Win a hookah – social media contest

Win a hookah!

Although we don't publish articles about hookah, we do enjoy a smoke from time to time. And when our friends from Hookah.org are willing to give away a hookah to one of our readers, we're always "in". We've given away quite a few of these in the past (the "Do a haiku... win a hookah" contest that we ran back in 2010, for example, was a lot of fun) and today it's time for another giveaway!

The prize is a small hookah kit with everything needed to get started: a hookah, some charcoal and some tobacco. In order to enter, use the widget below (if you are reading this via e-mail, you will need to click through to the blog post). There are several ways to enter, including Facebook likes, Twitter follows, tweets, refer-a-friend and a comment on this post. Good luck!

Hookah Social Giveaway

PS This contest is only open to 18+ United States residents. The winner will be announced in one week.

This week’s cigar deals (Aug 25 2014)

Torano Sampler from Famous

Three cigar deals, carefully hand-picked for you.

  • Free Oliva Sampler at Emerson's Cigars - with every box purchase of Oliva cigars, Emerson's is including a free Oliva 5-pack sampler (which looks pretty good). Check out for yourself here.
  • 11% off at CheapHumidors - Until the end of August, CheapHumidors offers a 11% discount on most of their items. Time to get a bigger humidor? Use coupon CHAUG11 on their site.
  • Torano Cigars 2013 Sampler - $29.95 for a 12-pack - a great value selection, 12 Torano cigars (including Master, Vault and Salutem) available at Famous Smoke.
  • And, as a bonus, here is a link to a giveaway organized by Drew Estate - you have a chance to win the first box of this Tienda Exclusiva release, signed by Willy Herrera (see the press-release here).

Spotted a nice cigar deal? Let us know!

Cigar Release: Tienda Exclusiva by Willy Herrera

Tienda Exclusiva by Willy Herrera

Drew Estate Tobacco Co. announced today the release of the first “Tienda Exclusiva by Willy Herrera”, a concept cigar by Willy Herrera. Made at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate in extremely small batches, the Tienda Exclusiva line is specially crafted for one retailer per release, with only a few releases scheduled per year. The inaugural “Tienda Exclusiva by Willy Herrera” blend was produced for the owner of Barrister Cigars in Union, New Jersey, David Mallow, following the 2013 New Jersey Cigar Festival.

When asked about the blend, Willy Herrera responded from Estelí, Nicaragua: “This was one of the blends that I was working on through 2012 and 2013. David smoked it at the Festival and kept coming back for more. Eventually, he smoked every cigar I had brought, which I thought would be enough for the entire week! I knew he loved the blend and it felt right assigning it to him for my first Tienda Exclusiva.”

David Mallow, owner of Barrister Cigars, said that, "the ‘Tienda Exclusiva by Willy Herrera’ is a truly beautiful project that I am honored to be involved with. It’s no secret that Willy is one of the most talented tobacco blenders out there, and we can’t wait to have the cigar in our humidor.”

As stated previously, every “Tienda Exclusiva by Willy Herrera” blend is a limited quantity production cigar made at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate. Jonathan Drew noted, “I recommend you don’t sleep on this one. These are one and done. Willy has a lot on his plate right now as Master Blender of La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate. As I’ve said before, ‘Boutique is in the Heart’ and Willy has spent so much time creating and experimenting with blends. We have some real gems out of the blends he has worked on. Now, it’s time to get them into production.”

The “Tienda Exclusiva by Willy Herrera” for Barrister Cigars is packed in 10-count boxes and will sell for $12.00 MSRP per cigar, plus applicable state taxes. They will be offered for sale on September 2nd from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM at a Barrister Cigars event in Union, New Jersey, with Willy Herrera and Jonathan Drew hosting the event.

Buying cigars in Brussels, Belgium

Le roi du cigare, Bruxelles

Update (Aug 2014): Following my second trip to the Belgian capital I added two more places to the list of cigar shops in Brussels. During my stay I met Robert, a beer fanatic and cigar aficionado, so stay tuned for some beer-related content in the coming weeks and months.

