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A Monster for Halloween, a Case Study and Ventura News

Last night was Halloween, the night I enjoy sitting on the front porch with a cigar handing out candy. I used to enjoy walking around the neighborhood taking my kids trick-or-treating, but those days are long gone. Last night I chose the Tatuaje Monster Series cigar from last year, the Krueger, a 7¼” x 48 box pressed torpedo with a KruegerMexican San Andrés wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and fillers. This was a lovely cigar, and it was hard leaving it sit in the humidor for a year. I’ve only smoked a few of the Monsters, so far I think this was the one I enjoyed the most. I started it out in my usual way, taking Macha for a quick walk before all the kids started roaming the streets. I like to keep cigars like this in my New Air humidor, all my humidors work well, and I smoke out of all of them regularly I just like the peace of mind of the temperature control feature for cigars I’m not going to see very often. I also go in that one less than the others. Anyway, the cigar was great, rich, medium bodied and a little dirty, which I like. It’s not without some sweetness, starting with a little pepper, and building in strength, although never getting too much past medium. Good smoke, I don’t normally seek these out, but I’ll pick one up if I have the chance. I’ll have to see if I can get a hold of the latest version (the Michael?  I could look it up, but the Flyers are on and I want to finish this up!). The Krueger met my expectations, it was a great two-plus hour smoke great for handing out candy on Halloween.

 

Today I awoke to the news that Michael Giannini is now the Creative Director and brand ambassador for Ventura Cigars. I’ve known Michael for a long time, he’s one of my favorite people in the cigar business. I was sad when it was announced last year that he was no longer with General Cigars. I loved a lot of the Foundry cigars he worked on, and my affinity for La Gloria Cubana cigars is fairly well-known. As a matter of fact, I asked Ernesto Carillo about Michael when I saw him a couple of weeks ago, as they worked closely together after General purchased La Gloria.  Ironically, I’ve been a fan of the Ventura offerings since smoking a Psyko Seven when I was a guest on The Cigar Authority show back in 2013. I have a good deal of Ventura and Psyko Seven swag, including a humidor. I consider myself a fan, even more so now that Michael is involved.  I’m very excited to see what he does with the company. Ventura is owned by Kretek International, a very large company, which Michael is used to. Good luck, my friend!

 

CaseStudy_CS05_54In honor of today’s news, I selected a cigar from Ventura for my evening walk.  At the IPCPR show they were showing their Case Study series. This is a series of 26 small batch and limited editions, made by what they term as famous cigar makers. This reminds me of what folks like Robert Caldwell and Tony Bellato did with their Lost and Found line, finding batches of cigars sitting in major manufacturers aging rooms and selling them as one time releases. Whether this is actually the case or not, I don’t know, it’s just the way I see it. Anyway, the one I chose was a 5¾”x54 labeled CS/05 with the black band signifying it’s a limited edition. The only blend info listed is that it has an Oscuro Nicaraguan Habano wrapper. I recommend trying this cigar if you like cigars that I like! This was a winner for me, dark, rich flavor, a perfect burn and draw and a cigar I smoked down to the tiniest of nubs. I would pick up this cigar again, and would love to get some in the 6¾”x52 size in hopes of getting more of a good thing. Really a yummy cigar. I’ve felt like I wanted to smoke from a relatively small selection of cigars lately, probably the time of year, but this one might have gotten me out of my funk a little.

 

That’s enough for now, time to watch some hockey. 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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Umbagog and Tatuaje Pudgy Monsters Cigars and Fratello News

UmbagogLast week I bought some of the Fratello Fire Crackers from 2 Guys Cigars when they went on sale, and while I was at it, I added a few of Steve Saka’s Umbagog Corona Gordas to my order as I was itching to try them out. The Umbagog is almost the same blend as the Mi Querida, utilizing Connecticut Broadleaf wrappers that  weren’t as pretty (in Steve’e estimation, who else could tell?) as the wrappers on the Mi Querida. I love the Mi Querida, so chances were good that this was a safe buy. The advantage is that the Umbagog is a little less expensive, although I would be hard pressed to tell the difference in a blind tasting. Like the Mi Querida, the Umbagog is made in the NACSA factory in Nicaragua. I mistakenly thought I got the Toro Toro, but upon reflection, I had the Corona Gorda, I thought it looked thinner than the Ancho Larga in its sister line. The Corona Gorda is 6″ x 48, which ten years ago would have been a toro for the most part. It had one of the better burns I’ve had in a non-Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust cigar, they all seem to burn perfectly, which goes along with Steve’s Puros sin Compomiso mantra. It was loaded with sweet espresso and cocoa flavors that I enjoy, and, with the exception of its plain band and odd name, was as great a cigar as I’ve smoked. I’m waiting for the right time (and company) to smoke the Muestra de Saka I have, and continue to gravitate toward a cigar from this company when I want a sure thing.  The Umbagog is a winner, pick them up when you can as they are limited to the “reject” wrappers!

 

Tatuaje_PudgyWolfTonight I grabbed one of the Tatuaje Pudgy Monsters that was in the Oh F*ck I’m Lost pack I got at an event a while back. I had the Drac and the Wolf to choose from and went with the Wolf. I’ve smoked the Wolfman, the 7½” x 54 big old torpedo with the shaggy foot that I want to say was the fourth release in the Monster series back in 2011?  The Pudgy Monsters version is a 5½” x 52 belicoso with the same shaggy foot, that is the wrapper is cut back a half-inch from the end. It’s fun the be able to taste when the wrapper flavor kicks in and understand how much that thin leaf adds to the flavor. This one has an Ecuador Sumatra wrapper, and the rest is Nicaraguan. I remember really enjoying the larger format (TY to Will Cooper, I think it was in a sampler he sent for my 50th birthday, which was a handful of years ago now!). This one had a smooth, nutty, grain flavor with some mellow coffee in the second half and was a really flavorful and pleasing cigar. Burn was flawless. Dammit, now I’m going to have to keep an eye out for more of these, I suspect the samplers are still around, but I’d certainly buy a few of these if they were available singly, which I don’t guess they are. I’m doing pretty good this week, two spectacular cigars!

 

I mentioned the Fratello Firecracker earlier, this is a 3″x 50 format with a long pigtail “fuse” that is a 2 Guys exclusive, and every year it’s made by someone else, Don Pepin Garcia, La Flor Dominicana, RoMaCraft…this year’s is made by Fratello. These usually are a strong blend, I’ve smoked the LFD and Cromagnon versions and look forward to trying Omar’s version, I’m sure it’ll be great. But Omar de Frias has a new Fratello cigar debuting at the IPCPR show that sounds interesting. This one is called the Fratello Naveta, which is Italian for “shuttle” and is a nod to his years at NASA (where he makes a space shuttle look small).

“Blending Fratello Naveta was special as I wanted to translate the ultimate celebration our men and women of the space program felt after a successful mission”. “After being part of over 21 missions nothing beats the feeling of getting our astronauts home safe to their families” said de Frias.

“Colleagues of mine would get together and smoke a very special cigar to commemorate the occasion. This very special blend carries the ultimate feeling of innovation, duty, honor and success” said de Frias.

Fratello_NavettaBlended with an Ecuador oscuro wrapper the blend will be featured in 4 vitolas.

– Robusto Discovery (5 x 50) 10.50

– Toro Endeavor (6 ¼ x 54) 11.25

– Gordo Enterprise (6 x 60) 12.00

– The Boxer Atlantis (6 ¼ x 52) 12.50

Fratello Navetta will be manufactured at Joya de Nicaragua and will be available for shipment in September. Omar de Frias worked at NASA for 12 years prior to leaving to focus full-time on Fratello.

 

I’m looking forward to trying this one!  The presentation looks great!  I’ll get to the Firecrackers in the coming weeks.

 

That’s all for me for tonight, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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A Mi Querida and a Philly Cigar Festival Contest Announcement

Mi Querida Ancho Corta - @stevesakaIt’s a short one tonight! Got a late start due to stopping to give blood on the way home, something I do because I can, it’s the very least I can do to help someone, and my father was a long time donor and hes not here to do it anymore. Of course, they say no smoking for an hour, so I came home and had some dinner and did some yard work before sparking up a Mi Querida Ancho Corta, the robusto in the line. This 5″ x 52 robusto smokes a long time for a smallish vitola, by the time I got done game 7 of the Penguins/Capitals series was well underway. I hate rooting for either team, but I can’t stand the Penguins, so I have to go with the Caps…fingers crossed. Anyway, the Mi Querida is a fantastic Broadleaf wrapped cigar that is a great  bang for the buck in that it’s not inexpensive, but it is well worth it for the flavor and smoking time.  I had said that I was going to stick to familiar cigars this week as I had some dental work done Monday, which went well, thank you for the comments. I smoked a RoMEo 505 and a Perdomo Habano Maduro also this week which I enjoyed a lot, although in the case of the Perdomo, I like the 20th Anniversary Maduro more. It’s been a pretty good week so far, all things considered.

 

Contest!

In Sunday’s post I said I was going to pick a winner tonight, but I lied…er…changed my mind.  I’m going to let the contest run until Sunday.  Head back to the last post (here’s a link to make it easy), and enter for a chance to win a ticket to the Philly Cigar Festival on June 3rd. I’m sad I won’t be able to attend, but someone should go in my place and have a great time!

 

Finally, if you live in Pennsylvania, our lovely legislators are trying again to ban smoking in cigar stores, cigar bars, etc. so get on your state rep and senator to oppose this infringement on our rights and the rights of small businesses (and some large ones) to make a living. I pointed out that it’s anti small business, and just wrong. Seriously, how is a cigar bar supposed to stay open if one can’t smoke? Here is the state’s Find Your Legislator page to help you to find your guys and let them know what you think (in a respectful and logical manner).

 

That’s enough for tonight, gotta watch the end of game 7….until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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An New H. Upmann, Some News, a Discount and Another Philly Cigar Festival Contest!

HUpmannAJFernandez_RobustoI’ve been a little behind on my cigar consumption this week, I did manage to smoke a really nice Joya de Nicaragua Cabinetta No. 60, a cool 6″x 60 perfecto that was really good. this afternoon after getting some things done around the house and yard, I sat down with a new offering from H. Upmann, a robusto made by AJ Fernandez and it’s called H. Upmann by AJ Fernandez. What a crazy name!  It’s made in Nicaragua, has an Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper with a Nicaraguan Corojo ’99 binder and fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. This cigar was very firm to the touch, which gave me some concern, but it had an effortless draw and burned perfectly.  It had what I consider as dark flavors, which I like, as well as a unique spice that I can’t name. It was an intriguing cigar, finally an H.Upmann I like! This is an interesting personal trend, I’ve been underwhelmed by many Altadis products, with some exceptions, but the newer lines especially the ones made in Nicaragua, have been up my alley. The new RoMEo 505 (Placencia) and the Gispert Intenso (AJ Fernandez) have impressed me.

 

My friends at 2 Guys Smoke Shop have revamped their website this week, I’ve included the press release verbatim here, largely out of laziness. Dave Garofalo was one of the first retailers with an online presence back in the ’90s when the internet was a wild and untamed place. It looks a lot better now!

2GuysCigars.com Launches Re-Designed Online Cigar Shopping Website

2guys

2GuysCigars.com operates a long-running online mail order business distributing premium cigars all over the country. The company recently launched an updated version of the eCommerce website to provide online cigar shoppers with an improved cigar buying experience.

 

The new and improved website features a clean and modern design, with vibrant images and easy-to-use navigation. The mobile browsing experience was especially improved, the new fully responsive design provides cigar lovers with the ability to take full advantage of all site features from any mobile device. Cigar lovers will quickly be able to browse sections that feature the site’s massive premium cigar selection as well as finding sections dedicated to cigar sampler packs, cigar accessories, budget cigars, and the newest items in the company’s inventory. The site also highlights the large number of premium cigar brands that are exclusively available from 2GuysCigars.com, allowing them to easily identify and purchase cigars that are unavailable anywhere else.

 

“Even after over 30 years in the cigar business, I’m always looking for ways to improve” said 2GuysCigars.com Owner David Garofalo. “Innovation has always been a big part of the cigar industry, and anyone who isn’t moving forward is falling behind. Our customers loved our old website, but we’ve kept the stuff that made that site awesome while making improvements we think they’re going to like even more. Additionally, with so much of our web traffic coming from mobile devices, we decided to incorporate what I think is the best mobile cigar shopping experience available online today. This new site is something I’m proud to share with our loyal customers, and I want them all to know that in addition to our new site we have many more exciting things in store for them in 2017 and beyond!”

 

The company recently exited the testing phase of the new website and since the switch to the new and improved 2GuysCigars.com, they are reporting significant improvements in a number of key visitor statistics that indicate visitors are already enjoying the new design. In addition to the new site launch, 2GuysCigars.com has added of a number of new premium cigars to their extensive inventory, most recently Tatuaje Monsters, The Angel’s Anvil by Crowned Heads, Serino Royale and Eiroa 20 Year Colorado.

 

To check out the one of the best online retailers visit www.2guyscigars.com or call 888-224-4272.

 

 

I have to find my Stage V Clinger and put it in my pocket tomorrow as I might need it when I’m out and about, but the folks there e-mailed me this week to let me know that me talking about their cigar holder has produced some buzz for them! That’s nice to hear, because I want all the cigars and accessories I talk about here to succeed, because I generally believe in the items I feature here, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t write about them or use them! So, as a thank you, they are offering a special Father’s Day promo code “StageVdad” for $5 off a 4-pack. The special offer can be redeemed right on the Stage V website from May 11-June 11. So if you golf, or just need an extra hand now and then, this is a good product to have!

 

Contest!

The Philly Cigar Festival is fast approaching on  June 3, 2017 and being held in Pottstown, Pennsylvania from 11:00am to 4:30pm at The Norco Fairgrounds. Unfortunately, a scheduling conflict is preventing me from attending this, much to my disappointment. My loss is one of your gains though, as the organizers have authorized me to have another contest and give away my ticket! Of course, the winners are under no obligation to do this, but I’d be more than happy to publish a guest post from one of them (or anyone who attends for that matter), after the event. Again, just putting it out there, no pressure! This is a multi-vendor event, with cigars, beer, food and drink and representatives from thirty cigar companies, . Ticket prices run $150 and $200 and covers a bunch of cigars (the FDA no longer allows cigars to be given away). There are a couple of rules, first is you must be 21, and the other is that this giveaway covers the ticket only, you are responsible for getting there. I understand that this will exclude some of you. Cigars for Warriors will be represented and will be benefiting from the event. So leave a comment to enter and since the event coming up soon, this will be a quick contest, I’ll announce a winner on Sunday, May 14, 2017 (yeah, it’s Mother’s Day…) and I’ll need the winner to contact me so I can send your info to the organizers.  Thanks again to the Philly Cigar Festival, I wish I could make it!

 

That’s all for now. Having some dental work done tomorrow, so it may be a slow week cigar-wise. It’ll probably be old favorites if it’s anything, not sure how I’ll feel this time around.  Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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