Week in Smoke – TGT Edition

Week in Smoke37 Comments on Week in Smoke – TGT Edition

Week in Smoke – TGT Edition

Thanks for the feedback in the last episode of Week in Smoke. I do plan on doing more “themed” Week in Smoke episodes both for boutique and main stream cigars. I’m actually in the process of planning out the next episode with a focus within a certain General Cigar brand. If you have been around Stogie Review since the beginning you can probably guess which brand that is. This episode I have a nice assortment of cigars. One newcomer really took me by surprise and not in a good way, and it really didn’t have to do with the cigar but more with their relatively weak reply.

My first @tedscigars via @keith1911

Ted’s Made by Hand Connecticut Shade – Lets get the bad experience out of the way. With their strong presence in the social media world, Ted’s Made by Hand cigars have always caught my eye. I’ve actually spent time locally trying to find them and give them a chance. Luckily for me, a 6×50 Connecticut Shade version of their cigar made it’s way into my hands. Unfortunately, after I lighted the cigar I noticed a very weak draw and noticed smoke coming out of two small rounded holes.

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Needless to say that with these two small rounded holes my reaction was tobacco beetles. Luckily these come packaged in their own individual box so it was self-contained. Personally, I have never experienced a tobacco beetle problem so naturally its the only conclusion that makes sense to me. Let me say I know there is no way for ANY manufacturer to guarantee their products will be 100% free of beetle larva. Its the nature of the beast with an organic product like tobacco. Its bound to happen, can happen and does happen to every manufacturer. So the beetle thing is not “the” issue. What I think is the issue was the pretty weak reply I got from Ted’s Made by Hand Twitter account. No apology, no assurance that they take this seriously or even to use the opportunity as a teaching lesson by saying like I did above that these things happen. The DM just said to send an e-mail for replacement. A DM that said “hey Jerry, thats unacceptable…where did you get our product so I can follow up with that retailer to make sure things are on the up and up” would’ve been proactive. I don’t know. Am I being petty? Am I expecting too much? Is offering a replacement enough? If it was my brand, I would’ve replied more strongly. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

Starting my day here @wcurtisdraper with a Special R Tubo by @davidoff_cigars

Davidoff Special R Tubo – Due to pricing this isn’t something I typically look at let alone grab for but damn if I didn’t love it! Smooth, balanced and a delicate flavor profile. A nice touch of sweet creamy woodsy flavors that was just so smooth, clean and crisp. Impeccable construction. I don’t foresee a lot of these in my future but I’m looking forward to the next time the opportunity presents itself to indulge in such a decadent cigar.

Smoking a Hammer & Sickle Moscow City by @CigarAgency

Hammer & Sickle Moscow City – With my known love of the Tortuga Edicion Limitada aka Tortuga 215 I’ve been sporadically checking out the other offerings from Victor Vitale. I’ve been impressed with the Berlin Wall line as a great first cigar of the day. I picked up the Moscow City on a whim and it was enjoyable. I’m going to guess this is blended by Henke Kelner as it had a familiar Davidoff taste and smell bouncing off the wrapper. Flawless construction with a diverse flavor profile that I’m sure was lost on me as I smoked the Moscow City right after the above Special R. Looking forward to trying the Moscow City again without it being in the shadow of a Special R.

Let's try this @macanudo Vintage 1988

Macanudo Vintage 1988 – A $30 Macanudo? I had to do a double take to process that sticker shock. The Vintage 1988 was, to be honest, pretty refreshing and enjoyable. It surprised me. A solid mild to medium flavor but the Macanudo Vintage 1988 shines in the diversity of flavors that really have melded together for a pretty unique experience. The problem comes back to that sticker shock. If I had to choose between a Macanudo Vintage 1988 and the above Davidoff Special R…I’d pick up the Special R and pocket the change. Enjoyable cigar that I found to be very un-Macanduo like that if it was priced at about half I’d be more inclined to pick it up instead of reaching for a Special R.

