Tag Archives: Thompson

An Espinosa Comfortably Numb Cigar at Cigars International Superstore in Hamburg PA

Espinosa CIYesterday was a big day at the Cigars International Superstore in Hamburg, PA.  Erik Espinosa was on hand all day selling his cigars there, and there was a line wrapping around the building of people waiting to but their CigarFest tickets. I understand that tickets sold out in under a minute on-line, and I also was told that people started lining up at 4pm Friday! The crazy part of this (or one of them) was that it was brutally cold out, the very crowded CI store looked like a ski lodge with all the people bundled up.  I understand that Espinosa Comfortably NumbCigarFest is a big event, something like 3000 people per day over two days, with many making a weekend of it, but that kind of crowd isn’t my bag.  But a lot of people dig it, so more power to them!  I made for a crowded store, it was hard to find a seat, what with people leaving their coats and stuff on seats and tables and socializing elsewhere, which is in very bad form, in my opinion. Some patrons like to sit and relax, some like to wander and socialize, but you can’t have it both ways.  We found a table by the door, which was constantly opening so it wasn’t very comfortable. I had bought a selection of Espinosa cigars, and lit up a CI exclusive that was recommended to be by a CI staff member called Comfortably Numb Vo,. 1. The band on this is in the classic Bob Masse ’60s Comfortably Numbconcert poster style, very psychedelic. This 6″ x 52 Toro has an Ecuador Habano wrapper, Corojo binder and Nicaraguan fillers. The wrapper is milk-chocolate-brown with very fine veins, it’s an attractive cigar.  I was very surprised with this cigar, pleasantly so. It was perfect for early in the day, the flavors were smooth and creamy, with some sweetness akin to a coffee with cream and sugar (which paired nicely with the cup of black coffee I enjoyed). I really should have grabbed another handful of these, but I had spent too much there already! Great cigar.


Espinosa CI 2Erik Espinosa is one of those guys in the cigar industry that I don’t know as well as some, however, when I walked into the store he walked up behind me and greeted me like an old friend, as did Juan Cancel from Cubariqueno Cigar Co. and Jose Galvez, our local Espinosa sales guy. While I haven’t smoked a ton of Espinosa branded cigars, Some brands made at his La Zona factory in Esteli are among my favorites.  Cornelius & Anthony, La Sirena are in my list of go tos, and I’ve enjoyed my fair share of Arandoza cigars too, and I’ve bought plenty of 601 La Bombas in the past, going back to EO brands days. One of the cigars I bought was the 601 Steel, which was an exclusive for Famous Smoke Shop, oddly enough. At some point that exclusivity agreement ended, and CI took on the line.  Considering CI is headquartered in Bethlehem, PA, which was known for it’s steel mills, it makes sense 601_Steel_Girderfor CI to carry it. It’s a reasonably priced cigar, and while it’s billed as full-bodied, I didn’t find it to be that at all.  It struck me as medium at best, but what do I know. It’s listed as having a dark Habano Oscuro wrapper and Nicaraguan fillers and binder. I didn’t find the wrapper to be all that dark.  It had a nice flavor, burned a little off, but OK, and was a perfectly nice smoke.  I also picked up some Murciualago (with red bands and silver, a Dread, and another event exclusive that looks like an Ecuador Connecticut wrapped cigar.  I’ll get to some of them in the near future. We left the shop after the one cigar, it was just to noisy and crowded for my liking. It was nice of Matt Cook, who’s the Director of Retail Operations, to stop by and say hello. I probably wouldn’t know Matt if we didn’t have a mutual friend.


In related news, it was announced this week that Thompson Cigars has been acquired by the parent company of Cigars International.

Scandinavian Tobacco Group today signed an agreement to acquire the business of Thompson and Co. of Tampa, Inc.  “Thompson”). The purchase price amounts to USD 62 million and the acquisition will be financed by existing cash at hand. The closing of the deal is expected to take place by the end of March 2018.

There’s a lot more to the press release, which is at many of my colleague’s sites, but I’m going to offer my unsolicited $0.02. Over the last year or so Cigars International’s mail order division had a major problem with a new computer system, which damaged their brand significantly in the eyes of the consumer.  I’m sure many retailers in both the brick and mortar and mail order spaces rejoiced. Thompson has been selling cigars for over 100 years, I ordered a special out of a magazine add in 1996 and am still on the mailing list, and have gotten plenty of phone calls from them (I wrote about their auction site back in 2012, the story is here), and never was a fan of dealing with them. Other’s have had great experiences, and, given the history, many must like them. So from my biased perspective, a company that had big problems buys a company with a questionable marketing reputation?  I don’t get it, but the people spending the $62 million are much smarter than I am.  I’ve never had an issue with CI, granted I live close by, and it’s nice to visit their stores, but I like visiting most stores (see last weeks post!).  With plans to also open a superstore in Texas announced by CI, and Altadis’ parent company and Davidoff  buying and opening stores all over the place, clearly the trend is to go direct to consumer.  Will Swisher be looking to go this route? What’s the future hold for the mom & pop shops? Kinda sounds like how Walmart killed small business a little, doesn’t it?


That’s all for now.  To those afflicted, enjoy Super Bowl Sunday! I know as a resident of the Philadelphia are I should be excited, but I’m not a football fan. The Flyers better get their shit together though! I have some of Bernie Parent’s cigars that I want to smoke in honor of a Stanley Cup win one of these days!  Until the next time,




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This Week’s Cigars: Acid, Padron, Cohiba, Fuente – Monday December 6, 2010

I’m a little conflicted about this weeks reviews.  A week or two ago I received an unsolicited e-mail from the folks at Thompson Cigars offering to send me some samples for review.  Thompson has been around for many years, and has a bit of a reputation as an aggressive marketer.   I’ve been unfortunate enough to have smoked some of their house brands in the past, but I have taken advantage of the occasional deal advertised in magazines.  I have to think that they have been in the business for so long because they do something right, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt. They were kind enough to send me four cigars for review, none of which were house brands.

One of the cigars was an Acid Blondie Belicoso.  To their credit, they had this cigar bagged separately from the other three.  I’ve become a big fan of Drew Estate’s traditional blends, Liga Privadas are in my top 5, and I even enjoy the occasional coffee infused Tabak Especial, but I never envisioned myself smoking an Acid.  Many years ago my wife smoked a Kuba Kuba and I tasted it and cringed.  So it was with some hesitation that I lit up this odd smelling Blondie.  Now there can be no doubt that they use excellent tobacco in these cigars, and they are expertly crafted.  I must admit to rather enjoying this cigar.  The saccharin sweetness on the head was a little much, but the flavor wasn’t terrible, mild and nutty.  It burned perfectly, was reasonably mild and inoffensive.  The next morning my wife mentioned that my jacket smelled like perfumed kitty litter…which I though was pretty funny!

The next cigar I smoked was a Padron Londres.  It’s been ages since I smoked one of these, and it’s nice to know they haven’t change.  You can always count on the Padrons to make excellent cigars, and this one was no exception.  It was a rustic looking cigar, the natural wrapper had seems that were lifted and veins galore.  As ugly as it was, it burned and drew right up there with the best of them.  It had bold flavors of Nicaraguan tobacco which was neither too strong, or too mild.  It was just right.  The 5½ x 42 size is among my favorites as well, which was a large part of my decision to grab this one next.

Following the Padron I smoked a Cohiba Lonsdale Grande which measures in at 6¼” x 47, which is a nice size for a cigar.  The Cohiba brand as a whole is not one I normally purchase, not sure if it’s due to the perception that I’m not getting the bang for the buck that I’d like, but I generally enjoy them when I’ve smoked them.  The Cohiba sports a nice looking and toothy Cameroon wrapper, which is the main flavor I get, which is good since I love a nice Cameroon wrapper.  The construction is excellent, as one would expect.  Overall I enjoyed this cigar, but, as I said, not one I would generally pick up.

The last cigar in the bunch was an Arturo Fuente Chateau Series King B, saved until last because this was the one I looked forward to the most.  This was a beautiful belicoso, measuring 6″ x 55.  It has a sun-grown wrapper with a reddish hue.  The flavor was fairly delicate and subtle, with some sweetness and cedar.  This is one cigar that I will look for in the future as it is definitely a cigar I’d like to smoke again.

All in all, this was a terrific bunch of cigars.  I am rethinking my opinion of Thompson Cigar Co.  As I said, they have been around a long time and are obviously doing something right.  I have purchased cigars from many of the major outlets, and they all write the same silly things in their catalogs, this cigar is better than Cubans, and other embellishments. It’s unfair of me to single one out, especially one that, as far as I can tell, is privately held and not owned by one of the big cigar companies, and has been in business for 85 years.   I appreciate them giving me the opportunity to sample these cigars. Please give them the benefit of the doubt as I have.

Don’t forget to enter to win some cool Joya de Nicaragua stuff by leaving a comment on my last post.  Contest ends December 19, 2010.

Until the next time,



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