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  1. It’s Been A Minute Hello all lovers of the leaf. It’s been a while since I have posted anything in the Cigar Lounge. Like everything else, you can blame the pandemic for that. I have not had anything to share in the lounge since I had not smoked a cigar in fourteen months. My reasoning was that if this was a virus that infects the lungs, then maybe it was a good idea to keep the lungs as healthy as possible. Is that a true thing? I don’t know, as I am not a doctor. Regardless, I did go for more than a year without a cigar. Once I was fully vaccinated though, my new plan became Got the Stabs, Have a Stick! New Kit Needed To celebrate the return of golfing with cigars, I figured that I needed a couple of things. First, I would go grab one of my favorite cigars, an Olivia Serie V. While the Rocky Patel Sun Grown Maduro is probably my favorite cigar, it can be a little much for the course. It’s more of a bourbon and bullshitting smoke. The Olivia works better for me on the course. The other thing that I wanted was a new cigar tool kit for the golf bag. Nothing like a new cutter, lighter, and case to boost the enjoyment of the smoking ritual. Naturally, I turned to Xikar, knowing that their tools have yet to let me down. And so, today I want to share with you these new cigar toys so that should you too want to step up your cigar tool game, you’ll have my takes to reference. First, lets talk about transport. Xikar Envoy Case To smoke a cigar at the golf course you first need to get the cigar to the golf course. Now I typically use the Xikar 5 cigar travel humidor for golf, but I wanted to explore something lighter and smaller. The five-cigar case works well but seems like overkill if I’m only taking one stick and not worried about maintaining humidity. The plan was to look for something smaller. The Xikar Envoy Case seemed like a solid single cigar option. Sure, I could just buy cigars in tubes, but not all my favorites come packaged that way. This case is simplicity personified. It consists of two sections that connect by the larger sliding over the smaller. It may be simple, but it works great for cigars of all reasonable sizes (up to 60 ring/7”). You just slide the top down until it fits the cigar. Could sliding too far damage the cigar? Probably, but the fit is tight, so it would take a significant impact to move that lid. As far as the ritual goes, the rich leather and cedar lining evoke feelings of luxury. Maybe that sounds silly, but the case feels fancy, and that makes me feel like I’m doing something fancy. All in all, I see myself using the Envoy case far more than the travel humidor, except maybe for golf trips, then I’ll likely need both. Xikar Enso Cutter Cutting the cigar is a big part of my smoking ritual. I think that there is a primal, perhaps medieval glee that comes with the cutting. Maybe it’s a touch sociopathic, but I love hearing that click when the blades sever the tip of the cigar. As I am a fan of Xikar’s round XO cutter, I had to take their new Xikar Enso cutter for a spin. Like the XO, this cutter features two synchronized cutting blades. But unlike the XO, this one only pushes from one side. The double guillotine blades move in sync when you press down on the cutting lever. I’m not sure if this is all gear driven like the XO as this time, as all mechanics are enclosed. To open the cutter, you will need to pull the edge up. Nothing spring loaded here. Once open, this cutter will take on a cigar up to a 72 ring gauge. That’s too much girth for me, but you live your life. Like I’ve come to expect from Xikar, the Enso cuts clean. Amazingly clean. One push and that tip is gone, with not a fray to be found on the edge of the wrapper. The profile of the Enso is a little on the large size. I did not expect it to have a diameter larger than the XO. That said, it is thinner than expected, and still fits perfectly for one hand cutting. Xikar Tactical Single Torch Yes, I definitely enjoy the cutting ritual, but it is the lighting of the cigar that I look forward to the most. Something about tapping into the primal element of fire and getting the first tastes of the tobacco as the cigar lights. That’s the best. Unfortunately, this is also where a noncompliant torch can take the ritual off the rails. Fighting for fire is not enjoyable. Prior to the trying out this torch, my go to fire source was the Xikar Tactical Triple torch. It holds an ocean of fuel, and lights the first time, all the time. It gives me everything I need, except the being new part, so naturally, I needed to take the Xikar Tactical Single for a spin. The surprising thing about the Tactical Single is that it is a bit larger than the Tactical Triple. Maybe not in width, but it is taller and thicker. The ergonomics are still sound though as its round-ish profile