One of the biggest myths about cigars is that you need a fancy wooden box to keep your cigars properly humidified. While it's nice to have a humidor—whether it's a small desktop unit or a huge walk-in closet—it's simply not necessary.
Some of our favorite DE blends will soon be available as quick smokes in nicely portable tin packs. Starting in late summer, blends like Joya Red and Black, Undercrown and more will be ready for those grab-and-go occasions. While we don't like to think of the end of summer in July, these will be perfect in fall and winter for a quick, 10 or 15 minute cigar break on the cooler days that are hopefully still many months away. Here's the full release from DE:
For years, Quai D'Orsay was considered a "beginner's" cigar...kinda like a Cuban Macanudo. Supposedly very light in flavor, bland and uninteresting. Nothing could have been further from the truth. We especially loved the Imperiales (Churchill) that we reviewed here but unfortunately by then it was discontinued. In fact, all sizes were discontinued except the corona.
Not that you'd know it by checking the Habanos website. Despite the fact that a reblended, repackaged and revamped Quai D'Orsay was announced early this year, the website still shows the old brand in its circa-2013 or so glory. Check out the screen grab below:
Keep your eyes peeled: if you see a deal that's too good to be true on certain Drew Estate cigar brands, it could be because they're stolen---but you might be able to help catch the thieves.
For years, we've been led to believe that well-aged cigars develop "plume" or "bloom" with age, as the oils in the wrapper leaf seep out and crystallize on the surface.
Turns out that's not true.
Scientific testing seems to confirm what we've always suspected, but been hesitant to admit: there's no such thing as plume, only mold--which can be dangerous, but certainly not always--or just common bacterial plant growth. And now there's science to prove it.
The good folks over at Friends of Habanos put out a reward for anyone who can provide a cigar with plume that turns out to be anything but mold or bacteria. People responded. They sent the cigars to Australia Biotech Laboratories for testing. And they all came up with mold or bacteria.
Then there was a second round of testing. Same thing.
Don't believe it? See for yourself here. (While you're there, why not join the forum? It's a good one.)
So, okay, there's no Tooth Fairy. No big deal. The moral of the story is, mold is everywhere, so is bacteria, and normally our immune systems are equipped to deal with it. Wipe it off and get on with your life (unless it's green or on the foot of the cigar, which means it's inside the cigar, which may mean you're taking a risk of getting sick. Or at the very least, smoking a smelly, moldy, dank, far from optimum cigar.)
Hey, at least now we know the truth!
Jonathan Drew's kinda sorta offshoot of the Drew Estate cigar company sent out a press release announcing their leadership team and kinda sorta hinting at things to come.
While it appears booze is still their main business for the time being, the press release notes that "John Drew Brands is an authentic lifestyle company, initially focused on the alcohol beverage category." The key word there is initially. Which, to us, suggests they'll be expanding into other areas, though what those might be are unclear.
Drew Estate has been highly successful at the "lifestyle" hustle, ingraining their brand into the daily lives of their most ardent fans by offering experience-oriented events and apparel. So it stands to reason that John Drew Brands could evolve into other beverages, foods or even clothing, jewelry...you name it. (We delved into Patagonia's expansion into the food business and reviewed their buffalo jerky here.)
Still. any big moves seem pretty far off since the team announced in the press release appear singularly focused on alcohol.
We know what you're thinking...Macanudos??? But wait! These aren't your garden variety Macs. According to the company, the Vintage Cabinet Selection are released solely when there's a really, really special wrapper crop. That has only happened a handful of times, starting around the late 1980s or early 1990s with the Vintage 1979. And the prices have always been pretty steep...but more on that later.
"BEST CROP EVER"
Macanudo blender Daniel Nunez said of 1997 that it's the best crop ever used. Now, about the only thing we've ever blended is a smoothie, but one look and you know it's true. These wrapper leaves are chestnut hued and beautiful, with the kind of fine vein structure you generally only see on fine Cuban leaf.
SERIOUSLY WELL AGED
It gets better. Though the wrapper was harvested back in 1997, the cigars could have been rolled as far back the late 2000s. (Information is scarce, but we believe these went into production somewhere around 2003 and were discontinued around 2007-2008.) When you open the box, you get slammed with enticing, pent-up cedar aromas and the sense that these have been slumbering for at least a few years, but probably much longer.
SMOKES LIKE A DREAM
In larger formats, Mac Vintage cigars can be a little underwhelming. After all, the filler blend is basically still standard issue Mac. Not in this case. The smaller ring gauge allows the wrapper, and the zesty Mexican binder, to really shine. The draw is just about perfect and so is construction. These are woody and creamy, but with lovely notes of baking spice and nuts. The smoke is lush and surprisingly mouth filling, lingering on the palate. Definitely on the medium side of mild. Smoke these slowly and savor the experience of aging on top of aging.
NOW...ABOUT THAT PRICE
From what we can tell, the original MSRP on these peaked in the $11-$12 range, which was certainly pretty pricey for the time, and still is today. To give you some perspective, an Ashton VSG corona gorda was $8.25.
