camacho

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

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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

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…)

Cigar Event: Herf At Reno Dammit! (H.A.R.D.) Part 2

Sunday started with coffee at Mel’s Diner at the Sands with Mark, Anita, Jim and Randall.  We were expecting the rest of the gang to show up, but we only saw Gary and his family on our way out.  We got packed up and Mark, Anita and I said our good byes as they headed back to California, and I went back to park myself at the CalNeva sports book for another day of hanging out with friends and smoking cigars. Notable smoked included  Liga Privada T52,  Saint Luis Rey Serie A and  Camacho Candela.

The crowd was a little smaller today and I was able to hang out with some different folks:  Bob C, Richard, Steve, Keith and Mike G, Mike H, amongst others. Some folks had bets on the football games, Steve S had to leave earlier than planned, but had to stay for the Patriots/Jets (I think) game as he had placed a multi-game bet and apparently the Patriots gave him some cause for concern (he was sweating…). The Patriots covered the spread and he cashed out and hit the road. Sunday evening those of us who were left all went to the buffet at the Eldorado which was just way too much great food.  I had a piece of prime rib just to be able to say I had prime rib three days in a row.  Hung out for one last cigar and called it a night.

I’m a pretty nervous traveler, so Monday morning I arranged for a 7 AM shuttle to the airport. I had a 10:00 flight to San Francisco so I got there plenty early. I sailed through security, found my gate and settled in for the wait.  Reno Airport offers free wireless internet, so I was able to get some photos from the weekend uploaded to Flickr and catch up on some e-mails. The flights home were uneventful.  It was nice to get home after a great weekend.  Many thanks to Bob Greene for organizing H.A.R.D. for the 11th year. It was great seeing so many old friends and meeting new ones, many of which I had had e-mail contact with before.  It’s always fun sharing cigars with like-minded individuals. Lots of thanks to Jenn for talking me into going and making it possible!

Until the next time,

CigarCraig

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

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.