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Puff Lifestyle
Like the perfect cigar, the smoker’s lifestyle is one focused on enjoyment and relaxation. At Puff Lifestyle, we discuss all avenues of lifestyle - great hotels that are cigar friendly, fantastic wines, cigar friendly dining, cool gadgets, lighters that actually work, hand carved cedar humidors...you get the idea. But we also cover the down to earth lifestyle interests as well: the most enjoyable reasonably priced cigars, best vacations on a budget, and the best way to stretch a buck...which has never been more important. Nothing is off topic!

What's Smoking in September
Monday, 01 September 2008

{mosimage} Finally, an organization whose objective is to fight back; to protect us from the further erosion of our rights as smokers; so that we may continue to enjoy a simple, relaxing pleasure! If you haven't joined Cigar Rights of America, you should. It's the best $30/per annum you'll ever spend. Check their web site at www.cigarrights.org and sign up. Then check the schedule for the next leg of the "Freedom Tour," and be sure to get there when a great bunch of cigar makers come to your city. In the meantime, offensive assaults on enjoying the simple pleasure of a fine cigar still claim a great deal of my time, to wit ...

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What's Smoking in August
Wednesday, 06 August 2008

{mosimage} I was down in Key West a week or so ago and I was reminded, once again, how much Duval Street resembles Bourbon Street in New Orleans. One mad, drunken, outdoor fraternity party, with people behaving as they would never behave at home! But, they're pretty much just having a good time and letting off steam. Nonetheless, it is not something that really attracts me, and I was fortunate to find an oasis, a refuge, if you will, of tranquility and gentility, when I walked into Grumpy's Cigar Shoppe at 335-F Duval Street (1.305.295.0696), and encountered Steve and Larry, the proprietors. My friend and colleague, Alan Kaye and I spent several hours at Grumpy's enjoying good conversation, laughs, great smokes and all that one enjoys in the civilized ambiance of ...

