Pipe Tobacco Blind Review – English Luxury @SmokesOnMain

This is the third of the three pipe tobacco reviews we asked our pipe smoking friend and founder of the Main Street Pipers Pipe Group, Jose Ruiz to write.

We gave Jose three unmarked bags of our SmokesOnMain premium pipe tobaccos to sample without a bit of info on the blends. This blend, #2 to Jose, is our English Luxury blend manufactured by Peter Stokkebye.

Ladies and gentlemen, here’s Jose……

Well it’s a cool gloomy day this Sunday evening, but it’s a great time to do another blind review for everyone. Hope your Sunday was a good one. This evening’s review is Bag # 2 from SmokesOnMain located in West Bend, WI.

Pipe: MM Country Gentleman corncob

Tobacco/ Aroma: Nice medium English aroma with Smokey Latakia, Sweet Virginia, Nutty Burley, Roasted Black Cavendish

Cut: loose ribbon cut with some smaller pieces.

Pack Method: Twist method

Taste: Natural sweet Virginia, smokiness from the Latakia, mellowness from the Black Cavendish. Good complexity and depth.

Strength: Medium-medium mild.

Room Aroma: Has some natural sweetness from the Virginia, not overly pungent/Smokey from the Latakia. Pleasant brown butter nuances from the Burley.

Notes: First thought was the bag aroma of a nice aged rum/caramel. With pleasing woody notes I’m sure are from the Latakia, which I enjoy a lot. Packs well, lit nicely which produced volumes of billowing white clouds of goodness. Smoke is cool, no tongue bite. Flavor is complex and rich. Great as an all day smoke or new to English blends. I recommend this one for all to try.

Rate: 3.75 out of 5

Keep on puffin!!!
The Piper

The Wife’s Review:

At a first “whiff” I got nervous about this tobacco. It initially hit my sinuses and gave me that itchy, sneezey feeling some tobaccos can present. I could almost instantly feel a headache beginning so I was fully prepared to hate it. Thankfully, it mellowed quickly. This blend did however have a tavern smoky odor unfortunately. Since I am a smoker, I didn’t mind that smell though. That stated, I refuse to smoke in my house because I don’t generally like that stale smoke smell that lingers in an enclosed place for long periods of time. So if this tobacco has to evoke a memory for me, pour me a good standard American, Budweiser or Miller Genuine Draft and transport me to the bar of my 20’s late on a Saturday night. Just please don’t give me the hangover in the morning.

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Pipe Tobacco Blind Review – El Dorado @SmokesOnMain

This is the first pipe tobacco review written by our pipe smoking friend and founder of the Main Street Pipers Pipe Group, Jose Ruiz.

We gave Jose three unmarked bags of our SmokesOnMain premium pipe tobaccos to sample without a bit of info on the blends. This blend, #3 to Jose, is our El Dorado pipe blend – also known as Lane Limited BCA.

Let’s see what Jose thought……

Hello everyone, hope all is well today.

SmokesOnMain asked me to do a blind tasting review for you all on one of the pipe tobaccos’ they have to offer.

I’m up for the challenge.

Todays review is the bag marked #3 that I received from SmokesOnMain’s owners Ron Jung and Pete West. The blend was selected by their tobacconist, Martin Klausmeier.

Pipe used: Dr. Grabow Omega rusticated bent briar

Bag size: 1 ounce zip-lock

Tin Note: Raisin, black cherry, date/fig notes.  Sweet notes definitely an aromatic in a good natural way, not chemical smell.

Blend: Dark-fired Cavendish

Type: Loose cut with some bigger cut ribbons

Strength: Mild

Taste: Nicely done sweetness of a black cherry, fig/date like nature. Not many good aromatic tin notes actually match the taste, this is one of the few to me that do. I would have liked a bit more richness and complexity, but it still makes you like it for being a mild taste. I’m liking this one so far.

Aroma: Very nicely done as far as the aroma is concerned. Everyone in the room just loved the smell and said you can smoke that one anytime you want to. Very much the black cherry/fig/date notes but not in a way that is fake or chemically. The aroma, even indoors is great, doesn’t irritate at all. Definitely a crowd pleaser.

