Tag Archives: Crossfire

IPCPR Prep and a Few Cigars Leftover From Last Year

I realize I missed Wednesday’s post. I had a busy week trying to prepare for taking the coming week off and I didn’t take the time to write anything. I’ve been busy making appointments and trying to plan my short time at the show. I also need to test out YouTube live today at some point so I can use that to share some interviews and give people an idea of what the show is like. This will be my 8th show, and I still have no idea what to expect. I also just added an iPad to my technical arsenal, leaving the laptop home (and actually writing today’s post on it while enjoying coffee on my back porch, I already love it!) I’ve written posts on my iPhone before, but my eyes aren’t what they used to be, this is much better. So today I’ll be packing clothes and cigars for the trip and continuing to binge watch Game Of Thrones, which has had zero cigar content so far. So, let me tell you a little something about a few cigars I smoked this week.

 

Fratello FirecrackerIt seems like it was so long ago now, but Tuesday was the Fourth of July and I smoked the new Fratello Firecracker from 2Guys Smokeshop‘s annual Firecracker line. The Firecracker is a 3 1/2″ x 50 short robustly with a long tail like a fuse.  The last few years have given us the LFD Double Ligero Firecracker, the RoMaCraft Cromagnon Firecracker and several iterations made by Don Pepin Garcia, including the original which is a regular production. I’m a fan of Fratello cigar which is well documented, so when these hit the market I quickly ordered a fiver, pity I didn’t spring for a box. This little bugger has everything I like about the Fratello with some punch. The special little something that the Peruvian leaf brings is there, this is a great little cigar. My only wish is for this in the Bianco blend! I finished the day with a Padron 1964 Exclusivo, skipping my annual civil disobedience Havana since that’s not any big deal anymore!

 

House of LuckyI came across a few cigars leftover from last year’s IPCPR show and figured I’d better smoke them already, one was from a company called House of Lucky, which has a retail and wholesale operation in south Florida. They have a wide range of cigar made in Nicaragua and the few I’ve sampled have been quite good. I started getting emails with their specials a few years back and finally met them at the show last year. It was one of those things where they just happened to be next to someone I knew, otherwise I might have missed them. I smoker their Especial Maduro box pressed corona yesterday and liked it a lot. It claims to have  “long leaf Nicaraguan tobacco from the regions of San Andres, Esteli, and Honduras”, which I find a bit confusing, but good cigar makers can’t always be good writers. This cigar is called corona, but it’s 5″x 48, quite close to their 5″x50 robust. If they were mixed in a bundle nobody would notice, and at a very reasonable $6 price, nobody would care. Honestly, this was my kind of cigar with all the great dark, rich flavors I like and it’s priced well.

 

CrossfireI smoked a cigar from Crossfire Cigars, their Platinum in a Gordo size that was pretty good, and I have enjoyed a lot of their cigars in the past, but when I went to do some research I found the website to be “forbidden” and there hasn’t been any social media activity from them recently. Crossfire was a faith-based company, using the proceeds from the cigar sales to do mission work in the Dominican Republic, so I can imagine jumping through all the regulatory BS wouldn’t be attractive to them. It was a good cigar, nothing particularly special, just not a waste of two hours. Enjoyable and tasty, just not mind blowing. I feel like there are so many cigars it really takes a lot for a cigar to be distinctive and memorable sometimes. I guess I’m getting jaded in my old age.

 

I could go on, but I have some things I need to do today before tomorrow’s early flight to Vegas. That’s all for now, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

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Another Crossfire, a New Toraño, a Cordoba & Morales and a New Hoyo

Crossfire_SanAndres_ToroI’m off to a late start today, my apologies. I typically get up early on Sundays, but I had a late nap last night that kept me up in to the wee hours, then a migraine put me down for a few more hours. Not that anyone is likely siting around on a Sunday morning waiting me to post this nonsense. I selected another Crossfire cigar this week, this one was the San Andrés in a toro format. Sadly, I can find very little info on these new offerings, the card that was in the bag with the samples has background info and outdated pictures, and the website is behind the times as well. The only thing I can say is that this has a dark, Mexican San Andrés wrapper, at least that’s what the name on the band would imply. I tend to believe it, as this was a tasty smoke, although it started out a bit differently than I’m used to a San Andrés wrapped cigar starting. This cigar was nice, smooth and medium bodied, and I’m accustomed to a “dirtier” start. About halfway through the cigar I had to stop and remind myself I wasn’t smoking a Padrón of some sort, but it took some time to get to that point.  Damn fine cigar, I think I’ll get to the one banded Arapiraca next, it looks tasty.