Brussels is another European capital that is definitely worth visiting (in fact, I think all of them are!), especially if you like good food. Indeed, whereas Amsterdam doesn't have much to offer in this field, Belgian cuisine is one that I really enjoy. A lot of dishes contain beer and cream, thus being rather heavy but delicious. They are especially good in winter. Oh, and I almost forgot Belgian ales, which are simply the best in Europe the world.

This being said, I also made sure to find a couple of cigar shops so that you don't have to waste time locating your favorite cigars when you're in town. The first one (pictured above) is called Le Roi du Cigare (Cigar King) and it has the Habanos Specialist label. It's located in the East of the City Center (the center being the Grand Place, probably the most beautiful place in Europe) at 25, Rue Royale (Google Maps >). It features a nice walk-in humidor with a wide choice of Cubans and non-Cubans. I noticed that the non-Cubans are mostly the same in those European shops - some Ashtons, some Davidoffs, as well as Macanudos. You won't find many boutique cigars in these shops. You're not here for non-Cubans anyway, am I right? Le Roi du Cigare lists all of their prices online (the page is in French, click on a brand to see all vitolas, prix unitaire means unit price), this is pretty useful. As far as I know cigar prices are regulated in Belgium, so you'll find the same rates across other shops.

Tete d'Or: a cigar shop in Bruxelles

Chances are you’ll hang around the Grand Place quite a lot. In this case, you simply have to stop by Tête d’Or (golden head) and have a look at their offerings (Google Maps >). The walk-in humidor stocks quite a wide selection of Cuban cigars as well as some surprisingly interesting non-Cuban sticks, including Tatuajes. The owner is friendly and obviously knows his stuff about cigars. In fact he was smoking one when I came in.

Davidoff Cigar Shop in Brussels

Another shop that I missed during my previous visit is the Davidoff B&M, located on the Place du Grand Sablon (Google Maps >). Plenty of expensive cigar accessories and a walk-in humidor (pictured above) that showcases cigars from the Davidoff group (Davidoff, Avo, Griffin’s, Camacho...) and also features a moderately large selection of Cuban cigars. The place is really classy. If you’re in the area, make sure you discover the Marolles district for an authentic Bruxelles experience.

Walter B, Bruxelles

The last shop is called Walter B and, as far as I remember, the man that you can see in the picture above is the owner. The place is smaller, but you will still be able to find the Cuban references you are looking for. Walter B is located West of the Grand Place (82, Quai aux Briques, Google Maps >). Plenty of nice sea food restaurants near this shop.

As usual, if you live in Bruxelles and/or know some other good places to buy/enjoy a cigar, please share them in the comments below.

What Are Tobacco Beetles and How Do You Fight Them?

What are cigar beetles?

It’s a day like any other day—or so you think. You head to your humidor to grab a stogie; you haven’t had one in a couple weeks, and it’s time for a nice long, languorous smoke. You open up your humidor and you stumble backwards in horror.

They’re so tiny you may not see them; in fact, you probably don’t. They’re only about the size of a pinhead. But you do see the damage they’ve created. There are holes in your cigars where the tobacco beetles have burrowed. You might see them crawling on your stogies or the insides of your cigar box. Whether you see them or not, your reaction is revulsion, panic, and outrage. Are your precious cigars ruined?

Click here to read the full article...

Best Cuban Cigars of 2013

It's true, we're seriously late with this year's lists. In the beginning, when we realized we missed the schedule, we were planning to just skip 2013 best of's and start afresh in 2014. But given the number of emails we received asking us to publish the top 5, we had to reconsider our position. So here it is, our selection of best Cuban cigars of 2013.

The list is composed of cigars that we smoked in 2013 (the box codes are mostly recent, 2012-2013, with one exception). Most of them are not recent releases and we picked the cigars that showed the highest consistency throughout the year. The Montecristo No. 4, for example, didn't make it to the list because it seriously lacked consistency both in terms of flavor and construction.

