Monthly Archives: January 2016

Cornelius & Anthony

I’m numb.  The pleasure I just experienced was beyond words.  I just sat there after I finished smoking my first Cornelius & Anthony cigar and I couldn’t think of anything but the experience I just had.  If sex didn’t exist, the pinnacle of pleasure was mine – all mine.   This is a cigar that will not only work its way into the marketplace, but may have a crack at a coup. sailors

Cornelius & Anthony is the new premium cigar division of the Bailey family’s company portfolio.  The company’s owner, Steven Bailey, is the 5th generation to run his family business.  The Bailey family has been the largest tobacco grower in Virginia since 1866.  The company grows tobacco on 20 thousand acres in Virginia, manufactures cigarettes, manufactures vape products, and has now rounded out their family’s company with a premium cigar division.” (Smith)

Just a little more background, the cigar is made at the El Titan de Bronze factory in Miami.  This small factory has become a cathedral where tobacco is not just rolled into cigars with a special blend but has developed into a haven where raw nature is transformed into a product that cannot be found elsewhere.  El Titan de Bronze is a safe house where your senses cannot be fooled into cigar chicanery.  The cigars that are produced here are sacrosanct.

The Cornelius is the perfect blend of tobaccos – an Ecuadorian habano wrapper and binder, with a Nicaraguan filler – gently brought together to produce the impeccable rush of flavors.   The flawless essence of what pure satisfaction can be.  And I can’t believe I’m writing these superlative accolades so early in the game.   The pre-draw was as delicious as the lit cigar itself.  The flood of flavors the instant I put flame to the foot had me in a mellifluous state of astonishment.  This can’t be happening.  Something has to swerve this newcomer off the road into a horrible, devastating thump. But it didn’t happen.  It blossomed into one of the most existential experiences I can remember ever having with an unknown, boutique cigar.lightedca

There was charcoal, charred cherry wood, espresso, silken smooth cumulous clouds of aromatic aroma all being produced from the moment it was lighted.  The cigar is amazing.  How trite that sounds.   But if you are familiar with any work by the composer, Philip Glass, listen to Glassworks https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Stu7h7Qup8 (skip the damn commercials) and you may be on the cusp of experiencing this new cigar without ever having the pleasure of smoking it.  It lulls you into a place where you never want to leave.  It draws you into the moment and hypnotically keeps you there.

There is no bitterness, nothing littered about to take your mind off the luxurious smoking experience at hand.  The flavors morph into a mix that complements each individual essence creating a cigar that has to be reckoned with.  And will be.

Toward the end of the smoke I did notice a subtle hint of spice and the definite lilt of charred cherry wood, perhaps from a pipe that has aged and sat and with this resting has been allowed to retain its pure natural wood flavor sans impurities once paired with tobacco.  How do I know this?  I’ve smoked a pipe made of cherry wood and that is exactly what this essence reminded me of.

I know of no other cigar that comes at you with such ferocity yet is as gentle as a lamb as it introduces what I would call one of the best cigars I have ever smoked.  And I have smoked many a cigar and none to my recollection has had this effect on me.caband

When the cigar will be released has not been officially announced.  But rest assured that when it appears in your shop take the time to pick one up and put aside an hour or a bit more and be ready for one of the most intoxitating, most memorable smokes you have ever had.  And if you’re honest, you will agree with me that this is truth, not conjecture or a guess or a hope or a prayer, or the empty words of a broker trying to sell his wares.  It is a fact.

Say the name aloud – Cornelius & Anthony.  Repeat it several times so it rolls off your tongue so when you request it at your tobacconist’s store you will walk in with confidence and know that you have found what some may consider the Holy Grail.

I know I’m bleeding all over this cigar, I rep it.  But I don’t have to rep it for you to experience it.  I won’t have to sell it; the cigar will sell itself over and over again.   I am still reeling from what I have just smoked – and you will too.

