Tag Archives: CRA

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.



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,






Filed under Contest, Review, Stores

IPCPR, CAA & CRA File Lawsuit Against FDA Today

I don’t usually post press releases, but I thought this one was important enough to pass along. Posted from my phone, so pardon the formatting.

Three major cigar and tobacco industry associations file suit against FDA’s deeming rule

CAA, IPCPR, & CRA ask District Court of Washington D.C. for declaratory injunction

For Immediate Release: July 15, 2016

WASHINGTON D.C. – The three major cigar and tobacco industry associations filed suit Thursday against the United States Food and Drug Administration’s “Deeming Rule.” The Cigar Association of America, International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association, and the Cigar Rights of America are asking the District Court for the District of Columbia for a declaratory injunction “vacate, set aside and enjoin the enforcement of the final rule” because it is violates numerous federal statutes as well as the federal rulemaking process. A full copy of the filing, which details nine counts against the FDA and the United States Department of Health and Human Services, can be found here (note: the link was not included in either press release I received).

“Just over one month ago, our three associations pledged to work together to develop the appropriate response to the FDA’s new deeming rule. After a thorough and detailed legal review, we are challenging this unlawful regulatory action in federal court to protect the statutory and constitutional rights of our industry and its members. The fact that all three of our organizations are acting in one voice speaks to the urgency and seriousness of this action,” said Mark Pursell, CEO of the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association.

The complaint challenges:

  • FDA’s improper application of the February 15, 2007 grandfather date to cigars and pipe tobacco, which subjects those products to more intrusive regulations than cigarettes and smokeless tobacco
  • FDA’s impermissible assessment of a tax in the form of user fees, and its allocation of these user fees only to cigars and pipe tobacco and not to other newly deemed products
  • FDA’s failure to perform an adequate cost-benefit analysis to take into account the effects of the Final Rule on small businesses as is required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act
  • FDA’s unjustified decision to require cigar health warning labels to be 30% of the two principal display panels of packages
  • FDA’s unlawful designation of tobacconists who blend finished pipe tobacco or create cigar samplers of finished cigars as “manufacturers,” which subjects those businesses to greater regulation than if they were “retailers”
  • FDA’s incorrect decision to regulate pipes as “components” or “parts” rather than as “accessories”

“The FDA ignored the law to craft these expansive and sweeping regulations and cannot justify many of the arbitrary and capricious regulations it purports to enact,” said Glynn Loope, Executive Director of Cigar Rights of America. “This lawsuit is a specific and detailed challenge to the FDA’s unprecedented assertion of rulemaking authority. “We are acting in one voice to protect the legal rights of our industry at all levels, from the manufacturer, the community retail tobacconist, to the adult patrons of cigars.”

Speaking about the lawsuit, Cigar Association of America President Craig Williamson said, “We all worked in good faith to inform and educate the FDA on the unique nature of our industry, its members and our consumers. We hoped the FDA would craft a flexible regulatory structure that accounted for the uniqueness of our industry. Instead, we got a broad, one-size-fits-all rule that fails to account for how cigars and premium cigars are manufactured, distributed, sold and consumed in the United States. The FDA exceeded its statutory authority and violated the federal rulemaking process when crafting this set of broad and sweeping regulations. This challenge asserts nine violations of federal law and rulemaking authority. We are asking the court to enjoin the enforcement of this unlawful regulatory scheme. We are confident that when the court reviews our case on its merits, we will prevail.”

Thanks to the CAA, IPCPR and CRA for their efforts to save the premium cigar industry.

Until the next time,




Filed under News

Kristoff CRA, 601 Bunker Buster and La Jugada Cigars

I’ve been largely absent from writing and social media since my wife’s father passed away this week.  My wife has been busy making arrangements and tomorrow he’ll be laid to rest in New Jersey. I’m sure everyone understands why I missed my Wednesday post for the first time in several years.  I smoked many cigars with Mario over the years, I remember him telling me early on that cigars cooled you off on a hot day, and he had a story about coming through customs at the Canadian border with a three pack of Havanas, having them confiscated, and telling the agents “I hope you f**king enjoy them!”.  He would lick and chew up the cigars I gave him and ruin them, then complain about them not being too good. It didn’t matter to me really as I was happy to share. We lived with him for the last year and a half or so, so it’s going to be weird not having him around. May he rest in peace.


