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ROCKY PATEL

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ROCKY PATEL

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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019

LINCOLN SALAZAR CEO & Publisher RANDY MASTRONICOLA Editor-in-Chief AUDREY PAVIA Consulting Editor KEVIN KENNEY Sr. Contributing Writer JOE REDMOND Art Director BREAHNA WHEELER Director of Events/Administration CODY CHO Cigar & Spirits Web KEVIN KIM Cigar & Spirits Social Media CHRISTOPHER BEDEROV Account Executive LISA TURNBULL Administrative Coordinator SHAHID GHANI Chief Financial Officer NATALIE NICOL Legal CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Joe Bosso, Nick Hammond, Julie Harrington Giffin, Dave Johnson, Kevin Kenney, Randy Mastronicola, Greg Mays, Audrey Pavia, Kim Thornton, Breahna Wheeler

A L I N CO L N B L A K E S A L A Z A R P U B L I C AT I O N Editorial, Production and Sales Office Headquartered at: 6 Upper Newport Plaza 2nd Floor Newport Beach, Calif., 92660 (949) 599-2761

Cigar & Spirits is published bi-monthly by Top Hat Media Group, Please send address changes to Cigar & Spirits, P.O. Box 37185 Boone, IA 50037-0185. ©2019 by Top Hat Media Group. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material from this issue in whole or in part is strictly prohibited. For subscription inquiries or change of address: Cigar & Spirits, P.O. Box 37185, Boone, IA 50037-0185; (800) 542-1600, Fax: (515) 433-1013. Subscription rate is $19.99 for 6 issues; $32.99 for 12 issues. Canadian and foreign surface, add $6 extra per year payable in U.S. funds. Single copy price is $5.99. Please allow 6 to 8 weeks for new subscriptions to begin. When changing address, give six weeks’ notice and address label from latest copy as well as new address with zip code. Occasionally, we make our subscriber list available to carefully screened companies that offer products and services that we believe would interest our readers. Please view our Privacy Policy at tophatmediagroup.com/privacypolicy.html. Publications Mail Agreement No. 40612608, Registration No. R126851765. Return undeliverable Canadian Addresses to: IMEX Global Solutions, P. O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2, CANADA. Printed in the U.S.A. December 2018 Volume 9/Issue 1 For Advertising: Advertising@CigarandSpirits.com To Contact Us for Questions & Comments email: CustomerService@CigarandSpirits.com Letters to the Editor: Feedback@CigarandSpirits.com

Cigar & Spirits Magazine

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@CigarSpiritsMag


UNCLE NEAREST PREMIUM WHISKEY ®

ALWAYS DRINK RESPONSIBLY. UNCLE NEAREST PREMIUM WHISKEY, 45% ALC/VOL, 50% ALC/VOL, UNCLE NEAREST, NASHVILLE, TN. © 2018 UNCLE NEAREST, INC. WWW.UNCLENEAREST.COM

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contents ON THE COVER

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G-EAZY DOES IT

Interview with the Multi-Platinum Rap Superstar

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BEST OF 2018

The Cigar & Spirits Magazine World Spirits Competition Top 20 Major Brand Cigars Top 20 Boutique Brand Cigars Top Cubans …and More

LIFESTYLE

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SUPERHERO STYLE

The Fight Against Busy Fashion

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LOUNGE LIFE STORIES

You might just decide to go for it and become a player in the cigar lounge of your dreams.

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THE 1ST ANNUAL CIGAR & SPIRITS MAGAZINE TEXAS TASTING EVENT

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ON THE COVER

G-EAZY DOES IT ABOUT OUR COVER Cigar & Spirits Magazine met with G-Eazy and renowned celebrity photographer John Russo at Brad Beckerman’s Stillhouse Spirits Co. corporate offices in Los Angeles this past October. The wonderful corporate culture created a feel-good vibe between all parties and the photos in the article bear witness to the fruits of the collaboration. We thank John Russo, G-Eazy and Brad Beckerman and all the stylists and photography teams for their work. A special thanks to Julie Fogel at LFB Media Group and Leah Johnson at Stillhouse Spirits Co. who helped put us all together.

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january/february 2019

FEATURES

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SKI RESORTS OF DREAMS

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SKI RESORTS OF DREAMS

Ski.com’s LeAnn Close Spans the World’s Most Gorgeous Slopes

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THE SOPRANOS AT 20

The Show You Couldn’t Refuse

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WINTER ALES

Cold Brew, Warm Spirit

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PUMAS AND PISCO

South American Cocktails and Adventure

PUMAS AND PISCO

VICES

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FEATURED PAIRINGS

Perfecto Pairings to Expand Your Palate

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NEW YEAR COCKTAIL RESOLUTIONS

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NEW YEARS COCKTAILS

INTERVIEWS

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TEQUILA COMISARIO

Q & A with President/CEO Luis Cota

WINTER ALES

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A BEHIND THE LEAF CONVERSATION

LOUNGE LIFE

With Mi Havana Cigars

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THE SOPRANOS AT 20

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publisher’s note The January/February edition of Cigar

& Spirits Magazine—our Best of Issue—is always the most exciting of the year for me. Our tasting panel and our team are able to showcase the very best cigars and spirits in the world from the previous year. It’s a tough job but we’ve had countless hours sampling many fantastic products this past year. This issue is the result of gathering ratings, notes and information on the many excellent brands in the cigar and spirits world this past year. The “best of” this year is determined by our blind tasting panel. We have 10 experts on cigars and 10 experts on spirits (excluding immediate Cigar & Spirits Magazine staff members). These experts have over 100 years combined experience. Each brand is blinded tasted and rated on a 100-point score card—this is for both cigar brands and our annual World Spirits Competition. Hundreds have competed throughout the whole year but we will now show you the best Cigars & Spirits of 2018!

As we bring in 2019, it’s important to note that Cigar & Spirits Magazine is approaching its 10-year anniversary. I’d like to take a moment and share how our publication has evolved over the years— from editorial and design to our company as a business and culture. It’s been beautiful to watch how much our readers have evolved and learned from Cigar & Spirits Magazine and how much we’ve evolved and learned from them. Upon review of the past three years, we’ve seen we have a much broader age audience than our predecessors on the east coast. Of course, seasoned and sophisticated gentlemen are reading Cigar & Spirits Magazine as well as the up and coming 21+ younger movers and shakers. The younger generation is taking like of this lifestyle. They’re understanding the artistry and craftsmanship that goes into the products we enjoy together and they’re taking to the warmth of how it brings us together and the comradery that we share over a cigar and a spirit. This issue offers our readers a cover-defining celebrity and welcomes the next generation of Cigar & Spirits Magazine connoisseurs. G-Eazy, world-known superstar, has shown himself to be a gentleman and a true influencer of his generation. Despite some of his controversial lyrics, after meeting him, his love for whiskey was evident and we realized why his art speaks to so many people. We always believe in people being who they are, and owning who they are, and a man should be a man without apology. As you read through this monumental issue and find out the best cigars and spirits in the world for 2018, please keep in mind what this is really all about, why we started this crazy journey. It’s for every man, every age, every income, every job title, every color, every

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path—for all the comradery. This issue, let’s take a cigar and spirit we love, grab a Cigar & Spirits Magazine and let’s pass down this tradition to the next generation so they can learn the ways of our lifestyle and the appreciation and respect that we have all shared over the years. It would be great if your son someday read this magazine with cigar in hand and said, “My father subscribed to Cigar & Spirits Magazine, and this year I pass this tradition to you, my son.” Let’s welcome this next generation of enthusiasts to come and share in the lifestyle we are so passionate about and teach them the ways of a gentleman. Here’s to 2019, to our current readers, and all our future readers. We humbly thank you and couldn’t do this without you. Cheers!

Lincoln B. Salazar CEO & Publisher

Follow on Instagram

@cigarandspiritsmagpublisher

This issue is dedicated to the memory of former Editor-in Chief, Russ Case. His professionalism and dedication will forever be a big part of the growth and legacy of Cigar & Spirits Magazine. We wouldn’t have been able to come this far without him. God bless our dear friend. Sincerely, Lincoln B. Salazar


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LIFESTYLE

SUPERHERO STYLE THE FIGHT AGAINST BUSY FASHION by Dave Johnson

THE BUSY TREND is on its way out

for those tiring of the look—plaids against paisley, bold stripes against checks, etc. Some Hollywooders lean towards casual clothing and accessories with crisp lines and others pull off unstructured looks that offer an attractive insouciance. Today’s superheroes of style wear what’s hip and they create the latest fashion trends.

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Photo courtesy of shutterstock.com

With all the latest superhero blockbuster movies increasing in sales and success each year, we are living in an era that is redefining what “Golden Age” has meant to comics. And with our reinterpretations of these superheroes comes new actors that give each character a new look and flair. Gone are the days of spandexwearing supermen. So if you want to infuse your style with some muchneeded super serum, we’ve rounded up a few casual items from some of our favorite good guys for you to incorporate into your look.


Starting with the king of superheroes, Henry Cavill’s Superman was a wonderful new rendition of the world’s favorite Kryptonian. And his Clark Kent persona was one of the most stylish we’ve ever seen. With a casual sprezzatura that is just off-kilter enough to look cool, Cavill’s Kent mixes textures and simple colors in subtle ways. To get close to Kent’s visual appeal, we recommend going with the Flint And Tinder Check Button Down ($108). This olive color is perfect for Kent’s late autumn hues, and the USA-made, quality construction is strong enough for any superman. Match this with your best pair of wayfarer style glasses, sports coat and tie, and you can nail Superman’s strengths without fearing kryptonite.

Henry Cavill and Patrick Stewart photos courtesy of shutterstock.com. Additional photos courtesy of Flint and Tinder, The Kooples and Mack Weldon.

Black Panther was a pleasant surprise to many when it hit theaters, leaving many thinking of Chadwick Bozeman’s portrayal of the superhero king himself. Now, barring secret knowledge of Wakanda’s location, you will have to stick with the style of Bozeman himself when he’s not on the silver screen. Thankfully, Bozeman is a stylish dresser in his own right who knows how to play to his visual strengths with dark colors and trim clothes. We chose the Trim Fit Band Collar Sport Shirt by The Kooples ($245) for the best Bozeman look. It’s a classic look with a small band collar matched with modern textiles that give it some movement and breathability. And it’s easier to find than vibranium.

Sir Patrick Stewart is an actor with an incredible body of work, with Professor X of The X-Men being one of his most famous roles. If you have a dark suit and Cerebro helmet, you could rock his style. But I think Stewart’s off-camera style is where you need to look. Find him at a convention or interview, and you’ll see how sharp he looks while rocking even a simple t-shirt multiple ways. Our choice for t-shirt is Mack Weldon’s Silver Crew Neck T-shirt ($42) which is antimicrobial, moisture-wicking and stretchy. You don’t need to be Professor X to know what we’re thinking: this shirt is perfect and would make Patrick Stewart proud to wear it.

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Benedict Cumberbatch has always looked like the kind of doctor you wish you had. And when he played not only a doctor of medicine, but a doctor of the arcane arts in Doctor Strange, he was really in his element. Chances are high that you won’t find an ensorcelled cape lying around, but you can still find some great style in Cumberbatch himself. He’s always dressed to impress and is often seen wearing a sports jacket. So our choice here is the Kinetic Blazer by Ministry of Style ($325). Made from a warp-knit fabric, this unstructured, casual jacket is water-repellant, breathable and scientifically wrinkle-free. We’re glad, too, because when you’re jumping through spirit dimensional portals, you need your clothes to not wrinkle. Needless to say, this blazer is magical.

On paper, an Avenger who has a bow and arrow seems silly. Luckily Jeremy Renner makes it work like a boss. What sticks out most about Hawkeye’s style is his penchant for vests. And our vest of choice would have to be the Nova Series Insulated Vest by Proof ($148). When you want to unleash your inner Hawkeye, this vest is the perfect balance of warmth and movement. Its shell is waterrepellant and somewhat stretchy, while the inside is filled with warm Primaloft insulation. It even stuffs into a built-in stuff sack. For Hawkeye, this hits a bullseye for style every time.

No one was clamoring for an Aquaman movie—until they cast Jason Momoa. Then everyone wanted to see it. Momoa transformed the Atlantian king from lame fishtalker into Harley-riding tough-guy-of-the-sea. In lieu of Aquaman style, check out Momoa’s style, which is rakish and eccentric. Our favorite look of his is shoreside beach style with a breezy white button-down. So we chose Rivay’s Hopper Oxford Work Shirt ($148) which is relaxed yet rugged, and is made in the USA. No matter what your style is, no matter where you go, this shirt will look good on you. And if you happen to be a tough-as-nails Atlantian king, this will look great on your next vacation. These movies are fun, and there is a wealth of modern style that we can glean from them. As kids we looked to these heroes as sources of Halloween outfits, but today we can look to them and find some truly good fashion advice. What a super time to be alive!

Dave Johnson is a fragrance reviewer, critic and entertainer on the popular YouTube channel Fragrance Bros. To see more, visit www.FragranceBros.com.

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Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner and Jason Momoa photos courtesy of shutterstock.com. Additional photos courtesy of Ministry of Style, Proof, Public Rec Apparel and Rivay.

Chris Evans is the perfect Captain America. Thankfully his style for the role was completely reworked to be more modern, otherwise we’d have more spandex underwear to look at. For most of the movie, Cap is wearing his standard uniform, but we can look to Evans’ personal style for some truly super style. Because of his athletic build, Evans tends to wear shirts that accentuate that strength, and his best look is with a casual henley. And by far the best relaxed wear we’ve ever seen is the Public Rec Apparel Go-To Henley ($78) and their All Day Every Day Pants ($95). We don’t know what unicorns died to make these, but they are the most comfortable clothes ever, and the styling is totally on point. Wear these around the house, at the gym, defeating Hydra, saving the world—really, just wear them anywhere.


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FEATURE

SKI RESORTS OF DREAMS SKI.COM’S LEEANN CLOSE SPANS THE GLOBE’S MOST GORGEOUS SLOPES by Kevin Kenney

PLANNING A SKI VACATION CAN TURN INTO A REAL WINTER “WONDER” LAND—THE “WONDER” COMING FROM A DIZZYING ARRAY OF DESTINATIONS WORLDWIDE, ALL OF THEM OFFERING DIFFERENT DEGREES OF DASH, DISTANCE AND DOLLAR-DROPPING.

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We wanted a list tilted toward exotic and glamorous locales. And so, we sought out one of North America’s premier ski-travel companies—Ski.com—for some expert advice to guide us down this slippery slope. They set us up with LeeAnn Close, a 22-year veteran of booking winter vacations who—having skied herself at more than 70 resorts worldwide—wears the title “mountain travel expert” very comfortably. LeeAnn grew up in Portland, Ore., “spent a lot of time skiing on Mount Hood and Mount Bachelor,’’ and eventually her passion became her profession. Her home base at Ski.com is packed with…well, mountains of information about ski resorts, but what ultimately distinguishes it in this on-line-crazed world is its personal, human-to-human touch… with experts like LeeAnn.

We asked LeeAnn not just for her all-time top destinations, but also for her high-end recommendations for lodging in each—because half the allure of any ski vacation are the accommodations and off-theslope amenities. But as she pointed out, there are numerous such options at all her destinations, so if you’re looking to spare your wallet anywhere in the process, lodging is one place to look. All you have to do is ask her.

LEEANN CLOSE’S TOP SKI DESTINATIONS:

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Photo courtesy of Hotel Mont Blanc

CHAMONIX, FRANCE Home of the famed Mont Blanc, “the great thing about Chamonix is that it offers something for everybody,’’ says LeeAnn. “There are five resorts around the valley that you can ski that are all on one lift ticket.” Chamonix also offers “a lot of extreme sport elements…so even if you’re not participating in those things, you can see them happening.’’ That includes “parapenting,’’ a cross between hang-gliding and parachuting where you can see people “coming off the tops of the glaciers and floating around up in the sky,’’ she says. Of course, you can try that yourself, too. And then you can try your luck at the Casino Chamonix—all very James Bond. Other highlights: An easy bus ride to the nearby ski town of Courmayeur, Italy—through the 15-kilometer tunnel under Mont Blanc. Recommended luxury lodging: The Hotel Mont Blanc 5.

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Photo courtesy of Monica Dalmasso

EUROPE


EXPENSIVE. AND WORTH EVERY DAMN PENNY. AMBER-CRIMSON LIKE A SUNSET. DARKER, RICHER, AND FULLER THAN ANY BOURBON OUT THERE. The golden nectar is heat-forged in the scorching Texas sun, aging chaotically inside custom-made oak barrels. All the while, the liquid cycles through the wood’s pores, extracting every bit of flavor possible. The result is a rich and bold bourbon, without the bite. So savor every sip and take your time with this one; afterall, we took ours. #S A L U D

DRINK LIKE AN ADULT ™

garrisonbros.com

©2018 Garrison Brothers Distillery

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Photo courtesy of Hotel Cervo

ZERMATT, SWITZERLAND Two words: The Matterhorn.

“The Matterhorn is iconic,” says LeeAnn. “It’s an alpine, car-free village, so it’s a very unique experience. The best way to get there is by rail. You can take the train right from either airport, in Geneva or Zurich, right into the resort, and when you get there, it’s car-free. “One of the nice things about it,’’ she adds, “is you can ski into Germany and Italy, and that is just a day trip from the top of the mountain.’’ Other highlights: Guided glacier skiing; helicopter day trips to the Aosta Valley in Italy (allowing access to more remote areas, not equipped with lifts); the ice caves of Zermatt. Recommended luxury lodging: The Hotel Cervi in Zermatt village.

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Photo courtesy of Pascal Gertschen

A rock star among mountains.


Hear The Man’s story at: www.arturofuente.com/theman

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THE UNITED STATES JACKSON HOLE, WYOMING “One of my personal favorites,’’ says LeeAnn. “Jackson Hole has come up in the last several years with a lot of building of luxury hotels, so they definitely have more traffic than they used to, but it’s a BIG mountain, and there’s a lot to be had there, a lot of advanced and extreme skiing.’’ “Jackson Hole is also one of the three places in the United States that has a tram…which is a big peoplemover that holds 75 and gets you straight to 11,000 feet.’’ In addition, “You can do day trips into Yellowstone and go snowmobiling and some of these can be highadventure trips, not just family-tooling trips.’’ Other highlights: “Corbet’s Couloir,’’ a run widely considered one of the hardest in North America; guided runs through the resort’s world-famous side country. Recommended luxury lodging: Caldera House Luxury Chalets in Teton Village. Photos courtesy of Caldera House and Hotel Jerome

ASPEN, COLORADO No list of U.S. ski attractions—really, no list of ski attractions anywhere in the world—is complete without Aspen…with its four mountains providing a wide array of adventure and indulgence. “Aspen is definitely an iconic ski resort for the United States,’’ says LeeAnn. “You get the four mountains of skiing, which is big, and your lift ticket is good for all of them, so you can get a different experience every day. “You can stay in one of the other areas that are a little quieter, a little less going on, or you can go into the town of

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Aspen and have great people-watching, and some of the best restaurants of any ski resort anywhere—and great shopping.’’ Other highlights: “Cat skiing” the back side of Aspen Mountain— where you ascend in a tank-like snow groomer that takes you to locations not served by chairlift; hiking the Highland Bowl on Aspen Highlands for some 45-degree (that’s angle of slope, not temperature) bowl skiing. Recommended luxury lodging: The Jerome Hotel.


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TELLURIDE, COLORADO “A little bit like a mini-Aspen,’’ says Close. “You have a lot of fantastic skiing, and you have this small town that really feels like a small mining town, but it’s very low-profile and very unpretentious’’ While “heli-skiing”—boarding a chopper to take you to remote locations—is fairly common, Telluride is known for making this extreme pursuit extremely convenient. “They pick you up right in the mountain village, right outside the Peaks Hotel,’’ says LeeAnn. As for the experience itself, she says, “It’s super-exotic—you’re gonna ski places that you cannot ski without a helicopter. It’s amazing. You get out with a guide and maybe four or five other people, and you ski untracked, unskied snow down to a point at the base of a glacier.’’ Other highlights: Ice climbing frozen waterfalls; excursions to Silverton, a mountain with one chairlift that ski. com calls “a unique and amazing skiing experience.” Recommended luxury lodging: The Madeline Hotel.

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Photo courtesy of The Madeline Hotel

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Photos courtesy of Summit at Big Sky

BIG SKY, MONTANA Big Sky, big ski. At 5,800 acres, this is the largest ski resort in the United States and there’s lots to do once you get off the slopes, too. “It gives you a little more of a remote feel,’’ LeeAnn says. “It’s about an hour out of Bozeman, and it’s not this super-high-developed resort. There’s definitely a resort at the base area, but this is a remote area. It also has access to Yellowstone National Park.’’ Other highlights: Snowmobiling, winter fly-fishing, dog sledding—overall, “a really good mountain experience” says LeeAnn. Recommended luxury lodging: The Summit at Big Sky.

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MIAMI 2

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CANADA WHISTLER, BRITISH COLUMBIA “Oh, gosh, I love Whistler,’’ says LeeAnn. “Even the ride up—Vancouver, the town you fly into, is fantastic, but the ride up along the Sea-To-Sky Highway is kind of like an inland fjord on the ocean. There is SO MUCH to do there. It’s two huge mountains that are interconnected, and they kind of come down in a ‘V’ into each other.” Other highlights: Forest ziplining; snowmobiling; heli-skiing in the Whistler Range; the outdoor Scandinave Spa; a car-free environment; and a world-famous the peak-to-peak gondola that, at some 1,400 feet in height, is a thrill all by itself. Recommended luxury lodging: The Fairmont Chateau Whistler.

Photo courtesy of David McColm

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REVELSTOKE, BRITISH COLUMBIA “A hike to get there, but I think it’s well worth it,’’ LeeAnn says of this interior B.C. destination. “It’s renowned for heli-skiing and cat skiing, offering a great backcountry experience that will occupy you for a full entire day.” Other highlights: “Fat tire” mountain biking; the Halcyon Hot Springs day trip via car ferry over the Columbia River. Recommended luxury lodging: The Sutton Place Hotel.

Photo courtesy of Revelstoke Sutton Place Hotel WWW.CIGARANDSPIRITS.COM

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ASIA NISEKO, JAPAN What’s a ski bucket list without at least one active volcano on which to venture? But the last eruption was somewhere between 6,000 and 7,000 years ago, so relax and just prepare for Niseko’s majesty. Located in the northern Hokkaido Prefecture, Niseko is, says LeeAnn, “a great experience,’’ from both a ski and a cultural standpoint. “When you’re in Niseko, you’re looking at Mount Yotei—a quintessential triangle-shaped volcano, it’s right there, out your window,’’ she says. You can also grab a guide and take a ski tour up Mount Yotei, right into its crater. And if you’ve traveled that far, travel a little farther still, she says. “You have three mountains in Niseko, but you can do an easy day trip, 30 minutes, and you can go ski Rutsutsu,’’ says LeeAnn. “And about an hour away you can go ski Kiroro, so there’s three resorts pretty close by that you can do there.’’ Other highlights: Traditional “onsen” geothermal baths “that are pretty much attached to every hotel, and then they also have a public one on the town,’’ says LeeAnn.

Recommended luxury lodging: Kasara Townhomes in Niseko Village.

Kevin Kenney, Senior Contributing Writer to Cigar and Spirits Magazine, is a veteran journalist with the New York Post. He has also written for United Press International and Fox Sports, among other ports of call.

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Photo courtesy of Kasara Townhomes

“The men’s and women’s onsens are separate, because you have to go through kind of a ritual to use them—you cannot wear any clothes, you have to bathe before you go into them, and you can only take a little hand towel like the size of a washcloth to sit on top of your head,’’ she says.


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VICES

FEATURED PAIRINGS PERFECTO PAIRINGS TO EXPAND YOUR PALATE by Greg Mays

MI HAVANA MADURO ESPECIAL VII KINGDOMS KOLOA KAUAI COFFEE RUM Mi Havana Cigars is located in the heart of Pomona, California. They are regarded as a boutique brand to be reckoned with. Using tobacco provided by Oliva, Mi Havana rolls and boxes their cigars onsite at their shop and cigar lounge there in Pomona. The Maduro Especial VII Kingdoms is a regal stick as you’d imagine from the name. A gordo-sized smoke that’s certainly a spice bomb, the Especial VII Kingdoms is a limited-edition blend that’s filled with rich flavors: a dry smoke with flavors of bacon and licorice with a buttery cashew taste as well. Sometimes a big, dark cigar hints at a high tobacco strength, but the Especial VII Kingdoms is medium, finishing smooth and flavorful. A glorious, dark, flavorful cigar deserves a spirt to match, so I paired the Especial VII Kingdoms with Koloa Kauai Coffee Rum, a Hawaiian rum liqueur. This liqueur, while sweet, is at a great proof for drinking on the rocks (68 proof). A collaboration between the Koloa Rum Company and the Kauai Coffee Company, the coffee nose is incredibly appealing and warm, and the flavor is like a liquid coffee shop: dark and rich, sweet and smooth. A regal spirit to pair with a regal cigar. SIZE: Gordo 6 x 60 | WRAPPER: Ecuadorian Sumatra | BINDER: Sumatra FILLER: Dominican, Nicaraguan | MSRP (cigar): $12 | MSRP (liqueur): $32

FALTO DELIRIO 10TH MOUNTAIN RYE WHISKEY Falto is a brand under the La Garita family of cigars, blended by Luis J. Falto, and most certainly a “boutique” brand—no more than 4,000 of each Falto size are blended annually. Really, it’s Luis’s one-man shop. There are currently a few dozen retailers nationwide (and a couple in Puerto Rico) where you can find Falto but it’s as brand whose time has come. So, it’s a treat to smoke a Falto, without a doubt. I was able to sample their Lonsdale size, the Delirio, a 6.5 x 42 almostlancero. The wrapper is knobby and soft and the unlit tobacco has a sweet earthy smell. On lighting, the Delirio surprises with a tasty spice, enough to make your mouth water, and a great amount of smoke output. There’s a sweet-yet-spicy flavor profile, with undertones of moist barnyard wood. Past the halfway point of the cigar, there spice defines itself as chili pepper, flavorful and filling to the nub. Tobacco strength is medium. I paired my Falto with 10th Mountain Rye Whiskey, distilled and aged in Vail, Colorado. 10th Mountain Rye marries with the Falto well, offering some of its own complimentary scents: a cinnamon and spice nose with a touch of vanilla, its flavor syrupy and sweet, somewhere between strawberry and mulberry with a final touch of smoke. It’s a nice rye with a unique flavor profile, and pairs perfectly with this unique, delicious cigar. SIZE: Delirio (Lonsdale) 6.5 x 42 | WRAPPER: Dominican | BINDER: Dominican FILLER: Dominican, Nicaraguan | MSRP (cigar): $11 | MSRP (whiskey): $44

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Pairing Spotlight by Delicia Silva, Cigar Vixen

cigarvixen.com

NESTOR MIRANDA 75TH ANNIVERSARY CIGAR The Nestor Miranda 75th Anniversary Cigar, in commemoration of one of the industry’s most respected ambassadors, is an elegant cigar to celebrate an elegant man. It’s a fitting honor to Nestor Miranda since he’s one of the most interesting men you’ll ever meet. The cigar is hand rolled in Esteli, Nicaragua at the My Father Cigars factory. It’s a gorgeous 7 1/4 x 57 salomon that invites you in with a toasted sugar-like aroma. Initial earthy notes mingle with a subtle mixture of nutmeg, anise and red pepper spice. As you progress into the second half, cool smoke greets your palate with hints of sun drenched cedar, dusted cocoa and a bit of black pepper. The complexity keeps your interest piqued for this entire journey. The strong medium body makes this cigar perfect for a late afternoon or evening indulgence. Especially when partnered up with a perfectly aged glass of whiskey.

WHISTLEPIG 10 YEAR OLD STRAIGHT RYE WHISKEY This straight rye whiskey is aged for 10 years in new American oak casks and finished in bourbon barrels. It’s rich, amber-colored and offers an exquisite treat for your taste buds. On the nose, there’s evidence of complex and pleasantly fresh aromas of amaretto, mint, charred oak and spiced clove. Notes of warmed caramel, allspice, raisin, musky earth, anise and tobacco greet you in every sip. A sincere and long finish coats the palate with just the right amount of spice. I added a splash of water for a perfect balance of flavors. Together the Nestor Miranda 75th Anniversary and WhistlePig Straight Rye are a beautiful marriage of aromas. The combination of robust pepper and cocoa from the corojo wrapper and the smooth spiciness of the whiskey allow the two to create a perfect dance rather than a competition of flavors. Treat yourself to a forced time out and enjoy!

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ARTURO FUENTE GRAN RESERVA HEMINGWAY WARBRINGER SOUTHWEST BOURBON Fuente cigars are consistently elite quality and delicious. The Gran Reserva Hemingway is fashioned after “Papa” himself and the cigar captures his larger than life personality. I smoke the Classic Gran Reserva Hemingway, a sizeable 7”x 48 smoke with a tightly-rolled almost-closed foot. On first draw, I found this to be the most Cuban-like non-Cuban cigar I’ve smoked. It’s rich with dusty leather notes, a slightly soft pack that smokes a long time. This is about as close to smoking a Cuban if you’ve never actually had one. There are some floral undertones to the smoke, too, and touches of rich, smoked meat. This is a classic cigar to say the least. I teamed this rich cigar with leather tasting notes together with a bottle of Warbringer Southwest Bourbon. The brand out of Oxnard, California is by Sespe Creek Distilling. It notes on the bottle that it’s a mesquitesmoked bourbon—I admit I was nervous. I’ve had a few “smoked” whiskeys that tasted like whiskey with Liquid Smoke, and didn’t know what to expect from Warbringer. Well, I’m thrilled to say that Warbringer brought it. There are wonderful notes of leather and smoke on the nose, and absolutely delicious smoke/sweet flavor. I love when an American distillery nails it with the smoke process. This is awesome. You’ll also catch some orange and clove notes as you sip Warbringer, and that really special and pleasant smoke finish. Worth every penny, and an awesome cigar pairing whiskey. SIZE: “Classic” (Perfecto) 7 x 48 | WRAPPER: Ecuadorian Sun Grown | BINDER: Dominican FILLER: Dominican | MSRP (cigar): $9 | MSRP (whiskey): $60

UNDERCROWN MADURO BRECKENRIDGE WHISKEY PORT CASK FINISH It would be the understatement of the century to deny the contribution Drew Estate has made to the cigar world in the past few decades. There’s something in their lineup for everyone, from the world’s best flavor-infused cigars to classic cigars that challenge the best of 100-year-old companies. The Undercrown Maduro is tightly-packed and firm to the touch. On light, there’s a sweet creaminess with underlying cedar notes. The cigar is graced by the extremely popular Mexican San Andrés wrapper. It offers sweet, rich and earthy tones that Mexican tobacco seems capable of producing in volume. The smoke is flavorful and long lasting, leaning toward the stronger end of the tobacco spectrum. Past the halfway point, there are some surprising appearances of curry and Asian spices, too. I paired Breckenridge’s Port Cask Finish Whiskey with Undercrown’s Maduro. Port has always been a familiar spirit for cigar pairing and it seems to be making a big comeback. Nosing Breckenridge’s Whiskey you catch a faint hint of red wine with the whiskey’s spice (this is a high-rye whiskey), and the flavor delivers the same. Sweet on the lips, very smooth with a bit of spice on the tongue, there’s that faint reminder that red wine was involved at the end of every sip. To be blunt, I’m shocked at how great this whiskey is. Together with a modern classic cigar like Undercrown, this whiskey shouldn’t be passed up. SIZE: Belicoso 6 x 52 | WRAPPER: Mexican San Andrés | BINDER: Nicaraguan FILLER: Nicaraguan | MSRP (cigar): $9 | MSRP (whiskey): $60 Greg Mays is the Executive Editor of Simple Cocktails (simplecocktails.net). You can follow him on Instagram at @simplecocktails.

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FEATURE Photo courtesy of AF archive / Alamy Stock Photo

The year was 1998. My husband and I were sitting on the couch in our Southern California townhome watching TV when a trailer came on for a new show about a New Jersey mobster who was in therapy. Obsessed with mob movies since my parents took me to see The Godfather at age 14, and impressed with the fleeting but dynamic clips I saw in that trailer, I turned to my husband and said, in no uncertain terms, “We need to watch that.” That was 20 years ago, and a couple of months later, on January 10, 1999, Tony Soprano, his family and crew came into our living room and the living rooms of viewers around the country—and subsequently left a profound impact on the entire landscape of television.

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Photo courtesy of Photo 12 / Alamy Stock Photo

The Sopranos has been credited with paving the way for a new kind of television show, one where the writing and acting rivals anything produced on film. It also started a phenomenon where we find ourselves rooting for the anti-hero—so much so that creator David Chase made the show’s mobsters progressively more brutal from one season to the next just to make sure the audience understood that these are very bad guys. “It’s about people who’ve made a deal with the devil, starting with the head guy,” Chase told TV critics Matt Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepinwall in their new book, The Sopranos Sessions (see sidebar). “It’s about evil. I was surprised by how hard it was to get people to see that.” In the fifth episode of Season One of The Sopranos, Tony strangles a man to death while he’s in Maine taking his daughter Meadow to visit colleges. Yet as horrified as we are by the violence of the murder, we are surprisingly able to put it aside once Tony is back in the car with Meadow, discussing her thoughts about where she wants to go to school.

THANKS TO THE BRILLIANT ACTING OF JAMES GANDOLFINI, ONE MINUTE TONY IS TERRIFYING AND BRUTAL, THE NEXT SWEET AND VULNERABLE. INTELLECTUALLY, YOU KNEW YOU SHOULDN’T LIKE THIS GUY BECAUSE HE IS A MURDERER. YET YOU COULDN’T HELP BUT CARE ABOUT HIM AND EVEN FORGIVE HIS TRANSGRESSIONS.