Mmm...switching cigars and smoking a @guillermoleon_ 100 Anos Preferidos

La Aurora 100 Años Preferido – Lets keep the ball moving. My love for the 100 Años blend is no secret. Both the lancero and belicoso sizes have made multiple appearances here in the Week in Smoke series. I didn’t even know the 100 Años blend was made in La Aurora’s signature Preferido size. It wasn’t until Paul Spence of W.Curtis Draper-Bethesda introduced me to them recently. Just when I thought the 100 Años blend couldn’t get any better. This blend is simply perfection in the Preferido size. Delightful cigar that I wish I could have an endless supply of. If you see them…suck it up and stock up.

Another great @GuillermoLeon_ cigar a Don Fernando No. 4

Leon Jimenes Don Fernando No. 4 – Keeping the La Aurora love going with a regular here in the Week in Smoke series. I’ve said it time and time again; flawless construction, beautiful looking and tasty wrapper. A mello cocoa and earthy flavors accompany a subtle tang to make for a very very memorable and unique cigar made for a legendary man. “Hechos Especialmente Para Don Fernando Leon”. This is another one of those Cigar Hall of Fame worthy blends. Great value for such a rare gem.

Smoking a La Finca ... are these even still made?

La Finca – I believe my mother-in-law gifted me a box of these some six plus years ago. I found this unopened box in a bottom corner of one of my humidors. So I cracked the seal and popped it open. I know La Finca is an older brand that has no doubt gone through numerous changes. Mine were in a box but when I look online I see them in boxes, bundles and even an ammo can with some sizes denoting the use of mixed filler. So you will have to pay attention when buying. The box I have is a 20 count box of the Corona size. Nice subtle nutty sweetness to compliment a natural tobacco flavor that at times can be rough around the edges. At $2 a stick (when bought buy the box) its a good purchase to keep on hand.

A @epcarrillo Elencos Series Maduro Elites to start the day

EP Carrillo Elencos Series Maduro Elites – This is the second one of these I’ve been able to enjoy. I was gifted one by Ernie Carrillo during the W.Curtis Draper Little Puff and this one was gifted to me by John Anderson of W.Curtis Draper. What a great treat! Smelling the foot of the cigar makes you drool with its dark semi-sweet chocolate notes. That flavor stays with you upon lighting and is complimented by a smooth cedar woodsy flavor that creates a nice syrupy texture of flavors. Looking forward to smoking these on a regular basis.

Pimp'n @primermundo style

El Primer Mundo Rosado Oscuro – I don’t smoke a lot of cigars from Sean Williams and I really don’t have a good excuse not to. I can find them at some of my other local retailers. I like all the blends. I think the only excuse I have is every time I smoke one, I think of Brian Hewitt. LOL. I start smoking and as soon as the smoke starts to surround me its as if I can see Brian Hewitt’s face in the smoke and hear his fat boy laugh echoing in the background. LOL. Really, if a cigar provoked such God awful imagery would you smoke it regularly? LOL. In all seriousness, I have no excuse as I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve ever smoked for the Primer Mundo stables of Sean Williams and I vow to smoke more of them going forward.

Start the evening with an Oliva Serie G Maduro Torpedo

Oliva Series G Maduro – Like El Primer Mundo, I don’t smoke a lot of stuff from Oliva. Unlike El Primer Mundo I have a reason. For the most part, I don’t connect with anything from Oliva. There are exceptions here and there (Cain F below and the Cain Daytona come to mind) but like I said, for the most part, I don’t get excited by Oliva. The Series G isn’t for me. Nice construction and aroma but I was expecting more depth in flavors considering at the time, this was my first cigar of the day. I found the Oliva Series G Maduro just to fall flat on my pallet.