KristoffCRASince it’s been hectic around here, I haven’t really smoked too many notable cigars. Sunday I lit up a Kristoff maduro of some sort which came from the Cigar Rights of America, and I can’t recall which year I got it, maybe this year. I took my favorite summer chair out in the yard and enjoyed this maduro cigar while catching up on podcasts. It had a nice pigtail cap and closed foot, it was a really good looking cigar.  Since this is supposed to be a special blend just for the CRA, I don’t know the blend, nor will I speculate on it. It was reasonably heavy in body and full of dark, decadent flavors. I haven’t smoked a bunch of Kristoff cigars, but I should probably try some more based upon this cigar. I have about five more of these special CRA editions that I’ve accumulated over the years that I’ll get to in the near future.  Don’t forget, time is running out to leave your comments on the FDA site.  Just do it.


601_BunkerBusterLater in the day I realized it was June first, so I figured I’d smoke a 601 of some sort.  I had recently received some 601 La Bomba Bunker Buster, which is the newest micro-blend from Smoke Inn. This cigar is a 5 ½” x 56 box pressed figurado that’s lighter in the hand that one would expect. This cigar wasn’t as potent as it’s La Bomba cousins, and I smoked an Atom on Tuesday to get a bit of a comparison.  I enjoyed the Bunker Buster immensely on it’s own merit, but I don’t think it packed the punch for me that the regular line does.  It’s a really cool shape with a wide open draw and even burn, despite feeling under filled.  If you like the 601 line, you have to give these a try if you can, and even if you aren’t a strong cigar fan, try it because it’s not as strong as you’d think.


La Jugata Habano BelicosoLater in the week I smoked another cigar from Erik Espinosa’s La Zona factory (the 601 Atom might be a leftover from the My Father factory, it’s been in my humidor for a while), the La Jugada Habano.  This is another really great cigar with a perfect burn and draw, and full, rich flavors. This is a great cigar to take a nice long walk with. It’s a 6 1/8″ x 52 belicoso with a beautiful Ecuador Habano wrapper.  The website recommends a full meal before this one, but since it’s been a crazy week for me, I can’t remember what I ate, but it was a very good smoke.  I think both the Prieto and Habano lines are really good cigars from Moya Ruiz Cigars.


montecristo_petitedmundoYesterday, after the majority of guests left our home where the post-funeral reception was held, I lit up a little Montecristo Petit Edmundo that has been in the humidor for about a year.  This is a cool little robusto, measuring 4 3/8″ x 52, which is a unique vitola in the Havana range.  I picked this because it was pretty short and it was on the top row of the humidor.  I enjoyed this cigar so much that I picked up a toothpick to finish it off.  It had some sweetness and that unmistakable Cuban “twang”.  I felt like my father-in-law would have enjoyed this cigar.  I wished it had been longer, but it was tasty. While I don’t feel that Cuban cigars are really any better than Nicaraguan, Honduran, Dominican, etc. cigars, they certainly have a distinctive flavor that you don’t find in others, and I happen to enjoy it from time to time.  Real ones are worth sampling.


That’s it for today.  It’s been an exhausting week, more for my wife than me, so we’re trying to grab a little bit of normal while we have a chance. Tomorrow will be another busy day as we drive to New Jersey for the cemetery portion of the funeral.  Hopefully the coming weeks settle  down and we can get our bearings.  Until the next time,








Filed under Review

A Heraderos de Robaina, a Prototype, and a Tatuaje at the Wooden Indian Cigar Shop

This is an odd time of year.  I’m kind of running out of different cigars to smoke and report on and the ones I do have are too big for the time and conditions available to me.  Many times it’s a robusto or smaller on my evening walk.  Sometimes a cigar doesn’t fit in at all, I don’t like it, but it’s OK.  I can’t tell you how much I look forward to warmer weather!  More daylight and not having to wear gloves and bundling up greatly enhance the cigar experience for me.  It’s not far off, so you’ll only have to put up with my whining for a little longer!


