A Joya de Nicaragua Event, an Oceano and a Rocky Patel Cigar

Thursday evening I was headed home after work with the intention of heading out to The Wooden Indian in Havertown, PA  for a Joya de Nicaragua event with Dr. Alejandro Martinez Cuenca, who I first met and got to know at the 2011 IPCPR show.  I was excited for the chance to see Dr. Cuenca again, it’s been a few months.  As I was about a mile from home and my airbag deployed and I felt a yaris vs deer rnd 2 10172014bang, and I see a large buck flying to my left in my mirror.  This was quite a surprise to me, as I never saw the deer, it must have darted out from my left. I can only think that not seeing the buck might have been a good thing as I never swerved, braked, or did anything foolish that may have caused a worse accident.  Long story short, I joya_de_nic_darkcorojo_elMartillodidn’t get to the event, and, after having the car towed and calling the insurance company, it was too late. I decided I needed a Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Dark Corojo El Martillo to get my bearings.  Great cigar, loaded with sweet and spicy flavors. This may be one of my favorite “goto” cigars.  I’ll be interested to see if the car is a total loss or not. The irony is that the house we just bought is on Buck Run Lane.  This was the second deer that’s run into that car in the last eleven  months.

 

Oceano_IndianFriday I smoked the new offering from my friends at La Sirena Cigar Co., the Oceano. The five sizes in thei line are named after the Oceans, and I smoked the Indian, which is 5½ x 50. This cigar is a beauty, the Dominican Habano Vuelta Arriba wrapper is a nice chocolate color, it has a Dominican Criollo binder and Dominiucan and Nicaraguan fillers with the Visos and Ligeros from the DR and the Seco from Nicaragua, all assembled at the Quesada factory. The big surprise here is that this is a powerhouse of a smoke!  The draw was free and easy, and it burned perfectly. It had some horsepower to it!  This was a great smoke.

 

RockyPatel_Royale_ToroYesterday we moved some furniture and stuff to the new house and got good and worn out. We’re not even close to beig ready to move in yet, but at least we got some stuff over there. PODS are great, but can get expensive over time.  After we got home I took Macha for a walk with a cigar. I came across a cache of Rocky Patel cigars in the humidor, I guess they’ve been accumulating over the years. The Royale looked tasty so I figured I try it out. This toro has an Ecuador Sumatra wrapper,  Connecticut shade & Connecticut broadleaf double binder and fillers from Condega and Esteli in Nicarauga,  All this combined for a darned tasty smoke!  Rich expresso and cocoa flavors and a nice, straight burn. Rocky has a lot of cigars under his umbrella, and this is one of the best I’ve had. Very enjoyable.

 

That’s it for today!  Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

 

 

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Blanco Cigars, La Palina, L’Atelier, and Placeres Reserva and Macha

Last time I offered a five pack from my humidors for the correct answer to our dog’s name significance.  While it’s true that the SPCA named her after Macha, the goddess in Irish mythology, I decided that it had to have a Beatles tie in.  We have cats named Max (Maxwell’s Silver Hammer) and Eleanor (Eleanor Rigby), so I knew there must be a connection, and there was, sort of.  It’s a stretch, but in 1981 George Harrison financed a film starring Ringo Starr called “Caveman”, one of my favorite movies.  One of the first peices of dialog in the movie is Ringo’s character, Atouk, encountering a dinosaur, and yelling “Macha!”.  So, it’s obscure, but I was able to come up with a Beatles reference for the name Macha!  I’m surprised (not really) that nobody came up with it.  Here’s the first part of Caveman for your entertainment. Interesting to note that the movie is set in One Zillion B.C., October 9.  October 9 is John Lennon’s birthday, and he was murdered the year before. This was an homage to him.  I suppose since nobody got it right I’ll select a winner at Random, the number generator spit out the number 10, so Dan Colley needs to send me his address. Thanks for playing along, I’ll try to throw these little contests in from time to time.

