Last month I took some well-needed healing time from a medical procedure done in late summer. While recuperating, I tasked my favorite tobacconist to find a good “value” type cigar, that embodied the spirit of the traditional Cuban while giving the average hobbyist the opportunity to indulge themselves without cleaning out their bank accounts to pay for it. Quite frankly, Bolivars are a brand that I often overlooked, but after consuming the box I just did, I certainly can say that I would be more open-minded to them being suggested to me in the future. Did the Bolivar Poderosos meet my expectations?? You bet they did, and then some. This smoke offered expected standards for a Cuban torpedo, but tossed in a few pleasant surprises to boot.
Brrr… can you believe that winter is already here? There is a lot I love about this time of the year, especially holidays and spending time with family and friends. But I pretty much dread it from a cigar smoking perspective. I can’t smoke in the house, and there are not many cigar-friendly lounges anywhere near where I live. That means I have to smoke outdoors. And it gets cold here.
You can’t really enjoy a good stogie when you’re just sitting there shivering and wishing you could go inside. And it can take a couple of hours to get through a cigar, unless you're smoking something really short like the Romeo y Julieta Petit Churchill or a Nub, so you have to find a way to stay warm if you’re going to get through the winter. How do I do it? I stock up on winter accessories. Here is what I recommend!
1. Pick up some fingerless gloves or heated glove liners
Keeping your hands warm is a must! But at the same time, you need to be able to actually use your fingers to hold your cigar. For that, heavy-duty gloves are obviously not going to cut it.
So what I recommend is that you pick up some of those fingerless gloves which keep your hands warm, but give you all the dexterity you need. A pair of such gloves will set you back around $10. You can even buy gloves with flaps that go over where your fingers are. Another alternative is just to buy heated glove liners. These have fingers, but they are made of thin material since they are designed to fit inside your actual gloves. So they offer you a perfect compromise between a full-glove and a fingerless glove in terms of warmth and dexterity.
2. Grab some heat packs for your gloves
I am also a fan of those little heat packs you can fit inside your gloves (some gloves have a special pocket for the heat pack). If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, these are packets which are popular with skiers and snowboarders. They contain a safe, inert mixture of chemicals that react and generate heat when they are exposed to the air. Once you activate them, they can provide you with hours of warmth. You can even store a half-used pack in an airtight container, and it will give you more heat later. These things rock!
3. Get some tubos for your cigars
Not all outdoor challenges in winter involve your own comfort. Both the dryness and the sharp drop in temperature outdoors can cause your cigar to split open. For this problem I have a few suggestions:
Keep your cigar warm as long as possible. If you have to carry it around outside for a while, make sure it is in one of your inner pockets or in your hand.
Consider keeping your cigar inside a tubo if you’re going to be out for a while before lighting up. This will help to lock in the moisture.
Cut the cigar indoors where it is warm so that you don’t shatter the cap.
Usually I bring a tubo with me if I’m going on a walk or taking my cigar somewhere during the wintertime. Otherwise, I just cut it while I’m indoors and then carry it outside in my hand and smoke it right away.
4. Buy an outdoor heater
If you have a dedicated smoking spot outdoors in the winter, consider investing in a patio heater. Some are small and portable, and many of them include wheels. You can set up the heater wherever you need it and enjoy a smoke in real comfort. Depending on your patio config, you might need a bigger "restaurant" model. Keep in mind that they tend to consume propane tanks like crazy, so this will require a further investment.
5. Make sure you are equipped with a lighter that can handle winter weather conditions
Some lighters struggle in cold temperatures. Butane lighters need to be kept warm to work. If you use one of these, hold it in your hand or carry it in an inner pocket until you are ready to use it. A triple or a dual flame lighter is preferable because of wind. If you find the butane lighter unreliable, consider instead opting for a Zippo-type lighter. You should find this more dependable in winter temperatures. Make sure you choose one which will be able to perform even in harsh, windy conditions and won’t blow out.
A couple of final items of advice. First, bundle up when you are smoking outside! I usually am wearing several layers and a heavy coat. Putting a couple of those warm glove packets in my shoes also helps a lot. Also, wear a hat. You lose most of your heat through your hands, feet, and head, so if you can avoid that, you will feel a lot better.
I also tend to stick with petit coronas and short robustos. I usually steer away from stogies that are going to take two hours, and stick with those that are ideal for a shorter span of time. That way I can really enjoy myself and not worry about whether I’m going to get tired of the cold in an hour (that would just be a waste of a good cigar).
Staying warm and enjoying your cigars outdoors in the winter can be a challenge, but for me it’s definitely worth the effort! Hopefully you find some of these tips and tricks useful. But I know I can always use more suggestions. What are your favorite outdoor winter cigar accessories?What are your tricks for staying warm?
It is not a secret that Frederic and crew at LCDH have a superior “nose” for quality tobacco with the cigars they seek and sell and this issue fits in seamlessly with their product offering. The flavor of a Cuban delivered in a mild aromatic package of a Nicaraguan makes this blend a nice addition to any humidor and a truly enjoyable ready-to-consume cigar as-is. LCDH kicked off the marketing of this product issuing a single cigar with orders placed and shipped in October, as well as a free cigar giveaway contest on this site. They shouldn’t have to give many away, as this cigar sells itself with the flavor notes offered and its quite reasonable pricing.
DISCLAIMER: I was “gifted” a copy of this cigar with a recent order, but have subsequently purchased 2 boxes for my own use.
