Monday, February 27, 2012

My Surprise Birthday Cake!

Since I was traveling on my Birthday (Feb 25th), a good friend of mine decided to surprise me by sending this wonderful cake right before I was planning to leave! It was a COHIBA Cigar Box Cake! You have to appreciate how some would go out of their way to do something really meaningful like this. I am speechless! I usually never celebrate my birthday by partying big cakes here & there, but since I had a very busy week and I deserved a break, I've invited a few of my buddies over for some Cigar smoking and drinks (but NO cake!!).

What you see in the pictures is that everything is edible expect the top which is made from styrofoam. Its a Chocolate cake with 10 COHIBA SIGLO VI size rolled Chocolate Cigars with their bands placed in the middle just like a real cigar box. The colors look very close to real especially large logo on the top and the gold/brass handle on the outside that most cigar boxes has. They have even made a cigar cutter that was placed on the bottom right of the cigar box. This was truly one special cake! 

Of course for this special occasion we pulled out our COHIBA 1966 to be enjoyed with a Mojito while admiring the cake. Yes, I only allowed my buddies to look at the cake and not eat it. In fact, even the next day I took it with me around parading it to everyone I know. The cake looked so good it would be a shame to eat it. Of course you can only hold them back for a limited time until they over power you and go of the cake!

Again, I would like to thank you all for making my birthday cake so memorable. If anyone who wants to know from where the cake was made contact me and I'll give you the bakers number.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

XIKAR Car Ashtray Can

As I was searching online for Digital Hygrometers for the Humidor I am building (read previous entries 1-2-3) I came across this very simple, yet only people like me who would appreciate it dearly, Portable Car Ashtray that fits in most cup holders.

Why am I excited? I'll tell you... one of my favorite places to smoke a cigar is in my car. The closed space really give another experience for the cigar smoker, it will get you deeper into your cigar, it intensifies the aromas and flavors which makes it lasts much much longer. What I currently use in my car are the standard small flip-in-dashboard ashtrays and a cup holder ashtray. Every time I smoke in the car, I would have to hold my cigar in hand at all time. The flip ashtray would not hold it and the cup holder would extinguish the cigar since it will be burn faced down. So its mouth - hand, hand - mouth type of smoking, it would be nice to rest the cigar for a little and that's why i got excited about the XIKAR Car Ashtray Can.

XIKAR are known for the stainless steel smoking accessories and lighters. Their new Portable Can Ashtray as they call it, is the answer to our smoking in-car problems. 

Whats nice about the Ashtray is the rings attached on the inside to hold the cigar and not let the burn face touch the bottom, giving the burn some air to breath and thus not having to re-light the cigar over and over again. Here are some of the features as mentioned on their website:
  • Fits into cup holders and consoles of most cars 
  • Stainless steel construction with flexible cigar holder 
  • Perfect for holding ashes or coins 
  • Screw-able lid keeps the ashes and aromas contained until the next cigar.

I am a happy man, its only $19.95 on Amazon and I Just ordered two of them for my cars. Oh yea, and you can actually have them engrave a personal message on them too(for instance - Thank you Me & My Cigars ?)


Fake or Real Cuban Cigars? How can you tell..

I have had the same conversation over and over again about Fake COHIBA and how easily this brand can be replicated. More and more counterfeiters and black market dealers are getting the fake cigars out as close to the authentic as possible making it very difficult to spot. As this subject keeps coming up, it turns out to be worrisome for some people who cant seem to confirm the authenticity of their cigars. In my case, its very easy to spot a fake and I will try to simplify it as much as I can.

First of all! Have a good relationship with your local Tobacconist or where ever you buy your Cuban cigars and make sure they are an official Habanos S.A distributor/dealer. This way you would somewhat eliminate the possibility of probably buying a fake or counterfeit cigars from them.

If I had to buy cigars from not my usual supplier (mainly abroad) here are 3 steps that I do to confirm their authenticity:

  • First - Always go for the sealed boxes and look for possible attempts of seal tampering, removal or openings. Every Cuban brand cigar are exported by Habanos S.A (exclusive worldwide distributor) and will have two seals specifically located on every box with a unique serial number and a security Hologram as shown below: 
The Habanos seal is always placed on the top right hand corner of the box in an angle to always measure approx 59mm from the top end of the box to the bottom end of the Habanos seal. The Warrenty Seal will always be placed on the bottom left corner of the box leaving a 3mm to 6mm space from the edge to the seal and bending up to the front right over the center of the Cote d´Arms whenever possible (see below image).
a unique bar code is printed on every single box which has saved information on a database allowing the identification of this product everywhere, whom this product was addressed to as well as the Invoice number, and other relative details.
  •  Second - Open the box and examine the Cigars as well as their bands. Look for color, uniformity, embosses & stamps and if anything unusual that stands out then compare it with a different box of the same brand. Try to eyeball the gauge size of the cigar as well as the tightness of the roll, this helps if you are familiar with the cigar. 
  • Third - If you have a smartphone or access online go to the Habanos S.A website to verify the serial number of the bar code on the spot as I demonstrate below:

Enter the serial number and choose the format it came in

Confirmation of serial number should return with its authenticity

Yes I was lucky enough to not fall for a counterfeit COHIBA 1966, now to just enjoy your cigars without suspicion. I wouldn't worry too much about fake or counterfeits cigars if I deal with a trusted distributor. Of course you can also get on the Habanos S.A website to find local distributors/shops close to where you live. Please feel free to test this system out with some of your Cuban cigars and if any lucky person spots a fake in their collection, please share with us!


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Building My Own Humidor - Part 3 (Humidifier & Framework)

Continuing with my project, I have put together this nifty shelf that I bought from Ikea that would be perfect for the humidor frame. It is made out of treated and polished Brich wood and should withstand Humidity if cared for properly.

The reason I choose this wood for the shelves and frame is because I'm planning to keep my cigars in their original boxes inside the humidor and not loose. This way the cigars will still condition and mature in their original package just like at any proper Tobacconist dealer.

The spaced-out shelves are perfect to allow air circulation between compartments. I might need to adjust the circulation by adding small computer fans later on if needed to maintain humidity levels in all compartments. As for the humidifier system, I have chosen the Hydra® LG Humidifier which I will order online after I contact the manufacture to make sure of the electrical output needed since this is an American product and might only run on 110volts.

What I like about the Hydra® LG Humidifier is that it can fit perfectly in the bottom compartment and would have easy access to electrical outlets from the back or the side of my humidor. Also, some of the other features that the Hyrda has are:

  • Large LED for easy relative humidity viewing
  • Reports humidity reading every 30 seconds
  • Large capacity water cartridge
  • 2 internal fans / 2 external fan ports
  • Audible and visual low water indicator
  • Handheld remote unit on 54" long wire
  • Remote controls basic functions and reports temperature and humidity.
  • Toggle switch to turn off/on audible alerts.
  • Very quiet

  • I will leave you with their video demonstration of the product

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    Belated Review of Allones Superiores from RAMON ALLONES for La Casa del Habano

    Length: 14.3 cm
    Ring Gauge: 46
    Factory Name: Coronas Gordas
    Release: 2010

    In regards to my previous entry on Allones Superiores from RAMON ALLONES for La Casa del Habano back in July 2011, this review comes way over due for so many unforeseen reasons but now its finally down to give my thought on this cigar.

    After being disappointed with my first Superiores, the second one came to be a different scene. Now the Third is the charm where I can really capture all the missing notes from the previous smokes due to time, weather, food and beverage I had with it.

    The first burn gives a pleasant wet wood and floral scent with soft and minimal smoke that makes your pallet tingles just like after drinking unsweetened green tea. As you continue to smoke the first part of the Superiores, the sublet smoke starts to bring in the nuttiness aromas.

    Now the middle part is where things get interesting! If you haven't smokes Allones in the past, you should know something about these beauties. They tend to be full-bodied cigars and pack a great deal of complexity. The smoke continues to be smooth and light but the taste kicks in with a hint of citrus and a pleasant scent of freshly cut wood.

    The final burns bring back the nuttiness taste but with a nice creamy texture. Smoke continues to be smooth  and subtle with a hint of spicy wood that you wish it would last for much longer. What can I say but its a cigar that I would not want to finish any time soon. Even though these babies are special editions (only 5,000 boxes), if you come across one don't pass on it. AND YES I'm aging mine!

    Finally, I am pairing the Allones Superiores with Nespresso's Cosi blend. Cosi is a light intensity level 3 with a fresh citrus aroma and sweet notes that I think would deeply complement this fine cigar.

    On a final final note, I would just like to state that the proper pronunciation of the brand name Ramon Allones is  RA-MON A-YO-NES.


    Monday, February 6, 2012

    Nespresso Kazaar Ultimate Blend is BACK

    The sheer intensity and strong roast of a perfectly balanced espresso was brought back again by Nespresso with Kazaar! The Special Edition Kazaar was first released in 2010 and now making its way as a special edition for 2012 by blending the Guatemalans and Brazilain Robustas with the Brazilian Arabica coffee beans giving the absolute pleasureful intensity level of 12! 

    I love my espresso strong and intense with no sugar or cream! Only two of the 16 Grand Crus of Nespresso has a level of intensity of 10 which I consider strong, the spicy Indriya and the extra roasted Ristretto, but the level 12 intensity is only experienced with Kazaar. The aroma it gives the moment you brew it from the Nespresso Machine gives you a clear indication of the complexity this shot will have. Strong, bitter, full-bodied and creamy in texture with little hint of pepper that will last in your mouth for a while!

    To me, a good roast indicator is when you will not want to drink any water right after your espresso just so that you can enjoy the left over taste on you pallet. That's why i am loving Kazaar right now! Kazaar is like the Maduro of Cigars, I want that taste to laaast!

    I haven't yet paired it with any cigars yet, but boy do I have plenty in mind! Just to suggest a few for you guys, I would go for a medium-bodied Trinidads, Cohibas, Allones or even Montecristos. I would avoid any spicy cigars because of this coffee intensity.

    Salut & enjoy!