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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016

ARNOLD PALMER In Memory of The King 2016 HOLIDAY

GIFT GUIDE

WINTER TRAVEL

DESTINATIONS

PURO SABOR

THE NICARAGUAN CIGAR FESTIVAL

BEHIND THE LEAF:

ALEC BRADLEY CIGARS


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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016

CEO & Publisher Lincoln B. Salazar Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Winokur Art Director Joe Redmond Editorial Assistant Breahna Wheeler Contributing Writers Lanee Lee Jerry Fisher Amanda Keeley-Thurman Randy Mastronicola Benjamin Winokur Dave Johnson Julie Harrington Giffin Greg Mays Elisa Jordan Sarah E. Coleman Sabeeha Dhillon

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Cigar & Spirits is published bimonthly by Top Hat Media Group, Please send address changes to Cigar & Spirits, P.O. Box 37185 Boone, IA 50037-0185. Š2016 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. October 2016 Volume 6/Issue 4

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Inspired by architecture. Built by masters. The Case Study cigar project pays homage to the pioneering architects of mid-century modernist design. Featuring 26 unique blends of rare, vintage tobacco, each cigar was personally crafted by some of the most respected master blenders in the world. We invite you to leave compromise behind.

Š 2016 Ventura Cigar Company. All Rights Reserved.


CONTENTS

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ON THE COVER

ON THE COVER

ARNOLD PALMER

ARNOLD PALMER

In Memory of The King

In Memory of The King By Elisa Jordan

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CIGAR & SPIRITS 2016 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

Words by Randy Mastronicola

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BEHIND THE LEAF

An Interview with Alan Rubin of Alec Bradley Cigars By Lincoln B. Salazar & Benjamin Winokur

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WINTER TRAVEL GETAWAY

Whether you want Sun or Snow, here is where to go! By Amanda Keeley-Thurman

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PURO SABOR FESTIVAL 2017

Experience The Nicaragua Cigar Festival By Jerry Fisher & Benjamin Winokur

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WINTER TRAVEL GETAWAYS

VICES

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FOR YOUR HUMIDOR

33 Cigars Rated by The Cigar & Spirits Tasting Panel

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FOR YOUR HOME BAR

16 Spirits Rated by The Cigar & Spirits Tasting Panel

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UNIQUE CRAFT DISTILLERIES

FEATURED PAIRING: ALEC BRADLEY CIGARS

By Greg Mays

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CREATIVE CRAFTSMANSHIP

What Makes a Craft Cocktail By Amanda Keeley-Thurman

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HOLIDAY COCKTAILS

These creations are sure to put a smile on your face this season

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BROS DO BRUNCH

SPLENDOR OF THE BLUE AGAVE

A Look inside the making of ultra-premium tequila By Julie Harrington Giffin

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CLASSIC LEATHER BAGS FOR EVERY MAN

BOURBON SERIES: UNIQUE CRAFT DISTILLERIES

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Exceptional Bourbons off the beaten path By Sarah E. Coleman

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

LIFESTYLE

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SEEKING HIDE

Classic Leather Bags for Every Man By Dave Johnson

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BROS DO BRUNCH

Finish Your Weekend on a High Note By Sabeeha Dhillon

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HEALTHY TRAVEL TIPS

16 Ways to Stay Sane While Traveling this Holiday Season By Lanee Lee

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CREATIVE CRAFTMANSHIP

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PUBLISHER’S NOTE Ten Quotes from “Men’s Men” that every man should live by: 1. “A man does what he must - in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers, and pressures - and that is the basis of all human morality.” -President John F. Kennedy

2. “It is not titles that make men illustrious, but men who make titles illustrious.” -Machiavelli

3. “There is one kind of robber whom the law does not strike at, and who steals what is most precious to men: time.” -Napoleon

4. “Never go on trips with anyone you don’t love.” -Ernest Hemingway 5. “People often remark that I’m pretty lucky. Luck is only important in so far as getting the chance to sell yourself at the right moment. After that, you’ve got to have talent and know how to use it.” -Frank Sinatra

6. “My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.” -Sir Winston Churchill

7. “I still don’t have all the answers. I’m more interested in what I can do next than what I did last.” -Charlie Sheen

8. “Respect your efforts, respect yourself. Self-respect leads to selfdiscipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that’s real power.” -Clint Eastwood

9. “Courage is being scared to death... and saddling up anyway.” -John Wayne

10. “The best way to find out if you can trust someone is to trust them.” -Ernest Hemingway It is time, that as men, we must start being Men again. We have become so sensitive and passive as men. I urge you to consider: What ever happened to the strong silent type?

Sincerely, Lincoln B. Salazar CEO/Publisher

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IN MEMORY OF

THE KING ARNOLD PALMER IS KNOWN AS THE KING OF GOLF, BUT HIS LEGACY IS SO MUCH MORE TO FANS THAN THAT OF JUST A GOLFER. THERE IS SOMETHING CONSIDERABLY MORE TO HIM THAN SCORECARDS. ALTHOUGH SCORES HE DOES HAVE—DURING HIS CAREER, HE SCORED 95 PROFESSIONAL WINS, INCLUDING 62 PGA TOUR WINS. HE WON THE MASTERS TOURNAMENT FOUR TIMES, THE U.S. OPEN AND THE BRITISH OPEN. ON THE SENIOR CIRCUIT, HE WON FIVE CHAMPIONSHIPS.

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>> Photo by Associated Press

By Elisa Jordan


>> Photo by Debby Wong : Shutterstock.

IS professional accomplishments alone are enough to warrant the title “King.” His fans, proudly calling themselves “Arnie’s Army,” would say he is an “Every Man” in a sport considered by many to be elite. He was the son of a working-class grounds keeper who grew up to dominate the sport his father once worked for. He was a great hero on the course, while a devoted family man at home. In short, he was an ordinary man with an extraordinary talent. It was these qualities, that when taken together as a whole that made Arnold Palmer such a relatable figure to sports fans and regular folks alike. He was like no one else, and yet, he could connect with everyone.

STORY OF ORIGIN Arnold Daniel Palmer was born on September 10, 1929, just a few weeks before the first Stock Market crash brought about the Great Depression. His childhood was shaped by the devastated economy of the 1930s, and his adolescence by World War II. Other than a passion for flying his own planes and amassing a fortune, Arnie, as his friends knew him, lived modestly as an adult. Golf was also a defining factor in his youth. He learned the sport from his father, Milford “Deacan” Palmer, who cared for the grounds at Latiobe Country Club. Young Arnie often accompanied his Deacon to work, soaking up the game while on the property. There, Deacon taught his son the basics and gave him some unorthodox advice: hit the ball as hard as he could and learn balance later. The lesson defied common golf instruction but it worked. As Arnie grew, so too did his golf skills. He was hired at the age of 13 to caddy at the country club where Deacon worked but his love of the game led to his dismissal. Arnie would sometimes lock up the pro shop to practice his swing, leading his own father to fire him. But all was not lost. Arnie was developing a fierce swing, just like his dad had predicted. “Too many players learn a controlled swing first, then try to increase their distance and they can’t,” Deacon said later. “As a result, a lot of players don’t hit the ball hard enough and never will.” The bond and trust Deacon’s coaching created between father and son lasted until Deacon’s death. Even as a professional athlete, Arnold would never hesitate to turn to his father for help with his stroke.

A LIFE TIME Arnold Palmer’s childhood may have shaped the way he lived later in life, but it also influenced the way he played as a champion. His early exposure to the sport set up a skill set of fundamentals and equipment knowledge (from his time in the pro shop) that was deeply ingrained in his game. Deacon’s advice to swing hard first and learn balance later wasn’t his only success when influencing his son. Because of Deacon’s career at the country club, Arnie was surrounded by gold from his earliest days in a relaxed atmosphere. Trips to work with his dad, work as a caddy and out-of-the-box coaching meant little stress. Instead of an overbearing father forcing his child into a sport, Arnie had the benefit of finding joy in golf that never left him. In fact, it was the exuberance and excitement for the game that he returned to again and again as an adult for inspiration. “I putt like I did when I was a kid,” he said. “When you’re a kid you’re not afraid of anything.”

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TURNING POINT Arnie got out of the Coast Guard in 1953, the same year he won the Ohio Amateur, Cleveland Amateur, Greensburg Invitational, Mayfield Heights Open, Evergreen Pitch and Putt Invitational. His break into the professional world came the following year in 1954, when he won the U.S. Amateur in Detroit. “That victory was a turning point in my life,” he said later. “It gave me confidence I could compete at the highest level of the game.” That year, 1954, turned out to be pivotal for another reason, too. While competing in the Waite Memorial tournament in Shawneeon-Delaware, Pennsylvania, he met 19-year-old Winifred “Winnie” Walzer. He proposed just a few days after their first date.

>> Photo by Associated Press

“Winnie, I began learning that night, was unlike any girl I’d ever met, not just pretty and comfortable in almost any situation, but also smart, well-traveled—she’d just come home from a big European trip—but engagingly independent minded, even something of a would-be rebel,” he said.

COASTING THROUGH SELF DISCOVERY By the time Arnie was a teenager, he was good enough at golf to earn a scholarship to Wake Forest College. He began his studies, but didn’t finish even though his tuition was paid. After his roommate died in an accident, he reevaluated his life and dropped out of college to enlist in the United States Coast Guard in 1951. “I was at Wake Forest for three and half year and my roommate was killed in an automobile accident and I was pretty distraught over that and decided that I needed to go away,” he said. In the military, Arnie learned structure and discipline. He thrived in the environment, crediting military life with helping him during a time of grief and self-discovery. “The knowledge that I gained, the maturity that I gained in the Coast Guard was unbelievable,” he recalled. “It matured me. It made me a better person for the world and I believe that in my own right. The military isn’t just restrictions and military duties. It’s learning and it’s very important that young people have that opportunity to learn and know themselves a little better and I think the military helps put that in perspective.” Arnie worked during the week as a photographer for the 9th Coast Guard District, but his weekends were often spent competing in golf tournaments. His commander, Rear Admiral Roy L. Raney, took golf lessons from the young Palmer and supported his amateur competitions. He also saw potential in Arnie for a military career. Raney encouraged Arnie to seriously consider Coast Guard life. But for as appreciative of military life as Arnie was, he had his heart set on a life as a golfer. “My intentions were to eventually get out and play golf,” he said. “And of course my boss, the admiral, had suggested I go to training at the [Coast Guard] Academy. And that was fine and I was flattered he wanted me to do that but at the same time that meant an additional enlistment for me and I was primarily ready to get out and get my shot at the PGA tour.”

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Winnie, a business student at Brown University, gave up her plans for a career in interior design, though years later she would design a line of furniture for the Arnold Palmer Collection. Arnie and Winnie had two daughters, Amy and Peggy, and by all accounts the couple were devoted to each other and their girls.

1960, THE BREAK OPENS While the Palmers’ home life thrived, his career was also building at fast pace, with 1960 turning into a banner year for his career. In June 1960, two months after winning the Masters, Arnie competed at the U.S. Open at Cherry Hills Country Club in Colorado, in a Denver suburb. His hopes seemed to be all but dashed when at the Open when he was behind by seven strokes. Despite starting the final round seven strokes back, Arnie accomplished the impossible. He scored six birdies in the first seven holes, which led to a win. “It took Arnold a moment to realize it was all over, all won,” said Sport Illustrated writer Warren Wind. “He delivered his ball and walked a normal stride he suddenly started jumping all over the place.” From there, Arnie set his sights on a long-forgotten tournament by Americans—The British Open. With a looming war in Europe in 1930s, Americans shied away from traveling to Britain for golf. By the time World War II had ended, the British Open was no longer on the American radar and, thus, mostly ignored in North America. But Arnold Palmer set his sights on the long-forgotten (by Americans) tournament. He had developed an interest in the British Open as a youngster and relished the idea of competing overseas. And compete he did. Although Arnie lost by just a single stroke, there was a huge cultural impact. American golfers and fans suddenly developed a thirst for British golf. For Americans, golf suddenly expanded exponentially. And Arnold Palmer, winner of the Masters, U.S. Open and first runner-up of the British Open, was at the center of this newly “cool” sport. What happened with Arnold Palmer in 1960 was about more than just one player. He cracked the world of golf wide open for mainstream sports. And incidentally, he returned to Scotland in 1961 and 1962, winning the British Open. In his 1962 victory, he finished a full six strokes ahead of Australian Kel Nale—who had taken first place in 1960—and 13 strokes ahead of third-place winners Phil Rodgers and Brian Huggett. Arnie’s career only continued to soar. He again won the Masters in 1962 and 1964.


>> Photo by Associated Press

Arnold and Jack Arnold Palmer was already the “King” of golf when young rival Jack Nicklaus appeared on courses. Like Arnold before him, Jack had shown considerable promise and talent in his amateur career. Arnold’s fans, dubbed “Arnie’s Army,” were ready to declare war on Jack and prepared for a bitter rivalry. It never happened. Instead, Arnold befriended the young golfer and the pair settled into a warm professional and personal friendship. After Arnold passed away, Jack Nicklaus took to his Facebook page and wrote a tribute to the man who had been his friend for more than 50 years. “He was one of my best friends, closest friends, and he was for a long, long time,” he wrote. “I will miss him greatly. Arnold transcended the game of golf. He was more than a golfer or even an icon. He was a legend. Arnold was someone who was a pioneer in his sport. He took the game from one level to a higher one … he was the King of our sport and always will be.”

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>> Photo by Associated Press

“That victory was a turning point in my life,” he said later. “It gave me confidence I could compete at the highest level of the game.”

The Arnold Palmer

>> Photo by Associated Press

In the mid-1950s, Arnold Palmer began mixing lemonade and iced tea. Some versions of the story have him accidentally pouring one into the other at home. No matter how it originally happened, he began ordering the custom drink when out at restaurants, describing the recipe for servers and bartenders.

LEGACY Arnold Palmer was more than just a great golfer. He was a great sportsman and a star. He was relatable to nearly everyone—the working-class hero who made good. The devoted father and husband. The former military man who sipped scotch with friends at the country club. He was also accessible to fans. Over the years he was known to sign countless autographs for wellwishers, even taking time to shake hands and place a left hand on people’s shoulders. He waved to fans standing in the back to make sure they knew he appreciated them. In short, Arnold Palmer connected. He connected with fellow players. He connected with sports journalists. He connected with fans. The son of a golf groundskeeper managed to make golf a popular international sport. Without him—a complete package of talent, warmth and sportsmanship—golf would likely not be the sport it is today.

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How the drink got its name has different stories, but the most-common places Arnold at a restaurant in Palm Springs. He ordered his iced tea-lemonade beverage from a bartender and a woman overheard his request. When she then ordered “that Palmer drink,” the name stuck. And the term “Arnold Palmer” came to be the name of a popular drink.


Montecristo. An icon since 1935.

ALTADIS MONTECRISTO Lucrecia Valdez Master Roller 36 years of experience

Montecristo.com


2016 HOLIDAY

GIFT GUIDE

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ADORINI The Adorini Chianti Medium Deluxe Humidor is upscale sleek. It gleams with a gorgeous multi-lacquer black finish. The 100-capacity humidor cabinet is equipped with 3 drawers, Spanish Cedar Wood, and convenient dividers to help keep track of your cigars. The Chianti Deluxe contains the unique and super-accurate hair hygrometer, exclusively produced in Germany by Adorini. The acrylic polymer fleece inside the humidifier maintains 70% rH. The Chianti Deluxe closes seamlessly providing a brilliant seal. $322.00. www.adorini.com

ALEC BRADLEY “Live True” AB’s Shotgun Cup Holder Ceramic Ashtray is stylish and well designed. It is a welcome universal accessory car cup holder for any cruisin’ cigar lover. The durable, ceramic ashtray with rubber gasket easily slides into place, allowing the rubber guard to snugly grip the sides of the cup holder. It is surely one of the highest quality travel ashtrays on the market today. $29.95 www.alecbradley.com

ALLEGORY HANDCRAFTED GOODS CO. If you want a pen to make a statement, the cigar-inspired Aficionado is for you. Its large, sturdy profile allows the olivewood and old growth redwood to stand out. The Aficionado uses the popular Parker ballpoint refill, opening up dozens of options for ink type, line weight, and writing feel. Customized engraving is available up to three characters. The backstory behind these re-purposed woods make for great conversation. The old growth redwood body has been reclaimed from century-old pickling vats and the Bethlehem Olivewood inlay is trimmed from groves that have stood for millennia. $95.00 www.allegorygoods.com

AVIATION AMERICAN GIN Aviation American Gin is the flagship brand of House Spirits Distillery and boasts NFL Legend Joe Montana as co-owner. Aviation is an adventurous blend of traditional and contemporary botanicals from around the world and is crafted from all-natural ingredients. Distilled in small batches, rich with exotic spices, this masterful blend of citrus, floral, and savory notes makes this spirit extremely tasty and mixable. Aviation American Gin is a welcome departure from the traditional London Dry style of gin. Licorice, citrus, sage, lavender and Indian Sarsaparilla notes inspire a sweet, mellow scent and taste. Aviation is outstanding in contemporary culinary cocktails or vintage drinks alike, and has been recognized as one of the top 10 growth brands nationally. $29.99 www.aviationgin.com

BETABRAND Swingers Alert! Like a fine-fabric chameleon, the Goldswinger Reversible Smoking Jacket can adapt to its surroundings in a flash. On one side, it is a sleek moleskin coat, suitable for all manner of respectable endeavors. But when the time comes for a full-throttled dive into vice, it reverses to reveal a silky, hell-hued smoking jacket, featuring a den of lusty dragons and a pair of shiny skull buttons that let the world know you mean business. The Goldswinger also sports six flask-sized pockets to facilitate extended evening adventures, plus large buttons and keyhole buttonholes to accommodate the most butterfingered souse. $218.00 www.betabrand.com

