Tag Archives: Famous

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,





Filed under IPCPR, Review, Video

Avo Syncro, RoMaCraft Cigars at SMoKE Manayunk and a Tatuaje

Avo_SyncroNicaraguan_RobustoThere are so many cigars out there, it’s really hard to smoke them all, yet I keep trying!  I’ve smoked the Avo Syncro Nicaraguan in the Short Robusto and Toro size and, like many Avo cigars, I found them enjoyable, but isn’t really get what the hype was. Perfectly good cigars, but nothing particularly special to me (I really liked the XO though). A couple of weeks ago my friends at Famous Smoke Shop send me some of the Avo Syncro Nicaraguan and I was excited as I really want to like these and appreciate the opportunity to try them in another size. The robusto is a box pressed 5″x 50, with a milk chocolate-brown wrapper, which is actually Ecuador Connecticut,  and it has some Nicaraguan Ometepe, Dominican and Peruvian fillers. It’s a solid smoke, medium bodied with some balanced and interesting flavors. So far, this might be my favorite in the bunch, it’s got a little sweet, and a little spice, quite entertaining. I may try to sneak another one of these in today, the Short Robusto might fit my walk today from the Philadelphia Art Museum to the Kimmel Center for the Philly Pops concert. Thanks, once again, to Cory at Famous Smoke Shop for sharing the Avo Syncro Robusto with me.


Friday evening we went down to SMoKE Manayunk to visit with Skip and Mike of RoMaCraft Tobac as they have been on a tour of Philadelphia cheesesteak purveyors and have been taking breaks to have cigar events. First, a little about SMoKE and Manayunk. Manayunk is a very hip main street area in Philadelphia, with loads of bars and restaurants, so there were a ton of younger 20-SMoKE Manayunksomething folks around, and it was pretty impressive how many came in to hang out and smoke cigars. SMoKE is BYOB, so many people brought in their own beer, wine or liquor and they have refrigerators behind the bar. Kosta is the owner, and has a very good staff headed up by Spencer McGuire, who recently left his post as brand manager of Emilio Cigars.  The staff is attentive, constantly emptying ashtrays and seeing to the customer’s needs, as well as helping people in the large and well stocked humidor. The lounge is 3000 square feet, has a very industrial, distressed feel to the decor, and is welcoming and comfortable. The only downside is the parking. I found out the hard way that on street parking can cost $26 if you exceed the 1 hour limit, which I guess I was supposed to know without signing close by (oddly, the “Parking Enforcement” vehicle was parked a car ahead of me and was there longer than I was…I hate double standards!). So the $10 lot nearby would have been a better deal it turns out. It was starting to get crowded when we left, which is pretty cool for a cigar lounge.


FomarianSo I perused the selection of RoMaCraft cigars they had, and settled on a couple of the Candela Fomorians (I spelled that wrong elswhere), a Neanderthal  Shallow Gene Pool, and a couple of CroMagnon Atlatl lanceros, since I like lanceros and Kosta has probably the best selection of that vitola in the area, so when in Rome…anyway, I lit up a Fomorian (along with Mike and Skip) and proceeded to hang out. I’ve known these guys since 2011, which is about when they launched the CroMagnon line, and they make some outstanding cigars. The Fomorian is the CroMagnon blend of Cameroon binder and Nicaraguan fillers, with the Broadleaf wrapper replaced with a fragile Candela wrapper in the 5″ x 56 EMH size.  The combination is really quite amazing, there’s the sweetness of the Cameroon, the depth of the Nicaraguan, with that refreshing flavor of the Candela. Along with the long ago discontinued Camacho Candela, this is the best representation of a Candela cigar I’ve had the SGPpleasure of tasting. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed a few, but this one has some giddyup to it, great cigar.  I followed that with a little Neanderthal Shallow Gene Pool, the smaller (4½ x 52) sibling of the Neanderthal HN, which I absolutely loved. This cigar has a San Andrés wrapper and a Pennsylvania Double Ligero, which is unusually high in nicotine. You wouldn’t know it, the cigar is very smooth with a great flavor.  If these weren’t in the $11+ range, I would smoke these all the time, so good. Interesting to note, lots of nicotine before bedtime makes for a restless night with crazy dreams, at least that was my experience. It could be that, as Skip pointed out, I’m the oldest young guy he knows, which I took as a compliment since I’m pretty old…anyway, it was a great night, smoking great cigars and hanging out at a great place with great folks.