 

Torano_Exodus_RobustoFriday evening I took a walk with a Toraño Exodus Robusto, the new iteration of the Exodus from General Cigar Co.  Exodus has been around a long time. I can remember enjoying Toraño Exodus cigar in the early part of the 2000s, and especially enjoyed the Exodus 50 years which came out a few years back (was it ’09?). The new version has some interesting components. The wrapper is a lower priming Honduran leaf from the San Agustin Valley, reminding me of the CAO OSA Sol s little, although darker. The binder is Connecticut Broadleaf, and the filler blend is Mexican, Dominican and Honduran. There is a lot going on in the blend, and the cigar is quite nice. It’s got some nutty, leathery qualities and a bit of pepper. It was quite interesting. I haven’t had a chance to try the colorfully packaged Vault line yet, it shares the same easily-mistaken-for-another-brand bands and bright colors as this new Exodus. Good cigar despite the band, which would have been a brilliant idea if someone hadn’t come out with it a couple of years ago.

 

CordobaMorales_ClaveCubana_RobustoYesterday I spent the morning putting insulation in our living room, an unpleasant job, but far less unpleasant than tearing down drywall (I am NOT looking forward to taking the ceiling down…). After getting cleaned up from that, and getting everything back in place, I sat down with another cigar from the IPCPR show, the Cordoba & Morales Clave Cubana Etiqueta Blanca robusto. This was a great looking little box pressed robusto, with a dark San Andrés wrapper (another one!  Yay!). I wasn’t expecting this to be as strong as it was, perhaps the “white label” name associates with mild to me, I don’t know, but it was a strong cigar for a before dinner cigar. No bother, I loved this cigar. It had a great black coffee kind of flavor, which I love, and it really hit my palate the right way. Great box press, and a wonderful little cigar. Besides the Mexican wrapper, the rest of the cigar is Nicaraguan, with Jalapa, Esteli and Ometepe represented in the blend.

 

Smoking the new Hoyo de Monterrey made in partnership with AJ Fernandez - @hoyocigars @ajfcigarsAfter dinner yesterday I just had to try the new Hoyo La Amistad, another IPCPR show sample. This is another interesting new offering from General Cigar, and another collaboration with AJ Fernandez. Hoyo was traditionally a Honduran cigar, this one is made in Nicaragua. The wrapper is Ecuadoran Habano, binder is a Nicaraguan leaf cultivated by AJ Fernandez in Esteli. The filler blend features tobacco from Esteli, Ometepe, Condega and Jalapa. A pre-light sniff of the 5″ x 54 robusto had that distinctive “barnyard” aroma, and the flavors were very unique and interesting. This was another cigar I really enjoyed, it had some “bright” flavors and was almost full bodied. It did have some dried fruit sweetness and a little spice. Hoyo_La Amistad_RobustoThis is a winner cigar for me, It’s different from what I usually like, but very tasty. If you’re wondering why there were a couple of collaborations with General Cigar and AJ Fernandez this year, think about who AJ Fernandez has been making a ton of cigar for over the last few years, Cigars International, right? Now, think of who owns Cigar International, Swedish Match/Scandinavian Tobacco, which also happens to be the parent company of General Cigar. Its more complicated than that, but you get the jist. It doesn’t hurt that Abdel Fernandez grew up near the Hoyo de Monterrey farm in Cuba, so he has that connection to the brand.  So far, out of the new releases from General Cigar this year, I haven’t found one I don’t like yet, Foundry Time files is a winner, Partagas Ramon y Ramon is a winner, and the Toraño Exodus and Hoyo La Amistad are also winners.

 

That’s plenty from me today, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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Another Bobalu Cigar, a Tabak Especiale, New Fonseca and Crossfire Cigars

