Archive for December, 2009

Christmas Past

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009
You might think that I am slightly old fashioned at times but I think that a photo is worth a thousand words in some cases. Please check out my photo of my Christmas Eve smoke while staying at my father¹s house in North County San Diego. Granted, it was not as cold as it was in Europe (about 25 Fahrenheit at my house in Tuscany), but it was cold enough to be wearing a thick coat while smoking my Padrón Anniversary 1964 outside on his terrace.

Rocky Patel Nicarao

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

The only reason I knew this was a Rocky Patel was because of a label in the shop humidor. From what I could gather, the Nicarao brand was bought out by Rocky Patel. At one time these cigars were made in Nicaragua, but are now rolled in Honduras. Enough meaningless babble that no one cares about… I paired with water and bring to you my thoughts of the Rocky Patel Nicarao.


Wrapper: Nicaraguan

Binder/Filler: Nicaraguan

Size: Robusto 5 x 50

Price: 4 – $5.00


Pre-smoke & Construction:

This cigar had a nice looking wrapper with no visible flaws and minimal veins. The smell of the wrapper reminded me of a barn and the poo smell that comes with it. The foot had a more mild earthy and peppery smell. The pre-light draw was perfect, and had a simple earthy/tobacco taste.

The burn required no corrections, and any waviness straightened itself out quickly. The ash was firm, holding on for over an inch.



The first third began with a peppery and earthy punch. The volume of smoke was plentiful and enjoyable. The punch of pepper started to calm down as time passed. The core taste was a smooth earthiness. Behind that was an unidentified sweet flavor.


The second third opened up a little, and the body crept further up into the medium range. The earthy flavors switched places with the sweet flavors. The peppery zing persisted when passing the smoke through the sinus. I started to detect a grassy flavor that was so faint that I really had to pay attention or I’d miss it.


The last third crept into the full bodied range. This was was the most enjoyable part of the cigar for me. The sweet flavors would become mocha-ish, and revert to something I couldn’t identify. Again, the earthy flavor was there, but it remained in the background. That strange but good grassy flavor continued to make an appearance every now and then. To wrap things up, that common Nicaraguan pepper took on a small kick. I like…



I wasn’t wowed by this cigar, but I did enjoy it. It had no bad qualities, and it helped me really unwind after a long day of work. The simple flavor profile was good and did challenge me from time to time. Any Rocky Patel fan should give it a try.

Cigars & the End of a Decade

Monday, December 28th, 2009

mayancalanderinsidepicture1The decade comes to a close as the Mayan Calendar tells us we only have 2 more years to live. That’s just a peachy thought. I bet right about now, Tiger Woods doesn’t think that’ll come fast enough. I’ve talked many times on this blog how time flies by… but ain’t it the truth? I remember very vividly sitting on my friends couch, counting down with Dick Clark as we entered the new millennium. I blinked my eyes and then ten years has blown by and my 4 and 8 years-olds are now in high school and college.

smoking_nazisI’m not going to do some memory lane thing because over the course of a decade – even in just a year, way too much has happened. So since this is a blog that resides on a cigar website, I figured I’d focus on the cigar – the one thing that stays constant and withstands the test of time. Sure it costs more than it used to and the fascist anti-smoke Nazi’s are hammering harder than ever at the industry’s thinly worn armor, but the cigar itself truly remains the same. It’s is a piece of artwork, a thing of beauty, completely unpretentious and exists only to do the thing it was born to do – bring an hour or so of pleasure to the person on the receiving end of its smoky existence.

HumidorThe decade didn’t start with a boom – in fact, it started with the end of a boom… the cigar boom of the 1990’s. The hoopla had finally died down and the charlatans and knuckleheads went back to selling insurance or whatever the hell they did before calling them selves “cigar experts” as their brand, the proverbial “Don Nobody” disappeared into the oblivion from which it came. All of those next great brands rolled by supposed authentic Cuban torcedors, ended up as bundled specials in the famed JR catalog for ten cents on a dollar. Who can forget everybody’s favorite Filipino brand of the boom, Fighting Cock? Little did the creators of the ill-fated brand realize that the name lost a whole lot in the translation. I so much wanted to be in charge of their marketing… “Say Smoker – Have you put one between your lips, today?”

