Lounge Lizards - a Cigar and Lifestyle Podcast

Recorded at Ten86 Lounge in Hawthorne, New Jersey the lizards pair the Juan López Selección No. 2 with Dartigalongue Bas Armagnac XO. The guys journey into a new type of spirit, they debate the merits of Cuban regional and limited editions, and they discuss Chinese and Russian relations with Cuba.

Join the Lounge Lizards for a weekly discussion on all things cigars (both Cuban and non-Cuban), whiskey, food, travel, life and work. This is your formal invitation to join us in a relaxed discussion amongst friends and become a card-carrying Lounge Lizard yourself. This is not your typical cigar podcast. We’re a group of friends who love sharing cigars, whiskey and a good laugh.

website/merch/rating archive: loungelizardspod.com
email: hello@loungelizardspod.com to join the conversation and be featured on an upcoming episode!
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What is Lounge Lizards - a Cigar and Lifestyle Podcast?

Released every Tuesday, the LOUNGE LIZARDS podcast helps listeners navigate the experience of finding and enjoying premium cigars (both Cuban and non-Cuban) and quality spirits. Episodes range from 60 to 90 minutes and feature a variety of different topics including food, travel, life, sports and work.

The podcast features seven members: Rooster, Poobah, Gizmo, Senator, Pagoda, Grinder and Bam Bam.​

This is not your typical cigar podcast. We’re a group of friends who love sharing cigars, whiskey and a good laugh.

Join us and become a card-carrying lounge lizard yourself! Email us at hello@loungelizardspod.com to join the conversation and be featured on an upcoming episode!

**Gizmo:** [00:00:00] Welcome to the Lounge Lizards podcast. It's so good to have you here. It's a leisure and lifestyle podcast founded on our love of premium cigars, as well as whiskey, travel, food, work, and whatever else we feel like getting into. My name is Gizmo. Tonight I'm joined by Roosters, Senator Pagoda, and bam bam.

And our plan is to smoke a cigar, drink some almanac, talk about life, and of course, have some laughs. So take this as your 92nd official invitation to join us and become a card carrying lounge lizard. Plan to meet us here once a week. We're gonna smoke a cubit cigar tonight, share our thoughts on it, and give you our formal lizard rating.

We journey in into a new type of spirit. Tonight we debate the merits of Cuban regional and limited editions, and we discuss Chinese and Russian relations with Cuba, all among a variety of other things for the next 90 minutes. So sit back, get your favorite drink, light up a cigar, and enjoy as we pair Darti boss Armac vs o p with the Juan Lopez Seleccion number two.

A rib robusto tonight from Cuba on the [00:01:00] pod. It's the Juan Lopez Seleccion number two. It's a beautiful cigar. Yeah. Bam, bam. Love the cigar. Has been sniffing the foot for quite some time now. The wraps unbelievable. Yeah, it smells so good. Looks really nice.

**Bam Bam:** J L one, j l two are like brother and sister.

**Gizmo:** Yes.

For me. Yeah. That's the only two remaining from the classic line. Um, and then they added another cigar recently, which we could talk about in a little bit. But, um, yeah, it's just, it's really just the j l one and the j l two as far as it's unbelievable. Regular production stuff from them, which is sad, but kind of a story that we keep going back to every time we do one of these like tertiary, you know, non-global brands.

It's, it's an ignored market that has been cut down to only a few cigars. You know, it's unfortunate only, only two.

**Senator:** Only two. I have the unpopular opinion in the room. I'm not that sad about

**Bam Bam:** it. No, we know. We know, we know.

**Gizmo:** All right, boys, let's cut this thing. See, we're getting on the cold draw on the wrapper

**Bam Bam:** rooster, and I love the cigar.

I do. [00:02:00] And the jail one. Even worn. I love the

**Gizmo:** one, love the two. So this is a classic RAB robusto size. A little shorter, I think. Actually. It's 50 ring gauge by four and seven eighths inches. 2018. 2018 box from Rooster Tonight. It's five-year-old cigar. Beautiful.


**Senator:** probably the youngest box Rooster has in his tower.


**Gizmo:** true. Wow. That cold draw it's nice. Is incredible. Mm-hmm. That is special.

**Bam Bam:** Yeah. I get a little hint of dried

**Gizmo:** fruit. It tastes like a, I've called this out. I don't remember what cigar. It's like a fig Newton. Yeah, that's, it kind of tastes like a, like a Doy. I think that's spot on. Figgy type thing. Right.

Spot on. Wow. Hm.

A little bit of wood, little bit of coffee, but mm-hmm. Mainly, uh, mainly the fig. All right. Let's light this thing boys. The Juan Lopez ion number two in Cuba, again, it's a rib robusto. It's 50 ring gauge by four and seven eighths inches. One of the two [00:03:00] remaining cigars from their classic line in regular production.

And they have a third and L C D H release, which I believe comes in a fancy box of 25 cigars. It's called the Ion esp. Mm-hmm. It's a double robusto 52 ring gauge by, uh, six and three quarters, which is a pretty big cigar. Yeah. But it's one of those things where, to me it's like, I don't know, it's the same tobacco leaves.

Different blend, but you're paying for that packaging, you know? So

**Bam Bam:** back in time, did they have more of a

**Gizmo:** tolu? They did. Bam. Uh, they actually canceled quite a few. I can go through them. It's a travesty actually, you know?

**Bam Bam:** Yeah. As the smoke is blowing off this, it smells great.

**Senator:** Yeah. I gotta say it's actually very good on the light.

Yeah. Yeah. It took a while to light this, right? I don't know if it's like densely packed or what, but

**Gizmo:** surprised I, it's actually funny as I was looking at the box, so Rooster brought a, uh, 25 cab, uh, of these tonight, and I was looking at the box. Uh, they seemed more densely packed in the foot than I would expect from like a D [00:04:00] four or a RAs or an EPI two.

Uh, but the, the draw is perfect. It is, it is. So I think there might be a little bit more tobacco in there, but they're rolled well. So you, you know, there's still room for the air to go. You get

**Bam Bam:** that beautiful pungent flavor profile and a light just so good.

**Rooster:** The aroma coming

**Gizmo:** out of the foot. It's ridiculous.

Incredible. Oh, this is a really nice cigar. I've never had draw issues on a jail cigar. Ever. Ever. Same? Yeah. Never, ever. Very consistent. I've had some draw issues on the jail. One, which is a Corona Gorda, which is the same size, very similar to the, uh, mag 46. And I think it's just the nature of that smaller ring gauge, longer cigar.

They pack a lot in there, and I've had some draw issues on selection. Do you like the cigar when it's like wide open? No, I like re resistance. Yeah. I like a little, but I don't wanna fight it. Yeah. I don't need an hourlong

**Senator:** fight. Yeah. I want just a little resistance though. Not, not a lot.

**Gizmo:** Agreed. Yep. Agreed.

So what are you guys getting on this so far?

**Bam Bam:** You know, a tiny bit of barnyard pungent.

**Gizmo:** It's like an earthy, earthy soil. Like almost, [00:05:00] not Petco.

**Rooster:** No, no,

**Gizmo:** but kind of like, like earthy tobacco.

**Senator:** Um, I get the same earthy notes. Yeah.

**Gizmo:** It's funny. I wish there was more fig. Yeah. You know, I wish there was more fig Newton on the light.

It dissipates, right? I don't Yeah, it's, it's, it's not really there. Like it was in the, in

**Bam Bam:** the Coldwell. Oh, smell. The foot line. The The burn line. Yeah, the burn line smells amazing. You get a little fruity note there, I think.

**Senator:** Yeah. Yeah. It's weird. The burn line smells very different than it tastes. Yeah,

**Gizmo:** it's strange.

They're a little disconnected.

**Bam Bam:** Yeah.

**Senator:** Yeah. Which I like what you're tasting the flavors like very earth driven, but the, the nose, it smells like fruity and even a little floral. Yeah.

**Pagoda:** I shouldn't even say this because when I smelled the foot, I don't know how I get, like I got a little bit of the cocoa milk chocolate kind of a smell, so I was expecting something completely different and it's now I'm finding it like slightly peppery, which is totally off.

So I'm like, I

**Rooster:** don't know. Something's off with the pallet. That was the yuhoo that you had for lunch today. I love that. [00:06:00]

**Gizmo:** Remember Yuhoo? Do they still make that? Yeah. Is that still around's the glass bottle, right? Yeah. I

**Pagoda:** used to have the quick, I

**Bam Bam:** think Nestle Quick. Nest quick. Yeah. I loved Yuhoo. Really? When I was a kid.

Oh, I lived on it. Really? Get on the bike, go to the corner Deli. Two yahoos, please,


**Senator:** weekend.

**Gizmo:** So we, we mentioned, again, this is alongside two other cigars in regular production right now. Uh, the selection number one, which we did on episode 15, many, many moons ago, was the Corona Gorda 50, uh, 46, excuse me, by five. And, uh, and five eighths inches. This one is the selection number two, the Ribo, and they also have the Sion esp, uh, which is a, they call it a Fortuna.

That's the factory name. It's a double ribo. 52 reengage by six and three quarters to answer your question, bam. Um, they canceled. I, you know, must have been six to eight different regular production cigars that were all handmade. Uh, [00:07:00] most recently they canceled the petite Corona, which I kind of wish they still had.

Yeah, because I like this flavor profile in Me Too. Petit Corona, they canceled that a little, uh, like nine years ago. In 2014, they canceled the Corona and a small Panatella, uh, in 2006 and Oh, interesting. Wow. Another petite Corona, which I understand why they did that in 2002, but, you know, I. The brand has an interesting history.

I didn't know how long this brand had existed. It was founded in 1870 by Juan Lopez Diaz, uh, in Havana. And what's interesting is for how long this brand has lived and, and has been around and has been successful mm-hmm. There's really not a ton of interesting history about it. Wow. Other than the time. Mm.

Uh, it was, like I said, founded in 1870. He died in 1900. Uh, the brand was sold to an independent cigar company called Cosme Del Peso Isea. Uh, and they owned the company until the Revolution. Obviously, we know what happened then, but it was one of the top selling brands until the [00:08:00] 1980s. How interesting.

Specifically the late 1980s. Uh, I think that's probably when Cohiba Parus some of the other brands, really took hold. Yep. And, and this, this brand was kind of pushed down.

**Bam Bam:** You know, catalog is just so full of so many different markets. You have to expect some, you know, Dissipation. Yeah.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. So what's interesting is to, to chase, uh, you know, maybe cohiba, especially with the success of the Rab Robusto in the late eighties, early nineties, the Sion, number one and number two were both released in the early 1990s.

So this is a cigar that really hasn't been around terribly long. Right. Uh, and then that was all they had for quite, quite a bit of time.

**Bam Bam:** Yeah. Honestly, the, you can't go wrong with a j l one or two at any time. I've never had a draw issue. Quality was fantastic. The burn line can be uneven from time to time on

**Gizmo:** both cigars.

I noticed that on every vintage, on every cigar. Yeah. Yeah. But something with the blend, something

**Bam Bam:** about it, I just enjoy it. Yeah. Just enjoy these two cigars more than one and a [00:09:00] two for me. You like

**Gizmo:** the one more? Yeah. For me.

**Rooster:** Yeah. Yeah. And with a little bit of, uh, not a little bit,

**Gizmo:** but

**Rooster:** maybe like age years, eight to 10

**Bam Bam:** years of age.

Oh, sure. Jesus.

**Gizmo:** God. Just for the listener. That's a little bit of age, I'm just saying. Yeah.

**Senator:** But I will say that is the reason I made the comment when we started, I'm, I may be the outlier in the group. The only thing that frustrates me with Juan Lopez is I remember Rooster gave me my first one that was young and I really didn't enjoy it.

