Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Crux of the Matter* <--Note the first sparkle!

We're sitting at the Mr.J's Havana cigar dinner in that seekrit location and the featured cigars are those by Crux.

"Who?" you ask, and rightfully so, because if you happened to spend the summer smoking old favorites, you might have missed this newcomer to the cigar scene. This past June, they launched the Passport, Ninfamaniac, and Skeeterz, followed quickly in July with Classic and the Bull and Bear.

At the dinner, we were given the first three and we jumped right in! We're nice like that!

First up? Passport, which comes in three sizes: the toro (6 x 48,which Valentino happens to be smoking right this second**), 5.5 x 44, and 7 x 40. The wrapper is Ecuadorean, the binder and filler from Nicaragua, which perked Valentino up before he even lit it. After all, as you must know by now, my guy is the #1 fan of Nicaraguan tobacco. 

True story.
When Valentino first toasted and lit the Passport, I waited patiently, slowly slipping the sangria that accidentally wound up in front of me. (That happens a lot at cigar dinners, for some reason.) He didn't make the "This is effing good," face that occasionally occurs upon the first puffs. But because this was something brand-spanking new, he took the time to savor over a third of the cigar (and I waited patiently, savoring one half of the sangria) before making the proclamation that it was pretty darned good.  Definitely worthy of some quality time.

I wasn't sitting directly next to him, poking him and annoying the crap out of him, like I usually am, not unlike a pesky mosquito (or should I say "skeeter"<--see what I did there?) and because there were so many guys smoking different cigars from Crux, I didn't get a chance to enjoy a good second hand smoke, although I did manage to capture and rein in an occasional chocolate and tobacco taste as friends stopped by our table to chat. Sangria makes me chatty.

Valentino said the Passport was hovering on the high-end of medium/low end of full.*** He also said he was getting a variety of flavors as he progressed through the tasty stick. The chocolate was an actual thing--not just my subliminal cry for dessert. He also picked up some cedar and citrus, along with pepper and leather. I continued drinking and accidentally stopped listening.

As the dinner portion of the evening ended, the raffle began and this happened:

Valentino won a travel humidor loaded with Crux cigars, compliments of the company. Thanks, guys! Our hero, along with the three other winners, and (L-R) Cigar Rep Mike Ferraro, Mr. J's Havana's Mark Feeley, Mr. J himself [Paul Joyal], and Tom, son of Mr. J! Huzzah! Congratulations! And if you must know, I also won--a table-top lighter offered by Mike! Thanks, Mike! Thanks all you super awesome guys! Signed, the token girl at the cigar dinners! XOXO
When the festivities wound down, we headed home, but then accidentally wound up at Habanos, where Valentino tried out the 7 x 33 Ninfamaniac, which comes in natural and maduro, although we only had a natural handy. The Esteli, Nicaragua filler and Indonesian binder are lovingly wrapped in Habana Jalapa. had this to say about the Ninfamaniac's unique shape and taste: "There isn’t much problem burning through the closed foot of the cigar and establishing a somewhat firm but certainly acceptable flow of air that produces more than enough smoke. I do find myself adjusting how much of the cap to clip off in an attempt to preserve some of the pointed head while also ensuring there is enough of an opening to enable adequate air flow. There are touches of sweetness on the palate in the early going, along with some dry soil notes and a certain tangy zing that I’m inclined to think is coming from the Indonesian binder."

He finished that one, smoking it right down to the finger-burning nubbin and we didn't really feel like ending the evening (even though someone had an 8:00 class and had no right even being awake at that time!), so he fired up the third of the evening, the 4 x 32 Skeeterz--perfect for when you want quick and delicious. (Heh heh)  It has the same filler, binder, wrapper elements as the Ninfamaniac, although because of its unique size and shape, offered up a completely different smoke and experience.

Let's go to Halfwheel for the info about this one, because 1. I know he smoked it; I saw it happen, but I have no memory of any other sensory information about it other than seeing the smoke; 2. I forgot to ask Valentino to tell me descriptive words about it, and he's smoked umpity gajillion cigars since then. I've been a bad blogger.****

"Starting into the first third I’m immediately greeted with notes of fresh hay, a little licorice, a touch of light black pepper and some spice. Despite the earlier soft spots the draw is a little on the open end but still well within the ideal range. The smoke production from this little cigar is billowing and plentiful when drawing and drops down to almost no smoke coming off the foot a few seconds after setting it down. Less than an inch into the cigar and the black pepper has ramped up, coming more to the forefront to join the hay and the overall sweet spice while the licorice from the beginning has completely disappeared."

Yeah. What they said. If I were a really good blogger/reporter, I'd get him to smoke another so I could take in the experience and give you a first-hand report. But hahahahahaha. No. (He's out doing man things right now, so I couldn't ask even if I were so inclined.)

ANYWAY! You're probably dying to know who makes all these dandies.

Say "Hello!" to Jeff Haugen and Joel Rogers, co-owners of Tobacco Grove in Maple Grove, Minnesota!

Hello, Gentlemen! You've made our list of favorites! Welcome to the party!

"We have been retailers of premium cigars for over 20 years and have been truly blessed to be involved in selling a product that has done so much good for so many people. Cigars build friendships and community, uniting people from all walks of life. Cigars allow people to relax from the stressors of life, which allows us to sort out the challenges we face. Cigars allow us to celebrate the moments that matter most. Cigars reward us for our successes and help us accept our failures."

I know exactly what you're thinking: Penny***** needs cupcakes.  Ha ha ha. No.******

You were thinking, Sheesh! That's what Penny has been saying all along! The community! The friends! The culture! They're all favorites!

So...the moral(s) of the very very long-winded story:
  1. The cigars? They are good! Super good! And...
  2. The three we've had so far? Perfect for three different occasions: The "I want to leisurely hang out with friends" (Passport), the "I need to relax but I don't have a shit-ton of time" (Nimfamaniac), and the "Penny doesn't want to leave yet but the place is going to close and I don't want to fire up a cigar that I'm going to have to let die" (Skeeterz). Also...
  3. These guys? They're super cool and you definitely want to support them and their new lines of fab cigars. So...
  4. It's crucial that you try all the cigars in the Crux line.*******


*Sometimes these things just write themselves.

**And by "right this second," I mean this past Monday when I started this blog post. Sometimes, like a good cigar, they need to age a bit before they're released out into the wild.

***Glass half full, half empty. Whatevs.

****Yeah. Like it's the first time.

*****That's me, by the way, in case you haven't been paying attention--ever.

******I mean yes, I always need cupcakes, but that's not what you should have been thinking at that very moment!

*******See what I did there? Crux meaning the crucial point? Plus it's Latin for cross.********

********Yes, I studied Latin in school. And yes, I know my nerd-level just rose exponentially. Yay!

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