All posts by msmith

Rocky’s Meet the Maker Cigar Dinner featuring Litto Gomez

After 30+ years in cigars, I’ve come to realize my business is all about relationships. Mine with my staff, my staff with my customers, reps with my store, and sometimes mine with the manufacturer.

Our recent cigar dinner event, a series I call “Meet the Maker”, was far more than just a meal, and some smokes…it was an event about relationships.

Tuesday, June 22nd marked the arrival of Litto Gomez of La Flor Dominicana cigars to our humble burg in Upstate New York, the fine city of Syracuse. My store, Rocky’s has been planning this particular event for about eight or nine months, along with LFD VP John Carney. We were looking forward with great anticipation to the quiet man in the signature white hat’s arrival. What we received far exceeded our wildest expectations.

Not only did we have a full house of 65 cigar smokers a restaurant that was ready and waiting to serve us with excellent food and unbelievable ambience, Litto himself was simply amazing. Around 3pm Litto arrived sitting in our cigar lounge with a few customers seated with us, simply stating his viewpoints on cigars, his business views, and the journey he’s been on. Quite simply is journey as of one of a man who entered the cigar as a business, then soon was consumed by it until it became as passion.  Today he lives a life where every day he seeks to create cigars for those people who wish to share and create wonderful moments while smoking cigars.

Litto’s viewpoint on cigars was very straight forward. He told us “I simply don’t want to screw up any of those moments.” That is to say, he doesn’t want to make a bad cigar and have someone not enjoy the cigar and the moment it had a chance to create.

What I found most interesting about this perspective is that as a retailer it explains some of the issues that I may have with La Flor Dominicana from time to time. Back orders, and out of stocks are a couple of come to mind.

But when Litto looked at us, describing his happiness over having the number one cigar of 2016, the Andalusian Bull, he also added that the demand for the cigar forced him to tell his office and factory there would be no Andalusian Bulls until they were ready to be sold, no matter how great the demand. Every cigar must go out to the exacting quality he originally planned.

Litto’s desire to sell only cigars of the highest of quality clarified to me in that moment why every now and then I can’t get my Chisels and I can’t get my DL 700 Maduros.  But the problem isn’t always the planning or the production or the failure to deliver. Sometimes the problem is Litto simply doesn’t want to sell the cigar before it’s as good as he wants it to be. That’s what I mean when I say Litto is awesome. In my years of selling cigars I’ve seen many who didn’t follow this belief; most are just a memory now, long gone by the wayside. LFD has been growing and raising their stature in this business for over 20 years, and after enjoying the company of the man at the top, I now know why!

Not only did he entertain us, and inform us, he simply inspired us when it comes to the making of cigars. He is a man committed to his relationship to the cigar smoker.

Hats off to Litto…. thanks for the visit, and I look forward to seeing you again, my friend.

 

Camacho Powerband Cigar Review

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Inspired by the power, performance, and acceleration associated with a classic V-Twin engine. Camacho Powerband is an intense and powerful cigar. This is the latest edition to the Master-Built Series, fueled by Nicaraguan tobacco and the full flavor of Honduran Corojo.

There are five different origins of tobacco used to make the Powerband. There are three different Ligero tobacco used for the filler – Nicaragua, Honduras, and San Vicente from the Dominican Republic. The rest of the filler is tobacco used from the Dominican Republic – San Vicente, Viso, and Piloto Cubano. The binder is Negrito San Andres from Mexico, and finished off with a Habano 2000 wrapper from Ecuador.

The filler of the cigar is made with a new bunching technique. They combine the Dominican accordion-style, where the leaves are folded like an accordion, and the Entubado style, a Cuban technique, where the leaves are rolled into long, cylindrical tubes.

COUNTRY: Dominican Republic

WRAPPER: Ecuadorian Habano 2000

BINDER: Negrito San Andres

FILLER: Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominican Republic

LENGTH: 6”

RING: 60

APPEAREANCE: Chocolate in color, with an oily sheen, and prominent veins noticeable. The construction is flawless, and the cap is applied seamlessly.

