Philly Cigar Festival Ticket Giveaway!

Image courtesy of the Philly Cigar Festival

Image courtesy of the Philly Cigar Festival

I mentioned this in my last post, and I feel like it’s contest time again!  June 3, 2017 is the date for the upcoming Philly Cigar Festival being held in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. The organizers have offered me a ticket to give away. This will be a multi-vendor event, with cigars, beer, food and drink and representatives from thirty cigar companies, from 11:00am to 4:30pm at The Norco Fairgrounds. Ticket prices run $150 and $200 and covers a bunch of cigars (the FDA no longer allows cigars to be given away). There are a couple of rules, first is you must be 21, and the other is that this giveaway covers the ticket only, you are responsible for getting there. I understand that this will exclude some of you. I will be there, and I hope to get a chance to hang around and have cigars with the winner (and those of you who go!). Cigars for Warriors will be represented and will be benefiting from the event.

 

So that’s it! Leave a comment for a chance to win a ticket, I’ll select a winner one week from today on Wednesday, March 29, 2017. There’s also a raffle on the Philly Cigar Festival Facebook page for two tickets also, so head over there and enter too!

 

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

 

CigarCraig

Must be 21 to win and transportation and lodging are not included in the prize. The prize is one ticket provided my the Phily Cigar Festival.

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Tortuga, Nestor Miranda, and Fratello Cigars

Tortuga_Reserva215_DiplomaticoLast Monday, before it snowed and I smoked a bunch of the Casta Cigars offerings (which, by the way, are only available direct from their website for now), I was in a Tortuga kinda mood, so I picked a single Tortuga Reserva Diplomatico from the humidor. The Diplomatico is a big cigar, 7½” x 58, why I decided on a cigar this large on a winter Monday evening is anyone’s guess. For me, at least, any Tortuga is a good decision, as I love the flavors in this Honduran made Nicaraguan puro. I can always count on the Tortuga line to satisfy me, and the box pressed Reserva line has the right balance of strength and flavor that just always works. I need to catch up with Victor Vitale again soon, he’s been quiet lately. He makes great, under-rated and appreciated cigars. I’m sure some warm, sunny day I’ll wish I had this one back, but it sure hit the spot! Fortunately, I have an old Tortuga Limited Edition and an Ora Vivo Armand Asante in this size still in the humidor.

 

CandelasFriday was Saint Paddy’s Day, and the temptation for me is to smoke a Candela. I rounded up my small stash of Candela cigars, and derivatives (Barber Poles with Candela), and decided I wasn’t in the mood for a Candela, so I found a Nestor Miranda Collection Habano Danno One Life Addition that, at least, had a green band.  This one was a couple years old, and is another formidable sized cigar, measuring 7″ x 56. The Danno line commemorates NMCDannoNestor Miranda’s  late son, Danny. It’s made at the My Father Factory in Esteli and is a wonderful blend of Nicaraguan, Brazilian and Honduran tobaccos. I really like the latest incarnation of the Nestor Miranda Collection cigars, sadly, I only seem to smoke them in the robusto format, which I enjoy in all four varieties (Maduro, Habano, Connecticut and Corojo), this size is special though. It’s more of a good thing.  I remain mystified that two years after re-working the packaging and bands on this line, the website remains out-dated.

 

Fratello_Oro_RobustoYesterday was a damp, overcast Saturday, so after running some errands, doing some good deeds, I relaxed on the porch with a Fratello Oro Robusto, the newest offering from Omar de Frias. I was tempted to smoke this on St. Paddy’s day, considering the irony that the 6’9″ Omar is pretty much the exact opposite of a leprechaun, at least in stature. I could definitely see Omar dancing around in green leprechaun costume.  Gotta say, the Fratello Oro is magically delicious! This Fratello is made in the Dominican Republic, with an Ecuador Connecticut wrapper, Cameroon binder and Dominican, Nicaraguan and Colombian fillers, no Peruvian tobacco in this one! It’s got the creamy, grassy flavor from the Ecuador Connecticut, the sweet “Camerooniness” from the binder, some strength and unique spice from the filler blend. It comes together in a very good, full-flavored cigar! While it didn’t absolutely blow my mind like the Fratello Bianco Boxer torpedo did, it was an excellent cigar with very good flavor and performance. I have yet to meet a Fratello I didn’t like.

