Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Wild Ride Ends



As I mentioned in my last post.  Stay tuned its going to be a wild ride.  

Fortunately, during our trip to Auburn in the end of January,  we were able to find a house that we both fell in love with.  We moved into a 113 year old Victorian.  The home had been vacant for several months and as far as rent goes we got it for a steal. It is very different from the cookie cutter houses that Arizona is famous for.   

We arrived back in Arizona on Saturday night, and the fast and furious packing began.  It was during this moment that House of Emilio became the official cigar of cross country moves everywhere.



Monday we finished packing cleaned up the house for any prospective buyers and didn’t look back. I headed up to my mom’s and Rhea headed to the airport to pick up her Pop.  With Rhea’s health issues, she suffered a stroke in 2012 and suffers from TIA’s or mini strokes; he thought it best to have someone with her and our dog.

We pulled out Tuesday morning; the plan was to get as far east as Oklahoma City and stay ahead of winter storm that was hitting the Midwest and making its way to the Northeast . 
One of things I was sure to keep with me was my humidor.  So after a stop for a meal somewhere in Eastern Arizona this happened.


…and it was good.  

We had changed our route to stay towards the south to avoid this winter storm which nailed the Midwest.  I then tweeted that saying I was feeling a bit Nomadic.   Then somewhere in Arkansas, this happened



Then I ended up detouring 40 minutes the wrong direction.  

The final leg of the journey, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and NY I made solo.  Rhea stayed in Indiana until closer to the time the furniture arrived in Auburn.  O.K. i wasn't exactly alone, I had Rodrigo with me.  He was good company and kept relatively quiet for the rest of the journey.


Since arriving I have had the chance to enjoy ONLY one cigar.  I am currently in the process of stabilizing the humidor.  My Boveda packs are toast and I am waiting on an order to arrive that I placed thru Cigars International.
 

Gradually I have begun to check out the cigar scene here in Central New York and here’s what I discovered. There is a place here in town called A.T. Walley’s  who has a cigars for sale, but except twice a year, smoking is prohibited in the store.  The upside is that come summer you can enjoy your cigar outside when they set up their sidewalk cafĂ©!

I did stumble upon D’Angelo Cigars in Waterloo, NY.  I asked about Boveda Packs, Carmen knows what they were and went as far as to say he had just ordered them but didn’t know when he would have them.  I explained to him my plight of keeping my humidor stable and he cut of a piece of teak wood. He told me to soak it in distilled water and place it on top of the cigars.  At this point I am having to call BS on this the grand experiment.   The conversation continued and I can say that this man is fascinating to speak with.  He is the owner of the D'Angelo Santana Plantation in Tamboril, Dominican Republic.  Upon leaving I was given one of his house blends, which are rolled in the shop in Waterloo.  This cigar, pictured with the teak wood, it is  described as a medium fill. Consisting of the following types of tobaccos Piloto Cubano, Cubano Seco, Single Long Leaf, San Vicente Ligeto Criollo, Criollo 98 Ligero, Criollo 98 Seco, Olor Ligero, Olor Seco, and Connecticut, Summatra, Marduro blended short fillers.  This will sit in the humidor until it gets some age on it and then I must remember to cut it with a guillotine cutter, which has disappeared, and not a punch.


I plan on getting to know Carmen D’Angelo some more and I am sure I will have some interesting stories to tell you. 

So until next time
#KeepATightAsh

Sunday, February 2, 2014

House H(a)untings and Other Strange Things

Let me make one thing perfectly clear.  I am a pain in the ass to travel with.  Not sure if it stems from traveling in the time shortly after 9/11 but I am a pain in the ass to travel with.  Why? I follow the rules, I get there two hours before the flight etc. Now throw in a connecting flight or two and I become a royal pain in the ass!  

