Day Two – IPCPR Top 10

#10 True fact

Holland boasts a very long cigar history, dating all the way back to the 1600’s. After 112 years based in the Netherlands, Balmoral Cigars has expanded their new line, and has now come to the IPCPR to sell to American premium cigar lovers.

Day Two IPCPR Top 10 1

#9 Antique lovers

7-20-4 Cigars has brought back an antique brand (began in 1857), and expanded it to have a vintage look and feel. Its lineup includes the Hustler, with an exclusive Dog Walker size and one of the highest rated barber poles. The name comes from the original production facilities, located at 724 Elm Street, Manchester, New Hampshire.

Day Two IPCPR Top 10 4

#8 Cigar chair

From The Godmother of Cigars, My Cigar Chair has been ergonomically designed, and comes with a built in Ash Tray, 20 cigar humidor, magazine rack, foot rest and accessory compartment. This custom order chair is ideal for home use or for retail store lounges.

Day Two IPCPR Top 10 2

#7 Longest Mexican cigar history

After six generations (growers since 1880) in the same family, Casa Turrent is trying new blends with their Casa Turrent 1901, 1942 and 1973.

Day Two IPCPR Top 10 5

#6 Back the Blue

What happens when two police officers love cigars and create the Protocol brand to just sell locally? They sell out the line in two months, and get a 95 rating for their Lancero.

Day Two IPCPR Top 10 6

#5 Best host

Ventura Cigar Co., from Phillips and King International, hosted both the press and retailers, providing information, samples, swag and Kentucky Bourbon in increasing quality (Eagle Rare Bourbon, Buffalo Trace Bourbon and Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon).

Day Two IPCPR Top 10 7

#4 Most new lines

Dion Gilolito’s Illusione Cigars packed in more new lines than anyone, including an Anniversary line. They took the FDA deadline seriously.

Day Two IPCPR Top 10 8

#3 Most creative

Known as ‘Nick-R-Agua’, Nicholas Melillo (from Foundation Cigars) presented four lines of cigars that look like they should be from four different blenders. Melillo is most assuredly a master.

Day Two IPCPR Top 10 9

#2 Cigar prices

Many brands are targeting the sweet-spot cost points by offering cigars in lower price ranges they haven’t hit in years. Gurkha even brought out a new line in the $5 MSPR range with their Cellar Reserve 12.

Day Two IPCPR Top 10 10

#1 Best cause

Sentinel Cigars is back, and it has doubled down. Sentinel is already known for selling its cigars for $1 over cost, and for contributing all the proceeds to wounded veterans. But now, it’s coupled with African charities, which are creating jobs in Rwanda (plus providing clean water and more) by growing and selling African leaf.

Day Two IPCPR Top 10 11

EXTRA for Cigar Weeky

FOG’s Best TOJE Moments…
Day Two IPCPR Top 10 3
Barry, from Ventura Cigars (formerly with CAO), said, “That Bastard still talks to me,” through the song Here Comes the Sun. He said the song came on the radio again two weeks ago while he was smoking a Bucanero. Jon Huber, from Crowned Heads, couldn’t believe it when he saw a photo of TOJE’s daughter, who is now 13. We miss you Bro!

Day One – IPCPR 2016 Top 10

Cigar Weekly’s own Jeff Slatton (jefslat) offers up his ‘Top 10’ impressions from the first day of the (2016) International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers 84th Annual Convention & Trade Show. Savor the moment!

#10 Best cigar boxes

HS Cigars has developed the most amazing boxes for two of its cigar lines. Look for an upcoming review to see if these cigars are as worthy of their boxes as they seem.

Day One IPCPR Top 10 1

The Berlin Wall Series comes in a mausoleum-styled box. It’s an earthy, medium body vitola that will appeal to the seasoned cigar smoker.

The Moscow Series box is metallic with an embossed city view. These ultra-premium Maduro cigars come from the Tabadom manufactory, and have Connecticut broadleaf wrappers. This company’s products are mainly distributed on the east coast, though the firm is looking to go westward.

#9 Most unique/heartwarming stories

Visit Evil Genius booth #3645 to hear the story of the new Goosebone cigar. The journey to recreate a cigar brand and secure the name is a good one. And visit Cordoba and Morales booth #3800 to hear the touching story of a young couple’s love for cigars brought out in their products. While you are there, order some quality product.

