Cigar Review

Take a Cigar for a Walk (in the Snow) – Wednesday, Feb 10, 2010

Here in South-Eastern Pennsylvania we rarely get more than a foot of snow at a time, let alone three storms in a season.  Today we got about 20″ on top of the 24″ or so we received on Saturday!    After spending the day going in and out trying in vain to keep ahead of the mounting snow, I realized I needed to take my walk to the local convenience store to pick up a Powerball ticket!  I had pulled a Chateau Real Maduro Gran Cru out to give to the snowplow guy when I saw him, but when he didn’t come around again I decided it was too much trouble to put it away.  I love these cigars, they have enough flavor and are constructed well enough to withstand the blizzard.  It was so good that I hung out on the porch for a few minutes after getting home to finish it off. Incidentally, I used my Drew Estate cutter on this cigar and got a perfect cut.  Remember to leave me a comment on Monday’s Blog posting for a chance to win one yourself! 

I have been contemplating making some website changes and moving this blog to a WordPress blog hosted on the CigarCraig.com server.  Have a look at the beta version at http://www.cigarcraig.com/blog/ and let me know what you think.  If anyone has any advice on how I can put an E-mail subscription on there I sure would appreciate it.  I have some other minor concerns, but that is the one item that is keeping me from taking it live.

That’s it for now!  I’m REALLY looking forward to spring!

Until the next cigar,

CigarCraig

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Monday Cigar Ramblings – January 8, 2010

I think I left my ashtray on the picnic table...

Two feet of snow here in southeastern PA kind of got me off of my schedule.  To add insult to injury, they are predicting another 12″ to 18″ on Wednesday!  I don’t know where we are going to put it.

Here’s my winter smoking strategy:  Since conditions aren’t right for enjoying a premium cigar, I like having some more pedestrian cigars on hand for taking my walks in the cold weather, or shoveling or even just standing around outside.  This week I dug out some old cigars that may not have been great when they were new, but age hasn’t hurt them.  I smoked a couple of unbanded cigars and a JR Alternative that was given to me in a mixed bag of cigars when my bother-in-law gave up cigars years ago.  I’m suspecting all of these were around 10 years old.  They all burned well and tasted well aged, smooth and mellow, but enough flavor to be satisfying even out in the cold.  I hate to smoke a really good cigar under these circumstances.  One exception to this was a Hatuey Double Wrap 5 x 50 that I enjoyed while hanging out outside watching a friend work on one of our cars.  I had the propane heater out there and it was before the snow.  This cigar was a barber-pole cigar with  Connecticut shade and Connecticut broad-leaf wrappers that was very nice.  I really couldn’t taste any difference in the two wrappers but the overall flavor was good.  I look forward to better circumstances to enjoy the second one I have in my humidor.  I haven’t smoked that many barber-pole cigars, and, apart from the visual appeal, I don’t really see the point.  Because it’s a spiral, the wrappers have to blend together.  If it was striped, you could probably discern a flavor difference.  Feel free to let me know your opinions on this style of cigar.

In the “new inmates in the humidor” department, I received an incredible package this week from my friend Jason.  Quite a few cigars that I haven’t had a chance to try.  A veritable cornucopia of cigar goodness!   I look forward to spring and summer when I can relax on the deck to enjoy these!  Thanks Jason!

Tickets went on sale for Cigarfest this morning, but I over-slept and by 8 am they were sold out.  I’m still on the fence as to whether this event is a good value for me.

It’s February contest time! Up for grabs this month is a really cool Drew Estates cigar cutter.  I’ve been using one for the past few months and really like it.  It’s closed on one side so you can’t over cut your cigars.  I am in the habit of placing my cutter on a flat surface and standing my cigar up to cut it. This cutter removes the need to find a flat surface.  Anyway, leave a comment here to enter and I’ll select a winner in the usual manner.  I’ll make the selection and post the winner on or after Sunday, Feb 14, 2010.

Remember, you can subscribed to this blog and receive an e-mail each and every time I post a new article!

Until the next cigar,

CigarCraig

Italian Night – Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2010

After dinner we were flipping through the channels and came across the Pennsylvania Cable Network’s PCN Tours show featuring the Avanti cigar factory in Scranton, PA.  The PCN Tours show is an hour-long, very simple, tour of manufacturing facilities in Pennsylvania.  DVDs are available for purchase on the PCNTV.com website.  The tour was given by Avanti Cigar Company President Don Keating.  It was interesting to  see how this 100-year-old company uses machinery and techniques that are unchanged in at least 50 years.  They make thousands of Italian style cigars every day and they age them for quite a while before they are packaged and shipped.  This company really prides themselves on creating a high quality and consistent cigar.   Ironically, my wife and her father came home with baked goods from Termini Bros today.  After devouring a delicious biscotti and a cannoli, I ran out to the drugstore and picked up a pack of Avantis.  I’ve smoked plenty of  Toscano cigars, I had some Antico Toscanos from Italy years ago and enjoyed them.  Typically they are rugged cigars, often called cheroots, or  stogies.  Nothing subtle about them either and since they are dry cured, they keep for ever.

I am also a fan of black licorice.  The Avanti’s dominant flavor is anise, smoking on is like eating a package of black Twizzlers.  The PCN Tour show showed them painting the cigars with anise liqueur, and they load it on.  I was surprised at how long this little ugly cigar lasted, it was about a 45 minute smoke. This was an interesting change of pace, and I will enjoy these from time to time, and they have fewer calories than a box of Good ‘n Plentys!

Sunday I took a walk to pick up my car and smoked a 10-year-old Dominican cigar that was from E-Stix.com, an internet reseller from the ’90s which is, sadly, no longer operating.  It was actually a tasty cigar, it held up well after all these years.  It was a Churchill sized cigar that lasted the entire 3 mile walk.

Enough for now!  Until the next cigar,

CigarCraig

Saturday Cigar Ramblings – Jan 30, 2010

The outside temperature has gone from tolerable in the beginning of the week to frigid.  Wednesday evening I managed to take a Vegas Robaina Famosos for a walk.  Several years old, this hermoso (5″ x 48) was the perfect size for the occasion.  It burned well and tasted great!  I was sorry when I had to put it down.

In the Cigar  Media:

I saw an article on Cigar Aficionado by James Suckling regarding Cuba’s Best Market.  The article throws some numbers around regarding the number of Cuban cigars that are sold in the US, ranging from 20 million to 50 million (with 50 million representing one third of Habanos S.A.’s annual production).  I think that when the embargo is eventually lifted there will be such a huge rush on Cuban cigars that the quality will be terrible, and the rest of the world will be mad at us for smoking up all their cigars!  Cuban cigar hungry Americans will stampede to their local cigar store to try what has been unavailable here for almost 50 years.  There will be abundant fakes and what are legitimate will be mistreated.  I don’t look forward to that day.  While I enjoy the occasional Havana cigar (I like the flavor of them) I don’t think they are better than many cigars currently available.  We are in a time when there are such great cigars being made outside of Cuba that there is room for all of them in the market.

Camacho Cigar‘s website posted some pictures of an event where the inimitable Pauly Shore was spotted with a box of Liberty’s.   Click  here for the pics.  I have been a Camacho fan myself for many years, going back to the first one I had in 1996.

Cigars One to One podcast on Cigarmedia.tv featured Andre Farkas of Viaje Cigars, which were featured on last week’s Dogwatch Cigar Radio podcast.  This sounds like an interesting cigar to try, especially the 50/50 which is blended to be, from the way I understand it, two separate blends which transition from one to the other midway through the smoke.  It just sounds like it would be interesting to try.

A Lehigh Valley TV news outlet reports that Cigars International is opening their new headquarters in Bethlehem, PA on the site of the old Bethlehem Steel.   CI says there will be 50 jobs created.  I hope the state of Pennsylvania realizes that if they had gone through with their proposed tax on cigars this wouldn’t have happened and CI would have moved their operation to Florida.  In related news, CI’s Cigarfest tickets go on sale Monday, February 8.  I have never attended this event, but I’m considering it this year.  If anyone has gone in the past and can tell me about it, please leave a comment or e-mail me. If you’re going this year, please let me know so we can meet up!  Obviously I’m always looking for  new cigar-ventures and this looks like a good one.

Cigar Rights of America reported this week that the Governor of Massachusetts is recommending a tax increase on cigars from the already punitive 30% to 110%. What are people thinking when they suggest such things?  That people are just going to roll over and accept it?  Obviously they aren’t thinking that people are going to buy from out of state and that businesses are going to close and people are going to be unemployed and the state will lose ALL of the taxes instead of increasing their revenue.   Stupid, Stupid, Stupid.  If you haven’t already, please consider joining the CRA to help protect our rights.

Well, that’s all I can manage to go on about right now.  Thanks to everyone for reading and remember that you can subscribe to this blog and receive updates in your inbox!

Until the next cigar,

CigarCraig

Sunday Cigar Ramblings – Jan 17, 2010

Saturday night’s “take a cigar for a walk” cigar was a Montecristo Edmundo which had been rolling around the humidor for 5 years or so, and looked lonely, so I took it for a walk and it was a good walk.  It had the flavors I expect from a Montecristo and burned very well.  This example had a small chip in the wrapper that tempered the flavor a little bit until it burned past it then the signature flavors kicked in.  I don’t know how to describe it except that I liked it.  Continuing the theme of cigars that aren’t readily available around here, tonight I smoked a 5 year old or so Fonseca KDT Cadetes.  The KDT Cadetes is a 4½ x 36 firecracker.  Time has been good to this cigar and it really delivered in the flavor department. I’ve always enjoyed the presentation of this line, the white tissue wrap is a nice touch and sets it apart from other marques.  It was a very satisfying half hour or so smoke that was a good accompaniment to the latest issue of Smoke Magazine.

Speaking of the latest addition of Smoke, I’m surprised every quarter when it arrives at how thin the magazine has become.  That being said, it does have some interesting articles about cigars.  There was a time several years ago that I would look at the panel of tasters and know several of them.  Not anymore, however the one familiar face that surprised me in this issue was Brian Propp, former Philadelphia Flyer player and broadcaster.  As a hockey fan it’s nice to see someone like that included on the panel.  Something about the fact that of all of the cigars reviewed were in the 90s with a few in the 80s kind of makes me wonder.  Are there that many great cigars out there now.  I’d like to see a dogrocket in there once in a while.  There are also articles about Ernest Perez-Carrillo and Matt Booth that caught my interest.

If you are interested in art, take a look at some of the art of Michael Godard (http://www.michaelgodard.com/), “Rockstar of the art world”.  We saw some of his work this past summer at a showing at Resorts International in Atlantic City that was shared with another rockstar, photographer Mark Weiss.  Godard’s work focuses on the good life, with a strange fascination with olives.  He has some cigar themed works that are very nice, although I’m told he prefers to smoke Marlboros.  Unique work to be sure.

On the blog front, I found “The Arzt of Cigars” on CigarMedia.tv to be quite interesting.  One of his points that resonated with me was his opening segment about the Cigar Rights of America, an organization that I’m proud to say I support.  The CRA is fighting for our rights to continue to enjoy a legal product.  Granted, there is no convincing the anti-smoking set that we are right, it’s like arguing religion.  The CRA works tirelessly to make sure we continue to be able to enjoy cigars without smuggling and sneaking around.  Support the effort if you are able.  Mr. Arzt makes several other points about reviews and the latest New York City law that requires anyone selling tobacco to display graphic posters with diseased lungs and gums and such, while at the same time the Health Department published a brochure telling heroin users how to shoot up properly.  Can someone explain this to me?  The inmates are truly running the asylum there.

Enough of my ramblings, until the next cigar,

CigarCraig

Friday Cigar Ramblings – Jan. 15, 2010

It’s the end of another week. Tonight’s “take a cigar for a walk” cigar was the Perdomo Fresco Torpedo. This is a budget priced bundle cigar, I had purchased a single a few weeks back out of curiosity for around $3.00,  bundles can be found for under $50. This was a pretty cigar with a Connecticut shade wrapper and measured a hefty 6½” x 54. It was mild to medium with a nice creamy flavor and an even burn. I really had no complaints about this cigar and will pick up a couple more sometime. The band is enormous and shiny! Good for 2 miles!

In today’s cigar news Swedish Match (Macanudo, Partagas, La Gloria Cubana, etc.) and Scandanavian Tobacco Group (CAO, Toraño) announced plans for a merger. You can read Frank Seltzer’s article about it on Cigar Weekly. My good friend and tobacconist Jason told me a couple years ago that the industry was consolidating, a prediction that is coming true.

As I’m typing I’m sitting in on the Dogwatch Cigar Radio‘s live Stickam chat. This was the first time I’ve done this and it’s interesting to listen in on the recording of the podcast. The folks in the chat are quite friendly. Stickam seems to be a little unstable though as it keeps losing the connection.  In the end, they went on to record the podcast without Stickam.  They had just returned from a trip to Estili, Nicaragua with a group of listeners.

Click to Enlarge

A few weeks ago I posted about going to Holt’s flagship store in Philadelphia. I’ve put together a modest prize pack from that trip (and I’ll probably throw another cigar or two in before I send it out) which is the prize in this months contest. The rules are simple: Post a comment to this blog post, about a cigar, constructive criticism, whatever. The winner will be selected in the usual manner: The entries will be spread out on the floor in front of me and I will gaze at them intently, the first one that one of the cats sits on will be the winner. I will e-mail the winner for their mailing address.  The contest will run until Friday January 22.

Until the next cigar,

CigarCraig

Random Cigar Ramblings – Jan 8, 2010

One of the Christmas presents we received this year was an enormous cigar lighter….er…a  table-top patio heater from my brother-in-law Mario.  I decided to test it out tonight as a cool down after my cigar walk.  Last year I needed to lose a few pounds, so I developed a fitness program which entailed nightly walks in my neighborhood accompanied by a cigar.  My theory is that if I just took a walk in the freezing cold I’d go once around the block and haul ass inside where it was warm.  The cigars forced me to keep walking until the cigar was done.  A robusto is good for about a mile and a half, a toro or torpedo is good for 2 miles, and a Churchill would get me about 2 and a half miles.  Through watching what I ate and the cigar walks I was able to drop 23 pounds in 13 weeks, and I’ve kept most of it off.  Tonight I grabbed a  Don Lino Africa Kifaro, which is a 2 mile, I mean 6 ¼” x 52, torpedo that I picked up when I visited Holt’s last week.  The evening was crisp, 27 F with a wind chill making it feel like 14. Under these conditions a mild cigar can get lost, but this cigar had a really nice flavor, and the ash held on for almost 2 inches.  The Cameroon tobacco in the blend really came through, and if you like the Cameroon flavor profile, which I do, I think this is a cigar worth trying. The heater was helpful while I finished off the cigar, but is really only meant to take the chill off a brisk evening, it lacks the horsepower to heat up more than a small area on such a cold evening.  This will be a great addition to the deck on those spring and fall evenings after the sun sets and it gets cool.

Sometime last May I placed an order for a special deal on a sampler of Romeo y Julieta Habana Reserves which appeared in several magazines.  I thought $7.95 for a Robusto, a Toro, a Churchill and a Belicoso was a great deal.  The ad said that it would take 6-8 weeks.  I had forgotten I’d placed the order until last week when a $7.95 charge showed up on my credit card and UPS dropped off a package.  Maybe I misread?  Was it 6-8 months?  Worth the wait anyway, I think the Belicoso retails for about $6.50 so 4 cigars for $8 is pretty good.  I think this offer is still available at www.ryjhabanareserveoffer.com.

The Austin Chronicle is holding it’s annual music poll again this year and our friends the 25 Smokin’ Figurados, who placed in the top ten in 2 categories last year, are in the running again.  Please head to http://www.austinchronicle.com/feedback/musicpoll/09/ and vote for the Figs!

– AUSTIN BAND OF THE YEAR: 25 Smokin’ Figurados
– AUSTIN SONG OF THE YEAR:  “I Wash It Down”
– AUSTIN ALBUM OF THE YEAR: “Divine Spirits, Holy Smoke”
– BEST NEW AUSTIN BAND: 25 Smokin’ Figurados

Under BEST PERFORMING BANDS, please fill in the band’s name in the following categories:

– ROCK: 25 Smokin’ Figurados
– INDIE: 25 Smokin’ Figurados
– NONE OF THE ABOVE: 25 Smokin’ Figurados

Under BEST AUSTIN MUSICIANS please vote for Bryan Anderton,Gregg Kirk, for producing/engineering “Divine Spirits,Holy Smoke”

CONTEST!

After you vote, leave me a comment here letting me know you voted and I will select a winner at random to receive a copy of the 25 Smokin’ Figurados CD “Divine Spirits,Holy Smoke”!  This contest will close on Friday, January 15, 2010, at which time I will announce a winner.  The CD is also available for purchase through the Amazon.com widget on the CigarCraig.com “cigarcraigslist” page, among other places.  These guys are great cigar fans, they even have cigar and drink pairings for each of their songs on their website.

That’s it for now!  Until the next cigar,

CigarCraig