A Protocol Cigar and a Balmoral Añejo XO Rothschild Masivo

Sunday afternoon I sat down with a tasty MUWAT Kentucky Fire Cured Swamp Thang Toro and spent some time on Skype talking to Dave Burke of Cigar Jukebox recording a guest DJ spot for a future show. I’ve been listening to Dave for a while, and from my perspective, it was very easy talking to him for the first time. It didn’t feel like the first time since I’ve grown used to hearing his voice in my headphones. I’m sure it was weird for him, but I was SwampThangTorofairly comfortable. I’m fortunate to know many of the people I listen to on podcasts and radio shows, and I hope to get to meet Dave one day. He’s based in Australia, so the likelihood of our paths crossing is reasonable low, unfortunately. Give his shows a listen if you’re a music fan at all, pairing music and cigars is quite interesting, I found it challenging as there is as much variety in music as there is in cigars! It was a great honor to be invited on this terrific show.


Protocol_Probabal Cause_LanceroLast night I grabbed a Protocol Probable Cause Lancero from the IPCPR sample humidor. This is Cubariqueño‘s sophomore release, made at La Zona in Esteli, with a San Andrés maduro wrapper and Nicaraguan binder and fillers. The Lancero is 7½” x 38 and is box pressed. While the draw was a little more snug than I like, it burned wonderfully and had great rich, dark flavors. Bill and Juan of Protocol Cigars have three lines, this one with a red band, the original Protocol with the blue band, and the tasty Connecticut shade wrapped Themis with a gold band. I love that they only produce a couple of sizes in each line, it makes it easy for me to keep track of them. I haven’t settled on a favorite yet, they are all really tasty!


Tonight I lit up a cigar that came to me almost two years ago in a very nice selection of cigars from Drew Estate. I decided to smoke this one because it came in a rather unwieldy cardboard box that was taking up to much room in the humidor! Since I received this cigar, Drew Estate is no longer distributing the line, so this isn’t very timely, BalmoralI guess. The cigar in question, as you might infer from the title of this post, is the Balmoral Añejo XO Rothschild Masivo. This is a 5″ x 55 robusto made in the Dominican Republic with a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper, that’s listed as “sun grown” and exceptionally aged. The binder is Dominican Olor, and the fillers are Dominican, Nicaraguan and Brazilian, all also described as exceptionally aged. Balmoral is big in Europe, its origins are with the Winterman’s family. The cigar had some plume, and tasted like a well aged cigar. It was very complex, with lots of cocoa and spice and some sweetness. I liked it a lot, I can’t believe it took me so long to smoke this as the box has been getting in my way over the past two years!


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





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Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Gran Reserva and La Palina El Diaro

Nothing new in the last couple days I’m afraid. I’m stuck finding myself wanting to smoke Drew Estate and General Cigar products. It was all I could do Friday not to dig into the box of La Gloria Cubana Coleccion Reserva Presidentes, but I did veer into the cigars that fall under Drew Estate’s distribution, I grabbed a Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Gran Reserva Belicoso. This cigar has been calling to me since it came home from the IPCPR JoyadeNicaragua_AntanoGranReserva_Belicososhow with me. JdN Antaño 1970 has been a favorite of mine for well over a decade, and the Dark Corojo is especially delicious. This year they released the Gran Reserva that is a more refined version of the Antaño using tobaccos aged over five years. What ends up happening, to me at least, was all the great rich Nicaraguan flavor of the original powerhouse 1970, in a not-quite-so powerhouse refined package. The Gran Reserva has a Nicaraguan Corojo Oscuro wrapper where the original Antaño 1970 has a Nicaraguan Habano Criollo wrapper, other than that and the age of the tobaccos used, the blend is the same. When people ask those silly questions like “if you could on;y smoke one brand” I’d probably have to go with Joya de Nicaragua for their variety and the fact that there’s a select few of their offerings I don’t like! Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Gran Reserva is another winner for me.


