Brick House, Leccia Luchador and Arturo Fuente 8-5-8 Cigars

I continue to have trouble NOT reaching for maduros and darker wrapped cigars! I guess it’s a winter thing, I’ll try to reverse the trend, but, honestly, I’m loving most of the cigars I’m smoking lately! The My Father Connecticut I smoked a week or two ago was a really good change, but I have to wonder how I would have felt smoking it outdoors in the cold. The darker, heavier wrappers just seen to hold up better both structurally and in flavor, when the mercury drops.

 
BrickHouse_MightyMaduroSunday’s cigar was a Brick House Mighty Mighty Maduro from the folks at JC Newman. This is a Nicaraguan puro, manufactured at their factory in Esteli. This is a large cigar, 6¼” x 60, and very well built. The burn and draw were perfect. I haven’t been screwing around lately experimenting with various cutters, I’ve been using a straight cut on most (exceptions being punching small ring cigars sometimes). I can’t tell you how tired I am of bundling up then making sure I have all the tools I need before I walk out the door to have a smoke. It’s taking me 15 minutes to do all the prep needed, grabbing a cigar, tools, taking a picture, posting on Instagram, then I always forget something….anyway, this was a good smoke, and these are reasonably priced. It’s got a thick, rich flavor of cocoa from the dark brown and oily Brazilian wrapper. I think it’s a darned good cigar.

 
Leccia_Luchador_ElHombreThe lure of the Luchador was too strong for me to resist this week, so Monday had to feature the Leccia Luchador El Hombre for my attempt at an evening walk. It’s still too cold, barely getting a mile in in this weather, but the porch provides shelter from the worst of the elements. This cigar is one of my absolute favorites from last year, and continues to be right up there on my list of favorite cigars. It’s not overpowering, but full of flavor, and I still get some jalapeño and dark chocolate in the flavor profile. It’s entertaining and satisfying and I dig it. Happy to say a box of these will be moving into the cabinet humidor when it finally shows up in a couple weeks.

 
AFuente_858_SungrownA few weeks ago one of my vendors at work sent me a pile of cigars from Fuente. His story was that a friend or business associate of his is friends with someone in the Fuente family and regularly sends him care packages. This bag he sent me had some Opus, an Añejo Shark (a cigar I haven’t smoked yet) some Hemingways, a Don Carlos, and a couple Sungrowns. It was a very impressive selection, even for someone as jaded as myself. I figured I’d dig into the bag last night and came out with the 858 Sungrown. Of course, I’ve smoked a bunch of the 858 in natural and maduro, but it’s been a dozen years easily. I always enjoyed the cigars, so I was looking forward to this one. The difference is the Ecuador Sungrown wrapper with is nice and dark, and a cedar sleeve with a black band and ribbon (the regular line is still green on the band, right?). I love the size of this cigar too, 6” x 47, which makes it chunkier and longer than a corona gorda, but not quite as big as a toro. I ended up having a very nice time smoking this cigar. There was a nice sweetness and it burned pretty well. These tend to be in the $6-$7 range from what I can recall, and I think that’s a good price, or at least it’s a very good cigar for that price. It’s certainly a cigar I would revisit often if I had them in the humidor. Tasty!

 

That’s about it for today. Look forward to a contest in the near future, as well as some cool news next week.  Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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Smoking Evil Genius, Rodrigo and Daniel Marshall Cigars

It’s been a cold and busy week. We managed to schedule the furnace and water heater installation on the coldest day of the year. It all went well, we now have efficient heat and hot water, and all is right with the world.  It was brutally cold here this week, too cold most nights to walk the dog, but fortunately the screen porch (with plastic up covering the screen) runs twenty or thirty degrees warmer than outside with a space heater running. It’s a tolerable place to enjoy a cigar while listening to cigar podcasts.  I haven’t been smoking anything particularly large though, while sitting in 30° is preferable to single digits, it still gets old pretty quick!  Anyway, here’s what burned this week in the cigar porch.

