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.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

El Baton

I was given this cigar by John over at Diebel's on the Plaza and asked if I'd give him my opinion of it. I think he said this was a new size he's considering carrying. John said that this cigar was being marketed with smoker's like me in mind; I'm assuming that means relatively new smokers.

Info is fairly scarce on this brand. I've read that these are made by J. C. Newman Cigar Co. (the makers of the Cuesta Rey line) and is a Nicaraguan-made product of Nicaraguan puro content.

So, that said, here goes . .

Contents: Nicaraguan Corojo
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo
Size: Toro? approx. 6 x 56
Body: Medium
Acquired From: Diebel's on the Plaza
Price: $6.00 range (so I'm told)
Smoke Time: 2 hours +

The wrapper was a bit veiny and thick. The cigar felt firm with some springiness, and slightly lumpy. The aroma of the cigar was of rich compost. The final cap on the double-capped head was a bit off-center and coming loose, but that's where I cut it so no problems there. The draw was perfect and imparted sweet chocolate flavors with a little pepper on the lips.

First Third
The cigar was easy to light with great smoke output. Flavors were of mild coffee/roasted chocolate with a touch of pepper at the back of the mouth with a smooth mild finish. It was reminding me of a JFR product at this point. The aroma was of mild roasted chocolate. The burn line was a little wavy but never wildly uneven. The mild pepper moved in and out of the flavor throughout this third. The firm, white ash held on throughout this third as well. No problems here.

Second Third
The flavors moved into more of a black coffee/tobacco profile as the burn remained slow and consistent. By the end of this third the coffee flavors gave way to general tobacco flavor and I found myself wishing for a return of the chocolate. Great smoke volume and consistent but wavy burn continued. Only one burn correction was needed in this third.

Final Third
The flavors were starting to turn bitter at times until about the time I reached where the band would have been. At that point I could get only an occasional hint of coffee/tobacco. With about two inches left, it had reached the wholly unpleasant phase, and I was done.

This wasn't a bad cigar, but the $6.00 price point puts it into some stiff competition. More flavorful sticks can be found for less money. While the construction was nearly perfect, I found the flavors uninteresting.

Would I smoke this cigar again? No
Would I recommend this cigar? Not unless you're a big fan of Corojo puros.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

An Evening with a Cigar Maker . .

That's how Diebel's advertised this event, and that's what I got! Unlike other cigar parties, there were no more than 50 or so people in attendance at any given time, so you really DID have an opportunity to talk with the "man of the hour." In a little over an hour I learned more about the cigar business than I could have ever read. At one point Manuel took a paper napkin and showed me how the various parts of the leaves are selected, how the parts of the leaf are used in rolling a cigar, how the flavor changes are determined. "It's like mixing a drink." he said. "Only we deal with solids, not liquids . . much harder."

I was fascinated, and he was more than happy to answer all my questions, and even threw in some great stories surrounding the trials and tribulations of the cigar business over the years. It goes without saying that I had a great time, but I did!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Manuel Quesada at Diebel's

This Thursday evening from 5-8 pm Diebel's on the Plaza will host "An Evening with a Cigar Maker:Manuel Quesada." In case you didn't know, Quesada is responsible for some of the finest cigars around, including Cigar Aficionado's No. 1 rated cigar of 2008, the Casa Magna.

As before, attending the event costs $25 up front, which gets you four cigars: the Casa Magna Gran Toro, a Fonseca 8-9-8, a Fonseca Cubano Limitado Robusto, and a completely new offering, the Fonseca TAA Robusto. This along with the usual four-for-three deals and refreshments makes this a hard party to miss. If I get the time, I'll be there. Hope you will, too!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Outlaw Party for Padron

Another great time was had at the Outlaw Cigar Co. this afternoon. Good food, good cigars and good deals were the order of the day. The Apache helicopter landed just before noon. Xikar was repeating last months 25% off deals, so I jumped in. And the Outlaw folks didn't hide the affordable stogies this time.

For those who may not be aware, Padron offers a WIDE spectrum of cigars ranging from $2.75 to $36+ per stick. I got the chance to try two from their Londreas line as well as two from the 90-rated 2000 series. All very fine cigars all under the $5 mark.

Despite what had been advertised, the food is no longer "free." A $5 donation is charged per plate, but return visits to the food line are free. Personally, I don't mind paying the $5; it's a FAR better deal than you'll get anywhere else for a lunch of this quality and the causes the donations serve are worthy. But something should be done to correct the advertising so people aren't surprised.

I'll be back next month for the Oliva event, guaranteed!

PS: All photos by Jennifer. I was too busy eating, smoking and buying!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cigar Store Indians

I got this little Ezra Brooks Cigar Store Indian decanter the last time we were down at the lake ($3.00) and it got me wondering about the history of these guys. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about them:

    "Because of the general illiteracy of the populace, early store owners used descriptive emblems or figures to advertise their shops' wares. Indians and tobacco had always been associated because Indians introduced tobacco to Europeans, and the depiction of native people on smoke-shop signs was inevitable. As early as the seventeenth century, European tobacconists used figures of Indians to advertise their shops. Because European carvers had never seen a Native American, these early cigar-store "Indians" looked more like black slaves with feathered headdresses and other fanciful, exotic features. These carvings were called "Black Boys" or "Virginians" in the trade. Eventually, the European cigar-store figure began to take on a more "authentic" yet highly stylized native visage, and by the time the smoke-shop figure arrived in the Americas in the early eighteenth century, it had become thoroughly "Indian.""

You can see finer, wood-carved examples, and read more about their origins at

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This Saturday!

Yet another Outlaw Party! Who's with me?

There are some pretty high-end (and high $$) offerings from Padron, but thankfully they make a few really nice, bargain smokes as well. I plan to try the Padron Londreas, available in both natural and maduro wrappers, and the 2000 series, again in both wrappers. These are well-reviewed sticks priced at $2.75 and $4.00 each respectively! Sign me up!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The good ol' days

Seen in Clinton, Mo. this weekend. Used to see this sort of signage everywhere. Not anymore. Smoking ad-bans, public sentiment, etc. have changed a lot. If you see an old cigar ad, post it!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The long and short of it . .

Nestor Miranda Special Selection Lancero

I thoroughly enjoyed a Toro-sized Nestor Miranda at the Outlaw Cigar Co. party in his honor last month, so I bought a few different sizes at that time to try later. One was the somewhat rare Lancero size, so named for obvious reasons.

It exhibited the same perfect burn and construction as the other sizes (it IS, after all, a Jose Pepin Garcia product), but I found the flavors to be quite different.

The Lancero seemed much sweeter than the Toro, with a more leathery base flavor. A combination I didn't find to be very attractive. Too sweet and too much leather. Perfect in every other way, but not for me.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Humidors & Hard-Drives

What do they have in common? You fill them up! Hopefully it takes a while, though. That's my plan with this one. It's a 100-150 count size, spanish-cedar lined beauty that I bought at a yard sale for $35. I need to make an interior shelf for it, and it needs humidification, but there's lots of room to grow here. My current 20-count box completely fits INSIDE this one! YIPES!

Top Cigar of 2008

Fonseca's Casa Magna Colorado won Cigar Aficionado's "Cigar of the Year" for 2008. Old news. But ever since that headline in January these sticks have been scarce! So when I heard that Diebel's had some Toritos (4 3/4 x 60) in stock, I jumped. Considering that this cigar, selling for from $5.00 to $7.00 depending on size, won top honors over stogies 5 times that price, I really wanted to see what the Casa Magna had to offer.

More detailed and experienced reviews are readily available, so I won't bloviate here. Suffice to say that I was impressed. Other than a cracked wrapper at the beginning, likely due to the HUGE 60 ring-gauge, there was nothing to complain about. Construction was excellent, body was full, flavors and aroma were pleasant and the overall appearance is very attractive.

This wasn't the Robusto size that won the CA judges over, (good luck trying to find one of those) so maybe the Torito is not as good. Either way, if you can find one, try one. You'll not be disappointed!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Kristoff Criollo Robusto

This is a very impressive looking cigar! With its medium brown course-leaf wrapper tied in a sausage-twist pigtail at the head and folded over at the foot, it brings to mind old-world Cuban craftsmanship. These come in cedar boxes packed around loose tobacco leaves looking as classy as they can be. I was really looking forward to getting into this one!

Contents: Cuban-seed Nicaraguan
Wrapper: Dominican Olor
Size: Robusto 5 1/2 x 54
Body: Medium
Purchased From: Fidel's in Westport
Price: $7.00 (if I remember right)
Smoke Time: 1.5 hours

The wrapper is course, veiny and thick. The cigar feels firm and not crunchy. Cutting only the pigtail from the head, the cold draw is surprisingly free, considering the small opening and nearly closed foot. Cold flavors are wonderfully spicy and sweat.

First Third
Slightly uneven burn, but great clouds of smoke. Flavors are mainly of black coffee/espresso with a hint of butter and a smooth finish. I was somewhat disappointed that there wasn't any of the spiciness I'd found in the pre-light, though. Aroma is pleasantly sweet. Even Jennifer found it "much less offensive than most."

Second Third
The uneven burn begins to worsen, demanding corrections, and the flavor starts to get harsh and bitter. The draw seems far too free as the smoke gets hot after normal puffs, indicating a loosely packed stick. Weaker puffs improve the flavor, which has begun to shift from the initial coffee/espresso profile to more of a sweet leather. Relights are required and I'm skeptical about going much farther with it. The aroma is still pleasant, though.

Final Third
More relights and burn corrections. It's getting increasingly difficult to get anything but hot, bitter harshness from this great looking cigar.

Although plenty of cliches come to mind, this wonderful looking cigar may be at its best while still in the box. I've been told that quality varies with these, so you may do better than I, IF you're willing to give it a try. For my money there are far too many cigars left out there to return to a poor performer in the hopes of a better experience.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Truly TRUTH in advertising!

The description of these cigars, sold by Cigars International, is truly refreshing! No flowery prose boasting rare and distinctive blends from exotic locations; no claims of high ranking reviews and award winning makers. Thanks CI for some all-too-rare honesty!

Or is it maybe reverse psychology? Hmmm . . . Maybe these cigars really aren't THAT bad?