Last week I alluded to some big personal news, and that is that I am changing day jobs after thirteen years. I was presented with a new opportunity closer to home and have been ready to make a change for some time. I’ve been patiently waiting for the right thing to come along and I think it did. So I’ve been celebrating all week, pretty much smoking for pleasure and not paying too much attention! There were a few standouts though, gives me something to talk about today. Back in January I met up with Dean Parsons of Epic Cigars at an event in Philadelphia, on the eve of the big snowstorm of the year. Dean and his local sales rep and right hand man, Mick, gave me a pre-release sample of the new Connecticut cigar they were releasing. I had been waiting for the right time to smoke this cigar, and now that the La Rubia, which this cigar is now called, is out, I figured I may have missed the time. Like all the cigars in the Epic line, this Connecticut is pretty awesome. It’s got a lot of flavor and is in the medium bodied range. It’s got the signature nutty kind of Connecticut shade twang that one would expect, but there’s some depth there too. This cigar was a toro size and smoked perfectly. I now have a La Rubia from regular production in a 4½ x 60 size, which is an interesting story. From what I understand, Alec Bradley, who distributes Epic in Canada, told Dean this was a size that goes over big in the Great White North. I never imagined this, and if any of our Canadian readers could elaborate, I’d appreciate it. The only think I can think of is that, like in the US, the 60 ring gauge represents a greater value, but in the frozen tundra, a 6″ x 60 takes too long to smoke. Of course, I kid, I know they have at least one reasonably warm month in Canada. I am a fan of the 4½ x 60 size.
I’m going out-of-order today for some reason, but it’s the Memorial Day holiday weekend, so I don’t feel like going back and fixing things. I smoked a Ratzilla from Drew Estate’s Liga Privada Serie Unico line last Sunday Evening. I’m not sure what I was expecting with this cigar. Is it a longer Dirty Rat? Is it a bolder Dirty Rat? Is it a Dirty Rat that was exposed to nuclear bomb testing fallout and mutated to ridiculous proportions and terrorizes Tokyo? It’s different from the Dirty Rat. For one thing, it’s 6¼” x 46, it has the same Connecticut Stalk Cut & Cured Sun Grown Habano Wrapper, a Plantation Grown Brazilian Mata Fina Binder, and Nicaraguan and Honduran Fillers, which is the same as the Dirty Rat. I think is was stronger, and perhaps more one-dimensional. It was a great cigar in its own right, perhaps trying to compare it to the Dirty Rat is the mistake. They recently made these kind of regular release to the Drew Diplomat Retailers, so they might be easier to find than the unicorn Ratzillas of a few years ago. Overall, I liked it, it was full of flavor and a little on the strong side.
Friday evening, we took a ride down to the Wooden Indian where they were having an Epic Event, with Dean and Mick. As I mentioned, I really like the Epic line, the Maduro is one of the cigars that I would grab when I want a great cigar, and there are really no cigars in the line that I don’t enjoy, not a normal occurrence. Dean’s a great guy to talk to. He can talk cigars, of course, but he can also talk hockey (he’s Canadian and played professionally) and motorcycles. I picked up some more Epic cigars while there, including some more of the Maduro Lanceros. Interestingly, The Wooden Indian sells more Epic Lanceros than anyone else. Did I mention that I really like the Epic Maduro? The size doesn’t really matter to me, although the lancero is quite different from the gordo in the ways you’d expect. The gordo has more rounded flavor and the lancero is more sharp and focused. They have a nice cocoa/coffee flavor. Why am I comparing these? I smoked the lancero at the event, and I’ll quite likely, smoke the gordo or a toro today sometime. Obviously, the lancero vs. gordo comparison is a generality and not specific to Epic. In talking to Dean, I found it pretty amazing that his brand is getting traction in Europe, but he has trouble getting into shops in the US. I would suggest that if your local shop doesn’t have then, request them! These are a must try and very high on my list. One more interesting note on the cigar pictured. The secondary band was supposed to be a much smaller size, so these are a bit of a collectors item! I think I have about three different band configurations on the maduro lanceros I have. The Wooden Indian continues to be the best shop in the area and my favorite. Dave and his staff are numero uno in my book and they always have great events.
Yesterday, after pressure washing the smoking porch in preparation for some new paint and carpet, and general running around through the day, I came across a cigar I picked up lat year at a cigar event. I had finally met Paul Bush from Flatbed Cigar Co., which is located right here in south-eastern, PA, and bought some of his cigars. I’ve seen the Panacea brand for years and never got around to smoking any, and the few I smoked that I bought at the event at Goose’s shop last year didn’t really do anything for me, but I still had one left, one interestingly named “Pennsyltucky”. This is a term I’ve used for years, it describes the area in Pennsylvania between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, which is largely rural. I guess it’s not very flattering to Kentucky, but the rural areas in PA are very different from the urban and suburban areas. Back to the cigar. This is a 5″ x 60 with a mottled PA Broadleaf wrapper. It has a Dominican Habano binder and three ligeros in the filler, Piloto Cubano, Olor Dominicano, and Kentucky Fire Cured. In this case, I think the name refers to the inclusion of the Pennsylvania and Kentucky tobaccos used in the blend. The fire cured tobacco is very subtle, it’s not the overwhelming smoking flavor that some cigar using this leaf have. It’s got some strength to it, and good tobacco flavor throughout. I would keep some of these on hand just because of the name, I think, and it’s a good smoke.
Don’t forget to go enter the IPCPR’s contest to win a trip to the show in Vegas. As I was registering for my badges for the show this morning, I noticed that they still have a strong warning on the site about consumers at the show, however they have this contest, and changed the number of attendees per member from two to three. I’d still be happy to meet one of my readers there and hang out. Also, stay tuned for another contest this week from me. I have something a little special in mind that I think people will like, and I am working on a Father’s Day contest soon too. Lots going on with contests, new jobs, holidays (happy Memorial Day, thanks to all who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice so that I can do something as stupid as writing about cigars, isn’t it crazy that a government agency is taking away the very rights that American soldiers died to protect? Think about that for a minute!). That’s all for now, until the next time,
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