Drew Estate Swamp Thang and a Natural Box Pressed Toro Cigars

Swamp Thang RobustoI’ve been waiting to get my hands on the latest in the MUWAT Kentucky Fire Cured line, the Candela wrapped Swamp Thang and Swamp Rat cigars. These were featured at last year’s IPCPR show, and I only recently received some in a care package from Drew Estate. The Swamp Thang is available in Robusto (5″x54) and Toro (6″x52) sizes, and I started with the robusto. I’ve been hot and cold on the Kentucky fire Cured line, when I first sampled it in Nicaragua in 2013 I wasn’t a fan, it was too “camp firey” for me. I’ve found with some humidor time these are much better and I actually really enjoy them now. As a fan of the occasional candela, I was anxious to see what the blend did with that wrapper. I believe these are made at Joya de Nicaragua, and they are rolled in the style of the Joya de KFC_SwampThang_RobustoNicaragua Cabineta, with the candela cigar made in the traditional way, and then, in this case, the dark fire cured leaf is added in the final two inches, making a striking contrast. This is used on the regular Fentucky Fire Cured line, but it’s much less apparent since the San Andres wrapper is similar in color to the Kentucky. I found the grassy flavors typical of the candela to be quite understated, and the robusto was a very tasty and well made cigar. It burned perfectly, drew perfectly and was a really nice smoking experience. I was so enthralled with the cigar that I tried the Swamp Rat, the 6″ x 46 size a couple of nights later. I’m going to reserve judgement and not talk about that one now because it wouldn’t burn right and aggravated the heck out of me. I will say that the Candela flavor was more present in the thinner ring gauge, but I’ll come back to that vitola at a later date. Thumbs up on the Robusto though, I really liked that one.

 

Natural_Lounge Exclusive ToroTonight I toyed with the idea of trying the Swamp Thang Toro, but the Swamp Rat scared me off for now, so I went with a cigar from a couple of years ago, a Natural Soft Box Pressed Toro that was a Corona Cigar Company Drew Estate Lounge Exclusive. I’ve had good luck with the Natural line, it features a bunch of non-traditional tobaccos, from places like Syria, Turkey and Perique from Louisiana, which make for a very interesting and pleasing flavor. There are loads of unique spices that work really well together, at least to my palate. I’ll have to see if my friends over at the Wooden Indian have the lounge exclusives or if they are still exclusive to Corona. Wooden Indian has a Liga Privada lounge. the lounge exclusives are all box pressed, the Liga Privada No.9, Undercrown and Herrera Esteli are all sharply square pressed, while the two Tabak Especial varieties and this Natural have a soft press. I’ve smoked most and they have all been quite good.

 

That’s all for now, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

Share

Leave a Comment

Filed under Review

A Visit to A Little Taste of Cuba in New Hope PA to Meet the Cigar Prop Man!

I’ve made mention of the Cigar Prop, and it features prominently in many of my Instagram  photos and occasionally here. The Cigar Prop is a machined aluminum cigar stand that I use quite frequently, and the creator of this item is a long time reader, Kevin Shahan. Kevin resides in Florida and in addition to being the Cigar Prop guy, is also quite well-known in the bearding community (is that a thing? apparently it is!) as the creator of Irish Beard Balm. Kevin dropped me a note a few weeks back saying he was going to be in New Little Taste of Cuba - Photo by JessicaJersey this weekend so we made plans to meet. The little riverside village of New Hope, PA seemed to be just about in the middle of where he and his girlfriend, Jessica, were staying and where I live, and it just so happened there’s a cigar store there! So we made plans to meet up yesterday. over the last twenty years of interacting electronically with people I’ve gotten used to meeting folks in the flesh that I’ve only exchanged text with, and nine times out of ten it works out, like meeting an old friend you never met before. Such was the case with Kevin. I spotted him on the street, we met, and made our way to the cigar shop.

 

lfdA Little Taste of Cuba is one of two stores (the other in Princeton, NJ) owned by Jorge Armenteros, who is the guy behind Tobacconist University, which is a course that teaches about everything cigar, pipe and tobacco. The shop is right on Main Street in New Hope, ironically in close proximity to a bar called Mojito and a restaurant called Havana. The shop is cozy, there’s a small walk in humidor that features mostly top shelf cigars, Padron Anniversary, Liga Privada, Sobremesa, et cetera. The staff was very friendly and helpful, as one would expect in an establishment who trains other tobacconists. Certainly the focus was on quality over quantity here. I selected a La Flor Dominicana Reserva Especial El Jocko Maduro that has the white Reserva Especial Little Taste of Cuba - Photo by Jessicabands that I’m not used to seeing on this cigar. It’s been forever since I had this cigar, and it was delicious. Perhaps a bit much for noon, before lunch, but I was sitting on a comfy leather couch, talking cigars and stuff with Kevin while the girls checked out some of the surrounding shops. We eventually finished up and went to an Irish pub for lunch. Many thinks to Kevin and Jessica for taking the time to meet with us! Vegas, next time, eh?

