Cordoba & Morales Cigars at IPCPR 2016

I have heard about Z and Emille from Cordoba & Morales Cigars for a while, but never seemed to connect with them until a guy who started a blog back around the same time I did was doing their PR and asked if I wanted to schedule an appointment. I’ve kept in touch with Dave Payne over the years as he got away from writing, and it was a great pleasure to finally meet him face to face. But this isn’t about meeting someone I started corresponding with in 2009, it’s about a small cigar company and what I think is a powerful message. Here’s the video which originally aired live on Periscope yesterday (hint, follow me on Periscope, I’ll be doing some more today…)


Periscope saves the video in fairly low resolution, so if the quality isn’t up to standards, that’s why. I don’t recommend watching it on a 42″ TV (but how many of you are?).  Thanks to Z for talking with me, his lovely wife Emille, and Dave for setting this up. Best of luck to Cordoba & Morales cigars!

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




Filed under IPCPR, Video

Merlion, Undercrown, Rocky Patel, Viaje and RoMEo Cigars

Pre-IPCPR post, by the you are reading this I’ll be either on my way to Las Vegas, there already, or home, depending on when you happen to read. I’m anticipating a busy show, and have made some appointments, but there’s literally no way one can schedule meetings and get to visit everyone one wants to visit, there’s not enough hours in the day. I’ll do my best to bring you something different than my esteemed colleagues in the cigar blogosphere, whom I’m hoping to commune with as well. I’ve got packing to do, so I’ll try to keep this brief! Here are some interesting cigars I smoked this week:


Merlion_Sea Lion_maduroOne of the cigars I’m looking forward to at the IPCPR show this year is the release of the Merlion Maduro from La Sirena Cigars. A few years ago I got my hands on one of the limited edition boxes of the Merlion Se Lion, which came in a box with nine Sea Lions and one Maduro Sea Lion. The Sea Lion is a unique shape, it’s a 5½” x 47 perfecto with a shaggy foot and a very pointy head. It was all I could do not to smoke this when I go them, as you can well imagine.  It has not gotten tot he point where they are releasing a regular line of the maduros, so I figured it was time. These are made at La Aurora, and the cigar smoked beautifully. It was rich and full of all the great flavors I look for in a cigar. I can’t wait to smoke this is other sizes, but the Sea Lion size is unique and interesting to smoke. They only produced 500 boxes of these, so I imagine the chances of getting more are nil.


Undercrown_ExclisivamenteI have been playing around withe the Drew Diplomat app, and I just don’t get it. I can’t figure out how to really interact with people, find people, or anything. I think there are much better “community” apps out there, and I get that this is a marketing tool. So I’ve been choosing Drew Estate cigars to smoke and log on the app a little more lately, which I suppose is the point of the app anyway. I picked out the Undercrown Exclusivamente, which is a square pressed toro exclusive to Corona Cigar Co.’s Drew Estate Lounge in Orlando. There are several cigars presented in this form factor for the lounge, including a Liga 9, a couple of the Tabak Especiales, Natural and Herrera Esteli. In addition to being sharply pressed, they have a flat cap, which lends itself well to punching with a reasonably large-bore punch.  I’ve smoked a lot of Undercrowns, and I think this was my favorite size/shape of the bunch. Sure the Corona Viva is the stand out in the line to me (better yet, the larger Dogma, a Cigar Dojo release that’s long gone. I haven’t smoked a Manifesto yet), but I think this surpasses even those. It’s a terrific smoke, a fun shape, and quite worth picking up if you find yourself in the Orlando area (or on the Corona Cigars website).


RockyPatel_Edge_SumatraMonday evening I went with a cigar that was gifted to me last week by one of our friends who joined me for Desnudo Sunday. Nik is a noted local (Wilmington, DE) singer/songwriter/performer who is a cigar nut as well. It was a very generous and unnecessary thing for him to do, but I understand and appreciate his eagerness to share something that I hadn’t smoked yet. I can probably count the number of Rocky Patel Edge cigars I’ve smoked on one finger. Why this is, I have no idea. I’ve seen them on the retailers shelves for years, I just never picked any up. He gave me his favorite, with is the Sumatra 6″x 52 Toro, and it was very good with a savory, woody, leathery flavor with a little sweetness. It was well-behaved, and a very satisfying smoking experience. I’ll have to make an effort to further explore the Edge line. Thank you, Nik, for the great cigar!

