JRCigars blog

Frank Llaneza 1961 Cigars – The Forgotten Treasure

June 30, 2015 · By · No Comments

Frank LlanezaHighly 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 PunchEl Rey del MundoJR 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.

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No CommentsTags: cigars · cigar industry · Frank Llaneza

The Return of the Long Forgotten Jamaican Cigar

June 25, 2015 · By · No Comments

The Jamaican tobacco industry owes its growth and fame to the Second World War and all of the cigar-loving smokers from Great Britain, including Sir Winston himself.  With the United Kingdom mired in war, currency was at a premium and had to remain within the commonwealth for essential industry, not spent overseas on cigars. Furthermore, most shipping, and trading routes were blocked, so buying cigars from Cuba was no longer an option.  Realizing there was a ton of money to be made; many famous Cuban cigar makers moved to the British colony with their tobacco crops, and seeds, and opened many factories. Soon Jamaican versions of Cuban brands appeared--many made entirely with Cuban tobacco, others with Jamaican filler and Cuban wrappers. While the original Havana’s were absent, these fine Jamaican counterparts were the sole source for stogies in the U.K. market.

After the war, Cuban cigars became readily available worldwide, but by now, Jamaica had already developed a reputation as a country that produced outstanding cigars. In addition, these refugee cigar makers moved back to their country, and the Jamaican market quadrupled in production.

Then when the embargo hit, and Cuban cigars were banned in the United States, Jamaican cigars were considered a high quality alternative, soon followed by the Dominican Republic. In the following decades, smokes from Honduras and Nicaragua began filling the void.

Famous brands like Royal Jamaica, and Macanudo, along with other brands such as Crème de Jamaica, Flor de Jamaica, Temple Hall, Palamino, and Jamaican Heritage were very highly regarded. In the 1980’s JR had some great house brands from this country. Many of our JR Alternatives were made in Jamaica, along with one of our oldest and most popular bundled brands now made in the Dominican, the Special Jamaicans Cigars.

This industry continued to thrive until tragedy struck.  In September 1988, Hurricane Gilbert slammed into Jamaica at full strength, crippling the nation's cigar industry. The storm destroyed many factories; most notably those of the most popular brands, Royal Jamaica and Macanudo, who both switched production to the Dominican Republic.

Macanudo Estate Reserve Jamaica

The storm left the Country financially crippled, so they chose the quickest path to recovery by rebuilding the tourist industry. It takes many years and a lot of hard work to rebuild a single plantation, let alone fifty or sixty. Therefore, for many years, aside from a handful of growers outside of Kingston, the Jamaican cigar manufacturing remained dormant.

Today, while still rebuilding, Jamaica is making a steady comeback. In the last few years some great brands, most notably Macanudo, has returned to its roots with the Macanudo Estate Reserve Jamaica

This much-anticipated release captures all of the silky smooth, sweet spice flavor, and tantalizing aroma of the original blend. This may just be the beginning of a new renaissance for Jamaica, as many notable manufacturers have plans to release new products from this legendary growing region.

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No CommentsTags: cigar industry · Jamaica · Macanudo

Cigars 103: The Corojo Wrapper

June 22, 2015 · By · No Comments

If you are an avid cigar enthusiast, you have seen the name “Corojo” in the wrapper description of many of your favorite premium cigars. Corojo thrives in the sun, and these leaves add a zesty, spicy character to the blend. Many cigar makers have been trying to emulate the unique earthy robust taste of a Cuban cigar for years, this along with the Habana 2000, an early hybrid of Corojo, are the two varieties they have been using to give your smokes that much desired Cubanesque quality.

History

Beloved for its robust, earthy sweet flavors and complexity the Corojo leaf was created in the 1930’s by Diego Rodriguez in Cuba’s famed Vuelta Abajo tobacco-growing region. Using selective breeding, and experimenting with several varieties of native Criollo seed, the Corojo was born. The leaf’s name comes from the “El Corojo” plantation, not far from the town of San Luis y Martinez in Pinar del Rio. From the 1930’s through the 1990’s, Rodriguez’s Corojo wrapper was used exclusively on all Cuban cigars. Then, towards the end of the decade, various diseases virtually wiped out the entire crop, luckily there was an ample supply resting in the curing barns, making the original Cuban Corojo of today, strictly a vintage selection.

