Advice for cigar beginners

Disclaimer: This is simply my opinion. These are either things I have done or wished I had done as a new cigar smokers years ago. There are plenty of other options/opinions out there so take it for what it’s worth. Of course this is the internet so we get all the “know it all” types pointing out all sorts of things from things we should have mentioned to spelling errors. It’s a cigar and bourbon blog for God sake. If you have that much time and concern to critique a personal blog, well…I ‘ll just leave it at that. If this was a term paper I might be a bit more concerned but anyway…moving on.

So I often get asked about the best cigars for beginners or I want to get into cigar and bourbon pairings, etc. As recently as today I had someone reach out to me about what cigar to pick, what site to order from etc.

First things first, forget pairings. That will come. You have no idea what your cigar profile is at this point so trying to find a cigar you like is priority #1 right now. Trying to match something you have no idea you will even like to a bourbon you may be familiar with is pointless. Let’s try to narrow down the cigar first.

Instead of trying to randomly order something online, my suggestion is to research articles like this online or take a drive to a reputable cigar shop/lounge and work with someone there. Do your home work and read reviews online about the staff, knowledge, and selection before going down to Brad’s Vape’s and Sticks (disclaimer, random name I picked here and no way represents any actual business. If there is a store out there by this name this is solely coincidental and I accept no liability for slander). Take a trip and be honest with the person in the shop and explain that you are new and are curious about trying cigars. If you have tried them before and you have an idea of what you had before, tell them honestly what you liked and didn’t like about it. If you are brand new I would expect them to offer you something mild or even something like a Drew Estate Acid infused cigar. I can’t smoke them now but truth be told I started with a Monte Cristo White Series and fell into Acids for a bit as I worked into enjoying non infused cigars. For about the first 6 to 9 months, I tried Acid, Natural, Isla del Sol, etc. Slowly my taste changed and I was able to try some mild to medium, then medium to full and now my flavor profile is full blown full bodies cigars almost exclusively. Great story I know. Back to our regularly scheduled program. My point to all of this is try non-infused and if you like it cool but don’t be afraid of the infused stuff and don’t feel like you will be there forever. Some people simply don’t have the palate for it and that is ok too. The cigar snobs will disagree. Ignore the noise. Your money, your palate, your experience. If they want you to smoke other things by all means request they purchase them for you, then simply move away. Cigar etiquette 101 is never criticize other smokers choices. You like what you like and don’t try to impress anyone.

Once you make your selection, I suggest finding reviews or tasting notes from different sites about that specific cigar. Make sure you find the exact cigar, same size etc. as tasting notes do vary with different vitolas (sizes). I encourage you to find videos about proper cutting and lighting of a cigar as well. Improper cutting and lighting can ruin your cigar and experience with it. Take your time to properly cut your cigar and try pulling (sucking) through it prior to lighting it. Watch video reviews or read up on reviews about it. Try learning about how different cuts will give you different draw options. If you have a cigar that is super tight and hard to get air through, it is likely plugged and will ruin your experience. Let the shop you bought it from know and hopefully they make it right. I have reviewed a tool here called the PerfecDraw and it can be great for those issues. The draw can make the experience great or horrible. Too open and too tight are both a problem. Take note of this. There should be a little resistance, similar to drinking a milkshake through a straw. It should not be wide open like sucking air through a straw of so hard you practically turn blue trying to get smoke through it.

Once the cigar is lit, (make sure you do not inhale cigar smoke into your lungs) try to understand what notes you might be tasting. It will be overwhelming at first and you may be like “I have no idea” and that is fine. If you decided to follow a reviewer wither through a blog or a video, try to identify the things they are describing. Even if it is just one or two things, that’s great. Most importantly, take notes. a written journal will help tremendously. I did this and I actually started putting them on FB for my own tracking purposes. Whatever you chose to do, this is very beneficial. Keep in mind that every reviewers palate is different and you may not pick up anything they are describing. Always take reviews with a grain of salt. Some of the top reviewers out there have palates that just aren’t compatible with mine so there is no value in me reading/watching them because I cannot identify with what they are describing. They aren’t wrong and neither am I. Note what you like and what you don’t like.

Make notice of strength as well. If you feel yourself getting sick, there are a couple of things that may be in play here. You can be inhaling into your lungs, which is common for cigarette smokers, or you may be smoking too fast. You should try to take a puff of your cigar every 1 minute or 1 minute 30 seconds or so. Enjoy it but do not rush it. It is meant to be enjoyed and if you take your time with it so what? I am by far one of the slowest smokers I know and I really don’t care. I know that when I smoke fast I get sick so what is the point in rushing it and ruining the experience? If you do start to get sick, sugar helps. I have also found that peppermints help to calm an upset stomach (but it will destroy your taste buds) and lots of water as well.

Cigar flavors will change from third to third. (Cigars are generally referred to in thirds.) If you like a cigar in the first third and it changes, stick with it because it will likely change again. On the flip side, if you don’t like it, if you can stick with it, wait for the halfway point or last third. Some cigars just aren’t for you and that is fine too. I have had a number of cigars that I really wanted to like and they didn’t fit my profile. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad stick, it just simply isn’t for you. However, WRITE THAT DOWN or note it, take pics whatever, because that info is super valuable to you and the person helping trying to narrow your profile.

