Everyone who loves cigars seems to be loving the Davidoff Winston Churchill This Late Hour. It has been blowing people away since the Nicaragua and is the best new release by the company. Sean Kavanaugh describes it as fantastic $20 stick and a complex smoke with a blast of white pepper and cinnamon. My Father is also stepping up his game with their new release, the La Opulencia. It has an intensity and richness similar to Flor de las Antillas or the La Antiguedad, and although it is a more potent blend, is it comfortable cigar to smoke?

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Sean Kavanaugh | Davidoff Winston Churchill This Late Hour | La Opulency

We’re welcoming Sean Kavanaugh back into the Cigar Cafe fold. Sean, you’ve been busy with football and moving and work. How have you been?

I’m doing okay. It’s good to be back. We moved from Chicago to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It took me awhile to find a cigar shop that was worth a shit. Football, we had a nice year this year. We are a smaller team, we had sixteen kids. We were the only team to beat both teams in the championship, and we lost in the quarter finals with 25 seconds left to be eventual champion. The kids that my son played with have never been in a playoff game before. We went 6 in 2. It was a great year. We just got back from Daytona, my son played in the National Championship again, and we won 34-0 and 40-0 . It was a nice ending to his grammar school career.

You said you found a decent cigar shop where you are now. What have you been smoking?

I have not been smoking cigars. My dad went with us to Daytona and he and I had a couple of nights out on the veranda near the beach and smoked a couple. I smoked Davidoff Winston Churchill The Late Hour.

That’s a pretty fantastic $20-stick.

That was a really good smoke. I’m very impressed with it. When I put the order in with Harris, he goes, “This is a pretty good order, Sean.” It was pretty neat, a blast of white pepper on the front. I don’t know if you’ve felt the same way, there’s some cinnamon, and it was a very complex smoke. I really loved it.

No Graham Cracker?

No, I have a tough time with Graham Cracker. I bet you if I smoked it a couple times I would catch it, but not the first time.

I didn’t get Graham Cracker in that one either. In one of our other recent shows, we had Garrett Calhoun from Davidoff on. I was hassling him about how I didn’t get a Late Hour from the trade show. I got home to my humidor and I had a Late Hour sitting in there from the trade show.

How’s that been selling, Harris? I like it much better than the Yamasá. I would expect that it sells well.

CCP 66 | Davidoff Winston Churchill This Late Hour

What I like about Steve Saka’s blends is there is definitely a start, a middle, and a finish to every blend that I’ve had from him.

That one has been their best new release since the original Davidoff Nicaragua. Everybody seems to love it. A big hit. The Yamasá and Oscuro are good but didn’t blow people away. This one seems to step it up a notch.

The Yamasá did not fit my flavor profile and the Oscuro is odd. It’s got a lot of citrus zing to it, so I like it for the how different it is. This new Winston Churchill fits the normal cigar smoker’s profile, although it is a medium to full bodied cigar. I don’t know if you guys agree with me, but it is heavier than most Davidoffs, which is probably why they’re selling a lot of them. Davidoff is normally a mild to medium maker. I thought it was really good.

The other one that I smoked while I was there was the Dunbarton Sobremesa. This is my third one, this is one of my favorites. What do you guys feel? Are you guys on board with that?

I like the Sobremesa, I like the Mi Querida. I’ve had the Todos Los Dias. I’ve had Muestra de Saka. Steve Saka at this point is on a roll, like how Christian Eiroa has been within the last couple of years just putting out fantastic sticks. What I like about his blends is there is definitely a start, a middle, and a finish to every blend that I’ve had from him. I haven’t had the Umbagogs which is his daily drivers smoke. He sells them in bundles instead of inboxes. The rest of his sticks have lots of flavor, fairly complex, and just complete smokes. I dig what Steve Saka is doing right now.

You can tell he’s pulling from his vast knowledge of cigars and what he likes. He’s stopped by the shop and just sat down and talked for a few hours before. He’s real funny about it. Basically he’s like, “I’m just making cigars that I like. I don’t really care if anybody else likes it. I’m just going to make stuff that I like and if people buy them, great.”

I’ve gotten to do interviews with him the last couple of years and everything. He is just a wealth of both knowledge and opinion. I’ll ask him to sit down for a ten-minute interview, and we’ll hang out and talk for 30 minutes.

First of all, the Sobremesa has five fillers, so it is certainly a complex smoke. What does he do? Does he like to share his ideas on blends or does he like to share his ideas on other cigars?

He likes to share his ideas on the industry. He likes to share his ideas on cigars in general. He’s very open about smoking stuff from other people.

He always has great insights, too. It’s not that you’re just talking to him. He has very interesting observations.

What was one of the most interesting thing he said about the industry? What’s his take on the industry in general? Have you talked about the new law? I haven’t been super involved in how that’s going. What are his thoughts?

