Gran Habano, Martinez and Foundry Cigars

GranHabano_Gran Reserva No5 2010_GranRobustoThe weather’s been all over the place this week, from 70 on Monday to a few inches of heavy, wet snow today.  Between the weather, trying to get stuff done in the house so we can move in this weekend, and Thanksgiving tomorrow, it’s been a busy week. I still managed to get a few cigars in, they are helping me retain any sanity I have left.  I started off Sunday afternoon with a nice cigar from Gran Habano, the Gran Reserva No. 5 2010 Gran Robusto. This is a 6″ x 54 toro presented with a cedar sleeve.  The wrapper and binder are identified as Corojo 2005 and Habano 2005 respectively, with filler from Jalapa.  I’m not entirely sure where the 2010 comes into play, or whether the 2005 wrapper and binder are crop years, but this is a really nice cigar. It burned perfectly and had a nice smooth spice. This was a full flavors smoke and considering it’s priced well, has the taste and feel of the well aged cigar that it apparently is.  Certainly a cigar that would have a broad appeal and could be smoked just about any time.

 

Martinez_Pasion_550Monday’s cigar was delicious, but it was a little over humidified, so I’ll revisit it at a later date. It didn’t smoke they way it should have and I always give cigars the benefit of the doubt when they don’t  work right.  Tuesday I decided to try a cigar I bought when I was in New York City a few weeks ago and visited the Martinez Cigar factory. This cigar was from their Pasion line, which is a blend of Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers with a Nicaraguan wrapper rolled right in New York City.  When I tell you this factory is small, I’m not exaggerating. They have one and a half pairs of IMG_0625rollers! One roller concentrates on one line and makes a bunch of their small cigars every day, and a pair works in the normal fashion of a buncher and a wrapper.  They age all their cigars in a basement escaparate.  It’s a tiny little hole in the wall near Penn Station. The Pasion is a little rustic looking, but it had a free draw and had a very Cuban feel to way it smoked. The flavor had a nice spice and was smooth.  This is a place to visit when in the big apple, especially if you’ve never seen cigars being rolled.  The cigars are in the $8 to $10 range for the most part,  which isn’t uncommon for NYC.

 

Foundry_RareAir_ET-P2Tonight, in the snow, I smoked a Foundry Rare Air ET-P2 in a 5 ½” x49 robusto (the same size as the Partagas Robusto, which is an unusual size that I really like).  The story with the Rare Air series is that they used some seeds from the 1960s that General Cigar has in their library of seeds, germinated and grown on their farm in Mao in the Dominican Republic. I had the good fortune to visit Mao in 2011, although it was before the growing season and was just being planted with some experimental crops unrelated to Foundry.  As with most of the Foundry lines, there is little info about the blend, except that it’s grown in the Dominican Republic. I personally have really enjoyed the majority of cigars in the Foundry portfolio, DSCN2324and this was no different. It’s a dark cigar, with rich, lush flavors that suit my palate to a tee. It also has a little different something there that makes it unique, and special.  This is one of those cigars that could be a go-to smoke, it’s a shame it’s limited.  I’ll be interested to see how the other cigars in this line smoke. There are a lot of very reasonably priced cigars in the Foundry line, alas, this isn’t one, coming in just under $10.  A fine smoke in my humble opinion.

 

That’s it for now.  For all my American readers, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving! Try to find time to follow your feast with a nice smoke. Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

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Crux Cigars and a House of Emilio Event at The Wooden Indian

Crux_NinfamaniacDarkFriday night’s smoke was an interesting one. Back in August I picked up an interesting cigar, the Crux Ninfamaniac Dark.  This is a cool 7″ x 33 cigar is based on an old Cuban size, the Ninfa. The difference is that the Cuban Ninfa size is a parejo, and this Ninfamaniac is tapered on both ends. It’s a really nice looking cigar and it’s priced pretty reasonably, about $6.  I should have picked up the lighter wrapped version as well, the difference being that the dark version has a sungrown Habano wrapper grown in Jalapa, while the lighter one might be shade grown (I’m assuming based upon the description on their website, listing one as “Habano Jalapa” and one as “Habano Sungrown Jalapa”. Having not visited Jalapa, I can’t say if the grow shade grown wrapper or not).  This cigar is fun to smoke. It’s got a great flavor, rich, chewy, really nice. It burned very well and had a burn time similar to that of a Robusto sized cigar.  An added benefit is that it’s easy to manage with gloves on, which is an important thing when it’s flippin’ cold out!  I can see keeping some of these around, they don’t take up a lot of space!  Based on this cigar, I look forward to trying their other offerings, for a new company it seems like they’re doing things right.

 

imageSaturday I went down to Havertown, PA to the Wooden Indian for a House of Emilio event.  The owner of the shop’s son, Alex, recently became the northeast area rep for Emilio, and Gary Griffith was also on hand. I haven’t seen Gary in quite a while, which is a shame because he doesn’t live far away, but I’ve been missing his Delaware Cigar Festival for he last couple years and we just haven’t crossed paths.  They did something a little interesting that I imagethought was pretty neat. They had made samplers up of cigars from five of the House of Emilio brands, in mild, medium and strong categories. I picked up one of the medium samplers, which included a 1502 Nicaragua, a Nomad S-307, an Emilio Mia Dora, a 1502 Ruby and an Ezra Zion FHK. For $28 this was a really nice selection.  I also picked up a 1502 Black Gold Toro and an Ezra Zion Tantrum PA.  I promptly lit up the 1502 Nicaragua and proceeded to catch up with Alex and Gary.  I also was hanging out with a couple of Social Media celebrities from the north Joisey area, Matty Rock and Peter Totaro, who stopped in for the imageevent (and went on to visit the cheese steak shops in Philly, much to the delight of the local economy! Imagine turning these two loose in the Reading Terminal Market!).  Also in attendance was Alex Hirsh, of Evil Genius Cigars. The 1502 Nicaragua is a fine cigar, certainly medium and well balanced. I think I prefer the Ruby and Black Gold lines, but this was certainly a great cigar.  I followed that up with the Ezra imageZion Tantrum PA, with is a longer version of the Tantrum, measuring 6½ x 44.  Once again, this was a very good smoke.  I think the added length tempers the blend a little as the Tantrum was a very strong cigar.  Full of hearty flavor and it burned perfectly, although I dropped an ash on the way to the ashtray. The shop had a lot of traffic, which is probably pretty normal for a cold Saturday afternoon.  Dave Mayer had a lot of interesting and hard to find cigars in his shop, including some of the original Ezra Zion Inceptions, and some hard to find Liga Privada Unicos.  As always, it was a great event, if you find your self in the Philadelphia area, The Wooden Indian has to be a shop to visit.

 

Nomad_C-276_RobustoWhen I got home I took a walk with the dog and a Nomad C-295 robusto. This is a nice, box pressed robusto that is made at the AJ Fernandez factory in Esteli. The blend has five filler tobaccos, including some from Ometepe, for which the cigar is named in a rather roundabout way.  In Fred Rewey’s own words: “The name C-276 also has a back story. The “C” is for Concepción, one of two volcanoes on Ometepe Island. “276″ is the square kilometers of the island.”  I’ve really enjoyed this cigar in the past, it’s loaded with dark, lush flavors, just like a strong espresso, which is a profile I enjoy. This is probably better if you haven’t already had two cigars over the course of the day, but it has the horsepower to cut through and deliver a satisfying smoking experience. On a side note, I’m hooked on the ScrewPop Punch 2.0, as I have been using it exclusively. It makes a clean punch like a hot knife through butter. By the way, I finally got in touch with Jeff K, and his ScrewPop Punch (and maybe something to test it out on) will go out in tomorrow’s mail. Back to the Nomad, it’s a darned tasty smoke, worth a try.

