Saturday, February 06, 2016

01/20 - The Farmhouse Clash


The new year with our smoking group started with a really big bang because we smoked a cigar of the unnumbered Trinidad Farmhouse which has been released back in 2003. The humidor contained 20 cigars, 10 Double Robustos and 10 Fundadores.

During the evening we smoked the Double Robusto and at the end we were surprised to receive also the Fundadores to smoke it later! A very generous gift!

For the reviews itself I refer to the homepage of feltedhat.com, I am sure the report will be online soon is available here. Additionally to the cigar we'd an Indian Single Malt Whisky, the Amrut Fusion. Not a bad whisky, I had worse before, but I couldn't understand the hype about it. At the first sip the alcohol (50 %) was very dominant but after the second and third it mellowed down and the spicy notes came through. An interesting alternative if you want something else than a Scotch and for sure better than the German or Swiss ones... but that's just my personal opinion.

Some final words about the cigar: a good smoke for me with some difficult parts and very special aromas, the pronounced bitterness wasn't always easy to handle... but all in all a good smoke. Worth the money? Hrmm... I'm not sure but without being unthankful I would categorize it as overprized. But that's also my personal opinion.

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Friday, January 29, 2016

01/23 - 01/24 - My beef? Yourbeef!


End of December my friend Camillo from Don Caruso BBQ asked me if I would like to join him and a few fellow foodbloggers to visit the butchery Kiesinger and Stefan from Yourbeef.de in Tübingen. As it's just a 2.5 hour ride from my home and the weekend was free of any appointments, I confirmed immediately.

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After the arrival of all the fellow bloggers

we started with the tour through the shop and the all the parts of the butchery, including the storage room for the dry aged beef. Very impressing and an amazing experience for a meatlover like me!





After the tour we moved our luggage to the hotel, checked in and drove back to the butchery where we're welcomed with a delicious lunch. Homemade spaetzle and pork cheeks with an outstanding good sauce! It reminded me a little of my own sauce but the specific ingredient, in this case Balsamico, gave it the final twist! I definitely need that recipe, as I will prepare some pork cheeks for my next private whisky evening.



Strengthened by this really tasty lunch we started with the meat cutting lesson, object of study was a beef hindquarter. It's a heifer, a cow that hasn't calved yet. A Simmentaler beef which's a "dual use race" for milk and meat (for example Charolais is a race only being used for meat).

Usually it takes approximately 9 minutes to crack it into pieces and debone it, 2 hours in total to cut all the parts and trim them. Harald Kiesinger took his time to show us all the cuts, gave us tons of explanations and made the work slow enough to enable all of us to follow him... and to take some pictures. Second part of the lesson was the cutting of a half pig, in this case a Stauferico which has more fat and is not overbred like the usual ones.













During the cutting of the beef, Harald was always sorting the leftovers in different boxes, a part of those was used later to make some delicious sausages called Picantos. Beside the different spices they also include some liquid Jalapeno which gives them a special twist. We grilled them immediately and they're outstanding good.

Additionally some nice dry aged T-Bone steaks were cut, trimmed and grilled. The best dry aged steak I had! Simply amazing!

Full fed and full of information we left the butchery late in the evening for an excursion to the nightlife of Tübingen... a funny experience for some of us... so that's all I can say here.







The next day we've been invited to Stefan's home for a final lunch before we hit the road for our way home. The menu was another highlight:
  • Tatar from dry aged beef and pork
  • Dry aged Prime rib with outstanding side dishes (like croutons fried in bone marrow etc.)
  • Cheesecake in a glass

Thx again for you hospitality and this amazing experience! I really enjoyed this weekend! To be repeated...







Thursday, January 21, 2016

Taste the peat


It's already 6 years ago that I started those wisky tasting events in the lounge in Kreuzlingen... meanwhile it's getting harder and harder to find some interesting whiskys which are worth to be considered for this group. Especially based on the fact that all those whiskys come from my private collection and are always made available for a reasonable price, based on what I paid for each bottle.

But I found some more bottles, let's see how they taste and how the people will like them.

Let's start with a Bruichladdich 10 yo. bottled in the 70s (we already had a comparable one but this one is also another bottling).

Nose: fresh and maritime, grain, hints of porridge, honey

Taste: intensive taste of grains, cereals, malt, caramel

Aftertaste: not too long with some salt

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The next one, another Bruichladdich Golder Still, distilled in 1984 (there's also a Blacker and Redder Still, but unfortunately I never had the chance to try those).

Nose: honey, cereals, almonds, a touch of wood

Taste: tangy, orange zest, vanilla, malt, cereals, nutmeg

Aftertaste: malty notes with a touch of peat



Bowmore is the next in the row, 16yo. (1996 - 2012), bottled by the SSMC but in this case with a custom made label.

Nose:  Hints of honey, smoke, sea water

Taste: Seaweed, salt, nutmeg, spices, pepper

Aftertaste: Long finish with peat and spices



It's getting a bit more peaty now, even though this is a more refined Caol Ila, not a fist in the face. Distilled in 1984 (and bottled in 1996) for G&M Italy

Nose:  peat, fresh apple, cinnamon

Taste: peat, pepper, apple pie and some fresh fruit

Aftertaste: medium finish with a dry touch



Young, wild and peaty: Laphroaig 2006 - 2012, bottled  by the SSMC but in this case with a custom made label.
    Nose: Peat smoke

    Taste: Salt, seaweed, medical, young

    Aftertaste: eat with a salty touch



    The last one of the range and definitely the most peaty one: Port Charlotte Local Barley, no age but for sure a lot of Islay flavor!
      Nose: Sweet peat, smoke, cereals, apples, a bit of an ashy note

      Taste: intensive peat and BBQ smoke flavor, oak wood, some vanilla and honey. cereals, salt, grapefruit

      Aftertaste: Long finish, smoked spices, some oak, peat



      Tuesday, January 12, 2016

      All Blacks


      For those who thought that they can read something about Rugby... I've to disappoint you! The topic of this report will be the latest release of the Pilgrim Grand Cru 2015, an Imperial Russian Stout, which's color is really black!

      I visited the new brewery, which started into the business back in April, a while ago for the first time and was really positively surprised about the quality of their stuff. When I heard that their first Grand Cru will be an Imperial Russian Stout I immediately placed my reservation for a few bottles... hrmm.. maybe a bit more than a few. 16 % of alcohol, bottled in 75 cl bottles (Imperial), closed with a natural cork. The perfect setting for a long-time-storage.


      I picked up my bottles back in December during the event which's held for the release of their new Winterbier. The list of reservations was long and during my visit I heard that the brewed batch of the first Grand Cru is already sold out.




      Of course I couldn't resist and I'd to open a bottle and try it before I took the rest downstairs in the cellar for a long rest. I'm sure that it'll some years before the next of those will be opened. The color is black. An intensive aroma aroma of dark roasted coffee and chocolate hits the nose and that's the first impression you also have in the mouth. Thick and creamy, you would like to chew it. Malty sweetness, strong espresso with a bite of chocolate... with a strong base of 16 % of alcohol in the background. Very tasty now but even more complex in a few years...

      It's a beer which's predestinated to accompany a strong and flavorful cigar. The second half of the bottle that I drank the next day, I combined with a Bolivar Belicosos Finos and I was really impressed by the intensivation of the aromas. The earthy notes of the cigar went very well with the malty sweetness, coffee and chocolate in both partners multiplied and made the flavor experience even more impressing!

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      Monday, January 04, 2016

      Smoking in the name of science


      Back in 2011 I already published a report about "La Méthode de Jacques Puisais", a method which recommends the following:
      "...(the) recommendation is to cut the cigar AFTER lighting up and to blow through the cigar before you take the first draw, to remove all "impurities" from it..."
      Honestly I use this method since approx. 4 or 5 years and somebody asked me about the unusual way of firing up my cigar when I was at the shop of Portmann in Kreuzlingen a while ago. Coincidentially around the same time I was asked by friend of mine (who's also writing for the magazine www.cigarlovers.com of which I'm also a part in the meantime) for my impression of a parallel smoke and pictures of a cigar comparing the two different ways. He also smoked with another friend the Montecristo No. 4 out of the 50ct humidor which has been released in Switzerland at the end of 2012, so we're again three people smoking 6 cigars out of the same box. And to make a long story short: our impressions were more or less the same.

      Due to the fact that I wrote not so much in the article back in 2011 I picked up the topic again and planned to go a bit more into the details. I wrote it also for the cigarslover magazine (it's been published in issue No. 7), maybe some have read it there already.

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      Montecristo No. 4, 50ct. humidor for Switzerland from 2012

      For this test both cigars were fired up with the same lighter, a Dupont soft flame lighter. One cigar was cut after the lighting (and purged by blowing through before the first puff), the other one cut and fired up as maybe 95 % of the smokers all around the globe do it.

      The interesting question of this test: will there be a difference? For me I can say definitely yes. At least for the first third of the smoke. And for the burn. For me that's reason enough to stick to this method because it gives me more pleasure for the whole smoking time!

      But why is there a difference when you use this method? One possible explanation is some kind of "chimney effect" within the cigar which's already been stated by Jacques Puisaus. While firing up one end there is a high difference of temperature between both ends and the hot, burnt air will find its way through the channels in the tobacco and will leave some of the side products of the combustion process within the cigar which'll have an effect on the taste especially during the first third.

      But when you smoke a cigar, the tobacco will burn too... so why is it problem when firing up and no problem when smoking it? Good question, I've no scientific explanation but a possible reason could be the temperature: the temperature of the lighter while firing up could be higher and the burning process more intensive than during the regular smoking process when you take maybe a puff per minute. If you smoke a cigar very fast, it'll get hot and bitter soon. I'm sure that many of us have made this experience also in the past...

      At the end of the day it's all theory, theory which doesn't help so much as an experimental smoke. Smoke two identical cigars parallel and check out the difference. So did I and here's the result with the traditionally rating by the 3 thirds of the cigar.

      For the rest of the tasting and the report I'll refer to cigar 1 as the one which has been lighted with "La Méthode de Jacques Puisais". Obviously cigar 2 is the one which has been cut before lighting.


      The first third:

      The smoke of cigar 1 is very creamy, intensive aromas of cacao and light coffee, also some milk chocolate... a very nice and pleasant mixture.

      Cigar 2 is a bit harsh. There are definitely some more edges, a decent bitterness hits the taste buds, notes of black pepper and some fresh roasted coffee.



      The second third:

      With the start of the second third the cigars were more or less the same tastewise, therefore I go ahead without the distinction of them. The main flavor is cedar wood, added by some espresso and hints of leather.



      The last third:

      The cedar wood gets more intensive, also the leathery notes.. all is supplemented by polished wood and dark roasted coffee. The cigars get a little bit different from each other again. While the smoke of cigar 1 is still very creamy and pleasant, cigar 2 develops some bitter notes and has to be put to the ashtray sooner. I smoked both with the same speed, so I can exclude that one got hotter than the other based on the "smoking technique".



      Conclusions:

      Cigar 2 was finished after approx. 50 minutes of smoking, I'd some serious issues with the burn and had to put it to the ashtray due to some intensive bitterness.

      Cigar 1 had a smoking time of 65 minutes with a ruler-straight burn, absolutely no issues.

      As for many other things I want to summarize it as follows: for me I can say that I taste a difference (if it's there or not, I don't care), so I'll use this method.

      Jacques Puisais was a guy who did a lot of research on the field of taste, flavor etc. and I think he'd some really high educated taste buds. I know other people who've very well educated taste buds, working with wine and/or food and also smoking cigars and all of them are convinced of that method which's another indication for me that there should be something about it.

      If you don't believe it, if you think it's too much hype around the simple thing "cigar", then let it be... to each his own. Do whatever you like, because there is no wrong or right. But maybe you should try it out before you say it's bullshit.



      In the meantime I got some interesting feedback which claims that this method (or also any other method to compare cigars) is not valid because of the variation from cigar to cigar: "It is a fact that the weight of individual cigars within one box is varying and based on that you should expect a shorter smoking time for the cigar with the lower weight." Frankly speaking I'm too much of an engineer to keep this fact aside therefore I took this into account for my "test" and the one which lasted longer was the one with the lower weight. I also made the test vice versa but the result was still the same. Taking into consideration that I tried it several times I can exclude the influence of the weight in this case as a major influence on the result. On the other hand: it is no scientific test, it is just an subjective point of view and everybody should find out if it makes a difference for him or not.

      Finally here are some of the comments which came up while I posted a comment regarding this technique on Facebook.

      "I have had similar results. When I remember to I still use the Puisais method. I say when I remember because it is still not natural for me. I suspect it is because of the amount of carbon (ash/burn etc) produced is less. I think the first third tastes better because the ignition isn't as deep without the flow through of air during lighting. Not scientific analysis but what my gut and my tastebuds tell me."

      "I found the difference to be less noticeable in a figured or torpedo."

      "Not an issue for me. If using a torch, I only hold it close enough to barely ignite the foot. I also purge just after lighting. You can simply hold your finger over the cut cap to stop inductive draft while lighting. With the QC of Cuban cigars, I will NEVER light any cigar before testing the draw."

      "Never tried it. IMHO people make too much of an issue about lighting cigars. As long as you gentle about it and don't over heat when using a torch it's fine. Also the theory about not drawing thru the cigar when using a Lighter is BS unless you are using a Zippo. Butane burns %100 clean and leaves no after taste."

      "Lighting first before cutting is the best way, lighting however gentle causes burnt gases that can permeate into the cigar if you blow through a straw the air comes out of the other end these could be burnt gases but blow into a cigar tube, you cannot so cutting after lighting keeps burnt gases from permeating deep in to the cigar, also after lighting then cutting blow through the cigar to purge any residual gases"

      Thursday, December 31, 2015

      Happy New Year 2016


      I wish all my readers, their families and friends a Happy New Year 2016! May it be healthy and prosperous!

      Sunday, December 27, 2015

      2015 in pictures


      It's time to sum up another year with some nice pictures... many good memories are connected to those. As always it's really hard to reduce all the pix of one month down to one... a click on the picture'll bring you to the corresponding report...

      • January
       January 2015
      The answer is 42

      • February
       February 2015
      Green lights in the sky

      • March
       March 2015
      Whisky and... ribeye steak

      • April
       April 2015
      Tour de Belgium, Part 1 of 3

      • May
       May 2015
      Glenfarclas Whisky Dinner

      • June
       June 2015
      Waldhaus Reloaded

      • July
       July 2015
      The Three Amigos

      • August
       August 2015
      Swiss craft beer and cigars

      • September
       September 2015
      Tubos of the Titans

      • October
       October 2015
      Habanos Verde

      • November
       November 2015
      The long Longrow row

      • December
       Dezember 2015
      Single Malt infused Brats