One of the best trend at the moment is the Year of the Rooster which is a part of the Chinese Zodiac series by Davidoff. It is a very expensive cigar so the next best thing to it is the La Palina Oscuro that has a nice full body with a spicy vanilla flavor. This cigar is coming in line with the current medium to full body length. But with spiciness also being part of the trend, the Camacho Corojo is one of the best sticks in the line. As far as trends go, AJ Fernandez has been good with his blends last year and it looks to be gearing to make it like that this year.
Listen to the podcast here:
La Palina Oscuro | All Out Kings | Caldwell | Cigar Cafe Radio
I’m Lane. I’m hanging out with Sean and Harris. What’s up, guys?
It’s good to get back on the horse. We haven’t done a show lately. We are excited about it.
We’ve been slackers.
Wait a minute. I’m looking at what you’re doing there. Did you just cut the end of that with the cellophane on it?
I’ve never done that in my life. What is that about?
It only works if you have a very sharp cutter. The one I just did it with probably was not ideal but it works great. We do it in the store all the time with ours XIKAR cutter that’s the metal body X8, I think. You can just go right through it.
Is there any reason for that? Do you have less risk of it cutting through? Is it just easier?
I try to make up a reason. I think it’s probably just a lazy man’s way to cut a cigar. With the customers we do it because then they keep the cellophane on the cigar and then I put it in a bag for them. It’s really the only purpose.
It’s been probably three weeks or a month. What’s going on in the store? What’s going on in the cigar world? I want to talk about a couple that I’ve had. What’s going on?
We had one a couple of weeks ago, but we have missed you, Sean.
Thank you. I really appreciate that. I’m missed by someone.
I’m pretty happy about football right now.
I’m not very happy right now.
You’ve got to be okay with a couple of the Big Ten teams currently in the top four. They don’t have to play each other but right now, three or four.
I hate Michigan. Say they were playing like Miami in a playoff game. If a bomb went off inside the stadium, it would be like a tragedy but you get my point, I just despise them. Them losing up to Iowa was just wonderful. My Michigan fan friends are so hyper gay.
I keep hearing about Michigan fans are just terrible.
I have Notre Dame hats and stuff and a couple of sweatshirts but I don’t have a room painted with Notre Dame. I don’t have Michigan underwear or I don’t follow Notre Dame graduates in the Pros. Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s goofy. It’s weird.
My wife and I have a room in the house that’s my guitar room and office or crap room and there are just Bama shit all over that room.
I thought you were going to talk about your Bama underwear.
I don’t believe I have any Bama underwear. I have Bama basically everything else.
Again, it’s not that important to me. My son is going to Daytona next week to play in an All-Star Game. We have three Florida teams in our bracket. The boys from Chicago are coming down to play some real competition. His coach owns a bar here in the Chicago land area called The Whistle and he has all the UFC fights. I was watching the preliminary card for the Conor McGregor fight while I was watching Michigan getting beat by Iowa and it was fantastic. I went from Michigan getting beat to Conor McGregor kicking the shit out of Eddie Alvarez. It was a perfect night of sports. It was fantastic.
Last week was a really good upset Saturday. It’s hard to add the number one painted on you and cheer for an underdog but I’m still going to do it.
When I watch Alabama play this year, I think more than in other years, and I know they graduated a ton of guys to the Pros last year, they look a step above everybody that I’ve seen. I know they’ve had maybe a tight game here but I just don’t know if anyone’s going to beat them. I really don’t. Ohio State’s got a lot of talent and that could be one of those ones that trip you up. Oklahoma, they’ve been supposedly good for the last five years and have wet themselves as the year has gone on. I just don’t know if anyone’s tight. I don’t know if anyone’s close. I really don’t.
Both of those fall into the Nick Saban revenge game trap too where the only coach that’s beaten Nick Saban twice in a row in maybe the last ten years was Hugh Freeze over at Ole Miss, right?
I know that Nick Saban and Urban Meyer have exchanged blows over the years. Ohio State is definitely a wildcard. I think there’s enough of a chip on Bama’s shoulder about that Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma a couple of years ago. I think that’s fresh enough in everybody’s memory that there’s not going to be any lack of motivation.
I don’t think Michigan’s there yet. I think Ohio State as far as just from a purely talent standpoint, they have as much talent as Bama or as much as you could get. They’re loaded up too and I could see those two in the national title. I really can. The Michigan and Ohio State game is obviously going to be a war because they play in the regular season. Isn’t it the last game of the year?
They won’t play in the Big Ten Championship. It’s an interesting wrinkle.
I don’t want to jinx it but I’ve got a text message from my wife. Her best friend, her family is a long-time Bama season ticket family. They’ve got five seats. We occasionally go to some of those games and sit mostly at the 45-yard line in the lower bowl in the shade. They’re fantastic seats. We got a text message that we have a hotel room booked in Atlanta and we are the benefactors of the family playoff tickets If Bama goes to the Beach Bowl. I have to hold on for two and a half more weeks.
That’s big shit right there.
That’s pretty cool.
That is. Those tickets are worth a small fortune.
Guess who would be selling those bad dogs? You’ll go. I know that. I would sell them for sure. Let’s get into smoking some cigars. We haven’t talked about it in a while, let’s rock and roll. What are you guys smoking right now? What going on there?
I’m smoking the La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro.
Which is the same as the anniversary El Año 1896 Oscuro that I smoked a few weeks ago.
This is more of the regular production, one of their newer blends. It’s really good. It’s starting off very full body, spicy. It’s got a great taste to it. Maybe a hint of vanilla, just really nice. I’m about maybe almost an inch in but off to a great start.
I have also launched right off and did probably my first full-bodied cigar in several weeks. I had an upper respiratory infection that took me out for two and half to three weeks. I’m smoking Harris’ Saints & Sinners kit from last year. I think it’s the number one. It’s Short Robusto and it is very flavorful. Lots and lots of spice upfront developing. It’s almost that bitter dark cocoa stuff like that but it is definitely the fullest-bodied stick I’ve had in several weeks.
I’ve been on a light cigar kick, a Connecticut kick for a while and I’m still not out of it but I have had some duds over the last three weeks and some real gems that I thought were pretty good Someone gave me a Rocky Patel, had won an internet cigar and he gave me a couple. I had the Rocky Patel Broadleaf. It was packed so tight that I could not draw off of it. Seriously, I could not draw. It was like a brick. It was like sucking the end of construction pencil, honest to God. It was crazy. I ended up throwing it out. One that I want to make mention of that I really, really liked was the Diesel. I had a Diesel Maduro. Who is that guy? AJ Fernandez, that’s it. That was really good, one of the better ones that I had in a while. I know it’s not a cheap cigar. It’s one of those $7 to $8 cigars even in the catalog and it was really good. I was pleasantly surprised with it. You don’t get those in the store.
We don’t. We could but we generally would go for more of the brick-and-mortar blends.
We like to stay with the companies that really treat the plumbing contractor well. They don’t sell in big box stores or online, you can’t get them. I understand. You protect your margins that way and it’s good business for you.
I’ve got a bunch of cigars to smoke when I’m in Daytona and I hope I can smoke them in celebration. I’ve got a Camacho Connecticut which I’ve had one of before which I really liked. I’ve got the Corojo which you just smoked. What did you think of that?
I’ve had a couple of them. I actually smoked a second one over the weekend, at last week’s Bama game. I really enjoyed it. It had that pretty typical Corojo spiciness to it. It’s a good stick. I want to try the Corojo Maduro. I’ve got an Instagram follower who works for a cigar store back home and she smoked one, one day. I actually thought I had the same cigar until she rolled over her band and it looked different. They’re two different Corojo sticks.
Yeah. They’ve recently discontinued the Maduro.
We still have those though. They’re pretty good.
Apparently, it’s a little more intense and potent than just the regular Corojo. I really like Corojo.
What else is coming that’s really flying off the shelves?
