Tag Archives: La Palina

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,




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La Palina La Palina El Año 1896 and La Palina Illumination

La Palina has been a supporter of CigarCraig.com for a long time, I think they were one of my first advertisers, and I’ve enjoyed a great relationship with them. I’ve recommended them as gifts for people in the communications industry who didn’t have a clue about La Palina_ElAño1896Oscuro_Robustocigars, written about them in my Prime Living column, and enjoyed their cigars over the years. Their booth at the trade show was enormous the last couple years, and this year they had a dizzying array of offerings. I’ve only just started smoking some of the samples that Patrick Vivalo was kind enough to provide me with, and I started with the one that popped out at me from a packaging standpoint, the El Año 1896 Oscuro in the robusto size. This was a 5″ x 52 cigar, it also comes in a toro and belicoso, and has a tissue sleeve with the traditional image of Bill Paley’s Grandmother Goldie, which is usually on the band. the wrapper is San Andrés and is classified as Oscuro in the name, although it was a shade lighter than what I consider oscuro. It also has Dominican fillers and binder and  It has a slight box press, and a very interesting flavor. I’m going back a week in my recollections (I really need to start taking notes), but it had some earthiness and dark espresso, with a little spice and some cocoa. It was a cigar I very much enjoyed, and will seek out again. The construction was very good and it had an effortless draw. These are made at Abe Flores’ PDR factory in the DR.


La Palina_Illumination_BelicosoYesterday I went with another new-to-me La Palina, the La Palina Illumination. This one was in the Belicoso size, they offer it in a short robusto, corona and lancero also. This cigar is made in the El Titan de Bronze factory in Miami with wrapper and binder from Ecuador and fillers from the Dominican Republic. I guess both this cigar and the El Año debuted at last year’s IPCPR show, but have somehow eluded my notice up until this year. This was a fan-freaking-tastic smoke! This is basically the same blend as the Goldie except for the media tiempo being replaced by a ligero. This brings the price down and maybe gives it a little more oomph? I haven’t smoked a lot of Goldies, as they are priced beyond my comfort zone, but if it’s better than the Illumination I’d be very surprised. I could find nothing wrong with this smoke, it was smooth, with nice warm bread notes and a great construction. I nubbed this belicoso, it was very, very good.










That’s all for today, don’t forget to enter the contest to win some Big Papi cigars!  Until the next time,





Filed under IPCPR, Review

La Palina, Macanudo and Foundry Cigars, and the Contest Winner

LaPalina_Black Label_Petite LanceroI had a hankering for a La Palina cigar this week and chose a 6″ x 40 La Palina Black Label Petite Lancero that I bought last year at an event at a local shop. I’ve been a fan of the line for about five years or so, and tend to like the darker cigars in the line, although I fail to find fault with many of the cigars. The Black Label is made in the Dominican Republic at the PDR factory, with a Brazilian wrapper, Dominican and Nicaraguan binders and  Dominican and Nicaraguan ligero fillers. It’s a nice, stronger cigar with some great sweet and dirty flavors, very much to my liking. The 40 ring gauge format gives it some bite, burning a little hotter than the larger rings. This is one of my favorites in the range. Thanks to the folks at La Palina for their support over the last five yeas or so.


If you get a minute, take a look at the beautiful Saladini cigar cutters at Italian Pottery by Merchant of Prato.  Click the link here or click the graphic at the top of the right sidebar.  The Coltelleria Saladini knifemakers date back to the mid-19th century and make some beautiful items. Cool stuff!


Macanudo_Mao_RobustoIn honor of our contest this week I dug into the IPCPR samples of the new Macanudo Mao robustos. The Mao uses tobacco grown from seeds from the ’60s, from a varietal used in the original Macanudo, actually cross breeding it and growing in the Mao region of the Dominican Republic. I had the good fortune to have visited this beautiful farm back in 2011. This cigar had the typical excellent construction of a Macanudo, and was not mild, I put it right at medium, with a load of interesting flavors. It had a citrus-like acidity and some hayish earthiness. Yeah, I make up words sometimes. This was a limited release, and comes packaged in individual coffins, like several of the limited Macanudo Estate Reserve releases of the last few years, stunning packaging.  Worth a try, if nothing more than to see what magic can be worked with fifty year old seeds.