 

That’s about all I have for today, hopefully the snow melts off as Spring officially starts tomorrow and we head towards my favorite time of year. Take a look forward to the beginning of June, when the Philly Cigar Festival is being held in Pottstown, PA. In the coming weeks I’m going to have a contest to give away a ticket to this multi-vendor event, so if you’re in the area, or are willing to travel, you might want to get in on the contest. I plan to be there, hopefully some of my readers can join me!  Now, I just need to give the organizers a little grief about using one of my photos on their website without giving me credit!  Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

 

 

 

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Casta Cigars Pre-Embargo Fusion, Puro and Mareba Brazilian Maduro Cigars

Several years ago I remember reading about J. Castañon and his wife settling in York County, PA (which is west of Lancaster where the great PA Broadleaf is grown, and two counties to the west of my home), and having something to do with the 120 year old Hain’s Pipe and Cigar Shop in York and the even older Demuths in Lancaster (some say it’s the oldest cigar shop in the country, “Temporarily” Closed since 2010?). Sadly, I’ve not been to visit either shop, but heard that J. Castañon was launching  Casta Cigars with two of their offerings featuring tobacco from some long-lost bales of Cuban tobacco that was found under a barn in Lancaster County, having been “forgotten” for the last 50 years. Tales of lost pre-embargo tobacco have been told since the boom of the 90s, I think Camacho used some allegedly, and there was a brand called Pinar 3000 that I remember from the 90s that purported to contain some pre-embargo Cuban leaf. I always figured if there was such a thing as 50-year-old tobacco it would be in pretty rough shape, and the cigars would have a sprinkling of flakes in them. Casta Cigars are making two cigars with a large portion of what they term “1942 Pre-Embargo Cuban Picadura Seco Volado“, the Fusion and the Puro, both in Corona sizes, retailing for $15 and $20 respectively. Here’s a quote from their website about J. Castañon:

 

J. Castañon’s legacy first began in Cuba rolling at the legendary Cohiba Cigar Factory. His journey continued in the USA by rolling cigars at the country’s oldest cigar shop, Demuth’s Tobacco Shop in Lancaster, PA. Today, J. Castañon continues to develop wonderful new blends from the Dominican Republic.

 

Casta_FusionYesterday we had a snow day, and after doing some shoveling, I decided it was a good time to smoke some of these cigars. I was skeptical, I mean, 75-year-old tobacco? So I started with the Fusion, which has a 70/30 blend of the Cuban with Brazilian filler, wrapped in a 10-year-old Brazilian wrapper with Indonesian binder. I like Brazilian tobacco, and I don’t expect much from Indonesian, and when I hear Picadura Seco Volado I think Picadura=scrap tobacco, and Seco Volado=low priming, so again, combined with the fact that it’s 75 years old, expectations are lower. I’ve smoked a premium Cuban cigar from the 80s and it was uneventful, but I’ve had a Cuban Davidoff from the 70s that was spectacular. I have to say, the Fusion was pretty good. Construction was excellent, it burned well, and the flavor was pretty good, tobacco with some sweetness. I didn’t feel like I wasted an hour, and was left satisfied.

 

Casta_PuroAfter dinner I decided to give the not quite accurately named Puro a try.  Also presented in a corona size, which isn’t surprising given the rarity of the 75-year-old tobacco, this was also very well made. These didn’t feel like short filler, as hard as it is to believe that bales of tobacco under a barn for 50 years would be anything but dust. Perhaps picadura and seco volado meant something different in 1942 Cuban parlance.  Anyway, it had a decent tobacco flavor and the Brazilian wrapper lent a little sweetness. I smoked both cigars to about a half an inch. I can say I smoked cigars with 75 yer old tobacco, it was a very interesting and unique experience.

 

Casta_Brazilian MarebaTonight I thought give one of their non-pre-emabargo tobacco offerings a try, so I selected the toro shaped Maduro Brazilian Mareba, with a 10-year-old Brazilian maduro wrapper, Indonesian binder and Brazilian filler. These are rolled in the Dominican Republic, and I’m told that J. Castañon likes to hire Cuban rollers, who use the entubado method that Jesus learned while rolling Cohibas in Cuba. While searching around to see if Jesus was his name, it appears that the Mareba has been around for a few years, although it’s somehow eluded my notice. the wrapper has a nice, oily sheen, with a pigtail cap. This was a very flavorful cigar, with some similar flavors to the other two (they all share the 10 year aged wrapper), with a nice, sweet finish. The smoke had some sweet, earthy flavors and, again, the burn and draw was about perfect. I have a couple more sizes to try, the maduro in the gordo shaped Chuco (which would have been tonight’s choice if the weather had been better) the Sombra corona and the Cuerda which is a panatela sharing the Puro blend with the pre-embargo leaf.

 

I had my reservations, but I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor that the ancient tobacco had, and I have to believe what I’ve been told and it’s not marketing BS. I’ve lived in Lancaster County, PA, seen plenty of tobacco farms and barns and I suppose it’s a plausible story.  I didn’t consider smoking any of the cigars a waste of my time, I’m thankful for the chance to try these. Many thanks to Jacob Hammill, president of Casta Cigars, for answering my many questions, answers to many of which I could have found on the website had I looked closer!

 

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

 

CigarCraig

 

 

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Epic Cigars, Literally and Figuratively, a Tatuaje and an Event

Tatuaje_ReservaBroadleaf_J21It’s been a busy couple of days, so I figured I’d start the second half of the week right with what I hoped would be a great cigar.  Last summer at the IPCPR show I stopped into Pete Johnson’s booth where he had Tatuaje, L’Atelier, and his other brands represented, and oddly it wasn’t mobbed. In previous years Pete was pretty hard to get a minute with, so I made a point to visit his booth early. I’m just getting started talking with him when a representative of the IPCPR interrupts to introduce a journalist from the middle east somewhere, who proceeded to talk to Pete for a half an hour with me standing right there, then brought in the middle east distributor who went on for another 15 minutes. I patiently waited, but chastised the previously mentioned IPCPR representative later. Members of the media interrupting retailers and vendors is a big no-no, but it’s OK to interrupt other media members. This is part of the reason I have relinquished my IPCPR membership. Point is, I finally got to talk to Pete for a while, which I greatly appreciated, and he showed us the Reserva Broadleaf series, a collection containing the original 6 Seleccion de Cazador sizes, along with J21, SW, K222 and Cojonu 2003 all with a Connecticut Broadleaf Wrapper. The whole Tatuaje_ReservaBroadleafcollection can be purchased for just under $1200, or they are available separately in bundles of ten. Pete gifted me the J21 size, ironically I had just written about the Habano version in a Prime-Living article. The J21 is a standard 5″ x 50 robusto, obviously wrapped in Connecticut Broadleaf with Nicaraguan binder and fillers. I’m not clear on whether this is rolled in Miami or Nicaragua, but it hardly matters, it’s a stellar smoke! Holy crap did I enjoy this cigar! It hit all the points I like, great burn and draw, perfect ash, and flavor like crazy. Dark cocoa and espresso all day long, with some nice spice. I loved it, and I probably put down a half-inch nub. Just what I needed, another $10+ cigar that I fall in love with.

 

BnBFriday evening I took a ride into the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia to visit BnB Cigars where they were having an Epic Cigars event. I try not to miss Dean Parsons when he comes to town, he and Mick, his sales manager and right hand man, were on hand. For a small shop, BnB has a great selection of boutique cigars as well as your standard, bread and butter cigars, packed into display cases around the shop. There’s a cozy lounge in the back too.  Vince does a great job keeping the place stocked with interesting cigars that you don’t see many places around here. I’m a big fan of the Epic line of cigars, which are made in the Dominican Republic in the same factory that Kristoff cigars come from. I picked up some of the new Maduro Fuerte, I figured it would be a safe bet since I love the regular maduro EpicMaduroFuerteline. I also wanted to try the production version of the San Andres with the Epic “E” in light-colored tobacco leaf in place of the band, and pick up some more of the Connecticut Shade La Rubia.  I smoked an Epic Maduro while I was there hanging out, which comes in a 6½ x 54 size called the Compinche, which means “buddy”.  Like the regular Maduro line, this has a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper, Cameroon binder, and Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers, with more ligero than the standard Maduro line. I loved the cigar, but I didn’t find it to be too strong, at least for my tastes. It burned well, and had some very nice flavors consistent with what I love about the Epic Maduro, and that Cameroon binder ads an interesting flavor to the blend.

