Tag Archives: fuente

Cigar Jukebox, Fuente Hemingway, Tortuga and Debonaire

CigarJukeboxDo you want to hear me make a fool of myself on an international podcast?  Sure you do!  Head over to Cigar Jukebox and give the episode where I was guest DJ a listen.  I talked about recording the episode a couple of weeks ago, but failed to post the link when it dropped (as they say in the business). I guess it isn’t all that bad, the cigars were great, I have a soft spot for Candela and the Swamp Thang and Cromagnon Formorian are excellent smokes. It really was hard picking songs though, but it was fun, and it was nice talking to Dave. Give a listen and feel free to critique in the comments. What songs would you pair with those two cigars?


Fuente_HemingwayClassic_MaduroI had a bit of a throwback Thursday thing going on Thursday, I reached for a classic, a Fuente Hemingway Classic, to be exact. There are a few classic cigars I like to always have on hand, and I’m fortunate to have a selection of Fuente Hemingways around.  They aren’t all that expensive, all things considered, and they can always be counted upon to be excellent cigars. The regular Hemingway line has a Cameroon wrapper and are all perfectos, ranging from the little Short Story to the ginormous (in 1990s terms, not so much today) 9” x 52 Masterpiece.  The classic is just that, a classic, a 7”x48 perfecto that is smooth, creamy and nutty. I’m always amazed that these taste pretty much the same as I remember 20 years ago, which is why I’ll always have a box in the humidor of one size or another. Other cigars I consider classic that I make sure I have are the Padron 1964 and Ashton Virgin Sun Grown. Every now and then you see various Hemingway sizes available in Maduro (Broadleaf) and Sungrown (Ecuador).


TortugaCedroBeliI wrapped Friday up with a Tortuga Cedros Belicoso from Victor Vitale, who I haven’t heard from in a while. We’re thinking about taking a little trip up to New Hampshire, maybe we’ll run into him. I need to start thinking about hunting some more of these down, as I really enjoy them. They are a Nicaraguan puro rolled in Honduras and suit me just fine. The Belicoso is 6″x 54 and the Cedro series is round as opposed to the Reserva series that’s box pressed. I don’t really have a favorite in the line, I like them all and need to resupply soon.


Debonaire_Maduro_BelicosoYesterday, before a nasty cold came on seemingly out of nowhere, I took a walk and lamented the fact that it was the last day of Daylight Savings Time. I really wish they’d knock this crap off and leave it at DST.  With me on my walk was Macha, of course, and a Debonaire Maduro Belicoso. I guess I was on a figurado kick the later part of the week. Actually, five of the last six cigars I’ve smoked fall into that category. I’m glad I got that cigar in before succumbing to the funk of a head-cold that quickly moved south. I can’t even conceive of smoking a cigar with the way my mouth tastes…I’m not a happy camper today.  Anyway, this belicoso is also 6″ x 54 and had a sweet Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper around Dominican and Nicaraguan binder and filler, made in the DR. What a treat this was, and I’m quite sure it didn’t give me this cold. This is a pricey line, but awfully tasty and smoked right.  Phil Zanghi is a dynamic guy, if you ever get a chance to meet him or listen to an interview don’t miss it.


I gotta get a cup of tea and crash on the couch, if I’m out of commission too long I’ll have to have a contest Wednesday or some other BS cheating post…I hate do have to do that! Enjoy your early darkness for the next few months!