Thoughts: A very nice black fired Cavendish tobacco with a smell that is amazing. Can be a bit moist and needed some dry time before you pack your pipe, as most aromatics do. I used the 3-tier method, but a little looser then normal. It lit very well after the true light was done. Needed a few relights from being a little moist. Had a constant sweetness of the black cherry/fig/date taste. It stayed cool, mild flavor thru out the smoke. Didn’t notice any tongue bite or harshness at all. Best if you smoke it slow. Room note was very pleasing to everyone. Over all a very nice all day smoke which wont burn you tongue, while everyone around you will like what your smoking. I recommend it for a good all day smoke.

Rated: 3 out of 5

The Wife’s Review:

We have no idea what this blend is but I rather like it. It is rich and deep with hints of chocolate, fig and other food type smells intertwined with the natural smoke. I think my inner chef dances with this tobacco. It’s not silly like the Swedish Chef of Muppets fame, nor is it Emeril Lagasse “bam!” but rather respectable and sophisticated like Rick Bayless of PBS’s Mexico: One Plate at a time or more accurately, if the chef of PBS’s Primal grill smoked a pipe, I could see him (Steven Raichlen) kicking back with this one after a meal he had cooked on his grill. When in the room with this pipe the words that come to mind is, “Bon Appetite!”

To find out more about this premium pipe tobacco blend and the others available from SmokesOnMain visit SmokesOnMain.com here…

Marty K’s Top Five “Not Necessarily New” Cigars of 2014

BlogMarty K’s Top Five “Not Necessarily New” Cigars of 2014

With every cigar magazine finished releasing their version of the “Top Cigars” of 2014, I thought the subject would make good fodder for a short series of reviews.

Rather than go into my usual depth, I’ll keep these short and sweet. High points only, mostly because these cigars have no low points…

Now most lists feature cigars that were released in 2014, but I’m not one to follow the crowd. Only three of these cigars were actually introduced in 2014. Mea a culpa.

But, of all the cigars I smoked over the course of the year (156 different brands, just for the record…) these five are my favorites.

5.  Partagas 1845 Extra Fuerte Gigante (new in 2014)

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano ligero

Binder: Connecticut-grown Habano

Filler: Dominican Piloto Cubano, Nicaraguan

Body: Full

Size: 6” x 60

Price: $7.49

Thoughts: The combination of the Ecuadorian habano ligero wrapper with a habano binder from Connecticut really provides a nice spice to the aroma. Piloto Cubano is one of my favorite filler tobaccos providing a nice strength to the blend. The Extra Fuerte is a full-bodied smoke with great balance and a wonderfully complex aroma. My only wish with this cigar would be if they produced it in a corona format. This is a must try cigar for all full-bodied fans.

4.  Padilla Reserva Corona (new in 2014)

Wrapper: Ecuadorian habano

Binder: Ecuadorian habano

Filler: Nicaraguan Corojo and Criollo

Body: Medium

Size: 5” x 43

Price: $6.25

Thoughts: Back in the day, I cut my teeth on Padilla cigars.   So much so, that I still go by the handle “PadillaGuy” on many cigar boards. And, of the Padilla blends I’ve smoked the new Reserva is one of my favorites. I’m a huge fan of corona-sized cigars as they offer one of the best vitola to really get to know a blend. The Ecuadorian habano wrapper on the Reserva natural delivers a pleasant spice with notes of pepper while the corojo and Criollo fillers add complexity and body. This medium bodied offering from Ernest Padilla and Oliva Cigar Company easily makes the Top 5…