 

That’s it for today, back to the new house to do some work so we can get moved in next week. Also, the 12DoSCG humidor is almost filled to capacity! It’s going to be a pretty amazing couple weeks, folks! I just have to get to taking some pictures and getting the posts ready to go. Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

 

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Black Abyss, Dominican Big Leaguer and 601 La Bomba Cigars and an AshStay

It’s gotten cold here in PA, but fortunately no snow like in some areas of the country. I’m sure in February temps in the 30s will feel balmy, but in November it’s too cold, too soon.  Looks like I’ll be dipping into the supply of smaller cigars for a while!  In other news, I came across an ashtray via a Twitter follow called “AshStay”  This is a covered ashtray that actually looks pretty nifty. The one problem I have with the video they have on their site is that the woman in the video complains that her husband and his friends love cigars and she has to clean up after them.  Gentlemen, there’s no reason we can’t clean up after ourselves!  I get having a nice, covered ashtray like this to keep the wind from blowing ash all over, but I think we are all capable of emptying our ashtrays and not burdening our significant others with cleaning up our messes.  Of course, if your wife joins you for a smoke, she can pitch in with the clean up, but I would bet that making your spouse clean up after you will not endear you to her!  Just a public service announcement (and a little unsolicited plug for a pretty cool product!).

 

BlackAbyss_HydraMonday, before it got awfully cold, I selected a cigar that’s an exclusive to JR Cigars, the Black Abyss Hydra, a 6″ x 52 Torpedo. This line has a San Andrés maduro wrapper, and is made by Jochi Blanco at Tabacalera Palma.  Of course, this is a hot factory with some great cigars in their portfolio.  I enjoy this reasonably priced line, it’s got a fairly typical Mexican Maduro profile that I love, and burns very well.  It’s medium bodied and had a nice sweetness and coffee flavors. This is a tough cigar to pass up in the under $4 price range.

 

DominicanBigLeaguer_Maduro_La MaquinaTuesday the cold set in, so I picked a short cigar. I met Francisco Almonte, the owner of Dominican Big Leaguer Cigars, at The Smokin’ Goose a couple months ago. I was first introduced to this line by my local tobacconist, Jeff, at JM Cigars who was really taken with the brand.  I chose the 4″x60 DBL Maduro La Maquina, another San Andrés wrapped cigar. This is one of those cigars that I’ll be interested in trying again under better conditions as I’m not willing to judge a cigar smoked on a cold and windy night.  The burn was uneven, but it had a very nice flavor. On the milder side with the earthy, espresso flavor one might expect.  This hard to find line is a bit of a surprise, they are making some nice cigars.

 

601_La Bomba_AtomTonight I chose one of my last 601 La Bomba Atoms.  I’ve had a craving for one of these all week, and this corona gorda size was perfect for a cold evening. This cigar is from the original My Father production, as I’ve had these in my humidor for quite some time. The current production is made in Erik Espinosa’s La Zona factory, so I’m sure the newer ones are on a par with the old, although I haven’t had a new one yet.  This is a powerhouse, plenty of flavor to gut through the wintry temps, but smooth and balanced too. The burn was perfect, as was the draw. I know I have one or two of these left, and I look forward to trying the new production one of these days.  I can’t think of a cigar from La Zona that I didn’t like.   The La Bomba impressed me from the first time I smoked one with Eddie Ortega when this was a part of the EO Brands stable and they continue to be a favorite.

 

I continue to be grateful and impressed by the goodies that are coming in for next month’s 12 Days of Spectacular Cigar Giveaways!  At the risk of jinxing myself, this might be the most stress free series of contests yet. I could just about run the contest now with the great contest presents I’ve already received, and there’s more to come. I may have to turn sponsors away (but I doubt I’d do something so silly)!  Stay tuned, this will be the best year yet for the 12DoSCG! If you need a contest to enter in the mean time, check out that awesome Norteño ashtray stand and humidor from Drew Estate.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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A Hand Rolled Cigar, a Chillin Moose, and a La Antigudad

First a couple housekeeping items!  I sent Tim his prize from  the ScrewPop contest yesterday, but I haven’t heard from Jeff Ketcham yet!  Jeff was a prize winner in the 12 Spectacular Days of Cigar Giveaways in 2011 and 2012, so I probably have an address someplace, but I hate to ship without verifying addresses.  I suppose I’ll drop him a note if I don’t hear from him soon. I sure hate having to chase people :-).  Speaking of the 12 Spectacular Days of Cigar Giveaways, it’s on pace to commence on December 12, and if I had to start today I could pull off a 8 Crazy Days of Cigar Giveaways (don’t think it hasn’t crossed my mind, 12 days is a long stretch at an already busy time of year!) thanks to the generosity and expedience of several of this year’s sponsors!  The prize coolerdor is filling up and it’s likely to be another exciting couple of weeks!  If you aren’t already, subscribe to the e-mail list (on the left sidebar) so you get a reminder when I update, which in the case of the 12 Spectacular Days of Cigar Giveaways will be daily!  So get ready to join in the fun, I already have some great cigars lined up.

