Amazon $43 Gift Card Giveaway

Amazon

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 $43 that can be redeemed on Amazon.com (doesn't work on .co.uk 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 CigarInspector.com? Just do your Amazon purchases through this link.

Trinidad Vigia

Trinidad Vigia

Origin : CubaTrinidad
Format : Petit Robusto
Size : 4.3 (110 mm) x 54
Hand-Made
Price : ~$14 each
More info about purchasing Trinidad cigars...

First of all, some quick background info for those of you who are not familiar with the brand:
Trinidad is a Cuban cigar brand with an interesting history. Way back in its early days, Trinidad only manufactured exclusive cigars for visiting diplomats. It was only in 1998 that Trinidad cigars became available to the public. At that time, there was only one Trinidad cigar available, known as the “Fundadores.” The Fundadores was long and thin, quite the opposite of the short, fat Trinidad Vigia which I am reviewing today.

After its public debut in 1998, Trinidad expanded with more vitolas—for a while. In 2012, they cut back. In fact, the Vigia is the first new regular production from Trinidad since 2012’s withdrawal of the Robusto T and the Robusto Extra.

So that gives you some context on the Vigia. Let’s check it out.

Read the full review of Trinidad Vigia...

Screwpop Cigar Ashtray Giveaway Winners

Screwpop Cigar Ashtray

Last week we had a look at the cigar ashtray made by our friends at Screwpop, and had three samples to give away to our readers. You were over 180 people to participate and here are the three winners, chosen randomly:

  • Steve (almnbroxxx)
  • Craig (daron090)
  • Alex C

Thanks to Screwpop Tool for letting us run this contest and congrats to the winners! Please get in touch with us to claim your prize.

Rocky Patel Raises Prices & New Releases

Rocky Patel

In this week’s news, we have some exciting new releases from Drew Estate, Alec Bradley and La Flor Dominicana. Let’s check them out!

New and Upcoming Releases:

  • Drew Estate has announced the release of a new cigar exclusively for Stogies World Class Cigars of Houston, Texas, called the Herrera Estelí Edicion Limitada H-Town Lancero. This 7 x 38 cigar will come in packages of 10 and will feature Nicaraguan fillers in a Brazilian Mata Fina binder and a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper.
  • Yet another new cigar has inconspicuously made its way to retail shelves. This time it is the Alec Bradley Medio Fuerte Liga de Reyes, which appeared sneakily on the shelves of Atlantic Cigar. The new smoke includes filler leaves from Nicaragua and Honduras inside a Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan Habano wrapper. It is classified by the retailer as a “solid medium-bodied smoke,” and comes in seven sizes: 770, Churchill, Corona, Gordo, Robusto, Torpedo, and Toro.
  • Meanwhile, La Flor Dominicana is reviving the 2000 Series and adding two brand new sizes. All but one of the existing sizes was discontinued back in 2013. All the old sizes are being brought back, along with the new Lancero and Chisel sizes. The new version of the 2000 Series will include the same Cameroon wrapper, Dominican binder and Dominican filler.

Industry News:

  • As you are likely aware, many cigar companies have been raising their prices lately in response to the new regulations by the FDA. Rocky Patel is the latest to join the lot, having recently sent out a letter to retailers announcing a 5% increase on all products across the board—with the exception of the Rocky Patel Decade (which will increase in cost by 2.5%), and the Rocky Patel Vintage Juniors (which will go up in price by 5 cents for each cigar). The new costs will be implemented starting on November 15th. So now is the time to get in those Rocky Patel orders—before prices go up!

Legal News:

  • Two cities in California have just banned smoking in parks: Calistoga and Kerman. The Calistoga ban additionally prohibits smoking in lots which are adjacent to parks. The Kerman ban prohibits the sale or exchange of tobacco products in parks along with smoking.

Thank you for checking in with us for this week’s cigar updates!

Screwpop Cigar Ashtray Review

Screwpop Cigar Ashtray

I have a ton of cigar accessories, some of which are pretty specialized. You are probably already familiar with Screwpop; these guys are well-known for their keychain cigar accessories including punch and scissor cigar cutters. I have always enjoyed their products, so I was stoked when I found out about the new Screwpop Ashtray, “the world’s first cigar centric ashtray”, which I'm very a happy to have a chance to try today.

