And now for something completely different…

I had noticed how long it had been since I had posted anything on the blog. Alas, the reasons are two-fold. Personal issues have had a bit to play, unfortunately; plus it’s always more difficult to convince yourself that a big cigar is the ideal way to spend an afternoon when the temperature is below freezing. So, I shall bring you all up-to-date on a couple of things: firstly the cigars I have managed to smoke over the last couple of months, and secondly a quick round up of a great trip to the Blackfriars Plymouth Gin Distillery this week.

So then…

Just before Christmas I made the trip to Ajay’s La Casa del Habano in Teddington for a UK Cigar Forums festive meet-up. I enjoyed trying the new release from H.Upmann, a stick from a jar of Noellas. It was an interesting cigar, with a reasonable (though not exciting) first third, before building to an excellent finish – give these a few years and they’ll be awesome. I also enjoyed a fabulous Bolivar – the Simones, the 2007 and 2008 Canadian RE. It’s a cigar with an awful lot of good press around it, and has been reviewed highly around the cigar blogosphere, and it certainly deserves all the good words written about it. The Bolivar was strong, but smooth and very tasty; it had a different profile to what you’d perhaps expect of a Boli, but it was extremely good. At the event I also picked up a Ramon Allones Superiores, a new cigar for the LCdH chain of franchises only; I’ve yet to try it though.

Apart from that evening, I’ve only really had a couple of mini-herfs in Plymouth to keep me going. In that time I’ve managed to squeeze in: a Zino Classic No1 Tubo; a couple of Trinidad Reyes’; a Partagas Serie P No2; and, a new release to the UK, the La Aurora Preferidos Platinum Edicion. The latter being an excellent cigar. The Trini Reyes were all as you’d expect from Trini Reyes – consistent and of a high quality. Even the Zino was a decent cigar, better than the standard range of Davidoff cigars on sale at the moment.

But, onto the Gin Distillery. Anyone reading this, who happens to find themselves in Plymouth for a day or two, must head down to the historic Barbican area of the city and visit the Blackfriars Distillery where they make Plymouth Gin – and inform me of your presence (as I live just around the corner and am always up for a mini-herf). You really should make an hour’s space in your day to take the tour, which I’ve now done a couple of times and would happily do again. The tour gives an excellent background to the gin and the distillery, both of which are unique and interesting in many ways. There is also the opportunity to try the gin (and the sloe gin), made even more interesting given that you’ll have just been introduced to the six botanicals used in Plymouth Gin and how they affect the gin’s flavour and aroma. Finally it’s up to the Refrectory cocktail bar to enjoy a free G&T… and believe me when I say you’ll struggle to find a better gin and tonic on the planet.

In the Refrectory, which is open to the public from 11am every day (but members only after 7pm on a Friday and Saturday as it was proving too popular for the space available) you will find a range of cocktails, primarily gin based, made with great ingredients. The key to a good G&T? Well, of course you have to use a great gin, and my favourite is either Plymouth or Hendricks – neither in the London Dry style, it must be added… Then, use a really good tonic which allows the flavours of the gin to shine through, not overpowering them with saccharin or other artificial substances as most do (including Schweppes). For me, this is Fever Tree, a tonic which was developed by a two-man team including Charles Rolls, who used to oversee Plymouth Gin’s operations. I’m sure there are other good quality tonics out there, but I’m happy to stick with one which I know works wonders. As it is, the Refrectory has both of these key ingredients – plus they use plenty of ice and lime, not lemon, which is always a positive. You can also get some great cocktails, my favourite being the Ginger Tom (with extra ginger for a nice spicy kick). As it was on Thursday I tried the Sloe Motion – a combinaiton of Plymouth’s tasty sloe gin and GH Mumm Cordon Rouge Champagne. Very nice it was too. Oh, and do try their mojito, excellently made using Havana Club Anejo Especial, a very nice golden rum from Cuba.

I hope that account of the previous month’s hasn’t bored you too much, and I hope you pop back again soon as I shall start posting the reviews again soon. The weather’s warming and the humidors need a bit of space freeing up I think…

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