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Ashton Cabinet

The Ashton Cabinet is a luxury cigar, both in its build and flavor profile. Its tobaccos are aged 4-5 years and it results in a flavorful, mild profile with touches of citrus, honey, cashews and cedar. The Ashton Cabinet is one of hundreds that are available to order from Holt’s Cigar Company.

I smoked the Ashton Cabinet in the #7 size, which measures 6 ¼ inches (length) by a 52 ring gauge (thickness). It’s solidly built with a smooth, creamy wrapper with tasting notes of black pepper and nuts. While the overall strength level and flavor profile of this cigar is quite mild, there is a nice, balance selection of flavors to enjoy as you smoke it through.

I paired the Ashton Cabinet with a cocktail that’s easy to make: the Black Manhattan. Consisting of 2 oz whiskey (rye or bourbon preferred), 1 oz Averna, 2 dashes of bitters and a cherry garnish, the Black Manhattan turned out to be an excellent companion to the Ashton, as both share a prominent and complementary flavor profile. Averna, an Italian amaro (Italian for “bitter”), is a rich and flavorful collection of herbs and citrus that complemented the Ashton so well, I was pretty shocked.

Together, the Aston Cabinet from Holt’s and a Black Manhattan are excellent companions. The intermingling of the nutty and citrus notes and the excellent quality of the cigar ensured a long and pleasant pairing experience.

Thanks to Holt’s Cigar Company for sponsoring Simple Guy Stuff. Enter the promo code SIMPLE at check out and receive a complimentary 10% discount on your purchase! Discount is available online only. Certain exclusions apply. Offer expires January 31, 2018 – cannot be combined with other coupon codes.  Limit one discount per customer.​

Father’s Day Gift Guide, presented by Holt’s Cigar

father's day gifts

Every year, I like to go on the hunt for awesome and unique Father’s Day gift ideas for readers. This year, Holt’s Cigar is presenting an awesome collection of really cool stuff for readers of both Simple Guy Stuff and our sister site Simple Cocktails. I’m excited to present this year’s list:

new mexico books

Local literature: $20-50. I have been a New Mexico native most of my life and my state pride has grown gradually. This year, I got my hands on 2 newer books published here that and distinctly New Mexican. Look into My Eyes: Nuevomexicanos por Vida, ’81-’83 (buy at Amazonis a photo book from a very specific snapshot of time in New Mexico’s history: 1981 to 1983 and it’s an amazing mashup of hispanic and 1980s culture. ¡Órale! Lowrider: Custom Made in New Mexico (buy at Amazon) is another one of those precious snapshots of our local culture in beautiful color with great historical context of the significance of “dropping” your Chevy Impala.

fidget spinners

Fidget spinners: $20-70. Clearly this is a fad on one saw coming, but you can now find plastic 3-pointed spinners in just about every gas station or roadside stand in this country. I wanted to illustrate what a more “fatherly” spinner looks like, so I got some spinners from UltraSpinners and Syner-EDC. UltraSpinners have a variety of spinners ranging from $20 to $150, but I stuck with their Ergo line, which has 3 options in materials and weight. The Ergo Aluminum is $20 and a lightweight but “grown-up” alternative to plastic spinners. Ergo Omega and Alpha are both brass, for $55 and $60 respectively, and only differ in weight and thickness. I also picked up a Triple Mini Spinner from Syner-EDC (pictured bottom) for $40, which offers customizable bearing caps is various materials.

monowear apple watch band

Apple Watch Band: $85. Monowear makes a new and apparently very-popular Apple Watch band out of perforated leather that’s classy. They match the hardware to the watch color (a must in my book) and the band’s available in chestnut, black and grey (I got grey). As a daily Apple Watch wearer, I always love having more options to accessorize and match my tech with my clothes for the day.

bicycle cocktail and beer cards

Playing Cards: $5 a deck. I picked up Cocktail Party, Craft Beer, and Craft Brewers decks from Bicycle – it’s a fun way to jazz up your poker games with some “fatherly” knowledge of cocktail recipes and craft beer. Plus they cost next-to-nothing!