 

 

Blanco_LigaExclusivadeFamilia_SalomonOn to the cigars!  Sunday I selected a Blanco Liga Exclusiva de Familia Connecticut Shade Salomon.  David Blanco gave me this cigar at The Smokin Goose event a few weeks ago and it looked really special, so I had to smoke it.  It’s a 6″ x 54 Salomon shaped cigar with a beautiful wrapper which is US Connecticut seeds grown in the Talanga Valley of Honduras. It lit quickly and easily, and burned perfectly.  The cigar was silky smooth and creamy. It was a very enjoyable cigar, refined and delicious. I really like the Blanco 9, but for totally different reasons. This pretty perfecto is something special. Highly recommended.

 

LaPalina_BlackLabel_RobustoMonday I went for another new cigar, the La Palina Black Label Robusto.  This 5″x52 robusto has a dark Brazilian wrapper, with Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers made in the PDR factory in Dominican Republic. It recent;y came to my attention that the PDR factory is located either in the same complex, or very close to, Jochi Blanco’s factory where the Boutique Blends lines are made. These are both very hot factories in the DR.  I expected a very good experience from the La Palina, and I received it. The Brazilian wrapper gives it a nice espresso like flavor, with a hint of sweetness.  It hit the spot on my evening walk.

 

LAtellierMaduro_Mad44Tuesday I had to do some things at the new house after dinner, so when I got home I took my walk with a L’Atelier Maduro MAD44 which I bought back in August at Havana Manor in Longmont, Colorado. I was pretty sure the small size would come in handy one day, and this was the perfect time. It was perfect for a mile and a half walk listening to the Flyers game. This line has the Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper with a Sancti Spiritus Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan fillers.  This is yet another refined smoke, with a sweet, strong coffee flavor. It burned perfectly for the entirety of it’s four inch length. It’s a great short smoke.

 

PlaceresReserva_EstrellasTonight I came across a Placeres Reserva Estrellas from Kuuts Cigars in the humidor and decided it’s time had come. This cigar is made in Honduras, with a Nicaraguan wrapper and binder and Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers.  This is the first of this line I’ve tried, and it’s a winner. It had a savory flavor, like a nice steak. It burned perfectly with a nice flat and even burn.  Some say that a cone shaped ember is the sign of a perfect burn, I disagree. I love to tap off the ash and have a nice flat coal, it tells me that all the components are burning at the same rate, and it’s no small feat to make this happen. It’s a testament to the blender who manages to get leaves of varying thickness and oiliness to burn so well.  I’ll be anxious to sample other cigars from Kuuts after having such a good experience with this one.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

 

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A Flying Pig, a Foundry and a Dominican Big Leaguer Cigar and a House

LPSU_FlyingPigIt’s been a busy weekend.  I took the day off Friday to settle on our new house. It’ll be a while before we get moved in, as there are some things we want to do there, and our current housing remains on the market.  One feature that really sold us on the new house was a large screened in back porch, which will be a perfect place to enjoy cigars!  So Thursday evening after work I took my evening walk with a Liga Privada No.9 Flying Pig. I’ve actually been thinking about smoking one of these or a while, as I haven’t smoked one since June of 2011. Another reason this came to mind is that there’s a Flying Pig Saloon near the house. I have a habit of coming across various incarnations of Flying Pigs, most recently a concrete garden ornament which was $70, too rich for my blood.  Anyway, I think I’ve had this particular Pig in my humidor since early 2011, and I believe the last one I have is from last year, although I believe they were all made about the same time. The shape is cool, it ends too soon, and it’s a tasty little porker. It’s rich and meaty and a fun way to smoke a Liga Privada No. 9.  I actually have never had the T52 or Undercrown Pigs yet, and I have a Feral Pig in the humidor that may need to be burned soon. I like having Ligas around, but they are ready to smoke and I don’t know that they age very well. Good smokes if you can find them, I dig the Pig.