I try to identify beginner cigar smokers palates to a shotgun filled with buckshot. You are all over the place. The goal of any good tobacconist is to narrow that down each time you smoke and report back to them so they can start to narrow that down to a single shot from a hand gun and you are hitting the bulls eye every time. Once you find what you really like, start looking for alternatives to that cigar that stick within that general profile.

I did the exact opposite of this and I tried everything I could find and what it got me was a bunch of wasted money and no real idea of what I liked.

Your best friend is a good employee that understands tobacco and listens to you. Unfortunately they can be hard to find. If you get a suggestion from them that you don’t like, let them know. If it happens again, it may be time to consider a different option. Regardless, track the cigars the tried and didn’t like. Again, this is good info. As you navigate your way into what you like, keep in mind that your taste and palate may very well change.

If you gravitate towards medium rare rib-eyes, high proof bourbons, and dark red wines, black coffee, you may not enjoy a mild cigar. Connecticut cigars are generally the mildest of the cigars on the market, however, do not fall for the “darker the wrapper, the stronger the cigar” saying and vice versa.This is not always true. You might enjoy something more medium to full but this is all trial and error. As you move through your cigar journey you may want to revisit something you didn’t like before. What may have started out as too heavy or harsh may be right in your wheelhouse months/years later. This is the beauty of the industry. As someone that smokes very dark cigars almost exclusively, there are times that I really enjoy light colored Connecticut cigars. You will learn over time and research that mild cigars with coffee can be a great way to start the day and open up your palate to other cigars you will smoke throughout the day.

Once you have your profile narrowed down and you have 3 to 5 cigars that you really like/love, then and only then would I experiment with trying to pair them. This is another world all of its own. Just like cigars, everyone’s taste buds are different so even doing pairing with guys I know that have similar taste as myself, we find ourselves picking up different notes and enjoying pairings to different degrees.

The final thing to understand about cigars and cigar pairings, is like what you like. Don’t try to force yourself to taste things you hear or read in reviews. This is all 100% subjective as I stated before. And, while cigar manufactures try hard to be consistent, not all cigars are the same. I have had entire boxes of the same cigars and very few were consistent.

Like I said before, this is simply some tips and pointers I wish someone had shared with me. If this the be all end all of Cigars 101, no. Not even close. This is one opinion and a recommendation that you do your research and explore. I do suggest narrowing that exploration with the help of someone that has some knowledge and not just looking to sell you cigars. Otherwise, you will end up spending a ton of money as I said.

Hopefully this helps. My final suggestion is to join a solid cigar group like CigarHawk Group on FB and now on MeWe since FB has banned cigar and alcohol content to some degree. We are on Instagram and Twitter as well.

Feel free to ask questions, drop some comments and suggestions. Until next time, #LongAshesFull Glasses. Peace.


Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Cornerstone Rye – 109 Proof – 9 & 11 year old Rye

Thee Wild Turkey. This distillery and I have a deep love affair. I believe Wild Turkey is the most consistent distillery in the last 50 years of distilling in Kentucky. Yup, that’s right, Wild Turkey. You see they have only two mash bills – one for bourbon and one for rye. It’s quite impressive. So with that, here is my first whiskey review on CigarHawk….oh and Drink More Turkey!

Nose: You will not want to stop smelling this glass. A warm and inviting vanilla marshmallow smell. It follows up with a hint of sweetness. There is absolutely no ethanol here.

Taste: Very bold up front. A peppery vanilla taste meets the forward palate. The forward palate lasts quite awhile. Honey immediately follows. The spice never fades. This is absolutely the most impressive thing about the taste. 

Finish: A solid lingering finish. The honey moves to the mid palate. The sweet spice carries all the way through. It’s warming in a good way. The spice comes back around to the forward palate which is unusual for any pour. 

Overall: Eddie Russell has done it. His father distilled the infamous “Christmas Rye”, which is something of legend. Eddie has landed himself another anchor to cement why he will be just fine the day (the unfortunate day) Jimmy steps back as Master Distiller at Wild Turkey. Cornerstone Rye has become (that’s right past tense) what it’s name says, a cornerstone. I am extremely impressed with this profile and will be purchasing more before it’s gone. Do yourself a favor, grab one before that happens. Cheers!

Score: 9.5/10

Added Water: After 5 drops of water, the spice dissipates. After 10 drops of water, it is sweet sweet honey all the way through.

*Full disclosure: I warm my palate before tasting any bourbon. Typically with a potato vodka. It’s always treated me better and I feel I get a much better nose and finish by doing this.

Cigars or Bourbon? I say both!

If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven than I shall not go.

Mark Twain

My name is Bryan. Bourbon is just my thing.

State of distillation: Florida

Rick house: Tampa

Floor: 33614

Taste profile: Forward, a good kick in the mouth, with subtle hints of citrus, cut to the chase, and good laughs.

My name is Bryan Brantley. In 2016, my bourbon love affair began, or as some may call it, my date of distillation. Bourbon is unique as we all know, yet most of us didn’t start by drinking bourbon. We usually picked up another cheap spirit and called it a day. This is what makes bourbon so beautiful. We all end up here. Bourbon is meant to be a spirit we enjoy in brotherhood (or sisterhood – shoutout to the bourbon women!). Enter my goal: to bring more people together over this brown water that is so cherished.

As I embark on this blog journey I encourage all of you to try something new. After all, that is how it all begins. For those who may not be familiar, I will post weekly bourbon reviews and suggestions of what is available at different price ranges. Once a month I will dive into my favorite pour and smoke pairing during that time. I will also post pictures of what I find along the way.

I want to personally thank Scott for inviting me to join the Cigar Hawk blog. I am roughly a year into the cigar game but thoroughly enjoy my humidor being full. As the Hawk himself would say, “Long ashes, and full glasses!” Cheers everyone!

The tricky topic of “pairings”

One of the most common things I get asked when I ask about new content and things people would like to see more of is pairings. Cigars and spirits, cigars and wine, cigars and foods, etc. This is not only one of the most requested topics but it is by far the hardest topic to do. Simply by the sheer numbers of combinations that are available to us I would venture to say would be in the billions. Which, when you consider it, is a very good problem to have! If we only had 5 cigars and 10 spirits to pick from, it would be no problem.

I will be the first to admit that the topic is one that really appeals to me as I love to try new things but the overwhelming number of options make it a challenge I am not sure I want to tackle. Not only that, it is also highly subjective. Much like cigar reviews, it comes down to each individual. You may find certain flavors and notes that I simply just don’t get. Lord knows I read reviews and wonder what the hell is this person smoking because I have never gotten Lucky Charms Marshmellows covered in Dr. Pepper in my cigar profile…ever. Not even smoking an Acid.

My other thought about this topic is that I am honest enough to admit that my palate is not well rounded enough, IMO, to do the topic a lot of justice. Not saying that I wouldn’t be willing to give it a shot but just know that it may not be of much value. Again, a super subjective topic. I have done bourbon tastings and cigar tastings with friends and rarely to we all agree on the notes and flavors. While we may find some common undertones and primary notes, the subtle differences varies greatly across the group.

Another thing to consider with pairings is your own personal range and likes. As someone with a heavy palate that really enjoys medium rare steaks, red wine, bourbon and maduro cigars as my go to options I am going to have a real challenge doing pairings on things like Connecticut’s with white wine, beer or vodka. While those may make for some absolute dynamic pairings, I am not sure I would be able to enjoy them.

I have a ton of respect for people like James Brown of Black Label Trading Company and Black Works Studio that was heavy in the wine industry and has trained his palate as a sommelier. I believe this is what makes him so successful as a cigar blender. That is someone who I think would provide some serious pairing options because of his experience.

Another thing that plays a HUGE factor in creating perfect pairings has nothing at all to do with taste. It has everything to do with experiences. I can remember one of my most favorable pairings was something I rarely even drink and when I do, the first few sips are terrible. I was at a work conference in Scottsdale, AZ with my now current boss (we had just met for the first time) and he found out I was a cigar guy. He was a scotch guy. I am not. I am a bourbon fan but scotch has not been favorable to me. I gave him a cigar and he purchased us a Lagavulin. For those that know, or don’t, this is like drinking campfire smoke from the heavy peat. Drinking it now, it takes me a few sips to ease into it and I wonder what the hell was so different about it from what I remembered. What I remembered was that drink, in AZ, paired with a Padron 1964 maduro and the atmosphere and conversation was one of the best experiences I have had, making it one of the most memorable pairings in my recollection.

To sort of wrap this up a bit, my suggestion is to try different things, take notes on each. Write down pros/cons, likes/dislikes of the cigar you are smoking and whatever you are pairing it with. As you experiment I think you will find trends and patterns in the flavors and profiles of things you like and you don’t. If you have a cigar that you absolutely love and a wine or spirit that you absolutely love, try pairing them if you don’t already. I have done that in the past and have been really disappointed in the findings. Sometimes the flavor combinations actually overpower or work against each other. Once you have put together a solid list of 5 or so choices, switch them up. Try a cigar you had more pros than cons and pair them with a drink you maybe had more cons that pros and see if anything changes. It’s a super challenging and fun thing to do. Keep making tweaks and changes to your pairings until you lock one down that you absolutely enjoy. Then start all over. Lol. That is the game and that is what makes it such a fun and interesting topic, Variety is the spice of life and we are blessed to be able to sample so many different things. Stop smoking the same cigars you always have, stop being the “I’m a XYZ man/woman, I only drink this or smoke that”. Life is too short to be narrow minded. If you have some favorite pairings, please feel free to comment and share.

Thanks for reading and following. Make sure you share this article with friends and follow us on Social Media. Until next time, #LongAshesFullGlasses

Protocol Official Misconduct Corona Gorda

Cubariqueño Cigar Co. announces the release of the Protocol Official Misconduct Corona Gorda as a new size & regular production release for the 2019 IPCPR trade show in Las Vegas. The Official Misconduct will continue to be produced at Erik Espinosa’s La Zona Factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. This second size in the line – Corona Gorda – will be available in a 5 5/8 X 46 format in boxes of 10. MSRP has been set at $99.40 per box. The blend incorporates an Ecuadorian habano wrapper covering a Nicaraguan binder as well as filler tobaccos hailing from both the Estelí and Jalapa growing regions of Nicaragua. Cubariqueño Cigar Co. offered a select amount of boxes at our 4 Year Anniversary Party on June 1st to our loyal supporters attending the event. The cigar will become available nationally at the 2019 IPCPR located in Las Vegas. Cubariqueño Cigar Co. will again be partnered inside the Espinosa booth at the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

INTERVIEW with Jeffrey Amendola of Amendola Family Cigar Company

#cigarinterviews #AmendolaCigars #cigars #cigarculture #BOTL #SOTL #DurhamNC

Can you tell us a bit about your company? When did it start, how it came to be etc.?

