Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Herf #8 - Viva La Gloria

December 9th, 2007 - Shoreline, WA
In attendance were Fernand, John, Robert, Joe, John, and Sean.
As usual, we gathered to enjoy a good cigar and give our opinion on it by holding a 'group tasting' following dinner.
The six of us dined at nearby Saltoro in Shoreline, where the steaks were fabulous and Scotch selection impressive, before heading over to John’s place to begin the tasting session and enjoy some much needed relaxation and camaraderie.
Our selection for this Herf was the La Gloria Cubana Reserva Figurado Selectos De Lujos Maduro. A beautiful, stylish perfecto measuring 7 1/4 inches long with a ring guage of 54 at it’s broadest point. The 'natural' colored version was Cigar of the Week back on November 5th, which received a 91 from Cigar Aficionado's expert tasting panel.
Following CA's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) we began the tasting. This proved to be a well-liked cigar among our group of ‘tasters’.
After averaging our scores, The Cohiba Club's official rating for the La Gloria Cubana Reserva Figurado Selectos De Lujos Maduro is 89. An excellent cigar.
Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 14 pts (93% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 21 pts (84% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 23 pts (92% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 31 pts (89% of the points possible)
The Appearance, Construction, and Smoking Characteristics of this tapered beauty are where it really stood out. The flavor scoring suffered slightly, bringing in only 84% of the points possible, but the sum-total of the experience garnered many positive comments and therefore the Overall Impression was appropriately high.
We were very pleased to have made this selection and would not hesitate to recommend it.
The real showstopper of the evening, however, was the lighters that Robert handed out as Christmas gifts. Here's the double-barrel shotgun lighter (click image to enlarge).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Herf #7 - A New Host

November 18th, 2007 - Shoreline, WA
In attendance were Fernand, John, Robert, Eric, Pat, Mark, and John.
A couple of us had dinner at Saltoro before meeting up with the remainder of the members at our new herf spot.
As usual, we gathered to enjoy a good cigar and give our opinion on it by holding a 'group tasting' following dinner.
Our selection for this Herf was the Coronado by La Flor. A beautiful, ample Double Corona measuring 7 inches long with a ring guage of 50. It was the #2 Cigar of 2006 which received a 93 from Cigar Aficionado's expert tasting panel.
Following CA's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) we began the tastng. This proved to be a very well-liked cigar among our group.
After averaging our scores, The Cohiba Club's official rating for the Coronado by La Flor 'Double Corona' is 91. An outstanding cigar!
Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 14 pts (93% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 23 pts (92% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 32 pts (91% of the points possible)
The Appearance, Construction, and Flavor of this Sungrown-Jalapa-wrapped beauty are where it really wowed us. Perhaps having the ash fall frequently is what hurt the Smoking Characteristics a bit, but the Overall Impression was appropriately high.
As we sat enjoying the smooth, refined nature of this cigar, we mistook it as being of medium potency. Later, I learned that in fact what we'd smoked is categorized as a full strength cigar. It's a testiment to it's quality blending that it didn't come across as strong.
Click on image to enlarge.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Herf #6 - A Surprise Appearance

October 21st, 2007 - Sammamish, WA

In attendance were Fernand, John, Robert, Eric, Joe, Aaron, John, Ed, and Mark.

Our last outdoor herf for the year was at Eric's house, just a seven iron away from the fairways of the Sahalee Country Club. He prepared a fantastic sausage & vegetable stew for us.

The cigar selected for this herf was the Tatuaje Havana VI 'Artistas', which was Cigar of the Week back on October 8th earning a 90 from the expert tasters at Cigar Aficionado.

Following the great dinner and good conversation, we went out into Eric's impressive back yard to light it up. This was a very well-liked cigar by the club members. One of the sticks drew just a bit tight, but the others drew perfectly. A nice pleasant full smoke was emitted from these cigars providing a great peppery blast at first which then mellowed beautifully after about the first half inch of burn. I heard scoring numbers thrown out ranging from 89 to 93. There was never any bitter or harshness and plenty of these cigars got quite short before they were finished.

But if that wasn't enough to make the evening memorable, our distinguished guest Ed Dougherty brought out some very special aged cigars which blew everyone away. Without getting into their origin, it was clear that these churchill-sized cigars were very special indeed, older than most of us there, and giving off a very unique earthy-sweet aroma. Their finish was long, with a bit of a bite afterward as the cigar warmed up. A real treat, thanks Ed!

The surprise of this unexpected, second cigar of the night resulted in no group scoring being done on the Tatuaje. So while we have no group rating to publish for it, I can say that when I later scored the cigar, on my own, I came up with a rating of 91 for the Tatuaje Havana VI 'Artistas', an excellent cigar to be sure.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Herf #5 - Let It Rain

September 30th, 2007 - Edmonds, WA
In attendance were Fernand, John, Robert, Eric, Pat, Joe, Aaron, Brad, Tom, and John. Our best turnout thus far!
Everyone raved about the great meal prepared by Aaron and Jamie. The light rain was no deterent as everyone gathered afterward under Aaron's front porch around a very capable outdoor heater.
As usual, we were there to enjoy a good cigar and give our opinion on it by holding a 'group tasting' following dinner. Our selection for this Herf was the Don Pepin Garcia "Delicias" of the 'blue-label' line. It's a beautiful, ample Churchill measuring 7 inches long with a ring guage of 50. It was Cigar of the Week back on August 27th which received a 90 from Cigar Aficionado's expert tasting panel.
Following CA's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) we began the tastng. This proved to be a very well-liked cigar among our group, which consists of many Pepin fans.
After averaging our scores, the Cohiba Club's official rating for the Don Pepin Garcia 'Delicias' is 88. An excellent cigar.
Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 13 pts (87% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 31 pts (89% of the points possible)
The Flavor and Smoking Characteristics of this Nicaraguan puro were pretty consistent amongst the ten of us. Considering it's large vitola, this cigar was not nearly as formidable as one might suspect. Many of these got very short before the night was through.
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Cigar Tax Update
The President has vetoed the SCHIP tax increase as promised.
Tax on cigars would increase from 20.719 percent of the manufacturer’s price to more than 53 percent, but the killer is a 6,154 percent increase in the tax cap on cigars, from 4.875 cents per cigar to $3.00 per cigar.
The Democrat-controlled Congress will try to override the veto, of course. The bill passed by enough votes in the Senate to obtain more than a two-thirds majority, but failed to reach that level by about two dozen votes in the House of Representatives.
President Bush has proposed an expansion of the program by $5 billion over the next five years, but the Congressional request (as shown in the current bill) is more than ten times that amount.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Herf #4 - Finally, The Cuban Dinner

August 26th, 2007 - Woodway, WA
In attendance were Fernand, Robert, Pat, John, Aaron, Eric, and Dave.
The cuban pork dinner served by John, our host, was very tasty. Mojitos flowed and John & Rebeca's back deck glowed in the warmth of a picturesque Puget Sound sunset.
As usual, we were there to enjoy a good cigar and give our opinion on it by holding a 'group tasting' following dinner.
The selection for this Herf was an Arturo Fuente "Short Story" from their Hemingway line. It's a beautiful little perfecto measuring 4 1/2 inches long with a taper from 46 to 49. It's the little brother to the "Best Seller", Cigar of the Week back on July 16th which received a 93 from Cigar Aficionado's expert tasting panel. Our cigar, the Short Story, had previously received a 91 from CA.
Following Cigar Aficionado's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) we began the tastng.
We did enjoy it, just not quite to the level that the pros did.
After averaging our scores, the Cohiba Club's official rating for the A.Fuente Hemingway Short Story is 88. Very good indeed.
Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 15 pts (100% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 29 pts (83% of the points possible)
The perfection of the Appearance & Construction was clearly expressed in our scoring. The Flavor and Smoking Characteristics of this Dominican cigar also fared quite well.
John capped off the evening with chocolates and espresso. Each of us in turn remarked how a more perfect evening would be hard to come by.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Herf #3 - Cancelled

Just too many summertime activities going on. One by one, the attendee list grew shorter and shorter.
Have no fear, John is on track to prepare his Cuban pork for us on September 2nd for Herf #4.
The failed turnout does not stop of us from enjoying the cigar of choice that was selected for Herf 3 because, while we dream of John's cooking, a few of us are trying to arrange a re-Herf sometime this month. This version is more informal, meaning that it does not include a meal, and instead we would just sit down for a smoke and a drink.
The one we were supposed to have smoked last Sunday is the Soprano's Edition robusto by CAO, that was featured as Cigar of the Week, back on May 14th. A few of us have had ours already and so far it's scoring quite well, in the upper 80's. It's a sweet, dark, rich cigar with pleasant flavors. The remaining four or five of us yet to smoke it may do so at the re-Herf or individually as our schedules permit.
I'll post an update here later as more scores roll in and we have enough of them to average into an official club rating.

--Update: 7/24/07
We now have four scores to average, from Fernand, Joe, Robert, and Pat. This cigar scores very high in the Appearance and Construction category. Also pretty high in the Flavor and Smoking Characteristics categories too. Overall Impression was very good to excellent!
A good herf choice indeed. The Cohiba Club's official rating for the CAO Soprano's Edition robusto "Associate" is an 87.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Herf #2 - Muckleshoot Delivered, But The Tubos Fell Short

