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Cigar Cafe Radio Podcast Blackhawks | Insidious by Asylum | GTO Brand
I’m with my co-host, Harris Saunders. Also, one of my good friends has joined us. Greg, we’re glad to have you on the show. We’re glad to have Sean Kavanaugh. How’s it going?
I’m doing good. It’s good to see you, Lane.
Sean, are you a Blackhawks fan?
I am a huge Blackhawks fan. You never like to feel bad after a win, but Tampa Bay looks awfully good.
There was a minute there in the last series where some of my friends who live in Chicago were starting to sweat little bit. I don’t think they anticipated it going to seven games.
I felt this way about the Boston series two years ago. It felt like Boston was better and all of a sudden, they pulled out a win when they shouldn’t have They pulled out another one in seventeen seconds and when the series was over, I was like, “We just won the Stanley Cup.” It was the weirdest feeling in the world and this feels the same way. Tampa Bay’s better than Boston was. I’m hoping for the best. I’m a Blackhawks fan. It’s hard to even think that at 28.3 years old, is an average age per player, they’re old, but Tampa Bay’s young and fast.
I’ve lived with scholarship hockey players in college. What they always said is the difference between the guys that are playing at the collegiate level versus the guys that are making it to the next level and the pros moving up through the regional hockey leagues, making it to the NHL. It’s not so much that they’re better and faster, although there’s a case to be made that while they’re still young, they’re fast, it’s that they’re smarter. That was something that, living with 22-year-old and 23-year-old hockey players, they were quick to point out to us. It’s like, “We can go out and skate on the same ice as these guys. We can run the same drills as they can, but they’ll beat us every time because they placed market than we do.”
Do you think Andrew Shaw should be in that category?
He’s such a moron on the ice, such an agitator. That’s probably where he’s smart. He knows when to agitate to get under people’s skin.
I brought a friend with me into the shop. He’s decided that he wants to try a cigar. Harrison and I have paired him up with an Insidious. Greg is in his 30s. He and his wife have a young son. He’s also a classically trained chef. He graduated from culinary school several years ago. As far as new cigar smokers go, his palette is probably above average as compared to most of us when we get started. We thought initially that he wasn’t going to be on the show, but he sent me a message and said, “If you guys are going to talk about me, I might as well be there to defend myself.”
If we’re going to talk some shit about you, you might as well be there to talk some shit back. Welcome.
Thank you very much for having me. I thought about it and I was like, “It would be weird to have someone talk about you in the same room as you and that you will not respond.” I figured I would try it out. This is my first time on a podcast. It’s a new experience for me as well.
We’re glad to have you. Sean being offsite, we do a lot of this over voice over IP.
I have two questions. For Lane and for Harris, why did you pair up a newbie with a cigar called Insidious? Is the name misrepresenting the cigar? Is that a full body, full flavored cigar? Greg, what do you think of your first stick?
The name does misrepresent it a bit. Insidious from Asylum, they have rolled a bit of backdrop cigars, it tastes a little bit different. It’s one of the most popular cigars for us lately, especially for new people because it’s good, it’s mild, and has a hint of sweetness to it.
Greg, you’ve smoked pipes before. How does this compare to what you smoked out of a pipe?
As far as pipes go, I’ve been smoking the Dunhill Early Morning Pipe.
That’s heavy on Latakia tobacco. It’s a Middle Eastern tobacco that’s prevalent in a lot of English blends.
It’s good. It has an edge on it. I’ve noticed with a pipe, the edge is not as noticeable as it is with the cigar. That edge is much more noticeable on the cigar for some reason. You have that hit a lot sooner than you do with the pipe. That’s the main difference of this cigar.
Harris, the Black & Mild’s are spiked tobacco inside of a cigarillo. I would say that pipe tobacco is quite a bit smoother and consistent throughout the smoke. It’s like a character, each cigar has its own entity. You got to work at it. It’s like listening to Wilco. You listen to Wilco the first time and you’re like, “What is this?” As you listen to more, you get more character out of it. That’s how I feel about smoking cigars. My wife says the same thing. She goes, “You like the weirdest music,” but it’s challenging and so is cigar smoking but once you dig in, that’s the beauty of it.
Greg is part of the reason how I started smoking a pipe. He came over one day and I suggested, “Let’s go get a cigar,” and I’ve always wanted to learn to smoke a pipe. That’s $100 down the drain buying a pipe and all the toys. You hit the nail on the head with the consistency of a pipe. Even with the bulk blends and stuff like that, you get in your local tobacconist with a pipe, the tobacco leaf being chopped up, the blend is very consistent. With this long filler tobacco in cigars, the cigar makers have to be more deliberate with their blending techniques than the pipe tobacco makers do.