-I moved to Durham N.C. in 2009 and started a career in Law Enforcement. While I was in the Police academy I would enjoy a nice cigar in my down time and was surprised that the area I was in only had one or two shops and not many places to smoke. I also noticed that no one was really hosting cigar social events and there were no factories or locally hand made cigars. I decided to host a cigar social event at a local bar because I needed an outlet and was always looking for a good excuse to light one up with co-workers and friends. I had fresh cigars from a factory in the Bronx at the time and had a nice little turn out where guests could purchase from me. That one event became a monthly event, then a bi-weekly event and other venues were asking me to come host and sell cigars on different nights. I saw momentum in this business model and began setting up cigar bars at weddings and house parties as well. When I graduated the police academy I became an official cigar retailer, wholesaler, and manufacturer as “Bull City Cigar Co.” Selling cigars and hosting events became my side hustle, as I like to call it and had a great time doing it. I didn’t mind having my product made in the Bronx but I wanted to make my product more personal so I devoted my free time to learning about different types of tobacco and how to blend. I soon had connects in Miami to get raw leaf tobacco and found hand me down rolling equipment from old factories. A lot of our tables and tools at the time were made by some locals that just wanted to help me get going. I started rolling my own blends in a room at RJ cigars in Raleigh, then moved the factory to a small office underneath a coffee shop in Durham near Duke University. I had 2 other cigar rollers working with me at the time that really helped me define my blends, some of which we are still producing today. That led to opening wholesale accounts, doing more events, and eventually opening my own retail shop and cigar lounge. I rebranded in 2017 to Amendola Family Cigar Co. I felt the need to personalize the brand with my last name and to build a legacy for my children and family.

When did you get into cigars? Do you remember your first cigar experience?

-I got curious about cigars when I would visit Arthur Ave. in the Bronx NY. It was a place near where I grew up that has the best Italian food, fresh markets, and a cigar factory in the main retail market on the block. I was fascinated by watching the cigars being made and what went into prepping the tobacco and I started collecting cigar boxes. I loved the artwork and nostalgia. I was 16 or so at the time but didn’t have my first cigar until I was 21 or so. I was hooked on the experience ever since.

When did you decide to learn to roll cigars?

-2011 when I decided I was in this for the long haul and I wanted to blend and produce my own product.

Who taught you?

-I found a factory in Ybor City, Florida, by the name of La Faraona Cigars. Odelma, the owner took me in and taught me everything I needed to know about rolling cigars as well as one of my full time rollers, “Kiko”. Kiko was a supervisor at Davidoff for 7 years, and worked in the Fuente factory for many years.

Is this your full time job? What did you do prior to the cigar world?

-This is my full time job. Cigars are my life at this point. Prior to working in the cigar business I was employed with the City of Durham Police department and resigned in 2015 as a Special Victims Unit Detective. When I resigned I jumped into my cigar biz full time.

Production was recently moved to Tabacalera G. Kafie Y Cia factory. Can you tell us a bot about that?

-Moving our production to Honduras has been the greatest decision I have made so far. I have complete freedom to blend my product the way I see fit and approve the tobacco that we use and choose to ferment. It is also a one stop shop. All of our boxes, labels, and cigars are produced under the same management. Dr. Kafie is a great guy to work with and he allows me to do what is best for my business and my blends.

Your company produced more than 30,000 cigars last year and you are projected to increase that by 30%. What do you attribute your growth to?

-I contribute that to putting out a solid product. No hype, no shenanigans, no gimmicks, just a good quality consistent cigar. I am old school and believe in a classic, timeless look, something that doesn’t go out of style. I pride myself in the relationships I have with my customers and retailers and rely on their returning business. With those relationships, comes word of mouth. People are starting to talk about Amendola and want to experience it for them self. On a separate note we have just started to open accounts in Texas, NYC, and other states across the USA. I will also be attending the international trade show in Germany on Sept. 19th 2018 and am expecting to finalize distribution deals with Germany, Italy, and other European countries.

I recently attended one of your rolling events. How often do you host those?

-I host rolling events at least 3 times a month at different venues and cigar shops.

Where can people find your cigars in their local B&M’s? Any areas you are looking to expand into specifically?

-We are currently selling in NYC, NC, PA, and Texas. Florida and GA are next as well as South Africa, and in the European Market. You can still buy from our headquarters at 1214 University Dr. Durham, NC or online We are working on getting a list together of all of our wholesale accounts to put online for our customers to find our product easier.

What other cigars on the market do you really enjoy or smoke on a regular basis?

-I really enjoy Kafie 1901 cigars, La Gloria Cubana, and Most of what AJ Fernandez puts out.

Are there any people in the industry that you would like to work with at some point?

-I honestly haven’t thought about that yet, but definitely think that would be an option later on down the road.

Let’s talk a bit more about the cigars coming out. You have a range of variety hitting the market from Connecticut, Habano, Maduro, Sumatra and more. Can you expand on that a bit?

