Buying cigars in Amsterdam

P. G. C. Hajenius

Amsterdam... what a great city. One of the most beautiful in Europe, in my humble opinion - I love the architecture, the atmosphere, the people - the only thing missing is a national cuisine! :) By the way, if you're planning to visit Amsterdam, I suggest you rent a flat because there are very few hotels, and those are pretty expensive! We had a 100 m² two-bedroom flat for 110 € / night, whereas a friend of ours found himself a 11 m² hotel room for 80 € / night.

For those of you who still want to smoke cigars in Amsterdam (some people forget about their hobby in this city), I selected a couple of places where you can find everything you need. The first one is called P. G. C. Hajenius, it's a huge cigar shop with a long history, located in the heart of Amsterdam (Google Maps >). Even if you don't smoke cigars, it's an interesting place to visit because of its art deco interior that hasn't changed since 1915. The walk-in humidor is exceptional, sellers are professional, you can even visit a tobacco museum. There is also a lounge where you can smoke your cigar and pair it with a selection of drinks:

P. G. C. Hajenius

If you find yourself quite far from the city center and crave a cigar, you can also get one from the Davidoff shop (Google Maps >) and smoke it in the Vondelpark nearby - I believe it's the biggest park in Amsterdam. Again, a walk-in humidor and a wide array of Cuban and non-Cuban sticks.

Davidoff Amsterdam

Of course, do not hesitate to post your favorite cigar places in the comments below.

Update: you might also want to visit the La Casa del Habano Amsterdam, located in The Conservatorium hotel (Google Maps >). Thanks patrickledden for the tip.

Update #2: have a look at David's comment below for even more good places in Amsterdam.

Smoke a JJ for JJ day

Today, July 22nd, is the annual "Smoke a JJ for JJ day". As some of you might know, in 2007 our friend Jerry Cruz from lost his child, JJ "The Little Robusto" to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). I am joining him this year in smoking a cigar in JJ's memory. I am lighting up a Ramon Allones Specially Selected, one of my all-time favorite cigars.

I am inviting all of you to spark up a Don Pepin Garcia Series JJ, a special edition Little Robusto or just your favorite cigar and think about the ones you love.

Smoke a JJ for JJ day

Buying cigars in Rome

Living in the heart of Europe and having access to low cost airlines make it so easy to visit other countries that it would be a crime not to travel. And there are so many great places to visit in the old world! Rome is often one of the first destinations but for some reason it wasn't until February 2012 that I finally managed to land in the Ciampino airport. I was immediately greeted with a downpour, then a snow storm the next day (apparently it snows every 20 years in Rome, see how lucky I am?). Fortunately, Rome and Italy in general have something that can make bad weather enjoyable. Wine! After having spent two weeks in Venise and Milano last year and one week in Rome in 2012, I came to the conclusion that Italian white wines are damn good and perhaps more uniform in quality than French wines, although they'd have a hard time competing with top of the class French whites like Puligny-Montrachet. As for the red wines, Chianti Classico has a flavor profile that I adore, I just can't get enough of this region.

Buying cigars in Rome

Emerging from two days of endless wine tastings alternating with short sightseeings under the rain/snow, I remembered that I needed to determine whether there was a place in Rome to buy some cigars. I did prepare my visit and knew that there was a La Casa del Habano in town, but I also wanted to check whether it was possible to find good offerings in regular tabacchi, smoke shops. I randomly entered three of them and was presented with a standard assortiment on tubed Partagas D 4 and Montecristo No. 2. Needless to say, no walk-in humidors. At this very moment my bored girlfriend told me that I had only one more chance left before she headed to the Colosseum without me. I quickly unfolded my map and we marched towards Fincato, the name of Rome's LCDH (exact address: Via della Colonna Antonina, 34, 00186 Roma, Italy Google Maps ->).

Buying cigars in Rome

The place is classy and luxurious. I am immediately welcomed by a gentleman who tells me to go upstairs where the Cuban cigars sanctuary is located. Indeed, the walk-in humidor is impressive and has all the latest releases like the Ramon Allones Superiores, the Italian regional La Escepcion or the Partagas Serie E No. 2. All the regular cigars are also present - and you can buy singles, too. Overall, a great cigar shops and one I highly recommend if one day you set foot in the eternal city.

Buying cigars in Rome

2011 Blog Highlights: Autumn

In the "Blog Highlights" series, we are taking a look back at the best cigar reviews & articles published on in 2011. Enjoy.

Cain cigar reviews

Cain Maduro Double Toro

M. Germany and Zack reviewed three Cain cigars in September-October 2011. Zack started with the Cain Habano Double Toro, M. Germany soon followed with a review of the Cain Daytona. Finally, they joined their forces to do a dual review of the Cain Maduro Double Toro.

Aging Room Small Batch

Aging Room Small Batch M356

Robustojoe reviewed a Dominican puro called Aging Room Small Batch, made at the Oliveros factory. "The Aging Room Small Batch M356 is the first truly outstanding cigar I’ve smoked in a long time."

