Five Budget Bourbons

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The bourbon market has seen an incredible expansion over the past 10 years. Major distillers have added new brands to their portfolio and the proliferation of craft/artisan distillers has exploded. And with demand at an all time high, prices have become exorbitant, making many good types of bourbon out of reach for the average consumer.

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Primer: a deeper understanding of conservative thought

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Primer: A deeper understanding of conservative thought

Amongst the young and, particularly in the metal community, Conservatives and Conservative thought are seen as retrograde, fascistic and wholly in thrall to religious fanatics. There are numerous reasons why they have this perception — and even more reasons why this line of thinking is wrong.

Modern American Conservatism was formed in a caldron of four events: two horrible world wars, a concerted effort by those in power to import European socialism to America and a long march through American institutions of Marxists, progressives and secular humanists. These events created the nascent conservative movement, which was reactionary at first — but soon developed into a coherent philosophy by thinkers such as William F. Buckley, Russell Kirk, Whittaker Chambers, Phyllis Schlafly and many others. Though theyoften disagreed with each other on various issues, conservatism nonetheless coalesced around certain principles and beliefs:

The wisdom of the American founders: The founders limited the power of government to keep it from becoming an ideological tyranny, and set up a system of gradual change instead of sudden, impulsive and emotional crusades which they witnessed in the revolutions of Europe.

Belief in the individual: Conservatives believe that human individuals are each unique and cannot be lumped together like clay, treated like masses and molded by elites in government “for their best interests.” Individuals are capable of great things when allowed to define their own destinies.

Peace through strength: Conservatives believe that weakness (both real and perceived) invites aggression. Conservatives such as Winston Churchill understood that Europe’s weakness and indecision during the interwar period from 1919-1938 is a primary reason for the ascendancy of Hitler and the war that followed.

Market capitalism: Conservatives believe that the greatest engine for creating wealth, driving innovation and lifting people out of poverty is market capitalism. No other system developed has created a thriving middle class like market capitalism has, and it should be promoted instead of demonized. This does not mean unfettered, unregulated capitalism, but a lightly regulated system that insures a fair playing field for all participants.

Low taxes: Government raises taxes to pursue ideological goals, which signals its intent to become a tyranny. High taxes support this. Further, high taxes represent oppression and the limiting of individual potential.

Absolute truth, morality and rule of law: Centuries of human experience show us what works and what does not, and from this we derive an understanding of morality. It is not given to humanity by God, but by practicality. The rule of law is designed to help bolster those absolute truths, and more importantly it is meant to protect the individual through having his or her constitutional rights protected at all times. Deviation from the consistency of law allows people to impose their will on one another by abusing positions of authority. Hence the statement “we are a government of laws, not men” is of utmost importance to the Conservative.

Human nature: To the Conservative, mankind is imperfect and will always be, and knowing this, the Conservative understands that no perfect social order or utopian society could ever be created. Attempts to create utopian societies, or to engineer man for perfection will end in civil unrest, chaos and ultimately totalitarianism. The best we can reasonably hope for is to try and improve mankind’s plight with prudent reform and gradual social change. Conservatives accept that there will always be some suffering, inequality and destitution amongst mankind and the challenge is to ease it without disrupting or constraining the rest of society.

Problems and tensions within Conservatism:

As with many movements, there is strife, disagreement and infighting. This is especially true within the Conservative movement, because Conservatives are individuals first, and members of a party or movement second. Even more, conservatism is an amorphous theory rather than an ideology, so it does not have simple universal principles and instead must be interpreted on a situational basis.

The political vessel through which a Conservative works is the Republican Party — which contrary to what many in the media will have you believe, is a coalition of diverse groups of individuals ranging from isolationists, religious fundamentalists, anarcho-capitalists and libertarians. These groups are in constant tension with each other, and holding a Republican coalition together is difficult at best. Some examples of tensions within the party will follow below.

One of the most divisive issues within the movement is the role of God and religion. Belief in certain principles such as absolute truth, the individual and rule of law can coexist with belief in a Supreme Being, but many Conservatives have no religious affiliation and treat God as a symbol of the sovereignty of the individual over their government. This line of thinking flows from the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”

Another tension within conservatism occurs within the realm of foreign policy. There are three differing viewpoints constantly battling each other for the movement’s heart and soul: Isolationists believe we should not interfere in foreign affairs; Neoconservatives (hawks) believe in a robust foreign policy to transform the world; and Traditionalists believe in interfering in foreign affairs only if it is vital to our economic or national interest.

