Tag Archives: Partagas

Sweet Jane, Cornelius and Anthony and Partagas Cigars

Sweet JaneIt’s still cold here in Pennsylvania, so instead of taking my cigar for a walk, I’ve been walking Macha first, then relaxing on the porch in the glow of the propane heater. Monday I felt like I was in the mood for something unique, so I selected a Sweet Jane from Drew Estate and Deadwood Tobacco. The Deadwood “Yummy Bitches” line is basically a variation on the Natural (or soon ” Larutan”). This line, along with the Natural, uses tobaccos from Syria, Turkey and Louisiana, wrapped in a Nicaraguan Maduro wrapper. I don’t recall the Sweet Jane having as much of the saccharine sweetness on the cap that the Natural ( I should get used to calling it Larutan, I’ll blame dyslexia), which for me is a plus. The Cigar has tons of interesting flavor with exotic spices and richness. Like Drew Estate’s Swamp Thangs, I like the variety and change of pace.

 

CorneliusandAnthony_Aerial_ToroLast night I did take a cigar as it wasn’t bitter cold. I chose a Cornelius and Anthony Aerial Toro, it seems that I like the Toros across the Cornelius and Anthony line the best. One might think that an Ecuador Connecticut Shade wrapper would crack in the cold, but I had no such problem. It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the brand in general, my least favorite in the line i like more than maybe 80% of cigars out there. As far as shade wrapper cigars go, the Aerial is up there with my favorites. It has loads of flavor and a great burn. Later in the evening I was honored to take part in Developing Palates Cigar Media 2017 Recap show, with Aaron and Jiunn, Charlie from Halfweel.com, Will from Cigar-Coop.com and Eric from CigaDojo.com. Obviously my style is quite different from the rest of the panelists, but I’ve known all these guys for several years. I hope I had some positive contributions. If you missed it live, check it out on Developing Palates or their YouTube channel, or listen to the podcast version (like I will). There was a lot of interesting discussion.

 

Partagas_Heritage_RothschildTonight I returned to my walk first, smoke later plan, fingers get cold trying to smoke even with gloves on. I gotta get some electric gloves or something. The upside of doing it his way is I get to smoke some of the robusto and Rothschild size cigars that used to be my go to size, but more recently I’ve had more time to enjoy larger vitolas. I’ve been wanting to revisit the Partagas Heritage Rothschild, so tonight presented a perfect opportunity. What’s interesting to me about the blend is the Olancho San Augustin wrapper ( CAO OSA Sol, Cohiba Blue) over a Connecticut Broadleaf binder, with fillers from Dominican Republic, Honduras and Mexico. This another tasty little bugger, rich, chocolaty with some spice. It has a fairly long finish, which I’m still enjoying as I type. The Honduran wrapper is fairly neutral in my opinion, but the rest of the blend is where the flavor is.

 

That’s all for now, I can’t think of anything else to drone on about. Until the next time,

CigarCraig

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A Partagas, an Alec Bradley and a Big Papi Cigar Contest Winner!

It was a rough week for me, as the last week of August always is. Not to complain or anything, but growing up having an end of summer birthday sucks almost as much as a Christmas birthday, at least for me. It signals the end of summer, and as the years progress time passes faster and faster, so summer went by in the blink of an eye. I guess if you don’t like summer, it’s not a big deal, but I love summer. On top of all that, I was plagued by migraines for some reason. So it wasn’t a great week, no reason to dwell any further on that, it’s time to move on. I managed to smoke a couple great cigars this week, and I need to pick a couple Partagas_SeriePNo2winners of the Big Papi by David Ortiz cigar prizes.  So, for my birthday I was conflicted, should I smoke a known favorite cigar or smoke a “special” cigar and risk disappointment? I took the risk and went with a Partagas Serie P No. 2 Havana that probably came home with me from a wedding we attended in London in 2006 (this very weekend, actually, (Happy Anniversary Karyn and Mitchell!). The Hunters and Frankau rep was  handing these out, and the grooms father stuffed a few in my jacket pocket. So this Havana cigar had been in my humidor for 11 years, should have been plenty of time to recover from its journeys! I was quite surprised by the floral qualities this cigar had, it was really delicious and entertaining to smoke as it was never boring with the interesting flavors that it presented. It burned perfectly too, with a great draw, which is a plus. It turned out to be a great choice and a very good smoke, quite different from my regular fare as well as being different from what I remembered and expected.

