Month: December 2009

Wednesday Cigar-venture: Holt’s Cigar Company

We’re in the middle of the holiday season, a very busy time for many, so cigar opportunities have been few and far between. Couple that with the cold weather we’ve been having and I’ve had to be creative about getting a cigar experience in.  Today my 20-year-old son and I took the train into Philly and went to Holt’s Cigar Company on Walnut Street.  Holt’s is one of those “cigar mecca” kind of places that one must visit at least once in their lifetime.  It’s part of the holy trinity which includes any of the JR’s stores and Cigars International.  (One might add Famous to the list as well, but I haven’t yet made it there, and it’s inclusion would foul up my whole “holy trinity” angle.)  Holt’s store consists of an outer area where they have accessories, pipes, pens and other hardware.  Then you move into the large walk-in humidor section, with shelves upon shelves of cigars, the sales counter with Opus X, Ashton VSG, Padron Anniverasio, Fuente Anejo and other high-end goodies displayed.  Beyond that there are several other displays on the floor.   In the back of the store is a lounge area with chairs and a very nice woman who brings beverages and seems to oversee the area.  On our visit the lounge was filled.  After taking a couple passes through the store looking at all of the yummy choices, I stumbled upon an end cap with 3 and four packs of various cigars.  These appeared to  be items that they no longer carried or odds and ends of various brands.  I picked out a 4 pack of Don Lino Africa Kifaro torpedos and a 3 pack of Trinidad Coronas.  Corey (my son) and I lit up a couple of Trinidads and spent the better part of an hour wandering around the store, chatting with the staff, and enjoying our cigars.  I found the Trinidad corona to be a very nice, mild, middle of the day on an empty stomach cigar.  It burned really well and for $3.33 each was quite a bargain.  I’m looking forward to the Africas, as they have always looked good, and $3.50 each for the torpedos seemed like a great way to finally try them.  The reviews I’ve read in the past have been favorable, and they just seem like something I’d enjoy.  While the staff there is quite friendly and helpful, I was surprised to hear one salesmen recomending the Liga Privada No.9 and saying it was Drew Estate‘s first non-flavored cigar, which is inaccurate. The La Vieja Habana was actually the first cigar they ever produced, well before the Acid Cigars.  I would have offered a correction, but it didn’t really seem worth the trouble, and I did interject that the Liga Privadas are great cigars.

That’s it for the last installment of 2009.  This year has seen the beginnings of  CigarCraig.com.  The coming year will hopefully see some new content on the website, along with more contests here on the blog, as well as more varied cigar experiences and reviews.  Many thanks to everyone who’s chosen to waste their valuable time reading and supporting this!

Hava a Happy (and safe) New Years!

CigarCraig

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Happy Holidays from CigarCraig!

All of us at CigarCraig.com would like to wish you a safe and Happy Holidays!

It’s been cold and snowy here in Pennsylvania recently, but I managed to smoke a Camacho Triple Maduro on Friday before my company Holiday dinner.  It was as delicious as I anticipated it would be.  Very full bodied with great coffee and cocoa flavors.  I nubbed this robusto.  This was the “C” cigar from the “Black Band Project” which I’ve mentioned in previous posts.

Keep checking back as I am hoping to continue my series of “Cigar-ventures” next week.  Don’t forget  about the upcoming give-away sometime in January!

With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore:  Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good cigar!

CigarCraig

Random Cigar Ramblings

I was going to take a Camacho Triple Maduro for a walk this evening, but it’s just too darned cold out.  I took a National Brand corona for a walk on Monday, not a bad cigar once you get past the sweet cap, but I think I prefer the maduros in this line. Certainly decent $2 cigars.