fits easy in the hand. Thumb access is perfect for lid flipping and button sliding. The knob to change flame height is huge and has quite a range. Pay attention to this as on full, this single jet torch produces significant flame. My Turrim single does not pump fire like the Tactical Single. After venting any air and filling the Tactical Single with premium butane, I put the ignition to the test. Ten out of ten times it lit. Granted, this was in my garage and not out in the elements. Not to worry though as once I was out on the course, performance was the same. Now you may have noticed that there is a nice groove on the top of the torch to hold your cigar. It’s a great feature, but I am not sure it’s golf friendly. It should work in a riding cart. Pick any flat surface then balance the cigar on the torch. Just remember it before you drive off. Walking the course, this feature may not work quite as well since the fill hole is on the bottom. I’m not sure I’d try this on the grass or dirt as I don’t want any debris to plug the fill hole. How it went... With all this build up, you may be wondering how that cigar was on the course. Full disclosure, it was delicious. I loved pulling the new tools out of my new MGS valuables bag. My Envoy kept the cigar safe. The Enso cut like Hanzo, and the Tactical Single delivered fire like Prometheus. All in all, it was great to enjoy a stick on the course again. As we return to normalcy, one of my goals is to appreciate more the things that I took for granted. A round of golf with my good friends and a good cigar is one of those things. BONUS TORCH: Palio Vesuvio Triple Torch As it turns out, I have a bonus tool to share with you, the Palio Vesuvio Triple torch. Though the Palio brand may not as well known as Xikar, I have found that Palio makes solid cigar tools. One of the welcome differences is that most of their tools are on the lower end of the cost scale. This torch, for example, lists on Amazon for $12.99 or two for $19.99. While it may not be as fancy as some of my other torches, the Palio Vesuvio Triple is a fire breather. It has a huge butane tank. It is easy to adjust. It spits triple tongues of fire to the stratosphere. And best of all, it only costs about $10! Add one to your golf bag, your camping gear, your boat, and wherever you usually enjoy a cigar. Should you drop it in the lake, or leave it in the golf cart, who cares? It was only $10. As far as bang for your buck, or flame for your fuel, this torch gets it done.
  2. Dave's Take: Xikar's XO Double Guillotine Cutter Review http://www.xikar.com/products/cutters/xo/ Ritualistic Cutting As i've said before, part of the cigar smoking experience for me is the ritual. Not just during the smoke, but before as well. It really starts at the cigar shop, where selecting the perfect cigar adds to my anticipation for the smoking to come. The ritual then continues through the unwrapping of the cigar, the cutting of the end, the smelling of the fresh cut end (you should try this), the lighting of the cigar, and then finally the smoking. I suppose I see cigar smoking as a luxury activity with a luxury item, and I want to enjoy as much of the process as possible. A Thousand Ways to Cut a Cohiba That's not really a saying, but it is definitely a point of discussion when it comes to the “correct� way to cut a cigar. About the only consensus that I have found among cigar smokers is that the cigar wrapper from the mouth end must be removed before smoking. Beyond that, the methods abound. If you are not sure of the possible options, then feel free to watch this video that I came across from Neptune Cigars showing the various cutting methods. How to Cut Cigars : Neptune Cigars https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzBQSBUmjN0 Golfers would likely also add the poke with a tee and slice with divot tool methods to the list. Like everything else that we humans do, we likely going to discover that we have a favorite cigar opening method. For me, that's cutting. The Xikar XO Cutter Today, I bring you my take on the Xikar XO Double Guillotine cigar cutter. As soon as I saw the XO cutter, I knew that I had to try one out. As I said, I'm a cutter guy, and the Xikar Xi1 cutter is the welcomed workhorse in my cigar toolbox. At first glance, the Xikar XO seemed to push the already awesome double-bladed cutting of the Xi1 to a whole new level of fun. Yep, I just said fun. That's why I smoke cigars, for fun. Anything that can add to the enjoyment of the process will get a look from me. What could not be fun about a spring-loaded double guillotine cutter? Just typing that sentence was fun. How could using the cutter not be fun too? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-9ofK2901A Specifications: Xikar XO Double Guillotine Cutter Double Guillotine style cutter Aluminum body Stainless steel blades Planetary geared cutting system with five internal gears Spring-loaded blade release button 2.38" diameter 64 RG (cuts the cap of 70RG cigars) Colors: 8 (Gunmetal Honeycomb tested) MSRP: $99.99-$119.99 The XO is a cutting machine, inspired by timeless design principles. The dual stainless steel blades operate on a patent pending planetary gear system, ensuring the blades open and close in perfect harmony, providing a guided and clean cut every time. The distinct, round aluminum body of the XO is built for relentless durability and exceptional performance. Engineered to simplify the standard double guillotine style cut. Using the XO is definitely not like using your teeth. According to the Neptune video, you are never without a cutter because you can always go Eastwood and bite the end off of your gran panetela. Cutting with the Xikar XO cutter lives at the opposite end of the cigar-cutting spectrum. The only thing that you'll be doing with your teeth when you cut with the XO is showing them between your retracted lips when you smile. Those Gears are Planetary Raise your hands if you know what a planetary gear system is? My hand is not up, but thanks to Google, I was able to find out a bit about them. Basically, think about the solar system. You have the sun, and then the planets moving around it. That's a huge oversimplification about how these gear systems work, but you get the idea. There are multiple gears all connected together in system, and the turning of one gear is influenced by, and dependent upon the movement of the other gears. You can get really smart if you follow this link to a YouTube explanation of the planetary gear system. While I can't really hope to understand how the gears in the Xikar XO cutter all work together, I do understand the overall result. The blades always move together, even if you only press from one side. What this means for you is that you should be able to get an even cut with minimal effort. As a brilliant bonus, Xikar included openings in the body of the XO, allowing you to see the gears turn while you use it. Dinner and a show. Sometimes getting an even cut can be a challenge with the cheap, single blade cutters. Think cutting a tomato with a knife. Unless that knife is really sharp, and your pressure just right, the initial tomato penetration could involve squishing rather than cutting. Nobody enjoys squishing the tomato, or the cigar. The gear-driven double blades in the XO will not squish your tomato cigar. Cutting to the Chase Cutting cigars with the Xikar XO cutter is as fun as I expected. Glee generates immediately when you press the button on the top that releases the spring-loaded blades. It reminds me of the first time I popped open a switchblade knife. You hit the button, and the blades extend, ready for business. Probably did this twenty times in a row when I opened up the XO box that first time. After that, maybe only five times each time I used the cutter. Full disclosure: I also had delusions of Batman when using the XO. At some point I may have equated popping open the blades with extending the wings on a spring-loaded Batarang. I'm not in charge of where the brain takes me, and for a second, I WAS BATMAN! As for the cutting, the XO is exactly what I expected from the company that brought me my beloved Xi1. The blades are sharp, and with the gearing, they deliver the honed steel with precision. Time and time again, you can deliver the cigar-opening cut exactly where you want it, with wrapper-shearing precision. Even on a probably too dry to smoke cigar, the cut was clean. I actually cut up that dry cigar from stem to stern with the XO, just to be able to make more cuts with the cutter. Again, it's fun to use. From a practical side, if you smoke big ring cigars, the XO is definitely worth checking out. 64 ring gauges can fit inside, and you can take the cap off of a 70 RG stick. I don't know if I've ever had a 70 RG cigar before. That seems huge, and yet the XO can handle it. For reference, the cigar in the photo above is 54 RG. I feel like the XO could take just about anything you throw at it. This cutter could even help you dice carrots for dinner! Not that I cut a carrot with it. Who would do that? Smaller gauges are also a breeze to cut with the XO because of the synced blades. You can easily bring the blades to the edges of the smaller cigar with just a bit of a press, then once in contact, press more firmly to sever. Since the blades move together, it really takes effort to cut incorrectly. As a size reference, you can see how the overall size profile, and the cutting diameter of the XO compares to the Xi1 above. I was pleasantly surprised at how similar the two were as far as space usage in the travel humidor. Both snug into the corner quite nicely. I'd give both the full portability nod, and the fact that they both have spring-loaded blades