Brand evangelist, digital marketer, cigar and spirits expert specializing in consumer tasting and educational events. Matthias made the long trek from his hometown of Portland, Oregon to New York City in 2007, and in nine years has hosted more than 120 events and helped promote and launch dozens of cigar and whiskey brands in the U.S. In 2016, he joined the Cigar Journal Tasting Panel, blind-reviewing pre and new release cigars.
The Perdomo Grand CRU line is a blend of Cuban-seed Nicaraguan tobaccos, wrapped in either a Corojo or Maduro wrapper. This stick just happened to tag along in a sampler that I bought from my local cigar shop. It looked like a pretty interesting cigar, and I saw mixed reviews so I decided to take a look for myself.
Lots of spice on the pre-light draw. Construction seems alright, though I’ve heard that many others have had burn issues. We’ll see. The draw is excellent and the maduro wrapper is attractive, with very few, if any, noticeable flaws. What I don’t find very attractive about this cigar, though, is the label. It certainly isn’t as bad as others (Dynamite labels are the worst!), but it doesn’t really help convince me that I’m about to smoke a great cigar.
The first few draws of this stick are pretty harsh. At first, the flavor is a spicy that isn’t very enjoyable. The aroma, however, is a great mix of coffee and dark chocolate – a very enjoyable mocha. After a minute or two, the harshness left, leaving a very smooth smoke where chocolate takes center stage. Excellent. I only wish the burn could have progressed as well as the taste here – I had to touch it up more than once in the first third.
The cigar definitely mellowed out a bit in the second third. A hint of woodiness edged its way in as well, which was a nice change of pace, but I’m not sure that the woodiness was really appropriate with what came before.
The cigar has picked up a bit of spice, and also some harshness. Unfortunately, the harshness never really went away in the last third. The smoke got hotter and hotter, and I could definitely feel the tobacco giving me a buzz as well. Needless to say, by the time the cigar was done, I was very disappointed.
This cigar was pretty good, but the uneven burn really started getting on my nerves about halfway through. From what I can tell, this is a pretty persistent problem with this line of cigars, so if a good burn is something you place high importance on, then this stick might not be worth ~$7. Still, I have to say that I really enjoyed the chocolaty tones of this cigar, and the exceptionally cool smoke of the first 2/3rds. I don’t plan on buying this cigar again (as an almost-broke college student, I have to prioritize), but if you are in a particularly curious mood, you might give it a try.
What a cigar! When I chose this stick for my first smoke of “Stogie & Poker Night: Take 6”, I had no idea that I was about to discover one of my new favorites. The CAO Italia is one of few lines of cigars that features Italian tobaccos, which are rare because of Italy’s unique climate.
This cigar had excellent construction, a beautiful maduro wrapper, and an attractive label (which apparently was put on backwards on this cigar). This is a beautiful cigar. There were a few watermarks on the cigar, but from what I can tell this is not characteristic of the line. On the prelight draw I could sense a bit of cocoa, and I was pleased when the dark chocolate flavor came out in the smoke. The draw was perfect.
The first third of the cigar had a combination of cocoa, spice, and a hint of fruitiness. The burn during the first third was perfect, though in the second third the cigar canoed a bit. During the second and third thirds of the cigar, a woodiness emerged and the spice took more prominence in the taste. The burn evened out, the draw remained ideal, and I smoked the cigar until my fingers got a bit burnt.
I highly recommend this cigar and will definitely be buying more. This cigar is gorgeous, well constructed, and has a robust taste that is simply unforgettable. A few minor inconveniences along the way, but nothing that detracted from the enjoyment of the cigar too much. A new favorite.
G’day fellow Brothers and Sisters of the Leaf. I am extremely excited to be a part of FineTobaccoNYC. I have known Matthias for almost 3 years now and have enjoyed watching him fall in love with premium tobacco just as I did as well as helping him on his journey when I could. So when he came to me with the idea for FTNYC I knew that I had to be a part of it.
I am currently working in the premium tobacco industry as the Client Services Associate for Davidoff of Geneva’s Madison Avenue store. I finally have a job that is in line with my passion and I love every minute of it.
When I am not at work I try to immerse myself into the cigar culture in ways that are non-work related. The main way that I have done this is I started The Belicoso Brothers Cigarcast, a weekly cigar podcast that I co-host with my best friend, Peter Work. You can check us out at www.BelicosoBrothers.com and on iTunes under Belicoso Brothers CigarCast.
I love to help people explore and grow in their own journeys with premium tobacco and will never walk away from a cigar related conversation, so if anybody has any questions relating to anything premium tobacco I would love to answer them. You can send your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will leave you all with one of my favorite quotes relating to premium tobacco: “A cigar ought not to be smoked solely with the mouth, but with the hand, the eyes, and with the spirit.” – Zino Davidoff
If I was honest, I would admit that the first time I saw the label of this cigar, I was tempted to think of it as a simple novelty cigar: some company wanted in to the cigar industry, so they produced some overpriced, subpar cigars. Boy was I wrong.
The Dominican Don Diego Playboy Lonsdale has a Connecticut shade grown wrapper. The cigar is a very mild cigar, in strength and in body – so not normally a kind of cigar that I smoke. I have to say though, this smoking experience was excellent. The cigar was great, and the evening was a mild 80 degrees as the sun set over the Oregon foothills. About 45 minutes in to the smoke I also had a few neighbors drop by to relax, drink some beer, and talk about tobacco and gun regulations. It was great. Here are the notes I took on this cigar.
For this stick I used a straight cut. The pre light draw was firm, but not restrictive. The construction was excellent – consistent firmness, no visible flaws, and the texture of the wrapper was delightfully smooth and slightly oily. The smell of the cigar seemed faint, but it really came out when I lit it up.
The first few pulls were mild in body and strength. I couldn’t quite describe the taste, but it was delicious. It was very unique, with a hint of spice and saltiness that made my mouth water. The smoke was cool, and the word savory about sums it up. Maybe the best indication of how much I was enjoying the cigar was that I wanted to stop taking any notes. I just wanted to sit, listen to Pink Martini, and blowing a few lazy smoke rings out into the sunset sky. That’s pretty much the definition of relaxation and enjoyment in my book.
The second third began with an addition to the experience that beats any development in taste: the neighbor dropping by to sit down and enjoy some quality beer and good conversation. A few minutes later, another neighbor drops by that I hadn’t met yet. He was a really nice guy, and I grabbed a chair while he grabbed a beer so he could join in on the conversation.
As far as the cigar goes, the taste grew stronger in the second third. It also took on sweetness and a hint of woodiness that I thought really added to the experience. The smoke stayed cool, and the burn remained almost perfect.
I finally discover the elusive aroma. The smoke is a combination of saltiness, spiciness, and a hint of fruitiness that amounts to a very unique combination. If someone described an aroma like that to me, I might not find it that attractive, but it really was excellent.
The last fifth of the cigar got pretty hot, and I considered setting the cigar down for good, but I just couldn’t stop – I was enjoying it too much.
I enjoyed this cigar immensely. Part of it, to be sure, was the environment – a beautiful night with friends, good music, and lively conversation. Even without that, however, the cigar had a unique and memorable taste, with great construction, a good draw, and a perfect burn. The smoke was cool, and the savory taste was easily identified. There were also some subtleties like the hint of woodiness and fruitiness that made the cigar a journey.
When people ask me, “what are you afraid of?” My response is usually, “Hm… uh… well I dunno… spiders maybe?” The fact is, there just haven’t been many things in my life that truly terrify me, although if I were honest I’d say that the idea of moving back to Oregon after I graduate this year scares me (if you have any leads on jobs open in New York City, please let me know!).
A few nights ago, however, I met what I now consider the most terrifying force for evil on all of God’s green earth: tobacco beetles.
The cigar above is a Romeo Y Julieta LE 2001 Robusto. A good friend of mine gave it to me after she returned from a class in Costa Rica. I noticed it was a little bit dried out, so I decided to try to re-humidify it. I left it in my cigar box for about a month, not knowing I was in for a bit of a surprise. Fast forward a few night, and now I’m reading articles online about an insect that I would never have in my worst dreams imagined existed: Lasioderma Serricorne, otherwise known as tobacco beetles. I saw a picture of a cigar with a few small, pin-sized holes – and realized with a sinking feeling of dread that the same Cuban sitting in my humidor had two of those holes. I read this at about 12:30am, and here was my mental reaction:
Oh. My. God. Those… things… killed…
OH MY GOD! They are in the humidor with the REST OF MY CIGARS!
Still, I wasn’t sure if they were the same, so I ran to my room, pulled the cigar out of the box, and tested it the way I had seen online: holding the end of the cigar over the sink, I tapped the foot with my finger. To my sleep-deprived astonishment, a flurry of little pieces of black beetle-excrement dropped into the sink. I sat there for the next half an hour trying to make sure I got all of the stuff out.