 

I can’t tell you how cool it is to meet up with a relative stranger, and it’s like you’re long-lost brothers. I have had the great pleasure of meeting several of my readers, and, so far, none of them have been homicidal lunatics that I could tell. Dave W. is reasonably local and won the last contest, and I would like to meet him for a smoke one of these days (I shipped his goodies as I don’t know when we will be able to meet up), and I’d be pleased to meet any one of you who wastes their valuable time reading my nonsense!. I’ve made great friends through simply loving rolled up leaves, and it’s great any time I get to meet someone I’ve interacted with on-line. By the way, go buy a Cigar Prop or two, I use mine all the time!

 

That’s all for now! I’ve got a Prime Living article to finish writing, and the cigars aren’t going to smoke themselves! Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

Share

5 Comments

Filed under Stores

Umbagog and Tatuaje Pudgy Monsters Cigars and Fratello News

UmbagogLast week I bought some of the Fratello Fire Crackers from 2 Guys Cigars when they went on sale, and while I was at it, I added a few of Steve Saka’s Umbagog Corona Gordas to my order as I was itching to try them out. The Umbagog is almost the same blend as the Mi Querida, utilizing Connecticut Broadleaf wrappers that  weren’t as pretty (in Steve’e estimation, who else could tell?) as the wrappers on the Mi Querida. I love the Mi Querida, so chances were good that this was a safe buy. The advantage is that the Umbagog is a little less expensive, although I would be hard pressed to tell the difference in a blind tasting. Like the Mi Querida, the Umbagog is made in the NACSA factory in Nicaragua. I mistakenly thought I got the Toro Toro, but upon reflection, I had the Corona Gorda, I thought it looked thinner than the Ancho Larga in its sister line. The Corona Gorda is 6″ x 48, which ten years ago would have been a toro for the most part. It had one of the better burns I’ve had in a non-Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust cigar, they all seem to burn perfectly, which goes along with Steve’s Puros sin Compomiso mantra. It was loaded with sweet espresso and cocoa flavors that I enjoy, and, with the exception of its plain band and odd name, was as great a cigar as I’ve smoked. I’m waiting for the right time (and company) to smoke the Muestra de Saka I have, and continue to gravitate toward a cigar from this company when I want a sure thing.  The Umbagog is a winner, pick them up when you can as they are limited to the “reject” wrappers!

 

Tatuaje_PudgyWolfTonight I grabbed one of the Tatuaje Pudgy Monsters that was in the Oh F*ck I’m Lost pack I got at an event a while back. I had the Drac and the Wolf to choose from and went with the Wolf. I’ve smoked the Wolfman, the 7½” x 54 big old torpedo with the shaggy foot that I want to say was the fourth release in the Monster series back in 2011?  The Pudgy Monsters version is a 5½” x 52 belicoso with the same shaggy foot, that is the wrapper is cut back a half-inch from the end. It’s fun the be able to taste when the wrapper flavor kicks in and understand how much that thin leaf adds to the flavor. This one has an Ecuador Sumatra wrapper, and the rest is Nicaraguan. I remember really enjoying the larger format (TY to Will Cooper, I think it was in a sampler he sent for my 50th birthday, which was a handful of years ago now!). This one had a smooth, nutty, grain flavor with some mellow coffee in the second half and was a really flavorful and pleasing cigar. Burn was flawless. Dammit, now I’m going to have to keep an eye out for more of these, I suspect the samplers are still around, but I’d certainly buy a few of these if they were available singly, which I don’t guess they are. I’m doing pretty good this week, two spectacular cigars!

 

I mentioned the Fratello Firecracker earlier, this is a 3″x 50 format with a long pigtail “fuse” that is a 2 Guys exclusive, and every year it’s made by someone else, Don Pepin Garcia, La Flor Dominicana, RoMaCraft…this year’s is made by Fratello. These usually are a strong blend, I’ve smoked the LFD and Cromagnon versions and look forward to trying Omar’s version, I’m sure it’ll be great. But Omar de Frias has a new Fratello cigar debuting at the IPCPR show that sounds interesting. This one is called the Fratello Naveta, which is Italian for “shuttle” and is a nod to his years at NASA (where he makes a space shuttle look small).

“Blending Fratello Naveta was special as I wanted to translate the ultimate celebration our men and women of the space program felt after a successful mission”. “After being part of over 21 missions nothing beats the feeling of getting our astronauts home safe to their families” said de Frias.

“Colleagues of mine would get together and smoke a very special cigar to commemorate the occasion. This very special blend carries the ultimate feeling of innovation, duty, honor and success” said de Frias.

Fratello_NavettaBlended with an Ecuador oscuro wrapper the blend will be featured in 4 vitolas.

– Robusto Discovery (5 x 50) 10.50

– Toro Endeavor (6 ¼ x 54) 11.25

– Gordo Enterprise (6 x 60) 12.00

– The Boxer Atlantis (6 ¼ x 52) 12.50

Fratello Navetta will be manufactured at Joya de Nicaragua and will be available for shipment in September. Omar de Frias worked at NASA for 12 years prior to leaving to focus full-time on Fratello.

 

I’m looking forward to trying this one!  The presentation looks great!  I’ll get to the Firecrackers in the coming weeks.

 

That’s all for me for tonight, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

Share

Leave a Comment

Filed under News, Review

Undercrown Shade, Tabernacle, and Herrera Esteli Cigars

Undercrown Shade Gordito I know, I know, nothing new here, but it’s been a busy week and I’ve been selfishly playing it safe smoking cigars I like and enjoying the hell out of them.  This started with a go-to Connecticut Shade wrapper cigar that I grab when I don’t feel like deciding on what to smoke, the Undercrown Shade from Drew Estate. At some point over the last year I came across a good deal on a five-pack of these in a the 6″ x 60 Gordito size, I can’t recall the details, but it was an offer I couldn’t pass up. While 6″ x 60 isn’t normally a shape I go to in a Connecticut, it works in this cigar.  Funny how one company’s “gordito” is different from another’s. I know one particular example where a Gordito is 4″ x 48. If my very rudimentary understanding of the Spanish language is even close, “gordito” is the diminutive of “gordo”, which means “fat”, which makes me wonder what the dimensions of a potential Undercrown Shade Gordo might be? Anyway, the Undercrown line is one of my favorites, and the Shade is one of my favorite Connecticut wrapped cigars, it’s got that nutty, creamy component, and has a good core of rich tobacco flavors to go with it. It’s not an Undercrown with a shade wrapper, although one might wonder what that might be like. Good smoke.

 

Tabernacle_RobustoIronically, I chose a Tabernacle Robusto from Foundation Cigar Co. for my next cigar. I say “ironically” because the Tabernacle is made by Nick Melillo, who probably would have been in charge of blending the Undercrown Shade if had still been with Drew Estate and Willie Herrera hadn’t stepped into his shoes. Most of my readers probably know that, but background included for those who don’t. Believe it or not, everyone isn’t as obsessed with the minutia of the cigar business as I might be. Tabernacle is the full-bodied, Connecticut Broadleaf blend that everyone expected Nick Melillo to make, and it’s not disappointing. I smoked the Robusto as it was later than normal and I didn’t want to be up all night with a cigar. I would have loved this in a 4″ x 48, I wonder what Nick would have called that size? The 5″ x 50 robusto was great, although I probably prefer the toro, more of a good thing. It burned great, was about an 8 on the strength meter, with sweet rich coffee and cocoa flavors, right up my alley. I love the color of the band, which features an image of Haile Selassie, who was the emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. It seems like an odd figure to feature on a band, but he is considered a god incarnate by the Jamaican Rastafarians, as a matter of fact, Selasie’s birth name was Tafari, so the movement is named after him. If you know Nick Melillo’s affinity for Jamaica and Reggae, you’ll get the connection. Where the name Tabernacle fits in is that it’s long been rumored that the Ark of the Covenant, which  is stored in a box called a tabernacle, is in a chapel in Ethiopia. I could probably write more about the history, but plenty of other people already have.The Tabernacle cigars are great (I’m still working up the courage to smoke Nick’s Upsetters line, it’s hard for me to talk myself into smoking infused cigars) . If you love Tajuaje’s Broadleaf blends, Liga Privadas, Mi Quedridas, Nica Rusticas, you’ll love the Tabernacle. I do.

