Tag Archives: altadis

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

Romeo 505, Gispert Intenso and a Foundation Cigar Event

I went to a couple of events this week, although both visits were brief.  Thursday I stopped in to my local CigarCigars shop, which is on my way home and just about 2 miles from my house. Since it was before dinner, and while it takes five minutes to get home from this particular shop at five o’clock on a weekday, it takes practically a half an hour to get there since all of the rush hour traffic is headed west bound. This is one of the main reasons I chose the location of my new job last year, the commute is awesome.  Anyway, they were having a RoMEo 505 event at the shop with the local Altadis rep, and when I saw this displayed at the IPCPR show last year I was RoMEo_505_Piramidesintrigued and disappointed that there weren’t samples! Astute observers of my smoking habits will note that I don’t feature a great many Altadis cigars here, mostly it’s because there aren’t many that I like, quite honestly. I really wanted to like the RoMEo Añejo, but every one I smoked had a terrible draw, and I haven’t found an H. Upmann that I really liked in 20 years. I love the Henry Clay Tattoo and Stalk Cut and a couple of Montecristos, but I haven’t had good experiences with the new Yarguera (technically an Upmann, I guess. Anyway, I keep trying, and I picked up a few sizes of the new RoMEo 505, another Añejo, a new Gispert and Steve, the manager at the shop shared a new Upmann made by A.J. Fernandez that is on the schedule for this week (I’m not entirely sure it’s on the market). I immediately went home, grabbed some dinner and hit the streets with a RoMEo 505  Piramides, a 6 ½” x 54 figurado. 505 is the area code of Nicaragua, I can think of at least two other cigar lines that have used telephone area codes in the naming of cigars, but, heck, cigar names are tough to come up with. This is a Nicaraguan puro made at the Placencia Factory in Esteli, with Habano wrapper, binder and filler from Jalapa, with additional Habano in the filler blend from Condega and Esteli. The choice to wait until I ate was a good one, as this was a pretty heavy-duty cigar! it was aggressive with a load of sweet spice and earthiness. This was a cigar that is up my alley!  I enjoyed the crap out of this cigar, and look forward to smoking it again. This isn’t probably going to appeal to the typical Romeo y Julieta smoker, but it certainly will appeal to someone who loves strong, bold cigars. My gut instinct last July was right, this is a cigar that captures my interest.


Gispert_Intenso_BelicosoFriday I had to try the Gispert Intenso Belicoso with its dark and oily broadleaf wrapper calling to me. This is another collaboration with A.J.Fernandez, who seems to be making great cigars for just about everyone! Gispert is a very old Cuban brand name going back before the revolution, but was phased out over the years. The Altadis Gispert line was a milder cigar in my recollection, but this Intenso version is not. I found another Altadis cigar that’s very much to my liking. It has a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers. This actually reminded me a lot of the previous RoMEo 505 in its boldness, and sweet spice. I loved this, it burned my fingers, and  for a cigar in the under $7 range, it’s a big winner in my book. Whattaya know, I’m two  for two with Altadis cigars! Last time that happened was when I smoked the Henry Clay Tattoo and Stalk cut back to back to see what the difference was (I think the Tattoo is richer due to the higher primings used, otherwise they both use the same tobacco varietals and are fairly close, I like them both). So the Gispert Intenso weems to be another winner…it’s got a nice box press too.


TabernacleYesterday we happened to be attending an Earthday event right near the Wooden Indian Cigar shop in Havertown, PA, where Nick Melillo was visiting with his Foundation Cigar Co. brands. I bought a few Tabernacles and El Güegüense, and sat down with a Tabernacle Torpedo for a bit. I picked up some El Güegüense in lancero and short lancero, the latter of which was a BOTL.org exlusive. The Tabernacle is another A.J. Fernandez collaboration. featuring Connecticut Broadleaf which Nick is famous for using in his days at Drew Estate where he created the Liga Privada series for Steve Saka. The little 4½” x 52 torpedo is a heater! Rich, sweet broadleaf goodness with some power behind it. It’s unfair to make comparisons, but one can’t help putting the Tabernacle and Steve Saka’s Mi Querida on the same playing field, and they are both terrific. I’m quite happy to have a handful of Tabernacles in my humidor now, yet another cigar that is everything I want in a cigar, great construction, beautiful presentation, great taste and overall experience. It was fun catching up with Nick at the event, I think I’ve known him for about fiver years, and he’s a terrific cigar maker and a fun dude. Twin Engine Coffee was also represented and paired well with the Tabernacle. Another high quality event by my friends Dave and Dan at the Wooden Indian!


Don’t forget to circle back to my last post and enter the contest to win some cool General Cigar Co. Goodies!  Also, please keep one of our readers, Patrick, in your thoughts as he goes through some medical stuff over the next few days. He always signs his comments with the tag line “Life is Good”, and we want that to remain true for him!  That’s all for today, until the next time,





Filed under Events, Review, Stores

A Montecristo, an Alec Bradley, Stage V Clinger and Some News

It’s been a weird week, and I really only smoked a couple cigars for this post. I found myself grabbing some old favorites that I’ve talked about before during the week, so I’ll talk about the two new cigars I smoked and pass on some news that came through my inbox, as well as an accessory I’ve been playing with.  One of the highlights of the week (two, actually) was the new Montecristo White Vintage Connecticut from Altadis in the oddly named MonteWhiteVintConnDouble Corona size. I say it’s oddly named because it’s only 6¼” x 50, which is more of a toro in my book. I expect a Double Corona to be closer to 7 5/8″ x 49, then again, I like a Churchill to be  7″ x 47 too.  I’m writing about this cigar for my column in an upcoming Prime Living Magazine issue, so I smoked a few.  First note is that it’s a pricey cigar, coming in around $12.50 in not cigar tax PA.  This uses a Connecticut shade wrapper grown on Altadis’ farms in Connecticut, and you get the pungent aroma and taste of alfalfa on the pre-light. Some may call this barnyard, but that grosses me out a little so I’ll go with alfalfa.  Hey, this is good stuff, I’ll have to use this in my article.  Anyway, if I had to pay $12.50 for a cigar, I’d certainly want it to be as good as this cigar was. Perfect burn and draw are expected and expectations were exceeded. It had a very smooth, yet rich flavor, it was creamy with a hint of citrus sweetness, and a little bit of pepper from the Nicaraguan and Peruvian leaf in the filler blend.  This was a great smoke, probably great in the morning with a cuppa joe, but stood up nicely in the evening, even after some ill-advised buffalo sauce with dinner. Overall a delicious cigar, in my opinion, maybe the best non-cuban Montecristo I’ve smoked.


Stage V ClingerA few weeks ago I received a cigar holding device called the Stage V Clinger (the V is a Roman Numeral 5, so it’s a Stage Five Clinger for those curious). I used the strong magnets on this coated spring steel cigar clip to attach to a chair on the porch (which, fortunately for this trial, was steel). The magnets are strong enough to hold it securely on a magnetic surface. If you find yourself without a ferrous metal surface to attach to magnetically, they include a Velcro strap as well.  The spring in the jaws of this device are very gentle, there’s just enough pressure to firmly grasp the cigar without damaging it.  I’ve only tested this on the chair, with little or no jostling.  I have not tried it on a treadmill at the gym, on a bike out on the trail, skydiving, or on a golf cart (which, by the way, is the main marketing demographic for this), but I imagine it would work in at least some of those situations. It’s a well made accessory that will hold your cigar if you need it.  I just thought of something I need to try…strapping it to the leash to hold my cigar when I take my evening walks with Macha…stay tuned for an update.


AlecBradley_NicaPuroRosado_RobustoThe other noteworthy cigar I smoked this week, strike that, I smoked several noteworthy cigars, a La Sirena Doubloon Salamone on Sunday that was quite great, and a really good Asylum Straight Jacket, both of which had spent at least the last year in the humidor. The other cigar I wanted to mention was the Alec Bradley Nica Puro Rosado. The original Nica Puro is one of my go-to cigars, it’s among the cigars with “Nica” in the name that came out in 2013 that really tripped my trigger and are regulars in any semblance of a rotation I might have. I ended up with one of these as an add-on at an Alec Bradley event with Jon Lipson at Cigar Brothers in Berwyn, PA a few weeks ago, and really was looking forward to smoking it. This is all Nicaragua, wrapper, binders (two of them) and fillers, covering the three main growing regions in the country.  I really enjoyed the cigar. The rosado wrapper gives this a little sweeter, a little “cleaner” flavor, if that makes sense.  I think this can interchange with the original Nica Puro as a go-to cigar for me, while it’s still all Nicaraguan, the rosado wrapper just brings something new and interesting to the table.



Here are a couple press releases that came through my inbox this week, reproduced verbatim in the laziest, least journalistic way possible.


Two Guys Smoke Shop & Cigars for Warriors – CIGAR BOX DRIVE

(New Hampshire) – Two Guys Smoke Shop, a three store chain of cigar shops in New Hampshire with locations in Salem, Seabrook and Nashua have begun a Full Cigar Box Drive for Operation: Cigars for Warriors.

Cigars for Warriors top priority is collecting then dispersing premium cigars to American Service Men and Women serving in combat zones (Air, Land and Sea). As a way to honor, show respect and thank those putting it all on the line for us back home.

Cigars for Warriors receives requests from many soldiers who have no one in the U.S. to send care packages to them, and would otherwise receive nothing. This mission is one of great importance as we understand that some of these fine men and women would not be able to enjoy well-deserved moments of reassurance and relaxation without the generosity of sponsors and individual donors.

The mental health benefits of a premium cigar are unsurpassed for our troops, especially with considerations that cigars are the #1 requested items by our Warriors. Two Guys Smoke Shop asks that we band together and give thanks to our Service men and women by donating a full box of cigars to Cigars for Warriors. Two Guys Smoke Shop will not only collect but will match a box of cigars for every box donated (up to 500 Boxes) from October 30, 2015 till Thanksgiving Day – November 26.

Give THANKS to our Troops, our Warriors, our Service men and women by buying and donating a full box of premium cigars for a Warrior. There is a donation box set up at each Two Guys Smoke Shop location and you may even donate online at www.2GuysCigars.com by leaving a message in the comment box that the box is for the warriors or by calling 1- (888) 2–CIGAR-2 (1-888-224-4272)


One quick note on this first item. Unfortunately, Ben Edmundson, who was instrumental in the operations of Op: CfW, passed away this week. I have no doubt that the team there will continue providing this service to our troops, but the cigar world lost a great patriot and he will be missed. I never met him, but had correspondence with him the times I sent cigar donations to him for the troops.  My condolences to his family, both genetic and otherwise.


From my buddy Omar:




Springfield, VA (October 15, 2015) – Fratello is unveiling their first limited run The Boxer Series. “The 2014 release of the Fratello Boxer was a great success for our company.  We tweaked the Fratello blend, box-pressed the cigar and people loved it,” said de Frias.  The boxer series was born from the success of the Fratello Boxer.   

The Boxer Series will only be available as a five-pack format with a limited production of 3000 units. Four new sizes are being introduced in this limited run with the same blend as the Fratello Boxer.  

The Boxer (6 ¼ X 52)

Boxeador (6 X 54)

Boxero (5 ½ X 50)

Boxista (5 X 48)

Boxerito (4 ¾ X 46)

The boxer series will debut at W. Curtis Draper Tobacconist in Washington D.C November 18th 2015.  It will begin shipping to retailers nationwide after the event.  Retail value is 45.00

For a list of Fratello Cigars product offering please visit www.fratellocigar.com/thecigar for a description.


Finally from our friends at Drew Estate:


Drew Estate Announces ACID Supercell, Subculture Exclusive for Fogue & Bates in Tulsa, OK

Thursday, October 29, 2015 — Miami, FL – Drew Estate will be releasing a new Subculture cigar for Fogue & Bates in Tulsa, OK, called ACID Supercell. The new cigar will be released at an in-store event at Fogue & Bates on November 19th, 2015. Supercell will be available exclusively at the Fogue & Bates retail shop.

The new ACID Supercell is presented in a 4 ¾ x 43 vitola, and the blend is based on the ACID Toast blend. ACID Toast has become a popular choice among ACID smokers who are looking for a fuller-bodied ACID cigar. The blend features a maduro wrapper from the San Andres Valley and has rich tobacco notes underlying the sweet taste of the ACID infusion.

When asked about the new ACID Supercell, Jonathan Drew said that, “James George at Fogue & Bates understands the ethos of Drew Estate. He has become a virtual extension of our vision, and drives it straight to consumers in the Midwest market. The new ACID Supercell has been meticulously created to honor James for everything he has added to our journey. The Supercell is stupid fresh. If you find yourself in Tulsa, definitely stop by Fogue & Bates. It’s an awesome shop run by an awesome team that we call family. ”

James George, owner of Fogue & Bates, commented that, “The Supercell project started four years ago, with the idea that the Toast is my favorite ACID blend. The one problem was that the larger size was sometimes too large for the occasion. Sometimes you just don’t have an hour to commit to a cigar. From there, Supercell was born. After four years and several blend iterations, the Supercell blend is what we’ve landed on, and I’m extremely excited about it. My relationship with Drew Estate over the years has been a fantastic partnership, and I truly believe that Drew Estate is the most innovative company in the industry. I’m happy to be partnered up with them for Supercell.”

To learn more about Fogue & Bates, call or visit their retail store at:

6929 East 71st Street
Tulsa, OK 74133
(918) 488-0818

To follow all of Drew Estate’s news, follow them on social media at @drewestatecigar.


That about wraps it up for today, the first day of Standard Time here in PA and around much of the country. I personally hate Standard Time, sure it’s light earlier, but it’s friggin dark by the time I get home. That means it wont be long before it’s freezing cold and snowy and crappy, and I want my summer back!  I’m going to have to button up the smoking porch and get the propane heaters out. Oh, and finally, here’s a question that’s been keeping me up at night (not really), but a couple weeks ago Halfwheel reported that CAO had a Pumpkin Spice Cigar hitting shelves, I never heard anything else about this, never saw any, and am left wondering if this was a “The Onion” type of  post poking fun at CAO or just to see what the reaction would be or what. Was there really a CAO Rider’s Revenge?  Enquiring minds want to know! Until the next time,


Cigar Craig



Filed under Accessories, News, Review

IPCPR Thoughts and Highlights – Part 2

Sunday at the IPCPR started out with my wife and I going to the French Market to meet some new friends for coffee before heading to the show. John Taylor recently published the book “Wings Over New Orleans“, which contains John’s personal photos and counts of Paul McCartney’s stay in New Orleans while recording Wings’ Venus and Mars. You can read Jenn’s review of it on Beatles-Freak.com. He was a fascinating guy yo talk to, very humble and down to earth, and fortunate to have had the chance to hang out with Paul and Linda on a daily basis.  It was certainly a nice break from the show floor, and the coffee was great (no beignets, the line for Cafe du Monde was insane and it was 100 degrees and humid!).


It was probably 1 PM by the time we made our way back to the IPCPR show.  We wanted to catch some of the music going on at Rocky Patel‘s booth. I’ve mentioned the custom humidor they have that is the top of a cajon, which is a wooden hand drum, and Jerry Goldenson, the VP of Sales for Pearl Drums was present in IMG_1820the booth. Jerry is a cigar lover, and worked with Rocky on this, as well as some special items for the Burn cigar club in Florida. Jerry and I have a mutual friend who made the introduction remotely. The band was great, wonderful Cuban rhythms.  Fortunately, the Cigar Oasis booth was right next to Rocky’s booth, so I got the visit with Chaim Kohn and get the low down on the IMG_1830re-designed Magna (sure, right after I bought one!) and their new WiFi app upgrades, which I have yet to try out (oddly, I’ve been too busy to worry about checking the humidity in my humidor from my phone). I’m a fan of the Cigar Oasis units, I currently use the Magna in my cabinet (and I stopped in the Prestige Import Group booth, maker of the cabinet I have, and they endorse the Cigar Oasis line as well), and the Excel in the NewAir CC-100 Humidor.


IMG_1836We stopped in the Gurkha booth to see what was new there, and among other things, they were displaying the new Maharaja, at least the beautiful packaging was on display. Pardon my cynicism, and I like quite a few cigars from Gurkha, but I would like to see a $2000 cigar before I bought it. Bianca assured me that they were in there, but there’s absolutely no information about it other than it’s got a maduro wrapper and Dominican binder and filler. Very exclusive, apparently sold out in Europe, but a little steep for my budget (no samples being given out unfortunately). They did provide me with samples of the new Heritage, Cellar Reserve IMG_1840Platinum and the Cask Blend, all made in Nicaragua. More on those as the get smoked, and maybe a future contest, who knows :-).  I hit Colin Ganley up for a taste of his Twin Engine Coffee (iced with cream and sugar, the cigar blend is delicious this way!) and he introduced me to a newcomer to the US market, but an established IMG_1841brand in Nicaragua, Santiago de los Caballeros, who make some beautiful looking cigars that I’m quite anxious to smoke. After that I finally managed to introduce my self to George Rico, of Gran Habano, I’m not sure how it took me five or six IPCPR shows to meet him, I guess he’s been busy when I’ve stopped before. He was talking to Ernesto Padilla, whom I also just formally met at the show. On the way out I got one of the very few instances of being approached in the aisle by a gentleman from IMG_1847Lighthouse Cigars, who make a line of cigars targeted toward golfers. Again, more information on that one later.  One of the highlights of the day was visiting with the guys at King’s Cigars, who we met at the 2013 show when they debuted the brand.  They are still wild and crazy guys and were having a great time in their booth. I finally got the smoke the King of Kings Broadleaf, a PA Broadleaf wrapped 6″ x 64 box press that is pretty darned tasty.


After dinner I stopped at the hotel’s designated smoking area, where they had a cash bar open, but only a couple of people were there. I have a feeling that the IPCPR will find that these hospitality areas in each hotel were under-utilized. There were places in the area to sit in an air-conditioned and comfortable lounge and have a cigar, not outside in a tent with fans and way overpriced drinks.  We had a cigar there and moved on to Don IMG_1854Leoncio’s cigar bar on Canal Street, where I bought a couple of PDR 1878 in Capa Maduro and Capa Oscuro and settled into the comfy leather sofa. We met a couple of guys from Texas who are in the process of organizing Cigar Palooza  (September 26 at the Ball Park as  Grand Prairie), then later the guys from the Cigar City Club in Atlanta joined me.  Once again proof that a fine cigar is a catalyst for making friends and good conversation.  Another long day in the books.  Need to rest up for day three.


Monday was day three, and our final day, at the show.  I made a list of all the booths I wanted to get to that we had missed or were busy on the previous two days. Unfortunately it was a long list. We started out on the far end of the hall, with Perdomo Cigars, moved to Miami Cigar and Co. , finally met Mel and IMG_1865the folks at MBombay cigars and enjoyed a Mbombay Kesara, which was exceptional. there were some beautiful handcrafted ashtrays across from IMG_1866Mel’s booth that were quite unique, check out BramWarren.com, neat stuff. I had a noon appointment at Altadis to get acquainted with their new releases, and they, of course, have an expansive booth.  They are doing some interesting things with joint ventures recently. I mentioned Rafael Nodal/RoMEo collaboration in my last post, and they sold out of the Henry Clay/Pete Johnson Tattoo, which I look forward to trying when it gets to retailers shelves. Keep in mind whenever I say something sold out at the show that just means that retailers bought it all up, it will be available on those retailers shelves sometime in the future.  There are a bunch of special edition Montecristo’s coming out, line extensions to the Espada and White lines commemorating the 80th anniversary of the brand. We grabbed some lunch at the opposite end of the floor, then started on the list again.  We met with Dave Garofalo of Two Guys Smoke Shop who walked us through the Selected Tobacco booth where he was IMG_1867displaying the Atabey, Byron and Bandolero lines which he distributes. These are all exceptional quality cigars which carry a big price. I’ve smoked a Byron and Bandolero and can say that they are top notch, and, ironically, are made in the same factory in Costa Rica that makes the MBombay line. Roberto Duran Cigars IMG_1872was next with the Big Jack addition to the Neya line, a 7×70 named for Jack Toraño, who we had a chance to visit with along with his wife as well as Miguel Schoedel.  We visited with Jose Blanco of La Cumbres, Nick Mellilo’s new Foundation Cigar Co., Dion Giolito, Yadi Gonzales of Flor de Gonzales, Dean Parsons of Epic, the boys at Evil Genius, and many more. We saw most of the people we wanted to see, but time always seems to run out. RoMaCraft was busy the whole show, as was the House of Emilio booth, as several others.  I’d say we managed to cover a lot of ground in basically two and a half days. Like I said before, more info will com out as I smoke new stuff over the coming months.


IMG_1896Monday night was the big social event of the show, the Cigar Bash, sponsored by La Palina and featuring the classic band “America”. It was held at the Mardi Gras World facility, and there were buses to shuttle us back and forth, otherwise it would have been a very hot and sweaty walk! To get to the venue we walked though the warehouse where all the floats are stored, very neat. It was a rare treat to be able to sit inside, smoke cigars, and watch a band, all the while being able to actually talk to people without screaming.  The band was great, the La Palina Red Label I started IMG_1897out with was pretty good (although I look forward to revisiting it after some humidor time) and we, of course, found a bunch of friends to hang out with. Apparently there was another party going on which we failed to hear about, but the Cigar Bash was a good time (food, open bar, music, cigars, friends, what more could you ask for?) Well worth the extra $20 each.


So, a couple of observations about the show. As far as trends go, I think Ecuador Connecticut is coming back again, and I’m seeing more and more Pennsylvania leaf used in blends and as wrappers. Barrel aging in one form or another is a hot trend, and we noticed the use of the word “pilon” more than once. Also, maybe to go along with the use of spirits barrels is the trend toward cigars made to pair with specific libations.  For the first show, I felt like the media was accepted as a valuable member as opposed to being a nuisance, which was pretty refreshing. I did see quite a few media members there, and there were many there I didn’t meet, which is a shame. It was great back in 2011 when Drew Estate hosted a media party, but one can’t expect that kind of generosity all the time. Since they had all of the hookah and vape vendors pretty well isolated at one end of the hall, there wasn’t any hard sells while walking by like there has been in the past. As you might guess, my focus is on premium cigars, and I have little to no interest in other products, hoIMG_1764wever legitimate they might be.  And lastly, one of the very first “What The Heck” moments came while finally approaching the IPCPR area in the convention center were about 5 of these huge papier-mache sculptures. While nice, my thought, as well as others I talked to, was that the money it cost to make these could probably have been put to better use. No doubt these aren’t going to the Mardi Gras World warehouse, they have probably already been destroyed as I doubt the show will be in New Orleans again soon. They probably could have saved some money by not putting IPCPR banners on all the light poles down Convention Center Boulevard too, it’s not like this was an event open to the public that needs advertising, right? At least there weren’t guys on the street corner spinning signs. I have to trust that the new CEO, Mark Purcell, knows what he’s doing, and I don’t so these are just the random musings of a casual observer. Hopefully the FDA doesn’t screw everything up and there are trade shows and events to attend in the future!


Anyway, that is a brief overview of the trip. I did bring home some contestable goodies which will happen when I feel that the cigars have recovered from their travels and are ready to smoke, so stay tuned for a midweek contest announcement one of these weeks soon.  Of the handful of cigars I smoked during the event, all of them were pretty darned great, and it’s not like I had a cigar going every minute of the day, I definitely paced myself. it’s really no fun to burn out your palate on the first day. Thanks once again to my wife and partner in crime, Jenn, who I tried really hard not to drag around this time.


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






Filed under IPCPR, News

Montecristo, Romeo and H. Upmann, and Goose’s Cigars Anniversary

imageIt’s been a nutty week. I planned on posting something mid-week, but time got away from me. Then, yesterday we went to our local SPCA to donate some old towels and stuff, and ended up adopting another dog.  I’m already doubting the wisdom of this, but apart from having to break up a bit of an incident last night, I’m sure it will work out OK.  Cherry is a very sweet brindle pitty, and we have a lot to work on.  Most of the time, Macha seems to like having a playmate, but they need some apart time now and then.  It’s part of the experience I guess. Our SPCA is not a no kill shelter, so seeing this sweet, beautiful dog had been the longest resident got to me and made me do irrational things. No excuses for not taking evening walks now!


GoosesHumidorWednesday evening we went to Goose’s Cigars in Limerick, PA to help them celebrate their 5th anniversary. It had been a while since I visited Goose’s, and I was surprised to see the humidor vastly expanded. It used to be a rather small, U shaped arrangement with a door on either end, with the area outside of that having tables and displays of gift sets, specials and samplers.  They’ve walled off the whole area and taken the glass out of the old humidor making a huge walk-in humidor that has all of their stock. It was a great improvement.  They also have a imagelarge Vape and Hookah selection, as well as RYO tobacco at the far end of the store, making it a full service tobacco store.  The Montecristo Lounge was the focal point of the anniversary celebration, with the local Altadis rep, Tom there, as well as his boss, Paul.  I chose the occasion to purchase some cigars from the Altadis line that I hadn’t smoked yet, and lit up the Montecristo Espada Guard, a 6″ x 50 toro. This is a unique Montecristo as it’s made in Nicaragua by the Placencias from Nicaraguan tobacco, all from 2008, 2009 and 2010, from Jalapa, Ometepe and Condega (it’s a bit confusing, they list a image“Habano Jalapa Viso Ometepe Vintage 2008” in the filler on the website, perhaps someone from Groupo de Maestros can clarify that!). I don’t smoke a great many Montecristos, for no other reason than I just am busy smoking so many other great cigars that I forget to get back to the traditional brands.  This Espada was really nice, and a special smoke. It was sweet with a bit of spice and quite a good cigar, and, you know me, it should be for the price. I splurged because it was a special occasion, and have no regrets. Happy Anniversary to John, Joanne and the gang at Goose’s Montecristo Lounge, nice to see things constantly improving!


imageOne of the cigars I picked up at Goose’s was the H. Upmann The Banker Annuity,  a 6″ x 52 Toro with a very annoying, yet visually attractive paper sleeve. I say it’s annoying because as I was removing the cigar from the cello the paper sleeve and bands stayed with the cello and tore the wrapper near the head. Way too many bands and wrappings for my tastes.  The cigar had a very loose, open draw, and burned quicker than i’d like. However, the flavor was very nice, a bit of coffee and old baseball glove.  I’m glad I got two of them so I can see if I have the same experience.  The website says that the blend is a recreation of the Upmann brothers blend from 1844, which seems like some marketing nonsense to me, but, once again, I invite the Groupo de Maestros to weigh in!  A quick website complaint, since I’ve referenced two Altadis brand websites already, is that they don’t have the sizes listed anywhere. I had to use retailers websites to confirm sizes and names, mostly because I was too lazy to make note of them at the time I smoked the cigars. I think a brand’s website should be a one stop shop for all the information about the cigar, blend, sizes, whatever. Things like this get under my skin!


CasadeMontecristo_ExclusivoJohn Giese gifted everyone at the anniversary event one of the Montecristo Casa de Montecristo cigars that only are sold at Montecristo lounges. I’ve had the pleasure of smoking this cigar on one occasion before, and really enjoyed it. It’s not a small cigar, it’s a 6″ x 60, which came out in June of 2014. It’s got a nice, Ecuador Sumatra wrapper and Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers and burned really well and was quite tasty. It’s rich and smooth, and not anywhere near as mild as the typical Montecristo.  Quite good, and worth a try if you happen to find yourselves in a Montecristo lounge. I’m fortunate to have two within a short drive.  Both this cigar, and the following cigar have black and silver bands that are very difficult for an amateur like myself to photograph.


RoMEo_Anejo_RobustoI took both dogs for separate walks yesterday, and on the latter walk I smoked the RoMEo Añejo robusto, which I had purchased a few weeks ago at another local shop.  This is billed as an aged version of the RoMEo, with a 2010 Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. This has been sitting on the top shelf of the cabinet for a few weeks, where the humidity is slightly lower, but it still burned like it was a bit damp, needing to be re-lit a couple times. It was very flavorful, and I dig the broadleaf, so I imagine one of these that behaved itself would be pretty darned good. I’ll have to pick a few more up to see, and I don’t think they were priced unreasonably.  Good smoke, when it was working right, and lots of potential.


I’m going to wrap this up as we have a day full of dog acclimation.  They have taken to rough housing, and we need to break that up quick. I also have some yard work I want to get to, and I’d like to get my annual walk at Valley Forge Park in this Memorial Day weekend, which I find to be inspiring.  Of course, I smoked a bunch of other great cigars this week, the Sindicato Maduro Churchill I smoked on one of yesterday’s many walks was quite good, as well as a great Foundry Worm Hole Hell-E-IN and an Alec Bradley Maxx Connecticut.  It’s the start of my favorite time of year, and while I’ll miss having a pool this summer, it’s going to be a good year with lots of great cigars!


Until the next time,




Filed under Events, Review, Stores