Friday, December 30, 2016

Feedback , the good kind

Apparently my comments about cigar business practices hit the mark with several of my fellow cigar mavens. I received several twitter responses about the nature of how cigar manufacturers and vendors hawk their wares to consumers.
My commentary was not necessarily a knock on all business practices but a thought on the nature how cigars are sold.
The best comment was how bloggers should make it a point to inform   the cigar public about issues in all aspects of the cigar world.
It was also stated that it is better to try many blends ( some good , some bad ) so informed opinions may develop.
I appreciate all comments and keep them coming.

Keep smoking

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Bad cigars and bad music

I have been a Dead head for years listening and attending dozens of events since 1971. As much as I have enjoyed the band, there have been concerts and songs that were not up to my standard. During the concert I would never have admitted that but in retrospective thought, not every song was a winner.  However , I still am glad I went to the concert, shared the music with friends and relived each moment.
What does this have in common with cigars? What is the connection? This might be a stretch for some but recently I bought a sampler of cigars from one of my regular cigar on line vendors. The price was good and they were adding a couple of smokes from the same cigar company. It was a brand that I was familiar with but have never tried.
As I have commented about before in other blog entries , I believe it's  a good practice to try other products than just going to your usual stuff. Last night I sat down to try this new product and after a couple of puffs, clearly it was not even close to an OK cigar. I have about 10 more of these cigars in the package I bought. So how does this tie in with my opening statement?

I do not have any background on the business of cigars so my questions may be related to my lack of knowledge. Here are my thoughts about this.
* Do cigar vendors, etc. deliberately put out bad product as a matter of a business practice? They must know the release is bad. Is it just about cutting their losses and figuring someone will buy it if it's cheap enough?
* If the product is known to be sub standard in advance how did this  happen? During the process of developing the cigar , no one could figure out it was going to be a total waste ? Should it even be released to the consumer?
* Are cigars given a fresh coat of paint so to speak and then sold as something else? Putting on a new band  or marketing scheme is bogus in my opinion if the cigar has already been released before.
I do know we see brands sold  as seconds, or other names but we know already those are not top flight cigars.
* What do we do as consumers to let vendors and the like to know this is not an acceptable practice. Of course bloggers such as myself should let them know about our displeasure. Not sure what impact it will have. Perhaps not buying them would be the ultimate measure.
* So much hype and marketing goes into cigar catalogues, events, product, it is often easy to disguise the quality of the cigar.  Dealers tout high ratings, describe how wonderful the cigar is, who the manufacturer is but isn't it really about subjective taste?
* Should we expect consistent product from cigar to cigar and box to box?
* I like cigars, the people I have met in the consumer and the business end. I would rather hang with total strangers who smoke cigars than any other group of people I have met. So my point is not to totally criticize the cigar industry but am pushing for honesty in all levels. We all want good product but not everything is world class. Nice to hear sometimes for example , the product we are selling is alright, not that good, or don't bother your time and cash. That would be a novel approach.
Let me know your thoughts , have a great New Year and let's do this many times again in 2017

Keep smoking

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Favorite Cigars of 2016

If I wait any longer ,  my favorite cigar list of 2016 will be blogged in 2017. Here we go. A couple of ground rules.  The smokes in my favorite rotation are not listed in any order. 
These cigars were smoked in 2016 but may have been released in 2015.  Some of the cigars I purchased, others may have been given to me to review.  As I always point out, how or where I received the cigars did not impact my subjective opinion of them. 
These cigars are what I liked the best. Cigars taste differently with beverages, the time of day, what mood you may be in, who you are smoking with. 
Please read my reviews and make your own decision. 

Favorite Cigars of 2016

7-20-4/  Hustler Dog Walker

Caldwell/ The King is Dead Premier Toro

Olivia Baptiste  Torpedo

Foyle Pudao

J Fuego Oriegen

This is an a diverse group of smokes with different shapes, different taste profiles different manufacturers . It was a very good year for product as  cigar blenders really came out with a outstanding mix of product. 
I also have smoked Cuban blends which I chose not to include in my favorite list.  I will eventually present my Cuban cigar list at a future date. 
There are of course hundreds of blends that are produced yearly and most of them I have not tried due to time commitment, expense or lack of information. Perhaps in the near future, I will have more opportunity to try more.  Until that happens my reviews will be determined by what I can get my hands on.  Love to hear your thoughts about your favorites or comment on mine. 

Keep smoking ,  Enjoy 2017

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Black is Black/ Cigar review San Lotano Maduro Toro

Years ago, I thought maduro cigars were the greatest thing. Perhaps because they were different from what I was used to .  In 2011 I received a box  of San Lotano Maduro as a birthday gift and they did not last long. Today if I had a box of them , they would probably last a year or more. I purchased a sampler of San Lotano Cigars from Serious Cigars several months ago and this cigar has been in my humidor since then. As always where and how I received the cigar does not influence my judgment . I  suggest you make your decision on  your taste. Please let me know your thoughts.

Brand/ Name of Cigar: San Lotano/ Maduro

Country of origin: Nicaragua 
Wrapper: Mexican Maduro
Binder: Honduras and Dominican ( Dual Binder )
Filler: Honduras and Nicaragua
Shape: Toro, 6 x by 54 X, Box Pressed
Where and when smoked: 11/20/16 , Lone Wolf Cigar Lounge, Los Angeles Ca.


Dark brown, depending on the light almost black. Solid box press , tight, and oily to the touch. Smooth almost slick feel to the wrapper. A very sharp looking,  well made cigar.

About 25 minutes in 

Flavor/ Taste and Aroma:

Initially it was a rich mixture of chocolate,  sweetness  and a candy quality bordering on brown sugar. These are the best characteristics of a well made maduro. Also a bit of a spice blast but not overpowering.
40 minutes in

Smoking Characteristics: 

The smoke had an even burn, very pleasant looking grey ash and did not lose it's solid
 construction.  The cigar held it's shape which is a plus as some smokes as we know lose their  integrity as down the road. Did not burn hot or have any issues.

Conclusion/Overall Impression:

                                                                                     I stand by my original thought that maduro cigars will be a once in awhile occasion for me.  The flavor , construction  and smoking experience was a nice ride but the nuances of a great smoke was not there. I liken it  to being on the 405 on a non rush moment in LA. Glad the traffic was moving but the view was nothing special. I would rather be on the Pacific Coast Highway looking at the ocean. For maduro smokers , this is an unqualified hit. For me, if someone gave me this cigar I would smoke it, not sure I would buy it.

one hour or so in

  Final Thoughts and numbers:                                            
                                                                             Appearance/ Construction: 4 out 5
                                                                             Flavor/Taste and Aroma: 3.5 out of 5

Smoking Characteristics: 3.5 out 5                                                                          
                                                                             Conclusion/ Overall Impression: 3.8 out of 5

For maduro smokers this is a must for your humidor, for others, a good but occasional change for your usual . A good choice however.

Keep Smoking

Cigar stash for the holidays

Partegas Sirie D filling the coffers
Top of the heap Habanos getting crammed in my humidor

                                          Keep Smoking

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Real American Knowlege/Sage advice

"A good cigar gives a wise man time to think and a fool something to put in his mouth. "

Mark Twain

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Out of the box?

