Drew Estate

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

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, 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

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

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


The CigarCraig.com Contest Series

CigarCraig has decided to give stuff away!  In the coming months, I will be having random contests within my blog.  I will attempt to have a least one give-away per month inserted into my regular blog posts.  They will not be announced or appear in the blog title.  Your entries will be in the form of comments to the blog. If you’re new to commenting on my blog I  will need to be approved by me, so don’t get all freaky if your post doesn’t show up right away, I’ll get to it as soon as I can. I will keep the comments open for 48 hours, after which time I will close the comments and a winner will be selected.  In the case of random drawings, I will employ the fairest of selection techniques, which involves spreading the entries out on the floor, staring at them intently, and waiting for one of the cats to lay down on the winner.  One entry per person or you risk being shunned for all eternity. Contests will be different every time, and the prizes will vary, but will always be cigar related and worth your trouble.

Today’s contest prize is a very cool box opener/pocket knife from our friends at Drew Estate .

To enter, please use the comment box at the bottom of this blog post.  In the comment, I want the punch line to your best joke. A valid entry will be, for example, “why the long face?”** The best entries  will be the ones that make me laugh without me knowing the joke. Make sure you use a valid e-mail address so that I can notify the winner, which will also be posted in the following blog post.   Today’s contest will close on Friday, December 11 at 6:00 pm.

This is a great opportunity for you to subscribe, either RSS feed or e-mail, so you never miss an episode.  There are links to both on the right-hand side of the blog page, and there is an RSS link in the left column of www.cigarcraig.com.

Until the Next Cigar,

CigarCraig

**”A horse walks into a bar and the bartender says:_____”