BROKER’S GIN Broker’s Gin is five-times distilled using spirit made from English wheat. It is handcrafted in a traditional copper pot still in a 200-year-old gin distillery in the heart of England. The recipe, which is as old as the distillery, uses ten natural botanicals from around the world. This classic London Dry gin is the most awarded gin in the world boasting a score of 97 Points from the Ultimate Spirits Challenge. $24.99 www.brokersgin.com

CAMUS BORDERIES XO COGNAC A CAMUS exclusive, this single-growth Extra Old (aged in oak a minimum of 6.5 years) is drawn from the private family reserves of Borderies. It is rich, complex, and velvety. Its delicate violet and hazelnut aromas, smoothness, and rich palate distinguish the XO. The Borderies range, coming from the smallest of all the Cognac growing areas, is drawn from the private family reserves of Borderies. Cognacs. It is highly prized for its intense, floral bouquet, and excellent maturing qualities. By creating an XO drawn entirely from the Borderies, CAMUS is responding to an evolution in consumer taste towards products that are smooth, elegant, and light in oak with exalted original aromas. These complex yet charming Cognacs are a novel alternative to single-malt scotch. The prized Cognac is presented in an elegant decanter symbolic of fragrance, evoking the velvety softness and richness of the spirit. $179.00 www.camus.fr/us/ WWW.CIGARANDSPIRITS.COM

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CASAMIGOS TEQUILA And now a word from Casamigos co-owners, Messrs. George Clooney and restaurant mogul, Rande Gerber: “We love tequila, on the rocks, by the shot, at times, straight from the bottle.” Casamigos Tequila is available in Blanco, Reposado and Añejo. Casamigos small batch, ultra-premium tequilas are made from the finest hand-selected 100% Blue Weber agaves. They are grown in the rich red clay soil and cool climate of Mexico’s Jalisco Highlands for a minimum of seven years. The agave piñas are roasted in traditional brick ovens for 72 hours before undergoing an extra-slow 80-hour fermentation process. The outstanding Casamigos Añejo is aged 14 months. Its aroma is pure and complex and showcases soft caramel and vanilla notes. The taste is balanced with sweetness and spice, which makes for a lush and smooth finish. $45.99-54.99 www.casamigostequila.com

CASA NOBLE TEQUILA ALTA BELLEZA Spanish for “high beauty,” Alta Belleza begins with Casa Noble’s award-winning Extra Añejo. It is patiently crafted from only hand-harvested 100% Blue Agave grown in Jalisco’s rich volcanic soil. It is sweet and bright with a perfectly balanced taste. The Extra Añejo used to create Alta Belleza is aged for three years in French white oak barrels. Alta Belleza is unique because its final rest takes place for six months in Tonnellerie Taransaud French Oak Wine Barrels previously used in Mondavi wines. The wine barrels impart a distinctive, intense flavor, and deliver a beautiful copper red tone to the liquid. The mouthfeel is seductive, velvety, and long lasting. Complex aromas of green apple and spice complement notes of cinnamon, toasted almond, and sweet cooked agave for a drinking experience like no other. A total of 563 bottles have been produced and will be available this Holiday Season. $1200.00 www.casanoble.com

CIGAR CUTTERS BY JIM “Distinctive Gifts for Men” The Patio Gift Set will put that Christmas morning smile on any cigar enthusiast’s face. The 3-piece cigar ensemble includes a closed-guillotine precision cigar cutter, a Vector® triple-flame lighter, and the impressive wood and stainless steel Piccolo Ashtray. It sets the patio or poker table just right. The gifts may be customized to include one of 56 emblems featuring military, hobby, professional, or other specialty designs. Established in 2008, Cigar Cutters by Jim has been lauded as a company featuring creative workmanship and smartly decorated, affordable product lines. $99.99 www.cigarcuttersbyjim.com.

COLIBRI The Slide is Colibri’s newest adventure in pushing the bounds of torch lighter innovation and design. It powers up with its double-jet, “v-configuration” flame, and provides an easy toast and light with no charring. The innovative Slide ignites with a reverse trigger (thumb up, not down) while providing a natural and powerful feel when firing up your cigar. The Slide also features a “slide out” cigar punch cutter on the back. Available in five colors: Metallic black. Brushed chrome-black. Red-black. Blue-black. Black-chrome. $59.00 www.colibri.com

COPPOLA WINES The Francis Ford Coppola Winery is offering one-of-a-kind gift sets this holiday season. Truly, an offer no film and wine aficionado can refuse. One of the sets that steals the scene is their re-purposed mid-century film reel crafted with vintage MGM celluloid to cushion bottles. It includes 6 bottles of Director’s Cut Cinema Cabernet Sauvignon. This set will surely make anyone feel like a star. $365.00 www.francisfordcoppolawinery.com

CRISLOID Take a good look at this very cool completely handmade 28-piece set of double-six dominoes. This game set comes packaged in a handsome “Brooklyn Silver” hand-wrapped box with Crisloid’s domino production details and specs etched into the underside of the cover. The ivory resin tiles are classically proportioned and polished for smooth gameplay. The set includes a custom tile (as shown “Made for J. Caruso by Crisloid”) that can be personalized to make it the perfect holiday gift. As always “Handmade to Order in Providence, RI USA.” $175.00 www.crisloid.com

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P R E C I S I O N , Q U A L I T Y, A N D L O N G E V I T Y D I TA . C O M WWW.CIGARANDSPIRITS.COM

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CRUX CIGARS “United by the Leaf” The full-bodied Crux Guild is equal parts talent and determination. The company prides itself on being “United by the Leaf” and its artisanal approach evokes memories of old-world craftsmanship. The Crux Guild features an impressive Ecuadorian habano wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder, and Nicaraguan fillers. Crux Cigars are produced at Plasencia Cigars S.A. in Estelí, Nicaragua. The Guild is stout with six vitolas. The Box Pressed Toro Extra (6 1/2 x 52) stands tall among the impressive lineup of Crux Guild Cigars. 20 Cigar Box $199.99 www.cruxcigars.com

CRYSTAL HEAD VODKA The name “crystal head” is taken from the legend of 13 different crystal skulls scattered throughout the earth by some lost civilization of advanced arts. The brand itself was founded by Canadian-born actor Dan Aykroyd and John Alexander in 2008. Crystal Head Vodka prides itself for being “untouched and naturally smooth.” CHV features the highest quality peachy cream corn and is distilled four times into a neutral grain spirit. Enhancing its blend is the use of pristine water from Newfoundland, Canada. The liquid is then filtered seven times, three of which are through layers of semi-precious crystals known as Herkimer Diamonds. Crystal Head Vodka: Untouched and Naturally Smooth. $49.99 www.crystalheadvodka.com

DANIEL MARSHALL AMBIENTE HUMIDOR “A Symbol of Quality Since 1982” Master Craftsmen Daniel Marshall’s humidors have topped the desks of dignitaries, presidents, A-listers, and sports stars the world over. The Ambiente 125 capacity humidor is luxurious and meticulously constructed. The jet-black exterior lacquer matte finish is stylish and elegantly sports a gold plate lock and key. Spanish Cedar lines the interior and hosts a Humidity Regulator, Two Spanish Cedar Dividers, Gold Plate Covered Hinges, and Humidor Setup and Maintenance Instructions by Daniel Marshall. It includes a bonus lift out tray, valued at $100.00, for Cigar & Spirits readers. $495.00 www.danielmarshall.com

DAVIDOFF RED LEAF HUMIDOR Tobacco leaves are the very essence of cigars and the inspiration for this new line of Zino Humidors. The tobacco leaf motif is bright and dynamic with color. The superb graphics reveal the grain, veins, and structure of the celebrated leaf. The Zino Graphic Leaf Humidor Collection enhances the surroundings for aficionados who care about cigars and style. Zino Humidors contain an internal self-regulating humidification system ensuring a relative humidity of 70-72% at a temperature of 65-68 degrees Farenheit. The prized Red Leaf 60-cigar capacity humidor will enhance the aroma and richness of your cigars. $530.00 www.usdavidoffgeneva.com

FITBIT ALTA The Fitbit Alta is a slim, sleek fitness wristband that’s as versatile as your personal style. Stay motivated with all-day activity stats on a bright OLED display with reminders to move that keep you active every hour. Fitbit Alta makes tracking your workouts effortless with SmartTrack automatic exercise recognition. As a smart wristband, Fitbit Alta allows you to stay connected with call, text, and calendar notifications on the display. At night, track your sleep automatically and set a silent alarm. With accessory wristbands in stainless steel and genuine leather, you can find the right style for every occasion – day and night. Wear fitness your way with Fitbit Alta. $129.95 www.fitbit.com

GRAF VON FABER-CASTELL The Tamitio in Black and Rose features a slim metal barrel and delivers a pleasurable and stylish writing experience whose fine fluting is a real eye-catcher. Its surface attests to its meticulous craftsmanship: the technically innovative varnish, designed specifically for the Tamitio, is applied several times. It results in a durable, noble, matte look, and has a stainless steel nib. The polished front-end pieces accent the barrel to great effect, just like the engraved “Handmade in Germany” seal of quality. The Black and Rose combination makes a wonderful his and her gift set. www.graf-von-faber-castell.com Ballpoint: $225.00. ea. Rollerball: $195.00 ea.

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GRAMM WORKS The 7” Churchill Tube is a full-sized and completely built travel humidor. The Enthusiast Top Cap , protective hygrometer, and cigar rest cap (equipped with a carabiner to hook onto anything) is perfect for holiday travel and beyond. The Humidification Bottom Cap is “powered by Boveda.” The Churchill will keep your sticks just right and tight. There are a variety of color combos ready for engraving. The Red-black, Blue-black, and Gold-Gun Metal are three highlights. $80.00 www.grammworks.com

GRAMM WORKS The masculine Cinque Forte Ashtray is machined from “Aircraft-grade, Military Spec Aluminum.” It accommodates 5 smokers and their sticks. This 3.5-pound beauty may be personalized and it is a keeper. Available in a variety of anodized colors. $99.00 www.grammworks.com

HUSSONG’S PLATINUM TEQUILA This fine Añejo tequila has been artfully crafted to feature the rich flavor that Hussong’s is known for, with a silky-smooth finish which is unparalleled in the tequila category. This premium tequila is aged in oak barrels for 15 months and then filtered to produce its final crystal-clear appearance. The perfect combination of age blended with beauty. $39.99 www.hussongstequila.com

KETEL ONE VODKA Ketel One has been one of the top selling vodkas for a long time. This Dutch company has been using their small batch production method for 325 years and utilizes a combination of modern and traditional distilling techniques. Ketel One prides itself on raising the bar of the 4Fs: Fragrance, Flavor, Feel, and Finish. The fragrance evokes hints of citrus and honey. The flavor is crisp and offers a lively tingle to the palate. Ketel One’s signature feel creates a silky softness to your tongue, and the long finish has subtle flavors that are unique to the brand. $34.00 www.ketelone.com

MARSHALL STANMORE BLUETOOTH SPEAKER The Stanmore may be a compact Bluetooth Stereo Speaker, but its sound is nothing short of large. Built with advanced components that deliver an accurate response throughout the frequency range, the Stanmore packs a punch without compromising the details. The sound is rich and articulate across the entire spectrum, from the deep and powerful bass, throughout the midrange and on to the highest highs. The overall effect is brilliantly reproduced music, full of energy and drive. Adjustable bass and treble dials provide you with custom control, so your music always sounds just how you like it. $350.00 www.marshallamps.com

MONTBLANC AUGMENTED PAPER ORGANIZER This augmented paper notebook and smart pen is a sleek and stylish object, thanks to the highest level of craftsmanship. Nurtured at the Montblanc Pelletteria in Florence, the brand’s unique innovation propels traditional writing into the digital workflow. With the written notes and sketches can be transferred from paper to a mobile device with the simple press of a button. Once produced on the device, the content can be edited, shared with others and translated into digital text to increase productivity and performance. $725.00 www.montblanc.com

MONTECRISTO CLASSIC SERIES SPECIAL NO. 2 The exclusive 50” x 6” cigars contained within the Montecristo Classic Series Special No. 2 gift jars pay homage to the Cuban tradition. Each gift container, reminiscent of ceramic jars from the 19th century, houses 25 Montecristo Classic Series Special No. 2 cigars. These classic cigars are made in the Dominican Republic with Select Connecticut Shade wrapper, Select Dominican binder, and a Dominican filler. They have been blended into a perfectly balanced, mild, and flavorful smoke. Each handsome jar functions as a humidor, and comes with a Boveda pack and a fitted lid that locks in humidity. It is the must-have Montecristo gift item of the holiday season. $400.00 www.altadisusa.com

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NAT SHERMAN TIMELESS COLLECTION The Nat Sherman Timeless Collection features Dominican Republic and Nicaraguan lines. These two latest additions include standouts like the creamy Robustos and the divine Gordos among others. These sticks are popular new additions to Nat Sherman’s diverse and legendary portfolio. You can purchase these cigars at the iconic Nat Sherman Townhouse in New York City or on the company’s website. They are beautifully packaged in boxes of 20 and 21. Dominican Robusto $149.00 Nicaraguan Gordo $189.00 www.natsherman.com

NESPRESSO CITIZ & MILK The CitiZ was created to appeal to both Nespresso lovers and fans of modern design. The CitiZ & Milk is a fusion of Nespresso’s classic technology and inspiration from retro-modern design. CitiZ provides Nespresso expertise in a fun and intuitive way. The CitiZ’s updated and compact design continues to please its coffee enthusiasts and works with any urban kitchen. Its fast heat-up system brews both Espresso and Lungo coffee sizes and has a removable drip tray to create taller glass recipes. The CitiZ perfectly extracts the delicate flavor and premium aromas of each coffee capsule. The Aeroccino milk frother allows you to create the best of barista-style coffee. The perfect layer of crema results in a high-quality coffee experience. Colors: Cherry Red, Chrome, Limousine Black, and White $299.00

NOLET’S FINEST GINS The Limited Edition Nolet’s Reserve Dry Gin is the personal creation of 10th generation distillery owner, Carolus Nolet Sr. (The distillery was established in 1691.) The Reserve Dry is an elegant sipping gin. The limited edition is annually allocated, bottles are individually signed and numbered by hand, and presented in a prestigious gift box. The distinctive botanicals comprised in the blend (warm, spicy saffron and subtle, delicate verbena) are a gin connoisseur’s holiday dream realized. The Nolet’s Reserve Gin experience is equally desirable when contemplating a year well lived or sharing cheer with family and friends. $700.00 www.noletsgin.com

REGIUS CIGARS “Arbiter Elegantiae” The Regius Black Tube 10-count Box will be a prized smoke set this holiday season. The Black Tube is blended in a traditional flavor profile and is a classic Robusto. The cigar is smooth and creamy on the palate, with some spice to the nose. As the cigar develops, it picks up nutty and chocolaty overtones, and closes with a clean finish. The tube is airtight so the cigar ages in a unique way, developing a rounder, oilier, and more delicately nuanced flavor over time. $85.00 www.regiuscigars.com

ROGUE JOURNALS The Hemingway Favorite is one of the highlights of the Rogue Journals collection. It is a true original. Each hammered design is created by using 10 different leather embossing tools, tanned to achieve a smooth finish with bronze and auburn highlights, and a refined patina that ages to perfection. Crafted for long-lasting durability, the dual-waxed thread creates a crisscross binding holding your paper firmly to the leather cover. Included is your choice of 4 unique handmade papers with lined paper option as well. Sizing is a full 5.5 x 8.5 size with 200 pages. The journal can be refilled with a rebinding service. The Hemingway Favorite can be personalized with an embossed name, date, or initials for your loved one. The gift can be wrapped in in a silk box for a holiday surprise. $85.00 www.roguejournals.com

TANQUERAY NO. TEN Tanqueray No.TEN takes its name from ‘Tiny Ten’, the nickname of the small copper pot still where every drop is produced. Tanqueray No. TEN is the only gin made from whole citrus fruit--white grapefruit, lime, and orange. It is expertly fused with coriander and a hint of chamomile flowers adding up to a unique gin with full-bodied character and citrus undertones. The gin was crowned ‘Best White Spirit” three times in a row at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, at which point it was retired from the competition and voted into the Hall of Fame. The No. TEN has been voted the #1 Best Selling Gin, #1 Most Trending Gin, and Bartender’s Choice in the 2016 Drinks International 50 Best Bar Annual Report. $35.00 www.tanqueray.com

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VDKA 6100 Iconic actor, Robert DeNiro, in partnership with New Zealand’s VDKA 6100 delivers a distinctive, elegant, and luxurious vodka. The blend is gluten-free, sugar-free, and lactose-free. VDKA 6100 appeals to a modern clientele seeking a thoughtfully crafted spirit that is complex, yet approachable. New Zealand, in the pristine natural environment that surrounds Lake Taupo. VDKA 6100 is fermented using fresh seasonal whey and a strain of yeast that has been hand-cultivated in the Reporoa region for over 30 years. The spirit is then finely distilled filtered through carbon “rockets” and blended with crystalline spring waters found in the most isolated parts of New Zealand. The unconventional composition makes VDKA6100 incredibly smooth and exudes exciting aromas of salted caramel, fresh fig, bright citrus and earthy blossoms. The palate is enveloped in a wonderfully silken texture with gobs of fresh fruit and a mineral core. Caramel returns on an everlasting finish. $24.99 www.VDKA6100.com

VENTURA ARCHETYPE Ventura’s flagship PSyKo SEVEN kicked open the doors of the traditional cigar world several years ago, and The Archetype continues that tradition. The Archetype offers a full line of five highly complex, yet perfectly balanced cigar blends. Each vitola is artfully crafted with a unique blend of rich, flavorful tobaccos carefully bound in a pristine wrapper. The Archetype box and bands feature stunning visual imagery of the “Hero’s Journey” mythology, all working in harmony to create a mesmerizing visual and taste experience. Amongst the many palate pleasers in the Archetype line is the Dreamstate. It features a Dominican Connecticut wrapper, and is available in a Robusto , Toro, and Churchill. These mild to medium cigars feature a velvety-golden wrapper that rewards with a complex bouquet of fruit, vanilla, and white pepper. Box 20 est. 169.00-$199.00 www.venturacigar.com

VILLIGER EXPORT The Villiger Export was first produced in 1937. It is clearly the most smoked Villiger cigar and sold in 41 countries. The packaging is classic and very similar to the original design. Villiger’s portfolio is vast and offers the cigar enthusiast numerous options. The outstanding Export has a Natural Wrapper with sublime combinations from Nicaragua, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, and Italy as are the Fillers. Production takes place in Waldshut-Tiengen, Germany with 7‘300‘000 sticks crafted in 2015. The Viller Export: 50 count box est. $75.00. www.villigercigars.com.