May 6th, 2007 - Auburn, WA
In attendance were Fernand, Robert, Joe, Pat, and Rob.
The steaks were cheap & tasty, the drinks reasonably priced, and the cigar lounge was comfy and lined with sports screens displaying baseball games, poker tournaments, and Nascar races.
In addition to an opportunity to hang with friends, we were there to enjoy a good cigar and give our opinion on it by holding a 'group tasting' following dinner. We dined at the Muckleshoot Casino's Kookabura's restaurant before moving into their Cabana lounge to light-up and order some after-dinner cocktails.
The selection for this Herf was a Romeo Y Juliet Numero Dos Tubos, a belicoso measuring 6 1/8 by 52. It was Cigar of the Week back on March 19th and received an 89 from Cigar Aficionado's expert tasting panel.
To assign a rating of our own for it, we followed Cigar Aficionado's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression).
When the night was through, however, the five of us just weren't as impressed with it as the pros were.
After averaging our scores, the Cohiba Club's official rating for the Romeo Y Juliet 'Numero Dos Tubos' is 71.
Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 12 pts (80% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 15 pts (only 61% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 20 pts (82% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 24 pts (68% of the points possible)
The Appearance, Construction, and Smoking Characteristics of this Dominican cigar fared pretty well, however, a sour bitterness on the palette was too much for most of us which was reflected in our low scoring in the Flavor and Overall Impression categories.
Fortunately, the camaraderie of good friends was enough to overcome this minor setback. It was a very enjoyable evening and everyone is looking forward to the next meeting at John's house for Cuban-style BBQ, mojitos, and another premium cigar to try.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Next Time You're in Vegas (Part 2)

You must stop in here!

As was mentioned last week, the 'Casa' cigars are for sale exclusively at Casa Fuente in Las Vegas (no Internet or phone orders). The first theme store for a cigar brand, Casa Fuente stocks only Arturo Fuente-made cigars, including several shapes that were not previously sold. It opened in the spring of 2005, located inside Caesars Forum Shops' three-story, $139-million expansion.
The store's overall design evokes the sensation of lounging about in old Havana. As Michael Frey explains, "We wanted the store to hearken back to the Fuente Family's Cuban roots, while also representing the pride of their adopted country, the Dominican Republic."
To perpetuate the tropical state of mind, the sounds of Cuban jazz continuously wafts through the store. The red-and-black-pillared bar is almost an exact replica of Havana's famed Bar Floridita. While the floor tiles also have an old Cuban feel, they were handmade in the Dominican Republic.
The store's humidor, neatly tucked away in the back, is separated into two distinct parts. First is the paradise (a gated area akin to those found in Cognac distilleries where the rarest of the rare Cognacs are protected). Here one can peak in on the coveted Fuente Fuente Opus X, the Forbidden X, other rarities like these, and the exclusive house cigar, Casa Fuente, from which a portion of all of the sales are donated to Fuente's altruistic effort, The Cigar Family Charitable Foundation.
The remainder of the humidor is an open area where anyone can readily access the merchandise.
The Fuente family opted not to be financial partners in the venture. The store is a straightforward licensing deal, structured as a partnership between the Frey Brothers and Robert Levin, of Holt's Cigar Co., who pay an annual royalty fee again to the Fuente family's Foundation.
The Fuentes gain nothing more out of this venture than donations towards their philanthropic pursuits, a tribute to their family's heritage, and a presence to increase brand awareness - which they are confident will directly translate into sales for all Fuente retailers.
Casa Fuente (Las Vegas)
http://www.cigarfamily.com/
702.731.5051
Credit to: smokeshopmag.com
Click here to see pics from our visit there last fall.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Next Time You're in Vegas (Part 1)

Pick up some of these cigars for me!

Cigar name: Casa Fuente cigars
aka: "Casa's"
Wrapper: Cameroon
Binder: unknown
Filler: Casa Fuente blend (tweaked Opus X blend)
Released: 2005
Quantity: limited to Casa Fuente
The Casa Fuente cigars are sold only at the Casa Fuente store (a joint venture of Robert Levin from Holts and the Fuentes), located in the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.The blend originally started out as an Opus X blend, but was changed somewhat from that initial profile. It boasts a Cameroon wrapper grown from the original Cameroon seeds planted by Rick Meerapfel.
Credit to Vitolas.net
(click on image to enlarge)
Take it from the Robb Report:
Best Of The Best 2006: Extraordinarily Exclusive
Richard Carleton Hacker
06/01/2006
Smoking the Casa Fuente is as enjoyable as visiting the cigar’s namesake boutique and lounge, which the Fuente family opened in 2005 at the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The contents of the Cameroon leaf–wrapped blend remain a secret, but the cigar has a familiar mellow taste and peppery undercurrent that suggest the tobaccos likely come from the same Ch√Ęteau de la Fuente farm as the leaf used in the highly acclaimed OpusX.
“We have people who fly into Las Vegas and come directly here with a shopping list of the sizes they want,” says Casa Fuente manager Michael Fayerverger. “Then, very often, they’ll get right back on the plane without ever stopping at a casino.”
After tasting the cigar, few of our panelists would dare question the value of such a trip.
--Robb Report
In case you're wondering, yes, I have smoked one. That's why I'm longing for more!
In Part 2, next week, I'll focus on the store itself.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Photo: Herf #1




Charter members John and Robert at the club's inagural meeting (18 feb 07). Click on photo to enlarge.