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La Gloria Cubana Serie R Maduro

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been introducing a number of new smokes and new sizes from LGC into our “World Famous” humidor. The response from you all has been incredible as always. The cigar I want to talk about today is one that has recently only been available in a huge Presidente-type size called the No. 7 (7.0×56), which is an amazing smoke but can prohibit one from reaching for it if one doesn’t have 2 full hours available. I am very excited to report that we now have another great size of this cigar on the shelf, the No. 5 (5.5×54).

So let’s look at the blend.

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

This is a combination that we see quite often, but La Gloria Cubana in general, and this cigar in particular, have a taste and a personality all their own.

The wrapper has a beautiful marble of dark browns, and has that feel of soft cedar. Its got just a touch of sheen, but appears mostly matte and dry, though you can feel that the natural oils are present. The cigar is firm and feels evenly uneven, sort of lumpy and not perfectly cylindrical, but in a charming way. It has the aesthetic of a well-made, hand-made, artisan product.

Pre-light aromas are of a dark orange chocolate and black cherry. I straight-cut the cap, and take a couple dry pulls. The flavors are light and airy, and there is still some chocolate, dry cherry, and also plenty of leather. Time to light.

The first third has a medium body and a full, complex flavor with notes of sweet leather, earth, and dark chocolate. A long, firm ash developed, allowing the cigar to stay cool, and burn evenly. Entering the middle third, things took an interesting turn, with a very sudden flavor transition, as a strong cedar note took over, and the leather and earth took the back seat for the rest of the ride, and a very pleasant ride it was.

You can buy this cigar, and many, many others, on this website. Check out the Brands section to find your favorite brand and see the spread of options within. Or just stop into the shop, introduce yourself, and ask for the LGC Serie R Maduro. If you are down with full-flavored cigars, this is a must-try.

Keep Coming Back.

-DP

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Undercrown 10 Robusto

To illustrate just how good I believe this cigar is, I’m going to tell a quick story…

So I’m in Las Vegas with Carl at the Tobacco Plus Expo, an enormous gathering of basically every cigar manufacturer in the industry. Three days of sampling the latest and greatest smokes that each company has to offer. We tried them all. From major blockbuster releases like the H Upmann AJ Fernandez Heritage to little known boutiques like the ADVentura Queens Pearls. It was awesome.

At the end of this three-day cigar bender, we sat down for one final smoke before heading for the airport. Drew Estate had the largest, most extravagant booth in the entire convention center, complete with a cigar lounge, the perfect spot to rest our legs before the journey home. Out came the new Undercrown 10 in Robusto, and wouldn’t you know it, it turned out to be the best cigar I’d smoked all week. With the entire industry there showing off their stuff, old favorites and new unheard-of’s, and the best cigar in the building was this cigar.

So let’s break down the blend.

Like its predecessor the Undercrown Maduro, here we have a blend of Nicaraguan fillers and a thick, dark, Mexican San Andres Maduro wrapper. The difference with the UC10 comes in the form of a Connecticut River Valley Broadleaf binder, and those classic Broadleaf flavor traits are clearly noticeable once lit. But more on that in a minute.

Upon removing the cellophane, I brought the cigar to my nose as was overcome with the clearest chocolate note I’ve even smelled on a pre-lit cigar. Somewhere between Milk and Dark, but unmistakeable. Make sure don’t skip this step with yours. Then it was straight-cut, and the dry pull yielded more chocolate notes, but different as they blended with earth and leather.

Once lit, it was much the same, with a note that feels like thick molasses holding the flavors together. Even at 5×50, this stick feels solid and heavy, and burns very slowly even while producing puff after giant puff of smoke with the density of star-forming nebulae. The Robusto is the right choice for this blend. The Toro has more girth, which means a lower wrapper/binder-to-filler ratio and therefore doesn’t show off those flavors quite as prominently. But typically, longer sizes will smoke cooler, and that tradeoff can be worth it. I’ve found that choosing a Robusto over a Toro or Churchill can often mean a hotter smoke, and the heat can overcook the flavors and detract from the experience, but not in this case. The resistance in the draw and slow burn lead to a relatively cool smoke for its size. For UC10, the Robusto is where it’s at.