 

Foundry_WormHole_2064_Hell-E-INAs I said, I had Friday off, so we went out to breakfast, stopped at the bank and got a large check,  did some shopping, walked through the house, and went to settlement.  Oddly, the title service rep recognized me (my name) from junior high.  I’ve repressed most memories from that dark and awkward time in my life, but I remembered her name and she knew a lot of people in the neighborhood I grew up in. It always seems like we run into strange coincidences at the settlement table. Anyway, I can’t imagine you care about, so the cigar I smoked on my Friday evening walk was a Foundry Worm Hole 2014 blend HELL-I-EN. Every time I smoke a Foundry cigar I learn a little more about them. A few weeks back Michael Giannini sent me a bunch of cigars, and he sent both sizes of the 2064 blend. This is a larger size, and, in true Foundry fashion, I have no idea what the tobacco make-up of these are.  What I do know is that this cigar is smooth, reasonably mild, and, like I’ve experienced with many cigars in the Foundry and Compounds, Elements and Musings lines, is really enjoyable.  They are all a little bit different than other cigars, and I really like that. I can always expect a unique experience, it may not suit my palate every time, but most of the time I’m satisfied and entertained by the cigar.  Any company that makes a box shaped like my surname initial has to be cool. This was a super smooth and tasty cigar, an experience on a par with a Davidoff. I do have my doubts that there’s tobacco from Mars in the blend.

 

DominicanBigLeaguer_AnniversarySaturday was a rainy, dreary fall day, the kind of day I really dislike.  We ran over the the house to show Macha (the dog….side contest: I’ll send a 5er of my choosing to the first person who can tell me where that name comes from in the comments, and it’s not what the SPCA told us the origin is, it’s what I say it is! It ties into another significant part of our lives here). We made a list and bought some stuff at the store which I may go ever today and install.  After an early dinner I took a walk with a Dominican Big Leaguer Anniversary in a toro size. One of the stops we made on Friday was at a local shop, JM cigars, in Exton, PA. This is a classic cigar shop, and I’ve been going there for years, since I started smoking premium cigars back around 1995.  Anyway, the owner, Jeff, was big on the DBL line when I was in there a few months back and I enjoyed what I smoked.  A few weeks ago I finally had the opportunity to meet and talk to Francisco Almonte, the owner of the brand and he gave me this cigar.  This line pays homage to the Dominican love of baseball. It’s a national obsession really.  Anyway, this cigar showed promise, it had a great flavor, but the mottled wrapper didn’t really want to burn for the first half of the cigar.  It’s possible that it was a fairly thick leaf and since it was such a damp day it took some time for the heat of the cigar to dry it out.  It was still a darned tasty cigar, and I really look forward to smoking the San Andrès maduro in the regular line.  An interesting note, as I usually rely on my friend Will Cooper’s Cigar-Coop.com to fill in some blanks when manufacturer sites are lacking, I could find nothing on the Dominican Big Leaguer, or DBL Cigars. Something must be wrong with his site search.

 

On a peripherally related note, I’ve been snacking on Ritz Bacon flavored crackers spread with The Bacon Jams all weekend.  It’s really hard to have too much bacon, and I was going to put some actual bacon on a couple, but someone polished off the few strips I had leftover from yesterday’s breakfast.  Anyway, what a tasty snack. If you want to learn more about the sweety and meaty goodness that is The Bacon Jams, they are going to be featured on QVC tomorrow (Monday, Oct. 13) in the 5PM EDT hour.  Tune in and buy some, I’m sure they will sell out!  One of the principles of the company, Bruce,  is a cigar smoker and was in the CAO and Flying Dog pairing video we did a few months ago.  Bruce also was involved in the development of the app for the Cigar Oasis WiFi remote, which is very cool, by the way. You want spreadable bacon. You need spreadable bacon.

 

That’s it for now, enjoy some great cigars today! Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

 

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A Montecristo, a Gurkha and a Cohiba, and Some Cigar News

CasadeMontecristo_Exclusivo I’m sitting here watching the first Flyers game of the season, trying to write. Hockey is the only sport I have any interest in, so it’s nice that it’s back!  Anyway, I stuck with some classic brands this week, starting off with a Montecristo which was given to me by Tom, our local Altadis rep a few weeks back at The Smokin Goose Festival. Goose’s Tobacco is a Montecristo Lounge, so they have the exclusive (and aptly named) Casa de Montecristo Exclusivo. Obviously, this cigar is only available at Montecristo lounges.  This is a 6″ x 60 with an enormous band in addition to a black and silver Montecristo band. The wrapper is Ecuador Sumatra, with Nicaraguan binder and fillers.  The cigar burned very nicely, and it had a reasonably sweet tobacco flavor. I enjoyed this cigar, I suspect I would smoke this again if I found myself in a Montecristo lounge and had $12 burning a hole in my pocket.