The audience that fanatically tuned in to The Sopranos week after week—even scheduling their lives around the show since the DVR hadn’t completely caught on yet, and recording to videotape was notoriously unreliable—seemed to enjoy the confusing emotions instigated by the show—and Tony in particular. Thanks to the brilliant acting of James Gandolfini, one minute Tony is terrifying and brutal, the next sweet and vulnerable. Intellectually, you knew you shouldn’t like this guy because he is a murderer. Yet you couldn’t help but care about him and even forgive his transgressions. Think about some of the great TV shows that have come since The Sopranos debuted in 1999. It’s not hard to see how Tony paved the way for the likes of Breaking Bad’s Walter White, Mad Men’s Don Draper, or Dexter’s namesake lead character, to name just a few.

Photo courtesy of AF archive / Alamy Stock Photo

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THE SOPRANOS SESSIONS

But probably most interesting to fans of The Sopranos is the book’s three-part, long-form interview with creator David Chase, discussing the events—both onand off-screen—of each season. According to Zoller Seitz and Sepinwall, interviewing the legendary showrunner was the biggest challenge in putting the book together. “We both have good relationships with David going back a long time, but he’s one of the more demanding figures either of us has had to interview,” Zoller Seitz and Sepinwall told Cigar & Spirits Magazine. “David will dismantle the premise of any question if he doesn’t agree with it, or is suspicious of the motive behind asking it, and he’ll outright refuse to answer things if the phrasing isn’t exactly right. Given that he’s reluctant under the best circumstances to explain things about the show, we had to go in prepared for a lot of bobbing and weaving.” Regardless of the difficulties in getting Chase to answer questions, the authors managed to get some fascinating information from him, including a statement from Chase that he previously oversold the similarities between his own mother and Tony’s mother, Livia, and that his reaction to Nancy Marchand showing up to audition for the part was “What the fuck is this?” The time the authors spent with Chase also led them to the conclusion that Tony doesn’t die in the incredibly controversial final scene of the series. “We’re convinced that the scene is about death—the possibility that Tony, or any of us, could be snuffed out like a candle at any moment, without warning— without it explicitly depicting Tony’s death,” said Zoller Seitz and Sepinwall. “Maybe he dies—or maybe he enjoys the onion rings and ice cream and drives home to North Caldwell to kill another day.”

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LOSING JIMMY

In the 20 years since The Sopranos first aired, a lot has happened surrounding the show. The most profound was the sudden loss of James Gandolfini, who died from a heart attack while in Rome, on June 19, 2013. Gandolfini’s death had a profound impact on fans of the show, many of who were quietly waiting for The Sopranos, The Movie. As long as Gandolfini was out there, the possibility of more Sopranos stories was alive. Once he passed, the finality of the last moment of the show hit home. Gandolfini’s death also had a powerful effect on others in the limelight. Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey ordered flags on the state’s government buildings be flown at half-mast the day after the New Jersey native’s body was returned to the U.S. from Italy. Senator John McCain tweeted “RIP James Gandolfini, one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met.” Bruce Springsteen, at a concert in England a few days after Gandolfini’s passing, played the entire Born to Run album in honor of the late actor. The loss of Gandolfini also made a deep impact on his cast mates. The days following his passing, Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli, Steve Van Zandt, David Proval and many others from the show publicly expressed their grief and love for a man all defined as a great actor and a wonderful person. Most notably affected was Lorraine Bracco, who had grown close to Gandolfini during their time on the show. Gandolfini’s sudden death shook her so much, she began a weight loss program, and wrote a book published by Rodale called To the Fullest: The Clean Up Your Act Plan to Lose Weight, Rejuvenate and Be the Best You Can Be.” “I would be less than honest if I neglected to say that Jimmy Gandolfini’s shocking death contributed to my decision to motivate others to take care of themselves,” she wrote in the book’s introduction. “I used to tease Jimmy about his expanding belly. He would pat it, smile, and say, ‘It’s all muscle.’ The terrible, premature loss of a good friend, a talent who was just coming into his own, was a jolting reminder of how vulnerable we are—here today and gone tomorrow. What a loss.”

Photo courtesy of AF archive / Alamy Stock Photo

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Sopranos debut, renowned television critics Matt Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepinwall have written the penultimate companion to the show. The Sopranos Sessions (published by Abrams Press) features critical essays on every single episode, along with archival pieces by the authors from the Newark-based Star Ledger, written during the original run of the series. It also includes a rare interview with James Gandolfini.


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Photo courtesy of AF archive / Alamy Stock Photo

THE PREQUEL

With the passing of Gandolfini, it became clear that The Sopranos story had ended. How could there be a show about Tony Soprano without the man who played Tony? But if there is one thing we should have learned from watching The Sopranos, it’s to never underestimate the creative genius of David Chase. A feature film called The Many Saints of Newark is in the works, and it’s a prequel to The Sopranos. Chase is the driving force behind the project, and wrote the script with Lawrence Konner, a Sopranos staff writer. Alan Taylor, who directed nine episodes of The Sopranos, along with the Mad Men pilot and one episode of Game of Thrones, is set to direct. The film is set during the 1967 Newark riots, which Tony’s mother, Livia, references during the seventh episode in Season One of The Sopranos. It’s likely the characters will focus on Tony’s parents, Christopher’s father and of course Junior Soprano. There’s no doubt that fans of The Sopranos will be lined up at theaters when the film hits the big screen in 2020. While we wait, this is a good time to re-watch The Sopranos in a way we couldn’t do 20 years ago. Thanks to HBO Go, DVD box sets and Amazon Prime, we can binge watch episodes of the show back-to-back, allowing only the most important aspects of life to interrupt these 36 hours of brilliant, game-changing TV. “Modern television as we know it wouldn’t exist without The Sopranos,” Zoller Seitz and Sepinwall told us. “It’s one of the most influential TV shows ever made, as well as one of the greatest. Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, all of Netflix—they don’t exist without Tony and friends, and those connections are palpable when you go back and watch it.”

Audrey Pavia is an award-winning writer living in Southern California. She is a frequent contributor to Cigar & Spirits Magazine.

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MICALLEF

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LIFESTYLE Photo courtesy of BURN

LOUNGE LIFE STORIES by Joe Bosso

COMFORT. RELAXATION. RESPITE. That feeling like our challenges and stressors are on hold. Just the right vibe for friends on the same wavelength to effortlessly engage. That’s what attracts us to our favorite cigar lounge. Each establishment has its own personality. It becomes a niche community unto itself. Your go-to lounge is an escape where local flavor and robust tastes are right at your fingertips. Each of the four cigar spots profiled in this issue have put their unique stamp on the lounge life experience. It’s highly recommended you pop in if you find yourself in their neck of the woods.

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Photo courtesy of BURN

BURN BY ROCKY PATEL

Pittsburgh, PA General Manager: Mike Milinkovic burnbyrockypatel.com

Opened in April of 2019, Pittsburgh’s Burn by Rocky Patel is the noted cigar maker’s third lounge—he recently unveiled rooms in Oklahoma City and Naples, Florida, and plans to expand to Indianapolis and Atlanta. Featuring brightly colored, high-end furnishings and striking, eye-popping aesthetics, the upscale lounge is a far cry from the standardissue “old man’s cigar bar.” And according to General Manager Mike Milinkovic, that was the idea all along. “We’re definitely going for a more deluxe experience,” he says. “The lounge in Naples was kind of the template for Rocky’s rooms. The look mixed a lot of different cultures— Mediterranean, Cuban and Asian. In Oklahoma City it’s more of a Western vibe, a lot of leather. Here in Pittsburgh, it’s more sleek steel, but very soothing and comfortable. We want each lounge to be unique and elegant.” Milinkovic stresses another important aspect of the Pittsburgh lounge: “We have a very educated and knowledgeable staff, and they’re experts on teaching customers about cigars. At a lot of cigar bars, the staff doesn’t really know about what they sell. We get to know our guests and help facilitate their needs. ‘What do you like to smoke? Why do you like it? Oh, well, then you might like this.’ Cigars are our passion, and we bring that enthusiasm to everything we do.”

outside patio. Once inside, they enter two luxurious smoking rooms that seat up to 25 each. Adjacent to the second lounge area is a full-service bar that comfortably seats 55 guests. There are two VIP rooms, the Clemente Lounge (named after Pittsburgh Pirates legend Roberto Clemente) and the Rooney Lounge—so named in honor of Art Rooney, the colorful owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers form 1933 to 1974. “Pittsburgh is a sports town,” says Milinkovic, “so we have Pirates and Steelers games on any of the seven large-screen TVs that are throughout the lounge.” As for Burn’s humidor, “It’s awesome,” he says. “We probably have about 70,000 individual cigars. I’d say we have about 65 percent Rocky Patels, but we carry anything else you could want, too.” The lounge also sells smoking accessories—cutters, lighters, pouches—along with Rocky Patel-branded apparel. In addition to cigars and spirits, Burn also serves as a restaurant and was recently ranked by OpenTable as one of the “Top 5 best-dining and late-night experiences” in Pittsburgh. “Our menu is outstanding,” says Milinkovic. “Premium steaks and seafood, sandwiches—you can linger over your meal or just grab a quick bite. Our bar and restaurant bring in more women than if we were just your typical cigar bar, and we’re very pleased about that. Burn is a place where you can come in, relax and have a beautiful time. We’re thrilled at how we’ve been accepted by the community.”

Even before customers enter the Burn lounge, their eyes will be dazzled by the teal, black and white color scheme of the WWW.CIGARANDSPIRITS.COM

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SILVER LEAF CIGAR LOUNGE

RHUMBAR

Fort Worth, TX Owner: Tom Cavinder

Las Vegas, NV Owners: Michael Frey and Craig Gilbert

silverleafcigar.com

rhumbarlv.com

CASA DE MONTECRISTO BY TAMPA HUMIDOR—SOHO

Tampa, FL Regional Operations Manager: Gaston Rousselot

Washington, D.C. Director of Food and Beverage: David Fascitelli

casademontecristo.com/soho

CLUB MACANUDO

New York, NY General Manager: Gavin Murphy clubmacanudo.com

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QUILL AT THE JEFFERSON

jeffersondc.com

Photos courtesy of Casa de Montecristo by Tampa Humidor—Soho, Silver Leaf Cigar Lounge, RHUMBAR, the Jefferson Hotel and Club Macanudo.

LOUNGE LOOK BACK: 2018 FAVE LOUNGES WE LIVED BY


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The great and the good of stage, screen and commerce swim in and out of this pool of contentment, which is just one of the reasons it’s a good idea to wile away your free time here if the chance arises. Royal chefs, movie stars, politicians, sportsmen and a roll call of simply extraordinary people class among the shop friends. So much so, that at times it’s hard to part a Sahakian from its hunting ground. Each time we prepare to leave, Edward meets an old friend; a Bishop here, a pillar of the community there. Eddie steps in to help with a customer query or to pack a homeward-bound parcel. >> Edward Sahakian, Nick Hammond and Eddie Sahakian. A triumphant triumvirate. Our writer at Davidoff of London after lunch with the Sahakians.

Lounge Life Stories Spotlight

LUNCH AND LEGACY WITH

THE SAHAKIANS by Nick Hammond

NICK HAMMOND, our British Brother of the Leaf, enjoys a suitably sophisticated lunch with a celebrated father and son cigar team and talks life, love and pleasures of the cigar universe… The Sahakians are cigar royalty. They would demur, but they are, nonetheless. Edward Sahakian launched Davidoff of London—with the official blessing of Zino Davidoff himself in 1980. He has since risen to become a colossus of the world’s cigar scene. He studiously laid down box after box of his favourite Cuban cigars. His choices have proved to be astute. Vintage and collectible cigars now form a large part of Davidoff of London’s business in this most cosmopolitan of cities. Cigar lovers from across the globe make a beeline for this little shop of delights on the corner of the famous St James’s and Jermyn Streets. Edward’s son, Eddie, carved his own way in the world in high-powered banking. But inevitably, inexorably, the tidal pull of the family business proved too much to resist. He has now been a part of the fixtures and fittings for many years. The pair are gentlemen of the highest order. No trifling matter is too small for their courteous attention; no customer seeking a little cigar for a post prandial moment of relaxation is beneath them. I’ve been fortunate enough to call them friends for years and time spent in their company is always treasured. Which is why a long-discussed, oftpostponed lunch with the Sahakians is an event worthy of special attention. So, I move mountains, shift diaries, cancel meetings and board if not plane then certainly train and automobile to be with them on a bright, chilly autumn late morning. I arrive purposefully early and I don’t announce myself to the Royal Court at once. This is so I can take residence in one of two wingback chairs at the back of the shop and soak up the special brand of Davidoff charm that this wonderful old store simply oozes. If they could bottle it, this indefinable atmosphere would outsell all the cigars, lighters, cutters, fancy brollies, walking sticks, humidors and tobacco in the shop.

The sun is high and splashing Mayfair’s pavements with warmth by the time I manage to extract them from their lair. A short stroll up the road takes us to the discreet Georgian townhouse which is Mark’s Club. It’s a private club for discerning members. Sharp-eyed readers may recall my Cigar & Spirits Magazine piece on its Manager and cigar specialist, Darius Namdar, who is the current holder of the coveted Habanos Sommelier of the Year title. Up the stairs and through the elegant ‘living room’ lies the Club terrace; a tasteful conservatory where one can dine, chat and yes, smoke in companionable peace. But before thoughts turn to the second smoke of the day, we are in for a gustative treat. Dining here is always memorable. In the company of Eddie and Edward, Champagne is virtually obligatory (except for the remarkably restrained Eddie who lives, apart from his love of a cigar, an admirably clean existence). Edward is more than happy to accompany me, however. He helps me too with a mollusc or two; native oysters, as fresh and invigorating as a coastal high tide. Inevitably, we talk cigars, among other things. There are some interesting observations on current production and always an anecdote or two on cigar adventures past. Also, inevitably, friends, colleagues, customers and wellwishers also punctuate our long lunch. Despite his protestations that he’s on a diet, Edward does his best to sample a little of everything on the menu. He charms the waitress, orders special dishes, offers his lunch for comparison and tells an outrageous story about chillies. It seems to me that we have, as a nation, lost much of this art of conversation over a languorous meal. I realise, of course, the reasons for this in today’s fastpaced world. But I note that the Italians still prize it; the French can excel at the right moment. Cubans for sure indulge in familial dining on a daily basis. It is a joy. The sun lowers and blinds are pulled a little further, but our talk goes on; family, work, plans for the future, reminiscences of old friends, the subtle imparting of hard-earned knowledge. Champagne flows, an extraordinary cinnamon souffle is devoured and a trio of Cohiba Siglo Vis—aged, of course— are lit and savoured. I wish you could have been there. It was one of those rare afternoons that stretches time itself, bending and shifting as quickly as our thoughts and the curls of smoke that emanate from our smouldering cigars. The day is closing in when we eventually saunter out, calling goodbyes and walking in peaceable silence back to the shop, which now glows alluringly in the gloom. Lunch with the Sahakians is a delight, an honour and a pleasure; a moment of sanity in a pre-occupied and sometimes seemingly crazy world. I’m most grateful for it. And for them.

A Por Larranaga Montecarlo is the aperitif of the day; an elegant and light smoke to kickstart a special afternoon. I’m caught in my act of brazen admiration before I’m half way through; Eddie pops upstairs on an errand and spots me enjoying the peace. “Hello Nick!” he says. “I didn’t know you were here.” And so, it begins. There’s nothing these two don’t know about tasting cigars. I emphasise the word tasting. They have an encyclopedic knowledge of which marques and

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Nick Hammond is the UK’s premier cigar writer, a winner of the inaugural Spectator Cigar Writer of the Year Award and a regular contributor to cigar publications around the world. He also writes extensively on travel, luxury, food, drink and The Good Life.

Photos courtesy of SAHAKIAN CIGAR SHOP

vitolas are smoking well at any given moment. They regularly dip into the vast horde of Cuban cigars sleeping down in the vaults (I’ve been lucky enough to have a lengthy peek at the stores, which are mouth-watering in the extreme). They host regular pairings events, both in the shop and in the Sahakian Cigar Lounge, which is artfully housed in the luxurious Bulgari Hotel a brisk walk away in Knightsbridge.


Photos courtesy of Casa de Montecristo by Cigar Inn

CASA DE MONTECRISTO BY CIGAR INN —MANHATTAN 2ND AVENUE New York, NY General Manager: Seanna Tobin

casademontecristo.com/manhattan-2nd-ave/ In addition to serving as general manager of the Casa De Montecristo by Cigar Inn—Manhattan 2nd Avenue, Seanna Tobin also oversees the company’s cigar room on 73rd Street in New York City. She’s been with the organization since 2016, but has been in the cigar business for 18 years. “I was the national account sales manager for General Cigar, so that’s where I really got to know the ins and outs of cigars,” she says. “When I first got into marketing cigars, I wasn’t a smoker,” she continues. “But pretty quickly I got into it. My bosses would turn me on to different cigars to try out, and there would be lots of cigars and alcohol at dinners. I found that I really liked smoking, and I developed a very sharp taste for cigars. I could tell what was good and what wasn’t.” Tobin describes the ambience of the 2nd Avenue lounge as being “It’s almost like you’re in the bar at Cheers—very family oriented. You can come in and feel like you’re sitting down with friends. We have some of the best employees around. They really know their stuff, and they love engaging with the customers. We have regulars and tons of repeat guests. Tourists will come in and say, ‘I was here two years ago, and I just had to come back because I had the best time.’ That always means a lot.”

