Tag Archives: general cigars

Toraño, CAO, Punch and Hoyo Cigars and a Contest!

Torano ExodusI kind of got stuck in the General Cigar tray of the humidor this week and revisited a few cigars that I may not have really liked the first time around (or subsequent times as it turns out). I started out with the Toraño Exodus on Sunday, not even thinking that it might have been the only cigar in my humidor that was seasonally appropriate. Someone brought this to my attention and I quipped that I had passed it over several times over the past few months since I didn’t really like it the first time I smoked it last summer. Age has benefited this cigar, that was an IPCPR show sample in the 5″ x 54 robusto size. This latest version of the Exodus, the first since General Cigar bought the brand, has a Honduran San Augustin wrapper, Connecticut Broadleaf binder and Dominican, Honduran and Mexican fillers. I didn’t care for this the fist time I smoked it, but this one six months later was pretty darned tasty, it still started off a little sour, but it was greatly improved.

 

CAO_ConsigliereI followed that later in the day with a CAO Consigliere Associate, the robusto in the line that is basically the return of the Sopranos line, without the licensing fees that went along with the original. This is a 5″ x 52 robusto, and the first time I smoked this was in Las Vegas the night before the trade show opened when I ran into Rick Rodriguez and Ed McKenna of CAO at the Circle Bar in the Venetian Hotel. I had not previous experience with the Sopranos line, and I was told that this used the same blend as the original, Brazilian wrapper, Honduran binder and Colombian, Dominican, Nicaraguan fillers. I like sweetness in a cigar, and this cigar doesn’t have much sweetness, but it’s a god smoke if you like cigars on the savory end of the spectrum, which will come up again.  Monday I went with one of my favorites from CAO, the Flathead in the v660 Carb size, the one that placed high in Cigar Aficionado’s list a couple of years ago, I really like the Flathead line, although the 770 is a bit unwieldy.  I still liked the Consigliere, it was a nice cigar.

 

Punch_Signature_PitaLast night I went back to the Punch Signature Pita. I’ve liked a lot of Punch cigars, I should like this one too, but it’s another one that doesn’t hit my palate right, I’m afraid. It’s a classic 6″ x 50 toro, with a Ecuador Corojo wrapper, Connecticut Habano binder and Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers, what’s not to like?  I’ve smoked this in this size and the Robusto size, neither of which tripped my trigger unfortunately. It was lacking any sweetness and was very leathery to me. Certainly there are people who like this profile, it doesn’t thrill me. I can’t tell you how many Punch Rothchilds I smoked in the 90s!

 

Hoyo_RobustoTonight I picked out a year old Hoyo Robusto, the first couple I smoked last year I had draw problems with, I’ve also enjoyed a great many Hoyo de Monterrey cigars over the years, and the newest Hoyo La Amistad General Cigar made with AJ Fernandez last year is a really good smoke. This Hoyo has a Habano shade grown wrapper from Esteli, an Ecuador Sumatra binder, and Esteli, Ometepe and Pennsylvania fillers. I enjoyed this cigar a lot more now that it draws right, although it’s another cigar on the savory side, but it smoked well and I enjoyed it.  I think I would still lean toward the La Amistad when making a choice, but the Hoyo exceeded expectations.

 

Contest!

ContestSince I smoked a bunch of General Cigar products this week, and I have some goodies still hanging around, it’s a great time for me to have another giveaway! This is the last of the goodies I received a few months ago, we have a cool CAO Flathead Steel Horse metal sign, a Punch bobblehead, a Macanudo Colibri cutter (similar to the CAO cutter I used all week which worked great!) and a pair of La Gloria Cubana Cigar Scissors. As sometimes happens around here, I get sloppy when I’m packing the box and cigars fall in, previous winners can attest to this.  Usual rules apply, leave a comment on this blog post to enter, I’ll select a winner next Wednesday, April , 26, 2017.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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Tabaquero, Punch and Montecristo Cigars and a Contest

tabaqueroThursday evening I ended up smoking a Tabaquero by Hamlet Paredes from Rocky Patel in the robusto format after hearing an interview with him on the Smooth Draws Radio show (I think they ripped off me website design, at least in concept!). What a fascinating story this guy has, and a very interesting cigar! For a guy who was used to blending cigars with Cuban tobacco, that is to say not a great deal of variety, he made a very interesting blend of Nicaraguan fillers, Mexican and Brazilian binders with a Mexican wrapper. If this had some Peruvian tobacco in the blend it might just be the perfect cigar for me! This isn’t the first one of these I’ve smoked, although it is the first robusto, and it’s a cigar that I should put more of in my humidors. I love the  strong, straightforward flavors of sweet earth, cocoa and coffee, which is very rich and palate coating. This is probably my favorite Rocky Patel cigar, with the Super Ligero coming in second, although there aren’t a great many RP cigars that do a lot for me.  Great cigar for me, and I’ll continue trying other sizes. I may look at the new Sungrown next time I see it in a shop, I’ve heard good things.

