Aging Room, Liga Privada and Royal Gold Kismet and Casino Gold Cigars

Thank you all for the kind words about my deer/car incident. There’s a lot of ways it could have turned out much worse, and it sounds like the car will get fixed so I’ll have my sexy black Toyota Yaris back in a few weeks!  I was ready to shop for a used car, something I could pay cash for, but I’d rather have MY used car back, I know where it’s been! I’d have a hard time replacing my Undercrown window sticker anyway!  In other news, this week the announcement came that Swisher International is purchasing Drew Estate, which caused quite a stir in the cigar community. All the folks analyzing this who have no idea about the inner workings drive me a little crazy. As far as I’m concerned, Jonathan Drew and Marvin Samel are very intelligent business men, they wouldn’t have built what they have if they weren’t, and if they are happy, I’m happy. If nothing else, it gives them the ability to do the things they do best without having to worry about the business side as much. The people criticizing this don’t want anything to do with Swisher’s products for the most part. My only concern is the fact that Swisher may not have as big an interest in seeing premium cigars separated from non-premium cigars as far as the FDA is concerned, however now they have a greater interest in doing so. It will be interesting to see what other business moves happen in the cigar industry.

 

AgingRoom_QuatroF55_ConcertoSunday I selected a Aging Room Quatro F55 Concerto, a nice Churchill from Boutique Blends.  I’ve had trouble with many cigars in this line, they tend to put a physical hurtin on me!  I love the flavor, but more times than not they overwhelm me for some reason. Very few cigar get to me the way Aging Room cigars have recently!  this is doubly interesting since it’s a Dominican cigar. I had no such trouble with this size, it was delicious and perfectly behaved.  I’m not surprised that this was the number two cigar of the year last year in Cigar Aficionado, it was a very nice way to finish the weekend. I’ll not be afraid to smoke this line again.

 

LigaPrivadaNo9_CoronaMonday, after hearing the Drew Estate news, I figured I’d smoke something interesting from the Liga Privada line.  Last year around my 50th birthday I received a very generous package from my friend Will Cooper, whom you may know from Cigar-Coop.com and StogieGeeks.com.  In this package was a corona sized Liga Privada No.9, with the story that Steve Saka had these made for his own consumption and shared some with Will. The question is how it compared to the Dirty Rat, which is a similar size. Certainly the Dirty Rat is a stronger cigar, however this No.9 had some age, and the Dirty Rats I’ve had recently also were four or five years old. It’s hard to compare under those circumstances, but the No.9 in the corona size was very nice, although I think the toro size remains my favorite in the line.

 

Royal Gold_Kismet_ChanceI had a couple cigars from Royal Gold, which, ironically, is reasonably new premium cigar division of Swisher International, from when I talked to Alex Goldman at the Famous Smoke Shop Cigarnival back in June. I had smoked and enjoyed the Cameroon wrapped Nirvana, which is made by Drew Estate a couple months ago and had the Casino Gold and the Kismet in the humidor. The Kismet Chance is a 5½” x 46 corona gorda, although thinking back I thought it was a robusto. This is a Dominican puro made at Agusto Reyes factory in Santiago.  I found this to be a very mild and well made cigar, but it was fairly unremarkable. It burned nicely and wasn’t offensive, just didn’t really stand out to me in any way.

 

Royal Gold_Casino Gold_QueenTonight I smoked the Royal Gold Casino Gold HRS in the Queen size. This is a 5¾x52 cigar made by Placencia in Honduras.  I don’t know if it’s because I have a cold coming on or what, but this one fell flat for me too.  Ever have a cigar that isn’t plugged, but draws poorly? Ever wonder why you can blow through a cigar and produce tons of smoke, but drawing produces very little?  I wonder that all the time, and I wondered this again tonight.  It did open up in the second half, and I wonder if the very damp evening air had something to do with it. Chalk it up to experience.  I smoked these this week because I wonder how much attention the Royal Gold division is going to get now that Swisher owns a premium cigar company, factory and all.

