Tag Archives: oliva

Orchant Seleccion, My Father Cigars and a Cain F Lancero

Oliva_Orchant Seleccion_ShortyFor the first time in several years I went through the week without worrying about a mid-week post.  Do you know what I did? I worried about it…this is going to take some getting used to!  So Wednesday, instead of writing a post, I smoked a Orchant Seleccion by Oliva Shorty, a 5″ x 50 robusto which is only available in the UK through C.Gars Ltd., and is alleged to be based on the Oliva Serie V blend.  I have now smoked all three vitolas in this line, and I think my favorite is the 4″ x 60 Chubby. I think this is ironic, in that it’s probably the least “British” size , but for me it was the most flavorful of the bunch.  Now, one caveat: I’ve had something going on where I’m getting a bit of an odd metallic flavor no matter what cigar I seem to pick up, and It may well have something to do with trying a new toothpaste (it should be called “teethpaste”, shouldn’t it? there’s a joke in there somewhere, but I don’t want to offend my readers in West Virgina). This might have caused the problem, and I’ve had similar things happen before. Fortunately, I understand that the problem is with me, and not the cigars. Back to the Orchant Seleccion by Oliva, these are tasty, and if you’re in the UK and can get to one of Mitchell Orchant’s retail locations (I hear they deliver in London too), give these a try. These are a great “new world” option for those looking for a change of pace from the typical UK diet of Havana cigars.  Thanks to Mitchell for sharing these tasty buggers with me.


11046704_1829390583739701_3906437041710664562_nThursday evening my wife and I went to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia to take in one of the last Flyers games of the season.  We got some great lower level seats for a good price, and watched another loss against a team that was also out of the play off race. Hoe a team can dominate teams that are above them in the standings, and suck against teams below is a mystery I suppose we will never have an answer to.  Anyway, as you’ve read here before, the Wells Fargo Center has a cigar bar where we watched the last 5 minutes of the game in a nice leather chair and a My Father Le Bijou 1922 Petite Robusto. On these occasions, I like to select a cigar that is just about long enough for the traffic to exit the parking lot, but not so long as to run into the traffic exiting the Phillies game traffic from the adjoining venue. This was just such a cigar, my first of this line, and I look forward to smoking it again. The Habano Oscuro wrapper was dark and oily and quite tasty. The cigar started with the signature Pepin Garcia spice and smoothed out into a rich, yet full strength smoke.  Of course, as always, I stopped on the way out to say hello to the great Bernie Parent, a fixture in the cigar bar there during home games. He was smoking his BSB by Rocky Patel, of course, and was joking around with fans like he normally does. Great cigar, nice time in the lounge, kind of a lack-luster game, but lots of fun.


imageSaturday we had the memorial service for my father, which was held at the church where he had been the choir director for 33 years. He had also been a high school vocal music director and adviser for 30 years, so he had a significant impact on the community. It was humbling to hear the outpouring of appreciation for his efforts. I can only hope to accomplish a fraction of what he accomplished in his lifetime during mine.  It was nice to see family that I haven’t seen in many years, it’s a shame that it takes occasions such as these to bring people together. When I got home, Macha and I took a nice long walk with a favorite cigar of mine, the Cain F Tubed Lancero. Frequently ligero is left out of the lancero vitola, it’s a thicker leaf, it burns slower than other primings, and causes more problems in that narrow format. In the Cain F case, the cigar is mostly ligero, and for some reason it’s  just about the smoothest, most well-balanced Cain cigar I’ve come across. the burn was perfect, the draw was perfect, and it is very flavorful, and switching teethpaste helped considerably as the flavors were what I expected with only a little of the metallic twinge that I was dealing with all week. These are hard to find, but generally well priced at between $6 and $7 each, and are well worth it. One small gripe about the Oliva website, they seem to ignore the Can and Nub lines on the main site, not even linking to the Studio Tobac site where the Cain and Nub info resides. Again, companies make it hard to find info, where they could very easily make it simple. I happen to really like the Cain line-up, but this Lancero is the best of the bunch.


Please take a moment to visit some of our new (and not so new) site supporters by clicking on their graphics on the right and left sides of the page. Our latest additions are GetTheSmokeOut.com, GlobalCornerCafe.com, ItalianSmokes.com and ThompsonCigar.com.  Of course I’d like to thank these latest supporters, as well as the rest of my loyal and long-time supporters. All of these companies help me do what I do, and I appreciate their confidence and assistance. I make it  point of only advertising for companies I like and respect, so they all have my stamp of approval for whatever that’s worth!


It’s a beautiful day, finally, so I need to go try to get some things done in the yard that I’ve been unable to do due to the weather, so I’ll keep an eye out for something interesting to fill the mid-week void. Feel free to follow me on Instagram, Twitter of Facebook to catch my daily smoking ritual.  Until the next time,






Filed under Review

Ezra Zion, East India Trading Co. Classic Cigar and an Orchant Seleccion by Oliva

With all the talk of the lifting of Cuban Embargo, and all the speculation that goes along with it, it got me thinking about what happens when the embargo is actually lifted and Cuban cigars make their way to US retailers shelves. Of course, there will be a huge number of people who want to try what was the forbidden fruit, and the Cuban cigar industry will be struggling to meet the demand.  It seems to me that opening the US market will effectively double that demand. One point I never hear discussed is that Cuba struggles now to meet the global demand, and Cuban cigars, as they are now, need to rest for a good couple of years before they reach their potential.  I can see the initial deliveries of cigars being fresh, and potentially turning off the new smokers out to try that which hasn’t been available for the last 50 plus years, due to the cigars not being ready. This theory of mine also supposes that Cuban cigars will come in at the same quality that they are at now, not that they will be rushing poorly grown and processed leaf to the factories to crank out an additional several million cigars to meet the demand.  If the embargo is a few years from being lifted, the cigars will be another few years until they are really ready to be smoked!  Just a few thoughts that roll around my head as I’m listening to speculation being bandied about!


EzraZion_FHK_TruthSo Monday, after struggling mightily with a migraine on Sunday, I reached for an Ezra Zion FHK in the Truth size. This is a 7″ x 44 cigar, a long lonsdale, or fat lancero, I’m not sure which.  This cigar is in their Honor series, and the FHK stands for Fathers of Hoover and Kelly, a tribute to the forefathers of the founders of Ezra Zion cigars (who, incidentally, also founded The Cigar Federation website, Kyle and Chris, not their forefathers).  It’s a beautiful box pressed cigar with a Mexican San Andrés wrapper, Indonesian binder and fillers from Nicaragua and Brazil, made at the Placencia factory in Esteli.  This was a very enjoyable cigar, smooth with a nice espresso flavor, lacking the rough edges I generally associate with the Mexican leaf. I’m  sure the Brazilian leaf helps to temper that some, and while I’m not a fan of Indonesian tobacco, it’s pretty neutral and doesn’t detract from the blend. It’s a very nice smoke, like most of the cigars I’ve smoked from the Ezra Zion line.


EastIndia_The Classic Cigar - Havana BlendRobustoTuesday I found myself in one of my “I don’t know what I want to smoke” moods, so, after some rummaging around I decided to choose an East Indie Trading Company Classic Cigar Habano Blend Robusto from a box which was a recent gift from the folks at Gurkha (many thanks!). I’ve smoked a few of this cigar in the toro size, and it was a good smoke, but this one surprised me with a minty quality. It was quite refreshing and unusual. It’s another box pressed cigar, measuring 5½ x 52, and my main complaint was that it smoked a bit too fast for my liking. I suppose that was a good thing, since I wanted to watch the Flyers play the Penguins, which was a very entertaining game. So I had a full evening of entertainment, first with a cigar that was very refreshing, then with a great fight, where a hockey game broke out!  I’m very interested to see if that cool, refreshing mintyness is present in more of these. If you’ve smoked this vitola, please let me know in the comments if you got the same sensation.


MitchellOrchant_OrchantSeleccionOliva_ChubbyTonight I knew exactly what I wanted to smoke, it was just a matter of choosing a size.  Last week, Mitchell Orchant, of CGars Ltd. in the UK, released his Orchant Seleccion by Oliva in three sizes, Skinny (5 x 43), Short (5 x 50) and Chubby (4 x 60,).  in boxes of 10 and limited to 500 boxes per size. Mitchell is the UK distributor for Oliva Cigars, and this series will only be available in the UK. I chose Chubby, it being a very American thing to do, I think, as I don’t imagine the 60 ring as as popular in jolly ole England as it is here.  Word on the street is that this is based on the Serie V blend, although the wrapper is lighter in color and rather flawless in appearance. The wrapper is Ecuador Sumatra, like the Serie V Melanio, with Nicaraguan filler. It smoked very smooth and flavorful, really a delicious smoke that I feel bad about telling you about since it’s damn near impossible to get on this side of the pond. The construction was perfect, the draw was open as a non-plugged Havana cigar generally should be, and it was a very enjoyable smoke.  I look forward to Mitch releasing his Inka line of Peruvian puros here in the US, but in the mean time, I will certainly enjoy smoking this exclusive Orchant Seleccion Oliva cigar, as I’m certain it will be a hit in the UK, especially at the modest price points comparatively (the most expensive in the line being around $15 USD, in the land of very expensive cigars).  Thanks to Mitchell for sharing these fab smokes! Blimey, it was the dogs bollocks!


Please join me in welcoming Stogies World Class Cigars to the CigarCraig.com family!  For as long as it appears on their ad on the left sidebar, there’s a 10% off coupon code,  Craig10, you can use, and they also offer free shipping!  They love lanceros there and have several shop exclusives, and will soon have the Fratello lancero to add to their portfolio.


That’s it for today’s installment! Until the next time,





Filed under Editorial, Review

A Mardi Gras, a Cain, a CigarCraig Safari Blend and a La Sirena

MardiGras_TorpedoLast year at the IPCPR show a little corner booth caught our eye, primarily due to the model they had working there. Oddly, my wife was the one who talked to her while she was getting in costume. Call me a cigar geek, but I’m afraid I get distracted by all the cigars at the show. Anyway, this young lady was IMG_0693representing Mardi Gras Cigars, which is a house brand of The Huntington Humidor in Huntington Village, NY. They call the Mardi Gras their own special, extra aged Double Ligero Corojo creation, and I smoked a corona at the show which was a pretty nice smoke, and came home with a torpedo and a corona. I finally smoked the torpedo on Thursday evening. I’ve already told you all I know about the blend, and the flavor was very nice. The construction gave me some problems as it refused to burn right. I had various issues including requiring frequent re-lights, poor draw and uneven burn. MardiGras BoxesIt’s almost as if the cigar was over humidified, but it was in the humidor since July of last year and I’ve smoked countless other cigars from that humidor.  I’ll have to give the corona a try one of these days, maybe it’s just a torpedo thing.  There aren’t many things more disappointing than struggling with a cigar.


Cain_NubFriday evening called for a great cigar, first because it’s Friday, and second because Thursday’s smoke was less than satisfying.  I was digging around for a shorter smoke and I came across a Cain Habano 460 which was given to me by Sam Leccia (who, at that time, was still with Oliva) at the 2011 IPCPR show.  I had forgotten about this (as well as a 4×60 Padilla Reserve Maduro Short Robusto…tough decision!). The Cain was what I was craving so it got the nod. I like Cain Habanos with some age quite a bit. This is one line where the maduro seems to be at the bottom of the list for me.  I don’t quite know why that is, but I prefer the Cain F, Daytona and Habano much more.  This cigar burned perfectly and tasted great.  Of course, when you choose a 4×60 and think it’s a short cigar, it’s short in length only, not necessarily smoking time. This size can certainly smoke longer than a robusto unless you have really fat fingers!  I suspect these are readily available now, when it was given to me it was something of a rarity.  This was a perfectly satisfying smoke.


CC_CigarSafariBlend2013Saturday we finally had some warm weather!  It was in the 50s all day and some of the piles of snow are starting to get a little smaller, and some of the tree limbs that came down in the ice storm a few weeks ago are re-appearing.  Those will have to get cleaned up soon!  I took a nice, long afternoon walk with one of the cigars I blended at CigarSafari last year.  This blend consisted of a San Andreas Negro wrapper with a Cameroon binder.  I used Brazilian Mata Fina, some Ometepe and Jalapa Ligero  in the filler. After 10 months in the humidor these haven’t changed too much. The first half is a little dry, I like the flavor, but I may have been over ambitious and have too much going on, the flavors fight with one another too much.  The second half mellows out to what I wanted it to be, a smooth and chocolate barrage of flavor.  I think sticking with a neutral binder is the way to go for me.  I don’t really care how the cigar tastes though, every time I smoke one I’m reminded of an exceptional experience in Nicaragua.


LaSirena_TridentAfter dinner, which was take out from a fairly new fish place specializing in  North Carolina style cuisine, Triton Seafood, I fished out a La Sirena Trident again.  I really have to bury this box or it will not last the summer.  Once again, this is a Churchill sized cigar with a Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper, double binders of Nicaraguan Corojo and Habano and fillers of Nicaraguan Criollo ’98 & Nicaraguan Corojo ’06, all rolled at Pepin Garcia’s My Father factory in Esteli. How can you go wrong with that recipe and pedigree!  It is, indeed, a delicious cigar.  I love the dark, lush flavors and the construction is top notch.  I definitely have to move this box to the bottom of the coolerdor, it’s much to easy to reach in and grab one in a moment of indecision, and I have hopes of enjoying more than one of these in the pool on a hot summer day (perfect given the aquatic theme)! By the way, the Fish and Chips was pretty good, although we probably should have eaten in instead of taking it home as it would have been better piping hot! Their hush puppies were delicious!


That’s it for now. It’s another 50-something degree day, so I want to get out and clear some more of the snow off the patio before tonight when it goes and rains/snows again.  My back hurts, but it’s nice to be outside without freezing!  I’ll have to find some interesting cigars to smoke today…


Until the next time,





Filed under Review

My Sunday Visit to The Cigar Inn in New York City

Sunday I found myself in New York City with a few hours to kill and made my way to The Cigar Inn on 2nd Avenue around 54th street. This place came highly recommended and I hadn’t been there before, so it seemed like the right choice. I arrived at about 9:30 which was about an hour and a half early, so I wandered to a nearby McDonalds and had breakfast and sat down to fix Sunday’s post that I goofed up! That’s what happens when I deviate from my schedule and pre-write a post. I got it fixed for the most part, apologies to 838100927those who had to suffer through the less than optimally formatted post. Anyway, I headed back to The Cigar Inn right on time for their 11:00 opening time. If I have one complaint about this shop it was that it was late opening. It’s kind of a pet peeve of mine, if your sign says you open at a certain time, you should be open! I understand stuff happens, and the weather lately has not been exactly cooperating. I sucked it up and was happy to come in out of the cold when one of the owners arrived to open shop. As I had some time to look at the storefront while I waited, I noted that there was a small cigar store Indian, some shaving equipment, and some hats and shirts, no real evidence of cigars present, except for the name on the awning. Is this how the future may be?


Once inside, the store is really beautiful, lots of dark wood and leather. There’s a generously stocked walk in humidor to the left, and the counter on the right. Just past the humidor there is a fully appointed barbershop with two antique barber chairs and sinks. Just beyond that there’s a shoeshine stand on a raised platform. From there back there is a large bank of humidor lockers with tables and stools in front of them. The Cigar Aficionado branded lounge takes up the back of the store with comfy leather seating and several TVs. The back of the store has an atrium kind of feel with floor to ceiling windows looking out on a garden sort of area. Classical music is quietly playing in the background lending even more class to the place.