Today

Corojo is grown almost entirely in Honduras in the Jamastran Valley, as well as parts of western Kentucky in the U.S. mostly noted for its thick and nutty tasting Burley leaf that is featured in many top-quality pipe tobaccos.

Versions

Corojo '99 – the last native Cuban priming, developed for wrapper leaf in 1999, but also widely planted in Ecuador, Nicaragua, Kentucky, and several other regions, where this seed has thrived.

Nicaraguan Corojo '99 - The Nicaraguan grown version is an Ecuadorian transplant of the original Corojo '99 seed, this is an extremely popular variety with tons of complexity, and is used on such notable brands as Perdomo Habano Cigars, the Joya de Nicaragua Antano Dark Corojo, and our affordable yet incredibly flavorful Nicaraguan Factory Corojos.

Honduran- The most popular version, the Honduran Corojo is both sweet and spicy and offers tons of complexity. The brand that comes to mind first is Camacho Corojo , One of the world’s only 100% authentic Corojo cigars. Don Tomas Corojo is a bold Cuban style offering that features this wrapper in a very dark shade, and Punch Rare Corojo , a puro (All Honduran) offering from this world-famous brand.

Mexico- Produced in very limited quantities; the San Andres Corojo is dark reddish brown in color and adds a profound nutty flavor to the smoke. This gem is featured in the Room 101 San Andres, the AJ Fernandez San Lotano Maduro, and the bold H. Upmann Reserve Maduro, to name a few.

If you’re looking for a smoke with a full flavor profile and a bit of a kick, then Corojo cigars should definitely be at the top of your list.

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No CommentsTags: cigars · Mexico · Cuban cigars · Honduras · Nicaragua

Father's Day

June 19, 2015 · By · 4 Comments

Its that time of year again when we all take a break from our hectic lives and attempt to honor and celebrate fatherhood. I feel as though sometimes, Father's Day is swept under the rug. Some even believe the holiday was created simply to match up to Mother's Day, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Father’s day actually began in this country over 100 years ago by a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd to commemorate her father, a veteran of the Civil War who raised six children on his own. A century later, it seems to have become, like many American holidays, a commercial one. Stores pack their shelves with tools, ties, and trinkets in hopes that the casual passerby will remember Father's day is coming and make a quick purchase. The T.V. is packed with war movies and sports, distracting us from the real purpose of the day.

I believe our dads are worth more than that. I cannot speak for everyone out there but I know that at the very least my dad is worth more than that. He is worth more than a cheesy Macy's ad for a belt or a funny Hallmark card. They deserve the utmost respect and admiration for their roles in shaping our lives. In the stereotypical role of the father, especially the Italian American father, they are seen as the enforcers. Their job is to make sure we make it to 18 and can go out on our own. However there is so much more to it than that. My dad has played a long list of roles in my life including therapist, dietician, attorney, banker, coach, mentor, film critic, proofreader... I mean the list really doesn’t stop.

He taught me how to be responsible and balance my adult responsibilities. He showed me how to cut and light my first cigar, which as it turns out was a major plot point in the story of my life. He taught me certain life lessons that will stay with me forever. He taught me to talk less and listen more. He made sure I always asked other people questions about themselves and showed interest in their well being. He taught me how to be a gentleman. He taught me that Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays were the greatest ball players of all time and that Atticus Finch was an ideal role model. Atticus Finch was a man of great character and great respect, and that’s who my father wanted to me to idolize.

This is only the opinion of one young man and his own dad. Yet I know that many of you out there have similar experiences with your father. So this Father's Day, do more than just a card and a lottery ticket. Let your father know how much you admire and respect him. Let him know that all those years busting his ass to send you to school are appreciated. Simply, show him you have become Atticus Finch, and it'll make his day. Happy Father's Day, Pop.

