Psyko 7 Maduro, Fuente, CroMagnon, Gran Habano and Punch Cigars

Here we are on July 5th already. It seems like the summer is flying by and it’s barely started.  In two weeks I’ll be in New Orleans at the IPCPR show, doing my best to collect information about the newest and greatest products.  I don’t think I’ll do too many of the video interviews this time around, but I do have a little something special planned. We’ll see how that all turns out. I managed to smoke a few cigars this week, let’s have a look.

 

Ventura_Psyko7Maduro_RobustoI received some Ventura Cigar Co. Psyko 7 Maduro Robusto samples a couple of weeks ago, and was really looking forward to trying them out. I had first smoked the natural wrapper Psyko 7 back when I was a guest on The Cigar Authority show back in November of 2013 and was really quite impressed.  This is another impressive cigar, right up my alley.  It’s got a San Andrés wrapper, an Ecuador binder, and an interesting blend of fillers including ligero from Nicaragua and Pennsylvania, some Honduran and Dominican and Pelo de Oro from Peru!  How can I not like this cigar!  The samples I smoked burned perfectly and had great, complex flavors of espresso, cacao with a nice sweetness. I appreciate the extra half-inch on this 5½” x 50 robusto. This is right up there with the Fratello Bianco as one of my newbies of the year so far.  Very nice smoke.

 

Fuente_DoubleChateau_SungrownAfter I had some more dental work done Monday I celebrated after with an Arturo Fuente Double Chateau Sungrown.  Boy, is this a tasty cigar!  It’s 6¾” x 50 with a cedar sleeve (which I removed before lighting, of course) and a black foot band.  The standard Cheateau series is more common in the Connecticut Shade wrapper, and I’ve enjoyed my share of those over the years, but this Ecuador Sungrown wrapper is quite special. It was solidly medium, but it had loads of great savor flavors.  I would definitely say that in the Fuente line, save for the Hemingway, Don Carlos, Opus, etc, the sungrown wrapper is my choice.

 

RoMa_CroMagnon_Mode5When I visited Holt’s a couple weeks ago I picked up some of the CroMagnon Mode 5 perfectos from RoMaCraft as I’d yet to smoke that shape and have heard so many great things about it.  It’s not a huge cigar, 5″ x 50 in a perfecto format, tapering at either end, your old school, 40’s Warner Brothers cartoon shape. It was quite the fun cigar to smoke, and it was loaded with great, meaty flavors that really made me smile.  Burn was perfect, it was well-balanced and not the powerhouse one expects from the name.  I look forward to seeing Skip and Mike at the show this year, it’s been too long and they are really making great smokes.

 

GranHabano_Gran Corojo No5 Maduro 2011_GranRobustoThe folks at Gran Habano send a few samples a couple of weeks back, and the Gran Habano Corojo No.5 Maduro 2011 Gran Robusto caught my eye.  This is a 6″ x 54 toro with a dark Nicaraguan Maduro wrapper, Costa Rican grown Habano binder and fillers from Jalapa and Costa Rica.  This was a great spicy cigar with some bitter dark chocolate that was really to my liking.  It burned well, the draw was good, and it was a cigar I’ll smoke again.  I find the banding to be a little too close to Cuban Limitada bands, that’s probably what they were going for but I think a little originality from a company that definitely has some original products would be better. I’m not going to mistake that beautiful dark wrapper for any Habanos cigars, and I would probably choose this flavor profile over most Havanas as well.

 

Punch_H&F1999_ChurchillYesterday was the 4th of July.  My wife and I celebrate our wedding anniversary that day, as the US celebrates another birthday. I always choose a special cigar to mark the event, and there’s generally an element of civil disobedience involved that I’d like to think the founding fathers would approve of. Yesterday I selected a Havana Punch Churchill that was a gift from a friend a few years ago who serves our country and will remain nameless to protect the guilty!  This particular cigar had the distinction of bearing a “Vintage 1999″ secondary band which denotes that it was selected by Hunters and Frankau (the UK importer of Habanos cigars) as an exceptional cigar. I agree with their assessment, it was an exceptional cigar. While the draw was a bit more snug than I like, it smoked very well, needing no corrections, and the smoke had a delicate flavor that was quite delicious. It had a bit of the unique Cuban spice, and was a milder, but very special cigar.  It was the perfect way to celebrate a special day.  I wish I could be as complimentary about the Rocky Patel Freedom I smoked later in the evening, there was a sour component to the savory flavor that didn’t do it for me, and I wished I had chosen better, but the red white and blue band seemed appropriate for the occasion. The Punch Churchill was sublime though, and I’m fortunate to have had the chance to experience it.

