IPCPR Thanks

Just wanted to take a minute to thank the gracious folks who showed us around the booths, supplied us with samples, etc. This list comes from the business cards I gathered. If Tommy or Jon have names to add please do.

Phillips & King – Barry Bennett and Brent Baker
The folks at Ventura/Psycho
Lighthouse Cigars – Mark Patterson
Missouri Meershaum Company – Phil Morgan and Mailyn Lanning
Marco V Cigars – John T. Keiser
Intercigar – Maurice Antonius Koks
USA Sales Inc. – Seth Wall
Villiger – Lois Siler
Gold Star Cigars – Reyvys Pliopa
Sweet Ash – Ben Ganser
Perdomo – Nicholas Perdomo III
Global Marketing and Distribution – Ken Bernstein, Mark S. Utz, and Leenid M. Gilman
The folks at Fratello Cigars
Fry Heritage Humidors – Mike Fry
J. Fuego Cigar Co. – Jose R. Fuego
Hamlet Paredes, Master of Tobacco
Ted’s Cigars – Ted Jackson, Jr.
Dissident Cigars – Red Ryan
Curivari – Andreas Throuvalas
C.L.E. – Christian Eiroia
Onyx – Casey Haugen
Esteban Carreras Cigars – Mark Thompson
Blue Ridge Distilling – Mark Boley
Louisville Distilling – Andy Borbely
Rauchvergnugen – Oliver Nickels
Ashton – Andy Green
Alec Bradley – Clay Roberts
APS Distributors LLC – Tony Serino
Altadis – Andy Butler
262 – Kyle Davis
Manry Group – Vicky Moore
Arandoza Cigars – Jose Garci8a and Robert Arango
The Huntington Humidor/Mardi Gras Cigars – David Bethiel
Illusione – Dion Gioloto

We met many more gracious representatives who granted us interviews and gave us samples to review. To all of you (I hope at least some of you will read this), a very gracious thank you. We at Cigar Weekly appreciate your support.

Esteban Carreras BlacK Cross Cross PC

Carreras has has a great deal of success with this vitola. All Esteli Nicaraguan tobacco.

Cut very even (well, I was using my Palio), had a nice pre-light draw with a light pre-light aroma.

Easy draw with a start that settled nicely into a medium-full flavor; the easy draw produced a good volume of smoke.

Solid, light grey ash throughout.

Triple clutching produced a very pleasant spiciness, especially when smoke is released through the nostrils, which is my normal method of smoking.

Paired very well with a porter.

There were some run problems in the burn which resisted correcttion.

Cigar began to burn fairly hot after half-way point.

Good ligero blend produced a very pleasant mid-to-full flavor on this cigar. Flavor continues to build until the smoke is too hot and the cigar is too hot to hold. Very hot/strong finish.

This blend would be more well suited to a larger ring, but it was still a pleasant smoke, just a little too hot at the end.

3/5 on the CW scale. Joe Bob says check it out.

Arandoza Defcon

Arandoza’s most full flavored cigar as described by the reps at IPCPR.

The foot of the cigarshows a nice blend of tobaccos with a good earthy aroma. The wrapper is nice, dark and smooth. The cigar had an easy pre-light draw with some bitter flavors to the tongue. Cut nice and clean with my Palio cutter.

A bit harsh at the light, but the harshness evens out fairly quickly. Very clean burn.

Paired this cigar with an Independence Convict Hill Oatmeal Stout, which turned out to be a bit full for this particular cigar; a creamy stout with a bit of a backbite which is not what I generally expect from an oatmeal ale.

The flavor past the initial harshness settled down to a medium-full cigar, not as full as what I was expecting from this cigar, but still very flavorful, very similar to the Arandoza Red series, but with an oscuro wrapper.

Light gray ash is a bit flaky and tended to drop flakes in my lap, just a bit messy.

Remained a smooth smoking cigar; the strength built as the cigar progressed to a solid medium-full smoke.

At 1/3 the cigar started to get hot, with the strength of the cigar building accordingly.

