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A Tatuaje and L’Atelier Event and the Philly Cigar Festival Contest Winner

Tat1Monday evening I found myself again at Cigar Mojo in King of Prussia, PA at the Tatuaje/L’Ateliar “Oh F*ck I’m Lost” bus tour stop. This was a huge event, as you might imagine. Pete Johnson, Casper Johnson and Dan Welsh were on hand for the event, they’ve been travelling around in a beautiful tour bus and visiting stores along the tat2way. Cigar Mojo had tons of stock on hand, and appear to have had a good sales day!  I picked up a couple singles and the tour special pack with five cool cigars that I haven’t yet taken the time to identify. If someone would fill me in, I’d be grateful (what can I say, I’m lazy). I lit up a Tatuaje Reserva K222 and went about schmoozing with friends old and new. On hand was a vintage travel trailer fitted as a bar mixing drinks and a BarBQue tat3trailer serving food. They had boxes of Pork Chops, bundles of Pork Tenderloins and  Le Vignoble available with the purchase of another box of qualifying cigars, all of which sold out. I chose the K222  since I’d smoked it before and would be distracted. It was and is a great cigar, Ecuador Habano wrapper and made in Miami. It was a great event, lots of great folks and I enjoyed the evening. tat4

Tatuaje_Cojonu2006

Last night I smoked the Tatuaje Reserva Miami Cojono 2006, a 5½ x 52 belicoso. Another great smoke, rich, complex flavors of espresso and earth. It, like the K222, had a great burn and draw, and I very much enjoyed it. Tatuaje cigars have always been special occasion cigars for me, so the last couple days were pretty special. I look forward to smoking my way through the  “Oh F*ck I’m Lost” sampler. Pete and his crew are a great bunch, it’s always a treat to spend a little time with them, and I’m glad I finally got to meet Casper and Dan and was sorry KC wasn’t there.  Cigar Mojo did a good job considering there were easily a hundred people there at a time, and while the shop is a good size, that’s a large crowd.

 

It’s time to choose the winner of the ticket to the Philly Cigar Festival, happening June 3, 2017 in Pottstown, PA. I’m looking forward to hanging out with the winner at the event!  Out of the 21 entries (adjusted for those who commented that they wouldn’t be able to attend), the random number generator at Random.org spit out the number 19, which corresponds to Michael shore. Please send me your full name and contact information so I can pass it on to the event organizers to get your ticket processed.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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Epic Cigars, Literally and Figuratively, a Tatuaje and an Event

Tatuaje_ReservaBroadleaf_J21It’s been a busy couple of days, so I figured I’d start the second half of the week right with what I hoped would be a great cigar.  Last summer at the IPCPR show I stopped into Pete Johnson’s booth where he had Tatuaje, L’Atelier, and his other brands represented, and oddly it wasn’t mobbed. In previous years Pete was pretty hard to get a minute with, so I made a point to visit his booth early. I’m just getting started talking with him when a representative of the IPCPR interrupts to introduce a journalist from the middle east somewhere, who proceeded to talk to Pete for a half an hour with me standing right there, then brought in the middle east distributor who went on for another 15 minutes. I patiently waited, but chastised the previously mentioned IPCPR representative later. Members of the media interrupting retailers and vendors is a big no-no, but it’s OK to interrupt other media members. This is part of the reason I have relinquished my IPCPR membership. Point is, I finally got to talk to Pete for a while, which I greatly appreciated, and he showed us the Reserva Broadleaf series, a collection containing the original 6 Seleccion de Cazador sizes, along with J21, SW, K222 and Cojonu 2003 all with a Connecticut Broadleaf Wrapper. The whole Tatuaje_ReservaBroadleafcollection can be purchased for just under $1200, or they are available separately in bundles of ten. Pete gifted me the J21 size, ironically I had just written about the Habano version in a Prime-Living article. The J21 is a standard 5″ x 50 robusto, obviously wrapped in Connecticut Broadleaf with Nicaraguan binder and fillers. I’m not clear on whether this is rolled in Miami or Nicaragua, but it hardly matters, it’s a stellar smoke! Holy crap did I enjoy this cigar! It hit all the points I like, great burn and draw, perfect ash, and flavor like crazy. Dark cocoa and espresso all day long, with some nice spice. I loved it, and I probably put down a half-inch nub. Just what I needed, another $10+ cigar that I fall in love with.

 

BnBFriday evening I took a ride into the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia to visit BnB Cigars where they were having an Epic Cigars event. I try not to miss Dean Parsons when he comes to town, he and Mick, his sales manager and right hand man, were on hand. For a small shop, BnB has a great selection of boutique cigars as well as your standard, bread and butter cigars, packed into display cases around the shop. There’s a cozy lounge in the back too.  Vince does a great job keeping the place stocked with interesting cigars that you don’t see many places around here. I’m a big fan of the Epic line of cigars, which are made in the Dominican Republic in the same factory that Kristoff cigars come from. I picked up some of the new Maduro Fuerte, I figured it would be a safe bet since I love the regular maduro EpicMaduroFuerteline. I also wanted to try the production version of the San Andres with the Epic “E” in light-colored tobacco leaf in place of the band, and pick up some more of the Connecticut Shade La Rubia.  I smoked an Epic Maduro while I was there hanging out, which comes in a 6½ x 54 size called the Compinche, which means “buddy”.  Like the regular Maduro line, this has a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper, Cameroon binder, and Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers, with more ligero than the standard Maduro line. I loved the cigar, but I didn’t find it to be too strong, at least for my tastes. It burned well, and had some very nice flavors consistent with what I love about the Epic Maduro, and that Cameroon binder ads an interesting flavor to the blend.

 

Epic_San Andres_Gran OlaYesterday afternoon I camped out on the back porch with the Flyers game on the tablet and smoked the Epic  limited edition Project E San Andrés Gran Ola, also in the 6½” x 54 size. It’s fortunate that I smoked the cigar through the first two periods of the game and I wasn’t smoking it in the last 6 seconds when the Flyers, once again, managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I might have done unspeakable things to the cigar in frustration, and that wouldn’t have been a fitting end to the cigar. This is also appropriate because Dean Parsons played professional hockey in his native epic_hockeyCanada, so he would understand.  The San Andrés wrapper is not a dark, maduro processed wrapper, it’s more of a milk chocolate-brown, with the E that must irritate the folks at the factory who are tasked with its application. I snipped off the fanned pigtail cap and lit it up, thoroughly enjoying the interesting flavors. I would put this at the upper end of medium with some light spice and creamy coffee notes. I found no flavor change whatsoever when I hit the band, in case anyone wondered. Yet another winner from Dean and Epic Cigars! Very nice smoke, but disappointing hockey game.

 

CI Ad in Newspaper CouponsMy wife was clipping coupons today from the Sunday paper and came across this one from Cigars International. I’m not promoting this deal at all (although it’s not a bad deal), just thought it was interesting that it appeared in the regular coupons part of a major news paper. I wonder how long this kind of thing will be allowed? We haven’t seen cigarette advertising in what, 30 years? More? Certainly the anti smoking folks must see this and wish they had gotten the item on the bottom part of the ad so they could call for help when they fell over in shock from seeing *gasp* tobacco…I’m sure this kind of ad is forbidden in Australia, where they have plain packaging and curtains covering the cigars in shops. It could happen here, my friends, stay vigilant and keep pressing your elected officials to try to prevent them from ruining a good thing!

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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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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La Gran Llave, Gurkha and Tatuaje, and a Stage V Clinger Contest!

LaGranLlave_TorpedoI’m getting ready to go away for a few days, so this will be early and brief!  I just want to touch on a few cigars I smoked this week so far, and have another little contest!  More on the trip when I get back.  Since it was in the cigar news last week that AJ Fernandez had acquired the La Gran Llave brand that they had been making for Michael Argenti I thought I’d revisit one of the box pressed torpedos that Michael had sent me last year when he launched the brand. There is no change in factory as the cigars were made by AJ Fernandez anyway, it seems that the company has been going crazy acquiring brands, also recently buying the Sosa brand, which had been made by Fuente for as long as I can remember. I really like the La Gran Llave Reserve, it’s a nice, sweet cigar with a beautiful San Andrés wrapper. The burn and draw were perfect and it was a satisfying smoke. I have a sampler with the other sizes that I will get to eventually, but this 6½ x 56 box pressed torpedo sets the bar pretty high. Jeff at my local JM Cigars recommended it to me to when I was there a couple of weeks ago and I passed as I had some in the humidor already. I failed to take note of the price, but I think the line ranges from $6-$9ish.

 

Gurkha_Cask BlendMonday I tried the Gurkha Cask Blend in the 6″ x 58 perfecto size, which came from the IPCPR show and has been resting in the humidor since July. This was a perfectly fine cigar, normal cigar taste that was neither offensive, nor exceptional. It seemed to have a Nomex wrapper, you  know, that stuff they wrap wires in so they don’t catch fire?  I had to refill the Tommy Bahama pocket lighter after I was done smoking it, because the darned thing wouldn’t stay lit!  I mentioned the storage before so you don’t think it was my fault, as I smoke from the same humidor all the time with no issues. Might have been a better cigar if it had burned right, but that part of the experience detracted from the overall enjoyment. Since its “wrapper, binder and filler are highly guarded proprietary secrets” I can only tell you it was made in the DR. If there was some booze component to it I have no frame of reference any more. When it burned, it wasn’t a bad cigar. I know many will say it was a Gurkha, what did I expect, but there are several cigars in the Gurkha portfolio that I think are quite good. It occurs to me that I smoked one of these in 2015 and didn’t seem to have the burn problems.

 

Tatuaje_Black_PetiteLanceroTonight,  since I’m on vacation for the rest of the week, I treated myself to a Tatuaje Black Label Petit Lancero, which I think was a gift from my amigo Goose at Goose’s Cigars in Limerick, PA. This is a 6″ x 38 cigar that was sans cello, and I’m weird, I like the protection of the cello in the humidor, I noticed this one had a chip in the wrapper at the foot, so it had to go! What a delightful cigar, thick, right smoke with sweet, earthy flavor that was terrifically satisfying for a rainy night while I was comfy in my enclosed porch. I used an 9.5mm punch (with is the Vansapproximate inside diameter of the ScrewPop punch, by the way) which is my go-to for a lancero. it was a completely yummy way to end the day and start the vacation. I also celebrated receiving my kid’s Christmas present to me today, an awesome pair of custom, one of a kind Vans!

 

Contest!

Stage V Clinger

Cigar not included. Actual color and branding may vary.

I slacked off on this one over the holidays, it was there for me to give away, and I failed. So you have a chance to win a Stage V Clinger cigar holder. I use one of these from time to time and find it to be a gentle way to hold a cigar on those occasions where a proper rest or ashtray isn’t available. This is designed for the golfer, but has many other applications. It has a strong pair of magnets, a hook and loop strap in case there’s no metal to “cling” to, and the jaws are gentle enough to not squish or damage the cigar. Leave a comment to enter, and I’ll announce a winner on Sunday. Thanks to Marissa at Stage V for offering this cool item.

 

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

 

CigarCraig

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Davidoff, Tatuaje, and Surrogates Cigars and an Event

Davidoff_NicaraguaBox Pressed_robustoTo start of today I have to rewind to last Sunday, when I wrapped up a nice day in the city with a Davidoff Nicaragua Box Pressed Robusto, one of the new cigars in the line this year. If I was impressed with the toro, I was really impressed with the robusto! This one measures 5″ x 48, which feels even smaller with the box press. It features tobaccos from four growing regions in Nicaragua: Condega, Jalapa, Ometepe and Esteli, with the ligero coming from Esteli. As with the Toro, it burned perfectly as one would expect (or, dare I say, demand!), with a great draw, tons of rich, tasty smoke and a firm ash.  This is a special cigar, right up my alley in terms of flavor and strength, but  priced outside my personal comfort range, but for special cigars, my price threshold has been expanding recently. I would certainty recommend this cigar as a special occasion smoke. As I said of the toro, it’s yummy.

