Archive for November, 2010

Of Cigars & Christmas Tree Shopping

Monday, November 29th, 2010

My gut is officially swollen to full-blown holiday standards as Thanksgiving proved again to be a day where blatant overeating is mandatory and the Detroit Lions losing their Turkey bout is inevitable.

Today we endure Cyber-Monday, coming freshly off Black Friday, as the 2010 Christmas rush has landed. I’m sure I speak for Christians everywhere when I say, “I AM NOT READY FOR FRIGGIN SANTA YET!” Holy crap, can we just slow things down a little. Within days we will be bombarded with reminders that “He went to Jared” and that every kiss begins with Kay. And of course that mother f@#king Lexus will be in everyone’s driveways with giant bows on top. I AM NOT READY FOR THIS!!!

ChristmasTreeLot_1Our family has always followed the tradition of having a live Christmas tree in the house, and we always wait until the following weekend after Thanksgiving to pick one out. But for some reason my wife grew a bug up her keester and wanted me to get one THIS past weekend. “But it’s not even December yet,” I cried on deafened holiday ears.

national_lampoon_clark_and_tree“Get a tall thin one this year. Last year’s was too fat!” she reminded me 30 different times as I set out into the 28 degree, blustery afternoon to do my yearly manly call of duty. I can’t even remember what I ate for breakfast, for crissakes, and she remembers what the shape of our Christmas tree was a year ago? (Women certainly have the most bizarre and uncanny bouts of selective memory.)  I guess it’s not a bad deal we have – I do the hunter’s role and go out to bag the pine while the wife and daughter decorate the needley beast. Damn, somewhere over the last few years I’ve even managed to weasel out of hanging the lights – not sure how that happened, but rest assured that next weekend I’ll be risking life and limb as I dangle from a ladder on the roof of the house doing my Clark Griswold impersonation.

So it’s off to Jimmy’s Lawn & Garden where I always find a really nice tree – no matter what the wife says. As I pull the car into the lot, the fire pit is roaring and there’s an exceptionally huge selection of various types of forest pines – maybe because it’s not even December yet – ya think? I’m the only one in the whole lot so I’ve got my pick of the litter, but it’s windy, freezing, and flurrying as I join the workers in gathering around the blaze they’ve got going.

car_tree“The only thing missing is a belt of scotch and a good cigar,” I say to the guys as they hop up and down around the fire. “Any of you gents happen to smoke cigars?”

One college age dude says, “Oh yeah, I love cigars, we smoke ‘em while playing poker at school.”

Okay, I may sound like a major league snob, but you KNOW that this newbie smokes pineapple flavored White Owls or some other unearthly swill that a frat boy can only afford. But being the always prepared Polish boy scout that I am, of course I have a couple of premium handrolled sticks of goodness in the car, just begging to be smoked around a fire pit in a Christmas tree lot! So I break out the goodies – a couple of the new Punch Uppercut toros – and my new buddy and I light ‘em up and yak for a good hour! And yes, I made sure the dude was of age – a senior at a local school.

“Oh my God, this is amazing,” he says as he exhales a billowing puff of smoldering tobacco goodness. “I’ve never had a cigar like this!”

charliebrowntreeOf course, I knew that was the case as my young pal enjoyed the heck out of this leafy treasure. But alas, it was time to pick out a tree as he spent diligent time showing me almost every tree on the lot. After finding the PREFECT specimen, one I KNEW that the wife would love, he cut the bottom, netted that bad boy and affixed it to the top of the Z mobile. Normally I’ll toss these kids a couple of bucks, but instead I gave him the three remaining cigars from my 5-pack and I knew I had made a friend for life!

So, I get home and set the tree up in the stand while the wife is out shopping. The top touches our family room’s 8-foot ceiling as the smell of cold fresh pine wafts throughout the home. “Tis a beauty, Clark, you really outdid yourself this time,” I thought as my wife came in, took one look and said…

“It’s a little too tall and thin.”

Yeah, you have a good week too. The madness has only just begun.



Handmade HON
Wrapper: ECSU    Binder: NIC

Filler: NIC

Medium-Full Bodied

Released in October 2009, the new Punch Uppercut line is bursting with flavor. Handmade in Honduras with an earthy, bold blend of long filler tobaccos and a spicy binder, both grown in Ometepe, Nicaragua, this cigar is perfectly finished with an attractive dark and oily Ecuador Sumatra wrapper. Your palate will be delighted with the rich, deep flavors of tobacco that are accompanied by undertones of coffee, leather and spice, as well as the evenly balanced strength, flavor and aroma from beginning to end. Each cigar has a footband complete with the image of Ometepe and its twin volcanoes.

Tommy Z

JR Cigars Blog With the Zman

Tatuaje “The Face”

Monday, November 29th, 2010

As you’ve probably noticed, there has been a lack of new video cigar reviews around here lately. To fill that void, Mike and I planned on reviewing this cigar without Ed. Then suddenly, over a period of a couple days, Ed packed up his old shop and moved to his new place complete with a lounge. While it isn’t 100 percent completed, it is ready for use.


This brings us to the cigar up for review today. The Tatuaje “The Face” is a limited Halloween release. Although it is hard to find, they are still out there. Some may think that the marketing is gimmicky and silly, but the cigar delivered and easily met it’s price point of $13.00. I’m glad we got to break in the new lounge reviewing a great smoke with Mike.

This video runs 25 minutes. So join Ed, Mike and I and see what we thought of the Tatueje “The Face.” And don’t forget to visit, who generously donated the cigars for review.

MP3 Audio

La Floridita Limited Edition

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Up for review today is a boutique cigar blended by Nestor Plasencia for the Famous Smoke Shop. The folks at Famous were kind enough to send me a couple to try out and review. Famous’ website touts this as a hearty, flavorful premium cigar. With that in mind, I got my usual glass of water and took some notes.


Wrapper: Mata Fina-Brazil

Binder: Indonesian

Filler: Nicaraguan, Mexican

Size: Magnum 5 x 60

Price: $5.75


Pre-Smoke & Construction:

The darn Brazilian wrapper was virtually flawless, with small veins and no bumps visible. Sniffing the wrapper gave me hints of sweet tobacco, slight earthiness, and perhaps a tinge of wood. The foot smelled similar, but had a mild spicy pepper component. The cigar was solidly and evenly packed, offering no give when squeezed. The pre-light draw was a little snug, but was within my tolerances of being good. The flavor from the pre-light draw was basically a simple dark natural earthy tobacco.

The burn required a few minor corrections, and the ash held for about 1.5 inches.



The first third started off with simple earthy, almost grassy flavors. After about a half of an inch, a smooth peppery spice was noticed when passing smoke through the nose. While it wasn’t bad, things just didn’t seem to meld together as good as they could have.


During the second third, things seemed to come together. The grassy flavors diminished, and the earthiness was a prominent flavor. The woody notes remained in the background. The smoke feel became thicker and had a tinge of sweetness. Otherwise, there really wasn’t any groundbreaking changes. Like I said, things just seemed to come together and blended well. This was much more enjoyable then the first third.


The last third basically remained the same as the second third. The only real difference was in the smoke feel. It became creamier and sweeter. Otherwise, copy my comments from the second third, and paste it here.



This was a decent medium bodied, slow burning cigar. First, the good – The flavors were good, and overall I found it to be a relaxing experience. The price isn’t bad either. The bad – Nothing unique was brought to the table. As my pal Ed would say, it was just another cigar.

Thanks again to Famous Smoke Shop for giving me a chance to try this cigar. If it sounds like something that would appeal to you, look them up at the Famous Smoke Shop website.