made the gamer selection very challenging. The XO is XtraOrdinary! I don't think that it's a stretch to say that the Xikar XO double guillotine cutter is the coolest cigar cutter on the market. It is just so interesting to look at, and fun to use. Right now, I'm not currently smoking a cigar at all, yet I keep taking breaks from typing to click the XO open and closed. As for the Xi1 vs XO battle, the XO is in the travel humidor. The XO definitely adds to my cigar while golfing enjoyment, and it always draws interested attention when I pop it open, allowing me to share it's coolness with others. I think that there may also be some golf crosstraining potential in the XO. It's definitely an awesome ball marker, and I think that there may be a way to use it to draw a line on my ball. Regardless, I'm totally geared up to use the XO to cut my next stick.
  3. Dave's Take: Xikar's HP4 Quad Flame Lighter http://www.xikar.com/products/lighters/hp4/ The High Performance supercar-inspired HP4 Lighter was engineered to deliver optimum performance and output. The dominant appearance of the HP4 embodies a newly designed chassis. An in-line fuel adjustment wheel, oversized double EZ-Viewâ„¢ red fuel windows and four angled jets create an apex of precision engineered flames to concentrate heat and efficiently light any cigar with confidence. The manual flip-top lid not only protects the quad jets, but also retracts more than 90 degrees ensuring plenty of room to light small or large ring gauge cigars. Last week, I shared with you my take on the Xikar Turrim Single Jet Lighter. If you didn't get a chance to read that review yet, just click that link in the previous sentence. If that's too much effort, I'll summarize it for you. The Xikar Turrim Single Jet Lighter is my runaway-favorite lighter to take to the golf course. It's ergonomically excellent, lights reliably, fits perfectly in the travel humidor, and has enough butane capacity to light sticks for a scramble worth of golfers. Nothing but aces with the Turrim. Today, I have another Xikar lighter to share with you, the HP4 Quad Flame lighter. Yep, you read that correctly: QUAD FLAME. The HP4 has four butane jets. I've used three-jet lighters before, but never four. My inner pyromaniac says that more fiery jets should be nothing but good, but could that much fire cause unforeseen cigar lighting issues? Features Diamond Quad Jet Flames Outer Jets are angled 8 degrees creating a quad flame apex Flip-top lid retracts over 90 degrees Pull-Down ignition sports Xikar badge styling Metal body with debossed stripes Louvered rear-end accents Oversized, ratcheting fuel adjustment system EZ-Viewâ„¢ Red Fuel Window to easily detect remaining butane levels Five available colors (Black, Gunmetal, Red, Blue, and Orange) MSRP: $119.99 Ergonomics and Functionality Though not as streamlined as the Turrim Single, the HP4 Quad Flame lighter continues a theme of solid ergonomics. The HP4 is a bit stockier and shorter than the Turrim Single, fitting more into the contours of your palm as opposed to across them like the Turrim. The HP4 lighter has a little more heft to it than the Turrim Single, which will be a good or bad thing depending upon your personal preference. For me, I found the weight to be significant, yet comforting. When I first held the lighter, I was a bit surprised by the heft, but the more I used it, the more I realized that I liked the weight, that it felt like I was holding something that means business. These subjective things are hard to explain in words, but maybe think of the difference between holding a paring knife and a cleaver. Both knives cut, but when you hold the cleaver, you know that you are handling something powerful. That's my feeling about the HP4 Quad Flame lighter. Ergonomics is not a trivial metric for lighter use, as the position of the lighter in the hand determines how easy the lighter is to operate. For the HP4, the shape allows you to grip it in such a way that you can easily access the operational parts with your thumb. Flicking the cover open, and sliding the ignition switch are accomplished with ease. One of the features that Xikar promotes about the HP4 is the fact that the cover retracts to beyond 90 degrees, allowing for easy interaction between the cigar and the flame. I couldn't agree more with this assessment. I've got other flip top lighters where the lid stays too close to the jets, reducing access and also causing the lid to get hot, and burnt finger dangerous (yep, that's from personal experience). This lid gets out of the way, yet still covers the jets completely and snugly when retracted. Style-wise, Xikar has again done a solid job merging aesthetics and functionality. The louvers across the back not only add an interesting visual to the lighter, but they also add texture, enhancing the snugness of the lighter in your