Archive for February, 2013

Pro Cigar and Birthday by Frank Seltzer

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Hangover Helper


The week-long Pro Cigar 2013 is over.  Wow what a time it was.  I am not saying anything about the amount of alcohol served during this period but at Corporacion Cigar Export (the home of Augusto Reyes) they had a very special set up for the morning tour….and many people took advantage. (I am not saying who, but you know who you are….and the Bloody Marys were very good.)

While on the subject of Corporation Cigar Export, they do something unique here, the rollers are on salary rather than being paid per piece.  The company believes it gets better results from the rollers this way.


Also, next door is a retreat called Debonaire House much like the Drew Estate Cigar Safari, with the exception that it is much more upscale and intimate.  Some of the rooms are suites and the chef came from New Orleans.  What a nice place for lunch…and I can imagine dinner.

At MATASA in the afternoon, after the tour, Michael Herklots passed out three blends for a new Nat Sherman cigar that the Quesadas are working on.  Herklots used the time for a focus group on the blend, packaging and price for this limited edition, which should hit by the summer trade show.

The White Dinner at the monument in the center of Santiago, is always a special treat.  You overlook the whole city while having a fine dinner.  We were given another pack of cigars, the La Gloria Cubana Rabito as I mentioned before (although it was called Special Blend ADP6) and a Don Carlos Robusto.  We also got the 2012 Limited Edition from EPC and a Davidoff Master Edition.  (Some very nice cigars.)

One Cigar per Day

Friday brought a tour of La Aurora—the oldest cigar factory in the Dominican Republic. Well this factory is not old in fact it is very modern, rather it is the company which began in 1903.  Often people want to take tours of cigar factories and La Aurora used to have a replica factory where it made Preferidos over at Centro Leon.  That factory is gone, and now, the company is opening up its factory to anyone. (If you want a tour, just call them  809-734-2563 and note the usual tour guide only smokes one cigar a day…but it is a 16 inch 1495. ) The biggest addition is a new company store where you can actually purchase La Aurora products and accessories.  The tour of the facility includes everything from the highest end hand rolled cigars to less expensive machine mades (Tatiana flavored cigars some of Altria’s Black and Milds are being made here).

La Aurora is the dominant cigar seller in the Dominican Republic and one of its top sellers it the Principe which is a value brand.

This year also marks another milestone for La Aurora.  3 years ago, the company released the La Aurora 107 to mark that anniversary, and this year, I think I like this better. The company had Dominican rum maker Barcelo come up with a very special 8 year old rum just for La Aurora…the La Aurora 110 Rum.  This rum has the touch of sweetness you expect from Barcelo, but more overtones of vanilla, chocolate and even a bit of orange.  The president of Barcelo—Jose Alberto Garcia- showed us a little trick to drinking this special rum.  Add 3 whole coffee beans and then let the rum warm up for a few minutes.  The coffee beans do not affect the taste per se, instead they add to the aroma and add a hint of coffee to the aftertaste.  It was very unusual and delightful.  The company is only making 3,000 bottles a year—those of us attending the La Aurora tour were presented with one. (If you visit the La Aurora tour gift shop, you can buy one, provided they have not sold out…only 15 bottles a month will be sold.)

Yuri Guillen at Centro Espana


The festival wrapped up Friday night with its Gala Dinner and party at the Centro Espana.  Dinner was terrific and the gala raised nearly $70,000 for Voluntariado de Jesús con los Niños –a non-profit organization to help sick children– and the Sociedad San Vicente de Paul — a retirement home for low income seniors.    Can’t wait until next year.

