Cigar Jedi Tricks: The Tongue Cigar Ash Stand

I am so very glad that I had my new camera in time for the Herf Across CigarLive this Saturday. Because what I’m about to show you, in full 10 megapixel splendor is possibly the most advanced cigar stunts I’ve ever witnessed. I’ve seen a cigar beat a microwave in a battle of wills. I’ve seen an Opus X transformed into a potentially lethal tea and consumed. But never before have I witnessed a Cigar Aficionado with enough command of the force to balance a lit cigar on his… Wait, did I say his? I mean her! I don’t think you’ll believe it if I tell you. You have to see it for yourself. Check it out:

Nestor Placencia Ash Stand

You standard ash stand with a Nestor Placencia Special Selection. Impressive, but it’s been done. We can do better than that.

Dual Aurora Cigar Ash Stand

A dual cigar ash stand, well that’s a little better. (My cigar is the shorter one on the right.) But still, ho-hum, we’ve seen it.

Aurora Hand Ash Stand

An Aurora ash stand on the palm of your hand? Now we’re getting somewhere. I’ve never seen that before. But stick around, it gets even better!

Cigar To Tongue

Oh she’s not really gonna…

Cigar To Tongue!

Ouch! But can she balance it there?

Nestor Placencia Tongue Cigar Ash Stand!

Success! And it only took about five attempts!

Mmm... Like Licking An Ashtray!

Now she’s looking for a kiss! In this case, kissing a cigar smoker IS like licking an ashtray!

Who is this ninja of the rolled premium tobacco leaf, you ask? She’s Sondra Hankamer, the South East representative for Miami Cigar Company. And while she probably has her employer popping antacids like jelly beans, you have to admit, this is one event that people will remember!

I’d like to thank Sondra for the entertainment and cigars, Sean Williams of Primer Mundo Cigars for his fine smokes, Jim the owner of Blue Havana II for hosting the event, and Frank (tx_tuff) and the guys at CigarLive (join it!) for putting together this national event! Talk about an experience!

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The Griffin’s Maduro Toro

The Griffin\'s Maduro ToroI’ve really been looking forward to this review, as it will mark the first ever “The Griffin’s” cigar I’ve ever smoked. But before we get into the details of the cigar, I thought it will be interesting to get to the bottom of the cigar’s unusual name. The name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it? I’ve been wondering for a while now, why “The Griffin’s” and not just Griffin, I wondered.

Well, even a very thorough search of the web didn’t net much in the way of history about this cigar. But I did read somewhere online a while back that The Griffin’s was originally a house blend of a European club named “The Griffin”. Rumor spread of how great a cigar it was and the rest is history. And you know that has to be true, because I read it online, right? The one fact that’s indisputable is that The Griffin’s is made by Davidoff of Geneva, and it’s chock full of choice tobacco from the Cibao region of the Dominican Republic.

But before I get into the review, I have to thank Jim from Blue Havana II for providing me with the cigars for this review. He runs a great shop with more cigars than you can shake a draw poker at, and probably has more cigar events than any other shop I know of. If you live in the Atlanta area, it’s well worth your time to stop by and enjoy a smoke in his nicely furnished lounge. And if you don’t, send Jim an email. He just might be able to help you out with that hard to find cigar.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 6 1/4 x 52
Wrapper: Connecticut
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic
Smoking Time: 2 hours
Beverage: Water
Price: ~$8.80

The Griffin\'s Maduor Toro Foot

Nicely packed.

The Pre-Smoke
It’ll be honest, it took me a little while to figure out just which vitola this cigar was. It’s a toro, but it has a head that makes it looks like it might be a belicoso. Rest assured though, there is no Griffin’s belicoso. With that initial mystery of the cigar solved, I began my inspection. Right off the bat I noticed something that made me very happy. The fairly straight forward white band was nicely loose on the cigar. Not loose enough that it would fall off, but loose enough to make remove incredibly easy. Without having even taken a cold taste yet, I was developing warm, fuzzy feelings for the cigar.

As I checked out the wrapper, I noticed a couple of superficial holes in the wrapper of one of the cigars, and large veins in both. The wrapper itself was a rustic, mottled-looking maduro color, alternating between black and dark brown shades. The wrapper had the scent of a pile of freshly raked leaves. It’s interesting how scent can form strong ties to memories, because this aroma almost gave me a flash back.

