Cigar Art Feature and Giveaway: Meet Eric Renner

Eric Renner Painting

Many of you will remember the giveaway that we did with Darrel Morris a year ago. Well, now it’s time to introduce you to yet another incredible cigar artist and offer you yet another chance to win free custom artwork!

Today I want to introduce you to Eric Renner. Eric Renner is a cigar enthusiast who paints “life’s little indulgences” with stunning, lifelike detail. Eric uses oil paints and birch panels to create his remarkable works of art.

“These days it seems like we’re more busy than ever,” Eric writes on his website. “These paintings are about the small indulgences we grant ourselves when we put the stress of everyday life aside for a few hours. They are reminders of those relaxing moments, enjoying a drink, a good cigar and great conversation with friends.”

Eric Renner

Eric’s skill with a brush has received acclaim from art critics like Brian Sherwin, editor of The Art Edge, who commented, “Artist Eric Renner's still life paintings are marked by a strong sense of class and sophistication. His body of work provides a jumping point for fond memories shared between friends. The work I observed is strengthened by a striking use of color and composition—his playful use of light and form elevates the inviting feel of these works. These impressive still life paintings welcome viewers to take a seat and reflect on cherished memories."

Looking at Eric Renner’s oil paintings, I think you’ll be blown away by the degree of detail in them. His interplay of light and shadow and textures and color creates an inviting, warm ambiance and a sense of privacy and tranquility. These paintings don’t just embody the delights of cigar and fine wines, but our greatest indulgence—living in the moment and truly luxuriating in those sensory experiences. Whether it’s a moment of solitude and reflection or a moment of shared familiarity, you’ll find it reflected in Renner’s beautiful works.

I recommend you take a gander at Eric’s gallery and take one of those moments now to lose yourself in the worlds he has created. Also check out his Facebook or Instagram and follow for updates. Eric has many lovely paintings for sale, and does accept commissions!

Fuente Evening

But now’s your chance to win a custom painting for free, so let’s get onto the giveaway! Eric has agreed to do a one-of-a-kind oil painting for the winner. If you are selected, you can name one of your favorite cigars, and Eric will paint it for you in the style of “A Fuente Evening” (size: 7 inches x 14 inches). You will be able to contact Eric directly and work out the details (Eric likes to paint with the cigar in front him, so you’ll need to choose a reasonably priced option so he can pick it up at the store). Once the painting is complete, Eric will ship it to you free.

Entering is easy! Just post a comment below mentioning your favorite painting from Eric’s website; feel free to explain why you like the painting. Good luck, and thanks for participating!

PS Contest is open to US residents only. The winner will be announced in one week, next Thursday.

A Special Winter Smoke Sampler

Great Winter Smoke Sampler

A few weeks ago we published an article with a selection of our favorite short cigars for winter. Thanks to your comments, that article has since been updated with even more suggestions and became a truly valuable resource.

We went even further and partnered with our friends at Famous Smoke to give you an opportunity to purchase some of the cigars from our selection at a discounted rate. This is how the "Great Winter Smoke Sampler" was born. The 8-pack consists of the following cigars:

  • 2 x H.Upmann Sun Grown Short Churchill
  • 2 x Herrera Esteli Short Corona Gorda
  • 2 x Joya Red Short Churchill
  • 2 x Oliva Serie G Special G

The sampler is offered at $29.99 (~$3.75 per cigar), which is a 36% discount on MSRP. You can have a look and order here.

Smoking a Wet Cigar… Wait, What?

Smoking a Wet Cigar

There have been several heated discussions in blogs and forums on the web, over the benefits of wetting your cigar before smoking it. Min Ron Nee, a well respected aficionado was the one that said he sometimes puts his cigars under the tap before smoking them to enhance their flavours and the overall smoking experience. Some people said that it did seem logical, some more adventurous tried it and some simply said this was impossible! I thought I should try the experiment myself and find out if wetting a cigar would make it more pleasurable to me. To be able to compare it with a dry cigar, I picked up two Ramon Allones Small Club Coronas, in order to smoke them at the same time. Both cigars were from the same 2008 box.

Click here to read the full article...

Amazon Contest Winner


The winner of the $39 Amazon gift certificate is disvet03. Congrats! Please get in touch to claim your prize.

Long ashes everyone - and stay tuned for more contests in future!

PS If you would like to support, feel free to make your Amazon purchases through this link. Thank you!

Whisky Review: BenRiach 15 Year Old (Sherry Cask Finish)

BenRiach 15-Year-Old (Pedro Ximénez Sherry Cask Finish)

I’ve tried a few BenRiach whiskies over the years, and most of them were heavy on the peat. There are times when I like peat, but I often find it overwhelming, so I haven’t really gotten into the brand all that much. Recently, though, I decided I would try the BenRiach 15-Year-Old. I’d read that it’s a lot different from other whiskies in BenRiach’s catalog, and having tried it, I must concur.

The BenRiach 15-Year-Old was made using a two-step maturation process. First the whisky was matured in American oak bourbon barrels. Then it was transferred to casks from the bodegas of Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia. These casks previously were used to mature Pedro Ximenez sherry. Having had good experiences before with whiskies aged in sherry casks, I figured this one might be worth a try.

In the bottle, the BenRiach 15-Year-Old is a deep amber colour. Aromatic notes include caramel, vanilla, pineapple, and nutmeg. But all of these notes are melded into something dusty. The best way I can describe it would be to say that it smells like the bottle was left open in an attic for a decade.

Flavours are quite surprising given these aromas. I was expecting this to be overwhelmingly sweet because of the caramel smell and the sherry, but both of those flavours are quite well blended into the whole. Other notes include orange, cherries, pepper, nutmeg, wood and—yes—peat. Thankfully however the peat is very light and stays in the background where it doesn’t take over the entire flavour profile. There is plenty of spice. The finish is long and dry with the fruit flavours lingering.

I can definitely tell that this is a BenRiach whisky, but it is far more balanced to me than most of their whiskies. I enjoy peat, but I like it in short, controlled bursts. I don’t like when it takes over a drink completely. Here the peat is just one element weaving into the whole. I was also pleased that this wasn’t overwhelmingly sweet (nor does it taste like dust). All in all, it exceeded my expectations. You can purchase the BenRiach 15-Year-Old for around $50-$60, which isn’t cheap, but it’s worth your money.

BenRiach 15 Year Old: Review Summary

Colour: Amber.

Nose: Caramel, vanilla, pineapple, nutmeg, dust.

Palate: Caramel, sherry, wood, orange, cherries, pepper, nutmeg, peat.

Amazon $39 Gift Certificate Giveaway


As I stated in my best cigar books post, proceeds from sale of books would be given back to one lucky reader in the form of a gift certificate. Here is another one. It is a gift card for $39 that can be redeemed on (doesn't work on or .fr).

Just leave a comment on this post to be entered in the draw. The winner will be announced in one week, next Thursday.

PS Want to support Just do your Amazon purchases through this link.

EP Carrillo Seleccion Oscuro Nacionales

EP Carrillo Seleccion Oscuro Nacionales

Origin : Dominican RepublicEP Carrillo cigars
Format : Corona
Size : 5 1/2 x 44
Wrapper : Mexican San Andres
Filler : Nicaraguan
Binder : Ecuadorian
Price : ~$6.50 each
More info about purchasing EP Carrillo Seleccion Oscuro...

The EP Carrillo Seleccion Oscuro was unveiled at the last year’s IPCPR. It is the first time the brand has ever made use of a San Andres Oscuro wrapper. You can buy it in six different sizes: Robusto Gordo, Nacionales, Small Churchill, Especial No. 6, Pirmades Royal, and Dinamicos. For this review, I tried the 5 ½ x 44 Nacionales.

Read the full review of EP Carrillo Seleccion Oscuro Nacionales...

Happy New Year 2016!

Happy New Year 2016!

Can you believe that it’s already 2016? Seriously, it feels like just yesterday that President Barack Obama announced the normalization of relations with Cuba. To think that was more than a year ago now!

There’s been a lot of news this year both on the Cuban normalization front and with other developments. Let’s check it out.

Legal Stuff:

  • In February, Nebraska passed a smoking ban exemption bill to allow smokers to again enjoy cigars in bars and shops.
  • In June, Louisiana rejected an amendment which would have imposed a tax on premium cigars.
  • Massachusetts meanwhile decided to crack down in October. New laws prohibit sales such as “buy one, get one free” and other promotions in cigar shops. The new restrictions also prohibit internet sales. Cigar-branded merchandise like apparel can no longer be sold in cigar shops, and shops must also display official warnings.
  • Cleveland recently raised the minimum age to buy tobacco to 21.

So on a legal front, it’s been a mixed bag—good news in some states and bad news in others.

Industry News:

  • Davidoff made a major land acquisition in Nicaragua and Honduras: 150 hectares in all. This together with a new factory will allow the company to expand production starting in January of this year.
  • President Dan Carr and General Cigar have parted ways. The new president is Regis Broersma.
  • The Cigar Association of America is under new leadership as well, having recently elected Javier Estades of Tabacalera USA as its new chairman.
  • There have been developments all year in the normalization process between Cuba and the USA, but most of the adjustments have been minor, and the trade embargo is still in effect. We are still pretty far from unrestricted travel between the two countries, so we’ll all have to hold our breaths and wait for things to play out.

All in all, it’s been a pretty good year for the cigar industry, even though we’ve still been dealing with some regulatory challenges in the US. At least a couple of states have actually lifted restrictions or rejected tax hikes, and the industry itself is very healthy. The US-Cuba normalization process sure feels like it’s taking forever, but even baby steps are huge after half a century of animosity. I can tell that we’ve got another bright year ahead of us. So pull out your favorite cigar pairing and let’s make a toast to 2016!

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