More fun than a weekend corn dog binge, it's Blowin' Smoke #180!
With a beautiful day in the neighborhood, the Cretins assembled to offer thoughtful insight on a new Cigar of the Day from Alec Bradley, cigar gizmos they wish somebody would invent, and the value of giant bananas with dreadlocks. Plus, we talked about the recent CigarFest in the Poconos, the upcoming W. PA Cigar Crawl...including how you could win a Cigar Crawl prize pack.
We talked to Clint Aaron of 262 Cigars, and Chris from Alec Bradley Cigars. Plus, we found more weird news items from around the world like the guy in Vegas who lost 132 pounds in one day, some special celebrations during the month of May, the potential dangers of cheap shower gel, and more.
So, put your hoodie on like a pair of pants, light up a favorite cigar, and join the herf. It's Blowin' Smoke #180!
Ready for some cigar learnin'...it's Blowin' Smoke #179!
With a brand new Cigar of the Day smoldering between their tobacco stained fingers, the Cretins were all ears as they welcomed José Blanco, Senior VP of Joya de Nicaragua Cigars, makers of CyB Cigars to the show to talk about his years in the tobacco and premium cigar business, his tremendous knowledge and love of blending tobaccos, and more. This is an interview that will raise your cigar IQ, and we thank Mr. Blanco for taking the time to talk to us.
I've known Tom Lazuka for a many years. First, as a sales rep for Camacho Cigars, and now as the brand owner of Asylum Cigars. Tom and I (and some other fortunate cigar goons) spent some late nights smoking cigars, drinking, and talking cigars, the industry, and its people during several Western Pennsylvania Cigar Crawls...where Tom has always been a big supporter and a good friend.
This cat has some great stories...not all of them cigar related...and if you have the opportunity to enjoy a brew with him, you'll probably hear a few. I am very happy to see his success continue to grow! Let's do it...
#1 - Tell us the story of how you got involved in the cigar industry.
TL: A good friend of mine, Mike Perales, who has been an independant rep for over 20 years, told me about an opening with Colibri and said it would be a great way for me to break into the premium business. I interviewed and got the job with Colibri, was there for a few years and then started with Camacho. From there the relationship with Christian grew and here we are today.
#2 - When and how did the idea for Asylum come about, and is there a story behind the name?
TL: In 2012, Christian introduced me to Kevin Baxter and we started coming up with names for a brand. We chose Asylum because the industry itself is a bit crazy at times, but the true meaning is that the Brick and Mortar shops is where people go to seek their asylum and escape the mayhem in their lives.
#3 - You obviously have a very close relationship with Christian Eiroa. How has that relationship played a part in the development of Asylum outside of the obvious factors such as tobacco and manufacturing.
TL: My relationship with Christian goes way beyond tobacco. Over the years we have formed a friendship that is more than just an employee/boss relationship. Christian's experience as well as my own, have given us the insights to avoid a lot of the pitfalls that other new companies many not foresee. Christian gives me the freedom to make my own decisions with Asylum and to be creative with it. At this point, we can read each other's minds so there isn't much we have to discuss.
#4 - Give us the official breakdown of the different Asylum lines...sizes, blends, etc., and which one you would nominate to be the Asylum brand ambassador out of them all.
TL: There are currently three Asylum lines: Asylum Premium, Asylum 13 and Schizo.
Asylum Premium - Available in four sizes: 44x4, 50x6, 54x5 torpedo, 60x6. This Nicaraguan puro has a dark Habano wrapper with a maduro binder giving it a nice rich finish and Estelli and Jalapa fillers. Asylum Premium is medium to full bodied cigar. Cigar Aficionado has rated this cigar 91 and 90 in the last two issues.
Asylum 13 - Available in four sizes: 50x5, 60x6, 70x7, 80x6. Also a Nicaraguan puro with the same wrapper as the Asylum Premium and different binders and fillers. Asylum 13 is a bit peppery on the lips and is full bodied. This is the best seller of the Asylum lines. Asylum 13 also did a fifth cigar called the Ogre. This is a maduro and candela barber pole available in the 70x7 size. Its very smooth and has gotten great feedback!
Schizo - Available in five sizes: 50x5, 50x6, 60x6, Torpedo and 70x7. This is a Nicaraguan puro, medium bodied and is a cuban sandwich cigar. Available in 20 count bundles for the price conscious consumer.
The 70x7 is definitely the brand ambassador for Asylum. When you see it on the shelf, you take a second look and give it a try.
#5 - What's cooking in Tom's kitchen? What can we look forward to next from Asylum, or perhaps a new brand?