WESTWARD OREGON MALT WHISKEY Westward Oregon Straight Malt Whiskey is a rare and original single-barrel American malt whiskey inspired by the towering stills at the great distilleries in Scotland and America. Its blend results in a rich, smooth, and deeply flavorful malt whiskey. This spirit is made from a wash of 100% locally-sourced two-row pale malted barley brewed in a state-of-the- art modern brewhouse. Westward Oregon Straight Malt Whiskey is aged for at least three years in full-size, new charred American oak barrels, allowing Oregon’s dry, warm summers and wet, cool winters to perfect its rich, smooth flavor. Grassy cereal grains, stone fruit, honey, and oak-driven baking spice notes abound in each small-batch bottling. $50.00 www.westwardwhiskey.com

XIKAR “The Best Thing To Happen To Cigars Since Fire” The XO Double Guillotine Cutter is a cutting machine, inspired by timeless design principles. The dual stainless steel blades operate on a planetary gear system, ensuring the blades open and close in perfect harmony, providing a guided and clean cut every time. The distinct, durable, and round aluminum body of the XO is built for relentless and exceptional performance. The XO’s geared cutting system produces synchronized blade action for smoother cuts with a precise, one-handed operation. The XO accommodates cuts up to 70 Ring Gauge cigars. The aluminum body is equipped with stainless steel blades. The XO is a keeper. Blue-Black 119.99 Bronze-Gun Metal Black 99.99 www.xikar.com

ZACAPA RUM Zacapa 23 is an award-winning blend of Rums, aged up to 23 years in the mountains of Guatemala. Zacapa XO is an award-winning blend of rums, aged up to 25 years in the mountains of Guatemala. Zacapa ® XO has all the qualities of the finest, ultra-premium bourbons and whiskies, and is ideal for brown spirits enthusiasts looking for a little more sensuality and adventure in their glass The Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 was the first rum to be included in the International Rum Festival’s Hall of Fame. Zacapa 23: $49.99/Zacapa XO: $120 www.zacaparum.com

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interview

BEHIND the LEAF An Interview with Alan Rubin, Founder of Alec Bradley Cigars

In 1996 Alan Rubin knew about cigars, or as he puts it “I knew what end to cut, and what end to light, and that was pretty much the extent of my experience.� Twenty years later, Cigar & Spirits Magazine Publisher Lincoln Salazar sits down with Alan to discuss what longevity in the premium cigar industry looks like, and what to expect for the next twenty years. By Lincoln B. Salazar & Benjamin Winokur

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LS: Alan, first question, 2016 marks the 20th anniversary for Alec Bradley, what does it mean to you to have made it this far? And What does the future hold for Alec Bradley? AR: “For any company to be in business for 20 years is exceptional, it’s not the norm, and I think for us it means that we’re positively affecting people and giving them good experiences over a long period of time. You hear the term one hit wonder a lot and you know companies that are in our industry or outside in other industries, companies that have some level of success and then they go away. So, for us to be here for 20 years and in all honesty guys, I feel like I’ve been doing this 3 or 4 years. I feel like we’re just at the beginning of where we want to be. I think that the future is very bright for us… when I started this business my father would come in, he’s 89 years old, he’d come in and help out. Today, he still opens the office every morning, he’s here about 2 hours before the office opens, having a cup of coffee turning the lights on, greeting everybody so that’s a really cool piece for me - that for 20 years I’ve been able to see my father 4-5 days a week when I wasn’t on the road, and I still get a chance to do that. Then, on the flip side, now my son Alec- who once he graduated college has come to work with us- and he’s working hand in hand with both Jonathan…along with my partner Ralph, so three generations of our family get to be together most days.” Going more on that, what were you doing before you got into the cigar industry, what was some of your background and your passion to then dive into the cigar business? “Well, other than working for a small sporting goods store and an ice cream shop when I was in high school, I’ve pretty much been in a family business. I worked with my Father, we were importers of nuts, bolts and screws for manufacturing…Really, I didn’t have any experience when I got into the cigar business. When I got in, I knew what end to cut and what end to light, and that was pretty much the extent of my experience. I was speaking to one of my warehouse guys after we sold the fastener company and I was consulting and he asked me “what are you going to do next” and I said “I really don’t have a clue” and he said “you know Alan, you come in at 7 o’clock in the morning with a cigar and a cup of coffee, and you smoke cigars all day in the office, maybe you should try the cigar business.” For my warehouse guy to suggest, and for me to think about it and I said, “God, I love cigars, and I’d love to see if I can do something with it” and that was the beginning of the thought process about getting into the cigar business.” Do you remember your first cigar, and what was your experience like with that? “I do, I do. When I was 22 years old - one of my best friends - his father was a Cuban gentleman who immigrated from Cuba and is truly an American success story, he started in downtown Miami working at a tie store, then he bought the tie store, then he bought the building the tie store was in, then he bought the entire building that included many stores and ultimately he became the largest landlord in downtown Miami. He was a very prominent businessman, as a 22-year-old you always look up to that, you want to emulate that. He always had a beautiful humidor on his desk stocked with cigars and he said “Alan, would you like to try a cigar” and I said “I’ve never had one” and he said “well here’s two” and he gave me a Dominican Partagas and a Cuban Partagas. He handed me the Dominican and said “you can smoke this anytime of the day, but this other one from Cuba”...almost like “don’t operate any heavy equipment” ...”make sure you’re sitting down and have water with you when you smoke this”. A couple days later I was in my office on

a Saturday doing inventory and I got a phone call from one of my customers and he said hey can you check this and see if you have it in stock, and I was smoking the Cuban Partagas, I went to get up on the ladder and I was completely hazed over, missed a rung and almost killed myself. I thought “alright, I need to learn more about this, this is really cool,” and that was the kind of the beginning of my cigar experience. From that point on I would go to the local cigar stores in my neighborhood, spend hours there talking to the tobacconist, going through the humidor and finding cigars that I wanted to try. It’s really been a love affair ever since.” You’re not just a purveyor of fine cigars, you’re also a whiskey connoisseur. What are some of your favorite pairings? “First and foremost, I’m loyal to Glenn Fiddich, and also here’s the other thing, they’re a 5th Generation Family Company. We are quickly becoming a multi-generational cigar family, so there’s a lot of family ties and family feeling. Our understanding of what is the most important, which is quality first, not necessarily revenues and product stream and flow, but all really based on quality and being family businesses we had a lot in common, so that’s kinda where I’ve stayed over the last couple years and I can tell you their standard 12-year-old expression, pair that with a Tempus Nicaragua, that’s going to be a mind-blowing experience. It’s full palate saturation, there’s a lot of textural components that match up really well. Just, it hits a lot of senses, I’m big on the 12-year-old and Tempus Nicaragua but I think my overall favorite is the Glenn Fiddich 15 with our Prensado, I think that’s my number one pairing, that would be my standard everyday go-to.” When you decide it’s time for a new blend, what is your process like? “Well I don’t think there’s a single process, a lot of time we look at our portfolio and say “Hey, is there room for us to develop something in this niche that can be successful, that consumers will gravitate to?” So, that’s one school of thought that we’ve used, the other sometimes is that we find a tobacco that we think is so awesome that we want to find a way to work with it. Whether we’re using Peruvian tobacco, or we’re using a Mexican seed tobacco grown in Costa Rica...we find something that we just think “we want more of that flavor” and then that starts the idea of how do we blend around it? Those are the two basic schools of thought when it comes to doing new blends. We rarely say “hey here’s a trademark that we own, let’s make a blend for it.” It generally doesn’t happen that way, it starts truly from the tobacco.” So, some of the names you come up with, you have the Black Market, the Prensado, the Tempus, what inspires you for some of these names? What’s the theme behind Alec Bradley with these names? “I have to tell you, that’s a great question. Let me just start with Tempus because that’s the best overall story for how something took place. There were very few people using tobacco out of the Jalapa Valley, but we had a farm that we were working with in the Jalapa Valley, but on the Honduran side of the border and we truly fell in love with that tobacco. The process was taking such a long period of time, we were still trying to understand the fermentation process on it, how long it would take, because we had not really worked with that tobacco before. Tempus, meaning “time” in Latin, it started with “this is taking a long time” for us to get this product moving… Time into growing, time into understanding the fertilization, time to ferment, there was a lot of time that we needed to learn. Tempus was one of our successes that really put us on the map.”

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“There’s a lot of great cigars in the marketplace, but for someone to believe in Alec Bradley, that becomes a relationship. That’s probably, what I believe is our biggest success.” Do you have a specific thought process to how the brand grows, changes, and evolves? “Yeah, I think whenever you’re moving forward as a company, the Alec Bradley brand itself has to continue to evolve because consumers’ preferences change and you have to do a lot of listening. You can go out to the marketplace with a product and if the consumers love it, then you did it right. If they didn’t love it you have to figure out what was wrong and allow that to, the next time you come out, make those changes so that people are more accepting…If you pay attention, if you listen, and keep your eyes open, there is a natural evolution taking place, I just have to recognize it, and a lot of times it’s the consumers telling us “We want more, we want it a little differently.” So, I believe that brand evolution and brand growth- a lot has to happen organically.” If there could be just one thing that you accomplish within the cigar industry, what would that be? “One thing would be, relationships. Relationships that I’ve been able to cultivate being in the cigar industry have just been incredible. The relationship with my family, the fact that there’s now three generations here, both my sons Alec and Bradley smoke cigars, and we get to hang out together. It’s not really father and two sons, it’s just three guys hanging out smoking. The relationship we have with our consumers because they believe in us, they’re giving us an hour of their day. There’s a lot of great cigars in the marketplace, but for someone to believe in Alec Bradley, that becomes a relationship. That’s probably, what I believe is our biggest success.” You had a unique message at the 2016 IPCPR trade show based around starting new traditions. What was the inspiration for this message, and what can consumers expect from Alec Bradley going forward? “Well, I think anyone who is really into cigars right now knows that there is a lot going on with federal regulation and FDA. Our messaging really was, “We’re not just here today, but we are planning strategically…to be here for the next 20, 30, 40, 50 years.” The message really was that we were hoping the tobacconists would have confidence in us to know that we’re not just there to sell cigars. We’re there not only to secure our future, but to secure our partners’ future by saying “We’re going to be here, we are planning, we are prepared.” That was what we really felt was a cohesive message for the show last year. I think for next year we’re going to

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take the stuff that was scheduled for 2016 and we’ll move that into the 2017 launches and we’ll probably launch 2 or 3 new projects that we’ve been working on. And again, just delayed due to all the regulation stuff going on, and launch that in 2017. It’ll be some cool stuff for us. Some line extensions, some new stuff, some new tobaccos that we’ve been working with the last 2 1/2, 3 years. I think 2017 is going to be a pretty exciting year for the people who are loyalists to Alec Bradley, and the people who love what we do. We’ll have some exciting offerings for them in 2017.” So, last question, when Cigar & Spirits was first founded we started with the philosophy that we love cigars and we love spirits, but what it means to us more importantly is the camaraderie that people share over a cigar and spirit. What does a cigar mean to you? “I think when you have a cigar, even if you’re by yourself, you’re never alone. You always have this friend with you…When you can share a moment [with others] over a cigar all the egos go away, and you are just there bonding over something you both love and are passionate about. If somebody moves into a new town or new neighborhood and they’re a cigar smoker, within a couple of weeks they’ll have a dozen new friends. That doesn’t happen in every business. That’s one of the things that cigars provide, the opportunity to sit down, take an hour and get to know somebody. That’s very powerful. That’s what a cigar means to me.” Is there anything else, Alan that you’d like to add? “You know what, I think for me, the one thing I want to do is, I want to thank you guys at Cigar & Spirits. You’re providing a platform for guys like me and companies like ours to be able to tell our story, and be able to talk about the passion that we love so much. And to do it in such an eloquent way, you know beautifully kind of positioned publication that you do, I think that it’s exciting for the consumers to be able to put cigars and whisky, two great lifestyle products together, I think you guys have done an amazing job in bringing your product and your publication to the forefront, and again I think personally, I’d just like to thank you for allowing us to have the opportunity to be a part of it.” Thank you Alan, that’s very kind. Thank you so much for your time.


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men’s lifestyle

>> Col. Littleton No 83 Book Bag

CLASSIC LEATHER BAGS FOR EVERY LOOK

SEEKING HIDE

By Dave Johnson

Since the dawn of time, man has prized the Hunt and revered the beasts that gave them sustenance. And after their bellies were full from their meal, they made quick use of every other part of the animal, using bones and sinew for tools and weapons, and using skin for clothing and shelter. Fast-forward to modern day, and man still respects the Beast. Ask a man what constitutes the manliest of materials, and unanimously they roar: “leather.”

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>> Korchmar’s Lux Wesley

Today there are many companies that still respect the Beast and the craft of leatherworking, offering quality products that will last a lifetime. The following suggestions of bags are from companies that still care about quality, locally making and sourcing their leather. Having a quality bag can be both useful and stylish for any man. To make sure you have quality, here are some things to look for. Leather: full grain is best, giving you the whole thickness of the hide. Hardware: look at the buckles, rings, zippers, and clasps—make sure they’re sturdy. Color: while not most important, color is what stands out, so choose wisely. Your mainstays are black, natural, and browns. Those three will be the most versatile, even though there are other colors. Space: buy according to how much you really need. >> Gustin’s slim leather briefcase

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Now let’s talk styles. Let’s start small, because maybe you don’t have much to carry, like documents, iPad, camera, and Every Day Carry (EDC) items. In that case, go with a slim briefcase. Key features with this style are a zippered top and thin body.

>> The Scholar by Custom Hide

First choice is from the hundred-year-old company Korchmar. Their Lux Wesley is perfection, with supple leather on the outside and soft tartan lining on the inside—and their coffee color is superb. It is sleek and stylish, but still subtle, a hallmark of their professional aesthetic. It is beautifully refined for the refined man. Price: $340. Gustin is a company that makes crowdsourced clothing, shoes, and now leather bags. Their slim leather briefcase is a superb value. Premium Horween leather, great hardware, and minimal waxed canvas lining make it a beautiful bag at a fantastic price. Gustin loves leather, and it shows—just look at that burgundy. Get these while they’re hot. Price: $199. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

For many, a slim briefcase is too small, because they simply have more stuff to carry, like a laptop, books, and clothes. A better fit is a full-sized briefcase—the bread and butter of leather bags—which is larger and typically identified by the overlapping cover attached by belt buckles. >> The Classic Briefcase by Custom Hide

For twenty years, Custom Hide has made quality, handcrafted bags at an amazing value. Their medium-sized Classic Briefcase is the perfect size for many. With easy access push-lock closures beneath the straps, sown leather edges, customizable options, and the beautiful leather itself, the attention to detail is stunning. This is the briefcase emoji in real life. And if you need more room, their Scholar is the perfect upgrade. All the standard features, but with two compartments and two front pockets. These bags aren’t for the mountain man. They’re for the professional who loves clean, classic, impeccable lines. Pair one with your Jaguar and you’re set. Prices: $429, $499.

>> The Vanquish by Ruitertassen

Ruitertassen is a Belgian company who began making bags for teachers in 1925. Today, when they aren’t making bags for the Harry Potter films, they are still committed to high quality, thick, chrome-free leather bags. Their chic Vanquish model has European flair, modern aesthetics, quick access tabs, soft interior lining, and timeless quality. This is perfect for a young, casual trend-setter. I had never heard of Ruitertassen until a friend recommended them, and I’m glad he did. Price: $399. J.W. Hulme is another hundred-year-old company, and their bags are some of the classiest and refined I’ve ever seen. Their Editor Brief sports a zippered top like a slim briefcase, but has all the room of a full-size, plus two front pockets. It is simply a breath-taking bag that deserves all the compliments it will inevitably receive. It’s clearly made with pride, and meant to be carried with pride. Price: $945.

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>> J.W. Hulme’s Editor Brief

If a briefcase isn’t your style, but you need a roomy bag, messenger bags are the perfect compromise. They are spacious and simple with quick, easy access. A generous volume paired with minimal outside closures make these perfect for the man on the go. Jackson Wayne makes bags inspired by the 1920s to 1940s, and their messenger bag has a rustic wabi-sabi beauty that cannot be ignored. Literally rough around the edges, it is just as comfortable running cattle as it is running errands. Its boot-thick leather with a simple posted strap make for a delightful, rugged cowboy charm. Price: $375. Since 1987 Col. Littleton has made leather goods with a clear nostalgic aesthetic. The Colonel himself looks like a retired soldier from the Old West, and his bags have a Pony Express appeal that is impossible to dislike. The No. 83 Book Bag in American buffalo hide is at first visually striking. Then you see the details: burnished edges, copper handle frame, quick-release snaps, canvas-lined spacious interior, and engraveable brass plate. If the Colonel plays poker, this is his hidden ace. Price: $985.

