• 262 Cigars Enters Bundle Market With Peacefield
    262 CIGARS ENTERS BUNDLE MARKET WITH PEACEFIELD 262 Cigars Enters Bundle Market With Peacefield

    262 Cigars has announced that it is entering into the world of bundle cigars with Peacefield, a new line that will be shipping to retailers on May 5. It’s the first bundle to bear the 262 Cigars name, and the tobacco inside comes from the trimmings of the company’s core lines, with Nicaraguan binders used on all the cigars and a mix of fillers. “We really feel this cigar will strike a chord with folks who are looking for an everyday cigar that they can smoke on the golf course, on a camping trip, tackling a honey-do list, or even share with their friends,” said Clint Aaron of 262 Cigars via a press release. Peacefield is being released with three Nicaraguan wrapper options — a Connecticut, habano and maduro — with each option available in a 6 x 50 toro or 7 x 50 Churchill vitola and bearing a band to indicate the particular wrapper.
    262 Cigars Enters Bundle Market With Peacefield

    They are being made at Tabacalera Carreras in Estelí, Nicaragua, and Aaron told halfwheel that they will be part of the company’s regular production offerings and continually available to retailers. Peacefield’s MSRP is set at $60 and $70 per bundle of 20 cigars respectively for the toro and Churchill sizes, and retailers who bring in the line will be able to display them in a branded tray for those who wish to purchase singles.
    262 Cigars Enters Bundle Market With Peacefield

    http://halfwheel.com/262-cigars-enters-bundle-market-with-peacefield. Copyright 2015.

  • So you just closed your first big deal and it's time to celebrate. Your boss invites you upstairs to the boardroom where the executives are lined up at the long oak conference table, premium cigars by their sides to mark the occasion. One by one they light up, oaky musks wafting, and finally it's your turn to spark your earthy blend. There's just one problem—you're totally clueless. "The smoking is supposed to be the fun part," said Michael Herklots, world-class tobacconist and VP of retail and brand development at Nat Sherman, a cigar emporium in midtown Manhattan. "The last thing you want to do is fumble — to light or cut the wrong end." How does one avoid these fatal flubs? We sat down with Herklots to find out the best ways to prove your worth when it comes time to lighting up the celebratory Maduro.
    How To Smoke A Cigar Without Looking Like A Total Amateur

    Choose the right "beginner" cigar. Bigger isn't better. While the head honchos in the boardroom will be smoking heavier blends, it's important for you not to overdo it and cough up a storm. There's nothing wrong with choosing a premium mild cigar. Your bosses will respect you more for knowing what you want and not guessing blindly. That's where things can get dicey, says Herklots. "The biggest mistake new cigar smoker make is in the format they pick," he says. "New smokers tend to smoke something shorter, thinner, and overall, smaller. The problem with this is that the shorter a cigar is, the closer the hot part is to your mouth. It gets hotter faster, which is not a pleasant experience if you're starting out." Herklots makes an analogy here to using a regular straw versus a cocktail straw. With a regular straw, you have a wide cylinder with a long body that allows you to draw substance out over a longer period of time. If you use a cocktail straw, on the other hand, the experience is more aggressive and concentrated. The same goes for cigars. A long, fat cigar is a milder, cooler, and longer-lasting cigar. A shorter one is an intense experience better enjoyed by veteran smokers.
    How To Smoke A Cigar Without Looking Like A Total Amateur

    Cut your cigar, but don't overdo it. Here's a simple trick for getting it done: All hand-rolled cigars are closed off with a cap to ensure that they don't unravel and dry out. Removing this cap is essential to a good smoke, and there are a few ways to do so, none of which are wrong. Herklots, though, recommends the straight cut made by a guillotine cutter. A tip he shared with us involves laying the cutter flat down on a surface and then bringing the two blades in and clipping the head. By placing the guillotine on its belly, smokers can ensure they don't over-cut the cigar. Trying to smoke an uncut cigar is a sure-fire way to make a fool of yourself. You want to make sure you get your cigar cut, whatever the method may be.