"Off the Beaten Path"

Off the beaten path

M. Germany got a great idea to write about smaller cigar manufacturers: "Over the next several weeks, I will be rating and reviewing several cigars and companies that you most likely have never heard of." The "Off the Beaten Path" series turned out to be a very interesting guide to cigars that one can rarely find in online supermarkets or on B&M shelves. Have you heard about the Antillian Cigars Corp, Clints, Black Patch, Blue Mountain, El Sueno, Achievement?.. Now you did.

2011 Blog Highlights: Summer

In the "Blog Highlights" series, we are taking a look back at the best cigar reviews & articles published on in 2011. Enjoy.

Avo 85th Anniversary 2011 Limited Edition

Avo 85th Anniversary 2011 Limited Edition

In the beginning of June, I purchased a couple of these cigars when I was in Geneva. The Avo 85th Anniversary LE 2011 is a damn fine smoke both in terms of presentation and flavors. At $17.50 it's not going to make it into my regular rotation though.

Padilla Habano Artisano

Padilla Habano Artisano

This is the kind of cigar that immediately catches your eye in the B&M. That's exactly what happened to Zack who just had to purchase the Padilla Habano Artisano, featuring three different leaves in its wrapper. Unsurprisingly, it didn't exactly taste as good as it looked.

Top cheap smoke: Arturo Fuente Flor Fina 8-5-8

Arturo Fuente Flor Fina 8-5-8

Through the summer, we ran a contest which consisted in telling others about your favorite cheap smokes in a cigar review. You can click here to view all the submissions that were received. The winning review was about a cigar called Arturo Fuente Flor Fina 8-5-8 and it's indeed a great cheap smoke.

2011 Blog Highlights: Spring

In the "Blog Highlights" series, we are taking a look back at the best cigar reviews & articles published on in 2011. Enjoy.

Cigar Cartoons

A survival trip

Back in March, we published our first cigar cartoon created by Jerry King. Since then, we published over 35 cigar cartoons and received a lot of positive feedback from our readers.

Raices Cubanas Candela "War"

Illusione 88 Candela VS Viaje White Label Project Candela

Two boutique manufacturers, Illusione and Viaje, released their versions of candela wrappers. Aaron decided to find out which one is better. Discover who's the king of the candela.

Punch Rare Corojo 10th Anniversary

Punch Rare Corojo 10th Anniversary

Jason reviewed the latest release from Punch, their Rare Corojo 10th Anniversary. Better than the regular Rare Corojo, this full-bodied cigar is a nice value for smokers who seek power over flavor.

2011 Blog Highlights: Winter

In the "Blog Highlights" series, we are taking a look back at the best cigar reviews & articles published on in 2011. Enjoy.

Nat Sherman cigar reviews

Nat Sherman Westside 711 Gotham

In January, Nathan started his series (can two reviews be called a series?) of Nat Sherman cigar reviews. He started with the Westside 711 Gotham and, soon after that, reviewed the VIP Carnegie.

Liga Privada "Dirty Rat"

Liga Privada Dirty Rat

In February, Aaron started his reviews on the blog with a great write-up about the Liga Privada "Dirty Rat". This is how he described the flavors: "Wow!!! That’s all I can say about the flavor of this cigar. I’m more about the flavors than anything else, and this is a winner in my book."

Boutique cigars

Boutique cigars... Is there a difference?

Thanks to Robustojoe, we had the pleasure to read a great article about boutique cigars.

At this point in time, cigar making is going through a renaissance, and the boutique cigar business is the engine of its evolution.

Aaron’s Top 10 cigars of 2011

Throughout the year, I usually keep a running tab in my head of the best cigars that I have smoked but don’t really know which one is the best out of that list until I sit down and think it through. Like many other blogging websites that put out their “Top of” lists, there really isn’t a whole lot of science behind factoring how the cigars placed. I kind of just go by my gut feeling on which cigars stuck out and were the most memorable. So to make things short and sweet here is my personal list of the top cigar releases of the year,…

10. (Tie) Tatuaje Verite 2009 & Liga Privada Undercrown

Tatuaje Verite 2009

Liga Privada Undercrown

The tenth spot here could have been had by possibly another half dozen cigars that were itching to make it on this list, but I settled with two of the most frequently smoked cigars in my rotation in the last two to three months. These two are just excellently made cigars with unique flavors coming from opposite ends of the cigar flavor spectrum. The Undercrown has dark brooding, syrup, and cocoa powder notes. The wrapper tastes of hints of cognac or rum. The ’09 Verite was more earthy, savory, smooth, and delicately balanced. This year’s Verite release beats the hell out of last year's (and was decently priced at 1st tier prices),… thank you Pete!

9. Padron 1964 Anniversary SI-15 Maduro

Padron 1964 Anniversary SI-15 Maduro

I am usually never really super surprised by Padrons nor ever let down by them. I have a hard time finding them complex as a lot of other brands, but the flavors that do come out of a Padron are like light beams. The flavor profiles are very pronounced in Padrons, and the SI-15 Maduro was a party in your mouth with the amount of tasty smoke produced from this mammoth sized stick. This stick was like going down to your favorite chocolate shop, purchasing, and popping one of those dark chocolate truffles spiked with chipotle,…..spicy, sweet awesomness.

