Some Padron Cigars from Holts

padron-88-natural-sampler_2 (photo courtesy of Holt's)The folks at Holt’s asked me to buy some Padron cigars from them, and helped me out a little with the purchase. this was a pit ironic considering the passing of Jose O. Padron last week.  I’ve smoked Padron cigars over the last 20 years, and it’s amazing how consistent they are. Twenty years ago they were one of the few Nicaraguan cigars, and for a while, if I remember correctly, they were made in both Nicaragua and Honduras. The Padron family can certainly be credited with popularizing Nicaraguan cigars. Over the years I’ve smoked everything from the 1964 Anniversary down to the fumas that were sold in Miami cafeterias, and I had the good fortune to smoke a Millenium just a couple of years ago, as well as having smoked one when they came out in 2000 (thanks Bruce!).

 

Padron_5000NI bought the Padron #88 Natural Sampler from Holt’s, and had it been a week later, I might have sprung for a couple of the 1926 line, which I’ve not had the opportunity to sample (largely due to my frugality. The #88 sampler is a great deal at $38.99, you get one each of the following:  #2000 Natural (5 x 50), #3000 Natural (5.5 x 52), #4000 Natural (6.5 x 54), #5000 Natural (5.5 x 56), and Anniversary 1964 Exclusivo Natural (5.5 x 50). I usually get the maduros, which is why I deviated from my usual course and got the natural wrapper versions. These come in a nice cardboard box, suitable for gift-giving!  This week I smoked the #5000, #3000 and #2000 and they were all spectacular. They have a dusty cocoa flavor along with a sweet tobacco. They aren’t the prettiest, some of the caps are a little shaky, but they had a nice box press and an effortless draw. I’ve been busy smoking newer cigars to the market, sometimes it’s good to go old school and get back to basics. It’s hard to go wrong with Padron cigars, and I really enjoyed smoking the three I smoked over the last few days.  Now I have to put some maduros in the humidor, sad to say I don’t have a lot.

 

Thanks to the folks at Holt’s for helping me out with the purchase of these great cigars (along with some others, they had free shipping over a certain dollar amount, and I’d much rather use the shipping money on cigars, and it wasn’t convenient for me to run into the city!). Take a look at their blog too, it’s got some good inside information from a retailer’s perspective. In other news, CigarCraig’s Secret Santa assignments went out last week and I’ve heard from two people who received goodies. Participants are encouraged to use the CigarCraig Facebook page to share their thank-yous to their Santas if they like, like Kevin did. Mine went out yesterday, as well as the hygrometer winner’s prize. Stay tuned for some more contests, ’tis the season!  Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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Smoking Contenders and the Contest Winner

It snowed in some unusual places in the US over the last few days, but it’s not that unusual here. Yesterday it snowed a few inches in PA, so I painted a room, and managed to smoke a cigar in between coats. Unfortunately, I also smoked an entire cigar while on the phone with a major retailer trying to work out a delivery issue. I suppose the cigar prevented me from losing my mind…anyway, I spent this week smoking though 2 Guy’s Smokeshop‘s Cigar of the year contenders pack that I bought while I was there a couple of weeks ago. Included in the pack were: Aladino, Eiroa First 20 Years Colorado, Luminosa by Crowned Heads, The Oscar Habano, Perla Del Mar Maduro, Vegas Cubanas, Wayfarer by Serino Cigars, and The Wiseman Maduro. These are all in robusto format, except for the Wideman Maduro which is in a corona size, and is on the schedule to smoke today. Being slightly CDO (which, as we know, is OCD in alphabetical order like it should be), I smoked them in the order they were listed on the insert in the box. 

 

AladinoAladino: this is from JRE Cigars, Julio and Justo Eiroa, father and brother of Chrsitian Eiroa. The cigar is authentic Corojo grown on the Eiroa’s farm in Honduras. This was a 5″x50 robusto and I was really quite happy smoking this cigar. It was a great start to the pack, and was my favorite so far 😀.

Eiroa First 20 Years ColoradoEiroa First 20 Years Colorado: CLE cigars is the company Christian Eiroa formed after selling Camacho to Davidoff. This cigar celebrates his twenty year anniversary in the cigar industry. This was a 5″x50 with a severe box press, and was a beautiful cigar. Christian worked with his father on this cigar, a Honduran puro.  Vastly different from the Aladino, didn’t do it for me, which is consistent with my feelings on most of Christian’s cigars now.  Funny, I loved the Camachos when he made them, CLE and Eiroa don’t seem to fit my tastes.

