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Sweet Jane, Cornelius and Anthony and Partagas Cigars

Sweet JaneIt’s still cold here in Pennsylvania, so instead of taking my cigar for a walk, I’ve been walking Macha first, then relaxing on the porch in the glow of the propane heater. Monday I felt like I was in the mood for something unique, so I selected a Sweet Jane from Drew Estate and Deadwood Tobacco. The Deadwood “Yummy Bitches” line is basically a variation on the Natural (or soon ” Larutan”). This line, along with the Natural, uses tobaccos from Syria, Turkey and Louisiana, wrapped in a Nicaraguan Maduro wrapper. I don’t recall the Sweet Jane having as much of the saccharine sweetness on the cap that the Natural ( I should get used to calling it Larutan, I’ll blame dyslexia), which for me is a plus. The Cigar has tons of interesting flavor with exotic spices and richness. Like Drew Estate’s Swamp Thangs, I like the variety and change of pace.

 

CorneliusandAnthony_Aerial_ToroLast night I did take a cigar as it wasn’t bitter cold. I chose a Cornelius and Anthony Aerial Toro, it seems that I like the Toros across the Cornelius and Anthony line the best. One might think that an Ecuador Connecticut Shade wrapper would crack in the cold, but I had no such problem. It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the brand in general, my least favorite in the line i like more than maybe 80% of cigars out there. As far as shade wrapper cigars go, the Aerial is up there with my favorites. It has loads of flavor and a great burn. Later in the evening I was honored to take part in Developing Palates Cigar Media 2017 Recap show, with Aaron and Jiunn, Charlie from Halfweel.com, Will from Cigar-Coop.com and Eric from CigaDojo.com. Obviously my style is quite different from the rest of the panelists, but I’ve known all these guys for several years. I hope I had some positive contributions. If you missed it live, check it out on Developing Palates or their YouTube channel, or listen to the podcast version (like I will). There was a lot of interesting discussion.

 

Partagas_Heritage_RothschildTonight I returned to my walk first, smoke later plan, fingers get cold trying to smoke even with gloves on. I gotta get some electric gloves or something. The upside of doing it his way is I get to smoke some of the robusto and Rothschild size cigars that used to be my go to size, but more recently I’ve had more time to enjoy larger vitolas. I’ve been wanting to revisit the Partagas Heritage Rothschild, so tonight presented a perfect opportunity. What’s interesting to me about the blend is the Olancho San Augustin wrapper ( CAO OSA Sol, Cohiba Blue) over a Connecticut Broadleaf binder, with fillers from Dominican Republic, Honduras and Mexico. This another tasty little bugger, rich, chocolaty with some spice. It has a fairly long finish, which I’m still enjoying as I type. The Honduran wrapper is fairly neutral in my opinion, but the rest of the blend is where the flavor is.

 

That’s all for now, I can’t think of anything else to drone on about. Until the next time,

CigarCraig

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CigarCraig’s Holiday Giveaways No. 3 – Drew Estate Goodies!

Happy New Year’s Eve to everyone,  2017 is just about in the books, the year went by really fast.  I honestly don’t know what to expect from 2018, but I’ll keep smoking cigars, visiting shops and going to events I suspect. So I wish everyone a safe and happy 2018, and be careful out there tonight!  I’ll be finding an appropriate cigar to smoke this evening, that’s for sure.  Anyway, there’s the business of selecting the winner of the La Gloria Cubana Contest, which includes a travel humidor and a dozen La Gloria LaGloriaCubana ContestCubana cigars. The random number generator selected Trent Berry as the winner!  Trent, please send me your address so I can ship this off to you!  Once again, thanks to Rami at General Cigar Co., Cigar Cigars in King Of Prussia for having a great event with Ernesto Carillo which caused me to open my wallet and end up with a cool humidor to give away, and of course, General Cigar Co, for being an awesome steward of a long loved brand.  Gee, I wonder what today’s giveaway is?

 

Contest (note: not Comic Sans this time Mike P!)

 

DE Contest2017Today’s third and (maybe) final giveaway of the season is a collection of goodies from my friends at Drew Estate. Included are some items that may not be very common in the wild. These are items I’ve received over the course of the year, there’s a Barnsmoker cap from the Connecticut Barn Smoker (I’m not a hat guy), a DE backpack which contained a lighter, ashtray, and other assorted goodies which was from the media party that DE threw at the 2017 IPCPR, some various stickers that I’ve accumulated over the years, some of which are from my last visit to the factory in 2013, and a selection of cigars from my humidor including Undercrowns (and example of each wrapper), a KFC, a Nica Rustica and some Joya de Nicaraguas because Drew Estate distributes them and I have a bunch.  I’ll add to it if I come across more stuff. Once again, it’s not that I don’t appreciate these gifts from Drew Estate, I do, but I like to share my good fortune, and I have lots of “stuff”! You know the de4l, leave a comment here to enter and I’ll pick a winner next Sunday, Jan 7, 2018. As always, thank YOU all for your continued support!

 

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

 

CigarCraig

(I was thinking of making a version of the logo with a party hat and one of those noisemaker, party things, for New Years, but lack the patience for that right now…something for me to work on for next year!)

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CigarCraig’s Top Five Memorable Cigars of 2017

This is a little early but Sunday’s post just might be another contest and I don’t want to confuse things! I was trying to get this posted Wednesday, but things weren’t working out the way I wanted them to! Just like last year, my criteria is simple, a cigar that I consider “Memorable” is one I smoked, made a positive impression on me to the point where I really want to smoke more of that cigar.  I noted last year that this format, in no particular order, would keep me off Halfwheel’s Consensus list, but I just recently came to find out that my 2016 was included on their 2016 Awards: The Consensus Top 25 Cigars which included at least three of my five most memorable. So, without further ado, here’s my list of memorable cigars of last year.

 

LaGloriaCubana_Colección Reserva_PresidenteI’ve been a fan of La Gloria Cubana cigars since the mid-nineties when I started really getting into the premium cigars. Back then they were made by Ernesto Perez Carillo in Miami and later the Dominican Republic and were excellent. Time has passed, along with ownership of the company, and Ernesto has gone on to do his own thing, but he came back to partner with General to make the Coleccion Reserva. one a side note, the current contest running now until Sunday includes ten of these great cigars, and let me tel you it’s going to be hard to let go of them! I kid, I’m happy to share such great cigars. These are manufactured at Ernesto’s  Tabacalera La Alianza in the Dominican Republic using materials from both companies. I like them so much I bought a box of the Presidente size for full retail! This cigar exemplifies the cooperative nature of the cigar industries where competing companies work together. It doesn’t always work, but in the case of the La Gloria Cubana Coleccion Reserva is does. Smoking one with Ernesto at a local event puts it at the top of my most memorable list ( I know, I said it was in no particular order!).

 

CorneliusandAnthony_SenorEsugars_RobustoCornelius and Anthony makes an appearance again this year, I still go to the Cornelius Toro as my “go to” special occasion cigar, but there aren’t a lot of cigars in their portfolio that I don’t like. OK, I don’t think there are any that I don’t like. OK, OK, there aren’t any I don’t like! This year they released two new lines, the Aerial with a Ecuador Connecticut Shade wrapper,  and the Señor Esugars with a San Andrés wrapper, which is my second selection on my memorable list. These are made at the La Zona factory in Esteli. I really dig this cigar, which, like the Aerial, has a super secret US grown binder. they are tight-lipped about the origin of the leaf they use, but considering the Bailey family has been growing tobacco in Virginia for 150 years, one cant help but think it’s grown in Virginia. It certainly adds a unique component to the cigars, and the Señor Esugars hits my palate just right. There’s a super cool dog on the box too. Full disclosure: Cornelius and Anthony is an advertiser on CigarCraig.com, but the only effect that has on my opinion is in that bearing contacted by them to advertise put them on my radar, and meeting Steven Bailey and his team adds to the memorability.

