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RoMEo Añejo, Aging Room DeSocio and a Liga Privada Aniversario

RoMEo_Anejo_TorpedoI have said many times over the last year or so that the RoMEo Añejo is a cigar I want to like. I don’t know exactly why I want to like it, perhaps its to find something in the Romeo y Julieta portfolio to call a favorite, or the fact that it has a Broadleaf wrapper and I “should” like it.  I tried my third one this week, a Torpedo, and I didn’t have the tight draw problems I’ve had in the past, or the over-humidified steamy smoke. Granted, this is less of a manufacturing problem and more of a storage problem, but who has the time to identify and segregate cigars that happen to smoke better at a lower humidity? If I can’t keep all my cigars (or a retailer for that matter, because at least one of the previous cigars I had trouble with came right off the retailers shelf) in the same humidor and have them smoke well I.m not happy. So I lit up the Añejo torpedo and had a nice, reasonable draw, and upon lighting it up I had mouthfuls of potent, rich smoke. I thought the line had redeemed itself in my eyes, until I hit a dead spot in the middle of the cigar. Once again, I want to like this cigar, but three strikes, ya know?  Fortunately the RoMEo 505 came along filling the void left by the Añejo, I really like that one!

 

AgingRoom_QuatroF55_DeSocioYesterday was  a beautiful Saturday with unseasonably high temperatures, so after getting some things done around the house and running some errands, I sat down with a fun looking little cigar that had been in the humidor for a while, I’m thinking since IPCPR 2015. I believe it was from the 2015 show because the Aging Room Quattro F55 DeSocio is an exclusive for the Alliance Cigar wholesaler group, and I remember meeting folks from that company in the Boutique Blends booth. The DeSocio is a 5¾” x 47 perfecto with a pigtail cap and a box press, so it seems smaller than the numbers would let you believe. Something about a lot of the Aging Room cigars has a tendency to effect me negatively nicotine-wise, not sure why, so I tend to let them age for as long as possible before I smoke them. This was a tasty little treat, with a Sumatra wrapper, and Dominican Habano filler and binder. It started out with a concerningly tight draw, but after about 30 seconds it opened up and was perfect. It had some sweetness and spice in the flavor and was very enjoyable. I did take a nap afterwards, but that didn’t have anything to do with the cigar. Like I said before, the box press makes this seem smaller than it is, I think I smoked it for an hour and a half. As with the majority of the output of Tabacalera Palma, this is a very good cigar.

 

LigaPrivada_Anniversario_ToroLast September, probably, I was at a Drew Estate Event at the Wooden Indian, and I did something I don’t usually do. Part of whatever deal they had going was that if you bought so many cigars you were allowed to buy a special cigar, in this case I ended up with a $16 Liga Privada Anniversario toro. I fell for it, I figured I liked Ligas, so chances were good I’d like it and it mike make for an interesting blog entry. This was one of those cigars that they had to get out into the market before the FDA deadline of August 8 last year, they were on display at the IPCPR show, and there were rumors that they were also releasing a 100th anniversary cigar thinking ahead to the future (this one, presumably, was for the 10th anniversary). I’ve been looking around for information on this cigar, the overall appearance is prettier than the No.9 wrapper, it’s more smooth and consistent, less rustic. Smoking it is a little more refined I think, there’s something smoother about it than the regular Liga 9. It was a good smoke, it functioned well, had a good burn and draw, and was satisfying, but it lacked the “pop” to me that No.9 has. I’d be interested to see more information on this cigar, there’s no mention of it on the Drew Estate Website, or the Diplomat app. I suppose I’ll have to harass the new social media guy there about this. It was a good cigar, I think for the price I should be amazed and not just satisfied, but that’s just me. While I don’t regret the purchase, I stick with my assertion that I’d buy two Nica Rusticas to one Liga every day of the week.

 

Today I’m thinking back six years to the time I met Guillermo Leon of La Aurora Cigars at the Wooden Indian after the birth of my first grandchild. We’ll be paying her a visit t, and will likely smoke something from La Aurora today at some point. I celebrated the birth of both my granddaughters with La Aurora Puro Vintage 2003s, and I have two more in the humidor. Not that I envision any more grandkids anytime soon, I hope, but they are there waiting for the day. Anyway, that’s all for today, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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Natural from Drew Estate, Imperia, Don Juan Urquijo and Padilla Cigars