Last year, we got more into the FDA discussion than anything that we did this year. We talked a little bit about the mood of the trade show this year. He talked about how in spite of lower attendance this year, he had a fantastic year for sales. Last year, when they really started talking about regulation and stuff like that, he challenged the retailers to buy what they were going to buy and not worry about what they weren’t going to get a couple years out. That was not necessarily a popular thing to say at the time. There was a lot of uncertainty, fear, and doubt at the time for what is this going to look like and how is the industry going to move on. He wanted to encourage people to say, “There’s going to be a navigable path. You’re not buying cigars at the trade show that you’re looking to hang out on your shelves for two years before these regulations all start to take effect. If there’s something you find here, put it on your shelf and see if it moves. If it does, great. Worry about getting it again later. If it doesn’t, chalk it up to the lesson learned.”

I thought that all the regulations were on hold right now. Is that the case? With Trump in office, are we getting some pushback? What are your thoughts? What’s the move out there?

In certain areas, they have pushed back a few years several deadlines on the manufacturers, with certain reporting requirements and different things like that. So far, they haven’t changed the date from August 2016. It still is difficult to come out with a new blend unless you had released it before August of 2016, which a lot of the companies pre-released a lot of things for future mass release. It’s not really affecting that right now, but there are a lot of things that are changing or could change. I know the Trump administration had wanted things on hold so that they can re-evaluate, and people seem a little positive about the idea of certain things changing.

I see you guys again are lucky enough to smoke during our show. What are you guys smoking? What’s going on? I don’t see any bands on.

No, I took my band off both of them. I took the ribbon off, I took the cellophane off, and then I set it on fire. I’m smoking a cigar. I probably had five or six of these at this point. It’s the La Opulency. It’s the trade show release from My Father this year. It is definitely a step up in intensity, and the same richness that you’d expect from a Flor de las Antillas or a La Antiguedad. It’s the same Nicaraguan profile. It’s a very comfortable cigar for me, even if it is a little more potent. I would not call it a super full-bodied cigar, but it’s definitely somewhere in that medium plus to full range. I had a couple of them at the trade show. This is probably my third or fourth since we got them in a couple of weeks ago. I am a big fan of the stick.

Is that your new favorite go-to?

Liga Privada T52 as being the golden standard.

Liga Privada T52 as being the golden standard.

We’ve talked about “Can you name a favorite cigar” and stuff like that. I just don’t know that that’s really possible. I’m still pretty high on the T52 as being the golden standard. It’s not my favorite stick, but if I’m going to smoke something, that’s going to be the measuring stick. This is easily a top 5, top 10 smoke. I really enjoy this blend. This is still the Toro size. This is the box-pressed Toro, and that’s the only Vitola I’ve smoked.

It’s funny that you said that because there are two cigar shops that are not far from me. One is good, one is okay. The guy said, “What do you like to smoke?” I said, “Everything.” He goes, “What do you mean by that?” I go, “I don’t always like strong cigars. My palette sometimes changes.” I smoke a lot in wintertime. I start with Connecticut. Sometimes I’m just in the mood for a Connecticut. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a stronger Connecticut. Again, I smoked two medium fulls in Daytona. I’m not like a purist.

I totally get what you’re talking about. On Sundays lately, I tend to start the day, sometime between 12:00 and 12:30, with Perdomo Champagne with a Connecticut Reserve from Oliva, until recently the Fratello Oro or A Blind Man’s Bluff, and those are all great cup of coffee get-the-day-going smokes. If I start out with My Father, I’m not going to taste whatever I smoke next. Sundays in the shop, I start there. I creep up throughout the day and probably about 4:00 or 5:00, I’m smoking whatever I’m going to smoke before I stop and eventually go home. I’ve smoked stuff that’s just all over the place. Some of the more medium-bodied stuff that I’ve been into recently, like Crowned Head’s La Careme, that’s just a great, sweet, creamy, chocolate-y smoke. I’ve smoked some of the sweet stuff lately, stuff from GTO and Asylum. I’m still not big on the Acids, but it’s still in the same ballpark.

I was telling you guys about 708 Cigars. They sweeten the tip on every cigar they’re making. They’re very light. It’s gone in three or four minutes. I love those cigars. When I go back to Chicago, I usually get ten of them or so. I’ll get a couple of Connecticuts and a couple Maduros. I love their sweetened tip. You’d never think that I would like a sweetened tip cigar, but I do. I don’t care. It tastes great.

It’s been a year since Cigar Aficionado released last year’s Top 25. I still haven’t had an Andalusian Bull.

I got three of them. They’re not my number one cigar of the year. It’s good. What did you think of them, Harris?

I liked its unique size and shape, but I don’t know that I would pick it as number one. It’s been frustrating, we haven’t probably got any of those in the last four months. They’re impossible to get now.

I went into Vinnie’s right before we moved, which was six months ago. They had every tough-to-get cigar sitting on the shelf. They didn’t have a ton of it, they had a box or two, but for whatever reason, they’re so big that they get stuff in their humidor. They have a great selection. If you’re going in there to buy an $80 bottle of Scotch, would you give a shit if you pay an extra $5 for a cigar? What are you smoking? What have you got going?