    Use the right kind of lighter. Keep that Zippo in your pocket. You've mastered the cut and now it's time for the easy part: the light. While tobacconist Michael Herklots stresses the importance of just getting the cigar lit and ignoring expert nuances, he stresses the importance of avoiding one glaring mistake: using the incorrect type of lighter. Wooden matches are desirable. butane lighters work, but Zippos do not. Herklots warns that you DO NOT, under any circumstances, want to introduce foreign substances into your cigar. This will greatly affect the taste and your bosses will look at you askew if they see you flipping open your Zippo, about to ruin the $40 cigar they just handed you. The best strategy is to ask for a match box, take two matches, and then light them against the striker. Once this is done, place the cigar in your mouth and delicately puff on it while lighting the uncut end. With your free hand, rotate the cigar so it doesn't light unevenly. When the outer rim of tobacco begins to glow, you're good. Blow out the match and start shaking a few hands.

    Finally, it's time to smoke. Remember: A cigar is not a cigarette. You will learn quickly that cigars are not meant to be inhaled. If you make the mistake of doing so, you will surely be met by a maelstrom of coughing and wheezing. This, let us warn you, is quite embarrassing. Those around you will know you don't share their sacred hobby. "You need to get used to the act of drawing and expelling without inhaling and exhaling," says Herklots. "Once you get it, it's about practice, but this is a hell of a lot more fun to practice than other things." Experts have mastered the breathing and exhalation patterns, but you don't need to be a connoisseur to learn how to do it the right way. Cigars are about taste, and to best appreciate their flavors, you need to draw slowly and infrequently, a few times per minute. Then, swirl around what you've taken in and let it reach the back of your mouth before gently expelling it. This way your whole mouth experiences the act.
    How To Smoke A Cigar Without Looking Like A Total Amateur

    Have an opinion. And learn the lingo. Even if you're not the most experienced smoker, your superiors will still appreciate your attention to detail and perspicacity when smoking. How does the cigar taste for you? Does it change taste as it's smoked? How is the smoke acting on your palate? "Taste is the most popular way to talk about cigars, and there's no wrong answer," says Herklots. Cigars can be described by their strength, from mellow to strong, and their bodies, which Herklots describes as the taste when the smoke hits your palate.

    Ask questions. Your bosses will appreciate your interest in their hobby and their smoking experience, and it shows them you want to learn a bit more. Ask them the origins of their blend — where are the filler and binder from? What about the wrapper? Ask if they prefer Maduros to Claros (brownie points if you know these are wrapper types), or a Torpedo to a Robusto (cigar shapes). Just don't be pedantic. This is a hobby for these guys. Unless you're in their circle, let them do the heavy lifting.

    Put out your cigar and call it a night. With the deal closed and the cigar almost half-way smoked, you may want to put it out and call it a night. There's no shame in this; just don't treat the cigar like a half-eaten hamburger. You can't just doggy bag it. Once it's done, it's done. So if you find yourself finished, politely let the cigar burn out in the ashtray (don't demolish the wrapper and reveal its insides — this looks sloppy). Then, try to schedule another smoking session with the higher ups. Chances are if you didn't embarrass yourself by lighting the wrong end or wheezing till no end, they'll want to invite you into their cigar cadre.

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-smoke-a-cigar-2014-12#ixzz3bRGnAOuj. Copyright 2015.

  • On Sunday night one of TV's hottest shows, "The Walking Dead," returns to AMC for its midseason premiere, the first of eight episodes to close out season five. As many as 17 million people have tuned in at one time to watch the gripping post-apocalyptic show, which features a talented cast battling for survival in a world overrun by the undead. Michael Cudlitz, a cigar-loving actor who plays the character Abraham Ford, joined the show in season four. "I was a fan of the show before I was on it," Cudlitz told Cigar Aficionado last week while puffing an Arturo Fuente Hemingway during a phone interview. "Every waking moment of every day, the stakes are life and death. That makes it easier to play. Your motivation is clear."
    Talking Cigars With Michael Cudlitz of "The Walking Dead"

    In "The Walking Dead," where the scrambling survivors embark on a constant fight for shelter and food in a world gone mad, there's no time for most of life's pleasures, including cigars. Cudlitz, who turned 50 in December, has yet to light up on screen in this series. He came to cigars in a previous job, playing Denver "Bull" Randleman in the classic HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers," which aired in 2001. Randleman seemed to have a cigar clamped in his jaws in every scene. "I had never smoked before that," Cudlitz says. But he quickly showed the makings of a budding aficionado when he puffed on the cigars bought by the prop department, cheap machine-made smokes that didn't appeal to him. Hoping for something better, he took matters into his own hands, traveling to a high-end cigar store in England (where the show was filmed) and asking for guidance. He bought Cuban Churchills, cut each one into thirds, and used the stubs as props for the show. He smoked the way a soldier in the field would in the days of World War II, stealing time for a puff here or there and making the remnant last as long as possible. "I would light the ends, let it go out, and one of those things could last me up to a week and a half," he says. "Cigars were so integral to [Randleman's] life. They were important in his portrayal." Those Cuban cigar stubs lit a fire and grew into a deep-found appreciation for fine cigars that Cudlitz carries to this day.

