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Friday
Apr062012

Stogie Geeks Episode 15 - "Happy Birthday Stogie Santa"

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Ocean State Cigars

Stogie of the Week

J. Grotto Series Reserva Gran Corona

Origin: Raices Cubanas Factory in Honduras
Wrapper: Honduran Criollo '98
Binder: Honduran Criollo '98
Filler: Honduran & Nicaragua Ligero
Strength: Medium/Full
Vitola: Gran Corona
Size: 5 5/8 x 46
Age: N/A
MSRP: $7.75

This week we are drinking

Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 15 Year

This Week In Stogies

Paul's List

  • Montecristo #2 - This one had 3 years of age on it, and was outstanding. Great balance of flavors, wood, earth, sublet spice.
  • Liga Privada Dirty Rat - This was an excellent smoke, loved the flavors coming off this stick, smooth, balanced. However, not worth the $11 price tag.
  • My Father Federal Cigars 91st (Broadleaf) - Some good toasty flavors up front, but then it did nothing for me the rest of the way. Did not enjoy this one unfortunately, could just be my pallet.
  • La Aurora Cien Anos Preferido - This smoke was awesome. The change up in flavors as this thing smoked was so great, loved it.
  • Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 (Broadleaf) - Love this smoke, awesome Tatuaje classic flavors, this one is going to age extremely well.
  • CAIN F Daytona - What a great smoke! Came in that sampler box, and produced excellent flavors, somewhat sweet, hints of wood.
  • Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 (Sumatra) - Great stick, however, this one had TOO LOOSE of a draw. I think the flavors suffered some as a result, can't wait to try more.
  • Jamie Garcia Connecticut - Was not a fan, lots of pepper, and other flavors that just really never came together for me.
  • Liga Privada #9 - Again, this one started out AMAZING, then got weird, and "fizzled out".
  • Opus X Shark (2009) - This stick started out AMAZING, then was just meh.
  • Padron 1964 Anniversary - Great cocao-like deep flavors. Stronger than I remember, smoked this one right before I went to Magic Kingdom, and was a little sick from it. Then went on the tea cups, not recommended.
  • CAO Sapranos (Soldier) - Great smoke, nice flavors, by far my favorite from CAO. Thanks Jeff!
  • My Father Federal Cigars 91st - I had high hopes for this, but had huge construction issues. The flavors were good, but uncharacteristic construction problem for this brand did not allow me to give it a fair review.
  • Ashton VSG Eclipse - I absolutely love this smoke. The box I have is a bit young, needs time. I smoked one from the new box, and gave one to a friend. We both seemed to agree its a bit unbalanced and needs time to age. Can't wait til' these are covered in plume!
  • Davidoff Colorado Claro Special T (2012) - Nice flavors, a tad grassy, very smooth. Needs more time to live up to the ones from 2008, but very happy with my box (10 count) purchase.
  • Partagas Serie P Torpedo - This one was good, but lacked some of the flavors you find in lots of other Partagas smokes. I would say try one or two and see what you think.
  • Viaje Skull & Bones Mystery ? - This was a fantastic smoke, I wish I had more. Box worthy for sure!
  • La Flor Dominicana Factory Press II - These were OUTSTANDING a couple of years ago. I had one covered in plume. This one was good, but lost flavor, big time. If you have these, smoke em'.
  • Tatuaje Cojonu 2003http://www.stogiegeeks.com/stogies/2012/4/6/tatuaje-cojonu-2003.html - Still my favorite from the Cojonu size, though I think this one had some construction issues.
  • Padron 1926 #1 - One word: YUM.

Tim's List

  • Viaje Friends and Family - Beautiful cigar that offered a rich and earthy flavor profile that was extremely balanced. Flavors included espresso, dark chocolate, leather, and pepper. I would love to have tried more than one but considering many shops only received a single fifteen count box, I consider myself lucky to have received this one as a gift.
  • Room 101 One Shot One Kill (OSOK) Filero.html - Interesting flavor profile of earth, leather, wood, and an occasional floral note. Full flavored but medium/full in strength. Construction was perfect. When I revisit, it will be after dinner with a bourbon.
  • Viaje WLP Winter Classic - This stick was a pleasure to smoke and I think it went unnoticed by many since it was released at the same time as the Viaje Super Shot. Medium in body and strength, it offered a nice balance of mocha, pepper, and malt. It didn't change up for me much but found it enjoyable and satisfying after lunch. A definite "Fiver" or two.
  • Montecristo Petit Edmundo - Box date on these is April 2011. After a few weeks of rest I decided to see how they were burning at lunch this week. Good burn and draw. Nice wood core but I found the flavors slightly harsh and unbalanced compared to the Grand Edmundo we smoked on the show a few months back. I think another year will do these good. Now to be patient!
  • Olivares Aging Room M356 Rondo - Nice smoke! Dominican puro with a nice balance of cedar and spice and some sweetness on the finish. Great construction and burn. I would certainly recommend a "Fiver" to check it out.
  • EP Carillo New Wave CT Short Run Exquisitos - What a great stick! These just landed and I have to say the addition of the Broadleaf as the binder adds just the right amount of spice to the already creamy, nutty profile. A 4 7/8 x 50 Robusto, it is the perfect size for an early Am or lunch time smoke. "Box Worthy"
  • Viaje Super Shot 12 Gauge - Andre hit it out of the park with this release! Two weeks ago I smoked the Viaje Super Shot 10 Gauge and was blown away by that stick. So when Stogie Santa texted that the 12 Gauge had arrived, I immediately had him send me some. This little 3.5 x 52 shot gun shell is rich in flavor including; earth, espresso, dark chocolate, leather, and red pepper. The flavor profile is full as is the strength. "Box Worthy" if you can find any left.
  • Viaje WLP Candela 2012 - The 2012 release has a bright green wrapper and is a slightly larger (5 x 52). Much like the 2011, the wrapper is razor thin and I did have some cracking occur. Regardless, this stick performed well and offered up some great flavor on Saint Patrick’s day. Medium in body and strength. The wrapper offered some nice grassy undertones but did not overpower the cigar. Worth a try when you want something different.
  • Le Hoyo du Roi - Gifted to me by Bill Berris of The Cigar Snapshot, this twelve year old Corona from the land of forbidden fruit had superb balance and smoothness. It was the perfect way to end the weekend. Nub’d it!  “Box Worthy” or maybe I should say “Cab Worthy”.
  • Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Connecticut Shade New England Exclusive - Thus far these has been shipped to about fifteen shops in the New England area. Available in four sizes, I smoked both the Short Robusto and Belicoso. It had a nice balance of almonds and graham crackers with a faint sweetness and an occasional appearance of mild pepper. Burn and draw were perfect. It is a great medium bodied smoke which was the perfect size and strength to enjoy at lunch or after breakfast. Well balanced and smooth but flavorful and satisfying. “Box Worthy”.
  • CroMagnon Anthropology - One of the cigars included was a CroMagnon Anthropology from RoMa Craft Tobac. This Grand Corona was well constructed and burned perfectly. Great draw, lots of smoke, and some good dark flavors while never becoming harsh. A solid medium/full in strength, I will be looking to grab a “Fiver” or two of these to enjoy again.
  • Tatuaje Cojuno 2012 - Great performance and great flavor. Typical Pete Johnson flavors. I did enjoy this more than the Sumatra. "Box Worthy"

Stogie Tech: Cigar Smoking Tips for the Traveler

I spent more time on the road in March than I did at home. This is a rare thing for me, but it worked out that I had three events to do this month. I learned a lot about smoking when traveling:

  • Bring Cigars - Always bring your own cigars! Sometimes I bring too many, sometimes not enough. Wait, there is no such thing as too many! I used the hard case traveling cases with Boveda packs. Never put cigars in your checked luggage, always take them with you on the plane (gets too cold in the luggage). Cigars in tubes and cellophane travel extremely well.
  • Bring Matches and Cheap Cutters - I always put matches in my bag along with a cheap cutter. Matches are a-okay with TSA. Cutters have mixed success. Rarely do they question it, however once this month they pulled it from my bag and looked at, then sent me on my way (with my cutter). I never bring an expensive one, just in case.
  • NEVER Pack a Torch lighterr
  • - I've been toying with bringing a Bic lighter with a soft flame. Anything that is a torch will be taken by TSA, even if you check it. Xicar makes one with a soft flame, but TSA will inspect it almost every time, which is annoying.

  • Find a local place - I always try to find a local cigar shop, look around, meet people, and find smokes that you may never find anywhere else! Also, don't buy cigars from the hotel, Marriott wanted $50 for a Padron!
  • Share your cigars - When I go to teach there is always at least one person who loves cigars. Its a great way to meet people and make friends, so invite people to smoke cigars. Some hotels are better than others. Marriott in downtown Charlotte NC has a lounge, most other places let you smoke outside, in Orlando we could smoke on the balcony, so you never know.

Stogie Tech: Keeping a Digital Cigar Journal


Why Keep a Cigar Journal?

