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CigarCraig’s Holiday Giveaways No. 3 – Drew Estate Goodies!

Happy New Year’s Eve to everyone,  2017 is just about in the books, the year went by really fast.  I honestly don’t know what to expect from 2018, but I’ll keep smoking cigars, visiting shops and going to events I suspect. So I wish everyone a safe and happy 2018, and be careful out there tonight!  I’ll be finding an appropriate cigar to smoke this evening, that’s for sure.  Anyway, there’s the business of selecting the winner of the La Gloria Cubana Contest, which includes a travel humidor and a dozen La Gloria LaGloriaCubana ContestCubana cigars. The random number generator selected Trent Berry as the winner!  Trent, please send me your address so I can ship this off to you!  Once again, thanks to Rami at General Cigar Co., Cigar Cigars in King Of Prussia for having a great event with Ernesto Carillo which caused me to open my wallet and end up with a cool humidor to give away, and of course, General Cigar Co, for being an awesome steward of a long loved brand.  Gee, I wonder what today’s giveaway is?

 

Contest (note: not Comic Sans this time Mike P!)

 

DE Contest2017Today’s third and (maybe) final giveaway of the season is a collection of goodies from my friends at Drew Estate. Included are some items that may not be very common in the wild. These are items I’ve received over the course of the year, there’s a Barnsmoker cap from the Connecticut Barn Smoker (I’m not a hat guy), a DE backpack which contained a lighter, ashtray, and other assorted goodies which was from the media party that DE threw at the 2017 IPCPR, some various stickers that I’ve accumulated over the years, some of which are from my last visit to the factory in 2013, and a selection of cigars from my humidor including Undercrowns (and example of each wrapper), a KFC, a Nica Rustica and some Joya de Nicaraguas because Drew Estate distributes them and I have a bunch.  I’ll add to it if I come across more stuff. Once again, it’s not that I don’t appreciate these gifts from Drew Estate, I do, but I like to share my good fortune, and I have lots of “stuff”! You know the de4l, leave a comment here to enter and I’ll pick a winner next Sunday, Jan 7, 2018. As always, thank YOU all for your continued support!

 

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

 

CigarCraig

(I was thinking of making a version of the logo with a party hat and one of those noisemaker, party things, for New Years, but lack the patience for that right now…something for me to work on for next year!)

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CigarCraig’s Top Five Memorable Cigars of 2017

This is a little early but Sunday’s post just might be another contest and I don’t want to confuse things! I was trying to get this posted Wednesday, but things weren’t working out the way I wanted them to! Just like last year, my criteria is simple, a cigar that I consider “Memorable” is one I smoked, made a positive impression on me to the point where I really want to smoke more of that cigar.  I noted last year that this format, in no particular order, would keep me off Halfwheel’s Consensus list, but I just recently came to find out that my 2016 was included on their 2016 Awards: The Consensus Top 25 Cigars which included at least three of my five most memorable. So, without further ado, here’s my list of memorable cigars of last year.

 

LaGloriaCubana_Colección Reserva_PresidenteI’ve been a fan of La Gloria Cubana cigars since the mid-nineties when I started really getting into the premium cigars. Back then they were made by Ernesto Perez Carillo in Miami and later the Dominican Republic and were excellent. Time has passed, along with ownership of the company, and Ernesto has gone on to do his own thing, but he came back to partner with General to make the Coleccion Reserva. one a side note, the current contest running now until Sunday includes ten of these great cigars, and let me tel you it’s going to be hard to let go of them! I kid, I’m happy to share such great cigars. These are manufactured at Ernesto’s  Tabacalera La Alianza in the Dominican Republic using materials from both companies. I like them so much I bought a box of the Presidente size for full retail! This cigar exemplifies the cooperative nature of the cigar industries where competing companies work together. It doesn’t always work, but in the case of the La Gloria Cubana Coleccion Reserva is does. Smoking one with Ernesto at a local event puts it at the top of my most memorable list ( I know, I said it was in no particular order!).

