Afghanistan Campaign Medal Watch Band

As many of you who know me might already be aware, I have taken steps to produce the next piece in my line of Campaign Medal Watch Bands designed for Veteran Professionals.

ACM watch strap image

I am extremely proud of this Afghanistan Campaign Medal watch band, as I am sourcing the materials through another veteran owned business, and I was able to get my Gentleman Ranker logo engraved on the buckle of the band. I am pleased with the result and hope that y’all like it too!

Afghanistan Campaign Medal Watch Band

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Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

008I would like to congratulate all of the graduating cadets from Britain’s Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. As these newly commissioned lieutenants step into their roles and take command of formations in the British Army they are continuing a proud tradition.

I would especially like to congratulate the three “Royal Cadets” who graduated: Crown Prince Hussein of Jordan, Prince Sebastien of Luxembourg, and Prince Wenzel of Liechtenstein. Far too often in this day and age people of wealthy or historical families simply choose to reject the idea of military service as somehow beneath them or simply not of any interest, and this is very sad. What better way to learn to lead your nation than by serving and leading in it’s military? I have heard it said that nobility is defined by one’s responsibilities, not by one’s privileges, and I could not agree more. Congratulations once again to these graduating Royal Cadets, because far too often those of the nobility forget what it truly means to be noble.

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Publishing on the go…

Like so many people these days, I find myself on the go far more often than I would probably like to be, and as such, my phone is never far from my hand. 

In light of these facts, I am giving some thought to trying to publish more from my phone rather than my computer. I promise the quality of my work will bot drop, and that publishing from my phone will not turn my articles and opinions into Twitter posts. 

I will play around with posting photos as well. Thanks, and hopefully this will help me produce more and varied content.

Gentleman Scholar

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Gentleman Ranker

“…Sings a Gentleman of England, cleanly bred, machinely crammed, and a trooper of the Empress, if you please…”
~Rudyard Kipling, Gentleman Rankers

Gentleman Ranker Logo

The fact that I served in the US Army and spent a significant portion of that career deployed overseas should not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me or reads this blog. I have published posts in the past that have mentioned this, and others that have decried the idea that military service is no longer fashionable – more to the point (or, rather, an actionable objective) the military is no longer associated with what is fashionable, or glamorous. More often than not, military veterans are represented as vulgar, bearded, boisterous, and full of bravado rather than the determined, thoughtful, and skilled professionals that I know them to be. These days in order to show pride in one’s military service or combat experience, a veteran is limited to a t-shirt covered in skulls, or an oICM Imageperator hat with a Velcro flag on it. I wanted to change that.

I have started a brand called Gentleman Ranker to help give veteran professionals more options when it comes to showing their pride in service and experience. To begin, I designed a series of NATO watch bands in the colors of the Iraqi Campaign Medal – of which I, myself and many of my friends, are veterans.


Military service used to be quite fashionable – the first Airborne wings were solid silver and made by Tiffany’s & Company. Brooks Brothers started off tailoring officers’ uniforms in NYC in 1818. Burberry’s iconic Trench Coat was originally quite literally designed for WWI soldiers fighting in the trenches. I was looking for a way to bring that back – in a similar way that the British military does with their regimental ties, lapel pins, and formal traditions. Inspired by the British Guards Division NATO watch strap (noticeably worn by many people who never served in the British military, but also, and with more pride, by those in the Guards).

I am trying to achieve this with Gentleman Ranker. Our first offer is the Iraqi Campaign watch band, but hopefully soon, with the support of other veterans and military members who also want a more subtle, classy way to show their service, we can expand to other campaigns (I already have requests for the Afghan Campaign and the GWOT service/expeditionary) and other forms of apparel.

I have set up an Amazon storefront in order to start selling these, and hopefully there is enough of an interest to expand from there. Please see my link below to take a look.

Gentleman Ranker – Iraqi Campaign Watch Band

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Bird Dog Kentucky Bourbon

Bird Dog Kentucky Bourbon

This is a new bourbon for me – and since I like to try new things and maintain new experiences, that gives it an automatic plus in my book.

With Bird Dog, the color is a deep, soft amber in the bottle, but lightens up considerably to a spun gold or straw once it is poured.

The color is telling on the nose, with a sweet aroma of heavy grains and hay or straw, with a distinct note of sour mash.

The flavor is light, and airy, without a lot of the heavy molasses that is common with many straight Kentucky bourbons. There is a smooth, soft, grainy caramel flavor to Bird Dog, with some significant, but mild heat. The burn is certainly there on the finish, but not in any way unpleasant. Overall, very good.

The finish has a bit of a numbing tingle, with a lingering flavor of straw and soft caramel at the end. It leaves you wanting another sip to start the process all over again.

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Casa Cuba Cigar Review

Casa Cuba – robusto

Dominican Republic

The pre-light feel and aroma of the Casa Cuba is soft and oily, with a bit of a give to it. Smells of aged tobacco, leather, and soft earth.

The Casa Cuba Lights up easily with no runs and an easy draw. Even the first few pulls give a good volume of rich smoke. The flavor comes out immediately as smooth and velvety, with notes of soft woods and leather. The aroma augments the wood flavor with sandalwood and even some floral hints.

There is a smooth, even, overall burn that doesn’t allow runs. This is a sign of a well rolled cigar, and while common enough in premium tobaccos, a good roll still gets notice.

The overall experience is nice, mild, but with a full flavor and rich smoke that I enjoyed immensely. This is one of a batch that I received from a distributor, so I cannot speak as to the retail price, but it is one that I will pay attention to and look out for the next time I am in a lounge.

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Notes on the BREXIT

I wish I could say that I saw this coming, but I truthfully did not. I feel for the British people, and I understand where they are coming from, but I did not think that the vote would swing toward an exit. Were I a British citizen, I would likely have cast my ballot in the exit camp, and many of my British friends and associates agree (though not all, by any means) but it certainly caught me by surprise.

I have never been much of a fan of the European Union. The lack of a national monetary policy is an issue for me, and the recent troubles in Greece, Portugal, and Spain have all gone to show this as a valid point. Britain, in truth, has never been a full-fledged partner on the financial side in choosing to keep the Pound sterling, and for good reason. This exit vote just goes to further break from a broken system.

Furthermore I feel that the cultural differences are too great to form an actually united Europe. There are comparisons to the United States as a union of independent states, but these are grasping comparisons, at best, and in my mind are immediately negated by the cultural similarities that the 13 American colonies shared when they became the United States, and then proceeded to develop as the expanded. Europe has no real way to do this.

There is a long political and economic analysis that I could do on this subject, but I doubt that such an article would be too terribly interesting to my readers, and they are likely already inundated by such information on their current news feeds (meaning actual news, not Facebook) instead I will just say that I am somewhat shocked by the exit vote. I support the British exit (no matter what it might be doing right now to my investment accounts) and I think that in the long term this will be a good move for the UK, but I didn’t see it happening like this, and at this point (if I did, then it wouldn’t have had nearly the aforementioned negative impact.)

From the standpoint of this Gentleman and Scholar, tip o’ the hat to the British nationalists. You’ve decided that it isn’t ideal to have your cultural, financial, and foreign policies controlled and influenced by a far away, out of touch government across the water. No real surprise there. Cheers!

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Plans for the Future

So here I am again, with an unacceptably long hiatus between now and my last post, and a considerable about of time between that one and the one before it. I enjoy writing. I enjoy the subjects that I choose to write on for this blog, and I enjoy having it as part of my life, but I need to find a way to coordinate it all. I drink wine, but often it is with the amicable company that comes with a good bottle, and therefore do not feel like excusing myself to make notes on the nose, body, and flavor profile. I dress every morning for work, and often in the tailored slacks, sport coats, and brooks brothers polos that I post on Instagram and look at approvingly any time I window shop. I don’t, however, make up a story about each outfit in order to have something to write about… it is just something that I do as part of my life. I smoke cigars, but like with wine, I rarely do so alone. I am often surrounded by friends, peers, associates, and outstanding people of character. While I enjoy the smoke, and often carry on a lively conversation about it with my company, I am very seldom willing to tear myself away to put pen to paper and record my thoughts. This, of course, is something that I need to change, but I am not willing to surrender the parts of this lifestyle that make it enjoyable just to do that. If I did, then really, what is the point?

In light of this, I find myself posting to my Instagram account more often than anything else – even twitter (which I keep promising to use more often) and a big part of this might be my follower base on that medium and the instant gratification and feedback that I receive. It keeps things interesting, but at the same time, it is here, on the actual blog, where I can get my opinions and thoughts across – and hopefully someone reads them. My social media accounts associated with this blog are, of course, linked here, but I don’t know how many people who like a picture actually take the time to read an article associated with it. It is probably not many.

I don’t know what kind of changes I can make in order to differentiate this blog from others, or to force myself to put more information on it, but I can do what I can to try and make them. In the future look for shorter, more specialized posts, but I am running the razors edge between an easy read and good writing. I’d like to focus on more gentlemanly and scholarly issues than the more esoteric and vanity inducing quick posts on fashion or wine (though I will still do those posts too) and I will try to integrate pictures and images more often into what I do – if for no other reason to coordinate across social media and my established blog.

