The fellow on the right, kicked back after a meal to remember, is my grandfather. "Nonno" as I called him is relaxing, cigar in hand with our family in Rome. When I smoke a cigar, I think of him, his love for our family, great food and his expertise at simply being a friend. I can't wait to smoke one with him again One Day.
Standing in the company of greatness: Arturo Fuente Sr. (in the portrait), and Arturo Fuente Jr. who runs the day to day operations of Tampa Sweethearts. This family is synonymous with quality and excellence across their many brands: Opus X, Don Carlos, Chateau Fuente, Montesino and others. I'll treasure this photo.
I can take no credit for this one. Many of my online cigar buddies have converted wine coolers into great box storage units. I just followed suit. This is an Avanti with a thermoelectric cooler - a compressor is makes the humidity fluctuate too much. Works like a dream.
Here is the inside. The Spanish Cedar trays were bought from www.BargainHumidors.com for a steal. The humidification beads from www.HeartfeltIndustries.com. If/when more boxes arrive, they will replace the trays which can be transfered to my desktop humidor that is on top of the wine cooler for singles storage.
This two wrapper, barber pole style Hemmingway is a Fuente rarity and one you buy as many of as you can when you see it around Christmastime! I found these at Sosa Cigar on Calle Ocho in Little Havana, right next door to Versaille's.
Bolivar Belicoso Finos come either in a "dress box" or in a cedar "Cabinet", even though a Cabinet of Cuban cigars is usually a 50 count box. These are meant for storing and waiting... yeah, right!
Here they are in all their glory... This is a sight that will make you very happy. What a way to start off 2006.
I am a big fan of Cuban Petite Coronas. It is AMAZING the amount of flavor that is packed into a 5 x 42 vitola! And with three children, there's never enough time for a Churchill!
A buddy of mine organized what's called a "Box Pass". About 20 of us from all over the US signed up. He put together 27 Premium cigars in a travel humidor, packed it within an inch of its life and sent it first to me. The Post Office almost lost the thing but after 20 minutes searching through the back room... voila!
Here is the actual box itself, ready to be opened and rummaged through! The whole concept is that each member of the pass receives the box, takes out 3 smokes, replaces them with 3 smokes of like quality and then sends it on to the next guy. The "takes and puts" are recorded on a cigar website we all frequent. And all this must be done and the box must be sent off within 48 hours.
Here are the actual smokes. Lots and lots of Fuentes - even a King B and an Anejo - and everything from Puros Indios, Perdomos, Olivas all the way to a token Consuegra just for goofs.
Here are my "takes": The Puros Indios Viejo robusto, a Perdomo Reserve Cameroon and the new re-tooled Bolivar that I have yet to try.
Here are my "puts": El Rey del Mundo "Flor de Llaneza" maduro, Padilla Miami 8/11 Robusto and a Cuban Punch Punch.
A nice new box of the Camacho Select Torpedos. The one laying on top is a pre-release blend of the same cigar. The red band was then changed to the red and black one.
In my opinion, the Camacho Liberty of '05 is the best cigar that they produce. It has such a Cubanesque taste, is spectacularly rolled and worth trying for sure.
I had already smoked the Hoyo de Monterrey Petit Robusto when I snapped this picture of the rest of the goodies from La Casa del Habano. The next best of the lot was the Choix Supreme from El Rey del Mundo. But they ALL were great and sure made me feel spoiled!
As of 8/06, this is a VERY nice drawer! The unbanded ones are Por Larranaga Petite Coronas, there are some Punch/Punch, some Hoyo de Monterey Epicure No. 2's, some Cuaba Generosos... there isn't a bad smoke in this whole drawer!
Here's my spot to relax, unwind and smoke a nice cigar. It faces a small tv so I can watch the Marlins or the Red Sox and just kick back.
A stellar peitite corona, the Siglo II is a benchmark smoke.
As of 8/06, this is the most prized drawer! Siglo VI's, I's and II's... some Corona Especiales and a Sublime... NICE STUFF.
The famous "CoRo" - the Cohiba Robusto - is arguably the most perfect example of the robusto size available today.
The newest offering from the collaborative effort between United and Rocky Patel. The previous collaboration "REO" was a fantastic cigar, and this promises even more. Less than $5.00 a stick.
This 5x5 came as a result of smoking an incredible Cuaba Generoso while on vacation in Switzerland. I smoked one right off the truck and it was just incredible.
As of 8/06, there is still MOST of a box of Fuente Sungrown Cuban Belis... Take a good look, because this is a miracle. These will NOT last long.