PRE-LIGHT: Prior to lighting, I sniff the foot of the cigar to see what aromas I might pick up.  While sniffing the foot of the cigar, I pick up notes of a musty, grassy odor.

CUT: I cut my cigar with my Xikar guillotine cutter and check the draw. The cigar draws easily. The wrapper has a little salty taste, and the cold draw leaves notes of bread and tobacco.

LIGHTING: I use my Xikar soft flame lighter to toast the foot of my cigar thoroughly before puffing on it to make sure it is nice and lit.  The cigar lit easily.
Now, let’s get into smoking this cigar!

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FIRST 1/3:

The first few puffs reveal notes of grass, hay, and oak on the palate. Immediately makes me think of Davidoff cigars, until I retro hale and get hit with a blast of chili pepper. This is definitely not a Davidoff cigar. There is a salty taste to the wrapper, but it’s not overbearing. There is lots of smoke coming from the foot. The ash is dark gray in color and holding firm. The burn line is sharp, but a little wavy. No touch up needed. This is a very strong cigar right out of the gate! As I near the end of the first 1/3, the flavors are still status quo, although the retro hale has settled down. Surprisingly, the ash is still holding strong after almost 3” in.

 

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Second 1/3:

As I get into the second 1/3, there is an abrupt change in the flavor profile. The retro hale has settled down, and there are now notes of coffee and cocoa, with a muted chili pepper. A note of oak remains on the palate, but the grass and hay are replaced by a note of leather. The ash falls off after 3”, and the burn line is still a little wavy, but not enough to need a touch-up. Even with the changes to the flavor profile, this cigar still remains very strong.  There is still a lot of smoke coming from the foot of the cigar that leaves a pleasant aroma in the air.  As I near the end of the second 1/3, the strength of this cigar seems to be getting more intense.  The chili pepper on the retro hale seems to be picking back up.

 

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Final 1/3:

As I start the final 1/3, the power ramps up again, to the point that the flavors seem muted by the power of the Ligero. The chili pepper is back on the retro hale, but the flavors on the palate are indiscernible.  At this point, this cigar is straight on full-body. The ash is holding firm, and the burn line needs a few touch-ups. As I near the end of the final 1/3, I can’t get over how strong this cigar has gotten.

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Final Thoughts:

From start to finish, this was an intense cigar. It definitely lives up to its name, and the V-twin engine it was inspired by. All I can say is “Wow!” I would give this cigar a 5/5 on strength. I would like to give it a 5/5 on flavor, but I can’t because the power of this cigar mutes the flavors in the final 1/3, so I will give it a 3/5. This is not a cigar for the novice, but for the experienced cigar enthusiast.  You better like full-on strength, and have a full stomach, before smoking this cigar.

Tatuaje Series P Cigar Review

Tatuaje P Series Review

The Tatuaje Series P is one of Pete Johnson’s most affordable cigars in his portfolio today. It is also called the White Label Cigar due the white band used on the cigar. The cigar is comprised of both medium and long filler tobacco commonly called a Cuban Sandwich.

COUNTRY: Nicaragua

WRAPPER: Nicaraguan Habanobuy-now-icon

BINDER: Nicaraguan

FILLER: Nicaraguan medium & long fillers

SIZE:  5 x 50

FACTORY:  My Father

APPEARANCE: Upon inspection, the Series P is chocolate in color, has many veins,    is oily, and flawless in construction. The triple cap is seamlessly applied.

PRELIGHT: Prior to lighting, I sniff the foot of the cigar to see what aromas I might pick up. While sniffing the foot of the cigar, I pick up notes of tobacco, earth, and cocoa.

CUT: I cut my cigar with my Xikar guillotine cutter and check the draw. The draw is slightly tight. I am picking up straight tobacco flavor on the cold draw.

LIGHTING: I used my Xikar soft flame lighter to toast the foot of my cigar thoroughly before puffing on it to make sure it is nice and lit. The cigar lit easily.

