It’s the 4th year of Canada’s largest indoor cigar & spirits event in Canada.
“You can’t do this anywhere else in Canada” – Louise Batonyi.
We’re here LIVE at Rocky Mountain Smokeout!
170930 RMS Entrance Sign
It’s a great #Cigar event that brings together #Cigar enthusiasts who travel far & wide to attend the event.
Headliners included:
Alan Rubin from Alec Bradley Cigar

170930 RMS Alan Rubin & Val
Alan Rubin -Alec Bradley Cigars





Nick Melillo from Foundation Cigars made the trek to Kananaskis Country to join in the Rocky Mountain Smokeout. It was great visiting with Nick during the luncheon where we had the chance to chat with the cigar producers.

170930 Nick Melillo & Val RMS
Nick Melillo – FoundationCigars

Steve Ricker from Dominion CigarsSteve-Ricker

Fernando Zacharias from Espinosa Cigars
Fernando Zacarias Espinosa RMS


Rocky Mountain Smokeout is the best #Cigar event you’ll find anywhere in Canada.
The headliners are top-rate and the ambiance is perfect for anyone who enjoys a premium cigar. The entire weekend is filled with masterclasses and pairing events.

Many thanks & acknowledgement to the driving forces behind RMSmokeout which includes Louis Batonyi from Canada Humidor and Jeff Lawrence of Cheap Smokes & Cigars.

There’s hundreds of #Cigar aficionado’s here, including Don Stuike @donthecigardon, Mike Simpson @Mike_W_Simpson, Steven Hyde @kolumbo29 and
James Turner, here with John Reiner @cigarsurgeon.
170930 James & John RMS 2017

Kensington Wine Market has Evan pouring some fantastic drams! KWM is one of the partners, pouring great whisky & spirits like the Berry’s 40yo Blended Scotch Whisky.
170930 Berry's 40yo KWM

Foundation Cigar
Dominion Cigar
Alec Bradley Cigars
Kensington Wine Market
Cheap Smokes and Cigars
Canada Humidor


Bourbon Whiskey Terms & Definitions

Bourbon Whiskey

In 1964 Bourbon was officially proclaimed as a spirit exclusive to the
United States of America.

Bourbon can be made anywhere in the U.S. and, by law, it is a product distinctive to the U.S. that must be made from a fermented “mash” of no less than 51% corn.
Other rules include being distilled at no more than 160 Proof (80% abv) and aged at no more than 125 proof (62.5% abv) for at least 2 years in new charred oak barrels.
It must be bottled at no less than 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume / abv)

Barrel Proof Taylor bottle with canisterBarrel Proof:
Barrel Proof refers to Whiskey that is bottled at the proof it comes out of the barrel after minimum aging of four years.
For example, a recent bottle of Colonel E.H. Taylor Barrel Proof was bottled at 127.5 proof.

To figure out the alcohol level, or abv (alcohol by volume) divide the proof by half, which equals 63.75 abv.
If the whiskey has a secondary package, like the canister for Colonel E.H. Taylor, the canister will state “Proof Varies by Batch”.

The label on the bottle inside will usually indicate the proof and / or alcohol by volume content.


Bonded Bourbon Whiskey:

There is a requirement for some whiskies to fall into what’s known as the:
“Bond Act of 1897”
Bonded Bourbon Whiskey” has been aged and bottled according to the requirements of that act. The definitions include it being a:
Straight Bourbon Whiskey which is defined as:
> Distilled from a fermented mash containing at least 51% corn.
> Distilled at no more than 160 proof.
> Aged at no more than 125 proof for at least two years in new charred oak barrels. If the whiskey is aged for less than four years, its age must be stated on the bottle.
> No coloring – like caramel coloring – or flavoring, can be added.

Bonded Bourbon Whiskey must also be made at one time or season, in one location.
All Bonded Bourbon is aged in government-supervised warehouses for at least 4 years prior to being bottled at 100 proof aka 50%abv.

Mash Bill:
A “Mash Bill” is a recipe the distiller uses to make the whiskey. Keep in mind that for Bourbon, the Mash Bill must contain at least 50% corn … but most are made with up to 70% corn grain.

Small Batch:
When you see the term “Small Batch”, it refers to a style of Bourbon that is distilled in small quantities. Typically that’s about 20 barrels … or 1,000 gallons.
But it could also involve blending whiskey from a small number of selected barrels.

It’s important to note that whiskey will age differently depending on where the barrel is stored in the rackhouse. Generally, the sweet-spot is considered to be the center of the storage facility.
But a skilled master blender can pull barrels from various sections of the rackhouse, marrying the whiskies from various barrels, to achieve the consistent flavour for the house-profile.

Sour Mash:
Almost all American Whiskey is “Sour Mash” … meaning a portion – typically 20% of the mash – is held back before distilling.
This set-aside portion is then added to the next batch of distilling, and so on.
This assures consistency of the “yeast strain” which is critical to the Bourbons character.
The Sour Mash process was developed in the mid 1800’s by Dr. James C. Crow as a method to ensure uniform production for Bourbon.

