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SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2017

GARY SHEFFIELD MIKE DITKA JASON TAYLOR RAY LEWIS

OFF TO THE

RACES


INTRODUCING A BROTHER FROM ANOTHER BARREL BOURBON

RUM

SWEET 2 4

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SPICY

OAKY 2.5 4

EARTHY

CHAR

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FEARLESSLY PRECISE. POWERFULLY COMPLEX. UNDENIABLY INTENSE. Having pioneered and perfected the art of aging Original Corojo tobacco in Kentucky Bourbon barrels, our master builders have continued their relentless quest, venturing further south to harness the wild flavors of Nicaragua. Starting with the sweet, spicy, and oaky flavors that define tobacco from this region, our Esteli-grown Corojo is aged in some of the world’s oldest Nicaraguan rum barrels. Once filled with bourbon, these well-seasoned rum barrels were hand selected for optimal humidity and add layers of complexity for an entirely unique experience. Toasted flavors combined with leather and oak are rounded out by sweet flavors and caramel notes from the aged rum. Our proprietary Powerband™ bunching process amplifies this complex combination, resulting in a peak performance flavor explosion that once again pushes the limits. An unforgettable taste experience that rewards you at every draw. .

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editorials SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2017

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PERFECT PAIRINGS LA AURORA ADN DOMINICANO / KIRK AND SWEENEY 23 YEARS Tradition meets innovation when you treat yourself to this rum and cigar.

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PERFECT PAIRINGS AJ FERNANDEZ ENCLAVE BROADLEAF / BOULEVARD BOURBON BARREL QUAD Big flavors collide when this full-bodied Nicaraguan smoke encounters a powerhouse craft brew.

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OFF TO THE RACES IN LOUISVILLE AND INDIANAPOLIS We explored the host cities for two of the biggest events in racing. Saddle up for great cigars, bourbon, and rich sports history.

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ROCKY PATEL SPORTS

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CIGARS IN SPORTS

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FIRST CIGAR

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BIG LEAGUE ART

One brand has made a push to bring cigar culture into the sports world, and they have a team of legends/greats on their side.

They go together like Michael and Scottie. Jerry and Joe. Wayne and Mark. Babe and Lou. Secretariat and… uh… you get the idea.

Bullfighter Morante de la Puebla waxes poetic on cigars and his artistic approach to taking down a toro.

Though he never really planned or trained for it, Vernon Wells became one of the sports world’s most prolific painters.


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features SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2017

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LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER

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FEEDBACK

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WHAT’S BURNIN’

58

SMOKING HOT CIGAR SNOB

69

RATINGS

96

TWITTER SCOREBOARD

98

CRA UPDATE

100

IPANEMA

EVENT COVERAGE 100 GENERAL CIGAR’S IPCPR PARTY 102 AGIO HOSPITALITY SUITE 104 ROCKY MOUNTAIN CIGAR FESTIVAL 106 BREW CITY CIGAR FESTIVAL 108 AVO AT DOWNTOWN CIGAR BAR 110 KAREN BERGER AT CASA DE MONTECRISTO BY PRIME

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SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2017

VO L . 9 IS SU E 5 www.cigarsnobmag.com PUBLISHER & EDITOR Erik Calviño SENIOR EDITOR Nicolás Antonio Jiménez COPY EDITOR Michael LaRocca SALES & OPERATIONS DIRECTOR Oscar M. Calviño PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR & PRODUCER Ivan Ocampo ART DIRECTOR Andy Astencio DIGITAL RETOUCHING SPECIALISTS Ramón Santana CONTRIBUTING ILLUSTRATOR Florin Safner CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Glynn Loope Abraham Mahshie Kassidy Hill CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS David Benoliel Andy Astencio EVENT PHOTOGRAPHERS Jamilet Calviño Keisha Kochanowski Cover Photography by David Benoliel www.davidbenolielphotography.com Cover Model - Julieta Miquelarena Cigar Snob is published bi-monthly by Lockstock Publications, Inc. 1421-1 SW 107th Ave., #253 Miami, FL 33174-2509 Tel: 1 (786) 423-1015 Cigar Snob is a registered trademark of Lockstock Publications, Inc., all rights reserved. Reproduction in part or full without written permission from the publisher is prohibited. Cigar Snob is printed in the U.S. Contents copyright 2006, Lockstock Publications, Inc. To subscribe, visit www.cigarsnobmag.com

(SUBSCRIBE TODAY) - Only $18 for one Year (six issues) of -

- Magazine delivered to you Visit: www.cigarsnobmag.com or write: subscribe@cigarsnobmag.com

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As I write this letter, our friends in southeast Texas have begun the long and arduous road to recovery. If you have not done so already, please get involved in helping those hardest hit by Hurricane Harvey. If you don’t have the time or means to get to Texas, do the next best thing. Go to redcross.org and make a donation. Or if you prefer a more local charity, donate to Houston Texans All-Pro Defensive End JJ Watt’s foundation at jjwfoundation.org. It takes seconds to make a donation and every bit helps. Natural disasters like major hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes bring communities together like nothing else. And I feel like as a country, we are in dire need of help in this department. It sounds almost insensitive to say when you know many have lost everything, but having been through Hurricane Andrew while living in Miami and the attacks of September 11 while living in New York, I’ve been up close to see communities band together to overcome devastation of different kinds. While my heart and donations have gone out to those affected by this most recent storm, Harvey was, as the insurance companies put it, “an act of God.” There’s no one to hate and usually no one to blame. In those critical moments when lives are on the line, communities come together to help each other; it is a very real and human reaction. Similarly, the horrors of 9/11 were soon followed by a beautiful outpouring of patriotism. And while it couldn’t bring back the friends I lost in the attacks and it took me months if not years to deal with it, it felt good to see an American flag on every door as I walked home from downtown Manhattan each day. As a naturalized citizen who lives every day thankful that he’s an American, I felt like 9/11 washed away the cynicism and divisiveness and made everyone as proud to be an American as I was. That may sound weird, but that’s how I felt as I lived it. Unfortunately in some cases the pride was followed by ignorance and subsequently hate and violence toward anyone who looked like they could be Arab or Muslim. So in spite of all the warm feelings, there was always hate lurking around every corner. As I watch the racially mixed human chains being employed to help a stranded elderly person in Houston, I get that same cheesy feeling I felt walking home each day in New York. But without the hate that followed. So this is our Sports Issue! We’re always trying to do things a little differently, so we put together this issue featuring all manner of sports — from professional football to motorsports to bullfighting. Is that a sport? Who knows? I don’t get into those

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pointless discussions; in the everlasting words of Sweet Brown a.k.a. Kimberly Wilkins, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” What we did have time for was a trip to Louisville and Indianapolis to learn more about each city’s biggest annual event, the Kentucky Derby and the Indianapolis 500 respectively, starting on p. 35. We also sat down with Ray Lewis, Gary Sheffield, Rocco Mediate, and Bernie Parent to produce a piece titled “All Pro Ambassadors” about the intersection of sports and Rocky Patel Premium Cigars (p. 51). The super-sexy photo shoot that starts on p. 58 features Julieta Miquelarena smoking the CAO Brazilia in nothing but swimwear. Thanks to CAO for all their support during that shoot as well as our fashion team for making it happen. As always, keep enjoying your premium cigars and let us know what you liked and didn’t like about this issue by emailing us at feedback@cigarsnobmag.com. Keep ‘em lit,

Erik Calviño ecalvino@cigarsnobmag.com


THAT AIN’T NO NICARAGUA! I hope I don’t sound ignorant for saying this, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever envision Nicaragua looking like the place featured in the swimsuit shoot in your last issue. It’s a freakin’ paradise! I always pictured Nicaragua as being this great lush landscape of tobacco farmland with some mountains and/or volcanos sprinkled in here and there. This place looks like Hawaii! Absolutely in awe. Thank you for educating me on another side of what this beautiful country has to offer. Matt Perkins Ft. Lauderdale

VIA FEEDBACK@CIGARSNOBMAG.COM Matt, it was an incredible place to get to know in person! If you get the chance to visit Nicaragua, try to make time for a stay at the Mukul Resort, which is where we shot those photos.

SHADES FOR DAYS What does a brother have to do to get some Cigar Snob swag? I’ve seen more than a few dudes wearing these cool Cigar Snob-branded shades that I’d like to get my hands on. How do you get a hold of these? Do they come with a subscription or do you have to win a contest or something? Felix Blanco Chicago

VIA FACEBOOK We generally bring those along to events and cigar festivals to give to the people we meet there. That said, we’ve gotten so many inquiries about these shades that we’re starting to think we’re in the wrong business!

MAP QUEST I’ve always enjoyed your publication, but had never felt the need to communicate with you until now. I just wanted to congratulate you on a great story you ran on page 54 of July/Aug issue where you mapped out every cigar factory in Esteli. I believe the intention of the piece was to guide travelers there in case they wanted to visit, and I think that’s a great idea, but in my particular case I just like having a geographical point of reference as to where the cigars I smoke are being made. I’ve never seen anything like this before (at least not for cigars.) I happen to be a self proclaimed wine geek and the wine industry publishes oodles of books and literature on all the various vineyards/winemakers and where they originate. I love knowing where the wine I drink is made, it’s almost second nature. I feel the same about my cigars. Tally ho mates, way to come through. P.S. Will you be doing this for other cigar producing regions? Stephen Glen Fairfield, Conn.

VIA FEEDBACK@CIGARSNOBMAG.COM Glad you found that thing useful! Some other cigar regions are a little easier to navigate, but — map or no — we look forward to bringing you closer to those places in the pages of Cigar Snob soon.

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JOHN DREW BRANDS LAUNCHES IN GEORGIA

the first mash-up of bourbon and rum. I sincerely thank Georgia Crown for believing in us, recognizing our style, and standing with us in pioneering creativity forward spirits.”

IF IT’S GOOD ENOUGH FOR THE MASTER BLENDER’S OWN BIRTHDAY…

brings “Pepper and spice notes combined with honey sweetness.” The cigars will be available through Davidoff Appointed Merchants (Master Selection Series 2013, 2010 and 2007) and Davidoff ’s Flagship stores (Master Selection Series 2016, 2011 and 2008). That’s a lot of blends to cover; we suggest you check in with your nearest Davidoff Appointed Merchant or Flagship and ask about what they’ve got. All the cigars retail for $35.

CASA DE MONTECRISTO EXPANDS IN FLORIDA AND ARIZONA John Drew Brands (johndrewbrands.com) — the spirits company founded by Drew Estate founder Jonathan Drew — announced a distribution deal with Georgia Crown Distributing Co., making its spirits products available in Georgia. John Drew Brands’ lineup includes three premium spirits: Brixton Mash Destroyer, Dove Tale Rum, and John Drew Rye. A John Drew Brands press release described the products thusly: “Brixton Mash Destroyer is a mash up of Kentucky Bourbon and Florida Rum, utilizing craft sourced, core products (90°; SRP: $39.99 for 750ml). Dove Tale Rum is true Florida Rum that is sweet and vibrant, yet dark and mysterious due to its Florida Everglades origin Black Strap Refiners Grade Molasses that’s distilled carefully and then aged in bourbon barrels (80°; SRP: $34.99 for 750ml). John Drew ‘Rye Whiskey’ is distilled in Canada, then aged in Toasted Oak Barrels for 4 years. The flavor is rich with caramel, clove, vanilla, honey, oak, and orange peel with a soft lingering finish, indicative of the flavor profile that Jonathan Drew envisioned (90°; SRP: $49.99 for 750ml).” “The movement for John Drew Brands has been like a tidal wave building up for the past six years,” said Jonathan in a press release. “When we announced to the world our intention to get busy-wizzy in this space, people didn’t realize the level of belligerence that we were bringing with the release of Brixton Mash Destroyer,

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Davidoff announced the release of its Master Selection Series cigars, which are created by Davidoff Master Blender Eladio Díaz each year for his own birthday. The cigars are being made available for sale to the public for the first time. Master Selection Series 2013 and 2016 had already been released in the U.S. in June. The releases of Master Selection Series 2010 and 2011 were scheduled for August. The 2007 and 2008 editions are scheduled for release in September. Here’s an overview of what’s in each of Eladio’s Master Selection Series blends: •

Series 2013 is a blend of Nicaraguan tobaccos with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper.

Series 2010 is a blend of 10-year-old Dominican tobaccos and a Mexican San Andrés wrapper.

Series 2007 is a blend of Dominican tobaccos with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and a hybrid Olor/Piloto binder.

Series 2016 features Nicaraguan fillers and a Dominican wrapper.

Series 2011 is a three-country blend, bringing together Nicaraguan fillers, a Mexican binder, and an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper.

Series 2008, also a three-country blend, packs the biggest punch. This strong cigar

Casa de Montecristo announced its acquisition of the Boca Raton-based Prime Cigar & Wine Bar (now called Casa de Montecristo by Prime Cigar), which is now the 17th brick-andmortar cigar lounge for the business. Prime’s founders also opened Casa de Montecristo by Prime Cigar & Whiskey Bar in Miami and will continue to own and operate that store under a license agreement. “Casa de Montecristo’s acquisition of our Boca Raton location will take Prime Cigar & Wine Bar to a new level of superior service, selection, and value for the enjoyment of our members and local adult consumers,” said Ryan Leeds, co-owner of Prime Cigar & Wine Bar. In addition, Casa de Montecristo announced a naming rights agreement with Arizona-based Churchill’s Fine Cigars, which will add the Casa de Montecristo name to four lounges (two in Phoenix, one in Tempe and a fourth in Glendale). “This strategic acquisition in Florida and naming rights agreement in Arizona continue to catapult us to our overall mission to be the premium cigar lounge destination, delivering the highest quality selection, service and experiences for all adult cigar smokers,” said Casa de Montecristo CEO Steve Lochan.


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ESPINOSA AND STOGIES RAISING MONEY FOR HURRICANE HARVEY RELIEF The folks at Espinosa Premium Cigars have teamed up with Stogies World Class Cigars, one of Houston’s favorite cigar retailers, to raise funds for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts with a cigar called One Love Houston. All of the proceeds from sales of this cigar will go to relief efforts. It’s a 5½ x 52 Nicaraguan puro featuring a Habano wrapper. The cigar comes in 5-packs and are being sold for $49.95 at stogiesworldclasscigars.com.

BLACK WORKS STUDIO’S BOONDOCK SAINT SHIPS Black Works Studio announced that its Boondock Saint cigars have shipped. The Nicaraguan cigar, manufactured at Fábrica de Oveja Negra in Estelí, features a Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper; Nicaraguan Habano binder; and fillers from Nicaragua, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. It comes in two vitolas: Corona (6¼ x 46) and Robusto (5¼ x 50). Both vitolas are packages in 20-count boxes and retail for $10 per cigar. “The Boondock Saint is a perfect example of a balanced cigar,” said James Brown, creator of Black Works Studio and partner at Oveja Negra. “The profile is rich, complex and bold, with tons of subtle flavors. The cigar is both strong and refined, with a very elegant finish. The Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper combined with the Connecticut Broadleaf and Nicaraguan filler create flavors of anise, clove, dark fruits, bitter cocoa and earth.”