 

SouthernDraw_Jacob'sLadder_GordoSouthern Draw Cigars has been on my radar for a while, but at this year’s IPCPR I finally got to meet Robert Holt, his wife, Sharon, and their family. Upon meeting, Robert did a convincing job of knowing who I was and was generous with his time.  Robert is a gentleman, a veteran, a spiritual man and is behind some of the best cigars coming out of Tabacalera AJ Fernandez.  New to me this year was the Jacobs Ladder, his Pennsylvania Broadleaf flavor bomb. The name hints at his commitment to family and faith, and the cigar is awesome. I’m currently on the hunt for more, because it’s one I want to smoke more of, and it’s an especially good choice for the cold weather we’ve been having as the weight of the flavor cuts through the crisp air.  The Rose of Sharon is also a stellar offering in the Ecuador Connecticut wrapper (there should be little doubt by now that a maduro is almost always winning out over a shade wrapper with me!), it’s among the best out there (the above mentioned Aerial and the Fratello Oro get honorable mentions).  So that makes the Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder my third memorable smoke of 2017.

 

OscarHabano_SixtyNext up is another cigar I really enjoyed this year, the Oscar Habano. Funny think about this one is that I had bought some of the Toro  and Gordo sizes an really enjoyed them, but it wasn’t until  I had the Robusto that was part of 2 Guys Smokeshop‘s Contenders pack that I really saw the beauty of this cigar. Listen to The Cigar Authority tomorrow (Saturday 12/30) to see if they get it right and select this cigar as the Cigar of the Year. As I think about it, I may dig out the one toro I still have and smoke it today. Oscar makes some great cigars, the Leaf by Oscar line is very good (there’s another Ecuador Connecticut cigar that’s really good!), it’s nice that he made something exceptional to put his name on (wait…his name is on the Leaf by Oscar isn’t it?) Great smoke, I hope 2 Guys Smokeshop makes the right call on this one.

 

FSG ToroFinally, I really can’t get enough of the Florida Sungrown from Drew Estate. This uses tobacco that’s grown on Jeff Borysiewicz’s (Corona Cigar Co.) Farm where he’s growing Corojo tobacco, the first time Cigar tobaco has been grown in Florida for something like 40 years. Willie Hererra blended the cigar using Nicaraguan and Honduran tobaccos with the Florida leaf adding that little something different in the flavor.  I have to admit, it was a toss-up between the FSG and the Undercrown Sungrown, both are exceptional and I really dig them, but the FSG has a great story and inches out the Undercrown by a hair. Drew Estate continues to bring new and interesting cigars to the market, I have to admit that I rather liked the new Acid Kuba Candela too. While I’m more of a traditional cigar smoker, this one was a treat, the bitterness of the candela wrapper offset the sweetness of the infusion. Good stuff.

 

That’s it for my five most memorable cigars of the past year. There were probably others that I thought were excellent but didn’t have the little extra to make them stand out. The La Palina El Año 1816 was on my list too, I just need to smoke a few more before I can make a strong recommendation (the La Palina Classic Maduro I smoked last night was really quite tasty too!).  Hopefully 2018 brings some new and interesting cigars. Once again, thanks to all the readers and sponsors, without whom I’d be typing for my own entertainment!

 

That’s all for now, don’t forget the contest! Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Deadwood Tobacco’s Fat Bottom Betty by Drew Estate

Fat Bottom BettyAs I’m getting my palate back after this cold, I wanted to smoke something with tons of flavor and was fairly new and interesting.  I recently heard Fabian Ziegler, also known as Dirty Fabian, on a podcast or two talking about the line of cigars Drew Estate made for Deadwood Tobacco in South Dakota, and recently took national to their Drew Diplomat accounts. He described it as a variation on the Natural line, which I enjoy now and then because it uses interesting tobaccos like Perique and Syrian tobaccos more often used in pipe tobacco. I want to say that the difference is the maduro wrapper on the Fat Bottom Betty, which I smoked tonight, the line also has the Crazy Alice and the Sweet Jane, three crazy bitches, as Drew Estate describes them.  I even like the sweet cap on these. The Fat Bottom Betty is a 5″ x 54 with an unfinished foot. It starts out very sweet, with the interesting spices from the exotic tobaccos making for a very entertaining smoke. There was a point near the end where I got a hint of a spiced candy that I can’t quite place, but I recognized, whether it was those spiced gumdrops, or some hard candy your grandmother might have had in her candy dish at the holidays, I’m not sure.  It smoked perfectly, as one would expect from a Drew Estate offering.

