Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How the best are made.

Jose "Pepin" Garcia is widely recognized as at least one of the worlds best cigar blenders/makers (if not THE best). So who better to walk you through the complete process of making fine cigars? Follow the link below to the website of Don Pepin Garcia for a video tour that will make your mouth water!

Don Pepin Cigars

Monday, April 27, 2009

Camacho at Diebel's on the Plaza

In case anybody's interested, Diebel's is having "A Comacho Event" this Thursday the 30th from 5-8 pm at their Plaza location. No surprise, they do things a little differently than Outlaw Cigar Co. when it comes to parties. First, this "elegant relaxed evening" will cost you $25 to get in, which includes three Camacho and one Baccarat cigars. I generally spend this much or more at Outlaw, so the fact that Diebel's wants their money up front makes no difference to me. Diebel's will also have the familiar "by 3 Camachos and get a 4th FREE" deal, along with wine, beer, cheese and raffle items. I'm interested in going mainly to see where this "outdoor cigar lounge" they speak of is located. The roof, maybe?

Be warned, you can't just show up for this on Thursday. "Tickets are limited, sign-up today at either store or respond by email.
Your place is held only upon receipt of your payment."

So grab your smoking jackets and ascots and maybe I'll see you there!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Carlos Fuente was here

This afternoon I went to The Outlaw Cigar Co. party for Arturo Fuente, featuring Carlos Fuente, Jr. Here he is with Outlaw model Perla:

It was a fine time, complete with good cigars, roast pork, beer and sausages. There were Corvette displays, an assortment of Harleys, and even a Chinook helicopter and National Guardsmen turned out!

I was the only one of our little group to make it, but I was FAR from alone!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Improper storage, part one

Not that this will necessarily be a long-term series, but I expect I'll find more examples of improper storage in the future.

I believe the above cigar is a good example of over-humidification. Some smaller shops have no room for humidor cases so they instead humidify the entire shop (no, I'm not going to name names here). There's nothing wrong with this except that maintaining a consistent level of humidity with the store's entry door opening and closing all day can be difficult. To compensate, shop owners will often set their humidifiers much higher than the ideal 70%. Most of the time this is no big deal, except in the case of cigars NOT wrapped in cellophane located near the humidifier.

Such appears to be the case with this JFR maduro. Over humidification leads to difficulty in lighting since the exposed filler in the foot, as well as the wrapper, take on water first. Once the light is finally established, the burn tunnels through the dryer center leaving the moister wrapper behind until the cigar finally and prematurely extinguishes itself.

This is all easy enough to fix, though. If you suspect over humidification, just age the cigars in your humidor for a couple of weeks until the moisture level returns to the ideal 70%. Then you'll be golden!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What's in YOUR stogie?

This WAS going to be a review of the "Havana Moon" labeled maduro toro I bought yesterday, but, well, that cigar didn't go very well. After fighting uneven burn problems, constant relighting and tunneling, I called it quits before the second third. So I decided to do a little autopsy and see what the problem was.

Being that this was NOT a premium cigar I wasn't surprised to find that it consisted of short leaf scraps and bits of misc. tobacco within the binder leaves. Bundled cigars are kind of a crap-shoot. Some are better quality seconds that just didn't pass the cosmetic quality check of major makers. Others are made of quality bits and scraps left over from the better makers hand-mades. These are often labeled "Hand rolled" as opposed to "Hand Made" to indicated that they're of lesser quality.

This doesn't necessarily mean you're going to get a bad cigar, but burn problems are certainly more likely.

Live and learn.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Havana Moon

Had some time this afternoon (OK, I was bored) and decided to stop into Havana Moon and see what was new. If you've never been there, it's a small shop on the north side of 39th between Wyoming and Genessee. And since it is a small space, the entire shop IS the humidor.

Among the usual top brands are what appears to be this shop's specialty: BARGAINS! There are more cigars priced under $5 a stick than any other shop I've been in, including Red X. They have a large selection of bundles and singles under their own badge as well as some of the more affordable offerings from the major makers.

I bought a JFR Maduro Torpedo and a "Havana Moon"-labeled maduro toro (more on the toro later), both for a total of $6.50. Quality cigars? Don't know yet. But at these prices it's worth a little trial and error to look for a diamond in the coal.

Nice little shop, nice little prices.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Looking for a humidor?

If you are, there's a pretty nice one at the River Market Antique Mall, 1st floor, center aisle, about midway on the east side. It was down low on a bench. Hopefully it's still there. It was about a 50-count box, nice parqueted-type inlay on the lid and had a hygrometer but no humidification device. One could be added for under $10, though, and you'd want something better than this box came with anyway. Spanish cedar interior with a nice seal.

$18.00 was the asking price. If I didn't already have a nice 20-count I'd have jumped on it. Hopefully nobody else has yet. My guess is it was a $50-$100 box when new.

Now, do you need a humidor? Well, no. Not if you're not planning on storing your stogies for more than a week or so before you get to them. They're fine in the plastic bag the retailer puts them in.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A pleasant surprise . .

In the "try everything" phase of cigar smoking, which is where I may be for several more years, you can't ignore a chance to smoke something different.

I was at the City Market this afternoon picking up a couple red peppers and I decided to stop in The Wine Cellar on the NE end. I had no idea they carried cigars, but carry them they do. A small cabinet humidor at the back of the shop has a modest selection of popular brands. Among them I found H. Upmann Aperitifs; tiny cigarillos measuring only 4 x 28. I've been looking for something small and flavorful for times when I don't have 2 hours to spend on a smoke, and H. Upmann doesn't make junk. So, for just over $2.00 I went home with one and fired it up.

WOW! This little cigar packs a lot of flavor into a 45 minute smoke. It's not the best cigar I've ever tasted, but for $2.00 (half that if you buy them online or find 10x tins) it's VERY hard to beat! A box-pressed Dominican product with a rich maduro wrapper and medium body, it smokes just like a robusto in half the time. I'll be adding a tin of these to my humidor ASAP.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Fidel's in Westport

No, this isn't a new shop, but I honestly thought it had closed a while back. The fact that they currently have no website didn't help to contradict this perception.

What I found when I walked in was a fairly small shop with floor-to-ceiling humidor cases along the side walls, a nice display of featured products, assorted empty cigar boxes and antique cigar press adorning the center of the room and a good selection of accessories stocked in the case to the rear of the shop. Everything was done in dark woods with an old-world feel. Although the selection was not as broad as the larger area shops, they seemed to stock all the major brands and sizes and prices were very much in line with other shops around town.

The staff (I believe he was an owner) was very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. He was happy to show me the old perfecto press he had on display and suggested I try one of his best sellers, the Kristoff Criollo, which I gladly bought (and will be reviewing at a later date).

There is a lounge in the back room for customers only which features a cafe-like atmosphere (it IS Westport, after all), one or more TVs and perhaps WiFi internet access. Nice.

Stop in and check 'em out next time you're in Westport!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The long and short of it . .

Here's a quickie review of the Cuesta-Rey Centro Fino No.60 (Robusto).

This cigar came highly recommended by the guy at Diebel's as a flavorful, medium bodied smoke with a good bit of spice, just what I was looking for. Construction was good; well packed tobacco inside a slightly oily sungrown wrapper. It had an easy draw and a sweet pre-light taste. Once lit, it put out CLOUDS of fragrant, mildly spicy smoke but the flavors were leathery and a touch bitter, not spicy as the aroma might indicate. The flavors and aroma stayed the same throughout the 2 hours smoke time. The burn was near perfect.

I'm not a fan of the leathery flavor profile, so this one is not for me. Now if anybody else would like to try one I'd be happy to partake in the second-hand smoke!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Rocky Patel 2008 Autumn Collection Robusto

The Rocky Patel 2008 Autumn Collection is a limited edition and will only be available until its short production run is sold out.

Contents: Honduran and Dominican fillers
Wrapper: Connecticut shade
Size: Robusto 5 x 52
Purchased From: Outlaw Cigar Co.
Price: $7.75
Smoke Time: 1.5 hours

The wrapper was thin, delicate, and a little veiny with a couple of dark spots. I noticed an unusual double-cap on the head, likely due to the fine, thin wrapper. The filler was well packed and uniform. The cold draw was a bit tight and offered little in terms of initial flavors.

First Third
A little hard to light at first, took a couple of tries, but then burned well. Smooth, but spicy and peppery to start, it quickly mellowed, loosing almost all the pepper leaving only a hint of spice. The aroma was almost "Swisher" sweet with hints of cloves most prominent when blown through the sinuses. The burn was a bit uneven but required no correction. So far a very pleasant, creamy, medium-bodied smoke.

Second Third
The uneven burn self-corrected and the flavors progressed into a very nice coffee/mocca profile. The sweet/clove aroma persisted. Towards the end of this third the cigar began to die out, requiring a re-light. Bitter ammonia flavors began to come forward. Could have been a plug of leaf-vein which needed to burn through.

Final Third
The thin wrapper began to split from heat expansion and the burn problems and bitter taste continued. Every once in a while I'd get a hint of the cigar's former glory, but the end had come. And come too soon.

A tasty and complex cigar I would have preferred to enjoy longer. Maybe it was just a bad stick, but the chances of finding another are pretty slim. This is the fifth RP cigar I've smoked and even though they were all different products, I've never been able to happily take one to the nub. That said, however, the Rocky Patel 2008 Autumn Collection cigar is one I'd definitely recommend you try, if you can find one!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Comment, Review, List and Trade

So, what have you tried lately and what did you think? What's in your humidor? Anything you'd like to trade? Any upcoming events? How about some smokes on your must-try list? Got links to reviews, or your own review?

Post it here.