ALLIANCE CIGAR’S EXCLUSIVE HERRERA ESTELÍ Drew Estate announced a special Herrera Estelí release exclusive to Alliance Cigar, a New York-based wholesale distributor. The Herrera Estelí DeSocio, as the cigar is called, is a 6 x 60 featuring an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Honduran binder, and filler from Nicaragua. It’s packaged in 10-count boxes and retails for $8.60 per cigar. “The DeSocio collection of exclusive sizes of my favorite brands is something I’ve always wanted to do, and now with the addition of the Herrera Estelí DeSocio I am excited to finally add a vitola from my favorite Drew Estate brand,” said Alliance Cigar founder Tom Sullivan, for whose grandmother the DeSocio series of cigars is named. “My working relationship with Drew Estate began in 1997 and the addition of the Herrera Esteli ‘DeSocio’ helps us mark and celebrate our 20-year anniversary of friendship and mutual business success.” “I’ve been asked consistently over the years at events across the nation to blend a larger ring gauge Herrera Estelí,” said Drew Estate master blender Willy Herrera. “The opportunity and challenge of bringing out the unique set of flavors in a large format cigar took many trials and this DeSocio takes the Herrera Esteli blend and unparalleled smoking experience to a whole new level.”

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La Aurora ADN Dominicano Kirk and Sweeney 23 Years When we received a package from Kirk and Sweeney that included a bottle of their outrageously good 23-year-old rum, it didn’t take us long to decide what cigar to pair with it. Kirk and Sweeney, named after the infamous Prohibition-era schooner that smuggled rum from the Caribbean to the northeastern United States until its capture in 1924, is produced at the Bermúdez Distillery in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic. If you recognize that Dominican city’s name, you’ve been paying attention. Santiago de los Caballeros is the capital of the province of Santiago, which is the hub of the Dominican Republic’s substantial cigar industry. So in spite of the rum’s very American sounding name, it carries a very Dominican DNA. We reached for a new release from the cigar manufacturer with the deepest Santiago roots, the La Aurora ADN Dominicano. ADN Dominicano, Spanish for Dominican DNA, is La Aurora’s latest nod to its homeland and its tobaccos. Among the leaves that comprise the filler blend for this cigar is andullo, a patently Dominican style of tobacco. It’s different not because of the seed varietal or even the growing region, but because of the unique fermentation process that the tobacco goes through on its way to being used in the cigar. The initial part of the andullo process is similar enough to the process undergone by most tobaccos destined to be in cigars. It is harvested and hung to dry (or cure). When it comes time for fermentation, rather than stacking the tobacco leaves in piles, called pilones, the tobacco is stuffed into a large palm pod and wrapped tightly using ropes. The process is repeated numerous times, compressing the leaves even more with each wrap until the tobacco in the pod fuses together forming what looks like a tall, solid, tobacco pole (usually ranging between 4 to 6 feet in length). La Aurora then takes this, slices off pieces of andullo, and incorporates it into the filler. This tobacco brings an injection of strength and flavor to an otherwise mild blend.

THE PAIRING The 23-year-old rum is silky and full with notes of caramel, oak, vanilla, and a touch of spice. Enjoy the rum for a few sips on its own before bringing in the cigar. Then fire up the La Aurora ADN Dominicano and let its rich cedar and spice interact with the sweet, boozy caramel in the rum. It brings out a previously undetected leather and cream in the cigar that works beautifully. LOCATION: Downtown Cigar Bar of Ft. Lauderdale (downtowncigarbar.com)

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AJ Fernandez Enclave Broadleaf Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quad

At Cigar Snob, our travel team is always on the lookout for regional products that are not available in our fine city (Miami). We do this with cigars, wine, spirits, and of course beer. So when our crew was out in Louisville working on the travel section that begins on p. 35, they came across Boulevard Brewing’s Bourbon Barrel Quad, snapped up some bottles, and brought them back to HQ. As it turns out, though, the beer is more widely available than we thought. It’s actually distributed in Florida and in 37 other states (Boulevard’s brews are even available in 11 other countries)! To produce their Bourbon Barrel Quad, Boulevard’s brewers pour their abbey-style quadrupel into used bourbon barrels, where they age it for up to three years. Then, to compensate for the beer that invariably gets lost during barrel aging, typically referred to as the “angel’s share,” they add cherries to the beer before blending. The result is a complex, full-bodied quad with an 11.8% ABV. One taste of the Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quad and we knew we wanted the cigar to come from Nicaragua. To stand up to this beer’s sweet booziness we needed something with a strong, earthy core. Enter AJ Fernandez’s Enclave Broadleaf, a recently released extension to the popular Enclave line sporting a dark and beautiful Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper.

THE PAIRING First off, be sure to serve the beer in a tulip glass. This type of glass maximizes your exposure to the mesmerizing aroma coming off the beer. You’ll thank us for it later. Now let the beer sit for a moment as you set fire to the AJ Fernandez Enclave Broadleaf. The cigar will open with an intense earth and pepper flavor complemented by some oak and dark fruit. Once you’ve got the cigar going, take in the aroma from the beer. The interplay between the cigar’s thick, heavy smoke and the beer’s rich, sweet and malty aroma is a thing of beauty. When you finally take that first sip of beer, the malt, caramel, bourbon, and Belgian yeast engulf your palate, creating a perfect stage for the pepper, oak, and earth. Enjoy! LOCATION: Downtown Cigar Bar of Ft. Lauderdale (downtowncigarbar.com) SEPT / OCT 2017 | CIGAR SNOB |

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Cigar Snob

90 CS/02 Belicoso

Built by Masters. Crafted Through Time. Inspired by the pioneering architects of mid-century modernist design, the 26 unique blends of rare, vintage tobacco in Case Study pay homage to the architects of flavour, and exemplify the Master Blenders' craft and expertise.

Master Editions

Limited Editions

Factory Occidental Cigar

Factory La Aurora

Factory Occidental Cigar

Factory Occidental Cigar

Factory Plasencia Cigars

Wrapper Ecuador Habano

Wrapper Corojo Ecuador

Wrapper Mexico, San Andres Maduro

Wrapper Ecuador Connecticut

Wrapper Nicaragua Habano

WARNING: Cigars contain many of the same carcinogens found in cigarettes, and cigars are not a safe substitute for smoking cigarettes. This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects and other reproductive harm.

#CaseStudyCigars VenturaCigar.com Š 2017 Ventura Cigar Company. All Rights Reserved.


LOUISVILLE AND INDIANAPOLIS


CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Barbaro’s monument and the Kentucky Derby Museum; the mint julep at Derby Café; Churchill Downs; the KFC Yum! Center; Blanton’s Original Single Barrel

very year, two cities within a short drive of one another host a couple of the biggest events in American sports. In Indianapolis, about 300,000 fans (some estimates put the number a bit higher) pack the stands and the infield at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to watch the Indy 500, which another 5 or 6 million watch on TV. A couple of hours south in Louisville, the Kentucky Derby draws a crowd of 160,000 to 170,000 to Churchill Downs. That’s about half the size of the Indy 500, but still well above the Super Bowl attendance record of 103,667 (Super Bowl XIV in 1980, when the Steelers beat the LA Rams at the Rose Bowl). And while the Derby doesn’t bring quite as many people together around TVs as the Super Bowl, consider the cultural impact of the Derby, from fashion to cocktail culture — and all that for a sport where none of the competitors represent a particular city or even have backstories for you to identify with as a fan (unless you were bred for speed and grew up in a barn). Indianapolis and Louisville have a lot more to offer than just a couple of annual races, so we hopped a flight to explore those two towns and let you know how you might spend your time there when you’re not at the tracks.

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SADDLE UP IN LOUISVILLE Churchill Downs was the very first stop of our trip. There wasn’t a race going on, but the adjacent Kentucky Derby Museum (derbymuseum.org) and Derby Café keep regular hours and are well worth the visit. Even before you walk in from the parking lot, there’s a certain majesty to the building, which greets you with gilded lettering and a statue memorializing Barbaro, the horse that won the 2006 Kentucky Derby before one of his legs shattered and he eventually died two weeks later at the Preakness Stakes. Even if you’re not fortunate enough to be able to attend the Derby, a visit to Churchill Downs offers plenty of opportunity to dive deep into the history and culture of horse racing. Guided tours provide valuable context while you’re taking in the grounds (especially if you’re a relative newcomer to all this, as I was) and the Kentucky Derby Museum is loaded with everything from historical artifacts to interactive elements, our favorite of which is a booth you can step into to try your hand at calling a horse

TIP

If you’re at the Kentucky Derby Museum with friends and they try out the race calling booth, make sure you find a good angle from which to get video without their noticing.

race in real time. The museum goes into deep detail — including a horseshoeing hall of fame — and taking in the rich history of the Kentucky Derby can make you hungry. The Derby Café offers not only what’s got to be the best bourbon selection of any museum I’ve visited, but also some Kentucky staple dishes you won’t find back wherever home might be. We tried something called the Louisville Hot Brown. It’s an open-faced sandwich of sliced turkey completely smothered in Béchamel and Mornay sauces, bacon, tomatoes, parmesan cheese and bourbon-smoked paprika. If that sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. Don’t try to take this thing down yourself. If we’d had any room left for it, we might have tried the Kentucky Burgoo, which is a traditional Kentucky meat and vegetable stew. Something tells me the jockeys don’t eat like this. Having filled up on Kentucky food, booze and racing history, it was time to pick up some cigars. We headed east to J. Shepherd (jshepherdcigars. com), a small neighborhood shop named for its owner, Jason Shepherd, who opened up nine years ago after taking the location over from a dentist. Before the dentist, coincidentally, this location had been home to yet another tobacconist. “Several years ago, Jason asked me to help out because he had a bunch of kids. I liked it so much I just kept doing it,” said family friend and part-time


CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Main Street; J. Shepherd’s Cigars; Doc Crows, one of many great Louisville raw bars; Babe Ruth hit 20 homers with this Louisville Slugger; The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts

employee Mike Carrico, who is otherwise retired. “If you come in to Louisville for concerts at the Yum! Center or for the Derby, there’s a chance you’ll find yourself here because this is restaurant row.” Mike’s not lying. J. Shepherd is just off Bardstown Road, which is lined with restaurants of all kinds on either side. If you’re hungry while you’re in the neighborhood, check out Jack Fry’s, an iconic restaurant founded in 1933 by Jack Fry and his wife Flossie. Naturally, Jack (who died in 1987) was a fan of horse racing and used to run a bookmaking operation from the back room. Unfortunately, Louisville is under a blanket indoor smoking ban. Unlike other places grappling with that sort of thing, nobody in this town seems to have been grandfathered in, so there really is — at least for the time being — nowhere to smoke indoors here. Luckily, you can still smoke on patios, and many of the city’s bars and restaurants have adapted accordingly. Mike recommended two of his favorite area bars for smoking cigars: O’Shea’s Irish Pub and Molly Malone’s Pub. No tobacconist in the Louisville area has a larger footprint than Cox’s Smokers Outlet and Spirit Shoppes (coxssmokeoutlet.com). The retailer, which is really more liquor store than smoke shop, has 18 locations, all of which offer premium cigars and about half of which have walk-in humidors.

On the cigar side, the crown jewel is the humidor at Cox’s St. Matthews location, which houses an ample selection of everything from the mainstays by General and Altadis (including some of the exciting new lines we had just seen released in July) to an impressive collection of Padrón, Fuente, and boutique products. But what really sets Cox’s apart and makes it a destination — even in spite of the smoking ban — is that it’s also a liquor store with an excellent selection of beer, wine and spirits. For instance, traveling beer nuts might be interested in picking up a smattering of products from area breweries like MadTree Brewing, Great Flood Brewing, Lexington Brewing & Distilling, Tin Man Brewing, West Sixth Brewing and Braxton Brewing. If you’re a whiskey guy, on the other hand, you might be more interested in the wide variety of bourbons Cox’s carries. Among the most interesting is a Maker’s Mark Private Select aged in barrels made from staves handpicked for particular flavors

TIP

J. Shepherd and Cox’s St. Matthew’s location are likely the most convenient places to pick up your cigars before a round of golf, since the area east of downtown Louisville is dotted densely with golf courses and country clubs.

by Cox’s. This being day one, we’d gotten an extremely early start, so we took a breather and checked into our room at the Galt House Hotel (galthouse.com) in downtown Louisville, right on the Ohio River, which doubles as a border between Kentucky and Indiana. There’s a lot of history behind this hotel — or at least the hotel name. The original Galt House was the early-1800s residence of Dr. W.C. Galt. In 1835, the 60-room Galt House Hotel was opened across the street from his home. When a fire destroyed that hotel in 1865, a new hotel was opened just a block away. That one operated until 1919 and was razed in 1921. The current iteration of the Galt House Hotel was established in 1972 as part of the city’s Riverfront Urban Renewal Project. While there are other great hotels in the area, the Galt House remains Louisville’s only waterfront hotel. If possible, get yourself a room with a view of the river. You don’t want to miss the opportunity for a room with a view of the Ohio and the bridges crossing over into Indiana. The area immediately surrounding the hotel is loaded with things to see and do. There’s the Louisville Riverwalk, a 6.9-mile riverfront bike and jogging trail that runs right in front of the hotel. There’s the KFC Yum! Center, home to Louisville Cardinals basketball. Actors Theater of Louisville,

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PHOTO: Ron Hamilton

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse in Louisville; one of Jeff Ruby’s famous steaks; Main Street, Louisville; Atlantic No. 5; an Atlantic No. 5 breakfast biscuit; Jeff Ruby’s chocolate cigar; a memorial to York

PHOTO: Steve Ziegelmeyer

the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, the Kentucky Science Center, and the Frazier History Museum are all within walking distance. And history buffs and boxing fans alike will want to make the short walk to the Muhammad Ali Center, which houses a museum dedicated to the life of the Louisville native. By far the most convenient destination, though, is Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse (jeffruby.com). One of three locations (the first was opened in Cincinnati, while the newest is in Nashville), the Louisville restaurant is consistently ranked among the state’s and even the country’s best for its great steaks, seafood, and selections of wine and whiskey. And while it doesn’t feel stuffy, the place feels insanely opulent — from the horseshoe-shaped Italian marble bar to the private room doors that were taken from a Chrysler Building elevator to the 12-foot chandelier that once hung right in Cigar Snob’s backyard at the Eden Roc Hotel in Miami Beach. We had the double-cut pork chop (topped with sage butter), the Jeff Ruby Double Burger, and a side of baked macaroni and cheese (made with six cheeses). I know, I know! No steak, no seafood. It’s just what we were in the mood for … and it was all incredible. “We call it the Jeff Ruby experience,” said Jeff Ruby, head of Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment, which operates three Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouses, as well

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as other restaurants. “When I create a restaurant, it starts with a picture in my mind. Then it comes to reality, and people revel in the experience and thank me for having them. That’s the reward. Every restaurant I do, I write a storyline for the restaurant like it’s a Broadway play or a motion picture, and then the restaurant tells a story from the design to the clothes the employees wear. People digest the ambience with every sip of wine and every bite of food. There’s a culinary experience involved. There’s a sensory experience involved.” Part of the story Jeff wants to tell through his restaurants involves cigars. “A steakhouse without a cigar is like a Bob Evans without biscuits,” he said. Unfortunately, local smoking bans have made telling that story difficult. There’s a small space out front available for enjoying cigars (including an 8x60 made for the steakhouse), but Jeff is pressing forward with bigger plans. “Anybody who’s ever been successful in any line of business — whether it was Johnny Cash or Frank Sinatra or Steve Jobs — you don’t follow rules. You make up your own rules. I always made my own rules. There’s a right way, there’s a wrong way, and there’s my way. In Louisville, we’re in the process of moving our offices and our (steak) aging room to create a whole new patio and indoor cigar lounge. If they think they’re going to not allow me

to have my guests smoke cigars at a steakhouse, they’re wrong.” There is one cigar you can enjoy inside at Jeff Ruby’s. The restaurant group’s new chocolate cigar is a hard chocolate shell in the shape of a cigar (complete with edible band) filled with chocolate mousse. Bourbon lovers rejoice! On one side of the band, the mousse is infused with Blanton’s. On the other, it’s Woodford. The cigar comes complete with ash (Oreo powdered sugar) and salted caramel peanuts and popcorn. Needless to say, we waddled up the block to the Galt House Hotel and called it a night.

TIP

Jeff Ruby’s isn’t open for lunch. Jeff himself recommends Los Aztecas, a nearby casual Mexican restaurant he’s been frequenting since he was building out his Louisville restaurant while practically living at the Galt House Hotel for nearly a year.

THE BOURBON TOUR After fueling up for our second day with breakfast at Atlantic No. 5 (atlanticno5.com) — a hip coffee shop with excellent breakfast sandwiches — we headed just a bit farther west on Main Street to our next stop.


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CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: The Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum’s giant bat; whiskey aging at Kentucky Peerless; the lobby and shop and Kentucky Peerless; “Whiskey Row” at Evan Williams; Louisville Slugger’s “bat vault” While the Kentucky Derby is unquestionably Louisville’s marquee sporting event, there’s another, more iconic brand that calls this city home. If you’ve lived long enough in the U.S., it’s almost certain you have — at some time or another — taken a swing with a Louisville Slugger. The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory (sluggermuseum.com), which manufactures the most recognizable baseball bat brand, is right in the heart of downtown Louisville.

used bats to keep baseball history buffs busy for hours. You could take a while just examining the Babe Ruth bat they keep here. He used it to hit 21 of his record-setting 60 home runs in 1927, and he put a notch in the bat around the Louisville Slugger logo for every homer. You can also get a photo of yourself posing (but don’t swing!) with a game-used bat belonging to a player from any Major League team. Naturally, we Miami guys opted for Giancarlo Stanton’s Louisville Slugger.

“All of our timber comes from Pennsylvania and upstate New York,” said P.J. Shelley, the museum’s tour and programming director. “Today’s Major League ballplayers are swinging three types of wood: ash, maple and birch. It’s mostly maple these days. Fifteen years ago, about 90 percent of our production was ash. Then a guy named Barry Bonds came along and started launching 70 home runs with maple bats. Allegedly something else might have been helping him along too, but that kind of started the whole maple craze.”

I’m leaving out tons of detail here — better that you experience the place for yourself. Just know that there’s a lot to take in in this building and we spent all morning on an abbreviated tour.

Even if you’re not a baseball fanatic, this place is fascinating. Five-pound billets measuring about 37” x 3” are turned by machine into bats weighing about 2 pounds, then sanded, stained and branded in a wide variety of ways. In one corner of the factory floor, bats are made to order for specific pros. When we walked by, bats were being made to the preferred specifications of the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger and the Braves’ Brandon Phillips. The museum isn’t large, but it’s got enough game-

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After the tour, we walked back down Main Street, taking a detour to check out a monument to York. Little is known about the life of York, but we do know he was the slave of William Clark, that he participated in the Lewis and Clark expeditions, and that he later either escaped or was freed by Clark, then spent much of the rest of his life in Kentucky to be closer to his wife, from whom he’d been separated throughout the expedition. Next stop: Doc Crow’s, a casual barbecue joint and raw bar that had been recommended to us by a number of locals, including the tour guide who would meet us there and (thank goodness) take the reins for the rest of our day. Maggie Kimberl is a bourbon journalist who’s been writing about Kentucky’s best-known product since

she caught the bug while working at Cox’s. If you want to know just about anything about what’s happening in the bourbon world, she’s the person to ask.

TIP

Kentucky is landlocked, but is a treasure trove of great ocean seafood. That’s because the billion-dollar UPS Worldport, the shipping giant’s sorting hub, is located here. With the exception of coastal eateries that fish for themselves or visit fish markets daily, Louisville chefs actually gets things like oysters, lobsters and salmon sooner than those who work closer to the source.

“I always like to remind people that bourbon is an agricultural product more than anything else,” said Maggie. “It started as a way to preserve the crops. So when you see the embrace of the farm-to-table movement (in restaurants), that’s really just getting back to our roots. And that includes our tobacco heritage and our bourbon heritage.” The first stop on Maggie’s half-day tour was Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co. (kentuckypeerless.com). “They just released their first two-year-old rye. First time they’ve released an aged spirit in almost 100 years. They went out of business shortly after Prohibition and the family brought it back. It’s some of the best two-year-old rye that I’ve ever had. One


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WHEN IN KENTUCKY, BUY BONDED We asked bourbon journalist Maggie Kimberl (lougirl502.com) what visitors to Louisville should buy that they’re unlikely to find at liquor stores back home. She didn’t hesitate with her answer.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Match Cigar Bar in New Albany, Ind.; Match’s Boulevardier; Copper & Kings brandy distillery; hand turning bats at Louisville Slugger; the Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse

“The first thing I always tell people about is ‘bottled in bond.’ The Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897 was one of the first consumer protections that was ever enacted, and it was because people were being sold tainted whiskey. With whiskey, you can’t make it today and sell it tomorrow. With clear spirits, you can make it today, bottle it tomorrow and have it on the shelf the next day. But with bourbon, for instance, you put it in a barrel and you wait. And you lose about 4 percent a year to evaporation, so if you have a 20-year-old bourbon, you’ll probably have less than half left in the barrel by the time you dump that barrel. So it’s a very difficult business to get into. “People were trying to find ways to get around that; they were adding tobacco spit, turpentine, rattlesnake heads, iodine, all kinds of gross stuff that was making people really sick.

of the reasons behind that is that they’re using a very low barrel entry proof. That plays a bigger role than a lot of people realize. I think they’re barreling at 107, whereas the max is 125. When you barrel at a lower proof, that means there’s more water, which dissolves the wood sugars more readily, so there’s a lot more transfer of that flavor and color, which means they can get it to market at a younger age.” For reference, Michter’s is another whiskey that’s barreled at a relatively low proof — 103 — so if you can’t find Kentucky Peerless in your neck of the woods, check that out to get a sense of what we’re talking about. Maggie says it’s more typical for distillers to barrel at around 120 or so. The smell that hits you when you step into the lobby of Kentucky Peerless’ gorgeous distillery is intense (in the best possible way). That’s due, in part, to the fact that they use a sweet mash rather than a sour mash. That means that rather than hold over some of the original yeast strain from batch to batch, fresh yeast is used every time and the fermentation is done in open-topped vats. The result is a sweeter flavor and aroma. After a shotgun tour of the distillery and a tasting of both the finished rye and the new make (i.e., unaged) whiskeys, we were

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off again. This time, we headed back in the direction of the Galt House Hotel to the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, which Maggie refers to as the Disney World of bourbon. There is a bit of that, as the tour includes a video reenactment of a late-1700s meeting involving the company’s namesake and a number of themed tasting rooms, including a large speakeasy. That was where we were guided through a tasting of Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey, Evan Williams 12 and Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage 2006 — in addition to the day’s new make, which we sampled when we checked out the distilling area. “I usually get to taste the day’s new make. It’s fantastic. This is the high-rye, and I just love that spicy quality,” said George, our tour and tasting guide. Our last distillery of the day was something a little different. We drove east to Louisville’s Butchertown neighborhood, where Copper & Kings American Brandy (copperandkings.com) is making some incredible craft brandies. The distillery is new-school to be sure. Everything from the open floor plan to the color schemes on the signage to the fresh approach to distilling and product development feels fresh and cool. That it sits so squarely outside the

“So they came up with the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897 and said, ‘OK, nothing but pure water can be added. It has to be distilled from a certain mash that is 51 percent corn. It has to be distilled no higher than a certain proof and barreled no lower than a certain proof. It has to be bottled at 100 proof and stored in these bonded warehouses where the distillery has a key and the government has a key.’ “In addition, the contents of a bottle of bonded whiskey, by law, must come from a single distillery’s product from only one calendar year and must have been aged no less than four years. Over time, as other spirits gained in popularity, bonded whiskeys fell out of the spotlight. They’re harder to find these days, but if you come across a bonded whiskey (usually made by larger distilleries) you’re looking at guaranteed quality and one of the best deals in booze. “It’s kind of a throwback law that a lot of distilleries still observe. Our biggest secret here is Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond 6 Year Old, which you cannot get outside the state of Kentucky. It’s an $11 bottle, and it’s the best goddamn bottle of bourbon you’ll ever have for that price.”


norm is likely due to the fact that the company was founded by an outsider. Founder Joe Heron, a native of South Africa, is a rock and roll fanatic. His stills are named for Bob Dylan’s love interests, and his spirits — which age in a variety of spent barrels, some from bourbon distilleries, others from breweries — are agitated day and night by four amplifiers blasting rock music to get the brandy moving and exposing itself to wood. We were able to sample a number of products, including the American Brandy (aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels and white oak barrels) and the Apple Brandy (aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels and sherry casks). The kicker: Copper & Kings works with J. Shepherd to blend infused cigars using their own products. The cigars are sold in glass tubes at the shop (inside a converted shipping container by the butterfly garden) out front.

TIP

Joe Heron recommends getting ribs at Hammerheads which is a small restaurant known for its barbecue and pub food. (louisvillehammerheads.com)

By this time, we’d been to a few cigar-friendly establishments, but because of the smoking ban that covers the whole Louisville metro area, we hadn’t been to a place that both sold cigars and let you smoke them indoors. So what do Louisville smokers do when they want to smoke indoors? “I don’t want to misrepresent it,” Maggie said. “There are a lot of places within the city of Louisville that have gone to great lengths to put in covered porches with ventilation and heaters in the wintertime. There are a lot of places that have gotten around (the ban) by creating nice outdoor spaces. The only place you can go for a really nice cigar lounge experience is across the river.” Across the Ohio in Indiana, Jeff Mouttet and Sara McCall Mouttet are Louisville’s nearest and best option for a full-fledged cigar lounge experience (at least until Jeff Ruby’s shakes things up on the Kentucky side). Their Match Cigar Bar (matchcigarbar.com) has two locations: one in Jeffersonville (near the John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge) and one in New Albany (near the Sherman Minton Bridge). We shared drinks and cigars with Maggie at the New Albany lounge, which features a walk-in humidor and two distinct bar areas with plush seating and a bar serving, among other things, great bourbon cocktails. “People here are always willing to share and talk and hang out,” Maggie said, referring to the Louisville area generally. “You can walk in and talk to people and they’re generally open to that. There’s a lot of southern hospitality here. You can walk into a cigar shop and make friends for life. That’s one of the best things we have going for us.” We ended the night at one of Maggie’s favorite restaurants, Bourbons Bistro (bourbonsbistro.com) in Louisville’s Clifton neighborhood, east of downtown. The bourbon list here was just silly, and the food was spectacular. We started with a garlic and goat cheese spread, then moved on to entrees: Maggie went with shrimp and grits, Andy had the steak frites, and I opted for my second pork chop in as many days. The bone-in pork chop is wrapped in prosciutto and covered in a thin layer of cheddar, then topped with a bourbon veal demi glace.

TIP

Bourbons Bistro is one of those Louisville restaurants with a covered patio. This is a great spot to enjoy a cigar after a heavy meal or with a flight of whiskey. Or both.

LIGHTING UP IN INDY On day three, we woke up bright and early to make the drive from Louisville to Indianapolis, which takes just under two hours. First stop (after a breakfast on the road): the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (indianapolismotorspeedway. com).

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: The Indy 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway; home of the Indianapolis Indians; Nicky Blaine’s in downtown Indy; Alexander Rossi’s 2016 Indy 500-winnnig car; the good stuff at Blend Bar; home of the Indianapolis Colts; the Indiana Repertory Theater

The iconic auto racing venue is, to put it simply, massive. The IMS oval alone covers a whopping 253 acres, inside of which you could comfortably fit Churchill Downs, Yankee Stadium, the Rose Bowl, the Roman Colosseum and Vatican City. While the Indy 500 is the event most likely to come to mind when you think of this track, the venue plays host to a wide variety of events, like the Red Bull Air Race, the Brickyard 400, the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational and the IndyCar Grand Prix. Even if none of those events are happening during your stay in Indy, you should drop into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, which has a permanent collection of Indy 500-winning cars dating back to 1911. There’s no better way to get an appreciation for how the competition and the technology driving it have changed over the last century or so — especially when you compare the most modern cars, like the one Alexander Rossi drove to victory in 2016, to the oldest ones, which were designed for two-man teams (driver and mechanic). In addition, the museum houses special exhibits, NASCAR artifacts, concept cars, and other great pieces. It’s also the permanent home of the Borg-

TIP

The Brickyard Crossing Golf Course is one you might want to seriously consider. There’s something cool about playing 18 holes adjacent to an iconic race track.