balvenie caribberan cask 14

Scotch Whisky: $85. Scotch is particularly suited for gifts because if often comes in a gift-worthy sleeve. For this Father’s Day, I picked up The Balvenie 14-year-old Caribbean Cask, a spicy, vanilla-forward sipper that pairs beautifully with the next gift idea…..

cigars - holt's

Cigars: $5 and up. From Holt’s Cigar Company, our sponsor for this Gift Guide, we’ve got a great selection of smokes in our humidor (stay tuned for upcoming pairings at Simple Guy Stuff). For Father’s Day, Holt’s recommends the Royal Flush Super Sampler, one of many great options in their Father’s Day Cigar Deals category. Special thanks to Holt’s for their sponsorship of Simple Cocktails and Simple Guy Stuff!

Ashton Virgin Sun Grown (VSG)

ashton vsg

Ashton Virgin Sun Grown (or VSG) is a central blend in the acclaimed Ashton portfolio. For more than 30 years, the Ashton brand has been a favorite among lovers of premium, handcrafted cigars. VSG debuted in 1999 and is renowned for a smooth, but potent profile of aged Dominican tobaccos beneath a succulent Ecuador Sumatra wrapper leaf. Holt’s Cigar Company hosts a phenomenal selection of cigars online, perfect for any cigar lover looking to purchase and taste every available variety of Ashton VSG.

As I fired up the blend, an enticing profile of cedar, espresso and dark chocolate showered my palate with creamy Dominican spices and a luscious complexity. Ashton cigars are blended and handcrafted by the legendary Fuente family in the Dominican Republic. The family’s patient aging of select tobaccos truly distinguishes VSG with iconic flavor.

I was particularly drawn to the cigar’s format, a VSG Illusion, which is 6 ½ (inches) by a 44-ring-gauge (thickness). The long, somewhat slender shape provides ample room for savoring a wealth of tasteful transitions, from the beginning puffs down to the nub.

ashton vsg and rum

I paired my cigar with a “new” rum from Bacardi: Havana Club Añejo. Although Havana Club has been around for quite some time when you consider its historic Cuban origins, Bacardi has introduced the blend to the U.S. by distilling it in Puerto Rico to work around the ongoing Cuban trade embargo.

The rum’s natural sweetness merged elegantly with VSG’s creamy spices and bold, woody aromas. I highly recommend that fans of rum and cigars indulge in the luxurious combination presented by Bacardi and Ashton, a pair of classic, world-renowned brands. A supremely satisfying experience awaits!

Thanks to Holt’s Cigar Company for sponsoring Simple Guy Stuff. Enter the promo code SIMPLE at check out and receive a complimentary 10% discount on your purchase! Discount is available online only. Certain exclusions apply. Offer expires January 31, 2018 – cannot be combined with other coupon codes.  Limit one discount per customer.​

Sensor Push

sensor push cigars

Cigar lovers everywhere seem to be locked in a battle of always trying to keep their sticks at just the right temperature and humidity. From humidors to coola-dors to tupper-dors, smokers know that too little or too much humidity will lead to unpleasant smoking or worse, critters like tobacco beetles.

Up until now, I’ve used a digital hygrometer to read the humidity in my humidor, and it’s been very unreliable. Lately, it’s stopped giving me a readout at all for some reason. Hygrometers, both digital and analog, require regular calibration, and ultimately, I’m too lazy to do all that….but I love my cigars to be well cared-for.

sensor push cigars

Now, I’ve discovered a device that does what I need, and allows me to be as paranoid at monitoring my moisture levels as I want: Sensor Push. A small self-enclosed device that is just set-it-and-forget-it, Sensor Push gives you temperature and humidity readings on an app in your smartphone. Each sensor retails for $50 at Amazon and you can use as many as you’d like.

Setting up a Sensor Push device is easy: open their free app, then tap “add device.” Hold your sensor up to the screen, and it conpairs. It connects with bluetooth from the device to your phone, so as long as you’re within 30-50 feet of your sensor, it’ll constantly send data to your phone. If you’re not close enough to the sensor, though, it stores data up to 20 days while it waits for your phone to be back in range.

Sensor Push has also introduced a wifi gateway for $100 that allows you to monitor temperature and humidity from anywhere you have internet. It’s not required, but if you’re away from your sensor a lot, you may want to consider it.

sensor push charts

(Click to zoom).

I’ve been using 2 Sensor Push devices for the last 2 weeks, one in my humidor and one in my living room. I’ve been really happy with the data the app provides, especially compared to my old junky hygrometer (which consistently reported the wrong humidity). Above are some screen shots of the Sensor Push app at work, just click to view the image in high-res. Note that on my humidor sensor, I’ve set a range of temperature and humidity I want it to remain at. If my humidor drops below 58% humidity, it warns me with a notification.

As a cigar smoker who lives in a desert climate, Sensor Push is proving to be invaluable in the both accuracy of its data and the long-term outlook of using the device. The company says battery life is 1-2 years and calibration is basically never required.

Nomad Modern Apple Watch Band and Pod Pro

nomad watch band and pod pro

Nomad Goods continues to produce a nice assortment of accessories for iPhones, Apple Watches and iPads. I had the chance to try out their Leather Charging Wallet (with built in Lightning cable) here recently.

Now I’ve got a few Apple Watch accessories to try out: their Modern Leather Strap and Pod Pro, a charger/backup battery in one.

nomad modern apple watch band

It’s become critical to me that the hardware on an Apple Watch band actually match my watch, meaning that bands would need to be available with black or silver hardware. As you can see in the image above, Nomad really nailed it with this hardware. Many low-end band manufacturers seem to pay no attention to the fact that lots of people have black Apple Watches, and I’ve very grateful that Nomad takes care of the little details like this.

For many, this may be a minor thing, but the strong, bulky, unique hardware is my favorite part of this band. And it is available in silver, too, to match all watch hardware. There’s one other thing they did right, too: the black hardware buckle will sometimes rub off on a leather band like this one (I have a cheap band like this and that’s happened), but Nomad’s hardware has been colored in a way that prevents this.

Speaking of the leather band, this is the same stuff from the wallet that I reviewed: high-quality, Horween leather. It’s outstanding as well, and together with the thoughtful hardware, this band is well worth its $60 price.

nomad pod pro open

The Pod Pro ($80) is Nomad’s solution to what seems to be an always-short battery life on our devices. Using your current Apple Watch charging cable, the Pro assembles as a 6000 mAh disc that will charge both your Watch and your iPhone. A Lightning cable is built in, so you only really need a USB micro cable to keep both devices charged. For a weekend trip, the Pod Pro is probably the only charger you’ll need.

nomad pod pro

There are only a few visible parts once the device is closed with its magnetic lid. Pictured from left above, you see the built in Lightning cable, the USB micro charging port, the battery level indicator, and the power button. The top is made from anodized aluminum and the bottom from plastic with a non-slip base.

Nomad has generously offered to give Simple Guy Stuff readers a Modern Leather Strap and a Pod Pro. Enter below to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dash Wallets

dash wallets

Dash Wallets is rooted in several successful Kickstarter campaigns, all with the goals of creating slim, sustainable, and affordable wallets in San Francisco.

Dash never really says if they intend their wallets for front- or back-pocket use, and because of this, I’m pretty sure it’s up to you how you carry them. I had the chance to try the Dash 3.0 Saffiano Slim ($40) and the Dash 4.0 ($25) wallets.

dash wallets

The Dash 3.0 is a leather (vegan option available) pouch with 2 vertical pockets (see photo immediately above) and 1 horizontal pocket (see top photo). It can easily carry up to about a dozen cards and cash. I’ve been using this model to carry my business cards in my front pocket when I go to business events.

dash wallets

The Dash 4.0 is a vertical wallet made from both leather and stretchy material with 2 pockets on one side and 1 on the other. There’s a cutout hole for pushing your cards out easily (see above). Because of the canvas, stretchy side, this wallet holds more cards than the more rigid leather-only models, up to about 20, and I found it very comfortable to carry in my front and back pocket.

dash wallets

I like the idea of the canvas stretch material as it keeps the size of the wallet itself to a bare minimum, and when you’re buying a wallet for minimalism, that’s important. This wallet is less rigid than the all-leather 3.0 version.

