JRCigars blog


October 16, 2014 · By · No Comments

Back in 1875, French composer Georges Bizet debuted the opera that would make him famous – Carmen.  The opera is a classic, and I remember as a child going to the Academy of Music in Philadelphia on a school trip just to see it.  (One of my very few ventures into the operatic world.)   I can’t say I remember much from the opera, except for the Toreador Song which almost everyone has heard at one time or another.

Well now come the nannies.  You see in the opening scene, it begins with girls who work in a cigarette factory.  Can you guess where this is going?  Well in Australia they have cancelled the opera because of the tobacco connection

A sponsorship agreement between WA Opera and Healthway has seen plans scrapped to perform a show where the main character works in a tobacco factory.

WA Opera general manager Carolyn Chard told Radio 6PR the decision was made to scrap a planned performance of Carmen - which strongly features the smoking of cigarettes - of its own volition and not under direction of its sponsor.

Healthway is a state government body that seeks to promote  and support healthy lifestyles.

And, of course, the state cannot let anyone see someone being involved with tobacco.  Really?  Gimme a break.


No CommentsTags: cigar laws · cigar news

A Spicy Connecticut

October 14, 2014 · By · No Comments

My Father ConnecticutBack during the last trade show, I wrote about the new line from the Garcias—Jaime and Pepin.  It is the My Father Connecticut.  This is the family’s first venture into a Connecticut. Now most Connecticut wrapped cigars tend to be on the milder side.  Not so with this one, it is a full-bodied Connecticut and it has shipped and is in stores now.  The My Father Connecticut uses Ecuadoran Connecticut for the wrapper over a Nicaraguan Criollo 99 binder with Nicaraguan Habano and Nicaraguan  Criollo fillers.  Other than the wrapper, all the tobaccos come from the Garcia’s farms in Nicaragua.  The My Father Connecticut comes in 4 sizes:  Corona Gorda at 6” X 48; Robusto at 5.25” x 52; Toro at 6.5” x 54 and the Toro Gordo at 6” x 60. They are packed in boxes of 23 and the list price is from  just over $7 to  just over $9.


Asylum InsidiousChristian Eiroa and Tom Lazuka are the ones behind Asylum…the line known for big bold cigars.  The Asylum line features a 7” x 70…talk about big.  Sheesh.  The Asylum Schizo is a very affordable line of mixed fill cigars where the biggest one, the 7” x 70 lists at $3.70.  At the trade show, Eiroa rolled out the Asylum Straight Jacket a more fuller bodied smoke using all Nicaraguan tobaccos but being long fill, it is certainly a bit more than the Schizo with the 7” x 70 listing for about $12 each.  But knowing that stronger is not always better, now Eiroa and Lazuka have gone back to a time before Camacho (Christian’s former brand which is now made and owned by Davidoff) and come up with a cigar that is reminiscent of his former company’s best seller.  Baccarat—the game was the Eiroa family’s big seller.  Made in Honduras with that country’s wrapper and filler and a Mexican binder, it is a smooth cigar with a sweet tip.  Eiroa now has unveiled Asylum Insidious - much milder than other Asylum cigars complete with a sweet tip.  Insidious is Honduran-made at Christian’s factory there and differs from the original in that it uses a smooth Ecuadoran Connecticut wrapper over Honduran fillers and binder.  Insidious comes in more traditional sizes as well: 6” x 44, 7” x 48, 5” x 50, 6” x 52 and of course being Asylum a bigger one at 7” x 64.  Insidious lists for around $4.

Moose no Squirrel

Foundry Chillin' MooseBack at the trade show in talking with Michael Giannini, he told me about his idea for a cigar based on the image of a moose chillin' out. Michael comes up with interesting ideas but you are never sure where he will go with them.  Anyway, Michael wanted his Foundry Tobacco company to have a value priced cigar.  Chillin' Moose is that cigar.  It certainly is value priced, even at full list price the 6” x 60 is under $4. (But we have them around $2 - talk about affordable!)  The Chillin' Moose uses a Connecticut Habano Rosado wrapper over Ecuador Sumatra binder and fillers from Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Mexico.  This is not a strong cigar, more in the mild to medium range, as Giannini said it is meant for just relaxing.  There are three sizes, 5.25” x 45, 5.5” x 50 and the aforementioned 6” x 60.