Happy Birthday Rocky


Today is Rocky Patel’s birthday. (Mine is tomorrow)  Today Rocky is marking his 51st year and to celebrate, he is coming out with a new cigar the ..well the name is Roman Numerals for 2/26 which would look like IIXXVI.  According to the birthday boy himself,

“ We decided to make a cigar for my 51st birthday and the box is a gorgeous lacquered box all white with simple black lettering and roman numerals which spell out 2/26/61.  It is a pretty full-bodied cigar made out of our Nicaraguan factory and it has a broadleaf wrapper and it has Nicaraguan fillers and one leaf from Jamastran and I consider the cigar medium to full very rich.  Price is 12.50 and should come out around March 15. “

Rocky also says they are working on a fuller bodied Xen from his brother Nish which will be out a little later.


Cigars… Anywhere, Anytime, It’s a Love Affair, People, by Tommy Zman

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

“Eating and sleeping are the only activities that should be allowed to interrupt a man’s enjoyment of his cigar.”Mark Twain

Okay, yeah, I admit it, I’m crazy about cigars. Sometimes I’ve gotta  step back and take a look at how much I love cigars and I think I freak myself out a whole lot. How can a person have such a passionate love affair with an inanimate object… one that you actually light on fire, no less? And I guarantee that just about every one of you reading this blog feels the same – and you know it… come on, fess up, this is the Zman you’re talking to…

This is just crazy, I mean did you ever really take the time to stop and think about why we love cigars so much, and why we dedicate so much of the time we spend around their brown and leafy existence? Why the hell are we so intoxicated by the sight and smell of hand rolled leaves? What in the name of God makes us crave its brown and oily complexion, where smoking one to the fingernail is all we can possibly think of at any given moment? Are we mad? Yes, we are madly in love with a burning desire that many have felt, but no one has ever been able to rationally explain.

“My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them.” – Winston Churchill

I believe that cigar smoking is a celebration of life itself and I can tell you with most certainty that there is no greater pleasure in this world than celebrating an event – any event – with a good cigar. Just how many weddings, bachelor parties, births, job promotions, and championships throughout time have been christened with a premium aged, hand rolled cigar – a ritual that is no doubt becoming endangered by the Anti-smoking zealots of this world. And while many of us enjoy a nice smoke on a daily basis, there is something extra rewarding about celebrating a special occasion by firing up a quality smoke from a tobacco producing nation! I often say after a long-hard day of dealing with life’s curve balls and sliders, there’s nothing like enjoy a nice piece of ash.

“A cigar numbs sorrow and fills the solitary hours with a million gracious images.” – Georges Sand

Now I’ve got to say that one of the things that gets my heart throbbing is the arrival of new cigars at my place of premium tobacco purchase. And nothing gets me giddier than our very own site, JR, as there is an absolute plethora of new brands, new blends, and smiling, happy faces… especially mine! I’m tired of hearing from people who are NOT in the know, spouting un-truths that JR only carries the grumpy old-man brands. There is in fact so much new stuff here in JR-land that your head would spin trying to take count. I’m even having trouble keeping up with it all, as it’s my own personal rule that I’ve gotta smoke EVERYTHING and ANYTHING new that we get in stock!

“Fresh air makes me throw up. I can’t handle it. I’d rather be around three cigars blowing in my face all night.” – Frank Sinatra

Okay, that’s about all the love I can take for the time being. I’ll see you next week and as always, smoke ‘em cuz you gottem,


JR Cigars Blog with the Zman

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! >>

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


Special Cigars and Growth by Frank Seltzer

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

One of the things about Pro Cigar is that you always find out about new or special cigars and this year is no exception.  The goodie bags that you get at the welcome included a cutter and lighter by Xikar, a Romeo robusto by Romeo y Julieta, a Vega Fina Sumum, a Davidoff Puro d’Oro and Colorado Claro figurado, Quesada Espana and Oktoberfest, Fuente Opus X Angel’s Share and the company’s new Destino Siglo that marks the first year of the Fuente family’s second century in business.