 

I would have been talking about another cigar here, one that a co-worker gifted me a few weeks ago, but something weird and stupid happened about a third of the way into the cigar while I was taking my evening walk. For some reason I stumbled and did a face plant on the street, smashing the cigar, scraping my chin and nose, among other scrapes and bruises. Macha was there to lick my face and see if I was OK, which I really didn’t know if I was or not yet. This whole thing surprised me because I’ve been walking for a long time, and thought I had it down pretty good. So I came home, cleaned myself up, and grabbed a Punch London Club Maduro to try to wrap my head around this turn of events, it freaked me out!  Ironically, it was on this exact date in 2012 I wrote about the London Club, it what I like to think was a pretty good article comparing the Punch and Hoyo de Monterrey lines. Give it a read and let me know what you think. I still have a few of both the Hoyo Sabrosos and Punch London Clubs, they are great little 5″ x 40 cigars, is it a thin corona or a fat panatela?  The Punch has maintained it’s richness and full flavor over the five years they’ve been in my humidors. The Broadleaf wrapper is oily and flavorful and the burn was perfect. This was a great choice to ponder the evening’s events.

 

MontecristoYesterday was a beautiful day for mid-February, temperatures in the 60s, which is a good 50 degrees over what it could be. Still feeling out of sorts, I napped a bit, and hung out in the yard with Macha and a Montecristo White Vintage Connecticut No. 2 torpedo. This is a 6″x 50 torpedo with the taper such that it feels like a smaller cigar than that. This cigar is made in the Dominican Republichas a vintage 2008 Connecticut Shade (Grown in U.S.A.), Nicaraguan binder and fillers from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Peru. I do like cigars with Peruvian tobacco, and I like this cigar, although I think I like the Double Corona (really a Toro, but OK) a bit better. It’s a milder cigar, with that grassyness you’ll get from the US Connecticut Shade wrapper, and a nice little spice. Certainly a quality cigar, and a good mid-afternoon choice.

 

Contest!

ContestIt’s been a while, so let’s give some goodies away!  Since I had Punch on my mind, I have a Punch Bobblehead, along with a Macanudo branded rubberized Colibri cutter and a pair of La Gloria Cubana Branded scissors. It’s always possible some cigars might fall into the box when I pack it up too, I get sloppy that way sometimes. Leave a comment here to enter, I’ll pick a winner on Wednesday! Usual rules apply, one entry per person and only comments here on this post will qualify.  Must be of legal smoking age to win.  Thanks to Victoria at General Cigar Co. for the giveaway goodies!

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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Villiger 1888, La Gloria Cubana, Inca Secret Blend and More Tommy Bahama Accessories

Villiger_1888_RobustoTrying to get back into the swing of things after the holidays still, and with the remodeling going on in the house, my cabinet humidor has been a little hard to get into without moving furniture. Fortunately, there are other humidors around that I can get to, so I’ve been grabbing cigars out of those. One of the cigars I selected this week was a new Villiger 1888 robusto, re-issued this year in new packaging. This was originally released in 2009 and was the first handmade, premium cigar that  had the Villiger name. This one has an Ecuadoran wrapper, Mexican binder and Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers made in the DR. I found it to be a well made, flavorful cigar, which burned well. It had a bit of sweetness and a floral component and was on the mild side.  I liked this cigar.

 

La-Gloria_Serie-R_Esteli_Maduro_cigarI have one desktop humidor that just contains La Gloria Cubana and Foundry cigars, which was accessible. I’ve been smoking La Gloria Cubana cigars for twenty years, but the Serie R Esteli blends that have come out in the last couple years are my favorites, so finding the new La Gloria Cubana SErie R Esteli Maduro No. 54 right on top didn’t bother me at all.  This cigar has a dark Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and fillers. As General Cigar has done with several lines, they have a brick and mortar version, the Esteli, and the catalog version, the black. With the original Serie R Esteli and Black having a Nicaraguan Jalapa wrapper, I thought the Esteli version had a deeper, more satisfying flavor, but the Maduro varieties I think are on a par with one another. The Esteli Maduro is rich, sweet and a very nice cigar.  I’m a maduro fan, but I love both varieties of the Serie R Esteli. Funny, I was never a huge fan of the regular Dominican Serie R, which was one of the original large ring gauge lines in the late ’90s.

