Shit, I Hate It When My Hard Drive Fries Out…

Best laid plans, huh???  Fuckin’ ‘puters!!!

So, the day after my last post on May 9th about my recent visit with Hamlet, and after I had spent the previous number of days in getting a whole bunch of blog posts all put together with text and photos readied in files, my computer’s main hard drive decided it was gonna glitch out on me.  Shitty deal.  Normally, it would be a quick reinsertion of a new hard drive, install the backup from my secondary hard drive, and relatively good to go.  But, since I installed Windows 10 back just before New Year’s, for whatever reason, my Acronis backup software was turned off.  So, with the last backup completed on December 30th, that means that I had almost 5 months of pics, docs, e-mails (both personal and work-related), etc., all gone POOF!!! into the night.

Anywho, I’ve relatively been able to piece together what I had from before.  Thankfully, the vast amounts of pictures that I transferred to my computer in that timeline from my iPhone and other digital camera cards were either backed up on other portable drives, or still on my iPhone.  So, a TEENY little bit of sweat was wiped from my brow on that note.  That said, it has been an exercise in frustration in trying to do data recovery and reformatting, pulling stuff from here there and everywhere, to try to get to the same place that I was at already at the start of this month.

Fingers crossed for no more hiccups like that anymore.  Or at least for a good long while, until after I get all caught up on here.

More after the jump.

Cheers all.

A Detroit Evening with Hamlet Jaime Paredes…

So, similar to my write-up about my visit to see Hamlet Jaime Paredes for a “Tabaquero” cigar-line promotional evening at a Michigan brick-and-mortar shop back in January, I once again had the chance to go see him for another “Tabaquero” promotional night.  Nick Mitchell, the local Rocky Patel rep, had e-mailed me a while before, and gave me a head’s up of another night to visit with my Cuban buddy, this time at a spot a bit closer to me, in wonderful downtown Detroit.

Since emigrating from Cuba to the U.S. in January 2015, Hamlet has been working with Rocky Patel, and the two of them last year released the “Tabaquero” line of cigars, which were Hamlet’s baby under his palate- and blending-prowess.  This particular meet-up with Hamlet was again part of his touring program for the brand, and we met up at La Casa in downtown Detroit, MI, and I was able to bring along good brother Don / “Hubba”, from the Friends Of Habanos online cigar forum.

What a venue!  I was quite pleased by this locale.  Funnily enough, I’ve been to the parking lot right outside of La Casa a number of times – it’s the one I always go to for parking for taking in a Detroit Tigers game, as Comerica Park is literally just a few steps away across the street.  It was a nice cigar parlour, with a fairly well appointed shop and humidor downstairs (along with some interesting Xikar pouches, something custom made with a lithograph of a supposed Sylvester Stallone note, but something which the newer gal behind the counter was unable to tell me anything about)…

It also has a nice long main-bar with a good performance area for live jazz bands and the like, and a sparsely laid-out and intriguing upstairs VIP Lounge, with six or so different rooms, an outdoor terrace looking right at the Tigers’ play-place, and a really nicely appointed upstairs bar as well.  Comfortable chairs throughout, interestingly and nicely decorated all around, and just a great “vibe” to the place…

As during my January visit with Hamlet I tried one of the “Tabaquero” Toro cigars, this time I went with a Robusto Grande, a 5″ by 54-ring-gauge stick.  At only $10.99 USD a stick (prices different in each state due to tax variances), it’s quite a decent value.  I started the smoke at 7:05 pm, pairing it at various times with a Captain Morgan dark rum & Coke, then a straight Zacapa 23 rum, and lastly a Blue Moon Belgian-wheat beer.  Yup – some interesting pairings in there.

Hamlet, Nick, Don and I all had quite a bit of time to shoot the breeze.  Unfortunately, with the individuality and quantity of all the various rooms in the VIP Lounge, people were spread out all around.  Add that to the fact that it was a GORGEOUS evening out, and the attendance wasn’t as high as Nick was really hoping for.  There wasn’t as much of a “circling of the wagons” feeling to people hitting up Hamlet for questions and lots of time.  However, that loss let us sit and chill and relax and have lots of time to chat again.

Hamlet corrected me from my earlier post, and continuing thought initially that evening, that these “Tabaquero” cigars were Nicaraguan puros.  He corrected me that these are NOT Nicaraguan puros, but that they are instead Nicaraguan filler, the binder being half Mexican San Andrés and half Brazilian binder, and then the wrapper being Mexican San Andrés.  So, my bad on that (I’ve corrected that in my January post as well).

