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Tabaquero, Punch and Montecristo Cigars and a Contest

tabaqueroThursday evening I ended up smoking a Tabaquero by Hamlet Paredes from Rocky Patel in the robusto format after hearing an interview with him on the Smooth Draws Radio show (I think they ripped off me website design, at least in concept!). What a fascinating story this guy has, and a very interesting cigar! For a guy who was used to blending cigars with Cuban tobacco, that is to say not a great deal of variety, he made a very interesting blend of Nicaraguan fillers, Mexican and Brazilian binders with a Mexican wrapper. If this had some Peruvian tobacco in the blend it might just be the perfect cigar for me! This isn’t the first one of these I’ve smoked, although it is the first robusto, and it’s a cigar that I should put more of in my humidors. I love the  strong, straightforward flavors of sweet earth, cocoa and coffee, which is very rich and palate coating. This is probably my favorite Rocky Patel cigar, with the Super Ligero coming in second, although there aren’t a great many RP cigars that do a lot for me.  Great cigar for me, and I’ll continue trying other sizes. I may look at the new Sungrown next time I see it in a shop, I’ve heard good things.

 

I would have been talking about another cigar here, one that a co-worker gifted me a few weeks ago, but something weird and stupid happened about a third of the way into the cigar while I was taking my evening walk. For some reason I stumbled and did a face plant on the street, smashing the cigar, scraping my chin and nose, among other scrapes and bruises. Macha was there to lick my face and see if I was OK, which I really didn’t know if I was or not yet. This whole thing surprised me because I’ve been walking for a long time, and thought I had it down pretty good. So I came home, cleaned myself up, and grabbed a Punch London Club Maduro to try to wrap my head around this turn of events, it freaked me out!  Ironically, it was on this exact date in 2012 I wrote about the London Club, it what I like to think was a pretty good article comparing the Punch and Hoyo de Monterrey lines. Give it a read and let me know what you think. I still have a few of both the Hoyo Sabrosos and Punch London Clubs, they are great little 5″ x 40 cigars, is it a thin corona or a fat panatela?  The Punch has maintained it’s richness and full flavor over the five years they’ve been in my humidors. The Broadleaf wrapper is oily and flavorful and the burn was perfect. This was a great choice to ponder the evening’s events.

 

MontecristoYesterday was a beautiful day for mid-February, temperatures in the 60s, which is a good 50 degrees over what it could be. Still feeling out of sorts, I napped a bit, and hung out in the yard with Macha and a Montecristo White Vintage Connecticut No. 2 torpedo. This is a 6″x 50 torpedo with the taper such that it feels like a smaller cigar than that. This cigar is made in the Dominican Republichas a vintage 2008 Connecticut Shade (Grown in U.S.A.), Nicaraguan binder and fillers from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Peru. I do like cigars with Peruvian tobacco, and I like this cigar, although I think I like the Double Corona (really a Toro, but OK) a bit better. It’s a milder cigar, with that grassyness you’ll get from the US Connecticut Shade wrapper, and a nice little spice. Certainly a quality cigar, and a good mid-afternoon choice.

 

Contest!

ContestIt’s been a while, so let’s give some goodies away!  Since I had Punch on my mind, I have a Punch Bobblehead, along with a Macanudo branded rubberized Colibri cutter and a pair of La Gloria Cubana Branded scissors. It’s always possible some cigars might fall into the box when I pack it up too, I get sloppy that way sometimes. Leave a comment here to enter, I’ll pick a winner on Wednesday! Usual rules apply, one entry per person and only comments here on this post will qualify.  Must be of legal smoking age to win.  Thanks to Victoria at General Cigar Co. for the giveaway goodies!

