HOPZ Cigar: Cigar for the Craft Beer Lover!

We had just received a shipment of Makers Mark Cigars that are packed in glass test tubes and found that a few of the cigars were broken during shipping!  We contacted our local rep and also the national rep, Eric of Makers Mark Cigars, about the disaster and without hesitation replaced the broken ones.   In addition,  Eric sent us a few samples of the new HOPZ Craft Beer Cigar.   In 2009, we met Eric at the cigar trade show over in New Orleans.  Because of our relationship with Makers Mark Bourbon, we picked up the cigar.  The Makers Mark cigar is a Dominican long-leaf “infused” with the bourbon.  The bourbon never actually touches the leaf.  The result is a smooth, flavorful cigar, medium bodied and a great match with Makers Mark Bourbon!  The bonus is that it comes in its own humidor.  The glass tube is sealed with the signature Makers Mark Wax!  It’s now one of the best-selling “flavored” cigars that we carry.

Now HOPZ, on the other hand, had us worried.  Imagine smoking hops?  The smell alone is gonna get us thrown in jail as the Humulus Lupulus (hops) are cousins of the Cannabis!!!  We found out the actual method of getting the hop taste is similar to the Makers Mark cigar.  It is infused with Centennial Hops, known for a more fragrant, floral aroma and not too bitter flavor.

As we opened the tube-yes this one comes in its own humidor as well,  there was a distinct smell of hops, flower and of course tobacco.  Afraid that this one will taste like bitter cardboard, we fired it up….

The first few puffs had the same hoppy/flowery flavors.  With this cigar, it’s not spiced like the typical bombs that we like to chew on.  Getting down to the first half, it burned quite nicely and like many of the “flavored” or “infused” cigars, it did have some large flakes of ash.  The heavy hoppy-ness blended into the Dominican Republic tobacco and the flowery aspects were well hidden.  It was a light to medium bodied smoke that was quite clean with a slight integrated sweetness.

The second half burned almost the same as the first with the sweet hoppy/ leather-like flavors coming through.  We smoked down to the nub of the cigar.  It took about a good 35-40 minutes (sampled the petite corona – 5 x 38)

Admittedly, we were looking for some flaws to not want to get this cigar, but in the end we found it to be quite balanced and not over hoppy or sweet and more importantly none of that cardboard tasting stuff either!  Pair this with an IPA from Yeastie Boys or the Dead Guy Ale from Rouge that has an IBU of 40 on a scale of 100.  Either way, it looks like we will be getting some of these HOPZ in soon to pair with our wide selection of Craft Beers.  The cost of the cigar will be about $12 for the Toro (6 x 50).

Category : Cigars &Reviews

2011 Top 25 Cigar List of List

Below is a list of cigars that our friends at put together.  This the “List of List” that was compiled by Charlie Minato and combines all of the top cigars from 41 blogs and publications that were compiled in 2011.  This must have been a huge task to compile these numbers and we are happy to see a bunch of cigars that SWAM has (or had) on this list! Check back with us as we are getting a bunch of new cigars in this year!



1.     Undercrown (Drew Estate | La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate | Estelí, Nicaragua)

We got the Robustos in-stock!

2.     San Lotano Oval (A.J. Fernandez | Tabacalera Fernandez | Estelí, Nicaragua)

3.     E.P Carrillo NWC (E.P. Carrillo | Tabacalera La Alianza S.A. | Santiago, Dominican Republic)

We got the Robustos in-stock!

4.     Emilio Grimalkin (Emilio Cigars | My Father Cigars S.A. | Estelí, Nicaragua)

5.     Casa Magna Domus Magnus (Quesada/SAG Imports | Plasencia Cigars S.A., Estelí, Nicaragua)

We had the both the Optimus and the Primus….

6.     Adrians CroMagnon (Adrians/Galveston Bay Tobacco LLC | n/a | Estelí, Nicaragua)

We are trying to get this one…

7.     Tatuaje La Casita Criolla (Havana Cellars | My Father Cigars S.A. | Estelí, Nicaragua)

We had the Corona and Corona Gorda….