HerederosDeRobaina_RobustoThursday evening I took a look into the cigars that Gary Griffith had sent me a while ago to see what I hadn’t smoked yet. I picked out a Herederos de Robaina robusto that had somehow escaped my notice up until now.  I can’t find a lot of information about this cigar, and I was too lazy to ask Gary.  I may have skipped it because it kind of looked generic.  The band isn’t fancy, the cigar has a fairly nondescript colored Habano looking wrapper.  Fortunately, the cigar smoked very well. It was quite well made, and the flavor was smooth and very nice.  I came across an MSRP of $7.90 someplace, which is too rich for my blood, I would be dissapointed with this smoke at this price.  If it were a $5 cigar I would consider it a good value, at closer to $8, I need to be wow’d, and I was satisfied, but now blown away.   Most of the cigars that Gary Griffith and Emilio Cigars has taken on to distribute have wow’d me, but, like everything, there’s something for everyone, and this is a fine smoke that certainly may blow someone else away.


VictorVitale_MaduroPrototypeFriday evening I decided to smoke a larger cigar since it wasn’t that freezing cold out.  I had received a couple of samples of prototypes a while ago from Legacy Brands by Victor Vitale.  This cigar was 6½” x 54 or maybe 56, with a jet black and oily wrapper.  This cigar had the most amazing and unique tobacco aroma off the foot.  I actually haven’t done this in about 30 years, but the smell reminded me of sticking your nose in a pouch of RedMan chewing tobacco.  There’s a really sweet smell like that that this cigar had.  It continued as I lit it up, syrupy sweet with a little bit of the black licorice finish along the way.  I don’t think I could smoke this every day, but it sure was a very different and delicious cigar that I I would enjoy from time to time as a change of pace.  I can’t wait to find out more about this.  My first thought was that it contained a large portion of the “jungle” tobacco that Victor used in his Tortuga 1950 Natural Aged Maduro that I enjoyed so much last year. Maybe that’s the unique flavor?  I certainly can’t speculate on where this might fit into Victor’s portfolio, only Victor can tell me that (maybe he’ll read this and leave a comment, hint hint!)! Thanks to Victor for letting me experience that cigar, it really made my day.


Saturday turned out to a bit if a father/daughter day in my family.  My wife has been busy driving with her father down to Florida so he can spend a few weeks at the Phillies spring training camp, my son-in-law got to spend the afternoon with my grand-daughter and I got to take my daughter to the Flyers game.  There’s nothing quite like taking in an afternoon of gratuitous violence and ice hockey with ones little girl (she’s 29 and expecting her 2nd child and I don’t think she likes it when I refer to her as my little girl!).  It was a great game, lots of action and the Flyers came out on top.  I would normally stop at the Cigar Bar in the Wells Fargo Center for a smoke while traffic cleared out, but that wasn’t appropriate in this instance, TatuajeReserva_PetiteCazadoresso instead I stopped in at the Wooden Indian in Havertown, PA, for a smoke on the way home.  I picked up a couple of favorites along with a pair of Tatuaje Petite Cazadores, I guess this is the Reserva line (or “Reserver” for my New England friends <snicker>).  I am way behind on sampling the Tatuaje line. I think I’ve smoked the La Casita Criolla, one of the mixed filler cigars a long time ago, and maybe an El Triunfador.  I’ll admit that the price point puts me off of the majority of the line, so I figured this little 4″ x 40 at $4 was a place to start.  I sat in the shop talking to George, the sales associate and Dave, the local Xikar rep and really enjoyed this little smoke.  It was spicy, rich, dark and full of flavor.  I can’t imagine how much I’d enjoy this if I hadn’t been working on a pretty nasty migraine.  I’m glad I picked up a couple, because I really look forward to enjoying this cigar again and it compels me to experiment a little more in the line in the future.  It was the end to a pretty great day.


That pretty much wraps up things for today.  Please remember to support Cigar Rights of America and to write to your elected officials!


Until the next time,





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Filed under Review, Stores

A Couple of Thurman Thomas Cigars, A Macanudo and CRA News

Since it’s a new legislative session in Washington D.C., there is a new bill in the house to exempt premium cigars from FDA regulation. It’s more important than ever to write to your representative and ask him or her to co-sponsor the bill.

 “The premium cigar industry supports about 85,000 jobs – from manufacturers to small retailers – throughout the United States,” said Congressman Bill Posey.  “Washington bureaucrats should turn their attention to promoting private sector job growth and protecting our rights, not chipping away at our freedoms through bureaucratic overreach.”

Cigar Rights of America makes it very easy to e-mail your representatives. Go to their site or the IPCPR site to send an e-mail.  Just fill in the blanks.  Do it. Now. I’ll wait. 🙂 


ThurmanThomas_MaduroToroA few weeks ago I received some samples from StogieBoys.com of their Thurman Thomas Hall of Fame line of cigars. I’m not a football fan, so at first I had Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in my head, and former senator Strom Thurmond, and even Thurman Munson’s name made an appearance  I come to learn that Thurman Thomas was a Hall Of Fame Football player who likes cigars and for whom this cigar is named. I suppose it would have been more appropriate to feature these a couple weeks ago when the game with all the hyped up commercials was on, but I had just received them and I wanted to let them rest. Here’s one of the problems I face here in the blogosphere: a handful of bloggers receive the same samples so everyone is featuring the same cigars on their sites. I like to give new arrivals a couple weeks rest in the humidor so often I am a couple weeks late smoking the cigars that everyone else reviewed already. I’m ThurmanThomas_NaturalTorosure you’ll have seen a handful of reviews of these, and the Arandoza and Cuenca cigars are recent examples that spring to mind (both excellent smokes, by the way). Anyway, I received Toro sized samples of the natural and maduro versions of this cigar.  The cigars are very nice looking, the wrappers are both nice and clean, and they are rolled in the telltale style of  General Cigar Co., they have the rounded head that all of the GCC products have. Of course, I chose the maduro first and it lived up to my expectation. It was a nice, smooth, tasty basic maduro.  Consistent in construction and flavor from start to finish.  The natural version had a familiar flavor, I know I’ve smoked something very similar before.  It was a reasonably mild smoke, but the flavor was very nice, leathery kind of flavor. It was pretty smooth, like it’s maduro sibling.  These were both very nice cigars for the $3.95 price point.  I wouldn’t say they were particularly surprising, but good, no-nonsense cigars that were satisfying and easy to smoke.  Thanks to the folks at StogieBoys.com for their support and for sharing these smokes.  


Macanudo1968_RobustoLast night I reached in the humidor and came out with a Macanudo 1968 Robusto. I figured I’d keep with the General Cigar Co. theme.  This was different from the Thurman Thomas cigars by quite a bit.  First, it’s actually stronger and spicier, which sounds strange for a Macanudo. I recall back to my first premium cigar experience back in the mid 1990s.  A buddy and I picked up a couple of Macanudo Duke of Devons to smoke on our lunch break to see what the fuss was with the premium cigars.  We had been enjoying our Gacia y Vegas and Backwoods at lunch time every Friday and were ready to take the next step.  Of course, we didn’t have cutters, so we pierced the caps with knives or whatever we had, and lit these babies up.  It’s actually a wonder I went any further with premium cigars after that, as I remember it being kind of a non-event.  I really didn’t get the flavor I thought I would.  I was a cigarette smoker at the time, so obviously that had something to do with my need for more flavor.  I can honestly enjoy a regular old Macanudo nowdays, but it took a long time to get to this point. I’ll stand by my assertion that there’s not a damned thing wrong with a Macanudo Maduro, it’s a tasty smoke.  I digress. The 1968 has some strength and is a nice smoke that I’ve enjoyed on many occasions and under varied circumstances.  It’s one of those cigars I pick up when I can’t decide what to smoke and I’m quite happy.


I just wanted to throw this out to anyone who is looking for embroidered or printed stuff, I’ve had amazing luck with Queensboro.com lately. I’ve gotten four polos embroidered for around $36 delivered.  Try buying plain polos for that! The link is  my referral link, I’ll get $25 credit if someone uses it.  That’s my shameless plug of the day.  You should use E-Bates too, it puts a couple extra bucks in your pocket every quarter.


That’s it for this installment, until the next time,







Filed under IPCPR, News, Review