I have a question for both of you. What do you prefer? The Drew Estate by Java’s are consistent from the time you light them to the time you’re finished with them. Very smooth, very consistent. Usually the production value is very good. You get what you’re paying for when you buy it. With some of the premium cigar, I’m talking like Liga cigar, the Black Market, the Alec Bradley’s, those bigger lines and ultra-premium cigars, they have a lot of character to them. The Liga Privada T52 was sharp when I lit it up but mellowed out. I learned to love it while I was smoking it. Do you prefer something that is super consistent or do you prefer going, “This first third was really good, there’s that cinnamon, there’s that nut meg in the back there on the retrohale, there’s the spice hot?” What do you think of that?
I prefer cigars that develop as you smoke them. This Rocky has smoothed out since initially lighting it. It started out very spicy and full body and it’s smoothed out a lot. It’s still not going to be anything that I would call creamy, but it definitely leaves some of those more typical old body coco notes on your palate after you finished the draw. What about you Harris?
I prefer something more complex. One of the things that’s interesting when you start to get more into cigars and paying attention to how they change, some stay the same the whole time, but different types of tobacco they put in the cigar will change from the first-third, second-third, to the end.
It’s what makes the cigar unique. That’s how I felt and that’s why I like them. You start to think about it and that’s part of the getting-out-of-your-day type of thing that attracts me to cigar smoking. I start thinking about what it is there, what were they thinking when they blended it, why would something go super strong at the front then mellow out completely and go creamy in the middle. It’s like pairing within the cigar.
Greg, you mentioned some sweetness and stuff on the beginning of your Insidious. Is it developing as you smoke it? Do you taste anything on your palate after you exhale?
It still has that sweetness. It’s maybe not as pronounced as it was at first.
Being that this is your first premium, hand-rolled cigar. I don’t think any of us are expecting you to be able to identify necessarily everything that’s coming across in it, but that sweetness is on the wrapper. It’s going to stick with you. It is good that you can detect that there’s something else going on in the cigar.
I didn’t start to pull out, “The GTO, I tasted raisin in there at one point. It was weird.” You’re trying so hard to define it and sometimes it’s tough to do it.
With a pipe, you don’t have to think a whole lot about what’s going on. Once you smoke a few times from a pipe, you expect that same flavor to come out each time you smoke a bowl, but with a cigar, you have to think a lot more. It’s like, “What is that flavor coming? How can I tell what that hint at the very end? What is it that is making me want to come back and smoke it more?”
It’s like reading Charles Dickens or Ernest Hemingway. You read what’s on the page and it’s not necessarily what the meaning is, you have to dig a little deeper. That’s the beauty of the lifestyle. Harris, I want you to talk more about GTO.
Sean was talking about how he smokes the Barbara Cole from GTO. Oscar Rodriguez is the owner of GTO and he is the only Alabama-based cigar company owner. He had a small boutique brand called GTO Cigars. I asked him why he named it GTO and he said that was his favorite car from when he was young. He has two GTO sportscar. Oscar is a doctor on a military base about an hour south of Birmingham. His family is from the Dominican Republic. He goes to visit often, and he works with them to make cigars. He goes out in his spare time selling them all over Alabama. He’s expanded across the US and has stores almost in every state carrying his cigar. We were the second store that he had his cigars in the country. He was here every week promoting them. He’s one of the best guys at promoting his brand and engaging people to talk about what’s special about GTO. He only had seven different cigars, each one is a different shape and different blend. He has seven different blends, each has one size.
Harris, what are you smoking now?
I ran into the Gurkha cigar rep and asked him, “What I should smoke? What would be interesting for the show?” He gave me one of the Gurkha Ron Abuelo Rum-infused cigar. It’s a new release and it’s a good-looking cigar. When I picked it up, I expected it to have a strong rum taste to it, but it’s super mild. It has a hint of rum taste in it. It’s light. The rum mellowed the cigar out. It made it nice because of the extremely smooth taste to it. This is the first one I’ve tried.
I’ve got another Gurkha Cellar Reserve. It’s been aged fifteen years and I smoked them with a natural wrapper, a Perfecto Maduro wrapper. I got something that hits in a glass tubo, copper top and Cognac-infused. I went online to look at all their different lines and they look good. They’ve been around forever. They’re an old company.
They’re over twenty years old. They’ve been around for a while. Their owner, Kaizad Hansotia, started 25 years ago in the cigar business. They’re known for creative packaging and blends.
Their blends tend to have a lot of consistency to them, which some more experienced cigar smokers appreciate and some aren’t so much a fan of. You get a lot of love and hate for Gurkha amongst the cigar smokers. People either are big fans or they’re put off by them. They get a lot of that consistency that you were talking about, Sean.
You do hear that from people. They’re already one of our top brands at the store.
What would you put as your top five sellers? I don’t want to say top five cigars because I don’t think that the best sellers are necessarily the best cigars. What would you say were your top five best- sellers?
