Archive for January, 2013

New and Old Cigars and Taxes by Frank Seltzer

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013


Benji Menendez

Sometime in April, the Benji Menendez Majestuoso makes a return. This was the limited edition cigar that took off in 2009-10.  Named for cigar master Benji Menendez, the 6 x 46 cigar gave new life to the Partagas brand and now is making a comeback as a regular edition to the Partagas line.


The cigar known as the Master Series has resurfaced over the past couple of years as holiday items but with a bigger ring gauge, 54.  Benji always has said this blend works best in the 46-ring gauge and that is what is returning.


The Majestuoso uses a Cameroon wrapper.  The Cameroon wrapper comes from Africa (the country of Cameroon.  To Benji this wrapper is special since in the 60s after the embargo there were only two types of wrapper, Connecticut and Cameroon.  Period.  And it is what Ramon Cifuentes used in the original Partagas made outside of Cuba.  To Benji and his team this cigar was an homage to Cifuentes.  Said Benji at the launch in 2009, “The original Partagas cigar was a Cameroon wrapper, but because the market changed, that cigar became less full bodied than it was perceived back in the mid 90s. What we have done is thinned that family and increased the strength but keeping the flavor.   We need the flavor. To me the important thing in a cigar is not a cigar that will blow your head off but a cigar that will give you a good taste in your mouth.  And Cameroon has that sweetness and cleanliness of smoke that you will appreciate in that cigar.”


The binder is Habano seed grown in Connecticut over fillers from The Dominican Republic (Piloto Cubano ligero) and Nicaragua. At the time of its release, many of us agreed it was one of the best cigars ever smoked with tremendous flavor and balance.  The Majestuoso will retail just under $10.


General also is releasing a new Limited Edition cigar to the Master Series in the Prominente size.  In Cuba that is also known as a Double Corona at 7.625” x 49.  The limited edition should be out in May.


A Taxing Problem

You may remember in California last summer, voters defeated a proposal to increase tobacco tax.  The other side kept hanging on past the election hoping the vote total would change, but it didn’t and they lost.  Now just six months later, they are going to try again.  This time the ballot initiative is being called “The California Residents College Accessibility and Affordability Act of 2014″…as opposed to the bend over and grab your socks while we shove it in deeper act.


This time the dollar increase in tobacco tax initiative will go to help pay for college…

The initiative would funnel the money, which could be as much as $750 million in its first year, through the California Student Aid Commission. Its language says the tax revenue would be kept separate from the state’s general fund and thus not siphoned off to other programs — including the constitutional guarantee for K-12 schools and community colleges, the news outlet reported.


Yeah raise the taxes a buck and watch that money flow in…NOT.


When states raise the tobacco tax, they increase the incentives for Black Market tobacco.  A recent study by the Mackinac Center showed that in New York—which has the nation’s highest cigarette taxes at $5.85 a pack –only about 39 percent of New Yorkers who smoke are paying that high tariff.   60.9 of the total market of cigarettes in 2011 came from the black market.  It is a smuggler’s paradise.

We also modeled for Maryland the impact of a recently proposed 50 percent hike in its excise tax, from $2 per pack to $3. If such an increase were enacted in Maryland, the proportion of smuggled cigarettes consumed by its smokers would leap from 26 percent of the total market to 52 percent, and would actually result in a net decline in tobacco tax revenues.

These findings are troubling enough, but even more disturbing is what appears to be an increase in criminal activity related to illicit tobacco smuggling. In just one egregious example from last summer, a Maryland police officer in Prince George’s County was sentenced for running illicit cigarettes while using his duty firearm, uniform and patrol vehicle. In 2010, a Virginia man admitted to hiring someone to kill another over smuggled smokes. Prison guards have been busted smuggling smokes into prisons.


Perhaps these legislators should consider the real world effect of their actions.



