A Comparison: Hoyo La Amistad & AJ Fernandez Enclave

 

In the world of cigars, there are many different and similar types of smokes out there.  There is no doubt individual cigar makers have certain styles and some similar characteristics can be found among their different blends.  One of our loyal customers at our 8 to 8 cigar lounge believed that the newly released Hoyo de Monterrey La Amistad, blended by AJ Fernandez and sold by General Cigar Company, was an identical cigar to AJ’s own Enclave release.  Having the chance to smoke both cigars numerous times, it did spark some curiosity of my own, as I remembered the blends to have similar profiles.  It was time to put it to the test…

 

Aesthetically, there are a couple of differences.  The Enclave is about 1/4 inch longer and has a closed foot.  Both wrappers are a very similar reddish brown color, however they are about a shade apart, the Hoyo being the lighter shade of the two.  The sheen of the oils is very similar as well.  I cut them both with a straight guillotine, and the cold draws were identical.  Closing my eyes and randomly taking a draw, I could honestly not tell them apart other than one being a much looser draw than the other.

 

It was now time to light them up.  The first few puffs on the Hoyo brought an intense spicy note to the palate, while the Enclave was a lot more subdued and had a tighter draw.  This surprised me a bit, because I remember the Enclave to have a spicy start to it, but it was much less prevalent than on the Hoyo Amistad.  In no way do I believe that the Enclave lacks in spice, but in a side by side comparison the Amistad had a lot more spice on the forefront.  For the first part of the smoke, the Amistad maintained the spice, with a nuttier flavor on the backend, while the Enclave had a very crisp taste with citrus notes.  The Enclave was sweeter in comparison.

 

Towards the middle of the smokes, the Spice in the Amistad stayed fluent while the backend nutty notes, turned more into coffee and earthy notes.  The Enclave started to pick up a bit in strength.  Still not as intense as the Hoyo, but it was definitely getting more similar.  The citrus notes turned more into a creamy sensation.  At this point it was just not quite as bold as the flavors I was getting from the Amistad.

 

As the smokes reached their finish, The Amistad’s complexity faded along with the spice.  It ended with some general earthy tones and smoothed out quite a bit.  The Enclave continued to get a bit stronger as the smoke progressed, and a spice began to pop out a bit.  Nowhere near to the level that the Amistad previously had, but definitely a spice that I remembered from smoking it in the past.  It just became a lot more noticeable now that the Amistad’s spice has faded.

 

Conclusion:  They are not the same cigar.  However, they are extremely similar cigars.  Smoking these separately, I could definitely see how someone could confuse one for the other.  Smoking them side by side really drowned out the similar flavors, and let the strengths and unique notes be discovered by the palate.  Both are great cigars from AJ’s factory, and I highly recommend trying both of them to see for yourself.

 

 

Plume or Mold? The Age Old Question.

You open your humidor.  You see some splotchy white spots on your cigar.  You fear that something is wrong with your cigar.  You do an internet search and find a saving grace! It is a thing called “Plume”! HOORAY!  Your cigars aren’t ruined, and in fact they have become an elite, plume covered delicacy!

Well here is where I become the bearer of bad news.  To steal a saying from my friends over at /r/cigars, “That’s Mold Bro!”.  Plume has become one of the most misunderstood (and overly used terms) in the cigar industry.   Unfortunately, it’s due to many people trying to cover up the fact that their cigars have become moldy.  Plume is rare and very subtle.  A cigar with plume is a cigar that has been kept in proper conditions for a long time.  Honestly, they don’t look very nice.  They have a very old look to them. Essentially, instead of an oily sheen to the cigar, it gains a flat look with what appears to be a non-tangible dusting to them.  So, if you put that cigar in your humidor 6 months ago, or you are at a cigar shop and looking at their regular stock and you see a cigar with a fuzzy substance on it, that is mold, NOT Plume.

Mold is preventable.  Maintaining proper conditions within your humidor is a good start.  Mold is caused by too much humidity, therefore the easiest way to prevent mold is constantly making sure your humidity levels do not exceed 70%rh humidity.  Personally, I prefer the 63%rh to 66%rh range for my cigars, and do everything I can to maintain the levels in that range.  Mold can begin to form on a cigar, once the total saturation of the cigar gets at 74%rh or higher.  It can happen quickly as well.  We are dealing with nothing more than leaves and moisture, so just as it happens in nature, it can happen in your humidor.

