Week in Smoke – TGT Edition

I skipped last week’s edition of Week in Smoke to give Brian some time to shine. After all, he was the original creator of the Week in Smoke so I guess its a courtesy thing. Another fun filled week+ of exciting cigars. Some of the cigars you’ve seen before others are making their debut. Some are even cigars that have been out for awhile but I’m just now getting around to trying. Really looking forward to IPCPR as its about three weeks away. I’ll admit that I wasn’t actually planning on going this year internally debating what is the benefit of going. At the end, we sent in our media membership application and our $450 membership fee to attend and provide another year of coverage. I’ll only be there for a few days but hopefully can put together a Week In Smoke – IPCPR Edition while there. Alright, enough looking ahead, lets focus on this edition of Week in Smoke.

Tabacos San Rafael – The name might ring a bell. Tabacos San Rafael is a little known factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. The factory is most known for producing the Brickhouse and El Baton lines of JC Newman. This cigar was gifted to me by ChiefHava when I stayed with him and his family for Texas Cigar Festival. I believe he acquired it during his trip to Nicaragua for the Nicaragua Cigar Festival. Beautiful cigar, lots of smoke and deceiving strength. The cigar definitely sneaks up on you. Lots of flavor…lots of power. Wish I had more.

CroMagnon EMH – What would a week be without my dose of CroMagnon. You’ve heard me rave about the Knuckle Dragger size. This EMH size is a Robusto Extra size of 5×56. I think its a little more tamed and doesn’t have that firecracker/explosive characteristic that the Knuckle Dragger size has. The EMH definitely won’t be replacing the Knuckle Dragger as my favorite vitola of CroMagnon. Its solid but doesn’t have that explosiveness that I’ve become addicted to.

Viaje Skull & Bones WMD – Probably one of the most controversial brands within the blogosphere this year. You either love Viaje or you hate Viaje. You are either Team Viaje or Team Tatuaje. I’m not a big fan of chasing down cigars. I don’t care if its Viaje or Tatuaje or whoever. Its either easy to find or its not. Thanks to our good friend Barry Stein from acigarsmoker.com for gifting me this during my last trip to NYC. I can’t compare this release with the previous release of the Skull & Bones. For me, I didn’t get it at all. Nothing bold or exciting. Mainly flat and boring.

Emilio AF2 by Emilio Cigars – Made by AJ Fernandez for Gary Griffith the AF2 is the follow-up to Gary’s Emilio AF1 blend that has been making the rounds lately. For some, spicy food gets them sweating. For me, its strong cigars. The AF2 is equally layered with strength and flavor. A Ecuadorian Oscuro wrapper and a unique combination of Nicaraguan and Pennsylvanian ligero makes the Emilio AF2 a cigar thats bold, different, unique, exciting and a cigar thats definitely able to standout.

EP Carrillo Short Run 2011 – The Short Run from 2010 is probably one of my all time favorite cigars so when the 2011 Short Runs started hitting the stores I was set to be let down. No way it can compare to the 2010 is what I kept telling myself. Asking how the 2011 Short Run compares to the 2010 is the wrong question you should be asking. The question you should be asking is how much of a genius Ernesto Perez Carrillo is? You honestly can’t compare 2010 to 2011. The only thing they have in common is the Short Run. From how they smoke to their flavor profile is different. Don Pepin Garcia has had the hottest hand in the industry the last handful of year’s. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ernesto taking over that title.

Master by Carlos Toraño – A surprise favorite of mine coming out of last year’s IPCPR. The Master by Carlos Torano is well balanced, flavorful and in that medium to medium-full range. It was a challenge attempting to pin point the assortment of flavors and bouquet of aromas. My palette was engaged from beginning to end and along the way, I felt my palette wasn’t worthy or experienced enough to fully appreciate all the nuisances that the Master has to offer.

Panacea Black – It was only a few weeks ago that I had my first taste of anything from Panacea. Thankfully our friend (and former contributor to the Stogie Review) Nate from Panacea Cigars took the time to send me an assortment of cigars from the Panacea lineup. The Panacea Black has definitely peeked my interest even more into the world of Panacea. Solid medium body lots of toasty notes that really struck my palate. Can’t wait to try some of the other cigars that Nate was kind enough to send.