Smoking a @room101cigars Connecticut

Room101 Connecticut – A few episodes ago I mentioned how much I enjoy the original Room101 release more than the other two (Conjura and Namakubi) that have been released. What I had totally forgot about was the third LTD that was released at the 2011 IPCPR. The Room101 Connecticut has been overshadowed by the Namakubi. I liked the Room101 Connecticut a lot and was close to tracking down a box to purchase but I paused because it tasted and smoked pretty familiar. So the next day I went back to the humidor and smoked a Camacho Connecticut and while I’m not calling foul here the experience was pretty…identical. Camacho Connecticut is advertised as having a Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, Honduran binder and a filler made up of Honduran and Dominican tobaccos which is the exact same advertised makeup of the Room101 Connecticut. I’m 100% sure I’m wrong and there are substantial differences and not the superficial stuff I’ve mentioned. I’m sure the Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper for the Camacho didn’t come from Davidoff like the Room101 Connecticut does. Smoke them both for yourself and you be the judge.

Smoking a Cain F

Cain F – I get a lot of shit wrong. I’m probably wrong with the above Camacho/Room101 stuff but I was definitely wrong on the Cain F. With a years worth of age on the Cain F its totally not the rough, throat scratching, overpowering cigar that I remembered first smoking. This Cain F still had power but the rough edges had smoothed out and no more of that irritating throat scratching that I hate. This allowed more flavors to surface and compliment the power. What a difference a year can make. Will definitely be picking up more to keep on hand.


37 thoughts on “Week in Smoke – TGT Edition

  1. Another nice variety of smokes. I am able to put Brian’s face out of the picture when I smoke the EPMs and enjoy the hell out of them, lol. Sorry Brian! Are you overreacting to the response from Ted’s? Hell no. Any company that shows no concern for their customers will never get my business or money. Screw them, they’re definitely scratched off my list.

  2. Another great week in smoke can’t wait for your next themed week in smoke, also I really enjoyed the Pete Johnson videos from WCD

  3. Great week Jerry but my fab La Aurora so far is the 1492 which as I understand is based on the Perfidios (sp?) line which I’ve yet to try.

    Cigar beetles are the suck and as a brand owner, which I am NOT, I would be scared to hear the tale you told. That kind of thing can ruin a reputation. I would have put on my steel toes shoes and gone butt kicking til that problem was gone.

  4. Wow what a bust if the room 101 and camacho Connecticut are the same cigar? Kinda paints a picture about what Pete was talking about…

    1. Now now…I wanted to choose my words carefully. LOL. To me and my palate that tasted more than just similar…like I said, thats me. The things I pointed out are all superficial. There are lots of cigars that advertise the same components but taste completely different. Just in my case, they tasted the same.

      I was actually hesitant to post my thoughts cause I wasn’t sure if it was fair to Camacho/Room101 to do so based solely on superficial stuff. But in the end, I don’t answer to Camacho/Room101. I answer to our readers and have to be honest with my experience and thoughts.

  5. Good job Jerry…Smoking a Davidoff Special R Tubo right now and have to say that you are absoulutly correct…wonderful stuff.

    If I were a rich man,
    Yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum.
    All day long I’d biddy biddy bum.
    If I were a wealthy man.
    I wouldn’t have to work hard.
    Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
    If I were a biddy biddy rich,
    Idle-diddle-daidle-daidle man.

  6. I find the Camacho and Room101 to be very different. But I’ve only had the Camacho in larger sizes and the Room101 in smaller. But when you look at the make up (which I hadn’t before) they do seem like the same blend.

  7. Your right Jerry Mr. Booth and the guys from Camacho are all good guys. I don’t really think they would do that to us. I was just feeling all inspired by what Pete said lol!

  8. Your Week in Smoke columns are some of my favorites of all cigar blogs. The honesty of your comments is spot-on. And, none of that “BS” you get from some other reviewers about cigars that taste like ripe pear and burnt caramel with just a hint of heirloom tomato and gingersnap. I would, though, love to see you mention the price of the stogies listed in your Week in Smoke. Keep up the great work!

  9. Cain Habano/ Daytona Cigar smoked better after a year in the Humidor. They are smooth, sweet, and less tobacoo strength in the big ring size.

