CAO Concert

CAO Concert

Size:  Roadie – 5 ½ x 54
Wrapper:  Ecuadorian Rosado
Binder:  Connecticut Broadleaf
Filler:  Nicaraguan & Honduran

The tagline for the CAO Concert is “Perfect Harmony.”  I figured these were just words picked to fit the theme.  They were not.  This cigar manages an incredible blend of strength and subtlety, of chunky and creamy, and of sweet and spicy.

The cigar smokes very well.  The draw is just right.  The ash is a light gray color and holds on tight.  Any my favorite part of how it smokes is how evenly it burned.  It burned so well, that I never felt the slightest inclination to check for a runner.

As to the flavor of the cigar, it starts with peppery, hickory draw with a little bit of chunk to it.  Sometime around the 1 ½ inch mark, each draw smoothes the chunkiness out until you get to 2 inches and you’d have no idea that this cigar had been anything but creamy.
Along with the creaminess, there was a subtle change from peppery to sweet.  This kind of a change usually causes an awkward transition, but CAO has built a cigar that isn’t hindered by transition, it thrives on it.
Getting down to the last third of the cigar, the smoke stays smooth, but the spices come back and the strength of the Concert comes out.

A solid smoke from warm up to finale that will have you coming back for an encore!

The Concert series also comes in Amp (5 ½ x 46), Solo (5 ½ x 50), and Stage (5 ½ x 60) sizes.

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Aging Room Quattro (Small Batch F55)

Aging Room Quattro (Small Batch F55)

Size:  Maestro – 6×52” Torpedo
Wrapper:  Indonesian Sumatra
Binder:  Dominican Habano
Filler:  Dominican Habano

This small batch, box pressed cigar is a limited run gem.  Only 300,000 to 400,000 were wrapped due to the limited amount of 9-year-old Indonesian wrapper that was available.

I found the Quattro to be a medium bodied cigar that leaned a little toward the light side of the scale.  The best single word to describe this cigar is ‘constant’.  The wrapper burns evenly.  The ash is solid.  Plenty of creamy smoke is produced from a moderate draw.  Happily, constant doesn’t translate to boring, with the Indonesian wrapper providing an exciting change of pace from your everyday cigar.

The Quattro also comes in Concerto (7×50) and Espressivo (5×50) sizes.

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Fernando Leon Family Reserve by La Aurora

La Aurora Fernando Leon Family Reserve

Wrapper:  Dominican Corojo
Binder:  Dominican Corojo
Filler:  Peruvian, Brazilian, Dominican

The Fernando Leon Family Reserve is one of those cigars that, just by its appearance, begs to be roasted.  The rich, brown Corojo wrapper is mostly smooth with a couple strong veins tracing their way up one side that make it satisfying just to roll it around between your fingers.

Smoking this cigar started out uncomplicated: a smooth draw, a simple flavor profile that relied heavily on earth and cedar, and a moderate grayish smoke that liked to linger. As I got into the cigar, it maintained its smooth draw and started to develop into a more complex profile with bits of spice and citrus starting to peek through the cedar. The last couple inches got stronger, but just enough that it was noticeable and kept the cigar interesting.

The saying that ‘appearances can be deceiving’ does not hold true with this cigar.  Just as it looks, this cigar is a thoroughly satisfying and interesting smoke from start to finish.

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Manday at Franchesco’s

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How to Select a New Humidor

When you buy a humidor, you are not only buying a device to help keep your cigars fresh, you are also buying an important piece of furniture.

A humidor keeps cigars fresh by storing them at 65-to-70 percent humidity. Cigars, like wines, are organic so temperature and humidity are important. A properly maintained humidor can keep cigars fresh for years.

Desk- and table-top humidors can hold from a dozen cigars to 100, and can range from simple to elegant in design and finishes. On the inside, humidors are lined with Spanish cedar, a wood renowned for its moisture-holding and moisture-releasing capabilities.

When shopping for a humidor, be sure to check these things:
• Size – The size of the box you buy depends on how many cigars do you plan to keep for yourself and/or give out to friends. Don’t be afraid to buy a box slightly bigger than you think you’ll need. Better to have a little more space than a little less.
• Extras – Will you want an upper tray, divider, a box that locks, accessory drawer?
• Seams and corners – Look to make sure seams are perfect and corners square.
• The Lid and Inside Rim – The lid should be heavy, seal squarely, and allow a little bit of air to circulate in and out of the box. When you open the lid slightly and let it fall, you should hear a “swoosh,” a sign of a good seal.

Humidification Devices
The most important humidification device you can have for your humidor is you. It is up to you to add necessary distilled water or solution regularly. Humidification devices come in sizes appropriate for the size of the box. For years, humidification devices used sponge-type material. Now the technology has moved to crystals that implode and emit humidity when wet with propyl glyclene solution. This solution lasts longer than distilled water.

