“Off the Beaten Path”: Achievement Cigars (1/2: Propio)

Propio cigars

Since becoming a writer, I have come to a keen realization. In short, I am blessed. Through networking, I have met some amazing and passionate cigar manufacturers. None more passionate, however, than Mr. Max Myers. Max serves as CEO of Achievement Cigar Company, and his personal passion and drive has created something quite special in the cigar industry.

Achievement Cigar Company, ACC for short, is sectioned into three distinct brands. The three brands are comprised of Don Cervantes, Propio, and La Vina. The bad news is that only Don Cervantes is available in the United States for purchase, unless you are willing to purchase 200 or more sticks. Max states the following:

“If someone is a large scale buyer (200 sticks at a time) we have a way to serve them personally. If they are buying by the stick in the US, we are only selling Don Cervantes at this time, and they would need to buy from a retail store, as we committed to leave this brand for tobacconists. We chose to protect their territory from online sales as well as a regional exclusivity with other retailers.”

He also goes on saying:

“As for purchasing, we serve a network of VIP casino's, rich VIP clients, some members only clubs, and some retail stores. Retail stores are our smallest business.”

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“Off the Beaten Path”: El Sueno Cigars

El Sueno cigars

The Off the Beaten Path Series has certainly introduced me to some smokes that I would have never had the opportunity to try under normal circumstances. With El Sueno, this is probably the prime example of this type of situation. Hailing from Switzerland, Monsieur Mirko Giotto has attempted to tap into a Cuban dominated market, with his expertly blended Dominican treats. Being that I have never even been to Europe, I reiterate just how Off the Beaten Path this smoke is for me...

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“Off the Beaten Path”: Blue Mountain Cigars

Blue Mountain Cigars

When it comes to making a name for yourself in the premium cigar industry, image is important. However, image isn’t everything. In this industry, quality, taste, and the ability to leave a lasting good impression remain supreme. It’s rare for me to be disappointed with a cigar, or a manufacturer for that matter. Unfortunately, I have come to that crossroads of disappointed and hopeful.

Blue Mountain Cigars hails from Miami, and they manufacture their cigars at World Standard Factory in Esteli. A lot of great smokes come out of Esteli, and judging from their website, I was jaded by stunning visuals and delicious descriptions. This is where my high expectations came into play. As a wine connoisseur, however, my intuition kicked in by saying “typically the flashy stuff is crap”. Now, let me put my cynicism on hold for a moment to iterate that I give everything an honest and fair shot. I did have some good smokes out of this batch, but I really think this company can afford the honest constructive criticism. A product simply cannot improve if the manufacturer doesn’t know it’s not spectacular.

Upon contacting Blue Mountain Cigars, I was provided with a prompt response from Jacqueline Wright. It just so happens, that Jacqueline is the grand-daughter of famous Cuban cigar-master, Francisco Riquene. With that being said, I have no doubt that this company has the ability to grow into something special. But, just like everything young, it only gets better with age. I must say, I received cigars from Blue Mountain faster than any other manufacturer, but they arrived un-humidified and dry. Even though they arrived dry, it was nothing a couple weeks in “humidor intensive care” couldn’t fix. Currently, there is no option to purchase these smokes directly on the site, but they do provide a plethora of avenues in which to contact them. Thanks Jacqueline for providing me the opportunity to review your product, and I hope you take the things I say to heart in an effort to improve what has the potential to be great.

As we move into the review portion of this story, I encourage our fellow readers to take a moment to look at the entire line of Blue Mountain Cigars by clicking here. You will notice that their niche is the utilization of multiple wrappers on select sticks. Several companies do this, and few do it well. However, Blue Mountain pulls this off with flying colors. It’s hard to create straight lines and maintain quality when this is being attempted, but there are few flaws when Blue Mountain does this. The smokes are visually appealing, as they attract attention from your fellow smokers. Several times, fellow aficionados would comment on the stunning and flashy looks of the Blue Mountain line. What’s troubling, however, is the experience. On to the good stuff.

MSRP on the following sticks is not listed, as that info was not provided to me. However, from what I understand, they vary in price from $5 - $8.

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“Off the Beaten Path”: Black Patch Cigar Company

Black Patch Cigar Company

When I started researching companies to involve in my “Off the Beaten Path” series, I really wanted to find some companies that grow their tobacco right here on US soil. Honestly, that’s a really hard task. The growing of tobacco for boutique cigars is simply dominated by Nicaragua, Cuba, DR, Honduras, Brazil, etc… To find tobacco grown in Kentucky is not rare, as quite a bit of it is used for cigarette production. But, to find Kentucky tobacco that is grown to the meticulous standards demanded by boutique cigar smokers today, that’s a different story. Black Patch Cigar Company accomplishes just that.

Upon mentioning Kentucky grown tobacco to some of my local tobacconists, they all seemed to look at me like I was a damn fool. “Those can’t be good”, they would say with a sarcastic sneer, giggling to themselves like the typical cigar snobs they are. Well, I have news for them. They were wrong. And, I certainly appreciate Todd Whan from Black Patch for giving me the opportunity to prove them wrong.
Now, don’t get confused into thinking that any one of his Black Patch blends is a Kentucky puro. They most certainly are not. However, Kentucky tobacco is used in every blend made with a combination of tobaccos from the Dominican Republic as well. They offer three blends in several different sizes consisting of the Reserve Maduro, Select Blend, and the Classic. To see more information on their blends, visit their site here.

When you visit the site, you will find that all of their cigars are available for purchase right on the site. Most of them are moderately priced, and they are only sold in bundles. There are, however, samplers available for each blend, as well as a BPCC sampler containing 4 smokes that encompasses the entire line. Let’s rewind for a second. Notice that I said bundles. From what I can tell, none of these smokes are available for purchase by the box. Personally, when I visit any one of my local tobacconists, I don’t pick up a stick unless it’s in a box. I don’t care what the box looks like, but when I think of bundled smokes, I can’t help but think of private blends or factory seconds. In my opinion, for Black Patch to see a continued success and expand their business into tobacco shops across the nation, they need to be available by the box. However, I will say that Todd made sure the samples that were sent to me were properly packaged, and properly humidified. This tells me that orders from Black Patch are sure to arrive in great condition.

So, what do I have to say about my smoking experience? The following reviews will guide you through the completely un-ordinary smoking pleasure of Black Patch Cigars. The reviews are placed in no particular order, as I will simply allow the reviews to speak for themselves.

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“Off the Beaten Path”: Clints Cigars

Clint Eastwood

When the term “badass” comes to mind, the first image that pops into my head is of Clint Eastwood sitting in the desert with an arrow stuck in his shoulder. Cigar in mouth, and without a wince of intolerable pain, Clint manages to still maintain his ultimate “badass” status while Sister Sarah pulls the menacing arrow from his shoulder. Two Mules for Sister Sarah is only one of many movies that features the man himself with a gnarly, small ringed stogie clinched in his teeth. And, if my calculations are correct, Clint is a badass in almost every movie.

What if you could re-create that feeling? Well, except for the whole arrow in the shoulder thing. The majority of modern cigars these days have these trendy 54 and up ring gauges that absolutely hinder any chance of just letting your smoke hang in your teeth. Unless, of course, you are a fan of lancero’s and you don’t mind your friends looking at you like you are smoking a Virginia Slim. That’s where Clints Cigars comes in to the picture.

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“Off the Beaten Path”: Antillian Cigar Company

Antillian Cigar Corp

To kick off this series, I decided to start off with the company that had the most variety to offer. Although they are headquartered in Miami, the majority of their products are produced at Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia in the Dominican Republic. Yes, you heard right, Fuente. Founded by Don Juan Sosa in Cuba many years ago, the company was revived in the Dominican years later by grandson Juan Sosa. From there, Sosa Cigars was born.

When I contacted the Antillian Cigar Company to inform them about my piece, I was greeted with open arms by Arby Sosa. Arby supervises several of the Sosa Cigar lines, and he was more than happy to oblige. They have a great site that is quite easy to navigate, provides just enough information, and it provides the ability to order some of the lower ends of their line. However, if you want the really good stuff, you either need to be a dealer, or be willing to buy by the box or bundle in dealer sized quantities. You can also find several tobacconists that are approved dealers by clicking here. The product arrived in 4 business days (from Miami to Dallas, Texas), which tells me that they shipped the product promptly. The box I received was slightly damaged, but fortunately they packaged the product with great care, and none of the sticks were damaged. Although the sticks were not packaged with any humidification, they were sealed in ziplocs and felt perfectly humidified to the touch. When shipping is that fast, I guess you don’t really need it.

Several lines are offered by the Antillian Cigar Company, ranging from classic smokes, to smokes that may appeal to the next generation of aficionados that like cool and peculiar smokes. In a nutshell, they have all their bases covered, and they don’t leave a single smoker behind. You can view their full line here. Try to stop drooling on yourself, and let’s move on to the fun part.

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