Monday, October 26, 2009

My Weekend Cigar: Capadura Cigars


This past weekend, the Famous Smoke Shop cigar store held an in-store cigar event for Capadura Cigars, an obscure, boutique premium cigar brand made in The Dominican Republic. Distributed by Luba Cigar Corporation, Capadura Cigars come in two varieties: Capadura 808, a medium-bodied cigar rolled in an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, and Capadura 898, a full-bodied cigar rolled in a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper. The core is a diverse blend of Dominican and Nicaraguan longfillers with a Dominican Olor binder. I was fortunate enough to have the time to smoke both versions in the Robusto shape.

The Capadura 808 Connecticut was very attractive in appearance, well-packed, and the cap clipped-off in a perfect circle exposing just the right amount of tobacco at the head. The pre-light flavor was somewhat nutty and sweet. Once lit, the foot took on an even burn and the early puffs were mellow with a nutty-woody flavor laced with some sweetness on the finish.

During the second act, the smoke became earthier in flavor and remained relatively consistent through the final third. The cigar turned a little bitter in the last inch, but at that point it was pretty much done. Pairing it with coffee, the smoke offered good balance, plenty of flavor, a very fine and firm grey ash. I would recommend this cigar for the morning or afternoon.

The Capadura 898 Maduro was a totally different animal, and also more rustic in appearance. Although it had a similar pre-light flavor, this cigar was considerably spicier, while maintaining the nutty, woody and earthy core flavors of the Connecticut. This cigar also displayed an excellent ash, clean burn, nice balance of flavors, and also went well paired with coffee.

By the third act, the smoke was quite peppery, a little much for my taste, but for those who enjoy rich, spicy, full-flavored cigars with a hint of sweetness, the 898 will certainly turn the trick. If I had to compare the Capadura 898 to a more popular boutique brand, it would be the Pinar del Rio Oscuro. This is more of an after-hours cigar that would go well with a single malt or a tawny Port, and a full stomach.

All-in-all, some nice new cigars well worth checking out.

Scores
Capadura 808 Connecticut
Appearance - 9
Construction - 9
Draw - 9
Burn - 9
Flavor - 8
Aroma - 8
Total Score: 8.6

Capadura 898 Maduro
Appearance - 8
Construction - 9
Draw - 9
Burn - 9
Flavor - 7
Aroma - 8
Total Score: 8.3

Have you smoked Capadura cigars? Please leave a comment.

~ Gary Korb

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Following the leads

If you've been following this blog, then you know that Cigar Advisor has been following a potential major cigar industry announcement, which may or may not concern a possible merger between Miami Cigar Co. and My Father Cigars, Inc.

The latest, according to our source is, Nestor Miranda and Rene Castaneda of Miami Cigar & Co., and Guillermo Leon of Tabacalera La Aurora and The Leon Group, will be traveling to Estelí, Nicaragua next week to spend a couple of days visiting with Jaime and Pepin Garcia.

Based on that information, there's no reason to believe the "visit" will be anything more than a typical business trip; inspecting the tobacco fields, visiting the factory, sampling cigars over cafecito - yadda, yadda, yadda.

However, none of the three travelers has discussed or even acknowledged the trip or its purpose.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Weekend Cigar: Oliva Cain Habano Robusto

By Gary Korb

As promised last week, I smoked one of the two Oliva Cain cigars over the weekend, in this case, the Robusto in the Habano wrapper. I smoked it in the Famous Smoke Shop Retail Store on Sunday with a cup of coffee, which made a nice mix. Before I lit up, John D., who happened to be sitting next to me said, "I hope you're smoking it on a full stomach," which I was, having just finished a pulled pork sandwich.

The Oliva Cain Habano Robusto weighs-in at 5" x 50, and has a 75%- 80% "straight ligero," triple-fermented, Nicaraguan filler blend wrapped in a flawless, dark Habano wrapper leaf. The pre-light flavor was very sweet. The cigar was well packed, too, showing virtually no soft spots. I also noticed that, at the foot, there was only one small section of very dark tobacco, which I'll touch upon later in this review.

Once lit, I was expecting a heavy wallop of smoke and pepper, but quite the contrary. The smoke was sweet, as in the pre-light, and when I touched my tongue to the head, the tobacco itself was sweet. Flavors of wood and a light nuttiness squeaked in, but for the most part, the smoke was exceptionally creamy and sweet.

The most impressive thing about this cigar was how incredibly smooth it was. I'd have to tip my hat to the triple fermentation on this, as there was no sign of bitterness, even down to the one-inch stub I left in the ashtray. Moreover, the burn was dead-on clean, exposing a pointy, perfectly centered cherry when ashed.

The cigar was consistent right through the second act; mainly woody and sweet, and a little nutty. I was also waiting for the headiness and that punch in the gut that's supposed to come with full-bodied cigars of this caliber, but it never came. (Maybe it was the sandwich?)