I admit that I don’t gravitate toward the non-traditional cigar lines, nor fat bottoms,  but this cigar is one I’d smoke again in a heartbeat. This holds true for the Natural (soon to be called the Larutan to avoid trouble, but seriously, cigars are natural, why not be allowed to call them that?) as well, as I’ve really enjoyed the NDB in the past, and owe the rest of the line a try. While I’m thinking about Dirty Fabian, give his podcast a listen, it’s DE4Live, available on iTunes until Apple decides that cigar podcasts go against their terms like Cigar Aficionado’s Where to Smoke App (story at the link if you haven’t heard)…or whatever other podcast app you might use. It’s a fun show.

That’s enough out of me for tonight, until the next time,

CigarCraig

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Villiger, General Cigar, and Drew Estate Cigars

Since I posted the contest Wednesday (go enter if you haven’t already!), I have a fee more cigars than normal to post about. Bear with me, it was a pretty good week!  We’ll start off with Villiger‘s newest release, the La Flor de Ynclan. A couple of months ago a package arrived at my door that weighed about 12 pounds and I thought “what the heck is in here?” It turned out to be a little box with three La Flor de Ynclan cigars in Churchill, torpedo and robusto sizes, and a bottle of Zaffra Rum, a very generous gift, many thank to the folks at Villiger and Creativas! Most of my loyal readers know that I don’t drink, so one of these days (and I should have done it while the weather was warmer!), I’ll have to have some people over and have them sample this rum and put out a spread of Villiger cigars. From the Villiger website:

 

The La Flor De Ynclan is a special cigar, diligently crafted by Heinrich Villiger and master blender Jose Matias Maragoto of ABAM Cigar Factory in the Dominican Republic.

Heinrich Villiger, chairman of the board of Villiger Soehne AG, came across a young ambitious Cuban native 22 years ago in the Dominican Republic. That Cuban, Jose Matias Maragoto was an unknown cigar maker, who was beginning a new life in a new country. Fast forward two decades, the once untested Matias Maragoto is the overseer of all Villiger made product made in the DR. The Flor de Ynclan cigar, is the fruition of a bond between two different men from different backgrounds, over the love of tobacco.

The La Flor De Ynclan is a cigar that presents a distinct full-flavor experience, due to the extended aging of the tobacco. Choice Nicaraguan and Dominican filler tobacco, along with a true Indonesian binder, wrapped in a beautiful Ecuadorian wrapper make the La Flor De Ynclan a cigar that has been worth the wait.

FlordeYnclan

 

I started with the Churchill, a beautiful 7″ x 48 (close enough), with the above-mentioned components. I thought this was a terrific cigar. It was solid medium, and had a quality that I though would suite the European market well. It was complex with some citrus sweetness and a twinge of spice. There have been some Villiger cigars that I really liked, some were so-so, but this one stands apart, I think. It was very tasty, worth a try. I am disappointed that they discontinued the Trill line (made at Tabacalera Palma), although the name is kinda dumb, the cigar is good. I bought a box while I had the chance.