  10. So I read this yesterday and on my way from work stopped by my B&M and picked up a Davidoff Special R Tubo…holy crap! I 100% agree that its a super cigar! Nice clean taste and flavors. Here we are the next morning and I’m looking at my budget wondering if I can afford to pick up a box. If I do, I’ll be sure to send you a couple Cruz! I don’t know whether to thank you or curse you! LOL

  11. I think you may be way off with the Camacho/Room 101 Conny thing. I haven’t had a Camacho Conny for quite a while, but I remember it being one of the tastiest mild cigars I had ever had. The Room 101…not so much (sorry, Matt). I’ve had 3 or 4 of them since they came out and none has impressed me all that much…decent smoke, but I can think of 5 other Connecticuts in my local shop that I’d rather spend my money on (and my local shop doesn’t carry the Camacho Conny).

  12. About the Ted’s Made by Hand…I applaud you for mentioning that tobacco beetles are an industry thing and can/does happen to anyone. With that said, I agree 100% that their reply to CUSTOMER was very weak. I think if they would’ve taken a more proactive approach, like you mentioned. At the end of the day, the cigar has their name on it and they should own all the problems even if it isn’t their fault.

    About Camacho/Room101 thing…I smoked both. Similar? Yes. Identical? No. I think the Camacho Connecticut has more power whereas the Room101 has a more refined/delicate finish.

  13. Wow…what a pathetic reply from Ted’s Made by Hands! This is the perfect example of how not to reply to anyone whether they be a customer or popular blogger. I’ll be honest, I thought you were going to pull out the “don’t you know who I am” card. LOL. Seriously, I’m glad to see that you aren’t scared to publish your experiences and opinions. I’m sure sometimes you aren’t the most popular person in their view but if they take a step back that you are actually doing them a service and making them aware of, what could be, a potential issue. What if the whole batch of these are more susceptible to the larva hatching because of the lined packaging retaining too much heat. So when stored at 70/70 inside that lining its actually 74 degrees.

    I hope you keep us informed if you hear from them but by the weak reply on Twitter, I doubt you will.

  14. Hey Jerry! Nice week in smoke! I like this series more than your reviews and I love your reviews.

    I had a Davidoff Special R Tubo a few weeks ago at a wedding. In fact it was a wedding favor from the groom. Lots of people (non-smokers) didn’t take them so I ended up with a nice collection of them. Your concise write up of them couldn’t be more spot on.

    I agree with you and most everyone who has chimed in about the Ted’s Made by Hand thing. The beetle holes isn’t the issue and I’m glad you took the time to educate your readers that this isn’t something isolated to Ted’s Made by Hand. You are absolutely correct that their reply was weak. Would they have replied like that if Cigar Aficionado or other traditional media had an experience like you did? I don’t think they would.

    As always…my 2 cents.

  15. Mr. Cruz thank you for letting me comment again on another enjoyable post by you. What a nice diversified week of cigars.

    Like I’ve mentioned previously I’ve been a smoker of over 50 years. You and I share the same opinion of the Davidoff Special R Tubo. It is one of my favorite smokes of all time. Unfortunately I’m on social security so I am unable to enjoy them as much as I use to or would like to.

    Customer service isn’t what it use to be and thats sad. With so many different cigar companies out with so many cigars tasting the same, customer service is one of the few areas where a company can use to set themselves a part from others. Why am I going to spend my limited funds on your product just to be essentially ignored when I have a problem? Regardless of who is at fault. The cigar industry is based on relationships, the reply you received from Ted’s Made by Hand was not only weak as you put it, it was unprofessional.

  16. Jerry – Wow that sucks about Ted’s Made by Hand. You’d think with such a portfolio that includes Maker’s Mark that they be a little more customer friendly. Really makes me rethink supporting companies that don’t respect or appreciate their customers.

    I want to thank you for turning me onto the Tortuga 215. Excellent cigar! I will have to see if my local B&M carries the Moscow City or Berlin Wall.

