Gilberto Oliva sr passed away

I just learned that Gilberto Oliva sr passed away, age 86. I want to wish the Oliva family strength and wisdom during these difficult time.

When I heard the news I thought back to February 2014, when I had the opportunity to meet this legendary man at the Oliva factory in Esteli, Nicaragua.

me & gilberto Oliva

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The mancave

I mentioned my mancave a few times, in posts about the swag I received for example and when I showed off my lancero humidor and a few people reached out to me to show the mancave.

The last two days I’ve been rearranging all the swag because I needed to give Cornelius & Anthony the proper prime real estate after the bomb they send me. And because now everything is nice and tidy I took the opportunity to make a little video and shoot some pictures.

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Cigar Rights of Europe

This is for my European readers, but not Europeans are free to join the cause.

I remember when I was young we had a few campaigns about smoking in The Netherlands. Now I’m not talking cigarette commercials, which were still shown on TV and magazines back then, or billboards with sport games but government campaigns. Now looking back you can actually see the growing influence of the anti-smoke lobby (powered by big pharma) in the sound of the campaigns.

The first I remember was the ‘roken moet mogen’ campaign, which translates to “smoking should be allowed” which turned into a “roken, we komen er samen wel uit” campaign, “smoking, we will figure it out together” to create a society where smokers and non smokers could co-exist and be considerate to each other.

The smokers were and are willing to figure it out together but the anti-smoke lobby doesn’t want anything of that, they want to ban smoking completely. And they managed to push legislation to crazy levels, smoke bans in bars, restaurants, work places and even in outdoor parks and beaches. Crazy warning labels and in a few countries even plain packaging (for example Australia and France). Flavorings can’t be named anymore, a vanilla cigar can’t be called vanilla, rum can’t be rum anymore but have to be color coded. The latest legislation is TPD2 and caused huge, full color, warning labels with disgusting pictures and there is more to come.

Since a few weeks it is not allowed to show open boxes of cigars on Dutch webshops, there are tests being done with tobacco sales behind closed curtains and plain packaging is coming to other European countries too. Now people talk about banning smoking on streets or even in your own backyard or your own balcony.

And to be fair, that cigarettes and roll your own tobacco is beging targeted isn’t strange, those chemically enhanced tobacco is addicting and known to cause several deceases yet every major study shows that it’s not the case for cigars. Yet the anti-smoke lobby and legislation doesn’t make a difference, tobacco is tobacco and it’s beging targeted.

We need to fight for our hobby, our passion and we need to stand up for our rights. The newly started Cigar Rights of Europe is doing that but can’t do it without your help. The CRE needs your help to help them help you! And fight for cigars, protect our rights as cigar smokers. So go to their website and sign up for only €25 a year.


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Swag for the man cave

When I was looking for a house to buy I specifically looked for a house where I could have a man cave with a walk-in humidor to enjoy my cigars, my music and my movies. In the apartment where I used to live I smoked in the living room but since everything was on one floor my whole place smelled of old cigar smoke and I wanted to avoid that.

So I found this house, in the town I grew up in, close to my parents and my sister, waterfront garden, 2 minute walk to a supermarket yet not on a busy road that had the perfect set up. The ground floor has a indoor garage and behind the garage there is this room, some call it garden room, some call it sun room but to me its my man cave/office. The living and the kitchen are a storey up, the bedrooms and bathroom even two storeys up so no issues with cigar smoke. As an added bonus the man cave has a double door to the garden so on warm days I can just open the doors and enjoy the fresh air.

Anyhow, I built that walk-in with my father, a friend painted some cigar logo’s on one of the walls and I managed to get some artwork from several companies to dress up the room. My Father Cigars send m an awesome painting, Rocky Patel got me two metal signs, Alec Bradley gave me a table top lighter, two signs and a huge ashtray, Oliva got me a canvas and Jessi Flores hooked me up with several Drew Estate items. Add that to the cigar store indian and the decals I already had I was able to decorate my man cave pretty decent.

But now, today, the doorbell rings and the UPS guy hands me a huge box, and I mean really huge. I see the shipping address and realize it’s from my dear friend Courtney Smith, who works for Cornelius & Anthony and she completely blew my front porch away. I mean, I really have to figure out where to put all the items she send me because they deserve the best spots in the room as they are awesome.