The layout of the lounge is decidedly simple—one long room that can comfortably seat up to 125 guests. There are eight TVs situated about the lounge, allowing customers to watch sports or the news. Soft drinks are available, as are coffee and espresso (“We’re cheaper than Starbucks,” Tobin quips). While the lounge doesn’t feature a bar, Tobin says that a discreet BYOB policy is in place. “We don’t come out and say it, but it’s OK if you want to bring something.” Over 800 cigar options are offered inside the lounge’s humidor, and Tobin says that customers are never at a loss for a selection. “Some people are pretty strict about what they smoke: ‘I only want Padrons,’ or ‘It’s Montecristo or nothing.’ But a lot of people want us to suggest new cigars to them. The other day, I turned somebody on to a new Romeo y Julieta and said, ‘If you don’t like it, it’s on me.’ He loved it and sat here for three hours smoking it.” The 2nd Ave lounge features live music every other Wednesday—sometimes it’s a singer doing a Frank Sinatra night; other times it’s R&B, jazz or Cuban music. “We do different events, and sometimes we rent the space out for private parties. The NYPD and FDNY come in. We love to hold events for our brave people who protect the city. They know they’re family here, too. We take our New York roots very seriously, but we welcome everybody.”

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Photos courtesy of Casa de Montecristo by Serious Cigars

CASA DE MONTECRISTO BY SERIOUS CIGARS—JFK Houston, TX General Manager: Ryan Rayford casademontecristo.com/jfk “We’re able to be all things to all people,” says Ryan Rayford, general manager of Casa De Montecristo by Serious Cigars— JFK lounge in Houston. “We’re located close to the airport and hotels, so we get a lot of travelers. They need a break and they come here for a few hours. But then we have a large group of regulars, and they kind of treat the place like their second office or their home away from home. They come in first thing in the morning and do their work while having a cigar, or they come in during their lunch breaks. They always find a friendly, inviting vibe.” The Houston-based lounge has been in existence for four years and was originally called Serious Cigars before Casa de Montecristo took it over in 2016. Rayford, who became GM last February, notes that local cigar enthusiasts aren’t lacking for choices in smoking rooms. “If anything, it’s a motivating force for us,” he says. “A lot of the other places treat the customers like, ‘You’re in our shop.’ Our attitude is, ‘This is your shop.’ We get to know our people. They come in and talk sports or politics with us. We catch up on their daily goings on. It kind of feels like family here.” Clean, uncluttered aesthetics great each customer as they enter the lounge. The main smoking room features a variety of comfy leather chairs, and guests can watch sports or the news on any of the six flat-screen TVs situated throughout the room. “During the first half of the day, it tends to be a little quiet,” says Rayford. “In the later day or the day and into the evening, it gets more social. That’s when the game table comes out— people play cards or board games.”

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The lounge doesn’t have a VIP room, but it does offer lockers to members. And there are two Keurig coffee machines. “You don’t have to hit Starbucks before you come here,” Rayford observes. “If you want a cappuccino or an espresso with your cigar, no problem. We’ll make it for you.” As for the humidor, “It’s well stocked all the time,” Rayford enthuses. “We’ve got six islands and big walls filled with all the best smokes. Some places make it very hard for you to find what you want, but we have everything laid out so that you can find what you want quickly and easily. Fuentes, Padrons, Rocky Patels, Olivas—you name it, we’ve got it.” The humidor even has a TV screen than runs a slideshow of each week’s promos. “People might be going to by one cigar, but they stop and look at the TV and they go, ‘Oh, wow. I might have to try that.’” In keeping with the lounge’s “feel good” atmosphere, there are events almost each week, with DJs, food and complimentary beverages. In addition, the room holds a regular Ladies Night, which attracts a good number of women who work at the nearby airport. “That’s been one of the best things about working here, seeing all the different types of people who are brought together by their love of cigars,” Rayford says. “No matter what gender they are or what tax bracket they’re from, they say to somebody else, ‘Hey, what are you smoking?’ And suddenly they’re having a conversation. We’re the place where they can establish that common ground.”

New Jersey native Joe Bosso is obsessed with movies of the ‘70s, music of the ‘60s and cigars of any vintage. A graduate of NYU film school, Joe has written for TV shows you definitely know (like The Sopranos) and a few you might have missed. He spent 10 years in the record business and actually got to see a rock star trash a hotel room (identity withheld because, well, you know...).


it’ll knock your boots off

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FEATURE

WINTER ALES THAT WARM FROM THE INSIDE OUT by Julie Harrington Giffin

eginning with a single grain, breweries malt, mash, boil, ferment, bottle and age seasonal brews capturing the warm familiar flavors synonymous with wintertime. Rich and creamy—winter warmers have a bountiful malt presence and are meant to be sipped a shade on the warmer side to highlight their seasonal spices and diverse flavors. Winter brews are hybrids due to variations in production that produce substantial ales, impart seasonal flavorings and have higher ABV percentages. Stripped down, however, these limited beverages are your fundamental beer made from glorious grains and hops. Winter ales certainly aren’t shy on taste but they are shy on production—with limited rvteleases often maxing out at three months. If you’re not expedient with your purchase you may have to wait until the following season to enjoy these refreshing winter tastes. The following seasonal flavor favorites are aromatic, palate pleasing, and will warm you from the inside out.

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Photo courtesy of shutterstock.com

COLD BREW, WARM SPIRIT

B


ANCHOR BREWING CHRISTMAS ALE San Francisco, CA 6.9% ABV anchorbrewing.com Anchor Brewery’s 147-year history is a testament to resiliency. From 1871 to the mid 1970’s, the company survived the deaths of its co-owners within one year, endured a catastrophic earthquake, braved two brewery-destroying fires, continued production after a hiatus of thirteen years during prohibition, experienced three effective shut-downs, and overcame imminent bankruptcy in 1965. Fortunately, the brewery was sold for a few thousand dollars to Fritz Maytag. In 1971, he bottled Anchor Steam and the rest is history. The company is highly regarded as a pioneer of craft brewing. Anchor Brewing created the first American holiday expression since prohibition in 1975. Forty-four years later, the brand continues its tradition of their annual holiday release. The 2018 Christmas Ale overflows aromatically and flavorfully with holiday decadence. Sweet nutmeg, caramel, and brown sugar spices dominate the nose while spice and muddled sugars coat the palate with creamy sweetness. Yearly, Anchor Brewing brings an exciting new recipe accompanied by a newly-designed label. Jim Stitt has created 44 different Christmas Ale labels beginning with the first release in 1975, all of which can be viewed on the Anchor Brewing website.

SAMUEL ADAMS WINTER LAGER Boston, MA 5.6% ABV samueladams.com

John Koch just may know a thing or two about beer. He is the founder of Samuel Adams Brewery and his brand has garnered over three thousand awards through the development of his extensive product line. From the original batch of Boston Lager made in his own kitchen in the early 1980’s, John has continued on a path of innovation as a pioneer in the craft beer movement. The Samuel Adams Spiced Wheat Winter Lager is a festive experience of poised seasonal character. Crystal amber in color, the nose is bright with orange peel, cinnamon spice, and ginger. Exhibiting a medium to full body, this expression is malty with bitter chocolate and orange up front, followed by a cinnamon-orange sweetness and spiced ginger floral finish. It has light but pleasing carbonation and a lower ABV than most winter beers. Samuel Adams succeeds in producing a solid and satisfying wheat winter lager that is warm in spirit and full of flavor. Tip: Check out John Koch’s ale tome—Quenching Your Thirst.

Photos courtesy of Anchor Brewing, Samuel Adams, Anderson Valley Brewing Company and Deschutes Brewery.

DESCHUTES BREWERY JUBELALE —A FESTIVE WINTER ALE

ANDERSON VALLEY BREWING CO —WINTER SOLSTICE SEASONAL ALE

Bend, OR 6.7% ABV

Booneville, CA 6.9% ABV

deschutesbrewery.com

avbc.com In just over three decades of brewing craft beer, Anderson Valley Brewery produces some of the most innovative craft beers in the country, and their Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale is no exception. It’s their personal interpretation of what a winter warmer ale should be. It begins with a deep amber pour, moderate to high carbonation, and a quickly dissipating off-white head. The nose remains true to the palate with ample toffee, caramel, winter spice, and a malty overtone providing an elegant, creamy mouth-feel full of flavor and body. True to its name, this year’s Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale is a celebration of winter flavors.

2018 captures the 31st bottling of Deschutes Brewery famed Jubelale and it doesn’t disappoint. Staying true to its original flavor profile 31 years strong, Jubelale is an outstanding winter warmer packed with seasonal flavors of rich cocoa, toffee, dried dark fruits, and warm spice. Deep garnet to dark auburn in color, Jubelale is an immensely satisfying, full-bodied ale with optimal viscosity for a lingering chocolate-orange zest finish. Deschutes Jubelale is as close to perfection as you’ll get with a winter beer, but don’t take my word for it, the proof is in the bottle.

FREMONT BREWING IMPERIAL WINTER ALE Seattle, WA 8.0% ABV fremontbrewing.com Passion is the driving force behind this young brewery’s success. Fremont Brewing Company opened its doors in 2009 with a sustainability-focused operation environmentally, socially and economically. Their conservation impact has awarded them the Green Sustainable Business Award of 2018 and their extensive line of award-winning beer is a testament to their support of high quality, locally grown ingredients of organic hops, and grains. Their passion is evident in the unique tastes found in their Imperial Winter Ale. With dark chocolate, fig and winter spice on the nose, and palate-pleasing molasses, coffee, and roasted malts nicely intertwined. WWW.CIGARANDSPIRITS.COM

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FIRESTONE WALKER XXII ANNIVERSARY BLEND Paso Robles, CA 12.7% ABV firestonebeer.com A powerhouse of barrel-aged blends; the origins of XXII began in 2006 with the release of X to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the brewery. Twelve years later, these robust oak ales are released annually with great anticipation and fanfare. The Anniversary Blend is an annual uniting of the brewery’s esteemed winemaking friends who welcome the friendly competition of producing the best blend worthy of Firestone Walker’s new anniversary edition. Top brewers are divided into four teams of master blenders and they work to produce a crowned winner from those diverse ale hopefuls—each concoction is aged in spirits barrels to boot. After blind tastings, which include Firestone Walker’s founders and Brewmaster, the winning blend is chosen. The XXII is indeed unique with a botanical twist from gin barrels, an appropriate juniper berry essence celebrating the winter season. The final winning top blend is from bourbon, rum and gin barrel aged beers and should be enjoyed in a snifter or wine glass at a moderately warm 55º F to capture the fullest flavor.

ELYSIAN BREWING BIFROST WINTER ALE Seattle, WA 8.3% ABV elysianbrewing.com Since their debut in 1996, Elysian Brewing has been the three-time recipient of the Large Brewpub of the Year award at the Great American Beer Festival. Having brewed over 350 different recipes, Elysian Brewing is known for their seasonal pumpkin beers but with the change of seasons from fall to winter, the annual release of their bold and lively Bifrost Winter Ale takes center stage. Hazy orange gold in color, Bifrost offers an enticing aroma of baked caramel apple with orange zest and holiday spice. A hearty body with nice carbonation, the palate is greeted with caramel malt, bright orange citrus, a hint of earthy hops, and finishes with a bittersweet spice. The creamy mouth-feel followed by a slightly dry finish works well with this winter winner. Enticing aromas and subtle complexities, this pale ale is nicely balanced and immensely enjoyable.

Frederick, MD 6.0% ABV flyingdog.com This beer begins with that old familiar bar joke storyline of “three guys walk into a room…” Literally, three friends walked into a hotel room in Pakistan after summiting K2 and Flying Dog was born. The story is a bit deeper than that but you catch my drift. Kujo Cold Brew Coffee Porter doesn’t exactly portray the white, glistening, snowy images of the winter season, but you’ll be hard pressed to deny this porter style beer does the job of igniting your inner fire during the cold winter months. And besides, a porter is the perfect pairing with a hearty winter meal. Rich and intense, Kujo Cold Brew pours an intense dark black-brown malt. A wave of deep rich coffee aroma is immediately evident and remains dominant on the palate. The next wave delivers creamy chocolate, vanilla, and earthy hops. Contrary to what you’d expect, the body is of medium intensity with ample carbonation, and easy drinkability. This winter porter should definitely make an appearance in your fireside drink repertoire. It’s deliciously brewed with roasted Columbia La Caturrita coffee beans from the Vigilante Coffee Company.

Julie Harrington Giffin (aka Agave Love) is a Certified Mezcalier. Her branding and editorial originality is delivered with a charismatic and sophisticated confidence. Julie encourages the exploration of life’s more “spirited” pleasures to one and all.

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Photos courtesy of Firestone, Elysian Brewing, Flying Dog and Fremont Brewing

FLYING DOG KUJO COLD BREW COFFEE PORTER


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ON THE COVER

G-EAZY

DOES IT

by Randy Mastronicola | portraits by John Russo

G-EAZY IS A SUPERSTAR—AND HE KNOWS IT. THIS IS USUALLY NOT A GOOD THING FOR A YOUNG MUSICIAN. A CRASH AND BURN OFTEN SEEMS IMMINENT. BUT NOT IN THIS CASE.

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IT’S A REALLY COOL THING WHEN YOU BUILD A FAN BASE LIKE THAT, AND YOU THINK ABOUT THE LOYALTY—YOU THINK ABOUT HOW MUCH THEY CARE ABOUT WHAT I CREATE. IT’S REALLY ONE OF THE COOLEST THINGS IN THE WORLD TO HAVE AN AUDIENCE LIKE THAT.

I SPENT AN AFTERNOON with G-Eazy (He was born Gerald Earl Gillum.) shooting pics and shooting whatever else, learning about his vision of the future. He’s got swagger, and you know that if you’ve seen him in concert. He’s got the chops, and you know that if you’ve listened to the inherent smarts and beauty in some of his lyrics. There are many millions of followers on his social media who will attest to that as well. He’s as real deal as it gets in the music industry—living his dream—recording, producing and touring as a major act. G-Eazy’s been lighting up the boards since 2014 when he came into the public consciousness with his distinct brand of street and sexy rap/hip-hop. His first major album, These Things Happen, kicked off a big year. He would take off from there. In late 2015, When It’s Dark Out, blew up with the massive single Me, Myself and I. In 2017, he achieved major critical acclaim in a big way with The Beautiful and the Damned. He spent the next year of his life giving it his all on a major world tour.

Multi-platinum doesn’t come easy but he’s been making it look that way for a few years now. Get to know him a bit, and you can appreciate all the blood, sweat and tears it took to get him to that point. We met up at the Stillhouse Spirits Co. corporate offices just after his Endless Summer tour concluded. (Besides being a hip-hop artist, he’s a Partner and Co-Creative Director of a whiskey brand.)

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Photo Courtesy of Jessica Padover

Randy Mastronicola: Congratulations on your success in 2018. G-Eazy: Thank you so much.

Please tell us about what you have in the hopper, maybe for the first half of 2019? I’m excited for this next phase, this next chapter of my book. So much of the work I’ve put in over the last 10-plus years has been to build a platform where I could stand on top of and speak from. I think that’s what most creatives want, ideally, is an audience on the other side or a platform to deliver from. If you think about 2018, my album [The Beautiful and the Damned] came out at the very end of 2017 but I spent most of 2018 touring that album.

The album was a benchmark moment in your career… That album was a huge moment for me because it was my third album. I was coming off the success of the last one— with this huge pop hit, Me, Myself & I—but with that pressure, comes a greater expectation of doing it again. I was blessed enough to travel the world playing songs from that album and performing for people. It’s a really cool thing when you build a fan base like that, and you think about the loyalty— you think about how much they care about what I create. It’s really one of the coolest things in the world to have an audience like that.

Some people might look at your success and say, “How did he go from selling mixed tapes on Fifth Avenue in Oakland to becoming this superstar in such a short time?” Like it’s happenstance—there’s so much hard work and intent. How does that inform you, staying connected to that grassroots approach as you build your career? I think staying in touch with your audience is one of the most important things to think about on this journey. Even though we change and evolve as people, as human beings in our experience, it’s very important to remember where you came from—to remind yourself of it. Life has turbulence from making all these dreams come true and how life changing that can be. It’s important to stay humble and to remember where it all started. That’s just one of those things because it hits to your core— when you express that identity through your work, that’s the reason why people connect with your story. You have to keep track of that identity, and never lose your own connection to it. So much of that is where you’re from and what made you.

Talk a little bit about your creative process—in terms of where your inspiration comes from. How you catch lightning in a bottle again—that creative force—how do you unleash that? The only way to get lightning in a bottle is let it come naturally. Leave that bottle open and wait for it to come in because you can’t force it. You can’t look too hard for it. That’s not the way it’s ever worked for me. I don’t think it’s worked that way for many people. I feel like every time I do an album—I have it all on the line. You live with that pressure. Ultimately, that pressure is what drives you if you want to succeed.

Gotta be open to the wonder of it all… Yes. I think, as an artist, a really important part is knowing when to listen and when to trust your gut. I’m lucky to have a really great team around me. There are times when I have to put my faith and trust in those guys. There are times when I have to follow my heart and stand up for what I believe in and make a decision. I’m the one at the front of the train.

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EVER SINCE I CAN REMEMBER, I ALWAYS WANTED TO CREATE—THAT DRIVE WAS ALWAYS INSIDE OF ME. I DON’T MEAN TO JUST CREATE AN ART PIECE OR A SONG, I MEAN CREATE IN TERMS OF A WHOLE LIFE, CREATING A VISION, CREATING A DREAM OF SOMETHING TO CHASE.

We’ve talked previously about how it’s sometimes difficult to embrace your uniqueness. Was there ever a point when you felt like, “Hey, this is really difficult for me to bare my soul in my lyrics and my stage performance…” Yes, for sure. There’ve been moments when I felt nervous about saying something in a song that’s really vulnerable or really honest, something that the world doesn’t know yet. Some things about my personal life or my personal history, or my personal feelings. Ever since I can remember, I always wanted to create—that drive was always inside of me. I don’t mean to just create an art piece or a song, I mean create in terms of a whole life, creating a vision, creating a dream of something to chase. Where that comes from, I don’t know. I think that’s just the stars, that’s just how you were born, and the spirit you possess is to imagine what doesn’t exist yet. They say, “You had a vision.” Vision is seeing what’s in front of you. For a long time, it was not in front of me, this life that I wanted, but I really imagined it and followed it.

I think it’s important to learn to accept yourself. So many people know that struggle. I know I did as a kid growing up in NYC. That’s something I’ve identified with in my life, my whole entire life. I’ve always felt like I stood out. What I saw as a curse when I was a kid—I later realized that it’s a blessing—that sometimes it can be better to stand out and how that can be a good thing for you and then learning to embrace it.

You’re still at relatively young stage in your career. Relatively young but I’m getting a little older, man. [laughs]

Aren’t we all? The creative process has a degree of divine intervention maybe—especially when an artist seems organically wise beyond their years. Do you see that in artists who’ve inspired you and see it in yourself? Now, there’s always been something in there. So many things that could’ve gone wrong or things that could have gotten in the way. You think about how many things have to go right—I guess the butterfly effect of it all—you count your blessings, and I’m grateful. Yes, it’s a lot of hard work but then it’s a lot of luck. The right doors have to open—the right opportunities presenting themselves at the right time, and all that lining up. Then, at the bottom of it all, what it boils down to is that feeling in your gut, that feeling in your gut after you’ve traveled this path, you’ve gotten to this point, and you have to take this big jump.

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THE LONGEVITY OF A CAREER THAT YOU STUDY AND ADMIRE AND WANT TO FOLLOW— YOU HAVE TO WORK AT A PACE SO YOU CAN KEEP IT UP.

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The hard work is very deep. The hard work is bearing your soul in front of all these people and finding the confidence to do that. That living on the edge, the nerves that comes with it, drives me. I’ve seen that part of it cripple people. I’ve seen that part of it motivate people, and I’ve always wanted to be on that side of it. It takes strength. It takes confidence, and there’s certain things that you just have to do.

Are there any other art forms that you could see yourself in? I know you’ve done some modeling and acting. I would love to get into acting more. We’ve always talked about it internally on my team, exploring the possibilities. I feel like it’s something that would come to me if I worked at it. I’ve always loved tapping into different characters and telling these stories in music. That’s something I’d love to explore down the line with acting, but it’s tough. Going over my schedule with my team and putting it all together and balancing it all—it’s a constant challenge. You remind yourself what it was like when these opportunities weren’t just falling out of the sky—when I was broke and like working my ass off. Dreaming about being on tour, dreaming about flying out for shows, dreaming about shooting the covers of magazines.

Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Yes, take it. [laughs]

Exactly, whatever that represents to any individual. That’s ambiguous, it means different things to different people. Everything is relative. What seems like a big deal or something that’s insignificant to one person, could be life-changing to another, and have had that significance or an effect on whatever. Follow your heart. I know that sounds cliché, but you got to know in your heart of hearts, ya gotta know.

Circling back to inspiration and influences…we’re both huge Johnny Cash fans. Who else influenced you? Or look back, or present and say, “Ahh, would be great to work with…” Obviously, I would have loved to work with Tupac Shakur. I think his level of vulnerability and storytelling made him truly special. Also, how he shared songs with other artists and the way they would go back and forth like two of America’s Most Wanted—him and Snoop Dogg trading verses, interweaving each other’s flows—and how their voices complemented each other. I think he’s one of the greatest of all time. That goes without saying.

What about current artists? Today, I just think Drake is probably the best we’ll ever see. I saw his concert the other night. I told him afterwards, “It’s just inspiring.” How long his run has been and how this level of success is just unprecedented. It’s one of those things that gets better every time. You think “this is it,” and then he grows and it continues. The longevity of a career that you study and admire and want to follow— you have to work at a pace so you can keep it up. If you’re sprinting, that’s cool, but you’re going to get tired. You have to work at a pace that’s sustainable. I’d rather be able to jog for hours than sprint for five minutes.

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TALKIN’ STILLHOUSE SPIRITS

WITH CEO & FOUNDER BRAD BECKERMAN AND PARTNER/CO-CREATIVE DIRECTOR G-EAZY… Randy Mastronicola: Brad, you’re a serial entrepreneur. Talk to us a bit about how Stillhouse came into your life. Brad Beckerman: Oh man, it was one of those things—it was a moment in time when you realize there’s a void in the marketplace. That void was the ability to have something undeniably different, and so we pivoted. We pivoted in saying, “Okay. We’re going to come up with something uniquely different.” G-Eazy is uniquely different. Something that wasn’t just like a gimmick. There was a true function to this. The void we were initially able to fill is this idea about affordability, “Goes where glass can’t go, right?” G-Eazy: It’s always been a balance of making it premium but making it accessible. There’s a tug of war at times because you want to make the nicest thing in the world, but then that drives the cost up. You want to keep costs down. That’s the art of it—the beauty of it—because Brad and I both care. That’s our gift and our curse sometimes because it keeps us up at night, and it drives us crazy. We’re never truly satisfied, but at the same time, it’s what drives us to try to give you a finished product that counts. In keeping with the theme—your expressions are unique. Brad, walk us through a few… Brad Beckerman: Right on. Let’s start with our OG, our original whiskey. It’s a 100% corn whiskey. We make this in Columbia, Tennessee. Limestone water, local corn, 80 proof, easy to drink, super smooth, and it’s mixable. We have five expressions of flavor and the flavors are slightly lower proof. Our Apple Crisp whiskey—these are 69 proof. They’re easy to drink, rocks, chilled—we have a Peach Tea Whiskey. This is a smooth one, too. We can do Peach Tea all day long. Again, all of them are super easy to drink—very mixable. By the way, our products are all-natural and gluten-free. No artificial flavors or colors or anything. Our Coconut Whiskey, this is really interesting, it mixes crazy in a colada—we’ve done frozen milkshakes, we’ve done them with espresso martinis—all different things. It’s really different, and you wouldn’t typically think of doing that with a whiskey. Who’s the mint chip enthusiast? Brad Beckerman: I think from a flavor perspective, when G-Eazy and I first connected, he loves mint chip ice cream. We were all kind of like—this is delicious. It makes a great mint chip mojito. On a summer evening, smoking a cigar… Brad Beckerman: Why not? It’s interesting about cigars—I’ve taken cigars and actually let the ends sit and soak in the Apple, and it’s really interesting. It’s really good. A little bit of an infusion. Brad Beckerman: Yes, exactly. The Spice Cherry Whiskey—we go Spice Cherry and a cola. It’s just easy. The thing about all of our flavors, in the original, it’s made to be easy to drink, smooth, no burn. It’s simple. I think too many things are over complicated. We’re not trying to be an over complicated brand. Have you guys collaborated on a blend together yet? Brad Beckerman: Yes, our Black Bourbon. The thing about our Black Bourbon, besides the packaging itself—which is a matte black stainless steel can—this cap is made out of a solid steel piece. It’s got some weight to it, which was one of G’s biggest things. He was spot on with this, and we wanted to offer more of a premium nature, more than even our Red.

I love the bad-ass look to the can… G-Eazy: Oh, man. I’ll tell you, we were having all these meetings going over the black can, which was like a passion project for me personally. I remember when we got the can right—we’re at lunch and we have 30 samples—the restaurant staff and the waiters are coming around like, “What are all these cans on your table? When I saw it in real life and how they connected—I was like, “Oh, my God.” Brad Beckerman: That was an awesome moment. You can visualize Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings—guys like that swiggin’ out of that can. G-Eazy: And G-Eazy. Brad Beckerman: The Black is a two-year blended bourbon. The unique thing about this, Black Bourbon isn’t just called black because of the color. It’s a nod to the coffee. We let it mellow and rest in small batches of coffee beans, and it gives a very unique kind of flavor and smokiness. There’s no coffee in there, and there’s no caffeine. It’s literally the beans. We put it in a special way, let it sit in the whiskey for our own proprietary period of time. It’s super smooth and easy. It just enhanced the blend. Brad Beckerman: Exactly. It enhanced the blend. The other thing we talked about filling the void, “Goes where glass can’t go.” That’s real, right? You’re not going to do that with anything else. I love dropping the can on the ground and watching the reactions. You guys know how to make this fun. It reminds me of David Letterman—when he would chuck stuff off the roof just because he could. Brad Beckerman: I know what you’re talking about. [laughs] It’s been great. We also make these in what we call a rodeo pocket size—it fits in your pocket—so great. G-Eazy: It’s like, if you take that flask out—it’s ready to go. Very cool. Thank you both for taking the time today and letting our readers know about your lines. Much luck in the New Year—Stillhouse and beyond… Brad Beckerman: Right on. Thank you so much. G-Eazy: Yes, thank you.

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2ND ALTADIS AD. IF THIS DOESNT COME IN I WILL EXPAND G EAZY TO A SPREAD HERE.

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The brand continues to grow at a fast rate. The reach and sales—the whole entire perception has climbed high on the mountain of the spirits business so fast. The same thing for my music. I’ve made a lot of music in the past year that I’m proud of. Something I feel that truly matters and that has an audience connection.

You once said that if you were a whiskey— you would be Stillhouse. I did. [laughs]

Indulge me, let’s go a little bit left of that—if you were a novel, which novel would you be? Which novel would I be? The Outsiders. It’s a classic.

Of course. Ponyboy, stay gold. Stay gold, man.

If you were a sports team, which team would you be? The Golden State Warriors, baby.

That one was a no-brainer given where you come from. That was a layup. See what I did there?

Exactly. [laughs] If you were an automobile? I mean, as bad as I want to say my Ferrari, that sounds really cool but I’ll go with my ’65 Mustang. I idolize that car because my uncle drove it and I looked up to him, and he’s got half a million miles on his. It’s like those classic cars are just so durable and dependable, and they just run, they just drive. Of course, she’s had her problems. [laughs]

Of course. Anything with a little age on it has some problems, trust me. It comes with character.

Thank you so much for being our first 2019 interview and kicking off the New Year. Thank you, brother.

Randy Mastronicola is the Editor-in-Chief of Cigar & Spirits Magazine.

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Photo Courtesy of Jessica Padover

Your whiskey brand is called Stillhouse. How is that coming along?


Discover

the

uniquely mystical

flavors of

Burma

burmesetobaccotrading.com

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VICES

CIGAR & SPIRITS MAGAZINE'S

TOP 20 CIGARS 2018

RATINGS ARE THE AVERAGE BASED ON A BLIND TASTING OF EACH CIGAR BY OUR EXPERT PANEL OF EIGHT CIGAR CONNOISSEURS, WHO TOGETHER POSSESS MORE THAN 100 YEARS OF CIGAR-SMOKING EXPERIENCE.

#1

ROCKY PATEL SPECIAL EDITION TORO 6.5 x 52 Wrapper: Ecuador Habano Binder: Double Binder Filler: Nicaragua

RATED CIGAR OF 2018

Tasting Notes: A medium to full-bodied profile, that produces a rich well-balanced array of savory flavors, greeting the senses with hints of spice, pepper, nutmeg, coffee and a naturally sweet finish.

To provide feedback on any of the ratings, or to offer your own opinions on any of the cigars featured, write us at: feedback@cigarandspirits.com. Follow us on Facebook & Twitter and leave your comments: www.facebook.com/cigarandspiritsmagazine

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@CigarSpiritsMag


Medium to f rich chocol coffee, spic

tasting

FILLER

#6

RATED CIGAR OF 2018

LA AURORA 107 TORO

5 ½ x 54 Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sungrown Binder: Dominican Corojo Filler: Dominican & Nicaraguan

___________________________

Tasting Notes: A perfect medium plus cigar with loads of citrus sensations. Spices, cocoa and anise are evident about midway through the body of the cigar and it finishes robustly with hints dark chocolate and toasted nuts

Nicaraguan

WRAPPER: Natural,

RATED CIGAR OF 2018

6 1/12” x 50 Wrapper: Brazilian Cuba Binder: Mexican San Andres Filler: Dominican

PADRON FAMILY RESERVE 50 YEARS 5 x 54

#7

LA FLOR DOMINICANA LA NOX

PADRON

Tasting Notes: A natural medium cigar with wonderful construction and an elegant oily wrapper. Rich with spice and sweetness with a delicious finish.

Tasting Notes: Dark in appearance and in flavor, La Nox features a sweet Brazilian maduro wrapper, a San Andrés binder and a blend of Dominican Piloto and Pelo de Oro fillers. It’s smooth smoke and rich flavor were crafted for elegance and power.

#8

RATED CIGAR OF 2018

Nicaraguan

FILLER: Dominican and FILLER: Nicaraguan

Full-bodied yet smooth; sweet Nicaraguan with mocha,FILLER: hint of oak, some Criollo 98 spice

Olor

BINDER: Nicaraguan

6 ¼” x 54 Wrapper: Nicaraguan Shade Grown (Japapa) Binder: Nicaraguan Filler: Nicaraguan

PDR CIGARS

PLASENCIA ALMA FUERTE NESTOR IV

BINDER: Dominican

5” x 56 Wrapper: Sun-grown Ecuadorian El Bajo Binder: Dominican Filler: Dominican

________________________ WRAPPER: Ecuadorean Maduro

JC NEWMAN DIAMOND CROWN MAXIMUS DOUBLE ROBUSTO #6

cigar ratings

RATED CIGAR OF 2018

Ecuadorean El Bajo

89

Tasting Notes: This medium-full dark cigar gets better and better every time you smoke one. It’s a wonderful combination of leather and oak offset by notes of raisins and cedar. Each easy draw of this dark cigar is rich with an oaky, cedar woodiness against notes of dried fruit. It finishes magnificently with red wine and sweet molasses tones.

Tasting Notes: Full-bodied yet smooth; sweet with mocha, hint of oat and some spice.

#5

5 XSun-grown 60 WRAPPER:

BOX WALDORF ______________________________

tasting notes:

DIAMOND CROWN ROOM 101 MAXIMUS DOUBLE ROBUSTO #6 ICHIBAN TINDER 5 x 56

Rich and creamy, medium to full-bodied, with hints of cocoa and hazelnut with earthy and leathery undertones

Ligero, Ligero Nicaragua, Criollo 98 Seco, Centro Fino Viso

7” x 54 Wrapper: USA-Conn. Habano Binder: Brazil Filler: Honduras, Nicaragua.

A CROP GORDO OSCURO 6 X 58

RATED CIGAR OF 2018

FILLER: Piloto Cubano

Maduro

#4

Ecuadorean

#3

RATED CIGAR OF 2018

BINDER: Habano

DREW ESTATE LIGA PRIVADA T52 CORONA DOBLE

WRAPPER: Mexican

______________________________

Tasting Notes: An attractive torpedo with a squarely pressed foot. Its lush draw delivers big notes of cedar, nuts and leather with a finish that smacks of cider. Tasty and complex.

FILLER:BINDER: Dominican Nicaraguan 98 tastingCriollo notes:

WRAPP

__________

___________________________ Arapiraca WRAPPER: Ecuadorean BINDER:Habano Dominican BINDE

jc newman

5 ¾ x 52 Wrapper: Cameroon Binder: Dominican Republic Filler: Dominican Republic.

BRICK MIGHT MADUR 6¼ x 6

90

Bold, mediu with rich spi flavors and s of dark choc

tasting

Ligero, Liger llo 98 Seco, C

FILLER:

BINDER:

Ecuadorean

Maduro

WRAPP

____________

GRAN TO 6½ X 56

RATED CIGAR OF 2018

ROBUSTO 5 X 52

head hunter

#2

ARTURO FUENTE DON CARLOS EYE OF THE SHARK

PADRÓN FAMILY RESERVE 50 YEARS 5” x 54 Wrapper: Natural Nicaraguan Binder: Nicaragua Filler: Nicaragua

Tasting Notes: Medium to full-bodied; notes of chocolate, coffee, earth and hints of cinnamon on the finish.

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ALTADIS U.S.A. MONTECRISTO ESPADA

#9

RATED CIGAR OF 2018

6” x 50 Wrapper: Habano Jalapa Vintage 2010 Binder: Habano Jalapa Vintage 2009 Filler: Habano Jalapa Seco Vintage 2008, Habano Jalapa Viso Ometepe Vintage 2008 and Habano Condega Ligero Vintage 2008 Tasting Notes: Tasting Notes for Montecristo Espada: An extremely well-balanced medium to full cigar, layered with rich, hearty notes of wood, pepper, coffee, cream, nuts, and sweetness with a cinnamon and spice finish.

