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A New Home For CigarCraig’s Blog!

Please visit my new CigarCraig blog at http://www.cigarcraig.com

 

I will be posting the winner of the current contest there later today.  Please change your bookmarks and I’m still working on a way to allow e-mail subscriptions!  In the meantime follow me on Twitter @cigarcraig, where I have it set up to tweet when I post a new article!   Thanks for your continued support!

Until the next cigar,

CigarCraig

www.CigarCraig.com

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Sunday Cigar Ramblings – Jan 23, 2010

Saturday night I had the opportunity to go to a local watering hole, Williams Downingtown Hotel,  to see my  friend Greg play with his band, Now and Then.  One of the great things about this venue, and I believe I’ve mentioned it here before, is that it allows smoking!  The fact that it is a stone’s throw from home helps too. Now and Then is a trio of highly talented  musicians who play a mix of music, ironically, from now….and then!  They do a great job with a selection of classic rock and newer rock.  As a drummer myself (retired), I always enjoy great live music, and these guys ROCK.  I lit up a Chateau Real Gran Cru Perfecto maduro to start the evening.  I usually let new arrivals sit for a while, but these just looked so good, and they are!  medium bodied with a nice coffee/cocoa flavor.  I brought one of these for Greg also, who joined me between sets and very happily lit it up and seemed to enjoy it.  Greg and I went to high school together, and when we reconnected last year we found that we share the love of cigars.  Our schedules have prevented us from actually getting together for a smoke, so it was great to finally be able to catch up over a cigar.  Thanks to Greg  for giving CigarCraig.com a shout-out! I should have left you a lighter in case that cigar went out again!

Greg asked me a question last night that I didn’t get a chance to answer, so I figure this is a great place to address the question.  The question was regarding hygrometers, digital versus analog, and calibrating them.  Let me speak to calibration first:  Most of us probably don’t  want to actually change the calibration of our hygrometer, especially if it’s digital.  We want to get an idea how far it’s off so we can make a mental correction (or, if you’re like me, you write the variance on the unit so you don’t forget).

Humifiers and hygrometers out of 2 different humidors.

Here’s a simple way to test your hygrometer:  Take a small container like a bottle cap, and fill it with salt. Make the salt damp with water (don’t soak the salt completely). Place the wet salt and your hygrometer in a ziploc bag, or an airtight container and leave for 8 hours. Your hygrometer should read 75%.

I’m old fashioned. I still use florist foam based humidifiers in my humidor and cooler.  I have an old Radio Shack digital hygrometer and an analog thermometer/hygrometer that I got at a hardware store.  I rarely look at them, and rely on feel and how my cigars smoke to give me an indication as to whether I need to pay attention to my humidity sources.  I also have had a little bottle of propylene glycol for about 10 years, but my gallon of distilled water is starting to get low.  In addition to being old-fashioned, I’m also lazy.  The latest technological advancement in humidification is the polymer beads. You can get these in pre-set humidity levels and they seem really simple to use.  You can physically tell by the volume in the container when they need distilled water added.  I haven’t gotten around to trying these yet, but Heartfelt Industries seems to be a credible source for these.

If your humidity gets too high, a simple trick I’ve used is placing a container of dry white rice in your humidor.  Rice is a great desiccant, although, now that I think about it, aren’t rice producing areas usually really wet and humid?  Ironic, isn’t it?

Obviously this isn’t new or original information, but just some of my experience over the last 14 years of keeping cigars.   Cigars want to be kept in a reasonably damp environment, 65% relative humidity works for me, and they want to be at a comfortable temperature, too warm and you risk insect problems, which is another post all together.  Other than that, it isn’t rocket surgery.  I hope this information is of value to someone.

Congratulations again to our January contest winner, DJ from Boston.  Make sure you check out yesterday’s post and see the video of the selection process.

Until the next cigar,

CigarCraig

Saturday Cigar Ramblings – Jan 23, 2010

Maybe I should just name this blog “Cigar Ramblings”.   When spring rolls around and I am back to smoking cigar more regularly I’ll be able to dream up some better post titles! 

Anyway, this week I received a box of Chateau Real Gran Cru Perfecto Maduros from JR Cigars Weekly Special.  I have really enjoyed the Chateau Reals in the past and $59 for a $140 box was too good a deal to pass up.  These are another traditional blend from Drew Estates wrapped in a Mexican maduro leaf.  While I usually prefer a corona or robusto, it was hard to pass up this beautiful perfecto.

Meet the CigarCraig.com Contest Selection Committee

Last Friday I held a contest here with the prize being a couple cigars I picked up at Holt’s Cigars when I was there.  Today I conducted the highly scientific and conclusive selection process and a clear winner has been selected.  Please watch this short video of the actual selection.  My judges are beyond reproach and the results are final.  Ellie (not pictured here) made the final selection.  The video was edited for time which did not effect the outcome of the selection.

Click here to see the video or go to http://www.cigarcraig.com/video.html to see the video.

The winner as selected by the famous and proprietary cat method is DJ from Boston, apparently your “here kitty” approach was a success!  Please e-mail me your mailing address so that I can get your prize in the mail!  Thank you to everyone who participated.  I’ll be having another contest in February so keep your eye on this space.  You can also subscribe to this blog and receive an e-mail every time a new blog is posted so you don’t miss out!

Until the next cigar,

CigarCraig

Cigar-ventures – Jan 10, 2010

Last night I did something I don’t make a habit of doing, I smoked a cigar in the house.  I don’t do this too often because, as I am writing this, I can still smell the lingering aroma of the CAO CX2 that I enjoyed while watching the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning.  After enjoying the Don Lino Africa the night before, I wanted more of that Cameroon flavor.  Interestingly, the CX2 is no longer listed on the CAO website, but a little research turned up that this is now a Famous Smoke Shop exclusive.  I had thought that I got this particular cigar in July 2008 at the IPCPR show, but I’m thinking I must have had it longer than that.  This sports a Cameroon wrapper and binder and was a really nice cigar.  I managed to get almost two hours out of this robusto.  As much as I enjoy the smell of cigars, and as nice as it is to sit back and relax in your living room with a good game and a cigar, I am not a big fan of “the day after” aroma. This practice will be reserved for special occasions.

Sunday my wife suggested we go to the mall so she could do some shopping and I could hang out at the cigar shop and have a cigar.  The King of Prussia Mall is one of the largest malls on the east coast.  International Tobacco is conveniently located in the mall, however it has an outside entrance and access to the mall is through a corridor.  All malls should have such an arrangement.  The shop has a decent selection of mostly traditional brands and they are priced reasonably well considering the mall location. There was a game on the TVs and the bar had coffee and soda available.  I bought a Casa Magna Belicoso to smoke there while my wife shopped.  I chose this one because it had been Cigar Aficionado‘s top rated cigar of 2008 and I was curious to see what the hype was all about.  It looks like someone forgot to update the website for this brand, and there isn’t a lot of information out there.  These are supposed to be sold in shops only, so I guess it’s not surprising that there isn’t a lot of info on the web.  I  took a seat at the bar and lit my cigar.  The Casa Magna was a good cigar, and the $6 price tag is not bad for a good cigar. I guess I was expecting it to be a really great cigar, but  I just didn’t think it was as good as Cigar Aficionado made it out to be.   Still, if you need to go to the mall, King of Prussia mall has an oasis in the middle of shopping mayhem where a guy can park his butt for and hour or so and have a cigar!   

Please remember to go to the Austin Chronicle and place your votes for the 25 Smokin’ Figurados, and leave a comment on the last blog post for a chance to win their CD (and a couple cigars to go with it!).  Also, I’ve changed the appearance of this page, please let me know what you think.

Until the next cigar,

CigarCraig

Saturday Cigar Ramblings – Jan 2, 2010

Happy New Year!  For someone who’s been on vacation all week, I just haven’t had the chance to smoke many cigars!  The weather in Southeastern PA has been darn cold.  I find that I just don’t have the tolerance for the cold that I used to have, or it just been windier than usual, in either case, I haven’t been taking my usual cigar walks like I’d like.  I took a short walk last night on which I smoked a very old cigar from a long ago sampler pack that Jenn received from EStix.com.  It was a robusto and I had to practically cut it out of the amber cello sleeve.  It wasn’t a bad cigar, considering it was 10 years old and Dominican.  It had been in the bottom of Jenn’s humidor for the last decade, still in the (open) baggie it came in.  I have 3 more sizes left from the same bag, I’ll let them age a little longer and report back later. 

E-Stix was a joint venture between two guys who met through the alt.smokers.cigars news group. They met on a trip to Honduras to Rancho Jamestran (the Camacho factory) on a mission to blend a special cigar whose proceeds would go to the orphans left in the wake of hurricane Mitch, which devastated Honduras in 1998.  The cigar that was blended was called Esperanza par los Niños, and was a fantastic box pressed maduro.  I have a few of them left that I reserve for Fathers Day and very special occasions.

I had the opportunity to mail a cigar pack to Jim Babjak, lead guitarist and founding member of The Smithereens.  Since I’m very close to the creator of International Beatles Freak Day, and the Smithereens were an I-BFD – Artist of the Month this past year, Jim very generously donated some CDs as prizes for the I-BFD celebration coming up on January 14.  Check out www.I-BFD.com for more information.  Jim is an avid cigar smoker so I sent him a selection of my favorites as a thank-you.  I included a Liga Privada No.9 Parejo,  a CAO LX2 Rob, a Punch Petit Coronation, a Padron Londres maduro and a Camacho Havana Toro.  

Among my Christmas gifts this year was a membership to Cigar Rights of America.  The CRA is a consumer-based, non-profit public advocacy organization that works at the local, state, and federal level of government to protect the freedoms of cigar enthusiasts.  There have already been several instances in the US that they’ve successfully lobbied against smoking legislation such as banning smoking in cigar shops and cigar bars.  I support this worthwhile organization and I recommend them to everyone who is interested in protecting their rights.  Another gift was “The Autobiography of Fidel Castro”, which will be an interesting read.  I also got a 28″ high glass vase.  I’m sure you are asking yourself, “self…how is a 28″ glass vase cigar related?”  Well, it is cigar related, as it’s intended as a receptacle for cigar bands.  I’m off to a good start with about 4 years worth of bands that I’ve been stuffing into bags in my desk drawer.  It may make a good contest in the future – “guess how high the bands go”.  “Guess the number of bands” would require me counting the bands, which is just too much darned work.

That’s it for now.  Hopefully the weather improves or I can get out someplace to have a cigar soon. Selections from the Smithereens catalog, as well as the Autobiography of Fidel Castro are available through my Amazon.com widget on the “cigarcraigslist” page on www.CigarCraig.com.

Until the next cigar,

CigarCraig

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