Now let’s get into smoking this cigar!
FIRST 1/3: The first few puffs reveal leather and light spice on the palate and cinnamon on the retro hale. The burn line is razor sharp, but uneven. The ash is dark gray and holding firm. As I get into the first 1/3, there are no changes in the profile. As I near the end of the first 1/3, the only change is the cinnamon is gone on the retro hale. The burn line is still a little uneven but sharp, and the ash is still holding strong. The smoke coming from the cigar is light coming off the foot of the cigar. The smoke is creamy on the palate.

Tatuaje P Series

SECOND 1/3: The start of the second 1/3 has the cinnamon on the retro hale replaced by a burst of pepper. The light spice on the palate is gone and replaced by coffee to go along with the leather. The burn line had to be touched up twice, and the ash has fallen off after an inch plus. The smoke is very light off the foot. Again, kind of one dimensional, just like the first 1/3. As I near the end of the second 1/3, the profile has not changed.

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FINAL 1/3:  The first two thirds should have been like the final third. The final third sees the pepper leave the retro hale and be replaced with sweet molasses and light spice. The flavors on the palate are still coffee and leather, with a little earthiness mixed in. The burn line has evened out, and the ash is holding steady again. The smoke off the foot is still light. As I near the end of the final third, the pepper has replaced the sweet molasses on the retro hale and has intensified. The leather and coffee have been replaced as well by the earthiness and a light spice. This third makes up for the first two thirds’ lack of dimension. This cigar went from mild to medium all in the final third.

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FINAL THOUGHTS:  This is not a typical Pete Johnson cigar, unless you cut to the final third. It is mild and somewhat one dimensional in the first two thirds, but opens up in the final third to a full medium. Going off the final third, this is a Tatuaje through and through, as the final third makes this a very good cigar. Strength 2.5/5, flavor 3/5, which is mostly based on the final third. I can see this being an everyday cigar for the price-conscious cigar smoker looking for a cigar that won’t blow you away or empty your wallet. This cigar is a good cigar overall, just not great. It wouldn’t be a staple in my humidor, as it is a little on the mild side for me. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a try if you are a mild-to- medium cigar smoker.

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If you enjoyed this Tatuaje Series P Cigar Review, and this sounds like a cigar you would like to try, stop in to Rocky’s or give them a call. Tell them Cookie sent you!

Largo Pipe Tobacco Review

If you learn anything from this Largo pipe tobacco review, it should be that Largo is a great choice for beginning smokers as well as value conscious smokers. But there is now another reason to choose Largo; buy-now-iconthey recently went from a 12 ounce bag to a 16 ounce bag with no increase in price. What a deal!

As if the new, larger size and same low price wasn’t enough, I still feel Largo is more than pipe tobacco. Finely cut, and excellent for rolling, Largo doubles as a great source for the roll your own smoker. No matter what your preference is, roll your own or pipe tobacco, Largo comes in several great flavors including the popular full flavor, mellow (or gold), and menthol. They also have a richer more full bodied blend called sun grown.

I find that any or all of these fine cut blends fit the bill when one is looking for, as I mentioned above, value or just a basic starter tobacco. The flavor is true to the blend and the burn is consistent depending on the tube or paper one uses.

You will happily discover that Largo comes with a consumer friendly resealable bag. The switch to 16 ounces makes Largo an easy decision no matter what your preferred blend. Choosing Largo is a homerun for the smoker today.

Largo is available in ¾ oz. pouches for a small sample of just what they have to offer, but I find the 16 oz. bag the best value.

Largo Pipe tobacco is a great first choice for someone switching away from high prices cigarettes but looking for the quality smoke of pipe tobacco. From Largo you may move onto some more interesting pipe tobacco blends, or you may just stay with Largo and be one happy smoker!

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Caldwell Blind Man’s Bluff Cigar Review

Caldwell Blind Man's Bluff Cigar Review

“Caldwell Cigars: Built by Friends for Friends.” That is Caldwell’s business motto.  Another saying Caldwell believes in is “Rare Tobacco, Attention to Quality, Social Conscientious, and Flavor First.” Caldwell states that their business model is “Good Cigars, Great Friends, and a Strong Conscience.”