I would also be interested in other ways to monetize what I am doing here – affiliate marketing of course, but also I might look into my own accessory sales or self-published ebooks. Hopefully this doesn’t get too much of an eye roll from my readers, but a few extra dollars a month would be certainly good motivation to contine with the writing that I enjoy, and to force myself to put pen to paper more often. I’d just like to start seeing something for the effort.

What are your thoughts on any of this? I am open to opinions, suggestions, or feedback of any kind. Thanks again!

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Sterling Vineyards 2013 Cabernet

Sterling Vineyards

Sterling Vineyards – Vintner’s Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Sterling Vineyards is a brand that I have heard quite a bit about, but have not yet tried. Based in Calistoga, California, Sterling Vineyards is in Diageo’s portfolio of wines, and something of an underrated gem, in my opinion, overshadowed by its better known brands.

The Sterling Vintner’s Collection Cabernet opens with a deep, heavy aroma of black cherry and blackberry. The nose lightens as it breaths, but becomes more complex.

The color and clarity are a full, rich red. There is no sediment that I found, and the legs show a slow, think run that alludes to a higher than usual alcohol content (13.9% ABV), and full, smooth mouthfeel.

The flavor opens fruitier than many cabernets, but with a thick berry flavor and just a touch of tart cherry on the end. This rounds out into a smooth, rich taste as you sip it, leaving you with a sweet flavor of blackberry and a finish of licorice and currant.

As a cabernet lover, this wine is quite respectable. It is smooth and pleasant, full without being heavy, and overall very nice. I’d rate the Vintner’s Cabernet as a 6+, and will look to purchase again.

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Let it Breath – Clos du Bois 2013 Cabernet

Clos du Bois – 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

There are a very few wines that I truly allow to breath and air the way that they ought to in order to get the fullest extent of their flavor. I say this in full candor, and not because I am somehow ignorant of the charms of fully aerated wine, but rather because I enjoy wine too much, and I am typically not nearly patient enough to actually stand by and allow a wine to open up the way that it properly should.

When I pop a cork, I am ready to partake. That is all that there is to it. By the second or third glass, often the wine has breathed sufficiently to achieve the appropriate levels of nuance and flavor that it is known for. I am also, by this time, more receptive to the intricacies of what I am drinking.

In another completely candid moment, I very seldom see the marginal difference in an hour of opening up as being worth an hour without wine. Sometimes the wine is significantly better after it breaths, sometimes it is not. In my favorite wines I know this time table and adjust my drinking accordingly, but in new wines, it is something of a hit or miss, and in truth I enjoy some of the subtleness that builds up as I sip.

I mention all of this as something of a lead in towards my current review – the Clos du Bois 2013 Cabernet.

Never have I enjoyed a wine that has had such a marked difference between when it is freshly opened and when it is finally finished. My first glass, quite literally, left a bad taste in my mouth. I pulled the cork and began to sip after an admittedly shortened interval, and was greeted with a sour, doleful flavor that was nothing like what I have come to expect from my beloved Cabernet grape. This was something of a cross between a pinot noir (with none of its smoothness) a merlot (though without the hearty body) and a beaujolais nouveau – which has no redeeming quality that would recommend it. To say I was disappointed is something of an understatement. I winced my way through the glass only as an accompaniment to the meal I was having, and then only because I needed something wet.

I am, however, not one to waste alcohol, and as Lisa Birnbach will tell you, thrift and frugality are hallmarks of prep-dom, so I corked the bottle and resigned myself to finishing it off the next day. I am glad that I did.

What was once sour, harsh, and raw, became smooth, sweet, and overall quite pleasant.

The body didn’t improve, but was never all that much of an issue to begin with. The nose gave off the dark fruit and cherry aromas that I have come to enjoy from a cabernet. The flavor, however, opened up and blossomed. It was sweet, without any saccharin tones like some hypersweet wines tend to display. It was smooth and round, with a good mouth feel, and had a lingering softness with just a touch of tannin on the back end.

This was not an outstanding wine, by any means, and I don’t mean to compare it to the Monte De Oro’s, Beringers, or J. Lohr’s that I use as benchmarks for excellent but affordable wines, but it was quite good. If the price is right, then I would certainly purchase it again – if for no other reason than to allow it to once again open up and show its true colors.

Overall rating 6… maybe a 6+


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