Monday, December 31, 2007

Zippo Windproof Pocket Lighters: A Lighter for a Lifetime

Zippo, I think it is safe to say that most everybody knows that it’s a lighter. I would venture, that not many know about their guarantee of repair service forever. Oh, did I mention that they do not charge for this perk. How remarkable in today’s disposable culture, a company is willing to stand behind its product at no cost and regardless of the circumstance!

I was in my garage a couple of weeks ago, when I found two old Zippo lighters. Both of these lighters were heavily used and neither of them would light. The hinges on the lids and their finishes were worn. These two lighters had definitely lit a lot of cigarettes and the occasional cigar. I decided to retire them with the few Case knives occupying my dresser drawer. I felt that here was the proper resting place for such faithful servants. I had forgotten about my lighters, until last night, when my lovely wife asked, if I knew that Zippo would fix my lighters for free. I grabbed my computer and surfed over to the Zippo website.

I got to Zippo's website, prepared to look high and low, for this fine print guarantee, and was shocked to see repairs right there on the top of the screen. The fine folks at Zippo have made it very easy to locate all the information necessary to get your lighter repaired. There is a frequently asked question page, which covers repairs and Zippo products. The Repair Clinic page describes the repair facility and provides contact information for the center. They also give us an opportunity to read the guarantee at the Zippo Guarantee link. The most important link to read carefully, is the How to send your Zippo Windproof lighter in for repair page. Here is where you find the step by step instruction you need to follow if you want to send a lighter in for repair. There is also repair information for those who live across the pond, at the European Repair Instruction link. I have to say that I am very impressed with Zippo’s commitment to satisfaction. This is truly a unique feature of this company.

Well, as far as my two Zippo lighters go, I think I am going to keep them right where they are at. I would love nothing more to have both of them restored to good working condition, lighting an occasional cigar, but I just don’t want to risk losing them. The reason for my reluctance is the lighters belonged to my grandfather; he carried one of the two with him at all times. He lit many Lucky Strikes and the occasional cigar with those lighters, and I like them just as they are. However, when I buy a new Zippo, I will do so with the confidence that my grandson, if he wants, can have my Zippo restored.

If you have a Zippo Windproof Lighter and you want to have it repaired, here is the link.

Zippo Manufacturing Company

Saturday, December 29, 2007

My Tips For Buying Cigars

I am always trying a new cigar, in an attempt to development my must have favorites and expand my tastes. When I first started purchasing my smokes I would wander through the humidors looking at the different brands. I quickly found, that I would grab a couple cigars I had already sampled and only buy one of what I was going to try. This worked but I quickly realized, that when I smoked my one new selection and liked it I was out. Like in the retail business you can't sell from an empty cart, you can't smoke from an empty humidor. With the retail thought process in mind, I have amended my buying practices, I always buy at least two of whatever I am going to try. One to show and on to go, or if you like one to smoke and one to save. I find that this allows me to smoke my cigar knowing that if I like it, I have a second one in the box waiting to be called up for duty. I try to do this with anything I plan to write about. This allows me to smoke a second cigar if something wasn't clear about the first and to ensure that the smoke is consistent between sticks. This is particularly handy if you do not have that local smoke shop and resupply could be road trip away. I also look for sample packs that offer two of each cigar in them. They are a great way to try different brands and use the one to smoke and one to save method. When you find that one cigar that makes the favorite list go ahead and buy a box.

I also determined that my mind is powerless inside a walk in humidor, the power of choice is an overwhelming thing. I read a lot of cigar reviews, catalogs, websites, and blogs to gather information on cigars I smoke and especially the one I would like to smoke. Armed with all my info I would enter the humidor only to find myself unable to make my selections. I know that next line does go against man code, but I do suggest to make a list. If you don't have to use it great, but at least having a list helps to ensure that you grab the ones came after. I love to walk the humidor and enjoy the aroma of cedar and cigars, so a list for me is a must or I would never be able to leave.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Poll Results: What Is The Most Important Characteristic of a Smoke Shop?

The results are in, atmosphere is the most important characteristic in a smoke shop! The aroma of lit cigars and cedar, people smoking and enjoying each others company, a friendly and helpful staff all make up that all important atmosphere. I agree, atmosphere is a must!

In this week's poll we are wondering at what age did you smoke your first cigar? Please take a moment and click your answer. Think about your first cigar moment story and be ready to share it with us next week when we post the results!

If you have a great smoke shop or smoke shop story now is the time to share them! Leave us a comment. Post em if Got em!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Padron 2000 Maduro & "Vacation Coffee"

I mentioned in the last post that I was enjoying my last vacation day with my son and a Padron 2000 Maduro. I have to say that I just love to look at this cigar, let alone smoke it. The box pressed shape and the feel of this Nicaraguan cutie impress an immediate sense of enjoyment. The meticulous attention to detail of wrapper selection and construction was evident in this Padron. I was eager to get started so I made my cut and checked the taste, a coffee overtone with a hint of spiciness.

The first few draws from my Padron were nice and steady. The earthy aroma of the smoke and the taste's of the cigar set me to thinking. My thoughts soon settled on a favorite memory of what I like to call my vacation coffee. We have breakfast at the same place just about every morning while we are on vacation at Myrtle Beach. The coffee at the Spring House is unlike any that I have been able to find. Trust me I have looked and experimented, yet nothing I have tried has came close. Nothing can match that "vacation" cup of joe. This cigar is like my vacation coffee, even though I have smoked a lot of maduros this one is unlike any that I have came across. The Padron 2000 offered me that unique taste of coffee and spice through out the cigar. I found myself totally relaxed enjoying each and every puff, and just like my vacation coffee, I found myself ready for another cigar almost immediately as my first finished up. The overall taste of this cigar was not overpowering but offered a nice consistent taste experience anyone could enjoy. The process of hand selecting and aging the tobacco used in this cigar truly makes it special.

While my vacation coffee comparison is a unique association only to me, it furthers my belief that a great cigar should evoke feelings and memories. I can't help but think you could find a memory similar to mine brought to life by a Padron 2000.

I have been told that the one ingredient that makes everything better is vacation. If I ever move to the beach and become a regular I will test that theory on the coffee and post my findings. Until then I will just substitute a Padron for my "vacation coffee"

Friday, December 21, 2007

My Last Vacation Day: Shopping and Smoking

Well today is Friday, three days until Christmas and my last vacation day of 2007. My plan for the day was a simple one, pick up the lovely wife's gifts, purchase her stocking stuffers and return to headquarters. My partner for the day was the boy. Our destination was the center of the universe, The Pink Bee.

With our plan in place we set off on our mission. We had to take a slight detour and do some work at first, but we soon were back on track headed for the Bee. We arrived and found that our girls had all our purchases wrapped and ready to go. Brittany, assisted with our last minute additions and our shopping was complete. We loaded up and stated back to the house. We arrived ahead of mom, so we went ahead and put her presents under the tree. Mission complete.

I looked around the living room and decided that the boy and I needed to have a quick meeting. The way I saw it, we could score some major brownie points by cleaning the house before mom got home or we could take advantage of the nice weather outside and have a cigar and blow some bubbles. The debate that ensued would rival any in the history of debate. The decision was a cigar and bubbles. I know, the boy is such a bad influence on me, but majority rules and I think he voted three times.

I opted for a Padron 2000 Maduro and the boy decided that the vintage yellow bottle of bubbles he had been aging in the garage all summer would be the best for such an occasion. I never second guess him, he knows his bubbles. We both settled in, the boy in the driveway and I sat in the garage. I had been looking forward to trying the Padron since I had bought them a couple of weeks ago. The cigar looked perfect and I could only imagine the taste would be the same. I took the fist draw and my suspicions were confirmed. The draw was perfect, the taste was great. The boy continued to blow bubbles and I puffed on my cigar. We both enjoyed our relaxing time in the unbelievable December weather. I sat there with my notebook jotting down a few notes on the Padron and having the occasional Daddy moment; watching as my son did something his mother would kill me for letting him do. We sat there in the garage talking to the mailman and a few neighbors as the passed by. Everyone seemed to be in that unmistakable spirit of the holidays. When I usually think of Christmas, like most people I imagine snow and cold weather, but I will settle for the warm weather and a good smoke. I couldn't not have found a better way to use my last vacation day of 2007. A great day to sit back and relax with my number one buddy and a fine cigar. I better post this quickly and straighten up a bit. A few brownie points never hurt a cigar or bubble connoisseur.