Day One IPCPR Top 10 2

#8 Best pairings
Dictador Cigars took pairings to a new level by creating their own Rum, Gin, Coffee and Chocolate to pair with each cigar line. They also had a delicious looking line of models, in skin-tight outfits and military-style hats, for those who like that kind of pairing.

Day One IPCPR Top 10 3

#7 Most unique packaging

PDR Cigar’s umbrella covers Flores Y Rodriguez’s new Broadleaf Azul. They, as well as Viaje’s Juntos, sported a new look for cigars by being sold in decorative ceramic jars. A great place to ‘keep your ashes’.

#6 Biggest improvement

Boveda showed off an amazing new two-way Humidity Control package. It humidifies 6x the space for 6x as long.

Day One IPCPR Top 10 4

#5 Best events

Altadis USA Activities-Daily registrations for a Harley Davidson, Coffee Pairings, Photobooth pictures, Happy Hour and new cigar reveals.

#4 Most clever line

The Skinny, Pudgy and Little Monsters from Tatuaje. They may be difficult to find, so if you see the boxes, grab one up.

Day One IPCPR Top 10 5

#3 Best cause

Save the Leaf. August 6-9, Save the Leaf will protest the FDA’s over reaching regulations. Learn more at savetheleaf.org, @savethe leaf, facebook.co./groups/savetheleaf or savetheleaf on twitter.

#2 Most hospitable

Hiram and Solomon/Blanco Cigars Booth #442. These guys treat you like family, and will make your stay in their booth enjoyable.

Day One IPCPR Top 10 6

#1 Best salesman

Pete Tyndale of King Cigars. Wanna’ hire a motivational speaker and not have to put up with Flipflop’s gas? Hire the ‘Prince’ from Kings Cigars. Pete really believes in his product, and will convince you each one of his cigars is the best.

Lists

Having seen it before, I just took another look at Cigar Aficionado’s Top 25 of 2015 list. I know, it’s easy to hate on CA, but there are just some major holes in this list that cannot be ignored.

Tabaclera by Hamlet – Produced by the former master roller at the Partagas factory in Havana, Hamlet Paredes left Cuba and went to work with Rocky Patel. The cigars are full body/full flavor and have an amazing mix of flavors that pretty much have to be experienced. This cigar also does not get overly hot as you smoke it. I shared one with a friend last weekend and he commented that he needed a “roach clip” because he wasn’t ready to put it down. Recently Hamelt made an in-store appearance here in San Antonio and he is outgoing and friendly. And watching him roll a 36″ culebra (he said it was enough tobacco for 15 robustos) was fascinating. His 20+ years of rolling experience was evident as he made it look so easy.

Sobramesa – This brand was developed and brought to market by Steve Saka after he left his position of CEO at Drew Estate. This is a medium-to-full body and flavor cigar that everyone should be smoking. Once again, the flavors are hard to describe in words but are outstanding and need to be experienced.

Edgar Hoil OSOK – Produced by Chistian Eiroa, I was expecting an outstanding cigar. I got more than I bargained for. I just can’t get over how good these cigars are. Lots of flavor, body and smoke from this full body cigar always leaves me wanting more.

Perdomo Craft Series Sungrown – The entire craft series, specifically blended to go with craft beers, is outstanding, but the sungrown, paired with a 110 IBU triple IPA, was just mind altering. As with all Perdomo cigars, it smoked very cleanly and, as I mentioned, it paired perfectly with one of my favorite beers.

As I said at the beginning, I’m not “trashing” CA, just pointing out some very good cigars that I believe are better than several of their choices. I also go by the motto, “smoke what you like, like what you smoke.”

I’m looking forward to the 2016 IPCPR in Las Vegas to see what new offerings there are; I also plan to spend some time with smaller brands to get their reaction to the new FDA rules. I fear that the 2017 IPCPR may be much smaller because of the cost of government over-reach.

Drew Estate The Egg

This is without a doubt the worst cigar I have ever suffered through. Has to smoke my pipe to get the meh taste out. Like smoking tobacco wrapped in wet newspaper.

It did have a smooth wrapper and was pretty well constructed, so I’ll give it a 20. Joe Bob says skip it.

Spring Pollen and Cigars

Definitely not a good match.

My smoking has been fairly limited over the past few weeks because I really believe that trying to smoke when I have allergy attacks is a waste of a good cigar. Can’t taste anything.

That said, I had a pretty clear weekend last week, so…

PDR 1878 SG robusto

Perfect wrapper, good bunch and heavenly fragrances from the wrapper and the foot with a generous draw.