Dash Wallets are available from dashwallets.com and range in price from about $20 to the RFID-blocking versions at about $50.

Luminoodle Bias Lighting

luminoodle bias lighting

Several years ago, I heard about the benefits of backlighting your TV screen, in particular, that it’s easier on your eyes and increases the perceived contrast on the screen (Lifehacker link). At the time, I grabbed some cheap Ikea puck lights and wire-tied them to the back of my TV. That did the trick for a while, and until I upgraded the size of my TV.

luminoodle bias lighting

I began to investigate current options for TV backlighting (“bias” lighting as it’s called) and discovered that several brands now make self-sticking light strips that plug into the USB port on your TV (almost all modern TVs have USB), so they power on and off with your TV.

luminoodle bias lighting

The Luminoodle by Power Practical consistently showed up in my searches and is well-reviewed online, so I got the 3 meter model (the largest) in the pure white color. Once I tested the lights to make sure they worked, installation was really simple. I wiped down the installation area with alcohol, then peeled and stuck the Luminoodle around the back edge of my TV.

On a 55″ TV, the ‘Noodle had about 12″ of excess light tape, so I cut it off at the proper points (these are clearly marked – see the photo above). I didn’t install the noodle on the bottom of my TV because I didn’t have quite enough tape, but I only wanted the light to be on the top and sides of my screen.

luminoodle bias lighting

The size of the Luminoodle you get is based on your TV size – they’re available in 1, 2, and 3 meter options for $10, $15 and $20. Power Practical has a guide on their site and on Amazon for the size of noodle you should get for your TV.

luminoodle bias lighting

Now that it’s installed, the Luminoodle powers on with my TV, and even in the day time, it provides enough backlighting to improve the contrast of my screen. It’s pictured above in a pitch-black room. Since the lighting is installed on the tape, it’s a consistent, quality glow that really makes home-movie-watching a little more fun. Now I want to get a ‘Noodle for every TV in the house…

Just a note: the wall behind my TV is painted green, that’s why you see a green glow in the photo. Luminoodle does make their lights with color options and remote controls, too, and you can get them from Amazon here.

Allett Wallets for Men & Women

allett wallets

When it comes to wallets, I’m a bit of a minimalist – I usually only carry a few cards and just a little cash. I have found, though, that most “minimalist” wallets don’t have enough space for everything I want to carry, though: 3 credit cards, my driver’s license and a several business cards.

Regardless of how many times I’ve tried, though, I am not a front-pocket-wallet guy. I appreciate the size of them, but it drives me nuts to have my wallet up front all the time, even if it is small. So I’ve begun my quest for slim-but-roomy back pocket wallets, and Allett came up as an option.

allett wallets

Allett manufactures their wallets in San Diego from a combination of nylon and leather with the goal of slimness in mind. I got to try the Slim Original ($35) and asked my wife to try out the Slim Women’s ($45), both with leather exteriors and nylon interiors. Other options from Allett include RFID-blocking and coin-pouch wallets.

The slimness of these wallets is achieved through both smart design and slim materials. The wallets are designed as two-tier bi-folds, with 4 card pockets (pictured above) and 2 interior slots: one that matches the height of the wallet and one that’s half-height (the perfect size for bills, in fact). If you look at the top photo in this post, both wallets are completely full with cards and bills, and are still very thin. Both the men’s and women’s wallets will hold between 1 and 4-5 cards per pocket, so even if you tend to carry a lot of cards with you, these wallets will still serve you well because of the thinness of the materials themselves.

allett wallets

The Women’s Slim wallet, pictured above, adds two design elements and lots of color choices. The black leather wallet has teal interior vinyl and there are a total of 5 color combinations on the women’s wallets here.

As thickness of a women’s wallet is a little less critical than for men, assuming the women’s wallet will be in a purse and the men’s in a pocket. The women’s wallet adds a zippered coin pocket on the back and a magnetic closure.

I’ve had my Allett in my back pocket for about a month, and I have been really happy with it’s capacity and it’s comfort in my back pocket. Coming from a much thicker back-pocket wallet that I’d sometimes have to remove when I was in the car for long periods of time, it’s a refreshing and very well-designed product that fits the bill perfectly for us back-pocket wearers.

