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Cigar Tip: Check Out the Adorini Black Slate Deluxe L Humidor

27 Mar 2014

When it comes to style, most humidors are pretty much the same: stained wood, the occasional glass-top, and brass trimmings. That’s why, with it’s grey slate stone exterior, the Adorini Black Slate Deluxe L stands apart from the crowd.

 humidor1

In fact, I’ve had one on display for a few months while I tested it out and more than once I had someone ask me what it was, because it doesn’t look like any humidor you’ve probably seen before. As noted in the Cigar Aficionado‘s write up of the same humidor (one of three other sites that have recently written about this humidor, but the only to not to say if they received it free to write about from Humidor Discount), the slate can even double as a chalk board – even though I’m not sure it befits such a stylish cigar storage unit.

I don’t claim to be an expert on interior design, but it occurs to me that stylistically this is a versatile humidor. It goes equally well in a dark-stained wood and leather decor as it would in a more modern, minimalist style.

There’s no doubt it’s a sharp looking but frankly, I’m more interested in how it keeps my cigars. After three months, there’s no question that it keeps them well, as the seal is perfect.

While larger (you could comfortably store over 100-125 cigars) than the Adorini humidor my colleague tested out last year, the basics are mostly the same. It holds humidity very well and has more than a few notable features that make it function better than most humidors. (more…)

Cigar Tip: Your Guide to Winning Free Cigars with NCAA Bracket Pools

19 Mar 2014

Thursday marks the start of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, the only time of year where sports gambling and scoreboard watching seem to be acceptable in the American workplace. (Personally, I think this may be the year Arizona gets the job done, as long as they can hit their free throws. Or you can ask Nate Silver.)

But it’s not just me. Everyone seems to be an expert handicapper for March Madness. Fortunately, now you can prove it. Only instead of running our own bracket and giving you a handful of cigars, we’re pointing you in the direction of several free-to-enter NCAA pools where your good picks can earn you boxes of free cigars:

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Know of other free-to-enter NCAA pools where you can win cigars? Let us know in the comments.

-Patrick S

photo credit: N/A

Cigar Tip: Five Green Cigars for St. Patrick’s Day

11 Mar 2014

I’ll be honest. I’m not a huge fan of green-colored candela cigars. For the most part, I smoke them for the same reason that I drink green beer: Because it’s fun once a year. (That’s why I’m updating last year’s list of St. Patrick’s Day smokes.)

It’s not that candela cigars are bad, it’s just that I’ve yet to find a candela that’s better than the same blend with a traditional wrapper (and the cigars below are no exception). That’s probably why candela cigars make up a fraction of one percent of the premium cigar market, and a proportional percentage of my cigar purchases.

And yet it wasn’t always that way. Green candela wrappers were once very popular with American cigar smokers. So much so that candela wrapper leafs—which go through a special quick and hot fermentation process that locks in the green color—were once known as “American Market Selection,” as opposed to more traditional brown “English Market Selection” wrappers.

If you’re thinking about trying a candela, St. Patrick’s Day is as good a time to take the plunge. Unlike last year, we’re giving you a full week to track one down before you break out the Guinness and Jameson, which is a good thing since they can be tough to find. To that end, here’s a quick rundown of some of the green cigars available:

Black Market Filthy Hooligan by Alec Bradley — First released last year, it’s back with a wrapper that’s a year older. It features the same blend as the regular Black Market (Panamanian and Honduran filler with a Sumatra binder) coupled with a candela wrapper. If you like the regular Black Market cigar, this is your best bet.

Illusione Candela — Illusione makes it’s original blend (Nicaraguan binder and filler) with candela in a few sizes. Back in 2011 when it first came out, we found the 88 size to be a pleasant smoke with tea and plenty of sweet flavors, and lacking the bitterness that sometimes characterizes candela cigars.

Viaje WLP St. Patrick’s Day — Last year was it’s third annual release, but there doesn’t seem to be a 2014 version. I smoked a few of the 2012 edition, which features the brightest candela wrapper I’ve ever seen, and found that it equaled the Illusione as my favorite candela. It also has the brightest green wrapper of the bunch.

Don Tomás Candela — My colleague reviewed this candela with some skepticism when the company claimed it was the result of three bales of candela wrappers that had been “lost” for 18 years. Ultimately, though, he found it to be a “respectable” smoke with enjoyable flavors, even if it wasn’t destined to be a regular in his rotation.

Fuente 8-5-8 Candela — Fuente’s regular line is known for smooth, mild flavors produced by Dominican binder and filler tobaccos. I smoked one of these with a candela wrapper a few years back and recall just that: a mild, balanced smoke with a hint of classic grassy candela flavors.

-Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Tip: Three Suggestions for More Enjoyment

20 Jan 2014

Enjoying a cigar takes no special skill. That’s one of the things that makes it such a wonderful pastime. But there are things you can do—and not do—that will help increase your smoking pleasure. Here are three tips for just that reason.

Cigar1. I would pay attention to your surroundings and circumstances so you can select the right cigar for the occasion. Of course, a great cigar is, pretty much, always a great cigar. But if you’re otherwise occupied while you’re smoking one, much of that greatness is likely to be lost or never found. A subtle, complex cigar, for instance, doesn’t stand much of a chance if you’re puffing in a smoke-filled casino.

2. Do a little research before choosing a new cigar. These days, with tablets and smartphones, it’s easy to look into the tobacco composition and read a review or two, even when you’re standing in a humidor. This was driven home to me recently when, after hearing several people comment favorably about the PIO Resurrection, I tried one. I was impressed at the start but soon encountered what I can only describe as the nearly unmistakable taste of dirt I associate with Mexican tobacco. Sure enough, I checked and found it sports the ubiquitous San Andres wrapper and some Mexican filler. Not a bad cigar, but not one I’d have chosen if I’d looked before I lit.