Put the cigar down just past 1/4 of the cigar left when it was too hot to draw and hold.

Overall impressions – not as full as I was expecting (not necessarily a bad thing), full bodied as expected as the cigar progressed. Still, overall an enjoyable cigar and I give it 3.5/5. Joe Bob says Check It Out.

262 Paradigm

This robusto had a slightly veiny medium-brown wrapper. Pre-light aroma was a bit mild. Inspecting the foot revealed no signs of ligero in the blend. Pre-light draw was smooth with hints of flavors. Overall, construction is very good. Cut nice and clean with my Palio.

Lit easily, burned clean throughout. Never had to relight.

Started off as a woody, mostly mild cigar with a pleasant blend of flavors. Soon burned to a more medium bodied cigar as flavors built. Again, mostly woody, with some trace flavors in the background.

Draw remained very smooth and pleasant past 3/4 of the cigar and only became hot in the last inch.

Overall impression: a Nice mild to medium bodied cigar that builds to a full-medium as the cigar burns. Again, mostly woody flavors, but not really one-dimensional as there were many hints in the background. A little light for my personal taste, but still a solid 3+-to-4 rating. Joe Bob says check it out!

Crux Passport corona

Very pleasant to the touch with a major vein, nice smooth pre-draw. Smooth and pleasant on the initial draw with flavors of toasted tobacco and some creamy smoothness.

Mellows out to a medium bodied cigar with mild spiciness. Fairly even burn thought. Cigar did begin to get warm about halfway and was hot enough to put down at two thirds.

construction – 4

Strength – 3

Flavors 3

Aroma – 4

Overall not a bad cigar, but drifted in to mediocre. 3.5. Joe Bob Says check it out.

Dissident Soap Box

From talking to the rep, this cigar is aimed at the younger crowd.

Light tobacco aromas from the foot and wrapper. Easy cut and a very smooth pre light draw with very little flavor.

Initial draw has very light tobacco flavor and a hint of nuttiness.

The wrapper cracked about half way down.

The light flavors continued with a hint of sweetness.

Nothing special here, the mottled flaky ash held until about an inch and a half then disintegrated.

Bitterness developed at the tip as pools of tar began to form.

The crack in the wrapper grew as the fire neared it, and the cigar began to get harsh.

Overall the cigar was not well balanced and I put it down at about 2″.

Construction – 3

Flavor – 2

Heat and harshness – 2

Overall I’ll give this one a 2.5. Joe Bob says check it out.

Curivari

The pride in his company’s work but not in himself was pleasantly refreshing at the Curivari Booth. Described as “Too nice” by his customers and his workers. Andres Throuvales grew up in Greece and after an American college education in Food Science, moved to Cuba where he discovered cigars. When he moved back home, he realized there were more cigars in the world than Cubans and at half the price. Early on, Andres developed a Maduro for the European market but it didn’t catch on until the Cubans brought in their own cigars with the darker wrapper. And then he couldn’t keep them on the shelf. Curivari’s Buenaventura was one of 2013’s top 25 and this year they have released six new sizes along with two new lines.

I smoked a Buenaventura the other night; about a 50 ring toro length with a gently tapered head, not really a pyramide. It presented meduim to light flavors including cocoa, cream and well aged tobacco. The cigar had great construction too, with a very smooth, cool burn. I really cannot find any complaints with either of the cigars I smoked (one at the show, one last Thursday). Curivari is quickly becoming one of my favorite boutique cigars.

Edgar Hoill OSOK Desmadroso

The cigar has an interesting taper to it with a traditional rounded head and about 1/2 inch of unwrapped tobacco at the foot, making it very easy to light.

Pre-light aroma had toasted tobacco, leather and vanilla undertones. Clipped cleanly with my Palio and lit nicely although the unfinished foot took a bit more effort.

Once the burn settled in, a nice even draw produced copious amounts of smoke with the aforementioned flavors of toasted tobacco, leather and vanilla undertones. The ash was mottled and held on for about an inch.

