“The Cigar Lover’s Compendium”: review & giveaway

Cigar Lover's Compendium

While reading is one of my favorite hobbies, cigar study has never really driven me to the realm of books. The majority of information I have learned has come from word of mouth or experiences, verification of information online and other electronic research. When Cigar Inspector approached me to review a newly released book I jumped at the opportunity to explore a new (to me) avenue of learning in the hopes that I might not only be able to learn something myself but also convince those less inclined to read that it can be fun if you choose the right content. The vehicle for accomplishing this is Lawrence Dofman’s book The Cigar Lover’s Compendium : Everything You Need to Light Up and Leave Me Alone.

In order to understand the purpose of this book, the reader need only look as far as the title. A compendium is a summary of a larger knowledge base that while to the point, still offers a certain amount of depth. Based on this descriptive title I would expect the book to cover the gamut when it comes to cigar information including the historical progression of tobacco, information about the various types of cigars, selecting and smoking them and pretty much the highlights from each vital area of the cigar world, which so many of us have come to enjoy.

Dorfman does a very good job at staying true to the focus of his book and that is to provide the reader with a portable reference guide and means of entertainment. He does not distribute five hundred pages on the American and Cuban Tobacco industries but touches on the key elements contributing to their differing pasts. Additionally, the author does a very good job of walking the reader through the entire smoking process beginning with locating a cigar, followed by selection, cutting, lighting and finally enjoying the experience. He does this without attempting to cover thousands of brands, vitolas, or blends. His down to earth attitude and straightforward approach serve to cut through the mystique of cigar smoking making for a very approachable read.

On the whole The Cigar Lover’s Compendium (available from Amazon) is a very good basic reference guide. It will not exhaust a single topic but again, that is not its purpose. A person who is new to the hobby or has not thought about the cigar experience byond just the smoking of a cigar will benefit from the book greatly. Although I would not suggest someone who has been around the proverbial cigar block make this their must-read, there are enough poems, anecdotes and random factoids to interest even the most experienced aficionado. Personally, I enjoyed the read and it has sparked interest in areas that I will research more indepth but having completed it, will likely pass my copy onto a friend or acquantaince to enjoy further, rather than keeping it around to continually utilize.

Now for the fun part – courtesy of Robert Sembiante from Globe Pequot Press, we’ve got 6 copies of The Cigar Lover’s Compendium to give away. That’s right, SIX copies. Just leave a comment on this post to be entered. US only. The winners will be chosen at random and announced in one week.

Playboy : The Book of Cigars

Playboy - the book of cigars

I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of Playboy: The Book of Cigars – the new edition. This edition was updated featuring brand new pictures and text. The pictures are some of the best I’ve seen. It’s written by Aaron Sigmund and Nick Kolakowski (Smoke Magazine).

There is a wealth of information for the novice and the seasoned aficionado.

You can learn everything from seed to cigar, from common sizes, wrapper types and growing regions. It’s elegant and sophisticated.

Plus there’s a few pictures of pretty women with cigars thrown in for good measure :) Pick one up today!

Playboy - the book of cigars

Carlito’s Stogie Nubber

Stogie Nubber

Opening the package I was startled. The Stogie Nubber was a bit larger than I expected. Standing it on the table, I understood why. A wide base makes for a stable holder. Everything about this thing seems well thought out. Looking at it, it resembles the nose cone of a rocket. The design of it makes you think it is more fitting for some piece of space age equipment, than for a cigar accessory. I unscrew the top, it is a nice smooth action, and reveal the spike. The spike is nicely integrated with the whole of the unit, and lined with sharp ridges. The entire Nubber has a solid heavy feel in my hand, but rests very comfortably in my grip. I carefully spike my nub and the spike goes in smoothly, no tearing of the wrapper. Holding the Nubber feels very natural, no discomfort at all. Setting it on the table it sits stably, the only oddness being that the wind makes the cigar spin like a propeller. I finish my cigar, the Nubber never heats up in the least and holds the cigar perfectly. Putting the edge of the cigar on the ashtray I give a quick tug, and the nub pops off the Nubber easily.

This is a great addition to anyone’s cigar kit. Beautifully machined, nicely designed, and does exactly what is advertised.

The Ci-Garage

After a long hiatus I have returned. My travails have kept me away from the cigar world for far too long. So, to celebrate I have a brand new accessory review for today. With father’s day coming up now is the time to look over accessories and find that perfect item for the cigar fan who has everything.

Ci-garage

The ci-garage is a a fascinating device I found while randomly cruising the Internet. I happened upon CiGarage.com and felt it absolutely necessary to contact the creator and order one of these babies.

After an unexpectedly quick delivery I was able to test this out and here are my impressions.