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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A Short Story, a Big Payback and a Couple Rocky Patel Fifty-Five Cigars

Fuente_ShortStory_MaduroFinally over the sinus thing for the most part, I trust my taste buds again, without question, and I know this because I smoked a Fuente Short Story maduro Thursday that was just a wonderful little cigar. I’ve had this in my humidor for a while, I figured since I just got some maduro Best Sellers, and I got off to a late start, this 4″ x 49 perfecto would be perfect. The Short Story has been around for as long as I can remember, which, in cigar terms, is a little over 20 years. It’s a cigar my wife would smoke when she enjoyed cigars. Back then it was just in the Cameroon wrapper, and is still a delicious cigar. The maduro has a broadleaf wrapper and has a little “dirtier” flavor to me, which I love. It’s rich, earthy and dark chocolaty. I have various Hemingways in my humidor, it seems I buy the maduros when I stop in Holt’s, they always seem to have them. It’s amazing how the Fuentes can make a cigar that tastes the same over the last  years! One odd note on the Short Story: while the rest of the Hemingway line has “Hemingway” on the boxes, the Short Story does not, yet it’s listed under that line on Fuente’s website.

 

BigPaybackFriday I was in the mood for a substantial cigar, so I went with a Room 101 Big Payback Hueso, the 6″ x 60 gordo in the line. I picked some of these up last summer when I was at Cigars International’s downtown Bethlehem store when Matt Booth was hanging out there. Ironically, I was listening to Matt on Kiss My Ash Radio while enjoying this cigar. I was a little bit behind, so the episode was two weeks old. Any time Matt appears on any show it’s a treat, full of surprises, he’s a hoot. Unfortunately, Matt is leaving the cigar industry and Davidoff is reportedly selling of the cigar under the Room 101 brand. the Big Payback line is/was a budget friendly line, a Nicaraguan Puro rolled in Honduras. I really like these cigars, in both the Nicaraguan wrapper and the Ecuador Connecticut wrapper, it’s a solid cigar that I find very appealing. I just got a box (10) of the Uncle Lee, I suppose I need to put some more of the Big Paybacks on the shopping list before they are gone for good. It’s a great cigar for a little over $6.

 

Yesterday my wife and daughter wanted to do some shopping at the King of Prussia Mall, one of the largest malls in the country and only fifteen minutes down the road.  One of my favorite things about shopping with my wife is that I can let her shop while I go to International Tobacco and sit and have a cigar. It usually ends up being a very costly cigar, but that’s OK.  Yesterday the selection was RP 55 Coronakinda slim, and the humidor tends to the classic side, without a lot of boutiques, they do have Davidoff, Padron, and many of the usual suspects. They have a coffee bar with soft drinks and are generally quite hospitable and friendly. I usually look for something I haven’t had, of course, so I picked up a couple of the Rocky Patel Fifty-Five, a “Corona” (4″ x 55) and a Toro for later. Since the Fifty-Five is inexplicably not listed on the website, I linked to Famous Smoke Shop’s listing for this, and would like to direct you to the new ad in the right sidebar. If you make a habit of shopping at Famous, click through the ad and maybe I’ll make a little dough on the side to support my “research”. They also offer a discount code, so we both win. Anyway, I lit up the pudgy little perfecto and was intrigued with the flavor. They say this cigar has Nicaraguan fillers and wrapper, and a Costa Rican binder, which you don’t see every day. RP 55 Corona-damageI got a mintyness throughout the smoke that was different and enjoyable. Unfortunately, there was a bit of chip at the cap of the cigar that I didn’t notice which resulted in the wrapper coming off completely with about an inch and a half left. I probably could have gotten a replacement if I had let the shopkeeper cut it for me, but I’m a DIY kinda guy and carry my own tools, so I didn’t press the issue. I haven’t had this kind of thing happen in a very long time, and I don’t expect it from a $9+ cigar. (As I write this, I think of the last time I wrote this and it was about another RP cigar….bad luck, I guess). Verdict: loved the flavor, hated the fact that the wrapper came off and I had to mess with it at all.

 

RockyPatel_Fifty-five_ToroSo intrigued by the flavor of the little 4″ x 55 “Corona” was I  that I look my evening walk with the Toro version of the Rocky Patel Fifty-Five. I suppose I should get one of these for my own 55th birthday in a year and a half, these were made to celebrate Rocky’s 55th birthday. As 55 is an unusual ring gauge for a cigar, I suspect a lot went into making these with special molds and all. The Rocky Patel Fifty-Five Toro is 6 ½” x 55, and has the same make-up as the little guy, both cigars have a bit of a taper at each end, which in my mind puts them into the perfecto category. I gave the Toro a much closer inspection, I certainly didn’t want to repeat the experience I had earlier in the day. I was pleased to find no flaws in this cigar, although the draw was a little on the restricted side until it got going. I found the same mintyness, with an occasional minty-cinnamonyness here and there. It was very intriguing to me, it’s so rare that I encounter an unusual flavor in a cigar any more.  While I wasn’t thrilled dropping north of $11 on a cigar, this one really didn’t bother me, I found it so interesting and special. I also don’t mind spending a few bucks in a local shop that provides the service of “husband day-care” while the better half shops, if people don’t spend money there it won’t be around!

 

In some news, I received an e-mail from Gaby Kafie of Kafie 1901 Cigars announcing that they are opening, or have opened, their own factory,  “Tabacalera G. Kafie y Cia”,  in Danli, Honduras. They were previously working with the Reyes family’s factory, having their cigars made along side such classics as Puros Indios and Cuba Aliados. Last year, Dr. Kafie introduced the Kafie 1901 Coffee with proceeds going to Cigar Rights of America.  Best of luck to Dr. Kafie and his family, I know he has a strong passion and hope he has few obstacles to success. Also of note is General Cigar Company‘s announcement that they will be adding Temple Hall Estates to their Foundry division’s FTC Heritage Series. the original Temple Hall Factory opened in Jamaica in the ’40s, and the Connecticut shade wrapped cigar will pay homage to that factory. This line joins the re-imagined Bolivar and Ramon Allones brands in the Foundry line-up. Will Cooper has the full story here.

 

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

 

CiagrCraig

 

 

 

 

 

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A Visit to Holt’s and Some of Their Exclusive Cigars: Tatuaje, Punch and Rocky Patel

Tatuaje_HCSReserva_MaduroSunday I stopped into Holt’s store on Walnut Street in Philadelphia after an excellent Philly Pops concert. I had gift card burning a hole in my wallet and I didn’t want to spend any of it on shipping (turns out I could have used it on the box of Room 101 Uncle Lee I bought yesterday on the website, would have made it $23 instead of $43…at $43 it was a deal too good to pass up if you like the cigars, which I do, and they will never be made again since Matt Booth left the cigar business). So I walked through the shop and picked up some of the Holt’s exclusive cigars they have. I already knew I wanted to get a couple of the Tatuaje HCS Reserva Maduro, a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapped cigar made at the My Father factory. I smoked one when I got home, and it was very good. It had some spice and some dark chocolate and I kinda wished I had stopped there and just got some more of these!  The size is a 5½” x 50 with a box press and was really a nice smoke. I’m told that the Tatuaje Verocu started life as a Holt’s exclusive, and that’s one of my favorite Tatuajes, although I really enjoyed the crap out of the HSC Maduro.

 

SanCristobal_Quintessence_RobustoMonday night I went with another cigar I got at Holt’s, although I don’t think it was exclusive to the store, but it caught my eye any way. The San Cristobal Quintessence is made again by Don Pepin Garcia and is distributed by Ashton, which is owned by the same parent company that owns Holt’s. I smoked the robusto again, another 5½” x 50, with an Ecuador Habano wrapper. I found this cigar to be milder than I thought it would be, with some flavors that aren’t really in my wheelhouse. It was fairly rich, with a dried fruit sweetness, and I’m sure a lot of people will love this, but it wouldn’t be one I reached for. The build was excellent and it performed well. Maybe some lingering sinus funk is to blame.

 

RockyPatel_Ocean ClubTuesday I went with the Rocky Patel Ocean Club, which has been a Holt’s exclusive for many years. Again with 5½” x 50, with a gentle press, where as the San Cristobal was round. Apparently I was buying cigars that fit easily in my pocket to minimize damage on the train rid home. This one had a very loose draw, and made me think of a Connecticut shade wrapper instead of the Nicaraguan wrapper, it was very light in color. This one I also found to be mild, with a different and interesting flavor. Still, I would trade this and the Quintessence for the Tatuaje, but that’s just my personal preference. I found it to be fairly mild, and the open draw made for a pretty quick smoke. As is my normal routine, I bought two of each, so I’ll revisit them at a later date. Since these have been on Holt’s shelves going back many years in my memory, I imaging they sell well enough, so whether I liked it or not is hardly relevant.

 

PunchVintage_Maduro_25I did grab some Arturo Fuente Best Seller Maduros, because I can’t seem to help but pick up something Fuente when I ‘m there. But the cigar I smoked tonight I have no regrets about. This was the Punch Vintage #25 Maduro, in the Corona Gorda (5½” x  46) size. First off, it’s a great size,  I don’t smoke enough corona gordas, but I’ve always been a fan. This is made in Honduras, with a blend of Honduran, Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers, and Connecticut Broadleaf binder and wrapper. This was like smoking a chocolate bar, I dug it. I would have been very happy just getting the Tatuaje and the Punch, both were up my alley and I really  liked the Punch Vintage Maduro.

 

I love stopping into Holt’s when I’m downtown, it’s a great place to pick up a few cigars and the lounge is a nice place to relax with a cigar. I still haven’t stopped into the Ashton Lounge upstairs, I’ve been to the predecessor, Mahogany, plenty of times, and I hear the new place is really nice. One of these days. Thanks to the folks at Holt’s for sponsoring a contest here a couple of months back as well as the helpful staff at the store! Also noteworthy was seeing Steve Saka’s Sobremesa and Mi Querida on an end cap.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

 

 

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Merlion Maduro, Arandoza Defcon and Norteño Edicion Limitada Cigars

The cold I managed to get after traveling to California somehow morphed into a sinus infection mid-week, so I took a few days off from cigars. In truth, smoking was the last thing I wanted to do. But before that all set in, I smoked a Merlion Maduro robusto from La Sirena Cigars. These are made at the La Aurora Factory, and are the maduro version of the Merlion made at the same factory. This was Merlion_Maduro_Robustoa sample from the 2016 IPCPR show where I got to spend a little time hanging out with Arielle and her family, who are all involved in the brand. Previous to this release, the only glimpse we had at what a Merlion Maduro might be was the single maduro version that was in the limited edition Sea Lion box. The Sea Lion is a cool little perfecto cigar, and I finally smoked the maduro version last year and was amazed by it (which was my fear, considering these were impossible to come by). Luckily, this years Sea Lion release, although limited, is the opposite, with nine maduros and one with the original Ecuador Corojo wrapper. So I was excited to smoke the Robusto, and put a box of the toros in the humidor anyway.  The maduro wrapper in a San Andrés from Mexico, and the Brazilian Sumatra binder and Brazilian, Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers from the original release stay the same. To be honest, I liked the Ecuador Corojo Merlion, but about as much as I like a lot of the La Aurora output, which is to say I want to like them, but most don’t suit my preferred flavor profile. However, slap a San Andrés wrapper on it and I’m in. I found the smoke to be milder than I thought it would be, but that could have been the impending nose condition. I love the sweet earthy flavor and  look forward to smoking this in the toro size with healthy sinuses and maybe  warmer weather. I have almost filled the top shelf of the cabinet with La Sirena cigars, I haven’t found one I didn’t like yet. I still have some of the old My Father made Churchills and Salamones hanging out there too, and I need to get some of the new Connecticut Shade to have on hand as well.

