As someone who grew up in New Jersey, or “New Joisey” in the turbulent 1960’s and 70s, I remember that every home had a milk box, a clothesline, and a wall phone that was attached to a cord which barely stretched into the other room. This forced me to use code language when trying to find out how my rebellious friends and I were going to procure illegal booze for our weekly expedition (puke-fest) to the woods. With the advent of cable TV years from fruition, my family had one shitty black and white TV with the five basic channels. In our house, you had a choice of a crappy New York Mets game (You think they stink now!) or some cheesy John Wayne movie. That is because my dictator father “Murray the Miser” controlled the airwaves.
Smoking was perfectly acceptable back then. In fact, it was considered cool. The stud Marlboro man coerced us to “come to where the flavor is”, and while the Met game or a “Duke” movie had a commercial break, it would often feature Edie Adams, the face of the Muriel Cigar, spewing her provocative come on, “Hey big spender, spend a little dime on me”.
You could smoke almost anywhere with absolutely no restrictions in those days. I remember being forced to go food shopping at Waldbaum's (Pathmark for Jews) every weekend with my parents before I was permitted to stay home alone. I think they were afraid I would spill Yoo-Hoo on the rug, or even worse, a gang of armed gunmen tying me up and stealing her tchotchkes (Yiddish for porcelain junk) -Ok, back to the story –
Picture dad pushing the rickety cart, his pipe sticking out of his mouth as my mother tossed in any crap that came with a coupon and made sure Weinberg the deli manager didn’t stick his thumb on the scale when weighing the whitefish salad. My father loved his cigarettes, cigars, and pipes but for several years, he only had the pipe in his mouth. It all happened one summer day in 1963 when our neighbor Ben Fondy blocked our driveway with his Ford Falcon. In anger, my father bit through the stem and it became permanently anchored to his bottom jaw. It finally fell out in the winter of 68’ when he slipped on some black ice and smashed his head on the milk box while salting our driveway. Mom and I were glad the pipe was finally dislodged, but due to the impact of the fall, he walked around for two weeks clad only in boxer shorts and tube socks singing Ethel Merman show tunes.
Cigarettes could be purchased anywhere, including machines stationed outside of just about every store and gas station, and even at the ripe old age of ten my dad would send me on a three mile trek to White’s Deli to pick him up a pack of Kent King size. Not once was I proofed. Old man White just assumed either they were for my dad, or I was just another punk kid trying to look cool in front of my peers. Or stranger still, that I had a wild fantasy about trying to get laid before I reached puberty!
Back in those days’ pipe smokers relied heavily on local drugstores that carried tins and pouches of their favorite brands as well as cheap pipes, cigarettes and mostly machine made cigars.
Sadly, the local drugstore is quickly becoming a thing of the past – just like hardware stores and coffee shops. At least the ones that didn’t sell $7.00 cups of scorched Zambian blends and have a tip jar. Personally, I miss the local hardware stores the most. There is nothing more aggravating than navigating your way through the Home Depot, while dodging speeding fork lift trucks trying to find aisle 672 located three miles from the entrance, just to buy a toilet seat cover. Then inevitably standing in line with said toilet seat behind a guy with a giant cart filled with enough lumber to build a small town in Wyoming!
Unfortunately, by the time I became a mature smoker, the regulations started becoming more and more restrictive, leading up to today, where huddled masses of puffers gather in front of their office building feverishly filling their lungs before break time is over or staggering out of their favorite watering hole to do the same. At least smoking outside of a bar in the wintertime is less painful because you are too drunk to realize that your frozen ball sack just dropped onto the pavement.
Oy, and god forbid you smoke in a public place! You are the devil shamelessly spreading that evil second hand smoke to unsuspecting soccer moms and all the rest of those tree hugging self-righteous nuts!
Now this is just one irate smoker's opinion, but if second hand smoke were that dangerous, most people over 50 would already be dead. You see, The kids from my generation all had at least one sibling stinking up the family room with an un-filtered Camel while watching “The Price is Right”. My father blew so much smoke in my kisser I should have died two weeks before my Bar Mitzvah, and if that were the case, I would have missed all those slobbering kisses from my toothless Aunt Pearl or watching my Uncle Irv shamelessly smuggle a pastrami sandwich and a knish into his overcoat at my reception.
If I could travel back in time, even for just one hour, I’d like to return to 1968, where I could smoke a damn cigar wherever I pleased. On second thought, actually, 1969 might be better. That was the year the Mets won the World Series, and the only time I ever saw dad watch a whole game without destroying a lamp or kicking our dog!
In that precious time, I would join my now dearly departed mom and dad for a trip to Waldbaum's with a big fat maduro sticking out of my mouth puffing profusely while keeping a keen eye on that ‘goniff’ Weinstein to make sure the fat bastard kept his thumb off the scale while weighing Mom’s whitefish salad !
Robert Caldwell may not seem like your typical old-school cigar manufacturer. He is over six feet tall with blond hair and what is, may I say, a unique and awesome fashion sense. Seeing him on the street, you may view him as an artist or a musician. Yet in reality, Robert is a tobacco maestro. His mind is a vault of tobacco knowledge and he has used it to become one of the top blenders in the industry. He utilizes the traditional methods to make his cigars so that they are reliable, well constructed, and flavorful. However, when it comes to presentation, Robert stands alone. He knows that he makes fantastic smokes, but when you are a new player in a game full of legends, you need to stand out. Robert’s artistic mind is what makes Caldwell Cigars even more special. From his traditional portraits on the Eastern Standard line to the more surreal look of The King is Dead, and yes, even the innocent and colorful Yellow Cake, Robert’s work draws people to his cigars before they even light up. The best part is that, after getting that first taste, people realize it is more than just presentation; it’s an excellent, well-crafted, and artistic cigar. When first developing his cigars, Caldwell took all aspects into account. He decided on Dominican tobacco because the Dominican Republic began cultivating tobacco well before Cuba. He drew on the history and the experience of Dominican rollers to create his phenomenal new-age line. Caldwell’s newest line, Blind Man’s Bluff is his first rolled in Honduras (at the famed Camacho factory). Although its Habano wrapper and Honduran Criollo tobaccos make it taste quite different than his usual Dominican brands, you can taste the same quality and craftsmanship throughout—that’s how you know it’s a Caldwell. So, next time you see Robert at an event or walking through out the streets of Miami, stop for a moment because you’ll be looking at a new legend.
It is sadly the last day here at the 2015 IPCPR. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we did a lot of different bodily functions. The buyers have done a great job picking up the best products for our customers and ensuring they will be delivered to our warehouse promptly. On this the final day, let us take a look at some more amazing products you can expect from JR Cigar.
La Mission du L’Atelier- Inspired by a famous French winery, Pete Johnson is rolling out another great smoke from L’Atelier Imports. This year he is debuting the La Mission. It is wrapped in a dark Mexican San Andres wrapper and includes the very limited Sancti Spiritus leaf, made famous by Pepin Garcia of My Father. It is available in 3 different sizes that correspond to famous vintages from the winery: The 1959 (4 ¾ x52), the 1989 (5 5/8 x 54) and the 2009 (6 ½ x 52). The MSRP will be $8, $9, and $10 respectively. Be careful with the cork!!!
My Father Centurion H-2K-CT- I know this cigar sounds like it has a government designation, but what it truly has is some amazing flavor. It is the same filler and binder as the previous Centurion, but now with a unique and spicy new wrapper. It’s a hybrid Habano wrapper that’s actually grown in Connecticut. It truly shows you that not everything out of that state is light and creamy. This cigar is medium to full with a great mix of spicy and sweet. Its available in 2 box press vitolas: A corona for $7.10 and a Toro for $8.10.