From there, I wrapped the cigar in a plastic bag and threw it in the freezer, along with all of my other cigars (separately packaged). I wanted to kill any of those lingering bastards just in case they had crawled into any of my other sticks, which thankfully I’ve learned they didn’t. Two days later, I moved the cigars from the freezer to the refrigerator, and a day later moved them back to my humidor after I had cleaned it from edge to edge to make sure none of the tiny critters had stayed in the box.
Now, you may be asking yourself, “why did you put the destroyed cigar back in the humidor?” That’s a great question. Perhaps it’s because it was such a pretty cigar. Perhaps I thought maybe it was still smoke-able. And that last one is partially true – I didn’t know if it would still be smoke-able, but I decided to take one for the team just for your benefit.
Can you smoke a cigar that had tobacco beetles? Let’s find out…
Yesterday, I pulled the cigar out of the (at this point) separate box and cut it with all I had on hand – a single-edge blade. Needless to say, it didn’t cut very well, but it was good enough. I lit it and my smoking experience lasted maybe 5 or 10 minutes. It was obvious right off of the bat that smoking a destroyed cigar (even with just two pin-holes) was not something a cigar smoker should do.
The taste of what should have been a wonderful cigar made me want to cry. It was as if there was an epic battle going on between the burning of the tobacco that was still intact and the already-digested tobacco that still lined the inside of the cigar.
I realize that’s pretty visual, but bear with me a moment while I describe the taste of burning insect excrement:
There are few appropriate words I could use to describe the taste. The first that comes to mind is stale. The smoke seemed lifeless, completely dead – without the flavor and vibrance that I enjoy in every other smoke. The first time I lit the cigar, it just didn’t seem to want to light. The tobacco was red hot, but there was definitely problems with the structure of the inside of the cigar. Many of the inside layers of filler tobacco were completely chewed up by the beetles.
I decided to cut the cigar a few inches down and see if I could achieve a better draw. Unfortunately, it worked. There was heavy acidity. And perhaps the most disgusting part of the whole ordeal was that the smoke didn’t ever seem to leave my mouth. I found the taste and texture of the burning, rotted material sticking around in my mouth, even after I had put the cigar out and rinsed my mouth with water twice! I also started to feel a bit sick after about ten minutes. Gross.
Final verdict: Can you smoke a cigar-beetle infested cigar? Technically, yes. My advice, though, is if you get tempted to smoke a beetle-ravaged cigar that has the tell-tale signs of infestation, DO NOT DO IT. I know it is heartbreaking, especially when it is a cigar (or cigars) you cherish, but you have to toss them and then immediately ensure the safety of your other cigars. If you are still tempted after all of the above, though, then just imagine this: cutting the cigar, putting it into your mouth to light it, and feeling little, tiny legs crawling into your mouth. An extreme warning? Not at all.
Alright, so let’s get to some solutions, shall we?
How to get rid of tobacco beetles…
There are a few methods, but the most common is by using the freezer. I’ll be 100% honest with you: if you have a few cigars that seem to be affected, do not try to revive them: throw them away. The freezer method outlined below exists to save all of the other cigars in your humidor. To reiterate: throw away any cigars that already have pinholes in them or have what looks like dust falling from the foot when turned right side up.
Here’s the method to protect your cigars from tobacco beetles:
Place all of the cigars that you want to treat in a ziplock bag. Then double bag using another ziplock bag. Having a tight seal is critical to avoiding issues with freezer burn.
Place the bags in the freezer for at least 24 – 36 hours. This kills any remaining tobacco beetles and ruptures the eggs of any larvae.
After 24 – 36 hours, remove the bags and put them into the refrigerator. Let sit for three days. It is critical that you don’t put the cigars into the humidor straight away. The sudden increase in temperature will cause the outer wrapper leaf to expand too quickly and rupture, meaning all of your cigars will unravel.
Once the three days are up, move your cigars back to your humidor.
Of course, you also need to take care of your humidor during this time. So, while the cigars are in the freezer/refrigerator, you should:
Use a vacuum hose on the inside of the humidor including corners.
Use a clean, slightly damp towel to wipe down the inside of the humidor.
Repeat steps 1 – 3 depending on how paranoid you are.
In all seriousness, you shouldn’t need to clean your humidor multiple times, but damnit when your talking about losing hundreds or even thousands of dollars worth of cigars, it pays to be a bit cautious.