New CAO, La Gloria Cubana and Partagas from General Cigar Co.

Every year at the IPCPR show I make sure to make an appointment to tour the General Cigar Co. booth. I have a lot of great friends there and am a fan of many of their cigars. They had a lot of new cigars, and I’ll talk about three of them today, the others will have to wait until I smoke some more samples or, in a couple cases, find the cigars in my local shops.  I’ve included some relevant photos below, I should have rolled video, but I was having audio issues and didn’t want to waste valuable time. The first cigar I was eager to try after I got home was the third cigar in the CAO Amazon Trilogy, the poorly named Anaconda. I tried the Amazon Basin  few months back and was frankly CAO_AmazonAnacondaunderwhelmed, then the Fume em Corda came along and I really liked it. Now the Anaconda, a 6″x52 toro with a twisted cord of tobacco in place of a band is the third and last member of the family.  The cigar has a beautiful dark Brazilian Bahiano Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and Colombian, Dominican, Brazilian Braganca, and Fume em Corda fillers made in Honduras. I found it to have loads of flavors that I like, the dark, heavy flavors, and for having only spent a week in my humidor it burdened perfectly. I liked it so much I had to smoke a second one in as many days, which I very rare do.  I suspect I need to try to find another Amazon Basin to give it a second chance, although that may not be easy, I understand they went fast, and I regret not sampling it in its first run.  I always enjoy spending time with Ricky Rodriguez.

 

LaGloriaCubana_Colección ReservaOne of the surprising news from the La Gloria Cubana area of the booth was the introduction of the Coleccion Reserva which is a collaborative effort with Ernesto Carrillo and is actually manufactured in his Tabacalera La Alianza S.A. factory in the Dominican Republic. It has an Ecuador Sumatra wrapper with Nicaraguan binder and filler, which came as a surprise to me. The cigar had a drying effect on my palate that led me to believe there was some Dominican leaf in the blend. Shows what I know. The presentation is beautiful, classic La Gloria hardening back to the days Ernesto owned the brand and made them in Miami. I’ll be giving these some more humidor time and trying them again, I didn’t dislike the cigar, I just think i dug in to the samples a little prematurely. Always a fan of the Lady…always enjoy seeing my buddy Yuri at the show. I first “met” Yuri Guillen when they launched the Serie N and had a webcast that I was lucky enough to take part in back around 2010. I met him in person in 2011 when I visited the factory. He’s a great guy and has done a great job with the La Gloria Cubana brand.

 

Partagas1845_ExtraOscuro_RothschildPartagas reworked their already very good 1845 line putting them in slick black boxes and redoing the blends. They also seem to be putting all three blends in both the brick and mortar and catalog channels, a change from when we saw the Extra Oscuro and Extra Fuerte split between the two (and I can’t remember which went to which…). I selected a Partagas 1845 Extra Oscuro Rothschild for my afternoon cigar yesterday. Oddly, the Rothschild size is more of a Corona Gorda, 5.63″ x 46, which is a really col size. This smoked wonderfully, with heavy dark chocolate and espresso flavors from the Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. Honestly, I’d have to try the old and new side by side to see if I could tell the difference, but the “new” was pretty darned great and will age spectacularly I think.  I’m looking forward to trying out the Extra Fuerte and Clasicos as I always enjoyed the 1845 line in the past.  The presentation is excellent and will be hard to miss on the store shelf. The General Cigars booth was all about the new releases, and largely the Macanudo Inspirado (more on that later), but the classic “back catalog” is still available. The Partagas “yellow box” and Black, tons of La Gloria marques and CAOs vast array of cigars obviously aren’t going anywhere. I was very excited by several of these new releases. More on Macanudo Toraño, Hoyo, Punch and Cohiba later.

 

That’s all for today, time to get it together, I’m replacing my garage door today, and it’s a job that kinda has to be finished in one sitting, ya know.  If you’re in the area and want to stop buy and lend a hand, I’ll provide cigars! 🙂 Until the next time,

CigarCraig

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IPCPR 2017 – Island Lifestyle and Tommy Bahama Booth

I’ll be filtering out my IPCPR coverage over the next few months, mostly as I smoke relevant cigars. I’ve done this every year and am in no hurry, honestly.  It’s what I do. There were several media outlets that knocked themselves out to provide in-depth coverage, check out Cigar Federation, Cigar-Coop/Smooth Draws, Developing Palates, The Cigar Authority, Blind Man’s Puff, Halfwheel, Cigar Weekly, and several others I can’t bring to mind at the moment.  All these folks were killing it on the show floor and are great sources of information.  I do things my way, and I’m good with that. I don’t see writing a blog as any kind of competition, not that I don’t take some pride in what I do (I must say that the Saka video was GOLD! I’m pretty pleased that I was able to present that unique piece of information). Everybody does their unique take on the show, which keeps things interesting.