I was with several of my cigar friends today at the Lone Wolf Cigar Lounge, when a friend went to the humidor and came back with a San Cristobal Churchill. David the lounge owner, suggested it to Mark, who usually opts for a Romeo Y Julieta robusto. The thinking was try something different with a different flavor profile and a longer shape.
Mark is an experienced cigar smoker but for does opt for the familiar. 15 minutes or so into the smoke I asked what his thoughts were. Overall it was positive with appreciating the cigar for a more forceful taste. The only concern he said was perhaps the length was more he could handle at the moment.
So my question is, we often smoke what we know or opt for something very close to it.  If you are pushed out of the normal range of cigar how do we know or learn what else there ?
Going to a humidor and seeing many different cigar manufacturers or types of cigars , the usual response is go to what you know. Does that limit your enjoyment to a few choices or should you occasional be a bit daring and find something else?
Do you read cigar reviews and  compris a short list of new cigars you might try? Do you seek advice from cigar friends, lounge owners or cigar tastings that are in your neck of the woods?
Take this one step further , do  you buy a quantity of cigars that are the same or do you ever purchase a sampler with a wide range of choices?
I have several friends who rarely will buy a sampler thinking many of the cigars in it  they might not like.
For me , I take a slightly different approach. Of course , I have favorites which are to the go to blends in my humidor.  I know what to expect and like that. However, I also purchase a sampler which gives me the opportunity to get beyond what I know. I often base this information on reading reviews from bloggers, magazines and manufacturers sites. Friends also clue me into new product. There is no way I can keep on top of the cigars that are presented to consumers. Even those in the business full time , cannot keep up.
So how do you handle it? Are you daring enough to try something new or are you convinced the old is better than the new?

Keep smoking.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A great link for alcohol and cigar pairings from Famous Cigars.

Sometimes we like our cigar to have a complementary beverage which enhances the enjoyment of the smoke.
Famous Cigar, a well known cigar catalogue company has a great link for this very purpose. Put in the data and you will be directed to an appropriate match.
A very good feature for all cigar brethren.

I am not that knowledgeable about pairings with cigars. That is why a link of this type will make choices easier and give you many options. I suggest you give it a try and would to hear thoughts.

This is a well thought out program as I tried it out  with a bourbon choice. They asked for a price range, what activity I was doing ( some are whimsical,) but the others are not too serious either .  They came up with a choice based on my criteria and voila suggested a Cohiba Toro Tube.

If you like this link  let them know and perhaps buy the cigars they suggest. You needed to fill up your humidor anyway.

Keep smoking

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Special Thanks to Lone Wolf Cigars

A big thank you to Dave Weiss and Lone Wolf Cigars who contributed cigars for the annual Porter Valley Country Club Charity Classic. 
Lone Wolf Cigars
Members and their scorecards. 
Good times
Raffle and silent auction smiles

Golfers who played the course had a great time smoking Lone Wolf branded cigars and all money raised went to 3 worthy charities: Los Angeles Children Hospital,  Augie's Quest for ALS and Clubcorp's own charity for employees in need. Thanks for the support.

Keep Smoking 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

You get what you need

Cigar Review La Palina Cigars, El Ano 1896 Oscuro

The name of this cigar does not roll off your tongue very easily. Cigar marketing has become so elaborate trying to distinguish one brand from another.
Even within their  own brand names may become confusing. The cigar consumer may think they are smoking one cigar that someone told them about but the cigar lines become confusing.
The cigar is a new offering from La Palina Cigars. I received the smoke from Clay Roberts of La Palina Cigars. As always, how or where I received the cigar does not impact my subjective judgment
about the review. Please try it out if you like what I wrote commented about.

Cigar Specs:

Brand/Name of Cigar: La Palina / El Ano 1896 Oscuro
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic and Nicaragua 
Size: 5 x 52, Robusto
Wrapper: Mexican San Andres Oscuro
Binder: NA
Filler: Dominican Republic and Nicaragua 
Place and Date Purchased: Gratis
When and where smoked:  Lone Wolf Cigar Lounge, Los Angeles , Ca. 10/16/2016

Appearance and Construction: 

Boxed press, dark brown wrapper, and a very classy black and gold band. The cigar also had a impressive looking wrapper that covered the whole body. I almost did not want to take the printed wrapper off it was so good looking. However, my job was to report on the cigar blend, not just look at it.  It was very solid and slightly oily to the touch. No blemishes or soft spots were evident.  Well constructed with no obvious imperfections.

 Flavor/ Taste Aroma: 

There was an initial hit of chocolate/coffee combo.  A patron of the lounge commented to me the aroma of nuts was quite noticeable. The cigar was generally milder than I thought it would be. If you like classifications  it medium in scope but not at all overpowering or spicy. Nothing in the first third of the smoke would be described as, " This is unbelievable cigar.

Smoking Characteristics: 

Light grey ash which burned very cool and steady. There was no tunneling or edges that might have challenged the cigar smoker. The ash might be the most impressive point about the cigar. While this is clearly important, is it enough to make your purchase the smoke?

Cigar at the start
15 minutes into the smoke
35 minutes into the smoke.

1hour into the smoke.

Conclusion/ Overall Impression:

As I stated earlier, the cigar had great construction, burn  and ash.  As for flavor it was underwhelming with no real feel or passion. The taste was muddled with no high points. If you like a good looking but not very complex blend, this could be your baby.

Final Thoughts and Numbers:

With a brand new blend, and the threat of the FDA  causing cigar companies rushing product  into production perhaps too early, this cigar needs to sit in the humidor for a decent amount of time. Maybe in the second run, La Palina could add some spice to the mix and give it some character. 
The cigar shows some promise but right now it is  pass. 

Appearance/ Construction:  4 out of 5
Flavor/ Taste Aroma: 2 out of 5
Smoking Characteristics: 3.5 out of 5.
Conclusion/ Overall Impression: 3 out of 5

Keep Smoking

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Good to the last puff

Cigar Review: El Rey Del Mundo, Choix Supreme

A good cigar will make the grade if you smoke it every day or once a month. The satisfaction it gives you will bring you back every time.
 El Rey Del Mundo is a smoke that reminds me of a friend you may not see very often but it's like old times when you do. Here are my thoughts on this smoke.  My subjective opinion as always is not based on how or where I received the cigar. If my review is interesting, please try the cigar yourself.
I purchased a five pack of these cigars at the JR cigar store in Washington D.C.

Brand /Name of Cigar: El Rey Del Mundo/ Choix Supreme
Country of Origin : Honduras
Size: 6.12 x 4.9
Wrapper: Honduras - Oscuro
Binder: Honduras
Filler: Honduras
Filler: Honduras
Shape: Parejo
Price: $20.50 for a 5 pack JR Cigars, Washington DC. September 23, 2016
Where and When Smoked: Lone Wolf Cigar Lounge, Los Angeles, Ca. Oct 9, 2016


Medium brown wrapper, solid to the touch with no soft spots. Slightly oily.  There were several veins observed but did not impact the integrity of the cigar shape. The profile of the band and color of the wrapper is a great look.

Flavor/Taste and Aroma:

The first third had a nutty/almond character with a smooth medium profile. A hint of spice but it was minor almost not noticed. It was consistent in the second and third portions of the cigar too with very little deviation throughout the smoke. This was a plus for me and I don't like cigars with highs and lows.

Smoking Characteristics:

There was a slightly uneven burn with a light grey ash. Easy draw with no hot spots. There was one relight which was easily corrected with my Xikar lighter.

Conclusion/ Overall Impression:

The cigar has a low price point but it is not a " cheap" cigar. By all accounts the El Rey Del Mundo Choix Supreme is a top flight product.  The balance of the blend, the construction, flavor were

By the numbers:

Appearance/Construction: 3.5 out of 5
Flavor/Taste and Aroma: 4 out of 5
Smoking Characteristics / 3.5 out of 5
Conclusion/ Overall Impression: 3.8 out of 5

Final Thoughts: 
There are special occasion cigars, there are every day cigars. The El Rey Del Mundo Choix Supreme can be either.

Keep smoking 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

No flash in the pan

AJ Fernandez came on like gang busters several years ago with the San Lotano brand. Similar to rock  bands who have been around for years then suddenly they are discovered as the new sensation.  When  his San Lotano Oval hit the streets you could not find it in stock just about everywhere. I was one of the cigar dudes who hunted for a Oval and when I scored some, it felt like this was the best cigar every made.
I still think it is an outstanding smoke but the allure lost a bit through the years.
Today's review is the New World line which has been in the market place since 2014. Clearly not a new cigar but a steady seller for the AJ team.  It's time to write about it and see if it the hit for me as the San Lotano Oval was.

As always, the review is not impacted on how or where I received the cigar. The review are my thoughts on this particular smoke. I suggest if what I comment about interests you, try the blend and make your own opinion.

Brand/Name of Cigar: AJ Fernandez/ New World
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Dark Nicaraguan 
Binder: Jalapa ( Nicaragua)
Filler: Viso Ometepe, Condega Ligero, Esteli-Finca Soledad Ligero
Shape: Toro 
Price: Sampler from Serious Cigars, 
Where and when smoked: Los Angeles , Ca. , 8/28/2016

Appearance and Construction: Very dark chocolate in appearance upon first glance but taking a closer look , there are some veins that are evident.  I like box press cigars which for me provide a more involved smoke.  The cigar band and lower band is a nice counterpoint that makes the wrapper look even darker.  It's a nice touch.

Flavor/ Taste and Aroma: I expected a hit of chocolate and it did not disappoint as this was the prominent note in the first third. I thought it would have more of a pepper taste but did not get this. Actually it was quite creamy, and smooth. It's profile would fall something in the medium to strong category closer to medium.

Smoking Characteristics:  The burn stayed lit and held it's shape well. The cigar did not tunnel , but  did have some minor changes in the direction of the overall burn. This did not hinder the taste or enjoyment of the cigar. Ash was light grey to a darker hue in appearance. The smoking experience was solid throughout the one hour or so time frame.

Conclusion/Overall Impression: This was a very steady smoke with all the pleasantries of a good smoke. Throw in the very reasonable price point and you have a winner.  Here are the numbers.

            Appearance/Construction: 4 out of 5
Flavor/Taste/ Aroma: 4 out of 5
Smoking Characteristics : 3.8 out of 5
Overall value and enjoyment: 3.9 out 5

Final Thoughts: The New World falls into the category of keeping  several available in  your humidor.
When you cannot find anything negative that counter indicates a smoke which strikes you favorably  , I suggest this cigar is a very good choice for just about anytime of the day.

Keep smoking

Monday, September 26, 2016

The nation's capital has cigar cool

JR cigars is a cigar juggernaut , one of the biggest retailers and catalogue venders in the United States. I was in Washington DC for a wedding and made a jaunt to the JR Store for a cigar purchase and a chance to to meet new folks.  
As DC weather can be hot and humid even in late September I was pretty beat making it to the cigar shop. I walked from my hotel which was not taxing but the humidity made it very unpleasant.
The last time I was here , the establishment did not have a cigar lounge , only a retail store. Five years later they have developed a very nice, comfortable  small lounge at the back of the store with leather chairs and couches.
You are greeted with a team of cigar friendly staff , and a large array of choices of smokes.  I had a very pleasant conversation with the staff chatting about my blog , the nature of cigar smoking in DC and took my time making a selection for my sit down. I chose a RoMA Craft Aquitaine , lit up and spoke  to several cigar buddies who I just met.
I escaped from the humidity  of the day, made two purchases of a five pack of Punch Champion and a fiver of El Rey Del Mundo Choix Supreme at very reasonable prices.
As  every day must move on,  said my good byes to my new cigar friends and left the store.
here are several other cigar lounges in Washington DC which I could not visit but that's ok. Gives me another reason to come back .

Rating of the Experience

Quality of product and choice: 4 out of 5
Lounge ambiance : 3.8 out of 5
Staff friendliness and knowledge of product: 4 out 5
Washington Square Building, 1730 L St NW. Washington D.C. 20036

Keep Smoking

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Evil Twin?

Cigar Review: Foyle Toro Maduro

This is a cigar I could not figure out. I will explain my statement in the review.  There are cigars which almost off the bat you can get a handle.  That is, you immediately like it or not. For me even two weeks after I smoked it , the blend baffles me. Lets get to the nuts and bolts of this smoke and present my case or not.

Country of Origin: Nicaragua 
Size: 5.5 x 5.5
Wrapper: USA Broadleaf
Binder: Ecuador Sumatra 
Filler: Dominican/ Nicaraguan 

                                                                                    Where and when smoked: Los Angeles Ca.  8/14/16  
I purchased this as part of a sampler from I previously wrote a review about the Foyle Natural blend also purchased from As always the review is my subjective opinion and suggest you make your own decision about any smoke but use my review as a guide. How or where I received the cigar does not impact my review.

Appearance/Construction : 

The cigar wrapper is  a very deep shade of brown, with some of the seams a bit off. Nice oily sheen to the touch and a good looking label giving it a good appearance over all.
Box pressed.
Flavor/Taste and Aroma: 

The smoke started out with a hot blast of spice with some hints of raisin, and nuts. It was a bit harsh to my palate but am hoping it will mellow down easy. Also in the mix was a medium coffee flavor.  My thinking is it's ok but hoping it will get better.
The second third was a nice interlude of smoothness, a pretty even burn with a cool after bite. The expectation for me is to  give me something more exciting  I can write about.
The last chapter lost it for me. The taste turned metallic, and bitter. I thought maduro cigars were designed for a smooth ride without any bumps.  It's not happening for me.
Conclusion/Overall impression:

This was a very confusing smoke. Maduro's are not a regular event for me but I expect the product to deliver a good overall experience.
Here is the kicker. Several days later I tried to robusto version of the Foyle maduro which was also part of the sampler. Sorry but it was pretty much the same result.

Final Thoughts: 

Appearance/Construction: 3 out of 5
                                                                                    Flavor/Taste and Aroma: 2.5 out of 5
                                                                                    Smoking Characteristics: 2.5 out of 5
                                                                                    Conclusion/Overall Impression: Final rating 2.5
                                                                                     out of 5 .

 Not a joyful smoke considering how much I liked the natural blend. I like to think the folks at Foyle might to rethink this blend and try to give it a tweak. It needs work.        

Keep Smoking

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Big Question/ not about the cigar

Cigar Review: Foyle Pudao

Before we start this review a few words about the impending FDA regulation changes.  The heavy hand of the FDA is about to come down hard on the cigar industry.
Much has been talked about , been written about but the real change is still open ended.  I am positive though business will be dramatically impacted.  My concern is  the newer and small boutique cigar companies will take the biggest hit. Companies such Alliance Cigars which distribute Foyle might not be around down the road. Cigar smokers must be on top of this by contacting their elected representative and let them know your thoughts. Do not stand silent and think someone will do it.  That is not going to happen.

I purchased a 4 pack sample from , an online seller.  My review as always is not impacted on where or how I received the products. It is my subjective opinion and thoughts. I suggest if what I write piques your interest , acquire the brand and make your own decision.

Where and When smoked:  Lone Wolf Cigar Lounge, Los Angeles , Ca. 8/6/16
Price $21.89 , sample of four, sale price from

Appearance and Construction:

Origin: Honduras
Wrapper: Criollo Honduran
Binder: Corojo Honduran
Filler: Nicaraguan and Honduran
Wrapper: Natural
Shape: Straight
Size: 7 x 52

Tight feel with a dark brown wrapper which looks powerful. If appearance if any indication of a strong smoke well watch out. The proof however is in the smoking. The cigar band is clean, direct and attractive.

Flavor/ Taste and Aroma:

Started with a nutty , chocolate infusion , very smooth . Tasted some oak , touch of spice but not over the top. Aroma of chocolate was very evident.  I would describe it as medium profile , sweet but not cloying.

Smoking Characteristics:

As we smoke the ash is dark grey with a even burn, gets a little bolder with a pepper hit.  It's a nice even kick with no strange developments happening. Even in the second third the combination of chocolate and nuts are still around.  We get a slight burn issue but this evens out as the smoke continues . The cigar stays cool.

Conclusion/ Overall Impression:

The Foyle holds it's own with most cigars I have had recently.  The issues are minor , the flavor is nice, not overwhelming with too much spice. Its definitely a medium blend.

Final Thoughts:

Appearance/Construction: 4 out of 5
Flavor/ Taste and Aroma: 3.8 out of 5
Smoking Characteristics:  3.5 out of 5
Overall: 3.8 out of 5

I hope Foyle is around for a good long time.  I also purchased a Maduro Sampler from too. This is a good buy and suggest you catch a sampler.

Keep smoking