Murcielago By Erik Espinosa- My dear friend Erik is bring back an old favorite. The Murcielago line was originally made by his previous company United tobacco. He is now bringing it back with a vengeance. It features a dark, oily, Mexican San Andres wrapper that’s exceedingly rich and flavorful. Its filler and binder is made from choice Nicaraguan long filler tobaccos and of course it is all rolled at his La Zona factory in Esteli. It will be available in 3 distinct sizes: the Noir (5 x 52), the La Lune (6 1/2 x 54) and the Nocturne (5 1/2 x 56). Its time to let the bat out of the cave!
A dense fog of fruity-smelling smoke hangs in the air. The hall is filled with row after row of tables and elaborate displays of juices, tanks, mods, atomizers, batteries, wick and wire, and even t-shirts and caps. Anyone who has attended the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) convention, held every year in various bustling cities, would find this scenario very familiar.
The Vape Industry holds mega-events several times a year, the biggest being the ECC Vape Convention, Vape Expo, Chicago Vape Convention, and—the granddaddy of them all—Vape Summit. These events are highly successful, well-planned, and loads of fun. At least that’s what I had heard before I actually attended one.
Open to retailers, vendors, wholesale distributors, and, of course, the public, a vape convention is a great way to learn more about electronic cigarettes and the industry. There are speakers who discuss and present the latest about vaping, and room for sponsor booths where you can buy quality vaping products, hardware, e-liquids, and other accessories. Various contests and giveaways are scheduled and for a nominal entrance fee, consumers usually walk out with a bag full of swag.
Billed as the biggest vaping event to hit the Garden State, Vape Expo NJ was held at the New Jersey Convention Center in Edison, from July 17-19, 2015. This sprawling 130,000-sq.ft pavilion drew in roughly 1,200- 2,000 vendors and electronic cigarette enthusiasts from all over the country throughout the weekend.
On the first official day of the event, there were signs all over the building stating the following:
“The Edison board of health has forced vaping to be done Saturday and Sunday in an adjacent enclosed pavilion off the show floor. Please keep all vaping in that pavilion. This event is not open to non-vapers. Thank you, VENJ Staff.”
Unlike many others, these signs didn’t deter me in the least; being an avid cigar smoker, I’m used to strict policies and designated smoking areas. I planned to just obey the law and vape at said adjacent pavilion—which turned out to be at the back exit, next to several rows of dumpsters!
I arrived to a very crowded and very smoky hall. Damn, I thought. People are ignoring the signs. This can’t be good!
There was a giant stage, a DJ stand, pole dancers, and neon lights flashing from wall to wall. It was like a walking into a nightclub from the 80's.
As I found out about an hour later after rounding the many tables with a bag full of yummy juice and wading through the thick candy smoke, a state senator, backed by a gang of health officials, was issuing $250 fines for people who vaped indoors. At this point, some vendors and patrons started to pack up and leave. The expo hall manager, the event promoters, and nearly 70 sellers were fined about $50,000 for violating the state's indoor smoke-free air law. That’s not counting the paying customers also slapped with fines.
For those of you not familiar with this law, in 2010, New Jersey was the first state in the country to ban vaping in public by expanding a law barring indoor smoking at restaurants, bars, and other public places to include e-cigarettes.
So how did the event promoters, knowing this law, think they could pull off this event? The official website read as follows:
“THIS IS A PRIVATE EVENT FOR VAPERS ONLY! NO SMOKING PLEASE!
MEMBERSHIP IS INCLUDED WITH YOUR ENTRY TICKET PURCHASE
*** VAPING WILL BE ALLOWED INSIDE THE ADJACENT PAVILION
Vape Expo NJ is a private social group for vapers 19+. Valid ID is required for entry. All membership info will be detailed under the ATTEND link. Tickets will be available to purchase online or at the door each day of the event.”
Apparently, there was some loophole in the contract, or the promoters read it wrong. Either way, the event became a nightmare of epic proportions.