Caldwell Blind Man’s Bluff Cigar Review:buy-now-icon

We Own The Night

Country: Honduras

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano

Binder: Honduran Criollo

Filler: San Vincente Viso (Dominican), Honduran Criollo           “Generoso” Ligero

Length: 5”

Ring:   50

Factory: Camacho

First off, the band on this cigar is interesting, to say the least. It has a picture of a man with a bowler hat on, and his eyes seem to have been erased. The band has the saying “We own the night” on it.

Okay time to smoke this cigar.

Appearance:  This cigar looks chocolate in color, like a candy bar. The construction is flawless, there are few veins visible, and the cap is seamless. The cigar feels oily to the touch.

Prelight:  Before lighting this cigar, I sniff the foot to see what aromas I might detect. While sniffing the foot of this cigar, I pick up notes of barnyard, earth, and cocoa.

Cut: I cut my cigar with my Xikar guillotine cutter and check the draw. The cold draw is effortless. The cold draw reveals tobacco, cocoa, and cinnamon flavors.

Lighting: I used my Xikar soft flame to toast the foot of my cigar thoroughly before puffing on the cigar to make sure it is nice and lit. It lit easily.

Now let’s get into smoking this cigar!

First 1/3:

The first few puffs reveal a light spice on the palate, with light pepper on the retro hale. As I get into the cigar, I am picking up cocoa and cedar. There is still a light pepper on the retro hale, but it is joined by sweet cocoa. The aroma off the foot is that of earth and cocoa. The burn line is uneven right from the get go, and a slight touch up is needed. The ash is a light gray in appearance and is barely holding on. The smoke on the palate is smooth. The smoke from the foot of the cigar is abundant. As I get toward the end of the first 1/3, the ash is still holding on but barely, about 2” in. The retro hale has seen the pepper being taken over by the sweet cocoa. There is still a slight light spice on the palate, and the cocoa flavor is subsiding, as the cedar is getting more pronounced.

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Second 1/3:

The flavors of this cigar have changed a little. The cedar is still present but is joined by anise. The light spice on the palate remains, and the retro hale is now that of sweet cocoa. The burn line is still uneven, and I have had to do multiple touch ups. The ash fell off at about the 3” mark, which was surprising as it seemed to be barely holding on. About halfway through the second 1/3, the flavors are still the same, but the retro hale has changed from sweet cocoa to that of molasses. This is a pretty good cigar at this point. I would have to say a solid medium hinging on a medium +.

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Final 1/3:

The burn line is still uneven, but has gotten better. The flavor profile has shifted a little bit, as the sweetness in the retro hale has changed to cedar. The cedar and anise have been joined by a faint pepper note, and the light spice remains on the palate, but is starting to become a little stronger.

The ash at this point is holding firm. As I near the end of the final 1/3, the flavors remain the same, but pepper has joined the cedar on the retro hale. What a combination! This cigar is now a solid medium +.

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Final Thoughts:

This was a solid complex cigar. It had some burn issues, but it didn’t take away from the smoking experience. This was a good cigar, not great but good. Maybe with a little age it will be a great cigar. The potential is there. The Blind Man’s Bluff gets a 3/5 on the overall strength, and a 3/5 on the overall rating. I can see this cigar finding its way into my humidor. Maybe not an everyday cigar, but a cigar I can start my day off with once in a while. Caldwell Cigars are making waves, and this is a cigar you should try for yourself.

Smoke Time: Will vary from person to person. I smoked this cigar for about 1 ½ hours. It was a pretty enjoyable cigar.

If this sounds like a cigar that you might be interested in, give Rocky’s a call or stop in and tell them Cookie sent you.

A.J. Fernandez Enclave Cigar Review

AJ Fernandez Enclave

“The spirit of the Enclave lays within the special brotherhood created by those who enjoy a great cigar,” are words spoken by A.J. Fernandez himself. The Enclave is a tribute to Native Americans who were well known to be purveyors of tobacco. This cigar is a collaboration between A.J. and his father, Ismael.

