Archive for January, 2011

Cigar Smoking: What an Experience

Monday, January 31st, 2011

A couple of friends of mine own a cigar shop in the next town over, and like any shop, hanging out and yakking with the locals about their favorite stoags is always great fun. No matter if it’s a hardcore fan of the leaf or a newb who wants to learn and enjoy, it’s always a good time sharing knowledge and telling tobacco war stories.

42-21708854During this past weekend I was hanging at the shop, having a smoke and watching various crap on their big screen when several guys in their mid-twenties strolled in looking for some smokes for their ride home from skiing. The owner Mike was on the phone, so like I usually like to do, I followed the guys to the walk-in humidor to help them pick out something to please their palate. Hey, I realize I don’t work there, but like I said, I just love to talk cigars and I don’t mind lending a hand if I can. The guys were basically newbies and enjoyed the occasional smoke while playing poker and on the golf course, but didn’t really know what they liked and why, but were definitely in need of some advice and direction. Now once you get me on a roll talking about cigars, I really don’t shut the hell up and sometimes I need a smack to the side of the skull to get me to stop my inane prattle. But these guys were in need of an education and were really up for some learning.

First off, you know that newbs go light and delve early on into Connecticut wrappers and milder bodied sticks. I could have been a royal ass and talked them into some Joya de Nicaragua Fuerte Serie B and watch them trip-out in the parking lot, but that’s not the kind of prank you want to play on a brother who’s yearnin’ for some learnin’. So I leaned ‘em towards some creamy and delicious Montecristo Whites, knowing there was a lot flavor and a great draw awaiting them for their trek back home.

humidorSo they started by asking why some wrappers were yellow to light brown, and some were dark brown and black. Well, that was my cue as I went into a dissertation on the cheese cloth tent covered fields in the Connecticut River Valley and then onto sun grown and maduro. The dudes were truly fascinated and wanted to know more. I told them of different countries of origin and the characteristics that make each unique. My most recent Cigar magazine article is about the art of blending a cigar and the mind-numbing amount of factors that goes into creating a premium cigar. I was having a grand old time educating the fledgling leaf-lovers as they were all ears and couldn’t wait go home and smoke their friggin brains out. A couple of guys that came in for a cigar for the road left with ten different sticks and a wealth of new information to drive their girlfriends insane with this new and wonderful hobby!

As the boys shook my hand on the way out, one dude said to me, “Thanks so much, that was a very enjoyable experience.” I turned to my buddy Mike and said, “Did you hear that? Did you hear what that guy just said? He didn’t say thanks for the cigars, he said thanks for the experience.”

Wow, that was an incredibly cool moment as it hit me with the fact I’ve always known. Cigars aren’t a habit, or even a hobby for that matter… cigars are an experience – and smoking is a joyful way to spend your time communicating with your inner self, or friends that care to join in on the experience. While non-smokers and the smoke Nazi contingent look down upon us like we are the unwashed pariah of society, they have not an inkling of a clue about the joys that a hand rolled, premium cigar can bring to our lives – if not for just a brief fleeting moment in time. As we, cut, light, and take that first heavenly draw, our troubles seem to melt away in a puff of blue swirling smoke circling above our heads. Yes indeed, the experience is soothing to the soul and like no other. So I bid you a good week ahead and hope there’s a fine smoking experience awaiting you all. Smoke ‘em cuz ya gottem, my brothers,

Tommy Z.

JR Cigars Blog With the Zman


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

MONTECRISTO WHITEThe Montecristo White is an elegant cigar ringed in a white band. Hand wrapped in a golden Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade seed leaf and blended with select Dominican and Nicaraguan long leaf fillers, its flavor is worth savoring. While they are mild in body, the flavor is thoroughly rich and wonderfully delicious! Probably one of my favorite mild smokes out there!


Handmade NIC
Wrapper: NIC    Binder: NIC    Filler: NIC
Full Bodied

JOYA DE NICARAGUA FUERTE SERIE BThe Fuerte Serie B line is another powerful extension of the Joya de Nicaragua brand that proves to be a real winner – not just for your palate but for your pockets too. An aged, hearty blend of Cuban-seed Criollo long filler tobaccos from Nicaragua is surrounded by a peppery, smooth binder and finished with a dark rosado-hued Nicaraguan wrapper. The combination provides the seasoned smoker with deep, well-balanced flavors of earth and spice. These cigars are very comparable to the Antaño line as far as strength and flavor, but more economically priced due to the packaging.

January 2011 Cigar Site of the Month–

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Rarely do I choose a new site as the Cigar Site of the Month. But there are always exceptions…

I’ve done a few reviews with Matt here and on The Stogie Review. I’ve told him for a couple of years that he should start a cigar review site. His take was that cigar blogs are a dime a dozen, and the world doesn’t need another one. I agree with him, I am one of those dozen.


Recently he launched It is a cigar site, but it offers something a little different. Matt dabbles in photography, and that is the focus of the site. He will be updating it once a week, on Wednesdays. Sure, it’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s nice to see something new and a little different in the cigar site world. So go check out and keep an eye on it!

Xikar Crystal Ashtray Contest-WINNER!

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Thanks to everyone who participated in this great Xikar contest! And let’s not forget to thank Xikar for making it possible!


Sunday night, at random, a winner was picked. Kyle from, congratulations, you are the winner! I have already emailed you for your mailing address. Now for the bad news… This ashtray was gently used once in this review, and has a tiny ding on the bottom. Other then that, this thing is brand spankin’ new. Enjoy!

This was probably the most successful contest hosted at Thanks again to everyone who entered, and to Xikar for providing the winning prize.

Xikar Crystal Ashtray Contest-WINNER!

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Thanks to everyone who participated in this great Xikar contest! And let’s not forget to thank Xikar for making it possible!


Sunday night, at random, a winner was picked. Kyle from, congratulations, you are the winner! I have already emailed you for your mailing address. Now for the bad news… This ashtray was gently used once in this review, and has a tiny ding on the bottom. Other then that, this thing is brand spankin’ new. Enjoy!

This was probably the most successful contest hosted at Thanks again to everyone who entered, and to Xikar for providing the winning prize.

Stogie Challenge #1–Phillies Blunt

Friday, January 28th, 2011

T Logo 3

This is the first, and hopefully last installment of The Stogie Challenge.

So take a few minutes out of your day and see how The Stogie Challenge, Episode 1 went. As I mentioned in the review, I owe the concept to Crap Cigar. Don’t forget to go to and curse him for letting me go though with this!

MP3 Audio Only

Xikar Contest–Ending soon!

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Wow over 120 of you have entered in to the Xikar ashtray contest. That may be a record for contest participation. Thanks to Xikar and all of you for stopping by.1_Xikar_Crystal_Ashtray

As the title says.. The contest will be closed soon, and a winner will be picked. If you haven’t entered yet, just click HERE and leave a comment! Stay tuned and soon I will announce the winner!


Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

While I have a good amount of humidor storage, which you can view HERE, I recently found myself needing a place to store boxes of cigars. This is when I decided it was time to use a coolidor. After viewing a tutorial by Walt from Stogie Review, I was armed with enough information to get started.

What is a coolidor? Why would you want to use one? It is simply using a cooler as a place to store cigars. While it isn’t as pleasant to look at as a traditional humidor, it does get the job done efficiently and affordably. Another advantage is that coolers offer a tight seal and minimize temperature swings.


I went with a Coleman Xtreme 50 quart wheeled cooler for $35.00. I chose one with wheels since I don’t really have a permanent place for the cooler. It will probably be moved from one part of the house to the next, depending on the circumstances. Otherwise, I would skip a cooler with wheels.

The dimensions, in inches, are: Length-25, width-16.5, and height-16.6. This is enough space for quite a few boxes of cigars.

After purchasing the cooler, I found that it had a strong odor of plastic. All it took was a few drops of Ivory dish detergent and a scrub down of the interior. I thoroughly rinsed out all traces of soap after scrubbing for a few minutes. This got rid of every last bit of the plastic, new cooler smell. Once everything was dried out, the cooler was ready for cigars.


What about humidity control? Easy… I went to Heartfelt Industries and used their calculator. I entered the dimensions of the cooler, and knew how many beads I would need. I chose to use a pound of 65% beads. I split them into two 1/2 pound bags, which are placed on each side of the cooler. You can purchase empty mesh bags on their site, or use pantyhose. I went with the bags available from Heartfelt. In the end I spent around $35.00 for humidification.


I already had cigar boxes (loaded with cigars) ready to go. So it was simply a matter of placing them in the cooler, along with the beads. Everything equalized quickly, and I was holding a steady 65-68% humidity in the tightly sealed cooler within a day.