We’ve had several new things come in. The Oscar by Oscar Valladares who also makes The Leaf by Oscar that’s been currently popular. This new one, it comes in takeout boxes that are actual presses that he routed out and made a spot for the cigars and put the packaging in there, really cool presentation. They have a green wrapper leaf over the cigar that pull off and just really, really cool how that one looks. That one’s off to a great start. Everybody seems to like it. It’s very full body complex, a step-up from the Leaf cigars. That’s one. From Rocky Patel, the new Fifty-Five blend that everybody seems to really be liking a lot. Another medium to full body stick in unique shapes in some Perfecto shapes, bigger ring gauge Perfectos. Then the Special Editionby Rocky Patel, another medium by blend that’s not quite as widely available.
What’s the trend this year? Nicaraguan were really popular last year. Is there anything that you’re seeing like an overarching theme that’s to be working really well this year?
It seems like AJ Fernandez is really popular. He did a lot of collaborations. We’re starting to have some of those come in; Hoyo de Monterrey that was blended by AJ Fernandez for General Cigar. There are a few other companies too that have those partnership blends. That seems to be just a big hot thing we found this year. A lot of new blends we’ve got coming in are in the medium to full body range, a lot of those lately.
They seem to be pulling back a little bit from the full-bodied and coming back into the medium and medium plus. I noticed a lot of very complex but not quite as full-bodied sticks that have been released this year.
I was going to ask you how the Yamasá was selling. I’ve got to think that if I was a betting man that it did not sell as well as the Oscuro.
I would say you’re probably right about that. It’s probably close but not quite. Still nothing can touch that original Nicaraguan brand. That’s still the bestseller of the newer blends from Davidoff for us.
Speaking of Davidoff, there’s another limited edition that got just started on. The Year of the Rooster just showed up this week. That’s next year’s Davidoff limited edition.
Part of the Chinese zodiac calendar series. That has got to be incredibly popular. It’s an expensive cigar at $40. We’ll get fifteen to twenty boxes of them and we’ve been selling out every time, every year. People jump on it.
I feel like they missed an opportunity to call it The Year of the Cock.
Of course they did, yeah.
Another one from Davidoff we just got in is the Royal Release. That is our most expensive cigar we’ve ever had. They’re $80 plus before tax or anything. We’ve been selling a few.
That’s the most expensive Davidoff, right?
They do have one or two more special editions that were more but it’s just the most expensive one we ever had in the store.
Is that the most expensive cigar that you currently have in the store of any brand?
Yes. Before that it was the Padrón 50th Anniversary. That’s $60, I think.
Yeah. At $60, that’s a killer sell.
The Year of the Monkey was Davidoff’s yearly cigar last year and I was a very big fan of it. I thought it was very good.
People loved that series. It’s a great blend, a different size each year.
Have you had one yet?
Not yet. It came two days ago. I haven’t tried to smoke one.
We had a local cigar social media guy on the show and he was in the store and just picked up two of the Year of The Rooster.
Jay is a local expert.
What’s his name?
He’s real plugged in to what’s new and we had him on. I guess it was the last show when you were out and he was giving us the update. He’s real active on all these forums and what’s the online buzz on everything.
He’s got me plugged in with a couple other groups and there’s always something going on. There was like a Facebook Live show that they did last night.
Can I tell you guys something? Speaking of Facebook Live, if you haven’t tried it yet or gone on it, I think it’s going to be the next big thing. It’s fairly new but it it’s a live platform that records for you, as you’re doing it so you can watch it later. It gives you real-time likes and thumbs up or thumbs down as you’re in the show. It’s a really cool platform and I think it’s going to take off. It’s already popular but it’s going to be really big.
I haven’t done a Facebook Live video. I think my wife did a couple. I don’t know if I translate well to live. I feel like I need some internet censorship.
Or you have a face for radio? Is that what you’re saying?
There’s that too, yeah.
I don’t know if I can do it either. I’m going to be honest. I don’t know. I’m not a big fan of live TV for myself. I need some smoothing out.
