It’s nice to relax with a premium cigar enhanced by sipping a fine spirit.

Today I went with the Flor de Claro Corona from Dominion Cigars
and the Appleton Estate 21yo Jamaica Rum.
Appleton Estate

Let’s take a look at the rum.
Appleton Estate 21 Year Old is a ‘minimum age’ rum.

That means that all the rums selected by the blender have been aged for a minimum of 21 years, which in rum-land is quite a length of time.

The casks used for aging are what Appleton Estate refers to as “Number One Select American Oak barrels”.
As I went through the tasting, the oak component was apparent but not over-powering.

Pouring this rum into the glass is enticing just in colour alone.

As it sits in the glass, beautiful copper tones sparkle in the sunshine.

Appleton Estate 21 year old possesses a rich, dark color – like fine mahogany.
Mahogany is a close relative of Spanish Cedar, so there’s a bit of a connection between the color spectrum of the rum and the humidor from which I pull my cigar.

While smoking a mild cigar, in this pairing the Flor de Claro from Dominion Cigar, you want to take care to choose a drink that isn’t too powerful in either aroma or on the palate.

That’s what makes Appleton Estate 21 year old Rum a nice choice for the Flor de Claro … with its creamy cedar and sweet spice profile.
The two compliment each other beautifully.

The rum’s aromas aka “nose” is what we call “restrained” with hints of brown sugar and sweet spice on the initial release.
There’s a thoughtful whisper of orange citrus.
The barrel aging contributes a beautiful vanilla note combined with fresh coffee and a bit of milk chocolate.
As can be expected from rum that has been resting in barrels for more than 2 decades, the scent of toasty oak & tobacco lift, mingling delightfully with all the other sweet spice and fruit aromas.

On the palate, the brown sugar component stays true from the nose to the palate.
You’ll also discover flavors of cinnamon, orange zest and raisin’d fruit.

Appleton Estate 21yo Rum finish is luxurious & complex, without the cloying after-taste often found in other rums.

As you sip the Appleton Estate 21 year old, the taste of marzipan and marmalade linger long in your throat

… and that’s what makes it a good pair with the Flor de Claro, which has corresponding cedar notes, as well as rum overtones, a bit of honey & citrus, enveloped by the sweet spice of cinnamon.

The Appleton Estate 21yo Jamaica Rum harmonizes with just the right balance of complimentary flavors and aroma that enhances the sweetness of the Flor de Claro smoke.

Flor de Claro Provenance:
W: Honduran (Connecticut)
B: Nicaraguan
F: Nicaraguan
Corona 5.5 x 42

Dominion Cigar


Frank Llaneza 1961
Pre-Light Wrapper Aromas:
At 1st the wrapper smelled like an earthy cigar, but I kept nosing it before lighting because there were other things going on from its wrapper aroma.
I realized the Frank Llaneza 1961 Cigar wrapper actually leads with just a quick hit of citrus before the earthiness shows through.

The wrapper continues to surprise with a whiff of cocoa and a bit of mint.
This is a cigar where you could spend several minutes just smelling the wrapper because it’s really unique in aroma.

Raw Draw … I loved how the raw draw matched the scent from the wrapper.
Got all the above mentioned aroma descriptors on the back palate & up through the retro.

The wrapper itself is smooth with very light veins.
I was intrigued by the look of this cigar, so I started my research on Frank Llaneza.

Frank Llaneza has a fascinating story and Herculean contribution to the Cigar world.
Frank Llaneza

Start time: 6:15am
Easy ignition and a lot of cocoa flavor on the lips upon lighting the 1961.
Initial flavor … it’s a big-boy cigar. This is full-body, full flavor. But I keep getting this cool mint reaction from it on my palate … but not in the aroma as when smelling the wrapper.
What kind of mint? Peppermint, rather than the more common spearmint.

It’s got a lot going on … an earthy & a toasty cigar, with a bit of malt rising to the flavor profile.
I’d smoke this cigar with Stout if I were a beer drinker.
There’s quite a bit of undergrowth like you’d smell in a forest.

I’m drinking a Cappuccino with the Frank Llaneza 1961 and it’s a good pair, so if you like full-flavour 1st thing in the morning, this is the cigar for you.

The burn is even at the beginning … but make sure you are puffing every 15-30 seconds because the draw does get a little difficult.