I dug into the IPCPR samples to see what I have not smoked yet. I came out with the La Volcada from La Flor Dominicana, and it is very interesting, very dark, rich, oily wrapper. I like the band a lot, it has these red and black and white dark colors that just looks really nice with the cigar. This is one that has been on order since the show, and they have not started shipping yet. I have no idea when these become available. It’s off to a great start. It’s a really smooth, full body. I can tell it has a lot of richness, a little hint of chocolate, really nice. Instead of having a little bit of bite to it, it just stops and it’s smooth on the finish of each draw. I’m probably an inch into it, but it’s really nice. It has a San Andreas wrapper which seems like the most popular wrapper right now. They’re in the $11 to $14 range depending on the size. They’re supposed to be regular production, but I don’t think they’ve shipped to anybody yet, so we haven’t seen them.

My dad bought a Partagas. It’s got the purple band.

Is that 1845 or something?

I smoked the1845 Maduro a couple of weeks ago.

There’s an Oscuro too.

There’s a purple and a black band he’s been smoking more of the purple. I got it from you, Harris. I have never smoked a Partagas ever. I’ve got two of them in my humidor, and I’m waiting to smoke them. I might do it this weekend. We’ll see. It’s supposed to be 50 degrees here in Lancaster so that’s perfect.

I know you went to IPCPR. What was the theme of the event? What was the most shocking thing? What’s the most fun? What was really cool? Who stood out?

There was no Davidoff Awards Dinner this year, which was not fantastic because I did enjoy the grownup night out in tuxes and everything and the red carpet. The My Father dinner was as good as I remembered. It did not have a sophomore slump for me. Perdomo’s booth was better than it was last year even. Christian Eiroa’s booth was great. I got to hang out with Island Jim for a little while. I got to talk to a lot of the guys at Altadis. I got to talk to Pedro Ventura and Rafael Nodal, so lots of good stuff.

Did anyone see Jose Marco there?

I sat down with Jose for a little while. He’s actually going to be on the show. We always wanted to get him on. I did not get to hang out with AJ Fernandez. I was a little disappointed that that didn’t play out. We talked to his people and they were on board with it, and then timing just didn’t work out that we actually got to sit down with him.

How is that working? Is Jose’s cigar still being produced?

They’re winding it down. I don’t know for sure, but Jose took the national sales manager job with EPC. Whenever we see him, he’s talking EP Carillo, so I don’t know. That’d be interesting to ask him when he’s on the show. I know his wife has still been running Las Cumbres this point, but I don’t know how much longer that goes on.

It may be ongoing. I’m not sure. Did they have a booth at the show? I don’t remember seeing one.

It seemed like it never got a huge amount of traction.

Any new boutique cigars that really took the world by storm? I remember we talked about Ezra back in the day. I don’t see anything from them anymore.

You don’t hear much at all. I’d say Foundations, they’re making Tabernacle, Wise Man.

Roma Craft’s new Candela, that’s been moving.

Did you say Foundation?

I would say they’re one of the hottest boutiques at the show. They’ve been around for a year or two, but really starting to get big now. Foundation is the company that Nick Melillo started, the former master blender and tobacco buyer for Drew Estate that found all the great tobacco they were using. We actually have a big event with them.

Foundations Cigar Co.

Foundation is the company that Nick Melillo started, the former master blender and tobacco buyer for Drew Estate that found all the great tobacco they were using.

Is that here? Who else is coming to that?

There’s Caldwell Cigars, Foundations, and Illusione. They’re bringing a cigar roller too.

Is Caldwell coming himself?

He is not. He’s in Europe doing something. We have a new rep now. Caldwell has switched over to C.H.I.M.P. Inc., Stefan and Tevan Johnson, so new representation. They represent those other brands, too, that’s why it’s all combined.

You were just talking about Drew Estate. I did have a third cigar while I was in Daytona, and I had the Sun Grown. Did you just get them in?

No, we’ve had them a few months.

I’m interested to hear your thoughts.

The feedback has been great on them. People have really been liking them. I like it. It wasn’t one of my top 10 new cigars that I tried, but I’ve talked to so many people that love it.

It was one that started out a little rough for me. I would say the first three quarters of an inch, I’m not sure. Halfway through, this is okay, but it’s nowhere near the Winston Churchill. It was not like that. I know it’s not the same price point so it shouldn’t be, but clearly it was not near, as fond as I am of the regular Underground. Lane, have you smoked it yet?

I smoked the Florida Sun Grown a couple of weeks ago. I had one in my humidor and I smoked it on one of those mid-afternoon Sunday smokes. Nice medium-bodied, every day smoke. I enjoyed it.

It was awesome to be back on.

We’re definitely glad to have you back.

Have an awesome weekend. It’s good to be on with you guys again.


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