    Its nice to see you revisit cigars that originally didn’t hit with you. I have a couple Cain F in my humidor for awhile now so I will have to dig them up. They didn’t impress me much at first either.

  17. Man whoever handles the Twitter handle for Ted’s Made by Hand needs some serious customer service training! I’ve seen warmer replies from automated systems. LOL. Really sucks to be treated like that Jerry. We work hard for our money and at least want to feel like our business is appreciated. Like you said, its not the bettle holes that are the problem, its how they responded to you that is.

  18. Thats probably the worst reply to a customer I’ve ever seen in the cigar industry. But hey Jerry, at least you (and now us) know what brand not to spend our money on. If they can’t accept or handle a problem with their product then Ted’s Made by Hand doesn’t deserve our business.

  19. What a sad sad reply you got from Ted’s Made by Hand. Really? Not appropriate to treat anyone, let alone a customer like that. I’m sure “replacing” the cigar is their standard reply and thats cool of them to offer a replacement. I think they could’ve used their 140 characters more effectively. With tobaccos beetles being such a common thing you would think they would have a plan in place on how to handle this. Their curt reply shows they did not.

  20. If everything Jerry says is true then absolutely that was a poor poor response to a customer. I have no reason to doubt Jerry’s side but we all know there are two sides to every story. I find it a bit funny that Jerry posts pictures of the beetle holes but doesn’t post a picture of the reply he got. Was that really all that the DM said was e-mail for replacement? Seems a bit short of a reply for something so serious and from a reputable manufacturer.

  21. Thanks everyone for taking the time to weigh in. Since this posted, I actually got an e-mail from Ted’s Made by Hand yesterday afternoon and that e-mail was much more informational than the original DM I received.

  22. Wow, hate to jump off the bandwagon, but I know the Ted’s guys, and they’re normally very personable, nice, and always willing to help. Maybe an auto-reply? I mean, that sucks, too, but I’m much more inclined to give them a break rather than get the tar and pitchforks out for one fumble. Even if it is was the Great Torpedo.

    On another subject, great article again, Jerry. Really appreciate all the effort to put these together on a weekly basis. Good work, man.

  23. Boo-hoo…I got tobacco beetles and the manufacturer only offered to replace it. Get a hold of yourself man! Big f’n deal. What do you want them to do? Give you a whole box? Come grovel at your feet? Typical cigar weasel in the form of a blogger. “look at me…give me free smokes”. Get over yourself dude!

    Why single Ted’s Made by Hand out if tobacco beetles are so common? If they replied the way you wanted them to you would be bashing them for stating the obvious! So maybe there product has tobacco beetles or maybe the retailer didn’t take care of them or dare I say, you didn’t store them properly. If I was them I would’ve just ignored you but then you would be complaining they ignored you.

    Like I said, get over yourself dude and just continue to be a cigar snob smoking your $20 Davidoffs and $30 Macanudos and pretending to be one of us while you do it.

  24. Heard good things about the E.P. Carillo maduro line. I didnt really care for the Short Run but I am seriously looking at picking some Encantos up. What is your favorite size in the maduro line?

  25. So have you ever been smoking and heard a loud pop? Happened to me once. Read that it was a larve exploding. Yummy.

    So why the different sized holes? Small on the way in and fat and happy on the way out? lol

    Had my first Cain F Lancero last week. I was surprised how mild it was.

    Great article as usual.

  26. Sammy, I think your reacting more to the comments made then to what Jerry stated. As I read it, he didn’t want a replacement but more of a quality assurance style post saying they would look into it to make sure it’s an anomaly associated with hand made products and 99.9% of their customers have not had problems due to the fact they freeze their cigars prior to shipping.

    That’s a normal procedure and since that wasn’t the reply, it leaves the question unanswered which is do they freeze their cigars prior to shipping? If they do not then the buyer should know not to age them before they freeze them.

    Or just don’t age them and smoke them.