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Conundrum

jan morris library

Conundrum.   A word not used very often.  The official definition from Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary (1977©) states, “1: . . . an intricate and difficult problem syn see mystery.”  It is the title to the seminal memoir (1974) of Jan Morris.  “Born James Humphrey Morris, 2 October 1926, is a Welsh historian, author and travel writer.   She is known particularly for the Pax Britannica trilogy (1968–78), a history of the British Empire, and for portraits of cities, notably Oxford, Venice, Trieste, Hong Kong, and New York City.  Born in England of an English mother and Welsh father, Morris was educated at Lancing College, West Sussex, and Christ Church, Oxford, and considers herself Welsh.   A trans woman, she was published under her birth name until 1972, when she transitioned from living as male to living as female.” (Wiki)sublime

I hope you got this far in your reading because by now you’re asking yourself what the hell does the above have to do with cigars?  Everything and nothing.  Sounds like Yoda, uh?  No, I bring up her book because the cigar industry is in a conundrum.  It is changing.  Not its sex (obviously), but it is shifting and at such a rapid pace it is difficult to keep up with it.  Of course, that’s if you follow it, as I must because I am in the business.  For your ordinary bloke on the street a cigar is a cigar is a cigar.  Move on.

But for us in the industry, the speed at which it’s headed is going to experience a brick wall collision and it’s mighty close to the clay-molded, oblong objects, fortified with mortar now.  And when it hits this ersatz wall and comes smashing down it will leave an absolute conflagration of cigar chaos that may take years to sort through to organize and begin the rebuilding process.  But I respectfully remind everyone of 9/11 and as horrific the incident – we came through.  We survived.  But we changed.rake

I speak of the many manufacturers that are going ape-shit creating cigars for anyone and everyone who wants a brand made.  Anyone.   Me.  You.  Your neighbor.  Your cigar store owner.  The lawyer.  The physician.  The welder.  The list can go on forever.  Of course, we’re talking business.  Of course, the manufacturer has the product; you have the idea for a blend – and the money, so let’s get together and make this thing happen.

The appetite that the consumer has for new cigars is ravenous.  I always think of the movie, “Insatiable,” – a “deep blue” classic where the main character’s appetite for sex was incapable of being satisfied.  No one and nothing thought of was enough for her gratification.  And that’s where we are in the cigar industry right now.  More and more cigars are being produced and brought into a market that is already saturated with brands – brands that will be around for maybe a year or two.  There is no intent to build the brand, but only to sell the cigar, get on FB or some other form of social media and become an instant cigar star.  Any Warhol was right – everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame.noel

“Fifteen minutes of fame is short-lived media publicity or celebrity of an individual or phenomenon. The expression is credited to Andy Warhol, who included the words ‘In the future; everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes’ in the program for a 1968 exhibition of his work at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden.  Photographer Nat Finkelstein claims credit for the expression, stating that he was photographing Warhol in 1966 for a proposed book.   A crowd gathered trying to get into the pictures and Warhol supposedly remarked that everyone wants to be famous, to which Finkelstein replied, “Yeah, for about fifteen minutes, Andy.”

So where does that leave us?  The manufacturing of new cigars is not going to stop.  This includes the BIG boys, too.  One “boutique” manufacturer who has now gone main stream has over 30 brands, not to mention the house and private blends he produces.  A doctor, lawyer, a kid, has been hankering to make a cigar and finally comes up with the cash.  So the trip to Honduras, or Nicaragua, or the Dominican Republic is made and the search is on.  “I’m gonna make me a cigar.” jsk

And so the process begins.  And wouldn’t ya know it, the cigar is made and it’s a good one.  Friends, local shops, and customers they all like it.  So after three weeks of fame, the maker decides to go national and make it big -ergo, the glut of boutique cigars we are experiencing today.  This is a conundrum.   It’s a speeding industry getting closer and closer to the wall and when it hits – tobacco brands will be scattered all over the place.  And not one good one will be left standing.  At least Jan Morris only changed once, became who she wanted to be, and made a living without further additions or subtractions.  She built herself as the brand and went on to become a courageous prolific writer.

brickwallThe cigar industry manufacturers must create some type of governor for themselves on manufacturing new cigars and making too many out of the same factory or they will all start to taste the same – some do already because a brand is not being built – a cigar is being sold.   And well-known brands that are even recognizable by the non-smoker – will never exist again.  Only the new will keep coming out and then fading away after the cachet has worn off.  Build a brand first.  Add sizes, wrappers, and limited runs later.  Slow down manufacturers.   Start stepping on the brakes cigar star hopefuls.  I’m beginning to see red, oblong bricks in the distance.