I was listening to the Stogie Fresh 5 podcast today and Doc answered an e-mail about reviving a cigar that’s been outside of a humidified environment for an extended period.  He suggested putting the cigar in an empty cigar box with a humidity source for a week then move it into a humidor.  This sounds like a lot of work to me to make a dried out cigar smokable.  My advice would have been to put it in the bottom of your humidor and forget about it for a year or so.  Either the cigar has dried out to the point that the majority of it’s oils have gone and it won’t ever taste as good as it once did, or it didn’t dry out that much and it will taste OK.  Either way you have to treat it as an experimental cigar anyway…you didn’t know you had it in the fist place, just forget about it and let it re-humidify slowly and if it’s good you got lucky, if it sucks, you really haven’t invested too much time in its rehab.  I once was given a Cuban Romeo y Julieta tubo of some sort that had been in a desk drawer for years.  I put it in my humidor for a few years and when I smoked it was terrible.  It had lost all it’s oils and nothing was going to bring them back.  Chalked it up to experience and moved on, no loss.  Has anyone ever tried reviving a dried out cigar?

Seinfeld had some great cigar related episodes, didn’t it?  Kramer burning down George’s girlfriends cabin with gifted Havanas, Kramer becoming golfing buddies with the guys from the Cuban consulate to score cigars, and bringing in Cubans and finding out they were Dominicans (and people instead of cigars!)…classic.  There were many cigars intertwined in the plot lines over the nine seasons it aired.  Where are the cigars in today’s sitcoms?

As we head into the holidays I want to make a point of thanking everyone for reading.  I’ve got some great ideas for the blog and the website for the coming year, but none of it matters unless people look at it. Thank you.

Until the Next Cigar,

CigarCraig

This Week’s Cigar-ventures

Sometimes when one has an obsession, one will do goofy things in the name of that obsession.  Thursday evening was a prime example of that, as I found myself driving 68 miles, after a long day at work, to Cigars International‘s Super Store in Bethlehem, PA for the Toraño “Our Roots Run Deep” event.  There was a pretty good crowd when I got there, as I rode in on the hobby horse that I brought to donate to the Marine Corps Toys for Tots collection.  I took a walk around the store, which is very large and has an incredible selection of everything cigar.  I saw Paul Spence, the regional sales manager for CAO/Toraño cigars, whom I had met at a CAO event last summer.  He handed me a cigar that was being rolled right there that is a special blend for the tour.  It was a robusto with a dark wrapper and a Cameroon binder, which was quite apparent in the blend.  This was an outstanding cigar that was full of flavor and that Camarooonieness I love so much.  I hope it makes it into production.  I introduced myself to Charlie Toraño and had a really nice discussion with him, what a nice guy.  Toraño was very supportive of a couple of herfs we organized several years ago, and I thanked him for that support.  Charlie is a 4th generation cigar maker, and their family story is quite impressive dating back to 1916 in Cuba.  I have enjoyed their cigars for many years.  As a matter of fact, I smoked a Virtuoso Baton (lancero) just last night that I had gotten at the IPCPR trade show in Las Vegas last year.  What a great cigar.  Full of flavor and great construction.  I picked up a couple of the  Casa Toraño Maduro Lanceros and an Exodus ’59 50 years torpedo on the way out of the store.  Fine cigars made by fine people. I recommend attending one of the “Roots Run Deep” tour stops if you can, great folks and great cigars.

Saturday, my wife and I took a trip back to Mike’s Famous Harley Davidson in New Castle, DE to meet Danny Bonaduce, former child star and current morning radio personality on WYSP radio in Philadelphia.  As I mentioned two posts ago,   titled “Sunday Cigar-venture: Twisted Leaf – Phoenixville, PA“, Danny has been appreciating fine cigars of late, and was the guest at a recent cigar dinner.  I took the opportunity to give him a Punch Petit Coronation which he appreciated.  He took a few minutes to talk to us and was quite nice.  In the photo we took, he suggested that it would be funny if I was sitting on his knee too, and I agreed that  it would indeed be funny.   He also assured Jenn that is was his keys that were in his pocket, validation that I had made the correct choice…funny guy. He is on a mission to shake a million people’s hands in Philadelphia, so shake his hand if you see him. He was up over 95,000 when I last checked.  We managed to get out of Mike’s Famous without buying a new Harley, although they certainly have a bunch of nice bikes there.  I’m quite content with my Yamaha Majesty for the foreseeable future.

This week was the first ever CigarCraig contest.  It’s my pleasure to announce that Dennis is the winner of the Drew Estates box opener/pocket knife.  Thank you to all who posted comments and punchlines.  Watch for the next give-away in a couple weeks.

As always, your comments are encouraged and appreciated!

Until the Next Cigar,

CigarCraig


The CigarCraig.com Contest Series

CigarCraig has decided to give stuff away!  In the coming months, I will be having random contests within my blog.  I will attempt to have a least one give-away per month inserted into my regular blog posts.  They will not be announced or appear in the blog title.  Your entries will be in the form of comments to the blog. If you’re new to commenting on my blog I  will need to be approved by me, so don’t get all freaky if your post doesn’t show up right away, I’ll get to it as soon as I can. I will keep the comments open for 48 hours, after which time I will close the comments and a winner will be selected.  In the case of random drawings, I will employ the fairest of selection techniques, which involves spreading the entries out on the floor, staring at them intently, and waiting for one of the cats to lay down on the winner.  One entry per person or you risk being shunned for all eternity. Contests will be different every time, and the prizes will vary, but will always be cigar related and worth your trouble.

Today’s contest prize is a very cool box opener/pocket knife from our friends at Drew Estate .

To enter, please use the comment box at the bottom of this blog post.  In the comment, I want the punch line to your best joke. A valid entry will be, for example, “why the long face?”** The best entries  will be the ones that make me laugh without me knowing the joke. Make sure you use a valid e-mail address so that I can notify the winner, which will also be posted in the following blog post.   Today’s contest will close on Friday, December 11 at 6:00 pm.

This is a great opportunity for you to subscribe, either RSS feed or e-mail, so you never miss an episode.  There are links to both on the right-hand side of the blog page, and there is an RSS link in the left column of www.cigarcraig.com.

Until the Next Cigar,

CigarCraig

**”A horse walks into a bar and the bartender says:_____”

Sunday Cigar-venture: Twisted Leaf – Phoenixville, PA

Today’s Cigar-venture took me to Twisted Leaf in Phoenixville, PA.  I had mentioned this shop in a previous post, I stopped by on a Sunday and they were closed.  They are now open on Sunday, and I spent a nice afternoon hanging out and talking with the owner, Roger, and his employee Liza, as well as another first time visitor.  Twisted Leaf is located on Bridge Street in Phoenixville, which is a very trendy area with a micro-brewery, several nice restaurants, a coffee house, and the famous Colonial Theater (The Blob – 1958).  This shop is not your typical shop.  They have a limited selection of cigars, mostly boutique cigars.  I saw Pepin Garcia‘s My Father, Alec Bradley Tempus, Tatuaje, Oliva, and Gurkha.  Roger’s philosophy is more about making an inviting place to have a cigar, as opposed to carrying every brand and size.  He’s concentrating on the boutique lines, which I think fills a niche that other cigar shops may not be able to fill.   Another niche he’s trying to fill is cigar dinners.  He’s holding a dinner Monday, Dec 7 at the restarant next door to the shop, Daddy Mims, featuring  Danny Bonaduce, former star of “The Partridge Family” and current morning radio host in Philadelphia.  Roger has been actively trying to convert Danny from cigarettes to cigars and seems to be succeding.  It looks like it would be a good time, with a generous menu and liquor tastings.  Twisted Leaf’s events can be found on their blog for those who live in, or are visiting the area. 

I bought a pair of Nub Habano 460s and lit one up.  I think the Nub is a nice cigar, but I’m always left with the feeling that I wish it was longer.  I understand that this is contrary to the whole idea that the cigar is supposed to start out at the sweet spot, but I never had a problem with cigars getting to a sweet spot.  Good, well constructed cigar, but I don’t get the hype behind it.

I had a seat on the leather couch and had a nice conversation with John and Liza, while Roger ran an errand.  It was nice to be able to sit and have a cigar in a comfortable setting, leather couch, coffee table, large ashtrays, and decent ventilation.  There was a large TV with a football game as well.  When Roger returned we had a very nice chat about his adventures in opening a cigar store.  He seems like a straight forward and un-pretentious guy with some great ideas.  I look forward to stopping back in to relax and have a cigar some time soon, perhaps meet some friends and just hang out for a couple of hours.  I think $5 or $10 for a cigar or two is a fair price for a nice place to sit and smoke.  I imagine when the weather is nice, they will get some good traffic, as that part of Phoenixville can be pretty happening on the weekends.

I’m working out the details of a contest in the coming weeks.  I’ve got some potential prizes, I’m just trying to work out the details.  I hope to make this a regular feature.

Until the next time,

CigarCraig

Running Low on Cigars…

As I was packing cigars to take to Reno, I decided to do some housekeeping in the humidor and consolidate some boxes.  Imagine my dismay when I realized that I was dangerously close to dropping below 100 cigars in the house!  I will admit that for an occasional cigar smoker like myself (fewer than one a day, and often just a couple a week) having 500 or 600 cigars in the house is maybe a bit excessive, but 100?  Let’s think about this…potentially that’s only 4 boxes, in the days when there were 25 in a box  —  Tangent:  A box of cigars should contain 25 cigars!  The current trend of 20 cigars in a box is ridiculous…think about it. If you have a box of 25 and you smoke 5, you still have 20 left…the box of 20 cigars after smoking 5 you only have 15!  I’d much rather have 20 than 15, wouldn’t you? —

Where was I…Oh yeah…so I’ve gone through the humidor and I have very few of the kind of cigars you can just grab to smoke without thinking, without worrying about where it came from and whether you have to review it.  I’ve found that I have a good many nice cigars, some CAO singles from the IPCPR show in Vegas last year, a handful of Opus X, Ashton VSG, other high end Fuentes and a pretty good handful of Havanas.  So I mentioned this dilemma to my wife, and do you think she was sympathetic?  No!  She wanted to know how long it would take me to smoke what I had on hand…I tried to explain that there were just some cigars that if I smoked I would probably never have in my possession again, either they just weren’t available, or were more than I general spend on cigars myself.  Realistically,  I suppose I do have a years worth of cigars on hand, BUT THAT’S NOT THE POINT!

Lately I’ve been making a mental list of cigars that I would like to stock my humidor with in the near future, you know, the kind of stuff you can just grab one on the way out the door, but something that you wouldn’t be embarrassed to share with a friend.  First on my list is one of my  “goto” cigars:  Maria Mancini…I like the Corona Classico, Palma Delgado, DeGaulle, and the Magic Mountain.  I’m down to a precious few of these and I’ve been stocking some in my humidors for 10 years or so.  Next on the list is La Vieja Habano from Drew Estate.  These are mixed filler and come in various sizes and wrappers.  I’ve only had the corojo wrappers, but have enjoyed them.   A bundle cigar I’d buy are the National Brand from Camacho.  Once you get past the sweetened cap, these are as well constructed and flavorful as just about any premium cigar.  I’m partial to the maduro robustos, but the natural corona is nice as well.  I think I’d get a box of Santa Damiana No. 300 to have a nice mild but flavorful cigar on hand and Don Tomas Classicos are also on the list.  Neither are in the same value category as the previous three brands, but not ridiculously priced either.  I’d probably round out the assortment with a couple bundles of Jose Piedras in a couple sizes, just because it’s really nice to be able to grab a $2 Cuban cigar that tastes great.  Mind you, the humidor restocking project is still in the dream stage until well after the holidays.  I realize to some the pictures here seem to indicate that I have plenty of cigars, but don’t be fooled!  Lake Meade may still have a lot of water in it even though it’s 10 feet down, but there are fish flopping around on the beach man!  It’s just not acceptable to be under 200….or 300…sheesh…

Until the next time,

Craig

(note:  in some circles this sort of story would costitute a mooch…not the case!  Just going for some laughs! My wife laughed at me…)