Every guy gets those days when the wife is out of town with her mother for the weekend. You’d start thinking this is the perfect time to just let time pass by smoking a fantastic cigar that’s been in the humidor for seven months. Gran Habano Cigars has always been good at this point of gratification for men who like to enjoy full-flavored cigars. Their current releases reach out to guys who gravitate toward a bit of spice, a nutty finish, and a retro after taste. They have been giving out sampler blocks that have five sizes of cigars, and opening the box would be similar to looking at a jig saw puzzle.
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Cigar Cafe Radio Wakesurfing |Rocco Mediate |Gran Habano Cigars
I’m Lane and I’m hanging out here at Cigars & More with Harris. What’s up?
I’m hanging out in the cigar lounge at the store and looking forward to some nice weather. Holiday weekend is coming up.
We got Memorial Day. I’m doing my thing and heading to the coast for free, so it’s the best beach trip. I’m going to go out to eat here. What’s the difference between going out to eat here and going out to eat there?
I’m headed to the lake with the family. Hopefully, no one gets sick and we all make it there with all three kids.
Which lake is that?
Logan Martin, about 45 minutes away.
Do you have a boat? How come we never talk about that?
We have a pontoon boat, like a white board boat. We got into surfing lately. That’s the big thing now, setting these boats up to surf behind. You’re ten feet behind the boat and that creates a wave.
Do you own a hydrofoil?
No, I wish I did.
I want one of those really bad.
Those are incredible. They’re so expensive. They’re like $1,000.
It’s like somebody said, “We’re going to invent something just to have bad ideas with.”
The videos on YouTube are amazing.
Water skiing is the only skiing I’ve ever done. It’s probably hysterical to think of me being towed behind a boat. I got to go out on a hydrofoil once. It’s great because you can shove it down and get it to where that top board is even with the water. When you let go, it shoots you up into the air.
The videos I have watched would be pro guys doing flips. It looks crazy because you’re sitting in a chair with a hydrofoil attached to the bottom.
I don’t have nearly the core strength to do the back flips and make all the good or bad decisions, but just getting shot up in the air and landing it or not landing it because you’re being towed at 25, 30 miles an hour is a lot of fun, even if you don’t land it.
There’s Rocco. They’re showing him on Golf Channel.
I did not get to be his standard bearer. I ended up with Jay Haas, but that was a fun day, being out of the office and everything. It was cool having Rocco in the shop.
It was fine. It seems like he loves hanging out with people smoking cigars and he was having a great time.
It was fun. I was trying to sneak out there towards the end of this event. He was giving a ten-year-old kid an impromptu golf lesson. That’s cool. He doesn’t have to do that.
It’s good to see professional athletes doing stuff they don’t have to.
Toss some of the jersey on the Coke commercial.
It was a good time. I didn’t make it out to the Regions Classic or Regions Tradition.
It’s Regions Tradition. I only made it out for the one day that I volunteered. The Greystone Course looked great and Jay Haas pulled me and the walking score who worked with him all day to the side and gave us autographed golf balls. That sent us home feeling like we’ve done something important for the day. It’s nice. It was a unique experience. I go to church with a church that organizes the standard bearers every year. If I wanted to be a standard bearer or walking score, all I have to do is ask and they’ll put me in every year.
I wonder how they got hooked up with that.
I have no idea, but it’s cool because you get to be inside the ropes. I don’t remember if we talked about this or not, but it was 9:30 AM and I realized, “I can have a Bloody Mary, and it’s free.” Being inside the ropes and everything, we have access to all the food and drinks for free that the professional golfers have access to because it’s part of the tournament. Every three or four holes, they got a little table set up with sandwiches and chips. I drank Powerade and water, not because I have a problem drinking it, but just because nobody else in my group was drinking and I didn’t want to be that guy. What are you smoking?
I’m on cigar number two. I just finished a meeting with the guys from Gran Habano who were in town. The first cigar I smoked was the Gran HabanoCorojo#5Maduro in a Toro size. It was nice, medium body, spicy at the beginning, overall a nice cigar. I’m firing up the Gran Habano Gran Reserva #5 2011.
We’re doing the Gran Habano# 5 Trifecta then because I have a 6 x 54 of the Corojo. I tend to gravitate towards spicier, fuller-flavored cigars. I was very impressed to starting out with this. There was an immediate and very strong pepper spice that left a tingle on my lips. That just doesn’t happen, but it’s got a veiny wrapper somewhere between a matte and oily finish. It’s not super oily, it’s definitely not dry, but it’s a good looking cigar. It has a nutty finish on it on the after taste and the retro hale, lots of spice and natural tobacco. It is a welcome change. I haven’t smoked a Gran Habano in awhile. What were they doing in town?
They have a new rep and he was in town with John Gonzales, the national sales manager with Gran Habano. Douglas Pole is the new rep for the south. I haven’t smoked them in a while either. They are in town introducing a few new blends to us and getting ready for the IPCPR, telling us a little bit about what’s coming out and what they’re working on. They did have some interesting sampler blocks. It was five sizes of the Gran Habano# 5, three of which you could only get in this box. It was rectangular and some cigars in there are vertical, some are horizontal, like a puzzle. You have a jigsaw in there and it’s pretty unique. I haven’t seen anything like that lately, but it does take up a lot of shelf space and a few smaller ring gauge. I feel like Gran Habano is a little more well-known for bigger ring gauge cigars, at least with us in our stores.
This is 6×54. It’s probably a double Toro or something like that.
Mine is 6×60, at least a 60.
That’s a good-sized cigar right there.
A good change of pace for me. I normally gravitate to the smaller ring gauge cigars.
I smoked a smaller cigar. I had a Davidoff and it was their Puro D’Oro Magnificos. That was a fantastic cigar. I imagine it’s probably been in the humidor for six or seven months at this point and it’s one of those that I got in there and I forgot about it, but it was smoking great. I enjoyed that cigar. It was the only one I’d smoked then. It was Friday night and my wife had gone out of town with her mother and I thought, “I’m just going to go out on the back porch and smoke Davidoff.” It’s the only one I’ve got that day and it was fantastic.
It’s interesting how all the sudden that blend from Davidoff is getting a lot of attention. They announced they’re discontinuing the Puro D’Oro line. It seems like they’re smoking great. Part of that may be what they have does have a lot of age on it. It’s been sitting with them or at stores, but that line never got the traction of some of the other blends. I don’t know if they just forgot about it or what.
I’ve definitely enjoyed it. I’m pretty sure I got it at the Oscuro Nights event so that gives you an idea of when it was. I enjoyed it more than the Oscuro. It’s probably as good as the Davidoff Nicaragua. It was a great-balanced cigar, a little more full-bodied than Davidoff tends to be.
Before they released the Nicaragua and some of those blends, it was probably the most full-bodied blend of anything Davidoff had at the time.
If you find one in your local store, send them to me or smoke them.
We were sad to see those go. They make a 60 ring gauge, the Gigante. That was one of our best-selling cigars. We have a mountain of those.
Mine was like a 4.5×50 Rothschild or Robusto size.
Those are the sizes I like a little bit more. They are also discontinuing the No.1, Davidoff No.1 Wood Tube, which is the biggest linked cigar they had. It’s a huge cigar. I smoked one and it took me almost three hours to smoke it. They’re expensive, too. They are $40. What Davidoff was trying to do is eliminate some of those higher prices. They have a few sizes that prices were getting pretty high on, and they seem to be lowering that.
Bringing it back to where it’s only a couple dollars more to smoke Davidoff than to smoke everything else.
They want to be under $20 retail price. If you look at all the Oscuro and Nicaragua and all the new things they are releasing, the little bitty sizes are $10, $11. The biggest size is $18, $19, which seems to be working for them. They’re selling tons of cigars.
When I first started smoking, Davidoff was the premium brand at the time and we would get $5 and $6 cigars and it would be, “I wish I could smoke Davidoffs.” With the general increase in prices across the board, the jump is much smaller than it used to be to go to their sticks. There are so many expensive cigars now that there may be a few dollars $2, $3 more you can get it, so it’s not a big jump anymore.
I smoked the new CLE Prieto.
CLE has got to stop releasing cigars that we can’t pronounce. I assume that’s right, but if it’s not, who knows. It’s Azabache. Jason Robinett won’t tell us how to pronounce.
I don’t know how to pronounce this one either. It’s Chele. The Prieto is a small box press cigar. It’s probably one of the smaller ring gauge box press cigars we have now.
Is that a regular release or this is one of their shop-specific releases?
I’m starting to get a little confused at this point because they have released a lot of new things, but as far as I know, all three that we just mentioned are TAA pre-releases. Basically for a year they’re only available to TAA stores across the country and there are probably roughly 250 TAA stores.
One of the guys that we hang out with on Twitter, Nathan Hale, was smoking them at Spring Street Cigars over in Mississippi. Jason was there visiting and they released a cigar there. It may have been one of those three, but it was a TAA exclusive.
As far as I know, they were the first ones to do that. A couple of other manufacturers are doing that now. The Nyctophilia from Asylum that they released is now available everywhere, but they’ll give a year for them to test it out too, if is this going to get traction or not. If it does, they are going to release it to the world and if it doesn’t, they may just let it go.
CLE seems to be firing on all cylinders right now since the CLE Signature, the three that we talked about. The First 20 Years, they’re really putting out some great sticks. There’s a little bit for everybody depending on which line you go with. Not all of them are nearly as full-bodied as I tend to go towards, but they’re putting out great sticks and there’s hopefully something for everybody that’s coming out of these newer lines with them.
Usually we get annoyed with companies that seem to release as many new things as they are, but all of the ones they are releasing are good blends. They all seem to be doing well, but they have a lot of cigars now between CLE and Asylum.
They have stellar cigars that have come out.
They are cranking out the cigars, but I did hear that they’re no longer going to be selling the Aladinos cigars, which I liked. What they told me is that Christian’s brother is starting a cigar company called JRE Cigars, similar to CLE Cigars, and they’re going to sell the Aladinos. It is 100% on his own. What was explained to me is that Christian’s father has been after Christian’s brothers to be in the cigar business for years and work with him. His father’s in his 80s now, so he decided to jump in and start in the family business. It will be interesting to see what they do. The cigars will be produced at Christian’s father Julio Eiroa’s factory in Honduras.
I smoke a lot of the Nat Sherman Timeless Nicaraguan and out of the first ten I smoked, eight of them had some funny burn lines on them and everything. I picked up a box of them and I’ve got them in my humidor at home now and the last four or five have been fine, but it didn’t seem to matter where I got them. If I got them at a local store or when I was traveling or whatever, they always seem to have a little bit of a funny burn line and just a touch up light here and there. That’s what you carry a lighter for because it’s a good cigar and it’s not like you’re going to stop smoking it.
Some people get so picky about that, but I don’t have a problem with it. You can touch it up here and there. It didn’t bother me.
My wife was out of town and other than that Davidoff I smoked, I had a good smoking weekend. I had a Davidoff. I started out the next day with another Edgar Hoill OG One Shot, One Kill, it started out smooth and easy. Have you smoked that Upmann Yarguera? That was a good medium-bodied, same deal, middle of the day. I smoked it at 2:00 or 3:00 PM. It was a hefty cigar. It was a pretty thick ring gauge, probably a six by 54, maybe a little bigger, maybe a little smaller than that. That was a great medium-bodied stick. I had what I believe, and this one had some serious age on it, a 2013 Rocky Patel 226, his birthday cigar. It wasn’t super full body Rocky Patel that’s going to knock you over. It was not a superhero, but finishing the day where I’ve been smoking mild to medium-bodied cigars, it was a great stick to finish the day with. None of them had long finishes. I had to take four baths before my wife got home the next day or she was going to divorce me. It was a great weekend of sitting outside with the dogs and being quiet.
Are you going to smoke while you’re at the beach? Do you have any ones on the list?
I have no idea. I’ve got the three boxes sitting in my humidor that I’m still working through. I’ve got the OG One Shot, One Kill. I’ve got the Rocky Patel Sun grown Maduro and the Natural and Timeless Nicaraguan. One of each of those will probably go, and then everything else is up in the air. I’ve still got a few singles in my humidor right now, but mostly it’s the ones that I had one job.
Did you hear about the FDA? They had a webinar answering questions and they clarified a few things mainly on free samples and they talked about other things.
I was aware that it was going on. I saw Glen Loop and George Souza talking about it, but I didn’t get to join it because for the most part. I don’t work in the cigar industry during the week. I was the only guy in my department at the bank, so I had to work.
It seems to me what they were saying is that know the buy three, get one free and that sampling will be fine, that they aren’t after that.
A rep comes into your store, he can give you a sample, but he can’t pass a free cigar on to an end customer.
When reps come around in the store, sometimes if there are people around they hand out a few. That type of thing they would not be able to do, but anything based around a purchase, they seem okay with our ticket price or something like that where you’re paying something for the cigars. I had a friend at Auburn that somehow got hooked up with US Tobacco who makes Skoal. He was their campus rep and it was the craziest thing. They would ship cases and cases of Skoal to his house in Auburn. This is a house that five guys live in that looks like it’s going to fall down, the typical college house. He would go out to bars or local events and all he did was hand it out, just give it.
I remember when we go tailgating, there would be a tent and it would not just be Skoal, but usually Camel Cigarettes or something like that. You go in, you fill out your thing, you say, “Yes, I’m eighteen,” or “Yes, I’m nineteen,” whatever that age in your state is, and they hand you two free packs of whatever cigarette it is they are marketing to the general population. What they’re trying to do is they’re trying to keep free cigars out of kids’ hands basically. The age for smoking tobacco in Alabama is nineteen, but if an eighteen-year-old ever walked in here and wanted a cigar, your staff would card that person. A rep who doesn’t work here is probably less likely to do that.
They might hand the person the cigar. I don’t think with cigars that there are many events where they were going out and doing that type of thing. They’re applying the same rule to premium cigars as cigarettes and everybody else. It’s one of the things I don’t think impacts anything, which is good news. It seems like they’re not being incredibly hard core.
We keep talking about the astronomical costs that are going to be passed on to the cigar makers for seeking brand approval. If they would bring that number down to a more reasonable figure, especially we’re talking about boutique brands where $100,000 is a significant chunk of their annual revenue at that point. A lot of those guys are doing under $1 million a year. Taxes are typically based on their percentage of something, and I don’t think any of these cigar makers are saying, “I’m not willing to pay my taxes.” What they’re trying to say is, “I don’t want to pay everybody else’s taxes.”
I’ve been reading up on a lot of this. A lot of the cost is around putting the application together. It’s not going straight to the FDA and that seems to be where a lot of people and manufacturers are confused about, that all these costs come from what the FDA estimates it will cost the companies to apply. They have to do so much testing and studies and all these things, and it’s thousands of hours they had to pay someone for. Soon the FDA will get their money from user fees. What I read was $0.05 to $0.10 per cigar, and that goes into effect pretty soon. I can’t remember exactly when. You’ll see an increase for that right away. Every cigar is probably going up $0.50, $0.40 on average.
Realistically, how many of us are going to notice a$0.10 increase in a $12 cigar?
I don’t think that’ll be a problem. What the problem might be is the cost will get passed on. Depending on what the actual cost to do an application is, I wouldn’t be surprised of costs at retail went up a couple of dollars. Every cigar across the board went up $1 to $2. When the SCHIP stuff came through, everything went up $1 overnight.
We have certainly seen prices increase over time anyway. I’m starting to hear what you said a while ago, how ultimately the cigar industry is going to survive this, but it’s going to look a lot different.
You may have some boutique guys that will just say, “I’m going to sell what I have left and I’m getting out of the business.” Then you may have some that I’ve talked to that say, “We’re committed to it. We’re going to do the application process, and we’re going to try to get through it.”
We’ve smoked a lot of cigars on the show that are very likely to be heavily impacted by this.
All the ones you mentioned that you smoked would be impacted.
Robert Caldwell is cranking out with fantastic cigars right now. I saw somebody buying a Long Live The King when I went to go cut this cigar. He hasn’t been around since currently what the predicate date is. He’s going to get hit with this.
That’s where manufacturers have to decide, “Is a worth committing to spending the money to go through the process?” If you’re a small manufacturer, that’s tough. If you are Davidoff, they’re definitely going to do it, but they may not do it with every size. You’ll see companies trimming down sizes. If they have ten sizes, they may only apply for four or three.
Robert Caldwell, if you’re listening, we want for you to survive. We like your cigars.
It’d be interesting at the big trade show, IPCPR, coming up in Las Vegas. I’m interested to see what information comes out between now and then, what our manufacturers are feeling about it, or if they are going to try to rush a lot of blends to be released before August 8th because that’s a big cutoff date. If you’re released before August 8th, you have two years.
That’s a good question. Are we likely to see fewer releases at IPCPR this year because of that deadline?
Your release has to be on the market and shipped by August 8thto basically be in that window of time where you have to complete your application. Anything after August 8thhas to go through pre-market review. What I’ve heard is that probably after August 8th, you’ll see zero new releases because at that point essentially, they have to get them approved before they’re on the market. There’ll be a big rush to get things out before August 8th which is tough because most companies will announce releases now through the show and then start shipping in the fall before Christmas, that time of year. It takes a long time to get the boxes ready, get the work ready, and get all the bands produced. I don’t know that they can do it fast enough to get to that August 8th date.
The trade show, does that count as on the market? If they’ve got boxes up and ready to go?
I don’t know. A lot of that’s what they’re trying to clarify as fast as possible because every day that goes by that, that’s one less day that everyone has to know what’s going to happen. There’s definitely a lot of uncertainty that is never a good thing because a lot of these manufacturers are small guys that have other factories make their cigars so they have to commit. I’ve even heard a few guys worry about this, that they’ve already committed to 100,000 cigars to be made for their blend but it’s not going to be out in time. Technically, they’re still bound to buy those 100,000 cigars, so it’s a mess.
We’ve talked a little bit about some of the closed door meetings that have occurred within the industry and we’ve alluded to the potential and the likelihood of all of this regulation being tied up in litigation for very likely years. Is that likely to happen before August 8th?
I know that IPCPR, CRA, CIA, all the big industry associations have been in Washington DC having meetings, meeting with FDA, trying to get clarification. Alabama State Association had a meeting with the IPCPR about it, too, and they said litigation is definitely on the table and an option. At this point they’re still trying to gather all the information. So many things are vague that the goal would be to file a lawsuit and get an injunction while this is working its way out and you’re tied up for years instead of after August 8th. If it’s after August 8th, it’s definitely a problem.
What we’re looking to do is to get back to our podcast and talk about fun things instead of government regulation and what to do talking to your congressman.
Rocco’s back on the Golf Channel Live. He is a leader right now of the senior PGA Championship. That’s cool. Shot a 62 impressive. He did not do that at the Regions Tradition.
I’m supposed to play my first round of golf in like two and a half years.
That can be good. Sometimes I play better when I haven’t played.
If I shoot a 120, I’m going to be happy.
I played for the first time in probably six months. It’s so frustrating to have a good shot every once in awhile then the rest is just coming back to too far or too short and too in the sand.
I put out a post on Facebook that says, “I had fun at this golf event and everything and I would like to maybe get back into it on at least on the occasional basis.” We’ve got a Robert Trent Jones Course in Homewood here. “Is there anybody who wants to play a round of golf with me and maybe commit to playing on a fairly regular basis?” I got three people to say yes, so a foursome just happened upon me. Now I can go out on the internet and book a Tee Time. They’ve got a par three course so it’s a short course. It is basically all the shots that I would normally make bad decisions on. Playing a par three is all about blaming the green, and I’m bad at it. Hopefully, it will let me work on and correct the parts of my game that need the most work because I could smash a golf ball. I’m a big dude. I can put a golf ball down range and land it in the fairway 85% of the time, that’s not a problem. I can putt, I can chip, but if you stick me on that three iron to six iron, 160 to 200-yard iron shot, I make bad decisions. I should not take those shots because on a perfect day with no wind, I can do this with five iron. That means I’ll leave it twenty yards short in a bunker or in the water or something because it’s never a perfect day. I want to make that perfect shot maybe twice around and when I do, everything’s great, but when I don’t, it’s a bad day.
My favorite golf is playing in these scramble fundraiser things because I feel I’m going to have a few good shots. I always end up with some guys that are pretty good so I’m like, “You just hit one. If it doesn’t work out, onto the next one.” I get a good one every once in awhile.