Tatuaje_Reserva_J21Yesterday was a beautiful spring day, and after getting some things done around the yard, I relaxed on the porch with a Tatuaje Reserva J21. These are made in Miami with a Habano Ecuador wrapper and Nicaraguan binder and filer. This is a 5″ x 50 robusto and is quite an attractive cigar, listed as a full strength offering. This was exactly what I needed after working in the yard and running errands. It started out with some spice and moved to espresso, which we all know I like. It was refined and elegant, and I really liked it. I smoke fewer Tatuajes than I really should, because whenever I smoke one it’s a treat. For some reason, in my mind, it’s a cigar that’s special, in much the same way an Opus or Padron Anniversary is. I don’t why I feel that way, but it’s in my head for some reason, and I don’t end up picking them up as often as I should. I’ll work on changing that.


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





Filed under Review, Stores

An Avo XO, Some Sobremesa Cigars at Famous and a My Father Connecticut

Avo_XO_LegatoI smoke a lot of different cigar across a wide spectrum, I try not to discriminate based on size, country of origin or manufacturer. So in the latter part of the week I found myself leaning toward the milder end of the spectrum for some reason. Maybe it;s the onset of Spring, I don’t know. Anyway, I started off with an Avo XO Legato, the toro in the line. It was Avo Uvesian’s  90th birthday this past week, so I thought it would be appropriate. This cigar came in a sampler from Davidoff from last year’s IPCPR show, which included some other Avo cigars, some Camacho, Room 101 and BG Meyer cigars.  The Avo XO Legato is 6″ x 54 with an Ecuador Connecticut wrapper. The rest of the cigar is Dominican, and it was a nice, creamy cigar with a bit of sweetness. I’ve not been a huge fan of a lot of the Avo lines, but this was a really nice, well-balanced and enjoyable smoke. I see some more Avo sampling in my future.


Sobremesa RobustoLargoFriday evening my wife and I took a trip up to Famous Smoke Shop‘s Leaf Cigar Bar in Easton, PA.  It was about an hour and a half drive, but Steve and Cindy Saka were in town visiting, and we wanted to stop in and say hello. I purchased some of Steve’s Sobremesa Robusto Largo and El Americano cigars as I hadn’t yet sampled the Robusto Largo size yet. Over the course of the evening I smoked said Robusto Largo and a Cervantes Fino generously gifted by Cindy, and thoroughly enjoyed them both, as well as the Sobremesa CervantesFinocompany. Both of the cigars were superb, with the Robusto Largo (5¼ x 52) having rounder, smoother flavors, much like the El Americano toro, and the Cervantes Fino (6¼ x 46) having a little sharper edge.  The Leaf bar and restaurant was hopping, with excellent service. The place is in the same building as Famous Smoke Shop’s enormous warehouse (which I’ve been promised a tour of one day), and it’s located outside of Easton in an industrial park, it’s an odd location for a retail store and lounge, but it still draws a crowd. It was noisy, which taxes my ability to hear conversation, but we had a great time catching up with Steve and Cindy. Later this year it will have been twenty years since the first time I talked to Steve on the phone, back when he was holding the Monthly Officious Taste Test on the alt.smokers.cigars Usenet group, of which I was a part.


Yesterday I relaxed on the porch after a busy day with a cigar that has a special meaning to me, at least over the last year. I selected a My Father Connecticut robusto. From the website (which has music that plays automatically, which I really don’t like):

My Father Connecticut is going to be an extension of the already existing line My Father and My Father Le Bijou; the cigar is blended by Jose “Pepin” Garcia and his son Jaime Garcia at the My Father Cigar Factory in Nicaragua : It features an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, Nicaragua Corojo 99 Binder and Nicaragua Habano-Criollo filler, all the tobacco coming out of the Garcia’s farms with the exception of the wrapper which comes from Ecuador.

