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

Drew Estate

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

Cigar Review: BG Meyer Gigantes 56

1 Feb 2016

Gigantes

BG Meyer is an offshoot from Camacho’s “Board of the Bold,” which is comprised of legendary NFL coach Mike Ditka, jewelry maker Matt Booth, and Hollywood writer and producer Rob Weiss. The trio was assembled in 2013—about five years after Davidoff acquired Camacho—when Camacho’s portfolio of 11 brands was narrowed to 6, and when its reputation for bold smokes was underscored by a new scorpion logo.

Gigantes 56Ditka, Booth, and Weiss all have brands that are made and distributed by Camacho, which operates out of Honduras. Weiss, perhaps best known as a writer and producer for the HBO series Entourage, labels his smokes BG Meyer after his dog, Big Meyer. There are currently three BG Meyer blends: Standard Issue, Slackers, and Gigantes.

The latter was introduced last year as homage to the bigger-than-life heroes we admire, hence the name and “amped-up” ring gauges. Gigantes showcases a dark Nicaraguan-grown Habano wrapper from 2007 over a Brazilian Mata Fina binder and filler from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Four sizes are available: 52 (4 x 52), 54 (5 x 54), 56 (6 x 56), and 60 (7 x 60). They range in price from about $9.50 to $12.50.

The Gigantes 56 is a large, thick, bold-looking smoke accented by dual bands of gold and black. While the firm, well-built cigar is not without a minor aesthetic imperfection here and there, it carries an overall impression of quality. The oily, toothy wrapper leaf has a faint leathery aroma, and the foot has a more complex fragrance of dried apricot, cocoa, and earth.

As soon as an even light is established, I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with my colleague’s First Impression: Gigantes 56 “is dominated by earth and oak, though notes of coffee, bread, clove, and hints of red pepper are also apparent.” Medium- to full-bodied from the get-go, I also find some cherry and creamy cashew—especially on the retrohale. The intensity subsides towards the midway point, then ramps up a bit in the final third, which is also characterized by the addition of black pepper and a heavier dose of coffee beans.

The physical properties performed perfectly across my three samples. When you fire up this cigar, you can expect a straight burn, solid ash, easy draw, and good smoke production.

You have to be weary of any cigar with a celebrity name attached to it; you can end up paying for the name, while important aspects like tobacco, blending, etc. are an afterthought. That shouldn’t be your concern with Gigantes, though. Weiss clearly had expert tobacco people guiding him through the development process.

This fine-tasting smoke has a lot going for it. That said, I wish Gigantes was available in some thinner sizes. The 56 is a big smoke, commanding a significant time commitment. Plus, the flavor changes along the way aren’t terribly significant, which means the cigar runs the risk of overstaying its welcome if you aren’t in love with the core profile. All things considered, I’m scoring the BG Meyer Gigantes 56 three stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Tatuaje L’Espirit de Vérité 2008

31 Jan 2016

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

TatuajeLaVerite2008

Here’s a throwback: a robusto from the original Tatuaje La Vérité release, which represented an ambitious use of aspects of wine by adopting future sales pricing, single vintage tobaccos, and tobacco sourced from a single farm. Back in 2009, when my colleague reviewed a pre-release edition, he predicted it would age well, so today I’m checking out what the better part of a decade did for this cigar. Construction is flawless, with age producing a sharp, even burn. The dominant flavors on this medium-bodied smoke are mild oak and light spice, although there is a slightly tannic, bitter element towards the final third. Most unique is the notably clean and crisp finish. This is a well-made, unique, and enjoyable cigar, but I don’t think it ever fully lived up to the grandiose expectations. Even with age it is easily surpassed by the 2009 La Vérité releases.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Illusione *R* Rothchildes

30 Jan 2016

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.”

Rothchildes

I often get asked to recommend cigars with great flavor, low price points, and relatively wide availability. My response always includes the *R* Rothchildes (4.5 x 50) from Illusione, which was released in 2013—and has maintained a welcome home in my humidor ever since. For only $4, you get a balanced, medium-bodied profile with floral notes, cocoa, black pepper, sweet cream, and roasted nuts. *R* Rothchildes is made at Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA) in Nicaragua with a Mexican San Andrés wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. Get yourself a box of 50 and keep them on hand for just about any occasion—or no occasion at all.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 464

29 Jan 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.

Cuba

1) Relations between Cuba and the United States continue to make incremental progress toward normalization. This week, the “Obama administration announced new Cuban regulations that allow financing of authorized exports to the island and more exceptions to the embargo,” reports the Miami Herald. “The new regulations, which went into effect Wednesday, not only allow financing of authorized exports but also expand the types of exports that will generally be approved as well as those that may be sent to the island on a case-by-case basis if Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control determines such products meet ‘the needs of the Cuban people.’” This development follows the formal restoration of diplomatic relations, including the re-establishment of embassies in Washington and Havana, and an executive order from President Obama making legal travel to Cuba easier. Obama has also called on Congress to end the trade embargo. Currently, legal visitors to Cuba are allowed to bring up to $100 worth of Cuban cigars back to the U.S.; an outright end to the embargo, however, would unquestionably herald drastic, long-lasting changes for the cigar industry, as well as present new challenges and opportunities.

2) Altadis has announced Yargüera H. Upmann, a blend named for a new hybrid tobacco seed that’s exclusive to a Honduran farm of the same name. Three sizes will be available in the $8.50 to $9.25 range, each with a Yargüera ’13 Tapado wrapper, Criollo ’98 binder, and sun-grown Yargüera ’13 and Criollo ’98 fillers. “We are thrilled to announce Yargüera H. Upmann, as the first project for this Honduran Estate Tobacco,” said Altadis in a press release. “There is such a heritage connection between both Yargüera and H. Upmann as they both originated from Cuba. Cigar enthusiasts will enjoy not only Yargüera H. Upmann, but the tobacco brand in general as this is just the start.”

3) Wild Turkey’s label has undergone a remake to show off a more mature fowl. The Wall Street Journal reports the turkey—known internally as Jacob—is “really front and center” along with the slogan “Crafted With Conviction” on new bourbon bottles. It’s all part of a push by owner Campari to increase sales. “We acquired a rather dusty brand, but we also felt that it was a real hidden gem,” says Melanie Batchelor, Campari’s vice president of global strategic marketing. On the old packaging, “our turkey is kind of in the background, more of a watermark, and he looks a little sad. He’s not proud,” Ms. Batchelor says. Also, “a lot of consumers know a lot about turkeys,” she says, adding that customer research found that the young-looking turkey conflicted with the idea that the bourbon is aged.

4) Inside the Industry: Drew Estate announced it has entered into an exclusive U.S. distribution agreement with Debonaire Cigars and Indian Tabac, both of which produce cigars in the Dominican Republic and are run by Philip S. Zanghi III. Drew Estate founder Jonathan Drew said the partnership was a natural pairing: “Phil Zanghi has been a dear personal friend of mine for two decades… Phil is old school and has been a presence in the Central American and Caribbean tobacco worlds forever.” Zanghi, who is licensing the Indian Motorcycle name from its owner, Polaris, was partners with Rocky Patel in the original Indian Tabac until he sold his share to Patel in 2002. Patel later re-branded his company as Rocky Patel.

5) Deal of the Week: Want an easy way to try some of the hottest new blends? Check out this five-cigar sampler at Smoke Inn. Included are one each of the Flor de D’Crossier Selection No. 512, Camacho American Barrel-Aged, El Güegüense by Foundation Cigar Company, Drew Estate Undercrown Shade, and Steke Saka’s Sobremesa. Use our exclusive coupon “Stogie10” to knock the price down to just $41.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Cigar Spirits: Orphan Barrel Project Rhetoric 21 Bourbon

27 Jan 2016

OB-Rhetoric-21

Formally announced in 2014, the Orphan Barrel Project has been one of the biggest, albeit sometimes divisive, developments in the high-end bourbon market in recent years. The project of industry giant Diageo has brought a number of well-aged bourbons to the marketplace at a time when such releases are becoming very rare and expensive.

The first releases were the 20-year Barterhouse and 26-year Old Blowhard, the latter being one of the oldest bourbons to be sold. Next came Rhetoric 20, a 20-year bourbon distilled at the New Bernheim distillery in Louisville, which is now owned by Heaven Hill, maker of Elijah Craig and Evan Williams.

Next up was the 22-year Lost Prophet and 15-year Forged Oak. The latest release is a 21-year version of Rhetoric, which is part of a planned annual release that will show off the evolution of the bourbon as it ages, perhaps up to 26 years. (Another Orphan Barrel release, Gifted Horse, is due out soon; it will be a combination of 4-year bourbon and corn whiskey blended with 17-year bourbon.)

Rhetoric 21 is 90.2-proof, a smidge higher than the 20-year version (90-proof). It sells for around $100, and I picked up my bottle for $93 online after tasting a sample provided by Diageo.

Rhetoric 21 pours a deep copper color and has a nose that shows off its age with damp wood, vanilla, and green apple taffy. On the palate, the bourbon tastes of oak, baking spices (clove, cinnamon, nutmeg), vanilla, orange peel, and burnt sugar. The finish is long with cornbread, charred wood, and clove.

At times, the flavors feel slightly muted with the exception of the deep woodiness (over-oaked, perhaps) which is why I prefer the Lost Prophet and Forged Oak. Still, fans of oaky, ultra-aged bourbon will find Rhetoric fits the bill in a way that very few bourbons (you can actually find) will.

For cigar pairings, I think the light wood and sweet spice style of Mexican-wrapped cigars matches up nicely. Specifically, try the Illusione *R* Rothchildes, Room 101 San AndrésTatuaje The Face, and Drew Estate’s Undercrown.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys