Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 466

12 Feb 2016

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post a mixed bag of quick cigar news and other items of interest. Below is our latest Friday Sampler.

Roya Red Half Corona

1) Joya Red, one of our favorite releases for 2014, is getting a new size. While the Half Corona (3.75 x 46) has been available in Europe for a few months, now the vitola will be for sale in the U.S. market. “The Joya Red Half Corona is designed to satisfy the contemporary smoker’s desire for a quick, but extremely pleasurable, smoke,” reads a press release from Drew Estate, Joya de Nicaragua’s distributor. “Joya maintained the same lower priming Nicaraguan tobacco blend as the rest of the Joya Red line. This new vitola comes in boxes of 20 cigars and 5-count ‘petacas.’ Joya Red is a medium-strength smoke packed with flavor, outstanding construction, and sharp burn… It has quickly gained popularity with contemporary consumers, making it Joya de Nicaragua’s second best-selling brand in the U.S. market in only a year and a half.”

2) Although Congress is free to ignore it, every year the President is required to send a proposed budget to Congress and this week President Obama submitted the final proposed budget of his presidency. Of note to cigars smokers, the budget proposed by the President this year includes $115 billion in tobacco tax hikes. Fortunately, observers agree that there is little support in Congress for massive new tax hikes.

3) Inside the Industry:Black Label Trading Co. (BLTC), founded in 2013 with “a focus on unique blends of small batch cigars,” has signed a distribution agreement with New Jersey-based Boutiques United (BU), according to a press release. “BLTC embodies what we view as a successful boutique cigar company. They not only make a fantastic product, but their leadership team has the drive to get it into the hands of cigar smokers.” noted BU owner Scott Zucca. “The vision, character, and integrity of the BLTC team is a perfect fit in the Boutiques United family.” Last year, BLTC opened its own factory in Estelí, Fabrica Oveja Negra.

4) From the Archives: Talk about a blast from the past, consider the following: Boutiques United (see above item) used to be called House of Emilio which was grew out of the Emilio Cigars line, and one of the first Emilio Cigars lines was Grimalkin which was later renamed La Musa Mοῦσα, a cigar we reviewed three years ago yesterday. In that review Patrick A wrote the following: “The quality, subtlety, and balance of the blend cannot be denied… La Musa Mοῦσα Toro, my favorite of Gary Griffith’s creations to date.”

5) Deal of the Week: Cigar fans looking for more information should consider joining the Montecristo Social Club. Signup is free, and if you provide a verifiable address you will receive a welcome pack including a free punch cutter.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Drew Estate

Drew Estate

Cigar Review: Warped Futuro Selección Suprema

10 Feb 2016

futurologo_large

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say Warped Cigars had a breakout year in 2015. The company has been around for the better part of a decade, but in the past couple years it upped its game with a series of releases made at El Titan de Bronze in Miami and TABSA in Nicaragua.

warped-futuro-SSFuturo was one of a handful of new releases from Warped at the 2015 IPCPR Trade Show in New Orleans last summer. Warped describes Futuro’s creation on its website:

“Future” is a collaboration between Warped x Casa Fernandez, but more specifically Kyle Gellis of Warped and Max Fernandez of Casa Fernandez, son of Eduardo Fernandez, owner of AGANORSA and Casa Fernandez. We originally began speaking about this project at the 2014 IPCPR and it took that much time to develop this concept and blend. We set out to create a profile that is unlike anything Warped or Casa Fernandez has done previously, utilzing 100% AGANORSA material from their “vault,” a selection of tobacco under lock and key and specifically for the Fernandez family.

The cigar uses a reddish-brown Nicaraguan Corojo ’99 wrapper, Nicaraguan Criollo ’98 binder, and Nicaraguan Criollo ’98 and Corojo ’99 filler tobaccos. It is made at TABSA.

Futuro will be offered in two vitolas, each of which sold in 20-count boxes: Selección Suprema (5.6 x 46, $8.75), and Selección 109 (6 x 52, $9.75). I smoked four Selección Supremas, the size and blend preferred by Kye Gellis, for this review.

The profile starts with an initial burst of creaminess before it settles into a woody flavor with light spice and hints of honey. Occasionally, I even pick up on a combination of flavors that reminds me of banana bread. As the medium-bodied cigar progresses, heavier spice and earth notes become more prominent. There are papery notes on the clean, relatively short finish.

