Monday, November 16, 2009

Scarritt Cigar Lounge?

Yes, the Scarritt Cigar Club needs a lounge. Preferably somewhere in the neighborhood! 39 degrees with sleet is not the proper outdoor atmosphere in which to enjoy a finely crafted stogie. Ideas? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Spreading the word . .

Ashton Cigars at the Outlaw Cigar Co. this saturday! This may be last party to be held at the north location this season!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Camacho Triple Maduro

It's been a while since I've done a full review so I thought I'd do something special . .

There's been a trend lately toward producing specialty cigars with a "gimmick" (for lack of a better term). The Cain all ligero comes to mind. Most of these, in my opinion, are designed purely with marketing in mind. A hook, if you will, to get you interesting in trying it. The Camacho Triple Maduro would seem to be one of these. If you like maduros, how about a TRIPLE maduro?

Maduro isn't really a leaf, but a process that produces a darker, richer flavor much like the difference between dark and light chocolate. Maduros are more time consuming to produce so are usually reserved for just the wrapper of a cigar. In the Camacho Triple Maduro, however, the wrapper as well as the binder and filler are made with maduro-processed leaves.

Contents: Honduran
Wrapper: Honduran
Size: 50/4.5 or 4.5x50
Body: Full
Acquired From: Famous Smoke Shop (online)
Price: $11.30 a single, $33.90 per 5 Pack
Smoke Time: 1.5 hours

The wrapper was dark, thick and a little lumpy. The cigar felt firm and well packed. The aroma of the cigar reminded me of chocolate brownies and compost. Composted brownies, maybe? The draw was perfect, with sweet chocolate flavors leaving a little pepper on the lips and tongue.

First Third
After lighting it up, the initial flavors were of mild, smooth coffee and sweet brownies, with a dark tobacco finish and none of the pepper I'd noted in the pre-light. The cigar produced lots of smoke with an aroma of sweet baked chocolate. After the first inch, the flavors toned down to a cream-and-sugar iced coffee profile with mild pepper in the finish. The burn was near-perfect and I was enjoying long, slow, savory draws throughout the first third.

Second Third
The cigar began to increase the intensity of flavors and added a nice bit of spiciness with a hint of roasted nuts. The ash was firm and grey and the body was approaching the full range. By the end of the second third the burn was getting a little too wavy, necessitating the removal of the rather large band and a burn correction. The ash hung on, and by the end of this third the body was solidly into the full range, leaving me a little light-headed.

Final Third
The flavors were moving into a dark roasted coffee profile as the ash finally fell off. Mild pepper remained on the finish. While I smoked it until it became too hot, the flavor never turned overly bitter.

This cigar surprised me. There was not "too much of a good thing" at any point in this smoke. I have to say that if you like maduro cigars, the odds are good that you will love the Camacho Triple Maduro!

Would I smoke this cigar again? Yes
Would I recommend this cigar? Absolutely, despite its high price tag.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cigar Week (in review)

What a week!

It started off Wednesday with Carlos Torano at Cigar & Tabac in Overland Park, KS. Felipe Sosa was the master roller for the event and Carlos Torano made certain no guest was a stranger. Torano knows just about everybody in the cigar business and had a story about each one! I learned a LOT and had a great time. There aren't a lot of photos because I was busy with an Exodus 1959 50-Year Anniversary; VERY nice!

Friday it was Sam Leccia, founder and CEO of NUb Cigar, again at Cigar & Tabac. Sam is not your typical cigar maker, and he seems to like it that way! He makes astonishing stogies, though. I had his new Cain, all-ligero cigar. I expected something along the lines of a La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero, (a little stick full o' whop-ass) but what I got was smooth and flavorful with only a little pepper and no harshness. Yeah, I bought more.

Here are a couple shots of Sam working his craft on a special, smokeable band.

I had a great time (again) and enjoyed talking with Sam. Hope he comes back soon!

Last but certainly not least, Saturday was the Don Pepin Garcia event at The Outlaw Cigar Co. I've been looking forward to this most of the year and was NOT disappointed! I even won a Pepin T-Shirt in the raffle at the end of the day!

Want to see two perfect cigars rolled in under 2 minutes?

Great cigars (do I really have to say that?), great food, Ford Cobras and bikes to look at, and a helicopter landing! All very nice, but meeting Jose Pepin Garcia topped them all!

(All photos -except the first one- by Mrs. f-stop.)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

KC's Cigar Week (unofficially)!

There are three major events this week of interest to cigar fans here in KC. A rare coincidence, in my estimation!

Wednesday, Sept 9th
Carlos Torano and Master Roller Felipe Sosa
at Cigar & Tabac

Meet the founder of Torano Cigars and watch Felipe Sosa demonstrate the art of rolling! The new Carlos Torano Exodus 1959 will be featured, as well as a sampling of tasty Cuban food! Cool!

Friday, Sept 11th
Sam Leccia, founder of NUb Cigars
at Cigar & Tabac

Don't know if Sam is planning anything more than a meet and greet, but I do know he's got a new product or two in the works right now, so ya never know. Should be a good time!

Saturday, Sept 12th
Jose "Pepin" Garcia,
founder of El Rey de los Habanos, Inc.
at The Outlaw Cigar, Co.
11am-who knows when!

Called the hottest brand in the U.S., Don Pepin Garcia is THE MAN to many cigar fans! Don't miss this one!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The effects of taxation . .

Turning independent people into dependents. Like I said before, where will they go for the money to fund these programs when smokers stop smoking?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What just happened??

Ever been completely blindsided by a cigar, and not in a bad way? Well . .

After punishing myself for the last couple of days with some not-so-great sticks just to clear out the humidor I decided to continue the abuse with one I'd never heard of. This Cuvee came in a sampler pack along with some very fine offerings, so my expectations were VERY low. To my surprise it reminded me of what cigars are supposed to be . . ENJOYABLE!

The Cuvee 151, made by Cusano, is a Brazilian Maduro wrapped stick filled with Dominican tobaccos, and it isn't generally cheap. A five pack of Robustos will run about $37 bucks. I found it to be smooth with flavors of creamy sweet coffee. No complex flavor changes, but with clean pleasant taste all the way to the nub, who cares! The burn qualities were excellent, it produced voluminous, aromatic smoke and a solid, clean ash. What more can you ask for?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

This Saturday . .
Camacho at the OUTLAW!

Does Camacho make a bad cigar? NO!

Don't miss this one!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Adventure at the bottom of the barrel . .
Al Capone Toro

Here's a stick that may only be of interest to our Kansas City BOTL. I was scrounging around along the floor of the humidor at Red-X in Riverside last week and found a closeout deal on all their Al Capone cigars; $1.59 each. Knowing nothing about them other than they looked halfway decent for the price, I grabbed a Toro.

Turns out, Al Capone is a brand started by a German cigarillo company in 1996 and made in Esteli, Nicaragua. There was a lot of complete crap passing for cigars in the 90's as anybody could make money selling just about anything during the "boom." Predictably, the Al Capone brand still exists but only in cigarillo sizes. Their full size cigars are apparently discontinued as I can find NONE available anywhere else but Red-X in Riverside. Maybe that's good for us, maybe not. Lets see . .

Contents: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Brazil
Size: Toro 6x50
Body: Mild-Medium
Acquired From: Red-X in Riverside
Price: $1.59
Smoke Time: 1.5 hours

This is not a beautiful cigar. The wrapper is course, lumpy and veiny and the construction is mediocre at best. It almost looks like something I might have rolled (and I know NOTHING about rolling cigars)!

After a difficult time getting it lit the cigar began to produce a pleasant, sweet coco flavor along with something I later decided tasted and smelled like oatmeal. It wasn't bad, just weird. The draw was near perfect but the burn was wavy and required a couple corrections. All this turned around after the first inch or so, though. It started burning evenly and the flavors moved out of the coco-oats profile and went solidly into mild creamy, coffee with a much more cigar-like aroma. The burn was slow and even leaving a firm white/grey ash.

By the second third I was becoming even more pleased with this cigar. No complex flavor changes but no problems, either.

Beginning the last third the burn hit something awful tasting. Strong bitterness and a difficult burn went on for about three minutes. After it cooked through whatever it was (dried bug?) we were back on track again with pleasant flavors and steady, slow burn. When it reached the 1.5-inch mark, I was done with it as the flavors had gone irretrievably sour.

In all, not bad for the price, but I'd be skeptical of a similar experience with another stick. Consistency is not likely at the "bottom of the box" condition you'll find these in.

Would I smoke this cigar again? No
Would I recommend this cigar? Sure, if you seek adventure.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Alan Rubin at The Outlaw

As I've said before, I like the Outlaw Cigar Co.'s "mini-parties." You get a better chance of actually talking with the guest of honor than at the big parties. To be honest, though, I really wasn't looking forward to this one so much. I don't know, maybe it's the traditionalist in me, but North American cigar makers like Alec Bradley and Pete Johnson (Tatuaje) have not held the same sway with me as the likes of Nestor Miranda, Manuel Quesada and Jose Pepin Garcia. Maybe I'm just a "cigar racist."

Well, no more. I was really impressed with the quality and flavor of the AB Select Cabinet Reserve torpedo I had and ended up getting three more AB stogies. I guess you don't have to be from South America or Cuba to know what's good.

These photos were taken a little later in the event and really don't reflect the amazing turn-out for this mini-party! The $35-a-bottle Scotch was just as fantastic as the cigars, and we had a great time talking with friends and cigar insiders.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Alec Bradley Mini Party at The Outlaw

I've become a big fan of The Outlaw's "mini parties." The cigars are just as good and the crowds are MUCH smaller! At the last mini-party I wound up watching basketball with Nestor Miranda! Try that at a BIG Outlaw event!

Anyway, this Saturday starting at 11:00am you can meet and chat with Alan Rubin of Alec Bradley Cigars, taste some fine scotch, and get in on some great cigar deals. All that and smaller crowds? I'll be there!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Xikar at Diebel's

This Thursday the 23rd from 5-8 PM at the Hawthorne Plaza location (119th and Roe), you can get four of the new Xikar HC Series cigars and partake in refreshments and fun for the meager price of $29.50. As usual, attendance is limited and advance tickets (available at either location) are recommended. Additional attractions include 25% off Xikar merchandise, as well as a free lighter ($100 value) with box purchase.

I've never visited the Hawthorne Plaza store; maybe this is the time!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

CAO at The Outlaw this Saturday!

Don't miss this one! It should be great!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Cigar Room, Lees Summit

I had the opportunity today to visit a shop I'd first heard of a couple months ago. In fact, the guy I bought my nice glass-topped humidor from told me about it. It's located at 108 SE 3rd Street, right in the middle of downtown Lees Summit.

Open since December, this little store features a well stocked walk-in humidor and a well appointed smoking lounge in the back. While the decor is a bit spare, they did at least have the requisite cigar store Indian. The prices I noted were well within reason, and everything is marked to eliminate mysteries.

In all, a nice little shop that deserves your patronage! Visit their website at:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hav-a-Tampa closes

(Read the Tampa Tribune story here.)

Hav-a-Tampa is not a big cigar brand, and the cigars they produce are inexpensive machine-made quickies; not at all in the same league as premium hand-mades. Their parent company, Altadis USA, however, is a HUGE cigar company that makes many different brands, premium and otherwise, both in the US and abroad. And very few cigars are made in the US these days because of the high costs.

Now there is one less, and more people unemployed. I guess my only question is: Where will the money come from to support these essential tax-funded programs when nobody smokes anymore?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Keeping Cool

We have no consistent air conditioning at home (seldom-used window units) and the temps inside typically hover around 80-85 degrees during the summer months. We're used to it for the most part, but temperatures like that can spell disaster for your cigars.

The problem isn't the temperature, per-se, but the fact that anything over 73 can lead to the hatching of tobacco beetle eggs. These eggs are so tiny they can't be seen, let alone cleaned off of every leaf. And when the beetle larva hatch they go to town eating your precious cigars!

So, what to do? The coolest, driest place in our house is the basement. A dehumidifier keeps the humidity down, but raises the temp. I'd read about keeping your humidor in a cooler with minimal ice-packs, so that's what I'm trying.

Here's the set-up: an old aluminum cooler with plastic 8x10 developing trays to raise the humidor off the bottom, and a single cooler pack off to the side. I have a darkroom thermometer at humidor height, so we'll see how well this works. I'll let you know.

Necessity is a mother, ain't she?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tabacos Baez Serie SF

When I heard that Don Pepin Garcia was putting out a new cigar in the $3.00 price range I had to try it. Who wouldn't? The Tabacos Baez line is pretty well established, so would the new Serie SF (Short Fill) be as good? And how would it stack up against other cigars in the $3.00 price range? I had to find out.

Information is hard to come by on this stick. I could assume that the same filler, binder and wrapper are used here as in the regular Tabacos Baez line, but who knows.

That said, here goes . .

Contents: ?
Wrapper: ?
Size: Corona 6x46
Body: Medium
Acquired From: Outlaw Cigar Co.
Price: $3.00
Smoke Time: 1.5 hours

The wrapper was a bit veiny and the cigar felt solid without crunchiness or lumps. The cold draw was a little firm with not much flavor except for a little pepper on the lips and tongue. This draw left a little loose tobacco in my mouth; to be expected I guess.

First Third
The cigar was easy to light and produced a great volume of smoke. Initial flavor profile was of rich tobacco with a hint of pepper in the finish leaving a pleasant sweet leather aroma. Farther in, it progressed to an earthy flavor with a touch of black coffee. The burn line was a bit wavy but was easily corrected by simply turning the cigar as I smoked. This won't be a "long ash" contest winner, but it held its own throughout. Ashing it revealed a perfect cone-shaped burn.

Second Third
The flavors stayed in the same profile but became slightly more bitter; never more than black coffee though, and the body increased to medium. The aroma remained in the same.

Final Third
I noticed a slight increase in pepperiness in the finish, and the flavor seemed to move into more of a coca profile. There was no harshness, though, even to the nub.

This was a very good cigar. I've smoked less impressive sticks at twice the price. And the price cannot be ignored. The $3.00 cost puts it into competition with Curly Heads and the like, and the Tabacos Baez Serie SF blows them away. In fact, I think it may be the best smoke in its price range. There are better cigars at less than twice this price, but the Serie SF is better than half the quality of those. Add to this the fact that I've seen advertised prices online of $37.80 for a box of 20 in this size.

I smoked the Tabacos Baez Serie SF with a lite beer, but I really think it would pair well with morning coffee if you like stronger cigars that early.

Would I smoke this cigar again? Yes
Would I recommend this cigar? Yes. For the price I don't think it can be beat.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Jose Oliva at The Outlaw

Another fine afternoon of great food, great cigars and great beer was had thanks to The Outlaw Cigar Company. This party featured Jose Oliva of Oliva Cigars. (on the left, below)

I had a chance to talk with Jose about the cigar business in general and his family's involvement in it. The family business had long been tobacco-growing. After leaving Cuba because of Castro and later fleeing to Honduras because of the Sandinistas, they returned to Nicaragua when the political climate stabilized and got into cigar making at the very start of the boom in the early '90s. It was interesting to hear about the numerous pitfalls of starting a business with some 3,500 competitors, most of which would not survive the decade. And after hearing about all the ways cigar making can go wrong, from the planting and growing to the fermentation and aging, the blending, rolling and finally shipping and storage, I can really appreciate what it takes to be successful in this industry.

The weather, and construction on I-29 may have been responsible for keeping the usually huge crowds away, and that made for a nice change, IMHO.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Buying Cigars Online

Like most people still do today, I got into cigars back in the mid '80s by purchasing a sampler pack I saw in a magazine ad. Today, it's not just sample packs and magazine ads. You can buy everything through the internet, including the finest cigars at very good prices!

But like buying anything else online, finding good cigars takes research. Just because the retailer says that these are the best cigars this side of Cuba doesn't necessarily make it so. Here are a few tips I've learned along the way:

1) Take your time. Don't be rushed into a deal just because it's about to expire.
2) Do research independently of the retailer. Read cigar reviews, LOTS of them.
3) Smoke reviewed cigars and get a feel for what the reviewer likes and where your tastes differ. This will give you a better idea of whether you might like a particular cigar or not.
4) Check availability and pricing between online retailers. You may find that a particular cigar is a "store" brand and not available anywhere else, or you may find that the special sale price offered by one is the regular price of another.

Friday, June 5, 2009

ITC 10th

This one had been in my humidor since March, so I though it was time to smoke it. The Indian Tabac 10th Aniversary by Rocky Patel celebrates (obviously) his tenth year of production with this brand.

In a nutshell, I was not impressed. The flavors started off nice but before I was even 1/3 through it the Corojo wrapper bulged and split halfway down the cigar. The splitting continued in other areas as the burn continued erratically down this stick. The flavors started turning sour and bitter at about the halfway mark and I called it at just over an hour with lots of cigar left to go.

From what I've read after the fact, this isn't unusual. Too bad.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Camacho Connecticut: The long and short of it.

The Connecticut is a new offering from Camacho in response to requests for a milder cigar. This is their first connecticut-wrapped cigar.

Mild cigars often get a bad rap. They're thought of as weak, sometimes labeled as "beginner" smokes. And Connecticut-wrapped cigars are often mild, so many cigar fans shy away from them.

But while mild in flavor, the Comacho Connecticut is NOT a weak smoke!

Contents: Honduran and Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Connecticut (Ecuador)
Size: Toro
Body: Mild-Medium
Acquired From: Outlaw Cigar Co.
Price: $7.00
Smoke Time: 2 hours

The cigar starts off with a mild but spicy flavor with a bit of pepper in the finish; very nice. But I have to say that through the first half I was easily distracted. The flavors didn't command my attention. Construction was near perfect and the even burn produced clouds of fantastic smoke.

By the second half, however, I started to "get" it. This is not your average mild smoke. The flavors didn't change much, but I found myself really enjoying it. The body picks up along the way and the flavors, while still mild, grow on you. It's kind of hard to explain, but I started to really appreciate what this cigar had to offer. It was not difficult to take to the nub!

Would I smoke this cigar again? Yes
Would I recommend this cigar? Yes. Any time of day.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Nub Cameroon

Lives up to its name. Nuf said.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Wanna Cigar?

I don't know if this guy really conveys the message a retailer wants to put forward, but I like him anyway.