TL: Asylum 13 Authentic Corojo - We decided to make an Asylum 13 out of Honduras using the 100% Authentic Corojo seed tobacco that the Eiroa family is known for growing. Corojo is one of my favorite tobaccos so it was a no brainer for me. It will be available in 50x5, 60x6, 70x6 and 80x6 sizes. The price point is the same as the original Asylum 13. The Authentic Corojo will launch at the end of April or beginning of May.
We'll also be releasing the Straight Jacket. It is a short production run that is a very full bodied Nicaraguan puro. Straight Jacket will be available in May also. It wiil be priced $9 to $12 retail, and vailable in 50x5, 54x6, 60x6 and 70x7.
The Cretins and decorum. Yeah, the differences are black and white, but that fits right in for Blowin' Smoke #178!
We were thrilled to welcome Sam Leccia of Leccia Tobacco to the Havana Room just after the announcement of his return to the premium cigar industry. Sam was nice enough to spend several hours with us smoking cigars and talking about his new cigar brands about to hit store shelves called Black and White. Sam not only shared the story of the two distinct blends, but also how he looks back at his hiatus, and how he is eager to get back out there. Plus, some morsels of Sam Leccia trivia that you may be quizzed on when you see Sam on the road. Thank you and much success to Sam and Leccia Tobacco!
The Cretins herfed up a new Cigar of the Day for review...the new UF-13 Dark from Drew Estate. They also checked out some listener emails, some weird news items, and a brand new installment of what the chicks are reading. Plus...a phone call from slightly inebriated friend of the show. The follow-up proof is on KEEK here. Follow the show and the Cretins on KEEK by starting here.
So, grab cup of coffee or a cold brew, light up a favorite stick and join us for Blowin' Smoke #178!
When it comes to herfs, we always say it's about the people. That was certainly true with the great folks we met during our road trip to the nation's capital. Imagine our surprise when some of them returned the favor as Eddie Tarazona of Tarazona Cigars joined us in the Havana Room, along with his trusty sidekick, Lawrence, to talk about his brand, meeting the peeps, and what's in the pipeline. Plus, their involvement in the annual DC Cigar Tweet-Up...a great herf with a charitable cause.
We also talked about Blowin' Smoke jumping into a new social media platform called Keek to bring some good cigar content to the mix. Sign-up, follow us, and Keek back!
With a tease of spring in the air, the holy Cretins gathered for a herf with a purpose...Blowin' Smoke #176!
As the dudes in funny hats gathered in Rome, the dudes with the funky smell gathered in the Havana Room. Turns out they were herfing a cigar called Cardinal, and that gave the Cretins an idea...a really lame one, but, with this group, any idea is progress. Since the Cardinals were having a conclave to elect a new Pope with some white smoke signal thing, why not have a Cretin conclave while smoking a Cardinal to elect...uh...something. That sounded like a plan.
So, along with a Cretin conclave...a meeting of the mindless...the new Cigar of the Day was sacrificed, a new 5 Things were dished, and plenty of weird news items were discussed including PBR privates, a new concealment holster, live tweeting an unusual trip to the ER, and more. Plus, over-thinking a multi-cigar day, and factors that make you buy new to you cigars.
So, put on your Swiss Guard tights, pour a drink, and light one up with us for Blowin' Smoke #176!
Some say he is a man of mystery. Some say he is an international fashion model with homes in Paris, Milan, and New York that goes by the name "Gustave." Some say his hugs impart magical healing powers on loan from the holy monks of Ometepe. All I know is he has become a great friend, and he makes some fantastic cigars. After weeks of negotiations with "his people," I am really excited to have Clint Aaron of 262 Cigars for this Quick 6. Let's do it!
#1 The hits just keep on comin'! The 262 Revere, the latest in the 262 stable, really took off following its pre-release at IPCPR 2012 landing on a number of 2012 "best of" lists including the #1 spot on the Blowin' Smoke Podcast Cretins' Prime 9. When Revere was in development, what was your mindset? Did you have any feelings, premonitions, or fortune cookies that told you you were really on to something?
CA: Revere was kind of unique. I wanted a Nicaraguan puro that was well balanced and packed with a lot of flavor. What I didn't want, was an overly peppery, intense cigar that left you crying in the fetal position. I'm alway nervous every time we bring a cigar to market. It reminds me of asking a girl to a dance. What's her response going to be? Do I have something in my teeth? Did I remember to put on deodorant? Is she really a man? I knew we were on to something when I shared some pre-released samples to some retailers and they placed orders without ever seeing the final packaging or pricing.
#2 How has your approach toward or your process of developing a new blend changed since your very first release?
CA: This is kind of a trick question. Do the means justify the end? Or does the end justify the means? With the Paradigm, I knew that I wanted a cigar with that profile. However, being new to the industry, I wasn't 100% sure which leaves and ratios to use to obtain that. It was a lot of trial and error and a lot of phone calls to the masters. Now I approach it with a loose concept and go from there. For example, I knew I wanted a Nicaraguan puro, but I've never liked an over the top pepper-bomb. With that in mind, we worked backwards. This has always been my approach though, "at the end of the day it doesn't matter how you get the finished product. What matters is that you have the product and people enjoy it."
#3 262 fans are anxious to know and get their hands on what's next. Fill us in on what you're working on behind the scenes, and what the timetable is to start seeing them at your friendly neighborhood cigar store.
CA: REVERE Lancero is in the works. I'm making final adjustments to the blend and letting them rest. This should be ready by July/Aug. I also have another project that I'm working on with a late autumn delivery. It's a seasonal blend and will not be full production. Right now we're looking at doing 2,000 10 count boxes. (This is all subject to change.)
#4 You are on the road A LOT promoting 262, making those very important personal connections, and dishing out the hugs. What are the five best things about being on the road? What are the five worst things? And what are the five most important things you've learned on the road?
CA: The five best things are (in no particular order): 1. Meeting all of the crazies from Twitter. 2. Being away from Emerson (my wife's dog). 3. The conversations and stories. I swear there is an Uncle Si in every shop. 4. Eating the local food and drinking the local beer. 5. Crossing paths with other reps. We all have the same stories about the same shops, and it's great sharing those war stories.
The five worst things are (in no particular order): 1. Being away from my wife. 2. Being out of touch with reality. 3. A different hotel every night. 4. One of my speakers is blown in my car, so that's friggin' annoying! 5. The extra 20 lbs I'm carrying due to #4 in Part A of this question.
The five most important things I've learned (in no particular order): 1. No just means not right now. 2. It takes brass balls to sell cigars. 3. Speed traps are all over and cops don't care. 4. Sales shouldn't be as intimidating as everybody makes it out to be. It's all about being yourself. 5. Be sure to do the math when you pack your drawers. A 10 day trip means packing at least that many and a couple for backup.
#5 "262'sdays" began quite innocently one morning with a 262 Paradigm (I think), a cup of coffee, and a long commute, but has taken off as a...as a...as a thing all its own. How has the 262'sday thing become a part of 262 Cigars and what you do as the boss, the face of, and the road warrior of the brand?
CA: 262sdays has morphed into this uncontrollable beast. It's on at least 3 platforms of social media and has become something that makes us look forward to Tuesday. Shops are dubbing Tuesday as 262sday and running promos and in-store specials on Tuesdays. It has forced me to keep a phone charger on me at all times because I try to retweet and re-post any that I see. It makes it tough because some are tagged with different spellings and abbreviations. The ones (hashtags) that I'm on the lookout for are #262sday or #262sdays.
#6 Imagine you have developed a cigar just for your own personal enjoyment...not for sale. What would you name that cigar, and what three famous people, living or dead, would you love to smoke that cigar with and why?
CA: I would probably name it Katy Perry. Actually, I don't know that I would name it if it were just for me and not for sale. I would love to smoke a cigar with George Burns because he is that iconic figure that was always seen with a cigar. I would also love to smoke one with Ted Nugent. I don't really need a reason for this. He's a bad mamma jamma. I would also love to smoke a cigar with Michael Richards. I know he went crazy a few years back, but he's so witty and seems fairly down to earth. I think he truly appreciates cigars and the love that goes into making each one.
Back after a Valentine's Day hunger strike, it's Blowin' Smoke #175!
The Cretins gathered around for a brand new Cigar of the Day, loaded up on Sumatra coffee, and thought about the big Hollywood awards show and small cigars with our friends on Twitter. Plus, wishful potato chip flavors, butt dialing from prison, getting friendly with pit bulls, stabby three-ways, and lots more.
As always, there's a new installment of what the chicks are reading, as well as 5 Things.
So, grab your own oscar, light up a fine cigar and join the herf on Blowin' Smoke #175!
I've had the distinct pleasure of getting to know George Rodriguez here in the 'Burgh, not only as the Founder & President of the exceptional boutique cigar brand Rodrigo Cigars, but as a friend. I am thrilled to see Rodrigo Cigars scoring high marks and earning a growing fan base. It's about time I tossed George into a Quick 6. Let's do it!
#1 What the hell are you doing?
GR: Lots going on! First on the company side - Rodrigo is building its executive team and board of directors. I've been recruiting some incredible leadership talent. These guys are players in their respective industries and they are also passionate cigar smokers. We are working on new ways to expand the relationship between smokers, shops and Rodrigo. For Rodrigo it's all about connecting people over great smokes.