    "It's my little haven," Cudlitz says of cigar smoking. He counts Olivas and Fuentes among his favorites, which he tends to pair with a good whiskey, such as Woodford Reserve, Blanton's Bourbon, or Bulleit rye. He enjoys a cigar, he says, a few times a week, and he even made it to the Big Smoke Las Vegas back in 2002. Cudlitz takes his acting craft seriously, especially the work on "Band of Brothers." "There is nothing more important, work-wise, than what I did with 'Band of Brothers,' " he says. He met Randleman and spent time with the man he portrayed before his death in 2003. "Denver was an amazing man," he says, speaking with reverence about the veterans he and others brought to life on screen. "What they did," he says, "was amazing." Cudlitz is mum about what lies in store over the next two months for Abraham Ford and the rest of "The Walking Dead" cast. Unlike his character, who spends each day walking through a living hell struggling to survive, Cudlitz is counting his blessings. "I just keep hitting the lottery," he says of his roles.

    http://www.cigaraficionado.com/webfeatures/show/id/Talking-Cigars-With-Michael-Cudlitz-of-The-Walking-Dead-17984. Copyright 2015.

  • As any cigar aficionado will tell you, cigars are a hobby, not a habit. And like any hobby, there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. We reached out to Michael Herklots, vice president for retail and brand development for the Nat Sherman cigar brand, and asked him what true connoisseurs avoid while smoking cigars. Whether you're a beginner or an expert, keep reading to see the seven worst mistakes that you can make while lighting up.
    7 Things You'll Never See A Real Cigar Smoker Do

    Mistake No. 1: Expecting two cigars to smoke the same. Premium cigars are a handmade product created from an agricultural crop. Since so much variation can occur with the blends used, types of tobacco, and how the cigars were made, it's next to impossible to predict how a cigar will smoke with 100% certainty, according to Herklots. Real cigar aficionados know this and embrace these small variations. You should too.
    7 Things You'll Never See A Real Cigar Smoker Do

    Mistake No. 2: Thinking that cigar flavors change from year to year, like wines. Cigars are a nonvintage industry, which means cigar manufacturers try to ensure their cigar offerings taste the same from year to year. They add to and tinker with their tobacco blends, always trying to make sure the blend maintains the same taste while accounting for natural variation. Over time, the taste of the cigar model will change, but very slowly. According to Herklots, the difference is negligible in the short term.
    7 Things You'll Never See A Real Cigar Smoker Do

    Mistake No. 3: Holding the cigar in your mouth. A cigar isn't something t0 "clench between your teeth and cheek and suck on," Herklots says. It should be held in your hand and brought up to your mouth to puff, then brought back down to hang out between your fingers. This also helps the cigar burn cooler, so you don't waste any precious tobacco.
    7 Things You'll Never See A Real Cigar Smoker Do

    Mistake No. 4: Dipping the cigar in alcohol. The flavor of the liquor can ruin the taste of the cigar and make it different from what the cigar manufacturer intended. "I can assure you that if that cigar manufacturer wanted cognac at the end of the cigar, they would put it there," Herklots says.
    7 Things You'll Never See A Real Cigar Smoker Do

    Mistake No. 5: Limiting your cigar smoking to only one brand or type. You can have your preferred brand, sure. But don't let some mistaken sense of duty or loyalty to a particular brand keep you from sampling several varieties of cigars. Herklots says he has a repertoire of 10 to 12 go-to cigars that are all different types and brands. It's a great goal for any serious cigar smoker.
    7 Things You'll Never See A Real Cigar Smoker Do

    Mistake No. 6: Smoking what everyone else is smoking. Don't just smoke the same fat cigar that the CEO you're meeting with is smoking. You're far better off asking the experts around you what you might enjoy instead of hacking up a lung and wasting a cigar. This is especially good advice for beginners who aren't as comfortable smoking cigars just yet, Herklots says.
    7 Things You'll Never See A Real Cigar Smoker Do

    Mistake No. 7: Inhaling the cigar smoke. You should never inhale while smoking a cigar. They're not cigarettes, and the tobacco is often much stronger. Instead, merely take a puff and let it sit in your mouth for a few seconds while you taste it. Then simply blow it out. Puff and rotate your cigar every 30 seconds to one minute, and enjoy it with a strong alcoholic beverage.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/7-things-cigar-smokers-should-never-do-2015-1. Copyright 2015.