So we land in Philly to learn that we came in at the C Terminal and our connecting flight is departing from the F Terminal.  This involves taking a shuttle bus!  Bam stress level thru he roof!  Now here is a valuable travel tip, if one of youse is in wheel chair, it makes this part less stressful. As your entire party get preferential treatment. So now we head to the front of the line and make it to the F Terminal with 15-20 minutes to spare before we board.  Then it happens!  I see Tony Luke's and I have to have one.  No time for screwing around deciding what to get? We order at traditional size wit whiz, wit out (without onions), 7 minutes later we are hauling ass to the gate, and I have already chocked down my half of this delectable delight like I am Joey Chestnut, in food eatin contest, before I get to the Jetway!


So I also love small airports.  They are easy to navigate and less hassle. When you get to baggage your bags are there in a matter of minutes not what seems like hours.  The rental car counters are right behind baggage and the rental cars are in the parking garage outside the terminal. So we pick up the car and of all things our 2013 Chevy Impala has an Arizona license plate! Are ya kidding me?



We were fortunate to be introduced to Vickie and Peter Harris, who offered us the use of their lakeside cabin while we house h(a)unted.  This 760 sq ft cabin was awesome, and it even had wifi and cable! 



As I mentioned in my last post we have a short window to get things done. In fact, since I started at the Citizen on Friday , we really only had one day to find a home. Rhea took charge of the realtors!  And the third home we saw the h(a)unt wa over.  We jumped all over a Victorian that was built in 1900!  The home needs a little TLC and we are happy happy to provide that. And for all you idiots that said it's haunted. Nope, if a buyer asks, you have to disclose that sh*t!   We learned that from our realtor I. Auburn. The home is also located about 2 miles from my office...


So back to me being a pain In the ass to travel with.  We were flying out of Rochester, with a connecting flight in Philly, so we have turned in the rental car, checked our bags and we're  enjoying a bit of lunch. When I discovered that the inbound flight, that would be ou aircraft, was delayed and I went into royal pain in the ass mode. Then this arrived, smiled and then this conversation happened:


RW: Is that our plane?
JW: (looking over the top of my iPad) Yup
RW: I am not getting on a f*ckin prop plane
JW: (Not looking.up from my IPad) Technically babe, it's a turbo prop, and I don't think you have much of a choice!
Gate Agent: Now Boarding Zone 2

As I write this, on the plane back to Phoenix, I am trying to think of all that we need to accomplish in the next couple three days. Both the boy's their girlfriends, Kirk and Jen will be helping us load the uPack.  Well Jen is actually the supervisor.  I'm also grateful that Rhea's dad is going to make the journey with her in her car.  They will stop and spend some to time in a Greenwood, IN, while I go onto Auburn. Then when the delivery date of our belongings  and the time we take over the home on Perry Street gets closer she will join me in Auburn and her dad will go onto Boston.  

Oh I did manage to stumble upon AT Walley 7 Co., which is described as, a Martini and Cigar Bar  I will investigate further when I have more time but if this sign in the window is any indication Disneyland will no longer be the Happiiest Place on Earth for me! Well they do need some serious representation from House of Emilio, its an untapped market!


Until Next Time
#KeepATightAsh

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mr Toads Wild Ride and Other Things



Well, I told you in my last post that that "opportunities will be abundant" and to "stay tuned it's going to be a wild ride."  That wild ride is now in full swing as my wife  and I are in the process of selling our home and preparing to move 2,400 miles to upstate New York. That's right we are leaving the Valley of the Sun for Auburn, NY where I have accepted a position as the Advertising Director for Cayuga Media.  Cayuga Media, part of Lee Enterprises, publishes the Citizen, the Skaneateles Journal, and this Week in Cayuga County. I am looking forward to working for a true community newspaper that has been part of the community for almost 200 years.


So in between flying to NY, pre-employment paperwork and drug screens, and meeting with realtors and moving companies.  I managed to spend some time with, the National Sales Manager for House of Emilio, Nate McIntyre.

Ambassador Fine Cigars, hosted an event titled "Help Us Pick the Next Cigar in Our Humidor!"  The events were held at both locations and were very well attended.