It wasn't until the third act that the cigar became noticeably stronger in flavor, yet the smoke remained so smooth it didn't seem to affect the overall character of the cigar. I was expecting a more "complex" cigar, but what the Oliva Cain Habano Robusto offered in terms of it's rich, woody, nutty and sweet flavors, that was fine by me. I'm wondering if the presence of only some dark ligero (noted above) is what made this particular sample a little less robust than advertised?

In any event, this sophomore effort by Sam Leccia hit on all cylinders for me, and I highly recommend the Oliva Cain Habano to both, experienced smokers who have a more developed palate, as well as those who are looking to move up to a super-smooth, full-bodied cigar.

My scores:
Appearance - 9
Construction - 9
Draw - 9
Burn - 9
Flavor - 9
Aroma - 9
Total Score: 9.0

How was your Oliva Cain Habano experience? Your comments are welcome.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Revenue Dept. will take questions on PA small cigar tax

This morning I was forwarded an email from Norman Sharp, president of the Cigar Association of America (www.cigarassociation.org) to all CAA member companies, regarding the Pennsylvania tax on small cigars. To help galvanize this effort, I thought I'd pass it along:
As we have reported, Pennsylvania will begin taxing little cigars at 8 cents each beginning November 1. The state defines a little cigar as those weighing 4 lbs. or less per 1,000. The legislation has raised many questions. Below is a message from Gerry Kupris, our lobbyist and executive director of the PA Assn. of Distributors, regarding a meeting which will be held in an attempt to answer those questions.

In an effort to address questions regarding the new little cigar tax, the Revenue Department will be available to PDA CAA members for a discussion and Q&A:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Harrisburg Hilton and Towers
2nd and Market Street
Harrisburg, PA
717-233-6000

NOTE: PLEASE RSVP ATTENDANCE SO WE CAN MAKE PROPER ARRANGEMENTS FOR SEATING AND MATERIALS!

If you have questions, please call 717-236-0500 or e-mail pda@pa.net.
First little cigars, then medium-size cigars, then... Well, you get the idea. If you are or know a PDA CAA member, please heed the call and respond accordingly. - G.K.

Monday, October 12, 2009

My Weekend Cigar: nub Cameroon 460


Back in June of 2008, I blogged about the nub Connecticut 460. Last night, I decided to decided to have a go at the nub Cameroon 460. Cameroon is one of my favorite wrappers for its natural sweetness, and this original Sam Leccia/Oliva creation, with its Nicaraguan filler and binder core, was right in my wheelhouse. One of the other reasons I decided to smoke the nub was, I've been preparing to smoke Sam's latest creation, "Cain," which he introduced in the Oliva Cigars, booth at this past summer's IPCPR Trade Show in New Orleans. (I'll get more into why later on.)

Pairing it with what remained of my bottle of Tapeña 2007 Granacha, the cigar lit perfectly and burned clean and firm, despite a small wrapper tear that ran back about a half inch from the foot. The cigar also burned for well over an hour, as advertised, despite its 4-inch length. Due to the solid packing of the tobacco, this didn't surprise me, plus, I let the cigar rest between puffs. With cigars this short, even with a ring as wide as 60, you don't want to pull too hard or too often on it to keep it from turning bitter.

The smoke was extremely creamy and smooth with a solid, sweet-woody base, which didn't deviate until the final third. At that point I began to pick up some light spiciness. Although I prefer a more complex smoke, for what I would call a "one note song," the cigar was highly enjoyable for its consistency.

Now, here's why I wanted to smoke another nub before getting into the Cain cigars. Even though the cigars are completely different in terms of size and blend - the new Cain being a "straight ligero" - I wanted to re-familiarize myself with Sam's work. For example, when you're getting into a new band, it's always a good idea to listen to their first album, which is most often the band's "definitive" sound.

Based on the reports I've read and heard from others who have already smoked Cain, it's apparent that Mr. Leccia, like the best musical artists (those who have stood the test of time), has the ability to reinvent himself.

If you haven't had a chance to smoke any of the nubs by now, you should at least try a couple. There's also a really good selection of nub samplers called nub Club if you want to give the whole line a test drive.

So, this weekend I'm looking forward to moving on to Cain, and weather permitting, will report on it next week. In the meantime, I'm certain that nub will eventually become "a classic."

~ Gary Korb

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Kudos to Mr. Koodray and The Metropolitan Society


Last night, I had the extreme pleasure of joining The Metropolitan Society in Fairfield, NJ for their monthly cigar dinner. This is the fourth year I've attended as a representative for Famous Smoke Shop, and it's always a great time accompanied by good food, drink, cigars, and warm friendship. As always, I brought cigars for the gang to smoke - a brand exclusive to Famous Smoke Shop, of course - and last night was no exception as I presented the Famous 70th Anniversary Private Selection by Plasencia Cigars.

