cigars international

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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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

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