Very nice nose to the smoke off of the foot, medium but not overpowering.

Had to set the cigar down for a moment; not only did it not go out, the flavors had improved while I was gone; more creaminess while keeping the toasted tobacco flavors and a developing sweetness.

The cigar was so well constructed that it burned slow and never got hot, providing a nice, long, pleasant smoke.

The uncut remnants of the head peeled off, but this had no effect on the quality of the smoke.

At about half-way, this cigar developed into one of the most enjoyable smokes in recent memory. I was smoking on my son’s balcony, and even though the rain was coming down in buckets, the cigar never got gummy like some cigars do when presented with too much humidity in the air.

I nubbed this cigar without a single hot draw.

These are flying off of the shelves, so do yourself a favor and find one (some). The Edgar Hoyll One Shot One Kill (OSOK) does not disappoint. I give it 5/5. Joe Bob says check it out!

La Sirena Merlion

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Corojo

Binder: Brazil

Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Brazil

Another sample from the IPCPR.

Light to medium aromas from the wrapper and foot. Medium brown with light veining, otherwise silky smooth. Good draw with very light flavors. Bunch firm but not hard.

Initial sweetness and toasted tobacco flavors. Some light bitterness develops early. Light to grey ask solid. Even burn. Very good smoke volume.

Cigar gets a bit warm just past first inch, slowing down. Bitterness is gone, sweetness is subdued. Light spiciness nutmeg/cinnamon hints. Burning in a cone and continues to smoke warm.

Flavor is developing with floral notes. As the floral notes emerge the sweetness returns.

Medium body and light to medium flavors with a light pleasant finish.

Very well-constructed cigar.

Stronger tobacco flavors come to the fore at about half way. Cone begins to flatten.

Overall pleasant smoke with developing flavors that keep things interesting. 4/5 – Joe Bob says “check it out.”

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 Rothschild

Recently picked up an Illusione Rothschild to smoke at one of the local lounges.

Very smooth, cleanly constructed cigar with great aromas. Cut and lit very clean, and then the fun began.

In a, “can you guess which flavor this is?” game, the cigar developed vanilla, caramel, cocoa, toasted tobacco and leather in various combinations that was an absolute pleasure to experience.

The cigar burned very clean and gave all of the pleasure of the many larger Illusiones in a nice compact package. Joe Bob says check it out.

The 10 best things about the first day of the IPCPR in New Orleans

Not even counting the free sample cigars flowing from some of the booths, SWAG was everywhere. The goods ranged from free luggage tags and lanyards (courtesy Nat Sherman Cigars) to free T-shirts, torch lighters and laptop bags (from Nino Vasquez at APS Distributors).

Best taste: 

Cigar & Spirits Magazine sponsored the Lounge, with comfortable chairs for a smoke, and various companies pouring liquor to sample. 35 Maple Street Spirits had the best tasting sips with their Bib & Tucker Bourbon that matched well with a spicy cigar.

Best story behind their company: 

Graycliff Hotel, Chocolatier and Cigars. In 1740, notorious Caribbean pirate Captain John Howard Graysmith traded in his plundering for a pardon from the British, and settled down in Nassau, Bahamas to build his home, Graycliff. The company has since released the Graysmith blend using some of their stockpile of original tobacco. The sticks are hand rolled without molds, and come in a larger 60 x 7 inch format for around $30.

Best story behind their new blend:

Boutique Blends (with Oliveros) showcased the La Boheme Encantador. This new blend was named for the way a sample of it was described – ‘Enchanting’. This box pressed cigar is a medium to full smoke with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and Habano Dominiano filler and wrapper. It will retail for $10.50-12.50.

Best throwback:

Missouri Meershaum Companies authentic looking Corn Cob pipe was the best recreation of Old America. The pipe looks like the kind from the 1800s, but smokes much better.