1. Hoyo de Monterrey Grand Epicure 2013 Limited Edition

Hoyo De Monterrey Grand Epicure 2013 Edición Limitada

This Hoyo de Monterrey seems to be a very successful edicion limitada. 2013 was a good vintage for LE's, as I hear the Punch Serie d'Oro No. 2 also smokes very good at the moment (review coming soon). This is how DrFever describes the Hoyo Grand Epicure LE 2013:

It is a lush, rich, creamy and extremely flavorful smoke. Every puff offered something different. It was extremely complex and had incredible depth to the flavors. The blend was always changing featuring chocolate, coffee, sweet cedar, leather, caramel, vanilla and mild pepper with hints of orange peel and dried fruit.

2. Partagas Serie P No. 2

Partagas Serie P No. 2

Partagas Serie P No. 2 is the Cuban torpedo that had the highest grades in 2013. The competition is rude in this segment, since both H. Upmann No. 2 and Montecristo No. 2 received really good praise too.

3. Trinidad Robusto T

Trinidad Robusto T

I've smoked 6 of Trinidad Robusto T's throughout 2013 and they have been very good: perfect balance, great complexity and no harshness at all. I still can't understand why in the world would Habanos SA discontinue such a wonderful smoke. I also noticed that, surprisingly, the ones that I smoked this summer seemed somewhat less complex to me, perhaps there's no use to age them further? I'm afraid it's the last time they make it to the top 5.

4. Bolivar Coronas Gigantes

I've had multiple opportunities in 2013 to dedicate 100 minutes to this impressive churchill. A friend gifted me a box of these in 2009 and thankfully there were no construction issues so far. It's a very special cigar to me because it was the very first cigar review on this blog, back in 2007. I guess it's time to update it, stay tuned.

5. Ramon Allones Specially Selected

Ramon Allones Specially Selected

Well, I'm really sorry for being somewhat predictable but the RASS remains (at least for us) the most consistent regular production cigar. It's the cigar I turn to, for the past 7 years, when I need something good and reliable.

What were the best Cuban cigars that you smoked in 2013? It's probably not that easy to answer this question in July 2014, but still, give it a try in the comments area below.

Riverside Lounge House Blend

Riverside Lounge House Blend

Origin : NicaraguaRiverside Lounge
Format : Robusto
Size : 5 x 50
Wrapper : Habano Ecuador
Filler : Nicaragua Corojo 99
Binder : Nicaragua Criollo 98
Hand-Made
Price : ~$6

The Riverside Lounge House is a little place you’ll find in Louisville, Kentucky. If you enjoy a relaxing environment with low ambient lighting and a strain of jazz playing in the backdrop, you would probably feel right at home there. At the Riverside Lounge House, you can enjoy a local craft beer, good company and conversation, and your favorite stogie. Riverside also makes their own cigars, and they were kind enough to send me a sampler of their house blend.

Read the full review of Riverside Lounge House Blend...

La Vérité Vintage 2008 : L’Esprit de Vérité

Tatuaje La Vérité Vintage 2008 Esprit de Vérité

Origin : Nicaragua
Format : Robusto
Size : 5 x 50
Wrapper : La Estrella Habano Criollo (’08)
Filler : La Estrella Habano Criollo (’08)
Binder : La Estrella Habano Criollo (’08)
Hand-Made
Price : ~$15 each

The La Vérité (the truth in French) project, developed by Pete Johnson, is an unusual undertaking using only tobacco from Pepin Garcia’s La Estrella (the star in Spanish) farm in Nicaragua, using only a single crop from a given year. The vintage concept is similar to wine, each vintage being significantly different from another. As far as I remember, one was even able to buy "futures" of the La Vérité series. To my knowledge, these cigars were relased in 2008 and 2009, while the 2010 release was delayed and still hasn't hit the shelves (correct me if I'm wrong).

The 2008 first size, La Vérité, is a 7 x 47 Churchill and is the commanding ship of the entire project. This vitola was available in boxes of 10, 25, 50, and master cases of 100. The second, L'Esprit de Vérité, is a 5 x 50 Robusto that is blended to be a lighter smoke. It was only available in boxes of 10 and 25. I think these are still available at some retailers, but of course at higher prices than initial MSRP (at least $15 per stick).

Read the full review of La Vérité Vintage 2008 : L’Esprit de Vérité...

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