 

That’s about it for today.  We’re heading in to Philly again today for tea, then maybe a visit to Smoke in Manyunk after. Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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NewAir CC-100 Thermoelectric Cigar Humidor

A few weeks ago the folks at NewAir contacted me about test driving one of their new humidors.  I told them I didn’t need another humidor, and my wife would likely kill me if I brought another one into the house.  Their website has pictures of a nicely stocked unit sitting on a kitchen counter, that has about as much of a chance of happening in my house as me running my dishwasher safe AshStay cigar ashtray through the dishwasher!  As much as I didn’t need another humidor in the house, this one looked like something my readers would be interested in. It’s available from retailers we all know, it seems like a good value, and the “wine fridge” humidors seem to be all the rage these days.  So I took on the burden of introducing yet another humidor to the house, at great peril.

 

NewAir Box

NewAir CC-100

 

 

 

Here are the deets on the NewAir CC-100:

Key Features

  • Comes with Hygrometer & Moisture Container
  • Real Spanish Cedar Wood Shelves & Drawer
  • Stores up to 250 of your favorite cigars
  • The interior temperature can be adjusted in increments of 1° between 54°F & 74°F.
  • To properly maintain RH, you need to include a method of adding humidity. For your convenience, a moisture container is included.

 

Let’s take a quick look at this list first, bullet point by bullet point.

The Hygrometer is analog and is inset into the Spanish cedar drawer which is in the top of the unit. It seems to be quite accurate, agreeing with several digital units I put in as a control.  The “Moisture Container” is a plastic tray, and I’m not sure why they include this. I suppose one could put polymer beads in it as a humidity source.  If a novice to cigar storage were to just fill this with water and leave it in there it would mold very quickly.

The shelves and drawer are nice and fit well. I tried re-arranging the placement but they seem best suited to be left alone, the drawer in the top position and the shelves underneath. Good quality, perhaps not enough wood to truly buffer the humidity swings of frequent opening and closing, but an acceptable start. Storing boxes on the shelves gives it plenty of wood to buffer humidity.

It’s well known that humidor capacity is based upon the number of petite coronas (typically Montecristo no.4) cigars that can be crammed into the box. this will easily hold 250 petite coronas, although probably not in boxes. I have about 75 cigars in there now with room to spare. Since this is a retrofitted wine fridge, it’s deeper than it is wide, so it’s possible that smaller boxes could be stored two deep.

The temperature adjustment is where this differs from a traditional humidor. I set mine at 70, and it seems to be right on. This will be handy in the summer months, and after I have had this for a while and feel comfortable with the stability I am storing some of my best cigars in there, as well as keeping my “on deck” review samples in the drawer.

Finally, adding a humidifier. I happened to have a Cigar Oasis Excel siting idle, and decided to give that a try. It’s just about the right size and really doesn’t take up much space on the bottom of the unit. The ribbon cable has to come out the front door (on the  side), once I decide that’s going to be the humidifier of choice, I’ll stick the wire to the side and hide it real good.  This unit is so tightly sealed that I figure Boveda packs or polymer beads of some sort, could work just fine. I actually haven’t heard the Cigar Oasis running much, which is a good sign. Please don’t just fill the included container from point number one with water and let it go, you will end up with a large petri dish.