>> Jackson Wayne messenger bag

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Eventually you will travel somewhere, and when you do, you should do so in style. For short trips go with a weekender bag or duffel. They are large enough to carry a few changes of clothes, essentials, and extra shoes. But they’re small enough to be airplane carry-ons. Moore & Giles started making leather products in 1933, and now they make some of the coolest bags, with a timeless style and sophistication. They exude old-school masculinity and have that ineffable quality of your dad’s beat up baseball glove or leather jacket. Their Benedict Weekend Bag is perfect for quick getaways. Their Brompton Brown color is stunning, making it look new and weathered simultaneously. Price: $860. If you know leather bags, you might ask why I haven’t mentioned Saddleback Leather yet. The reason: Marlondo Leather. Saddleback is great, but you pay a premium for Mexican-made leather. Marlondo is clearly inspired by a similar rugged aesthetic, but their leather is sourced locally, the quality is the same or better, and their prices far better. Their 22” Weekender Duffel in black is a sight to behold. The brass hardware really pops on its thick black leather. It’s large and in charge—perfect for the no-nonsense badass hopping off their motorcycle. Price: $455.

>> Moore & Giles Benedict Weekend Bag

>> The Weekender Duffel bag by Marlondo Leather

Last but not least is another choice from J.W. Hulme, their Medium Duffel Bag. At twenty-five inches long, it’s large, yet not unwieldy. It reminds me of that guy we all know who is inhumanly handsome. Bring this bag on extended vacations when you need to carry more. And make sure you “accidentally” show your friends this bag. Take pictures of their drooling. Price: $1,475. ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Looking for something similar, but uniquely different? Go check out any of these fantastic company’s websites for other available bags and a wide range of colors.

>> The Medium Duffel bag by J.W. Hulme

Leather is tough and will last a lifetime if maintained properly. It will age, patina, and tell a story unique to each person. It reminds us of our primal natures and our favorite men. It outlives us. And when we carry it and one day give it to our kids, we pass the torch to the next generation who will once again revere the Beast.

You can find more of Dave on his YouTube channel Fragrance Bros.

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TALES OF THE WEEKEND WARRIORS:

BROS DO BRUNCH By Sabeeha Dhillon

Sunday. The final day of freedom where weekend warriors plan a way to make the most of it before the Monday blues hit. Uniting with your squad, watching a Sunday game and waiting on those frittatas covered in bacon, cheese, and hot sauce. Just the cure for last night’s turn of events: hair of the dog. But bros don’t have to hang with just their male friends during brunch; brunch is for everyone, it’s a great way to go out, mix, mingle and have some fun. Who knows, you may even score a couple digits. There are a variety of places to explore the world of in-between meals, when it’s not too early to have a pizza and not late to enjoy an omelet.

estaurants in Orange County and Los Angeles do specials for brunch where you can get great deals that allow you to enjoy yourself without digging a hole in your pocket. American Junkie in Newport Beach, Pearls Rooftop as well as Plan Check Sawtelle in West Hollywood are just a few hot spots where men go brunch and own it. Knock out the stereotype of women being the only ones who love to brunch- men can do it just as well. They can have a great time with some of their closest friends while curing that mad hangover. A Bloody Mary with salt on the rim alongside an order of Eggs Benedict is the remedy for your woes. This peak Sunday meal doesn’t stop in America; take your squad international. The idea of brunch originally started in England in the 19th century. Don’t assume those steak and eggs were simply central to America, not at all. In London, there are a variety of different areas to do brunch. For example: M Restaurant on Victoria street, does brunch relatively the same as Americans; however in a more contemporary manor. If you’re looking for the casual feel, pubs are the way to go. The smell of a slow-poured Guinness, fish and chips, and whiskey paired with an amazing social atmosphere makes for an enjoyable time. Forget the mimosas- go for the original hangover cure, stemming from the birthplace of brunch itself.

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The next overseas hot spot of brunch is: Rome. Rec 23 in Testaccio has an amazing lasagna, pasta, and an apertivo that is sure to cure any ailment from the weekend that did you dirty. Anywhere you go, you can brunch with your bros. No matter the location, it is that sacred time where groups of friends come together to share tales of the weekend and reminisce over the great moments had. Many locations have restaurants that serve during the late morning/early afternoon time frame. As long as there are special deals, foods, and drinks- it is definitely a brunch spot. The atmosphere of that Sunday morning feel should be casual, social, and laid back, all the while filling bellies with delicious goodness. More than a time to eat, it’s a time to bond over a more casual setting than a sit down dinner which begs you to behave in a tie and button up. Show up in what makes you comfortable, relax and enjoy the company surrounding you. No matter what kind of venue or vibe you are searching for, there’s a place for you: It’s always Sunday somewhere.


>> Plan Check Sawtelle in West Hollywood

>> Pearls Rooftop in West Hollywood

>> Rec 23 in Rome

>> American Junkie in Newport Beach

>> M Restaurant in London

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lifestyle

Healthy Travel Tips During the Holidays Stay holly and jolly this season with these 16 travel tips… By Lanee Lee

HO HO HO! YES, THE HOLIDAYS ARE HERE. And you know what that means. Travel! Be it to go home to visit family or escape on that exotic vacation you’ve been planning all year. Cigar & Spirits has you covered when it comes time to jet this holiday season. The question is: how do you feel your best when traveling for the holidays? Here, we break it down into three sections to ensure your trips are comfortable- Pre-Travel, During Travel and On Vacation.

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PRE-TRAVEL PREPARATION RESEARCH GYMS BEFORE

Even if your hotel doesn’t have a gym, a bit of advance research beforehand can help you maintain your fitness routine. Is there a park nearby you can jog in? How about a spin or Cross Fit studio? Also, most hotels, even if you’re not staying there, sell day passes to their onsite gyms. Lining up where you’ll do your workouts while traveling helps you to stick with your fitness regime.

HEALTHY SNACKS

We all know that when it comes to airports and food, they usually don’t offer the healthiest of options. Make sure to stock up on healthy snacks to throw in your carry-on, such as carrots, nuts, jerky, or protein bars.

WORKOUT CLOTHES Sometimes in the rush of packing presents for friends or family, workout clothes are often overlooked. However, if you don’t throw in your running shoes and some quick dry pants and shirts, you’re probably less likely to workout. If you’re concerned about space, pack shoes that can serve a dual purpose—excellent support for exercise and stylish enough to wear to festivities.

SUPPLEMENTS

Simple is the name of the game. The holidays, laden with rich foods and lots of celebratory booze, are not a time to forgo your daily vitamins. Skip packing protein powders that might explode in your suitcase and simply throw in your multivitamins, a probiotic, Vitamin C and maybe one other supplement you can’t live without. To save space, buy a pill case or the tiny pill Ziplocs that every drugstore now carries.

SIGN UP FOR FLIGHT TEXT ALERTS

Because the majority of delayed flights occur during the holidays (usually due to weather and oversold occupancy) alleviate added stress of waiting around at the airport by signing up for text alerts from the airline you’re flying on. Just to be safe, always check the flight status before leaving home. Who wants to be stuck at the airport any longer than you have to?

BRING A WATER BOTTLE

One of the keys to healthy travel is staying hydrated. Make sure to slip a water bottle in your carry on. You actually can take an empty bottle, be it metal or plastic, through TSA. Once you’ve passed security, most airports have water bottle stations that dispense filtered water.

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>> Photo by Mikhail Starodubov / Shutterstock.com

CHOOSING A CHARTER PRIVATE JET Sometimes, it’s worth spending the extra money to be able to fly out on your own schedule, instead of at the airline’s whim. This can alleviate a lot of the stress and anxiety related to holiday travel. App-based companies like JetSmarter, JetSuiteX, and Net Jets specialize in on-demand flights. These apps operate much like hailing a cab via Uber or Lyft. The only drawback is the membership fee and they usually only fly to major U.S. cities, so if mom and the rest of your family reside in the remote hinterlands of Alaska, you’re probably out of luck.

CARRY-ON ONLY

Lost baggage is also at an all-time high during the holidays. This equates to a load of delays and frustrations. You want to be flexible if (when) there are delays so you can easily hop on another flight. If you check a bag, switching flights day-of isn’t possible. HOT TIP: Ship gifts ahead of time and just pack your absolute basics in your carry on.

TUNE UP

Between going to all the holiday parties and planning your trip, giving your car some TLC before a road trip is usually the last thing on your list. Especially if you’re taking a road trip through serious winter weather, make sure to have your tires checked and engine winterized. Check the weather ahead of time to see if you might need chains as well. No one wants to be stranded on the highway instead of in front of a fireplace opening presents.

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DURING TRAVEL GERM PATROL

Antibacterial wipes are saviors when it comes to avoiding getting sick in the airplane. Because the air on flights is recirculated, you’re subjected to an onslaught of germs floating around in the air for hours. Whether you’re in economy or first class, whip out those anti-bacterial wipes and clean off your entire seating area. Don’t miss the remote, arm rests, tray table handles or airflow nozzles overhead.

MOVE IT!

Because you’ll be cramped in a small space for hours on hand during the flight, find opportunities to move around at the airport. Take the stairs instead of the escalator, walk around checking out shops instead of plunking down and checking your phone, or simply take a few stretches in your seat in the airport or on the flight.

SPRITZ YOUR FACE

Bring a water spritzer, like Evian Mineral Spray, and make sure to spray your face every hour of flight. The air in the plane wreaks havoc on the skin and dries it out.

ON VACATION SLEEP IN

Turn off your alarm clock. Use your vacation as a time to catch up on sorely needed sleep. No doubt, you’ll need the extra snooze because you’ll probably be imbibing more than you would and staying up later doing cool stuff or seeing family. Even if you can’t sleep in, do as the Spanish do and snap a nap during the daytime. Remember, holidays are supposed to be holly and jolly, right? If you’re sleep deprived, might as well change your name card at the dinner table to Mr. Grinch.

WORKOUT

Even if you have to do a mini-workout in your hotel, exercise will keep you sane and help you manage any tension or depression that oft occurs around the holidays. For a no-brainer work, try 20 push-ups, 20 squats, 20 sit-ups and 20 lunges. Repeat three times and you have a killer 20-minute de-stressor.

A SALAD A DAY KEEPS GUT ISSUES AWAY

If you grew up in a family like most other Americans, fresh veggies are completely absent from holiday meals. Before the holiday meal (and really everyday of your vacation, make sure to have a huge dark green salad (kale, arugula, baby greens) to help combat all the fat, fried foods and starches that are known to clog the digestive system.

SPLURGE AT THE SPA

Even if your hotel doesn’t have a spa, there is likely one nearby. Splurge on a massage and steam room excursion: it’s a great detox after a night of partying, it melts away stress, and relaxes stiff muscles from traveling.

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>> Rue du Petit Champlain in Quebec

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CIGAR & SPIRITS PRESENTS

WINTER/SUMMER

GETAWAYS

Winter, you either love it or hate it. Or maybe you love it until about December 26th then the holiday cheer is over and you are longing to feel the warm rays of the sun on your skin again. Whether you love to embrace the crisp coolness of fresh winter powder or you prefer to feel the course sand between your bare toes, the winter you want is just a plane ride away.

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Wintery Wonderlands Idaho, USA If Idaho isn’t on your radar, it should be. Whether it is high energy excitement or relaxing indulgence, Idaho has it covered. Once you fly into Boise you are just minutes from a variety of winter experiences like downhill skiing, snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, tubing, and even night skiing at Bogus Basin. A scenic drive to the lakeside town of McCall offers art galleries, ice fishing, and fat-tire snow biking, as well as other experiences unique to Idaho, such as the candle-lit culinary adventure at Blue Moon Yurt.

WHERE TO STAY: Popular among celebrities is Sun Valley Resort, where a stay at the Sun Valley Lodge or Sun Valley Inn provides luxurious accommodations, glass enclosed pools, and a plethora of bars and restaurants for enjoying decadent steak dinners.

WHAT TO DRINK: Visit Boise’s it spot, the Red Feather Lounge for their famous seasonal cocktails, such as the Whisky Sling.

>> Idaho >> Idaho

Quebec, Canada Looking for a magical winter wonderland? Then visit Quebec this winter. Starting in December, Old Quebec transforms into an enchanting Christmas village with sparkling lights and Christmas markets, making a beautiful and nostalgic sight against the historic backdrop. After a day ice-skating, dog-sledding or extreme snow-shoeing, make time to relax at one of the many Nordic spas such as Spa des neiges which sits along the St. Lawrence River.

>> Quebec

WHERE TO STAY: For a unique winter experience stay at Hotel de Glace, North America’s only ice hotel. Open from January through March, guest can sip on a cocktail in the ice bar, take a dip under the stars in the outdoor sauna or enjoy some the many on-site activities before retiring to your quaintly themed suite.

WHAT TO DRINK: Maple is the name of the game in Quebec and many wines and spirits incorporate this flavoring. To keep warm, sip on maple whiskey and enjoy.

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>> Innsbruck

>> Innsbruck

Innsbruck, Austria Cosmopolitan yet charming, Innsbruck is the chic capital of the Alps. As three-time host to the winter Olympic Games, skiers will love taking the Olympic slopes in Axamer, Lizum or Patscherkofel. Visitors can take the Nordkette cable cars for a 20 minute ride from the city center up 6500ft slopes. See the impressive mix of Imperial and modern architecture as you stroll through the many festive Christmas Markets. In old town wander through the medieval streets as they sparkle with holiday cheer, or seek panoramic views of Innsbruck from Hungerburg Christmas Market. >>Central Park in NYC

WHERE TO STAY: The Grand Hotel Europa, a five-star accommodation, was founded in 1869. Retaining its old world glamour, the hotel recently underwent a renovation to incorporate some new modern designs. Now, the hotel sits as grandly as ever in the heart of the city center.

WHAT TO DRINK: During the winter, warm spicy mulled wine or hot punch is readily available, especially throughout the Christmas Markets.

New York City, USA New York City is exciting any time of year, but during the winter it can be a truly delightful experience. Participate in iconic activities such as ice-skating at Rockefeller Center or gazing at the holiday displays on Fifth Avenue; or simply stroll through the holiday markets at Union Square and Columbus Circle. Plus, there are a host of cultural festivals and events like the Lunar New Year, Restaurant and Beer week, and the City Bakery Hot Chocolate Festival. Baby it is cold outside, but this city has plenty of fine dining and sexy speakeasies to keep you warm, fireplaces and all.

WHERE TO STAY: The Knickerbocker is the first luxury hotel in Times Square. Steps away from all the action, this hotel has legendary guests, exceptional dining, and one of the best rooftop bars in the city.

WHAT TO DRINK: Head up to Knickbocker’s rooftop bar, St. Cloud, with its Sky Pods that over look Times Square. While taking in the views, sip on one of their seasonal craft cocktails.

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>>The Knickerbocker in NYC


From sweet to spicy to bold, there’s no shortage of flavorful characters to choose to spend your afternoon with.

www.romeoyjulietacigars.com

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Nozawa Onsen, Japan Nozawa-Onsen Ski Resort has produced 15 Olympians, including gold medal winner Kono Takanori, and is considered one Japan’s best ski resorts. In fact, there is so much quality snow fall that skiing is possible all the way into May. Nozawa-Onsen also has deep historical roots to the natural flowing hot springs, which was produced when the ancient volcano Kenashi-yama erupted millions of years ago. Now, it is a popular hot-spring health resort. In the village visitors can explore the steamy narrow streets littered with shops and eateries, or recharge at one of the 13 free communal Soto-yu bathhouses.

WHERE TO STAY: For an authentic experience stay one of the many Japanese-style inns, also known as a ryokan. Kawamotoya is the recently renovated boutique ryokan with stunning views of the surrounding snow capped mountains and private Onsen bath. WHAT TO DRINK: Warm up in Foot Bar, which is a cool and modern Japanese bar specializing in locally brewed beers and sake. For bourbon lovers, visit Stay Bar for their wide selection of bourbon from around the world.

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Winter Paradise Although Hawaii experiences pleasant weather year round, temperatures do dip into the 70’s and 80’s in the winter. I hope you can handle those frigid conditions while surfing the big waves on the North Shore or playing a round of golf on one of the 40 courses available on the island. Oahu is a fabulous mix of natural beauty, cityscapes, history and culture.

WHERE TO STAY: For the perfect stay, located just minutes from Oahu’s best attractions, stay at the Halekulani. One of Honolulu’s finest hotels is a true island oasis with spectacular views of Waikiki beach. Maybe partake in their daily surf demo or choose to just relax in the beachfront pool. All of Halekulani’s restaurants use the freshest Hawaiian ingredients and provide beautiful ocean views.

>> Photo courtesy of Barbara Craft

Oahu, Hawaii

WHAT TO DRINK:

>> Photo courtesy of Joe Solem

L’Aperitif Cocktail Bar, located at Halekulani’s Five-Star, Five-Diamond, fine dining restaurant called La Mer. Enjoy pre-dinner drinks with their amazing selections of the world’s finest aperitifs.


>> Don CeSar

St. Pete Beach, Florida Voted as one of the top beaches in the U.S, St. Pete Beach also happens to be the sunset capital. If you are sick of bleak grey winter days, cheer in Florida as sherbet colored skies warm you from the inside out. You may just want to relax on the soft sand, but if you are looking for activity there is plenty to be had on the water as well as various areas to explore, like Treasure Island, Pass-a-Grille or Fort De Soto.