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Warner Trophy, which has the silver likeness of the Indy 500’s winner added to it each year. We next headed to Blend Bar with Davidoff Cigars-Indianapolis (blendbarcigar.com), a short drive north of downtown Indianapolis, for what can only be described as the total cigar lounge package. We weren’t in Kentucky anymore, which meant that we once again had access to full-service cigar experiences; Blend Bar is the cream of the crop here. Yes, there’s a great spirits selection. Yes, the cigar selection is excellent (including the Davidoff Exclusive Indy 500 Edition, which was created specifically for Blend Bar). But the most surprising thing about this opulent midwestern cigar lounge: the Cuban sandwich. It’s not a traditional Cuban, as it’s served on bolillo bread and contains grilled pork rather than roasted pork, but if you can set aside Cuban sandwich dogma (and you probably can if you’re not Cuban), this might jump right to the top of your list of your favorite Cuban sandwiches. It’s that good. The bar and lounge area is large, with several distinct seating areas and loads of natural light that make it feel even more open and spacious. Naturally, as this is a Davidoff lounge, the selection of Davidoff cigars is big — from rare Davidoffs to Cusano and everything in between. Our bellies full and our cigar jones satisfied, we drove south to downtown Indianapolis, which I — having never visited before — found to be surpris-

ingly walkable. We started our exploring around the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, which stands an imposing 284 feet tall and was initially intended to memorialize Civil War Hoosiers, but ended up also being a monument to veterans of the Revolutionary War, the Spanish-American War, the Mexican-American War, and other conflicts. The neoclassical obelisk is an impressive centerpiece for the city. Indianapolis is a great sports town independent of racing, and residents are lucky to have a downtown that brings major venues into the urban center. Within a short walk of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument (we walked by them all on our stroll), there’s Lucas Oil Stadium (home to the Indianapolis Colts), Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Indiana Pacers), and Victory Field, home to the Indianapolis Indians, a Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates and the second-oldest minor league team in the country. Indians alumni include Randy Johnson, Moisés Alou, Ken Griffey, Sr., José Bautista, J.J. Hardy, and Andrew McCutchen. Indianapolis is also the home of NCAA headquarters, and college sports fans shouldn’t pass up an opportunity to pay a quick visit to the NCAA Hall of Champions, just over a mile from the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, which has two levels of exhibits and interactive simulators designed to immerse you in what it’s like to be a student athlete. For the cigar lover, downtown Indianapolis’ greatest shrine to sports is actually below street level right


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RACES TO WATCH Indianapolis Motor Speedway indianapolismotorspeedway.com Indy 500 (open-wheel) Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational (vintage cars) Red Bull Air Race (aerobatic planes) IndyCar Grand Prix (open-wheel) Brickyard 400 (stock car)

Lucas Oil Raceway lucasoilraceway.com Professional Drag Racers Association Mid America Showdown (drag race) Chevy Performance U.S. Nationals (drag race)

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Indiana capitol; deer frolicking at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art; the Indiana World War Memorial; Blend Bar; Smoker’s Choice

NMCA World Series (drag race)

Indianapolis Speedrome speedrome.com World Figure-8 Championship (figure-8 track) Stock Championship Kenny’s 100 (stock car) Adult Faskart Season Championship (faskart) Race dates vary year to year. Visit each track’s website for up-to-date schedules.

up against Monument Circle. Nicky Blaine’s Cocktail Lounge (nickyblaines.com) has been around 12 years now. The dark, moody, subterranean bar is lightened up by an owner’s insistence that its walls and shelf space serve as a way to display his collection of racing memorabilia, with the most notable divergence from that theme being the portraits of JFK and Lincoln that flank the bar. Those used to hang in a private “Presidential Room” when the bar was at another location across the street. “We have a huge selection of Scotches and bourbons, and we’re great with martinis. We have 65 on our menu,” said manager and bartender Mike Schallert, adding that fine dining is a major draw in the immediate area. “You can throw a dart in any direction and hit a steakhouse, and Indy’s awesome because you can walk anywhere you want downtown. It’s clean, it’s nice and you can have a good time.” The walk-in humidor is on the small side, but the selection is more than respectable for a bar’s humidor. You can enjoy your stogies inside or at Nicky Blaine’s seasonal outdoor seating on Monument Circle. Just be cognizant of the fact that the bar opens at 4 every day, so this might not be the spot for morning or after-lunch smoking. It is great, though, for anything from watching sports when a major event is on to dates or business meetings. On Mike’s recommendation, we walked over to Nada — a Mexican restaurant which also has two locations in Ohio — for dinner. After enchiladas and fish tacos, we were ready to call it a night.

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BRACE FOR IMPACT - AND BACON With only half a day to work with, it was time to kick things into high gear and make the most of the time we had left in Indianapolis. First, breakfast at Rock-Cola ‘50s Cafe (rockcolacafe.com), a tiny racing-and-rock-music-themed diner that’s loaded with personality and nostalgia. Owners Dan Iaria and Greg Codozor know exactly where to invest to keep patrons happy: bacon. Our waitress wasn’t lying when she said the bacon here was the good, thick kind.

TIP

Pick up a few cans of Choc-Ola while you’re at Rock-Cola. It’s another venture of the owners’ and it tastes a lot like Yoo-hoo.

Even though there wasn’t an event going on that day, we wanted to get a look at the Indianapolis Speedrome (speedrome.com), a rickety track that’s home to — among other events — the World Figure 8 Championship. In case you’re not familiar, figure 8 racing is a sport in which a collection of insane people opts not to follow the given oval shape of the track, instead following a path that intersects with itself in the center of the oval such that people are bound to get t-boned. Even the empty Speedrome had a really exciting, rickety quality to it. The worn wood boards

that make up the floors, steps and seats bent and creaked under the weight of our feet, which I imagine feels like it puts you, the fan, right in the thick of the crazy deathtrap feeling of a figure 8 race. Seriously, though, this place is cool, and if you do have a chance to watch people destroy their cars here, you should take it. Finally, we went back across town for one last preflight cigar at Smoker’s Choice Cigar Bar, about 15 minutes north of Indianapolis International Airport. They have a good selection of craft beers and bourbons, along with a large lounge area that fills up with friendly locals rather than travelers. The most important thing about this spot, though, is that it claims to have the largest cigar humidor in the state of Indiana. Regardless of whether that’s true, the selection is immense, with a special emphasis on boutique brands and as complete a collection of Drew Estate products as we’ve seen at any lounge in our travels. Both Louisville and Indianapolis exceeded our expectations. The two downtown areas are some of the most pedestrian friendly we’ve ever encountered, and the hospitality we encountered every step of the way made us feel right at home walking those streets. And each city identifies so closely with its marquee sporting event that — even if your visit lands nowhere near a big race on the calendar — you’ll feel immersed in these cities’ unique sports cultures. Of course, the bourbon cultural immersion happens year-round, too.


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SEPT / OCT 2017 | CIGAR SNOB |

49

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50 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2017


SEPT / OCT 2017 | CIGAR SNOB |

51


HOW ROCKY PATEL IS BRINGING CIGARS INTO THE MAINSTREAM WITH SOME OF THE BEST IN SPORTS.


f you’re a spor ts fan, you know that no celebration of athletic accomplishment is complete without cigars. That image of teammates drenched in champagne and embracing their trophies while enjoying cigars repeats itself several times a year in locker rooms, parades, and even on cour ts and fields. Sure, the Red Auerbachs of the world, who would flaunt their cigars during games, are a dying breed, but even Steph Curry had a stogie on the cour t for interviews after the Warriors’ most recent NBA title run. While cigars have had a role in American sports culture for generations, cigar brands and manufacturers don’t seem to have fully embraced sports as a vehicle for telling their stories in the mainstream. The clearest exception, however, is Rocky Patel. Rocky was born in India, but spent his formative years in Green Bay and Madison, Wisconsin. Pound for pound, the area that’s home to the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers and Wisconsin Badgers — not to mention the huge contingent of Chicago transplants who are nuts about their teams — might be the most fanatical sports region in the country. “I’ve been an avid sports fan and avid athlete since I was young,” said Rocky. “There used to be a time when you could smoke cigars at football and baseball stadiums everywhere. Now, when you’re tailgating, I see so many people smoking cigars, whether it’s at Lambeau Field or any other stadium that I go to. And obviously with golf, people smoke on the course, spectators smoke when they go and watch tournaments.” With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Rocky, having built a wildly successful cigar company as an outsider to the hyper-traditional industry, would be the one to think far enough outside the box to aggressively expand his brand’s reach through sports. “It just made sense,” he said. “There’s a great percentage of people who love sports, who enjoy tailgating, smoking cigars, whether it’s with a beer, with a cocktail. It’s just part of the American dream and lifestyle.”

A TEAM COMES TOGETHER It started, Rocky said, with Gary Sheffield. The MLB great had a long career in baseball, during which time he built an impressive résumé: nine

54 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2017

All-Star game appearances, a World Series win, five Silver Slugger Awards, and an NL batting title. A Tampa native, it was natural for Gary to start celebrating successes in the majors with cigars. “I was just around it all the time. I had family members who were big cigar smokers in the ‘80s and ‘90s. I didn’t smoke cigars until I got into major league baseball in ‘88, but I grew up in the Ybor City area on 22nd and Martin Luther King,” Gary said. “We used to always ride our bikes into Ybor City. On every other corner, you’d see a cigar bar or cigars being rolled.” The cigar smoking started, fittingly, back home in the Tampa area, when Gary and friends celebrated the end of his first season playing rookie ball with cigars.

“THERE’S A GREAT PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE WHO LOVE SPORTS, WHO ENJOY TAILGATING, SMOKING CIGARS, WHETHER IT’S WITH A BEER, WITH A COCKTAIL. IT’S JUST PART OF THE AMERICAN DREAM AND LIFESTYLE.” - ROCKY PATEL

“When I smoked that Churchill, it was a celebration. There was a sense of victory. So I’ve always associated cigars with winning and celebration, whether it was winning a championship or celebrating anything. Every time I smoke a cigar, that’s how I feel.”

A few years into Gary’s business relationship with Rocky, the two discussed the prospect of bringing another athlete into the fold — one with whom Gary had developed a close friendship after they bonded over their shared Central Florida roots. “It’s funny the way things happen, right?” said Ray Lewis, Lakeland, Fla. native and shoo-in future football Hall of Famer. “Gary’s older than me, but we grew up in the same cities. I was a huge fan of Gary early. And then we became brothers. He was like, ‘Lil bro, I’m always gonna take care of you.’” One day about three and a half years ago, Ray got a call from Gary, who told him that Rocky was interested in making a cigar with Ray at the center of the brand. Could Ray meet in Naples, Fla. at Rocky’s bar, Burn? “I was like, ‘That would be a freaking honor.’ And Gary started giving me the backstory,” recounted Ray. “He said, ‘Look, this guy researched you. They’re die hard Green Bay fans, but all Rocky is talking about is your passion and who you are as a person and your integrity as a man. I’m telling you, you gotta come meet this guy.’ I took a drive to Naples and I met Nish (Patel), Nimish (Desai), Rocky, the whole team. And I was like, ‘Wow. This is a pretty cool freaking team.’” The meeting ended with an agreement that, before he could lend his name and likeness to any cigar, Ray had to get an education in how they were made. So they went about the business of showing Ray how it was done and working their way to the point where he could confidently participate in selecting a blend for his brand. What they came up with is the Legends 52 by Ray Lewis; the number is the one Ray wore on his Baltimore Ravens and University of Miami Hurricanes jerseys. Ray’s cigar shares the same format as Gary’s: 6½ x 52 Toro.

“Gary was a die hard cigar fan,” said Rocky. “He really loved our cigars. He came to visit us in Naples and he really wanted to be involved in making his blends, so we launched Gary’s cigars.”

“It’s a box-pressed, mild-to-medium cigar with a Habano wrapper, smooth all the way through. It has a nice little spice to it in the Habano wrapper. And it’s got that manly feel of the box press when you grab my cigar. I was like, ‘Man that’s the perfect one. If I could deal with a cigar every day, it would be this type of cigar. If we ever make a different cigar, I get it that you’re going with another blend, but I like the Habano.’”

The HR500 by Gary Sheffield is named that way to commemorate his place in history as one of only 27 players to hit 500 or more career home runs. The 6½ x 52 Toro features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper on a blend of Nicaraguan and Honduran tobaccos.

One more athlete has a cigar that bears his name coming from Rocky Patel. The elder statesman of the bunch, Bernie Parent has been recognized by the NHL as one of the 100 greatest hockey players of all time, won two Stanley Cups with the Philadelphia Flyers, and was

Five years ago, Gary chose to take a deeper dive into cigars.


Ray Lewis, Rocco Mediate, Rocky Patel and Gary Sheffield (along with Bernie Parent, who’s not in the photo) have joined to promote Rocky’s brands through sports.

inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1984. He connected with Rocky at cigar events in the northeastern U.S. “I was a pole dancer at one time … no, just kidding,” said Bernie. This was just one of many nojust-kidding moments in our interview. He can’t help himself. “I would do some cigar events and one time Rocky was there. He’s a great individual. I love that guy. We hit it off and he said, ‘How about if we get you involved and make you your own cigars and the whole bit?’ I said, ‘Definitely, but before I commit I would like to make sure that I like the cigar.’ I know a good cigar when I smoke one. I think we had to go through 20 different blends and finally we came across the one I really liked and that’s the one I endorsed.” Finally, a fourth athlete involved with Rocky Patel doesn’t have his own brand, but does wear his cigar allegiance on his sleeve. And his chest and his back and his head. Golfer Rocco Mediate has won six times on the PGA Tour and three times on the Champions Tour. “I didn’t know Rocky personally but I knew about his product. I was a customer,” said Rocco. “I used to buy his cigars because I liked them and I smoked them a lot. So about three years ago I’m

talking to a mutual friend Bob Emfield (founder of Tommy Bahama) and I tell him we gotta do something with Rocky on the Champions Tour. I go, ‘Well, we can advertise, we can give out cigars, we can do stuff and the guys out there will lose their minds. They’ll go crazy. It’ll be a cool relationship because cigars and golf go together — more so than any other sport. It’s not even close!’ “So one day I get this call out of nowhere and it’s Bob,” Rocco continued. “He puts Rocky on the phone and as soon as we talk it’s like we knew each other for 300 years.” The two met in Naples, played some golf, and became fast enough friends that they essentially made a handshake deal for Rocky Patel to sponsor Rocco on the Champions Tour.

GENUINE PASSION Gary has lots of fond memories of smoking to celebrate major victories (like the one time he put his cigars away because Liván Hernández showed up at a celebration of the Marlins making the playoffs with Cubans). He has even worked his cigar brand into his broadcasting

life, awarding an HR500 cigar to the players he singles out as MVPs of the game he calls. But he’s as much a fan — if not more — of the more relaxing, meditative aspects of cigar smoking. “It strikes up conversation,” said Gary. “You know, as I’ve been going around the country and promoting the cigar, I’ve met people that I would never have met before, and their mentality is totally different from most people’s. The cigar crowd is more low key and laid back and conversational. You’re not on your phone, you’re not tweeting, you’re not talking to people on the outside. Once you get into that cigar bar, everybody is speaking to everybody.” One guy who knows a thing or two about “speaking to everybody” is Ray Lewis. He’s made plenty of headlines for his outspoken nature and his public stances on a variety of issues, most notably issues of inner city violence and poverty in his adoptive home of Baltimore and, more recently, Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protests. Though he’s been a lightning rod, Ray says there are things the non-cigar smoking world can learn from cigar smokers about how to talk about contentious issues. “Everybody has an opinion and it’s OK to dis-

SEPT / OCT 2017 | CIGAR SNOB |

55


agree. Stop getting so sensitive,” he said. “Nobody should be able to sit down and make decisions about our world or about change unless they’re sitting down smoking a cigar. Seriously, man! It puts you in a different place. It puts you in a place of reason.” Ray recalls the first lesson he ever got in cigars. Three days before his death, Ray’s cigar-smoking grandfather — Papa as Ray calls him affectionately — said to him that the day he figured out a cigar would be the day he figured out manhood. The idea confused Ray until the day that, in an effort to offer some consolation, a friend insisted he smoke a cigar. “Ten minutes into smoking it, I’m in tears,” Ray said. “And I realized exactly what my grandfather was talking about. A cigar is a moment, it’s a mood, it’s a mindset that takes you away from the rat race of life and running around. It’s a gentleman’s conversation. And that’s the day I became like a cigar smoker.”

Ray Lewis, Rocky Patel and Rocco Mediate enjoying Rocky Patel cigars

I don’t need any of those holders. I’ll lose ‘em anyway. I do set the cigars down, though; I don’t throw them, or else they break up.” So what are Rocco’s cigars of choice?

“THE CIGAR CROWD IS MORE LOW KEY AND LAID BACK AND CONVERSATIONAL. YOU’RE NOT ON YOUR PHONE, YOU’RE NOT TWEETING, YOU’RE NOT TALKING TO PEOPLE ON THE OUTSIDE. ONCE YOU GET INTO THAT CIGAR BAR, EVERYBODY IS SPEAKING TO EVERYBODY.” - GARY SHEFFIELD “Ray is one of the most interesting people in how much he cares about humanity, how much he cares about people,” said Rocky. “He gives great motivational speeches, he works with kids and adults and tries to change people’s course of life.” Outside of the cigar industry, it’s not often we see people smoking at work. It’s even more unusual among athletes. But Rocco is an exception. “I put my cigar on the ground,” Rocco said of his routine for handling cigars while he’s golfing. “They’ll go either to the left of me or to the right.

56 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2017

“I haven’t had one that I didn’t like. I just like some better. I love the Rocky Patel Decade,” he said. “I’m a robusto guy and I love a box press. I don’t love huge cigars. I’ll smoke them occasionally, but when I’m playing golf I’m a robusto guy. I can make them last. Yesterday I was in Calgary (playing the Shaw Charity Classic). I lit a Private Cellar when I walked out onto the putting green before my round and I had about a quarter of it left when I walked off 18. I also like smoking the new stuff so people can see it.” Bernie, meanwhile, is enjoying his retirement and sticking to his own brand. He says he values consistency and great construction above all else. These days, he spends more time in the great outdoors — hunting, fishing, and boating — than on hockey rinks. When I spoke with him, he was in Boca Raton, Fla. where he takes his boat every summer. “Wherever I go, if I can smoke my cigar and enjoy myself, I turn the other things down,” Bernie said. “That’s how much I enjoy it. This is part of me. Sometimes you have to stand firm in what you believe in life. I’ll smoke anywhere in the world that I’m allowed to smoke my cigar.”

MAINSTREAMING CIGAR CULTURE It’s one thing to market a cigar. It’s another to incorporate lifestyle into a brand. But Rocky Patel has gone beyond all that; with this small squad of world-class athletes, Rocky Patel has staked out a position as one of the foremost promoters of the niche — and sometimes obscure — cigar

culture from within one of the most mainstream arenas possible: spectator sports. Most importantly, he’s recognized that while he’s a great pitchman, he’s not the best person to deliver that message. Sure, he’s got years of experience building a recognizable cigar brand. But the athletes who’ve chosen to make themselves ambassadors of Rocky Patel’s brand are effective not because they know cigars, but because they love cigars. “At first, most people think it’s a gimmick. People think it’s a business card,” said Rocky. “They just assume that [the athletes] are doing it for the money. That’s certainly not the case with these guys, because there’s not a lot of money in it. They’re doing this because they’re proud of it, they’re passionate about it, they actually love cigars, love meeting people at these events. They want to be part of this cigar culture, they enjoy visiting the farms and learning about the process. They’re doing it because this is a labor of love that they’re passionate about.” “Rocky had his hands in the farms, picking the blends that he wanted going in the trenches, understanding the business, making it become something,” said Gary, “I’m a big believer that when you go the hardest route, you appreciate success, as opposed to getting it the easy way,” said Gary. “The most gratifying part to me is that I’m as known in the cigar industry as I was in baseball. Because I did it the hard way. I went to 67 different cities in one year. I did the stuff that most people wouldn’t want to do being in my situation. I didn’t have to be a part of a cigar brand to be successful in life. I just chose to do it because this is what I enjoy doing. I’ve always said to myself that before I die I want to do all the things that I ever wanted to do, and that’s exactly what I’m doing.”


SEPT / OCT 2017 | CIGAR SNOB |

57


CAO BRAZILIA


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MODEL

JULIETA MIQUELARENA WILHELMINA MIAMI PHOTOGRAPHY

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IVAN OCAMPO iocampo@cigarsnobmag.com PRODUCTION ASSISTANT

JAMILET CALVIÑO WARDROBE STYLIST

JENNA DEBRINO www.limitededitionmanagement.com ASSISTANT WARDROBE STYLIST

AMANDA MILLER www.limitededitionmanagement.com HAIR AND MAKE-UP ARTIST

EDDY MUNSTER www.limitededitionmanagement.com

CIGAR CAO BRAZILIA www.caocigars.com


68 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2017


54 cigars SEPT / OCT 2017 | CIGAR SNOB |

69


CHURCHILL

)

Oliva Connecticut Reserve

)

91

$ 9.47

N I CA R AG UA VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Churchill 7 50 Ecuador Nicaragua Nicaragua

Archetype Dreamstate

$ 12.7 9

)

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C

)

91

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Churchill 7 48 Ecuador Dominican Republic Undisclosed

Villiger La Flor de Ynclan

A super-smooth blend covered with a golden colored wrapper. This mild to medium strength smoke delivers a profile with prominent notes of cedar and soft spice complemented by a rich almond cream flavor on the finish.

)

$ 12.00

)

90

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Churchill 7 48 Ecuador Indonesia Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

Espinosa Reggae

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C Covered with a clean, neatly applied wrapper with only the slightest veins, this mild to medium strength Churchill consistently draws and burns flawlessly leaving behind notes of cedar, soft spice, and nuts accompanied by a touch of leather and cream.

$ 10.30

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

90

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Short Churchill 6 1/2 48 Ecuador Nicaragua Nicaragua & Jamaica

Prohibition Connecticut

Consistently well constructed and flavorful, this medium bodied blend has a core of white pepper, wood, and leather balanced by a sweet touch of honey on the finish. Draws and burns perfectly and produces an excellent smoke output.

$ 8.00

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

88

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 1/2 52 USA/Connecticut Nicaragua Nicaragua

)

La Aurora ADN Dominicano

)

88

70 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2017

A beautifully balanced blend with flavors of oak, roasted nuts, coffee, and cream over a soft pepper and earth core. This mild to medium strength blend is covered with a supple, golden colored wrapper. Consistently draws and burns perfectly.

A smooth, mild to medium strength blend covered with a golden colored wrapper with a velvet feel. This cigar delivers a straightforward profile with notes of nuts, earth, coffee, and a slight hint of cream.

$ 8.50 VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Churchill 7 47 Dominican Republic Cameroon USA, Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C Covered with a velvet smooth wrapper with minimal veins, this medium strength blend delivers a core of cedar, spice, and a touch of sour apple. This Churchill is consistently well constructed providing a perfect draw and an even burn.


SEPT / OCT 2017 | CIGAR SNOB |

71


GRAN TORO Camacho Ecuador

)

$ 9.25

)

92

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Gordo 6 60 Ecuador Brazil Honduras & Dominican Republic

Padilla San Andres

Beautifully balanced and smooth; this thick, boxpressed cigar is covered with a flavorful, reddish brown wrapper with minimal veins. Delivers a rich profile of roasted almonds, leather, earth, and a touch of spice complemented by a buttery texture on the smoke.

$ 7.00

)

H O N D UR AS

)

92

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Double Toro 6 60 Mexico Nicaragua Nicaragua

JFR

A flavorful and balanced blend with a core of sweet earth, nuts, and soft pepper complemented by a rich leather aroma. Consistently features excellent construction producing a good smoke output and leaving a behind a solid, compact ash. Medium plus strength.

$ 6.4 8

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

91

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Titan 6 60 Nicaragua Ecuador Nicaragua

AVO Syncro Ritmo

This thick and consistently well-constructed smoke is cloaked in a beautiful, oily wrapper and topped with a neat pigtail. This ultra-flavorful, medium strength offering delivers a core of sweet cedar, espresso, milk chocolate, and cinnamon with a hint of vanilla.

)

$ 12.90

)

90

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Special Toro 6 60 Ecuador Mexico Brazil, Nicaragua, Peru, Honduras & Dominican Republic

La Bohème

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C Delivering a core of pepper and wood from the onset joined by notes of honey, nuts, and a slight touch of earth. This thick, pressed cigar is consistently well-made and covered with a beautiful, milk chocolate colored wrapper with a velvet feel.

$ 13.1 4

)

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C

)

90

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 1/4 56 Ecuador Dominican Republic Dominican Republic

El Baton

Well-constructed and covered with a good-looking, brass colored wrapper with minimal veins. This blend delivers a medium strength profile with notes of wood, cream, smooth pepper and a hint of cinnamon.

)

$ 7.85

)

88

72 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2017

H O N D UR AS

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Double Toro 6 60 Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua

N I CA R AG UA An ultra-consistent smoke with a profile of earth, roasted nuts, and pepper with a touch of coffee. This medium strength cigar is covered with an even-colored reddish brown colored wrapper with good oils.


SEPT / OCT 2017 | CIGAR SNOB |

73


TORO CAO Amazon Anaconda

)

$ 10.49

)

92

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 52 Brazil Nicaragua Brazil, Colombia & Dominican Republic

)

Monte by Montecristo AJ Fernandez

)

92

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

) )

91

Toro 6 55 Ecuador Nicaragua Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

N I CA R AG UA A flavorful and complex blend with a heavy dose of earth and pepper complemented by cinnamon, burnt sugar, leather, and coffee. This medium to full strength toro is box-pressed and finished with a nearly flawless, dark brown wrapper.

$ 8.00

N I CA R AG UA Short Churchill 6 48 Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua

FSG

Covered with an oily and toothy wrapper, this medium plus strength toro delivers a profile of cocoa powder, earth, wood, and coffee with a strong pepper note throughout. Draws and burns well, producing tons of thick, aromatic smoke.

$ 13.00

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

90

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 52 Brazil Honduras Nicaragua & USA

Cohiba Macassar

Consistently well-constructed, this flavorful toro delivers a complex profile with notes of pine, floral, coffee, and a touch of earth. Draws and burns flawlessly while producing a high output of thick, rich smoke.

)

$ 1 7.59

)

89

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro Grande 6 52 USA/Connecticut USA/Connecticut Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

Saga Golden Age

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C A beautifully constructed cigar with an ultrasmooth profile of wood, cinnamon, and cocoa accompanied by a faint hint of almond. This mild to medium strength cigar is covered with an even-colored, medium brown wrapper and leaves behind a solid, compact ash.

)

$ 9.99

)

89

74 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2017

Covered with a dark, oily, and pungent wrapper finished with a long pigtail that winds down a quarter of the cigar. This blend is flavorful and complex with sweet spice, ripe fruit, and chestnut balanced by a smooth earthy backbone. Medium to full strength.

$ 11.00

AJ Fernandez New World Puro Especial VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

H O N D UR AS

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 52 Dominican Republic Dominican Republic Dominican Republic

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C Presented with an interesting pigtail on a flat head, this medium bodied blend delivers tons of cedar and spice at the onset. The flavors settle to incorporate notes of cinnamon, leather, and a touch of cream.


SEPT / OCT 2017 | CIGAR SNOB |

75


TORO Oliva Serie V Melanio

)

$ 15.06

)

93

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

N I CA R AG UA Double Toro 6 60 Ecuador Nicaragua Nicaragua

)

My Father El Centurion H-2K-CT

)

93

$ 8.10

N I CA R AG UA VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 52 USA/Connecticut Nicaragua Nicaragua

H. Upmann AJ Fernandez

Perfectly pressed and covered with an impeccable wrapper topped with a neat triple cap. This beautifully balanced blend has a profile of cedar, milk chocolate, and roasted nuts complemented by a soft pepper note. Medium plus strength.

)

$ 7.50

)

93

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 54 Ecuador Nicaragua Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

Undercrown Sungrown

N I CA R AG UA Superbly balanced and flavorful with a core of earth and cream accompanied by notes of cinnamon, chocolate, and pepper with a hint of oak on the finish. This medium strength blend is covered with a silky, smooth wrapper.

$ 9.02

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

91

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Gran Toro 6 52 Ecuador Nicaragua Nicaragua

Archetype Initiation

Finished with an even-colored, reddish brown wrapper with thin veins, this medium strength smoke produces a thick, silky smooth textured smoke. The profile of cedar, cinnamon, soft pepper, and roasted nuts is balanced by a rich, vanilla cream note.

$ 12.49

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

90

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 52 Ecuador Nicaragua Nicaragua

ToraĂąo Vault W-009

Producing generous amounts of thick smoke, this medium strength blend has a core of oak, earth, espresso and leather complemented by a sweet pepper note on the finish. This cigar is consistently well constructed.

$ 6.49

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

90

76 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2017

Superbly balanced and complex, this medium strength blend delivers a highly nuanced profile with flavors of caramel, cinnamon, and soft spice accompanied by a rich almond cream note on the finish. Pressed and covered with a flawless wrapper.

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 50 Nicaragua Honduras Honduras

Delivering notes of chocolate, earth, and soft pepper complemented by a touch of brown sugar and wood, this well-made smoke provides a flawless draw and an even burn. Medium bodied and finished with a supple wrapper with excellent oils.


SEPT / OCT 2017 | CIGAR SNOB |

77


TORO

)

Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial

)

91

$ 7.10

N I CA R AG UA VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 54 USA/Connecticut Nicaragua Nicaragua

Quesada Keg

$ 7.95

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

91

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 50 USA/Pennsylvania Nicaragua Nicaragua

Partagas 1845

Covered with a dark brown and somewhat rustic looking wrapper with large veins showing, this medium strength smoke has a profile of earth, semi-sweet chocolate, pepper, and a hint of zest. This consistently well-made toro provides a perfect draw.

)

$ 7.99

)

90

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro Grande 6 1/2 54 Ecuador USA Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

)

Aging Room Quattro F55M

)

90

) )

89

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C A flavorful blend with a profile of sweet, ripe fruit balanced by earth and soft pepper notes on the finish. This rustic looking cigar provides a perfect draw producing an excellent smoke output. Medium strength.

$ 10.46 VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Vibrato 6 54 Mexico Dominican Republic Dominican Republic

K by Karen Berger Maduro

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C Beautifully box-pressed and covered with a clean, dark brown wrapper with minimal veins. This medium strength blend delivers a core of sweet pepper, wood, and dark chocolate. Draws and burns perfectly leaving behind a compact ash.

$ 9.50

N I CA R AG UA VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 52 Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua

Perla del Mar Maduro

Covered with a dark brown wrapper with a toothy texture, this medium strength blend delivers a core of earth and pepper complemented by notes of cedar, leather, and dry cocoa. This box-pressed cigar draws easy and provides a good, even burn.

$ 6.05

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

89

78 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2017

Smooth and ultra-consistent, this flavorful blend is finished with a neatly applied dark and oily wrapper with some tooth. Delivers a smooth core of earth and pepper complemented by notes of dark chocolate, espresso, leather, and a touch of cream.

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

G 6 1/4 54 USA/Connecticut Nicaragua Nicaragua

Consistently well-constructed, this pressed cigar delivers a straightforward core of earth, soft pepper, and a touch of black coffee. This mild to medium strength blend is covered with a dark and toothy wrapper and leaves behind a compact ash.