IMG_1193I bought my day’s supply of cigar from Bacz (I believe that was his name), who recommended their house brand and offered me the Brooklyn size to try. This is a 6″x60 with Nicaraguan fillers, a Honduran binder and a wrapper from Peru. This is a very nice smoke. It had a unique flavor, not your typical house blend, I think that the Peruvian wrapper really adds a flavor that sets it apart. It reminded me a little of  the C-Gars Ltd. Inka Secret Blend from the UK. It was obviously my first cigar of the day and it wasn’t too heavy, but it wasn’t mild either. Loads of pleasant flavors, smokes very well with perfect construction and burn (I gave it a V-cut). I ended up going back and buying another Brooklyn and the 5″ x 60 Bronx.  They were out of the smaller ring gauge sizes. At $9 in NYC, you have to try it if you find yourself in a Cigar Inn Shop.


IMG_1197I smoked a La Aroma de Cuba Monarch next, followed by the new Camacho Corojo Maduro toro, both I found to be pretty reasonable by NYC standards at around $8 each.  Oddly, and I have to wonder if the first cigar may have had something to do with this, but both cigars had an “ashy” taste to them. I will need to revisit both of these because neither were very enjoyable, and they should have been. It’s a Winston cigarette kind of taste, which certainly may not be something everyone can relate to, but that’s how it struck me. I get the same sensation from Cuban Cuaba and Victor Sinclair cigars. I will IMG_1198say that it didn’t detract from the ambiance of the lounge, and I smoked the Camacho in the company of Matthias Clock, who writes the FineTobaccoNYC site. I had corresponded with him in the past and dropped him a note that I’d be in town. He was gracious enough to take some time to meet up with me and hang out for an hour or so. I always enjoy meeting peers in this endeavor of cigar smoking. Matthias organizes cigar events in New York City, so if you’re in the area check his site for the latest goings on.  All in all, I had a nice, relaxing day in the big city, just hanging out and smoking cigars.  If it hadn’t been so frigidly cold I might have been tempted to break some laws and have a cigar in Times Square or Central Park!


On a related note, last night I smoked an Inferno Flashpoint, a Famous Smoke Shop exclusive made for them by Oliva.  From the website:

Inferno_FlashpointInferno Flashpoint cigars are the sister act to the original Inferno by Oliva. The core blend consists of perfectly fermented, estate-grown Nicaraguan ligero longfillers balanced by a healthy dose of sweeter Jalapa-grown leaves, deftly wrapped in an exquisite Sumatra leaf. Expect a medium start that blooms into a creamy, complex, full-bodied flavor bomb. Order a box now, or test drive a 5-pack and discover this affordably-priced selection that will spread like wildfire among cigar lovers.

This cigar is a winner. The flavor was very clean, that’s what kept coming to mind. I really enjoyed the creamy flavor and smoked it until I could no longer tolerate the juxtaposition of freezing/burning fingers. As it says above, it’s smooth and creamy, but loaded with flavor. The burn was perfect and I never had to touch flame to it after the initial lighting. From the name you might think this would be a knock your head off spice bomb, but it’s not. It’s a rich, satisfying experience. Thanks to Travis at Famous for allowing me to experience these!


That’s plenty for now.  Heading out to NYC again tonight to attend “The Official Memorial Tribute To Sid Bernstein – Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of “The Beatles’ Historic First Concerts at Carnegie Hall” Presented by The Bernstein Family and Sid Bernstein Presents…” at The Cutting Room.  Won’t be a cigar journey this time, but will be pretty incredible anyway.  Hopefully the impending snow storm tomorrow doesn’t get in the way!  Until the next time,





Filed under Review, Stores, Trip Report

An Ora Vivo, a Macanudo, a Padilla and the Gurkha Cigar Contest Winner!

Wow. Monday was a huge day as far as website traffic and comments went. It actually eclipsed my best day ever, last December when I was giving away a bunch of Drew Estate cigars and swag! I seem to have severely underestimated the Gurkha Nation, they are a force to be reckoned with! We have a crazy number of entries, stay tuned for the winner announcement after we talk about a couple cigars I smoked this week!


OraVivo_7x58Sunday afternoon I took a really long walk with a Ora Vivo Armand Assante 7½” x 58. This is a cigar that was released that the 2013 IPCPR show by Victor Vitale’s Legacy Brands. I published a story and video about it here. This example was a gift from my dear friend Mike Perry up in New York State, and I’ve since purchased a robusto while I was in New Hampshire a few weeks ago. Who would have thought I would smoke this great big cigar before the much more manageable 5” x 54 in October when it’s getting cooler and the days are getting shorter! The one word which comes to mind with this cigar is “elegance”. The band is beautiful, the wrapper is flawless and the smoke is smooth and tasty. It’s an expensive cigar, but I smoked it for two-plus hours and enjoyed every bit of it. Another winner from Victor Vitale. This would be incredible in a lancero!


Macanudo Estate Reserve_NoIIIMonday evening I stepped out of my comfort zone a little and selected an IPCPR sample from the General Cigar booth. Macanudo Estate Reserve is the new ultra-premium offering commemorating the brand’s 45th anniversary.  Most Macanudos have a Mexican binder, this one has a Dominican binder that’s 8-10 years old, covered with a Connecticut Shade wrapper.  The cigar is beautiful to look at and burned perfectly, with an equally perfect draw.  The No. III I smoked was a standard 5″ x 50 with a perfect round head.  It was mild and smooth and not without very nice flavors.  At $14 a piece, it should be perfect, as far as I’m concerned, but I’m a picky bastard. These are presented in boxes of ten in individual coffins at retail.  It would make a spiffy gift for the guy who likes milder cigars, that’s for sure. It’s one of those cigars that I’m thankful to have the opportunity to smoke.


Padilla StudioTobac_FiguradoTuesday afternoon we settled on our old house, which had been on the market for the last year.  To celebrate, after my wife and I went out to a nice dinner, I pulled out a Padilla Studio Tobac Figurado which had been given to me by my favorite local cigar rep, Oliva‘s Mike Staiber.  This is a 6″ x 60 perfecto which was a joint venture between Padilla Cigars and Oliva’s Studio Tobac arm.  It uses an Ecuador Habano wrapper and Nicaraguan fillers.  To be honest, I expected to have my head blown off, but this cigar bordered on mild.  I’m not complaining, mind you, it was great fun to smoke and super tasty.  I never had to touch it up, and really had a hard time putting it down.  It was awesome.  This is another once in a lifetime smoke for me, probably, and it was worth the time spent smoking it for sure.  It was later than I usually go for a smoke, usually in that case I’d pick something smaller, but this was a celebratory smoke and I wanted something special. I got something special, it was delightful down to the tiniest nub (and I think I’m officially allowed to use the word “nub” since I’m talking about a cigar from the same manufacturer of the Nub line!) Thanks Mike!


Contest Winner

Gurkha Prize2_102013

OK, I know, everyone just wants to know who won the Gurkha prize pack I put together.  As I said earlier, the turnout was awesome.  We had 193 entries, almost doubling up the previous best showing.  If this is any Random_10232013indication, this Christmas contests is going to be pretty rough (for me!).  Anyway, I plugged 193 into the Random.org random number generator and it spit back the number 65.  Give me a while to figure out who that was…..OK, I’m back.  The winner is Gabriel!
contest_10232013I need you to e-mail me your contact information so I can get this out to you.  I don’t want to have to chase you down!!  Thanks to everyone for entering! Contests are always a lot of fun, which is one of the reasons I torture myself and my family every December for 2 weeks! Many thanks again to Gurkha for making this possible.


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





Filed under Contest, IPCPR, Review