LaPalina_ElDiario_ToroI tried forcing myself to select from this past IPCPR’s samples last night, they are all in their own humidor for the most part. I ended up coming out with not a very new cigar at all. La Palina had a dizzying array of blends at the show this year, and the one I ended up grabbing was the El Diario toro. The El Diario line was the second line La Palina produced, the first being the very expensive Family Series that was made in the Bahamas (later moved to El Titan de Bronze in Miami). El Diario was made at the Raices Cubanas factory in Honduras (Alec Bradley most notably, but they also made cigars for Illusione and Viaje, I believe), and it might still be produced there, it’s hard for me to keep the line straight as they have cigars made at several factories. El Diario remains a solid cigar, with a little hint of sourdough and a bit of sweetness along with a pretty savory overall flavor. It was a very enjoyable cigar to smoke while watching the first period of the Flyers home opener on the porch with the iPad. I love watching hockey, but if it comes to skipping a cigar to watch on the big screen or watching on the iPad with a cigar I’ll look at the small screen every time! It was a great game with a great cigar!


Acid Painting 2005My wife has searches set up for “cigar” in the auction site Invaluable.com and had come across an original oil on canvas Acid painting by Jessi Flores circa 2005. I shared the link in case anyone was interested, but when the auction went off yesterday the bidding was slow, so my wife managed to win it for a very good price. Shipping will cost a little, and there was another random painting with it, but quite happy to own an original.


Sadly, that’s all I have for today! Until the next time,





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An LH Premium Cigar and a La Gloria Cubana Event

LH_LaVidaIslaMonday I smoked a cigar from the IPCPR show that Nick Syris (LH Premium Cigars & Smooth Draws Radio) gave me when I saw him in Island Jim’s booth. He was exhibiting in the same booth because 3R Cigar Distributors in Pittsburgh is distributing LH Premium cigars, as well as 1502, Leaf by Oscar and Island Jim cigars. The cigar Nick gave me is a collaboration between Nick and Island Jim Robinson, which was to be called La Vida Isla, but is moving forward as a “special edition” called the “Nick & Jim P.B.E”, Pre-Banded Edition. I know, the example  smoked had a band, but the band Nick used on the samples is one he uses for his non-US LH brand. The cigar has an Ecuador grown Vuelta Abajo seed wrapper and binder and Nicaraguan & Peruvian fillers an is made in Costa Rica. This was a fantastic cigar, rich and meaty with the nice little spice that the Peruvian tobacco has (and I really like Peruvian tobacco). This is a medium bodied cigar that I could smoke every day.

EPC_LGCLast night I attended an event at the International Tobacco (or is it CigarCigars, I’m not sure they’ve officially rebranded the store since acquiring it last summer) in the King of Prussia Mall. Yes, it’s a cigar shop in a mall that you can smoke in! I’ve talked about it before, let the wife shop in the largest mall in the country and hang out and smoke cigars, it’s a beautiful and dangerous thing! Anyway, they had a ticketed event featuring La Gloria Cubana cigars featuring Ernesto P. Carillo, who founded the La Gloria Cubana brand and sold it to what is now General Cigar Co. in 1999. Of course, Ernesto now owns EPCarillo Cigar Co. I’ve been fortunate to have met a lot of people in the cigar business, but this is only the second time CC_KOPI’ve met Ernesto, and he’s someone I hold in high regard, as I was a huge fan of his La Gloria and El Rico Habano brands in the 90s. There were 30 tickets sold for the event, and there were some of the people from several of the twelve stores in the CigarCigars chain (I think there are 5 or 6 of the stores within a ten mile radius of my home). Included in the ticket price were three La Gloria Cubana cigars, the new Coleccion Reserva in robusto, a Serie R No. 5 Natural and a La Gloria Corona Gorda Maduro from the original line. I lit up the Coleccion Reserva, I’ve smoked and enjoyed some IPCPR samples of this cigar, and in Ernesto’s talk he disclosed that the blend is a hybrid of the old El Rico Habano and the La Gloria Artesanos de Miami. It’s no wonder I like this cigar. It was a great event with hors d’oeuvres and Jim CC_EPCBeam spirits (of which I don’t partake). One of the things Ernesto also talked about was the way the cigar industry cooperates, crediting several people for helping him in the 90s when La Gloria exploded after getting a high rating in Cigar Aficionado, forcing him to open a factory in the Dominican Republic to try to meet the demand.  This was evidenced even now by the fact that he is, once again, collaborating with the company which bought his brand. Great event with a legendary cigar maker and a great bunch of people. Thanks to Tom, Rami, Steve Mike, Tom and the rest of the staff for a good evening.