And then we reviewed one with some age, the jail one, and that was dramatically, dramatically better. So for me it just is a little frustrating that. Even the jail one we had with age, it was very good, but to me it's not like a top, top tier cigar. So I don't have the patience to wait, because I don't think it could ever compete with like an HD four or an Agera or something like that.

So that's, um, that's kind of what's hard for me with this,

**Gizmo:** you know, similar to the EPI two though, which right now I think is on a really good run. They're like the really recent stuff. Yeah. [00:10:00] I have some two years and younger. Yeah. And I exactly. I have some jail ones that I think for being 20, 21, late 20, maybe they are.

Um, they're smoking brilliantly. Mm-hmm. I would argue better than the age one we had on the podcast. Probably on episode 15. Yeah. I don't remember how old that was, but I think it was 19 four years old

**Bam Bam:** maybe. Yeah. I just finished off a box of nineteens. Yeah. I have one left actually. I, every cigar I just savored and it's a good alternative if I want to, if I don't want a D four or Ara.

**Gizmo:** Yeah, it's a good, it's a good like offshoot, honestly it is. Same for me with the jail one. If I'm not wanting a Magnum 46, if I, if I wanna change the profile a little bit, I'll go to the jail one. Oh totally, dude. You know, cuz it's the same size, same, same kind of smoke time. Yeah. Yep. Little different experience.

Yeah. So these only come in two different kinds of packaging, both cigars, the one and the two come in. Slide lid boxes of 25 cigars. You don't see them a lot, but they do come in slide lid boxes of 50 cigars. Really? So it's an identical [00:11:00] packaging situation to the epicure. Number two from Hoyo, only 20 fives and fifties.

I want the 50. I know. I would like a jail. One 50 tab in 50. Oh dude,

**Rooster:** please. And they're not that crazy like Pricewise.

**Gizmo:** No, they're very, they're well, they're relatively

**Rooster:** speaking. Yeah. I mean, they've gone up. But yeah, I would say about 20, $20

**Gizmo:** a piece.

**Bam Bam:** Mm-hmm. That's very reasonable for the cigar. Yeah. Yeah.

Especially the jail one. That was a good save, by the way. What's that?

**Pagoda:** Reasonable for the cigar? It is, it's true. It's, they're no badly priced. They're like 20, 30 bucks. It's not a big deal.

**Gizmo:** So, yeah, the, uh, axion especially, which we mentioned is a La Casa de Hino release from this brand comes in a ridiculous varnished, uh, luxury Boyd nature box, which again, you're just paying for the packaging on that.

You know, it's the same tobacco leaves. Like, I just can't get into the packaging stuff. Gimme the one

**Bam Bam:** and two. I'm good.

**Gizmo:** Yeah, exactly. [00:12:00] So we're about a quarter of an inch in, in here, boys. Anything different than on the light for you flavor-wise? I think mine's starting to settle down a little bit, even out.

I'm curious what you're thinking, Senator. You don't seem, uh, thrilled. Um,

**Senator:** no, I'm not, I'm not unhappy with the smoke. The, the thing I don't love about the flavor profile is, um, how woody and earthy it is. Mm-hmm. It's a little more dominant than I would like it to be, so I've just been sipping what we're pairing with this, which has some sweeter notes that's helping kind of That's true.

Balance this better for my palette. Very true.

**Bam Bam:** I, I don't disagree

**Gizmo:** with that.

**Rooster:** Yeah. I mean, it is, it is an earthy smoke. It is Woody. It's earthy.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. Well,

**Bam Bam:** I feel like the j l one is a bit fruitier, um, a bit salty, too different than this guy.

**Gizmo:** So the woody flavors is like, that's classic Juan Lopez flavor profile.

That's certainly what they're going for. And I think that the people that chase these, which doesn't seem like there's many, I think it's more of a connoisseur type stick. You know, I, I wood is definitely in the, I mean, [00:13:00] I smoke the

**Rooster:** profile between the one and the two, at least like one of these, like a week or every, oh, maybe

**Gizmo:** like every other week.

**Bam Bam:** Yeah. Like I was reaching for a jail one once every two weeks or so. Yeah, yeah. Consistently.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. Yeah. What would you say this, would you say this is a mild cigar, medium cigar? Where would you place it? Um, I think more on the medium

**Rooster:** side, I think. Yeah, not mild. I

**Gizmo:** agree with

**Senator:** that. Firmly medium, right? I think

**Bam Bam:** medium,

**Pagoda:** I don't know, but verbally, I think mild to medium of,

**Gizmo:** yeah, I'm kind of in between mild to medium.

It's, I don't think there's much, you know, there's not a lot of oomph there. I think this would be fine in the morning. You know, with a cup of coffee.

**Senator:** The reason I say medium, I just think anything that's like earthy and woody, it's hard to be, unless it's very lightly delivering those flavor notes for me, it's hard for that to be mild.

Like agree. That's a pretty robust flavor. Like in the morning I would, I would not expect in the morning, I like something that's a little sweeter fruitier. A little creamier fruitier, right?

**Gizmo:** Yeah, I agree with that. I think this is a very pleasant [00:14:00] smoke. I love the jail too. Yeah. I, I think I prefer the jail one.

I do too. But we'll see how this develops. I haven't had a lot of these, you know, I just don't reach for a lot of REOs and when I do, it's always D four and ra. That's where I'm going. You, that's a what? That's

**Bam Bam:** very odd. I don'ts

**Senator:** for a lot of REOs that the most

**Gizmo:** popular size we saw. How often do you see me pull out a rib robusto?

It's not very often. You smoke RAs. RAs and D four and D four? I

**Senator:** have, I

**Bam Bam:** haven't seen him with either in a while. I will say that.

**Gizmo:** Aba, Rab, Robusto. No, I don't even, I don't even pull those up. No. I haven't seen

**Bam Bam:** you with, with a RAs had, or not really. I

**Gizmo:** haven't D four. I've been smoking a lot of landeros. I guess.

You know, we all smoke a lot of robusto. Yeah. You, you just

**Senator:** sent us a coro. You smoked the other night? We do. Within the last week or two. I want one of those. Dammit.

**Bam Bam:** I do. I am dying. I'm get in line. I'm

**Gizmo:** dying for one of those. Shop is closed. Okay. So what do you, what's your favorite [00:15:00] size? Landro for sure.

Dale Ro. That's lately, that's like for the last year. No, but that's been, that's really last year. It's a loaded question. I mean, Lancer, I really love a Corona. I Mag 46 probably, you know, smoke a lot of those. Yeah. You like Mag 46? I love Monty Twos. Mm-hmm. I love P twos. I think, I think BU does for me. I don't reach for them as much as you guys do.

I just don't, especially a Cuban. I, I,

**Rooster:** I like robos. I think it's a great size. I prefer Rob Robusto over a pyramid any day.

**Senator:** I think, um, I think I'm with Rooster. I, I think robos my favorite size in that. It feels great in the hand and it, it slots in almost any occasion. You can predict, like, you can predict an investment of time, that's the thing.

Yeah. It's likeactually a amount of time. Yeah. If I have a lot of time, it's satisfying. If I actually have not as much time as I'd like, I can usually smoke it fast enough that I can get in a robusto, a pyramid. I need a bit more of a time investment. So it's hard when I'm in a bit of a pinch. Um, and the same goes for a lot [00:16:00] of other sizes.

I mean, I love a Churchill, but obviously that's an investment. You really need the time for that. So I, I think rib robusto is, is probably my favorite, uh, favorite size.

**Pagoda:** It's funny because I don't think of the size, but if you really think about the cigar smoke, they're all ribos. It's either the dfo, the RAs, the Dominican, even in the later smoke, a lot of, uh, ribos

**Gizmo:** and, and Pedro patron sis.

And that's probably the, if you know, I don't think of that as a, I almost think of that more as like a Corona because of the box press whatnot. But that's a Rab Robusto. It is. So that's the one that I smoke a lot of. So you do smoke a lot of BUAs. I smoke a lot of no new world STOs. Right. Putting Cubans

**Bam Bam:** still.


**Gizmo:** this is a Cuban episode. Boys

listeners can disregard those comments. No, I, you know, I, I, I, I'm always going for a lan, a Corona Gorda, or a, a pyramid. Yep. As far as Cubans go, that's generally where I love the aroma from this. It's

**Rooster:** [00:17:00] great, you know, from the foot. I just love that.

**Senator:** I mean, to Rooster point, it, if the, if the actual flavor when you draw the cigar were what you get on the nose at the burn line, I would be really happy with this.

I actually love how this smells. I just, the taste is different, honestly. But I

**Rooster:** always get. The aroma out of the foot is always better to me

**Gizmo:** than what I'm getting

**Bam Bam:** in the mouth. Yeah, and that's your mo from every, in, every, almost every met cigar met. That's been the way you, right. Yeah. Look at your cigars. I don't know if I, I, but I have to say something.

Go ahead. Honestly, if you retro hail the cigar, you do capture what you're smelling on that foot. No doubt about it. For me.

**Gizmo:** See, for me, when like, I'm always you, I mean, you guys always see me, I'm always, you know, sniffing the burn line. Yeah. I started doing that because of you. I don't think that it, I don't think that I would say most of the time, unlike what you just said, rooster, I don't think that, most of the time I prefer it.

Most of the time it, it enhances or it really like, that's where I was going. It's true. It like collaborates with the draw. Yeah. The [00:18:00] flavor of the draw. I do think there's a disconnect here between the flavor of the draw and the aroma at the burn line. Yeah. Because

**Senator:** just to build on that, for, for me, when, when I'm smelling the cigar at the burn line as I'm smoking it, it's usually enhancing a certain flavor note that I'm already getting.

Mm-hmm. As I'm drawing and puffing on the cigar. Where for this, what I'm smelling at the burn line and what I'm getting when I'm drawing it are just totally different. It's not enhancing the earthy woody notes. It's like Right. Flavors. I wish I was getting on the draw that I'm just not getting, but

**Bam Bam:** I will say what bridges that is the retro hale.

You have to try that.

**Gizmo:** I think the retro hail is really nice. It's very nice. It's got, got a little pepper too. Yeah. It gets a little spicy through the nose for me. No, not for me.

**Bam Bam:** I'm, it's for me. I captured the fruit note in this thing.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. I, I'm getting a little spice on the retro. Hmm. Like a, not a bad spice.

White. White pepper. Like a white pepper. Pepper. Like a white pepper. Yeah.

**Bam Bam:** You guys are sensitive.

**Gizmo:** So Senator, you mentioned our pairing tonight. You were sipping it. I haven't tried it yet. Oh God. Here we go. [00:19:00] It's the, uh, what's it called? Giz.

**Senator:** You've got the bottle right in front

**Gizmo:** of you. It's called the,

**Bam Bam:** I can't, I'm sorry. I can't help it.

**Gizmo:** It's called, I don't want to do this. Senator, you pronounce we can we just get some, make an attempt please. Can we get some American simple stuff, please. It's called the boss Arman. Armac. Armac. Armac Boss. Armac. I

**Senator:** thought the first letter was a d where you

**Gizmo:** boss. It's no b a s Armac.

And the the people who make it, oh God, it's, you can do It's the darti Dar darti. What? Dar darti. Longe. It sounded like

**Bam Bam:** a dark

**Gizmo:** darti longe family.

**Bam Bam:** I'm not gonna make this up. Okay. Finishes. You're gonna have to cart me outta here.

**Gizmo:** Oh, Jesus. It's, it's since 1838. The Darti Longy family. Hold on. Can we on,

**Senator:** tell me how you pronounce that. Hold on. Let, let's see what Google says. Hold on.[00:20:00]

Hold on. Darti long. Darti long. I wasn't that far off. I added one. Sy Well, you said longy.