On Sunday I opted for the Bodega Premium Blend Reunion Apertivo (Before Meal) and The Ezra Zion FHK (Fathers of Hoover and Kyle) two cigars I have been waiting, and waiting, and waiting for to arrive in Phoenix!

And at Wednesday's event I grabbed the Bodega Premium Blend Reunion Digestivo (After Meal)

All three of these cigars did not disappoint, but I am telling you that the fellas over at Bodega hit a walk off grand slam in their first at bat! Now which one of the two Bodega's did i like better?  I have to say the Apertivo simply because I love a Habano Wrapper.  I cant wait for the next release which I heard is a Connecticut Wrapper...

 I've also had some great cigars, courtesy of my wife, this year.  Starting with this RoMa Craft CroMagnon Mode 5 and this here Tatuaje Seleccion De Cazador Petite Robusto!


The next month is going to be a bit crazy, but at least my humidor is fully stocked...


For updates on the trip, follow me on twitter, @JRWeigand, I bet I can find a cigar lounge or two that will be willing to host a weary traveler

Until Next Time #KeepATightAsh


Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy New Year from the Hillbilly Hilton

Another year has come and gone, and to be quite frank, I am glad to see 2013 pushed out the door. 

Granted 2013 was a banner year for the cigar industry. New brands entered the market, a few old Cuban brands were resurrected, and the first commercial flight, in 50 years,  made the 90 mile journey to Havana from Key West Florida.

Who knows what 2014 will hold.  New opportunities will be abundant. Stay tuned its going to be a wild ride.

My first cigar in the New Year turned out to be a great disappointment!   I had been eying this cigar for the better part of two, maybe three, years and this year when I was on Maui, for Thanksgiving,I picked up an Island Prince Dark from the Kauai Cigar Company. Price-point being a factor I picked up the 42 x 4 1/2 Luana Iki meaning Short Pause for Please in Hawaiian, which has a single stick price of $9.99. 


Here's what intrigued me about this cigar.  The filler is a sun grown tobacco that is grown on Kauai.  After harvesting and curing tobacco, which is to become the filler,  is  then shipped to Nicaragua  where the manufacturing process is completed at a "small and personal factory."

The Island Prince Dark boasts a Habano wrapper and is touted as the fuller bodied, most complex, of the two cigars in the this line.

Unfortunately I found that this cigar was not complex at all and actually had no flavor profile. We'll see maybe next year I will try one of the other lines that Kauai Cigar has in its portfolio, but there is no need to run out and buy a box of the Island Prince.

Finally, like all cigar aficionados, at year end I go through my dossier or journal and highlight my top 10 cigars of the year. My top ten cigars are ones that I enjoyed from 1/1/2013 – 11/30/2013, The order is random, very random, and in the interest of full disclosure I am the Arizona Disseminator for House of Emilio, distributors of Emilio Cigars, Herederos de Robaina, Rodrigo, Guayacan Cigars, 1502 Cigars (GPC), Ezra Zion, Nomad, and Bodega Premium Blends.  My “affiliation” with House of Emilio in no way influenced the outcome of this list.  So without further delay here are my top cigars for 2013.
  • Ezra Zion Tantrum Prensado Pequeno*
  • Davidoff Nicaraguan Puro Short Corona
  • Tatuaje 10th Anniversary Perfecto
  • Nomad EstelĂ­ LE 1386 Toro*
  • Ortega Wild Bunch Fast Eddie Lancero
  • Nomad S-307 Toro*
  • Room 101 Master Collection One Mutante Lancero
  • Guayacan Habano Ecuador Toro*
  • Davidoff Club House Toro
  • Regius Seleccion Orchant Robusto LE
Honorable Mention
  • Psyko 7 Robusto
  • San Cristobal Revelation by Ashton Robusto
  • Azan Natural Maduro Robusto
  • Fratello Robusto
  • Esteban Carreras Chupa Cabra Robusto Grande
Bear in mind there no rhyme or reason to this list except these are the cigars that I enjoyed them once and in the following weeks or months I made a point to find more.