Cigars International doesn't list an MSRP, but they're selling these for $339.80 per box. Famous has them on sale for under $200 through March. JR Cigars has them too, for a much more reasonable $89 for bundles of 10. These are a non-starter at CI's price, and a maybe at CI's and Famous's.
However—right now, CigarPage.com is selling boxes for $99.99. At $5 a stick, for very fine and well aged cigars, it's on! We don't know how long that will last, so don't sleep on it if you're interested.
SO WHY ARE THESE STILL FOR SALE SO LONG
AFTER BEING DISCONTINUED?
Listen, there's a reason this stock is still hanging around. These are expensive cigars in an unpopular format with an undesrved reputation for being mild and boring. But at $5, they're suddenly a great buy for a genuinely excellent little 35-minute smoke. If that's what you're after, or you've never smoked an aged cigar and are wondering what it's like, now's your chance.
By the way...CigarPage and other retailers mistakenly lists these as 5x42. They're actually 5.56x43.
DEAL ALERT RECAP
THE PRODUCT: MACANUDO VINTAGE CABINET SELECTION 1997 No. III
THE DEAL: ABOUT 70% OFF MSRP -- ONLY $99.99/box of 20
THE DRAW: SERIOUSLY WELL AGED SMOKES FOR A SONG
THE LINK: CIGARPAGE.COM
Not too long ago, the "proper" way to light a cigar was veeerrrry gently, meaning to lighty toast the foot with a soft flame lighter or match. Torch lighters were okay, but only in circumstances where the preferred options won't work, like out on a windy golf course. In fact, former Cigar Aficonado editor Gordon Mott seemed to say so in this older video on how to light a cigar.
Fast forward to now, and you'd be hard pressed to find an average person using anything but a torch—and often, one with two, three or even four flames. Heck, it seems a torch is even the preferred butane delivery system for our aforementioned friends at Cigar Aficionado, who can be seen above using a single flame unit in one of the videos announcing this year's Top 25 cigars. (Those Norteños are nice smokes, by the way!)
The knock against torches is supposedly that they're just too hot, and they char the cigar instead of gently igniting it, somewhat ruining the flavor. But is that even true? Thing is, tobacco is either on fire or it isn't. While it may look more gentlemanly to go through the old ritual of using a soft flame, is the result meaningfully different?
It seems the Cigar Aficionado folks don't think so. While they're still careful to avoid plunging the foot of the cigar into the flame, they do seem to have hurried up the lighting process for these videos. And since a torch lighter produces a flame about twice as hot as a traditonal lighter, holding it at the same distance would produce a flame that's still twice as hot. So that would be bad, right?
One thing's for sure: torches run through fuel more quickly than soft flame lighters. In fact, our preferred triple-flame torch of choice eats butane roughly six times faster. So we guess if you're an environmentalist—a really, really hardcore one anyway—then a soft flame is the only responsible way to go.
Or, in the end, is it like the difference between shaking or stirring a martini? The end result is a cocktail that's mixed and cold so do you really care how it got that way?
What the heck, let's do a poll. Vote for your preferred method, and if you'd like, expand on why by leaving a comment. We'll follow up with the results.
One day after Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican party nominee for President, the FDA announced it was exercising its option to regulate premium, handmade cigars...despite the clear and obvious fact it defies the original legislative intent of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Despite the fact that 289 different members of the House of Representatives and 26 members of the Senate have co-sponsored legislation that would exempt premium cigars from FDA regulation. And despite the overwhelming outcry during the public comment period by consumers and industry members alike.
What does that have to do with Donald Trump? The same thing it has to do with Democratic candidate for President Bernie Sanders. And the Tea Party. And Occupy Wall Street. This Presidential election cycle has demonstrated a clear public distaste for politics as usual. And the FDA's overreach is a perfect example of politics as usual.
"We are the government. We know better than you what us good for you. Now blindly follow us."
The FDA is clearly administered and staffed by fervently anti-tobacco zealots. Who better to regulate the industry than an agency that would love to put it out of business completely and forever? Yet the FDA has assumed this responsibility of its own volition. Again, despite the fact that it is contrary to legislative intent, and opposed by over 300 elected officials who attempted to make it clear, in no uncertain terms, premium cigars should be exempt.
The system, as Donald and Bernie would say, really is rigged.
There is no practical or affordable way to defend against big government overreach like this. Event the CRA is going to have a hard time going up against the FDA. But right now, they are our only hope and we should support them. Not only because our hobby is at risk, but because so is our freedom. And because what's happening here is simply wrong and un-American.
Starting soon, if Padron or Pete Johnson or whoever wants to put out a new product, it must be thoroughly (ridiculously) vetted as though it were a heart medication or opioid pain relief narcotic. The cost for this process? Astronomical. So high and so lengthy and grueling that no small manufacturer could possibly afford it. And this process must be repeated for every new product. Oh yeah, and it's retroactive too.
So what does that mean?
