Diner en Blanc, Veritas 412 and Camacho Nicaraguan Barrel Aged Cigars

DEB1While not a cigar event, Dîner en Blanc is an annual event held in 70 cities around the world. People wear all white, pack a picnic dinner, and go to a secret location which isn’t revealed until you arrive en masse at the place. This year the Philadelphia version was the largest ever, with 5300 people meeting at various places around the city in groups, toting tables, chairs and coolers, again, all wearing white. I wasn’t able to accompany my wife last year, so this was my first time experiencing this sort of thing. We met at the Convention Center and walked to Franklin Square, one of Philadelphia’s five original squares, which became a park in 1838. It has a fountain, merry-go-round, miniature golf course and a playground. 5300 people lined up their tables, many with elaborate place DEBCigarssettings, and shared a meal, then partook in dancing and general fun. I’m told security was heightened, but it wasn’t overly apparent, and I suppose it was helpful that the park is in the shadow of the Philadelphia Police headquarters   It was pretty darned cool. All these different people, just hanging out having a good time. Of course, I took event appropriate cigars along and the Traveling Tobacconist was there with his 30 foot Airstream “CigaRV” mobile cigar lounge. I smoked a Montecristo White Series robusto and a Fratello Bianco, while my wife had a Leccia White. The Fratello Bianco was the corona, sadly my last one, I think this was a special event only size, and it was exceptional. There were a surprising number of people hanging out smoking cigars, many of whom you could tell were first timers. It was a great party, and I was happy to have been a part of it.

 

Veritas_The412_ToroFriday I was looking for something new and exciting to end a busy week, so I rummaged through the IPCPR samples and came upon a cigar from a reasonably local company that I hadn’t had a chance to catch up with until the show. Veritas Cigar Co. is based in Newark, DE, not far from me, and I wanna say I encountered this brand in 2011 at the Delaware Cigar Festival, but they’ve changed some things since then.  I selected The 412 in a toro size. This is a unique and powerful blend! It has a Pennsylvania wrapper, Mexican binder and fillers including more Pennsylvania and ligeros from Condega & Esteli. It had a lot of pepper and cocoa and was very enjoyable, although quite heavy. This was one of the few cigars I had to put down with a bit under two inches to go. I have a couple more samples, and I think I have a large Connecticut shade wrapped Solomon from them going back to 2011 someplace. I am looking forward to sampling more and catching up with them at a local event.

 

Camacho_NicaraguanBarrelAged_GordoYesterday I went with a new Camacho cigar, the Nicaraguan Barrel Aged in the Gordo size. I chose the gordo size because we were taking a long walk to get Powerball tickets (I wonder if we won?) and I wanted a longer smoke. The NBA follows the American Barrel Aged, which has tobacco aged in bourbon barrels, this one has tobaccos aged in rum barrels (and some outlets clam that even the rum barrels are aged, “aged in some of the world’s oldest Nicaraguan rum barrels” was one quote i found. Again, spirits are not my forté, so I have no way of knowing if the nice sweetness in this cigar is from the rum or inherent in the tobaccos, but it was a very good, smooth, enjoyable cigar. I’m looking forward to trying other sizes in this line. I’ve liked Camacho cigars since smoking my first one in 1996, and have seen quite an evolution in the brand, obviously watching as they transitioned from Christian Eiroa to Davidoff, and while they are doing a lot of different things now than they were then, the quality and interestingness (making up words here) is there.

 

That’s all I have for today. Don’t forget the contest running from Friday to Friday this week, and stay tuned for more (hey KRUK….patience!).  Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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Exactus Super Coloso Winner and Another Contest: Pulita Cigars

Special Friday post!  We have a winner in the El Artista Exactus Super Coloso and Ashtray contest!  The winner is Jared Berel! Please send me your address so wed can get this out to you!  Thanks to everyone for entering and reading along, but there’s another chance to win some goodies!

 

The folks at El Artista have provided yet another great prize this week, actually, there are three prizes, a first, second and third prize!

PULITA 60 ANIVERSARIO Commemorates the 60th anniversary of the factory and honors our founder with a master blend of six exceptional tobaccos including tobacco grown and aged by our own skilled craftsmen. We wrapped Pulita 60 Aniversario in perfectly aged Negrito tobacco that gives the cigar the look of velvety smooth swiss chocolate. Dominican Criollo 98 binder ads body to the medium smoke. The filler is composed of tobaccos from Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Colombia, and Pennsylvania that add remarkable complexity as the cigar transitions.

