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International Pipe Smoking Day 2012

20 Feb

In honor of International Pipe Smoking Day (February 20, 2012), the Cigar Sasquatch has put down his cigar and picked up his pipe. This afternoon’s choice is a robust Burley English blend from the world-famous Racine and Laramie Tobacconists at Old Town San Diego. It’s complex and woody, with cocoa and toffee flavors, and a taste of roasted meats.

ENJOY!

Photo of a tobacco pipe.

International Pipe Smoking Day

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Posted in Special Edition

 

Frank Llaneza 1961

07 Feb

Synopsis:
Blender: Frank Llaneza
Maker: Altadis
Filler: Nicaraguan/Dominican
Binder: Nicaraguan
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Criollo
Flavors: Earthy, espresso, caramel, tangy sweet
Draw/Volume/Strength: 0 / +1 / 4
Rating: 9.1

Look down at the cigar in your hand. Is it Cuban? If not, chances are you wouldn’t be smoking it if it weren’t for Frank Llaneza.

The current issue of Cigar Aficionado magazine lists their top 25 cigars of 2011. Eight of the top 10 contain Nicaraguan leaf (the other two are Cuban puros). There are three Nicaraguan puros, and three other cigars which are Nicaraguan in filler and binder, with a wrapper of another origin. So to say that Nicaraguan tobaccos made a strong showing would be to put it lightly. No other tobacco growing location even came close. Not Honduras, not the Dominican Republic, not even Cuba.

Photo of Frank Llaneza 1961 cigar

Frank Llaneza 1961 Double Magnum (6½x54)

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Posted in Dark Natural, Toros

 

Cigar Quotes

31 Jan

Cigar lovers are as diverse and complex as the cigars they smoke. Their little bits of lore and witticism have left us a treasure trove of noteworthy quotations, a few of which I will share with you here.

Photo of a cigar and a humidor.

"Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." ~Sigmund Freud

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Posted in Special Edition

 

Reposado ’96 Maduro

24 Jan

Synopsis:
Blender: AJ Fernandez
Maker: Tabacalera Fernandez
Filler: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Maduro
Flavors: Tangy maduro, wood, fresh tobacco
Draw/Volume/Strength: +2 / +2 / 4
Rating: 8.2

I’m trying to rid my life of clutter. Call it a New Year’s Resolution, though I never formally resolved to anything. I’ve just found myself driven lately to get rid of the things I don’t need, and to organize the things I do (and praying for the wisdom to know the difference).

My cigar collection is no exception; I had a fruitful holiday season, and voluminous though it is, the Sasquatch-a-dor was bursting at its proverbial seams. A clean-out and reorganization was in order, so I solicited the aid of a willing helper, who imagined (not unwisely) that any unwanted cigars might fall his way.

Photo of Reposado '96 Maduro Cigar

Reposado '96 Maduro (7x58)

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Posted in Figurados, Maduro

 

CAO Brazilia Chango

21 Jan

Synopsis:
Blender: Fidel Olivas
Maker: CAO Fabrica de Tabacos
Filler: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Wrapper: Brazilian Arapiraca
Flavors: Fresh herbs, white pepper spice, tropical earth → floral, semi-sweet, wood, coffee beans
Draw/Volume/Strength: -1 / 0 / 4
Rating: 9.0

The CAO Brazilia Chango is available here.

There was a time when cigar makers wouldn’t advertise the fact that their cigars contained Brazilian tobaccos. In fact, when Tim Ozenger of CAO first brought the idea to dealers prior to launching the Brazilia line in 2001, they told him to avoid saying it was Brazilian. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the tobacco. In fact, Brazilian leaf has been a mainstay in non-Cuban cigars since the early days after the embargo. The issue was one of branding: Would cigar smokers embrace Brazil.

Thankfully, Ozgener didn’t listen to the nay-sayers, and Brazilia became one of CAO’s best performers.

Photo of CAO Brazilia Chango cigar

CAO Brazilia Chango (6½x50)

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Posted in Maduro, Toros

 

Diesel Unilimted d5

15 Jan

Synopsis:
Blender: AJ Fernandez
Maker: Tabacalera Fernandez
Filler: Nicaraguan/ Mexican (San Andreas)
Binder: Honduran
Wrapper: Honduran Ligero
Flavors: Smoked meats, nuts, oak, spice, caramelized sweetness
Draw/Volume/Strength: 0 / -1 / 4
Rating: 9.3

This review of the Diesel Unlimited d5 is presented courtesy of the Stogie Boys, the fastest growing online cigar retailer in America.

The Cigar Sasquatch isn’t much for sports, either watching or doing. I try to stay active (certainly not as much as I should), but certain exceptions aside (the Olympics and championship tennis), I would rather read a book or converse with fellow BOTLs while smoking a cigar, without the distractions of meaningless athletic entanglements to detract from the experience. There is, however, one sport that I come back to time and again. It’s not much for spectators, nor does it offer something for everyone, but it still appeals to the competitor in me. It’s the sport of paintball.

Paintball is a so-called “action sport” in which players with air- or gas-operated “markers” attempt to tag each other with dye-filled capsules. Okay, that’s the official description. What really happens is, you and your buddies go out and shoot a bunch of other players (and sometimes each other) with these increasingly sophisticated paint guns. They’re capable of making dozens of shots per second, and when you’re on the receiving end, they leave nasty (and abundant) glowing red welts.

Photo of Diesel Unlimited d5 Cigar

Diesel Unlimited d5 (5½x54)

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Posted in Dark Natural, Robustos

 

La Gloria Cubana Artesanos Retro Especialé Club

12 Nov

Synopsis:
Maker: General Cigar
Filler: Nicaraguan/Dominican
Binder: Nicaraguan/Mexican (Double Binder)
Wrapper: Connecticut-Seed Honduran
Flavors: Wood, fresh tobacco, pecans → roasted red peppers, light spice, tangy sweetness
Draw/Volume/Strength: +1 / +2 / 3
Rating: 9.1

Retro. There’s something innately appealing about bygone eras. It’s well known that fashions resurface every 20 or 25 years, but what often appears the second time around are merely caricatures of iconic themes, from the fluorescent colors of the mid 1980s to the bell bottoms of the 1970s to the tie-dye of the late 1960s. And then there’s Steam Punk, aviator caps, and ironic handlebar moustaches which find their way into modern beer commercials.

There’s a reason these retro styles have an appeal beyond what’s in and what’s out of fashion. They call to mind a “simpler” time, the “good old days,” when things were different, when things were better.

This is, of course, a load of utter bull shit.

Photo of La Gloria Cubana Artesanos Retro Especiale Club

La Gloria Cubana Artesanos Retro Especiale Club (5¾ x 47)

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Posted in Coronas

 

Diamond Crown Julius Caeser

30 Oct

Synopsis:
Blender: Carlos Fuente Sr., Carlos Fuente Jr., Stanford Newman
Maker: Tabacalera A. Fuente
Filler: “Central American”
Binder: Not Available
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Cuban-Seed
Flavors: Citrus, cedar, wood, chocolate → floral/ herbal, nuts
Draw/Volume/Strength: 0 / 0 / 3
Rating: 9.3

Julius Caeser Newman emigrated to the Unites States in 1888. Known as JC (the “Caeser” added on Ellis Island by an immigration officer who decided young Julius needed a middle name, and who also presumably misspelled it), his particular version of the American Dream involved a long apprenticeship in cigar rolling, finally selling his first 10 wheels to grocers around his family’s Cleveland, Ohio home. He was 20 years old.

Today, J.C. Newman Cigars is the oldest family-owned premium cigar maker in the US. To honor their founder and Great-grandfather, the company released the Diamond Crown Julius Caeser in 2010. These cigars were originally only available at select Diamond Crown Lounges around the country. It has since become available at a few on-line retailers. After an exhaustive search, I located a retailer who carried the Julius Caeser, but circumstances being what they were, it sat in the Sasquatch-a-dor for about 9 months– not intentionally, I just didn’t get around to it. You see, aging this cigar for 9 months would be a pointless gesture. But more on that in a bit.

Photo of Diamond Crown Julius Caeser cigar

Diamond Crown Julius Caeser Toro (6x52)

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Posted in Dark Natural, Toros

 

7-20-4 Corona

18 Oct

Synopsis:
Blender: Kurt Kendal
Filler: Nicaraguan, Honduran, Mexican, Columbian
Binder: Costa Rican
Wrapper: Brazilian Mata Fina
Flavors: Pepper, earth, leather → oak, espresso
Draw/Volume/Strength: +1 / +3 / 4
Rating: 9.2

Never smoke a Robusto when you should be smoking a Churchill, and never smoke a Churchill when you should be smoking a Corona. Implicit in this simple Sasquatchism is the notion that there is a right time and place for cigars of certain sizes. “Indeed,” you may say, “but what are they?” Good question, I say. Allow me to philosophize.

Regular readers know that the Cigar Sasquatch likes things big, so I can frequently be seen smoking Churchills. If there’s a good time to smoke a Robusto, I can only say that it’s when you get one as a gift and you don’t want to be rude, or when it comes in a sampler with a bunch of other sizes, and there’s nothing left in that blend that you can smoke instead (I’m not a fan of Robustos). So what’s the right time for a Corona? Any time you bloody-well please.

Photo of 7-20-4 Corona Cigar

7-20-4 Corona (5⅝x46)

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Posted in Coronas

 

Nub 464T Series Part 2: Maduro

12 Oct

Synopsis:
Blender: Sam Leccia
Maker: Oliva Cigar Co.
Filler: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Wrapper: Brazilian Maduro
Flavors: Black pepper, fresh tobacco, earth, oak
Draw/Volume/Strength: -1 / +2 / 3
Rating: 9.0

Today I present the second installment in the 4-part series evaluating the principal blends in the Nub line from the Oliva Cigar Company. Nub cigars are defined by their large ring gauges and short lengths, intended to turn the entire cigar into the “sweet spot.” The line offers a variety of vitolas with none longer than 4 inches, and all with ring gauges of 58 or more.

For this series, I’ll be smoking the 464T, a Torpedo (4×64), in each of the Habano, Cameroon, Connecticut, and Maduro wrappers. I’ll be delivering these reviews in no particular order.

Photo of Nub Maduro 464T

Nub Maduro 464T (4x64)

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Posted in Figurados, Maduro

 

CRA Exclusive from Casa Fernandez

13 Jul

There is a war going on to take away your rights! The enemy is well-funded, highly influential, and fights dirty. And they’ve been successful, too.

Do you realize that there are cities in California in which you cannot legally sit in your own back yard and smoke a cigar? Are you aware that the FDA is currently working to take over the regulation of cigars and tobacco across the country? Do you realize that the enemy’s ultimate goal is nothing short of an outright ban of tobacco across the country?

Thankfully there’s an army fighting for you. In our American history, there have been many instances during which citizens literally took up arms against the government to contest the usurpation of rights or the raising of taxes. Maybe you’ve heard of a few. Fortunately, these armed rebellions are a thing of the past, but the fight remains, and the enemy will be satisfied with nothing less than absolute victory.

Photo of CRA-exclusive cigars from Punch and Casa fernandez

CRA-exclusive cigars from Punch and Casa Fernandez

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Cigars in the Tropics

11 Jul

I used to be an avid skier. I still enjoy it very much, I just don’t do it as frequently as I have formerly. I’ve been all over the country for skiing. I would plan whole vacations around it, whether to Colorado, Utah, Tahoe, or even locations in Canada. That was my travel activity.

Well, my leisure pursuits have changed over the years, and as it turns out, so has my vacation style. You see, a ski vacation is a busy thing. And as my non-vacation life became more busy, I wanted my vacations to be less busy. I think that makes sense. On a ski trip, you have to get up, get dressed, get your boots on, carry your skis, and spend your day trying to get the most out of your (fairly expensive) lift ticket. It was a lot of fun, but it ends up being a fair amount of work, too.

Photo of Arturo fuente Hemingway Classic cigar resting on a natural lava rock bowl

Arturo Fuente Hemingway Classic (7x48) resting in a natural ash tray.

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Posted in Figurados, Perfectos, Special Edition

 

Father’s Day Special: Padrόn Churchill Maduro

19 Jun

Synopsis:
Blender: Jorge Padrόn
Maker: Piloto Cigars
Filler: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun-grown Maduro
Flavors: Toasted oak, dark chocolate → cocoa, earth, tobacco
Draw/Volume/Strength: 0 / +2 / 3
Rating: 9.1

In honor of Father’s Day, I’m smoking the Padrόn Maduro Churchill. I selected this cigar for the Father’s Day special for a number of reasons. First, the Padrόn organization is a family operation, and considers quality to be a matter of family honor (in fact, that’s their company slogan). Secondly, the “Padrόn Series” (sometimes called the “Thousand Series” after of the names of several of the vitolas), is considered “Everyman’s Padrόn” for its affordable price and unshakable quality. And though my father is not a cigar man (I’m pretty sure he has never smoked a thing in his life), he certainly is an “Everyman,” as I’m sure many of your fathers are.

