Galano Primero Cigars from Ybor City

Galano Cigars is a boutique manufacturer in Ybor City, Florida that makes handmade cigars in several varieties. They have a Classico line, with a Connecticut shade wrapped robusto and Toro and Torpedos with a natural wrapper. They have the Selecto line, same sizes with a Habano wrapper. Then at the top of the scale is the Primero, the extremely limited toro that’s 6½” x 52 or 54 with a pigtail and packaged in nifty clear plastic boxes. I was the fortunate recipient of some of the Primeros, and smoked one the other night. These are limited to 2500 cigars,  and have a very rustic Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper finished with a pigtail with, due to the way they are packaged, is squished flat, giving the appearance of a cigar that hasn’t had a cap applied. It pops up with a little coaxing. The PA wrapper is the only detail available, I did a lot of searching and didn’t find a lot out about this line at all, except what they present on their website. As a matter of fact, I searched cigar-coop.com and halfwheel.com for “Galano” and came up with nothing on either site. I must have the exclusive!

Galano_PrimeroI categorize the Galano Primero as a maduro cigar, which is a good cold-weather choice for me, and I love the PA Broadleaf. I have to assume the filler of this cigar is Nicaraguan, that’s the vibe I got anyway. For a super-premium cigar at a very high price, I wonder about using what many would say is an ugly wrapper, it certainly doesn’t look the part of a refined and elegant $20+ cigar. It is made in the US, and it is very limited,  which I’m sure plays into the price. I’ve come across other US-based boutiques with high price tags, the Marcus Daniel line comes to mind. I give full credit to the torcedors for the perfect construction and draw on this cigar, and it has loads of great flavor. Dark, lush flavors with a bunch of sweet spice, dark fruit, coffee and cocoa. I loved it, it was really quite good, and I’ll definitely smoke it again. I’m not sure I wouldn’t buy three Nica Rusticas, or a bunch of other mid-priced cigars, over one of these, but it’s certainly a cigar worth trying and enjoying.  I’m appreciative of the opportunity, this cigar is worthy of recognition. This factory is now on my list of places to visit the next time I find myself in Ybor City (which will be the first time!).

 

That’s all for now, I’m trying to decide if I want to go to a cigar event tomorrow night or not. I’ve got the winter blues I guess, and my back porch is quite comfortable with the propane heater, going out after a long day at work is something I really have to talk myself into. Anyway, that’s all for now, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

 

 

 

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Charter Oak, Oceano and 1881 Perique Bold Cigars

I know, I slacked off and didn’t write a mid-week post! Seems traveling to California in the winter increases the likelihood that one will get a cold, and I’ve been plagued with an annoying sinus thing this week. When that happens there’s no use trying new cigars and having any hope of giving them a fair assessment. When I do feel up to a smoke, I generally select something  familiar and plentiful, the lone Partagas 150 from the ’90s in my humidor is just going to have to continue to sit for a while longer. That being typed, I did smoke a couple of cigars that were new to me this week on my better days.  The first of these was  the Charter Oak Connecticut Broadleaf CharterOak_CTBroadleaf_Rothchildfrom Foundation Cigar Co. in the Rothchild size.  This was a sample from the IPCPR show last July, so it’s been resting comfortable ever since, along with its sibling with the Connecticut shade wrapper. These have a covered foot, which gives a blast of flavor on the light, that is, if you skip the usual toasting part and just go for it. This is a cigar I want to smoke again, honestly, I hadn’t smoked it until now because of its short stature, but it fit into my time schedule this week. It had some horsepower to it, with lots of rich flavors of strong, black coffee. I think I expected more of a mellow hot cocoa in this one, but was surprised and delighted. Now I’m very interested in trying the Connecticut Shade variant. I believe these are reasonably priced, making them a no-brainer. I still have some of Nick Melillo’s Upsetters to try, I admit I’m not as excited about those as his traditional lines.

