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,





Filed under News, Review

Diesel, H. Upmann, Hoyo and Enclave Cigars and Groovy Guy Gifts

Diesel_Grind_RobustoI got on another one of my thematic kicks this week, smoking cigars from different companies, all made at the same factory. Coincidentally, I generally enjoy cigars from this factory, which fits in with my desire to smoke cigars that I like! Hedonistic, I know, but I avoid eating food I don’t like, so smoking cigars I don’t like doesn’t make much sense. Fortunately, there don’t seem to be many cigars I just can’t stand, but there are cigars that hit my palate just right and I like spending my daily vacation time with. Anyway, I started this experiment with a Diesel Grind, which has been around for a while but, as of this year, is being distributed be General Cigar, where it was previously distributed by Meier & Dutch, which is owned by Scandinavian Tobacco, who owns General. It’s confusing, I know, but M&D is basically mail order for retailers, where distribution by General is supported in person by their excellent sales force. Anyway, I almost wasn’t going to even mention the Diesel, except it fit in with my theme. Not that it was a bad cigar, it wasn’t, it just didn’t “wow” me. It has a Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and filler, and was a great size for my late start, and watching the Flyers on the porch. The robusto is a shade under 5″ by 50 ring and the burn was perfect. For $6 this is a nice cigar, maybe my palate was off (I had attended a presentation earlier that evening that left a bad taste in my mouth!) I have some of the original Diesel Unholy Cocktails that I should revisit, I really liked that cigar, although I really never explored the whole line.


H.UpmannAJChurchillFriday I try to end the week with a cigar I really like, so I went with the new H. Upmann AJ Fernandez (are you catching on to the theme?). I had picked up a few in the Churchill size a month or two ago and have really enjoyed the blend. Unfortunately, there are precious few cigars in Altadis line that I really like. I’ve had abysmal luck with the Yarguera H.Upmann, and the Banker doesn’t do it for me. Havana H. Upmanns have been a different story. I do like a number of the Montecristos, especially the White Vintage Connecticut oddly enough. The new RoMEo 505 I really like, the rest of the line I can take or leave. I keep trying their cigar though. Anyway, the Upmann AJ Fernandez is really good, it appeals to me on several levels. the wrapper is Ecuador Sumatra, the binderis Corojo 99 and the fillers are Criollo 98 and Piloto Cubano, It’s sweet, a little nutty, a little bready, very well-balanced and delicious. I’ve smoked a couple of sizes of this and need to smoke some more. The Churchill is a beefy 7″ x 54, burned well, drew well, overall was a great cigar to wrap up the week.


Hoyo_LaAmistadSilver_ChurchillI switched back to General Cigars for a Saturday afternoon smoke. It was a beautiful day on the porch, for late October it was comfortable and sunny. Today is the opposite, I’m afraid. Anyway, I selected the Hoyo La Amistad by AJ Fernandez, again in the Churchill size. I really hope you’ve picked up on the them by now. Hoyo’s interpretation of the Churchill is slightly more traditional, this one was 6-7/8″ x 48. I’m not sure why people can’t make a Churchill 7″ x 47 any more…but this one was close. I really like the size of this cigar, actually, very elegant and comfortable. This is the second blend in the La Amistad line, the “gold” came out last year, and the “silver” is this year’s release. It has an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan Habano binder and fillers from Estelí, Condega. This is another winner, although I think I prefer the “gold” over the silver. Maybe the “silver” is a little more refined or something, not that that’s bad. I also think these needed some more humidor time as the example I smoked yesterday got acrid at the band.  The La Amistad Gold is an exceptional cigar, the silver has the potential to me exceptional also.


AJF_Enclave_ToroLast night, after spending a great few hours with the grand-daughters while their parents went out to dinner, I headed to the porch with the Flyers on the iPad for a cigar. I was torn between a Hoyo La Amistad Gold, a Foundry Time Flies and a RoMEo 505, when I spied a lonely Enclave Habano. So I figured I’d wrap up the AJ series with a cigar AJ Fernandez made for his own company instead of someone else’s.  I’ve been on the lookout for the Enclave Broadleaf, just haven’t come across them in the wild yet, I’m very interested in sampling that one. The Enclave Habano is a nice cigar, it’s got a Habano wrapper as the name implies, a Cameroon binder and Nicaraguan fillers. I usually find that cigars with Cameroon in the blend have a disincentive flavor,  but I didn’t get that in this one. I found it to be rather earthy and woody. I smoked the 6″ x 52 Toro, when I should have smoked a shorter cigar, but what the heck, right? Burn was perfect with a flat burn, and I love a closed foot. I like the Enclave Habano, but I’m really jazzed about trying the Broadleaf. Flyers won, spent time with the grandkids, it was a good evening.


FireintheHoleIf you find yourself in the market for personalized gifts, I came across a nice site for such things. Groovy Guy Gifts offers a wide variety of guy stuff that they personalize and turn around with surprising quickness. they have several cigar related goodies, and I came to possess their “Fire in the Hole” triple jet lighter this week. From order confirmation to delivery was only three days, impressive FireintheHole2considering that it was engraved. I’m well familiar with the maker of the lighter, it’s a slim, powerful three jet lighter with a nice heft and a small flip-out punch on the bottom, far smaller than I’d be inclined to use (7mm?), but serviceable in a pinch. The engraving is crisp and clear and it’s presented well in a gift box. Groovy Guy Gifts does a nice job, has quick and reasonable shipping and is a pleasure to deal with.


That’s all for now, although nothing new here really. I felt like I had to make up for a lazy Wednesday post. As I thought about it, I gotta disagree with the bit about deferring to the regulars, I think in a retail environment every customer should be welcomed and afforded the same level of customer service. That long-term customer who spends lots in your store was once the guy walking in for the first time. If I walk into a shop for the first time I don’t expect to have the red carpet rolled out, but I don’t expect the clerk, owner or whatever to finish his conversation with his regulars before acknowledging me. Common sense is key for all parties involved. Until the next time,






Filed under Review

Tobacco Shop Etiquette Tips from Tobacco Express in Claymont, Delaware

The folks at Tobacco Express in Claymont, Delaware reached out to me and asked me to post this tobacco shop etiquette guide. I don’t generally do guest posts, but I recently read a similar piece by my friend Matthias of FineTobaccoNYC.com and this seemed like it was a good way to spark some discussion. I’m not 100 percent on board with the “Dress the part” part, I’m a jeans (or shorts) and t-shirt kinda guy, but there are some good points. It’s also important to point out that the sponsor if this post has a shop in Delaware, where indoor smoking is very rare, many cigar shops don’t allow smoking.


Tobacco Shop Etiquette

Entering any tobacconist can be deemed a sacred experience, whether you’re a hobbyist or a first time smoker. Like dining in a fine restaurant or walking through a museum, there’s a code of etiquette to follow when you’re in a tobacco shop.

Respect the regulars. If you’re a new customer, exhibit patience when you enter a tobacco shop. Most often, some of the shop’s regulars will be present when you decide to go. Because these frequent customers bring in a lot of consistent business, the tobacco shop’s staff will most likely be catering to their needs to keep them coming back. Rest assured that you will be given the attention you deserve – it may just take a minute.

Dress the part. You don’t have to walk into the tobacco shop in a suit and tie, but you shouldn’t be in swim trunks or sweatpants, either. Think casual Fridays at work – wear jeans and a blazer or button down to fit in to the crowd.

Get to know the tobacconist. Like having a good tailor or a go-to barber, the in-house tobacconist will serve as your lifeline in the world of tobacco and tobacco products. Forming a relationship can help you stay in the know when new products come in, when special events are being held around the store, or small perks like free lighters or cigar cutters.

Act calmly. Enter the shop quietly and be mindful of other customers around you. They’re at the shop to relax and enjoy their time, so avoid a bustling, booming entrance. Always make sure that the doors close behind you when you’re moving throughout the shop. Temperature and humidity are of paramount importance in the tobacco industry, particularly in the humidor. Be mindful of this area and make sure the door shuts tightly behind you.

Introduce yourself and make friends. Like the tobacconist, the shop’s regular customers can make product recommendations, show you tips and tricks that they’ve picked up throughout the years, trade tobacco products or accessories, and be a source of friendship and camaraderie in the shop.

Don’t light up without the shopkeeper’s consent. While it may seem arbitrary, it’s proper to ask before lighting up your tobacco product in store. Other things you shouldn’t do in a tobacco shop include: light up in the humidor, bring your own selection of tobacco products, or haggle prices.

Familiarize yourself with this code of conduct and you’ll be welcomed into a tobacco shop anywhere, any time.

These tobacco etiquette tips brought to you by Tobacco Express, a tobacco shop in Claymont, DE.


Thanks to the folks at Tobacco Express for sharing this. I’ll try to get down to Claymont to visit one of these days, it’s not too far away!  One more thing: the Philly Cigar Festival will be happening this Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017 in Pottstown, PA.  I’m not sure I’m going to make it, but I’m told there may still be some tickets left. You may recall that this was scheduled for last spring then postponed, and I hope the winners of the contests I had earlier in t the year can make it.


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





Filed under Editorial

A Perdomo 20th Anniversary and Macanudo Inspirados

Perdomo_20thAnnivMaduro_ChurchillFriday evening I was itchin for a great cigar, so I dug into a Perdomo 20th Anniversary Maduro line sampler I bought last year. I bought this for two reasons, first was so I could get a chance to win one of the great Perdomo humidors, which I did not, and second was because I love the Perdomo 20th Maduros and I knew I’d happily smoke every last one. I kind of avoid buying a box because it would be hard for me to smoke anything else. This sampler included six cigars, one in each size. It was Friday, so I went with the 7″ x 56 Churchill for my evening walk. I should have headed down to B&B Cigars in Chestnut Hill for their Black Label/Black Works event, but I didn’t have Friday traffic in me, and by the time I got there it would have been late. So I enjoyed the crap out of the Perdomo 20th Maduro, as I always do. It’s a little like smoking a Hershey’s Special Dark bar, it’s got loads of slightly bitter chocolate and espresso. It’s surely on my list of favorite cigars, and it’s not very pricey either. The Corona Grande is my favorite in the bunch, but this Churchill really was exceptional if you have the time.


MacanudoFlyersYesterday was a beautiful Autumn day, with sunshine and temps in the 70s. I got a fair amount of chores and errands done in time for a 1 o’clock Flyers game. As has been discussed previously, I’d much prefer watching on the small iPad screen on the porch with a cigar than inside on the big Macanudo_InspiradoWhite_Robustoscreen.  I selected the new Macanudo Inspirado White Robusto to start the day. This is an interesting Macanudo.  It has a six-year-old Ecuador Connecticut wrapper that is beautiful, an Indonesian binder and fillers from Condega and Jalapa in Nicaragua and San Andrés, Mexico. Fun fact: The regular old Macanudo Cafe line has always had a San Andrés binder.  Anyway, the Inspirado White isn’t a mild, flavorless cigar, quite the opposite. It had some sweet earth and spice along with the nutty grassiness of the wrapper. Nice cigar, and the ash and burn was picture perfect (I guess I should have taken a picture!). This was a very enjoyable shade wrapped cigar.


IPCPRGala1The folks at General Cigar Co. sponsored this past year’s IPCPR opening gala with an amazing party featuring the Macanudo Inspirado White and Black. Honestly, they could have brought in a clown making balloon animals and provided a better opening gala than the previous year, but they had amazing food, a DJ, a station making T-shirts on the spot, and IPCPRGala2stations for the Inspirado Black and White showing off the tobacco. It was nightclubby and quite a party. All of the General Cigar Co. people were there, including Benji Menendez. They set the bar very high, oh, and there was an open bar too. I should have taken more pictures but I had a cigar in one hand and a plate in the other most of the time!


Macanudo_InspiradoBlack_RobustoFor my evening walk last night I took the Macanudo Inspirado Black out. This robusto was 4 7/8” x 48, has a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, Ecuador Sumatra binder and Nicaraguan fillers including a proprietary seed varietal grown in Esteli. General has an incredible library of seeds. This is a jet black cigar, the burn was perfect, but it didn’t have the nice, white, perfect ash it’s blond sibling had. Richness abounds, pepper, abounds, and dark, roasty flavors abound. While the White had some sophistication, this one has some raw, down and dirtiness to it that I loved. The Macanudos I started smoking 20+ years ago were noting like these two. Personally I put these up against  similar cigars in the boutique category in enjoyment and performance. I was quite impressed with both Inspirados. I have a couple of the orange banded Inspirados, one from Iceland (the  best-selling cigar in Iceland) and one Rick Rodriguez (CAO) gave me last year and told me to smoke it on a clean palate (maybe today to complete the trifecta?). So far I’m more impressed with the White and Black than I was with the orange banded Inspirado. One more interesting tidbit, there’s a competition world-wide, with the finals held in Europe, that has competitors seeing who can smoke a corona the longest without it going out. This competition uses the Inspirado, and the record is over three hours!  Crazy!



Anyway, that’s all for today, until the next time,






Filed under Review

A Protocol Cigar and a Balmoral Añejo XO Rothschild Masivo

Sunday afternoon I sat down with a tasty MUWAT Kentucky Fire Cured Swamp Thang Toro and spent some time on Skype talking to Dave Burke of Cigar Jukebox recording a guest DJ spot for a future show. I’ve been listening to Dave for a while, and from my perspective, it was very easy talking to him for the first time. It didn’t feel like the first time since I’ve grown used to hearing his voice in my headphones. I’m sure it was weird for him, but I was SwampThangTorofairly comfortable. I’m fortunate to know many of the people I listen to on podcasts and radio shows, and I hope to get to meet Dave one day. He’s based in Australia, so the likelihood of our paths crossing is reasonable low, unfortunately. Give his shows a listen if you’re a music fan at all, pairing music and cigars is quite interesting, I found it challenging as there is as much variety in music as there is in cigars! It was a great honor to be invited on this terrific show.


Protocol_Probabal Cause_LanceroLast night I grabbed a Protocol Probable Cause Lancero from the IPCPR sample humidor. This is Cubariqueño‘s sophomore release, made at La Zona in Esteli, with a San Andrés maduro wrapper and Nicaraguan binder and fillers. The Lancero is 7½” x 38 and is box pressed. While the draw was a little more snug than I like, it burned wonderfully and had great rich, dark flavors. Bill and Juan of Protocol Cigars have three lines, this one with a red band, the original Protocol with the blue band, and the tasty Connecticut shade wrapped Themis with a gold band. I love that they only produce a couple of sizes in each line, it makes it easy for me to keep track of them. I haven’t settled on a favorite yet, they are all really tasty!


Tonight I lit up a cigar that came to me almost two years ago in a very nice selection of cigars from Drew Estate. I decided to smoke this one because it came in a rather unwieldy cardboard box that was taking up to much room in the humidor! Since I received this cigar, Drew Estate is no longer distributing the line, so this isn’t very timely, BalmoralI guess. The cigar in question, as you might infer from the title of this post, is the Balmoral Añejo XO Rothschild Masivo. This is a 5″ x 55 robusto made in the Dominican Republic with a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper, that’s listed as “sun grown” and exceptionally aged. The binder is Dominican Olor, and the fillers are Dominican, Nicaraguan and Brazilian, all also described as exceptionally aged. Balmoral is big in Europe, its origins are with the Winterman’s family. The cigar had some plume, and tasted like a well aged cigar. It was very complex, with lots of cocoa and spice and some sweetness. I liked it a lot, I can’t believe it took me so long to smoke this as the box has been getting in my way over the past two years!


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






Filed under Review