Review: Black Market

I went into the local cigar store today, and while I had no specific expectations I did find a little treasure for a great price. Black Market by Alec Bradley is a great smoke. It’s a complex cigar that is made from four (Yes I said 4) country blends consisting of long leaf fillers from Nicaragua, Panama, and Honduras all wrapped in a Sumatra binder, and bound by a Nicaraguan maduro wrapper. The Sumatra tobacco leaf is originally from the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and is on the sweeter side. This cigar is a medium to full cigar and not recommended for first time cigar smokers.

This cigar produced a nice think smoke and maintained an even burn throughout. While you enjoy this cigar, you will find that the Sumatra binder offers a cinnamon and earthy undertone with a slightly sweet finish and it’s peppery notes increase as the cigar reaches its full potential. The over all experience was enjoyable and will defiantly be going back for more by Alec Bradley.

Flavor Profile: Spicy Peppery Notes, Earthy Undertones, Dry Finish
Shapes: Churchill, Corona, Gordo, Robusto, Toro, Torpedo
Wrapper: Maduro, Nicaraguan
Origin: Honduras
Binder: Sumatra
Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan, Panamanian
Sweet: No
Price: $8.00

Cigar Lounge: How Are Cigars Made?

A cigar broken down is simply a tobacco leaf that is wrapped around a filling. However, the process and complexity of creating a cigar is not that simple. It is an art and craft that takes time, patience, and precision.

Cigars come in different shapes and sizes, (which most of you all ready know). The standard shape has a round top or head to it. However, there are many different types of cigars out there when it comes to the shape. Have you ever come across one that has a point as the head? This one is called a “Perfecto” it has a pointed head and tapering sides to it. How about a long thin cigar? You might confuse this one with a standard cigar, but this one is referred to as a Panatella, which has a long thin straight appearance. My advice is that you try them all and not to be intimidated by the different looking ones.

Now lets get into the meat and potatoes of this article. How is a cigar made, and what exactly is in a cigar?

First we need to start off with a raw material. What is that raw material you ask? Well it is tobacco; more specifically it is three tobacco leaves from a tobacco plant. A cigar starts off with broken tobacco leaves, which are used for the filler. Then a whole leaf is used to wrap the filler. This is called the binder. Finally a larger tobacco leaf is used to wrap around the binder and give the cigar its overall appearance. Some cigars are made with the same tobacco leaves and others are made with different tobacco leaves.

Now you cant just go out and pick off tobacco leaves and expect to make a cigar. First they need to be cultivated. Usually a tobacco plant will start indoors and then by transplanted outside. The tobacco leaves are carefully watched and pruned so that they grow to the desired size.

Once the tobacco has been harvested it needs to be cured in order to develop its over all aroma characteristic. Tobacco leaves are considered cured when they change from their lush green appearance to a more dried out brown color. In order to cure tobacco leaves they are typically “strung to strips of wood called laths.” Once the tobacco leaves are attached to these laths there are two different methods to curing them. The first is called air curing. If the weather is dry and the tobacco leaves are placed in a well-ventilated structure, the leaves will cure naturally. The other method is called “flue-cureing.” In this method the laths are hung in a structure that is manually heated and controlled from 90-170 degrees. The temperature must be constantly monitored so that the leaves do not dry to quickly.

Now that the leaves are dried out they need to be separated by their color and size. Once separated the leaves are tied together into bundles. These bundles are referred to as hands. The hands or (bundles) are then placed in boxes called hogsheads. The tobacco is kept in these boxes for a period of 6 to 5 years. During this time the leaves will go through a process called fermentation. This is where the cigar will develop its flavor. Once this process is complete the leaves will be sorted out again.

Now is where the skill comes in when making a cigar. The filler leaves must have their stems removed or you wont have an even burn. The deveined leaves will then be wrapped in bales and put away for further fermentation. The leaves are then steamed to restore any lost humidity and sorted again.

Once all the tobacco leaves are sorted it is time to hand roll and complete the cigar process. Two to six leaves are selected for the filler. They are placed onto of each other. This is important because if the filler is not packed evenly the cigar will not burn evenly. Now the worker will place the filler on the leaf that will be used as the binder and will roll it cylindrically around the filler. The cigar is now placed in a mold to hold it together until the process can be finished. The final step, and most challenging is the actual wrapping of the cigar. The worker will take the tobacco leaf that has been designated as the wrapper leaf and place the unfinished cigar on top of it. The wrapper leaf will be wrapped around the filler and binder three and a half times and then held together with vegetable paste, (Cigar glue).