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Smoking Laws Gone Wild, Part 2

June 18, 2015 · By · No Comments

A long, long time ago when smoking was accepted in our great land and my dad was able to buy all of his power tools in the Montgomery Ward department store without having to extinguish his green dog-rocket, there were some crazy tobacco laws on the books (albeit not as dangerous as those being enforced now). These odd mandates thrived throughout the decades unchallenged, hardly known by the general public. Being the hard-working investigative blogger that I am, I took a 20-minute break from the Dog The Bounty Hunter marathon to astonish and amuse you with some of these amazing tobacco laws. I’m sure there are many more than I came across, but I’m not writing a novel! Instead, I have decided to amuse you with my favorites. And, yes, they are all factual. I swear! (fingers crossed).

New Jersey: While signs reading “Do Not Feed the Animals” are common in many zoos, New Jersey took this notion one-step further by passing a law that forbids people from giving local zoo animals cigars or whiskey. Feeling sorry that these poor deprived caged beasts cannot enjoy the simple pleasures of life, I took a trip to the Turtleback Zoo in West Orange and threw a carton of Virginia Slims and a six-pack of Coors into every cage. They all seemed happy,( except for a certain lemur that preferred menthol), and I wasn’t even breaking any laws… although I don’t encourage any of you to do this! It just so happens that I simply got lucky on that particular day because all of the caretakers were busy trying to dislodge a rhinoceros who got his horn stuck in a fence.

Newport, Rhode Island: Resting on the East Coast, Newport has a law that prohibits people from smoking a pipe after sunset. It seems that any other time is fine but, once the sun goes down, you and your beloved briar are done. Fortunately, many of the city’s pipe smokers have found that snorting Vicodin and washing it down with a bottle of Thunderbird is just as relaxing.

 

South Bend, Indiana: In this town, a law dating back to 1924 declares that it is officially illegal to make a monkey smoke a cigarette. Many years ago, while living in South Bend, I owned a monkey named Larry—and I totally agree with this law. I never would have forced Larry to smoke a cigarette. That, in my book is considered animal cruelty.

Being a responsible pet owner though, I attempted to take Larry to a local cigar bar. The friendly owner said, “We don’t get many monkeys in here.” Boy, was I embarrassed when Larry said, “With these prices, you won’t be getting many more either!” Larry orders his cigars online now.

Michigan: Here, smoking in bed is not only ill-advised, it is downright illegal. Somebody should have told that to Murray Kaplan from Flint, who fell asleep with a Gurkha Robusto in his mouth while watching the Discovery Channel. Not only did he lose his eyebrows and chest hair, he was promptly arrested after his landlord smelled smoke and called the police. Unfortunately, his neighbors on Cellblock B love a guy with neither eyebrows nor chest hair. Poor Murray spent the next three years wearing a strapless lemon chiffon evening gown while spending romantic evenings with the Aryan Brotherhood.

Oklahoma: While the smoking laws here seem fairly standard, I did learn that dogs congregating in groups of three or more on private property must have a permit signed by the mayor. I am not 100 percent certain but I do believe that, once they have this paperwork in order, they are then allowed to smoke cigars. Those of you in Oklahoma, please tell your dogs not to get too excited and head to the nearest cigar store just yet; I’ll have to research this a little further.

Well, as my Rabbi would frequently say while reciting the Talmud, that was some crazy shit. However, these dumb tobacco laws do not only apply to the good old US of A. Let’s take a look at a crazy law that still exists in Australia.

Australia has a law that bans children from purchasing cigars or cigarettes. Obviously this isn't the strange part, as many countries rightfully have similar regulations. However, Australia stands out because minors are legally allowed to consume tobacco as long as an adult makes the purchase. (Perhaps needless to say, there is no father of the year award in this country.)

Australian children are freely allowed to smoke a cigar in front of a police officer, a parent, a teacher, or even a kangaroo, and, believe me, not all kangaroos are cigar-friendly! Several years ago while I was visiting my grandmother in the Outback, a kangaroo approached me and said, “Sir, please put that stinking cigar out. My kids can’t stand the smell!” Indignantly, I replied, “Ma’am, if you don’t like the smell, go hop somewhere else!” That bitch kicked me so hard in the nuts that I couldn’t breathe!