At Tallchief, we carry this smoke in both Toro and Robusto, so definitely try them both and let me know if you agree with me on the size. But I’m pretty confident that you will agree with me that this is one of the best cigars to come out in the last few years.

Buy this cigar online here, and use the code UC10 for 10% off at checkout.

Keep Coming Back.

-DP

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Nicaragua

The New Cigar Capital Of The World

Recently I have been thinking about this interesting juxtaposition: As citizens of the most prosperous nation to ever exist, the way we choose to spend our money effects the lives of real people all over the world. Even a niche subculture like ours, the premium cigar community in America, can have an enormous impact on the lives of people and families in much less prosperous places. American cigar smokers have recognized the quality and craftsmanship of premium Nicaraguan cigars, and as a result, an enormous boom in demand has created tens of thousands of jobs, allowing hardworking men and women to earn an honest living and support their families.

Amazing. But…

This boom in demand came on fast. So fast that even some of the biggest names in the industry, those who have benefited the most, have begun to question whether the current trajectory is sustainable. Is the obsession with Nicaraguan cigars spreading too quickly? Will quality begin to suffer as demand continues to skyrocket?

Thanks to the American market, and its trend toward richer, fuller bodied cigars, Nicaragua has, for the last five years running, exported more premium cigars to the United States than any nation, overtaking the D.R. who held the title for years prior. Over the last decade, the number of cigar factories in Esteli, the hub city of the cigar industry in Nicaragua, has doubled from 40 in 2010 to 80 in 2020, directly sustaining an estimated 45,000 jobs. Padron, Oliva, My Father, San Cristobal, Drew Estate, Rocky Patel and Perdomo are just a few of the companies with huge factories in Nicaragua, employing thousands of people. It is these farmers, rollers and factory workers that you are supporting when you buy premium Nicaraguan cigars. This is something I believe I can feel good about as I puff away on my Padron 3000 Maduro.

However, if you’re thinking that rate of growth seems alarmingly fast, perhaps even unsustainable, you would not be alone. AJ Fernandez himself, whose operation has an enormous footprint in Nicaragua, has been worrying about where this trend is taking us. While he clearly has benefited in the short term from the massive boom in demand for Nicaraguan tobacco, he also warns of a time when quality might begin to decline as manufacturers spread their resources as thin as they possibly can in a desperate effort to keep up with greater and greater demand.

Rocky Patel has expressed similar concerns, specifically with regard to the number of skilled rollers. When speaking about the challenges of operating his Nicaraguan factory, TAVICUSA, Rocky has said that the most difficult piece of the puzzle in 2022, with demand for Nicaraguan cigars at record levels, is finding and keeping skilled rollers. New companies are building new factories, and good rollers are being wooed from one company to the next. Consistency is something that cigar aficionados value in their favorite brands, but it may become more and more difficult to achieve consistency across time as the Nicaraguan cigar industry continues to stretch and grow.

I am of the opinion that it is our job, the American cigar smokers, to continue to support and smoke our favorite brands at our local shops, and to have faith that the manufacturers can all work together to keep quality tobacco growing in the fields, and consistent, delicious cigars rolling off of the factory floors without allowing greed or shortsightedness to bring the whole party to an end.

The United States now accounts for 95% of the tobacco exported from Nicaragua, according to the economic data archive Central America Data. This means that cigar smokers in America support the livelihood of tens of thousands of men and women in Nicaragua. Despite what your doctor might have said, there is at least this reason to feel good about, and take pride in, smoking premium cigars.

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The Mistresses of Mi Querida

The Mi Querida (right) and Mi Querida Triqui Traca from Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust

Mi Querida literally translates to “my mistress” in Spanish. These cigars had been on Carl’s and my radar for years, and on our wishlist as a new addition to the shelves since January or even before. The Mi Querida enjoys a reputation among aficionados as a cigar for insiders. Everyone has had a Liga Privada. Make no mistake, they are top shelf cigars, but they are commonplace now. If you’ve spent time with a Mi Querida, you are a member of another tier of cigar enthusiast.

