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

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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

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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

 

 

 

 

 

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San Lotano Bull, Aging Room Havao, A Flores AFR-75 Cigars and the Contest Winner

SanLotano_Bull_ToroI’ve been poking around the humidor lately looking for some interesting cigars and came across a San Lotano Bull Toro Friday. AJ Fernandez has been getting a ton of attention lately for his work with other companies, notably General Cigars and Altadis. I figured it would be good to spotlight the San Lotano as the companies own brands seem to be flying under the radar a little. Sure the New World and Bellas Artes get a little attention, but I really enjoyed the San Lotano line, specially the full-bodied The Bull. I find it funny that they called the 6″ x 54 the Toro, seems redundant to me, but what else would you call it?  This cigar has a dark Ecuador Sumatra wrapper, with binder and filler AJ Fernandez’ proprietary tobacco grown on their farms. There aren’t many AJF cigars I don’t like, the Bull is one I really like. It’s got the coffee and spice I want with a hint of wood from the cedar sleeve and a year or so in the humidor. Perfect draw and burn made this a great cigar to end the week.  Abdel Fernandez is a tobacco and cigar genius, his factories make great cigars.

 

AgingRom_HavaoSaturday I had a chance to enjoy an early cigar and I chose an Aging Room Havao Treble, the 6″ x 50 toro. Funny how 50 ring seems small these days, 6″ x 50 used to be the common toro size, now it’s 52 or 54. This is an elegant cigar in size, appearance and flavor. It’s got an Ecuador Connecticut Shade wrapper and Habano Criollo in the filler and binder. I generally stay away from Criollo wrappers, but this cigar works very well with it in the filler. It’s a terrific smoke, it’s loaded with flavor, lots of depth with the creaminess from the shade wrapper. This was an absolutely wonderful cigar for the time, and it was very well-behaved with a perfectly straight burn line. Now that Altadis is distributing the Aging Room line, and Rafael Nodal is working for them, it’ll be interesting to see where this brand goes. I would choose this over a Connecticut wrapped Monte any day of the week, personally, so I hope the competition isn’t bad for the Aging Room brand.

 

AFlores_AFR-75_SanAndres_CatadorI was hunting for a short smoke before going out to see a friend’s band play, and came across a cigar from PDR Cigars that I forgot I had. Maybe I thought it was a L’Atelier maduro as it was face down in the tray, or it just got buried. I actually can’t even recall where this cigar came from. As the size was what I was looking for, I looked closer and was delighted to find that it was an A. Flores AFR-75 Catador, a cool little 4″ x 54 pigtailed robusto. This cigar has a San Andrés wrapper, Criollo 98 Nicaragua binder and Habano D.R., Connecticut Broadleaf & Criollo 98 Nicaragua fillers. Again with the Criollo, interesting. If you haven’t tried this cigar, it’s worth seeking out and dropping a few bucks on, because they are on the high side, this little guy coming in just north of $12. this price point tells me that someone must have given this to me or it was a sample, as I probably wouldn’t have shelled out that kind of coin for such a small cigar. It is a brilliant smoke though, dark espresso and a surprisingly long burn of around an hour. It’s a super premium cigar, but it’s super good, so worth it in my opinion.

 

Contest

 

ContestLast week I threw out a contest for a whole bunch of cool odds and ends that have been accumulating around here and I’ll never use. It seems right to share them with someone who will appreciate them. I’m sure some cigars will be included to keep stuff from rattling around in the box!  I see there were 26 entries, less one for Olie who won the last time. The Random Number Generator at Random.org spit out the number 12 out of 25, which corresponds to Dave Wisniewski, who commented that this would make a nice Father’s Day present. I think Dave is fairly local to me, so either he gets his address to me in a hurry and I can get it out this week, or week work out a meet-up which is always fun.  Dave, you know how to reach me!  Thanks to all of you who took the time to enter, I’ll scrounge more goodies up for a future contest! 

 

That’s all for today, I’ve got a deck that needs power-washing, which isn’t a good activity to enjoy a cigar, so it’ll wait until after!  Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

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More Tatuaje Cigars: K222, Havana VI and Cheesesteak

tatuaje K222I went on a bit of a Tatuaje bender this week, starting off with the great Seleccion de Cazador Miami K222 Reserva.  This is a cigar that I have smoked a couple of and really like. It’s a 5 7/8″ x 52 Toro with an Ecuador Habano wrapper. The cigar is named for Pete Johnson’s Rottweiler, Kona, who passed away  after a battle with cancer which previously resulted in the loss of a leg. Having a three-legged dog myself, I have a great deal of empathy, even though Macha’s leg was lost due to an accident. Also, as a dog lover, I sympathize with anyone who loses a beloved pet. The K222 is a wonderful cigar, loaded with dark, rich flavor that’s perfect for my palate. The size is great, the rustic appearance is great, there’s not muck for me not to like about this cigar.

 

Tatuaje Havana VIWithout even thinking I selected a Tatuaje Havana VI Nobles that had been gifted to me quite a while ago by Dan, a great reader and someone I consider a friend I haven’t met yet. the 5″x 50 size was perfect for a late walk after catching an early movie (Wonder Woman: pretty good flick!). This cigar  fascinated me. I’m certain I’ve smoked from the Havana VI line before, but I didn’t recall the sweet, almost floral flavors I got from this robusto. There was a very unique and refreshing character to the first half, and it built in strength in the second half to more of the cocoa flavors I would expect. I may have more of these around, but if I don’t I’ll be picking some up. Thank you to Dan for sharing this great smoke with me!

 

Tatuaje CheesesteakLast night I figured, what the heck, and grabbed what Pete told me is a Tatuaje Cheesesteak, an unbanded toro that was  in the Oh F*ck I’m Lost pack that I had bought at the tour stop at Cigar Mojo in King of Prussia, PA a few months ago. Since we are close to Philadelphia, and the Cheesesteak is one of the more famous local cuisines, this was an appropriate inclusion in the five-pack, which included some Pudgy Monsters and a Black Label CRA toro. I believe this was an event exclusive for one of Pete’s “Mega Herf” events. Holy crap was this a great cigar! It was smooth as butter, or should I say Cheeze Wiz, I wasn’t expecting such a medium bodied, silky smoke. Tatuaje OFILOnce again, it had an interesting spice component that was so appealing. I’ll likely never have the opportunity to smoke one of these again, but if they were available I’d stock a humidor with these, it was that good. This may have been one of the best cigars I’ve smoked in a very long time. Exceptional cigar, I’d smoke this over eating a cheesesteak in a heartbeat, and I love a cheesesteak.

 

That’s all for now. I have to make some travel arrangements as I’ve decided to attend the IPCPR show this year after all. I was on the fence for several reasons, but an opportunity arose and I took it. Now I need to find some flights and book a room. Don’t forget to go back to my last post and enter the contest if you haven’t already!  Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

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