Whisky Review: Oban Little Bay Small Cask

Oban Little Bay Small Cask

If you have tried regular Oban Single Malt and enjoyed it, you will want to check out Oban Little Bay. The “Little Bay” whisky is created by taking the original Oban and aging it in small casks. This matures the whisky and imparts some additional flavors from the oak casks. This in turn is supposed to enhance the smoothness and the flavor. Incidentally, the name “Oban” actually means “little bay” in Gaelic. The town of Oban is of course located on a small bay.

This whisky comes in a simple bottle with a pale blue label. The liquid is a medium hue that rests about halfway between gold and amber. Opening the bottle, you detect notes of oak, espresso, citrus, apple, and salt. There is something sweet which might be honey or caramel. You also pick up some spice.

In terms of flavors, there are no major surprises here. On the palate, this whisky has a lot of the same notes that you can detect through smell. What I thought was espresso may actually be chocolate, but everything else is much as expected: apple, salt, oak, and orange. The spice note is more pronounced and definitely includes cloves. Maybe the only unexpected departure was the lack of sweetness. While I smelled honey or caramel, I don’t really taste any. Some of the fruit notes are slightly sweet, but it is a very faint sweetness. All in all, this is a pretty dry whisky. It is a little acidic on the finish.

Comparing this to the Oban 14 Year Old, I would say that there are some aspects I like better and others not so much. The 14-er was richer and spicier and had a lingering finish, but the Little Bay whisky seems to have more complexity in the flavors. I’m not really sure which of them was smoother.

You can purchase Oban Little Bay Small Cask for around $50-$70, which is not a bad price at all considering that this is a very enjoyable dram. I tend to prefer slightly sweeter whiskies, but I can’t complain about the dryness here. It was a welcome change from my usual selection, and an interesting reinterpretation of the original Oban.

Oban Little Bay Small Cask : Review Summary

Color: Medium golden amber.

Nose: Espresso, oak, citrus, apple, salt, honey, caramel, spice.

Palate: Chocolate, apple, orange, salt, oak, cloves.

Habanos Festival Date and New Releases

Habanos Festival.

It’s that time again … time for a round-up on all the news in the cigar industry! This week we have some updates for you on new releases from some of your favorite cigar brands. There is also some news on the legislative front (a mixed bag, as usual), and a festival announcement from Habanos. Let’s check it out.

New and Upcoming Releases:

  • This month, Davidoff will be launching the New Royal Series. Sound familiar? This release is more than a new look. The wrapper is changing from the Ecuadorian one used previously to an Aromatica Dominicana. This wrapper will be exclusive to the New Royal Series. Only 8 individuals are involved with wrapping the cigars by hand, each of whom has 15 or more years of experience.
  • Tatuaje has announced its “Unlucky 13” list of retailers for the year, each of which will receive special boxes of the 2016 Monster Series, starting with the Krueger, which has already shipped.
  • Viaje has just announced a couple of new projects. This includes the Full Moon release for 2016 (Full Moon has been shipped every year since 2013), which will be a Collector’s Edition, and the new Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua. This cigar looks a lot like the Exclusivo line which already exists, except that there is a new band and packaging, and it is also a brand new blend manufactured at the TABSA factory in Nicaragua.
  • As you likely know, a lot of cigar releases this year have been simply “appearing” on shelves because manufacturers have been forced to release them early in limited quantities to select retailers to get in under the new FDA deadline. Well, the newest one to turn up is the Alec Bradley Corojo, found at STOGIES World Class Cigars in Houston. It comes in five sizes: Gordo, Robusto, Churchill, Torpedo and Toro, and costs $6-8.
  • Habanos S.A. will be releasing the Cohiba Selección 50 Aniversario Travel Humidor at the Tax Free World Association Exhibition in Cannes, France. As you might guess, these humidors will go on sale at duty free shops worldwide. Each comes with a special gift inside: eight Cohiba cigars. No release date or price has been announced yet.

Legal News:

  • Live in Fulton County, Georgia? Unfortunately, you will no longer be able to smoke in parks throughout the county. The seven-member board approved the ban unanimously, and tacked on a hefty fine to boot: $1,000 and 60 days in jail. Just in case you don’t live in Georgia, you need to know that this is a big deal, because Fulton County is very populous; it contains around 90% of the city of Atlanta. The cities of Alpharetta, College Park, Sandy Springs, and East Point are all inside county lines as well. So that is a lot of people who can no longer smoke in public parks.
  • In happier news, if you live in the state of California, you can still smoke cigars at state beaches and parks. As we recently reported, Governor Jerry Brown struck down a bill that would have banned smoking on public campuses throughout the state. Now he has vetoed a second bill which would have prohibited smoking at state parks and beaches. Brown’s veto message does suggest that some regulatory steps should be taken, but, “The complete prohibition in all parks and beaches is too broad.”

