A Room 101 Event and a Cavalier Geneva White Series Cigar

CI_DowntownSunday I had mentioned that we were going to Cigars International‘s Downtown Bethlehem store where Matt Booth was having a Room 101 event. We got there (it’s about an hour and a half drive), to find out there was a Celtic festival going on, making it difficult to find a place to park!  After driving around for another thirty minutes we finely found a place to park and made our way to the store. The Downtown store is a a small shop with a couple of chairs but a rather large selection. Fortunately, it was a nice day, and they had tables and chairs on the sidewalk. There was a lot of foot traffic, mostly oddly costumed folks in kilts and whatnot. They even had Celtic music playing on street side Room101_BigPayback_CT_Huesospeakers. And then there was Matt Booth. This was a cool event, as there weren’t lines of people there for the event, so there was a lot of good one on one time with Matt. He even had his attorney there, which, if you follow him on social media, is what he calls his young son, who is about as cute as can be. I bought a hand full of cigars and lit up a Room 101 Big Payback Connecticut Hueso, the 6″ x 60 gordo in the line. This was a very good cigar, and to my surprise, Matt was smoking one as well, in the robusto size, and said that it’s his recent go-to cigar. It was a nice, smooth and very flavorful cigar, quite a nice smoke for a beautiful afternoon in good company. I had gotten some of the Nicaraguan wrapped Big Paybacks too and almost regretted not getting more of the Connecticut, although I like the original Big Payback as well.  If you ever have occasion to spend some time with Matt Booth, jump on it, he’s one of the more interesting gentlemen in the cigar industry!

 

Room101_UncleLee_RanflaWhen I got home I lit up a  Room 101 Uncle Lee, a cigar Matt made to pay tribute to his uncle who introduced him to cigars. I only bought a couple of these as they only had a couple left, I would have bought a 10 count box if they hadn’t already sold out. The Uncle Lee is only made in the Ranfla size, the 6½ x 50 perfecto size that you find in Room 101’s Johnny Tobbaconaut line, the new Chief Cool Arrow, and the Namakubi line. This was a really interesting cigar with an Ecuador Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan Corojo binder and Honduran and Dominican Corojo fillers, so lots of Corojo. There was a flavor sensation akin to mint that wound it’s way through the smoke. This was a really nice cigar, I enjoyed the crap out of it, and may have to pick up a box. Matt mentioned that CI bought the remaining inventory, so they might be the only game in town for that cigar.  It was a really nice cigar day.

Room101_UncleLee

Cavalier of Geneva_WhiteSeries_DiplomateLast night I went into the IPCPR sample humidor and pulled out an interesting cigar from a booth we just happened upon on our last day at the show. Cavalier of Geneva is a Swiss cigar company, and their cigars feature a 24 carat gold diamond on the wrapper. I smoked the Cavalier of Geneva White Series Diplomate, a 5½ x 56 with a pigtail cap. the cigars feature a five country blend, Habano wrapper,  Connecticut binder and fillers from Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and Paraguay. The cigar was a nice, well-balanced smoke, on the milder side in strength, but medium in flavor. It burned well, and the gold embellishment on the wrapper had no effect in flavor or burn, but it was kind of neat to watch it burn. These were supposed to be available in the US as of August 1, and are being distributed by Dallas Texas-based CigarArt. I’m very interested in trying the maduro in this line, and I should have smoked it tonight, but, for whatever reason, I decided against it. The San Andrés Negra wrapper over Arapiraca binder sounds quite intriguing.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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Foundry, Montecristo, Civil Disobedience and Matilde Cigars from IPCPR

Foundry_Time Flies_550Earlier this week the news came out that Michael Giannini, the creative director and General Cigar, and the mastermind behind the Foundry cigar line, had left the company after 17 years. I met Michael back in 2010 at the IPCPR show, when got to spend a few days with him at the factory in the Dominican Republic which was really educational.  He’s one of my favorite people in the business, and it’s hard to imagine General Cigar without him.  So to honor him on Thursday I broke out the IPCPR samples and lit up the new offering from Foundry Tobacco Co., and a cigar Michael worked on with AJ Fernandez, the new Foundry Time Flies. The samples provided are robustos, 5″ x 50, and has an Ecuador Habano wrapper, and binder and fillers from Nicaragua’s Quilali region, cultivated by AJ Fernandez and his  farmers collective. Quilali is about halfway between Esteli and Jalapa, I looked it up as I hadn’t heard of it before (still haven’t TimeFlies Boxesfound the famed Jalapeño Valley yet). I dare say, this cigar was the best cigar of the week. It was just what I have been enjoying in cigars recently, smooth, a little sweet, not too strong with some interesting spice flavors. The branding on this is interesting, it features a stylized skull on a prism kind of band, and the boxes are another example of something I noticed at the trade show, bright colors. Each size s in a different colored box, and the are not subtle colors. It’s a very well made, great tasting cigar.

 

Montecristo_PiloticoPepeMendez_toroAnother IPCPR sample was a new one from Montecristo, the Montecristo Pilotico Pepe Mendez in the Toro size. This toro is a 6¼” x 52, and has an Ecuador Sumatra wrapper, Dominican binder, and both Nicaraguan and Dominican Pilotico fillers. The Pilotico varietal is an old seed that Pepe Mendez brought from Cuba in the ’60s and revitalized in the Cibao Valley in the DR. There was some of  this tobacco in the Montecristo 80th anniversary cigar that was out last year. It was hard to find anything bad to say about this cigar, it burned right, it had nice flavors along the leathery lines, with a hint of sweetness. It’s one of those cigars that is, no doubt, I very good cigar, but not in line with my preferred flavors. There are a few Montecristos I really like, most on the mild end of the spectrum. The box is cool with an old-timey suitcase motif, paying homage to Pepe Mendez’ traverls in the 60s to find the right area to plant his prized seeds.

 

MoyaRuiz_Civil DisobedienceSaturday afternoon I sat down with a Moya Ruiz Civil Disobedience. While they had this cigar at the IPCPR show, and have moved it from “event only” to regular production, this sample came to me through the generosity of a gentleman named Dave Payne. I met Dave at the show in July, he has a PR firm, but I first started corresponding with him when he had a cigar blog called The Cigar Sage. We had started around the same time, and compared notes from time to time. Dave was kind enough to send me some goodies that I didn’t have access to, and I am overdue in returning his generosity. Anyway, this is another well made cigar from the La Zona factory, with an Ecuador Habano wrapper and Nicaraguan filler and binder. It’s only available in a 5″ x 50 robusto, and proceeds from the sales goes to Cigar Rights of America. Once again, it’s a great smoke from La Zona, with that leathery profile that isn’t particularly my favorite, but it certainly wasn’t offensive. I was more in awe of the perfect burn and draw than that flavor. This is another cigar that did “wow” me, but was still very good, and I appreciate Dave sharing it with me. There are a couple more he sent that will be featured here in the very near future. I need to get to work on that reciprocal package!

 

Matilde_RenacerQuadrata_TorpedoSaturday evening i sat down with one more IPCPR sample, the Matilde Renacer Quadrata, a box pressed  6″ x 52 torpedo.  I first sampled the Matilde Renacer after it was released, and had some issues with the burn on the samples I had, they had a core of tobacco that refused to burn, making smoking it a very messy affair (especially in the car!). I didn’t get a very good feel for the cigar which I really wanted to like. However, when I finally got around to smoking the Matilde Oscura, I thought it was fantastic, right in my wheelhouse. All that being said, I was looking forward to smoking this new box pressed iteration of the original Renacer blend. I’m happy to report that this box pressed torpedo had none of the burn problems I initially experienced and was a really god cigar. I still lean toward the Osucura in this brand (heavily), but the Quadrata is a really good smoke. Jose Seijas and his son Enrique are outstanding people, and they make some darned good cigars.

 

That’s enough for now, my wife is pressuring me to get out the door to go up to Cigars International’s Downtown Bethlehem store for the afternoon, so I better get moving! Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

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La Flor Dominicana Event at CigarCigars in Frazer, PA

LFD EventMonday evening I stopped by my local CigarCigars shop which is only about two miles from home.  This shop usually has early events, typically from noon to three on a weekday, making it hard for those of us with day jobs to attend. Steve does a fine job of running this shop, which is a free-standing former convenience store.  They were having a La Flor Dominicana event and were staying open later than usual for the Eagles NFL game. I picked up a handful of LFDs, which I typically enjoy. I opted for some cigars I hadn’t smoked yet, a few of the 6″ x 64 LFD Ligero L- Granú, and some of the 4½” x 60 LDF L-GranuDouble Ligero DL660. Since free samples is a thing of the past, I did receive one of LFDs event only toros with the $10 I paid to attend the event, which also took $10 off my purchase. It worked out to be a good deal.  Kyle, the local LFD rep was there and gave an excellent video presentation in the lounge,  which is a Montecristo lounge and is quite comfortable. The video, and Kyle’s talk along with it, told the story of how cigars are made, and the care and dedication that goes into them. I’m a little jaded, of course, but it’s always fun seeing others who haven’t had the privileges I’ve enjoyed learning about all the work and time that goes into these tubes of tobacco we love so much. I’ll admit to being critical of some of the stores in the CigarCigars chain, which has 10 or 12 stores in the area, with six within about 10 miles of home, but the Frazer store ain’t bad, I just wish they’d have more evening events!