Pig Skin, Chow, & Premium Aged Tobacco… Yum… by Tommy Zman

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Sinus infections are a pox upon humanity and just a real bad deal for us cigar lovers. I’ve been dealing with the lingering effects of one for almost a week now and it is just the biggest pain in the ass – I mean head, imaginable. On top of all the symptoms that suck, the worse thing of all is that I haven’t enjoyed a good cigar since last weekend. Oh, I guess I could give it try, but why even think about it when healing is definitely the number one priority.

Now the past few weekends have been great for cigar smoking with all the football playoff action going on. Seriously great games call for seriously great cigars and my pals and I partook in a bounty… Some old school Partagas #10‘s, some new school San Lotano Ovals, some Omar Ortez for dessert if you please, and a bevy of Punch that went great with our lunch. So yeah, with all that football and all those cigars, you’ve gotta have some awesome pigskin food… which of course I indulged in with my buddies. We don’t get overly fancy, you know, the classic football fare, your wings, chili, sub sammiches, pulled pork sliders,  taco dip, pizza, jalepeno poppers, tater skins, onion rings, macaroni salad, and a little fave that I simply refer to as Nacho-Hotdogs (See pic). Freakin’ yum times 12.

And as you might guess, with all that football and all those cigars, and all of that amazing chow, you’ve gotta have some cold and tasty brewskis to wash it all down and there was no shortage of craft brewed beers in the house. There was red ale, brown ale and blonde ale, and red lager… Imperial stout, IPA, pale ale and porter… you know, just enough to get us through the two games that day.

And when the games were over, dark, sweet maduro dessert cigars were in order… and with all that football and all those cigars, and all of that amazing chow, and all of that craft brew, you’ve gotta have some nice scotch to make it all just right because those maduros need a good companion. My poison of choice was Balvenie Doublewood 12, aged 6 years in oak to give it those vanilla notes, and then 6 more years in sherry casks to give it that sweet aroma and flavor.

And now the Super Bowl is coming in a week and nobody’s invited me to a damned party… yet. Just typing up this blog I’m getting hungry as all hell and maybe one of you guys out there will get the friggin hint and have everyone’s favorite Polack over for the Big Game festivities (I’m talking about ME, dammit… sheesh!) I haven’t made my official pick for the game yet, figured I’d leave that for next Friday’s blog. Last year I boldly picked the New York Football Giants to not only cover the spread but to win outright, (just as I had in their first meeting a few years ago,) Guess it didn’t hurt that I’m a lifelong, die hard Giants fan, so that made it kind of easy.

So, there’s no football this weekend, well, all for that dumbass Pro Bowl that NOBODY gives a damn about – including the guys who are playing in it. So I guess I’ll just have to gear up for next week’s match and have a few snacks and fatty foods to keep in game shape… oh yeah, and hopefully some fine smokes if this sinus BS decides to leave my freakin skull!

PLEASE SUPPORT Cigar Rights of America as they continue to deal with congress, the senate, and all US legislators who need to be made aware that our cigars are the best friends we know of and we will fight like hell to keep them in our lives! >>

Smoke ‘em cuz ya gottem my friends,


JR Cigars Blog with the Zman

> CLICK HERE to Check out this week’s J•R CIGARS Weekly Special

Emilio La Musa

Friday, January 25th, 2013

At least a couple people have been asking what the hell is going on here. My temporary hiatus isn’t quite over yet, but I found an opportunity to have a couple smokes. Consistent updates will resume within a week or two. Anyway…

Once again, Gary Griffith, of Emilio Cigars, has a blend up for review. Gary, thanks again for sending me these smokes. The Musa is of limited quantities, depending on harvest conditions. The only thing I could find is that these cigars are produced in Esteli, Nicaragua. I’m keeping up with my tradition of having minimal info. What is important is the experience, so here goes…


Wrapper: Nicaragua

Binder & Filler: Nicaragua

Size: Torpedo 6 x 52

Price: Around $8.00


Pre-Smoke & Construction:

The wrapper had a nice even color, with small to medium sized veins. It had an odor of earthiness and cedar, and the foot had a milder earthy smell. The cigar was evenly packed, with just a little give when squeezed. The draw had slight resistance, with a dark bitter sweet flavor.

