Aging Room Cigars… Solera

So today we take a look at a new cigar for me. I have seen Aging Room Cigars around different places but never really made it onto my radar. I’m not exactly sure why.

“We are not producing cigars for everyone.  We are introducing new blends for educated consumers that are looking for cigars with complexity and character.”

Rafael Nodal (Taken from the Aging Room Website)

The Solera method of aging has been used for centuries in the making of wine, sherry, rum and brandy.  Now, for the first time, we are using the Solera system by combining different vintages of tobacco at different stages of the aging process to obtain a fuller flavor and more complex cigar. (Credit AgingRoom.com)

Aging Room has taken the position on a full boutique blend company and when you learn more about them, they have some highly rated cigars in their portfolio. The Aging Room M356 was in the Top 25 Cigars in 2011 and the F55 Concerto was the Number 2 cigar in 2013 by Cigar Aficionado.

I picked up this cigar on the recommendation of my trusted friend Sean at Famous Smoke Shop. For $7.50 I figured why not. So let’s jump right in and see what we come up with.

Blend Profile:

Wrapper: Dominican Sun Grown

Filler: Dominican Habano

Binder: Dominican Habano

Size: Fantastico 5.6 x 54

Appearance: Medium brown with small veins and tight seams. This is a very full cigar with some weight to it. It is very firm with no soft spots. I am hoping it is not too full and leads to a split or crack in the wrapper. The 2 bright yellow bands really stand out. One covers most of the cigar with the word SOLERA running horizontal down the cigar. The second band has Aging Room on it. Open foot with a pigtail cap.

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Pre-Light: After removing the large band, I pick up notes of pepper, wood, and a unique sweetness that I cannot really pinpoint. The foot offers more of the same with a earthy, sweet, pepper and cedar. It is an interesting combination that is really intriguing. I hope I pick up some of these notes once I light it.

Cold Draw: I picked up notes of dry hay or straw, pepper and earth after using my V-cut to open the pigtail cap.

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First Third: I used a dual flame torch to kick things off because the wind is ridiculous today. Temps are great for early April in Pa and the sun is shining bright but the wind is crazy! Once I get things toasted nicely I pull in a nice open draw with a little bit of resistance and I get a citrus like bitterness mixed with strong cedar wood and a mix of what I can only describe as dried fruit and cocoa. This is a complex smoke. I am getting a lot of smoke off of this cigar. Every now and then I get brief hints of black pepper added to the mix. The ash is super flaky and is blowing all over everything. As I move more into the first inch or so, this is a good medium strength, complex cigar. A very nice smooth blend that keeps you coming back to it.

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Second Third: Making the transition into the half way mark I get more of a woodsy blend, cedar and maybe oak mixed with a sweet almost mocha like note. Unfortunately the wrapper did split on me but other than not looking great, it smoked just fine and burned with no issues. The flaky ash issue continued and with the wind it is swirling all around me. I wouldn’t want this happening in a social setting for sure but for me at home on my back deck, it’s not a big deal.

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Final Third: Moving in to the last third, I get more of a woodsy, charred, nutty blend. It is a different smoke that what I first started with but it has been an enjoyable, complex blend throughout. I am not a big fan of huge flavor changes or transitions but this one works. It has remained a medium strength stick throughout. The draw has remained open and produces a lot of smoke. The burn has been a bit off but with the winds we are having today, it is to be expected. No touch ups were really needed other than to straighten out what the wind is messing with even with a split wrapper.

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Final Thoughts: I really didn’t know what to expect from this cigar or Aging Room. It started out very sweet, borderline infused but not quite, then moved into a woodsy cedar and finished with a charred nutty blend. There is a subtle sweetness and some pepper that appear here and there. Overall this was a complex, enjoyable smoke. I had some wrapper issues and the flaky ash was a bit annoying but overall, I really liked this cigar. At the price point around $7.50, I would certainly smoke it again. I think it would be a great cigar for beginners to advanced smokers. It is mild enough but complex enough to hold your interest. This is a great morning cigar to pair with a cup of coffee or easy after dinner smoke.

Pairing: I paired this with water as always when I try a cigar for the first time. I am boring I know, but I do things the same way for a reason. It gives me the truest representation of the cigar as a stand alone without any foreign flavors added into the mix. I would pair this with coffee, red wine, and probably a easy sipping bourbon like Angels Envy Port or Rum blend.

I picked this one up at Famous Smoke Shop (https://www.famous-smoke.com)like I said. As always, my man Sean didn’t steer me wrong. The crew there take great care of me and know what I like. Tyler, Sean, Allie and Nicole are truly great at what they do. They are also great people so that always makes the experience fun.

I hoped you enjoyed the review. Feel free to drop some comments, thoughts, or your own review here. I love to hear what other people thought of it. Until next time, Long ashes and Full glasses friends. Peace!

“The purpose of this review is to provide a true, honest opinion based on my own experience. I am under no obligation to provide favorable feedback for this product and receive no compensation for doing so. This cigar was purchased by me, for my own enjoyment.”

Felix Assouline Cigars…II Saints Review

 

Who is Felix Assouline you ask?

Felix Assouline (Taken from their website)

Felix first started out in the cigar business in 1997 on the retail side. His first store in Dania Beach, Florida sold all the premium brands and launched him into 3 additional stores in South Florida over a 6 year span. During that time he also ran a successful wholesale cigar business. Felix’s passion for a great smoking cigar drove him to try every cigar he possible could and as he did, he developed an intricate knowledge of cigar construction and how different leaves affected the flavor of the cigar.

With that insight, Felix opened his own factory in Danli, Honduras in 2004 and began making his own cigars. Felix introduced 2 successful brands, one of which being the original EGO, which received a 90 rating in Smoke Magazine in the September 2006 issue.

In 2007, Felix decided to sell everything and focus all his attention on his greatest love, his family. After enjoying incredible family moments for 6 years, he decided it was time to get back into the cigar business. This time, Felix wanted to focus all his efforts on fulfilling a dream of creating his own blends to achieve one goal: create the best premium cigars on the market…

The story is much more involved and I hope to do a spotlight on Felix and FAC in the upcoming weeks but for now I want to spend some time on reviewing a few of their world class cigars.

I was told about FAC through a BOTL on social media and he spoke very highly of all of their cigars. As life got busy I sort of forgot about them until I saw a post online for the II Saints cigar. Felix replied to one of my comments and directed me to the online store which happened to be down that day. We struck up a conversation and I placed an order via DM and we have chatted a couple of times since. Felix is a great man and very down to earth. I received my order yesterday and could not wait to try them all. First thing I noticed was the construction of the cigars. These are some of the most well constructed cigars I have seen. Right away you can see the quality of the cigar and the artwork of not only the bands but the sticks themselves.

I decided to try the cigar that sparked my interest in the first place, the II Saints. This cigar is available in 5 sizes but I chose one in particular and for a very specific reason. The La Petite Mort 5 x 52. Why you ask? If any of you follow me online you know that I am a music head. I love all types of music (well mostly) and if you are fans of Metal you may have heard of a band from Flint called King 810. Their sophomore album is titled La Petite Mort or A Conversation With God. For that reason alone I had to go with it. I exchanged a couple of messages with Felix and he asked me if I knew what La Petite Mort meant in French and I said yes and told him. He said “Yes, but the French use it in a much different way”. I found that it means “the brief loss or weakening of consciousness” and in modern usage refers specifically to “the sensation of orgasm as likened to death”. The expression comes from French, in which it literally means “the little death”. When you smoke this cigar in this votive you will clearly appreciate this history lesson. LOL.

Made in Nicaragua the II Saints features a beautiful dark brown Jamastran Criollo 98 wrapper with a Jamastran binder and Jamastran / Jalapa filler. Never heard of Jamastran? I hadn’t either so here is a little info on that.

“II Saints is produced in our factory in Esteli, Nicaragua with Tobaccos grown from our farm in Jamastran, Honduras.
The valley in Jamastran is known for its flavorful tobaccos which feature a sweetness and strength inherent in each puff. II Saints Cigars are all box pressed like most of our brands. II Saints feature a Lijero dark wrapper marking the cigar as a unique find in the cigar world.”