In addition to these cigars, every night at the party an additional 5 pack is handed out.  Last night we received a Montecristo Number 2, Don Julio, the new Fonseca Cubano Exclusivo, a La Aurora Cien Anos Maduro Edicion Especial and a La Flor Dominicana Unidad.  Tonight will be another assortment as we party under the monument in the center of the town in our white shirts. I know one of the cigars will be a La Gloria Cubana special Rabito de Cochino. Using a beautifully silken Habano wrapper grown in Ecuador over an Ecuador-Sumatran binder and Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers, this 6” x 54 cigar packs a lot of flavor and smoke.

General Cigar Expansion

All of these cigars and others from the Dominican Republic show why despite the smoking bans and tax increases, the industry here is continuing to expand.  Yup, you got it right, they are expanding.   Starting with Imperial Tobacco’s Tabacalera de Garcia in La Romana where 150 new rollers are being trained this week to increase the factory’s output (make no mistake – the training takes much longer than a week but it is going on as I write this). Yesterday, I noted the expansion of La Flor Dominicana and in my trip to General Cigar, you could not help but notice the additional rollers with more on the way.  Since the beginning of the year, the factory has hired 250 new employees with more openings waiting to be filled.  The production has increased from about 70-thousand cigars a day up to one hundred thousand according to Jhonys Diaz of General Cigar.

Despite all the buzz around Nicaraguan cigars, the Dominician Republic remains the number one producer of premium cigars for the United States, and at a news conference with the members of Pro Cigar, the numbers showed the D.R. maintains about a 2:1 lead over other countries.  About 127-million premium cigars were imported into the United States last year from the Dominican Republic (through November 2012).  While the cigar market in the U-S is growing modestly, Europe is flat and Asia is seeing more increases.  Looking at the future, the cigar makers are optimistic (hence the hiring) but they are also aware of potential challenges which is why Pro Cigar is working closely with the Cigar Rights of America, International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association and other groups to present a unified voice in opposition to keep the FDA out of the humidor.

The group also is working in Australia to fight the plain packaging laws there which might become a bigger issue in the US and Europe should the anti’s prevail.  The deal in Australia is that you cannot sell tobacco in anything other than a plain vanilla package which will have everyone looking alike.  That would mean “bye bye” artwork on the boxes.  Pro Cigar is fighting it on the grounds that it infringes on their trademarks.

Finally on a lighter note, yesterday Karoma coffee held a cigar/coffee tasting seminar.  The hour long session of course provided coffee but tons of information about the pairings.  In a nutshell here is the result, for a cigar with sweet undertones like a Maduro or the Don Carlos with its Cameroon wrapper, you’ll want to use a lighter roast.  For more full-bodied cigars, a darker roast or espresso with a slight bitterness is a better match.

Off to more factories…enjoy your day…I know I will.  (As a side note met a few people from the J-R retail side and we have been having a blast.)

Jet 1300-C Butane Lighter

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Call this post filler material, but I figured a little blurb couldn’t hurt. Read on…

Back in December of 2012, I was sent this lighter by a frequent visitor to the site. You may recognize him as JJO. I should mention, he included some cigars too.

If you do a quick Google search, you can find this for $3.00, shipping included.


Price: Around $3.00

Single Flame Torch

Obtained 12/1/2012

1 Jet_1300C_Butane_Lighter Cigars

One thing I really like is the clear fuel reservoir. It holds a lot of butane that lasts for weeks. There is no guesswork here.

4 Jet_1300C_Butane_Lighter Cigars 

This lighter is nothing complicated or special. On the bottom is a flame height adjustment screw. It takes a little experimenting, but once dialed in, you don’t have to mess with it. There is a safety lock on the ignition button, and a lever on the side, which locks the flame in the on position. There is also an included base, should you use this torch for jewelry soldering, for example.

3 Jet_1300C_Butane_Lighter Cigars

The single flame works quite well, and it is very focused. I can light any ring gage cigar with no issue. Sure, a 65 ring gage Oktoberfest will take some time, but it gets the job done.

2 Jet_1300C_Butane_Lighter Cigars

Perhaps the most inconvenient feature is the little flame nozzle cover, which is attached via a chain. It really hasn’t been an issue for me though.



This is my favorite lighter now. It’s simple, reliable (so far), and cheap. If it breaks, or I lose it, who cares? I intend to keep a few of these around, because I have given up on high dollar lighters. I’ve had bad luck with all of them. Seriously, I’m done!

I now use this lighter, along with this table torch. Yep, a $3.00 lighter, and a $20.00 crème brulee torch from Bed Bad and Beyond, have out done all mainstream “Premium” lighters I have ever owned.

Thanks again to JJO for the smokes, and this great little lighter!

UPDATE: You can find the lighter here (As JJO mentioned in a comment).

Pro Cigar Continues (New Cigars and New Digs) by Frank Seltzer

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Yesterday’s post was actually written before we arrived in Santiago…I admit I was cheating but with the Internet here you never know.  On the flight from Miami on Sunday, I spoke with Ernesto Perez-Carrillo who confirmed he was making a new cigar for Crowned Heads.  This is the Nashville-based company co-founded by Jon Huber formerly with CAO.  The cigar will be the J.D.Howard Reserve, who is better known by his alias of Jesse James.  According to Greg Mottola at Cigar Aficionado, Huber says Howard used to live in Nashville and he was intrigued.  The new cigar will come in 5 sizes but the price and boxes and bands have yet to be finalized.  The cigar should be ready for the industry trade show this summer.

Food and Beer in Santiago

So upon arrival in Santiago we met with Manolo Quesada who took us to a new beer bar (VinoBeber) which served an amazing selection, and had a nice outdoor smoking area.  The beer that impressed us the most was the Dogfish Head Miles Davis Bitches Brew (made at a small brewery in Milton, Delaware).  Released in 2010 to mark the 40th anniversary of Davis’s landmark album Bitches Brew,  it is an Imperial Stout mixed with a Honey Beer.  Amazing flavors as it warms up.  Who would have thought you come to Santiago to get a small han- crafted American beer. We also discovered a new restaurant not far from the hotel called La Comai (not sure of the spelling) but they served a full pound of Mofongo with fantastic Chicharrones for about 6 bucks…and it is probably the best Mofongo I have ever had.

On Monday, Manolo took us to his new factory in Licey.  I say new because they moved in a year ago, and since I was forced to cancel last year’s trip.

The factory has plenty of room now, compared to the original MATASA factory in the free trade zone.  I will officially tour the place later this week and will report more about it then.  On Tuesday night, about 60 people who spent the first couple of days at Casa de Campo in La Romana for the official start of the festival made the 5 hour bus ride to Santiago. A total of 250 people are signed up for the festival. At La Romana the participants spent a day golfing, or on the beach on Monday and then Tuesday morning they toured Tabacalera de Garcia—home to Altadis USA.

Fonseca Cubano Exclusivo

At Pro Cigar, a few of the factories often introduce new cigars and this year is no exception.  The Quesadas are unveiling their new Fonseca Cubano Exclusivo.  For years, the Fonseca brand has been on the mild end of the cigar spectrum.  The primary exception was the Cubana Limitada which had much more strength for the advanced smoker’s palate.  This new Fonseca is a middle ground for the brand.

While in the mild to medium range, it presents a fuller flavor so it is approachable for the novice while delivering a lot of taste for the more serious smoker.  Using Dominican HVA (Havana Vuelta Arriba) wrapper over a Dominican binder and Connecticut broadleaf, Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers.  The cigar will ship next month in four sizes, Robusto (5.5” x 52), Corona Gorda (6 x 46), Belicoso (6.5” x 52) and Gordo (6.5”x 60).  The prices have yet to be determined.

New Digs

Litto Gomez

For Litto Gomez at La Flor Dominicana one of the newest members of Pro Cigar, his mind has not been on the festival.  Instead Litto has been working on a major expansion of his factory in Tamboril.  About 3 months ago, he was able to acquire the land next door to the factory and in that short period he was able to clear the land and construct new buildings giving him a lot more space.  Now, La Flor Dominicana has room for its tobacco storage (although not all of the tobacco is here some remains in a warehouse).  Litto has been concerned not only with the physical aspects of the construction, but also the aesthetics.  The results are beautiful.

His new expanded factory also has much more room for the rollers who now are producing about 3 million cigars a year.  Litto says once the construction is totally complete, he will focus on new cigars for this year…but he admits that his big push will come NEXT year when La Flor Dominicana turns 20.

Pro Cigar Underway by Frank Seltzer

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013


Pro Cigar 2013

Well the big cigar party in the Dominican Republic is underway.  It began over the weekend in La Romana where participants came in to begin the week long smoke event and today will tour Tabacalera de Garcia—Altadis USA’s huge factory that makes Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo and others.

The annual festival, now in its 6th year, is a chance for cigar smokers to visit the factories, fields and generally hang out with some of your favorite cigar makers.

Pro Cigar is the Dominican group that represents all the major cigar manufacturers on the island. It works to promote the Dominican Republic as Cigar Country making the finest cigars in the world, as well as working on issues that would affect the business. I say all because just a week ago it was announced that Litto Gomez and Ernesto Perez Carrillo have joined the organization.

This means that the trade group represents Altadis USA with its above named brands and factory, General Cigar (maker of Macanudo, Cohiba and La Gloria Cubana among others), La Aurora (maker of La Aurora, Leon Jimenes and Guillermo Leon), MATASA (maker of the Quesada lines and Fonseca), Tabadom Holdings (maker of Davidoff, Zino and Avo), Tabacalera  A. Fuente y Cia (Fuente, Opus X),Tabaquisa (Juan Clemente), Corporacion Cigar Export ( Augusto Reyes) and now La Flor Dominicana and EPC Cigars.

The fun in Santiago kicks off tonight and then continues to build until the big gala dinner on Friday.  We’ll bring you further reports on this.

Diplomatic Help

No doubt Pro Cigar was a big factor in letters that were sent to the FDA, State Department and White House from the ambassadors of the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua warning about the damage to their respective economies should the FDA begin to regulate cigars.

The letter says

“If history is any precedent, some of the regulations that could be imposed by the agency would prove disastrous to the centuries old cigar industry that provides more than 350,000 jobs among our three nations, and represents millions of dollars in export revenue. No regulatory measure should threaten such jobs, and hence raise the specter of political and economic consequences within our region.”

Whether anyone at the FDA can read is another matter.

FDA Will Rule

It was the present delivered to anti tobacco advocates right before Christmas…the administration’s Unified Agenda and Regulatory Plan…it covered everything from workplace safety to you got it tobacco regulation.  On December 21, the FDA indicated it would issue rules by April subjecting additional tobacco products to its control.  According to Troutman Sanders law firm:

What is clear is that while the FDA has not issued a specific proposal to regulate cigars, pipe tobacco, electronic cigarettes or other tobacco products, it has indicated it intends to take some action. This proposed rule seems to lay the foundation for the FDA to take that action. What is also clear, is that the Obama Administration continues to place tobacco regulation as one of its priorities for the next four years.

And that could be a major problem for cigar makers.  Even Roll Call agrees that something is coming up soon.  But of course moronic democrats like California’s Henry Waxman are pushing the FDA hard on tobacco…including cigars because, you know, it is for the children.

 “I’m pleased to see the FDA has begun to enforce the law. I continue to call on them to take forceful action to protect the public health with the authority given to them,” Waxman said in a statement. “We need to take action to stop tobacco companies from exploiting loopholes and continuing to addict youth.”

Yeah like banning flavoring in tobacco except the most popular one…menthol cuz the President smokes that.  Right.  Hypocrite.

