Tag Archives: Dunbarton

AJ-Booth-Caldwell, Hamlet and Todos Las Dias Cigars

AJF-Booth-Caldwell_ToroI smoked three cigars from the IPCPR show this week so far, and I’m not entirely sure any of them are on tobacconist’s shelves yet. I started with one of the cigars Matt Booth had at the show. Let me express my disappointment that the video I did with Matt had no audio, and what fun is that?  Not that Matt might or might not have visual aids, but his booth was a collection of arcade games and nothing else, and interviews with Mr. Booth are always informative and hilarious. Sad that the audio wasn’t there, I wish I had known.  Anyway, one of the cigars he had at the show was a collaborative effort with AJ Fernandez, Matt and Robert Caldwell, which was supposed to be called “Truth”, but a late trademark issue got in the way, and the samples he was handing out had the simple band pictured. I’m just going to call it ABC in the interest of brevity. So this is a nice box pressed 6″ x 52 toro and is a Nicaraguan puro, with a dark maduro wrapper. Upon lighting the cigar I quickly realized that if I Booth Swagwere to blend a cigar, it  would taste very much like this one. Regular readers will know that I love a cigar with loads of rich cocoa and coffee with a bit of spice. This one had some strength also, which was a perfect complement to the flavors. I loved it, I can’t wait to see what this evolves into. It’s a shame they had to abandon the name and packaging, but Matt is a creative guy, he’ll come up with something fantastic, like this cigar was.


Hamlet_25thYearLast night I tried the Hamlet 25th Year robusto from Rocky Patel. I liked the 5½” x 50 robusto, the slightly longer length appeals to me. This is totally different from the Tabaqueros that Hamlet produced a year or so ago for Rocky Patel, that cigar was Hamlet’s first foray into blending a cigar that wasn’t all Cuban tobacco, for those who don’t know, Hamlet Paredes was an ambassador for Habanos S.A. and traveled the world ding rolling events. I guess it’s accurate to say he defected from Cuba and found a home working with Rocky Patel. I loved the Tabaquero, and this new offering is very different, but very tasty. It has an Ecuador Habano wrapper, Pennsylvania Broadleaf binder and fillers from Honduras and Nicaragua. I thought it was, dare I say, Cubanesque in that it was on the milder side, but had a lot of good flavors, some vanilla creaminess, light fruit and chocolate. This is yet another cigar I look forward to trying again.


TodosLasDias_RobustoTonight I got an unexpected phone call from (I’m going to name drop here), Jose Blanco, who was in the  general area, but I wasn’t able to met up with him. In our conversation about cigars from the IPCPR show he mentioned Todos las Dias from Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust and how he thought it was the best cigar Steve Saka had made so far. I’ve had a single robusto from the show that Steve gave me as he was testing the internal humidity (see the video here), and I assumed it was from the “passed” pile. I figured tonight was the night to smoke it, it had been in my humidor since the show in July, the same humidor all the IPCPR samples were in and have been smoking well. The Todos las Dias is Saka’s first Nicaraguan Puro, with a Sun Grown wrapper and fillers from Jalapa and Esteli, rolled at the Joya de Nicaragua factory. I noted a couple ironies. First, the Dunbarton website lacks detailed information on this cigar, the Sobremesa and Mi Querida are detailed quite nicely, with only a passing mention of this and his other lines. This is very un-Saka. The second and more important irony was that this cigar smoked like it was over-moist. The humidor this has been in is at 68%, and I saw first had that the internal humidity of the cigar when it came into my possession was under 12%. Steve wasn’t handing out cigars that weren’t going to smoke perfectly. My only thought is that the heavy tobaccos in this cigar sucked up the ambient humidity when I took it out. It had rained here and was very humid outside. Flavor-wise, I see where this is a great cigar when it burns like it should, and as son as I see some in the wild I’ll grab some and try them under the right conditions. I’m particularly interested in trying the Double Wide Belicoso, which appears to use the same molds as Joya de Nicaraguas Gran Consul (I have some Rosalones in the same size too). Flavor was full, lush and yummy. I have to defer to Jose on this one for now, a Sobremesa El Americano I smoked Sunday was perfect.


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




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IPCPR 2017 – Southern Draw Cigars

At the IPCPR show this year I finally had the chance to meet Robert Holt of Southern Draw cigars at his award-winning booth. The booth had an inviting back porch feel, and as I was standing at the booth waiting to introduce myself I met his in-laws (I hope I’m right remembering the relationships) who were helping man the booth. Lovely folks giving the Southern Draw company the family feel that is consistent with what I’ve heard of the company. When Robert finished he came and greeted me like an old friend, already knowing who I was. I can’t get used to being recognized, I was similarly surprised earlier in the week by Mickey of Blind Mans Puff, who is a long time reader and former contest winner. Anyway, as it was the end of the second day of the show, we agreed to meet first thing Thursday morning when the show opened.