 

Tatuaje K222Fast forward to Saturday, when I went back to one of my favorite shops, the Wooden Indian, where they were having a Halloween party of sorts, along with a combined My Father, Tatuaje, L’Atellier, Surogates event with KC Johnson on hand. I introduced myself to KC, apologizing for not having met him before, I saw him at the IPCPR show and I suppose he was with someone at the time or something, I just felt weird for not having met him before. He’s a super nice guy, friendly and knowledgeable and a good fit for the cigar business. While I was there I smoked the Tatuaje Reserva Miami K222, new this year, and an homage to Pete Johnson’s dog Kona, who lost his battle with cancer last year after losing a leg to the disease. I have a soft spot in my heart for three-legged dogs, and offered words of encouragement to Pete when Kona was losing his leg. In our dog’s case, when lost her leg to a bad break, not cancer, but it’s amazing how animals adapt, within days they are getting around fine. Anyway, I felt compelled to smoke the K222, and it’s a fantastic smoke. Take the afore-mentioned Davidoff, kick the strength up a notch, and the sophistication and subtlety down a notch, and you have the Tatuaje. If that sounds like a dig, it’s not, it a different experience but no less satisfying. The K222 is 5 7/8″ x 52 with an Ecuador Habano wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and fillers and is made in the El Rey de los Habanos factory in Doral, Florida. Obviously the “K” stands for Kona, Pete’s Rottweiler, who passed away at 2:22 on April 22, hence the 222 in the name. It’s yet another great cigar from the Tatuaje line.

 

Surrogates_Animal Cracker_AC550While I was at the Wooden Indian, I kind gave Dave, the owner, a little grief about the inappropriateness of his Native American costume, with cultural appropriation being currently out of fashion. PC BS, nobody was insulted back in my childhood when we dressed as hobos, old ladies or banditos, I was even a mafioso once Halloween with a toy machine gun, offensive on several levels in today’s world. I guess if Dave had been standing outside his store with a bundle of cigars in his hand I would have gotten it, but I was slow on the uptake and only “got it” this morning. Anyway, I bought a Tatuaje Monster Series The Krueger, and I’m wondering if I should smoke it tomorrow evening, Halloween, or put it away for a while?  What do you all think?  I also picked up a couple of the Surrogates Animal Cracker AC550, as I’ve enjoyed several cigars in that line and hadn’t tried this one yet. I set one on fire last night and it’s a powerful, full flavored cigar. I loved the closed foot, it feels like it’s plugged on the Cold Draw (one of my favorite podcasts currently, BTW, an unsolicited plug), but upon setting fire to the foot it opens up and is perfect. This one has an Ecuador Habano Oscuro wrapper, burns well, produces lots of smoke and is a great cigar if one likes strong cigars (or needs a little help and doesn’t like taking laxatives, TMI?).  So far I’ve tried and liked the Broadleaf wrapped Skull Breaker and Bone Crusher, so I guess the Tramp Stamp and Crystal Baller are next on my to try list. These are made at the My Father factory in Esteli, and blended by Pete Johnson and the L’Atelier team. These aren’t subtle, the are aggressive, as the names might suggest, but are worth trying f you have a strong constitution!

 

That’s enough for now, I have a busy week, I’ve got a Prime Living Article deadline coming up, a weekend getaway that I need to write and schedule a post for, and various other preparations to make. since I was lazy last week and put off my usual Wednesday post for Friday, I’m going to make every effort to get back on track this week and not be a slug. So, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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