We’re getting into my least favorite time of year, autumn. People can argue with me all they want, but I don’t like the cool crisp fall days and the leaves turning. Summer is too short, at least it goes by too fast, I’m not a big fan of winter, but at least you know spring is coming, Autumn gets me down. The only upside is that it’s not quite as cold on the cigar porch as winter is, so that’s something.  I still Bobalu_BoxPressedMaduro_Toroprefer sweating over shivering. Anyway, the seasons don’t much effect my consumption, I might smoke more robustos and coronas in the winter, but I always like my evening cigar, and the cooler weather has always made me want more maduros. I smoked a couple this week that didn’t taste too maduro to me, not that they were bad cigars, just not what I expected. First was a Bobalu Box Pressed Maduro toro with a Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper. As you know I’ve been working my way through some cigars I purchased from this US-based factory located in Austin, Texas. So far I’ve found the construction has been pretty darned good in all the cigars I’ve smoked from them and the service has been excellent.  While this maduro wasn’t what I expected it to be, it was better in that it surprised me with some interesting flavors.  The box press is very square, making the 52 ring gauge feel much smaller, it was very comfortable. Besides the Mata Fina wrapper, the rest of the cigar is aged Piloto Cubano (Dom Rep.) Ligero, Nicaragua Viso, Olor Viso (Dom. Rep.) Nicaraguan Ligero and Habana seed (Dom. Rep.)ligero. Considering the three Ligeros in the blend I found this to be medium in strength at best. I’m liking the offerings of this cigar factory, once again, it’s on my list of places to visit.

 

TabakEspecialeNegra_Exclusivamente DE LoungeThursday was some kind of coffee appreciation day, our regionally popular convenience store chain, Wawa, was giving away their coffee, so I figured it was a good excuse to smoke the Drew Estate Tabak Especial Negra Box Pressed toro, an Exclusivamente Drew Estate Lounge cigar. Drew Estate has several lounges, one at the Wooden Indian that I frequent, so they made a series of box pressed toros just for sale at those lounges. I want to say that they were originally just for the Drew Estate lounge at Corona Cigars in Orlando, but I think they’ve filtered out to the others. Two of the offerings are the Tabak Especial in the Negra (maduro) and Dulce (Connecticut). Of course, I chose the Negra, and I’ve occasionally enjoyed these coffee infused cigars over the past six or seven years, truth be told, I really like them. They have a sweet cap (something I could take or leave), and the coffee flavor that I really like in a cigar is there in abundance. What more can I say about this cigar but that it’s a good smoke with a sweet coffee flavor. I don’t like too many infused cigars, but I’ll smoke these all day long.

 

Fonseca_Nicaragua_ToroFriday’s treat was a cigar that I smoked on the IPCPR show floor (one of the few), and was really impressed with. New from Quesada Cigars this year is the Fonseca Nicaragua, made in Esteli by the Placencia factory with Nicaraguan tobacco from Ometepe, Jalapa and Esteli. This is a very reasonably priced cigar to start with, in the $6-7 range, and is really quite tasty. It’s got a nice spice and some good coffee/cocoa flavors. This actually made a Robb Report piece in early August of the five Nicaraguan cigars you have to smoke. While I don’t  necessarily agree with all five I think this new Fonseca is a must try. I was impressed at the show, and I am impressed at home. It’s a yummy smoke.

 

Crossfire_Maduro_MagnumFinally, yesterday I was looking through the dwindling supply of trade show samples that I consider interesting, and I came across a sampler from Crossfire Cigars. These guys have an interesting story, and do a lot of good things in the Dominican Republic with the proceeds of the brand’s sales. I should probably keep this to myself, but I have a cynical opinion when it comes to “faith-based” charities, I think doing good for the sake of doing good is the thing to do, which I always hope is the case. I guess some things feel like “I’ll do something good for you if you follow my way of thinking”. I could devote an entire site to this discussion, but if I were to start another site it would center around something way more entertaining than my religious opinions. Bottom line, there’s nothing wrong with helping people less fortunate, which is what this cigar is based around, and as long as they keep making good cigars, I’ll promote their brand. Off of my soapbox, let’s get back to the cigar. I really appreciate the new bands on  these which actually say what the cigar line is, rather than their old bands that had a secondary band.  I selected the Crossfire Maduro first, in the 6″ x 60 Magnum size. This was another maduro that was not a typical maduro. The Ecuador Habano sun grown wrapper was not very dark, but it did look like an Ecuador Habano sun grown, which is probably too much to put on the band. The smoke was smooth as silk and seemed like a very mild cigar to me, but it did build up in strength near the end. It has a bit of that sourdough bready flavor I get once in a while, which I find interesting. Binder and filler are Dominican, which I suppose explains the mildness a bit. This was a really nice smoke, I look forward to trying the other four varieties, especially the San Andrés.

 

That’s all I have for now, in fact, I’ve probably said too much. Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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A Crossfire, A Nica Rustica and A Legend…wait for it…Ario Cigar

This time of year gets a bit frustrating for me because of the weird weather. I get times when the weather isn’t very good and I really don’t want to waste a really good cigar, or smoke something new that I want to pay attention to.  I usually end up smoking something I’m familiar with, and that’s not a whole lot of fun for you guys!  So far, this has been one of those times.