WHERE TO STAY: Rising like a pink palace from the turquoise sea is the Loews Don CeSar Hotel. Once a playground of celebrities in the 1920’s, this hotel style oozes Great Gatsby glamour. This luxurious gulf resort is complete with full service spa, two heated pools, and award-winning seafood at Maritana Grille.

WHAT TO DRINK: There are great bars all over St. Pete serving up some pretty exciting cocktails, but for me, nothing beats the Bloody Marys at the Flying Bridge located at the Tradewinds Island Grand.

>> Don CeSar >> St. Pete Beach

>> The Matakauri Lodge sits on Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown

Queenstown, New Zealand Fly South little birdie, fly. Keep going all the way down to New Zealand, because summer season runs from December through the end of February. No matter what the season, Queenstown is all about nature, but with sun shining bright, take advantage of the array of activities offered outdoors. This town is big on adrenaline rushes, so if you are game try bungee jumping, jet boating or skydiving. For the rest of us, nature can be enjoyed with a round of golf at the many breathtaking courses or peaceful walks through the beautiful gardens. >> Alfresco dining at The Mall in Queenstown

WHERE TO STAY: Matakauri Lodge sits on Lake Wakatipu, offering luxury suites and villas with outstanding mountainous views. Pre-dinner drinks, hors d’oeuvres and gourmet dinner, breakfast and a mini-bar with domestic beers are included with your accommodation.

WHAT TO DRINK: If you go to Queenstown you have to visit a winery. Although a variety of wines are produced, the Central Otago region is best known for its Pinot Noir, which tastes even better when sipped at the Gibbston Valley Winery Restaurant.

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>> Relaxing at the lakefront in Queenstown


Anguilla

>> Anguilla

Tranquil and tropical, Anguilla is everything a Caribbean island should be with turquoise seas and powder sugar white sands that stretch for miles. This is where you come to shed your coat, slip into swimwear and soak up the sun as temperatures are at an average low of mid 70’s throughout winter.

WHERE TO STAY: The CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa is situated on Rendezvous Bay, which is considered a perfect walking beach for its white sand and gorgeous views of St. Martin. Gracing the property are 98 luxury Mediterranean-style villas surround by lush landscapes, a sparkling infinity pool that stretches out to the beach bar, and 18 Hole Greg Norman Signature Design Championship Course.

WHAT TO DRINK: You must try a handcrafted cocktail at the Lobby Bar. They actually create cocktails using fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables from an on-site Hydroponic Farm.

>> Anguilla

Greek Isles, Greece Funny story, in research for this project I consulted a colleague ideas on warm winter escapes and they suggested Greek Isles. The average temperature in the winter is mid 50’s, which is cold to this writer, but to my friends in Northern Europe, it is warm. Most days are still sunny, especially if you are lucky enough to visit during the halcyon days, which is 10 to 20 days of beautiful weather that occurs at the end of January or early February. Perfect for exploring ancient ruins and the satisfying gastronomic culture of the islands.

WHERE TO STAY: The Blue Palace Resort & Spa is a five-star resort with dazzling infinity pools that overlook the clear ocean waters and world class dining options.

WHAT TO DRINK: When in Crete, the culinary capital of Greece, you must accompany the delicious cuisine with Cretan wine from one of the many local wineries.

Thanks to diverse global climates, you can have the winter experience you want. Are you a snowbird or a beach bunny? Why choose, winter is a long season. Mix it up and make your own winter wonderland. >> Crete

>> Crete

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vices

FEATURED CIGARS RATED Ratings are the average based on a blind tasting of each cigar by our expert panel of ten cigar connoisseurs, who together possess more than 100 years of cigar-smoking experience.

SOUTHERN DRAW CIGARS ALEC BRADLEY CIGARS

ALEC BRADLEY CIGARS

MUNDIAL

BLACK MARKET

SIZE: 7” x 52 WRAPPER: Honduras BINDER: Honduras FILLER: Honduras, Nicaragua

SIZE: 7” x 50 Churchill WRAPPER: Honduras BINDER: Sumatra

TASTING NOTES: Medium bodied cigar, full flavored with rich earthy undertones and hints of spice.

TASTING NOTES: Medium to full bodied cigar offering a complex profile of spiced earth.

FILLER: Panama, Honduras

QUICKDRAW PENNSYLVANIA BROADLEAF SIZE: 5.5 x 40 WRAPPER: Pennsylvania USA BINDER: Nicaraguan FILLER: Proprietary Nicaragua & Honduras TASTING NOTES: Medium-Full bodied. Oily and rich in flavor with a deep sweet finish from the Pennsylvania broadleaf wrapper.

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


ALTADIS USA

SOUTHERN DRAW CIGARS

MONTECRISTO WHITE SERIES

QUICKDRAW HABANO

SIZE: 6” x 54 Toro WRAPPER: Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade BINDER: Nicaraguan FILLER: Dominican & Nicaraguan

SIZE: 5.5 x 40 WRAPPER: Ecuadorian BINDER: Nicaraguan FILLER: Proprietary Nicaraguan

TASTING NOTES: Mild bodied and mild strength, featuring flavors of wood and leather with coffee notes.

TASTING NOTES: Medium Flavor, Medium Body offering notes of sweet vegetation, tobacco, earth, and a decadent spice throughout.

GURKHA CIGARS GURKHA CIGARS

GURKHA GRAND RESERVE SIZE: 6.25” x 52 WRAPPER: Connecticut BINDER: Dominican FILLER: Dominican TASTING NOTES: Mild-medium. Cognac infusion creates a rich, decadent smoking experience that envelops your palate.

GURKHA HERITAGE SIZE: 6.5” x 54 WRAPPER: Ecuador Habana BINDER: Nicaraguan FILLER: Dominican, Nicaraguan, United States TASTING NOTES: Medium-Full bodied, mediumfull strength. Notes of cedar, tobacco, and earth are present as the primary tasting notes.

INCA CIGARS

INCA IMPERIO SIZE: 6” x 60 WRAPPER: Peruvian BINDER: Peruvian FILLER: Peruvian TASTING NOTES: Sweet, smooth and delicate. Mild-medium strength with a matching body of flavor that increases as you smoke. Easy to smoke and highly enjoyable with a great complexity throughout.

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LA AURORA

UNTAMED EXTREME

JRE TOBACCO

JRE TOBACCO

TATASCAN HABANO

TATASCAN CONNECTICUT

WRAPPER: Connecticut Broadleaf

SIZE: 5” x 50

BINDER: Dominican, Nicaraguan

BINDER: Authentic Corojo

SIZE: 5” x 50 WRAPPER: Connecticut BINDER: Authentic Corojo FILLER: Habano & Authentic Corojo

SIZE: 5” x 50

FILLER: Dominican TASTING NOTES: Medium to full bodied cigar. Woody notes, specifically oak and cedar, coffee and toasted notes, citrus and nutty on the finish.

WRAPPER: Habano FILLER: Habano & Authentic Corojo TASTING NOTES: Mild-medium bodied with rich undertones and an unmistakable Corojo spice finish.

TASTING NOTES: Mild-medium body and strength. Slightly sweet with a soft spice throughout.

ESTEBAN CARRERAS BLACK WORKS STUDIO

KILLER BEE

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CHUPA CABRA HELLCAT

SIZE: 4x 46” WRAPPER: Ecuadorian Maduro BINDER: Nicaraguan FILLER: Nicaraguan

SIZE: 5.5” x 54 WRAPPER: Mexican San Andres BINDER: Nicaraguan FILLER: Nicaraguan

TASTING NOTES: Medium to full bodied and full strength. Notes of black pepper, cocoa and wood.

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.

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ESPINOSA PREMIUM CIGARS

ESPINOSA HABANO SIZE: 5.5” x 50 WRAPPER: Ecuadorian Habana BINDER: Nicaraguan FILLER: Nicaraguan TASTING NOTES: Medium bodied with abundant flavors of nuts, cedar, leather and spice along with creamy undertones.


ESPINOSA PREMIUM CIGARS

LA ZONA HABANO SIZE: 5” x 52 WRAPPER: Nicaraguan Habano BINDER: Nicaraguan FILLER: Nicaraguan TASTING NOTES: Medium strength and bodied. Well rounded notes of spice, earth, wood and a grahamcracker like sweetness on the finish.

ALPHA CIGAR

LA BARBA RED

ABSINTHE INFUSED- SAN ANDRES CLARO

SIZE: 5 ¾” x 46 WRAPPER: Corojo BINDER: Habano Criollo FILLER: Ligero Corojo TASTING NOTES: Medium strength and fullbodied. Complex throughout with cedar on the forefront followed by earth and sweet subtle raisin notes. Hints of dark chocolate and nuts flit in and out throughout the smoke.

SIZE: 5” x 50 WRAPPER: San Andres natural BINDER: Dominican FILLER: Nicaraguan TASTING NOTES: Medium-bodied. Possesses a smooth earthiness balanced by notes of dark chocolate, coffee, and kitchen spices.

NESTOR MIRANDA

LA BARBA CIGARS

JOYA CIGARS

COROJO

LA BARBA PURPLE

JOYA BLACK

SIZE: 4.5” x 50 WRAPPER: Nicaraguan Corojo BINDER: Nicaraguan FILLER: Nicaraguan TASTING NOTES: Rich and flavorful with an expected spice that diminishes as you smoke, giving way to a rich creamy finish.

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LA BARBA CIGARS

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SIZE: 5” x 50 WRAPPER: HVA Havana Ecuadorian BINDER: Dominican Corojo FILLER: Corojo, HVA Habano Carbonell TASTING NOTES: White pepper with notes of caramel and cedar throughout.

SIZE: 6” x 52 WRAPPER: Mexican San Andres BINDER: Nicaraguan FILLER: Nicaraguan TASTING NOTES: Medium bodied. A complex smoke filled with sweet and creamy notes.


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CALDWELL CIGARS

ROOM 101

LA AURORA

CHIEF COOL ARROW

LA AURORA CONNECTICUT

SIZE: 5” x 50 WRAPPER: Connecticut BINDER: Dominican Filler: Dominican

SIZE: 5 ½” x 30 x 59 x 19 WRAPPER: Mexican Ligero BINDER: Corojo Seco FILLER: Pennsylvania Ligero, Esteli Ligero, Piloto Cubano

TASTING NOTES: Mild to Medium. Notes of cream, coffee, and cedar.

TASTING NOTES: Medium-Full with hickory wood notes, giving way to brewed coffee, anise, and spice throughout.

ALPHA CIGAR COMPANY

ABSINTHE INFUSED CONNECTICUT SIZE: 5” x 50 WRAPPER: Connecticut BINDER: Dominican FILLER: Nicaraguan TASTING NOTES: Mild bodied and exceptionally smooth. Hints of wood, cream and earth are at the forefront, with a soft anise that stays constant in the background.

ALPHA CIGAR COMPANY

ABSINTHE INFUSED SAN ANDRES MADURO SIZE: 5” x 50 WRAPPER: San Andres Maduro BINDER: Dominican FILLER: Nicaraguan TASTING NOTES: Full bodied infused with a French verte absinthe creates a rich and medium-full flavored cigar that offers licorice, coffee and earth notes. :

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EASTERN STANDARD MIDNIGHT EXPRESS SIZE: 7.5” x 40 WRAPPER: Connecticut Arapiraca Maduro BINDER: Dominican Habano FILLER: Dominican Criollo, Dominican Corojo TASTING NOTES: Medium full in body and strength, red and white pepper are present on the nose along with cocoa, nuts and anise throughout. Hints of vanilla show up towards the end of the cigar on the finish.

CAO CIGARS

CONSIGLIERE SIZE: 5” x 52 WRAPPER: Brazilian BINDER: Honduran FILLER: Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Colombia TASTING NOTES: Full bodied with sweet hints of cinnamon and nuts.


VENTURA CIGAR COMPANY DUNBARTON TOBACCO & TRUST

MI QUERIDA SIZE: 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.

VENTURA CIGAR COMPANY

ARCHETYPE STRANGE PASSAGE SIZE: 6” x 60 WRAPPER: NSA & Habano Hybrid BINDER: Dominican San Vicente FILLER: Multi-Country Blend TASTING NOTES: : A multi-dimensional, fullbodied powerhouse that transforms throughout the smoking experience- from freshly roasted coffee and aged wood to an earth fruit and spice finish.

NAT CICCO

HHB GOLD SIZE: 6 ¾” x 58 WRAPPER: Ecuadorian Habano BINDER: Nicaraguan FILLER: Dominican, Nicaraguan TASTING NOTES: Medium-Full bodied. Earthy barnyard notes with a touch of leather and orange spice.

VENTURA CIGAR COMPANY

ARCHETYPE DREAMSTATE

ARCHETYPE SAGE ADVICE SIZE: 5.5” x 50 WRAPPER: NSA & Habano Hybrid BINDER: Dominican San Vicente FILLER: Multi-Country Blend TASTING NOTES: This exotic blend of rare, aged tobaccos creates a profound, fullbodied smoking experience that explodes with leather, dried fruit and spice

VENTURA CIGAR COMPANY

ARCHETYPE AXIS MUNDI

SIZE: 6” x 50 WRAPPER: Ecuadorian Connecticut BINDER: Dominican San Vicente FILLER: Multi-Country Blend

SIZE: 5” x 46 WRAPPER: Ecuadorian Habano (Maduro) BINDER: Indonesian Sumatra FILLER: Nicaraguan Habano

TASTING NOTES: This mild-to-medium cigar features a velvety-golden wrapper that rewards with a complex bouquet of fruit, vanilla and white pepper.

TASTING NOTES: Full bodied and sublimely balanced Nicaraguan powerhouse that delivers rich, complex layers of spice, dried figs, maple syrup and charred oak.

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vices

FEATURED SPIRITS RATED SPIRITS RATINGS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016

PETE CHIMNEY 12-YEAR-OLD Scotch Blend of 16 malt whiskies - emphasis on Islay Peat and smoke are in the foreground upon tasting, with an underlying citric sweetness Palate: Cool menthol flavors of fresh lime harmonizes with peat embers smoldering in the fire. Maritime characteristics of driftwood and seaweed linger on the tongue. Water intensifies the sweet peat on the palate. Finish: Waves of spice and gentle smoke last long in the finish.

40% ABV | $59.00 MSRP | 91 Points

COMPASS BOX THE SPICE TREE Scotch Whisky As in the past, The Spice Tree is made from 100% malt whisky sourced from northern Highland distilleries, (notably and primarily malt whisky distilled in the village of Brora). The primary maturation is in a mix of first-fill and refill American oak. What is different is the secondary maturation. Rather than using inner stave inserts, as done for the original Spice Tree, the whisky is racked into barrels with heavily toasted new French oak heads. Oak, with three different levels of toasting is used on the barrel heads, thus allowing the resultant whiskies to create additional layers of complexity. This secondary maturation lasts as long as two years. Big, sweet aromas of clove, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. The palate is full, round and sweet, with the spice and vanilla complementing the core distillery characters and leaving a long finish.

46% ABV | $69.99 MSRP | 92 Points

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THE DALMORE KING ALEXANDER THE III Scotch To celebrate the pioneering and innovative values of the Mackenzie Clan, The Dalmore’s Master Distiller has painstakingly created the only single malt in the world to unite a unique six cask finish for one outstanding achievement. Spirits Matured in ex-bourbon casks, Matuasalem oloroso sherry butts, Madeira barrels, Marsala casks, Port pipes and Cabernet Sauvignon wine barriques are combined in perfect harmony to create a uniquely complex, yet smooth single malt. Taste: Citrus zest, vanilla pod, crème caramel and crushed almonds. Finish: Sweet cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger

40% ABV | $230.00 MSRP | 95 Points

ANGEL’S ENVY CASK STRENGTH FINISHED IN PORT BARRELS

THE DALMORE 15 YEAR Scotch The Dalmore, 15-year-old is smooth, rich and well rounded; the epitome of The Dalmore house style. It is initially matured for 12 years in American white oak ex-bourbon casks. The character of The Dalmore 15 is achieved by then splitting the whisky equally between three different sherry woods: Amoroso, Apostoles and Matusalem oloroso for a further 3 years. The spirit is finally married together in an upstanding sherry butt, allowing the flavors to infuse. Taste: Mandarin, vanilla, ginger and crushed apples. Finish: Christmas spice and oak

Bourbon Whiskey Angel’s Envy begins as a super-premium whiskey of uncompromising character and quality, aged up to seven years to the perfect level of richness and maturity. But only a few of those barrels meet the brand’s incredibly high cask strength standards. These hand- selected barrels are then blended and receive a lengthier finishing process in Portuguese port wine casks. Palate: Notes of caramel coffee, dried fig, aged tobacco, toasted sourdough bread. Finish/Feel: rich and buttery, with a bit of a burn at full proof. Add a touch of water and it lingers enjoyably.

62.3% ABV | $179.99 MSRP | 93 Points

40% ABV | $76.00 MSRP | 93 Points

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CHARBAY 1999 PILSNER WHISKEY, RELEASE III

TEQUILA TAPATIO EXCELENCIA EXTRA ANEJO

Whiskey This marks the third release from 1999 Collector’s Whiskey Series (20,000 gallons of bottle ready Pilsner distilled by Miles & Marko Karakasevic). Fermented from100% Two-Row Barley grown & malted in British Columbia, then Double-distilled in an Alambic Charentais Pot Still. Aged 6 years in new American White Oak barrels (charred #3 Gator Skin), and 8 additional years in stainless steel tanks, which allows all the barrel flavors to integrate. Only 10 barrels were chosen for the 14-year-old release for a total of 224 cases.

Tequila 100% Estate grown Blue Agave, distilled in 2000 at La Altena Distillery in Arandas, Mexico; Aged 5 years in once-used American Oak (Char #4 ‘96 Excelencia Lot #1 barrels), then stored in 5L glass jars for another 10 years. Bottled in 2015.

Aromas of caramel and vanilla lead to flavors of maple syrup, vanilla, rich caramel, cinnamon, leather, tobacco, dried stone fruit, even marzipan… lush, rich mouth-feel and lingering finish

Fabulous intensity of flavor with all the aromatic elements perfectly delineated: intense cooked Agave, cake, spices, brown sugar, chocolate, vanilla and caramel, nuts and light spices, all of which are assembled into a sumptuous whole, with the creamy taste of oak.

40% ABV | $159 MSRP | 94 Points

66.2% ABV | $425.00 MSRP | 95 Points

TEQUILA CHINACO Tequila Chinaco Tequila Reposado is barrel-aged for eight to 11 months - Chinaco has followed the same production process since its inception - Ripe agave hearts roasted in autoclave at low temperatures for 12 hours - Hearts are pressed and shredded in an old Molino - Fermentation occurs in steel tanks, using Chinaco’s signature natural yeast - The aguamiel ferments for 72 hours - Distillation takes place in two copper-lined alembic stills - No caramel coloring, oak extract, glycerin or sugar is used Farming at elevations reaching 5,000 feet allows for greater phenolic ripeness, imparting a spiciness and herbal quality while maintaining acidity.

40% ABV | $54.99 MSRP | 92 Points

ASOMBROSO, THE COLLABORATION Tequila The Collaboration is another groundbreaking Masterpiece using Asomobroso tequila and Napa’s esteemed Silver Oak Cellar’s American casks. This has produced a one of a kind Super Ultra-Premium 11-Year-Old, Double Barrel Rested, Cabernet Sauvignon Anejo. Distinct from any other tequila in the world, with hints of vanilla, oak, butterscotch from the 11-year French oak resting, and a bountiful kiss of fruit, boysenberries and fine-grained tannins from the Silver Oak barrel, which adore the agave and culminate with a taste experience of pure pleasure.

40% ABV | $1,800 MSRP | 95 Points

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EFFEN BLOOD ORANGE

DOUBLE CROSS VODKA

Vodka EFFEN® Vodka is a Super Premium Vodka whose name means smooth, even and balanced in Dutch. It is made from 100% premium wheat, which results in a silky, smooth liquid.

Vodka Small-batch distilled in a 13th-century village in the Tatra Mountains of Slovakia. 7 times distilled, 7 times filtered.; Made with estate-grown winter wheat and Pure Tatra mountain spring water

EFFEN Blood Orange offers a sweet citrus zest, and lingering, smooth finish.

Silky and creamy. Balanced with bright flavors of white pepper and lemon zest. A warm, medium-long finish leaves you with a dry, clean palate.

37.5% ABV | $26.99 MSRP | 92 Points

40% ABV | $39.99 MSRP 95 Points

CHARBAY DOUBLE AGED RUM

CHOPIN POTATO VODKA Vodka Based in the countryside of Poland, Chopin Vodka is one of the only vodka brands in the world that actually owns and operates its own distillery. It takes seven pounds, or roughly forty potatoes, to produce one bottle of Chopin Potato Vodka. Its uniquely creamy and fullbodied flavor profile makes it a great standalone vodka, ideal for sipping neat or in a vodka martini. Subtle green apple and vanilla nose, Creamy and earthy taste, Full bodied mouth-feel with a long, clean finish, no burn

40% ABV | $29.99 MSRP | 96 Points

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Rum Charbay’s founder, 12th Generation Grand Master Distiller Miles Karakasevic, and son, Marko, sourced Hawaiian and Jamaican sugar cane syrup for their rum to showcase tropical island cane character. They double-distilled the rum in Charbay’s all copper Alambic Charentais pot still, typically used to distill full bodied, very flavorful brandy. At 10:1 reduction of sugar cane syrup to finished rum, this trifecta of cane syrup, an alembic still and 13 generations of distilling heritage created this one-of-a-kind rum. The rum was aged twice: first for five (5) years in stainless tanks, then in old French oak barrels for three (3) years before resting in the bottle until release. Tasting Notes: Marshmallow crème and brown sugar on the nose, starting with a sharp spice on the tip of the tongue; followed by vanilla and smoky, toasted oak which culminates in a bold, long finish coated in sugar and spice.

68.5% ABV | $450.00 MSRP | 89 Points


VOYAGER GIN Gin Voyager Gin is artisan distilled using only the finest grain spirits and select, all organic plants, herbs and spices. Top botanicals from around the globe are selected to insure that Voyager is truly a world class product that carries forward the traditions of 19th century craft distillers. These ingredients are placed into a handhammered copper alembic pot still and carefully distilled to insure that the finished flavor and aromas are fully integrated and complementary. The result is an ultra-premium spirit that mixes perfectly in your favorite gin-based cocktail: Voyager Gin tastes the way gin is supposed to taste: bold juniper, fresh, light citrus and mild hints of exotic spices; not like whiskey, not like vodka. And definitely not like the potpourri sitting on your grandma’s dresser.

42% ABV | $30.00 MSRP | 94 Points

GOSLING’S FAMILY RESERVE RUM Rum Gosling’s Family Reserve Old Rum Crafted from the same Bermuda blend as Black Seal with one subtle change, Gosling’s Family Reserve Old rum is left resting in charred oak bourbon barrels where it is aged until it has acquired a luscious well balanced complexity much like a rare scotch or cognac. Ultra-premium, aged Old Rum is aged for an additional 16 years in oak bourbon barrels, to create an incomparable richness and complexity, much like an XO cognac. Each bottle is hand numbered, and put together in the original way Black Seal was, in a champagne bottle, sealed with black wax. (This is how Gosling’s Black Seal got its name, from the sealing wax the bottle was dipped in.) Deep, complex nose that awakens the senses to a variety of flavors such as leather, chocolate and a hint of pepper. In the mouth, there is an elegant delivery of these flavors that are perfectly balanced by just the right amount of oak aging.

OLD TOM GIN Gin The subtle malt is the result of using a base wort of malted barley, combined with an infusion of botanicals in high proof corn spirits. The final distillation is run through an alambic pot still in order to preserve the maximum amount of aromatics, flavor and body. Only the “hearts of the hearts” is retained for this special bottling. Ransom Old Tom Gin opens with seductive aromatics of juniper berries and coastal forest, set off by apothecary spice notes of cardamom and angelica. The palate is rich and silky, with malt flavors punctuated by lively citrus zest and heady exotic notes of coriander and teak. The gin continues with suppleness and power, with the warmth and richness of the malt carrying clean, focused botanicals on a long, elegant finish.

44% ABV | $38.00 MSRP | 95 Points

40% ABV | $99.95 MSRP | 93 Points

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featured pairing

TIMELESS

ELEGANCE Featuring Alec Bradley Cigars by Greg Mays

Alec Bradley Mundial and The Dalmore King Alexander III ALEC BRADLEY’S MUNDIAL, their “world” blend of sorts, offers a Honduran wrapper with Honduran and Nicaraguan filler and binder. At $16 MSRP, this is a mid-priced cigar for Alec Bradley. For this pairing I smoked the Punta Lanza No. 7, a 7” x 52 stick with a tapered foot. A cursory pre-light smell is a combination of sweet tobacco and barnyard hay. The Mundial lights easily and is a relatively light pack, giving it an easy draw. The cigar itself is a spicy and bold flavor showcase with a medium tobacco strength. The smoke output is aA little bit above average and burns even. Throughout the smoke, the spice is a cinnamon, hay and moist earth flavor which eventually gives way to a cinnamon-and-sugar sweetness as you reach the final third. I paired the Mundial with a classic Dalmore Malt: King Alexander III, named for the brave Colin of Kintail, Clan Mackenzie, who killed a large stag that was charging at King Alexander III. Dalmore itself uses their 12-pointed stag as an ode to the bravery of Colin and their ancestors’ past. King Alexander III retails for about $200 a bottle is matured in 6 different casks: ex-bourbon barrels, sherry butts, Madeira barrels, Marsala casks, Port pipes, and Cabernet Sauvignon barriques. This leads to a malt that is sweet and fruity, and quite delicate contrast to the boldness of the Alec Bradley. As the smoke progressed, Dalmore’s King Alexander III added flavor dynamics to the pairing that was delicious and filled in the gaps of the Mundial. This pairing is a perfect example of seemingly conflicting flavors that work well together: the sweet, cool and fruity Dalmore with the fragrant, earthy, and savory Alec Bradley Mundial are an excellent pair.

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ALEC BRADLEY MUNDIAL PUNTA LANZA Size: 7” x 52 Wrapper: Honduras Binder: Nicaragua Filler: Honduras/Nicaragua MSRP: $16


>> Photo courtesy of Greg Mays

DUCHESS COCKTAIL

in a mixing glass, add: 1 oz absinthe 1 oz dry vermouth 1 oz sweet vermouth stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass garnish with a lemon twist

ALEC BRADLEY FAMILY BLEND T11 Size: 6.125” x 52 Wrapper: Honduras Binder: Indonesia Filler: Nicaragua/Honduras MSRP: $7

Alec Bradley Family Blend and Duchess Cocktail HERBAL LIQUORS like gin or absinthe are rarely the first choice when pairing with a cigar as they can be very difficult to pair when compared with pairing-friendly liquors like bourbon or scotch. As you know, though, herbal has a place in the cigar world, too, and it’s especially prevalent in cigars from Honduras. Many of the blends in the Alec Bradley family are earthy and rich, which they owe to their Honduran heritage. The Family Blend, which has now given way to the Legacy Family Blend, is no exception, and pairs well with the herbal options in the liquor world. The Alec Bradley Family Blend offers a mini tour of the southern hemisphere, with a Honduran wrapper, Honduran and Nicaraguan filler and a binder from Indonesia. This yields a cigar which is complex throughout the profile, but doesn’t break the bank at a modest $7 a stick. As expected, when I lit the Family Blend in T11 Torpedo (6.125” x 52), I had a mild, flavorful cigar with familiar earthy characteristics. A medium-strength smoke, the wrapper is almost sticky-sweet and the draw yields a pronounced citrus tang in the finish, like a holiday orange-and-clove spice. While moist soil and a touch of earth are present at times during the smoke, the sweet citrus spice is the clear profile for this cigar. For pairing, I chose an herbal and dry cocktail, something that’s a pretty stiff drink but holds up well with the flavor variety the Family Blend delivers. The Duchess Cocktail is from the Savory Cocktail Book, an English mainstay, and was originally published during Prohibition in 1930 by American bartender Harry Craddock. I need to quickly note the importance of fresh vermouth in this (or any) cocktail. Vermouth is a wine fortified with a harder liquor (usually brandy or neutral grain spirit) to stabilize it a bit. Because of the wine backbone, though, it still has a limited shelf life of approximately 1 month in the refrigerator. Taste test some spoiled vermouth yourself and see – a product that’s usually pretty bitter becomes unbearably so after it’s been open a few weeks. The Duchess, of course, pairs well with the plethora of flavors in a cigar like the Family Blend, and while it’s usually tough-to-pair because it’s got a clear herbal profile, an earthy cigar rooted in Honduras (or a similar region) is a fitting tribute. These two complement each other with a powerful pairing of herbs together with the pronounced, sweet black-licorice flavor of the absinthe. Enjoy!

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CREATIVE CRAFTMANSHIP

By Amanda Keeley Thurman

SITTING AT THE DIMLY LIT MAHOGANY BAR, you are handed an extensive cocktail list. Some you recognize and some you do not. Tongue-in-cheek cocktail names with odd ingredients and complex flavor combinations catch your attention and maybe even make you chuckle. Looking around, you notice the various bottles and barrels filled with infused elixirs and homemade syrups. There are rows of exotic flavored bitters and bowls of fresh fruits and herbs. Despite the shiny shakers, crystal mixing glasses and various odd tools such as eyedroppers and spray bottles out for display, this is not strictly speaking the laboratory of a mad scientist. This is where craft cocktails are made.

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WHAT IS A CRAFT COCKTAIL? As a bartender at a craft cocktail bar, I am often asked to explain what makes a cocktail craft. Well, the answer is in the title, because every element of the cocktail is crafted. From the quality handmade ingredients to the skillful techniques, each component is tailored specifically to the drink, providing a full sensory experience. Not only should it be pleasing to the eye with the proper glassware, garnish and color, but it should also have a fresh aroma and balance in flavor and texture. What truly makes a craft cocktail extraordinary is that it enhances the base spirit rather than covers it up. This is accomplished by the bartender paying special attention to even the finest of details. Despite the laboratory faรงade, craft cocktails are as much an art as they are science.

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What truly makes a craft cocktail extraordinary is that it enhances the base spirit rather than covers it up.


ELEMENTS TO A CRAFT COCKTAIL Probably the single most important element to a craft cocktail is fresh ingredients. Freshly squeezed juices, homemade syrups, and clean dense ice all play a role in keeping cocktails bright. Craft bartenders spend a lot of time prepping their bar, squeezing juices, making syrups, and making sure all produce is fresh. Like artisanal food, there is a major emphasis on flavor that can only come from high quality ingredients. To keep things exciting, there needs to be an element of surprise. Unexpected liquors, unusual flavor combinations, and the unique use of herbs and spices can turn a cocktail into an experience. Bartenders have a lot of fun creating new cocktails or interesting twists on classics. There is a recent trend for bars to create in-house infusions, giving them freedom to generate outrageous flavored spirits for use in various cocktails. Another way is with the use of bitters, which are like that secret ingredient that you can’t quite figure out. In fact, bitters are pretty unique to craft cocktails, because you really have to understand what they do to a drink and how they compliment different spirits in order to use them properly. Bitters are made by steeping roots, barks, and flowers in alcohol, and allowing for the concoction to age. Although the liquid is too pungent to drink straight, bitters do not make a drink bitter! Rather, they are better compared to the salt and pepper of the cocktail world. They are there to boost the flavors of the main ingredients of the drink. Actually, you’d likely not notice the presence of bitters, but you would certainly notice their absence. There are a plethora of flavors on the market today, but the most common bitters in use are Angostura, Peychaud’s and Orange. Anyone can slap together a drink in two seconds and call it a cocktail, but a craft cocktail requires time and precision. Some people like to say that a craft cocktail is a ten-minute drink that is overpriced and undersized, but that is not entirely true and completely misses the point. Craft cocktails contain only prime ingredients, and without a bunch of fake fillers they can be quite powerful. They may be small, but they can pack a punch. Plus, they are meant to be savored, not pounded. As for the time it takes to craft the perfect cocktail, it should be praised that the bartender has the respect for the patron as well as the cocktail to take the time to make it right. We eat with our eyes first and that goes for drinking as well. So naturally, presentation is everything when it comes to a craft cocktail. Each cocktail should be served in custom glassware such as a Collin, coupe, snifter or bucket glass. As far as garnishes are concerned, they do not need to be elaborate to be craft. What they should do is enhance or complement the drink in some way. For example, a burnt orange peel or citrus twist should be squeezed over the glass to release the oils and aromas that make a cocktail appetizing before the first sip is even taken.

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TOOLS & TECHNIQUES Like a chef, a proper bartender has a basic toolkit for creating truly crafted cocktails. Common tools include a muddler, mixing glass, shaker, a long-handled bar spoon, jiggers, julep strainer, Hawthorne strainer, juicer, and garnish knife. Of course, craftier cocktails demand other interesting tools. For instance, I use antique perfume bottles to achieve the perfect mist. The muddler, used for crushing sugar or pressing herbs and fruits, is one of the oldest tools in the bartender’s arsenal, dating back at least to the American Revolution. It is an essential tool for properly incorporating fresh ingredients into a cocktail by releasing explosive aromatic oils. Once the ice, spirit, juice and syrups are blended with these oils it creates a very intense and rich cocktail. Shake it baby! The Boston shaker allows the bartender to easily combine hard to mix ingredients like eggs, citrus and milk. Originally, the Boston shaker was a metal cup over a glass cup, but glass is not a good conductor of heat. Now, most bartenders prefer shakers with both ends made of metal in order to produce much colder cocktails. Of course, with this type of shaker a Hawthorne strainer is used to strain the cocktail. The Julep strainer is typically used for over a crystal mixing glass to strain stirred drinks. Funny enough, they don’t strain Juleps. The Hawthorne strainer has a spring around the edge with the flexibility to fit over various shaped glasses and tins, and is most typically used to strain shaken drinks.

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Barspoons are used to stir cocktails that don’t require vigorous mixing like Martinis and Manhattans. Since shaking puts air into a drink, stirring helps produce a very heavy and silky texture in the cocktail. The long and twisted handle allows drinks to be gracefully stirred with a subtle motion of the wrist. Jiggers are necessary for consistent drinks. Free pouring bartending is not a sign of experience. In fact, even the most experienced and respected bartenders understand the importance of jiggers when it comes to making perfectly crafted, balanced, and accurate cocktails. The more complex the cocktail, the more a jigger is necessary. There are some cocktails that require tools only serious bartenders would be familiar with or know how to utilize. These are craftsmen and cocktails are their crafts. Some of the odder tools include nutmeg grater, iron pokers, spray bottles, droppers, various knives, fine mesh strainers and vacuum filters. Creating the perfect craft cocktail demands precision, appropriate tools and ingredients, and a detailed understanding of mixology to deliver pleasant textures and flavors. It is important that bar patrons recognize the art and science that goes into creating good craft cocktails, and appreciate the value of an experienced bartender in crafting an unforgettable experience.


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RING MY BELLS EGGNOG Serves 12 INGREDIENTS 12 large egg yolks 2 cups sugar 4 cups cold milk 1 cup heavy cream 1 1/2 cups Jim Beam Bourbon 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Freshly grated nutmeg or cinnamon for garnish DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, whisk the yolks and the sugar until smooth and frothy. Whisk in the milk, cream, bourbon and vanilla extract. Transfer into a pitcher or punch bowl for serving. Top each individual serving with freshly grated nutmeg or cinnamon.

MERRY MOSCOW MULE Serves 4 INGREDIENTS Fresh lime wedges 4 solid copper mugs Ice 8 ounces Nolet’s Gin 16 ounces ginger beer 8 ounces cranberry juice Frozen cranberries, for garnish Rosemary sprig, for garnish DIRECTIONS

Squeeze the lime into the copper mug. Fill mug with ice and pour gin, ginger beer, and cranberry juice over ice. Garnish with cranberries and rosemary sprig. Stir and enjoy!

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JINGLING CRANBERRY JULEPS Serves 8 INGREDIENTS 1 cup water ¾ cup sugar 2 strip fresh orange peel 1 cup fresh cranberries 1 cup Maker’s Mark Bourbon 8 sprigs fresh mint DIRECTIONS

In 2-quart saucepan, heat water, sugar, and orange peel to boiling on high. Add cranberries and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until cranberries pop and split but still hold their shape. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until cold. When ready to serve, strain cranberry syrup through sieve set over 1-quart liquid measure; discard solids. Spear raw cranberries on each of 8 toothpicks. Stir bourbon into syrup. Fill 8 glasses with crushed ice. Divide bourbon mixture among glasses. Garnish with cranberry spears and mint.

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VIXEN’S VODKA CIDER Serves 4 INGREDIENTS 24 ounces apple juice 8 teaspoons ground cinnamon 2 ounces caramel syrup 4 ounces Ketel One Vodka Whipped cream (optional) Caramel sauce (optional) DIRECTIONS

In a saucepan, bring the apple juice, cinnamon, and caramel syrup to a boil. Reduce heat, and add vodka. Let simmer for 5-7 minutes Serve in a mug. Top off with whipped cream, another dash of cinnamon, and/or caramel sauce, if you prefer.

HOLLY JOLLY COFFEE Serves 4 INGREDIENTS

2 cups hot coffee 1/2 cup half-and-half, heated 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 3/4 cup Zacapa Rum Top with Whipped Cream and Grated Chocolate for garnish DIRECTIONS

Select 4 mugs. In a pitcher, stir together the coffee, half-andhalf, sugar, cardamom and nutmeg. Pour 3 tablespoons of the rum into each mug and top with the warm coffee mixture. Stir gently, add the whip cream, sprinkle the top with the chocolate and serve immediately.

MARGARITAS WINTER WONDERLAND STYLE Serves 4 INGREDIENTS 3 1/2 cups apple juice 1 cinnamon stick 2 cups dried fruit of your choice 2 tbs granulated sugar 4 shots of Casa Noble Tequila Blanco DIRECTIONS

Combine apple juice and cinnamon in a heavy pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, add sugar and simmer for 10 minutes. Carefully remove cinnamon stick. Add tequila and mix well. Put a few spoonfuls of dried fruit into individual mugs, pour Warm Winter Margarita over it and serve immediately. (If you want, you can put the dried fruit on cocktail skewers so that your guests can easily enjoy the garnish.)

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PURO SABOR FESTIVAL 2017 FROM JANUARY 16 THROUGH THE 21ST, 2017, cigar enthusiasts, producers, retailers, publishers and bloggers will meet for the sixth time at “Puro Sabor Nicaragua 2017”. Puro Sabor is the premiere Nicaraguan cigar event that has continued to grow in scope and attendees since it began, and has quickly become one of the top cigar festivals in the world. The festival is organized by the Nicaraguan Chamber of Tobacco and sponsored by some of the biggest cigar companies in the business. Sponsors include a variety of the most popular Nicaraguan cigar companies, including Drew Estate, Joya de Nicaragua, My Father Cigars, Oliva Cigar Company and Padron Cigars. While the focus of the festival is cigars and the cigar industry, what sets the Nicaraguan Cigar Festival apart is a continually expanding agenda which provides attendees with an immersive experience that shows how much Nicaragua has to offer in addition to some of the finest tobacco and cigars in the world. Much of the time will be spent touring cigar factories and tobacco fields, but organizers also make sure that anyone who visits Nicaragua has the opportunity to learn about and enjoy the country’s history, architecture, cuisine, agriculture, natural beauty, famous landmarks, shopping and hospitality. One of the most important and lasting legacies of the event is charity; highlights of the gala dinners are always traditional charity auctions offering one of a kind items provided by the sponsors. Proceeds benefit social projects and school programs in Esteli. In addition to the opportunity to support local charities, emphasis throughout Puro Sabor is placed on how the tobacco industry supports tens of thousands of jobs, contributes to social, environmental and

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NICARAGUA TRAVEL INFO: FOR U.S. TRAVELERS with a valid passport who are interested in visiting Nicaragua, Managua International Airport is just a little over two hours away via direct flights from Atlanta, Houston, Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. American, Delta, Continental, Spirit and Avianca airlines all have regular flights into Managua. Travel throughout Nicaragua with a tour group can be pre-arranged or established once you arrive. In addition, all major rental car companies are available as well as taxis and buses. Accommodations are as diverse and available for every budget and itinerary as anyplace else in the world, and online tourism resources are abundant. A great place to start in order to start planning your trip is www.visitnicaragua.us, which contains information specific to travel to and within Nicaragua, as well as basic facts, history and culture, events and where to go during your stay.


WHAT SETS THE NICARAGUAN CIGAR FESTIVAL APART IS A CONTINUALLY EXPANDING AGENDA WHICH PROVIDES ATTENDEES WITH AN IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE THAT SHOWS HOW MUCH NICARAGUA HAS TO OFFER IN ADDITION TO SOME OF THE FINEST TOBACCO AND CIGARS IN THE WORLD. community programs, and its impact on the economic growth of the country. Juan Martinez, who sits on The Nicaraguan Tobacco Chamber, and is President at Joya de Nicaragua noted, “Most of the profits from the festival go into social and community causes, such as education and environmental programs that we have to support the development and well-being of the people in Estelí and the northern regions.” This year the festival is expected to draw people from more than 30 countries from around the world. As soon as attendees land in Managua on day one, they will be greeted by event organizers and head to the city of Granada to check in to the hotel and begin exploring the city. Transportation to all festival activities and outings is provided by the organizers, and cigars are provided by the event sponsors throughout the trip. The day after arrival, guests will enjoy a tour of Granada, the surrounding islets in Lake Nicaragua, and the Mombacho Volcano Nature Reserve. Itineraries can be customized with activities like hiking, zip-lining or visiting a coffee plantation. After shopping and a look around the active Santiago volcano the day ends at La Polvora Fortress, one of the oldest and most historically significant buildings in the city. On the third day, everyone departs for Esteli for lunch with the Plasencia family followed by visits to different cigar factories. Dinner that evening is at Joya de Nicaragua. The fourth day of the festival is a tour of the city’s main cigar factories where everyone will enjoy time with the owners and their cigars, as well as panel discussions. The evening meal focuses on authentic Nicaraguan cuisine, along with music and dancers in traditional colorful folk costumes. Day five is spent in the tobacco fields of several plantations with lunch in one of the Padron family’s curing barns. That final night is an amazing gala dinner to close the festival, and will be held at the Tabacalera Oliva factory. The organizers for Puro Sabor manage to add more and more exciting activities every year, and 2017 will be no exception. The reviews from past attendees are universally positive and share some common themes. The warmth and hospitality of the hosts and locals, and the camaraderie and friendship of the members of the international cigar community are a large part of the overall enjoyment. All of the food, top tier beverages and entertainment are first class. Of course, more cigars and cigar related goodies than anyone ever expects adds to the experience, as does the unprecedented access to the owners of major brands with indepth production and industry information shared on-site at the legendary farms and factories where they live and work. Perhaps the most telling testimony of all is if you attend one Puro Sabor, you will surely be back time and time again.

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Cigar & Spirits Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, Benjamin Winokur, had the opportunity to catch up with Juan Martinez of Joya de Nicaragua to discuss the Puro Sabor festival. C&S: “What does the Puro Sabor Festival mean to the people of Nicaragua?” JM: “Puro Sabor is a celebration of the successes and achievements of our Tobacco and Cigar Industry. It is a way of sharing with the world not only our gratitude for opening up their minds, palates and hearts to our cigars and our brands, but also sharing the opportunities that we are collectively building. Most importantly, however, for us Puro Sabor is about sharing Nicaragua to the world. If it wasn’t for this country, its natural blessing and its people, none of us would be here. It is only consequential that our friends, customers, partners, distributors and suppliers get to experience and enjoy a little bit of our rich culture, our diverse food, and beautiful environment and the warmth of our people.” “Tobacco is one of the top exports, what kind of effect could the FDA regulations have on Nicaragua?” “It is difficult to know by now. The regulation will come into effect in the next two to three years, so the effects will come slow. We are still evaluation (sic) the risks and threats, but obviously we foresee an effect on the growth and dynamism of our industry. The Nicaraguan tobacco and cigar industry has been characterized by rapid growth, high quality and innovation in manufacturing technique, all of which will likely be hindered to some degree by the regulation. It is too early to know the effects, but we do know that all of the members of our organization are working and preparing themselves to face all the challenges and come out stronger. Ultimately, as you already know, all of our industry will be affected, but the biggest looser (sic) will be the cigar lovers around the world!” “How has the cigar industry affected Nicaragua in the last 5 years, and how do you see it affecting [Nicaragua] going forward? “The cigar industry has not [negatively] affected our country; it has had a tremendously positive impact in employment, investment, export and tourism. Nicaragua is one of the world’s most important Premium Hand Made Cigar Manufacturers in the world. Our country is home to more than 50 world class companies producing Premium cigars for the US market, where more than 80% of our production is sold. The Nicaraguan production accounts for close to 40% of the Premium Cigar market in the United Stated and our products are considered amongst the best in the world.” “Would it be safe to say that the cigar industry is deeply embedded in the well-being of the Nicaraguan economy?” “Our industry plays an important role in Nicaragua’s economy, especially in the northern part of the country where more than 35,000 people are permanently and directly employed by our companies, contributing to the social and economic well-being of more than 160,000 people. The agro-industrial chain of Premium Cigar manufacturing creates between 33,000 and 35,000 direct and permanent jobs in the Northern region of Nicaragua. It his high quality employment with higher than average salaries and a very high formality rate, especially for women.”

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“That must make the industry responsible for an enormous number of residents.” “Based on the Household Survey, it can be inferred that the average employment of the tobacco industry gives benefits to 3.9 additional household members; therefore, the agro- industrial sector of the tobacco provides livelihood to more than 160,000 people in the Departments of Estelí, New Segovia, Madriz and Rivas. According to the official data, the monthly payroll of the tobacco sector exceeds the $ 6.4 million, currency that are used in the local economy and that trickles down in other economic activities such as commerce, tourism, agro-industry, the financial sector and others. In 2015 the tobacco and Cigar Manufacturing were the third product most important agro-industrial sector and the third product with more export in the country under the Free Zone Sector, with values that increased approximately 12% over the previous year.” “What can people look forward to at this year’s festival, that might be different from past years?” “We are extending the festival for a couple days, with some tourism taking place in the first few days to enjoy Nicaragua’s beautiful and vibrant culture and traditions. We will be visiting more factories, as we have new members in our organization and we will be spending more time at each factory so attendees have the opportunity to experience more of the cigar making process.”

Anyone who is interested in joining the festivities from January 16th until the 21st of 2017 have until December 19th to register at www.nicaraguancigarfestival.com. The price of registration includes transfer to and from the airport, hotel and transportation to all activities, food and beverage, accident insurance and a variety of cigars produced by sponsoring partners. All guests must be over 18 years old to attend. The cost for attending Puro Sabor 2017 is $1700 for a single ticket and $1550 per person for double occupancy, with prices increasing after November 1st. Group rates vary and are available by contacting the festival organizers.


LIFE AFTER SHOTS SPLENDOR OF THE BLUE AGAVE By: Julie Harrington Giffin

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he tequila landscape spans wide and blue across the nutrient-rich terrain of Jalisco. Boasting with lush, blue weber agave, the hills and valleys of Tequila country claim home to the spirited elixir of the same namesake as its birthplace. Connoisseurs know all too well the history and pride that lives within each bottle of tequila. And yet, this liquid beauty so often misunderstood, can carry an unfavorable reputation that demands rectification.

>> Photo: Benjamin Winokur, Courtesy of Casa Noble Tequila

What’s all the fuss about anyway? Jose this and Jose that, Don this or Don that, Agave sip or Agave sap…what’s it all about? For starters, let’s put to rest the misnomer of the agave plant. IT’S NOT A CACTUS! The agave, “Agave Tequiliana Weber Blue” to be exact, is the not so mysterious succulent hailing from the lily (Amaryllis) family. Often confused as a cactus, there are several hundred species of agave, yet only the tequiliana weber blue is used in the production of 100% tequila. Furthermore, Mexican Law mandates the cultivation of the blue weber agave and the tequila production thereof, remain rooted in the state of Jalisco, which includes the town of Tequila, its Appellation of Origin. Tequila’s enduring and fruitful ancestry dates back to the Aztec civilization and the year 200A.D., with the production of pulque (pronounced POOL-kay), a fermented sap or “honey water” extracted from the heart of the maguey. Maguey, a Spanish term referring to various species of the agave plant, was considered sacred by Aztec civilization and the consumption of pulque was done so ceremoniously. From maguey to glass, this prized elixir was so favored that the Aztec culture worshipped Patecatl and Mayahuel, the God and Goddess of pulque and maguey, respectively. Adding to this ancestry, is the delightfully complex, distilled spirit, mezcal. Utilizing one or more species of agave (most often Agave Espadin), they reign from the states of Oaxaca, Guerrero, Durango, San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas. The agave is fire-roasted in deep, in-ground pits that impart a penetrating, smoky quality-the most distinguishing trait of a mezcal. Almost unheard of five years ago, mezcal is seen as a staple on cocktail menus across the U.S. due to its sudden and exponential popularity. Not everyone’s “cup of nectar” and in many cases, an acquired taste, mezcal’s involved flavor profile makes it a favorite among bartenders. From the native pulque to distilled mezcal, evolved the pulse of Mexico’s most distinctive and exclusive spirit, tequila. Like most spirits and their blurred historic beginnings, the actual account of the first production of tequila remains debatable, but early folklore credits the 16th century Spaniards in Jalisco with the dubious honor of making “mezcal wine” in Tequila, the small town which is bestowed the honor as the notable birthplace of this celebrated spirit. Commercial distilling of tequila was not seen until 1758 by the well know Cuervo Family and later in 1873 by the Sauza Family, both of whom were significant in establishing tequila as we know it today into American culture. Revered by a culture deeply rooted in tradition, tequila is a symbol of national pride and honorably shared among family and friends. Far from the collegiate amusement of shooting tequila, premium, boutique tequila was produced for sipping and savoring the sweetness of the agave and the flavors relinquished from the barrels in which it is aged.

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THIS PRIZED ELIXIR WAS SO FAVORED THAT THE AZTEC CULTURE WORSHIPPED PATECATL AND MAYAHUEL, THE GOD AND GODDESS OF PULQUE AND MAGUEY, RESPECTIVELY.


>> Photo: Benjamin Winokur, Courtesy of Casa Noble Tequila

COOKING THE AGAVE SOFTENS AND CARAMELIZES THE FLESH AND TRANSFORMS THE SUGARY SAP INTO MORE LIQUEFIED FERMENTABLE SUGARS READY FOR EXTRACTION.

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SO, WHAT EXACTLY IS PREMIUM TEQUILA? The production of tequila is not a simple stroll through the agave fields. The name itself became the intellectual property of Mexico in 1974 and it is highly regulated by the CRT (Consejo Regulador del Tequila), the organization regulating the culture and quality of tequila production, and whose mission statement reads as follows: “Verify and Certify with ethics, honesty, transparency and impartiality the compliance of standards applicable to TEQUILA, to products containing TEQUILA and its source materials, as well as Quality Specifications and Systems, safeguarding the Designation of Origin, both in Mexico and abroad, creating trust and added value for our members, clients, collaborators, government bodies and agencies, for the benefit of the consumers.” 100% agave tequila that satisfies CRT standards is identified with a government issued NOM (Norma Oficial Mexicana) number on each bottle. The NOM number represents the authorized distillery where the tequila is produced, bottled and labeled. It is further guarantee to the consumers that the bottle contains pure, premium, 100% agave tequila. To clarify, there are 2 categories of tequila: 100% Agave Tequila, is made exclusively from the blue weber agave as set forth by the CRT. It is identified by name as 100% de agave, 100% puro de agave, 100% agave, 100% puro agave. Tequila, without the appropriate identifying names suggests it is a “mixto” containing up to 49% of other sugars added to the 51% extracted from the blue weber agave.

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WHEN IT COMES TO ENJOYING PREMIUM 100% AGAVE TEQUILA, SET ASIDE THE SHOT GLASS AND PICK UP A SNIFTER. SIP AND SAVOR THE HISTORY, TRADITION AND ART THAT LIVES AND BREATHES IN EVERY GLASS.


