July 24th, 2014
One of the oldest and most beloved brands around, Arturo Fuente cigars has been family owned since 1912. There were many times, though, when it seemed like the company would disappear entirely, as the family hit staggering amounts of misfortune during its attempts to grow. A fire in 1924 burned the company’s only factory to the ground, and along with the Great Depression, forced the family patriarch, Arturo Fuente, to put tobacco aside for 22 years. Starting from scratch, he managed to create something to pass on to his son Carlos, who runs the company, along with his own son, today.
Arturo Fuente Cigars hit its stride during the Cuban embargo in 1962, as smokers had to look to other brands for their hobby. The company was able to take advantage of this to earn a new following. However, a fire wiped out another of the company’s factories in 1979, slowing it down again. This time, though, the brand was able to make a quick recovery and launch its first nationally recognized stogie, the Hemingway, in the mid-1980s.
Today, Arturo Fuente Cigars is most known for its flagship Opus X blend, a masterful stick that has placed on many publications’ top stogie lists. Released in 1995, it is a Dominican Puro wrapped in a Rosado leaf cultivated from the brand’s farms. One of the company’s hallmarks is producing its sticks in a huge number of vitolas, and the Opus X is no different. The Opus X is available in 13 sizes, from 4 5/8 x 49 to 9 1/4 x 47.
Currently, the company produces a handful of blends that aficionados have become comfortable and familiar with. These include the Gran Reserva, the Magnum, the Casa Cuba, the Chateau, the Don Carlos and the Destino al Siglo. For the most part, the company caters to experienced enthusiasts, with blends that are complex and robust.
With its ability to overcome hardship and a strong sense of family, this company embodies everything that people love about tobacco.
July 3rd, 2014
The Nat Sherman 1930 Collection is homage to the year that Nat Sherman created the brand. Originating from one of the most famous tobacco shops in the country, this is their third premium line following their Timeless Collection and Timeless Collection Nicaragua (Timeless No. 2). These lines are the brainchild of Michael Herklots who created them as a divergence from Nat Sherman’s typical mild flavors and finishes. Herklots has set out to make stogies for experienced smokers that want a robust, full-bodied smoke that delivers a jolt to the senses.
When the founder created the brand, it was made using Cuban tobacco, but after the trade embargo was established, they began sourcing their tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The Nat Sherman 1930 Collection is composed of a rich brown Dominican wrapper, peppery Dominican binder, and spicy, mesquite flavored Nicaraguan and Dominican filler. Aficionados stated that the cigar is well constructed with some visible seams and veining. The stogie has an oily sheen with a red tint to the coffee-colored wrapper. The pre-light draw contains masculine notes of leather and spice. After lighting, the pepper is very pronounced and gives a kick to the palate. Reviewers stated that this pepper flavor remains through until the end. The first draw has subtle notes of sugar cane and mesquite that balance the spicy pepperiness. In the second and third burns, the pepper flavor is prominent and changes the cigar from a medium finish to a full-bodied one. Though the pepper flavor is strong, the stogie is never harsh tasting because of the sweet sugar cane and mesquite notes.
Aficionados stated the construction of the cigar is fantastic with an even burn rate and compact, salt and pepper colored ash. The stogie nub was firm to the touch and a nice cool temperature. The draw held a slight resistance, but reviewers said this was ideal and helped the cigar be an excellent smoke from start to finish. Overall, the Nat Sherman 1930 Collection receives an exceptional rating of 9 out of 10 by reviewers. Many aficionados have added them to their regular stogie rotation because of the exceptional smoking experience. The line lives up to Nat Sherman’s belief that great cigars create lasting memories.
July 3rd, 2014
The Vega Fina Cigars that have been so popular in Europe have now moved to the United States. These special stogies are affordable, and aficionados are happy to see them move “across the pond.”
The factory in the Dominican Republic, known as Tabacalera de Garcia, produces this unique product. The original cigar with the Vega name is crafted with a wrapper known as Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade. Columbian, Dominican Republic and Honduran tobacco flavors make-up the body of this stogie. It is of a mild to medium nature that is enjoyed by those that prefer that type of blend.
There are also two additional stogies in this line. The Fortaleza 2 and Sumum take the original and add some different flavors to the mix. Fortaleza 2 is known for its wood, pepper and herb flavorings. The Sumum is a stronger stogie that has been aged longer and has a bolder flavoring. All three cigars, as noted, are now available throughout the United States, as well as, Europe.
Altadis USA is the company that produces these stogies along with H. Upmann, Trinidad, Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta, to name a few. The business has locations in Puerto Rico, Dominica Republic, Honduras, Florida and Richmond, Virginia. There are also over 5,000 employees working at this growing company.
A cigar that was once only found in Europe can now be enjoyed in the United States. Vega Fina Cigars are available for purchase in many fine establishments across the globe.
