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A podcast for new cigar enthusiasts and cigar aficionados.
7 days ago
Episode 33: Up and Down with Phil Ledbetter from Up Down cigars
I had the opportunity to sit down with co-owner of Up Down Cigar (located at 1550 N. Wells St., Chicago, IL) and current PCA Board Member, Phil Ledbetter. Phil and I discussed his cigar journey, starting from pipe smoking and going all the way through his becoming co-owner of Up Down Cigar. We discussed the cigar industries love limited editions, the cigar community, how COVID-19 has affected his business and business model, the PCA, the FDA, and the cigar industry in general. It was a fantastic conversation, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. You can contact Up Down Cigar toll free by calling (800) 5UPDOWN. You can also reach them at (312) 337-8025 or at http://www.updowncigar.com/index.cfm Please visit Up Down Cigar at 1550 N. Wells, Chicago, IL 60610. You can email Phil directly at email@example.com
1 hr 29 min
Jun 15, 2020
Episode 32: Catching Up with Glynn Loope
I get to catch up with the Executive Director of the Cigar Rights of America, Glynn Loope. We discuss how COVID-19 has impacted cigar retailers and manufacturers, the government's response, and the current fight against regulation and why it's so important given the global pandemic. We also discuss the cigar industry as a whole, we talk about the political divide in the country right now and how cigars can help bring everyone together. Please, join the fight against Federal regulation of the cigar industry by supporting the Cigar Rights of America at https://www.cigarrights.org/ and becoming a member!
1 hr 7 min
Jun 1, 2020
Episode 31: Zooming with Andy Yaffee of Micallef Cigars
I sat down, via Zoom, with Andy Yaffe, National Sales Director for Micallef Cigars. Andy tells the story of how his cigar journey began, how he came to in the cigar industry, and the friendships he has made. Andy and I then have a frank discussion on the impact COVID-19 has had on local B&Ms, and how Micallef is making good on their promise to support brick and mortar retailers, including Micallef's new Phoenix Program fro retailers. . We also talk about the PCA, trade shows, and the industry at large. It was a great conversation!
1 hr 14 min
May 15, 2020
Episode 30: Cigar Scanner App and Hygrometer Review
This week, I quickly gives my thoughts on the PCA cancelling the 2020 trade show and how this presents the PCA with a unique opportunity for change; change for themselves, and change for the industry. I then jumps into my review of the Cigar Scanner Application and the Cigar Scanner WiFi Hygrometer and Thermometer. I discuss my experience using both their cigar tracking application and their wireless hygrometers that work with the app. *All equipment was purchased by me, and I am in no way affiliated with or paid by Cigar Scanner or Neptune Cigars. Full Cigar Scanner app review found here. Full Cigar Scanner WiFi Hygrometer and Thermometer found here. Cigar Scanner WiFi Hygrometer and Thermometer
May 1, 2020
Episode 29: Review: Casdagli Daughters of the Wind Cremello
Before I dive into my review of the Cremello, I discuss what reviews look like across the industry. While they're not standardized, there is room for differing viewpoints and tastes that are diverse and subjective. SimplyStogies.com is still looking for at least two staff writers. If you like reviewing cigars and can do a better job than I (who can't?) or if you enjoy writing and would like to write about the cigar industry, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. Written review at SimplyStogies.com: http://simplystogies.com/casdagli_daughters_of_the_wind_cremello/ NEW SIMPLY STOGIES MERCH: https://creativebraincandy.com/shop#!/simply+stogies?collection=niKPHlTWoO
Apr 15, 2020
Episode 28: Micallef To Be Named Maduro Review
I discuss the impact to local B&Ms and ask you, the listener, to support local whenever you can. The impact of COVID-19 is being felt everywhere, and I like to order online as much as the next guy; however, if you can, I implore you to check with your local B&Ms and see if they're still open for business. Then I dive into my first solo review, as I give my impressions of the Micallef "To Be Named" Maduro. My full review can be found here.
Apr 1, 2020
Episode 27: Sitting Down with Dan Thompson of Micallef Cigars
I welcome Dan Thompson, President of Micallef Cigars, to Simply Stogies Podcast. Dan and I discuss everything from how he started his cigar journey, to Micallef's open letter to the cigar industry, and where he sees Micallef in the future. Dan talks candidly about his overall vision for Micallef and the industry. Dan goes over the new Micallef Ultimate Inventory program for select retailers and discusses everything they're doing to bring content to Micallef Ambassadors during these strange times where everyone is home. Dan and Micallef have their focus right where it needs to be.