Cigars that are wrapped in cedar and packaged in metal tubos are often time more susceptible to surface mold because more of the humidity is trapped within the container.  Think of it as a terrarium situation.  The moisture is trapped within an area and can be highly effected by humidity and temperature changes.  Also, cigars without cellophane are susceptible because they are in direct contact with the moisture and can develop mold quicker.  A cigar can develop surface mold, or a cigar can become completely infested.  Surface mold is easily wiped off, and by all accounts, do not have any harmful effects to you or the cigar.  Surface mold will appear on the outside of the cigar in random white splotchy patches.  Making sure the surface mold is completely gone is key though.  Once, wiping off the surface mold, remove the affected cigars from the rest of your unharmed stash, and keep them in proper conditions outside of your regular humidor until you know they are mold free.

While inspecting your moldy cigar, always check the foot of the cigar (also known as the end that you light).  If mold develops in this area, you have a big issue.  Mold on the foot indicates that there is mold on the inside of the cigars.  Unfortunately, these cigars should be disposed of immediately as they are not safe to smoke, and can infect the rest of your cigar collection.  Any cigars with signs of greenish-colored mold should be discarded immediately as well.

The bottom line, take care of your cigars and if something goes wrong, take care of it.  If you have to ask the question “Is It Mold Or Plume?”, chances are it’s mold.  Don’t believe the lies and harm yourself and your cigars in doing so.  Mold can happen.  Take care of it and do everything you can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The FDA Drops Its Hammer

It was just about a month ago that I sat down and wrote THIS Editorial on this exact site trying to provide an overview of where we stand in regards to the FDA’s looming regulation of our beloved industry.  Well those regulations are no longer looming.  The FDA released a 499 Page Document which included details on how they intend to regulate the premium cigar industry.

We have seen a lot of reaction to the regulations.  There is an ongoing petition to have the regulations prevented.  We have also seen a lot of questions.  Unfortunately, it seems there are just as many questions now as there was before the regulations were announced.  The biggest one yet to be answered is “What will it cost a cigar manufacturer to submit a line for FDA testing?”  I am not sure if this answer will ever be released to the public.  It may just be told to the cigar manufacturers upon submission.  I have not heard anything near official in regards to a number, but the rumors have been anywhere in the $10k to $250k range per SKU.

So what does this mean to the consumer?  At the end of the day, it is my belief that the only direct impact from these initial regulations to the consumer will be higher prices.  Increased manufacturing costs and increase packaging costs will just be added to the bottom line and MSRP on each product.  Essentially, manufacturers add the additional costs into the wholesale price that they sell to retailers.  The retailers will then price cigars as normal at the higher MSRP set by the manufacturer.

But what about all of the “Sky is Falling” scenarios that everybody is talking about?  Well, it’s very unfortunate.  No industry wants regulation.  It changes the business dramatically.  But these FDA regulations (at least as they stand right now) will not kill the cigar industry.  I will be sad to see any companies not survive.  It remains to be seen if any companies will fold due to the regulations and cost of testing.  If they do, that would be highly unfortunate.  Some of my favorite cigars are produced by smaller companies like Tierra Volcan and RoMa Craft and I would hate to see these regulations damage companies with good people and a strong passion for what they do.  But the strong will indeed survive.

As of right now, it is estimated that about 40% to 60% of the inventory in most cigar shops are stocked with cigars that have been out since the 2007 date, meaning those cigars will remain untouched and will still be able to appear on the shelves for you to buy.  That is a significant portion of premium cigars that will not be effected by the FDA regulations.  There will be change, however.  I don’t expect many limited edition cigars and small batch released like the AVO Classic Covers or Dunhill Seleccion Supremaa to hit the market after this year due to testing costs.  There have been a bunch of different new cigar companies bringing products to the market the last 5 years.  That trend will also die down.

I talked to a brand manager of a very large traditional cigar company (who asked to remain anonymous) about the FDA regulations and some interesting points were made.  I insisted that his company will be fine and its no big deal to them.  He agreed that they would be fine, but interjected with some concerns.  He stated that even though they sell their traditional products in very high volumes, almost 60% of their revenues last year came from products released in the last 4 years.  So even the veteran companies have skin in the game.

