Author Archives: Eric

Opening up the Cigar Private Locker

I’m in the middle of fall in the Pacific Northwest. Which means that it’s mostly rainy and grey … and my opportunity to get out and smoke a great cigar is pretty slim. Last week and next week are travel weeks for me and that makes it even more difficult. You have to take advantage of any break in the rain this time of year, but if you’re on the road that’s difficult. Fortunately, Saturday was a beautiful fall day in the Northwest. It was cold, but crisp and clear.

The day was so beautiful and the opportunity so prime, that I had to break out a cigar from my the bottom shelf of my humidor. The top shelf, easy to get to and visible through the glass top, has my sort of daily smoking, less prime cigars. The bottom shelf has the Montecristo Churchills and Oliva Serie V in it. And something very special, as well. I figured today called for the Graycliff Casillero Privada. I bought a mazo of 10 of them a couple months ago. They’ve been in the humidor ever since.

I love Graycliff cigars. And these promised to be special. Casillero Privada, in Spanish, means Private Locker. These are the cigars that the famous Graycliff hotel in Nassau keeps locked away for their VIP guests. But they released a few mazo’s to be sold publicly earlier this year and when they did I grabbed one without hesitating.

And I promised the TLP crew a cigar review. Perfect excuse to light one of these guys up and see if it lives up to expectations.

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Bottom line up front in case this post is tl;dr for you …. This is an absolutely fantastic cigar, but may not be approachable for a novice. If you haven’t smoked much, I would recommend choosing something else. But if you are a cigar enthusiast who enjoys robust, complex, premium smokes then this is the cigar for you.

On to the review

Cigar Overview

This is a Graycliff Casillero Privada PG 5×52. At first sight, the cigar is decent sized with a shaggy foot, giving it a rustic “old school” appearance. The wrapper is dark brown, lightly oily and looks like old leather. It had no obvious cracks, bubbles or other blemishes. The seams in the wrapper and cap are very tight, almost invisible and very few veins are apparent. The unlit aroma was of exotic spices, pepper and black tea, with an underlying barnyard odor that I suspected would turn to a very deeply earthy aroma once lit. The cigar is clearly rolled by hand and does not use a form for assistance. It is not as dense and firm as a form rolled, mass manufactured cigar would be.

Initial Impressions

The Cigar

Lighting the cigar, in spite of the shaggy foot, was easy. I use a Bugatti lighter with 3 jets, which allows for a wide, even lighting. Toasting the end of a cigar is easy with the Bugatti.

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As I said, it lit easily and very uniformly. The first taste was medium bodied and complex, the smoke was cool, the flavor was peppery with a bit of earthiness. The draw was very easy and smooth. The cigar produces a lot of smoke and burns quite clean. First impression was excellent.

First Impressions

I’m drinking Bulleit Rye and soda and this seems like a good choice to start. The rye, with its spice, fruit and hints of maple syrup sweetness should really compliment the earthy, peppery cigar that I’m anticipating.

Bulleit Rye and soda

During the first 1/4 of the cigar I found that the initial complexity was not a fluke. It kept building, with notes of leather in addition to the spice and earth. It is very robust, definitely not for the faint of heart. Within the first inch all sense of the barnyard is gone, replaced with a very lovely earthiness that I am really enjoying. The cigar burns quite evenly and draws very smoothly.

Middle of the Cigar

Mid Cigar

As I work my way into the cigar I find that I was right, the rye and soda is a great choice and really compliments the dry leathery notes in the cigar. The ash is white and even and one inch of ash is not a problem whatsoever. As I move further into the cigar more becomes apparent. Toasted nuts, leather, earthy, peppery. This cigar is very masculine. At the halfway mark the pepper has built to the point that I am getting spice in my nose.

Moving into the second half of the cigar it still burns cool and even and the draw remains smooth. Hints of oak and vanilla begin to appear and the the leather and pepper build even further. This cigar is really amazing. I have yet to find anything negative about it. This cigar is clearly very special, among the elite of cigars.

Final Impressions

In the last 1/3 of the cigar, if it is possible, this cigar blossoms even more. It becomes very robust and much more complex and full bodied. I can taste earthiness overall, but quite a bit of spice, pepper, toasted nuts, leather and coffee, even a bit of cane sweetness. It is clearly hand rolled. The cigar is light in the hand, almost fragile feeling compared to cigars rolled in forms and made in factories. Clearly it is not a mass made cigar. The head has gotten slightly soggy, but not enough to detract from the overall experience.

Conclusions

Graycliff Casillero Privada

First, the score. This cigar absolutely deserves a 95 or 96 score. Definitely on top of the game. This is a cigar for a smoker that appreciates being challenged. Matching it with the right drink is imperative. A bourbon or rye will be a much better choice than wine or a scotch, where the alcohol will vie with the cigar rather than compliment it. I cannot recommend the Casillero Privada highly enough. It really is among the great cigars I have ever had. I have 9 more in the humidor and will be enjoying them over the coming years, seeing how they age and improve over time.

Avelino Lara

Avelino Lara was one of the greats of the cigar industry. Born in 1921, he was the creator of Cohiba and contributed materially to the Davidoff line of cigars. At one point, Lara was the personal roller for Fidel Castro. After retiring in 1996, he moved to Nassau. There he rolled a few cigars for guests at the Graycliff hotel. This did so well that the Graycliff and Lara joined forces to create the Graycliff line of cigars, which are considered by most to be among the finest in the world. As I understand it, the Casillero Privada was the continuation of the original starting point at Graycliff, where Lara was just rolling cigars here and there for guests. After the Graycliff line was started, Lara’s hand-rolled cigars were kept in a private locker, a casillero privada, for the VIP guests.

So, if you want to smoke a cigar that celebrates the heritage and craft of one the greatest cigar makers of all time, this is the one.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

What An Odyssey

That title seemed appropriate, considering that this is the 2001st blog post written on The Liberty Papers. In a way it is also appropriate that I am the one who is writing it.

For those who don’t know me, I’m Eric, the guy who thought it would be pretty cool to create this blog 2 years ago. I would venture to guess that a lot of you that will read this post don’t actually know me. I haven’t actively blogged since May, 2006 when I stopped writing publicly.

In the intervening 18 months (my goodness, it’s been that long already??) I’ve been quite successful in my new position. I’ve even had the opportunity to write and be published in commercial publications, although the writing is all related to my profession rather than politics. You can get an idea of what I’ve been up to with a quick Google search, if you’re interested.

Okay, enough about me. Why the heck am I writing this post if I no longer actively blog? Simple, really. Two years ago today I wrote the first post on The Liberty Papers. When I mentioned that to Brad and the other contributors, and suggested someone write a post about that, Brad asked if I would write it. After giving it some thought, I decided I could.

So, for what it’s worth, here’s something to commemorate two years of The Liberty Papers.

We’ve written 2,000 posts, had over 16,000 comments and more than 650,000 unique visitors in the past 24 months. Our visitors come from all over the world. In the past we’ve had folks visit from China, Saudi Arabia and Iran, among other countries that are not exactly friends of liberty and free speech. Our readers and commenters range from the anonymous to such famous folks as David Friedman and David Duke*. We’ve been linked by any number of famous bloggers, including Glenn Reynolds, Lew Rockwell’s blog and many more than I have time to track down right this second.

Now, that hardly seemed likely during the first few months that this blog existed. The original group of contributors and I had much grander ambitions than we were actually living up to at the time. My personal blog, Eric’s Grumbles Before The Grave, was performing much better than TLP was. Most of the site’s traffic was being driven here by Brad, Doug, Chris and I. We were barely getting 2,000 visitors a month and the comments and external links were few and far between. So, how did we go from there to here? A lot of hard work, to be honest. We write, on average, 3 posts a day. We read, comment and link to other blogs and pay attention to topics that matter to our audience. And that has paid off dramatically.

Today this blog is one of the top listings on Google News for Ron Paul and sometimes Rudy Guliani. It is linked by hundreds of blogs worldwide and draws thousands of readers every day. Discussions in the comment sections often run into hundreds of comments and the range of thought, debate and discussion is very broad.

The range of the contributors is broad as well. From anarchist to limited government, practically all of the ideas that fit within the big tent of libertarianism (the political philosophy, not the political party) are represented here. This blog definitely lives up to what I hoped it might become. And I hope it provides a place for dynamic, dramatic and lively discourse on freedom and liberty for many visitors and participants for many years to come.

Thank you Adam, Brad, Chris, Doug, Jason, Kevin, Mike, Nick, Robert, Simon, Stephen, Tarran and UCrawford for all the work you do to keep this place alive and well. A bit of thanks to them is definitely in order, not one of them receives any compensation other than personal gratification for their work on this blog. Thank you to the many thousands of people who have stopped by and left a comment (or more than one). I can’t wait to write another self-congratulatory post 2 years from now! I can hardly wait.

