Archive for May, 2013

Rocky Patel HR 500 by Gary Sheffield

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

I can’t recall where I picked up the cigar being reviewed today. I suspect I got it at one of the few less than memorable places. This blend is a collaboration between Rocky Patel and Gary Sheffield. Apparently Gary is a celebrated baseball player, and this cigar pays tribute to him hitting 500 home runs.


Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano

Binder: Nicaragua

Filler: Honduras, Nicaraguan

Size: Toro 6.5 x 52

Price: Around $11.00


Pre-Smoke & Construction:

The wrapper was oily, and had a rugged, porous appearance. The foot had a mild earthy smell. Off of the wrapper, I picked up a mild odor of cedar, earth, and leather. Overall, the cigar was evenly packed, and had a little give when squeezed. The draw was free, and had a fairly strong flavor of earth, leather, and wood.

The burn required a few corrections in the first third, and the ash held for about an inch.

1 Rocky_Patel_HR_500 cigars


The first third started off with an interesting minty, almost floral note. Things developed pretty quickly. Cedar, earth, mild spice, and a slight sweet bitterness overtook the initial flavors. The smoke feel was dry, yet somewhat creamy.

2 Rocky_Patel_HR_500 cigars

The cigar started to come to life in the second third. The dominant flavor was cedar, with coffee and a peppery spice following behind it. Bitter sweet cocoa would come and go, and it mixed nicely with coffee. The aftertaste became rich, and clung to the mouth for quite some time.

3 Rocky_Patel_HR_500 cigars

Bitter sweet cocoa dominated the last third. Behind it was coffee, spice, and wispy notes of cedar. Every now and then, the dominant flavor would switch between coffee and cocoa.

4 Rocky_Patel_HR_500 cigars


This was a solid, down the middle, medium bodied cigar. The flavors were fairly complex, and sometimes subtle. If you’ve been to this site before, you can guess what my only complaint is. Yep, it’s the price. It’s just a little too high for my liking. Otherwise, I can’t complain.

A Big Move for La Gloria and More Smoking Laws by Frank Seltzer

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

La Gloria Cubana is making a move.  The cigar was first made in Miami, then when he could not keep up with demand, owner Ernesto Perez Carrillo moved production to the Dominican Republic in the mid 90s with Miami being phased out.  Carrillo sold his company to Swedish Match, which eventually became part of General Cigar.   The company kept Ernie’s old factory until a few years ago when they moved it into their main facility, while still keeping it separate.  All of the La Glorias have been produced by the El Credito facility until now.

La Gloria Cubana Black


General Cigar is adding to the La Gloria line with a Serie R Black.  This new cigar will be made in Nicaragua.  Now La Gloria has been incorporating Nicaraguan tobacco since the introduction of the Serie N in 2010.  But this will be the first time the brand actually has a cigar made in Nicaragua.  The Serie R Black will feature viso from Jalapa and Esteli with a Jalapa viso binder.  The wrapper is a Jalapa ligero from the 2009 crop.  The new black will come in three large sizes: No. 58 (6.87” x 58 with an MSRP of $6.99); No. 60 (6” x 60 with a price of $7.24) and No.64 (6.25” x 64 priced at $7.49).


There will be another Serie R from Nicaragua to be launched at the trade show in July, but initial details are expected in the next few weeks.




New York Does It Again


The city that never sleeps and the place with the biggest nanny of them all, continues to amaze.  Because of its high cigarette taxes, 61% of all cigs in New York are either bootlegged or counterfeit.  You would THINK they might learn something.  But no.

Bloomberg banned smoking in jail in 2003….well fast forward 10 years and what has it produced?  Healthier inmates or a Burgeoning Black Market? If you said black market you’d be right.   This year there already have been 20 arrests…including a deliveryman who was trying to sneak four bags of tobacco into the jail on a truck carrying fruits and vegetables.


According to the New York Daily News:

The average price for a single smoke at Rikers Island is $30, jail sources said — a far cry from the 50 to 75 cents a “loosie” typically costs at a bodega. And full packs that legally sell for $15 in stores can bring as much as $200 in the Rikers Island “brown market,” according to a DA source.


The city is now using dogs to try to find the naughty tobacco.  But the union that represents the guards is opposed to having the dogs come into their areas.


That’s not all.  New York City is trying to raise the legal age for smoking from 18 to 21.  It is part of the bill that would make stores hide cigarette and tobacco products and increase penalties for those who violate their new laws.  Maybe they actually WANT to put more people in jail.

Nice to see that New York has solved all its other problems.  The trouble is their idiocacy is catching.  Now New Jersey is also thinking about raising the legal age to smoke.

The gutsy pols went over to Bloomberg central in New York City to make their  announcement…they didn’t even have the guts to do it in their own state.  I think people need to stay away from New York, whatever they have is catching. Sheesh.


Third Hand Crap

Last week, I told you about a new study that said so called third hand smoke was totally evil and hurting people in hotel rooms where smoking wasn’t even allowed.  We knew the study was B-S, but now tobacco control advocate, and logical thinker ( a shock) Michael Siegel has weighed in on the report.

Dr. Siegel looked at the study and basically said it was a load of bunk much like we suggested last week, of course he has science on his side.

Readers of the conclusions of this study might be surprised to find out that the study found no significant difference in air nicotine levels in nonsmoking rooms in hotels with partial smoking bans and those in nonsmoking rooms in hotels with complete smoking bans.

He goes on to write that while there could be some additional nicotine on the walls of non smoking hotel rooms, it did not result in any differences in terms of exposure.  (By the way the nicotine on the walls COULD be from the time before the smoking bans in those rooms…or people simply smoked in them anyway.  There is no way of knowing how it got there or when.)

Concludes Siegel:

That major finding would lead me to conclude that there is no significant health risk associated with staying in a nonsmoking room in a hotel that allows smoking in some rooms. It would also lead me to conclude that partial smoking bans do indeed work in terms of preventing tobacco smoke exposure for guests staying in nonsmoking rooms.

That the paper suggests the opposite is in conflict with the actual findings of the paper and suggests that there was a pre-determined conclusion and a pre-determined agenda that guided this research.


Gee, research coming to a pre-destined conclusion?  Wow. I thought “science” was impartial.

Kalifornia Goes Nuts and Other Taxing Matters by Frank Seltzer

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Well at least one idea in the nanny state did die.  A Democrat assemblymen from San Rafel had this idea that the state should be able to ban smoking in homes. Yup in your own house. The bill said if you shared a wall, ceiling, floor or ventilation system with a neighboring unit you could not smoke.  Second hand smoke was the reason.  Fortunately for the state, the bill died in committee, being rejected on a 5-2 vote.

The bill’s critics questioned who would enforce it, how, and what impact the bill would have on habitual smokers or on people with disabilities who could not easily leave their residences to smoke.

You can bet they will keep trying.  The example of  this came out Monday from San Diego State University, which found that third hand smoke endangers hotel guests.

“Researchers” from the university visited 600 hotel rooms in San Diego and analyzed surfaces and air for tobacco pollutants.  Lucky research assistants provided urine and finger swipe samples to test for other tobacco “carcinogens”.

“[T]hese research finds suggest that the existing smoke-free exemptions in California hotels make it virtually impossible to protect a non-smoking guest who stays in a designated smoking room from tobacco smoke exposure-even if no one smokes during their stay,” the authors wrote. “This is because smoking hotel rooms become reservoirs of tobacco, smoke toxicants that accumulate in carpets, dust, upholstery, mattresses, curtains and furniture, penetrate wallpaper and paint, and are even stored in drywall.”

The researchers concluded that exemptions in law for smoking in hotel rooms make it hard to protect guests who prefer non-smoking rooms, since “tobacco smoke cannot be confined to a hotel room but may spread to adjacent and more distant non-smoking rooms, hallways, ventilation systems, windows and utility ducts.”

In other words they are now going to use third hand smoke (which by the way was originally discovered through a poll which asked if people thought it might be a problem) to get rid of smoking everywhere.

