--> Cigar Coop: December 2010

Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #1: Avo LE 10 (Limited Edition 2010) - Cigar of the Year

#1: 2010 Cigar of the Year - Avo LE 10
This is the final installment of "30 Cigars in 31 Days" - my review of the Top 30 Cigars for 2010.   We have reached the final selection and the best is saved for last - the 2010 Cigar of the Year.

My selection for 2010 Cigar of the Year is the Avo LE 10 (a.k.a the Avo Limited Edition 2010)  While all along I mentioned there were seven cigars up for the top honor, each time I considered one of the other six, it kept coming back to the LE 10.   This is a cigar of historic proportions.   I would stand this cigar up with some of the cigars that are hall of famers - including any Padron.   I had this cigar back in May, so this isn't a Johnny-come-lately stick.   From that point on, I knew I had sampled something special - and it was clearly the stick to beat for the remainder of 2010.   And just about everyone who sampled this stick has been blown away by how good it is.

The name Limited Edition says it all.   I've heard there only have been 10,000 sticks made - and they are sold in boxes of 10, so the math comes out to 1000 boxes.   Definitely a limited run stick.

In the year of that seemed to be dominated by Nicaraguan tobacco,, this one does not have a drop of Nicaraguan tobacco in it.   It has a very familiar Ecuadorian Sun-Grown wrapper, a Mexican binder, and Dominican all-Ligero fillers.  The combination of these tobaccos make up for a full strength and full bodied smoke.  The stick is only available in a single vitola called which is known as the Super Robusto (a 5.5 x 55)

The flavors do not disappoint.   This is a cigar that is going to provide a wonderful combination of cherries, earth, cocoa, espresso, and even some cedar pepper spices.   The draw and burn were perfect each time I had this stick.  I've heard some people say there was too much glue on the band, but I have not encountered that problem to date.  This isn't your typical Avo flavor profile - that's for sure.

Yes there is a $15.50 suggested retail price, but don't let that deter you.   You are getting a cigar of monumental proportions and one you are going to want to have a supply of for many years to come.

Congratulations to Avo Cigars on releasing my 2010 Cigar of the Year!!

I will have a special write-up on this - the 2010 Cigar of the Year in the near future.

Recommended Vitola: Super Robusto 5.5 x 55 (only Vitola available)

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #2: Tatuaje Gran Cojonu 2009

#2: Tatuaje Gran Cojonu 2009
"30 Cigars in 31 Days" is coming to its conclusion.   In my review of the Top 30 Cigars it is time to reveal the runner-up for 2010.  In this case, the expression "Close but no cigar" could not be less true.

Coming in at #2 - for the runner-up slot for the 2010 Cigar of the Year is the Tatuaje Gran Cojonu 2009.  At first from the title you might be thinking I made a mistake - this is a 2010 countdown.  However this was a cigar that came out last year and really didn't make it to many shelves into 2010. Since I did not have this under consideration last year, I felt it was important to give this Cigar its due justice in 2010.  I smoked my first early in the year, and it was in the running for Cigar of the Year all year in my book.

This cigar is right up my alley.  It's a monster 6.5 x 60 ring gauge - oh yeah, the cigar that eats like a meal. It's full body and full strength.  It's all Nicaraguan wrapper, binder, and filler.  The wrapper is Nicaraguan Corojo 1999.   Usually I am not a fan of the Corojo wrapper, but in this case it won me over.

Simply put, this cigar was one of the best 60 ring gauge cigars I ever smoked.  It definitely ranks as the best stick I've ever had by Tatuaje.   I can even make a case for it being the best.   The flavor notes are.

I will be writing a detailed review soon on this one.

Recommended Vitola: 6.5 x 60 (only vitola available)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #3: Viaje Satori

#3 Viaje Satori
"And then there were three....." We now have hit the Top 3 of "30 Cigars in 31 Days" - my review of the Top 30 Cigars for 2010.  The three cigars that will be posted over the next few days are the cigars that have "medaled" in 2010.

Coming in at #3 is the Viaje Satori.   Viaje is a true Indie cigar company.  Andre Farkas has really built a loyal following of enthusiasts with his line of cigars.   Viaje has been employing a "micro batch" process for its cigar releases.  Namely, it is producing the majority of its boxes in small batches (i.e. under 500 boxes) for a release.

This year the stick from Viaje that got the most attention was the "Skull and Bones", but in my opinion it is the Satori that is the real winner from Farkas' line in 2010.   The key to this cigar is Thits Double Oscuro wrapper.   What makes an Oscuro wrapper cigar special is not only its black oily color, but the sweetness that results from the fermentation and curing process.   The Satori's wrapper nails it here - and btw, this is not a dyed wrapper.

The remaining tobaccos in the binder and filler are Nicaraguan (standard for Viaje).  The flavor notes have a lot of cocoa, coffee, chocolate sweetness - but there also are notes of black cherry toasted almond to really give this cigar some unique flavors.  The sweetness from this cigar is what I would expect from an Oscuro.  The Satori also produced a wonderful aroma.   The strength of this cigar is medium while the body is definitely in the medium to full range.

Word is that only about 450 to 500 boxes of this cigar has been produced, so this might be a little difficult to find.

Here is a Pre-Review of more detail of my initial thoughts on this cigar.  Since then, I've smoked a few more and have been better able to develop a profile on this cigar.  A more detailed review will follow.


Recommended Vitola: Karma (5 x 52)

Matt Booth Rescheduled for Charlotte

Matt Booth's visit to Outland Cigars is back on.  

Matt will be at Outland Cigars in Charlotte, North Carolina on:

Friday January 11, 2011, 5pm
Location: 
14815 John J Delaney Dr
Suite 160
Charlotte, NC

Matt's original visit had to be rescheduled due to a Family Emergency.  If you have not met Matt, he is a pretty special guy.  Here are the details of when I met him at IPCPR.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #4: La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Tabaqueros

#4  La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Tabaqueros
And now....the Final Four..... "30 Cigars in 31 Days" is down to the remaining four cigars that comprise the Top 30 Cigars for 2010.   It is time for the 27th installment to this list

Team La Gloria Cubana strikes again - coming in at #4 is the La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Tabaqueros.    The inclusion of the Artesanos de Tabaqueros (ADT) completes what has to be a banner year for Team La Gloria Cubana as they release three new sticks - and each fall in my Top 20  (also included the La Gloria Cubana Serie N at #10 and the La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Obelisco at #16)

The ADT uses a segmented wrapper similar to the design of Joya de Nicaragua's Cabinetta Serie (#13 on my list).  This means the cigar comes with two distinct wrappers that create segments on the cigar. The ADT features an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper for about 2/3 of the stick and a Connecticut Shade wrapper for the remaining third by the foot.  The binder and filler is a combination of Dominican and Honduran tobaccos.  Yes folks in the year of Nicaraguan tobacco, a great stick can be made without it.

The flavor notes for this cigar will be pepper, cinnamon sweetness, cream, and even some coffee tones.   The interesting thing is the transition in strength and body as you smoke this cigar.  Right before the burn transitions from the Connecticut Shade to Ecuadorian Sumatra, there is an increase in the strength of this cigar from mild to medium/full.  It's not gradual - it happens very quickly.   Once the transition happens, you will know it.  From both a strength and body profile, this will take you across the full spectrum - namely from mild to full, but the majority of this smoke will be in the medium-full range.  For a novice, this is a great stick to learn on.  For seasoned smokes, this stick has lots of complexity and flavo

A full review is available here for more details on my experience with this cigar.