I am truly sorry that I wasted your time with this awful story. I just have one more request—close your eyes and picture this dreadful scenario:

It is sometime in the future and you’re driving home from a hard day’s work, unwinding with a big fat joint, which is, of course, now legal in all 50 states. Suddenly you see the flashing lights of a police car in your rearview mirror. Your heart is pounding as you sit on the curb while the cop begins searching your car to see if you are carrying any concealed or unlicensed… cigars.

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Smoking Laws Gone Wild, Part 1

June 16, 2015 · By · No Comments

What would happen if all tobacco products became illegal in the United States? Well, if left up to a select group of asshole legislators in this country, this would be the final result.  Local, state, and national government organizations would be crippled! Many such organizations rely on taxes on tobacco products for their funding. I’m not an economist—in fact I am still learning how to properly use a calculator—but I’ll bet my humidor that banning and/or imposing ridiculous taxes on these products until the average consumer can no longer afford them would undoubtedly cripple the world economy. Not to mention that just about every neighborhood tobacco shop would eventually be forced to shut down.

Let’s just say that someday tobacco products are completely banned. The “War on Drugs" would take on a much deeper meaning when cigars and pipe tobacco are being sold illegally on the same sleazy backstreets as heroin, marijuana, and crack. From another perspective, think about how much pressure would be put on the average drug dealer if he doesn’t have the perfect cigar to complement a bag of black-tar heroin. He could lose the whole sale! The irony of all this is that more and more states are trying to make marijuana-growing legal while simultaneously trying to ban tobacco in every state.

I honestly believe that marijuana has been proven to help people with certain chronic, terminal, and mental illnesses, but I also believe that cigars have the same medicinal effect. Can you imagine how many middle-aged Jewish men avoid a stroke because they were able to puff on a fat stogy while their wives are out draining their credit cards at Bloomingdales!

Perhaps the most absurd aspect is that these dumb political tools are classifying cigars and pipe tobacco in the same category as cigarettes. Mr. Congressman, instead of going to happy hour every night with your political cronies, or banging your secretary at a cheap hotel, why not read a book about cigars? They are not the same as cigarettes! They don’t have a zillion toxic chemicals and you don’t inhale! George Burns didn’t live to be 100 years old smoking three packs of Lucky Strikes a day, you dumbasses!

On another related topic, and please understand that this is just my own opinion—secondhand smoke is total bullshit! Look at the pollution floating around in the air every day. Plus, if it was so damn dangerous, there would be nobody over 50 alive today. I spent the first 18 years of my life with a cigarette, cigar, or pipe within breathing proximity of my kisser and I can still schlep through a store without riding a Rascal Scooter. I acknowledge that it is common courtesy to keep your distance from nonsmokers if it bothers them, but my neighbor certainly will not drop dead on his front porch, because I was smoking an El Rey del Mundo in my own backyard. So, everybody shut the F- Up already...

Oh, I’m getting so mad now that I almost threw my laptop into the fish tank. I’m going to stop here, take a deep breath, and redirect you fine brothers and sisters of the leaf in an entirely different direction when I unveil “Smoking Laws Gone Wild- Part 2” this Thursday.

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No CommentsTags: cigar laws · cigar life · cigarettes

Cigars 102: The Criollo Wrapper

June 11, 2015 · By · 1 Comment

Every now and then, you will find a unique wrapper sitting on top of a premium cigar. It is the Criollo (pronounced cree-oy-yo) wrapper. Criollo means "native seed,” and may also be described as "Havana-seed.” In Cuba, the word means a Cuban leaf grown on Cuban soil. By historical accounts, it is considered one of the original Cuban tobaccos that emerged around the time of Columbus. Rumor has it that old Chris was so impressed with this seed, that he asked the native chef (Gary) to stuff it inside the very first turkey  served on Thanksgiving. Thankfully, he didn’t listen!