MyFather_Connecticut_RobustoThis is one of my favorite Connecticut wrapped cigars, not that the list of favorites is really short. There are a bunch that I enjoy, but this one is one I purchase and enjoy having in my humidor.  As a matter of fact, there’s a My Father event this week at one of my local shops that I might stop in on and pick up a few more.  It’s creamy, but flavorful and satisfying. I should make a note to buy some larger sizes, as this robusto was nice, but was over too soon. The band and overall presentation is really classy too.


That’s all I got, off to making a big breakfast for the family and eventually getting some nice cigars in this afternoon. Until the next time,





Filed under Review, Stores

Famous Smoke Shop’s Cigarnival 2013

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending Famous Smoke Shop‘s Cigarnival in Easton, PA. About an hour and a half drive from home.  I have visited this location before and the store and restaurant there are quite nice and the building that houses the entire operation is massive.  They have plenty of space outside to erect a huge main tent, two large tents and several small tents.  This was quite an enormous undertaking.   Apparently the way it worked was that attendees chose from several levels of packages which determined when they were to arrive.  This resulted in two waves of attendees. The venders were arranged in the two smaller tents and attendees lined up to go through and meet the reps and manufacturers and collect their cigars.  After the first wave lunch was served and after the second wave there was dinner, followed by raffle drawings.  Throughout the day there were interviews by Tommy Z with all of the cigar makers, and there were specials in the store all day long, as well as various deals, t-shirts, etc. in some of the small tents.  Saturday at the peak I think there were probably 1500 people in attendance.  In addition to the live music and interviews, Drew Estate sponsored a casino in the rear of the main tent, and there were four VIP rooms at the back of the tent, each sponsored by a company and each having a bar and comfy seating. There was quite a lengthy portion of the event in the evening which involved drawing raffle tickets and giving away prizes.  There was an amazing array of prizes from boxes of cigars to iPads, TVs and Playstations.  It was quite an event and well run. There were some water fights among cigar manufacturers and I’m pretty sure I saw Rocky Patel cheating in the Casino :-), as well as other craziness. The shindig was planned to go until midnight, but I split about 8 to get home at a reasonable hour (I’m old, I can’t hang). I haven’t been to an event like this before, and I’m not sure it’s really my personal cup of tea, but I’m certainly not your typical consumer and I’m no fan of crowds. However  I enjoyed this event and it was great seeing many friends, and meeting some new ones. 


One of the highlights for me was meeting Storm Boen, who started the C.A.T.S. (Cigar Aficionados Trades and Sales) Group on Facebook, and  was instrumental in creating Operation: Cigars for Warriors, a group of folks who send cigars to the troops.  I had a chance to talk with Storm in a conference room away from the craziness of the event, and captured it on video.


Some of Storm’s claims about me are surely exaggerated and I firmly believe that he’s mistaken me for someone else. 🙂 I have a great deal of respect for everything Storm does and encourage everyone to give him a hand if you are able.  Storm was one of the people I had wanted to meet and his being there helped me decide to attend the event in the first place.

Here are some more photos from the event.  Thank you to Jonathan, Travis, Tommy, Gary, Arthur and the staff of Famous for their hard work and hospitality.  This was a very well run event.  Keep an eye out for other coverage of the event on CigarAdvisor.com, StogieReview.com, ACigarSmoker.com and CigarNews.com.  I smoked a few cigars at the event, a cigar I’m not allowed to talk about from Ricky Rodriquez at CAO, which was awesome, one of my own Cigar Safari blends which is coming along nicely, and an Undercrown Corona Viva, which is becoming a favorite. I’m looking forward to trying the newly released La Gloria Cubana Gilded Age which is a Famous Smoke Shop exclusive.

Eddie Ortega (and Peter from ACigarsmoker.com)

Ricky Rodriguez

Jack and Charlie Toraño

Matt Booth, Tom Lazuka and Tim Person from Altadis involved in a water battle

Tim Person

Michael Giannini launched a Famous Smoke Exclusive La Gloria Cubana, The Gilded Age.


Oliver Hyams (Gurkha) and Jack Toraño (Toraño). Who can tell me the connection between these two gentlemen?