 

Island Lifestyle1The first stop for me at the show last Tuesday was the Island Lifestyle Importers booth, which won best in show at last year’s IPCPR. Obviously I’ve enjoyed a great relationship via e-mail with Ryan Frailing and his team, and was looking forward to finally meeting them face to face. I like the cigars they are producing under the Island Lifestyle brand, and the accessories they produce under the Island Lifestyle2Tommy Bahama brand are of excellent quality. In addition to being available at Tommy Bahama stores (I LOVE seeing quality cigar products in mainstream stores!), they are available in various cigar stores around the country. The styles will vary by outlet, the Regatta and Cigar Club styles are really sharp, there’s a style that should appeal to everyone. There’s even a golf themed collection with a Island Lifestyle3dimpled finish. The cigars are being rolled out in several new sizes, adding Robusto, Churchill and 6″ x 60 to the Toro in Connecticut, Sungrown and Maduro.  I tried to get the factory out of Ryan, but he wasn’t disclosing anything. They are boxed and in ceramic humidor jars that are stunning. I somehow failed to get a photo of the jars (you can see them on their website), but Island Lifestyle4they are awful nice, black for the Connecticut, Orange for the Sungrown and White for the Maduro. Collectors pieces and the cigars are very tasty!  I smoked a Sungrown Toro at the booth, and I was still smoking it two hours later and it still tasted great. If it sounds like I’m pretty high on this companies brands, it’s because I am and I wasn’t alone as they reported later in the show that they were very busy and made a lot of sales. In addition to the time I spend talking to Ryan in the booth (video below), I had a great conversation with Rick and Phil at the hotel bar after hours on Wednesday. Great bunch of guys with a great selection of products. There were a couple highlights of the week for me personally, and meeting this crew was one of them. Check out the video, it’s raw and unedited, but full of information about the products.

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

 

CigarCraig

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Some Thoughts on IPCPR 2017 and a Few Minutes with Steve Saka

I’m back from the annual trade show and trying to get organized. First and foremost, I’d like to extend my thanks to  The Wooden Indian in Havertown, PA for their support, I couldn’t have attended without Dave’s help. They will be having their annual pig roast supporting Drew Estate Charities on September 16, and I think this will be an event not to be missed. The Wooden Indian raises more money for Drew Estate Charities than any other shop in the country, and I heard that from Jonathan Drew with my own ears. Trust me when I say that if you are a Drew Estate fan, you won’t want to miss this event. Again, thanks to Dave for helping me attend this years IPCPR show.

 

Gala1All in all I thought the IPCPR did a great job with this years show, considering a relatively late change of venue. General Cigar Co. sponsored the opening gala Monday night and absolutely killed it. Open bar, loads of food (carving stations! They had frickin carving stations!) DJ and places to sit and relax. While there seemed to be fewer other manufacturers there as there have been in the past, I saw a full compliment of Perdomos in attendance, family and staff alike. To the Perdomo’s credit, they were also present at the hotel bar where many congregated in the off hours and fully were a part of the IPCPR trade show. Altadis sponsored the breakfast Breakfast 1meeting on Tuesday with a tote bag with cigars and info for each attendee. I personally was less than thrilled with the keynote speaker, Rudy Giuliani.  His nearly one hour speech was far too political, did way too much bashing of the former administration, and made bad analogies and offered poor council in my opinion. I have a hard and fast rule in a cigar lounge, no talking politics or religion.  I regret staying through the whole thing, honestly. I’m sure my views on this my not be popular, but it is what it is. I liked Ron White’s keynote speech in 2011 a thousand times more. Other than getting started on that down note ( for me, at least) the show was it’s normal labyrinth of vendors, most of which were relevant to the industry. I question the one vendor with cell phone external battery cases that had a team of aggressive salespeople insisting that you tell them what phone you have so they could sell you a case. I heard one report of them breaking someone’s case removing it to demonstrate theirs. The second time I was harassed I just told them I had a flip phone and kept walking. Now that I think about it, I only saw them the first day, so perhaps the IPCPR dealt with them. I’ll share more thoughts on the show in future posts, but it seemed like while retailer attendance may have been low, several people I talked to were happy with the orders that were written.

 

SakasquatchI’ve known Steve Saka of Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust for 20 years and actually found myself near the spot we first met face to face in Caesars Palace near Cleopatra’s Barge back in 1997. Knowing Steve that long has given me some advantages over the years but I never push that and generally keep a respectful distance at the show as he always seems to be busy, which is a good thing for him. In keeping with his “Sakasquatch” theme, I snapped a picture with the night vision camera ( like they use in all the best squatch hunting shows!) and titled it “The elusive Sakasquatch in his natural environment”. I guess one would have to have watched one of those shows to get the joke. My only regret is not having tagged “Finding Bigfoot” on the Instagram post. However, as the show closed on Thursday and I was getting ready to make my exit, I came across Steve engaged in an interesting activity that I thought was unique and wanted to share. I’ll be surprised if any other cigar media outlet has this kind of information. Check out the video below.