Vieje_SummerfestI’m finding I have more to say than I thought, the downside of skipping my mid-week post.  I smoked a Viaje Summerfest 2015 that I bought last year at J. Shepherd Cigars in Louisville, KY. This cigar was interesting in that the first inch or so is without wrapper, so you smoke binder and filler only for the first 15 minutes, then there is a noticeable change. Viaje is another one of those brands I don’t follow closely, but I seem to recall the first release of theirs being the 50/50, which was designed with two distinct blends merged together in the middle. I never smoked one, but it sounded intriguing.  So this limited edition cigar was very nice, and it really did showcase the amount of flavor the wrapper gives a cigar. It smoothed out noticeably when the wrapper started burning. Fascinating. Of course, these are only released in the summer, and I don’t recall seeing anything about one coming out this year. I don’t think this was too awfully expensive either (or I probably wouldn’t have bought it!, and I bought two and smoked one there I think).


RoMEo AnejoFinally, last night I grabbed a cigar that I had been siting on for a year or more. When the RoMEo Añejo cigars came out I really wanted to like them. 2010 Connecticut Broadleaf for a wrapper, a 2008 Olor from the DR for a binder, and Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers from the 2009 crop.  The first few I smoked seemed over moist, they tasted great, but the steamy quality to the smoke and associated difficulty with draw was off-putting and frustrating. So, like a dummy, on the hottest, most humid day of the year, I forgot all that and decided to give this cigar another try. I was encouraged with the initial draw, but after a few minutes on the porch in the humidity, it started getting that steamy feel to it again. That thick broadleaf wrapper is like a sponge, I suggest putting these in your humidor if you have a humidity spike, as they will suck the moisture out in a short amount of time.  I still love the flavor, but one must be very careful about conditions in which these are smoked. I’ll keep trying as I’m a sucker for broadleaf.


That’s all for now, I’m off to Vegas, so watch for reports from the show here, and follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Periscope for up to the minute reports. Until the next time,









Filed under Review

Intemperance, La Aurora and a Laranga Cigars

I don’t have a lot of cigars to share with you this time.  I had a busy week with the video I posted and the various Leccia cigars I had to smoke for inspiration, yeah, that’s it…Bottom line is that the Desnudo cigars are really good, the Luchador line is also very good (the El Hombre is one of my favorites, the El Gringo line doesn’t excite me as much as the original line), whatever that Barber Pole cigar was was really good, and many of Sam’s other creations over the years have been to my liking. If we could just get him to dump the Penguins and become a Flyers fan…So I posted the video, and I posted Friday about the suit filed against the FDA.  I hope this is effective, I know a lot of thought and preparation went into it, and I can’t imagine taking legal action against the US Government is a comfortable thing to do. Someone has to understand that it just isn’t right for an un-elected, bureaucratic department to cost so many jobs in so many countries. It’s wrong, it’s completely a tobacco vendetta, and it needs to stop. Rant over.


Intemperance_RevengeFriday I decided I wanted to smoke something from Skip and Mike’s RoMaCraft line, and while rummaging through my meager selection, I came across a box pressed robusto bearing the Intemperance band. I recognized that this was the BA XXI iteration of the Intemperance line, but couldn’t place where I got it. Once I figured out that it was the Intemperance BA XXI Revenge, a store exclusive to Outland Cigars in Charlotte, NC, I realized that it must have come from Will Cooper. My memory is not what it used to be. This cigar is 5″ x 56, basically a box pressed version of The Breach of the Peace. The wrapper is a Brazilian Arapiraca, not so dark, kind of a medium brown. They use an Indonesian binder (I’m typically not a fan of Indonesian tobacco, never have been, but I think lately it’s a pretty neutral, flavorless leaf that only serves to hold the filers together), and fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. It was a very well balanced cigar, flavors of coffee with cream and a little sweetness, some pepper and a little cedar. I think I have a Breach of the Peace in the humidor, and definitely need to grab some more of this line the next time I see them.  Congrats to Skip Martin on the recent birth of his third daughter!