Yup, just as suspected, the cigar extinguished before the end of the 1st third.

On the re-light, the mint I was enjoying so much evaporated at first, but came back nicely as the burn leveled out.
The room-aroma from the Frank Llaneza has become more pronounced with its cocoa profile.

Plus, that mint scent is staying consistent.
Got a bit of ash-influence flavor on the back palate

I had to re-light before the ½ and noticed the cigar was a little soft just under the band, so while I thought that the cigar might have been packed quite densely, it seemed to loosen up past the 1st half.

Burn is uneven through and past the 1st half.

I cut the cigar past the 1st half  due to the uneven burn.
A creaminess is showing through now and I like that it’s not burning hot even with a re-light so late in the smoking experience.

After that cut, I’m actually enjoying the Frank Llaneza 1961 more, as the draw is easier.
Getting mouth-filling smoke and there’s some great toasty flavors of showing through.

End time: 8:30am
This cigar takes almost 2hrs to enjoy due to the burn issues. Maybe it was just this particular cigar, so I would expect one could otherwise smoke it in 60minutes.
Over-all, if you prefer a full-body, full flavor #Cigar, the Frank Llaneza 1961 delivers a lot of what you’re looking for.
Be prepared to coax it a bit, but it’s definitely worth the time.


I enjoy Port with a Cigar anytime, but especially after a sumptuous Sunday dinner.

Port Selection:
Taylor Fladgate 20 year old

Cigar Selection:
Davidoff Nicaragua

Port and Cigars is the perfect pair.

They both share a long & fascinating history; each has character that has been perfected by craftsmanship and they’ve both gained reputations of timeless luxury.

Taylor Fladgate Port

Has both the sweetness and mouth-feel texture that plays well alongside a premium Cigar.
There’s no doubt that Taylor Fladgate, founded in 1692, is one of the best known Port producer in the market and this 20yo Port compliments any cigar.

Davidoff of Geneva – since 1911
Enjoys a rich history in quality Cigar making that few other producers can match.

As they say on their website:
“Davidoff Cigars are handcrafted by experts with a passion to deliver a level of sophistication and refinement that allows each aficionado to fill time beautifully.”


In the 60+ minutes of smoking enjoyment, the Davidoff Nicaragua delivered layers of aroma & flavor that blended seamlessly as the cigar evolved.

At 1st there was a sweet spice, followed by a gentle hit of white pepper. As the cigar progressed, so did its complexity – revealing luscious flavors of cocoa & a hint of coffee … like smoking a creamy Mocha.


The Taylor Fladgate 20yo Port is smooth as silk, with delicious flavors of dried fruit, sweet spice & caramelized nuts.

The harmony achieved by smoking the Davidoff Nicaragua while enjoying the Taylor Fladgate 20yo port bordered on Nirvana.

It’s a match made in heaven … and perfect any day of the week.
Davidoff of Geneva – Since 1911
Taylor Fladgate Port


When it comes to Thanksgiving Dinner, choosing the wine is actually pretty easy.
I let my guests enjoy 2 wines, a Riesling and a Pinot Noir. Both are very pleasant on the palate and pair well with a variety of foods.
One of the things you want to keep in mind with any food pairing is “sauce”.
You want to pair the wine with whatever sauce is on the table.
There’s usually at least 3 sauces on any Thanksgiving table … gravy, cheese sauce and a sweet & tart Cranberry sauce.

This year, I’m going with a Lingenfelder Riesling. It’s light, refreshing and has the right amount of acidity to take on some of the fatty components of the gravy drizzled over the mashed potatoes, turkey & stuffing … as well as the cheese sauce often used for Brussels Sprouts.
For the red … I picked up a nice Pinot…

View original post 231 more words

When it comes to Thanksgiving Dinner, choosing the wine is actually pretty easy.
I let my guests enjoy 2 wines, a Riesling and a Pinot Noir. Both are very pleasant on the palate and pair well with a variety of foods.
One of the things you want to keep in mind with any food pairing is “sauce”.
You want to pair the wine with whatever sauce is on the table.
There’s usually at least 3 sauces on any Thanksgiving table … gravy, cheese sauce and a sweet & tart Cranberry sauce.