-So I wanted to hit the basics and focus on what consumers usually look for in a cigar. I produce anything from a mild, medium, to full body profile. Our Connecticut blend is something to talk about though. Not what you would traditionally expect from a lighter smoke. Lots of good flavors in there. You can thank Honduras for that. Our Sumatra blend was something to do for fun and it has become one of my favorites out of all my blends. We sold out of those in the first 3 weeks so I think that is a winner. Our Habano 2000 has nice citrus notes for a medium body smoke. The Amendola Special is my signature blend and my daily smoke. It is a Nicaraguan puro with a Oscuro maduro wrapper, and maduro binder.

You are based in Durham NC. Do you have a lounge or storefront people can visit?

-Yes retail shop and lounge at 1214 University Dr. I always encourage people to come by for a nice espresso and a Amendola Cigar! Never know what might happen in there.

How much has social media helped to get your product out in front of people?

-Honestly social media and word of mouth has been the only way I am currently getting in front of people.

Anything you would like to add or discuss?

I would like to encourage the cigar community to go out and continue to support all of the boutique brands out there. We are fighting hard to overcome threats and ridiculous stipulations from the FDA and still have to compete with the mainstream cigar lines out there. Any support at all is appreciated! On a more serious note, Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, stay ashy, and I like ‘em with a fat ash…

I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with us and we look forward to a long relationship with you and your team.

I was honored to have this experience! Thank you for the love and support.

Ezra Zion acquires Nomad Cigar Company

As many of you may have seen yesterday across various social media and cigar media sites, Ezra Zion Cigar Company has acquired Nomad Cigar Company.

“Nomad is an artisan boutique brand with an emphasis on quality and craftsmanship. Fred has been a close friend and colleague for years. We’re honored to be entrusted with such an institution.” stated Ezra Zion owner Chris Kelly.

Nomad Cigars will be distributed nationally by TX Distribution, which is owned by Ezra Zion and operates from their warehouses in Alvord, Texas.

“I feel confident that not only will Chris and Kyle take Nomad Cigar Company to the next level, but will also preserve what has brought it to this point.” noted Fred Rewey.

Nomad blends currently in the market will continue to be available from retail brick and mortar shops.

“So where are we taking Nomad? Well, we’ve got some very special blends just waiting to be released—really next level stuff! We will definitely be doing some very cool limited offerings under the Nomad brand.” noted Ezra Zion owner Kyle Hoover.

“We’d like an outlet for our more edgy and experimental stuff—both in terms of cigar making and also art concepts. There are some ideas that we feel might not exactly fit as an Ezra Zion release. Nomad gives us the chance to color outside the lines.” added Kelly.

The companies are currently transitioning business operations and logistics, etc. During this transition, Nomad retailers can continue to order from their current Nomad sales reps.

More branding updates and wholesale ordering instructions will be available soon.

“Our goal is to have the “New Nomad” unveiled to the public soon. I think people are going to be very stoked!” added Hoover. would like to say “Congratulations” to all parties involved and we look forward to what’s next for everyone.

Traficante Cigars. Hell Mary Review

So I have been seeing Traficante Cigars lighting up social media for over a year now and they have REALLY taken over our group in popularity. I can honestly say that I didn’t really know very much about them but I did a little bit searching and found that information about the brand and the owners are pretty hard to come by but there is certainly a reason for it as you will see. Some of you may already know.

“OUR JOURNEY Traficante Cigar Company was created in 2015 as I (Mike) was involved in Narcotics operations and for that reason, no personal photos were posted publicly until May 2017. The Traficante Cigar Company represents what we have seen in the Narco-Culture. We have no intention of being a major player in the cigar industry, but prefer to keep the brand(s) exclusive and unique. We depend heavily on the connections we have made over the years to assist us in our quest to provide the highest quality cigars available at an affordable price. We are not a large company, and we prefer it that way. Our goal is to provide the best cigar experience possible. How do we do that? With the help of our Amigo’s.”

Taken from the website.

I would imagine that being involved in that kind of work and the lifestyle that comes with it explains the low profile online. Can’t blame them for that. I am hoping to connect with the owner soon and try to set something up for release here on the site.

Looking at the company website, the cigars, the aging process and the info I found, this is certainly by all accounts a true “boutique” cigar company. Producing under 100 cigars a day it stands to reason that supplies of these cigars come and go so quickly. I have seen the same thing with Ezra Zion cigars and when the announcement comes about cigars being back in stock, you better have your money ready and hit that order now button because they don’t last long. While I can appreciate what they are doing, as a consumer on the flip side it usually means we miss out on some great releases. I travel a lot for work and by the time I am able to stop and check emails and go to the site, they are gone. 1st world problems right?

So back to their aging process. This was also available on their website and I thought it was worth adding.


After fermentation is complete, our tobacco undergoes a secondary aging process where it continues to release ammonia. This enhances the flavor and aroma.The wrapper tobacco is packed in bales of 120 lbs and is left to rest and age for a minimum of two years. During this time, the bales are cured in a special warehouse where the humidity and temperature are controlled at all times, in order to maintain the proper moisture and humidity. Once fermented, filler tobacco goes back to the tobacco floor where part of the mid stem is removed by hand. After the mid stem is removed, filler tobacco is packed in bales of 130 lbs and placed into tercios, which are bales made of royal palm bark. Tercios are an expensive process because each tercio must be made by hand. This method originated in Cuba and is ideal because it allows the tobacco to age in a slow, continuous manner to achieve the optimal taste, aroma and burning capability.Filler tobacco remains in tercios for up to two years. Once this is complete, the filler tobacco is then packed into Dominican rum barrels where it continues to age and mature, taking on additional flavor nuances.