#10

RATED CIGAR OF 2018

ALEC BRADLEY BLIND FAITH 6” x 52. Wrapper: Honduran Habano Binder: Honduran, Nicaraguan Filler: Nicaraguan

Tasting Notes: The Blind Faith is a beautifully constructed Honduran cigar. It’s a medium to full-bodied stick featuring elite quality Honduran wrapper, Honduran and Nicaraguan binder, and premium Nicaraguan filler comprised of Criollo ‘98 and Corojo ‘99.

#11

RATED CIGAR OF 2018

MY FATHER CIGARS LE BIJOU 1922 6” x 52 Wrapper: Habano O.O. (Oscuro-Oscuro) Binder: Nicaragua Filler: Nicaragua

Tasting Notes: Full-bodied, complex and robust, with notes of chocolate and leather. Sweet and salty on the finish.

#12

RATED CIGAR OF 2018

GENERAL CIGAR CO. MACANUDO INSPIRADO ORANGE 6” x 60 Wrapper: Honduran Binder: Honduran Filler: Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua

Tasting Notes: This sophisticated blend delivers a spicy, complex smoking experience ublike any other in the Macanudo portfolio.

#13

RATED CIGAR OF 2018

AGING ROOM PELO DE ORO 5.5” x 55 Wrapper: Nicaraguan Binder: Nicaraguan Pelo de Oro Filler: Nicaraguan Pelo de Oro

Tasting Notes: Pelo de Oro tobacco is well known for its distinctive flavor and body. Medium to full bodied smoke loaded within flavors of spice, oak, nuts and coffee beans.

#14

RATED CIGAR OF 2018

DAVIDOFF WINSTON CHURCHILL LIMITED EDITION 2016 THE RACONTEUR 6 x 56 Gran Toro Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano 2000 Binder: Mexican San Andrés Negro Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua

Tasting Notes: Just shy of Full strength, The Raconteur offers an instant creaminess followed by pepper, roasted nuts, oak wood, and hints of leather.

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Follow the music at: @agingroomcigars

Š2018 Aging Room Cigars


#15

RATED CIGAR OF 2018

OLIVA GILBERTO RESERVA 6” x 50 Wrapper: Sumatra Binder: Ecuador Filler: Nicaragua

Tasting Notes: Medium body and buttery smooth, with notes of earth, spice, cedar, sweet cream and leather.

GURKHA CELLAR RESERVE 15 YEAR 10TH ANNIVERSARY TORO

#16

RATED CIGAR OF 2018

6” x 52 Wrapper: Ecuador Binder: Nicaragua Filler: Nicaragua

Tasting Notes: Uniquely designed with an even cap and head makes for a very attractive cigar with wonderful construction. Notes of tea, baking spice, earth and minerals are interspersed with a buttery cream taste and a touch of graham cracker.

TATUAJE—BLACK PETITE LANCERO

#17

RATED CIGAR OF 2018

6” x 38 Wrapper: Nicaragua Binder: Nicaragua Filler: Nicaragua

Tasting Notes: This cigar is encased with a w luxurious alluring wrapper. It’s a smaller cigar of course, but sells big with notes of burgundy wine, wood and cocoa. It reveals itself with a pleasant finish showing complexity with dark chocolate, nuts and candied orange peel tastes.

#18

RATED CIGAR OF 2018

VENTURA CIGAR CO. ARCHETYPE AXIS MUNDI TORO 6” x 52 Wrapper: Maduro Habano Ecuador Binder: Indonesia Sumatra Filler: Habano Nicaragua

Tasting Notes: Full-bodied with layers of spice, dried figs, maple syrup and charred oak.

#19

RATED CIGAR OF 2018

THE T BY MATT BOOTH, A.J. FERNANDEZ, AND ROBERT CALDWELL 5” x 52 Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Binder: Nicaraguan Filler: Nicaraguan

Tasting Notes: This medium bodied smoke is filled with an amazing variation of full flavors including coffee, leather, dark chocolate and hints of cedar and raisins with a smooth and tasty finish.

PERDOMO HABANO BOURBON BARREL-AGED MADURO CHURCHILL

#20

RATED CIGAR OF 2018

7” x 54 Wrapper: Nicaragua Binder: Nicaragua Filler: Nicaragua

Tasting Notes: This is wonderful-looking cigar. Oily and pleasant on the draw, with evident tastes of sweet dried fruit, cocoa and leather.

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FALTO

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VICES

CIGAR & SPIRITS MAGAZINE'S

TOP 20 BOUTIQUE CIGARS 2018 #1

BOUTIQUE CIGAR 2018

MI HAVANA CIGARS SEVEN KINGDOMS “7K” 7” x 50 Wrapper: San Andrés Binder: Dominican Filler: Ecuadorian and Nicaraguan

Tasting Notes: A rich and complex smoke. The easy draw of this meaty Churchill delivers peppery, woody notes, couple with touches of nuts and cocoa.

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#2

BOUTIQUE CIGAR 2018

MICALLEF GRANDE BOLD SUMATRA—MICALLEF CIGARS 7 x 48 Wrapper: Sumatra Binder: Broadleaf Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua

Tasting Notes: This full-bodied Sumatra cigar has incredible woody and cocoa tones. The strength and balance is expertly crafted with evident spice and nut but not overwhelming in any manner.

#3

BOUTIQUE CIGAR 2018

BURMESE TOBACCO TRADING CO. DON ALEJO ROBAINA 5” x 50 Robusto Wrapper: Burmese-grown Connecticut Shade Binder: Burmese Criollo Filler: Burmese Criollo

Tasting Notes: First of its kind as this is a Burmese puro. This exotic cigar is a mild to medium blend boasting an incredibly creamy smoking experience. This silky smooth cigar boasts coffee, cedar, and leather. The Burmese tobacco brings a new smoking experience to the cigar enthusiast.

#4

BOUTIQUE CIGAR 2018

HIRAM & SOLOMON CIGARS— ENTERED APPRENTICE 6 x 60 Gran Toro Wrapper: Connecticut Shade (Talanga) Binder: Connecticut Shade (Talanga) Filler: Habano Ometepe, Pennsylvania, Paraguay

Tasting Notes: Mild to medium body blend that produces a creamy, silky smoke with sweet notes of white pepper and hints of cinnamon that intensify with a clean finish.

FALTO MENTOR

#5

BOUTIQUE CIGAR 2018

5.75” x 54 Wrapper: HVA Ecuador Binder: Sumatra Ecuado/Cameroon Filler: Dominican Republic, Brazil and Nicaragua Tasting Notes: The Falto Mentor is a toro blended in honor of the man who taught Luis Falto everything he knows abot tobacco and cigars: Manuel J. Inoa. This cigar is fairly complex and some people, when they try it, consider it to be very full bodied and others find it quite medium flavored. It carries great balance between both spectrums with subtle tones of nuts and some coffee.

#6

BOUTIQUE CIGAR 2018

ROMA CRAFT TOBAC NEANDERTHAL HN

5” x 52/56 Wrapper: Mexican San Andres Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, U.S.A. (Pennsylvania) Tasting Notes: Full bodied and full strength thanks to the use of green river sucker one double ligero, the Neanderthal offers loads of dark and rich flavor. Expect notes of nuts, cinnamon, pepper and earth with a spicy retrohale and cream on the long finish.

#7

BOUTIQUE CIGAR 2018

KRISTOFF GC SIGNATURE SERIES CHURCHILL 7” x 50 Wrapper: Brazilian Maduro Binder: Cuban Seed Honduran Filler: Cuban Seed Dominican, Honduran & Nicaraguan

Tasting Notes: The Kristoff GC Series is for the serious cigar smoker only. This cigar is loaded with rich notes of espresso, dried apricot, chocolate and a sweet-spicy finish. A definite must have.

#8

BOUTIQUE CIGAR 2018

CALDWELL THE LAST TSAR

5” x 50 Wrapper: Aragon Maduro Ecuadorian Binder: Dominican Filler: Dominican Tasting Notes: Medium in body, creamy and smooth. Very rich. The flavor and intensity builds throughout the cigar, and finishes with a peppery kick.

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BALMORAL AÑEJO XO OSCURO— AGIO CIGARS

#9

BOUTIQUE CIGAR 2018

6 x 52 Gran Toro Wrapper: Sun-Grown, Stalk-Cut Mexican San Andrés Binder: Dominican Olor Filler: Dominican Olor, Nicaragua (Jalapa) and Exclusive, Stalk-Cut Brazilian Mata Norte.

Tasting Notes: A luxurious rich experience with complex notes of dark chocolate, espresso and black pepper that finish with a smooth, underlying natural sweetness.

NAT CICCO ANNIVERSARIO 1965 LIGA NO. 4

#10

BOUTIQUE CIGAR 2018

6” x 52 Wrapper: Equadorian Habano Binder: Nicaragua Filler: Nicaragua

Tasting Notes: Full bodied cigar that has an abundant amount of complex, well-balanced flavors, with a pronounced nuttiness to satisfy the palates of most cigar connoisseurs.

#11

BOUTIQUE CIGAR 2018

ESTEBAN CARRERAS CHUPA CABRA HELLCAT 5.5” x 54 Wrapper: Mexican San Andres Binder: Nicaraguan Filler: Nicaraguan

Tasting Notes: Medium bodied and strength, the profile is dominated by leather and espresso with a creamy finish. There are hints of dark fruit, nuts and spice throughout.

#12

BOUTIQUE CIGAR 2018

CORNELIUS & ANTHONY AERIAL ROBUSTO 5” x 52 Wrapper: Ecuador Binder: USA Filler: Nicaragua

Tasting Notes: Subtle notes of pepper, wood and leather from the Nicaraguan filler tobaccos sing as they marry with its US grown binder; creating a spicy blend with subtle sweetness and a beautiful lingering creaminess.

#13

BOUTIQUE CIGAR 2018

DUNBARTON TOBACCO & TRUST MI QUERIDA 5” x 42 Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Binder: Nicaraguan Filler: Nicaraguan

Tasting Notes: Full bodied. Earthy and dense with a long finish of cocoa, leather and hints of black pepper.

#14

BOUTIQUE CIGAR 2018

CIMARRON MADURO—TABACALERA EL ARTISTA 5 x 54 Robusto Wrapper: Mexico— San Andrés Binder: Dominican negrito Filler: Columbian broadleaf and Dominican corojo viso

Tasting Notes: A nice chocolate brown leather smoke with a rich spicy cedar flavor with caramel like undertones and rich earth on the finish.

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FOLLOW THE LEGEND TO NICARAGUA 100% Pure Nicaraguan

Follow the legend at: www.montecristo.com @montecristo_usa

©2019 Altadis U.S.A. Inc. / 75

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MBOMBAY TOBAK GAAJA MADURO

#15

BOUTIQUE CIGAR 2018

6” x 54 Torpedo Wrapper: Brazil Binder: Ecuador Filler: Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay and Dominican Republic Tasting Notes: Key Flavors: Mocha, Cedar, White Pepper, and Herbal Notes. Burn: Very Good. Draw: Excellent Complexity: Medium to High. Strength: Medium (1st Half), Medium to Full (2nd Half) Body: Medium (1st Half), Medium to Full (2nd Half). Finish: Excellent.

LA SIRENA ORIGINAL TRIDENT CHURCHILL

#16

BOUTIQUE CIGAR 2018

7” x 50 Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro Binder: Nicaraguan Criollo Filler: Nicaraguan Jalapa & Condega

Tasting Notes: A medium body and mild to medium strength cigar with heavy notes of cocoa and espresso with a bit of floral toastiness ending with a robust finish.

#17

BOUTIQUE CIGAR 2018

JOYA DE NICARAGUA CINCO DECADAS El General 7 x 50 Wrapper: Undisclosed Binder: Undisclosed Filler: Undisclosed

Tasting Notes: Made exclusively with prime extra-vintage leaves. It carries an immaculate balance accompanied by sweet and spicy notes. This silky-smooth smoke delivers a rich and fulfilling experience.

#18

BOUTIQUE CIGAR 2018

HVC EDICIÓN ESPECIAL 2015 6” x 52 Toro Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés Binder: Nicaragua Filler: Nicaragua

Tasting Notes: A rich cigar with a bit of tooth. It has light notes of peach, butter and pepper and finishes with a faint leather, wood and earth tone.

#19

BOUTIQUE CIGAR 2018

CASA TURRENT 1880

6 ½” x 54 Toro Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés Maduro Binder: Mexico—Criollo 98 Filler: Mexico & Nicaragua—Criollo 98 Tasting Notes: A sweet and delicious cigar that starts with a light chocolate brownie and syrup lead note, some woods and a hint of soy sauce and a light peppery finish.

WARFIGHTER TOBACCO COMPANY GARRISON .50

#20

BOUTIQUE CIGAR 2018

6” x 52 Tor Wrapper: Oscuro Maduro (Honduras) Binder: Connecticut (Honduras) Filler: Nicaraguan

Tasting Notes: Earth tones complimented by spice and pepper. It offers a subtle sweetness. A strong cigar with a buttery note. The retro is strong but present for the seasoned smoker. Medium strong to medium strength.

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ElArtistaCigars.com

NEW FROM EL ARTISTA CIGARS

LIVE

WILD & FREE WWW.CIGARANDSPIRITS.COM

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TOP 5 CUBANS 2018 #1

CUBAN CIGAR 2018

H. UPMANN SIR WINSTON GRAN RESERVA COSECHA 2011 Churchill 7 x 47 Wrapper: Cuba Binder: Cuba Filler: Cuba

Tasting Notes: The Sir Winston is already a special cigar, this Gran Reserva with tobacco harvested in 2011 and aged 5 years is stellar. Woody, sweet cedar flavor comes across with aged finesse and mild to medium strength.

COHIBA SIGLO VI

#2

CUBAN CIGAR 2018

Robusto Extra 5.9 x 52 Wrapper: Cuba Binder: Cuba Filler: Cuba

Tasting Notes: The Siglo line is stronger than the classic Cohiba series. The Siglo VI is the largest of the line. Cocoa and coffee are dominant with some earthiness on the tongue. Half way in, strength builds and hints of leather emerge. Some roughness from youth will mellow nicely with age.

#3

CUBAN CIGAR 2018

BOLIVAR BELICOSOS FINOS (BBF) Pyramid 5.5 x 52 Wrapper: Cuba Binder: Cuba Filler: Cuba

Tasting Notes: A consistent full-bodied cigar, possibly the strongest of the Bolivar line. Earthy and woody with hints of cashew and almond. It is bold with volumes of mellow smoke. Some stewed fruit and grassiness can emerge.

RAMON ALLONES SPECIALLY SELECTED (RASS)

#4

CUBAN CIGAR 2018

Robustos 4.9 x 50 Wrapper: Cuba Binder: Cuba Filler: Cuba

Tasting Notes: The RASS Packs a complex powerful punch. Cuban espresso and raw cocoa which builds forcefully but with elegant character throughout the experience. For those who desire a longer smoke with similar characteristics, the Ramone Allones Gigantes is also highly recommended (Double corona, 7.6 x 49)

TRINIDAD FUNDADORES

#5

CUBAN CIGAR 2018

Lonsdale 7.6 x 40 Wrapper: Cuba Binder: Cuba Filler: Cuba

Tasting Notes: The flagship vitola for the Trinidad marca, the fundadores is the cigar that stated the commercialization of the Trinidad brand. A wonderful draw complements its narrow and long shape. Best smoked slow to avoid heating which can develop tannic harshness. The patient smoker is rewarded with perfectly fermented tobacco that exhibits a vintage quality melding flavors of honey and baked bread.

TOP 3 NEW CIGAR LINES OF 2018

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TOP 3 MILD CIGARS OF 2018 BALMORAL AÑEJO XO CONNECTICUT— AGIO CIGARS

#1

MILD CIGAR 2018

5 x 55 Rothschild Masivo Wrapper: Connecticut Shade Binder: Ecuador Sumatra Filler: Dominican Olor, Pennsylvania 41 and Exclusive, Stalk-Cut Brazilian Mata Norte

Tasting Notes: A luxuriously creamy experience that embraces your palate with complex notes of vanilla, toasted caramel and white pepper that finish with a smooth, underlying natural sweetness.

#2

MILD CIGAR 2018

MICALLEF REATA TORPEDO 6 1/8 x 52 Wrapper: San Andreas Capa Clara Binder: Ecuador Filler: Nicaraguan

Tasting Notes: You’ll find a consistently incredible draw from this light to medium cigar. Smooth oils, vanilla bean notes and smoky oak set the stage for an expertly balanced earthy finish.

#3

MILD CIGAR 2018

LA SIRENA CIGARS LA SIRENA LT 5” x 52 Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Binder: Nicaraguan Habano Filler: Nicaraguan, Honduran & Dominican

Tasting Notes: Medium bodied smoke with notes of butter, vanilla, earth and just a touch of pepper.