LuminosaLuminosa by Crowned Heads: I’m not normally a fan of Crowned Heads, but I am a fan of Ernesto Carillo, so this one was  little confusing. I enjoyed the cigar, it had an interesting flavor, but the look of the cigar was “bundle-ish”. The orange band made me think of the Don Jose bundles from the 90s. Preconceived notions aside, it was a pretty good smoke, but to me it was just another Ecuador Connecticut cigar. I’m absolutely mystified that this cigar doesn’t appear on the Crowned Heads website, but the guys at 2 Guys felt is was in the running for their cigar of the year.

OscarThe Oscar Habano: Another cigar from Honduras, this typically has a candela leaf outer sleeve, along the lines of the Leaf by Oscar. The candela leaf was absent on the Contenders samplers, I’d be very suspicious if Dave Garofalo came out with a new Candela cigar in the near future. I know he’s a fan of the green leaf (…that’s a joke, son). The Oscar has jumped to the front of the line for me. This was a solid cigar with great flavor and just a darned pleasure to smoke. I have a toro floating around the humidor I think, and have smoked the 6×60 and really enjoyed them, but, like I mentioned to Oscar Valladares when I met him in an Elevator in Vegas, I’m a fan of his work.

Perla del MarPerla Del Mar Maduro: this is a budget line from J.C.Newman, and it a nice smoke.  I like a maduro, and this is a good one, although maybe I’m becoming a snob, but it just didn’t have anything special enough to warrant COTY consideration. I wouldn’t pass one up, it’s a solid choice for someone who can’t or won’t spend a lot on a cigar. That said, I wasn’t left disappointed or unsatisfied.

Vegas Cubanas_InvictosYesterday I smoked the Vegas Cubanas and  Wayfarer Cigars. The Vegas Cubanas is an old brand from Don Pepin Garcia that was re-issued last year. It’s got a Corojo Rosado wrapper and Nicaraguan fillers. This is the cigar that prevented me from losing my cool on the phone with customer service. This was another Wayfarer by Serino Cigarsenjoyable cigar, the presentation is beautiful, and the cigar smoked well.  The Wayfarer is the latest from Serino Cigars. It’s blended to be similar in profile to the cigars out of Havana. I can see that to some extent. It was a 5″x52 robusto with an Ecuador Corojo wrapper. This is an interesting line in that they use some construction details that are reminiscent of the Cuban cigars. I enjoyed the cigar, although I like the cigars in the Serino Royale line better.

So that leaves us with The Wise Man maduro, which is the maduro version of the El Güegüense from Nick Mellilo’s Foundation Cigar Co. I smoked the Toro Huaco a couple of weeks ago and it was fantastic. I think, for me, it’s going to come down to this or the Oscar for my vote, not that my vote carries much weight. 2 Guys COTY is based in part by votes, but also in part by sales in their three stores and on-line.  I’ll be interested in hearing about the winner, which will be announced on The Cigar Authority. Will they get it right?

 

Contest!

Caliber 4RIt’s time to pick a winner of the Western Humidor Calibur 4 R digital hygrometer, courtesy of my friends at Cigar Oasis. I’m a little annoyed with myself, Chaim of Cigar Oasis gifted me a really nifty lighter in celebration of their anniversary, and it, along with my Xikar MTX scissors, were put someplace that I can’t remember! I rarely lose things, I know I packed it someplace for a trip and can’t figure where. Anyway, the winner of the hygrometer is Christopher Brose.  Please send me your address so I can ship this out! I need to get my Secret Santa packed up and shipped too! Thanks again to Cigar Oasis for the cool prize!  

 

That’s enough for today. Just so you know, the stuff about 2 Guys and their COTY and Cigar Authority are unsolicited. I bought their contenders pack with my own money and the opinions expressed are my own. Heck, none of the contenders are even advertisers. I’ve got no skin in the game, just thought it would be fun to see how my thoughts match up with theirs and throw them a bone!  Until the next time, 

 

CigarCraig

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Introduction to the Joys of the Premium Cigar – Padron 1964 Anniversary

I got distracted and forgot it was Wednesday, so I’m reproducing the first article I had published in Prime Living Magazine three years ago. I featured the Padron Padron1964 Anniversary Exclusivo Maduro, and, considering the recent passing of Jose O. Padron yesterday, I thought this would be appropriate. My sincere condolences to the Padron family on the passing of their patriarch, an impressive man by any standard.