New Bill

IPCPR announced that on Friday the 15th, a new bill was introduced in Congress to protect premium cigars. There were 12 co-sponsors initially this time…

Reps. Bill Posey (R-FL) and Kathy Castor (D-FL) introduced H.R. 792, the ‘‘Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2013.” This legislation is a crucial step forward in protecting the premium cigar retail industry from undue regulation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) aiming “[t]o amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to clarify the Food and Drug Administration’s jurisdiction over certain tobacco products, and to protect jobs and small businesses involved in the sale, manufacturing and distribution of traditional and premium cigars”.

We had a lot of co-sponsors last time (221) but need more to get it through.  As Rocky Patel told me last weekend in Hawaii, after spending the week in Washington, because of some language changes, “I think we are going to get a lot of momentum.  We have not lost one congressman as sponsor from the last session and we are going to pick more up.  We are making a real push this year and want to get about 300 sponsors,  At that point we can attach to bill to a vehicle that will move through Congress.”

Let your voice be heard! Contact your legislator here and urge them to support H.R. 792!

Ezra Zion Inception (AKA Jamais Vu)

Monday, February 18th, 2013

The cigar up for review is distributed by Emilio. If I am right, I think the Inception is now known as the Jamais Vu. You can find more information from their website. What caught my interest was the blend, as well as the double binder. I obtained a couple samples from Gary, of Emilio Cigars.


Wrapper: 1999 Cuban Seed, 2007 Crop, corojo

Binders #1: 1999 Cuban Seen, 2007 Crop, Corojo

Binder #2: 1998 Cuban Seed, 2006 Crop, Criollo

Filler: 1999 Cuban Seed, 2997 Crop, Medio Tiempo, Visio, and Ligero

Size: Gran Robusto 50 x 5.25

Price: ?


Pre-Smoke & Construction

The wrapper looked good, with some small to medium veins, and a mild earthy smell. The cigar was rock solidly packed, with minor soft spots here and there. The draw had resistance, but fell within my tolerances. The pre-light flavor was a mild cedar.

The ash held for about an inch, and the burn required around five minor corrections.

1 Ezra_Zion_Inception_Jamais_Vu cigars


The first third had a nice peppery spice, along with black coffee. At about an inch, mild cedar crept into the flavor profile. The smoke was thick and almost creamy. Cocoa joined in as I progressed out of this third.

2 Ezra_Zion_Inception_Jamais_Vu cigars

The second third had a dominant cocoa flavor, and coffee followed behind it. Cedar and earthy notes were in the background. The smoke feel was smooth and creamy. Peppery spice went down a notch in terms of strength. The tingly, spicy aftertaste stuck to the lips for a minute or two.

3 Ezra_Zion_Inception_Jamais_Vu cigars

The last third flip flopped between cocoa and coffee. I could barely detect pepper when retrohaling, but it was noticeable in the aftertaste, on the lips.

4 Ezra_Zion_Inception_Jamais_Vu cigars


This was a very good medium to full bodied cigar. It was complex enough to hold my interest, slow burning, and well balanced. At the time of this review, I couldn’t get a price point, so I can’t factor that in. If it is within my comfort zone, I could see myself smoking more of these.

I Thank the Heavens for My Beloved Nighttime Cigar, by Tommy Zman

Friday, February 15th, 2013

I never can understand how anyone can not smoke—it deprives a man of the best part of life … with a good cigar in his mouth a man is perfectly safe, nothing can touch him—literally. ~ Thomas Mann (1875-1955) German author, critic

In these upside down, tumultuous times we live in, it seems that only a cigar could bring about an evening with such warm passion and fond, lasting memories . The cigar is simply the world’s most incredible relation and bonding tool. The alluring scent and ritualistic lighting and puffing can make the average night great, and a great night unforgettable. It is times like these that I am so grateful that I smoke fine cigars. I am so grateful that I have come to know the wonders of aged tobacco from far away lands basking in warm tropical breezes and indigenous island palms. No matter if strolling the Manhattan skyline or relaxing on your back deck, casting flies into a stream or a game of Texas Hold ‘Em with the guys, the cigar in your hand is the common thread that brings it all together.

I’ve found that there is absolutely NOTHING that can relieve the pressure’s and monotony of a long, hard work  day than tilting your head back and lighting up a premium hand rolled cigar. It almost doesn’t even matter how bad your day was because only five minutes into your ritual, your mind will unravel and your body will begin to melt into a state of euphoric relaxation. As the ash grows at the end of your stick and you watch the blue swirling smoke ascend into the heavens, there is NOTHING that can do you any harm at that moment. You are invincible to the chaos of the surrounding world as a force field of tobacco goodness keeps you safe from harms way.

I have often said that no $150 an hour session with a shrink or horse pill he would prescribe could replace what my nightly cigar does for me. I have read many of the books from the great positive thinkers and gurus of happiness, and while much of their advice has been beneficial to my well being, nothing transports my mind, body, and soul into to a state of sheer content than my Partagas, Perdomo, or Punch… NOTHING.

Now, in today’s world where so many are offended by our love for the cigar, great times may become fewer and far between. There are those in our political system who wish to eradicate smoking to the point of prohibition, and as history has shown us, that sort of thing never goes over very well. Human nature kind of says – tell someone they can’t have something and they want it all the more. We as a group – a brotherhood – need to stick together and do whatever possible to keep safe the hobby we love and cherish. We must defend the right to smoke our cigars at all cost because our relaxation and sanctity of life depends on it.

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

50th is First by Frank Seltzer

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Endless Summer Cigar Festival

Hawaii may be our 50th state, but right now it is leading the way in the fight against cigars.  The Hawaii Cigar Association is working  for a decrease in cigar taxes.  Right now, Hawaii charges 50 percent of wholesale cost in tax and the group is pushing for a 50 cent per cigar cap.  The hearing on the bill is today.


To raise awareness of their efforts and to raise a little money for their efforts, this past weekend the group held the Endless Summer Cigar Festival.   The festival itself was held on Sunday night, but before that industry leaders and Hawaiian consumers met with legislators to talk about the bill. It was a full court press by the group and it flooded the committee with testimonies from hundreds interested Hawaii consumers.


On Friday, the group had a meet and greet with legislators, Jeff Borysiewicz – the chairman of the Cigar Rights of America—explained to those who came by the differences between mass made and premium cigars. Alas, the event was upstaged by a near-by hearing on an anti-paparazzi bill featuring Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwod Mac.  On the bright side Steven Tyler took a cigar.


Saturday was a rest day for the group with a casual barbecue at Pearl Harbor.  But Sunday was the main event open to the public.  About 250 cigar smokers from the islands and a few from the mainland came to the Royal Hawaiian hotel on Waikiki beach Sunday evening to eat, smoke and spend time with Rocky Patel; Pepin , Jaime and Janny Garcia from My Father Cigars; Robbie Levin from Ashton and Pete Johnson from Tatuaje.  There also were representatives from Oliva Cigars and General Cigars. The leader of the event was Les Drent—owner of Kauai Cigar Company, yes there is a cigar maker in Hawaii.  Drent grows tobacco on Kauai and rolls his cigars in Nicaragua (the taxes are way too high to do it in Hawaii which is one reason he is fighting this fight.


The festival also raised money for Operation HomeFront Hawaii that directly helps Hawaiian veterans and wounded warriors.  On Monday, more testimony was given to the legislature and then today was the hearing.  The members of the group are optimistic.  The group also is keeping an eye on bills that would expand the state’s current smoking ban to include state parks, beaches and privately owned condos as well as another that actually would allow bars to permit smoking.  These bills are unlikely to pass but the tax cap has a very good chance.


This is what states need to do is organize at the local level to fight the efforts of the other side.  Both the C-R-A and IPCPR can help.

More Flor

Pepin and Jaime Garcia

In talking with Jaime and Pepin Garcia,  I found out that the factory has been working extremely hard on filling orders for their Flor de las Antilias. The toro was the cigar named cigar of the year by Cigar Aficionado and when that happens, factories cannot keep up with demand and backorders happen.  Often it takes months to climb back out.  Fortunately, we still have some just not the Toro yet.  (Although the other sizes are exceptional as well.) Jaime and Janny say that by the end of the month, most of the back orders should be gone and the cigars would be available again.  That certainly is good news.



