Tag Archives: aj fernandez

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


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!



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,





Filed under Contest, News, Review

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,





Filed under Review

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!



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,





Filed under Contest, Review

Padilla, San Lotano and Nestor Miranda Cigars

Padilla_Reserva_SanAndres_RobustoWinter has set in here in Pennsylvania, with the first snows over the last couple days, thankfully only an inch or two each time. I’m good with basically sweeping the snow off the driveway as opposed to the two foot heavy wet snows we get now and then.  Anyway, I smoked a few good cigars over the past couple days, although not all new to the market. I broke open a pack of Padilla Reservas that Ernesto Padilla gave me at the IPCPR show, which was the same pack he gave me at the previous year’s show, I think. I selected the San Andrès of course, there was also a Corojo, Criollo and Connecticut to choose from. This is a 5″ x 54 robusto made at the Raices Cubanas factory in Honduras, with the San Andrès wrapper, with Nicaraguan binder and filler.  I mentioned this cigar in a post last November, but I feel like this cigar was “dirtier” than the one I smoked before, or else I just didn’t mention that last year. It was like an espresso, strong, with some bitterness that was really enjoyable especially in the cold winter air. Loads of flavor for sure, and I liked it a lot. As I said last time, this is a cigar that’s priced right and well worth picking up if you like that in your face, down and dirty kind of cigar now and then.


SanLotano_Bull_ToroLast week I was in a local shop and picked up a few cigars that I hadn’t tried yet, but have been around a while. The AJ Fernandez San Lotano Bull caught my eye as  such a cigar. I love the San Lotano line, and am a little mystified that I hadn’t tried the Bull yet. So I picked up a couple and took one as my Friday smoke. This was the 6″ x 54 toro size, and the binder and filler are “AJF Select” Nicaraguan with an Ecuador Sumatra wrapper. As you can see in the picture, the cigar comes with a cedar sleeve with a bull on it, this must be removed prior to lighting (hard to believe, but I’ve seen it done!). This was another fairly strong cigar, lots of nice, sweet, creamy coffee and cedar flavors. Why, oh, why did I take so long to try this cigar?  I’m glad I bought more than one.  Again, nothing new here, I think AJ Fernandez released this in 2013.


NMCCorojoThis cigar is new this year!  I have enjoyed all of the Nestor Miranda Collection Robustos I’ve smoked, and I really should try other sizes, but the Coffee Break 4½” x 50 size is really appealing to me. It’s perfect for those nights when it’s too cold for a walk, but an hour on the porch with the propane heater is pretty comfortable. Such was the case last night.  This line has previously been offered in Connecticut, Maduro and Habano, all excellent, and all made in Don Pepin Garcia’s My Father factory in Esteli. This year they released the Corojo, which might just be the best in the line to my palate. This little cigar has a lot going on, a little sweet, a little coffee and a little nuttiness, in a perfect burning package. I smoked one a couple of weeks ago and was interrupted by something and had to put it down and it made me sad. This one was enjoyed until fingers started burning, so good. I’ve acquired some new tools from the Tommy Bahama line that I’ve been playing with, and so far I’m happy with the cutter and lighters. I used the table lighter to light this and holding the lighter about eight inches from the foot of the cigar made the foot look like an Apollo space capsule on re-entry. lots of horsepower in a large, quad-jet lighter. More on those tools later, but I’ve become a fan of the Tommy Bahama cigar accouterments from Island Lifestyle Importers. I just wish I were sitting on a beach lighting my cigars…


That’s it for now. Keep an eye on the CigarCraig.com Facebook page for the next contest, I’m going to try something a little different to mix things up. Until the next time,






Filed under Review

A Bobalu Oscuro, a New Nestor Miranda Cigar and an Oliveros All Stars

Bobalu_Oscuro_GordoAfter the crazy first half of the week, I settled down a bit. I actually took Thursday off as we went up to Bethlehem PA to see the new movie “Eight Days A Week”. It was a very good documentary about The Beatles touring years, you can read my wife’s review on her blog Beatles-Freak’s Reviews . Friday evening’s cigar was another cigar from the selection I picked up from Bobalu Cigars. This cigar was from the Oscuro line which features a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper,  Nicaraguan Ligero, Honduran Criollo  98 and Dominican Piloto and  Olor.  You can imagine what my expectations were for this one. This is a good example of how expectations can lead to disappointment. I got these in the Gordo size, because they only come in robusto and Gordo and I have too damn many robustos in my humidors.  The cigar was well made, but instead of the heavy, coffee/cocoa flavor I expected, I got more of a medium sour flavor. It was a good cigar, I smoked it for a good two hours, but the sour flavor isn’t one I particularly enjoy. There were plenty of good points, and certainly there are people who appreciate the flavors in that cigar more than I do. I remain amazed that a factory in Austin, Texas is cranking out handmade cigars of excellent quality for a reasonable price. It’s a place I must visit one day when I finally make that Texas visit I need to make. Bobalu is still offering a special deal for my readers, click here to check that out.


Nestor Miranda Collection_Corojo_RobustoYesterday was a three cigar day. I started off in the afternoon, after getting some things done around the house and yard, with a new line extension to the Nestor Miranda Collection, the Corojo in the 4½ x 50 robusto size. In the past I’ve really enjoyed the Nestor Miranda Collection in this size, the Connecticut, Maduro and Habano are all exceptional, and this Corojo is a great addition to the portfolio. I was blown away by the abundance of a cinnamon spice quality throughout the cigar, it was quite delicious. I think the most memorable cigars I’ve smoked from the trade show for me this year have been cigars with unique flavors that I don’t often get in a  cigar, which is what makes them memorable.  There was another one, but I can’t remember it :-). I highly recommend trying the Nestor Miranda Collection, and especially this new Corojo.  One minor complaint: Miami Cigar and Co. desperately needs to update their website!


Oliveros_AllStars_BassoI moved on to another trade show sample, the Oliveros Allstars Small Batch No. 5 Basso. Thankfully, Aging Room Cigar’s website IS up to date, as I had forgotten the story behind this cigar from the show, there was a lot of information given at once and the info on this one slipped through the ever-widening cracks. Oliveros All Stars is a collaboration between Rafael Nodal and Ernesto P. Carillo, it’s got a dark US grown broadleaf wrapper and Dominican fillers. The Basso is a 6″ x 54 toro (remember when Toros were 6″ x 50?) and they also have the Aria at 4½ x 48, the Fugue at  5½ x 52 and the Chord at 6½ x 52 Torpedo. The naming conventions are consistent with Rafael’s Music background. This is the sort of flavors I look for in a broadleaf cigar! It was dark and lush with the heavy espresso flavors I like, with some cocoa sweetness. It was a wonderful smoke. Collaborations are a funny thing in the cigar world, some say that the rarely work, I’ve had pretty good luck smoking collaborative efforts, but I think this one was a “win”. As an old friend came over for a while, I finished off the evening with a Last Call from AJ Fernandez, which seemed appropriate as it was getting late and was the last cigar of the day. Having just finished a fairly powerful cigar, I had low hopes for this cigar, it had some foot damage and looked bad in the humidor, so this was a perfect occasion to get rid of it in a humane way.  About a quarter of the way in I couple really taste the wonderful flavors that this little cigar offers, and I was sad when it became too short to smoke any longer. I can’ wait to try the maduro version, although the Habano is fantastic.


Just Bitching…


Here’s a couple quick gripes about things I hear on podcasts that annoy me, stupid things, but things, and I’m naming names! On the Kiss My Ash podcast, they have a couple of commercials that bug me. First is a Joya de Nicaragua commercial that claims that the Quatro Cinco Reserva has tobacco from the Jalapeño valley, and I don’t know of a Jalapeño Valley in Nicaragua. Another is an ad that mentions what sounds to me like they are saying “Cigar Aprecianado” instead of Aficionado. may that one’s just me, my hearing isn’t great. I still love the KMA folks, it’s one of the podcasts I look forward to all week. The last one for today is from CigarDave‘s show last Saturday, where, in an attempt to be patriotic, he played one of the worst renditions of our nations national anthem I’ve ever heard. Admittedly, I’m a purist when it comes to the National Anthem, I don’t believe it should be embellished or artistically interpreted at all, just performed straight, as written. Nothing annoys me more than a performer adding his or her own spin to our nations anthem. That’s my opinion, I cringe when I hear poorly performed anthems, and that’s just the way it is. I was also in the car driving when I listened to CigarDave, and I didn’t feel like I need to stand, as what I was listening to was  barely the piece of music that represents our nation. CigarDave, I’m deeply disappointed in that selection. Again, my opinion, I’m open to any criticism.


That’s about all I have for today, until the next time,





Filed under Review