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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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A Perdomo 20th Anniversary and Macanudo Inspirados

Perdomo_20thAnnivMaduro_ChurchillFriday evening I was itchin for a great cigar, so I dug into a Perdomo 20th Anniversary Maduro line sampler I bought last year. I bought this for two reasons, first was so I could get a chance to win one of the great Perdomo humidors, which I did not, and second was because I love the Perdomo 20th Maduros and I knew I’d happily smoke every last one. I kind of avoid buying a box because it would be hard for me to smoke anything else. This sampler included six cigars, one in each size. It was Friday, so I went with the 7″ x 56 Churchill for my evening walk. I should have headed down to B&B Cigars in Chestnut Hill for their Black Label/Black Works event, but I didn’t have Friday traffic in me, and by the time I got there it would have been late. So I enjoyed the crap out of the Perdomo 20th Maduro, as I always do. It’s a little like smoking a Hershey’s Special Dark bar, it’s got loads of slightly bitter chocolate and espresso. It’s surely on my list of favorite cigars, and it’s not very pricey either. The Corona Grande is my favorite in the bunch, but this Churchill really was exceptional if you have the time.

 

MacanudoFlyersYesterday was a beautiful Autumn day, with sunshine and temps in the 70s. I got a fair amount of chores and errands done in time for a 1 o’clock Flyers game. As has been discussed previously, I’d much prefer watching on the small iPad screen on the porch with a cigar than inside on the big Macanudo_InspiradoWhite_Robustoscreen.  I selected the new Macanudo Inspirado White Robusto to start the day. This is an interesting Macanudo.  It has a six-year-old Ecuador Connecticut wrapper that is beautiful, an Indonesian binder and fillers from Condega and Jalapa in Nicaragua and San Andrés, Mexico. Fun fact: The regular old Macanudo Cafe line has always had a San Andrés binder.  Anyway, the Inspirado White isn’t a mild, flavorless cigar, quite the opposite. It had some sweet earth and spice along with the nutty grassiness of the wrapper. Nice cigar, and the ash and burn was picture perfect (I guess I should have taken a picture!). This was a very enjoyable shade wrapped cigar.

 

IPCPRGala1The folks at General Cigar Co. sponsored this past year’s IPCPR opening gala with an amazing party featuring the Macanudo Inspirado White and Black. Honestly, they could have brought in a clown making balloon animals and provided a better opening gala than the previous year, but they had amazing food, a DJ, a station making T-shirts on the spot, and IPCPRGala2stations for the Inspirado Black and White showing off the tobacco. It was nightclubby and quite a party. All of the General Cigar Co. people were there, including Benji Menendez. They set the bar very high, oh, and there was an open bar too. I should have taken more pictures but I had a cigar in one hand and a plate in the other most of the time!

 

Macanudo_InspiradoBlack_RobustoFor my evening walk last night I took the Macanudo Inspirado Black out. This robusto was 4 7/8” x 48, has a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, Ecuador Sumatra binder and Nicaraguan fillers including a proprietary seed varietal grown in Esteli. General has an incredible library of seeds. This is a jet black cigar, the burn was perfect, but it didn’t have the nice, white, perfect ash it’s blond sibling had. Richness abounds, pepper, abounds, and dark, roasty flavors abound. While the White had some sophistication, this one has some raw, down and dirtiness to it that I loved. The Macanudos I started smoking 20+ years ago were noting like these two. Personally I put these up against  similar cigars in the boutique category in enjoyment and performance. I was quite impressed with both Inspirados. I have a couple of the orange banded Inspirados, one from Iceland (the  best-selling cigar in Iceland) and one Rick Rodriguez (CAO) gave me last year and told me to smoke it on a clean palate (maybe today to complete the trifecta?). So far I’m more impressed with the White and Black than I was with the orange banded Inspirado. One more interesting tidbit, there’s a competition world-wide, with the finals held in Europe, that has competitors seeing who can smoke a corona the longest without it going out. This competition uses the Inspirado, and the record is over three hours!  Crazy!