 

Arandoza_Defcon_SuperToroMy first cigar back after the sinus thing eased up was an Arandoza Defcon from the 2015 IPCPR show. This was too strong a cigar for having taken a few days off, but it’s a great smoke and I really like Robert and Pilar Arango, they are super nice folks and it was great spending some time with them at the show last summer. They are dog people too! The Arandoza line is made at La Zona, and it I had been smart and motivated, I might have taken a drive up to CI in Hamburg where Erik Espinoza was doing an event. I needed a home day though.  I love the Arandoza line, especially the Red, which is also quite strong, but I think it’s sweeter than the Defcon, with the Defcon having more savory flavors. As I said, it was a poor choice for the first cigar back after a few days hiatus. Maduro Broadleaf wrapper on this cigar.

 

HerreraEsteli_Norteno 2015 LEYesterday I went with another  San Andrés wrapped cigar, the Herrera Esteli Norteño 2015 Edicion Limitada, a pressed Churchill from Drew Estate. The Norteño line has the Mexican wrapper, a Honduran binder and fillers from Esteli and Jalapa. It’s got a flat, tongue depressor, kind of feel to it, comfortable and fun to smoke. Again, perhaps my taster is off, but this one struck me as “savory” more than sweet. It was a really satisfying cigar though, nice amount of smoke, rich and tasty. I’d smoke more of these if they weren’t so darned pricey.

 

As I’m getting ready to head in to Philly today to see the Philly Pops play Sgt. Pepper, and probably stop by Holt’s, I’m going to keep this brief.  I’ll probably look  for some of their exclusives, the Tatuaje Maduro that is a Holts exclusive looks very interesting, or the San Cristobal or La Aroma de Cuba. I tend to default to either Tatuaje or Fuente when I’m at Holt’s for some reason. Anyway, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

 

 

 

 

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Galano Primero Cigars from Ybor City

Galano Cigars is a boutique manufacturer in Ybor City, Florida that makes handmade cigars in several varieties. They have a Classico line, with a Connecticut shade wrapped robusto and Toro and Torpedos with a natural wrapper. They have the Selecto line, same sizes with a Habano wrapper. Then at the top of the scale is the Primero, the extremely limited toro that’s 6½” x 52 or 54 with a pigtail and packaged in nifty clear plastic boxes. I was the fortunate recipient of some of the Primeros, and smoked one the other night. These are limited to 2500 cigars,  and have a very rustic Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper finished with a pigtail with, due to the way they are packaged, is squished flat, giving the appearance of a cigar that hasn’t had a cap applied. It pops up with a little coaxing. The PA wrapper is the only detail available, I did a lot of searching and didn’t find a lot out about this line at all, except what they present on their website. As a matter of fact, I searched cigar-coop.com and halfwheel.com for “Galano” and came up with nothing on either site. I must have the exclusive!

Galano_PrimeroI categorize the Galano Primero as a maduro cigar, which is a good cold-weather choice for me, and I love the PA Broadleaf. I have to assume the filler of this cigar is Nicaraguan, that’s the vibe I got anyway. For a super-premium cigar at a very high price, I wonder about using what many would say is an ugly wrapper, it certainly doesn’t look the part of a refined and elegant $20+ cigar. It is made in the US, and it is very limited,  which I’m sure plays into the price. I’ve come across other US-based boutiques with high price tags, the Marcus Daniel line comes to mind. I give full credit to the torcedors for the perfect construction and draw on this cigar, and it has loads of great flavor. Dark, lush flavors with a bunch of sweet spice, dark fruit, coffee and cocoa. I loved it, it was really quite good, and I’ll definitely smoke it again. I’m not sure I wouldn’t buy three Nica Rusticas, or a bunch of other mid-priced cigars, over one of these, but it’s certainly a cigar worth trying and enjoying.  I’m appreciative of the opportunity, this cigar is worthy of recognition. This factory is now on my list of places to visit the next time I find myself in Ybor City (which will be the first time!).

 

That’s all for now, I’m trying to decide if I want to go to a cigar event tomorrow night or not. I’ve got the winter blues I guess, and my back porch is quite comfortable with the propane heater, going out after a long day at work is something I really have to talk myself into. Anyway, that’s all for now, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

 

 

 

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