Cigar Lounge: Not All Cigars Are Created Equal

Having trouble finding the “right cigar”? When choosing a type of cigar to smoke there are three characteristics you should be aware of in order to find the one that suits your palate.With that said not all cigars are created equal. The three elements of a cigar that one should be familiar with are body, flavor, and strength. Cigars can either be described as full, medium, or mild. Usually the darker the wrap the fuller, or (stronger it is).

BODY: Refers to the strength of the cigar, or the way it feels on your palate. In other words the fuller the cigar the heavier it will feel in your mouth.  When smoking a cigar our senses are used. When referring to the body of a cigar I am explaining the different effects the tobacco components have on the nose and the mouth. For example I have had cigars that were smooth on the palate, and also ones that had a bite to them.

1733896415_3919f6ed91_z-600x410.jpg

FLAVOR: This is whatever you, the cigar-goer, is looking for. The flavor of the cigar goes back to the body of the cigar. (Full, Medium, Mild) the darker usually means the fuller it is, and the lighter wrapped cigars are on the mild side. The more flavor, the fuller the cigar. If you’re smoking a cigar and it doesn’t have distinct flavors it is probably on the light or mild side.

 

STRENGTH: Have you ever smoked a cigar and when you stand up you feel light headed? Well when referring to the strength of a cigar, the way it makes you feel would be a good indication of how strong it is. The different tobacco used determines the strength of a cigar. Every experience is different, and that is why I said not all cigars are created equal.

 

So next time when choosing a cigar or deciding to smoke one you don’t know if you’ll even like, first look at the wrapping is it dark? Is it light? That right there can tell you a lot about the kind of cigar you might be lighting up. For me I like the darker or fuller cigars. They just have more flavor. Next time while enjoying a cigar focus on the three characteristics mentioned above. Focus on how it feels when the cigar touches your mouth and how the smoke effects your senses.

Review: PDR’s Cosecha Especial Exclusiva

This weekend I had the opportunity to try PDR’s Cosecha Especial Exclusiva cigar. This cigar uses the Entubado rolling technique, which allows you to build a more complex cigar by adding more tobacco, but rolling it in a way that you still get a great draw every time.

This cigar is a medium to full- bodied cigar (for more experienced smokers). The cigar uses a rare Olor Dominicano binder, along with Dominican Corojo, and Nicaraguan Habano filler, which is perfectly wrapped in a Corojo Ecuador wrapper. I used a guillotine cut (straight cut) for this cigar, and from the start it had a nice clean cut. Once cut the cigar lit up very nice and evenly. The initial taste had a bold, but inviting start. While smoking the Cosecha Especial it was evident that it burnt very evenly and was well balanced throughout the whole smoke.

The more I got into this cigar the more you can really see, and taste the hard work that goes into making this cigar. The body was smooth and generated a good thick smoke. It has dark rich flavors, with a peppery taste, which complemented nicely with its sweet finish. This cigar offers a complex taste with smooth and balanced smoke throughout.

The Smoking Jacket

Cigar smoking is a ritualistic affair for most enthusiasts; combining thought and attention to detail that cigarettes and (shudder) vaping just don’t seem to require. Whereas cigarette smokers will consistently burn through multiple packs a week, cigars are more of a fashionable accessory and private hobby for users. It’s important to have the right setting, ambiance, and of course the right equipment.

Naturally a true enthusiast will own a humidor, fine leather case, and a cutter (Punch, V Cut, Straight, etc.); there’s one accessory that’s fallen to the wayside in recent years, and hopefully won’t disappear altogether. The smoking jacket for men trend has all but vanished.

The traditional design was introduced in the mid to late 1800s, and consists of a mid-thigh or slightly shorter length coat made from either fine silk or velevt, or a mixture of both materials. The classic look has a shawl collar and turn up cuffs, toggle fastenings, and typically a tie belt. It’s a perfect combination of elegance and class that gentlemen from any era can enjoy.