The abortion debate poses many problems for conservatives as well, and falls along a few interesting fault lines. There is of course, the religious view of abortion, which is seen as a simple issue: abhorrent and sinful. However, more thoughtful Conservatives wrestle with the abortion issue from the standpoint of individual rights, and the tension between the rights of the mother and the rights of the unborn child – both of whom are considered individuals worthy of protection. Furthermore, many Conservatives fear that abortion will lead to eugenics, eventually destroying the variety and unique qualities found in each human being.

Finally there are numerous economic theories that divide conservatives. These range from unlimited free-marketers, protectionists and more moderate free marketers. Libertarians for example believe that free market capitalism alone will produce the best society; more protectionist-oriented Neoconservatives see the importance of high tariffs to keep our products low cost and imports expensive, where in the middle most conservatives like free markets to a point, but believe in varying degrees of regulation or other influence by our leaders on the markets.

In conclusion, the media portrays conservatives as a bloc of religious fanatics, racists and warmongers. As a result, most young people will never know of what conservatism is, nor the ideas that drive it or the diversity within it. Conservatism is a philosophy rich in tradition, rigorous thought and internal debate, and with a little exploration, most will find something in that history that appeals to them.

Groundbreaking Conservative writing, speeches and articles:

  • God and Man at Yale by William F. Buckley.
  • Witness by Whittaker Chambers
  • The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk
  • Dictatorships and Double Standards (Essay) by Jeanne Kirkpatrick
  • The Road to Serfdom by FA Hayek
  • A Time for Choosing (Speech) by Ronald Reagan
  • Anarchy State & Utopia by Robert Nozick
  • Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman
  • The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater
  • On Liberty by John Stuart Mill

Diesel – Unlimited Maduro 6×60 (2015)

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The Diesel Unlimited Maduro is an extension of the very popular Diesel cigar line by master blender AJ Fernandez. Mr. Fernandez has quite a dedicated following with full-bodied cigar lovers, as he is known for using potent tobaccos in his blends. Popular cigars such as the Man O’ War Ruination and the Diesel Unholy Cocktail are extremely strong, meaty and flavorful. The Diesel Unlimited Maduro follows in this tradition and is a welcome addition to his ever-growing portfolio.

The Blend:

Wrapper: Connecticut seed broadleaf maduro1
Binder: Mexican San Andreas
Filler: Nicaraguan and Honduran ligero2

Appearance and Construction:

A mottled, chocolate brown wrapper covers the cigar. It has a rustic appearance, with a slight tooth and a dull sheen of natural oils. It is firmly rolled and feels well constructed, with no lumps, hard spots or other imperfections. I’ve had many boxes of these cigars and they always seem to be a bit on the dry side. That doesn’t mean they are “dried out”, I just think that they aren’t as oily or moist as many other cigars. With that said, care must be taken when handling as the wrapper can flake or crack if you’re not too careful or apply too much heat all at once when lighting.

Pre-light Impressions:

The cigar has a fairly strong tobacco aroma along with an undertone of what can best be described as barnyard — a mixture of straw, grass, dirt and manure. This is in no way a negative — as a matter of fact the barnyard aroma harmonizes quite well with the tobacco.

Smoking Experience:

Because the cigar contains a good dose of ligero tobacco, The Diesel Unlimited Maduro benefits from a long toasting of the foot to warm up the head of the cigar. Once lit, the cigar burns even and true, with a grey flaky ash that can, at times, create a mess in your lap or on your clothes. The draw is quite good, producing a nice mouthful of smoke with each draw.

The smoke has a pleasant mouth feel to it — light and very flavorful with no off-putting qualities. What’s impressive is that although the smoke is very light in your mouth, it has a strong character to it that really makes you take notice.

Initial mouth flavors are wood, leather and straight tobacco and through the nose it’s mostly spice with a touch of bitter cocoa and black coffee. The finish is clean and very dry with lingering sweet chocolate and burnt wood notes.

This is by no means a complex cigar, as the flavors remain the same throughout — from initial light to the last inch. It never smokes too hot or too cool and provides a good hour and a half of smoking enjoyment. Its bold flavor profile and ramped-up nicotine content is not for the beginner, but veteran smokers will certainly appreciate the consistent blast of flavor and kick in the pants this smoke provides.

The Diesel Unlimited Maduro fits well into the Diesel cigar line, rounding out an already impressive grouping of smokes.