 

Epic_San Andres_Gran OlaYesterday afternoon I camped out on the back porch with the Flyers game on the tablet and smoked the Epic  limited edition Project E San Andrés Gran Ola, also in the 6½” x 54 size. It’s fortunate that I smoked the cigar through the first two periods of the game and I wasn’t smoking it in the last 6 seconds when the Flyers, once again, managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I might have done unspeakable things to the cigar in frustration, and that wouldn’t have been a fitting end to the cigar. This is also appropriate because Dean Parsons played professional hockey in his native epic_hockeyCanada, so he would understand.  The San Andrés wrapper is not a dark, maduro processed wrapper, it’s more of a milk chocolate-brown, with the E that must irritate the folks at the factory who are tasked with its application. I snipped off the fanned pigtail cap and lit it up, thoroughly enjoying the interesting flavors. I would put this at the upper end of medium with some light spice and creamy coffee notes. I found no flavor change whatsoever when I hit the band, in case anyone wondered. Yet another winner from Dean and Epic Cigars! Very nice smoke, but disappointing hockey game.

 

CI Ad in Newspaper CouponsMy wife was clipping coupons today from the Sunday paper and came across this one from Cigars International. I’m not promoting this deal at all (although it’s not a bad deal), just thought it was interesting that it appeared in the regular coupons part of a major news paper. I wonder how long this kind of thing will be allowed? We haven’t seen cigarette advertising in what, 30 years? More? Certainly the anti smoking folks must see this and wish they had gotten the item on the bottom part of the ad so they could call for help when they fell over in shock from seeing *gasp* tobacco…I’m sure this kind of ad is forbidden in Australia, where they have plain packaging and curtains covering the cigars in shops. It could happen here, my friends, stay vigilant and keep pressing your elected officials to try to prevent them from ruining a good thing!

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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Davidoff 702 Series Special R Cigar

Davidoff_702Series_Special RObviously Davidoff of Geneva has been synonymous with high-end, very mild cigars, but in recent years they have been blending more to the palate of those who prefer a little bolder cigar. Because I’ve fallen into the category of those who like stronger cigars, as well as being careful with the finances, I don’t have a great deal of experience with  the brand, but lately I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to try some of the recent blends. Following the Davidoff Nicaragua, and the Yamasa, they have released a new cigar recently with an Ecuador Habano wrapper, called the Davidoff 702 Series. They have stuck with classic Davidoff sizes on this line, the special T, the Double R, Anniversario No. 3, Special R and 2000 Corona. I managed to get my hands on a 2000 and a Special R robusto and chose the robusto for this evening’s cigar.  The 702 wrapper is a hybrid of three Cuban Habano varietals, and is grown exclusively for Davidoff in Ecuador in the Andean foothills.  As far as the appearance goes, it’s a beautiful cigar, milk chocolate-brown with a light oily sheen. Davidoff’s website suggests a smoking time of 45 minutes, and I think that if one were to suck one of these down in that amount of time one would be squandering an opportunity to enjoy a really great tasting cigar. I’m not one to pick up a lot of complexity in a cigar, but this one had a lot of great flavors, and there was an enjoyable (to me, at least) sweet flavor, like if you ate a handful of those little candy hearts a couple of hours before, it’s subtle, but popped up once in a while. Leave it to me to taste something so low-brow in a $20+ cigar! It had some coffee and earthy flavors too that were really quite nice, along with a little pepper bite here and there.

 

Davidoff_702_Special RI thoroughly enjoyed smoking this cigar down until my fingers were getting hot, I’m sure Zino would not have approved, having been a proponent of leaving the cigar at the band. Too much goodness to waste putting it down that soon, in my humble opinion. On a cigar of this size, the band is the halfway point, perhaps that’s where the 45 minute figure comes from. I bet I enjoyed this cigar for nearly twice that amount of time. It goes without saying that the burn and draw were perfect, they better be at this level.  The Davidoff 702 Series Special R is a great special occasion smoke, even if the special occasion is a Wednesday evening! The only downside to this is the price, but the upside is definitely there. I have the 2000 in the humidor waiting for the next special occasion.

 

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

 

CigarCraig (feeling fancy)

 

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