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Places & People

RIP Martin Gastanaga, AKA Skullsucker

martinMartin Patrick Gastanaga (49) died May 14, 2016 in a tragic motorcycle accident. Martin lived a life of great adventure, excitement, love and laughter. Born June 24, 1966 in Reno, Nevada, Martin was proud to be a fourth generation Nevadan. He spent his childhood in Lake Tahoe, moved to Reno in high school and graduated from Reno High in 1985. He attended UNR but got sidetracked opening his first business, Aztech Cyberspace (which later became Twelve Horses) with his dear friend Jay MacDonald. He held various positions in the technology industry, and was most recently employed with Renown Medical Center.

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Heavenly Hand-Rolled

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Heavenly Hand Rolled 1Who are these beautiful women?

Cigar aficionados, please allow me to introduce you to the Cigar Angels! Headquartered out of Portland, Oregon, the Cigar Angels is the most beautiful and unique group of women to offer hand-rolled cigars and first-class cigar concierge services.

Formed in early 2015, and the brainchild of Head Angel Ruth Rosebery-Wegner, the Cigar Angels has since taken the cigar culture in Portland by storm, and can often be found hosting events ranging from charity fund-raisers and golf tournaments to weddings and luxurious dinner parties.

Each Cigar Angel is individually trained to provide the best personal service as hostess, cigar roller or cigar concierge, and all are skilled at introducing your guests to the world of cigars. Their knowledge and beauty are sure to leave a lasting impression.

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IPCPR 2015 Notes and Dispatches:

Pinar del Rio

Fresh-Rolled Cigar First Thing in the Morning!

To open Monday morning’s 'work' at the IPCPR show, I called at Pinar del Rio (PDR), a company whose retail home-base is Don Leoncio Cigars, located on the world famous Canal Street in New Orleans. I was greeted by a couple folks, including owner and tabaquero Abe Flores.

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PDR’s new developments this year include some line extensions to their Flores y Rodriguez brand. The first of these is the Connecticut Valley Reserve, and it's some pretty! The cigars are double-wrapped, with the outer leaf being a Connecticut broadleaf maduro (with anywhere from 5 to 7 years of age on it). Beneath that, there’s either a Nicaraguan Jalapa or Ecuadorian Habano. These lines will come in four vitolas - a perfecto, belicoso and two Parejo sizes.

To the Gran Reserva brand, Abe has added a new offering with an Ecuadoran sungrown wrapper leaf. Look for these to ship to your local tobacconist in November.

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Where To Smoke In San Antonio

If you’re like me, and neither smoke in the house nor have the disposable income to convert the garage or basement into a ‘man cave’, the weather is eventually going to force you to find a place to smoke. Fortunately for me, there are several in San Antonio.

Where To Smoke In San Antonio 1Starting with the ‘elephant in the room’, The Humidor (now Club Humidor) has a shop downtown in the Menger Hotel, the flagship store on San Pedro Avenue, a location at the Shops at Stone Oak, a very nice store at Huebner and Vance Jackson, and the store on Thousand Oaks – the last mentioned being my personal choice on most occasions, as it is closest to my house. Run for years by the Rumbo family (who were up for a Davidoff award at last year's IPCPR), The Humidor is a great example of a brick-and-mortar cigar store.

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IPCPR 2015 Notes and Dispatches:

Global Marketing and Distribution

Corporate Culture hits the Cigar World

Maybe that is a harsh assessment. As I’m walking down one of the main aisles crossing the show floor, I see a guy at an exhibit, and I get flagged down with, "HEY, TOMMY!" I’m thinking, yes, I recognize you, but I have to let the wheels spin a bit. I say hello to longtime CW member and staunch Dallas crew denizen, Trey Harris, better known on this site as live2fish. Jefslat, Frau Evil and I have all spoken to him at different times. We had last seen Trey at the previous RTDA show (before the organization renamed itself to IPCPR), which took place in 2007 in Houston. At that time, Trey was making the rounds with cigar writer extrodinaire and CW member Mowee, Frank Seltzer.

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A Cigar's Tale V

An article by Nathan Hale with Rob Hahn of HaVé Cigar Company

A Cigars Tale V 1“Start The Journey!” That’s not only the motto on the band of every HaVé cigar, but also something Rob Hahn has personal experience with.

Rob currently owns and operates a cigar shop, factory and cigar rolling school. As a matter of fact, while we were talking, he was actually rolling cigars. Now, this all sounds like a lot of work (and something that may make you cringe to think about any person running). But Ron is doing exactly what he loves and wants to do.

Rob retired years ago. When he did, he was ready to do something else – something he loved. He wanted to make cigars. Within a matter weeks of making that decision, Rob was on his way to, of all places, Alamogordo, New Mexico.

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IPCPR 2015 Dispatches and Notes

J. Fuego Cigar Co.Cigar Development by… EVERYONE

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Aimlessly wandering the show floor with assignments yet to complete, I was beckoned by the 'beach shack' that was the J. Fuego Cigar Company booth. Upon my asking, “What do you have new this year?”, the company's various representatives swelled about the beach/fishing shack motif that comprised their exhibit. “Jesus loves to fish….”  And it did make for a slightly different setting than most of the others.

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How I Became A L.O.L.A. (Lady of the Leaf Aficionado)

How I Became A L.O.L.A. 1I began smoking cigars in 2007 when my dear friend, Eric, introduced me to a divine Maduro by Rocky Patel. I am a very social person, and I love the camaraderie of cigar culture. The folks who are drawn to cigars like to engage in deeper conversations and in exchanging ideas rather than trivial small talk. Every cigar smoker I have met in my eight years as a L.O.L.A. (Lady of the Leaf Aficionado) has been an educated, well spoken, thoughtful person. Each of these individuals has also maintained a type of laid back cool and zest for life unique to cigar people. Hang around a few of us, and you'll see what I mean.

A fine cigar is a living, breathing work of art, and it is to be savored like anything of similar caliber – be it wine, coffee, chocolate or food. Cigars are a labor of love. From the skilled farmer who grows and cures the tobacco, to the master blender who lovingly chooses leaves for just the right balance and flavor profile, to the torcedor who ensures perfect construction, and finally to you and me (consumers who treasure that smoke like a wide eyed kid at Christmas), it's all about love. Cigars are like relationships. They must be treated with respect, maintained and cared for in order to retain their qualities.

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IPCPR 2015 Notes and Dispatches

Kuuts Cigars - An introduction to a new (to me) company


Right in the thick of the show, was a neat, clean, not-so-busy exhibit. It was too big and well-appointed to be that way. I finally got the time to visit and sit for a moment. Kuuts’ territory manager Edward Miranda sat with me and told me a little about their company. Kuuts is four years old, now, which means they were not in existence when I last covered the IPCPR show.  Their manufacturing company is in Danli, Honduras, a good place to be, as many cigar cognoscenti well know.  Their parent company is Spanish Tabak, a larger, continental concern in business for fifteen years, now.

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Cigars in Stuttgart

Stuttgart, Germany – August, 2015

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Bob 3The last several times I had visited Germany on business, the US dollar to Euro exchange rate was painful - very painful. It wasn’t quite two to one, though it wasn’t far from it either. But once I'd found my way to the Brauhaus in Boblingen and tasted that glorious dark German lager, the pain of an exchange rate eased. Now, flash forward a number of years to the current day, and the exchange rate is almost one to one... almost. Thank you Greece!

On a lazy Saturday afternoon, I found myself sitting comfortably on a 747-8 jumbo jet - a behemoth of a plane, operated by Lufthansa - flying over the Atlantic. I was knee deep into Hangover II, having just finished the original Hangover and with Hangover III queued up. It was a mindless way to pass the time, and to periodically fall into uncontrollable laughter.

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IPCPR 2015 Dispatches and Notes:

Arandoza Cigars



Social media led me to a manufacturer I hadn’t learned of, before. I saw tweets and such about Arandoza and a booth number. So, they’re at the show, wait, I’ve seen them in passing their area. I begin to interact with them and ask if I can stop by tomorrow? Of course, yes, they mostly say yes, I doubt any would reject.  When I get there, they’re right across from D’Crossier and Espinosa and I learn from Robert Arango that his cigars are made at La Zona, Eric Espinosa’s factory in Nicaragua.

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