SEPT / OCT 2017 | CIGAR SNOB |

79


TORPERDO A. Fuente Don Carlos

$ 12.60

)

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C

)

93

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

#2 6 55 Cameroon Dominican Republic Dominican Republic

Doña Nieves Sentimiento

$ 7.00

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

91

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Ternura 6 54 Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua

)

Ditka Signature by Camacho

)

90

A beautifully pressed torpedo covered with a clean, reddish brown wrapper with minimal veins. Produces an excellent output of thick, aromatic smoke with notes of soft pepper, cedar, coffee, and peanut complemented by a creamy caramel sweetness on the finish.

$ 11.00

H O N D UR AS VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Figurado 6 1/8 54 Honduras Nicaragua Dominican Republic

Rich Cigars King Pin

Opens with a black pepper blast that settles to incorporate notes of oak, earth, and a rich, creamy sweetness. This medium strength torpedo is covered with a neatly applied, reddish brown wrapper. Provides an easy draw and produces a good smoke output.

$ 11.00

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

89

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Torpedo 6 56 Indonesia Mexico Nicaragua

Perdomo Lot 23

Well-constructed and covered with a supple, milk chocolate colored wrapper with sheen. This medium strength blend has a profile of wood, chestnut, and white pepper accompanied by a leather note on the finish.

$ 6.25

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

89

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Belicoso 5 3/4 54 Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua

)

Flor de Gonzalez 90 Millas Unidos

)

88

80 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2017

Impeccably constructed and covered with a thin, flavorful wrapper. This medium strength torpedo is beautifully balanced with notes of cedar and spice accompanied by nuts and rich, sweet cream. Produces an excellent output of thick, aromatic smoke.

A smooth and straightforward smoke with a core of earth and soft pepper complemented by a touch of black coffee and a leather aroma. This well-made torpedo provides a flawless draw and a good burn. Medium bodied.

$ 9.00 VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER:

Belicoso 6 1/2 54 USA & Ecuador Nicaragua & Dominican Republic FILLER: Nicaragua

N I CA R AG UA A consistently well-made, barber pole torpedo with a core of wood, earth, and pepper balanced by notes of roasted nuts and touch of vanilla. This medium strength torpedo provides a firm draw and leaves behind a solid, compact ash.


SEPT / OCT 2017 | CIGAR SNOB |

81


ROBUSTO Cabaiguan

$ 9.00

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

92

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Robustos Extra 5 1/4 50 Ecuador Nicaragua Nicaragua

)

Nestor Miranda Collection Connecticut

)

91

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

$ 7.50 Coffee Break 4 1/2 50 Ecuador Nicaragua Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

Macanudo Inspirado

N I CA R AG UA Smooth and ultra-consistent, this mild to medium bodied blend delivers a core of cedar, soft spice, nuts, and vanilla cream. Leaves behind a compact ash along a perfect draw and flawless burn. This short robusto is covered with an inviting, light brown wrapper.

$ 6.49

)

H O N D UR AS

)

90

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Robusto 5 50 Ecuador Indonesia Nicaragua & Mexico

)

Cornelius & Anthony - Cornelius

)

90

Consistently well-constructed, this mild to medium bodied blend delivers a core of wood and soft spice accompanied by subtle notes of cinnamon, coffee, and floral. Draws and burns perfectly while producing an excellent smoke output.

$ 1 4.20 VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Robusto 5 52 Ecuador Ecuador Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

Case Study 02

USA A flavorful blend with notes of oak, cinnamon, and soft pepper balanced by a touch of cream. This consistently well-made robusto is cloaked in a nearly flawless, golden colored wrapper and topped with a neat triple cap.

$ 7.87

)

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C

)

89

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Robusto 5 50 Ecuador Brazil Undisclosed

)

Perdomo Small Batch 2005 Connecticut

)

89

82 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2017

Opens with cedar and almond cream, soon after joined by nuts, vanilla, and the slightest hint of spice. This mild to medium bodied blend is covered with a soft, supple wrapper and produces an excellent output of rich, aromatic smoke.

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

A good-looking, medium strength blend covered with a clean, velvet-smooth wrapper. This well-constructed cigar has a core of wood, white pepper, and coffee complemented by a touch of butterscotch. Leaves behind a slightly flaky ash.

$ 6.00

N I CA R AG UA Rothschild 4 1/2 50 Ecuador Nicaragua Nicaragua

A flavorful blend with notes of earth, almond, wood, and cream accompanied by a sharp pepper twang. This medium strength blend is consistently well-constructed and covered with a clean, golden colored wrapper.


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ROBUSTO

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Davidoff Winston Churchill The Late Hour

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VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

$ 1 7.50 Robusto 5 52 Ecuador Mexico Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

Hamlet 25th Year

Smooth, creamy, and beautifully balanced with notes of oak, leather, and almond complemented by a hint of cinnamon. This cigar features excellent construction and leaves behind a gray, compact ash.

$ 8.75

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N I CA R AG UA

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91

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Robusto 5 1/2 50 Ecuador USA Honduras & Nicaragua

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Camacho Nicaragua Barrel-Aged

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90

A balanced blend with notes of leather, almond, cedar, and cream. This consistently well-constructed robusto is covered with a good-looking wrapper with slight veins. Medium strength with an excellent draw and an even burn.

$ 10.00 VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Robusto 5 50 Ecuador Mexico Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

Don Pepín García Vegas Cubanas

H O N D UR AS A beautifully balanced blend with notes of earth, pepper, oak, and grilled meats countered by a rich, toffee flavor on the finish. Consistently well-constructed with a flawless draw and burn that leaves behind a solid, compact ash.

$ 7.30

N I CA R AG UA VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Invictos 5 50 Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua

Balmoral Añejo XO

Well constructed and ultra-flavorful, this medium plus strength blend delivers a core of earth and pepper accompanied by leather, cocoa, and a hint of zest. Draws and burns perfectly delivering an excellent smoke output.

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$ 9.90

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90

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Rothschild Masivo 5 55 Brazil Dominican Republic Brazil, Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

Aging Room M356

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C Beautifully constructed and covered with a supple, medium to dark brown wrapper. This blend is ultra-smooth and complex with notes of oak, soft pepper, and a hint of peat smoke complemented by a subtle sweetness on the finish. Medium bodied.

$ 9.35

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D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C

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D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Rondo 5 50 Dominican Republic Dominican Republic Dominican Republic

Covered with a beautiful, reddish brown wrapper with excellent oils, this medium plus strength robusto delivers a profile of sweet cedar, black pepper, and a touch of cinnamon. Provides a firm draw and produces thin but aromatic smoke.


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ROBUSTO La Antiguedad

$ 7.40

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N I CA R AG UA

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Robusto 5 1/2 52 Ecuador Nicaragua Nicaragua

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Rocky Patel Vintage 2006 San Andreas

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$ 9.55 Robusto 5 1/2 50 Mexico USA Nicaragua

Hoyo La Amistad Silver

N I CA R AG UA Sweet, dark, and flavorful with notes of ripe fruit, dark chocolate, and oak balanced by a smooth, deep earth and pepper core. This medium plus strength smoke is covered with a highly aromatic wrapper. Draws and burns consistently well.

$ 7.00

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N I CA R AG UA

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91

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Robusto 5 50 Ecuador Nicaragua Nicaragua

La Aurora Cameroon

Opens with a heavy dose of pepper and dark chocolate, which settles to incorporate notes of sweet espresso, charred oak, and ripe fruit. This medium to full strength blend is covered with a toothy wrapper with excellent oils. Leaves behind a compact, dark gray ash.

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$ 5.75

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Robusto 5 50 Cameroon Ecuador Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

Gurkha Heritage

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C Covered with a slightly rustic looking, reddish brown wrapper, this medium strength blend has a core of wood, grass, and spice accompanied by notes of chocolate, leather, and a hint of earth. Consistently produces a solid, compact ash.

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$ 8.00

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Robusto 5 55 Ecuador Nicaragua USA, Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

Victor Calvo Fuerte

N I CA R AG UA A flavorful blend covered with a dark brown, toothy wrapper. This well-constructed robusto delivers a profile of earth, black coffee, pepper, and a touch of wood. Medium to full strength with a consistently good draw and burn.

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$ 7.50

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Smooth and flavorful with a balanced profile of cedar, tanned leather, and a touch of spice complemented by sweet, almond cream on the finish. This pressed cigar is wrapped in a dark, reddish brown wrapper. Medium plus strength.

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

F1 5 50 Ecuador Ecuador Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

N I CA R AG UA Comes out of the gate with a strong pepper and spice that settle to incorporate notes of charred oak, molasses, and mocha. Draws easily and leaves behind a somewhat flaky ash. Medium to full strength.


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ASYLUM CIGAR LOUNGE AT COMERICA PARK

Home of the Detroit Tigers Detroit, Mich

This luxurious Asylum Cigar Lounge, accessible from the Club Level along the first base side, is the perfect way to take in a Tigers game. There is a full selection of Asylum and CLE cigars being served up in a plush setting with flat screen TVs, leather couches, and a full bar.

DIAMOND CROWN LOUNGE AT AMALIE ARENA

Home of the Tampa Bay Lightning Tampa, Fla

The Diamond Crown Cigar Lounge, on the 5th level of the Chase Club, offers patrons panoramic views of the entire arena while they enjoy a Diamond Crown cigar near a full liquor bar, flat panel TVs, and a state of the art ventilation system. NOTE: You must have a Chase Club or Lexus Lounge ticket to access the cigar lounge.

CUESTA-REY CIGAR BAR AT TROPICANA FIELD

Home of the Tampa Bay Rays Saint Petersburg, Fla

Located upstairs from the popular Everglades Brewhouse, the Cuesta-Rey Cigar Bar gives cigar smokers a view of the game from center field. There’s a large selection of premium cigars from J.C. Newman as well as a full bar, lounge seating, and a large, flat screen TV.

DREW ESTATE LOUNGE AT BB&T CENTER

Home of the Florida Panthers Sunrise, Fla

The BB&T Center’s location just outside of Ft. Lauderdale is far from any of the world’s ice hockey meccas, but it’s home to the NHL’s Florida Panthers. In 2016 Drew Estate was invited to set up a branded outdoor cigar lounge on a terrace near the building’s entrance. The arena also got its own exclusive addition to the Liga Privada Único Serie, a 5½ x 46 called Year of the Rat (a reference to Panthers fans’ “rat trick” tradition).

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IN THEIR WORDS

JASON TAYLOR

RANDY GROSSMAN

ATHELETS ARE, IN DISPROPORTIONATE NUMBERS, LOVERS OF GREAT CIGARS. AND OVER THE YEARS, WE’VE HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK AND SMOKE WITH SOME OF THE BIGGEST NAMES IN SPORTS. WE PICKED OUT JUST A FEW OF THE MOST MEMORABLE QUOTES FROM OUR INTERVIEWS WITH THESE GUYS.

MIKE DITKA

Can you remember your first cigar? Where were you? Who were you with?

You coached as the anti-smoking sentiment in this country, and the world for that matter, ramped up and led to tighter restrictions. Were you ever asked to put out your cigar in the locker room or coach’s office? Well, I don’t smoke where there is no smoking; I smoke where I am allowed to smoke. If anybody told me to put it out where I was free to smoke, I would tell them they can go to hell. It’s like anything else in life. You make a big choice about smoking cigars. You make big choices about other things, but nobody says anything about those. I don’t want to get into what’s right and what’s wrong. I like cigars. I don’t smoke them where I offend people and I smoke them where I enjoy them.

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“(The people here) come from different walks of life, different nationalities, different backgrounds, and they all come together to enjoy a similar hobby in smoking. We’re not a big technical club where guys sit and talk about cigars in a technical way, you know? It’s a lot of TV watching, talking sports, talking business, talking politics—even though it drives me nuts when they do. It’s a lot more than just ‘cigar geeks,’”

My first cigar was in 1974. Forty years ago. I’d just turned 22 and cigars were a big deal with the owner of the Steelers, Art Rooney. We’d won the Super Bowl the first year. If you celebrate, you’ve got to have a cigar. That was my first. It was a Super Bowl cigar. And I have no idea what it was, but it tasted good (laughter). I’d had some adult beverages prior to that, so I would have enjoyed anything.

MIGUEL ÁNGEL JIMÉNEZ

People know you, in part, as a person who truly enjoys life, be it with cigars, wine, coffee, your cars, etc… This makes you a unique personality among professional athletes. Why is it that so few professional golfers live as well as you do? The most important thing is that everyone should live life the way they see fit. Everyone has their own set of habits and customs within them. I personally like to enjoy the pleasures of life and I don’t hide it, they make me who I am. I work hard and no one cares and I have vices and no one should care about those either. In this life, we will spend more time dead than we will alive, so live it up!


THE ORANGE GLOW OF VICTORY - BY KASSIDY HILL ONE NIGHT A YEAR, THE ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE AND THEIR FANS ANTICIPATE VICTORY WITH CIGARS AT THE READY. There’s a perpetual fog that hangs over Tuscaloosa well into the night, its nucleus Bryant-Denny Stadium and its sweet scent evidence of one thing: a win over Tennessee.

them onto the plane or bring them to the stadium,” explained McCarron.

“It’s a great week for us,” laughed owner Reagan Starner.

“I’d have an equipment guy take them for me and have them ready with the lighters and the cutters and everything that we needed for them and then after the game, everybody would come to my locker and we’d pass them out and start taking pictures.”

“We meet a lot of new people; it’s awesome for the city…it’s basically a chance for us to show what we do here. So you know it’s good for us, it’s good for our industry because it’s a chance for people to see what cigars are really about and not just what they hear.”

Being a veteran means more than just providing the equipment, though; it also means providing a bit of direction.

Starner explains that the Alabama-Tennessee tradition is one of the best examples the cigar industry has of what the product should represent in society. “It really underscores the message that we preach to Congress and the FDA about how cigars are celebratory, non-addictive, relaxing things that are occasional and this really underscores the celebratory nature of them because it’s one time a year that people are smoking it… It’s the one time of year where people smoke cigars in Tuscaloosa who never smoke cigars.”