The Padron 2000 Maduro review in its entirety will be posted soon

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cigars and My Budget

Like most leisure activities that I enjoy, the cigar hobby can be an expensive one. My experience in this area comes from my other disease, golfitis. The latest driver, putter, greens fees, and balls the list goes on and on. Luckily for me my love of golf and a premium smoke do go hand and hand. However, just like I found in golf, there are inexpensive ways to make my habit more affordable. The Internet can be a wonderful place. It has provided a way to buy the latest and greatest golf equipment at very nice affordable prices. If you are a golfer I would not care to bet that there is at least one or two clubs that were purchased from an Internet site. I would further wager that they probably came by way of eBay. Before you go rushing off to see what smokes you can find on eBay, I must tell you that there not available. You can however find loads of cigar memorabilia and accessories. I have to say that I really advocate going to your local tobacco shop. The local shops are really the better choice to buy your cigars and enjoy the atmosphere that only they can provide. However, if that is not an option the Internet is a great alternative.

Buying cigars on the Internet does have its advantages and disadvantages. I have found that most places sell box quantities only, but there are some that will sell by the stick. If you are like me, and are still trying find that elusive must have everyday cigar, buying boxes of one type is just not practical. I did find a cool way to try some cigars and not have to buy a box of each to do so. I recently bought a variety sampler from a company on the Internet. The package had nine premium hand rolled smoke from some big name companies. I got some Rocky Patels, a Padron, a Maxx and a Cohiba just to name a few. The price for the package and shipping was around twenty-five dollars; making each cigar around three bucks a piece. This definitely was a pretty good price on such cigars. I have to admit that the thought of buying cigars site unseen was a bit unnerving, but at this cost I thought it may be worth a try. I waited patiently, okay I was not patient at all, but they did finally arrive. It took about a week for my purchase to arrive, and I was impressed by the way it was shipped. The cigars were individually wrapped in cellophane, collectively wrapped in bubble wrap, and shipped in heavy duty card board box. Upon inspection I found each to be in very good shape, wrapper consistency and construction all meet expectations. Along with my smokes I got a catalog full of other samplers at prices that would fit just about any budget.

My experience with cigars bought over the Internet so far has been a good one. I will have to say that I will probably purchase more cigars in the future using this method. On the con side of the coin, you are buying site unseen. I felt that the price per cigar offset that risk. I always suggest with any Internet purchase to check out the company before you purchase anything. Check to see if they have a phone number and call it. See how they answer the phone and ask some questions. Request a catalog, take note of the quality of what they send. Research them on the Internet, look for blogs, forums or message boards, people love to tell others about good and mainly bad experiences. If you still feel unsure, head to your normal cigar supplier.

Please if you have had a good or a bad experience let us know. Post a comment!

Here are a few places that I would recommend to check out. I know that there are others out, but I try to only link to places that I have bought from or have check into. If you have a favorite Internet based cigar supplier, please let me know!

Famous Smoke Shop
Leaf And Ale
Thompson Company

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Record Weather, A Regalo Cigar

The weather Monday night was a record breaker for December, so I decided that such an occasion called for a celebration. My celebration came in the form of a smoke out on the back porch. The cigar I selected for my celebration was one of the Regalos I had picked up on my stop at Leaf & Ale. The Regalo, is a blend of Dominican and Nicaraguan tobaccos, wrapped in a Nicaraguan Viso Leaf. This cigar is manufactured especially for the folks at Leaf & Ale, so it is available only at their shop. Don't worry they have a website and I'm sure that if want to try a box, they will ship them right out to you. I was impressed by the overall construction and appearance of the cigar. The wrapper was consistent and the cigar appeared to be rolled perfectly. I am a big fan of the color blue, so I really liked the blue on the band.