Criollo seeds have made their way to a number of other countries where they take on unique flavor profiles depending on the chemical composition of the soil where they are grown. Going on that assumption, a Criollo seed grown in Bayonne, New Jersey, may be deemed less than desirable by most smokers.

But I digress …

When a wrapper, or occasionally a filler tobacco, is Nicaraguan, Mexican, or Honduran Criollo, it usually has nothing to do with the original Cuban Criollo plant—it is just native to that country. The strain used today as wrapper leaf, are most often grown in Honduras and Nicaragua. There are two main regions in Nicaragua where Criollo is grown: Estelí, and Jalapa. The Jalapa Criollo plant has a very distinct sweetness and the Estelí’ strain has more of an earthy and nutty flavor profile. Once again, this flavor difference is due to chemical composition of the soil and the climate of each region. Nicaraguan Criollo is featured on the Te-Amo World Selection Series Cigars Nicaragua; Created by A. Turrent, a world-renowned cigar maker, this gem is handcrafted in the heart of San Andres, Mexico and offers bold, earthy notes of leather, spice, and charred wood. And the Joya de Nicaragua Antano is a potent blend of Nicaraguan black tobaccos and bold spicy flavors.

Honduran Criollo is smoother and creamier in flavor and is usually aged at least 7-10 years. The most popular strain is the Criollo ‘98, found on a handful of top-quality smokes, including an old-time robust fan favorite, Don Tomas Clasico Cigars, and the Camacho Criollo, the medium-bodied smoke widely regarded as being "as close to Cuba as you can get”. The band also looks like it belongs on a pair of boxing trunks, but that has absolutely nothing to do with this article!

San Andres Criollo has a very earthy and spicy flavor that also adds quite a bit of strength to the blend. One of the few brands utilizing this powerful wrapper is the TTT Trinidad Paradox Cigars—a full-bodied gem that offers great balance, with notes of molasses, light coffee, leather, and sweet cedar.

Although not the biggest player in the wrapper game, the Criollo is appearing more often these days, especially with boutique brand manufacturers looking to encompass the distinctive qualities this leaf has to offer to a blend.

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1 CommentTags: cigars · Mexico · cigar industry · Honduras · Nicaragua

The Forgotten Wrapper Leaf

June 09, 2015 · By · No Comments

For those of you very new to the hobby, cigars are comprised of three parts: a filler tobacco, a binder, and a wrapper. The most popular wrappers used today are Natural-light brown, EMS-Medium brown, Maduro-dark brown, and Oscuro-Almost black. As a rule, the darker the wrapper, the more influence it has on the overall flavor of the smoke. Bear in mind, this has very little to do with strength. Many new smokers see a jet-black stogy and assume it will knock their socks off! That’s not always the case. In fact, many darker leaf sticks are actually creamy and smooth. But that’s a topic for another time.

Today, let’s talk about the forgotten wrapper—the green one! Unless you remember watching Captain Kangaroo, and your first new luxury automobile cost you a whopping $1200, most likely you have never heard of them, let alone smoked one.

Characteristics

The candela leaf imparts an almost floral or citrus taste and aroma to the blend when lit. Candela leaf is regarded as the mildest wrapper, with a sweet, grassy flavor, that offers very little in the way of strength. Daniel Nunez, president of General Cigar, distinguishes between candela and natural wrappers by stating, "A candela bears more of a fresh green leaf flavor, as compared to a natural wrapper, which bears more soil-related, earthy flavors."

History- The rise and fall of Candela.

The process of making green cigars originated in Cuba during the 1940s. In 1948, there was a great demand by American smokers for light tobacco. Back in those days, only Cuban cigars were sold stateside, so you had just two choices: full-bodied, or fuller bodied. Many smokers were craving something mild. At the time, one of the largest selling brands was La Corona. To appeal to this market, the company began selling Candela wrapped smokes to the US. Very quickly, the amount of this tobacco couldn’t meet the huge demand, so instead of fully curing it, they froze the light tobacco to keep it green. Then, they’d fire cure it to get it the greenest shade possible. This created a tremendous demand, and other Cuban manufacturers followed suit. After the embargo, they tried this same process with domestic tobaccos from the Dominican Republic; they had a rather sour taste, while the old Cuban fire-cured tobacco had a sweet almost pineapple flavor, so the popularity of the non-Cuban double claro quickly faded. Compared to the staggering 90% of pre-embargo green wrapper smokers, today these wrappers only consist of 2 to 3 percent of total sales of all cigars.  They are smoked mainly by older guys (farts) who refuse to give them up.

