Lamborghini and Horacio Cigars

I’ve smoked Bugatti cigars in the past, and I’ve been using the great Xikar Xidris lighter, which has super car inspired styling, so I figured I’d have to try the Lamborghini cigar line, which has recently been introduced in the US. I got a couple from www.cigarluxury.com   and they come cellophane wrapped in nice looking cardboard tubes. Circling back to the Xikar Xidris lighter, I’ve been using it exclusively for the past couple months and it works great. It has a large tank, lights every time, and while it’s pretty heavy, is comfortable in the pocket. I’ve discovered that while it’s symmetry leads me to often pick it up with the business end pointing down, it’s impossible to light the lighter if it’s tilted past 90 degrees. A wondrous design, it’s my favorite lighter now, and I have a drawer full of great lighters. Back to the cigars at hand. There are two varieties of Lamborghini cigars, both in a substantial 7″x 54 torpedo format. The black tube has the Lamborghini MCMXVIV Habano and the white tube contains the 1963 Lamborghini 350 GTV Maduro.

 

Lamborghini MCMXVIV HabanoI started with the Lamborghini MCMXVIV Habano, I suppose the black tube reminded me of maduros and I grabbed that one first. MCMXVIV is 1994 in Roman numerals, and is significant because it’s the year that Lamborghini LatinoAmerica was formed. It has a dark Ecuador Habano wrapper that is beautiful and delicious. The fillers are from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. These are made at a factory in Esteli, which remains a mystery. I was quite impressed with this cigar, it burned perfectly, had great, rich flavors. It was medium bodied, had a nice spice and a savory flavor.  I was quite enamored with this large cigar and enjoyed it town to a finger-burning nub.

 

1963 Lamborghini 350 GTV MaduroI moved on to the 1963 Lamborghini 350 GTV Maduro in the white tube. While the 1963 part appeals to me because it’s the year I was born, but it relates to the Lamborghini 350 GTV, which debuted at the 1963 Turin Auto Show. I missed the show that year, as I was only two months old.  Anyway, this maduro has a San Andrés wrapper from Mexico with over five years of age, and filers from the DR and Nicaragua. This cigar started out with a big spice and strength, which I love. It mellowed out a little after a while, but continued to be right up my alley. I’m not sure I could chose a favorite between the two varieties, the Habano was rich and sophisticated, and the maduro was bold and exciting.  Both are excellent cigars, and while they carry a reasonably hefty price tag ($15), given the generous size and excellent performance and flavor, these are winners.

 

Horacio Colossos Reserva EspecialAlong with the two Lamorghini cigars, I also got a Horacio Colossos Reserva Especial, a 5½” x 60 cigar with a closed foot.  This brand is apparently available in Europe and does very well there, but it’s relatively new to the US market.  The only information I could find was that it was made in Nicaragua, and was formerly made in Costa Rica. According to Yunior Lopez, the CEO of Lord of the Cigars Corporation, who has the distribution for the Horacio line in the US, this is a very rare cigar to find in the US. This cigar started out with the blast of flavor from the closed foot. I never toast cigars with a closed foot because it would be a waste of the blast of flavor, just torch these badboys up. The cigar was on the mild side, with a decent flavor, and a great burn. While I wasn’t as blown away with this cigar as I was with the Lambos, it was a good smoke with a lot going for it. It was smooth until the end, when I put it down with about ¾” left.  I can see haw this would appeal to the European palate, and that’s not a dig at all.

 

I have a list of Secret Santa participants, I’ll match them up and e-mail people their recipient this week. I’m trying to think up an assumed name so I can join in too. That’s all for now, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

 

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Nat Sherman Timeless and Metropolitan Cigars and Secret Santa

The Nat Sherman company started out in 1930 with a tobacco store in the garment district of Manhattan, at the height of the Great Depression. Over time, the Nat Sherman store became a destination for tobacco lovers, hosting celebrity clientele such as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and John F. Kennedy Jr., as well as being considered “neutral ground” by members of organized crime families. The company remains family owned with the third generation of Shermans running the business, along with Michael Herklots,VP of retail and brand development.  Nat Sherman is an iconic brand, and their flagship store is a Townhouse on 42nd street which is a must visit if you find yourself in New York City. I remember getting the catalog from Nat Sherman in the early 80s, not sure how I got on the mailing list, but I was a fan of their MCD cigarettes. Of course, at the time the cigars were quite the luxury item, not that the cigarettes weren’t, they were probably a very exorbitant $2.50 a pack. I was in a “smoke less, but smoke better” place, I guess, plus I had very few expenses while living with my parents and working three jobs.

 

Michael Herklots of @natshermanThursday evening I had the pleasure of attending an event at my local CigarCigars store with Michael Herklots where he led a tasting of the Nat Sherman Timeless Dominican by having everyone smoke puros of the four filler components.  I arrived late, but was on hand to see the participants trying various combinations together, with two or three little cigars in their mouths at once. It was interesting to see some components smoked together appeared to taste really bad, but the combination of all four tasted really good. The Timeless Dominican, the first cigar that Michael blended when he joined the company, is made at the Quesada factory and comes in about nine sizes, and has Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers and a Nat Sherman Timeless Dominican RobustoHonduran binder. I smoked the robusto size and was very happy with it. Aesthetically, it had a great burn and ash, there was a very thin black line at the perfectly straight boundary between ash and wrapper. The ash had to be almost forcibly removed. It had a load of great flavors, and was a medium to full-bodied cigar. I left satisfied, although I wished the cigar were larger! I solved that by purchasing a couple in the Churchill size, which I look forward to sampling.

 

NatSherman_TimelessNicaragua_660Logically, I followed up the Timeless Dominican with a Timeless Nicaragua. I bought a few of these in the 660 size, with the box press that they use on the Nicaraguan line (as opposed to the round Dominican), it seemed less girthy. Obviously, this is a 6″ x 60 cigar, and its a Nicaraguan puro, with a dark Nicaraguan Habano wrapper that was very appealing to me. This cigar didn’t have the razor-sharp burn that its Dominican counterpart did, but it evened itself out after a while. The cigar had some of my favorite cocoa/coffee flavors along with a woody/meaty component. I liked it. Fortunately, when I go to an event I generally buy more than one of each cigar for a variety of reasons. Mostly so I have at least one to take home if I decide to smoke one at the event, where it’s hard to fairly judge a cigar, and because ya can’t buy just one, am I right? Anyway, another winner from the Iconic Nat Sherman.

 

NatSherman_MetropolitanHabano_ToroI love watching hockey, but I hate  Saturday and Sunday afternoon games as they seem to get in the way of getting things done. I suppose I should embrace them as an excuse to relax on the weekend afternoons, which is why I grabbed a cigar and the tablet and watched the game on the back porch (which has been enclosed for the winter). Continuing the theme, I selected a Nat Sherman Metropolitan Habano toro. The Metropolitan series comes in Habano, Maduro and Connecticut, with the later two being made in the Dominican Republic, and this Habano from Nicaragua. I broke tradition and chose this over the Maduro, as it just looked so good and I really wanted to smoke it.  I’d save the Maduro for later. The Metropolitan Habano was my favorite so far. It had a great sweet, medium bodied flavor and hit me just right. I think these are priced in the $6 range too and worth every penny. This is one of those cigars that I would buy two of for every one $12 cigar all day long. It burned perfectly and lasted through the second period and half way through the third. Good game, great cigar.

 

NatSherman_MetropolitanMaduro_UniversityFinally I got around to that Metropolitan Maduro for my evening walk. This one has a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, comes in about eight sizes consistent in shapes and names with the Connecticut shade counterpart. I selected the 6″ x 50 University. This cigar was on the milder side of medium, and it had more of a savory maduro flavor than the sweet. It was different enough to be interesting and pleasurable, but perhaps would be better suited to warmer weather. Again the construction was great and it burned with the nice flat burn that I appreciate as all the components are burning at the same rate. Perhaps I should have stuck to my maduro first tradition as this cigar might have been better earlier in the day, but that Habano was so good…

 

So it’s been brought to my attention that I am a little late to be trying to organize a Secret Santa, but, I’m an optimist, and if anyone is interested in participating, e-mail me (craig@cigarcraig.com) your mailing address before Sunday, December 11, 2016 and I’ll match people up and send out assignments ASAP. We’ll keep it simple, four cigars, with no expectation of having it delivered by Dec. 25, we’ll shoot for New Years. We can still have some fun with this, how’s that sound? I do have a couple of tricks up my sleeve for some giveaways, so don’t despair! 