* Update on 11/23/07. Just to clarify, based on an erroneous conclusion by a commenter, I am not proud to associate with David Duke at all. I do think it highlights the reach and scope of this blog that someone like David Duke will come and comment here. That’s not the same as being proud to associate with him. I would prefer not to have anything to do with him at all.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

So Long, Farewell, Adieu

As mentioned on Eric’s Grumbles a few weeks ago, my time in the blogosphere is coming to an end. Over the past 18 months I’ve had a tremendous experience as an amateur writer and political commentator.

Of everything I’ve done, the thing I’ve enjoyed the most is creating this blog and the Life, Liberty, Property blog community. They’ve been great chances to get to meet a lot of other great bloggers who have similar political and philosophical beliefs. And to interact with those folks and a lot of commenters. Even the commenters who are consistently negative or reflexively opposed to anything that doesn’t fit their ideal were fun and interesting.

Brad will be taking over The Liberty Papers. He’s a great writer and a lot of fun to interact with. I’m sure he’ll keep this going and The Liberty Papers will do well, by whatever definition is important to Brad and the other contributors.

Because of the position I’m moving on to in my professional life, I can’t continue to blog. But I plan to continue reading blogs when I have time. Blogs are, as I’ve said before, the modern pamphlet. And the pamphleteers of an earlier era were instrumental in bringing about the single greatest event to occur in the advancement of liberty and individualism yet. So, don’t despair fellow pamphleteers, keep working at it and you can change the world too.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

May Day Remembrance

Stop by Catallarchy and check out their May Day theme. Like last year, their theme is the massive destruction, loss of life and liberty and slavery of state socialism. A round up of everything on Catallarchy for today is in this post.

Welcome to Catallarchy’s annual Day of Remembrance. Contrary to the promises of ideology, nations whose governments pledged to create a workers’ paradise usually became places of rampant slave labor. The plight of the less fortunate became even less fortunate. Today, we chronicle a small part of their lives.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

The War on Drugs

I’ve never been a proponent of The War on Drugs™. For quite some time, a decade probably, I’ve been actively opposed to The War on Drugs. I’ve long believed that it is horribly corrosive of our individual rights and liberties, destructive to the relationship between the government and the citizens and creates an incredibly powerful, influential and violent set of criminal organizations. To make matters worse, it is not a “war” that can be won. This “war” is as ultimately unwinnable as the war against alcohol, aka Prohibition, was. It is unwinnable because the average citizen recognizes that it is nothing more, or less, than an attempt by do-gooding Mrs. Grundies and power hungry government bureaucrats to legislate what we may, or may not, do with our own bodies. If you want more thoughts along those lines, check out our full War on Drugs category on this blog.

This post is not intended to convince you of the ultimately loss of The War on Drugs™. Nor is it intended to convince that dictating what I may do with my own body is unconscionable if we are possessed of the rights to life, liberty and property. This post is intended to detail just a few, of the many, incredibly destructive events that occur because of this war. The destruction of our rights by agents of the government and the growth of massively powerful and violent criminal drug organizations. And one last thing to point out. Even a government as oppressive, intrusive and anti-liberty as the Soviet Union’s was could not win the Drug War. Keep that in mind as you read this. More government resources won’t help. In fact, given the horrific levels of addiction to alcohol in the old Soviet Union, they will probably make matters worse, not better.

Lest anyone think I’m simply a libertine who wants to get high, think again. It’s quite clear that these drugs are bad things, destructive of mind and body. The problem is, who gets to choose whether I will destroy my mind and body with cocaine? I’m continuously amazed that the same people who believe a woman should be able to choose whether to get an abortion, or not, the same people who believe in a “right to die”, are people who think it should be illegal for me to choose to smoke marijuana. Either my body is my own to do with as I please, or it is not.

By now many of us have heard of Eugene Siler, in Tennessee, but I think many more of us have not. Eugene Siler is part of the dregs of society, no doubt about it. Illiterate, poor, small time drug dealer in the past. Not a particularly nice guy. Although he’s certainly not as bad a person as some of the folks locked up in Guantanamo right now. Why mention that? Well, just keep in mind that Eugene has never tried to blow someone up because of their skin color, nationality or religion. Nor has he conspired with others to do anything like that. Or taken up arms against the US directly. Or any of the other things folks in Guantanamo have done. Yet, 5 employees of Tennessee law enforcement agencies, including 3 sworn police officers tortured and beat him for hours. They attempted to force him to sign a voluntary consent to search and seizure of his property. They hit him with their fists and guns. They threatened to use electric torture on his genitals. They threatened his wife and children. They abused him so badly that he was reduced to tears, begging them to stop. They tortured him far worse than any inmate at Guantanamo.

