Archive for March, 2013

C & C Loose Cannon 1206

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

While out and about recently, I randomly came across a cigar shop that I never heard of. Needless to say, the guy just bought the place, and he was turning it into a pretty nice looking joint. A good sized humidor, lounge, wifi, and plenty of TV’s were all in the works. Oh, and the guy was more than helpful. Either that, or he thought I was shoplifting. If you’re in the  Largo, FL area, it’s worth a visit. Check his website for more info. On to the cigar!


Wrapper: Sumatra

Binder: Dominican

Filler: Dominican

Size: Robusto 5 x 50

Price: $4.79


Pre-Smoke & Construction:

The wrapper looked very nice, with small veins, and no real flaws to speak of. For anyone new around here, this may sound bad, but the wrapper had a distinct smell of barnyard. Yes, I mean animal poop. Don’t be fooled, this usually doesn’t indicate a bad smoking experience. The cigar was very firm to the touch, and the draw had slight resistance. The pre-light draw reminded me of hay.

1 C&C_Loose_Cannon_1926 cigars


The first third had no build up. It was a pretty even mixture of cedar, pepper, earth, and maybe a touch of black coffee. The smoke volume was thick, and had a dry feel.

2 C&C_Loose_Cannon_1926 cigars

The second third had the exact same flavors as the first. The only difference was a slight increase in strength, and a creamy smoke feel.

3 C&C_Loose_Cannon_1926 cigars

The last third had a nice mixture of flavor. In this order, black coffee, cedar, mild pepper, and nuts. The smoke feel was thick, and the finish stuck around for awhile.

4 C&C_Loose_Cannon_1926 cigars


This was a good little medium bodied cigar. As I often say, there was nothing new or special brought to the table. That’s fine with me, I don’t need that all of the time. This would be a good lunch smoke, or even breakfast.

New CAO, TaxCap for Arkansas and Become a Blender (Cigar not drinks) by Frank Seltzer

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

CAO Brazilia Carnivale

CAO has had the Brazilia line for a while, but now they are getting into the bigger ring gauges with the addition of the Carnivale.  It is a 6.5”x 60 box pressed cigar being introduced now in a limited quantity. Carnivale differs from the usual Brazilia in that the wrapper is not Brazilian, this time it is the binder.  The fillers are ligeros from the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua and the wrapper is Habano Grueso which is grown in very small quantities, which is why the cigar is limited.


Ricky Rodriguez heads up the blending for CAO and he said:

“We haven’t changed any CAO blends since we took over the brand. But that doesn’t mean we couldn’t put our spin on one of them. That’s exactly what we did with Carnivale…it’s my and my team’s take on Brazilia. We added a new wrapper, made the original wrapper the binder, and cranked the whole thing up with more ligero.”


The Carnival comes in a bright yellow box with 12 cigars and a suggested retail price of $8.30 each.  Rick also hinted, according to the release, that the CAO team may be making tweaks to other CAO lines in the future. Stay Tuned.

Be a Blender


Speaking of CAO, the company about a year or so ago, gave consumers the chance to pick a blend.  The company offered a sample with three cigars only designated with the letters C, A, and O.  The idea was for you to smoke them and then report back on which blend you liked.  I forget which one won…but this concept of having actual cigar smokers trying out blends it still going strong.

Today, MATASA –  makers of the Quesada and Fonseca lines – have out a sampler which contains 8 cigars…6 of which are on the market and two samples of a test blend.  The Quesada family wants smokers to try them and let them know how the samples stack up against their other blends ( the Jalapa, the España and Tributo blends.)  If enough people like the samples, they will go into production.


Rafael Nodal of Boutique Blends Cigars is going one step further.  Nodal, who passed through town last week and is known for SWAG and Aging Room cigars, is planning on releasing what he calls the “Wild Pack” in June.  Nodal released the Aging Room M 356 in 2011.  The way that blend happened was that he and his partners (Jochy Blanco and Hank Bishoff) were originally looking for a blend for SWAG when they happened on this one.  They loved it, but the next day, Jochy said there was not enough of that tobacco for a major release.  A bunch of the cigars using the blend were made and then just kept in the Aging Room at the factory.  When people came to visit, they would always ask Rafael what he was smoking and he’d say get a cigar from The Aging Room…hence the name.  The number M-356 is the blend, made on a Monday on the 356th day of the year.