 

That’s all I got tonight. I’m watching the Flyers play their arch enemies the Penguins, and they are winning for a change.  I have some great friends that are Penguins fans, but I like them anyway. Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

 

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A Joya de Nicaragua Event, an Oceano and a Rocky Patel Cigar

Thursday evening I was headed home after work with the intention of heading out to The Wooden Indian in Havertown, PA  for a Joya de Nicaragua event with Dr. Alejandro Martinez Cuenca, who I first met and got to know at the 2011 IPCPR show.  I was excited for the chance to see Dr. Cuenca again, it’s been a few months.  As I was about a mile from home and my airbag deployed and I felt a yaris vs deer rnd 2 10172014bang, and I see a large buck flying to my left in my mirror.  This was quite a surprise to me, as I never saw the deer, it must have darted out from my left. I can only think that not seeing the buck might have been a good thing as I never swerved, braked, or did anything foolish that may have caused a worse accident.  Long story short, I joya_de_nic_darkcorojo_elMartillodidn’t get to the event, and, after having the car towed and calling the insurance company, it was too late. I decided I needed a Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Dark Corojo El Martillo to get my bearings.  Great cigar, loaded with sweet and spicy flavors. This may be one of my favorite “goto” cigars.  I’ll be interested to see if the car is a total loss or not. The irony is that the house we just bought is on Buck Run Lane.  This was the second deer that’s run into that car in the last eleven  months.

 

Oceano_IndianFriday I smoked the new offering from my friends at La Sirena Cigar Co., the Oceano. The five sizes in thei line are named after the Oceans, and I smoked the Indian, which is 5½ x 50. This cigar is a beauty, the Dominican Habano Vuelta Arriba wrapper is a nice chocolate color, it has a Dominican Criollo binder and Dominiucan and Nicaraguan fillers with the Visos and Ligeros from the DR and the Seco from Nicaragua, all assembled at the Quesada factory. The big surprise here is that this is a powerhouse of a smoke!  The draw was free and easy, and it burned perfectly. It had some horsepower to it!  This was a great smoke.

 

RockyPatel_Royale_ToroYesterday we moved some furniture and stuff to the new house and got good and worn out. We’re not even close to beig ready to move in yet, but at least we got some stuff over there. PODS are great, but can get expensive over time.  After we got home I took Macha for a walk with a cigar. I came across a cache of Rocky Patel cigars in the humidor, I guess they’ve been accumulating over the years. The Royale looked tasty so I figured I try it out. This toro has an Ecuador Sumatra wrapper,  Connecticut shade & Connecticut broadleaf double binder and fillers from Condega and Esteli in Nicarauga,  All this combined for a darned tasty smoke!  Rich expresso and cocoa flavors and a nice, straight burn. Rocky has a lot of cigars under his umbrella, and this is one of the best I’ve had. Very enjoyable.

 

That’s it for today!  Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

 

 

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Blanco Cigars, La Palina, L’Atelier, and Placeres Reserva and Macha

Last time I offered a five pack from my humidors for the correct answer to our dog’s name significance.  While it’s true that the SPCA named her after Macha, the goddess in Irish mythology, I decided that it had to have a Beatles tie in.  We have cats named Max (Maxwell’s Silver Hammer) and Eleanor (Eleanor Rigby), so I knew there must be a connection, and there was, sort of.  It’s a stretch, but in 1981 George Harrison financed a film starring Ringo Starr called “Caveman”, one of my favorite movies.  One of the first peices of dialog in the movie is Ringo’s character, Atouk, encountering a dinosaur, and yelling “Macha!”.  So, it’s obscure, but I was able to come up with a Beatles reference for the name Macha!  I’m surprised (not really) that nobody came up with it.  Here’s the first part of Caveman for your entertainment. Interesting to note that the movie is set in One Zillion B.C., October 9.  October 9 is John Lennon’s birthday, and he was murdered the year before. This was an homage to him.  I suppose since nobody got it right I’ll select a winner at Random, the number generator spit out the number 10, so Dan Colley needs to send me his address. Thanks for playing along, I’ll try to throw these little contests in from time to time.

 

 

Blanco_LigaExclusivadeFamilia_SalomonOn to the cigars!  Sunday I selected a Blanco Liga Exclusiva de Familia Connecticut Shade Salomon.  David Blanco gave me this cigar at The Smokin Goose event a few weeks ago and it looked really special, so I had to smoke it.  It’s a 6″ x 54 Salomon shaped cigar with a beautiful wrapper which is US Connecticut seeds grown in the Talanga Valley of Honduras. It lit quickly and easily, and burned perfectly.  The cigar was silky smooth and creamy. It was a very enjoyable cigar, refined and delicious. I really like the Blanco 9, but for totally different reasons. This pretty perfecto is something special. Highly recommended.

 

LaPalina_BlackLabel_RobustoMonday I went for another new cigar, the La Palina Black Label Robusto.  This 5″x52 robusto has a dark Brazilian wrapper, with Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers made in the PDR factory in Dominican Republic. It recent;y came to my attention that the PDR factory is located either in the same complex, or very close to, Jochi Blanco’s factory where the Boutique Blends lines are made. These are both very hot factories in the DR.  I expected a very good experience from the La Palina, and I received it. The Brazilian wrapper gives it a nice espresso like flavor, with a hint of sweetness.  It hit the spot on my evening walk.

 

LAtellierMaduro_Mad44Tuesday I had to do some things at the new house after dinner, so when I got home I took my walk with a L’Atelier Maduro MAD44 which I bought back in August at Havana Manor in Longmont, Colorado. I was pretty sure the small size would come in handy one day, and this was the perfect time. It was perfect for a mile and a half walk listening to the Flyers game. This line has the Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper with a Sancti Spiritus Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan fillers.  This is yet another refined smoke, with a sweet, strong coffee flavor. It burned perfectly for the entirety of it’s four inch length. It’s a great short smoke.

 

PlaceresReserva_EstrellasTonight I came across a Placeres Reserva Estrellas from Kuuts Cigars in the humidor and decided it’s time had come. This cigar is made in Honduras, with a Nicaraguan wrapper and binder and Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers.  This is the first of this line I’ve tried, and it’s a winner. It had a savory flavor, like a nice steak. It burned perfectly with a nice flat and even burn.  Some say that a cone shaped ember is the sign of a perfect burn, I disagree. I love to tap off the ash and have a nice flat coal, it tells me that all the components are burning at the same rate, and it’s no small feat to make this happen. It’s a testament to the blender who manages to get leaves of varying thickness and oiliness to burn so well.  I’ll be anxious to sample other cigars from Kuuts after having such a good experience with this one.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

 

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A Flying Pig, a Foundry and a Dominican Big Leaguer Cigar and a House

LPSU_FlyingPigIt’s been a busy weekend.  I took the day off Friday to settle on our new house. It’ll be a while before we get moved in, as there are some things we want to do there, and our current housing remains on the market.  One feature that really sold us on the new house was a large screened in back porch, which will be a perfect place to enjoy cigars!  So Thursday evening after work I took my evening walk with a Liga Privada No.9 Flying Pig. I’ve actually been thinking about smoking one of these or a while, as I haven’t smoked one since June of 2011. Another reason this came to mind is that there’s a Flying Pig Saloon near the house. I have a habit of coming across various incarnations of Flying Pigs, most recently a concrete garden ornament which was $70, too rich for my blood.  Anyway, I think I’ve had this particular Pig in my humidor since early 2011, and I believe the last one I have is from last year, although I believe they were all made about the same time. The shape is cool, it ends too soon, and it’s a tasty little porker. It’s rich and meaty and a fun way to smoke a Liga Privada No. 9.  I actually have never had the T52 or Undercrown Pigs yet, and I have a Feral Pig in the humidor that may need to be burned soon. I like having Ligas around, but they are ready to smoke and I don’t know that they age very well. Good smokes if you can find them, I dig the Pig.

 

Foundry_WormHole_2064_Hell-E-INAs I said, I had Friday off, so we went out to breakfast, stopped at the bank and got a large check,  did some shopping, walked through the house, and went to settlement.  Oddly, the title service rep recognized me (my name) from junior high.  I’ve repressed most memories from that dark and awkward time in my life, but I remembered her name and she knew a lot of people in the neighborhood I grew up in. It always seems like we run into strange coincidences at the settlement table. Anyway, I can’t imagine you care about, so the cigar I smoked on my Friday evening walk was a Foundry Worm Hole 2014 blend HELL-I-EN. Every time I smoke a Foundry cigar I learn a little more about them. A few weeks back Michael Giannini sent me a bunch of cigars, and he sent both sizes of the 2064 blend. This is a larger size, and, in true Foundry fashion, I have no idea what the tobacco make-up of these are.  What I do know is that this cigar is smooth, reasonably mild, and, like I’ve experienced with many cigars in the Foundry and Compounds, Elements and Musings lines, is really enjoyable.  They are all a little bit different than other cigars, and I really like that. I can always expect a unique experience, it may not suit my palate every time, but most of the time I’m satisfied and entertained by the cigar.  Any company that makes a box shaped like my surname initial has to be cool. This was a super smooth and tasty cigar, an experience on a par with a Davidoff. I do have my doubts that there’s tobacco from Mars in the blend.

 

DominicanBigLeaguer_AnniversarySaturday was a rainy, dreary fall day, the kind of day I really dislike.  We ran over the the house to show Macha (the dog….side contest: I’ll send a 5er of my choosing to the first person who can tell me where that name comes from in the comments, and it’s not what the SPCA told us the origin is, it’s what I say it is! It ties into another significant part of our lives here). We made a list and bought some stuff at the store which I may go ever today and install.  After an early dinner I took a walk with a Dominican Big Leaguer Anniversary in a toro size. One of the stops we made on Friday was at a local shop, JM cigars, in Exton, PA. This is a classic cigar shop, and I’ve been going there for years, since I started smoking premium cigars back around 1995.  Anyway, the owner, Jeff, was big on the DBL line when I was in there a few months back and I enjoyed what I smoked.  A few weeks ago I finally had the opportunity to meet and talk to Francisco Almonte, the owner of the brand and he gave me this cigar.  This line pays homage to the Dominican love of baseball. It’s a national obsession really.  Anyway, this cigar showed promise, it had a great flavor, but the mottled wrapper didn’t really want to burn for the first half of the cigar.  It’s possible that it was a fairly thick leaf and since it was such a damp day it took some time for the heat of the cigar to dry it out.  It was still a darned tasty cigar, and I really look forward to smoking the San Andrès maduro in the regular line.  An interesting note, as I usually rely on my friend Will Cooper’s Cigar-Coop.com to fill in some blanks when manufacturer sites are lacking, I could find nothing on the Dominican Big Leaguer, or DBL Cigars. Something must be wrong with his site search.

 

On a peripherally related note, I’ve been snacking on Ritz Bacon flavored crackers spread with The Bacon Jams all weekend.  It’s really hard to have too much bacon, and I was going to put some actual bacon on a couple, but someone polished off the few strips I had leftover from yesterday’s breakfast.  Anyway, what a tasty snack. If you want to learn more about the sweety and meaty goodness that is The Bacon Jams, they are going to be featured on QVC tomorrow (Monday, Oct. 13) in the 5PM EDT hour.  Tune in and buy some, I’m sure they will sell out!  One of the principles of the company, Bruce,  is a cigar smoker and was in the CAO and Flying Dog pairing video we did a few months ago.  Bruce also was involved in the development of the app for the Cigar Oasis WiFi remote, which is very cool, by the way. You want spreadable bacon. You need spreadable bacon.

 

That’s it for now, enjoy some great cigars today! Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

 

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A Montecristo, a Gurkha and a Cohiba, and Some Cigar News

CasadeMontecristo_Exclusivo I’m sitting here watching the first Flyers game of the season, trying to write. Hockey is the only sport I have any interest in, so it’s nice that it’s back!  Anyway, I stuck with some classic brands this week, starting off with a Montecristo which was given to me by Tom, our local Altadis rep a few weeks back at The Smokin Goose Festival. Goose’s Tobacco is a Montecristo Lounge, so they have the exclusive (and aptly named) Casa de Montecristo Exclusivo. Obviously, this cigar is only available at Montecristo lounges.  This is a 6″ x 60 with an enormous band in addition to a black and silver Montecristo band. The wrapper is Ecuador Sumatra, with Nicaraguan binder and fillers.  The cigar burned very nicely, and it had a reasonably sweet tobacco flavor. I enjoyed this cigar, I suspect I would smoke this again if I found myself in a Montecristo lounge and had $12 burning a hole in my pocket.

 

EastIndia_The Classic Cigar - Havana BlendTuesday I heard the news that Carlos Llaca Toraño is now the Director of Operations at Gurkha Cigars.  He was previously the Operations Director at Toraño Family cigars until their recent acquisition by General Cigar Co.  This prompted me to select the newest offering from Gurkha’s East India Trading Co., The Classic Cigar – Havana Blend in the XO size. The square press on this 6″ x 60 makes it feel smaller than it is. This is another nice smoking cigar which I found to have a pleasing flavor on the light side.  Once I realized that this wasn’t a powerful cigar I really enjoyed the delicate flavor.  At right around $8 each, this is a nice smoke. I only had to touch it up once or twice, otherwise it burned quite well.  This would probably be a nice morning cigar with a cup of coffee.

 

Cohiba_Nicaragua_N50Tonight I went with the new Cohiba Nicaragua in the N50 robusto size.  The samples I received from General Cigar Co. are cellophaned 5″ x 50, which only appear to be available in glass tubes commercially.  This is the first Cohiba to be blended and handcrafted in Nicaragua. The fillers are from Esteli and Jalapa and the wrapper is listed as Colorado Oscuro, no mention of country of origin. Obviously the Cohiba name comes with some expectations, whether positive or not, so I was interested to see what this new Nicaraguan blend brought to the table.  It started out very sweet, and developed very nicely. It burned like a super premium cigar should, a nice flat and even burn with a perfect draw through a V-cut.  I suspect these will age nicely, but they are smoking well now.

 

As I was getting a lighter out the other day I realized that I have a few of them laying around.  One thing that stands out to me is that the lighters I have range from a couple dollars to around $60, and with the proper care, the cheaper ones generally work as well as the expensive ones. In this picture you’ll notice that none of the three Blazer torches I’ve had over the last 17 years or so have survived.  The Zippo with the z-Plus insert has been the most impressive, as well as the Ronson. The newest addition is the Jetline triple torch (at about 9 oclock) which came from the Rocky Mountain Festival goodie bag. This is a very nice lighter. The yellow one will be recognized by some of my blogger bretheren, it actually has what is basically a Cricket lighter inside of it and I have had good luck taking it apart and spreading it out through my luggage when I travel. Only the white La Gloria lighter is a soft flame, hence it gets very little use. I have some other ones here and there, I hate not having a lighter handy!

 

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News

 

The first big news relates to my mention of Carlos Llaca Toraño joining Gurkha, his cousin Jack Toraño, who was also displaced in the acquisition, has joined Roberto P. Duran Premium Cigars. Look for a press release in the coming days announcing this. Anyone who knows Jack knows what a great guy he is, and I’m very glad to hear he’s re-joining the workforce after a reasonably short hiatus.

 

In other news, The Charlotte Observer reports that the JR Statesville store will be closing at the end of the year.  There are three stores in North Carolina, and they are all large outlet stores with all kinds of merchandise from Jeans and toys, to cigarettes and premium cigars. If you ever drove down I-95 through North Carolina you can’t miss the entertaining billboards. Apparently the owner of the property isn’t renewing their lease and has plans to re-develop the entire shopping center that is aging. Seventy-seven jobs will be lost, however JRs says they will open a cigar only store nearby in the future.  The full story is here. This is the only North Carolina location I haven’t visited, I’ve stopped at the Selma store on the few trips I’ve made down I-95, and I had a tour of the massive distribution center in Burlington many years ago.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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