23 March 2009

After a long day...

So yesterday the Columbus Circle store was closed for the day to perform our annual Physical Inventory. (We were closed for an entire weekend at the Madison Avenue store earlier in the month for the same thing). It was a long long day of counting and recounting, organizing, stressing... but finally when it was all over everything came out ok.



As is tradition for us... after a big day, we all stick around to enjoy a celebratory cigar and beverage. Last night was no exception! I had a bottle of Chivas Regal 12 year old that I had received as a gift upon my original appointment to GM of the CC store back in May of 2006. We ran down to Whole Foods market for some Bubbly Waters and Crostini to munch on. I left the cigar selection to Kevin Threat, our Assistant Manager. "I got a taste for a Small Batch", Kevin said. Now, the Litto Gomez Small Batch is a monstrous cigar. This was the first "Small Batch", using only tobaccos from 2002. Currently on our shelves is the end of the "Small Batch No. 2's", and apparently the "Small Batch No. 3's" are in the works and on their way.



Anyway, we all fired up our well aged "Small Batch No. 1" and began chatting. From store issues to new products, to future events... it was a great meeting. But we kept becoming distracted by the cigars. They were incredible! What were once ferociously strong and aggressive, had become a bit more tame. It was balanced, and accessible though still wonderfully full bodied. David Alicea (one of our CC store salesmen) noted some definite chocolate notes. I thought it had a solid core of real "tobacco" flavors; spice, leather, earth... some dark woods, dark ripe fruit... it was a real treat to smoke this great cigar. We all came close to burning our fingertips and lips!!
But, what it reminded me is just how interesting it can be to age cigars. Of course cigars are manufactured to be enjoyed "immediately", meaning as an industry it's not as popular to age your cigars as a general practice the way it is in the Wine Industry for example. But, a well aged cigar can be such a pleasure to smoke. Aging allows the blend of the cigar to really marry, creating more synergy in the flavors and more complexity in the finish. Everything generally becomes "rounder". Mild cigars don't necessarily benefit from aging, but strong cigars certainly do, and the LG Small Batch- though it was certainly very good "new", was a shining example of how great aged cigars can be.
The bad news- they're gone.
The good news- the 3's are on their way!!!

MH

17 March 2009

Avo Uvezian's 83rd Birthday Party at Davidoff of Geneva, Madison Avenue

On Monday, March 16, 2009, over sixty cigar enthusiasts joined us at the Madison Avenue store to celebrate Avo Uvezian's 83rd Birthday. In his signature white Brioni Suit and straw hat, Avo was his gracious enthusiastic self, signing boxes of his brand new Avo Companeros and posing for pictures.
An incredible dinner was prepared and served by our dear friends and neighbors at Rothmann's Steakhouse and paired with wines selected by Andrew Bell, President of the American Sommelier Association.


This was the very first time the Avo Uvezian 2009 Limited Edition Companeros had been smoked by the general public. More details on the cigar are below!


Here are a few pics from the night:


The Tables are set...


Avo spending time with guests...


Eddy Simon (Avo Brand Manager), Avo Uvezian, Michael Herklots (General Manager, Davidoff New York City)


Joseph Bollo, Avo Uvezian, Ruth Bollo


Avo Uvezian and Paul Chapman



Ibrahim Amer (Davidoff @ Madison) and Elena Baenninger (Davidoff @ Madison)


Avo dining with guests




... And Dinner is served!








David Savona and Greg Mottola of Cigar Aficionado and guests


Nick Rufino (Rothmann's) and Andrew Bell (American Sommelier Association)


Kevin Threat (Assistant Manager, Davidoff @ Columbus Circle)


Michael Herklots, Geri Corrigan (Public Relations, Davidoff), and Kevin Threat


Robert Seise (Assistant Manager, Davidoff @ Madison Ave)


... And it's time for the speeches...


(charcoal and graphite on wood by Adrian Roman)

Adrian presented his portrait to Avo as a gift.





