Category Archives: Accessories

IPCPR 2017 – Island Lifestyle and Tommy Bahama Booth

I’ll be filtering out my IPCPR coverage over the next few months, mostly as I smoke relevant cigars. I’ve done this every year and am in no hurry, honestly.  It’s what I do. There were several media outlets that knocked themselves out to provide in-depth coverage, check out Cigar Federation, Cigar-Coop/Smooth Draws, Developing Palates, The Cigar Authority, Blind Man’s Puff, Halfwheel, Cigar Weekly, and several others I can’t bring to mind at the moment.  All these folks were killing it on the show floor and are great sources of information.  I do things my way, and I’m good with that. I don’t see writing a blog as any kind of competition, not that I don’t take some pride in what I do (I must say that the Saka video was GOLD! I’m pretty pleased that I was able to present that unique piece of information). Everybody does their unique take on the show, which keeps things interesting.


Island Lifestyle1The first stop for me at the show last Tuesday was the Island Lifestyle Importers booth, which won best in show at last year’s IPCPR. Obviously I’ve enjoyed a great relationship via e-mail with Ryan Frailing and his team, and was looking forward to finally meeting them face to face. I like the cigars they are producing under the Island Lifestyle brand, and the accessories they produce under the Island Lifestyle2Tommy Bahama brand are of excellent quality. In addition to being available at Tommy Bahama stores (I LOVE seeing quality cigar products in mainstream stores!), they are available in various cigar stores around the country. The styles will vary by outlet, the Regatta and Cigar Club styles are really sharp, there’s a style that should appeal to everyone. There’s even a golf themed collection with a Island Lifestyle3dimpled finish. The cigars are being rolled out in several new sizes, adding Robusto, Churchill and 6″ x 60 to the Toro in Connecticut, Sungrown and Maduro.  I tried to get the factory out of Ryan, but he wasn’t disclosing anything. They are boxed and in ceramic humidor jars that are stunning. I somehow failed to get a photo of the jars (you can see them on their website), but Island Lifestyle4they are awful nice, black for the Connecticut, Orange for the Sungrown and White for the Maduro. Collectors pieces and the cigars are very tasty!  I smoked a Sungrown Toro at the booth, and I was still smoking it two hours later and it still tasted great. If it sounds like I’m pretty high on this companies brands, it’s because I am and I wasn’t alone as they reported later in the show that they were very busy and made a lot of sales. In addition to the time I spend talking to Ryan in the booth (video below), I had a great conversation with Rick and Phil at the hotel bar after hours on Wednesday. Great bunch of guys with a great selection of products. There were a couple highlights of the week for me personally, and meeting this crew was one of them. Check out the video, it’s raw and unedited, but full of information about the products.

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




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IPCPR 2017 – Cigar Oasis Booth


I’ve been here in Las Vegas since Monday and have seen many friends and made some new ones.  The venue is the Las Vegas Convention Center, a different location than in the past.  It’s only a couple blocks off the strip, but has a totally different feel  the exhibit space is larger, so it seems more sparsely attended, but many booths seemed busy and it remains to be seen if attendance is down or just more spread out. More on all that later.  I attended several media events, Mambacho Cigars hosted an amazing party at a private residence, Davidoff and Ventura had media briefings in their booths during the show, and I’m heading to a Drew Estate media event tonight. There still seems to be new releases like crazy, in the coming weeks I’ll be closely examining some of them. In the mean time, I paid a visit to the Cigar Oasis booth this morning and took the video below, featuring Chaim Kohn telling us about their offerings and about their celebration of their 20th Anniversary.



I tried some YouTube live videos yesterday that are available on my YouTube Channel. Today it didn’t want to work so I didn’t do it live, but did post videos as soon as I was done. They are raw and unedited. More to come.  That’s all for now, until the next time.





Filed under Accessories, IPCPR, Video

Villiger 1888, La Gloria Cubana, Inca Secret Blend and More Tommy Bahama Accessories

Villiger_1888_RobustoTrying to get back into the swing of things after the holidays still, and with the remodeling going on in the house, my cabinet humidor has been a little hard to get into without moving furniture. Fortunately, there are other humidors around that I can get to, so I’ve been grabbing cigars out of those. One of the cigars I selected this week was a new Villiger 1888 robusto, re-issued this year in new packaging. This was originally released in 2009 and was the first handmade, premium cigar that  had the Villiger name. This one has an Ecuadoran wrapper, Mexican binder and Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers made in the DR. I found it to be a well made, flavorful cigar, which burned well. It had a bit of sweetness and a floral component and was on the mild side.  I liked this cigar.