But unlike the former events, last night I brought something, or more appropriately, someone extra: Famous Smoke Shop president, Arthur Zaretsky. The Metropolitan Society are good FSS customers, and their president, George Koodray, has been asking me to bring Arthur to the club for years. So, in light of this being Famous' 70th year in the cigar business, I finally convinced Arthur to come and meet some of his biggest fans in person. Joining us, too, was Famous Smoke Shop cigar sampler manager, Humberto Gonzalez, who is also a Metro Society member.

Arthur was given a dignitary's welcome, including an honorary membership. After some obligatory business announcements by Mr. Koodray, he turned the microphone over to Arthur who talked briefly about the history of Famous Smoke Shop and took questions. (Later, I overheard Arthur tell George what a wonderful time he had.)

One of the highlights of the evening was a presentation of Don Julio Tequilas which the members got to sample. (Try the 1942. Wow! Smooth as silk, too.) But there was also another nice surprise last night. Two lovely young ladies from Luba Cigar Corporation - company founder, Ruth Elizabeth Batista, and Juanny Dominguez - brought samples of their Capadura cigars to share.

So once again, on behalf of Arthur, Humberto, myself, and everyone at Famous Smoke Shop, our sincere thanks to George Koodray, John Cito, Ben Amoruso, Rich Camy, Pasquale Agatone, "Uncle Nick" Verdi, and the many other Metropolitan Society members for making last night another memorable evening. Until next year, or until I'm in the neighborhood to stop by for a good cigar...Ciao amigos!

~ Gary Korb
(Above photo L-R: Gary Korb, Arthur Zaretsky, George Koodray)

* * *

In other news: The "brewing" shifts to Nicaragua
If you remember my blog of September 30, Something may be brewing in the Dominican Republic, and it's not coffee, in which our source in The D.R. told us about the sighting of Guillermo Leon, Jaime Garcia, Pepin Garcia and Nestor Miranda in Santiago, another piece of the puzzle may be about to fall into place. Well, although we can’t tell you what brought those major cigar figures together; after receiving another report from our source, I can say it's safe to assume that something really is brewing.

According to our "correspondent," Guillermo León (León Jimenes cigars) will make his very first trip to Nicaragua, and we’re hazarding a guess that he will be visiting the Garcias. Although all of these intertwining relationships exist; Guillermo León and La Aurora is the new addition to the equation.

Whatever is going on, it's significant and only a matter of time before it becomes public. In the meantime, our man in Santiago, and our contacts in Estelí are keeping their eyes open. As soon as there is something to report, you’ll hear about it first on CigarAdvisor.com.

Stay tuned.

Monday, October 5, 2009

My Weekend Cigar: CAO La Traviata "Divino" and Quesada Ltd. Edition 35th Anniversary

By Gary Korb

Finally, after a more than two week cigar hiatus due to a miserable sinus infection, I was able to get back in the smoking groove this past weekend. As I nimbly fingered through my humidors, I decided to try a couple of new cigars that debuted at this year's IPCPR Trade Show in New Orleans.

On Saturday, I sampled the 5" x 50 CAO La Traviata "Divina." Blended with a core of two different ligero filler tobaccos - one from Pueblo Nuevo in Nicaragua, the other from The Dominican Republic, a Cameroon binder, and a dark, mouthwatering Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, this cigar hit on all cylinders. The smoke was exceptionally smooth and complex with dark, earthy tobacco flavors dominated by strong woody notes, and laced with an appealing sweetness.

I paired it with a cup of coffee, which made a good match. The cigar was exceptionally creamy, well-balanced, and highly consistent from start to finish. Although CAO is marketing it as a "full-body" cigar, to my taste it was more medium to full; definitely "full" for the novice, but bearable, for it was never overpowering. Highly recommended!

* * *
On Sunday, I decided it was time to try the Quesada Limited Edition 35th Anniversary cigar. This is a box-pressed 6" x 49 Toro with an Ecuadorian-grown Arapiraca seed wrapper that caps a Dominican binder and a longfiller blend of Dominican, with Nicaraguan ligero at its heart.


As a big fan of Manolo Quesada's work over the year, this cigar did not disappoint. It was also one of the most perfectly balanced and flavorful cigars I've ever smoked. Paired with a glass of Tapeña Garnacha (2007), a nice fruity table wine, the cigar was a virtual kaleidoscope of flavor.

The smoke was extremely smooth, creamy and complex. Rich flavors of sweet cedar, cocoa and coffee prevailed throughout, and each puff was as succulent as the one that preceded it, as it didn't gather any significant strength until the middle of the final third. This is, no doubt, the definition of a "full-flavored" cigar, and belongs in the full-bodied category, too.

I was so impressed with this cigar that, like his #1 ranked Casa Magna of last year, I will not be surprised if the 35th Anniversary makes it into a least the Top-5 this year. Very highly recommended!

* * *
Unfortunately, both cigars are not yet available at Famous Smoke Shop, and the Quesada 35th, due to its limited supply will probably only be available at retail stores. In any event, if you've already had the opportunity to smoke either of these cigars, let me know if we're in sync by leaving a comment.