Best new idea: 

Perdomo premiered their new line, Special Craft Series, for beer enthusiasts. The three blends were created with a specific type of beer in mind. The Connecticut shade grown is to be paired with a Pilsner, White Ale, Golden Lager, Cream Ale and Light Lager. The Nicaraguan sun grown is meant to complement Amber, Pale Ale, Lager, IPA, Oktoberfest or Double IPA. And the Jalapa Valley Maduro wrapper cigar should be paired with Stout, Porter, Brown Ale, Bock, Dunkel or Imperial Stout.

Best surprise: 

For those caring about the future of premium cigar smoking in the United States and attending the Government Affairs briefing, it was a pleasant surprise to get two cigars to sample from the Mexican La Casta Cigars. They provided attendees with a nice Nicaraguan/Mexican blend Toro Capa Flor and a La Casta.

Best logo:

A Pennsylvania company, Evil Genius, set on world domination one cigar at a time.

Best gimmick: 

The yet-to-be-released-in-America Rauchvergnugen Cigar has a totally unique push, claiming to be a ‘German Engineered Cigar’. Oliver Nickels is promoting his new sticks, which come complete with blue prints. Nickels is looking for an American distributor.

Best booth: 

Hands down, Drew Estate wowed the crowd upon entry with their booth design and cigars. They appeared under the bridge, and allowed convention goers to get a better look with upstairs seating.

Top 10 things at Sunday’s IPCPR in New Orleans

Best dressed:

Foundry’s creator has a new full-flavored Ramon Allones and classic-taste Bolivar, at just $6.49 – $7.49 retail. Michael Giannini took the Old Cuban Heritage brands and reimaged them. Each has leaves from six different farms, including wrappers and fillers. The pigtailed stick with unfinished foot in a uniquely designed box looks interesting, but one look at Giannini explained why. His floral jacket stood out but matched him. He said of his cigars, “When you first light it you get a taste of the wrapper, that’s an appetizer and then once you get into the blend, that’s the entrée.”

Most modest:

The pride in his company’s work but not in himself was pleasantly refreshing at the Curivari Booth. Described as ‘too nice’ by his customers and his workers, Andres Throuvales grew up in Greece. After an American college education in Food Science, he moved to Cuba, where he discovered cigars. When he moved back home, he realized there were more cigars in the world than Cubans, and at half the price. Early on, Andres developed a Maduro for the European market. But it didn’t catch on until the Cubans brought in their own cigars with the darker wrapper. And then he couldn’t keep them on the shelf. Curivari’s Buenaventura was one of 2013s top 25, and this year his firm has released six new sizes along with two new lines.

Best thing in the morning:

Psyko 7 coffee and cigars. Ventura Cigar Company is marketing its 100 percent Arabica tobacco-infused coffee that comes in three flavors – Bourbon Blend, Havana Blend and Mint Chocolate. It’s a smooth, dark roast, and will pair well with your smoke. Medicate your mind early in the morning with one of the new sizes for their successful cigar line, Psyko 7. It’s a Dominican Hybrid wrapper, Mexican Samatra binder and multiple-country blend.

Best grandmom story:

Ted’s Cigars owner has an amazing story behind his Farris Cigars. Ted’s grandmother spent every Sunday with her bible, not at church, but at a women’s prison. Ted named the cigar after her (Lois Ferris), and asks his customers to share their stories online with him (whereupon he will send them a cigar). Remember the Maker’s Mark cigar? Ted’s has done it again with their new Single Malt Scotch cigar, The Glen. It comes in a glass tube so the infused alcohol won’t evaporate.

Best costume:

To promote Luchador’s latest cigar, who else would be at their booth but a Luchador costumed helper. The Luchador team is promoting their new El Gringo, a strong yet smooth Nicaraguan with three ligeros. The sticks were aged three years, and proved to be good smokes. And they’re not just for gringos.

Best free lunch:

Retailers and press were given some somewhat good free food for lunch. (Saturday was paid for by Quesada Cigars, and Sunday was Padron Cigars.) Don’t forget to thank the sponsor.

Pushiest salesman:

This comes out to be a tie between Lighthouse cigars and Flor de Gonzalez Cigars. That pushy old guy who kept dragging people back to his booth at Lighthouse Cigars believed in his product so much that he grabbed anyone nearby (and not so nearby) to get them to try the Dominican Golfer’s Blend (mild for the beginning smoker) and Limited Edition (new for the show). Also, Senor Gonzales at Flor De Gonzales loves his cigar so much that he asked anyone who walked by (whether they were smoking a cigar or not) if they wanted to smoke a good cigar. If you replied, “I am”, he’d tell you, “No, a really good one.”

Best name story:

If you go by the 262 Cigars booth, they will first tell you about the two new sizes of their Peacefield – the lancero and the lancero plus – before embarking on a tale of where the company’s name came from. If you know anything about the Cuban Embargo, you can probably already guess, since JFK signed the papers on the second month of 1962.

Coolest cigar:

Ever seen a rolled-by-hand Culebra? How about the three-foot-long Culebra at the Rocky Patel booth rolled at the convention and by none other than Hamlet Parades. Hamlet is promoting his new brand, Tabaquero. The name means cigar roller. Glad the company name was not already taken.

Most overlooked:

If you skipped the GMD booth because you thought the company looked too expensive and snooty, go back and take another look. This European company has expanded to the United States, and hopes to make a splash with its Heritage 1942 Nicaragua, Heritage 1942 Tradicionales, Euforia Nicaraguan and Euphoria Dominican. I smoked the Euforia Perfecto tonight accompanied by a Don Julio Anjeo Tequila and a New Castle Brown Ale. The cigar was smooth and spicy, and went well with both drinks.

Garo’s New Line

Garo rebranded their line this year w/ Maduro especial, Adamas and a edition limitada 2010. $9-14 price range. Ecuadoran wrappers grown in Ecuador you can grow 4 times a year in different areas to get a consistent wrapper.

“The passion I have never went away. I’m very traditionalist in terms of cigars. I want people to come and sit and smoke and talk. I am a very realistic guy.”

I smoked a sample of the maduro expecial. Very smooth dark wrapper. warm tobacco pre-draw. Lit easily and produced chocolate notes as well as well aged and toasted tobacco; peppery spices developed.

This was a very well constructed cigar with volumes of very full bodied maduro flavors with hints of sweetness.

Either I am drawing too fast or the construction is a bit loosely rolled because the cigar started gretting warm fairly quickly at at about the mid point. Despite the warmness though, the flavors continued to shine through.

Construction – 4.5

Flavors – 5

Body – 5

Volume of smoke 4.5

Overall a very pleasant smoke aimed clearly at the maduro crowd. Joe Bob says check it out.

EP Carrillo corona

Mild pleasant pre-loght draw, excellent aroma on lightwith excellent flavor on initial draw.

Light to medium bodied cigar with full flavors and ample smoke.

Excellent construction with even burn. I only had to make one minor adjustment which probably would have corrected itself. This is a fairly one dimensional cigar but the flavor is very good.

Even burn with a cone shape, the body of the cigar as the smoke progresses throughout.

A nice cool smoke that remained cool throughout.

Pepper tones developed as the cigar burned low.

For the mild-bodied, full flavored crowd this is a must smoke. 4+/5. Joe Bob says Check It Out.

Capa Flor Toro

Excellent construction, Beautiful Maduro wrapper.

Very nice flavors on draw. Flavor deepens early to a nice toasted tobacco flavor with hints of cocoa.

Plentiful sweet smoke; almost candy-like as paired with a creme soda.

The dark maduro wrapper adds volume to flavors.

Solid mottled ash with no flaking speaks to the quality of the construction of this cigar. Also the razor-straight burn with one minor correction.

Some cognac flavors emerged at about 1″ into the cigar, providing a very flavorful burn.

About half way through the cigar pepper and vanilla emerged, also adding to the enjoyment of the flavor.

The cigar developed no gumminess at the foot, but it did get a bit hot, which caused me to toss it at about an inch. Still, a very enjoyable cigar and one that I would recommend. 4/5. Joe Bob Says Check It Out,

Regular guy, honest reviews