The Cuban pyramide in the Diplomatico line is simply named the "No. 2". It is a wonderful cigar, that burns very smoothly and produces a nice cool smoke. Obviously, the construction on this one was tops.
Haven't tried these yet, but I sure like a lot of other cigars that Don Pepin has had a hand in. I got this sampler (it's actually 2 of them) from Holt's of Philadelphia.
Soon he'll be the Chief of Staff at Jackson Memorial (but he's gotta finish Med School first ;)) One of my good buddies from the world of cigars - "Dr. Alejandro" - and I enjoy a smoke at Cigars Around the World in Miami Lakes, FL.
It isn't Christmastime without the Fuente Family releasing some of their Anejos onto the markets. These are No. 50's. Ho Ho Ho....
Just one box of these arrived at the local shop. This is the original release of the new Fuente "King B". Merry Christmas to me!
On the street in Ybor City, right over the King Corona Cigar bar. I've gotta remember to look past the object and see things like the transformer in the background and get it out of there!
As of 8/06, the Fuente "Top Shelf" collection is in nice shape: some Sungrown 8-5-8's, some Hemmingways, some Anejos and a Between the Lines.
Here's a Cuban robusto that smokes like a STAR right out of the box. I can only imagine what these Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2's will be like in a few months. If they last that long! ;)
Santa brought this one at Christmas 2004. At first, I wondered if I would ever be able to make a dent in filling it. Now, I wonder when I'll need to get another!!
I have really gotten into the Petite Corona format of late: perfect size for limited time. These new H.Upmann's are some great looking smokes!
Here they are close-up. These are going to rest a while and then be ENJOYED!
As of 8/06, the HUpmann collection is growing steadily. Some Mag 46's, a Mag 50 and some UPC's... I've gotta get me some No. 2's!
This double torpedo is a sensational smoke. This picture was taken right before I lost the ash all over my lap! ;)
Amazing Cubans from left to right: JL No. 1's, JL No. 2's, JL Coronas (discontinued) and JL Petite Coronas. These cigars are SUPER underrated in my opinion - with the No. 2 being one of the tastiest robustos I've ever tried.
La Aurora is one of the oldest cigar companies that hails from the Dominican Republic. They make some good smokes and they make some that I would pass on. With this vitola - the La Aurora Preferidos Cameroon Robusto - they have made, in my opinion, the greatest cigar of their line. These are amazing.
This was the Father's Day smoke for 2005. It's a Montecristo C Edicion Limitada 2003. Double Corona size. There is NOTHING like the real deal!
This is a Gran Panetela size Monte with a wonderful draw, great amounts of smoke and that classic Monte flavor. I was surprised how flavorful it was right off the bat. Sometimes the longer vitolas can take a while to really open and develop. The only drawback was the fact that the ash fell off three times - unexpectedly all over my shirt! I need a bib. ;)
As of 8/06, this is one sweet drawer! Monte 2's a Monte EL, some Monte Edmundos and plenty of Trini Reyes as well as 2 Robusto Extras.
As of 8/06, these are some Opus X's, a Litto Gomez Diez, some Ashton VSG's and a recently released ESG along with some early release Camachos.
As of 8/06, some really nice smokes in this drawer: La Aurora Preferidos Cameroon Robustos, some Fuente King B's, some Camacho Liberties from 2006 and some Tatuajes.
The Oliva Master Blend 2 is - in my opinion - the best new release of 2005. I've only smoked the robustos (pictured), and I didn't think it was possible to better the MB1's. They did. These are a staple in the humidor.
Boutique Cigar Maker, Padilla (from here in Miami) made waves on the cigar scene with the release of their Hybrids. This picture is of their newest and most flavorful offering yet: the Padilla Miami Blend Robusto.
As of 8/06, the Padron collection needs some beefing up. Some PC sized 64's and 26's, one unbanded 40th anniversary, but not enough!
The Palio guillotine cutter is a fantastic two blade cutter that can be found for a very reasonable price. The thinner blades (than comparative cutters) make a great difference and cut very cleanly.
Padron cigars are works of art. This new addition to the stellar line of 1926 Padron Anniversario Maduros is called the "35" for the amount of minutes it takes to smoke.
This is the Partagas 898 "Varnished" (because of the box it comes in). It is an amazing smoke. It is a Lonsdale size - ring size 43 and 6.6" long. I expected it to pale in comparison with the Lusitania, but - in my opinion - it was better! Your Mileage May Vary.