 

Premium cigars are something I’ve grown to love over the last eighteen years. I see hand rolled cigars as an affordable luxury, a daily vacation, if you will, not something I need to have every day. Of course, these are more than just a bunch of leaves rolled up, and when you understand the time and artistry that goes into the cigar, it magnifies the appreciation. As I hold a favorite cigar in my hand, for instance, a Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Exclusivo from Nicaragua, I realize that the seeds for the leaves in this cigar were planted a minimum of three years ago!

 

In the short two or three months the plant takes to mature, it’s tended to by people in the fields. Over the course of about a month, the leaves are harvested by hand, carefully and meticulously from the bottom of the plant to the top. After the leaves are picked, they are hung in barns to cure, again, by hand. Once the leaves have turned brown in the barn, another one or two months, they are sorted and placed in piles, called pilons, where they ferment. The temperature in the middle of the pilon is monitored, and it’s rotated, by hand, perhaps several times over several months until the temperature stabilizes and the leaf has the desired color and texture. The leaves are re-sorted, always by size and color and baled up to be stored in a climate controlled warehouse for a year or more. It’s important to realize that, by this point, perhaps one hundred or more people have been involved in the process.

 

At some point in this whole process, some tobacco genius has figured out that somewhere between three and up to ten different tobaccos from all over the world, different places on the plants, and different levels of fermentation will taste good together. These tobaccos need to be rolled into cigars by skilled artisans, and it’s not as easy as you’d think. In the simplest terms, the roller has to take all the leaves in the cigar’s “recipe” and fold them in such a way that air may be drawn through the cigar, and the leaves are distributed evenly so every cigar tastes the same. Then he has to do this 150 to 300 times a day! AND, other rollers have to do it to! Box after box, year after year. When you think about it, it’s a miracle that cigars can be as affordable a luxury as they are.

 

At the beginning of this article I mentioned the Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Exclusivo, a 51⁄2” x 50 ring gauge cigar from Nicaragua. This is a cigar that can be counted on to always have bold flavors of coffee and cocoa, cigar after cigar, year after year. The company that makes these has been around for 50 years, and continues to produce exceptional cigars.They have a bunch of special editions besides this one (look for a 50th anniversary edition this year), and they continue to produce consistently great cigars which are a widely available and a good example of what a Nicaraguan cigar should be. Understanding the myriad steps involved in the manufacture of a hand rolled, premium cigar really enhances the pleasure and appreciation for me.

 

It’s important to understand that this article was written for a mainstream publication, it was meant as an introduction for those who may not be familiar with the art of the cigar. Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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AshStay News, a La Gloria Cubana Cigar and a Contest!

I was catching up on some podcast listening yesterday and happened across an episode of Stogie Geeks Podcast with Chaim Kohn of Cigar Oasis. I’ve known Chaim a long time, and he’s been a great supporter of my site, and I’m a fan of Cigar Oasis products. I use a Magna in my cabinet and an Excel in the little New Air, as well as Western Humidor hygrometers here and there.  I heard on the show where Cigar Oasis is distributing the AshStay cigar ashtray now. I’ve been using an AshStay for three years practically every day, and it works as advertised. I still won’t put it in the dishwasher or make my wife clean up after me (as portrayed in the company’s promotional video, which auto plays on their website, beware), but it manages the odor well, and has been a welcome addition to my smoking porch. Hopefully Cigar Oasis does well spreading the AshStay love.

 

Thursday I had a bad cigar day. I’m only going to speak in general terms about the cigars, but I get really annoyed when I draw through a cigar and get no smoke.  If I blow through it looks like I’m electing a Pope, but drawing gives nothing!  I have yet to figure out how this occurs, unless there’s a fold in the bunch that acts as a valve of sorts. The worst part off the evening was when I returned from my walk and put the poorly working cigar down and found a back up, it was plugged. I didn’t get any flavor from either (which could have been a result of drinking a blood orange ginger ale with dinner, but I can’t say for sure), and was left unfulfilled. It was a major bummer. So LaGloriaCubana_Colección Reserva_PresidenteFriday I cracked open the box of La Gloria Cubana Collecion Reserva Presidente that I bought at the event with Ernesto Carillo a month or so ago. I’ve smoked the robusto and belicoso in this line and love them, but this Presidente, a formidable 7½” x 54, was next level stuff. I had some buyers remorse, buying a box of such large cigars, but after smoking one, I am no longer regretting the purchase. While it started a little slow, it moved into the flavors I am familiar with from the smaller sizes, then, BANG, a sweet cinnamon candy flavor that made my day. It was short of Atomic Fireball cinnamon, more like the hard candies. I can’t say how much I enjoyed that cigar, especially after the previous evenings disappointments. It’s a good thing these are such large cigars, or I’d smoke through them quick. I’ve been high on the La Gloria Cubana Collecion Reserva since smoking the IPCPR show samples, and I’m a fan of the brand in general. It’s important to remember that this line is actually made at Ernesto’s factory and not General Cigars, La Gloria Cubana was his baby, after all. This cigar would receive a 99 on my rating scale if I used my rating scale.