These are the darling blends of master blender Steve Saka, the former chief executive officer of Drew Estate Cigars, creator of the original Liga Privada blends, and now the creative mind behind the cigars of Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust.

Overcome with excitement at the arrival of these amazing new cigars to our humble shop, we couldn’t wait to see how they would be received by our guys and gals. I asked one of our VIP’s, Kevin George Berger, long time aficionado and well-respected member of the Tallchief Cigar Circle, to smoke one of each of the two Mi Querida lines and give us his thoughts. What came back were a few quotes I couldn’t wait to share.

Guest Reviewer: Kevin George Berger

Before I get to Kevin’s experience, here is the quick blend breakdown, according to Dunbarton T&T.

Mi Querida (blue label):
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Flavor Profile: Full Bodied

Mi Querida Trique Traca (red label)
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Flavor Profile: Extra Full Bodied

After sampling the original blue label blend, Kevin wrote to me saying that the experience of this cigar brought to mind “the spring of a man’s life; The honey sweet innocence and discovery of new love; the journey of new experiences.”

Wow! Well said Kev.

I couldn’t wait to hear what thoughts would come out after smoking the much stronger and fuller bodied Triqui Traca (red label).

“The red label is the autumn of a man’s life! Appreciating the rich spice and mystery life has to offer, and yet the sheer joy in the anticipation of a known bliss yet to come! The Triqui Traca is an older mistress. More discerning, more wise, more mysterious less playful, she takes her time and knows what she wants. Less sweet for sure but has a complex and satisfying array of delicate spice. She is confident in her femininity and realizes it’s powers. Miss Red Label is a mistress for sure, but also, a remarkable woman worth spending time with!”

I challenge anyone reading this to translate the full experience of a cigar in a more beautiful and more relatable way that Kevin did here. Special thanks to our friend Kevin George Berger.

If you have yet to try Mi Querida, please come see us at the shop, as they are special cigars. And if you want to participate as my next blend review interviewee, I would love to talk to you! Hit me up, and as always…

Keep coming back!

-DP

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The Boys Head to Vegas

Every year, the Premium Cigar Association hosts the largest gathering of premium tobacco professionals in the world. The PCA Trade Show is open only to member organizations, but their membership is vast. The PCA provides its membership with resources, information, and legal muscle in the fight against the government restriction of premium tobacco. Its Political Action Committee exists to fight unreasonable and burdensome regulations, and help create a business environment where small premium tobacco businesses can thrive. For these reasons, Tallchief Cigars stands with the PCA as a member company. This also means that Carl and Dave will be flying to Las Vegas next week on a pilgrimage the PCA Trade Show.

We do run a cigar shop and website. But we were smokers first. The opportunity to experience a PCA show would have been just a dream to us not long ago. So we plan to bring at least some of that experience to you, the Tallchief Cigar Circle.

The massive Convention Center will be filled with cigar companies large and small. There will be everything from the mega-blockbuster release that everyone has been waiting for, to the tiniest boutique brands desperate to get their cigars into the hands of smokers. And from them all will come free samples by the dozens. So look for the treasure chest of new and unknown smokes upon our return. We plan to share.

We also plan to document the experience a bit, so if you are a cigar nerd like us, make sure you follow our social media accounts from July 8th to the 12th.

Keep Coming Back.

DP

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Why I Will Never Question The Price of a Cigar (Pre-Tax)

Courtesy: Adobe Stock

Depending on the State or Province you buy your premium cigars in, the price of your favorite stick has likely been inflated by State and Federal taxes. New York State is one of the worst offenders in this regard, and its 75% tax on premium cigars is not even half of what our friends in Ontario, Canada have to pay to the provincial government in order to enjoy a fine cigar. This is a travesty, but if we put taxation aside, I think it’s incredible that premium cigars are not more expensive than they are. When you consider everything that goes into producing each handcrafted smoke, it’s frankly amazing that they don’t all cost $40 or $50 a stick.