Twelve South Apple Watch Accessories

twelve south forte and time keeper

Based out of South Carolina, TwelveSouth makes high-quality accessories for Apple devices, including some for the Apple Watch. I got the chance to try their TimePorter and Forté accessories.

twelve south time keeper

When I travel, I rarely bring additional Apple Watch bands with me – I usually just pack my charger. The TimePorter is great for me, then, because it functions as a charger, charging stand and stores several watch bands, too. The charging cable is wrapped inside the case and pressed into the lid, with a little notch to run the USB cord out of the side of the case (see above). The cable storage, band storage, and charge-through functionality makes this a really handy choice for those who travel often with their Apple Watch.

twelve south time keeper

The size of an eyeglasses case, TimePorter easily fits in my carryon when I travel. Some may even consider getting a lipstick USB battery to actually charge their Watch in the case, no AC power required.

I’ll definitely be using the TimePorter for my Watch travel from now on – it’s available in white or black from Amazon here.

twelve south forte

There are a plethora of Apple Watch stands on the market and even the TimePorter above is technically a “stand” of sorts. Nearly all available Apple Watch stands require that you use your existing magnetic charger that came with the Watch, and the TwelveSouth Forté is no exception.

On the Forté, your watch can be displayed both vertically (see above) or horizontally (Nightstand Mode). There’s a curved arm that will allow you to charge your watch regardless of the type of watch band you use. Your charger magnet holds it very securely in place.

twelve south forte

The Forté is a solid stand, too, with a heavy weighted base and stainless trim with a black leather pad over the base. Your charging cable is pressed into the back of the stand (pictured above) and fits under a plastic ring to secure it into the top. There’s very little movement on your desk or table once you’ve set it down, because of the significant weight.

TwelveSouth’s Forté retails for $59, and once you hold it in your hand, you realize this is a weighty, quality stand, and worth the cost. Even the way the stand is packaged with a red ribbon to remove it from the box says “quality.” This is a good gift idea for the holidays.

Forté is available direct from TwelveSouth here.

Wood Mark Bands for Apple Watch

wood mark watch bands

I recently upgraded from an original Apple Watch to a newer Series 1, and I’ve begun to search for truly unique and useful accessories. The majority of bands for the Watch are duplicates of Apple’s assortment of bands, but my search did lead me to an awesome type of band that’s really attractive and unique: wooden Apple Watch bands!

wood mark watch bands

Wood Mark Watches out of Florida has a beautiful line of bands made from various woods, with a line of Apple Watch-specific wooden link bracelets. The materials, shown in the above image from left to right, are: black sandalwood/zebra wood, zebra wood, bamboo/black sandalwood, black sandalwood, and apple wood. The apple wood version (far right) is a limited edition that has just been released.

All bands are link-style with stainless steel mounting hardware and clasps. Bands are available from Wood Mark for both the 38mm and 42mm Watches for $79.99.

wood mark watch bands

I’m happy to say that the band clasps hold firmly all day, something I have not always experienced with 3rd party link bracelets. The variety of band colors and styles is great, too, as some are more casual/everyday like the apple wood or bamboo bands, while the all-black sandalwood is classy enough for formalwear (see photo below).

It would be nice to have the option to change the hardware color (that part attaches the band to the watch) to black so that the color fits seamlessly with the Watch hardware. As with other link bracelets on the market, the hardware to size your band is included, but be extra gentle during the initial resizing process. Wood is more delicate than steel, so you’ll want to take care to avoid scratching or cracking a link in the process.

wood mark watch bands

GIVEAWAY

We’ve teamed up with Wood Mark to give 5 readers of Simple Guy Stuff their own Wood Mark Apple Watch band (a $79.99 value), and it’s simple to enter. Just leave a comment on this blog post with your band style of choice and your watch size (38mm or 42mm), and you’ll be entered to win the giveaway! Note: comments have to be approved and may not show up immediately.

One entry per person. Open to U.S. residents only. We’ll draw 5 names at random from the comments on December 6, 2016, confirm your style choice, and Wood Mark will ship you your new Apple Watch band.

Good luck!