 

Freedom!

freedomYou are now reading a FREE blog.  Nothing is off limits as regards special interests or the accusations of spamming, or intrusions of any kind.  It is your choice to get in contact with the blog and I hope that you do.  Yes, I am disappointed with the way the blog was bandied about from some of the groups.  I was under the impression that we are all a cohesive cigar community of leaf lovers and what a broker would have to say about his daily observations would be of interest to anyone that smokes a cigar.  I was wrong.  So now, you have your own choice of reading The Blog! or not.  (You always did, all you needed to do was scroll past the article – no harm no foul.)  Now you can read the blog on my wall, and the following links (if you like my page you get the blog automatically)  https://www.facebook.com/IrvCigarBrokerPage/  or directly thru WordPress at https://irvcigarbroker.wordpress.com  or  https://www.facebook.com/irv.cigarbroker (if we are friends the blog is posted automatically)   or  https://www.linkedin.com/ – or you are now able to download my app:   Irv CigarBroker: The Blog! via iTunes or the Android app stores.

I actually thought of trashing the whole project, but too many people were on the positive side of the ledger and I will not disappoint.  Maybe, now knowing what I know, I will be even more open about the cigar business, cigar reviews and cigar-related news, etc.  My blog is not your typical one, and I had enough comments of “Keep it up brother;  I love reading your blog; I’ve been entertained by your work,” to roll over and p&#s on myself.  So that’s the last I have to say about my move away from the groups.  The end.  And now for today’s blog. . .

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NYDM

Every once and awhile I have a cigar that’s a sleeper.  It moves, but at a tortoise’s pace.  It’s a great cigar, has won blind-taste contests over Cuban cigars, and has longevity on its side.  That cigar is the Daniel Marshall Red Label Cigar.  

Daniel’s cigar has been in production since 1996.   It’s a Nica cigar that has street cred.  It just doesn’t have a fancy name, or a band that glows in the dark.  It’s a traditional cigar that is to be smoked as one would relax and enjoy the whole experience.

The flavor is not a mish-moshed cornucopia of pencil lead, leather, or corned beef hash, it is a true, long leaf filler cigar with tobacco that delivers what I think every cigar smoker in the world wants, aged tobacco flavor with the subtle essences of chocolate, espresso, and the expectation of consistency along with the perfect draw and burn.  And he has achieved this over and over and over again each year now for the past 20 years.dmb

So why isn’t the Daniel Marshall Red Label cigar on everyone’s rotation?  Because he has invested his time and energy promoting the cigar in Europe, going head-to-head with the Cuban cigars.  His enthusiasm is also plowed into his production of some of the finest humidors ever made.  He has literally traveled the world presenting his humidors to Heads of State. Presidents, movie stars, and the glitterati of the cigar social set (and there is a cigar social set).

DM humidor1

His mark has been made in the European market for both his artisanal passions, and now he wants the cigar smokers in the US to experience that same feeling of elegance and élan that seems to be second nature in Europe.  He wants to concentrate on the smokers in the US so they, too, can be entranced with his style of panache.

He has just come out with a 10-count box of all his sizes.  There are seven sizes, so no one can say he is not giving the cigar smoker – young and old – a choice.  His line includes the robusto, torpedo, churchill, corona, petite corona, the gigante for those who just have to get their mouths stretched, and the “Papa Joe” panatela.

Daniel is also introducing a new blend and this is exciting news after all these years.  He’s experimenting with a new manufacturer and who knows what he’ll come up with.  All I know is that he is only interested in producing the “Talk of the Town.” (New Yorker)

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credits

And it goes so well with a Taratino film.  I picked “Django Unchained” and even though I wasn’t able to smoke the cigar while watching the movie, I mentally immersed myself simultaneously in both the movie and the cigar.  The Daniel Marshall Red Label was the perfect complement to a sad and sordid chapter in our history that was made watchable with the memory of a calming cigar by one of the best.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tf1B9ktRCkg

 

 

IrvCigarBroker

LAST GROUP POST: This will be the last time I send out my blog to ANY group.  If you would like to continue to read it, please download the app.  Or become friends or like my FB business pagehttps://www.facebook.com/IrvCigarBrokerPage/ and you’ll get it automatically.  All the info is below.  Thanks to all those who read and enjoy it.

It’s been a challenge for me to keep up with the warp speed of today’s technology.  Hell, I still write my cigar orders on paper forms and fax or email them into the manufacturer.  So to announce what I have to offer to those who faithfully read or will eventually become readers of my blog each day – Irv CigarBroker: The Blog!  I am so very proud and excited to announce that you can now access The Blog throughMY NEW APP!