We now have an awesome distribution channel with Emilio Cigars. This relationship has opened many doors to new shops in the past few months and we expect an outstanding IPCPR show along side our colleagues at House of Emilio.
New blends! The long awaited Corona Project Sumatra and Broadleaf. Haven't decided which to release yet. We also have the Cinco 5 Brazilian Arapiraca (codename #HYFR). Both of these will be limited releases coming out just in time for better cigar smoking weather. And we're still making improvements to the core lines; Habano Clasico and Boutique Blend now sport Cuban Triple Caps (Tres Vueltas). This is a very nice detail on any cigar and the Rodrigo smokers are definitely worth the extra effort of creating a cigar to be admired with the eyes and the palette.
#2 Maybe I got ahead of myself there. How did Rodrigo cigars happen?
GR: That's a long story that is detailed on RodrigoCigars.com/our_story, but I can tell you that it was a matter of intention, desire and the universe working its ways to bring people together for a purpose. I took a chance and followed my passion. I believe it's so important in life to get outside of your comfort zone because that's where real life is, that's where you're going to grow, that's where you find freedom... and that's what I mean when I say "smoke well, live rich."
#3 The Rodrigo Habano Classico, Boutique Blend, and La Fortaleza have all been very well received...and the La Fortaleza hit #3 in the 2012 Cretins Prime Nine! Tell us about each line...their tobacco, sizes, and something personal for you about each of them.
Habano Clasico was my first release and it's a cigar that continues to amaze me and it converts new fans everyday. It's actually a hybrid Habano/Sumatra wrapper that has tons of flavor, complexity and balance. Smoke this cigar first thing and your day will be outstanding! I plan on making this cigar forever. How many cigar makers can say that their first blend is as timeless as that?! And as you know, the lancero has been known to induce addictive behaviors, so fair warning ;)
Boutique Blend came next and honestly this cigar was made in response to the large RG craze. There's the G4 G5 G6, (54, 56, 60 respectively). When planning this blend I knew I didn't want just another one note large RG cigar. I wanted to keep the complexity going like we did with Habano Clasico. So we added some interesting tobaccos, all grade A, and used an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. If you've smoked the CyB you'll taste similar notes. Extremely enjoyable flavors... and don't forget the retrohale on this one - think "french toast".
After gaining some confidence with my first two releases, La Fortaleza was my first chance to really step it up. It started as a DR puro but that proved too difficult to keep up with. The yield from the DR San Vicente wasn't good enough. In the end, six fantastic tobaccos were sourced for this cigar. Sumatra Ecuador wrapper, DR Olor binder, Habano 2000, Corojo, Criollo 98 and a sixth varietal that I can't disclose. All ligero primings but an incredibly smooth and enjoyable blend. Most people don't believe it's a Dominican cigar but this is the blend that is really putting us on the map. Traditional vitolas starting with the corona "Absoluto", robusto extra "Forte", churchill "Elegante" and the large 6x55 "Cinco 5".
#4 What do you enjoy most in the process of bringing a new cigar to market? The least?
GR: I enjoy the creative process the most. Just getting inspired from whatever cigar I'm smoking and the music I'm listening to while I'm on a long drive. I can come up with a hundred ideas while I'm in the zone like this. When I have something good in mind then I go to William Ventura and his son Henderson and we let the tobacco drive the rest of the project. Blending is the most fun of all, especially when you have some great tobaccos to work with.
I guess I really can't say I dislike anything in particular about this business but it gets a little crazy for me when I'm trying to make cigars, develop packaging and sell them. I'm a terrible multi-tasker (just ask my wife!) and cigar makers have to wear many hats and be in many places at the same time!
#5 The Rodrigo laboratory is in the Dominican. What do you say to folks who may dismiss a Dominican cigar out of hand as being mild?
GR: I hand them a La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Chisel and tell them to call me in the morning.
But I'm always happy to talk about what's going on in DR. Now, I can only speak for the growers that I work with, but I can tell you that there are some extremely passionate folks that are cultivating tobacco in "small batch mode" using only Cuban seed. They plant one varietal per farm so there's very little cross pollination. This gives us a very distinct crop using traditional Cuban seeds like Habano Vuelto Abajo and Corojo Original. The tobacco is cured over 45-60 days without heat. This is crucial because if the curing isn't right then you can't make up for it down the road. Lots of farms in Nicaragua and DR heat their tobacco to speed the process over 15 days but we don't like to use that stuff because it tends to produce a harsh smoke that hits you in the back of the throat. It may feel like a nice strong robust smoke but it's not very enjoyable long term. As you may know, DR is still the largest producer of cigars and therefore it is home to many of the "Budweisers" of our industry. Large scale operations tend to grow lots of different tobacco on large farms and the tobacco can get somewhat homogenized in my opinion. This is great for consistency and mass production but not for distinctive tobacco like what we have in Rodrigo and other great boutique cigars coming out of DR today.
