Tag Archives: undercrown

Undercrown, Winston Churchill, Mombacho and Exactus Cigars

Undercrown_ChurchillFirst, I was going to announce a winner of the Exactus Super Coloso and Ashtray contest, but I figured I’d give it a couple more days. If I don’t post a winner on Friday, it’ll be in my regular Sunday post.  I smoked a few cigars this week I wanted to talk about. I started out following the Drew Estate Barn Smoker with a new size in the Undercrown line, a Churchill. This is a 7″ x 48 cigar (a Churchill is traditionally 7″ x 47, but they run from 47 to 50 ring gauge in the US). I like the size, it’s a nice, long smoking cigar with a great burn, typical of Drew Estate’s output. It’s got the same make-up of the Undercrown line,  Otapan Negro Último Corte wrapper, T52 Connecticut River Valley Stalk Cut & Cured Habano binder and Select Brazilian Mata Fina and Nicaraguan Cuban Seed filler. As we learned in my last post about the Barnsmoker, that T52 leaf may be in short supply in a few years, due to the hail damage to that poor five acre plot at the farm. The Undercrown Churchill was full of flavor and complexity and is a great addition to the line.


Davidoff_WinstonChurchillTheLateHour_ChurchillAnother Churchill I smoked this week was the new Winston Churchill the Late Hour from Davidoff, in the Churchill size. This is another 7″ x 48 cigar, made with tobaccos that are aged in Single Malt Scotch casks for six months. Since I have no frame of reference for flavors imparted by the barrel aging, I can’t speak to that, but I can say it was a spectacular cigar, and for what they get for these, it should be. It has an Ecuador Habano wrapper, Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers, and is made in the Dominican Republic. It was smooth and rich and very flavorful, maybe that little different flavor that made it interesting was the Nicaraguan Viso aged in the Scotch Barrels.  I smoked a Robusto at the IPCPR show, Davidoff had a Media reception in their booth, followed by the Golden Band Awards, which they usually had in a ballroom after hours with tuxedos and all sorts of glitz and glamour. The Robusto was great, it’s just that I can’t really get a good handle on a cigar at the show, I don’t know how anyone really can. Anyway, These are pretty darned tasty cigars, if you have the means, give them a try.


Mombacho_Tierra Volcan_ToroLast night I went with the Mombacho Tierra Volcan from Mombacho Cigars in Granada, Nicaragua. I had my first real experience with these guys at the IPCPR show, attending their media party at the house they rented in Las Vegas. It was a beautiful place with a pool, I didn’t bring my suit and skinny dipping was frowned upon for some reason.  While there I smoked their Cosecha 2012 limited edition, which was an amazing cigar although in the harsh conditions of outdoor Las Vegas, it didn’t hold up particularly well. That was my first experience with the brand, and later in the week I smoked one of the Tierra Volcan toros on the show floor. I wanted to give it a smoke under better conditions so I grabbed one yesterday. This is a Nicaraguan puro, something the company is dedicated to, paying homage to the country that host their factory in the first city in the Americas. The Tierra Volcan is a medium bodied, smooth and flavorful cigar, well-balanced with sweet cocoa and earthy flavors. Fortunately, a Mombacho lounge is coming to SMoKE Cigar Lounge in Manayunk, PA, not far from me. Below is a video I did with Claudio Sgroi, the president of the company and master blender, an Italian among Canadians (thanks to Rob Rasmussen, their director of Marketing, for doing the camera work!).  Definitely a company to keep an eye on.



Exactus_Maduro_ToroTonight, because we are in the midst of an Exactus contest, I figured I’d smoke an Exactus Maduro toro. I’ve smoked and enjoyed the Ecuador Connecticut wrapped Exactus in the past, but wanted to try the maduro (as is my way). By the way, don’t be surprised if a couple “normal” sized Exactus cigars fall into the box when I’m packing up the Super Coloso to ship out. This was a tasty Dominican maduro cigar, 6″ x 50 with 3 year-old Dominican Maduro wrapper,  Dominican Wine Fermented Criollo 98 binder (again, no frame of reference for me)  and fillers of Dominican Criollo 98 & Pennsylvania. I found it to me on the milder side of medium, with a sweet maduro flavor. It was well made and worked well, burning even all the way, and providing a nice experience. You’ll be hearing more about the cigars from El Artista here in the coming weeks. Get on over to the contest and enter if you haven’t already.


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





Filed under Review

IPCPR 2017 – Foundation Cigar Company

Tabernacle_LanceroEvery once in a while Facebook chastises me for not posting enough on the CigarCraig.com Facebook Page. It’s funny, I post twice a week when I update here, but I guess FB is looking for interaction. SO I took the opportunity to ask what I should smoke Friday night, and offered a prize to the person whose advice I followed. There were some great suggestions I really wanted to go with, but I didn’t have and El Rico Habanos on hand (an old favorite), nor could I find the new Enclave Broadleaf from AJ Fernandez. Mike Weinstein suggested the Tabernacle from Nick Melillo’s Foundation Cigar Company, and I selected the Lancero for my evening smoke. I really love the Tabernacle line, it has a great Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper with Nicaraguan fillers and smoked perfectly. The narrow ring gauge intensified the Broadleaf flavor, and slow smoking produced tons of rich, sweet smoke. Happy and sad at the same time that I only bought two of these, but it was the last two, so I didn’t have much choice. Tabernacle is a great cigar, thanks to Mike W for the inspiration, I’ll get some goodies out to you this week!


CharterOak_CTShade_RothchildAt the IPCPR show I visited Nick at his booth, which won the award for the best medium-sized booth, and we did a little video presented below for your enjoyment. He was displaying the new The Wise Man Maduro, simplifying the name from El Güegüense, which I guess the masses had trouble with. He also had the Highclere Castle on display, as well as the Special El Güegüense Humidor that he shows in the video. I didn’t receive any samples, but will certainly be buying some Wise Man Maduros when I see them. I did come across a Charter Oak Connecticut Shade from last year’s show and smoked that yesterday, boy what a great little cigar in the 4½ x 50 Rothchild size. These are priced from $4-6 and are exceptional values. The burn was great, the smoke had a nice, sweet nutty flavor and it was perfect for the early afternoon. Smooth, creamy and tasty. Not real pretty, but great tasting, and the closed foot is a nice touch. For what it’s worth, I had a couple of the Upsetters line from last year’s show that I could have chosen, I’m just always leery of the infused cigars. One of these days I’ll work up the courage…


Undercrown_Sungrown_GranToroNext Saturday I’m fortunate enough to attend Drew Estate‘s Connecticut Barn Smoker, the first of these events I’ve attended. I’m looking forward to learning more about the way tobacco is farmed in Connecticut, I’ve seen farms in Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, and burly tobacco farms in Lancaster County, but haven’t been to a farm in Connecticut. I’m looking forward to the experience and will take plenty of video and pictures to share with you. I figured I better try some of Drew Estate’s new offerings and had to sample the Undercrown Sungrown as I’ve heard great things about it. I’ll say right now, based on one sample, this may be my favorite in the Undercrown range, and I really like the maduro and Shade varieties a lot. It has a flawless milk chocolate-brown Ecuador Sumatra wrapper, Stalk Cut Connecticut grown Habano (like the T-52 wrapper), and Nicaraguan fillers. Besides this being one sexy looking cigar, it tastes friggin great! It had a nice, warm bread sensation, with some sweetness and a hint of pepper. I only came home from the show with a couple of these, but I will be putting more in my humidors as this is wonderful cigar. I look forward to trying other sizes. Willy Herrera and his team killed it with this one. Very impressive.


Check out the video with Nick, once again, terrible camera work by me, but great content from Nick! I need to look into one of those stabilizing gimbal camera holders I guess.


Foundation Best In Show

Foundation Goalie


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





Filed under IPCPR, Review, Video

Undercrown Shade, Tabernacle, and Herrera Esteli Cigars

Undercrown Shade Gordito I know, I know, nothing new here, but it’s been a busy week and I’ve been selfishly playing it safe smoking cigars I like and enjoying the hell out of them.  This started with a go-to Connecticut Shade wrapper cigar that I grab when I don’t feel like deciding on what to smoke, the Undercrown Shade from Drew Estate. At some point over the last year I came across a good deal on a five-pack of these in a the 6″ x 60 Gordito size, I can’t recall the details, but it was an offer I couldn’t pass up. While 6″ x 60 isn’t normally a shape I go to in a Connecticut, it works in this cigar.  Funny how one company’s “gordito” is different from another’s. I know one particular example where a Gordito is 4″ x 48. If my very rudimentary understanding of the Spanish language is even close, “gordito” is the diminutive of “gordo”, which means “fat”, which makes me wonder what the dimensions of a potential Undercrown Shade Gordo might be? Anyway, the Undercrown line is one of my favorites, and the Shade is one of my favorite Connecticut wrapped cigars, it’s got that nutty, creamy component, and has a good core of rich tobacco flavors to go with it. It’s not an Undercrown with a shade wrapper, although one might wonder what that might be like. Good smoke.


Tabernacle_RobustoIronically, I chose a Tabernacle Robusto from Foundation Cigar Co. for my next cigar. I say “ironically” because the Tabernacle is made by Nick Melillo, who probably would have been in charge of blending the Undercrown Shade if had still been with Drew Estate and Willie Herrera hadn’t stepped into his shoes. Most of my readers probably know that, but background included for those who don’t. Believe it or not, everyone isn’t as obsessed with the minutia of the cigar business as I might be. Tabernacle is the full-bodied, Connecticut Broadleaf blend that everyone expected Nick Melillo to make, and it’s not disappointing. I smoked the Robusto as it was later than normal and I didn’t want to be up all night with a cigar. I would have loved this in a 4″ x 48, I wonder what Nick would have called that size? The 5″ x 50 robusto was great, although I probably prefer the toro, more of a good thing. It burned great, was about an 8 on the strength meter, with sweet rich coffee and cocoa flavors, right up my alley. I love the color of the band, which features an image of Haile Selassie, who was the emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. It seems like an odd figure to feature on a band, but he is considered a god incarnate by the Jamaican Rastafarians, as a matter of fact, Selasie’s birth name was Tafari, so the movement is named after him. If you know Nick Melillo’s affinity for Jamaica and Reggae, you’ll get the connection. Where the name Tabernacle fits in is that it’s long been rumored that the Ark of the Covenant, which  is stored in a box called a tabernacle, is in a chapel in Ethiopia. I could probably write more about the history, but plenty of other people already have.The Tabernacle cigars are great (I’m still working up the courage to smoke Nick’s Upsetters line, it’s hard for me to talk myself into smoking infused cigars) . If you love Tajuaje’s Broadleaf blends, Liga Privadas, Mi Quedridas, Nica Rusticas, you’ll love the Tabernacle. I do.


HerreraEsteli_TAA ExclusiveI seem to have followed a path of related cigars once again, choosing a Herrera Esteli TAA Exclusive 2016. Last year I received a generous package from Drew Estate (as did many of my esteemed colleagues in the world of cigar blogs) which had all sorts of lounge and shop exclusives, and new items. It must have been the beginning of 2016, as it seems like a long time ago. Was it 2015? Time is moving too quickly!  I still have some cigars from that sampler, and this Herrera Esteli looked like the size I wanted and I decided to smoke it. Unlike the Herrera Esteli line, which features a Habano wrapper and is a great smoke, by the way, this TAA (Tobacconists Association of America) Exclusive has a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, with Brazilian Mata Fina binder and Nicaraguan fillers. I like the regular Herrera Esteli line, it’s a great smoke, but this one, with the sweetness from the Broadleaf and Brazilian tobacco really is more in my wheelhouse. I smoked one of these in May of last year and got a meaty flavor that I didn’t get this time around. Perfect burn and draw, of course, and rich flavors that entertained me on my evening walk, and provided a great end to the week! I really didn’t need another $12 cigar to like. I guess it’s lucky for me there aren’t any TAA retailers close by!


Today is Father’s Day, which I have mixed emotions about given the fact that my father and father-in-law both passed in the last few years. My kids always do something nice for me, and I look forward to seeing them today, and enjoying my traditional Father’s Day cigar,  this year an 18-year-old cigar. I bought a box of Esperanza Para Los Niños toros in 2000 for Father’s Day and have one left, which I’ll smoke last. I’ve had some generous gifts of various sizes of these over the years which I save for Father’s day. I think I’m good until 2020 or so. In 2002 I found my self unemployed, and wouldn’t you know some online retailer bought the remaining inventory of these cigars (that were made by Christian Eiroa for charity) and was blowing them out for a great price, although it was a lot more than I could afford being out of work. I was pretty pissed that I couldn’t afford another box, and by the time I could they were gone. Anyway, that’s on my agenda for today. That’s all for now, until the next time,





Filed under Review

Merlion, Undercrown, Rocky Patel, Viaje and RoMEo Cigars

Pre-IPCPR post, by the time you are reading this I’ll be either on my way to Las Vegas, there already, or home, depending on when you happen to read. I’m anticipating a busy show, and have made some appointments, but there’s literally no way one can schedule meetings and get to visit everyone one wants to visit, there’s not enough hours in the day. I’ll do my best to bring you something different than my esteemed colleagues in the cigar blogosphere, whom I’m hoping to commune with as well. I’ve got packing to do, so I’ll try to keep this brief! Here are some interesting cigars I smoked this week:


Merlion_Sea Lion_maduroOne of the cigars I’m looking forward to at the IPCPR show this year is the release of the Merlion Maduro from La Sirena Cigars. A few years ago I got my hands on one of the limited edition boxes of the Merlion Se Lion, which came in a box with nine Sea Lions and one Maduro Sea Lion. The Sea Lion is a unique shape, it’s a 5½” x 47 perfecto with a shaggy foot and a very pointy head. It was all I could do not to smoke this when I go them, as you can well imagine.  It has not gotten tot he point where they are releasing a regular line of the maduros, so I figured it was time. These are made at La Aurora, and the cigar smoked beautifully. It was rich and full of all the great flavors I look for in a cigar. I can’t wait to smoke this is other sizes, but the Sea Lion size is unique and interesting to smoke. They only produced 500 boxes of these, so I imagine the chances of getting more are nil.


Undercrown_ExclisivamenteI have been playing around withe the Drew Diplomat app, and I just don’t get it. I can’t figure out how to really interact with people, find people, or anything. I think there are much better “community” apps out there, and I get that this is a marketing tool. So I’ve been choosing Drew Estate cigars to smoke and log on the app a little more lately, which I suppose is the point of the app anyway. I picked out the Undercrown Exclusivamente, which is a square pressed toro exclusive to Corona Cigar Co.’s Drew Estate Lounge in Orlando. There are several cigars presented in this form factor for the lounge, including a Liga 9, a couple of the Tabak Especiales, Natural and Herrera Esteli. In addition to being sharply pressed, they have a flat cap, which lends itself well to punching with a reasonably large-bore punch.  I’ve smoked a lot of Undercrowns, and I think this was my favorite size/shape of the bunch. Sure the Corona Viva is the stand out in the line to me (better yet, the larger Dogma, a Cigar Dojo release that’s long gone. I haven’t smoked a Manifesto yet), but I think this surpasses even those. It’s a terrific smoke, a fun shape, and quite worth picking up if you find yourself in the Orlando area (or on the Corona Cigars website).


RockyPatel_Edge_SumatraMonday evening I went with a cigar that was gifted to me last week by one of our friends who joined me for Desnudo Sunday. Nik is a noted local (Wilmington, DE) singer/songwriter/performer who is a cigar nut as well. It was a very generous and unnecessary thing for him to do, but I understand and appreciate his eagerness to share something that I hadn’t smoked yet. I can probably count the number of Rocky Patel Edge cigars I’ve smoked on one finger. Why this is, I have no idea. I’ve seen them on the retailers shelves for years, I just never picked any up. He gave me his favorite, with is the Sumatra 6″x 52 Toro, and it was very good with a savory, woody, leathery flavor with a little sweetness. It was well-behaved, and a very satisfying smoking experience. I’ll have to make an effort to further explore the Edge line. Thank you, Nik, for the great cigar!

Vieje_SummerfestI’m finding I have more to say than I thought, the downside of skipping my mid-week post.  I smoked a Viaje Summerfest 2015 that I bought last year at J. Shepherd Cigars in Louisville, KY. This cigar was interesting in that the first inch or so is without wrapper, so you smoke binder and filler only for the first 15 minutes, then there is a noticeable change. Viaje is another one of those brands I don’t follow closely, but I seem to recall the first release of theirs being the 50/50, which was designed with two distinct blends merged together in the middle. I never smoked one, but it sounded intriguing.  So this limited edition cigar was very nice, and it really did showcase the amount of flavor the wrapper gives a cigar. It smoothed out noticeably when the wrapper started burning. Fascinating. Of course, these are only released in the summer, and I don’t recall seeing anything about one coming out this year. I don’t think this was too awfully expensive either (or I probably wouldn’t have bought it!, and I bought two and smoked one there I think).


RoMEo AnejoFinally, last night I grabbed a cigar that I had been siting on for a year or more. When the RoMEo Añejo cigars came out I really wanted to like them. 2010 Connecticut Broadleaf for a wrapper, a 2008 Olor from the DR for a binder, and Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers from the 2009 crop.  The first few I smoked seemed over moist, they tasted great, but the steamy quality to the smoke and associated difficulty with draw was off-putting and frustrating. So, like a dummy, on the hottest, most humid day of the year, I forgot all that and decided to give this cigar another try. I was encouraged with the initial draw, but after a few minutes on the porch in the humidity, it started getting that steamy feel to it again. That thick broadleaf wrapper is like a sponge, I suggest putting these in your humidor if you have a humidity spike, as they will suck the moisture out in a short amount of time.  I still love the flavor, but one must be very careful about conditions in which these are smoked. I’ll keep trying as I’m a sucker for broadleaf.


That’s all for now, I’m off to Vegas, so watch for reports from the show here, and follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Periscope for up to the minute reports. Until the next time,









Filed under Review

El Centurion, a Couple Cigars at Cigar Brothers and a Viva Republica and a Test

ElCenturian_RobustoI mixed it up a little this week. I had determined that whatever was up with my tasters last week had passed, hence the Bugatti post, so I pushed forward.  My methodology for determining this, not that you asked, was to smoke familiar cigars for a few days. Fairly straight forward, and it also lets me enjoy some favorites, like a Nica Rustica, La Sirena and BCP’s SixZero Robolo. So I grabbed a My Father Cigars El Centurian Robusto, which is 5¾” x 50, which is a bit long for a rubusto, but I’m OK with that. The blend, from what I can tell, is a sungrown Criollo 99 wrapper, with Nicaraguan fillers of four varietals,  Criollo, Corojo Habano, and Sancti Spiritus. I typically don’t care for Criollo 99, there’s just something about it that I don’t get excited about. While I think the El Centurian is a good cigar, it certainly performed well, was well constructed and didn’t have an objectionable flavor, it just isn’t one of the cigars that I might reach for again. Nothing wrong with it, just not in my wheel house, it’s a shame because I really like the presentation and want to like it. I never had the pleasure of smoking the original blend of this cigar.


Yesterday I met up with Mike C., who, along with his daughter, are producing WineadorArt, and we visited Cigar Brothers Cigars in Berwyn, PA.  There’s a couple of things I like about this shop, one of the brother’s who owns the place EPCarillo_NewWaveCTResis named Craig, nothing not to like there, right?  It’s in an old house, with the store on the lower level and the lounge in the upstairs rooms, of which there are two. Hanging out there is basically like being at home and being able to smoke and watch TV, it’s small enough for intimate conversation with out interuptions or distractions. The weakness is the lack of a large space for events, and, my opinion, maintaining proper storage conditions in the store area, which is one large humidified space. We bought some cigars and went upstairs to smoke. I started with an E.P. Carillo New Wave Reserva Connecticut Belicoso D’Oro. This cigar is 5.7″ x 52 with a well-formed torpedo head. It’s got an Ecuador Connecticut wrapper, Connecticut Broadleaf Binder, and Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers. I enjoyed this  cigar, but I was expecting something a little more Connecticut Shade, if that makes sense. The wrapper was darker than I expected, which intrigued me and lead to the purchase. It burned well, and was tasty enough, just fairly un-UC_Torounique to me. It was a great cigar to just sit and smoke during conversation without having to think about it. I bought a couple more which I’ll leave in the humidor for a while and revisit. I then moved on to the Undercrown Shade in a toro size. Cigar Brothers had these very reasonably priced and I like them well enough to want to keep some on hand, so I added to the inventory I had at home. While this cigar smoke fairly well, I got the sense that it was not quite as dry as I prefer, going back to what I mentioned about the challenges of having your store be a humidor. I might have had better luck than Mike since the cigars I chose had thinner wrappers, and his selections for the day had thicker wrappers that suck up more humidity. Picking your spot in the shop to buy cigars you plan to smoke there I think is key, and take the ones in the area closer to the humidifiers home to leave in your humidor for a while. I hate to criticize, because I love everything else about the shop (especially Craig’s dogs, who visit from time to time), but having a over-moist cigar be a disappointment in a great environment is a bummer.


VivaRepublica_Advanced Warefare_PetiteSince I had already smoked two cigars while out, when I got home and took Macha for her walk, I went small, with a Viva Republica Advanced Warefare Petite. This 4″ x  41 little guy packs a punch, it’s a peppy little cigar! It’s made at La Aurora in the Dominican Republic, Ecuador Sumatra wrapper, with Dominican, Nicaraguan and Pennsylvanian leaf in the filler blend. Jason Holly, the brand owner, is a Pennsylvania guy and works for Miami Cigar and Co. as a brand ambassador, among other things. So this was a perfect smoke for the half-hour or so it took Macha and I to make our mile-plus walk. Burn was perfect, it was quite satisfying for a short smoke and it fit the situation well. It’s a great cold weather cigar because it’s loaded with flavor, although it’s tough handling small cigar with gloves.


The folks at Bobalu Cigars in Austin, TX have this clever test on their site. Here’s a link, or you can take it right here if whatever you’re reading on supports the embedded page. I thought it was very challenging and well done. Tell you what, I’ll send a 5-pack to the first person to match my score, take a screenshot of your score and post it in the comments or if you can’t do that be prepared to e-mail it as proof. Deadline for entry is Next Sunday, Feb. 14. Good luck!

Test Your Cigar Knowledge



That’s enough from me for now, until the next time,





Filed under Review, Stores