 Screw Voters

Meanwhile, in California there is yet another tax bill being pondered.  Almost a year ago, voters rejected a big tobacco tax increase in the state.  It was a tight vote but residients said no to the idea.  That did not stop the antis just because they lost at the ballot box, they are trying to impose the same tax via the legislature.  The legislation would increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes by 2 bucks.  But that is not all….according to the IPCPR,


Because the bill would impose an additional tax on cigarettes under the Cigarette and Tobacco Products Tax Law, it would automatically increase the excise tax upon the distribution of tobacco products under that law at a rate that is equivalent to the combined rate of all taxes imposed on cigarettes. Currently, other tobacco products are taxed at a rate of 30.68% of the wholesale cost to the distributor and little cigars are taxed at the same rate used to tax cigarettes.


So bottom line the price of cigars would rise in California under this bill.  Hit them with letters, the IPCPR has a website to explain the bill and help send emails to legislators.  Be sure to let them know today that this is a dumb idea and one the voters already rejected.


Speaking of taxes…the House is now considering that Internet sales tax.  It sailed through the Senate but is being slowed down by the House…that is a good thing.  As we noted before there are nearly 10,000 local taxing districts which any Internet retailer would have to figure out to comply with this law.  This would be bad.  The Cigar Association of America and the Pipe Tobacco Council have come out against this bill.

 “There is nothing fair about the Marketplace Fairness Act. It’s a slap in the wallet for American consumers and businesses,” said Craig Williamson, president of the Cigar Association of America and Pipe Tobacco Council. “The bill is a giveaway to billion-dollar big-box retailers, and is designed to place online businesses at a significant market disadvantage.”? ?The effect of the Marketplace Fairness Act could be particularly damaging for the $14 billion cigar industry, which employs tens of thousands of workers in America and abroad. By some industry estimates, more than half of all premium cigar sales are conducted online or via mail.

Oddly enough, well not really, neither the IPCPR nor the CRA are looking at this.  Granted they are both pushing for the Premium Cigar exemption to the FDA.  That is a big deal, but so too is this.  Contact your Congressman and tell him to vote no on the Marketplace Fairness Act,  which is not fair at all.



The Maldonado Dynasty Mogul

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Thanks to JJO for sending me some smokes awhile back. In the package was the cigar up for review today. This review is based off of one cigar. Consider it a first impression, and take it for what it’s worth.

Maldonado Dynasty is a boutique “Beverly Hills cigar brand.” You can read more about it by visiting their website. The whole selling of a lifestyle appeals to many people. As for me, I just want a good smoke. Let’s see if The Maldonado Dynasty Mogul lives up to the hype.


Wrapper: Arapiraca Maduro

Binder: Dominican

Filler: Dominican, Peruvian, Columbian

Size: Toro 6 x 50

Price: Around $13.00


Pre-Smoke & Construction:

The wrapper had a nice, dark, rugged, and slightly blotchy look to it. No flaws were noticeable, and the odor reminded me of pipe tobacco. The cigar was solid and consistently packed. The draw had slight resistance. I picked up earth and cedar on the pre-light.

It should be noted, they advertise the Toro as 50 x 6, but mine was 48 x 6.

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

1 The_Maldonado_Dynasty_Mogul cigars


The first third started out with earth and cedar. After a few minutes, things started to develop. There was a mixture of smooth pepper, leather, and a slight bitter sweetness. It didn’t take long for the aftertaste to pick up a nice peppery zing.

2 The_Maldonado_Dynasty_Mogul cigars

In the second third, the sweet bitterness transformed into dark chocolate, and became the dominant flavor. Up next was leather, espresso, wood, and cayenne pepper. The aftertaste was thick and syrupy.

3 The_Maldonado_Dynasty_Mogul cigars

The last third had minimal changes. Espresso, chocolate, and a nice peppery zing were the main flavors. Wood and leather were far in the background. The aftertaste wasn’t quite as thick feeling, but it was nice.

4 The_Maldonado_Dynasty_Mogul cigars


I am always leery of new brands, especially ones that boast lifestyle. I almost want to hate on them. But, this one did deliver where it counts. Construction was perfect, and a complex flavor profile left me with no complaints. Ok fine, my only complaint is the price. It’s definitely out of my comfort zone for a Toro. In the end, this was a very good smoke, and worth a try.


Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Admit it, aren’t you getting just a little sick of crowding into a banquet hall in some fancy shmancy hotel every year that is jam-packed with vendors handing out their smallest sized cigars and then waiting on a painfully long line just to sample some gourmet French appetizer on a little decorative plate prepared by a chef named Marcel?


Well my fellow herfers and herfettes, the great town of Burlington, N.C the official home of great fried chicken, crappy pizza and most importantly JR Cigars, the World’s Largest Cigar Store, is proud to announce the best dang Cigar Bash on the planet! And we’re calling this cigarapaloozza J.R’s Smokin’ in the Carolinas. So round up all of your buddies or just come alone if you still live in the basement with your parents.


This first-time extravaganza is being held on Saturday June 8th. Start preparing for a 5-hour event that you and your buddies will be talking about for the rest of your life! (Or at least until the beer wears off) cause JR is throwing the coolest cigar bash that the Carolinas have ever seen.


Yes we are offering this special day in honor of you, the most loyal customers on the planet! And we are hoping you all show up because you’re in for one heck of a treat. You my friends will be getting a humungous bag of swag loaded with cigars and more. And while you’re puffing away on all them seegars you will also be stuffing your kissers with an unbelievable BBQ spread that would choke a horse . And did I mention Ice-cold beer… All day long! Hey, what goes better with BBQ and stogies? Nothing!


But that ain’t all folks.. You will actually get to meet and shake hands with some of the cigar industries big guns from Altadis USA, General Cigar, Ashton, Davidoff, Camacho, Nat Sherman, Miami Cigar, Rocky raccoon… Sorry, I mean Rocky Patel (I’m getting a little excited here!), Alec Bradley, Drew Estate, Perdomo, Oliva, Harry Duckworth… Harry Who? That’s the guy that lives in his parent’s basement. And this is just to name a few!


And if the cigars, grub and suds ain’t enough to keep you happy… We’ll also be holding a cigar-rolling contest, a dunk tank, and a very informative cigar training class that’ll be running simultaneously throughout the day, a chance to feel like McQueen, Brando or Eric Von Zippa with the super cool motorcycle simulator from Ray Price Triumph of Raleigh!


Plus we’re offering a tour of our J.R Warehouse, “The World’s Largest Humidor”! And if you’ve never seen it before, this friggin humidor is the size of Romania! It just keeps getting better folks… How’s about pipe trunk sale, Hooters, and famous regional wines from Iron Gate and Hinnant vineyards. You’ll get all this and more for only $114.95!


What?!? You want more? You’re killing us! But you guys deserve it, so we’re sending our Big Kahunas to bribe, cajole and browbeat even more vendors into bringing the best cigars, the greatest food and enough eye candy to make your neck stiff for weeks! (Warning if your neck stays stiff for longer than four hours, consult your doctor immediately!) We’re keepin’ this event personal, so tickets are limited. And so far the response has been overwhelming so grab some tickets now!

Get Your Tickets Now!


New cigars and A Great Party by Frank Seltzer

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

SLR Gen2

Last week I mentioned the new Saint Luis Rey Gen 2…shortly after we put up the post in came the official announcement. The SLR brand according to research conducted this year is one of the top 15 brands in the US. It has been in the market since 1982, though the original Cuban version was developed right after World War Two and was named after the town where it was rolled…San Luis in the Vuelta Abajo region of Cuba.


The idea behind the SLR Gen 2 is to update the brand and bring it more in line with today’s tastes.  Altadis USA is using three year aged tobaccos for the fuller bodied smoke.  The wrapper is a dark Ecuadoran Sumatra over a Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers.  The Gen 2 will come in three sizes—a Robusto at 54 x 4.5”, a Toro measuring 54 x 6” and the Titan weighing in at 60 x 6”. They come in a 21 count box and are priced from $5.75 to $6.75.  Even the design of the box shows an updated image.  According to the release:


Gen² is not just a new version of a classic.  It is much more.  It is the heritages of many generations of know how.  It is the expression of wisdom and passion from some of the most expert craftsmen in the world as they bring forth a most sublime smoking experience.  From our recent consumer research, we know that US Consumers are always looking to try something new; this was one of the aims of the launch – to offer something new, compelling and punchy to these targeted profile.


The Gen2 will be available any day now… know where. Pre-order yours now!


Happy Anniversary Pete and Pepin

Calm before the storm

I am writing this blog while looking at the ocean in lovely Fort Lauderdale (there were gunshots earlier but that is another story and it involves JLo).  I came down for the weekend to talk with Altadis about what all is going on there (and we spent a great afternoon talking.  Look for the details coming up in the catalog.)  But the other reason for the trip down to Florida was to help celebrate the 10th anniversary of Tatuaje and My Father Cigars.


Don Pepin Garcia

It was in 2003 when Pete Johnson thought about making his own cigar which became Tatuaje and he met a little known roller and blender named Jose Pepin Garcia who , at the time, was working for Tropical Tobacco.  Sitting in the Grand Havana Room in Beverly Hills, where Pete then worked,  and using a bartender as a translator Pepin gave Johnson some samples.  But Pete was not impressed.  He gave Pepin a Cuban and said he wanted something like that.  Pepin went oh, that is easy…having been a top roller in Cuba for all his life before coming to the US.  He rolled a new cigar on the spot, Pete smoked it and viola…two companies were born.


The Garcias and Pete Johnson are definitely intertwined.  Not only do they make Pete’s brown label cigars at the factory in Miami, they also produce every other cigar he has in their Nicaraguan facilities.  Last year at the trade show, Johnson unveiled his latest company made up of Sean Johnson (no relation), K.C. Johnson—Pete’s brother– and long time friend and cigar fiend, Dan Welsh,  L’Atelier—again made at the My Father factory in Esteli.  In just ten years, Pepin and his family have grown into a force in the cigar community.  Not only does he make Tatuaje, and his own blends, but he also makes cigars for Ashtonnamely the La Aroma de Cuba which is a great priced cigar, and the ever tasty San Cristobal.

Pepin also scored the cigar of the year from Cigar Aficionado with the Flor del las Antillas  Also last year, Pete worked with Pepin’s daughter Janny to come up with her cigar, La Dueña.

Janny & Pete


At this weekend’s party the My Father Miami Factory warehouse was transformed into a fabulous venue where, about 250 friends and customers –including the Levin family of Ashton—toasted the family’s success.  National sales manager Jose Ortega gave the night’s only speech talking about how Pete and Pepin met and how both companies grew.  Most of the evening was spent with drinking, food and lots of music.  You would have never known this was taking place in a warehouse rather than some special Miami club.


For the 10th anniversary, My Father is re-releasing a popular brand called Centurion.  According to Janny:


“The Centurion is going to come in 5 sizes and will be a regular production it won’t be like the Centurion we did 6 years ago in the one size.  Everybody has been asking for Centurion and it will be a little bit different than the original because Jaime has been playing a little bit with the blend and because the tobacco has aged. He changed the wrapper to a Criollo and everyone has loved it.”


Flor de Las Antilas & Centurion

While the Centurion was handed out at the party and again it got rave reviews,  the actual release of the cigar into stores may take a bit longer.  Earlier this year, the factory was slammed because of the demand for Flor de las Antillias after the CA mag and rating came out.  They caught up to that demand but it slowed the production of the Centurion.


The Garcias have a few other things planned for this year which will be released at the trade show in July.


The party went on until the very wee hours of the morning..I left by midnight but the next morning I saw many who left the factory after 3 and some intrepid souls even went over to South Beach to continue the celebration.  Again Congratulations to the Garcias and Pete Johnson.


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