First, the Ci-Garage is extremely well constructed. It arrives in a nice black box with red lining and is presented as a gift item. I opened it, bent it a bit and tried to stress the hinges a little. It seems very durable. Inside the box is a slot for a cigar (corona fits best, but some robustos also fit), a box of matches, a magnetically attached cutter, and an ashtray.

The cutter is a single guillotine, with a somewhat odd design. At first, it’s a little difficult to manage, but gets easier with time. The matches are a nice addition and can be replaced with your favorite wooden matches. The ashtray seems a bit small, but after smoking a complete 6 x 50 and using the ashtray I found it was able to hold the entire ash down to the nub.

I also tested the heat resistance of the ci-garage by placing a lit half smoked cigar in it and closing it for 15 minutes. The case got warm, but not overly hot, no signs of melting, and the cigar lit and tasted as fresh as when it was dropped in.

My final opinion? This is a well constructed accessory that could be handy for many cigar smokers. It fits in the pocket about the same as a three finger case and sits very stably on a vehicle dash or desk. It’s a great all-in-one solution for the cigar smoker as long as you aren’t using a larger ring gauge cigar. I would recommend this as a great father’s day gift. Just make sure you put a nice quality stick in it or you are going to have to deal with the sad puppy dog look on your fathers face when he sees it’s empty.

Havana Draw Enhancer & other gear

Havana Draw Enhancer

Cold, windy, snowy days are no fun. So sometimes, I take that chance to stroll through R&D to see what’s new and interesting. Today was a real treat, three new items were presented for my perusal. All three came from the Don Salvatore company and all three served very specific needs. First up was the Havana Draw Enhancer, Pen Style. It sat there on the desk resembling nothing more than a decent store bought ink pen. Taking the cap off, however I was in for a treat. Out came a steel rod with file-like serrations up its length. Fortunately for this review, I happened to be carrying a cigar with draw issues. Pushing the enhancer into the cigar is a bit scary at first, you are certain it’s going to tear the cigar apart. But, once you get it into the cigar and push it all the way, it is smooth and easy, and pulls back out just the same. After testing the draw, I found it to be completely cured of its blockage. A second cigar attempted later did not go so well, I was not careful enough with the direction of the enhancer, and went through the side of the cigar. Luckily, it did not cause it to be unsmokable. This item is extremely effective at what it does and should become a regular item in your pocket. It’s built well, and looks like nothing more than a normal ink pen. Think about the look on someone’s face next time they ask to borrow your pen, and you have to tell them your pen doesn’t write.

The second item is a large ring gauge cutter. This item is a normal double guillotine cutter, but just a bit larger than normal. I used this with a 62 ring gauge stick, with no difficulties. Smooth, even action, sharp blades, and a nice solid feel. This is a great cutter.

Large cigar cutter

Item three is a 3 finger large ring gauge case. The one I was given for review was black leather, and lined with cedar. The case holds three large gauge cigars (more of the smaller ones) and closes very tightly. Keeping things nice and fresh as you go about your day. The only negatives I could see: the large size might make it difficult if your jacket pocket is not up to size, and it closes so firmly that it tends to tear off pieces of the cedar lining. Except for this, it is a great case, solid and secure.

The items can be found at numerous online retailers. Full details can be found at DonSalvatore.net. They seem to be a great company that values the craftsmanship of their products.

Agent 86 out. And remember what R&D says, It’s all fun and games until someone blows up, then it’s science.

Adorini Sorrente

Adorini Sorrente

A couple of weeks ago, I received an e-mail from Andrea at Adorini Humidors, who asked me whether I wanted to review one of their products. Of course I said yes and just a few days later I received a package via UPS, sent by Adorini’s distributor, HumidorDiscount.com.

Now, I was expecting a basic model, probably a 25-count, but they generously sent me the Sorrente humidor that can contain up to 75 cigars. As a side-note, I have already thought about ordering a humidor from them in the past (for a gift) but finally ended up getting one in a B&M store, so I was really curious to see how it would work out.

First of all, I must mention the fact that the device was very well packed, with a good number of protective elements inside the box – it could easily resist severe shocks that can occur during shipping. When I took the humi out, I was pleasantly surprised by its weight and massive appearance. Examining the humidor, I was impressed by the quality of materials – the black lacquer finish looks excellent. This is definitely something that would make a good gift.

Adorini Sorrente

The contents do not disappoint. There is a booklet in 3 languages which contains all the information one needs to know about using a humidor. Even a complete newbie would be able to set up his/her humidor with this guide. All the necessary accessories like distilled water, a humidifier and a hygrometer, are included.

To test the humidor, I simply followed the instructions (there were two steps – filling the humidifier and moistening the humidor, the hygrometer being already calibrated). I was able to obtain a constant level of humidity and the cigars that have been inside for over one week now look rather good.