Now what did I get you might ask? I will tell you:
two different ashtrays, a cool poster with Cornelius, a metal Cornelius sign, a beautiful shirt with Cornelius & Anthony logos embroidered  and piece the resistance, a mind blowing woodcarving with the Cornelius & Anthony logo. Pictures just don’t do it justice but I’ll post them anyway.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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In many countries around the world, October is the month to try to stop people to smoke under the name ‘stoptober’. This morning I got invited to a Facebook group called Aficionados Liberation Front, a group that was founded to troll the yearly anti-tobacco protest in front of the Intertabac trade show. Now the group is targeting the Stoptober movement, and you can join. How? See the copied message below:

“Dearly appreciated fellow partisans,

After a 2 year silence we feel the time is right for another playful guerilla action against the anti smoking lobby. This time we will attempt to hijack the hashtag #stoptober on facebook and instagram.

Plan of action: Share pictures of the cigars you smoke in october on your personal FB page and instagram account and add #stoptober as a comment. When posting on your FB page make sure the post is set to public. Wouldn’t it be fun if people clicked the hashtag all they’ll see is pictures of cigars being smoked? 😂 We feel we actually are with great enough numbers to pull this off but please also invite other aficionados to join us.

Hopefully we can be as successful as with our last playful guerilla action in 2015 against an anti-smoking group that was protesting at Intertabac that year.

As you may remember we hijacked their Facebook page by bombing it with selfies in which we enjoyed our beloved cigars. This is what their paged looked like: http://docdro.id/atjcZ7l

When you scroll through the 137 document keep in mind their page was suposed to be anti tobacco. 😂 They haven’t been protesting at Intertabac in 2016 en 2017. 😂

Let’s see if we can be just as successful.”


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I love this industry

I mentioned it a few times, I used to work in the cigar industry as a sales rep, in The Netherlands and that’s not one of the biggest markets out there. And because of my work I met a lot of cigar manufacturers, either in Europe or at their factories in Nicaragua.

What strikes me, amazes me actually, is the way the manufacturers treat me and that amazed me again last weekend at Intertabac. I mean, I was just a sales rep in a small country yet when I walked onto the trade show floor A.J. Fernandez spotted me and started waving at me trying to get my attention instead of the other way around, José Oliva whom I hadn’t seen in years walks up to me, at the Cigar Journal award show Alejandro Turrent walks over to me to say hi instead of the other way around, Frederik Vandemeliere (J. Cortes) takes a selfie with me on his phone and a few years ago Nick Perdomo tapped me on my shoulder to introduce his wife Janine to me. Those are just a few of the times where I thought “this should be the other way around”.

I love this industry, I love the warmth, the people, I made real friends in the years that I was lucky enough to be part of this industry.

Here are a few pictures I took at Intertabac, I missed a lot of photo opportunities because I usually don’t like them, but hey, once in a blue moon right?


And a big thank you for Sam Morales & Jessi Flores for hooking me up with two unique pieces of art for my man cave

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Jas Sum Kral in The Netherlands

Last weekend Riste Riatevski, owner from the Jas Sum Kral brand was in The Netherlands for the Dutch Big Smoke, other guests were Alex Svensson (Cigar.com), George Sosa (Alec Bradley), Abe Flores (PDR), Juan Martinez (Joya de Nicaragua) and Tom Mulder (La Sagrada Familia).

Because of my friendship with Riste we hung out and I acted as his host and driving during the few days he spend here. We made a short movie about the JSK trip.

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My lancero collection

I love lanceros and I even have a dedicated lancero humidor, as you might have seen on a video I posted a while back. While updating my inventory on stogierate.com I took pictures of the content of the dedicated lancero humidor, why not show them off? Almost 400 lanceros, including some unicorns.

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A full week of reviews

There are a lot of cigar groups on Facebook and in some of those groups people like to combine days with cigar brands, like Tatuaje Tuesday and Fuente Friday. Since I have so many unpublished reviews and need to post a lot I decided that this week will be a week dedicated to the weekday – cigar combinations and I came up with a few of my own.

This week I will post a review every day, monday to sunday, all with the name tied to the weekday, here’s the list:

Murcielago Monday
Tatuaje Tuesday
Warped Wednesday
Taboo Thursday
Fuente Friday
Santiago Saturday
Sosa Sunday

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My man cave & humidor

About three years ago, right after I came back from Nicaragua the first time, I got the keys to house I bought. I bought a place where I could built a man cave and a walk-in humidor.

Before I lived in an apartment and everything smelled of cigar smoke, so I wanted a place where I could smoke cigars without contaminating the rest of my house, the house I bought is perfect. Indoor garage on the ground floor with a extra room, that room I turned into my man cave. First floor is kitchen and living room, second floor three bedrooms and a bathroom.

Now you want to see the man cave and the walk-in? Click on this link and you’ll see a short video.

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