Pete Joins Boy Band

Pete ready to tour



One other bit, Pete Johnson usually attends Pro Cigar in the Dominican Republic next week….but this year he is not going to make it.  The reason?  He is going on tour. The former bass player and current cigar rock star is going big time on Mark Cuban’s jet as he tours South America starting next week with real rock stars.  He will be in Mexico, Chile, Brazil and other countries.  No he is not paying for this one, instead he is joining a few of his customers as they tour. And you would probably never guess who.






Bye Shreve

It is tough when you lose someone you have known almost since birth.  My buddy Shreve Davis passed away this weekend.   (His name comes from a family name of Captain Shreve who founded Shreveport, LA. even though this Shreve was born and bred New Jersey.)We grew up together and stayed friends throughout  school,  jobs, moves, weddings and divorces and many many years. …too many to count here.  Shreve enjoyed occasional cigars, he was still learning about them but had really taken to the camaraderie found in cigar stores.  He passed too soon. RIP buddy.

Old Man Winter Don’t Like My Cigars, by Tommy Zman

Friday, February 8th, 2013

You know, I admit that I do tend to write about the weather a lot, but it seems there really is a lot to talk about these days. I know that I’m always griping about it being too hot or too cold or too wet, yada, yada, yada. But hey, living in New Jersey, I think I had a right to bitch about Sandy, so cut me a little slack, huh?

The weather really does effect smoking conditions for us who are in lust with the Latin leaf, and the north east has certainly dealt with some serious cold this Winter, making it virtually impossible to enjoy a good long smoke. Trust me, I’ve got a heater in the garage but it just doesn’t do a whole lot, and it’s just no fun when the important body parts start to go numb on ya… come on, bro, please don’t make me spell this one out, huh?

Now I admit, I do force myself to get outside and toast up many of the gars I loaded up on from the JR Catalog and website over the holidays. I mean, I got SO MUCH good stuff that I can only open the lid to my 200 humidors so long before I just bite the bullet to go stand outside and look like a smoking popsicle. I’ll get three of my stogie loving buddies to join me in my quest, as we huddle around a fire pit as my neighbors refer to us as the frozen four. A little rum, a little scotch and a nice big ash Nicaraguan maduro is certainly a beautiful thing, but when those important parts start freezing up, it’s time for thawing out inside.

And now it’s Thursday as I write this blog on the eve of yet another storm that is to blanket the entire north east with a ton of the flaky white stuff. I hate when they use the word “blizzard” as there have been a ton of false alarms in the past, but I can tell you that after that bitch Sandy rolled through these parts, there isn’t a soul who’s taking any predicted storm lightly.

For me in north western New Jersey, the weather geeks are saying six inches to a foot, but they’re calling for 2 feet up around Boston and up to 3 feet up in Maine! Damn, I hope we’re all spared from this crap, but just in case, I stocked up on bottled water and firewood and we’ll get some food supplies tonight even thought I’m sure the supermarket has been pretty much raided. Of course you’ve gotta top off the gas tanks, and good thing we did with the last storm as the gas shortage was just awful for two weeks.

But from this blog’s perspective, it really is important that you have your good cigars picked out and ready for smoking in case you become a housebound hermit for a few days. During Sandy we had no power for a week and we had an electric stove which I told Mrs. Zman NOT TO BUY, but noooooo, what do my opinions count. So just a few weeks ago we purchased a gas stove and a shit load of fire wood so hopefully we can ride out any outages… good God I do not want to go through that again.

So that’s it from the frozen tundra of Sopranos country as we brace for another snow covered slamfest. I’ve got the 12 year old scotch ready, and a bevy of hand rolled happy sticks as my ammunition.

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

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