So there you have my first cigar of 2014, and my Top Cigars of 2013

I wish each and every one of you all the very best for a happy and healthy 2014.

JRW

*House of Emilio brand


Sunday, December 15, 2013

I Am Clearly A Slacker

So its been just over two months since my last blog post and its taken me two weeks to finish this post!  Its been a bit crazy around the Scottsdale/Phoenix Metro Area. Of course been able to try most of the stuff that was ordered from the IPCPR show back in July. I am not going to bore you with everything that I smoked since my last post of September 29th.

I was given the opportunity to test, a new cigar brand call Azan.  Azan is the brainchild of  Roberto Duran, a long respected figure in the cigar industry, who has held several positions with Pacific Cigar Company Ltd. The brand Azan is actually an old, privately owned Cuban brand that was started by a Chinese immigrant and who is also an ancestor of Durans wife. The brand disappeared after the Revolution, when Fidel Castro nationalized the cigar industry, and was reintroduced to the United States at this years IPCPR as a Nicaraguan brand.

I received one each, from Gabriel Pinares at Captiva PR, of the Burgundy Short Robusto and the White Label Robusto. There is also a third blend, a Natural Maduro.  That is a fantastic cigar, which I purchased shortly I learned of the brand through various cigar publications and I continue to enjoy this paricular blend . In the Phoenix Metro Area you can find the Azan line, except the Burgundy, at Ambassador Fine Cigars in Scottsdale Arizona.



The Burgundy  is priced at $3-4 per stick, which is perfect for cigar smokers on a budget, and was designed to be a daily smoke or go to cigar.  I used a punch on this and found the cigar to burn evenly with a fairly tight ash, with an even burn that required no touch-ups. Unfortunately I did not care for this cigar I found it one dimensional, lacking complexity

The White Label, is priced in the $6-8 range which I consider, to be the sweet spot as far as price point.  The binder, filler and wrapper of this cigar is higher grade of tobacco than what is in the Burgundy.  The difference in the tobacco is clearly evident as is companies commitment to quality construction. This cigar is much more complex than the Burgundy with notes of  pepper, cocoa with some caramel in the first 2/3 of this cigar. The final third the sweetness begins to fade, pepper and some earthy notes appear on the finish.  Since smoking the cigar for review, I have also purchased more of this cigar, and it is now in my daily rotation.

----------------

October was a good month to be a Cigar Smoker in Phoenix, Fox Cigar Bar kicked it off with its second annual Foxtoberfest that included visits from Eddie Ortega, Rafael Nodel from Oliveros/Swag and Aging Room, Clint Aaron of 262 Cigars, Matt Booth from Room 101, Wes Thornton from Crowned Heads Four Kicks and Terrance Reilly from Quesada, Lito Gomez from LFD Cigars and Jose" Hurricane" Ortega from My Father Cigar all made appearance. Some went as far as creating a special blend for this event.

November was equally exciting as Janny Garcia, Peter Johnson, Jose Ortega,  KC Johnson and Dan Welsh (from L'Atelier and New Havana Cigars)  made their way to Phoenix.  They were in town primarily for an event at Ambassador Cigars that is destined to become an annual event here in the Phoenix Metro Area.


Fine Ash Cigars held a private, invite only, meet and greet for about 20 of their friends and I was honored to have received an invite.  Rosie and Sam, know how to throw an event and with the help of Eric and Jamie Parkinson, of Smoke Boutique Cigars, and Joel Schwartz of Trendsetters Marketing Group, this gathering was a huge success.

December 4th, in NYC, the Nat Sherman Townhouse hosted the launch party of Bodega Premium Blends. I also received an nvitation to the launch and would have loved to have been there but previous commitments precluded me from attending.

Bodega Premium Blends was started by four friends from Canada Gino Domanico, Ron Plante, Stephane Barjolin, and Rob Mariani. The first release is their signature line called the Reunion and is manufactured in Nicaragua.  The distribution of this cigar is thru House of Emilio, a company that I am vaguely familiar with and I am also writing a "monthly column" for their website.  http://bpbcigars.com and you can read my posts here http://bpbcigars.com/author/jrweigand/

Until time, #KeepATightAsh

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Weekend Getaways, Staycations and Cigars

Couple of notes about this blog! I am not a writer/journalist nor do I claim to be. I do not work for a industry magazine.  I am simply a guy who likes cigars. It is for this reason I do not get into, nor do I care to play in world of in depth reviews of the cigars I smoke.  I'll leave that to guys like Brooks Whittington, Patrick Lagreid, and David Savona. Get It? Got It? Good!  So as my good friend Algernon Quattlebaum used to say "Let us move on..."

We are into monsoon season here in the PHX, and everyone is a while lead to a killer photo opp.  This was accidentally created with the help of the window tint at the top of my windshied. 
 

It seems that this was the year of the big ring gauge but I'm seeing something a bit different.  7-20-4, Room 101, and  Ezra Zion , have all come out with small cigars that with big flavors.  These cigars, the Dog Walker, Namakubi Ecuador, and Tantrum,  are great when you are short on time.  See what I did there...?




A few weeks back I got an email, from PR firm in Miami, wanting to know I if would be interested in reviewing a new cigar.  The Azan from Roberto Duran Premium Cigars.  I bit and sent my information.  I know, technically, I am not a member of the cigar media. but it is what it is. 

This cigar is another brand that has been resurrected and the back story is very cool.   Azan was an old, privately owned Cuban brand started by a Chinese immigrant, in the 1920's, before Fidel Castro nationalized the industry. It disappeared after the Revolution, but is now back as a Nicaraguan brand, restarted this year by Roberto Pelayo Duran, who's wife is a descendant of the original founder.

Azan comes in three varieties: White Premium, Burgundy and Maduro Natural.  who suggested that I go with  the Natural Maduro.  It was a terrific smoke that was fairly complex. Again see what I did there



A couple of weeks ago my wife called,with a brilliant idea, a staycation/weekend getaway at local resort.  Rhea checked in that afternoon, and I arrived after work...
 

Here's a valuable piece of advice for when you visit Scottsdale   BRING YOUR OWN STICKS! If you forget, or if your Cuban stash ends up in the hands of the US Customs Department, there are plenty of shops within a short drive of the many fine resorts in town.


As I said in earlier posts new product, that made its debut at the IPCPR, is still arriving in the local shops.  Andrew Hopkins from Ye Olde Pipe and Tobacco pointed this one out.  Well priced,at $4.95, is the Cubita Robusto Nouveau. This cigar is manufactured in the Dominican Republic at Matasa and is a Manuel Quesada product.  This cigar is now in my regular rotation.



Here's something I hadn't seen before the Nomad Fugitive Perfecto,  Love this Vitola and this Cigar!  Can't wait to see what Fred comes up with next...Oh yeah, waiting rather impatiently for the S-307!



The Crossfire Habano Perfecta was a gift from Ryan and Cigars and Scriptures.  This 6 x 60 had some great flavors, but had an extremely tight draw. Others that smoked that smoked this cigar didnt have this challenge and I'll give it another try.  Once again see what I did there.  

The company also has an awesome mission and vision statement that is worth sharing

"To create jobs, value people and empower the community while crafting great handmade premium cigars.  To passionately craft high quality hand rolled premium cigars at an affordable price."
 


Another new cigar line to hit the shelves at Goodfellas is from La Hoja Cigar Company. I will swear that this was a Nicaraguan blend, but nope its a Dominican Puro that smokes wonderfully. Yes I "V" cut a torpedo!

This is a another company with a cool back story. The family, led by Sr. Carlos Flores, was a prominent member of the peoples revolution against Castro and were forced to flee the country the 1960's.   His son Carlos Flores Jr., has created the company La Hoja Cigar Company and this first blend, or collection, is the the La Hoja De Flores. The line also serves as a tribute to Carlos Sr.


No doubt about it the folks at My Fathers Cigars, make a terrific cigar. In fact some say they rival the flavor and character of a Cuban Cigar.  This My Fathers Don Pepin Garcia Series JJ is one of those cigars. Simply put its a nice full-bodied smoke that is layered with deep flavors.  And oh by the way it's  handmade in Miami!
 

Its no secret I am wound tighter than a eight day clock. My wife decided we needed to get out of town. So we headed up to Sedona....which is about 2 hours north of us.  A leisurely day spent wondering downtown Sedona, strolling along Oak Creek,  it was just what the doctor ordered.





And speaking of doctors, Get Well Soon George!  Your Rodrigo La Fortaleza loved Oak Creek! 


Til next time #KeepATightAsh....





Friday, August 23, 2013

The Next Chapter of My Life

It is said that all good things must come to an end.  After 12 years in the newspaper industry, on the advertising side of house, it is time for a change.  Two weeks ago I was offered and accepted an position with Voice Media Group the owners and publishers of the Phoenix New Times and 11 other publications throughout the country.  I have gone to the dark side, the world of digital, that's right SEO, SEM, Local Search (mobile and tablet), Social Media, and Re-targeting. I am looking forward to the challenge and not being bound to deadlines.

Oh and what did I smoke for the celebratory cigar? The Ezra Zion Reagan!


 The 7-20-4 Dog Walker is a petite corona with tons of flavor.


7-20-4  also has a cool back story that ends with the resurrection of a brand once owned by the RG Sullivan Cigar Company.  At its height the company claimed to be the countries largest producer of 10 cent cigars. The cigars were handmade, the filler was pure Havana tobacco with a Sumatra wrapper. According to a story in Time Magazine, the name 7-20-4 supposedly came from the numbers of a winning lottery ticket that RG Sullivan used to start the business. 



In 1963 the company closed; two years after being sold to a company who moved production to Scranton, PA.  An official from RG Sullivan essentially blamed Castro who's "regime has made increasingly difficult for us to secure Havana tobacco, which is, and always will be and important part of the 7-20-4 and Dexter Cigars made by the company"

The building was never sold and in 2008 Kurt Kendall, who owns the rights to the 7-20-4 brand, announced plans to market a modern version.

The week after the #IPCPR new cigars started to roll into our local B&M's.    The newest line to the humidor, at Goodfellas Cigar Lounge,  is distributed by Kuuts (Koots).  John Gonzales, National Sales Director for Kuuts (pronounced Koots), joined us at Goodfellas Cigar Lounge, for the Arizona Launch Party for the Placeres Reserva, Miro and Tabacalera Zapata.  These Cigars have been a top selling cigar in Europe for over a decade.   A new factory in Honduras, has given the company the manufacturing capacity to produce more cigars allow them to bring these cigars to the US for the time in its history. 

The Placeres Reserva, pictured below, starts out on the mild side of the spectrum and works it way to solid medium bodied smoke.  I do think the cigar would benefit from some time in a humidor.



This past Sunday my wife and I went out for some breakfast, and we ended up at the Brass Armadillo Antique Mall in Goodyear.  I stumbled upon a few cigar boxes for sale, nothing really special until I found this....a Cigar Box, from Don Raphael, with 10 Cigars still in cello for $14.95.  Some quick research Google and Twitter, found that the box of 20 retails for under $30, so I passed.  I'll keep looking and maybe, just maybe, I will find that hidden gem. A pre-embargo Cuban cigar.


And somewhere along the way, I paid cash for something, and got this bill back in my change...



My last week at the West Valley View  I was busy transitioning my clients to their new account executive.  Wednesday I took some time for myself and I spent an hour, or so, with Sam over at Fine Ash Cigar.  I picked up this El Triunfador from Pete Johnson and Don Pepin Garcia, this cigar was originally released in 2008 with a Connecticut Broadleaf Wrapper, however the current release uses an Ecuadorian Habano Wrapper.  This cigar starts out medium bodied and works its way up to full bodied smoke that is very complex. 





Monday brings new challenges, new colleagues, and a few old colleagues.  Until next time #KeepATightAsh