 

EastIndia_The Classic Cigar - Havana BlendTuesday I heard the news that Carlos Llaca Toraño is now the Director of Operations at Gurkha Cigars.  He was previously the Operations Director at Toraño Family cigars until their recent acquisition by General Cigar Co.  This prompted me to select the newest offering from Gurkha’s East India Trading Co., The Classic Cigar – Havana Blend in the XO size. The square press on this 6″ x 60 makes it feel smaller than it is. This is another nice smoking cigar which I found to have a pleasing flavor on the light side.  Once I realized that this wasn’t a powerful cigar I really enjoyed the delicate flavor.  At right around $8 each, this is a nice smoke. I only had to touch it up once or twice, otherwise it burned quite well.  This would probably be a nice morning cigar with a cup of coffee.

 

Cohiba_Nicaragua_N50Tonight I went with the new Cohiba Nicaragua in the N50 robusto size.  The samples I received from General Cigar Co. are cellophaned 5″ x 50, which only appear to be available in glass tubes commercially.  This is the first Cohiba to be blended and handcrafted in Nicaragua. The fillers are from Esteli and Jalapa and the wrapper is listed as Colorado Oscuro, no mention of country of origin. Obviously the Cohiba name comes with some expectations, whether positive or not, so I was interested to see what this new Nicaraguan blend brought to the table.  It started out very sweet, and developed very nicely. It burned like a super premium cigar should, a nice flat and even burn with a perfect draw through a V-cut.  I suspect these will age nicely, but they are smoking well now.

 

As I was getting a lighter out the other day I realized that I have a few of them laying around.  One thing that stands out to me is that the lighters I have range from a couple dollars to around $60, and with the proper care, the cheaper ones generally work as well as the expensive ones. In this picture you’ll notice that none of the three Blazer torches I’ve had over the last 17 years or so have survived.  The Zippo with the z-Plus insert has been the most impressive, as well as the Ronson. The newest addition is the Jetline triple torch (at about 9 oclock) which came from the Rocky Mountain Festival goodie bag. This is a very nice lighter. The yellow one will be recognized by some of my blogger bretheren, it actually has what is basically a Cricket lighter inside of it and I have had good luck taking it apart and spreading it out through my luggage when I travel. Only the white La Gloria lighter is a soft flame, hence it gets very little use. I have some other ones here and there, I hate not having a lighter handy!

 

lighters

 

News

 

The first big news relates to my mention of Carlos Llaca Toraño joining Gurkha, his cousin Jack Toraño, who was also displaced in the acquisition, has joined Roberto P. Duran Premium Cigars. Look for a press release in the coming days announcing this. Anyone who knows Jack knows what a great guy he is, and I’m very glad to hear he’s re-joining the workforce after a reasonably short hiatus.

 

In other news, The Charlotte Observer reports that the JR Statesville store will be closing at the end of the year.  There are three stores in North Carolina, and they are all large outlet stores with all kinds of merchandise from Jeans and toys, to cigarettes and premium cigars. If you ever drove down I-95 through North Carolina you can’t miss the entertaining billboards. Apparently the owner of the property isn’t renewing their lease and has plans to re-develop the entire shopping center that is aging. Seventy-seven jobs will be lost, however JRs says they will open a cigar only store nearby in the future.  The full story is here. This is the only North Carolina location I haven’t visited, I’ve stopped at the Selma store on the few trips I’ve made down I-95, and I had a tour of the massive distribution center in Burlington many years ago.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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A Tortuga Event, a Tatuaje and a San Cristobal

Thursday evening Victor Vitale had whiskey\espresso and cigar tasting event at Cigar Mojo. Of course, it’s not hard to convince me to pay Mojo a visit,  and when someone of Victor’s stature is there it’s a no-brainer.  Upon arrival I immediately purchased a handful of the Tortuga 215 Reserva Coyote Negro in the 600 and Belicoso sizes. I promptly lit up a 600, which is 6½” x 56, a reasonably large cigar.  Obviously, the Tortuga line is one I’ve enjoyed over the years. Victor is a good friend, and we are lucky to have him living in the area. Over the course of the evening I enjoyed the heck out of the Coyote Negro, as well as an original 215 Reserva Alma box pressed robusto. The Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper on the Coyote ads a great sweetness that I love. The Reserva Alma (5″ x 54, named after my grandmother…not really…) I smoked was truly exceptional, well balanced, refined and delicious. Victor was offering whiskey and espresso, I had two espressos over the course of the evening which went well with both cigars I smoked. Victor’s Legacy Brands is making some great cigars, if you have a Tortuga Appointed Merchant in your area, give this line a try.