 

two humidorsOne of the challenges I still have is finding a place to put this. Right now it’s sitting on the floor next to my cabinet. It plugs in, as does the Cigar Oasis, so it needs to be near an outlet. I would love to find a shelf unit to put it, as well as the other desktop humidors, on, as long as it receives spousal support, creating a sort of “tower of humidors” next to the tower humidor. As is if not bad enough (or great, depending on perspective) that the focal point of the living room/dining room is already a humidor.  This is where the depth works against the unit, but it’s very close to the same depth as the cabinet (a few inches deeper). I really need to get it off the floor.  If I didn’t have so many cigars, this would be a perfect humidor to have as my only unit, it holds humidity well, maintains temperature well and looks nice. I am so confident in it that I put some of my higher end cigars in it. It gets the CigarCraig seal of approval, I think it’s a very good value.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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Cigar Brothers, Wooden Indian, Cigar Mojo and the Fratello Bianco Toro

I had a pretty busy week this week, visiting cigar store and hanging out with some great folks, smoking great cigars!  I was actually planning to stop in to Smoke Cigar Lounge in Manyunk, PA, just outside Philadelphia, but traffic was backed up, and it sounded like they were having a street festival on the main street there, so we gave up on that idea and stopped at a new shop only a few miles from home called Cigar Brothers in Berwyn, PA. This shop is an old house, and the downstairs part is the store, all humidified with the cigars out on  shelves. The selection was very good,lots of boutiques as well as old standards. I grabbed a few CAO Flathead Sparkplugs CAOFlatheadSparkplugand some Rocky Patel Super Ligeros and chatted with the properly named co-owner, Craig. The lounge is upstairs, basically two rooms and a hall with a bathroom. It’s not a great space for an event, as there’s no one large gathering area, but it’s nice for just hanging out with a few people. It’s bright and comfortable and well ventilated. I smoked the CAO Sparkplug there, as we had spent the afternoon in traffic and Craig was closing in an hour. I love the Flathead line, and really like this little cigar.  It’s rich, full-bodied and burns right.  We had a great afternoon talking to Craig and hanging out in this new shop that I think will do well.

 

Nica Rustica_El BrujitoThis weekend was Famous Smoke Shop’s Cigarnival event, which I’ve attended in the past, so there have been a bunch of “cigarlebrities” in the general vicinity.  Wednesday my oldest son and I went down to the Wooden Indian in Havertown, PA where they were having a Drew Estate event with Chris Stone and Pedro Gomez.  Pedro runs the Cigar Safari and tours the US doing events in the off-season.  My son hadn’t seen him since we were in Nicaragua in 2011, so it was a nice reunion and it was nice to go out and have a cigar with the kid for a change. I went with another favorite, the Nica Rustica. It looks like it’s a Maduro week!  Great cigar, great friends, and a great shop. I even won an Acid Fat Tips t-shirt, who remembers those? I never smoked one, but it was supposed to be a mass market Acid with a plastic tip, but it never really caught on.  Anyway, if you haven’t met Pedro, don’t miss the chance, and if you have, well, you know why I’m recommending you meet him! I didn’t take one darned picture the whole evening dammit.

 

Mojo1Thursday found me at Cigar Mojo for a packed house. Earlier in the day they had visits from Nick Perdomo and Jesus Fuego, but the evening event featured Aging Room Cigars and Rafael Nodal, along with his sons Carlos and Rafael Jr.  I continued the maduro theme with an Aging Mojo2Room Maduro that was the free cigar with purchase, Rafael said the bundle came from his personal humidor and they were from the initial release. Once again, this was a nice smoke, very rich with a nice sweet mocha vibe, fortunately I picked up a few more, as well as some Mojo3Havao. I generally run into someone I know there and caught up with some old acquaintances from another shop I’ve been to. I had a nice time conversing with Rafael and his sons, Rafael is one of the nicest guys around.

 

Fratello_Bianco_IIFriday evening I was back in my routine of taking Macha for a walk and enjoying a cigar, and I selected a Fratello Bianco II Toro to celebrate the end of another week. Omar made this cigar with me specifically in mind! (I have an e-mail from him saying that, but I don’t really buy it…). The San Andreas wrapper is a beautiful dark brown with a sheen of oil, it’s dark, even though the cigar is named “White”. It has a Dominican binder and fillers from Nicaragua, Peru and Pennsylvania, my home state (maybe Omar wasn’t blowing smoke up my skirt after all! **now there’s a mental image for you!**).  If I knew nothing more than the composition of this cigar I’d figure it was a really good chance I’d love it, but I also know where it’s made and the guy behind it, there would have to be something monumentally wrong for me not to like this cigar.  As it turns out, all my preconceptions did not lead to disappointment.  The Fratello Bianco is a brilliant cigar. It has the similarity to strong, bitter black coffee that I like, as well as a solid core of savory flavor and perhaps a hint of sweetness. This is an after dinner espresso (double, it was a 6″x 50 toro after all).  I dig it, I can’t wait to smoke the 5″ x 56 III and the corona that Omar so generously sent to me, and buy some of these when they hit the stores. I may even put the mooch on Omar at the trade show in a few weeks (naw, I’ll leave the samples for the retailers…). This is a winner, hands down.  Molto buon sigaro!

 

So ends another week. It did nothing but rain yesterday, so I got nothing done save for smoking a nice Inca Secret Blend Imperio after dinner on the back porch, breaking my maduro binge.  If you happen to find yourself in Easton, PA today (Sunday June 28), Rafael Nodal is going to be playing piano at Leaf, the great restaurant at Famous Smokeshop.  Going to events at shops is a great way to increase your appreciation for cigars, as well as add some new stock to your humidors. Support your local retailers, and Cigar Rights of America while you’re at it!

 

Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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Larceny by Ortega and El Primer Mundo Cigars

Eddie Ortega and Sean Williams teamed up recently and produced Larceny in two blends, with each blending the cigar to what they considered the other’s taste.  The cigars were made at Eric Espinoza’s La Zona factory in Esteli, a factory that has been cranking out some consistently great cigars in my opinion. These are really limited, they only made three hundred boxes, with each box containing ten of each blend.  The Ortega Larceny by Sean Williams has a beautiful San Andrés maduro wrapper with filler and binder from Nicaragua, and the EPM Larceny by Eddie Ortega has an Ecuador Oscuro wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and filler. Both cigars are 6½ x 52, a bit of a toro extra, and a very nice size for warm summer (almost) evenings. Will Cooper was kind enough to send me a pair of these, I haven’t seen them in my neck of the woods.

 

Larceny_EPMBy the “oscuro” in the EPM Larceny by Eddie Ortega wrapper name you’d think it was darker than the maduro, but it is actually a milk chocolate brown.  I thought it looked reminiscent of Ortega’s Cubao line in appearance, maybe that’s just the power of suggestion and if I didn’t know who was behind this I probably would make that association.  I really enjoyed the cigar, it was well made and gave me no trouble while smoking it even though I managed to get caught in a brief rain shower while walking with this cigar.  The flavors were what I consider earthy, and to my palate that generally includes leather and wood, with a bit of sweetness. It started out medium, but ended up pretty darned strong.  I like Eddie’s work, so I figured I’d like this.  I don’t have enough experience with the El Primer Mundo line to be able to draw a comparison, but I’ve liked what I’ve smoked of Sean’s lines, especially his La Hermandad.

 

Larceny_OrtegaThe Ortega Larceny by Sean Williams had a dark, San Andrés wrapper not unlike the Murcialago from years ago.  While I was continually confused about who blended which for who, I totally get where Sean was going with this, having enjoyed Ortega’s cigars for many years.  This cigar is a powerhouse, loaded with the bitter coffee and chocolate flavors that I like a lot.  Once again, great construction which I’ve found to be very consistent with the output of La Zona.  I see where Smoke Lounge in Manyunk, PA was on the list of shops to have these, I’ve been meaning to check that place out anyway, I’ll have to see if they have any of these and get some more.  While this cigar  was more in my personal wheel house, I really enjoyed both blends on their own. Unfortunately the packaging and marketing of these almost forces comparison and competition, and I’m not sure that’s fair as they are both quite excellent cigars on their own.  Thanks again to Coop for hooking me up with these!

