Category Archives: Cigar Shops

New Stock in at Got Cigars?

Yup, you read that right.  We’ve got some new cigars.

Oh, new thing too. I’m doing a part time bit helping out the owner so she can take some vacation time or spend time with her family.  It’s been fun so far!

Let’s see, just a few things that have come in:

Diesel Grind by AJ Fernandez

Diesel Grind: I left my full review here.  Basic takeaway was that this was a new release from AJ Fernandez for IPCPR and utilized a different blend than any of the other Diesel lines.

Pinar Del Rio:  These are one of the hidden gems of the industry. Nicaraguan hand made cigars with excellent quality and taste .We carry the Sungrown, the Maduro and Capa Especial (red)

 

 

Avo Syncro South American Ritmo: A personal favorite of mine, this

Avo Nicaragua Syncro South American Ritmo

cigar will get a proper review on this site soon.  Full bodied, beautiful, well crafted, this premium cigar will surely satisfy any fans of the late Avo Uvezian.  I prefer the torpedo in the box pressed Churchill size.

Brickhouse Natural and Maduro:  A solid re-release from Nicaragua

Brickhouse Natural and Maduro

by the folks at JC Newman, who brought this toasty, earthy cigar back from extinction as a tribute to J. C. Newman.

Macanudo Inspirado Red and Black:  Soft and supple, or more full bodied in a maduro, you decide. But we carry black, red and white!

Cigar review: AJ Fernandez Enclave Broadleaf

At Got Cigars? the owner had brought in a larger selection of AJ Fernandez cigars, including the new Enclave Broadleaf.  Naturally, I had to give it a try.

The first thing to notice is the beautiful chocolate colored broadleaf wrapper, cluing me in that I’m in for a sweeter treat than AJ’s normal experiences.

Using a straight cut to clip the cap, I put the cigar to my lips and tasted the cold draw’s sharp stone fruit, mixed with hints of wood. The cigar wasn’t too loose or too tight so the draw was good, also assuring me of solid construction. Oh, there was a subtle sweetness I can’t quite name yet, too.

Once I lit the cigar, I tasted the prominence of wood that died down after a few hearty puffs. The smoke was ash gray. Sweet, dark cocoa (how can something be dark cocoa and sweet?  Don’t know, ask the blender!) balanced along with bitter notes of black pepper.

Enclave Broadleaf, by AJ Fernandez

As the cigar burns down, we pick up more balance in the sweet and spice mixture, until we burn down to the final third. Then the broadleaf really shines and we pick up that light cocoa I associate oftentimes with Tatuaje cigars.

The medium to full flavor is graced with a long finish.

Great cigar overall, and another hit for master blender AJ Fernandez.

New Cigar Stock at Got Cigars? (Decatur, Georgia)

Many of you know I’m a weekly inhabitant of a spot in Decatur called “Got Cigars?”  They’re located at 232 E. Ponce De Leon Ave right off the Square in Decatur, GA.

Comfortable, friendly, knowledgeable.  This is a mini home or my “Decatur Office” when I’m in the mood not to work from home but don’t want to trek to Highland.

Along with standard products such as Fuente, Kristoff, La Flor Dominicana, and My Father, she has a rotating stock.

The shop owner has brought in a few new things to her quaint little shop.  I’ve had a chance to taste a lot of newer things so I’ll give you a small rundown.

Cohiba Blue – the value-priced cigar is crafted with a three-country blend of tobaccos from Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.  Notes of vanilla and cedar find their way onto the palate.

La Palina Nicaraguan Oscuro

Montecristo by AJ Fernandez- a traditional blend re-imagined by famed maker AJ Fernandez.  Developed in conjunction with the Groupo De Maestros, this Nicaraguan blend showcases more spice and strength than the core Monte.  I reviewed this cigar here.

La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro – A fairly complex cigar from La Palina, the construction is soild.  Notes of wood and leather mingle with pepper and fruit.

Romeo by AJ Fernandez – My personal favorite AJ/Groupo De

Romeo by AJ Fernandez

Maestros blend, the Romeo y Julieta blend re-imagined by AJ.  Like the Monte mentioned above, this cigar is blended in Nicaragua.  More robust, but fruit, black pepper, heavy wood and cedar notes mix with bacon smokiness for a delicious surprise. I reviewed that here last week.

 

Olivia cigar event at Highland Cigar Company

Oliva display at Highland Cigar Company
Oliva display at Highland Cigar Company

I arrived a little early to scope things out and see what deals were going on. Loving the V and Melanio as a rule, I couldn’t wait to try the master blend I was gifted.

Starting off with a spicy Nub Habano, the flavors are medium and the spice light on the 460. I was stoked to try these when they came out years ago and they are still good now.

There was a large crowd and, a lot of sportsball going on.  I ended up following the Nub Habano up with the Melanio V churchill, because the flavors melded well together with the beer I had that night.

Scotch Whiskey Tasting – Notes from Highland Cigar Company

While in Atlanta, I’ve been checking out Highland Cigar Company, usually going on Sundays.  Last week, the 28th of June, the folks there hosted Simon Brooking, from Beam/Suntori and we tasted some nice Scotch Whiskies.

Simon’s a knowledgeable guy about both Whiskey and the history of many different brands, plus the wet past of Scotland.  His tales were amusing, his toasts, heartwarming and jokes, well any good Scotsman would be proud. Plus, for once, I wasn’at the only one wearing a kilt at Highland 😉

IMG_3347
From Left to Right – Auchentoshan 3Wood, Bowmore 12 year, Laphroaig Select

Now, onto the juice.

Three different scotches paired well with the Antonius Robusto – a mild to medium bodied Dominican cigar that had been rolled and “forgotten

Antonius Robusto
Antonius Robusto

about” for about 8 years.  The blend had more power than expected, but was mild enough that a novice smoker could enjoy it, along with it not balancing well with the whiskies.  To be honest, I was shocked that the cigar paired so well with an Islay whiskey, but that’ll come up in my notes shortly.

The first whiskey was Auchentoshan 3 Wood.  Matured in Bourbon, Oloroso Sherry and PX Sherry casks, this scotch had really refined flavors and a lovely finish with a pleasant finish.  I found it balanced and it blended well with the Antonius, complimenting the wood notes of the cigar.  This was a favorite at Highland, due to the lovely, sweet finish.

Next was the Bowmore 12 year.  Listed as an Islay, I found this to be rather pleasant compared to what most folks think of when someone says Islay  Scotch.  The mild citrus notes came upon me at the end of the drink, along with mild peat and sea.

Last was the Laphroaig Select – a masterful blend of various scotches hand picked by a “select group” of tasters.  This is honestly the lowest peated scotch they make.  Peat has been a bone of contention for me for years, due to the effects it has on my stomach (I suppose I could drink less but where’s the fun in that?  LOL!) But this whiskey shows reserve on the smokiness, adding more balance and less of that gasoline taste that tends to put drinkers of whiskey off.  The finish of the IMG_3350Antonius went very well with just enough backbone and intensity to compliment the Laphroaig and not be overpowered.

Overall, the Antonius was a solid choice for this whiskey pairing.  Balanced with wood notes, hints of spice and vanilla appeared on the palate.  Firm in the fingers, the draw was delightful.  A cold draw brought in flavors of cinnamon and baking spice.  Construction was also solid, though I forgot to get pictures for the blog.

There were two other whiskies we’d tasted but sadly, my notes are not legible – typical of being a published romance novelist.  They were both Laphroaig, however, and wonderful in their own right.  I’d lit up a second cigar at this point.

Currently, Highland Cigar Company is doing tastings on Tuesdays throughout the summer.

For a different experience in Scotch Whiskey, see my notes about the Balvenie Masterclass held back in San Francisco a few years back.

Trouble in the Cigar Industry

With all the new bullshit legislation coming down on cigar and pipe smokers, we’re left looking at each other with unlit vitolas in hand, stress on our shoulders and a crumbling economy. The problem has become so bad that many retailers are scrambling to find new ways to generate revenue -ways which are ultimately going to drive away business.

One of the shops I’ve visited has a policy whereby customers must purchase $25 worth of merchandise in order to enjoy ONLY two hours with one other person in the shrunken smoking lounge. They shrunk the lounge to make more room for product that’s NOT cigar/tobacco oriented.

This policy took effect recently and has already shown itself to be harmful. Many of the regulars have stopped coming to smoke there and will find other places to hang out, if those places can be found. In San Francisco, we’re limited to the Occidental, 850 Montgomery Cigar Bar and that’s it.

Things continue to worsen. The bar around the corner has a sign up in the “smoking” section that says no cigars, no pipes, no weed ya’ll. I agree on the latter but the former two? I’m a cigar smoker, a pipe smoker and now will be taking my money elsewhere as I search for a cigar friendly place to relax.

