As I mentioned a the post few days ago, I have been smoking far less. As much as I still love smoking cigars, my work schedule now does not permit a the 20 minute purito smoke break every day. My cigar smoking is usually when I am out drinking with the guys (location permitting, and we are on track to be as screwed here in Costa Rica as the rest of the world).
Swedish Snus for the first time about a year and a half ago at the Punta Cana Poker Classic 2010 when a Swedish guy that was at my table offered me some. At first I treated it like dip, and I did not want to swallow. In fact, another guy at the table tried it and had to make fold his hand and make a dash for the head, so I was all the more cautious. It was good, but I had plenty of cigars and was doing plenty of drinking.
Then the London trip came about in late January of last year. It was cold and windy, especially at night, and smoking in the frigid air was brutal. This time snus played a whole different role. Before I left for home, I was give several can/tins... I started smoking less, and when I ran out, I bought more.
Snus is a variation of chewing tobacco that is processed differently than what I had seen in the United States. Although the presentation seems similar to dip, it is spit-less and obviously lighter. Apparently this is because it is dry cured as opposed to fermented, however in my opinion- whatever they do creates an excellent product. My father chews Red Man (owned now by Swedish Match) and by brother chewed Kodiak, and I can assure you that it is quite different (positively).
Snus is placed in the upper lip, and the portion sizes are much smaller and very subtle. In fact, I would say the portion is so discreet that most people have no idea that I have one in.
Dip style chewing tobacco usually brings about thoughts of mint flavorings, and there is snus that shares those flavors, however there are so many variations and other flavors that it is really incredible. It has been interesting finding a handful of ones that I prefer. I will go into that a little later.
I have bought from a couple places, both online, however I have been very happy with Snus Central. Snus Central not only has an excellent online store, but they also have lots of information on their .org site including news and an online forum. People tend to get a little 'snus crazy,' like the thread What's in your mouth right now?, but the forum is helpful and everyone seems well-intentioned.
My favorites thus far have been (all by white portion and by Swedish Match); Göteborg’s Rapé, Ettan, Tre Ankare, and Röda Lacket. Ettan and Tre Ankare have a similar tobacco taste, however Röda Lacket has a slight fruit essence and Göteborg’s Rapé has an herbal undertone that they claim is of bergamot orange. However, I every time I order I get a couple tins of something new.
If you have an interest (or need) to smoke less, and would like an excellent alternative, be sure check out Swedish Snus (not Camel or Marlboro which I have also tried), and see what you think.
Saturday, March 10, 2012
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
It has been about 5 years since I have written about the situation of cigars in San Jose (Cigar Hunting in San Jose Part 1 & Part II), Costa Rica, however I consistently get site visits to those pages and questions about the current state of affairs. Although I have been on a hiatus from writing on my blogs (here and www.boozelover.com) I am going to try to get back into the swing of things and felt this would be a good follow-up post.
Swedish Snus (I will write more about that later). My taste for snus came about on a work trip to London. On my trip to England there were two factors at play, 1) law does not allow you to smoke inside most any buildings, and 2) it was bitter cold at that time of the year. Smoking outside was flat-out painful. By the time I finished my cigar, the cold had eaten my buzz and chilled me to the bone. Ironically, I found Snus to be a great alternative to lighting up in the frigid air of The Old Smoke.
Over the past fives years there was quite a bit of movement in the world of cigars in Costa Rica. Five years ago there was an Official Habanos distributor and a variety of small cigar brands popping up. Some lines doing a better job then others, but there were a bunch (mostly white-label attempts). We have seen a bit of a revolution on both fronts. Most of the small brands have fallen to the wayside and a new Habanos distributor has moved in and taken a aggressive and positive approach to the distribution of Habanos in Costa Rica.
Don Benigno Cigars, continues to be the premium cigar it always has been, but it is far above the rest. Things, however, are ever-changing, and if you hear of something new be sure to let me know so I can check it out. Some of the brands are so small that they often stay unknown even in a small community like Costa Rica.
|Look for this sticker before at retail outlets.|
According to their website, they have a VIP room, lockers, a bar restaurant, and of course a cigar store stocked full of Habanos. This should be a unique destination for nationals and tourists alike. Check out this link to their Photo Album- the place looks great. I have got to check this place out.
One thing to keep in mind is that Habanos are top-of-the-line cigars, and they are not cheap (but good cigars are rarely be cheap). This is not a location to visit if you are looking for $1 cigars. If you are going to invest in some, be prepared to pay.
All of this good news, of course, has it's catch- there are still TONS of fakes in Costa Rica. Many of the same things as have wrote about before and more. For real Habanos, there is number one rule world wide- DO NOT BUY CIGARS ON THE STREET. Follow that rule, and you will eliminate a good percentage of the problem, however be sure to also make sure that your retail outlet is numbered. If you ever have any issues with one of their retailers, I am certain that the team at Cruzcanela would prefer to hear about it. As for other Costa Rican cigars, feel free to try what is out there, and let us know if you find something interesting- however you can never go wrong with a Don Benigno.
If you are looking for Cigars in San Jose, Costa Rica (and even many of the beach areas), the good news is that you will not have a problem finding them. So investigate and enjoy... and be sure to treat yourself.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Cigars: The Heart and Soul of Cuba and James Suckling bring the heart and soul of Cuban Cigars to your screen.
I enjoy documentaries, and I love cigars. Although this seemed like a match made in heaven, I had my concerns going into the screening of this documentary; could it be a load of regurgitated dribble, or worse [like so many other documentaries about Cuba] a semi-political aberrational view of the Cuban reality- fortunately Jame's approach portrayed neither and created an excellent film that nearly anyone should enjoy.
James Suckling's is someone I knew very little about before hearing about this documentary, however reading more about his history and accomplishments as a journalist I have come to the conclusion that this guy has 'it' figured out. Who would not love this guy's job? Wine Spectator, Cigar Aficionado Europe... if we thew in Playboy centerfold photographer into the CV and I would say this could round out just about the best career ever; but even without that I can still proclaim that he has quite the life.
James and his film Cigars: The Heart and Soul of Cuba, although little awkward from time to time, deliver with a vibrant and accurate tour of the Cuban Habano and the Cubanos who create it. This visually enchanting journey is a pleasure for anyone with the slightest interest in the subject of tobacco or Cuba.
For beginners; the films veraciously teaches the entire process in a superb format using the traditional Spanish words supported by actual shots of process. And for those that are well versed in the subject (or self-proclaimed expert like myself ;) ) the film's the interviews, personalities, and cinematography transport you on a nostalgic pilgrimage to one of the most intriguing place on Earth and the mecca of the Cigar-world.
If you have the opportunity to view this film I am certain that you will come away knowing more about, or, at the very least, feeling a better connection to, Cuban cigars and the heart and soul that goes into their creation.
For more information about the film: