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A Tatuaje and L’Atelier Event and the Philly Cigar Festival Contest Winner

Tat1Monday evening I found myself again at Cigar Mojo in King of Prussia, PA at the Tatuaje/L’Ateliar “Oh F*ck I’m Lost” bus tour stop. This was a huge event, as you might imagine. Pete Johnson, Casper Johnson and Dan Welsh were on hand for the event, they’ve been travelling around in a beautiful tour bus and visiting stores along the tat2way. Cigar Mojo had tons of stock on hand, and appear to have had a good sales day!  I picked up a couple singles and the tour special pack with five cool cigars that I haven’t yet taken the time to identify. If someone would fill me in, I’d be grateful (what can I say, I’m lazy). I lit up a Tatuaje Reserva K222 and went about schmoozing with friends old and new. On hand was a vintage travel trailer fitted as a bar mixing drinks and a BarBQue tat3trailer serving food. They had boxes of Pork Chops, bundles of Pork Tenderloins and  Le Vignoble available with the purchase of another box of qualifying cigars, all of which sold out. I chose the K222  since I’d smoked it before and would be distracted. It was and is a great cigar, Ecuador Habano wrapper and made in Miami. It was a great event, lots of great folks and I enjoyed the evening. tat4

Tatuaje_Cojonu2006

Last night I smoked the Tatuaje Reserva Miami Cojono 2006, a 5½ x 52 belicoso. Another great smoke, rich, complex flavors of espresso and earth. It, like the K222, had a great burn and draw, and I very much enjoyed it. Tatuaje cigars have always been special occasion cigars for me, so the last couple days were pretty special. I look forward to smoking my way through the  “Oh F*ck I’m Lost” sampler. Pete and his crew are a great bunch, it’s always a treat to spend a little time with them, and I’m glad I finally got to meet Casper and Dan and was sorry KC wasn’t there.  Cigar Mojo did a good job considering there were easily a hundred people there at a time, and while the shop is a good size, that’s a large crowd.

 

It’s time to choose the winner of the ticket to the Philly Cigar Festival, happening June 3, 2017 in Pottstown, PA. I’m looking forward to hanging out with the winner at the event!  Out of the 21 entries (adjusted for those who commented that they wouldn’t be able to attend), the random number generator at Random.org spit out the number 19, which corresponds to Michael shore. Please send me your full name and contact information so I can pass it on to the event organizers to get your ticket processed.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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La Aurora, a Cornelius and Anthony Event, Avo and a CAO Cigar

Don’t forget to go back to Wednesday’s post and enter to win a ticket to the Philly Cigar Festival being held on June 3, 2017! I will select a winner on Wednesday, so if you think you can make the trip to south-eastern Pennsylvania, put your name in the hat! This promises to be a very cool event!

 

So, I smoked a few cigars this week, I’ll mention a few of them, there were some I won’t mention either because I’ve talked about them before, or there was something strange going on…for instance, one cigar I really enjoyed in the past had a very strange and awful flavor about mid way through akin to burning plastic. My guess is that a piece of the plastic string they use to tie the hands of tobacco together in the fermenting process may have gotten mixed in the bunch somehow, at least that’s what I want to believe. It’s easier to wrap my mind around that explanation than think of what other foreign objects might have made their way in there. Stuff happens and it’s just unfortunate that it was my last example of this particular cigar. Fortunately, there are plenty of other great cigars to choose from! Mi Queridas seem to be smoking very well, and a 2015 LG Diez Lusitano from La Flor Dominicana was a real treat this week.  Another treat was a La Aurora 1903 Cameron robusto, the third new cigar from La Aurora’s Time Capsule series, following the LaAurora_1903Cameroon_Robusto 1987 Connecticut and the 1962 Corojo. This has a Cameroon wrapper, Ecuador Sumatra binder and Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers. I have a special affinity for the La Aurora line, it’s special to me personally, but that’s not to say I enjoy a great many of their cigars. I half expected this one to remind me of the first box of cigars I bought back on 1996, the La Aurora Bristol Especiale (I think it was around $40 for the box). I never really took to those, they seemed to have a vegetal flavor that I didn’t care for. I didn’t find that to be the case at all with the 1903 Cameron, it had that unique Cameroon sweetness (Camerooniness, I call it), and was a very pleasant cigar. I know I’ve enjoyed the Connecticut in the past, but that’s coming up in the rotation real soon, I think, as I somehow failed to make mention of smoking it in the past. Good stuff from La Aurora and thank you to Jason at Miami Cigar and Co. for keeping me up to date on these.

 

stevenbaileyFriday evening I finally made it back to Cigar Mojo in King of Prussia, PA for a Cornelius and Anthony event where I finally met Steven Bailey, the owner of the company.  I’ve been pretty high on this newer brand for the better part of a year now, with the Cornelius toro making an appearance on my end of year memorable cigars list, and will be the subject of my Cigar Notes feature in the May/June issue of Prime Living Magazine (due on Texas newstands in May). I learned a few things about Steven, who has a successful cigarette CorneliusandAnthony_Meridian_torocompany which basically bankrolls the premium cigar start-up. Steven has experience with the FDA, having one of two cigarette brands that has been approved by the FDA, out of something like 12,000 applications. He has the experience (and the financial wherewithal) to keep his four excellent lines on the market. Of the four lines, I like the Cornelius the best, with the Meridian a close second, with the Daddy Mac close behind.  I haven’t smoked enough of the Venganza to make a good judgement yet. The Cornelius is made at El Titan de Bronze in Miami with the other three coming from Eric Espinosa’s La CorneliusandAnthonyTableZona factory in Esteli. As I sat chatting with Steven, Todd Vance and Jose Galvez (Steven’s faithful minions), I smoked a Meridian toro, which I liked better than the robusto, and I liked the robusto a lot. In the toro I think the strength was tempered a little, and there was an interesting cinnamon note midway through. I think buying a box of these is in my future. It was a great time at Mojo, great cigars, and very happy to meet Steven and his crew. Cornelius and Anthony is a brand to watch, and is high on my list.

 

AvoSyncroYesterday I smoked a little Avo Syncro  robusto since Avo Uvezian passed away on Friday at the age of 91. I never had the pleasure of meting Avo, but many people I know knew him and spoke highly of him. The Avo line (not unlike many of the La Aurora cigars) doesn’t line up with my particular tastes all the time, but he’s certainly left a legacy with many fans of his cigars. I do like the Syncro, perhaps the Nicaraguan component works better for my palate than the Dominican. Not only did Avo lend his name to cigars, but he also wrote “Strangers in the Night” for Sinatra and was obviously an accomplished musician. I never shook the man’s hand, but he was beloved by many, another cigar industry icon has left us (at an advanced age if that says anything).

 

CAO_AmazonBasinLast night I finally got around to smoking a CAO Amazon Basin. I recently picked up the last one in a box at a local shop, and this is from the second generation of the line I would think. These got rave reviews, it’s certainly unique in its presentation, with a band made from what I guess to be twisted tobacco coiled around the cigar. CAO is another brand that I really love a couple of their lines and other’s are just “eh”, sadly this one fell into the second category. Give me any Flathead over this any day of the week. Not that it was a bad cigar, although it took a bit of coaxing with the lighter to get lit right, then tunneled a little on my at the midpoint. I didn’t find it to be spectacular, although the last third was getting there and by the time I peeled off the band it was pretty hard to put down. Not sure if  I got a flukey one or it need more time in the humidor or what. I am an optimist when it comes to cigars, and it takes a lot for me to give up on a cigar, usually seeing it through to the end, with worked in this case, because the cigar redeemed itself, but it’s sometimes tough to poser through when a cigar starts out questionably. CAO’s Rick Rodriguez was in the area Friday night at another of my favorite shops, sadly I missed him this time around.

 

That’s all for today, don’t forget to enter the contest! Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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Philly Cigar Festival Ticket Giveaway!

Image courtesy of the Philly Cigar Festival

Image courtesy of the Philly Cigar Festival

I mentioned this in my last post, and I feel like it’s contest time again!  June 3, 2017 is the date for the upcoming Philly Cigar Festival being held in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. The organizers have offered me a ticket to give away. This will be a multi-vendor event, with cigars, beer, food and drink and representatives from thirty cigar companies, from 11:00am to 4:30pm at The Norco Fairgrounds. Ticket prices run $150 and $200 and covers a bunch of cigars (the FDA no longer allows cigars to be given away). There are a couple of rules, first is you must be 21, and the other is that this giveaway covers the ticket only, you are responsible for getting there. I understand that this will exclude some of you. I will be there, and I hope to get a chance to hang around and have cigars with the winner (and those of you who go!). Cigars for Warriors will be represented and will be benefiting from the event.

 

So that’s it! Leave a comment for a chance to win a ticket, I’ll select a winner one week from today on Wednesday, March 29, 2017. There’s also a raffle on the Philly Cigar Festival Facebook page for two tickets also, so head over there and enter too!

 

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

 

CigarCraig

Must be 21 to win and transportation and lodging are not included in the prize. The prize is one ticket provided my the Phily Cigar Festival.

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Tortuga, Nestor Miranda, and Fratello Cigars

Tortuga_Reserva215_DiplomaticoLast Monday, before it snowed and I smoked a bunch of the Casta Cigars offerings (which, by the way, are only available direct from their website for now), I was in a Tortuga kinda mood, so I picked a single Tortuga Reserva Diplomatico from the humidor. The Diplomatico is a big cigar, 7½” x 58, why I decided on a cigar this large on a winter Monday evening is anyone’s guess. For me, at least, any Tortuga is a good decision, as I love the flavors in this Honduran made Nicaraguan puro. I can always count on the Tortuga line to satisfy me, and the box pressed Reserva line has the right balance of strength and flavor that just always works. I need to catch up with Victor Vitale again soon, he’s been quiet lately. He makes great, under-rated and appreciated cigars. I’m sure some warm, sunny day I’ll wish I had this one back, but it sure hit the spot! Fortunately, I have an old Tortuga Limited Edition and an Ora Vivo Armand Asante in this size still in the humidor.

 

CandelasFriday was Saint Paddy’s Day, and the temptation for me is to smoke a Candela. I rounded up my small stash of Candela cigars, and derivatives (Barber Poles with Candela), and decided I wasn’t in the mood for a Candela, so I found a Nestor Miranda Collection Habano Danno One Life Addition that, at least, had a green band.  This one was a couple years old, and is another formidable sized cigar, measuring 7″ x 56. The Danno line commemorates NMCDannoNestor Miranda’s  late son, Danny. It’s made at the My Father Factory in Esteli and is a wonderful blend of Nicaraguan, Brazilian and Honduran tobaccos. I really like the latest incarnation of the Nestor Miranda Collection cigars, sadly, I only seem to smoke them in the robusto format, which I enjoy in all four varieties (Maduro, Habano, Connecticut and Corojo), this size is special though. It’s more of a good thing.  I remain mystified that two years after re-working the packaging and bands on this line, the website remains out-dated.

 

Fratello_Oro_RobustoYesterday was a damp, overcast Saturday, so after running some errands, doing some good deeds, I relaxed on the porch with a Fratello Oro Robusto, the newest offering from Omar de Frias. I was tempted to smoke this on St. Paddy’s day, considering the irony that the 6’9″ Omar is pretty much the exact opposite of a leprechaun, at least in stature. I could definitely see Omar dancing around in green leprechaun costume.  Gotta say, the Fratello Oro is magically delicious! This Fratello is made in the Dominican Republic, with an Ecuador Connecticut wrapper, Cameroon binder and Dominican, Nicaraguan and Colombian fillers, no Peruvian tobacco in this one! It’s got the creamy, grassy flavor from the Ecuador Connecticut, the sweet “Camerooniness” from the binder, some strength and unique spice from the filler blend. It comes together in a very good, full-flavored cigar! While it didn’t absolutely blow my mind like the Fratello Bianco Boxer torpedo did, it was an excellent cigar with very good flavor and performance. I have yet to meet a Fratello I didn’t like.

 

That’s about all I have for today, hopefully the snow melts off as Spring officially starts tomorrow and we head towards my favorite time of year. Take a look forward to the beginning of June, when the Philly Cigar Festival is being held in Pottstown, PA. In the coming weeks I’m going to have a contest to give away a ticket to this multi-vendor event, so if you’re in the area, or are willing to travel, you might want to get in on the contest. I plan to be there, hopefully some of my readers can join me!  Now, I just need to give the organizers a little grief about using one of my photos on their website without giving me credit!  Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

 

 

 

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Casta Cigars Pre-Embargo Fusion, Puro and Mareba Brazilian Maduro Cigars

Several years ago I remember reading about J. Castañon and his wife settling in York County, PA (which is west of Lancaster where the great PA Broadleaf is grown, and two counties to the west of my home), and having something to do with the 120 year old Hain’s Pipe and Cigar Shop in York and the even older Demuths in Lancaster (some say it’s the oldest cigar shop in the country, “Temporarily” Closed since 2010?). Sadly, I’ve not been to visit either shop, but heard that J. Castañon was launching  Casta Cigars with two of their offerings featuring tobacco from some long-lost bales of Cuban tobacco that was found under a barn in Lancaster County, having been “forgotten” for the last 50 years. Tales of lost pre-embargo tobacco have been told since the boom of the 90s, I think Camacho used some allegedly, and there was a brand called Pinar 3000 that I remember from the 90s that purported to contain some pre-embargo Cuban leaf. I always figured if there was such a thing as 50-year-old tobacco it would be in pretty rough shape, and the cigars would have a sprinkling of flakes in them. Casta Cigars are making two cigars with a large portion of what they term “1942 Pre-Embargo Cuban Picadura Seco Volado“, the Fusion and the Puro, both in Corona sizes, retailing for $15 and $20 respectively. Here’s a quote from their website about J. Castañon:

 

J. Castañon’s legacy first began in Cuba rolling at the legendary Cohiba Cigar Factory. His journey continued in the USA by rolling cigars at the country’s oldest cigar shop, Demuth’s Tobacco Shop in Lancaster, PA. Today, J. Castañon continues to develop wonderful new blends from the Dominican Republic.

 

Casta_FusionYesterday we had a snow day, and after doing some shoveling, I decided it was a good time to smoke some of these cigars. I was skeptical, I mean, 75-year-old tobacco? So I started with the Fusion, which has a 70/30 blend of the Cuban with Brazilian filler, wrapped in a 10-year-old Brazilian wrapper with Indonesian binder. I like Brazilian tobacco, and I don’t expect much from Indonesian, and when I hear Picadura Seco Volado I think Picadura=scrap tobacco, and Seco Volado=low priming, so again, combined with the fact that it’s 75 years old, expectations are lower. I’ve smoked a premium Cuban cigar from the 80s and it was uneventful, but I’ve had a Cuban Davidoff from the 70s that was spectacular. I have to say, the Fusion was pretty good. Construction was excellent, it burned well, and the flavor was pretty good, tobacco with some sweetness. I didn’t feel like I wasted an hour, and was left satisfied.

 

Casta_PuroAfter dinner I decided to give the not quite accurately named Puro a try.  Also presented in a corona size, which isn’t surprising given the rarity of the 75-year-old tobacco, this was also very well made. These didn’t feel like short filler, as hard as it is to believe that bales of tobacco under a barn for 50 years would be anything but dust. Perhaps picadura and seco volado meant something different in 1942 Cuban parlance.  Anyway, it had a decent tobacco flavor and the Brazilian wrapper lent a little sweetness. I smoked both cigars to about a half an inch. I can say I smoked cigars with 75 yer old tobacco, it was a very interesting and unique experience.

 

Casta_Brazilian MarebaTonight I thought give one of their non-pre-emabargo tobacco offerings a try, so I selected the toro shaped Maduro Brazilian Mareba, with a 10-year-old Brazilian maduro wrapper, Indonesian binder and Brazilian filler. These are rolled in the Dominican Republic, and I’m told that J. Castañon likes to hire Cuban rollers, who use the entubado method that Jesus learned while rolling Cohibas in Cuba. While searching around to see if Jesus was his name, it appears that the Mareba has been around for a few years, although it’s somehow eluded my notice. the wrapper has a nice, oily sheen, with a pigtail cap. This was a very flavorful cigar, with some similar flavors to the other two (they all share the 10 year aged wrapper), with a nice, sweet finish. The smoke had some sweet, earthy flavors and, again, the burn and draw was about perfect. I have a couple more sizes to try, the maduro in the gordo shaped Chuco (which would have been tonight’s choice if the weather had been better) the Sombra corona and the Cuerda which is a panatela sharing the Puro blend with the pre-embargo leaf.

 

I had my reservations, but I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor that the ancient tobacco had, and I have to believe what I’ve been told and it’s not marketing BS. I’ve lived in Lancaster County, PA, seen plenty of tobacco farms and barns and I suppose it’s a plausible story.  I didn’t consider smoking any of the cigars a waste of my time, I’m thankful for the chance to try these. Many thanks to Jacob Hammill, president of Casta Cigars, for answering my many questions, answers to many of which I could have found on the website had I looked closer!

 

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

 

CigarCraig

 

 

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