Thursday, March 29, 2007

That aligning the cigar bands thing

A couple of weeks ago I bought myself a new cigar humidor. After seasoning it for about four days, it was time to put in the cigars. I decided that the new box would be used for my everyday cigars, while my primo puros remained in my older cigar humidors. I had to do a lot of digging, and it's amazing what you find down in the bowels of the box.

I found that I still had a few Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Robustos, some Arturo Fuente 8-5-8 Flor Fina Maduros, and a couple of Hemingway Signatures left over. I even found a La Gloria Cubana Reserve Figurado, some limited edition Davidoff cigars, a The Griffin's Special XXI 2005, a Perdomo Edicíon de Silvio, and "the king," a Padron 1926 40th Anniversary Torpedo. I had also forgotten about the Cuban Montecristo No.2 and the Partagas Serie D No.4 someone brought back to me from Europe.

So, I start moving the cigars into the new box, and I noticed that I have this habit of not only organizing the cigars by length, but also making sure that all the bands are facing up. I am somewhat of a neat freak, but until now I didn't notice I had this other little eccentricity. If I had to give a reason, I suppose it would be for instant brand identification. I was also wondering if anyone else out there does the same thing with their cigars?

I have a sneaky suspicion that they do. ;-)

Monday, March 26, 2007

XiKAR’s new MTX cigar scissors don't cut corners

Need a good cigar cutter? What's that? Your cigar has a 54 ring? No problem. How about a handy tool to open the box first? I've got that, too. And how about that bottle of beer you're going to have with your cigar? Not a twist-off, huh? Guess you'll need a bottle opener, too. Here you go. What's that? Oh, these are my new cigar scissors.

True! Everything described above and more is possible with the XiKAR's new MTX series cigar scissors. These compact, collapsible cigar scissors are to cigar smokers what Army knives are to campers.

XiKAR has built its rep on making one of, if not, the best cigar cutters in the business with their Xi11, Xi12 and Xi13 models, and the MTX scissors have all the same fine cutting qualities as their sharp-looking cousins.

By and large, cigar scissors aren't all that popular with many cigar smokers for several reasons: They take some getting used to; few are portable; many aren't all that sharp; and it's much simpler to just snip or punch your cigar. But there's something about holding the cigar at just the right angle, studying the cap, and shearing it off in a perfect circle that makes the "experience" of prepping your cigar a little more baronial.

The MTX features XiKAR's signature, ultra-hard stainless blades for added power and precision. According to XiKAR National Sales Manager, Belinda Doyle, “The new MTX now cuts cigars up to a 54 ring, the blades are much sharper, and the finger holes are bigger.”

The MTX does a lot more than just cut cigars, too. Cleverly placed in the sides of the finger holes you'll find four handy little tools. There's a tool for slicing through the country of origin seal and prying open the box. There's also a tool to help dig out the little nail that many factories use to seal their cigar boxes. Additionally, there's a tiny bottle opener that doubles as a screwdriver. By looking at it you might think it wouldn't hold up under the pressure, but the steel is so hard, it flips off bottle caps as easily as Kyle Korver chucks free-throws. Another neat tool that also has a dual purpose is the built-in cigar poker. You can use it to loosen up a tobacco plug, or if you'd rather not clip your cigar, you can use it as a cigar piercer.

One nice little added convenience is that the MTX's key ring comes already attached. On the previous model, you had to attach the key ring yourself.

And here's the coolest part of all. When the MTX folds up to its 2¼-inch size, it's also similar in shape to the original, XiKAR classic teardrop cutter. Moreover, the MTX weighs exactly one ounce, so it adds very little excess weight to your keychain or pocket.

XiKAR MTX scissors are available in black, gold, chrome and bead blast. Like all XiKAR products, they also come with a 100% replacement or repair guarantee. Suggested retail price is $39.95, but if you shop around, you should find them for less depending on where you buy your cigar accessories.

For more information on XiKAR products, visit www.xikar.com.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Coming soon! Better Dominican wrapper leaf

Since they first began growing Cuban-seed tobacco in the Dominican Republic, one of the toughest challenges for master cigar blenders has been trying to grow a really good wrapper leaf that would result in creating a Dominican "puro." That is, a cigar blended with tobaccos all from the same country.

Perhaps the biggest Dominican puro success story have been the Fuente Fuente OpusX cigars, developed by Carlos "Carlito" Fuente Jr. More recently, Daniél Nuñez of General Cigar introduced the Partagas Cifuentes Winter Blend cigars, which sport an all Dominican-grown filler, binder and wrapper. The result is an extraordinary cigar. I ranked the Cifuentes Winter Blend "Enero" as one of the best new cigars of 2006.

In 2003, Tabacalera La Aurora introduced their Cien Años premium cigars series, an all Dominican leaf blend created by José Blanco. Although a bit on the pricey side, this exquisite luxury cigar is also one of the best cigars I've had the pleasure of putting to my lips.

In an article that appeared today on www.CigarCyclopedia.com, titled "Better Cigars Are On The Way," José Blanco talks about how he and his team developed their unique Dominican wrapper:

"Last year’s crop was supposed to be the 'crop of the crop,'" said Señor Blanco, “But this year’s crop is as good as last year’s . . . really!"

If you're interested in reading the entire article, you can do so by clicking here. I think you'll find it very enlightening. Check it out.