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Tobacco Shop Etiquette Tips from Tobacco Express in Claymont, Delaware

The folks at Tobacco Express in Claymont, Delaware reached out to me and asked me to post this tobacco shop etiquette guide. I don’t generally do guest posts, but I recently read a similar piece by my friend Matthias of FineTobaccoNYC.com and this seemed like it was a good way to spark some discussion. I’m not 100 percent on board with the “Dress the part” part, I’m a jeans (or shorts) and t-shirt kinda guy, but there are some good points. It’s also important to point out that the sponsor if this post has a shop in Delaware, where indoor smoking is very rare, many cigar shops don’t allow smoking.

 

Tobacco Shop Etiquette

Entering any tobacconist can be deemed a sacred experience, whether you’re a hobbyist or a first time smoker. Like dining in a fine restaurant or walking through a museum, there’s a code of etiquette to follow when you’re in a tobacco shop.

Respect the regulars. If you’re a new customer, exhibit patience when you enter a tobacco shop. Most often, some of the shop’s regulars will be present when you decide to go. Because these frequent customers bring in a lot of consistent business, the tobacco shop’s staff will most likely be catering to their needs to keep them coming back. Rest assured that you will be given the attention you deserve – it may just take a minute.

Dress the part. You don’t have to walk into the tobacco shop in a suit and tie, but you shouldn’t be in swim trunks or sweatpants, either. Think casual Fridays at work – wear jeans and a blazer or button down to fit in to the crowd.

Get to know the tobacconist. Like having a good tailor or a go-to barber, the in-house tobacconist will serve as your lifeline in the world of tobacco and tobacco products. Forming a relationship can help you stay in the know when new products come in, when special events are being held around the store, or small perks like free lighters or cigar cutters.

Act calmly. Enter the shop quietly and be mindful of other customers around you. They’re at the shop to relax and enjoy their time, so avoid a bustling, booming entrance. Always make sure that the doors close behind you when you’re moving throughout the shop. Temperature and humidity are of paramount importance in the tobacco industry, particularly in the humidor. Be mindful of this area and make sure the door shuts tightly behind you.

Introduce yourself and make friends. Like the tobacconist, the shop’s regular customers can make product recommendations, show you tips and tricks that they’ve picked up throughout the years, trade tobacco products or accessories, and be a source of friendship and camaraderie in the shop.

Don’t light up without the shopkeeper’s consent. While it may seem arbitrary, it’s proper to ask before lighting up your tobacco product in store. Other things you shouldn’t do in a tobacco shop include: light up in the humidor, bring your own selection of tobacco products, or haggle prices.

Familiarize yourself with this code of conduct and you’ll be welcomed into a tobacco shop anywhere, any time.

These tobacco etiquette tips brought to you by Tobacco Express, a tobacco shop in Claymont, DE.

 

Thanks to the folks at Tobacco Express for sharing this. I’ll try to get down to Claymont to visit one of these days, it’s not too far away!  One more thing: the Philly Cigar Festival will be happening this Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017 in Pottstown, PA.  I’m not sure I’m going to make it, but I’m told there may still be some tickets left. You may recall that this was scheduled for last spring then postponed, and I hope the winners of the contests I had earlier in t the year can make it.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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An LH Premium Cigar and a La Gloria Cubana Event

LH_LaVidaIslaMonday I smoked a cigar from the IPCPR show that Nick Syris (LH Premium Cigars & Smooth Draws Radio) gave me when I saw him in Island Jim’s booth. He was exhibiting in the same booth because 3R Cigar Distributors in Pittsburgh is distributing LH Premium cigars, as well as 1502, Leaf by Oscar and Island Jim cigars. The cigar Nick gave me is a collaboration between Nick and Island Jim Robinson, which was to be called La Vida Isla, but is moving forward as a “special edition” called the “Nick & Jim P.B.E”, Pre-Banded Edition. I know, the example  smoked had a band, but the band Nick used on the samples is one he uses for his non-US LH brand. The cigar has an Ecuador grown Vuelta Abajo seed wrapper and binder and Nicaraguan & Peruvian fillers an is made in Costa Rica. This was a fantastic cigar, rich and meaty with the nice little spice that the Peruvian tobacco has (and I really like Peruvian tobacco). This is a medium bodied cigar that I could smoke every day.