3.  Camacho Triple Maduro 11/18

Wrapper: Mexican San Andres maduro

Binder: Honduran Corojo maduro

Filler: Dominican, Honduran, and Brazilian maduro

Body: Full

Size: 6” x 54

Price: $8.99

Thoughts: I’m often asked what my “favorite” cigar is and my answer is always the same. And, while I don’t have a “favorite” or “go to” cigar, if I had only one cigar to smoke for the rest of my days, it would be the Camacho Triple Maduro, hands down. The Triple Maduro was the first cigar blended using all maduro tobaccos for not only wrapper and binder, but all filler tobaccos as well. Quite full bodied and very slow burning, the Triple Maduro was the cigar I choose to smoke while taking my Tobacconist Certification Exam and continues to be a cigar I cherish each time I smoke one. If you’re a full-bodied fan or a true lover of maduro cigars, you simply must try this cigar. Interesting side note… the 11/18 size was named for former Camacho Cigar head Christian Eiroa’s mother’s birthdate, November 18th

2.  Chillin’ Moose Corona by Foundry (new in 2014)

Wrapper: US Connecticut Habano Rosado

Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra

Filler: Nicaraguan, Dominican, Mexican San Andres, US Connecticut Broadleaf

Body: Medium

Size: 5.2” x 45

Price: $3.59

Thoughts: It isn’t common for a sub-$4 dollar cigar to make any “top” list, but I’m not a common type of guy. Neither is the Chillin’ Moose from Foundry cigars a common cigar. For less than four bucks, you can pick up a Chillin’ Moose corona and find out what I mean. Produced by Michael Gianinni, creator of Foundry Cigars, the Chillin’ Moose may be the very best value in the cigar world. A gorgeous rosado wrapper covers a multi-nation blend of all long-filler tobaccos. This ain’t no mixed filler cigar! The body remains medium throughout the smoke while the blend delivers an amazing aroma and smooth smoke with a lingering finish. Comments usually associated with high priced sticks like OpusX? Yes. Price tag like an Opus? Not even close. Trust me, at this price point, you wont find a better deal, a more balanced smoke, or more unusual band art. Here’s to you Michael!

1.  Vega Fina Toro

Wrapper: Mexican San Andres Criollo

Binder: Indonesian TBN

Filler: Colombia, Honduras, and Dominican Republic

Body: Medium

Size: 6” x 50

Price: $5.89

Thoughts: Many of you may never have heard of Vega Fina cigars, let alone tried one, so this #1 selection may come as a surprise to some, so let me explain.

Vega Fina in the number one selling, non-Cuban cigar in Europe. Surprised?

In fact, Vega Fina outpaces many Cuban cigars on the European market. Surprised yet?

No? Okay, how’s this…

Vega Fina is a true bargain brand coming in under $6 for the 6” x 50 toro? Yes, for less than six bucks US, you can smoke the cigar that outsells most Cuban cigars in Europe, where they can smoke any Cuban cigar they want!

Now, that all being said, it’s not the reason I would pick the Vega Fina toro over all the others, it’s the total package. The Vega Fina toro is a medium bodied smoke at best, which makes the cigar very approachable to all cigar enthusiasts, old and new. A beginner can easily enjoy this cigar equally as well as a discriminating aficionado.

The Vega Fina blend of spicy Mexican Criollo wrapper, subtly sweet Indonesian TBN binder, and rich tri-country filler blend combine harmoniously to deliver a smooth smoke that leaves the palate with a savory, long finish. The aroma produced by the golden brown Criollo wrapper grown in the volcanic soils of the San Andres region is delightfully spicy with a touch of pepper over a baking spice mix.

Vega Fina cigars are beautifully constructed, burn correctly every time, and have a consistency between cigars not often accomplished.

So, there you have them, my favorite cigars smoked in 2014. I’d encourage you to compare these cigars with what you normally smoke and to try one or two of these outstanding cigars. The year’s young!

Good smokes…

Martin Klausmeier
Tobacconist

Tobacconist’s Review – Diesel Grind Double Toro

Diesel Grind Double Toro

Brand/Line: Diesel Grind

Purchase date:  3 March, 2015

Smoke date: 3 March, 2015

Vitola: Double toro

Size: 6” x 60

Purchase price: $5.65

Packaging: Cellophane wrapped single

Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sungrown Habano oscuro

Binder: Nicaragua

Filler blend: Proprietary Nicaraguan blend (secret)

Manufacturer: A.J. Fernandez

Blender: A.J. Fernandez

Distributor: Meier and Dutch

Appearance: The wrapper is an evenly colored, medium brown with a slight oil and a fair amount of tooth. The wrapper is applied seamlessly and has minimal veining. The bold blue foot band provides a nice contrast to the rich brown of the wrapper and adds distinction in a world of red, gold, and black cigar bands.

Construction: The cigar is rolled beautifully with no soft or hard spots. The cap is perfectly mounted. The foot reveals several bunches of well packed tobaccos.

Cut and light: The cap cut easily using my Xikar Xi grip cutter. The cold draw was ample and produced a sweet tobacco aroma. Lighting the Grind was easily accomplished with a single jet torch style lighter.

The Smoke: The initial puffs are quite spicy, with quite a predominate pepper note on the retrohale. The pepper notes subside after about ½ inch, however remain in the background throughout the smoke.

About an inch into the cigar, the strength mellows a bit settling in to a solid medium body. The flavors are woody and pleasant while the aroma has touches of tea and becomes slightly sweet.

From beginning to end, the Diesel Grind Double Toro maintained a perfect burn. The cigar produced a heavy, white ash that held on to the cigar with tenacity. You can even see the tooth on the ash, always a good sign!

Smoke time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Why I like this cigar: Personally, I don’t smoke a lot of extra-large, 60 ring cigars but the Diesel Grind Double Toro is one that would easily fit my usual rotation.

Unlike many gordos, the Diesel Grind Double Toro does not “draw like a straw,” providing just the right amount of resistance on the draw to allow for easy smoking without the cigar running hot.

The taste/aroma profile of the Diesel Grind is what I would term a “traditional” blend. Notes of wood, earth and a slightly bitter chocolate all meander in and out throughout the cigar providing enough interest make the cigar exciting without ever loosing balance.

While billed as “full bodied,” I would categorize the Diesel Grind as a Medium-Full body, leaning more toward the medium side.

Fans of cigars like Punch, Excalibur, and Rocky Patel’s “The Edge” will find the Diesel Grind’s profile to be similar, yet unique enough to be different.

But, my favorite feature of the Diesel Grind Double Toro has to be its price point. There aren’t many 6” x 60 cigars available under $8, let alone under $6, but that’s just where the Grind fits in, $5.65 a stick.

For a 6”x60 cigar hailing from the hands of A.J. Fernandez that’s all but unheard of.

Overall, the Grind is one of the better “new” cigars I’ve tried this year, a fact strengthened by its great price.

Grab a few and sit back… Enjoy!

M. Klausmeier
Tobacconist – SmokesOnMain

Top Cigars of 2014

Cigar and Spirits Magazine has just released their top 20 cigars for 2014 and this year’s #1 Cigar is the Norteno blended by Willy Herrera for Drew Estate Cigars.

Great news! We just received our first shipment of Norteno in both the robusto and toro sizes.

We have the Oliva Serie V Melanio, Cigar Aficionado’s #1 Cigar of 2014, on order and expected any day as well!

So very soon, we’ll have two of this year’s #1 Cigars of the Year ready for you to smoke.

And we’re happy to say that you can smoke quite a few other Top 20 Cigars from Cigar and Spirit’s 2014 list of amazing cigars at SmokesOnMain.

Right now, we have several of the top brands in stock, Including….

#15  JC Newman – Brick House Mighty Maduro

#13  Ventura Cigar Company – PsyKo Seven Gordito

#10  Padilla – Vintage Reserve

#8  Arturo Fuente – Anejo Reserva 48

#5  Rocky Patel – Vintage 1990 Torpedo

#4  Altadis USA – H. Upmann 1844 Reserve

AND now in stock….

#1  Drew Estate – Norteño by Willy Herrera

Tobacconist’s Review: Oliva Serie V Lancero

The Oliva Serie V Lancero

The Oliva Serie V Lancero

Brand/Line: Oliva Serie V

Purchase date: December 20, 2014

Smoke date: December 20, 2014

Vitola: Lancero

Size: 7” x 38

Purchase price: $6.65

Packaging: Cellophane wrapped single

Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Wrapper: Nicaraguan sun-grown habano

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler blend: Nicaraguan ligero (Jalapa Valley) and other Nicaraguan tobaccos

Manufacturer: Tabacalera Oliva de Esteli

Distributor: Oliva Cigar Company

Appearance: The Oliva Serie V lancero is wrapped in a rich, nearly rosado sun-grown wrapper. The wrapper has an oily sheen to it and has just a bit of tooth. The Serie V lancero is finished with a traditional cap rather than the “rabito” head commonly found on lanceros. The banding is minimalist with browns, reds and gold. In all, the Serie V is a great looking stick.

Construction: Lanceros are notoriously difficult to roll. The small ring gauge means that every single leaf must be positioned perfectly to provide ample draw, and the Oliva Serie V lancero is the picture of perfection. Solid yet not overly stiff, the cigar feels great in the hand and somehow, elegant.

Cut and light: Cutting the Serie V lancero is simple and the well-mounted head ensures that the cigar will maintain its integrity while smoked. The smaller ring gauge requires very little to get going and lit with a few passes of a single jet, torch lighter.

The Smoke: The Serie V produces some of the most complex and refined tastes and aromas of any cigar available in the world. The rich, oily habano wrapper contributes a spicy and leathery note to aroma while the filler blend brings flavors of coffee, nuts, and a bit of earth.

The blend produces a very smooth smoke despite its outright strength. Being a lancero, this cigar can overheat easily so taking one’s time is a must in order to fully appreciate all of the cigars qualities.

Smoke time: 45 minutes

Why I like this cigar: The Oliva Serie V is not, let me just say that again, NOT a cigar for a beginner. Not to put anyone off, but if you don’t have a moderately high tolerance for nicotine, you won’t be able to appreciate this cigar fully.

That being said, the Serie V is a very full-bodied, very flavorful cigar with an amazing aroma. All those 90+ ratings from Cigar Aficionado can’t be wrong… (Right?)

Nicaragua produces some of the richest black tobaccos in the world right now and the Serie V is one of the best examples of what can be done with high quality tobacco in the hands of a true master blender.

The habano wrapper delivers an amazing array of aromas and when combined with the rich fillers, produces a great mouth feel with a long lasting finish.

I like the lancero vitola particularly because in this small ring gauge, the aroma from the wrapper really shines through. (Those of you who’ve had a chance to talk with me know I favor smaller ring gauges just for this reason!)

Oh the whole, at under $7.00, the Oliva Serie V lancero is one of the best premium cigar bargains out there. Better yet? The come 36 to a box making a box purchase one amazing deal! I can’t think of another, multi-90+ rated cigar that can be bought in boxes of 36 for less than 7 bucks a stick.

Bargain hunters, full-bodied enthusiasts, this cigar is for you!

M. Klausmeier
Tobacconist – SmokesOnMain

Vaping Basics: It’s All In The Blend

Usually, when I write about a “blend” I’m discussing the mixture of black tobaccos that make up a premium cigar. Today however, we’re talking about the blend of propylene glycol and vegetable glycol used to prepare an e-liquid used for vaping.

Propylene glycol (PG) is an organic compound which is liquid, colorless, nearly flavorless with a slight sweetness. Because PG readily mixes with other liquids it makes a great base for our e-liquid. PG is also used in the preparation of many other daily items including some foods and medicines. PG is generally considered “safe” for human consumption and forms the base for many inhaled medications like asthma inhalers.

Vegetable glycol (VG) or glycerin is a naturally occurring compound derived from plants. Like PG it is also colorless, odorless, and nearly tasteless with a sweet flavor. VG is also used in many products we use daily and is also a common ingredient in medicines. Like PG, VG is generally considered safe for human consumption and is used in many food products.

E-liquids are created by blending PG and VG, in differing ratios, and adding flavorings, sweeteners, and often nicotine. Since both compounds are viscous (thick) liquids, it takes longer for the liquids to evaporate and when heated each produces a large amount of steam (vapor).