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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Cigars From El Artista: Exactus, Big Papi, Pro Ambar and Pulita

This just happened to work out great, because as I was smoking some cigars from El Artista this week, I got a new ad from them (top right on the side) with a Cigarmas contest for you all to enter. Since I’ll be taking a break from CigarCraig’s 12 Spectacular Days of Cigar Giveaways this year, here’s a chance to win some great stuff anyway.  The contest will run from tomorrow, 12/1/2016 to 12/12/16. Click the graphic and upload a picture of yourself in your holiday finery!

 

Tabacalera El Artista has been around since 1956 in the Dominican Republic, and has been flying under my radar until recently. When they approached me about advertising on my site I was intrigued, and I picked up a handful of their cigars from Best Cigar Prices (yeah, another advertiser) on my own dime. Among them was the Puro Ambar and the Exactus, and I also managed to acquire a couple of their Pulita and Big Papi, newly released  by Boston Red Sox baseball player David Ortiz. The release of the Big Papi was delayed by Exactus Classic Robusto - @elartistacigara brief play-off run, as they weren’t going to release it until Mr. Ortiz officially retired from the sport. I started off with the Exactus Clasico in the 5″ x 54 Robusto size. This cigar has an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper leaf over Dominican Criollo 98 fillers and a special wine-fermented binder leaf. Look for a better take on this cigar in the future as the conditions I smoked it in were not conducive to getting the best experience. It was windy and cold the day I took this cigar with me for my walk home from the store, and while it was a nice enough cigar, it was on the mild side and lost given the weather, which was better suited for a strong, broadleaf cigar. These are also available in a “Super Coloso” size in the Connecticut and Maduro, running around $45 each for an 11″ x 90 cigar. I seriously doubt you will see a review of that size here.

 

Big Papi by David Ortiz_ToroThe Pig Papi by David Ortiz is a 6″ x 54 toro with a Ecuador Habano wrapper, Criollo 98 binder and fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. I grew up watching National League baseball, so the whole designated hitter thing was always a little foreign to me, and I understand that Big Papi was a DH (designated hitter, I’m sure he’s a really nice guy, he smokes cigars!). Pitchers were never really great hitters anyway, so not having them bat seems like a good enough idea. This cigar was really quite good, creamy with some spice and nuts, with a good burn. While I was impressed, I can see where this will benefit from some humidor time and can’t wait for baseball season to try another one (not a big fan, but baseball=warmer months, which I am a fan of).

 

Puro Ambar_GranRobustoThe Puro Ambar Gran Robusto was next up. This cigar was a 5¼” x 54 size, and has all kinds of hybrid tobaccos from El Artista’s farms in the Dominican Republic. The Wrapper is “T13”, a three tobacco hybrid, the fillers are Dominican Criollo 98 and another exclusive hybrid, and the wine fermented Criollo 98 like the Exactus. As a non-drinker, and never a wine fan when I was, this is lost on me, although that may have been the unique and interesting flavor I found in the cigar. Like the other cigars from this manufacturer, the construction was top-notch. This is an earthy cigar, pleasant, but lacking the sweetness I like in a cigar. This might be my least favorite of the three, but certainly not without merit.

 

Pulita_60Aniversario_RobustoTonight I went with the Pulita 60 Anversario robusto, a classic 5″ x 50. This cigar honors the founder of El Artista, Ramón “Pulita” Rodriguez, with his original six tobacco blend. The wrapper is a Negrito from the DR, and the last time I heard of Negrito tobacco was from Robert Caldwell’s  The King is Dead.  It’s a chocolaty wrapper, very nice looking. The binder is the Criollo 98, and fillers are an interesting mix of Dominican, Nicaraguan, Colombian and Pennsylvanian tobaccos. This was easily my favorite of the bunch, even though it was raining like crazy, thankfully my enclosed back porch was nice and dry. This was a slow burning cigar, with a lot going on in the flavor department. It tasted of well-aged tobaccos, with some coffee and cocoa, some damp earth and sweetness. It was interesting and held my attention. It’s funny, I hadn’t heard of this cigar until my amigo Mike mentioned it to me a couple of weeks ago, apparently it was featured on The Cigar Authority and included in their care package (a cigar of the month club of sorts which supplies cigars to smoke along with the show). I guess I zoned out during that part of the show that week, I usually pay attention better. Tasty cigar.