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So before I get too far into this let me preface this by saying that I had every intent of giving a detailed review on this cigar, however…Apparently my palate needs some serious work and expansion because this cigar was unlike ANYTHING I have ever tasted before. Holy     $!#@. As you can see from the photos, the cigar is a beautiful dark brown with an awesome band (shown above credit halfwheel) and it smells of barnyard hay, earth and a faint sweetness. I used a Xikar guillotine cut and matches to get it started, finished with a Xikar dual flame to finish. The first draw hit the me with a ton of flavor. There were certainly notes that I have had in other Nicaraguan cigars but the Jamastran adds and different level to this cigar. I can’t pinpoint what it is or really how to explain it so you just have to try it for yourself. There is a spice that hits the tongue and lingers for awhile but is balanced by a sweetness that makes it creamy and smooth. It is certainly full bodied and full flavor for sure. I was surprised at how complex and different this cigar truly was. As I made my way through the first third, the flavor remained the same throughout. Tons of flavor, sharp burn line, draw was good with a bit of resistance, and a good amount of white smoke.

As I moved into the second third, it turned just a bit to more of a woodsy/spicy blend. I didn’t pick up as much sweetness but the flavor was still complex and kept me interested. Ash held for more than 1 inch before I initially dropped it. I was in my garage with the heat on due to the cold weather and the cigar seemed to need that extra air to keep it going. The burn line stayed completely even throughout the cigar which demonstrates the quality of the construction of this cigar.

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Moving to the final third of this beauty and it stayed true to the first 2 thirds. A bit of the sweetness returned and the flavor never truly changed but it was complex enough to remain enjoyable for the entire smoke.

Warning: I found myself not wanting to put it down for long trying to figure out what I was tasting and I will say this, as a medium to full bodied smoker, this cigar does pack a punch and will test you if you are not use to full bodied smokes. Take your time with it. You have been warned. I did not get sick but this stick is very capable of it if you rush it or are not use to a smoke this strong.

Final thoughts. I really enjoyed this cigar. It was full bodied and has a lot of flavor from start to finish. I smoked this cigar down to less than 1 inch and the flavor profile remained true to the end. The blend is complex and tasty and people with a more experienced palate may be able to pinpoint all of the flavors, I could not. I will say that the Jamastran / Jalapa filler adds a level of flavor that sets this cigar apart from anything I have tried and I was not the least bit upset by that. I would recommend this cigar to anyone. Felix Assouline has a reputation of making World Class Cigars and I have heard this from many people I respect in the community. Again, proceed with caution on this one as far as strength goes but it is a Box worthy smoke for me for sure.

Hope you enjoyed the review and as always, I welcome comments, other reviews, questions etc. Now the challenge is, which one to try next? Felix sent me a special gift and asked me to review it so maybe we go with that one next. As always with cigars, so many great choices, so little time to smoke them all! I can think of worse problems. Have a great one folks. Peace!

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Road trip…Nashville and Louisville

So Monday we returned home from a 1700 + mile road trip from Pa, to Nashville, Louisville and back with a stop at the legendary Leaf and Bean in Pittsburg. It was a quick trip but it was packed with things to do. After working all day Thursday we finally hit the road around 6 pm and drove all night and arrived in Nashville around 7 am. Just in time for breakfast and then a stop off at Crowned Heads headquarters to meet Jon Huber. Because of scheduling we couldn’t hang out for long but it was nice to finally meet the man behind some of my favorite cigars. I was able to score a new hoodie and a couple of great samplers! Next was a stop off at Smokers Abby to pick up some Crowned Heads Tennessee Waltz (FINALLY!!!!), the new Oscar Habano, and a couple of Viaje Honey and Hand Grenades. This is a great local shop with mainly boutique brands, a nice humidor and lounge. I highly recommend stopping in if you are in the area. After that it was full blown tourist mode. The Johnny Cash museum, all the bars and stores on Broadway, The Ryman Auditorium (incredible amount of history in that place and we also got to attend The Grand Ole Opry in the Ryman which was awesome), local bus tour of the area, Music Row and more. We found another local lounge called Primings Cigar Bar and Lounge. Another nice humidor, the best Old Fashion I have ever had, great bar, super friendly and attentive staff and a really nice house blend cigar. If you have never been to Nashville and you like country music or history I recommend taking a trip. I am not a new country music fan, personally I think this new bro country garbage has ruined the genre. I think much of the “talent” shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breathe as the true legends of the music. Moving on…

The Tennessee Waltz is a cigar that was made by Crowned Heads and sells exclusively in the companies home state (some online retailers do have them). If it reminds you of another cigar, it’s for good reason. Made in the My Father’s Cigar factory this cigar is 5 1/2 X 52 with a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper and Nicaraguan fillers.