8.     Tatuaje Black Label Petite Lancero (Havana Cellars | My Father Cigars S.A. | Estelí, Nicaragua)

We had only one box…

9.     Four Kicks (Crowned Heads | Tabacalera La Alianza S.A. | Santiago, Dominican Republic)

10.  Quesada España (Quesada/SAG Imports | The Quesada Factory | Licey, Dominican Republic)

11.  My Father Le Bijou 1922 (My Father Cigars | My Father Cigars S.A. | Estelí, Nicaragua)

12.  Illusione Epernay (Illusione | Fabrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. | Danlí, Honduras)

We got just a few sticks left!

13.  Quesada Oktoberfest (Quesada/SAG Imports | MATASA | Santiago, Dominican Republic)

14.  Tatuaje Avion 2011 (Havana Cellars | My Father Cigars S.A. | Estelí, Nicaragua)

This is something we are getting in the future!

15.  Emilio AF1 (Emilio Cigars | Tabacalera Fernandez | Estelí, Nicaragua)

16.  Padrón 1964 SI-15 (PILOTO Cigars Inc. | Tabacos Cubanica S.A. | Estelí, Nicaragua)

We are trying to get this one in…

17.  Room 101 Namakubi (Room 101 Cigars | Tabacos Rancho Jamastran | El Paraiso, Honduras)

We are trying to get this one in…

18.  Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial 2011 (My Father Cigars. | Estelí, Nicaragua)

19.  E.P Carrillo Edición Limitada 2011 “Dark Rituals” (E.P. Carrillo | Tabacalera La Alianza S.A. | Santiago, Dominican Republic)

20.  La Flor Dominicana Colorado Oscuro (La Flor Dominicana | Tabacalera La Flor S.A. | Tamboril, Dominican Republic)

We just ordered the Double Ligero and the Air Bender from them!

21.  My Father El Hijo (My Father Cigars | My Father Cigars S.A. | Estelí, Nicaragua)

22.  Viaje Exclusivo Tower Cigars 45th (Viaje Cigars | Fabrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. | Danlí, Honduras)

We got some personal stash of this one!

23.  Tatuaje Fausto (Havana Cellars| My Father Cigars S.A. | Estelí, Nicaragua)

We got the Robustos in-stock!

24.  Tatuaje The Wolfman (Havana Cellars| My Father Cigars S.A. | Estelí, Nicaragua)

We had just 2 boxes of this limited run…

25.  Man O’ War Armada (Cigars International | Tabacalera Fernandez | Estelí, Nicaragua)

For more in-depth analysis go to for more information.

Category : Cigars &Reviews

The Smoke Line Up at Smokin’ Swings


Pinar del Rio Cigars

Pinar del Rio is the most western provence in Cuba where 70% of the premium Cuban tobacco is grown.  Like their namesake, Pinar del Rio Cigars produces great cigars!  We were introduced to both Abraham Flores and Juan Rodriguez of PDR back in 2009 during the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers trade show in New Orleans.  The cigar company is based in New Orleans where they also own a cigar bar on Canal Street called Don Leoncio, a popular hang out after the trade show.   Abe and Juan showed us their brand and sampled us on the cigars.  Made at their factory in the Dominican Republic called La Fabrica, each premium cigar is expertly hand-rolled.  At that time we had a small table top humidor that featured a small selection of cigars and didn’t have much room for new product.  We explained that once we expand to a larger humidor, PDR would be one of the first to be added.  Finally, our humidor space expanded and during this year’s IPCPR, as promised we placed our first order with them.  To our knowledge, SWAM is the only retailer in Hawaii that has PDRs! We just got in the new PDR 1878 series in 4 different sizes and blends and also the Liga Especial Reserva Superior!

The 1878 “Black Band” Capa Madura arrived to us in 2 sizes (Robusto and Toro).  It is a medium to medium plus body cigar that has a smooth flavor.  Toast with a slight sweetness to the finish.  They are using a Brazilian Maduro wrapper on this which is the reason for the slight natural sweetness.  Nicaraguan/ Dominican filler with a Dominican binder.  This pairs well with a shot of Makers Mark Bourbon.