It will come down to evaluation of each line.  For the bigger companies, if a newer line is selling at a successful rate, (CAO Flathead, Montecristo Espada, and Davidoff Winston Churchill as examples) it may be worth submitting the product for testing.  If sales numbers are low on a line, in may not be worth investing the time, money, and efforts in keeping the line alive.

How bad will it be?  The guys at Halfwheel are doing a tremendous job breaking down the FDA Regulations and specifically their “costs” section breaking down what the costs of testing may be.  The numbers appear to be very feasible to a majority of cigar manufacturers.  Not ideal, but feasible.  And the price increases that consumers will see will not be as dramatic as was once thought.  There will be change.  We may not be able to get free cigars from manufacturers or retail stores during events.  We don’t even know the effect it will have on donating cigars to organizations like Cigars for Warriors.  Lines will disappear.  Cigar prices will increase a bit.  Cigar packaging will look a lot different.  But at the end of the day, we can all be sitting in our favorite cigar lounge, puffing on a premium cigar, and discussing how frustrating the changes are, which is not as bad as many of us had thought it could be.

Exclusive Releases

Exclusive releases are not uncommon in the cigar industry.  I cannot speak for every company that comes out with these special cigars, but us here at the CDM family of stores, we pride ourselves on these releases.  These aren’t just a way to put another cigar out on the market.  These are a chance for us to share our cigar expertise with our wonderful customers.  Its a way to ensure an exquisite cigar smoking experience that we can stand behind not only with full confidence that we are providing a to quality product, but with 100% pride in the work we put in to develop each blend.

UF-4-3-PacksOur most sought after exclusive release is arguably the Drew Estate Liga Privada UF-4.  Originally released during the inaugural Halloween event at Casa de Montecristo with Jonathan Drew, it originally had the name JD-4.  These have been slightly changed each release, and have come out once a year, at the Halloween event.  Drew Estate’s Liga Privada line has paved the way for sought after boutique cigars on the market and the UF-4 is no exception.  Packaged in bundles of 10, the UF-4 is one of the rarest and best Liga’s you will ever find (or try hard to find).

EP Carrillo Generosos 4 7/8x50One of our most successful Exclusive Releases is produced by none other than the legend of boutique cigars…Ernesto Perez Carrillo.  From his original El Credito Factory with La Gloria Cubana and now his self named brand, he has given cigar smokers some of the greatest premium cigars this decade.  Due to this, we worked tirelessly with Ernesto to come up with the Generosos line.  A medium to medium full blend full of complexity and prominent nutty flavors with a hint of spice on the back end.  A truly exceptional cigar for any cigar aficionado.

My Father Oro de Nicaragua PerfectoAs one of the first retailers to carry Don Pepin’s cigars, we have had a long standing relationship with The Garcia Family.  Once while on a tour of their factory, our owner Mike came across a bale of tobacco.  “This smells like a Chocolate!” Mike exclaimed.  Mr. Garcia raised an eyebrow and walked up to Mike.  Then, without hesitation, Don Pepin pulled the cigar from Mike’e mouth, removed the wrapper leaf, and rolled one of the “chocolate” leaves over Mike’s cigar.  Mike fell in love, and that is how our Oro de Nicaragua from My Father Cigars was born.  This is a must try cigar.  There is nothing else like it in the My Father Portfolio.

Tatuaje The jackalAs that relationship carried on, it was natural for our relationship with Pete Johnson of Tatuaje to grow as well.  After several years of development, we brought out the Tatuaje Jackal.  A blend of Pete Johnson’s famous Tatuaje Halloween releases (and some other special tobaccos), The Jackal delivers everything you’d expect from the Tatuaje brand.

sons-of-freedom-Torpedo-2We have customers from all walks of life, and many of them wanted a more budget friendly cigar, that quite frankly, was also friendly to the palate.  We listen to our customers and talked to a few factories about developing a unique line of cigars where every size featured a unique blend.  This isn’t an easy task when talking about an exclusive line, but our friend Manuel Quesada of Quesada Cigars was ready to take on the task.  We called this project “Sons Of Freedom“.  Each blend and size was uniquely developed with our customers in mind.  The right right size and blend combination to maximize the potential of the fantastic long filler tobaccos featured in the Sons of Freedom cigars.  Quesada Espana Bali LancceWonder smokes and wonderful prices.  This partnership also led to our stores obtaining two exclusive sizes of the incredible Quesada Espana line.  A slow burning 7×54 fat churchill called the Fabulosos (the PERFECT golf cigar), as well as the connoisseur special, the 7×42 Beli-Lance which is a lancero with a torpedo tip.

