A Week With Omar: Hurricanes, Cycling, Aladino Cameroon and Siglo VI.
What a fucking insane week this has been. However, for the sake of neutrality and a lack of expertise, I will not be commenting - yet - on the most recent UK budget that has sent the British pound to a record low, banks are refusing to lend money and mortgages are being refused.
This is not good.
I am currently conducting some in-depth research to really understand what the fuck is going on, but, until I can talk on the subject with a degree of confidence I will keep my mouth tightly sealed.
On top of the economic devastation the UK is facing, I heard some extremely sad news earlier in the week. Cuba was recently victim to a rather cataclysmic hurricane which struck the Pinar Del Rio region.
For those who aren’t familiar, the Pinar Del Rio region is famed for its' extraordinarily high quality tobacco, in fact, the state owned Habanos SA only use tobacco for their cigars from Pinar Del Rio. What we must remember is the Cuban people don’t have it easy, from my understanding, premium tobacco products is their number one import, they have already had it tough since the pandemic hit and now this.
My heart goes out to the people in Cuba, the reports coming out the region are vague but i do hope that the people are safe and that they are able to bounce back from this.
Now, perhaps some good news, my cycling journey is going brilliantly, however - I may sacrifice my dignity in admitting this - my ass is not dealing with this well.
For me, getting used to this blasted lightweight, aero saddle is really starting to test my patience and my pain tolerance. I spoke to some experts about solutions that didn’t involve rubbing numbing cream of my gentleman's areas and they suggested under shorts, a padded short you can wear under your cycling shorts.
Thank god for foam is all I can say.
I have conducted 3, 20k rides since acquiring those god sends and the pain has been almost non existent. I am now able to focus on pushing harder when riding without internally screaming in agony.
In terms of the Diverge Pro, here are my initial findings, it’s fucking amazing. I was never really sold on carbon bikes previously, I felt aluminium could provide you with 90% of the performance and carbon was really only for the professionals,
Boy oh boy was I wrong.
If you can afford it, for god sake, look no further and just go with a Carbon bike. Of course it's light, but what the lightness translates to is what impresses me. Climbs and inclines that would previously have me huffing and puffing in exhaustion are now effortless, the speed of which I can pull away from the lights is not only bewildering but also extremely safe, the quicker you can manoeuvre your bike must surely increase the safety? I am now going to start to test the off road capabilities to really understand how how dynamite the bike is.
For those of you who were shocked when they found out the price of the bike, yes, I understand, what the fuck indeed. This has lead me to taking a trip down the path of bike locks. I think it's important to remember one thing, no bike lock is indestructible, they should all be considered to be deterrence, the bigger, beefier and more secure a bike lock claims to be should deter most bike thieves to try, but if some of them are stupid or desperate enough to try then your lock should slow them down. Please don't operate under any false notions that your lock will stop a mad man with an angle grinder or a pair of bolt cutters.
I recently came across LiteLok, a UK based company that claims to have the most secure locks for the most expensive bikes. I have gotten ahold of the Flexi U lock and am looking to also try out the Core Plus. I will report my findings in the next post!
I had some rather interesting things to celebrate in my personal life that happened during the week so I of course chose, as part of my celebrations, to treat myself to some great cigars.
The first I would like to tell you all about is a brand that is rather new to me but I fast becoming a favourite, Aladino. I will be working my way through their range but I decided to start with the owners daughters' favourite, the Aladino Cameroon.
First and foremost, I will be having Justo Eiroa (the owner) on the show soon but I have been dealing with his daughter, Vivi Eiroa and may I say, what an absolute delight. If there was anyone who was the perfect embodiment of what I have found most admirable about people in the cigar industry - generosity, knowledge and passion - Vivi would be it. I have truly found it fascinating getting to know her, being a member of the next generation it has been tremendously fun picking her brain in understanding where she sees premium tobacco going and what the direction of Aladino will be.
The particular Cameroon I had was a seductively classic Robusto, wrapped in a stunningly perfect light brown, silky leaf, for me, it doesn’t get better than this.
Upon first light I was greeted with wonderful aromatics, strong smells of cedar with a light, delicate smoke, very elegant. For anyone who says new world cigars don’t evolve in flavours, they have clearly been smoking the wrong ones, the Cameroon started extremely light with a creamy flavour and texture, this then evolved half way through to have a strong caramel note.
As I write that I know it sounds ridiculous but I swear to god, there was this sweet, salty note that stayed on my palate and lips, really fucking delicious.
The end of the cigar had a small amount of pepper but those creamy notes returned. This is a brilliant beginner smoke or for me, the perfect lazy bunch smoke. I think this cigar comes in an extremely enticing Lancero vitola that I have my eye on. I am really looking forward to exploring the range in more depth.
Later in the week I had a real treat waiting for me, my little solider staring up at me from my humidor, with it's yellow band glistening in the light of my study, the one, the only, the Cohiba Siglo VI.
Yes peeps, your boy has reached the big leagues.
If you all remember my impressions of last weeks smoke, the Magnum 54, I really complimented the vitola, the Siglo VI is on a different level. A hefty cigar by any metric, 52 ring gauge and almost 6 inches in length, this bastard will take you on a journey, no doubt about it.
I am a big believer in making sure the moment is suitable to the cigar you are going smoke so I ate a great lunch, went to Francos in St James, ordered a flat white and started to light this behemoth both in stature and reputation.
I am just going to put this out there, this may very well be the best cuban cigar I have had in regular production. Not only did this cigar evolve and undulate in flavour but also in complexity, which is something I havent experienced until now, allow me to try and explain what I mean.
It started off a solid light to medium with graceful, exquisite creamy, cedar notes, there was a great deal of complexity and nuance in terms of the balance between the sweetness and savoury notes in the wood. However, this changed completely, ramping up in boldness, ditching the light touch and going instead with an audacious hit of leather and coffee.
Talk about a bloody transition, I could almost call this profile rustic.
After a few inches the brashness of those notes started to subdue and were complimented perfectly with a nice dose of the signature Cohiba spice that provokes and arouses the palate.
A true masterpiece.
I don’t like to talk about the prices of a cigar but when a cigar is north of £100 it has to be brought up. The question I think many will ask is if this cigar is worth it? As far as I am concerned this cigar represents almost a rite of passage type thing, it is a must smoke in any cigar enthusiasts journey. Would I smoke this every day, hell no, but as a celebratory cigar your £100 is going a lot further in comparison to the £300 you have to shell out for the BHK 52. As my generation once said, YOLO.