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Rum & Cigars - A Match Made in the Caribbean
Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Some of the best rum in the world comes from the same place as some of the best cigars in the world. Cuban cigars and Cuban rum have a worldwide reputation for being the best. What many people do not know is that other parts of the Caribbean and Central America have surpassed the premium quality of Cuban cigars and rum. Cigars from Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic received better reviews, awards and accolades than many Cuban cigars. Some of these cigar brands from Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic originated in Cuba. Their owners fled to the other countries when Castro took over 49 years ago. A similar situation occurred with Matusalem Rum. Matusalem and Company was founded in 1872 in Santiago de Cuba. After Castro took over, the family was forced into exile. Family feuding began over control of Matusalem and the brand was neglected. In the 1970's various groups struggled over control of the Matusalem brand. It wasn't until 1997 that the once famous brand of rum from Cuba, now from the Dominican Republic, was revived. My personal favorite drink accompaniment for a cigar is rum. I have enjoyed Matusalem Gran Reserva Rum many times in the past. However, when the kind people at Matusalem asked me if I would like a bottle to sample, I said yes. Even though I have had it before, I have a rule to never pass up free booze, especially really good stuff. Matusalem Rum is so good that it took the "Best Rum" award at the 8th annual San Francisco World Spirits Competition earlier this year. When I surveyed some of my friends, colleagues and associates about their usual drink accompaniment for a cigar, many said scotch, cognac, and coffee, then rum. If you haven't tried rum with a cigar, I strongly suggest you do. Rum & Cigars are a match made in the Caribbean. They both come from the same geographical area, so why not pair them up? Tasting Notes for Matusalem Gran Reserva Rum Color Gran Reserva has a rich, golden color comparable to those found in the world's best oak-barrel aged spirits. It's clear, brilliant red and amber tones come from the Solera system of blending young and mature rums in oak casks. Nose Gran Reserva imparts a keen sense of its grace through its aroma of sweet vanilla, molasses, caramel and plums. This lavish offering results in a mellow, rich, subtle and exquisitely refined rum. Taste Superbly blended in the grand Cuban tradition, Gran Reserva offers a delicate taste. Velvety smooth, with an exceptional bouquet and delicate flavors of vanilla, molasses and caramel, its complex palate generates barely any heat. Gran Reserva's satiny texture is that of a unique super-premium rum. Finish Gran Reserva's dry, toasty flavors take center stage before slowly ebbing away in a long satisfying finish. Drink Recipes Mojito 2 oz. Matusalem PLATINO Rum 2 tsp. sugar Fresh lime juice from ½ lime Mint sprigs Cubes or crushed ice Soda water Garnish with lime & mint sprigs Mix lime juice & sugar in glass; stir until sugar is dissolved; add mint leaves crushing them on the side of the glass; fill with ice; pour Matusalem PLATINO Rum; stir again; top with soda water and garnish with lime & a sprig of mint. Mojito Martini 2 oz. Matusalem PLATINO Rum 2 tsp. sugar Fresh lime juice from ½ lime Mint sprigs Crushed ice Soda water Garnish with lime & mint sprigs Mix lime juice & sugar in a shaker; stir until sugar is dissolved; add mint leaves crushing them on the side of the glass; fill with ice; pour Matusalem PLATINO Rum; shake well; serve in a chilled martini glass; top with soda water and garnish with lime & a sprig of mint. Havana 2 oz. Matusalem PLATINO Rum 2 oz. pineapple juice 1 tsp. lemon juice Ice cubes Garnish with a lemon twist Pour Matusalem PLATINO Rum into a tall glass filled with ice cubes; add pineapple and lemon juice; stir or shake well; garnish with a lemon twist. Cuba Libre 2 oz. Matusalem CLASICO Rum Cola Ice cubes Garnish with lime Fill tall glass with ice; pour Matusalem CLASICO Rum; fill with cola and stir; squeeze and drop in wedge of lime. Casa Blanca 2 oz. Matusalem CLASICO Rum 1 tsp. triple sec 1 tsp. lime juice 1 tsp. maraschino Ice cubes Garnish with Maraschino cherry Fill tall glass with ice; pour Matusalem CLASICO Rum; add triple sec, lime juice, maraschino; shake or stir well; squeeze; garnish with a maraschino cherry. Cuban Punch 2 oz. Matusalem CLASICO Rum Grenadine Orange juice Pineapple juice Lemon-lime soda Ice cubes Garnish with lemon or lime twist Fill tall glass with ice; pour Matusalem CLASICO Rum; fill with equal parts orange & pineapple juice; add a splash of lemon-lime soda; add a dash of grenadine; stir or shake well. The Gran Rocks 2 oz. Matusalem GRAN RESERVA Rum Ice cubes Pour Matusalem GRAN RESERVA over ice cubes; garnish with wedge of lemon or lime. Cuban Special 1 ½ oz. Matusalem GRAN RESERVA Rum Juice from half a lime 1 ½ oz. Cointreau 1 ¼ oz. pineapple juice Ice cubes Using a shaker with ice cubes, pour Matusalem GRAN RESERVA Rum; add lime juice, pineapple juice & Cointreau; shake well; strain into chilled cocktail glass; garnish with a lime twist. Cuban American 1 oz. Matusalem GRAN RESERVA Rum ¾ oz. lime juice ¼ oz. triple sec ½ oz. Bourbon Ice cubes Using a shaker with ice cubes, pour Matusalem GRAN RESERVA Rum; add lime juice, pineapple juice & Bourbon; shake well; strain into chilled cocktail glass; garnish with a lime twist. Check out Matusalem's Web Site Here

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Wine Aromas and Flavors
Saturday, 26 July 2008