 

Crossfire_Habano_TorpSunday wasn’t too bad. I decided to take a nice afternoon walk and selected an IPCPR sample from Crossfire Cigars.  As I’ve mentioned before, I somehow lost the interview I did with the Crossfire guys at the show.  This is another cigar with altruistic goals.  All the profits go toward helping people in the Dominican Republic do little things like eat and wear clothes and learn stuff. All in all, a very good plan, and the cigars I’ve smoked have been well worth it for the good that they do.  I smoked a Habano Torpedo on my walk, and it was a good tasting smoke.  It was a pretty cigar too, however it gave me some trouble.  With only one sample, I’m certainly not going to pass judgement. I had trouble keeping this cigar lit, and the cold and breezy weather may not have helped, although I smoke a fair number of cigars outdoors in the winter without these problems. So it was a tasty, yet unfulfilling cigar. I’ll seek more of these out because I liked what I tasted and want to give this another try.  Please keep in mind, I’m just relating my experience with this single cigar, not disparaging the brand in any way.

 

Nica Rustica_El BrujitoMonday evening, after the less than satisfying cigar experience Sunday, I decided on a sure thing.  Again, boring for you, but the key to continued sanity for me.  I opened the Drew Estate humidor and had an Undercrown Corona Viva in one hand and a Nica Rustica El Brujito in the other hand and the El Brujito won.  Either of these cigars are on my “sure thing” list, but with an impending snowstorm on the horizon I wanted a nice, long smoke.  I can’t tell you anything more about the Nica Rustica that you haven’t heard. It’s a great dark and dirty cigar.  Big flavor, great construction, very satisfying.  I love the uncut foot with that big blast of Connecticut Broadleaf right off the bat. I can take or leave the little pigtail cap, it’s a nice touch but I just cut it off anyway. I loved the original blend with the Nicotiana Rustica tobacco in it, it was something special, but the blend they sent to production is really yummy too.  I always want to have some of these on hand, and for $6 and change it’s not hard to do.

 

Tuesday we got our promised snow, and my place of work closed at noon.  I felt it would be prudent to take the dog (and a cigar) for a walk before it got too bad.  It’s a tricky thing picking out a snowstorm cigar. It’s almost like selecting a good pool cigar, but you really have to consider flavor more in the winter. It has to be sturdy enough that a little moisture isn’t going to hurt anything, because there’s no doubt an errant snowflake or a hundred are going to find their way on the wrapper.  I decided on a LegendArio Bertha (links to retailer site).  The Bertha is a 6″ x 60 maduro, which is a Honduran puro, but it’s really loaded with dark, earthy cocoa flavors.  The wrapper is nice and rugged, it’s easy to handle with gloves on, and it burned quite nicely.  This cigar really hits the spot for me, and it gave me a good two hours of dog walking, snow shoveling, watching the snow fall goodness. I had bought a couple of these a year or so ago and will need to get a couple more to have around.  It wasn’t expensive, another cigar in the $6 range that’s pretty darned good in my opinion. I’d probably lean toward the toro though, but I don’t mind a 6″ x 60 as long as it delivers in the flavor department.  These are from the makers of Camacho, and if I have one complaint, it’s that they have devoted their website to the Camacho line, and it’s next to impossible to find information about this or the Room 101 brands except for retailers sites.  It annoys me a little when I have to work too hard to find information!

 

That’s all I have for now.  It’s hovering in single digits tonight, so I’m not even feeling like taking a walk tonight.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings.  Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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New Joya de Nicaragua, a Crossfire and Some Alec Bradley Cigars

It was another week of smoking worthy cigars!  I’ve been quite fortunate lately, at least as far as cigars go.  I was less fortunate on my commute home Thursday when I hit my first deer.  I suppose the deer was even less fortunate than me, and it bothers me that it probably died a slow, painful death someplace. I’d have felt better if I had killed it, I think.  Some damage to the Yaris, which I had switched to last week after a deer ran in front of me on the scooter.  Coming home at dusk around here is no fun on two wheels or four, JDN_QuatroCincothe deer are everywhere. I think I see about a dozen every day.  Anyway, I lit up the new Joya de Nicaragua Quatro Cinco to console myself after the traumatic event.  This is a limited edition cigar to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the company. It’s a 6″x54 box pressed cigar with wrapper and binder from Jalapa and barrel aged Jalapa and Esteli fillers.  More information can be found here. Of course, I’m a ginormous fan of the Joya de Nicaragua company and their cigars, having had the privilege if visiting the factory on two occasions, so I was quite pleased when a pair of these showed up courtesy of John at Drew Estate (DE is the distributor for JdN, thanks JB!) as only 4500 cigars were produced. I marveled at the quality of this cigar.  The draw and burn were perfect. The smoke was smooth and cool, both in flavor and body.  It is a refined blend, worthy of it’s heritage. This is a fitting tribute to the company, and if you see these on your tobacconists shelves, give one a try. this is probably (definitely) priced outside my comfort zone, but I think I would shell out to have a few more of them in my humidor.

 

Friday evening I usually pick out a sure thing, but I was feeling adventurous and decided to try a Crossfire Corojo Toro that was an IPCPR sample. I had an incident at the show where I ended up losing some video files, causing me to run around like a mad fool on the last day of the show (which is a half day) trying to re-do some interviews. It was embarrassing and maddening.  Working from memory, I managed to get most of the ones I lost, but Crossfire is one that fell between the cracks. I apologize to those guys and Crossfire_CorojoTorohope to catch up with them again next time.  The premise of their operation is that they are a faith based company that puts their profits back into the community where the cigars are made, The Dominican Republic. From their website:

Our mission is to build a hand rolled premium Cigar Company that will make an excellent cigar at an affordable price. We will make the cigar, boxes and labels in the Dominican to be sure that we are investing in the local economy. We will provide employment for local workers and create a family atmosphere where they can be proud to be a part of a company dedicated to giving back.

The cigar is good, and I’m looking forward to trying the rest of the samples. The cigars are made in the Dominican Republic with William Ventura (Rodrigo Cigars, Psyko 7, Project 805) and are well made and have a well balanced flavor.  It was a straight medium bodied cigar to me, and flavorful.  While it’s not in my wheelhouse, it was a very nice way to spend a Friday evening.

 

Alec Bradley_Mundial PuntaLanzaNo4Saturday I had some choices to make.  There were Alec Bradley events happening at Famous Smoke Shop‘s Leaf Cigar Bar in Easton, PA as well as an Alec Bradley event at CigarCigars in Phoenixville, PA.  After weighing the difference between an hour and a half ride to and from Easton, and a ten minute ride to Phoenixville, the clear choice was to stay close to home and visit with my friend Jonathan “The Player” Lipson at Cigar Cigars.  I’ll let the guys from Over a Cigar/The Cigar Lounger cover the Famous event! I bought some of the new Mondial and Raices Cubanas cigars, as well as some Nica Puros and plopped myself on the leather couch and lit up a Mondial Punta Lanza No. 4.  This is an expensive cigar, however with the buy 3, get 2 deal it made it a little more reasonable. These had just been received in the store the previous day, so they really needed a little more time to recover, so the second one I bought will Alec Bradley_Nica Puro Robustospend a few weeks in time out in my humidor, but the one I smoked was very nice. It had a little bit of a tartness that was interesting.  Certainly worth a try and I’ll look forward to seeing what a few months rest does for these.  I followed it with a Nica Puro, and I really like this cigar. It’s a full flavored cigar that is quite satisfying.  I’m finding that I like several of the cigars that have come out recent;y and have “Nica” in the name.  These are more reasonably priced and are a must try.  I think if I had these, and the American Classic and Sungrown in my humidors all the time, I’d be quite happy.  Alec Bradley is doing it right, great product at a great price, and the guys they have on the street are first class.  at the IPCPR show they were constantly busy and I couldn’t get an interview, but they threw a hell of a party at the Palms Hotel pool.  Just about everyone was there.  It might have been nicer with out the loud dance music DJ, but it was a hopping party.

 

In a very peripherally related note, the 50th anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy is this week ( know where I was, three months old, either eating, sleeping or pooping!) and a gentleman of my acquaintance just released his book “Changin’ Times: 101 Days That Shaped A Generation” about the time between Kennedy’s assassination and the arrival of the Beatles. If you are a history buff, give this a read. It’s available on Amazon. I could put it in my Amazon store, but then you’d just think this was a sales pitch and it is a little, but I don’t stand to profit.  Al’s a great guy, and expert on all things Beatles, and has a unique take on a pivotal time in world history.

 

By the way, didn’t anyone notice I changed the background on this page?  Weigh in with your thoughts, do you like this one, or the way it was?

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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