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The app, with its iconic logo of me walking…

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LAST GROUP POST.

IrvCigarBroker

LAST GROUP POST: This will be the last time I send out my blog to ANY group.  If you would like to continue to read it, please download the app.  Or become friends or like my FB business page https://www.facebook.com/IrvCigarBrokerPage/ and you’ll get it automatically.  All the info is below.  Thanks to all those who read and enjoy it.

It’s been a challenge for me to keep up with the warp speed of today’s technology.  Hell, I still write my cigar orders on paper forms and fax or email them into the manufacturer.  So to announce what I have to offer to those who faithfully read or will eventually become readers of my blog each day – Irv CigarBroker: The Blog!  I am so very proud and excited to announce that you can now access The Blog through MY NEW APP!

015 - Copy

The app, with its iconic logo of me walking…

View original post 250 more words

Diana Silvius Gits (1934-2016)

It was unusually sunny this day.  More often than not in January in Chicago, the skies are cloudy, and the threat of a storm is more likely than the look of the beginning of spring.  But what a fortunate glow to celebrate and pay homage to one of the Titans of Tobacco – Diana Silvius Gits, who passed away last week at the age of 81.diana

For those of you who live in the world of tobacco, especially those who live in Chicago, her name is synonymous with cigars.  For those of you who are not familiar with this Legend, Diana Silvius Gits was “the” lady in the cigar industry.

If I were to sum up the contribution Diana gave to the cigar industry, it was that no matter what your passion – you can make it.  Diana loved two businesses one was art (An award winner and later an art instructor.), the other the tobacco business.

She and her then husband, Gerald Gits, opened an art gallery in 1963 in the Old Town section of Chicago.  The gallery sold work by local artists, a variety of merchandise, and tobacco products.  The name UpDown came from the fact that the art was downstairs and the cigars etc. were located upstairs.  As her interest in cigars grew so did her desire to be a cigar specialty shop.  She moved to the present location in 1976.  She also renamed the business UpDown Cigar and the rest is history.   Many believed that a woman couldn’t survive in an industry that was predominately run by men for men – but she did.

diana yt

I was never close to her in business, but anytime I would meet her (usually at the conventions), she always remembered my name and greeted me with her eyes sparkling behind her signature over-sized glasses and what I would call her bright smile.

The industry has indeed lost a Tough Titan of Tobacco. But she was able to push doors that were difficult to open, accomplish things that were never done before, and lasted longer in a competitive business – again, dare I say – run by men.

I was at the memorial service and the crowd that gathered in the back of St. Michael Church in Old Town was all buzzing with stories, moments of memories that led to laughter, and much hugging as any pre-service memorial would inspire.wpgrill

As I paid my last respects to Diana, I couldn’t help but think that the world of cigars will go on without her. While I was driving to the church, the streets of Chicago’s Loop were teeming with cars as they continued to swerve for position and then sped right along down La Salle.  I passed the White Palace Grill at 1159 S. Canal – busy as usual – one of Chicago’s landmark diners.  A food truck was waiting for the lunch hour crowd and the movement of buses, taxis and people never stopped unaware that a local legend had passed and would never be heard from again.

So when I arrived at the church, the first person I see is Phil Ledbetter, the current owner of UpDown Cigar.  He shook my hand and said he appreciated that I could make it.  I greeted many other reps, and people I know in the business, and then I slowly moved to the casket on my left to pay my respects.church

Afterwards I sat down in a back pew and began to admire the magnificent beauty of St. Michael Church where the service took place.  With the sun bursting through the ornate stained-glass windows, it turned the towering altar into a stunning array of hues and colors.  I sat there motionless and began to think of the business.  It’s not always so beautiful, it’s not always so sunny, it’s not always so happy – but I began to think of all the changes that have taken place in the cigar industry and how changes will continue – with or without Diana.

Then I got up and left my pew and walked outside.  I took a photo of the church and walked back to my car.  Then I drove to 1550 N. Wells St. and parked.   I got out, and at the best angle I could find, considering the blazing rays of the sun, took a shot of one of the most famous cigar shops in the city of Chicago, created by the most famous cigar woman in the city of Chicago – and perhaps the cigar industry.