LaGloriaCubana_Colección Reserva_TorpedoTonight I did something I rarely do and lit up another La Gloria Cubana Coleccion Reserva, this time in the torpedo. I had a Serie R Esteli the other night which is a cigar I have really enjoyed over the last few years, along with its maduro counterpart. Perhaps the Coleccion Reserva is my new favorite in the LGC line. Is it the fact that I now know that it has a connection to the El Ricos of old that I loved? the cigar is perfectly balanced, has a touch of sweetness and spice and is a tasty smoke. Burn was perfect and flavors were awesome. It’s a good thing, because I bought a box and had Ernesto autograph it. I don’t have a lot of autographed boxes, this one joins Jorge Padron, Nick Melillo and Bernie Parent. I continue my 20 year love affair with La Gloria Cubana cigars, and my LGC dedicated humidor is overflowing!

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




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A Special Havana Cigar, a Kristoff Event and Invaluable Auctions

Back in 2007 I had very little idea what a blog was, nor would I have imagined I’d be writing one, but I was still a little over ten years into my cigar obsession (no relation). I was known in my circle of friends as the go to cigar guy. So when my only daughter announced her wedding plans, I went to work myself and quickly procured a box of Romeo y Julieta Coronitas en Cedro to share on the special day. Mitchell Orchant of C-Gars Ltd in the UK had recently partnered in the Casa del Habanos in Hamburg, Germany, I only would buy Havanas from a trusted source, and Germany had a much better pricing structure than the UK. So the Romeo y Julieta Coronitas en Cedro is a Petit Cetros in Cubas Vitolas de Galera, or a Petite Corona measuring a shade over 5″ and 40 ring gauge. I selected this cigar for a couple of reasons: small format to not spend too much time away from the reception, the presentation is nice with the cedar sleeves, it’s a mild and flavorful cigar that can be appreciated by occasional smokers and seasoned RyJ CeCveterans alike, and while not the best story of long-term romantic commitment, it’s the most romantic of the Cuban marcas. I passed out the majority of the box, be held on to four of them. Two were smoked when my youngest son turned 18 (he’s 23 now), since his older brother had smoked his first cigar at 18 at his sister’s wedding, it was a tradition. I smoked one Friday evening on my daughter and her husband’s tenth anniversary and the cigar was fantastic. It was smooth and refined, with some floral notes and a hint of the Cuban “twang”. Ten year’s rest didn’t hurt this cigar at all. If I was smart I’d buy a box to bury in the humidor for 10 years. I’m saving the last one for their 20th anniversary!



Photo by Robyn Parsons

Later in the evening I took a drive down the street to Old Havana Cigar Company where they were having a Kristoff event. Glen Case was there with the local rep, Robyn, so I figured it was the excuse I needed to pick up some Kristoff cigars I haven’t tried. I’ve been woefully negligent of this line. No real excuse, I love the Epic line which is made at the same factory (Charles Fairmon cigar factory in Santiago de los Caballeros). I’ve been hearing a bunch about the Pistoff Kristoff for the last year, and had just picked up a couple of the Corona Gordas in the last couple weeks. I lit up a 6 x 60 there at the shop.  I Kristoff_PistoffKristoff_CoronaGordamet Glen Case at the IPCPR briefly a couple of years ago, but never really got to talk to him, then last summer we were in line together at the hotel check-in and he greeted me like he knew who I was. I don’t expect to be remembered by these cigar company owners who meet hundreds of people, so it always surprises me. It was a fairly quiet event, well attended as there were no open chairs in Old Havana’s rather large lounge. I hung out in the front for a while and talked with Robyn, Tony, the owner, Glen, and another customer. I had a migraine coming on, so I wasn’t at my best, and the Pisstoff, was pissing me off a little as it wasn’t really working right (something I could have mentioned to Glen, but I had another one, and some at home and it wasn’t that bad, just didn’t get a ton of smoke from it). I was into the flavor though, it has a natural fermented San Andrés wrapper (where most are fermented to a maduro), and had a nuts and caramel kind of flavor. I rarely smoke the same cigar twice in a row, but I lit up a Corona Gorda last night while watching the Flyers game on the porch (being able to sit in the screened in porch in October and smoke and watch hockey is a great thing…in shorts, at 10:00pm!). The Corona Gorda is 5½ x 48 and has the Natural San Andrés wrapper, Indonesian binder and Nicaraguan fillers, the 6×60 is…6″ x 60. I’ve been lead to believe that this was a really powerful smoke, but I found it to be on the high side of medium.  If it was “deceivingly strong” like the marketing materials state, it deceived me, although I’ll go along with the Full Flavored line, as it was (on the example that burned right…). I also got a Kristoff Cameroon and a couple of Kristoff San Andrés to try. I like the closed foot and pigtail cap that are trademark features across the line.