Right off the bat this cigar smells of barnyard (hay) with notes of cocoa and pepper. It is a very rustic looking stick with a dark brown color with lots of veins and the orange ribbon on the foot. As I light it, first with a match and then touched up with a dual torch, I am met with black pepper and a woodsy cedar (maybe) with some leather and nuts. As I moved towards the second third, the spice leveled off because of the sweet cocoa that appeared.

Into the second third and it moves into a cocoa and nuttiness.There is still some spice but its a nice combination. It isn’t super complex but the blend is very nice. The draw, ash, and smoke production are still great.

As I move into the final third, the spice makes a comeback but the woodsy, leather, earthy notes even it out nicely to finish out this cigar. It remains a solid medium bodied smoke for me. I have read reviews that stated it became tart or bitter into the last third. I did not experience that with this one.

Overall the Tennessee Waltz was a solid medium bodied, flavorful cigar with great construction, even burn, perfect draw, not super complex but consistent throughout the entire smoke. I enjoyed this cigar a lot and would recommend it to anyone. For me, it is a box worthy cigar and I will certainly smoke it again. Total time was right at 1 hour 40 minutes.

After Nashville we took the 2 hour drive to Louisville and stopped in at Four Roses Bourbon distillery for a tour and tasting and then over to Woodford Reserve for another tasting (we got there too late to tour). The next morning I realized that our hotel was literally a couple blocks from Angel’s Envy bourbon so we had to stop in. They recently re-opened their distillery and we didn’t have reservations for the tour but still scored a nice bottle and shirt. Overall I would say it was a busy, but very nice getaway. It helps that I came home with new cigars and 3 bottles of really nice bourbon.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my review. Please drop your comments and reviews here. Take a few minutes and click on the links below.

Up next, the Oscar goes to….. Check back and find out.

Peace!

Please visit: http://www.crownedheads.com/cigars/

http://smokersabbey.squarespace.com/

http://www.primingscigar.com/

 

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Black Label Trading Company and Black Works Studio Cigars

Where do I start with this one? My love for boutique cigars started with the Crowned Heads brand and I started doing some research. I came across the BLTC website and clicked on it. Something about the imagery, the feel, the vibe, the grunge intrigued me about this brand. As I read more about their cigars the more I knew I had to try them. So I made some calls and checked all the stores listed online and only 1 small place told me they had them. Time to load the wife into the car and bribe her with a night out for dinner and some casino fun, with a small pit stop along the way. We arrived at the Wooden Match (awesome old train station converted into a humidor and restaurant) and I bought what they had in stock. I threw caution to the wind and hoped that I actually liked the cigars but if not, well I guess some friends were getting some cigars gifted to them. Lucky for me these cigars were everything I hoped they would be and then some. With names like Salvation, Redemption, Benediction, Last Rites, and Lawless…how could I go wrong? The hardest part was figuring out which one to smoke first. Lawless it was and with that, my love for Black Label was born. These cigars were unlike anything I had tried before and that was a good thing! I started looking online for reviews and seeing what other people thought about them and to my surprise, there wasn’t a lot of info available. How could that be I thought? Such a great product from a great brand (in my eyes anyway) and then it made sense. Boutique brand that is pushing the envelope, not doing very commercial packaging and kinda had that “Outlaw” feel to what is accepted. This made me like them even more.

As I tried the rest of the cigars I had gotten, I did some research on the people behind the brand, James and Angela Brown and Stephanie Harris. I won’t give much away in this post because I am hoping to feature them as this blog grows and I want to do a feature piece on them, but I was amazed at where they came from, how they got started and the passion and courage they had breaking into the industry. When we talk about brands and cigars, seldom do we stop to think about the people behind them and their stories. This is something I am hoping to change because to me, the people are the true story and the cigars are their way of telling the world about themselves. Artistry and expression in the form of a cigar. It wasn’t very long ago that one of my favorite cigar shops held a Black Label, Black Works event and I was able to meet James and enjoy a couple of cigars with him and talk about all of this. You could not ask to meet a nicer, more down to earth guy.