As for the pricing, Adorini is probably not the cheapest option you have, but this really depends on several factors. First of all, I noticed that it’s much harder to find an affordable humidor in Europe than in the United States. Secondly, depending on your experience, it might be better to order a newbie-friendly package that contains everything you need.

Overall, I can say that the price/quality ratio is good. Adorini Sorrente is a great medium-sized humidor.

Palio Combo. Part 3: Palio Cutter

Palio Combo

This is the third and final installment of a three part series I have doing on this combo from Cigar Solutions. I have reviewed each item individually and in this review I will wrap up my thoughts on the entire combo package.

Up for review this time is the Palio Cigar Cutter.

Palio Black Plastic Cigar Cutter

Palio claims that out of an undying pursuit of precision and excellence, they crafted Palio to deliver only the finest cuts for your very best cigars…time and time again. Engineered for today’s connoisseur, Palio’s superior design and construction make it the premiere choice in cigar preparation. Let’s see how it stacks up.

Price: ~ $35

Appearance : Rating: ★★★½☆
It is nice looking, but nothing spectacular. No one is ever going to look at it in admiration unless they are cigar buffs and are aware of the Palio name and warranty.

Construction : Rating: ★★★★★
The Palio is extremely well built. It has an ergonomic design which does make it slightly easier to use that some other guillotine cutters. There is a small detent, and you cannot accidentally open it too far. As advertised, it is extremely sharp. It is so well made the cutter carries a lifetime warranty should you ever feel the blades are getting dull. The best part is you can just walk into any Palio dealer and they will exchange it right there with a new one.

Ease of Use : Rating: ★★★★★
It is very easy to use. I am not sure if the finger rests really help or not, but I have successfully cut some large ring gauge cigars without a problem. It is also easy to make a very fine small cut from the cap without any tears thanks to the sharp blades. The handle also sports an indent which doubles as a cigar rest.

Value : Rating: ★★★★☆
At $35 I could buy a lot of cheap $2 cutters. I have been using the same $1.99 cutter for about 2 years and it is just starting to make bad cuts. So, it could be a while before I would have caught up to the $35 price point.

Overall : Rating: ★★★★☆
If you smoke a few cigars a day, then the Palio could easily pay for itself in no time, not to mention the excellent warranty. It is also cheaper than some of the other “precision” cutters out there. If you are in the market for a new cutter, I say look no further than the Palio. You will not regret it.

As a combo I would say this is a very nice little bargain. At $4 more than just the Palio alone, you can get the cigar stand and the admittedly flawed Walnut cigar case. I would say as a whole it is more than worth purchasing. I also found Cigar Solutions easy to deal with and they provided an easy transaction with very prompt shipping.

Disclosure: CigarInspector.com is not affiliated with Cigar Solutions.

Palio Combo. Part 2: Cigar Case

Cigar Case

This is the second installment of a three part series I have doing on this combo from Cigar Solutions. I will review each item individually and then the combo as a unit.

Up for review this time is the Walnut 2 Cigar Case.

Walnut 2 Cigar Case
Price: ~ $10

Appearance : Rating: ★★★★★
The case is very attractive with a satin oil finish on the outside with semi-hidden brass hinges. The inside is natural wood finish. I received several comments about it when using it at my local shop. It also comes with a felt bag that is meant to keep the case from getting scratched.

Construction : Rating: ★★½☆☆
The felt bag that comes with the case seems well made and is double sewn at the seams with a draw string to close it.

Cigar Case

The case seems solidly built with the previously mentioned brass hinges. It also has four earth magnets to hold it closed. Unfortunately, there are some major design flaws: The cigar case is fine when storing a lancero or petite corona. When trying to store anything larger than a 52 ring gaguge, the case will not completely close. The case is also not air tight and does not have any kind of humidification. Anything you carry in the case will have to be smoked that day.

Ease of Use : Rating: ★★★★★
It’s not going to get any easier than this: open case, put in cigars, close case.

Value : Rating: ★★☆☆☆
At $10 you could do better for a case, even though this is attractive. If you want a wood case and understand its limits, it’s okay.

Overall : Rating: ★★★☆☆
As I said earlier this is an attractive case. However in practice, it’s kind of useless except for small ring gauge cigars. You can get a Cigar Caddy 2 cigar case for the same price which is air tight and has a humidity device. The Cigar Caddy 5 cigar case is just $2 more and the Cigar Caddy 10 cigar case is just $3 more! So if all you need is a cigar case and you aren’t going for the looks, I would say pass on this case and get a Cigar Caddy or similar.

Disclosure: CigarInspector.com is not affiliated with Cigar Solutions.