A Few of My Favorite Things – 2018 Edition
The older I grow; the faster time goes. It seems that each year starts and in the blink of an eye is gone. Sure, there are days that seem longer than others, but in the end time flies. Reflecting on this understanding, I find it crucial to remanence on those things that brought me happiness and joy during the small, quick amount of time known as 2018. Understandably, my family and health are among the top of the list, however, I do not feel either of those things need to be listed as they are considered a given.
Similar to last year’s post, there is no structure or method to this list, rather, just other hobbies I enjoy and things I find special. I hope you enjoy this list and if given the opportunity, take advantage of some of my favorite things (including pipe smoking) that have shown me joy throughout 2018.
Favorite Beer of 2018
Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Wheat
Some of you very well may be disappointed by my choice, but this seasonal selection really hit the spot for me this year. Undoubtedly, fall is my favorite season for beer selections. There is something special about the pumpkin, wheat, cinnamon, spice, and molasses beer crafters manipulate in order to create these wonderful brews. For me, Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Wheat was the perfect balance for my fall beer palate. Offering tastes of pumpkin, clove, malt, and nutmeg, this medium bodied amber ale will warm your insides while satisfying your autumnal palate’s cravings. If continued in 2019, be sure to pick some up for yourself and enjoy as you watch the leaves turn and temperature change.
Favorite Spirit of 2018
Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey
Maybe it’s a blast from the past, maybe it’s the comfort and familiarity I have with this spirit. Either way, Crown Royal has drawn my interest more so than any other whiskey or bourbon this past year. I recall drinking more than my fair share of this liquor during my undergraduate college days and coming back to it this past year was like visiting with a long-lost friend. For me, this Canadian Whiskey is best enjoyed with a sweet ginger ale. In fact, I like to call the mix a Canadian Ginger. For those who may be interested, the recipe goes something like this:
- Fill your favorite whiskey glass to the rim with large cubed ice
- Pour 2 oz of Crown Royal slowly over the ice
- Add 1 ½ oz of Ginger Ale to bring the mix to the rim of the glass
- Stir lightly
- Select your favorite cigar or pipe and tobacco
- Put on a great jazz album
- Sip, smoke, soak up the sounds, and enjoy
As long as you follow this recipe to the ‘t’, the outcome will yield positive results. I promise!
Favorite Wine of 2018
Castillo de Monseran Garnacha
Originating in Cariñena, Aragon Spain this bold, full-bodied Garnacha satisfied time and time again over 2018. Even during the warmer summer evenings, Castillo de Monseran proved to be both balanced and fulfilling. The bouquet/nose from the glass is richly accented with garden fresh rose, vanilla, burnt woods, and spice. Tasting notes evidenced sweet and sour berries, licorice, and dark chocolate flavors. Easily paired with a spaghetti/meat sauce dish, or favorite pizza, Castillo de Monseran Garnacha is an excellent wine at a very affordable price ($9.99 a bottle).
Favorite Board Game of 2018
This War of Mine
Originally released as a video game for all the major entertainment systems, This War of Mine has been adapted as a multi-player cooperative board game (everyone plays together against the game’s design). Essentially, the city you live in has come under attack from an outside militia group causing a war to break out trapping several civilians in the city with no way of escape. Your role is to survive in the city until the war ends with limited housing and basic resources. The game design is so thorough, randomized, and detailed you could literally play the game 500 times and never have the same outcomes/scenarios. In fact, I have played this game at least 40 times over the past year and never managed to beat it (survive until the end). I have come very close on multiple occasions, however, due to the randomization of events, and shear bad luck, I have never beat the game. Believe it or not, I find this quality to be very appealing as the game is not a ‘shoe-in’ to beat it after only a couple of plays. When purchasing and playing a board game, I want to be challenged. Forcing myself to critically think and be more strategic is a quality I enjoy in gaming, which is exactly why This War of Mine is hands down my favorite board game of 2018.
Favorite Book of 2018
Twenty-Six Days: A Mystery of Victorian England by: Regis McCafferty
Similar to many of you reading this, I am a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes and the Victorian England mystery novel genre in general. Twenty-Six Days, written by a still living pipe smoker, Regis McCafferty (who’s also a NASPC member), follows the final case of McCafferty’s English pipe smoking detective Joshua Pitt. Easily finished over the course of one day, Twenty-Six Days offers adequate suspense and intrigue coupled with plenty of pipe and tobacco related material (and a little love affair on the side). In fact, I enjoy the novel more for the pipe and tobacco related content than the actual mystery trying to be solved. If you are a fan of pipe smoking literature and mystery in an era long gone, you will enjoy Twenty-Six Days. If nothing else, give it a read and support a fellow brother of the briar.
Favorite Music Album of 2018
Streamin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet (1989 Remaster)
Not that I needed another hobby or interest, however, 2018 opened my eyes and ears to the world of vinyl. I recall my parents, during my childhood years, listening to records on our massive (at least at that time) stereo system, with full dual tape deck, AM/FM radio, and vinyl options. Now, 30 years later, I find the oh so familiar sounds of vinyl a friendly welcome to my ears.
Being nowhere near the size of my tobacco cellar, I have now started my vinyl record collection which mainly consists of jazz, swing standards, and orchestral selections. One such album that really caught my attention was Steamin’ with the Mile Davis Quintet. I find the album to have the perfect balance of upbeat improvisation and dramatic late-night classic swing. From start to finish, this album takes me back to an era when swing was king and talent superseded fame and fortune.
Favorite Cigar of 2018
Cohiba Behike 54 (MES JUL 11)
For those who actually read My Favorite Things 2017 list, you will note the final category in 2017 was Favorite TV Show. Believe it or not, I have virtually cut television out of my life over the past year. No, I had no intent or goal of making such a change in my life, however, having four children, full time job, and other interests, there really is no time for television in my schedule. What have I learned? I don’t miss it. In fact, I’m not sure why people revolve their schedules around certain TV shows??? If you are one of those people that’s fine, I’ve just found more joy in other things this year. Therefore, I wanted to share something I have enjoyed during 2018 and have for several years, cigars.
I do manage to smoke a fair number of cigars during the year and have an extensive collection aging for future enjoyment. Similar to my pipes and tobaccos, cigars have their own place in my heart and can offer pure moments of relaxation and bliss to the seasoned aficionado. This year, my favorite cigar was unquestionably the Cohiba Behike 54. I know, those of you who are knowledgeable about cigars are complaining that this cigar is not a mass market/readily available smoke. Even in countries that legally sell Cuban cigars, the Cohiba Behike line is a difficult and expensive find. I managed to pick a box of these glory sticks up (they come in boxes of 10) in 2010 before the mass market hiatus began. Delivering a sweet, creamy, smooth smoke with tastes of light grass/hay, nougat, vanilla, and fresh coffee this cigar is a true masterpiece. I understand why they cannot be found in stock and when they are, the price tag is extraordinary. If you are ever afforded the opportunity to smoke a Cohiba Behike do not pass it up. These cigars truly are special.
Thanks again for taking the time to stop by The Pipe Professor webpage. Stay tuned for my Top 5 Pipe Tobaccos of 2018 in the coming weeks along with the mystery tobacco review for December 2018. As always, cheers to a happy and successful 2019!