Premium cigars are meant for more than just smoking. They are made to be admired like the pieces of immersive artwork that they are. The next time you light up, take time to appreciate the texture of the wrapper, the weight of the cigar in your hand. Have a taste of the cigar prior to cutting, and see if you can identify flavors the wrapper leaf might contain. Take your time. Respect the craft of premium cigar making and the craftsmen that create them. Immerse yourself and pay some attention to the details. Because when you do, I believe you’ll see the true value in the experience of a premium cigar, and realize that you paid only a fraction of what that experience is actually worth to you.

It has been said that 200 pairs of hands are needed to create and deliver to your hand the cigar you are now holding. What do you think it pays to be a farm hand in the tobacco fields of Nicaragua? I know that Padron, Perdomo, Oliva, My Father, J.C. Newman, etc. do their very best to provide a good life for their employees, but it is still Nicaragua, and farming is still very hard work.

Consider that the tobacco in your cigar might have been harvested years ago, perhaps even a decade. Consider the amount of care and the number of people it took to look after that crop for all of that time. Consider your favorite cigar, the one you’ve smoked dozens of times and it always has that same taste. How is that possible? It’s a plant, grown in the earth, and there are people so skilled that they can create a blend for a cigar, and then continue to reproduce it for years and years. Do you know how to do that? Because I sure don’t. But some do, and they deserve the admiration and respect of the one receiving the fruit of their knowledge, hard work, and craftsmanship.

The more time I spend around cigars, the more I’ve learned about what it takes to produce and distribute them. When I consider all of this, I think it is absolutely incredible that you or I can have the experience of a premium cigar for $8, or $10, or $14. The next time you hear someone at your shop complaining about the price of a cigar, perhaps you will consider politely helping them see why that view is ignorant and ridiculous.

Keep Coming Back.

-DP

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The Padron Series

Episode 2 – The Little Hammer Story

In the first installment of this blog series, we talked about the unique position that Padron Cigars holds in the cigar industry and in the hearts and mouths of many cigar smokers world wide. The story of how Padron Cigars was born has been told many times, and for me, it added an even deeper appreciation for the brand, the cigars, and the hobby itself.

Jose Orlando Padron was born in Cuba, and fled to Miami in 1962 during the Revolution. During that time, Cuban refugees were given resettlement money in the form of a government check. Orlando said that every time he cashed that check, he felt like a burden on this wonderful country that gave him a chance at a new life. He was determined to make his own living and support his family with his own labors. 

One day, a friend at the Cuban Refugee Office, wanting to help Orlando realize this dream of self reliance, asked Orlando if he had any carpentry skills. Orlando said yes, so the friend gave him a little hammer. Orlando began taking any job he could find, and saving his money. With nothing but his hands and the little hammer, Orlando managed to save $600 and used that money to start Padron Cigars in 1964. 

Jose Orlando Padron never forgot the lesson of the little hammer, and you’ll find the image of a hammer on almost every box and cigar band that comes out of his factory to this day.

Episode #3 of the Padron Series Coming Soon!

Keep coming back.

-DP

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The Padron Series

Padron Cigars is considered a staple in any cigar shop. The Padron family are cigar royalty, and their products are at the very top of any honest ranking. Take a moment and Google Cigar Aficionado’s top 10 cigars of 2021. I’ll wait…

…You see what I mean? Their cigars are unquestionably excellent in flavor and construction, and they are undeniably Padron. They have a flavor essence that runs through each and every cigar, such that a seasoned smoker can easily identify a Padron cigar by taste alone. The construction is so consistent it’s mysterious. What do they know at Padron that other cigar makers do not? How is it possible that their cigars never fail? Never. An open draw and an even burn every single time.

I think it is their cigar making prowess that contributes significantly to this air of mystery and prestige that sets Padron apart from the rest of the industry. Many other cigar companies, to their credit, will do the usual retail song and dance of special pricing for this or that occasion, buy X get Y free, enticing buyers with new releases or free swag. Padron does none of this, because they know they don’t need to. They know that their cigar is superior. They know that every shop in the country needs to carry all of their stuff, and that their Padron customers will not be happy with anything else. No discounts, no giveaways, no sales gimmicks. The cigars are that good, and they know it.

There’s more to say about Padron, so check back in a couple days for Part 2.

Keep coming back.