Well, it could mean that smaller manufacturer simply goes out of business, or sells their trademarks to giants like General Cigar and Altadis who presumably have the resources to actually satisfy the FDA regulations--at least, for their most profitable products only. Creativity will be stifled. We'll be back to the pre-boom days when your choices were limited to Macanudo. Partagas and Don Diego.
And the costs of all of this regulation and verification will most certainly be passed onto the consumer. So the cigar brands that are left standing, if any, will go from being a daily pleasure for the most financially fortunate of cigar smokers to an occasional treat, at best. Could an Arturo Fuente become a $20 or $30 product as a result? Could a Davidoff Nicaragua become a $50 or $60 cigar? Quite possibly, especially if it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to undergo FDA scrutiny. Actually, forget the "if." The FDA has already confirmed that it will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars...per application.
Does this sound like sensible regulation, or an attempt by a small group of overly powerful zealots to completely eradicate the country of cigars?
Free samples? Bye bye. They're banned under the FDA.
Cuban cigars? Yes, it seems lately that improving relations with Cuba mean that we could someday see them legalized here. But probably not if the FDA has its way. Cuba will simply elect not to sell their products here at all rather than pay millions of dollars they don't have to certify their products in one lone country.
Then there's the black market this will surely create. Some cigar manufacturers will simply close their US operations, maintain their foreign factories, and refocus their efforts on selling products to the dozens of other countries where cigars are unregulated or minimally regulated. Americans will mail order their Fuentes and Davidoffs and Padrons from Canada or Mexico or Switzerland and have them shipped here under wraps. Just like some Americans do with Cuban cigars. Most will go undetected, unless Customs gets billions in funding to police the illegal importation of cigars.
Customs, by the way, has nothing better to do. Forget global terrorism. Let's concentrate our resources on robustos instead.
The FDA says this is all to help save young people from themselves, because they are 'using' (not 'enjoying') cigars and other products at an "alarming rate." Alarming, huh? How many 15 year olds do you know who are saving their $10 a week allowance for months so they can sneak into the boy's room at school and smoke a Davidoff Double R? Come to think of it, have you EVER seen a cigar store you frequent sell to an underage person? Of course not. Because it doesn't happen. The FDA has manufactured an absurdly complex and almost unworkable solution to a problem that does not exist.
We already live in a nanny state. This only makes it worse. Now is the time to stand up and do whatever you can to put a stop to this, so it doesn't happen to other industries. Livelihoods are at stake. Free markets are at stake. Freedom is at stake. Common sense is at stake. This action by the FDA wraps all that is wrong with America into one greasy ball of stupidity.
Let's make the FDA feel the burn. (Not the Bern.)
Tea Party? It's Cigar Party time. Forget Democrat or Republican. It's time for cigar lovers to unite and be heard. The establishment is too powerful. When government ignores all reasonable avenues to common sense and overrules not only the will of the people, but also the voices of their elected officials, it's time for a change.
Basically, if this stands, the FDA can regulate any product they don't like out of existence by making it too costly and complicated to comply. Bacon, Campbell's soups, you name it.
But let's not move to Canada just yet. The FDA can still be overruled. It's going to be a long and expensive fight but they can be put in their place. Fingers crossed, because America isn't looking like America today.
Las Vegas is basically a cigar smoker's paradise. Yet somehow Davidoff—arguably the original luxury cigar brand—lacked a knockout presence there despite several upscale retail outposts scattered throughout the city.
Well, not anymore. The Davidoff of Geneva Cigar Bar makes a pretty dramatic statement, perched in a can't miss spot on the Vegas Strip at the tony Fashion Show Mall. It's a showstopper in a town that's not exactly lacking in glamour.
While not quite as large as the new Montecristo Cigar Bar, size isn't everything. The Davidoff bar has a fantastic and obviously carefully curated selection of spirits, including an impressive pairings menu of pre-selected cigar and beverage combos starting at a very reasonable (for Las Vegas) $22.
Speaking of reasonable, a pour of Glenlivet 12 is around $12, which is not bad at all. Check it out:
The interior is obviously beautiful, with the typically understated European flair we've come to expect from the brand. However, the 50-seat outdoor patio is the fair weather spot for us. It's a perfect place to drink in all the atmosphere the Strip has to offer. It doesn't get much better, especially on sunny 72-degree afternoon in April.
Davidoff of Geneva Cigar Bar is the latest in a series of partnerships between the Arcella family and Davidoff USA. Clearly, these are good times for both parties as Davidoff pushes beyond its rather conservative past with a series of exciting new products, and the Arcellas continue to innovate in terms of presenting those products in new and exciting ways.
Our perfect paring for a heady afternoon of shopping and dining? A Davidoff Nicaragua and one of the bar's signature cocktails, Zino's Coffee, combining Stoli Vanilla, Kaluha, Espresso and Dark Creme de Cacao. It's a combo that matches up well with the city's energy level—and offers a lot of enjoyment and atmosphere for around $30.
Davidoff of Geneva Cigar Bar
3200 Las Vegas Blvd. #1245
Las Vegas, NV 89109
For information, call (702) 473-5001
or visit DavidoffCigarBarLV.com