#6 When you are in Pittsburgh, the three things you have to do are...?
GR: That's easy...
1. Take in the view from Mt. Washington.
2. Eat at Primanti Bros in The Strip.
3. After you're done with your sandwich, stroll down to Penn and 22nd and smoke a Rodrigo at the world famous Leaf & Bean!
Roses are red. Violets are blue. Yadda yadda yadda. It's Blowin' Smoke #174
Armed with a brand new Cigar of the Day, and a brand new Cretin named Stephanie, it was a great day to burn a few with friends. We talked about Valentine's Day and what are good gifts for the ladies and the gents, plus we question whether or not it is a BS holiday in the first place.
We also checked our listeners' voicemail and emails including one about good manners in a cigar shop for the customer and the proprietor. And we offered up commentary on things like the increase in personal grooming injuries, clothing that turns transparent when you are turned on, college courses in sex, some unusual criminal activity, and more. Plus, what the chicks are reading and a new 5 Things from our newest Cretin.
So, grab your valentine and a fine cigar and check out Blowin' Smoke #174!
Hence embedded in the divine and righteous mobile Man Chair slurping convenience store coffee, puffing away on a 262 Revere Robusto, and spraying blue windshield juice like a crop duster, I found myself thinking about balls.
No, you pig, not like that. I'm talking about friends with balls. No, you pig, not like that. I'm talking about the friends I have made that are part of the cigar industry that we love so much...and that includes many folks who I only have, at this point, a very small casual acquaintance with. The fact that you are reading this tells me that you probably know them too, or would like to. They are the people who have really changed the industry since the boom of the late 90's when I became a cigar smoker. They are the people who had a passion, an idea, a vision, a desire, or, in some cases, a mental illness that eventually brought them into my circle of friends, or awareness. They are the boutique cigar brand owners. These people have got a lot of balls.
Think about it. Many of these folks started out just like you and me...cigar smokers. Probably couldn't find Esteli on a freakin' map, or Connecticut, for that matter. Shit, we've all thought about it. "Man, I'd love to have my own cigar brand. That would be awesome, man." Right about then, the wife tells you you smell like Winston Churchill's underpants, and the kid's college tuition bill hits the mailbox. And just like that, you're back on a plastic lawn chair out in the cold garage with your feet up on the lawnmower suckin' on a lancero.
It was different with these people. The passion, desire, mental illness was clear. The force was strong with them. And they took a risk. (The biggest risk I've taken lately was spinach on a $5 footlong.) They borrowed money, mortgaged homes, made connections, researched, learned, listened, asked questions, listened more, quit well-paying jobs, traveled...a lot, ran up credit card debt, tested marriages, missed time with their kids, ate shitty food, drove the wheels off their cars, stayed in lousy hotels, suffered rejection, miscalculations, and even lawsuits. They cold-called, shook thousands of hands, made deals, got burned more than once, and drank a lot of bad coffee. They were often the boss and accounts payable, accounts receivable, marketing, public relations, human resources, housekeeping, shipping & receiving, and travel agent. They tweeted, blogged, and Facebooked. All that, sometimes before there was any profit.
And for what? So we could sit on our ass and smoke exquisite f*#king cigars.
THAT, my fellow lovers of the leaf, takes monumental balls.
Here's the real clincher. Ask any of these people if it was worth it...if they'd do it again, and I'll bet most, if not all, would tell you it was, and they would. Balls.
So, the next time you're in the company of one of these people, remember this, and use the opportunity to personally thank them for their enormous balls. Because without their balls, we'd be left scratching ours.
...and that's the way I see it...From the Man Chair.
I am very happy that Fred Rewey, AKA "GodFadr," of Nomad Cigar Company was nice enough to take time out of his busy schedule to be the focus of our new "Quick 6."
…and away we go.
#1 - In the beginning… Where did the GodFadr, Fred Rewey, come from to get to cigar brand owner?
FR: Like your typical cigar manufacturer, I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The state provides a rich tobacco heritage...oh, wait, that will never work. Although I was born in the great cheese state, I have lived in numerous locations that could only be rivaled by a Phish roadie.
Seriously though, I have lived all over (both nationally and internationally) and have several friends that are great cigar makers. They certainly influenced me in deciding to go into the industry. I have always tried to turn my hobbies into a business - I believe you need to love what you do. Cigar making seemed a natural evolution to taking a passion and trying to turn it into something bigger by pushing myself. In the end, it's the true story of a passionate cigar aficionado trying his hand at long-standing art.