By Saturday’s end, the event planner said he intended to challenge the fines, arguing that health officials were mistakenly applying the law to what is a private building he had leased out for the three-day show.
Shortly after I departed, an announcement was made that vaping was once again allowed in the pavilion!
And this is just the beginning, folks. Even though NJ Vape Expo may have won the battle, they are still very much in the midst of a war. This is just more fodder for the government to over-regulate another thriving industry to death. Wrongfully likened to traditional cigarettes, vaping has joined the persecuted ranks of cigar and pipe tobaccos.
I’m starting to envision a point in the near future where I can buy a bag of weed at my local Walmart, but I’ll have to risk my freedom to find a sleazy dealer selling freakin’ E-juice.
Terror is on the rise, the economy sucks, the whole damn world is falling apart, and our government is worried about us blowing stupid clouds of Tootsie Roll flavored steam. SONOFABITCH !
In my mind day three seemed to be the most important day of the show. The glitz and glamour of the big manufacturers was fantastic, yet in terms of the cigars, well most of them have been announced for a few weeks now at least. With all that hype behind them today was a big day for our buyers. After sitting with Padron, Tatuaje, and Perdomo, let's see what they came up with!!
Padron Damaso- Last year, Padron spun heads at the trade show with the introduction of the 50th Anniversary and its corresponding humidor. This year, in order to top that, they are thinking outside the box. More specifically they are thinking outside the box press. The Damaso is one of Padron's only rounded parejo shaped cigar. What’s more unusual is it is the first Padron that comes in cellophane. Yet the most surprising aspect of this cigar is it is the first Padron offered in a Connecticut seed wrapper. It is a mild cigar with a light wrapper over vintage Nicaraguan filler. It is offered in 4 sizes: No. 8 (5 1/2 x 46), No. 12 (5 x 50), No. 15 (6 x 52) and No. 17 (7 x 54).
Tatuaje Verocu- For those of you who are Tatuaje fans, you know theVerocu has been around for a few years. Well this year not only did we acquire the original line, we also now have the new size, which launched this year. This line was originally a limited extension of the Havana VI, but now is a stand-alone blend. It uses a Nicaraguan Café Rosado Oscuro wrapper and a great blend of Nicaraguan long filler tobaccos. The new size is known as the No.3 and is a 6 x 46 corona gorda. The MSRP is going to be around $8.50
Perdomo Special Craft Series- Finally a company has made the perfect cigar for beer pairings. Perdomo’s much anticipated Special Craft series has been the talk of the town for a long time, and now they are finally here. There are 3 different wrappers that are made to pair with 3 different beers. The first is known as the Pilsner and it uses a creamy Connecticut wrapper. Its made to pair with lighter beers such as pilsners or light lagers. The Amber uses a Sun Grown wrapper from Condega and is best with pale ales, lagers, or ambers. The last is known as the Stout. It uses a dark maduro wrapper is paired best with stouts, porters, or brown ales. The filler and binder on all three vary slightly but it is the wrappers that make these parings perfect. All 3 will also be available in 4 sizes: a Robusto, an Epicure, a Churchill, and a Gordo. The MSRP is $6.99, $7.50, $7.99, and $8.50 respectively. Cheers!!
Another fantastic day here at the trade show. Some of these booths are absolutely phenomenal and the cigars I’ve tried have been great! Yesterday I had the pleasure of sitting down with Matt Booth of Room 101 for a few minutes, which is always a pleasure. I then was invited to attend a special presentation by Rafael Nodal and his great Aging Room line. You’ll be able to see portions of the presentation and my interviews later on, but I know what you want to know…what did we buy today? Well today was all about Altadis, so lets see what we got!