Smoked with a Freetail Pinata Protest red wit brewed with ancho chilis, a perfect match for a sungrown wrapper.

This cigar could be a meal. Initial flavors are peppery toasted tobacco with hints of Milanesa. Razor straight burn and no excessive heat. Lots of smoke to complete the experience.

Firm grey ash held past 1″, I almost always knock the ash off at that point to check the burn, which showed slight coning but perfectly even.

Purged at 2/3 point to mute the heat that had built up, cigar cooled back down niceley. This will be a nubber.

The beer/cigar combination was perfect. 5/5. Joe Bob says check it out!

Cigar/beer pairings

That I know of, there are now three (Drew Estate Smoking Monk, Quesada and Perdomo Craft Series) lines of cigars specially blended to enjoy with a fine cigar.

Here’s my opinions on what to drink when you’re smoking.

Connecticut wrapper: pick a fine lager or pilsner (no Bud or Miller please).
Sungrown: A very good IPA (or double IPA or Triple IPA [Stone RuinTen is my personal favorite for a good sungrown]).
Rosado: A good brown ale, but not too strong. Arrogant Bastard, for example, will overpower the cigar
Maduro/Oscuro: There are a plethora of wonderful Porters and Stouts (a really good coffee or chocolate stout go especially well with a nice strong maduro).

If you, like me, are an aficionado of both fine cigars and fine craft beers, feel free to chime in on your favorite pairings.

I got a bad one. What do I do?

It eventually happens to all of us. You get a cigar that is underfilled/overfilled, plugged, or just does not taste good to you. But you spent good money on it. So what do you do?

If it’s a matter of disagreeable flavors, try purging your cigar. Hold your lighter near the burning end of the cigar and blow through the cigar. This will cleanse trapped gases that can cause bitterness that will mask the true flavors of the cigar.

If the cigar has serious construction issues (underfilled, where is it too “mushy” when you roll it between your finger and thumb, or plugged, where it is like sucking on a pencil) there are a couple of options.

For soft cigars, smoke very slowly and purge often. It will burn hot and uneven, but if you are careful you can salvage the smoke.

For plugged cigars, you can try using a draw poker, which is a metal rod you push through the center of the cigar to attempt to break up whatever is blocking the air flow. This can happen if a leaf or two get twisted together and form a hard spot. If the draw poker does not work, put the cigar back in your humidor and give it some serious time. As it ages the obstruction may shift or relax.

The other option is to cut the cigar up and shred it into pipe tobacco. Of course, if you don’t smoke a pipe this is pretty much pointless.

And yes, there will be cigars with perfect construction that draw and burn well that you just do not like. Most people tend to soldier through it so they don’t feel like they wasted their money. That’s an option, but I generally just put the cigar down in the ashtray and let it go out, replacing it with something better.

If you smoke cigars long enough, you will come across cigars that are either flawed or that you just do not like. I tend to buy smaller cigars when trying something new. It’s a lot easier to put down a corona than a churchill when it comes to feeling like you wasted your money.

Tabaquero by Hamlet Paredes

(First part of this was written in November of 2015, the revisit is current)

Ever since getting to talk to Hamlet Paredes at IPCPR last summer I have been anticipating his new line Tabaquero hitting the market. I pre-ordered a five pack of coronas from an online vendor and received them last week. After letting them settle for a bit I had one Saturday night following my son’s wedding. It did not disappoint.
If you are unfamiliar with Hamlet Paredes, he worked at the Partagas factory in Havana for 20 years, becoming the master roller. He defected to the US in 2014 and went to work for Rocky Patel in Florida. His Partagas custom cigars always had a unique flavor and were much sought after and his own line I hoped would be just as good.
When I got to talk to Hamlet at the 2015 IPCPR in New Orleans he was very excited to be promoting his cigar for the American market.
CI describes the cigar this way: “Tabaquero comes draped in a San Andres wrapper concealing binders from Brazil and Mexico, and Nicaraguan long-filler. Medium-bodied, and containing Cuban-esque richness, flavors abound including spice, cocoa, coffee, pepper, earth, and subtle cream.
These are very dark wrapped cigars with good smooth construction. Firm, but not too, to the touch, with nice aromas of well-aged tobacco from the wrapper and the foot. Cut very cleanly with a Palio, and the pre-light draw was easy without being loose and had light hints of various flavors including tobacco and spice.”
My initial draw was a bit strong, but it mellowed quickly to a nice blend of tobacco and spices with undertones of cocoa and earth. The ash was nice and firm.
At about the half-way point a distinctive undertone of pepper starts to build.
The excellent construction of this cigar allowed for the smoke to stay cool and pleasant, which allowed a creaminess to develop.
It finished clean with no harshness in the after flavor and the cigar burned razor sharp with no touch-ups required.
The Tabaquero produced more smoke that you might expect from a corona. It smoked very much like a Habano and was easy to enjoy down to the nub.
I cannot in good faith compare these to Hamlet’s creation with Cuban tobacco; however, given the wide variety of leaves he had to choose from, he did an excellent job with the blend, binder and wrapper to create a most enjoyable cigar. I am definitely looking forward to smoking more of these in different sizes to see how well the filler competes with the wrapper, as a corona’s flavor is generally dominated by the wrapper.
Construction – 5
Burn – 5
Quality of flavors – 5
Overall impression – 5
5/5 Stellar cigar from one of the best in the business. Joe Bob says check it out.

Revisit

Smoking another outstanding Tabaquero Corona by Hamlet Paredes today. Love these cigars!
Beautiful smooth dark wrapper, very fragrant wrapper and foot, firm but not hard bunching, perfect pre-light draw.

Clipped and lighted perfectly and immediately produced ample flavorful smoke. Cocoa and leather notes with some pepper in the back of the throat and the nose.

A slight run was easily corrected and the cigar burned evenly thereafter. Woody notes picked up at 1/3 adding to the other flavors. This is a full bodied cigar with complex flavors that develop nicely as the cigar progresses.
I might be a bit biased as I always enjoyed Hamlet’s Cuban blends whenever I could obtain them.
Backed the cigar with a Sierra Nevada Otra Vez, which complemented the flavors of the cigar to perfection.
Second third was more flavorful as the tasting notes picked up and some cinnamon emerged; one of my favorite flavor profiles. A slight run was easily corrected and the even, flat burn continued. Hints of nutmeg emerged as I approached the final third.
One slight tear, which was my fault from removing the bands a bit too quickly, but it had no impact on the quality of the smoke. Cigar did not get warm until well into the final third, causing me to slow down, which was no easy task with a cigar this flavorful. It cooled back down as I slowed my smoking.
Excellent cigar that impressed me from light to nub. Get your hands on some of these stellar cigars. 5/5, Joe Bob says definitely check it out!
And huge kudos to Rocky Patel for picking Hamlet up to add to his already excellent line.

Clipping your tapered-head cigar

Tapered cigars (perfectos, torpedos, pyramids, salomoes, etc) are quite popular, and, in my opinion, should be cut slightly differently from round vitolas.

First and foremost, you need to use a quality cutter. I am partial to the Palio, but also own and use Xicar. Both feature very sharp blades that do not dull quickly and carry a warranty.

For your perfecto, I recommend cutting off approximately 1/2″ at an angle not to exceed 30 degrees. The angle opens up more surface for your draw and will gum up less than a straight cut.

I also do not recommend re-clipping. If your cigar does begin to gum up at the tip, re-clipping might be your only option (and, in my opinion, means that you did not clip enough initially). The main problem I see with re-clipping is the potential damage to the wrapper leaf. Even with a high-quality cutter, the wrapper is now moister than when you first cut it, which can cause an uneven clip and even a tear.

Many of my favorite cigars are tapered at the end, and I am very pleased with the results of clipping at an angle.

The Forbidden Fruit

Like many cigar smokers, you may wonder what the big deal is about Cuban cigars. A friend may have actually gifted you what he thought was a Cuban but was a horrible fake (they exist more than you might think).

With the advent of Nicaraguan tobacco grown in the Estelli region, the finest Cuban tobaccos have some serious competition. The quality difference between the 2007 RTDA and the 2015 IPCPR was amazing. Sure, there were some “misses” in the boutique companies, but these were rare and there were many more quality boutique offerings.

So, back to the question; what makes a Cuban cigar so special. It’s hard to pin down, but there is a certain quality to the flavors that is hard to nail down. And not all Cubans are created equal. A Vegas Robainas Familiar will taste quite different from a Cohiba Robusto, a Ramon Specially Selected and a Partagas Serie D No. 4. And that’s just a list of robustos. You also have Petite Coronas, Tre-petite coronas, Piramids, Churchills, Double coronas, and large selection of Figurados.

If (when) the trade embargo comes down, experiment. You will initially be put off at the cost, but as their competition thrives, their prices will moderate. Also find a good cigar shop. Many will offer reasonable memberships complete with discounts, and for a bonus cost you can rent a locker so as to never find yourself in the shop broke and cigarless.

I hope you are finding these articles interesting. (Hell, who am I kidding, I hope you’re reading them.) I’ve been smoking cigars for about 30 years know and have picked up some valuable information along the way that I would like to share with you, both in this blog and in my reviews published @Cigarweekly, your one stop internet destination for all things cigars, pipes, libations, music, politics and travel. And lots of humor.

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.

Tabaquero by Hamlet (released by Rocky Patel)

Ever since getting to talk to Hamlet Paredes at IPCPR this summer I have been anticipating these hitting the market. I pre-ordered from an online vendor and received them last week. After letting them settle for a bit I had one Saturday night after my son’s wedding.

If you are unfamiliar with Hamlet Paredes, he was the master roller at the Partagas factory in Havana until he defected to the US 11 months ago and went to work for Rocky Patel in Florida. His custom cigars always had a unique flavor and were much sought after.

When I got to talk to Hamlet at the convention he was very excited to put out a cigar for the American market.

CI describes the cigar this way: Tabaquero comes draped in a San Andres wrapper concealing binders from Brazil and Mexico, and Nicaraguan long-filler. Medium-bodied, and containing Cuban-esque richness, flavors abound including spice, cocoa, coffee, pepper, earth, and subtle cream.

These are very dark wrappered cigars with good smooth construction. Firm, but not too, to the touch, with nice aromas of well aged tobacco from the wrapper and the foot. Cut very cleanly with a Palio, and the pre-light draw was easy without being loose and had light hints of various flavors including tobacco and spice.

First draw was a bit strong, but mellowed quickly to a nice blend of tobacco, spices with undertones of cocoa and earth. The ash was nice and firm.

At about the half-way point a distinctive undertone of pepper starts to build.

The excellent construction of this cigar allowed for the smoke to stay cool and pleasant, which allowed a creaminess to develop.

Clean finish with no harshness.

Cigar burned razor sharp with no touch-ups required at all.

More smoke that you might expect from a corona. It smoked very much like a Habano and was easy to smoke down to the nub.

I cannot in good faith compare these to Hamlet’s creation with Cuban tobacco; however, given the wide variety of leaves he had to choose from, he did an excellent job with the blend, binder and wrapper to create a most enjoyable cigar. I am definitely looking forward to smoking more of these in different sizes to see how well the filler competes with the wrapper, as a corona’s flavor is generally dominated by the wrapper.

Construction – 5

Burn – 5

Quality of flavors – 5

Overall impression – 5

5/5 Stellar cigar from one of the best in the business. Joe Bob says check it out.

ST Cigars Unlimited Mardi Gras Lancero

Designed to go with a single malt, this cigar still paired nicely with a Porter.

Clean cut, even pre-light draw.

Mild-to medium flavors, medium grey ash that was a bit loose, but with a clean burn throughout.

Draw slowed as cigar progressed, as one would expect from most lanceros, went out about half way down and continued to have some burn problems throughout.

Primarily a one-dimensional cigar, but with nice flavor notes throughout. Not the best pairing with a porter beer, went better with rum.

Overall a very nice smoke for the mild-to-mid smoker and I would give it a solid 3-1/2 of 5 on the cigar weekly scale.

Probably would have been better with the aforementioned single-malt than the porter I was drinking that night.

Still, a solid cigar. Joe Bob says check it out.

ST Cigars Unlimited Mardi Gras Lancero

Designed to go with a single malt, this cigar still paired nicely with a Porter.

Clean cut, even pre-light draw.

Mild-to medium flavors, medium grey ash that was a bit loose, but with a clean burn throughout.

Draw slowed as cigar progressed, as one would expect from most lanceros, went out about half way down and continued to have some burn problems throughout.

Primarily a one-dimensional cigar, but with nice flavor notes throughout. Not the best pairing with a porter beer, went better with rum.

Overall a very nice smoke for the mild-to-mid smoker and I would give it a solid 3-1/2 of 5 on the cigar weekly scale.

Probably would have been better with the aforementioned single-malt than the porter I was drinking that night.

Still, a solid cigar. Joe Bob says check it out.

Regular guy, honest reviews