3. Take a good look. Creating handmade cigars is a remarkable achievement and every aspect of the craft is worth attention. Notice how evenly the seams are on the wrapper, how the shading matches among those lined up in a box, how the cap is applied, etc. Some bands are extraordinary for their ornateness, such as Ashton’s San Cristobal. Occasionally, simply glance around the humidor at your favorite B&M and marvel at the incredible array and selection from which you can choose.

Feel free to visit our Cigar University for many more tips.

-George E

photo credit: Flickr

Cigar Tip: Look Sharp, Stay Sharp

10 Dec 2013

I’m a long-time Xikar enthusiast, having bought my first cutter at a local shop nearly a decade ago. It’s a Xi2 Malachite Green model with the German Solingen blades. I’ve cut hundreds of cigars with it, including the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial I’m enjoying as I type.

xikarThe blades appear every bit as sharp as they were the first time I used it. But lately I had begun to notice that the clipping action wasn’t as smooth as before. I wiped it down, blew in it, tapped it gently on my palm. Nothing seemed to have an effect. The stickiness was more of a mild annoyance than a real impediment, and I would promptly forget after I’d used it.

The other day, though, I remembered it for some reason as I was sitting at my computer. I looked on Xikar’s site and found the contact form. I knew that with Xikar’s warranty they would make it right, but I wanted first to be sure that if I sent it in I could get my cutter back and not risk receiving a replacement for my old friend.

Within a day, I heard back from a Xikar employee. She attached a form for returning the Xi and said I should note clearly that I wanted the cutter returned rather than replaced should repair be impossible.

The next part of her email, however, was what really got my attention. She suggested that a bit of do-it-yourself maintenance might solve the problem:

“We recommend that you periodically clean and lubricate the locking/opening mechanism on XI cutters and knives. Simply place a couple of drops of a quality graphite lubricant (such as Tuf Glide or Lock Ease) in the mechanism, and operate the unit for deep penetration. Wipe away excess lubricant when finished. The locking mechanism of XI cutters can be accessed through the hole that appears above the release button when the cutter is open.” (I have to confess that if I’d been just a bit sharper myself I could have checked the FAQ page on the site and found the helpful hint.)

I dug out a little squeeze bottle of Lock Ease I’ve had forever and applied a couple of drops as directed, then wiped it off and set it aside for a while to allow the graphite odor to dissipate.

Bingo! When I picked it up and pushed the button the wings virtually flew open. They closed just as smoothly. My old Xikar is as good as new.

-George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Tip: Three on the Low End

5 Dec 2013

With the holidays cutting into the budget for discretionary spending, it seems a good time to consider some enjoyable cigars that can help you stretch your dollars. Here are three I’ve enjoyed and found consistent through several smokes.

5centRed Witch: This three-vitola line from Gurkha’s East India Trading Co. is a box-pressed bargain. I prefer the Toro (6 x 54) that runs about $5. It’s a slow-burning, tasty treat with an Ecuadorian Rosado wrapper, Dominican binder, and Nicaraguan filler. It starts with a peppery blast, downshifts to a medium-strength earthy flavor, and picks up some spice in the final half.

Asylum 13: At $5, the Robusto (5 x 50) in this Nicaraguan puro line from Christian Eiroa is a natural for anyone who enjoys a strong, spicy cigar. It’s also more complex than you have a right to expect at that price. And if you’re a fan of big ring gauges, Asylum 13 has you covered with a 6 x 60 and a 7 x 70 at $6 and $7, respectively.

Partagas 1845: A line extension of General Cigar’s standard Partagas cigars, the 1845 sports tobacco from several countries including filler aged in rum barrels and an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper in place of the standard Partagas Cameroon. The Double Corona (7.25 x 54) is under $5, with the Robusto (5.5 x 49) even less. As you’d expect from the cigar giant, these are consistent with first-rate construction. A tasty, medium-strength stick that will likely surprise you if you haven’t had one.

-George E

photo credit: Flickr

Cigar Tip: Don’t Brush This Off

2 Dec 2013

Here’s a cigar suggestion you might not have heard: change your toothpaste.

ToothpasteChances are you’re using a conventional toothpaste in a tube that contains a sodium-based chemical known as a surfactant. It’s the ingredient that makes toothpaste—and a host of other products from detergents to surfboard wax—spread better and helps create toothpaste’s foam.

I don’t know of anything wrong with these chemicals or any potential danger from using them. But they can mess up your taste buds, sometimes reducing the ability to experience sweetness and making bitterness more intense. How intense the disruption is, and how long it lasts, seem to vary among individuals and use.

Let me confess that my knowledge is based mainly on reading and my own experience, and I’m surely no expert. So I need to add a disclaimer. I’m not a dentist or a doctor and have never even played one on TV. So, before you do anything, you might want to consult with your health professional.

Finding a toothpaste or powder without surfactants, the most common of which in toothpaste go by the abbreviations SLS and SLES, is pretty simple. Just do a Google search and by the time you type “toothpaste without” you’ll start to see responses.

I switched a while back to Dr. Christopher’s Herbal Tooth & Gum Powder at the suggestion of my dental hygienist. It’s an all-natural product, and I should note that while I like it, some dislike the taste. Perhaps the most widely known toothpaste without SLS is sold under the Tom’s of Maine label.

I’ve never thought I had a particularly good set of taste buds—or olfactory receptors, for that matter. I think switching to Christopher’s Powder has helped, though I couldn’t say how much. See what switching does for you.

-George E

photo credit: Flickr