When it comes to college football, Alabama only truly celebrates victories that are played in the postseason and rewarded with trophies. A simple win isn’t enough; they require perfection. But, for nearly 60 years now, the Alabama Crimson Tide — and, at times, the Tennessee Volunteers — have set aside coach talk about every game being the same and treated “The Third Saturday in October” with the respect a long, bitter rivalry deserves; the winner is treated to the spoils of victory. For the past decade, that winner has been the Crimson Tide and they’ve become accustomed to their postgame celebration. In the 1960s, legendary head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and his head athletic trainer Jim Goostree began allowing their players to properly celebrate a win over the hated Volunteers (both Bryant and Goostree often and adamantly admitted to the Vols being the program they despised the most). Some games have trophies or boots or other strangely significant mementos, but the Tide coach and trainer felt the team should revel in their accomplishment with cigars, the souvenir most closely related to a celebratory nature. It wasn’t long before a tradition took hold and the animosity between the two teams was used as an extra spark to light up the postgame cigars. “I think if I had to choose one team that I just couldn’t stand a whole lot it was Tennessee,” said former Tide quarterback, and current Cincinnati Bengal, A.J. McCarron. For a long time it was the coaches and staff who provided the post-game cigars, but the NCAA deemed this an “extra benefit” so the responsibility fell to the players themselves (Alabama self-reports it each year after a win as a secondary violation). As quarterback and de facto leader of the team, it was McCarron’s job to “take care of” the cigars. “I bought them every year, so all three years that I started… I used to go the week of and just put them in my bag, in my duffel bag and just carry

PHOTO CREDIT: © John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Capitalizing on the excitement surrounding the week, Starner and his company tailor their inventory around the game every year, letting different brands take center stage each new season. One year it was Hammer + Sickle, while another year Bill Paley visited T-town for the game weekend to introduce fans to La Palina. Another year, Starner himself presented a brand that became a go-to in the locker room.

A.J. McCarron celebrates with a Project 805

As current Bama linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton told reporters before the 2016 Tennessee game, “Somebody had to show me. I didn’t really know how to do it. That was my first ever one. And honestly, that’s something I will remember for the rest of my life and hopefully I get to do it again.” When the games are in Knoxville, the merriment becomes even more enjoyable. “Being able to smoke there in their locker room and being able to go out on the field, Coach would always say ‘hey let’s try not to go out on the field’ but we would always go out on the field and take pictures of the scoreboard if they still had it up and everything so I think it’s definitely sweeter,” reminisced McCarron. But it’s back in Tuscaloosa that the ritual has truly flourished. R&R’s Cigars, the town’s lone cigar shop, has found a niche market among Tide fans since opening in 2012.

“If you look at the pictures [from 2015] Derrick Henry, he’s actually smoking my brand, the Casa de las Estrellas, which is a brand I do with Rocky Patel in my shop. So as for what they’ll do this year, it’s whatever they decide but in ’15 the Casa de las Estrellas was the cigar of choice after the game for at least the Heisman [trophy] winner.” If fans want to light up following a possible (read: probable) Alabama victory this year, they’ll have the best of the best in sporting cigars to choose from as R&R’s will be featuring a special edition reserved only for the biggest of events. La Flor Dominicana produces a football cigar each year — with a football image affixed to the wrapper in contrasting shades of tobacco —specifically for the Super Bowl, selling only in the state where the game will be played and for a limited time. The brand will extend that version to Tuscaloosa this fall because, as Starner explains, “this is a big cigar game for the cigar industry.” So if you’re in Tuscaloosa or Knoxville one football season and see a soft orange glow surrounding the stadium, don’t be alarmed; it’s just one of college football’s most time-honored traditions being celebrated. It’s a lasting memory for the fans who, for at least one night in October, live by the motto “smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.”

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Morante de la Puebla JOSÉ ANTONIO MORANTE CAMACHO (BETTER KNOWN AS “MORANTE DE LA PUEBLA”) IS CONSIDERED BY MANY AFICIONADOS TO BE THE MOST ARTISTIC BULLFIGHTER ALIVE. HIS SLOW, SMOOTH CAPOTE PASSES OF BULLS CLOSE TO HIS BODY BECKON GUTTURAL SHOUTS OF OLE! IN SOLD-OUT PLAZAS ACROSS SPAIN AND LATIN AMERICA. IN A RARE INTERVIEW, MORANTE REVEALED HIS POETIC AND PHILOSOPHICAL VIEWS ON THE ART OF TAUROMAQUIA, BOXING, HEMINGWAY AND MORE. TO THINK, TO REFLECT, TO RELAX — EVEN BETWEEN BULLS AT A FIGHT — MORANTE SMOKES CIGARS.

Maestro, can you tell me the story of your first cigar? My first cigar I smoked in the car of the manager I had when I was an amateur bullfighter. Not because I had it in my hand, but because he smoked and kept the car windows sealed to the top so that the car was like an incredible concert scene where all you see is smoke. That’s when I began to smoke cigars. Miguel Flores was a classic manager. He liked to smoke cigars and I liked the aesthetic, the aesthetic of a man smoking cigars. I was 16 when I began smoking cigars. After that, maybe at a celebration, and little by little, but I never smoked cigarettes and I still don’t because I exercise and because of the smoke in your lungs. Cigar smoke stays in your mouth and you release it. That’s how it went. I liked its flavor, I liked its aesthetic and soon after, I liked its company, initiating a dialogue and thoughts that in the end, in moments of solitude, it becomes your best friend.

What is your favorite cigar? I couldn’t say, I don’t know. What I like most are Cubans. They have a distinct character from the rest. Apart from that, I don’t distinguish much between them, just between a Cuban and one that isn’t a Cuban. The most important thing is that it is well-preserved. I have a cigar room with a humidifier, because if not, they will go bad. Beyond that, I like them to have a smaller ring gauge and be very long, but today to smoke a long cigar in the city is hard. On my ranch, yes. But in the city I prefer a shorter cigar that has a more intense flavor.

And during bullfights? I like to smoke before my second bull. It gives me an intimacy that awakens my soul.

You’re a boxing fan, in particular the fight between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali in Kinshasa. What fascinates you about that fight? I like boxing as self-realization. Even though you have an opponent in front of you, it’s very much like being in front of a bull. In bullfighting, in reality you’re in front of yourself. And it is you that has to resolve the problems that come your way. Boxing is also an art. Some boxers are more artistic than others, just like in bullfighting. Muhammad Ali is the most artistic that I’ve seen, and probably of all time. The combat was marvelous, Ali trying through strategy to dominate his opponent, and in the end he was able to finish him off and enhance the moment as Foreman was falling, and couldn’t take another punch, without breaking the aesthetic of the fall.

How do you distinguish yourself among other bullfighters, with a style of bullfighting in motion versus stillness? I like the art of movement. Stillness in bullfighting artistically bores me. I prefer Muhammad Ali to Tyson artistically. Bullfighting today is clearly inclined toward stillness, stoicism, but to me this has no artistic value. Bullfighting should be done with an intelligence that depends on the kind of bull you have before you. In stillness, the opponent doesn’t matter, and this disqualifies the intellect.

What is your raison détre? Bullfighting is a spiritual exercise, and it has always been my reason for existing, ever since I was born. And I’ve always dreamed of being a bullfighter and of bullfighting.

PHOTO BY: Francis Rosso (franciscorosso.com)

Without bullfighting, I’d probably be a vagabond.

You suspended your bullfighting once for medical treatments in the U.S. What struggle caused you to make that decision? It was very sad, truthfully. It was very sad because I had to suspend my bullfighting to try to find relief for my ailment. [Morante is known to be bipolar.] So we went to the United States, to Miami for electroshock treatments that they said were going to help my suffering. We didn’t have the success we were hoping for but with some force, and without being fully well, I could still bullfight. But, almost nobody is well: “The sorrow of many is a fool’s consolation.”

Is there a particular act of the bullfight that you enjoy most? No, no. Let me tell you a story: Someone asked me once, “How do you feel when you bullfight?” I said, “I suffer.” Because it is not a feeling of happiness. It’s a tragic feeling, but comforting. When one is far from a bull, he wants to be near. And when one is near, he wants to be far. (Laughs.) It’s crazy.

You have been criticized for only fighting bulls that charge in the plaza. Can you talk about this preference? Look, to make a work of art, or to be at ease in a place, you need to be given a good brush, a good canvas, good paints. This is if your work is artistic. I consider my work solely artistic. When there is no possibility of painting a good work, I don’t paint it. This creates a controversy with the public because the people want to see you try even though you cannot succeed. You can’t give the public everything they want, because if you do, they will leave you naked.

How have you helped to preserve bullfighting in the world? The best help is the work one does, to thrill the public, so that the public relates the experience. This emotion is what is transferred from father to son, and it is what I try to do. Bullfighting is a matter of senses. Bullfighting forms part of a tradition, a culture of our people, which is Spain, which lately has been threatened by globalization. If we want to defend the idea that animals not suffer, we could never eat meat. Somewhere in this, you have to mention Hemingway.

Of course! Many aficionados criticize Hemingway. They say he didn’t really know anything about bullfighting. Do you agree? Well, Hemingway saw the bullfight more as a philosophy, as an extraction of someone wagering their life and creating art. As an aficionado, he wasn’t brilliant but neither was he bad. He followed Antonio Ordóñez, the most artistic bullfighter of the time, the most valiant. That is, he attracted art, art through valor. It’s true that in Spain, as always, we are envious of the nature of Hemingway as larger than life. So, we always want to say he didn’t understand. But you don’t have to understand, you have to feel. To feel.

Abraham Mahshie (@AbrahamToros) is a Madrid-based writer who has covered everything from ex-guerillas in Latin America to bullfighting in Spain. Follow his culinary, cultural, and nature-inspired road trips aboard his 1982 VW Camper Van at DrivingDadsVDub.com.

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had the team made. It really soured my stomach, but I knew I didn’t want to hang my hat on someone else’s decisions in my life. So I started paying more attention to that. I’d started doing paintings and had moved to Shreveport, La. There were a lot of football players who lived there. I did (paintings) on spec and every one of them bought (my work). So I went to the teams. I started with the Chiefs. Guys would order and I would then go to a game on Sunday to shoot photographs. I do everything from photographs. That started in 1980, maybe. Since then I’ve been doing primarily originals for players, except for the time period when I was with Upper Deck. I totally lucked into that position and it was a big boost to my career. I was there about 5 or 7 years.

You’ve had a lot of clients. Who have some of your most memorable been? There’s hundreds. I had projects I did with Muhammad Ali and being with him was great. I’ve been doing this so long I could put together hall-of-fame teams from football and baseball with clients. It’s hard to say which pieces are my favorites because there have been thousands at this point and the same amount of work goes into all of them. Probably more than half the players on those Cowboys teams that won Super Bowls were clients. Once Jerry Jones was informed that he had made it to the Hall of Fame, Aikman and others commissioned me to do a painting of Jerry in his gold jacket before he actually had the jacket. The Texas Rangers just had me do something for Pudge Rodriguez when they were retiring his jersey which was recent. Elvis Andrus commissioned me to do something for Adrian Beltre when he got his 3,000th hit. Those were the most recent pieces. I’m jumping all around here. But those were the two pieces that would have been newsworthy lately.

How much of an interest did you have in art before this career started? I took a drawing class in 7th grade. The teacher told us, “Don’t expect to make a living at this unless you’re going to be an art teacher.” And it’s true. The numbers are not good. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone unless you have a guaranteed income some kind of way for doing art. My job with Upper Deck was the best job I ever had. I ended up doing a book that was published here in the Dallas area of the Dallas Cowboys back when they were winning Super Bowls. In my hometown Port Arthur, Texas, we did a book signing. The first person in line was that art teacher all those years later. She said, “You’re the only person who proved me wrong.”

Have you had any strange requests from athletes? There was one my wife wouldn’t let me do because they wanted to hang it over their bed and it didn’t require them having their clothes on. So she wouldn’t let me do that one.

Your son had a long career in the MLB. What was that like for the two of you?

WHEN HIS PRO FOOTBALL CAREER WAS CUT SHORT, VERNON WELLS TRANSITIONED TO AN UNEXPECTED LIFE AS THE MOST COMMISSIONED PAINTER IN SPORTS. YOU’VE ALMOST CERTAINLY SEEN HIS WORK WITH UPPER DECK IF YOU WERE COLLECTING BASEBALL CARDS IN THE ‘90S, AND HIS MAJOR LEAGUER SON, THREE-TIME MLB ALL STAR AND THREE-TIME GOLD GLOVE WINNER VERNON WELLS III, NEVER DID GET AWAY FROM QUESTIONS ABOUT HIS DAD’S WORK AS HE ROUNDED THE BASES. Tell me about your football days and how you ended up making your art. I played college ball at TCU and went to the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent after my senior year. I was the last receiver cut there. I went to TCU to finish my degree and was a graduate assistant and signed to play with the Calgary Stampeders in the CFL the next year. I separated my shoulder in my first game there. I was out for the season; it wasn’t career ending, but I decided not to go back the next year. I ended up playing in a semi-pro minor league in Shreveport, Louisiana, then got invited to camp with the Colts later when I was 30. By that time, I had already become an artist.

That’s a good question. A lot of people thought I was only able to have the contacts I had because he was a major league player. The truth is that when he was drafted by the Blue Jays out of high school in 1997, he was the fifth player drafted. They flew us there for a press conference after the draft. There were several of my clients on the team already. They were surprised when we got there and they said, “Hey V, we had heard the name but we didn’t know that was your kid.” Vernon made the comment that, “I’ve been in the big leagues for years and more guys know my dad than know me.” That part worked out pretty well.

Which athletes have you painted the most? From the time he was really little, I would use my son Vernon as a guinea pig all the time. In terms of guys who have commissioned me the most, Ken Griffey, Jr. comes to mind. They weren’t all of him, but they were family related too. Torii Hunter has quite a few. Jim Thome has a few, the most recent one being when he made the 600 club. I made a family portrait of him and another player he was doing a golf tournament with. Big Papi has three or four.

I got the idea of doing sports art because, at TCU, two of my teammates were art majors. One of them asked if he could do an action painting of me for a class project. So he did it and showed it to me. I said, “What did you make on this?” He said, “I got an A.” To myself I’m saying, “I can do way better than this already and I’m not even studying art.”

Most of my work is commissioned, but for the last 12 years I’ve been painting that year’s AL and NL MVPs together in one painting. The first year I did it, one of the two guys bought it. When the second one saw me he said, “If I’d seen it, I’d have bought it.” Twelve years later, each of the two MVPs has seen it and one of them has bought the painting. That’s been pretty cool.

The most boring part of playing in the NFL is meetings, especially if you’re a receiver. I would just be sketching for guys on the team. They would say, “Guys would buy that stuff from you.” When I was released, I thought I had the team made, the veterans thought I

VERNON WELLS’ ART IS AVAILABLE THROUGH BILOTTA GALLERY IN FT. LAUDERDALE (BILOTTAGALLERY.COM).

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The cigar world is on Twitter and we aim to keep track of who’s leading who. The following is a scoreboard of the cigar world’s most relevant Tweeples. The list is sorted by number of followers and broken into groups: Top 20 Twitter Cigar Companies & Reps, Top 10 Twitter Retailers, Top 10 Online Cigar Tweeps, Top 3 Twitter Cigar Organizations, and Top 2 Cigar Radio Twitter accounts. If you have the numbers and belong in one of these groups, stand up and be counted! Set us straight via Twitter @cigarsnobmag.