 

 

AlecBradley_BlackMarketEsteli_RobustoYesterday I was migraine free for the first time all week, so I dug into the IPCPR samples and found the new Alec Bradley Black Market Esteli, their newest edition to the Black Market line. This cigar comes in  Churchill, Gordo, Robusto, Toro, Torpedo sizes, of which I smoked the 5″ x 52 Robusto. It has a Nicaraguan wrapper, a double binder of Nicaraguan and Honduran and Nicaraguan fillers. I need to further explore this line, but this just might replace the Nica Puro as my favorite Alec AlecBradley_BlackMarketEsteliBradley cigar. It was very rich and satisfying, the burn and ash were simply beautiful, and it had unique and interesting flavors that appealed to me. There was a sweet spice that I rarely taste in a cigar and it makes me smile when I do. I smoked a few other cigars this week, a little CLE corojo from 2014 that wasn’t appealing, and a Mombacho Liga Maestro that was very leathery, too much so for my taste, I’m afraid. These are both lines that I feel like I should explore further, on the CLE side, even though I’ve known Christian for 20 years, the cigars I’ve smoked from CLE haven’t tripped my trigger, the Asylum line I like, but I guess I just haven’t smoked enough of the CLEs. I’m late to the party with Mombacho and need to smoke more of their cigars. As far as the Alec Bradley Black Market Esteli, that’s a winner for me! See below for some pictures from IPCPR of their latest offerings.

 

Alec Bradley has added some nice accessories this year too, as well as some small format cigars. I’m looking forward to checking out the new Prensado Lost Art as well.

 

Contest!

Big PapiOK, it’s time to wrap up the series of contests featuring cigars from El Artista Cigars, we had a huge Exactus Super Colosus, the Pulita 60 Aniversario and finally, the Big Papi by David Ortiz, which I’ am about to announce the winners! Thanks to Carolyn and Keith for making all this possible! We will have two winners, one gets a five-pack of Big Papi cigars and a lighter, and the grand prize is a box of 20 Big Papi cigars! The runner-up is Matt Hopper! The grand prize winner is (drumroll please)… Randall Simon! I’ll need both of you to send me your addresses so we can get these out to you!  Thanks to all who followed and congrats to the winners! Stay tuned for more contests coming up! 

 

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

 

CigarCraig

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

CigarCraig

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Davidoff of Geneva, Partagas and Arturo Fuente Cigars

Thursday I had the privilege of attending a media event at the Davidoff of Geneva Brookfield Place shop in New York City for a meet and greet with Davidoff’s Global CEO,  Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard. We were instantly greeted by the attentive staff as well as Laura Peet, whose company handles the media relations for Davidoff. The shop is gorgeous, of course, only being about a year old, and Davidoff of Geneva NYClocated in a mall in the financial district with views of One World Trade Center from the comfortable lounge. I spoke with Hans-Kristian for a bit, but was unable to pry any secrets out of him. I asked about future Davidoff Lounge locations in the US and he was tight-lipped. When he spoke to the assembled crowd he said that they had just opened their 78th lounge, with seven of those in the US. The cigar of the evening was the incredible Chef’s Edition, which is a 6″ x 54 toro with a Habano 2000 wrapper, Ecuador Connecticut binder and a filler blend of San Vicente Mejorado Seco, San Vicente Mejorado Viso, Piloto Viso, and San Vicente Viso.  This cigar is a  collaboration between Davidoff of Geneva’s master blenders and six of the world’s most renowned chefs,  Peter Knogl, Cheval Blanc of Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois (Basel, Switzerland),  Renato Wüst of Bad Ragaz Grand Resort (Switzerland),  Ali Güngörmüs, of Le Canard HH Pageou (Münich, Germany),  Léa Linster of Restaurant Léa Linster (Frisange,Luxembourg),  Michel Trama of Relais & Chateau (Puymirol, France) and  Maria Marte of Club Allard (Madrid, Spain),with  nine Michelin stars among them. Amazingly, only four of the six chefs are cigar smokers. Here’s what Davidoff has to say about the cigar:

The Davidoff Chefs Edition is Davidoff’s version of a culinary masterpiece. Just like the perfect meal, it begins gently with complex layers of subtle flavors and builds up to a sublime and unforgettable crescendo. The wrapper is oily and smooth and everything about it, from its flawless composition to its elegant color, whets the appetite for the cigar’s initial aromas, both nutty and sweet. The flavors become richer and more uplifting in the second third, with hints of citrus, bloomy fruit, sweet corn and a refined aftertaste that is both oily and creamy. In the last third, the cigar’s beauty and vitality erupt into an intense, peppery yet meltingly sweet and gratifying Grand Finale, just as a gastronomic experience is crowned by a superb dessert.

Davidoff_Chefs EditionI smoked the cigar at the event and it was spectacular, and they had a spread of chocolates and hors d’oeuvres there that did compliment the cigar nicely. Some of the chocolate treats were amazing on their own. I missed the corn component in the cigar, granted a cigar event isn’t exactly best place to pick up subtleties, but I was talking with Greg Mattola of Cigar Aficionado who explained to me that to him it was more of a corn flavor one would get in a bourbon, something I have no frame of reference for. They were also sampling some Camus Cognacs, which I passed on, but they also had some very good coffee on hand. I am looking forward to smoking the Chef’s Edition again when I can really sit down and concentrate on it. Hans-Kristian did say that the next limited edition Chef’s Edition would feature input from American and Asian chefs. Davidoff has some very interesting thematic cigar lines. Rudy and his staff at the lounge were very attentive and this is a must visit if you find yourself in lower Manhattan. Prices were high, but it is New York, and it is Davidoff. It was a quick trip to the city for my wife and I, but we met a bunch of great folks including Ted Hoyt from Smoke Magazine and John Nubian of YRB Magazine,  and had a very nice time. My wife even enjoyed a Davidoff 2000 while there.

Partagas_Heritage_Rothschild

 

I could probably stop here and nobody would complain, but I did have a couple of cigars yesterday worth noting.  Yesterday I watched the second period of the Flyers game on the back porch with the new Partagas Heritage Rothschild, a 4½ x 50 cigar with the rosado colored OSA wrapper from Honduras, a Connecticut Broadleaf binder and a filler blend of Honduran Jamastran, Dominican Piloto Cubano and Mexican San Andres. This is is a cigar that is going to age well, not that it isn’t ready to go now. It has a spicy, tannin flavor that really wakes up the palate. The burn and draw are excellent, and the rounded head, a signature of cigars made by General Cigar, allows for pinpoint control of the cut, allowing a punch-like cut with a guillotine or scissors. I liked it, it was different from every other Partagas cigar I’ve had. The band could be better, a simple, red band with Partagas Heritage on it, from a distance it might look like the Partagas Serie D No.4 Habano, which is probably the point. Recommended, along with the Partagas Ramon y Ramon.

 

Fuente_HemingwayClassic_MaduroLast night I grabbed a lonely Arturo Fuente Hemingway Classic Maduro from the humidor. I was going to smoke a regular old Hemingway Classic Cameroon, but this Maduro had a couple of cracks that were concerning, so it had to go. I got a few of these on a visit to Holt’s in Philly last fall some time, and it traveled home with me on the train in a baggie and might have gotten dinged up a little. To the Fuente’s credit, these cracks, the most concerning of which ran from the band to the cap, caused absolutely no problems. I feared and explosion, and the only explosion I got was that great Hemingway flavor with the sweet broadleaf wrapper on top of it. It’s amazing that a cigar can taste the same year after year, which is why I feel compelled to pick up a few Hemingway maduros when I see them at Holt’s, which seems to be every time, and for the $6 or 7 that they cost it’s a no-brainer.  What put the Fuente bug in me yesterday was reading about the theft of a 40′ container of Fuente cigars, which really takes some planning, I would think, how does a whole container get stolen? Fuente’s are going to be in short supply for a while, I think, but the company has faced adversity before, and will overcome.