The Burn
The story here is a bit different between the two cigars I smoked for this review. There clearly was a flawed cigar and a normal one, and the difference first presented itself in the burn. The flawed cigar initially had a draw that was a little too tight in the beginning, and actually produced some tar toward the end of the first third. After wiping and reclipping, the draw opened up and the tar went into remission until the final third. I also noticed this stick had a flakier ash than the second unflawed cigar.

There isn’t too much to say about the unflawed cigar. No tar, no draw issues, solid white ash and a good burn line. It was exactly what you would expect from a good cigar.

The Flavor
Based on what you already know about the burn, you suspect that the flavors differed in the cigars I smoked. You’re absolutely right. The funny thing is that I actually enjoyed the flavors in the flawed cigar more than the normal burning one. When the tar wasn’t present, that is.

The flawed cigar was had more of a mild but rich cocoa and coffee that was slightly sweet in the first third, while I found the normal cigar to have more earthy and rich tobacco flavors with a little bit of creaminess. In both cigars, I was impressed with how cool and smooth the smoke was.

The second third remained cool but unfortunately the flawed cigar developed it’s first bubbles of tar which were not pleasant before returning to the rich cocoa flavors that were present in the first third. The normal cigar took on a savory, almost beef jerky flavor which was actually pretty enjoyable. Some of the same cocoa elements were present in this third also.

The final third was moved up into the medium fullness range and I got a bit of chocolate, some sweetness and a faint bit of coconut. The flawed cigar had a reappearance of the tar flavor (but no visible tar), followed by the a savory fuller flavor.

The Price
For a cigar produced by Davidoff, I was a little surprised that this cigar comes in well under the $10 mark. I don’t have any complaints about the price, but I think it’s just high enough to put it in that one-a-week range for most people.

The Verdict
In spite of the flaws of the one cigar, I enjoyed The Griffin’s Toro Maduro. I wouldn’t say it’s a very complex or varied cigar. Right up front you’ll have a good feeling for whether or not you’ll enjoy the cigar, because it remains pretty constant throughout. Fortunately for me, I enjoyed the flavors, both times. I also really enjoyed the coolness of the smoke for the first two thirds. For some reason that aspect of the experience really stood out. Because of the overall mildness, I’d recommend this as a good cigar to pair with your morning coffee.

Of course, thanks again to Jim of Blue Havana II for the great cigars. And thanks also to Steve Dickinson, the area Davidoff rep for keeping us all entertained at the recent Davidoff event. Even if you don’t smoke any of Davidoff’s cigars, it’s worth dropping in at an event just to talk with Steve.

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Maybe
Recommend It: Yes

UPDATE 4/30/08:
The Tower of Burn
At a cigar event this past weekend, Jim walked up to me, and said, where’s my Tower of Burn? After sputtering a bit, and feeling a bit embarrassed, I had to admit that I had just been a little lazy on this review. I thought I could skate by with a nice picture of the ashtray afterward, but no dice. Apparently, the Tower of Burn is incredibly popular, I’ve been contacted by several people who specifically mention it as a favorite feature! Well, I feel bad depriving you of it for so long, so here it is, my trademark Tower of Burn. Enjoy!

The Griffin\'s Maduro

The Griffin\'s Maduro Toro

The Griffin\'s Maduro Toro

The Griffin\'s Maduro Toro

The Griffin\'s Maduro Toro

The Griffin\'s Maduro Toro

The Griffin\'s Maduro Toro

The Griffin\'s Maduro Toro

The Griffin\'s Maduro Toro

The Griffin\'s Maduro Toro

The Griffin\'s Maduro Toro In Ashes

Nice ash!

What Others Are Saying
You know, I’ve been forgetting recently to link to other reviews of the cigar. Not this time. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of reviews of this cigar out there.

Cigar Review Index
And be sure to check out my complete index of cigar reviews! (Guaranteed to be at least 75% up to date!)

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Help Me Help Matt Help Kids And Win Cigars!

Confused yet? Let me clear it up for you. Friend, and fellow cigar blogger Matt of Matt’s Cigar Journal is participating in the Ride for Kids benefiting Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation of the United States and he needs a little help making his $3000 dollar goal.