I cut my cigar and headed out to the back porch. The first thing I noticed on the cold taste was the spicy taste the Regalo had. I was curious how this cigar would match up to my normal milder variety of smokes, so far so good. I lit my cigar and took the first draw. It was a nice even drawing cigar, and that peppery taste was there. I have to say that I found that to be a nice aspect of this cigar. The spiciness stayed throughout the length of the smoke, building as it progressed, but it never became to overpowering for my taste. I really enjoyed this characteristic of the cigar. The cigars I smoke on a more regular basis are more subtle and stay consistent during the cigar, this cigar gives you an opportunity to follow the taste as it builds. This is the type of cigar you could sit down with friends and discuss the taste from start to finish.
My overall impression of the Reglo is that it has all the hallmarks of a fine cigar. The appearance, construction, aroma, and burn rate... all certainly top shelf. The taste, in my opinion, is one the full bodied lover or the mild crowd can enjoy. This smoke could be a regular everyday stogie or that special occasion treat, whatever that occasion might be.

What Makes A Great Cigar?

There are many ways you can answer this question. Many factors influence the cigar and how we feel about them. There are obvious characteristics that a person should look for as well as those characteristics that are subtle in nature. The obvious things are construction and appearance. Both are an important aspect to check before you buy the cigar. The less obvious thing is the taste. The taste of a cigar is a very personal thing. You and I can smoke the same cigar and have two very different ideas of what we enjoyed about it. Appearance, construction, aroma, and taste all make up the cigar’s personality. Each are important, but above all the one that I always try to savor the most is, the moment. The setting, the company you keep, the occasion you are celebrating, that to me is what makes a great cigar. I enjoy the quiet time or my conversations with my wife while we sit out back and enjoy the evening. I enjoy watching my son run around with his Café Crème sample hanging out of the corner of his mouth. He doesn’t want any fire on the end of his cigar. That is the one thing that cigars have above my other pastimes, to really do it right, and you have to take the time to enjoy the finer points of the cigar. No rushing, just take the time to reflect on the taste and enjoy the aroma of life.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

My Trip To Leaf & Ale

The tobacco shop is a place to buy cigars. This is a pretty simple definition; however there are a few shops that are not that easy to define. Like the cigars they sell, they are complex and unique and the great ones keep you coming back for more. I am in the unfortunate situation in that I do not have the luxury of a local tobacco shop. I have to travel to some distance to get to a shop. The upside of my dilemma is that I have found some great places to buy my smokes. The most recent place I have discovered is Leaf and Ale in Knoxville. This place was awesome. I was greeted with a warm hello and a killer aroma of cigar smoke as soon as I walked in the door. A quick look around told me I was in the right place. The shop had plenty of things to look at, humidors, accessories and most of all people. There were quite a few folks in the lounge area smoking cigars, which is good to see anymore. The atmosphere alone was well worth the drive. The walk in humidor was very well stocked. I was very well pleased with the selection as well as the prices. Anything you could want, I think I spent an hour just in the humidor. I could not help but notice the amount of people coming in and picking up cigars. I also picked up on the fact that the staff called almost everybody by name, how cool is that. After a few trips around the humidor and the realization that I could not buy them all I made my selections and headed back out into the store. I took a minute to look around at the lagers and ales that they carried, again quite a large selection. They also had coffee, pipes and pipe accessories. Reluctant to leave I settled up and headed out. Leaf and Ale is definitely one really great shop. I will stop by anytime I am in Knoxville and I highly recommend that you do the same. If you would like to see what they carry and get more information check out their website They are definitely worth the drive or the click. To see what I ended up with on my trip be sure to look at the new arrival section. The Regalo is Leaf and Ale’s house blend cigar, and I can’t wait to try it.
Got a good Cigar Shop story? We would love to hear it!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Duke of Devon

The boy and I decided that today would be the perfect day to finish up our Christmas Lights. The weather outside is pretty warm, which makes it perfect for a good smoke. Laura rounded up our supplies and I headed for the humidor. Too many choices for a Saturday. I thought for a moment and finally settled on one of the Macanudo Maduro Duke of Devons. This so far has become my favorite go to cigar. The 5 1/2 by 42 ring gauge corona, has a very mild and mellow taste, a staple for Macanudo. This particular cigar I have had in the humidor for almost two months, an experiment if you will. I bought it at the Tinder Box while on vacation at Myrtle Beach, and decided to age it awhile. Like a cat curiosity got the better of me. So I decided to fire it up.