I played around with it a little bit and it is amazing how much of an emphasis Facebook is putting on it though because as far as viewers and people who actually see it when you do it, it’s ten times anything else you can do on Facebook. You get so much more engagement.
Here’s the thing. Think about this. You’ve heard of Vine obviously went out and people are doing Snapchats and stuff but here is a platform that you can be seen live and you gather followers and fans through that. I predict there’s going to be some celebrities that come out of this platform. As you gather followers much like Twitter. Again, you have live video. Think about what would have happened if Gary Vaynerchuk had this platform five to seven years ago when he started Wine Library TV. This is a guy that could have been live doing his show. You can type while the person is doing it and they can give you a shout-out while you’re watching. “Sean, thanks for the thumbs up.” It’s literally that interactive. It’s very cool.
One thing I’ve noticed about Facebook Live is I think you can only do video on portrait. Is that something you guys have noticed?
I believe so. I’ve never seen it not in portrait mode.
I feel like my wife tried to do one last week and she had her phone turned sideways and the video was just sideways. Then she realized it and flipped it over. Anytime people are doing iPhone video or an Android video for use on TV, the prevailing wisdom has always been, “Shoot it in landscape because then at least you don’t have the bars on the side of the screen.” I feel like that’s something Facebook probably ought to work on is supporting landscape mode video.
I’m pretty sure that it’s probably a bandwidth thing. I think they’re probably making you shoot in portrait because of storage issues. I also think that that will probably go away in six months to a year as more people demand it. If I’m sitting at a table or I have multiple people in the Facebook Live, you can’t really do that in its current format. I can see Facebook Live shows happening. I really can. I don’t think there’s any limit to this platform. You talk about paying the best minds, Facebook is that company now where they just keep coming out with something new and cool and it’s amazing that they’ve come this far in ten years.
It would be interesting to do a Facebook Live show. I don’t know if we’re censored enough to do it.
I think I could pull back the F bombs enough to make it happen. I think so. I think I’m disciplined enough to do it. I do it in football. I’m not the mad F bomber. Although, speaking of that, it’s funny working with a new coaching staff. Just to give you some background, the Orland Park Pioneers were in the Super Bowl this year at the junior varsity level and their coaches are off the chain good. One of the coaches was a three-year starter at Vanderbilt. We put a good product on the field but this is crazy. They’re very different. It’s neat to be around another really successful coaching staff and see how they coach because they’re a hell of a lot harder on the kids than we are. This isn’t a socioeconomic gap. Orland is very similar to New Lenox as far as income level and fathers’ involvement and all that stuff. They’re just tougher on the kids than we are. I would almost be afraid of adopting their coaching style for fear that I’d have some serious parental backlash. I think that what these guys bring is that when your son plays for them, the parents and the kids know what they’re getting themselves into. There are no complaints because that’s what you want. That’s what you want for your son.
I feel like the competitive sports, some of that become necessary.
I totally agree.
Not just in sports but probably in my eighth or ninth grade, I was in the marching band. Our band director was a tool. I feel like some of that rubs off in quality on the participants, too.
I can tell you right now that this is a business trip that Coach John said, “Don’t even bring your swimming trunks. We’re not going to Daytona to go swimming in the hotel pool.” He’s like, “It is a business trip. Your fun is in winning and preparation.” Again, I do believe that rubs off. It’s why I wanted Quinn to go because it’s very Bowl-like. It’s very much a college Bowl. There’s bed check. At 10:00, you’re done and you’re in bed. There’s no messing around. He’s like, “If you think you’re going there to see your mommy and your daddy, you’re in for a rude awakening. We get there, we practice, we have film. We go out to dinner, we come home, we have an hour or two of downtime, and then you’re in bed. You’re not playing hotel tag. There is none of that bullshit.” I’m super excited to have my son be a part of that. To see what it takes to be a winner. To take it to the next level, to see teams outside of our area of influence. I’m super excited. My wife and daughter are going to be there. They can hang out on the beach and I’m going to have a couple of cigars and I hope they’re victory cigars. I really do.