  • Cuban cigars and rum can now be brought to America
    U.S. President Barack Obama announced in January that American tourists can bring home $100 of rum and cigars from Cuba following the historic rapprochement between the two countries. The 17th Cigar Festival held in Havana was the first after the two countries started talks to normalize ties. “It’s the first step in the right direction, but $100 means a handful of cigars, only a few. So we need Congress to lift the embargo and then we can treat each other as good neighbors,” said an American delegate in attendance.

    http://www.cctv-america.com/2015/04/12/cuban-cigars-and-rum-can-now-be-brought-to-america#ixzz3bBFLjTLE. Copyright 2015.

  • The Biggest Mistake You Can Make While Smoking A Cigar
    There's a lot to think about when you smoke a cigar. But lighting it should be a no-brainer. The biggest mistake a novice can make when smoking a cigar is to use a Zippo lighter, said Michael Herklots, world-class tobacconist and VP of retail and brand development at Nat Sherman, a cigar emporium in midtown Manhattan. Mangling the head, screwing up the cut — those are manageable mistakes. Sparking up the prized cigar with a Zippo on the other hand — that's a catastrophic mistake, Michael told us. When a smoker lights his cigar with a Zippo, he's not 100% sure of the fuel that's being used. Butane is okay. It's odorless and free of oil. It won't jeopardize the integrity or taste of the cigar. But some Zippos don't use butane. They're a bit more of a wild-card in terms of fuel usage. Some use low-grade, odorous fuels — like fuels made by Ronson — that will greatly taint your cigar. Try not to use candles to light your cigar, either. Herklots warned that any foreign substance entering your cigar is undesirable. A vanilla candle can compromise the taste of your tobacco blend.

    The best way to burn? A basic box of phosphorous matches should get the job done, as will non-aromatic and clean butane lighters. Herklots suggests asking for a match box, taking two matches, and then lighting them against the striker. Once this is done, place the cigar in your mouth and delicately puff on it while lighting the uncut end. With your free hand, rotate the cigar so it doesn't light unevenly. When the outer rim of tobacco begins to glow, you're good. Blow out the match and enjoy.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-light-a-cigar-2014-12#ixzz3bBD3eDNX. Copyright 2015.

  • 5 cigars for a new dad
    Way back when a new dad would provide a box of stogies to his friends to celebrate the birth of his child, you could actually smoke in hospitals. Dad stayed in the waiting room rather than joining the laboring mother in delivery, and lighting up a good cigar with his visiting buds was one of the best ways to both mark the moment, as well as pass the time. Hard to imagine you could actually puff away in a hospital, we know, but those were Mad Men times. The tradition of lighting up for new dads has surely changed over the years. Smoking cigars is far less acceptable in public and, of course, prohibited in hospitals, bars, and restaurants. Outside of dedicated smoking clubs or shops, for a new dad to enjoy a good smoke with his buddies, it typically takes place in backyards, basements or garages.
    5 cigars for a new dad

    Victor Sinclair isn’t one of the more popular names, but that doesn’t detract from their quality or flavor. The Primeros Toro is a cigar that anyone would love without worrying about getting socked in the palate with strength. It’s a mild-bodied cigar with a gorgeous Connecticut shade wrapper, a Dominican filler with Seco tobacco and a touch of Ligero for spice keep the flavors complex and consistent from beginning to end. It’s a gift the new dad will appreciate. The fact that they’re less than $3 a stick is a gift to you. $54.99 (box of 20)
    5 cigars for a new dad

    Romeo y Julieta quality and taste are legendary. In fact, I have yet to smoke one that’s not delicious.Their Reserva Real line is top notch with a paper-like flawless Connecticut Shade wrapper and a Nicaraguan long filler tobacco that lends richness and depth without strong body. The stunning red band accentuates a smoke that tastes as good as it looks. It’s ideal for the man who likes the occasional cigar and can handle more than just the ultra-mild. $171.00 (box of 25)
    5 cigars for a new dad