Drew Estate_Natural_NDBAll I really wanted to do this week was smoke some old favorite cigars, you know how everyone has that comfortable old shirt that is worn out but you can’t get rid of, and wear every chance you get?  I have one, I wore it yesterday. Anyway, I wanted to, but I ended up smoking cigars I hadn’t smoked before instead, I kept thinking, if I just smoke familiar cigars, what am I going to blather on about in my Sunday post? So I started out with a Drew Estate Natural “NDB”, a cool 7″x 44 shape. I’m sure I had smoked something from the Natural line in the past, and I was pretty sure it wasn’t infused or anything, but I knew it used some unique tobaccos. It looks like there’s tobacco from Syria, Turkey and St. John’s Parrish (Perique) and Nicaragua. Toar Campbell of CigarSmoke.net made a comment on Facebook, simply saying “desert?”, which I found a very fitting description for this cigar. It had a sweet cap, which doesn’t thrill me, but I can get past it, and the overall flavor of the cigar was rich and sweet in the sense that a German Chocolate cake is rich and sweet. I quite enjoyed the cigar to tell the truth, I can see this working itself in to my “go-to” list. The flavors were varied and interesting and I found it to be a satisfying cigar. It looks like the blend varies by size, so perhaps some more sampling is called for, but I liked the 7″x 44 size. I think I have a couple in a robusto size floating around somewhere. This was probably my pleasant surprise of the week.

 

Imperia_PitaFriday night I ventured into another new-to-me cigar which came courtesy of George, my secret Santa this year. George has been healing from a surgery and part of me feels bad for smoking his cigars while he has been taking a break to heal, but part of me thinks he’d want me to enjoy the cigars so he could enjoy them vicariously. I prefer to think the later, because it would be douchey to throw it up in his face and I try not to be a douche.  Anyway, I had really been looking forward to trying the Imperia by Mike Belody, of MLB Cigar Ventures, since I hear it advertised on quite a few podcasts, and have heard Mike on some shows and almost feel like I know him. Unfortunately, our paths haven’t crossed yet, but I hope they do soon. Anyway, the Imperia was a corona size, which was perfect since I was getting a late start, forgoing my evening walk for just sitting on the porch. Unfortunately, winter decided to make a return and it was cold and windy, and I don’t like walking in the wind with a cigar. The porch is enclosed, reasonably warm and windless. The Imperia is made at the Quesada factory, with  High Priming Dominican Havana Vuelta Arriba (HVA) wrapper, Dominican binder and
fillers from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.  This was an amazing cigar! Full of great flavors and performed perfectly with a punch cut,  giving me a very relaxing hour of delicious smoke. For a cigar with a blue band this was pretty darned great! I got some dark coffee flavors with a little pepper and or citrus zing. Quite a great cigar and I thank George again for sharing it with me! Have to vent a little about one of me pet peeves though, please, manufacturers, put the available sizes on your website! I searched for this information for too long and almost gave up (couldn’t find an online retailer with it either) but I did finally find a 2014 Halfwheel post with the sizes, the corona is called the Pita listed at 5½” x 44.

 

DonJuanUrquiro_Perique_toroYesterday I selected a Don Juan Urquijo Perique from a recent sampler from Daughers & Ryan, the US distributor for Tabacalera in the Philippines. I really like the 1881 Perique blends from this company, and I was surprised with the Don Juan Urquijo Pyramid I smoked last November. So I figured this Don Juan Urquijo Perique toro might be a good bet. Let’s circle back to preconceived notions for a bit. I had a bias against Filipino cigars for a long time, but I gave them another show and found these, at least, to be pretty darned good (the Don Juan Urquijo and 1881). In what I’m told was a factory error which has been addressed, this Don Juan Urquijo Perique came in cellophane with a convenient tear strip, which, to my admittedly jaded and cigar snobbish mind signals a less than desirable cigar. Is it wrong to feel this way?  I don’t know, but perception is reality to some, and for me it was hard to get past, despite reassurances that this it was a premium, hand-made product wrapped by machine. I hate to admit that it took me some time to talk myself into pulling the ripcord on this one (literally and figuratively), but I did. Just goes to show how much packaging and presentation can play into one’s perception of quality. Anyway, I kinda liked the cigar,  not quite as much as I liked the 1881 Perique or the Don Juan Urquijo Pyramid, but it was a pleasant cigar with that little bit of an extra exotic spice the Perique tobacco adds.  Not bad…not bad at all.