 

Oceano by La Sirena_AtlanticThis next cigar falls into the “revisit” category, I cigar I really like, but have been waiting for the box to be “ready”. They are ready! The cigar is the Oceano by La Sirena in the Atlantic size.  I wrote about the Indian size in Prime Living Magazine back in the Jan/Feb 2015 issue (has it been two years?) and really took a liking to the blend, which is made at the Quesada’s factory in the Dominican Republic. It’s pretty potent for a Dominican cigar, it does have a Nicaraguan viso, but the majority, including the wrapper, is from the DR. When I first got this box a year ago they were on the wet side, the great flavor was there, but it took some coaxing to get out. These have settled nicely on the top shelf of the cabinet (furthest from the Cigar Oasis) and are now smoking really well.  The Atlantic is a huge belocoso, 7″ x 52, and I chose this size because I really like the Nica Rustica Belly in the same size, although that’s where the comparison ends. I like to have all different sizes available to me as the time I have available dictates the size cigar I smoke. This is a tasty combination of earth and spice, not at all what you’d expect, but delicious. I’m a fan of the La Sirena line, this one is near the top for me.

 

1881PeriqueBold_TorpeditoFinally, last night after a nice dinner out with my wife and son, I decided to give an 1881 Perique Bold Torpedito a try. I posted about Tabacalara Cigars in the Philippines in November, noted that I hadn’t been a fan of the Philippine cigars in the past, but their offerings changed my mind. So I ended up with some more to try from these guys, via their US distributor, Daughters and Ryan.  I picked out the 5″ x 54 figurado because I wanted a shorter smoke, and I still am not sure if this is the natural or maduro version. I thought it was the maduro, but the regular, non-bold, 1881 Perique Maduro has a secondary band saying “maduro”. I don;t care at this point, because it was damn tasty! It had that unique Perique spice with some more ooomph than the “normal” line. I was truly entertained for nearly an hour and a half by this well made, great tasting cigar. I hope these guys get some traction in the US market, because the cigars are good. It’s hard to get people to stray from what they know and try new things sometimes. There are some great cigars from places outside of Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominican Republic and Cuba (and the US, but I don’t feel like cigars that are made in the US, ie.: some Tatuajes, some La Palinas, etc. are perceived as US cigars). These cigars from the Philippines are tasty, and I love some cigars from Peru, Costa Rica and other places.

 

That’s all for now. Hopefully I won’t be a lazy slug again this week and skip my mid-week post.  Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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Cigars and Music: The NAMM Show in California and Boveda

I just got back from a few days in Anaheim, California where I didn’t get around to visiting any cigar shops, but I did run into the guys from Boveda.  I attended the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show at the convention center in Anaheim, CA, just a stones throw from Disneyland. Why did a cigar blogger go to a music convention, you ask? Well, my wife has a Beatles related blog (https://beatles-freak.com/) and asked for media passes and I went to the show with her. After several IPCPRs of dragging her around, it was time to put the shoe on the other foot. Obviously, this show was much larger than the IPCPR show, it was on four floors of the NAMMenormous convention center, as well as spilling into two of the adjacent hotels. Where the IPCPR is a show for the vendors to write orders, this is more of an expo of new and current products. All it took was an e-mail requesting press passes and we were in, no application process or annual dues. IPCPR could learn a thing or two about how to treat the media! At every turn there was someone playing an instrument, tapping on a cymbal, and impromptu drum battles broke out. Not a place to be if you’re sensitive to sound! There were also artists playing on various stages all over the place, as well as in vendors booths. We had the good fortune of watching Lawrence Juber, lead guitarist for Wings from ’78-’81)  play an amazing set. We ran into Rick Neilson of Cheap Trick on the show floor too, no telling how many other famous musicians we might have seen as many were incognito. I searched far and wide for cigar box guitars but didn’t find any, I saw parts to make them, but no finished product. No doubt they were there someplace.

 

Here’s just a couple of cool things that caught my eye at the NAMM show:

 

MermaidGuitarsteampunk drum standsSabian cymbal smith

 

 

Macanudo InspiradoI managed to smoke a few cigars while there too, mostly walking back to the hotel after dinner, which is my usual routine anyway. I stuck with smaller cigars, Wednesday smoking a Macanudo Inspirado Petit Piramide that I bought on my Iceland trip. This was said to be the best-selling cigar in the only cigar shop in Reykjavik, and it was reasonably priced by Iceland standards at around $8. It was a tasty little cigar, about half way in it changed flavors to an unusual flavor that I couldn’t put my finger on. I bought two, so I’ll give the other one a try another time and see if it smokes the same. I’m also looking forward to comparing it to the domestically released Inspirado Orange.

 

I had a couple other cigars too, but the weather was rainy (sheesh, we went to southern California to get away from the weather here, and it was cold and wet there!)  There was a cigar shop about two miles from the hotel that would have been an easy walk if we hadn’t been walking around all day. I had also hoped to get a chance to sit down and have a cigar with Jerry Goldenson, VP at KHS America, the parent company of Sonor and Mapex drums, Hohner harmonicas, etc. Jerry was the man behind Nick Perdomo’s new drum kit that was at the IPCPR show last year, and Rocky Patel’s conga bar stools in his Burn lounge, and a unique humidor/Cajon (box drum). Jerry is a huge cigar lover. There are rumors floating around that Nick Perdomo is interested in another drum set, this one an enormous kit with four bass drums! It was a rumor on the NAMM show floor, I can’t comment further than that!

Take a look at this short video of how Boveda‘s humidification technology isn’t just for cigars!

 

Contest!

Stage V ClingerWednesday I posted a contest for a Stage V Clinger cigar holder. There were only 22 entries, would it have been more if there were cigars included?  I guess it’s better odds, but I was a little disappointed with the turn out!  I plugged 22 into the random number generator and got 4 for the winner. It looks like KRUK was the winner!  Bryan, please send your address so I can pass it on to the folks at Stage V, so when the thaw comes to New England you’ll be ready for the links!  Thanks to Marissa and the folks at Stage V!

 

That’s it for now, time to get back in the swing of things after a vacation and get ready to start another work week! My back porch has been missing my cigar smoke too! Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

 

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La Gran Llave, Gurkha and Tatuaje, and a Stage V Clinger Contest!

LaGranLlave_TorpedoI’m getting ready to go away for a few days, so this will be early and brief!  I just want to touch on a few cigars I smoked this week so far, and have another little contest!  More on the trip when I get back.  Since it was in the cigar news last week that AJ Fernandez had acquired the La Gran Llave brand that they had been making for Michael Argenti I thought I’d revisit one of the box pressed torpedos that Michael had sent me last year when he launched the brand. There is no change in factory as the cigars were made by AJ Fernandez anyway, it seems that the company has been going crazy acquiring brands, also recently buying the Sosa brand, which had been made by Fuente for as long as I can remember. I really like the La Gran Llave Reserve, it’s a nice, sweet cigar with a beautiful San Andrés wrapper. The burn and draw were perfect and it was a satisfying smoke. I have a sampler with the other sizes that I will get to eventually, but this 6½ x 56 box pressed torpedo sets the bar pretty high. Jeff at my local JM Cigars recommended it to me to when I was there a couple of weeks ago and I passed as I had some in the humidor already. I failed to take note of the price, but I think the line ranges from $6-$9ish.

 

Gurkha_Cask BlendMonday I tried the Gurkha Cask Blend in the 6″ x 58 perfecto size, which came from the IPCPR show and has been resting in the humidor since July. This was a perfectly fine cigar, normal cigar taste that was neither offensive, nor exceptional. It seemed to have a Nomex wrapper, you  know, that stuff they wrap wires in so they don’t catch fire?  I had to refill the Tommy Bahama pocket lighter after I was done smoking it, because the darned thing wouldn’t stay lit!  I mentioned the storage before so you don’t think it was my fault, as I smoke from the same humidor all the time with no issues. Might have been a better cigar if it had burned right, but that part of the experience detracted from the overall enjoyment. Since its “wrapper, binder and filler are highly guarded proprietary secrets” I can only tell you it was made in the DR. If there was some booze component to it I have no frame of reference any more. When it burned, it wasn’t a bad cigar. I know many will say it was a Gurkha, what did I expect, but there are several cigars in the Gurkha portfolio that I think are quite good. It occurs to me that I smoked one of these in 2015 and didn’t seem to have the burn problems.

 

Tatuaje_Black_PetiteLanceroTonight,  since I’m on vacation for the rest of the week, I treated myself to a Tatuaje Black Label Petit Lancero, which I think was a gift from my amigo Goose at Goose’s Cigars in Limerick, PA. This is a 6″ x 38 cigar that was sans cello, and I’m weird, I like the protection of the cello in the humidor, I noticed this one had a chip in the wrapper at the foot, so it had to go! What a delightful cigar, thick, right smoke with sweet, earthy flavor that was terrifically satisfying for a rainy night while I was comfy in my enclosed porch. I used an 9.5mm punch (with is the Vansapproximate inside diameter of the ScrewPop punch, by the way) which is my go-to for a lancero. it was a completely yummy way to end the day and start the vacation. I also celebrated receiving my kid’s Christmas present to me today, an awesome pair of custom, one of a kind Vans!

 

Contest!

Stage V Clinger

Cigar not included. Actual color and branding may vary.

I slacked off on this one over the holidays, it was there for me to give away, and I failed. So you have a chance to win a Stage V Clinger cigar holder. I use one of these from time to time and find it to be a gentle way to hold a cigar on those occasions where a proper rest or ashtray isn’t available. This is designed for the golfer, but has many other applications. It has a strong pair of magnets, a hook and loop strap in case there’s no metal to “cling” to, and the jaws are gentle enough to not squish or damage the cigar. Leave a comment to enter, and I’ll announce a winner on Sunday. Thanks to Marissa at Stage V for offering this cool item.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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Cigar Federation’s The Collective, Leaf Maduro and Bobalu Doble Capa Cigars

Thursday was one of those days where through the course of the day I think  of a cigar I want to smoke in the evening, then forget bt the time I get home. I really should make a note to myself because it’s frustrating. Sometimes I remember as I’m rooting through this humidor or that, sometimes I don’t. Thursday I couldn’t remember. I came across the cigars that my not-so-secret Santa sent me and got me to thinking about him and how his recent surgery was  putting him on a cigar hiatus for a while, and figured smoking a cigar he gave me would be fitting. Of course, it could go the other way and seem like it was throwing it up in his face that he couldn’t enjoy a cigar, but I trusted that he’d appreciate the sentiment. Tangent: The Secret Santa we did with a few readers seemed to go well, there were only about ten participants, hopefully everyone felt good about the exchange?  The feedback I did receive was positive, and, in keeping with my experiences in cigar exchanges over the last 20 years, most cigar smokers have terrible math skills and can’t count. I know I have that problem. Anyway, if people enjoyed it, I’ll do it again next year and get an earlier start. Back to the cigar!  I smoked CigarFederation_The Collective The Collective, which was the first cigar from the social media site Cigar Federation. The Collective was blended by the guys at Ezra Zion Cigars, who founded Cigar Federation in 2011 and later sold it to Logan Lawler. the cigar is a box pressed toro, measuring 6¼ x 52 with a San Andrés claro wrapper and Nicaraguan fillers made at the Casa Fernandez factory in Miami. The production was limited to 250 boxes of 20, so I really felt fortunate to have been able to try this cigar. Too bad it sucked.  No, I’m kidding. It was the absolute polar opposite, it was a fantastic cigar!  I’m not sure if I remembered reading about this cigar a couple of years ago when it came out, but I kept thinking “Aganorsa” as I was smoking it, there was a unique flavor that I recall from some Casa Fernandez cigars present, it was loaded with flavor, and a very “clean” and refined cigar. Thank you George! (and Chris, and Kyle and Logan…). I’m sure these are rarer than hen’s teeth at this point, but worth trying if you have the chance.

 

LeafMaduroFriday I came across a Leaf by Oscar Maduro that looked like it needed to be smoked. This brand has really taken off from a house brand of Jim Robinson’s Leaf and Bean shop in Pittsburgh, to being on the shelves in something north of 400 stores. I think the reason it’s so popular is because it’s a really great cigar! Normally I’d lean towards the maduro, but I remembered that in this line of cigars, the maduro is near the bottom for me. It’s got a sour flavor that I don’t love, I actually like the Habano and Connecticut much more and have to remember that the next time I buy these. Don’t take this as a bash on the Maduro, it’s a terrific cigar if it works for your palate, the construction is awesome, and the Nicaraguan maduro wrapper is a thing of beauty once to peel away the tobacco leaf outer wrap (they use a leaf instead of cello). Also, this isn’t a great choice if you are a band collector, as they use a rough, homogenized tobacco paper which doesn’t come off in one piece. The plus side of the band is you can just smoke through it with no adverse effects. Oscar just released his own line, which I will pick up and try in the near future, it’s in a candela leaf outer cover, but isn’t a candela cigar. Leaf and Bean is on my list of shops to visit the next time I find myself in Pittsburgh.

 

Bobalu_DosCapa_toroSaturday I spent a lot of the day painting the newly drywalled living room, watching the Flyers lose, then watching the Flyers Alumni game against the Penguins Alumni, which was far more entertaining than the earlier game. To bring this on topic, Bernie Parent, who is a big cigar guy (BSB No.1 cigars by Rocky Patel), was in the broadcast booth in the third period and is hysterical, and Brian Propp, also a cigar guy,  played just a year and a half after suffering a stroke! I’ve featured both gentlemen on here in the past. So, logically, I should have selected a cigar from Bernie’s line to smoke, that would have made sense. I had my hand on one of his 40th anniversary cigars a couple of nights ago (the BSB No. 1 40th Anniversary cigars come in a box of twelve, with four each of three blends, the Vezina, the Conn Smythe and the Lord Stanley, celebrating the anniversary of Bernie winning all three of those awards in consecutive years, which has never been done before or since) but I decided against it. Instead, I selected a Bobalu Dos Capa toro, their barber-pole cigar. I bought a sampling of cigars from Bobalu a while ago, and this was a bonus that came with the purchase. I really like the Tres Capas, it’s a nice cigar, and this was pretty good too. It has  Connecticut and San Andrés wrappers applied in a spiral, so the flavors blend together well and make for a nice smoke. There’s the bit of a grassy flavor, along with the earthy sweetness of the Mexican maduro that is entertaining. Bobalu cigars are rolled in Austin Texas, making all three cigars featured here today having some US roots, an unintended coincidence.

 

If I may rant a bit on the above mentioned cigar maker…I was very close to not smoking the Bobalu cigar. I tend to avoid politics, for me it, like religion, is too divisive a subject to combine with  the relaxation that a cigar is supposed to give me. I received a relative deluge of e-mails from Bobalu Cigars advertising the cigar they created celebrating the President elect. I know that a lot of people in the cigar industry see the incoming president as their savior, and I hope that he does something about the onerous over-regulation that is being imposed upon the industry. I doubt it is a big enough blip on the radar for the administration to be concerned about, especially since it’s an unpopular product with well-funded opponents, and is one Mr. Trump doesn’t approve of anyway. My personal feeling is that electing a television personality makes us look foolish on the world stage, but it is what it is, and I am just hopeful that it all works out OK in the end. I suppose it did with Reagan, but he, at least, had some political experience. Anyway, my point is that I can do without the commemorative presidential cigar advertisements in my inbox, as it takes away from my personal enjoyment of the product. I’m sure I will be vilified for stating this, but that’s my opinion, feel free to disagree. I still like a lot of the cigars made at this factory and would visit if I find myself in  Austin, I just don’t need the political BS ruining my relaxing cigar time!

 

That’s more than enough from me, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

 

 

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