    If it’s something different your friends craves, the CAO Colombia is a fine choice since it’s made with rarely utilized Colombian tobacco. The Colombian grown Cuban seed tobacco is grown along the coastline for a mild to medium bodied stogie experience. And just like Colombian coffee, there’s a hint of java in there to enjoy (because your bud has had enough actual caffeine). To top things off, there’s a saltiness that comes from the sea air to add another dimension of post-delivery enjoyment. $88.39 (box of 20)
    5 cigars for a new dad

    If you haven’t smoked one of the Alec Bradley American Classic Blends, you’re missing out. Despite its use of typically strong Nicaraguan tobacco, this cigar uses blends of Nicaraguan filler and binder with a milder Connecticut and Honduran wrapper to balance things out. Construction is excellent, as is the dark aesthetic that beckons to the sleepy-eyed dad with promises of smoking enjoyment. Coffee, nuts and a touch of sweetness will keep him coming back for more. $88.99 (box of 20)
    5 cigars for a new dad

    Oliva cigars has been delivering some smoking powerhouses like their Serie V line. But they’re also well known for their truly mild smokes including the Connecticut Reserve Torpedo. Tapered, light and well-constructed, it’s a welcomed smoke for a man who’s life has just changed forever. He can puff away with this delightful blend of mild coffee, a bit of woodiness and undeniable creaminess. This might just be the right smoke to have with your best bud after his four hours of interrupted sleep and a righteous breakfast. $144.99 (box of 20)

    Read the original article on Primer Magazine. Copyright 2015. http://www.primermagazine.com/2015/spend/5-great-cigars-for-the-new-dad#ixzz3bBCG0BOP

  • Smoking – at least of the cigar variety – has long been accepted as a pastime of the well-heeled. But knowing when (and how) to light up with grace and style is a bit more of a complex issue. To get the inside scoop on the latest in the cigar world, we spoke with Giuseppe Ruo, the director of food and beverage at London’s posh hotel The Wellesley. Ruo, a well-respected sommelier, is an expert in the trade of cigar selection and pairing, leading to his current role curating London’s most extensive hotel cigar collection. Here’s what we learned:
    We talked to the cigar sommelier of London's Wellesley hotel — here's what we learned

    The concept of a ‘cigar lounge’ seems uniquely masculine, but many females enjoy a good smoke as well. Are there more ‘female friendly’ cigar brands? Yes, many women enjoy cigars and it’s definitely not a man’s world. The cigar brand, Romeo y Julieta is one of the most popular cigar brands that appeal to women. It’s been known that even Winston Churchill became a fan of the brand How should a newcomer to cigar smoking discover his or her tastes? Very simple. Like with anything, start small. The best way to start with a small and light cigar such as H. Upmann Half Corona, Montecristo No. 5 or Cohiba Siglo I. After 1-2 puffs, the smoker will know immediately if they are into cigars. From there, try three to four different types to acquire the taste and consistency of cigars. Some people like short smokes (two second or less inhale) and some like long smokes (two second or greater inhale). It takes time to know what you like, but you won’t know until you try. Are there etiquette concerns that should be addressed, particularly when smoking in public? I always am very careful around kids as anyone should. The difference with cigarette smoke and cigar smoke, is that cigarettes are an addiction. Cigars aren’t, so people can wait to have one until they are in the right conditions. Ideally, a smoker wants to relax and feel pleasure from the tobacco. Cigar etiquette is very personal. There are, however, some rules to note: always cut the cigar with a cutter never bite them or use your nails. Do not tap the ash, just let it fall down by itself. You should also always take the cigar band off. You do not want to show off what you are smoking.
    We talked to the cigar sommelier of London's Wellesley hotel — here's what we learned