 

That’s enough out of me for today. Looking forward to another nice spring day, so we’ll see what gets smoked today!  Don’t forget you can follow @cigarcraig on Instagram and Twitter to see what I’m smoking, not that anyone should really care…Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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A Special Guest Article and a New Partagas and Joya de Nicaragua

I’m going to lead off with this great article Dan Colley wrote with some of his insight into the new regulations from his time working for the FDA. This covers the importation procedures, I’m hoping he offers more thoughts on the implementation of the regulations at a later date.

 

Many of you are likely familiar with my name. I am Dan Colley and have been a reader of and commenter to the CigarCraig blog for quite some time. What you may not know is that I am a retired Investigator and Compliance Officer for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). I left the Agency in the mid-1990s for work in the private sector. I have been retired now for about fifteen years I’ve been a cigar smoker since about 1967.

 

As someone who worked daily with the many requirements of the FDA, I have become intimately familiar with the import requirements that the law has put into place for many regulated products, from foods and drugs to medical devices, cosmetics and even tobacco products. The recent regulations that FDA has been charged with enforcing contain requirements that are new to the tobacco industry and I would like to provide you with some information about how those requirements will impact you, the cigars that you love to smoke and the tobacco industry in general.

 

It is important to know that the FDA and the U.S. Customs Service (Customs) work very closely together to enforce the various laws that regulate imports. Customs was first mainly interested in the collection of import tariffs, but as time has passed, they have joined their efforts with other Federal agencies who have authority over imported products. For example, the FDA has authority over foods, human drugs, animal drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, and tobacco that extend beyond taxes and tariffs. The procedures for allowing these products into the U.S. legally are essentially the same with very few differences.

 

I would like to briefly explain the physical process that imported products go through before entry into the U.S. The first thing that must occur when a foreign manufacturer wishes to import cigars into this country is that they make a declaration to the FDA and to Customs that a shipment is heading for the U.S. That declaration will usually tell those agencies what the shipment consists of, how it is arriving, where it will be offered for entry into the US and who the involved parties are. Typically, foreign manufacturers will use companies that consolidate shipments for ease and economy of transportation. When these freight consolidators are involved, they will make the required notifications to the U.S. agencies.

 

When the shipment arrives in the U.S., it is moved directly to what is called a bonded warehouse where it is held for government inspection. The consignee does not have access to the shipment at this point. Once the agencies are notified, policy dictates which path the shipment will follow.

 

There are several paths that are possible for these shipments to take. For example, some are merely “rubber-stamped” and allowed to proceed to the consignee without any action. This occurs when the agency has a long and successful relationship with the product and the manufacturer and has every reason to believe that the products comply with all requirements. That assumption is always based on historical data and not merely presumption.

 

Another path that imported products may follow is that of a simple examination. In cases like this, an inspector will go to the bonded warehouse and physically examine the shipment to see if it is what it is supposed to be and in the case of perishable items, the shipment is in good shape and not visually contaminated or adulterated. If no problems are identified, the inspector will file his paperwork with the FDA and the products is then released and may proceed to the consignee.

 

Since cigars do not meet the classic definition of “perishable goods”, they are primarily involved with what inspectors call a “paper chase”. Cigars require pre-market approval unless they were manufactured before the date that governing regulations were put into place, so it is not usually necessary to examine them for adulteration unless there is obvious physical damage to the shipment (eg: water damage, crushing, etc.). All the agency must do is verify that the cigars are either approved for sale in the U.S. or are ones that are “grandfathered” as being manufactured before the regulations became law. This is principally a paper exercise. FDA will review filings made by the manufacturer and will also examined specimens of the labels on the product to assure that they meet the requirements of the regulations. If they do, FDA releases the products. If they don’t, they enter the detention cycle.

 

The detention cycle can be involved and I will not delve into it very far. I will say that there are only a few possibilities for products caught up in this cycle. First, they can be denied entry outright and returned to the entity who shipped it. Another possibility is that the product may be reconditioned, if possible. This applies mainly to products with labeling non-conformances in which they may be brought into compliance by simply applying different labeling. There are other possibilities, but they are not generally applicable in the situation of cigars.

 

This rigorous inspection cycle will lead to a variety of other consequences as well. I’ve been told of people who order Cuban cigars from European retailers. They report that the shipments of contraband cigars arrive at their mailbox without any difficulty. This is likely because the shipper has a good relationship with U.S. Customs and its products proceed without examination. Now, with essentially every lot of imported cigars being examined as a result of the new regulations, this practice will likely come to a halt. Once an inspector sees “made in Cuba” on a box of cigars, all bets will be off. (Editor’s note: Many shipments of contraband cigars are not declared as cigars)

 

The bottom line is that if a cigar does not meet the letter of the law, it will not be allowed into the country. The process for making a cigar “legal” for domestic consumption is quite tedious and has not yet been completely defined by the FDA, but we can be assured, sadly, that it will be difficult and expensive for cigar manufacturers to import new blends of cigars into the country.

 

I hope that this has been enlightening for you. Since I have been away from FDA for quite some time, there are likely some differences in what they do with respect to regulated products, but I have learned from some former cronies who are still with the agency that the procedures remain essentially unchanged over the past 20 years.

 

Thank you Dan for that insiders look at the process! I think this is timely considering recent reports of cigar shipments being opened by customs, whole bundles of cigars cut in half and shipped on to the recipient as if nothing happened. Does it seem right for a government agency to destroy legal property and send it on with out so much as an apology? How is a retailer supposed to sell cigars that have been damaged like that, and they can’t return them for credit. This is where the new regulations are going to effect retailer’s bottom lines first.

 

Partagas_Ramon_y_Ramon_Single_Cigar EditI have a couple of IPCPR samples I wanted to talk about, first being the Partagas Ramon y Ramon Robusto. This line pays homage to Ramon Cifuentes, the founder of the Partagas brand, and uses tobacco that was grown in the Dominican Republic from vintage seeds from General Cigar’s library of seeds. The agronomists at General developed a process to regenerate these vintage seeds, and, if I recall, it takes several growing cycles to get a usable crop of tobacco with the right characteristics. The filler is composed of this special, old world tobacco, Nicaraguan Jalapa and Dominican Piloto Cubano, with a Dominican binder and a high priming Cameroon wrapper. This was one of the most interesting and enjoyable cigars I’ve smoked in a very long time. There was a spicy cinnamon flavor throughout the smoke which just kept making me think “wow, this is a delicious cigar!”. The burn and draw were perfect and the cigar had that signature round cap that General Cigar likes to use. This robusto’s size is a bit of a departure from the standard 5½” x 49 Partagas robusto, as they took the ring gauge up to 50. This a great smoke and the list price is in the $7.49-$8.99 range, very reasonable for a terrific cigar. Can you tell I was impressed? Photo is from General’s press kit, it was much better than mine!

 

JoyadeNicaragua_Joya Black_ToroAfter a visit to a newer local store, which I found to be rather lack-luster, with a poorly executed floor-plan and dirty and shabby lounge (although the company and the La Galera El Lector, a 6″x 54 toro which was really nice, but I failed to pay much attention to it), I had to break out the new Joya Black from Joya de Nicaragua. They are branding this along with the Joya Red and have re-branded the doble capa Cabinetta to fit the same design scheme. I’ve been looking forward to trying this San Andrés wrapped cigar since I heard about it. I probably could have chosen a better time when the ambient humidity wasn’t over 80%, as the cigar smokes a bit on the wet side. It had a great flavor though, I’ll be getting my hands on some more to smoke at the right moisture level. It was everything I want in a maduro, less the steamy smoke quality. Unfortunately, you can’t tell if a cigar needs to be dry boxed until it’s too late. Going back to the local shop I visited, it’s a shame that the owners of this chain did what I consider to be a half-assed job with this store. It’s in an area where an upscale, classy shop would do well, and it’s got more of a 7-Eleven feel to it. I hate to be so critical, but I was really disappointed in the place, but not surprised, based on some of the other stores in the chain. I’m sure my harsh criticism will be unpopular with certain people. On a positive note, the pricing was fine, the selection was not bad, although rather “safe”, and the cigar I bought and smoked there smoked well, despite the “store as a humidor” model (I wonder about the practicality of having a door to the outside directly into the humidified space, often they have to overcompensate for this and the cigars are wet).

 

That’s more than enough for now, I thought about breaking this up into two posts, but I am far to lazy for that on a Sunday morning. Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

 

 

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