Terms:

  1. Maduro: This is a fermentation process that uses intense pressure and heat to extract more sugar from the tobacco leaf than standard tobacco aging.
  2. Ligero: The top-most part of a tobacco plant. This is the strongest type of tobacco, because it receives the most sunlight and has a higher nicotine content than other parts of the plant.

For those of us who steadfastly refuse to follow the beard trend

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The Gentleman’s Art of Wet Shaving.

For those of us who steadfastly refuse to follow the beard trend (like it or not, beards are trendy — thanks hipster scum), shaving is an everyday routine that, at times, feels like a chore rather than a pleasurable experience. It doesn’t need to be this way. With a small investment of $40.00 – $50.00 you can turn your daily shave into a pleasurable ritual that takes you back to a simpler time, when gentlemen prided themselves on a clean, close shave. If this interests you, throw your disposable multi-blade razor and chemical filled shaving cream in the trash and embrace the gentleman’s art of wet shaving.

Wet shaving can best be described as “the kind of shaving your grandfather did.” It involves the use of a safety razor, a shaving brush, shaving soap, and a handful of other supplies.

GATHER YOUR TOOLS

The safety razor is the most important part of your shaving arsenal. Sadly when most think of them, the first thing that comes to mind is a bloody, nick filled face. I assure you this preconception is not true, and with proper technique using a safety razor is just as safe as shaving with the razor you are using now.

Safety razors are beautiful works of art crafted from a wide variety of metals and plastics, and choosing the one that’s right for you is simply a matter of personal choice. If you’re new to wet shaving, a great razor to begin with is the Edwin Jagger DE89811BL, it’s a gorgeous chrome plated razor that is weighty, easy to maneuver and not terribly aggressive.

Safety razors use a double-edged blade that fits into a receiver. The receiver allows only a small amount of the blade to protrude through it. That’s where the “safety” part of the razor comes into play. The blades cost about 10 cents a piece — far cheaper than those multi blade cartridges that you pay big bucks for, and range in sharpness from mild to deadly. For beginners, the Derby Extra is an excellent choice. For the more adventurous, the Feather is considered by many to be the king of the hill in sharpness.

Once you’ve chosen your razor and blades, it’s time to find the right brush and soap. Ideally, a badger hair shaving brush should be chosen because it balances stiffness and softness perfectly. A good brush is critical in helping you build a nice lather as well as raising your whiskers for a close shave, so choose wisely.

Choosing a shaving soap is a matter of personal choice, and there are literally hundreds of them in the market. Even the cheapest ones will be better than the chemically laced mass market shaving cream you’re using now. Most shaving soaps come in a tin, but if the one you choose doesn’t, you’ll have to purchase a shaving mug. I use a wide variety of soaps, depending on my mood in the morning. If you want an invigorating menthol zing to your face, try Proraso Green Label, if you want a spicy and warm feeling, try The Blades Grim “Smolder” (my personal favorite).

TIME TO SHAVE

Once you have your weapons together, it’s time for your first wet shave. Remember, if you savor the experience and embrace the ritual, you’ll never go back to modern day shaving again.

Step one: Wash your face with warm water — this helps open your pores, soften your whiskers and prepare your face for shaving. If you really want to go old school, put a warm damp towel on your face for a few minutes.

Step two: Wet your shaving brush thoroughly with warm water, shake it out and begin building lather with your soap. Using a light touch, go in a clockwise direction with the brush until it is coated with some lather. If you don’t have enough lather, wet the brush a little more. Once you have a nice lather, take the brush cover the entire shaving area of your face by using a circular motion. This will help increase lather as well as lift your whiskers. Let the lather sit on your face for a minute before proceeding to step three.

Step Three: Now it’s time to shave. You’ll want to hold the razor against your face at a 30-degree angle from the floor. This angle should just allow the edge of the blade to touch your skin.

When applying pressure, forget everything you know about using a disposable razor. Most of these use sub-standard blades that are grouped together, and you’re probably used to pushing against your skin. With wet shaving, little or no pressure is needed to achieve optimal results; you simply hold the razor gently against your skin and let the weight of the razor do the work for you.

In short, slow strokes, do a single pass with the grain of your hair growth. If you’re able to, pull the area you are shaving taught in order to get a truly close shave. Once you complete this first pass, re-lather with your brush and do a second pass against the grain. Patience is the key — take your time, and as stated before, enjoy the experience.