Some friends and I were talking recently about that whole kid sports thing and all that and of, “What’s the line of pushing too hard where?” It’s hard to know. When is it too much?
I can tell you that being competitive myself in wrestling and wrestling all year round and doing that thing, I’m 45, I think that that was probably the very beginning of that type of thing. I was on the front side of that all-year-round single-sport type of stuff. I check myself all the time when it comes to how far I push my son. He’s a very good student. He cares a ton about his grades. He’s always checking his grades. I’m not going to make him miss practice but I’m very cognizant of how he’s feeling. When I see he’s wiped out, I pull back a bit. I’m not going to break his butt and make him go lift weights if I see that he’s got three hours of homework. I’m just not going to do that to him. I know that there are helicopter parents that are up their kid’s ass for everything. I’m just not going to do it. I know the fine line between pushing them too hard and backing off and being a dad. I hope.
It sounds like it.
Again, I did it myself. If he was a soft kid, I would be a little harder on him. He does take everything he does pretty seriously.
When I see he’s dragging, I’m not going to go, “Damn it. This is what you have to do to win.” He knows what he has to do. I’m not too hard on him. How are the kids doing?
They’re good. They’re getting big. My son just turned five this week.
I’m about to start getting free babysitting. The nine-month-old and the two-and-a-half-year-old are pretty good. The two-and-a-half-year-old, we joke around is the bully of the family.
Yeah, he’s pretty tough.
My friend has a boy that’s Quinn’s age and then another boy that’s eleven and then they’ve got, I don’t want to say it’s the oops, but there’s a six-year-old girl. She is a pistol. Funny and just the personality and she plays flag football and she’s a monster.
There were six of us growing up. I was the oldest brother so I was a bully and everything. When we were little, there were only four of us at the time, but my biological brother got to where he liked to pick on the baby twin sisters. It was fine until they realized that they could gang back up on him. There is this story that my mom tells about how my brother was all upset. He said, “She hit me.” My mom asked, “Which one?” and they’re identical twins. He said, “I don’t know.”Twins become the wildcard in that equation.
That’s good stuff. It was just my sister and I. My sister is nine years younger than I am. We’re close but I didn’t pound on her or anything like that. Although I did turn off the lights and hide on her one time in the house when she was very young which I still feel bad about, but I’ll get over it.
You all weren’t developing in the same ways at the same time.
No way. For sure. She did tell me to move out of the house when I was 24. She’s like, “Why don’t you move out of the house?”She breaks my stones pretty good. What else is new? Any events happening at the stores? I know guys do a couple a year. What’s going on?
Really the big news right now, we just got our liquor license approved. We had a little test run with a big group that was coming and it went good. Today is actually going to be our first regular day. We’re doing the afternoon and evening and having the bar open and then we’ve got wine and beer the rest of the time available.
It’s open. I heard Gary say, 3:00 to 8:00 or something?
Yeah. 3:00 to 8:00 Thursday, Friday, Saturday and then we’re going to do Sunday 1:00 to 5:00. Then in the next few weeks, I think we’re going to expand that until 10:00. We’re going to be open a little bit later on the lounge side.
All the stores or just one?
Just one right now, just our main store we’re landing on today. We’re excited about it. We’ve had a lot of people interested in it.
It’s been a few years since I’ve had a friend that owned a bar.
You’re going to have wine, beer and you’re going to have high-end scotches and whiskies and stuff?
Yes. Our bartender, she can do a little bit of anything. We’ll have a variety of things. Probably we’ll have the most of bourbon and scotch and focused on mid-level to high-end and see how that goes. We’re getting lots of requests. Right now everybody has an opinion on what we need to have.
You’ve got a lot of chiefs that want to tell you what to have.
This week in Alabama was the Buffalo Trace release week, so it’s a very convenient week.
It is. Some of the rare bourbons released this week in Alabama. We’re trying to track down a few of those. I got the word that wholesale comes in tomorrow. They told me I need to come tomorrow.
You have to be at that wholesale shop.