-DP

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Blackbird Cigars

If you’ve been through our shop in the last few months, you’ve probably heard of Blackbird Cigar Company. Back in January, Carl and I traveled to Las Vegas for the Tobacco Plus Expo, a huge premium tobacco convention, in search of something awesome and new to bring into the shop. We have so many discerning cigar enthusiasts in the Tallchief Cigar Circle, and our guys know a good cigar. We all hit the mother lode with Blackbird.

With this brand, the first impression is a good one. This company knows how to market a new product. Check out their website, you’ll see what I mean. And not only do the cigars smoke well and taste great, but the presentation is just as good. Much like the Camacho model, each line has its own bright color, and is immediately identifiable. On the shelf in our humidor, the lineup of brightly colored boxes with the badass scratch font does a great job of drawing attention. I am convinced that these cigars would sell well in any shop, but they have certainly caught fire in ours.

Five of the six premium cigars in the Blackbird lineup.

Six different offerings make up their premium lineup, and each blend is as unique as the next. For a mild option early in the day, there’s the “Finch” Sumatra and the “Jackdaw” Connecticut, both are mild but complex in their own ways. The “Unkind” Cubra is a medium plus, with one of the most unique flavor profiles I’ve had in while. But for my palette, the “Crow” San Andres is a dart to the center of the bullseye. The extra dark San Andres wrapper and Nicaraguan tobaccos bring a ton of body, and rich notes of chocolate and earth.

I could go on to describe the “Rook” Sumatra, the “Cuco” Criollo, but I think I’ll just let you smoke them and decide for yourself which blend is the one for you. Aside the six box lines, there is also the “Nest”, a double maduro bundle cigar which smokes like a $10 stick. Many have found that the main complaint with budget smokes is the construction. The makers of Blackbird Cigars wanted to produce a budget cigar that tastes great and won’t fall apart the way that many cigars in its price range do. The “Nest” is an incredible value.

For the first time, Blackbird Cigars are now available for shipping on our website as well as in store! Blackbird Cigar Co. is still a relatively small company, and we are the first shop in the area to discover them, and therefore the only shop in Western New York where you can get them. Order a box online, or stop into the shop and let us know which line you want to try first!

Keep coming back!

-DP

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CAO Bones

  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Binder: Connecticut Shade
  • Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan, Dominican
  • Vitola: Chicken Foot (Robusto) 5×54
  • Tasting Notes: Dark Sweetness, Nuts, Coffee, hints of Vanilla

THIS IS MY NEW FAVORITE CIGAR!

As you may have heard me say before, I am a huge fan of Connecticut Broadleaf wrappers. The combination of savory and sweet darkness, the toothy, rustic appearance, the beautiful near-black color…I could go on.

Every palette is different, but my palette is build for Broadleaf. That said, I also find much to appreciate in other types of leaf, including Connecticut Shade. Mild, velvety to the touch, producing creamy smooth smoke. So when I read the blend breakdown of the CAO Bones and saw that it held a Connecticut Shade binder (a somewhat rare use of this type of leaf) beneath a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, I was obviously intrigued.

I swear, one can actually taste both leafs at once. Vanilla from the Connecticut Shade, and the tell-tale dark sweetness of the Connecticut Broadleaf. While CAO calls this a full-bodied smoke, I found the Robusto, or Chicken Foot as they have titled this vitola, to be full in complex flavor, but medium in body at most. This combination of full dark flavor in a milder to medium body can be very hard to find, but is exactly what I have been after.

As ones palette develops, one finds one goes through phases lasting many weeks or months at a time, where the specific smoking experience the palette craves will change. After a 50-ring-rocket phase, I have found myself gravitating toward milder cigars and larger ring gauges, and I have found that in the CAO Bones Chicken Foot. While very dark in appearance and in flavor, the large ring gauges (the Toro, Robusto, and Churchill are all 54 ring) mellow out the blend to a perfect medium.

May is CAO Month at the World Famous Tallchief Cigars Humidor and Lounge, and we would like to extend that promotion to our online customers as well. So use the coupon code BONES to save an additional 10% on any box of CAO Bones. This offer will only be good until the end of May, so get yours today.

Keep Coming Back!

-DP