 

 

Tatuaje_Black_CoronaGordaFriday I had a bit of a trying day, forgetting my wallet, having a migraine that would revisit me several times during the weekend…that sort of thing.  I stopped by the Lightn’Up/CigarCigars shop on my way home and said hello to Chris Stone, who was having a Drew Estate event at the shop.  Without a wallet I was able to resist the urge to buy any more cigars, and with the migraine I was anxious to get home, medicate and eat dinner. After doing that and recovering a little, I took a walk with a Tatuaje Black Corona Gorda which was a gift from a gentleman I met at the Casa de Montecristo in Chicago on my recent visit.  Connor was a gracious host while I visited the lounge there, many thanks for this beautiful cigar!  This cigar in the classic 5 5/8″ x 46 corona gorda size has a closed foot and a fuma style cap.  I rather expected a more “Cubanesque” experience from this, I got a pure Nicaraguan flavor bomb.  This may have been one of the best Tatuaje cigars I’ve smoked, which isn’t say a lot since I haven’t smoked all that many.  Very full flavored and well made. This is a great size, I wish it had been longer.

 

SanCristobal_Revelation_LegendSaturday afternoon I took a walk with the dog and a San Cristobal Revelation Legend.  This cigar came from the Rocky Mountain Cigar Festival goodie bag. The Legend is a 6 1/8″ x 52 Box Pressed Toro made in the My Father factory for Ashton Distributors. This uses the same wrapper as the Ashton VSG, and is a full flavored, spicy cigar. The band is beautiful as is the overall appearance of the cigar. I found this to be very enjoyable and wonder why it took me over a year to sample this line.  Highly recommended if you like full bodied cigars.

 

On a related note, this morning we had an oracle come to the house to “smudge” or burn sage and give a traditional native american blessing to the house to encourage it to sell.  We are settling on a house on Friday and life will be easier by several orders of magnitude when the house we are currently living in sells. One of the things Maxx, our oracle friend, asked was if we had any loose tobacco around so that she could bless the property outside. Oddly, I happened to have saved the outside leaves from the Leaf by Oscar cigars. She shredded the leaves and spread them around the periphery of the yard. She kindly sent me the following explanation:

Semah, or tobacco, is one of the four sacred plants. It represents the Eastern Direction and the mind a place of new beginnings. The Anishinaabe use a form of tobacco known as kinikinik, or a red willow mix. Because it opens the door to the creator, when tobacco is used to make smoke, it is one of the most sacred of plants for Native people. Some elders say that tobacco is used to connect the worlds since the plant’s roots go deep into the earth, and its smoke rises high into the sky. This plant is highly respected and highly honored. Giving tobacco is a beautiful way of our people. Ceremonies using tobacco invoke a relationship with the energies of the universe, and ultimately the Creator, and the bond made between earthly and spiritual realms is not to be broken.

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Traditional Use
Itis wise to burn tobacco before storms. It is used to pray that powerful storms won’t hurt our families. To pray with tobacco in your Native language is very powerful. It can make a difference in the physical world.

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Purification

Tobacco is used in the offering of prayer to the Creator, acting as a medium for communication. It is either offered to the fire, so the smoke can lift the prayers to the Creator, or it is set on the ground in a nice, clean place. It means we come humbly to our creator. We proclaim our innocence. When you want to speak to the creator, we are told to make an offering of the tobacco plant.An Elder will take tobacco ties and offer them to the fire or offer it back to Mother Earth on behalf of the Sacred Circle

 

I have been burning tobacco here for some time now, and I thought it was for my pleasure, but it seems to have a deeper meaning. Hopefully the house sells soon!

 

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

 

CigarCraig

 

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