**Gizmo:** Darti long. Darti long, okay. They're the family that produces this for, uh, going on almost 200 years. So what is this? This is an exo cognac?

**Senator:** No, uh, an

**Gizmo:** armac. Yeah, it's an armac. Oh, I don't even know what that is. What is an armac?

He's gonna explain to you? Right? So,

**Senator:** This has been fun because obviously I was very bullish on us going down the cognac journey that we have, but I don't know anything about Armac, so this was fun. Bam. Had recommended this bottle cuz he tried it recently. I did. And um, I was just trying to make sure I understood kind of how these all fit in the world of, um, brandy's, which is essentially what is common among cognac, armac, and really anything like it.

So, um, The umbrella term for all these things Brandy? Brandy is basically any sort of fermented fruit. Juice is a brandy. And [00:21:00] then if it is made in the cognac region in France, it's a cognac. Oh. If it's made in the armac region, then it's an armac.

**Gizmo:** Oh, interesting. So it's the same stuff. It's just made in a different place.

**Senator:** Yeah. Not just that. So then there are some other differences too. Oh. That's kind of the first tell where it's made would define that. But there's also a bunch of different things that, uh, influence how it's made that distinguish a cognac versus an armac. So a cognac is usually made from one type of grape.

And I mentioned this on one of our cognac episodes. It's this uni blanc white grape. Yep. Mm. Armac is also made with uni blanc, but there are three other white grapes that they traditionally make it with as well. So it's usually a blend of four different grapes. Interesting. Not just one. That's interesting.

So that's kinda the second key distinction. The third is the aging process. So cognac to my surprise, is actually generally skews younger. So I think we talked about the VS. V S O P and XO being I think two, four and [00:22:00] maybe six or eight years with an armac what we're drinking, which is fairly accessible in their line.

It kind of starts at 10 years age. Oh wow. Wow. So that's also a big difference. And then lastly, the taste that you get in each of them. Cognac is meant to be and, and actually what corresponds as well. What's the alcohol content on there? I want to, before I say this, make sure that this holds true here.

**Gizmo:** 40%.

Hmm. 40, 40,

**Senator:** 40 year old. Interesting. Okay.

**Gizmo:** Wow. So that was clear as day. I could read that. No problem.

**Senator:** So cognac tends to be more subtle in kind of the flavor notes and especially the delivery. We'd all talked about how smooth cognac is. We drink 90% of them Neat. Uh, armac is more complex and more robust. It drinks more whiskey like Yeah.

Um, most of the time. So just diff different styles that bring out different things, but they're all part of the same family and that they're brandys, they're all from fermented

**Bam Bam:** Right. Fruit. [00:23:00] I find this to be quite tasty.

**Gizmo:** It's really good. Yeah. I like it. I find it interesting too, based on what you just said, Senator, that it doesn't have a distinct age, age statement.

It says aged more than 10 years in oak cask.

**Senator:** Well, that's true of also all cognacs. So like when the VS says theirs is a minimum two vs. O p, minimum four. And even scotch we've talked about. There's kind of this misconception that everything, when you buy like Macallan 12, that everything's aged 12 years.

It's not, it's minimum 12 years. So that could have also been blended in with a Macallan that was aged 14, 15

**Gizmo:** years. And are, and are they doing that? Cuz we've talked about this with cigars and specifically Cuban cigars on a recent episode about how they're not changing the blend to try to match, let's say a vintage to the previous vintage or match a D four, what it should taste like today versus what it tasted like five years ago.

Right. They just, the blend is the blend, the tobacco's, the tobacco, the vintage is the vintage like wine. Are they doing what Scotch is doing? Like [00:24:00] Macallan here? They're trying to make

**Senator:** it consistent. Consistent? Mm-hmm. That's the thing. They're trying to do the exact opposite of cigars. They're adjusting the blend slightly to try to keep its consistency.

And especially with Almanac where it's made from four different types of grapes, I imagine year to year, if the yield is pretty shitty, one year for one of those four grapes mm-hmm. They're probably using more of some of the others and trying to blend it so that it, it reaches kind of the same flavor profile.

Right now, the only exception is with both cognac and. I would say even more so Armac, there are vintage bottles that are from a specific year. Ah. And so that year is gonna taste very different from another year and is not meant to be at all consistent or like this XO or something in their kind of standard line.

It's an outlier though,

**Gizmo:** those vintages. And do people chase those vintage years? Like wine? I'm sure they do.

**Senator:** Okay. They do. And that's where it kind of gets fun, because when you buy an xo, A V S O P, whatever the case is, you know every single time what that's gonna taste like. Yeah. When you start getting into the vintages, you know, you may find three different years that you really [00:25:00] love and they taste completely different.

Interesting. Yeah.

**Bam Bam:** It's a cool

**Gizmo:** journey. Honestly, it is. So I'll be honest, I thought that the name of the spirit was Armenia. I didn't, I didn't realize that. That's the type of spirit. Yeah. And it's the other name, right? The the one with the D don't bother. That is the family name. I didn't, I didn't even know that Armenia was his spirit.

I mean mm-hmm. That's like, we've been doing this podcast, what, almost two years now. Yeah. And it's like, I've never even heard there is an arm of armac ever in my life. You can

**Bam Bam:** take an armc journey. Here's, there's,

**Gizmo:** there's, there's a lot. This is making me wanna do that. There's a lot. There's a, there's even other brandiss.

**Rooster:** Oh,

**Gizmo:** absolutely. S sure.

**Senator:** Wow. Sure. But on to Bams point on, on Armac, when I was in, uh, a Bottle King, a, a retailer near us to pick this up, there were a ton of different other Yeah. Uh, bottles of armac. I have no, we truly

**Bam Bam:** could. So my dad drank Armac a lot. Really? Yeah. And you know, I was at a, I was at Lizard Charlie's house in town where I lived.

His son, [00:26:00] lizard Hollis was graduating high school. They're both, you know, cigar aficionados and they had a pretty decent party. So I was there, I had two glasses of bourbon. Then they served me this and it just took me right off of my bourbon trail. Is that when you started texting us? Yeah, I made a right turn and I followed that armac trail the rest of the night.

It's nice

**Senator:** you made a lot of right turns that night. Well, I

**Bam Bam:** did. I ended up at Pagodas house at like 2:00 AM I woke him outta bed,

**Gizmo:** by the way. That's totally true for the

**Senator:** lizard. It is. I I also have to hear, so, uh, this young lizard who graduat from high

**Bam Bam:** school Lizard.

**Senator:** Lizard Hollis. I have to hear you gifted him a sampler of Cuban cigars.

Indeed, I did. And I would love for you to just share with the listener for a high school, a high school graduate. Listen, what sticks you curated. So

**Gizmo:** lemme just, I'm gonna pull up the photo so we make sure he doesn't miss

**Bam Bam:** him. I don't, I won't miss a thing. I know it verbatim. I'm good. But I, I respect this young kid.

He has from, I think from his early ages of like maybe eighth [00:27:00] grade freshman year. He wasn't smoking that early, but he was into the artisanal nature of what a cigar is. And I think by sophomore, junior year, he's really getting into cigars and having one or two with his dad, you know, after, you know, doing whatever he was doing.

But every conversation I had with him at such a young age, From the point of view of cigar knowledge is off the charts. Off the charts. So right away, I gotta think to myself, this kid knows what he's talking about. He loves his cigar business, loves cigars. I wanna give him a nice gift. So what,

**Gizmo:** what was in the gift?

Yeah, what you give him. Bam. All right.

**Bam Bam:** Now you're gonna say I Right. I have it right here. I can do, I know what it

**Gizmo:** is. Actually,

**Rooster:** go back to what, what does he usually smoke? Like New World Cubans. What?

**Bam Bam:** So he loves, he loves Doffs. Um, not a fan of the

**Senator:** millennium pyramid. Sorry, can I just, uh, just quick check again.

He's in high school. He's a senior. So he is 18 high school, in fact, 18 years old. And his favorite cigar is doff. That's

**Gizmo:** crazy. He loves Doffs. He, he's, he's in for a

**Bam Bam:** journey. Wow. Uh oh. Yeah. [00:28:00] Yeah. So he, he big fan of Davidoff line. Um, I'm not sure what else he likes, but he does, he had the B b F that I gave him.

He said it was incredible. So I respect that because he appreciates a


**Gizmo:** high quality Cuban, I gotta say. And I Yeah. Cuz I wanna get to what you gave him. Yeah. But I have to say that at 18 years old to have a palette that's appreciating that. Absolutely. Cause you know, you think about when you're a kid, your palette's really driven towards sweets.

Yeah. You know, like that's, that's how kids are, right? Sure. So to have a pallet that can appreciate. Find cigars. Yeah. At that age. Yeah. I think that's, that's pretty, pretty

**Bam Bam:** advanced. He's planning on starting a cigar club at, at a school where he's gonna college. Oh, they're gonna love that. Oh, yeah. Oh, well.

Depends on where you That's true.

**Pagoda:** Yo, Linda being a pariah very quickly, you know,

**Gizmo:** we'll be talking about Lizard Hollis expelled. No,

**Bam Bam:** no, no.

**Gizmo:** So let's go through what he, what, what, what, uh, Liz Hall has

**Bam Bam:** received. So I started off with the Cohiba ex.

**Gizmo:** Oh yes. Yep. I actually thought that was a siglo, but then's

**Bam Bam:** what?

I small that I thought [00:29:00] too. Yeah. Yeah. And then the Poor Laga. Petite Corona. Mm-hmm. Then from there it went to, I believe it's a, is it Aras? Not Aras. Nope. Hold on, don't tell me. Oh, that's A B F. Yep. Beco FENOs from Boulevard. Boulevard. Beco. FENOs. Then the up and two, the Monty two. Then I gave him a fund.

Doris Trinidad.

**Senator:** Funded Doris a fund. Doris? I did. Wow. Wow. Yeah. Wow. So bam. I'm going back to high school. Okay. I would like one of these samplers. I never graduated. I'm still

**Gizmo:** in high school. I never got that. Where's

**Bam Bam:** all of ours? Someday? No. But he will appreciate, so he, he's already reported back to me about the b f went through what he captured and what he liked and what he didn't like.

He's an appreciative kid. Like he knows what he likes, what he doesn't like, but he captures the details of every cigar. That's impressive. I would do that. I You do

**Gizmo:** do that. So here's a question I have. So, um, how much experience has he had with Cuban cigars prior to you? Introducing 'em [00:30:00] to him. He's had experience of course,

**Bam Bam:** yeah.

Through his father, but I'm not sure how

**Gizmo:** much. And what is he telling you about what, what he's feeling about Cubans versus Davidoff or other new worlds? Like what is, what is his kind of journey

**Bam Bam:** seeming like? Well, I think the challenge for younger cigar smokers is the accessibility to, to Cuban cigars and their.

You know, their apprehension to pursue them, not knowing if they're real or not. Yeah. Where to source them, who to talk to about it. Well

**Senator:** look for all of our 18 year old listeners, bam. Bangs your guide.

**Bam Bam:** That's a no.

**Rooster:** I mean, it's, it's kind of true, right? I mean, if you're an 18 year old kid, if you wanna even try a Cuban cigar without buying

**Gizmo:** a whole box, where do you go? You can't, can't, you can't. But you can

**Rooster:** go into a store and buy a single Padrone, a single Dabb or any other's. Right. New world that you want

**Gizmo:** to try.

Exactly. Right.