Until the next time,
















Filed under Review

Davidoff of Geneva, Partagas and Arturo Fuente Cigars

Thursday I had the privilege of attending a media event at the Davidoff of Geneva Brookfield Place shop in New York City for a meet and greet with Davidoff’s Global CEO,  Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard. We were instantly greeted by the attentive staff as well as Laura Peet, whose company handles the media relations for Davidoff. The shop is gorgeous, of course, only being about a year old, and Davidoff of Geneva NYClocated in a mall in the financial district with views of One World Trade Center from the comfortable lounge. I spoke with Hans-Kristian for a bit, but was unable to pry any secrets out of him. I asked about future Davidoff Lounge locations in the US and he was tight-lipped. When he spoke to the assembled crowd he said that they had just opened their 78th lounge, with seven of those in the US. The cigar of the evening was the incredible Chef’s Edition, which is a 6″ x 54 toro with a Habano 2000 wrapper, Ecuador Connecticut binder and a filler blend of San Vicente Mejorado Seco, San Vicente Mejorado Viso, Piloto Viso, and San Vicente Viso.  This cigar is a  collaboration between Davidoff of Geneva’s master blenders and six of the world’s most renowned chefs,  Peter Knogl, Cheval Blanc of Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois (Basel, Switzerland),  Renato Wüst of Bad Ragaz Grand Resort (Switzerland),  Ali Güngörmüs, of Le Canard HH Pageou (Münich, Germany),  Léa Linster of Restaurant Léa Linster (Frisange,Luxembourg),  Michel Trama of Relais & Chateau (Puymirol, France) and  Maria Marte of Club Allard (Madrid, Spain),with  nine Michelin stars among them. Amazingly, only four of the six chefs are cigar smokers. Here’s what Davidoff has to say about the cigar:

The Davidoff Chefs Edition is Davidoff’s version of a culinary masterpiece. Just like the perfect meal, it begins gently with complex layers of subtle flavors and builds up to a sublime and unforgettable crescendo. The wrapper is oily and smooth and everything about it, from its flawless composition to its elegant color, whets the appetite for the cigar’s initial aromas, both nutty and sweet. The flavors become richer and more uplifting in the second third, with hints of citrus, bloomy fruit, sweet corn and a refined aftertaste that is both oily and creamy. In the last third, the cigar’s beauty and vitality erupt into an intense, peppery yet meltingly sweet and gratifying Grand Finale, just as a gastronomic experience is crowned by a superb dessert.

Davidoff_Chefs EditionI smoked the cigar at the event and it was spectacular, and they had a spread of chocolates and hors d’oeuvres there that did compliment the cigar nicely. Some of the chocolate treats were amazing on their own. I missed the corn component in the cigar, granted a cigar event isn’t exactly best place to pick up subtleties, but I was talking with Greg Mattola of Cigar Aficionado who explained to me that to him it was more of a corn flavor one would get in a bourbon, something I have no frame of reference for. They were also sampling some Camus Cognacs, which I passed on, but they also had some very good coffee on hand. I am looking forward to smoking the Chef’s Edition again when I can really sit down and concentrate on it. Hans-Kristian did say that the next limited edition Chef’s Edition would feature input from American and Asian chefs. Davidoff has some very interesting thematic cigar lines. Rudy and his staff at the lounge were very attentive and this is a must visit if you find yourself in lower Manhattan. Prices were high, but it is New York, and it is Davidoff. It was a quick trip to the city for my wife and I, but we met a bunch of great folks including Ted Hoyt from Smoke Magazine and John Nubian of YRB Magazine,  and had a very nice time. My wife even enjoyed a Davidoff 2000 while there.



I could probably stop here and nobody would complain, but I did have a couple of cigars yesterday worth noting.  Yesterday I watched the second period of the Flyers game on the back porch with the new Partagas Heritage Rothschild, a 4½ x 50 cigar with the rosado colored OSA wrapper from Honduras, a Connecticut Broadleaf binder and a filler blend of Honduran Jamastran, Dominican Piloto Cubano and Mexican San Andres. This is is a cigar that is going to age well, not that it isn’t ready to go now. It has a spicy, tannin flavor that really wakes up the palate. The burn and draw are excellent, and the rounded head, a signature of cigars made by General Cigar, allows for pinpoint control of the cut, allowing a punch-like cut with a guillotine or scissors. I liked it, it was different from every other Partagas cigar I’ve had. The band could be better, a simple, red band with Partagas Heritage on it, from a distance it might look like the Partagas Serie D No.4 Habano, which is probably the point. Recommended, along with the Partagas Ramon y Ramon.


