Screwpop Cigar Ashtray Review (and Giveaway)

Screwpop Cigar Ashtray

I have a ton of cigar accessories, some of which are pretty specialized. You are probably already familiar with Screwpop; these guys are well-known for their keychain cigar accessories including punch and scissor cigar cutters. I have always enjoyed their products, so I was stoked when I found out about the new Screwpop Ashtray, “the world’s first cigar centric ashtray”, which I'm very a happy to have a chance to try today.

The Screwpop Ashtray is very sleek-looking, and designed out of melamine. Melamine offers a couple of advantages: it is lightweight, and it can stand up to high heat. The tray is pretty compact, and features a perpendicular orientation for the cigar. This allows you to get a nice view of your cigar while you are smoking, which is quite handy if you write a lot of cigar reviews and want to constantly check up on the ash and burn line and so on.

Functionally, there are some other cool features especially for cigars. For example, there is a ramp which the ash slides down from the holder into the bowl. There is also a cylinder which protrudes from the tray which you can use to knock ash off.

Screwpop Cigar Ashtray

All in all, the Screwpop Ashtray is a very cool tray which functions well and is a lot sturdier than it feels (it is rare to find a lightweight material this strong). About my only complaint is that it cannot hold a whole lot of ash, so it can fill up a little quickly - which means that during a gathering, you either need to empty it regularly, or make sure everyone has his/her own ashtray. Aside from that, it is awesome and knocks the socks off of any standard cigarette tray.

Courtesy of Screwpop Tool, we are giving away 3 Screwpop Ashtrays! To enter, all you have to do is comment. We will pick the winners randomly by next Tuesday and post their names on the blog.

Thanks for entering!

Visiting Cuba? You Can Now Bring Back Cigars & Rum

Visiting Cuba?  You Can Now Bring Back All the Cuban Cigars You Want

With elections just around the corner, the Obama administration has given one last gift to the cigar community domestically and abroad—and that is a complete lift of the ban on Cuban cigars and rum.

As of Monday, you will now be able to bring back as much Cuban rum and as many Cuban cigars as you want when you visit Cuba and return to the US. You also can purchase Cuban cigars in other countries and bring them back. So long as you are importing the cigars and rum for your own personal consumption (and not for retail purposes), you are good to go.

The only restriction still standing is on online sales. Sadly you do still need to travel in person to pick up your cigars. You cannot buy them through a website and have them shipped to you stateside.

This is the latest step in the normalization process announced by US President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro on December 17th, 2014.

On Friday, Obama also charted a path for the future which will hopefully cancel out the economic embargo on Cuba altogether. The goal is to build numerous ties between the US and Cuba so that the fates of the two countries are positively intertwined. This will make it difficult for any future administration to try and reinstate the embargoes and cut off relations.

As you may be aware, some action was already taken in January of 2015 to reduce restrictions on Cuban rum and cigar imports. But previously, you could only bring back $100 worth of cigars and rum in your carry-on. Now there are no restrictions, save for this: “normal limits on duty and tax exemptions will apply.”

Speaking on the change, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said, "These steps have the potential to accelerate constructive change and unlock greater economic opportunity for Cubans and Americans.”

There is no doubt that this will be a game-changing boon to the cigar industry. While the benefits will center on Cuba and the US, there will be a positive ripple effect which stimulates cigar sales throughout the world!

Whisky Review: Oban Little Bay Small Cask

Oban Little Bay Small Cask

If you have tried regular Oban Single Malt and enjoyed it, you will want to check out Oban Little Bay. The “Little Bay” whisky is created by taking the original Oban and aging it in small casks. This matures the whisky and imparts some additional flavors from the oak casks. This in turn is supposed to enhance the smoothness and the flavor. Incidentally, the name “Oban” actually means “little bay” in Gaelic. The town of Oban is of course located on a small bay.

This whisky comes in a simple bottle with a pale blue label. The liquid is a medium hue that rests about halfway between gold and amber. Opening the bottle, you detect notes of oak, espresso, citrus, apple, and salt. There is something sweet which might be honey or caramel. You also pick up some spice.

In terms of flavors, there are no major surprises here. On the palate, this whisky has a lot of the same notes that you can detect through smell. What I thought was espresso may actually be chocolate, but everything else is much as expected: apple, salt, oak, and orange. The spice note is more pronounced and definitely includes cloves. Maybe the only unexpected departure was the lack of sweetness. While I smelled honey or caramel, I don’t really taste any. Some of the fruit notes are slightly sweet, but it is a very faint sweetness. All in all, this is a pretty dry whisky. It is a little acidic on the finish.

Comparing this to the Oban 14 Year Old, I would say that there are some aspects I like better and others not so much. The 14-er was richer and spicier and had a lingering finish, but the Little Bay whisky seems to have more complexity in the flavors. I’m not really sure which of them was smoother.

