Month: October 2009

What’s The Matter With My Taste Buds?

Last time I mentioned the 3×3 robusto had a metallic taste which I attributed to being naked in an aluminum tube.  This week I smoked a Maria Mancini Corona Classico and the “B” cigar from the Black Band Project, which was a Camacho Corojo Monarca.  Both of these cigars exhibited that same metallic twang.  Quite disturbing.  I need to find the cause of this affliction.

MariaMancini_CCThe Maria Mancini line has been a favorite of mine for the last  decade or so. I picked up my first box at JR Cigars in Burlington, NC on the Carolina Cigar Crawl back in 1999.  At that time they were packed in a box of 40 for about $60, which is really nice.  They’ve since changed to boxes of 20, and are still fairly well priced.  The following year on the same cigar crawl JRs had bundles of 20 of the same cigars for around $20 which I viewed as refills, however I have never seen this offered since.  Over the years I’ve had boxes of the DeGaulle (Robusto), Corona Classico (corona), Magic Mountain (torpedo) and the Palma Delgado (6½”x40 with a tapered foot).  I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad cigar from this line.  They always burn really well, and have a medium to full flavor that I find to be pleasing.  For a cigar that you’re never going to pay more than $3 (by the box) for, these can’t be beat.

blackband_BI’ve mentioned the Black Band Project in a previous post, the “B” cigar was a Camacho Corojo Monarca (5″ x 50 robusto).  I’ve smoked plenty of Camacho cigars and always enjoyed them.  These always start out with a bite, then it settles into a powerful cigar, best smoked after a hearty meal.  This one was no different.  If my tasters had been fully functioning, I would certainly have appreciated the cigar more, but it still cut through my deficient taste buds with all the right flavors…really hit the spot and gave me a very relaxing smoking experience.  If you are a fan of stronger cigars and you haven’t tried the Camacho line, you owe it to yourself to check them out.  Camacho offers a dizzying array of lines.  I always had a fondness for the Havana blend, it may be a good starting point as I think it is closer to the medium end of the spectrum, strength-wise.

As you may have noted from previous posts, I am not a great cigar reviewer.  I am not particularly good at identifying specific flavors like some reviewers are.  I do, however, know a good cigar when I smoke one, so I hope that folks can take something away from my posts.  I am always interested in your comments, and would be especially interested in any feedback on this whole metallic taste thing…it’s gotta go!

Until next time,

CigarCraig

The Week in Cigars

rebels_choiceIt’s been a slow week cigar-wise.  Monday I grabbed a Rebel’s Choice corona, which I had bought at Cigar Cigars in Phoenixville (mentioned in my last post).  This cigar was $1.95, and I really feel like I over paid.  It was a horrible, nasty, vile thing, which I put down just past the half way point.  I have a pretty high cheap cigar tolerance, but this is a cigar that I couldn’t recommend at any price.  Every now and then you can find a decent cigar on the cheap, the Flor de Gonzales comes to mind, as well as the National Brand, but this ain’t one of them.  I have another one in the humidor that will likely remain there for the foreseeable future.  Rebel’s Choice turned out to be a bad choice.

cuaba_exclusivosTuesday I grabbed a Cuaba Exclusivo. I wanted some redemption from the previous nights let-down.  I’ve had a few Cuaba Divinos in the past that didn’t really wow me, in fact, I rather disliked them.  I equated the flavor with a filterless Pall Mall cigarette.  I hoped that the larger size would be different, but the same underlying flavor was still there, although as the cigar progressed I did get some nice flavors here and there.  I’ve had the pleasure and priviledge of smoking many Havana cigars, but I can say that the Cuaba line isn’t one I’ll go out of my way to smoke.  I have one left in my humidor, a Salamone.  I hope that the larger format is more to my liking.

3x3_s

Saturday I went for the 3×3 robusto, also purchased at Cigar Cigars a couple weeks ago for just over $3 each.  As I mentioned previously, this is a budget line from the makers of Davidoff.  It’s presented bandless in an aluminum tube.  I had high hopes for this given its pedigree, and it was a very well constructed cigar, although the draw was a little firm.  It had that nice, mild flavor you would expect, however, there was a metallic flavor that over-shadowed the good flavors.  I am surprised that they packaged this cigar in just an aluminum tube.  I took a sheet of cedar that I had laying around and put it in the tube around the other one of these I have in hopes that this metallic taste will dissipate with some age.

So, in short, not a great cigar week.  I can’t complain too much though, as I’ve had a whole lot more good cigars than bad lately.  But the evenings that I can comfortably sit on my front porch and enjoy a cigar are getting scarce.  It won’t be long before I begin my winter exercise program, which I call “Take a Cigar For a Walk”.  More on that another time.

Until the next time,

CigarCraig

A Sunday In Phoenixville, PA

Sunday was a beautiful autumn day and I wanted to take a ride on the scooter (2005 Yamaha Majesty 400).  Last week we had come across a shop we hadn’t seen before, right on the main drag in Phoenixville, down the street from the historic Colonial Theater (one of the locations where the 1958 classic “The Blob” was filmed).  I decided it was as good a time as any to take a ride, check out a cigar store, and hang out with an old friend.craig_jeff_101109 I called my childhood friend Jeff, and we arranged to meet at the shop.  I arrived to find The Twisted Leaf closed, despite the fact that the sign in the window, as well as their website, said they were open from 12-5.  (There’s more to this that I’ll save for a future post, short story is: if you are going to say you’re open, you should be open!).  Fortunately I had a back-up plan in another Phoenixville shop, aptly named Cigar Cigars.  We spent some time in the humidor looking at the selection.  This shop has a pretty decent range of cigars.  When Jeff and I reconnected earlier this year, we discovered that we shared an appreciation for cigars, although I’m probably a little more of a fanatic than Jeff.  I wanted to select something on the milder side, since Jeff had mentioned Macanudo, so I was looking for something along those lines.  I noticed the Macanudo 1968, which I hadn’t yet tried, but have read many reviews and heard about them on the podcasts.  I was surprised to see the Trompeta in a box separate from the regular display box, and priced under $5. mac68_trumpeta_1 I was surprised by the price, so I grabbed two and we took them to the clerk.  As they rang up at $7, I was asking the clerk why they were so much cheaper than the regular 1968 line.  It turns out that the box in the humidor was mis-marked, so we got a good deal.  Jeff picked up the tab for these, which is something I’m unaccustomed to, in my world, I’m the one who supplies the cigars…but Jeff, thank you, my friend!  The Trompeta is a brand new shape in this line, a figurado which tapers from 40 to 60 ring guage over 5 inches.  It was a very tasty cigar, much stronger than the regular Macanudo line.  I really like this format, it has the comfortable hand and mough feel of a corona, and the cool burning of a robusto.  Very nice cigar.  Hopefully Jeff will read this and add his thoughts in the comments of this blog.  We smoked the cigars in the shops lounge area, seated on leather couches with a game on the TV.  It was a very nice way to spend a couple hours.  cigarcigarsI picked up a couple cheappies on the way out, something called “Rebels Choice”, which I’m guessing is a house brand, this chain of stores used to be called Rebel Valley, these were priced at $1.95 for a corona.   They look to have a shade grown wrapper, I will certainly comment on these in a future post.  The other item that caught my eye was a tubo called 3×3.  These are packaged in a plain aluminum tube, which contains an unbanded robusto (they had a churchill too).  It also looks like a shade grown wrapper, and, after doing a little research, it appears these come from Davidoff of Geneva.  I look forward to trying the 3×3, the Davidoff factories in the Dominican Republic are legendary for thier production of quality crafted cigars.  I expect a mild and flavorful cigar with an impeccable burn.  If this can be accomplished in a cigar that retails right around $3.25, I will have to get more of these.   One cigar I had in mind for Jeff to try and didn’t see on the shelf was the Santa Damiana, which I thought would suit his tastes.  These are a really tasty mild to medium cigar from the cigar making giant Altadis.   It turned out to be a great day to take a ride, have a cigar with a freind, and just sit for a couple hours before embarking on what turned out to be a very long work week.

Thank you for taking the time to read, and please feel free to comment.  I would really welcome the input.
Until next time,

CigarCraig

Weekly Cigar Ramblings

I’ll have to start out by re-winding to last Saturday night.  I had planned to take my sons, 15 and 20 to a local establishment to see an old high school friend’s band play.  The enormous bouncer at the door turned us away because you had to be over 21 to come in because it is a “smoking establishment”!  Well, I had mixed feelings about this, especially since I really tried to contact the place beforehand to see if I could bring my boys and couldn’t get through.  I though it would be OK since the band was playing in the “dining area” and not the bar.  I took the boys home and grabbed some cigars.  When I returned and asked if cigars were OK I was told that smoking was permitted in the bar!  I was trying not to be indignant with the bouncer who was easily twice my size, and he was very apologetic that the rules were so goofy.  I sat down to enjoy the excellent classic rock stylings of Now and Then.  They are a 3 piece band and are very, very good.  Mid way through the set the bouncer came to me and said that he had torano_exodusbeen informed that it was OK to smoke where I was sitting so I got an ashtray and lit a Toraño Exodus Gold Churchill.  I’d gotten about an inch into this cigar, which was really a nice, smooth cigar, when the band finished their first set.  Greg came over and we did some catching up.  Greg and I played drums together in high school band and hadn’t really seen one another since.  It turns out that he live a few miles away from me, and has a cigar interest.  No sooner is the band ready to start the second set, the power goes out!  Long story short, the bar decides to close after finding out it was a transformer in the area and the band packs up.  No sooner do they get loaded up, the power comes back.  I did get to finish my cigar and catch up with an old friend.

cliff _fwd_100709Fast-forward to Wednesday night, when we took the boys to Steel City Coffee House in Phoenixville to see our friend Cliff Hillis perform with his band, the Forward Thinkers.  The only cigar experience to report is that we parked in front of a cigar shop I hadn’t seen before, Twisted Leaf, which I will try to visit this weekend and provide a report.  Cliff always does an excellent show, and the band was very tight.

Finally, last night (Friday), I finally got the chance to sit on my front porch and relax with a cigar.  I went with the  Camacho Connecticut from the Black Band Project.   blackband_AThe Black Band Project was a marketing thing Camacho did where they tried to do the “viral video” thing.  One was required to watch 4 videos over a month’s time and after you had watched all of them they sent 3 cigars.  They kept Camacho’s involvement a secret until the end.  I received a Connecticut, a Corojo and a Triple Maduro.  I used theCigarSpike again with good results.  Like the candela version I like so much, the Connecticut shade wrapper does a nice job of tempering the strength in this cigar.  I liked it, it was smooth, yet very flavorful.  I look forward the trying the Triple Maduro, theCorojo is an old favorite, although I always like the Havana Blend the best.

That’s enough for this installment.  As always, I welcome any comments or suggestions you may have.

Until next time,

CigarCraig

***Update***  I just received the following note from the legislative director of the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers regarding the PA state legislature trying to include a 30% tax on cigars:

“We stopped the Cigar Tax Increase! Your legislators read your notes and phone messages and sent to the governor a budget with no premium or large cigar taxes included! Your efforts, combined with those from other consumers and retail tobacco shop owners, helped stop this excessive and regressive Cigar Tax! Thank you for your support in helping us Protect Your Liberty!”

This is great news as a tax on cigars would have caused a ton of small tobacconists to go out of business, driven consumers to buy out of state, and let to the exodus of several very large retail/wholesale outlets to Florida.  I’d like to think that our elected officials saw the wisdom in keeping businesses open and Pennsylvanians employed.

CigarSpike Review

spike

A few weeks ago I received a friend request on Facebook from the folks at www.CigarSpike.com and was a little intrigued and curious.  My first thought was: what’s the difference between this and, say, the awl on my Swiss Army knife, or any other sharp object to pierce the cap on my cigar?  I’ve been using a single blade cutter for years, needless to say I was skeptical.  I decided to take a $3.00 chance on 3 of these and they arrived in a #10 envelope in today’s mail.

These are a heavy plastic, similar to a heavy guitar pick.   I tried one tonight out on a Montecristo #5, which had a pretty flat head.  I moistened the cap a little and pushed the Cigar Spike into the cigar.  It just seemed to make too small a hole, so I gave it a little twist to open it up.  before_after The draw was a little tighter than I prefer, which I attributed to being used to the full cut of the guillotine cut.  I was getting a decent smoke volume though, so I soldiered on.  The Monte #5 was a tasty little cigar which was a few years old.  It had that little bit of a citrus tang to it that I’ve noticed before in the smaller Montes.  This is a small cigar, 4″ x 40 ring gauge,  which was burning surprisingly slowly.  I was curious at this point so I pulled out my cutter and lopped off the end.  This particular cigar was a little tight, so it wasn’t a real good test of the Spike.  Still a darned tasty cigar, but I’ll  try the Spike again on my next cigar.  I have some Camacho Corojo Candelas that  usually have a  pretty loose draw that will be interesting to try this on.  I put one on each of my key rings, mostly because I can see myself losing these easily, but I can see an advantage to having something to put a hole in a cigar if I’m caught without the necessary tools.  I’ve certainly spent $3.00 more foolishly than on three of these Spikes, I’ll keep trying these and report back after further testing.

Until next time,

CigarCraig

Postscript 10/3 – I tried the Spike again with the Camacho that has had a very loose draw and it really made a difference.  The cigar burned well and smoked with the firmness that it should.  There seems to be a place for this tool, the trick is knowing in advance how the cigar will draw.  I’m guessing pierce first, then cut if it seems restricted.  — CC