What do I mean by that? My dad is an average Joe, hard-working, dedicated to his family, selfless and giving, slow to anger, quick to forgive, a man full of lessons (mostly of the organic kind), who did (and does) his best for a large family of modest means. He’s a man’s man, massive in stature, mild in temperament, and brimming over with experience, the stories of which he freely (and repeatedly) shares at any suitable occasion.

Photo of Padrόn Churchill cigar

Padrόn Churchill (6 7/8 x 46)

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Posted in Churchills, Maduro, Special Edition

 

EP Carrillo Regalias Real

15 Jun

Synopsis:
Blender: Ernesto Perez-Carrillo
Maker: EPC Cigar Co.
Filler: Nicaraguan/Dominican
Binder: Nicaraguan (Double)
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Flavors: Floral, nuts, white pepper → herbs, espresso
Draw/Volume/Strength: -2 / +1 / 3
Rating: 9.1

Can a cigar be both straightforward and subtle? Can it have bold, up-front flavors, and also be finely nuanced? Of course it can. But it’s tough. In fact, that’s the essence of a current trend in boutique cigars: rich, striking expressions, interwoven with fine threads of flavor, creating a complex and wholly satisfying experience.

The EP Carrillo core line are just such cigars, though this marvelous trend isn’t limited to cigars. It can be seen in fine cuisine, wines, and even such trend-buckers as single malt Scotch (no mean feat for a product that’s still considered young at 12 years). The Balvenie, for example, is producing some incredible Scotches at 15 and 17 years, featuring multiple cask agings, and delivering a stunning palate of flavors. So how did they know 17 years ago that we’d want to drink this stuff right now? There’s only one answer: The Force!

Photo of EP Carrillo Regalias Real Cigar

EP Carrillo Regalias Real (5 5/8 x 46)

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Posted in Coronas

 

Warlock Toro

08 Jun

Time to get with the program.

After a brief hiatus, the Cigar Sasquatch is back, and boasting a whole slew of new cigars to share with you. You know, it’s a funny thing about tobacco. The more we have, the more we seem to want. I chalk it up to nicotine. It’s not pretty, but there it is. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that cigars are trending stronger and richer. What used to pass for “strong” or “full-bodied” ten years ago now are generally considered medium at best. They almost seem quaint by comparison to today’s powerhouses. There are obviously exceptions to this, but for the most part, strong is the new medium.

Altadis, the mega-conglomerate with dozens of brands to its name and perhaps hundreds of individual frontmarks, has gotten with the program in a big new way. And I’m happy to say they’ve gotten on board the Nicaraguan train as well.

Warlock Cigars are a brand-new line in the Altadis stable, blended by the capable hands of Omar Ortez. These Nicaraguan-made beauties feature a mix of Nicaraguan and Dominican longfillers, a Nicaraguan binder, and a slick, shiny Ecuadorian Cubano wrapper. All of the vitolas of this line are 54-ring with the exception of the Corona at 44. I selected the Toro (6×54); the roll is solid, and the wrapper is dripping with oils, with some pronounced veins. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Dark Natural, Toros

 

Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 Robusto Grande

20 Apr

Nicaraguan cigars are the best in the world.

There, I said it. Do I have your attention now?

I didn’t say “Nicaraguan cigars are among the best in the world.” I said they are the best. No, I haven’t smoked the Cuban Cohiba Behike, and at $40+ per stick, I probably won’t. Those of us who smoke cigars for pleasure (rather than for prestige) know that there’s no minimum dollar amount for a pleasurable cigar. But for many of us, there is a maximum.

Photo of Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 Robusto Grande cigar

Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 Robusto Grande (5½x52)

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Posted in Dark Natural, Robustos

 

Davidoff Aniversario #1

13 Apr

April 13th, 2010 is a date which shall live in infamy. It’s the publication date of the very first Cigar Sasquatch review! Of course the Cigar Sasquatch existed as such before the first review was published, but as no one outside a small group of cigar lovers in my immediate circle of friends had ever even heard the words “Cigar” and “Sasquatch” spoken together before that date, it has become our official anniversary.

Photo of the wooden tube of the Davidoff Aniversario #1

Davidoff Aniversario #1

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Posted in Churchills, Natural

 

Urgent Legislative Issue in California

11 Apr

Dear Friends,

There is an important piece of legislation going before the California State Legislature on April 13, 2011 entitled SB 575. It would effectively eliminate the smoking of cigars and pipes in tobacconist shops, cigar and pipe lounges, and all of the few remaining places where cigars and pipes can be enjoyed in public.

This legislation must be stopped.

You must contact your representatives in the State Assembly and State Senate and demand that this destructive piece of proposed legislation be struck down. To find your representatives, click the following link:

http://www.legislature.ca.gov/port-zipsearch.html

All of the legislators have a “Contact Me” link on their web sites, and an easy-to-follow web form for submitting your statement of dissent.

You must do this NO LATER THAN APRIL 12, 2011! This issue is scheduled to go into a hearing before the Senate on April 13. To have an impact, your voice must be heard before the hearing!

The following text was borrowed (slightly modified) from an email bulletin shared by our friends at Telford Pipe and Cigar Store.

“Dear [Senator or Assemblyman]

I am writing in opposition to proposed SB 575 as introduced by Senator DeSaulnier and coauthored by Assembly Member Hill on February 17, 2011. In its present form, it would eliminate smoking in tobacconists and other places where smoking is permitted currently.

The legislation as proposed is a direct infringement of my liberties and violates both the Constitution of the United States of America and the Constitution of the State of California.

Though often villainized, tobacco has been an important part of America’s history and culture for centuries. Despite this, this legislation pursues an agenda based solely on a visceral dislike of smokers in any form. It is arbitrary and capricious, and has no grounding in law.

No one is forced to work in a tobacconist or other area where smoking is permitted. Indeed, such employees are often smokers themselves and are fully aware of any risks they may run in pursuing that employment.

Moreover, the legislation as proposed would suppress if not destroy in California the legitimate enterprises of tobacco retailers, wholesalers, brokers and smoking lounge operators. Thousands of jobs are at stake, and major sources of tax revenues are in danger of disappearing.

In one example, the state Board of Equalization noted in 2010 that after higher taxes were imposed on cigarettes, sales declined over 8%, and cigarette tax revenues collected fell by $74 million. These tax revenues are desperately needed by the state, counties and towns of California, as are the jobs that would be eliminated if this disastrous legislation passes into law.

There are millions of smokers in the state of California. They are aware of the issues and they vote.

Clearly, the proposed legislation would infringe personal liberties and inflict great economic harm to your constituents. For these reasons, I demand that the proposed legislation be withdrawn in full at once.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]”

Finally, The CRA has a simple petition form you can complete here:
http://www.cigarrights.org/petition_California001.php (scroll down)
The petition is helpful, but it won’t take the place of a direct notification to your representatives.

The full text of the bill is here (April 6 revision).

ACT NOW! YOUR LIBERTIES ARE AT RISK!

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601 Habano Robusto

09 Apr

I have long lived by the Sasquatchism, “Never smoke a Robusto when you should be smoking a Churchill.” Of the classic cigar shapes, the Robusto is probably my least favorite. I recognize that there’s a time and place for a compact cigar, but more often than not, a Robusto only arouses my appetite, without bedding it back down again. So when I’m going small, it’s generally due to time constraints, and in such cases, I’m more likely to pull a Corona than a Robusto.

There are, however, those who argue that a Robusto is the purest expression of a cigar blend. The larger ring gauge (relative to a Corona) allows the blender the pack the full compliment of leaves into the cigar, while the 5-inch Robusto length allows the cigar to burn out before becoming saturated with tars, causing the flavor to turn. So you get all of the steak, with none of the gristle. And I can agree with that assessment, as well.

Photo of 601 Habano Robusto

601 Habano Robusto (5x50)

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Posted in Robustos

 

La Flor Dominicana Mysterio

05 Apr

There’s a certain hierarchy to any social structure. Bees and ants have their Queens and workers (termites even have Kings), elephants have their Matriarchs, and wolf packs have their Alphas, Betas, and Omegas. Countless comparisons can be drawn between the social arrangements of animals and those of humans, but one of the most compelling is that of the Lone Wolf.

Such a man is Litto Gomez, owner of La Flor Dominicana. Obsessed with quality, Gomez doesn’t fixate on numbers like many manufacturers do, beyond using them to gauge the excellence of his cigars. He didn’t come from a cigar family, so he’s not bound by the constraints of doing things they way they’ve always been done. He embraces tradition, but shrugs off any that prevent him from doing things his own way.

Photo of La flor Dominicana Mysterio Cigar showing details of head and foot.

La Flor Dominicana Mysterio (7x54)

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Posted in Figurados, Perfectos