Tag Archives: IPCPR

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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IPCPR 2017: La Sirena Cigars

This is my last video from the IPCPR show, I had the opportunity to sit down for a few minutes with Mariah Ditkowich, the new face of La Sirena Cigars. What has been announced since the show is that Mariah’s sister, Arielle, who founded  the brand in 2008 with Nestor Miranda and Miami Cigar and Company, along with her husband, Max, is expecting their first child later in the year. I’ve been a fan of the whole portfolio for a lot of years, from the original La Sirena made by Don Pepin Garcia, then by La Zona, the Merlion made by La Aurora, and the Oceano made by the Quesadas. While they didn’t have anything new at the show this year, Mariah, along with her mother and father were manning the booth. Give the video a watch, it’s already my most watched video from the 2017 show, and number six on the all time list on my YouTube Channel. Of course, best wishes to Arielle and Max, and continued good luck to the folks at La Sirena, a great family run cigar company!

 

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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IPCPR 2017 – 1502 Cigars with Enrique Sanchez

1502_BlueSapphire_ToroAny time I have the chance to visit with my friend Enrique Sanchez from Global Premium/1502 Cigars is a good time, and I had to stop by and hang out with him at his booth at the IPCPR show. Don’t let anyone tell you stories about where the name 1502 came from, it’s because 1501 was taken, not the year that Columbus “discovered” Nicaragua. Enrique had a small booth adjacent to Island Jim’s booth, as he recently changed his distribution to the group handling the Leaf by Oscar, Island Jim, Oscar by Oscar and others. I managed to mooch a 1502 Blue Sapphire from Enrique at the show, which I smoked last night. One thing I noticed about this cigar that was difference from his Ruby, Emerald and Black Gold was the lack of his patented “flavor-lock” foot, where there is a fold of the wrapper covering the edges of the foot, it’s not a closed foot, but the wrapper leaf is somehow cut about an eighth of an inch longer and carefully folded around the foot. I’ll have to find some of these locally to see if the production cigars have this or not, and, after smoking the Blue Sapphire, I will be looking for more to have on hand. This is a 6″x 52 toro, which he calls Toro Gordo, but most Toros seem to be 6″ x 52 any more. It’s a Nicaraguan puro, and is a very tasty cigar. It’s similar to the others in the line in that it burns perfectly, but the flavor is quite different. It has some woody flavors, some cocoa and earthiness and is quite a nice smoke that builds in intensity. The other major difference is that this cigar is round, not box pressed like the rest of the line. Perhaps this explains the lack of the extended wrapper? I really enjoyed this, and will be picking up some more as soon as possible. If you ever get the chance to meet Enrique, do it, he’s cooler than the other side of the pillow, and he, with the help of his friends at Placencia, makes some great cigars.  Check out my short video with Enrique from the IPCPR show below, and “Relax and Enjoy” a 1502 cigar!

 

 

Don’t forget to go enter the contest to win some great Pulita 60 Anniversario cigars and goodies! I’ll announce the winners on Friday.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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IPCPR 1017 – Cornelius and Anthony Cigars

C&ABoothOf course, one of the primary destinations for me at this IPCPR was the Cornelius and Anthony booth, where I was welcomed by Steven Bailey, Courtney Smith and Todd Vance.  The first video I shot with Steven I was to find out, much to my dismay, had no audio, a problem that would rear it’s ugly head again (the great video I did with Matt Booth was sans audio, which didn’t come to light until I was home, nobody commented that it was silent, and a video interview with anyone with no audio sucks, especially with someone as CorneliusandAnthony_Cornelius_Lonsdaleentertaining as Mr. Booth). Steven was gracious enough to grant me a do-over, which is presented below.  Naturally, as my luck would have it, YouTube Live wasn’t cooperating that day either, but I usually have options.  As is apparent to the casual CigarCraig reader, I’m a big fan of the Cornelius and Anthony line, and was anxious to sample the newest offerings. Debuting at the show were two new lines and a new size in the Cornelius line, which is made at Al Titan de Bronze in Miami. This new size is a Lonsdale, a 6½” x 42 cigar with the same Ecuador wrapper and binder and Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers. I couldn’t help but smoke one this week.  I’ll make no bones about the fact that the Toro is my favorite in the Cornelius line, but I think the Lonsdale, due to it’s narrow ring gauge, has a little more bite, and might be perceived as stronger than the smooth and creamy Toro. It still smokes very well, like a high-end cigar should, and has the same rich, complex flavors that the larger rings have. Smaller ring cigars burn hotter and seem stronger because the flavors are sharper, so I smoked this slowly like I would a lancero. I very much enjoyed this cigar.

 

CorneliusandAnthony_Aerial_RobustoThe new offerings are the Aerial and Señor Esugars, adding a Ecuador Connecticut and Mexican San Andres to the line. The Aerial is an Ecuador Connecticut wrapped cigar with a USA binder and Nicaraguan fillers. Not a mild cigar at all, solidly medium to my palate, but an absolutely beautiful cigar. I smoked the Robusto, and it comes in Gordo, Toro and Corona Gorda, which are consistent sizes across the brand. I like the fact that they stick to the four classic sizes. The USA binder intrigues me as I know that the Bailey family has been growing tobacco for 150 years, one can’t help but wonder if this is something grown on their farms in Virginia or a PA or Connecticut leaf. Whatever it is, it works, as the smooth, velvety smoke has a sweetness and a hint of spice that is very pleasurable. The Aerial is a great addition to the Cornelius and Anthony line.

 

CorneliusandAnthony_SenorEsugars_RobustoThe Señor Esugars has the dark Mexican wrapper, with the USA binder (same as the Aerial?) and Nicaraguan fillers. This, along with the Aerial (Daddy Mac, Venganza and Meridian) is made in the La Zona factory in Esteli. The box has a great likeness of Steven Bailey’s dog Oscar, who Steven calls Mr. Sugars, sporting a derby, very cool imagery, another consistent theme. I just want to scratch that dog’s big, fluffy ears! Besides the cigars being great, the color and design of the bands and boxes appeal to me. Sorry, I don’t care how great a cigar is, if it has a crappy looking band it’s going to color my perception. Back to the Señor Esugars. Trade show samples and the fact that I’ve only let them rest for a couple weeks besides the point, this is destined to be a fantastic cigar. I would have like it to be a little drier, my fault, but it had some strength, and some rich, sweet flavors that are on the dark side that I enjoy. I want to smoke this with a Cuban coffee, I just rarely get the chance to make it. It’s another great addition to the line. I really have a hard time picking a favorite of the La Zona blends, Mr. Bailey and co. are really making some great cigars, they have the right people on board to present them and sell them. Super stuff, I’m glad they are on the shelves of some of the stores in my area, and I recommend them highly.

 

 

 

 

 

Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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IPCPR 2017 – Southern Draw Cigars

At the IPCPR show this year I finally had the chance to meet Robert Holt of Southern Draw cigars at his award-winning booth. The booth had an inviting back porch feel, and as I was standing at the booth waiting to introduce myself I met his in-laws (I hope I’m right remembering the relationships) who were helping man the booth. Lovely folks giving the Southern Draw company the family feel that is consistent with what I’ve heard of the company. When Robert finished he came and greeted me like an old friend, already knowing who I was. I can’t get used to being recognized, I was similarly surprised earlier in the week by Mickey of Blind Mans Puff, who is a long time reader and former contest winner. Anyway, as it was the end of the second day of the show, we agreed to meet first thing Thursday morning when the show opened.

 

SouthernDraw_RoseofSharon_GordoSouthern Draw featured three new cigars this year, the Jacobs Ladder, the Rose of Sharon and the Quick Draw with a Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper. I smoked the Rose of Sharon at the show, it’s named after Robert’s wife Sharon. Since I can’t really make any kind of judgments on cigars smoked at the show, I smoked another one last night in the Gordo format, a generous 6.5″ x 60.  The wrapper is Ecuadorian Sun Grown Connecticut (Ecuador has perpetual cloud cover, so the sun  grown description is accurate, but the wrapper is indistinguishable from a shade grown Connecticut wrapper). The binder and filler are Nicaraguan, based on the information on the website I don’t think there’s ligero in the blend. (edit: after watching the video again, Robert said that it has 25% ligero! Still smooth and flavorful!) As with all of the Southern Draw cigars, this is made at the AJ Fernandez factory. The Rose of Sharon is buttery smooth, with loads of flavor. It has the signature nutty/grassy shade wrapper flavor with a level of richness and depth that was really enjoyable. I enjoyed the heck out of the Rose of Sharon at the show, and even more on last night’s walk and for an hour or so after getting back.

 

SouthernDraw_Jacob'sLadder_GordoRewind to Thursday when I selected the Jacobs Ladder, again in the 6.5″ x 60 Gordo size. This new cigar isn’t yet listed on the company website, but it is listed at Famous Smokeshop, which says it has a PA broadleaf wrapper and Nicaraguan fillers specifying Esteli ligero and Ecuador Habano binder. The name is both a biblical reference and another family name as Robert and Sharon have a son named Jacob (middle name). The importance of family was abundantly clear in the IPCPR booth. I didn’t like the Jacobs Ladder.  I LOVED it. Holy crap this is a great cigar! Strength, flavor and balance like crazy. It’s not a morning smoke, or a cigar for the faint of heart.  The PA broadleaf (incidentally, grown in the next county to the west of where I live). It hit on my favorites, cocoa, espresso, with some spice and earth from the broadleaf. I appreciate the signature closed foot on Robert’s cigars, as it SD_JLgives an initial blast of wrapper flavor at the start, that is, unless you toast it like you would a finish footed cigar. I go straight to the mouth with the closed feet cigars so I don’t miss anything (let to a burn hole in a shirt once…). This is another gem from Southern Draw, I think that makes them five for five with me now, I dig the Kudzu, Firethorn and Quickdraws too (although I’m behind on sampling the Quickdraws, haven’t had the Connecticut or PA Broadleaf yet). Generally the cigars coming out of AJ Fernandez appeal to me and these cigars from Southern Draw are at the top of the heap. Well done, Robert Holt!

 

 

Speaking of Famous Smoke Shop, they have a new Cuban Cigars Hub on their site. Since it’s now permissible to buy Cuban cigars in countries where they are legally available (most) and bring them in to the U.S., The folks at Famous have put together this hub to further educate consumers on not only the cigars, but the rules and the history of the Cuban Embargo and all it encompasses. Head to http://cubancigars.famous-smoke.com/, there’s a lot of great information they’ve put together. 

 

MiQurida_MasSuciaFinally, I stopped in to my favorite local shop, the Wooden Indian, Friday night for there Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust event with Steve Saka. Of course, if my old friend Steve is in my ‘hood, I feel compelled to visit, buy his cigars and hang out and smoke with him for a while. As a bonus, his wife Cindy was there too. I smoked the new Mi Querida Mas Sucia, which is an enormous 7″ x 58 which generally more of a good thing in the Mi Querida line. It started mellow and built over the two and a half hours I smoked it. Odd that I smoked all very large cigars this week, but why not? I enjoyed them all! I also managed to score a never released Liga Privada No. 9 with a Connecticut wrapper with my purchase, which will be a very interesting cigar, considering it’s seven years old.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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