 

LaFlorDominicana_Ligero_L- GranuWhile there I smoked one of the L- Granús, and I smoked another one tonight. This is a big cigar, as I mentioned, it’s 6″ x  64 and comes in a huge box of 100 cigars. While I don’t see dropping $800 on a box, these are a tasty smoke with a lot of strength. I thought the larger ring gauge would temper the blend, but on both occasions I had to put the cigar down with an inch and a half to go (a reasonable time to put a cigar down, but I tend to go a little farther) because it was LaFlorDominicana_DoubleLigero_DL660starting to get to me!  Not a lot of cigars do that to me anymore.  The draw was fairly open, but the smoke production could have been better. Still, a tasty treat that smoked for a good two hours on both occasions.  Last night I smoked the 4½x 60 Double Ligero DL660 (shouldnt it be a 460?), which was also a heavy smoke, although it didn’t get to me like the L-Granu. Perhaps the shorter format was a little more nicotine friendly, despite it being the heavier Double Ligero blend.  It can’t be a bad week when it starts off smoking La Flor Dominicanas, I’ve been a fan of these for twenty years, they are almost always a special occasion.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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A Bobalu Oscuro, a New Nestor Miranda Cigar and an Oliveros All Stars

Bobalu_Oscuro_GordoAfter the crazy first half of the week, I settled down a bit. I actually took Thursday off as we went up to Bethlehem PA to see the new movie “Eight Days A Week”. It was a very good documentary about The Beatles touring years, you can read my wife’s review on her blog Beatles-Freak’s Reviews . Friday evening’s cigar was another cigar from the selection I picked up from Bobalu Cigars. This cigar was from the Oscuro line which features a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper,  Nicaraguan Ligero, Honduran Criollo  98 and Dominican Piloto and  Olor.  You can imagine what my expectations were for this one. This is a good example of how expectations can lead to disappointment. I got these in the Gordo size, because they only come in robusto and Gordo and I have too damn many robustos in my humidors.  The cigar was well made, but instead of the heavy, coffee/cocoa flavor I expected, I got more of a medium sour flavor. It was a good cigar, I smoked it for a good two hours, but the sour flavor isn’t one I particularly enjoy. There were plenty of good points, and certainly there are people who appreciate the flavors in that cigar more than I do. I remain amazed that a factory in Austin, Texas is cranking out handmade cigars of excellent quality for a reasonable price. It’s a place I must visit one day when I finally make that Texas visit I need to make. Bobalu is still offering a special deal for my readers, click here to check that out.

 

Nestor Miranda Collection_Corojo_RobustoYesterday was a three cigar day. I started off in the afternoon, after getting some things done around the house and yard, with a new line extension to the Nestor Miranda Collection, the Corojo in the 4½ x 50 robusto size. In the past I’ve really enjoyed the Nestor Miranda Collection in this size, the Connecticut, Maduro and Habano are all exceptional, and this Corojo is a great addition to the portfolio. I was blown away by the abundance of a cinnamon spice quality throughout the cigar, it was quite delicious. I think the most memorable cigars I’ve smoked from the trade show for me this year have been cigars with unique flavors that I don’t often get in a  cigar, which is what makes them memorable.  There was another one, but I can’t remember it :-). I highly recommend trying the Nestor Miranda Collection, and especially this new Corojo.  One minor complaint: Miami Cigar and Co. desperately needs to update their website!

 

Oliveros_AllStars_BassoI moved on to another trade show sample, the Oliveros Allstars Small Batch No. 5 Basso. Thankfully, Aging Room Cigar’s website IS up to date, as I had forgotten the story behind this cigar from the show, there was a lot of information given at once and the info on this one slipped through the ever-widening cracks. Oliveros All Stars is a collaboration between Rafael Nodal and Ernesto P. Carillo, it’s got a dark US grown broadleaf wrapper and Dominican fillers. The Basso is a 6″ x 54 toro (remember when Toros were 6″ x 50?) and they also have the Aria at 4½ x 48, the Fugue at  5½ x 52 and the Chord at 6½ x 52 Torpedo. The naming conventions are consistent with Rafael’s Music background. This is the sort of flavors I look for in a broadleaf cigar! It was dark and lush with the heavy espresso flavors I like, with some cocoa sweetness. It was a wonderful smoke. Collaborations are a funny thing in the cigar world, some say that the rarely work, I’ve had pretty good luck smoking collaborative efforts, but I think this one was a “win”. As an old friend came over for a while, I finished off the evening with a Last Call from AJ Fernandez, which seemed appropriate as it was getting late and was the last cigar of the day. Having just finished a fairly powerful cigar, I had low hopes for this cigar, it had some foot damage and looked bad in the humidor, so this was a perfect occasion to get rid of it in a humane way.  About a quarter of the way in I couple really taste the wonderful flavors that this little cigar offers, and I was sad when it became too short to smoke any longer. I can’ wait to try the maduro version, although the Habano is fantastic.

 

Just Bitching…

 

Here’s a couple quick gripes about things I hear on podcasts that annoy me, stupid things, but things, and I’m naming names! On the Kiss My Ash podcast, they have a couple of commercials that bug me. First is a Joya de Nicaragua commercial that claims that the Quatro Cinco Reserva has tobacco from the Jalapeño valley, and I don’t know of a Jalapeño Valley in Nicaragua. Another is an ad that mentions what sounds to me like they are saying “Cigar Aprecianado” instead of Aficionado. may that one’s just me, my hearing isn’t great. I still love the KMA folks, it’s one of the podcasts I look forward to all week. The last one for today is from CigarDave‘s show last Saturday, where, in an attempt to be patriotic, he played one of the worst renditions of our nations national anthem I’ve ever heard. Admittedly, I’m a purist when it comes to the National Anthem, I don’t believe it should be embellished or artistically interpreted at all, just performed straight, as written. Nothing annoys me more than a performer adding his or her own spin to our nations anthem. That’s my opinion, I cringe when I hear poorly performed anthems, and that’s just the way it is. I was also in the car driving when I listened to CigarDave, and I didn’t feel like I need to stand, as what I was listening to was  barely the piece of music that represents our nation. CigarDave, I’m deeply disappointed in that selection. Again, my opinion, I’m open to any criticism.

 

That’s about all I have for today, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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Psyko Seven Psunday and Insane Cigars

A few months ago my wife entered a contest on Best Cigar Prices Facebook page and managed to win a box of Psyko7Psyko Seven Tubos and a Psyko Seven Humidor. I’ve mentioned the humidor before, I’m impressed with this budget friendly box, it’s large, it holds humidity well, and it’s not unattractive. It came in very handy as a place for IPCPR samples so I can keep them segregated and not forget where they came from! By the way, since I know people at Best Cigar Prices, I checked and everything was above-board and my wife truly won this random drawing. I, personally refrain from entering contests, I prefer to have contests. We figured we’d have another herf at PsykoSeven_Toro_tubothe house to share some of the Psyko Seven Tubos, but I guess it wasn’t a great night to do it as we had one guest, my friend Mike, who is a local reader and I met because he won one of the days of last year’s 12 Spectacular Days of Cigar Giveaways. To those who couldn’t make it, we missed you. Mike and I spent a couple of hours enjoying these fine cigars from Ventura Cigar Company, made at the Kelner Boutique factory in the Dominican Republic.  These are wrapped in a Dominican wrapper, and they boast a six country blend, including Peruvian and Pennsylvanian tobaccos, as well as Mexican, Honduran and Nicaraguan. I found this to be a nice, mild, complex cigar, with a nice burn. It was a very nice smoke. Mike had this to say: I enjoyed this cigar! The Psyko Seven Toro Tubo was the perfect cigar for a two-hour conversation with Craig. It was a well-made, even-burning mild stick that offered some nice, sweet flavors, while not getting in my face with too much power. While I did not pick up on any specific and easily identifiable flavors, I did like the overall taste and smoked it down to the nub. Would definitely smoke another one!”  It was a tasty cigar, made better by good company. Thanks to the folks at Best Cigar Prices for the contest, Mike for joining me, and my wife for winning and sharing the cigars and humidor with me!

 

I felt a theme week with the Psyko Sevens, so I had an Asylum Premium short torpedo that was in the humidor for a while and was very good. I actually couldn’t find this size listed anywhere, so maybe I’ve had it in the humidor for a couple years.  Monday I went with another Asylum, the Famous Smoke Shop Exclusive Asylum Lobotomy in the toro size. I really enjoy this cigar, it’s on the stronger side, and loaded with deep, dark, lush flavor. Nicely priced under $5 too.  I went Psyko again last night with the Psyko Seven MADuro in the robusto size.  This is another Kelner made cigar with a San Andrés wrapper.  Fantastic smoke with the same filler blend as the natural version, and equally as complex, with more power and sweetness. Tonight I went nuts with an Asylum Straight Jacket, the top of the line Asylum.  I won an auction for a box (10) of these a few years back, and haven’t smoked one in a while. I forgot how really great these cigar are. Really good tasting, and good to a very small nub. Its a shame these were robustos as I was sad when it started to burn my fingers.

Asylum_Premium BelicosoIMG_3751IMG_3755 (Edited)Asylum_Straightjacket_Robusto

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a crazy week, and I smoked some insanely good cigars.  I wonder what I should smoke for the rest of the week?  Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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