Measuring the Humidity
Most humidors come with hygrometers, a gauge that measures the box’s humidity. While hygrometers come in analog or digital models, we recommend digital because they are more reliable and accurate. The best humidity range to keep cigars fresh is 65 to 72 percent with 70 percent the optimum. If cigars seem too dry, add solution to the humidification device.

Keeping Your Humidor in Top Working Order
Always keep the lid closed until cigars are ready to be smoked. Add propyl glyclene solution or distilled water periodically to the humidifying device. Never use tap water. Minerals in tap water will collect in the humidification device and keep it from absorbing and emitting humidity.

One More Thing – Don’t put your humidor where it can be exposed to temperature extremes like near a window or a heating vent, or anywhere where it can get cold. Inside your humidor, don’t pack your cigars too tight. You will want to rotate them from time to time for good air circulation. The reason for this is that while humidors have a tight seal on the lid, they are not airtight and not supposed to be. In an airtight humidified container, cigars can and will get moldy.

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Restoring Over-humidified or Dried-out Cigars

If You Have Over-humidified Cigars…
When your humidor becomes too humid (75 percent humidity or above), that intense humidity will release a tobacco beetle that can quickly bore holes through cigars, which can occur when the humidor maintains a temperature above 75 degrees for more than 24 hours. If this happens, freeze the contaminated cigars for 48 hours. Then, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before returning them to your humidor. The beetles and their larvae will not survive. Wipe down your humidor with distilled water on a damp sponge or cloth before returning cigars.
If You Have Dried Out Cigars…
Many times when cigars get too dry, they have to be thrown out. However, some cigars that become too dry can be reconditioned through weeks in a well-maintained humidor. Keep in mind that the cigars won’t be new again, but they will be smokeable. It takes patience, so don’t be in a hurry. Over several weeks, gradually move the dry cigars from the outer corners of your humidor to the center, or keep the dried out cigars in a plastic bag with a water pillow or cigar humidification device. Make sure either is proportional to the bag and the number of cigars you’re trying to re-humidify.
As you know, a cigar is multi-layered with the filler, binder, and wrapper leaves. According to Cigar Aficionado’s Cigar 101, if a cigar is in a very humid environment and then removed from that environment, the outside layers dry and shrink while the inside remains humid and swollen, resulting in the cigar splitting. Also, don’t ever:
• Put cigars in the bathroom and run the shower until the hot water gives out;
• Steam them in the upper rack of a dishwasher; or
• Try to steam them in the at the health club.

For more information, call your Rockford Tinder Box/Vino100 at 815-226-4441, or visit our website at

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Selecting a pipe is a very personal thing, almost as personal as buying a car. The shape, size, color, and finish say something about you, your tastes, interests, and even your moods.

Hold It!
When shopping for a pipe, take time to hold it. The pipe has to feel right – balanced, comfortable – not awkward or heavy. Look at the different pipes and their finish (smooth or rough), color (light or dark), the stem (straight or bent), and especially the shape. Don’t worry. You don’t have to make it an information overload on yourself. Glance at different pipes and see what catches your eye first, then go from there.

Get in Shape
Briar pipes are available in many standard shapes. The choice of shape is entirely personal. Smokers my have a single favorite shape of pipe or many different shapes in their collections. Briar pipes are also available in a unique “freehand” design that follow no particular shape and are carved according to the grain and size of the briar.

Ahem! A Bit about the Stem
Also consider the stem. Would you prefer a straight or bent shape? Most pipe stems are made from vulcanite, a hard rubber, or Lucite, a type of plastic. Vulcanite is less expensive and can be hand cut to all pipe shank shapes. Vulcanite will oxidize and turn white especially near the mouthpiece bit after time, but, can be cleaned and polished to look like new. Lucite does not tarnish or lose its color around the bit. And Lucite can come in different swirl stem designs that can make a pipe look absolutely fantastic.

Expensive Versus Inexpensive Pipes
So, what’s the difference between a $30 pipe and a $230 pipe? The biggest difference is in the briar. The older briar, the finer the grain and more dense it is. The density and curing of the wood is crucial. The lighter a pipe’s weight, the longer it has been cured and is free of wood resins and moisture. A lightweight pipe that is aged well and cured will offer a good tasting, cool smoke.

Due to Mother Nature and conditions under which briar grows, a small percentage of pipes produced have a uniformly fine grain pattern and perfect finish. These are called “firsts” and are considered the best of the best. The remaining pipes may have tiny surface flaws or sandpits. Some are practically undetectable while others may require putty fills. These tiny imperfections affect the aesthetic appearance of the pipe, but not the pipe’s smoking qualities. Known as “seconds,” these pipes are sold under numerous brand names and represent the best values in pipe smoking. Bowls are smooth-polished and or sandblasted or carved for a rough texture.

Buying a Pipe for a Gift?
If you’re buying a pipe as a gift for someone, it can be fun if you know that person and his or her tastes. If you don’t know that person well and choose a pipe, be sure to ask for a gift receipt from your Tinder Box associate. If you are unsure, we recommend a Tinder Box gift certificate.

One final note, it is better to choose a pipe that does not use any kind of filter or condensing system. These systems trap moisture in the shank and prevent the effective use of the pipe cleaners during the smoke.

If you have any questions, call us at 815-226-4441, or e-mail us at

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Oliva Serie V – Torpedo 6 X 56

Torpedo 6 X 56

Wrapper: Habano Sungrown

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler: Jalapa Valley Ligeros

Background: Oliva Serie V is a high rated, proven powerhouse. It has earned 92 and 94 ratings by Cigar Aficianado in 2007 and 2008 as well as two top 25 Cigars of the Year awards. It has also been rated 94 twice by Cigar Insider.

The wrapper is smooth, vein free and has a nice oily sheen to it. The construction is always on par with any of the Oliva lines. I’m very excited to smoke this since i haven’t had one for quite some time. The draw is smooth and easy, toasting the foot is leaving some pepper/spice on my lips. It is definately full bodied and full flavored, but well balanced. As their slogan says… “Where strength and smoothness meet.” As you continue smoking, you will find it smoothing out and less of the subtle peppery kick that was there at the beginning. But the best part of the “V” is the end as it becomes more intense.  I don’t find this to be as complex as some others, but it is consistant and an overall very enjoyable smoke. If you like full bodied, you have to try this.





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How to Smoke A Pipe

This Post will give both new and experienced pipe smokers how to get full enjoyment out of their Pipe.


Step 1: Gravity feed tobacco by sprinkling it into the bowl. Level off excess with top of bowl. Press tobacco down gently about 2/3 from top.



Step 2: Again, sprinkle tobacco and level off excess with top. Press until tobacco is 1/3 from top.







Step 3: Once more sprinkle tobacco into pipe until overflowing. Press firmly. Tobacco should be slightly springy and level with top of bowl.


            When lighting, puff with long, slow puffs. Move the match or lighter slowly around the outside edge of the tobacco. Puff as many times as necessary to completely light the top surface of the tobacco. This “false” or “charring” light will assure an even burning load.






Next, take the pipe out of your mouth and gently tamp the ashes on the unburned tobacco.




Now, relight and puff rhythmically. Blow lightly into the stem between puffs as though you were inflating a tiny balloon. This feeds air to the pipe’s base like a bellows feed a forge.

Again, smoke s-l-o-w-l-y. Don’t let your new pipe get to hot. IMPORTANT: Don’t knock the ashes out of the first load of your pipe. Instead, just fluff the loose ash gently. If there is unburned tobacco missed in with the ashes, you are not smoking far enough down. Make sure that you have only a grey ash residue in the bottom of the pipe. Cake the heel first; the top will gradually cake itself after a number of smokes.


Last But not Least…… Enjoy


As your carbon cake builds on the inside of the pipe, the cake may be uneven, or thicker at the top than at the bottom. Should this occur, use a conical shaped reamer to shape the cake thinner at the top and slightly thicker in the heel.

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Subtlety Makes Tinder Box Reserve 1928 Pipe Tobacco Stand Out

The subtlety of Tinder Box’s Reserve 1928 tinned pipe tobacco makes it really stand out. It has three great things going for it, a natural sweetness, a fantastic aroma, and no aftertaste. It is the first tinned tobacco that Tinder Box put its name on in more than 80 years.

Blended by McClelland Tobacco Company, Reserve 1928 features Red and Orange Virginias, Virginia Flake, and Burley in a ribbon cut that makes it easy to pack. Strengthwise, it is called mild-to-medium; however, I found Reserve 1928 to taste more on the mild side. However, this, of course, will vary with different pipe smokers.

It was a long road to get the right blend for the Reserve 1928. Steve Glaze, vice president of Tinder Box International, worked closely with the folks at McClelland Tobacco sampling hundreds of blends before choosing this one.

In fact, we’re not the only ones that think Reserve 1928 is great. In an online review, Pipes and Tobacco Magazine describes Reserve 1928 as a “a cool, dry smoke with a light pleasing aroma,” and gives it a “highly recommended” rating. The review also said that Reserve 1928 has a “fantastic relight and burns to a nice clean ash.” Tinder Box’s Reserve 1928 sells for $14.50 at your Rockford Tinder Box/Vino 100.

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