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Enclave Broadleaf by AJ Fernandez

AJ Fernandez Enclave BroadleafFirst off, I updated my last post on the Dominion Cigars Black Lotus, it turns out that it was the natural wrapper version, and not maduro. I suck, let’s move past it!  It was a good smoke, whatever it was!  Anyway, Tonight I smoked a cigar I picked up a week or so ago at one of my local Cigar Cigars stores (there are no less than 6 within a 10 mile radius of my house), one I had been anxious to try. I smoked one there the day I hung out for a while and loved it, and very much enjoyed the one I smoked tonight. The cigar, as the title of the posts suggests, is the Enclave Broadleaf by AJ Fernandez.  I picked up a couple of the toro size, a hefty 6½” x 54, with a dark Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper and Nicaraguan binder and filler. This is a fantastic broadleaf cigar with some weight to the smoke, it’s dark, has some sweetness and strength. It burned well, although tonight’s example required one minor touch up as one side burned a little faster than the other. This will be yet another cigar I’ll keep in the humidor, it’s right up my alley and fairly priced in the $8 range.  I remember a time not long ago when I’d bristle at spending that much for a cigar, but it seems like the norm now.

 

If Podcasts are your thing, check out Cigar-Coop’s Prime Time Episode 37 with Jack and Charlie Toraño. It’s an enlightening interview, Will and Aaron get to the bottom of the sale of Toraño Family cigars. I’ll be making an appearance on Aaron’s Developing Palates show next week as they do their 2017 recap.  Should be a lot of fun, although this time of year I think I’ll be doing it from in the house sans cigar, much to my dismay.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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A Camacho Criollo and a Reader Question Answered

Sunday I mentioned that I had a cold coming on, and I was right, it put me out of commission Sunday, then Monday I left work early, something I never do. Obviously I took a break from cigars, my tongue felt like it had been walked on with muddy boots and my sinuses and bronchial passages were not cooperating at all. It was fairly fast moving, fortunately, so tonight I thought I’d try taking a walk with a cigar. Of course, since we messed Camacho_Criollo_Churchillwith the clocks over the weekend, it’s dark by 5pm which thrills me very little.  I was in a quandary as to which cigar to smoke. It has to be something reasonably familiar, to properly gauge the recovery of my taste buds, and it has to be something I have multiples of. I recently received a four pack of Camacho Criollo Churchills, a traditionally good smoke that’s on the medium bodied side. The fools  good folks at Cigars.com inexplicably offered this four-pack for $1 delivered, so I figured what the heck, I’ve spent a dollar much more foolishly. I honestly don’t know why they do this, it costs them much more than a buck to box and ship the cigars. So I figured blowing a quarter on tonight’s smoke wasn’t too much of a loss. Sad to say, my tasters are still impaired, but the cigar worked right, and didn’t taste awful. I’ll smoke another one (or three) when I’m back to what passes for normal and see if the cigars are worth what I paid for them.  What really surprise me was that when I ordered the cigars they were backordered, I wouldn’t have been surprised or upset if they had canceled the order.

 

I often get questions in the comments that I forget to answer, so I figured I’d answer one here since I don’t have a lot else to talk about. Last week Dan asked about AJ Fernandez:

“I must be behind in my “Cigar Current Events” class, too. It seems that A.J. Fernandez’s name is appearing on more and more different brands. What did I miss? I don’t remember seeing anyone else doing this “nomad” routine. I do see some but just not quite like A.J. Any information about that? Is he a hired gun?”

Here’s my take on the question: AJ Fernandez is one of the hot factories out there, they’ve  really come on strong in the last couple years. I want to say Abdel really made his mark producing cigars for Cigar International maybe 10 years ago, has a ton of great blends under his own name and makes a lot of cigars for a lot of people. He’s giving Placencia (ironically, I believe Abdel’s father had a long career with Placencia) a run for their money. They made the Deisel and Man O War for CI, and, not surprising since CI is owned by the same parent company, made Hoyos and Foundrys for General. Before that there was the Emilio AF1 ad AF2 lines that were all the rage five years ago. There have been cigars made there for Nick Melillo’s  Foundation Cigar Co. and Robert Holt’s Southern Draw as well as some in the Nomad line. It got interesting (to me, at least) when Altadis started having line extensions in the Montecristo, H.Upmann, Gispert and RoMEo lines made there. I was surprised because of the companies strong ties to Scandanavian Tobacco Group, Altadis being their largest competitor. They’ve also opened another factory in Nicaragua and are making some of Espinoza’s cigars. So I think Abdel and the AJ Fernandez factory is firing on all cylinders, and, to my palate, making great cigars. I’m sure I’ve missed some brands. Funny thing is that there are some brands that I don’t really care for, except those cigars made at Tabacalera Fernandez! Hope that is an answer. I’ll try to be more timely, and less verbose, in answering questions.

 

That’s enough out of me, hopefully cigars taste better tomorrow!

 

CigarCraig

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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,

 

CigarCraig

 

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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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