This is my last video from the IPCPR show, I had the opportunity to sit down for a few minutes with Mariah Ditkowich, the new face of La Sirena Cigars. What has been announced since the show is that Mariah’s sister, Arielle, who founded the brand in 2008 with Nestor Miranda and Miami Cigar and Company, along with her husband, Max, is expecting their first child later in the year. I’ve been a fan of the whole portfolio for a lot of years, from the original La Sirena made by Don Pepin Garcia, then by La Zona, the Merlion made by La Aurora, and the Oceano made by the Quesadas. While they didn’t have anything new at the show this year, Mariah, along with her mother and father were manning the booth. Give the video a watch, it’s already my most watched video from the 2017 show, and number six on the all time list on my YouTube Channel. Of course, best wishes to Arielle and Max, and continued good luck to the folks at La Sirena, a great family run cigar company!
I’m down to my last couple videos to post from the IPCPR show, and realized that I hadn’t posted the video with one of my biggest best friends from the cigar industry, Fratello Cigar‘s Omar de Frias. So tonight I grabbed a Fratello Bianco the Boxer for my evening walk. You may recall this cigar was one of my favorite cigar from 2016, and it remains so, it’s a great smoke, it has a Mexican San Andrés wrapper, Dominican binder and fillers from the USA, Nicaragua and Peru made at the Joya de Nicaragua factory. It’s rich and chocolaty with some spice and I really like it. The rest of the line is great, as are all of the Fratello cigars. I especially look forward to trying the Oro in The Boxer shape, as well as the new cigar Omar showed at the IPCPR show, the Navetta, which he tells us about in the video. Navetta is “shuttle” in Italian, and it pays homage to Omar’s career with NASA and all the shuttle missions of which he was a part. If you ever have a chance to meet Omar at an event near you, run, don’t walk, to the event and spend a few minutes talking to this super-cool dude.
this was the display, not the retail packaging….sadly…
Speaking of Big….don’t forget to go back to Friday’s contest post and leave a comment for a chance to win some Big Papi cigars from the folks at El Artista! Contest ends Friday!
Any time I have the chance to visit with my friend Enrique Sanchez from Global Premium/1502 Cigars is a good time, and I had to stop by and hang out with him at his booth at the IPCPR show. Don’t let anyone tell you stories about where the name 1502 came from, it’s because 1501 was taken, not the year that Columbus “discovered” Nicaragua. Enrique had a small booth adjacent to Island Jim’s booth, as he recently changed his distribution to the group handling the Leaf by Oscar, Island Jim, Oscar by Oscar and others. I managed to mooch a 1502 Blue Sapphire from Enrique at the show, which I smoked last night. One thing I noticed about this cigar that was difference from his Ruby, Emerald and Black Gold was the lack of his patented “flavor-lock” foot, where there is a fold of the wrapper covering the edges of the foot, it’s not a closed foot, but the wrapper leaf is somehow cut about an eighth of an inch longer and carefully folded around the foot. I’ll have to find some of these locally to see if the production cigars have this or not, and, after smoking the Blue Sapphire, I will be looking for more to have on hand. This is a 6″x 52 toro, which he calls Toro Gordo, but most Toros seem to be 6″ x 52 any more. It’s a Nicaraguan puro, and is a very tasty cigar. It’s similar to the others in the line in that it burns perfectly, but the flavor is quite different. It has some woody flavors, some cocoa and earthiness and is quite a nice smoke that builds in intensity. The other major difference is that this cigar is round, not box pressed like the rest of the line. Perhaps this explains the lack of the extended wrapper? I really enjoyed this, and will be picking up some more as soon as possible. If you ever get the chance to meet Enrique, do it, he’s cooler than the other side of the pillow, and he, with the help of his friends at Placencia, makes some great cigars. Check out my short video with Enrique from the IPCPR show below, and “Relax and Enjoy” a 1502 cigar!
Yesterday I had the pleasure of joining about 650 folks at Drew Estate‘s annual Connecticut River Valley Barn Smoker. This takes place at the Foster Family Farm in South Windsor, Connecticut. This is one of the farms where the Liga Privada T-52 wrapper leaf is grown. The event was from 10am to 5pm, and included a four station educational tour which included the curing barn, where Jonathan Drew talked about the differences between processing the stalk cut tobacco in Connecticut and the way they do it in Nicaragua. Another station had Pedro Gomez talking about the seeds and seedlings, the third had Willy Herrera and Henry talking about blending, and the fourth had the owners of the farm discussing the crop in the field there, and the sad fact that once in a while a hail storm comes through and ruins the whole crop. Videos and photos are included below. After the tour, it was time to eat, and a very nice lunch was catered by Bears’s Smokehouse which consisted of Barbecue pork and beef brisket, slaw, beans, mac and cheese and rolls which was delicious. There was also craft beer on hand, I don’t drink, so I didn’t take notice of the details, and samplings of John Drew Brands spirits. After the food was served, they had raffle drawings and an auction with proceeds going to Operation: Cigars For Warriors, for which they raised over $16,000! This was a great event, with your admission you were able to purchase a pack of ten cigars, which cost $10 at the door, since FDA regulations say they can’t “give away” cigars, clever work around. The cigars included a Liga Privada “A”, a Liga Privada Velvet Rat, a Liga Privada No. 9, a Liga Privada T52, a Nica Rustica El Brujito, an Undercrown toro, a FSG toro, a Kentucky Fire Cured Flying Pig, a Herrera Estali, and a Pappy Van Winkle. I took a few of my own and enjoyed an Undercrown toro and a Nica Rustica El Brujito at the event. Afterwards some folks met up at Puros Cigar Shop in East Hartford where some more fraternization occurred. I had the pleasure of hanging out with my friends Brian and Vince from BnB Cigars in Chestnut Hill, PA, and I also so several people I knew from the Philadelphia area. A good time was had by all, the weather was great, and the event was well done! Thanks to Joe at Drew Estate for inviting me, it was great seeing all my Drew Estate friends!
Every once in a while Facebook chastises me for not posting enough on the CigarCraig.com Facebook Page. It’s funny, I post twice a week when I update here, but I guess FB is looking for interaction. SO I took the opportunity to ask what I should smoke Friday night, and offered a prize to the person whose advice I followed. There were some great suggestions I really wanted to go with, but I didn’t have and El Rico Habanos on hand (an old favorite), nor could I find the new Enclave Broadleaf from AJ Fernandez. Mike Weinstein suggested the Tabernacle from Nick Melillo’s Foundation Cigar Company, and I selected the Lancero for my evening smoke. I really love the Tabernacle line, it has a great Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper with Nicaraguan fillers and smoked perfectly. The narrow ring gauge intensified the Broadleaf flavor, and slow smoking produced tons of rich, sweet smoke. Happy and sad at the same time that I only bought two of these, but it was the last two, so I didn’t have much choice. Tabernacle is a great cigar, thanks to Mike W for the inspiration, I’ll get some goodies out to you this week!
At the IPCPR show I visited Nick at his booth, which won the award for the best medium-sized booth, and we did a little video presented below for your enjoyment. He was displaying the new The Wise Man Maduro, simplifying the name from El Güegüense, which I guess the masses had trouble with. He also had the Highclere Castle on display, as well as the Special El Güegüense Humidor that he shows in the video. I didn’t receive any samples, but will certainly be buying some Wise Man Maduros when I see them. I did come across a Charter Oak Connecticut Shade from last year’s show and smoked that yesterday, boy what a great little cigar in the 4½ x 50 Rothchild size. These are priced from $4-6 and are exceptional values. The burn was great, the smoke had a nice, sweet nutty flavor and it was perfect for the early afternoon. Smooth, creamy and tasty. Not real pretty, but great tasting, and the closed foot is a nice touch. For what it’s worth, I had a couple of the Upsetters line from last year’s show that I could have chosen, I’m just always leery of the infused cigars. One of these days I’ll work up the courage…
Next Saturday I’m fortunate enough to attend Drew Estate‘s Connecticut Barn Smoker, the first of these events I’ve attended. I’m looking forward to learning more about the way tobacco is farmed in Connecticut, I’ve seen farms in Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, and burly tobacco farms in Lancaster County, but haven’t been to a farm in Connecticut. I’m looking forward to the experience and will take plenty of video and pictures to share with you. I figured I better try some of Drew Estate’s new offerings and had to sample the Undercrown Sungrown as I’ve heard great things about it. I’ll say right now, based on one sample, this may be my favorite in the Undercrown range, and I really like the maduro and Shade varieties a lot. It has a flawless milk chocolate-brown Ecuador Sumatra wrapper, Stalk Cut Connecticut grown Habano (like the T-52 wrapper), and Nicaraguan fillers. Besides this being one sexy looking cigar, it tastes friggin great! It had a nice, warm bread sensation, with some sweetness and a hint of pepper. I only came home from the show with a couple of these, but I will be putting more in my humidors as this is wonderful cigar. I look forward to trying other sizes. Willy Herrera and his team killed it with this one. Very impressive.
Check out the video with Nick, once again, terrible camera work by me, but great content from Nick! I need to look into one of those stabilizing gimbal camera holders I guess.