LaAurora_Corojo_RobustoSaturday I busted ass around the house in the morning, when out for a late lunch, then settled into the smoking porch for a cigar or two.  I started with a La Aurora 1962 Corojo Robusto. I received a couple of these, along with it’s Connecticut counterpart, a few weeks back from Miami Cigar and Co. Regular readers may recall that I am a long time fan of the La Aurora brand, even though a great many of their offerings are not suited to my tastes. The first box of cigars I ever bought was La Aurora Bristol Especiales, which was under $40 at the time, my daughter still may have the box. Those cigars ended up having an odd, vegetable flavor that didn’t really do anything for me and taught me an early lesson about buying without trying. I do have a tradition of smoking a Puro Vintage 2003 whenever a granddaughter is born, but I can only accommodate two more granddaughters, not that we are expecting any more anytime soon. Anyway, my recollection is that the Corojo line has been around for a while, it’s made with Ecuador Corojo wrapper, Ecuador Sumatra binder and Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers. This example smoked a little wetter than I prefer, it was a humid day, but I enjoyed the flavor and will dry down the others and smoke them again. I must remember to open the bags before putting them in the humidor. I look forward to smoking the Connecticut.


Laranga_CoronaGordaA couple weeks ago I visited a local shop and the Espinosa Cigars Laranga Reserva caught my eye, and I hesitated to buy one until the shop manager came in a recommended it without any prior knowledge that I had been thinking about it. I’ll admit, the price played into my hesitation to try this cigar that I’ve heard a lot about over the last year. All they had was the corona gorda, which is a great size, so I lucked out. Still, a just under $10 corona gorda doesn’t sit well with me, but I guess I better get used to it. Probably at $8 I would have tried it long ago, but I have trouble getting past $9…cheap bastard as I am. Anyway, this cigar had a wide open draw, so I knew I wasn’t going to struggle with it like I did with the Aurora. I don’t know if it’s the reference to Orange in the name (Laranga is Portuguese for Orange, btw, and so named because the wrapper leaf has an orange tinge), or some other outside influence, but I really did get a citrus note. As with most cigars I’ve smoked from La Zona, and the list of cigars they make seems to grow daily, this was a really good smoke. It was well balanced with a ton of flavor.


That’s it for now. A week from now I’ll be traveling to the IPCPR show in Las Vegas, and I’ll be trying to bring you news, although folks like Cigar-Coop, Halfwheel, Stogie Review and Cigar Federation will have more detailed information. I’ll try to put a different spin on things, and I anticipate it being a busy show with a ton of new releases trying to get on shelves before August 8. I usually do something fun and silly for the show, but this year doesn’t seem to be the year to do something like that. Anyway, that’s all for today, until the next time,









Filed under Review

IPCPR, CAA & CRA File Lawsuit Against FDA Today

I don’t usually post press releases, but I thought this one was important enough to pass along. Posted from my phone, so pardon the formatting.

Three major cigar and tobacco industry associations file suit against FDA’s deeming rule

CAA, IPCPR, & CRA ask District Court of Washington D.C. for declaratory injunction

For Immediate Release: July 15, 2016

WASHINGTON D.C. – The three major cigar and tobacco industry associations filed suit Thursday against the United States Food and Drug Administration’s “Deeming Rule.” The Cigar Association of America, International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association, and the Cigar Rights of America are asking the District Court for the District of Columbia for a declaratory injunction “vacate, set aside and enjoin the enforcement of the final rule” because it is violates numerous federal statutes as well as the federal rulemaking process. A full copy of the filing, which details nine counts against the FDA and the United States Department of Health and Human Services, can be found here (note: the link was not included in either press release I received).

“Just over one month ago, our three associations pledged to work together to develop the appropriate response to the FDA’s new deeming rule. After a thorough and detailed legal review, we are challenging this unlawful regulatory action in federal court to protect the statutory and constitutional rights of our industry and its members. The fact that all three of our organizations are acting in one voice speaks to the urgency and seriousness of this action,” said Mark Pursell, CEO of the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association.

