It was well after midnight when we turned on the mics for Episode 17. We’ve never kicked things off so late and, honestly, I was a bit worried. I’ve been looking forward (massive understatement) to reviewing this cigar from the moment Drew Estate made the announcement and tonight I was finally holding three of them in my hand. On the flipside, I had also been dreading the crew’s discussion of this Japanese anime film for weeks as it is so far out of my comfort zone that I was afraid my ignorance of the genre and my inability to comprehend the existential underlyings of the movie would be revealed to all the moment I opened my big mouth. So with a deep breath I signaled Tut to turn on the mics, we lit up our cigars, and took a long sip of beer… And the result, as you’ll find when you listen to the show below or on iTunes, is that it’s one of our most unique and engaging episodes yet.
THE CIGAR – UNDERCROWN SHADE GRAN TORO
Manufacturer Page: Undercrown Shade
The original Undercrown cigar by Drew Estate was one of the first premium cigars I fell in love with many moons ago. It’s always ALWAYS a staple of my humidor and I have purchased more boxes of the Undercrown than any other stick. As far as the price point and suiting my palate it can’t be beat. So when news broke out at this year’s IPCPR Annual Convention & Trade Show that a new Undercrown was on the horizon my interest was peaked to say the least. It’s so in demand this early on in its release that the only way we got our grubby mits on a handful of these was through the limitless friendship and generosity of our confidant Rev Java. THANK YOU REV! Despite me not being a big fan of Connecticut wrapped cigars I went into the Undercrown Shade tonight with an open mind and high hopes. How could I not, the cigar is absolutely fucking stunning to look at.
Is there a such thing as an oily Connecticut wrapper? Yes, yes there is. Is there a such thing as a Connecticut cigar that pours thick beautiful clouds of white smoke comparable to its grandpa the Liga Privada 9? Yes, yes there is. Drew Estate’s Master Blender is named Willy Herrera but he might as well go by Willy Herrera-Wonka with the crazy witchcraft he utilized to craft the Undercrown Shade. Right out of the gate we were blasted with prominent amazing flavors of cashews and salt. Construction is top notch with a perfect razor-sharp burn line and smooth draw. Tut commented after the first few puffs he was “immediately relaxed”, so add natural sedative to the list of positives we’ll throw at this cigar!
To demonstrate just how well constructed the Shade is, I usually have to relight my cigar several times throughout each podcast simply due to the fact that I talk so goddamn much and neglect the cigar (which is not at all the cigar’s fault). I did NOT have to relight the Shade a single time. The middle third of the cigar brought in notes of cream and subtle vanilla and the marriage of that naturally sweet creaminess with the lingering cashew was fantastic. A nice cedar note also poked its head in the door briefly right before we all nubbed the Shade and dropped its tiny beautiful corpse gently down into our stinky ashtrays. Also worth mentioning, the strength picked up slightly in the final act but stayed squarely in the realm of medium throughout the 1.5 to 2 hour smoking period.
We hyped up this cigar quite a bit leading up to tonight’s show and I’m relieved to say that the Undercrown Shade lived up to the hype. It’s the rare stogie that I would feel just as comfortable handing out to a virgin cigar smoker as I would a seasoned vet. It’s a silky, complex, ultimately delicious smoking experience that should appeal to everyone on some level and I think all three off us left tonight’s episode with the mindset of making a box purchase as soon as humanly possible. SEEK IT OUT!
THE BEER – ASAHI SUPER DRY
Manufacturer Page: Asahi Super Dry
The Asahi Super Dry is a Japanese rice lager and is also, I believe, the first “corporate beer” we’ve reviewed here on the show. The Super Dry emerged in 1987 during the Dry Beer Craze of the time and it quickly pushed Asahi to #1 in its native Japan. Seems like every beer my underage self would stare longingly at on the grocery store shelf had either the words DRY or ICE slapped on the end of their names back then and by the time I could legally consume (chug) alcoholic beverages those trends had mainly fallen to the wayside. But not Asahi Super Dry, it’s still here and I can see why! It’s extremely crisp with a really nice weight on the back end. While it has many characteristics of a light beer it is far from flavorless and the slight bite gives it almost an IPA-like hoppiness at times although very muted. It’s a great beer to accompany a cigar that you are fairly certain will have no real bite of its own. A bland beer would fade away in the company of a flavorful cigar but the Super Dry hangs in there at the party without being an obnoxious asshole about it
While the Super Dry paired beautifully with the Undercrown Shade, my tingling Stogie Sense told me that (A) I had to pee and (B) perhaps a Boddingtons Pub Ale would be an interesting partner as well. But can things ever be too creamy? Maybe I should throw back some shots of Half & Half while I’m at it. Where do the limits of acceptable creaminess end?!? Are there limits?!? These are the questions that haunt your friendly neighborhood podcaster each and every night.
THE FILM – GHOST IN THE SHELL
IMDB Page: Ghost In The Shell
It took me several viewings of Ghost In The Shell to fully wrap my head around it so I’m not even going to attempt to summarize the crew’s discussion and analysis of it here. You’ll have to listen to the podcast for that. What I will say is that the visual artistry on display in this film left me trembling at times. Literally Fucking Trembling.
That is all hand drawn, ladies and gents. When these incredible animated visuals (think Blade Runner and Michael Mann’s Miami Vice as influential reference points to get your minds drooling) are combined with one of the most original musical scores I’ve heard in years (it’s the Ennio Morricone and Vangelis collaboration we’ll never actually get) and then stir all that together with a HEAVY philosophical sci fi screenplay that literally leaves your brain sore and battered throughout… Well, if none of that sounds interesting to you then I don’t know what else I can say.
I’m sure there’s an episode of Paw Patrol on somewhere that will satisfy your cravings for classic cartoons that stick to the rules… not that there’s anything wrong with that. PAW PATROL!!!
The Undercrown Shade is my favorite cigar that we’ve reviewed on the show so far. When you factor that in with the superb beer, the intense film, and the conversation revolving around all three of these things – I left tonight’s show with my head spinning. Spinning more than usual, that is, and in a very good way.
Thank you for checking out The Tuesday Night Cigar Club and we’ll see you next time when we review another cigar, adult beverage, and film. May the wings of liberty never lose a feather.