1 hr 10 min
Mar 22, 2020
Episode 26: Drunkenomics and Cigars
James begins the show by thanking Mike Breig, our content director and lead reviewer at simplystogies.com. Due to personal reasons, Mike must permanently step away from the cigar hobby. Mike was a driving force behind simplystogies.com and helped make it what it is today. He will be sorely missed. James then welcomes Aaron from Drunkenomics podcast to discuss the global, national, and local economic impact of COVID-19. The pair discuss the importance of supporting your local B&Ms, what the post COVID-19 landscape might look like, and how it affects areas where tobacco is the primary source of income. We are also looking for a staff writer and lead reviewer for simplystogies.com. If you're interested in one or both positions, please email email@example.com
1 hr 1 min
Mar 8, 2020
Episode 25: REVIEW: Stolen Throne's Crook of the Crown Robusto
I welcome SimplyStogies.com lead cigar reviewer, Mike Breig, back to the show. Before we dive into our reviews, we discuss Micallef Cigars shipping a cigar without a name and how that translates to their open letter released earlier this year. Mike and I then give our in-depth review of Stolen Throne's Crook of the Crown robusto. Mike's full, written review will be available the same day this episode is released to the general public, March 8, 2020. To order Crook of the Crown from Cigar Federation, click here. To apply to become a Micallef Cigar Ambassador, click here.
Mar 1, 2020
Episode 24: Chatting with Lee Marsh of Stolen Throne Cigars
I had the opportunity to spend some time chatting with Lee Marsh of Stolen Throne Cigars. We talked about how Stolen Throne came to be and where the name "Stolen Throne" came from. Lee gives a unique perspective of the industry, its internal politics, and what it's like navigating them. We also discuss Crook of the Crown and what other projects Stolen Throne Cigars has in the works. I hope you all enjoy this chat as much as I did. I am also pleased to announce that Simply Stogies Podcast is now part of the Creative Brain Candy media cooperative. Please check out https://creativebraincandy.com/ for other great content from our creators!
Feb 22, 2020
Episode 23: Habano Cigar Lounge Davenport, Iowa
I get to sit down with Freddy Allan, owner of the brand new Habano Cigar Lounge in Davenport, Iowa. We talk about what it takes to open a cigar lounge, the hurdles that have to be overcome, and his vision for Habano Cigar Lounge. Freddy also owns four other cigar shops in Chicago and the Chicagoland area; he brings his years of experience and knowledge to Davenport. Freddy also tells us how he became friends with Jonathan Drew of Drew Estate. When you visit Habano Cigar Lounge in Davenport, mention Simply Stogies Podcast and get 10% off your purchase!!! And check out the review of Habano Cigar Lounge Davenport; a first in our new series of lounge reviews coming to SimplyStogies.com!
Feb 15, 2020
Episode 22: Two Lounges
Recorded at Capital Cigar Lounge (5505 S 16th St Ste 100, Lincoln, NE 68512) I sat down with the owner, Tony Goins, and the owner of Cigarz Lounge (800 Q St #104, Lincoln, NE 68508), Stacy Williams. We also had Capital's lead bartender Kelly, and their head humidor coach, Jeff. We discussed how both lounges got their start, how Tony and Stacy started their cigar journey, and ended up discussing liquor. With so much divisiveness, partisanship, and competition today, it was refreshing to sit down with two "competing" lounge owners who are good friends. If you're in Lincoln, you do not want to miss out on either of these lounges! Have Kelly make you his old fashioned at Capital, then head over to Cigarz and have Aaron make you his!
