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“With All Due Respect, Mr. Baker, I’d Like to Keep My Job” a Guest Post By Gary Korb

Going  into this long weekend, here’s a special guest post from our friends at Famous Smoke Shop, please visit their cigar smoker’s right hub at http://fda.famous-smoke.com/

 

“With All Due Respect, Mr. Baker, I’d Like to Keep My Job”By Gary Korb

 

When I moved from my native state of New Jersey to Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley in 2003, there were some nice advantages. Among them were fewer traffic jams, lower taxes and more places where I could smoke premium cigars, including my place of work, a national online premium cigar retailer. Back then, you could light-up a cigarette or a cigar at most bars, some restaurants, and of course, the cigar stores.

Eventually, the State passed a more restrictive smoking law. No more smoking in restaurants, offices, or bars, with some very few exceptions. No surprise, since this was the case in my former New Jersey, and anti-smoking regs just tend to go viral. But I could still enjoy cigar in my company office thanks to a special State permit, and fortunately, the retail cigar store and restaurant/cigar bar my company also owns was granted the appropriate licenses, etc. Yes, we played by the rules, and I, along with my fellow employees were able to continue doing one of the things we enjoy most – smoking a good premium handmade cigar. (One half of our building is cordoned-off as a non-smoking area for employees who do not partake.) Besides, smoking cigars is part of my job. That’s what I do. I smoke and write about premium cigars for a living. And I’m not alone. Pennsylvania also happens to be home to several other nationally-known online cigar retailers, not to mention dozens of brick & mortar tobacco shops owned by hard-working businessmen and women across the State.

Everything’s going fine until I see a news blurb on this Cigar Smokers’ Rights page about State Representative, Matthew Baker, who has introduced House Bill HB-1309 to the Pennsylvania General Assembly. If passed it would prohibit smoking in premium cigar retail stores, cigar bars, private clubs, casinos and all other indoor businesses and venues in Pennsylvania. REALLY, Mr. Baker? Isn’t it enough that the tobacco retailers in Pennsylvania have a hard enough time fighting-off tobacco tax increases, and you want to just pull the whole rug out from under all of us? If this bill should pass, a lot of people would be out of work and companies like mine would be hit the hardest. That’s a lot of tax dollars that the State would soon be out of, as well.

Then there are all of the consumers, the cigar smokers who not only buy their cigars at local cigars shops here, but also have the opportunity to light-up in them. NOTE: Most cigar smokers do not smoke inside their homes. They need places like cigar stores, private clubs, or the Sands Casino, for example.

Fighting taxes and the FDA is one thing, but fighting for our right to smoke, which is still legal in the United States, is another. Having spent almost 16 years in the cigar business, I’ve grown accustomed to the shrill harping of the anti-smoking crowd, but this goes beyond the pale. Therefore, I want to encourage my fellow Pennsylvania cigar smokers to fight the passage of House Bill HB-1309 by every legal means necessary. (One of our customers suggested a protest herf in front of Rep. Baker’s house.) Since protests are en vogue these days, maybe that’s what it’s come down to. Or to put it another way by paraphrasing anchorman Howard Beale’s famous line from the movie, Network, “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!”

 

GaryKorbGary Korb is the Executive Editor at CigarAdvisor.com, a premium cigar news, information and review website.

 

Thank you to Gary for sharing this, and Famous Smoke Shop. Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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Amador Garcia Cigars

This is a Wednesday quickie highlighting the Amador Garcia Superior cigars. Last August I heard from Antonio Garcia asking if he could send me a couple of the cigars he and his cousin were working on, and a couple of weeks ago I received a package with a couple of samples, the Robusto and Toro in the Natural line and the Churchill in the maduro line. Their website is in its infancy, it looks like eventually the cigars will be available for purchase, but, as of this writing, there are no cigars listed. I was hoping to get some blend information from  there, but I’ll have to rely on the information related in the letter I received with the cigars. They are made in the Dominican Republic, presumably at Tabacalera Amador Garcia. Guess which one I chose first!

 

AmadorGarcia_SuperiorMaduro_ChurchillThe Amador Garcia Churchill Maduro is a 7″ x 50 Churchill, with a dark, rustic wrapper. The Superior Maduro has a Mexican San Andrés wrapper, with Nicaraguan binder and Dominican filler. This cigar was pure espresso from the start, right up my alley! It had the dark, rich bitterness I like with some bitter-sweet chocolate on top of the espresso. The construction was excellent, the burn was straight and even with a flat burn, and the draw had just the right amount of resistance. This was a wonderful smoke, and burned for the better part of two hours. This is a cigar I would have in my regular rotation, if I had one I smoke too many different cigars to settle into a pattern, and you’d get bored reading about the same cigars every week!. Surely it would fit into the go-to category. Thumbs up!

 

AmadorGarcia_Superior Natural_ToroThe Amador Garcia Superior Natural is listed as an Ecuador wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and Dominican filler. The Toro I smoked was 6″ x 52, and, like it’s maduro cousin, was exceptionally crafted. I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that the wrapper is an Ecuador Connecticut, as it was lighter in color, although on the darker end of the scale for that varietal, but the flavor had the creaminess that I associate with the Connecticut leaf grown under the cloud cover of Ecuador. It was solidly medium in strength, but had loads of rich, milk chocolate and coffee with cream. Loads of flavor with a great burn and draw. This one came in under two hours, and built-in strength a bit towards the end, maintaining a flat and even burn. I’m looking forward to seeing where these fall price-wise, and how they end up marketing them, because for an unknown (to me, at least), new brand, they are making excellent cigars that taste great.

 

That’s all for now. Memorial Day weekend is coming up in the US, so pick out some great smokes and have a great weekend! Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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Epic Cigars with Dean and Mick at the Wooden Indian

EpicMaduroGordoFriday evening I went down to the Wooden Indian Tobacco Shop in Havertown, PA to smoke some Epic cigars with brand owner Deans Parsons and his national sales manager, Mick, and of course, Dave and Dan at the shop. I first was introduced to Dean at a cigar shop in Colorado the night before the 2014 Rocky Mountain Cigar Festival, by Eric from Cigar Dojo. Dean is one of those cigar manufacturers that I make a point to visit and support whenever he makes an appearance close by, he and Mick are just really likable guys, and the Epic cigar line is very, very good. As is my custom, I bought a handful of Epic cigars to add to my inventory at home, and lit up an Epic Maduro in the 6″ x 60 Gordo size. As always, this is a great smoke with sweet coffee/cocoa notes that’s well made. this line, to my memory, used be called the Maduro Reserve but that’s been simplified over the years to just Maduro. The Combination of Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper, a Cameroon binder and Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers are rolled in the Charles Fairmorn factory in the Dominican Republic as is all of the cigars bearing the Epic name. The largest output of this factory is the Kristoff line. I love all of the cigars in the Epic line, but I always default to the Maduro for some reason (OK, I know the reason, 90% of the time I default to maduro!) I continued my Epic cigar run through Saturday.

 

Epic_SmokingShieldsExclusiveOne of the special projects Dean recently worked on was a cigar for the Smoking Shields Cigar Club, a fraternal organization of cigar smoking law enforcement officers out of New York. I had the opportunity to purchase one of these special cigars at the event, so I jumped on it. After lightning up the Epic Smoking Shields Exclusive yesterday, I want more! Holy crap is this a great cigar for my palate! It’s a 6″ x 54 Toro, with the Brazilian maduro wrapper again, this time with a Dominican Olor binder and Dominican fillers (translated from a German e-tail site that carries the marque, Atlantic Cigars has them too). It’s a beautiful cigar, bearing the Smoking Shields band primarily, with the Epic band in the secondary position. It starts out straight espresso, that great, rich, a little bitter, but delicious flavor that makes a shot of espresso special!  Right about the time the Epic band needs to be removed, it shifts from medium to full in strength, something that Dan at the Wooden Indian mentioned and turns out to be true (I’ve found that Dan has an excellent palate). Some of my favorite cigars recently are the Mi Querida, the Tabernacle, Nica Rustica (all broadleaf, by the way) , but this is a cigar that fits into the same category, and it burned as perfectly as a cigar could burn, effortless draw, straight as an arrow and all the tobaccos burned at the same rate leaving a nice, flat ember when ashed. the folks at Smoking Shields are lucky to have such a great cigar to represent them!  Great job on this one Dean!

 

EpicLaRubiaSGAlmost a year ago I smoked a pre-release sample of the Epic La Rubia, the Connecticut shade offering in the Epic range. Since then I’ve had a few of the 4½” x 60 Short Gordos in the humidor waiting for the right time to smoke. Oddly, I love this size. It’s a little bigger than the Nub line, shorter than a 6″ x 60, just right for me if I have to smoke a 60 ring cigar (not that I don’t smoke my share of 6″ x 60s). Not a commercial, but my friends at Best Cigar Prices like this size too, they have a whole bunch of exclusives in what they call the Robolo, many of which I’ve sampled and enjoyed.  I guess that was a bit of a commercial. Anyway, Dean told me long ago that his Canadian customers requested this size, which is curious and unexpected in my mind. So after dinner and before a movie was the perfect time to bust one Epic_LaRubia_ShortGordoif these out and light it up. As with all of the other Epic cigars in my experience, it burned well. Like the pre-release sample I smoked last June, this was a solid medium bodied cigar, with a hint of the Ecuador Connecticut twang and a good core flavor. This has a San Andrés binder that gives it a little extra sweetness to offset the grassyness of the wrapper, and Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers. Another winner from Epic, it’s a great anytime cigar that is neither boring nor overwhelming. I’m happy I have more of these on hand!

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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Oscar Habano and Tatuaje Pudgy Monsters Mummy Cigars

OscarHabano_SixtyHappy Wednesday everyone!  Over the weekend I picked up a couple of the Oscar Habano cigars with the candela outer wrapping.  I selected the Sixty for my Monday evening walk. It looks pretty ugly at first glance, the dry, green outer wrapping, a candela leaf taking the place of cellophane, but under that is a beautiful Ecuador Habano wrapper over a Honduran binder and fillers from Honduras and Nicaragua. This Sixty is 6″ x 60 as you would suspect. I got a toro as well, but had the time for the Sixty, so why not?  I’m one of the oddballs in the blogging game that doesn’t mind a 60 ring cigar. This was a terrific cigar, almost worth the $13 price tag, although I expect a lot from cigars in that price range. It was smooth, rich and chocolaty with some woody notes. This is from the same factory that makes the Leaf by Oscar, which is fairly obvious given the presentation, but it’s a totally different smoke.  I’m a fan of the Leaf line, most of the wrapper varieties, at least most of them, and this compliments that range quite well. It may be a little more suave than that line. I wasn’t disappointed.

 

Tatuaje_PudgyMummyLast night I went with another cigar from the Tatuaje tour pack that I mentioned last time. Included were three of the Pudgy Monsters selections, of which I selected the Pudgy Mummy. This cigar is presented in a 5¾”x 47 size, an eighth of an inch longer and one ring gauge larger than a traditional corona gorda. I rather expected the Pudgy series to all be robustos, so this one was a nice surprise. My experience with the Tatuaje Monster series is limited, I can only really remember smoking a Mummy a couple years ago, a Wolfman, and I have a Hyde floating around somewhere, I think. The Pudgy Mummy is a Nicaraguan Puro, with a Nicaraguan Criollo wrapper, and I love a closed foot.  I decided to try a V-cut on this one, once in a while I remember I have the Xikar XV and whip it out. I figure if the draw isn’t right I can always cut it again. In this case, it gave the perfect draw, and the cigar burned well, needing very few corrections. I thought it was a bit mellower than I’m accustomed to with the Tatuaje line, very smooth and dignified. This would be e nice cigar for someone who finds many of the Tatuaje offerings to be stronger than they like. It had some nice, cedary notes with a bit of spice.  Nice cigar, I suppose it was reminiscent of the full size version. I can hardly wait to delve into the other two Pudgy Monsters examples, I believe they are the Drac and Wolf, although the Wolf band looks different from pictures I’ve seen.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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Joya de Nicaragua, La Sirena and Tatuaje Cigars and a Contest Winner

MiQuerida_AnchoCortaI continued this week’s cigar version of comfort food, smoking cigars I know I love and won’t disappoint. I just haven’t felt adventurous lately. I have some cigars I need to get around to smoking, I just felt like going with great cigars. I sat down and started writing this forgetting I had written about the Mi Querida from Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust on Wednesday. Since I didn’t want to abandon what I wrote, here it is:  Mi Querida is named after Gomez Addam’s often used pet name for his wife, Morticia in the ’60s sitcom The Addams Family…no, that’s not right, it’s actually an idiom for “my mistress”, side-chick or as they say in South Philly, “Goomad” (Saka couldn’t use “Goomad” because Antony Renzulli of Twin Smoke Shoppe named the Churchill in his La Zona made Renzulli line that). By now you’ve read everywhere that the Mi Querida is Saka’s broadleaf cigar, and it’s made at the NACSA factory in Esteli. This factory is better known for making inexpensive bundle cigars like Manteqilla, La Primadora, Villar y Villar, and part of them making Mi Querida, a true premium cigar, was Steve offering his manufacturing expertise to help that factory up their game, so to speak. Anyway, it’s a terrific smoke, and after smoking several sizes in the line, I think this robusto up there among my favorites, although I wouldn’t say no to any of the sizes. Sobremesa was the sophisticated, nuanced offering, Mi Querida is the straight-forward, sweet broadleaf maduro, full bodied flavor bomb. Yummy, well made and a staple in my humidor. I really need to get my hands on some Umbagogs!

 

Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Dark Corojo El Martillo - @joyacigarsAnyway, on with the current smokes of the week. Another all time favorite of mine is the Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Dark Corojo. I had a couple in the 5½” x 54 El Martillo size that Willie Herrera stuffed in my hand at the 2014 Rocky Mountain Cigar Festival. I distinctly remember the occasion, because he was smoking a Villiger Trill, which was relatively new at the time, commented that it was good,  and I was able to educate him on the origin of the cigar. Anyway, I dig the Antaño Dark Corojo a little more than I dig the regular Antaño 1970 line, which I dig a lot. It overwhelms the palate with strong, sweet, spicy and savory flavors and never fails to satisfy my palate. I’ve visited the factory twice and I love the place, along with most of the cigars they produce! There are very few Joya’s I don’t enjoy (the newer Red may be my least favorite), Rosalones, Sobremesa, Fratello…all great smokes from the oldest factory in Nicaragua.

 

LaSirena_DubloonFriday evening I went big. The Salamon is traditionally a 7¼” x 54 figurado, in the Diadamas family, a sizable cigar. The La Sirena Dubloon is exactly this size, is a Nicaraguan puro that was made at the My Father Factory. It has a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper over dual binders of Nicaraguan Habano and Corojo, and Nicaraguan Criollo and Corojo fillers. These were very limited and came in a box of eight, which I am half way through. This box came into my possession four years ago or so, and has been resting comfortably. This is a glorious size for a cigar, given you have the time to smoke one, and given that it’s properly made. With most cigars that are perfecto shaped, where they taper to a nipple at the foot, they are often a bit tight on the draw for the first puff or two. This particular one had a great draw out of the gate, and just kept getting better! It was meaty, savory and exactly what I was yearning for at the end of the week. Beautiful cigar, both in appearance and performance. I doubt there are many of these left in the wild, but if you can find some, grab them. I’ve smoked plenty of both the My Father and La Zona production La Sirenas and love them,  I think the blend ages very well.

 

Tatuaje_Black_CRA ToroYesterday it rained all day. It was cold, wet and nasty. After a trip to a local mall, where I stopped in to check out International Tobacco and see how their transition to new owners has come along (very well stocked, including the new 60 ring Davidoff’s which I passed on due to the $20+ prices. Not that the price was out of line, I just wasn’t feeling it). It’s great to have an oasis in the mall to get away from the hustle and bustle and and relax with a cigar occasionally. I came home and retired to the porch with a cigar that came from the “Oh F*ck I’m Lost” Tatuaje event pack that I had picked up last month. I’m a big fan of the Tatuaje brand, although I’m not a geek about chasing the rare cigars, or memorizing all the details, I wish I was, but there’s too much going on there for my grey matter to process. I asked Pete Johnson what was in the pack, and there were some Pudgy Monsters, something Tatuaje CRA Torocalled a Cheesesteak, and this Black Label CRA toro. I’m guessing this was from the batch that the CRA gives out with a membership or sells in the ten pack. I have a handful of CRA cigars that I’ve amassed over the 8 years I’ve been a member, but never got a Tatuaje. This cigar was incredible. Rarely am I this impressed with a cigar, it was perfection. The flavor was smooth as silk, but there was plenty of it. It had a unique spice flavor that grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go.  Holy crap this was a good smoke. I’ll have to check out some of the larger vitolas in  the Black line as I don’t remember this flavor, perhaps it’s unique to this special edition. It was worthy of the Poke and Smoke tool.

 

Contest!

To recap, the Philly Cigar Festival is only a couple weeks away, and since I can’t go, John, one of the organizers, graciously offered to allow me to give away my ticket. There are no strings attached to this, but I would be happy to post any pictures and /or feedback from the winners here on my site after the event. In this case, I want to live vicariously!  So I sorted through the entries, and consulted the random number generator, and came up with the number 6, which corresponds to Andrew Tomkovich. Please send me your contact info so I can get you your ticket.  Thanks again to the folks at the Philly Cigar Festival, I’m truly sorry I can’t make it.

 

That’s it for now, don’t forget it’s Mother’s Day! Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

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