Quick Smoke: Joya Red Toro

26 Jul 2014

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”joya-red-sq

joya-red-toro

After reading my colleague’s review of the new Joya Red, I was eager to fire up the blend up for myself. The Toro (6 x 52) is impeccably made featuring a shiny wrapper. It’s a tasty medium-bodied cigar with toasty flavors, a hint of creaminess, and a smooth woodiness. It’s very balanced and, as my colleague stated, “Nothing else in the Joya portfolio tastes like this.” It’s a welcome addition to to the Joya brand and an impressive display of the diverse blending capabilities of Joya de Nicaragua without abandoning their core Nicaraguan spirit.

Verdict = Buy.

-Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 392

25 Jul 2014

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.

National Cigar Policy Center1) Cigar Rights of America (CRA) and Tobacconist University have announced the formation of the National Cigar Policy Center, a portal of legislation that has been filed at the local and state levels that can advance the interests of premium cigar manufacturers, retail tobacconists, and consumers. “For some time, we have been collecting model bills that can advance the legislative agenda of premium cigar interests,” said Glynn Loope, executive director of CRA. “There is now a body of legislation that can serve the industry nationwide, by simply sharing this information. Even if a bill did not become law, it can serve a valuable purpose by assisting other states or communities.” Issues addressed at the National Cigar Policy Center include smoking regulations, taxes, cigar definitions, and the establishment of cigar bars and lounges. In addition, CRA and Tobacconist University are forming an advisory group of sitting and former legislators from across the country who can serve as a resource for advancing legislation that is beneficial to the industry.

2) The 82nd annual International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) Trade Show has come to an end. That makes now a great time to be a cigar smoker. New releases that were announced at the convention in Las Vegas will soon be hitting the shelves of a retailer near you. StogieGuys.com is here to help sort through what’s worth smoking. Stay tuned as we bring you trusted reviews of many of these new cigars. (This week alone we reviewed three new cigars: RoMa Craft Neanderthal, Joya Red, and Eiroa CBT Maduro.)

3) Contest: StogieGuys.com readers who register at CigarsFor.Me this week will be registered to win a free five-pack of cigars. CigarsFor.me specializes in recommending customers the perfect premium cigars without having to go through endless hours of research. Users simply fill out their quick Palate Profile and instantly they’re shown cigars that they’ll love. It’s fun, easy, and this week you can win free smokes. Click here.

4) Inside the Industry: La Flor Dominicana has introduced a 1994 Limited Edition Beer Stein in honor of the company’s 20th anniversary. The unique packaging is filled with a new cigar made with filler and binder tobaccos grown on La Canela in the Dominican Republic, wrapped in a Mexican San Andrés maduro wrapper.

5) Deal of the Week: Smoke Inn’s Deal of the Week (which goes live at noon today) features a dozen smokes for under $3 per cigar. While supplies last, $32.95 gets you two each of the Ortega Wild Bunch Wild Bill, Warlock Toro, Nestor Miranda Special Selection Coffee Break, Gran Habano Azteca Aguila, Toraño Exodus 59 Churchill, and Perdomo Noir Robusto.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: CRA

Cigar Review: Eiroa CBT Maduro Robusto

24 Jul 2014

More and more, cigars that used to be introduced for the first time at the annual IPCPR Trade Show are now announced ahead of time. In the case of this new offering from Christian Eiroa, it was not only announced in the months before the show, but it began arriving in shops a few weeks before the show even opened.EIROA-CBT-robusto-sq

EIROA-CBT-robustoThe cigar is the maduro follow-up to the original self-titled Eiroa cigar, a Honduran puro, which debuted last summer. While the exact origins of the tobacco aren’t disclosed, it is 100% maduro, hence the CBT name which stands for Capa, Binda, Tripa (one of many ways to refer to the wrapper, binder, and filler).

The cigar comes in four sizes, each of which will be sold in 20-count boxes. The 4 x 48 will be box-pressed, while the other three sizes (5 x 50, 6 x 54, and 6 x 60) will be traditional parejos. The cigars sell for $9-12 each and, this year, production at the Aladino Factory in Honduras, where this is made, will be limited to 150,000 cigars. I smoked three samples in the robusto size provided by CLE Cigars for this review.

Fans of Eiroa and maduro cigars will note that this is not his first all-maduro cigar. Back in 2007, Camacho Cigars (then owned by Eiroa, before he sold it to Davidoff) made the Triple Maduro with similar undisclosed origins. Though it’s been a while since I smoked the Camacho Triple Maduro, and it has been re-blended since it was introduced, Eiroa seems less full-bodied than the Camacho version.

Hardly the pitch black maduro wrapper you sometimes see, the CBT wrapper is a more natural deep brown maduro color, in part because it uses only primings from the top of the tobacco plants. Pre-light, I picked up a notable cinnamon flavor on the draw.