Industry News:

  • President Obama has just nominated the first ambassador to Cuba since 1961, Jeffrey DeLaurentis. This is a huge step forward in the normalization of relations, and like all other steps in that process, represents excellent news for cigar lovers in the US.
  • In one more exciting news item relating to Cuba, Habanos S.A. has just announced the dates for the 19th Festival del Habanos, which will commence on Monday, February 27th, and run through Friday, March 3rd. The featured cigar has yet to be announced.

And that wraps it up for this week’s cigar news updates. Be sure to check back soon for more industry news!

Warped La Hacienda

Warped La Hacienda

Origin : Nicaragua
Format : Corona
Warped CigarsSize : 5.6 x 46
Wrapper : Nicaraguan Corojo
Filler : Nicaragua
Binder : Nicaragua
Hand-Made
Factory : Casa Fernandez
Body : Medium
Price : $10.50 MSRP
More info about purchasing Warped cigars...

Warped is a rising star boutique brand (as far as I’m concerned, they have arrived) founded by Kyle Gellis. In recent years, they’ve received accolades for their unique blends, and if you haven’t delved into the Warped brand yet, now is the time. A great place to start is with La Hacienda (“The Estate”). Warped brought back an old Cuban brand for this blend, and this Nicaraguan puro has been a home run, and it’s a staple in my humidor. I’m amazed at the consistency in performance and flavor profile.

Read the full review of Warped La Hacienda...

Releases from Romeo y Julieta, My Father & Alec Bradley

My Father The Judge

It has been a pretty good week all-around in the cigar world. There are a number of exciting new releases to share, and there is also some good news on the regulatory front. Let’s check it out.

New and Upcoming Releases:

  • As you may recall from literature class, Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet took place in Verona, Italy. Now Verona serves as the stage for launching the new Romeo y Julieta Capuletos, which measure 6 inches with a 53-ring gauge. This launch is part of a new program by Habanos to launch special release cigars in individual cities before pressing on to global distribution. There is no word yet as to when Romeo y Julieta Capuletos will be available worldwide.
  • If you were at IPCPR this year, you may have seen the new My Father release “The Judge.” But you may also know that the packaging was not yet finalized at the show. Well, now it is. These cigars feature a chestnut-brown band with the name “The Judge.” The color closely mimics that of the wrapper leaf on the cigar. There is also a Victorian-style logo. The overall effect is very stylish.
  • Alec Bradley will be releasing a new cigar with sun grown wrappers soon. We do not have a lot of details on this yet, because this is one of many products recently distributed in small quantities to limited retailers to get in under the FDA pre-approval deadline. The new product was spied at STOGIES World Class Cigars, and is billed as the Alec Bradley Havana Sun Grown. Four sizes will be available: Churchill, toro, torpedo and robusto, and the line will sell in the $7-$9 range.
  • As you may know, the Joya De Nicaragua Rosalones Reserva debuted recently in Spain. Now the company has announced that it will be shipping out the cigars to the rest of the European markets. Joya De Nicaragua Rosalones Reserva comes in four sizes and is priced in the $2.80-$5.00 range.

Legal News:

  • Over the past year, smokers in Worcester, Massachusetts have not been faring too well. The minimum age to buy tobacco jumped from 18 to 21, and smoking has been banned in a number of establishments. Tobacco retailers have also faced new restrictions. There is finally some good news on this front, however; the Worcester Board of Health has decided not to ban smoking in the patio areas of restaurants and bars, and has also opted not to ban flavored tobacco products from being sold. These motions are now off the table until further notice.
  • Finally, in one more item of encouraging regulatory news, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed legislation which would have banned smoking on public university campuses throughout the state of California. Public universities will remain free to set their own rules.

Thanks for checking in with us for this week’s cigar updates. Be sure to check back soon for more cigar news!

Partagas Seleccion Piramide

Partagas Seleccion Piramide

Origin : CubaPartagas
Format : Piramide
Size : 156 x 21 mm (6 1/8 x 52)
Hand-Made
Price : UK price £20 (£160 for the seleccion of 5), 15.80 Euros online (€79 for seleccion)
More info about purchasing Partagas cigars...

I am reviewing this cigar as part of the seleccion as I happen to own the set and see that this and the Romeo are needed to complete the review set on CigarInspector (Cohiba Seleccion Piramide, Hoyo de Monterrey Seleccion Piramide & Montecristo Seleccion Piramide). The other three I have video reviews on my YouTube channel CigarHub.

So I’m sitting here with this rather impressive seleccion box, I mean it’s incredible – the small wooden humidor the set comes in, the smell right as you open the box, the unbelievably beautiful looking cigars you get to see as soon as you take off the wax paper. What’s the first “out of place” thing I notice? This Partagas. It really stands out.

Read the full review of Partagas Seleccion Piramide...

Caldwell The King is Dead

Caldwell The King is Dead Toro Negrito

Origin : Dominican Republic
Format : Toro
Caldwell Cigar CoSize : 6 x 52
Wrapper : Negrito Dominicano - 2008
Filler : Corojo Ligero Dominicano 30% – 2006; Negrito Viso Dominicano 20% - 2008; HVA 20/20 50% - 2010
Binder : Corojo Dominicano - 2006
Hand-Made
Price : $10.50 MSRP
More info about purchasing Caldwell cigars...