hand during operation. The available colors are pretty broad in appeal as well. You can choose from conservative black and gunmetal choices, or bolder red, blue, and orange options. Dave's 10 Click Challenge My new measurable metric for lighter performance is Dave's Ten Click Challenge. Basically, I will fill the lighter, and see how many ignitions occur with ten consecutive lighting attempts. I know that I want the torch to light more often than it doesn't, and so this seemed a valuable bit of data. For the HP4 Quad Flame lighter, the score was 10/10. I actually went to 15 straight ignitions without a miss. Quad fire every single time. Golfability I've previously gone on record as saying that the Xikar Turrim Single is the best take-to-the-golf-course cigar lighter, and after a few rounds with the HP4 Quad Flame lighter, the Turrim will retain that title, but it was close. The HP4 is pretty damn amazing, but the main thing that lowers its golfability for me is shape. The Turrim Single has the ideal cylindrical shape, allowing it to fit perfectly into a cigar slot in the travel humidor. The HP4 fits in the humidor, but it is a bit too wide for a single cigar slot, and it thus requires more manipulation to get it to fit with the cigars and a cutter. Shorter cigars will give it room at the top of the humidor, but you are likely dropping a stick from the box to get the cutter in there. Because of this, I'm giving the decision to the Turrim Single. It's kind of disappointing for me actually, because outside of the shape issue, this lighter brings nothing but joy when used. First, I think that it holds about a gallon of butane. Not really, bit there is a lot in there, with the current levels easily viewed by checking the EZ-Viewâ„¢ Red Fuel Windows. Of course, you'd need that capacity with four jets to fuel, but even so, I was not prepared for the longevity of the burn. Once filled, the raging flames just sip the butane reservoir. My expectation of frequent refilling was not met. The lighting of a cigar is also magnificent with the HP4. Having extra jets actually resulted in a feeling of improved heat control during lighting. It does seem counterintuitive, but having the pyramid of fire allowed me to control how much flame contacted the cigar at any given time. You can gently roast the tip from a distance, cultivating a great starting burn. having four jets is definitely not about lighting the cigar as fast as possible. It was cool to discover that the HP4 allows precise lighting, when I expected blunt-object burning. I love the way this lighter lights. Also, feel free not to worry much about wind ever again either. Now you could suggest that the HP4 could go to the course, just not in the travel humidor. I thought of that too, but I'd hate to have it get scratched or disfigured after just dropping it into a bag pocket filled with other junk. It would be like getting a ding on a favorite putter, and I am not down with that risk. The HP4 is going to sit nicely next to my fancy Bettinardi cigar tray; lighting backyard sticks with four-flame delight. Overall: It's Rad, but Burning at Home The HP4 Quad Flame lighter is a phenominal cigar lighter, falling just short in golf portability for me. If you are not as hung up as I am on getting it in the travel humidor, then I'd say bring it to the links. If not, it's a great lighter for all other cigar situations. It's got some heft to it, but it'll still fit in your pocket. The HP4 Quad Flame lighter would also make a great tabletop lighter. It has a great wide base, allowing it to easily stand when placed on the table. Take it with you, or leave it in your cigar area. The HP4 has you covered. Retail on the HP4 is a not-insignificant $119.99. That's no small investment for a torch, but remember that this one too is backed by Xikar's lifetime warranty. You are not investing in a cheap lighter, and should there be an issue with it, Xikar will take care of you. This lighter will also make an excellent significant-event gift. One of my foursome turns fifty next month, and a HP4 Quad may very well be the gift of choice to mark the event. Next week, we will check out the mechanical wonder that is the Xikar XO dual-guillotine cutter. Stay tuned.