SouthernDraw_RoseofSharon_GordoSouthern Draw featured three new cigars this year, the Jacobs Ladder, the Rose of Sharon and the Quick Draw with a Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper. I smoked the Rose of Sharon at the show, it’s named after Robert’s wife Sharon. Since I can’t really make any kind of judgments on cigars smoked at the show, I smoked another one last night in the Gordo format, a generous 6.5″ x 60.  The wrapper is Ecuadorian Sun Grown Connecticut (Ecuador has perpetual cloud cover, so the sun  grown description is accurate, but the wrapper is indistinguishable from a shade grown Connecticut wrapper). The binder and filler are Nicaraguan, based on the information on the website I don’t think there’s ligero in the blend. (edit: after watching the video again, Robert said that it has 25% ligero! Still smooth and flavorful!) As with all of the Southern Draw cigars, this is made at the AJ Fernandez factory. The Rose of Sharon is buttery smooth, with loads of flavor. It has the signature nutty/grassy shade wrapper flavor with a level of richness and depth that was really enjoyable. I enjoyed the heck out of the Rose of Sharon at the show, and even more on last night’s walk and for an hour or so after getting back.


SouthernDraw_Jacob'sLadder_GordoRewind to Thursday when I selected the Jacobs Ladder, again in the 6.5″ x 60 Gordo size. This new cigar isn’t yet listed on the company website, but it is listed at Famous Smokeshop, which says it has a PA broadleaf wrapper and Nicaraguan fillers specifying Esteli ligero and Ecuador Habano binder. The name is both a biblical reference and another family name as Robert and Sharon have a son named Jacob (middle name). The importance of family was abundantly clear in the IPCPR booth. I didn’t like the Jacobs Ladder.  I LOVED it. Holy crap this is a great cigar! Strength, flavor and balance like crazy. It’s not a morning smoke, or a cigar for the faint of heart.  The PA broadleaf (incidentally, grown in the next county to the west of where I live). It hit on my favorites, cocoa, espresso, with some spice and earth from the broadleaf. I appreciate the signature closed foot on Robert’s cigars, as it SD_JLgives an initial blast of wrapper flavor at the start, that is, unless you toast it like you would a finish footed cigar. I go straight to the mouth with the closed feet cigars so I don’t miss anything (let to a burn hole in a shirt once…). This is another gem from Southern Draw, I think that makes them five for five with me now, I dig the Kudzu, Firethorn and Quickdraws too (although I’m behind on sampling the Quickdraws, haven’t had the Connecticut or PA Broadleaf yet). Generally the cigars coming out of AJ Fernandez appeal to me and these cigars from Southern Draw are at the top of the heap. Well done, Robert Holt!



Speaking of Famous Smoke Shop, they have a new Cuban Cigars Hub on their site. Since it’s now permissible to buy Cuban cigars in countries where they are legally available (most) and bring them in to the U.S., The folks at Famous have put together this hub to further educate consumers on not only the cigars, but the rules and the history of the Cuban Embargo and all it encompasses. Head to http://cubancigars.famous-smoke.com/, there’s a lot of great information they’ve put together. 


MiQurida_MasSuciaFinally, I stopped in to my favorite local shop, the Wooden Indian, Friday night for there Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust event with Steve Saka. Of course, if my old friend Steve is in my ‘hood, I feel compelled to visit, buy his cigars and hang out and smoke with him for a while. As a bonus, his wife Cindy was there too. I smoked the new Mi Querida Mas Sucia, which is an enormous 7″ x 58 which generally more of a good thing in the Mi Querida line. It started mellow and built over the two and a half hours I smoked it. Odd that I smoked all very large cigars this week, but why not? I enjoyed them all! I also managed to score a never released Liga Privada No. 9 with a Connecticut wrapper with my purchase, which will be a very interesting cigar, considering it’s seven years old.