 

CorneliusandAnthony_SenorEsugars_RobustoCornelius and Anthony makes an appearance again this year, I still go to the Cornelius Toro as my “go to” special occasion cigar, but there aren’t a lot of cigars in their portfolio that I don’t like. OK, I don’t think there are any that I don’t like. OK, OK, there aren’t any I don’t like! This year they released two new lines, the Aerial with a Ecuador Connecticut Shade wrapper,  and the Señor Esugars with a San Andrés wrapper, which is my second selection on my memorable list. These are made at the La Zona factory in Esteli. I really dig this cigar, which, like the Aerial, has a super secret US grown binder. they are tight-lipped about the origin of the leaf they use, but considering the Bailey family has been growing tobacco in Virginia for 150 years, one cant help but think it’s grown in Virginia. It certainly adds a unique component to the cigars, and the Señor Esugars hits my palate just right. There’s a super cool dog on the box too. Full disclosure: Cornelius and Anthony is an advertiser on CigarCraig.com, but the only effect that has on my opinion is in that bearing contacted by them to advertise put them on my radar, and meeting Steven Bailey and his team adds to the memorability.

 

SouthernDraw_Jacob'sLadder_GordoSouthern Draw Cigars has been on my radar for a while, but at this year’s IPCPR I finally got to meet Robert Holt, his wife, Sharon, and their family. Upon meeting, Robert did a convincing job of knowing who I was and was generous with his time.  Robert is a gentleman, a veteran, a spiritual man and is behind some of the best cigars coming out of Tabacalera AJ Fernandez.  New to me this year was the Jacobs Ladder, his Pennsylvania Broadleaf flavor bomb. The name hints at his commitment to family and faith, and the cigar is awesome. I’m currently on the hunt for more, because it’s one I want to smoke more of, and it’s an especially good choice for the cold weather we’ve been having as the weight of the flavor cuts through the crisp air.  The Rose of Sharon is also a stellar offering in the Ecuador Connecticut wrapper (there should be little doubt by now that a maduro is almost always winning out over a shade wrapper with me!), it’s among the best out there (the above mentioned Aerial and the Fratello Oro get honorable mentions).  So that makes the Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder my third memorable smoke of 2017.

 

OscarHabano_SixtyNext up is another cigar I really enjoyed this year, the Oscar Habano. Funny think about this one is that I had bought some of the Toro  and Gordo sizes an really enjoyed them, but it wasn’t until  I had the Robusto that was part of 2 Guys Smokeshop‘s Contenders pack that I really saw the beauty of this cigar. Listen to The Cigar Authority tomorrow (Saturday 12/30) to see if they get it right and select this cigar as the Cigar of the Year. As I think about it, I may dig out the one toro I still have and smoke it today. Oscar makes some great cigars, the Leaf by Oscar line is very good (there’s another Ecuador Connecticut cigar that’s really good!), it’s nice that he made something exceptional to put his name on (wait…his name is on the Leaf by Oscar isn’t it?) Great smoke, I hope 2 Guys Smokeshop makes the right call on this one.

 

FSG ToroFinally, I really can’t get enough of the Florida Sungrown from Drew Estate. This uses tobacco that’s grown on Jeff Borysiewicz’s (Corona Cigar Co.) Farm where he’s growing Corojo tobacco, the first time Cigar tobaco has been grown in Florida for something like 40 years. Willie Hererra blended the cigar using Nicaraguan and Honduran tobaccos with the Florida leaf adding that little something different in the flavor.  I have to admit, it was a toss-up between the FSG and the Undercrown Sungrown, both are exceptional and I really dig them, but the FSG has a great story and inches out the Undercrown by a hair. Drew Estate continues to bring new and interesting cigars to the market, I have to admit that I rather liked the new Acid Kuba Candela too. While I’m more of a traditional cigar smoker, this one was a treat, the bitterness of the candela wrapper offset the sweetness of the infusion. Good stuff.

 

That’s it for my five most memorable cigars of the past year. There were probably others that I thought were excellent but didn’t have the little extra to make them stand out. The La Palina El Año 1816 was on my list too, I just need to smoke a few more before I can make a strong recommendation (the La Palina Classic Maduro I smoked last night was really quite tasty too!).  Hopefully 2018 brings some new and interesting cigars. Once again, thanks to all the readers and sponsors, without whom I’d be typing for my own entertainment!

 

That’s all for now, don’t forget the contest! Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CigarCraig’s Holiday Giveaways No. 2 – La Gloria Cubana Cigars and Humidor

Before we get to today’s giveaway, I better announce the winner of the last one!  The winner of the Gurkha Goodies Giveaway, as selected by the random number generator at Random.org is Jeffrey Martin!  Please send your address so I can get this shipped to you on Tuesday!

 

Contest!

 

La Gloria Cubana Contest 1A couple of months ago I attended an event at a local shop which featured Ernesto Perez Carillo, but was a General Cigar Event. It would be confusing if one wasn’t aware of Ernesto’s involvement with La Gloria Cubana, which was his baby until he sold it to General. It was a treat to see him and get to talk to him for a bit, and I talked myself into buying a box of the new La Gloria Cubana Coleccion Reserva, just to have Ernesto sign it for me. I don’t usually do that, but it was Ernesto, and I’ve been a huge LGC fan for decades. I love the cigars, so I’m in good shape there, and wanted to share some with La Gloria Cubana Contest 2a lucky reader. One of the “gifts with purchase” for buying the box was a cool La Gloria Cubana Serie R travel humidor, along with a fiver of the Coleccion Reserva La Robusto, and Rami, our local rep, threw in another fiver.  So there’s a travel humidor, ten great cigars, along with a couple of others from my humidor, a Serie R Esteli and a Serie N JSB.  As you can see the travel humidor will hold 11 cigars, but not 12. Thanks to General Cigars for helping me out with this one and giving me the chance to hang out with a legend in the cigar biz, as well as making great cigars!

 

You know the rules, leave a comment to enter and I’ll pick a winner next Sunday, which is New Years Eve. Today is Christmas Eve, so Merry Christmas to all. I’ve been smoking some favorites lately, and will pick out a couple of special cigars for today and tomorrow, no doubt.  So, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

 

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Diesel, H. Upmann, Hoyo and Enclave Cigars and Groovy Guy Gifts

Diesel_Grind_RobustoI got on another one of my thematic kicks this week, smoking cigars from different companies, all made at the same factory. Coincidentally, I generally enjoy cigars from this factory, which fits in with my desire to smoke cigars that I like! Hedonistic, I know, but I avoid eating food I don’t like, so smoking cigars I don’t like doesn’t make much sense. Fortunately, there don’t seem to be many cigars I just can’t stand, but there are cigars that hit my palate just right and I like spending my daily vacation time with. Anyway, I started this experiment with a Diesel Grind, which has been around for a while but, as of this year, is being distributed be General Cigar, where it was previously distributed by Meier & Dutch, which is owned by Scandinavian Tobacco, who owns General. It’s confusing, I know, but M&D is basically mail order for retailers, where distribution by General is supported in person by their excellent sales force. Anyway, I almost wasn’t going to even mention the Diesel, except it fit in with my theme. Not that it was a bad cigar, it wasn’t, it just didn’t “wow” me. It has a Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and filler, and was a great size for my late start, and watching the Flyers on the porch. The robusto is a shade under 5″ by 50 ring and the burn was perfect. For $6 this is a nice cigar, maybe my palate was off (I had attended a presentation earlier that evening that left a bad taste in my mouth!) I have some of the original Diesel Unholy Cocktails that I should revisit, I really liked that cigar, although I really never explored the whole line.