So with all of that said, let’s jump into what we came here to do. Let’s look at the Hell Mary from Traficante Cigar Company.

Traficante Hell Mary 7 x 50 Maduro Toro

MSRP: $12.00


The blend is not disclosed and this is what is on the website.

“The Hell Mary is unique to say the least. From the art work on the band to the blend itself, this is sure to be one controversial cigar. Notes of Louisiana Perique, Anise, leather, and the green fairy (Absinthe).This is one complex blend with multiple transitions.”

Interesting. Being from Louisiana this peaked my interest. If you are not familiar with Louisiana Perique tobacco here is some info. There are roughly 25 farmers that grow Perique and that number is growing as popularity is rising.

Perique /pəˈriːk/ is a type of tobacco from Saint James Parish, Louisiana, known for its strong, powerful, and fruity aroma. When the Acadians made their way into this region in 1776, the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes were cultivating a variety of tobacco with a distinctive flavor. A farmer named Pierre Chenet is credited with first turning this local tobacco into what is now known as Perique in 1824 through the labor-intensive technique of pressure-fermentation. The tobacco plants are manually kept suckerless and pruned to exactly 12 leaves through their early growth. In late June, when the leaves are a dark, rich green and the plants are 24-30 inches (600 to 750 mm) tall, the whole plant is harvested in the late evening and hung to dry in a sideless curing barn. Once the leaves have partially dried but are still supple (usually less than 2 weeks in the barn), any remaining dirt is removed and the leaves are moistened with water and stemmed by hand. The leaves are then rolled into “torquettes” of approximately 1 pound (450 g) and packed into hickory whiskey barrels. The tobacco is kept under pressure using oak blocks and massive screw jacks, forcing nearly all the air out of the still-moist leaves. Approximately once a month the pressure is released, and each of the torquettes is worked by hand to permit a little air back into the tobacco. After a year of this treatment, the perique is ready for consumption, although it may be kept fresh under pressure for many years. Extended exposure to air degrades the particular character of perique. The finished tobacco is dark brown – nearly black – very moist with a fruity, slightly vinegary aroma.[1] The fruity aroma is the result of hundreds of volatile compounds created by anaerobic fermentation of the tobacco. Many of these are responsible for the flavors of fruits and are often found in wine.[2] Source: Wikipedia

Appearance: Looking at the cigar the very first thing you notice about it is the dog tag. Unlike traditional cigars bands, these dog tags really stand out and make a statement. These dog tags certainly reflect the vibe and feel that surrounds the brand. The Hell Mary is certainly unique featuring a woman with a ball gag, nipple clamp with roses around her. The cigar is very rustic with lots of veins ranging in sizes from small to medium. The wrapper is medium to dark brown in color.

Pre-Light: Where do I start? There is a ton going on here in the form of notes coming off the barrel. Tons of heavy floral, absinthe, anise (liquorice). Since I have never been exposed to Perique tobacco I am not sure what I should be getting from it. I have heard that it is strong and the notes coming from this stick are all very noticeable. Using a V-cut to open the cap, the draw has some resistance and I pick up mostly floral, clove, grassy notes with some anise. This cigar is one of the most intriguing cigars I have had in awhile simply because I have no idea what to expect from it.

1st Third: Whoa! What the $%*@ is going on? I did not expect this at all! Tons of sweet cedar wood, minimal floral notes but some clove and grass. This is a very unique blend for sure. I decided to use an X-cut to open the draw a bit and it helped out a lot. Floral notes begin to take shape as I move further into the first third. This is unlike any other cigar I have tried and I am really digging this flavor profile. Full bodied, medium strength so far. No burn issues and the draw is fine now that I opened it up a bit.

2nd Third: Having a little trouble with the burn. I needed to give this cigar a bit more time in the humidor I think. We also had a rain storm come through so the humidity is much higher now. The flavor profile stays about the same without a lot of heavy transitions. Mostly floral notes, grass, clove, anise and heavy cedar. I am really enjoying this blend. Although there aren’t many changes in the flavors, the blend works for me and I am really enjoying this cigar. No real performance issues.

Last 3rd: Again no real changes. The cedar and floral notes take turns at the forefront and then falling back nicely. There is a touch of spice here and there but overall the blend is very consistent. The burn straightened up nicely since the touch up. The strength is still a solid medium. Pretty much on cruise control at this point. Very enjoyable smoke.

Final Thoughts: This one really surprised me. When I first smelled it I thought “Oh hell no, this thing is super infused”. I almost didn’t want to smoke it but I can honestly say, I am glad that I did. This is not one that I would smoke everyday but I would certainly add this to my regular rotation on the days where I just want something completely different. I encourage you to find this cigar and give it a shot. If you enjoy heavy cedar, floral, grassy notes, this cigar is for you. Very edgy artwork, very unique smell, very unique smoking experience. I say “well done on this one” Michael Poe.