The 1878 “Red Band” Capa Oscura also came to us in 2 sizes (Corona and Lancero).  There are only 1500 boxes produced of the Capa Oscura which is a puro or cigars pure in origin, this one being from the Dominican Republic. These have great flavor as well, the spice and nuttyness come through on the palate as well as the woodsy-ness and leather aromas.  These are dark oscura and many think that it is a stronger cigar, but darker doesn’t mean stronger, just riper. This is a medium bodied cigar that produces a lot of smoke!  A little more complex smoke, this pairs well with the the new Makers 46 Bourbon.

The Liga Especial – Reserve Superior or the “Silver Label” of the line is a Limited Edition cigar that debuted at the IPCPR trade show this year.  The blend is an all ligero or top leaf selection, which makes for a full-bodied, powerful smoke.  The flavors are hinted with leathery tobacco, slight hint of coffee and bitter chocolate.  We are fortunate enough to get a shipment of the Gran Toro in on this order but don’t think we are able to get another. As a pairing, we like the full strength of this cigar with Jim Beams new Devils Cut.

The cigars are priced from $5.99 up to $7.99 for the 1878s and $8.99 for the Limited Edition making them one of the best values in our humidor!


Martin Family Cigars

One of our very first experiences with a cigar representative was with the lovely Maria Martin.  Back then, she was working with Christian Eiroa for Camacho Cigars.  She has since moved on to co-found the Martin Family of Cigars and the Pedro Martin line.  SWAM is proud to say that we were the first account in the nation to order the line and it was all due to the personality of Maria, fun, energetic and a wealth of tobacco knowledge!  Her background stems from her father, the late Master Blender Pedro Martin and founder of Tobaccos Tropical where she was the President of the company, and then as the National Sales Manager for Camacho Cigars.  Maria Martin is a real success in an industry dominated by men.  Together with Ammer Cabrera of Martin Family cigars, they are producing cigars with accolades from the critics.  When we got the samples of the cigars in January, we immediately placed an order for them.

Pedro Martin “Ruby”

This cigar is made in Esteli, Nicaragua in a small factory using about 20 of the top rollers that worked for Tropical.   It is a medium-full cigar that has a Nicaraguan filler and binder with a sun-grown Corojo wrapper.  Spicy from the start that mellows out through the rest of the cigar as it shows cedar, a touch of nuttiness and over all is very complex cigar.  A brandy on the full-flavored side like Comandon Cognac or Hennessy would go great with this smoke.  The pricing for the robusto is $7.99 and the torpedo is $8.99.


Gran Habano

George Rico – crazy, unconventional, controversial.  These are the kind of words that come into our minds when thinking of Gran Habano and George. Crazy – At our first IPCPR, he showed off a 19ft /1900 ring gauge cigar at the show and recorded as the largest production cigar in history! Unconventional – At this year’s IPCPR, Gran Habano showcased an Ice Cream Truck as the backdrop of the booth.  Controversial – the new “Zulu Zulu” packaging depicts African children holding AK-47s.  Florida graffiti artist and Rico’s friend, Kid, was commissioned to do the artwork.   Many in the cigar community downplayed the use of the images saying “it exploited children.”   In actuality, a portion of the “Zulu” box sales go to Invisible Children an organization committed to bring awareness, support, and justice for the war affected children in East Africa.

We are getting 6 cigars from the Gran Habano line including 2 from the STK line “Zulu Zulu”.

Gran Habano #1 Churchill is filled and bound with Nicaraguan tobacco and wrapped in an Ecuadorian Connecticut leaf.  It is mild to medium but don’t confuse strength with flavor of creamy and nuttiness with toasty flavors.  Perfect with a Bailys or our new Qream Liquor.

Gran Habano #3 Shorty Robusto is a medium to full bodied cigar with Nicaraguan, Mexican and Costa Rican fillers, bound with Nicaraguan Habano and wrapped in a Nicaraguan Habano leaf.  It is a rich blend that is complex and will be one of our favorite smokes.  Because of the fuller body, this should match well with some of the lighter single malt scotches like Glenlivet.