MacanudoWhiteMacanudoBlackMacanudoOrange

 

Anyway, that’s all for today, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

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Rolling Thunder, Veritas and Hoyo de Monterrey Cigars

RollingThunder_50CalMaduro_RobustoWhile I was at the IPCPR show I stopped by the Veritas booth and while I was waiting to meet and talk to Chris Weber, I spoke with Dave Cribbin about this Rolling Thunder cigars.  This week I smoked the Maduro .50 Caliber robusto, and I had every intention of smoking the Connecticut and Habano versions, but some other things came up. When Dave gave me the samples I had him mark the maduro since I couldn’t really distinguish between it and the Rolling Thunder IPCPRHabano (the Connecticut is on the darker side too, but it’s a bit lighter). I believe these are in the “Pre-War Vintage” line, there’s also a “Boot Camp Blend”, which the website indicates is on the milder side. The Maduro has a Nicaraguan wrapper and binder, and fillers from Honduras (Habano) and Nicaragua (Jalapa and Esteli). This 5″ x 52 robusto, as I alluded to before, has a lighter shade maduro wrapper (or the Habano is dark), and was a very meaty, savory cigar, no real sweetness, but savory. I really liked the cigar, it was different than a typical maduro, and was well made. I am looking forward to smoking the other two samples I have.These are sold on the website, and there’s also a place to make an additional donation to Cigars for Warriors, which is nice.

 

Veritas_ToroI finally did get to talk to Chris Weber of Veritas Cigars at the show, he’s from Delaware, which is down the road from me, and I’d seen him checking in to local shops on social media. I smoked the Veritas toro this week and was really impressed. The 6″ x 52 toro, my preferred size, has a Brazilian Arapiraca Maduro wrapper,  Dominican Olor binder and fillers from Peru, Colombia, Nicaragua & Dominican Republic. This one had the sweetness I like and was quite and exceptional cigar. The band is plain, black with white borders, and from the back it could be mistaken for another popular brand, but it’s not. The similarity is that it’s a terrific cigar, but it stands on its own in flavor and quality. This is a cigar I’ll be smoking more of, for sure.

 

Hoyo_LaAmistad_RobustoI usually write a post on Wednesday evenings, but I blew that off to head back down to the Wooden Indian and have a smoke with Jack Toraño of General Cigar Co. I always seem to miss hanging with cigar makers, reps and brand owners/managers/evangelists, whatever, when I either find out they were in the area too late, or am at work while they are visiting stores during the day. When I saw Jack was in the vicinity, I reached out to him and he let me know he was stopping by the JackTWooden Indian. I picked up a few cigars while there (weekday special: buy 5, the 6th is $1!), and lit up a Hoyo La Amistad by AJ Fernandez. This isn’t a new cigar to me, and is one I really enjoy, which is why I bought more considering I still had some at home in the humidor. It was great catching up with Jack, a true gentleman and good dude. Always nice to see Rami, our local General rep, too. Thanks to Dan and Todd for hanging out a bit past closing time!

 

Hoyo_LaAmistadSilver_ChurchillI picked up a couple of the new Hoyo La Amistad Silver while I was at the Wooden Indian, they only had the Churchill size, which is OK because I like Churchills and don’t smoke enough of them. A 6 7/8″ x 48 just doesn’t seem that big these days! This is another cigar from Tabacalera Fernandez which consists of an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan Habano binder and Nicaraguan fillers (Estelí, Condega). When I was talking with Jack about his fondness for the original Hoyo La Amistad, he said that the new-this-year Silver was even better. This surprised me because the original is really good, the Silver is better?  I have to say that I really did enjoy the Silver, until it got to the last two inches when it got a little funky, but it’s pretty new and should definitely be stellar with some age. For me it’s on a par, and I can’t really say how it was different, it just was, and quite enjoyable. More to come on that one.

 

That’s all for tonight, I had thought of a clever contest concept, but then I forgot what it was! So when I remember it, I’ll put something together, although I did meet m contest quota for a bit, didn’t I?  I’m sure you’ll disagree!   Anyway, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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Gurkha, La Palina, Avo and a Quick Draw Cigar

 

I took the easy way out on Wednesday with the La Sirena video, so I have a bunch of cigars to talk about this week. Not unexpectedly, the video is now in the number three spot in views on my YouTube channel, behind a La Sirena interview from the 2012 IPCPR. That shows something, I have to figure out what that is…Anyway, I started the week with a teeth cleaning followed by a Gurkha Founders Reserve in the Rothschild 6×58 size.  That’s what the box (of 10) that they gave me at the IPCPR show says, Gurkha_FoundersReserve_RothschildI initially thought it was the XO size, 6″ x 60, like there’s a huge difference between 58 and 60…and usually reliable sources list the sizes as   Robusto (5 x 50), Rothschild (6 x 55) and XO (6 x 60), yet it says 6 x 58 right there on the box, and I measured one and it was close enough to the 60 hole to make me think it was a 60 (my ring gauge checker is old, it jumps from 56 to 60 and doesn’t go any larger). Gurkha fails to list the sizes on the website too, which is frustrating. I’ve bitched about it before, but the manufacturer’s website should be the last word in specifics on a cigar, not blogs of retailers. I’m worked up now, maybe I need to smoke another of the Gurkha Founders Reserve  whatever size it is, because it was a really tasty Connecticut shade wrapped cigar. I really enjoyed the crap pout of the cigar, it was a really tasty medium bodied cigar with a great burn and draw. I suspect this is a brick and mortar exclusive, like the cellar reserve line, and is in the $10 price range, but it very enjoyable. Here’s a few pictures I took a the Gurkha booth at the show.

 

 

LaPalina_Nicaragua_OscuroMy eye was drawn to the La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro robusto next. La Palina’s website gives the sizes and nothing else. This is a 5″ x 52 Robusto, made at the AJ Fernandez factory in Nicaragua, and wrapped with a Ecuador Oscuro wrapper with Nicaraguan fillers. I’m not sure what “Ecuador Oscuro” exactly means, and the rest of the make-up is vague. Again, it hardly matters as it’s a tasty smoke. It’s up my alley with the rich, coffee/cocoa flavors I like, with a hint of spice. It burned well, had a good draw and was a very nice experience. I smoked a prototype of this a few years ago I think. On a side note, I’ve been obsessed with the Adorini Double Punch cutter, and have been using it all the time. It features two punches, 9mm and a huge 13mm. I find myself using the 13mm (which is about a half an inch, or 32 ring gauge) almost all the time, it opens up the cigar almost as much as when I use a guillotine cutter. It’s sharp and has a strong magnet that keeps the three pieces together. It’s a quality piece and I’m using it a lot. The La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro is a good smoke, I look forward to smoking the Nicaragua Connecticut.

 

Avo_SouthAmericaRitmo_SpecialToroNext up was a new offering from Davidoff’s Avo line, the Ritmo in the Syncro line. I’ve smoked a few Avo cigars, most aren’t in my wheelhouse, frankly, I don’t “get” a lot of them. Some people love them, everyone has different tastes, most of the Avos don’t do it for me. This one, on the other hand, was delicious. This cigar boasts a seven country blend, Ecuador wrapper, Mexican binder and fillers from Peru, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Brazil and Honduras. Yep, that’s seven, I counted. I really enjoyed this cigar, it was very good. Did I mention the size? It was the 6″ x 60 Special Toro, and the box press was very comfortable. It was creamy, with some wood and citrus notes, as well as some spice and bitter chocolate. This was definitely my favorite Avo ever. It’s sad that Avo isn’t with us any longer, and I hope Davidoff continues to pay homage to him by creating great cigars in his name.

 

SouthernDraw_QuckDrawPennsylvaniaFinally, I got home late last night and took a quick dog-walk with a Quick Draw Pennsylvania Petite Corona from Southern Draw. This is a 4½” x 44 cigar with a pigtail cap and a covered foot. This was perfect for my late walk. The Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper really has some oomph! It’s grown about 20 miles from where I live, so I’m drawn to cigars with Pennsylvania tobacco in the blend. Since this one had the pigtail cap, I skipped the punch and lopped off the cap with a Palio, and took torch to foot without toasting to get that blast of the PA Broadleaf that the covered foot offers. This was an hour of bliss, it had a nice kick, certainly satisfying and really quite a cigar. This is another cigar from Tabacalera AJ Fernandez. I don’t think I’ve had a Southern Draw Cigar that I didn’t like a lot. I’m sad that I missed Robert Holt on his recent swing through PA, I need to hurry up and become independently wealthy so I’m not stuck at work when all the fun stuff is happening!  This little cigar has a big flavor and had an impressive burn time, I think I spent about an hour with it!

 

That’s all for now. Thoughts continue to be with our friends in the Houston area, as well as the many friends we have in Florida,  which is being pummeled by mother nature as I write this. I hope everyone get through safely and with minimal destruction. Give what you can for the relief efforts, people need help.

 

Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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