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AJ-Booth-Caldwell, Hamlet and Todos Las Dias Cigars

AJF-Booth-Caldwell_ToroI smoked three cigars from the IPCPR show this week so far, and I’m not entirely sure any of them are on tobacconist’s shelves yet. I started with one of the cigars Matt Booth had at the show. Let me express my disappointment that the video I did with Matt had no audio, and what fun is that?  Not that Matt might or might not have visual aids, but his booth was a collection of arcade games and nothing else, and interviews with Mr. Booth are always informative and hilarious. Sad that the audio wasn’t there, I wish I had known.  Anyway, one of the cigars he had at the show was a collaborative effort with AJ Fernandez, Matt and Robert Caldwell, which was supposed to be called “Truth”, but a late trademark issue got in the way, and the samples he was handing out had the simple band pictured. I’m just going to call it ABC in the interest of brevity. So this is a nice box pressed 6″ x 52 toro and is a Nicaraguan puro, with a dark maduro wrapper. Upon lighting the cigar I quickly realized that if I Booth Swagwere to blend a cigar, it  would taste very much like this one. Regular readers will know that I love a cigar with loads of rich cocoa and coffee with a bit of spice. This one had some strength also, which was a perfect complement to the flavors. I loved it, I can’t wait to see what this evolves into. It’s a shame they had to abandon the name and packaging, but Matt is a creative guy, he’ll come up with something fantastic, like this cigar was.

 

Hamlet_25thYearLast night I tried the Hamlet 25th Year robusto from Rocky Patel. I liked the 5½” x 50 robusto, the slightly longer length appeals to me. This is totally different from the Tabaqueros that Hamlet produced a year or so ago for Rocky Patel, that cigar was Hamlet’s first foray into blending a cigar that wasn’t all Cuban tobacco, for those who don’t know, Hamlet Paredes was an ambassador for Habanos S.A. and traveled the world ding rolling events. I guess it’s accurate to say he defected from Cuba and found a home working with Rocky Patel. I loved the Tabaquero, and this new offering is very different, but very tasty. It has an Ecuador Habano wrapper, Pennsylvania Broadleaf binder and fillers from Honduras and Nicaragua. I thought it was, dare I say, Cubanesque in that it was on the milder side, but had a lot of good flavors, some vanilla creaminess, light fruit and chocolate. This is yet another cigar I look forward to trying again.

 

TodosLasDias_RobustoTonight I got an unexpected phone call from (I’m going to name drop here), Jose Blanco, who was in the  general area, but I wasn’t able to met up with him. In our conversation about cigars from the IPCPR show he mentioned Todos las Dias from Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust and how he thought it was the best cigar Steve Saka had made so far. I’ve had a single robusto from the show that Steve gave me as he was testing the internal humidity (see the video here), and I assumed it was from the “passed” pile. I figured tonight was the night to smoke it, it had been in my humidor since the show in July, the same humidor all the IPCPR samples were in and have been smoking well. The Todos las Dias is Saka’s first Nicaraguan Puro, with a Sun Grown wrapper and fillers from Jalapa and Esteli, rolled at the Joya de Nicaragua factory. I noted a couple ironies. First, the Dunbarton website lacks detailed information on this cigar, the Sobremesa and Mi Querida are detailed quite nicely, with only a passing mention of this and his other lines. This is very un-Saka. The second and more important irony was that this cigar smoked like it was over-moist. The humidor this has been in is at 68%, and I saw first had that the internal humidity of the cigar when it came into my possession was under 12%. Steve wasn’t handing out cigars that weren’t going to smoke perfectly. My only thought is that the heavy tobaccos in this cigar sucked up the ambient humidity when I took it out. It had rained here and was very humid outside. Flavor-wise, I see where this is a great cigar when it burns like it should, and as son as I see some in the wild I’ll grab some and try them under the right conditions. I’m particularly interested in trying the Double Wide Belicoso, which appears to use the same molds as Joya de Nicaraguas Gran Consul (I have some Rosalones in the same size too). Flavor was full, lush and yummy. I have to defer to Jose on this one for now, a Sobremesa El Americano I smoked Sunday was perfect.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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A Montecristo Pilotico and a Gurkha Cellar Reserve Cigar