Jonathan Drew and Tommy Z-Man


That’s it for now!  Until the next time,






Filed under Events, Review, Video

My Father’s Day Esperanza para los Niños, a Trilogy of Cigar Stores and Some News!

esperanza_churchillWhen we left off I was enjoying Father’s Day with my kids and granddaughter.  After they went home I lit up the Esperanza para los Niños Churchill. This was my last Churchill, from a handful generously gifted to me by a friend who won a box in the mid ‘00s. A few of these examples had an odd burn problem around the three quarter mark, and a hint of ammonia, which was odd for a 10 (at the time) year old cigar. This one was perhaps the best example I’ve smoked in a long time.  It was rich and delicious and satisfying. This cigar was made Christian Eiroa at Rancho Jamastran in Honduras in 1999 to benefit the children that were orphaned by hurricane Mitch in 1998.  Do you know that he had trouble giving the proceeds of the sales to orphanages because the money came from tobacco?  Unbelievable. Anyway, he finally was able to put the funds to good use and get it through peoples heads that the kids needed food and clothes, not some moral judgements. Anyway, the good news is that where I thought I was left with two Esperanzas after this one, I actually have three!  There was another torpedo in the humidor that I didn’t know about! So for the next two Father’s Days I’ll smoke torpedos, then in 2016 I’ll smoke the toro from the box I purchased in 2000.


Monday rolled around and my daughter gave birth to our second granddaughter, another beautiful little girl who they named Calla Violet.  My wife and I kept our two year old granddaughter, Willow, overnight and know why we finished having kids when we were thirty!  I’m only speaking for myself, but I’m now too old to keep up with a two year old for very long!  Pop’s celebratory cigar would have to wait. Tuesday after visiting mom and baby in the afternoon, I managed to light up a Drew Estate Liga Privada Dirty Rat from 2009, before they released them commercially, which was dynamite.  Age may not really improve this cigar, but it didn’t hurt it too much, it was a tasty smoke.


While we were coming home from the hospital we noticed an odd shop in one of the strip malls along Germantown Pike in East Norriton, PA.  Then we passed the Black Cat Cigar Shop, then we saw SmoKings, all within about a one mile stretch.  Tuesday, after visiting momma and baby and surrendering granddaughter no.1 to her daddy, we stopped at these three shops.  The first was called Hillcrest Tobacco and Dollar Store, an unlikely combination!  Of course, we had to visit. This store was kind of a mess.  The majority of the store was typical Dollar Store junk, with various cabinet humidors lining one wall.  Saying that the stock could have been merchandised better is understating, but they did have a fairly large selection that was well priced and in good shape. This would be a fine place to grab a few sticks.  I picked up a pair of the new H. BlackCatUpmann Legacy robustos for $4.99.  Next we stopped at Black Cat, which is a very nice place. I last visited this store when it was in Philadelphia on Sansom Street in a little place that was packed solid with cigars and stuff.  This stand-alone store had a very nice lounge area and a large walk-in humidor. The selection was very good with a generous selection of boutiques.  I hate to admit it, but I walked out of there with an Asylum 13 Ogre, just because I figured I had to smoke one eventually and I couldn’t make myself purchase the 6 x 80 (even though it was cheaper!).  This is a nice place to stop in, buy some cigars and sit and enjoy one or two. Note: H. Upmann Legacy Robustos – $6.60. The last place we happened to notice right after Black Cat was SmoKingsSmoKings, located within 25 feet of a Starbucks, oddly enough! This is another little smokeshop with cabinets down one wall, reasonably neatly merchandised, although my CDO (that’s OCD in alphabetical order as it should be) would have me either alphabetize it or group it by manufacturer or something that made sense.  I did find some Cain F tubed lanceros for $6 and change that are awesome and scarce.  The young man at the counter was enthusiastic and beginning to sample cigars.  I cautioned him on the Cain F. Another nice place to stop to pick some sticks up. They actually had a SmoKings branded cigar that looked like it was either wrapped in a leaf instead of cello, or had the world’s ugliest wrapper. It was priced at $7.99 and the clerk didn’t know anything about it, so I passed. My wallet has moths flying out of it by this third stop on the Germantown Pike impromptu cigar crawl. H.Upmann Legacy Robusto – $5.75.  It was my first real foray up that particular road in Montgomery County, PA and I was surprised to find three shops with properly kept cigars in a one mile stretch, and of course I had to stop at them all and buy cigars, as if I needed more…


As you can tell, it’s been an exciting week!  I’ll leave you with this press release about the upcoming Cigarnival Event hosted by Famous Smoke Shop up the road from me in Easton, PA.