Montecristo Estoque- One of the many anticipated releases this year from Altadis U.S.A, they have taken their highly successful Espada and taken it to the next level. The Estoque, named after the sword of the Spanish matadors, is bold and delicious. It uses special upper priming Nicaraguan Cuban Seed Viso Jalapa wrapper. Its binder and filler are select vintage Nicaraguan tobaccos, some dating back to 2002. It's smooth, but with a great spice to it. It is available in one size, the 6 x 50 and will MSRP for around $14.50.
Montecristo White Vintage Connecticut- If you think of the Montecristo White as the BMW of mild cigars... well it's time to meet the Bentley. The White Vintage Connecticut is a superb mild to medium smoke. Each box is hand painted with a very artistic rendering of a Connecticut tobacco barn. It uses a 7-year-old Connecticut shade wrapper, along with a terrific blend of Dominican, Nicaraguan, and Peruvian tobaccos for the binder and filler. It’s smooth and creamy with a hint of hazelnut and vanilla. It will be available in 3 sizes: No.3(5 ½ x 44), the No.2 Belicoso(6 x 50), and the Double Corona(6 ¼ x 50). The MSRP will be $10.50, $14.50, and $12.50, respectively.
Henry Clay Tattoo- This is probably the cigar I was most excited for from Altadis. Long time Henry Clay admirer Pete Johnson (yes from Tatuaje), has worked closely with the Grupo de Maestros to reinvent the brand. Enter, The Henry Clay Tattoo. It’s a rich and dark smoke that uses a limited 2010 vintage Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. Its binder and filler use vintage Dominican tobacco with a dash of 2-year-old Nicaraguan Criollo. Even though the blend has changed, Pete has kept the tradition of the original Henry Clay alive. It is available in 1 size; a 6 x 54 with a pigtail and the MSRP is around $9.50 a cigar.
H. Upmann Banker- It's time to make it rain, with the new and improved H. Upmann Banker. After its release last year, this reinvigorated brand has spread across brick and mortar stores around the country. What’s new about it this year is the addition of a new size, the Basis Point. It’s the only Belicoso in the Banker line and is 6 x 52. It uses the same great Ecuadorian Habano wrapper as the rest of the line as well as a terrific blend of vintage Dominican and Nicaraguan long filler tobaccos. The MSRP will be around $8.30. This is one banker that won’t hurt your wallet!
Yes my friends, it is the first day of the 2015 International Premium Cigars and Pipe Retailer trade show. IPCPR is the oldest and largest organization that represents tobacco retailers. Their tradeshow has been occurring once a year for over 8 decades and has become the ultimate event for tobacco buyers. This is the time where all of the manufacturers lay out their newest lines for that year. Think of it as a smoking New York Auto Show. It is like Christmas for members of the cigar industry. Everyone is so excited to see the new products and to show off their new toys, it is a terrific blend of business and pleasure. One of the greatest characteristics of the show is that it is closed off to ordinary consumers. It is strictly for retailers and manufacturers. This makes this event a very coveted occasion and a sort of dream for me for a number of years. Today was my first day on the floor of the show and I was like a kid in a candy store. I couldn’t stop from gazing at the amazing setups of some of these cigar giants like Davidoff, Padron, and Fuente. Some of these booths are extremely luxurious and showy in order to draw in new clients. However, it takes more than just a flashy booth to make an impression at this event. You need to have an outstanding product at a good price and that’s available for retailers as soon as possible. Let's take a look at some of the new products our buying department has picked up so far.
Davidoff Escurio- This cigar is one of the most anticipated releases of the year. The Davidoff Escurio will join their black labeled cigars such as the Davidoff Nicaraguan, which was the talk of the town last year. It’s a medium to full bodied cigar and uses a very bold blend of tobaccos. Its dark oily wrapper is an Ecuadorian Habano. It's wrapped around a delicious Brazilian criollo seed binder and vintage Dominican and Brazilian long filler. The name Escurio is meant to evoke the emotion of a night in Rio. It is the first Davidoff to utilize Brazilian tobacco. It will be offered in three sizes: A petite Robusto, a Robusto, and a Gran Toro. The MSRP will be $8.50, $15.95, and $17.90 respectively.
Caldwell Cigars Blind Man's Bluff- It has been a huge year for Robert Caldwell. Since last year's show, his brand has blossomed into one of the most sought after boutique cigars on the market. He enters this year with a new line titled Blind Man's Bluff. What’s unique about this smoke is it was crafted in Honduras at the Agroindustrias Laepe S.A., the same factory as the famed Camacho. They utilize an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a Honduran Criollo binder, and a blend of aged Dominican, Criollo, and Honduran ligero long filler. It will be available in 3 sizes: a Robusto, a toro, and a 6x60. The MSRP is $7.50, $8.50, and $9.50 respectively. Coming off of a recent 91 rating in Cigar Aficionado magazine, let's see how this new smoke holds up.
Futuro by Warped and Casa Fernandez- Kyle Gellis is the new young prince of the cigar world. He debuted at last year's trade show and has taken the industry by storm. This year, he is debuting a new project with which he collaborated with Casa Fernandez. It has a Nicaraguan corojo 99 wrapper, a criollo 98 binder and a mix of corojo 99 and 98 long filler. Expect it to be quite spicy but with that usual smooth floral taste of a Warped. It is available in 2 sizes: The Seleccion 109 which is a 6 x 52 and the Seleccion Supreme which is a 5 5/8 x 46. The MSRP is in the $9.00 range. I am very excited so see the combination of these two great companies.
La Imperiosa – By Crowned Heads Get ready for an amazing cigar that’s now in a new package. The highly successful release of the Las Calaveras EL 2014 from Crowned Heads has made them determined to make that blend into a regular production line. Enter the La Imperiosa. It uses the same great Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro wrapper and vintage Nicaraguan long filler as its predecessor. It will be sold in 4 different sizes: Corona Gorda (5 3/4 x 46), Magicos (4 1/2 x 52), Double Robusto (6 3/8 x 50) and Dukes (5 1/2 x 54). MSRP will be between $8.25 to $9.75. Its back baby!
Before his first high-altitude airplane flight, Winston Churchill requested the creation of an oxygen mask that would accommodate cigar smoking. The next day he was puffing away at 15,000 feet over Berlin. They even opened the cabin window so he could flick. That same day, Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler while dining at a local outdoor bistro swears he found cigar ash in his Bratwurst!
Sigmund Freud the famous psychoanalysis, who saw sex in everything, is famous for saying "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar"---Freud was an avid cigar smoker. He was also infatuated with his penis... You figure that one out!
In 1961, the CIA was ordered to use their office of medical services to place the botulism toxin into Fidel Castro's cigars---but the plan went haywire. In fact, he commented that he received a box of cigars from the CIA that had notes of leather, almond, and gorgonzola that gave him a bad case of the shits!
Did you ever wonder where cigar bands came from? Queen Catherine the Great of Russia was a Cigar Smoker--to avoid having the smell on her fingers she created the use of silk bands on cigars, which she used to hold her smokes. Yet, it’s reported that she was frequently seen at beheadings slurping vodka and eating stuffed cabbage rolls, and using her sleeve as a napkin!
The original native word for tobacco was “cohiba”. Tobacco was what they called the pipe they smoked it out of. Their word for smoking was "sikar" which Europeans eventually turned into the word cigar. Just as the great Red Foxx turned the word marijuana into “Latin Lettuce”!
Bill Clinton celebrated the rescue of a downed American pilot over Bosnia by lighting a Romeo-y-Julieta cigar and yes, we all know how he celebrates with cigars when Hillary is out of town… He smokes a Montecristo of course! You thought I was going to tell that awful outdated joke again, didn’t ya’?
A thousand tobacco seeds can fit inside a thimble. And yet a banana will not fit in the trunk of a Smart Car. Go figure!
The best and most experienced Dominican roller can produce at least 200 cigars a day. The bad rollers end up working at the Santiago Walmart.