Link: review of the Padron 1964 Anniversary SI-15 Maduro

8. Grimalkin by Emilio Cigars

Grimalkin by Emilio Cigars

Gary Griffith really surprised a lot of reviewers this year by putting out some excellent lines of cigars made by some of the best in the business, especially me. Gary doesn’t divulge the manufacturer of these excellent smokes but we do know they are made in Esteli. My guess is that they have a classic old Pepinesque flavor and profile akin to Troya Clasicos or the Pepin made Atlantic Cigar Exclusive robustos. Unlike the latters, the Grimalkin is smoother and incredibly balanced. Those that pass up these because of the band are missing out on a special stick.

7. Tatuaje Wolfman

Tatuaje Wolfman

I was a little late in getting to sample these cigars (early December). It was hands down a better release than the bland “Face” from last year’s Halloween Series. Pete made the Sumatra wrapper cohesively complement the rest of the blend in this cigar rather than let it dominate the flavor (as Sumatra has a tendency of doing). There was some very unique complexity throughout this very long stick (>7 inches long) of herbs (yerba mate?), cinnamon, leather, and underlying sweetness. The best Halloween release since the “Frank” in my humble opinion.

6. Tatuaje 109 Federal 90th Rosado

Tatuaje 109 Federal 90th Rosado

Pete’s third entry in this list. The Federal 90th’s were an exclusive to celebrate Federal Cigar’s 90 years in the business. There were around 3 times as many Rosado boxes released than the Reservas. The Reservas, wrapped in a broadleaf wrapper, were the most prized cigars because of there rarity, but I think the rosados were a slightly better cigar. The rosados seemed to be more sweet and balanced. The Conde 109 shape was unique and gave the smoker a long fulfilling smoke. Aftermarket on any of these cigars can bring some steep prices.

Link: review of the Tatuaje 109 Federal 90th Rosado

5. La Flor Dominicana Colorado Oscuro

La Flor Dominicana Colorado Oscuro

Bam!!!,… another Sumatra wrapper on the list. I guess it is the year of the Sumatra wrapper. I have been hard sold on many La Flor’s, due to Litto’s concentration on power and strength instead of balance and nuance. Finally, it seems that Litto has dialed back his nicotine meter to produce a flavor bomb of a cigar that doesn’t have you yacking in your ashtray. Litto let the wrapper shine with flavors of Indian spices, leather, and sweetness. I loaded up on these personally due to their limited production.

4. Quesada Espana

Quesada Espana

Either the corona or the petit robusto were very good choices in this line. This was the essential Cuban cigar that wasn’t made in the island south of Miami. This cigar is all about balance. At medium bodied, this will probably not impress many LFD fans or other full bodied smokers. The Espana was just a beautiful cigar to hold, look at, and smoke. Flavors are of honey, vanilla, marzipan, mild pepper, nut, and graham cracker. You can either buy a box of Cuban Montecristos and wait a few years to get to this flavor profile, or skip all that noise and buy a box of these,… I’m sure your choice won’t be a hard one.

Link: review of the Quesada Espana

3. Tatuaje Black Petite Lancero (Original Release)

Tatuaje Black Petite Lancero (Original Release)

Most people deny there is a difference between the original release and the full production sticks. I personally prefer the original release of the Black Petite Lanceros. The wrappers seemed different to me with the OR’s having a lustful oily wrapper and the full production being more dry, blotchy, and less attractive. The flavor profiles are almost identical but the OR’s had more of the signature caramel flavor that helped shoot this cigar near the top of the list.

Link: review of the Tatuaje Black Label Petite Lancero

2. Illusione MK Ultra

Illusione MK Ultra

Like the “Little Engine that Could”, the tiny corona sized MK Ultra was a sleeper of a cigar release that gained a lot of momentum near the end of the year. In my official review of this cigar for this website I called this the “Dirty Rat Killer.” This cigar delivers a lot of the super dark flavors and earth of the Dirty Rat, but adds cocoa powder and huge amounts of leather, which I like greatly. Plus, the price is a little easier to swallow at $7-$8 apiece.

Link: review of the Illusione MK Ultra

1. Viaje Exclusivo Tower 45th

Viaje Exclusivo Tower 45th

In a sea of mediocre and just about dreadful releases from Viaje this year, this was the ONLY release that was worth a damn to me. Fortunately, the Tower 45th was so good that it landed in the #1 spot. I guess a blind squirrel does find nut every now and then! How did it land in the number one spot? First of all, it was the one cigar that every time I smoked one I could not put it down and about burnt my fingers off every time I lit one up. I LOVE rich leather flavors in my cigars, and this cigar had it in spades. This cigar married the profound, sharp flavors of dark chocolate and pepper of a Padron, balance of a powerful Pepin made cigar, superb construction, and that excellent leathery profile that comes from many Raices Cubana’s made cigars. What more can I say, other than Viaje turned the flavor volume up to an 11! I wished I would have bought a box of these when released to see how they will age, but unfortunately, I was only able to smoke a few of these, and I am still looking for more.

Honorable Mentions

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