Talking about leaf, Don happened to ask Hamlet a question that got him on an interesting thought train, and that we had some good discussion about.  For the long and short of it, he stated that the Nicaraguan filler leaf, to him, seems EXACTLY like Cuban tobacco.  Yes, he acknowledged that obviously the taste is different, as the terroir from Cuban tobacco just has that certain essence, and tells a story of smoke that’s different on the palate from other region’s tobaccos.  But he said, if he closes his eyes, and he’s not actually smoking it, the physical properties seem damn near identical.  He said the texture, the tooth sometimes, the weight and tensile properties – it’s just like Cuban tobacco.  He said, to him, “if I close my eyes, it’s just like I’m back rolling at Briones Montoto [the old Romeo y Julieta factory].”

He also was quite excited – the “Tabaquero” Salamones just apparently got a 90 score in Cigar Aficionado.  Though I have my own personal gripes about Cigar Aficionado magazine itself (and especially the way they do scoring tastings), it still definitely will do good for him, Rocky, and the product line to get the extra attention that way.  He’s happy, so I’m happy – glad to see the extra attention coming his way.

And, once again, he did put on a clinic on cigar rolling aspects with his Culebra rolling display (funny to see the Stinky Cigar Ashtray with all the remnants in there too)…

Add to that, there was lots of other talk too.  Some interesting things coming in July at the IPCPR tobacco trade show, which he explained to me, and I’m excited to see come to fruition.  Also, hopefully his green card / U.S. citizenship is sorted out promptly as well, and we can make some plans for him to travel north of the border soon, as well as some other thoughts that he and I shared.

As for the cigar itself, while I found it didn’t start as well as my Toro from January, it was still quite nice, and finished fairly well.  It started somewhat harsh and tannic.  But, the cigars felt somewhat damp to me – while it isn’t overly humid in the region right now at all, and wasn’t that day, it definitely was more so compared to our January meet-up, so that could have had an effect.  Again though, this cigar reminded me thoroughly of some of my favourite Padron Serie 1926 and 1964 maduro sticks.  I had strong hits of dark rich leather throughout, and an omnipresent mahogany-and-cedar bold woodiness, with some dark fruits in there as well on the fringes.  The cigar had good volumes of smoke, and a medium-strength-and-not-overpowering peppery spiciness on the finish.

The stick finished at 8:38 pm, one-hour-and-thirty-three minutes.  I’d score it an easy 89.  Don had smoked one of the Coronas himself, and was amazed.  While he didn’t tell me any particular point scoring on it, I do believe he said he had the Robusto and the Toro before as well, and said the Corona was the winner, and worked so well with the blend.

Huh!  Who woulda thunk it?  Hamlet’s “Tabaquero” blend, working better with a skinnier format!!!  (Sorry – a bit of an inside joke for those that personally know Hamlet.  He HATES rolling thin-and-skinny cigars, as his preference is for Salamones and Robusto Extra / Canonazo formats and the like.  It’s funny as shit to get him swearing at you, Scarface-esque, when you ask him for “pencil sticks” though!!!!)


Well – I guess it’s only prudent that we all continue to bug him for a Lancero release then, right?!?!?  LOL.

Cheers all.

Further on the La Patrona jars from San Ramon Producciones…

So back in February of last year, I wrote about my visit to see Ramon Iglesias Centeno, who runs San Ramon Producciones down in Havana, Cuba, back during the November 2014 Encuentros Partagas.  Ramon had helped me do a run of special jars for some fellow international cohorts and degenerates in the previous year, and during my visit, he also released details to me and John Reiner of some images and concepts behind two new jars he was planning on coming out with – a line commemorating “La Patrona”, and another of the pre-revolution 1920’s-defunct brand “Baire”.  Please check out that initial post if you wish to read more on that initial stuff.

Well, there’s some new updates and pictures available (all photos courtesy of Ramon Iglesias Centeno / San Ramon Producciones)…

Back in late February / early March of this year, Ramon had posted to Facebook about making some miniature “La Patrona” perfume jars.  Don’t know why he did this prior to getting the main cigar jar line of them done, but it appears that’s now on the go.

Ramon has put some updates on his Facebook page, along with some pictures (forwarded to me by John Reiner – thanks John! – as I don’t have Facebook actually, LOL), which Ramon (with Jose Antonio Candia’s help) has allowed for me to share here.  Apparently, my jar is now going to be number 48 – yay, moving up in the world! – as he had a few cancellations.  With the kind assistance once again of Jose Antonio, he passed along some info and a translation for the writing on the Certificado card insert.

Ramon is apparently working on my and John’s jars already, so it’s good news and likely that they’ll be able to be given to us/me for this upcoming November’s Friends of Partagas Festival (that said, I’ll still keenly wait unexpectantly, until they’re actually in my hands, as sometimes things do definitely run on “Cuba time”, LOL).  These were initially stated to be released / available for the Encuentros Partagas in November 2015, so a year or so delayed is not too bad, considering.

Also, from the pictures shared, there’s a few things that appear different from the original details as I previously passed them along per Ramon’s statements at that time.  Instead of 120 units, it looks like only 100 now.  And, from those pictures, it appears that there’s generally nothing on the reverse of the jar itself.  Previously, Ramon had stated there would be a replication of a farmer’s almanac chart which was wrote by Don Alejandro Robaina from the year prior to his death.  Here’s keeping fingers crossed, hoping that that item is still going to be on there, and it’s just simply not in that graphical picture due to simplicity reasons.

Now, last but definitely not least, the details from Jose state that the writing on the Certificado card is apparently “a prayer tobacco growers use to invoke good health and nice weather for their crops.  The patron saint of tobacco growers is called Our Lady of the Snows, literally Nuestra Señora de Las Nieves.”

Photos courtesy of Ramon Iglesias Centeno / San Ramon Producciones

The prayer is translated as follows:

“Grant us, O Lord, by the glorious mediation of the forever loved Virgin Mary under the evoking of Las Nieves, the joy of health for our souls and bodies, and help us to be free from all hurricanes, pests and droughts and especially storms and lightning, against which she has always bestowed singular protection.  By the infinite power and merits vested in you by our Divine son Jesus Christ, who eternally lives and reigns beside you and the Holy Spirit for the centuries of the centuries…AMEN.”

Kind of interesting for a society that is fairly heavily non-secular and generally non-aligned religiously.  Beautiful nonetheless.

Those interested in ordering any jars from Ramon can contact him via his Facebook page at, or via his e-mail at

Cheers all.

Hmmmm…New Rum I Found…

So, when traveling over to Detroit with Don / “Hubba” to do another meet-up with Hamlet (post on that coming Monday)…

…I stumbled across this interesting bottle of rum:

I don’t know if the hype on the bottle is worth a lick or not.  But, at only $22 USD for a bottle, I figured it’d be worth a try.  After my previous rum tasting adventures, I might give this one a go!  I only fear from the label’s notes, of filtering through coconut charcoal, that this may be a slightly-more-potent version of Malibu coconut-infused rum.  Fingers crossed, I’ll have more on it shortly.

Cheers all.

Ahhhhh…Long-Stint Vacation Time!!!

So, April 21st has come and gone.  Vacation time!!!

I know, I know, I know – I’ve been promising more posts and updates for months now, but I know I’ve definitely been lacking in producing them.  Close friends and family are aware of goings on, but I’ve been getting a number of messages and e-mails from readers and other extended friends, wondering where the updates are, and what’s going on!  LOL.

Basically, long-story short…

The last little bit in the Military Police has caused some hardships at home.  It’s definitely been a trying few years, with the time away from family, but the last year specifically more so.  As I’ve said to others – it’s sometime hard to swallow always being away for days on end, protecting other people’s homes and kids, when I can’t even be home to tuck my own in every day.  So, there’s that issue to reconcile with my family life.  There’s also been some wooing from outside agencies too.  So, I made a decision back in the fall to take a bit of a step back.  I’ve currently released as a full-time, “regular force” patrol MP.  I’ve done a “component transfer” down to the reserves, as a still-credentialed MP (sort of – it’s as/when needed), still potentially able to do TASO / air marshal-type duties, etc.  And, it allows me to still do any overseas tours in the future.  As well, I’m looking towards a potential September or October-ish start with a civilian police force too.  So, that would let me have the best of both worlds, coming from the Military Police / TASO world, to have a civilian policing job, but still in as an MP reservist and TASO.  Very cool, and might be the best path forward for me and my family.

The plan for right now though is to take a number of months off to repair and replenish the homefront batteries – I’m planning to do relatively nothing until the daughter starts full-day junior-kindergarten in September.  Ahhhh, Canadian summertime – PERFECT TIMING!  Lots of time to smoke cigars, drink rum, watch the kids, do some home-repair / honey-do-list stuff.  And, lots of time to get stuff updated on here finally.

I have some stuff going back to last June almost, with quite a number of cigar reviews to get caught up on too (uuuhhhh, remember when the Diplomaticos Bushidos FIRST came out early last year???  Well, I got a nice sample from LCDH Toronto, but then failed to actually post my review up of it.  Oooops.)  Lots of flyin’-around-the-world-and-shit stuff to get up on here also.  I’m guessing, all told, I might have a post up on here roughly every other day or so, for the better part of almost two months, JUST to get caught up.  Pretty psyched actually.

So – that’s some of the background of what’s been going on.  Hope you enjoy the following few weeks of posts, until I’m back to “real-time” reviews again, and it should help get all of us all caught up again.  Sweeeeeeeet.

Cheers all.

Another Evening With Hamlet Coming Up…

So, back in January, I had a great evening catching up with Hamlet Jaime Paredes, at a cigar event over in Michigan.  We shared some good chats, I saw him in his element “working the crowd” again, and I (somewhat surprisingly) enjoyed his new line of non-Cuban cigars, which he’s paired up with Rocky Patel to produce.

Well, I was recently informed by Nick, the local rep, that Hamlet’s got another event coming up, later on this week in Detroit, MI.  For those that can make it, the info is in the picture below.

Hope to see you there!


Cheers all.