Joya Black, an Island Lifesyle and Case Study by Ventura Cigars

I learned something last night…having a couple cafecitos with one’s cigar too late in the day will give me weird-ass dreams all night. I got the Moka pot out last night at my wife’s suggestion (odd since she’s mostly off caffeine) and whipped up some Cuban Coffee (Bustello). I didn’t get the sugar quite right, too much espresso, but it wasn’t bad, but boy was my sleep interrupted with disturbing dreams. I drink black coffee all day long through the week with no ill effects. I’ll have to save my Cuban coffee experiments for earlier in the day. I haven’t smoked too many cigars since Thursday, when I last posted, but I did smoke some interesting ones. I decided a revisit with the Joya JoyadeNicaragua_Joya Black_NocturnoBlack was in order. The first few I smoked had construction issues and did perform well enough for me to form an opinion. I selected an interesting size, the Nocturno, a 6¼” x 46 Lonsdale kinda size. I seem to gravitate towards toros, but I like the 46-48 ring cigars as long as they aren’t too short (unless I only have a short time for a cigar), so this seemed like a good size.  Finally I lit a smokable Joya Black. Since I’m not a huge fan of the Joya Red, I was expecting more from the Black. I guess my preference lies with the Antaño side of the Joya de Nicaragua portfolio, but I do enjoy the Cabinetta line a lot, and never really smoked something from Joya  I didn’t like. It was an “OK” maduro cigar, my excitement over this was fairly in line with my excitement over the Red. Of course, I’ll keep trying as I want to like this cigar, it’s the first time Joya has used a San Andrés wrapper on a cigar, so I really should like it.

 

IslandLifestyleMaduroSaturday afternoon I lit up another maduro, this one from Island Lifestyle Cigars, the folks who make all the Tommy Bahama cigar accessories. I spent some time with the guys at the IPCPR show, they are super cool guys and are making great cigars along with the excellent Tommy Bahama gear. I’ll say right now that it’s impossible to pry the factory where the cigars are made out of Rick or Ryan, I tried. They have their reasons, either it’s factory that makes cigars for everyone, or one that’s not known for anything of note, but it doesn’t matter because the quality of tobacco and construction is there. I was asked if this was a gimmick cigar, and it is not. I’ve smoked all three and they are all very, very good cigars. The maduro robusto burned forever, had a nice, sweet rich flavor that I liked. You can see what I thought about these last year here. Since it’s not officially Autumn, I didn’t want to let summer go, so the Island Lifestyle cigar made sense to me yesterday! Of course I cut and lit it with Tommy Bahama tools!

 

Last night I went for a toro sized cigar with a maduro wrapper, surprise, surprise, right? In 1995 when I started smoking cigars seriously, my go-to, believe it or not, was the Te-Amo Maduro Toro. I smoked a bunch of them, you could even get seconds that had Te-Amo Segundo bands on them. They were marketed as seconds, and were very inexpensive. Anyway, that might explain my affinity for the San Andrés wrapper. At the IPCPR show, the folks at Ventura Cigar Co. provided some samples of their Case Study line.  Here’s the blurb from their website:

From 1945 to 1966, Arts & Architecture magazine commissioned the rising stars of mid-century architecture to design and build a series of inexpensive, efficient model homes for the post-World War II generation. In total, 26 homes were built, mostly in the Greater Los Angeles area, by renowned architects including Richard Neutra, Charles and Ray Eames, Pierre Koenig and Eero Saarinen. These now iconic homes were designed with a minimalist, modern aesthetic and have been prominently featured over the years in Hollywood films, advertising campaigns and photo essays. The Case Study cigar project from Ventura Cigar Co. pays homage to this triumph of modernist design. Numbered from 1 through 26, each exclusive Case Study blend features a range of vitolas that have been hand-blended by the best Master Blenders in the business. We can’t tell you their names, but we trust you’ll recognize their signatures written all over their craft.

Ventura_CaseStudyCS03_ToroMy take on this line is that it’s along the lines of Caldwell’s Lost and Found series, where they bought up cigars from factory’s aging rooms that didn’t have a brand, were short runs, or something along those lines. Of course, I was attracted first to the dark toro, the CS/03, which turns out had a San Andrés wrapper and was 6″ x 50, a rather thin toro by today’s standard, but what toros were several years ago. This cigar could have produces a little more smoke, but it was tasty, with the sweet, savory, spice I look for in a cigar that looks like this. Expectations were met, it burned well and had the feel and taste of a well aged cigar. I can’t venture a (Ventura…I made a funny) guess as to where this was made, but smoking the other samples will be fun. I only have a the 26 variations (in multiple vitolas, this is a bigger project than Foundry’s Compounds, Elements and Musings!).

 

That’s enough for today, I’m off to find something to do before nap time :-).  Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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Rolling Thunder, Veritas and Hoyo de Monterrey Cigars

RollingThunder_50CalMaduro_RobustoWhile I was at the IPCPR show I stopped by the Veritas booth and while I was waiting to meet and talk to Chris Weber, I spoke with Dave Cribbin about this Rolling Thunder cigars.  This week I smoked the Maduro .50 Caliber robusto, and I had every intention of smoking the Connecticut and Habano versions, but some other things came up. When Dave gave me the samples I had him mark the maduro since I couldn’t really distinguish between it and the Rolling Thunder IPCPRHabano (the Connecticut is on the darker side too, but it’s a bit lighter). I believe these are in the “Pre-War Vintage” line, there’s also a “Boot Camp Blend”, which the website indicates is on the milder side. The Maduro has a Nicaraguan wrapper and binder, and fillers from Honduras (Habano) and Nicaragua (Jalapa and Esteli). This 5″ x 52 robusto, as I alluded to before, has a lighter shade maduro wrapper (or the Habano is dark), and was a very meaty, savory cigar, no real sweetness, but savory. I really liked the cigar, it was different than a typical maduro, and was well made. I am looking forward to smoking the other two samples I have.These are sold on the website, and there’s also a place to make an additional donation to Cigars for Warriors, which is nice.

 

Veritas_ToroI finally did get to talk to Chris Weber of Veritas Cigars at the show, he’s from Delaware, which is down the road from me, and I’d seen him checking in to local shops on social media. I smoked the Veritas toro this week and was really impressed. The 6″ x 52 toro, my preferred size, has a Brazilian Arapiraca Maduro wrapper,  Dominican Olor binder and fillers from Peru, Colombia, Nicaragua & Dominican Republic. This one had the sweetness I like and was quite and exceptional cigar. The band is plain, black with white borders, and from the back it could be mistaken for another popular brand, but it’s not. The similarity is that it’s a terrific cigar, but it stands on its own in flavor and quality. This is a cigar I’ll be smoking more of, for sure.

 

Hoyo_LaAmistad_RobustoI usually write a post on Wednesday evenings, but I blew that off to head back down to the Wooden Indian and have a smoke with Jack Toraño of General Cigar Co. I always seem to miss hanging with cigar makers, reps and brand owners/managers/evangelists, whatever, when I either find out they were in the area too late, or am at work while they are visiting stores during the day. When I saw Jack was in the vicinity, I reached out to him and he let me know he was stopping by the JackTWooden Indian. I picked up a few cigars while there (weekday special: buy 5, the 6th is $1!), and lit up a Hoyo La Amistad by AJ Fernandez. This isn’t a new cigar to me, and is one I really enjoy, which is why I bought more considering I still had some at home in the humidor. It was great catching up with Jack, a true gentleman and good dude. Always nice to see Rami, our local General rep, too. Thanks to Dan and Todd for hanging out a bit past closing time!

 

Hoyo_LaAmistadSilver_ChurchillI picked up a couple of the new Hoyo La Amistad Silver while I was at the Wooden Indian, they only had the Churchill size, which is OK because I like Churchills and don’t smoke enough of them. A 6 7/8″ x 48 just doesn’t seem that big these days! This is another cigar from Tabacalera Fernandez which consists of an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan Habano binder and Nicaraguan fillers (Estelí, Condega). When I was talking with Jack about his fondness for the original Hoyo La Amistad, he said that the new-this-year Silver was even better. This surprised me because the original is really good, the Silver is better?  I have to say that I really did enjoy the Silver, until it got to the last two inches when it got a little funky, but it’s pretty new and should definitely be stellar with some age. For me it’s on a par, and I can’t really say how it was different, it just was, and quite enjoyable. More to come on that one.

 

That’s all for tonight, I had thought of a clever contest concept, but then I forgot what it was! So when I remember it, I’ll put something together, although I did meet m contest quota for a bit, didn’t I?  I’m sure you’ll disagree!   Anyway, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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Drew Estate Charity Pig Roast at The Wooden Indian Cigar Shop

PigRoast1For about the 7th year I stopped by the Wooden Indian in Havertown, PA for their annual pig roast and fundraising event for Drew Estate Charities. This year the weather was spectacular, they had tents on the front lawn and along side of the building. Dave and his staff at the Wooden Indian, in addition to running the best cigar store and lounge in the area, put on a fantastic event. The cigar specials featuring Drew Estate products this year was ridiculous. They were offering a box of Dirty Rats with a two box purchase (plus 14 cigars, and all kinds of other goodies). I PigRoast2suppose if I had the room (in humidors and on credit cards) I would have jumped at that. They had the new Undercrown Sungrown and Florida Sun Grown on hand for sale as well as just about anything you might want from Drew Estate. Representing Drew Estate was Pedro PigRoast3Gomez, Chris Stone and Alex Mayer, and Broc Jackson of Kensington Jewelers (the guy who makes all the cool Drew Estate jewelry) was on hand as well. There were also other store owners and reps from other cigar companies there supporting the cause. The BOTL PA Chapter and Cigar Cartel Facebook Groups were represented as well as other local cigar groups. This event is a big deal.

 

PigRoast4The whole point of this event is to raise money for the Drew Estate Charities. There was a whole bunch of very special Drew Estate goodies the centerpiece being an original canvas by Jessi Flores of Subculture Studios. While I didn’t stay for the raffle drawing/auction, I do know that they raised $9000 for Drew Estate Charities! This PigRoast5amount of money can actually build 5 houses for families in Nicaragua! A job well done by everyone at the Wooden Indian and the generosity of the attendees. While I can rarely stay for the whole event, it’s always a great time when I’m there. I smoked one of the new Undercrown Sungrown in the belicoso size while I was there and it was spectacular. When I got home I took a walk with a KFC Swamp Thang robusto, which was also tasty.

 

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

 

Cigar Craig

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AJ-Booth-Caldwell, Hamlet and Todos Las Dias Cigars

AJF-Booth-Caldwell_ToroI smoked three cigars from the IPCPR show this week so far, and I’m not entirely sure any of them are on tobacconist’s shelves yet. I started with one of the cigars Matt Booth had at the show. Let me express my disappointment that the video I did with Matt had no audio, and what fun is that?  Not that Matt might or might not have visual aids, but his booth was a collection of arcade games and nothing else, and interviews with Mr. Booth are always informative and hilarious. Sad that the audio wasn’t there, I wish I had known.  Anyway, one of the cigars he had at the show was a collaborative effort with AJ Fernandez, Matt and Robert Caldwell, which was supposed to be called “Truth”, but a late trademark issue got in the way, and the samples he was handing out had the simple band pictured. I’m just going to call it ABC in the interest of brevity. So this is a nice box pressed 6″ x 52 toro and is a Nicaraguan puro, with a dark maduro wrapper. Upon lighting the cigar I quickly realized that if I Booth Swagwere to blend a cigar, it  would taste very much like this one. Regular readers will know that I love a cigar with loads of rich cocoa and coffee with a bit of spice. This one had some strength also, which was a perfect complement to the flavors. I loved it, I can’t wait to see what this evolves into. It’s a shame they had to abandon the name and packaging, but Matt is a creative guy, he’ll come up with something fantastic, like this cigar was.

 

Hamlet_25thYearLast night I tried the Hamlet 25th Year robusto from Rocky Patel. I liked the 5½” x 50 robusto, the slightly longer length appeals to me. This is totally different from the Tabaqueros that Hamlet produced a year or so ago for Rocky Patel, that cigar was Hamlet’s first foray into blending a cigar that wasn’t all Cuban tobacco, for those who don’t know, Hamlet Paredes was an ambassador for Habanos S.A. and traveled the world ding rolling events. I guess it’s accurate to say he defected from Cuba and found a home working with Rocky Patel. I loved the Tabaquero, and this new offering is very different, but very tasty. It has an Ecuador Habano wrapper, Pennsylvania Broadleaf binder and fillers from Honduras and Nicaragua. I thought it was, dare I say, Cubanesque in that it was on the milder side, but had a lot of good flavors, some vanilla creaminess, light fruit and chocolate. This is yet another cigar I look forward to trying again.

 

TodosLasDias_RobustoTonight I got an unexpected phone call from (I’m going to name drop here), Jose Blanco, who was in the  general area, but I wasn’t able to met up with him. In our conversation about cigars from the IPCPR show he mentioned Todos las Dias from Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust and how he thought it was the best cigar Steve Saka had made so far. I’ve had a single robusto from the show that Steve gave me as he was testing the internal humidity (see the video here), and I assumed it was from the “passed” pile. I figured tonight was the night to smoke it, it had been in my humidor since the show in July, the same humidor all the IPCPR samples were in and have been smoking well. The Todos las Dias is Saka’s first Nicaraguan Puro, with a Sun Grown wrapper and fillers from Jalapa and Esteli, rolled at the Joya de Nicaragua factory. I noted a couple ironies. First, the Dunbarton website lacks detailed information on this cigar, the Sobremesa and Mi Querida are detailed quite nicely, with only a passing mention of this and his other lines. This is very un-Saka. The second and more important irony was that this cigar smoked like it was over-moist. The humidor this has been in is at 68%, and I saw first had that the internal humidity of the cigar when it came into my possession was under 12%. Steve wasn’t handing out cigars that weren’t going to smoke perfectly. My only thought is that the heavy tobaccos in this cigar sucked up the ambient humidity when I took it out. It had rained here and was very humid outside. Flavor-wise, I see where this is a great cigar when it burns like it should, and as son as I see some in the wild I’ll grab some and try them under the right conditions. I’m particularly interested in trying the Double Wide Belicoso, which appears to use the same molds as Joya de Nicaraguas Gran Consul (I have some Rosalones in the same size too). Flavor was full, lush and yummy. I have to defer to Jose on this one for now, a Sobremesa El Americano I smoked Sunday was perfect.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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Gurkha, La Palina, Avo and a Quick Draw Cigar

 

I took the easy way out on Wednesday with the La Sirena video, so I have a bunch of cigars to talk about this week. Not unexpectedly, the video is now in the number three spot in views on my YouTube channel, behind a La Sirena interview from the 2012 IPCPR. That shows something, I have to figure out what that is…Anyway, I started the week with a teeth cleaning followed by a Gurkha Founders Reserve in the Rothschild 6×58 size.  That’s what the box (of 10) that they gave me at the IPCPR show says, Gurkha_FoundersReserve_RothschildI initially thought it was the XO size, 6″ x 60, like there’s a huge difference between 58 and 60…and usually reliable sources list the sizes as   Robusto (5 x 50), Rothschild (6 x 55) and XO (6 x 60), yet it says 6 x 58 right there on the box, and I measured one and it was close enough to the 60 hole to make me think it was a 60 (my ring gauge checker is old, it jumps from 56 to 60 and doesn’t go any larger). Gurkha fails to list the sizes on the website too, which is frustrating. I’ve bitched about it before, but the manufacturer’s website should be the last word in specifics on a cigar, not blogs of retailers. I’m worked up now, maybe I need to smoke another of the Gurkha Founders Reserve  whatever size it is, because it was a really tasty Connecticut shade wrapped cigar. I really enjoyed the crap pout of the cigar, it was a really tasty medium bodied cigar with a great burn and draw. I suspect this is a brick and mortar exclusive, like the cellar reserve line, and is in the $10 price range, but it very enjoyable. Here’s a few pictures I took a the Gurkha booth at the show.