 

 

ProtocolAfter a nap on Friday following a red-eye flight home, I sat down with a Protocol Corona Gorda which was fantastic, and I wanted to try out a couple of gifts I received from a couple of companies whose products I am I huge fan. I have a couple great desktop humidors from Adorini, and they have a punch cutter that has two sizes of punch and a magnetic closure. The larger punch is bigger than I’ve ever seen, slightly over 1/2″ in diameter.  I’ll be putting this through it’s paces, I can’t wait to use it on a CAO Flathead 660. Cigar Oasis celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and gifted me a Jetline dual flame lighter (with a flip out punch on the bottom). Fortunately it made it through TSA undisturbed in a checked bag. Put a Cigar Oasis in an Adorini humidor and you never have to worry about your cigars. The Protocol was excellent, and Juan and Bill hooked me up pretty good with samples, which are resting from their journey. More on Cubariqueño in a future post.

 

That’s enough for today, I need to try to get back into going to work mode for tomorrow, it sucks going back after a week of fun. Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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IPCPR 2017 – Cigar Oasis Booth

 

I’ve been here in Las Vegas since Monday and have seen many friends and made some new ones.  The venue is the Las Vegas Convention Center, a different location than in the past.  It’s only a couple blocks off the strip, but has a totally different feel  the exhibit space is larger, so it seems more sparsely attended, but many booths seemed busy and it remains to be seen if attendance is down or just more spread out. More on all that later.  I attended several media events, Mambacho Cigars hosted an amazing party at a private residence, Davidoff and Ventura had media briefings in their booths during the show, and I’m heading to a Drew Estate media event tonight. There still seems to be new releases like crazy, in the coming weeks I’ll be closely examining some of them. In the mean time, I paid a visit to the Cigar Oasis booth this morning and took the video below, featuring Chaim Kohn telling us about their offerings and about their celebration of their 20th Anniversary.

 

 

I tried some YouTube live videos yesterday that are available on my YouTube Channel. Today it didn’t want to work so I didn’t do it live, but did post videos as soon as I was done. They are raw and unedited. More to come.  That’s all for now, until the next time.

 

CigarCraig

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IPCPR Prep and a Few Cigars Leftover From Last Year

I realize I missed Wednesday’s post. I had a busy week trying to prepare for taking the coming week off and I didn’t take the time to write anything. I’ve been busy making appointments and trying to plan my short time at the show. I also need to test out YouTube live today at some point so I can use that to share some interviews and give people an idea of what the show is like. This will be my 8th show, and I still have no idea what to expect. I also just added an iPad to my technical arsenal, leaving the laptop home (and actually writing today’s post on it while enjoying coffee on my back porch, I already love it!) I’ve written posts on my iPhone before, but my eyes aren’t what they used to be, this is much better. So today I’ll be packing clothes and cigars for the trip and continuing to binge watch Game Of Thrones, which has had zero cigar content so far. So, let me tell you a little something about a few cigars I smoked this week.

 

Fratello FirecrackerIt seems like it was so long ago now, but Tuesday was the Fourth of July and I smoked the new Fratello Firecracker from 2Guys Smokeshop‘s annual Firecracker line. The Firecracker is a 3 1/2″ x 50 short robustly with a long tail like a fuse.  The last few years have given us the LFD Double Ligero Firecracker, the RoMaCraft Cromagnon Firecracker and several iterations made by Don Pepin Garcia, including the original which is a regular production. I’m a fan of Fratello cigar which is well documented, so when these hit the market I quickly ordered a fiver, pity I didn’t spring for a box. This little bugger has everything I like about the Fratello with some punch. The special little something that the Peruvian leaf brings is there, this is a great little cigar. My only wish is for this in the Bianco blend! I finished the day with a Padron 1964 Exclusivo, skipping my annual civil disobedience Havana since that’s not any big deal anymore!

 

House of LuckyI came across a few cigars leftover from last year’s IPCPR show and figured I’d better smoke them already, one was from a company called House of Lucky, which has a retail and wholesale operation in south Florida. They have a wide range of cigar made in Nicaragua and the few I’ve sampled have been quite good. I started getting emails with their specials a few years back and finally met them at the show last year. It was one of those things where they just happened to be next to someone I knew, otherwise I might have missed them. I smoker their Especial Maduro box pressed corona yesterday and liked it a lot. It claims to have  “long leaf Nicaraguan tobacco from the regions of San Andres, Esteli, and Honduras”, which I find a bit confusing, but good cigar makers can’t always be good writers. This cigar is called corona, but it’s 5″x 48, quite close to their 5″x50 robust. If they were mixed in a bundle nobody would notice, and at a very reasonable $6 price, nobody would care. Honestly, this was my kind of cigar with all the great dark, rich flavors I like and it’s priced well.

 

CrossfireI smoked a cigar from Crossfire Cigars, their Platinum in a Gordo size that was pretty good, and I have enjoyed a lot of their cigars in the past, but when I went to do some research I found the website to be “forbidden” and there hasn’t been any social media activity from them recently. Crossfire was a faith-based company, using the proceeds from the cigar sales to do mission work in the Dominican Republic, so I can imagine jumping through all the regulatory BS wouldn’t be attractive to them. It was a good cigar, nothing particularly special, just not a waste of two hours. Enjoyable and tasty, just not mind blowing. I feel like there are so many cigars it really takes a lot for a cigar to be distinctive and memorable sometimes. I guess I’m getting jaded in my old age.

 

I could go on, but I have some things I need to do today before tomorrow’s early flight to Vegas. That’s all for now, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

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