TOP 3 MEDIUM TO FULL #1

MED-FULL CIGAR 2018

ROMA CRAFT TOBAC NEANDERTHAL HN

5” x 52/56 Wrapper: Mexican San Andres Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, U.S.A. (Pennsylvania) Tasting Notes: Full bodied and full strength thanks to the use of green river sucker one double ligero, the Neanderthal offers loads of dark and rich flavor. Expect notes of nuts, cinnamon, pepper and earth with a spicy retrohale and cream on the long finish.

#2

MED-FULL CIGAR 2018

VILLIGER LA FLOR DE YNCLAN 5” x 52 Wrapper: Ecuadorian Binder: Indonesian Filler: Nicaraguan and Dominican

Tasting Notes: Presents a distinct full-flavor experience, due to the extended aging of the tobacco.

#3

MED-FULL CIGAR 2018

PLASENCIA COSECHA 146 LA MUSICA 5” x 50 Wrapper: Honduras Binder: Nicaragua Filler: Nicaragua/Honduras

Tasting Notes: Plasencia Cosecha 146 is an exquisite combination of tobacco leaves from our 146th harvest (2011-2012). The leaves are grown in the best regions of Honduras and Nicaragua to produce a unique flavor profile, resulting from blending the crops of two great tobacco countries. Plasencia Cosecha 146 is a medium-bodied, fullflavored cigar with a complex and sweet taste profile.

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VICES

CIGAR & SPIRITS MAGAZINE'S

WORLD SPIRITS COMPETITION 2018 VODKA

#1

#2

#3

#2

#3

INFUSED VODKA

#1

WORLD SPIRITS COMPETITION OFFICIAL GLASS SPONSOR 82

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GIN

#1

#2

#3

#2

#3

BLANCO/SILVER TEQUILA

#1

REPOSADO TEQUILA

#1

#2

COMISARIO

#3

AÑEJO TEQUILA

#1

#2

#3

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EXTRA AÑEJO TEQUILA

#1

#2

MEZCAL

#3

INFUSED TEQUILA

#1

#2

#1

#2

#3

#2

#3

WHITE RUM

#1

GOLD/DARK RUM

#1

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#1

AIR PURIFIER FOR HOME AND COMMERCIAL USE MAGAZINE

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EXTRA AGED RUM

#1

#2

#3

SPICED RUM

#1

#2

INFUSED RUM

#1

#2

#3

#2

#3

STRAIGHT BOURBON WHISKEY

#1

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SMALL BATCH BOURBON (UP TO 10 YRS)

#1

#2

#3

SPECIAL BARREL FINISHED BOURBON

#1

#2

#3

SINGLE BARREL WHISKEY (UP TO 10 YRS)

#1

#2

AMERICAN BLENDED WHISKEY

#1

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#2

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019

#3


#2

BOUTIQUE CIGAR OF 2016


SINGLE MALT WHISKEY

#1

#2

#3

#2

#3

#2

#3

#2

#3

STRAIGHT RYE WHISKEY

#1

TENNESSEE WHISKEY

#1

BLENDED WHISKEY

#1

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INDEPENDENT MERCHANT SINGLE MALT

INDEPENDENT MERCHANT SINGLE MALT

(UP TO 10 YRS)

(11+ YRS)

#1

#1

DISTILLERS SINGLE MALT SCOTCH

(UP TO 10 YRS)

#1

UNAGED WHISKEY/MOONSHINE

INFUSED WHISKEY

#1

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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019

#3


El Artista: Artfully Crafted in the Dominican Republic since 1956 We teamed up with David “Big Papi” Ortiz to bring to life a Dominican Dream Team of exceptional tobaccos from Ecuador, Dominica, and Nicaragua. Blended by our master artists for a smoking experience as unique and impressive as Ortiz.

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BLOODY MARY MIXER

#1

#2

#3

#2

#3

LIQUEUR

#1

MARGARITA MIXER

#1

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READY-TO-DRINK

#1


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FEATURE

Pumas and Pisco South American Cocktails and Adventure

by Kim Campbell Thornton | photos by Jerry Thornton

>> This pair of pumas, who had just mated, were well aware of the presence of a third puma, although he was across a river and at least a quarter of a mile away.

D

o you associate cocktails with Chile? No? I didn’t think so. The long sliver of a country on South America’s west coast is known more for its wines than its mixed drinks. But as I sipped my way through the capital city of Santiago and Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia, I discovered a sophisticated drink culture built on pisco, the country’s national spirit, a brandy distilled from Muscat, Pedro Jimenez or Torontel grapes. The first thing to know about pisco is that both Chile and Peru claim it. According to Chilean linguist Rudolfo Lenz, the word pisco, from a Quechua word meaning bird, was used all up and down the Pacific coast of South and Central America. Peru can claim a coastal town named Pisco from which the brandy was exported, but by the numbers, Chile produces 30 million liters annually to Peru’s 9.5 million. To be called pisco in Chile, the clear to amber-colored liquor must be produced in one of two regions: Atacama and Coquimbo. Peru’s pisco originates in one of five official Denomination of Origin departments: Lima, Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna.

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>> Located near government offices and Santiago’s main plaza, Bar Union attracts politicians, businesspeople, locals and tourists.

W

herever it originated, it’s the foundation of numerous cocktails, the most famous of which, of course, is the pisco sour. I had my first of many at old-school Bar Union (Nueva York 11). Although it’s located near the stock exchange and government buildings, its history—it’s more than 90 years old—is as a meeting place of boho types: writers, poets, musicians. All dark wood, little tables and black-and-white photos of politicians and other notables, regulars and tourists gather to drink pisco and cocktails served by waiters in white shirts, pin-striped vests and black bowties. My pisco sour tastes pure and gentle, belying pisco’s power.

>> The pisco sour at Bar Union is a classic example of this popular South American cocktail.

“We tell people, ‘Please, don’t drink more than two or three,’” says Carolina, a sommelier who is taking us on a cocktail tasting tour of Santiago. “We pick people up the next morning and they can barely move because they don’t understand that it’s really alcoholic. They put a lot of pisco in pisco sours.” (It should come as no surprise that Chile and Peru are also at war over which country created the pisco sour. I might give Peru the edge here since that country celebrates National Pisco Sour Day on the first Saturday of February.) My husband had a different classic, a vaina (which translates to “that thing”). Depending on which recipe you look at, this old-fashioned Chilean cocktail is made with varying combinations of pisco or cognac; port, sherry or sweet wine; crème de cacao or cocoa powder; egg yolk; and a dusting of cinnamon. Goes down like eggnog but, like anything with pisco, can pack a punch if you drink too much. From Bar Union, we moved on to Chipe Libre, aka the Republic of Pisco ( Jose Victorino Lastarria 422). Standing for, of course, Chile and Peru, the bar offers flights of piscos from both countries. From Chile alone it has 67 piscos on the menu, with 99 altogether.

Pisco is for more than mixing. Like a good brandy, it’s very easy to drink by itself.

Pisco is for more than mixing. Like a good brandy, it’s very easy to drink by itself. We sipped Capel, Waqar, and Chañaral de Caren Gran Pisco. Capel is down to earth, the people’s drink. It’s what you might drink with friends or mix with Coke or ginger ale. (Yes, piscola is a thing. Chile celebrates Piscola Day on February 8.) This particular Capel, 40 proof, is double-distilled so it’s clearer than the cheapest Capel, which has a yellow hue. It has a flowery, delicate flavor that I immediately like. Waqar, distilled from Alexandria Muscat and pink Muscat grapes, is a more premium pisco, 40 proof, with what I thought of as an herbal flavor. I didn’t like it as much as the Capel, and Carolina said she would have served it more chilled. “People are starting to serve Waqar chilled or after dinner with creamy desserts like crème brulee,” she says.

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>> The Autumn Julep at Siete Negronis in Santiago, Chile, has a distinct flavor of fall.

>> Located near government offices and Santiago’s main plaza, Bar Union attracts politicians, businesspeople, locals and tourists.

Photo by Kim Campbell Thornton

I spoke to Pablo Saez, Chipe’s manager and sommelier, and his go-to pisco drink is a piston—pisco and tonic water. “It’s citric, it’s bitter, it’s not sweet, so it’s perfect for an aperitif,” he says. Other popular pisco cocktails created at Chipe are Pisco Is In The Air (double-distilled Capel, lemon juice, papaya juice, raspberries, basil and honey perfume), La Temporera (Bauza Reservado, melon liqueur, passionfruit juice, pineapple juice, lemon juice, housemade chamomile syrup, and fisalis, a native berry with a sweet-tart flavor) and Picardia del Limari (Mal Paso Reservado, grapefruit juice, mango juice, green chili and mint leaves). “The Picardia is interesting because it’s a little sweet, citric and spicy,” Saez says. Since we were in Chile to go puma trekking, I tried La Pantera, a concoction of 42-proof Chañaral de Caren Reservado, smoky Lapsang Souchong tea, St. Germain and almond liqueur. It had a complex flavor: sweet, smoky and a little creamy. We started our tour at 4 p.m., and at 8 p.m. Carolina left us at the door to 040, where we had dinner reservations. We didn’t have to make decisions about the inventive food because it’s all served as part of a 10-course tasting menu, but we did have to choose cocktails. I went with Cinnamon Bubbles, a refreshing sparkling drink garnished with a small piece of cinnamon bark and a sprig of thyme. After the delights of the technique-driven meal focusing on seasonal Chilean ingredients, we took a freight elevator up to the penthouse bar, 09, where I ended the evening with a smoked rum old-fashioned. So that was the first night.

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Photo by Kim Campbell Thornton

The Chañaral de Caren Gran Pisco, an aged variety, has a kick (it’s 46 proof), but I like its vanilla and cinnamon notes. The Capel remains my favorite.

>>When an early spring snow falls in Torres del Paine, Bar Pionero is the place to come in from the cold.

>>Patagonia was first popular for adventure travel involving hiking and river rafting, and it is now one of the few places where pumas can be seen on a regular basis.


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>>Cocktails at Patagonia’s Bar Pionero incorporate native Chilean flowers, berries, fruits and herbs.

>>Torres del Paine National Park, in southern Chilean Patagonia, features mountains, glaciers, lakes and rivers.

Because we went early and on a holiday, we had the bar to ourselves since Chileans were celebrating their Fiestas Patrias, or independence days, at fondas, temporary fiesta tents set up around the city. The five of us enjoyed an assortment of their cocktails: two variations on the Negroni—a Baconvardier (bacon-infused Bulleit bourbon with Campari and Martini Rossi) and a Smoky (Tanqueray gin infused with Lapsang Souchong tea, Campari, Martini Rossi, and cypress smoke)—an Autumn Julep with yerba buena leaves crushed with fresh lemon juice, Bulleit bourbon, apple syrup, cinnamon and old fashioned bitters; the Seventh Rob Roy, with Johnnie Walker Black, amarena, chocolate, Angostura bitters, Martini Riserva Speciale Rubino and an orange twist; and a “guest Negroni,” the Cali by Seba Maggi. Sort of a Manhattan with gin, it contained Tanqueray, Cynar, red vermouth, Cono Sur pinot noir (Chilean, of course), and bitters. Two days later, our flight touched down in Punta Arenas, almost at the end of the world. The town in Chilean Patagonia is the gateway to Antarctica. The highway out of town is La Ruta del Fin del Mundo: the road to the end of the world. Many passengers disembarking the flight from Santiago, Chile, were doubtless on their way to Tierra del Fuego to commune with whales, parley with penguins, or cruise the Beagle Channel. Us? We climbed into the van sent to meet us and started a five-hour drive north—to Torres del Paine National Park, one of the jewels of Chile’s glorious landscape of mountains, glaciers and lakes. It’s also home to one of the country’s few predators: the puma. By the time

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we arrived at Hotel Las Torres, located within the park, it was dark and an unseasonably late snow was coming down. We were happy to make our way to the bar after checking in.

Photo by Kim Campbell Thornton

D

on’t fear that you’ll be limited to pisco if you visit Chile. Gin is growing in popularity. Before she dropped us off at 040, Carolina took us by Siete Negronis (Mallinkrodt 180), named one of the top 50 bars in the world, and introduced us to the staff. We went back later with friends and discovered that the title was well deserved.

At Bar Pionero, the social heart of the hotel, bartender Federico Gil tells me that the syrups, shrubs, bitters, herbs, fruits and flowers are made in-house, grown in the hotel’s organic garden or otherwise sourced locally. They also make their own beer and vermouth. The glasses are recycled from bottles and the curved straws are handmade by Gil from copper tubing. Signature cocktails, several of which are award-winners, include the Aborigen (double-distilled Capel, rhubarb, tea infused with lemon balm, bitters and absinthe syrup), Indomito (Capel macerated in paramela, a medicinal herb with a yellow flower, beer, Giffard elderflower syrup and barley water), and Sur Elite (pisco, pumpkin syrup, mango pulp, evaporated milk, Grand Marnier and rhubarb bitters). And of course there are half a dozen variations on the pisco sour, from the classic to the Sour Coiron (named after a native grass) and the Calafate Sour, made with a liqueur or syrup of the local calafate berries. They say that anyone who eats a calafate berry will return to Patagonia. I can’t wait.

Kim Thornton is an award-winning writer in Lake Forest, California. She writes about wildlife, pets, cocktails and travel.


Captions, Red Hot Chile Cocktails, credit Jerry M. Thornton unless otherwise noted

Landscape IMG_3161 Torres del Paine National Park, in southern Chilean Patagonia, features mountains, glaciers, lakes and rivers. Cocktail, IMG_7403 (credit Kim Campbell Thornton) Cocktails at Patagonia’s Bar Pionero incorporate native Chilean flowers, berries, fruits and herbs. Guanaco, IMG_0918 Guanacos, camelid creatures related to llamas, alpacas and vicunas, dot the Patagonian landscape, from the Atacama desert to Tierra del Fuego. Cocktail, lodge, IMG_7402 (credit Kim Campbell Thornton) The calafate sour, served at Bar Pionero in Hotel Las Torres, is a riff on a pisco sour, with a beautiful color that comes from the native calafate berry. Puma stalking, IMG_0514 Patagonia was first popular for adventure travel involving hiking and river rafting, and it is now one of the few places where pumas can be seen on a regular basis. Siete Negronis, IMG_3080 The Autumn Julep at Siete Negronis in Santiago, Chile, has a distinct flavor of fall. Puma pair, IMG_0399 This pair of pumas, who had just mated, were well aware of the presence of a third puma, although he was across a river and at least a quarter of a mile away. Pisco sour, Bar Union, IMG_3014 The pisco sour at Bar Union is a classic example of this popular South American cocktail. 040 Cocktails, IMG_3036 You don’t have to wait to go upstairs to speakeasy bar Room 09 to get great cocktails at chef Sergio Barroso’s 040 restaurant, which takes its name from the street number. Siete Negronis 2, IMG_3079 The Cali by bartender Seba Maggi was the “guest Negroni” at Siete Negronis in September. Bar Union, background pic, IMG_3031 Located near government offices and Santiago’s main plaza, Bar Union attracts politicians, businesspeople, locals and tourists. Bar Union, waiter pic, IMG_3017

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INTERVIEW Photos courtesy of Tequila Comisario

TEQUILA COMISARIO Q & A WITH PRESIDENT/CEO LUIS COTA by Randy Mastronicola

Randy Mastronicola: It seems Tequila Comisario is a brand whose time has come… please fill us in on what your company achieved in 2018. Luis Cota: It was wonderful for us, Randy—all the stars aligned for us this past year. 2018 was a benchmark year for us to begin creating a footprint across America. We acquired the brand three or four years ago. I’ve spent the last two or three years entering competitions, doing events, tastings—in the USA and in Europe. It’s given us a footprint in terms of the awareness of the brand—to bring it to the public and distribute throughout the world. We’re now in 20 states. We’re selling in the tri-state area of New York—New Jersey—Connecticut…we’re in Georgia, across the Midwest, in Chicago. I look at 2018 as being the basis for a big launch in 2019 for Tequila Comisario.

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The tequila category is incredibly competitive. Indulge me for a moment…explain why you’re passionate about this tequila and why I should be as well—how does your brand distinguish itself from the pack? One of the things we do, for example, is continue to be obsessively selective about aging the kind of agave we use. Even though it’s becoming a challenge, we’re still averaging seven to eight years with our agave, so it’s a wonderful thing to have that mindset. As we take that agave to the factory, to the distillery, we take about seven to eight kilos to make one bottle of tequila. We make sure that we keep a really nice balance between fruit and between oak. Every process along the way is very subtle and very old-fashioned. For example, when we cook the agave, we’re averaging


probably 18 hours of cooking, another 18 hours of cooling down that agave—for a total of 36 hours. That’s probably twice what most companies do. We’re taking every little step along the way to make a very unique tequila. The proof is in the pudding—the taste of this tequila is incredible.

You have such an extensive background in the spirits industry and are so well-respected…talk to me a little bit about the relationships you’ve developed with your partners and how you’re building for the future… Not only am I fortunate that we have real gentlemen involved in our company, but we bring different things to the party. My background with Diageo, Gallo and Napa Valley has given me a very broad perspective. Our Rick Darnell, who retired from the NBA, ABA, and European League and is currently the president of the Retired Players Association—he is such a charismatic person. Celebrity connections for brands are always beneficial and he is very involved with us in the charity world, too. Steve Rice comes from the real estate/banking world, so a lot of that financial background benefits our company.

