Tag Archives: Firecracker

IPCPR Prep and a Few Cigars Leftover From Last Year

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


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


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


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


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






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An Enclave and Cigars on a Friend’s Deck in February: Kristoff and La Flor Dominicana

AJF_Enclave_ToroThe weather has been unseasonably warm here in SE PA, 70s in February? I love not having to bundle up for my evening walks, or thaw my fingers with the propane heaters when I get home.  I can’t help to think we are going to pay for what has been a mild winter with little snow in March, but I’ve enjoyed this great weather! Any way you look at it, Spring is on its way, and that’s a great thing. So Friday evening’s cigar was an AJ Fernandez Enclave Toro, a 6″ x 52 covered foot beauty (the covered foot was this weeks trend as it turns out). I’ve been abusing myself lately, last week  I tripped and fell, and Friday I burned the crap out of my mouth biting into a pizza roll. Pizza Rolls, when microwaved according to the directions, attains internal temperatures approaching that of the sun. Not exactly a high-brow menu choice, granted, but a guilty pleasure that just needs to be handled a little more carefully. So, I didn’t want to smoke something unfamiliar and miss something with a compromised palate ( not that my palate is anything to write home about).  The Enclave is a familiar cigar, known to have excellent flavor, burn and be strong enough to taste, but not so strong as to do further damage. Did I know this came in a broadleaf wrapper too?  One more cigar for my shopping list, I suppose, because the Habano wrapped version is a great smoke, an easy choice for a “go-to” list.


Kristoff CTSaturday I decided I wanted to get out for a smoke, so I dropped my amigo Mike a note and he invited me over to have cigars on his deck. He told me the cigars would be on him, which is weird for me because I’m accustomed to being the one to provide the smokes. Mike only lives a few miles away, and we met when he won one of the presents in a 12 Days of Spectacular Giveaways a couple of years ago and got together at a local shop. We’ve become good friends since.  So I selected a cigar from Mike that I hadn’t had before, a Kristoff Connecticut Robusto. Kristoff is a brand that I hear about all the time, but I haven’t smoked a great many of their offerings. I don’t know why that is really, they look great, I love the Epic line of cigars that is made in the same factory as the Kristoff, and they have a huge portfolio of cigars with yummy sounding names, like San Andrés and Cameroon and Habano. Also, a lot of them have a pigtail cap and a closed foot, both features I like. It doesn’t get much better than sitting outside on an unexpectedly warm, sunny day enjoying a great cigar with a friend.  This Connecticut was a medium bodied smoke with nice flavors, not really heavy on the typical grassy Connecticut shade flavor, but a nice, mellow smoke. As the wind kicked up a bit with a front coming in, the burn stayed even and this was a very satisfying cigar.


LFD FirecrackerMike generously offered me a La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Firecracker, from 2 Guy’s Smoke Shop‘s Firecracker series. Last fall I had the opportunity to smoke the Cro-Magnon version in this series, with was quite awesome (read about it here, ironically, I also featured the Cigar Prop in the same post, and look forward to hearing Kevin talk about that on Kiss My Ash Radio that aired yesterday). The Firecracker is a 3¼” x 50 with a long tail that makes it resemble an M80 firecracker, and the blends are generally on the stronger side to go along with the theme. 2 Guy’s usually has these in time for the 4th Of July, and this year’s iteration is made by Fratello Cigars. I think Mike was willing to part with this cigar because he was a little intimidated by it, having heard that it was unbearably strong. This one also had a covered foot, making it the third cigar in a row for me with that particular feature. The cigar started off with a burst of strength, and some extra flavor from the wrapper. I kinda feel bad for smoking this cigar, because while it was strong, I don’t think it was too strong that Mike wouldn’t have enjoyed it. I do greatly appreciate the chance to smoke this great little cigar, which timed out perfectly as a front rolled in dropping the temperatures and bring a thunderstorm. Again, thanks to Mike for his generosity and hospitality (don’t forget to check out Mike and his daughter’s site, WineadorArt.com, to customize the glass on your humidor, cabinet or wineador. I’m thinking of commissioning a piece for my cabinet…).


I guess I’m going to have to reach out to John Budka, the winner of last week’s contest, as I haven’t heard from him yet and want to get the goodies mailed out. That’s all for today, 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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