 

OK, so we know that I’m not going to spend 14 days having rapid fire contests this year, which isn’t any fun for anyone, and I’m sorry about that. Don’t be surprised if there aren’t some contests popping up here and there though. I had mentioned doing a secret Santa kind of thing, and if there’s still interest among the readership, I’ll put it together. It’s a little tricky, I have to trust everyone to behave themselves appropriately, and I haven’t really ever administered such a thing, but I have some idea how to do it. Let me know in the comments.  That’s all I got for now, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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Smoking Cigars from Tabacalara Incorporada in the Philippines

Many years ago I wrote off cigars from the Philippines, as well as cigars with Indonesian wrappers. When I heard that the folks at Daughters & Ryan, famed for distributing pipe tobacco, RYO, shisha and e-liquids, were the exclusive US distributor for Philippine company Tabacalera Incorporada, I was skeptical. I looked over the portfolio and saw mostly blends of Indonesian and Philippine tobaccos. Still, keeping an open mind, and trusting that things have changed since the ’90s when I decided I didn’t like these tobaccos, I figured I’d try some of the offerings of this 130+ year old company. I was quite curious about the 1881 Perique Maduro, the Tabacalera Gran Reserva and the Don Juan Urquijo, so I smoked a few of them over the last couple days.

 

1881PeriqueMaduro_ToroYou know well enough by now what I went for first, I strive to be consistent. The 1881 Perique Maduro in the toro size was the blend that piqued my interest in giving this companies cigars a try. The cigar has a Dominican maduro wrapper, binder form the Philippines (from a 1997 crop), and the filler is 18% Perique from a farm in Louisiana owned by Daughters & Ryan and Philippine leaf. Perique is typically a pipe tobacco, it’s usually blended because it’s very strong, and has a distinctive flavor. This type of tobacco was being cultivated in Louisiana by the local Native American tribes when Europeans wandered into the area in the 1700s. The cigar was outstanding, I really enjoyed the heck out of it. That interesting Perique spice was a welcomed difference and made for a very interesting hour and a half or so. I’m not sure  how to describe it except that there is a bit of a fruityness along with the rich sweetness of the maduro wrapper. Loved it in to toro, looking forward to trying it in other sizes ( it comes in the toro, torpedo and torpedito, robusto and short robusto).  After enjoying this so much, my skepticism is fading.

 

DonJuanUrquiro_PyramidLater in the evening I took a walk in the company of the dog and a Don Juan Urquijo Pyramid. Short tangent: I’m finding that my go-to sizes recently are the toro and torpedo or pyramid sizes, somewhere in the 6″-6½” x 50-54  range. I don’t know if these sizes best fit my attention span, or if I like to have that amount of time to relax with a cigar or what. I’m sure it’s time related, sometimes a robusto (of which I have a great many), just isn’t long enough…anyway, back to the cigar. The Don Juan Urquijo is a four country blend, it has what I consider to be an ugly colored Java wrapper, the Isabela binder from the Philippines, and fillers from the Philippines, Dominican Republic and Brazil. Going back to the wrapper color. When I see this wrapper color it’s a turn-off, it’s a babycrap kind of olive/brown that just doesn’t appeal to me. A few years ago Villiger made their 125th Anniversary with a similar colored wrapper and had the good sense to put it in a tube. However, this was one tasty cigar. It’s on the mild side, but loaded with complex flavors that were both creamy and spicy with a nice sweetness. Never judge a book by its cover. It was perfectly balanced, well made, and a delight to smoke. This would be a great cigar to have with coffee in the morning, but it was perfect after a nice dinner of leftovers from the previous day’s feast. I kinda regret being so hard on the wrapper color, it was so good. It would have been a shame to have passed this by on a tobacconist’s shelf. My preconceived notions continue to be dashed.

 

Tabacalera_GranReserva_RobustoYesterday I selected the final cigar of the three I had. There are seven lines now from this factory, with eleven new lines expected soon. (that’s my understanding, maybe there are four new lines coming to expand the selection to eleven?). Anyway, the last one was a robusto in the Gran Reserve line. This is the only size in this line,  and it boasts a 16-year-old Brazilian wrapper, and twenty-two year old Isabela binder and filler from the Philippines. It’s amazing that they have tobacco this old, twenty years ago everyone was buying whatever tobacco they could and rolling cigars because there was a huge cigar boom. Tobacco was scarce, good cigars were scarce, it’s a wonder I stuck with the cigar hobby! Anyway, the Tabacalera Gran Reserva Robusto definitely tastes like well aged tobacco, with a core of sweet cedar flavors. It’s pretty obvious that a lot of care goes into the production of this cigar, as well as the others I smoked. There were occasions that I sat one down for ten minutes and it didn’t need a relight, and none of the three I smoked required any corrections. These are very nice cigars with a little something for everyone.  As far as where to get them goes, They do have some available for sale on their website, and I suspect they will be available in brick and mortar retailers. As I said in the intro, Daughters & Ryan based in North Carolina are the US distributors. The aren’t a cheap date, but well worth the price.

 

Thanks to Mike Rubish, the National Sales Director at Daughters & Ryan for facilitating the sampling of Tabacalera Cigars from the Philippines! On another note, after Thanksgiving dinner was cleaned up and all the guests were gone, I walked off dinner with a Drew Estate Liga Privada Serie Unico L40 that was five years old (original release). It was a fantastic smoke! With that I think I’ve smoked all of the regular production Unicos and this might have been my favorite right behind the Feral Flying Pig. That’s all I have for today, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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Cigar News featuring Diamond Crown, Big Papi, Psyko Seven and Montecristo

Happy Thanksgiving to all my U.S. readers! Today will be filled with food and family here in a few hours, so I’m going to be real lazy and put out a post with a bunch of news items that have recently come across my desk (and I slacked off last night and didn’t get a post out). I hope everyone has a great day!

 

Diamond Crown

Diamond Crown Black Diamond Box Open Emerald

First up is the long-awaited release from J.C. Newman, the Diamond Crown Black Diamond. This has been in the works for years, I’ve heard stories of how they settled on a blend, then tweaked it again, and finally have it ready for release tomorrow, Black Friday.  What a coincidence to be releasing the Black Diamond on Black Friday! Something tells me there was some thought put into that.  Anyway, I’m anxious to get my hands on this, I’ve got two Diamond Crown Lounges within about a ten-mile radius so I should be able to find one. I fondly remember smoking my first Diamond Crown in Las Vegas in 1998, good stuff, I can’t wait to try this one.

 

Big Papi

Next we have news from El Artista about the launch of the Big Papi, a cigar that I have on hand and will be smoking in the very near future, along with some other goodies from the company.

 

DAVID ORTIZ MAKES HIS FIRST “BIG PAPI” CIGAR EVENT APPEARANCE

(New York City) – El Artista Cigars hosted the first event featuring David “Big Papi” Ortiz at Central Bar & Lounge in New York City on November 3, 2016. Over 200 were in attendance including pitcher Cici Sabathia, premium cigar shop owners from all over the country, as well as fans, friends, and family of David Ortiz and El Artista. “This is a celebration to recognize the hard work everyone has put into the launch of this new line,” says Radhames Rodriguez, President of El Artista Cigars, “and we are very happy to see everyone enjoying the cigar.”

David OrtizDavid Ortiz was the star of the party. He signed cigar boxes and hats and took photos with partygoers. Jonas Santana, Marketing Manager for El Artista Cigars states, “David will be at several events in the US in 2017, this is just the first of many to come.” El Artista expects Mr. Ortiz will make appearances in California, New York, New Hampshire, Florida, Dominican Republic, and elsewhere before IPCPR 2017. According to El Artista management, “David is all in for Big Papi events and he is committed to the brand 100%; expect big things from Big Papi in 2017.”

El Artista will hold a series of in-store tastings as well as meet & greet events featuring David Ortiz in 2017. The schedule will be posted on the El Artista website: http://elartistacigars.com/

 

Psyko Seven

Psyko Seven is a cigar I really like, in both the original natural wrapper and the maduro, which, of course, I prefer. I look forward to trying this Connecticut as I do enjoy a good Connecticut from time to time.

 

VENTURA CIGAR COMPANY INTRODUCES CONNECTICUT TO THE PSYKO SEVEN COLLECTION
November 2016 – Inviting cigar aficionados to “Reach into the Dark to Find the Light,” Ventura Cigar is pleased to reveal PSyKo Seven Connecticut, the third blend in its much-admired PSyKo Seven Collection.

 

PSyKo Seven Connecticut is expertly crafted in the Dominican Republic with an exclusive blend of premium of seven tobaccos. It sits apart from others in the PSyKo Seven collection with its lighter wrapper, serving up a more mild-bodied experience. This smooth cigar invites enthusiasts to disconnect from chaos and commotion, to take a step back from the reality of the everyday, and enjoy a rich, flavorful experience.

 

Housed in a sleek, black box, and enveloped with a white prescription form that encourages people to “medicate their mind,” there are three vitolas available: Robusto 4.75 x 50, the Toro 6.25 x 48, and the Gordo 6.00 x 60.

 

“The PSyKo Seven Collection has enjoyed a lot of attention,” says Jason Carignan, Chief Marketing Officer at Ventura Cigar Company. “It’s known for offering up high quality sticks at a great price, earning 90+ ratings from top cigar publications. It’s a favorite of both the retailer and the consumer, so we added PSyKo Seven Connecticut to round out the line, and give our enthusiasts more to explore, and more to connect with.”

 

A solid choice to pair with friends and family, PSyKo Seven Connecticut will enrich and relax holiday festivities with a post-meal smoke and a dram of whiskey. All three vitolas will be shipping to retailers in late November. Please visit venturacigar.com for additional information.

 

Montecristo

Finally we have another in a long list of collaborations with A.J. Fernandez, this time Monticristo is introducing a JR Cigars exclusive.

 

Montecristo Crafted by A. J. Fernandez

 

Burlington, NC – Santa Clara, Inc. is beginning broader distribution of the newly introduced Montecristo Crafted by A. J. Fernandez line of cigars. Montecristo Crafted by A.J. Fernandez is collaboration between the Altadis U.S.A. Montecristo brand and Tabacalera Fernandez and is being crafted exclusively for Santa Clara, Inc.

 

Made in Nicaragua from the finest Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, San Andres binder, and Nicaraguan and Honduran filler, this box-pressed, oscuro-wrapped cigar is an eye-catching masterpiece.

 

An icon, Montecristo has been the benchmark for luxury and quality since 1935. With this long tradition of excellence, the Montecristo name can only be entrusted to craftsmen capable of building on this proud legacy. A. J. Fernandez has been chosen by Altadis U.S.A. to add his name to the history of the Montecristo brand for this new, exclusive cigar.

 

A. J. Fernandez began his career creating cigars for some of the biggest names in the industry before launching his own brands. His brands developed a cult following among cigar aficionados. And his factory, which began with just 6 rollers, now produces over 9 million sticks a year.

 

The Montecristo Crafted by A. J. Fernandez is available in five sizes – Churchill 7 x 50, Figurado 4 x 52, Gordo 6 x 58, Robusto 5 x 52 and Toro 6 x 50, with MSRPs ranging from $9.95 to $12.50 and in box counts of 10 cigars – and delivers a range of bold flavors from sweet to savory with notes and nuances of dark cocoa, espresso, leather and licorice.

 

“We are extremely proud to deliver to the market this collaborative project between two exciting entities. The blend they put together really makes a statement for both companies and I can’t wait to hear the customers reaction”, said Rob Norris, President of Santa Clara.

 

Montecristo Crafted by A.J. Fernandez will be available to the public on December 1, 2016 at www.jrcigars.com.

 

That’s all for today.  I hope to enjoy something special today after the dust (and dinner) settles. Not sure what that might be yet, but I’ve got all day to think about it and thankful to have plenty to choose from!

 

Until the next time,

CigarCraig

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