The dark Connecticut Valley broad leaf wrapper is what makes this cigar distinct. It produces a very mellow flavor. Macanudos are know for their consistent flavor, and this one was no exception. The extra ripening time produces the dark oily wrapper. Upon initial inspection the cigar felt perfect. It cut great and lit properly. This assured me my humidor was doing what it was supposed to. I also picked up a hint of the cedar as well as.

The long white ash is common with the maduro wrapper. The aroma is great. It really doesn't overpower the cigar. The draw of the this cigar was perfect. A good cut does make a difference in the way your cigar burns. Too small of a cut and the cigar will not draw properly, while too large it will burn to hot and become bitter. You also run the risk of the wrapper unraveling. It does take some practice and luckily I cut this one right.

The taste of this cigar stayed consistent from start to finish. The medium body makes this cigar very enjoyable. The Macanudo Mudro's aroma reminds me of a smoke shop I visit in Lexington. It is a great way to spend an afternoon hanging Christmas lights with the family. As the next few pictures show one of the cool aspects of this cigar is the ash. The ash fell three times over the smoke. It took about an hour and a half from start to finish. This makes it ideal for those end of the day or hanging out with friends smokes. The time is really well spent with this one.
Well as you can see the cigar did finally come to an end and we did manage to get the lights up. All that is left to now is to head in for our camp on the couch night.

I highly recommend The Macanudo Maduro, and would love to know what you think about it. Try it out or let me know your favorite maduro, I am always looking to add to my favorites list!

Good To The Last Puff!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Twenty-Four Days and Counting

Well here we are, the Christmas clock is ticking and I have to get busy. This is my favorite time of the year. There are a lot of things to get done in a relatively short time, so a plan is a must.

Lets take a quick look at stage one, the time frame. The month is shaping up nicely so far. I have three vacation days left and with a little strategic planning I have been able to secure two three day weekends and the long five day break over Christmas. This should allow for plenty of time for shopping, wrapping, and relaxing with a few good cigars.

Stage Two is shopping. The boy is in full “I want that mode” so his list is increasing daily. We will be lucky if Santa can have all of his stuff taken care of by New Year’s. I have most of my shopping done for my wife, thanks to my Gift Consultants, Lisa and Theresa at The Pink Bee. So I only have a few things to pick up and the wife’s list will be complete. That just leaves my customers, and most of them I can take care of in stage three.

The next stage is vital, Stage Three: The shopping trip to Lexington or Knoxville. At this point I’m not really sure what the destination is, but I am sure that it will be a challenge. I’m not big on the malls and crowds. The Wife however is a champion. I am looking forward to a good meal and the trip to the smoke shop. Unfortunately, my little town of Somerset doesn’t have a cigar shop, so I try to stock up when I can. So that brings me to my holiday cigar and spirit list. Both are a must to get through the holidays.

I mentioned to my wife’s brother at Thanksgiving about bringing a few cigars to our Christmas Day gathering at my wife’s parents. Of course I have images of the guys standing around on the back patio enjoying a Maker’s Mark Bourbon Cigar with a glass of what else Maker’s Mark Bourbon. So Three Maker’s Cigars, I always have the bourbon. I have been itching to try Padron’s cigars. Two Padron’s. I know that I have to pick up a box of my favorite Macanudo Maduro. I have decided that if you are going to be the cigar guru of the group you need to be well stocked on both knowledge and smokes. The Maduro’s have a great balanced taste, and is one that I feel the guys will enjoy. One box of Macanudo Maduro. I will also have to pick up something in a flavored smoke for my girls at the Bee. When the gang gets together, a fine flavored cigar is a must. I will opt for either an Oliveros Cognac or maybe a few Acids. I will need at least five or six. I will have to pick up a fifth of Gentlemen’s Jack to round out the bar and I should be set.

Well now comes the hard part, the execution. I will have to be at the top of my game to pull this one off. The wife is smarter than I am so the smoke shop and liquor stores will be the last stops on out shopping trip, which means best behavior. No whining, no temper, or no stogies and booze. Who ever said Santa Claus’s rules were tough, must have never met my wife when we shop.

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