Archive for November, 2009

A Smoky Stream of Consciousness

Monday, November 30th, 2009

It’s human nature that the more someone tells a man not do something that he’ll do it even more. And the more someone tries to take away something from you, you want it – crave it even more.

350711_f260Cigar smoking. It’s one of the most enjoyable pastimes I have ever experienced in my life. Yeah, yeah, they say it’s not good for you – who ever the hell “they” might be. But please tell me what exactly is good for you? Okay, spinach is good for you…right? Popeye kicked some serious Blutonian ass when he ate his spinach. It’s a dark green veggie loaded with vitamins and cancer fighting antioxidants. But did you know that spinach is highly acidic and throws off the ph balance of acid and alkaline in your body? So guess what? Too much spinach is no good for you. How’s that, Dr. Ozfest? You need to eat spinach in moderation.

popeye-spinachOkay, before I lose you, let’s get back to the fact that nothing is then really good for you. Definitely too much of something is never good. Anything taken to excess isn’t wise. Moderation has always been prudent. So how about smoking cigars in moderation? Yeah, yeah, risk of disease, yada, yada, yada. Breathe city air or drink the water and the list of fatal contaminants dwarfs that of the impurities in a cigar. Damn, I mean a cigar is a natural grown product with no chemical additives. And they smell damned nice, don’t they? Okay, don’t ask my wife that.

I have read over and over that many physicians feel that the relaxation that the act of smoking brings a person, far outweighs the possible physical dangers, when done in moderation. I believe that. But the question is: What is moderation? All right…there’s no scientific data or concrete evidence, but I do know that Sigmund Freud, Thomas Edison, JP Morgan, Milton Berle, Groucho Marx, George Burns, Rudyard Kipling, and Winston Churchill smoked between ten to twenty cigars a day, and all of those dudes lived to be very old sons of bitches. Yeah, they must have stunk like a garbage fire, but they all lived to ripe old ages and had very productive lives might I add.

churchill_cigarI love cigar smoking and chances are that if you’re reading this, then you have fallen in love with it too. Kipling’s poem The Betrothed is about him choosing between his precious Habanas and the women he so loved. It was no contest, as the smokes from the Isle de Cuba won, hands down. In all my years I have never seen such passion as the unmitigated love that the cigar smoker has for his tobacco happy sticks. And this is why we are defiant to those who want to limit us, tax us, and take away the adult pleasure that we have fallen head over heels for. This is why we get all pissy when the smoke Nazis raise their evil “I know what’s best for you” heads. We don’t like to be “told” not to do something that we love, and god damn you if you dare try to take it away.

elin-nordegren tiger  woods wife picture[2]What’s my point in all of this? Well, it’s kind of an interesting post today as I had no clue of what to write and did the “stream of consciousness” thing. I literally just put my hands in front of the keyboard and let the fingers fly. I actually wanted to talk about that daredevil driving, Tiger Woods. When I heard that his mishap was not alcohol related, I told my wife that the only other possible thing that could cause the dude to act with such bizarre and erratic behavior, is that he had to get in a fight with his hot blonde Swedish honey. And of course, now the rumors are flying about Woods and another woman. Just goes to prove that no matter how gorgeous a woman might Nordegrenbe, a guy always wants to tap something else. Remember, don’t tell a man he can’t have something. So then I ask, wouldn’t a little extra curricular nookie – in moderation – be good for a guy? Hey, I won’t argue… but what would one consider moderation?

Okay, I just opened up a can of worms, Pandora’s Box, and stirred a big pile of Shinola all in one fell swoop. I think the lesson in all of this is: Don’t f@#k with my cigars. I’m damned serious. They’re better than sex for many of us and have replaced that one-time physical activity in our lives. Kipling had it right. And I think Tiger’s onto something. All right, it’s a small spinach salad for me with a Honduran appetizer and a Nicaraguan maduro for dessert. Although I do admit the Swedish meatballs sound pretty inviting.

What in the hell did I just write? Don’t ask. Just shut up and light your cigar.

Tommy Z.

JR CIGARS Blog With the ZMan

CAO Escaparate Costa Rica

Monday, November 30th, 2009

While browsing the incredible selection at The Corona Cigar Company in Orlando, I ran across the cigar being reviewed today. You can only find this cigar at Corona, either online or at their retail stores. The Escaparate blends are from CAO that will never see regular production. They claim these prototypes contain rare tobaccos that simply can’t be mass produced. Tim Ozgener released some of these blends to Corona Cigar Company exclusively as a result. Now that those details are out of the way, read on and see what I thought of the CAO Escaparate Costa Rica.

Wrapper: Coata Rican Maduro

Binder: Ecuador

Filler: Nicaraguan

Size: 5.5 x 42

Price: $7.00

Pre-smoke & Construction:

Squeezing the cigars  revealed one or two small soft spots that were too small to be of concern. The wrapper looked nice overall, and had a simple woody smell. Sniffing the foot revealed the same woody odor with a slight spice. The pre-light draw was good, and had a sweet, woody taste.

The burn required no corrections. The ash was a little flakey and held for a little under an inch.

1CAO Costa Rica


The first third began with simple earthy flavors. I could pick up woody notes and spice when passing the smoke through the nose. The spice had a peppery feel to it but didn’t have a lot of punch.

2CAO Costa Rica

The second third had a slight increase sweet peppery spice. The woody flavors were pretty dry and left me craving water. The earthy flavors dipped way back and coffee took its place.

3CAO Costa Rica

The last third again had a dominant dry woody flavor. Next up was a sweet pepper, and a mild sweet coffee entered the picture. It reminded me of coffee with a little sugar and cream.

4CAO Costa Rica


Rarely does an advertisers description of flavors hold true. This time around, I did get all of the flavors Corona claimed I would get. It wasn’t exact, but it was close. The body stayed in the medium range and never got harsh. My complaints were the excessive dryness of the smoke. Although the flavors were not bad, it overall seemed unrefined and flat. For $7.00 I think you can get a cigar with much more bang for the buck. It was an OK cigar.

Alec Bradley Vice Press

Sunday, November 29th, 2009



Wrapper: Nicaragua

Binder: Costa Rica

Filler: Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico

Size: 5 x 64

Price: Around $7.00


Pre-smoke & Construction:

The wrapper had virtually no flaws, and only a couple medium veins. The smell coming from the wrapper and foot reminded me of a barn complete with a tinge of poo. The pre-light draw was free, almost too free, and had a flavor that reminded me of the pre-light draw. An earthy, barn type of aroma. When I squeezed the cigars entire length, it wasn’t firm, but wasn’t spongy either. A few soft spots were noticed, but nothing I would see as a concern.




Friday, November 27th, 2009

The LegendArio is a brand of Camacho. I’d never heard of this cigar until browsing the humidor over at Tampa Humidor one day. There really isn’t anything more to be said about this cigar, so off to the review we go…


Wrapper: Honduras

Binder/filler: Honduras

Size: Toro 6 x 50

Price: Around $5.00


Pre-Smoke & Construction:

The dark wrapper had medium sized veins, but looked good. Squeezing the cigar revealed a soft spot or  two, but nothing of concern. The wrapper had a sweet woody smell, while the foot had a much milder odor of the same. The pre-light draw almost had no taste, just a sweet tobacco.

I had to do a few major burn corrections in the first two thirds. The ash held strong for just over an inch.



The first third opened with earthy notes. I detected a sweet spice when retro-haling. This concludes the flavor profile of the first third.


The second third had a sweet spice to it. An earthy and woody flavor filled the rest of the flavor profile.


The last third was the reason I didn’t call it quits on this review. The sweet spice became substantially richer in texture. It bordered on mocha. The smoke itself became thicker and coated the mouth nicely. Right behind that was the woody/earthy notes I mentioned in the previous thirds.



Overall this was an OK medium bodied cigar. Like I said, the last third was the best part. The first two thirds really did nothing for me. The flavors just lacked body and seemed thin and boring. I probably won’t be picking any more of these up, but I’d smoke one for free.

Seeing Is Believing (In the Big Smoke)

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009
My first Big Smoke came in New York in 1997, when I started at Cigar Aficionado, and it blew me away with the great smokes, drinks and food. But mostly it was the fun and camaraderie of the guests that struck me. Here were all these stogie fans having a great time celebrating their passion for smoke and knowing they were with like-minded people.

El Baton

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

The Ed & Tom Show returns to The Stogie Review for our monthly appearance. Ed and I give our thoughts on the El Baton by J.C. Newman.

This video runs for about 23 minutes.

MP3 Audio

Where There’s Smoke, There’s a Wonderful Fire

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

It’s hard to explain, but there is something incredibly primordial about making a fire. The ritual dates back to the dawn of man and even though the Cromagnons didn’t have chiminea’s and Duraflame starter logs, not a whole lot has really changed over the course of a million years.

firepitLast night I was called by the wild to start a fire in the small metal pit I have on my back patio. There are woods 30 feet from the side of my house so finding adequate firewood takes all of five minutes. My 14 year-old son officially has his man card, and loves to trudge through the foliage and find logs and kindling for the blaze. And damn, he loves starting the fire as well. I’m pretty sure I was exactly the same at his age, except we didn’t have laser lighters back then. I think all men are really pyromaniacs at heart.

frankllanezaI taught my little dude (who is my height already) how to build a pyramid with the smaller sticks and I have him trained well as I can’t even get near the thing, now. So as he began to stoke up the flames, I cracked open a bottle of Balvenie Double Wood and of course you knew that it was accompanied by a great cigar. And great this stogie was, the new Frank Llaneza 1961. Guys… I kid you not… this cigar is spectacular. The Sumatra wrapper is a dark chocolate brown, oily and supple, and the construction is flawless. Definitely a woody and cedary smoke that I’d say is in the medium bodied range, but builds as you smoke the bastid. Just so delicious and enjoyable.

IMG_0480Let me ask, what in the name of our maker is more relaxing than sitting in front of a roaring blaze with a good drink, a great cigar and the kid that you love with all of your heart? As I sat there staring into the darting, colorful flames, I had one of those feelings come over me where I was thankful for all I had and so glad to be alive. As I sat back in my chair, my kid would poke the burning wood with amazing intent. Every few minutes he’d turn his head back to get my nod of approval, as I would just grunt like a cave creature and motion with my hand to go get more wood. He’d run into the woods, come out with a new batch a few minutes later and continue to tend to his creation.

fire-pit-barbecue-woodBut like all kids his age, the text messages were coming in at rapid pace and it was time to leave dad alone to finish off his cigar as the once roaring blaze dwindled into a magical pile of glowing red embers. What a solemn feeling and so wonderfully mesmerizing to stare at and if I could just go to sleep right there without freezing to death, I certainly would.

You know, I don’t do that enough, and the time is now, up here in North Jersey, before it gets too damned cold. Damn… I believe tonight is another fine time for a fire. Who’s coming over to join me?

Have a great week, my peeps and smoke ‘em cuz ya gottem.

Tommy Z.

JR Cigars Blog With the Zman

Canimao Contest Winner!

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Box2The Canimao giveaway was a great success. Sunday night I drew a random winner and I have already emailed him for his contact info.


Lee Elderton, you are the winner of the box of Canimao Robusto Extra signed by Mel Gonzalez! I appreciate everyone who stopped by the site and entered this great contest. I am jealous of you Lee. I would like to keep the box for myself.