Tatuaje 7th Capa Especial – One of the latest releases from Tatuaje. The Tatuaje 7th Reserva with its Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper is a cigar that I’ve been crazy about for awhile and one that I’ve enjoyed much more than the regular 7th line with its Ecuadorian Habana wrapper. The Tatuaje 7th Capa Especial features a Sumatra wrapper which adds enough sweetness to a peppery blend to make it interesting. I still think the 7th Reserva is king of the line with the Capa Especial finishing ahead of the regular not very exciting 7th.

Brick House – Its easy to write off JC Newman as an old stuffy cigar company. When was the last time you smoked a Cuesta Rey? And besides the lounges popping up everywhere when do you ever think about Diamond Crown? I’m not shy to admit it and neither should you. Like I said, its easy to say those things so you can easily dismiss some of their latest offerings like the El Baton and the Brick House. If you have dismissed them (like I have until recently) you are doing yourself a disservice. Both the El Baton and Brick House out of their Nicaraguan factory have surprised me the past few weeks. Brick House comes in at an amazingly generous price point of $5-$6. Solid medium bodied, toasty, nutty and woodsy flavor range. Dare I say it can hold its own with the CAO La Traviata?

EP Carrillo Elencos – Back in March when I caught up with Ernesto was when I first laid my eyes on the EPC Elencos. I was entranced by the Elencos dark natural wrapper. At the time I was a bit more wow’d with his New Wave Connecticut since it was smoked like no other Connecticut that I’ve had. If you loved the EP Carrillo Edicion Limitada 2010 like so many other people loved it you will love the Elencos. Why? Because its the same great blend…enough said.

Nestor Miranda Special Selection Atlanta Braves Alumni Association Edition – Thanks to Brian Hewitt and his latest review for correcting me on the name of this cigar. Unlike Brian Hewitt I couldn’t pick up any significant or subtle difference between the Braves Edition and the regular line of the Special Selection. If you’re a fan of the Special Selection and a Atlanta Braves fan or just a baseball fan in general, the Atlanta Braves Edition is something nice to have on hand when watching a ballgame.

La Riqueza – Still what I consider the most under rated line in Pete Johnson’s arsenal of cigars. Just a beautiful, flawless use of a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. Wonderful assortment of flavors, thick dense smoke with a bluish tint. Just a delightful cigar to smoke and enjoy all your many blessings.

Alec Bradley American Classic Blend – A new cigar here in the Week in Smoke. The latest release from Alan Rubin at Alec Bradley. Comfortable price point. The one I smoked was, in a word. Okay. Nothing blew me away. Comfortable price point. Solid medium bodied cigar with a solid, yet common, flavor profile. Nothing bad to say but nothing was amazing. Like I said, it was, okay. The Honduran grown Connecticut Shade wrapper was nice to look at but to be honest, I was expecting more than just a cigar that smokes like many others. Time and smoking a few more these will tell where the Alec Bradley American Classic sits with me.

Padron 3000 Maduro – Talk about a great cigar at a great price! I’m not a big Padron smoker for the most part but when I want a Padron but don’t feel like shelling out the bucks anything in Anniversary line, the Padron 3000 Maduro is it. Under $6 for this flavor bomb of a cigar. Hard to think of anything at the $6 mark that can compete flavor wise with the Padron 3000 Maduro.

Don Pepin Garcia Serie JJ – Father’s Day 2011…Father’s Day like many other holidays are always bitter sweet. On one hand I have the joy and happiness from a beautiful 21 month old baby girl in my petite corona, Gracie. On the other hand I have the utter sadness and the gut wrenching pain of a life that was unfairly taken in my little robusto, JJ. Perfect example of how life can be a beautiful disaster. My sincerest thanks to my friend Charlie from The Cigar Feed for his recent review of the Serie JJ Maduro Lancero. I am always thankful to all those who smoke a Serie JJ and think of my Little Robusto. The sweetest part of the day was visiting JJ with Gracie and as we walked away from his grave, she stopped, ran back to JJ’s grave, gave JJ’s headstone a kiss and said (in her 21 month old gibberish) “love you JJ boy” and then ran back to us.