The Double Claro Wrapper Today

Although nearly extinct, except for many machine made, there are several companies still producing these wrappers today on premium cigars. If you are looking for something as tasty as those great old Cuban brands, you may want to try our world famous JR Ultimate brand.

 JR Ultimate No. 5 · 6.12 × 44, and the JR Ultimate Toro · 6.12 × 50, both feature the long forgotten Double Claro wrapper. All though not for everybody, these smokes undoubtedly replicate that great pineapple sweet wrapper found on those pre-embargo Habano’s of yesteryear. Why not be adventurous, and experience smooth, highly aromatic, and delicious flavors that your dad, granddad, and the other 90% of Americans once enjoyed.

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The Smaller Ring Gauge Cigars

June 04, 2015 · By · No Comments

You don’t know what you are missing!

There seems to be an on- going trend among our modern (younger) cigar smokers that bigger is always better. Today a 50-ring gauge cigar is the norm and many manufacturers are producing behemoths that weigh in at 60 ring and well above.

Now, I am not saying that manufacturers are not producing smaller rings anymore, just look at our popular Warped line of cigars. This is a new top-quality boutique brand that focuses primarily on those great old classic sizes made famous in Havana, Cuba.  However, with other newer manufacturers (especially boutique brands) some of the classic sizes seem be lost in the rush to release the next best jawbreaker.

The cigar manufacturers are not purposely ignoring these smaller sticks, but let’s face it, they will follow the market trend just as any other smart business would. Example:  Do you remember when cell phones could fit in your pocket? Today these (phablets) as they are called, are so big that you can’t make a call using just one hand. Whether it be phones, TV’s, or our ever-expanding waistlines, in the United States at least, it seems like the mantra is “bigger is always better”. Obviously, this also applies to our taste in cigars.

Fear not though, most of the classic marque brands such as Arturo FuenteDavidoffH. UpmannMontecristo, and Romeo y Julieta, just to name a few, have every size, shape and wrapper color on the planet.

So why choose a smaller ring gauge cigar? The primary purpose for choosing small cigars like Lonsdales and Coronas is a matter of smoking time. If you have less than an hour to enjoy your favorite smoke, a (5 x 44) stogy will easily let you enjoy the whole thing without having to worry about retiring it to the ashtray while it’s still producing peak flavors. You big stogy smokers know what happens next. You refuse to surrender said stick, and are late for your 2:00 pm meeting with the President of the company.  This results in immediate termination. Had you been smoking … let’s say … an Ashton Cordial, you would arrive on time for the meeting, give a kick ass presentation and be promoted to Branch Manager of the company office in Honolulu, Hawaii! There you would meet a 24 year-old, very hot, Hula dancer that gets turned on by the smell of cigars! This of course would be the worst (or best) case scenario.

The biggest joy you can receive while negotiating a smaller ring gauge is flavor. Because there is not as much filler, the flavors of the cigars are much more dominant and decidedly, richer. Those monster stogies tend to lose a little zest with the heaps of filler tobacco that they have crammed under their wrappers.

Through experimentation, smokers may find that a particular cigar that they do not thoroughly enjoy will translate better in a smaller size due to combustion rate. Take me (please) for example, not being a huge fan of very mild cigars, I find the classic Macanudo Prince Phillip too light and airy for my tastes. However, having smoked the whole line I find the Macanudo Rothschild  an exquisite smoke. The Lonsdale size of this beauty brings out all of the creamy, rich, and nutty flavors that I have come to love in a good smoke. Bear in mind that taste is subjective, and many others will prefer this brand and other milder brands in their larger stature.