At any rate, Rafael had the idea to play with other limited tobaccos for new Aging Room blends.  Last year was the Quattro F55 (it was made on a Friday) and this year it will be the M 21.  But the Wild Pack will be 5 different blends—all for Aging Room.  They were the finalists and Nodal wants the customers to decide which one should be released next.  (Probably late this year or early next whenever the M-351 finally runs out.)  He will be putting up his tasting sheet on the net and ask smokers to evaluate the 5 cigars and pick which one they like best.  So if you’ve ever wanted to help pick a blend, this is your chance.  Look for the Wild Pack around June.


Good News


The IPCPR has been busy on many state fronts and their latest victory is in Arkansas. Right now, Arkansas had a tax of 68% of wholesale cost for cigars which meant a $10 cigar becomes almost $17.  But thanks to the hard work of the state’s retailers, the IPCPR and the Cigar Association of America the new tax will cap out at 50 cents per cigar. A much better rate for consumers.  The legislation passed the state house 87 to 1 and just passed the state senate 34-0. The Governor signed the bill this morning and it goes effect October first.  Congrats to all.




Bloomberg just keeps stepping in it.  On the Sunday shows apparently the Mayor proved he never read the Constitution, or if he did he did not understand it.  In talking about his soda ban hizzonor said:

“I do think there are certain times we should infringe on your freedom,” Mr. Bloomberg said, during an appearance on NBC.

 This guy really is a moron. But an even bigger moron exists…


Meet California freshman assemblyman Marc Levine from San Rafael.  He has introduced legislation that would CRIMINALIZE someone smoking in his or her home. This was too much even for Santa Monica, where the city council voted to oppose this nonsense.


Assembly Bill 746, which would, as City staff phrased it, prohibit smoking in all indoor areas of multi-family dwellings, including within the units of existing tenants otherwise protected by rent control and/or other local housing security and stability measures.

Non-compliance with the smoking prohibition would make smokers subject to eviction.

Nice make someone a criminal AND homeless all in one fell swoop.  No wonder even Santa Monica could not take this.  Of course being Kalifornia, the Santa Monica opposition was only to the bill as written.  If it is amended to provide more protections for renters they could change their opposition.

Esteban Carreras Covenant

Monday, March 25th, 2013

My pal Ed had an Esteban Carreras event recently. Naturally, this meant I had to pick a few up. The Covenant is a fairly new release (to me). Considering my lack of reviews lately, it became my random choice for today. Let’s get to it…


Wrapper: Habano Oscuro

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler: Nicaraguan

Size: Toro 6 x 54

Price: $7.95


Pre-Smoke & Construction:

The wrapper was velvety smooth, and had an odor of earth and barnyard. Overall, the cigar was evenly packed, and very soft when squeezed. This led to a draw that was very free. The pre-light draw had a simple earthy flavor.

Esteban_Carreras_Covenant cigars Tunnel

True to many box pressed cigars, the burn required quite a few minor corrections. In the first third, there was a tunnel in the center of the cigar. Luckily it was short lived, but made getting smoke difficult for about a half of an inch. Thankfully, this only happened on one cigar, the others were fine. The ash held for just over an inch.

1 Esteban_Carreras_Covenant cigars


The first third started out with smooth earthiness. In short order, the smoke feel became creamy and sweet. Retrohaling revealed an easy, peppery spice. Simple, but not bad at all.

2 Esteban_Carreras_Covenant cigars

The second third saw a decrease in creaminess. This allowed the sweet spice to stand out. Earthiness fell to the background, and was replaced by nuts and creamy coffee.