COUNTRY:  NICARAGUA

WRAPPER: ECUADORIAN HABANO ROSADO

BINDER:  CAMEROON

FILLER:  AJF NICARAGUAN FILLERS & AJF NICARAGUAN PILOTO CUBANO

LENGTH: 6

RING:  52

FACTORY:  A.J. FERNANDEZ

APPEARANCE:  Upon inspection, the ENCLAVE appears very well constructed. The triple cap is applied so seamlessly that appears as if it was part of the cigar from the get go and not added after the fact. The Ecuadorian Habano Rosado wrapper is dark in color like a chocolate bar, feels velvety to the touch, and looks oily with many veins visible. The foot of the cigar is closed.

PRELIGHT:  Prior to lighting, I sniff the foot of the cigar to see what aromas I might pick up.  Due to the closed foot, the only flavor I am picking up is chocolate from the wrapper.

CUT:  I cut my cigar with my Xikar guillotine cutter and check the draw. For having a closed foot, the ENCLAVE actually draws pretty well. The cold draw reveals rich tobacco and chocolate.

LIGHTING:  I use my Xikar soft flame to toast the foot of the cigar thoroughly before puffing on it to make sure it is nice and lit. Once lit, the draw was effortless.

Now let’s get into smoking this cigar!

FIRST 1/3:  The first few puffs reveal pepper on the retro hale and a light spice on the palate that lingers throughout the experience. As I get into the cigar, I am picking up cedar mixed with cinnamon and spice. The pepper on the retrohale has died down a little bit and has been joined by a creamy cocoa flavor. The ash is a light gray and is holding steady. The burn line is a little wavy but probably due to human error. The smoke is creamy on the palate and plentiful. As I am getting through the first 1/3, the spice picked up at the beginning is now identified as nutmeg. The ash falls off after an inch and a half. The pepper on the retrohale is picking back up, and the cocoa is sticking right with it. As I near the end of the first 1/3, the flavor profile is that of cedar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. So far, this is a very enjoyable cigar with a little bit of complexity.

AJ Fernandez Enclave

 

SECOND 1/3:  As I get into the second 1/3, the flavor profile hasn’t changed much, and that is okay with me. The pepper on the retrohale has died down again, but not as much as it did in the first 1/3. The cocoa has been replaced by cinnamon along with the pepper on the retro hale. The flavor profile is still that of cedar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The ash is now a little flaky and not holding very well. The burn line is still a little wavy but not hindering the smoking experience. As I am getting through the second 1/3, there is now a leather note added to the profile to go along with the cedar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. As I near the end of the second 1/3, the pepper on the retrohale has all but faded, leaving cinnamon as the lone flavor. The main flavor profile has stayed the same, but as with the retro hale, the cinnamon is edging into the predominant flavor.

AJ Fernandez Enclave

FINAL 1/3:  As I get into the final 1/3, the cigar seems to mellow a bit. The retro hale is still that of cinnamon, with cocoa making a return. The cinnamon has now become the dominant flavor in the profile, followed by cedar, leather and coffee. The nutmeg has disappeared. The ash is once again holding strong, and the burn line is razor sharp and finally even. As I am getting into the final 1/3, the cocoa on the retrohale is replaced by the return of the pepper, and things are starting to pick up. The flavor profile is also starting to pick up, as this cigar went from medium to medium plus. As I get near the end of the final 1/3, the flavor profile and the retro hale have intensified immensely, and now the cigar is full body and strength to round out a very good cigar.

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FINAL THOUGHTS:  This was a cigar that, even though the flavor profile changed little, was still very complex. It went from medium to medium plus and then ended up full flavor and body near the end. What a way to finish another great cigar by A.J. Fernandez! I give it a 5/5 on the overall rating, as it was that good, and 4/5 on the strength, as it didn’t get full body until the end. I really enjoyed this cigar and could see it ending up in my humidor and even as an everyday cigar. It is a must try. I think you will like it.

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SMOKE TIME:  Will vary from person to person. I thoroughly enjoyed this cigar and took it right down to the nub and got an 1 hour and 45 minutes out of it.
If this cigar sounds like something you might be interested in, give Rocky’s a call or stop in and tell them Cookie sent you.