Fuente_HemingwayClassic_MaduroLast night I grabbed a lonely Arturo Fuente Hemingway Classic Maduro from the humidor. I was going to smoke a regular old Hemingway Classic Cameroon, but this Maduro had a couple of cracks that were concerning, so it had to go. I got a few of these on a visit to Holt’s in Philly last fall some time, and it traveled home with me on the train in a baggie and might have gotten dinged up a little. To the Fuente’s credit, these cracks, the most concerning of which ran from the band to the cap, caused absolutely no problems. I feared and explosion, and the only explosion I got was that great Hemingway flavor with the sweet broadleaf wrapper on top of it. It’s amazing that a cigar can taste the same year after year, which is why I feel compelled to pick up a few Hemingway maduros when I see them at Holt’s, which seems to be every time, and for the $6 or 7 that they cost it’s a no-brainer.  What put the Fuente bug in me yesterday was reading about the theft of a 40′ container of Fuente cigars, which really takes some planning, I would think, how does a whole container get stolen? Fuente’s are going to be in short supply for a while, I think, but the company has faced adversity before, and will overcome.


That’s enough out of me for today. Looking forward to another nice spring day, so we’ll see what gets smoked today!  Don’t forget you can follow @cigarcraig on Instagram and Twitter to see what I’m smoking, not that anyone should really care…Until the next time,





Filed under Events, Review, Stores

A Short Story, a Big Payback and a Couple Rocky Patel Fifty-Five Cigars

Fuente_ShortStory_MaduroFinally over the sinus thing for the most part, I trust my taste buds again, without question, and I know this because I smoked a Fuente Short Story maduro Thursday that was just a wonderful little cigar. I’ve had this in my humidor for a while, I figured since I just got some maduro Best Sellers, and I got off to a late start, this 4″ x 49 perfecto would be perfect. The Short Story has been around for as long as I can remember, which, in cigar terms, is a little over 20 years. It’s a cigar my wife would smoke when she enjoyed cigars. Back then it was just in the Cameroon wrapper, and is still a delicious cigar. The maduro has a broadleaf wrapper and has a little “dirtier” flavor to me, which I love. It’s rich, earthy and dark chocolaty. I have various Hemingways in my humidor, it seems I buy the maduros when I stop in Holt’s, they always seem to have them. It’s amazing how the Fuentes can make a cigar that tastes the same over the last  years! One odd note on the Short Story: while the rest of the Hemingway line has “Hemingway” on the boxes, the Short Story does not, yet it’s listed under that line on Fuente’s website.


BigPaybackFriday I was in the mood for a substantial cigar, so I went with a Room 101 Big Payback Hueso, the 6″ x 60 gordo in the line. I picked some of these up last summer when I was at Cigars International’s downtown Bethlehem store when Matt Booth was hanging out there. Ironically, I was listening to Matt on Kiss My Ash Radio while enjoying this cigar. I was a little bit behind, so the episode was two weeks old. Any time Matt appears on any show it’s a treat, full of surprises, he’s a hoot. Unfortunately, Matt is leaving the cigar industry and Davidoff is reportedly selling of the cigar under the Room 101 brand. the Big Payback line is/was a budget friendly line, a Nicaraguan Puro rolled in Honduras. I really like these cigars, in both the Nicaraguan wrapper and the Ecuador Connecticut wrapper, it’s a solid cigar that I find very appealing. I just got a box (10) of the Uncle Lee, I suppose I need to put some more of the Big Paybacks on the shopping list before they are gone for good. It’s a great cigar for a little over $6.