 

 

LaPalina_Nicaragua_OscuroMy eye was drawn to the La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro robusto next. La Palina’s website gives the sizes and nothing else. This is a 5″ x 52 Robusto, made at the AJ Fernandez factory in Nicaragua, and wrapped with a Ecuador Oscuro wrapper with Nicaraguan fillers. I’m not sure what “Ecuador Oscuro” exactly means, and the rest of the make-up is vague. Again, it hardly matters as it’s a tasty smoke. It’s up my alley with the rich, coffee/cocoa flavors I like, with a hint of spice. It burned well, had a good draw and was a very nice experience. I smoked a prototype of this a few years ago I think. On a side note, I’ve been obsessed with the Adorini Double Punch cutter, and have been using it all the time. It features two punches, 9mm and a huge 13mm. I find myself using the 13mm (which is about a half an inch, or 32 ring gauge) almost all the time, it opens up the cigar almost as much as when I use a guillotine cutter. It’s sharp and has a strong magnet that keeps the three pieces together. It’s a quality piece and I’m using it a lot. The La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro is a good smoke, I look forward to smoking the Nicaragua Connecticut.

 

Avo_SouthAmericaRitmo_SpecialToroNext up was a new offering from Davidoff’s Avo line, the Ritmo in the Syncro line. I’ve smoked a few Avo cigars, most aren’t in my wheelhouse, frankly, I don’t “get” a lot of them. Some people love them, everyone has different tastes, most of the Avos don’t do it for me. This one, on the other hand, was delicious. This cigar boasts a seven country blend, Ecuador wrapper, Mexican binder and fillers from Peru, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Brazil and Honduras. Yep, that’s seven, I counted. I really enjoyed this cigar, it was very good. Did I mention the size? It was the 6″ x 60 Special Toro, and the box press was very comfortable. It was creamy, with some wood and citrus notes, as well as some spice and bitter chocolate. This was definitely my favorite Avo ever. It’s sad that Avo isn’t with us any longer, and I hope Davidoff continues to pay homage to him by creating great cigars in his name.

 

SouthernDraw_QuckDrawPennsylvaniaFinally, I got home late last night and took a quick dog-walk with a Quick Draw Pennsylvania Petite Corona from Southern Draw. This is a 4½” x 44 cigar with a pigtail cap and a covered foot. This was perfect for my late walk. The Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper really has some oomph! It’s grown about 20 miles from where I live, so I’m drawn to cigars with Pennsylvania tobacco in the blend. Since this one had the pigtail cap, I skipped the punch and lopped off the cap with a Palio, and took torch to foot without toasting to get that blast of the PA Broadleaf that the covered foot offers. This was an hour of bliss, it had a nice kick, certainly satisfying and really quite a cigar. This is another cigar from Tabacalera AJ Fernandez. I don’t think I’ve had a Southern Draw Cigar that I didn’t like a lot. I’m sad that I missed Robert Holt on his recent swing through PA, I need to hurry up and become independently wealthy so I’m not stuck at work when all the fun stuff is happening!  This little cigar has a big flavor and had an impressive burn time, I think I spent about an hour with it!

 

That’s all for now. Thoughts continue to be with our friends in the Houston area, as well as the many friends we have in Florida,  which is being pummeled by mother nature as I write this. I hope everyone get through safely and with minimal destruction. Give what you can for the relief efforts, people need help.

 

Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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