EPC_LGCLast night I attended an event at the International Tobacco (or is it CigarCigars, I’m not sure they’ve officially rebranded the store since acquiring it last summer) in the King of Prussia Mall. Yes, it’s a cigar shop in a mall that you can smoke in! I’ve talked about it before, let the wife shop in the largest mall in the country and hang out and smoke cigars, it’s a beautiful and dangerous thing! Anyway, they had a ticketed event featuring La Gloria Cubana cigars featuring Ernesto P. Carillo, who founded the La Gloria Cubana brand and sold it to what is now General Cigar Co. in 1999. Of course, Ernesto now owns EPCarillo Cigar Co. I’ve been fortunate to have met a lot of people in the cigar business, but this is only the second time CC_KOPI’ve met Ernesto, and he’s someone I hold in high regard, as I was a huge fan of his La Gloria and El Rico Habano brands in the 90s. There were 30 tickets sold for the event, and there were some of the people from several of the twelve stores in the CigarCigars chain (I think there are 5 or 6 of the stores within a ten mile radius of my home). Included in the ticket price were three La Gloria Cubana cigars, the new Coleccion Reserva in robusto, a Serie R No. 5 Natural and a La Gloria Corona Gorda Maduro from the original line. I lit up the Coleccion Reserva, I’ve smoked and enjoyed some IPCPR samples of this cigar, and in Ernesto’s talk he disclosed that the blend is a hybrid of the old El Rico Habano and the La Gloria Artesanos de Miami. It’s no wonder I like this cigar. It was a great event with hors d’oeuvres and Jim CC_EPCBeam spirits (of which I don’t partake). One of the things Ernesto also talked about was the way the cigar industry cooperates, crediting several people for helping him in the 90s when La Gloria exploded after getting a high rating in Cigar Aficionado, forcing him to open a factory in the Dominican Republic to try to meet the demand.  This was evidenced even now by the fact that he is, once again, collaborating with the company which bought his brand. Great event with a legendary cigar maker and a great bunch of people. Thanks to Tom, Rami, Steve Mike, Tom and the rest of the staff for a good evening.

LaGloriaCubana_Colección Reserva_TorpedoTonight I did something I rarely do and lit up another La Gloria Cubana Coleccion Reserva, this time in the torpedo. I had a Serie R Esteli the other night which is a cigar I have really enjoyed over the last few years, along with its maduro counterpart. Perhaps the Coleccion Reserva is my new favorite in the LGC line. Is it the fact that I now know that it has a connection to the El Ricos of old that I loved? the cigar is perfectly balanced, has a touch of sweetness and spice and is a tasty smoke. Burn was perfect and flavors were awesome. It’s a good thing, because I bought a box and had Ernesto autograph it. I don’t have a lot of autographed boxes, this one joins Jorge Padron, Nick Melillo and Bernie Parent. I continue my 20 year love affair with La Gloria Cubana cigars, and my LGC dedicated humidor is overflowing!

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

CigarCraig

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Villiger, General Cigar, and Drew Estate Cigars

Since I posted the contest Wednesday (go enter if you haven’t already!), I have a fee more cigars than normal to post about. Bear with me, it was a pretty good week!  We’ll start off with Villiger‘s newest release, the La Flor de Ynclan. A couple of months ago a package arrived at my door that weighed about 12 pounds and I thought “what the heck is in here?” It turned out to be a little box with three La Flor de Ynclan cigars in Churchill, torpedo and robusto sizes, and a bottle of Zaffra Rum, a very generous gift, many thank to the folks at Villiger and Creativas! Most of my loyal readers know that I don’t drink, so one of these days (and I should have done it while the weather was warmer!), I’ll have to have some people over and have them sample this rum and put out a spread of Villiger cigars. From the Villiger website:

 

The La Flor De Ynclan is a special cigar, diligently crafted by Heinrich Villiger and master blender Jose Matias Maragoto of ABAM Cigar Factory in the Dominican Republic.

Heinrich Villiger, chairman of the board of Villiger Soehne AG, came across a young ambitious Cuban native 22 years ago in the Dominican Republic. That Cuban, Jose Matias Maragoto was an unknown cigar maker, who was beginning a new life in a new country. Fast forward two decades, the once untested Matias Maragoto is the overseer of all Villiger made product made in the DR. The Flor de Ynclan cigar, is the fruition of a bond between two different men from different backgrounds, over the love of tobacco.

The La Flor De Ynclan is a cigar that presents a distinct full-flavor experience, due to the extended aging of the tobacco. Choice Nicaraguan and Dominican filler tobacco, along with a true Indonesian binder, wrapped in a beautiful Ecuadorian wrapper make the La Flor De Ynclan a cigar that has been worth the wait.

FlordeYnclan

 

I started with the Churchill, a beautiful 7″ x 48 (close enough), with the above-mentioned components. I thought this was a terrific cigar. It was solid medium, and had a quality that I though would suite the European market well. It was complex with some citrus sweetness and a twinge of spice. There have been some Villiger cigars that I really liked, some were so-so, but this one stands apart, I think. It was very tasty, worth a try. I am disappointed that they discontinued the Trill line (made at Tabacalera Palma), although the name is kinda dumb, the cigar is good. I bought a box while I had the chance.

 

BolivarMoving on, I found myself at The Wooden Indian Tobacconist once again where Sean Williams, the Cohiba Brand Ambassador, was appearing for a meet and greet with the lounge membership. I first met Sean at the 2011 IPCPR show, in his El Primer Mundo booth. Ironically, Willie Herrera was hanging out in the booth with him at the same time, so it was also when I met Willie. I got there early and bought some General Cigar Co. cigars that I hadn’t smoked before, as well as a couple of the newer Sean_CohibaBolivars that I’ve enjoyed in the past. The only Cohibas that they had in stock were the Macasar, and I had a couple of those in the humidor already (and they are really pricey!). I was in the mood for Broadleaf, so the Bolivar 652 Toro was the smoke of choice. I know, I know, the Bolivar has a Connecticut Habano Maduro wrapper, not Broadleaf, but it was as close as I was going to get, OK?  This was released at the 2015 IPCPR show, and was Michael Giannini’s project re-imagining the Bolivar (and Ramon Allones). I like the box design, but I can’t say I love the band, it could have been classier, not Rami_Generalthat my opinion counts. I wonder what Mr. Giannini is up to? The Bolivar cigar is great, to my palate. I dig the closed foot and pigtail cap on these and they are very well priced. Anyway, it was a great evening at the Wooden Indian. Dave and his staff are top-notch and it was nice catching up with Sean ( and Rami, the area sales rep, another cool dude).  One last thing about this cigar. It’s neither on the Cigarworld.com or the Foundry websites, the only info I have is from the General Cigar Co. press info from the show.

 

LigaPrivadaSerieUnico_AI slipped back and forth between General Cigar Co. and Drew Estate this week, but I was probably heavier on the DE. I had to smoke another of the Florida Sun Grown toros since I bought a few more at the Wooden Indian charity event, and it was pretty darned tasty. Friday I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to smoke, and decided to go big and smoke a Liga Privada Serie Unico “A” that came from the Connecticut Barn Smoker. I probably should have swapped it for one from the 2014 two count box, but I was too lazy.  An “A” is a traditional Cuban size, it’s 9″ x 47, two notable examples being the Cuban Montecristo and the Sancho Panza Sancho. I took a walk with this cigar and when I got home an hour later I was just hitting the 6″ mark.  It was delicious, but due to its length, was on the milder side for a Liga Privada. It’s a good cigar, no doubt, and actually burned faster than I would have thought, I was finished in a little over two hours. From what I can tell, this is more of a T52 blend as it has the Connecticut stalk cut Habano wrapper, so I guess I’m still looking to satisfy my Broadleaf desire. I’ll find something today. These are only available at events, and are probably considered something of a unicorn in the Liga Privada world. I loved it, I thought it was delicious, but if I had ponied up a bunch of $ on the secondary market I’d have felt a little let down.

 

AcidKubaCandelaSince the current contest features a Drew Estate Acid KubaKuba Candela, I was kinda challenged to smoke one. Fortunately, I had one, as well as a couple of the little Blondie Candelas. I could have wimped out and went with the Blondie and gotten it over with, but why not just go for the gusto?  The regular KubaKuba is just distasteful to me, can’t even stand the smell.  I smoked a Kuba Maduro once in Nicaragua after about eight cigars and it was enjoyable. I entered this with as open a mind as I could muster, and, to lend credence to that, I didn’t take a spare cigar on my walk. I was committed (or should be). Happy to report that I enjoyed the cigar. The Candela wrapper has some bitterness that counters the sweet floweryness of the infusion. If one doesn’t like Candela cigars, I don’t imagine this one is going to change that opinion, because the grassy candellaness (my made up word for the day) is apparent. But, like it’s siblings in the Acid line, it’s well made with quality tobaccos. If you like the Acid line, try this, it’s probably going to be interesting. If you like Candela wrapped cigars, try this. If you don’t like either Candela or infused, I don’t know what to tell you…maybe this one would be a good change of pace, open your mind!

 

I was going to add one more cigar in here, but it’s getting long, I’ll circle back to that cigar. It was good and came highly recommended, I want to smoke another one and pay a little more attention to it before writing about it. Also, I bought a ticket to a Meet and Greet with Ernesto Carillo at the CigarCigars King of Prussia Mall store (smoke while your wife shops!) on Wednesday, October 11 which seems like a good deal, $25 for three cigars, booze and hors d’oeuvres and the chance to talk to a legend in the cigar business. Interestingly, this is a General Cigar event, featuring the new La Gloria Cubana Colleccion Reserva.

 

That’s all for now, until the next time, when we’ll select a contest winner,

 

CigarCraig

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Rolling Thunder, Veritas and Hoyo de Monterrey Cigars

RollingThunder_50CalMaduro_RobustoWhile I was at the IPCPR show I stopped by the Veritas booth and while I was waiting to meet and talk to Chris Weber, I spoke with Dave Cribbin about this Rolling Thunder cigars.  This week I smoked the Maduro .50 Caliber robusto, and I had every intention of smoking the Connecticut and Habano versions, but some other things came up. When Dave gave me the samples I had him mark the maduro since I couldn’t really distinguish between it and the Rolling Thunder IPCPRHabano (the Connecticut is on the darker side too, but it’s a bit lighter). I believe these are in the “Pre-War Vintage” line, there’s also a “Boot Camp Blend”, which the website indicates is on the milder side. The Maduro has a Nicaraguan wrapper and binder, and fillers from Honduras (Habano) and Nicaragua (Jalapa and Esteli). This 5″ x 52 robusto, as I alluded to before, has a lighter shade maduro wrapper (or the Habano is dark), and was a very meaty, savory cigar, no real sweetness, but savory. I really liked the cigar, it was different than a typical maduro, and was well made. I am looking forward to smoking the other two samples I have.These are sold on the website, and there’s also a place to make an additional donation to Cigars for Warriors, which is nice.

 

Veritas_ToroI finally did get to talk to Chris Weber of Veritas Cigars at the show, he’s from Delaware, which is down the road from me, and I’d seen him checking in to local shops on social media. I smoked the Veritas toro this week and was really impressed. The 6″ x 52 toro, my preferred size, has a Brazilian Arapiraca Maduro wrapper,  Dominican Olor binder and fillers from Peru, Colombia, Nicaragua & Dominican Republic. This one had the sweetness I like and was quite and exceptional cigar. The band is plain, black with white borders, and from the back it could be mistaken for another popular brand, but it’s not. The similarity is that it’s a terrific cigar, but it stands on its own in flavor and quality. This is a cigar I’ll be smoking more of, for sure.

 

Hoyo_LaAmistad_RobustoI usually write a post on Wednesday evenings, but I blew that off to head back down to the Wooden Indian and have a smoke with Jack Toraño of General Cigar Co. I always seem to miss hanging with cigar makers, reps and brand owners/managers/evangelists, whatever, when I either find out they were in the area too late, or am at work while they are visiting stores during the day. When I saw Jack was in the vicinity, I reached out to him and he let me know he was stopping by the JackTWooden Indian. I picked up a few cigars while there (weekday special: buy 5, the 6th is $1!), and lit up a Hoyo La Amistad by AJ Fernandez. This isn’t a new cigar to me, and is one I really enjoy, which is why I bought more considering I still had some at home in the humidor. It was great catching up with Jack, a true gentleman and good dude. Always nice to see Rami, our local General rep, too. Thanks to Dan and Todd for hanging out a bit past closing time!

 

Hoyo_LaAmistadSilver_ChurchillI picked up a couple of the new Hoyo La Amistad Silver while I was at the Wooden Indian, they only had the Churchill size, which is OK because I like Churchills and don’t smoke enough of them. A 6 7/8″ x 48 just doesn’t seem that big these days! This is another cigar from Tabacalera Fernandez which consists of an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan Habano binder and Nicaraguan fillers (Estelí, Condega). When I was talking with Jack about his fondness for the original Hoyo La Amistad, he said that the new-this-year Silver was even better. This surprised me because the original is really good, the Silver is better?  I have to say that I really did enjoy the Silver, until it got to the last two inches when it got a little funky, but it’s pretty new and should definitely be stellar with some age. For me it’s on a par, and I can’t really say how it was different, it just was, and quite enjoyable. More to come on that one.

 

That’s all for tonight, I had thought of a clever contest concept, but then I forgot what it was! So when I remember it, I’ll put something together, although I did meet m contest quota for a bit, didn’t I?  I’m sure you’ll disagree!   Anyway, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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Drew Estate Charity Pig Roast at The Wooden Indian Cigar Shop

PigRoast1For about the 7th year I stopped by the Wooden Indian in Havertown, PA for their annual pig roast and fundraising event for Drew Estate Charities. This year the weather was spectacular, they had tents on the front lawn and along side of the building. Dave and his staff at the Wooden Indian, in addition to running the best cigar store and lounge in the area, put on a fantastic event. The cigar specials featuring Drew Estate products this year was ridiculous. They were offering a box of Dirty Rats with a two box purchase (plus 14 cigars, and all kinds of other goodies). I PigRoast2suppose if I had the room (in humidors and on credit cards) I would have jumped at that. They had the new Undercrown Sungrown and Florida Sun Grown on hand for sale as well as just about anything you might want from Drew Estate. Representing Drew Estate was Pedro PigRoast3Gomez, Chris Stone and Alex Mayer, and Broc Jackson of Kensington Jewelers (the guy who makes all the cool Drew Estate jewelry) was on hand as well. There were also other store owners and reps from other cigar companies there supporting the cause. The BOTL PA Chapter and Cigar Cartel Facebook Groups were represented as well as other local cigar groups. This event is a big deal.

 

PigRoast4The whole point of this event is to raise money for the Drew Estate Charities. There was a whole bunch of very special Drew Estate goodies the centerpiece being an original canvas by Jessi Flores of Subculture Studios. While I didn’t stay for the raffle drawing/auction, I do know that they raised $9000 for Drew Estate Charities! This PigRoast5amount of money can actually build 5 houses for families in Nicaragua! A job well done by everyone at the Wooden Indian and the generosity of the attendees. While I can rarely stay for the whole event, it’s always a great time when I’m there. I smoked one of the new Undercrown Sungrown in the belicoso size while I was there and it was spectacular. When I got home I took a walk with a KFC Swamp Thang robusto, which was also tasty.

 

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

 

Cigar Craig

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