The Birth of a Cigar Shop, Part 4

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

Some of you may be growing tired of me gloating over Ed’s new shop. All I can say is too bad, this is a major milestone for my favorite tobacconist, and I am going to document it here on my site.

For the rest of you… It’s been a few days since Part 3 was filmed. A lot of progress has been made since then, but there is still plenty of work for Ed to do. If anything, this little series of videos will show just how much work setting up a great cigar shop is.

Some of you have wondered what the delay has been on Ed and my reviews. This series of videos should answer what the hold up is. On the bright side, Ed is taking some time away from his shop duties to do a review soon. We plan on having a guest who I think is well respected and knowledgeable. Stay tuned for the next week or so as we put that review together.

So sit back and take a few minutes to check out part 4 of The Birth of a Cigar Shop (in amazing HD!).

If you missed the previous installments, they can be found here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

The Birth of a Cigar Shop, Part 4

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

Some of you may be growing tired of me gloating over Ed’s new shop. All I can say is too bad, this is a major milestone for my favorite tobacconist, and I am going to document it here on my site.

For the rest of you… It’s been a few days since Part 3 was filmed. A lot of progress has been made since then, but there is still plenty of work for Ed to do. If anything, this little series of videos will show just how much work setting up a great cigar shop is.

Some of you have wondered what the delay has been on Ed and my reviews. This series of videos should answer what the hold up is. On the bright side, Ed is taking some time away from his shop duties to do a review soon. We plan on having a guest who I think is well respected and knowledgeable. Stay tuned for the next week or so as we put that review together.

So sit back and take a few minutes to check out part 4 of The Birth of a Cigar Shop (in amazing HD!).

If you missed the previous installments, they can be found here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 5

Turkey Day and Great Smokes Cometh

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Okay. The question is: Why the hell is life whizzing by so fast and how the hell can it be Thanksgiving already? Perhaps most importantly, what smokes will I prepare for my day filled with a conglomerate of calories and flying pigskin?

thanksgiving-foodThanksgiving is without question America’s favorite holiday as it is centered on eating until your stomach grows three sizes that day. We stuff our faces for hours on end with a smattering of everything from 27 major food groups, forcing that last hunk of coconut custard pie until we go into Mr. Creosote mode, ala Monty Python style. I find now that I’m getting a little older that I don’t eat as much as I used to because I just physically can’t. That’s not to say I don’t chow down like a psycho, it only means I fill my plate to the rafters three times instead of four, and maybe cut it down to only five different desserts. And now father time plays the cruel joke of giving you acid reflux, where sleeping involves being propped up high on a mountain of pillows so the cornucopia you just devoured doesn’t give you a lava scorching hello at 3:30am.

Lucy-van-Pelt-and-Charlie-Brown-football-298x300Unless you’re Charlie Brown, turkey day isn’t stressful like Christmas, New Years, or even birthdays for that matter. It’s kind of effortless to show up at a relative’s house (or stay at your own) eat drink, bullshit, and watch the Detroit Lions lose again. And if you’re a cigar loving madman like yours truly, having a couple of stellar smokes picked out to enjoy with friends and relatives makes it all oh so special. I’ll usually do a couple of gars with my dad, one early afternoon, one after appetizers, and one between dinner and dessert. The ritual definitely helps you to relax from the massive physical effort of shoveling chow and lifting your glass.

imagesThe men in my family are great lovers of football, and now that a third pro game has been added at night, we can annoy the women even longer. The little ones and the uncles will hit the front lawn for a rousing holiday match of two-hand touch, and every year they ask uncle Z to play, but yours truly has a date with his hand rolled happy stick and a double pour of Macallans 12.

A couple of years ago I found the absolute best way to carve up the bird. Pretty simply get a big-ass sharp knife, chop the legs off first, then surgically remove the breast off of the turkey from each side. Then just drop it on a cutting board and slice it up nicely! Trust me, it is SO MUCH easier than carving it on the damned fowl.

knuckle4Two things I’ve never tried are deep dried turkey and turducken. People who do the fried bird SWEAR it’s the juiciest thing you’ll ever sink your teeth into. The stories of spilling the damned things and burning down the abode scares a lot of folks away. Also the fact that you’re taking a great low-fat food and soaking it in skin scorching grease seems to be excessive, but what the hell, it’s a holiday and that exempts you from keeping your gall bladder clean and healthy. And then there’s the chicken stuffed in side of a duck that is stuffed inside of a turkey that just takes your meal completely over the handlebars. It sounds pretty awesome, but again, excessive, and it just seems like a whole hell of a lot of work.

Okay, cigars… do you have your smoking regimen prepared? I’ve got a few choices in mind and HEY… how lucky are you that this is a cigar website and you can order ‘em RIGHT HERE!!! Gosh, ain’t that a coincidence? I mean, really!

Early Turkey Day Smoke:

It’s gonna be a mild to medium bodied, smooth and tasty AVO CLASSIC.

Handmade DR

Wrapper: CTSH    Binder: DR    Filler: DR

Mild-Medium Bodied

AVO CLASSICA mild yet flavorful cigar fashioned from a blend of Dominican long-leaf filler tobaccos and wrapped in a light Connecticut shade. Avo Cigars are made in the Cibao Valley of the Dominican Republic from premium hand-selected tobaccos, and aged to perfection. The blend of five different tobaccos results in a mild body, rich flavor, and a delightful aroma.

Afternoon Break Smoke:

A medium bodied PUNCH GRAND CRU #2 (One of my all-time faves)

Handmade HON

Wrapper: CTSH/CTBL    Binder: CTBL    Filler: DR/HON/NIC


Made from extra-select vintage three-to-five-year tobaccos, the Punch Grand Cru is a refined version of the classic Punch blend. Wrapped in the silkiest of Connecticut River Valley leaf, this is the smoothest of Honduran cigars.

Post Dinner Smoke:

And then finally, the cigar whose flavor must cut through the turkey, stuffing, taters and gravy, I’m going with the full bodied, Nicaraguan flavor bomb, FRANK LLANEZA 1961

Handmade NIC
Wrapper: ECCR    Binder: NIC    Filler: DR/NIC
Medium-Full Bodied

FRANK LLANEZA 1961Frank Llaneza 1961 cigars are handmade with the darkest Ecuador Criollo wrapper I have ever seen and must have been selected one leaf at a time or fermented over and over and over. You people who know me or have read some of my dribble over the years know that I’ve always said that the difference between a two dollar cigar and a ten dollar cigar is eight dollars… well if there ever was such a thing as a ten dollar cigar – then this is it. These cigars have the Frank Llaneza “Cubanesque” heavier bodied “touch” that made brands like Hoyo, Punch, Excalibur, El Rey del Mundo, and others that he has created such mainstays in today’s premium cigar business. A definite winner in the new chapter of fine cigars for the late great master.

So that’s it my peeps, enjoy the family and friends and we’ll be back for another exciting chapter of JR Cigars Blog with the Zman!


Tommy Z

A. Turrent Triple Play

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

The cigar up for review today is called the Triple Play because the wrapper, binder, and filler are all maduro tobaccos. The only other cigar I can think of that is similar is the Camacho Triple Maduro, which I enjoyed. When I ran across the A. Turrent Triple Play, I had to pick some up.

Although I like all kinds of blends and wrappers, I still enjoy the sweet flavors a maduro cigar can have. So as always, I paired this cigar with water and offer you my thoughts.


