Category Archives: Events

A Fratello Cigars Event, a La Aurora, a L’Atelier and a Contest!

FrFriday evening we took a family trip over to the Wooden Indian cigar shop in Havertown, PA to have a visit with Omar de Frias and his amazing Fratello cigars. When I say family, my wife sometimes joins me on these trips, but this time my son Corey came along, and, at the invitation of the shop owner, Dave, Macha joined us too. Macha loves these outings as she gets a lot of attention and loves everybody. She was well-behaved, most of the time just laying down and relaxing, something I wish she’d do at home when we get back from a long walk and I just want to finish my cigar and she wants to play in the yard! Anyway, she had a great time, and I smoked one of my favorite cigars from last year, the Fratello Bianco Boxer. This is a box pressed torpedo wrapped in a beautiful San Andrés wrapper,  Dominican binder and fillers from Pennsylvania, Nicaragua and Peru. What distinguishes the Boxer from the regular Bianco line, and this holds true with the regular and Oro Boxers as well, is that they use a little extra ligero in the blend. Not only does the cigar smoke perfectly and taste amazing, it’s got a little extra kick! I picked up a few more for the humidor, along with some other goodies, and enjoyed a great evening at the Wooden Indian with my buddy Omar. It was the fist time I’ve seem Omar without his goatee, is that the breaking news here? Omar Shaves Goatee!…only at CigarCraig.com, Sorry Halfwheel and Cigar-Coop, I was first with this bombshell!

 

LaAurora DE ParkYesterday was a beautiful Saturday to go to the track, and my daughter decided to have our grand-daughters joint birthday party in the picnic grove at Delaware Park. We got there early to secure a spot, and while we were waiting for everyone I smoked a La Aurora Preferido Corona in the Diamond or Broadleaf wrapper. Since I smoked this the first time over two years ago the pungency and cloying flavor I got then has settled down and it’s more like what I would expect from an aged Connecticut Broadleaf. It was a little over the top the last time I smoked it, but it was slightly underwhelming to me yesterday. Honestly, I forgot that I didn’t really like this cigar the first time around, but was looking forward to a tasty Broadleaf cigar. I usually don’t choose my granddaughters events to enjoy a cigar, but when it’s reasonably appropriate, like at the track 45 minutes before they arrive, I go for it, and it’s usually something from La Aurora because Aurora is also my daughter’s name and how could she get mad at me, right? It works in my head. Anyway, I didn’t lose all my money, had a nice day playing the ponies and hanging with the family.

 

L'Atelier_LAT38SpecialLast night I rummaged through the Lancero tray and came up with a L’Atelier LAT 38 Special. This 7½” x 38 Lancero was a beauty, with a dark, Sancti Spíritus Ecuador wrapper, binder and filler from Nicaragua rolled at the My Father Factory in Nicaragua. I wanted to smoke something from the Johnson family of cigars, but I was only finding rubustos, and I craved more than that. I have a ton of rubustos in the humidor and should probably just go on a rubusto bender and work them down. There was a time when that was my vitola of choice, but I’ve either gotten more patient or have more time because I want a toro or larger more times than not. I digress, theLAT 38 was a beauty, and the flavor was outstanding. It had the savory and sweet flavor I’d expect more from the Broadleaf than the Sancti Spiritus that the L’Atelier line is known for. I can’t remember when I got this, it may have been at an event at a shop in Colorado I was at back in 2014, but it was good. I haven’t found many cigar in any of Pete Johnson’s portfolio that don’t satisfy my palate. My only complaint with this cigar was that it suffered from Nomex Wrapper Syndrome (Nomex is the stuff that electrical wiring is wrapped with so it doesn’t burn) it required a lot of attention with the lighter, and I was being careful not to overheat the cigar since Lanceros can easily be ruined by smoking too aggressively.  The humidor these are in stays in the mid to low  60s so it wasn’t wet.

Contest!

June PrizeSince we got to the track early yesterday they were giving out hats, and since I’m not a huge hat wearing guy, I figured it might be a good time to have another giveaway. I’ve assembled some odds and ends that have been collecting for a while to go with the Delaware Park hat. There are a couple of bottle openers including one for your key chain from Nomad Cigars, a torch lighter from El Artista, a couple cutters, a highly collectible Matt Booth Room 101 punch cutter, a Ninety Degree magnetic cigar holder and a nice Balmoral flask. As always, a few cigars might fall into the box as I’m packing it up, it happens, I can’t help it! So the usual rules apply, must be of legal smoking age in your municipality, one entry by way of leaving a comment on this post, and have fun! I’ll pick a winner next Sunday, June 11, 2017. 

 

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

 

CigarCraig

 

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Romeo 505, Gispert Intenso and a Foundation Cigar Event

I went to a couple of events this week, although both visits were brief.  Thursday I stopped in to my local CigarCigars shop, which is on my way home and just about 2 miles from my house. Since it was before dinner, and while it takes five minutes to get home from this particular shop at five o’clock on a weekday, it takes practically a half an hour to get there since all of the rush hour traffic is headed west bound. This is one of the main reasons I chose the location of my new job last year, the commute is awesome.  Anyway, they were having a RoMEo 505 event at the shop with the local Altadis rep, and when I saw this displayed at the IPCPR show last year I was RoMEo_505_Piramidesintrigued and disappointed that there weren’t samples! Astute observers of my smoking habits will note that I don’t feature a great many Altadis cigars here, mostly it’s because there aren’t many that I like, quite honestly. I really wanted to like the RoMEo Añejo, but every one I smoked had a terrible draw, and I haven’t found an H. Upmann that I really liked in 20 years. I love the Henry Clay Tattoo and Stalk Cut and a couple of Montecristos, but I haven’t had good experiences with the new Yarguera (technically an Upmann, I guess. Anyway, I keep trying, and I picked up a few sizes of the new RoMEo 505, another Añejo, a new Gispert and Steve, the manager at the shop shared a new Upmann made by A.J. Fernandez that is on the schedule for this week (I’m not entirely sure it’s on the market). I immediately went home, grabbed some dinner and hit the streets with a RoMEo 505  Piramides, a 6 ½” x 54 figurado. 505 is the area code of Nicaragua, I can think of at least two other cigar lines that have used telephone area codes in the naming of cigars, but, heck, cigar names are tough to come up with. This is a Nicaraguan puro made at the Placencia Factory in Esteli, with Habano wrapper, binder and filler from Jalapa, with additional Habano in the filler blend from Condega and Esteli. The choice to wait until I ate was a good one, as this was a pretty heavy-duty cigar! it was aggressive with a load of sweet spice and earthiness. This was a cigar that is up my alley!  I enjoyed the crap out of this cigar, and look forward to smoking it again. This isn’t probably going to appeal to the typical Romeo y Julieta smoker, but it certainly will appeal to someone who loves strong, bold cigars. My gut instinct last July was right, this is a cigar that captures my interest.

 

Gispert_Intenso_BelicosoFriday I had to try the Gispert Intenso Belicoso with its dark and oily broadleaf wrapper calling to me. This is another collaboration with A.J.Fernandez, who seems to be making great cigars for just about everyone! Gispert is a very old Cuban brand name going back before the revolution, but was phased out over the years. The Altadis Gispert line was a milder cigar in my recollection, but this Intenso version is not. I found another Altadis cigar that’s very much to my liking. It has a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers. This actually reminded me a lot of the previous RoMEo 505 in its boldness, and sweet spice. I loved this, it burned my fingers, and  for a cigar in the under $7 range, it’s a big winner in my book. Whattaya know, I’m two  for two with Altadis cigars! Last time that happened was when I smoked the Henry Clay Tattoo and Stalk cut back to back to see what the difference was (I think the Tattoo is richer due to the higher primings used, otherwise they both use the same tobacco varietals and are fairly close, I like them both). So the Gispert Intenso weems to be another winner…it’s got a nice box press too.