No CommentsTags: Eiroa · Foundry · My Father · new cigars

Happy 5th

October 09, 2014 · By · No Comments

EP Carillo 5th AnniversaryAs I mentioned in the IPCPR coverage, Ernesto Perez Carrillo is marking his 5th anniversary back out on his own. Ernie, as you may recall, had El Credito – the maker of La Gloria Cubana.  It was his family’s firm that he sold to Swedish Match in 1999.  It later was merged into General Cigar where Ernie continued until 2008 when he retired.  That only lasted about a year when he and his son and daughter founded E.P. Carrillo cigars five years ago.  This year, Ernie has come out with his anniversary cigar which uses an Ecuador Sumatra wrapper over a binder of Corojo 99 grown in Ecuador and Nicaraguan fillers for a medium to full flavored smoke.  There are only 3,000 boxes of this one size 6.5” x 54 and only 10 to a box.  But if you like bigger ring gauges, Ernie came out with the Inch a couple of years ago…an inch being a 64 ring gauge.  They actually come in a 60, a 62, the aforementioned 64 and a 70.  He uses a Corojo wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and a combo of Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers.  They are certainly big’uns.


No CommentsTags: EP Carillo · new cigars

Toraño Smokes

October 08, 2014 · By · No Comments

Torano Vault A-008A month ago, General Cigar acquired Toraño Family cigars.  The distribution on the sticks was not possibly the best and many of you probably haven’t tried them.  Three years ago, the company released its first from the Vault collection, the A 008.  At the time, Charlie Toraño said it was a blend he had always liked but it never made it into production.  The company kept those blends and decided to try them.   The A008 is a Nicaraguan cigar with a double binder one from Nicaragua and the other from Honduras. This was the first, then the following year,  the Vault D-042 came out.  It was a richer smoke using an Ecuador Habano wrapper over a Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan and Pennsylvania fillers.  A couple of other Toraño smokes are the Exodus 1959 and the Exodus 1959 50 years.   I mention them now because they are actually in stock.


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WHO’s in charge?

October 07, 2014 · By · No Comments

Ok as I sit here in Ebola Central—fortunately for me the people who are being watched and the guy who has it live several miles away.  Still way too close.  Anyway, so what is making news from the World Health Organization?  That the U.S. will not send a delegation to Russia later this month for the Framework Convention of Tobacco Control.  Yup, the WHO is more worried about the “epidemic of tobacco” than the actual epidemic of Ebola.  These people are super geniuses.

The reason the U.S. is not going is because Russia getting the conference is a big plus for the country and the administration wants to rain on that parade.

The decision to sit out the weeklong Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) meetings is based on U.S. displeasure over Russia’s actions in eastern Ukraine in recent months, said Bill Hall, director of the news division at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Now it should be noted that the U.S. did not sign the framework but lots of other nations have, including Liberia,  Guinea and Sierra Leone which are in the middle of the Ebola epidemic.  See when bureaucrats get involved in health bad things happen.  Remember this “epidemic of tobacco” goes against the WHO’s massive study on second hand smoke that found no correlation between second hand smoke and increased diseases.  Yet the pols who make up the WHO are concerned about it.

They even want a world wide ban on tobacco advertising.  All of this goes on while Ebola rages in Africa.  And the WHO must be having their heads explode when you consider the experimental drug that seems to work on the disease is made from tobacco.  Of course thanks to the FDA it is not available here.

What about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?  Well the CDC ‘s main mission is to stop diseases, yet they too have mishandled Ebola.  On October 2nd, their big news was that banning smoking in public housing could save nearly $500 million dollars a year.  Sure, that is more important.  I guess also more important than the virus, which is causing polio like symptoms in kids. Of course the CDC blames it’s failures on Ebola on funding cuts.

But CDC officials and lawmakers who support the agency warn that years of austerity has hobbled both the CDC and the National Institutes of Health, both in terms of their ability to combat future outbreaks and their ability to prevent them from happening in the first place.

I dunno like paying closer attention to people coming from West Africa? Even CNN reports that they were shocked on the lack of screening when reporters were coming back to the U.S. from Liberia.

CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen went to Liberia in September to report on the outbreak there, and returned to the U.S. last week. What she says about her return should have everyone concerned.

Cohen says “I expected that they were going to take my temperature. They’re going to ask me lots of questions. They didn’t. I said ‘I’m a journalist. I was covering Ebola. “The gentleman who was helping me, the officer, he started to hand my passport back. Instead, he said, ‘I got an e-mail about passengers like you. Hold on.’ He conferred with someone. In the end he said ‘You need to watch yourself for signs of Ebola.’”

Way to go CDC.  Nice you are getting the word out.  Oh but what about the funding?

…if there is a money crunch, perhaps the CDC needs to rethink it’s scope. The CDC can’t afford to keep an aerial ‘bio-containment unit’ on retainer, but it does have museum, a massive staff and a lots of waste and fraud. In 2007, Senator Coburn’s office authored a 115-page report detailing things like the CDC budget gimmicks, the agency’s hundreds of millions of dollars of waste on junkets and elaborate digs and its institutional failures to actually ‘control diseases’ – and this includes AIDS prevention. It’s doubtful things have gotten better.

The Dallas Hospital which released the Ebola patient back into the community until it was obvious to damn near everyone he had Ebola said they didn’t know about his previous travel.  Having been at that ER before, you have to produce ID.  The guy just came in so no driver’s license, he most likely had a Liberian passport but the hospital could not put two and two together.  However, that facility is smoke free—even if you are sitting in your own car.  So had the patient come in with a cigarette or cigar, he would have been detained.  My solution is make sure all possible Ebola patients smoke, maybe then they would pay attention.


No CommentsTags: cigar laws

Childhood Gone

October 03, 2014 · By · No Comments

This has nothing to do with cigars, except that my grandfather smoked them all the time, even on Saturday mornings when I was fixed in front of the television watching Bugs and Daffy, Heckle and Jeckle, Rocky and Bullwinkle and the rest.  Saturday morning cartoons were a part of growing up.  No more.  Last weekend, the final cartoon program vanished from commercial television.  Bugs and Daffy have been gone from network programming for years—they were too violent said the critics.    The last remaining network programming block aired on Saturday on the CW.  It was called Vortexx and it was not like cartoons of old, at least there were cartoons.

In 2008, Fox cut cartoons from Saturday mornings. In 2011, ABC signed over its former “One Saturday Morning” block to Litton. Then in 2013, Vortexx became the only non-educational, non-live action programming block geared towards kids on Saturday mornings. After this, TV shut down its early morning cartoons. Now, Vortexx is gone, too.

For years, from the 1960s into the 90s, Saturday mornings were made for cartoons. Several generations of kids wearing footie pajamas and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle print pjs would clamor in front of the television on early Saturday mornings, savoring hours of programming geared just toward them. Unfortunately, like the prize at the bottom of the cereal box, network cartoon blocks have disappeared.

Instead of fun cartoons, now kids will be watching “educational” live action programming.  Basically, it is a lot cheaper to make.  But all this trend toward education is “for the children”.  Does that sound familiar?  It is the same answer the nanny’s always give for everything.

They got rid of the cartoons by slowly cutting them back….kinda like what is going on with smoking bans.  Eventually we’ll be out in the cold too.  Pity.


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October 02, 2014 · By · No Comments

Macanudo Estate Reserve

If you are old enough to remember when Macanudos were made in Jamaica, then this year, the newest Macanudo is a true throwback.  Once Cuban tobacco became verboten, companies looked to tobaccos from other countries and Jamaica was one of them.  For 30 years, Macanudo was made in Jamaica but that factory closed in 2000.  This year, as an homage to its roots, the Macanudo Estate Reserve is coming out using a special Jamaican aged tobacco.  The wrapper is a 10-year-old Connecticut leaf with a Mexican binder delivering a creamy medium bodied smoke.  This is not your typical Macanudo in that it is a super premium and carries that type of price tag.  Each cigar comes in a wooden coffin and there will only be 1800 boxes of ten for each of the three sizes – Belicoso at 6” x 57 for $18, Churchill 7” x 50 for $17 and the Robusto at 5” x 50 for $16.  They should be in stock any day now.


No CommentsTags: Macanudo · new cigars

World Blends

October 01, 2014 · By · No Comments

For years, CAO has had the Italia, the Brazilia and the Osa Sol,  but now the company has added two more blends under the concept of World Blends that includes the former.  As we wrote during the trade show, CAO has a couple of new cigars but now they have shipped. 