Gran Habano #5 Rothchild is the strongest blend in the bunch using Nicaraguan, Mexican and Costa Rican tobaccos but more ligero leaves in the blend.  It is held together with a Nicaraguan Habano binder and wrapped in a Nicaraguan Habano leaf.  It has a noticeably red tint on the wrapper that we like and the power of this cigar really shows.  If you like full flavor/full strength cigars, have it with a smoky, peaty, scotch like Ardbeg or Laphroaig!

Zulu Zulu STK Lancero is a personal blend made by George Rico that was created just for him to smoke.  He decided to release a limited number to select retailers across the country in two different wrappers.  The one we fell in love with was the Connecticut.  We had the pleasure of being invited to George’s suite at the Venetian where we were introduced to the new cigar.  After a whole day of smoking (about 5-7 cigars) at the IPCPR, we thought that the cigar was not going to show well.  To our surprise, they not only did it come through on the strength but had great flavor! It was so good that we smoked it down to the very nub!  This is a cigar that measures 7.5 inches by 40 ring gauge.  We don’t know any of the details of this cigar as the filler or binder but it is one of the best Lancero sized cigars that we smoked.

These may well be the value smoke in the humidor for us as the pricing for the Gran Habano is going to be $4.99 for the Rothchild #5, $5.99 for the Churchill #1 and Shorty Robusto #3.  the Zulu Zulu will be at $9.99 and we are only getting 2 boxes.

Smokin’ Swings Cigar Event Information

Category : Cigars &Reviews

2011 IPCPR (International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailer Association) Recap

This month we got the opportunity to spend time with a bunch of our cigar suppliers up at the IPCPR trade show in Las Vegas.  We made commitments to the newest and most sought after sticks out there. Our recap on the brands soon to arrive: Pinar del Rio, Viaje, Tatuaje, SAG and the Miami Cigar Co.

Pinar del Rio.  We first met Abe Flores co-founder of PDR back in 2009 at the IPCPR in New Orleans.  We were very enthusiastic about the brand but unfortunately our humidor was too small and did not have the space.  Today the humidor space is not a problem, so over the past months we secured the Liga Especial, only offered at the trade show, a 6 x 54 ($9.99 per stick), 1878 Reserva Dominicana Oscura in both the Corona ($5.99) and the Lancero ($7.99) and the 1878 Cubano Especial Maduro in both Robusto ($5.99) and Torpedo ($6.99).  Abe is a good guy that supports the industry and it shows in both the flavor of his cigars and competitive pricing.  Think about reserving a couple of these sticks because it will go like hotcakes!

Viaje.  Andre Farkas, the president of Viaje (journey) Cigars, hails from the City of Angels and came to the show with his guns – well BOMBS- a blazin’!  We ordered the Oro in both Robusto size ($9.99) and the Torpedo ($12.99).  We first smoked the vitolas back in 2009 and they were damn good.  Viaje branched off with a series of Limited Edition cigars that were named after military munitions: “MOAB” (Mother of all Bombs), “WMD” (Weapons of Mass Destruction) and the “Daisy Cutter”.  These were all full bodied cigars that had great depth of flavor.  We also ordered two new lines of his Skull and Bones Limited Edition called “Fat Man” and “Little Boy”.  We haven’t gotten word if we will get these in for sure but we are crossing our fingers.

Tatuaje.   We met Pete Johnson of Tatuaje Cigars through Bernie Leong of The Havana Club Honolulu while participating in the No Joke Smoke event.  Pete has been a regular guest at the No Joke Smoke for the past three years.  Today, Tatuaje is one of the fastest growing and HOTTEST brands in America!  With his standard line being the most “Cubanesque” of any cigars outside of Cuba, he is the originator of the modern Bad boy cigars.  The first thing you notice about Pete is the amount of tats on him, hence the cigar company “Tatuaje” or tattoo in Cuban.  His Limited Edition cigars sell out within hours (not days or weeks or months) and they always deliver with flavor and intensity!  We are getting in the Black Label Petit Lancero ($10.99) and the new La Casita Criolla which is all broadleaf in the filler, binder, and wrapper.  The corona will go for $7.99 and the corona gorda for $8.99.