 

BolivarMoving on, I found myself at The Wooden Indian Tobacconist once again where Sean Williams, the Cohiba Brand Ambassador, was appearing for a meet and greet with the lounge membership. I first met Sean at the 2011 IPCPR show, in his El Primer Mundo booth. Ironically, Willie Herrera was hanging out in the booth with him at the same time, so it was also when I met Willie. I got there early and bought some General Cigar Co. cigars that I hadn’t smoked before, as well as a couple of the newer Sean_CohibaBolivars that I’ve enjoyed in the past. The only Cohibas that they had in stock were the Macasar, and I had a couple of those in the humidor already (and they are really pricey!). I was in the mood for Broadleaf, so the Bolivar 652 Toro was the smoke of choice. I know, I know, the Bolivar has a Connecticut Habano Maduro wrapper, not Broadleaf, but it was as close as I was going to get, OK?  This was released at the 2015 IPCPR show, and was Michael Giannini’s project re-imagining the Bolivar (and Ramon Allones). I like the box design, but I can’t say I love the band, it could have been classier, not Rami_Generalthat my opinion counts. I wonder what Mr. Giannini is up to? The Bolivar cigar is great, to my palate. I dig the closed foot and pigtail cap on these and they are very well priced. Anyway, it was a great evening at the Wooden Indian. Dave and his staff are top-notch and it was nice catching up with Sean ( and Rami, the area sales rep, another cool dude).  One last thing about this cigar. It’s neither on the Cigarworld.com or the Foundry websites, the only info I have is from the General Cigar Co. press info from the show.

 

LigaPrivadaSerieUnico_AI slipped back and forth between General Cigar Co. and Drew Estate this week, but I was probably heavier on the DE. I had to smoke another of the Florida Sun Grown toros since I bought a few more at the Wooden Indian charity event, and it was pretty darned tasty. Friday I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to smoke, and decided to go big and smoke a Liga Privada Serie Unico “A” that came from the Connecticut Barn Smoker. I probably should have swapped it for one from the 2014 two count box, but I was too lazy.  An “A” is a traditional Cuban size, it’s 9″ x 47, two notable examples being the Cuban Montecristo and the Sancho Panza Sancho. I took a walk with this cigar and when I got home an hour later I was just hitting the 6″ mark.  It was delicious, but due to its length, was on the milder side for a Liga Privada. It’s a good cigar, no doubt, and actually burned faster than I would have thought, I was finished in a little over two hours. From what I can tell, this is more of a T52 blend as it has the Connecticut stalk cut Habano wrapper, so I guess I’m still looking to satisfy my Broadleaf desire. I’ll find something today. These are only available at events, and are probably considered something of a unicorn in the Liga Privada world. I loved it, I thought it was delicious, but if I had ponied up a bunch of $ on the secondary market I’d have felt a little let down.

 

AcidKubaCandelaSince the current contest features a Drew Estate Acid KubaKuba Candela, I was kinda challenged to smoke one. Fortunately, I had one, as well as a couple of the little Blondie Candelas. I could have wimped out and went with the Blondie and gotten it over with, but why not just go for the gusto?  The regular KubaKuba is just distasteful to me, can’t even stand the smell.  I smoked a Kuba Maduro once in Nicaragua after about eight cigars and it was enjoyable. I entered this with as open a mind as I could muster, and, to lend credence to that, I didn’t take a spare cigar on my walk. I was committed (or should be). Happy to report that I enjoyed the cigar. The Candela wrapper has some bitterness that counters the sweet floweryness of the infusion. If one doesn’t like Candela cigars, I don’t imagine this one is going to change that opinion, because the grassy candellaness (my made up word for the day) is apparent. But, like it’s siblings in the Acid line, it’s well made with quality tobaccos. If you like the Acid line, try this, it’s probably going to be interesting. If you like Candela wrapped cigars, try this. If you don’t like either Candela or infused, I don’t know what to tell you…maybe this one would be a good change of pace, open your mind!

 

I was going to add one more cigar in here, but it’s getting long, I’ll circle back to that cigar. It was good and came highly recommended, I want to smoke another one and pay a little more attention to it before writing about it. Also, I bought a ticket to a Meet and Greet with Ernesto Carillo at the CigarCigars King of Prussia Mall store (smoke while your wife shops!) on Wednesday, October 11 which seems like a good deal, $25 for three cigars, booze and hors d’oeuvres and the chance to talk to a legend in the cigar business. Interestingly, this is a General Cigar event, featuring the new La Gloria Cubana Colleccion Reserva.

 

That’s all for now, until the next time, when we’ll select a contest winner,

 

CigarCraig

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