**Senator:** Right. So, well that's why he's gonna start at least the Cigar Club. Then they can all

**Gizmo:** split up. Yeah. They boxes. Yeah. They could do what we do. Yeah, I guess I mean that, listen, that's how we started. We weren't 18. No, we were, you [00:31:00] know, but we all started, we were splitting boxes 5, 6, 7 ways. Yep.

And we'd try, we'd try it out, see if we liked it. That's true. And then we'd go out and all of us would go bonkers and buy boxes. I figured

**Bam Bam:** that sampler would kind of like give him a good profile. It is. It some of more premium improvements. Great. It's

**Gizmo:** a great, great profile. Yeah. Made I was sense. Very envious.

I'll be honest. Yeah. I, I would've kept the funding.

**Bam Bam:** I felt obligated. Young man felt obligated. Young man embarking onto the world.

**Gizmo:** Wow. So does he listen to our pod? He does. Oh, nice. Yeah. Well, congratulations to, uh, lizard Holli. Lizard Hollis. Yeah. Yes. My man. Graduating second number one for getting bam to open his tower. That's true. With this incredible gift box.

Not an easy thing. Not

**Bam Bam:** an easy thing to do. And I had a chance to experience that army neck at his, at his place too. It was great. Yeah.

**Gizmo:** Great night. So this, uh, this armac I'm finding, I, I love the viscosity of it on the glass when you take a sip, like I, I, you know, as we've been talking about, uh, this gift box you gave, I haven't sipped.

And yeah, look at the, [00:32:00] look at the, the legs. It's the legs on, on the side of the glass here. We're drinking these outta like wine glasses.

**Bam Bam:** What I like about it, very civilized. It's not overly sweet. It isn't. It's just enough. And I think there is a, a very slight bite, but on the, on the front. But as it finishes for me, it's very, very smooth.

Very smooth. And, and I'm getting a bit of creamy honey note for me.

**Gizmo:** I agree. And I think that it, I think that this is a wonderful spirit for a cigar. And again, I'm frustrated that I hadn't heard of Armac period. Like I'm kind of embarrassed in a way, honestly, like not, not joking, like I don't have any idea how, I've never heard of this spirit before.

Being alongside Brandy Cognac and, and some of those others, you know? Right, right. Same quote, unquote after dinner

**Senator:** drinks. Yeah. You know? Yeah. I mean, I'll, I'll admit, I, I mean, I had heard of it, but it, it's kind of reputation is like a, a poor man's cognac basically. And there's so many things I think that we've discovered through this pod where it's like one thing is kind of held up as the gold standard and the other is like the ugly stepchild.

And then we tried the ugly [00:33:00] stepchild and we're like, wait a minute. That's actually really good. And that's kind of my experience with this. Like, this is just as deserving as any cognac of being a premium spirit. Sure. I don't know why the world is such that, like co cognac is this really revered spirit and almanac is just an afterthought.

I think this is. Just as good as many cognacs we

**Gizmo:** have. I agree. Totally. Is it something totally agree. Is it something with the branding relating to the region in which it's produced? Yeah. I mean, just the cognac reasons kind of like, you know, it's better known,

**Senator:** right? Yeah. Yeah. But the, the perfect example of this is just like champagne, right?

Yeah. Like everyone thinks of, you know, food clo or something that they're familiar with that comes from the champagne region as being the only great sparkling. And then you try sparklings from other parts of France, uh, grower champagnes that are not even in the champagne region. And then stuff from, you know, the new world.

You try, you know, some sparkling wines out in Sonoma and, and all over different places. And you, you know, kava in, in Spain, there's so many different sparkling varietals that you can buy and you find some [00:34:00] really good stuff, but everyone just kind of, we're all due to marketing. Our minds are trained to think that only champagne makes the good stuff and.

It's fair that there's an overwhelming amount of great stuff made in champagne, but there's also great stuff elsewhere. And I think it's very much the same with cognac and armac and really any brandy where our minds are, you know, the marketers have trained us to think that only cognac is a premium brandy.

And, and I think I just from a few sips of this, I'm, I'm already excited to try other

**Bam Bam:** Army X. Yeah, agreed. You know, it's similar to my feeling about the grower champagnes when we had that, that was an for me. It was an experience I've never had. Yeah. And I've, I've never even heard of that type of champagne until that evening.

I found that I gave it a pretty good rating, if you remember. It was delicious. A bit more bolder, a little bit more body.

**Senator:** Fantastic. And that's, I'm actually glad that you said that. Yeah. A little bolder, A little more body. And that's like armac and cognac. That's true. You just said that earlier. That's right.

The irony too is like, you think about even the process, like I was stunned [00:35:00] to learn that most armanis start at 10 years of age. Right. They're not pumping this out in the same volume. Right. Like cognac, the entry level is vs. That's only two years that floods the mar. You can get a zillion bottles of vs.

And so much of that

**Gizmo:** is just not, not good. Not great palatable,

**Senator:** right? No. Yeah. I mean, we found one that, uh, CRO cro, cro cro bs that was actually very, very cool. Was pretty good. You know, a lot of it is just like something you'd quickly have at a bar and even mix into something cuz it's not really great on its own.

Uh, but you don't have that in Armac, which is very cool. That like the kind of entry level to it is 10 years of age. They're not pumping this out in volume. And, and I really

**Gizmo:** like that. So the one thing we have not talked about yet is what is the price on this? I was about to ask that.

**Senator:** That's a great question.

I too, so the

**Gizmo:** reason why I asked that is because I'm guessing it's in the seventies. Me too. I, I would think so. I'm hoping it's less. Yeah, me too. But I'm kind of getting the vibe from this that I got with the Remi 1738. You know what, in that I agree with you in the, in the way it [00:36:00] pairs with the cigar.

**Bam Bam:** Yeah. And a bit of the flavor notes, I think I agree. There's some similarity, maybe very slight.

**Gizmo:** This is, this is something that at the right price Mm. Is. For me. Very interesting. With the flavor of a cigar, especially a cigar like the one we're having tonight. Yeah. Cuban little earthy. Yeah. I think this would be great with the Cohiba.

I love the pairing. I think this would be great with the Parus. You know, I'm glad

**Senator:** that you mentioned both those brands alongside what we're smoking because I very much agree and the thing I like about this, it's very balanced. It's not aggressively sweet and like fruit notes, you get a little bit of oak from the barrel.

Yes. Which I think was kind of the earthy woody notes that you get in this jl. It

**Bam Bam:** works nicely. It works really well. I get the oaky on, on the oak on a finish of this army neck.

**Senator:** Yeah. For me. And it's just a touch cuz I hate really heavily oaked anything. It's just a touch, which works perfectly. How much is this?

So you said you thought it'd been probably around 70? No, he said that

**Gizmo:** hoping 70. I'm hoping it's like 55 60.

**Senator:** 59. 99. Dude.

**Gizmo:** [00:37:00] Great. So that's the sa, very similar price to uh, that's a great price. Hed, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. A lot of the v SOPs that we've been enjoying. Wow. I think that this is something that, that I'm certainly gonna start.

I, I think, first off, no doubt, I think we should go down an armac track here on the pod, because I think this is a very interesting pairing with cigars. Yeah. And I think that that's something that, for me, I, I think when a lot of people talk about cognac, brandy, they're talking about after dinner, after a meal.

Maybe our context is with the cigar that we're smoking. Right. And I think that that perspective, I think it's a little bit different of a lens into what the, the, the spirit brings or takes away even sometimes. I, I completely agree with the cigar. It's, and I think that what I like about this finish is it's just enough.

Mm-hmm. It doesn't linger too long, but it's not weak and short and just, It's just gone. This is perfect.

**Senator:** Pretty accurate. I mean it agree. It's fantastic. Yeah. Agree. And the price point I think really matters here. And I say that [00:38:00] because when you think of cognac, an XO that's got like 10 years plus age, that starts at like a hundred.

The cheapest you'd ever find one is one 50. But like when we did Remi xo, Remy XO is 200 a bottle.

**Gizmo:** Outrageous. Which is a, it's a wonderful spirit. It is. But how, how many got bottles of how many bottles of each of us purchased after that podcast? We gave it tens. Right. I haven't purchased one. It's not something

**Senator:** you would drink every day.


**Bam Bam:** The interesting. That's a celebration. What's interesting about this bottle too, so if you pull out a bottle of Remi, regardless of where it's the class of the bottle, people know it. Yeah. Not many people know what Armac is. That's right. And if you pull out a really good bottle of armac, it's, it kind of, I was a little skeptical cause I never, I've never really had an arm neck once, maybe 10 years ago.

You don't know what that spirit's gonna be like. And it's impressive when it performs beautifully in a, in a party setting. I think it makes an imprint on a group. I really

**Gizmo:** like that $60 price point, man. Oh, it's, it's awesome. It's great. I think that's perfect. Awesome. Mm, [00:39:00] wonderful pairing. Well done boys.

Oh, so far so good. Nice find, yeah. I think we should dive into this a little harder. Agreed. For sure. You know. Now here's the question I have. Is it, so this is an xo, it's 60 bucks. I wonder what the. The lower tiers of Armenia. Well, can we go higher tier?

**Bam Bam:** I don't. No, no. The good thing is, let's not go down.

Let's just go up.

**Gizmo:** I don't think they start out at

**Senator:** xo, I believe. Yeah. I don't think there's that many that are lower than that. This usually is kind of the base level and it's because Armenia is meant to be a bolder spirit. So it's like, you know, if you have Remi, V S O P, that's, it's a little thin. You can drink that in volume.

Remi XO is really rich and concentrated, and that is meant to be one part of the portfolio of cognacs, where for armac, they're all meant to be bold. Yeah. So they all need kind of a minimum base level of a lot of age to achieve that.

**Gizmo:** Interesting. So when Senator was picking this up today, you seemed a little surprised [00:40:00] that you had found it because I know Bam had referenced this.

Is it something that you can find anywhere or is this like a shock that you walked into Total wine today and found it? So

**Senator:** Armenia, you can find anywhere but this particular bottle, when Bam had sent the photo, the first place I looked at was Total Wine, which I'm sure any listener who's in the United States, that's probably the first place that you would look for something.

And at least for our local total wines, they, they didn't have it. So I thought there was no way I was gonna find it anywhere near us. And I just happened to stumble into Bottle King and there was on the shelf. Wow. Wow.

**Bam Bam:** How many bottles were on the shelf? Probably like four more. I'm gonna go, I'm gonna try to get one.

Yeah, no, you might as well.

**Gizmo:** I am. I am. Get me one. Yeah, I will. Seriously, I will. Yeah. I'm in. This is really good.

**Bam Bam:** It's good. It's unusual, right? It's different.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. I'm, and, and again, I have to again look at it through the lens of, of what we do here, and this is a perfect spirit to pair with a cigar. Yeah. So how is it different than a cognac.

I think what, what Senator said it has that No, no, no.

**Rooster:** I mean,

**Gizmo:** like, notes [00:41:00] wise, like, like it has a touch, touch of the woody thing at the, at the end. There's just a touch of that. I think the viscosity is, it's a little different. Really interesting. Yeah. Um, and I, I think the way that it's playing with the cigar flavor-wise on the palette, I just, I think it's working really well.


**Senator:** And on the notes, the notes are not very different. They're not, and they, they shouldn't be. It's the same stuff. I mean, that Uni Blanc grape is present here just with some others that impart some slightly different flavors. Mm-hmm. But the flavor profile is generally very similar. Yeah. It's just the, the delivery is a little bit different.