 

 

Contest!

I had a couple other cigars I was going to talk about, the Emilio LJZ, and the Jas Sum Kral Red Knight, which were both very good, but I figured I’d get right to a giveaway instead. I had another giveaway lined up, but then as Caliber 4RI was typing this post, it occurred to me that it wasn’t a good fit, and will make more sense in a couple of weeks when I have my annual, scaled back, Christmas giveaways. What does make sense is to give away a great item from Cigar Oasis, a Calibur 4R Digital Hygrometer with a silver bezel. I have one of these, and would happily have deployed this one in one of my humidors, but I’ll be happier seeing someone else enjoy using it. This is a great looking unit as well as being very accurate and functional. It wouldn’t surprise me if a couple of cigars fell into the box when I ship it out, it’s been known to happen.  Usual rule apply, leave a comment on this post to enter and I’ll select the winner next Sunday, December 10, 2017.  Thanks to Chaim for providing this super-cool item! Stay tuned for more great giveaways coming soon, and I’ll be working on sending Secret Santa assignments out this week!  God Luck!

 

That’s all for today, I have to get a ceiling painted and maybe clean out the gutters now that the leaves have fallen.  I can’t believe it’s so close to the end of the year already…anyway, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

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Todos Las Dias Double Wide Belicoso and an Umbagog Cigar

A couple of weeks ago I smoked a Todos Las Dias from Steve Saka’s Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust in the Robusto size that Steve gave me at the IPCPR show after testing the internal humidity (video here), ironically the cigar smoked wetter than I’d like. I saw the promise, and was anxious to revisit the cigar. While I was at 2 Guys in New Hampshire last weekend I picked up a couple of the Double Wide Belicoso, the 4.75″x 60 figurado which is identical in size to the BelisJoya de Nicaragua Antaño Gran Consul and the Rosalones 460, using the same molds and made in the same factory. The Todos Las Dias (Steve’s Spanglish for “All the Days”) is a Nicaraguan puro, with a sungrown Nicaraguan wrapper, and fillers from Esteli and Jalapa. I’m sure I’m oversimplifying as I don’t have the farms and primings that Steve usually supplies. So, I did something I don’t usually do this week and smoked the two Double Wide Belicosos I brought back from New Hampshire.

 

TodosLaDias_DoubleWideBelicosoLet me preface what I’m about to say with this: Saka has been telling me for years that his cigars aren’t for everyone and he’d rather make cigars that some people love than something everyone likes, or something like that. I found that I wasn’t getting this cigar, which is why I’m smoked two. It’s got some strength, that’s for sure, but I found it more on the savory side, lacking the sweetness I like in a cigar. I missed the dark chocolate and chili pepper that I should’ve  gotten, per the info from Dunbarton. The burn was great, and I smoked it to a nub, and didn’t feel any effects of the strength. I still have a couple more in the humidor that I look forward to smoking in a few months. Perhaps I’ve finally found one of Steve’s cigars I don’t love. I’ve loved his other offerings, perhaps my expectations were too high? Just because I didn’t love it doesn’t mean others won’t

 

UmbagogTonight I went for a cigar I do love, the Umbagog Corona Gorda, the 6″x48, which is the ugly sibling of the Mi Querida Fino Larga. The Umbagog uses the same Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper as the Mi Querida that Steve deems too unattractive to use on that line. I don’t know what he’s looking at, there was not a damn thing wrong with it. Certainly it’s a hearty leaf, and the fillers may not be exactly the same as the Mi Querida, which I smoked and enjoyed last week. The Umbagog smoked great, it was exactly what I like in a cigar, rich, sweet and well-behaved. Since these are fairly limited due to production being predicated on wrapper being the rejects of the more expensive line, and costing the same, if Steve lowered his standards they would be even more scarce. He won’t lower his standards though. The Umbagog, like the Mi Querida, is one of my favorite cigars.

 

Here’s a couple of links to check out when you get a chance:

https://cigarsforbeginners.famous-smoke.com/

https://www.holts.com/clubhouse/

 

There’s only a few days left to get in on the CigarCraig.com Secret Santa exchange. We need an even number so I can jump in! Email me your name and address!

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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