Recommended Vitola: 750 (7 x 50)

Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #5: La Palina Family Series (Core)

#5 La Palina Family Series (Core) - Babe picture
The cream rises to the crop.   We have now entered the Top 5 part of "30 Cigars in 31 Days" - my review of the Top 30 Cigars for 2010.

At #5 is the La Palina Family Series (Core).  You might be saying, that the La Palina Family Series came in at #7.   This is true, but at #7 was the "Ligero" edition of the La Palina Family Series.   This cigar has a slightly modified blend, thus is eligible for a separate spot on the list.   There is a great story around La Palina - you can read the details of the story on the web-site in detail.

As I've mentioned, the La Palina Family Series actually consists of two different blends.   There is the "Core" (that I am naming it for this review) blend and the "Ligero" blend.  The Core blend consists of a Costa Rican wrapper, Costa Rica binder, and a blend of fillers from Honduras and Nicaragua.   The "Ligero" blend (denoted with a "Ligero" sub-band) is similar to the core blend, but it has an Ecuadorian wrapper combined with the Costa Rican binder and ligero from Honduras and Nicaragua.

While I'd categorize all of the cigars in the La Palina Family Series (both Core and Ligero) as medium-bodied, it is in the strength where the cigars differ.  The Core is going to be a mild to medium-bodied cigar, while the Ligero version is a medium bodied.   Under most circumstances, I would usually gravitate toward the cigar with stronger strength and more body, but there was something special about the Core version.  I found this to be one of the most smooth and satisfying smokes I've had this year.   My theory is that there is nothing wrong with a mild to medium bodied cigar - as long as it has flavor.

The Core will still provide some complexity.  There is a similar flavor profile to the "Ligero".   Flavor notes of herb, cream, wood, nuts, cedar spice, and blackberry will be the found in this stick. 

A full review is available here for more details on my experience with this cigar. In this case it is the "Babe" vitola of this blend.


Recommended Vitola: Babe ( 5 1/4 x 50)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #6: CAO La Traviata Maduro

#6 CAO La Traviata Maduro
There are six cigars to go in "30 Cigars in 31 Days" - my review of the Top 30 Cigars for 2010.  Today's installment is the 25th of the series, this leaves the Top 5 to go.  As I've also mentioned - each of the cigars in the Top 7 were up for the #1 spot at one point or another.

At #6 is the CAO La Traviata Maduro.   Last year, my #2 Cigar for 2009 was the original CAO La Traviata.  When I smoked the new Maduro version of this stick, I proclaimed that this cigar was better than the original.    I still stand by that proclamation, but because of the high level of competition among the cigars this year, this stick comes in at #6.

The blend is a Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper combined with  a Cameroon binder, and a blend of Pueblo Nuevo Nicaraguan filler Dominican filler.  In fact the only difference from the original La Traviata is that the original La Traviata featured an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper.   That Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper really makes this cigar shine.

There was wonderful complexity with the La Traviata Maduro.  It featured flavor notes of coffee, caramel, tangy flavors, and baking spices (nutmeg was prominent), and chocolate.    The chocolate flavor will really become dominant as the smoke progresses and in a lot of ways it reminded me of the rich chocolate that the La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor produces.  Overall I categorize the strength and body as Medium to Full.


A full review is available here for more details on my experience with this cigar.

Recommended Vitola: Radiante (6 x 52)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #7: La Palina Family Series "Ligero"

#7 La Palina Family Series "Ligero" ("Alison" Vitola)
As we enter the "Select 7" - the Top 7 cigars of my countdown of the Top 30 cigars of the year (a.k.a "30 Cigars in 31 Days"), it is worth noting that the seven cigars remaining in the countdown were all under consideration at one point or another for the Cigar of the Year honor.   Without further adieu, it is time for the 24th installment of this list.

Coming in at #7 is the La Palina Family Series - Ligero.   The La Palina Family Series is truly one of the revelations of 2010.   Bill Paley, the son of the founder of CBS Broadcasting became intrigued with bringing back an old line of cigars from his grandfather called "La Palina".  As a result, he launched this line of cigars this year.  You can read the details of the story on the web-site in detail.

The La Palina Family Series actually consists of two different blends.   The blend branded with the sub-band "Ligero" on the cigar consists of an Ecuadorian wrapper, a Costa Rican binder, and a blend of ligero from Honduras and Nicaragua. (Note -the other blend in the Family Series is similar, but not sub-branded "Ligero".  That consists of a Costa Rican wrapper and binder as well as a blend of Honduran and Nicaraguan filler).

The La Palina Family Series "Ligero" cigar will not overpower you.  I would categorize it as a medium strength and medium bodied stick.  This cigar proves you don't need a full-bodied cigar to have a great smoke.  The flavor notes are very unique - cedar spice, cashew nuts, cream, blackberry (yes blackberry), and herbal notes.  With the blackberry and herbal tones, you might think this tasted like an infused cigar - but it didn't.  It had a wonderful natural feel to it throughout the smoke.

A full review is available here for more details on my experience with this cigar. In this case it is the review of the "Alison" vitola.


Recommended Vitola: Alison (Torpedo 6 x 52)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Top 30 Cigar of the Year Countdown Schedule

Here is the remaining schedule for the Top 30 Cigar of the Year countdown.  Note there will be an off-day on 12/24, and Cigars #1 and #2 will both be released on 12/31 at 7:59PM.   All times Eastern.  All times subject to change.

On 1/1, I will list some honorable mention sticks that did not make the Top 30, but are quality sticks.  On 1/2 I will release the Best New Vitola for an existing blend.

Following that, we can turn our attention to seeing what Cigar Aficionado does.


Date Cigar #
12/25/10
11:59AM 
Cigar of the Year #7
12/26/10
11:59AM
Cigar of the Year #6
12/27/10
11:59AM
Cigar of the Year #5
12/28/10
11:59AM
Cigar of the Year #4
12/29/10
11:59AM
Cigar of the Year #3
12/31/10
4:29PM
Cigar of the Year #2
12/31/10
4:29PM
Cigar of the Year #1
1/1/11
11:59AM
Honorable Mentions for 2010 that did not make the Top 30
1/2/11
7:59PM
Best New Vitola of 2010

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #8: San Lotano Connecticut

#8 San Lotano Connecticut
We have now entered the "Elite 8" of "30 Cigars in 31 Days" - my review of the Top 30 Cigars of 2010.  It is now time for the 23rd installment of this list.

At #8 is the San Lotano Connecticut.   This is the second stick from A.J. Fernandez's new San Lotano line to make my Top 30 (joining the San Lotano Maduro that came in at #12).   The San Lotano name comes from an old line introduced by Fernandez's grandfather in Cuba.   I've seen several "best of" lists for 2010 and several have included the San Lotano sticks.   While many have touted the Maduro and Habano sticks from San Lotano, I think it is the Connecticut one that shines.

The San Lotano Connecticut might just be one of the best Connecticut shade sticks that I have ever had.  This isn't your father's mild and creamy Connecticut shade cigar.  The flavors of this cigar are very robust. This cigar will have some bite compared to most Connecticut shade wrapper sticks.  It is a medium strength stick, and medium to full in body.  The flavors are unbelievable and unique - with notes of white pepper, cedar spice, and vanilla.

In addition to the Ecuadorian grown Connecticut Shade wrapper, this cigar features a Honduran binder and what I term the trifecta blend filler - namely Dominican, Honduran, and Nicaraguan.   The binder and filler are virtually identical in composition with the Habano, Maduro, and Connecticut sticks in the Connecticut line.


A full review is available here for more details on my experience with this cigar.


Recommended Vitola: Toro (6 x 52)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #9: Camacho Liberty 2010

#9 Camacho Liberty 2010
"30 Cigars in 31 Days" just continues to move full steam ahead.   We have now entered the Top 10 of my countdown of the Top 30 Cigars for 2010.  It is time for the 22nd installment of this list.

Coming at #9 is the Camacho Liberty 2010 edition. This is a limited run cigar. Camacho releases a limited number of a sticks blended specifically for the year.  Each stick is put into its own individual coffin-like box and numbered.  From year to year the blend and design of the stick changes.  For the 2010 edition, there were 40,000 sticks made by Camacho. Each coffin box is individually numbered.

This year's edition is Camacho's trademark 11/18 shape which represents a Figuardo.  This stick features a beautiful Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper with Honduran binder and a blend of Dominican Long Filler and Honduran Corojo Ligero. In a year where I feel Honduran tobacco took a back-seat to Nicaraguan tobacco in a lot of new sticks, I was glad to see a very good stick emerge with tobacco from Honduras.


The flavor notes were terrific - and definitely a complex cigar!.  Throughout the smoke it features cedar, fruit, nutmeg, cream, and some unique notes of butter and mesquite.  It had a good burn and excellent draw.  This one is great right to the nub.  From a strength and body perspective, this is medium to full.


A full review is available here for more details on my experience with this cigar.


Recommended Vitola: Camacho 11/18 (6 x 56) - Only Vitola available.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #10: La Gloria Cubana Serie N

#10 La Gloria Cubana Serie N
The time has come in "30 Cigars in 31 Days" - a.k.a, my review of the Top 30 Cigars of 2010 for the Top 10.   So far, there have been 20 outstanding sticks, but now we hit the cream of the crop.

At #10 is another creation from General Cigars' La Gloria Cubana line - the La Gloria Cubana Serie N.   This stick made its debut at IPCPR and was released by General Cigars in the Fall.  The Serie N is meant as a sibling stick to La Gloria's popular Serie R line.   The "N" in the name represents the Nicaraguan tobaccos that are blended into this stick.  As many know, the original Serie R was the creation of the legenday Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr.   As many know Carrillo has left General and has formed his own boutique line of cigars.  The great news is the new folks at Team La Gloria Cubana are keeping the excitement and quality of the brand moving forward.

The blend features proprietary Nicaraguan binder and filler.   On the outside is a magnificent Capa Oscuro (Ecuadorian Sumatra) wrapper.  Team La Gloria Cubana has proven to be one of the most creative in the industry and this creativity is shown by the letter "N" that is embellished right on the wrapper.   Packaging is unique too as the cigars are placed at different angles in a unique red hexagonal box.  

Ultimately the smoke is going to be the deciding factor and this does not disappoint.  It delivers notes of mocha, chocolate, leather, black cherry, and raisin.  It is the raisin notes that I felt were the most unique and really made this cigar special.  The strength of the cigar falls into the medium to full range (the appearance of the wrapper makes this seem stronger than it is) and the flavor notes are whole making this full-bodied.

A full review is available here for more details on my experience with this cigar.


Recommended Vitola: Glorioso: 6 1/2 x 58

Monday, December 20, 2010

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #11: La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor

#11 La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor
We are just outside the Top 10 of "30 Cigars in 31 Days" - my review of the Top 30 Cigars of 2010.   The decision on what sticks to place in the Top 10 was very difficult.   It is perhaps this stick that was the most difficult to leave out of the Top 10.    I thought about doing a "tie" for #10, but felt it would be too cliche.   Therefore I opted to leave one stick out.


Coming it at #11 is the La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor.   In many other years, this would have been a Top 5 stick, but this has been one of the most competitive years in the cigar industry.   This cigar is the latest in Ashton's La Aroma de Cuba line.   The cigar master, Don Pepin Garcia has his footprint on this blend and it is terrific.   It features trademark Pepin Nicaraguan binders and fillers, but also shows Pepin's willingness to go beyond the Nicaraguan borders by incorporating a Mexican Cuban seed wrapper.

This is the perfect after-dinner cigar.    After the initial pepper notes Pepin is known for, this cigar settles into a deep coffee and chocolate taste.  The chocolate notes are rich and sweet, yet this cigar does not taste like an infused cigar.  I categorized this cigar as medium in strength, and medium to full in body (almost completely "full").

A full review is available here for more details on my experience with this cigar.

Recommended Vitola: Valentino (5.7" x 58) 
Note: While I have said this might be a down year for box-press sticks, the Valentino is only stick in the Mi Amor line to not be a box-press.  That being said, the box-press sticks are still outstanding, but to me the big ring gauge of the Valentino was too hard to resist.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cigar News, Gossip and Rumors

This past week has been very interesting.   I read some information on Cigar Feed, about changes going on with Davidoff.   This could have big implications in the Cigar Industry. I encourage everyone to check out the Davidoff news over at Cigar Feed.  This discusses the management changes, rumors about Davidoff courting Perdomo (which I have heard), and implications to the integration of Camacho and Cusano into the Davidoff family.

Click here to read the Davidoff news on Cigar Feed.

Gossip/Rumors: I also continue to hear rumors about Altadis courting Drew Estate.   This is something definitely worth keeping an eye on in 2011.  With potential legislation against flavored cigars continuing, could this be the point where Drew Estate decides to sell?

Cigar Feed also has information in regards to the future of the Nostoros brand.  A while ago, I mentioned the alliance between Drew Estate and Illusione around the Nosotros  had come to an end.  It now appears the remaining  Nosotros cigars in the Drew Estate factories will be released after all.

Click here to read the Nosotros news on Cigar Feed.

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #12: San Lotano Maduro

#12 San Lotano Maduro
The further down the countdown of "30 Cigars in 31 Days", the better the sticks.  We are now approaching the elite 12 of the Top 30 Cigars of 2010.

Slotting in at #12 is the San Lotano Maduro by A.J. Fernandez.   Fernandez has been garnering a reputation over the past few years of being one of the best young blenders in the business.  This year, Fernandez decided to bring back an old line introduced by his grandfather in Cuba and put it under his own line.  The result is the San Lotano line.

The San Lotano Maduro is the only box-press stick that was launched under his brand.   While I've said many times this has been an ultra-competitive year for cigars, this has been a weaker year for the classic box-press cigar.  For the wrapper, Fernandez selected a beautiful Mexican Maduro wrapper.  For the remainder of the construction, Fernandez opts for a Honduran binder and the "trifecta blend" for the filler (Honduran, Dominican, and Nicaraguan).  

The complexity of the stick is what one would expect.   I got flavor notes of molasses, espresso, raisin, pepper, and chocolate.  There were times the pepper would overshadow the sweetness and vice-versa.   As I've seen with all the San Lotano sticks, the draw and burn were excellent with this stick and I was able to get a very small nub.  Finally the strength is medium and body is medium to full.

I will post a more detailed review in the near future.