 

HandRolledCigars_2GuysThursday evening called for a short smoke.  Last year when we went up to New Hampshire for a weekend we paid a visit to 2 Guys Smokeshop in Nashua to spend some time with David and Mr. Jonathan and I picked up a couple of David’s Hand Rolled Cigars that he had for Halloween.  As you can see in the picture, this is about a 4″ x 50ish cigar wrapped in a paper wrapper similar to a Tootsie Roll candy wrapper made at the Camacho factory.  I cant find any information on this cigar as it was a limited release, but  remember them coming in jars. I think it’s a risky play packaging cigars to look like candy in this day and age, but I understand that it’s Dave’s bit of a middle finger to the nannies.  Anyway, the cigar was pretty good, nothing really memorable or outstanding, just a nice, solid half hour smoke that behaved itself and was satisfying. I’m still stuck on using the Screwpop punch, which worked very well on this cigar (and the rest of the cigars I smoked this week, so I don’t have to repeat myself!)  I have one left from last year, but I kinda wished I had bought more, as I can see that it would be fun to have a pocket full of these to share, perhaps on Halloween night while the dad’s are walking around with their kids. I’m sure that’s politically incorrect, but the heck with it!

 

ChillinMoose_CoronaFriday evening I wanted another shorter smoke, so I went with a Chillin’ Moose Corona from Foundry Tobacco.  This is a budget cigar, comes in under $3.00 here in PA and is from the mind of Michael Giannini. I like the size of this corona, 5 ½” x 45, and features a  blend of Nicaraguan, Dominican, US Broadleaf, and Mexican San Andres tobacco with an Ecuador Sumatra binder and a Connecticut Habano Rosado wrapper.  That’s an impressive list of tobacco for a very inexpensive cigar.  It is a very good cigar for the money, but, once again, it’s not particularly interesting, but it served its propose in being a good companion on my evening walk and giving me some entertainment. I’m a moose fan from way back so the packaging appeals to me, it’s a Chillin’ Moose! I also am a fan of the Foundry line in general, I enjoy the innovation and know I’m in for something unique and different when I light up a Foundry cigar.

 

LaAntiquidad_ToroSaturday after a nice steak dinner out with my wife, I came home to a La Antiqudad from My Father Cigars. This one was the Toro size, which is 5.6″ x 55, which is very close to the  size of the Robusto in that line, which is 5.2″ x 52.  This is a box pressed cigar with an Ecuador Habano Rosado wrapper surrounding a double binder of Nicaraguan Criollo and Corojo and Nicaraguan fillers from Esteli, Condega and Jalapa.  I really enjoyed the rich,  thick flavors that this cigar started out with. It had the “Pepin” spice to start out that seems to be a hallmark, and mellowed out about half way though. The burn was perfect, with one exception. At one point I noticed it flattened out in the flavor department, and the wrapper had stopped burning. I relit it and the flavor came right back, which tell you how much the wrapper contributes to the flavor. Good cigar, I’m glad I have a robusto in the humidor for another time. One other thing about this cigar is the band, which is absolutely beautiful and classic.

 

That’s it for today. Off to the new house to cut down some more shrubbery to make way for a fence that’s going in on Wednesday.  Good fences make good neighbors and Macha need a safe place to run around when we aren’t taking our walks!  So until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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Gurkha, Rocky Patel, Blanco’s Primos, Straight Jacket and Contest Winners!

First a little rant, then we;ll get on to some cigars and contest winners.  This week it was reported that the city of Philadelphia proposed a tax on cigars and “other tobacco products” to help fund the schools. They apparently already levied a tax on cigarettes recently for the same reason and now they are going after the rest. What they don’t understand is that this tax will either close, or drive out many cigar shops (Holts has a large presence in Philadelphia), taking business and payroll taxes out of the city, and even if there are cigar stores left, people will make a short trip to the surrounding suburbs to shop. The city will not only fail to collect the taxes they want for the schools, but they will lose the other taxes. Once again, short sighted government actions hurt many and benefit nobody. This was reported on The Cigar Authority where you can read the full text of the proposal.

 

Gurkha_Xtreme_XOSunday, after breaking my back once again doing yard work at the new house, I took a nice, long walk with a Gurkha Xtreme XO, the 6″ x 60 size.  Obviously this is a new cigar in Gurkha’s core line, as there is no blend information on their website. I saw Bianca,  Gurkha’s Marketing Manager, three times over the last few months, and she gave me this cigar on one of those occasions. I actually can’t recall which.  It had been in my humidor for a few months so I figured it was time to dig it out. As with all the cigars I smoked this week, I used the Screwpop punch which gave me an acceptable draw. I expected a powerhouse cigar, based on the name. The cold draw and aroma off the wrapper was like freshly tanned leather. It wasn’t anywhere near as strong as I expected, it was solidly medium and had a consistent leathery flavor all the way through. It was a really nice cigar, but I had hoped it was a bit stronger.

 

RockyPatel_Platinum_RobustoMonday I grabbed a Rocky Patel Platinum which I got back at Cigar  Mojo‘s Anniversary/Halloween event. This box pressed robusto was a very nice cigar. This had a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper with a San Andrés binder and fillers from Esteli and Condega.  I knew there was some reason I liked this cigar!  The combination of Broadleaf and San Andrés gave it a nice, sweet and earthy flavor. I was quite happy with this cigar, and it burned very nice. I have to keep an eye out for more of these, it was the free cigar with a purchase of four RP cigars, so I have no concept of what the Platimum costs. I will say that it was well worth what I paid for it!

 

Primos_Rosado_ToroTuesday evening I had my mind set on smoking something strong, dark and familiar, but at the last minute I came across a cigar that David Blanco gave me when I saw him at The Smokin’ Goose festival in September. The Primos Estate Selection Habano Criollo Rosado in the toro size, 6″ x 52, has a ruddy Habano Rosado wrapper grown in Nicaragua, with fillers from Nicaragua, Honduras and Peru.  I tend to enjoy cigar with Peruvian tobacco in the blend, and I  enjoyed this cigar. It’s getting to be the time of year where I gravitate toward bolder cigars, and this one had some more delicate, subtle flavors that were nearly lost on me, but they were there and I enjoyed the sweetness and medium bodied tobacco flavor.  I think this would be a great morning or early afternoon smoke.

 

Asylum_StraightJacket_RobustoTonight I finally broke into the Asylum Straight Jacket box that I won in the silent auction benefiting Operation: Cigars for Warriors at the Smokin’ Goose fest.  I took a run out to Goose’s Tobacco a  couple weeks ago and settled up, between the new house and the car/deer mergence a few weeks back, it was hard to get out there.  These are a limited edition cigar made in Honduras at the Fabrica Unidas’ El Aladino factory with Nicaraguan tobacco. These are supposed to be the strongest Asylum cigar yet, and I’d tend to agree.  This is exactly what I’ve been craving. It’s smoke is dense and full of heavy, creamy flavor. I have enjoyed everything I’ve smoked from Tom Lazuka’s crazy Asylum line, but this one is the pick of the litter for sure!  Even the burn was perfect with that nice, flat burn that I love.

 

Contest!

 

screwpop2.0We had a pretty good turnout for the two Screwpop 2.0 Cigar Punches (and whatever cigars fall into the box…you’ll have to trust me).  This will be the last contest for a month, at which time I’ll launch into the forth annual 12 Spectacular Days of Cigar Giveaways.  I’ve already gotten some spectacular prizes in the pipeline, soon I’ll have to put the temporary prize coolerdor into service again as the goodies roll in.  Get ready, it’s going to be pretty darned cool.  Anyway, we had 37 entries and Random.org chose number 12 and 35, so the winners are Jeff Ketcham and Tim! Please e-mail me your addresses so I can get these cool new tools out to you.  Thanks to everyone and stay tuned for the big show in a few weeks!

 

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

 

CigarCraig

 

 

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