Step Four: Once you’re done, rinse your face with cold water to cool and tighten your skin. Don’t’ forget to clean your shaving gear thoroughly as well. If you like, follow up with a nice aftershave (not a cologne). If you want to stay in old school mode, try Pinaud Clubman. It smells absolutely hideous out of the bottle, but once it mixes it with your skin’s oils, you’ll instantly smell like a real man, not an effeminate metrosexual — think Patton, Eisenhower and Humprey Bogart here….you get the picture. As an added bonus, the Pinaud also cools your skin nicely.

The whole wet shaving process takes about 15 minutes, but in the end you’ll be richly rewarded with a superior shave, great skin and a new relaxing ritual that will certainly make your day a little bit brighter.

Once you’ve mastered the art of using a safety razor, you can really step up your game and try a straight razor. That’s where the serious fun begins.

Cigar Pairing: 1993 Punch Churchill & Woodford Reserve Bourbon

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The weather is absolutely perfect here in New York, with a surprisingly warm 73-degree temperature and gentle breeze coming in from the south. Knowing I won’t have many more days like this I figure its the perfect day to sit outside on my back patio, light up an excellent cigar and pair it with an equally remarkable bourbon.

I reached into my humidor and immediately went for my prized possession — a flawlessly preserved 1993 Cuban Punch Churchill. Now that it was chosen, I had to decide on which bourbon to pair it with. Not knowing the exact strength profile of the cigar, I decided it would be best to choose a middle of the road bourbon that wasn’t incredibly strong or forceful, but still had plenty of character — Woodford Reserve immediately came to mind. It has a wonderful upfront taste with a short and pronounced finish that I thought wouldn’t overpower the cigar. Once I poured myself a taster’s glass worth of the amber goodness and headed outside to begin.

In my opinion, Cuban cigars are not what they used to be. Over the past 20 years, poor soil management, deteriorating quality control and general apathy has led to a dramatic decline in quality and consistency — consequently buying a Cuban cigar today is a hit or miss affair. However, the cigar I was about to smoke was from a different time, when quality and consistency were still high and Cubans were the gold standard in taste. Since I never had this cigar before, I decided it would be best if I smoked it a bit to truly taste it before even attempting to pair it with the bourbon.

After toasting the foot of the cigar and lighting it, I let it settle for a minute or two until the head cooled down to its normal burning temperature. Once the cigar settled down, I took my first few draws. The smoke was rich, but not overpowering, with well-defined, upfront flavors of black pepper, leather and earth. Underneath those flavors lay the very distinctive metallic-like quality prevalent in most Cuban cigars.

The flavors blended together quite well and produced an incredibly balanced profile. This Punch is a very complex cigar, and the mix of flavors constantly evolves as you smoke it. At one moment, the leather is more pronounced; the next moment it would be another flavor at the forefront. The finish is light and pleasant, with lingering spice and metallic tastes in the mouth and nose. Overall, I would score this as a legendary smoke. I’ve had a few cigars that are better, but this is certainly one of the best I have ever experienced, and achieves legendary status easily.

Fortunately, my pairing instincts were correct, and the experience truly got out of hand when I introduced the Woodford Reserve. Both the cigar and the bourbon benefitted from each other, and the synergy between the two truly hit my sensory sweet spot. The bourbon blunted a bit of the metallic taste of the cigar and enhanced the smoke’s spicy character, while the cigar’s leather and earth notes played quite well with the Woodford’s caramel and spice notes. After a puff and a small sip, I would sit for at least three minutes, taking the whole experience in before even contemplating another.

This is one of the best pairings I have ever had, and the experience left me relaxed and fully satisfied. The only thing that would have made it better would be having a prime porterhouse beforehand. It’s very rare to experience a pairing such as this, and I certainly savored every minute of it. I only wonder what would have happened if I upped the bourbon game and tried the cigar with Pappy Van Winkle 20 year old. Alas, I’ll never know.

While Woodford Reserve is easy to find, getting your hands on a 1990s Punch is quite difficult, if not impossible to procure. I’m lucky that I have a very (very) rich hedge fund manager as a client and he is well stocked with classic Cubans — that’s where I got this incredible smoke. That being said, below are some cigars that are much easier to find that pair well with Woodford Reserve:

Partagas Black Label
Tatuaje Brown Label
Nica Rustica by Drew Estate
Don Pepin Garcia Blue Label
Old Henry by Holt’s
Diesel Unlimited Maduro

 

Chris Pervelis, best known to most of you as Internal Bleeding guitarist and composer, also writes for a number of underground metal publications.