The excellent construction on this cigar is a testament to the increased quality that the TABSA factory has been producing. The factory is now producing cigars for Illusione, Warped, Casa Fernandez, Foundation Cigar Co. (El Güegüense), and others.

With a combination of sweetness, spice, wood, and earth, this is a very enjoyable, complex, and balanced Nicaraguan puro. Add in excellent construction plus a fair price (under $9) and the Warped Futuro Selección Supremas earns our first five-stogie rating of 2016.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here. A list of other five-stogie rated cigars can be found here.]

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: MoyaRuiz The Rake Fix

8 Feb 2016

The Rake

From its rough, rugged Connecticut Broadleaf maduro wrapper to the intense finish, The Rake would be right at home at the poker table in the Long Branch Saloon.

FixThe Rake is the second regular production line from MoyaRuiz, a small firm that has already made an impression in the cigar world with a couple of offbeat limited editions and its initial La Jugada line.

Like La Jugada, The Rake is a powerful smoke. With filler comprising four ligero leaves—two from Jalapa and two from Estelí—the surprise would be if it weren’t. (Details on the binder were not released.)

The Fix starts with spice and pepper and a bit of a back-of-the-throat scratch. For the first third, in fact, it seemed that might be its single distinguishing characteristic. Fortunately, though, that began to lessen as the second third began, opening up to some dark flavors like burned coffee, roasted nuts, and charred wood.

As I progressed down the box-pressed frame (5.6 x 46), there was lots of smoke, a slightly loose draw, and a not-so-great burn. The thick wrapper, at times, seemed almost fireproof.

The cigars are rolled at Erik Espinosa’s La Zona factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. The Rake comes in boxes of 20, with three sizes in addition to the Fix: Cut (5 x 52), Take (6 x 52), and Vig (6 x 60). The boxes and bands, like the names themselves, all reflect a connection to poker.

In announcing the line, Danny Moya said in a release that the band’s design was “inspired by the speakeasy peep hole found in many doors at underground gambling rooms, and the cigar box has two slots on the top of the box to resemble a rake box.”

I bought a five-pack ($47.50) back in the summer and smoked a couple then and a couple recently. Six months or so in the humidor seems to have made a little difference, especially in reducing sharpness.

With such a distinctive profile, I wouldn’t regularly smoke The Rake. But I would definitely pick one up on occasion for something different. I recommend it, especially in this size, and give it four stogies out of five.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here.]

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys / MoyaRuiz

Quick Smoke: My Father El Centurion Toro

7 Feb 2016

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief take on a single cigar.

IMG_20160206_234711

The original El Centurion blend was one of my favorite cigars, which has always given the second iteration an unfair standard to live up to. But after being impressed with the newer El Centurion H2K, I decided to revisit the cigar, which uses a Nicaraguan sun-grown Criollo wrapper. It has nice pepper and wood notes, but this particular stick suffered from a terribly tight draw that made multiple relights necessary. Given my experience with this blend and My Father cigars in general, I have every reason to think the fatal construction on this cigar was a fluke, and a rare one at that. Still, each Quick Smoke only evaluates a single sample, and this one was a dud.

Verdict = Sell.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Regius Exclusivo U.S.A. Toro Extra

6 Feb 2016

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief take on a single cigar.

Toro Extra

Regius has gained lots of online buzz since entering the U.S. market from Great Britain. The Exclusivo, introduced in 2014, is billed as a “fusion of the old and new schools of cigar making” for American smokers. Four vitolas feature three large ring gauges and a Lancero Extra, each blended to suit the size. I paid about $12 for the Toro Extra (6.5 x 56). Made by the Plasencias in Nicaragua and distributed by Quesada, it’s a tasty, medium-strength Nicaraguan puro with wood, earth, spice, and a hint of sweetness. One complaint: Regius’ poor website. There are few to no specifics about the cigars, and the retailer page is woeful, failing to even include the Chicago shop where this line debuted. I had to rely on a Cigar Aficionado interview with the CEO.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Regius Cigars

 

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 465

5 Feb 2016

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post a mixed bag of quick cigar news and other items of interest. Below is our latest Friday Sampler.