TOP CIGAR COMPANIES (sorted by Twitter followers) Rocky Patel @RockyPatelCigar......................................... Drew Estate Cigars @DrewEstateCigar............................. Padron Cigar @PADRONCIGAR......................................... CAO International @CAOCigars......................................... Alec Bradley Cigars @AlecBradley.................................... Jonathan Drew @JonathanDrew1..................................... Camacho Cigars @camachocigars................................... La Flor Dominicana @LFDCigars....................................... Pete Johnson @TatuajeCigars........................................... Ashton Cigars @ashtoncigar............................................. Xikar Inc @XIKARinc......................................................... La Gloria Cubana @lagloriacubana.................................... Miami Cigar Co @miamicigar............................................. Nick Perdomo @PerdomoCigars....................................... Punch Cigars @punchcigars............................................. Nat Sherman Intl. @Nat42nd............................................. Ernesto Padilla @PadillaCigars......................................... La Palina Cigars @La PalinaCigars.................................... AJ Fernandez Cigars @ajfcigars........................................ Ezra Zion Cigars @EzraZionCigars.....................................

28747 28105 23881 23377 21675 18418 17995 17580 16328 15748 13730 13451 13331 12767 12681 12653 11888 11700 11512 11068

TOP CIGAR ORGANIZATIONS CRA @cigarrights............................................................. 13801 IPCPR Staff @theIPCPR.................................................. 7389 Tobacconist University @tobacconistU............................. 4617

TOP CIGAR RADIO Cigar Dave Show @CigarDaveShow................................. 11463 KMA Talk Radio @KMATalkRadio...................................... 6608 Smooth Draws @SmoothDraws....................................... 4344

SOME OF OUR FAVORITE TWEETS, MENTIONS, AND RANDOM SOCIAL MEDIA GOODNESS.

TOP CIGAR RETAILERS & REPS Mulberry St. Cigars @MulberryStCigar............................. Cigar Hustler @cigarhustler.............................................. Famous Smoke Shop @FamousSmokeShop...................... Cigar Row @CigarRow..................................................... Jeff Borysiewicz – Corona Cigar Co @CoronaCigarCo....... Michael Herklots–Nat Sherman @MichaelHerklots............ Cigar Inn @CIGARINN....................................................... Cheap Humidors @cheaphumidors................................... Palm Desert Tobacco @palmdsrttobacco......................... Lindsay Siddiqi @TheCigarChick.......................................

14484 12690 11451 9139 7067 6982 6851 6173 5751 5566

@samiicanty via Instagram @cigarbutterfly@smokinfly_ron Great smoke from Cavalier Geneve! •Wrapper: Mexican San Andres •Binder: Brazilian Arapiraca •Filler: Honduran & Nicaraguan #cigars #lacasavegas #lasvegas #cigarsnob #cavaliergenève

TOP ONLINE CIGAR TWEEPLES David Voth–Sex, Cigars, & Booze @SexCigarsBooze......... The Smoking Hot Cigar Chick @CigarChick........................ Cigar News @CigaRSS .................................................... Cigar Events @CigarEvents............................................... Cigar Evaluations @CigarEvaluation................................. Stogie Boys @StogieBoys ............................................... Robusto Cigar Babe @RobustoBabe................................. Cigar Inspector @CigarInspector ..................................... The Stogie Guys @stogieguys........................................... Tom Ufer @cigarsmonkingman..........................................

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164240 14543 14398 14205 10165 10060 9220 8800 8614 6924

@agriesmeyer via Instagram I’m so happy to receive this gift from Villiger cigars. Thank you so much my friend @rjcastaneda2 and @villigercigar #zigarrenzeit #botl #cigaroftheday #stogielife #cigarlovers #sotl #puros #cigar #cigarsnobmag #sotl #zigarre


SEPT / OCT 2017 | CIGAR SNOB |

97


Yes, the Commissioner of the FDA has called this

“Stogie-Gate”

t was Tuesday morning, July 12, and most of the cigar industry was rising to begin Day 3 of the annual trade show of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) in Las Vegas. As most know, the industry has been working with a proverbial dark cloud over its head due to the uncertainty wrought by the threat of draconian federal regulations, unprecedented in the history of this artisan craft. But on July 12, Cigar Rights of America and IPCPR announced that the full U.S. House of Representatives, House Committee on Appropriations approved language that would essentially exempt a tightly defined class of premium/large cigars from FDA oversight. The expectation is that the full U.S. House of Representatives will adopt this language soon after returning from the summer recess. An uphill battle is expected in the U.S. Senate. But it was the course of events at the end of July that thickened the plot, and added a new dimension to this trilogy. On July 28, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, President Trump’s new Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, held a press conference announcing the agency’s ‘new’ approach to tobacco regulation. This strategy revolves around attacking the level of nicotine in traditional cigarettes. Im-

98 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2017

portantly for those passionate about premium cigars, however, was that there will be a three-year reprieve from onerous pre-market approvals processes, which assists all premium companies, large and small alike.

cigarettes, “rather than spending its energies seeking to expand its powers” [into the world of cigars.]

It does not, though, resolve the unknown and all too onerous questions of potential testing, applications for product approval, advertising and marketing restrictions, warning labels, and related issues. Those types of issues could be for the courts to sort out, if Congress does not act as they should. It would be refreshing if we could simply rely on ‘the record’ of expressed opinions of those in charge. For example, it was on August 16, 2012 that Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who at the time was a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote in the New York Post regarding the approach to the regulation of cigars, stating “Whatever the FDA does, the fight reveals a broader trend of expanding the scope of regulation to cover areas never envisioned by Congress.” We agree, (now) Commissioner Gottlieb, as have 289 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 26 members of the U.S. Senate, over the course of the last five years; their number includes over 70 who voted for the original Tobacco Control Act! Dr. Gottlieb, in his 2012 op-ed piece, noted that the FDA should be spending more time determining whether or not “alternative tobacco products” pose a lower health risk than

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D.

Dr. Gottlieb went on to actually use the term “Stogie-Gate.” He specifically was referencing the role of cigars in the Florida economy, and the jobs placed at risk by the proposed regulations, by stating “Many of these jobs would be in jeopardy if the FDA’s regulations went forward.” He went on to say, “But the president’s [Obama] regulators have already shown their cards. It’s a team that’s been too easily seduced by fashionable distractions, and will cause a lot of jobs to needlessly go up in smoke.” Well, Dr. Gottlieb, those regulators now work for you.


During the course of that July 28 press conference, he noted that there would be a new round of public comment and inquiry on issues surrounding the matter of premium cigars, including usage (what we would call “enjoyment”), public health issues, the question of what defines a premium cigar, and revisiting the proposed “option 2” path to exemption from these onerous regulations. We will, once again, need our cigar brethren to use their voices, and be a part of this process. It is the new reality, and a permanent part of our reality as cigar enthusiasts, that petitions, calls, public comment periods, emails, and town halls will be an ever-present part of our lives to defend the simple enjoyment of a cigar. There are about three and a half months of legislative time left this year in Washington, D.C., and there are many major issues on the table. Issues such as tax reform, revisiting health care, infrastructure spending, and debt ceilings, for example, will all influence the calendar. There will need to be a loud chorus of voices to protect that language in the House of Representatives, especially against a well-organized and entrenched coalition of anti-tobacco members of the U.S. Senate, who refuse to recognize the fundamental differences between products, and how they are regulated, and who will be content with nothing short of prohibition.

“MANY OF THESE JOBS WOULD BE IN JEOPARDY IF THE FDA’S REGULATIONS WENT FORWARD.” On that morning of July 28, Dr. Gottlieb noted that the approach to regulation should recognize the “continuum of risk,” which should mean that there is no “one size fits all” approach to regulating all tobacco products in the same manner. Our contention is that an all-natural product, which is nothing more than what the earth has produced through seeds, water, and molding by the hands of skilled artisans, should not be subjected to a threatening narrative within 499 pages of bureaucratic malaise. In the five years between Dr. Gottlieb’s New York Post article and his appointment and subsequent press conference on regulation, cigars have not changed, but the political landscape has. The era of agenda-driven big government should be ending, and the era of free markets without government intrusion into personal choices, should be beginning – again. Whether in the halls of the U.S. Capitol, on the other end of the street at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, or at the courthouse in between, the rest of 2017 may very well determine the path of our passion for great cigars. With your support, and that of your elected officials, innovation, the creation of new blends, events built around camaraderie, friendship and fellowship, or even those quiet moments alone with a cigar, will not be infringed upon by an unsympathetic bureaucracy. Stay tuned, Stay vigilant, and Stay involved. To read Dr. Scott Gottlieb’s full 2012 article, please see: http://nypost.com/2012/08/16/bams-cigar-trouble/

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99


EVENTS IPCPR WELCOME PARTY SPONSORED BY MACANUDO INSPIRADO Las Vegas

General Cigar was the sponsor of the welcome event at this year’s IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas. The event featured not only great drinks and food, but also a comprehensive cigar tasting area which offered guests the opportunity to examine and even sample each element of the Macanudo Inspirado blends. Cigar Snob was also a sponsor of the event. We brought the models and photo booth.

Kevin Levi, Carolee Martin and Rick Hopkins

Steve Abbot and Mat Binder

Jacob Filand and Blair, one of the event’s Cigar Snob models

Charlie López, Reina and Lázaro Almuiña

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Gaston Rappaccioli and Hannia López

Ron Melendi and Glynn Loope

Néstor Andrés Plasencia, Kelly Shea, Néstor Plasencia and Javi Carranza

Clay Roberts and Frank Herrera


Omar and Ivonne de Frías, Nilsa Pérez-Cruz, Ricardo Pérez and Shannon Strand de Mercado

Manuel Herrera and Juan Carlos Fondeur

Luz and Chris Normand and Mari Mena

Boris Grossman, John Fable, William Pink and Loren Camberato

Brian and Susan Telford, Craig Cunningham and Renee Palermo

Berta Bravo, Lanson and Ashia Siazon and Dan Miyahira

José Manuel Victoria, Nicolás Jiménez and Ivan Ocampo

Steve Browne and Alexander Ogilvie flanked by Cigar Snob models Britt and Veronica

Theodore Loebenberg and Charles Kaiser, Jr.

Carlos Padrón, Gustavo Plasencia, M.D. and Néstor Plasencia

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101


EVENTS AGIO’S HOSPITALITY SUITE AT IPCPR Las Vegas

Royal Agio, the makers of Balmoral cigars, hosted a group of cigar industry and cigar media guests at their hospitality suite during the IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas. Guests shared cigars, wine and stories late into the night, until eventually the night owls in the bunch made their way back out onto the Strip to enjoy cigars at a Las Vegas club.

George Margiouckla and Wiljid Van Maren

Angela O’Donnell and Michael Chiusano

Francisco Batista, Boris Wintermans and Erik Calviño

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SEPT / OCT 2017 | CIGAR SNOB |

103


EVENTS ROCKY MOUNTAIN CIGAR FESTIVAL Broomfield, Colo.

The Rocky Mountain Cigar Festival returned to the Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield. Each year, the festival brings together smokers and some of the people behind their favorite cigars to enjoy great smokes, beers, wines, spirits, food, and all manner of “finer things.” More than 1,500 smokers got in on the action and walked away with cigars, accessories, swag, and — of course — the memories. Oh, the memories!

Terry Gallagher, Sr. and Dee Benallo

Jeremy Weiner, Marcos and Christina Soto-Padrón

Brian and Dave Murphy, Mark “Iceman” Heilman, Charlie and Matthew Murphy

Nick Zaglifa, Jeff Nolen, Steve Peck, David Hartman and Tony Karroum

Jeff and Stephanie Crabtree and Danny Szarmach

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Randy Strauss, Neal Crabtree, Steve Bonner and Eric Gut

Keith Andersen and James Thomas

Juan López and Cristina Santana


Michael Cruz and Delicia “Cigar Vixen” Silva

Paul Bascom, Andy Siegrist, Sergio Montolfo and Barry Bennett

Daniel Barrios, Cara Bella and Juan Martinez

Heath Castleberry, Russ Morgan, Jono Campbell and Jaime Florez-Estrada

The DE crew

Sherri Seymour and Stephanie Swenson

Ed Cooper and Charles López

Pam Nolen and George Rami

Kevin Olsen, Micah Mcgarce and Jerry Ekberg

Jonathan Carney and Tony Gómez

Tony Henderson, Julius Johnson, Stephan Brown and Corey Richardson

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105


EVENTS 5TH ANNUAL BREW CITY CIGAR FESTIVAL Milwaukee

The Cream City’s premier cigar festival, this event has become a mainstay of the Midwest’s stogie culture. Attendees were treated to great food, cigars and — this being one of America’s brewing meccas — excellent beers. Admission included $175 worth of cigars along with other goodies. More than anything, it’s an opportunity for the region’s cigar lovers to meet up and get to know one another and get closer to the brands they love.

Paul Groh

Brittney, David Borst and Tatiana

German Womack, Brittney, Jeff Banning, Nathan Nickles, Tatiana and Augustine Danso

Jeff Pawelski

Terry Stovall and John Deegan

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Tim Rudd and Scott Benson

Brittney and Tatiana with Dan Luke

PHOTO CREDIT: Keisha Kochanowski


SEPT / OCT 2017 | CIGAR SNOB |

107


EVENTS AVO AT DOWNTOWN CIGAR BAR Fort Lauderdale

Davidoff’s celebrated AVO brand was at the center of this event, where guests paired the cigars with drinks provided by distributor Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. It was a packed house, with guests taking advantage of special deals on AVO cigars — like a free bottle of Scotch with the purchase of any 20 AVOs.

Carlos Escalona and Ozzie Gómez

Holly Zemaitis, Jessica Cox and Melissa Ruíz

Gene Grafenstein and Phil Redrum

Catherine Restrepo, José Suárez, Guillermo Brea and Ozzie Gómez

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Dana Metz and Carlos Escalona

Carlos Rebollo, Jess Patterson, George South and Ducarmel SaintLouis

Laura and Carlos Rebollo

Christian Gonzalez and Rhamen Love-Lane

José Suárez and Anthony Giordano

Harold Pryor, Raven Barrois and David Cannady


SEPT / OCT 2017 | CIGAR SNOB |

109


EVENTS KAREN BERGER AT CASA DE MONTECRISTO BY PRIME Miami

Karen Berger was on hand at Casa de Montecristo by Prime Cigar & Whiskey Bar in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood, where guests enjoyed not only her cigars — K by Karen Berger — but her food; Karen brought an incredible paella maker with her. Nothing like great company, great smokes, and great food. Ben Rosario, Karen Berger, Joel Capin and Ray Granja

Karen Berger and Joe Baz

Eloy and Menrry Estrada, Hector Kohn, Alfonso and Elsie Peralta

George Domínguez, Danny Benedit, Tony Guerra and Ricky Colón

Daniel Colón, Kennedy Achilles and Ray Granja

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Ilidio Dott, Cesar A. López and Joe Baz

Kelly and Skip Franzese

Brent Bardales, Khristopher Salado, Esq. and Tony Guerra


SEPT / OCT 2017 | CIGAR SNOB |

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Profile for Cigar Snob Magazine

Cigar Snob Magazine September October 2017  

In our first ever SPORTS ISSUE we interviewed future NFL hall of famer Ray Lewis, MLB's 500 home run club member Gary Sheffield, NHL Top 100...

Cigar Snob Magazine September October 2017  

In our first ever SPORTS ISSUE we interviewed future NFL hall of famer Ray Lewis, MLB's 500 home run club member Gary Sheffield, NHL Top 100...

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

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