B56Then there are the projects that you don’t plan on, but are too good not to do them.  While in Miami for a business meeting, our other owner Sam met an older gentleman in Little Havana.  Both had cigars in hand and a conversation was struck.  This gentleman claimed to have some “inside knowledge” of the Cuban Cohiba Factory and told many stories.  Sam was skeptical but when this gentleman claimed he could roll Sam a replica of the Cohiba BHK 56, he was intrigued.  The man did not lie.  This cigar tastes just like the famous Behike. The B56 as we call it is a tremendous cigar and many smokers in the Chicagoland area flock to our stores just to smoke these beauties.  Even Chicago Blackhawks Head Coach Joel Quennville claims this as his favorite cigar!

Coach-Q

We love cigars.  We love this Industry.  And we love to provide the best cigars to our customers.  Check out our exclusive releases.  You won’t be disappointed.

The FDA And Cigars: An Editorial

This is an editorial piece and the thoughts and views expressed in this piece are the author’s alone and are no way affiliated with the views of our company or any of the companies which products we sell.

 

For several years the FDA and its regulations have loomed over the cigar industry.  Every smoker and shop owner across the country have been holding their breath and just hoping that the FDA would choose option 2 which would change very little or anything at all.  Then the leaked documents shown on sites like www.halfwheel.com have indicated the FDA is leaning towards the dreadful option 1 which would provide sweeping changes across the industry.  Then the little glimmers of hope, such as the language included in the Omnibus Bill that would exempt cigars from FDA Regulation.  As we know, that language was cut from the bill.  Now there is the Appropriations Bill that includes similar language.  We can all be hopeful and sit and wait and see if that part of the bill remains, or if it will be stripped out and set a flame like a nice premium cigar.

When I sit back in my reclining patio chair, smoking a wonderful RoMa Craft Cromagnon, It’s really hard to complain about anything.  But then I think about how this simplest of freedoms is being constantly threatened.  Not just by the FDA, but other tax laws, smoking bans, age restrictions, etc.  Yes this industry has it’s activists.  Groups like the CRA and the IPCPR do their part and represent us as best as they can.  What is sad to me, is there are so many cigar smoker’s that don’t even know these groups exist.  Because of this, these groups face a huge uphill battle.  Taking on multi-billion dollar lobbyist groups with a mission to tax and regulate all things tobacco, with no idea the differences of each industry.

I hate politics.  Unfortunately, our hobby is deeply intertwined with the political machine.  Seeing people from all different walks of life enter our stores, and talking with many of our online customers from all over the country, the only common denominator that I seem to find is that cigar smokers are generally really laid back people.  There are exceptions of course, but it seems to be a common theme.  These are not the types of people who are going to stand up and bang their chest and scream and make sure their voice is heard.

The problem is, we are grouped in with cigarette smokers.  We are grouped in with chewing tobacco users.  The Anti-Tobacco groups see us the same.  Cigar smokers are not the same.  Cigars are not cigarettes.  Cigar smokers know this.  The rest of the world does not.  At least twice a week a “former” cigarette smoker comes into our shop who wants to quit cigarettes and is looking to cigars for replacements.  1 out of 100 of these people I will see again.  Why?  Because cigars don’t replace cigarettes.  It is full of natural nicotine and will never satisfy a cigarette smokers craving for the potent addictive chemical nicotine additive found in cigarettes.  You will never find that in a cigar.  That 1 out of 100 guys that I actually do see again has returned because he appreciates the flavors of the tobacco and has now gotten into the hobby.

It’s 2016.  We all are aware of the health risks of smoking.  Cigarettes are much more dangerous than cigars, however cigars still contain risks.  But many of the smoking bans, tax hikes, and other laws cite second hand smoke as a danger in its own right.  In 2013 Forbes published the findings of a long term study on second hand smoke and lung cancer, and the results showed that any health risk increases in regards to lung cancer and second hand smoke are non-existent.  You can read the full article HERE.  While those results are shocking to most, the part of the article that shocked me the most however was the comments made by Dr. Jyoti Patel of Northwestern University.  Here is the quote: “The strongest reason to avoid passive cigarette smoke is to change societal behavior: to not live in a society where smoking is a norm”.  This is the type of mindset our industry is fighting.  It’s not about the health risks (or lack there of), or the tax dollars, or protecting the children.  It’s just that tobacco is looked at as evil and there are groups backed by billions of dollars that want to get rid of it.