#2 - Nomad Cigar Company hit the scene in 2012. Describe the journey from concept to making your first sale.
FR: It probably took two years to find a cigar/blend/style etc that worked for me. Frankly, the cigar world is full of great cigars. There are a lot to choose from and at some pretty amazing prices. Starting up a new company is not easy.
Most startups have to compromise tobacco quality to stay competitive - I was not willing to do that. In turn, that meant holding out for better tobacco and getting very aggressive on pricing (can you say "profits?"). I was in it for the long haul, so I was not really concerned with the latter. Deliver a quality stick and maybe you can make your mark.
The sales were very "grass roots" at first. People heard about my first stick (The Fugitive) and starting seeking me out. It didn't even have the bands on yet. When some pretty prominent people in the industry wanted them in their personal humidors, I knew I was on to something.
#3 - Your website, NomadCigarCompany.com shows five cigars currently in your arsenal. Tell us about them. Are they different sizes of the same blend or is each size a unique blend?
FR: There are actually seven now (I am releasing two new sizes this month). Each cigar is predominately the same blend. There are always some slight modifications in percentages to accommodate for size. Each has the signature Ecuadorian Habano 2000 wrapper (no one says "2000" anymore, but I think it is still worthy of its full name). The Binder is Dominican and the Filler is largely Dominican with a bit of Nicaraguan ligero to push the medium up a bit.
The two new sizes are a traditional Robusto (5x50) and a 6" Figurado.
#4 - You recently partnered with Emilio Cigars to handle your distribution. I assume, being a small boutique company, that that will allow you to focus more on future plans and new product development. What is in the pipeline for Nomad Cigars in 2013?
FR: The partnership will help Nomad keep up with demand and allow me to focus on new products, quality control, and cover marketing of the brand. We get requests every day from people wanting to try (or get more of) the sticks. I know it is a good problem to have, but I really want to take advantage of the explosive press we received so fast. We have great reviews, numerous top 10's, and some great recognition for some key players very high in the industry. That is all very flattering, but if you can't get the stick in enough hands, it is all for nothing to some extent. Gary brings that needed distribution to the table and probably cuts 2-3 years off Nomad's growth.
I believe, at this pace, 2013 will be the true "coming out party" for Nomad...2-4 new sizes and possibly a whole new blend addition.
#5 - You have voiced very strong opinions about supporting local brick and mortar tobacconists, but online sales are a big piece of the pie too. Share those opinions with us and how Nomad Cigar Company is focused going and growing forward.
FR: I am a big supporter of brick and mortar shops. I think, in a lot of ways, they are really the heart of the industry. Some manufacturers forget that. That said, I think the guy that is nowhere near a brick and mortar need not be forgotten.
I really don't have a problem with "online" or even "catalog" sales - as long as the brick and mortar stores have the ability to stay competitive. Some online places (or catalogs) are able to sell cigars at lower prices than even the brick and mortars can buy them - that is not right - and the manufacturer can help avoid that.
My decision, for Nomad Cigar Company, was to not sell directly from my company website. In the short term, that can really hurt a boutique start-up. You need traction to get into shops, but if you don't sell direct, how do you get traction? I suppose I pulled the plug a bit early on principal - but numerous retailers (and some makers) applauded the stance from a little guy. I would still allow Nomads (and want someone) online to sell them to people in remote locations - I just don't want to hurt all the shops working hard just to get a quick online or catalog buck.
#6 - Celebrity endorsements and strategic product placement in major media and entertainment can mean big things for a company like Nomad Cigars. Given the choice, where would you rather see Nomad Cigars prominently placed: "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" -- "Finding Bigfoot" -- or "Duck Dynasty" and why?
FR: Embarrassingly enough, I had to look two of the three up online. After watching one full episode of each (ok, I never made it through Honey Boo Boo), I would have to go with "Duck Dynasty." Love the beards and these guys look like they could be a lot of fun. Nomad Cigar Company, at the core, has always been about having fun. Sure, create a quality stick, but have fun in the process. (No, I didn't really mail a live kitten.) I think we take ourselves too seriously sometimes. The cigar world is rich in heritage, heart, and passion - but at the end of the day, we smoke for a momentary reflection on life in general, have fun with friends, or solve the worlds problems. Oftentimes all during the same cigar outing.
With icicles on their ashes, and a mystery in their hands, the Cretins gathered for Blowin' Smoke #173
Indeed the heaters were crankin' in the Havana Room for this herf. For the second time in as many shows, the Cretins were faced with a mystery Cigar of the Day. What was it? What did they think? Listen to find out.