May 21st, 2014
For several years, the Rocky Patel Cigars brand was focused primarily on producing Indian Tabac, a type of blend that was relatively new to the tobacco industry. In 2002, though, the company’s founder, Rakesh Patel, rebranded the product and started releasing well-reviewed blends with regularity. Rakesh is now one of the most respected people in tobacco, particularly when it comes to his meticulous style of tobacco farming, cultivation and blending.
The company’s success begins before the tobacco is even planted. Before choosing a place to grow the tobacco, Rakesh and his team take soil samples to determine the location of the best quality soil. Once a suitable spot is found, a nursery is set up to germinate the plants in a controlled environment. When they are ready to handle the stresses of the fields, they are transplanted to the rich soil and watched over closely.
During harvest, most stogie brands only consider the main three sections of the plant, the ligero, the seco and the volado. In general, only the ligero and seco are used in blending. Rocky Patel Premium Cigars separates each plant into more specific divisions, called primings. Primings normally consist of two or three leaves, and each plant may have eight or so primings. When ordering tobacco for blending, Rakesh can better target the part of the plant he wants to use, therefore creating stogies that produce consistent flavors from smoke to smoke.
As for its future plans, not much has been revealed about the 2014 release schedule, but a limited edition version of the II-XXVI to celebrate Rakesh’s birthday was released on March 30th. This commemorative cigar comes in three formats, including Robusto (5 x 50), Robusto Grande (5 x 58) and Toro (6 1/2 x 52). As for the rest of 2014, Rocky Patel Premium Cigars will likely do what it does best, produce finely crafted, flavorful blends that impress aficionados around the world.
May 20th, 2014
Nicotine free electronic cigarettes are becoming a popular choice among smokers wanting to try something new. Whether someone wants to transition away from regular cigarettes or not, there has been enough buzz about them to make people take notice.
The e-cig functions with vaporizers filled with an e-liquid. The liquid contains water, propylene glycol flavoring, and an optional amount of nicotine measured in milligrams (mg). It gives people a smoking experience without the effects of tobacco. However, nicotine free electronic cigarettes are not yet under any FDA regulations.
While customers are free to use zero mg refills, some find it easier to start using the product with a small amount of nicotine. They can gradually reduce it or increase it with each refill according to their preference. Some e-cigs also enable the user to determine how much nicotine is used during the process as well, lessening the nicotine exposure if desired.
There are many other advantages to using nicotine free electronic cigarettes over traditional ones. One is that the vapor stays as fresh as possible while retaining the same flavors as a regular smoke. Another is that they don’t cost as much money; for example, buying a refill case once a month is cheaper than buying a pack of smokes once a week. Best of all, people will not complain to users about their secondhand smoke because the product’s vapor is not considered harmful, and they are permitted in many places that traditional smokes are not.
May 13th, 2014
A few major cigar festivals in the USA bring together thousands of enthusiasts every year, making these events the best way for tobacco hobbyists to stay up to date on the industry and network with each other. These events are so popular because they feature many high profile guests (mostly industry leaders) who are willing to show off what they’re working on to attendees. Good food, drink and entertainment can also be had at these events, making for a great time for all cigar smoking enthusiasts. These are a few of the most popular national and local events every year:
The Texas Cigar Fest is among the major local cigar festivals in the USA and is hosted by Serious Cigars in the Houston area every year. Attendees walk away with a gift bag filled with more than two dozen premium smokes. Before the end of the event, though, enthusiasts can enjoy fine food, spirits and a meet and greet with other enthusiasts and special guests.
The Big Smoke is the most popular among the major national cigar festivals in the USA and is always hosted in a city like New York, Las Vegas or another lively place. The Big Smoke brings in many popular names in the industry who speak during planned seminars. This is where enthusiasts can learn about upcoming trends and releases in tobacco. The event is also overflowing with excellent food and drink, so the theme of The Big Smoke is indulgence.
The Great Smoke is based out of West Palm Beach, Florida and is hosted by The Smoke Inn. Scheduled for February every year, this event is brief and only lasts for four hours. It’s a dense four hours of activity, though, and includes live music, lots of food and drink and even a place for attendees to relax and get a massage.
There are many other major cigar festivals in the USA in addition to these, so enthusiasts should be able to locate an event no matter where they live.
May 7th, 2014
The Drew Estate Kentucky Fire Cured cigar was released in December of 2013. Jonathan Drew, founder of Drew Estate, has been working on the cigar for over two years. Over the course of that time, the cigar had been rumored to be close to release more than once, only to be delayed again.
Drew Estate is one of the most creative and original cigar producers in the U.S. From their branding to their unique tobacco combinations and out of the box flavor profile, Drew Estate has proven that they don’t rest on their laurels with cigar innovation. For that reason, the relatively young company has developed quite a following among reviewers, customers and scores of aficionados.
The Kentucky Fire Cured, or KFC, is rolled in Nicaragua. While fire-cured tobacco leaves are more common in pipe blends, they are pretty rare in cigars. Because of this, many customers have wanted to purchase the KFC just to see what fire-cured tobacco would taste like in a cigar.
Cigar reviews have stated that the cigar is indeed a rare smoking experience. The Kentucky and Virginia fire-cured leaves create a distinct smoky flavor to go along with the woody notes of hickory, maple, and oak. According to reviews, the cigar balances the flavors well and creates a medium cigar that works great when smoked by itself or when paired with various whiskeys.
Due to high demand, many have reported that the Drew Estate Kentucky Fire Cured cigars are selling out quickly; they didn’t disappoint with this one.
May 7th, 2014
The Nat Sherman Host cigars were released in 2012 and are still popular among aficionados. Many tobacco companies have come and gone over the decades, but this brand has held strong for nearly a century. It has also adapted to a changing industry, and switched to cranking out premium smokes in the last couple decades. This blend is one of the company’s lighter stogies and is designed to appeal to enthusiasts of all experience levels.
This smoke comes with a Connecticut Shade wrapper and Honduran binder and fillers. It’s a smooth looking stogie that’s light brown in color and is covered in a fine layer of oil. The band features the company’s famous logo on a turquoise background. The prelight draw evokes some earth, hay and light coffee flavors.
The initial third of the Nat Sherman Host cigars starts off with some spice, hay and earth flavors. Shortly in, a nutty taste also shows up and creates richness in the profile. Some vanilla and cream is also apparent on the finish and gives the stogie a dessert taste. In the second-third, the lighter flavors are still present and are joined by some light coffee notes. The cream, nuts and coffee are the dominant flavors in the second-third and the profile eventually loses the hay and earth tastes. During the final portion of the cigar, the same combination of flavors is still present for the most part. The nuts, cream and vanilla, are still the strongest notes, while the coffee darkens and takes on a slightly bitter taste.
The Nat Sherman Host cigars are medium in body and medium in strength, so it is a well-rounded blend that is perfect for smokers of all types. With its sharp burn and a strong draw, it performs well, so this, combined with its excellent flavors, are likely why the stick has remained popular over the years.
May 7th, 2014
The Estilo Cubano cigars are another release from Ventura, a new boutique manufacturer that focuses on bolder blends and marketing. Much like the company’s other stogies, this blend is designed for smokers with a developed palate, and those capable of handling a medium or strong stick. Aficionados that have reviewed the stogie agree that this blend is perfect following a big meal or with a stiff drink. It’s also the ideal lounging smoke and great for relaxing with on the porch.
The blend comes with a Viso Habano Maduro wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan fillers, including a Seco Habano and a Ligero Habano. The wrapper is extremely dark, almost black in color. It is a bit oily to the touch and hides its veins and seams well. The band is bold, featuring the name of the stogie in black, orange and gold. The prelight draw evokes some earth, oak and hay flavors.
The initial third of the Estilo Cubano cigars starts with some oak, white pepper and spice flavors. Most reviewers believed the wood had a slightly charred taste to it. The charred wood and spice gives the smoke a strong aromatic quality. By the end of the first-third, some earth notes also appear and shift into the background. During the second-third, some bitter dark chocolate flavors join the profile and balance well with the pepper, spice and charred wood notes. During the final third of the smoke, the charred wood and dark chocolate flavors are the strongest, and the rest of the profile holds steady until the smooth finish.
This stick is full flavored and offers a strong nicotine punch, making it a complete experience for the smoker that can handle it. Fortunately, it also offers excellent performance with its strong burn and draw. In all, the Estilo Cubano cigars are the clearest example of what a bold stogie looks like when produced by a bold company.
May 6th, 2014
Personalized cigar cutters are the perfect way to make a strong impression on a tobacco enthusiast and can be done with nearly any design or style. Any image or phrase can be etched into the item’s surface using laser engraving technology, so they are appropriate for any situation. The laser used during the process is safe and gentle so it will not affect the accessory’s durability or function. Engraving other accessories can also be done in this way so they can be placed together to form a beautiful collection.
A laser engraver can be used to customize just about any cigar accessory, including ashtrays, humidors, lighters and even the stogies themselves. Because the laser is gentle, it will not alter the taste of a blend or ruin the integrity of the stick’s wrapper.
Customized accessories are the perfect gift for any occasion, including Christmas, birthdays or other holidays like Mother’s or Father’s Day. Personalized cigar cutters are also perfect for just showing the aficionado that you are thinking of them. Smokes are a popular gift following the birth of a child, but without the right accessories to pair them with, the smokes cannot be enjoyed. Such an event can be made more memorable with a beautifully crafted and customized accessory.
These items are also a smart way to make a lasting impression on a business partner or client. When meeting with a client or executive that is a known tobacco enthusiast, a customized accessory can break the ice and help bring a couple of businesses together.
Tobacco enthusiasts typically take pride in their hobby, and any way to make it more individual is something every aficionado can appreciate.