    I would appreciate a little follow up from the manufacturer as to whether or not they freeze the cigars before shipping.

  27. now that you’ve posted a screenshot of the twitter message you were sent, i think you are overreacting. i mean, i was leaning that way before i saw it, but i’m leaning that way more now. i think people do sometimes expect way too much when it comes to customer service. i’m not saying YOU expected way too much, it’s just a general comment. i don’t think you were wrong to expect more, but, really…why do you need more? to make you feel better? to soothe your troubled soul? the fact that they’re offering you a replacement, i think, is the important part. the rest is all politics.

    on the other hand, i don’t know who wrote that tweet, but i’m guessing it’s not someone they hired for their excellence in diplomacy. i imagine Ted’s is a smaller company, which probably doesn’t have the money to throw at hiring a crack customer service expert. it’s probably because they still haven’t grasped the power that social media has gained.

    on another note, i think you’re very right about the 101 Conn. being overshadowed by the Namakubi. when i tried the Conn. at the Seattle Cigar Expo i was blown away by how good and flavorful it was. it’s part of a new generation of Conn. shade-wrapped cigars that make me glad i haven’t outgrown the mild-medium selection that’s available.

    1. cigaronist – your money must not be important to you. When I pay for something whether it is a product or a service and that product or service is faulty (through no fault of my own) or not as promised…I think the customer is due an apology and replacement. Its NOT POLITICS…its called good business in a business where relationships with the customer is the biggest factor.

      Also saying Ted’s Made by Hand doesn’t have the resources for customer service is a cop out. Its the same people who own Makers Mark and Grand Marnier.

      As one of SR’s biggest critics of late…this is one instance where I was surprised by Jerry’s subdued response. LOL

    2. Why do I need more? – Fair question. Like I said, tobacco beetles can affect anyone. I think I would’ve liked to have had a reply that said they take these things seriously and they do everything in their power to minimize larva in their tobacco. It speaks to quality control. If I am to purchase their cigars again, I’d like to know that they do their due diligence instead of just assuming they do.

      1. It speaks not only to quality control, but to how much they value their customers. Even if they are a small company, they should realize that it’s paramount to reach out to their customer base should anything go wrong, to explain their policies and what they will do to rectify the situation. There are owners of much smaller companies who take the time to personally contact their clientele to give explanations and make amends if problems arise. In a competive market, good customer service can make a world of difference, and should run from top to bottom in the company structure. Poor or indifferent customer service would not get my return business.

        1. IMO Jerry’s commentary above is well considered.

          First, he is correct…it could happen to anyone.

          Second, he is correct…any feedback from a customer is a gift, not a burden. Positive or negative. In this case, it would have been more appropriate for the vendor to dig deeper and use the opportunity to a) find out if this was an isolated issue or a sign of a more significant quality issue and b) build on the relationship with a customer who took the time to reach out and provide feedback in a private way.

          The response, unfortunately, is typical of many manufacturers of goods of all types….take a freebie and go away.

          My two cents.

  28. I’d like to add on to what Jerry states about QC on cigars and beetles. First here’s a great video posted by Gordon Mott as he discusses how he combats the bugs and how he lost 150 cigars to them!!!

    Second I got hit by them as well and changed my cigar storage to a thermo electric wine cooler to keep the temperature at around 65 degrees and have been bug free for three years.

    That being said, there is no way in hell I’ll buy a Ted’s Hand Made to store with my cigars until I hear more about what they do to control or prevent beetles. Many people go so far as freezing all of the cigars they buy just in case.

    The single biggest concern to a cigar collector is beetles. Mold is a distant second.

    This is why a manufacturer needs to stand up and take note when someone complains or the consumers that buy and have 100+ cigars stored away won’t buy without taking their own precautions. To those that buy and smoke it’s no big deal.

  29. A $30 Mac? Anyone remember the Volkswagen Phaeton? I didn’t think so… I predict these Vintage 88s go the same route.

    Good stuff as usual, dude.

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