My Father’s Garcia & Garcia

A warm night with a misty rain, a good cold beverage, fantastic company, easy conversation, and a delicious cigar– this is what amounts to a lovely evening for me.   For this calm gathering,  and from the Thompson Cigar 90+ rated cigars, I choose the My Father’s Garcia and Garcia cigar.   The flashy label caught my eye, and the size was right for a leisurely evening among friends.

Before lighting, this particular stick smelled of a rich leather, coffee, and a nuance of vanilla.  While this is a lighter stick, I would classify it on the medium body side of that range, as the leathery aroma is definitely the predominant aroma on this cigar.  After lighting, it’s as though the tanning of many hides had been rolled into one smoke. This sounds overwhelming, but I found it quite enjoyable.   The barest hint of vanilla and a layer of coffee really helped temper the leather taste in the first part of the cigar.

Garcia Foot

The draw is easy without being too soft,  and made for a decent sized foot without too much ado.  At the midpoint of the cigar, the leather tapers down just a little and the cigar mellows over all into a pleasant smoke with good tobacco, earthy tones, coffee, and leather flavors.   Towards the final third of the cigar, a nice bit of pepperiness helps finish the stick out with some coffee, leather, and earthiness.  I had this stick with a Raspberry infused spiked sparkling water, and I think it would taste just wonderful with just about any beverage you could possibly want.

In all, this cigar is an instant classic cigar.  It is not a heavy smoke, but it is a stick you want to take your time with.

CI Knock-Offs – Coffee

A dear friend orders frequently in bulk from Cigars International for his house cigar. When it came time to do a re-order this go around, his usual stick wasn’t in stock, so he opted to order the Cigar International Knock-Offs – Coffee bundle and see how it goes.  This Brother of the Leaf unboxed this in front of me and the smell was amazing.  This is an intensely aromatic coffee cigar!  It is delivered as a brick of cigars, each one individually wrapped, and no fancy ring or anything, just a bunch of cigars of a nice length, nice color, and amazing scent.

CI Knock-Offs - Coffee

After a day of puttering and chores, a bonfire with a cigar sounds like an amazing idea.  Bonfire had been built and my friend offered one of these Coffee cigars for the evening.  I must say, I am really impressed. I do love the Drew Estate Java, and this is certainly something to compare to that cigar.   The size is nice, the aroma is intoxicating (I really love coffee!), and it was a lovely smoke around a fire.   Unlit, the aroma is coffee with a bit of leather and vanilla.   Upon lighting, the coffee is still definitely the star on this cigar, but the leather and vanilla really help round it out to be a stick that isn’t entirely sugary– this is a very good balance for a cigar that smells much sweeter than it smokes.

Knock-off Coffee Feet

The draw is a bit easier than I would expect from a DE Java, but it made for a  tidy foot on this cigar.  The flavors really didn’t change much, but I wouldn’t expect that from a cigar of this nature.  As I really enjoyed the intense coffee-ness with the nuances of leather and vanilla from this cigar, I didn’t mind that the notes didn’t really change much from any point while smoking it.  If you like coffee, this cigar is a definite value and I would recommend it. For a lighter body cigar, I was definitely impressed.

Macanudo Café

After a long day of working, I opted to go for a lighter cigar from my humidor.  The Macanudo Café grabbed my eye for it’s slightly flashy cigar ring and it’s lighter wrapper.  This stick was part of the sampler sent by my Brother-in-Law as a 90+ rated cigar. I remember a few folks in college who liked Macanudo cigars.  This was before I started down the Path of the Leaf.  As that was a young crowd, that might explain the appeal of a lighter leaf.

Macanudo Café

Before lighting, this cigar smelled faintly of leather with some floral and honey notes.  It cut nicely, and after lighting, the aroma was definitely on the floral side, with nuances of honey and hay.  I feel my palate has gotten too accustomed to darker (and I mean generally medium body when I say darker) cigars and for the spicier notes of my preferred tobacco.  While I’m sure this is a much more appreciated cigar for those who enjoy a lighter smoke, this was really just okay in my book. It wasn’t awful, but I wouldn’t rate this as an amazing smoke, personally.