Because the way you live matters

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remium tequila begins with planting the Tequiliana Weber Blue Agave. Success and quality of the agave depends greatly on the Jimador. Jimadors are experts in the cultivation of agave from seed through harvest and whose time honored skills, passed down through generations include planting, cultivating, harvesting and prepping agave for tequila production. The maturation period of the agave before harvesting is approximately 9 years, allowing ample time for the essential carbohydrates or natural sugars to develop (24 or more Brix), for fermentation. Once harvested, the experienced Jimador skillfully removes the long blue leaves with a coa. The coa is a sharp round blade designed to penetrate the fibrous, agave leaves with ease. Each agave can weigh upward of 200lbs and leaves can number as high as 200 plus. A challenge tis not for the respected Jimador who can rid the agave of its leaves in 5-6 minutes flat. Once removed of its leaves, the underlying piña, named for its resemblance to the pineapple, are cut in half and sometimes quarters in preparation for cooking. International Premium Spirits, the producers of Dos Armadillos Tequila, go one step further and generously cut and discard the bitter head and tail (top and bottom) of the piña leaving only the center cut or “heart”, the sweetest part for tequila production. Cooking the agave softens and caramelizes the flesh and transforms the sugary sap into more liquefied fermentable sugars ready for extraction. The traditional ovens for tequila production are made of brick or stone and the pinas are steam roasted. Modern ovens constructed from stainless steel are called autoclaves and operate in a similar fashion. Once the ovens are loaded, the doors are shut and the pressure steaming begins. This process can last anywhere from 24-48 hours followed by another 24-hour “cooling” period. Once cooked, the agave fibers are soft enough to extract the alguamiel or “honey water” necessary for fermentation. The most efficient method of extraction is with the modern mechanical shredding mill. With the addition of purified water to aid the process, the mill extracts the liquified sugar or syrup from the agave by literally shredding the fibers. The more traditional method of extraction is with the use of a tahona. The tahona is a large stone wheel that was once pulled by a mule to crush the agave. Tequila Fortaleza is one such brand that holds fast to the traditional methods of tequila production. In addition to utilizing century old stone ovens, Tequila Fortaleza has a tractor pulled tahona crush their agave in a circular stone pit. Fermentation, the process of converting sugar into alcohol, can take anywhere from 3 - 12 days with the resulting liquid or wort (also referred to as must or mosto) having a 4% - 7% alcohol content. Stainless steel tanks or traditional wood vats ranging in size from

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10,000L up to 50,000L for larger producers, are filled with the honey-water collected during the extraction process. Fermentation can begin naturally in open-air tanks utilizing existing air-borne yeast, but more often it is with the addition of a proprietary yeast. Open or closed, the tanks are aerated commencing an aerobic fermentation process where the yeast multiplies and the process of converting sugar into alcohol begins. Many brands closely guard the yeast strain used in their fermentation process because of the profound effect it has on the flavor of the tequila. Considered family recipes, these strains have remained secrets for generations. Many variables affect the time required to complete fermentation. The size of the tanks, temperature of the environment, an open-air or closed tank method, proprietary yeast, optional yeast accelerators and if used, the 1 percent allowable additives by the CRT, all play a roll. Once the Master Distiller determines the completion of fermentation, distillation begins. Distillation removes impurities from the wort while increasing the alcohol content to 20%-25% through steam-heated vaporization. Mexican law mandates a double distillation process to produce tequila. The first distillation referred to as crushing, averages 2 hours and creates a liquid called ordinario. Distillation is carried out in pots or column stills made of stainless steel and/or copper. Regardless of the still, the process is the same for both. The wort is placed in a pot or broiler just above a burner that heats the wort. As the wort heats, steam is created and collected in the adjacent columns which are then condensed and cooled in coils that separate the alcohol from impurities. The different compounds in the wort have varying boiling points which allows for this separation. It is the job of the skilled Master Distiller to control the delicate process of collecting only the juice from the heart of the piĂąa. Like fermentation, distillation impacts the quality and final flavor profile of the tequila. The second distillation is called rectification. Rectification is completed in 3-4 hours and transforms the ordinario into tequila. Ideally, this second distillation produces a tequila at 40% alcohol or 80 proof, so as to safeguard the unadulterated agave flavor and avoid dilution in order to reach the desired proof. After distillation, the tequila can rest in the tank, go straight to bottling or be transferred to barrels for aging. Essentially, you have a tequila that is ready for consumption; so time to sip and savor.

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The 4 main expressions of tequila are blanco, reposado, anejo and extra anejo. These expressions differ only in time aged.

Blanco, also known as plata or silver, is favored by the purists and is truly tequila in the raw. Its pure agave flavor is distinguished not only by subtleties during production but from the origin of the agave and its influence from the terroir. As a general rule, an agave from the valley region, rich in volcanic soil, lends itself to a spicier agave profile complimented by bright herbaceous notes. An agave from the highlands is more delicate in flavor with floral and citrus notes complimenting the soft agave base. Although generally unaged, Mexican law allows blancos to rest in barrels up to 2 months. The resulting Blanco carries a pale yellow hue and for the most part, unremarkable notes from the barrel. Reposado refers to tequila that has rested in barrels from 2 months up to one year. The name itself means, “rested” and although brief, this resting imparts a light to medium gold color and oak notes measuring soft to bold depending on whether the oak is French, American, new or used and even charred. A note on aging...Different barrels share their unique flavor traits with the aging tequila. New American Oak is known for its bold oak-forward contributions. In contrast, French Oak is known for the release of more subtle oak traits.. You will also find tequila rested in French or American oak to have a smoked quality in flavor. This quality is in response to producers choosing to char the barrel before aging the tequila. In addition to the smoked quality, the charring brings forth fresh wood characters, flavors and sugars to the surface of the barrel adding to the personality of the tequila. The char can range from light to heavy and it is simply a choice based on the ultimate flavor profile the producer is going for. Unique in flavor are tequilas aged in used whiskey barrels. These tequilas in part, take on the flavor of the whiskey that occupied the barrel before it and are distinctive to the experienced palate. Far from the traditional textbook methods of aging tequila, we now see more than ever creativity in production resulting in new flavor qualities for the various expressions of tequila. One such tequila comes from the brand Asombroso. The La Rosa Reposado rests 3 months in French oak and then transitions to Bordeaux wine bar-

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rels. The typical light gold hue of a traditional Reposado has been traded for soft pink with a flavor that offers a subtle sweetness from mid-palate to finish.

Anejo, aged 1 – 3 years, is an aromatic, full-bodied, cornucopia of flavor. Amber in color due to the longer aging process, the rich creamy anejo was meant to be enjoyed neat or on the rocks. Considered the whiskey crossover among spirits, the anejo performs beautifully in the whiskey classic, Old Fashioned cocktail.

Extra Anejo, designated as a classification in 2006, is defined by its aging of 3 years or more. This lengthy aging produces an inviting mahogany colored spirit, elegant and abundant with soft, balanced flavors. Still in its infancy, producers continue to experiment with the longer aging process and its effect on the final profile. The underlying agave flavor in this extremely smooth and complex expression appears to all but disappear, but the character from the barrel whether American, French, used bourbon or even cognac, shines in its celebrity status. Whatever your preference, there is no right or wrong. Everyone’s palate is different and therefore everyone’s opinion of the “best” or “favorite” expression is varied. But when it comes to enjoying premium 100% agave tequila, set aside the shot glass and pick up a snifter. Sip and savor the history, tradition and art that lives and breathes in every glass. From the Blanco’s dominant sweet agave or the oak-forward reposado, to the creamy warm-vanilla anejo, or the smooth and elegant extra anejo...to experience “Life after Shots” is to luxuriate in the Splendor of the Blue Agave.

Research Acknowledgement: “Tequila, A Global History, Williams Ian, 2015. In Search of the Blue Agave, www.ianchadwick.com Experience Tequila, www.experiencetequila.com Asombroso Tequila, www.asombrosotequila.com Tequila Fortaleza, www.tequilafortaleza.com Dos Armadillos a Tequila, www.dosarmadillostequila.com “Life after Shots” (protected under the copyright laws of the United States)


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vices

Unique Craft Distilleries

Don’t think the Bourbon Trail features only big-name distilleries. If you’re game to take the road less traveled, the Bourbon Trail Craft Tour has a plethora of exciting spirits to tempt your taste buds. By: Sarah E. Coleman

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While many of the hard-hitting distilleries are included on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, like Four Roses, Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark, there’s still more bourbon adventure to be found in the Bluegrass on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour. Read more here: kybourbontrail.com/craft-tour/ An essential road trip for bourbon enthusiasts, these off-the-beaten-path distilleries will allow you to appreciate Kentucky bourbon even more deeply than before. So pack your bags and head out to some of the most beautiful country in the world: Bourbon Country!

Hartfield & Co. Paris, KY www.hartfieldandcompany.com

Bourbon County, Ky., quite literally brought bourbon to the world. It’s ironic, then, to think that there has been no active distillery in Bourbon County since 1919—until now. Located just miles from downtown Lexington, Hartfield & Co. Distillery is the first licensed distillery in Bourbon County in 95 years; their motto is “Small town, small batch.” And Hartfield & Co. intends to stay small to focus on the “craft” of craft distilleries. The distillery takes a new path on their bourbon mash bill, using the malted barley as a flavor grain instead of just a useful starch converter. While most distilleries use about 5 to 7 percent malted barley, Hartfield & Co. uses 19 percent, which adds in notes of tobacco and smoke. Hartfield & Co. offers an Experimental Whiskey Collection that plays with re-charring barrels, mash bills, distillation methods and more, all while staying within the confine of what a true “whiskey” is. Some of their recent releases include New American White Oak with European Oak Finish and New American White Oak with French Oak Finish.

Barrel House Distilling Co. Lexington, KY www.barrelhousedistillery.com

With a new cocktail lounge, Barrel House Distilling, which crafts Pure Blue Vodka, Devil John Moonshine, Devil John Dark Shine, Oak Rum and Rockcastle Bourbon, opened its doors in 2008 as the first legal distillery in Lexington since the 1950s. Housed in the barrel house of the old James E. Pepper Distillery in an area of Lexington nicknamed the “Distillery District,” the distillery utilizes a Portuguese-made Hoga still to craft their unique libations. Though they have been making bourbon since their founding, their first bourbon release came in 2015.

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The Old Pogue Distillery Maysville, KY www.oldpogue.com

Nestled on the banks of the Ohio River in northeastern Kentucky, the Old Pogue Distillery in Maysville was Kentucky’s first major shipping port. Now operated by fifth- and sixth-generations of the Pogue family, the original recipes are still used to craft their spirits. The flagship product of the distillery, Old Pogue Bourbon is a smallbatch, Kentucky straight bourbon whisky; Five Fathers Pure Rye Malt Whisky is bottle at 55 percent and boasts a caramel and peppery taste.

New Riff Distillery, Newport KY www.newriffdistilling.com

“Urban with old roots,” the New Riff Distillery opened in 2014. While still utilizing a traditional column still that uses corn and rye to make their bourbon, the New Riff still has a unique side conveyor that allows grains to be added at any time during the distilling process. Though bourbon is the cornerstone of the distillery, they also offer a straight rye whiskey, as well as “New Riff New Make,” which is a new take on White Dog. Available in both bourbon and rye, these spirits never touch a barrel, going directly from the still to the bottle, showing exactly what ingredients went into the spiritmaking process. The distillery also offers unique craft artisanal spirits like Bourbon Barreled Kentucky Wild Gin, which utilizes dozens of herbs, roots and seeds from around the world, and places them in used bourbon barrels, where they rest for 7 months before being bottled.

Wilderness Trail Distillery Danville, KY

www.wildernesstracedistillery.com Just 30 miles from downtown Lexington, the Wilderness Trail Distillery tour is well worth the scenic drive. The oldest legal distillery in Danville, their Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey utilizes a three-grain mash bill that is all locally grown and ground on-site. A “sweet mash” process is then used (instead of sour mash), which sets Wilderness Trail’s bourbon apart from other brands. Sweet mash has been said to create a softer spirit that allows the flavors of the grain to shine. Wilderness Trail’s limited Pot Still Bourbon is made in single, 400-gallon batches that make only one barrel of bourbon per batch—called single barrel bourbon. This true small-batch bourbon is cooked, fermented, distilled and barreled as one single batch meant to be bottled from that single barrel.

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Limestone Branch Distillery Lebanon, KY www.limestonebranch.com

With a family history deep in distilling, brothers Steve and Paul Beam constructed the Limestone Branch Distillery with authenticity at the forefront of their minds. Using a 150-gallon, hand-hammered copper pot still to create small, one-barrel batches, their Yellowstone Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon features a hand-picked blend of smoky, spicy and sweet bourbons. Limestone Branch also boasts other unique spirits like T.J. Pottinger’s Sugar*Shine flavors, which come in combinations like apple cinnamon, blackberry, cherry, pumpkin pie, strawberry and jalapeno. Their MoonPie Moonshine is also a true Southern staple that should not be missed!

Willett Distillery Bardstown, KY www.kentuckybourbonwhiskey.com

Breaking ground on their family farm in 1936, the Willett Family out their first barrel into storage on St. Patrick’s Day in 1937. In 1942, they launched their Old Bardstown Bourbon Whiskey. The family took a break for seven years to renovate the distillery, and began distilling once again in 2012. While it would be easy to assume that Old Bardstown Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey was so named for the hometown of Willett, it was actually named after a racehorse, who was campaigned by Calumet Farm. With 31 career starts, Bardstown finished first 18 times; he had 7 seconds and 1 third, and a lifetime earnings of $628,752. Also sold are Old Bardstown 90, Old Bardstown 86 and Old Bardstown Gold Label. Aptly named for a young soldier who was a drummer during the Civil War and who began making whiskey upon his return to Kentucky, Johnny Drum Private Stock Bourbon has woodsy, smoky notes. Also available are Johnny Drum Black Label and Johnny Drum Green label. Willett Family Estate Bottled Bourbon is a barrel-proof, straight bourbon whiskey that boasts a label on the bottle that is the only one of its kind in existence.

Kentucky Artisan Distillery Crestwood, KY www.kentuckyartisandistillery.com

The Kentucky Artisan Distillery is home to Whiskey Row Bourbon, aptly named for its location on Main Street in Louisville, whose local moniker is Whiskey Row. Formerly the trading center for all spirits distilled in Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, whiskey from upriver was blended with Kentucky whiskey and warehoused before being sent downriver to New Orleans. Whiskey Row Bourbon is a blend of small-batch bourbons designed to recreate the whiskeys of generations past. Also produced on-site is Jefferson’s Bourbons, which are really small-batch, using only eight to 12 barrels per batch of bourbon. Some of their more-unusual recipes include Jefferson’s Ocean: Aged at Sea, in which the bourbon barrel spends 6 months in the hull of a ship that travels to multiple continents and crosses the Equator four times. Chefs Collaboration was created specifically to be paired with food. Jefferson’s also offers The Manhattan, a barrel-aged, pour-and-serve cocktail to be paired with food. They also have the unusual Groth Cask Finish, in which the bourbon spends its last few months in used cabernet sauvignon barrels. www.jeffersonsbourbon.com WWW.CIGARANDSPIRITS.COM

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MB Roland Distillery Pembroke, KY www.mbroland.com

A complete “grain to glass” distillery on old Amish farm, MB Roland uses local white corn to produce their Kentucky Bourbon, which is bottled at distillation and barrel proof in the style of pre-Prohibition bourbon. This bourbon usually comes in between 102 and 108 proof (51 to 54 percent ABV), and is full-flavored and hand labeled—it also tends to sell out the day it’s available. Also produced onsite is Kentucky Black Patch Whiskey, Kentucky White Dog, Kentucky Black Dog, Kentucky Mint Julep, St. Elmo’s Fire and True Kentucky Shine, as well as Kentucky Dark Cherry, Apple Pie, Pink Lemonade, Strawberry, Blueberry and Blackberry Shines.

Corsair Artisan Distillery Bowling Green, KY www.corsairdistillery.com

With a tagline like “Hand crafted, small batch ultra premium booze for badasses,” you know Corsair Artisan Distillery is going to be good. It all began when two childhood friends got together to homebrew beer and wine, but hit a snag when working on a prototype biodiesel plants. Jokingly, it was mentioned that making whiskey would be more satisfying--and a new idea was born. Carrying everything from Quinoa Whiskey, Vanilla Bean and Triple Smoke to Citra Double IPA, Oatrage, Grainiac, and Hopmonster, there is literally a spirit for everyone.

Moonshine Makers

Many craft bourbon distilleries also make original and flavored moonshines. Originally coined as “moonshine” as it was done late at night (and away from the prying eyes of tax collectors), moonshine has noticed a large resurgence in popularity. “Bootlegger” was the term for someone who smuggled the moonshine; in Colonial times, the bottles were transported inside tall riding boots. More recently, bootleggers in the 1930s, 40s and 50s took to using cars as their transportation of choice for the illegal goods. The mechanical skills these drivers developed while trying to drastically increase the horsepower of their cars to outrun authorities created a culture of car lovers in the South that eventually grew into the NASCAR racing series. Ironically, Red Byron, the winner of the first ever NASCAR race, held on Feb. 15, 1948 on a Daytona,. Fla., beach, had used his car a week before to make a bootleg run!

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With a tagline like “Hand crafted, small batch ultra premium booze for badasses,” you know Corsair Artisan Distillery is going to be good.


Meet the maestros behind the masterpieces. With over 300 years of combined experience, the Grupo de Maestros can teach you a thing or two about cigars. Meet the masterminds, hands, and hearts behind the world’s most rare cigar blends, and learn more about their craft at cigarmaestro.com/the-maestros.

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Nov/Dec Cigar & Spirits Magazine

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