2021 is the year the Nicaragua Cigar Festival – Puro Sabor – went virtual.
The incomparable Reinhard Pohorec – Cigar Journal Cigar Trophy “Ambassador” Laureate – has done phenomenal work incorporating this huge event into Light ’em Up World using an on-line format.

Monday, April 26, 2021, was the 4th instalment of the virtual Puro Sabor, focusing on “Blending & Tasting”.
Renowned cigar blenders – Willy Herrera of Drew Estate & Nicholas Perdomo III of Perdomo Cigars – tackled the big picture of “Blending & Tasting to Create Premium Cigars”.

Both blenders spoke at length about their love for Nicaragua tobacco, providing insights to the 4 main tobacco growing regions of that area: Esteli, Condega, Jalapa and Ometepe as well as the corresponding aroma, flavour & texture profiles each region produces in its tobacco.

As they work through their inventory of tobacco, Willy & Nicholas agree the main component to creating a premium cigar blend is patience.
They have to be experts regarding the various tobaccos & especially the leaves: Seco, Viso & Ligero, as well as their source – the farm from which they secure those tobaccos.

They painstakingly sort through all those various leaves, testing – by smoking – different blends in small-size format cigars.
Years of experience tells them how the combination of leaves will play out in the vitola they’re planning to create.

When they choose the leaves which will go into the cigar, they stay close to the rollers in the factory to make sure their recipe – whether it’s a whole leaf, half or quarter leaf of each specific tobacco – is followed to exact specifications by each of the rollers tasked with creating that cigar.

Ultimately the goal for their premium cigars is balance & complexity / taste & aroma.
They work to ensure the consumer has a memorable experience when they light that cigar.

As they spoke, I couldn’t help but wonder what happens in the final leg of that cigar journey … when it reaches the consumer.
I posed the question: “What can the consumer do to ensure all the effort put into creating your premium cigar doesn’t all fall apart if, for instance, if the cigar is purchased, then kept in a humidor that has a humidity level that isn’t optimum for that cigar? Should each consumer “dry-box” a cigar for a day before they smoke it?”

Their initial response was every cigar that comes from their respective factories is ready to be smoked right now. The quality control of both Drew Estate and Perdomo Cigars is such that they ensure their products are the best their customers can buy.

The 2nd part of Willy’s answer, however, was information that was new to me.
In all the years I’ve been a part of the cigar lifestyle, the most common response regarding optimum Relative Humidity is 69% RH.
Many cigar enthusiasts I’ve spoken with agree that’s the sweet spot for storing cigars. When we shop for a humidity pack, that’s the RH we buy.
But according to Willy Herrera, your Nicaragua cigars should be kept at 64% or 65% Relative Humidity.
Willy added that he always likes to smoke his cigars a little “drier”.

The entire session is filled with the kind of knowledge those who love cigars will enjoy learning from two of the most respected individuals in the cigar industry.

Puro Sabor Virtual Cigar Festival – Blending and Tasting.

“40 Something” #WhiskyTasting featured 6 different whisky expressions, all at the age of 40+ years.

Although I started working in bars/ lounges more than 40 years ago, I only started tasting/ appreciating whisky in earnest about 2 decades ago, so I’m a relatively late-starter.

But I learned a lot very quickly thanks to wonderful teachers along the way.
One of the recommendations I received about 5 years ago:
“Leave some whisky in the glass & return to it to nose it again. Observe how/ if it develops with time in the glass”.

The 40 Something expressions almost all told a different story on Monday morning compared to the Saturday night when they were poured.

The Cameronbridge (54.1% abv) and the Invergordon (50% abv) – both 40yo single grain spirit – developed more sweetness, the Port Ellen was amazing, while the others remained the same. All were delicious during the tasting.

1977 Canadian Club 40yr. 45% abv – Canada
1978 Cameronbridge 40yr. 54.1% abv Single Grain – Scotland
1974 Invergordon 40yr. 50% abv Single Grain – Scotland
1975 Benromach 45yr. 42.1% abv Heritage – Scotland
1972 Coleburn 47yr. 62.4% abv 125th Anniversary – Scotland
1979 Port Ellen 40yr. 49.6% abv – Scotland

Port Ellen 40yo (49.6 abv) developed in a very interesting way.
The night of the tasting (Sat. April 10/21), the dominant aroma was floral (violet) followed by chocolate.
This morning (Mon. Apr 12/21) when I nosed the remains in the glass, there was cedar (wood) hay, grass & cereal. Just a beautiful dram.

BTW, for those who attended the tasting, you may notice that I created my own tasting mat.
I have a very specific routine for whisky-flight set-up, preferring the arch sequence from left to right.
This provides space for note-taking when I hear other participants state descriptors.
My own notes always go into a Hilroy notebook.

In addition, I’m a big believer in having the date of the tasting immortalized on the tasting mat.
In terms of advertising & promotion, I like how the Whisky Drop logo serves as the perfect landing spot for each of the Glencairns.