In the first case, I understand the need to generate revenue in a brick and mortar store located in state with high as hell tobacco taxes. Legislation has shut down many of the businesses that support cigar and pipe smokers, leaving less revenue on the table. This may all seem like whining from a minority group but the last time I checked, this was AMERICA.

In ultra liberal California I’m no longer allowed to smoke cigars on the community balcony. So far the manager has said shit about me smoking my pipe on the front steps.

So what is the answer for shops with shrinking revenue? Even with unlimited funds I couldn’t justify going to a shop every day to smoke and having to spend a minimum amount, which makes it seem like I’m carrying the shop. And the feelings a lot of folks have expressed have been less than stellar.

Sascha Illyvich

The Pete Johnson event at Grants

On June 16th the event at Grants kicked off with music, alcohol provided by Shakers Vodka and of course Pete Johnson himself, showing up to help work the register, talk to fans about his cigars and of course smoke. Pete’s an amazingly open man and a lot of fun to talk to about a TON of things.

Of course the Grants Burlesque Cigar Girls were on hand smoking in more than one way 😉

I picked up a four pack consisting of the la riqueza no 2, cabaiguan robusto, el triunfador and the Havana VI Nobles. I also scored a few petite tatuajes. Those little smokes are FULL of flavor (Thanks Reggie) for their size. I was also able to purchase one of the red tubed Tatuajes I’ve yet to smoke but had Pete sign.

As I said, the man is full of knowledge about the cigar industry. His journey into this world will be covered in a future interview on Pure Indulgence, complete with tasting notes about the Espirite de Verite(sp) I smoked the next day.

Owner Joe Barron kept it fresh with dope tunes he spun from his personal eclectic collection while the folks form SHakers poured martinis. I did a review here

I’m still waiting on a few pics from Mason 😛

There was a lot of fun had, the shop was packed and I think many more people know about Grants AND the tasty Tatuajes.

Grants Tobacconist hosts Pete Johnson of Tatuaje Cigars!

Grants Tobacconist to host Pete Johnson of Tatuaje Cigars WEDNESDAY JUNE 16th at 5:30!

Owner Joe Barron will be spinning records from his eclectic collection while pouring martinis using Shakers vodka!

Buy any three Tatuaje, La Riqueza or Cabaiguan cigars, get a Havana VI(nobles) free.

562 Market Street in San Francisco!

Btw, we’re hoping to get an interview with Pete for Pure Indulgence. Also, the Grants Burlewque Girls willb e cutting and lighting cigars 😉

Cigar Shop Update – Tobacco Road

Hello Folks,

Just got back from Tobacco Rd and thought I’d post a few pictures of their smoking lounge.

The nice leather chairs have provided me with a comfortable seating arrangement that’s allowed me hours of reading/smoking time.

As for selection, they offer the following:

Ashton (including one of the VSG sizes)
Romeo y Julieta Habano Reserve, Reserve Real and 1875
Arturo Fuente (including the Short Story)
H. Upman
Casa Magna
Partagas Black
Avo
Punch
Macanudo
Montecristo
Sancho Panza
Joya De Nicaragua
Rocky Patel 12 year Vintage
RP EDGE (robusto size 5X48 I think)
Cohiba
Acid
Oliva V, O and G series
Hoyo De Monterrey (Excalibur)
And a cuban seed house blend robusto and torpedo. The robusto is available in EMS or Maduor and I like the maduro bettter. It’s better constructed, not as strong but still a sweet, tasty maduro.

I’m not sure which NUB she’ll be bringing in but she’ll have those too. I’ve had those and they’re pretty good.

Most of the prices are lower than SF and I wonder if that’s due to taxes. The shop itself has to overcome ridding itself of the ghetto element so I understand they may be phasing out cigarette sales and some of the more less lucrative products that tend to attract the element as I call them, but Kathrine is determiend to give cigar smokers a place to call home.

She’ll be installing a TV soon in the lounge. I’ve been allowed to bring in alcohol under the “don’t act a fool” rule. My question is, once she rotates some of the stock out, what would you like to see in the humidor?

I’d like to see Padron, Cuesta Rey, Tatuaje, Punch Uppercut, along with an expansion of the RP line. How about you?

The shop is located at 14th and Franklin, close to 12th St. BART station. Come on down and enjoy a smoke!

Cheers!