The Screwpop Ashtray is very sleek-looking, and designed out of melamine. Melamine offers a couple of advantages: it is lightweight, and it can stand up to high heat. The tray is pretty compact, and features a perpendicular orientation for the cigar. This allows you to get a nice view of your cigar while you are smoking, which is quite handy if you write a lot of cigar reviews and want to constantly check up on the ash and burn line and so on.

Functionally, there are some other cool features especially for cigars. For example, there is a ramp which the ash slides down from the holder into the bowl. There is also a cylinder which protrudes from the tray which you can use to knock ash off.

Screwpop Cigar Ashtray

All in all, the Screwpop Ashtray is a very cool tray which functions well and is a lot sturdier than it feels (it is rare to find a lightweight material this strong). About my only complaint is that it cannot hold a whole lot of ash, so it can fill up a little quickly - which means that during a gathering, you either need to empty it regularly, or make sure everyone has his/her own ashtray. Aside from that, it is awesome and knocks the socks off of any standard cigarette tray.

Courtesy of Screwpop Tool, we are giving away 3 Screwpop Ashtrays! To enter, all you have to do is comment. We will pick the winners randomly by next Tuesday and post their names on the blog.

Thanks for entering!

Visiting Cuba? You Can Now Bring Back Cigars & Rum

Visiting Cuba?  You Can Now Bring Back All the Cuban Cigars You Want

With elections just around the corner, the Obama administration has given one last gift to the cigar community domestically and abroad—and that is a complete lift of the ban on Cuban cigars and rum.

As of Monday, you will now be able to bring back as much Cuban rum and as many Cuban cigars as you want when you visit Cuba and return to the US. You also can purchase Cuban cigars in other countries and bring them back. So long as you are importing the cigars and rum for your own personal consumption (and not for retail purposes), you are good to go.

The only restriction still standing is on online sales. Sadly you do still need to travel in person to pick up your cigars. You cannot buy them through a website and have them shipped to you stateside.

This is the latest step in the normalization process announced by US President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro on December 17th, 2014.

On Friday, Obama also charted a path for the future which will hopefully cancel out the economic embargo on Cuba altogether. The goal is to build numerous ties between the US and Cuba so that the fates of the two countries are positively intertwined. This will make it difficult for any future administration to try and reinstate the embargoes and cut off relations.

As you may be aware, some action was already taken in January of 2015 to reduce restrictions on Cuban rum and cigar imports. But previously, you could only bring back $100 worth of cigars and rum in your carry-on. Now there are no restrictions, save for this: “normal limits on duty and tax exemptions will apply.”

Speaking on the change, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said, "These steps have the potential to accelerate constructive change and unlock greater economic opportunity for Cubans and Americans.”

There is no doubt that this will be a game-changing boon to the cigar industry. While the benefits will center on Cuba and the US, there will be a positive ripple effect which stimulates cigar sales throughout the world!

Whisky Review: Oban Little Bay Small Cask

Oban Little Bay Small Cask

If you have tried regular Oban Single Malt and enjoyed it, you will want to check out Oban Little Bay. The “Little Bay” whisky is created by taking the original Oban and aging it in small casks. This matures the whisky and imparts some additional flavors from the oak casks. This in turn is supposed to enhance the smoothness and the flavor. Incidentally, the name “Oban” actually means “little bay” in Gaelic. The town of Oban is of course located on a small bay.

This whisky comes in a simple bottle with a pale blue label. The liquid is a medium hue that rests about halfway between gold and amber. Opening the bottle, you detect notes of oak, espresso, citrus, apple, and salt. There is something sweet which might be honey or caramel. You also pick up some spice.

In terms of flavors, there are no major surprises here. On the palate, this whisky has a lot of the same notes that you can detect through smell. What I thought was espresso may actually be chocolate, but everything else is much as expected: apple, salt, oak, and orange. The spice note is more pronounced and definitely includes cloves. Maybe the only unexpected departure was the lack of sweetness. While I smelled honey or caramel, I don’t really taste any. Some of the fruit notes are slightly sweet, but it is a very faint sweetness. All in all, this is a pretty dry whisky. It is a little acidic on the finish.

Comparing this to the Oban 14 Year Old, I would say that there are some aspects I like better and others not so much. The 14-er was richer and spicier and had a lingering finish, but the Little Bay whisky seems to have more complexity in the flavors. I’m not really sure which of them was smoother.

You can purchase Oban Little Bay Small Cask for around $50-$70, which is not a bad price at all considering that this is a very enjoyable dram. I tend to prefer slightly sweeter whiskies, but I can’t complain about the dryness here. It was a welcome change from my usual selection, and an interesting reinterpretation of the original Oban.

Oban Little Bay Small Cask : Review Summary

Color: Medium golden amber.

Nose: Espresso, oak, citrus, apple, salt, honey, caramel, spice.

Palate: Chocolate, apple, orange, salt, oak, cloves.

Habanos Festival Date and New Releases

Habanos Festival.

It’s that time again … time for a round-up on all the news in the cigar industry! This week we have some updates for you on new releases from some of your favorite cigar brands. There is also some news on the legislative front (a mixed bag, as usual), and a festival announcement from Habanos. Let’s check it out.

New and Upcoming Releases:

  • This month, Davidoff will be launching the New Royal Series. Sound familiar? This release is more than a new look. The wrapper is changing from the Ecuadorian one used previously to an Aromatica Dominicana. This wrapper will be exclusive to the New Royal Series. Only 8 individuals are involved with wrapping the cigars by hand, each of whom has 15 or more years of experience.
  • Tatuaje has announced its “Unlucky 13” list of retailers for the year, each of which will receive special boxes of the 2016 Monster Series, starting with the Krueger, which has already shipped.
  • Viaje has just announced a couple of new projects. This includes the Full Moon release for 2016 (Full Moon has been shipped every year since 2013), which will be a Collector’s Edition, and the new Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua. This cigar looks a lot like the Exclusivo line which already exists, except that there is a new band and packaging, and it is also a brand new blend manufactured at the TABSA factory in Nicaragua.
  • As you likely know, a lot of cigar releases this year have been simply “appearing” on shelves because manufacturers have been forced to release them early in limited quantities to select retailers to get in under the new FDA deadline. Well, the newest one to turn up is the Alec Bradley Corojo, found at STOGIES World Class Cigars in Houston. It comes in five sizes: Gordo, Robusto, Churchill, Torpedo and Toro, and costs $6-8.
  • Habanos S.A. will be releasing the Cohiba Selección 50 Aniversario Travel Humidor at the Tax Free World Association Exhibition in Cannes, France. As you might guess, these humidors will go on sale at duty free shops worldwide. Each comes with a special gift inside: eight Cohiba cigars. No release date or price has been announced yet.

Legal News:

  • Live in Fulton County, Georgia? Unfortunately, you will no longer be able to smoke in parks throughout the county. The seven-member board approved the ban unanimously, and tacked on a hefty fine to boot: $1,000 and 60 days in jail. Just in case you don’t live in Georgia, you need to know that this is a big deal, because Fulton County is very populous; it contains around 90% of the city of Atlanta. The cities of Alpharetta, College Park, Sandy Springs, and East Point are all inside county lines as well. So that is a lot of people who can no longer smoke in public parks.
  • In happier news, if you live in the state of California, you can still smoke cigars at state beaches and parks. As we recently reported, Governor Jerry Brown struck down a bill that would have banned smoking on public campuses throughout the state. Now he has vetoed a second bill which would have prohibited smoking at state parks and beaches. Brown’s veto message does suggest that some regulatory steps should be taken, but, “The complete prohibition in all parks and beaches is too broad.”

Industry News:

  • President Obama has just nominated the first ambassador to Cuba since 1961, Jeffrey DeLaurentis. This is a huge step forward in the normalization of relations, and like all other steps in that process, represents excellent news for cigar lovers in the US.
  • In one more exciting news item relating to Cuba, Habanos S.A. has just announced the dates for the 19th Festival del Habanos, which will commence on Monday, February 27th, and run through Friday, March 3rd. The featured cigar has yet to be announced.

And that wraps it up for this week’s cigar news updates. Be sure to check back soon for more industry news!

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