The ash held for just over an inch, and the burn required a good sized correction in the first third.

1 Emilio_La_Musa cigars


The first third had a dry woody flavor, combined with an easy peppery zing. It quickly developed into a rich, sweet, bitter cocoa. Coffee joined in, and crept up there in strength and smoothness.

2 Emilio_La_Musa cigars

The second third had a dominant cedar flavor. The easy peppery kick still remained when retrohaling, along with a leathery and earthy finish. Coffee and cocoa notes slipped in to the background. At the half way point, the dominant flavor would switch up. It rotated between cocoa, cedar, and coffee. The smoke feel became thicker, and really stuck to the roof of the mouth.

3 Emilio_La_Musa cigars

Mocha and coffee stood out the most in the last third. A peppery zing, cedar, and earthiness followed behind. The smoke feel became drier, and had a tingle that reminded me of cinnamon. This remained consistent for the entire third.

4 Emilio_La_Musa cigars


This was a good, solid medium to full bodied cigar. This slow burner made putting together this review a pleasure. I know I’ve had nothing but positive things to say about Emilio cigars, and I’ve tried to find some flaws, but so far I have nothing. If you run across the La Musa, it’s worth a try.

Legacy and More by Frank Seltzer

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Altadis USA will soon be releasing a new H. Upmann called the Legacy.  The cigar will come in three sizes a 5”x5 Robusto for $5.85, a Corona at 5.5” x 44 for $6.50 and a Toro at 6” x 52 for $6.85.  The Legacy uses an Ecuadoran Sumatran wrapper (for the first time in an H. Upmann) over a Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers.  The difference here is that the tobaccos are from the 2008 crop.  This Upmann also is being made in the company’s Honduras factory in Copan and this is a fuller bodied Upmann.  This seems to be a trend with Altadis, in that they have stepped up the flavors and strength of some of their cigars.  The first being the Romeo by Romeo y Julieta which came out last Spring.  JR will have the Legacy available for purchase and your enjoyment in February.

Bargain Smokes

While we talked about the top 25 cigars of the year last week, often unnoticed is the list of bargain cigars that Cigar Aficionado puts out every year.   Ok so this is kinda sales talk…we normally don’t do it but since CA rated these highly and we have them at a good price, thought you might want to know.  CA rates the Chateau Fuente as a 91 (we’re selling for $5.00) along with the H. Upmann 1844 Reserve Robusto (our price of $5.17), the Macanudo Cru Royale Poco Gordo (check our price of $3.99) and the Punch Gran Puro Santa Rita (we’re selling for $3.39) which may be the best deal going.

Rated 90 points are the Chateau Fuente Sungrown Cuban Belicoso, the Chateau Fuente Sungrown Robusto and the Fuente Hemmingway Short Story along with the Nub 460 Cameroon and Thunder by Nimish.  All of these cigars have suggested retail prices at $6 or below.

Smoking Ban Reversed

When was the last time you read that?  Well in Florida, the state law prohibits localities from making tougher anti-smoking laws and when Sarasota tried to ban smoking from the beaches and parks, it ran afoul of the state law. A judge in Sarasota ruled the law unenforceable.  Several municipalities in Florida have tried tough smoking laws and now they are in question.  You can expect the anti’s to try to amend the state law.

Money no Object (for them)

In Kentucky, for example,  Johnson and Johnson’s political wing along with the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and the Smoke-Free Kentucky Coalition ( read those two groups along with the usual other suspects) are going to spend $93,000 for an ad campaign to try to get a smoking ban for that state.  The ad campaign ties Kentucky’s top ranking in basketball, horse racing to smoking.  In Kentucky 29 percent of the population smokes.

They Keep Trying

In Indiana, not content with the current smoking ban, the anti’s are trying to expand it.  The current smoking ban took effect last July, but already they are going back to the well to try to ban all smoking in bars, casinos private clubs (think Veterans and Fraternal organizations) and retail tobacco shops.  In short they want to eliminate ALL exemptions to the smoking ban.  This is how they work, get a foothold and then push.  The only good thing is that Indiana legislators seem to want to see how the current ban is working before they go further.  Expect this to continue though.

Missouri Sez No

Then there is Missouri.  At the beginning of the legislative session this year, Democrats banned smoking from all of their member’s offices.  They tried to take the ban to all the offices in the Capitol but failed.  Right now you cannot smoke in the Capitol hallways and chambers, but legislators can smoke in their own offices.  The D’s tried to implement their ban, but the Republican Rules Committee shot it down 8 to 4 with all Republicans voting against.  One legislator who voted against it said the decision should be up to each lawmaker.

“I’m not a smoker, but if somebody wants to come smoke a cigarette in my office, I will tolerate it,” said Cox, R-Sedalia. “I do not accept that all smokers are evil.”

 If only more legislators thought along those lines….

What’s the Best Cigar I’ve EVER Smoked? Well… by Tommy Zman

Friday, January 18th, 2013

“The greatest cigar to smoke is the one you are currently smoking” - Zino Davidoff

Over the years, I’ve been asked many times, “Zman, what is the best cigar that you’ve ever smoked?” While some people can answer that question, I find it almost impossible because I don’t think you can judge a good or great cigar on its own merit. Sure I have my personal favorites and even some all-time faves, but I can’t find myself naming one single cigar the “best ever” because there are just SO MANY great sticks I’ve had in my life. But I think most importantly, the enjoyment we usually get from a cigar has to do with the experience surrounding it.

Where you are and what you are doing at that particular time is what really makes a cigar most memorable. Weddings, babies being born, vacations and trips, these are all places and times we enjoy the hell out of the experience that goes along with smoking a fine stogie. I remember my first cigar ever at a wedding I was in and it is up there with one of the finest smokes I can ever remember. It was a Partagas #10 - and old-school stick that isn’t known for being high end or expensive, but it’s always had a place in my heart because of that memorable family wedding – and the fact that it popped my tobacco cherry.

I’m fortunate enough to have visited the tobacco fields, barns, and factories in Honduras and the Dominican Republic. I remember in both General Cigar’s facility in Santigo and the old Villazon factory in Cofradia, there were cigars of absolutely every type laying around for me to smoke. “Take whatever you want, when you want,” is all I heard for days and trust me when I say that I fully complied with their demands. In the morning, their conference room table would have fresh Dominican coffee and a choice of inexpensive Connecticut wrapped smokes for the taking. Of course these were cigars I didn’t normally enjoy, but when you factor in the “experience” these were some of the best “smokes” I ever had in all of my life! I mean I’m sitting with then General Cigar CEO, Daniel Nunez and then JR bossman Lew Rothman, having breakfast and drinking wickedly strong java that grew extra hair on my chest. When you light up a cigar – almost ANY cigar – under those circumstances, you can pretty much assume its going to be simply amazing.

There was another time when a close friend whom I truly love was moving 6 hours away (by plane) and it would be sometime before I would see him again. My wife and I took him and his wife out for an sumptuous dinner feast at a steakhouse that had an awesome little cigar bar tucked away on their top floor. After dinner, we headed up for cigars and several belts of our favorite libations as we told stories and wiped away a few tears. I remember my buddy and I firing up Punch Grand Cru #2‘s and smoking them ”til our thumbs and forefingers were burning. While I have had many delicious cigars in my lifetime, you have to know that square-pressed Honduran pyramid was right up there with the finest smokes I can ever remember. The emotions of that night, the food, the friends – wow, I can still smell those sticks when I close my eyes.

So, now I have to ask, what’s YOUR favorite cigar ever? Think about where you were and what you were doing and you’ll know why it was your favorite.

PLEASE SUPPORT Cigar Rights of America as they continue to deal with congress, the senate, and all US legislators who need to be made aware that our cigars are the best friends we know of and we will fight like hell to keep them in our lives! >>

Smoke ‘em cuz ya gottem my friends,


JR Cigars Blog with the Zman

> CLICK HERE to Check out this week’s J•R CIGARS Weekly Special



Dona Flor Event–Friday the 18th

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

This Friday, January 18th, from 5:30pm – 8:00pm, St. Pete Cigar will be hosting a Dona Flor smoker event. As always, there will be one day only deals and grub. I know I will stop by for as long as I can. These are very tasty Brazilian puro’s.

Dona_Flor cigars

Quick update on the site. I’m sure that literally a couple of you have wondered where I have been. Fear not, I just have some business to wrap up over the next couple of weeks. After that, this will return to the amazing, exciting place you’ve all come to know. I’ll be back…

We’re Number One! by Frank Seltzer

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Ok so the ratings for last year are out.  We’re number one is the call throughout the cigar world.  There are at least about 53 sites that rate the best cigars for the year. (Charlie at Half Wheel actually spent a lot of time compiling all the ratings into a consensus list…he obviously has waaaay too much time on his hands.)

The big dog in ratings, of course, is Cigar Aficionado.  Their top rated cigar usually goes immediately into back order because everyone wants to try it.  This year, it is the Flor de las Antillas Toro.  These cigars came out in the early summer and went into serious back order.  The factory had trouble keeping up.

The number two cigar came from Cuba, so it is illegal for any citizen of the United States to buy one, anywhere in the world.  (Hate to break it to ya but U-S citizens cannot spend money for Cuban goods anywhere in the world…this is not just a within the U-S thing.)  The number 3 cigar is the new Romeo by Romeo y Julieta Piramide, made in the Dominican Republic.

If you haven’t seen the list, here it is.

Overall, I find ratings meaningless…other than the ones we did in Cigar Magazine where the cigar was viewed in context of how much it cost.  To me, I cannot separate price from the cigar.  I remember reviewing cigars for another magazine many years back and one of the cigars to be rated was a candela.  I didn’t give it much thought, but the cigar had excellent construction and the flavor was good enough to make me reconsider candela wrappers.  I thought it might have been a Don Tomas or a Fuente.  When the issue came out, I was stunned to learn the cigar was from a certain Bahamian cigar maker and the price tag was well over $20 (without any tax.)  I nearly choked on my coffee…while the cigar was good, it certainly was not worth that price.  Which is why I really liked the way Cigar Magazine rated cigars…price was a consideration.

As to the CA top 25…the list is fair, given CA’s reviewing structure and taste profiles.  While I like the number 1 cigar, I had it and another during a visit to the My Father’s Cigars office and preferred La Duena.  But that’s me and that is the trouble with any ratings, they are the personal tastes of whoever is rating them.

Here are a few highlights…Number 15 was the H. Upmann 1844 Reserve Belicoso, Number 20 was the Punch Gran Puro Santa Rita, Number 23 was the Macanudo Cru Royale Poco Gordo and Number 25 was the San Lotano Oval Corona.

Another issue for most websites and other magazines is that pressure not to piss off advertisers.  Someone who spends money on you might expect a little love in return.  It is a tough dance for everyone, ‘cept here where we don’t rate cigars.

Speaking of that, going back a few years when Jose Blanco was still at La Aurora, one blogger was adamant about knowing the age of all the tobaccos in cigars, which fields they came from etc.  (Needless to say he is from California and sees the wine industry.)  Jose thought it was a good idea.  I thought the idea sucked eggs.  You may disagree but to me it does not matter which leaves are used.  It is the skill of the blender and cigars are not like wine.  In wine you blend liquids, which are pretty easy, and through chemistry you can make almost any wine taste the way you want it to.  With cigars, you are blending solids…much harder.  Which brings us to this..the Heisenberg Project.  This is coming out from the Quesada family.

