Category Archives: Editorial

A Camacho Criollo and a Reader Question Answered

Sunday I mentioned that I had a cold coming on, and I was right, it put me out of commission Sunday, then Monday I left work early, something I never do. Obviously I took a break from cigars, my tongue felt like it had been walked on with muddy boots and my sinuses and bronchial passages were not cooperating at all. It was fairly fast moving, fortunately, so tonight I thought I’d try taking a walk with a cigar. Of course, since we messed Camacho_Criollo_Churchillwith the clocks over the weekend, it’s dark by 5pm which thrills me very little.  I was in a quandary as to which cigar to smoke. It has to be something reasonably familiar, to properly gauge the recovery of my taste buds, and it has to be something I have multiples of. I recently received a four pack of Camacho Criollo Churchills, a traditionally good smoke that’s on the medium bodied side. The fools  good folks at Cigars.com inexplicably offered this four-pack for $1 delivered, so I figured what the heck, I’ve spent a dollar much more foolishly. I honestly don’t know why they do this, it costs them much more than a buck to box and ship the cigars. So I figured blowing a quarter on tonight’s smoke wasn’t too much of a loss. Sad to say, my tasters are still impaired, but the cigar worked right, and didn’t taste awful. I’ll smoke another one (or three) when I’m back to what passes for normal and see if the cigars are worth what I paid for them.  What really surprise me was that when I ordered the cigars they were backordered, I wouldn’t have been surprised or upset if they had canceled the order.

 

I often get questions in the comments that I forget to answer, so I figured I’d answer one here since I don’t have a lot else to talk about. Last week Dan asked about AJ Fernandez:

“I must be behind in my “Cigar Current Events” class, too. It seems that A.J. Fernandez’s name is appearing on more and more different brands. What did I miss? I don’t remember seeing anyone else doing this “nomad” routine. I do see some but just not quite like A.J. Any information about that? Is he a hired gun?”

Here’s my take on the question: AJ Fernandez is one of the hot factories out there, they’ve  really come on strong in the last couple years. I want to say Abdel really made his mark producing cigars for Cigar International maybe 10 years ago, has a ton of great blends under his own name and makes a lot of cigars for a lot of people. He’s giving Placencia (ironically, I believe Abdel’s father had a long career with Placencia) a run for their money. They made the Deisel and Man O War for CI, and, not surprising since CI is owned by the same parent company, made Hoyos and Foundrys for General. Before that there was the Emilio AF1 ad AF2 lines that were all the rage five years ago. There have been cigars made there for Nick Melillo’s  Foundation Cigar Co. and Robert Holt’s Southern Draw as well as some in the Nomad line. It got interesting (to me, at least) when Altadis started having line extensions in the Montecristo, H.Upmann, Gispert and RoMEo lines made there. I was surprised because of the companies strong ties to Scandanavian Tobacco Group, Altadis being their largest competitor. They’ve also opened another factory in Nicaragua and are making some of Espinoza’s cigars. So I think Abdel and the AJ Fernandez factory is firing on all cylinders, and, to my palate, making great cigars. I’m sure I’ve missed some brands. Funny thing is that there are some brands that I don’t really care for, except those cigars made at Tabacalera Fernandez! Hope that is an answer. I’ll try to be more timely, and less verbose, in answering questions.

 

That’s enough out of me, hopefully cigars taste better tomorrow!

 

CigarCraig

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Tobacco Shop Etiquette Tips from Tobacco Express in Claymont, Delaware

The folks at Tobacco Express in Claymont, Delaware reached out to me and asked me to post this tobacco shop etiquette guide. I don’t generally do guest posts, but I recently read a similar piece by my friend Matthias of FineTobaccoNYC.com and this seemed like it was a good way to spark some discussion. I’m not 100 percent on board with the “Dress the part” part, I’m a jeans (or shorts) and t-shirt kinda guy, but there are some good points. It’s also important to point out that the sponsor if this post has a shop in Delaware, where indoor smoking is very rare, many cigar shops don’t allow smoking.

 

Tobacco Shop Etiquette

Entering any tobacconist can be deemed a sacred experience, whether you’re a hobbyist or a first time smoker. Like dining in a fine restaurant or walking through a museum, there’s a code of etiquette to follow when you’re in a tobacco shop.

Respect the regulars. If you’re a new customer, exhibit patience when you enter a tobacco shop. Most often, some of the shop’s regulars will be present when you decide to go. Because these frequent customers bring in a lot of consistent business, the tobacco shop’s staff will most likely be catering to their needs to keep them coming back. Rest assured that you will be given the attention you deserve – it may just take a minute.

Dress the part. You don’t have to walk into the tobacco shop in a suit and tie, but you shouldn’t be in swim trunks or sweatpants, either. Think casual Fridays at work – wear jeans and a blazer or button down to fit in to the crowd.

Get to know the tobacconist. Like having a good tailor or a go-to barber, the in-house tobacconist will serve as your lifeline in the world of tobacco and tobacco products. Forming a relationship can help you stay in the know when new products come in, when special events are being held around the store, or small perks like free lighters or cigar cutters.

Act calmly. Enter the shop quietly and be mindful of other customers around you. They’re at the shop to relax and enjoy their time, so avoid a bustling, booming entrance. Always make sure that the doors close behind you when you’re moving throughout the shop. Temperature and humidity are of paramount importance in the tobacco industry, particularly in the humidor. Be mindful of this area and make sure the door shuts tightly behind you.

Introduce yourself and make friends. Like the tobacconist, the shop’s regular customers can make product recommendations, show you tips and tricks that they’ve picked up throughout the years, trade tobacco products or accessories, and be a source of friendship and camaraderie in the shop.

Don’t light up without the shopkeeper’s consent. While it may seem arbitrary, it’s proper to ask before lighting up your tobacco product in store. Other things you shouldn’t do in a tobacco shop include: light up in the humidor, bring your own selection of tobacco products, or haggle prices.

Familiarize yourself with this code of conduct and you’ll be welcomed into a tobacco shop anywhere, any time.

These tobacco etiquette tips brought to you by Tobacco Express, a tobacco shop in Claymont, DE.

 

Thanks to the folks at Tobacco Express for sharing this. I’ll try to get down to Claymont to visit one of these days, it’s not too far away!  One more thing: the Philly Cigar Festival will be happening this Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017 in Pottstown, PA.  I’m not sure I’m going to make it, but I’m told there may still be some tickets left. You may recall that this was scheduled for last spring then postponed, and I hope the winners of the contests I had earlier in t the year can make it.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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A Couple Cigars, Cigar Podcasts and the Contest Winner!

Gurkha125I’ve been feeling a little in a rut lately, so I decided to smoke some cigars I hadn’t smoked in a long time, so I started with a Gurkha 125th Anniversary XO,  I thought I liked this cigar more, it wasn’t bad, it was just a little more leathery than I remembered. So the next night I went with a sure thing, A Tatuaje TAA 2015. This box pressed, 5 5/8″ x 54 cigar with a covered foot hit the spot. Sadly, this was the last one in my humidor, but boy was it tasty. Not exactly breaking out of my rut, as I’ve been craving broadleaf and this one hit the spot just right. Smooth, rich and delicious. I think I bought a couple of these a little over two Tatuaje TAA 15years ago, great cigar.  Tonight grabbed a CAO Amazon Anaconda, a cigar I developed a deep appreciation for after bringing some home from the IPCPR show. A couple of weeks ago when I saw Jack Toraño he stuck this cigar in my pocket, so it was conveniently located on top of the humidor. This is the third in the Amazon series, following the Amazon Basin and Fuma em Corda. I wasn’t wow’d by the Amazon Basin like most people seemed to CAO Anacondahave been, but I only tried the second release. I really like the Fuma em Corda, and I really really like the Anaconda (except for the name, I’m not a snake fan), This cigar is made in Honduras with a Brazilian Bahiano Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and Colombian, Dominican, Brazilian Braganca, and Fume em Corda fillers. The only thing I really don’t care for was the piece of tobacco that serves as the band terminates under the cap and feels funny in the mouth. Otherwise it’s a great cigar! Burns a long time and tastes great!  Seems I’m still in that rut.

 

I’m a bit of a podcast junkie, and just want to list several shows I listen to regularly and enjoy. I’ll be honest, this is driven by just listening to Cigar Coop‘s Prime Time show with co-host Aaron Loomis from Developing palates, where they said some nice things about me. I also listen to the Developing Palates recaps  via podcast, KMA Talk Radio, The Cigar Authority, The Ashholes, DE4Live, Cigar Jukebox, Cigar Chat and Sharing Your Pairings, Smooth Draws Radio, Stogie Geeks, as well as Half Ashed and The Cold Draw Podcasts when they show up.  It all started with Blowin’ Smoke, which was one of the first, and was hosted by an old friend Rob Heming. There are a few others that only show up every now and then. Sometimes it’s a challenge staying up to date.

 

Contest!

prizeLast week we had a contest sponsored by Cigar Prop and the Tobacco Locker Cigar Bar featuring four great cigars and a pair of Cigar Prop XCs.  It’s time to pick a winner, and I was hoping to have Kevin of Cigar Prop pick one, but he deferred. My reasoning was that myself and Kevin interjected some comments and that makes it harder to count the comments…and I would have liked to see more “likes” on the sponsor’s Facebook pages.  So I worked it out, and the winner is mike mccainSend your address so we can get your prize to you, and I’m going to send a few cigars from my humidor too, just because I feel like it.  Thanks to Kevin for putting this together and Tobacco Locker for participating. 

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

 

CigarCraig

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Some Thoughts on IPCPR 2017 and a Few Minutes with Steve Saka

I’m back from the annual trade show and trying to get organized. First and foremost, I’d like to extend my thanks to  The Wooden Indian in Havertown, PA for their support, I couldn’t have attended without Dave’s help. They will be having their annual pig roast supporting Drew Estate Charities on September 16, and I think this will be an event not to be missed. The Wooden Indian raises more money for Drew Estate Charities than any other shop in the country, and I heard that from Jonathan Drew with my own ears. Trust me when I say that if you are a Drew Estate fan, you won’t want to miss this event. Again, thanks to Dave for helping me attend this years IPCPR show.

 

Gala1All in all I thought the IPCPR did a great job with this years show, considering a relatively late change of venue. General Cigar Co. sponsored the opening gala Monday night and absolutely killed it. Open bar, loads of food (carving stations! They had frickin carving stations!) DJ and places to sit and relax. While there seemed to be fewer other manufacturers there as there have been in the past, I saw a full compliment of Perdomos in attendance, family and staff alike. To the Perdomo’s credit, they were also present at the hotel bar where many congregated in the off hours and fully were a part of the IPCPR trade show. Altadis sponsored the breakfast Breakfast 1meeting on Tuesday with a tote bag with cigars and info for each attendee. I personally was less than thrilled with the keynote speaker, Rudy Giuliani.  His nearly one hour speech was far too political, did way too much bashing of the former administration, and made bad analogies and offered poor council in my opinion. I have a hard and fast rule in a cigar lounge, no talking politics or religion.  I regret staying through the whole thing, honestly. I’m sure my views on this my not be popular, but it is what it is. I liked Ron White’s keynote speech in 2011 a thousand times more. Other than getting started on that down note ( for me, at least) the show was it’s normal labyrinth of vendors, most of which were relevant to the industry. I question the one vendor with cell phone external battery cases that had a team of aggressive salespeople insisting that you tell them what phone you have so they could sell you a case. I heard one report of them breaking someone’s case removing it to demonstrate theirs. The second time I was harassed I just told them I had a flip phone and kept walking. Now that I think about it, I only saw them the first day, so perhaps the IPCPR dealt with them. I’ll share more thoughts on the show in future posts, but it seemed like while retailer attendance may have been low, several people I talked to were happy with the orders that were written.

 

SakasquatchI’ve known Steve Saka of Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust for 20 years and actually found myself near the spot we first met face to face in Caesars Palace near Cleopatra’s Barge back in 1997. Knowing Steve that long has given me some advantages over the years but I never push that and generally keep a respectful distance at the show as he always seems to be busy, which is a good thing for him. In keeping with his “Sakasquatch” theme, I snapped a picture with the night vision camera ( like they use in all the best squatch hunting shows!) and titled it “The elusive Sakasquatch in his natural environment”. I guess one would have to have watched one of those shows to get the joke. My only regret is not having tagged “Finding Bigfoot” on the Instagram post. However, as the show closed on Thursday and I was getting ready to make my exit, I came across Steve engaged in an interesting activity that I thought was unique and wanted to share. I’ll be surprised if any other cigar media outlet has this kind of information. Check out the video below.

 

 

ProtocolAfter a nap on Friday following a red-eye flight home, I sat down with a Protocol Corona Gorda which was fantastic, and I wanted to try out a couple of gifts I received from a couple of companies whose products I am I huge fan. I have a couple great desktop humidors from Adorini, and they have a punch cutter that has two sizes of punch and a magnetic closure. The larger punch is bigger than I’ve ever seen, slightly over 1/2″ in diameter.  I’ll be putting this through it’s paces, I can’t wait to use it on a CAO Flathead 660. Cigar Oasis celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and gifted me a Jetline dual flame lighter (with a flip out punch on the bottom). Fortunately it made it through TSA undisturbed in a checked bag. Put a Cigar Oasis in an Adorini humidor and you never have to worry about your cigars. The Protocol was excellent, and Juan and Bill hooked me up pretty good with samples, which are resting from their journey. More on Cubariqueño in a future post.

 

That’s enough for today, I need to try to get back into going to work mode for tomorrow, it sucks going back after a week of fun. Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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An Old La Gloria Cubana, and a Cigar PSA: Father’s Day Specials at Holt’s and Davidoff

lgc adtI’ve been slacking off this week not really paying attention to what cigars I’ve been smoking, sorry about that! I made my IPCPR reservations this week, I was going to skip it this year, but changed my mind. I hope to bring another perspective this time around.  I did select a well aged La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Tabaqueros one evening that was fantastic. This was from 2011, and I was just bout to grab a Serie R Esteli when the Artesanos poked its head out and said “smoke me!” I have a precious few of these left, on;y one of which, to my great dismay, is an event only version with a Connecticut broadleaf and Sumatra wrapper. I was in the mood for something lighter, so I went with the production version (I don’t think they make these any more), Ecuador Sumatra and  Connecticut shade in the toro size. This starts off with a creamy Connecticut wrapper on the first third, and segues into the Sumatra. It’s funny in that the band covers the transition between the wrappers, and is closer to the foot than the head. This cigar aged beautifully, it was smooth and still had a load of flavor, and the transition between the wrappers is prominent. I only have a couple of these in the humidor and will  be sad when they are gone! I love most LGCs, this was among my favorites. I especially wish I had more of the broadleaf versions!

 

The folks at Holt’s contacted me a few weeks ago and asked me to put something together about their Father’s Day specials, and I dropped the ball, failing to send them a draft for approval, so I hope they don’t mind if I just point you toward their web page with the specials. I looked through and was tempted to spring for their special on the Xikar XO cutter, which I’ve lusted after since seeing it at the IPCPR last year. Dropping coin on the IPCPR trip cooled my jets on that, and I have so many cutters it’s not funny. They have a lot of great stuff there, so head over to Holts.com and check out what they have!

 

I was also directed to Davidoff of Geneva’s Father’s Day page. They have a lot of great stuff for the discriminating dad, cutters, lighters, cases and humidors, as well as some of their great cigars in handy sampler packs. Davidoff always offers the highest quality accouterments and cigars. I can’t imagine any father that wouldn’t be elated at opening a gift from Davidoff from under the Father’s Day tree on Father’s Day morning (everyone does that, right?).

 

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

 

CigarCraig

 

 

 

 

 

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