By mixing PG and VG in different amounts, manufacturers (and consumers) can control the amount of vapor produced by a particular liquid as well as controlling the amount of “throat hit” the user experiences.

While each manufacturer tweaks their e-liquids for a particular profile, here are some general guidelines that will help you in selecting the best blend for you.  (Ratios list amount of PG first, VG content second)

100% PG – produces a very strong “throat hit” and a clean flavor with very little vapor production

80%/20% – mixed using 80% PG and 20% VG this blend still produces a fairly strong “throat hit” but yields better vapor production from the VG

70%/30% – a very common blend which produces some “throat hit” and good vapor production

50%/50% – evenly mixed, PG and VG produce ample vapor with a noticeable “throat hit”

40%/60% – delivers substantial vapor with minimal “throat hit” and more sweetness

30%/70% – very good vapor production with minimal “throat hit” and more sweetness

20%/80% – very thick vapor production with very small amount of “throat hit” and even more sweetness

100% VG – amazing vapor production with no noticeable “throat hit” and a predominate sweetness

To sum it all up, the higher the concentration of PG, the more “cigarette” like the vaping experience will be with noticible “throat hit.” Increase the amount of VG and the vapor production goes up, “throat hit” goes down, and sweetness increases.

We hope this helps you better understand the complexities of creating an e-liquid and makes your next shopping experience at SmokesOnMain easier and more enjoyable.

Vape On!

Tobacconist’s Review: Joya de Nicaragua Red Toro

JdN Red Toro

Brand/Line: Joya de Nicaragua Red

Purchase date: 5 January, 2015

Smoke date: 5 January, 2015

Vitola: Toro

Size: 6” x 52

Purchase price: $7.05

Packaging: Cellophane wrapped single

Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler blend: Nicaraguan (Jalapa, Condega, and Esteli)

Manufacturer: Joya de Nicaragua

Blender: Juan Ignacio Martínez

Distributor: Drew Estate

Appearance: The Joya de Nicaragua Red uses bold colors and big bands to really announce this cigar. The Nicaraguan habano wrapper gleams with oil and shows a slight amount of tooth. Overall, the Joya Red is a very appealing looking cigar.

Construction: The Joya Red feels solid in the hand and well rolled. There were no hard or soft spots and the wrapper was applied nearly seamlessly. Overall, the Joya Red is a great looking cigar.

Cut and light: I cut the Joya Red using my Xikar Xi2 grip cutter and was able to produce a perfect cut. The cold draw is flawless, with just a slight resistance. After toasting the foot, the Joya Red toro light easily using a single-jet torch style lighter.

The Smoke: Unlike most Joya de Nicaragua cigars, the Joya Red hit and stayed in the medium body range from the start. The smoke is creamy and slightly sweet with spicy notes through the nose.   The spiciness increases a bit as the cigar is smoked, but never becomes overwhelming while the blend remains medium bodied throughout. As the cigar progresses, the aroma remains spicy, but other tones such as a slight floral aroma and a woody/nutty flavor develop keeping the blend from becoming singular or predictable.

Smoke time: 55 minutes

Why I like this cigar: I’ve been a longtime fan of Joya de Nicaragua cigars. For pure, unadulterated strength with amazing flavor and finish, it’s hard to be a Joya de Nicaragua 1970 Antano…

But, the Joya de Nicaragua Red is not about full on, in your face strength. Rather, the Joya Red delivers a flavorful and very aromatic blend without kicking your teeth in… Joya Red is all about balance.

The initial bit of the cigar does produce some rather bold spiciness through the nose, but this tempers as the smoke progresses. It’s the aroma that cinches the deal for me.

The Joya Red does a magnificent job of bringing great taste, plus wonderful aromas together while maintaining a medium body and it does so with a great price.

At seven bucks and a nickel, the Joya de Nicaragua Red provides at least an hour of fine smoking pleasure that can easily be enjoyed by fans of milder blends as well as full-bodied aficionados.

M. Klausmeier
Tobacconist – SmokesOnMain