You might still be tinkering around
with your holiday wish list, but GOM has
already done all the brain racking for you.
Dr. Homan, our eminent scholar of all
things high-class and necessary for the
good life, lls the void of must-haves this
holiday season. No need to second-guess
here—he’s on Santa’s speed dial. Just
tear out these pages and slap them up
on the refrigerator. e subsequent
waiting is agony, we know, but the
rewards will be that much sweeter
when all the packaging falls away.
Step one: Put heaps of dried
mud underneath some damp,
germinating barley. Step two: Ignite
so the smoke dries out the burning
mud and, thereby, stops the barley
from growing. Step three: Mash up,
ferment, and produce an alcohol.
Step four: Jam into a wood barrel
and let poach like a lurid tarn for
10 years or more. Step ve: Drink.
Sound like a bad dare? Well, the
end product is something I drink
almost everyday. It soothes me. e
Coming of Age
Dr. Keith B. Homan, Founder, Restorative Sciences
complexities and strength makes me feel
invigorated, reborn.
What is this rare elixir, this demon spirit
of dirt and earth? Scotch. What is the mud?
Peat. Very old, and very nasty. e kind of
stu you learn about only when you’re on
hour number ve of some cancelled-ight-
airport-psychosis and getting your change
from buying a New Scientist.
For reference, I’m a biologist, and
normally would be the last person to
put anything that comes from mud in
my pie hole. Especially peat, as the stu
brims with enough bacteria and
bizarre life forms to make J.R.R.
Tolkien brownout on a possibility
bender. Scotch made with peat is
divine, however. Knowing how it’s
made, and what that distinct taste
comes from heightens the enjoyment.
Sure, you can drink a Scotch
produced without peat charring.
You can also get yourself a room
temperature raspberry wine cooler and
throw in that grainy cassette of Knight
Rider, season one. If you can enjoy that,
maybe you shouldn’t be reading this.
If you can, however, nd a tulip
shaped glass—a snier or sherry copita
does nicely—and add a few drops (yes, just drops)
of water to the Scotch. Barring that, drink it neat
from any lip-friendly container within reach.
Either way, be sure to smell and drink it with a
languorous air. It helps.
Before that, though, here’s a brief peat
suggestion list. First, you want your stu from
Islay. Rugged, muddy, beautiful. A place where
the angry sea carves deep crevasses in the faces of
folks. Start with a Bruichladdich ‘brook laddie’,
Bowmore, Caol Ila ‘cull eela’, or a Ardbeg. en
step up to the World’s Strongest Man nalists:
Laphroaig ‘la froyguh’ and Lagavulin ‘laga voolin’.
Tackle them with an open mind and palate.
Once you’ve gured out this earthy beast
you’ll be enjoying it until you, yourself, are dirt.
So embrace the mud.
e cigar is a very interesting thing. It can serve as
a cherished event marker, a potent introspection
trigger, or a room-clearing thug, perhaps even
all three at once. It has a marvelously long and
complicated production process that culminates
in enjoyment via re. You’ve got to love that.
Cigar tobacco leaves begin their journey as
tiny seeds and, with proper care, turn into a full
plant 80 to 90 days aer sprouting. Add another
30 days until the end of the harvest, during which
No beffer place fo be fban af fbe boffom oF one oF fbese barrels.
time the average plant has been hen-picked and
analyzed some 150 times. A series of passages and
quests follow, which are designed to reduce the
water, sugar and ammonia content of the leaves
without producing a steaming load of mulch. Aer
harvest, leaves are put in a drying shed for over a
month. It’s all then stacked together and the
pressures of its own weight, and the water
carefully sprayed on it, combine to trigger a
fermentation process that drives o ammonia and
other nasty bits. e middle of the stack hovers
around 35 degrees. is gravity-induced purging
and renement continues for up to 50 days, all the
while the leaves are continually shued so none
• Try a big ring gauge (48 or above), long cigar
(seven inches or more). e large diameter
allows a nice avour punch and the length
allows for cooler smoke to hit your gums.
• Try for big avour and smoothness—not
so easy to get in one cigar. You can’t really go
wrong with higher-end oerings from Cuba,
the Dominican Republic, Honduras or
Nicaragua. Bolivar, Punch, Montecristo,
Romeo y Julieta, Cohiba and H. Upmann are
names you can trust. Once you nd a style
you like, experiment in that class, as there are
many more great producers of ne smokes.
• Light with a cedar strip or butane but not a
match as the chemicals in the match head will
impart a nasty taste to your cigar.
• Don’t smoke too fast as that can cause
overheating inside the cigar and ravage
the avor.
• At a gaming table, don’t blow on dealers or
pit bosses. Yes, they chose that profession, but
they don’t really want to breath a stranger’s
smoke all night, every night.
• Eat something soon aer you smoke to help
avoid cigar morning breath.
gets too hot and spoil. Aer this comes an aging
process (sometimes up to three years) and then,
you guessed it, another fermentation round—
this time even hotter and harder—for another
two months. en leave to age for another two
or three years.
en the beauty pageant nally begins.
Cigar producers unleash a team of experts to
gure out what leaves are going to form what part
of the cigar: the coveted, and beautiful ‘wrapper’,
the tenacious, yet oen underrated ‘binder’, or
the workman-like ‘ller’. Aer the selection
ceremonies our contestants begin yet more rounds
of anguish, including a 21-step hand-rolling
process with specialised knives, and a selection
of sundry excruciations via medieval-like racks,
weights and screws.
Aer all those years of tender, loving and
twisted care by the manufacturers you then
stumble on the scene and light that little
masterpiece on re.
1oday drylng leaves, maóana manna.
H. Upmann - a name you can frusf.
kolllng ln lf. kodak momenf ln a Cuban Feld oF dreams.
Still have some of that year-end bonus lying
around? Time to play the ‘What the Hell?’
card and throw down for this hero to the gods.
Just make sure you have some friends in town
to share the unforgettable experience. ere’s
wine and there’s exceptional wine…and then
there’s Pétrus. is wine, and this vintage,
should be on your must-do-before-I-die list:
an incredibly dynamic and evolving Pomerol
nose, a massive palate with trace acidity and
a layer cake of black fruits, Provencal herbs
and smoke. Velvety and sustaining beyond any
swanky lounge bar’s dream. Pure love. Heaven
on earth. Complement
with a medium-rare
Kobe ribeye and we’ll
understand a few tears
of joy. And isn’t that
what the holiday season
is all about? £5,725 for
a magnum. Contact
Berry Bros & Rudd,