The Cojonu (ballsy in Spanish) series by Tatuaje is comprised of several blends, each released in a given year - it doesn't mean that the cigar was produced during that year though, so we can't really talk about "vintages" here. Some of the blends have previously been reviewed on the site: Tatuaje Cojonu 2003, Tatuaje Cojonu 2009 & Tatuaje Cojonu 2012.
Construction is absolutely flawless with this cigar. The roll is seamless, the cigar is firm to the touch with a little bit of bounce.
The draw is great on the Cojonu 2006 and the burn is even. The ash was nice and compact with no flowering but it was very weak and fell off at about the half inch mark. The body of these cigars is medium to full but the strength is full especially towards the end of the cigar where it gave me a little buzz.
Some nice deep rich flavors from the start. I get coffee beans, nuts and a toasty almost chary cedar flavor. There is some pepper but it is very balanced with the rest of the flavors. In the second third some sweet honey notes come in and out which gives the cigar a nice creamy texture in the mouth. The final third was much of the same with the addition of some cocoa flavors. The flavors also became more full and pronounced in the final third.
I really enjoyed the Tatuaje Cojonu 2006 blend. The price tag on this guy is way out of an everyday cigar, but would make a nice occasional smoke for most of us. The flavors were balanced and complex which is a must for a cigar that goes over $10. The one downside to this cigar is that it doesn’t vary much from the other Tatuaje Miami’s that I’ve smoked except for the fact that it is a little stronger than the regular line.
Cigar monthly clubs and beer monthly clubs have been there for ages. I've looked at some of those clubs in the past only to find a second-choice selection of smokes for a regular retail price (at best). But it seems like the subscription boxes trend revived the monthly clubs and brought them at the next level. Flaviar is one of the new actors in this field (and we partnered with them to offer you a gift - keep on reading!).
Flaviar'smonthly tasting box contains three curated spirits (whisky, rum, gin, cognac...). The drinks are nicely presented and accompanied by tasting notes. Update: each tasting sample is 45ml, so there are 135ml total in the box. I found that one sample was enough to do two decent tasting shots (or three small tasting shots). Enjoyed one or several of the spirits? They are available by bottle in the shop (some items might require registration to see). I have already used a similar concept for wine and it went well - of course, everything depends on the selection. As you can see from the picture below, I did receive a box (disclaimer: free of charge) with 5 whisky samples from Flaviar. In fact I really liked all of them except perhaps the Amrut Indian whisky which was somewhat rough. The peaty Swiss Santis is very interesting, while Nikka and Glenmorangie are well-known brands that do not require a special introduction. If all their boxes are equally good, this might be a very good way to discover new stuff. I can also see it working really good as a gift.
Flaviar also developed an alternative to tasting notes called Flavour Spiral, which is a more visual way to discover a particular spirit's flavor description. Too innovative? Time will tell.
Now on to the perks. Courtesy of Flaviar, we've got a complimentary rum tasting box, called "Here Be Pirates, Yo-Ho!" to give away to one of our lucky readers, simply use the widget below to enter. As usual, a quick question and some sharing options - good luck everyone! The winner will be announced in one week.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday cigar deals, carefully hand-picked for you. This post will be constantly updated, bookmark for future reference!
JR Cigars - simply but efficiently, JR Cigars offer $20 off $100+ orders. You might also want to download their new app, Beat the Dealer, for additional discounts and special offers - the app looks rather good!
Famous Smoke is playing it differently this year and has got plenty of different offers, each running for just one hour. Free shipping, free smokes, nice discounts - you name it. They call it Couponbuster, check it out. Update (thanks Matthew!): code 20off4me will get you a 20% discount.
Cigar Federation - up to 50% off singles. The list can be found here, things get sold out quite quickly though. On Wednesday 25, additional $3 off if you use code EBFSINGLE at checkout.
CigarPlace.biz - a selection of already discounted items with an additional 40% discount if you use the code "clearance". The list of items on sale is available on this page.
Cigar Terminal - the already popular All-Stars Cuban Samplers are discounted for Black Friday. A selection of 10, 20 or 30 Cuban sticks, starting at $69. Good value!
Black Cat Cigar Company - Black Friday blowouts feature quite a few of 50% off deals, and you might find something interesting in there.
[thanks Jonathan!]Corona Cigar Company - 10% off everything (no restrictions) & free shipping over $50. Use code 'Blackcyber15' at checkout.
Swiss Cigar Bank - 10% off for any order containing 2 boxes with code SCB2.
The Casa Torano Maduro is by far the darkest Maduro I have ever seen. This cigar has a jet black wrapper with virtually no veins and has a solid feel to it. The roll is seamless but has a sloppy double cap.
It has a nice draw with a bit of resistance. The burn is fairly even and the ash is a whitish grey color that is solid and has no flowering or flaking. The body of the cigar is medium as well as the strength of the cigar.
The Carlos Torano Casa Torano Maduro has a base flavor of wood and natural tobacco but features nice notes of roasted nuts, coffee beans, and a fruity sweetness that reminds me of maraschino cherries; you know the ones they put on your ice cream sunday, or in your Old Fashioned’s. However, as the cigar progresses, the cherry sweetness turns more to an apple flavor which is quite interesting. Overall the flavors are about medium in intensity on this cigar.
Overall I thought this was a nice cigar. It has some nice complexity to it and for $6.50 I think it’s a superb deal. This is usually not the style of cigar I smoke but I really enjoyed the Casa Torano. I am one of the Don Pepin, heavy hitting, fuller the better cigar smokers and I think that crowd may not like this cigar because it doesn’t have that pop or flare that those types of cigar typically have. However, I think if they are in the right mindset that this is going to be a delicate smoke I think they could really enjoy it.