Avo addressed the audience, thanked them for all their support, and invited everyone back for all the future Birthday Party Celebrations. (He's planning through 99!!!)



Eric Flores (Sales, Davidoff @ Madison Ave)

Everyone left with gift bags filled with a box of the new 2009 Avo Companero and a gorgeous porcelain ashtray.


Avo Companeros
Size: 6" X 54
Packaging: Box of 10 cigars
Price: $160USD per box (plus applicable taxes)
Country of Origin: Domincian Republic
Every year since 2001, the AVO brand has released a limited edition cigar to commemorate Avo's birthday. The 2009 Companeros are made by Davidoff of Geneva in the Dominican Republic (as are all AVO cigars). The past two editions prior to this (Avo 2008 Tesoro and the 2007 LE-07) were much milder in comparison to this one. It's full bodied and rich offering flavors of spice and leather. There's a slight sweetness that to me sort of comes and goes throughout the cigar. But really, I think it's a fabulous smoke that can certainly be enjoyed now and will definitely change with addition aging.



10 March 2009

La Flor Dominicana Salomon

I received these babies in several months ago... right around the holidays to be exact but I'm sorry to say I never smoked one. I've looked at them everyday, but just couldn't dedicate the time and attention I thought one of these La Flor Dominicana Salomon's deserved.

Well, today was the day. I walked into the Madison Avenue store, and straight into the humidor to grab one. It was dark, oily, and hefty!

I took off my coat, sat down at my desk and clipped the cap. It was packed with tobacco but drew with ease. The pre-light flavor indicated some seriously strong tobaccos. I was questioning my judgement for a moment. Perhaps this was not the best choice for my 9:00am cigar. But, I went for it any way. The first couple puffs were a bit tight, no surprise for this particular shape. The filler tobacco was expanding with the heat. But, a few more puffs opened the cigar up into its full format, and plumes of smoke were spilling out of my mouth.

The cigar began with some very bright flavors... but as it smoked down turned meaty and leathery... almost chewy in fact. About one third of the way down and two espressos, I realized that perhaps a little substance in my stomach was a good idea, so I ran out to the street vendor and grabbed a little something. Upon returning to my cigar, it was still lit and the aroma in my office when I returned was favorable but dense.

All in, it took about 2 hours to smoke (including quick breakfast break). It really was a fabulous cigar. Impressive. I'm looking forward to smoking it again soon... though perhaps later in the day after a meal.

07 March 2009

The Perfect Holiday Smoke

5 January 2009


The Perfect Holiday Smoke…


You know, it seems every year I’m faced with the same problem. I go through my humidors looking for the perfect cigars to accompany me on my Christmas excursion. Carefully taking into consideration size and time commitment, as well as my cigar-smoking cousins who’ve never turned down a smoke from me since I’ve been in the business.

The first part of the trek was to the northeast corner of Connecticut, “The Quiet Corner” as it’s referred to. It’s where I grew up… and is about a three hour drive from New York City. Usually I love enjoying a cigar on the drive, but this time just wasn’t in the mood. It was bad weather, bad traffic, and I knew I’d just end up chomping on it to release my frustrations rather than actually enjoying it.

We (my girlfriend Tiffany, and I) spent the next 3 days in Connecticut with my family. I don’t think I ever appreciated the wrap around porch of our Victorian home until I began enjoying cigars. It’s perfect. However, the cold weather didn’t permit me to enjoy a cigar this time… My cousins and I did burn a quick La Flor Dominicana Carajo with them outside of my Grandfather’s condo which was a nice little break from the family celebrations.

Next was the trek North and West to the great city of Buffalo- Tiffany’s hometown. The next three days were to be spent up there. The weather was rainy, and traffic was again difficult… we had exhausted our ipod’s, and were still faced with about 400 miles of driving ahead of us. Finally Tiffany looked over and asked, “Wanna smoke a cigar?” “Eh.” I replied… “Well, I want to”. She said. I looked over and asked, “Really!?!” She said, “Yeah, I’m in the mood… what else are we gonna do?” With that, I went rummaging through my ‘man purse’ next to me and found a Davidoff Grand Cru No. 1 that I had packed. Since we were parked on I-90, I put down my window a touch and fired it up. I passed it to Tiffany for her to enjoy. She asked a few questions about it, and passed it back to me… it was just wonderful.