It is a

**Bam Bam:** bit bolder. And dare I say, it's just a touch com more complex. Yeah. Than I'm not sure most of the cognacs that we've had. Not all but most. Um, so I think that's where the distinguishing factors are. Yeah. But

**Pagoda:** if I just picked up this glass, I would think it's

**Gizmo:** cognac. I agree. That's right. That's true.

**Senator:** Yeah, that's true. That's right. It'd be virtually indistinguished if it was black. Yeah.

**Gizmo:** And to Senator's point, to get a 10 year age spirit for 60 bucks, dude, that tastes like this. Oh, it's, it's a home run. Oh yeah. I mean, how many 15 year age scotches have we had that are [00:42:00] $20 more than this, that are thin and really kind of undrinkable?

Yeah. And uninteresting. And uninteresting.

**Rooster:** Yeah. I mean essentially it's a cognac just in a different region because in France

**Gizmo:** that's how they Yeah, that's

**Senator:** how they, they do it. They say poor man's cognac. I mean, truly the same way, if I put AGL two glasses of champagne or sparkling in front of you and you tried them and said, which ones from the champagne region and which ones from another region in France, no one outside of a master SOB would be able to tell the difference.

**Bam Bam:** Right. That's when we sit. Great. Yeah. This is, that's when we sit centered down at that, uh, table.

**Senator:** I would try to make you guys proud. Test his prowess.

**Gizmo:** So boys, we're about halfway through here on the Juan Lopez ion number two. What are we thinking, bro?

**Bam Bam:** The retro hill. You've gotta constantly retro hill this to capture.

I'm still getting a touch of sweetness and fruit on that retro and it has not gone away. And I think the whole delivery's smooth from

**Gizmo:** Yeah. But [00:43:00] it's still, still beginning to where it's now, it still has that earthy woody

**Rooster:** notes that Yeah.

**Gizmo:** Which I like continue to get. Yeah. Yeah. I think, uh, I think for me, I think the second, third, Has been better than the first third.

I think it's kind of settled in a little bit. Makes sense. I think the spirit is, it's working really well with that. As I've said, three to three or four times already. I can't get over it. Um, but I'm really enjoying the cigar right now and I wish I had a few mm-hmm. That I could, I could kind of reach for every once in a while.

What I like is after

**Bam Bam:** taking a sip of the almanac and then ticking a draw and retro hailing, that whole flavor experience

**Gizmo:** is really quite nice.

**Rooster:** Cuz I'll trade you some of these. For the silver jubilees.

**Bam Bam:** He has silver jubilees. Damn

**Senator:** it.

**Gizmo:** Don't tell anyone what the heck. Uh, rooster's referencing a, uh, Bolivar.

Yeah. Uh, regional edition. Mm-hmm. Hong Kong Silver Jubilee. Remember Hong Kong? I think it was Hong Kong. Yeah. So speaking of regional editions, um, that's the one thing [00:44:00] that Juan Lopez is actually kind of used by Haos. Very similar to La Gloria Cobana. Uh, and some of the other, you know, tertiary brands, they use this Marco a lot for regional cigars.

I mean, I'm, I'm looking at cubit cigar website. I, I mean there must be 2025 cigars that have under j l one under, no, just under Juan Lopez. Oh, I'm

**Bam Bam:** sorry. Under, under Juan

**Gizmo:** Lopez. Yeah, under Juan Lopez. All regional cigars. That's regional cigars. They use this constantly as a marker for, uh, for, for regional cigars.

And I think, you know, I think that's because it's respected a little bit more than some of the other brands that, you know, that are kind of lower on the portfolio. I have to interrupt

**Bam Bam:** you. Yeah. So I like what Senator just did because at the party I put, I did put one chip of ice in this armac in it. It went down so beautifully.

It's a good move. So

**Senator:** I just, I, not a bad move. I was very curious. So the, the reason I did this [00:45:00] and, and this is why the price point of, of armc is very fun because if this were an exo cognac at 200 a bottle, there's no way I'm putting any ice or water period in it, but it's 60 bucks a bottle. I just put a few drops of water and I just wanna see what this is like, if it opens up at all, and maybe some new flavor notes come about.


**Bam Bam:** um, we'll, yeah, it's a good move. Interesting. I have a question about regionals in general. Yeah. And maybe for the listener. I think this is a decent topic. I wasn't aware that. Hao selects certain markers to put out regionals. Yep. Honestly, I thought every market had a regional,

**Gizmo:** no, the global brands don't.

Okay. So, you know, I think maybe there's a few exceptions, but you know, the global brands Cohiba, so

**Bam Bam:** they, so they consciously select some specific markers to create those regionals and then distribute them

**Gizmo:** worldwide? Exactly. Okay. So, you know regionals that are respected though, right? And why do they do that?

Because what they do is they wanna reward either dis uh, distributors specific regions, like Caate is very French driven. Yeah. [00:46:00] Um, you know, they use a lot of those tertiary brands that don't have much regular production that's in the supply chain. Mm-hmm. They use those markets to I see. To feed, you know, it's almost like a reward, I guess, you know?

Yeah. Celebrating 50 years, 25 years, 30 years, whatever it is. Um, and the brands that they use are El Ray del Mundo. Diplomatico is Juan Lopez, which we're smoking tonight. Gloria Kibana. Poor Laga, uh, San Cristobal De la Habana has a lot of regional additions and it's also, but I feel like this one has more than a lot.

Wow. It's also

**Rooster:** because of, you know, each region, like the flavor profile mm-hmm. For that region might be different. So they kind of zero into that flavor profile of

**Gizmo:** that region to create. Yeah. And

**Bam Bam:** are they selecting certain markets that have a shorter, uh, Standard production line. Well, I think that's to, to to, to do two things, of course.

To fill out their production, but also to maybe proliferate their

**Gizmo:** name. I think so. And I think that the reason why they don't, I'll, I'll kind of answer your question. The opposite way that you asked it is like, [00:47:00] Cohiba up and Parus, you know, hoyo, those cigars are so popular and are so mass produced, but they also have huge catalogs.

They have huge catalogs, but it, they don't want to introduce a cigar that's gonna be a one-off, unless it's a it's an el. Mm-hmm. Which is those, those are the, oh, that happens. You know, those are the marker that, that get ELs. But I think, you know, it is interesting to see Juan Lopez have 20 or 25 regional editions that have been re released, I guess, since Hano started doing that.

What, 20 years ago? 15, 20 years Ago's. Cool, cool. Um, and they only have two regular production cigars. So clearly this is a, a market that's existing to serve that purpose. You

**Bam Bam:** know, what's

**Gizmo:** the verdict on that drink? Yeah. How did, how did the, uh, adding a little water, I have to

**Senator:** say. Adding a few drops of water opens this up really, really nicely.

If you have a, like, there's a bottle of water there, just garson. I need to refill. Just put a few drops. I'm serious. It, it just, with a few drops of water, I think Bam was mentioning before. Some of these, [00:48:00] like honey and kind of sweeter notes, it brings some of that out and it, it kinda rounds us out where I think the finish gets creamier.

The finish to me before was very bold, very whiskey like I wouldn't describe as creamy, but with a little water to open it up. It gets, I will admit,

**Bam Bam:** at the party I did have a chip of ice in every drink and every refill of this armac, and it was really,

**Senator:** really very good. Yeah, I think it works really well.

**Gizmo:** All right, so let's try this thing with a little water in it. Yeah.

Oh yeah, it is really nice. I don't, I don't notice like a monumental difference. I'm telling you. I

**Bam Bam:** do. I mean, I, I I, I I want to second your thoughts, Senator. It is creamier and the honey comes out. It opens up. It does. It does.

**Pagoda:** I think I might need a little more coc just so upset that

**Bam Bam:** even with the bam, bam pour,

**Gizmo:** by the way, for listeners, bam, pour a a, uh, foref fingers.[00:49:00]

All right. Alright. Right. So, you know, the, uh, going back to the regional editions for a second of this, Marcus specifically, people love the Juan Lopez Regional editions. People chase them, you know, and I think Bolivar probably, and Ramon maybe are the kind of the, the top tier regional editions that come out as far as what people chase.

But Juan is right below that. You know,

**Bam Bam:** I have to say, you all of you probably more attuned to the regionals and the ELs. I'm. Standard production guy all the way. You know, I don't know enough about it. Same here.

**Gizmo:** I honestly, I think Rooster, I think Rooster chased it more than, more than most of us, ELs and regionals.

But for me, yeah. Yeah, for me it's like I'm kind of over it at this point. Yeah. But I think, uh,

**Rooster:** this merit to what you just said, I mean, just take to the regular brands because

**Gizmo:** standard production, it's head or Miss,

**Senator:** you've heard me say head or miss say this for the longest time. I mean, for me, common sense is kind of what guided me in thinking this.

That didn't [00:50:00] mean I was right or wrong, it was just my assumption. And you know, after Rooster procuring a lot and some other guys, I think it validated it. For me, it's very simple. If regionals were so great, they'd become part of the standard production line. Anything that is worth your time, they're gonna continue to make.

It's not just gonna be dropped once and you're never gonna see it again. You know, we laugh even in, in New World stuff like Davidoff has this limited edition. And then they bring it back like five years later because it was so damn good. They need to bring it back. Exactly. Yeah. It's, it's like that with anything.

Anything that's that great they will truly make again. And so I just have a hard time believing that like these very limited and, and even that is kind of bullshit. Like, we've learned this with ELs like that Ramon Ionis, the green box, obviously we gave it a 10, thank God I just let it sit. And age really helped it, but they made that sound like it was so limited and exclusive and boxes, you know, six months after they had all supposedly sold out, were just popping up left and right and they were pumping more out.

So for [00:51:00] me it's just like the standard production stuff is, is has staying power for a reason. You wouldn't keep producing d fours decade after decade if that cigar wasn't so good. That people are gonna wanna pursue it in perpetuity. Absolutely. Yeah. And that's not the case with regionals or Yales. Yeah, yeah,

**Gizmo:** yeah.

But I,

**Rooster:** I mean, for me it was kind of a journey, right? Like yeah, I just wanted to try them. Yeah, sure. So I had the opportunity to, to find them and try them. And now you're like, well, you know what? It's, it's great, but it's really not worth pursuing a lot of regionals, but although some regionals are better than others, sure.

**Gizmo:** And is,

**Bam Bam:** are they more expensive than the standard production? They are typically,

**Gizmo:** they're way more than usually they're, I mean, now it's, I forget now, now, now the dollar amount on it is so prohibitive for me. So, and I think for Rooster too, I think, you know, it's, it's just like, it's, it's gotten to the point now where, you know, obviously we've been to Cuba, right?

We've all been to Cuba together. We've seen how the process works. We've met these people and it's like, it's the same tobacco man. You're paying [00:52:00] for an extra band. Mm-hmm. You're paying for a collaborative blending process that they're doing with these regional distributors in the A nicer box retailer. A nicer box.

Yeah. And now they're double or tripling the price and it's like, it's marketing. It's all the same tobacco. I think, I think you're

**Bam Bam:** right. You, you did take a, you, you took a risk for a while in pursuing those. And we shared a few with you. They were, some of them were excellent. But it is a risk not knowing

**Senator:** what you not but none better than the best standard production.

You know what,

**Bam Bam:** this is true. That's the thing, you know, go back to this whole conversation about the artisanal quality cigars. Yeah. It's all the same tobacco. We can all distinguish Aras from a D four Sure. From a Schwa Supreme. And that's where the magic occurs, all in this standard production line. It's incredible.