Plus, we talked to one of our good friends and fellow BOTL, Lawrence (@_LOD), from down around the nation's capital about the upcoming 2nd annual D.C. Cigar Tweet-Up (@DCCigarTweetup). It sounds like an awesome 2-day herf experience shaping up. Check it out.
The Cretins also struggled a little with who to root for in the Super Bowl this year, and they talked about a beer honoring Elvis, women hogging the covers, Cretin Jeff learning how to drive a truck, women that go under the knife down under, and much more. Also another look at what the chicks are reading, and a new 5 Things.
So, dress in layers and join the herf! It's Blowin' Smoke #173!
A brand new year...same dysfunctional Cretins. That could only mean Blowin' Smoke #172!
With new year resolutions already a failed distant memory, the first podcast herf of 2013 featured a Mystery Cigar of the Day to stimulate the otherwise hibernating Cretin neurons. Add to that some fresh baked maple-bacon donuts and coffee with chicory, and the Cretins could hardly contain themselves.
We talked about how we will focus on new cigars in the new year, cigars that can cut through a cold or flu, and how a couple of our "Cretin'ettes" answer questions previously asked to a swimsuit model. Plus, a fresh look at what the chicks are reading, and a new 5 Things for your new year water cooler chatter.
All that and more is straight ahead. So, grab some smokes and join the herf. It's Blowin' Smoke #172!
With the end of every year, we are pelted with a barrage of lists. Which celebrities kicked the bucket. The most popular baby names. Worst Christmas gifts. The top this, and the best that. Whatever your hobby or line of work, you're bound to see lists associated with those as well. Around here we talk about cigars...and bacon...and boobs...goats, booze, Pabst, sports, guns, spackle, coffee, cornhole, cars, and whatever Cosmo is telling the ladies about...like yo-yo balls. Whatever it is -- drive through hookers or rocky mountain oysters -- we smoke cigars while we talk about it.
So, why not? Why not a Cretin year end cigar list? I mean, we all know cigars are very subjective, so wouldn't a collaborative list have more value than just some shlub with a blog and a hand out? We thought so too. So, eleven shlubs...er Cretins were asked to submit their personal top five favorite cigars of 2012 in order. Cigars they have smoked and shelled out their money for. Ten responded. (Cretin Jeff will suffer severe sanctions.) Point values were assigned to positions. Submitted ties split points. Honorable mentions were assigned half points. Final count ties were placed according to their MSRP with the lowest placing highest, etc....and what hast thou Cretins wrought? Here they are from #9 to the top spot #1...
The Blowin' Smoke Cretins Prime Nine for 2012
#9 - Tatuaje Baby Face
Tatuaje has a little fun every Halloween buy releasing some unique and very limited cigars under as a Monster series featuring "monster movie" inspired names and neat-o packaging. For 2012, it was the highly anticipated Little Monsters...smaller sizes of previously released larger monsters. The 4 3/8 X 50 Baby Face stood out to score a slot on the Cretins Prime Nine 2012. Baby Face features a Mexican San Andres wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler. It is made at the My Father Cigars S.A. factory. The zip you'd expect from a Pete Johnson - Pepin cigar plus the full, robust character of the Mexican wrapper. Cretins said: "My favorite of the Little Monsters."
#8 - Ortega Serie D Natural
Marking the only brand to crack the Cretin Prime Nine 2012 TWICE, Eddie Ortega scores again with the Serie D Natural. Now, the Cretins have debated the "betterishness" of the two...the Natural or the Maduro, and the only thing we can say is their respective scores on the Prime Nine of 2012 were very close. Swapping the maduro wrapper for an Ecuador Habano Rosado brings a solid, nuanced smoke with good flavor complexity. Best if you do your own side-by-side. Eddie would appreciate that...and maybe buy himself one of those tuxedo t-shirts. Cretins said: "Best summed up as the flavors of old school Padron Anniversary naturals."
#7 - CLE Corojo
Did anybody think for a minute that Christian Eiroa would let us down? Following the sale of Camacho to the Oettinger Davidoff Group in 2008, Eiroa stayed on as President of Camacho, but many sensed that would be short lived. With the ok from Davidoff, he formed Tabacaleras Unidas and launched CLE Cigar Company as his personal return to the market, and the first brand under the Tabacaleras Unidas umbrella. Unless you've lived under a rock for the last 10-15 years, you know that the Eiroas know corojo and Honduras very intimately. So, no surprise that CLE would roll out a corojo Honduran puro to remind us. Rich on flavor, but not an ass-kicker. Excellent price point. Look for more great stuff to come from Christian Eiroa.