3 Esteban_Carreras_Covenant cigars

The spice became sweet and creamy in the last third. Not the burn your face off spice, just smooth, sweet, and with a  little kick. Like before, nuts and creamy coffee followed behind. Earthiness pretty much went away completely.

4 Esteban_Carreras_Covenant cigars


This was a good medium to upper medium bodied cigar. It started out fairly bland, but quickly built in strength and complexity. The loose packed nature of this cigar made me skeptical, but it turned out to be no problem. While there was really nothing unique or special, I think it’s still worth a try.

My Big fat Jewish Passover Blog by Steve Nathan

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Moses Malone

For all of our Jewish cigar-smoking friends (which is about 99% of you), Monday at sundown down is the first night of the Passover holiday. And for eight crazy days, the Jewish people celebrate Passover as a commemoration of their liberation over 3,300 years ago by God from slavery in ancient Egypt and their birth as a nation under the leadership of Moses Malone, the legendary basketball Hall-of-Famer who played 19 years in the NBA. Wait! I’m confusing him with the original Moses (Charlton Heston)! Oy, I had a bad knish for lunch and I’m feeling a little verklempthere. Sorry!


Well, as I mentioned, it is estimated that 999 out of 1,000 Jewish men smoke cigars. Why, you ask? Because this gives them something to chew on while their yenta wives are nagging them for the Gold card so they can take the Caddy and go shopping at Bloomie’s




Oh, quit complaining! I know this is a stereotype, but I too am, as they say, “a member of the tribe,” so I have the right to make fun of my people… plus it’s fun! Some folks even call me a self-hating Jew because I poke fun at my peeps and I haven’t been to temple since my Bar Mitzvah. Actually, my parents took me one other time after I officially became a mensch(man). It was on a fateful Rosh Hashanah in 1970 when, right in the middle of the service, Abe Weintraub started passing wind until he cleared out all of aisle six (our aisle). Rumor has it that until his dying day, Abe swore it was the man sitting next to him.


So what the hell does this have to do with cigars? You want I should explain? Well, for one thing, Abe was a big Dutch Masters smoker, and secondly (have patience), I’m getting to the cigar part already. Jeez, you guys are driving me meshuggah (crazy)!




Let me give all you goyim (non-Jews) a brief rundown of the traditional spread that is celebrated on this holiday. The Passover Seder is a Jewish ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover, and is conducted on the evenings of the 14th day of Nisan (not to be confused with the company that makes the Altima and Sentra) in the Hebrew calendar, and on the 15th by traditionally observant Jews living outside of Israel or Bayonne, New Jersey. Why Bayonne? Who knows?

Seder customs include drinking four cups of wine, eating matzo and partaking of symbolic foods such as horseradish, apples, nuts and lamb (coincidentally, these are some of the exact same flavor notes found on most cigars rated by Cigar Aficionado!). All of these symbolic foods are elegantly and traditionally placed on the Passover Seder table. There is a lot more to this ritual custom, but this is a blog not Hebrew School and, honestly, that’s all I know. Don’t forget that, although I am very proud of my culture, I have not attended a Jewish service since that fateful day when Weintraub cut the cheese.


Anyway, the Seder is performed in much the same way by Jews all over the world (except, oddly enough, in Ethiopia, where the women retreat to the den to watch Jeopardy! and the men line up outside on the porch and do the Harlem Shake. Why? Once again, I don’t know).


As all lovers of the leaf will acknowledge, after a lip-smacking Seder and four glasses of Manischewitz wine (which, in my opinion, tastes like a mixture of prune juice and paint thinner), nothing cleanses the palate like a good cigar. So now, fellow landsman (that’s what we Jews call each other. Just Google it; I’m getting tired of explaining everything! Enough already), is the perfect time to get out the stun gun so you can pry your credit card out of your wife’s sweaty hands and place an order with J•R for some fine Passover cigars.


Oh, and a special thanks to the Alec Bradley Company, which has made a very limited-edition Passover cigar just like they did on St. Paddy’s day with the Filthy Hooligan. This one is called Filthy Bernstein and it’s a solid, earthy smoke with subtle hints of gefilte fish, lox and pickled herring. Hurry… because this cigar doesn’t really exist! So I lied, shoot me!


On a serious note, may you all have a wonderful and blessed holiday. Enjoy good food, family, friends and some fine cigars. Chag Pesach Sameach! Happy Passover from our family at J•R to yours.


Give Ireland Back To The Irish… Please! by Steve Nathan

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

So, Sunday was St. Patrick’s day. Oh, what a glorious day for the Irish! As the saying goes, there are only two kinds of people in the world: the Irish and those with healthy livers.


Alright, calm down! I was only kidding; some of my best friends are Irish and not all of them are drunks. In fact, one of them only drinks a case of beer on the weekends. Sheesh, everybody is so politically correct these days!


And why the hell would you Tri-Staters want to spend the day in the Big Apple, crowded in like a herd of cattle stuffed behind police lines, watching the big parade and then navigating past the throngs of pimply white kids in green plastic hats puking up cheap whiskey all over Times Square to get back to your car or train?


The good folks in “Nawf Carolina,” where everyone has a friend named Bubba and even toddlers know how to drive

Filthy Hooligan Display

tractors, had a much more relaxing day at the World’s Largest Cigar Store because right here at good old J•R Cigars in the heart of County Alamance, from March 6 until St.Puketricks Day, March 17, we featured a fantastic deal on the Alec Bradley Cigar Company’s brand-new, limited-edition candela-wrapped Filthy Hooligan cigar, which is made with the same well-aged multination blend and double binder used in the extremely popular Black Market line.


This 6.00 x 50 cigar is finished with super-lush, super-green candela leaf straight from the renowned Plasencia farms in Nicaragua, which is just a short 5,034 miles from Dublin, Ireland! And with any purchase of these great cigars, we gave away all kinds of cool stuff like bottle openers, cutters, t-shirts, mugs, Irish hookers and lime -green Rascal scooters for our elderly clientele (actually, I’m not sure about the hookers and scooters; maybe I made that part up).


But for all of you that chose salty corned beef and green beer over a trip to J•R, not to worry; we still have plenty of these Filthy Hooligan cigars in stock sans holiday swag. And whatever you think about candela (green) cigars (and I’m sure it somehow correlates to the taste of raw lettuce or lawnmower clippings), I ask that you give these a try. The nice folks at Alec Bradley have put the long-forgotten green stick (again I use that stupid word) back on the map with these yummy smokes! You will be amazed at how good these cigars taste. And trust me, they had to put a gun to my head to smoke one!


Enough of the shameless advertising, you say? Well, guys, this is a J•R blog, for Chrissakes! We gotta pay the bills, you know!


Big Italian Nick

On a more serious note: Being a swarthy curmudgeon of Russian descent, I feel no real connection to this festive Irish holiday. The extent of my celebration was having a green bagel with my coffee on Sunday morning. But the same cannot be said for some of my coworkers who showed up on Friday in their pseudo St. Patty’s day attire. Say hello to J•R’s “Big Italian Nick”! Top o’ the mornin’ to ya and… fuhgeddaboudit!


Well, that’s it for now, and I would like to personally thank all of you that called in sick today with a mysterious virus bought on by a shitload of green beer and Irish whiskey; I made it to work this morning in record time! In fact, the roads were so clear that the toll collector at the Turnpike was reading War and Peace when I pulled up!

They Are Coming for Our Cigars by Frank Seltzer

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids takes aim at cigars and FDA control over them.  In a report out last week called Not Your Grandfather’s Cigar, the antis are pushing for FDA control over cigars.

The group said sales of cigars have gone from 6 billion to more than 13 billion over the past 12 years and –shock—it’s the kids who are smoking.  The report says:

“cheap, flavored, small cigars that appeal to young people are marketed aggressively and have resulted in high school kids and young adults being twice as likely as their older counterparts to be cigar smokers.”

Here is how they play the game.  It should be noted it is ILLEGAL for most high school kids to BUY tobacco, a young adult would be over 18 and legal to smoke but it doesn’t matter.

But you think oh they are after Swisher Sweets   or other machine made cigars so not to worry.  Well think again, because they do not differentiate.  The report further says:

“Given their success in marketing their products to kids and young adults, it is not surprising that some in the cigar industry are aggressively pressuring Congress to exempt them from any regulation by the FDA. No tobacco product should be exempt from regulation. ” (emphasis mine)


This means it is even more important for you to get involved.  Last session of Congress we got a majority of co-sponsors for the legislation to exempt premium cigars from the FDA’s clutches.  Now with a new session we have to start all over again.  HR 792 does just that.  But we need pressure on Congressment and Senators to sign up.  You can go to the Cigar Rights of America’s web site and send a message to YOUR Congressman.  Please do it NOW.

 Bloomberg Doesn’t Give Up

Well even though Mayor Bloomberg lost big last week (the mummies who had heart disease long before tobacco, fast food and big sodas) and the court knocking down his big soda ban, it doesn’t mean our boy  is lightening up.  Nope, now the king of New York City decided to come after tobacco again.  Of course Bloomberg said it is for the kids…give me a break.


The legislation would require stores to keep tobacco products in cabinets, drawers, under the counter, behind a curtain or in other concealed spots. They could only be visible when an adult is making a purchase or during restocking.


The legislation, for now, exempts cigar shops…but we know how THAT goes…give them an inch… besides isn’t it ALREADY illegal for kids to buy any types of smokes?  But you know once the 7-Elevens, drug stores and bodegas in NYC are covered it won’t be long before it would be expanded to the handful of cigar shops that are left.  Trouble is like most things they think up it doesn’t work.  Canada has had a display ban in parts of the country since 2002.  According to a paper by the Institute of Economic Affairs the policy has been “ruinous”.  The study says::


Display bans have been ineffective in the Canadian context with respect to reducing prevalence and consumption. Yet, they have succeeded at something else – that is, moving tobacco sales away from legitimate retailers, disproportionately independent corner shops, and towards the illicit tobacco market, something which is already a major problem both in the UK and many other parts of the world.

By forcing tobacco products under the counter, display bans blur the distinction between legal and illicit products and undermine two consumer beliefs that are the key to a legitimate tobacco market: first, the belief that tobacco is a legal, regulated product; and, second, the belief that consuming tobacco from the illicit market is a crime. In doing this, it becomes far more likely that smokers will move away from the legitimate market to the illicit market.

So the ban would further illegal traffic eh?  Well Blomberg is ready for that too.

The display legislation will be sent to city council on Wednesday along with the  “Sensible Tobacco Enforcement” proposal.  The idea is to strengthen enforcement of discounted and smuggled cigarettes. You see New York is number one in cigarette smuggling.

A recent study by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy  showed why.

High excise taxes on cigarettes and tobacco lead to unintended consequences.

 Nearly 61 percent of all cigarette consumption in New York in 2011 was contraband.  It’s no surprise given that New York has the highest state levy at $4.35 a pack. But wait, there’s more.   Bloomberg adds yet another tax of  $1.50 per pack for the city making the total $5.85 in tax alone.


In addition to increased smuggling with higher taxes there has been a rise in thefts, hijackings of trucks carrying cigarettes, counterfeiting both tax stamps and cigarettes and violence against people and property which are very real consequences from the cigarette tax hikes.


“People don’t realize the degree to which government induces illegal and dangerous activity with bad policy,” said Michael LaFaive, director of the Mackinac Center’s Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative. “In this case, individuals cross borders for personal smokes and an organized, criminal class brings in contraband cigarettes by the van full.”

“Despite the best intentions by people who want to increase revenue or promote public health programs, [tax increases] are probably not having the positive impact they think they are having — and at the same time, they are creating costs and problems,” he concluded. “Officials need to ask themselves if a tax hike is worth it.”

In Bloomberg’s world everything that takes away liberties is worth it.

CAO Cruisin and a Bad Week for Bloomberg by Frank Seltzer

Friday, March 15th, 2013


Last week, CAO sent a cigar lover on a cruise with Kid Rock for his annual “Chillin’ The Most” cruise. The contest was part of the kick off for the CAO Concert line of cigars. Justin Harris of Nashville won the cruise which included a CAO branded cigar lounge aboart the Norweigian Pearl cruise ship.  CAO blender Rick Rodriguez also was on board.  Said Ed McKenna the senior brand manager for CAO,

“Kid Rock’s ‘Chillin’ The Most’ is the ultimate expression of our brand.  It’s also a fitting way to celebrate the success of CAO Concert, which gives a nod to our rock n roll roots.”

Justin cruised the Bahanas getting back to port, and most likely reality, on Sunday.


Bloomie Loses

Bloomie (from Huff Post)

You may have already heard about part of this but this has been was a bad week for the nation’s top nanny.  Bloomie boy got shellacked in court and in a science paper.  First up,  a state judge stopped Bloomberg’s ban on 16 ounce sodas.  Yippee. The decision is a huge blow to the mayor’s efforts to control possibly every second of New Yorker’s lives and it came one day before the ban was to go into effect.   Said the judge, New York is “enjoined and permanently restrained from implementing or enforcing the new regulations”.  Why? Because he further said, “The Rule is nevertheless fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences…the loopholes in this Rule effectively defeat the stated purpose.”


Gee a Bloomie health department rule that is arbitrary?  Who would have thunk it.  The NYC ban on big sodas excluded some places ( 7-Elevens ) and some drinks with more sugar ( milk shakes, lattes, frozen coffees etc.).  Oh and for all its good sounding BS, the rule never did address free refills.  The rule was strictly a nanny PR stunt.


The judge further said that the health board was basically trying to have virtually limitless authority.  The city’s arguments in favor of the soda cap would leave the board’s “authority to define, create, mandate and enforce limited only by its own imagination.”  That was the Mayor’s idea.  Of course the city wll appeal this common sense ruling most likely the challenge will continue long after Bloomberg is gone.


Science Fact

But if that wasn’t bad enough for Bloomie, the Lancet published a study this week showing that ancient mummies had clogged arteries….you know arteries we have been told that are clogged by fast food, sugary drinks and smoking.  Oh wait…ANCIENT mummies…4,000 years ago, way before all that stuff was invented.  Bloomie’s whole raison d’etat just went up in …hehehe…smoke:


Researchers say that suggests heart disease may be more a natural part of human aging rather than being directly tied to contemporary risk factors like smoking, eating fatty foods and not exercising.


Wait what?  SMOKING IS NOT the cause? Maybe it is time to look to something else rather than tobacco!


“Heart disease has been stalking mankind for over 4,000 years all over the globe,” said Dr. Randall Thompson, a cardiologist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City and the paper’s lead author.


Thompson said he was surprised to see hardened arteries even in people like the ancient Aleutians who were presumed to have a healthy lifestyle as hunter-gatherers.


“I think it’s fair to say people should feel less guilty about getting heart disease in modern times,” he said. “We may have oversold the idea that a healthy lifestyle can completely eliminate your risk.”


Mayor Bloomberg….you listening?   (Of course not.)

Let’s Make a Deal by Steve Nathan

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Fellow cigar smokers: As we all know, our economy is in the proverbial crapper. The value of the US dollar is ranked 96th in world value just below Zimbabwe and Uzbekistan. Yet the value of the Latin American cigar is booming. Let me ’splain.

Every knucklehead, even if he’s never smoked a cigar or watched a Marx Brothers movie, will graciously accept one just to feel like Fidel Castro or Winston Churchill if only for just one lousy puff. Even those who feel that a Ziploc bag of two-week-old meatloaf is more appealing than a cigar will take one to appease someone, whether it’s a boss, a father-in-law or the guys coming next Tuesday to deliver the new dishwasher.

So, what’s my point? I don’t know… oh yeah! My point is that a cigar offers one the chance to barter and open doors to lasting favors never dreamed possible. Take me, for example; I always have a stash of genuinely cheap albeit tasty cigars on hand at all times to offer to my irritating neighbors, or to expedite a favor or service. And after reading this painfully boring blog, hopefully you will too.

Now before I begin, remember this fact: Unless it becomes a devout hobby, almost all occasional cigar smokers don’t know squat about them; you can roll up a turd in cabbage and they will believe it was smuggled in from Havana by a congressman if that’s what you tell them Get it? Good!  So (and this is very important), on your next visit to J•R Cigars, add some inexpensive smokes to your order… but you must go to J•R only! Why, you ask?

Because I work here and if you don’t shop here I will lose my job and be forced to collect unemployment because it is hard to find a job when you’re almost 58 years old! Then when the unemployment runs out in three years, I’ll be 61 and living in a trailer park behind the Secaucus, NJ landfill. Then I will quickly realize that I’m totally unemployable and from all the stress, I will most likely lose my bladder control and have no choice but to be a greeter at Wally Mart and wear big-boy diapers. So just shop at J•R so this awful stuff doesn’t happen to me, okay?

Anyway, you have purchased your cheap (excuse me, I mean inexpensive) cigars from J•R only… now what?

Put together a list of all the people you deal with, may deal with or hopefully and sometimes regrettably have to deal with. Then eliminate those who will not accept a cigar under any conditions. A few examples: most nuns, the head of the FDA, the archbishop of Canterbury, the US surgeon general, and the old handicapped lady with six cats who yells at you for parking too close to her driveway.


With this knowledge in hand, I have painstakingly spent hours putting together a list of some tasty but very economical cigars that you should stock up on, along with some ideas about how and when to hand them out. (Actually I didn’t spend hours; I did it during a commercial break of the Ice Road Truckers marathon. I have a tendency to lie a lot.)


Don Mateo

This old-time bundled Honduran classic has been a favorite of old farts and cheap bastards for more than two decades. Feed these to your next-door neighbor occasionally and you will have and unlimited access to his hedge trimmers!


Five Star

This mild, silky smooth bundled handmade is the <i>exact same</i> smoke as some other famous brands that sell for two or three times the price! If offered during routine checkups, these tasty smokes will get you a doctor’s appointment within three hours, even during a flu epidemic.


Red Dot

This mixed-filler baby tastes like those old classic Royal Jamaicans cigars… at a fraction of the cost. Every so often, leave a couple of these in your mailbox with a little sticky note saying, “Thanks for delivering my mail on time. Enjoy!” Do this and, I promise you, your priority package won’t be lying on your neighbor’s front porch during a thunderstorm.



These medium-bodied Nicaraguans are for the guy who says, “I don’t need those fancy $12.00 cigars! These are pretty damn good… and were you doing 80 in a 60 mph zone?”


License, registration, Riata… no ticket! Just be careful with this one; if it backfires, you may be sitting in a cell next to some nut wearing aluminum foil on his head claiming to be receiving signals from Pluto.


Maria Mancini

Okay, boys, I saved the best for last… this cigar is fantastic! It’s a Cuban-style box-pressed beauty that tastes just as good as many cigars costing at least twice the price. Whenever you see that guy across the street with his big house and fancy car, hand him one. I guarantee that, in no time at all, you’ll be sitting in his man-cave basement every Sunday afternoon watching football on his 90-inch flat screen while drinking his imported beer!


And there you have it. Good luck, get creative and have fun. There is a world of opportunity awaiting you with a well-stocked humidor of bargain-basement sticks. (By the way, I really hate when someone calls a cigar a stick. In fact, it makes my skin crawl. But you guys like it, so what the hell?)

Oliva Serie V Melanio

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

I rarely smoke Oliva cigars anymore, but I recall liking the original Serie V. When I came across the Melanio at Ed’s shop, I had to grab a few. With some minimal research, I found out that the blend is completely different from the original Serie V.