Again,  we are grouped with cigarette smokers.  I for one have never had a cigarette in my life.  I know how terrible they are for you.  I was born in an era where that information was made available to me.  We live in a world where false and truthful information can be found any where on the world wide web.  I think its time we let adults make their own decisions.  Education is key.

The fight is not just on smokers, though.  In fact the biggest tax hikes and regulations are meant to put a choke on the business that sell these products.  If you make it harder for these businesses to open up or stay open then there will be less ways to obtain the product.  As a Cigar store, it is very hard to turn a profit in many areas of this country.  More regulations will make it even tougher.

But is it really time for regulations?  In the crosshairs of another political spectrum is an island 90 miles south of Florida.  An Island that holds a lot of importance to our industry.  What part does this play in the politics of our industry?  If Cuba is on the verge of having the Embargo lifted with the United States, will the United States Government want to regulate one of the biggest revenue streams that will come with the removal of the Embargo?  It seems we would just be shooting ourselves in the foot if that were so.  Or is it the other side of things?  Does the government want to have all of the regulations in place for when the Embargo is lifted to have more control over what type of products are coming into the country?  Unfortunately it’s an answer I don’t have.

That said, whatever option the FDA chooses, or whatever legislation that is passed to prevent regulations, quite simply, just can’t come soon enough.  The waiting and the unknown is putting this industry in a very interesting position and it’s not a positive one.  It is definitely having a huge effect on the mom and pop type B&M’s.  Stores are putting expansion plans on hold.  Companies are holding back new releases.  Shop owners are selling their businesses to get out before the doom comes (if it ever comes).  If this continues to drag out, the waiting and the unknown can cause the industry more chaos than what the regulations could bring.  This industry will survive.  The smart businesses and the smart companies will prevail.  We are already seeing cigar companies expanding their presence in the retail market by opening or acquiring B&M shops throughout the country.  This is a very intriguing thing to me, as these bigger companies will have the money and resources to withstand and regulations.  At the end of the day, Smokers will still want their cigars and they will find the stores that are successful in adapting to the new rules.  It may be tougher, but it will not die.

It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep fighting though.  Just talking about the issues while smoking with your friends at the cigar shop or on your patio…it doesn’t matter.  Keeping the topics relevant and keeping the discussion going is what is important.  Do what you can to protect this industry.  Support the groups that are fighting to protect this industry.  Keep this industry alive and well.

Aging Cigars To Vintage Perfection

Every day, customers come to our retail locations asking to be let in to the prestigious “Vintage Room”.  Every day, first time customers are shown the infamous “Vintage Room”.  Every day, I personally walk in and I am like a kid in a candy store.  For collectors, part of the mystique around our Vintage Rooms is finding a cigar that you may have thought to be unattainable.  The most common things uttered in our vintage rooms is “You can’t find these anywhere!” or “I didn’t know these still existed.”  I am not much of a collector however.  I buy cigars to smoke them.  And that’s where the true beauty of this vintage rooms exists.

 

Some people don’t believe in aging cigars, or at the least, believe it is just fluff.  I will be the first to tell you not all, or most cigars need aging.  Cigar makers all over the world use the best aging techniques themselves and make sure their tobacco is primed and ready before being used in production.  That doesn’t mean the best can’t get better though.  It is just simply a natural occurrence.  Tobacco holds ammonia and other chemicals from the soil it is grown in, just like any other crop harvested by humans.  Even the best techniques aren’t fail proof or automatic.  Sometimes the greatest weapon is time.

 

That’s right, Time.  It heals all wounds and smooths out a cigars flavor.  But time, combined with proper conditions and techniques are the true key to properly aging a cigar….

But what are the effects?  How exactly does it enhance your smoking experience?  The ultimate goal of aging, is to allow time and storage conditions to remove ammonia and chemicals from your cigar.  This leads to a smoother sensation on the palate, as well as a more abundant spectrum for you to pick up the different flavor nuances.

