A Quick Trip to New York City with Some Cigars and a Party

IMG_0610We had an exciting couple of days cigar-wise this week! After fighting with the cold that prevented me from enjoying much of anything for a few days, my wife and I took off Monday morning for the Big Apple, New York City. Of course, there are a lot of great cigar spots in the city. We took a walk toward one of my usual spots, De La Concha. Unfortunately, the shop is closed for renovations and will reopen sometime in the first quarter of IMG_06092015 as Davidoff of Geneva 6th Avenue. They had a temporary store across the street in a nonsmoking building so stopping in for a smoke wasn’t an option.

 

After wandering around some more, and checking in to our hotel on Times Square, we walked a few blocks down 42nd Street to the Nat Sherman Townhouse. Juan greeted us and showed me around, pointing out their cigarette selection, pipes, accessories and finally the humidor. Their humidor is nearly half filled with Nat Sherman cigars, and rounded out with an impressive selection from Padrons to Liga Privada. I noted some La Sirenas and Quesadas and many other great cigars you’d IMG_0611expect. I selected a Nat Sherman Epoca in the Breva corona size and sat down in a comfy leather chair. The shop is a gorgeous space, open to the second floor where the offices are. It’s beautiful. The staff is amazingly attentive and knowledgeable as well. The Epoca was a treat. It billowed sweet smoke and had a very unique exotic spice about mid way through. I rather regret only buying the one cigar to smoke, but I’ll try to find some in PA where pricing should be a little easier to take. It was an exceptional cigar. As we were getting ready to leave Michael Herklots stopped to say hello.

 

Monday evening we had the pleasure of attending a party at The Liberty Warehouse in Brooklyn to celebrate our friends Mitchell and Karyn Orchant’s birthdays, specifically Mitchell’s 50th. Mitchell and Karyn share the same birthday, however Karyn is much younger than her husband. The venue is amazing, overlooking the Statue of Liberty, and was lavishly decorated. There was loads of great food and a bar, and the entertainment for the evening was  the Stan Rubin Orchestra, a 13 piece band playing all the big band classics. It was a beautiful evening so it wasn’t unpleasant to be outside, where there was seating and fire pits.  There were loads of Mitchell’s US friends there, including many I knew from the cigar industry and the old Usenet days. Cigars were plentiful and welcome inside. I started with a  Ramon Allones Specially Selected, and closed the evening with new Inka Secret Blend for the US market.  This cigar was a 6″x 60 Peruvian puro. I’ve smoked the C-Gars Ltd. UK blends before and really liked them, and this version was also very good. I will revisit these in a couple of weeks, but this is a cigar to watch out for, and as soon as I know where these will be available I’ll let you know.  I’m a sucker for cigars with Peruvian tobacco in the blend. It was wonderful to catch up with old friends. Mitchell really knows how to throw a party, it was quite a soiree. Thank you, again, to Mitchell and Karyn for a wonderful evening!

 

 

Tuesday we wandered around Manhattan and made our way to Martinez Cigars on 29th Street.  This is a very small storefront where they are actively making the cigars. There were three men rolling, one pair and a gentleman that does his own bunching and wrapping.  They have aging room in the basement where they age the cigars for six months after they are rolled. I bought a few of the cigars, and smoked a Flatiron No. 6 robusto. This cigar was terrifically constructed. It had some very interesting flavors that I’d characterize as “old school”, not unlike the Epoca from Nat Sherman.  The burn was straight and even and it produced loads of smoke. If you find yourself in the city, stop in and have a smoke and watch the rollers practicing their art.  We wandered back toward Times Square, where I believe you aren’t allowed to smoke, and got some dirty looks. Oh well, I was outside. If they were worried about the children seeing smoking, perhaps they should consider the paradox of Disney and Sesame Street characters wandering around along with patriotic women wearing nothing but a bikini bottom and body paint. Anyway, great cigars, great couple of days!

 

That’s it for now. I’ve managed to beat the cold for the most part, so I should get back to the normal program for Sunday’s post!  Until then,

 

CigarCraig

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No Cigars Since Wednesday and a Few Minutes with Omar of Fratello Cigars

Dark times have descended upon me, as a scourge of sinus and bronchial unrest has made enjoying a cigar impossible.  I felt it coming on Wednesday, but Thursday the cold came on with a vengeance, and has made for a miserable few days. You see, I’ve taken Monday and Tuesday off so my wife and I can go to New York City for a couple days, mainly because we were invited to a 50th birthday party for our dear friend Mitchell, which is taking place in Brooklyn. My primary objective since contracting this abominable affliction is to eradicate it, so I can be in perfect form to enjoy amazing cigars at this soiree.  It would be an insult to our host to be sick at his party.  So, I’ve decided to forgo my daily cigar, not that I even remotely desired one, that’s how abysmal I’ve been feeling, which leaves me with a bit of a content vacuum.  So I’ll just wing it!

 

I have one last video to share from the Rocky Mountain Cigar Festival, and that’s a few minutes talking to my dear freind Omar de Frias from Fratello Cigars.  I’ve featured Omar here before, I first met him at the 2013 IPCPR show where he made his debut and a big splash (more here).  I had the good fortune of spending an afternoon with him at D & S Cigar Lounge in Lancaster, PA (also here) last March. Omar has a commanding presence, and has to be about the hardest working guy in the business since Rocky Patel. How he can hold down a day job, travel all over reping his cigars and stay married is a mystery Here’s the video for your enjoyment!

 

Of course, you can see all of my past video at my Youtube Channel if you are ever really bored. That’s it for today! I’ll have something cool for sure on Wednesday’s post!  Until then,

 

CigarCraig

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Aging Room, Liga Privada and Royal Gold Kismet and Casino Gold Cigars

Thank you all for the kind words about my deer/car incident. There’s a lot of ways it could have turned out much worse, and it sounds like the car will get fixed so I’ll have my sexy black Toyota Yaris back in a few weeks!  I was ready to shop for a used car, something I could pay cash for, but I’d rather have MY used car back, I know where it’s been! I’d have a hard time replacing my Undercrown window sticker anyway!  In other news, this week the announcement came that Swisher International is purchasing Drew Estate, which caused quite a stir in the cigar community. All the folks analyzing this who have no idea about the inner workings drive me a little crazy. As far as I’m concerned, Jonathan Drew and Marvin Samel are very intelligent business men, they wouldn’t have built what they have if they weren’t, and if they are happy, I’m happy. If nothing else, it gives them the ability to do the things they do best without having to worry about the business side as much. The people criticizing this don’t want anything to do with Swisher’s products for the most part. My only concern is the fact that Swisher may not have as big an interest in seeing premium cigars separated from non-premium cigars as far as the FDA is concerned, however now they have a greater interest in doing so. It will be interesting to see what other business moves happen in the cigar industry.

 

AgingRoom_QuatroF55_ConcertoSunday I selected a Aging Room Quatro F55 Concerto, a nice Churchill from Boutique Blends.  I’ve had trouble with many cigars in this line, they tend to put a physical hurtin on me!  I love the flavor, but more times than not they overwhelm me for some reason. Very few cigar get to me the way Aging Room cigars have recently!  this is doubly interesting since it’s a Dominican cigar. I had no such trouble with this size, it was delicious and perfectly behaved.  I’m not surprised that this was the number two cigar of the year last year in Cigar Aficionado, it was a very nice way to finish the weekend. I’ll not be afraid to smoke this line again.

 

LigaPrivadaNo9_CoronaMonday, after hearing the Drew Estate news, I figured I’d smoke something interesting from the Liga Privada line.  Last year around my 50th birthday I received a very generous package from my friend Will Cooper, whom you may know from Cigar-Coop.com and StogieGeeks.com.  In this package was a corona sized Liga Privada No.9, with the story that Steve Saka had these made for his own consumption and shared some with Will. The question is how it compared to the Dirty Rat, which is a similar size. Certainly the Dirty Rat is a stronger cigar, however this No.9 had some age, and the Dirty Rats I’ve had recently also were four or five years old. It’s hard to compare under those circumstances, but the No.9 in the corona size was very nice, although I think the toro size remains my favorite in the line.

 

Royal Gold_Kismet_ChanceI had a couple cigars from Royal Gold, which, ironically, is reasonably new premium cigar division of Swisher International, from when I talked to Alex Goldman at the Famous Smoke Shop Cigarnival back in June. I had smoked and enjoyed the Cameroon wrapped Nirvana, which is made by Drew Estate a couple months ago and had the Casino Gold and the Kismet in the humidor. The Kismet Chance is a 5½” x 46 corona gorda, although thinking back I thought it was a robusto. This is a Dominican puro made at Agusto Reyes factory in Santiago.  I found this to be a very mild and well made cigar, but it was fairly unremarkable. It burned nicely and wasn’t offensive, just didn’t really stand out to me in any way.

 

Royal Gold_Casino Gold_QueenTonight I smoked the Royal Gold Casino Gold HRS in the Queen size. This is a 5¾x52 cigar made by Placencia in Honduras.  I don’t know if it’s because I have a cold coming on or what, but this one fell flat for me too.  Ever have a cigar that isn’t plugged, but draws poorly? Ever wonder why you can blow through a cigar and produce tons of smoke, but drawing produces very little?  I wonder that all the time, and I wondered this again tonight.  It did open up in the second half, and I wonder if the very damp evening air had something to do with it. Chalk it up to experience.  I smoked these this week because I wonder how much attention the Royal Gold division is going to get now that Swisher owns a premium cigar company, factory and all.

 

That’s all I got tonight. I’m watching the Flyers play their arch enemies the Penguins, and they are winning for a change.  I have some great friends that are Penguins fans, but I like them anyway. Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

 

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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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