 

Padilla_small batchI found myself with an hour to kill last night so I went searching for another shorter smoke and came across the five-pack of Padilla Single Batch Perfectos that I bought several months ago when  Cigars International offered them for $1 delivered. That’s right, this was a 20¢ cigar, how often do you admit to smoking a 20¢ cigar? I’ve bit on a couple of the five cigars for $1 deals, I can’t figure out why they do this since it obviously costs more than $1 to ship the things to me, heck it costs them way more than that to pay someone to put them in a box, not to mention the cost of the box…this is a loser for CI for sure,  and since they are out of stock of these my mentioning them here isn’t doing them any good. Either way, it’s worth a dollar to me to see what these are all about, if I lit each one with a dollar bill I’d still be ahead of the game. The little bowling pin shaped perfecto burned better than some $10-15 cigars I’ve smoked, it had a perfect draw and straight burn. Very impressive. The flavor was OK, I found it to be on the “floral” end of the spectrum, I’ve tasted a lot worse. Surprisingly, the blend is an Ecuador Sumatra wrapper, Honduran binder and Brazilian, Dominican, Honduran, and United States fillers.  So, it is possible to get a pretty good cigar cheap! I feel a little guilty buying these, like I’m stealing…

 

Anyway, that’s enough from me for now, stay tuned for another contest coming up featuring a ticket to an upcoming Philadelphia area cigar festival!  More on that later, but 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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Some Tatuaje Cigars, a Cromagon, an Event and a Disappontment

Killing a little time with a little Tatuaje Verocu at Holts. - @holtscigar @tatuajeincThursday evening my wife and I went into Philly for a show, and stopped into Holts for a quick cigar before hand. I picked out a Tatuaje Verocu No. 5 and we hung out in the lounge and watched the beginning of the Flyers home opener. The Verocu No. 5 is a 4″ x 40 little guy, with tons of flavor. It has an Ecuador wrapper and Nicaraguan binder and filler and is a terrific little treat. It went great with a cup of black coffee, and a relaxing hour in Holt’s lounge. It had that great cocoa and strong, black coffee flavor I love, with a hint of spice. These are very good cigars. Pete Johnson happened to be doing an event at Holt’s other location the same night, and was going to be in the downtown store Friday. I was sorry I didn’t catch up with him, but we had a nice evening anyway.

 

Friday I decided to give a reasonably new cigar a second chance, since to first one had some construction issues. I’m not going to name names in fairness to the cigar, as my experiences may have been atypical, but I will talk about the experience. Clever readers who folow me on social media will be able to connect the dots. This cigar has been resting in the humidor, along with all the other cigars I regularly smoke, since it came home from the IPCPR back in July. Basically, it burned and smoked like it was wet. Perhaps this particular wrapper, which is touted as a new hybrid leaf, just holds a lot of moisture and needs to be dry boxed or stored at a lower humidity. It just seemed wet to me. It wouldn’t stay lit, and when it was it had that steamy quality to Tired of fighting with the last cigar, switching to a Dunhill Aged Maduro - @alfreddunhillthe smoke. It was one of those rare cigars that makes me wish I carried a back-up on my walks.  When I got home I did something I rarely do and abandoned it and lit up a short robusto from Dunhill, their new Aged Maduro.  This just looks like a delicious cigar, but it had a funky flavor that I wasn’t expecting. I’m going to give this one a second chance as maybe my palate was out of whack from the first cigar, it’s not fair to make a judgement under those circumstances.

 

At Cigars International in Hamburg smoking an Avion Perfecto at a Drew Estate Event! @drewestatecigar @cigarsinternational @tatuajeinc @jonathandrew1 @drewestatepedro @drewestatedave @herreraesteliYesterday I went up to Cigars International in Hamburg as they were having a big Drew Estate event, and it was a rainy, ugly fall day. The CI store there is a destination, and adult Disneyland, and it’s hard not to spend five hours there. I went up with Mike C., and met an old friend there, and said hello to a bunch of my Drew Estate friends. I couldn’t decide on a DE cigar to smoke, it seems I’ve smoked everything I wanted to smoke from them, and had plenty in my humidor at home, so Mike and I went off the menu and picked out a couple Tatuaje Avion 11, a 6¾ x 52 perfecto. This was a beautifully crafted cigar with an Ecuador wrapper again, and Nicaraguan binder and filler much like the aforementioned Verocu. It started off with a blast of spice, settled into a rich Fomorianespresso and cocoa flavor, and finished of with some more spice. I noted that the burn was just about perfect, with a nice, flat ember that I really enjoy, as it shows the care that went into blending a cigar in a way that all the components burn at the same rate, a rare feat. After that I picked up some RoMaCraft Cromagnon Fomorian candela robustos, to finish off the afternoon. While this probably should have come before a full-bodied cigar like the Avion, it still has the horsepower to keep up, and I like the refreshing kind of feeling the candela wrapper gives this cigar. Of course, Jonathan Drew was scheduled to be at this event, and hadn’t shown by the time we left. It was nice to see a lot of my DE friends though, and we had a nice afternoon of conversation and cigars.

 

That’s all for today, until the net 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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