You can purchase Oban Little Bay Small Cask for around $50-$70, which is not a bad price at all considering that this is a very enjoyable dram. I tend to prefer slightly sweeter whiskies, but I can’t complain about the dryness here. It was a welcome change from my usual selection, and an interesting reinterpretation of the original Oban.

Oban Little Bay Small Cask : Review Summary

Color: Medium golden amber.

Nose: Espresso, oak, citrus, apple, salt, honey, caramel, spice.

Palate: Chocolate, apple, orange, salt, oak, cloves.

Habanos Festival Date and New Releases

Habanos Festival.

It’s that time again … time for a round-up on all the news in the cigar industry! This week we have some updates for you on new releases from some of your favorite cigar brands. There is also some news on the legislative front (a mixed bag, as usual), and a festival announcement from Habanos. Let’s check it out.

New and Upcoming Releases:

  • This month, Davidoff will be launching the New Royal Series. Sound familiar? This release is more than a new look. The wrapper is changing from the Ecuadorian one used previously to an Aromatica Dominicana. This wrapper will be exclusive to the New Royal Series. Only 8 individuals are involved with wrapping the cigars by hand, each of whom has 15 or more years of experience.
  • Tatuaje has announced its “Unlucky 13” list of retailers for the year, each of which will receive special boxes of the 2016 Monster Series, starting with the Krueger, which has already shipped.
  • Viaje has just announced a couple of new projects. This includes the Full Moon release for 2016 (Full Moon has been shipped every year since 2013), which will be a Collector’s Edition, and the new Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua. This cigar looks a lot like the Exclusivo line which already exists, except that there is a new band and packaging, and it is also a brand new blend manufactured at the TABSA factory in Nicaragua.
  • As you likely know, a lot of cigar releases this year have been simply “appearing” on shelves because manufacturers have been forced to release them early in limited quantities to select retailers to get in under the new FDA deadline. Well, the newest one to turn up is the Alec Bradley Corojo, found at STOGIES World Class Cigars in Houston. It comes in five sizes: Gordo, Robusto, Churchill, Torpedo and Toro, and costs $6-8.
  • Habanos S.A. will be releasing the Cohiba Selección 50 Aniversario Travel Humidor at the Tax Free World Association Exhibition in Cannes, France. As you might guess, these humidors will go on sale at duty free shops worldwide. Each comes with a special gift inside: eight Cohiba cigars. No release date or price has been announced yet.

Legal News:

  • Live in Fulton County, Georgia? Unfortunately, you will no longer be able to smoke in parks throughout the county. The seven-member board approved the ban unanimously, and tacked on a hefty fine to boot: $1,000 and 60 days in jail. Just in case you don’t live in Georgia, you need to know that this is a big deal, because Fulton County is very populous; it contains around 90% of the city of Atlanta. The cities of Alpharetta, College Park, Sandy Springs, and East Point are all inside county lines as well. So that is a lot of people who can no longer smoke in public parks.
  • In happier news, if you live in the state of California, you can still smoke cigars at state beaches and parks. As we recently reported, Governor Jerry Brown struck down a bill that would have banned smoking on public campuses throughout the state. Now he has vetoed a second bill which would have prohibited smoking at state parks and beaches. Brown’s veto message does suggest that some regulatory steps should be taken, but, “The complete prohibition in all parks and beaches is too broad.”

Industry News:

  • President Obama has just nominated the first ambassador to Cuba since 1961, Jeffrey DeLaurentis. This is a huge step forward in the normalization of relations, and like all other steps in that process, represents excellent news for cigar lovers in the US.
  • In one more exciting news item relating to Cuba, Habanos S.A. has just announced the dates for the 19th Festival del Habanos, which will commence on Monday, February 27th, and run through Friday, March 3rd. The featured cigar has yet to be announced.

And that wraps it up for this week’s cigar news updates. Be sure to check back soon for more industry news!

Warped La Hacienda

Warped La Hacienda

Origin : Nicaragua
Format : Corona
Warped CigarsSize : 5.6 x 46
Wrapper : Nicaraguan Corojo
Filler : Nicaragua
Binder : Nicaragua
Factory : Casa Fernandez
Body : Medium
Price : $10.50 MSRP
More info about purchasing Warped cigars...

Warped is a rising star boutique brand (as far as I’m concerned, they have arrived) founded by Kyle Gellis. In recent years, they’ve received accolades for their unique blends, and if you haven’t delved into the Warped brand yet, now is the time. A great place to start is with La Hacienda (“The Estate”). Warped brought back an old Cuban brand for this blend, and this Nicaraguan puro has been a home run, and it’s a staple in my humidor. I’m amazed at the consistency in performance and flavor profile.