Yes. I asked and they’re like, “We don’t know what we’re going to get. You just need to call and just show up.”
That’s really cool. I didn’t know that you were getting into the bar business. When I was at the bar this weekend watching the fights and the games, the place was just packed. I’m going to tell you, if you get a chance to do special events like that, like UFC fights and stuff and you get a good crowd, it was a very good crowd, there was no riff-raff or anything like that. There’s some serious money to be made there. Being able to smoke at the lounge, that’s really cool stuff.
We’re excited too for the cigar events. Just like the liquor reps and the cigar reps have already been coming up with ideas and maybe some special things we can do with that. I think it should be good. We’ll still be basically a cigar shop that has a small bar.
Are you going to be able to take your cigars to the bar or are those going to run separately?
The plan right now is until 8:00, you can get anything. After 8:00, like 8:00 to10:00, we’ll have our best-sellers in the back. Maybe top fifteen or twenty things available back there, so not quite everything. We’ll see. I figure a month from now we’ll change everything we’re doing. We’re just trying to get started and see where it goes.
Yeah. That one, everybody has been talking about.
Good. The other one, I did not like. I was not a big fan of that.
Signature, I think?
It looks like it’s the antithesis of the Midnight Express. It’s the same label but it’s white instead of the black and gold.
Caldwell, he’s still doing a good job. I just got word that the All Out Kings has been pushed back to a March release, which a lot of people have been disappointed about that.
I love the one that I had. It was a really good cigar.
I’m interested to see what they look like when the production one starts to come out. I know that we had the prototype from the show. I know a lot of times, those blends, you get them a little bit at a time. When they go into mainstream production, things change a little bit. I’m really interested to see what they do come out tasting like in March.
I’m excited about it too. That’s one of the ones that I have been looking forward to. Again, I wanted to take a special shout-out. Any other cigars you think people coming into the cigar shop that they should give a try?
I definitely think The Oscar by Oscar Valladares is a fantastic new release.
My go-to new smoke right now for somebody that says, “I’ve never really tried a cigar but I think I want to outside the more palatable Connecticuts and stuff like that,” that Asylum has been a hit with everybody. Every new cigars smoker that I have ever introduced something to, say, “Try this.”
Which one? Asylum what?
That is a nice mild smoke. I haven’t had one in a while but that was a really popular smoke. I gave those to all my friends. They bought boxes of them and they’re really good. I agree with you. I got to tell you, though. I’m a big fan of 708, you know that. I really have to get you guys a couple of those so you can try them. Their Habano, their lounge-exclusive Habano is for sure in my top five. It’s a great cigar. You have got to try it.
I need to talk with you sometime about maybe us ordering those for the store because that will be something people haven’t seen around here.
You will be so happy with them. You’ve got to try those. Guys, have a great weekend. We’re leaving on Tuesday to go to Daytona and I’m excited. I’m not excited about the drive but I’m excited about the event.
How long is that drive?
Two days or one day?
I have a seat on the bus but since the girls are going, we’re going to drive with them and Quinn is going to go on the bus. We’re going to leave at about 4:30 AM on the bus. We’re leaving at 4:30, he is leaving at 8:30. We’re going to get about a four-hour jump on the bus. We’re going to head through Atlanta, maybe get right outside of Savanna. Stay there for the night, maybe at 4:00 or 5:00 and then wake up early the next morning and get their by 9:00 or 10:00. Again, I’m excited about it. Good to talk to you guys. I missed you guys. Have a good weekend.
Some mechanism other than texting.
Take care and good luck with the bar for the first weekend.
See you guys.
- La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro
- Short Robusto
- Rocky Patel Broadleaf
- AJ Fernandez
- Camacho Connecticut
- Corojo Maduro
- Oscar Valladares
- Rocky Patel Fifty-Five
- Special Edition by Rocky Patel
- Year of the Rooster
- Padrón 50th Anniversary
- Year of the Monkey
- Caldwell Cigars
- Midnight Express
- All Out Kings
- Asylum Insidious