Angel’s Share:
Whiskey is aged in oak which is porous, allowing for both an exchange of oxygen & the release of alcohol into the air.
Angel’s Share is the amount of whiskey that evaporates to the heavens from the barrel during the aging process.
Cooler climates, like Scotland or Canada will see an evaporation rate anywhere from 1% to 3% per year. In warmer climates, that rate can go higher.
Hot climates, like India, will often see evaporation rates of over 10%.
The other thing that affects evaporation is humidity. More water than alcohol will evaporate in low humidity – therefore increasing the a barrel’s alcohol content.
On the flip side, in humid conditions, more alcohol than water will become the Angel’s Share.
That’s why, when you’re looking to purchase an older bottle of whisky, the price will increase due to the lost yield as a result of the Angel’s Share.


Cigar Journal has announced the
2017 winners of the coveted Cigar Trophy


Best Brand Costa Rica 2017:
Vegas de Santiago

Best Brand Cuba 2017:

Best Brand Dom. Rep. 2017:
Davidoff Yamasá

Best Brand Honduras 2017:
Oscar Valladares The Oscar

Best Brand Mexico 2017:
Casa Turrent

Best Brand Nicaragua 2017:
Drew Estate Liga Privada T52


Best Cigar Cuba 2017:
Montecristo No. 2

Best Cigar Dom. Rep. 2017:
Fuente Don Carlos No. 3

Best Cigar Honduras 2017:
Alec Bradley Fine & Rare 2016

Best Cigar Nicaragua 2017:
Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Hermoso Maduro


Best Value Dom. Rep. 2017:
Aging Room Solera Dominican Sun Grown

Best Value Honduras 2017:
Rocky Patel Sun Grown

Best Value Nicaragua 2017:
Flor de las Antillas

Blend Bar with Davidoff Cigars, Indianapolis

Boveda 2-Way Humidity Control

General Cigar Company Inc.

Cigar Rings, SRL

Cigar Sense Inc.

Ernesto Perez-Carillo

Copy courtesy of:
Cigar Journal Cigar Trophy 2017

Robbie Burns: Born: 25th January 1759
He wrote poetry & enjoyed Scotch Whisky until 21st July 1796

Robert Burns: National Poet of Scotland.
In 2009, Robbie Burns was chosen as the greatest Scot by the Scottish public in a vote run by Scottish TV.
Robbie Burns Day is celebrated worldwide  at the end of January.

Let’s talk Scotch Whisky
Scotland is split into 5 whisky producing regions:
41 Distilleries in the Highlands
50 Distilleries in Speyside
 – which is within the Highlands.
To quote my good friend George Grant of
Glenfarclas Scotch Whisky … every Speyside is a Highland …
but not every Highland is a Speyside.
13 Distilleries in Lowland
best known from this region would be Auchentoshan
03 Distilleries in Campbeltown
they’ve got Springbank.
08 Distilleries in Islay
revered by Peat-heads who seek out the smokey aroma’s & expressions of Islay Scotch Whisky.

 Let’s take a look at a few different Scotch Whisky expressions:

Robbie Burns NAS – No Age Statement
Isle of Arran Single Malt Scotch.
Isle of Arran – 7th largest Scottish Island.
Population 5,000.
American Oak ex-Bourbon casks.
Finished in ex-Sherry hogsheads.
“The Color is described as that: of Ayrshire Sunshine”
“A true drop of Liquid Poetry”

 AnCnoc 12yo
Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Very approachable in both aroma & flavor.
A malt with an excellent price point & taste profile.
Great for people new to whisky & appreciated by experienced drammers.

Balvenie DoubleWood 12yo
Highland Single Malt
Matured in American ex-Bourbon Casks
Finished in Sherry Casks – which can impart more sweetness, dried fruits, depending on the type of Sherry cask.

Why do distilleries choose to mention the different casks used for maturing their whisky?
A lot of the flavour of whisky comes from the oak casks in which it rests until it’s bottled. There’s a big difference in the type of casks used for Scotch Whisky … both in price and in flavour profile.

American Oak used for 1st fill Bourbon Casks are
valued at about $150.00
 impart flavours of light vanilla, coconut and toffee.
French Oak / Barriques are smaller than American casks and are valued at over $1500.00.
French oak has a different grain and imparts vanilla & caramel flavours.

When you consider the price differences in American vs French vs European oak alone, that means the type of cask used will influence not only flavor, but the final price to the consumer.

 Highland Park 18yo
Orkney Single Malt

Highland Park is one of only a handful of distilleries that still retains a traditional malting floor.
Highland Park turns each batch of malt by hand.  It’s a physically demanding, time-consuming process.
Think about it …  shoveling grain. All day.

Highland Park 18yo will have a slight peatiness to it.
Peat is that smoky characteristic sometimes found in Scotch whisky.
The Orkney islands, home of Highland Park, have an abundance of sweet, heathery, peat.
Peat is used to heat the barley so germination can take place, changing the starch to sugars which can be distilled.
Subsequently, the smokiness from the peat imparts a smoky flavor into the liquid.

Lagavulin 16yo
Islay (pro: eye-LAH) Single Malt
Massive smokey – peat aroma & flavours.
Nose: Peat
Palate: Peat
Finish: Peat
Iodine overtones. Brine-iness / Salty.
Meaty and woody-like oak influence.

 So, on January 25 remember to raise a dram to Robbie Burns.
Recite some poetry and enjoy the warmth of fine Scotch Whisky.



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.