 

IncaSecretBlend_MonumentoTonight I selected an Inca Secret Blend in the new Monumento shape, which is a classic 6″ x 52 torpedo. The Inca Secret Blend is the US market version of the Inka Secret Blend that was an exclusive to the UK market through Mitchell Orchant’s C-Gars Ltd.  The cigar is a Peruvian Puro, manufactured at Tabacalera del Oriente in Tarapoto, Peru. Gennaro Lettieri is the owner of the factory, and I’ve met him several times. I’ve told this story before, but I recall sitting outside the Casa Fuente in Vegas with Mitchell and Genaro in 2013 while they sampled test blends, which were all horribly plugged leaving ashtrays filled with cigars that had been smoked less than an inch. It wasn’t until the next year that I had the chance to sample the finished product, which came in a toro and 6×60 size initially. This year they released the torpedo, robusto and a 6″ x 40. I love cigars with Peruvian tobacco in the blend, and the Peruvian puro is surprisingly good. It’s on the mild side, and reminiscent of a milder Havana, with a sweet little twang, not surprising since one of the creators of the cigar has lived on a steady diet of Havanas for most of his life.

 

Tommy Bahama 4I’ve been taking a break from using my trusty Xikar tools for the last few weeks and using some of the Tommy Bahama line of lighters and cutter. Both lighters have detailed, embossed logos on both sides and the cutter has the Tommy Marlin design on one side, and the side with the switch to open the spring-loaded blades just has Tommy Bahama name and a little gold marlin.  These have a very classy gloss black finish. The cutter and pocket lighter have leatherish cases to keep them in good shape. the cutter has two very sharp blades which close effortlessly and provide a clean cut. It’s got some weight to it, and seems solidly built. The pocket lighter is also hefty, larger and heavier than the Xikar Xidris Ive been using, with a similar side trigger, but has two jets. Tommy Bahama 5This is the first dual jet lighter I’ve had, and I like it. Is it twice as good as one?  I don’t know, but it does a nice job and lights every time. It has an adjustment wheel on the bottom with a  flip-up turny thing. I filled it a week ago and it’s still ¾ full, which I can tell because there’s a handy little window which is very easy to see the fuel level. The table lighter is a beast, it’s  large, has four jets and twin side triggers. It really throws off some BTUs, I think I mentioned that holding it about six inches from the foot of the cigar looks like the foot of the cigar is re-entering the earth’s atmosphere like an Apollo capsule. The one thing it lacks is the fuel window, but I suppose the idea is that it doesn’t wander too far away from the can of butane, it being far too large to carry around. The folks at Island Lifestyle tell me these are becoming available in stores other than the Tommy Bahama stores, they are working on getting them into brick and mortar retailers. It’s nice to have good tools, and I think these are pretty good out of the box, I’ll keep using them to see how they hold up over time.

 

That’s more than enough for now, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

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CigarCraig’s Top Five Memorable Cigars of 2016 and A Contest Winner!

Happy New Year to everyone and thanks for another great year at CigarCraig.com. If you all keep reading, I’ll keep writing! Heck, I’d probably be writing this if nobody was reading.  I’m posting on a Saturday instead of Sunday for a couple reasons, mostly because I don’t feel like getting up early tomorrow to post something when nobody will be around to read it, and I slacked off and missed my Wednesday post, it happens. So I figured I wrap up the year with some of the cigars that were memorable to me this year,  and my criteria was simple, the cigar, no matter how many I smoked, made a positive impression on me to the point where I really want to smoke more of the cigar. These are presented in no particular order, and I know this keeps me off of Halfwheel’s annual conglomerate list, but so be it, why break the streak?

 

Maya Selva Flor Mayade Selva Grand Pressé Box Pressed Toro. This really shouldn’t be included as it was an IPCPR sample smoked on the show floor, and I typically think this is a bad place to properly evaluate a cigar. However, my approach was that I only smoked one cigar on the show floor all day, and I practically did smoke this all day. I would let the cigar go out while talking to someone, and relight it and it was still amazing. This was a brand that I had heard of but not tried, and was very impressed. Sadly, I don’t see these around the stores here, but I have to hunt some down. I know this is only based on one example, but it was memorable and fits my criteria!