We eventually made it to Buffalo… and I didn’t end up having the opportunity to enjoy a cigar again until I made it back to New York and was in my store New Year’s eve… but the cigar I shared with Tiffany on that ride was just so perfect. It wasn’t a big fancy “trophy” cigar… and we weren’t sitting at the Grand Havana Room, with a nice glass of Cognac… There we were, bundled in my car wearing sweats, listening to NPR and enjoying a cigar together… and enjoying EACHOTHER! Sometimes those “perfect moments” just seem to happen… so for me… this was my Perfect Holiday Cigar!!

What was yours?

Recession Smoking

20 May 2008


I’ve been inundated with questions regarding the cigar business in today’s economy. Of course, cigars are one of those things that are considered an “extra” in many of our lifestyles; they’re not on the list of essentials like food, water and shelter (although for me, they’re somewhere between food and water).

I’ve heard people are “cutting back”, “tightening their belts” and waiting for things to “settle down”. I saw a customer last week that I haven’t seen in quite some time. When I asked where he’d been, he replied, “Ugh, I haven’t gotten out of office before 9pm for weeks.” Now, I am a believer in working hard, putting in the extra hours, and even burning the candle at both ends. But, I’m NOT a believer in not rewarding yourself for your hard work.

It’s times like these that make your “cigar time” even more important! A cigar demands time. It demands attention and relaxation. I’m not suggesting that you blow off a conference call and fire up a 2-hour double corona in the middle of the afternoon. I’m suggesting that just as you schedule lunch meetings and conference calls, schedule yourself 30 or 40 minutes for yourself to unwind, regroup, and enjoy a cigar. It’s theraputic, it’s meditational, it’s…. (gasp!) Good for you!?!?!

Here are some interesting little tidbits I found while “Google-ing” the word ‘stress’:

Up to 75 percent of all time lost in the workplace is stress-related

A 20-year study by the University of London found that unmanaged reactions to stress were a more dangerous risk factor for cancer and heart disease than either smoking or consuming high cholesterol foods.

Up to 90% of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related complaints.

75-90% of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related complaints or disorders

Nearly half of all American workers suffer from symptoms of burnout, a disabling reaction to stress on the job.

Job stress is estimated to cost U.S. Industry $300 billion annually, as assessed by absenteeism, diminished productivity, employee turnover, direct medical, legal and insurance fees, etc

So, just try to make a little time for you. Try it earlier in the day, or during lunch. Enjoy a cigar on your drive home- your time with a cigar is your time. And in these days of elevated stress, be sure to still make time to enjoy life, and celebrate life with a great cigar.

A Discussion with Jose Seijas

28 March 2008

So often when you think of cigar-men, you think of stocky guys in guyaberas standing in a field smelling tobacco leaves, their shirt pockets stuffed with freshly rolled puros for them to smoke all day. But there is a man who is quite different. Tall in stature and always impeccably dressed, Jose Seijas is a soft spoken gentlemen whose passion for making some of the most popular premium cigars on the market is incredibly evident, yet his demeanor is as subtle as the cocoa notes on the cigar that bears his name. I recently had a chance to chat with Jose Seijas upon my return from the first annual ProCigar Festival about some of the newest offerings coming out of his factory- ALTADIS’ Dominican Facility, Tabacalera de Garcia in La Romana.