  4. Dave's Take: Xikar's Turrim Single Lighter http://www.xikar.com/products/lighters/turrim%2Dsingle/ The Turrim Single is XIKAR's newest family addition. Built on the same principles as the 5x64 Turrim, the Turrim Single is a thinner, shorter 4.5x50 version in a single jet flame. The oversized fuel tank is elongated, providing ample butane capacity and the EZ-View™ Red Fuel window makes it easy to visibly detect when it's time to refill with butane. Welcome to the first of three Xikar product reviews that I'll be sharing with you over the next couple of weeks. Previously, I've written about two other Xikar products, the Xikar 5-cigar travel humidor and the 19th Hole gift set, and both of those products have been firmly in my golf bag's cigar arsenal ever since. The more I use their products, the more I'm convinced that Xikar is the company to beat in the cigar accessory marketplace. Today I have for you the Xikar Turrim Single jet torch. Did Xikar keep the awesomeness rolling, and add another must have item to my bag? Features Durable metal body with sleek look and feel Ergonomic pull-down pivot action for easy lighting Oversized, ratcheting fuel adjustment system allows for easy flame height adjustments Fits into one cigar slot in a travel case Elongated fuel tank maximizes fuel capacity EZ-View™ Red Fuel Window to easily detect remaining butane levels 4.5� x 50 RG Four available colors MSRP: $49.99 Ergonomics and Functionality The Xikar Turrim Single jet torch is basically cigar shaped. Even the dimensions for it are listed with a ring gauge for diameter. The great thing about this shape is that it allows the lighter to fit into cigar shaped spaces. It's ideal for most travel humidors and cases. The lighter also has a nice weight and texture. The cylindrical body fits well in my hand, and the added texture keeps it in place as you flip the igniter. Your thumb just ends up being where it should be when you go to light it. Solid ergonomics. The only thing that I would caution you about with this lighter, and all other sliding top ignition lighters, is to make sure that you are putting your thumb on the switch, and then sliding it away from the now exposed burning jet. Buddy wanted to push the ignition switch with his thumb, rather than pull it, and he almost had a hot thumb surprise. Seems like and obvious thing, but it's not for all. The flame adjustment knob is huge, and very easy to adjust. I hate torches where you need a screwdriver to change the flame height. That's often times a three-handed operation, when I currently have only two. With the Xikar Turrim Single jet torch you can ignite it, and then adjust the flame height while it burns. No other small torch that I own allows for this to happen. The butane window is also a nice feature, removing all questions about whether or not the lighter is full. This definitely helps to prevent the click and hope flame delivery system that can happen with other torches. You know exactly how much butane remains. Dave's 10 Click Challenge My new measurable metric for lighter performance is Dave's Ten Click Challenge. Basically, I will fill the lighter, and see how many ignitions occur with ten consecutive lighting attempts. I know that I want the torch to light more often than it doesn't, and so this seemed a valuable bit of data. For the Xikar Turrim Single jet torch, the score was 9/10, with the only failure coming on click 10. (It also lit on try 11; I was curious...) 90% ignition rate is a damn fine score in my book. Golfability So the lighter performs like a champ, but does it work well on the course? You bet it does. There are two main reasons why the Xikar Turrim Single jet torch may be just the torch that the golfer is looking for. First, the shape is perfect. The torch is just the right size to fit in one of the cigar slots in your travel humidor. Sure, this means that you are down one cigar for the round, but I can't imagine when I'd have a five cigar round. For me, four sticks and a lighter still means that I have extra sticks to share with my friends should they want one too. The Xikar Turrim Single jet torch just fits right in. The other thing that I like about this design is that the butane tank is huge. You can fill this up, and then let it ride for a couple of rounds. You'll have the flame when you need it, without packing a can of butane in your bag like my buddy does. This torch will definitely avoid the 10th hole fill-ups. Overall: It's in the Bag! The Xikar Turrim Single jet torch is a great lighter for the cigar-smoking golfer. It has the shape, capacity, and dependability that will keep your cigars ablaze as you traverse the links. Once again, I am truly impressed with what Xikar has to offer. I think that the $49.99 price tag on this lighter is pretty solid as well. Sure, there are cheaper lighter options out there, but how many $15 torches have you bought, and then thrown away when they break? This torch is backed with Xikar's lifetime warranty, so you are basically buying a forever torch. I feel that the investment in something nice adds to the experience as well. A cigar on the course has a bit of ritual for me. I like to pick the cigar from my selection, cut it with a nice cutter, and then light it with a fun to use torch. Maybe you are different, but like lots of the stuff in my bag, using something that is more than utilitarian adds to the experience. Tune in for more Xikar products soon.
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