So…Black Works Studio. Yeah about that. Founded by James, Angela and crew and out of their Fabrica Oveja Negra factory in Esteli, Nicaragua, come some of the best boutique cigars to hit the market. As if BLTC weren’t enough already, the BLK WKS come out swinging and they don’t miss! For those that know James or follow on social media, you have seen the references to the Wu-Tang Clan and you will also notice the reference with the Killer Bee cigars, and so forth. I can appreciate that as I was and still am a big fan of when hip hop was great and totally unlike most of the non-sense that is currently being sold as “good music”. This year I have picked up the Green Hornets, Killer Bees, Bishops Blend (contender for Cigar of the Year in my opinion), Rorschach, and I am picking up my Santa Muerte cigars tomorrow and I cannot wait to try them. I have not reviewed these cigars as of yet but I can say this with all honesty…Try them all! Bishops Blend is a standout for me. Even before the hype and the ratings from Halfwheel (Great rating and well deserved 94) and others, this cigar was way at the top of my list of must have cigars. Everything that is produced in this factory is outstanding. Nomad is produced there also and if you haven’t tried the Martial Law, well, you need to have that in your life. By the third draw of the first third I was looking for a box of these.

My goal is to be able to take a trip down to Esteli within the next year and visit the factory and hang out with James and the crew for a few days. That would be an amazing experience and for those that agree, you can reach out to James and Angela and she will forward you the itinerary and the pricing. I would love to get a group of us together and make the trip so if you are interested, hit me up.

Although I want to do a more in-depth post about these 2 amazing brands, I wanted to do something now and showcase some of the great products they have on the market. I know that Cigars on State, Cigar Federation and some others have them in stock. I also know that they both ship and have great deals available. I hope that you will take the time to enjoy some of their cigars and that you would drop some comments or reviews here and let others know what you think.

I can tell you that without a doubt both of these brands are a staple in my humidor and anything they put out is a great choice for a “go to” cigar. Now that it’s getting colder out and being outside isn’t always ideal, the Rorschach is the perfect choice for an outstanding smoke when you don’t have much time. For a cigar of this quality to come in under $5 it’s a no-brainer for me.

As always, please share and leave your thoughts, comments and questions here. Until next time, long ashes. Peace.

Killer Bees, Bishops Blend and Last Rites.

Trying new brands and some tips for beginners.

So the past 2 weeks have been super busy and crazy for me but I have had the opportunity to try some new brands and that is always a good thing. I placed an order with the fine folks at http://cigarfederation.com for some amazing boutique cigars recently and I will review them at a later date, but I have to say that all of them (so far) have not disappointed. I have heard great things about them and it’s good to know that it wasn’t just hype.

First up was the 1502 Emerald Box Pressed Torpedo 6.5 x 52, then the Ezra Zion Tantrum PA 6.5 x 44, followed by the Illusione f9 6.25 x 44, and lastly the Surrogates Crystal Baller Corona Gorda 6.5 x 46.

Yesterday I stopped by http://cigarsonstate.com/wp/ to pick up some cigars I ordered back at the Black Label Trading Company event with James Brown. Killer Bees, Green Hornets and 1502 Blue Sapphire and Black Gold. I have a nice collection of some really great smokes and of course the weather is now freezing and talk of snow flurries in the am so my ability to get out and try them will be limited.

I try to stick to a ritual as much as possible when I am trying new cigars or reviewing one. Being in a group of people, mixing their smoke with yours, can skew your flavor and experience with the stick so I try to do it when I am on my deck and can really take my time and enjoy the experience. I am far from a master reviewer but I am trying to expand on that and develop my palate some. For me cigars fall into a limited number of categories. 1) Box worthy (Exactly what it means. It’s good enough for me to buy an entire box) 2) Definitely will smoke again (Worthy of a 5 or 10 pack and something I want in my collection) 3) Eh…(It was ok but I wouldn’t spend money on it again) Almost every cigar I have tried recently fall into the first 2 categories with very few falling into the last. That is the difference between boutiques and large, big brand cigars. I can honestly say that I had more cigars that were just “Okay” and fell into that 3rd category based on my taste and liking. I am one of the few people on the planet that really didn’t fall head over heels with the OPUS X. Many people swear by them and they have a cult like following but I got one for my birthday this year and I didn’t really enjoy it. Call me crazy but it is what it is.