Famous Smoke Shop Hosts Cigarnival 2013 – The Nation’s Premier Cigar Event

Famous Smoke Shop is hosting their annual cigar festival, featuring leader cigar makers meeting with guests and distributing a wide variety of their premium cigars. Attendees will also enjoy gourmet food, live music, craft beer, wine, spirits, raffles, and a casino with prizes sponsored by Drew Estate.


Easton, pa – June 19, 2013 – Smoking premium cigars has become more popular than ever. It’s also one of ways men (and women) of all stripes can bond and share their affinity for, as cigar smokers call it, “the leaf.” For this reason alone, the Cigar Expo “Cigarnival,” held annually at Leaf Cigar Bar & Restaurant on the premises of Famous Smoke Shop in Easton, PA, is one of the most highly-anticipated cigar smoking events of the year for cigar smokers near and far. This year’s event will begin Friday, June 28th at 12:00 PM with a pre-vent party sponsored by Gurkha Cigars, and continue through Saturday, June 29th.


Most of the biggest names in the cigar industry will be represented including Alec Bradley, Altadis U.S.A., Arturo Fuente, Davidoff, Drew Estate, General Cigar, Oliva, Perdomo, Rocky Patel, Tatuaje, Carlos Toraño, Xikar, and over 25 more vendors. Cigarnival guests will get to meet their makers up-close and personal while rubbing elbows with 400 other cigar enthusiasts. Shuttle service will also be provided to take guests to and from their hotels to the event.


“This year’s theme is music,” said Leaf COO, Jeff Brown. “Performances by a variety of bands will run continuously throughout the day and night. Plus, our award-winning restaurant staff will be preparing gourmet dinners for each night, including a grandiose lunch buffet for Saturday afternoon. People can see the entire menu on the Cigarnival website.”


Guests will also have a wide choice of libations which include a number of craft brews from Founders, Troegs, Goose-Island, Yuengling, and others, as well as plenty of water and soft drinks. Additionally, Miami Cigar & Co. will be sponsoring the “Hooch Hut” where guests can sample a special selection of wines, spirits, and more.


Friday morning, registered guests will play in the 6th Annual Camacho Golf Outing at Whitetail Golf Club in Bath, PA. Golf carts, drinks, a buffet, and Camacho cigars are all included. Prizes for closest to the pin and the longest drive will be awarded, and anyone scoring a hole-in-one will win a trip for two to Camp Camacho in Honduras.


Friday night, Alec Bradley Cigars will host the after party, while Saturday night Perdomo Cigars will close the show with a 20th Anniversary party. Also returning to the main event will be The Drew Estate Casino. Depending on the number of chips they’ve accumulated, players can claim any number of prizes from Drew Estate swag to cigars, including a year’s worth of cigars, or Drew Estate’s Cigar Safari in Nicaragua. Thousands of dollars in raffle prizes will be also given away, plus deals on just about every brand in The Humidor at Leaf Retail Store, and much, much more. For a complete listing of event festivities, visit http://www.cigarnival.com/festivities.cfm.


“We’ve been putting on this event for a while now, and I always look forward to the thank you emails we get every year from so many of our attendees,” said Brown. “For some reason, I have a good feeling that this year my inbox is going to be overflowing.”


For more information call 610-559-8800 or visit www.cigarnival.com



Friday, June 28 & Saturday June 29, 2013

Leaf Cigar Bar & Restaurant at Famous Smoke Shop

90 Mort Drive, Easton, PA 18040

Information: 610-559-8800



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


CigarCraig (or “Pop” in some circles!)



Filed under Editorial, News, Review, Stores