 

TabernacleYesterday we happened to be attending an Earthday event right near the Wooden Indian Cigar shop in Havertown, PA, where Nick Melillo was visiting with his Foundation Cigar Co. brands. I bought a few Tabernacles and El Güegüense, and sat down with a Tabernacle Torpedo for a bit. I picked up some El Güegüense in lancero and short lancero, the latter of which was a BOTL.org exlusive. The Tabernacle is another A.J. Fernandez collaboration. featuring Connecticut Broadleaf which Nick is famous for using in his days at Drew Estate where he created the Liga Privada series for Steve Saka. The little 4½” x 52 torpedo is a heater! Rich, sweet broadleaf goodness with some power behind it. It’s unfair to make comparisons, but one can’t help putting the Tabernacle and Steve Saka’s Mi Querida on the same playing field, and they are both terrific. I’m quite happy to have a handful of Tabernacles in my humidor now, yet another cigar that is everything I want in a cigar, great construction, beautiful presentation, great taste and overall experience. It was fun catching up with Nick at the event, I think I’ve known him for about fiver years, and he’s a terrific cigar maker and a fun dude. Twin Engine Coffee was also represented and paired well with the Tabernacle. Another high quality event by my friends Dave and Dan at the Wooden Indian!

 

Don’t forget to circle back to my last post and enter the contest to win some cool General Cigar Co. Goodies!  Also, please keep one of our readers, Patrick, in your thoughts as he goes through some medical stuff over the next few days. He always signs his comments with the tag line “Life is Good”, and we want that to remain true for him!  That’s all for today, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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Davidoff of Geneva, Partagas and Arturo Fuente Cigars

Thursday I had the privilege of attending a media event at the Davidoff of Geneva Brookfield Place shop in New York City for a meet and greet with Davidoff’s Global CEO,  Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard. We were instantly greeted by the attentive staff as well as Laura Peet, whose company handles the media relations for Davidoff. The shop is gorgeous, of course, only being about a year old, and Davidoff of Geneva NYClocated in a mall in the financial district with views of One World Trade Center from the comfortable lounge. I spoke with Hans-Kristian for a bit, but was unable to pry any secrets out of him. I asked about future Davidoff Lounge locations in the US and he was tight-lipped. When he spoke to the assembled crowd he said that they had just opened their 78th lounge, with seven of those in the US. The cigar of the evening was the incredible Chef’s Edition, which is a 6″ x 54 toro with a Habano 2000 wrapper, Ecuador Connecticut binder and a filler blend of San Vicente Mejorado Seco, San Vicente Mejorado Viso, Piloto Viso, and San Vicente Viso.  This cigar is a  collaboration between Davidoff of Geneva’s master blenders and six of the world’s most renowned chefs,  Peter Knogl, Cheval Blanc of Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois (Basel, Switzerland),  Renato Wüst of Bad Ragaz Grand Resort (Switzerland),  Ali Güngörmüs, of Le Canard HH Pageou (Münich, Germany),  Léa Linster of Restaurant Léa Linster (Frisange,Luxembourg),  Michel Trama of Relais & Chateau (Puymirol, France) and  Maria Marte of Club Allard (Madrid, Spain),with  nine Michelin stars among them. Amazingly, only four of the six chefs are cigar smokers. Here’s what Davidoff has to say about the cigar:

The Davidoff Chefs Edition is Davidoff’s version of a culinary masterpiece. Just like the perfect meal, it begins gently with complex layers of subtle flavors and builds up to a sublime and unforgettable crescendo. The wrapper is oily and smooth and everything about it, from its flawless composition to its elegant color, whets the appetite for the cigar’s initial aromas, both nutty and sweet. The flavors become richer and more uplifting in the second third, with hints of citrus, bloomy fruit, sweet corn and a refined aftertaste that is both oily and creamy. In the last third, the cigar’s beauty and vitality erupt into an intense, peppery yet meltingly sweet and gratifying Grand Finale, just as a gastronomic experience is crowned by a superb dessert.

Davidoff_Chefs EditionI smoked the cigar at the event and it was spectacular, and they had a spread of chocolates and hors d’oeuvres there that did compliment the cigar nicely. Some of the chocolate treats were amazing on their own. I missed the corn component in the cigar, granted a cigar event isn’t exactly best place to pick up subtleties, but I was talking with Greg Mattola of Cigar Aficionado who explained to me that to him it was more of a corn flavor one would get in a bourbon, something I have no frame of reference for. They were also sampling some Camus Cognacs, which I passed on, but they also had some very good coffee on hand. I am looking forward to smoking the Chef’s Edition again when I can really sit down and concentrate on it. Hans-Kristian did say that the next limited edition Chef’s Edition would feature input from American and Asian chefs. Davidoff has some very interesting thematic cigar lines. Rudy and his staff at the lounge were very attentive and this is a must visit if you find yourself in lower Manhattan. Prices were high, but it is New York, and it is Davidoff. It was a quick trip to the city for my wife and I, but we met a bunch of great folks including Ted Hoyt from Smoke Magazine and John Nubian of YRB Magazine,  and had a very nice time. My wife even enjoyed a Davidoff 2000 while there.

Partagas_Heritage_Rothschild

 

I could probably stop here and nobody would complain, but I did have a couple of cigars yesterday worth noting.  Yesterday I watched the second period of the Flyers game on the back porch with the new Partagas Heritage Rothschild, a 4½ x 50 cigar with the rosado colored OSA wrapper from Honduras, a Connecticut Broadleaf binder and a filler blend of Honduran Jamastran, Dominican Piloto Cubano and Mexican San Andres. This is is a cigar that is going to age well, not that it isn’t ready to go now. It has a spicy, tannin flavor that really wakes up the palate. The burn and draw are excellent, and the rounded head, a signature of cigars made by General Cigar, allows for pinpoint control of the cut, allowing a punch-like cut with a guillotine or scissors. I liked it, it was different from every other Partagas cigar I’ve had. The band could be better, a simple, red band with Partagas Heritage on it, from a distance it might look like the Partagas Serie D No.4 Habano, which is probably the point. Recommended, along with the Partagas Ramon y Ramon.

 

Fuente_HemingwayClassic_MaduroLast night I grabbed a lonely Arturo Fuente Hemingway Classic Maduro from the humidor. I was going to smoke a regular old Hemingway Classic Cameroon, but this Maduro had a couple of cracks that were concerning, so it had to go. I got a few of these on a visit to Holt’s in Philly last fall some time, and it traveled home with me on the train in a baggie and might have gotten dinged up a little. To the Fuente’s credit, these cracks, the most concerning of which ran from the band to the cap, caused absolutely no problems. I feared and explosion, and the only explosion I got was that great Hemingway flavor with the sweet broadleaf wrapper on top of it. It’s amazing that a cigar can taste the same year after year, which is why I feel compelled to pick up a few Hemingway maduros when I see them at Holt’s, which seems to be every time, and for the $6 or 7 that they cost it’s a no-brainer.  What put the Fuente bug in me yesterday was reading about the theft of a 40′ container of Fuente cigars, which really takes some planning, I would think, how does a whole container get stolen? Fuente’s are going to be in short supply for a while, I think, but the company has faced adversity before, and will overcome.

 

That’s enough out of me for today. Looking forward to another nice spring day, so we’ll see what gets smoked today!  Don’t forget you can follow @cigarcraig on Instagram and Twitter to see what I’m smoking, not that anyone should really care…Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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A Tatuaje and L’Atelier Event and the Philly Cigar Festival Contest Winner

Tat1Monday evening I found myself again at Cigar Mojo in King of Prussia, PA at the Tatuaje/L’Ateliar “Oh F*ck I’m Lost” bus tour stop. This was a huge event, as you might imagine. Pete Johnson, Casper Johnson and Dan Welsh were on hand for the event, they’ve been travelling around in a beautiful tour bus and visiting stores along the tat2way. Cigar Mojo had tons of stock on hand, and appear to have had a good sales day!  I picked up a couple singles and the tour special pack with five cool cigars that I haven’t yet taken the time to identify. If someone would fill me in, I’d be grateful (what can I say, I’m lazy). I lit up a Tatuaje Reserva K222 and went about schmoozing with friends old and new. On hand was a vintage travel trailer fitted as a bar mixing drinks and a BarBQue tat3trailer serving food. They had boxes of Pork Chops, bundles of Pork Tenderloins and  Le Vignoble available with the purchase of another box of qualifying cigars, all of which sold out. I chose the K222  since I’d smoked it before and would be distracted. It was and is a great cigar, Ecuador Habano wrapper and made in Miami. It was a great event, lots of great folks and I enjoyed the evening. tat4

Tatuaje_Cojonu2006

Last night I smoked the Tatuaje Reserva Miami Cojono 2006, a 5½ x 52 belicoso. Another great smoke, rich, complex flavors of espresso and earth. It, like the K222, had a great burn and draw, and I very much enjoyed it. Tatuaje cigars have always been special occasion cigars for me, so the last couple days were pretty special. I look forward to smoking my way through the  “Oh F*ck I’m Lost” sampler. Pete and his crew are a great bunch, it’s always a treat to spend a little time with them, and I’m glad I finally got to meet Casper and Dan and was sorry KC wasn’t there.  Cigar Mojo did a good job considering there were easily a hundred people there at a time, and while the shop is a good size, that’s a large crowd.

 

It’s time to choose the winner of the ticket to the Philly Cigar Festival, happening June 3, 2017 in Pottstown, PA. I’m looking forward to hanging out with the winner at the event!  Out of the 21 entries (adjusted for those who commented that they wouldn’t be able to attend), the random number generator at Random.org spit out the number 19, which corresponds to Michael shore. Please send me your full name and contact information so I can pass it on to the event organizers to get your ticket processed.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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La Aurora, a Cornelius and Anthony Event, Avo and a CAO Cigar

Don’t forget to go back to Wednesday’s post and enter to win a ticket to the Philly Cigar Festival being held on June 3, 2017! I will select a winner on Wednesday, so if you think you can make the trip to south-eastern Pennsylvania, put your name in the hat! This promises to be a very cool event!

 

So, I smoked a few cigars this week, I’ll mention a few of them, there were some I won’t mention either because I’ve talked about them before, or there was something strange going on…for instance, one cigar I really enjoyed in the past had a very strange and awful flavor about mid way through akin to burning plastic. My guess is that a piece of the plastic string they use to tie the hands of tobacco together in the fermenting process may have gotten mixed in the bunch somehow, at least that’s what I want to believe. It’s easier to wrap my mind around that explanation than think of what other foreign objects might have made their way in there. Stuff happens and it’s just unfortunate that it was my last example of this particular cigar. Fortunately, there are plenty of other great cigars to choose from! Mi Queridas seem to be smoking very well, and a 2015 LG Diez Lusitano from La Flor Dominicana was a real treat this week.  Another treat was a La Aurora 1903 Cameron robusto, the third new cigar from La Aurora’s Time Capsule series, following the LaAurora_1903Cameroon_Robusto 1987 Connecticut and the 1962 Corojo. This has a Cameroon wrapper, Ecuador Sumatra binder and Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers. I have a special affinity for the La Aurora line, it’s special to me personally, but that’s not to say I enjoy a great many of their cigars. I half expected this one to remind me of the first box of cigars I bought back on 1996, the La Aurora Bristol Especiale (I think it was around $40 for the box). I never really took to those, they seemed to have a vegetal flavor that I didn’t care for. I didn’t find that to be the case at all with the 1903 Cameron, it had that unique Cameroon sweetness (Camerooniness, I call it), and was a very pleasant cigar. I know I’ve enjoyed the Connecticut in the past, but that’s coming up in the rotation real soon, I think, as I somehow failed to make mention of smoking it in the past. Good stuff from La Aurora and thank you to Jason at Miami Cigar and Co. for keeping me up to date on these.

 

stevenbaileyFriday evening I finally made it back to Cigar Mojo in King of Prussia, PA for a Cornelius and Anthony event where I finally met Steven Bailey, the owner of the company.  I’ve been pretty high on this newer brand for the better part of a year now, with the Cornelius toro making an appearance on my end of year memorable cigars list, and will be the subject of my Cigar Notes feature in the May/June issue of Prime Living Magazine (due on Texas newstands in May). I learned a few things about Steven, who has a successful cigarette CorneliusandAnthony_Meridian_torocompany which basically bankrolls the premium cigar start-up. Steven has experience with the FDA, having one of two cigarette brands that has been approved by the FDA, out of something like 12,000 applications. He has the experience (and the financial wherewithal) to keep his four excellent lines on the market. Of the four lines, I like the Cornelius the best, with the Meridian a close second, with the Daddy Mac close behind.  I haven’t smoked enough of the Venganza to make a good judgement yet. The Cornelius is made at El Titan de Bronze in Miami with the other three coming from Eric Espinosa’s La CorneliusandAnthonyTableZona factory in Esteli. As I sat chatting with Steven, Todd Vance and Jose Galvez (Steven’s faithful minions), I smoked a Meridian toro, which I liked better than the robusto, and I liked the robusto a lot. In the toro I think the strength was tempered a little, and there was an interesting cinnamon note midway through. I think buying a box of these is in my future. It was a great time at Mojo, great cigars, and very happy to meet Steven and his crew. Cornelius and Anthony is a brand to watch, and is high on my list.

 

AvoSyncroYesterday I smoked a little Avo Syncro  robusto since Avo Uvezian passed away on Friday at the age of 91. I never had the pleasure of meting Avo, but many people I know knew him and spoke highly of him. The Avo line (not unlike many of the La Aurora cigars) doesn’t line up with my particular tastes all the time, but he’s certainly left a legacy with many fans of his cigars. I do like the Syncro, perhaps the Nicaraguan component works better for my palate than the Dominican. Not only did Avo lend his name to cigars, but he also wrote “Strangers in the Night” for Sinatra and was obviously an accomplished musician. I never shook the man’s hand, but he was beloved by many, another cigar industry icon has left us (at an advanced age if that says anything).

 

CAO_AmazonBasinLast night I finally got around to smoking a CAO Amazon Basin. I recently picked up the last one in a box at a local shop, and this is from the second generation of the line I would think. These got rave reviews, it’s certainly unique in its presentation, with a band made from what I guess to be twisted tobacco coiled around the cigar. CAO is another brand that I really love a couple of their lines and other’s are just “eh”, sadly this one fell into the second category. Give me any Flathead over this any day of the week. Not that it was a bad cigar, although it took a bit of coaxing with the lighter to get lit right, then tunneled a little on my at the midpoint. I didn’t find it to be spectacular, although the last third was getting there and by the time I peeled off the band it was pretty hard to put down. Not sure if  I got a flukey one or it need more time in the humidor or what. I am an optimist when it comes to cigars, and it takes a lot for me to give up on a cigar, usually seeing it through to the end, with worked in this case, because the cigar redeemed itself, but it’s sometimes tough to poser through when a cigar starts out questionably. CAO’s Rick Rodriguez was in the area Friday night at another of my favorite shops, sadly I missed him this time around.

 

That’s all for today, don’t forget to enter the contest! Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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