Macanudo Foot

To the Macanudo credit, this cigar did smoke easy and smoothly.  I had no trouble keeping a nice foot going, in fact I took a few different pictures as I kept wondering when the ash would break. Much to my surprise, I actually made a rather impressive foot on this cigar, but hadn’t photographed it.  I don’t always trust my gracefulness (especially as there is a distinct lack of grace, but pretty decent reflexes) ash properly when a foot gets large, so I tend to probably ash too soon.

I know this is a beloved brand, and even considered a highly rated cigar. However, it’s just not for me as it’s simply too… bland. I feel like this is a cigar that is smoked to say one smokes a cigar and by folks who don’t generally really get into cigars as quality moments in life.  I didn’t get any unique flavors, I can say I wouldn’t call it awful, but there was nothing to draw me in to really examine what I was smoking. I had this with sparkling water, perhaps if I had smoked this with something more potent I would like it more.

Pilon by CAO

I’m going to start right off the bat and admit that the Pilon by CAO is one of my go-to cigars. Personally, I think this is a practically perfect cigar in almost every way.  CAO put in the effort to bring back a traditional fermentation method of the tobacco just for this cigar and the effort to maintain a circular Pilon pays off in an amazing stick. Bonus,  you can usually find this gem for under $7.

Pilon by Cao

I love the cigar ring on this stick, it’s simple but still bold– which could explain everything about the Pilon in a nutshell.  Before lighting, this cigar smells of chocolate, earthiness, cedar, and cafe au lait.  Not a creamy and a coffee separated flavors, specifically cafe au lait aroma.  A steamed milk and coffee drink, not two different smells.  A tricky thing to pull off, but it’s there.

After lighting, the nuances adjust more to an earthy, chocolate, dried fruit melange of deliciousness. While I don’t feel this cigar is a sweet cigar, it only has sweet aromas and flavors that would hit the back of the tongue.   They won’t overpower the peppery or earthy aromas that are the powerhouse behind this stick.  The draw is clean without being too easy, so this stick does seem to take a bit longer to smoke than others of comparable size.

Pilon Foot

A nice foot can be built up, but it takes some time.  You won’t mind the slower smoke though, especially if you’re a fan of the earthy, peppery flavors that show up about the midpoint of the cigar.  The chocolate and dried fruit combo that started the stick slowly take a back seat to the stronger cafe au lait and earthy aromas at this point, with the pepperiness coming in just at the end of the flavor profile.   Towards the end of the cigar, the pepperiness is front and center, with a leather, coffee (no more steamed milk at this point), and cedar finish.   Having said that this cigar is one of my tried and true smokes, I hope you also give it a try.  It goes well with coffee, dry wines of both red and white varieties, vodka, whiskey, and even just a cold soda– although I wouldn’t advise any fruity soft drinks or liquors with this one.

Cain by Oliva

Living in the subtropics means having a rainy season. While we haven’t had a named storm hit the area so far (knock on wood, tiki bars, anything!), the precipitation has been steady and relentless this year.   Many areas are just a few scant inches away from flooding, and there’s not a day in the next week and a half that doesn’t have “Afternoon Thunderstorm” or “Thunderstorms likely” in the forecast.  After a few weeks of pruny fingers and squishy yards, one gets a desire to give the rain the middle finger. That being said, my friends were sweet enough to let me build a fire in their fire pit.  I was successful at keeping the fire going during a light rainfall, and by evening it was perfect.  The rain had actually brought in a bit of cooler weather, and we had a lovely evening of eating fancy sausages and marshmallows cooked by fire, and then cigars and libations.