Yesterday my wife and daughter wanted to do some shopping at the King of Prussia Mall, one of the largest malls in the country and only fifteen minutes down the road.  One of my favorite things about shopping with my wife is that I can let her shop while I go to International Tobacco and sit and have a cigar. It usually ends up being a very costly cigar, but that’s OK.  Yesterday the selection was RP 55 Coronakinda slim, and the humidor tends to the classic side, without a lot of boutiques, they do have Davidoff, Padron, and many of the usual suspects. They have a coffee bar with soft drinks and are generally quite hospitable and friendly. I usually look for something I haven’t had, of course, so I picked up a couple of the Rocky Patel Fifty-Five, a “Corona” (4″ x 55) and a Toro for later. Since the Fifty-Five is inexplicably not listed on the website, I linked to Famous Smoke Shop’s listing for this, and would like to direct you to the new ad in the right sidebar. If you make a habit of shopping at Famous, click through the ad and maybe I’ll make a little dough on the side to support my “research”. They also offer a discount code, so we both win. Anyway, I lit up the pudgy little perfecto and was intrigued with the flavor. They say this cigar has Nicaraguan fillers and wrapper, and a Costa Rican binder, which you don’t see every day. RP 55 Corona-damageI got a mintyness throughout the smoke that was different and enjoyable. Unfortunately, there was a bit of chip at the cap of the cigar that I didn’t notice which resulted in the wrapper coming off completely with about an inch and a half left. I probably could have gotten a replacement if I had let the shopkeeper cut it for me, but I’m a DIY kinda guy and carry my own tools, so I didn’t press the issue. I haven’t had this kind of thing happen in a very long time, and I don’t expect it from a $9+ cigar. (As I write this, I think of the last time I wrote this and it was about another RP cigar….bad luck, I guess). Verdict: loved the flavor, hated the fact that the wrapper came off and I had to mess with it at all.


RockyPatel_Fifty-five_ToroSo intrigued by the flavor of the little 4″ x 55 “Corona” was I  that I look my evening walk with the Toro version of the Rocky Patel Fifty-Five. I suppose I should get one of these for my own 55th birthday in a year and a half, these were made to celebrate Rocky’s 55th birthday. As 55 is an unusual ring gauge for a cigar, I suspect a lot went into making these with special molds and all. The Rocky Patel Fifty-Five Toro is 6 ½” x 55, and has the same make-up as the little guy, both cigars have a bit of a taper at each end, which in my mind puts them into the perfecto category. I gave the Toro a much closer inspection, I certainly didn’t want to repeat the experience I had earlier in the day. I was pleased to find no flaws in this cigar, although the draw was a little on the restricted side until it got going. I found the same mintyness, with an occasional minty-cinnamonyness here and there. It was very intriguing to me, it’s so rare that I encounter an unusual flavor in a cigar any more.  While I wasn’t thrilled dropping north of $11 on a cigar, this one really didn’t bother me, I found it so interesting and special. I also don’t mind spending a few bucks in a local shop that provides the service of “husband day-care” while the better half shops, if people don’t spend money there it won’t be around!


In some news, I received an e-mail from Gaby Kafie of Kafie 1901 Cigars announcing that they are opening, or have opened, their own factory,  “Tabacalera G. Kafie y Cia”,  in Danli, Honduras. They were previously working with the Reyes family’s factory, having their cigars made along side such classics as Puros Indios and Cuba Aliados. Last year, Dr. Kafie introduced the Kafie 1901 Coffee with proceeds going to Cigar Rights of America.  Best of luck to Dr. Kafie and his family, I know he has a strong passion and hope he has few obstacles to success. Also of note is General Cigar Company‘s announcement that they will be adding Temple Hall Estates to their Foundry division’s FTC Heritage Series. the original Temple Hall Factory opened in Jamaica in the ’40s, and the Connecticut shade wrapped cigar will pay homage to that factory. This line joins the re-imagined Bolivar and Ramon Allones brands in the Foundry line-up. Will Cooper has the full story here.


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










Filed under News, Review

Fourth of July Cigars, a La Flor Dominicana and a Caldwell

Monday was the Independence Day Holiday, and my wife and my 29th wedding anniversary. I know, Independence Day, getting married….it’s a bit ironic, but we figured at least we’d always have the day off, and Montecristo_No2there would always be something somewhere to do. over the last 15 or so years I have made a point to smoke a Havana cigar as a form of  celebration and of civil disobedience. I like to think the founding fathers would be pleased if they stopped rolling in their graves long enough to notice. Sometimes this works out great, other times it’s a disaster, and this time was somewhere in the middle. I’ve smoked some fantastic Montecristo No.2s over the last 20 years, and I’ve smoked some sucky ones. This one fell in the middle somewhere, as it was just a good cigar. I had been given this cigar last year, and I don’t know what the vintage was, so maybe I should have left it in the humidor for another four or five years. Most of the problem was with the draw, the flavor was good, although milder than I recall. It had the classic “twang” and a hint of citrus I expect from a Montecristo I could have dug a little further and found a Havana or two with sufficient age, but I was lazy, and the classic Monte 2 called out to me. After a great dinner out with my bride, I enjoyed the heck out of a Padron Anniversary Exclusivo Maduro that is the quintessential dessert cigar!