Cusano Dominican Connecticut

1) Davidoff has announced Cusano Dominican Connecticut, a new line that features “fine Dominican filler tobaccos and an Ecuador Connecticut wrapper.” The blend is “designed for aficionados seeking the daily pleasure of a great-tasting cigar at excellent value.” Four sizes will be available in April—Robusto, Toro, Churchill, and Gordo—in the affordable $4.49 to $5.99 range. “As part of Oettinger Davidoff’s mission to meet key aficionados’ needs through a diverse portfolio of cigar offerings, and to be the indispensable business partner of retailers, the new Cusano Dominican Connecticut range will delight aficionados seeking to enjoy fine-quality cigars at great value,” said Charles Awad, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing and Innovation at Davidoff. Davidoff purchased Cusano in 2009, about nine months after its purchase of Camacho.

2) Casa de Montecristo—a successful three-location tobacconist in Chicago—has launched an online retail website, which notably includes numerous exclusive releases from brands like My Father, Tatuaje, Drew Estate, E.P. Carrillo, and more. “CDMCigars.com will not only feature a fantastic selection of the finest cigars available, but will bring the consumer interactive features such as wish lists, a virtual lounge, chances to purchase extremely rare cigars, and periodic raffles,” reads a press release. “The newest cigar releases, limited edition products, certified aged vintage cigars, and the finest accessories will also be featured.”

3) Inside the Industry: Altadis USA, whose parent company owns a major share in Habanos S.A., this week launched “Exploring Cuba,” a “knowledge hub” on the Montecristo Social Club website that includes “exclusive information about Cuba’s culture, history, and cigar heritage…” and highlights “everything from Cuba’s tobacco-growing regions to the anatomy and creation of Cuban cigars.” Former Miami Cigar & Co. sales executive Rene Castañeda has been named president of Villiger Cigars North America. The oldest cigar maker in the Dominican Republic has announced La Aurora Cigar Institute, “the first institution in the world to educate and teach about the world of cigars in a didactic manner.”

4) From the Archives: Plenty of attention gets paid to the most recent best-of lists but, if you want to find some gems you may have overlooked, we suggest going back to the best-of lists from a few years ago. For example, our “Best of 2013” list contains a very interesting combination of discontinued cigars, limited release runs, and cigars that you can still get (and may even be in the discount bin) at your local shop. Check it out here.

5) Deal of the Week: StogieGuys.com recommends Bespoke Post, a monthly collection of awesome items delivered to your door for just $45. Past boxes include barbecue accessories, shaving kits, coffee, and exclusive cigars. You can skip or purchase every month. This month’s options include a serious upgrade to your cocktail accessories, a kit for making barrel-aged cocktails, everything you need (but the booze) for an authentic Moscow Mule, and others. Click here to sign up today.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Davidoff

Tip: Six Ways to Enjoy Cigars More in 2016

3 Feb 2016

Version 2

We all know about beginning-of-the-year resolutions. Lose weight, exercise, get more sleep… And we all know how most of them end up. Broken. (Statistically, by now, over a third of resolutions are already broken.)

But cigar resolutions are different. They can be easy to keep because they increase your enjoyment. Here are a few suggestions for 2016:

Take better care of your cutters and lighters. Neither of these tools requires all that much maintenance, but a little work will pay off. Keep your cutter clean. A blast of canned air will push out tiny bits of tobacco that can jam the mechanism and dull the blades. And while you have the compressed air handy, shoot a little in your lighter to eliminate debris and keep the butane flowing freely.

Venture outside your comfort zone. Try something from a manufacturer you never smoke, pick up a cigar with a different wrapper or blend, spring for an ultra-premium when it’s time to celebrate, or dig into the bargain basement once in a while. Sure, you will come up short on occasion, but you might find a new favorite. At the least, you’ll learn more about your likes and dislikes.

Clean up. Dump the ashtrays when you’ve finished smoking. Without fail. No one—and I mean no one—likes the sour, nasty smell of old ashes and butts.

Check out some oldies. New doesn’t always mean better. There is a reason some smokes have been around for years and years. People like them and buy them regularly. It’s also nice to know that a cigar you enjoy will always be available.

Introduce someone to the joys of cigars. We’ve all got friends who have never tried a premium cigar. Can they really turn down an invitation to watch a game, enjoy a drink, or just chew the fat at your local shop or in your backyard?

Enjoy. Whatever you find best about cigars, do a little more of it this year.

You likely can come up with more resolutions of your own. No matter what you decide, here’s to the best cigar-smoking year ever!

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys