Thursday, October 31, 2013

Drew Estate Liga Privada Papas Fritas

Drew Estate Liga Privada Papas Fritas
I picked up a four pack tin of the Papas Fritas during my weekly trip to my favorite cigar store here in Spokane, Cigar Train. I have been reading about these for a few weeks now and have wanted to give a Drew Estate product a try, (there are Undercrowns and Feral Pig in my humidor but I haven't had the time to smoke them yet), since I have been hearing good things about them. These short filler cigars are rolled using the clippings from the Liga Privada No. 9, a maduro wrapper and a Brazilian binder.

These had only been in the humidor for a week but I couldn't wait any longer. I peeled back the cellophane and was pleasantly surprised to see the thickness of the maduro wrapper. The wrapper did contain a couple of smaller veins but it looked good with a fair amount of tooth to it. Putting the cigar to my nose I could smell notes of tobacco and anise. When I clipped the little pig tail off I was a bit surprised for a minute by the loose tobacco that fell out but then I remembered it was a short filler cigar. Testing the cold draw I found it a bit firm, but fine and I could taste flavor notes of tobacco, ripe tree fruit and a sweet wrapper, nice!

After toasting the foot with a match for a bit, the flame jumped from the match to the cigar with the first draw and we were off. The first thing I noticed about the Papas Fritas was it's strength; I would have to call this one full strength from the get-go. The initial flavors that appeared in the first 1/4 inch were tree fruit, black pepper and toast, yet each draw had a slightly different flavor note.  This continued for the entire length of the cigar with a bit of oak and mocha poking out every once in a while. After the first 1/4 inch the pepper did disappear except on the retro hale, which was very peppery.

The burn on this cigar was amazing; it was spot-on the entire length. About the mid point oil started to show up on the wrapper just above the burn line. As the cigar burnt, it left behind a firm light gray/black ash that didn't fall until the half way point.

Overall this was a very nice cigar with good strength, flavor and burning characteristics. I am looking forward to smoking the others once they have a bit more time in the humidor.

Total: 92

How to smoke a pipe: Part II care and maintenance

Written by: Pipe Tobacco Place

If not cleaned regularly, tobacco pipes can develop a sour taste. After you have smoked your pipe and knocked out all of the ash, use a pipe cleaner and run it gently through the stem, pushing it back-and-forth several times. Use as many pipe cleaners as you need until the last one comes out almost completely clean.

Then take a pipe cleaner, bend it in half and swab the inside of the bowl with it, making one complete revolution in order to avoid building up too much cake, the carbonized tobacco that's stuck to the inside of the bowl.

Cake insulates the bowl and allows good air flow around the tobacco, promoting a clean, even burn. Cake also prevents bowl burn outs and keeps your pipe burning cool and dry.

Cake should be kept to a maximum of 1/16 of an inch thick, about the thickness of a dime. If the cake is thicker than that, it could expand while you are smoking the pipe and crack the bowl.
When the cake gets thicker than 1/16 of an inch, use a pipe reaming tool to scrape the cake back down to the desired thickness.

When knocking the tobacco ash from the bowl, be sure you handle the pipe by its bowl, and knock it gently against a surface. The best way to knock tobacco out of a pipe is to purchase a cork knocker from your local tobacco shop and place it inside your ashtray.

Don't leave unsmoked tobacco inside your pipe. It tastes bad and can hold moisture in your pipe, which you do not want.

After smoking a pipe, wait a couple of hours to allow it to cool before separating the mouthpiece from the bowl. You may break your pipe if you remove the mouthpiece immediately after smoking.

Once in a while, it's necessary to run pipe cleaners through the stem and shank of your pipe with some type of cleaning solvent in order to keep your pipe fresh and prevent it from absorbing the moisture that's generated by smoking.

There are several good cleaning solvents available at tobacco shops but you can also use alcohol that's more than 90 proof.

Whatever you use, it should be able to break down tar and resins, sterilize your pipe, dry quickly, be high in alcohol content, non-toxic, have minimal taste and not affect the finish on your pipe.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How to smoke a pipe: Part I Smoking your pipe

Written by: Pipe Tobacco Place

Remember to take slow, gentle and steady puffs - sip at the pipe rather than gulp at it. Do not inhale the smoke; draw it in, savor the tobacco’s flavor and then gently blow it out of your mouth.

If you puff too hard, you will burn the tobacco hotter and faster, which can ruin the tobacco’s taste. Puffing too hard on the pipe may also cause condensation to occur inside the tobacco chamber, which will make the tobacco taste even worse and make it harder to keep your tobacco lit.

If you have properly packed and lit your pipe, your smoke should be cool and smooth. If you get “tongue bite,” that dreaded burning sensation on your tongue, you have not packed the tobacco firmly enough.
If your pipe keeps going out, you most likely have loaded it too tightly. Do not worry if you have to light your pipe several times throughout the smoking process. Even the most seasoned pipe smokers often light their pipes several times while enjoying a bowl of their favorite blends.

As the tobacco burns, gently knock the ash out of your pipe and gently tamp (use a pipe tamper) on the remaining layers of tobacco while drawing air through the pipe. If you hear a gurgling sound emanating from the bowl while you puff, excess moisture is condensing in the bowl and stem. Run a pipe cleaner through the mouthpiece all the way down to the bowl. One or two pipe cleaners should soak up the excess moisture, allowing you to continue to enjoy your pipe.

The tobaccos you choose will have different smoking properties. Aromatic blends are usually moister and burn hotter, so take extra care to smoke slowly. Remember, practice makes perfect!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How to smoke a pipe: Introduction

This is an introduction to an eight parts series of articles that will be posted over the next few days.

I purchased my first pipe almost 40 years ago and have had a great many hours of enjoyment and misery along the way. If I had access to this information way back then--way before the internet--my hours of misery would have been drastically reduced. I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I did!

Written by: Pipe Tobacco Place

So you've decided to smoke a pipe? Wise decision! Pipe smoking is one of the most relaxing and pleasurable experiences that a person can enjoy. Smoking a pipe is a distinguished pleasure and you have chosen to join the elite few who call themselves pipe smokers.
As such, always smoke your pipe with respect for others and observe proper smoking etiquette.
There's an almost infinite variety of pipe tobacco available, some of which may offend people around you, so consider the people around you when choosing your tobaccos, especially if you will be indoors. Most of all enjoy the pleasure and peace that smoking a good tobacco pipe can bring.
When cared for properly, your pipes will become favorite friends who will provide you years of relaxing enjoyment.
Of course, pipe smoking requires a certain degree of skill and concentration to maximize your enjoyment of the briar. There are perhaps thousands of people who have imagined themselves as pipe smokers only to give it a try and suffer through it because they didn't have anyone to teach them the proper methods of pipe smoking.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Rocky Patel Cargo Torpedo

Rocky Patel Cargo Torpedo
Time was running out on an auction site. I had already picked up two, five packs and wanted a third to save on the shipping cost when I stumbled upon these at $5.00 with two minutes to go. Since they were Rocky Patel's I figured I couldn't go wrong so I pulled the trigger without even reading the description and two minutes later they were mine. The next day I went back to the auction site to browse around again and saw another five pack. This time I did read the description and to my surprise they were of Cuban-sandwich construction. I was a bit disappointed to read this but figured that since I started this site to review cigars that deliver the best bang-for-your-buck, they would fit right in. Once they arrived I could see that the construction on these sticks were top notch so I tucked them away in my daily smoke humidor so they could rest for a couple weeks.

After two weeks I figured it was time to pull one out and give it a spin, to my surprise this is what I found...

Quick Details
  • Cigar Size: 6.1 x 52 Torpedo
  • Origin:  Nicaragua
  • Wrapper:  Ecuadorian Connecticut
  • Filler: Nicaraguan
  • Price: $2.50 ea. or $49.99 in bundles of 20 online

Construction: Once I pulled the cigar from the cellophane and had a chance to give it a good once over, I found that the construction of this cigar was top-notch! It contained only a few small veins in the wrapper and it was packed firm, but  not hard, the entire length. The aroma coming from the cigar was heavy to toast and once the end was clipped the free flowing cold draw had a nice toast flavor.
Smoking experience: After the end was toasted and lit the first flavor note was a nice even toast flavor. That was quickly followed by flavor notes of sweet tree fruit and then a splash of black pepper appeared. About the mid point the flavor shifted to oak mixed with a nice earthiness. In the final third the toast and tree fruit came back giving this medium body cigar a nice finish. The burn was not perfect, but it never needed correction.

Overall: This was a great tasting medium body cigar. Sure it's a budget stick and is not perfect but it had a nice burn, great flavor and good price point. I won't pass up a deal on these again!

Appearance and construction: 18
Flavor: 18
Smoking characteristics: 18
Overall experience: 18
Purchased Price: 19

Rated: 91

If you've tried these. let me know what you think!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

General Grant cigars

General Grant Cigar
I have seen these General Grant cigars at rock-bottom prices online several times but have been unwilling to pull the trigger on a box so far. The other day while making my weekly run to Cigar Train I saw them in stock so I picked up a couple. I wanted to test-drive one of these on the drive home to decide if they were box-worthy. This is what I found...

Quick Details
  • Cigar Size: 5 x 42 Corona
  • Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Wrapper:  Sumatra
  • Filler: Central America
  • Price: $2.99 ea. or $29.99 in boxes of 30 online

These General Grant cigars are free-hand rolled and a bit rough looking. However, I didn't let the looks of this cigar scare me off. The cold aromas were earthy and feeling down the cigars body, I found it was loosely packed the entire length.

Once burning the cigar did burn well and the ash held tight for the first third. I found the cigar to be about medium in body with a simple and straight forward flavor profile. In the first half, flavors were a mix of oak and earth then at the mid point a bit of black pepper showed up. After the pepper slipped way the earthy oak came back. In the last couple of inches the earth changed to more of a damp barnyard type flavor.

I'm glad I had the chance to smoke two of these General Grant cigars before spending $30 on a full box. I'll probably pick up one or two of these cigars from time to time as yard gars, but to be honest, I purchase much higher quality and better tasting cigars at lower prices on the auction sites.

Rated: 87

Monday, October 21, 2013

How to determine cigar count in a humidor!

How to determine cigar count in a humidor!
Typically, a rule of thumb for figuring out count.... is 100 cigars for every (overall) 700 cubic inches.... (or there 'bouts)  However.... if you take it a step further..... and look at the available space inside the humidor.... take away trays, tray supports, crumb catcher & dividers and let's say you have a space of 15.5" x 8.5" x 4" available to lay your cigars.... which comes out to be 527 cubic inches.... Now.... finally, I get to use the high school formula of Pi R Squared..... in order to determine the volume of a cigar.
Cigar ring gauge is measured in 64ths of an inch... so, the radius of a RG 50 would be 25/64ths.... which converts to .390625  So, with the formula to determine the volume would be (Pi * .390625 squared * the length of the cigar) and using a 6/50 toro as an example, you wind up with a cigar volume of 2.876214 for each cigar.
So... take the 527 cubic inches and divide it by the 2.876214 and you wind up with a mathematical "count" of 183 and some change.... so, technically speaking, that humidor is a 183.227 count humidor..... But, as we all know... real estate gets consumed and picture perfect packaging in the cigar world does not really exist... so, there must be a standard somewhere.... ergo, 100 cigars for ever 700 cubic inches (overall dimensions)....
Hope that helps...

Visit for more cigar news and reviews.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

San Cristobal Seleccion Del Sol

The San Cristobal Seleccion Del Sol is another cigar that proves that a cigar band can be an effective marketing tool. If you visit my personal Pinterest site you will see that I have a fondness for parrots and my desire to own and smoke this cigar won over my thriftiness forcing me to pay full retail to obtain one.

This cigar was released by Ashton cigars in 2009 and is created from tobaccos all grown by Don Pepin Garcia on the family “Estrella” farm in Esteli, Nicaragua. This cigar is described on the Ashton web site as being medium to full-bodied with a rich and complex flavor profile. Let’s see how it turned out.

Quick Details
• Cigar Size: 5 x 52
• Origin: Nicaragua
• Wrapper: Nicaraguan
• Binder: Nicaraguan
• Filler: Nicaraguan
• Price: $8.00 Online

San Cristobal Seleccion Del Sol
Construction: Holding this cigar in my hand, the first thing I notice, besides the cool band with the parrot and the second band around the foot, is the overall quality of construction. The wrapper, which is held in place with a double end cap, has a medium amount of tooth and contains only a couple small veins. As I check along the body I find that overall the cigar is a bit hard; hard enough for me to wonder if it will affect the draw and, it did.

Along with the draw being a bit tight, another area I found disappointing about this cigar was the cold aromas. Both the wrapper and the foot only have faint aromas of earth mixed with cedar. On the bright side though, the cold draw has notes of sweet cream mixed with a bit of earth.

Flavor: Once the foot was toasted and the cigar was burning the first flavors to reach my palate were a nice mix of earth, spicy cedar and a hint of leather. This medium-bodied mix continued to the cigars’ mid-point where I was hit with several puffs of tongue burning red pepper. I was just about to pitch the rest of the cigar when the red pepper was instantly replaced by a nice blast of straight sweet cream.

In the final half, the earthiness and leather gradually came back as the strength built more toward the full-bodied range with a long finish of cream, leather and earth.

Burn: As I said earlier, the draw was a bit tight and this made lighting this cigar a bit of a chore but, finally I had it burning. Once it was burning it produced a nice amount of sweet, nutty scented smoke. In the first half the burn was even and left a tight white ash that held on for over two inches. In the second half the burn took off and canoed down one side enough that I corrected it three times.

Overall Insights: Overall this cigar was a disappointment for me. Perhaps my infatuation with the ring had set my expectations too high, perhaps not though. While this cigar was above average in aesthetic value considering the ring and the high quality construction, it left me wanting more for my $8.00 with nearly nonexistent cold aromas, a nearly tasteless wrapper and a terrible burn line. While this cigar looks great through the glass top of my humidor, I just can’t justify rating it above the third drawer.

Ave Maria Crusader

If you are a constant reader you know that I have mentioned in previous reviews how a cigar band can be a very effective marketing tool.  There are several cigars that I have purchased just because I liked the artwork on the band. Ave Maria cigars are another brand that because of their great band design, I became interested in trying their products and eventually had to buy a few. Let me explain this motivation a bit.

Ave Maria Crusader
After reading “The Da Vinci Code,” and several other novels, by Dan Brown, the mystery surrounding the Knights Templar organization really intrigued me. It intrigued me enough that over the years I have done great deal of research on the history concerning the rise and fall of the Knights Templar and this in turn spun off to more research on King Richard’s third crusade.  In a nutshell, how these events are portrayed on television and in movies (other than Dan Brown renditions), are not even close to what really happened

Now that you know where my desire to smoke these cigars came from, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty about how this particular cigar performed. First, even though we have combined blogs, I am still the same cheap buyer that I was before.  This Crusader retails online for $7.00 but I managed to pick this one up in a Nicaraguan sampler at $2.03 per stick.  I call that really being a cheap ash!

Quick Details
  • Cigar Size: 5 x 52
  • Origin: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper:  Ecuadorian-grown Habano
  • Binder: Nicaraguan Habano
  • Filler: Nicaraguan Ligero and  Viso, Honduran Viso
  • Price: $7.00 Online
Ave Maria Crusader
Construction: Overall the construction of this cigar is in the average range for the price point. Visually inspecting the cigar, the wrapper contained a few smaller veins and it was rolled on with nearly invisible seams. Checking the cigar for firmness I found it packed just about right, there were no hard or soft spots along the length of the body.  With a quick aroma check there were nice, but faint, notes from both the body and the foot of spicy cedar, a touch of sweet fruit and earth. Once the end was clipped I found the even cold draw had notes of spicy cedar and tobacco. The end cap left a slight sweetness on my lips that I like from a cigar.

Flavor: Once the cigar was burning the initial flavors were a tart/sweet, mix of mild fruit, earth, mild black pepper and earth. However, as the smoke from this cigar tickled my palate, it had a slightly dry, red wine, type of finish which eventually disappeared when the tartness did. As the burn line crept closer to the mid-point, some toasted oak joined the flavor mix. By the time the burn had reached the final third, notes of nuts, sweet cream and leather dominated the flavor mix moving the strength of this cigar from medium bodied more in to the full bodied range for a nice, long, satisfying finish.

Burn: The cigar produced a fair volume of white smoke with a pleasant aroma of toasted nuts and tobacco. There were no major problems with the burn, it was not razor sharp, but it never veered off enough to need correction.

Overall Insights: Overall this cigar was a pretty enjoyable stick. The aroma notes from the foot and the wrapper were fainter than I like, but the flavor mix made up for it. I only have one of these left so I will soon need to restock, but for now I will keep my one remaining cigar in the second drawer.