LaFlorDominincana_AirbenderMaduro_ChiselLater in the week I was moving humidors around and spied a La Flor Dominicana Air Bender Maduro Chisel. I assumed it was the maduro because I think by this point I know the difference, and the natural Air Bender is quite a bit lighter. This is a 6½” x 54 cigar with their patented (or is it trademarked, I’m not certain) Chisel shape, like a torpedo, but with a flattened head, not unlike a pipe mouthpiece. I’ve had success squeezing these to open them, but this time I tried a V-cut across the head. It looked pretty cool, but wasn’t giving me the draw I wanted, so I ended up lopping an eighth of an inch off to open it up a little. While the Air Bender isn’t quite as full-bodied as the Double Ligero line, it’s still a reasonable strong cigar, with rich flavor and a bit of a kick. La Flor Dominicana makes some awesome cigars, and this is one of them. They are almost always satisfying. the Air Bender uses a binder and fillers grown on their own farms in the Dominican Republic, and a very pretty, dark Habano wrapper. These are a treat every time I light one up.


Caldwell_TheKingisDead_DiamondGirlFriday I wrapped up another week with a cigar I had some trepidation about.  Las year I caught up with Robert Caldwell at a local shop and bought a handful of his cigars to try. I’ve enjoyed his Blind Man’s Bluff line, but I had so much trouble with the Long Live the King cigars that I was worried I’d have similar problems with The King is Dead. the Long Live the Kings I smoked had such construction problems that they just pissed me off, both because I hate it when a pricey cigar doesn’t work right, and I hate wasting my valuable smoking time fighting with a cigar. It’s just not relaxing for me to have a cigar that doesn’t work right. So I decided to try this the Caldwell King is Dead Diamond Girl, a 6 ½” x 42 pigtail cigar. The blend information provided on the website is exceptional, it’s listed as: Capa (that’s the wrapper): Negrito Dominicano – 2008, Banda (that would be the binder, sometimes called “capote”): Corojo Dominicano – 2006, Tripa (filler…think tripe, yuck): Corojo Ligero Dominicano 30% – 2006, Tripa: Negrito Viso Dominicano 20% – 2008 and Tripa: HVA 20/20 50% – 2010. I think Steve Saka is the only cigar maker who is more specific in his blend information. This cigar smoked great, with some wood and cocoa flavors and solidly medium bodied to me. I’m glad I finally smoked this one.


That’s it for now. As you can see, I still seem to be grabbing shaped cigars here and there, not sure what that’s all Hemingway Classic SGabout, but I like torpedos and perfectos.  Sunday I stopped by Holt’s in Center City Philadelphia and enjoyed a Fuente Hemingway Classic Sungrown, another pefecto. It was a fantastic cigar, and while I was there  I had the pleasure of meeting and smoking with former Phillies player and broadcaster Gary Matthews, who I saw play countless times in my youth. He was a super nice guy, and apparently a regular visitor to the store. I would have figured him for just a regular patron if he hadn’t been wearing his huge World Series ring, with was hard to miss. I guess I should have gotten a picture with him, but he was such a “regular guy” it didn’t occur to me. Anyway, until the next time,





Filed under Review

Psyko 7 Maduro, Fuente, CroMagnon, Gran Habano and Punch Cigars

Here we are on July 5th already. It seems like the summer is flying by and it’s barely started.  In two weeks I’ll be in New Orleans at the IPCPR show, doing my best to collect information about the newest and greatest products.  I don’t think I’ll do too many of the video interviews this time around, but I do have a little something special planned. We’ll see how that all turns out. I managed to smoke a few cigars this week, let’s have a look.


Ventura_Psyko7Maduro_RobustoI received some Ventura Cigar Co. Psyko 7 Maduro Robusto samples a couple of weeks ago, and was really looking forward to trying them out. I had first smoked the natural wrapper Psyko 7 back when I was a guest on The Cigar Authority show back in November of 2013 and was really quite impressed.  This is another impressive cigar, right up my alley.  It’s got a San Andrés wrapper, an Ecuador binder, and an interesting blend of fillers including ligero from Nicaragua and Pennsylvania, some Honduran and Dominican and Pelo de Oro from Peru!  How can I not like this cigar!  The samples I smoked burned perfectly and had great, complex flavors of espresso, cacao with a nice sweetness. I appreciate the extra half-inch on this 5½” x 50 robusto. This is right up there with the Fratello Bianco as one of my newbies of the year so far.  Very nice smoke.


Fuente_DoubleChateau_SungrownAfter I had some more dental work done Monday I celebrated after with an Arturo Fuente Double Chateau Sungrown.  Boy, is this a tasty cigar!  It’s 6¾” x 50 with a cedar sleeve (which I removed before lighting, of course) and a black foot band.  The standard Cheateau series is more common in the Connecticut Shade wrapper, and I’ve enjoyed my share of those over the years, but this Ecuador Sungrown wrapper is quite special. It was solidly medium, but it had loads of great savor flavors.  I would definitely say that in the Fuente line, save for the Hemingway, Don Carlos, Opus, etc, the sungrown wrapper is my choice.


RoMa_CroMagnon_Mode5When I visited Holt’s a couple weeks ago I picked up some of the CroMagnon Mode 5 perfectos from RoMaCraft as I’d yet to smoke that shape and have heard so many great things about it.  It’s not a huge cigar, 5″ x 50 in a perfecto format, tapering at either end, your old school, 40’s Warner Brothers cartoon shape. It was quite the fun cigar to smoke, and it was loaded with great, meaty flavors that really made me smile.  Burn was perfect, it was well-balanced and not the powerhouse one expects from the name.  I look forward to seeing Skip and Mike at the show this year, it’s been too long and they are really making great smokes.


GranHabano_Gran Corojo No5 Maduro 2011_GranRobustoThe folks at Gran Habano send a few samples a couple of weeks back, and the Gran Habano Corojo No.5 Maduro 2011 Gran Robusto caught my eye.  This is a 6″ x 54 toro with a dark Nicaraguan Maduro wrapper, Costa Rican grown Habano binder and fillers from Jalapa and Costa Rica.  This was a great spicy cigar with some bitter dark chocolate that was really to my liking.  It burned well, the draw was good, and it was a cigar I’ll smoke again.  I find the banding to be a little too close to Cuban Limitada bands, that’s probably what they were going for but I think a little originality from a company that definitely has some original products would be better. I’m not going to mistake that beautiful dark wrapper for any Habanos cigars, and I would probably choose this flavor profile over most Havanas as well.


Punch_H&F1999_ChurchillYesterday was the 4th of July.  My wife and I celebrate our wedding anniversary that day, as the US celebrates another birthday. I always choose a special cigar to mark the event, and there’s generally an element of civil disobedience involved that I’d like to think the founding fathers would approve of. Yesterday I selected a Havana Punch Churchill that was a gift from a friend a few years ago who serves our country and will remain nameless to protect the guilty!  This particular cigar had the distinction of bearing a “Vintage 1999” secondary band which denotes that it was selected by Hunters and Frankau (the UK importer of Habanos cigars) as an exceptional cigar. I agree with their assessment, it was an exceptional cigar. While the draw was a bit more snug than I like, it smoked very well, needing no corrections, and the smoke had a delicate flavor that was quite delicious. It had a bit of the unique Cuban spice, and was a milder, but very special cigar.  It was the perfect way to celebrate a special day.  I wish I could be as complimentary about the Rocky Patel Freedom I smoked later in the evening, there was a sour component to the savory flavor that didn’t do it for me, and I wished I had chosen better, but the red white and blue band seemed appropriate for the occasion. The Punch Churchill was sublime though, and I’m fortunate to have had the chance to experience it.


That’s about it for today.  We’re heading in to Philly again today for tea, then maybe a visit to Smoke in Manyunk after. Until the next time,





Filed under Review