This year, I’m going with a Lingenfelder Riesling. It’s light, refreshing and has the right amount of acidity to take on some of the fatty components of the gravy drizzled over the mashed potatoes, turkey & stuffing … as well as the cheese sauce often used for Brussels Sprouts.
For the red … I picked up a nice Pinot Noir for its wonderful aromas & flavours of bright red berries … like cranberry.
Pinot Noir is light in tannin, good in acidity and generally a soft enough wine that’s sure to harmonize with the variety of food choices on your Thanksgiving table.

But my focus this year is on the dessert.
I visited a wonderful bakery in the Cathedral District of #YQR.
Sinfully Sweet Cathedral Bakery #YQR
Sinfully Sweet caters to the Cupcake-Crowd … but they also make a fantastic Pumpkin Pie
pumpkin-pie-sinfully-sweetThe pie is rich with aroma & flavour … delectable spices and a melt in your mouth consistency.
Another choice for dessert is Pumpkin Spice Cake.
Sinfully Sweet makes a decadent cake that’s a flavour explosion, enveloped in a delicious cream-cheese icing.
For the dessert pairing … I trusted my friends from Rebellion Brewing to help me decide on just the right beer … which is a great choice for pairing with pumpkin pie!
Rebellion Brewing #YQR
Rebellion samples a variety of their craft beer in clever fashion, on a solid board, with the names clearly visible.
rebellion-beer-samples-thanksgiving The Rebellion Stout was definitely a solid consideration … but ultimately I went with their Lentil Beer for its light flavour & palate cleansing freshness.

We had a great time during the CTVReginaMorningLive feature on Thanksgiving Dinner pairings and what to look for in terms of flavour, length, balance, complexity & harmony.
Happy Thanksgiving!


val-bradshaw-black-white-valbradshaw-copy Davidoff Churchill Cigar. A review by Val.

Davidoff Cigars are produced in the Dominican Republic under the direction of mega-talented cigar blender Hendrik “Henke” Kelner.
He’s one of the Dominican Republic’s – indeed, the world’s – most knowledgeable men on all subjects of tobacco.
Some would say  Mr. Kelner is a genius when it comes to blending award-winning cigars.
In truth – he, and his family – have a dynamic, all-ecompassing work-ethic.


Henke’s vision, from what I’ve observed, is laser-focused.

In conversation with several members of the Kelner family, I’ve learned they take the study & advancement of every aspect of cigar making to its highest levels.

To be as good as the Kelner family is at making cigars, it’s taken a lifetime of continuous study regarding everything that impacts the end result of their craft.
Simply stated, there’s a lot that goes into the growing, blending & marketing of the coveted “Kelner” cigar.

When I’m smoking a Davidoff Cigar, it inspires me.
I’m always impressed with the quality of the leaf & the construction of the vitola and my curiosity takes over, leading me to wonder about the tangibles & intangibles of cigar making. I lose myself in the wonder of it all.
I’m curious about the geography of the land – the soils.
Are they loose or hard-packed soils?
What factors does the “right soil” have to possess?
What happens if there’s too much/too little rain during the growing season?
Does the soil have to hold water or is it better it has the capacity to drain quickly?

This leads me to think about climate. As everyone knows, climate can have considerable influence on the outcome of tobacco vintages. That’s right – vintages.
Tobacco is an agricultural product, meaning every growing season … every different year … has the potential to affect the outcome of the physiology – and ultimately, flavours – of the tobacco leaf.
This is where “cigar blending” is similar to fine wines like those from the regions of Champagne or Bordeaux … where it’s all about the blend.

Cigar production moves at a steady pace from the field to the factory, where the producer continues to monitor things like temperature and fermentation.
After arduous, back-breaking work … the different blends & vitolas, are shipped to market … for us to sit back & enjoy the multitude of marvellous tastes & aromas.

So, Davidoff of Geneva, Mr. Kelner, and everyone involved in the process of making the Churchill Brand … thank you for your commitment to Cigars!
Davidoff of Geneva.



“There is only one Winston Churchill.  There is only one cigar to bear his name.
Davidoff brings you an exceptional new Winston Churchill cigar a blend as complex as the man himself.
A range of the finest cigars inspired by the iconic aficionado, each celebrating a different aspect of his richly complex character.
Our Master Blenders have embraced and accomplished the challenge to craft and blend a range of exceptional cigars as uniquely diverse in character as the person who inspired them.

The Davidoff website is a wealth of information that’s easy to navigate.
You’ll find listings of each of the Churchill Cigar lines, along with scores, tasting notes, strength, provenance and enjoyment time.

I love how Davidoff brought a real human side to the Churchill Cigar line, honoring the man himself by naming each vitola after his cultural & leadership talents.

Limited Edition 2016 – Gran Toro

The flavours and aromas are familiar with the existing WSC cigars, such as pepper, roasted notes, oakwood and leather, but the 56 ring gauge and the Piloto Visus are delivering more intensity and are contributing to a great taste evolution until the last puff

 The Aristocrat – Churchill.
Notes of chili pepper, followed by pronounced leather and roasted flavors.

 The Statesman – Robusto
Leather and dark coffee flavours

The Artist – Petit Corona
Roasted, peppery, oakwood notes

The Commander – Toro.
Spicy, leathery, woody notes followed by creamy sweet influences.

 The Raconteur – Petit Panetela.
Earthy and spicy balanced off with floral notes.

 The Traveler – Belicoso.
Leather and roasted almonds followed by a creamy aftertaste.

You can find the complete line-up by following this link:
Davidoff Churchill

Each cigar carries a famous Churchillian quote. Inspirational, enlightening, witty. As you unwrap and savour the great cigar and the accompanying ‘bon mots’, the conversation will be stimulated in a way that Sir Winston would well appreciate.”


Cigar Trophy 2016.             Cigar Journal

Other nominees for “Best Brand – Dominican Republic 2016” were:
Quesada 40th Anniversary. La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero.
La Aurora 107. Gurkha 125th Anniversary.


val-bradshaw-black-white-valbradshaw-copy Partagás. by Val.
is among the oldest brands of cigars in the world.
It was established in Havana in 1845 and
 is still produced in Cuba for Habano’s SA, the Cuban state-owned tobacco company.

On September 16th, 2016, Cigar Journal announced that Partagás was voted “Best Brand – Cuba” … winning the Cigar Trophy award for 2016!
Partagás History

Don Jaime Partagás y Ravelo was the son of Jaume Partagás, a tailor, and Teresa Ravelo.
In 1831 he immigrated to Cuba.
Upon arriving in Havana Don Jamie started working  for Lloret de Mar businessman, Joan Conill.

After a few years, he branched out on his own, and in 1845 established his factory:
La Flor de Tabacas de Partagás.

A strong businessman, Don Jaime owned many of the best plantations in the Vuelta Abajo tobacco-growing region of Cuba.
As a result, he was able to select the finest tobaccos to be found on the island.
This led to Don Jaime’s “Partagás” cigar having the flavour & aromas that kept people coming back & made the brand incredibly successful.
It is suggested that Don Jaime Partagás y Ravelo was a curious man, experimenting with various methods of fermenting and aging tobacco.

Another of Don Jaime’s claims to fame is he’s credited with installing one of the first “lectors” to read to & entertain the cigar rollers as they worked, a practice which continues today.

Before and after the Cuban revolution, the authentic Cuban-produced Partagás was, and remains, one of the most sought-after and highest-selling cigars in the world.”

Partagás cigars are full flavoured.
Once you’ve tasted a Partagás,
the experience will be burned in your memory.
This is due to their earthy aroma & taste, which comes from the
filler & binder tobacco found in Vuelta Abajo.
Vuelta Abajo is a region unique in the world of tobacco & of Cuban tobacco
as it is the only zone that can successfully
grow all types of leaf: wrapper, binder & filler.

You can get  Partagás cigars in a variety of shapes & sizes, like the Lusitania.
Partagas Lusitania VB.jpeg
… but, according to “The World of the Habano” Partagás is probably the best known for the Serie D No 4, a robusto that dates back to the 1930’s.
Partagas serie d no4.jpg

Congratulations to Partagás on winning Cigar Journal’s
Cigar Trophy 2016
“Best Brand – Cuba”

Cigar Trophy Award 2016. Cigar Journal



Other nominees in the “Best Brand 2016 Cuba” category were:
Cohiba. Montecristo. Ramon Allones. Trinidad.
And the winner is: Partagas.

Cigar Journal. Cigar Trophy 2016