CAO ColombiaThe Colombia is a medium bodied smoke but it is savory, reminiscent of the old CAO Gold even though the blend is totally different.  The Gold uses an Ecuadoran Connecticut wrapper over a Nicaraguan binder and Honduran and Nicaraguan fillers. The Colombia, on the other hand, uses a Jamastran Rosado wrapper with a Cameroon binder and Brazilian Matafina and Colombian Ica Mazinga for the fillers.  See?  Totally different but yet the Colombia reminds me of the Gold.  Course that could be old age too.  Ica Mazinga is a Colombian tobacco, which comes from an isolated mountainous region called Montes de Maria.  There are four sizes in 20 count boxes with MSRP running from $6 for the 5” x 50 robusto called Tinto up to $7.75 for the 6” x 60 Bogota.

CAO Amazon BasinThe other new blend is the Amazon Basin.  This cigar is very unique (I know unique is enough). The blend uses a tobacco called Bragança.   According to CAO,

The tobacco is organically grown on unspoiled tropical land and harvested just once every three years. Seedlings are transplanted directly into the soil a full yard apart from each other, resulting in less than half the yield of other tobacco plants.

The leaves are rolled by hand into tubes called “carottes” where they undergo six months of natural fermentation. They are then transported out of the rainforest by canoe.

A couple of years ago, Jhonys Diaz gave me a sample of this tobacco.  He did not tell me what it was at the time, but I tried it.  All I can say was wow, my sinuses opened and my head spun.  By itself, it is a very potent leaf.  In the Amazon Basin blend, you can tell it is there but it is much more toned down.  The blend uses tobaccos from four countries, an Ecuadoran Sumatran wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and fillers from other countries (CAO won’t say which other than the  Bragança.  It comes only in one size, due to the scarcity of the Bragança, at 6” x 52 and retails for $9.25.  There is no real band on this cigar; instead there is braided tobacco leaf on it.


No CommentsTags: CAO · new cigars

RIP Kiki

September 30, 2014 · By · No Comments

Kiki Berger

Enrique Kiki Berger passed away last week at the age of 56.  A heart attack was the cause.  Don Kiki, as he was called, got into the cigar business during the boom.  But unlike many others, he stayed in and had his own factory in Esteli.  Mostly, Kiki made brands for others although he  also made Cuban Crafters cigars named for the shop he also owned in Miami.

Berger was the one who made Savanelli’s first cigar by using tobaccos he planted next to the Pan American highway by his factory.  Kiki, despite health problems over the years, was optimistic and friendly towards almost everyone.  He helped young Jonathan Drew and countless others in Nicaragua.  The Padrons sent their respects via Cigar Aficionado:

We are sorry to have lost Enrique 'Kiki' Berger, a champion of the cigar industry who was always happy to help others despite his health issues. By the sacrifice and selfless act of his wife, Karen, donating a kidney to him, his life was lengthened, giving us all additional time with this great man. The Padrón family is united in offering our condolences to Karen and the rest of his family as we pay our respects. We will never forget him; rest in peace."

In 2012, Kiki came out with the first certified kosher cigar made for a Miami company.  Kiki was a big man with a big heart and he will be missed.


No CommentsTags: cigar industry

NOLA smoking

September 26, 2014 · By · No Comments

The IPCPR has said next year’s convention will be in New Orleans.   New Orleans has been a rather friendly city for smokers, but by the time the convention rolls around, maybe not so much. City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell recently pushed for a smoke-free week in the crescent city and plans to go further with some help from her anti-tobacco friends…

Statewide Healthier Air for All Campaign under the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL). TFL has led the charge in Baton Rouge to push for statewide bans on smoking in bars, though that legislation has failed. But several cities and parishes have recently adopted their own legislation to prohibit smoking in barrooms. Mirroring recent laws in Alexandria, Monroe, West Monroe and all of Ouachita Parish, this fall Cantrell plans to introduce legislation to make New Orleans bars and public buildings smoke-free.

So a tobacco convention is set to spend many bucks in New Orleans next summer and the council wants to ban smoking.  That should work out well.


No CommentsTags: cigar industry · IPCPR