Podcast 205: Scotches for Newbies; Free-Bet Blackjack; Cuban Cigars After the Thaw

Podcast 205, 1/18/15 … What Scotches should you present to a newbie? Jason and Tony share their experiences, then taste-test the best low-cost Speyside, Highland and Islay single malts sold by our favorite local purveyor of fine spirits. We specially mention the Bowmore finished in a bourbon cask, thanks to our pal Rishi’s advice! After that extended segment, Tony shares a blackjack variation (Free Bet) and the Czars of Cigars riff a while on what the partial Cuban thaw means for the domestic cigar market.

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10 thoughts on “Podcast 205: Scotches for Newbies; Free-Bet Blackjack; Cuban Cigars After the Thaw

  1. Mike Reply

    I haven’t visited it recently, but a couple years ago, some tables at the Monte Carlo had the phrase “Surrender available” in small print below the table’s minimum/maximum bet card.

    I think I saw the same at MGM at least once.

    • Jason Gillikin Reply

      Really? Wow. I can’t ever remember seeing a Surrender table, but I suppose there are a few of them around.

      • Mike Reply

        Yep, that’s why I was so surprised. The minimum may have been $10 or $25. It certainly was not in the high-limit salon.

  2. Mike Reply

    FYI, the Cuban government doesn’t run Casa del Habanos — it franchises them. I know the owner of the Casa on Ouelette in Windsor. Also, the prices you saw in Windsor reflect super-high Canadian taxes. Prices in Cuba are much less, and depending on what you buy, $100 US could be a couple boxes purchased in a Havana tourist district (Cigar Aficionado had a good article on prices at licensed stores in Havana).

    • Jason Gillikin Reply

      Fair point, re: Taxes. I do like that store on Ouelette — charming ambiance.

      I don’t think I knew Casa del Habanos franchsed, though — I thought it was a Cuban gov’t thing, so thanks for the clarification.

  3. Mike Reply

    As for the policy change from the Obama administration, meh. All this does for cigars is return the official policy to what it was before Bush tightened it in 2004 or so. The media made it seem like it was a sea change.

    Other parts of the re-establishment of diplomatic relations are a much bigger deal (easier to secure travel visas, credit card use, etc.). But Congress shows no interest in lifting the embargo (Cuban American dems are opposed to lifting it as well).

    The other issue is since the embargo, US cigar companies have established trademarks on brands that used to be Cuban, such as Partagas, Cohiba, Hoyo de Monterrey. etc. The Cuban govt nationalized the cigar brands after the revolution, taking them away from the families that owned them for decades. That issue would have too be worked out before you see any Cubans legally imported.

    I have read in several places (including Cigar Aficionado) that it is a myth that the higher-quality cigars go to Europe. Cubans quality is inconsistent, but all Casa del Habanos and established tobacconists get the same quality product.

    • Jason Gillikin Reply

      Why do you think the myth of A/B/C cigars persists?
      I don’t, personally, believe that Canadian stock is inherently worse than European stock. I had an interesting experience with so-so Canadian cigars and superlative European ones, but I wouldn’t necessarily attribute it to a tiering system.

      • Mike Reply

        Not sure but perhaps that was a practice at one time. It’s true that the oldest, most established tobacconists in places such as London get first dibs on hard-to-find sticks, but I really doubt they would send “the good stuff” to London and leave the lesser cigars for Casa del Habanos in Montreal. That would damage the brand even more than it already has been.

        I have been to a 300-year-old tobacco shop in London that had some amazing sticks. You won’t see that in Toronto or Tijuana.

        • Jason Gillikin Reply

          Wow. That shop must have been heavenly. I’d LOVE the chance to browse a place like that.

          • Mike

            I think it was James J. Fox. Anyway, it was Winston Churchill’s preferred tobacconist. They have a whole room full of his stuff — the chair he used to sit and smoke in on occasion, even one of his cigar butts.

            I met a couple of friendly English smokers at the shop. One was a lt. in the British Army and visits the US yearly for training exercises. He was obsessed with Jerry Springer, for some reason.

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