La-Gloria_Serie-R_Esteli_Maduro_cigarI have one desktop humidor that just contains La Gloria Cubana and Foundry cigars, which was accessible. I’ve been smoking La Gloria Cubana cigars for twenty years, but the Serie R Esteli blends that have come out in the last couple years are my favorites, so finding the new La Gloria Cubana SErie R Esteli Maduro No. 54 right on top didn’t bother me at all.  This cigar has a dark Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and fillers. As General Cigar has done with several lines, they have a brick and mortar version, the Esteli, and the catalog version, the black. With the original Serie R Esteli and Black having a Nicaraguan Jalapa wrapper, I thought the Esteli version had a deeper, more satisfying flavor, but the Maduro varieties I think are on a par with one another. The Esteli Maduro is rich, sweet and a very nice cigar.  I’m a maduro fan, but I love both varieties of the Serie R Esteli. Funny, I was never a huge fan of the regular Dominican Serie R, which was one of the original large ring gauge lines in the late ’90s.


IncaSecretBlend_MonumentoTonight I selected an Inca Secret Blend in the new Monumento shape, which is a classic 6″ x 52 torpedo. The Inca Secret Blend is the US market version of the Inka Secret Blend that was an exclusive to the UK market through Mitchell Orchant’s C-Gars Ltd.  The cigar is a Peruvian Puro, manufactured at Tabacalera del Oriente in Tarapoto, Peru. Gennaro Lettieri is the owner of the factory, and I’ve met him several times. I’ve told this story before, but I recall sitting outside the Casa Fuente in Vegas with Mitchell and Genaro in 2013 while they sampled test blends, which were all horribly plugged leaving ashtrays filled with cigars that had been smoked less than an inch. It wasn’t until the next year that I had the chance to sample the finished product, which came in a toro and 6×60 size initially. This year they released the torpedo, robusto and a 6″ x 40. I love cigars with Peruvian tobacco in the blend, and the Peruvian puro is surprisingly good. It’s on the mild side, and reminiscent of a milder Havana, with a sweet little twang, not surprising since one of the creators of the cigar has lived on a steady diet of Havanas for most of his life.


Tommy Bahama 4I’ve been taking a break from using my trusty Xikar tools for the last few weeks and using some of the Tommy Bahama line of lighters and cutter. Both lighters have detailed, embossed logos on both sides and the cutter has the Tommy Marlin design on one side, and the side with the switch to open the spring-loaded blades just has Tommy Bahama name and a little gold marlin.  These have a very classy gloss black finish. The cutter and pocket lighter have leatherish cases to keep them in good shape. the cutter has two very sharp blades which close effortlessly and provide a clean cut. It’s got some weight to it, and seems solidly built. The pocket lighter is also hefty, larger and heavier than the Xikar Xidris Ive been using, with a similar side trigger, but has two jets. Tommy Bahama 5This is the first dual jet lighter I’ve had, and I like it. Is it twice as good as one?  I don’t know, but it does a nice job and lights every time. It has an adjustment wheel on the bottom with a  flip-up turny thing. I filled it a week ago and it’s still ¾ full, which I can tell because there’s a handy little window which is very easy to see the fuel level. The table lighter is a beast, it’s  large, has four jets and twin side triggers. It really throws off some BTUs, I think I mentioned that holding it about six inches from the foot of the cigar looks like the foot of the cigar is re-entering the earth’s atmosphere like an Apollo capsule. The one thing it lacks is the fuel window, but I suppose the idea is that it doesn’t wander too far away from the can of butane, it being far too large to carry around. The folks at Island Lifestyle tell me these are becoming available in stores other than the Tommy Bahama stores, they are working on getting them into brick and mortar retailers. It’s nice to have good tools, and I think these are pretty good out of the box, I’ll keep using them to see how they hold up over time.