Wine Aromas Wine Flavors The label mentions "blackberry, cassis, mocha and clove." ... You take a sip ... it tastes like wine ...   You have a good bottle of cabernet sauvignon. The label mentions "blackberry, cassis, mocha and clove." Your pinot noir is said to be reminiscent of "strawberry, rose and autumn forest earth." The chardonnay: "pear and melon, with a hint of butter." That sauvignon blanc contains "essences of citrus, passion fruit, and wild herbs." You open a bottle, pour a glass, enjoy the beautiful color and aroma, and take a sip. It smells and tastes like... wine. Are you missing something? Where are all those flavors and aromas supposed to come from? The descriptions may seem fanciful, but they are (or should be) based on characteristics the wine actually possesses. An ability to identify component aromas and flavors in wine is largely acquired through practice; don't worry if they are not immediately obvious to you. If you want to, you can learn to recognize them. Nobody is adding any fruit flavorings ... Grapes are the source of primary flavors and aromas in wine. Nobody is adding any fruit flavorings; if the wine tastes a bit like another kind of fruit, then perceptible quantities of specific chemical compounds (or precursors of those compounds, which will later release the aromatic compounds themselves) have developed in the grapes that are also found in the fruit it resembles. Just what the grapes taste like will depend on a number of factors. These include varietal characteristics (that is, the kind of grape), vineyard practices, the vintage (what happened the year the grapes were grown) and the place where they were grown. The French term "terroir" refers generally to the many features of a given place (including, but not limited to, soil and climate) that give rise to particular characteristics found in the wines produced there. Secondary flavors and aromas are the result of winemaking, which includes fermentation and any of a number of additional processes. The primary fermentation converts grape juice into wine. That means yeast cells metabolize sugar in the juice, releasing alcohol, carbon dioxide and energy (in the form of heat.) Variables may include the sort of fermentation vessel used, temperature, the yeast strain (or strains) involved, and how much contact the juice has with the grape skins, to name just a few; all of these factors and many others will affect the development of the wine's flavor and aroma.Additional processes may include aging the wine in barrels. The porosity of the wood can influence the wine's development significantly, allowing it to mellow and integrate, and the wine can extract flavor and aroma from the wood. Traditional barrel-making involves heating the staves around a smudge pot, thereby softening them in order to form a water-tight container. This also toasts the wood; a whole range of characteristics associated with fine wine can result from its contact with the toasted barrel. Variables may include the type and quality of wood, the degree of toast (a lighter toast can impart toasty or nutty aromas, a heavier toast can give sweet spice, coffee, chocolate, etc.), how old the barrels are (a newer barrel will impart a stronger flavor; that may be desirable in a strong wine, but could overpower the primary aromas of a lighter wine) and how long the wine is left in barrel. Further microbial activity can also change the wine. For example, malolactic fermentation (or "ml") occurs when lactic bacteria consume the malic acid naturally present in wine and produce lactic acid. If this happens in a controlled manner it can result in a pleasant, creamy texture and softer acidity, although spontaneous ml can make the wine cheesy and fizzy. Diacetyl, a chemical produced by malolactic fermentation, can give the wine a buttery flavor, which is very noticeable in some chardonnays. Most red wines go through ml; with whites it is a stylistic option. If the ml is suppressed the wine will retain higher total acidity and more "nerve."Wine continues to evolve as it ages in the bottle ... Once the wine has been bottled, it will evolve more slowly. Aromas that develop as a consequence of chemical changes that occur in the bottle may contribute to what is referred to as "bouquet." Strictly speaking, discussion of bouquet (as opposed to aroma) is only applicable to older wines, but the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Wine is a complex fluid. Many chemical compounds responsible for specific flavors and aromas have been isolated and identified, and many others have not. The notes on the back label are usually based on the subjective reactions of tasters (normally they are not written by chemists) but they should reflect the wine's physical properties. In the column titled Wine Tasting Basics we distinguished between taste and flavor. Flavor and aroma are closely related; most of what we perceive as flavor is actually aroma in the form of volatile compounds that reach the olfactory bulb through the retronasal channel from the mouth instead of through the nose. The physiological proximity of the olfactory bulb to the frontal lobe of the brain, which stores memory, is said by some to account for the remarkable ability of certain aromas to evoke memories and emotions.Simply try different wines and pay attention to what you smell and taste ... There are many courses and publications available that are intended to help cultivate an ability to identify and describe component aromas, but the best advice I can offer is simply to try different wines and pay attention to what you smell and taste. Give it some conscious thought and talk about it with friends who share your interest. If you're really serious, consider writing down your impressions. As you compare wines to one another you will increasingly discern the characteristics that distinguish them. The Wine Aroma Wheel, created by Ann Noble at the University of California at Davis, is a useful tool that can help you acquire some of the standard vocabulary used by many wine professionals and enthusiasts. It consists of three concentric circles; at the center are twelve general categories such as "fruity" or "chemical," then sub-groups like "berry" or "sulfur" and finally specific aromas like "blackberry" or "skunk" (evidently, it includes undesirable aromas associated with flawed wine as well as the appealing sort you might find on a label.) Dr. Noble deliberately excludes such common descriptors as "charming" or "sophisticated"; they can be useful, but what do they smell like? Most likely, some of the conventional descriptors will be unfamiliar to you, and you may come up with some of your own that are not part of the usual lexicon. That's normal; each of us has our own set of references derived from our own life experience. The foods you like, the herbs and spices your grandmother used in cooking, and the flowers that grow in your area will all have aromas that resonate with you, even if you can't name them. Many of us have a hard time identifying things we can't see; that's why practice and deliberate attention are called for. A set of standardized descriptors can help us understand one another better. Analyzing aroma and flavor may not be a prerequisite for serious wine enjoyment, but if you like wine I think it will add to your pleasure and help you make good choices. Cheers!

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How Did You get Started with Cigars?
Monday, 16 May 2005

It's a beautiful Spring morning on Friday, as the sun creeps over the horizon at 6:30 am. As I type this, I have a sublime La Gloria Cubana Serie R Maduro No. 7 wafting blue smoke...

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