AFGL: Eddie, Traviata and Super Bowl

February 3, 2012 · Posted in AFGL, Cigar Industry, Sports · Comment 

A Few Good Links for this week will cover Eddie Ortega’s new venture, a new edition to the La Traviata line and something about a football game.

1. Eddie Ortega has left EOBrands to start the eponymous Ortega Cigar company. Eddie isn’t going for the limited edition nor the mass market crowd. Instead, he’s going after the happy medium in between the two saying that he wants somewhere around 300 accounts with retailers. He hopes that this will be a mutually beneficial relationship and that quality will remain high. I’m sure I speak for most cigar smokers by saying “I hope so too.”

And why would anybody think otherwise? EOBrands produces the 601 brand of cigars as well as Cubao, which are both highly thought of by many cigar smokers; Eddie’s cigars should be as good. Here’s a little peak into what he’s up to:

All the brands comprise a rich and complex blend of tobaccos grown in South and Central America with Nicaraguan tobaccos from Esteli and Jalapa giving it the prevalent flavors topped off with an excusite (sic) choice of Mexican Maduro; Ecuador Habano; Connecticut Broadleaf or Connecticut Natural.

2. There’s a new La Traviata on the way and it is the La Traviata Luminoso Maduro. This cigar weighs in at 4.5″ x 50 with a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper and should go for slightly more than $5.00 a stick. Personally, I liked the Ecuadorian wrapped La Traviata better than the maduro but maybe this one will change my mind.

3. The Super Bowl is this Sunday barring any Tom Clancy-esque hijinks by nuclear physicist Islamofascists. I don’t have a dog in this fight (is that okay to use that analogy when talking about football nowadays?) and never do when it comes to football. Still, it is an event that cannot be passed up.

What cigar(s) are you going to smoke during the game?

Punch Cigar Rights of America Cigar Review

This one has been in the humidor a while; just sitting on its tray minding its own business… until now! Being part of a CRA sampler I got a long time ago it’s slightly oily, wonderfully constructed, maybe too tightly packed but it does look like a great cigar. Plus, it is a Punch, so I’m sure it will be, at the minimum, a solid cigar. This is in a toro size.

Spartacus Flame!

Definitely more than a “solid” cigar, this one is. Forthright spice, fleeting cherry and a few woody notes make up the flavors in the beginning of this cigar. I’m going to go ahead a peg it as a full bodied cigar, but just barely.

There is this smoky flavor that creeps its way into every nook and cranny of my taste buds. It is a nice extra dimension of flavor; it complements the other flavors well.

While the flavors are above average what I like the most about this cigar is that there is an edge to it. I like it when a cigar has a little edge to it.

In the beginning it was a full bodied cigar but after the first inch it dialed the strength down to the medium-full bodied range. After the halfway point I noticed a certain amount of earthiness creep its way through. This cigar has a good draw and a good burn.

As is the case with all the other cigars from the Cigar Rights of America sampler I will abstain from giving it a score. It suffices to say that this was a great cigar and well worth the price that I paid for it. If you haven’t already done so I would like to urge you to join CRA and help them stem the tide against those anti-smoking zealots that are becoming ever more brazen.

AFGL: OSOK, Fielder & Maryland Sucks

January 27, 2012 · Posted in AFGL, Assault on Cigars, Cigar Industry, Sports · Comment 

A Few Good Links today will cover the new cigar from Room 101, why I am happy Prince Fielder is a Tiger and why Maryland sucks.

1. Jewelry craftsman and cigar maker Matt Booth has teamed up with his photographer to come out with a new blend of cigars called OSOK, One Shot One Kill. Now, if you are thinking that name is provocative let me just fill you in on the meaning: by “shot” they mean “photograph” and by “kill” they mean “killer photo.” The photographer, whose name is Edgar Hoill, is nicknamed OSOK and that’s where that comes from. If the cigar is as good as its marketing it should be great.

I like the name and it’s more understandable than one of Booth’s other cigar creations – Namakubi, which has something to do with severed heads and Samurai. I don’t have any definite plans on reviewing either of these cigars but I wouldn’t rule it out.

2. Prince Fielder did not sign with the Rangers (woohoo) but has decided to sign on as part of the one-two punch that is Prince-Cabrera. I guess if you wanted to strangle a joke out of this you could say that Prince, Cabrera and Verlander are now “Detroit’s New Big Three.” (Note to Tigers’ marketing team: I came up with the slogan so you owe me royalties if you decide to use it.)

The reason why I like this is because it puts Prince in the AL Central. The Tigers should be strong enough to manhandle their division counterparts and suppress wins enough so that none of the teams from the Central will seriously compete for the Wild Card. If baseball goes to a two Wild Card format for 2012 that means there will be five teams (Angels, Rangers, Yankees, Red Sox and Rays) battling for four playoff spots (AL West and East champs and the two Wild Card spots).

Anything can happen over 162 games but that really isn’t true. I just can’t envision a world where the Orioles or the Mariners figure out how to win enough ballgames to make it to the playoffs.

3. I’ve driven through Maryland before, it looked nice. But now I’m going to have to say that Maryland sucks because it has decided to increase cigar taxes. The size of the tax increase is a sideshow to the rationale:

“I imagine everyone’s here because of the public health side of the story,” Maryland’s Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown said. “It’s also a revenue generating story but that wouldn’t be why you’re here, but rather to focus on the benefits to health of what we’re proposing.”