    Cuban cigars obviously have the most famous reputation – why? Are there other regions you’d say offer the same quality, but lesser cost or easier accessibility? Cuban cigars are so famous because they are the absolute best. They have the best quality without a doubt. Cuban cigars are made with tobacco that is grown in Cuba on the island. Tobacco grown in the most western region of the island is best for cigar growing. The tobacco plant can be grown in sun or shade and it depends on the conditions for growing the perfect wrapper leaf. Climate, soil and irrigation all contribute to a premium Cuban cigar. Other cigars can be made with various types of tobacco. Some smokers may not mind this, but a true cigar aficionado will recognize immediately if it’s Cuban tobacco or not. Cuban cigars have an aroma that derives from their high quality. Davidoff cigars from Dominican Republic and Padron from Nicaragua are also both nice. Toscano is another excellent cigar brand that can be found in Italy. What are the top trends in cigars today? It is very fashionable to smoke cigars today. The trend currently is to smoke big, long cigars if time allows. Some big cigars trending at the moment are Cohiba Behike, Montecristo 520 and Bolivar Libertador. If time is limited, smokers should try a shorter cigar such as Partagas Serie D No. 4, Cohiba Robusto or Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2. These are all big cigars, but short so they will not take so much time to smoke. Cigar lounges are popping up all around the world to offer guests a nice environment to smoke. I wouldn’t say it’s quite a “trend” because serious smokers are passionate about cigars and maintain an interest in the industry. The best conditions would be a nice drink, good company, excellent music and a first-rate cigar. This could be experienced anywhere from a beach to an elegant lounge; it all really depends the smokers preference.
    We talked to the cigar sommelier of London's Wellesley hotel — here's what we learned

    What draws people to your cigar lounge (at The Wellesley) in particular? Other than the size of the collection, are people drawn for specific amenities not found elsewhere? We offer a bespoke service. The hotel has one of the best cigar collections in all of the world and we have a Cigar Sommelier team on board that can educate you about cigars, smoke your first cigar with you or you even talk with you for hours into the night with our team about the best cigar and compare and contrast experiences. We want this experience to not only be memorable, but we truly have a team that knows cigars inside and out and have been in the cigar industry for years. Our goal is that you will smoke one of the best cigars and have a drink and have a wonderful experience at The Wellesley In terms of spirit pairings, cigars tend to be associated with dark liquors like whiskey and scotch. Are there specific pairings you’d suggest? Pairing spirits and cigars is an excellent choice but it really depends on how much a smoker wants to spend. This could pairing could be well into hundreds of dollars or pounds. I personally love a Cohiba Siglo 6 with Remy Marti XO. What is the most expensive cigar in your collection? Our Cohiba Behike 2005 cigars sell for about $6,700 per cigar. It was rolled by Norma Fernandez, the personal roller to former Cuban President Fidel Castro.

  • While most people know wine has terroir, I was surprised on a recent trip to the Dominican Republic to learn that cigars are also affected by the region the tobacco is grown in, as well as body, aroma, flavor and aging. This was a foreign concept to me as I stepped in the Westin Puntacana Resort & Club‘s Don Queco Cigar & Rum Bar, opened in December 2013 and named after the father of one of Puntacana’s founders. It was created in order to commemorate and personify the harmonic relationship between spirits and tobacco. While the centerpiece of the room is the expansive mahogany bar, bottles of local and international spirits illuminated behind, to the right is a glass enclosed cigar room that also deserves your attention. To me it feels more like a museum, as a staff guide named Victor escorts me inside, pulling out individual cigars for me to smell. For each, he explains the characteristics, and why one person might prefer it over another. Body, shape, size and taste are the most popular ways to categorize cigars, and you’ll often hear adjectives like coffee, cherry, sweet, salty, apricot, mature and green being used. It’s truly a full sensory perception in and around the mouth. The room provides a glimpse into local culture, a diverse and expansive selection of premium Dominican cigars showcased: Arturo Fuente, Pedro López, José Seijas, La Flor Dominicana, Aurora, Cohiba, E. León Jiménez, La Aurora, Montecristo, Vega Fina, Romeo y Julieta, Davidoff.
    Here's what you need to know about cigars

    As I’m not a seasoned cigar smoker, Victor chooses a E. León Jiménez for me, a surprisingly budget-friendly ($8) mild, local cigar. He sets me up near the pool just outside, cutting the end of the cigar with a special cigar clipper that helps preserve the stogie’s shape. While it takes me a bit to get the hang of exactly how to smoke it — don’t inhale, just savor it — when I do I taste intoxicating notes of earth and cedar. Victor expertly pairs this with a local Brugal Rum, rich vanilla and caramel flavors adding sweetness and the inherent woodiness perfectly complimenting the cigar. I’m informed that cigars naturally pair well with local rum, as they have strong roots in the Caribbean and are produced in very similar climates. That being said, some prefer a traditional brandy, scotch or Port. Cigars can carry a myriad of flavors. In pairing a cigar with a drink, the key is to enhance or contrast the flavors between the drink and the cigar.
    Here's what you need to know about cigars

