601 Serie Box-Pressed Maduro (Blue)
Sports still helps to teach life lessons despite politically correct "rules"
I expect this to generate a little controversy among my readers, but every now and then you have to "stir the pot" just to make people think once in awhile. So let me set the stage:
It's a Babe Ruth league baseball game being played by boys ages 11 to12, the last game of the season with tournament seeding implications. There is one out in the last inning, with my 12-year-old son on second base, our team down by one run. The batter hits a line drive in the gap, the outfielder surprisingly cuts it off. Our coach sends my son around third to home, the outfielder makes a perfect throw to the catcher, who steps into the base path to block the plate and awaits my son who is three steps too late. My son instinctively decides that his best option is to put a shoulder down and go through the catcher, rather that attempting an almost sure to fail slide attempt. He hits the catcher in the chest, sending both he and the catcher airborne. The catcher ends up on his back a few feet behind the plate, my son lands on the plate. The ball is still in the catcher's mitt, but the mitt had been knocked off the catcher's hand on impact and lays on the ground. The umpire calls "out" and the roars from the spectators erupt. On our side, we cannot believe he is called out when the catcher has no control of the ball. I, for one, am going by the real and original rules of baseball and the rules that are still used in the games that young men watch on TV. The other side is thrilled to get the out, but also upset that their catcher was "trucked" (my son's description of what he did to the catcher). The catcher is a little shook up and crying, but it turns out that he simply had the wind knocked out of him.
My son appears a bit confused at all of this and I am pretty sure he was questioning whether he did something right or wrong. However, I could not help but notice the adrenalin he seems to be pumping and the high fives and respect he is getting from his team. In the end, it turns out that my son is out, due to the "no contact rule" that has been infused into this age-old game; a rule that is somewhat buried in the league rulebook.
The parental conundrum I face: Do I tell my child that he must always follow the rules (and should have slid into home in this scenario)? Do I tell him to ignore his instinct and slide, though it would have likely been a comical one at best, a sure out, and by doing so, he would forfeit a chance at tying the game at this critical point? Or, do I tell him that he did the right thing, because later on in the game of baseball and, more importantly, in the game of life, there are far fewer rules preventing you from "trucking" a competitor who is blocking you from a goal or achievement that you have as equal a right to achieve as he has. I wish I could have considered this over an hour-long smoke, before having to take a position, but I did not have the luxury of doing so. Instead, I fell back on one of the stronger viewpoints that I hold true about the role of parenting: As a parent, it is my role to teach and prepare my child for adulthood, or what I call the "real world." Over the years, I have found my children's sporting endeavors offer plenty of opportunity to do so. I, as did a number of other adults and teammates, told him, "You did the right thing." I explained my position to my son further on the drive home and went as far as to advise, "if you are faced with that same situation in a game down the road, don't even think about it -- "truck" that catcher again!" My rational: that is how the real game is played! At a minimum, you will send a message to your coaches, teammates, and your opponents that you are a fierce competitor and you will gain their respect!
The next time I put the flame to a cigar, I thought about it in more depth and I am thankful that I chose the advice that I gave. For the most part, I believe I did the right thing.
So, let's get smokin'!
601 Serie Box-Pressed Maduro (Blue)
Size: 5.2 inches long, 52 Ring Gauge
Price: $8 to $9
The cigar is a product of El Rey de los Habanos, Inc., which translates to, "The King of Havana Cigars." El Rey was started in the United States and is considered by many to be one of the best cigar factories in the Miami area. The company has since added a Nicaraguan factory, which is where this 601 cigar originated. According to the company's website, El Rey is headed by Jose "Pepin" Garcia, a master cigar maker who was considered one of the best cigar artisans in Cuba.
- Wrapper: Maduro (Nicaragua)
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
I smoked this on a warm summer Sunday, with a steady breeze blowing across me as I lay in my hammock. The 601 Serie comes in a couple of different variations: red, black, green and blue. This was the dark maduro-wrapped blue variation that I chose to smoke. The cigar boasts a Cuban-seed Nicaraguan binder securing a mixture of Cuban-seed, long-leaf tobaccos grown in Nicaragua. I was a little concerned, as Pepin cigars tend to be full bodied and full powered and I had not eaten that much yet. Nonetheless, I moved forward with my intent of smoking it and I made sure I was sipping only water to keep the palate clean.
Look and feel
The dark wrapper is attractive, with a smooth texture with light veins. It is fitted with three applied caps in true Cuban fashion. The pre-light aroma is somewhat sweet, with a somewhat earth aroma. The cigar is box-pressed, and it felt balanced and weighty in the hand.
Aroma and Taste
In the initial puffs, the cigar showed a black cherry, smoky flavor with an obvious peppery finish, but it did not take long to blend these flavors nicely, occasionally offering a vanilla and earthy tone. Certainly a rich, full-bodied smoke as you would expect with a Pepin cigar. The good news – I never felt overpowered by the cigar's level of nicotine, something that Pepin cigars traditionally deliver a fair amount of. As I smoked through the halfway point, I found the peppery aftertaste subsiding enough to provide a great smoke! The ash, which tended to be mostly white, stayed intact through the halfway point, signifying a quality, well-made cigar.
The second half of the cigar showed more earthly flavors and a strong, espresso-like richness. I found the cigar to be nicely complex in flavor and aroma. With just the nub left, I did feel the cigar began to burn a little hot and tended get slightly harsh.
RATING: 9.1 (on a scale of 1 to 10) – I will definitely smoke this cigar again. Though it is clearly a full-bodied cigar, its smoothness makes it a very tolerable full-bodied cigar choice.
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"Sometimes you just gotta say, 'What the f*@#.'" –Tom Cruise in "Risky Business"