So for those of you that are new to cigars, I recommend starting a journal or cigar log. Write down the brand and the cigar name and write down what you think about it. You don’t have to know every exact thing you are tasting or even how to describe it, just if you like it or not and why you do or don’t. Simple characteristics of things you notice in the cigar can help. Take that list with you next time you go to your local shop or research similar cigars online prior to going and try to buy cigars with those traits. I went crazy and tried so many cigars from one end of the spectrum to the other and I really did myself a disservice (and spent a ton of unnecessary cash) on cigars I really didn’t like. When you are trying a cigar for the first time, I recommend staying with something mild and then moving into the mild – medium range. Take your time smoking it and don’t puff too often or you will get sick. Keep some water and or Coke/Soda, Sweet Tea etc nearby to help regulate your blood sugar if you start to feel lightheaded or nauseous. Jumping right in to a full bodied cigar can really be a turn off and ruin the experience for you.

Didn’t mean to drift off to Cigars 101 but I know a few readers are new to cigars so I thought that might be helpful. Now that I have been smoking for awhile, I can tolerate almost any strength cigar but being a smaller guy, I can’t smoke cigar after cigar like I see many guys doing. It also screws up my taste buds and sinuses. One thing I have noticed also is now that I started smoking a pipe, I find the tobacco very mild compared to what I am use to with cigars. Maybe it is the blends I am smoking but they seem very light in comparison.

When I first started out with cigars, you could not find 2 of the same brand cigars in my humidor because I wanted to try everything. I would see something online or a catalog and I wanted to try it. I didn’t know enough to research what it was, strength, etc. Now that I am more informed, I find myself sticking to a few trusted big name brands and a lot of boutique brands. I did some humidor maintenance today and I noticed that I have certainly limited my selection as of late. I have a lot of great cigars but it took awhile to get here. Hopefully this will help some of you save some cash and frustration from trying a lot of cigars you really don’t like. Invest in what you enjoy and build from there. There are SO MANY cigars out there to choose from and even now it is overwhelming for me so keep a log, ask questions, research and don’t be afraid to spend a few extra bucks on a good boutique cigar. I can tell you that you will be less likely to be disappointed with that purchase than dropping 4 or 5 bucks on a big brand stick. No one said this hobby was cheap, but if you truly love it, the time and money invested in that stick will be very much worth it.

As always, feel free to drop some comments. Tell us what brands you are smoking and what you like about them. Until next time, long ashes and stay smokey friends. Peace

So what are some Boutique Brands? What is your Favorite Boutique and why?

 

So tonight I want to open it up to anyone that reads and/or follows the blog. What is your favorite boutique and what makes it special? Loaded question isn’t it? With so many fantastic boutique cigars on the market today how can you possibly choose A favorite cigar? I can honestly say that I could not narrow it down to one certain cigar. Every time I try a new brand or new cigar by brands I already know, its like they just keep getting better. Then I go back to cigars I haven’t had in awhile and its like trying it again for the first time and it is better than I remembered it. How many of you can say that about the last big box brand you had? Granted I have had some good big name cigars that were impressive to a point, but to go through the entire line up and say without a doubt that each one was as consistent as the first or better, I would have a hard time. I can think of probably 2 major brands that I can honestly say, I have never had a cigar from them that I didn’t like.

So some of the boutique brands that I want to feature here tonight are brands that I have either personally tried, or they have come Highly recommended by friends and people I interact with on a regular basis. Some I will be ordering very soon since I have found a website that carries a very good boutique selection and are super awesome to deal with. That would be the great folks at www.cigarfederation.com (Free plug because they rock). I encourage you to visit their site and throw all of your money at them because they don’t sell anything but the best. Their Color Project stuff I hear is off the charts good. I am hoping to get some of them soon! They also carry every one of the brands I am going to mention. (I have no affiliation with them, not sponsored or employed by them, just showing love to those that deserve it)

Ok, brands. These are also companies that I hope will allow us to feature them on a weekly spotlight we are looking to start very soon. I have 2 companies lined up now, just working out the details.

1502 Cigars. Have not tried them yet, highly recommended to me by several people I know and trust.

Balmoral Cigars. Personal top 5 cigars for me. 18 year aged given to me by my wife on our anniversary and after the first third I called my friends at www.cigarsonstate.com (Clark Summit Pa free plug cause they rock too) where she found them and ordered a box without hesitation. You won’t regret dropping the cash on this stick.

