over and the rest is history.
- A cigar has 3 parts – The Wrapper, Binder and Filler
- The wrapper carries most of the flavor
- Filler can be blended to customize the strength and other flavors
- Shade-grown wrappers have lighter, more delicate flavors.
- When asking for help to pick a cigar, what are the things I should tell a tobacconist to make sure I get a cigar I’ll be happy with?
- Start with budget. Cigars can range from $3-5, to over $50 or $100
- Next, do you want milder or stronger flavors? A more novice cigar smoker might not appreciate or enjoy stronger, more full-body cigars
- Size might dictate how long the cigar will last, so if you only have a few minutes try to stay away from larger cigars. Don’t go big just because it’s trendy.
- Next think about brand – cigar makers are often known for specific flavor range.
- Just because a brand has been around for a while and you’ve heard of them doesn’t mean it’s a flavor you’ll like, and if you find a cigar from a brand that you don’t like doesn’t mean you won’t like others. Cigar makers make many different styles, and since tobacco is an agricultural product a cigar can change from stick to stick, from year to year.
- A large brand generally has more stock to choose from, so will generally be more consistent in a particular blend.
- If you want to be adventurous and go for 1-off flavors that you might not find again, go for boutique brands
- Vintages in cigars don’t mean the same thing as whisk(e)y – sometimes a vintage on a cigar means that’s when the blend was created, but not necessarily that the tobacco is that old
- A cigar should be ready to smoke when purchased from a cigar store.
- The flavors of a cigar properly stored will change over time
- The ritual for smoking cigars can be enjoyable. Josh’s ritual:
- Remove the cigar from the cellophane and just admire the shape, color, artwork on the band, the veins in the tobacco, look at the “foot” (the end you light) to see how tightly it’s packed
- Cut the cap – another personal preference. Josh likes straight cut (Whe Whisky Guy does too), but there’s also punch, V-cut, and other personal style.
- Take a ‘cold draw’ – draw on the cigar before lighting it
- Toast the end – some like to use torches, soft flames or matches
- Puff on the cigar and look at the end to make sure it’s evenly lit
- Get a drink, sit back and enjoy!
- It’s easy to feel like intimidated when you first start smoking cigars. To look like a pro, here are some ideas:
- Don’t leave the cedar sleeve, cellophane or other ornate package items on the cigar when you light it.
- Keep it going – don’t be afraid to take decently-sized draws, but don’t take it all into your lungs lest you cough and hack for a bit
- How can I pair a whisk(e)y and a cigar? Josh’s ideas:
- Start by liking both a cigar and a whisk(e)y that you like. If you don’t like either of them you won’t enjoy the whole experience
- Next, think about complimenting the two – don’t pair a light whisk(e)y with a big, overpowering cigar
- When pairing, start by picking a whisk(e)y, then choose a cigar to go with it.
- How can a cigar smoker find more flavors in the cigar, similar to adding a bit of water to a whisk(e)y?
- Let the smoke linger in your mouth a bit, not just blow it out immediately – a tough task when you’re newer to cigars
- Cigars don’t have to be a process – like enjoying whisk(e)y, sometimes you just want a drink. With cigars, take the chance to analyze the cigar sometimes, but also just enjoy the experience without thinking too much about it.
- What are the things to pay attention to when smoking a cigar, if you’re trying to have a critical eye?
- A good cigar should be balanced for strength and flavor
- A good cigar should evolve over the length of the cigar; from beginning to end the flavor should change
- When evaluating a cigar, aside from size around, length, aroma, flavor, and how it feels in my mouth, what else should I pay attention to?
- Construction of the cigar is very important. It’s difficult to enjoy a cigar if it doesn’t burn right
- Color of the wrapper is less important than some people think; pay more attention to flavor.
- Pay attention to the draw – you don’t want to feel like you’re trying to suck a milkshake through a tiny straw
- Are there certain types of cigars that pair better with certain whiskies?
- Irish Whiskey or Canadian Whisky – Think Connecticut Shade wrapper and Cameroon wrapper.
- Bourbon – Sweet maduro wrapper. Mauro (Spanish for ‘ripe’) means a wrapper that’s been fermented, bringing out more sweetness in the tobacco
- Rye – Cuban seed with the extra spice, like a Corojo
- Smokey Scotch – Nicaraguan tobacco; earthier and grittier.
- What about flavored cigars?
- Can be nice for novices that aren’t ready for a full-bodied cigar
- Look for whisky-flavored cigars from Ted’s (who makes a Maker’s Mark cigar with the wax seal) and Kentucky Gentleman who ages the tobacco in used Blanton’s barrels.
- Cuban cigars – special, or don’t believe the hype?
- Not necessarily ‘better,’ but definitely different. Until they’re available from reputable shops, it’s tough to be certain about quality and authenticity
- Cuban flavors are generally medium bodied and having ‘twang,’ mostly from the unique soil and climate.
- Cigar makers (including Carlito Fuente who makes Arturo Fuente cigars) are looking forward to using Cuban tobacco as part of their blend to give a different flavor
- In your head, what is the “Perfect Cigar and Whisk(e)y Pairing?”
- Cigar: Padron Anniversary 1964
- Whiskey: Parker’s Heritage Promise of Hope
- “If I had the 2 of those together, I’d be a happy man!”
- Visit Lit Cigar Lounge at Snoqualmie Casino; Exit 27 off I-90 east of Seattle, or on Facebook at Facebook.com/SmokeAtLit
Lots of whisky events this time of year. Most are already in our rear view mirror, but there are still a few to come before the end of the year:
- Whisky Extravaganza Seattle – November 13, 2015
- Incorrectly mentioned as November 15 in the episode
- Whisky Extravaganza Los Angeles – November 19, 2015
- Whisky Extravaganza Ft. Lauderdale – December 3, 2015
To learn more about these or other upcoming whisky events, here are some valuable links:
If you’ve attended any of these or are planning to go to one later this year, please let me know how you liked it! What’d you taste? Who’d you talk to? Leave me a VoiceMail on the website, tweet @WhiskyGuy or drop me a note on Facebook
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Recently I reviewed Glenrothes 1994; visit this blog post to read my review.
Next Time on The Whisky Guy Podcast
Look for the next episode of The Whisky Guy podcast on November 25 when we talk to George Summer from Chelsea Wine Vault – we’ll talk about gifting whiskies and getting the most bang for your buck.
Thank You listeners for sticking with me – and for considering becoming a Patron of The Whisky Guy!