Yesterday was April 1, and I was tempted to post an April Fools post announcing that I was changing focus to vapes, but I wasn’t committed to the plan enough to register vanderslicevapes.com and put the web pages together. Maybe next year…wait, I’ve given it away, haven’t I?  It would have been a lot of work and I didn’t have it in me yesterday and the idea didn’t come to me until yesterday. I did see some funny ones yesterday, though. Mark Weisenberger (I hope I spelled that right), the new VP of Marketing at Rocky Patel, and former Northeast sales manager, put out a press release about Rocky adopting Hamlet Peredes which was pretty funny. Of course, Fred Rewey of Nomad Cigars is a comedian, he announced his Nomad soap on a rope, is he planning on going to prison soon? Over on Halfwheel.com, Brooks continued his April Fools tradition of seriously reviewing absurd cigars, this time the 20″ x 80 La Aurora La Stravaganza. I think he’s still waiting for the smoke to travel the 20″ from foot to head! Happy April Fools! I failed to do any pranking at all yesterday.

 

Didn’t do a lot of smoking this week, instead I went to a Flyers game Thursday, in which they beat the Islanders mostly just in the first period, scoring 5 goals with two players recording Gordy Howe Hat Tricks! I had said there was no reason for me to go to the games any more since they closed the cigar bar and made the whole building smoke free, but we got tickets real cheap and hadn’t been to a game for a while. I loved it when they had the cigar bar there, it was preferable to go after the game and have a cigar while everyone else sat in their cars in the parking lot waiting to get out. Bernie Parent was always there to having a cigar, I wonder where he goes to smoke after the games now? So I took Thursday off, Friday it rained like hell and I decided not to go to a Romeo y Julieta launch event and camped out on the porch with a Montecristo Pepe Mendez Pilotico Toro. This was a re-do for me, Last September I wrote this:

Montecristo_PiloticoPepeMendez_toroAnother IPCPR sample was a new one from Montecristo, the Montecristo Pilotico Pepe Mendez in the Toro size. This toro is a 6¼” x 52, and has an Ecuador Sumatra wrapper, Dominican binder, and both Nicaraguan and Dominican Pilotico fillers. The Pilotico varietal is an old seed that Pepe Mendez brought from Cuba in the ’60s and revitalized in the Cibao Valley in the DR. There was some of  this tobacco in the Montecristo 80th anniversary cigar that was out last year. It was hard to find anything bad to say about this cigar, it burned right, it had nice flavors along the leathery lines, with a hint of sweetness. It’s one of those cigars that is, no doubt, a very good cigar, but not in line with my preferred flavors. There are a few Montecristos I really like, most on the mild end of the spectrum. The box is cool with an old-timey suitcase motif, paying homage to Pepe Mendez’ travels in the 60s to find the right area to plant his prized seeds.

The one thing that changed this time was that I found that I enjoyed the leathery flavors more than I did previously. Perhaps some humidor time helped, or, just as likely, I ate something different this time that effected my perceptions. Whatever the reason, I enjoyed the flavor of this cigar and will smoke it again without hesitation.

 

Yesterday I was rummaging through the humidor looking for something to smoke and I came across the tray with the Gurkha cigars. I seem to have amassed a load of cigars, not bragging or complaining, but it sometimes makes it hard to make a selection, especially when I want to smoke something and talk about it here without smoking the same rotation all the time and getting boring (which is what the FDA wants, by the way, so head to CigarRights.org and use their forms to write to your elected representatives). So I grabbed the Gurkha Cellar Reserve Platinum in their Hedonism size. Gurkha also threw out an April Fools funny yesterday:

 

GURKHA UNVIELS THE ROYAL COURTESAN

The $1,000,000 Cigar Is The Most Expensive Cigar Ever

 

Fort Lauderdale, FL – Gurkha Cigars has created the world’s most expensive cigar ever!  The handcrafted stogie retails for a cool $1,000,000 and is delivered to customers’ door by a messenger who will only handle the cigars with white (kit) gloves.  The cigar is infused with Remy Martin’s Black Pearl Louis XIII, which retails for $165,000 per bottle.

Created using Luxion Technology (luxion.com)

The cigars are rolled by a select group of hand rollers who are blindfolded throughout the process to allow their senses to guide their movements naturally and minimize distraction during this artistic process.  The cigar is made with filler from ancient lands in the Himalayas with tobacco that has been watered exclusively with Fiji water.  The wrapper is gold leaf and the band is encrusted with diamonds totaling five carats.

Created using Luxion Technology (luxion.com)

“The Gurkha clientele is use to only the best and Gurkha continuously produces only the best,” said Kaizad Hansotia, CEO of Gurkha Cigars.   “This cigar is only for those who want the most exclusive, most luxurious and most ostentatious experience a cigar can offer.”

Gurkha Cigars are known throughout the world for their premium and luxurious cigars, so it’s no surprise that they are the most sought-after cigars around the globe. Gurkha produces 12 million cigars per year that are sold in more than 70 countries worldwide. And while Gurkha is known for its exclusivity, it has an impressive array of 105 brands of flawlessly handcrafted, premium cigars created in a variety of strengths, tasting profiles, and price-points. No matter what your taste, there’s a Gurkha cigar that’s perfect for your palate. For additional information visit www.gurkhacigars.com.

 

 

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It’s a little unfortunate that it didn’t occur to me until after I read it that it was an April Fool, I mean, a one million dollar cigar from Gurkha doesn’t seem that implausible at this point, right? Anyway, back to the Cellar Reserve Platinum. I like the Hedonism size (I kind of identify with the name too), it’s a fat, pigtailed perfecto along the lines of the Feral Flying Pig from Drew Estate’s Serie Unico line, 6″ x 58. It’s got an Ecuador wrapper and Nicaraguan fillers and just a pretty straight-forward leathery/nutty profile to my palate. It was good, burned right and whatever factory makes these does a good job.  There are several cigars in the Cellar Reserve line that I like, and, for all the criticism Gurkha gets, I think their brick and mortar lines are pretty darned good.  (note: looking back it appears that I smoked this and wrote about it back in September of 2015, fortunately, I liked it then too! I smoke too many different cigars and can no longer remember them all!)

OK, both cigars were re-dos….sorry about that! I’ll work on smoking some more interesting cigars this week! That’s all I have for today, until the next time,

CigarCraig

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Tabaquero, Punch and Montecristo Cigars and a Contest

tabaqueroThursday evening I ended up smoking a Tabaquero by Hamlet Paredes from Rocky Patel in the robusto format after hearing an interview with him on the Smooth Draws Radio show (I think they ripped off me website design, at least in concept!). What a fascinating story this guy has, and a very interesting cigar! For a guy who was used to blending cigars with Cuban tobacco, that is to say not a great deal of variety, he made a very interesting blend of Nicaraguan fillers, Mexican and Brazilian binders with a Mexican wrapper. If this had some Peruvian tobacco in the blend it might just be the perfect cigar for me! This isn’t the first one of these I’ve smoked, although it is the first robusto, and it’s a cigar that I should put more of in my humidors. I love the  strong, straightforward flavors of sweet earth, cocoa and coffee, which is very rich and palate coating. This is probably my favorite Rocky Patel cigar, with the Super Ligero coming in second, although there aren’t a great many RP cigars that do a lot for me.  Great cigar for me, and I’ll continue trying other sizes. I may look at the new Sungrown next time I see it in a shop, I’ve heard good things.

 

I would have been talking about another cigar here, one that a co-worker gifted me a few weeks ago, but something weird and stupid happened about a third of the way into the cigar while I was taking my evening walk. For some reason I stumbled and did a face plant on the street, smashing the cigar, scraping my chin and nose, among other scrapes and bruises. Macha was there to lick my face and see if I was OK, which I really didn’t know if I was or not yet. This whole thing surprised me because I’ve been walking for a long time, and thought I had it down pretty good. So I came home, cleaned myself up, and grabbed a Punch London Club Maduro to try to wrap my head around this turn of events, it freaked me out!  Ironically, it was on this exact date in 2012 I wrote about the London Club, it what I like to think was a pretty good article comparing the Punch and Hoyo de Monterrey lines. Give it a read and let me know what you think. I still have a few of both the Hoyo Sabrosos and Punch London Clubs, they are great little 5″ x 40 cigars, is it a thin corona or a fat panatela?  The Punch has maintained it’s richness and full flavor over the five years they’ve been in my humidors. The Broadleaf wrapper is oily and flavorful and the burn was perfect. This was a great choice to ponder the evening’s events.

 

MontecristoYesterday was a beautiful day for mid-February, temperatures in the 60s, which is a good 50 degrees over what it could be. Still feeling out of sorts, I napped a bit, and hung out in the yard with Macha and a Montecristo White Vintage Connecticut No. 2 torpedo. This is a 6″x 50 torpedo with the taper such that it feels like a smaller cigar than that. This cigar is made in the Dominican Republichas a vintage 2008 Connecticut Shade (Grown in U.S.A.), Nicaraguan binder and fillers from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Peru. I do like cigars with Peruvian tobacco, and I like this cigar, although I think I like the Double Corona (really a Toro, but OK) a bit better. It’s a milder cigar, with that grassyness you’ll get from the US Connecticut Shade wrapper, and a nice little spice. Certainly a quality cigar, and a good mid-afternoon choice.

 

Contest!

ContestIt’s been a while, so let’s give some goodies away!  Since I had Punch on my mind, I have a Punch Bobblehead, along with a Macanudo branded rubberized Colibri cutter and a pair of La Gloria Cubana Branded scissors. It’s always possible some cigars might fall into the box when I pack it up too, I get sloppy that way sometimes. Leave a comment here to enter, I’ll pick a winner on Wednesday! Usual rules apply, one entry per person and only comments here on this post will qualify.  Must be of legal smoking age to win.  Thanks to Victoria at General Cigar Co. for the giveaway goodies!

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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A Short Story, a Big Payback and a Couple Rocky Patel Fifty-Five Cigars

Fuente_ShortStory_MaduroFinally over the sinus thing for the most part, I trust my taste buds again, without question, and I know this because I smoked a Fuente Short Story maduro Thursday that was just a wonderful little cigar. I’ve had this in my humidor for a while, I figured since I just got some maduro Best Sellers, and I got off to a late start, this 4″ x 49 perfecto would be perfect. The Short Story has been around for as long as I can remember, which, in cigar terms, is a little over 20 years. It’s a cigar my wife would smoke when she enjoyed cigars. Back then it was just in the Cameroon wrapper, and is still a delicious cigar. The maduro has a broadleaf wrapper and has a little “dirtier” flavor to me, which I love. It’s rich, earthy and dark chocolaty. I have various Hemingways in my humidor, it seems I buy the maduros when I stop in Holt’s, they always seem to have them. It’s amazing how the Fuentes can make a cigar that tastes the same over the last  years! One odd note on the Short Story: while the rest of the Hemingway line has “Hemingway” on the boxes, the Short Story does not, yet it’s listed under that line on Fuente’s website.

 

BigPaybackFriday I was in the mood for a substantial cigar, so I went with a Room 101 Big Payback Hueso, the 6″ x 60 gordo in the line. I picked some of these up last summer when I was at Cigars International’s downtown Bethlehem store when Matt Booth was hanging out there. Ironically, I was listening to Matt on Kiss My Ash Radio while enjoying this cigar. I was a little bit behind, so the episode was two weeks old. Any time Matt appears on any show it’s a treat, full of surprises, he’s a hoot. Unfortunately, Matt is leaving the cigar industry and Davidoff is reportedly selling of the cigar under the Room 101 brand. the Big Payback line is/was a budget friendly line, a Nicaraguan Puro rolled in Honduras. I really like these cigars, in both the Nicaraguan wrapper and the Ecuador Connecticut wrapper, it’s a solid cigar that I find very appealing. I just got a box (10) of the Uncle Lee, I suppose I need to put some more of the Big Paybacks on the shopping list before they are gone for good. It’s a great cigar for a little over $6.

