Category Archives: Editorial

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,





Filed under Editorial, IPCPR, Review, Trip Report, Video

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 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,










Filed under Editorial, Review

World Know Tobacco Day and an Archetype Axis Mundi Corona Cigar

I read somewhere that today is World Know Tobacco Day, so I said to myself: “hey, I know tobacco, and I really like it!” It’s been said that tobacco cultivation has been done for ten thousand years in the Americas, the indigenous people used if medicinally and ceremonially long before Europeans “discovered” the Americas. The Europeans took a shine to it, and its use was met with mixed opinions, some of the  more enlightened (tongue firmly planted in my cheek) thought people with smoke coming out of their mouths an noses was a sign of demonic possession while others saw the economic potential. Our beloved nicotiana tabacum  was the currency that underwrote the war of independence and made the United States the independent country that it is today. Of course, nobody remembers that, and it’s again demonized by the less enlightened. Just the other day I was yelled at by a woman on our local multi-use trail where Macha and I take our daily walks. She ran past me and yelled “how can you be smoking on a trail where people are running?” I chuckled at her rudeness, an imagined that it offset any of my own rudeness for daring to enjoy a legal product. I wonder how people can live in a world where people do things that they don’t like. I don’t appreciate all the sweaty, stinky runners and cyclists disturbing my relaxation on the trail, but I’m not so rude as to point it out! Perhaps if I had a stick up my ass I’d have a different opinion. Anyway, tobacco is now grown in beautiful countries, tended by passionate and caring people, rolled into cigars by artisans and smoked by intelligent and humble people like us. Hopefully now you know tobacco a little better and can properly celebrate this World Hedonism Organization (WHO) holiday with a fine cigar. I got that all right, didn’t I?


Archetype_AxisMundi_CoronaI celebrated tonight with a cigar from the folks at Ventura Cigar Company, the folks that make the Psyko 7 and Project 805 cigars. I’ve been a fan of the Psyko 7 line since I had one in late 2013 as a guest on The Cigar Authority radio show. I have a neat Psyko 7 humidor that my wife won that works quite well, and have a cool light-up Psyko 7 Maduro sign hanging in the smoking porch. So I was pretty excited when I saw the Archetype line displayed at the IPCPR show last year, but I couldn’t really find anyone in the Phillips and King International booth to help me. Not their fault, they were busy and I’m not the guy at the show that’s high on the priority list. I managed to get my hands on some of the Archetype Axis Mundi Coronas, which was tonight’s smoke. I also got some of the Initiation in the same size, and the one I smoked last night tasted great, had a really unique flavor that I loved, but half way through it died on me, one of those strange situations that blowing through the cigar gives plumes of smoke, but drawing gets nothing. I tried and tried, but it frustrated me. I have more, I’ll come back to that one at a later date because I really liked the flavor. To be fair, it had spent a couple of hours in a case in my pocket on a humid evening, which may have contributed to my problems. The Archetype Axis Mundi has a Habano Ecuador Maduro wrapper, Indonesian Sumatra binder and Nicaraguan Habano filler. This is on the stronger end of the spectrum, had a great burn, although I let it go out a couple of times because I was trying to maximize the time smoking. It was great for a three-mile walk on the trail where nobody complained. It had some burned wood, savory and sweet dried fruit kinda flavors with a hint of spice. I really enjoyed this, I’ll be on the look out for larger vitolas in both this and the Initiation lines and would recommend it highly.


That’s all for now, unless you’re looking for Father’s Day gift ideas, then Holt’s has a nice selection on their Father’s Day Cigar Deals page, or the folks at Stage V Clingers are still running a special on their four-pack with the “StageVdad” code. Until the next time,




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“With All Due Respect, Mr. Baker, I’d Like to Keep My Job” a Guest Post By Gary Korb

Going  into this long weekend, here’s a special guest post from our friends at Famous Smoke Shop, please visit their cigar smoker’s right hub at


“With All Due Respect, Mr. Baker, I’d Like to Keep My Job”By Gary Korb


When I moved from my native state of New Jersey to Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley in 2003, there were some nice advantages. Among them were fewer traffic jams, lower taxes and more places where I could smoke premium cigars, including my place of work, a national online premium cigar retailer. Back then, you could light-up a cigarette or a cigar at most bars, some restaurants, and of course, the cigar stores.

Eventually, the State passed a more restrictive smoking law. No more smoking in restaurants, offices, or bars, with some very few exceptions. No surprise, since this was the case in my former New Jersey, and anti-smoking regs just tend to go viral. But I could still enjoy cigar in my company office thanks to a special State permit, and fortunately, the retail cigar store and restaurant/cigar bar my company also owns was granted the appropriate licenses, etc. Yes, we played by the rules, and I, along with my fellow employees were able to continue doing one of the things we enjoy most – smoking a good premium handmade cigar. (One half of our building is cordoned-off as a non-smoking area for employees who do not partake.) Besides, smoking cigars is part of my job. That’s what I do. I smoke and write about premium cigars for a living. And I’m not alone. Pennsylvania also happens to be home to several other nationally-known online cigar retailers, not to mention dozens of brick & mortar tobacco shops owned by hard-working businessmen and women across the State.

Everything’s going fine until I see a news blurb on this Cigar Smokers’ Rights page about State Representative, Matthew Baker, who has introduced House Bill HB-1309 to the Pennsylvania General Assembly. If passed it would prohibit smoking in premium cigar retail stores, cigar bars, private clubs, casinos and all other indoor businesses and venues in Pennsylvania. REALLY, Mr. Baker? Isn’t it enough that the tobacco retailers in Pennsylvania have a hard enough time fighting-off tobacco tax increases, and you want to just pull the whole rug out from under all of us? If this bill should pass, a lot of people would be out of work and companies like mine would be hit the hardest. That’s a lot of tax dollars that the State would soon be out of, as well.

Then there are all of the consumers, the cigar smokers who not only buy their cigars at local cigars shops here, but also have the opportunity to light-up in them. NOTE: Most cigar smokers do not smoke inside their homes. They need places like cigar stores, private clubs, or the Sands Casino, for example.

Fighting taxes and the FDA is one thing, but fighting for our right to smoke, which is still legal in the United States, is another. Having spent almost 16 years in the cigar business, I’ve grown accustomed to the shrill harping of the anti-smoking crowd, but this goes beyond the pale. Therefore, I want to encourage my fellow Pennsylvania cigar smokers to fight the passage of House Bill HB-1309 by every legal means necessary. (One of our customers suggested a protest herf in front of Rep. Baker’s house.) Since protests are en vogue these days, maybe that’s what it’s come down to. Or to put it another way by paraphrasing anchorman Howard Beale’s famous line from the movie, Network, “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!”


GaryKorbGary Korb is the Executive Editor at, a premium cigar news, information and review website.


Thank you to Gary for sharing this, and Famous Smoke Shop. Until the next time,




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The Irony of Friday’s Executive Order Regarding Cuban Cigars

Since I managed to catch a cold, and can neither taste anything, nor even really have a desire to smoke a cigar, I figured today I would write about Friday’s executive order and how I think it’s weird. Let’s go back to January 2015, which is when President Obama, by executive order, made it legal for U.S. citizen, traveling to Cuba directly, to legally bring back $100 in cigars and alcohol. This was a big deal, as it had been illegal to spend money on Cuban goods of any kind, anywhere, for 52 years. I personally know several people who went to Cuba on “people to people” trips (toured cigar factories) and came home with their allotment, and that’s cool. Of course, the general public only read the headlines and deluged cigar retailers with questions about Cuban cigars. Remember, the year prior, the FDA released their deeming documents on regulating cigars that had everyone up in arms about the future of the premium cigar industry. I thought about taking a trip to Cuba, BTW, but for the money it would cost, I could go to Nicaragua twice and have as good a time. I know, it’s Cuba and it will change when the embargo is lifted and not be the back-in-time workers paradise it is now (sorry, my sarcasm filter broke there for a bit),  but I can’t justify the cost. Back to the subject at hand…


Starting Monday, October 17, 2016, it will now be perfectly legal to buy and bring into the US, Cuban cigars and rum, and, presumably, other Cuban goods (cite here). The quantities are limited by US Customs, I think there’s an $800 limit before you have to pay duties, and they can only be for personal use, not for resale. No container loads allowed.  That means don’t go calling up your local retailer asking if they are selling Cubans! Believe me, they will get tired of it. So, in a couple of weeks when I am in Reykjavik, Iceland I can buy Cuban cigars and legally bring them back, which I don’t expect to do, as I imagine they will be stupidly expensive. So this news is great for the uneducated, entitled, douchebag who has been smoking his fake Cohibas exclusively because they are the best in the world. Sorry if I offend any of the uneducated, entitled, douchebags reading…actually, no, I’m not.  Remember that 2014 FDA deeming document? Back in May, the FDA ignored all the comments that they were legally bound to read and respond to, ignored all the congressmen and senators who said regulating premium cigars wasn’t their intention in the Tobacco Control act, and went right ahead and imposed worse restrictions on premium cigars that they do on cigarettes! As a result, thousands of Americans will potentially be out of business, many of whom are our friends, not to mention tens of thousands of people in the cigar producing countries in the Caribbean and Central America, people already living in poverty. The president of the Dominican Republic has asked Mr. Obama to do something about the FDA thing, because of the economic harm it will do to his country, and the answer is allowing (and encouraging) the largest cigar market on the planet to buy unregulated, un-taxed cigars (from a communist country with human rights violations out the yingyang, no less)? So lets plunge five or six countries who rely on cigars further into third world country status, so we can normalize Cuban relations by letting people buy their luxury goods? It just makes no logical sense. Now, when it is legal to sell Cuban cigars in the US and they can tax them and subject them to all the FDA fees and regulations that the Cubans won’t pay anyway…wait, it still makes no sense. How else can I point out the absurdity of simultaneously supporting a communist regime, and making it impossible for legitimate businesses who have been legally participating in the American economy to continue? It irritates me that friend’s businesses get destroyed while people lose their shit buying Cuban cigars in other countries. Way to support small business in America!


I could keep going, and I realize that premium cigars represent only 0.1% of the tobacco industry in the US, but that’s a 0.1% I happen to care about, and have a lot of friends who put food in their children’s mouths as a result. Please go to and sent your elected officials a letter, it’s the least you  can do, and might just help and certainly can’t hurt. Remember, you still can’t sell Cuban Cigars in the US, you still can’t order them online, but the customs folks can’t take those five Cuban Montecristos out of your shirt pocket and throw them in the trashcan anymore. The whole situation is offensive to people making better cigars and trying to save their livelihood.


On a more pleasant note, if you’re a fan of Sam Leccia, wrestling, or both, check out (NSFW) tonight, Sunday, October 16, 2016, at 5:00 Eastern where Sam will be a guest on the show.


That’s more than enough from me for today, until the next time (when I can taste things and enjoy some fine cigars, maybe I’ll smoke a pre-executive order contraband cigar and be a rebel!),





Filed under Editorial, News