A Few of My Favourite Things: Scotch, Cigars and the Zippo Lighter

While I was out riding on my Ducati Monster, I had a moment of simple inspiration. To keep the focus of the blog on positive things and refrain from just listing the work I have been doing, I want to write about and photograph the things in the world that make life a little brighter. Off the bike, I decided to begin with an obvious still-life: Johnny Walker Blue, Romeo y Julieta and a chrome Zippo.

Cigars are one of those things that I really enjoy when there is time to sit and truly appreciate a moment. I am not the type of man who can smoke more than one a month, but when I do, I find that Romeo Y Julieta provide a nice, smooth smoke. When I was in Paris last summer, I decided to splurge on a box of 25 at the Duty-Free. Maybe it was a little romantic of me, because I have always remembered an empty cedar box that my Great Uncle Walter gave me as a child. I loved the cedar and tobacco smell, and I kept my Dungeon and Dragon lead figures in it for years. So one year later, I am down to two [correction: now I am down to one]. Yes, they are now dried out and brittle, as I don’t have a humidor nor do I really think I smoke enough to ever warrant one. No, I don’t mind if friends frown on their condition and try to tell me how to properly take care of cigars; the point is the box and the sharing with visitors who might appreciate spending thirty minutes smoking one with me. I do still get a little green from smoking a full cigar, but maybe that is part of the experience and why one a month is all I will ever want.

The Zippo lighter is an iconic design of beauty. I bought mine about eleven years ago in Montreal, and love how it feels in my hand. I know that it is a pain to replace the flints and the fluid, but I always take it when I travel and has lit more than a few fires in Algonquin Park. I do not need any special design or the blowtorch effect of more specialized lighters; the Zippo is an object that never loses its intrinsic masculinity for me.

Finally, I have one bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label in the studio for special occasions. At $250 a bottle, it is not the type of drink that comes out for anyone other than my closest friends when the mood commands a beautiful closure. When I met V. in Egypt two years ago, Blue Label was the one Scotch that she favoured – apparently due to a great night with some of her friends while travelling. I had never even heard of Blue before, and for good reason, but when she came home from South Africa I bought a bottle to celebrate her return. Scotch is an acquired taste, and it is certainly not the type of thing you want to drink too often. Personally, I appreciate the peaty flavours of a single malt Oban or Lagavulin a wee bit more than the Johnny Walker Blends, but if I could only choose one bottle, then it would probably be this one; it is smooth while still retaining the edge of the single malts.

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