 

Yesterday my wife and daughter wanted to do some shopping at the King of Prussia Mall, one of the largest malls in the country and only fifteen minutes down the road.  One of my favorite things about shopping with my wife is that I can let her shop while I go to International Tobacco and sit and have a cigar. It usually ends up being a very costly cigar, but that’s OK.  Yesterday the selection was RP 55 Coronakinda slim, and the humidor tends to the classic side, without a lot of boutiques, they do have Davidoff, Padron, and many of the usual suspects. They have a coffee bar with soft drinks and are generally quite hospitable and friendly. I usually look for something I haven’t had, of course, so I picked up a couple of the Rocky Patel Fifty-Five, a “Corona” (4″ x 55) and a Toro for later. Since the Fifty-Five is inexplicably not listed on the website, I linked to Famous Smoke Shop’s listing for this, and would like to direct you to the new ad in the right sidebar. If you make a habit of shopping at Famous, click through the ad and maybe I’ll make a little dough on the side to support my “research”. They also offer a discount code, so we both win. Anyway, I lit up the pudgy little perfecto and was intrigued with the flavor. They say this cigar has Nicaraguan fillers and wrapper, and a Costa Rican binder, which you don’t see every day. RP 55 Corona-damageI got a mintyness throughout the smoke that was different and enjoyable. Unfortunately, there was a bit of chip at the cap of the cigar that I didn’t notice which resulted in the wrapper coming off completely with about an inch and a half left. I probably could have gotten a replacement if I had let the shopkeeper cut it for me, but I’m a DIY kinda guy and carry my own tools, so I didn’t press the issue. I haven’t had this kind of thing happen in a very long time, and I don’t expect it from a $9+ cigar. (As I write this, I think of the last time I wrote this and it was about another RP cigar….bad luck, I guess). Verdict: loved the flavor, hated the fact that the wrapper came off and I had to mess with it at all.

 

RockyPatel_Fifty-five_ToroSo intrigued by the flavor of the little 4″ x 55 “Corona” was I  that I look my evening walk with the Toro version of the Rocky Patel Fifty-Five. I suppose I should get one of these for my own 55th birthday in a year and a half, these were made to celebrate Rocky’s 55th birthday. As 55 is an unusual ring gauge for a cigar, I suspect a lot went into making these with special molds and all. The Rocky Patel Fifty-Five Toro is 6 ½” x 55, and has the same make-up as the little guy, both cigars have a bit of a taper at each end, which in my mind puts them into the perfecto category. I gave the Toro a much closer inspection, I certainly didn’t want to repeat the experience I had earlier in the day. I was pleased to find no flaws in this cigar, although the draw was a little on the restricted side until it got going. I found the same mintyness, with an occasional minty-cinnamonyness here and there. It was very intriguing to me, it’s so rare that I encounter an unusual flavor in a cigar any more.  While I wasn’t thrilled dropping north of $11 on a cigar, this one really didn’t bother me, I found it so interesting and special. I also don’t mind spending a few bucks in a local shop that provides the service of “husband day-care” while the better half shops, if people don’t spend money there it won’t be around!

 

In some news, I received an e-mail from Gaby Kafie of Kafie 1901 Cigars announcing that they are opening, or have opened, their own factory,  “Tabacalera G. Kafie y Cia”,  in Danli, Honduras. They were previously working with the Reyes family’s factory, having their cigars made along side such classics as Puros Indios and Cuba Aliados. Last year, Dr. Kafie introduced the Kafie 1901 Coffee with proceeds going to Cigar Rights of America.  Best of luck to Dr. Kafie and his family, I know he has a strong passion and hope he has few obstacles to success. Also of note is General Cigar Company‘s announcement that they will be adding Temple Hall Estates to their Foundry division’s FTC Heritage Series. the original Temple Hall Factory opened in Jamaica in the ’40s, and the Connecticut shade wrapped cigar will pay homage to that factory. This line joins the re-imagined Bolivar and Ramon Allones brands in the Foundry line-up. Will Cooper has the full story here.

 

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

 

CiagrCraig

 

 

 

 

 

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A Visit to Holt’s and Some of Their Exclusive Cigars: Tatuaje, Punch and Rocky Patel

Tatuaje_HCSReserva_MaduroSunday I stopped into Holt’s store on Walnut Street in Philadelphia after an excellent Philly Pops concert. I had gift card burning a hole in my wallet and I didn’t want to spend any of it on shipping (turns out I could have used it on the box of Room 101 Uncle Lee I bought yesterday on the website, would have made it $23 instead of $43…at $43 it was a deal too good to pass up if you like the cigars, which I do, and they will never be made again since Matt Booth left the cigar business). So I walked through the shop and picked up some of the Holt’s exclusive cigars they have. I already knew I wanted to get a couple of the Tatuaje HCS Reserva Maduro, a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapped cigar made at the My Father factory. I smoked one when I got home, and it was very good. It had some spice and some dark chocolate and I kinda wished I had stopped there and just got some more of these!  The size is a 5½” x 50 with a box press and was really a nice smoke. I’m told that the Tatuaje Verocu started life as a Holt’s exclusive, and that’s one of my favorite Tatuajes, although I really enjoyed the crap out of the HSC Maduro.

 

SanCristobal_Quintessence_RobustoMonday night I went with another cigar I got at Holt’s, although I don’t think it was exclusive to the store, but it caught my eye any way. The San Cristobal Quintessence is made again by Don Pepin Garcia and is distributed by Ashton, which is owned by the same parent company that owns Holt’s. I smoked the robusto again, another 5½” x 50, with an Ecuador Habano wrapper. I found this cigar to be milder than I thought it would be, with some flavors that aren’t really in my wheelhouse. It was fairly rich, with a dried fruit sweetness, and I’m sure a lot of people will love this, but it wouldn’t be one I reached for. The build was excellent and it performed well. Maybe some lingering sinus funk is to blame.

 

RockyPatel_Ocean ClubTuesday I went with the Rocky Patel Ocean Club, which has been a Holt’s exclusive for many years. Again with 5½” x 50, with a gentle press, where as the San Cristobal was round. Apparently I was buying cigars that fit easily in my pocket to minimize damage on the train rid home. This one had a very loose draw, and made me think of a Connecticut shade wrapper instead of the Nicaraguan wrapper, it was very light in color. This one I also found to be mild, with a different and interesting flavor. Still, I would trade this and the Quintessence for the Tatuaje, but that’s just my personal preference. I found it to be fairly mild, and the open draw made for a pretty quick smoke. As is my normal routine, I bought two of each, so I’ll revisit them at a later date. Since these have been on Holt’s shelves going back many years in my memory, I imaging they sell well enough, so whether I liked it or not is hardly relevant.

 

PunchVintage_Maduro_25I did grab some Arturo Fuente Best Seller Maduros, because I can’t seem to help but pick up something Fuente when I ‘m there. But the cigar I smoked tonight I have no regrets about. This was the Punch Vintage #25 Maduro, in the Corona Gorda (5½” x  46) size. First off, it’s a great size,  I don’t smoke enough corona gordas, but I’ve always been a fan. This is made in Honduras, with a blend of Honduran, Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers, and Connecticut Broadleaf binder and wrapper. This was like smoking a chocolate bar, I dug it. I would have been very happy just getting the Tatuaje and the Punch, both were up my alley and I really  liked the Punch Vintage Maduro.

 

I love stopping into Holt’s when I’m downtown, it’s a great place to pick up a few cigars and the lounge is a nice place to relax with a cigar. I still haven’t stopped into the Ashton Lounge upstairs, I’ve been to the predecessor, Mahogany, plenty of times, and I hear the new place is really nice. One of these days. Thanks to the folks at Holt’s for sponsoring a contest here a couple of months back as well as the helpful staff at the store! Also noteworthy was seeing Steve Saka’s Sobremesa and Mi Querida on an end cap.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

 

 

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