 

A Trio of Events

rod serling ng

During the years of 1970 and 1973, Rod Serling of “Twilight Zone” fame, hosted a spin-off television show called “Night Gallery.”  It was an anthology series and each show began with Rod surrounded by a group of paintings.  His intro usually was, “Good evening and welcome to a private showing of three paintings, displayed here for the first time. Each is a collector’s item in its own way—not because of any special artistic quality, but because each captures on a canvas, suspends in time and space, a frozen moment of a nightmare.” (Wiki)

Today was no nightmare, but rather a collection of various segments or photos, if you will, of a span of about an hour.  Each segment had its own subject, but all are interconnected with cigars.  So, sit back and relax and enjoy an hour in the life of Irv CigarBroker.   (My introduction.)

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My main goal today was to visit Old Stogies Cigars and Barber Shop.  Yep, right on 214 E. Main are Larry’s businesses.  It’s a unique combination and it works like a charm.  I usually see him during his lunch hour as I did today.  We’ll sit in the lounge and smoke cigars.  I gave him a whole slew of samples today because he isn’t buying until he gets back from his trip to Nicaragua in three weeks. larry

But he was enthralled by the Flor D’Crossier Coloniales from the brand’s Selection No. 512 series.  Larry said he usually doesn’t pick up distinct flavors in a cigar, but he was sure talking about this one.  Price is a big factor where he is located in Streator, Illinois.  So in this case showing him that cigar was right on the money.

His shop is a rather unusual, eclectic collection of what some folks might call junk. But each piece has a special meaning to Larry and adds flavor to the atmosphere.  So if you’re a guy who just likes to sit and look around there’s enough there to keep you busy.  Otherwise, there’s the screen.  Always the screen.

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prunlit

During my time with Larry I decided to light up another Don Abram Harris selection.  This time I tried the Don Abram Harris Presidential Reserve Churchill (7×48).  He “created these as his personal cigar. Those few who had the opportunity to try them soon convinced him to make the cigar available to the public. A cigar of this magnitude is one to be kept on the top shelf and smoked on the best occasions. Created with a special blend of the finest Puerto Rican tobacco, this cigar is set off by a subtle lacing of 150 Anniversary Grand Marnier that is sure to please your palate. This is a cigar you take your time smoking – one that shouldn’t be rushed, so sit yourself down and enjoy.”  (Website)

And I did.  But the taste of Grand Marnier was so subtle it was lost in the mix of the aged Puerto Rican tobaccos.  I enjoyed the Cameroon wrapper and it also comes in U.S. Connecticut.  The burn was good and the draw was a bit tight for my liking.  By the time I was half way through, it had opened up and the pure tobacco was burning and the smoke turned into a smooth, pleasant experience.

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After the hour was up, Larry could see that there were two guys waiting at the door.  So we ended our meeting.  Larry donned his barber shop attire.  “Take a bit more off the top and not so much off the sides,” I recall the gentleman who sat in the chair first say.  His buddy was already immersed in the local paper and barely grunted a “Hey” when I said hello.  “See you when you get back, Larry.”

So I get in the car and I’m running through the messages on my phone when it rings and the ID comes up “Unknown Caller.”  Usually I let those go, but I was curious and picked up.  And lucky I did.  It was a gentleman from a cigar manufacturer who was looking for me.  “Irv?”  “That’s me.”

blackberry

 

Well the conversation escalated from introduction to an offer to rep a new cigar that I haven’t even tried yet.  The reason he was calling me was because I was recommended and he liked what he heard from those who gave me the thumbs up.  And you know you could feel his enthusiasm over the phone.  I liked that.  And I even liked better when he said he needed this territory covered and he wanted me to do it.  I think my chest puffed out a bit, but you wouldn’t know, it was so cold the coat I had on covered that ego trip.

He talked about the cigar, the finances backing it, and the quality of the manufacturer.  I happen to know the factory where the cigar will be made and I’m here to say that he picked a good one – a very solid, reliable cigar rolling heaven.  His excitement was infectious so I said I would take a look at the cigar samples and that I would email him my mailing info and email.  He told me he’d get those samples out straightaway.

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streator

And all this happened in about an hour.  And I still had the afternoon to go.   Who knows what other three photos I would encounter?  So off to McDonald’s I went, again scrolled through the screen on my phone, and was on my way.  I tell you, every day is a surprise in this business and that ain’t bad.