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






Filed under Accessories, Review

A Padilla, a Gurkha, an Alec Bradley and Cigar Box Speakers

Padilla_VintageReserve_BoxPressedPerfectoGetting back in the swing of things here, and rooting through the IPCPR samples for some interesting cigars to smoke. I decided that one cigar that I had been looking forward to smoking was ready to go, the Padilla Vintage Reserve in a 6″ x 50ish  box pressed perfecto shape. I can’t really find any information on this shape, it was an IPCPR sample handed to me by Ernesto Padilla and all I can say is that it has a Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper and Nicaraguan fillers. As far as I  know, these are made in the same factory in Honduras where some of my favorite cigars are made, notably the Tortuga line, and the quality is excellent. The cigar had a distinctive flavor that I can only categorize as “meaty”, and I don’t think that’s because I had just eaten meat for dinner. It was savory, delicious and an all around wonderful cigar that I look forward to smoking again. This was a terrific cigar.


Gurkha_HeritageMaduro_ToroFriday I went with a Gurkha Heritage Maduro from Gurkha’s IPCPR sampler. Of course, this was the first cigar I smoked from the sampler, which should surprise nobody. Sure, I could have chosen the Ghost in the chubby perfecto size but I smoked a Ghost not too long ago.  The Heritage Maduro has a  Mexican San Andreas wrapper, a Brazilian Arapiraca binder and Nicaraguan and Brazilian fillers. The one I smoked was a 6 ½” x 54 toro with a cedar sleeve.  It was a beautiful wrapper, dark and oily with some tooth, and had great dark chocolate and espresso flavors. It hit a rough spot about half way in, perhaps a void in the filler, or maybe a spot with a little too much moisture in the leaves there, but I soldiered on and it worked out to be just a temporary annoyance. I was not disappointed in the evening’s selection.


Saturday evening with an Alec Bradley Nica Puro Diamond Eough Cut - @alecbradleycigar @alecbradleycigarsSaturday’s cigar was not a new cigar, but one that I hadn’t smoked before in this shape. A couple of years back Alec Bradley released the Nica Puro blend in a unique diamond-shaped box press, calling it the Nica Puro Diamond Rough Cut. Since the Nica Puro is my favorite blend in the Alec Bradley line-up, I was happy to come across some of these in a local shop a few months ago. Not sure why it took me so long to fire this one up. The shape kind of brought back memories of the triangle pressed Trilogy line, which put Alec Bradley on the map for most people. I smoked a bunch of the Trilogy cigars back around 2004 or thereabouts, I really enjoyed everything about them. I wonder if we’ll see them again as they are pre-2007 and I believe they have been available in round versions at a catalog retailer or two over the years. Anyway, the Diamond was a great cigar, it had the familiar delicious flavor of the Nica Puro in a fun shape. The cigar measures 6 ¼” x 54 and has a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper and Nicaraguan fillers (duh, with a name like Nica Puro, it better be all Nicaraguan!). It has a lot of earthy, nutty flavors with some spice. I may be wrong, but I think it’s made in the same factory as the above-mentioned Padilla, and, looking through some older posts on my site, there have been several occasions where I’ve smoked Padillas, Alec Bradleys and Gurkhas in the same week.  Weird coincidence.


In the “what will they think of next to do with cigar boxes” department, James Watt of California is making guitar amps and Bluetooth speakers out of cigar boxes. Looking through the Leucadia Sound Etsy store I can see that there are a few of these that would work well for my son’s guitar box guitar that he built a while back. I like the La Gloria Cubana Serie R Esteli speaker, not only because I love the cigars, but the shape of the box is unique and might have some nice resonance and warmth due to the thickness of the wood. Here are some pictures, and there’s a lot more at his Etsy store. Nice work James!