MH: JOSE, THE PRO CIGAR FESTIVAL WAS SUCH A GREAT SUCCESS. WHAT DO YOU THINK NOW THAT THE FIRST ONE IS OVER WITH?
JS: I certainly appreciate your comments about the Festival. I think we owe a lot to Henke Kelner and Catherine Llibre and her team for all their dedication to make this event memorable. We all contributed to it, but it is fair to say that these two people took the Lion’s share of the work, and really ensured its success. Next year will be even better!
TELL ME A BIT ABOUT THE JOSE SEIJAS SIGNATURE SERIES CIGARS.
The Seijas Signature came out of an effort to evolve our blends towards fuller flavor cigars. We tried different types of tobaccos until we settled on a blend composed of Dominican, Nicaraguan and Peruvian fillers, a Dominican Olor binder and an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper.
IT STARTED JUST WITH ONE SIZE IF I RECALL, AND NOW THERE’RE SEVERAL FACINGS, RIGHT?
That’s correct. The Seijas Signature started with the Toro, 50 X 6 1/8 “ in 2003. The second year we added a Perfecto (48 x 6 ½” ) and a Robusto (52 x 5”). Right now the Seijas Signature Line has, in addition to the original three sizes, a Churchill (50 x 7”); a Belicoso (52 x 6 1/8”); and two more Figurados: the Short (46 x 4 ¼”) and the Figurado, (52 x 6 1/8”)
I THINK I’VE SMOKED ALMOST ALL OF THEM, AND IT’S INTERESTING TO ME HOW UNIQUE EACH CIGAR IS TO ANOTHER, EVEN THOUGH THEY’RE TECHNICALLY THE SAME BLEND.
Of course. The shape and size of the cigar changes the relationship of all of the tobaccos, and the tobacco composition can give you an idea of the blend’s complexity. We differentiate this blend more by choosing specific components from the raw material stock: for example, the Peruvian is from the third cut, the Dominican tobaccos are a combination of Piloto from La Canela plus a specially fermented Piloto from the top part of the plant. The Nicaraguan is Viso or Ligero. The Binder is actually Olor, but its characteristic aroma reminds the smoker of dark chocolate and other countryside aromas.
AND THIS TYPE OF FLAVOR AND EXPERIENCE IS WHAT YOU GENERALLY PREFER?
The Seijas Signature reflects my style of blending: full flavor with smoothness; the absence of vegetal flavors and high acidity; and the presence of sweet tones that are confirmed by an abundant salivation.
BESIDES THE GREAT FLAVOR, AESTHETICALLY THE CIGARS ARE GORGEOUS AS WELL.
Indeed, even while your smoking it. The Olor binder burns beautifully and the Seijas Signature ash is very white, contrasting with the natural dark color of the wrapper.
SO IT IS FOR SURE A WINNER IN YOUR BOOK?
So far, The Seijas have received very flattering reports and all my team is extremely satisfied with the results. The consistency of the Seijas Signature is remarkable, both from the stand point of performance and of course flavors and aromas. It is one of those cigars that gets better and better as you smoke it.
TELL ME ABOUT THE CONCEPT BEHIND THE NEW LIMITADA LINE OF CIGARS BY ALTADIS. WHAT MAKES THEM SPECIAL?
The Limitadas are another step in the direction of providing our customers with complex blends, this time playing with different proportions of Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers, wrapped in a sun grown Connecticut binder and topped with a beautiful Criollo ‘98 seed wrapper.
The Tobacco leaves are all selected from the best of our well aged inventory kept in our warehouses. The cigar makers devoted to these brands are among the best of Tabacalera de Garcia, and each cigar is inspected for draw and appearance in keeping with our factory’s quality control standards.
SO YOU’RE USING TOBACCOS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD TO MAKE THESE CIGARS, NOT JUST DOMINICAN?
Yes. In essence, the Limitadas represent the freedom of moving across borders to obtain the best tobaccos of each territory and blending them to provide a truly wonderful smoking experience to our customers.
WILL THESE BE A REGULARLY MANUFACTURED LINE OR ARE THEY A LIMITED EDITION?
The quantity is limited to 10,000 on each brand: Montecristo, Romeo and Julieta, H upmann and Trinidad.
AND IS IT ONE SHAPE PER BRAND?
The format for each brand are: Belicoso 52 x 61/8, a Churchill 54 x 7 for the Romeo y Julieta, a Toro 54 x 6 for Trinidad and a Robusto 52 x 5 for the H .Upmann
I CERTAINLY APPRECIATE YOUR TIME, JOSE, AS ALWAYS. HOPEFULLY WE CAN SMOKE ONE OF THESE TOGETHER SOON.
Either here in Dominican Republic or there in New York… I hope so too. Saludos.