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





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Umbagog and Tatuaje Pudgy Monsters Cigars and Fratello News

UmbagogLast week I bought some of the Fratello Fire Crackers from 2 Guys Cigars when they went on sale, and while I was at it, I added a few of Steve Saka’s Umbagog Corona Gordas to my order as I was itching to try them out. The Umbagog is almost the same blend as the Mi Querida, utilizing Connecticut Broadleaf wrappers that  weren’t as pretty (in Steve’e estimation, who else could tell?) as the wrappers on the Mi Querida. I love the Mi Querida, so chances were good that this was a safe buy. The advantage is that the Umbagog is a little less expensive, although I would be hard pressed to tell the difference in a blind tasting. Like the Mi Querida, the Umbagog is made in the NACSA factory in Nicaragua. I mistakenly thought I got the Toro Toro, but upon reflection, I had the Corona Gorda, I thought it looked thinner than the Ancho Larga in its sister line. The Corona Gorda is 6″ x 48, which ten years ago would have been a toro for the most part. It had one of the better burns I’ve had in a non-Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust cigar, they all seem to burn perfectly, which goes along with Steve’s Puros sin Compomiso mantra. It was loaded with sweet espresso and cocoa flavors that I enjoy, and, with the exception of its plain band and odd name, was as great a cigar as I’ve smoked. I’m waiting for the right time (and company) to smoke the Muestra de Saka I have, and continue to gravitate toward a cigar from this company when I want a sure thing.  The Umbagog is a winner, pick them up when you can as they are limited to the “reject” wrappers!


Tatuaje_PudgyWolfTonight I grabbed one of the Tatuaje Pudgy Monsters that was in the Oh F*ck I’m Lost pack I got at an event a while back. I had the Drac and the Wolf to choose from and went with the Wolf. I’ve smoked the Wolfman, the 7½” x 54 big old torpedo with the shaggy foot that I want to say was the fourth release in the Monster series back in 2011?  The Pudgy Monsters version is a 5½” x 52 belicoso with the same shaggy foot, that is the wrapper is cut back a half-inch from the end. It’s fun the be able to taste when the wrapper flavor kicks in and understand how much that thin leaf adds to the flavor. This one has an Ecuador Sumatra wrapper, and the rest is Nicaraguan. I remember really enjoying the larger format (TY to Will Cooper, I think it was in a sampler he sent for my 50th birthday, which was a handful of years ago now!). This one had a smooth, nutty, grain flavor with some mellow coffee in the second half and was a really flavorful and pleasing cigar. Burn was flawless. Dammit, now I’m going to have to keep an eye out for more of these, I suspect the samplers are still around, but I’d certainly buy a few of these if they were available singly, which I don’t guess they are. I’m doing pretty good this week, two spectacular cigars!


I mentioned the Fratello Firecracker earlier, this is a 3″x 50 format with a long pigtail “fuse” that is a 2 Guys exclusive, and every year it’s made by someone else, Don Pepin Garcia, La Flor Dominicana, RoMaCraft…this year’s is made by Fratello. These usually are a strong blend, I’ve smoked the LFD and Cromagnon versions and look forward to trying Omar’s version, I’m sure it’ll be great. But Omar de Frias has a new Fratello cigar debuting at the IPCPR show that sounds interesting. This one is called the Fratello Naveta, which is Italian for “shuttle” and is a nod to his years at NASA (where he makes a space shuttle look small).

“Blending Fratello Naveta was special as I wanted to translate the ultimate celebration our men and women of the space program felt after a successful mission”. “After being part of over 21 missions nothing beats the feeling of getting our astronauts home safe to their families” said de Frias.

“Colleagues of mine would get together and smoke a very special cigar to commemorate the occasion. This very special blend carries the ultimate feeling of innovation, duty, honor and success” said de Frias.

Fratello_NavettaBlended with an Ecuador oscuro wrapper the blend will be featured in 4 vitolas.

– Robusto Discovery (5 x 50) 10.50

– Toro Endeavor (6 ¼ x 54) 11.25

– Gordo Enterprise (6 x 60) 12.00

– The Boxer Atlantis (6 ¼ x 52) 12.50

Fratello Navetta will be manufactured at Joya de Nicaragua and will be available for shipment in September. Omar de Frias worked at NASA for 12 years prior to leaving to focus full-time on Fratello.


I’m looking forward to trying this one!  The presentation looks great!  I’ll get to the Firecrackers in the coming weeks.