I am using more beads then I need to, which never hurts, and I won’t be using a hygrometer. I’ve been using Heartfelt beads for years, and simply don’t need to constantly check up on humidity levels. I do spot checks from time to time, but the beads haven’t let me down yet. There are other methods available, which you can read about here.

If the cigar boxes were dried out, I would have probably “Seasoned” them by wiping them down with a slightly damp cloth. Distilled water only of course. Fortunately, I didn’t need to take that step.


And there you have it. A quick and cheap means to store a lot of cigars. Some people go with mounting a hygrometer, cedar linings, and a place for beads. While nothing beats a traditional Spanish cedar humidor, I just needed something functional and nothing more, and this did the trick.

I was Once a Tobacco Virgin

Monday, January 24th, 2011

As a regular guy, I think about regular guy stuff quite often. Chicks, sports, steak, chicks, beer, wings, chicks, you know, the typical man-pig stuff. But I also think about premium hand rolled cigars… a lot. I mean a lot. And on a – 5 degree morning in New Jersey, I know I won’t be smoking outside today (ya think) so I just sit and think about rich, tobacco goodness.

For some reason, this morning I started thinking about my very first cigar, ever. Not sure why, but I guess this brutally cold winter has me jonesing like a maniac. Ah, my first stogie… 1995… my brother in law’s wedding… the now gone Wayne Manor in Wayne, New Jersey.

7421I was in the wedding party and as the reception started, the best man broke out the heavy artillery. He cracked open a box of Partagas Number 10’s and the guys flocked to the table like wolves on a kitten. Those were ’still’ the days when a man could spark up his favorite cigar during time of celebration. But I was a stogie virgin and a bit intimidated at those baseball bat sized smokes, as the contents of the box began to dwindle. But best man, Matt grabbed one from the remaining few and said, “Tommy, it’s time you grew a pair and joined good men everywhere.”

Well, I agreed. It was smack in the middle of the cigar boom and smoking was absolutely all the rage. I wanted to try them for quite a while actually, as my dad was a longtime cigar lover, but this was indeed now the opportunity to join the revolution and there was simply no turning back.

cigars_ireland_lonsdale_partagas_898_2I remember somebody had a cutter as the group took turns snipping their sticks, then the wedding matches were put to a good cause. And I vividly remember puffing those first few puffs and tasting the aged tobacco, turning to Matt and nodding in approval. And while my wife has fond memories of that day, she also curses it for introducing me to the ’smelly habit’ that stinks up the laundry basket to high heavens to this very day. It kind of sucks a whole lot having a wife who hates cigars when they tend to pay the bills each month, but I’ve learned to live with her disdain, as my personal pleasure is what’s important here.

Back to the story… the group of us smoked those big-ash Partagas for a good 45 minutes, while guzzling champagne and oogling the eye candy throughout the room. I couldn’t believe how much I was enjoying my first cigar (never a cigarette smoker) and I knew as that hefty gar dwindled down, I was hooked on the craze that was sweeping the world. In fact, there were five sticks remaining in the box and when no one was looking, I stashed them into my tux jacket and enjoyed them on my deck for the entire following week.

Man, that is such a great memory and just thought you guys would appreciate the story and share your first experience with a great premium smoke. I am simply going to HAVE TO make a trek up to JR in Whippany, NJ, today and reacquaint myself with the good ole Number 10, a cigar I haven’t put my lips to in a few years.

Okay, I’m long from my virginhood (I know that’s not a word, it’s poetic license, okay?) but sometimes when I spark up a great smoke, it almost feels like the first time if the mood is just right. And after this brutally long winter, it’s gonna feel mighty sweet to sit and enjoy a handmade happy stick in the warm weather once again.

So share your good times and let’s get all nostalgic and stuff. Damn, my first cigar…I think I’m gonna cry.

Tommy Z,

JR CIGARS Blog with the Zman


Handmade DR
Wrapper: CAM    Binder: MEX    Filler: DR/MEX
Medium Bodied

PARTAGASExpertly crafted, Partagas is one of the finest cigar brands available in the US. This Piloto Cubano blend is medium in body and has tastes of wood and coffee. Its toothy African Cameroon wrapper adds a great note of spice to this very flavorful, smooth cigar. And let’s not forget, the Zman’s very first entry into the world of finely aged premium cigars… nice!


Handmade DR
Wrapper: CTMT    Binder: DR    Filler: NIC/DR
Full Bodied

PARTAGAS BLACKThe Partagas Black is the same in namesake, and well-made in the same factory, but that is where the similarities end. Wrapped in a unique “medio tiempo” sun-grown Havana-seed leaf from the Connecticut River Valley, this is a very robust blend of Nicaraguan and Piloto Cubano ligeros. Flavors of earth, dark chocolate, and dark roasted espresso will overwhelm your senses – this is not a cigar for the timid.


Handmade DR
Wrapper: HON    Binder: CTBL    Filler: DR/MEX/HON
Medium-Full Bodied

PARTAGAS SPANISH ROSADOThe Spanish Rosado name is derived from the wrapper that is grown exclusively for General Cigar in the San Agustin Valley in Honduras. This cigar’s unique flavor starts with Honduran-shade wrapper which offers a rich, oily appearance with a dark reddish-brown color. It is followed by a spicy taste from the Connecticut broadleaf binder that wraps the fillers blended from the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Honduras, resulting in a medium to full-bodied smoke. These cigars are for the serious cigar smoker.


Friday, January 21st, 2011

Swag is a cigar line from Oliveros. It features all ligero tobacco from the same farm in the Dominican Republic. It is said that the body and flavors are full, and you’d never know this was a Dominican puro. Their slogan – “The SWAG cigar is not your father’s Dominican cigar.” The Swag line apparently is all about a lifestyle. I am not concerned with all of that stuff. It’s all about how it performs. You can read more at Swag’s website.

A quick lesson – Ligero refers to the top part of a tobacco plant. The leaves are exposed to the sun and tend to be thicker and fuller bodied. They usually contain the most nicotine, and often require a bit more aging.

I was given a few samples at Ed’s grand opening. Ed and I may review this one day. In the mean time, I figured I’d give you my take. As I do in all reviews, I paired with water.


Wrapper/Binder/Filler: Dominican Ligero

Size: Quickie – 5.5 x 42

Price: Around $5.00


Pre-smoke and Construction:

The wrapper was a little blotchy looking, with minor variations in color. This isn’t an issue. The wrapper and foot had a mild odor of cedar. The cigar was pretty evenly and solidly packed, and the draw was good. The pre-light draw had a dark woody and mild earthy taste.

The burn required one minor correction, and the ash held for about 3/4 of an inch.



The first third began with a simple cedar taste. It didn’t take long before it opened up a bit. There was an easy pepper when passing smoke through the nose that had a tinge of sweetness. The cedar stepped back a bit and nutty notes joined in. Overall, it was very smooth and easy.


The second third took on a creamy feel. The smoke volume was plentiful and thick. It left a sweet coating in the mouth that reminded me of caramel. The cedar notes were still there and mingled with a sweet nuttiness. If I literally chewed the smoke, I swear I picked up a fruity flavor. There wasn’t a lot of spice when passing smoke through the sinus. It was more of a sweet woody flavor with a tinge of pepper.


The last third pretty much kept pace with the second third. There may have been the addition of coffee, but it was hard to tell. The spice picked up a little bit when exhaling through the nose. The body and strength definitely hit the full range. I had a slight nicotine buzz at this point. Otherwise, the core flavors stayed the same, and it was pretty good.



This was a very good cigar. It started out as a medium and went into the full range. The flavors were good and mixed together well. It was just a well refined flavor profile and strength wasn’t the focus (although it was there). I’d recommend at least trying a few of these. I liked em.

Illusione Epernay

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Ed and I finally blocked off some time and got together with Stogie Review founding member Walt. For the past couple of reviews, we’ve been moonlighting with Mike over at While I can guarantee we’ll do more with him, we thought it was time to go back where it all started – The Stogie Review. This video review is posted here basically for archive purposes, like all of our guest spots on


I’ve been a fan of the Illusione Epernay for awhile now. It was only recently that Mike from turned Ed and I on to the Le Monde size. Once Ed started carrying the Illusione lines, it was only a matter of time before we reviewed this cigar. There isn’t a lot I can say except it is an exceptional smoke with plenty of flavor. This cigar delivered, period.

So block off 26 minutes of your time and see what Walt, Ed, and I thought of the Illusione Epernay.

MP3 Audio Only

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