My choice of smoke for this amazing evening was a Cain by Olvia, which was a part of a 90+ rated sampler that was sent to me by my Brother-in-Law.  This is another cigar with an understated cigar ring, but remarkable flavors.   Unlit, the cigar smells earthy, with notes of cinnamon and pepper.  I opted to smoke this with a variety of spiked sparkling water flavors– started with Lime, then Black Cherry, then Raspberry.  Personally, I felt the Raspberry was the best with this cigar as it was the brightest of the flavors that wasn’t competing with the dark beauty of this stick.

Cain by Oliva

After lighting, a pleasant cedar aroma is added to the earthiness.  At the midpoint of this cigar, I still hadn’t ashed yet. This cigar draws quite easily and this would probably have been a bigger foot if I had more confidence in not dropping it all over myself.

Cain Foot

This is a full bodied cigar that smokes evenly and cleanly.  While the earthiness is the predominant taste, the cedar and pepperiness come in at the end of the cigar.  Due to the calm after the rains, the smoke from this stick had an even better opportunity to linger before dissipating.  Within the smoke, I could even get a few notes of vanilla and  leather.  This cigar had a variety of nuances to it and was a delight to smoke, and even though the draw was easy it did not smoke quickly at all.  The Cain was a great way to end a day of rain.

Aging Room M356ii

I am fortunate to have a Brother-in-Law that has a taste in cigars similar to my own.  For his own birthday, he was generous enough to send me a sampler of 90 + Rated Cigars from Thompson Cigars.  While this was only recently, we’ve already compared notes on a few sticks together, and I’m looking forward to seeing how we both think about the varied cigars in that sampler.

90 Rated Sampler

It’s fun to have something so diverse in common.  The stick that piqued my interest the most when I opened this pack was the Aging Room M356ii.  I’d seen a few articles about this label before.  This is a cigar that is made by people with a passion for their art, using unique tobaccos, that allude to various flavors and are extremely limited. The simplicity of the label belies the complexity that the cigar has. Unlit, this medium to dark blend smells of leather, coffee, and a smidge of vanilla.

Aging Room M356ii

I don’t usually pay attention to how a cigar is rolled, I just usually enjoy that it is! But this seemed actually have some intention in the rolling that it made an interesting design at the bottom of the cigar.

Rolled Details M356ii

Once lit, the Aging Room cigar really stretched on the leather and coffee aromas. There were also nuances of cinnamon, and nutmeg. Toward the middle of this cigar, I felt it got kind of oily — but it was a good oily, like the dark beans of a really good French Roast coffee. The draw on this stick is enjoyably easy and I was able to make a quite a lengthy foot, longer than the picture I took here.

M356ii Foot

The oilyness was only in the middle of the cigar, the predominant taste would be leather and coffee. At the end of the cigar a pepperiness stepped in to assist the other spice nuances.  All in all, this is a very complex and delicious cigar. I definitely want to find this stick again. I did smoke this with a glass of a dark and dry red blend, but I think it would go well with any liquor of your choosing, as well as coffee or a good root beer.

Alpha Infused Edition New Orleans

As I posted in the Alpha Infused post, I picked this up at the Heights Cigar Shop. They had several varieties of the Absinthe infused cigars, and I wanted to know the differences.  This is the Alpha Infused edition New Orleans,  which is a smaller half corona style, and popular enough that I took the last two in stock.  While there isn’t a ring on these, I do love the label on the inside of the cigar box.

Empty New Orleans Edition

I decided to light this up at a picnic among friends this past weekend. By some wonderful miracle, it was a gorgeous afternoon that did not rain during the time we all were eating and mingling.  It was lovely to have a pop-up tent, a steady breeze, a comfy camp chair, some grilled eats, the great company of some fantastic people, and a tasty cigar.