I got addicted to unlimited scramble a few years ago, and me and my group won third place. I don’t even remember what prizes we got. It was probably a polo shirt and a baseball cap, but we got something. After the first couple of holes, they got to where they said, “When we get to the green, Lane’s going to putt first,” because I am a better than average putter. If I don’t sync it, I’m going to show the other three guys exactly what the line I’ll be. “We’re going to putt once or somebody’s going to get this.”
I’m not a good putter. I make a few, but on this last round, I made it onto the green. I was at the edge, the furthest possible you could be from the pen. It was one of those ones where it’s like 60 feet. It was just so far. The guys there are definitely better than I was. At this point, we’re messing around. I don’t think we’re keeping score. I’m hitting as hard as I can. I hammered hard as I could and drained it. That will never happen again, my entire line broke three times, it was ridiculous. Stuff like that makes me want to get back into playing a little more. You have to play consistently to have any chance at being decent.
The group that we have put together is a motley crew. You got me, the cigar-smoking fat IT guy, you’ve got an estate lawyer who plays Dungeons and Dragons and video games, we’ve got a conservative evangelical IT manager for a medical company here in town, and then we have an ex-military Leonardo di Caprio-looking lesbian. I could not make up this foursome if I tried and it all fell into my lap. I was like, “This is going to be hysterical.” I have no doubts that everybody’s going to get along, but no one is ever going to put the four of us in the same place at the same time. I told them, “If in the process of playing golf, anyone decides they want to get into cigars, we can move that out. I don’t think the rules about free samples apply to me.”
Golf is one of the sports I want to be good at.
I feel like it’s a sport I ought to be good at because it’s the only sport that I know of that encourages drinking and driving.
At the TAA every year they have golf tournament and there’s always some epic golf cart crashes. There have been guys that have crashed in ponds, swimming pools, houses.
I crashed onto a tree once. I wasn’t even drinking. It was the first hole and I pulled off to the side and I took the e-brake off and the golf cart and noses forward into the tree that I was parked next to and stopped running. We had to call back to the clubhouse, so they had to bring us another car and towed the other golf cart away and I felt like a complete jerk.
What do they do to you if you destroyed a golf cart? Are you liable for that? Are they going to try and charge you if you dove it into a lake? I bet if you do it on purpose, they try to.
It’s not like you can get them up to 40 miles an hour anyway. Up in Oxmoor if you’re playing the Ridge course, there’s a couple holes where you’ve got to go down some steep inclines with switchbacks and stuff like that. There’s a hole over a ravine, and it’ll gear down and won’t go any faster. You lean forward trying not to fall out of it.
They’ve tried to make it as user-friendly as possible if you’ve never driven one.
I’ve had a good time. This Gran Habano has been great. It’s about done and there have been some interesting flavor notes in the middle of the cigar. It’s developed an easy sweetness. It’s finishing better than it started.
Mine is nice, the Grand Reserve No.5. It’s been very medium and it’s a dark cigar. It’s very medium smooth. I normally don’t smoke large ring gauge cigars, but I also smoke the new Padron 1926 No. 48 TA and I enjoyed that one too. Sometimes the bigger ring gauges water things down, but sometimes it’s a good thing. It mellows things out.
Speaking of the TA 48, who is taking these pictures that you’re posting on @Cigar411 and Instagram lately? Those are great pictures.
They were taken with my iPhone6 Plus. I bet you can’t guess what the background is for them. I figured nobody’s going to figure out what the background of this is. This may be how I start taking pictures because I liked the way it turns out. It is the cover of my MacBook Air. I had to fill in for one of our guys, sitting there smoking the CLE Prieto. I smoked Schrader and I just set it on the gray metal case. I was like, “This looks interesting,” and just started taking them there. It’s a great background.
It’s a little bit reflective. You can use your flash and get it to white out.
I was happy with the way it turned out.
We’ll see you next time, Lane.
I’ll see you later.
- Gran Habano
- Puro D’Oro Magnificos
- Puro D’Oro line
- Davidoff Nicaragua
- No.1, Davidoff No.1 Wood Tube
- CLE Prieto
- The Nyctophilia
- JRE Cigars
- CLE Cigars
- Nat Sherman Timeless Nicaraguan
- Edgar Hoill OG One Shot, One Kill
- Upmann Yarguera
- 2013 Rocky Patel 226
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- US Tobacco
- The First 20 Years