Feb 1, 2020
Episode 21: Isabela Time Traveler 2019 Review
I announce the first Patreon exclusive content from Simply Stogies Podcast called, Tales from the Lounge, is now available for Patreon supporters! To become a Patron of Simply Stogies Podcast please go to https://www.patreon.com/simplystogies and sign up to get instant access to this new bonus content! I welcome simplystogies.com Content Director and Lead Reviewer, Mike Breig, to discuss Isabela Cigar Co. and to compare our reviews of the Isabela Time Traveler 2019. Our reviews, shockingly enough, were not that far off. We were impressed with the flavor notes, transitions, and overall construction of this beautiful, limited edition cigar; we were even more impressed considering MSRP is under $10.00. Mike and I talk about Isabela's footprint in the industry, and how there are a lot of people missing out on some fantastic cigars. A big thanks to Mike for coming on and discussing his review. You can find Mike's review of the Isabela Time Traveler at the link below. OUTSIDE LINKS: http:…
Jan 15, 2020
Episode 20: PCA Trade Show 2020 News
With the news that Drew Estate, Altadis, General Cigar Co., and Davidoff will not be exhibiting at the PCA Trade Show this year, I give an outsider's view of what appears to be going on. I discuss the lack of a shared vision between the PCA and the manufacturers, the PCA's perceived lack of direction, and reasons why the trade show must change in order to survive. I also announce a new show that is exclusive to our Patreon supporters, Tales from the Lounge, and let everyone know of the great new articles up on simplystogies.com OUTSIDE SOURCES: https://halfwheel.com/altadis-davidoff-drew-estate-general-not-exhibiting-at-pca-2020-trade-show/370803/ https://www.cigaraficionado.com/article/major-cigar-companies-pull-out-of-pca-trade-show https://s23.a2zinc.net/clients/tmg/tpe20/Public/exhibitors.aspx?&_ga=2.164869239.955363547.1579030274-165441018.1578858608 http://simplystogies.com/2020_pca_absences/ http://simplystogies.com/projectpandatravelcase/
Jan 1, 2020
Episode 19: An Interview with The Cigar Madame
Congratulations to Chris Hansen, Gary Mehrl, and Caleb McReynolds on winning the Pupperdor.com contest. A big "thank you" to Pupperdor.com for supporting Simply Stogies Podcast and sponsoring such a great giveaway! I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with @thecigarmadame (Coco Maria) an avid aficionada, cigar enthusiast, great Sister of the Leaf, and Instagram influencer. We discussed her cigar journey, how a woman's experience in the cigar community differs from most men's, and how in some ways it's exactly the same. We talk about social media, if glamor models smoke cigars, and The Cigar Madame brand! I had a blast getting to spend a bit of time with The Cigar Madame and hope that you do, too. To book The Cigar Madame for events or to contact her for product and business promotion, please visit https://chocolateandcigars.com/ To follow The Cigar Madame on Instagram please search @thecigarmadame or click here Visit The Cigar Madame's Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/t…
Dec 15, 2019
Episode 18: An Afternoon Chat with Pete Johnson of Tatuaje Cigars
During an AMA/Virtual Cut&Light for SimplyStogies.club with Pete Johnson of Tatuaje Cigars, I get an opportunity to have a three hour conversation with Pete. We talk about everything from his cigar journey starting in a strip club, to how he looks at the FDA's overregulation, and everything in between. Pete was generous with his time and was more than happy to answer my questions, as well as the questions from the members of SimplyStogies.club. Thank you, Pete! It was a blast! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
1 hr 38 min
Dec 1, 2019
Episode 17: AMA/Virtual Cut&Light with Jon Huber of Crowned Heads Cigars
Jon Huber from Crowned Heads cigars joins James and some of the members from simplystogies.club for an AMA. Jon discusses his cigar journey, how he got started in the business, and where he sees the future of the business. Jon also talks about what inspires him and finding the reason for cigars to exist. We briefly discuss the FDA, it's impact on the industry, and what that looks like from an artists' point of view. He also tells us how his latest collaboration with Drew Estate, La Coalicion, came to be. Immediately following the podcast interview, the members of simplystogies.club had the opportunity to interact with Jon in the AMA portion of the virtual cut&light. To become a member of simplystogies.club email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me on Instagram @simplystogiespodcast or DM @simplystogies Thank you again to Jon Huber for joining us. It was a fascinating and fun chat!
1 hr 6 min
Nov 14, 2019
Episode 16: A Conversation with Jeremy Casdagli of Casdagli Cigars
I sit down with Jeremy Casdagli of Casdagli Cigars, formerly Bespoke Cigars, live from the Clayton in Chicago, Illinois. Jeremy and I discuss his cigar journey, how and why he started Casdagli Cigars, the name change from Bespoke to Casdagli, his family history and how that has influenced him, how he reacts to bad reviews and so much more! Plus, I mention how to save 10% by using coupon code simplystogies at Small Batch Cigars. For a limited time, when you use that code to purchase Casdagli Cigars, you will be entered into a raffle for a Casdagli cutter by Xikar!! Details in the episode! LINKS: https://casdaglicigars.com/ https://bespokecigar.com/
Nov 1, 2019
Episode 15: The Hobby Within the Hobby
James begins this episode with several big announcements! James announces interviews with Jeremy Casdagli of Casdagli Cigars and Pete Johnson of Tatuaje Cigars. He also announces a contest with pupperdor.com. Details and rules of the contest are found in this episode! Thank you to Pupperdor.com for sponsoring this contest. Have you ever wondered why there are so many different cigar accessories out there? How do you find what you need? What do you need? Do they make a difference in how your cigars smoke or taste? James gives you his take as his journey brings him to "the hobby within the hobby," cigar accessories.