06 March 2009

ProCigar Festival 2008

19 February 2008


I just returned from a quick trip to the Dominican Republic. Within hours of my feet touching Dominican soil, I felt like I never left. I get to the Dominican Republic about four times a year, and every time is unique and special. This year I brought my girlfriend and two friends along with me- making it extra special.

Thursday, we spent the day at MATASA. Best known for making the Fonseca brand, MATASA makes some of my favorite cigars to smoke. From the airport, we went straight to one of MATASA’s storage facilities. Bails upon bails and Tercios upon Tercios were stacked- filled with tobaccos from years past that ensure MATASA’s ability to make incredible, consistent cigars, year after year. We proceeded to the factory in Santiago,where we walked through the factory looking at the various stages of making a premium cigar. From sorting, to stripping, to sorting some more… then making the bunch, applying the wrapper, forming the cap, and then aging. But of course it doesn’t stop there… MATASA has their own box factory as well.

On Friday we drove out to La Canela to see one of MATASA’s fields. I’ve been there many times before, but each year is always different as each crop is unique year after year. This year was incredibly healthy, with harvest well under way. “We only lost 30 or 40 plants” said Manuel Quesada, owner of MATASA, referring to the two major storms that pounded the Dominican Republic in late Fall. We walked in and out of curing barns where thousands of leaves had been strung and hung to begin the curing process- changing in color from bright green to brown. From here, they’ll head to the storage facility we visited the day prior to begin their long fermentation process before going to the storage facility for aging.

We then headed north, through the mountains and up to La Isabella, the place where Columbus first landed. A friend of mine has a wonderful beach house that he generously made available to us for the weekend where we enjoyed all the sun, Presidente beer, Brugal Extra Viejo Rum, and cigars we could before heading back to Santiago on Sunday for our Monday departure back to New York.

What’s always so impressive to me, and seems to be most impressive to folks on their first visit to a cigar factory is just how much is done by hand. In fact, EVERYTHING is done by hand. Seeds are planted by hand. Leaves are picked by hand and carried to the curing barn where they’re strung by hand and then hung by hand to cure. When that’s complete their then removed and stacked by hand on the ground of the barn until their bailed by hand and brought to a fermentation facility where they’re stacked by hand in pilons. No less than twice a day the core temperature of each fermenting stack is measured and each stack is rotated regularly by hand, bringing the inside tobacco to the outside, and the tops and bottoms to the middle, to ensure even fermentation. After months of fermentation, the tobacco is bailed by hand and brought to an aging facility. Once it’s time to use the tobacco, the bails are opened by hand, the leaves are sorted and re-moisturized, sorted, stripped and eventually rolled in a premium cigar. The cigars are inspected by hand, sorted by color- a band is then placed on each one by hand with the brand’s logo, and many are placed into cellophane sleeves- by hand. Then the cigars are sorted for color and boxed, each box sealed and labeled with all the necessary stickers for the importing country. It’s astonishing. It gives new meaning to the words “Hand Made”. Next time you reach for a cigar, before just cutting and lighting it- pay a little more attention to it, and appreciate just how much truly goes into making that Premium Hand-Rolled cigar!

New Year's Smoke 2008

2 January 2008

The celebration of a New Year is always filled for me with reflections over the past year and thoughts of the upcoming year. 2007 was a wonderful year for me. I traveled quite a bit- from the Tobacco Harvest in the Dominican Republic in February to the Grape Harvest in Napa Valley in September. Great cigars, wine, food and friendship were what helped make 2007 so special. And what better way to finish up a year than by embracing all of those great things together.

At 17 people strong, we held court at Rothmann’s Steakhouse in Midtown Manhattan for the ringing in of the new year. The food was outstanding as always! I brought along a few bottles of Vieux-OS 2005 Old Vine Charbono by Shrader Cellers (one of my favorite producers) to help wash down the Crab Cakes, Lobster Ravioli, and Porterhouse. Once the countdown was over and there were more streamers than vino in my wine glass, it was time to change venues. A remaining 6 of us, with a couple bottles of bubbly in tow- retreated nearby to a private little oasis where we would be permitted to smoke. Both ladies and gentlemen alike fired up Davidoff Classic No. 2’s and drank some wonderful Cava throughout the first 3 hours of 2008. We shared stories- some new and many old- laughed, and enjoyed the rare occasion of enjoying great cigars without interruption or complaint.

Now it’s back to reality. Alarm clocks, deadlines, month end, year end- but even with all the potential stresses and pressures, there is less of a sense of urgency as there was a few days ago… after all, we have a whole year left… what’s the rush? I’ll get it done… as soon as I’m done with my glass of Charbono and No. 2.

Happy New Year!

New Year's Smoke 2008

2 January 2008

The celebration of a New Year is always filled for me with reflections over the past year and thoughts of the upcoming year. 2007 was a wonderful year for me. I traveled quite a bit- from the Tobacco Harvest in the Dominican Republic in February to the Grape Harvest in Napa Valley in September. Great cigars, wine, food and friendship were what helped make 2007 so special. And what better way to finish up a year than by embracing all of those great things together.

At 17 people strong, we held court at Rothmann’s Steakhouse in Midtown Manhattan for the ringing in of the new year. The food was outstanding as always! I brought along a few bottles of Vieux-OS 2005 Old Vine Charbono by Shrader Cellers (one of my favorite producers) to help wash down the Crab Cakes, Lobster Ravioli, and Porterhouse. Once the countdown was over and there were more streamers than vino in my wine glass, it was time to change venues. A remaining 6 of us, with a couple bottles of bubbly in tow- retreated nearby to a private little oasis where we would be permitted to smoke. Both ladies and gentlemen alike fired up Davidoff Classic No. 2’s and drank some wonderful Cava throughout the first 3 hours of 2008. We shared stories- some new and many old- laughed, and enjoyed the rare occasion of enjoying great cigars without interruption or complaint.

Now it’s back to reality. Alarm clocks, deadlines, month end, year end- but even with all the potential stresses and pressures, there is less of a sense of urgency as there was a few days ago… after all, we have a whole year left… what’s the rush? I’ll get it done… as soon as I’m done with my glass of Charbono and No. 2.

Happy New Year!

Dunhill Estupendos

3 December 2007

There’re tricks in every trade- but one thing cannot be faked, and that’s age. Whether it’s a good bottle of wine, a classic car or a great cigar, they all demand proper care, patience and a true love for them. Today I smoked a Dunhill Estupendos (7X47 tubos) from the mid 1980’s. Made entirely of Cuban tobacco, it has been among the most sought after cigars for collectors at auctions.

I never had the opportunity to taste what a Dunhill Estupendos tasted like when it was new, but having smoked this one with over 20 years of age… why turn back the hands of time? This cigar began slightly vegetal in character, with an herbal and tea-like quality. It slowly built in all aspects- strength, flavor, and aroma.

By the mid-point of this cigar a toasty, caramel-like flavor began to work its way into the profile. Hints of cedar and honey also became more apparent as I smoked more and more, but impressively the cigar never became hot or harsh.

The finish was long, and lingered after the cigar was extinguished but not in an unpleasant manner at all. It was a wonderful example of how age can benefit a cigar. Aging cigars helps to marry a blend, and really allow the tobacco to mellow. Though mild cigars generally do not age as well, especially long term, fuller bodied cigars age wonderfully as there is more potential for change and development over time.

Of course opportunities to smoke cigars with this much age come few and far between, but aging cigars yourself can become as a much a part of your cigar experience as actually smoking them. Active humidification systems ensure that the humidity remains stable and consistent. But you don’t have to sacrifice the aesthetic of a room to risk it looking more like a cigar store than an office or den. Companies like Filias Design (www.filiasdesign) can help create an appropriate humidor to work with your space and will perfectly store and age your most precious cigars.