 

HerreraEsteli_TAA ExclusiveI seem to have followed a path of related cigars once again, choosing a Herrera Esteli TAA Exclusive 2016. Last year I received a generous package from Drew Estate (as did many of my esteemed colleagues in the world of cigar blogs) which had all sorts of lounge and shop exclusives, and new items. It must have been the beginning of 2016, as it seems like a long time ago. Was it 2015? Time is moving too quickly!  I still have some cigars from that sampler, and this Herrera Esteli looked like the size I wanted and I decided to smoke it. Unlike the Herrera Esteli line, which features a Habano wrapper and is a great smoke, by the way, this TAA (Tobacconists Association of America) Exclusive has a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, with Brazilian Mata Fina binder and Nicaraguan fillers. I like the regular Herrera Esteli line, it’s a great smoke, but this one, with the sweetness from the Broadleaf and Brazilian tobacco really is more in my wheelhouse. I smoked one of these in May of last year and got a meaty flavor that I didn’t get this time around. Perfect burn and draw, of course, and rich flavors that entertained me on my evening walk, and provided a great end to the week! I really didn’t need another $12 cigar to like. I guess it’s lucky for me there aren’t any TAA retailers close by!

 

Today is Father’s Day, which I have mixed emotions about given the fact that my father and father-in-law both passed in the last few years. My kids always do something nice for me, and I look forward to seeing them today, and enjoying my traditional Father’s Day cigar,  this year an 18-year-old cigar. I bought a box of Esperanza Para Los Niños toros in 2000 for Father’s Day and have one left, which I’ll smoke last. I’ve had some generous gifts of various sizes of these over the years which I save for Father’s day. I think I’m good until 2020 or so. In 2002 I found my self unemployed, and wouldn’t you know some online retailer bought the remaining inventory of these cigars (that were made by Christian Eiroa for charity) and was blowing them out for a great price, although it was a lot more than I could afford being out of work. I was pretty pissed that I couldn’t afford another box, and by the time I could they were gone. Anyway, that’s on my agenda for today. That’s all for now, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

Share

5 Comments

Filed under Review

An Old La Gloria Cubana, and a Cigar PSA: Father’s Day Specials at Holt’s and Davidoff

lgc adtI’ve been slacking off this week not really paying attention to what cigars I’ve been smoking, sorry about that! I made my IPCPR reservations this week, I was going to skip it this year, but changed my mind. I hope to bring another perspective this time around.  I did select a well aged La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Tabaqueros one evening that was fantastic. This was from 2011, and I was just bout to grab a Serie R Esteli when the Artesanos poked its head out and said “smoke me!” I have a precious few of these left, on;y one of which, to my great dismay, is an event only version with a Connecticut broadleaf and Sumatra wrapper. I was in the mood for something lighter, so I went with the production version (I don’t think they make these any more), Ecuador Sumatra and  Connecticut shade in the toro size. This starts off with a creamy Connecticut wrapper on the first third, and segues into the Sumatra. It’s funny in that the band covers the transition between the wrappers, and is closer to the foot than the head. This cigar aged beautifully, it was smooth and still had a load of flavor, and the transition between the wrappers is prominent. I only have a couple of these in the humidor and will  be sad when they are gone! I love most LGCs, this was among my favorites. I especially wish I had more of the broadleaf versions!

 

The folks at Holt’s contacted me a few weeks ago and asked me to put something together about their Father’s Day specials, and I dropped the ball, failing to send them a draft for approval, so I hope they don’t mind if I just point you toward their web page with the specials. I looked through and was tempted to spring for their special on the Xikar XO cutter, which I’ve lusted after since seeing it at the IPCPR last year. Dropping coin on the IPCPR trip cooled my jets on that, and I have so many cutters it’s not funny. They have a lot of great stuff there, so head over to Holts.com and check out what they have!

 

I was also directed to Davidoff of Geneva’s Father’s Day page. They have a lot of great stuff for the discriminating dad, cutters, lighters, cases and humidors, as well as some of their great cigars in handy sampler packs. Davidoff always offers the highest quality accouterments and cigars. I can’t imagine any father that wouldn’t be elated at opening a gift from Davidoff from under the Father’s Day tree on Father’s Day morning (everyone does that, right?).

 

That’s all I have for today, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

 

 

 

 

Share

4 Comments

Filed under Editorial, Review