Wrapper: San Andres Morron

Binder: Connecticut broadleaf

Filler: Nicaragua, San Andreas, Honduran Maduros

Suze: Toro 54 x 6

Price: Around $6.50


Pre-Smoke & Construction:

The dark wrapper had a slight sheen look to it, along with a little toothiness and small to medium veins. There were no major flaws except for the cap was lifting from the cigar. The odor off of the wrapper a mild sweetness with a touch of hay. The foot had the same smell, with an added mild peppery spice. Overall, the cigar was firmly and evenly packed, and the draw had slight resistance. Speaking of the draw, the pre-light draw pleasant. I had a hard time picking a flavor to describe it. It was like a mild, dark sweetness.

The first third required a couple major burn corrections. After that, just a few minor touch-ups were needed. I expected some burn issues considering that this is an all maduro cigar. The ash held for about an inch.



The first third had a natural tobacco flavor with slight earthy notes. When passing smoke through the nose, there was a smooth and mild spice that was not peppery or sweet. Smoke volume was plentiful and overall this third was simple but nice.


While the second third didn’t evolve a lot, there were some minor changes. The earthy notes became a little stronger, and then faded. A woody component entered the flavor profile. The spice became a peppery and didn’t have a lot of kick. A little past the half way point, coffee flavors entered the picture.


While the first two thirds were good, it seemed like something was missing. That sweet component finally came about in the last third. It was like a dry coco and reminded me of the power you put into milk to make chocolate milk. Meanwhile, the coffee and woody notes mixed together, and the spicy pepper became a little stronger. I should mention that the sweetness would come and go.



This was a good medium to full bodied cigar. Like I said in the review, the first two thirds were enjoyable, but seemed to be missing something. Once the sweet notes kicked in, everything seemed “Complete.” If I had to pick, I would take a Camacho Triple Maduro over this one. If you are a fan of maduro cigars, I think you should at least give the A. Turrent Triple Play a try.

The Birth Of A Cigar Shop–Part 3

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

We continue Ed’s progress on preparing his move to a bigger cigar shop and lounge. Like I said in part two, progress has been slow. But now that some paperwork has been finalized, Ed is really starting to hustle and should be moved in soon. Ed and I will finally be able to resume our normal reviews, now from the new lounge. And to those of you in the St. Petersburg, FL area, you will have the biggest and best cigar shop and lounge in the area to relax in.

Sit back and check out this 3 minute video, in amazing hi-def (720p).

Part 1 can be viewed here.

Part 2 can be viewed here.

Part 4 can be viewed here.

Xikar HC Series Criollo Grande

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

The fine folks at Xikar donated a few smokes for me to review. I reviewed this very same cigar before, but in a smaller size. They recently came out with the new Grande size for those who enjoy larger sized cigars. We all know that size sometimes does matter when it comes to the flavor of a cigar. So I was curious if that would be the case this time. As you know by now, I paired up with the standard glass of water, and here’s my thoughts…


Wrapper: Shade grown criollo – Nicaragua

Binder: Sun grown criollo – Nicaragua

Filler: Honduras, Nicaragua

Size: Grande 6 x 60

Price: $9.50


Pre-Smoke & Construction:

The light tan wrapper was smooth looking and had light to medium sized veins. The odor from the wrapper woody and sweet. The foot was similar but had some earthiness as well. Overall, the cigar was evenly packed, and bounced back when squeezed. The pre-light draw was free, and has notes of wood, earth sweetness.

The burn required quite a few corrections on this particular cigar. The other 3 I smoked didn’t have any issues. The ash held for almost 2 inches.



The first third started off with a simple, smooth, earthy tobacco taste. It didn’t take long for a mildly sweet peppery spice to enter the picture. The spice became thick feeling, and had a nice zing that wasn’t over the top. The smoke feel became sweet and creamy as this third came to a close.


The second third changed a little in terms of flavor. The earthiness was still present, but at times it would fall into the background. In it’s place was a sweetness that was somewhere in between mocha and caramel. It leaned more towards the caramel side. The spice didn’t change when exhaling smoke though the nose. The smoke left a nice sweet coating on the inside of the mouth and lips. Simple but nice.


The last third didn’t introduce any new flavors. It stayed pretty consistent with the second third. At times certain draws were sweet, while others were more earthy and crisp. Other then that, it was very consistent.



This was a very good medium to full bodied cigar. Thanks to Xikar for letting me try this cigar, since they are pretty hard to find here in St. Petersburg, FL. I didn’t mention, the smoke volume was plentiful and thick. You’d want to smoke this outside, or in a well ventilated room. This cigar makes a nice afternoon or after dinner smoke. There wasn’t any major differences in flavor of the Grande or Robusto. It basically boils down to your size preference. If you run across the HC Criollo’s in any size, I’d recommend pickup on a few.

Ode to the Cigar Bomber

Monday, November 15th, 2010

bombThere’s a knock at the door and you wonder who it could be. Why, it’s the USPS mail guy, and for some reason he’s hand delivering my mail on this very fine Saturday afternoon. That’s odd, he never comes to the door, unless… unless there’s a package. Hey, will ya look at that! My postal pal DOES have a package addressed to me… a big ol’ box, none the less. “Who is it from,” I wonder, as I look for a knife to slice open the packing tape. Damn… no name on the outside, just an address. “Who the heck is it from and what on earth could it be,” I think aloud as I peel back the tape, flip back the corrugated lids and plunge my hands into a sea of styrofoam peanuts! Wait a minute… I feel something in there… and voila, I unearth a monster sized zip-lock bag ensconced in a layer of neatly wound bubble wrap.

Picture 14Scissors! Nurse… hand me the scissors… I’m going in!

Gently I clip around the edges as not to slice the precious contents of this mystery package that has happened it’s way to my front door this ordinary autumn weekend. Like in the Twilight Zone episode, “The Eye of the Beholder”, I unwrap layer upon layer of protective gauze, and as I peel back the final layer, I gasp as my eyes open wide and jaw drops to my kitchen’s granite countertop. But unlike the Rod Serling saga that displayed an image of frightful horror to the medical staff, I have just unraveled a vision of beauty so lovely that birds begin to sing as flowers actually sprout from the very ground.

WOW… Somebody sent me CIGARS!!!

Surprise, Zman, YOU HAVE BEEN BOMBED! Now incase this hasn’t happened to you, bombing is a term when one brother of the leaf sends a fellow toker of tobacco an unannounced package of premium hand rolled goodness. You didn’t ask for it, and you didn’t know it was coming, but it came… it came just the same. And this particular package just happens to be loaded to the gills with enough ring gauge action to get me through ‘til springtime, I tell ya! I mean just look at this golden menagerie of wrapped leafy splendor… Ashton VSG’s, Avo Maduro, Bolivar Cofradia, Camacho 10th Anniversary, CAO Brazillia, Fonseca, Cubano Limatado, Frank, Llaneza 1961, La Gloria Cubana Serie R, Montecristo White, Partagas Black, Punch Grand Cru, and several other cigars that make my mouth water, head spin, and palate yearn for a mid day smoke (or three or four!)

And that’s not all… there’s some Hawaiian coffee, a cigar t-shirt and a hat, and several cutters… but much to my surprise… NO NAME! The devilish do-gooder who sent this care package from the heavens has chosen to remain anonymous! And damn, isn’t that just like a real, honest to goodness BOTL? I can tell you without question that cigar smokers are some of the finest and most generous people on the face of God’s green earth. They give, give, and give, only looking to bring joy to their fellow partakers of the puro. I have seen this type of heartfelt gifting done over and over  (say, I may have even done some of it myself) and it is really what makes cigar connoisseurs worldwide, some of the finest individuals known to mankind.

So here’s to you, oh cigar bomber of the leaf-o-shpere. You give from the heart, pounding our mailboxes with surprise, and filling our humidors with tobacco grown in God’s sun kissed fields. May the good Lord bless you, oh spreader of Churchill cheer.

Tommy Z.


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