The complaint challenges:

  • FDA’s improper application of the February 15, 2007 grandfather date to cigars and pipe tobacco, which subjects those products to more intrusive regulations than cigarettes and smokeless tobacco
  • FDA’s impermissible assessment of a tax in the form of user fees, and its allocation of these user fees only to cigars and pipe tobacco and not to other newly deemed products
  • FDA’s failure to perform an adequate cost-benefit analysis to take into account the effects of the Final Rule on small businesses as is required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act
  • FDA’s unjustified decision to require cigar health warning labels to be 30% of the two principal display panels of packages
  • FDA’s unlawful designation of tobacconists who blend finished pipe tobacco or create cigar samplers of finished cigars as “manufacturers,” which subjects those businesses to greater regulation than if they were “retailers”
  • FDA’s incorrect decision to regulate pipes as “components” or “parts” rather than as “accessories”

“The FDA ignored the law to craft these expansive and sweeping regulations and cannot justify many of the arbitrary and capricious regulations it purports to enact,” said Glynn Loope, Executive Director of Cigar Rights of America. “This lawsuit is a specific and detailed challenge to the FDA’s unprecedented assertion of rulemaking authority. “We are acting in one voice to protect the legal rights of our industry at all levels, from the manufacturer, the community retail tobacconist, to the adult patrons of cigars.”

Speaking about the lawsuit, Cigar Association of America President Craig Williamson said, “We all worked in good faith to inform and educate the FDA on the unique nature of our industry, its members and our consumers. We hoped the FDA would craft a flexible regulatory structure that accounted for the uniqueness of our industry. Instead, we got a broad, one-size-fits-all rule that fails to account for how cigars and premium cigars are manufactured, distributed, sold and consumed in the United States. The FDA exceeded its statutory authority and violated the federal rulemaking process when crafting this set of broad and sweeping regulations. This challenge asserts nine violations of federal law and rulemaking authority. We are asking the court to enjoin the enforcement of this unlawful regulatory scheme. We are confident that when the court reviews our case on its merits, we will prevail.”

Thanks to the CAA, IPCPR and CRA for their efforts to save the premium cigar industry.

Until the next time,




Filed under News

Leccia Tobacco Desnudo Sunday Video Cigar Review

Sunday afternoon I assembled a group of friends and we smoked the new Desnudo Robusto from Leccia Tobacco. My wife bought me a box of these in the 5″ x 54 size, the same size as my favorite Leccia Luchador El Hombre, and the presentation is spectacular. The box is woven from what I believe is Royal Palm bark, the same thing that is used to wrap bales of tobacco in some countries (called Tercios). The blend of the Desnudo is Brazilian Wrapper, Habano Binder, Filler: Brazilian, Nicaragua Ligero and Pennsylvania Ligero. I smoked another one tonight as I was putting the video here together, and really love the cigar. It’s exactly what I love in a cigar, watch the video to see what we thought (don’t worry, none of us were “desnudo” in the video).


Leccia_BarberPoleSam included a couple of bonus cigars with the box, one of which I smoked last night. This was a Churchill sized barber pole style cigar, wrapped in what appeared to me Ecuador Connecticut and Habano. The interesting feature of this cigar was that it came pre-punched, but instead of  a circular punch it had the Leccia Tobacco “L” logo punched in it. I chose to smoke it as is, I saw no reason to disturb this cool cut out, which obviously took a lot of time and energy to come up with Leccia_BarberPole_Capand manufacture. I’m sure Sam got some “you want me to do what?” looks on the rolling floor! Maybe Sam rolled these himself, I really don’t know (if he did, well done!). The cigar was sweet and creamy and was quite different from the Desnudo or the Luchador line. The burn meandered a bit, but I find that with many barber pole style cigars. Bottom line is, I enjoyed it a lot.  Sam is handing his own distribution now, and selling some of his lines, including the Desnudo, direct to the consumer. Sam is a great guy, despite being a Penguins fan, and he makes some really tasty cigars and does some incredible things on a rolling table.

**Edit: It’s been brought to my attention that the “L” punch is laser cut, which makes a lot more sense. **

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





Filed under Review, Video