 

Have you ever lit up a cigar that had a dominant “spicy” profile?  Sometimes that spice isn’t the tobacco flavor, but chemicals in the tobacco that are hiding its true identity.  After a couple years in proper conditions, the “spicy” cigar is actually a very rich and robust smoke, with a ton of complex flavors. The Oliva Serie V Maduro Series, Tatuaje Black Label, and Aging Room M21 are prime examples of this.

 

It’s not just spicy cigars from benefit from aging either.  Creamy Connecticuts are some of my personal favorites to age, because I have found that the creamy notes are intensified over time, while any “dry” notes tend to fade.  The original Curivari Achilles line is a great example.  Another one I am looking forward to smoking after a couple years of age on them are the Original Release Padron Damaso.

 

But can you age a cigar too long?  The answer to this can be very different depending on who you ask.  I think that it’s different for each cigar.  Some cigars are at their peak after a year or so.  Others can be great 3 or 4 years after it’s release.  Each blend of tobacco is unique and has it’s own characteristics.  I do believe there is a limit.  After awhile a cigar is as good as it’s going to be.  You can even argue that it will lose some characteristics over too much time.  Finding the perfect balance is the trick.

 

I highly suggest trying it out.  It doesn’t have to be a rare cigar or a sought after cigar.  The best cigars to age are your favorite cigars and cigars that you frequently purchase.  Set up the proper conditions and place some of your favorite cigars aside for awhile.  Then when the time is right, light up one of the aged cigars with one that hasn’t been aged and taste the difference for yourself.

 

 

The Complex Connecticut Wrapper

When many cigar smokers talk about Connecticut Wrappers, you will always hear similar words associated with the leaf…mild, creamy, perfect for new cigar smokers, etc.  As I puff away on this Quesada Reserva Privada, I think about the stereotypes that this certain tobacco has gained.  While those descriptions are many times accurate, they do not apply across the board.  I often ask, why has the Connecticut tobacco leaf become such an ignored choice for many cigar connoisseurs?

To me the Connecticut leaf can be one of the most complex and unique flavors that can be found in the tobacco world.  Like any other cigar, there can be good ones and bad ones, or rather ones that you prefer and ones that you do not.  The name Connecticut refers to the seed and does not necessarily mean it is from the U.S. of A.  While many Connecticut Shade tobacco is grown in the Connecticut valley here in America, many other countries grow the leaf as well.  The most common Connecticut leaf that is used in many premium cigars out now comes from tobacco fields in Ecuador.   The reason for this, is Ecuador’s natural cloud cover and natural fogginess that allows for natural shade-like conditions without the need to cover the tobacco.

Wrap Conneticut
Connecticut Wrapper

So what is so special about the Connecticut leaf?  After all its just mild and for newbie smokers right?  Not so fast.  While the leaf naturally has some smooth and creamy characteristics, the entire blend of a cigar makes it stronger or spicier or richer, etc.  Let’s not forget than many of the richest flavored cigars in the world are Connecticut leaves that are aged into maduros.  Connecticut wrappers can provide a very complex finish to many different types of blends.

For instance, the Avo XO line has a much higher nicotine content than the Avo Classic Series even though both cigars are draped with different Connecticut wrappers.  When smoking these two cigars side by side, you would notice the blend of the AVO XO is much creamier and smoother flavored cigar that actually has more of a kick to it, compared to the grassy and earthy notes of the Avo Classic.

The likes of the above mentioned Quesada Reserva Privada, along with other ultra premium Connecticut offerings such as the Dunhill Aged line, the new Padron Damaso, or many classic offerings from Davidoff have wonderful flavor profiles that only more advanced cigar smokers may appreciate.  Each of these have a nice subtle spice on the back-end accompanied by a smooth sweetness.  Each blend has a bunch of other nuances that make them very unique from each other.  The complexities would be lost on a new smokers palate.

Then there’s the Nat Sherman Epoca or the RoMa Craft Intemperance EC.  These cigars feature more of a spicy on the front-end of the draw while the creaminess shows up on the retrohale.  These type of Connecticut offerings are definitely more on the medium to medium full range and many advanced smokers often over look them solely because of their light wrapper color.