At the request of his wife, Mark Twain gave up cigars, leading to a long bout of writer’s block. He then resumed smoking his normal 300 cigars a month and wrote a book in three months without any cerebral distraction. Unfortunately, all the proceeds of that book were used to buy more cigars. In frustration, his wife Bertha Twain ran off with a Latvian immigrant named Moishe, whose great- great grandson Chaim later invented the world famous Stinky Ashtray.
At Antietam, General Robert E. Lee delivered orders wrapped around three cigars. And quickly handed them to his faithful messenger, Private Jake Swisher. Now Jake was always curious to try a cigar for the first time so he peeled off the messages smoked the stogies, and he loved them so much that all he could say was ...”sweet”!! After the war he started his own company. The rest is history.
In the early part of the 20th century, the capital of the American cigar market was in Cleveland, Ohio. Now in those days, the Cuban tobacco had to be shipped by boat to Florida and then by train to Cleveland. Not only was this costly, but by the time the tobacco arrived it was dry and had to be rejuvenated. So to keep costs and labor down, all the big manufacturers’ began moving to Miami and Tampa where they remain today. Ok, that’s what history states, but I’ll let you in on the real reason for this move, as told by my Uncle Max who was in the industry back then. Most cigar moguls in those days were Jewish, and it became increasingly difficult to get a good Knish in Ohio.
Some prominent medical experts believe that smoking as little as three cigars per day decrease the sexual desire in a man. A well-known cigar expert (me) would like to point out the positive aspects of this...A cigar lasts longer than sex and you don’t have to cuddle or talk to it when you’re done!
Some sports are incredibly exciting to watch. Nothing beats a football running back finding a hole between piles of 300-pound linemen and gaining 52 yards, or the sheer thrill of watching a cleanup hitter in baseball cracking one over the right field wall for a bases loaded grand slam home run.
Watching golf, on the other hand, is about as exciting as watching paint dry!
Of course, most of you will disagree, as golf is an enormously popular sport, as well as the traditional rite of passage amongst men who need a special day to bond with each other, lying about their wealth, and all of the hot women they are banging at work. It’s also the best way to avoid the dreaded “honeydew” list, or spending the day with your spouse looking for the perfect shower curtain.
In all seriousness, I had always thought that driving a cart 19 miles to hit a little ball into a hole seemed like a tremendously futile effort. However, after I tried playing a few times (rather, about 20 minutes) and only managed to drive the ball six inches past my left foot, I did develop respect for the sport … Shit, It’s hard as hell!
So, why am I writing a blog about golf? Well, because I know most of you folks love it, and it has some very distinct advantages. In addition, being the liberal-minded fellow that I am, I thought I would try to find the beauty in this classic sport, even though the only club that I am familiar with is the Elks. (Wow that joke really sucked… Even for me!)
Time: Look, golf ain’t exactly football. There’s no clock—although it would be interesting if another group of golfers could tackle you before you get to the next hole. (Not to mention it would drastically increase the TV audience.) Therefore, with no time restrictions, and 732 miles of grass, sand, and lakes, you have about ten hours to enjoy at least three quality smokes before you hit the 18th hole. Ok, that may be a bit of an exaggeration!
Outdoors: This one is pretty much self-explanatory. You’re outside, and for the most part not bound by those repugnant no-smoking laws. So you can take in all of the scenic grass (rough), the sand (bunkers) and calming ponds (hazards).
Most importantly, you can use this occasion to improve your game, drink a shitload of beer, and talk about the head teller at a certain bank in Old Bridge N.J who has a set of knockers to die for! … Shit. I better lower my dose of Cialis!
Speaking of Cialis, when the moment arises, what’s the point of sitting in separate bathtubs in the woods?
Wow, did I digress!
