When we heard about the Nica Rustica Belly Release Party put on by Cox’s Smokers Outlet in Lousiville, Kentucky, my wife realized it fell the night before she was planning a silent retreat at the nearby Abbey of Gethsemani. She suggested I take a couple days off work and drive there with her, then fly back the next day. We set out Thursday around 4:30 in the morning and made the ten-plus hour drive. Once we checked in to our hotel, took a power nap, and refreshed from the drive, we headed over to J. Shepherd Cigars for a little pregame. They were having a bit of an event, with specials on Drew Estate, Viaje and Leccia cigars, so I bought a few Viaje’s since I really haven’t jumped into the Viaje pool yet, just dipped a toe in here and there. I got a couple Oro Reserva and a couple Summerfests and we hung out on the front porch. I lit up one of the Summerfests and couldn’t complain about it. It was a nice, medium bodies cigar, which was good, because we hadn’t really eaten a whole lot all day, choosing to snack in the car as opposed to wasting time stopping for food. It’s fortunate that it was a beautiful day, as there is no indoor smoking allowed in Louisville! The J Shepherd show was nice enough, although it looked like either they recent;y moved in, of just got a shipment, as there were boxes on the one side of the store. The walk in humidor was large and had a nice selection of boutique cigars, and some items were priced higher than I’m used to (I’m spoiled in PA, no cigar tax), but some items were inexplicable close to what I see here. We met a couple people on the front porch while I enjoyed that Viaje Summerfest, a couple guys we saw later at the event, and Mike, a very friendly and hospitable local who we really had a nice conversation with. He even set us up with a rootbeer and cream soda, as we abstain from the generously offered Bourbon. I’m told that J. Shepherd is the best shop in the area, and, at the risk of offending the owner, who wasn’t there at the time, it really could be a lot less cluttered and better organized, as I was a little glad that we had to go outside to smoke, and the gentlemen we met were very friendly.
From there we went to Louisville Water Tower Park, an 1860 era water works along the Ohio River. What a beautiful venue, and the weather couldn’t have been better. Jonathan Drew was there well before the 7:00 PM start time, and the line was already growing. The unfortunate part of this event was that the first two hours or more was just people standing in line to talk to JD. We got through the line early, and of course we got a chance to visit with Gary (JD’s dad), Pedro Gomez, and Zev and Ben from the DE sales force. With the $35 ticket price we each got a Nica Rustica Belly, and Undercrown Toro and a Kentucky Fire Cured Hamhock, as well as an Undercrown Manifesto, along with a dinner of Nicaraguan fare, short ribs, pork, rice, beans, etc. The food was delicious, and we got to chat with some of the locals, including Tom Person from Commonwealth Cedar Spills. They also had a wide variety of Drew Estate cigars available for sale, including bundles of the new Belly, which I took advantage of the opportunity and purchased. Every purchase received a raffle ticket, and the evening concluded, like at many events, with a raffle. Many of the prizes were shirts, hats and cutters, with some ashtrays (my name was drawn for one of those big, pewter MUWAT ashtrays, which will class up the patio smoking lounge. The big prizes were a box of Pappy VanWinkle cigars and one of two existing boxes of the Nasty Fritas, the Papas Fritas mixed fill blend in their little cone shaped Nasty size. JD added one last prize at the end, which was a shirt, a cutter and the winners choice of any box in the DE line (I wonder if the winner of that knew about the 100 count Liga Privada No.9 Parejo boxes?) Cox’s Smokers Outlet did a great job of putting this event together. Despite costing me a bunch of cash (CAD: Cigar Acquisition Disorder. I need to find a treatment program…), it was an excellent event, I’m quite glad we made the trip.
Yesterday I swung by The Wooden Indian in Havertown, PA, where they were celebrating their 10th Anniversary. Nick Perdomo Jr., his son Nick III, and Joe Winder from Perdomo Cigars were on hand, as well as Rich from Xikar, Kosta from SMoKE Manayunk, Alex Mayer from House of Emilio, and Alan Price from Cigar Rights of America. It was quite the turnout for one of the best shops in the Philadelphia area. Dave and his staff do a great job. I smoked one of the Perdomo Double Aged 12 Year Vintage Maduro since I hadn’t tried that before. This cigar is another barrel aged cigar, which is one of the trendy catch phrases in the cigar industry today. It was a very good smoke, rich, sweet and chocolaty/coffee flavors that I enjoy, and perfectly made. Since there was a Buy 4, get 1 promotion, I had to pick up some of the Perdomo 20th Anniversary Maduros in the Corona Grande size that I like so much (and enjoyed on my evening walk later). Once again, CAD rears it’s ugly head. Congrats to Dave and the Wooden Indian family on their first decade, and I hope I can be at the 20th anniversary celebration.
That’s it for today, it’s been a long week of travel and herfing. Time to get some work done around the house and get ready to start smoking samples from the IPCPR show and posting about them. On that note, I did smoke a few show samples this week that deserve mention. The CAO Flathead Steel Horse: The Flathead blend in the round, in a 5½” 58, is a wonderful addition to a tasty line. Thesample I smoked was ready to go, burned great, tasted great. Like the rest of the line, a large bore punch is the way to go as the cap is flat and doesn’t play well with other cutter styles. Freyja from La Cumbres Tobacco: This toro from Emma Viktorsson is sneaky, it starts mild and before I knew it I was feeling the effects. Great flavor and performance. A must-try. Finally, the Undercrown Shade: This is a terrific Connecticut shade wrapped cigar. There are a bunch of full flavored shade wrapped cigars out there and this is another one. Great cigar, but I didn’t really find it to be much different than some other great cigars in that category. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great cigar, it’s just hard to find much unique about it. I’d buy it over many in that genre.
Until the next time,