All posts by Pippin

I am a part time journalist and a full time cigar and pipe tobacco reviewer. If you enjoy "the leaf," Why not join us over at Cigarweekly.com. I personally have 30ish years of knowledge to share and I consider myself one of the lesser experts.

Music to smoke to

Today, to accompany my Flor Cana and Illusi0ne 88 Robusto (see my cigar reviews on Cigar Weekly) I opted to hit “shuffle” on my iPhone. This ranged from Robert Earl Keane, Tom Waits, The Ramones and Mozart, to name a few.

To say that the music added to the enjoyment of the cigars would be a gross understatement. The true standout was George Jones’ He Stopped Lovin’ Her Today. This song always brings a tear to my eye, but in a good way.

Other songs that stood out were The Germ’s Lexicon Devil and The Ramones cover of Love’s 7 and 7 is.

If you don’t listen to music while you enjoy a cigar, you are missing an outstanding experience.

ICPCR winners (this man’s opinion)

Looking back at what can only be described as a stellar show in New Orleans, the 2015 ICPCR yielded a vast field of competitors for your hard-earned cigar dollars.

According to Cigar Afficianado magazine, My Father Le Bijou takes top honors, but I would like to offer some alternatives to this hard-to-find cigar that also earned a permanent place in many humidors.

Christian Eiroa’s CLE, who make their own wonderful cigars, has produced a boutique brand “designed” by photograoher Edgar Hoill. Known by his photographic creed, “One Shot One Kill,” or OSOK, his Nicaraguan tobacco cigars are something to be noticed. I especially like the Travesio, a 5.5″ “pyramid” with 1/2″ unfinished foot. It lights easy, smokes clean, and gives you more flavors than you expected, even when your expectations were high to begin with.

At the end of 2014, Rocky Patel scored a major coup in the cigar world by hiring Hamlet Paredes, former master roller at the Partagas factory in Havana, following his emigration from Cuba to the United States. Hamlet now has his own line distributed by Patel, the Tabaquero, and they are quite special. Immaculate construction, complex flavors and a medium to full body make this a cigar to keep around.

The rep we spoke to at the Alec Bradley display gave us samples of what he said was the only cigar at the convention to pre-sell out (we didn’t verify this claim, but it still sounded cool…), the Sanctum. A medium bodied beauty with lots of complexity and variety of flavors, the Sanctum should please anyone who likes premium cigars.

Curivari’s owner, Andres Throuvales, was probably the most engaging person we met at the show, and his Buenaventura line has been pleasing smokers ever since. I personally like all Curivaris, and the Buenaventura is no exception. Very pretty cigar with lots of flavor and lots of smoke in a medium-bodied presentation. Definitely worth finding if you have not seen or tried them.

USA Distribution had a very small corner booth at the show, complete with a live roller they hired from Bobalu Cigars in Austin. They were showing and sharing a cigar they called Hidden Treasure, and it is aptly named. Primarily Dominican tobacco with a nice dose of ligero leaves made for a very pleasant smoke that was smooth but still had enough strength to keep my attention. Unfortunately, like their name, they are so far a bit hard to find, but rest assured they are worth the effort.

New in 2015 but released prior to the show, the Perdomo Craft series made quite an impression. Specifically blended to match up with craft beers, the maduro, sungrown and Connecticut lines all lived up to their billing. My favorite was the sungrown paired with a triple IPA, although the maduro with a strong stout was a very close second. And the Connecticut with a lager was also an excellent pairing. If you are a fan of craft beers and enjoy them with your cigars, this line is not to be skipped.

There were many many other cigars worth mentioning, including the Euforia by GMD, Garo’s excellent maduro, the Arandoza red, white and blue lines, and too many others. It was an excellent show with very few low points. I look forward to the opportunity to cover future shows and share what I have found.

Sungrown-Craft Series

This is the first of three reviews I will post on the Special Craft Series. In case you are not familiar with these Perdomos, they were specially blended to complement craft beers.

For the sungrown I chose a Stone Brewery RuinTen triple IPA. It is recommended for Amber, heavier Lager, IPA and Oktoberfest brews.

Prelight: Earthy aroma with light floral notes, immaculate construction, perfect cut with my Palio. Nice smooth pre-light draw. Looking at the foot of the cigar I counted two or three ligero leaves, so I know it would have plenty of flavor. Also notable is the almost full-coverage band that tells you which beer to pair with the cigar.

First draw had a hint of bitterness which quickly disappeared. Flavors quickly settled into a medium-to-full profile that was quite pleasant. Taking a sip of the beer really opened up my palate and added to the quality of both the smoke and the beer. The pairing was perfect.

The almost white ash held nicely to about 2″ before I tapped it off to keep from getting a lapful. Stayed consistent throught the entire cigar.

The floral hints I detected pre-draw disappeared when I was smoking. There are some light spicy notes that are accentuated if you let the smoke escape through your nose, which is my general habit.

For smoke volume I very highly recommend double- or even triple-clutching (warm-up puffs before taking a deep draw). This adds massive amounts of flavor, and to the cigar’s credit, did not make it smoke hot; in fact, the smoke only became hot as the nub became too hot to hold and I had to put it down in the ashtray.

Throughout the cigar it burned evenly (once very minor wrapper adjustment, probably from double-clutching), and never developed stickiness from tar build-up at the tip.

Depending on how fast you smoke, this cigar will last you one to two hours. Took me about an hour and a half, and I tend to smoke faster than some.

Perdomo set their sights on a cigar to go with the aforementioned beers, and in my opinion, knocked this one clean out of the park. 5/5. Joe Bob says, “Check it Out.”

Illusione 88 Robusto

First and foremost, this is a beautiful cigar. Dion Giolotto knows how to produce a cigar that says, “love me.”

Excellent flavors on the initial draw, very floral with hints if nutmeg and cinnamon, typical of Dion’s cigars. Pairs very well with a Honduran coffee.

Toasted tobacco with very pleasant flavors.

This is a very pleasant cool smoke. The excellent construction pairs with a very solid mottled ash.

An undercurrent of vanilla goes well with the peppery notes that develop.

A bit of warmth develops as this cigar is much too good to smoke slowly.

The quality of construction is evident as the ash holds on well past the half way point.

I smoked more than one cigar tonight; this was far and away the best of the bunch. 5/5. Joe Bob Says Check it out.