Great news from our friends at Mombacho Cigars. I am super happy to see this brand grow and expand in the industry. If you haven’t tried any of their stuff before, you should seek them out. Our friend Rob Rasmussen sent over some info for us to share with. Check it out!



Robert Rasmussen

Brand Manager Mombacho Cigars


P: 510-693-1714



Germany, Japan, Mexico and Norway have been added to the expanding list of countries where Mombacho Cigars are available for purchase. New Liga Maestro boxes debuted at IPCPR 2018.

GRANADA, NICARAGUA. – (25 July 2018). Mombacho Cigars S.A. has broadened its international reach by adding distributers in four new countries. Germany, Japan, Mexico and Norway are now among the 16 countries where Mombacho Cigars are sold.

“Awareness of our brand is not only growing in the US, but internationally as well,” said Robert Rasmussen, Brand Manager of Mombacho Cigars. “Our cigars can now be found in 16 countries worldwide and we are working diligently to continue expanding into more nations.”

Mombacho Cigars S.A. is a Canadian owned company established in 2006 that entered the US market in 2014. The international interest in Mombacho has grown rapidly and Mombacho cigars are now available in Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Germany, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and Trinidad and Tobago.

“The recent IPCPR trade show was a success for Mombacho, both in terms of retailers in the US and our distribution worldwide,” said Claudio Sgroi, President and Master Blender of Mombacho Cigars. “It is beautiful to see the love for Mombacho spread across the globe.”

Mombacho also unveiled new boxes for their Liga Maestro line at the recent IPCRP trade show in Las Vegas. The new boxes feature a matte black finish with a gold embossed Mombacho logo and have already begun shipping to retailers. Tierra Volcán will be available in similar boxes later this year.


Mombacho Cigars, S. A. was founded in 2006 to provide premium handmade cigars through memorable experiences in select markets around the world, including Canada, China, Italy and, since 2014, the United States. Mombacho produces all of its products at its factory in Granada, Casa Favilli, where over 30 members of the Mombacho Family work. For more information, contact Robert Rasmussen, Brand Manager of Mombacho Cigars at

I am a fan of this brand and I hope that we can get more local retailers to pick them up soon. I look forward to building a relationship with them and wish them much continued success. Please make sure to share this and ask your local B&M to carry them.

Coyaba Cigars Green Label

I have seen Coyaba on social media for some time now so I reached out to Mr Juan Nunez. What a great industry we are a part of. Think about that. What other industry can you simply reach out and interact with a Company/Brand owner and they respond almost immediately and they will have a conversation with you like you have known each other for years? This happens all the time and they are some of the most genuine people you will meet. Juan was certainly no different.

This is my first review of the Coyaba brand. For those of you that don’t know about them here is some info from their website.

“About Coyaba Cigars Tobacco

The meaning of Coyaba in the Taino language means Paradise. To the Tainos, this signified their Heaven. A place of ease and rest where time was spent feasting and dancing. They were free of diseases and the threat of hurricanes. With the creation of Coyaba Cigars, we have accomplished our own paradise.We welcome you to Coyaba Cigars. We produce premium handcrafted cigars that are sure to please the palate of diverse cigar aficionados and enthusiasts alike. We are confident that for years to come, you and your friends will enjoy Coyaba Cigars, the industry’s finest aromatic sensation which is available for your smoking pleasure. Our factory is located in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, and whose main purpose is the production of premium handcrafted cigars. The Dominican Republic is recognized internationally by the unmatched quality of its premium handcrafted cigars. We at Coyaba Cigars have the capacity to handcraft cigars in various emblematic classic and specialty vitolas with unique blends by our certified Cuban trained cigar rollers. We do so with the best specially selected materials available in the market today.This is all done under the direct supervision of our master blenders, whom are true perfectionists and pay special attention to detail as demonstrated in their consistency with blends and creation of our premium hand crafted cigars.We welcome our brothers of the leaf to Coyaba Cigars, where ‘We do not smoke the competition… The competition smokes us…’Salud and long ashes…Juan P ‘JP’ Nunez”

If you want more information on the company, brand and blends, please visit

Let’s jump in here and take a look.

Coyaba Green Label 7 x 48

Origin: Dominican Republic.
Wrapper: Negro maduro San Andres (Mexico).
Binder: Ecuador Connecticut natural, Peru (Viso).
Filler: Dominican Republic (Piloto Cubano), Dominican Republic (Doble ligero), Nicaragua (Viso).

Appearance: This cigar is rugged in appearance with medium veins and tight seams. The stick has a few bumps but feels firm with no soft spots. The green, white and gold band really stands out against the wrapper. Overall a nice presentation.

Pre-Light: From the barrel I pick up notes of straw, barnyard a slight bit of pepper. From the foot I pick up fermintation, hay and a slight cocoa note. I use a v-cut to open the double cap and I get notes of espresso and some hay. The draw is open with a little bit of resistance.

1st Third: Right off the bat I get a nice woodsy profile. I pick up some grassy notes mixed with some sweet cocoa. A touch of light pepper in the background blends in nicely. The burn and draw are both good. As I move a bit more into it the blend turns a bit more earthy with some nice woodsy notes. This is a nice medium strength, very smooth and easy smoke.