 

It’s a short one today.  It’s Father’s Day, and I have planned my traditional Father’s Day cigar at some point, one I’ve smoked every Father’s Day for the last 16 years, a vintage Esperanza para los Niños torpedo, made by Christian Eiroa in the late 90’s to benefit the children orphaned by Hurricane Mitch in Honduras. I was almost out of these until my good friend Mike Perry sent me a handful so I can continue the tradition for a few more years! It’s always interesting to see how another year has treated this blend, which was pretty heavy to begin with and had mellowed over the years. Other than that, I have no plans as of yet beyond celebrating the first day of summer and longest day of the year.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

 

 

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Nestor Miranda Collection One Life Edition Danno 2015 Cigars

Last Saturday, while I was goofing off in Philadelphia at Holt’s, I was missing Nestor Miranda at the Wooden Indian in Havertown, just a few long miles away. I certainly would have gone there if I hadn’t had something else planned, but Jason at Miami Cigar and Co. was kind enough to send me a couple of the new Nestor Miranda Collection One Life Edition Danno 2015 cigars, and I spent the first part of the week smoking each blend. This cigar is basically the same blend as the Nestor Miranda Collection One Life Edition, but tweeked to work in the 7″ x 56 size which the previous Danno releases have been. These are made at Pepin Garcia’s My Father Factory in Esteli. This is a large cigar, and I like spending a good two hours with a cigar on warm, late spring evenings.  Regular readers will be able to guess which wrapper I started out with, but my be surprised which ended up being my favorite of the three!  Spoiler alert: they were all excellent.

 

Nestor Miranda Collection_Danno2015_MaduroHad I been smoking these back to back in one day, I would have started with the Connecticut, moved on the the Habano, then finished off with the Maduro, but I went in reverse order, starting with the maduro. This is listed as Broadleaf Maduro, which I can assume is grown in Connecticut.  It’s a dark brown, and has the new style red,black and silver band, very stunning in appearance. The cigar burned very well, and had a sweet flavor with some coffee and cocoa and a little bit of the spice from some Peruvian leaf in the filler.  I enjoyed the heck out of this cigar, and it fell on the heavier side of medium to my palate.  This is a really nice cigar.

 

Nestor Miranda Collection_Danno2015_HabanoMonday I enjoyed the Habano version.  Despite the fact that I had to re-light it frequently, it was a tasty smoke.  I think the Nicaraguan Habano wrapper is a bit more sensitive to humidity than the maduro, although that makes little sense to me, as broadleaf is typically thicker.  I think it was pretty humid on Monday, and there may have been a storm that evening.  I am looking forward to smoking this again in a few months, as the flavor of the cigar was really quite good with some sweet woody flavors.  This one has a bit of Brazilian leaf in the filler, probably giving it that little sweetness.  This will be a terrific smoke when it dries a little, I’ll take the blame for smoking these too soon off the truck.  I would not avoid this of you are a fan of Medium bodied Habano wrapped cigars.

 

Nestor Miranda Collection_Danno2015_ConnecticutTuesday I went with the Connecticut. This one has fillers from Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic, and the same Niucaraguan binder as the other two.  The shade grown wrapper is flawless, and, like the other two, this has a bit of a pigtail cap, although on my example it was a bit flattened down. things like that don’t bother me as I’m only lopping that bugger off anyway. This may be surprising, but this one may have been my favorite of the bunch!  Smooth, creamy and on the milder side of medium.  I was recently asked to recommend some lighter cigars, and this should be added to the list. I have to be in the mood for a shade wrapped cigar, and luckily I got in the mood real quick, as this was well balanced and exactly what I look for in this style of cigar.  Very well done.

 

LaAuroraPreferidosCorojoTonight I selected another cigar from the Miami Cigar and Co. stable, but I probably would have smoked it regardless of the fact that I was smoking the Nestor Miranda Collection Dannos.  I picked up some La Aurora Preferidos Corojo #2 at my local shop for the low low price of $5.99 each, and took one for my evening walk. I have a tradition of smoking a La Aurora Puro Vintage 2003 whenever a granddaughter is born, and today was my youngest granddaughter’s second birthday. Close enough.  While the 5″ x 54 Preferidos No.2 was a bit short for my three mile walk, it was loaded with flavor.  It was a very enjoyable smoke and I’ll keep picking a few up at that price when I see them. The perfecto shape is a lot of fun too. It’s a tasty little smoke.

 

That’s it for this special mid-week edition!  Many thanks to Miami Cigar and Co. for providing me with these samples. Stay tuned for some new humidor news and another contest in the near future, and I’m getting prepared for the upcoming IPCPR show.  Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

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