    The Dominican Republic is a mecca for cigar smokers. Since the Spanish arrived in 1492, tobacco has been a driving part of the island’s history, culture and economy as it’s one of the biggest cigar-producing countries in the world. Don Queco is one special place to learn about this important cultural facet, a space designed to seduce your senses with a dimly lit ambiance, soft leather couches and indoor/outdoor seating. It’s recommended to visit on Tuesdays for “La Peña,” a special gathering where customers can enjoy a solitary indulgence, socializing with friends or planning a future business transaction. During this time, there are happy hour prices on rum and spirited drinks from 5pm to 9pm, and special discounts on local premium cigars. As I sit, enjoying my culturally immersive pairing and staring up at the starry night sky, the taste of booze and smoke sitting on my lips, I reckon there is no better place to be in the world at this very moment.

    http://epicureandculture.com/cigar-pairing/#ixzz3bB8Mg4OI. Copyright 2015.

  • Are Cuban cigars really better?
    The comparison of Cuban vs. non-Cuban cigars is an interesting debate. Cuban cigars for many years were known as the best of the best. However, when the Castro’s took the farms from the farmers, many of the best producers immediately left the country–for Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominican Republic, etc. Those families–the Fuente’s, the Padron’s, etc.–have now had more than 50 years to hone their craft in these other countries. Just as there are cheaply made cigars (and cheap tobacco used) in any country, the same holds true with Cuba.

    I have read reports stating that approximately 70% of all cigars sold as Cuban, aren’t even Cuban cigars, just cheap cigars re-banded to take advantage of non-educated tourists. That being said, I would put many cigars from other countries up against a Cuban, and they would likely win, depending on the brand, taster’s palate, etc. Regarding the question of if they’re better or not: Like any cigar, your favorite will be different from my favorite. Are there terrific Cuban cigars? Of course. Are there terrific Nicaraguan cigars? Yes. Same with Dominican cigars, and Honduran sticks, etc. However, many people believe that ALL Cuban cigars are better than their counterparts. This is just inherently false. Why are Cubans perceived as better to the general public? One main reason: Supply and Demand. You can’t get them here, therefore they’re “cool”. It’s like Prohibition in the ’20s. You were a star if you had some liquor in your basement. And now it’s the same with Cuban cigars. There are some outstanding Cubans out there–don’t get me wrong. But true aficianados know that they are outstanding Nicaraguan and Honduran cigars, as well.

    Some things to think about regarding Cuban cigars: 1. The embargo has NOT been lifted. Only Congress can do that, not the President, and they haven’t. What you CAN do, is bring $100 worth of cigars back into the US if you happen to travel to Cuba without being penalized. On average, that equates to about 4-5 cigars. 2. The farms are state-owned. So by purchasing those Cuban cigars, you are, in fact, supporting the Castro regime. 3. Cuba is a poor country and the Castro’s are greedy, so normal farming techniques may not be utilized in the interest of quick dollars. This means quality may suffer. And this is my main fear should the embargo be lifted. Cuba will flood the US market with as many cigars as they can pump out–aging, resting fields, quality control, etc. be damned. 4. Many of the older rollers in Nicaragua, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic learned their craft in Cuba. They teach the younger rollers that technique. So, the rolling of a cigar someplace other than Cuba doesn’t make it a less desirable cigar.

    El cigarro perfecto My perfect cigar changes almost daily. I look at cigars a lot like wine. Sometimes I want something I know is good and I’ll enjoy. For me, currently, that is the Fuente Signature, the Rocky Patel 2003 Cameroon, or the Liga Undercrown. However, I love to try new cigars to see what flavors and nuances I may be missing out on. It just depends on my mood and the environment. I smoke different cigars when I am with my friends on a back porch vs. mowing the lawn. The most interesting impact of lifting of the Cuban embargo (if it happens) will be this: The blends that American cigar smokers will get to experience. Imagine a cigar with Dominican and Honduran filler, a binder of Nicaraguan tobacco leaf, and a Cuban wrapper. Or Cuban filler with Nicaraguan binder and wrapper. It has potential to be very intriguing