1I started writing for Cigar Magazine in 2004, in their second issue. The article was a 5,000 word epic entitled: The Cuban Mystique and it took me a month to research and then write. There are many incredibly cool things about writing for CM, as you might imagine. Of course, the very first is hanging with Lew Rothman, which is one hell of an experience. I have never met a more straight forward person in my life – a guy who would tell the Pope to STFU if he was talking during a movie. I have gained an incredible amount of cigar knowledge from the man, the kind of stuff you could never learn in a book, the web, or a magazine. The guy took me to the DR and Honduras for a week and as James Earl Jones said in Field of Dreams, “The memories are so thick, I’d need a brush to wipe them ChristianEiroa_300from my face.”

Then there’s the industry people I’ve met, interviewed, and befriended – Christian Eiroa and Dylan Austin of Camacho, Bobby and Eric Newman of JC Newman Cigars, and not a finer gentleman in this world than former General Cigar CEO, Daniel Nunez (who I hung with as well on my Honduras and DR excursion.)

I started this here bloggy in October of 2007 and have fraternized with all of you. Writing this thing once a day, five days a week was an unbelievable challenge and I can’t believe I was able to come up with something every single day. Not sure how the bloody hell I did it.

cover2Last year I got to go to the Cigar Show in Vegas, the former RTDA Show, now the ICPCR. That was a hell of an experience, meeting tasting, talking, and comparing. Going home with about 200 premium sticks was a wonderful thing, for sure.

But now we’re all aware that the cigar industry is in the fight of its life as legislators and Smoke Nazis look to put an end to out happy time. Between that and the smoldering taxes, the pastime we love is in serious trouble, my amigos. I just found out that the famed Villazon Factory that I spent three days at in Cofradia, Honduras has shut down all operations and moved it’s product six hours away in Danli. I met every worker in that facility and those hard working, dedicated people are all out of jobs. And of course our legislators don’t give a rat’s ash, as long as they retain votes and public favor by riding the PC wagon.

Who knows what the next decade brings for those of us who light the leaf. With the FDA in charge of tobacco, this just might get brutally ugly like it is in Canada and parts of Europe. We CAN NOT let that happen, my brothers. This is the land of the FREE and we can never forget that. It’s hard to even comprehend that a man can be shipped to a foreign desert to defend our freedom, but he soon may not have the freedom to smoke the cigar that he loves.

Thanx for all the support from the readers of the Blog and I really do hope those Mayans were stoned out of their fucking minds when they created that calendar. Oh yeah… my birthday is Wednesday December 30th, so wish me a happy, happy!

Til we meet again in 2010!

Tommy Z,

JR CIGARS Blog With the Zman

God Of Fire By Don Carlos 2005

Friday, December 25th, 2009

First things first… I need to mention this is the only God of Fire I have smoked. I try to smoke at least two or three cigars before doing a review. The exception here is that considering the God of Fire lines are essentially from Fuente, I am confident that there is consistency between cigars. On top of that, this thing costs $19.00. is on a budget.  If I am off base call me out.

Apparently the God of Fire lines are released annually and in limited quantities. They come in 3 sizes and two blends. One is by Don Carlos, the other by Carlito Fuente. For whatever reason, I picked up the Don Carlos version awhile back and let it sit in my humidor for a few months. Let’s see what the God of Fire has to offer…


Wrapper: Ecuadorian

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler: Nicaraguan

Size: 5.2 x 50

Price: Around $19.00


Pre-smoke & Construction:

Overall the wrapper looked nice, with small veins and some discoloration. Under the band I noticed a small tear in the wrapper leaf, but it appeared to be only cosmetic. When I sniffed the wrapper and foot, I got a familiar earthy, barn type of odor. the pre-light draw was perfect, and had a sweet natural tobacco taste. The cigar was packed consistently with no hard or soft spots.

The ash held for a little over an inch, and the burn required no corrections.



The first third didn’t really have a warm up time like many cigars do. I was immediately hit with peppery spice. It was smooth, but if you are a novice, it may be a little much. As for me, I enjoyed the peppery kick. It didn’t take long before a sweet woody flavor appeared and that summed up the first third.


The sweet spice remained throughout the second third, but a lot of the punch went away. Woody/cedar flavors took the lead. Very slight nutty notes were way in the back ground. The smoke feel became thicker and coated the mouth. A creaminess enveloped the entire flavor profile as I progressed through this third. Although I can’t accurately describe the aftertaste, I can only say it was good and lingered for a minute or so.


As the last third started, I noticed the volume of smoke increased. With that, earthy notes lingered behind woody flavors. The peppery spice picked up slightly in strength and the sweetness reduced a  bit. It remained very smooth but kept a good punch. Some draws were very creamy, others were not.




This was a damn good full bodied cigar. My only complaint is the price. I can’t justify spending $19.00 on a robusto. Price aside, the flavors were very good. The entire flavor profile was refined and smooth. If these were much cheaper, I would definitely smoke more. If you have the money to drop on the God of Fire, I say try it.

A Christmas Tale

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009
I am ready for Christmas. I thought that I should leave a nice Cuban smoke for Father Christmas when he comes down the chimney on the 25th in San Diego instead of the normal milk and cookies, which my dear parents taught me to do at a very early age. I admit that the milk and cookies were changed to a good glass of vintage Port about two decades ago while living in London.

CAO La Traviata

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Today’s review is a fairly new line from CAO. From what I can tell, the target audience is regular people who don’t have a ton of money to blow on cigars. I was immediately drawn to this cigar after seeing it in Ed’s cigar shop. Once again, I filled my glass with water, smoked, and bring you my thoughts on the CAO La Traviata.


Wrapper: Ecuador

Binder: Cameroon

Filler: Nicaragua, Dominican Republic

Size: Divino 5 x 50

Price: Around $4 to $5.00


Pre-Smoke & Construction:

The first thing that struck me about this cigar was the oily wrapper. It had a sheen to it that made it look delicious. I couldn’t find any major flaws at all, just normal small to medium sized veins here and there. The foot had a sweet, almost pipe tobacco type of smell. The wrapper shared the sweet pipe tobacco-ish smells with added cedar notes. The pre-light draw was a little stiff, and had sweet spicy notes complimented with cedar.

The ash held for about one inch, and I did no burn corrections.



The first third greeted me with smooth earthy and sweet cedar flavors. When exhaling through the sinus there was a sweet spice that wasn’t too strong.


The second third began with the spice mellowing out quite a bit. It was still present but only with a slight kick. At around half way in, a very nice nutty flavor combined with coffee came about. I can’t think of any other way to describe it other then saying it was very nice. Woody and earthy notes lurked in the back ground. As this third came to a close, the smoke started to coat the inside of the mouth.


The last third crept into the full bodied range. The peppery spice increased in strength a bit but I wouldn’t say it was strong. For experimental purposes, I exhaled an entire draw through the nose. It did punch me in the face a little, but I recovered quickly with no real pain. Woody cedary notes mixed with nuts and coffee for an interesting blend. The earthy flavors went away completely.



This cigar is a winner for CAO. It is affordable and you easily get your moneys worth. If I had to pick a flaw, it would be the snug draw. But even that bothered me less and less as I smoked. This is my go to stick many times when I walk into a cigar shop. I suggest you give it a try!

A Scotch Master Looks Back

Monday, December 21st, 2009
What to call John Ramsay? His title is master blender. But given that that is a pretty common spirits-industry term defining a person who oversees blending, perhaps for Ramsay we need something more. It may seem redundant, but how about master master blender? You see, John, who is now retiring from Scotland's Edrington Group after 43 years in the industry, is the genius behind the Glenrothes Vintage program as well as being the master blender of such prestige blends as Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark and one of the malt masters of The Macallan and Highland Park.

Your Very Own Personal Holiday Hell

Monday, December 21st, 2009

6tad0t0“Hey dad, you’re making me sad,” my eighteen year-old, love of my life daughter said to me, yesterday. She’s home for the one month college winter break and has been feeling incredibly festive – baking cookies, singing carols, and watching her favorite Christmas movie, Elf, over and over and over.

Bottom line: she wanted to know why I hate Christmas. “How can anybody HATE Christmas?” she demanded to know from me.

“Honey, I don’t hate Christmas and I love the holiday season…really.”

The Grinch-like lie fooled the child, as I got her a drink, patted her on the head and sent her to bed.

LEXUS-LS-460bowI’ve talked about this openly for the last couple of years – about the debacle that this debt-inducing holiday has become. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ – not a celebration of $60,000 cars with giant red bows on them. Every time the wife tells the husband how much he loves him because he got her a Lexus, makes me want to hurl my morning Corn Flakes. Every time the two pretentious bitches get all loopey because “HE” went to Jared, I want to hit something with a bat. Every time I hear that “every kiss begins with Kay”, the response is always the same: KISS THIS!

grinchThey say that retailers rely on their sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas, typically doing half of their year’s business during that one-month period. But guess what? That’s not my friggin problem. I have to pay my mortgage and the brutally outrageous property taxes to enjoy life here in Jersey. Like most Americans, I’m in debt up to my colon and it is a very shitty feeling.

“Dad, I want a 16 gig Ipod Nano… Dad, I want to kill people in the realistic World War 2 war game… Dad, I want, I want, I want….”


There is no doubt that getting older turns you into one slimey green, mother f@#king Grinch. There’s a reason that bastid hated all the Who’s down in Whoville – because their wild and carefree spending was driving the local Who economy into a recession. The First National Who Bank went belly up after giving loans for Pimplookas and Tatinkas that couldn’t be repaid. Who Motors took a hit and put a shit load of blue and orange people in the poor house. Now no one has even a goddamned nickel to buy a can of Who hash, and the corner market is stuck with 500 pounds of rotting roast beast.

The magic of Christmas was tremendous when I was my kid’s age. Movies like A Christmas Story, Rudolph, and It’s a Wonderful Life brought me such joy. But Grinches don’t care for that sort of fluffy mush any longer. Grinches know their wife would love the Lexus with the bow, but he wonders how he’s going to afford four new tires on the Sebring with the bald tires. And when those commercials air, the intention is to make us all feel like chumps and lousy providers. And of course, my wife always let’s out a “yeah right” when that asshole went to Jared.

“And so this is Christmas and what have you done?” Hey John Lennon, STFU already. I put food on my family’s table and keep the friggin mortgage company off my back by some miracle of God… and THAT’s what I’ve done. I don’t need some deceased Beatle busting my balls any longer. Capiche?

cigar-giftSo, ho, ho, ho and all that good shit from the Zman. Make sure to pick out some cigars that will bring joy to all the little herfers in your life – including yourself. Eat lots of fattening shit and send your cholesterol level into orbit. And if you’ve got loving kids like mine, fake it the best you can and get to January first.

All kidding aside, be healthy, safe, and go for the merry. It can’t hurt.

Curmudgeonly yours,

Tommy Zman

JR CIGARS Blog with the Zman

Reader Question: Where The Hell Is Ed?

Sunday, December 20th, 2009


The holidays have taken their toll on December episode of The Ed & Tom Show. We anticipated that this may happen, and did a “Quick Smoke” video earlier this month to at least get one review in December. Check it out here if you haven’t seen it yet.

Fear not… Ed will be back on The Stogie Review, and here, by early January 2010 for the usual full length review. I have no idea what we will be reviewing, but I’m sure Ed has something in mind. Until then, you’ll just have to read my mindless write-ups.

Speaking of Ed… He is phasing out the “Pipe” in St. Pete Pipe & Cigars. Hence his website is now

Benchmade by Ashton

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Once again, I found myself checking out another cheap cigar while browsing a local shop. The Benchmade is a brand of Ashton, and is blended by Jose Pepin Garcia. What drew me to it was the price, and the fact that it is a Nicaraguan puro from Ashton. I figured for two bucks, grabbing a couple to review couldn’t hurt. I filled up my glass of water and bring you my thoughts…


Wrapper: Nicaragua

Binder & Filler: Nicaragua

Size: Robusto 5 x 50

Price: Around $2.50


Pre-Smoke & Construction:

Giving the cigar the old once over, I found it to be visually appealing. The dark brown wrapper had some small veins, but otherwise no mentionable flaws. Pinching the cigar revealed a soft spot or two, but nothing of concern. The wrapper had an earthy. grassy odor. The foot almost had no smell at all, other then a very slight pepper. The pre-light draw was free, and had a sweet natural tobacco taste.

The burn required no corrections, and the flakey ash held for about a half of an inch.



Peppery spice greeted me in the first third. Beneath the spice were woody and earthy notes. I couldn’t pull any other flavors at this point.


The second third increased in strength slightly. The woody flavors took on a sweet tinge, while the earthy flavors fell further into the background. That peppery zing remained.


The smoke feel in the last third became thick and a little creamy. When passing through the nose, the pepper was still present. If anything, the pepper was the dominant flavor. It mingled with the woody flavor for an overall enjoyable smoke.



The Benchmade is a decent medium bodied cigar. As I often say about bundle or value cigars, a cheaper price often means a less complex flavor profile. This is the case with the Benchmade. It wasn’t bad by any means. You easily get what you pay for. I say give it a try, and see if it is for you.

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