**Gizmo:** Give

**Rooster:** me a punch. Punch from a 50 cab

**Gizmo:** with some age on it and you'll know it. Yeah. And uh, that's nothing better. And to me, it for the listener. If, if you're, if you have money burning a hole in your pocket and you wanna buy something special, buy aged, [00:53:00] regular production cigars, that's, that's where the magic is.

Oh, totally. It's not in young regionals or even aged regionals. Mm-hmm. Which were ELs, which are just bonko bucks. I would

**Senator:** also say, I think a few years ago, GIZ and I disagreed on this. If I'm willing to go down the rabbit hole of regionals or ELs, I think limit are way better than regionals.

**Gizmo:** Interesting.

Way better. I agree. Yeah. I, I think that I, I, I agree with you certainly now, but I think there's been a lot of, uh, limit that are certain ELs that have been really disappointing. Oh, for sure. I don't

**Senator:** mean they're all good. I just mean like the best ELs wipe the floor with the best regionals. Interesting.

**Gizmo:** I think the Parus el, the Ramon youngest El Oh yeah.

They're both fantastic. Yeah. Yeah. And I just, I think that it, you know, if I'm looking to get something special, it's gonna be something with 10 to 15 years of age on it. Mm-hmm. From a regular production, maybe a cigar that I don't have a ton of, but it's gonna be a regular production cigar. That I can [00:54:00] actually appreciate and pull out and wanna smoke.

Not something, are you kidding me? You

**Bam Bam:** know, a 10 year old re uh, standard production cigar. Yeah. 15 to 15. That is extraordinary. Those are extraordinary

**Rooster:** cigars. Well, like a punch, punch box that I, you know, got like I saw that got a cab recently. 20

**Bam Bam:** elevens or fourteens? No,

**Rooster:** 2014. 14, yeah. It's a 50 cab and it's about $30

**Gizmo:** a stick.

Okay. I was supposed to get it here. So

**Bam Bam:** regular punch.

**Gizmo:** Go back to high school.

**Bam Bam:** I'll show you my diploma.

**Gizmo:** You know, my stepdaughter just graduated. Bam. Ooh. She loves cigars. Nice. I'll send

**Bam Bam:** you, I'll send some La Puntas your way.

**Gizmo:** She loves ELs. Yeah. ELs. Oh, sure. Aged ELs. No, but I, sir

**Senator:** Winston's her

**Gizmo:** favorite. Big, big and eight nine eights. There you go. But no rooster. You're right. I mean, it's like, you know, you, you get something with age. You know, you love Punch Punch [00:55:00] and you love punch Punch with age. That's, yeah. That's the way to go.

I mean, the

**Rooster:** regular punch Punch is about what, 20 bucks.

**Bam Bam:** And it, you know, even if it's only got a year or two of age, they smoke beautifully young. They do, in my opinion. Yeah. They, I love that cigar.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. So there's been a lot of rumbling boys of, uh, foreign interference, let's say in Cuba, namely, uh, Chinese, which obviously we've talked about a lot specific to cigars, but let's, it's also in the news.

It's in the news a lot and it's in the news. Yeah, yeah. But let's, you know, we'll go bird's eye. Mm-hmm. Uh, bigger than cigars, but it seems like China and Russia are really, really moving into Cuba.

**Senator:** Well, that's what's funny. It's like, you know, we took this trip to Cuba and I feel like for so many years, Cuba's kind of been treated as this.

Completely irrelevant country geopolitically. And I think what's been kind of shocking and even alarming now, uh, with us going there and having some [00:56:00] local conversations and then what you now see in the news, it's like I actually think I. Years from now, Cuba is going to be like hugely important geopolitically in the world.

Which is crazy to think. Yeah. Yeah. Little Island just been this little island that sat there that has been isolated from the rest of the world that nobody has ever taken seriously as ever being of importance in any sort of geopolitical conflict. And now, you know, China, obviously there's a lot of investment in Cuba.

Yeah. We know they've, you know, bought part of Haos and they wanna

**Gizmo:** buy it All right. I have to. We heard, we heard that in March. Yeah. They wanna buy a hundred percent of Haos. I have to say,

**Bam Bam:** here's my limited opinion on geopolitics or what spurs it on honestly. When China made their 3 billion, was it 3 billion into Haos?

S a three or five? I, I don't know what the number was. It's a massive multi-billion dollar number. I think that that was an eyeopening occurrence. You'd have to think that's one of the main reasons why [00:57:00] China's now so heavily embedded. I know they've been there for a long time, but now that it's in the news, it's interesting timing and now that Russia is

**Senator:** coming in, well, the spy base thing even is crazy.

It's s Yeah, it's like, so yeah. The funny thing is like there's this, and, and this is like the problem with the media, right? It doesn't matter what outlet we're talking about, like the amount of shit that the media gets wrong is just beyond frustrating. All the big American newspapers are reporting that, uh, China and Cuba have reached an agreement and China's gonna build a spy base.

And then you had the American government come out saying they built a spy base back in 2019 that's existed. They already knew about that. Mm-hmm. They're now looking to expand the capabilities of this basically. Wow. And you think of how close Cuba is? 90 miles baby. 90 miles, right. We all remember Ellen Gonzalez floating over from Cuba to Florida.

I mean, that's how close it's, you can literally just be on a piece of driftwood and float to America. That's how close we're talking about. Avoid those sharks. So it's like you think about that [00:58:00] proximity and then China increasing this capability to be able to spy on the us. Yeah. I mean that's scary stuff and,

**Bam Bam:** and I think Russia's feeling left out, they've got a little bit of fomo and that's why they're coming back.

**Senator:** Well, I think Russia sees opportunity. Yeah. Whether they have FOMO or not. It's true too. It's like you, you look at, you know, we've obviously had this embargo for decades. No matter what you think about the embargo, and I won't be political at all in saying this. It hasn't worked in the sense that nothing has changed in Cuba.

Right? Yeah. Like the goal was to force some sort of change. Mm-hmm. Cuba's the same now as it was decades ago. Oh yeah. And so then you had obviously Obama Arguably worse. Arguably worse, yeah. And so then you had the Obama administration try to open things up a bit and say, well, if it, it hasn't worked for all these decades, we shouldn't be doing the same thing.

That'd be insanity. Let's just try something else. And then you had the Trump administration close everything back off and what that's done, whether you agree or disagree with it. Like what's clear now is because the US is shut off from Cuba yet again. There's a huge [00:59:00] opportunity in vacuum for China and Russia to just kind of have carte blanche there and do what they want.

And their, and

**Bam Bam:** they fucking agree with what he just said. I think they desperate, look, I'm not, I'm not gonna make a political spa statement, but what Obama did should have been expanded, right? Because what, what would we would still, we would be, there would've a bigger footprint, better control, better ties and relationships.

What you just said, Senator, spot on. It's the reason why these other countries are not coming in.

**Gizmo:** Because, because don't forget, let, let's look at the Cuban side of it. They're clearly so desperate for foreign money. Oh yeah.

**Bam Bam:** And they'll take the first

**Gizmo:** cover. Sure. They're desperate. Of course. So if they of, if they could have the United States money, that's what they would want.

Every tourist. When, when, when we are there and they say, where are you from? Where are you from? You know, you're walking around the park K Central trial over by the Flora Dita. Every person that's outside there saying, are you American? Are you American? Oh yeah, we're American. Oh, we love Obama. We wish, you know, we wish it was like it was.

We wish it was like it was What a colossal the state. And they have no, it's not a political thing, it's just their lives were different. [01:00:00] Of course. Right. And they are desperate for foreign currency. Yeah. But it's a shame, you know, China

**Rooster:** coming in didn't change anything for the local people. No. Right.

Didn't make an impact. Probably got

**Gizmo:** worse. It does take time though.

**Bam Bam:** Uh, it does take time.

**Gizmo:** And now

**Rooster:** Russia coming in. Yeah. I mean, I don't think the people are that. Know, emphatic about, like, if it's gonna really make a difference to their lives, Russia is gonna come in, they're gonna invest, they're doing it for investments.

They're gonna, they're gonna put up hotels and stuff, and the government's gonna get rich and the people will still stay

**Gizmo:** the same.

**Bam Bam:** Of course. Yeah. Well, that's a, that's also a possibility. Yeah. Yeah. This

**Gizmo:** is what's crazy. I hope

**Senator:** that changes, but of course, this is what's crazy to me. So when we were there in March, Conversations we had with locals were very, very much centered around China.

I mean, we didn't actually hear a word about Russian. We were there in March. And obviously we've kept in touch with a lot of the folks that we've met there. And only more recently from some of these conversations that we still continue to have with friends that we have there, there's all of a sudden this Russian investment is like rampant all of a sudden in Cuba.[01:01:00]

Yeah. And I couldn't believe, but now it's even being publicly reported, this is like way more robust than I thought I thought. Like, okay, maybe hotels, they're buying up a few things. It, it's crazy, like the Cuban government is basically formally agreed to let Russia do just about anything they want there.

So here's some of the things that have been agreed to, and this is directly from the Russia's presidential commissioner speaking on behalf of Putin and the Cuban government saying what they've agreed to. So first, uh, they are allowing the. Russians to lease land for 30 years in Cuba. Wow. Which has not been done, and God knows how long.

You cannot le the government basically owns everything in Cuba. They're letting Russians come in and lease land to make any investment, a hotel, whatever it may be, for 30 year without any problem. They're allowing duty free importation of agricultural machinery. They're allowing the right to repatriate profits in foreign currency, which the Cuban government currently restricts for anybody else.

[01:02:00] Every you, you can't make money in Cuba. And then, you know, oh my, take it back in your local currency. That's not a thing. That alone is a massive move. And then the other crazy thing, uh, the Cuban government has also greenlighted Russian banks to open subsidiaries to finance Russia businesses on the island.

Unbelievable. There'll be Russian banks in Cuba.

**Bam Bam:** Wow. Wow. Wow.

**Gizmo:** So now can't wait for Russian tobacco.

**Rooster:** Oh

**Gizmo:** yeah.

**Bam Bam:** Here's my, the, it's gonna be the call the Putin

**Gizmo:** blend. Here's my question now. If you're the United States, it's like you, how do you, how do you undo this? I know, right? You can't forget the political nature.

Let's, again, we've all said it. We're not a political show. Let's take that out of it. United States period. How do you undo this happening 90 miles from the coast without either matching or beating? That's awful. This intense investment and, and agreement to fund Cuba. [01:03:00] Yeah.

**Senator:** How do you, the other thing I forgot to do it, to mention quickly before answering the, the difficult question you just posed.

Uh, so Russia's airline, AFL. They formally resume regular flights to Cuba as of July 1st.

**Bam Bam:** Wow. Wow. So that will bring in enormous tourist money from

**Gizmo:** Russia, which they had, you know, there were a lot of Russian tourism, you know, there was a lot of Eastern European tourism

**Bam Bam:** there, but they'd have to fly in unusual routes

**Gizmo:** to get there.

I think it was direct, but I think that was pre Covid, is that right? And then the war, obviously with Ukraine, that changed a lot too. But,

**Rooster:** but having Russia come in, that would probably keep the US out even more.

**Senator:** That's the problem. Yeah. Brewster's exactly right. Yeah. I mean the, the, the tensions with China, right?

They're, they're economic ones. They're not, uh, anything more than that at this point. Mm-hmm. And even all the Chinese investment and even this base that's existed since 2019, nothing's posed like a, a director serious threat. But the problem with now formally making all of these concessions to Russian investment there, I mean, Russia's in a war with Ukraine [01:04:00] that the United States obviously has very firmly supported Ukraine and its sovereignty.

