Category Archives: Events

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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Epic Cigars, Literally and Figuratively, a Tatuaje and an Event

Tatuaje_ReservaBroadleaf_J21It’s been a busy couple of days, so I figured I’d start the second half of the week right with what I hoped would be a great cigar.  Last summer at the IPCPR show I stopped into Pete Johnson’s booth where he had Tatuaje, L’Atelier, and his other brands represented, and oddly it wasn’t mobbed. In previous years Pete was pretty hard to get a minute with, so I made a point to visit his booth early. I’m just getting started talking with him when a representative of the IPCPR interrupts to introduce a journalist from the middle east somewhere, who proceeded to talk to Pete for a half an hour with me standing right there, then brought in the middle east distributor who went on for another 15 minutes. I patiently waited, but chastised the previously mentioned IPCPR representative later. Members of the media interrupting retailers and vendors is a big no-no, but it’s OK to interrupt other media members. This is part of the reason I have relinquished my IPCPR membership. Point is, I finally got to talk to Pete for a while, which I greatly appreciated, and he showed us the Reserva Broadleaf series, a collection containing the original 6 Seleccion de Cazador sizes, along with J21, SW, K222 and Cojonu 2003 all with a Connecticut Broadleaf Wrapper. The whole Tatuaje_ReservaBroadleafcollection can be purchased for just under $1200, or they are available separately in bundles of ten. Pete gifted me the J21 size, ironically I had just written about the Habano version in a Prime-Living article. The J21 is a standard 5″ x 50 robusto, obviously wrapped in Connecticut Broadleaf with Nicaraguan binder and fillers. I’m not clear on whether this is rolled in Miami or Nicaragua, but it hardly matters, it’s a stellar smoke! Holy crap did I enjoy this cigar! It hit all the points I like, great burn and draw, perfect ash, and flavor like crazy. Dark cocoa and espresso all day long, with some nice spice. I loved it, and I probably put down a half-inch nub. Just what I needed, another $10+ cigar that I fall in love with.

 

BnBFriday evening I took a ride into the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia to visit BnB Cigars where they were having an Epic Cigars event. I try not to miss Dean Parsons when he comes to town, he and Mick, his sales manager and right hand man, were on hand. For a small shop, BnB has a great selection of boutique cigars as well as your standard, bread and butter cigars, packed into display cases around the shop. There’s a cozy lounge in the back too.  Vince does a great job keeping the place stocked with interesting cigars that you don’t see many places around here. I’m a big fan of the Epic line of cigars, which are made in the Dominican Republic in the same factory that Kristoff cigars come from. I picked up some of the new Maduro Fuerte, I figured it would be a safe bet since I love the regular maduro EpicMaduroFuerteline. I also wanted to try the production version of the San Andres with the Epic “E” in light-colored tobacco leaf in place of the band, and pick up some more of the Connecticut Shade La Rubia.  I smoked an Epic Maduro while I was there hanging out, which comes in a 6½ x 54 size called the Compinche, which means “buddy”.  Like the regular Maduro line, this has a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper, Cameroon binder, and Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers, with more ligero than the standard Maduro line. I loved the cigar, but I didn’t find it to be too strong, at least for my tastes. It burned well, and had some very nice flavors consistent with what I love about the Epic Maduro, and that Cameroon binder ads an interesting flavor to the blend.

 

Epic_San Andres_Gran OlaYesterday afternoon I camped out on the back porch with the Flyers game on the tablet and smoked the Epic  limited edition Project E San Andrés Gran Ola, also in the 6½” x 54 size. It’s fortunate that I smoked the cigar through the first two periods of the game and I wasn’t smoking it in the last 6 seconds when the Flyers, once again, managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I might have done unspeakable things to the cigar in frustration, and that wouldn’t have been a fitting end to the cigar. This is also appropriate because Dean Parsons played professional hockey in his native epic_hockeyCanada, so he would understand.  The San Andrés wrapper is not a dark, maduro processed wrapper, it’s more of a milk chocolate-brown, with the E that must irritate the folks at the factory who are tasked with its application. I snipped off the fanned pigtail cap and lit it up, thoroughly enjoying the interesting flavors. I would put this at the upper end of medium with some light spice and creamy coffee notes. I found no flavor change whatsoever when I hit the band, in case anyone wondered. Yet another winner from Dean and Epic Cigars! Very nice smoke, but disappointing hockey game.

 

CI Ad in Newspaper CouponsMy wife was clipping coupons today from the Sunday paper and came across this one from Cigars International. I’m not promoting this deal at all (although it’s not a bad deal), just thought it was interesting that it appeared in the regular coupons part of a major news paper. I wonder how long this kind of thing will be allowed? We haven’t seen cigarette advertising in what, 30 years? More? Certainly the anti smoking folks must see this and wish they had gotten the item on the bottom part of the ad so they could call for help when they fell over in shock from seeing *gasp* tobacco…I’m sure this kind of ad is forbidden in Australia, where they have plain packaging and curtains covering the cigars in shops. It could happen here, my friends, stay vigilant and keep pressing your elected officials to try to prevent them from ruining a good thing!

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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Nat Sherman Timeless and Metropolitan Cigars and Secret Santa

The Nat Sherman company started out in 1930 with a tobacco store in the garment district of Manhattan, at the height of the Great Depression. Over time, the Nat Sherman store became a destination for tobacco lovers, hosting celebrity clientele such as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and John F. Kennedy Jr., as well as being considered “neutral ground” by members of organized crime families. The company remains family owned with the third generation of Shermans running the business, along with Michael Herklots,VP of retail and brand development.  Nat Sherman is an iconic brand, and their flagship store is a Townhouse on 42nd street which is a must visit if you find yourself in New York City. I remember getting the catalog from Nat Sherman in the early 80s, not sure how I got on the mailing list, but I was a fan of their MCD cigarettes. Of course, at the time the cigars were quite the luxury item, not that the cigarettes weren’t, they were probably a very exorbitant $2.50 a pack. I was in a “smoke less, but smoke better” place, I guess, plus I had very few expenses while living with my parents and working three jobs.

 

Michael Herklots of @natshermanThursday evening I had the pleasure of attending an event at my local CigarCigars store with Michael Herklots where he led a tasting of the Nat Sherman Timeless Dominican by having everyone smoke puros of the four filler components.  I arrived late, but was on hand to see the participants trying various combinations together, with two or three little cigars in their mouths at once. It was interesting to see some components smoked together appeared to taste really bad, but the combination of all four tasted really good. The Timeless Dominican, the first cigar that Michael blended when he joined the company, is made at the Quesada factory and comes in about nine sizes, and has Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers and a Nat Sherman Timeless Dominican RobustoHonduran binder. I smoked the robusto size and was very happy with it. Aesthetically, it had a great burn and ash, there was a very thin black line at the perfectly straight boundary between ash and wrapper. The ash had to be almost forcibly removed. It had a load of great flavors, and was a medium to full-bodied cigar. I left satisfied, although I wished the cigar were larger! I solved that by purchasing a couple in the Churchill size, which I look forward to sampling.

 

NatSherman_TimelessNicaragua_660Logically, I followed up the Timeless Dominican with a Timeless Nicaragua. I bought a few of these in the 660 size, with the box press that they use on the Nicaraguan line (as opposed to the round Dominican), it seemed less girthy. Obviously, this is a 6″ x 60 cigar, and its a Nicaraguan puro, with a dark Nicaraguan Habano wrapper that was very appealing to me. This cigar didn’t have the razor-sharp burn that its Dominican counterpart did, but it evened itself out after a while. The cigar had some of my favorite cocoa/coffee flavors along with a woody/meaty component. I liked it. Fortunately, when I go to an event I generally buy more than one of each cigar for a variety of reasons. Mostly so I have at least one to take home if I decide to smoke one at the event, where it’s hard to fairly judge a cigar, and because ya can’t buy just one, am I right? Anyway, another winner from the Iconic Nat Sherman.

 

NatSherman_MetropolitanHabano_ToroI love watching hockey, but I hate  Saturday and Sunday afternoon games as they seem to get in the way of getting things done. I suppose I should embrace them as an excuse to relax on the weekend afternoons, which is why I grabbed a cigar and the tablet and watched the game on the back porch (which has been enclosed for the winter). Continuing the theme, I selected a Nat Sherman Metropolitan Habano toro. The Metropolitan series comes in Habano, Maduro and Connecticut, with the later two being made in the Dominican Republic, and this Habano from Nicaragua. I broke tradition and chose this over the Maduro, as it just looked so good and I really wanted to smoke it.  I’d save the Maduro for later. The Metropolitan Habano was my favorite so far. It had a great sweet, medium bodied flavor and hit me just right. I think these are priced in the $6 range too and worth every penny. This is one of those cigars that I would buy two of for every one $12 cigar all day long. It burned perfectly and lasted through the second period and half way through the third. Good game, great cigar.

 

NatSherman_MetropolitanMaduro_UniversityFinally I got around to that Metropolitan Maduro for my evening walk. This one has a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, comes in about eight sizes consistent in shapes and names with the Connecticut shade counterpart. I selected the 6″ x 50 University. This cigar was on the milder side of medium, and it had more of a savory maduro flavor than the sweet. It was different enough to be interesting and pleasurable, but perhaps would be better suited to warmer weather. Again the construction was great and it burned with the nice flat burn that I appreciate as all the components are burning at the same rate. Perhaps I should have stuck to my maduro first tradition as this cigar might have been better earlier in the day, but that Habano was so good…

 

So it’s been brought to my attention that I am a little late to be trying to organize a Secret Santa, but, I’m an optimist, and if anyone is interested in participating, e-mail me (craig@cigarcraig.com) your mailing address before Sunday, December 11, 2016 and I’ll match people up and send out assignments ASAP. We’ll keep it simple, four cigars, with no expectation of having it delivered by Dec. 25, we’ll shoot for New Years. We can still have some fun with this, how’s that sound? I do have a couple of tricks up my sleeve for some giveaways, so don’t despair! 

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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