Saying that the reason they are raising taxes on cigars is for health reasons is as laughable as a guy saying he has a subscription to Playboy so that he can read the articles. States who tax tobacco use want the extra revenue and the politicians who support these onerous taxes want the goodwill they engender amongst the busybody anti-smoking groups.

AFGL: Viaje, Snoop & Chuck

January 22, 2012 · Posted in AFGL, Cigar Industry, Entertainment · Comment 

A Few Good Links for this week includes a cigar company that’s transitioning into limited edition cigars only, a rapper (Or is he a hip hop artist? I’m too white to know for sure.) and the end of a favorite TV show of mine.

1. Viaje has announced that they’re only going to do limited editions of their cigars from this point on. From Cigar Aficionado: “Viaje recently announced that, from this point on, the company will only be producing small-batch production runs. Lines like the Oro and Platino that were previously regular-production brands will now be made in limited quantities only.” Honestly, I think this is a dangerous move for the company. If you don’t have regular production lines then you aren’t going to have regular customers.

Take Tatuaje as an example. They have a number of production lines that people like and smoke regularly, thus keeping the brand on their customers’ minds. With this entrenched customer base they have the ability to do a lot of limited edition cigars and, since there are already a good number of people smoking their production line cigars, there are more people who will take a chance on a limited edition cigar that costs more than twice as much as a decent premium cigar.

On the other hand, producing a handful of limited edition cigar brands is an exciting proposition. For starters, Viaje will have more control over the taste of their cigars. Instead of having to worry about producing a ton of cigars they can use what little leaf is available to make exactly what they want. Another plus about this approach is that the fact that every cigar is a “limited edition” may end up creating more demand than otherwise would be there just because of the customers’ perceived quality of these cigars. “Well, it’s a limited edition cigar so that means it’s rare and that must mean that it is better than this tawdry regular production cigar that I was going to smoke so I’m going to buy the Viaje,” or something like that line of reasoning may go on in a number of BOTL’s heads when buying their cigars.

Anyways, it’s an interesting gambit and I hope it works out for them.

2. Snoop Dogg (I remember when I was younger, probably over a decade ago, my local sports guy, Fred Roggin, tried to say Snoop’s name and it came out “Snoopy Dog Doggy.” Just a funny anecdote, that’s all.) has decided to take the cigar industry by storm! He’s created a cigar brand (read this if you want to waste a minute of your time) that will sell for about $0.50 a cigar… and he claims they’ll taste great. Sure.

Seriously, I just don’t get it. There have to be hordes of liquor companies, clothing companies, alternative lifestyle concerns and others clamoring to get him to affix his name onto their product; so why cheap cigars? Cheap flavored cigars at that. Well, I guess if Congress or the socialists in CA decide to ban flavored cigars the fact that Snoop will no longer be the new dogg in the cigar industry would be a slight silver lining.

3. Chuck, which I’ll admit isn’t an amazing show, is a show that I love to watch. It’s hokey and has some awfully dumb story lines but it also has this irresistible quality to it that isn’t hard to explain. Lots of action, a couple of pretty girls, bad guys that have to be defeated (and always are) and the geeky, down-on-his-luck lead character, Chuck, has blossomed into the hero with the girl of his dreams. I guess the main reason I like this show so much is because it is escapism at its nerdy best. I usually gravitate to shows that have a darkness about them (Dexter, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Nip/Tuck, Deadwood, Hell on Wheels and, holy crap, I watch too much television) but Chuck has carved out a position on my personal favorite TV show list of all time. I’ll miss it when it’s gone in a week.

AFGL: List of Lists, King, Fielder

January 13, 2012 · Posted in AFGL, Cigar Community, Cigar Industry, Entertainment, Sports · 2 Comments 

A Few Good Links this week is going to focus on a list of the lists of top cigars, some news about Stephen King’s Dark Tower series and an update on the (so far) sad tail of a slugging first baseman without a bag.

  • The Consensus: 2011 Awards via halfwheel: Ever wanted a Metacritic-esque survey of the cigar world? (Incidentally, I think that would be a good idea. It would need constant updating and there would have to be some kind of resolution as far as scoring goes, should certain sites be weighted more heavily, what about vitola… I digress.) Well, halfwheel has come out with a survey of what the cigar blogging world thought were their favorite cigars of 2011. I will only tell you that Undercrown was the consensus top pick according to them. If you want to see the rest of this amazing post (like top brand, factory, country and some trends) you’re going to have to click on through.
  • Stephen King wrote one of my favorite fantasy series of all time in The Dark Tower. In late April there will be a new addition to this series with The Wind Through the Keyhole, which will basically shed some light on the main character’s past. I think it’s kind of like Godfather 2 in that there are some elements that take place during the natural progression of the story and there are some prequel elements as well. This will be mostly prequel though. With the movie/tv-ification of this series in peril the new book is at least something to look forward to.
  • While Prince Fielder’s normal pace is slower than most his current pace is maddeningly slow. I’m guessing his agent, Scott Boras, is playing a game of chicken with all of his client’s potential suitors but there comes a time when you have to wonder whether or not this was a bad move. And then I see a little piece of news like this and I’m thinking the AL West is where the real arms race is.

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