How do you possibly navigate this now? I mean, there's no universe in which the United States can no meaningfully do

**Bam Bam:** anything there. It's a complete undermining of what the US would've hoped. And

**Gizmo:** I think, I mean, it's, it's really like, you know, Russia and China have put the United States in a really, really interesting position with, with regard to Cuba and, and an island, which in the fifties the United States loved.

Sure they did. You know, of course it did, obviously before everything happened. Yeah. And now what? Going on 60 years later, it's like, it's seems totally

**Bam Bam:** lost. You know, from the point of view, like I'm, you know, a lot of what I do from the point of view of everyday work, real estate and investment and development, that is a massive loss of opportunity.

Just from that perspective. Put, put aside the p the geopolitical issues, which I'm not clearly as versus some of you are because of it being so close to the United States, [01:05:00] how. The relationship hasn't been fixed over so long. It's, it's just absurd. It's, it's, it's

**Gizmo:** awful. The, and the piece of it that bums me out, and, and this is a, I guess a, uh, an assumption, but I feel like the Chinese and the Russians are not as interested in, in the humanitarian piece of it.

Thank you. Than I think most, mm-hmm. Americans would be. Yeah.

**Senator:** Like, let's, let's be real. The, the way that Americans are legally able to travel to Cuba, like we did one of those boxes that you can check that we all did mm-hmm. Is in support of the Cuban people. Right. I guarantee you that there is no one getting on an air flight, flight, uh, flight from Russia that is going in support of the Cuban people.

No, no. They're going to buy things and spend money That's right. And get out

**Gizmo:** and go home and go to

**Bam Bam:** the beach. Yeah. And you, you know, we all hope, just from the perspective of where we are, we love the Cuban culture. We love, we've been there multiple times, Cuban people, and of course the cigars we live for you just hope that the citizens there, their lifestyles are improved.[01:06:00]

You really

**Gizmo:** hope for that. And it doesn't look like it. I mean, you see all these hotels going up. It's still early. You're walk, but you're walking around and you, you know, you hear about Russians building banks and hotels. Mm. That's not boiling down to fixing the infrastructure. I mean, bam, you were like stressing, walking around seeing these construction projects that very local stressful were putting together with That's true.

Two by fours. That's right. You know? That's right. You know, it's like, it's, it's not, you know, you see one, one area of, of Havana, there's, but here's one thing. Cranes and,

**Bam Bam:** and towers. Yeah. So when you build a building that big, and if you're building multiple structures that are over 10, 20 stories, there has to be some infrastructure to support that building that has to be improved.

You can't build it on existing infrastructure. So they're gonna make some, just by way of the nature of the development, they have to make some improvements. But does that percolate out to every residential dwelling? That's the question. Highly unlikely. Yeah.

**Senator:** Yeah. Yeah. The whole thing's just wild to me because I, I think for the longest time, people always ask the question.[01:07:00]

Do you think at some point the embargo will be lifted and my opinion has been at some point, sure. It's gotta be right. Cuba needs the investment, they need the help that country cannot sustain in the way it is right now in perpetuity. And it would make a whole lot of sense given how close they are to us and how we would wanna obviously protect against any sort of geopolitical threat that eventually we'd find some way to open certain things up and improve the lives of Cubans there, and also enhance our national security here.

And that was my mindset all along. Even with this whole China spy base, all of that there, there are still so many ways in which I think that would've worked. What's crazy to me now though, with this Russian piece that's very, very new. I mean, again, in March no one we spoke to there said a word about Russia.

Yep. And it's only very recent and now I'm sitting here saying I, the embargo may never be lifted because of this. Yeah.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. Mean, would us

**Rooster:** ever lift the [01:08:00] embargo with Cuba? Because I mean, it's a communist country. Yeah.

**Pagoda:** But you know, having said that, listen, the strategy is kind of outdated. Oh, absolutely.

That embargo hasn't helped at all. It hasn't influenced their behavior. It hasn't changed anything. You know, the US has been trying to export capitalism all throughout the world, in the Middle East, everywhere. And they're not doing it in, uh, you know, in the backyard. And, but with Russia, you know, they have to

**Rooster:** change.

The way to think about with Russia coming in, it makes

**Gizmo:** it worse. Well, here's a question for you, but for us, of

**Bam Bam:** course it does. Amateur geopolitical guy, let's say the US lifted the embargo. It won't help the powers that be in Cuba, but could that help the average mom and pop that may want to go to the us?

Earn a better living. Maybe their kids stay in Cuba or vice versa. It just creates more freedom of travel. Wouldn't that help this, the, the average family?

**Gizmo:** I think it did in 2014. I think it could possibly, you know, I, I, I think we've seen that. Yeah. I think it [01:09:00] could,

**Senator:** but to me the, I don't know, the bigger problem, I'm less concerned about.

Um, any embargo enabling freer travel to the United States because we could never take in every Cuban resident. True. That's not a thing. Of course that's true. So for me it's like, you know, what impact does the embargo have on the ability of people there to have access to basic necessities, to have more opportunities to earn income, and for there to be like more American investment That I, I would think, I tend to think would, you know, provide a bit more opportunity than some other investment that's happened there that could care less what these people may

**Bam Bam:** and happening now.

The, the trade would increase, maybe the tourism would increase. Maybe that's the approach. Yeah. And

**Senator:** pay senator. Yeah. It's, it isn't though, but that, that's what becomes hard then it, it's like, you know, once. Now Pandora's Box has been open with all this Russian investment. It's like, you know, how much is there gonna, I mean, I just read off, they're giving 30 year leases to Russian entities that invest in Cuba.[01:10:00]

They're waving all of these different things. I mean, it's created such an incredible climate for any Russian entity to wanna invest there. Us lifting the embargo doesn't mean that those things are extended to Americans who invest there. No, sure. True. Of course. And so we still have no meaningful incentive or way to really invest in a serious way there.

And so what's sad to me is, you know, I, I don't know that it would do a whole lot right now given what's going on. I think

**Bam Bam:** it requires a conversation with the powers that be in Cuba. And Senator. And Senator,

**Rooster:** you know, plus, don't forget there's a mass exodus of young people out of Cuba. Yeah, yeah. That's happening.

**Gizmo:** Major brain drain.

**Bam Bam:** But the interesting thing is they could turn it around very quickly, but how do you keep them, how do you keep them? You have to improve opportunity. Opportunity. Opportunity. And your, and the level of living, really.

The lifestyle and access, access. Access to

**Senator:** jobs. Every person that we spoke to in Cuba that had some frustration about their life and [01:11:00] the government or whatever the case may be, it all boiled down to opportunity. Yeah. Not being able to access bare necessities that people need to survive there. Yeah. And they're not

**Gizmo:** looking for, like, they're not looking for designer bags.

They're not even looking for premium cigars that are made. No. They don't want the cigars. They want, they want what they need. Yep. They need food and shelter.

**Bam Bam:** That's remember basics. That's remember the conversation that we had with someone whose sister was a doctor. Yes. And she makes more money as a short order cook than as a doc.

As a, as a doctor. Yeah. A practicing medical professional. Yeah.

**Gizmo:** It, it is scary to see, you know, obviously. What we do here. I'm curious about the impact on, on us, but now having connections and friends in Cuba, it's like, man, I, you know, you just want their situation, their lives, their, the possibilities to be better.

Right. And it seems like it, it, it, it's moving further away than, than closer. And that's a real tragedy given, I mean, Cubans have [01:12:00] access to the internet. Yeah. As, as they're, they have access to information. They're not tied off the way that they used to be. That's true. And it's a real tragedy that they could see the possibilities.

It's just those possibilities are not appearing at, at their doorstep that they can, you know, make something better for their families. Yeah, right.

**Senator:** Because, you know, at the end of the day, it's sad. Like, we talk about all this investment and a lot of it's gonna be in real estate and in development and things like that, like bams talking about, you know, all of those things Here.

We invest all this money in infrastructure, in building hotels and hospitality, all these things. We, these are jobs that pay people living wages. Yeah. Right. People that construct these buildings in America make money Sure. That they can support their families with. Sure, sure. And the problem is with the current structure in Cuba, no.

It doesn't matter what's being built or put up, they're not making a living wage doing that work.

**Bam Bam:** They are not, and you, what you said earlier, their ability to patriot their profits back to their current currency, they're not gonna keep any money in Cuba any money in Cuba. That's right. There's no incentive for it.

That's [01:13:00] right. I want, I'm gonna maximize my project. I'm taking every dollar out of it and there's a, a asset there that I'll continue to make money on for 30 years cuz of my lease. That's

**Gizmo:** right.

**Rooster:** So it's crazy. Well, Cuban government will get its pay in. Oh sure. You be Yeah.

**Gizmo:** Believe it. They'll get their cut.

Sure. Uh, yeah, sure. Yeah. It's an unfortunate thing guys. Yeah. And it seems like it's only gonna keep ramping up because the island is, uh, I mean it's, it's ripe for opportunity and development. I mean, it's, it's kind of like an undeveloped opportunity for these countries. I mean,

**Bam Bam:** so when we visited the several times that we've been there, we've never made an attempt to go to the beach or the shoreline.

Yeah. I've been watching a lot of Europeans and South Africans that are going there. They've got their own little podcasts and their own, you know, Canadians and I watched these clips. They're the shoreline is incredible. Yeah. They love it. And completely undeveloped. Yeah. It's unspoiled. Absolutely. It's amazing.

You, that's going to change now. So you hope, you hope for the best? Yeah, you [01:14:00] can.

**Gizmo:** That's all you can do.

**Rooster:** I mean, as a US citizen, you cannot stay at any

**Gizmo:** hotels. No, no. Yeah, and I don't think that'll change, which is a, I think is actually a beautiful thing in that you, you know, you go and you go there and you're putting money in the pockets of, of killing people.

Love, love the Airbnb model. That's a beautiful thing. Yeah, it's true. I'm, I'm almost glad that we can't stay at hotels because we've made some incredible relationships and, and, and had wonderful experiences with Cuban people there because of that. Yvonne,

**Bam Bam:** my man.

**Gizmo:** But you

**Rooster:** know what, at least under Obama, there was some banking, there was people, you know, US citizens could use credit cards and they didn't have to rely on cash.

Like when we go there, we have to

**Gizmo:** take Yeah, cash. Take a lot of cash. It opened up. All right boys, so we're coming to the end of the Juan Lopez x Alexion number two. What do you guys think of the cigar?

**Bam Bam:** What do you think of it? You're, you put yours down, you're done.

**Gizmo:** I'm done. I just wrapped it up. I thought the last, I thought the middle, the middle third was probably the best.

The last third got [01:15:00] a little iffy for

**Bam Bam:** me. You know what? It got flat for me. The last, I guess, inch of the scar. Yeah. Yeah.

**Gizmo:** The last third got a little iffy. Not awful,

**Bam Bam:** but it just flattened

**Gizmo:** out. Yeah. Yeah. How about you Brewster?

**Rooster:** Yeah, same. I mean, to me, like on the light, I really enjoyed the cigar. You know, like the first few puffs were really delicious.

The smoke out of the, out of the foot was amazing. Um, in the middle it was good. But yeah, you're right on the last third. It's, it is kind of flat, you know, but it overall, I mean, this is a cigar that will never score a very

**Gizmo:** high

**Bam Bam:** score. Well, don't, don't couch it. I mean, it's, we're not there

**Rooster:** yet. But I'm just saying, I mean it's, I think the jail one, to me it's superior.

It kind of

**Gizmo:** edges. Yeah. I agree with you jail too. I agree. What do you guys think? I

**Senator:** think I agree with Gizmo. The, the second, third was the most enjoyable. Uh, probably the only third that I was enjoying what I was getting. The first third. I mentioned that the dominant earthy woody notes, [01:16:00] not that there's anything wrong with it, just for my flavor profile, not really what I pursue.