BLK WKS Black Works Studio. Created by James and Angela Brown of Black Label Trading Company. They are dropping so many fantastic sticks, I am considering a second mortgage on my house. Killer Bees, Green Hornets, NBK, Bishops Blend, Boondock Saints, Sindustry, Rorschach, phew what did I miss? Everyone I have tried has been head bangers. The vibe and feel of the brand, James is one of the coolest, down to earth people you will meet and they are making INCREDIBLE cigars.

Black Label Trading Company – The one that started it all for me and my love for boutique cigars. Lawless, Redemption, Deliverance, Benediction, Morphine, Last Rites and more. Fantastic brand. Love their vibe, love the feel to the brand, and love their cigars even more. Lifetime fan for sure. Some of my favorite go to cigars on a regular basis.

Caldwell Cigars – Caldwell has released some great cigars that I have enjoyed a lot. Blind Mans Bluff, Eastern Standard, The King is Dead, are all really good cigars. He just did a collaboration with Jon Drew called All Out Kings. I have not tried it yet but I hear good things about it.

Crowned Heads – Jon Huber and crew make some of the best cigars on the planet in my opinion. Based in Nashville, the music vibe and theme for their cigars, along with the blends they are doing are just incredible. My first cigar from them was the Mason Dixon and I have been hooked every since. Headley Grange, Jericho Hill, JD Howard, Four Kicks, La Imperiosa, Las Mareas, are some of the many great cigars they make.

Crux – Hearing a lot about this brand as of late. I have only had one of their cigars and I really enjoyed it. I am hoping to try more of what they have out. #GoCruxYourself

Ezra Zion – I have not tried these however, I found them in stock online and they are mine! Do not try to order them I am calling dibs now and I licked everyone of them! Back off! I have been searching for them at a few local spots and they are always gone. I am guessing there is a reason for that. They come highly recommended.

Illusione – What a mysterious brand. Visit their website and see for yourself. Very intriguing company. I have heard some great things about their cigars. Looking forward to trying them very soon.

Nat Sherman – New York New York. I just killed that Sinatra impression…turn your speakers up and you will hear for yourself! I have had a few of these and they are terrific cigars. I actually have 2 or 3 in the humidor that I have been eyeing for the last few days. Maybe this weekend my friends. Start spreading the news… Yep, I did that.

Nomad – Fred Rewey is not your typical cigar maker. Says it right on his website. And boy am I happy about that fact! This guy is KILLING it. When I met James Brown last month he recommended the Martial Law which just so happened to be in stock, so I took it home. The next day I cut the cap and took a cold draw, what the what???? I couldn’t light it fast enough. The initial draw hit my taste buds and back of my throat like a dose of cayenne pepper from my home state of Louisiana, and then blended so perfectly and smooth. Next up was the C-276. Another fantastic stick that I really, really enjoyed. I found more Nomad online and plan to try many more from them soon.

Room 101 – Started by Matt Booth I have tried a few 101 cigars. Payback, Johnny Tobacconaut, Daruma Gold and the San Andres. All of which I enjoyed very much. The big Payback was a bit on the larger ring gauge spectrum for me but it was a great smoke. Matt also makes some incredible jewelry. Think West Coast meets Far East tradition. I recently won a nice Xikar Room 101 cutter that I use on a regular now. Thanks Matt, Xikar and Famous Smoke Shop for that!

Surrogates – I heard about them through my brother in law recently and started doing some research. So far I am seeing nothing but great reviews and looking forward to picking some up to review and try.

Tatuaje – What can you say? This company is so highly regarded in the boutique world and for damn good reason. Pete Johnson has created some of the best cigars at the My Father Cigar Factory in Nicaragua. I had a 10th Anniversary on a cruise recently that I enjoyed, Tatuaje Black, Fausto, Havana VI, and Tattoo are all wonderful sticks.

So there you have it. These are just a FEW of the many, many great boutique brands that you will find out there. Like I said, I started with these because I am either very familiar with them, smoke them regularly, or they have been very highly recommended. I am talking with a few other brands now that I am hoping to feature very soon. I hope you got some info from this. Please feel free to comment, share and drop us your favorite brands. ALL are welcome here and we would love to do a feature piece on each and every one of them in the future. Please send them to the page and have them contact us at the top of the page. Until next time, smoke em if you got em. Peace!