2nd Third: No real big changes in transition. The profile remains earthy with nice wood notes (reminds me of a sweet cedar with some grassy notes) and a touch of sweet cocoa. This is consistent with the first third of the cigar. The draw has remained nice and open with a slight resistance and the burn has a slight wave to it. So far its on cruise control and no touch ups have been needed. Moving towards the final third, no significant changes. Sweet cedar still very much at the forefront with more earthy notes on the back end.

Last Third: A little touch of pepper comes back into the mix. Again no real changes. Still getting a lot of nice smoke production, draw and burn are both good. Still a nice, smooth, easy medium strength cigar. As I move to the last inch or so, no bitterness, still cool to the touch with no hot spots or burn issues.

Final Thoughts: This was my first from the Coyaba brand. As someone that typically smokes full bodied cigars I had concerns on this fitting my normal profile. The construction and performance are both very solid. The cigar remains very consistent throughout the entire smoke. If you are looking for something with drastic changes from third to third, this in not your go to cigar. It is a very solid cigar with a nice earthy, woodsy profile with notes of sweetness along the way. Strength was a solid medium start to finish. If you are more of a full bodied smoker, this would be a great first smoke of the day with a cup of coffee kind of smoke.

So there you have it. The Coyaba Green Label. I look forward to reviewing more of their cigars in the near future. Thanks to Juan Nunez for allowing me the opportunity to do this review. Until next time…#LongAshesFullGlasses friends.

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Reserve Cigar Company Especial Toro

Well folks, it’s been quite some time since I have had the opportunity to sit down and do a review but finally that has changed some. The new house is finished, we are moved in and now it’s time to start enjoying life again. Today we revisit a company I reviewed back in Dec. Reserve Cigar Company from Atlanta. Check out the company spotlight and interview I did here on the blog page. This is my second review from this up and coming brand. I was impressed with the first one I tried so let’s see how this one stacks up.

The Especial 6 x 52 Toro is wrapped in a dark brown wrapper with medium veins and tight seams.

Blend is undisclosed other than Sun Grown wrapper and Dominican tobaccos.

The cigar feels firm with no soft spots. The construction looks and feels solid. The dark blue and gold band is simple and elegant but really dresses up the cigar nicely.

Pre-light: This cigar has been in my humidor since Dec. I am picking up notes of straw, barnyard and wood. I used a V-Cut to open this one up. The draw is very nice with slight resistance. I pick up notes of hay, wood and espresso.

1st Third: Very nice profile right off the first draw. Tons of thick smoke and notes of wood, sweet cocoa, and hints of spice. There is a nice, subtle sweetness of cedar wood and cocoa. The draw is perfect and the burn is nice with a slight wave to it. It is a very warm, beautiful suny day with a pretty gusty breeze here in North Carolina today. As I move further into the first third, the blend stays pretty consistent.

2nd Third: As I move into the halfway mark the profile changes slightly to more of an earthy, woodsy blend. I am picking up nice hints of sweet cedar wood, earth and cocoa. There is a very brief touch of bitterness that passes quickly. Not sure what that was but it came and went quickly. As I move further in the profile changes just a bit to more of a floral almost grassy note. The draw and burn are both still very nice. The strength and body is a smooth medium.

Last 3rd: As I move into the last third, the profile stays very consistent. This is a very easy cigar to smoke with a nice flavor profile. It is a nice woodsy, earthy, creamy smoke from start to finish. I decided to pair the final inch or so with a pour of Larceny bourbon. This cigar certainly brings out the sweetness of the bourbon and the bourbon enhances the cedar and wood in the cigar. This pairing works very well together.

Final Thoughts: I am really impressed with this cigar and the brand. Be sure to go back in the blog and check out the company spotlight and interview I did with owner Alexis Webber. This is a great cigar for any time of the day. It is easy and smooth to smoke. It is easy enough for beginner smokers but complex enough for advanced smokers. The profile does not change greatly from start to finish but it varies enough to keep it interesting.

If you are interested in ordering, I highyl recommend the 6 pack sampler so you can try the entire lineup. Visit

Be sure to follow us on Social Media, follow Reserve Cigar Company and join the #ReserveFamily.

Until next time, #LongAshesFullGlasses.


Cubariqueño Cigar Co. announces the release of the Protocol Official Misconduct. The cigars are being produced at Erik Espinosa’s LaZona Factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. Protocol Official Misconduct will be available in a 6×50 format in boxes of 10. The name continues with the Protocol theme of Law & Law Enforcement as owners Bill Ives and Juan Cancel are police officers & Bill Agathis an attorney.

The blend consists of an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan fillers from Esteli / Jalapa. Kevin Keithan, National Sales Manager stated, cigars are being classified as medium plus in strength. Initial release will be at Cubariqueno’s 3 Year Anniversary event on May 12th at the Holiday Inn located in Clinton, New Jersey through Berkeley Humidor and pre-sales will also be available through initially. Cigars will begin to ship to retailers May 15th and head to the 2018 IPCPR this summer. Cubariqueno also announces a line extension in the Probable Cause line. Keithan stated that Cubariqueno has added a Corona Gorda measuring 5 5/8 x 46 to their portfolio. Those cigars will also be made available in boxes of 10 at the Anniversary event and will also ship to retailers on May 15th.

Official Misconduct Pricing –

MSRP- $98.90 per 10 count box

Probable Cause Corona Gorda Pricing-

MSRP- $97.90 per 10 count box