#6 - Ortega Serie D Maduro
It seems the cigar industry has experienced a lot of folks striking out on their own lately, and this guy certainly did it right. Eddie Ortega embraced social media and was showing up all over the country to promote his first release of his Ortega brand. Eddie projects a working class image with his faded t-shirt and jeans, and his inviting life-is-good grin. His Serie D Maduro line says hard-working, rugged, and I've got your back with a Mexican San Andreas wrapper and Nicaraguan guts. Bold, complex, flavorful, and great bang for your buck. Cretins said: "Love the box press...solid, great flavor." -- "First try (at) Leaf & Bean Strip District. Have been enjoying them ever since." -- "...stock is low. Time to buy more." Specific mention: No. 6, No. 7, and No. 12.
#5 - Crowned Heads Headley Grange Estupendos
The sophomore release from Crowned Heads shows what happens when you mix passion for the industry with a master blender like EP Carrillo. Named after the former poorhouse in East Hampshire, England, turned music recording scene in the 60's and 70's (and currently caught up in a trademark legal dispute over use of the name), the Crowned Heads wanted to create a cigar as unique as the sound of John Bonham's drums in Led Zeppelin's "When The Levee Breaks" which was recorded there. When we light this one, we think whole lotta love. Cretins said: "Like Cirillo said, post coital cuddling." Well, okay, then.
#4 - 1502 Ruby
The 1502 line made a big impact with the Cretins in a short time, and the Ruby edged out the Black Gold...the strongest in the current 1502 stable...for Prime Nine honors. Enrique, the man behind 1502, has kept his line up very simple and much aligned to his, and maybe your, daily cigar selection process. The 1502 Ruby falls in the middle, or as Enrique's after-a-sammich afternoon smoke, with medium body, great complexity, and packed with Nicaraguan flavor. If you don't know what that Nicaraguan flavor is exactly, the 1502 Ruby will learn ya. Ecuador wrapped and Nicaragua stuffed. Cretins said: "I can't get enough of this cigar." -- "...flavor holds up even after smoking a fuller bodied cigar." Specific mention of the Robusto.
#3 - Rodrigo La Fortaleza
George Rodriguez set out to create a Dominican cigar that would make other Dominican cigars its bitch. Along with William Ventura's Tabacalera Ventura in the Dominican Republic, George done good. While the Cretins agreed that the various sizes delivered some distinct character differences, the end result of all was a fuller bodied, flavorful smoke that might smack your ass and call you Sally, and definitely have you rethink your notion of Dominican tobacco. Cretins said: "Nine inches and dark Need I say more?" -- "George is so dreamy." -- "Rich and robust. A real treat." Specific mentions of the A and Absoluto.
#2 - Oliva Serie V Melanio
If you are like a lot of the Cretins, you've probably herfed your way through the Oliva line up over the years and you probably found your preference shifting along the way until you felt very much at home with the Serie V. Character, flavor, strength, and consistency. Then crazy Uncle Melanio showed up claiming he had V roots and maybe better hair. You scoffed at the special band toupee, figured he was a poseur from the G clan you used to see as a kid at family reunions until crazy Uncle Melanio took you for a ride on his motorcycle, showed you porn, gave you scotch, and slipped you a few bucks when the other Vs weren't looking. Yeah, Melanio is a V...just a little more fun. Cretins said: "Great aroma, flavors of oak, cedar, breadiness, and pepper...nice complexity and flavor development." -- "Great all around smoke." -- "A Serie V with some extra 'yeah, baby' and a box press!" Specific mentions of the Robusto and Petit Corona.
#1 - 262 Revere
Since their debut, Clint Aaron and his team at 262 Cigars has delivered one hit after another, and the 2012 release of Revere is the latest to ride into the end zone. Revere is a Nicaraguan puro with a Jalapa wrapper and double binder. Rich, robust, complex, solid. Clint loves dishing out hugs on the road, and the Revere is a big flavor hug with some grab-ass on the finish. Cretins said: "The entire line never disappoints...ever." -- "...delicious smokes." -- "Take the Paradigm and ramp it up a notch." -- "Great spice, perfect price." -- "Hold me." Specific mentions of the Robusto and Corona. Congratulations, 262 Cigars!
So, there it is. The first ever Blowin' Smoke Cretins Prime Nine Cigars 2012. Comments? Drop us an email through the contact link above. Remember, we didn't smoke every cigar born in 2012. That's next to impossible...although it's an attractive goal. But we did smoke every cigar that was submitted and we paid for each of them. You're welcome.
Before we go, here are a few fine cigars that landed near the bubble: RoMa Craft Intemperance BA XXI -- Tatuaje Mummy -- Tatuaje Fausto -- La Aurora Preferidos Diamond -- and La Duena