If you’ve been following my blog very long, you know I like a good charity. And it’s been a while since I threw in with Team Hanselman’s crusade against diabetes. So when I heard a fellow brother of the leaf was putting together some money for another good cause, I was interested in helping out. And when I heard that by donating you have a chance to win a box of Opus X, Perdomos, Camachos or Hoyo de Monterreys, it was a no brainer.

It works like this. If you donate $10 by April 25th, and follow the instructions on Matt’s announcement, you get one entry into the drawing for one of the boxes. $20 gets you in twice, as you might expect, but then things get even more interesting. Using a complicated secret algorithm known only to himself, Matt will give you seven entries for $50, nine for $70 and a whopping 14 for $100. (By “secret complicated algorithm“, I mean I haven’t taken the time to figure out how it works. It looks like a heck of a deal, so I’m not questioning it!)

In summary, there’s a bunch of reasons to scratch together a Hamilton (or a Benjamin!)

  1. You help fight Pediatric Brain Tumors. Which is a serious warm fuzzy. (Karma, people!)
  2. You might win a box of fantastic cigars.
  3. Your contribution is tax deductible!
  4. You might keep me from winning a box of cigars! (I know that this is a priority for some of you out there!)

So grab your ten-spots and head over and give. You don’t want me winning that box of Opuses, do you? (You know if I do, there’ll be no tolerating me.)

Thanks for helping out!

Just Wow: Absolut Reclaims SW U.S. For Mexico

In a startlingly grey matter-challenged marketing decision, Absolut vodka declares that “in an Absolut world” California, Texas and a whole bunch of other states belong to Mexico. (Including half of my home state of Oregon.) We are not amused.

Absolute vodka reconquers SW U.S. for Mexico

Smooth move, Absolut

Don’t worry, I’m not about to start getting political in this blog. Politics just brings out the worst in people. (You don’t need me to tell you that, just watch the election coverage on any news network.)

The thing about this ad that should get someone fired in the Absolut marketing department is that they put their brand in a very sensitive area of conflict between two nations full of proud people. An ad like this makes as much sense as sticking your nose into a friend’s family argument. No matter who you side with, no matter how much sense you may or may not make, you will wind up the villian.

Or maybe it’s someone in Absolut management that should be fired. They approved this ad. Maybe they though that since this ad was only appearing in Mexico, it couldn’t possibly cause offense here in the U.S. Clearly they forgot we are in a 24 hour, instant messaging world. If Britney Spears sneezes in Hollywood, fans in Bangalore, India know about it before she finishes wiping her nose.

Of course, Absolut will learn nothing from this gaff if customers don’t hold them accountable for it. I plan to reward Absolut by making martinis with competing vodkas going forward. (That isn’t a hollow threat, Absolut was my vodka of choice.) I know what you’re thinking, even bad publicity is good advertising. Losing my business is small potatoes compared to the business this will bring in. Well, that may be true, but is this post still good advertising for them if I…

…Give you a list of good Vodka alternatives? (Yeah, I know, I’m evil. To the core.) According to The Independent, the following are the ten best Vodkas out there:

  1. Level
  2. Skyy
  3. Snow Queen
  4. U’luvka
  5. Belvedere
  6. 42 Below
  7. Grey Goose
  8. Ciroc
  9. Danzka
  10. Reyka

Notice one name that doesn’t appear in that list? (Check out the original article, I didn’t edit the list!) This is a fantastic opportunity to discover a new vodka, and take your drinks to a new level. (Pun accidental, but I’ll take it.) Just look at that, a rant that turned semi-educational.

Gentlemen (and ladies) you may resume your martini-tipping. (Kudos to Cigar Jack for drawing my attention to the original Absolut article.)

UPDATE 1: Absolut has since offered an apology-that-isn’t-an-apology for the the ad. What are they they’re sorry for? That people were dumb enough to be offended, not that the ad was run in the first place. Swing and a miss, Absolut.

UPDATE 2: Skyy vodka puts out a comical press release in support of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and condemning Absolut for their ad. Home run Skyy! While Absolut should probably fire both their PR and marketing departments, Skyy vodka should give their departments a raise!

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