One of the main things experienced cigar enthusiasts learn is that there’s always something new to learn about cigars. The exchange and passing along of cigar knowledge is a time-honored tradition in world of cigar smoking, as experiences BOTLs and SOTLs share their experiences, tips, and tricks with new smokers just starting to become interested in the hobby. We put together this little test so you can see how much of an expert you are, pit your knowledge against your smoking buddies, and maybe teach you something new! Continue reading
How’s this? You’re hanging out with your compañeros, enjoying some cigars, drinks, snacks, etc., and you reach one of those moments when everyone goes silent. Here are my picks for the top 10 cigar smoking tricks you can do with your cigars to liven up the mood. Continue reading
A recently published survey noted that it’s a tiny number – less than 1% of the cigar-smoking community as a whole – that are women, enjoying a fine, premium handmade cigar. Since I’ve never been one to just “trust the numbers” (see: miles per gallon on any car I’ve ever owned), I think that number is actually higher. And even if it isn’t, I think that number should grow. Women smokers have plenty to contribute to this fine cigar lifestyle of ours – when Delicia the Cigar Vixen contributed her thoughts on the subject recently, she agreed: “It’s easy to assume that the cigar life is a ‘men only’ pastime… But as a ‘lady of the leaf,’ it has been amazing to see more women taking part in this classic pastime, in addition to the world of Cosmopolitans and Brunch, women have developed an appreciation for one of the truly finer things in life: a quality cigar.” Continue reading
The Famous Cigar Blog… We’re Baaaaack!
So the Famous Cigar Blog is back here at Famous Smoke Shop and it’s truly better than ever. Why do I say that? Because this is Famous – we do everything bigger and better than anyone else out there, and we say that with a proud confidence. We love cigars, we live the lifestyle and immerse ourselves in the culture.
For some reason, the powers that be picked yours truly to write this Welcome Back Blog, hopefully because of my witty and whimsical Polish / Italian north Jersey persona… or it could be that the other writers are stuck in traffic this morning. But hey, whatever the reason, if you know me at all, you know that I am one passionate son of a bitch when it comes to talking about the world of the hand rolled tobacco goodness. Continue reading
I have that lightning-strike of a reaction from time to time, since I sometimes like to cruise ebay on my laptop while smoking a cigar on the patio (viva wi-fi!). I like history, and looking for historical or vintage items. So I search for the same stuff from time to time: sixties-era Slingerland drums, collectibles that reference my vacation spot in New England, and vintage Donatus-style cigar cutters. Occasionally I find some gems, so I decided to just type in “vintage cigar” and see what came up…“Results found for ‘vintage cigar’ – 8,246”
Cool! Let’s start digging.
Sorry this is coming a few days after the fact – but I’m still getting my feet back under me after Cigarnival 2012. My original thought was to write something that was a grand recap of everything that happened here at Leaf this past weekend, but “when someone sings his own praises, he always gets the tune too high.” Continue reading
I recently received the following email from Cliff, one of our CigarAdvisor.com readers who writes to me pretty often, usually with a question or a comment about cigars. He had seen the newsletters in which we offered “blind” samplers.
The first blind sampler had 4 cigars, all the same cigar, without their bands. You had to guess the blender. The second blind sampler had 5 different cigars, all top-flight luxury cigars, except you didn’t know what you were buying until you opened the package and saw the bands, which were left out of the photo. For some reason this compelled him to write to me about bundle cigars, so here goes… Continue reading
Has this ever happened to you? You’re on vacation or traveling for business outside the United States. You see a cigar store and you decide to walk in. Sometimes, the store will even have a sign outside or in the window advertising Cuban cigars with an oversized Cuban COHIBA cigar band. You browse around and see that they have a decent supply of Cuban cigars: COHIBAS, Romeo y Julietas, Partagas’s, etc. The prices aren’t too bad, or maybe you haggled a little with the shopkeeper and he agreed to sell them to you at the negotiated price. You light one up and it tastes pretty good. You fly home, get through U.S. Customs without a hassle, and you can’t wait to tell your cigar-smoking friends that you got your hands on some genuine Havanas. But did you?
My reason for touching on this subject is that within the last several months, I’ve heard from two readers who were certain they had lucked into some wonderful Cuban cigars, only to learn from Yours Truly that they were not the real deal.
The first victim, Bob, wrote: “My daughter just returned from the Dominican Republic and brought me a box of Romeo & Julietas Churchills. The box was cello sealed, the 2 seals from Dominican Republic were on underneath the cello. I opened the box to find a very strange R & J label which says HABANA on them all. (Pictures attached.) What is this, Cuban cigars being exported illegally? Or just knock offs? I have smoked one and it is great, no complaints there. Just curious.”
I wrote back: They may be swapping out the boxes and filling them with Habanos, as you suggest. However, the bands on your cigars do not match the band in my Cyclopedia of Havana Cigars. Those have a thinner brown band with the two black rule lines above and below, but the Cuban version says “ROMEO Y JULIETA” (all caps) in a small font, and the word “CHURCHILL” below in a bold, all-caps font, with the word “HABANA” to the right in small type in all caps. So, there is a chance they could be knock-offs. If they were Dominicans, they wouldn’t go through the trouble of printing Habana on the label. If they smoke well, taste great and you got them as a gift, then perhaps it doesn’t matter whether or not they’re real Cuban cigars.
However, the detective in me had to be sure. So I wrote to my source at Altadis U.S.A., the company that produces both Dominican and Cuban Romeo y Julieta cigars. I included Bob’s message and pix, and here’s what she wrote back:
“They are probably knock-offs. I can’t imagine why anyone would put real Cuban cigars in a Dominican marked box. The packaging nor the cigars appear to be from our Dominican Factory, TDG, which is the manufacturer for all RyJ cigars legal in the US.”
My assumption was, the clerk told her she was buying the Cuban version, and they put them in a Dominican-made box to get the Cuban cigars through US Customs. Since his daughter believed she was buying the genuine article, no harm no foul, but she probably overpaid for them. The good thing was that at least Bob liked the way they tasted, and he took it all in good spirit.
Then, just last month, I got an email from Cliff, who wrote that he had run across “a full box of Cuban Cohibas,” and even went so far as to send me two of them. One was an Espléndido and the other was an Ediciôn Limitada 2010. I figured I’d save the latter and lit up the Espléndido. It tasted fine to me; very smooth, mild, earthy, and I thought “Pretty good.” However, my colleague Hayward, scrutinized the bands and wasn’t satisfied that the cigars were authentic. So, I went to our “Master Tobacconist,” Jeff Brown (now manager of Leaf Cigar Bar & Restaurant), since in a former job he had spent a lot of time in Argentina and Cuba. After that Jeff traveled extensively between The Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua sampling and buying cigars for Famous Smoke Shop. I handed him the cigar and let him have a few puffs.
“They’re Dominicans,” said Jeff.
I hated to do it, but I just had to write back to Cliff. “Please don’t shoot the messenger, but I (actually We),
believe that these Cohibas are counterfeits. The bands are wrong. I’m smoking the Churchill now and it tastes very good, but according to our master tobacconist, it’s not a Cuban, but more likely a Dominican. Now I am glad you sent these, but I just hope you didn’t overpay for them.”
Like Bob, Cliff took the message in stride, and now all’s well in Mudville.
If you’re ever in a store that sells “genuine” Cuban cigars, it’s in your best interest to have the clerk open the box before completing the sale, especially when buying cigars in the Caribbean and Mexico. You’ll have much better luck in Canada, and European countries like Germany, Switzerland, and the U.K. Though you may pay more, it’s more prudent to buy Cuban cigars from a genuine tobacconist or the duty-free shops at the airport.
In the long run, it’s safer to stay with websites and stores like Famous Smoke Shop that sell “legal” cigars at discount prices than to risk your money on what could possibly be something phony. Plus, I’m pretty confident that the embargo will be lifted in the not-too-distant future.
Finally, here are some useful links Hayward found that will help you identify authentic Cohibas and other Havana-made cigars.
I promise this is relevant to cigars, so please…bear with me.
The Loudness War has seen recorded music compressed into oblivion, forsaking dynamic range (the difference between quiet & loud parts) for apparent loudness throughout any given track. The resulting records pack more punch, but are fatiguing to listen to.
In the classic Mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, guitarist Nigel Tufnel is proudly displaying his assortment of guitar amplifiers. Among them is one particular model whose knobs all go up to 11, for when they need that extra punch (“It’s one louder than 10, innit?”).
Haven’t cigars basically done the same thing? It used to be that Punch, Hoyo de Monterrey, and La Gloria Cubana were strong, full-bodied cigars. Besides ample strength and body, these cigars had tons of nuance. But these do not compare in strength to La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero or Camacho Coyolar Puro, let alone the newest crop of full-bodied cigars that feature ultra-strong blends: Cain F, Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Dark Corojo, EO Brands’ La Bomba, among others.
Don’t get me wrong…I enjoy a really strong full-bodied cigar now and then. I really do (I’m smoking a 601 Green as I type this). And I grant you that everything becoming more extreme is sort of a sign of the times. But where do we draw the line?
Have cigars forsaken character for raw power? Have your say below with a comment!
If you’re a cigar-smoking Mom or Dad, I want to hear from you.
Like any good father, I want what’s best for my kids. With my oldest still under 4, they’re still pretty far removed from chats about sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll. But sooner or later, they’re going to start asking material questions about cigars and why I smoke them. The issues surrounding cigars and fatherhood are complex, and they’re going to receive a lot of information from a lot of different sources about cigars and tobacco products in general.
My oldest already knows what cigars are. He saw a cigar in the ashtray and asked me what it was, and I answered him frankly. I’m not about to insult his intelligence by pretending not to hear his question, or by spouting off some falsehood.
I guess the bottom line is this: I’m not interested in indoctrinating him in any way, but neither am I about to hide my cabinet humidor.
I DO consciously abstain from smoking in their presence. While I’m not ashamed of cigars, smoking is not a behavior I wish to normalize in their worldview. Besides, with few exceptions, actually enjoying one when they’re about is near-impossible.
Do I look forward to sharing a cigar with my kids someday? Sure, when they’re 18 and old enough to know the difference between occasionally enjoying a fine cigar and chain-smoking cigarettes. I plan to teach them about enjoying cigars responsibly, and make sure they’re aware of the health risks associated with tobacco. I believe that adults have the right to make an informed decision about tobacco use, and when it comes to cigars and fatherhood, I plan to help inform my children so they can make their own choice when the time comes.
How do/did you handle the smoking question vis-à-vis cigars? Are there any tips on cigars and fatherhood that you can give to a relative rookie Dad? Thanks in advance.