Saturday Cigar Ramblings – Jan 23, 2003

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

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

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

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

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

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