I first started keeping a cigar journal because I wanted to track what smoked I had tried and enjoyed. I quickly learned, however, of some trends in the origin and types of tobacco I preferred in different situations. It also helped me gain experience in detecting different flavors and aromas that different blends had to offer. I would often find myself referring back to notes on a specific flavor or aroma I detected in the past to compare the origin or type of tobacco used.

Types of Digital Journals

I have come across a lot of excel sheets and apps but most of them didn't seem to offer the flexibility I wanted or just seemed clunky. Initially I began using TiddlyWiki, which is a small Wiki contained in a single JavaScript enabled HTML file. It was easy and flexible but I couldn't access it from my iPhone or remotely on the web. Also, I wanted to ability to tag notes such as "favorite" or "wish list" and share them with family and friends, particularly around the holidays.

What is Evernote?

Evernote is a note taking application. According to the Evernote website:

Evernote makes it easy to remember things big and small from your everyday life using your computer, phone, tablet and the web.

Features:

  • Cross Platform - Windows, OS X, Blackberry, iOS, Android, and Web
  • Sync - All platforms synchronize via Evernote's web servers.
  • Flexibility - You can create text notes, audio notes, video notes, or free hand "ink" notes. Moreover, you can attach files to your notes (i.e. pictures).
  • Finding Notes - You can group notes, tag notes, link notes, and have full search ability of your notes.
  • Sharing - Last, but not least, you can make notes public and share them with the world or just a group of people of your choosing.

Free Verse Premium:

Evernote is free but does have some limitations. I did not have any issues using the free version but for $4.99 a month you can purchase the premium version if so you choose. The most compelling reason to spend the five dollars is the 60 MB limit a month on uploads. I came nowhere close to hitting this limit but I kept my attachments (pictures) small. The premium version bumps you up to 1 GB.

My Journal

I tried to keep it simple. I document wrapper, binder, filler, vitola, size, and age along with some of my thoughts on the smoke. I chose four tags to start; favorite, collection, limited, and wish list. If the opportunity presents itself I include a picture. As an example, I shared a dozen or so from my journal here.

Tip: The one tip I have is to create a note as a template. There is no template functionality in Evernote yet, but you can use a blank template note and copy it to save some time typing each time you add a new smoke.

Diversion of the Week

Posted on BOTL.ORG: "Cuba Trip - Lessons Learned"

A fascinating post by BOTL member Jim on his recent trip to Cuba with his Dad. Packed full of useful tips for anyone considering such a Pilgrimage. Interesting to anyone who enjoys cigars and the culture associated with them.

Monday
Apr022012

The Weekend Redux: April 02, 2012

A relatively short list of smokes this weekend but as you can see from the picture, I had a rather important wood project to work on with my boy. I still managed to find some time to enjoy some premium sticks and I still have all ten of my fingers attached. Those familiar with my history of using power tools will recognize this as being an accomplishment. Needless to say, my boy has a healthy respect for the table saw. Without further ado let’s get onto to the list!

 

Friday Afternoon/Evening: Viaje Super Shot 12 Gauge

After smoking several Connecticut Shade sticks for my review of the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial CT (New England) Exclusive, I found myself in the mood for something with some strength. Consequently, I took down a Viaje Super Shot 12 Gauge at lunch and again after dinner Friday night with some Dimple Pinch Scotch. These sticks are smoking great. “Box Worthy”

Saturday Evening: CroMagnon Anthropology

Bill Berris from the Cigar Snapshot podcast recently hit us with a care package. One of the cigars included was a CroMagnon Anthropology from RoMa Craft Tobac. This Grand Corona was well constructed and burned perfectly. Great draw, lots of smoke, and some good dark flavors while never becoming harsh. A solid medium/full in strength, I will be looking to grab a “Fiver” or two of these to enjoy again. Thanks Bill!

Sunday Afternoon: Tatuaje Cojuno 2012 Sumatra

After grabbing a handful of the new Cojuno 2012’s in both the Sumatra and Connecticut Broadleaf wrappers, I’ve been itching to try them all week. I forced myself to let them rest a few days and with the arrival of a sunny, warm (relative to location) Sunday afternoon, I pulled the trigger on the Sumatra.

The cigar performed fantastically with a perfect draw and lots of smoke. I am forcing myself to wait on a formal assessment because I want to smoke more than one before doing so. I am also looking forward to smoking the Broadleaf later this week. Keep your eyes open for these as there were only 2012 boxes (book style) of 24 cigars released for this initial shipment. Each box contains twelve of each wrapper. Word is this will be the only shipment until after the IPCPR 2012 Trade show this Summer.

Until next week, keep burning!

Friday
Mar302012

Review: Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Connecticut Shade (New England Exclusive)

Background

In 2010, the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial was released with a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, Nicaraguan Pelo de Oro binder, and Nicaraguan (Cuban Seed) fillers. This was followed by the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Limited Edition 2011 which used the same binder and filler but a higher priming of the wrapper (ref: Cigar Coop). There were 3,700 fifteen count boxes of the LE 2011 and although the release received much praise, it was a sixteenth bonus cigar that was included in those boxes that got the attention of many. A single Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapped version of the blend was included in each box and since there were only 3,700 boxes made that meant there were 3,700 of these special smokes.

In February of this year, there was the release of the My Father Le Bijou 1922 Federal Cigar 91st Connecticut Shade which I reviewed here. This limited release (fifty 23 ct. boxes) also featuring an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper and the cigar completely blew me away.

Fast forward to the present time. This week a New England Exclusive release of the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Connecticut Shade began hitting the shelves at Brick & Mortar’s here in the North East. I have been told this is the same blend as the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Limited Edition 2011 Connecticut and is currently available in 20 count boxes of four sizes. These four sizes include the Petit Robusto (4.5 x 50), Belicoso (5.5 x 52), Toro (6 x 54), and Toro Gordo (6 x 60). Price per cigar is between $6.25 and $8.25 a stick with the Petit Robusto and Toro Gordo being at each end of the price spectrum. Since I only have an hour for lunch today, I chose the Petit Robusto. So let's get to burning!

Stogie Stats

Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade
Binder: Nicaraguan Pelo de Oro
Filler: Nicaraguan (Cuban Seed)
Strength: Medium
Vitola: Petit Robusto
Size: 4.5 x 50
Age: N/A
MSRP: About $6.25

Review

The wrapper on the cigar has two large veins running down the length of it and is on the darker shade of the claro color spectrum. The wrapper has a nutty aroma to it and I get a fair amount of pepper from the foot of the cigar. The cigar is packed evenly and is adorned with the same elegant beige, blue, and gold band as the Limited Edition 2011.

After toasting the foot, I am greeted with some mild pepper up front. The pepper settles down after the first few draws and can detect a nice balance of almonds and graham crackers with a faint sweetness in the background. There is an occasional appearance of mild pepper from time to time but this subsides after the first inch or so. The flavor, body, and strength are a solid medium. The draw is absolutely perfect and the burn line is good with the salt and pepper ash holding for just about an inch before falling. Thus far, this stick is performing fantastic.

The second half brings more of the same delicious nutty, graham cracker flavors with the addition of some woodsy characteristics. The finish is creamier now and draw is still perfect with a moderate amount of smoke appearing on each pull. I fall just short of nubbing the smoke in about 50 minutes. There is some minor cracking of the wrapper but overall, the cigar performed extremely well.

Conclusion

This is a wonderful medium bodied smoke which was the perfect size and strength to enjoy at lunch or after breakfast. Well balanced and smooth but flavorful and satisfying. The price point is very reasonable and frankly it’s the best smoke I have had all week. I am going to not mince words, I smoked three of these in the last two days, including one of the Belicoso’s and I love them. In conclusion, I am going to give the New England release of the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Connecticut Shade a Stogie Geeks Rating of “Box Worthy”. I will be picking up a box of these most likely in more than one size.

Source: These cigars were purchased at Mr. J’s Havana Shop in West Warwick, RI.

Monday
Mar262012

The Weekend Redux: March 26, 2012

As a rather uneventful and relaxing weekend comes to an end, I certainly cannot complain about any of the fine sticks I enjoyed. I dug deep in the humidor this weekend and reached for some unusual and larger smokes that I had stashed. I intended to take advantage of the warmer weather and with temps dipping back into the 20’s this evening, I am glad I did.

Friday Afternoon: La Aurora Cien Anos Robusto

After a week of working through lunch, I made damn sure I got outside on Friday afternoon to enjoy the weather and have a smoke. With temps climbing into the 80’s, I reached for a 100 Anos Robusto from La Aurora. Created to celebrate La Aurora’s 100 year anniversary in 2003, these were limited to 300,000 cigars. Blended with a Dominican Corojo filler and Corojo wrapper, this stick was smooth and flavorful. Medium in strength with a nice balance of wood, cocoa, spice, and a faint sweetness. It might just be the perfect lunch smoke IMO. A “Fiver” if you can find them.

Friday Evening: Viaje Skull & Bones MOAB (2012)

With multiple limited releases from Viaje this month, I can honestly say I have smoked more Viaje than any other brand in the last few weeks. Friday evening was no exception as I looked to pair something bold with a glass of Ron Zacapa Rum Centenario (23 years). I decided to reach for one of the newest renditions of the Viaje Skull & Bones. This is the second release of the Viaje S&B Mother of All Bombs (MOAB). The flavor profile of earth, espresso, and pepper was a fine contrast to the sweetness of the rum. Like the recent Viaje Super Shot, this stick has some power, so take heed. Worthy of a “Fiver” for those moments when you want something with some kick.

Saturday Morning: AVO Limited Edition Diademas - 85th Anniversary (2011)

The month of March brings the release of the newest AVO Limited Edition Anniversary. Since 2001, AVO has released a new LE every March to celebrate the birthday of the company's founder Avo Uvezian. Last year’s release was the 85th Anniversary Diademas. I enjoyed this stick immensely, and ranked it at the top of my favorites from 2011. After almost nine months, I raided my stash to see how this beauty was smoking.

The cigar opened with the same woody core and offered a lot of pepper up front. By the middle of the second third, the pepper settles down and smoke becomes very smooth and creamy. A nice caramel sweetness lingers on the finish. Although, it is smoking great, I do think that some of the flavors were muted during the second half. Smoke em if you got em! And keep an aye out for the 86th Anniversary!

Saturday Afternoon: Tatuaje Cojuno 2003

I am embarrassed to admit this, but it had been well more than a year since I have had a Tatuaje Cojuno. While spending a beautiful Saturday afternoon on my deck with the wife and boy, I ended the day by pouring a glass of Rum and sparking up a Tatuaje Cojuno 2003 that had been resting since my birthday last October.

Wow! What a smoke! I will be picking more of these up soon (along with the 2012 release that is due to land next week). A no brainer! “Box Worthy”

Sunday Afternoon: Kristoff Criollo Matador

Sunday brought doom and gloom via the weather, but I did manage to brave the dropping temperature and rain to do some grilling with the company of this 6.5 x 56 Toro from Kristoff. This stick performed well with a free flowing draw and a ton of smoke.The flavor profile didn’t change up much but it was enjoyable. Something I would certainly smoke again in a similar situation. “The Angler”

Until next week, keep burning!

Monday
Mar192012

The Weekend Redux: March 19, 2012

It is Saint Patty’s Day weekend and with the weather beautiful here in the NE, I set out to get some much needed smoking done. Here’s a quick run down of what I have been smoking.

Friday Afternoon: Viaje Super Shot 12 Gauge

Viaje has been shipping a lot of new releases the last few weeks and I am happy to say, Andre is hitting them out of the park! Two weeks ago I smoked the Viaje Super Shot 10 Gauge and was blown away by that stick. So when Stogie Santa texted that the 12 Gauge had arrived, I immediately had him send me some. This little 3.5 x 52 shot gun shell is rich in flavor including; earth, espresso, dark chocolate, leather, and red pepper. The flavor profile is full with strength only falling slightly less than full (I found the 10 Gauge to be stronger). I think Ben from Nice Tight Ash is right, these should age tremendously. “Box Worthy”

Saturday Morning: Olivares Aging Room M356 Rondo

Gift to be by Stogie Santa I really enjoyed this smoke. This Dominican Puro had some nice balance of cedar and spice with some sweetness on the finish. Great construction and burn. I would certainly recommend a "Fiver" to check it out.

Saturday Afternoon: Viaje White Label Project St. Patrick’s (2012) Candela

The 2011 release of the Viaje WLP Candela made it to my top 20 of 2011. The 2012 release has a bright green wrapper and is a slightly larger (5 x 52). Much like the 2011, the wrapper is razor thin and I did have some cracking occur. Regardless, this stick performed well and offered up some great flavor on Saint Patrick’s day. Medium in body and strength. The wrapper offered some nice grassy undertones but did not overpower the cigar. Worth a try when you want something different.

Sunday Morning: La Aroma de Cuba EE No. 2

The a Aroma de Cuba EE No. 2 is a 5 x 50 Robusto that sports a Ecuadorian wrapper and pairs perfectly with a morning cup of coffee. I enjoy the rich flavors and the underlying sweetness that is present. It is not the first time I have posted about this stick and it probably won’t be the last. “Box Worthy”.

Sunday Evening: Hoyo de Monterrey Le Hoyo du Roi (2000)

Gifted to me by Bill Berris of The Cigar Snapshot, this twelve year old Corona from the land of forbidden fruit had superb balance and smoothness. It was the perfect way to end the weekend. Nub’d it!  “Box Worthy” or maybe I should say “Cab Worthy”.

Until next time, keep burning!