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




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CroMagnon Firecracker, Mi Querida, Belstaff Bond, CAO Flathead and Cigar Prop

I had a long day Sunday with my brother-in-law framing out two walls in my living room. I guess in the late 50’s when the house was built heating was cheap and insulation wasn’t a big concern, so putting drywall right over brick and block walls was OK. Over the years people also thought it was a good idea to wallpaper, then after wallpaper was out of fashion it was OK to paint the wall paper. We’ve been systematically removing old drywall and insulating the outside walls. This is all irrelevant except that it was a long day, and by the CroMagnon_Firecrackertime I got to a cigar, I wanted something short, but satisfying. At the IPCPR I finally met an old friend, Dave Payne, and he generously shared with me some cigars, one of which was a RoMaCraft CroMagnon Firecracker, this years Two Guys Smoke Shop special edition. In years passed they have had the Firecracker vitola made by La Flor Dominicana and Tatuaje (I think?). It’s a 3″ x 50 with a closed foot and a long pigtail “Fuse”.  I have to think this is a goosed up version of the CroMagnon blend, it’s a powerful little cigar and was just what I needed to wrap up a productive day. While it was strong, it was loaded with those deep, dark flavors that I love in the CroMagnon blend. Of course, I wanted it to be longer, but it was a great little smoke. Thanks to Dave for sharing it with me, Skip for making it, and Dave Garofalo for dreaming up this vitola. I have a suspicion that this will be a very hard cigar to find.


Mi Querida Monday! Taking a walk with an Ancho Largo - @stevesakaMonday I figured it was time to give Steve Saka’s Mi Querida another try, dubbing the occasion “Mi Querida Monday”. Maybe we can make this a thing, #miqueridamonday needs to enter the lexicon. Anyway, I smoked one of these at the show and saw the potential, trade show samples smoked in the Las Vegas environment is rarely a good way to sample a cigar. I found another one in my samples, and had been salivating over it waiting for the right time to smoke it. Monday was the night. I’m anxiously awaiting these showing up in one of my local shops so I can put some more in my humidor. This cigar had everything I love about cigars, great construction, perfect draw and the Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper was delicious. This could become one of those “goto” cigars that always satisfies. I obviously have a bias, I’ve known Steve for 20 years, but I know him well enough to be honest with him if I don’t like something he made, but I would like this cigar no matter who was behind it. Another winner from Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust.


BelstaffBond_ToroTuesday I came across a cigar that came from the Bugatti Cigars booth, which was within the Meier and Dutch booth (the distribution arm of Cigars International). This was a toro called Belstaff Bond, and is made in General Cigar’s Santiago, DR factory. This cigar had a nice, dark Ecuador Sumatra wrapper,  and was quite a good smoke. I have smoked several cigars from the Bugatti line, and found them to be quite nice. This reminds me that I’ve been using the new Xikar Xidris lighter pretty exclusively for the last few weeks and am finding it to be an excellent lighter. It holds a lot of fuel and lights every time. It has a solid, hefty feel, and Xikar says that it has super car styling (see the tie in?). It’s a classy lighter, I just have to make sure I have it oriented the right way or I’ll burn my palm one of these days. It’s a very nice lighter.


In the mood for a CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger - @caocigars @xikar @cigarpropTonight I got a hankering for a “goto” cigar, and opted for the CAO Flat Head Steel Horse Apehanger, a 5½” x 58 cigar with a Connecticut Habano wrapper. I really love the Flathead line, the Steel Horse series is round instead of square pressed, but still has the flat cap, which is best approached with a large-bore punch. The released two new sizes this year at the show, and I’ve yet to get my hands on either one (the Handbrake and the Roadkill, both in the robusto range at 4½ x 50 and 5½ x 54 respectively), and as soon as I come across some I’ll be picking them up, but the Apehanger does it for me. I once joked about putting Apehanger handlebars on my Yamaha Majesty 400 scooter…


CigarProp1Finally, you’ll recall a year or so back I mentioned some nice cigar tubes that Kevin Shahan was making in his Florida machine shop, and he’s moved into making another useful cigar product, the Cigar Prop. This is a machined aluminum cigar stand that is very handy. I tried to make a poor man’s version of this a few years ago out of a piece of bamboo and a 1″ hole saw. I would walk to the local convenience store, set my cigar on the ice cooler outside (or the top of the Red Box machine) while I went into the store. CigarProp2One day a Liga Privada number nine rolled off and I had to reach under the machine to retrieve it and it had been damaged in the six-foot drop and just wasn’t the same after that. That’s when I started carrying the bamboo stand with me. Not that I have too much of a need for that anymore, but this Cigar Prop is a handy addition to the collection of cigar tools. It’s very nicely machined, cradles the cigar nicely and is attractive. You can see it in use in two of the photos above. Give Kevin’s Cigar Prop site a look, and for you bearded guys, he also has a line of beard products called  Irish Beard Balm.