Who else is an influencer at Tequila Comisario? Barry D’Andrea, who is our partner out of New York, was originally in the Wall Street financial world. He moved over to the wine and spirits world—he has all our licenses and the connections with Italy and the European world—he has great experience. They’re all brilliant gentlemen, so it’s a pleasure to work with them.

One of the things we do, for example, is continue to be obsessively selective about aging the kind of agave we use. Even though it’s becoming a challenge, we’re still averaging seven to eight years with our agave, so it’s a wonderful thing to have that mindset. I think it was W. Somerset Maugham, he once said something like, “If it’s new, it isn’t necessarily good—and if it’s good, it isn’t necessarily new.” It seems you’ve been able to capture traditional consumers as well as aspirational ones at the same time… Very much so. You look at the presentation of the tequila bottles, it’s very contemporary. You look at the methodology, it’s very, very old. Culturally, you’re looking at tequila—it goes back to the 1500’s and commercially since the 1800’s—so it’s a wonderful spirit with so much history. Much like the great spirits of the world, it’s from a certain unique place. The point of view of Appalachian Terroirdriven that you find in Champagne, Cognac or Bordeaux applies to tequila—a very unique place and a very unique plant.

Switching gears, Luis…if you had your dream tequila partner, somebody you could sit down with right now—including me, of course—it could be a celebrity, an author, an actor…who would you want to experience Tequila Comisario in this moment?

We do a couple of things in the process that make Tequila Comisario so smooth and that appeals to the upscale consumer. I compare Comisario Anejo or Reposado with a Macallan 18 or Johnnie Walker Black 12 or with the best spirits in the world today, really. We hold our own nicely, and we appeal to the same consumer. As global consumers—not only tequila—look at the many wonderful spirits to enjoy for special occasions and those kind of things, we fit very nicely into that scenario.

In the celebrity world, if I could have Nicole Kidman enjoying a glass of tequila, sitting with me, I’d be a really happy camper. If I could have “Papa” Hemingway on the other side of me, and we could all have a wonderful chat about Australia, literature, the world and politics, Fidel Castro, movies—it would be a wonderful thing. I would just love all of us talking about these big issues and having a lively conversation— the four of us enjoying a special evening.

This is such an elegant tequila. People call it a sipping tequila, and that’s a misnomer. Yes, it is nice to sip but I’m not going to discourage people from using our Blanco for a margarita. However, our aged expressions—Reposado and Anejo—they are aged three times the requirement and sip quite well.

Well, thank you for inviting me to what would surely be one hell of a Tequila Comisario party, Luis.

Are there any new platforms, other types of outreach that you’ll be doing in 2019?

Actually, all are welcome, Randy. All are welcome to join in, my friend.

I think that men of a certain age--we grow into some of the finer things, the ultra-premium brands. It’s great your company recognizes that…

Interestingly enough, besides your traditional sales and marketing direction, one of the things that we would like to do very much is create this ambiance—this club. As we go across America and we engage our customers at upscale clubs and restaurants and bars— people that are interested in the finer things in life, we can create this club that makes people feel engaged that they become more aspirational—create an “Elite Gents Club” if you will. It’s important that we tie-in culturally what we do with our branding and society as well. This could be an important part of 2019 for us.

Randy Mastronicola is the Editor-in-Chief of Cigar and Spirits Magazine.

That would be cool—a lot of opportunity out there with consumer engagement. Making that connection real. Certainly. WWW.CIGARANDSPIRITS.COM

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VICES

FEATURED NEW YEAR’S COCKTAILS

2019 COCKTAIL RESOLUTIONS

YOU’LL DEFINITELY STICK TO

by Lisa Turnbull

“THE PARTY HEARTY” COCKTAIL Servings: 1 person

Ingredients

Directions Prepare separately—fire-roasted jalapeño and tomatillo salsa: over a hot grill, cook 2 tomatillos and 1 jalapeño pepper (seed and devein). Roughly chop the peppers along with 1 garlic clove, 1 cilantro sprig and 2 green onions. Combine chopped ingredients in a bowl with 1 pinch sugar and 1 pinch salt. Add all the ingredients to a shaker with ice, including salsa, and shake vigorously until wellchilled. Double-strain into coupe glass.

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All photos by shutterstock.com

• 2 oz. premium tequila • 1 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice • ¾ oz. simple syrup • ½ oz. fire-roasted jalapeño for tomatillo salsa (see recipe below) • 2 tomatillos • 1 jalapeno pepper (seeded and deveined) • 1 small garlic clove • 1 cilantro sprig & w/1 cilantro leaf separated • 2 green onion stalks • 1 pinch sugar • 1 pinch salt • garnish 1 cilantro leaf


YOUR LOVE POTION COCKTAIL Servings: 2

Ingredients • 2 ½ oz. vodka • 2 oz. peach liqueur • 8 oz. ruby red grapefruit juice (fresh or bottled) • 2 tbls. maraschino cherry juice • garnish with a toothpick with maraschino cherries and strawberries.

Directions Rim glasses in a bit of corn syrup and sugar if desired. Set aside. Add ice to cocktail shaker, then add all ingredients. shake vigorously until cold. Pour into prepared glasses.

BLACK SEA SPRITZER Servings: 1

Ingredients • 1 oz. Jägermeister • ½ oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice • ½ oz. tarragon syrup • Pinch of sea salt • ⅓ oz. Activated charcoal (dark color agent) • Sparkling wine to top (put aside) • garnish with range wheel and tarragon sprig

Directions Combine all ingredients in shaker cup, except for sparkling wine. Strain liquid into chilled cocktail glass, top with a splash of sparkling wine.

TURMERIC CORDIAL COCKTAIL Servings: 1

Ingredients • 2 oz. Turmeric Cordial • 1 oz. fresh squeezed lemon • ½ oz. fresh local honey (if possible) • 3-4 slices of cucumber for shaker • garnish with 1 thin sliced cucumber

Directions In shaker cup, add all liquid ingredients and some ice, and shake vigorously until well chilled. Be careful not to shake too long, as to not water down cocktail with ice and break up cucumber. Strain into a glass, and garnish with a cucumber.

APPLE OLD FASHIONED All photos by shutterstock.com

Servings: 1

Ingredients • 2 oz. 100 proof bourbon • ½ oz. apple cider syrup (1/2 oz. hot apple cider and 1 tbls. sugar.) • 2 dashes concentrated bitters • garnish with lemon peel/apple slice.

Directions Add all ingredients into mixing glass with ice stir to chill. Strain into double old-fashioned glass over fresh ice.

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ADMIRAL SCHLEY PUNCH COCKTAIL Servings: 1

Ingredients • 1 fresh squeezed lime (1/2 oz.) • 1 oz. blackstrap rum (dark rum) • 1 oz. premium bourbon • 1 tsp. sugar or 1 ½ tsp. simple syrup • garnish with mint sprig & 1 pineapple wedge

Directions Peel lime and add green zest to cocktail shaker. Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker with ice. Fill shaker cup with ice and shake until thoroughly chilled. Pour the mixture along with ice into goblet without straining.

MINTY APPLE ORCHARD Servings: 1

Ingredients • 4 oz. hard apple cider • 1 oz. vodka • 1/2 oz. crème de menthe • 1/4 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice • garnish with mint sprig

Directions In a shaker cup add all ingredients and shake until blended. Strain over ice in a rocks glass. Top with hard apple cider.

SAZERAC—THE OFFICIAL COCKTAIL OF NEW ORLEANS Servings: 1

Ingredients • 2 oz. of rye whiskey (or cognac) • 4 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters • 1 dash Angostura bitters • 1 cube of sugar or 1 tsp. simple syrup • 6 dashes absinthe (to coat glass) • garnish with lemon peel

Directions Chill rocks glass in freezer to a deep chill look. Coat glass with the 6 dashes of absinthe. In separate mixing glass add sugar cube with the two bitters, rye whiskey and ice. Stir until sugar is diluted completely and strain into chilled rocks glass. Twist lemon peel over drink to add the lemon oils to the drink. Optional: garnish glass with portion of lemon peel. All photos by shutterstock.com

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INTERVIEW

BEHIND THE LEAF

has been a rising star in California’s

cigar circles. The third-generation Cuban roller, who manufactures and sells his own Mi Havana brand from his small Pomona factory and cigar lounge, has become a true word-of-mouth phenomenon. A big part of his newfound status is his popularity at Southern California private events. Be it celebrity bashes, company parties, weddings, bachelor parties, you name it—Reyner and his team of rollers are booked solid.

by Joe Bosso

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Photos courtesy of Mi Havana Cigars

A CONVERSATION WITH MI HAVANA CIGARS

F

or the past five years, Raul Reyner


Photos courtesy of Mi Havana Cigars

THE MI HAVANA BRAND could have remained a local legend, but entrepreneurs Don Wetherell and Terry Trebilcock (founder of the mixed martial arts promotion King of the Cage) had other ideas. “Terry and I have been friends for years, and we were looking to do our own cigar,” says Wetherell. “Just by coincidence, I got a tip from somebody at my Mercedes Benz dealership. Raul was telling him about his place in Pomona and that he was doing all of these major events. I was intrigued so I checked it out.

“And it turned out, Raul was the real deal,” Wetherell continues. “When we first met him, we said, ‘We said we like the flavor of this particular Cuban.’ Then he said, ‘Give me 10 minutes.’ He walks out, goes into his factory area, comes back in 10 minutes, and he’s got a cigar he just rolled. We smoked it and said, ‘Holy cow! This tastes almost exactly like what we were just smoking.’” An alliance between the three men was quickly formed. What also helped seal the deal was Reyner’s new VII Kingdoms cigar (or 7K for short), a dynamic blend of seven different leaves that Wetherhell says “blew us right out of the water. It’s the most amazing cigar you’ll ever smoke.” (The Cigar & Spirits Magazine tasting panel was no less effusive, recently awarding the cigar a 96 rating). In the following interview, Reyner and Wetherell discuss their new partnership and their plans to take the Mi Havana brand beyond its humble Southern California origins.

Don, it sounds like you didn’t take long to want to get involved with Raul. Don Wetherell: We took a liking immediately to Raul. Beyond his brilliant cigars, what also impressed us is just what a terrific person he is to work with. His love for his craft, his palate, his creativity—those are the things you look for. He also has an amazing following because whenever he has events at his own place—he’s got a few hundred people that show up just because they’re loyal to his brands of cigars. He doesn’t carry anybody else’s cigars in his place other than his own, which is unique in itself.

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Photos courtesy of Mi Havana Cigars

Of course, everybody says that their cigars are the best. Raul, in your view, what makes Mi Havana cigars different from other brands? Raul Reyner: I’m not too sure about how other brands operate. What I can tell you is that we make our cigars here in L.A., and I use all of the guidance of my uncle and my mother, who were in the business for a long, long time. Quality control is very important, but I try to think outside the box. That’s how the 7K—the VII Kingdoms—came about. It’s seven different blends from several different countries blended into one cigar. Wetherell: The 7K blend is really something special. Terry and I have tried a lot of cigars, and that one is remarkable. A good palate can actually enjoy the different flavors as they’re smoking it, and when it comes to probably the last third of the cigar, there’s almost a vanilla taste that comes out. Reyner: It definitely takes you on a rollercoaster, and that’s because it has so many different ingredients. It’s all in the placement of the leaf to make sure that you always take the same ride. It starts off spicy, and then it’s creamy, and then it comes back with power and finishes it off with a buttery flavor. Don calls it “vanilla.” Wetherell: I do, but I love it. Reyner: It’s not like most cigars that get harsh at the end. Again, it’s all because of how I place the leaves. It goes to different places as you smoke it. Wetherell: We’re going to take it nationally and eventually internationally. This is going to be a big seller.

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How did the cigar evolve? Reyner: From the start, it was always going to be full bodied, a Maduro wrapper, but then I decided to do the San Andres, which is a Mexican wrapper. And then we also created a Habana wrapper so we could hit a range of palates. That’s more for people who are looking for something that’s doesn’t start off spicy. The whole seven fillers were really inspired by one of my favorite TV shows, Game of Thrones. You might be able to recognize it on the logo, how the font is somewhat similar. I was watching the show and I noticed how at first all the Seven Kingdoms were allies, but then some became enemies. At the very end, they all united for a common cause. And that’s what inspired me to do a cigar that is kind of a unicorn. I made my first few a year ago, and I was amazed how much people liked them. So, I made few thousand, and I put them in the humidor just to see what happened. The response was incredible.


Raul, tell me a little bit about your factory setup.

Raul, talk to me about the rolling you do at private events.

Reyner: We’ve been around for five years. I have several rollers that work here with me in our factory in Pomona. We have another location, but that’s private. We have two levels to the place in Pomona. There’s the upper level, where we do all of our manufacturing, and then we have the lower level, the tasting room—it’s also the lounge. We have a retail humidor, chairs, TVs. In the back of the building, we have our aging room where we age our cigars prior to having them available for consumption. I’m able to do wholesale and custom blends for other lounges that carry our cigars. And of course, we do special events and catering.

Reyner: We do a lot of them. We do roughly anywhere between 20 to 35 events in a month, depending on the season. Usually they staggered on the weekends. For example, we’ll have two on Thursday, three on Friday, two on Saturday and maybe one or two on Sunday. We do a lot of golf tournaments, corporate events.

Since you guys got together, what kind of growing pains has the company had in trying to take things to the next level? Wetherell: Have we had any growing pains? I don’t think we have. Reyner: These guys are great. They allow me to let my creativity go, and they trust all the decisions I make for production or the size of the cigar, the shapes, all that stuff. It’s been pretty smooth when it comes to that. Wetherell: If there’s been one hiccup, I guess it’s been about leaving cigars in the humidor long enough to age appropriately so that they have the right bang when people first taste them. It takes discipline, because people want them so bad but you just can’t wait to yank them out of there and taste the next one. I have to give a lot of credit to Raul. He’s like a doggone machine when it comes to making them taste the same every time.

Wetherell: He’s not rolling the 7K at these events. He’s got boxes of cigars that have been pre-made that are available at the events as well, and of course, he has our 7K promotional signs up and stuff like that. But the novelty of him being at an event is people being able to watch him construct a cigar on the spot. It’s just interesting to people, and it’s an attraction.

I understand quite a few celebrities hire you for events. Wetherell: There’s been a lot of celebrities. Arnold, Stallone… Reyner: I’ve done probably eight events for Nick Jonas— he’s great. I’ve done events for DJ Khaled. I just did his birthday party.

And what’s this I understand – you made the longest cigar ever rolled? Reyner: That’s right. It was 332 feet. We sold it. We cut it and it in packages for charity. We donated the proceeds to the CDC in Pomona, the Child Development Center. It’s always good to give back and try to help people.

You sell cigars online, right? Wetherell: We don’t want to be thought of as an online cigar site. Some cigars are online, like the Iron Mike and a few others, but you won’t see the 7K online. That’s the flagship. It’s available for retail, but not online.

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LIFESTYLE

CIGAR & SPIRITS MAGAZINE AND MICALLEF CIGARS PRESENTS

THE 1ST ANNUAL TEXAS CIGAR & SPIRITS TASTING EVENT by Breahna Wheeler | photos by Crystal Carpenter

S

aturday, October 20th was an exciting night at the Shipping and Receiving Venue in Fort Worth, TX for cigar and spirits enthusiasts. The artsy but elegant space housed the 1st Annual Texas Cigar and Spirits Tasting Event. The alluring aromas of stogies and country music filled the air for the sold-out affair. The glam step and repeat photo op backdrop made guests feel like celebrities upon arrival and participants posed in a paparazzi swirl. There were amazing premium cigars to smoke, elite spirits to sip, and the live entertainment all added up to a whirlwind evening for those in attendance. Cigar & Spirits Magazine’s Publisher & CEO, Lincoln Salazar says, “We’ve seen our West Coast Tasting event grow by leaps and bounds these past eight years. Our co-sponsors— Micallef Cigars—who are Fort Worth-based, and such a respected brand throughout the world, made this event an even more exciting endeavor. The George Navarro Band played some hot country music, and the cigars, spirts and swag were first rate.” Based on the phenomenal response to the affair, the shared camaraderie, and loaded swag bags, it’s safe to say everyone will be looking forward to next year’s big bash. The Cigar & Spirits Magazine Texas Tasting Event is destined to become the most popular event of its kind in the area.

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A special thank you the following 2018 Texas Cigar & Spirits Tasting Event Sponsors Title Sponsor

Gold Sponsors

Silver Sponsors

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FOUR GENERATIONS AND 123 YEARS OF TRADITION SINCE 1895

ERIC NEWMAN

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Third Generation


Eric, Drew, and Bobby Newman are standing on the rooftop of El Reloj, J.C. Newman’s 108-year -old cigar factory in the Ybor City DREW NEWMAN Fourth Generation

BOBBY NEWMAN Third Generation

National Historic Landmark District in Tampa, Florida. WWW.CIGARANDSPIRITS.COM

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KETEL YOUR SODA. BACK COVER KETEL ONE

PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY. KETEL ONE Vodka. Distilled from Grain. 40% Alc/Vol. © Double Eagle Brands, B.V. Imported by Ketel One USA, Aliso Viejo, CA.

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