You can read my thoughts on this cigar in my post from the end of November last year.  Great cigars! The third place winner will receive a two pack of Pulita 60 Anniversario and an El Artista Torch Lighter! The second place winner will get a four pack and a lighter, and the first place winner will win a ten count box of the Pulita 60 Anniversario,  El Artista ceramic ashtray & lighter!  Usual rules apply, leave a comment here for a chance to win, and remember, there will be three winners! Everyone is eligible except for Jared! Thanks again to the folks at El Artista for sponsoring these contests!

 

Pulita Prizes

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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Undercrown, Winston Churchill, Mombacho and Exactus Cigars

Undercrown_ChurchillFirst, I was going to announce a winner of the Exactus Super Coloso and Ashtray contest, but I figured I’d give it a couple more days. If I don’t post a winner on Friday, it’ll be in my regular Sunday post.  I smoked a few cigars this week I wanted to talk about. I started out following the Drew Estate Barn Smoker with a new size in the Undercrown line, a Churchill. This is a 7″ x 48 cigar (a Churchill is traditionally 7″ x 47, but they run from 47 to 50 ring gauge in the US). I like the size, it’s a nice, long smoking cigar with a great burn, typical of Drew Estate’s output. It’s got the same make-up of the Undercrown line,  Otapan Negro Último Corte wrapper, T52 Connecticut River Valley Stalk Cut & Cured Habano binder and Select Brazilian Mata Fina and Nicaraguan Cuban Seed filler. As we learned in my last post about the Barnsmoker, that T52 leaf may be in short supply in a few years, due to the hail damage to that poor five acre plot at the farm. The Undercrown Churchill was full of flavor and complexity and is a great addition to the line.

 

Davidoff_WinstonChurchillTheLateHour_ChurchillAnother Churchill I smoked this week was the new Winston Churchill the Late Hour from Davidoff, in the Churchill size. This is another 7″ x 48 cigar, made with tobaccos that are aged in Single Malt Scotch casks for six months. Since I have no frame of reference for flavors imparted by the barrel aging, I can’t speak to that, but I can say it was a spectacular cigar, and for what they get for these, it should be. It has an Ecuador Habano wrapper, Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers, and is made in the Dominican Republic. It was smooth and rich and very flavorful, maybe that little different flavor that made it interesting was the Nicaraguan Viso aged in the Scotch Barrels.  I smoked a Robusto at the IPCPR show, Davidoff had a Media reception in their booth, followed by the Golden Band Awards, which they usually had in a ballroom after hours with tuxedos and all sorts of glitz and glamour. The Robusto was great, it’s just that I can’t really get a good handle on a cigar at the show, I don’t know how anyone really can. Anyway, These are pretty darned tasty cigars, if you have the means, give them a try.

 

Mombacho_Tierra Volcan_ToroLast night I went with the Mombacho Tierra Volcan from Mombacho Cigars in Granada, Nicaragua. I had my first real experience with these guys at the IPCPR show, attending their media party at the house they rented in Las Vegas. It was a beautiful place with a pool, I didn’t bring my suit and skinny dipping was frowned upon for some reason.  While there I smoked their Cosecha 2012 limited edition, which was an amazing cigar although in the harsh conditions of outdoor Las Vegas, it didn’t hold up particularly well. That was my first experience with the brand, and later in the week I smoked one of the Tierra Volcan toros on the show floor. I wanted to give it a smoke under better conditions so I grabbed one yesterday. This is a Nicaraguan puro, something the company is dedicated to, paying homage to the country that host their factory in the first city in the Americas. The Tierra Volcan is a medium bodied, smooth and flavorful cigar, well-balanced with sweet cocoa and earthy flavors. Fortunately, a Mombacho lounge is coming to SMoKE Cigar Lounge in Manayunk, PA, not far from me. Below is a video I did with Claudio Sgroi, the president of the company and master blender, an Italian among Canadians (thanks to Rob Rasmussen, their director of Marketing, for doing the camera work!).  Definitely a company to keep an eye on.