Once lit, the CBT demonstrates plenty of quintessential deep dark maduro flavors: earth, coffee, and cocoa. There’s also a hint of clove and baking spices. The medium- to full-bodied cigar features consistent flavors from start to finish. Construction was excellent on all three samples I smoked, with a notably razor straight burn.

I’ll admit that given the choice between two cigars and only knowing that one is a maduro and the other isn’t, I’d select the non-maduro every time. Still, this a well-made cigar (if slightly expensive at $10) with straightforward, pleasant flavors and excellent construction. That’s enough to earn the Eiroa CBT Maduro Robusto three and a half stogies out of five.

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

-Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Joya Red Robusto

23 Jul 2014

Back in April, I visited the Joya de Nicaragua factory in Estelí as part of Drew Estate’s Cigar Safari. At the outset of the tour, Juan Ignacio Martínez—the 31-year-old who was named executive president as his father, Dr. Alejandro Martínez Cuenca, steps away from day-to-day operations—gave us an overview of Joya’s fascinating history. Many know that Joya is the oldest cigar maker in Nicaragua. Fewer are aware of how Joya’s legacy is intertwined with the political unrest in Nicaragua in the 20th century.

Joya Red RobustoBut that is a story for another time. Before walking the factory floor, we were provided samples of an unnamed blend that was under development. I only got to try one—and I had smoked many cigars that day—but I recall it being milder than the traditional Joya profile, very classic-tasting, balanced, and delicious. At the time, I didn’t know this blend would ever hit the market. I hoped it would.

Fortunately, Joya Red, as it is called, was officially announced in early June. It is currently making its worldwide debut at the IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas. Joya Red is intended to be the “new and exciting side of Joya de Nicaragua,” a product of what’s now “the youngest executive team in the industry.” A Nicaraguan puro, it features a lower priming of Habano wrappers, as well as more Viso tobacco and less Ligero than what Joya typically employs. The filler is a mixture of leaves from the Estelí, Jalapa, and Condega growing regions.

Joya Red will be sold in the affordable $5.75-$8 range in four sizes: Short Churchill (4.75 x 48), Robusto (5.25 x 50), Toro (6 x 52), and Cañonazo (5.5 x 54). (The latter was originally slated to be called “Cardinal;” it was likely changed to avoid confusion with the E.P. Carrillo Cardinal.) The Robusto is a handsome, well-made cigar with a nice cap and an unblemished exterior. The cold draw is smooth and the foot has abundant pre-light notes of hay and syrup.

Once lit, I find a medium-bodied, balanced profile of citrus, dry cedar spice, roasted nuts, and a little black pepper. The texture if light and toasty. Nothing else in the Joya portfolio tastes like this. The Robusto is classic with traditional tastes and plenty of balance and complexity. It is simultaneously understated yet full of flavor. The midway point witnesses a tendency to coffee with creamer, and the finish has a slight increase in pepper and spice. All the while the physical properties—ash, smoke production, burn, and draw—are solid.

Already there are a number of Joya Red reviews online, and the consensus is acclaim. After smoking several Robustos, I am adding to that praise. This is an excellent blend that will almost assuredly be on many year-end lists of the best smokes of 2014. For now, I’m awarding the Robusto four and a half stogies out of five.

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

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Neanderthal (Pre-Release)

22 Jul 2014

romacraft-neanderthal

At least for fans of boutique cigars, I expect this new release from RoMa Craft Tobac (makers of Cromagnon, Aquitaine, and Intemperance) to be one of the most anticipated cigars from the IPCPR Trade Show that’s currently taking place.

Neanderthal is billed as the strongest RoMa Craft to date, which says a lot since Cromagnon and Aquitaine (particularly the former) are anything but mild. At least for its introduction, the cigar will come in one size: a 5-inch figuardo that has a ring gauge of 56 near the foot and narrows to 52 at the cap. The head of the cigar is completely flat across, and not just from a press… think a bowling pin with the top few inches sawed off. (In fact, a cutter isn’t really necessary; you can just remove the cap from the wrapper and start smoking.)

The blend has a medium brown San Andrés maduro wrapper (a first for RoMa Craft) with a Connecticut Broadleaf binder. The filler is comprised of four types of Nicaraguan tobacco, along with the aromatic Dominican Olor and a Pennsylvanian Double Ligero that provides it’s unique strength.

Neanderthal is very full-bodied with black coffee, damp earth, oak, and pepper spice—especially on the retrohale. It starts out with a heavy grittiness that seems to scratch the roof of your mouth. This reminds me a little of the early versions of Nica Rustica that had a wild form of Nicaraguan tobacco in it. After a third, the strength fades slightly, most likely because you grow accustomed to it.

The strength of the Neanderthal isn’t simply full flavors. It’s also nicotine, which is why the Pennsylvanian tobacco is key to the blend. While not necessarily the most flavorful tobacco, it contains double the nicotine content of a more traditional filler tobacco. Personally, I don’t notice the nicotine at all for the vast majority of the cigars I smoke, so when I did notice it while smoking this cigar, that told me RoMa Craft’s Skip Martin is accomplishing his goal.

