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AJ-Booth-Caldwell, Hamlet and Todos Las Dias Cigars

AJF-Booth-Caldwell_ToroI smoked three cigars from the IPCPR show this week so far, and I’m not entirely sure any of them are on tobacconist’s shelves yet. I started with one of the cigars Matt Booth had at the show. Let me express my disappointment that the video I did with Matt had no audio, and what fun is that?  Not that Matt might or might not have visual aids, but his booth was a collection of arcade games and nothing else, and interviews with Mr. Booth are always informative and hilarious. Sad that the audio wasn’t there, I wish I had known.  Anyway, one of the cigars he had at the show was a collaborative effort with AJ Fernandez, Matt and Robert Caldwell, which was supposed to be called “Truth”, but a late trademark issue got in the way, and the samples he was handing out had the simple band pictured. I’m just going to call it ABC in the interest of brevity. So this is a nice box pressed 6″ x 52 toro and is a Nicaraguan puro, with a dark maduro wrapper. Upon lighting the cigar I quickly realized that if I Booth Swagwere to blend a cigar, it  would taste very much like this one. Regular readers will know that I love a cigar with loads of rich cocoa and coffee with a bit of spice. This one had some strength also, which was a perfect complement to the flavors. I loved it, I can’t wait to see what this evolves into. It’s a shame they had to abandon the name and packaging, but Matt is a creative guy, he’ll come up with something fantastic, like this cigar was.

 

Hamlet_25thYearLast night I tried the Hamlet 25th Year robusto from Rocky Patel. I liked the 5½” x 50 robusto, the slightly longer length appeals to me. This is totally different from the Tabaqueros that Hamlet produced a year or so ago for Rocky Patel, that cigar was Hamlet’s first foray into blending a cigar that wasn’t all Cuban tobacco, for those who don’t know, Hamlet Paredes was an ambassador for Habanos S.A. and traveled the world ding rolling events. I guess it’s accurate to say he defected from Cuba and found a home working with Rocky Patel. I loved the Tabaquero, and this new offering is very different, but very tasty. It has an Ecuador Habano wrapper, Pennsylvania Broadleaf binder and fillers from Honduras and Nicaragua. I thought it was, dare I say, Cubanesque in that it was on the milder side, but had a lot of good flavors, some vanilla creaminess, light fruit and chocolate. This is yet another cigar I look forward to trying again.

 

TodosLasDias_RobustoTonight I got an unexpected phone call from (I’m going to name drop here), Jose Blanco, who was in the  general area, but I wasn’t able to met up with him. In our conversation about cigars from the IPCPR show he mentioned Todos las Dias from Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust and how he thought it was the best cigar Steve Saka had made so far. I’ve had a single robusto from the show that Steve gave me as he was testing the internal humidity (see the video here), and I assumed it was from the “passed” pile. I figured tonight was the night to smoke it, it had been in my humidor since the show in July, the same humidor all the IPCPR samples were in and have been smoking well. The Todos las Dias is Saka’s first Nicaraguan Puro, with a Sun Grown wrapper and fillers from Jalapa and Esteli, rolled at the Joya de Nicaragua factory. I noted a couple ironies. First, the Dunbarton website lacks detailed information on this cigar, the Sobremesa and Mi Querida are detailed quite nicely, with only a passing mention of this and his other lines. This is very un-Saka. The second and more important irony was that this cigar smoked like it was over-moist. The humidor this has been in is at 68%, and I saw first had that the internal humidity of the cigar when it came into my possession was under 12%. Steve wasn’t handing out cigars that weren’t going to smoke perfectly. My only thought is that the heavy tobaccos in this cigar sucked up the ambient humidity when I took it out. It had rained here and was very humid outside. Flavor-wise, I see where this is a great cigar when it burns like it should, and as son as I see some in the wild I’ll grab some and try them under the right conditions. I’m particularly interested in trying the Double Wide Belicoso, which appears to use the same molds as Joya de Nicaraguas Gran Consul (I have some Rosalones in the same size too). Flavor was full, lush and yummy. I have to defer to Jose on this one for now, a Sobremesa El Americano I smoked Sunday was perfect.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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San Lotano Bull, Aging Room Havao, A Flores AFR-75 Cigars and the Contest Winner

SanLotano_Bull_ToroI’ve been poking around the humidor lately looking for some interesting cigars and came across a San Lotano Bull Toro Friday. AJ Fernandez has been getting a ton of attention lately for his work with other companies, notably General Cigars and Altadis. I figured it would be good to spotlight the San Lotano as the companies own brands seem to be flying under the radar a little. Sure the New World and Bellas Artes get a little attention, but I really enjoyed the San Lotano line, specially the full-bodied The Bull. I find it funny that they called the 6″ x 54 the Toro, seems redundant to me, but what else would you call it?  This cigar has a dark Ecuador Sumatra wrapper, with binder and filler AJ Fernandez’ proprietary tobacco grown on their farms. There aren’t many AJF cigars I don’t like, the Bull is one I really like. It’s got the coffee and spice I want with a hint of wood from the cedar sleeve and a year or so in the humidor. Perfect draw and burn made this a great cigar to end the week.  Abdel Fernandez is a tobacco and cigar genius, his factories make great cigars.

 

AgingRom_HavaoSaturday I had a chance to enjoy an early cigar and I chose an Aging Room Havao Treble, the 6″ x 50 toro. Funny how 50 ring seems small these days, 6″ x 50 used to be the common toro size, now it’s 52 or 54. This is an elegant cigar in size, appearance and flavor. It’s got an Ecuador Connecticut Shade wrapper and Habano Criollo in the filler and binder. I generally stay away from Criollo wrappers, but this cigar works very well with it in the filler. It’s a terrific smoke, it’s loaded with flavor, lots of depth with the creaminess from the shade wrapper. This was an absolutely wonderful cigar for the time, and it was very well-behaved with a perfectly straight burn line. Now that Altadis is distributing the Aging Room line, and Rafael Nodal is working for them, it’ll be interesting to see where this brand goes. I would choose this over a Connecticut wrapped Monte any day of the week, personally, so I hope the competition isn’t bad for the Aging Room brand.

 

AFlores_AFR-75_SanAndres_CatadorI was hunting for a short smoke before going out to see a friend’s band play, and came across a cigar from PDR Cigars that I forgot I had. Maybe I thought it was a L’Atelier maduro as it was face down in the tray, or it just got buried. I actually can’t even recall where this cigar came from. As the size was what I was looking for, I looked closer and was delighted to find that it was an A. Flores AFR-75 Catador, a cool little 4″ x 54 pigtailed robusto. This cigar has a San Andrés wrapper, Criollo 98 Nicaragua binder and Habano D.R., Connecticut Broadleaf & Criollo 98 Nicaragua fillers. Again with the Criollo, interesting. If you haven’t tried this cigar, it’s worth seeking out and dropping a few bucks on, because they are on the high side, this little guy coming in just north of $12. this price point tells me that someone must have given this to me or it was a sample, as I probably wouldn’t have shelled out that kind of coin for such a small cigar. It is a brilliant smoke though, dark espresso and a surprisingly long burn of around an hour. It’s a super premium cigar, but it’s super good, so worth it in my opinion.

 

Contest

 

ContestLast week I threw out a contest for a whole bunch of cool odds and ends that have been accumulating around here and I’ll never use. It seems right to share them with someone who will appreciate them. I’m sure some cigars will be included to keep stuff from rattling around in the box!  I see there were 26 entries, less one for Olie who won the last time. The Random Number Generator at Random.org spit out the number 12 out of 25, which corresponds to Dave Wisniewski, who commented that this would make a nice Father’s Day present. I think Dave is fairly local to me, so either he gets his address to me in a hurry and I can get it out this week, or week work out a meet-up which is always fun.  Dave, you know how to reach me!  Thanks to all of you who took the time to enter, I’ll scrounge more goodies up for a future contest! 

 

That’s all for today, I’ve got a deck that needs power-washing, which isn’t a good activity to enjoy a cigar, so it’ll wait until after!  Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

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An New H. Upmann, Some News, a Discount and Another Philly Cigar Festival Contest!

HUpmannAJFernandez_RobustoI’ve been a little behind on my cigar consumption this week, I did manage to smoke a really nice Joya de Nicaragua Cabinetta No. 60, a cool 6″x 60 perfecto that was really good. this afternoon after getting some things done around the house and yard, I sat down with a new offering from H. Upmann, a robusto made by AJ Fernandez and it’s called H. Upmann by AJ Fernandez. What a crazy name!  It’s made in Nicaragua, has an Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper with a Nicaraguan Corojo ’99 binder and fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. This cigar was very firm to the touch, which gave me some concern, but it had an effortless draw and burned perfectly.  It had what I consider as dark flavors, which I like, as well as a unique spice that I can’t name. It was an intriguing cigar, finally an H.Upmann I like! This is an interesting personal trend, I’ve been underwhelmed by many Altadis products, with some exceptions, but the newer lines especially the ones made in Nicaragua, have been up my alley. The new RoMEo 505 (Placencia) and the Gispert Intenso (AJ Fernandez) have impressed me.

 

My friends at 2 Guys Smoke Shop have revamped their website this week, I’ve included the press release verbatim here, largely out of laziness. Dave Garofalo was one of the first retailers with an online presence back in the ’90s when the internet was a wild and untamed place. It looks a lot better now!

2GuysCigars.com Launches Re-Designed Online Cigar Shopping Website

2guys

2GuysCigars.com operates a long-running online mail order business distributing premium cigars all over the country. The company recently launched an updated version of the eCommerce website to provide online cigar shoppers with an improved cigar buying experience.

 

The new and improved website features a clean and modern design, with vibrant images and easy-to-use navigation. The mobile browsing experience was especially improved, the new fully responsive design provides cigar lovers with the ability to take full advantage of all site features from any mobile device. Cigar lovers will quickly be able to browse sections that feature the site’s massive premium cigar selection as well as finding sections dedicated to cigar sampler packs, cigar accessories, budget cigars, and the newest items in the company’s inventory. The site also highlights the large number of premium cigar brands that are exclusively available from 2GuysCigars.com, allowing them to easily identify and purchase cigars that are unavailable anywhere else.

 

“Even after over 30 years in the cigar business, I’m always looking for ways to improve” said 2GuysCigars.com Owner David Garofalo. “Innovation has always been a big part of the cigar industry, and anyone who isn’t moving forward is falling behind. Our customers loved our old website, but we’ve kept the stuff that made that site awesome while making improvements we think they’re going to like even more. Additionally, with so much of our web traffic coming from mobile devices, we decided to incorporate what I think is the best mobile cigar shopping experience available online today. This new site is something I’m proud to share with our loyal customers, and I want them all to know that in addition to our new site we have many more exciting things in store for them in 2017 and beyond!”

 

The company recently exited the testing phase of the new website and since the switch to the new and improved 2GuysCigars.com, they are reporting significant improvements in a number of key visitor statistics that indicate visitors are already enjoying the new design. In addition to the new site launch, 2GuysCigars.com has added of a number of new premium cigars to their extensive inventory, most recently Tatuaje Monsters, The Angel’s Anvil by Crowned Heads, Serino Royale and Eiroa 20 Year Colorado.

 

To check out the one of the best online retailers visit www.2guyscigars.com or call 888-224-4272.

 

 

I have to find my Stage V Clinger and put it in my pocket tomorrow as I might need it when I’m out and about, but the folks there e-mailed me this week to let me know that me talking about their cigar holder has produced some buzz for them! That’s nice to hear, because I want all the cigars and accessories I talk about here to succeed, because I generally believe in the items I feature here, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t write about them or use them! So, as a thank you, they are offering a special Father’s Day promo code “StageVdad” for $5 off a 4-pack. The special offer can be redeemed right on the Stage V website from May 11-June 11. So if you golf, or just need an extra hand now and then, this is a good product to have!

 

Contest!

The Philly Cigar Festival is fast approaching on  June 3, 2017 and being held in Pottstown, Pennsylvania from 11:00am to 4:30pm at The Norco Fairgrounds. Unfortunately, a scheduling conflict is preventing me from attending this, much to my disappointment. My loss is one of your gains though, as the organizers have authorized me to have another contest and give away my ticket! Of course, the winners are under no obligation to do this, but I’d be more than happy to publish a guest post from one of them (or anyone who attends for that matter), after the event. Again, just putting it out there, no pressure! This is a multi-vendor event, with cigars, beer, food and drink and representatives from thirty cigar companies, . Ticket prices run $150 and $200 and covers a bunch of cigars (the FDA no longer allows cigars to be given away). There are a couple of rules, first is you must be 21, and the other is that this giveaway covers the ticket only, you are responsible for getting there. I understand that this will exclude some of you. Cigars for Warriors will be represented and will be benefiting from the event. So leave a comment to enter and since the event coming up soon, this will be a quick contest, I’ll announce a winner on Sunday, May 14, 2017 (yeah, it’s Mother’s Day…) and I’ll need the winner to contact me so I can send your info to the organizers.  Thanks again to the Philly Cigar Festival, I wish I could make it!

 

That’s all for now. Having some dental work done tomorrow, so it may be a slow week cigar-wise. It’ll probably be old favorites if it’s anything, not sure how I’ll feel this time around.  Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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An Enclave and Cigars on a Friend’s Deck in February: Kristoff and La Flor Dominicana

AJF_Enclave_ToroThe weather has been unseasonably warm here in SE PA, 70s in February? I love not having to bundle up for my evening walks, or thaw my fingers with the propane heaters when I get home.  I can’t help to think we are going to pay for what has been a mild winter with little snow in March, but I’ve enjoyed this great weather! Any way you look at it, Spring is on its way, and that’s a great thing. So Friday evening’s cigar was an AJ Fernandez Enclave Toro, a 6″ x 52 covered foot beauty (the covered foot was this weeks trend as it turns out). I’ve been abusing myself lately, last week  I tripped and fell, and Friday I burned the crap out of my mouth biting into a pizza roll. Pizza Rolls, when microwaved according to the directions, attains internal temperatures approaching that of the sun. Not exactly a high-brow menu choice, granted, but a guilty pleasure that just needs to be handled a little more carefully. So, I didn’t want to smoke something unfamiliar and miss something with a compromised palate ( not that my palate is anything to write home about).  The Enclave is a familiar cigar, known to have excellent flavor, burn and be strong enough to taste, but not so strong as to do further damage. Did I know this came in a broadleaf wrapper too?  One more cigar for my shopping list, I suppose, because the Habano wrapped version is a great smoke, an easy choice for a “go-to” list.

 

Kristoff CTSaturday I decided I wanted to get out for a smoke, so I dropped my amigo Mike a note and he invited me over to have cigars on his deck. He told me the cigars would be on him, which is weird for me because I’m accustomed to being the one to provide the smokes. Mike only lives a few miles away, and we met when he won one of the presents in a 12 Days of Spectacular Giveaways a couple of years ago and got together at a local shop. We’ve become good friends since.  So I selected a cigar from Mike that I hadn’t had before, a Kristoff Connecticut Robusto. Kristoff is a brand that I hear about all the time, but I haven’t smoked a great many of their offerings. I don’t know why that is really, they look great, I love the Epic line of cigars that is made in the same factory as the Kristoff, and they have a huge portfolio of cigars with yummy sounding names, like San Andrés and Cameroon and Habano. Also, a lot of them have a pigtail cap and a closed foot, both features I like. It doesn’t get much better than sitting outside on an unexpectedly warm, sunny day enjoying a great cigar with a friend.  This Connecticut was a medium bodied smoke with nice flavors, not really heavy on the typical grassy Connecticut shade flavor, but a nice, mellow smoke. As the wind kicked up a bit with a front coming in, the burn stayed even and this was a very satisfying cigar.

 

LFD FirecrackerMike generously offered me a La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Firecracker, from 2 Guy’s Smoke Shop‘s Firecracker series. Last fall I had the opportunity to smoke the Cro-Magnon version in this series, with was quite awesome (read about it here, ironically, I also featured the Cigar Prop in the same post, and look forward to hearing Kevin talk about that on Kiss My Ash Radio that aired yesterday). The Firecracker is a 3¼” x 50 with a long tail that makes it resemble an M80 firecracker, and the blends are generally on the stronger side to go along with the theme. 2 Guy’s usually has these in time for the 4th Of July, and this year’s iteration is made by Fratello Cigars. I think Mike was willing to part with this cigar because he was a little intimidated by it, having heard that it was unbearably strong. This one also had a covered foot, making it the third cigar in a row for me with that particular feature. The cigar started off with a burst of strength, and some extra flavor from the wrapper. I kinda feel bad for smoking this cigar, because while it was strong, I don’t think it was too strong that Mike wouldn’t have enjoyed it. I do greatly appreciate the chance to smoke this great little cigar, which timed out perfectly as a front rolled in dropping the temperatures and bring a thunderstorm. Again, thanks to Mike for his generosity and hospitality (don’t forget to check out Mike and his daughter’s site, WineadorArt.com, to customize the glass on your humidor, cabinet or wineador. I’m thinking of commissioning a piece for my cabinet…).

 

I guess I’m going to have to reach out to John Budka, the winner of last week’s contest, as I haven’t heard from him yet and want to get the goodies mailed out. That’s all for today, 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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