So I challenge you, cigar aficionado’s, smoke some Connecticuts.  Really focus in on them and try to identify the complexities each one has to offer.  Some of the truly masterful blends out their are found wrapped underneath a delicious and delicate Connecticut leaf.  Expand your palate and embrace these gems.

Who We Are And Why We’re Here.

8to8-InsideJust over 20 years ago, a small tobacco shop opened in the Chicago suburbs.  Shortly after, a small display humidor was brought in for one specific customer who asked if we could carry a certain product.  That one customer changed the lives of many people that day, when he asked his local tobacco shop to carry a cigar he wanted.  That simple question led to the first display humidor.  The small humidor eventually turned into a cabinet full of cigars for sale.  Then a second cabinet stocked with the most premium cigars available.  Demand kept growing.  This spawned a need for a new location to fit even more cabinets and a seating area for people to enjoy their fine smokes.  This became our first cigar store, 8 to 8 Cigars.  For years it has been known throughout the area as the ‘go-to’ place for cigars in the Chicago suburbs.  Cigar lovers throughout the area became accustomed to the high level of customer service, product knowledge, and camaraderie between cigar lovers that made 8 to 8 what it is.

8to8-OutsideThen there are the events…The Father’s Day and Christmas Sales Events are two of the most attended cigar events in country featuring unbelievable deals from the top manufacturers in the industry.  To this day, thousands of customer’s come to 8 to 8 during the weekend of these sales to take advantage of the best sales in the cigar industry.

 

Casa-Front-DoorSo naturally, this paved the way for Casa de Montrecristo right?  Well, sort of.  The customer service and selection aspects, yes.  But it was actually a gas station and new regulations that made way for one of the most luxurious cigar lounges in the world.  The owners of 8 to 8 also owned a gas station about 20 minutes south of their cigar store.  Customers wanted the same premium cigars in that area, but didn’t want to commute as much.  Therefore, the gas station basically became their second cigar store, selling literally thousands of cigars each year.  Then came the smoking ban in Illinois.  No more smoking at the gas station.  This did not sit well with our customers.  We could have just opened a little cigar shop in the area.  We could have just told them to drive further to our other location.  We could have done many things. Casa-VIP-2But what we did was lay out a plan to build the best cigar lounge in the world.  This is how Casa de Montecristo was born.  With unmatched selection and service, we bring the best V.I.P. Cigar smoking experience to smokers from Chicagoland and beyond.  Featuring an extremely spacious retail area, a public smoking lounge, a huge V.I.P. lounge including a theater room and conference room, as well as our well renowned Vintage Room.  The climate controlled Vintage humidor is specifically designed to enhance and mature the finest cigars the world has to offer.

 

Puros-FrontIt has been an incredible journey that is not over yet.  In the first quarter of 2015, we acquired Casa de Puros.  A high-end cigar lounge in beautiful downtown Forest Park, IL just minutes west of Downtown Chicago.  Adding our fine selection of premium cigars as well as our unbeatable customer service experience, has elevated Casa de Puros to one of the finest lounges in the area.  On a beautiful summer day in Chicago, Casa de Puros will open its storefront and bring a Little Havana feel to the Chicagoland area.

 

Then there was our first online retail store, www.topqualitycigars.com, launched just over 4 years ago.  To this day, it is the number one choice for many online cigar shoppers.  It become the online home for many of our exclusive releases such as the Liga Privada UF-4, Tatuaje Jackal, My Father Oro de Nicaragua, among others.  It is still up and running and still successful, however we are not satisfied.

 

We want to bring our in store V.I.P. experiences online to our customers.  We wanted to change the way Cigar Smoker’s look at online retail stores.  So the idea for a new website that would incorporate these concepts was first talked about in late 2014.  Now, at the beginning of 2016, www.CDMCigars.com is here to bring online cigar smoker’s the best the web has to offer.  We aim to provide the highest quality online retail cigar store there is.  From the quality of the images you see, to the customer service we provide, no corners will be cut in the process.  Featuring wishlists, raffles, our certified vintage selection, and our cigar lounge section, you will be able to build a your personal cigar experience.  We will elaborate more in these features soon.

 

Thanks for your support now and over the past several years.  Here at the CDM Family, We don’t just sell cigars.  We build relationships.  We appreciate every customer that has been a part of our tremendous journey and invite you to join us as we continue to set the standard in the cigar industry.

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