Wrapper: Ecuadorian

Binder & Filler: Nicaraguan

Size: Robusto 5 x 52

Price: Around $9.00


Pre-Smoke & Construction:

The wrapper was oily, smooth, and blotchy looking. It reminded me of wood grain. The odor of the wrapper and foot was barnyard. There were some tight spots in the cigar, which probably explained a draw that was a bit snug. The pre-light flavor was woody and earthy.

Once lit, the draw loosened up quite a bit. The ash held for about an inch, and the burn required one minor correction.

1 Oliva_Serie_V_Melanio cigars


The first third started off with a smooth peppery spice. Wood, coffee, and cocoa entered the flavor profile, in that order, one at a time. The smoke feel became thick and boarded on creaminess.

2 Oliva_Serie_V_Melanio cigars

The second third had an interesting nutty component. It was mixed evenly with wood, coffee, and cocoa. The pepper calmed down quite a bit, allowing the flavors to stand out. The smoke feel became creamy and tingly sweet.

3 Oliva_Serie_V_Melanio cigars

The last third became very creamy and sweet. Everything fired on all cylinders. Cocoa and coffee coated the entire palate, with just a touch of pepper. Simple, but very good.

4 Oliva_Serie_V_Melanio cigars


This was a very good full bodied cigar. I was ready to slam Oliva for the asking price, which is a bit out of my comfort zone for a robusto. I’m still on the fence about it, and I definitely would smoke more if it were cheaper. But, this was quite a tasty treat. Price aside, the Melanio delivered where it counts. If price isn’t a big deal to you, it’s worth picking up a few.

The Syndicate and Rare is Back by Frank Seltzer

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013


When you hear Syndicate, you often think of an old Cagney or Edward G. Robinson movie…maybe that is why the newest cigar group is called Sindicato, which is an amalgamation of top cigar retailers, including a former president of the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers.   Sindicato Cigar Group LLC was officially lanched on January 16th, but this past week, the group announced its new president (possibly the worst kept secret in the business).   Jim Colucci was named as the presdent and CEO of the company.

Colucci previously was the executive v.p. of sales and marketing for Altadis USA and was the mover behind such brands as Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real, Warlock, Frank Llaneza 1961 and Siglo among others.  The goal of Sindicato is to create new national brand cigars specifically for the participating retailers. According to Cigar Aficionado, the group was created by Abe Dabaneh who has an internet radio show kiss my ash and owns the Smoke Inn chain in South Florida; Jeff Borysiewicz, founder of Corona Cigar in Orlando; Gary Pesh, president of Old Virginia Tobacco company and former IPCPR president; Rob Roth of Nice Ash Cigars and Dan Jenuwine from Quality Fresh Cigars.


Colucci left Altadis in July 2011 and had a non-compete.  At last year’s IPCPR show, Colucci (after his non-compete was up)was hinting about getting back into the business and even gave me a test blend to check out.  The company plans to release their cigars at this year’s IPCPR trade show in Vegas.

Rare is Back

Punch Rare Corojo Perfecto

Punch Rare Corojo is back. Every year, General Cigar releases a batch of the cigars and this year, in addition to the usual 7 sizes, there is a new Perfecto at 7” x 48. The Punch Rare Corojo usually is in shops until around the end of May when they are all sold out.


They have been released every year since 2001…before that the lack of wrapper caused the cigar line to disappear for a while.   (Actually the original Punch Rare Corojo was a flop.  It came out when Dan Blumenthal and Frank Llaneza were running Villizon sometime in the 70s.  The original Rare Corojo had a sandy Connecticut wrapper on it…it did not sell because it was too mild for Punch smokers.  Enter a guy named Lew Rothman  (you know JR Cigars).  He knew Frank had all that Connecticut wrapper and tobacco so he bought it, made it a JR private label and named it after a pen….Excalibur by Hoyo de Monterrey.  Today the cigars are nothing like those originals, just thought you might want some history.)


This year’s release uses an Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper with reddish hue.  The Binder is Connecticut Broadleaf and the fillers are Dominican, Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos.  Retail price for the Punch Rare Corojo is $4.79 to $7.39.  According to Gue Martinez



Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!