 

RoMa_Neanderthal_HNRoMa Craft Neanderthal HN. Technically I smoked this cigar at the end of last year, but since I smoked it’s little brother, the Shallow Gene Pool, later in the year I’m going to mark it down as Memorable. I really did love the candela wrapped  Fomarian ,  and smoked more of those this year than the Neanderthal, the Neanderthal stuck out in my mind as memorable. It had some strength, but most of all the flavor was exceptional and left a definite impression. The pricetag keeps it out of this cheap bastid’s rotation, but it competes favorably with other cigars at similar prices, such as a Padron 94 Exclusivo or similar. Bottom line is, there aren’t a whole lot of cigars I’d pay $12 for, but the Neanderthal is one of them.

 

Mi Querida_GorditoIt should be fairly common knowledge by now that Steve Saka and I go way back and I consider Steve a friend. Actually, in March it will be 20 years since Steve and I met face to face. So if that puts a bias on my inclusion of the Mi Querida Gordito (as well as the rest of the sizes) in this list, so be it. It could be argued that knowing Steve shaped my palate and preferences, and if that’s the case than I’m pretty lucky. I first smoke the Mi Querida Ancho Larga (toro) at the IPCPR show at the insistence of Stace Berkland, who was working in the Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust booth, and my initial impression was good, but that age would benefit the cigar, which might have been construed as saying I didn’t like it, which wasn’t the case at all. I’ve smoked several sizes in the line now, the Ancho Corto (robusto), the Muy Gordo Grande and the Gordito, which I am listing here as the most memorable. Hey, I love them all, they are exactly my style of cigar, I like the mellowness of the Muy Gordo Grande, but the punch that the little 4″ x 48 Gordito has really made an impression. I was going to include the Sobremesa Elegentes en Cedros in my list, as I found it to be an awesome cigar, with a slight edge on the also awesome Short Churchill, but I didn’t want to appear totally biased! Unfortunately the Mi Querida Gordito size might be hard to find as I think it’s fairly limited.

 

CorneliusandAnthony_Cornelius_ToroI’ve developed an affinity for milder, more complex and sophisticated cigars lately, and one new one that I find myself going to frequently is from Cornelius and Anthony, and is the Cornelius. This is a cigar that’s made at the El Titan de Bronze factory in Miami, and is just a really tasty cigar with a lot of subtlety and class. I’ve smoked several of the sizes and think the toro suits me best, although the corona gorda certainly has a lot going for it if you want a little bit of an edge to the flavor. The Cornelius and Anthony  Daddy Mac is a great smoke as well, but not nearly as memorable as the Cornelius. It’s another cigar in the over $10 range that I think is worthwhile. I put it in the same category as the Sobremesa, Davidoff, or some of the Havanas, it’s “clean” and delicious. There are some times that I chose to smoke this cigar that I remember fondly.

 

Fratello_Bianco_TheBoxerFinally, the cigar that was most memorable for me this year.  I was tempted to number this list because I knew this was number one, but really couldn’t assign numbers to two through five. At the time I said about this cigar “This was the best cigar I’ve smoked in recent memory” and I stand by that. Of course, the cigar Im referring to was the Fratello Bianco The Boxer. This is a box pressed torpedo, with  San Andrés Negro wrapper, binder from the Dominican Republic, and the fillers are Nicaraguan, Pennsylvanian and Peruvian. I dig the Bianco blend, and this tweaked version was just off the charts in flavor, and again, hit my particular flavor preference on the nose. Friggin yummy. Omar de Frias made news this year by quitting his day job at NASA to concentrate on the Fratello brand, a bold move given the whole FDA nonsense. What an amazing cigar.

 

That’s five, right?  There were a lot of runners up, the Hoyo La Amistad, the Foundation Tabernacle, the Foundry Time Flies, Leccia Des Nudos (it should have been in the top five…so close).  There were a lot to choose from but these were the most memorable.

 

Contest Winner!

 

GCCThe last contest of the year was some great stuff from General Cigar Company. We had a Flathead sign, a nice Macanudo Colibri cutter, some La Gloria Cubana scissors and a Punch bobble head. Maybe I should have included a cigar from each brand from my humidors in the contest, because that’s what I intend to include. Many people who have won my contests before can tell you that things often fall into the box when I’m packing it up (has anyone seen my keys?). The FDA says that manufacturers cant give away cigars for free, but they don’t have any say over my personal collection and what I do with it! The winner of the last contest of 2016 is Timmc71. Please send me your info so I can get these goodies out to you!  

 

That’s all for today!  Happy New Year again, and here’s to a successful 2017!