 

 

Exactus_Maduro_ToroTonight, because we are in the midst of an Exactus contest, I figured I’d smoke an Exactus Maduro toro. I’ve smoked and enjoyed the Ecuador Connecticut wrapped Exactus in the past, but wanted to try the maduro (as is my way). By the way, don’t be surprised if a couple “normal” sized Exactus cigars fall into the box when I’m packing up the Super Coloso to ship out. This was a tasty Dominican maduro cigar, 6″ x 50 with 3 year-old Dominican Maduro wrapper,  Dominican Wine Fermented Criollo 98 binder (again, no frame of reference for me)  and fillers of Dominican Criollo 98 & Pennsylvania. I found it to me on the milder side of medium, with a sweet maduro flavor. It was well made and worked well, burning even all the way, and providing a nice experience. You’ll be hearing more about the cigars from El Artista here in the coming weeks. Get on over to the contest and enter if you haven’t already.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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Drew Estate Connecticut River Valley Barn Smoker 2017

Yesterday I had the pleasure of joining about 650 folks at Drew Estate‘s annual Connecticut River Valley Barn Smoker. This takes place at the Foster Family Farm in South Windsor, Connecticut. This is one of the farms where the Liga Privada T-52 wrapper leaf is grown. The event was from 10am to 5pm, and included a four station educational tour which included the curing barn, where Jonathan Drew talked about the differences between processing the stalk cut tobacco in Connecticut and the way they do it in Nicaragua. Another station had Pedro Gomez talking about the seeds and seedlings, the third had Willy Herrera and Henry talking about blending, and the fourth had the owners of the farm discussing the crop in the field there, and the sad fact that once in a while a hail storm comes through and ruins the whole crop. Videos and photos are included below. After the tour, it was time to eat, and a very nice lunch was catered by Bears’s Smokehouse which consisted of Barbecue pork and beef brisket, slaw, beans, mac and cheese and rolls which was delicious. There was also craft beer on hand, I don’t drink, so I didn’t take notice of the details, and samplings of John Drew Brands spirits. After the food was served, they had raffle drawings and an auction with proceeds going to Operation: Cigars For Warriors, for which they raised over $16,000! This was a great event, with your admission you were able to purchase a pack of ten cigars, which cost $10 at the door, since FDA regulations say they can’t “give away” cigars, clever work around. The cigars included a Liga Privada “A”, a Liga Privada Velvet Rat, a Liga Privada No. 9, a Liga Privada T52, a Nica Rustica El Brujito, an Undercrown toro, a FSG toro, a Kentucky Fire Cured Flying Pig, a Herrera Estali, and a Pappy Van Winkle. I took a few of my own and enjoyed an Undercrown toro and a Nica Rustica El Brujito at the event. Afterwards some folks met up at Puros Cigar Shop in East Hartford where some more fraternization occurred. I had the pleasure of hanging out with my friends Brian and Vince from BnB Cigars in Chestnut Hill, PA, and I also so several people I knew from the Philadelphia area. A good time was had by all, the weather was great, and the event was well done!  Thanks to Joe at Drew Estate for inviting me, it was great seeing all my Drew Estate friends!

 

Check out the videos below, and the photos, and don’t forget to go back to Wednesday’s post and enter to win some cool stuff from the folks at El Artista Cigars!

 

Until the next time,

CigarCraig

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Contest! El Artista Exactus Super Coloso and Ashtray!

It’s been a while since I had a proper contest, and my friends at El Artista Cigars have offered to sponsor a series of them! Tabacalera El Artista has roots going back to 1955, and has been making cigars in the Dominican Republic ever since. Some of their brands are Pulita, Puros Ambar, Big Papi (David Ortiz, the Major League Baseball star, whose appearance at the 2017 IPCPR show drew big crowds), and the Exactus.  Today’s contest features the Exactus Super Coloso, a huge 11″ x 90 cigar, with an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, Dominican Wine Fermented Criollo 98 binder and Dominican Criollo 98 filler. this is a lot of cigar, chances are you’re going to want someplace to rest it when you smoke it, so also included is a beautiful Exactus Ashtray. While I haven’t personally smoked the Super Coloso, I’ve enjoyed the Robusto quite a few times, good stuff.

Exactus Supercoloso + Ashtray 2Exactus Supercoloso + Ashtray

Normal CigarCraig.com contest rules apply, leave a comment on this post to enter, and I’ll select and announce the winner next Wednesday, August 16, 2017. One entry per person, and you must be of legal smoking age in your jurisdiction to win. this contest is open to all whether you’ve won recently or not. Thanks to the folks at El Artista for providing this cool prize!

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

CigarCraig

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