Foundry_Time Flies_550Tonight I gave blood voluntarily this time (regular readers will remember my last post where a stumble left me bloodied and sore), and after getting home and carbing up, I grabbed another General Cigar newbie, the Foundry Time Flies in a rubusto size.  This is another cigar that was made at AJ Fernandez’ factory in Esteli, it has a Habano 2000 Ecuador wrapper, and the binder and filler are Nicaraguan tobacco cultivated by AJ and his collective of Nicaraguan farmers. I’m already a fan of the vast majority of the output of General’s Foundry division, and this is no different, as a matter of fact, it may be the most widely accessible blend so far. It’s another medium bodied cigar, it has a nice spice and a smooth, rich flavors. The burn was perfect, like a cigar that would cost much more than whatever this cigar costs, wait, I have to go look….OK, I see these for $6.38 for a single at one outlet. I want to find other sizes of these to try, although my La Gloria Cubana/Foundry humidor is a little full right now, I need to do something about that. This and the AJ Fernandez made Hoya were definite highlights of last year’s IPCPR show for me.



OK, I need to select a winner for the goodies from General Cigar Co., a Punch Bobblehead, La Gloria Cubana scissors and a col Macanudo cutter. I have several cutters like this and really like using them, they seem to hold up well.  I plugged the numbers into the random number generator at Random.org and came up with the number 3. By my figuring, the third comment was from John Budka! Please send me your address so I can send you goodies, be warned, I am sloppy when I pack boxes, sometimes cigars fall in. Thanks again to Victoria and everyone at General Cigar Co.!


One last note: tune in to Kiss My Ash Radio Saturday because Kevin Shahan will be on talking about his CigarProp, a beautifully machined cigar stand that I’m proud to use, and you heard about it here first! Kevin has been a long time reader and friend, I hope Abe isn’t too rough on him! I kid. That’s all for now,  until the next time,







Filed under Contest, Review

Yargüera, Tatuaje, Padilla and La Palina Cigars

Yarguera_TorbustoI’m not  going to rail on about the FDA thing, although I will continue to make comments about it. I’m afraid if I start every post with a rant it will get old and the message will be lost completely. So I’ll continue to talk about the cigars I’m smoking, even though many of them won’t be available in a few years, and the people who made them will be destitute thanks to our government’s lack of anything resembling common sense. The first cigar I want to talk about is maybe the only one that could weather FDA regulation because it comes from Altadis, the Yargüera H. Upmann in the Torbusto size, a 5 ½” x 56 short torpedo with the same cinnamon bun cap like the Toro and Robusto in the line. The wrapper is shade grown in Honduras from a hybrid of Criollo 98 and a seed that came from Cuba in the 60s.  I was told when I picked this cigar up that the Toro and Robusto were perceived as better by the shop patrons, I suppose I need to try them now too. This wasn’t a bad smoke. It had some trouble staying lit, even though I had it in the humidor for about a month.  It had a pleasant enough flavor, which, combined with the fact that I paid $9 and change, kept me interested. As I said, I’ll give the other sizes a try, maybe the folks at the shop were right in saying the Torbusto wasn’t as good as the others. I will admit that there really hasn’t been much released under the H. Upmann brand over the years that had really excited my taste buds.


Tatuaje_TAA2015Friday I made a momentous life decision, which I’ll talk more about as things progress. No offense, but there are a few other people I need to tell before all of you! It doesn’t involve cigars except that I wand to smoke some great cigars to celebrate. So I grabbed the Tatuaje TAA 2015 that was a generous gift from reader Dan C. I was glad to have a chance to try this cigar again. I smoked one last year right after they hit the shelves when I found myself hanging out at The Humidour in Maryland for an afternoon. I really enjoyed the cigar, but, like the Henry Clay Tattoo I smoked there, it was a little bit wet, and they were both reasonably new releases at the time. So I was happy to smoke this after six or so months rest, and I have no doubt Dan keeps his cigars right.  What a perfect smoking cigar, a nice flat ember, and straight burn with an even burn, requiring no touch-ups. The flavor was wonderful, with that initial blast of broadleaf from the closed foot, through the espresso and cocoa flavors I love.  The only way to improve upon this cigar would be to offer it in a double corona size,  it was gone too soon.  Than you again to Dan for sharing this with me, it’s much appreciated. If the FDA gets its way, no more TAA cigars. Tatuaje cigars are working their way into my rotation.


Padilla_LaPilar_noSaturday was a rainy mess of a day, so instead of napping the day away I had a cigar on the porch. I’ve been making plans to go to the IPCPR show, and I realized I still had some samples from last year’s show, so I grabbed a cigar that Ernesto Padilla gave me when I met him. Funny I hadn’t met him before, so Victor Vitale introduced us as they are good friends and make cigars in the same factory. The cigar is a Padilla La Pilar Series No. 4 Robusto, a 5″ x 54 Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro wrapped, slightly box pressed little beauty. I enjoyed this cigar quite a bit as I sat in my enclosed porch listening to the rain and dreaming of a day with sun and warmth, it’s been a crazy spring here in PA.  This cigar was well-behaved and had a nice, nutty-woody flavor.  These are reasonable priced at about $5 a stick, even though it has two bands!  Don’t visit the Padilla website though, there’s something funky going on there, Ernesto is a graphic guy, it’s hard to believe he doesn’t have that squared away.  I linked to Famous’ website if you want further information.


LaPalina_Nicaragua_prereleaseLast night I lit up a pre-release cigar  that Clay Roberts of La Palina Cigars gave me a month or so ago when I met him at a Wooden Indian event. La Palina has been a great friend of the site for several years, and while I haven’t smoked a bunch of their higher end cigars (because I’m a cheap bastard), I really enjoy a bunch of the “normal” priced lines, especially the Maduros. So the unbanded cigar Clay gave me is a new La Palina Nicaraguan, which, I believe, will be released at the trade show in July. I hope so, because this was a spectacular smoke.  It had a dark and oily wrapper, and that’s about all I can tell you about the blend. I can tell you that it was loaded with dark flavors, the usual espresso/cocoa that I love, along with some spice and maybe some dark fruit. I can’t wait to get my hands on more of these. It will be a monumental shame if cigars like this one can’t be produced, or cost a fortune if they are, thanks FDA.  This new La Palina Nicaragua was exceptional. While I’m thinking about Nicaragua, when all the people in that country are left jobless due to regulation, who do you think their government is going to turn for aid? The US, or, worse, China, who is already putting a canal through Nicaragua to compete with the Panama Canal.  Should a Government Agency have the right to destroy foreign economies?


That’s it for now. I have a lot of things to worry about over the next few weeks, thank goodness I have a few cigars to distract me. We’re off the a Philly Pops show in Philly today, not sure if a Holt’s visit will be on the schedule or not, but we always have fun.  Until the next time,





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Filed under Review

An Epic, an EP Carillo and a La Palina Cigars Event

Epic_Habano5x52After last Sunday’s cigar adventure, I spent the beginning of the weeks going back to some favorites and cigars I’ve posted about recently, then sometime around Thursday I grabbed one of Dean Parson’s Epic Habano Robustos from the humidor and lit it up.  I will come right out and say it, the Maduro in the Epic line is one of my favorite cigars, it’s hard for me to not smoke them when I have them in the humidor. However, the Habano is right up there. This is a 5½ x 52 Robusto (I love that extra ½ inch!) with an Ecuador Habano wrapper, Dominican binder and Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers. All of Dean’s Epic cigars are rolled in the same Dominican factory where Kristoff cigars are made (and I’m at a loss for the name of the factory, but I’m pretty sure that’s right…). These hit the market in 2014, which makes me wonder why there’s still no mention of them on the website. The Habano for me was sweet with some cedar and spice.  I quite enjoy this, not quite as much as the maduro, but it’s a close second. I’ve found little fault with the Epic line in general, Dean is a cool cat, if you get a chance to meet him do it.

Friday I grabbed a E.P. Carillo Generosos Toro, which is an exclusive of Casa de Montecristo in Chicago.  This is weird, as much as I am a big La Gloria Cubana fan from way back, I’ve not smoked a great many EPC cigars. It may be because the first couple I smoked didn’t really “wow” me, but there have been a few recently that make me want to dig deeper into the line. I’ve had great success with the Robolo size made for Best Cigar Prices.  This toro is 5 7/8″ x 52, with a rosado-ish Ecuador Sumatra wrapper, Dominican binder and Nicaraguan fillers. It’s a solid medium in strength, had a lot of woody, nutty flavors and burned quite nicely. These have been around a few years, and I wish I had known about these when I visited the Casa de Montecristo shop in Chicago a couple of years ago, although I’m sure the Chicago pricing would have scared me off. this was a very nice smoke, thanks again to Craig at CDMCigars.com for sharing it with me.


WoodenIndian-LaPalinaYesterday it snowed pretty good for the majority of the day. Fortunately, since it’s spring in PA and the ground has been warm, it didn’t really accumulate all that much and the roads were fine. I took a trip over to the Wooden Indian again for a La Palina event. La Palina has been on of this site’s longest and most loyal supporters, of course I wanted to show up and pay my respects (and restock some favorite cigars). I finally got to meet Clay cigarcraig-clayrobertsRoberts, the COO and co-president of the company, who has been a notable name in the industry, having worked with Rocky Patel, AJ Fernandez and Alec Bradley prior to making the move to La Palina. I’m surprised we hadn’t met before, but that’s probably due to my own negligence.  So, as you would expect, I picked up some La Palina Maduros, which fall under the El Diaro line and are made at Raices Cubanas in Honduras. I lit up the 60 LaPalinaMaduro60Maduro, which is their 6″ x 60, and was  quite happy. This is a great San Andrés wrapped cigar, very dark and oily and delicious. It’s got a Honoduran binder and  Nicaraguan Corojo and Criollo fillers. I had a bit of a time getting the wrapper to burn at the start, but that was quite possibly an environmental issue which some time in the humidor will surely fix. Sweet with some spice, like the Epic Maduro mentioned above, I have trouble keeping my hands off these. It seems like many of my favorite cigars are maduros, which has been the case for 20+ years! That doesn’t keep me from trying everything though.  Cigar events at the Wooden Indian are always top notch.


LaPalina_FamilySeries_BabeI also picked up a couple of the Black Label petite lanceros. Funny, I thought I had some of the Black Label robustos in my humidor, but to my surprise and delight, it turns out they were actually Family Series Miami Babes, which I selected for my evening walk after the snow stopped.  Now, if I had to do it again (and fortunately I will be able to), I would have selected a different cigar for this wintery spring evening. The Babe (5¼ x 50) is made in Miami at El Titan de Bronze, wrapped in Ecuador Corojo 98, an Ecuador Habano binder and Nicaraguan fillers. This is a refined and sophisticated smoke, with delicate flavors that would probably have been better represented in more comfortable surroundings. You can bet I’ve learned my lesson, and the other cigars in this line that I am fortunate enough to posses will be smoked in as close to ideal circumstances as possible. I’ve smoked very few of the Family Series, it’s just hard for me to open my wallet that wide, but I think they are worth it for a special occasion cigar, very well made and delicious.



I’m going to vent, and this isn’t going to go over well with a certain local (to me) cigar store chain, but I can’t hold it in. Said local chain has a show they do on local cable access (and YouTube) that is really terrible. I love the idea of having some cigar programming on mainstream media, don’t get me wrong, but it has to be of a sufficient quality, in both content and video/audio, to promote the cigar culture. Bufoonery, bad information (for instance, pulling a cigar out of a tube and explaining the white fuzzy blotches as plume instead of the mold that it obviously is) and simple things like a patron eating in the lounge outside of the room the show is recorded in don’t present the cigar culture positively. I was suffering through an episode last night and, thankfully, just as one of the presenters was showing one of the store specials and explaining that a particular cigar was not to her liking, the screen went blank and after waiting a few minutes I moved on to something entertaining. It would be one thing if this were only online where the audience would be largely cigar-geek types, but this is going out to the general public, who will either be mis-informed by watching it, or turned off by the off-color, juvenile comments and jokes. I don’t watch it because I can’t take it (and I’ve been invited to be on the show, that probably won’t happen again…). I could hold my tongue no longer.


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








Filed under Review, Stores