That’s all for today, Until the next time,





Filed under Accessories, IPCPR, Review

A Montecristo, an Alec Bradley, Stage V Clinger and Some News

It’s been a weird week, and I really only smoked a couple cigars for this post. I found myself grabbing some old favorites that I’ve talked about before during the week, so I’ll talk about the two new cigars I smoked and pass on some news that came through my inbox, as well as an accessory I’ve been playing with.  One of the highlights of the week (two, actually) was the new Montecristo White Vintage Connecticut from Altadis in the oddly named MonteWhiteVintConnDouble Corona size. I say it’s oddly named because it’s only 6¼” x 50, which is more of a toro in my book. I expect a Double Corona to be closer to 7 5/8″ x 49, then again, I like a Churchill to be  7″ x 47 too.  I’m writing about this cigar for my column in an upcoming Prime Living Magazine issue, so I smoked a few.  First note is that it’s a pricey cigar, coming in around $12.50 in not cigar tax PA.  This uses a Connecticut shade wrapper grown on Altadis’ farms in Connecticut, and you get the pungent aroma and taste of alfalfa on the pre-light. Some may call this barnyard, but that grosses me out a little so I’ll go with alfalfa.  Hey, this is good stuff, I’ll have to use this in my article.  Anyway, if I had to pay $12.50 for a cigar, I’d certainly want it to be as good as this cigar was. Perfect burn and draw are expected and expectations were exceeded. It had a very smooth, yet rich flavor, it was creamy with a hint of citrus sweetness, and a little bit of pepper from the Nicaraguan and Peruvian leaf in the filler blend.  This was a great smoke, probably great in the morning with a cuppa joe, but stood up nicely in the evening, even after some ill-advised buffalo sauce with dinner. Overall a delicious cigar, in my opinion, maybe the best non-cuban Montecristo I’ve smoked.


Stage V ClingerA few weeks ago I received a cigar holding device called the Stage V Clinger (the V is a Roman Numeral 5, so it’s a Stage Five Clinger for those curious). I used the strong magnets on this coated spring steel cigar clip to attach to a chair on the porch (which, fortunately for this trial, was steel). The magnets are strong enough to hold it securely on a magnetic surface. If you find yourself without a ferrous metal surface to attach to magnetically, they include a Velcro strap as well.  The spring in the jaws of this device are very gentle, there’s just enough pressure to firmly grasp the cigar without damaging it.  I’ve only tested this on the chair, with little or no jostling.  I have not tried it on a treadmill at the gym, on a bike out on the trail, skydiving, or on a golf cart (which, by the way, is the main marketing demographic for this), but I imagine it would work in at least some of those situations. It’s a well made accessory that will hold your cigar if you need it.  I just thought of something I need to try…strapping it to the leash to hold my cigar when I take my evening walks with Macha…stay tuned for an update.


AlecBradley_NicaPuroRosado_RobustoThe other noteworthy cigar I smoked this week, strike that, I smoked several noteworthy cigars, a La Sirena Doubloon Salamone on Sunday that was quite great, and a really good Asylum Straight Jacket, both of which had spent at least the last year in the humidor. The other cigar I wanted to mention was the Alec Bradley Nica Puro Rosado. The original Nica Puro is one of my go-to cigars, it’s among the cigars with “Nica” in the name that came out in 2013 that really tripped my trigger and are regulars in any semblance of a rotation I might have. I ended up with one of these as an add-on at an Alec Bradley event with Jon Lipson at Cigar Brothers in Berwyn, PA a few weeks ago, and really was looking forward to smoking it. This is all Nicaragua, wrapper, binders (two of them) and fillers, covering the three main growing regions in the country.  I really enjoyed the cigar. The rosado wrapper gives this a little sweeter, a little “cleaner” flavor, if that makes sense.  I think this can interchange with the original Nica Puro as a go-to cigar for me, while it’s still all Nicaraguan, the rosado wrapper just brings something new and interesting to the table.



Here are a couple press releases that came through my inbox this week, reproduced verbatim in the laziest, least journalistic way possible.


Two Guys Smoke Shop & Cigars for Warriors – CIGAR BOX DRIVE

(New Hampshire) – Two Guys Smoke Shop, a three store chain of cigar shops in New Hampshire with locations in Salem, Seabrook and Nashua have begun a Full Cigar Box Drive for Operation: Cigars for Warriors.

Cigars for Warriors top priority is collecting then dispersing premium cigars to American Service Men and Women serving in combat zones (Air, Land and Sea). As a way to honor, show respect and thank those putting it all on the line for us back home.

Cigars for Warriors receives requests from many soldiers who have no one in the U.S. to send care packages to them, and would otherwise receive nothing. This mission is one of great importance as we understand that some of these fine men and women would not be able to enjoy well-deserved moments of reassurance and relaxation without the generosity of sponsors and individual donors.

The mental health benefits of a premium cigar are unsurpassed for our troops, especially with considerations that cigars are the #1 requested items by our Warriors. Two Guys Smoke Shop asks that we band together and give thanks to our Service men and women by donating a full box of cigars to Cigars for Warriors. Two Guys Smoke Shop will not only collect but will match a box of cigars for every box donated (up to 500 Boxes) from October 30, 2015 till Thanksgiving Day – November 26.

Give THANKS to our Troops, our Warriors, our Service men and women by buying and donating a full box of premium cigars for a Warrior. There is a donation box set up at each Two Guys Smoke Shop location and you may even donate online at by leaving a message in the comment box that the box is for the warriors or by calling 1- (888) 2–CIGAR-2 (1-888-224-4272)


One quick note on this first item. Unfortunately, Ben Edmundson, who was instrumental in the operations of Op: CfW, passed away this week. I have no doubt that the team there will continue providing this service to our troops, but the cigar world lost a great patriot and he will be missed. I never met him, but had correspondence with him the times I sent cigar donations to him for the troops.  My condolences to his family, both genetic and otherwise.


From my buddy Omar:




Springfield, VA (October 15, 2015) – Fratello is unveiling their first limited run The Boxer Series. “The 2014 release of the Fratello Boxer was a great success for our company.  We tweaked the Fratello blend, box-pressed the cigar and people loved it,” said de Frias.  The boxer series was born from the success of the Fratello Boxer.   

The Boxer Series will only be available as a five-pack format with a limited production of 3000 units. Four new sizes are being introduced in this limited run with the same blend as the Fratello Boxer.  

The Boxer (6 ¼ X 52)

Boxeador (6 X 54)

Boxero (5 ½ X 50)

Boxista (5 X 48)

Boxerito (4 ¾ X 46)

The boxer series will debut at W. Curtis Draper Tobacconist in Washington D.C November 18th 2015.  It will begin shipping to retailers nationwide after the event.  Retail value is 45.00

For a list of Fratello Cigars product offering please visit for a description.


Finally from our friends at Drew Estate:


Drew Estate Announces ACID Supercell, Subculture Exclusive for Fogue & Bates in Tulsa, OK

Thursday, October 29, 2015 — Miami, FL – Drew Estate will be releasing a new Subculture cigar for Fogue & Bates in Tulsa, OK, called ACID Supercell. The new cigar will be released at an in-store event at Fogue & Bates on November 19th, 2015. Supercell will be available exclusively at the Fogue & Bates retail shop.

The new ACID Supercell is presented in a 4 ¾ x 43 vitola, and the blend is based on the ACID Toast blend. ACID Toast has become a popular choice among ACID smokers who are looking for a fuller-bodied ACID cigar. The blend features a maduro wrapper from the San Andres Valley and has rich tobacco notes underlying the sweet taste of the ACID infusion.

When asked about the new ACID Supercell, Jonathan Drew said that, “James George at Fogue & Bates understands the ethos of Drew Estate. He has become a virtual extension of our vision, and drives it straight to consumers in the Midwest market. The new ACID Supercell has been meticulously created to honor James for everything he has added to our journey. The Supercell is stupid fresh. If you find yourself in Tulsa, definitely stop by Fogue & Bates. It’s an awesome shop run by an awesome team that we call family. ”

James George, owner of Fogue & Bates, commented that, “The Supercell project started four years ago, with the idea that the Toast is my favorite ACID blend. The one problem was that the larger size was sometimes too large for the occasion. Sometimes you just don’t have an hour to commit to a cigar. From there, Supercell was born. After four years and several blend iterations, the Supercell blend is what we’ve landed on, and I’m extremely excited about it. My relationship with Drew Estate over the years has been a fantastic partnership, and I truly believe that Drew Estate is the most innovative company in the industry. I’m happy to be partnered up with them for Supercell.”

To learn more about Fogue & Bates, call or visit their retail store at:

6929 East 71st Street
Tulsa, OK 74133
(918) 488-0818

To follow all of Drew Estate’s news, follow them on social media at @drewestatecigar.


That about wraps it up for today, the first day of Standard Time here in PA and around much of the country. I personally hate Standard Time, sure it’s light earlier, but it’s friggin dark by the time I get home. That means it wont be long before it’s freezing cold and snowy and crappy, and I want my summer back!  I’m going to have to button up the smoking porch and get the propane heaters out. Oh, and finally, here’s a question that’s been keeping me up at night (not really), but a couple weeks ago Halfwheel reported that CAO had a Pumpkin Spice Cigar hitting shelves, I never heard anything else about this, never saw any, and am left wondering if this was a “The Onion” type of  post poking fun at CAO or just to see what the reaction would be or what. Was there really a CAO Rider’s Revenge?  Enquiring minds want to know! Until the next time,


Cigar Craig



Filed under Accessories, News, Review