The Heisenberg Uncertainy Principle was developed in 1927 but recently has gained notoriety through the t-v show Breaking Bad where the lead character uses the name Heisenberg when he does bad things.  Anyway, the Quesadas are embracing Uncertainy with the Heisenberg Project.  They will not divulge the tobaccos used in the cigar,  if it is a limited production or even where it is made.

Heisenberg comes in 4 sizes, a petite at 4”x43, a corona at 4.75” x 40, a robusto at 5” x 48 and Pyramid at  5.25” x 55.  The prices range from $4.50 to $6.75 and the boxes will contain 10 cigars. According to Terence Reilly at SAG Imports ( the distribution arm for the Quesadas) the idea is to present a cigar to consumers where all preconceived ideas are thrown out and the cigars stand on their own.

While I like the idea, the uncertainty thing is something I experienced before…during the boom when blends changed almost daily.  If you want to see more about that period, check out my article on Rocky Patel  beginning on page 46 in the current JR catalogue. What you don’t have it?  Sign up here or download it here.

There is NO Passion Like that of the Cigar Smoker, by Tommy Zman

Friday, January 11th, 2013

Cigar smoking is one of the most beloved and passionate pastimes I have ever been personally involved with and if you’re a lover of the leaf like myself, you know exactly what I mean by that. If you’re like me, you think about cigars a lot. You live for the end of the day to light up one of your favorite premium sticks and let the troubles of the world fade away in a cloud of heavenly smoke. When the weather’s crappy and you can’t smoke outside, you get cranky and irritable and jones for hours on end for one of your favorite sticks. And when the weather is gorgeous, you think all day about your nightly smoke, the ritual of sitting under the stars with a favorite libation and maybe a good friend to herf with.

It’s hard for me to refer to cigar smoking as a hobby because it really is a pastime woven into the fabric of my very being. Hey, I’m passionate about a lot of things in my life, but nothing really captivates my soul like the entire experience that surrounds cigar smoking. To those who don’t smoke, well, they just don’t have a freakin’ clue. They think what we do is an ungodly and grotesque habit that breeds disease and stinks like foul burning garbage. And to us, it is quite the opposite… pure nirvana, a time to journey within and reflect, a time to revel in the delicious flavor and scent of a blended artisanal product that has been hand crafted for hundreds and hundreds of years.

It’s so weird when you think about it… a cigar is an inanimate object, yet it brings so much personal pleasure and creates unparalleled camaraderie amongst humans. One of the best descriptions of the purpose of a cigar was said so eloquently by my friend, the late artist, LeRoy Neiman. Neiman was ALWAYS seen with a big long fattie hanging from his face (during a time when smoking in public did not label you an outcast or a pariah.) I asked him flat out why he loved cigars so much and his answer was astounding… “Because a cigar is honest.” Wow… a cigar is honest. I had never viewed a premium hand-rolled stick that way before. “There’s nothing remotely pretentious about a cigar, Tommy. You cut it, light it, smoke it, and then it is gone forever. The person smoking it could be pretentious, but the cigar just does the job it was born to do.”

People have written poems and stories about their cigars and there are countless quotes by well-known men through the ages who have boasted of their love affairs with their hand rolled sticks. And no matter how much the oppressors, the smoke Nazi’s and the purveyors of disease and doom try to create worldwide genocide for the tobacco world, the cigar industry is not only stronger than ever, but is producing the best premium sticks that this world has ever seen and tasted.

We cigar smokers are an awesome bunch of individuals and we will fight to the death to protect our liberties and our right to choose to live the way WE choose… we refuse to be controlled by the politically correct turds who think that THEY know what’s best for us with the over-arching goal of saving us all from ourselves.

Do I hear an AMEN from my brothers and sisters of the leaf? You bet your sweet, fat, white ash, I do.

PLEASE SUPPORT Cigar Rights of America as they continue to deal with congress, the senate, and all US legislators who need to be made aware that our cigars are the best friends we know of and we will fight like hell to keep them in our lives! >>

Smoke ‘em cuz ya gottem my friends,


JR Cigars Blog with the Zman

> CLICK HERE to Check out this week’s J•R CIGARS Weekly Special

Gatherings by Frank Seltzer

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Well the weather is getting colder and that leads lots of us to look for warmer climes..there are a couple of gatherings coming up in much warmer weather.  Both are in February.

One is Pro Cigar, which I have written about before.  It is a week long blast in the Dominican Republic and you get to spend time with the cigar makers there.  The week long event is February 17-22.  I will be there and you might want to consider it. The group’s website is found here. The cost for Pro Cigar is $895 and reservation deadline is Feb 6th.


Royal Hawaiian Hotel

It that is a bit too long or too pricey, here is another idea.  Go to Hawaii.  The Endless Summer Cigar Festival is taking place on Sunday February 10th at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki Beach.  The cost for this 4 hour event is $125 and it includes entertainment, a hula show, a full dinner, a silent auction benefiting Operation Homefront Hawaii, which serves Hawaiian veterans, and the chance to hang out with Don Pepin, Jaime Garcia and their families, Pete Johnson, Robert Levin of Ashton and Rocky Patel. You can reserve a spot here…but the tickets are almost gone so do it fast. Not bad, a weekend in Honolulu.

What is interesting about the Endless Summer Cigar Festival is that it also marks the 200th anniversary of when tobacco was cultivated in Hawaii and cigars were made there commercially.  Yup, the big anti-smoking state used to grow tobacco.  According to cigar smoker and Hawaii researcher extraordinaire and Maui friend, Bill Medieros, Don Francisco de Paula Marin was a Spaniard who came to Hawaii around 1793.  He became influential with the monarchy, specifically King Kamehameha 1.  In an old journal Bill found, in 1813 Marin was growing tobacco along with other crops and had been making cigars for sale to the vessels that came to visit the islands.

Today, Hawaii does have a cigar maker –Kauai Cigar Company.  Les Drent, who was profiled in CA’s 20th anniversary edition,  uses tobacco grown  and aged on his Kauai farm for the fillers of his cigars but then he has to ship the tobacco to Nicaragua to have them rolled because of Hawaii’s tax structure.  Les is the primary mover behind the Hawaii cigar event and it is being held in conjunction with the IPCPR and CRA in an effort to lobby the state legislature to impose a 50-cent cap on premium cigars.  Right now in Hawaii, the tax is 50% of the wholesale cost.  I’ll have more on both Pro Cigar and the Endless Summer Cigar Festival in coming weeks.

Consumers at Trade Show?

Speaking of the IPCPR, its trade show is coming up this summer in Las Vegas and the organization is considering a new addition on the last day of the show – a consumer day.  According to the organization’s release—

Each ticket will include a pre-packaged assortment of select cigars purchased by the IPCPR from volunteer manufacturers, as well as a chance to walk the trade show floor to meet and interface with the individuals behind the brands in the industry.

This event will be limited to the first 500 consumers who purchase tickets (ticket price TBD based on cigar selections & cost) Each ticket will include a pre-packaged assortment of select cigars purchased by the IPCPR from volunteer manufacturers, as well as a chance to walk the trade show floor to meet and interface with the individuals behind the brands in the industry.

This event will be limited to the first 500 consumers who purchase tickets (ticket price TBD based on cigar selections & cost)

The reason for the consumer event is to try to raise money for the IPCPR’s lobbying efforts.  The group was very active in the last session of Congress trying to get a bill through that would exempt premium cigars from the FDA’s control.  That bill did not get passed but IPCPR and CRA will try again.

Also the group is fighting state efforts to try to impose smoking bans.

For example, Texas State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Anti Tobacco) already has reintroduced his smoking ban for Texas in the senate. (Remember they never give up.)

Ellis has tried repeatedly to ban smoking everywhere in the state..Austin became the first major Texas city to ban smoking in 2005. Dallas, Houston and San Antonio are part of the 40 cities with smoking bans but that is not good enough for Ellis.  You see many suburbs have NOT banned smoking and are seeing the positive financial results.

“It’ll pass in Austin, Texas. It won’t pass in a conservative state like Texas,” said Bob Woody, president of the East 6th Street Community Association and owner of several Austin bars.

Woody said the Austin ban resulted in a roughly 40 percent decrease in revenue for his properties. Although business has largely recovered since, Woody said it’s still down 15 percent from what it was before the ban.

“There have been no positive effects,” Woody said.

At Players billiards in Pflugerville, the Austin ban doesn’t apply. Smokers are welcome, but a new law isn’t.

“I don’t think that anyone should tell any bar owner how to run their establishment,” said bartender and manager Terri Moebus.

“It’s a bar. People come, they drink, they smoke. If you don’t want to be in that situation, don’t show up,” said Patron Dave Koehn. “I think you ought to have a choice. There ought to be a sign on the front door, ‘This is a smoking establishment, you’ve been warned.’”

Richard Smith, a non-smoker, said the smoke from others doesn’t bother him.

“If it did, I’d go to the bar across the street because there’s no smoking over there,” said Smith. “Most smokers, if the smoke is going your way and they know you don’t smoke, they’ll move their cigarette out of the way. They have respect for non-smokers.”

So fights are coming and your help is needed.

E.P. Carrillo Inch Maduro

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

You know the story… I was browsing the humidor at Ed’s shop, and he pointed out a cigar that he recently started carrying. As you would expect, I buy whatever Ed suggests, and I trust his recommendations. There is no big story behind this blend, and if there is, I’m unaware. So let’s get right to it.


Wrapper: Connecticut Maduro

Binder: Nicaragua

Filler: Dominican, Nicaragua

Size: 5 x 62

Price: Around $7.00


Pre-Smoke & Construction:

The wrapper was a little rugged looking, but had no significant flaws. The odor of the wrapper and foot was very mild and leathery. There were minor inconsistencies when squeezing the cigar, but I wouldn’t consider it a flaw. The pre-light draw was free, with an earthy/leathery flavor.

The ash held for about 1.5 inches, and the burn required no corrections.

1 EPC_Carrillo_Inch_Maduro cigars


The first third opened up with smooth black coffee and wood. Retrohaling revealed an easy cayenne pepper. The aftertaste clung to the palate, and reminded me of cocoa. As I approached the end of this third, cocoa began to dominate over the other flavors.

2 EPC_Carrillo_Inch_Maduro cigars

Cocoa continued to build in the second third. Coffee increased as well, and reminded me of a fancy mocha/coffee concoction that you’d buy at a designer coffee shop. On occasion, the draw would be mostly wood with coffee, with an aftertaste of cocoa. Otherwise, it remained an interesting mixture of mocha and coffee, with a peppery zing through the nose.

3 EPC_Carrillo_Inch_Maduro cigars

The last third kept the same flavor profile at the second third. It may have increased in strength and richness, but otherwise, it was unchanged. This was just fine with me, and I didn’t look forward to putting this smoke down.

4 EPC_Carrillo_Inch_Maduro cigars


As you probably guessed, I really enjoyed this medium to full bodied cigar. The flavors were simple, but that was compensated for in richness. Construction, smoke volume, burn, and flavor were virtually flawless. Let’s not forget to recognize, this was a 62 ring gage, which proves that they all don’t have “Washed out” flavors, as many people claim. A cigar doesn’t have to be a lancero to fire on all cylinders. I will be smoking more of these.

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