My wife has been following this auction site called Invaluable, and watches for cigar related items. She pointed Lot 457 JFK's Personal H. Upmann Cigarsout some interesting items to me this week, some from JFK’s humidor. I tend to be skeptical about auctions of cigars claiming to be from JFK, although I’m sure it’s possible, and I guess reputable auction houses would verify such things. My wife got me a really cool little cast iron boxer and moldcigar mold that she won in an auction here, and if you search “cigar” there are all kinds of neat items that come up. A few weeks ago there was a cool 7-20-4 sign on auction that happened to be not far from here. I tipped off Kurt Kendall, who owns the name now, but he missed the auction. I watched it live, but was afraid to bid in case I was bidding against Kurt! Anyway, if you are into auctions and collectibles, this is a site to check out.


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








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A Couple Cigars, Cigar Podcasts and the Contest Winner!

Gurkha125I’ve been feeling a little in a rut lately, so I decided to smoke some cigars I hadn’t smoked in a long time, so I started with a Gurkha 125th Anniversary XO,  I thought I liked this cigar more, it wasn’t bad, it was just a little more leathery than I remembered. So the next night I went with a sure thing, A Tatuaje TAA 2015. This box pressed, 5 5/8″ x 54 cigar with a covered foot hit the spot. Sadly, this was the last one in my humidor, but boy was it tasty. Not exactly breaking out of my rut, as I’ve been craving broadleaf and this one hit the spot just right. Smooth, rich and delicious. I think I bought a couple of these a little over two Tatuaje TAA 15years ago, great cigar.  Tonight grabbed a CAO Amazon Anaconda, a cigar I developed a deep appreciation for after bringing some home from the IPCPR show. A couple of weeks ago when I saw Jack Toraño he stuck this cigar in my pocket, so it was conveniently located on top of the humidor. This is the third in the Amazon series, following the Amazon Basin and Fuma em Corda. I wasn’t wow’d by the Amazon Basin like most people seemed to CAO Anacondahave been, but I only tried the second release. I really like the Fuma em Corda, and I really really like the Anaconda (except for the name, I’m not a snake fan), This cigar is made in Honduras with a Brazilian Bahiano Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and Colombian, Dominican, Brazilian Braganca, and Fume em Corda fillers. The only thing I really don’t care for was the piece of tobacco that serves as the band terminates under the cap and feels funny in the mouth. Otherwise it’s a great cigar! Burns a long time and tastes great!  Seems I’m still in that rut.


I’m a bit of a podcast junkie, and just want to list several shows I listen to regularly and enjoy. I’ll be honest, this is driven by just listening to Cigar Coop‘s Prime Time show with co-host Aaron Loomis from Developing palates, where they said some nice things about me. I also listen to the Developing Palates recaps  via podcast, KMA Talk Radio, The Cigar Authority, The Ashholes, DE4Live, Cigar Jukebox, Cigar Chat and Sharing Your Pairings, Smooth Draws Radio, Stogie Geeks, as well as Half Ashed and The Cold Draw Podcasts when they show up.  It all started with Blowin’ Smoke, which was one of the first, and was hosted by an old friend Rob Heming. There are a few others that only show up every now and then. Sometimes it’s a challenge staying up to date.



prizeLast week we had a contest sponsored by Cigar Prop and the Tobacco Locker Cigar Bar featuring four great cigars and a pair of Cigar Prop XCs.  It’s time to pick a winner, and I was hoping to have Kevin of Cigar Prop pick one, but he deferred. My reasoning was that myself and Kevin interjected some comments and that makes it harder to count the comments…and I would have liked to see more “likes” on the sponsor’s Facebook pages.  So I worked it out, and the winner is mike mccainSend your address so we can get your prize to you, and I’m going to send a few cigars from my humidor too, just because I feel like it.  Thanks to Kevin for putting this together and Tobacco Locker for participating. 

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





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