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





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A Sobremesa Event, Tabequeros by Hamlet and a BG Meyer Cigar

EsperanzaI smoked a bunch of nice cigars this week, starting off with my traditional Father’s Day Esperanza para los Niños which smoked very well for a 17-year-old cigar, and still had a nice, rich flavor. I followed that with an Aging Room Maduro, another great smoke with a great flavor. Both were up my alley, and hit the spot.  There was also another La Gran Llave torpedo from Michael Argenti’s newest venture, which was also a great smoke. Yet another wonderful cigar out o f the AJ Fernandez Factory. On anpther note, my wife ordered me a box of Sam Leccia‘s new cigar, Desnudo, which I’m excited to try (and she wants the box!). I have mixed feelings about the upcoming trade show. Everyone is going to be releasing new cigars to meet the August 8th FDA deadline. Considering that cigars in the last 10 years have been the best that they’ve ever been, how many of the hundreds of new cigars that are going to be released aren’t going to be ready? Another aspect in my mind is how are retailers going to be expected to buy all these new brands with shelves that are already full? It’s all deeply troubling and depressing. Anyway, on to more positive things…


Sobremesa_TorpedoThursday night I had the privilege to be invited to a lounge event at The Wooden Indian cigar shop. My old buddy Steve Saka of Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust was there to talk for a solid three hours on everything tobacco. He covered 10,000 years of tobacco history, how cigars are made, the economics of cigars and how our government is going to goof if up. Always a great story-teller too. I took my old friend Scott along with me, and his mind was sufficiently blown I think, and I learned a great deal from the talk. I also bought a bunch more Sobremesas, Sakasmoked a Torpedo Tiempo and an El Americano over the course of the evening, and even got my hands on the new Short Churchill size (4¾”x48). Of course, the cigars were perfect, the Torpedo, despite Steve saying it was his least favorite size, had an interesting sweetness that I haven’t found in the other sizes. I can’t wait to try the new Mi Querida, with a broadleaf wrapper. I could have gotten one if I had bought a box of Sobremesa, and Dave, the proprietor of the Wooden Indian, smoked one and seemed to be quite impressed (judging by the tiny saka97nub he begrudgingly dropped in the ashtray. It’s always a treat to see Steve, and I had a great time hanging out with Scott and smoking some great cigars.  Just for fun, I scrounged up a picture of Steve from a cigar event in 1997. Pardon the quality, but back then you had to scan printed pictures to get them on to the web, it wasn’t as easy as whipping out your phone.


Tabaquero_ToroFriday I wrapped up another week with a cigar I had been anticipating for quite a while. I purchased a Tabaquro toro at a visit to Jacoub’s Cigar & Tobacco Outlet in Ridley Park, PA a few months ago. I had been wanting to try the cigar, blended by Hamlet Paredes, a rather well-known Cuban cigar maker, who made this cigar with Rocky Patel. I think this is my new favorite cigar from the Rocky Patel stable, following the Super Ligero line. This cigar features a San Andrés wrapper, a double binder of Brazilian and Mexican leaf, and Nicaraguan fillers. It’s rumored that Hamlet never touched anything but Cuban tobacco before working with Rocky, but he really came up with a great cigar. It’s got a bit of kick to it, a pleasing mix of sweet and savory, and provided a satisfying smoking experience  from start to finish. All I can say is “yum”. I liked the Tabaquero a lot.


BG Meyer_Gigantes_56x6Yesterday after enjoying a Leccia Luchador El Hombre (one of my favorite cigars) at Delaware Park while watching the horses (we came out ahead!), I came home to enjoy a BG Meyer Gigantes 56×6 on the porch. It was a beautiful day, watched the ponies with our grand-daughters, saw the Budweiser Clydesdales, managed to get some things done around the house, and kicked back with this cigar. I would have sworn this was a 6×60, it had a large feel to it, but maybe just the name “Gigantes” influenced my judgement. This one was 6″ x 56, with a Habano wrapper, Brazilian binder and Nicaraguan and Dominican filers. As seems to be the case with Davidoff’s Honduran brands, it’s hard to find a website with all the info. I did find some info on the Davidoff of Geneva retail page, and was surprised to see typos in the product description.  I can’t understand why they don’t have BGMeyerCigars.com, or something, and have the same gripe when I go looking for Room 101 info (and probably Cusano if I looked, which I haven’t). Anyway, the cigar is good. It’s got some pepper, some coffee/cocoa and sweetness, very much in my wheelhouse. I dug it.


There’s probably something I’m forgetting, but I’ll wrap this up now. I have an article to write for Prime Living Magazine that I have to smoke some great cigars for, so I better get busy with that!  Until the next time,






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