Oct 15, 2019
Episode 14: AMA w/Nick Melillo of Foundation Cigars
I get the opportunity to sit down and chat with Nick Melillo, master blender, and founder of Foundation Cigars for a SimplyStogies.club AMA/Virtual Cut & Light via Zoom Meeting. We had a fantastic conversation about Nick's cigar journey, how he got started, what he's learned, and where he's going. We discussed a slew of topics that ranged from the various cigar lines at Foundation, to Nick's approach to blending cigar, Nick's love of history, and the dreaded FDA. It was a fantastic chat that I hope you enjoy as much as I did. I am thankful for Nick being so generous with his time and sharing his passion with us. There was a SimplyStogies.club members only live Q&A immediately following the podcast that is only available to SimplyStogies.club members. To become a member of SimplyStogies.club please email me at email@example.com
1 hr 23 min
Oct 2, 2019
Episode 13: Community
I am pleased to announce the launch of simplystogies.com! I'd like to thank all the hard work put it in by the team (Timothy Allen, Mike Brieg, Wonho Frank Lee, Troy Kelso, and Stephanie Hattan) in order to get the website off the ground!!! Please, check out simplystogies.com and let us know what you think via social media. I discuss the recent Simply Stogies Mega Herf at Casa de Montecristo in Countryside, IL. It was a fantastic time and I'd like to thank everyone who was able to make it. I use this as a springboard to discuss what a healthy cigar community, online or otherwise, should look like. Remember to be good to each other out there and stay smokey!
Sep 1, 2019
Episode 12: Cuban Cigars: An Interview with an Expert
This episode, I welcome Joe from SimplyStogies.club. Joe has been smoking Cuban cigars for 20yrs and is an expert on the subject. I get his expert opinion on the moral and ethical issues of purchasing Cuban cigars, how to spot fakes, the implications of a free market Cuba, and much much more. This discussion, much like my cigar journey, is filled with twists and turns. If you have questions about Cuban cigars, Joe has answers!
Aug 15, 2019
Episode 11: Cuban Introduction
I return to my journey and how I came to know the famous Cuban cigar. The Cuban cigar has mystery, romanticism, and maybe a bit of a taboo air that surrounds it. Is the Cuban cigar hype? What issues surround the Cuban cigar for someone living in America? Can you easily get your hands on an authentic Cuban cigar? I recall how my journey first crossed paths with this famous stogie.
Aug 1, 2019
Episode 10: Boveda Butler Review
I recall how I was gifted with something completely unexpected by a great BOTL before jumping into Facebook cracking down on the buying/selling/trading/private transactions of cigars. As I discuss Facebook's shift in policy, I land on Netflix cutting down on scenes that portray tobacco use. This underscores the need to support groups like the Cigar Rights of America. If you haven't joined them yet, please consider doing so. I then give you my experience and full review of Boveda's foray into hygrometers, the Boveda Butler. OUTSIDE LINKS: https://www.patreon.com/simplystogies https://www.cigarrights.org/
Jul 15, 2019
Episode 9: Sheepdog Humidors Bullet Torch & Padron 2000 Review
I give my impressions and review of Sheepdog Humidors Bullet Torch and of the Padron 2000 Natural. Before I dive into those reviews, I put out the call to those who would like to join the Simply Stogies team! I'm looking for writers interested in reviewing products and cigars, writing about the latest news around the cigar industry, or imparting their knowledge to others. If that's you, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Outside links: https://sheepdoghumidors.com/ https://www.instagram.com/sheepdog_humidors/
Jul 1, 2019
Episode 8: B&Ms, Lounges, and Etiquette
I discuss my recent visits to several cigar lounges and B&Ms around my area, what to look for when choosing a B&M, and the importance of supporting your local B&M. I also discuss the do's and don'ts when visiting a cigar lounge, and share some of my most embarrassing cigar lounge moments. If you have do or don't or funny anecdote you'd like to share, please email me at email@example.com OUTSIDE RESOURCES: https://www.theclayton.com/ http://casademontecristo-chicago.com/ http://habanocigarloungehg.com/ https://www.habanocigarstinleypark.com/ https://leafbrotherscigars.com/des-moines-cigar-lounge/
Jun 15, 2019
Episode 7: An Interview with Vlad from Casdagli Cigars