 

EvilGenius_BlackChapel_robustoThursday happened to be my youngest son’s 21st birthday. He had to work so we didn’t really get to celebrate, so for no particular reason I chose a Black Chapel Robusto from Evil Genius Cigars.  I don’t think my son would claim to be either, so it really was just a random selection. Evil Genius Cigars is the creation of a guy named Alex Hirsh from the Allentown, PA area.  I met Alex last September at the Goosefest, and got to spend some time with him a few months ago at another local shop.  He’s another one of those tall cigar guys.  If I got Alex, Sean Williams, Clint Aaron, Willie Herrera, Omar de Frias and Tony Gomez  together they would make a formidable basketball team, or, at the very least, can be called upon to reach things on high shelves.  Anyway, they make me feel short, and I’m 6′ 0″. Back to the cigar.  This is another cigar where the white/black branding between the two lines (there’s a White Chapel as well) is backward. We’ve been programmed to think of the White as mild and black as strong, and these have it reversed.  This Black Chapel is a nice, mild cigar with a lot of very nice flavors. It’s made at La Aurora, and shares a flavor profile to some extent. If you can find these, and I don’t think they are widely distributed as of yet, give both the Black and White Chaples a spin.

 

Rodrigo_Fortaleza_AbsolutoFriday,  as I said,  was brutally cold, as in it barely got out of single digits. I know a lot of places get colder, but that’s pretty frigid for these parts. Cold is relative. Floridians break out the parkas and mittens when it gets to the 50s, Chicagoans are wearing shorts in the teens. Not casting aspersions either way (although, honestly, shorts?). On my morning commute among all the idiots on the road, chief among them was the guy on the motorcycle, obviously overcompensating for something. When I got home and basked in the glory of the new heaters for a few minutes, I grabbed a short smoke and hit the porch. I’ve had a single, lonely Rodrigo La Fortaleza Absoluto, a beautiful dark, pigtailed 5 1/8″ x 43 corona. This cigar has a Ecuador Sumatra wrapper, Dominican binder and fillers from the Dominican Republic and Peru.  I have a soft spot for cigars with Peruvian leaf in the blend, and this cigar is no exception.  This was a very tasty and well behaved cigar. Bold flavors all the way through, some pepper, some woody flavors, overall a tasty treat.  George Rodriguez is a pretty cool dude, if you ever get a chance to meet him, do it. He makes some pretty darned good cigars with the help of Tabacalera Ventura in the DR.

 

DanielMarshall_Red Label_RobustoYesterday it snowed most of the day, and generally around here when it snows it’s not so frigidly cold. It was still cold, but Macha and I got a bit of a walk in with a Daniel Marshall Red Label Robusto.  Daniel Marshall is well known as a humidor maker, and his humidors are second to none in quality. It only makes sense that he would produce a line of cigars to put in those humidors, so he has a White Label, a Black Label and a Red Label. The Red Label is made by the Quesadas in the Dominican Republic. An aside, I feel like I’ve been smoking an over abundance of Dominican cigars lately. That’s weird since I gravitate toward Nicaraguans… I digress. This cigar has a sweet Habano wrapper, and is actually all Nicaraguan tobacco, which answer’s that question, I guess!  It’s not a strong cigar though, it’s actually on the mild side, but the sweet and a little bit spicy flavor made up for it.This cigar was from the Rocky Mountain Cigar Fest last August, so it has been safely ensconced in my humidor since then. Does anyone rate cigar websites? I’d love to see a review of this “vintage” website :-).

 

One quick rant.  There’s a phenomenon in the online cigar community where people send one another cigar gifts and refer to it as “Bombing”.  I’ve done it, I am sure most of us have. One of the great joys is sharing cigars with people, with no expectation of reciprocation. What bugs me is the affectation of associating this with actual bombing.  People complaining about their mailboxes and porches falling victim to various incendiary calamities. I find it juvenile and offensive on some levels.  I guess that’s just my old fogeyism coming through.  If I send you cigars, please accept them with grace and dignity as a gift, not as an assault. I guess the whole “bomb” thing seems negative to me and I’m a glass half full kinda guy…

 

My wife and I are off to the Philadelphia Hard Rock Hotel tonight for an Oscar Awards party. I think we’ve seen one nominated movie this year, and that was in the comfort of our living room. It’s something interesting to do, not that we are big movie buffs or anything.  I’ll stuff a few cigars in my pocket with no real expectation of having an opportunity to smoke one. This is a perfect reason to have some tubos on hand.

 

Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

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My Father Connecticut, Oliva Orchant, a Little PDR, and a Toraño

imageSunday afternoon I took the two mile trip to the cigar shop since it was bitterly cold and windy.  I finally smoked the My Father Connecticut Toro.  This is a 6½” x 54 Ecuador wrapped beauty is made from tobacco grown on the Garcia’s farms in Nicaragua (except the wrapper) and cut and lit nicely. I was quite impressed with everything about this cigar. It burned perfectly, had a great draw and gave me a nice hour and a half or so of relaxation. I have been spending more time at this shop, but still haven’t wandered into the Montecristo Lounge, I just sat out in the front in a leather chair watching some golf, perusing some magazines and hanging out. I know the former owner, who still works there, but he wasn’t there. This Connecticut shade wrapped cigar is a winner, great smoking experience.

 

Oliva_Orchant Seleccion_SkinnyMonday was another cold night, so I went with a smaller cigar, the “Skinny” corona in Mitchell Orchant’s Oliva  Orchant Seleccion.  I smoked the 4″ x 60 Chubby a couple weeks ago and really enjoyed it. This 5″ x 43 corona was excellent, although different from the Chubby. The flavor was more direct, less smooth and mellow than the larger ring.  Obviously the wrapper to filler ratio makes a very big difference, and I’m very interested in trying the robusto in this line to see if it falls in the middle.  I love all cigars, sometimes I like the sharper, more focussed flavors of a smaller ring gauge, other times I enjoy larger rings, they are generally a little cooler. Mostly I like a longer smoke though, as every cigar is  mini vacation.  It’s a shame these aren’t available on this side of the pond, I’m finding them to be a bit more refined than the already pretty refined Oliva Serie V.

 

AFlores_Gran Reserva_HalfCoronaTinTuesday I opted for a really short smoke, the A. Flores Gran Reserva Half Corona, a 2006 Dominican Corojo wrapped little flavor bomb from PDR Cigars. It has Dominican Corojo and Nicaraguan Habano filler, Dominican binder, and packs a lot of flavor into a 3½” x 46 cigar. This is a great half hour smoke, and gives a big cigar experience in a small package. These are available in neat tins that are very handy, and are really delicious little cigars.  Perfect for a frigid and busy evening.

 

Torano_Exodus50Years_RobustoWe’ve been furnace shopping, as ours is failing, and finally came to a decision. The new furnace and water heater goes in Friday. To celebrate I grabbed a favorite, the Toraño Exodus 1959 50 Year, with the copper colored bands.  This tasty 5″ x 50 robusto has a dark Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper, Honduran binder and Nicaraguan fillers. I really love the flavor of this cigar, it has a unique toasty cocoa flavor that is very appealing. this one has been in the humidor for a while, and I hope that the change in ownership doesn’t change the flavor of this smoke. This is probably my favorite in the Exodus series.

 

That’s it for now, it’s been a wild week with the furnace and all. Fortunately we are getting it replaced before it fails completely, it’s really the wrong time of year fro that nonsense, and we’ve been unhappy with the hot water since we moved in. I really don’t want the water heater failing, that tends to get messy and we just had new carpet (and walls) in the room adjacent to the room with all the mechanicals. We are REALLY looking forward to spring!  That’s it for now, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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La Aurora Untamed, La Palina and Recluse: All Maduro, All Dominican, All Tasty!

LaAurora_Untamed_RobustoThe La Aurora Untamed is a new release from the oldest cigar maker in the Dominican Republic, and is a departure from the norm in a few ways.  As it’s name suggests, the Untamed is a strong cigar. It’s got a dark, rustic Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper surrounding Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers.  The packaging is also a departure from the traditional and classy presentation of the rest of the La Aurora line, with a noticeably agitated lion’s head roaring in front of what appear to be bloody scratch marks in black, red and foil. It’s a striking band that some consider tacky, but I rather enjoy it.  The cigar is made for my palate. I’ve had a very long history with La Aurora, going back nearly 20 years to my very first box purchase, and my experience has run the gamut from not caring for certain cigars at all, to absolutely adoring certain blends. This Untamed, at least in the robusto size (I’ll certainly try more sizes), is a contender for my overall favorite, at least in the normally affordable range. I can’t count the Preferidos or the Puro Vintage lines, as they are special, either because they taste great, or because of events surrounding them that evoke pleasing memories (I’ve smoked Puro Vintage 2003s whenever granddaughters were born, I only can only have two more granddaughters…). The Untamed is strong, bold, and loaded with rich, sweet, earthy cocoa and espresso flavors that I love.  I seriously dig this smoke, box worthy in my early opinion. Thank you to Jason at Miami Cigar and Co., and Gabriel Piñeres for providing these samples.

 

LaPalina_BlackLabel_RobustoTaking a nearly 180° turn from the unapologetic, in-your-face nature of the La Aurora, Friday I decided to wrap up the week with a La Palina Black Label robusto that had been in the humidor for a while. In it’s uncellophaned state, I felt it was time to spare it any further risk of wear and tear and smoke it up. This has a Brazilian maduro wrapper, another wrapper I really like, and is more refined and delicate in flavor, sophisticated, perhaps.  This cigar is made in the Dominican Republic also (PDR factory? Working from memory, not always a good thing for me to do), and has Dominican and Nicaraguan leaf in both the double binder and the filler. I really enjoyed this perfect smoking cigar for it’s complexity, it kept me guessing as opposed to having a bold flavor throughout, and was entertaining to smoke.

 

Recluse_Draconian_Sidewinder3Wrapping up a string of Dominican maduros, yesterday I took a long afternoon walk with the Recluse Draconian Sidewinder #3 from Iconic Leaf. This one has an Ecuador maduro wrapper, I’m guessing Habano.  The cigar is a formidable 7″ x 57, and is their proprietary Sidewinder shape which is a round/box press hybrid with a head reminiscent of a blunted woodworking tool one might use to make mortise joints, or square off a hole, or perhaps recess a hinge. What’s great about this cigar is it’s self cutting, a gentle squeeze pops the cap, which you peel away and it looks like you have it a cut with a brand new guillotine cutter.  This cigar fell somewhere between the La Aurora and La Palina cigars in terms of strength and complexity. It was solidly in the medium bodied range, with nice dark coffee flavors and great construction. I’ve been a fan of these guys from the beginning, they are innovative and make exceptional cigars. This one was a good 2 hour smoke, and the head of the cigar was much more comfortable in the mouth than a 57 ring cigar “in the round”.  this particular example had been in my humidor since the 2013 IPCPR show.  Interesting to note, I took a walk that was about two and a quarter miles, and when I got home I had about four inches left that I was able to enjoy in the porch. Seven inch cigars are a commitment.

 

I came across this article at Barron’s website today: Nanny Doesn’t Like Cigars which is well worth the read. There are a couple points that I think are off the mark though. I don’t think the Nannies want to do away with smoking because of the health issues, I’d say it costs more to keep people alive longer than it does to have them die early from smoking related disease. Consider people living for one third of their lives on social security, medicare, etc., has to be more expensive than “treating” tobacco related diseases.  Also, I think they are more concerned with seeing people doing something enjoyable, if it were just nicotine that is bad, I have no problem banning tomatoes and eggplant, both of which contain nicotine. I don’t like them, they must be banned. Sounds ridiculous, right? But it’s the same thing.  The government should worry about more important things than trying to put people out of business and regulate what we do with our free time. Down with the pleasure police! Everything in moderation, raise your children to know the difference between right and wrong, and join Cigar Rights of America!

 

Off of my soapbox and on with my Sunday. I may have to visit a shop for a smoke today as it’s cold, the wind has had it’s way with the plastic on the back porch…and it’s cold…Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

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Macanudo, Leccia, Tortuga and Montecristo Cigars

Macanudo Estate Reserve_NoIIISunday was supposed to be much warmer, in the 50s, but I don’t think it got out of the 40s. I still managed to get two cigar walks in. I started with a Macanudo. I know what you’re thinking, but this was the Estate Reserve no. III robusto from the 2013 IPCPR show. The Estate Reserve uses Dominican tobacco for the binder and filler, which is aged eight to ten years, and a proprietary wrapper leaf grown by a private grower in the Connecticut river valley. The cigar is silky smooth and loaded with clean, nutty flavor. I was struck by how slow this cigar burned. I smoked it well over 90 minutes, and it was even and never required any extra attention. I would almost go as far as saying it’s worth the hefty price tag, but I have trouble justifying any cigar that exceeds the $10 price point. I’m a cheap SOB.

 

LecciaWhite_RobustoI followed it after dinner with a Leccia White Robusto from last year. The big difference between this and the same sized Macanudo was the burn time. I barely got an hour from this rubusto. Granted, they were stored in different humidors but the difference was startling. It still was a tasty smoke. The African wrapper gives a nice flavor, and the Pennsylvania seco in the filler gives an interesting pop, even if it’s only the faintest hint. It’s a very tasty cigar and I hope it doesn’t change with the change of ownership. I prefer this over the Black, as I am not the fan of the fire cured tobacco that others are, but I like the Luchador even more, and that would have been my choice, but I only have two left. I’ve only smoked this in the robusto, I’ll have to try another size one of these days to see how it stacks up. Sam makes great cigars, I look forward to see what he does with the tobaccos available to him now at General.

 

TortugaReserva_ElCoyoteNegro_500Monday I smoked another Tortuga Coyote Negro No. 500, the cedar wrapped belicoso with the Brazilian Mata Fina Maduro wrapper. I had heard a lot from Victor over the last week or so, he appeared on The Cigar Authority (again!) and I understand he made an appearance on the local Cigar Time show that the guys at Cigar Cigars (a Southeast PA chain of 10 stores, one of which is two miles from home). which plays on a local cable access channel. It’s a pretty bad show, but it’s about cigars, so it gets points for that. Anyway, the Coyote Negro is a really tasty cigar that I’ve talked about a lot so I won’t spend much time on it except to say that if you can find anything from the Tortuga line buy it and smoke it, you won’t be sorry. This coming from one of the few Tortuga Appointed Cigar Blogs. :-)

 

Montecristo_Monte_CondeTuesday I selected a Montecristo Monte Conde, a 5 1/2 x 48 corona gorda (for want of a better size name) that came from my trip last year to the Rocky Mountain Cigar Festival. I don’t give Altadis quite enough exposure so I figured it was about time. This cigar burned well and the Ecuador Habano wrapper gave a nice flavor to to mostly Dominican cigar. There’s a Nicaraguan Corojo leaf used as half of the double binder. It started pretty mild, and built to a solid medium. I like the size, and it was a nice smoke. it had a cute little pigtail cap too. I will try to get to some other Altadis cigars as I come across them in the humidors. When the cabinet arrives I’m sure I’ll find some as I move cigars in, along with some other forgotten goodies.

 

That’s about it for today, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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