Cubans

Published on July 11th, 2017 | by Moe Greene

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A Hamlet Monster DC/Holgate ‘Gate Series’ Double Trouble 2015 Series/Mount Pleasant ‘High Paddock’ Shiraz 2014

Ever had a situation where, through the blind and near unforgivable stupidity of a mate, you’ve lost 150 bottles of Romanee-Conti? Or 150 Picasso sketches? And worse, you picked these treasures up for a mere fraction of their true value?

You may still have a few Romanee-Conti in the cellar or Picassos on the wall, but I am not certain if that is simply a horrible reminder of what could have been or a cause for joy that all was not lost.

For me, that lost treasure was 150 of Hamlet’s finest. I’m sure some of you have heard the tragic tale before. On one of our trips to that fabled Island, our good mate, Hamlet Paredes had very kindly rolled 150 of his gems for us – best you do not know the price but suffice to say, after we had settled up with him, we all then paid well over the odds, simply to assuage guilty consciences for the daylight robbery it would otherwise have been. In fairness, the 150 were split between five of us.

After a few days in Havana, we headed down to the glorious Las Salinas for the annual bonefishing extravaganza. A wonderful time had by all, as they say in the classics.

Back in Havana, one of us asked the gatekeeper – as fake names are needed to protect the innocent, let’s call him Macho, for that is his real name and he was anything but innocent – where was the stash (like we could keep our hands off them till we got home)? This was the same man who, on an earlier trip, had left a bottle of Yquem in his guide’s esky. This time, despite all his protestations of innocence, he had left our prized Hamlets in a bungalow, many miles away. Lost forever. Presumably, the cleaning lady took them home for hubby.

Every time I have one of my ever-diminishing stock of Hamlets, I am reminded of this. And when a cigar is so utterly perfect as the one this afternoon, it hurts even more.

Yes, a massive Hamlet DC, making your average DC look like Woody Allen standing next to 007, and yet, impossible to imagine a cigar in more perfect balance. Not overwhelming at all. Rich and complex, spices, tobacco leaf, warm earth, leather, quickly moving to hints of cinnamon with a lovely sweet core. ‘Nuns run bald through Vatican halls pleading immaculate construction’, indeed – with apologies to the Boss. This cigar needed nothing else. Two and a half hours of bliss. I was down near the beach, reading a book, while I smoked it and a young woman walked past, about 20 metres away. She yelled out something and I thought ‘here we go’. She realised I had not heard, so yelled again and this time I got it. “That cigar smells absolutely glorious”. She was not wrong.

So, for a match? I tried two options – a great rum would have been the go, I suspect, but I had none.

The red. Mount Pleasant ‘High Paddock’ Shiraz 2014. A Hunter staple. Anyone not sure about McWilliam’s or Mount Pleasant these days is missing out. They brought in Jim Chatto as chief winemaker and there are few better on this continent. So, top vineyards, excellent maker and the best vintage in 50 years. Cloves, black olives, dark chocolate, leather and warm earth (which made me think we might be onto something here) and all manner of spices. Gorgeous softness, balance and length. A wine with a great future but pretty special now.

As a match? Same old red wine problems. As soft as the tannins are, it still made everything grippy. Don’t miss the wine but not with a cigar.

The ale? Holgate ‘Gate Series’ Double Trouble 2015 Series. We have seen this Belgian style Dubbel Abbey Ale, a whopping 8%, before and it has done well with a number of cigars. Dark, rich, a nice core of sweetness. A far better match. They meld well.

I just hope the bastard who has my 150 Hamlets (all right, 30) had a few bottles to go with it, but I’m guessing they settled for some good Cuban rum. And who could blame them?

 

KBG

A Hamlet Monster DC/Holgate ‘Gate Series’ Double Trouble 2015 Series/Mount Pleasant ‘High Paddock’ Shiraz 2014 Moe Greene

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