 

H.UpmannAJChurchillFriday I try to end the week with a cigar I really like, so I went with the new H. Upmann AJ Fernandez (are you catching on to the theme?). I had picked up a few in the Churchill size a month or two ago and have really enjoyed the blend. Unfortunately, there are precious few cigars in Altadis line that I really like. I’ve had abysmal luck with the Yarguera H.Upmann, and the Banker doesn’t do it for me. Havana H. Upmanns have been a different story. I do like a number of the Montecristos, especially the White Vintage Connecticut oddly enough. The new RoMEo 505 I really like, the rest of the line I can take or leave. I keep trying their cigar though. Anyway, the Upmann AJ Fernandez is really good, it appeals to me on several levels. the wrapper is Ecuador Sumatra, the binderis Corojo 99 and the fillers are Criollo 98 and Piloto Cubano, It’s sweet, a little nutty, a little bready, very well-balanced and delicious. I’ve smoked a couple of sizes of this and need to smoke some more. The Churchill is a beefy 7″ x 54, burned well, drew well, overall was a great cigar to wrap up the week.

 

Hoyo_LaAmistadSilver_ChurchillI switched back to General Cigars for a Saturday afternoon smoke. It was a beautiful day on the porch, for late October it was comfortable and sunny. Today is the opposite, I’m afraid. Anyway, I selected the Hoyo La Amistad by AJ Fernandez, again in the Churchill size. I really hope you’ve picked up on the them by now. Hoyo’s interpretation of the Churchill is slightly more traditional, this one was 6-7/8″ x 48. I’m not sure why people can’t make a Churchill 7″ x 47 any more…but this one was close. I really like the size of this cigar, actually, very elegant and comfortable. This is the second blend in the La Amistad line, the “gold” came out last year, and the “silver” is this year’s release. It has an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan Habano binder and fillers from Estelí, Condega. This is another winner, although I think I prefer the “gold” over the silver. Maybe the “silver” is a little more refined or something, not that that’s bad. I also think these needed some more humidor time as the example I smoked yesterday got acrid at the band.  The La Amistad Gold is an exceptional cigar, the silver has the potential to me exceptional also.

 

AJF_Enclave_ToroLast night, after spending a great few hours with the grand-daughters while their parents went out to dinner, I headed to the porch with the Flyers on the iPad for a cigar. I was torn between a Hoyo La Amistad Gold, a Foundry Time Flies and a RoMEo 505, when I spied a lonely Enclave Habano. So I figured I’d wrap up the AJ series with a cigar AJ Fernandez made for his own company instead of someone else’s.  I’ve been on the lookout for the Enclave Broadleaf, just haven’t come across them in the wild yet, I’m very interested in sampling that one. The Enclave Habano is a nice cigar, it’s got a Habano wrapper as the name implies, a Cameroon binder and Nicaraguan fillers. I usually find that cigars with Cameroon in the blend have a disincentive flavor,  but I didn’t get that in this one. I found it to be rather earthy and woody. I smoked the 6″ x 52 Toro, when I should have smoked a shorter cigar, but what the heck, right? Burn was perfect with a flat burn, and I love a closed foot. I like the Enclave Habano, but I’m really jazzed about trying the Broadleaf. Flyers won, spent time with the grandkids, it was a good evening.

 

FireintheHoleIf you find yourself in the market for personalized gifts, I came across a nice site for such things. Groovy Guy Gifts offers a wide variety of guy stuff that they personalize and turn around with surprising quickness. they have several cigar related goodies, and I came to possess their “Fire in the Hole” triple jet lighter this week. From order confirmation to delivery was only three days, impressive FireintheHole2considering that it was engraved. I’m well familiar with the maker of the lighter, it’s a slim, powerful three jet lighter with a nice heft and a small flip-out punch on the bottom, far smaller than I’d be inclined to use (7mm?), but serviceable in a pinch. The engraving is crisp and clear and it’s presented well in a gift box. Groovy Guy Gifts does a nice job, has quick and reasonable shipping and is a pleasure to deal with.

 

That’s all for now, although nothing new here really. I felt like I had to make up for a lazy Wednesday post. As I thought about it, I gotta disagree with the bit about deferring to the regulars, I think in a retail environment every customer should be welcomed and afforded the same level of customer service. That long-term customer who spends lots in your store was once the guy walking in for the first time. If I walk into a shop for the first time I don’t expect to have the red carpet rolled out, but I don’t expect the clerk, owner or whatever to finish his conversation with his regulars before acknowledging me. Common sense is key for all parties involved. Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

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New CAO, La Gloria Cubana and Partagas from General Cigar Co.

Every year at the IPCPR show I make sure to make an appointment to tour the General Cigar Co. booth. I have a lot of great friends there and am a fan of many of their cigars. They had a lot of new cigars, and I’ll talk about three of them today, the others will have to wait until I smoke some more samples or, in a couple cases, find the cigars in my local shops.  I’ve included some relevant photos below, I should have rolled video, but I was having audio issues and didn’t want to waste valuable time. The first cigar I was eager to try after I got home was the third cigar in the CAO Amazon Trilogy, the poorly named Anaconda. I tried the Amazon Basin  few months back and was frankly CAO_AmazonAnacondaunderwhelmed, then the Fume em Corda came along and I really liked it. Now the Anaconda, a 6″x52 toro with a twisted cord of tobacco in place of a band is the third and last member of the family.  The cigar has a beautiful dark Brazilian Bahiano Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and Colombian, Dominican, Brazilian Braganca, and Fume em Corda fillers made in Honduras. I found it to have loads of flavors that I like, the dark, heavy flavors, and for having only spent a week in my humidor it burdened perfectly. I liked it so much I had to smoke a second one in as many days, which I very rare do.  I suspect I need to try to find another Amazon Basin to give it a second chance, although that may not be easy, I understand they went fast, and I regret not sampling it in its first run.  I always enjoy spending time with Ricky Rodriguez.

 

LaGloriaCubana_Colección ReservaOne of the surprising news from the La Gloria Cubana area of the booth was the introduction of the Coleccion Reserva which is a collaborative effort with Ernesto Carrillo and is actually manufactured in his Tabacalera La Alianza S.A. factory in the Dominican Republic. It has an Ecuador Sumatra wrapper with Nicaraguan binder and filler, which came as a surprise to me. The cigar had a drying effect on my palate that led me to believe there was some Dominican leaf in the blend. Shows what I know. The presentation is beautiful, classic La Gloria hardening back to the days Ernesto owned the brand and made them in Miami. I’ll be giving these some more humidor time and trying them again, I didn’t dislike the cigar, I just think i dug in to the samples a little prematurely. Always a fan of the Lady…always enjoy seeing my buddy Yuri at the show. I first “met” Yuri Guillen when they launched the Serie N and had a webcast that I was lucky enough to take part in back around 2010. I met him in person in 2011 when I visited the factory. He’s a great guy and has done a great job with the La Gloria Cubana brand.

 

Partagas1845_ExtraOscuro_RothschildPartagas reworked their already very good 1845 line putting them in slick black boxes and redoing the blends. They also seem to be putting all three blends in both the brick and mortar and catalog channels, a change from when we saw the Extra Oscuro and Extra Fuerte split between the two (and I can’t remember which went to which…). I selected a Partagas 1845 Extra Oscuro Rothschild for my afternoon cigar yesterday. Oddly, the Rothschild size is more of a Corona Gorda, 5.63″ x 46, which is a really col size. This smoked wonderfully, with heavy dark chocolate and espresso flavors from the Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. Honestly, I’d have to try the old and new side by side to see if I could tell the difference, but the “new” was pretty darned great and will age spectacularly I think.  I’m looking forward to trying out the Extra Fuerte and Clasicos as I always enjoyed the 1845 line in the past.  The presentation is excellent and will be hard to miss on the store shelf. The General Cigars booth was all about the new releases, and largely the Macanudo Inspirado (more on that later), but the classic “back catalog” is still available. The Partagas “yellow box” and Black, tons of La Gloria marques and CAOs vast array of cigars obviously aren’t going anywhere. I was very excited by several of these new releases. More on Macanudo Toraño, Hoyo, Punch and Cohiba later.

 

That’s all for today, time to get it together, I’m replacing my garage door today, and it’s a job that kinda has to be finished in one sitting, ya know.  If you’re in the area and want to stop buy and lend a hand, I’ll provide cigars! 🙂 Until the next time,

CigarCraig

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