This contest would not have been possible if it weren’t for Mel Gonzalez, president and CEO of Canimao Cigars. He generously donated and signed the winning prize. Mel, thanks!




For the time being, there are no contests scheduled. But some possibilities are brewing and I hope to put something together in early 2010. Stay tuned!

601 Serie black

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Those of you who follow this site probably read my reviews of other 601 cigars. So far I’ve enjoyed them. They are blended by Don Pepin Garcia for United Tobacco. For me, a typical Pepin blend punches you in the face to start, and then calms to what the cigar will become. As always, I smoked a couple of these with water and wrote my thoughts on the 601 black label.


Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut

Binder: Nicaragua

Filler: Nicaragua

Size: Robusto 5 x 50

Price: Around $6.00


Pre-smoke & Construction:

The wrapper didn’t quite look like a typical Connecticut, and had a strange hue to the color. It was a little bumpy with medium veins. I picked up woody, earthy, and spicy notes when sniffing the wrapper. The cigar was consistently packed, and a little on the soft side. The draw was perfect, and had an interesting taste of spice, wood, and possibly leather or earth. It was a dark and dense flavor if that makes sense.

I didn’t do any burn corrections, and the ash held on for just over an inch.



The first third… Just as I suspected, I was greeted with a nice blast of pepper. It wasn’t a harsh or intense pepper, just a smooth and somewhat strong. Enough to grab your attention. Next in line was a woody flavor that was undeniable.


As I got into the second third, that full peppery sensation turned into more of a sweet spice. The smoke feel became thick and creamy. This led to a slight earthy and cedary aftertaste. The combination of these basic flavors were somehow unique and interesting.


The last third didn’t offer too much change. Most notably was an interesting earthy flavor that bordered on leather. The sweet spice remained along with the thick, creamy smoke feel. The woody component remained as well. Like I said, not a lot of change, but still enjoyable.



This was a good medium to full bodied cigar. I could see some people being turned off if they were expecting a mild cigar which is common to most Connecticut wrapped cigars. For me that wasn’t the case, and I really enjoyed the experience. Pick some up!

Rocky Patel Autumn Collection 2009

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

The latest addition to Rocky’s seasonal blends is the Autumn Collection. So far I’ve enjoyed them all, except for the Summer Collection from 2008. I think overall, the seasonal blends are a success. Considering I’m such a Rocky Patel fanboi, I had to pick up a few of these to review. You know my routine by now… Glass of water and a cigar. On to the review!


Wrapper: Colorado Maduro

Binder: Nicaragua

Filler: Nicaragua

Size: 6 x 52

Price: Around $7.00


Pre-Smoke & Construction:

Construction on this cigar looked great. There were only a few smaller veins and one larger size. The tobacco was firmly packed, giving the cigar a hard feel. The wrapper and foot had a sweet, earthy, spicy smell. The pre-light draw was a little stiff, and had sweet tastes of earth and wood.



The first third – I was greeted with an earthy, rich soil type of flavor. There was a slight peppery spice when exhaling through the nose. It had a heating effect in the nose, if that makes sense. I started to detect a slight woodiness as the first third came to a close.


The second third saw a reduction in the earthy flavors, and that seemed to allowed woody flavors to become more noticeable. The pepper went down a notch as well, and became more of a sweet spice. The heating effect in the sinus remained. Hints of mocha would come and go, and made things a bit more enjoyable.


The last third continued with the sweet spice, and it left a tingle on the lips. It was similar to cinnamon on the aftertaste. The earthy notes would come and the woody flavors varied in strength. Subtle mocha flavors came and went as well. With about an inch to go, I had to put this cigar down. It wasn’t due to it being bad, I was just pressed for time. I can assure you this cigar is worth nubbing.



This was a very nice medium to full bodied cigar. The change in flavors kept my attention to this slow burner. It was enough to distract me from the draw, which was a tad too tight. I have to give the Autumn Collection 2009 a thumbs up. Try them while you can.

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