Alpha Infused edition New Orleans

While this particular version of the Alpha Infused is smaller, it’s certainly not short on flavor.  And honestly, it doesn’t look interesting as it’s sold only in a cellophane wrapper with no ring, no indication of what potential it has. Much like the larger cigar, this had a beautiful aroma before lighting.  A bit more floral in notes than the larger version, and spicy.  The New Orleans edition doesn’t have quite the amount of creaminess that had been in the larger cigar.   After lighting, it doesn’t ease up on the flavors.  This cigar is strong in the ways of the wormwood and absinthe spices.  Perhaps the smaller version just made the melange of flavors more compact and intense on delivery.

Edition New Orleans Foot

The draw is smooth and not too easy, which is good on a smaller cigar.  A foot was certainly doable, although I didn’t want to get it too long.  While in the large cigar the spiciness mellowed, that was not the case with the edition New Orleans.  This cigar does not ease up with any mellowness at all.  The spice flows along the smoke and it stays very steady through the whole of the stick– there’s a bit of the creaminess that I found fascinating in the large cigar, but it’s certainly a flavor you’d have to remember to find as it’s not very apparent.  This stick is a tiny intense smoke of deliciousness.  It will not go gentle into that night, and it was a perfect picnic smoke.

Island Life at Cigar Cave

Some Brothers and Sisters of the Leaf may not enjoy the infused or flavored cigars, and there are some that are best left on the shelf, but I really enjoy the CAO line of infused cigars, especially in their cigarillo and petit corona sizes.  Something about the smaller cigars really turns the infused cigar into a treat to enjoy.  I smoked this delightful Island Life after relishing the Hyde that I had found at the Cigar Cave, as I had wanted another cigar but I didn’t want to have a full Robusto size.

The Island life is a mix of Dominican fillers with a Cameroon wrapper, and it’s been infused with a spiced rum flavor. What I like about the CAO infusions is that they don’t slap you upside the head with a cloying fake flavor.  While it’s certainly not hiding the rum-ness, the infusion is well done so that it smoking this cigar feels more like an incense of rum around a cigar, as an essence that is a part of the experience of the cigar, but not the main showstopper.   Like someone found a Captain Morgan Spiced Rum scented candle and it happens to be burning as you smoke this cigar.

Island Life

The label is a simple affair with a nice bit of metallic blue along the edges, and the stick certainly smells of dark rum and tobacco before it’s lit. After lighting, I feel as though the spiced rum is a beautiful compliment to the lighter tobaccos in this little cigar.   The Dominican Republic fillers are a brighter flavor than their African wrapper and blend well with the spiced rum flavors.

The draw is very easy, and it’s not a challenge to develop a nice foot on this petit stick.  The biggest challenge is not smoking it too quickly! And while the light tobacco and dark rum were the main flavors, I am pleased to report that the last third of this stick actually gets a little peppery.  Perhaps that’s why I love the CAO infused so much– it’s not a one note flavor, they layer the aromas to make the smoke a bit more complex.   This is a delicious little number that nearly anyone can enjoy with a coffee,  I had it with the house Merlot, and I’m sure it would be amazing with any rum drink.

Alpha Absinthe Infused at Heights Cigars

The Heights Cigar Shop and Cafe is an adorable bungalow next to the Jug & Bottle in Seminole Heights.  While the location doesn’t currently have a license to sell alcohol, they do have events for tastings and pairings of beer, wine, and liquors with their cigars. They do have some seating and a poker table, and sell soft drinks to go with your stick, and I suspect BYOB wouldn’t be a bad idea if you have a preference for something to go with your smoke.  As it was on this trip and in the past, I have found that their humidor, while small, is stocked with unique cigars that I haven’t been able to find in other brick and mortar locations.  While I had seen an absinthe infused cigar here before, this time I noticed that they had more of a selection. I picked up a few, and one of the sticks I smoked recently was the Alpha Infused Connecticut.

Alpha Infused

Before lighting, the aroma of this cigar is definitely on the complex side.  The Connecticut wrapper lends a bit of a cut grass smell, but the bulk of the leaves are Cuban seeded Piloto Cubano, which is a creamy but spicy smell.  There is only one leaf in the cigar that is infused with absinthe, and I suspect that they roll it in to be towards the top as I could definitely get the aroma of wormwood before the cigar was lit.  I also really love the Art Deco feel on the cigar ring, this might become one of my favorite bits of cigar art.

After lighting, the eleventybillion spices (okay, fine, 15 spices) that go into making absinthe really blossomed. Not entirely peppery, the spices gave a bit of a tingle on the back of my tongue that I found enjoyable and not distracting from the cigar.  The smoke itself tends to linger as the cigar is inhaled, not rising immediately up but curling around before dissipating. At the beginning of the cigar, I could get some pine and coriander.  At the midpoint, the cigar got a little creamier, but no less spicy with a stronger pine and developing a bit of a citrus taste.  Towards the end of the cigar, the flavors mellowed a bit, and the citrus and spiced aromas were like a delicious holiday beverage, they blended well and were not overwhelming the tobacco that lend to a lovely smoke.

Alpha Infused Foot

The draw was smooth, but I seemed to have trouble keeping the stick lit and also with smoking it evenly — this may be more on me than the cigar, as a) It’s monsoon season here, so humidity is basically in the 95% range and b) tiny lady lungs may have needed to just take the time to draw, but I was enjoying the flavors so much that I might have been rushing it a bit.  Nevertheless, even in my impatience, I was able to get a really nice foot going.  Ashing this was with no difficulty and there weren’t a lot of strays.   I smoked this with an IPA, but I think it would go well with a nice vodka, a sparkling water, or citrus soda.  I think any other more nuanced alcohol or beverage would ruin the complex and diverse aroma that this cigar produces. This particular cigar has gotten good reviews from others, and I can certainly see why.  I hope to find these again at the Heights Cigar Shop.

Hex by Sindicato Cigar Group at Rolando’s

I had the opportunity to visit this charming but badass cigar lounge in what is downtown Dade City,  Florida–  Ronaldo’s . This a beautiful building in the area, and I was greeted at the door by one of the cigar dogs which instantly endeared me to the location.  While the humidor is small, it carried quite a few of the labels I would count on for a good smoke, as well as pipe tobacco and other smoking accessories.   While I picked up a Hex, my friend said that Roloando’s is the only brick and mortar shop where he’s found the Shock and Awe.

Shock and Awe vs Hex
Size matters

While we didn’t stay to smoke at this trip, I would love to in the future.  Rolando’s has dart boards, a billard table, a full bar, and did I mention cigar dogs?  The staff were super friendly and there did seem to be a fair amount of seating for the clientele.  I look forward to seeing these folks again.


One of two puppers

Back at my friend’s patio, the Hex was unwrapped– and I find it odd that the cigar ring was on the outside cellophane of the cigar, but that’s hardly a negative. I like to save the rings, so I cut it off later. I also liked the little nubbin on the cigar, and I felt like that could have been popped off to do a pseudo punch, but I opted for a straight cut anyway. Unlit, this cigar is a very strong leather aroma, with a bit of a nuttiness to temper that and keep it from being a little too overwhelming.

  1. Hex

After it was lit, the beginning of this stick had leather as still quite the star of the show in terms of aroma and flavor.  The nuttiness took on a distinctive hazelnut nuance which was a nice compliment.  This was definitely a cigar made for a stronger palate than a beginner, but I would not call the Hex a full on heavyweight.  The draw was fair to easy and I was able to make an impressive foot at several points while smoking this cigar.   At the midpoint of the cigar, all of the flavors really mellowed out and the smoke got a little easier.  At the end of the cigar, there was a bit of a bitterness I couldn’t quite place, but it did not end on an unpleasant note. It was just a different end than I had expected.  While this is a good cigar, I don’t generally see myself going out of my way to find it again.