Tonight’s Tasting: C.E.O. Red Label Cigar and Shipyard Imperial Porter

C.E.O. Red Label Cigar (5 x 50)

This is a real mystery cigar.  I think I actually bought a five-pack of C.E.O. cigars, based on a vague memory that I exclaimed, “what the hell are C.E.O. cigars?” when the package came in the mail.  I think they were an impulse buy on Cigar Monster, ordered so quickly and without investigation that I thought I was buying CAO cigars.  Since receiving them, I have used them in my humidor to place behind other “real” cigars so they don’t slide backwards when I open certain drawers.  Quite the ignominious existence for a cigar.  Today on a whim I decided to smoke one of these drawer-stops in case it turned out to be a surprise find.

I was unable to find anything about the cigar on the Internet, and that’s why I’m going to go into some extra detail here, to assist anyone in the future trying to track these down. had a little squib on it’s site, stating: “C.E.O. are impeccably constructed cigars with a diverse blend of longfiller tobaccos and wrappers spanning five nations, all aged from three to five years. Made by Arganese Cigars, we bought these cigars as a closeout and are passing the savings on to you. You get five unique cigars in all, spanning the entire range of strengths and rich tobacco flavors. Blue and Green are full; Red and Orange: medium; Yellow: mild.”

With a little more investigation, I think I found why Famous Smoke Shop (the company behind Cigar Monster and Cigar Advisor) was able to buy these cigars on closeout.  Inside the cigar band is the non-functioning web address  It appears that these cigars were intended to be part of some strange multi-level marketing plan; the cigar smoker’s answer to Amway.  That also explains why the cigar band says Connoisseur Entrepreneurs Organization.

There is nothing on the Arganese Cigar site about these cigars, so it appears they are no longer manufactured.  My four remaining sticks may be real collector’s items.  Drop me a note if you want them.  Opening bid, $1,000 per.

So how was the cigar?  Actually, pretty good.  I guess if you’re going to sell a cigar at a multi-level price, and call it a connoisseur’s cigar, it had better be decent.  I could tell from the moment I cut it that it was a well constructed cigar.  The CEO red label had some real complexity, without ever becoming harsh.  Tastes of spice and chocolate, and mellow to the end.  A strong 86 on The Morris Scale.  If you ever come across one, give it a try.  I’m looking forward to trying the blue and green labels, which are supposed to be more full bodied.  I know I’ll be moving these drawer stops to a more accessible location.

Shipyard Imperial Porter – Pugsley’s Signature Series

The CEO cigar looked pretty light, so I thought I’d balance it with a porter.  The Imperial Porter I selected is brewed by Shipyard Brewing Company in Portland, Maine.  Here is the company’s description of the Imperial Porter:

“Imperial Porter is a full bodied, very dark, malty beer with a good roasted character coming from the Crystal, Chocolate and Black Patent Malts used in the mash. Warrior, English Fuggles, and East Kent Goldings Hops balance the malts with a good hop bite. The beer has an OG* of 1.070, rounding out after fermentation with just a slight residual sweetness and cutting dry at the finish.”

This description discloses that Shipyard has misnamed the beer, because an “Imperial” porter should have an OG exceeding 1.090.**  But I pick nits.

I like this beer.  The beer pours so thick and dark that you anticipate something heavy, but you are met with a very nice, malty beer.  The mouth feel is thinner than I anticipated, but not in a bad way and I think that will greatly enhance the drinkability.  The description of “a good hop bite” is accurate, to the point that a hop head would probably find this beer a good choice.  Not my favorite porter, but a very worthy companion to a cigar.  I give it an 84.


* OG = Original Gravity

Everything you ever wanted to know about OG:

Gravity, in the context of fermenting alcoholic beverages, refers to the specific gravity of the wort or must at various stages in the fermentation. This article focuses primarily on the brewing industry. The concepts and equations are basically the same in the wine making industry.

Gravity (specific gravity) measurements are used to determine the “size” of the beer, its alcoholic strength and how much of the available sugar the yeast were able to consume (a given strain can be expected, under proper conditions, to ferment a wort of a particular composition to within a range of attenuation, that is, they should be able to consume a known percentage of the extract).

At various stages in alcohol fermentation, the density of the wort varies. Depending upon the depth that the hydrometer falls into the wort, the percentage of alcohol can be determined.

Initially (before alcohol production by the yeast commences) the specific gravity of a wort is dependent mostly on the amount of sugar present and, therefore, specific gravity readings can be used to determine sugar content by the use of formulae or tables. This sugar content is expressed in units of grams of sugar per 100 grams of wort equivalent to % w/w and called, in the brewing industry, “degrees Plato” (abbreviated °P) and in the wine industry “degrees Brix”. Even when specified in terms of °P it is not uncommon to refer to the pre-fermentation reading as the “Original Gravity”, (abbreviated OG) though it is more correct to term it the “Original Extract” (abbreviated OE). It is, of course, correct to refer to the original specific gravity reading as the OG. By considering the original sugar content the brewer or vintner obtains an indication as to the probable ultimate alcoholic content of his product. The OE is often referred to as the “size” of the beer and is, in Europe, often printed on the label as Stammwürze or sometimes just as a percent. In the Czech Republic, for example, they speak of “10 degree beers”, “12 degree beers” and so on.

As fermentation progresses the yeast convert sugars to carbon dioxide, ethanol, more yeast and flavor producing compounds. The decline in the sugar content and the presence of ethanol (which is appreciably less dense than water) both contribute to a lowering in the specific gravity of the wort so that the formulae relating sugar content and specific gravity no longer apply. Nevertheless, by monitoring the decline in SG over time the brewer obtains information about the health and progress of the fermentation and determines that it is complete when gravity stops declining. A gravity measurement taken at this time compared to the original gravity reading can be used to estimate the amount of sugar consumed and thus the amount of ethanol produced. Specific gravity is measured by a hydrometer, pycnometer or oscillating U-tube electronic meter.

** Everything you ever wanted to know about porters and “Imperial” porters.

Before 1700, London brewers sent out their beer very young and any aging was either performed by the publican or a dealer. Porter was the first beer to be aged at the brewery and despatched in a condition fit to be drunk immediately. It was the first beer that could be made on any large scale, and the London porter brewers, such as Whitbread, Truman, Parsons and Thrale, achieved great success financially.

Early London porters were strong beers by modern standards. Early trials with the hydrometer in the 1770s recorded porter as having an OG (original gravity) of 1.071° and 6.6% ABV. Increased taxation during the Napoleonic Wars pushed its gravity down to around 1.055°, where it remained for the rest of the 19th century. The huge popularity of the style prompted brewers to produce porters in a wide variety of strengths. These started with Single Stout Porter at around 1.066°, Double Stout Porter (such as Guinness) at 1.072°, Triple Stout Porter at 1.078° and Imperial Stout Porter at 1.095° and more. As the 19th century progressed the porter suffix was gradually dropped. British brewers, however, continued to use porter as the generic term for both porters and stouts.  Thank you Wikipedia.

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