 

CigarCraig

 

 

 

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Another Crossfire, a New Toraño, a Cordoba & Morales and a New Hoyo

Crossfire_SanAndres_ToroI’m off to a late start today, my apologies. I typically get up early on Sundays, but I had a late nap last night that kept me up in to the wee hours, then a migraine put me down for a few more hours. Not that anyone is likely siting around on a Sunday morning waiting me to post this nonsense. I selected another Crossfire cigar this week, this one was the San Andrés in a toro format. Sadly, I can find very little info on these new offerings, the card that was in the bag with the samples has background info and outdated pictures, and the website is behind the times as well. The only thing I can say is that this has a dark, Mexican San Andrés wrapper, at least that’s what the name on the band would imply. I tend to believe it, as this was a tasty smoke, although it started out a bit differently than I’m used to a San Andrés wrapped cigar starting. This cigar was nice, smooth and medium bodied, and I’m accustomed to a “dirtier” start. About halfway through the cigar I had to stop and remind myself I wasn’t smoking a Padrón of some sort, but it took some time to get to that point.  Damn fine cigar, I think I’ll get to the one banded Arapiraca next, it looks tasty.

 

Torano_Exodus_RobustoFriday evening I took a walk with a Toraño Exodus Robusto, the new iteration of the Exodus from General Cigar Co.  Exodus has been around a long time. I can remember enjoying Toraño Exodus cigar in the early part of the 2000s, and especially enjoyed the Exodus 50 years which came out a few years back (was it ’09?). The new version has some interesting components. The wrapper is a lower priming Honduran leaf from the San Agustin Valley, reminding me of the CAO OSA Sol s little, although darker. The binder is Connecticut Broadleaf, and the filler blend is Mexican, Dominican and Honduran. There is a lot going on in the blend, and the cigar is quite nice. It’s got some nutty, leathery qualities and a bit of pepper. It was quite interesting. I haven’t had a chance to try the colorfully packaged Vault line yet, it shares the same easily-mistaken-for-another-brand bands and bright colors as this new Exodus. Good cigar despite the band, which would have been a brilliant idea if someone hadn’t come out with it a couple of years ago.

 

CordobaMorales_ClaveCubana_RobustoYesterday I spent the morning putting insulation in our living room, an unpleasant job, but far less unpleasant than tearing down drywall (I am NOT looking forward to taking the ceiling down…). After getting cleaned up from that, and getting everything back in place, I sat down with another cigar from the IPCPR show, the Cordoba & Morales Clave Cubana Etiqueta Blanca robusto. This was a great looking little box pressed robusto, with a dark San Andrés wrapper (another one!  Yay!). I wasn’t expecting this to be as strong as it was, perhaps the “white label” name associates with mild to me, I don’t know, but it was a strong cigar for a before dinner cigar. No bother, I loved this cigar. It had a great black coffee kind of flavor, which I love, and it really hit my palate the right way. Great box press, and a wonderful little cigar. Besides the Mexican wrapper, the rest of the cigar is Nicaraguan, with Jalapa, Esteli and Ometepe represented in the blend.

 

Smoking the new Hoyo de Monterrey made in partnership with AJ Fernandez - @hoyocigars @ajfcigarsAfter dinner yesterday I just had to try the new Hoyo La Amistad, another IPCPR show sample. This is another interesting new offering from General Cigar, and another collaboration with AJ Fernandez. Hoyo was traditionally a Honduran cigar, this one is made in Nicaragua. The wrapper is Ecuadoran Habano, binder is a Nicaraguan leaf cultivated by AJ Fernandez in Esteli. The filler blend features tobacco from Esteli, Ometepe, Condega and Jalapa. A pre-light sniff of the 5″ x 54 robusto had that distinctive “barnyard” aroma, and the flavors were very unique and interesting. This was another cigar I really enjoyed, it had some “bright” flavors and was almost full bodied. It did have some dried fruit sweetness and a little spice. Hoyo_La Amistad_RobustoThis is a winner cigar for me, It’s different from what I usually like, but very tasty. If you’re wondering why there were a couple of collaborations with General Cigar and AJ Fernandez this year, think about who AJ Fernandez has been making a ton of cigar for over the last few years, Cigars International, right? Now, think of who owns Cigar International, Swedish Match/Scandinavian Tobacco, which also happens to be the parent company of General Cigar. Its more complicated than that, but you get the jist. It doesn’t hurt that Abdel Fernandez grew up near the Hoyo de Monterrey farm in Cuba, so he has that connection to the brand.  So far, out of the new releases from General Cigar this year, I haven’t found one I don’t like yet, Foundry Time files is a winner, Partagas Ramon y Ramon is a winner, and the Toraño Exodus and Hoyo La Amistad are also winners.

 

That’s plenty from me today, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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