Cigars...Cigars...Cigars: OK, (Duh!) This is the only perk of playing golf that I know about. Considering that you will be lingering on that course for about the same time it would take me to walk from my house to Delaware, this is your opportunity to fire up a big ass cigar that even the late Ernie Kovacs would marvel at. However, please be forewarned that if you fire up a powerhouse Nicaraguan when you tee-off at 6 am with just a bowl of Wheaties in your belly, you stand an excellent chance of blowing chunks on those silly spiked shoes with the black tassels that cost you a fortune. So, before you grab your balls, know what strength stogy you can handle when the roosters are still crowing. I recommend starting out mild, and then five hours and 26 miles later, when you are on your fifth hole and sixth beer, you can smoke that massive 77 ring Triple Ligero, five-alarm monster and you won’t even feel it!
How many cigars: That’s totally up to you! Unless you’re a real pro, and have earned your ugly green polyester Masters Tournament Kmart jacket, you can never totally count on having a great game. However, I guarantee that you will always have a great day on the links when you are smoking your beloved cigar.
Therefore, in summary, it’s always a great experience spending a beautiful summer day on the golf course enjoying great cigars with good friends. Me personally, I’d rather spend the day with my pals sitting in box seats at Yankee Stadium watching a game. The only problem is the seats cost 300 bucks, and you can’t even smoke a damn cigar … SONOFABITCH!
Highly regarded as one of the most famous cigar makers in our lifetime, Frank Llaneza began working in the cigar industry at the age of 15. One of the first cigar manufacturers to set up shop in Honduras following the Cuban embargo, Frank played an instrumental role in getting Cuban seeds to Central America after the Cuban Revolution, and helped shape the non-Cuban cigar industry into what it is today. For many years, Frank was President of Villazon & Co, and produced some of the most well-known brands in the world, including Punch, El Rey del Mundo, JR Ultimate, and Hoyo de Monterrey just to name a few. For his hard work, milestone accomplishments, and dedication to the industry, Cigar Aficionado magazine inducted Mr.Llaneza into its Cigar Hall of fame in 1997, which had only six members at the time.
Thanks to his wonderful working relationship with JR, I was fortunate enough to meet Frank on many occasions when he would visit our office. He was a very humble man who almost seemed embarrassed when I complimented him on his wonderful smokes. Instead, he would simply shake my hand, and give me a specially aged beauty from his own private collection. The freebie was never my intention for the much-deserved compliment, but he always insisted that I take it.
Legendary in quality construction and flavor, I have always loved smoking every famous brand that Frank created - and I still do, but one in particular, the Frank Llaneza 1961, really stands out as one of the best cigars that I ever tasted regardless of the manufacturer.
I would never have the opportunity to compliment Frank on his very last work-of-art. Sadly, Frank passed away at age 90, shortly after its release, and would not get see the success of the very cigar named after him.
Featuring a hearty looking, smooth and firm, Ecuadorian Criollo 98’ wrapper and the finest blend of Nicaraguan and Dominican filler tobaccos, this final piece of the Llaneza legacy embodies everything one would expect from a premium cigar … and more.
I’ll never forget the first time I lit up the Frank Llaneza 1961 Double Magnum (6 1/2 x 54); I was immediately in stogy heaven! A few million puffs later, I still feel the same elation when I pluck one out of my trusty humidor. Every size in the line offers the same mouthwatering goodness.
Upon lighting, , the 1961 opens up with a blast of dark pepper and cedar that quickly gives way to deep rich notes of zesty spice, dark chocolate, cocoa and cinnamon. At the midway point, a symphony of complex flavors that include leather, warm bread, nutmeg and coffee join the mix.
The final third of the cigar remained full-flavored, but was much creamier with pronounced notes of caramel, sweet spice and espresso.
Although highly regarded by serious cigar enthusiasts, it never quite achieved the fame it deserved. More high profile brands, with fancier packaging and high cost advertising has made the Frank Llaneza 1961 a forgotten (and now very affordable) treasure that you simply must experience.