Think this might be made up? Fortunately for Eugene, his wife hid a tape recorder in the house and captured it all on tape for the permanent record. Want to see how your law enforcement deals with people they are involved with the drug trade? Read this transcript of Eugene Siler’s ordeal. Then compare it to Guantanamo. Which one should outrage you more?

Think this is just a fluke? You obviously didn’t hear about Cory Maye. Cory was sentenced to be executed after shooting a police officer who executed a no knock warrant of his home as part of a drug raid. Cory was not suspected of having anything to do with drugs, had no drugs in his possession and his sole crime was defending his home after someone broke in without identifying themselves. You might expect, considering those circumstances, that there would be no sentence, or a light one, not the death penalty.

That’s not enough? How about the violence that is a daily part of life in Mexico because of the power that we provide to drug cartels. If you happen to have a subscription to The Wall Street Journal, read this editorial. If not, here’s a few details for you from the recent past.

The problem is particularly acute for America’s southern neighbor. Drug violence is spiraling throughout Mexico and innocents are paying the ultimate price. One target city is Nuevo Laredo where eight months ago Mexican federal authorities arrived to quell unprecedented cartel violence. Today the murder rate is up; the Mexican general who was in charge of restoring order has gone missing; the news media has suffered atrocious assaults, including a grenade attack; and there is concern that the government’s anti-drug units have been infiltrated.

Last month four federal intelligence officers were gunned down in the middle of the day near a school. That’s about the same time some 600 federal police were sent to the city as reinforcements.

The rest of Mexico is under siege as well. In February the police chief of an upscale district of Monterrey was gunned down. An April 21 report in the Los Angeles Times captured the attitude of the drug lords: “‘So that you learn to respect,’ read a message scrawled on a red sheet attached to a Guerrero state government building in Acapulco, where passers-by in the early morning hours discovered the heads of former Police Commander Mario Nunez Magana, 35, of the Municipal Preventive Police, and another man, who was not identified.”

And just how do you expect Mexicans to build their own country to the point where illegal immigration to the US is no longer the best option for the average Mexican when their country is overrun with this sort of violence. The reality is that many Latin American countries are at the mercy of drug cartels, including Mexico. Political observers expect drug cartels to have enough money and influence to be a force in the upcoming Mexican elections.

If all of this doesn’t sound like something out of 1920’s Prohibition to you, it should. And this is precisely why we ended Prohibition. It never stopped anyone from drinking. It simply made them into criminals. And provided the Mafia with obscene amounts of money. And law enforcement with obscene amounts of power and corruption.

80 years ago, Ludwig von Mises wrote in Liberalism:

It is an established fact that alcoholism, cocainism, and morphinism are deadly enemies of life, of health, and of the capacity for work and enjoyment; and a utilitarian must therefore consider them as vices. But this is far from demonstrating that the authorities must interpose to suppress these vices by commercial prohibitions, nor is it by any means evident that such intervention on the part of the government is really capable of suppressing them or that, even if this end could be attained, it might not therewith open up a Pandora’s box of other dangers, no less mischievous than alcoholism and morphinism.

The intervening years of Prohibition, first against alcohol, and then against every drug we don’t like except alcohol, have proved Mises right beyond his most pessimistic. The Supreme Court has ruled that police officers may use drug sniffing dogs to check your car after stopping you for speeding, with no reason to believe that you have drugs in your car. Special task forces to “combat drugs” have been set up that lead to corruption and degradation of our law enforcement officers. The story from Tennessee involved police officers assigned to such a task force. It has led to the seizure and sale of private property by the state even when there is no conviction for any criminal activity. Such seizure is a civil action, not a criminal action. It has led to the death sentence for a man who was only defending his home against unknown intruders in the middle of the night. The War on Drugs has completely corrupted our neighboring nation to the South. It has led to the creation of a Federal law enforcement agency which has only one mission, to fight the Drug War. Prohibition creates so much power and money that terrorist organizations have become involved in the drug trade. It has led to gun battles on the streets of our cities.

And every additional dollar spent on fighting drugs has done nothing to stop the violence and the corruption. In fact, although violent crime per capita has dropped considerably in this country, it has increased in the inner cities where drugs and drug gangs fight their battles for turf and profits. The use of drugs and alcohol has increased, not decreased. The import and sale of drugs to this country has increased ten fold since the 1950’s. Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, Guatemala, Panama and Colombia are virtually dominated by drug cartels.

This is a war we cannot win. Worse, it is a war we should not fight.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball
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