The jackets are intended to absorb the smoke from the wearer’s cigars, taking on a musty yet masculine scent. The jackets were at one time considered to be synonymous with comfort and were a routine part of the stogie aficionados’ day. Legendary figures such as Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, and even Hugh Hefner were huge proponents of this fashion trend.

Vintage shops and online marketplaces are some of the best places to find used jackets with the vintage and classical look, but we at Empire Mixology always focus on the individuality of the user; thusly, we recommend getting your own smoking jacket unique to your desires and tastes. Why not have a personable jacket designed to absorb your terrific tastes in cigars.

Preparing Your Humidor

There’s nothing like a new fresh cigar, but have you ever had one that was hard as a rock and started to unravel the moment you cut it?  What a buzz kill (pun intended). I have unfortunately encountered this problem too many times. I would purchase a brand new, fresh cigar and place it in my humidor and when I was ready to enjoy it I found to my disappointment that it was stale and started to unravel on me. This makes for an unenjoyable experience, not to mention a waste of money. This forced me to take another look at my humidor that was supposed to be keeping them fresh. My problem was that I didn’t properly season it. Seasoning refers to the humidor upholding the proper humidity for the cigars.

These are some steps on how to properly season your humidor so it will keep your collection of cigars fresh and ready whenever you want to smoke them.

Step 1:

Do not buy a brand new humidor and immediately place your cigar collection in it. If the cedar from the humidor is not properly seasoned the humidor will actually do the opposite of what it is supposed to do. It will dry them out leaving you with a hard stale cigar.

Step 2:

The most important ingredient needed to prepare your humidor is distilled water. Once you purchase your humidor use distilled water to coat the inside of the wood making sure the wood absorbs the water. However, don’t not over saturate the humidor.

Step 3:

This is probably the hardest step in the process and that is to WAIT AT LEST 24 HOURS AND REPEAT THE PROCESS. If you’re like me I have trouble waiting and that was another issue with my humidor. So wait and repeat step 2

Step 4:

If your humidor comes with a hygrometer make sure it is not below 72%. If so you need to season your humidor some more.  

Step 5:

Another method is to fill a shot glass up with distilled water and place it into the humidor. The humidor and cigars will soak up that moisture helping to maintain a balanced temperature inside your humidor.

I hope this helps the next person for when they decide to purchase a humidor. For those of you having trouble with your current one, you might have to follow these steps again in order to help preserve your cigars and get the maximum potential from your humidor.

Cigar Lounge: Words of Wisdom

As Empire Mixology’s resident Cigar Expert, I have the opportunity to sample some amazing selections and offer my views and advice on brands, techniques, equipment, and more. Today I want to offer my words of wisdoms to those who are new to cigars and want to learn more. So today I’m offering you my 10 tips and tricks about cigars to get you started.


A808B0AB-5468-4C1A-A613-A9A9ACB51059-1024x802.jpeg

Tip 1: Don’t Inhale the Smoke
This tip is typically presented as a self-correcting problem, however why not save you the literal headache and tell you now. We want you to live for a long time! So don’t inhale the smoke. Not only is inhaling the smoke quite harmful to your lungs and body, but it can also rather rapidly make you feel ill or lightheaded. The idea of puffing on a stogie is more for taste than smoke inhalation. So puff, taste, exhale. You’ll always inhale some, but try to minimize the amount of possible.

Tip 2: Age Your Cigars
Don’t be in a rush! Cigars age well, sometimes smoothing out the taste and creating a unique finish. Once you purchase your cigars make sure to remove them from the cellophane wrapper and place them in your humidor for at least a few months. Now you can get single stick cigars from your local tobacconist in a humidor that can be ready immediately.

Tip 3: Do NOT Put a Partially Smoked Cigar back into your Humidor!
This tip is here for a multitude of safety reasons as well as flavor reasons. Cigar Savors do exist for this purpose if you don’t think/want to finish a cigar in one sitting. Reasons why you shouldn’t put a smoked cigar back in your humidor include potential fire hazard, smokiness is absorbed by your other cigars, or damage to humidor from ash marks. So either use a savor or just pitch it.