Recommended Vitola: Toro (6 x 52)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

2011 Preview: PDR 1878 Reserva Dominicana Capa Oscura

Back at Lite Up Charlotte, I saw Abe Flores of PDR Cigars and he was smoking one of these.  Considering I am a fan of his cigars, I knew I had to get one of these boxes.   But the word was, I was going to have to wait for these at least until late November.   I asked Outland Cigars to order me a box anyway.   Well my wait is over.  I got a box of 6 x 60s!!!

At the time they were calling these the "Holiday Blend", but the official name is PDR 1878 Reserva Dominicana Capa Oscura and Outland Cigars in Charlotte, NC is one of only 25 retailers to receive this limited run.  PDR has opted to make a limited release at this time of about 1500 to 2000 boxes to the select 25 retailers.   The plan is for widespread distribution around IPCPR 2011.

The blend is an all Dominican blend.   Here is a preview of the blend:

Wrapper: Dominican Habano – Oscura/
Binder: Dominican Habano
Filler: Dominican Habano, Corojo, Criollo 98

I smoked one today.   I did not have time to jot notes down on this one, but what a stick!  This is smooth, medium strength, and medium to full bodied cigar.  It had nice flavor notes of earth, cedar spice, and even hints of cinnamon sweetness.  Similar to the Oliveros Swag, I describe it as a Dominican stick that has all the boldness of a Nicaraguan stick.  I loved the stick, but since it came out after my 2010 Cigar of the Year countdown deadline, this will be deferred to the 2011 Countdown!

Cigar Coop (L) with Abe Flores (R) at Lite Up Charlotte, Abe has the PDR Dominicana in hand


Here are the list of retailers carrying this.  However, I recommend always going to Outland - the best retailer in North America!

Outland Int. Inc.
14815 John J Delaney Dr. #160
Charlotte, NC 28277
704-575-7345


11th Avenue Liquor
1040 SE Blvd.
Portland, OR 97214
503-236-2076

82nd Ave Tobacco
400 82ND Ave.
Portland, OR 97216
253-630-3646

Ace Tobacco Town
419 W Cheltenham Ave
Elkins Park, PA 19027.
215-782-8055

Broadway Cigar Co.
1436 NE 77th
Portland, OR 97213
503-473-8000

Burning Leaf Cigar
2319 S Route 59
Plainfield, IL 60586
815-230-5192

Cascade Cigar Tobacco
9691 SE 82nd Avenue
Happy Valley, OR 97086
503-775-5885

Cresent Springs
535 Buttermilk Pkwy.
Cresent Springs, KY 41017
859-426-5545

Emerson's Cigars
116 Granby Street
Norfolk, VA 23510
757-624-1520

Habana Premuium Cigar
1645 Central Ave.
Albany, NY 12205
518-482-1351

Havana Humidor
12749 S Dixie Highway
Pinecrest, FL 33156
786-229-4568

Kirsten Pipe Company
1900 W Nickerson #112
Seattle, Wa 98119
518-482-1351

Kremer's
401 E Jefferson St.
Louisville, KY 40202
502-584-3332

Lil' Brown Smoke Shack
3201 Goodman Rd.
Yakima, WA 98903
509-575-1903

Mission Pipe Inc.
4001-4 Santa Rita Rd
Pleasanton, CA 94566
925-463-0100

Perfect Blend
729 E Olive Ave.
Fresno, CA 93728
559-486-0400

Smokey Joe's Cigar Lounge
4411Pacific Hwy E
Fife, WA 98424
(253) 922-0430

Smokin Joes -NH
100 River Rd.
Hudson, NH 03051
603-889-0500

The Party Source
95 Riviera Drive
Believue, KY 41073
859-291-4007

Thunderbird Trading Post
7121 Waller Road East
Tacoma, WA 98443
(253) 531-9595

Tim's Great Cigars
23830 NE Halsey
Wood Village, OR 97060
503-665-2723

Top Shelf Cigars
4013 Shippack Pike
Shippack Vilg, PA 19474
610-584-9588

Treasure Valley
132 E Idaho
Meridan, ID 83642
208-898-1419

Wilsonville Liquor
29955 SW Boones Ferry #H-2
Wilsonville, OR 97070
503-665-2723

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #13: Joya de Nicaragua Cabinetta Serie

#13: Joya de Nicaragua Cabinetta Serie
18 days down into the countdown - it is time for installment #18 of "30 Cigars in 31 Days", my review of the Top 30 Cigars for 2010.

Coming in at #13 is the Joya de Nicaragua Cabinetta Serie.  While this might be #13, this is no unlucky cigar.   This cigar comes with two distinct wrappers that create segments on the cigar.  The base of the cigar contains an Ecaudorian Shade Wrapper while toward the cap, it is Nicaraguan Criollo.  True to Joya de Nicaragua's roots, the binder and filler are of course -Nicaraguan.

The strength and body of this cigar is reflective of the wrappers on this cigar.   This cigar is going to start out mild for the first third - in both strength and body, in the second third both strength and body move to the mild to medium profile, and the finish with the Criollo wrapper segment is going to be medium and body and strength.   There is some complexity in the flavor profile of this stick with nuts, butter, cream in the early portion and coffee and spice toward the Criollo finish.  This was a quality stick - loved the burn and draw on this one.

A full review is available here for more details on my experience with this cigar.

Recommended Vitola: No.7 Toro 6 x 50

Friday, December 17, 2010

More CAO (and other) News....

Jon Huber (L) at a CAO Event in Wilmington NC
There had been a lot of rumors running rampant for the past couple of weeks.  Today a twitter post confirmed - CAO's Director of Lifestyle Marketing - Jon Huber is leaving CAO Cigars.

The twitter post was:
will be saying 'adios' L8r but please do continue 2 follow @ - Rick Rodriguez from General will be taking care of all u twitterers.

The bad news is that one of the creative minds in the Cigar industry is leaving one of the great companies - CAO Cigars.  This follows the news that Tim Ozgener was leaving CAO following the acquisition into General Cigars.  No doubt changes are going to be happening at CAO next year, so it will be interesting to see where the brand goes.   Keep in mind CAO and Toraño have also gone separate ways, so there already were changes in store to begin with.  

The good news is that the post indicated Rick Rodriguez from Team La Gloria Cubana in General will be taking care of the twitter feed.   This seems to indicate that Rodriguez will be getting involved with the CAO brand in some sort of a role.  Considering the incredible year Team La Gloria had in 2010, CAO should be in good hands if Rodriguez will be involved.  Yet, Huber's departure is big - and he will be missed.

An interesting lineup of cigar talent is now available on the marketplace.   Sam Leccia, Tim Ozgener, and Jon Huber have left their positions in the past couple of months.   Rumors are running all over the internet on what the next steps will be for all of these people.  We shall see what happens.

Lies by the Surgeon General - Second Hand Smoke

There has been a lot of recent buzz about a Surgeon General's Report on Second-hand smoke.   The report was entitled "EXPOSURE TO TOBACCO SMOKE CAUSES IMMEDIATE DAMAGE, SAYS NEW SURGEON GENERAL’S REPORT".    To quote Cigar Dave, all I can say is that this is absolute poppycock - and the facts need to be told.

I've included a great article from this blog "The Rest of the Story:Tobacco News Analysis and Commentary", a blog by Boston University Professor Michael Siegel.  It should be noted the author is not known for being a supporter of tobacco rights.   I'd like to include some key points.   I'd also like to thank the CRA for making us aware of this.

1.Fortunately, it is simply not true that even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can cause cardiovascular disease. Luckily, it takes many years of exposure before the process of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) can occur. If brief tobacco smoke exposure could cause heart disease, we would sadly see many young people in their twenties and thirties walking around with cardiovascular disease, and many dying from it at those ages. Even active smoking does not generally lead to heart disease unless you smoke for many years. Thus, it is simply untrue to assert that brief exposure to secondhand smoke can cause cardiovascular disease.

2.The press release's assertion flies in the face of common medical sense. How could it possibly be that a brief exposure to secondhand smoke can cause heart disease? It takes many years for heart disease to develop. It takes years of exposure to tobacco smoke even for a smoker to develop heart disease. I estimate that it takes at least 25 years of exposure (based on the fact that very few smokers are diagnosed with heart disease before age 40).

This is an article worth reading - and when the Pleasure Police come at you and challenge you about tobacco use - be prepared.  They are making stuff up and you must be prepared to call them out.

Click here to read the article.

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #14: Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial

#14 Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial
Continuing to head into the cream of the crop, it is time to reveal the 17th stick of "30 Cigars in 31 Days" - my review of the Top 30 cigars for 2010.

The #14 Cigar of the Year is the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial - a new stick from Don Pepin Garcia's My Father Cigar line.   This stick made its debut in right before the 2010 IPCPR convention and was a big hit.    The cigar features trademark Pepin Nicaraguan filler, and Ecuadorian binder, and is showcased by a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper.  The Nicaraguan tobacco is a combination of one tobacco grown on the Pepin farm and one tobacco grown on the Oliva farm.  The cigar looks rich and full - and this one delivers.

The flavor profile stars off with a trademark Pepin blast of pepper.  It settles in nicely with notes of black cherry, coffee, cedar spice, and some remaining pepper notes.  The pepper and spice notes will periodically increase and decrease with spice throughout the smoke.

The best part of this is the price point.  This stick comes into the true-value sweet spot on price around $6.00-$7.00.  Yet, I saw no sacrifice of the Pepin quality.

I will post a more detailed review in the near future.

Recommended Vitola: Toro Gordo (6 x 60)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #15: E.P. Carrillo Short Run 2010

#15 E.P. Carrillo Short Run 2010
It is hard to believe we have completed half of T30 Cigars in 31 Days" - my review of the Top 30 Cigars for 2010.  It is now time to get to the cream of the crop - the Top 15

Slotting in at #15 is E.P. Carrillo's Short Run 2010. This is a cigar by former La Gloria Cubana master, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr.   The Short Run series is meant to be produced in a limited batch on a yearly basis.   This is the 2010 edition.

The blend consists of an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder, and a combination of Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers.  The flavor profile contains the complexity one comes to expect from a Carrillo stick - nuts, pepper, oak-like wood notes, and even some sweetness that seemed to be on the cinnamon side.  The draw and burn were flawless each time I had this stick.   Overall, a nice medium to full cigar in both strength and body.

I will post a more detailed review in the near future.

Recommended Vitola: Dominantes (6.25 x 60)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #16: La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Obelisco

#16: La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Obelisco
Today we approach the half-way point of "30 Cigars in 31 Days" - my review of the Top 30 Cigars for 2010.  Following today, we enter the Top 15 for sticks of the year.

Slotting in at #16 that has one of the most unique vitolas around - the La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Obelisco.   The Obelisco is only available in one vitola, but it is a beauty.  It has a unique, almost "pyramid-like" shape to it.  It is actually modeled more after the shape of the "Heroes of the Restoration" monument located in the city of Santiago (Dominican Republic).

The blend consists of the ever-popular Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper combined with a Dominican binder and combination of Dominican and Nicaraguan Ligero filler.  The cigar has very good complexity in its favor tones consisting of transitions of earth, wood, roastee nuts, cedar spice, and even some cayenne pepper.  The strength is definitely medium to full and the body is definitely full-bodied.

The amazing thing was the smoking experience of this stick.  The odd shape had this cigar smoke like a combination of a box-press and a Lancero.  I was amazed for such an unorthodox vitola how well this cigar burned and drew.  It even had a nice cool and firm finish.

I will post a more detailed review in the near future.


Recommended Vitola: 5 x44 x 57 (Due to its unorthodox shape - ONLY VITOLA Available)

Gurkha joins the "New York Exclusive" Cigar Market

In the past few weeks, we've seen Alec Bradley and Miami Cigars announce cigars that are going to be exclusive to the New York market.  This means that these cigars are going to only be sold by a New York State tobacconist.  It now appears that Gurkha is now the third company.

The new Gurkha Cigars are entitled "Para La Gente" and are going to be exclusive to the New York Cigar market.   I do not have details on the blend or construction as of yet.

De La Concha Tobacconist in New York - located at 1390 Avenue of the Americas (Between 56th & 57th Street) will be having a launch event for Gurkha on Thursday (12/16/10) and the new Alec Bradley New York on Friday (12/17/10).   (I always recommend stopping at De La Concha in New York)

I'll reiterate my personal thoughts on the the New York exclusives:

While this may disappoint many, this is a much needed jolt for New York tobacconists.  New York has been hit hard by high taxes and the city has to deal with the Pleasure Police General himself, Mayor Mike Bloomberg/New York could really use a jolt as this is still an important market - and a market that needs protection.   However, this could be a double-edged sword.  If these sticks are not home runs, they may end up sitting on the shelves - especially given the price points.

I'll post more details as I get them.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #17: Master by Carlos Toraño

#17: Master by Carlos Toraño
We are getting into the heart of "30 Cigars in 31 Days" - my review of the Top 30 Cigars for 2010.  It is time to reveal the 14th stick to make the list

Stick 17 is the Master by Carlos Toraño.   This was a stick that was one of three new cigars introduced by Toraño Family Cigar Company at the 2010 IPCPR.  For this particular cigar, this was a joint effort by The Master is a joint effort by Charlie Toraño and his "master roller" Julian Felipe Sosa.   The company I homage to Sosa by placing his picture on the box, thus the genesis of the stick name.  The stick is Nicaraguan in binder and filler with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper.

The Master has a terrific complexity around its flavor profile.  The flavor had a nice mix of earth, black cherry, and both cedar and baker's spice. The spice notes are not overwhelming so those that do not like a spicy cigar should be fine with this one.   I was really pleased with the draw and the burn on this stick.    I categorized this as a medium strength to medium to full body smoke.

A full review is available here for more details on my experience with this cigar.

Recommended Vitola: Robusto (5 x 50)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Good Article in Cigar Examiner - "Five Questions for Manuel Quesada"

Cigar Coop (L) with Manuel Quesada (R) at Outland Cigars
There is no question that Manuel Quesada is not only one of the great cigar-ebrities out there - and backs up with knowledge and being a class act.

I have previously wrote, "... the man is a gentleman through and through.   He probably is one of the most humble men you will ever meet and he would be the last person who would want to be the "face" of his company.   And when you have been lucky enough to have had one on one and small group discussions with him as I had, you realize the class this man has. He also has a thorough knowledge of the cigar industry.  Each visit with him has been a learning experience.  On top of that, he also makes some great cigars in the Casa Magna, Fonseca, and now Quesada lines."

I truly believe each time I have met Mr. Quesada and I have learned something.  The following article has five questions for Mr. Quesada.   Interesting tidbits include Mr. Quesada's thoughts on winning the 2008 Cigar of the Year, his new Tributo stick, the new generation of Quesadas, and his thoughts on the industry.  Even from this interview, I learned something.

Click here to read the article in the Cigar Examiner.

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #18: My Father Limited Edition 2010

#18 My Father Limited Edition 2010
It's time for the 13th installment of "30 Cigars in 31 Days" - better known as the review of the top cigars of the year for 2010.

The cigar placing at #18 on the list is from Don Pepin Garcia's My Father Cigars called the My Father Limited Edition 2010.  This cigar is a special cigar for three reasons:  1) There have only been 24000 sticks made; 2) Each cigar is packaged in an individual coffin box; 3) Each of the sticks were rolled personally by Don Pepin Garcia and his son Jaime.

As for the blend, the binder and filler contain the classic Pepin Nicaraguan tobaccos.  The wrapper is the showcase of the presentation - a hybrid Ecuadorian Habano Rosado/Criollo.  This stick was only made in one vitola - 6.5 x 52 Toro.   The flavor profile provides a unique combination of toast, cinnamon, black cherry, wood, and the trademark Pepin pepper notes.   I would put this smoke as a medium strength with medium to full as far as body goes.

A full review is available here for more details on my experience with this cigar.

Recommended Vitola:  Toro (6.5 x 52) - ONLY VITOLA Available.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #19: Oliveros Swag

#19 Oliveros Swag
We are now getting into the meat of the Top 20 of "30 Cigars in 31 Days", my review of the Top 30 Cigars of 2010.

Slotting in at Number 19 is the Oliveros' Swag.  This cigar made its debut at the 2010 IPCPR and this one truly rocked me.  Then again, this doesn't surprise me as Oliveros has proven to be one of the most consistent brands on the market.

The stick is a Puro Dominicano - meaning an all Habano Dominicano Ligero Wrapper, Binder, and Filler.  On the Swag Cigars site it says "This is not your father's Dominican Cigar.....This is a new kind of Dominican Cigar, with the aroma, flavor, and combustion that Dominican tobacco is known for, but with the complexity and character until now only found in Nicaraguan tobacco".    And these aren't just buzz words - this cigar truly lives up to what how its advertised.   I found a wonderful complexity in this medium to full strength and bodied cigar.  The flavors that make up this complexity include coffee, cedar spice, and leather.

The amazing thing - I originally smoked the "Fierce" Vitola (Torpedo - 6.5 x 52), but fell in love with the "Elite" Lancero (38 x 7).   Honestly, this might have been one of the best Lanceros I've ever had - even though I normally don't reach for a Lancero.

A final note -the Toraño Family has gotten a lot of buzz for producing the Single Region cigar from a single farm.  It is also worth noting the Swag gets its Dominican tobacco from the same farm too.

Nice thing - this cigar will be in the value-priced range of  $5.00-$8.00.

A full review is available here for more details on my experience with this cigar.

Recommended Vitola: Elite (38 x 7)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #20: A. Turrent Triple Play

#20 A.Turrent Triple Play
We now are entering the Top 20 of "30 Cigars in 31 Days" - my review of the Top 30 Cigars of 2010.   So far, sticks #21-30 are in the annals of history.

Coming in at #20 is the A.Turrent Triple Play   This is a stick in the Altadis family that was created by fifth generation cigar-maker Alejandro Turrent.  The stick was pre-released at the Cigar Dave show back in May in Charlotte and made its widespread release shortly after IPCPR in the late summer.

The name Triple Play comes from the fact that this is a Triple Maduro cigar - meaning all Maduro wrapper, binder, and filler.   The wrapper is a beautiful San Andrés Morrón wrapper, the binder is a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper, and the long fillers are from Nicaragua, Honduras, and San Andrés.  The stick is made in Honduras.

The stick has a silver band very similar to the Camacho Triple Maduro.  I wouldn't categorize this stick as strong as the Camacho though.   It basically is a medium to full strength smoke that is full-bodied.  The flavor profiles feature coffee, chocolate, cedar, and some black pepper.

I will post a more detailed review in the near future.

Recommended Vitola: Gran Toro (6 x 60)

Friday, December 10, 2010

100 Dollar Gift Certificate Giveaway for Your Top Stick Picks - ACigarSmoker.com

I'm going to give another press byte to ACigarSmoker.com

I know a lot of folks have been loyally following my Top 30 countdown and I thank you all.   There has been some great feedback and conversation.    ACigarSmoker.com will be picking their Top 15 sticks of the year soon.  They also will be publishing a reader's Top 10.  They are also providing one lucky reader a chance to win a 100 dollar gift certificate to Famous Smoke Shop. 

To enter, all you need to do is provide them YOUR LIST of YOUR TOP 5 smokes.  A winner will be selected at random.   Details can be found on this link.   Sorry followers, I won't be entering as it would spoil the countdown.....

As a side note, anybody who wants to submit me a list can do so for publication on Cigar Coop.  No giveaway here, but a chance to get your name in lights.  Following the completion of my Top 30, I will publish your list - and give the author full credit.    You can email me at william.cooper at gmail dot com.

Alec Bradley New York Information on "ACigarSmoker.com"

Barry over at ACigarSmoker.com has posted a review of the Alec Bradley New York.  

This is a Cigar I discussed a couple of weeks ago.  It is one of two cigars being targeted exclusively for the New York market (the other being the La Aurora Broadway).  Since I do feel this is a noteworthy stick that is coming, I think its important to have some initial feedback on this one.   I have yet to sample this stick.

Barry's one of the best reviewers in the business out there, so I encourage everyone to check out this review as well as many of his other reviews.

Click here for the review from ACigarSmoker.com.

Room 101 Event Update in Charlotte

Due to a FAMILY EMERGENCY, Matt Booth will not be able to make the Room 101 Event scheduled for Charlotte on 12/11/2010.


Outland Cigars will still be running a big promotion of the line on boxes and single sticks.   The staff can be contacted for further details.

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #21: Esteban Carreras 187

#21 Esteban Carreras 187
Sticks 21 to 30 are now in the annals of history in this year's Top 30 Cigars of the Year.  

Coming in at #21 is the Esteban Carreras 187.   This is the sibling cigar to the Esteban Carreras 5150 that came in at #27.

This stick has more strength and body than the 5150 as I would place the 187 in Medium to Full in both categories.  This is an all-Nicaraguan stick featuring a Nicaraguan Maduro wrapper.  Like the 5150, the band is put on the foot of the cigar.

The dominant flavor notes throughout this stick are going to be cocoa/chocolate and cedar spice - varying at different points of dominance throughout the smoke.   There are also notes of cedar and earth in this smoke.

Like the 5150, the 187 will come in at the 5.00-$7.00 range.   Consistent with Esteban Carreras, there is no sacrifice of quality.

A full review is available here for more details on my experience with this cigar.

Recommended Vitola: Toro (6 x 50)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cigar Fashion: Tom Cable and his Guayabera Shirt

This is a little bit of a lighter note.

When it comes to NFL head coaches, I admit, I am a fan of the days of a suit and tie.   I always liked to see Vince Lombardi in his tie.  When Mike Ditka wore a tie under his sweater, I thought it was great.  When Dan Reeves coached the Giants, he was one of the last coaches to follow the tradition of Tom Landry and wear a tie.    And yes, when Mike Nolan and Jack Del Rio recently sported ties, I was a fan.