Read the full review of Warped La Hacienda...

Releases from Romeo y Julieta, My Father & Alec Bradley

My Father The Judge

It has been a pretty good week all-around in the cigar world. There are a number of exciting new releases to share, and there is also some good news on the regulatory front. Let’s check it out.

New and Upcoming Releases:

  • As you may recall from literature class, Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet took place in Verona, Italy. Now Verona serves as the stage for launching the new Romeo y Julieta Capuletos, which measure 6 inches with a 53-ring gauge. This launch is part of a new program by Habanos to launch special release cigars in individual cities before pressing on to global distribution. There is no word yet as to when Romeo y Julieta Capuletos will be available worldwide.
  • If you were at IPCPR this year, you may have seen the new My Father release “The Judge.” But you may also know that the packaging was not yet finalized at the show. Well, now it is. These cigars feature a chestnut-brown band with the name “The Judge.” The color closely mimics that of the wrapper leaf on the cigar. There is also a Victorian-style logo. The overall effect is very stylish.
  • Alec Bradley will be releasing a new cigar with sun grown wrappers soon. We do not have a lot of details on this yet, because this is one of many products recently distributed in small quantities to limited retailers to get in under the FDA pre-approval deadline. The new product was spied at STOGIES World Class Cigars, and is billed as the Alec Bradley Havana Sun Grown. Four sizes will be available: Churchill, toro, torpedo and robusto, and the line will sell in the $7-$9 range.
  • As you may know, the Joya De Nicaragua Rosalones Reserva debuted recently in Spain. Now the company has announced that it will be shipping out the cigars to the rest of the European markets. Joya De Nicaragua Rosalones Reserva comes in four sizes and is priced in the $2.80-$5.00 range.

Legal News:

  • Over the past year, smokers in Worcester, Massachusetts have not been faring too well. The minimum age to buy tobacco jumped from 18 to 21, and smoking has been banned in a number of establishments. Tobacco retailers have also faced new restrictions. There is finally some good news on this front, however; the Worcester Board of Health has decided not to ban smoking in the patio areas of restaurants and bars, and has also opted not to ban flavored tobacco products from being sold. These motions are now off the table until further notice.
  • Finally, in one more item of encouraging regulatory news, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed legislation which would have banned smoking on public university campuses throughout the state of California. Public universities will remain free to set their own rules.

Thanks for checking in with us for this week’s cigar updates. Be sure to check back soon for more cigar news!

Partagas Seleccion Piramide

Partagas Seleccion Piramide

Origin : CubaPartagas
Format : Piramide
Size : 156 x 21 mm (6 1/8 x 52)
Price : UK price £20 (£160 for the seleccion of 5), 15.80 Euros online (€79 for seleccion)
More info about purchasing Partagas cigars...

I am reviewing this cigar as part of the seleccion as I happen to own the set and see that this and the Romeo are needed to complete the review set on CigarInspector (Cohiba Seleccion Piramide, Hoyo de Monterrey Seleccion Piramide & Montecristo Seleccion Piramide). The other three I have video reviews on my YouTube channel CigarHub.

So I’m sitting here with this rather impressive seleccion box, I mean it’s incredible – the small wooden humidor the set comes in, the smell right as you open the box, the unbelievably beautiful looking cigars you get to see as soon as you take off the wax paper. What’s the first “out of place” thing I notice? This Partagas. It really stands out.

Read the full review of Partagas Seleccion Piramide...

Caldwell The King is Dead

Caldwell The King is Dead Toro Negrito

Origin : Dominican Republic
Format : Toro
Caldwell Cigar CoSize : 6 x 52
Wrapper : Negrito Dominicano - 2008
Filler : Corojo Ligero Dominicano 30% – 2006; Negrito Viso Dominicano 20% - 2008; HVA 20/20 50% - 2010
Binder : Corojo Dominicano - 2006
Price : $10.50 MSRP
More info about purchasing Caldwell cigars...

Please welcome Scott AKA The Bare Hand, our new author! He starts with a very detailed review of a boutique cigar, Caldwell The King is Dead. Enjoy!

The King is Dead by Caldwell Cigar Company, owned by Robert Caldwell, is their second blend. They make very small batch releases, so finding them can be somewhat tough, but this cigar has been a hit, and I’m excited to finally give it a go after resting in my humidor for about a year.

Interestingly, according to Robert Caldwell, this cigar was blended with the intention of smoking the related brother blend, Long Live the King (which is fantastic BTW), just before. Unfortunately, I did not have that opportunity, but this cigar was enjoyable nonetheless.

This blend utilizes some rare and underused Dominican tobaccos (just check the blend. What a mouthful!), so I’m preparing for a unique experience.

Read the full review of Caldwell The King is Dead...

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