SAG or Fonseca.  Manuel Quesada is the owner but, his nephew, Terence Reilly, is in charge of the US operation.  We met Terence while visiting Hawaii last year.  He says that he is also the head janitor, painter, office clerk and everything else that Uncle tells him to do.  We understand all too well about family operations. Casa Magna, which was the Cigar of the Year in 2008, came out with a line extension called “Domus Magnus” smooth and full.  We are getting in the “Optimus” size or 5 ½ x 52 box pressed.  This one will go for $8.99 and will sell out fast!

Miami Cigar Co.  Nestor Miranda heads the operation. Recently we brought in the “Para Japon” cigar that supported the relief efforts in Japan, a not so typical contribution.  Our contact is Nilo Perez who we met at the tradeshow.  Nilo is a very outgoing guy and a wealth of knowledge.  Because of Nilo, we are bringing in the “La Serena” line of cigars in both the corona ($8.99) and belicoso ($10.99).  You can’t miss these cigars because of their humangus bands!  They look uber-lux cool. La Serena cigars are made by Don Pepin Garcia and uses broadleaf wrappers which gives it a fuller bodied smoke.  We are also are bringing in the Nestor Miranda Art Deco “Coffee Break” a full flavored cigar that measures 4.5 x 50.

Later in the year, look for EP Carillo, Padron Family Cigar, Grand Habano, the new Liga Privada Under Crown and Hoya de Nicaragua’s “My Uzi Weighs a Ton. “  We can’t wait for our new stuff to arrive! ~For now all smoked out

Category : Cigars &Reviews

SWAM 5th Anniversary Cigar

We have just received the shipment of the “SWAM 5th Anniversary Cigar”.  These cigars are a “limited edition” made by Pete Johnson of Tatuaje Cigars and we only have 200 sticks available.   The cigar measures 6.25 inches by a 54 ring gauge with a Nicaraguan filler and binder finished in a Café Rosado Oscuro wrapper.  It has a touch more ligero in the blend making it a fuller bodied smoke.  These wonderful sticks have nuances of chocolate, leather and spice. Tatuaje Cigars are now the most sought after cigars in the U.S. and we thank Pete for getting these rare sticks to us.  Get them now as once we are sold out, we will never get these back again!

SWAM 5th Anniversary Cigar by Tatuaje

6.25 x 54

Filler: Nicaraguan

Binder: Nicaraguan

Wrapper: Nicaraguan (Café Rosado Oscuro)


Category : Cigars &Reviews

Alec Bradley American Classic Blend

The NEW Alec Bradley “American Classic Blend”

This is our first foray into the world of cigar Blogs! Being that this is new for us we will be reviewing a new cigar! To give you a little background on the cigar, Alec Bradley – Alec and Bradley is actually the name of Alan Ruben’s two sons. Alan Ruben started out during the 1990s cigar boom with the love of tobacco. 15 years later his company has grown to become one of the premiere cigar producers in the world. Alec Bradley also produces some other great cigars under the AB name such as the Vice, Maxx, Prensado, SCR (Select Cabinet Reserve), Tempus and the Family Blend – named after the founders Alan Ruben (President), Ralph Montero (Vice President), and George Sosa (National Sales Director). On May 20th, we hosted “The Armed Forces Day Smoker” at O’toole’s Irish Pub in conjunction with our friend Danny Bonilla of Prudential Life Insurance. Life insurance sponsoring a smoker? Well we will save that for another blog. It was $20 per person limited to the first 30 people and it sold out in a week. We tasted all-American Bourbons from Jim Beam, Knob Creek and Basil Hayden and featured the American Classic Blend Cigar. Patrons of the smoker were ask to donate some sticks to our military boys overseas by way of BOTL (Brothers of the Leaf). The care package was sent out and we hope it finds its way.

Now on to the review by Mark Miyahira…

Category : Cigars &Reviews