With resolutions already a distant memory, it's Blowin' Smoke 213!
New year...same Cretin losers! Some things you just can't change, but there is a certain beauty in Cretin mediocrity. It's predictable...the perfect balance to the unpredictability of the Blowin' Smoke Podcast.
We kick off the new year with a fun show featuring special guest Tony Bellatto...a cigar retailer (Havana House) in northeast Ohio AND owner of La Barba cigars...a young boutique brand with growing fan base. Tony talked to us about, of course, La Barba, and about growing up and into the family business. Tony is also a very highly rated sommelier and talked to us about that and how it plays into cigars and others things too.
The Blowin' Smoke Podcast Cretins' Prime Nine 2014 - Our favorite new cigars from the past year. This is our humble addition to all the year end lists listing list listifications, and we like to think of the Cretin Prime Nine as a combination of the best, sexiest, favorite, and most memorable handmade lovelies we were lucky enough to get our hands on. Remember, there is no way for the lowly Cretins to have smoked, let alone even seen at whatever retail source or mooch target they acquire their cigars from, every single new release last year. So, your results may vary. You'll cheer for some...bitch about others, and likely (justifiably) question the intelligence of the Cretin collective as you immerse yourself our most sacred selections. Knock yourself out! After you settle down, pop a Xanax, and down a few Jager Bombs, make it a point, if you haven't already, to seek these fine cigars out and take them for a spin. Support their makers and the retailers that are fighting every day to continue providing us with this amazing indulgence that brings so many of us together every day.
The Cretins were asked to submit their top five favorite new cigars from the past year, in order, as well as some brief commentary on their selections. Positions were scored. Points were tallied and we came up with our 2014 Prime Nine. Saddle up!
The Blowin' Smoke Cretins Prime Nine for 2014
#9 - Herrera Esteli Norteño
The Norteño was the first release from Drew Estate following Willy Herrera being named Master Blender in June. Featuring a Mexican San Andrés wrapper around a Honduran binder and "extensively aged" fillers from the Esteli and Jalapa regions of Nicaragua, "Norteño by Willy Herrera promised a full bodied smoke and the Cretins liked it. Cretins said: "Spicy and complex." "Fantastic cigar with a long lasting finish."
#8 - Warped El Oso
If you like saying "Made in the USA," with your fine cigars, check out the Warped El Oso. From Little Havana in Miami and the famed El Titan de Bronze factory, Warped El Oso, or "papa," is made in the true Cuban technique and blended Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro wrapper around an Ecuadorian binder and Nicaraguan and Dominican filler. This combination clicked with the Cretins enough to score the eighth spot on our list this year. Cretins said: "Honey and spice, and everything nice." "The most surprising good cigar of the year." "This is a company to watch."
#7 - Island Jim #2
Somebody once said...and I am paraphrasing, "Be yourself. Unless you can be Island Jim. Always be Island Jim." The Cretins agree, and, although we can't quite pull off the yellow sunglasses, or the long hair for that matter, we can aspire to have fun at what we do for a living. If you know Island Jim, you feel like he just loves what he is doing right now. And what he is doing is working. With the continuing growth and success of the Leaf by Oscar line, Island Jim is keeping the fun going with the release of #2...a torpedo with a unique wrapper color assembly that resembles a #2 pencil. This Island Jim is not to be confused with the Island Jim cigar that was part of Eddie Ortega's unique "Wild Bunch" series. This new Island Jim, like the Leaf by Oscar line, also comes out of Oscar Valladares Tobacco and Company factory in Honduras. The "and company" part includes Island Jim. Grab this one if you see it. They were going very fast here in the Burgh at Island Jim's store...Leaf & Bean in the Strip District. The makeup of the Island Jim #2 has not been disclosed as of this writing...not even to the Cretins who said: "Unique in several ways. A great smoke." "Island Jim has another hit alongside the Leaf series." "I can't wait to see what Island Jim and Oscar some up with next."
#6 - Señorial by José Blanco
Ask anybody who has ever had the pleasure to meet José Blanco and you'll likely hear the same thing. José is one of the nicest people in the cigar business. What they will also tell you is that his presence raises the collective cigar IQ of everyone in the room. Following the success of the CyB line with Drew Estate and Joya de Nicaragua's Dr. Cuenca, and his departure, José created Las Cumbres Tobaco and began work on what would become Señorial through his cousin Jochi Blanco's factory, Tabacalera La Palma in the Dominican Republic. Señorial has an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a binder from Esteli, Nicaragua, and filler of Dominican Piluto Cubano and Dominican Corojo. The result is a complex smoke with a subtle sweetness underneath a rich, fuller flavor and strength profile. Cretins said: "One of the best made cigars I've ever smoked." "A classic cigar." "What you think a cigar should taste like."
#5 - 1502 Nicaragua
Maybe it's the hair gel. Maybe it's the red denim jeans. Maybe it's that intangible seductive man-crush something something that surrounds Enrique Sanchez. We don't know. What we do know is he has some fantastic blending going on at 1502 Cigars. Following up the success of the Emerald, Ruby, and Black Gold lines is another uniquely flavorful and very well constructed 1502 Nicaraguan. As the Cretins continue debating the best of the first three, along comes the Nicaragua to reboot the argument again. Enrique says the Nicaragua nestles in between the Emerald and the Ruby on the strength scale. The 1502 Nicaragua is a puro featuring tobacco from the four main growing regions of the country...Esteli, Jalapa, Condega, and Ometepe. Cretins said: "A worthy follow up to the Emerald, Ruby, and Black Gold." "This puro delivers what you'd expect from Nicaragua, but with a balance of strength and spice that only Enrique can deliver." "Another score from 1502. Now, I need a box, dammit!"
#4 - New World by A.J. Fernandez
A.J. Fernandez does amazing things with tobacco. Odds are some of your favorite cigars were made in his factory even if they don't bear his name. New World celebrates the discovery of tobacco by the Christopher Columbus expedition in 1492, and it also marks the first collaboration with his father, Ismael Fernandez. So, A.J.'s people say this cigar is very special to him. We say bring in some uncles or second cousins too if it delivers more cigars as good as the New World. Hell, would you consider an Adopt-A-Cretin program?? New World by A.J. Fernandez is a Nicaraguan puro with a dark wrapper, binder from Jalapa, and filler from Ometepe, Condega and Esteli. New World has a complex flavor balancing spicy and sweet with a boldness that builds throughout. Cretins said: "Please, sir, I want some more." "Leather, pepper, earth, coffee, unsweetened molasses blended to almost perfection cigar to cigar." "A fantastic cigar and at a fantastic price point."
#3 - Nomad C-276
Fred Rewey, @GodFadr, of Nomad Cigar Company is one boutique cigar maker that really gets it. While he looks at his place behind the scenes in the cigar business as a journey of sorts...learning, improving, creating, and learning some more each step of the way, he also knows that building relationships with us consumers is as important as producing a high quality product, and I think he is one of the best at it. While the processes in Fred's mind frighten me quite a bit, I know his brain is always working. He is very active on social media. He ties them all into unique contests, giveaways, swag promotions, appearances, interviews, and a healthy amount of self deprecation that continues to bring new fans to Nomad. Fred's behind the scenes journey into tobacco, blending, and experimenting has been releasing some incredibly good cigars to seal the deal, keep it real, and impress the hell out of his minions. The Nomad C-276 made fans of last year's Nomad S-307 punch their grandmothers. The flavor and complexity just keeps coming in waves with the C-276. The wrapper is Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro. The binder is Nicaraguan, and the filler is made up of five different Nicaraguan leaves. Oh, and guess where it's made? Tobacalera AJ Fernandez. Cretins said: "Complex and flavorful." "Quality, tasty...this will be smoked often." "A new go to cigar for a consistent flavorful smoke." "The C-276 never disappoints." "The Nomad C-276 dazzles." "Like your favorite shirt...always good." "A ton of flavor with some spice on the retrohale."
#2 - Nomad Connecticut Fuerte
If the idea of a Connecticut wrapped cigar makes you roll your eyes or even yawn, you need to smoke the Nomad Connecticut Fuerte. With his second placing on this year's Cretin Prime 9, Fred Rewey decided to bring another Connecticut cigar to market, but wanted it to be different...not just another Connecticut...that makes you roll your eyes and yawn. He admits he thought it would be easy because, phfft, it's Connecticut, right? Turns out, it was a bitch, and it became more of a challenge. Lucky for us, Fred kept at it, sought out a variety of quality tobaccos and finally nailed it. The Nomad Connecticut Fuerte is not going to blow your head off with power, but it will deliver flavors and complexity you don't experience with a Connecticut...until now. They're not boring anymore! Yay! The Nomad Connecticut Fuerte has an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper (duh!), an Ecuadorian Habano binder, and the filler is Dominican and Nicaraguan. Cretins said: "A lot of complexity and strength, relative to wrapper, for one amazing cigar that smokes perfectly and evenly." "Notes of cocoa, coffee, cedar, and just a hint of spice." "This is THE Connecticut that all others should be compared to. Simply amazing." "Irony. Delicious irony." "Well done, GodFadr. Well done." "All around best Connecticut cigar released this year." "Wonderful cream and muted pepper notes while still giving just a bit of earth tones without being grassy like the majority of Dominicans."
#1 - Luchador
Deja Vu all over again! This Leccia cat has been here before. Winning both the number one AND number two spots last year with the Leccia Black and Leccia White respectively, his follow-up release, Luchador, hit the market and the Cretins with all the subtlety of a roundhouse kick. The Leccia Luchador ran away with this one as Cretin votes tallied a final score that was double the next highest score. Whatever Sam is tuning into when he is blending, it's working. The Luchador was also the cigar that defeated the Leccia Black in the Blowin' Smoke Podcast Cigar Match after a crazy 19 wins and one tie. If you're not careful, the Luchador will kick you in the nerts, but it will talk dirty to you while it does. Bold, rich and chewy with spicy and sweet trading punches. The longer you smoke the Luchador, the more intense the experience. Hands down, the most impressive according to the Cretins. Luchador has a San Andrés wrapper, an Ecuadorian Habano binder, and a filler of Pennsylvania ligero, Honduras ligero, and Ometepe, Nicaraguan. One! Two! Three! Win! Cretins said: "Another home run for Sam!" " Perfect balance of power and flavor." "Complex and deep flavors sting but not over powering." "Sweet to spicy and bright to dark flavors." " Luchador blows me away EVERY time I spark one." "A top rope body slam." "My favorite cigar of the year."
Congratulations, Sam Leccia & Leccia Tobacco!
So, there it is. The Cretins Prime Nine for 2014 in all its glory. Congratulations to all those who made the list! Let's do it again next year.
But wait! We have to mention some great cigars that landed right on the bubble of the Prime 9. Check out these fantastic cigars too (Just pay additional shipping and processing): Tatuaje Tattoo -- E.P. Carrillo La Historia -- 262 Allegiance -- Camacho Ecuador -- Corona Project by Rodrigo
Oh, what fun it is to herf with the Cretins all day long... It's Blowin' Smoke 212!
With the Havana Room heaters cranking a combined 50,000 BTUs, or burning tobacco units, we gathered for a pre-holiday herf complete with a new Cigar of the Day...the Leaf & Bean by Oscar Connecticut. It's a cigar with a local connection most of us have been familiar with but had not had the chance to review on the show...until now.
We also hooked up with Chris Kelly for the latest Smoke Buzz, and had a surprise call from none other than Skip Martin of RoMa Craft Tobac that lead to a great conversation about his company, living (and eating) in Nicaragua, and looking ahead.
With visions of insulin pumps dancing in their heads, the Cretins gathered for some post Halloween herfing and Blowin' Smoke #211!
With all the candy flying around after Halloween, the Cretins sparked up a new Cigar of the Day, put on their thinking caps, and hosted a Halloween Trick or Treat Candy Draft...five teams...five candy players per team. So, who drafted the best Halloween candy team? That decision came down to the "Candy Commissioner" and his word is final...even if it totally sucks malted milk balls.
Along with the candy draft, we talked to Chris Kelly for the latest Smoke Buzz, checked out the news of the weird, explored what the chicks are reading, and got back into Halloween with a new 5 Things.
So, fire up a stick...not the pixie variety...grab a drink, and join the Cretin ghouls for Blowin' Smoke #211.
With a hint of Ebola in the air, the Cretins gathered for Blowin' Smoke 210!
Armed with a new Cigar of the Day, and a new Cigar Match, it was high time to dispel the fear and myths of the Ebola virus. So, with our projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea temporarily under control, we checked in with the official Blowin' Smoke physician, Dr. HardCrab, for the "real" facts. Or not.
We also listed our eight cigars we would want in the event of an Ebola quarantine.
We talked to Chris Kelly for the latest Smoke Buzz, checked out the latest Cosmo for a new look at what the chicks are reading, and explored some weird news from the internet.
Another Big Ass Birthday is upon us again as we turn 9! That's nine years of the Blowin' Smoke Podcast, smokin' cigars, making friends and enjoying those friendships with laughter and good times. Join us as we celebrate!
We'll spend the afternoon eatin', drinkin' and herfin'! El Freako will bring along another Big Ass Birthday Cake. Please join us! Meet El Freako and the Cretins, herf yourself silly, and make some new friends!
Joe and the gang at Slippery Rock Cigars will have the humidor stuffed, as usual, and some great deals too. We look forward to seeing you on November 15, 2014 for the 9th Annual Big Ass Birthday Herf!
A early taste of fall made the Havana Room perfect for Blowin' Smoke #209!
The little chill in the air had the coffee pot make an appearance along with our new Cigar of the Day from Miami Cigar & Company giving the Cigar Match a new contender. Plus, we welcomed @cigar_maverick to the Havana Room and officially christened him a Cretin.
Chris Kelly delivered the latest Smoke Buzz, Clint Aaron of 262 Cigars called in from the road and let us know what he's working on for 2015 and how he's doing awaiting the birth of his first child, and we chose a winner in our "Orgasm Killer" contest with @RobynCigar and Villiger Cigars.
Plus, a new installment of what the chicks are reading, a new 5 Things from our guest Cretin, and more.
So, grab a smoke and a drink, and join the herf. It's Blowin' Smoke #209!
Back after a summer vacation hiatus, it's Blowin' Smoke #208!
Summer finally arrived in Blowin' Smoke country with heat and humidity reaching sticky heights in the Havana Room, but with a supply of Yoo-hoo in the fridge and cigars in hand, the Cretins got back in the groove with special guest @RobynCigar from Villiger Cigars in the house to talk about the variety of tasty Villiger smokes you might not know about and change any preconceptions you may have about this storied old name in tobacco worldwide.
We sparked up a new Cigar of the Day, updated the current Cigar Match, talked with Chris Kelly of Leaf Lovers Tobacconist about the latest Smoke Buzz, answered some listener email questions, and more.
@RobynCigar handled What The Chicks Are Reading with her own style of grace and enthusiasm (the Cretins were taking notes), and Cretin Ken looked back on our recent road trip to the annual Chattanooga Tweet-up & Cigar Festival with a new 5 Things.
So, give a toot of the Gold Bond, pour a tall cold one, and fire up a favorite cigar for almost three hours of Blowin' Smoke #208!
Another sticky day in the Havana Room means El Freako has to replace his ice packs, and it's Blowin' Smoke 207!
Well, maybe not replace them, but definitely clean, sterilize, and disinfect them. You'll find out why throughout the show...a show where Cretin Kevin took over the host mic again so El Freako could get comfy (read: sticky) in the man chair. As always, we offered up a new Cigar of the Day to do battle with the Cigar Match champion, talked about the up coming trade show, government regulation, and making sure you do your part...even when it feels futile.
We grabbed the latest Cosmo for a new look into what the chicks are reading, and offered up some odd news stories from the interwebs too. Most importantly, we suffered through heat, humidity, cold beer, ice packs, premium cigars, delicious locally made all beef hot dogs and a crock full of baked beans just for you. We love you.
So, send some lovin' back this way. Grab an ice pack, a fine cigar, and an adult beverage (chilled, preferably), and join the herf on Blowin' Smoke 207!
Two words, when used together, conjure images not easily unseen, and can cause reactions not easily controlled...such as tremors, watery eyes, and throwing up in your mouth. The two words? Sticky...and Cretin.
Lucky for you, Blowin' Smoke 206 took full exposure to the contagion and has quarantined the nasty to the Havana Room. Yeah...lucky for you...it's Blowin' Smoke 206!
On this episode, we played out a little friendly Q&A competition with some listeners to award a post-Cigar Crawl snack pack of goodies. Did YOU know all the answers? Check it out.
Also, Chris Kelly delivered the Smoke Buzz live from the Havana Room, and it had a little good news for a change. Plus, a new Cigar of the Day, a new Cigar Match, a new report on what the chicks are reading, a new 5 Things direct from a national home brewers conference attended by Cretin Ken, and lots more.
So, pop a penicillin, spray that Gold Bond, and light up a fine cigar with the Cretins for Blowin' Smoke 206!
It's the annual Cretin conundrum. Do we celebrate the long awaited end of cold and wet weather, or bitch about the heat and humidity of summer afternoon herfs in the Havana Room? It's enough to drive a Cretin psycho...or Psyko 7, as the case may be, for Blowin' Smoke #205!
Herfin' on the heels of the recent 16th annual Western Pennsylvania Cigar Crawl, the Cretins have completed their recovery and rehabilitation regimen and are ready for the summer herfin' season. While we may be a little low on Gold Bond for the Havana Room stickies, we've made up for it with cold brews. Our special guest Dan even brought a growler of some delicious West Salem Wit from Just Another F*@#ing Brewery (JAFB) in Wooster, Ohio. Damn nice on a hot day!
We all sparked up a new Cigar of the Day, and didn't know how to feel about the recent epic Cigar Match battle. Chris Kelly brought the Smoke Buzz with a scoop announcement on a new cigar being released soon. Plus, we talked about the recent Cigar Crawl and announced a contest where you could win a big bunch of stuff from the Cigar Crawl. Entries are date sensitive so be sure to enter early!
So, grab a cold one and light a fat one and join the herf with Blowin' Smoke #205!
The Cretins need help. That's obvious, but who is up to the task? Who can cut through the clouded minds of the Cretins and the typical Blowin' Smoke listener when it comes to relationships?
The Date Doctor! That's who. And he's back for the Date Doctor On Tour part 2, and he made an appointment with Blowin' Smoke #204. So, we're talking cigars, dating psychology, and whatever else is rattling around in the Cretin craniums and listener's love lives.
There's a new cigar in the Leccia Tobacco stable and that means a head to head family feud Cigar Match...AGAIN! Chris Kelly has our latest Smoke Buzz. There is an unusual festival in Japan that's hard to miss, and apparently bushy eyebrows and dark eyes mean more than bushy eyebrows and dark eyes.
Plus, don't look now, but a Cretin chick got ahold of the Cosmo and has the latest installment of what the chicks are reading. It's a mouthful!
All this and a lot more! So, grab your favorite stick and chew on some ice for Blowin' Smoke #204
Ready for summer. Ready for the Date Doctor on Tour 2. Ready for the 2014 Cigar Crawl. It's Blowin' Smoke #203!
Armed with a new Cigar of the Day and some delicious home brew from our brew meister Cretins, we are anxiously counting down the days to some of the most fun cigar events around...the 16th annual Western Pennsylvania Cigar Crawl, and the return of Doctor K for the Date Doctor On Tour 2...both in late May 2014.
The latest Smoke Buzz with Chris Kelly, however, reminds us that our adult enjoyment of cigars is constantly under attack...currently by the FDA, and WE MUST SPEAK UP! Please leave your intelligent, specific, informed, educated, and mature comments as to why the FDA should not be in the business of regulating premium handmade cigars. Our friends at CigarCraig.com and at Halfwheel have easy links to take you right to the comments section of this intrusive and destructive proposal. Do it! Do it now! Or all this...your access to...your ability to afford...your ability to make your own decisions goes away by the hand of an ever encroaching government.
We also talked about what entices you to attend special cigar events at cigar shops, raising pigs to taste like whiskey, tag team tasing by some baby mommas, how not to break your nose, and more odd stories from the net. Plus stuff the chicks are reading right out of the latest Cosmo, and 5 Things about baby making, and more.
It's a great day for a herf, they say. It's an even better day for Blowin' Smoke #202!
Armed with a new Cigar of the Day, the Cretins took full advantage of the sunshine and warm temps by cracking an extra window in the Havana Room and enjoying an extra beer or two while they tackled the important issues of the day such as performance art, nudist beer festivals, getting lucky with curvy chicks, and a threat to our beloved bacon supply among others.
Plus, a new Smoke Buzz with Chris Kelly...time to call your elected hacks again...a new report on what the chicks are reading, and a special deal from Commonwealth Cedar Spills for you Cretins all over the world.
So, join the herf! Spark up a fine cigar and pour an adult beverage. It's Blowin' Smoke #202!
What's this? Sunshine? A whiff of corn dogs in the air? Aerosol cheese? It must be Blowin' Smoke #201!
With an entire weekend of warm sunny weather, the Cretins didn't know what to do with themselves. So, they ended up doing what they usually do...herfin'. With a new Cigar of the Day, some Goat Boy from Southern Tier Brewing, and stash of tasty corn dogs, we dropped anchor in the Havana Room.
Why corn dogs, you ask? Well, for that, we talked to our good friend Clint Aaron of 262 Cigars. It seems he partakes in an annual corn dog tradition and we decided to try it for ourselves. For a little history of the corn dog, check this out.
We also talked about the latest medical breakthrough to hit the media and asked our creative listeners for some assistance in marketing this new medical miracle. Plus, a new round of what the chicks are reading, 5 Things, a new Date Doctor tour, the winner in the Lumberjack Kevin 5K contest, and more!
So, grab a corn dog, a tall drink, and a fine cigar. It's time for Blowin' Smoke #201!