My own tastes vary from large to small, so while I do lick my chops waiting to fire up one of my(new) all-time favorites, the El Rey del Mundo Reserva Nicaragua Ronco, a scrumptious, full-bodied 6 x 60 ring beast, I have also learned the joys of smoking narrower-ringed cigars. A smaller smoke can deliver a taste explosion that is so often lost in the thickness and length of larger cigars. In addition, they deliver their peak flavors much quicker, without the longer wait that many of the larger vitolas require.

Are you still shrugging your head at the thought of sticking a Lancero, or Petit Corona in your kisser? Well, here is a homework assignment. Pick your favorite premium brand (or one that’s close) and try it in a 40-46 ring gauge, then let us know what you think. If you really feel adventurous, choose a brand that is not a favorite and do the same.  I’ll bet some of you will be pleasantly surprised!

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No CommentsTags: Ashton · cigar life · El Rey del Mundo · Macanudo

Cigars Cello On or Off? The Million-Dollar Question!

June 02, 2015 · By · No Comments

Without a doubt, the number #1 question asked by cigar smokers is ... "Should I leave the cellophane on my cigars, or take it off?" The answer is …. It really depends on the situation. Cello has one primary purpose: to protect the cigar from damage. Leaving the cellophane on is advisable if you are storing many different types of cigars in the same humidor. For example, if you have cigars with different wrapper types mixed in a smaller humidor, I would recommend leaving them in cellophane. In this case, the wrappers will prevent the cigars from picking up the aromas and flavors of cigars that are very different in character. The last thing you want is to have your Davidoff Grand Cru Series cigar tasting like an ACID Red Nasty !

The cellophane wrappers on cigars are permeable, allowing oxygen to pass from the inside of your humidor to your cigars. Air and humidity will pass through the wrapper membrane, albeit slowly, since the cello is preventing direct contact with the cedar lining. In any case, your individual cigars will continue to age, but the process will take longer than cigars kept in the nude.

When you store large quantities of identical cigars, you can take the cello off and allow the cigars to "marry”. Marrying occurs when a group of identical cigars mix and blend over time picking up each other’s essential oils, flavors and aromas.  Please keep reading, because I am going to show you a little long-term storage trick at the end of this article.

My personal preference is that, if a cigar comes with cello, I leave it on. Even for long-term aging. My own personal humidors, although top-quality, still do not compare to the professional systems used at the factories where they come from. A home box no matter how well maintained will have slight fluctuations in temperature and humidity. An extra layer of protection assures me that this slight bounce will have virtually no effect on the cigars.

Cellophane can have other important uses too. Cigars kept in their cello wrappers will hold up much better when taking them with me on the road, because the cellophane will slow the loss of humidity during transportation, and will not be affected by sudden change of temperature, or damage from handling.

Another thing to consider, how long do you plan to store your cigars? If you have an eclectic grouping of various cigars that you are going to smoke on a regular basis, just leave them as is. If you are putting one singular brand to sleep for several months up to a few years, than you can take the cellophane off, or leave it on. What kind of answer is that, you say? …. Please keep reading!

Here is my little storage tip, that I learned from a great old cigar maker that demanded to remain anonymous. What I can tell you is that he personally rolled his private blend for such legendary notables as Fidel Castro, Grouch Marx, Sir Winston Churchill, and my dentist, Dr. Fred Kirshenbaum!

Here goes … If you are going to age your cigars for an extended period, simply snip the part of the cellophane that folds over the foot (bottom) of your cigar before storing them. This opens up the cellophane allowing much more air to circulate while still protecting your stick. They will age perfectly, and you have that much-needed protection.

So now, having read this highly informative blog, when someone asks you … "Should I leave the cellophane on my cigars, or take it off?" The answer is …. Most often than not, I’d recommend leaving the cello on, now let me tell you why…

Trust me, this answer, backed by the facts, will garner the respect and admiration of all the millions of people that will ask you the same question.

Please feel free to chime in with your thoughts and opinions on this very debatable topic.

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