I sit down with Global Ambassador for Casdagli Cigars, Vlada Stojanov. I join Vlad at The Clayton in downtown Chicago, where we discuss the name change from Bespoke to Casdagli, the Casdagli lines of cigars, what the future holds for Casdagli, and I pick the brain of a sommelier on how to develop your palate. It's a fantastic conversation with a genuine BOTL who has a ton of knowledge. I hope you enjoy the interview. Link to Vlad's Flavor Wheel: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B0H8PlYeLC2-V2dRbVp4dWRYTDA I also congratulate CigarandThings from Instagram for winning the one-of-a-kind Simply Stogies ashtray. I thank my first Patreon supporters Stephanie Hattan and Chris Jones! Thank you!!! To support Simply Stogies podcast, please follow this link: https://www.patreon.com/simplystogies I have a new email address: To contact the show directly, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org OUTSIDE RESOURCES: https://www.theclayton.com/ https://bespokecigar.com/
Jun 1, 2019
Episode 6: Tabernacle Havana Seed Review
I interview a moderator for SimplyStogies.club and a cigar reviewer at Burn1.net, Mike. Mike walks us through his process of reviewing a cigar: from the pre-cut ritual, to the cut and light, to writing his review. Thank you to Mike for taking the time, on his birthday, to sit down and give us some insight on what goes in to reviewing a cigar. You can find more of Mike's reviews at https://burn1.net/
May 19, 2019
Episode 5: The Eastern Iowa Cigar Appreciation Society
For this episode, James goes on location to the Walker Homestead in Iowa City, Iowa to interview a couple of the founding members of the Eastern Iowa Cigar Appreciation Society. Keith Chiavetta and Doug Wagner sit down with James to discuss what it means to be a local cigar club, what it means to interact with the community, and how to give back. To join or follow the EICAS: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EIowaCigars/ Twitter: @CigarCR Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12208387/ Or you can contact Keith Chiavetta on Linkedin directly: https://www.linkedin.com/in/keithchiavetta/
May 1, 2019
Episode 4: Guardian of the Farm Apollo Review
James reviews Guardian of the Farm Apollo, a collaborative effort between Warped and Casa Fernandez. James also announces Simply Stogies is now available on iHeart Radio, as well as Simply Stogies first contest! Make sure to listen for details. OUTSIDE SOURCES: https://www.bobalu.com/cigar-size-chart https://halfwheel.com/five-thoughts-imperials-decision-to-sell-its-premium-cigar-business/298529 https://www.iheart.com/podcast/269-simply-stogies-30907896/
Apr 1, 2019
Episode 3: The Cigar Rights of America
James welcomes the executive director of the Cigar Rights of America, Glynn Loope, and one of the CRA Ambassadors for the state of Iowa, Timothy Allen, to Simply Stogies. They discuss what the Cigar Rights of America does, how the FDA is trying to regulate the premium cigar industry, how the CRA is pushing back against that, how cigar enthusiasts and aficionados can get involved, and how the current political climate plays a role. To become a member of the Cigar Rights of America and help them in their fight to protect our cigar rights please go to https://www.cigarrights.org/ To see a list of current state and federal cigar issues please visit http://www.cigarrights.org/news-info.php and choose your state If you have questions concerning the Cigar Rights of America, please email email@example.com You can follow the Cigar Rights of America on Twitter @CigarRights and on instagram https://www.instagram.com/cigarrightsofamerica/ You can follow Glynn Loope on Twitter @GlynnLoope…
Mar 1, 2019
Episode 2: A Short Story
For Episode 2, James discusses the proper storage and humidification of cigar, and also reviews the Arturo Fuente Hemingway Short Story. James tells you about his journey through cigar storage and humidification, while also giving you the very basics of what you need to know. James briefly touches on the "mold v plume" debate and emphasizes the importance proper humidification and storage. James then gives his review of the Arturo Fuente Hemingway Short Story. He regails you with his first encounter with this gem of a stogie, before reviewing it. Enjoy the stories and stay smokey. OUTSIDE SOURCES: https://www.friendsofhabanos.com/forum/topic/131757-foh-mould-study/
Jan 30, 2019
Episode 1: The Journey
For the inaugural episode of Simply Stogies, James takes you along on how his journey through the world of cigar smoking. He recalls his decision to begin cigar smoking, the first few cigars he tried, and how his collection has grown. James has something for both new cigar smokers and veteran aficionados for his very first episode!