Perdomo sells well in Birmingham. There are a whole lot of people that smoke that here.
A friend of mine from Florida had his first Perdomo. He said it was outstanding and took a picture of it. He said, “You got to try it.” I’ve heard of them only because I’ve researched them from the site, but I don’t know much about them other than they are a premium brand.
They are a premium brand, but they are at a great price point. They have cigars that started out for under $5 and you can get a great Perdomo cigar for $10.
That’s one of the reasons they’re doing well. They’re making high-quality cigars at a great price. They’re a family-owned cigar company and been around over 20 years. It started out small, doing it out of their basement and they’re huge now. They’re in Nicaragua where there are five million plus people.
It was cool that you mentioned Davidoff and Arturo Fuente, the classic cigar makers. You had CLE and Asylum in there as being a top five seller, too. It sounds like not everybody’s buying a specific type of cigar. The customer base is split up into people who like different things, but they sell as well as each other.
Do you think that that’s drawn along age lines? My father is a cigar smoker from way back. He used to have his own cigar manufacturer in Chicago that rolled his cigars. He smokes Arturo Fuente 858 or Montesino. I’d given him a couple of cigars. He always goes back to his Arturo Fuentes. Do you find that in the store that the classics are bought by guys that are 55 and older?
That is more divided up about personality type. We got some younger guys that always want to buy the same thing. They’re very consistent and know what they like. They want to get it anchored out. Then you’ve got these other guys that like trying to variety, learning about it, and exploring. It’s more of a personality type than age because we have older guys that do that and we have younger guys.
I suppose that there’s got to be a psychologist out there that can dissect this.
I came in and I knew that I was going to smoke this Rocky Patel. I came in, looked at Harris, and said, “Do you have the Super Ligero?” He said, “Yes.” I grabbed one. This was a cigar that I wanted to try but I hadn’t had yet. I’m very happy with the cigar.
Make my choice for me. It’s the day before my birthday and I’m going to smoke a Liga on my birthday. I probably will go for the UF-13, but I’ve got a Lineage of Black Market and a T-52. Which one do I go with? Lineage, isn’t that a lighter and milder cigar?
What is definitely lighter is the T-52. I haven’t smoked either of those Alec Bradley’s. If it were me, I would lean in that direction because it’s something new. With the T-52, you can’t go wrong with it.
Out of the Lineage and the Black Market, which one would you go with?
I would probably go with the Lineage. I smoked both of those and they’re both good. They’re both medium body to me. The Lineage is a little more complex. There’s more to it.
I’m a sucker for packaging. You can roll up some ragweed in the backyard, put it in good packaging and I’d probably smoke it. The Black Market has sweet packaging, but I will go with yours. You’ve been good so far, Master Harris, so I’m going to take you up on that and go with the Lineage. You have been spot-on. Both of you have different tastes but you seem to know where I’m going to go with something. You’ve been right on with ones that you’re like, “You may not like it,” and sure enough, maybe it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, it’s certainly been spot on so far.
As you develop your personal list, our recommendations are probably going to get better. I know that with people who tend to like the cigars that I like and seem to be developing in that direction, I’m able to make good recommendations for them based on what they’re going to enjoy. I can keep them in a lane of cigars where they’re going to be happy.
You were talking about good priced premium cigars, but I’ll see a five-bundle of Punch for $11 and that’s a very consistent cigar. It’s nice to know what you’re smoking. I’ve almost been tempted to go buy a pack just to throw them in the humidor, so I know there’s going to be no thought process. I know exactly what I’m getting when I smoke that cigar. What’s going on in the sports world? Any Alabama or Auburn News? I know you haven’t started to fight yet, have you?
I’m outnumbered because Greg is a big Auburn fan too.
I saw this special. It was 30 for 30. It was an ESPN special.
Are you talking about the one where they had Harvey Updyke on it?
We don’t claim him.
I’m a big Indy fan but I don’t refer and say, “We,” or “We recruited this guy.” They were interviewing old men sitting at a breakfast place and after every sentence, they would say, “War Eagle.” It was so weird. I was like, “What is going on?”
That show was very accurate. Harvey Updyke, he’s a good representation of the average Alabama fan.
Is that a slam? They’re drawing on the stake in your back.
We do not support the killing of trees, the desecration of sacred other sports monuments that cause permanent damage. You want to talk about putting an Auburn shirt on the bear statue, that’s funny but killing the trees, you’ve taken the rivalry too far. The Alabama fan that went to Kyle Field and was working on the stadium kept talking about putting in iron support beams backwards, so that they would fail under the weight of fans. That is not okay. That’s not the fanbase that I support.
Harvey also named his first child Bear Bryant.
That was his dog. He named his dog “Bear” and something else.
There’s a girl locally somewhere in Alabama named Crimson Ann White.