Uh, the second, third got a little sweeter. I got a little bit more of the fruit notes that I was initially getting on the burn line, but not getting, uh, with each draw. So I did enjoy that. And then, yeah, the final third, um, I'm not really sure what I'm getting right now. It's like, yeah, totally fizzled out.

I mean,

**Rooster:** two what's, so if you smoke one out of like a little bit more aged box, it's a different experience.

**Gizmo:** I'm sure

**Bam Bam:** it is. I have to say. And you would know. Yeah.

**Gizmo:** What about you

**Pagoda:** pagoda? Yeah. For me, I don't think, uh, the changes with that, uh, you know, uh, I don't know what the right word for it as, but.

Prominent, I don't know, maybe one, one of the words I thought it was reasonably very consistent in a very soft flavor profile for me and [01:17:00] i's just like a regular cigar, good smokeout bird, but nothing really, which really engaged me into it and felt that, hey, this is fantastic.

**Bam Bam:** Yeah. For you, not extraordinarily memorable.

No. Yeah,

**Senator:** it's fine. Well, that I, I, I, I actually very much agree with what pagoda saying me mean. Me too. That, that's part of my challenge. Like I found myself really sipping a lot of this armac, hoping that, like, that was helping this cigar all the way through. I totally agree. This is true. Like with, without it, I'll be honest, if I had nothing, no spirit paired with this, I would have a hard time with this cigar.

**Gizmo:** So I started the cigar just drinking my seltzer like I always do. Yes. We know. And the, and the armac helped a lot. It helped. Quite a bit.

**Pagoda:** Uh, the weird thing is the combination kind of worked. It did.

**Gizmo:** Yeah, it did. No, it did. I think this armac really kind of, we talked about the earthiness, that, that, that, that nature of the cigar really paired well with this, uh, with this spirit.

So you could put that

**Bam Bam:** armac and IV for me right now. [01:18:00]

**Gizmo:** I enjoy, we can make that happen, by the way. Yes, I know you can. All right, boys, you ready to do the formal liquidating on the darting along? Jesus, that's not right. Darti long. Darti long. I think that's close enough. Darti, long armac xo.

**Bam Bam:** We're gonna have to send a photograph of that label to all the listeners because we've just butchered the name.

**Gizmo:** I'll figure it out by the time I record the intro. All right. Ba bam, you're up.

**Bam Bam:** I'm between an eight and a nine on this thing, and I'm gonna trend upward because I enjoyed it the first time and I, I'm continuing to love it. I'm giving it a nine. Okay.

**Gizmo:** Pagoda?

**Pagoda:** Yeah. A nine. Yeah, I think eight and a nine. I, I'd give it a nine because I, I'm definitely gonna have it again, and for the price point, it's fantastic.

For me, it's like, um, you know, I would just think of it as a cognac and just drink it. Yeah. And yeah, it's very, very nice.

**Gizmo:** Senator.

**Senator:** So I've also been going back and forth between an eight and a nine. I was initially skewing an eight, but what's now kind of made me lean more toward a [01:19:00] nine. It is not easy to make a spirit that is this robust in flavor to be able to deliver it this smoothly.

I mean, when we drank this neat without any water, ice, anything, it was still very enjoyable. Just a few drops of water, brought out some other notes and enhanced it. It did. Uh, but I just think of like other, you know, spirit, like some scotches that are. Not light, but really rich and flavorful. Some of them can really pack a punch and honestly cannot even be enjoyed.

Neat. Um, the same is certainly true with many bourbons, and so I just give them a lot of credit for being able to deliver this robust, um, an amount of flavor in a really balanced way. It's not too sweet, it's not too oaky. Um, so for, and then the last thing I have to factor in, I mean, $60 for a, a spirit that's aged 10 years.

The prices delivers this, prices off the charts. It's,

**Gizmo:** it's a nine, [01:20:00] so I'm also at a nine. I was definitely, I I've been at a nine the whole way, the whole way. I've been at a nine. Yeah. I, I, I wasn't wavering at all. And once I heard the price point, it like solidified it for me. Nice. Like I. I think this is an excellent spirit and uh, I'm definitely gonna go out and buy it.

Or Bams gonna buy a buy a bottle. I'm gonna go tomorrow bottle for me and I'm going tomorrow. Yeah, please get me one. We're we're all graduating from high school. You are?

**Bam Bam:** 1, 2, 3, 4 bottles. You got it. Check. I'll,

**Gizmo:** I'll take a fundy. All right boys. So the formal liquor rating is a flat 9.0. Excellent. Excellent.

I think it's an excellent score for this. Yes. Very pleased. And I do

**Pagoda:** think Lizard should be buying this.

**Gizmo:** Thank you. I agree. The

**Bam Bam:** listeners should run on just to check it out. Well, I'm gonna thank lizard Charlie for giving me a glass of this. Thank you, Charlie.

**Gizmo:** Excellent. Yeah. Worth pursuing. Yeah. Good find.

All right. So you guys ready to do the formal lizard rating on the Juan Lopez X Alexion number two? Yeah. [01:21:00] Rooster, you're up for me. It's a solid eight. Okay. Uh, for me it's a seven. I thought the middle third was really good. I don't think it was great. And the first third and the last third I thought were mediocre.

Seven for sure. Senator,

**Senator:** I'm between a six and a seven. Oh,

**Bam Bam:** brutal.

**Gizmo:** Whoa. And I should have brought the 2014. I told you.

**Senator:** But this is my problem. It, it's like, you know, no matter how much age this has, its best is still not as good as an aged four or an age RAs or any Cuban rab Robusto that I really love. So that's, that's what I have a hard time with.

Um, I think here I'm gonna round up. And the reason I'm gonna do that for my. Palette. I, I just don't love the Juan Lopez profile, and that's where this leans more toward a six. But why I'm willing to round up, I, I can see [01:22:00] why for someone whose palette pursues more of these earthy, woody, dominant notes in this cigar, I like that very much in the background, not kind of the foreground.

I can see why that someone would like and pursue it. So I don't want to suggest that, you know, this is categorically not an enjoyable cigar. I think there are things to like about it. Um, I will say it actually, at least construction wise, performed very well. I was a little nervous early on. BA mentioned some of the burn issues that these can have.

Yeah. But it kind of settled in and burned very evenly nice, beautiful, uh, lighter ash than, than most Cubans. Um, and the second, third was enjoyable. It was just the, the first and, and certainly the final third that were, were not that great. So for me it's a, it's a seven if I. And this also, I've now definitely convinced myself rounding up was a good move here.

If someone gave this to me and I had nothing else to smoke, could I have this and have a decent experience? Absolutely. Yeah. I'd be totally, totally fine. Yeah. I wouldn't be upset. It wouldn't be a [01:23:00] bad experience. Absolutely. And that's a six. I I probably wouldn't be so thrilled. So, you know, in a pinch, if I didn't have something else, sure I'd smoke another.

Would I pursue this though? Definitely not. Okay.

**Pagoda:** Pagoda. So I'm at a seven and, uh, the reason is that I could definitely smoke it if someone handed it to me. It's not something I'd pursue, but it's a recommend because it is reasonably pleasant and it's a very easy smoke. And, you know, pairing with, with the armac.

It just worked well. I know it was a very pleasant evening today, so I'll leave it at seven.

**Bam Bam:** Nice. Okay. Bam. So I gave the Juan Lopez number one a nine. That is for me, an excellent cigar. It's in my regular rotation, the J L two, which we had tonight. It's always been for me. I've liked it. It's always been a step or two down, so I am gonna go with a seven, but it's a, for me, a respectable, I think seven's a respectable score for this particular cigar.

Seven for me. [01:24:00]

**Gizmo:** Okay. Formal lizard rating on the Juan Lopez Alexio number two. It's a 7.2,

**Bam Bam:** you know, and the, and the j l one got a 7, 7, 7, 7. Look at you. Bam. Well, it's a, it's fair. I think the j l one should

**Gizmo:** been, I think bam went back into the archive. I,

**Bam Bam:** I did earlier today.

**Gizmo:** He,

**Senator:** he, he remembers when he wants to.

**Bam Bam:** You mean I open up the internet once in a while? That's exactly

**Gizmo:** what it scored

**Bam Bam:** been, was the seven, seven, honestly, the JL one should have been an eight and over, in my opinion. I gave that a nine. I, that's for me, a fantastic Cuban. It really is, I think. Yeah.

**Gizmo:** But like I said, I mean, Juan Lopez needs age. They do.

So, yeah. You know, that's true. I mean, you, you smoke

**Rooster:** a box that's a little bit older and it will be like a higher rate.

**Gizmo:** I agree. Yeah. Yeah. If not nine. So I'm looking at, I'm looking at other rab robusto. It's definitely for, for a Cuban Rab Robusto, it's definitely on the lower end. Yeah. It's strange versus a lot of the

**Bam Bam:** others.

Um, but I think that's also happened. It happens to be the fact [01:25:00] that these don't come up on the market very often. They don't. And I, the jail, one or two, you don't see them. And I think's

**Gizmo:** not the flavor profile, I think the flavor profile, they're just not accessible. I think the flavor profile is also has an accessibility issue where yeah's, it's a very, very specific smoker.

It's a polarizing flavor profile.

**Senator:** Exactly. I really

**Bam Bam:** believe that. He's right. You know senator's, right? The woodiness and the earth notes. You don't, that's not a usual, those aren't usual notes that you get in a Cuban. Right. So it's

**Gizmo:** a little different. But

**Rooster:** the j but the j l one has fruit and floral

**Gizmo:** notes. Oh, big time.

**Bam Bam:** Yeah, big time. More so than the jail. That's more quintessential Cuban. Yeah.

**Gizmo:** All right, boys, a great night. So on the darti long, I gotta figure out how to say that, man. Armen, it

**Bam Bam:** makes me laugh every fucking time. Gizmo,

**Senator:** once you, once you master Spanish, you need to work on that, by the way,

**Gizmo:** for you. I am so deep into Spanish right now.

Oh, on babble. That's awesome. What? What you got? Oh, I, I'm like, don't test me now. I'm like [01:26:00] 38 lessons in really? Put both. I'm killing it. So how about, how about you say

**Rooster:** in Spanish, I really

**Gizmo:** liked this cigar. Oh boy. Me. Gusta. Laco. Wow.

**Bam Bam:** Oh my. Look. Look at you.

**Pagoda:** I think maybe next time we talk about battle,

**Bam Bam:** I think he's prepping for his next Cuban trip, is what he is doing.

**Gizmo:** Exactly. My man. All right. So a 9.0 on the Darti Long Armac xo and a 7.2 for the Juan Lopez XiO. Number two, Rob Robusto tonight. Excellent night, boys. Sure. And

**Pagoda:** just one last comment. I, I don't think Spanish is gonna be held.

It's gonna be Chinese or Russian.

**Gizmo:** It's true. I should probably switch my, uh, my preferences next. Next trip. We're gonna

**Senator:** be paying in rubles. That's true.

**Bam Bam:** I hope not.

**Gizmo:** All right, boys, a great night. We'll see you next week. Hope you enjoyed this episode. Thanks for joining us. You can find our merch store and ratings archive at our brand new website, [01:27:00] lounge lizards pod.com.

That's lounge lizards p o d.com. Don't forget to leave us a rating and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform. If you have any comments, questions, if you wanna reach out, say hello, tell us what you're smoking, email us hello@loungelizardspod.com. You can also find us on Instagram at Lounge Lizards Pod.

We really appreciate your time and we'll, uh, we'll see you next week.