Please welcome Scott AKA The Bare Hand, our new author! He starts with a very detailed review of a boutique cigar, Caldwell The King is Dead. Enjoy!

The King is Dead by Caldwell Cigar Company, owned by Robert Caldwell, is their second blend. They make very small batch releases, so finding them can be somewhat tough, but this cigar has been a hit, and I’m excited to finally give it a go after resting in my humidor for about a year.

Interestingly, according to Robert Caldwell, this cigar was blended with the intention of smoking the related brother blend, Long Live the King (which is fantastic BTW), just before. Unfortunately, I did not have that opportunity, but this cigar was enjoyable nonetheless.

This blend utilizes some rare and underused Dominican tobaccos (just check the blend. What a mouthful!), so I’m preparing for a unique experience.

Read the full review of Caldwell The King is Dead...

New Illusione Sizes, Davidoff Exclusive & Legal News

Illusione Ultra

With summer drawing to a close, it is time for another round of cigar news. This week we have a lot of legal news to report. Some of it is good, some of it isn’t—as usual it is a mixed bag for the cigar industry. But first, let’s talk about new releases.

New and Upcoming Releases:

  • Fans of the Illusione Ultra line will be excited to learn that there are now two new formats available: a Churchill and a short robusto. The short robusto is known as the Op. No. 3, and measures 4 1/4 inches with a 50-ring gauge. You can purchase it for $8. The Churchill is the Op. No. 8, measuring 6 3/4 with a 48-ring gauge. The larger size will sell for $13. You can purchase the new sizes in boxes of 20, but there are also limited-edition 48-count boxes of the Op. No. 3, each adorned with special artwork.
  • Fans of Oettinger Davidoff AG and the Corona Cigar Company know these two cigar giants have enjoyed a longstanding business relationship. To celebrate that association, Davidoff is releasing a limited edition cigar to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Corona Cigar Company. The Davidoff Exclusive Corona Cigar Co. 20th is a 6 x 52 Belicoso featuring an Ecuador Connecticut Rojiza wrapper, a Mexico Negro San Andres Binder and a combination of Florida Sun Grown and Dominican Republic fillers.

Legal News:

  • You may know there is a ban on smoking in restaurants, casinos, bars, video lottery establishments, and package liquor stores in South Dakota. A business owner recently challenged this ruling and it went to the circuit court. Unfortunately, the ruling has now been reaffirmed and still stands, so this represents another loss for the cigar community.
  • The FDA has just issued its first set of warning letters to retailers who sell newly regulated tobacco products. The goal with these particular letters is to stop the sale of tobacco to minors. The FDA has been conducting inspections and issuing similar warnings (and penalties) since 2009, but the list of newly regulated products includes cigars. Fifty-five letters have been sent out so far to retailers across the country.
  • Did you know there is a ban prohibiting the donation of cigars to U.S. soldiers abroad? U.S. Representative Kathy Castor, D-Florida, is currently spearheading an effort to get the ban overturned by introducing H.R. 5955. Be sure to write in to your congressmen in support of the bill so our troops can get back to enjoying donated cigars on their tours of duty!
  • Finally, in a solid victory, the General Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee of New Jersey voted 9 to 1 to permit a municipality to authorize new cigar lounges. At the present time, cigar bars which opened prior to 2005 are exempt from the Smoke-Free Air Act. Patrons in these exempt bars can smoke, but patrons at newer lounges cannot. This bill will allow new cigar lounges the same rights as those which opened before 2005.
  • Here is one more exciting legal news item. After more than five decades, the U.S. Department of Transportation has finally approved flights to Havana! Eight airline companies will be participating. This is a great step forward in cementing commercial relations between the US and Cuba, and a great day for Cuban cigar fans in America.

Thank you for checking in for this week’s cigar news. Be sure to check back soon for another set of updates!

Rafael Gonzalez Petit Piramide (Regional Edition Germany)

Rafael Gonzalez Petit Piramide (Regional Edition Germany)

Rafael GonzalezOrigin : Cuba
Format : Petit Piramide
Size : 127 x 19 mm (5 x 50)
Released in : 2013
Hand-Made
Price : ~10 EUR each
More info about purchasing Rafael Gonzalez cigars...

You are probably familiar with the Edición Regional program from Habanos S.A. This is a program where Cuban cigar brands create unique limited-edition cigars for exclusive distribution to retailers in particular countries. One interesting aspect of this program is the fact that all the release ideas must be initiated by the distributors, who must also provide the financial underwriting.

The program first launched back in 2005, and since then many Cuban brands have participated (except for global brands like Cohiba, which are prohibited from participation). One which did not until 2013 was Rafael González.

Rafael González’s entry is an exclusive for Germany. Having heard good things, I decided to give it a try. Let’s check it out.

Read the full review of Rafael Gonzalez Petit Piramide (Regional Edition Germany)...

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