Tag Archives: San Cristobal

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,






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San Cristobal Revelation, Dubnium and Bernie Parent’s Vezina Cigar

To touch once again on the issue of Cuban cigars I brought up last time, or to expand upon it, I suppose, the issue of fakes was brought up.  I was saving that for a separate discussion, so here it is.  There will be no shortage of criminal behavior in this regard. How many people unfamiliar with cigars would be able to spot the difference between a Partagas Serie D No. 4 and a Rosa Cuba robusto without bands?  It may look like a worthwhile investment to have some bands made and but a bunch of cheap bundles and reband them. I hope I’m not giving anyone any ideas, but I would hope that anyone stupid enough to not have thought of this is scenario isn’t smart enough to run a business anyway.  So unsuspecting newbs wanting to try their fist Cuban cigar and willing to shell out a $20 to do it will get as much of a crappy experience as they might get smoking the real deal right off the truck! How many of us have seen everyone posting pictures of the Cohibas in the box with the sliding plastic lid that they got at a resort in Mexico? Fakes are already a big problem one that will get much worse when the embargo is lifted, and may already considering people misunderstand the recent relaxation of rules about what you can bring back from a licensed trip to the island. As always, I deeply appreciate the comments and discussion!


SanCristobal_Revelation_OdysseyOddly, I’ve been on a bit of a large cigar kick, at the time of year I should be smoking little cigars.  Thursday I reached for a San Cristobal Revelation Odyssey, an interestingly sized 5¾” x 60. This cigar was a Christmas gift from one of my vendors at work. This gentleman owns a steel company in Oxnard, CA and shops at Olde Oaks Cigar Co. in Thousand Oaks, CA. This is a really neat shop with a really good and well priced (for CA) selection of cigars, and what appears to this non-drinker to be an incredible booze selection. The lounge is nice as well. Anyway, this San Cristobal Revelation is one of his current favorites and he wanted to share it with me. I can see why he likes the cigar, the man may not smoke cigars more than once a week or so, but he has good taste, and this one is loaded with flavor. I found it to be medium bodied, smooth with a hint of savory sweetness. It started off with a hint of pepper, a signature of the manufacturer, the My Father factory. This size is round, but several other sizes have a box press, and it has an Ecuador Sumatra wrapper and a really beautiful band.  This is a winner in my book and I would reach for this cigar without hesitation.


CE&M_DubniumFriday evening I thought it would be a good time to smoke the Foundry Compunds, Elements and Musings Dubnium: the Cheshire Cat.  As we all know, Dubnium is a chemical element with symbol Db and atomic number 105. It is named after the town of Dubna in Russia, where it was first produced. It is a synthetic element (an element that can be created in a laboratory but is not found in nature) and radioactive; the most stable known isotope, dubnium-268, has a half-life of approximately 28 hours (thank you Wikipedia), and a Cheshire Cat is a fictional cat popularized by Lewis Carroll in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, not sure what one has to do with the other except that neither occurs naturally in nature, or has a damned thing to do with cigars. Knowing the beautiful mind of Michael Giannini as I do, one quickly learns not to question these things, the just are, reason and logic play no part, and that’s OK as the Foundry cigars, despite the gimmick and novelty, deliver in quality for me.  This was a cigar on the milder side, but heavy on the creamy soft flavors that I deeply appreciate on occasion. It had a sweetness and perfect burn and I found interesting and unique flavors as I frequently do in this line. That’s probably what keeps me sampling the Foundry line every chance I get, besides the fact that the Compounds, Elements and Musings series is generally wallet friendly, this 6″ x 60 box press cost me under $7 locally, and many are priced lower than that.  Innovative packaging, unique tobaccos (although, to be fair, it could be just about anything considering they rarely specify the tobaccos used), and a neat story and the trust I have in Michael makes me a fan.


BSBNo1 40th_VezinaYesterday, after a heavy, wet snow over night which was (thankfully) only a few inches, I opted for the second of three cigars from the Rocky Patel Bernie Parent BSB No.1 40th Anniversary set, the Vezina. It’s All Star weekend in the NHL, so I figured it would be appropriate, and I wanted to smoke it anyway, so there!  The Vezina is the trophy awarded each year to the goaltender “adjudged to be the best at this position”, and Bernie Parent won it in 1974 and 1975.  The cigar has a cedar sleeve, covering a beautiful Ecuador Habano wrapper, and is 6½” x 52. My friends at Halfwheel have a nice write up on this series of cigars, however they have spelt Vezina “Venzia” on two occasions, making it darned near impossible to find in a search, which isn’t pertinent to this story, just fun to point out.  I enjoyed the cigar, although it wasn’t as distinctively good as the Conn Smythe with the broadleaf wrapper. Not to say it wasn’t a wonderful smoke, but those aren’t hard to find these days, and I certainly won’t avoid it. Burned great, tasted great and evokes great memories of both a childhood watching the Broad Street Bullies win the Stanley Cup twice in a row, and times hanging out, smoking cigars with the legendary goaltender and wickedly funny story teller and friendly guy, Bernie.  Now I’m looking forward the the third in the series, the box pressed, Ecuador Sumartra wrapped Lord Stanley. Should I wait until June to smoke that? I’m not sure I can wait.


imageMy boss called me into his office yesterday morning, and instead of firing me, he gave me this interesting ashtray made from a well cap by a guy who works for a local well drilling company.  I’m more of a fan of having the business end of a cigar suspended over the ashtray, but this is an interesting design and will have a place in the smoking porch. It’s a much appreciated gift, much better than a pink slip!  That wraps up today’s episode, tune in Wednesday for more literary regurgitation as I meander through the wonders of the cigar world!  Until the next time,







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A Tortuga Event, a Tatuaje and a San Cristobal

Thursday evening Victor Vitale had whiskey\espresso and cigar tasting event at Cigar Mojo. Of course, it’s not hard to convince me to pay Mojo a visit,  and when someone of Victor’s stature is there it’s a no-brainer.  Upon arrival I immediately purchased a handful of the Tortuga 215 Reserva Coyote Negro in the 600 and Belicoso sizes. I promptly lit up a 600, which is 6½” x 56, a reasonably large cigar.  Obviously, the Tortuga line is one I’ve enjoyed over the years. Victor is a good friend, and we are lucky to have him living in the area. Over the course of the evening I enjoyed the heck out of the Coyote Negro, as well as an original 215 Reserva Alma box pressed robusto. The Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper on the Coyote ads a great sweetness that I love. The Reserva Alma (5″ x 54, named after my grandmother…not really…) I smoked was truly exceptional, well balanced, refined and delicious. Victor was offering whiskey and espresso, I had two espressos over the course of the evening which went well with both cigars I smoked. Victor’s Legacy Brands is making some great cigars, if you have a Tortuga Appointed Merchant in your area, give this line a try.



Tatuaje_Black_CoronaGordaFriday I had a bit of a trying day, forgetting my wallet, having a migraine that would revisit me several times during the weekend…that sort of thing.  I stopped by the Lightn’Up/CigarCigars shop on my way home and said hello to Chris Stone, who was having a Drew Estate event at the shop.  Without a wallet I was able to resist the urge to buy any more cigars, and with the migraine I was anxious to get home, medicate and eat dinner. After doing that and recovering a little, I took a walk with a Tatuaje Black Corona Gorda which was a gift from a gentleman I met at the Casa de Montecristo in Chicago on my recent visit.  Connor was a gracious host while I visited the lounge there, many thanks for this beautiful cigar!  This cigar in the classic 5 5/8″ x 46 corona gorda size has a closed foot and a fuma style cap.  I rather expected a more “Cubanesque” experience from this, I got a pure Nicaraguan flavor bomb.  This may have been one of the best Tatuaje cigars I’ve smoked, which isn’t say a lot since I haven’t smoked all that many.  Very full flavored and well made. This is a great size, I wish it had been longer.


SanCristobal_Revelation_LegendSaturday afternoon I took a walk with the dog and a San Cristobal Revelation Legend.  This cigar came from the Rocky Mountain Cigar Festival goodie bag. The Legend is a 6 1/8″ x 52 Box Pressed Toro made in the My Father factory for Ashton Distributors. This uses the same wrapper as the Ashton VSG, and is a full flavored, spicy cigar. The band is beautiful as is the overall appearance of the cigar. I found this to be very enjoyable and wonder why it took me over a year to sample this line.  Highly recommended if you like full bodied cigars.


On a related note, this morning we had an oracle come to the house to “smudge” or burn sage and give a traditional native american blessing to the house to encourage it to sell.  We are settling on a house on Friday and life will be easier by several orders of magnitude when the house we are currently living in sells. One of the things Maxx, our oracle friend, asked was if we had any loose tobacco around so that she could bless the property outside. Oddly, I happened to have saved the outside leaves from the Leaf by Oscar cigars. She shredded the leaves and spread them around the periphery of the yard. She kindly sent me the following explanation:

Semah, or tobacco, is one of the four sacred plants. It represents the Eastern Direction and the mind a place of new beginnings. The Anishinaabe use a form of tobacco known as kinikinik, or a red willow mix. Because it opens the door to the creator, when tobacco is used to make smoke, it is one of the most sacred of plants for Native people. Some elders say that tobacco is used to connect the worlds since the plant’s roots go deep into the earth, and its smoke rises high into the sky. This plant is highly respected and highly honored. Giving tobacco is a beautiful way of our people. Ceremonies using tobacco invoke a relationship with the energies of the universe, and ultimately the Creator, and the bond made between earthly and spiritual realms is not to be broken.


Traditional Use
Itis wise to burn tobacco before storms. It is used to pray that powerful storms won’t hurt our families. To pray with tobacco in your Native language is very powerful. It can make a difference in the physical world.


Tobacco is used in the offering of prayer to the Creator, acting as a medium for communication. It is either offered to the fire, so the smoke can lift the prayers to the Creator, or it is set on the ground in a nice, clean place. It means we come humbly to our creator. We proclaim our innocence. When you want to speak to the creator, we are told to make an offering of the tobacco plant.An Elder will take tobacco ties and offer them to the fire or offer it back to Mother Earth on behalf of the Sacred Circle


I have been burning tobacco here for some time now, and I thought it was for my pleasure, but it seems to have a deeper meaning. Hopefully the house sells soon!


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






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