Purchase cigars in boxes, and age them appropriately in your humidor. Mark on the box the date you received them, and keep a log of your experience with the cigar each time you smoke one to keep track of how the cigar is changing and whether that change is favorable or not. Then stock up, put them away, and enjoy the pleasures of smoking a fine aged cigar.




http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/39/Estupendos.jpg

Mystery Smokes

26 November 2007


Jose Blanco, marketing director for La Aurora, popped in to see me recently. I love this guy, I really do. He’s balls to the wall cigars. We smoked some La Aurora Excepcionales and drank espresso as we caught up on what was new. La Aurora recently moved their facility from Santiago to a much larger one in Guazumal, Dominican Republic. Just before he left, he reached into his pocket and pulled out two cigars and said, “smoke these when you have a minute.”

Well, it just so happened that I had a minute (and nothing to smoke), so I cut the beautiful little corona shaped cigar and dry smoked it for a bit. The draw was effortless. The earthy undertones and the wrapper’s spiciness were apparent without the use of flame. It lit easily and the flavorful smoke filled my mouth with each puff. A small blister began to form around the base of the ash. This is typically an indication of youth- and although common to see among many of today’s popular strong cigars, it’s rare to see it in something from La Aurora leading me to believe that this was a new project of some sort. The smoke felt almost velvety in my mouth and rich and complex flavors were beginning to develop. Though some seemed familiar, this was for sure a cigar I’d never smoked before.

I emailed Jose Blanco immediately to find out A) just what the hell was that, and B) how can I get more. In typical fashion he said A) oh just a little project, and B) you can’t. Pressing him for more information, he would only share that the filler and binder was in fact a cigar I had had the pleasure of smoking on several occaisions- the “Don Fernando” a Cameroon-wrapped corona only made for Don Fernando Leon, the patriarch of the Leon Family. The wrapper he was keeping secret.

Despite the mystery, it reminded me that just when you think all the bases are covered and you ask yourself over and over, how can we create new flavors in cigars- here was just one of an infinite number of examples of just that. There are a lot of cigars that I enjoy smoking on a regular basis, but there’s nothing like smoking something new and different. It’s like smoking your first cigar all over again… new, exciting, and inspirational to try more new and exciting things. Gracias, Jose!

The "Special Occasion"

2 November 2007

I woke up this morning earlier than normal and opted to drive into work rather than taking the subway. I dimpled my tie and walked over to the humidors to make my morning selection, but found myself at a loss. Not at a loss of cigars… but which cigar to smoke. As I moved cigars and boxes left and right, I saw a a box of Juan Lopez petit coronas from 2001- gifted to me from a good friend in Switzerland a couple years ago. It’s a trophy little stick with loads of flavor. I was conflicted whether to sacrifice one to my morning commute when it me. I’ve got lots of cigars… many of which I hold on to for “a special occasion”. But, I’ve had countless special occasions since I’ve received these cigars and never once had I gone for one since I’d received them. So I decided to make my commute that special occasion. I cut the cigar and lit it in my apartment, just to enjoy the aroma for a moment. Then I was off. As I neared the foot of the bridge, I found myself less agitated at the parade of brake lights ahead. As I blew the smoke up into my sunroof, I paused to allow a cab in from the right (instead of him just cutting me off). As I was approaching my greenlight at 3rd Avenue, I slowed to the crossing pedestrians (I DID have the right of way, by the way) and stopped short about 10 feet enjoy the rich spiciness that had overwhelmed the flavor of this cigar. I double parked outside the garage for another twenty minutes, listened to the news, watched my fellow New Yorkers rush about, as I sat reclined at the wheel enjoying the last inch of this most wonderful cigar. It’s important to appreciate life’s precious moments, but its equally and perhaps even more important to simply appreciate how precious life is and enjoy every moment…