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.