I've never been a fan of the casual look the NFL coaches now sport - until now.   Tom Cable is the head coach of the Oakland Raiders.   If you look at the picture to the left, you will see Cable sporting a different type of casual look.  Yes folks that is a classic Cuban-styled Guayabera Shirt.   How awesome is that!   I believe Cable is the first NFL coach to make this a regular fashion statement on the sidelines.

I would personally like to thank Tom Cable for sporting this look on the sidelines.  I am publically offering the Cable Guy a cigar to smoke with me.

Yellow Alert: Pleasure Police Trying for Statewide ban in Indiana

Charlie Brown, he's a clown......

Charlie Brown is an Indiana State legislator who clearly is a card carrying member of the Pleasure Police.  He's tried three times to implement a statewide smoking ban in the State of Indiana.  He now is hoping the fourth time is his charm.

The comprehensive part of this is what needs to be of concerns for Tobacco Enthusiasts - namely no public exemptions.  Imagine the impact on Casinos and Cigar Lounges?

Brown is trying to squash the argument about how a smoking ban does not hurt small business.   This guy actually said that no data exists to support the business argument. Brown claims that cities such as New York and Chicago have banned public smoking and “no one has complained about persons being unable to smoke in public places”.    What planet is this guy on?

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has to be watched closely on what he decides to do on this one.  From reading this article, he might be inclined to sign this bill.   He's a Republican, but that doesn't mean he isn't a member of the Pleasure Police.

Click here to read this article.   This one really should be watched closely.   It sounds like the CRA will be all over this one soon.

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #22: Liga Privada Dirty Rat by Drew Estate

#22 Liga Privada Dirty Rat by Drew Estate
It's time for the ninth installment of "30 Cigars in 31 Days" - the list of the Top 30 Cigars for 2010.

Coming in at #22 on the list is the Liga Privada Dirty Rat by Drew Estates.  The Dirty Rat is the first installment of the "Ünico Serie" banner under the Liga Privada line.  This involves mapping a single vitola to a single blend - in this case, the Dirty Rat blend was mapped to a Corona size cigar.

The Dirty Rat is a follow-up to my 2009 Cigar of the Year, the Liga Privada T52.  It utilizes the same trademark "Stalk Cut American (Connecticut) Habano" wrapper that the T52 used.  It has a Brazilian Mata Fina binder and five different filler tobaccos from Honduras and Nicaragua.

The flavor profile is cayenne pepper to start, cedar spice, baker's chocolate, licorice, and nuts in this full strength, full bodied-cigar.  One thing about this cigar, for a small corona, this is going to produce a lot of smoke.

It's a tough act to follow-up the Cigar of the Year.   The Dirty Rat should not be considered a disappointment by any means.  It is important to note that as I've mentioned many times in this countdown, this is a highly competitive year for cigars.  In other years, this stick probably would have slotted higher.   It is also important to note that the corona vitola is not my favorite size/shape for a cigar.  However this still is a very good stick and if I were going for a vitola of this size, I'd pick it up.

A full review is available here for more details on my experience with this cigar.

Recommended Vitola:  Corona (5 x 44) - ONLY VITOLA Available.

2011 Preview: La Aurora Broadway Targets New York Again

La Aurora Broadway
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that Alec Bradley was launching a new cigar line that would be exclusive to the New York market.    It looks like Alec Bradley is not the only ones doing this.   Miami Cigars' has just announced the new "Broadway Line" that will be sold under the La Aurora brand.

The Broadway, like the Alec Bradley New York will only be available at New York Retailers.   As I mentioned in my Alec Bradley post, while this may disappoint many, this is a much needed jolt for New York tobacconists.  New York has been hit hard by high taxes and the city has to deal with the Pleasure Police General himself, Mayor Mike Bloomberg/New York could really use a jolt as this is still an important market - and a market that needs protection.   However, this could be a double-edged sword.  If these sticks are not home runs, they may end up sitting on the shelves - especially given the price points.

The Broadway looks promising.  Right now it will only be available in one Vitola  (5 3/4 x 54).  The blend features a double Ecuadorian Sumatra and Nicaraguan wrapper with a Dominican Corojo binder and fillers from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Peru.  The stick will be priced in the $12.00-$13.00 range  (including the NY State tax) and unlike the Alec Bradley, it is expected to hit shelves around year end, early next year.

Click Here to Read more about this.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #23: Rocky Patel 15th Anniversary

#23: Rocky Patel 15th Anniversary
It's the beginning of the second week of "30 Sticks in 31 Days" - the list of the Top 30 Cigars for 2010.   Today I reveal the eighth installment of this list.

Coming in at #23 is the Rocky Patel 15th Anniversary.   Last year, I considered 2009 an off-year for the Rocky Patel brand, but this year I feel Rocky came back with a very good stick.   It might be #23 on this year's list, but remember 2010 was an ultra-competitive year for new releases - therefore this would have probably been a Top 15 stick in other years.

The Rocky Patel 15th Anniversary was released shortly before the 2010 IPCPR show.  It was a stick to commemorate Rocky Patel's 15th year in the cigar industry.  The stick is a very impressive boxpress stick.   It has an beautiful Ecuadorian Habano wrapper with a Nicaraguan Jalapa binder and Nicaraguan fillers.   I was glad to see some terrific complexity to this stick  It contained some nice cedar spice, coffee notes, and nice hints of cinnamon.   I assessed this as a stick of medium strength and medium to full body.

A full review is available here for more details on my experience with this cigar.

Recommended Vitola:  Toro (6.5 x 52)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #24:Macanudo Vintage 1997 Maduro

#24 Macanudo Vintage 1997 Maduro
It is now a full week into "30 Sticks in 31 Days", the list of the Top 30 Cigars for 2010.   We are now up to the seventh installment of this countdown.

For #24, I selected another new Macanudo Cigar, this one is the Macanudo Vintage 1997 Maduro.  The most striking feature externally about this cigar is the metal band that is included with this stick.  This metal band will only be available for a limited time early and will be replaced by a more traditional paper band next year.

In addition to the striking metal band, this cigar has a beautiful oily Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper.   It is also supplemented by a Honduran binder and a nice mix of filler ( Brazilian Mata Fina, Nicaraguan Ligero and a combination two types of Piloto Cubano long filler tobacco from the Dominican Republic).

Continuing the trend started with the Macanudo 1968 two years ago, this ain't your father's Macanudo.  This cigar is definitely more of a medium to full body and medium srength (high end of the medium).  The flavors are robust with a combination of roasted coffee, black cherry, raisin, and wood.

I still need to provide a more detailed review of this one.  Look for this in 2011.

Recommended Vitola: Toro (6 x 54)

Monday, December 6, 2010

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #25: Guillermo León Signature

#25 Guillermo León Signature
Continuing "30 Sticks in 31 Days", my Top 30 2010 Cigar of the Year countdown, it is time for the sixth selection...

For #25 on the list, I selected the  Guillermo León Signature.   This is a new stick that has hit the shelves this autumn and is a part of the Miami Cigar family.  The composition of this cigar is really intriguing.   For starters this cigar contains a beautiful Ecuadorian Habana wrapper, but it really is the filler and binder that are the story of this cigar.   The filler is a mix of tobaccos from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Brazil, and Peru (I've been impressed with Peruvian fillers).  The binder is actually a double binder of both Corojo and Cameroon.  The Corojo binder contributes to the strength of the stick and the Cameroon binder gives it  sweetness.

And it is the sweetness of this cigar that really is most impressive.  While the cigar has pepper, earth, and wood notes to start, it really is the sweetness of this stick which is the dominant note as you get into the smoke. I had trouble pinning exactly what type of sweetness this was, but it was a cross between nuts, earth, and cedar.  Overall the stick is definitely medium to full in body and strength.

I still need to provide a more detailed review of this one.  Look for this in 2011.


Recommended Vitola: Gran Corona (6 x 47)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #26: Gurkha Ninja

#26 Gurkha Ninja
Today is the fifth installment of "30 Sticks in 31 Days", my Top 30 2010 Cigar of the Year countdown.

For #26 on the list, I selected the Gurkha Ninja.  The Ninja is the sibling to the stick that posted #29 on my list (the Gurkha Viper).  The Ninja has a very interesting blend to it - Nicaraguan Filler, Cameroon Binder, and a striking Brazilian Wrapper to it.   While it doesn't come in the box-press shape that it's sibling the Viper comes in, the Brazilian wrapper gives this stick a very bold look.  Like the Viper, Gurkha opted for simplistic band and simplistic packaging.

The Ninja is going to produce wonderful notes of chocolate, caramel, and coffee while having some very old-school oak-like flavors.   The cigar is going to start out with medium strength and progress to full strength toward the end.   From a body standpoint, this one is going to also be a push toward the full side.

A full review is available here for more details on my experience with this cigar.

Recommended Vitola: Knife (5 x 55)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #27: Esteban Carreras 5150

#27 Esteban Carreras 5150
It's time for the fourth installment of "30 Sticks in 31 Days", my Top 30 2010 Cigar of the Year countdown.

Coming in at #27 is Esteban Carreras' 5150 cigar.   I've said this many times, when it comes to the Indie Cigar market, I do believe Esteban Carreras is at the top. 

The 5150 is a medium strength, medium body, Nicaraguan filler/ binder cigar with an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper.  While this cigar had a simple band on the foot, it is loaded with complexity.   It has a unique flavor of cayenne pepper and cream.  It also produces notes of coffee and nuts later in the smoke. 

Esteban Carreras has been consistent in producing quality sticks in the value-priced $5.00-$7.00 range - and this one is no exception. 

A full review is available here for more details on my experience with this cigar.


Recommended Vitola: Torpedo (6 3/4' x 52)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pleasure Police Red Alert: Tacoma, Washington

Special thanks to Corona Cigars to making me aware of this alert.   Unfortunately, this is not good news.

This is a terrible defeat for not only the Cigar industry, but small business in general.

The El Gaucho restaurant in Tacoma, Washington has signed a permanent court injunction in which they have agreed not to reopen its VIP smoking lounge.    The restaurant had attempted to comply with a 2005 law that prohibited smoking in public places and places of employment in Tacoma.  They did this by walling off their smoking lounge, putting and adding an air filtration system in the smoking area.

Frank Dibiase from the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department stated: "They went to considerable expense and length to try to circumvent the intent of the law" 

To quote a Cigar Dave expression, this is absolute poppycock.   Here we have a small business investing money to try to comply with an ordinance.   For Dibiase to make the statement he did - this is nothing more than the Pleasure Police trying to flex their muscles.

This is why it is urgent you must know your local politicians stand on tobacco legislation.  The fact that the judge in Pierce County ruled against El Gaucho.   It makes it even more important to know what judges are being voted into office.  It is also important that cigar businesses spending money to comply with legislation be very aware of stuff like this.

Finally, Tacoma is proving to be one of the most unfriendly cities in the United States for Tobacco Enthusiasts.  Read about this Yellow Alert involving possible banning of tobacco use in private dwellings in Tacoma.

Click here to read the article.

UPDATE 

Looks like the restaurant is taking the battle to the legislature asking for a license to be created to allow people to smoke.   Notice the biased reporting when they also say the restaurant "tried to get around the law".


Click here to read this update.

Cigar Aficionado's Schedule for the 2010 Cigar of the Year

Note quite Cigar Coop's Cigar of the Year countdown, but Cigar Aficionado's list is still pretty much the industry's barameter for Cigar of the Year.   I've had my issues with this list because:
  1. I don't think you can rate Cuban Cigars when the majority of your readership has no legal access to these sticks.  Cigar Aficionado does this.
  2. I don't think rating a new Vitola for an existing blend is something that should be done.   I will be doing a separate "New Vitola of the Year"
  3. My perception of the list is that the Indie Cigars have not been given due justice when the cigars have been made
Nonetheless, I am predicting that the original La Traviata  (released 2009) by CAO Cigars willl top the list.   This was my #2 Cigar for 2009.  This stick missed the deadline by Cigar Aficionado to qualify for their 2009 list, but I do believe they will top the list for 2010.

While I have my issues with the list, this is still newsworthy and I'll be monitoring this in January.

The schedule is:
  • Monday, Jan. 3: Cigars No. 10, 9, 8, 7 and 6
  • Tuesday, Jan. 4: Cigars No. 5, 4, 3 and 2
  • Wednesday, Jan. 5: Cigar No. 1
  • Thursday, Jan. 6: Remainder of the Top 25
  • Friday Jan 7: Best Bargain Cigars of 2010
Click here for more details.

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #28: Nestor Miranda Art Deco

#28 Nestor Miranda Art Deco
Here we go with third installment of "30 Sticks in 31 Days", my Top 30 2010 Cigar of the Year countdown.

For Cigar #28 on the Top 30, my selection is the Nestor Miranda Art Deco by Miami Cigars.   From a visibility standpoint there are two striking features:  The Retro "Diner Style" band and a beautiful Nicaraguan Corojo wrapper.  Perhaps the most interesting feature are the two cigar-ebrities that collaborated on this cigar - Nestor Miranda and Don Pepin Garcia.

For Pepin fans, the blend of this cigar is a little different. In a press release Nestor Miranda explained, "We wanted to get Pepin out of his comfort zone, which is using Nicaraguan tobacco. He accepted the challenge and came out with an amazing blend using 40% Dominican tobacco."   While not the most complex stick, the end result has some terrific flavor notes - cinnamon and pepper early on transitioning to cocoa as the smoke progresses.   The body and strength of falls right into the Medium to Full spot.

A full review is available here for more details on my experience with this cigar.

Recommended Vitola: Gran Toro  (6 x 60)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

2010 Cigar of the Year Countdown: #29: Gurkha Viper

#29 - Gurkha Viper
This is the second installment of "30 Sticks in 31 Days", my Top 30 2010 Cigar of the Year countdown.

For stick #29, I selected the Gurkha Viper.   This stick marked a dramatic change for Gurkha in that they moved away from their elaborate packaging and bands and opted for simplicity.   As you can see from the red band, this was a big change in direction.

However, the simplistic packaging was not an issue for the quality of this stick.  Overshadowing the band on this cigar is a wonderful Dominican box-press wrapper on it.  From a flavor profile, this stick hits the mark.  It maintains a terrific cedar sweetness throughout the smoke with hints of caramel.  The strength of this cigar is interesting - it starts out mild and actually builds up close to the medium to full range by the end.

A full review is available here for more details on my experience with this cigar.


Recommended Vitola: Robusto (5 x 50)