If I went there, what bothers me are the Penn State fans for completely different reasons. It seems like Happy Valley is far removed from every place. Maybe the gene pool has thinned out quite a bit there over the course of the last 50 years or so. There seemed to be a lot of delusional fricking Penn State fans in Happy Valley.
Are you growing disillusioned with your Big Ten?
No, I’m a Midwestern guy, I love the Big Ten. I love seeing what they do. It may be a blip on the SCC pulse, the radar. I have a feeling that you’re going to see Ohio State back in the mix this year. They’re too talented not to be at the top of the food chain.
As much as we don’t like to see Urban Meyer succeed in another conference, you have a great recruiter. Him as a coach at Ohio State, he is able to coach up young talent. He doesn’t necessarily always run the cleanest program, but he produces results.
The great thing about that Ohio State team, I knew that they were talented. I’m not normally an Ohio State fan, I’m just a Big Ten fan. It’s not like I don’t care what he does, I’m glad he won. That team, they got so much better as the year went on. When they hit the playoffs, they were unstoppable. That was a train that was not going to be stopped. Alabama and Auburn did it. You’ve seen it before, but I didn’t expect that type of dominance at the end of the year from Ohio State. If you would’ve told me mid-year that they would have been the national championship in the national title game and won handily, I would’ve said, “You were nuts.”
I don’t think there was anyone who was more torn than I was, finally electing to cheer for Ohio State in that national championship game because I want to see Jameis Winston lose at that point.
You and quite a few other fans in this country.
Everybody in Birmingham wanted to see him lose. There might’ve been a couple of people in Hueytown, which is one of the suburbs here where he’s from. They might have been cheering for him, but no one else was.
That semifinal game with Oregon was awesome. My son and I were rolling in laughter at the woodshed that he was taken to.
Harris, do you have any cigars that you want to suggest?
I want to come back to this Ron Abuelo Rum-infused Cigar from Gurkha that I’m smoking. I highly recommend this one. It’s very mild, but for the hint, not sweet at all, it would appeal to most people. I didn’t want to try something a little different, but I’ve been very impressed with this. I believe it’s at a $12 range, so great smooth cigar. Ron Abuelo sells rum and they partnered with Gurkha. The owner of Gurkha was friends with Ron Abuelo, so they decided to make a cigar together. The other cigar I would try is the Winston Churchill from Davidoff. Winston Churchill was already one of their lines, but they brought it under the Davidoff White Label, renamed and repackaged it. They’re just smoking fantastic.
That’s an entirely new blend. It’s not the same blend the Churchill used to be.
They tweaked it a little bit. It’s not a huge difference, but everybody seems to be loving it. It’s a great super smooth union body blend premium cigar and they’re in the $12 to $15 range.
I want to try the Asylum Insidious. Greg, I hope it gets your stamp of approval. I’m a big fan of the sweeter cigar. That’s one that you can try to. Lane, what were you going to say?
The Asylum Straight Jacket that I smoked, it reminded me of the original Davidoff Winston Churchill’s. There were some earthy notes. It’s the sweet spot that reminded me of that particular cigar as far as the full body of smoke goes. I smoked an AVO Signature small corona. It’s a Dominican cigar. It was very well-balanced and had an intensity that built throughout the entire smoke. The filler is a blend of several Dominican tobaccos from the Cibao Valley and includes Ligero. That packs a punch. The binders also Dominican and it’s wrapped in an Ecuadorian Sungrown Connecticut wrapper that gets fermented at Davidoff in the Dominican Republic. It’s small and it’s four and a half inches by a 43-ring gauge. It smokes very quickly, but I enjoyed it. It’s more full-bodied than a medium plus, but it’s doesn’t pack nearly as much heat as this Rocky Patel.
Harris, I appreciate you having me in the store and letting me bring Greg.
Thank you for having me. It’s a new experience for me. What draws me to the cigars is the social aspect. There’re not many hobbies that all you do is sit around, smoke, and talk. There are not a lot of hobbies that are like that. That’s the big draw for me and a lot of other people as well.
My wife said something when I first started. She said, “It’s one of the only hobbies that you can have and you don’t need a ton of money to do it. You can have two premium cigars a week and you can spend $12, $15 on them. You can enjoy the hell out of them and you’re still enjoying the good life. You’re still smoking the best that’s out there and enjoying yourself, relaxing. It’s not costing you $40 a bottle for a Grey Goose. It’s that you can still enjoy the good life without spending all that money.” I wanted to follow up with that because that’s a lot of what it is, too.
The price point is right on because the two cigars that Greg and I are smoking, it’s $13. The total for both cigars.
What you hit on is that it’s an affordable luxury. It is a lifestyle thing. It’s relaxing, taking time while you’re not wrapped up in your day.
Thanks. Talk to you later.