5thStarChicago

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About 5thStarChicago

  • Rank
    Marevas
  • Birthday 03/23/1978

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    http://www.updowncigar.com
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  • Location
    Chicago, USA

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  1. This gets a D- which is unfortunate as there have been since great cigars from this box. As the pic shows, only HSA can manage to have a completely warped cigar in a straight cedar lined tubo. Even with a Perfec Draw this thing would barely draw. The headache caused by trying to pull smoke from this arc, combined with driving in downtown Chicago traffic on a rainy afternoon, makes this as almost a complete fail. The fact that the little flavor I managed to get was decent kept it from being a solid F. Too bad this review didn't coincide with the "packaging fail" contest last week or I could have submitted this on two separate posts. Cheers!
  2. I stock those regularly and they are really good. It's Hamlet's first blend using non-Cuban tobacco and the blend really shines in the corona, salomon , Balla and those culebras (robo and toro less so). They were originally just for Hamlet events but are available now. Medium bodied, good flavor and very good construction for a culebra. We've moved through quite a few and have had 0 construction or draw issues. We ever used those as the first cigar for our last Hamlet event. It was fun watching 30 people all smoking crooked ass cigars together and telling the story behind it.
  3. There is definitely a shortage of Broadleaf for the US market, and you're correct as to why Pete is using Mexican San Andreas wrapper on the TAA and other releases. The batch from Altadis' farm was gorgeous and plentiful but they also use a lot of it their machine made (larger and more profitable) portfolio. Ironically, there was another farm directly across the road, owned by another massive corporation known for mass market cigars and one major premium brand, and the broadleaf there was much smaller and sadder and hadn't been topped yet.
  4. They still grow a little bit of shade wrapper in Connecticut but most of non-Cuban shade wrapper is now grown in Ecuador. Very few cigars on the US market use real USA shade any more. Even Davidoff wrapper is Ecuador Connecticut now. Shade, be it in Cuba or elsewhere, is used not only to protect the leaf from the elements but also to keep it lighter and thinner. Broadleaf, and a lot of other sun grown leaf, is much thicker and more durable so it can yield a lot of wrapper if it is handled properly. Most of the damage comes from human interaction but the sun, wind and other elements take their toll too.
  5. So I know it's not Cuba, but I had the chance to visit Altadis USA's Connecticut Broadleaf farm last week during the harvest. Since we're all cigar lovers here, I thought I'd share some photos. There's a brief description under some of the photos. Enjoy and feel free to ask questions. I never get tired of being in tobacco fields. They are gorgeous. These plants have already been topped are were going to be harvested any day. Broadleaf is stalk cut, meaning that the leaves stay on the stalk instead of coming off in primings. The top is cut earlier so the bottom (huge) leaves can really grow and get all the nutrients in the final stage of growth. Undoubtedly the biggest leaves I've ever seen in person. Flowers and seed pods left on for show (untopped plant). Broadlead doesn't grow as tall as shade / other varietals. Very very old seeding tractor, still in use today. Workers ride on each station and feed the seedlings into a wheel that places them equidistant from each other. Replacement parts have to be made in house. Cutting the plants, of course by hand. Each person makes their own custom ax out of a saw blade and weight it to their personal preference. They are sharpened after every row. The stalks and leaves sit on the ground for 45 minutes before they are put onto the barn slats so the leaves can start to wilt and be less rigid and be handled without damaging the lead. A torn leaf means it can't be wrapper which means less ROI. Curing barns can be fully vented on the sides to control temp and humidity during 6 to 8 weeks of curing. Fresh cut stalks being hung in the barns. Another barn that had been filled earlier (I think a week before). This I had never seen in practice before. Cooler temps and rain were moving into the area so they use propane burners with metal plates above to control the temp and excess humidity. Notice the barn slats were all closed. They rushed us in and out via a small side door to keep as much heat in the barn as possible. Welp, that's it. Hope you all enjoyed a little view of Connecticut Broadleaf!
  6. The Partagas Maduro No.1 is one of my favorite cigars and really the only regular production cigars that I keep multiple boxes of. I've never left Havana without one and have acquired them from Prez as well. I find that they smoke great young or fresh and while there some variance from batch to batch they are relatively consistant (especially for Habanos). I'm anxiously awaiting the eventual (supposed) release of the new formats. This particular box cigar was acquired in Havana and I haven't smoked many from it so I thought this would be a fitting time. At light up it had more spice than usual along with a toasted sweetness. The spice was heavier than usual and was a bit unbalanced. It had a bit of a tang on the retrohale that was also a little odd. Fortunately, about 2 minutes in and everything calmed down and became more familiar. Everything settled in, the tang was gone, the spice settled down a lot and toasted dark chocolate bitter sweetness really started to shine with a little saltiness to round it out. The profile is fantastic and this cigar still has plenty of Cuban sweet spice but the wrapper adds a toasted cocoa that comes off great and that tip of the tongue sweetness is why I keep buying these. The balance between the flavor and strength (medium bodied) is superb. I cracked a bottle of Lavery Brewing Devil Bird Bourbon Barreled Aged Porter and heaped on the flavor. I enjoyed it so much I forgot to take any more photos. I have no idea what to grade this but they will forever be in my rotation and in quantity. This example started off harsher than others but wasted little time getting to where it should be. I'll stash the remainder of this box for a bit longer and see what happens. Cheers!
  7. I chose the CoRo... only in the hopes that they are as good as the one from the last blind taste challenge.
  8. Thanks. With Hamlet around, it's hard not to have fun. I'm hiding the Scotch from him until at least 6:30...
  9. -POSTED WITH EL PREZ'S BLESSING AND PERMISSION- As Hamlet Paredes is well known and a friend to many fellow members here, I thought I'd share an event I'm hosting this Wednesday for any members in or near Chicago. This Wednesday May 8th 5pm - 8pm, Hamlet will be at Up Down Cigar in Chicago for a rolling demonstration, Q&A and party! We've been supporters of Hamlet's U.S. cigars for a while and have a great time when he's in town. If you're free, come have a drink and some of his cigars with us. For attendees, we'll be teasing our new Up Down Exclusive collaboration with Hamlet, the Hamlet 25th Anniversary Corona. $49.00 ticket includes: - Meet & Greet with Hamlet to discuss all things cigars - Rolling demonstration - 6 Hamlet cigars including a sneak preview of our new Up Down Exclusive - Beer from Goose Island - Special promos on all Hamlet cigars Space is limited to 40 people. Please call Up Down at 1-312 337-8025 to register. Feel free to PM me or call with any questions. Cheers, Phil
  10. I can vouch for Vigilant. I have seen some of their commercial build outs and they are top quality builds. I'd consider them in an instant for a custom job. I think they aren't mentioned much because they are pricey and there are so many Chinese knock offs for 1/3 the price.
  11. Illusione & Tatuaje were my favorites but the La Aurora Hors d'age is the non cc of 2018 in my book. Can't smoking them.
  12. Just returned to the U.S. from the Havana via Miami last week. Miami customs is a breeze. Worst case, you pay a duty on over $800 dollars worth of stuff but I've never been asked anything by customs in miami. Regarding leaving Cuba, definitely get Facturas for boxes and receipts for custom rolls. They seem to be cracking down on if you have 2 boxes or more. I've been harassed the last 2 times I've been there and heard horror stories from others so get those facturas!
  13. I attempted to do this years ago but gave up quickly. I smoke too often, have tons of cigars and don't have the discipline to update a spreadsheet every time I smoke Why ruin the cigar smoking experience with accounting and inventory management?

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