Rosalones, Vegas de Santiago, SOF Cigars and a Contest Winner

CraigonACBoardwalkLast Sunday my wife and I took a trip over to Atlantic City to walk on the boardwalk and just get away for a bit. As soon as we got there I lit up a La Sirena Devine while we strolled on Steel Pier and along the beach. It was windy, and I had some trouble keeping it burning right, but it was a great cigar, and nobody seemed to care I was smoking it!  After a nice dinner, we went back out to walk it off, and I lit up a Tortuga El Coyote Negro No. 500. I guess I was in a belicoso kind of mood, that was two in a row!  Great cigar, but it had gotten a little chilly, Tortuga500so we went into the casino and wasted some time at some slot machines while I finished my smoke. They have signs in the smoking section saying you can only smoke if you’re playing a machine!  We found a big machine with a bench for two in front of it, which was perfect, and the game ended up paying off, so we just about broke even. Great cigar though, I can’t get enough of the Tortuga line.


Rosalones_Gran ConsulBack in the spring of 2013 I had the privilege of attending Drew Estate’s Cigar Safari with a bunch of fellow bloggers and cigar media types.  One of the cigars that was available for us to sample over the course of the trip was a cigar from Joya de Nicaragua called Rosalones. At that time it was just for the European market, but several of us smoked these and were quite impressed.  Several months later this brand made it’s debut at Cigars International.  This week I smoked a Rosalones in the Gran Consul size, the same 4¾” x 60 torpedo shape that’s available in the Antaño 1970 and Dark Corojo lines.  I’m a sucker for figurados, and I think this is a fun shape to smoke. It’s got the smoking time and coolness that I like in a large ring gauge, without the need to unhinge my jaw. This is a medium bodied smoke, with rich, dark flavors, and a perfect burn. These are really quite reasonably priced as well.  If you like Joya de Nicaragua’s offerings, you’ll like this cigar.


vegas de santiago lanceroLast week I heard about the passing of Rudy Niehaus, who was a principle in the Vegas de Santiago cigar company out of Costa Rica. My dealings with Rudy and his wife Lani, who passed away a few years ago, goes back more than a decade, when they were a sponsor of a cigar event my wife and I organized at the Freehold Raceway in New Jersey.  I’ve been smoking Vegas de Santaiago cigar on and off ever since, and the Secretos de Maestro line has always been my favorite.  A few years ago I expressed interest in the Secretos del Maestro Laguito No.  1 size in their Oscuro wrapper. I’ve been sitting on a couple of these and decided this week was a good time to smoke one.  Laguito No. 1 is traditionally 7¼” x 38 , but theirs is closer to 7¾” long, but is still finished with the traditional pigtail cap. It’s a very elegant cigar, very rich and savory in flavor, but lacking the sweetness that you’d expect with an oscuro wrapper. It’s a very good cigar, and I don’t think you can get these anywhere but directly through their website, and they are not very expensive at all! If I’m not mistaken, this same factory is responsible for the MBombay, Byron, Bandolero and Atabey lines. My condolences to the family on the passing of their patriarch.


SOF-AD_650Yesterday I selected a new cigar that I had an initial hesitation about responding to the request to send a sample.  I’m pretty much a pacifist in nature. I certainly support our military and veterans, don’t get me wrong, but they are and have been far better suited to doing what they do than I ever would have been. I recognize that, and I’m comfortable with it.  So when I got an e-mail from Tim Lawson of SOF Cigars, I considered giving him a “thanks, but no thanks” reply.  Soldier of Fortune (SOF) cigars is a veteran owned brand made in The DR, and the AD (Almost Dead) has a dark brown Brazilian Arapiraca with a proprietary binder and filler. They had me at Arapiraca, and i was interested.  I smoked the toro, 6″ x 50 with a little bun-style pigtail cap.  I really, really enjoyed this cigar.  It had a flavor like strong black coffee, a hint of nice bitterness, but a sweetness as well. It was perfect constructed and had a great burn and draw.  There’s a story that goes with this which explains the date 17-NOV-03 on the band, which relates to what I assume is the brand owner’s experience as a “contractor” in Iraq, a harrowing tale of nearly being killed in an ambush.  I have a hard copy, and will update to include a link to the story if I can find it! So far, these are only available at, and are priced in the $6-8 range which is quite fair for this quality and flavor! Thanks to Tim for the sample and for his service. I have no idea what factory in Santiago is making these, but something in the back of my head makes me think of PDR cigars, and I’m probably way off and an idiot for even guessing.


modiglianiI think that’s it……wait, I need to select a winner of the Toscano cigars from and the Screwpop cigar cutter from!  I was a little disappointed with the turnout for this contest, but I guess this is a bit of a niche item and not everyone is adventurous. Still, we had 41 entries, allowing for a couple of side comments that didn’t count, and spit out the number 5, so by my figuring, Sean Kevin Conroy is the winner.  Please send me your address so I can ship you goodies!  Thanks to and for providing the goodies, now I have to see what I can scrounge up for the next contest!


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







Filed under Contest, Review

6 Responses to Rosalones, Vegas de Santiago, SOF Cigars and a Contest Winner

  1. Lonnie w. Brooks

    Good review, Craig! Hope the new week is filled with many blessings.

  2. So happy I won. I can’t wait to try these. Thanks again for the contest, Craig.

    About forty years ago, my mom worked at a drugstore just outside of Pittsburgh. She used to tell me about how a few older Italian gentlemen would come into the store, regular as clockwork, and ask her, “You got any Perodi or De Nobili, young lady?” “They were these gnarled little cigars,” she explained. “The smell made me sick as a dog.”

    This story did not warn me away from Toscano cigars, nostalgia for the “old country,” or the wisdom of older Italian men who knew what they liked and weren’t afraid to ask for it.

    • jjo

      Sean Kevin Conroy – First of all congrats on the win! Secondly, I have had the old Parodi (about the same time that your mom was working at that drugstore), as well as the Toscano Classico, and I can say that as iconically homely as they are, you will be surprised at the enjoyment, as well as the smoking time, of the Toscano. Unlike the the Parodi and De Nobili which are American made replicas of the old Italian cheroots, Toscano is the real deal made with Italian tobacco. They are quite a different animal. 😉

      • jjo-Thank you. I’ve been a cigar smoker for about 14 years–not especially long, but long enough to know that good things, smoke-wise, sometimes come in unlovely packages. The Toscanos do look like a big step-up in quality, and the traditions, craftsmanship, etc. are interesting to me.

  3. Great post! I am definitely digging the sound of that Rosalones – sounds right up my alley, personally. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Charlie H.

    I think you may be right about PDR Craig…that bun style cap and they use that wrapper quite a bit…

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