Tip 4: Do Select an Appropriate Cocktail to Accompany Your Cigar
As if I wasn’t going to tell you this on a site called “Empire Mixology.” Your palette is unique to yourself and you should choose how to enhance the flavor of your cigar experience. Some find cocktails or spirits ruin the flavor of the cigar, while others seem to find the combination of flavors exciting. TheMixologist can tell you better than I, however I recommend trying Spiced Rums, Whiskies, or even Coffee and seeing what fits you best.

Tip 5: Let Cigars Die, Don’t Snuff Them Out
Hate that foul odor of a cigar being snuffed out? Then don’t do it. Cigars will die naturally on their own in an ashtray, they don’t need to be grounded out on railings, earth, or whatever is closest. Not only will you avoid the snuff out odor, you’ll also avoid putting ash marks on your nearby surfaces.

Tip 6: Refrigerators are Not For Cigars
A good tip for a newlyfound enthusiast is to not store your cigars in a refrigerator. Although logically this may make sense to you, it will actually dry out your cigars and causing them to become brittle and weak. Also, as the moisture is removed from the cigar, some of the flavor will go with it. Invest in a humidor to keep your cigars how you like them.

Tip 7: Use a Butane Lighter or Matches to Light Your Cigar 
Although either choice is fine, most purists prefer the use of matches. Butane burns fairly clean so it is a popular and common source of flame, however if you choose to use matches; give the match a second to burn off the initial sulfur as you do t want a sulfur taste in your cigar. Before selecting a butane lighter, check prices to find the best deal for you.

Tip 8: Sample a Wide Variety
Don’t limit yourself to just one brand or one region. You may have heard Cubans are the best, but don’t count out Dominican brands either! The same goes for American, Caribbean, Mexican, and other origins. You know what you like best and there are tons of options to choose from. Go out and find the perfect selection for you.

Tip 9: Don’t Bite the Caps
Keep it classy. Cigar cutters are easily available in a variety of styles. You can choose from V-Cuts, Straights, Double Straights, or Punch Cutters to properly prepare your cigar. Biting the cap off can damage the integrity of the cigar and the leaves it’s delicately rolled in.

Tip 10: Check Back Often
#ShamelessSelfPromotion here but seriously, we’re constantly trying to expand our cigar section on www.EmpireMixology.com and we’re always striving to add new content. Come back and let us know what you think about certain brands and any other tips or tricks you may have for readers. Thanks for reading and remember to keep it classy and never stop exploring the flavors out there.

Review: The Edge A-10

About the Edge A-10

If you’re looking for a cigar that packs a punch but doesn’t break the bank, look no further. The Edge A-10 cigar is one of the best cigars I’ve had in a long time.  This barber pole wrapped masterpiece will catch your eye in any store. It is put together very well, using both Corojo and Maduro leaf for the wrapping, which is wrapped tight and neat. The Edge A-10 is a medium full-bodied cigar that encompasses sweet and spicy undertones with a dry finish. (THIS IS A MANS CIGAR). It uses filtered tobaccos from Honduras and Nicaragua. The Edge A-10 by Rocky Patel comes in Gordo (6”x60), and Toro (6”x52).

cigar1.png

I was very excited to finally get the chance to smoke the Edge A-10. While smoking it I noticed the draw was smooth and the burn was great. It doesn’t burn fast, so it is a great cigar to sit down with a drink of choice and just relax. The cigar lasted me about 50 min. and is packed with flavor from start to finish. I am not a fan of over the top huge cigars, so the Edge A-10 was just right. Measuring in at 6 inches it doesn’t over due or undercut the cigar experience. It’s simply just right. I used a V-Cut, which really concentrated the flavors and made the experience very enjoyable. I prefer using the V-Cut because for me it keeps the cigar neat and clean as you’re smoking it. I have used other cutters such as the straight cut, which is fine for thinner cigars.  I was recommended this cigar and I will recommend it as well.  This cigar is a must try!

(Not recommended for first time cigar smokers)

Cigar Profile:

  • Brand: Rocky Patel Cigars

  • Strength: Medium-Full

  • Shapes: Toro, Gordo

  • Wrapper: Corojo, Maduro

  • Origin:Honduras

  • Pressed:   No

  • Flavored: No

  • Filler: Nicaraguan, Panamanian

  • Binder: Honduran

  • Flavor notes: Sweet spice, hint of black pepper, earthy