I received this cigar while visiting RoMa Craft’s Nica Sueño S.A. factory in Estelí three months ago. I only smoked one, so it’s not clear what, if any, impact a few months of rest had. When I received this cigar, Skip also gave me a puro rolled from 100% Pennsylvanian Double Ligero that he uses for blending, and it’s certainly clear that filler has a huge impact on the cigar. (By itself, it’s really not too enjoyable.)

But as part of the Neanderthal eight-tobacco blend, the Pennsylvanian Double Ligero gives the cigar a unique club-to-the-head strength. It won’t be for everyone, and there isn’t much nuance to it, but if you like full-bodied, strong cigars (especially Cromagnon) you’ll want to give this a try. While at $12 (sold in cabinets of 50) it’s not cheap, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything else like it. That earns the Neanderthal a rating of four stogies out of five.

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

-Patrick S

photo credit: Instagram

Cigar Review: El Primer Mundo La Hermandad Costa Fuerte Caballito

21 Jul 2014

Last spring, Abe Flores of Pinar del Rio Cigars (PDR) issued an announcement that PDR would be managing the sales and distribution of the El Primer Mundo (EPM) brand. “This is a great opportunity for the EPM brand,” said Sean Williams, head of the Atlanta-based EPM. “Abe and I have… some good synergies with our overlap on sales reps and key accounts. This move will just make things a lot more efficient for our reps and our retailers.”

EPM Costa Fuerte 1The EPM lines now sold and distributed by PDR include Liga Miami, Epifania, and La Hermandad. The latter, which translates to “brotherhood,” has been made by Abe Flores at his factory in the Dominican Republic since its inception in 2012. (It should be noted that Flores’ factory also produces cigars for other brands outside the PDR-EPM fold, including Gurkha and La Palina).

EPM also has La Hermandad Costa Fuerte, which sports a Bahia Brazilian wrapper, a Dominican binder, and filler tobaccos that include Corojo ’06 from the Dominican and Criollo ’98 from Nicaragua. It is offered in three sizes that retail in the $8-$10 range: Caballito (5 x 50), Embajador (6 x 52), and Consejero (6 x 60).

I sampled three Caballitos for this review. Once I removed the white sleeve that covers the majority of the cigar, I notice this robusto-sized format has a number of fairly large veins across its otherwise smooth surface. The foot shows a cross-section of tightly packed tobaccos that give off some earthy pre-light notes. The cap seems hastily applied.

According to the EPM website, Costa Fuerte is intended to be a full-bodied smoke “with complex notes of spice, light coffee, and subtle creaminess.” After torching the foot and establishing an even light, a spice-forward profile of dry cedar takes center stage. The draw is virtually devoid of resistance, which I think adds to the intensity of the spice. It’s almost as though the voluminous smoke is concentrated at the tip of the tongue, rendering the profile salty and abrasive. For me, the sensation is quite agreeable. What’s more, I find it’s even better if paired with rum (Flor de Caña 18, in my case), as the sweetness of the rum offsets the cigar’s spice.

Into the second third and beyond, the Costa Fuerte mellows a bit, replacing some of the dry cedary spice and salt with notes of cream and roasted nut. Here the smoke begins to taste more along the lines of what I consider to be the profile of a classic full-bodied Cuban. It’s more balanced, and very traditional-tasting. All the while, the combustion properties are superb, including a straight burn, effortless draw, and solid ash.

We all know cigar reviews are subjective. I can see how some might be less enthralled by Costa Fuerte, especially since the first third is so dry and spicy. But the Caballito really strikes a chord with me, at least in part because I’m a fan of good cigars to pair with sweet sipping rums in the evening. After smoking through three samples this weekend, I’ve settled on an admirable score of four stogies out of five.

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

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: C.L.E. Signature Series Primera Liga de Miami (PLdM) Robusto

20 Jul 2014

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”CLE-Signature-PLdM-sq

CLE-Signature-PLdM

The annual IPCPR Trade Show opens in full today (the opening seminars and reception were yesterday), so it’s fitting I’m checking out a new release. C.L.E. Signature Series PLdM is a small-batch line (only around 400 25-count boxes are set to be released, spread between four sizes) made in Miami by three handpicked rollers who work on Christian Eiroa’s personal blends. Details of this blend aren’t disclosed, but the profile and source suggest plenty of Honduran tobacco. The notable pre-draw flavors are an enticing combination of breadiness, spice, and sweetness. Once lit, I found a very refined combination of woodiness, bread, and caramel with a hint of clove spice. The medium-bodied Robusto (4.5 x 50) features flawless construction, which you’d expect from a cigar that retails for $16. It’s not cheap, but it’s a sophisticated step up, even from the high bar that CLE sets.

Verdict = Buy.

-Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys