Category Archives: Events

A Neanderthal Lancero and CigarCraig’s Secret Santa

Neanderthal_H-townLast summer at the IPCPR show I was standing in Matt Booth’s booth and finally met Jorge Ahued, the owner of Stogies World Class Cigars in Houston. I became familiar with this shop first through a business arrangement involving advertising, and second because of my freelance writing for the Houston based Prime Living Magazine, where I featured their Fratello H-Town Lancero in one of the issues. One of Stogie’s schticks is their H-town line of store exclusive lanceros. Jorge probably has one of the only stores in the country that has success selling lanceros (locally SMoKE Manayunk has a large selection). As I’ve been watching my friend Jeff from Cigar Weekly roll through November smoking lanceros all over social media, I figure’d I’d dig in to my lancero supply and smoke one in solidarity. I have a relatively large selection of lanceros, I like to think, but the one I had my eye on was one that Jorge from Stogies handed me at the show, a bit of a unicorn, I suppose. This was the RoMaCraft Neanderthal H-Town lancero. This is a traditional 7″ x 38 round lancero with the flat cap that’s consistent with the Neanderthal line.  This gave me a chance to use the smaller 10mm punch on the Adorini punch I love so much.  I really love the Neanderthal HN, the original format that they released a couple of years ago as well as the lancerosSGP. The combo of Mexican wrapper, Connecticut Broadleaf binder and the combo of Nicaraguan, Dominican and Pennsylvanian fillers made a really special blend. I’m not sure which leaf was left out, if any, but I want to say the blend shines in the larger ring gauges for me. Not that this H-Town wasn’t a spectacular cigar on its own, I just kept wanting to compare it to the experiences I had with the other Neanderthal sizes, and it was different. It’s unfair to compare it to the other sizes, I feel that lanceros across the board have a unique commonality in the quality of the flavor. I suppose it has to do with the heat. Anyway, the Neanderthal H-Town lancero was one of the best cigars I’ve smoked this year, it was smooth, loaded with flavor and burned perfectly. The unique spice that’s common in the line that probably comes from the PA ligero, and the fantastic interplay between the San Andrés and Connecticut Broadleaf makes this an amazing smoke that I’ll probably never have a chance to smoke again.

 

Last year I got off to a late start with the CigarCraig.com readers Secret Santa program.  I was reminded this week to get a move on and get it organized a little earlier, which I appreciate. So let’s do it again this year!  Please e-mail me at craig@cigarcraig.com with your name and address if you’re interested in joining in.  The rules are simple. I’ll take the assembled names and addresses and make a list and match people up fairly randomly. Participants  should then send a minimum of four (4) premium cigars to their assigned recipient. My personal approach to this is to give with no expectation of receiving, the receiving part is a wonderful and exciting bonus, but that’s just me. I’ll be looking to have the final list by November 30, 2017 so I can e-mail each person their recipient by the first weekend in December. I obviously won’t publish the list here, but feel free to use the comments on any future blog post to acknowledge receipt of your gift, I will happily provide contact info for thank-yous privately. I still have some contests in the works too, but let’s have fun sending one another some favorite cigars!

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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Cornelius and Anthony Cigars Event at Wooden Indian

Still trying to shake this cold, nothing tastes right which is the worst!  However, when one of one’s favorite cigar brands is doing and event at one’s favorite cigar shop, one has to bite the bullet and man up.  I’ve gushed about The Wooden Indian often. I have about a dozen cigar stores within a 15 mile radius of my house, and I visit them all periodically, but the one that’s the furthest, Wooden Indian, is the one where I feel like I’m welcomed as part of the family. I know the people at all the other shops, I like them and all, and they all have their forte, but I find myself at Wooden Indian most often. I suppose it helps that my daughter and her family live about a mile from the place and I can stop in and say hello, but it’s the staff and events that make me stop in the shop. It should be made clear that I’m not the consumer who stops in the shop for a daily smoke, I’m happier smoking from my own humidors on my walks or on the porch, so I generally only go to shops for events or to meet up with someone. I value my friendship with Dave and his staff at Wooden Indian, there are many great shops in the greater Philadelphia area, but this one stands out.

 

I got a message from Jose Galvez, who’s our area rep for Cornelius and Anthony Cigars, as well as other La Zona partner brands, to stop in to the Wooden Indian as they were having an event. Of course, when I received this message I was already on my way.  In addition to my frequent gushing about the shop, I’ve also heaped praise on the Cornelius and Anthony brand, as they are probably my favorite overall brand of the last two years.  The Miami CandA_WImade Cornelius line I put right there with Davidoff, Sobremesa, and whatever other high-end, medium and complex and delicious cigars you can think of. Their other lines, the Daddy Mac, Venganza, Meridian, and the new Aerial and Señor Esugars are all excellent cigars made at La Zona.  In addition to really liking the cigars, I find the aesthetic part of the experience very pleasing, the bands are classy and appealing to me, and the box art is very cool. I bought a handful of cigars and lit up a Señor Esugars Corona Gorda which I could actually taste. I won’t say it tasted like it should because of my cold, but it didn’t taste terrible and I nursed about two hours out of it. It’s always nice to see Todd Vance, Cornelius and Anthony’s Director of Sales, and we were entertained by his playlist, which featured both kinds of music, county and western, although I found the country rendition of Purple Rain slightly disturbing. I can’t wait for this funk to lift from my head so I can just spend a week smoking through the Cornelius an Anthony line, which is highly recommended by me, for whatever that’s worth.

 

You can read my thoughts on the IPCPR booth and releases, along with an interview with Stephan Bailey HERE.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

 

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An LH Premium Cigar and a La Gloria Cubana Event

LH_LaVidaIslaMonday I smoked a cigar from the IPCPR show that Nick Syris (LH Premium Cigars & Smooth Draws Radio) gave me when I saw him in Island Jim’s booth. He was exhibiting in the same booth because 3R Cigar Distributors in Pittsburgh is distributing LH Premium cigars, as well as 1502, Leaf by Oscar and Island Jim cigars. The cigar Nick gave me is a collaboration between Nick and Island Jim Robinson, which was to be called La Vida Isla, but is moving forward as a “special edition” called the “Nick & Jim P.B.E”, Pre-Banded Edition. I know, the example  smoked had a band, but the band Nick used on the samples is one he uses for his non-US LH brand. The cigar has an Ecuador grown Vuelta Abajo seed wrapper and binder and Nicaraguan & Peruvian fillers an is made in Costa Rica. This was a fantastic cigar, rich and meaty with the nice little spice that the Peruvian tobacco has (and I really like Peruvian tobacco). This is a medium bodied cigar that I could smoke every day.

EPC_LGCLast night I attended an event at the International Tobacco (or is it CigarCigars, I’m not sure they’ve officially rebranded the store since acquiring it last summer) in the King of Prussia Mall. Yes, it’s a cigar shop in a mall that you can smoke in! I’ve talked about it before, let the wife shop in the largest mall in the country and hang out and smoke cigars, it’s a beautiful and dangerous thing! Anyway, they had a ticketed event featuring La Gloria Cubana cigars featuring Ernesto P. Carillo, who founded the La Gloria Cubana brand and sold it to what is now General Cigar Co. in 1999. Of course, Ernesto now owns EPCarillo Cigar Co. I’ve been fortunate to have met a lot of people in the cigar business, but this is only the second time CC_KOPI’ve met Ernesto, and he’s someone I hold in high regard, as I was a huge fan of his La Gloria and El Rico Habano brands in the 90s. There were 30 tickets sold for the event, and there were some of the people from several of the twelve stores in the CigarCigars chain (I think there are 5 or 6 of the stores within a ten mile radius of my home). Included in the ticket price were three La Gloria Cubana cigars, the new Coleccion Reserva in robusto, a Serie R No. 5 Natural and a La Gloria Corona Gorda Maduro from the original line. I lit up the Coleccion Reserva, I’ve smoked and enjoyed some IPCPR samples of this cigar, and in Ernesto’s talk he disclosed that the blend is a hybrid of the old El Rico Habano and the La Gloria Artesanos de Miami. It’s no wonder I like this cigar. It was a great event with hors d’oeuvres and Jim CC_EPCBeam spirits (of which I don’t partake). One of the things Ernesto also talked about was the way the cigar industry cooperates, crediting several people for helping him in the 90s when La Gloria exploded after getting a high rating in Cigar Aficionado, forcing him to open a factory in the Dominican Republic to try to meet the demand.  This was evidenced even now by the fact that he is, once again, collaborating with the company which bought his brand. Great event with a legendary cigar maker and a great bunch of people. Thanks to Tom, Rami, Steve Mike, Tom and the rest of the staff for a good evening.

LaGloriaCubana_Colección Reserva_TorpedoTonight I did something I rarely do and lit up another La Gloria Cubana Coleccion Reserva, this time in the torpedo. I had a Serie R Esteli the other night which is a cigar I have really enjoyed over the last few years, along with its maduro counterpart. Perhaps the Coleccion Reserva is my new favorite in the LGC line. Is it the fact that I now know that it has a connection to the El Ricos of old that I loved? the cigar is perfectly balanced, has a touch of sweetness and spice and is a tasty smoke. Burn was perfect and flavors were awesome. It’s a good thing, because I bought a box and had Ernesto autograph it. I don’t have a lot of autographed boxes, this one joins Jorge Padron, Nick Melillo and Bernie Parent. I continue my 20 year love affair with La Gloria Cubana cigars, and my LGC dedicated humidor is overflowing!

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

CigarCraig

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A Special Havana Cigar, a Kristoff Event and Invaluable Auctions

Back in 2007 I had very little idea what a blog was, nor would I have imagined I’d be writing one, but I was still a little over ten years into my cigar obsession (no relation). I was known in my circle of friends as the go to cigar guy. So when my only daughter announced her wedding plans, I went to work myself and quickly procured a box of Romeo y Julieta Coronitas en Cedro to share on the special day. Mitchell Orchant of C-Gars Ltd in the UK had recently partnered in the Casa del Habanos in Hamburg, Germany, I only would buy Havanas from a trusted source, and Germany had a much better pricing structure than the UK. So the Romeo y Julieta Coronitas en Cedro is a Petit Cetros in Cubas Vitolas de Galera, or a Petite Corona measuring a shade over 5″ and 40 ring gauge. I selected this cigar for a couple of reasons: small format to not spend too much time away from the reception, the presentation is nice with the cedar sleeves, it’s a mild and flavorful cigar that can be appreciated by occasional smokers and seasoned RyJ CeCveterans alike, and while not the best story of long-term romantic commitment, it’s the most romantic of the Cuban marcas. I passed out the majority of the box, be held on to four of them. Two were smoked when my youngest son turned 18 (he’s 23 now), since his older brother had smoked his first cigar at 18 at his sister’s wedding, it was a tradition. I smoked one Friday evening on my daughter and her husband’s tenth anniversary and the cigar was fantastic. It was smooth and refined, with some floral notes and a hint of the Cuban “twang”. Ten year’s rest didn’t hurt this cigar at all. If I was smart I’d buy a box to bury in the humidor for 10 years. I’m saving the last one for their 20th anniversary!

 

GlenCase

Photo by Robyn Parsons

Later in the evening I took a drive down the street to Old Havana Cigar Company where they were having a Kristoff event. Glen Case was there with the local rep, Robyn, so I figured it was the excuse I needed to pick up some Kristoff cigars I haven’t tried. I’ve been woefully negligent of this line. No real excuse, I love the Epic line which is made at the same factory (Charles Fairmon cigar factory in Santiago de los Caballeros). I’ve been hearing a bunch about the Pistoff Kristoff for the last year, and had just picked up a couple of the Corona Gordas in the last couple weeks. I lit up a 6 x 60 there at the shop.  I Kristoff_PistoffKristoff_CoronaGordamet Glen Case at the IPCPR briefly a couple of years ago, but never really got to talk to him, then last summer we were in line together at the hotel check-in and he greeted me like he knew who I was. I don’t expect to be remembered by these cigar company owners who meet hundreds of people, so it always surprises me. It was a fairly quiet event, well attended as there were no open chairs in Old Havana’s rather large lounge. I hung out in the front for a while and talked with Robyn, Tony, the owner, Glen, and another customer. I had a migraine coming on, so I wasn’t at my best, and the Pisstoff, was pissing me off a little as it wasn’t really working right (something I could have mentioned to Glen, but I had another one, and some at home and it wasn’t that bad, just didn’t get a ton of smoke from it). I was into the flavor though, it has a natural fermented San Andrés wrapper (where most are fermented to a maduro), and had a nuts and caramel kind of flavor. I rarely smoke the same cigar twice in a row, but I lit up a Corona Gorda last night while watching the Flyers game on the porch (being able to sit in the screened in porch in October and smoke and watch hockey is a great thing…in shorts, at 10:00pm!). The Corona Gorda is 5½ x 48 and has the Natural San Andrés wrapper, Indonesian binder and Nicaraguan fillers, the 6×60 is…6″ x 60. I’ve been lead to believe that this was a really powerful smoke, but I found it to be on the high side of medium.  If it was “deceivingly strong” like the marketing materials state, it deceived me, although I’ll go along with the Full Flavored line, as it was (on the example that burned right…). I also got a Kristoff Cameroon and a couple of Kristoff San Andrés to try. I like the closed foot and pigtail cap that are trademark features across the line.

 

My wife has been following this auction site called Invaluable, and watches for cigar related items. She pointed Lot 457 JFK's Personal H. Upmann Cigarsout some interesting items to me this week, some from JFK’s humidor. I tend to be skeptical about auctions of cigars claiming to be from JFK, although I’m sure it’s possible, and I guess reputable auction houses would verify such things. My wife got me a really cool little cast iron boxer and moldcigar mold that she won in an auction here, and if you search “cigar” there are all kinds of neat items that come up. A few weeks ago there was a cool 7-20-4 sign on auction that happened to be not far from here. I tipped off Kurt Kendall, who owns the name now, but he missed the auction. I watched it live, but was afraid to bid in case I was bidding against Kurt! Anyway, if you are into auctions and collectibles, this is a site to check out.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

 

 

 

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Villiger, General Cigar, and Drew Estate Cigars

Since I posted the contest Wednesday (go enter if you haven’t already!), I have a fee more cigars than normal to post about. Bear with me, it was a pretty good week!  We’ll start off with Villiger‘s newest release, the La Flor de Ynclan. A couple of months ago a package arrived at my door that weighed about 12 pounds and I thought “what the heck is in here?” It turned out to be a little box with three La Flor de Ynclan cigars in Churchill, torpedo and robusto sizes, and a bottle of Zaffra Rum, a very generous gift, many thank to the folks at Villiger and Creativas! Most of my loyal readers know that I don’t drink, so one of these days (and I should have done it while the weather was warmer!), I’ll have to have some people over and have them sample this rum and put out a spread of Villiger cigars. From the Villiger website:

 

The La Flor De Ynclan is a special cigar, diligently crafted by Heinrich Villiger and master blender Jose Matias Maragoto of ABAM Cigar Factory in the Dominican Republic.

Heinrich Villiger, chairman of the board of Villiger Soehne AG, came across a young ambitious Cuban native 22 years ago in the Dominican Republic. That Cuban, Jose Matias Maragoto was an unknown cigar maker, who was beginning a new life in a new country. Fast forward two decades, the once untested Matias Maragoto is the overseer of all Villiger made product made in the DR. The Flor de Ynclan cigar, is the fruition of a bond between two different men from different backgrounds, over the love of tobacco.

The La Flor De Ynclan is a cigar that presents a distinct full-flavor experience, due to the extended aging of the tobacco. Choice Nicaraguan and Dominican filler tobacco, along with a true Indonesian binder, wrapped in a beautiful Ecuadorian wrapper make the La Flor De Ynclan a cigar that has been worth the wait.

FlordeYnclan

 

I started with the Churchill, a beautiful 7″ x 48 (close enough), with the above-mentioned components. I thought this was a terrific cigar. It was solid medium, and had a quality that I though would suite the European market well. It was complex with some citrus sweetness and a twinge of spice. There have been some Villiger cigars that I really liked, some were so-so, but this one stands apart, I think. It was very tasty, worth a try. I am disappointed that they discontinued the Trill line (made at Tabacalera Palma), although the name is kinda dumb, the cigar is good. I bought a box while I had the chance.

 

BolivarMoving on, I found myself at The Wooden Indian Tobacconist once again where Sean Williams, the Cohiba Brand Ambassador, was appearing for a meet and greet with the lounge membership. I first met Sean at the 2011 IPCPR show, in his El Primer Mundo booth. Ironically, Willie Herrera was hanging out in the booth with him at the same time, so it was also when I met Willie. I got there early and bought some General Cigar Co. cigars that I hadn’t smoked before, as well as a couple of the newer Sean_CohibaBolivars that I’ve enjoyed in the past. The only Cohibas that they had in stock were the Macasar, and I had a couple of those in the humidor already (and they are really pricey!). I was in the mood for Broadleaf, so the Bolivar 652 Toro was the smoke of choice. I know, I know, the Bolivar has a Connecticut Habano Maduro wrapper, not Broadleaf, but it was as close as I was going to get, OK?  This was released at the 2015 IPCPR show, and was Michael Giannini’s project re-imagining the Bolivar (and Ramon Allones). I like the box design, but I can’t say I love the band, it could have been classier, not Rami_Generalthat my opinion counts. I wonder what Mr. Giannini is up to? The Bolivar cigar is great, to my palate. I dig the closed foot and pigtail cap on these and they are very well priced. Anyway, it was a great evening at the Wooden Indian. Dave and his staff are top-notch and it was nice catching up with Sean ( and Rami, the area sales rep, another cool dude).  One last thing about this cigar. It’s neither on the Cigarworld.com or the Foundry websites, the only info I have is from the General Cigar Co. press info from the show.

 

LigaPrivadaSerieUnico_AI slipped back and forth between General Cigar Co. and Drew Estate this week, but I was probably heavier on the DE. I had to smoke another of the Florida Sun Grown toros since I bought a few more at the Wooden Indian charity event, and it was pretty darned tasty. Friday I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to smoke, and decided to go big and smoke a Liga Privada Serie Unico “A” that came from the Connecticut Barn Smoker. I probably should have swapped it for one from the 2014 two count box, but I was too lazy.  An “A” is a traditional Cuban size, it’s 9″ x 47, two notable examples being the Cuban Montecristo and the Sancho Panza Sancho. I took a walk with this cigar and when I got home an hour later I was just hitting the 6″ mark.  It was delicious, but due to its length, was on the milder side for a Liga Privada. It’s a good cigar, no doubt, and actually burned faster than I would have thought, I was finished in a little over two hours. From what I can tell, this is more of a T52 blend as it has the Connecticut stalk cut Habano wrapper, so I guess I’m still looking to satisfy my Broadleaf desire. I’ll find something today. These are only available at events, and are probably considered something of a unicorn in the Liga Privada world. I loved it, I thought it was delicious, but if I had ponied up a bunch of $ on the secondary market I’d have felt a little let down.

 

AcidKubaCandelaSince the current contest features a Drew Estate Acid KubaKuba Candela, I was kinda challenged to smoke one. Fortunately, I had one, as well as a couple of the little Blondie Candelas. I could have wimped out and went with the Blondie and gotten it over with, but why not just go for the gusto?  The regular KubaKuba is just distasteful to me, can’t even stand the smell.  I smoked a Kuba Maduro once in Nicaragua after about eight cigars and it was enjoyable. I entered this with as open a mind as I could muster, and, to lend credence to that, I didn’t take a spare cigar on my walk. I was committed (or should be). Happy to report that I enjoyed the cigar. The Candela wrapper has some bitterness that counters the sweet floweryness of the infusion. If one doesn’t like Candela cigars, I don’t imagine this one is going to change that opinion, because the grassy candellaness (my made up word for the day) is apparent. But, like it’s siblings in the Acid line, it’s well made with quality tobaccos. If you like the Acid line, try this, it’s probably going to be interesting. If you like Candela wrapped cigars, try this. If you don’t like either Candela or infused, I don’t know what to tell you…maybe this one would be a good change of pace, open your mind!

 

I was going to add one more cigar in here, but it’s getting long, I’ll circle back to that cigar. It was good and came highly recommended, I want to smoke another one and pay a little more attention to it before writing about it. Also, I bought a ticket to a Meet and Greet with Ernesto Carillo at the CigarCigars King of Prussia Mall store (smoke while your wife shops!) on Wednesday, October 11 which seems like a good deal, $25 for three cigars, booze and hors d’oeuvres and the chance to talk to a legend in the cigar business. Interestingly, this is a General Cigar event, featuring the new La Gloria Cubana Colleccion Reserva.

 

That’s all for now, until the next time, when we’ll select a contest winner,

 

CigarCraig

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