Quick Smoke: Arturo Fuente Casa Fuente Churchill

4 Oct 2015

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.”Felix-Assouline-LRS-sq


A recent trip to Las Vegas meant another opportunity to visit Casa Fuente to smoke their Casa Fuente house smoke, which is believed to be the Opus X blend, but with a Cameroon wrapper (think a cross between Opus Xand a Don Carlos).  The cigar is features medium-bodied flavors, with clove, coffee, cream and cedar spice that really shows off the Cameroon wrapper. It is well-balanced and the construction is impressive. If you’re in Vegas I’d strongly suggest dropping by Casa Fuente for a cigar and one of their signature Caipirinhas or Margaritas.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

Quick Smoke: Aging Room F59 Quattro Espressivo

3 Oct 2015

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

F59 Quattro

A few months ago, Boutique Blends announced the introduction of the Aging Room F59 Quattro, the follow-up to the F55 Quattro (very highly rated by my colleague in a 2012 review of the Concerto size). The F59 Quattro is a Dominican puro that’s marketed as medium- to full-bodied. It’s comprised of Cuban-seed tobaccos that are aged for ten years. The box-pressed, robusto-sized Espressivo (5 x 50) retails for about $10 and features absolutely perfect combustion qualities with rich, oily flavors of heavy cream, coffee, pepper spice, and peanut. Smooth-tasting with a bready texture, this is another winner from Rafael Nodal and highly recommended.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys


Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 450

2 Oct 2015

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.

Brian Schatz

1) U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI, pictured) this week introduced legislation to raise the national minimum tobacco purchase age to 21. His bill has nine cosponsors, all of whom are Democrats: Dick Durbin (IL), Sherrod Brown (OH), Ed Markey (MA), Barbara Boxer (CA), Jack Reed (RI), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Mazie Hirono (HI), Richard Blumenthal (CT), and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI). A companion bill is being introduced in the House. “We know that the earlier smokers begin their unhealthy addiction to nicotine, the more likely they are to suffer from tobacco-related diseases or die,” wrote Senator Schatz on his website. “This year, Hawaii became the first state in the nation to raise the minimum smoking age to 21. It was an historic public health achievement that we should adopt nationwide. By raising the minimum tobacco age of sale to 21 across the country, we can cut the number of new smokers each year; build a healthier, tobacco-free America; and save lives.” The current national minimum age to buy tobacco is 18, though Hawaii and several counties have already raised the age to 21.

2) Carlos Fuente Sr. is commemorating his 80th birthday by releasing his private blend, the Don Carlos Personal Reserve, which is expected to be available later this year. A Robusto (5 x 50), the cigar will retail for $14 and feature a Cameroon wrapper around Dominican tobaccos. Arturo Fuente is also introducing the Eye of the Shark (5.75 x 52, $12) but has not yet made public that cigar’s makeup.

3) Cigar Giveaway: Congrats to the five winners of our recent cigar giveaway. Darrylyn B. of Hickory, North Carolina; Jarrod L. of St. Augustine, Florida; Mark V. of Grand Rapids, Michigan; Tim M. of Buffalo, New York; and Chase A. of Saginaw, Texas. Each will be receiving a five-pack of cigars courtesy of Acme Cigars.

4) Deal of the Week: My Father fans should check out this deal from Cigar Place. Just $50 lands you six cigars—two each of the original My Father blend, My Father Le Bijou, and My Father Connecticut, all in a belicoso size—plus a lighter, cutter, and My Father Cigars ashtray in your choice of blue or red.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: MauiNow.com

Cigar Review: Abaddon Lancero (Blue Havana Exclusive)

1 Oct 2015

In 2013, two of my favorite cigars happened to be Abaddon and Ouroboros, both of which are made exclusively for Blue Havana, a tobacconist in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. They were blended by Chris Schedel with help from Skip Martin of RoMa Craft Tobac. Both are made at Martin’s Fabrica de Tabacos Nica Sueño in Estelí.

Abbadon LanceroOver the past two years, I’ve made the short walk from my home to Blue Havana several times to replenish my supply of these two fine blends (Abaddon, named for the dwelling place of the dead in the Hebrew Bible, features a Nicaraguan hybrid (Criollo/Corojo) wrapper; Ouroboros, named for an ancient symbol of a dragon eating its own tail, is wrapped in a Brazilian Mata Fina leaf).

Until recently, both were only available in a single size (6.25 x 52). During my last trip to Blue Havana a few weeks ago, though, I was greeted by a welcome site: Abaddon and Ouroboros are now both available in a Lancero format. It can only be good news when two excellent blends meet one of my favorite sizes, right? I lit up three Abaddon Lanceros to find out.

The Abaddon Lancero is available on the Blue Havana website for $108 for a 12-pack ($9 per cigar, not including outrageous Illinois taxes). Its dark, oily, slightly reddish, toothy wrapper is accented by a pigtail cap. The binder—Mata Fina—and filler—a blend of Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos—are not visible at the closed foot, though you can still pick up pre-light notes of sweet chocolate and baking spices. Despite the narrow ring gauge, the Lancero boasts and easy draw.

Once underway, the rich, bold profile introduces itself with a hearty dose of full-bodied espresso, cracked pepper, and leather. Perhaps not surprisingly, the overall impression is very similar to the toro-sized Abaddon, just more concentrated and more intense.

But the Lancero is more than just a blunt instrument of strength. There are also background flavors of sweet caramel and salty nut. Smoking a little slower than usual also helps quell the strength a bit and bring out more of the complexity—a task made simple by the cigar’s ability to stay lit even with long pauses between puffs.

With a straight burn line, great smoke production (especially for a Lancero), and loads of bold flavor backed up by a tones of sweetness and creaminess, the Abaddon Lancero is an easy recommendation and a solid complement to an after-dinner serving of high-proof bourbon. It’s downright delicious. I may give an ever-so-slight edge to the original Abaddon size since I believe it has marginally more going on in terms of balance and complexity, but the Abaddon Lancero rates exceptionally well at four and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

First Smoke: Bolivar 550

30 Sep 2015

First Smoke is a new series of Quick Smoke reviews, each evaluating a single pre-release cigar. Like the Quick Smokes we publish each Saturday and Sunday, each First Smoke is not quite a full review, just our brief take on a single cigar.fyr-cvr-robusto-sq


It was about 10 years ago, I think, when General Cigar’s Bolivar line underwent a transformation to a bolder, stronger cigar. I remember being impressed at the time and smoking quite a few until they gradually moved to the back of the box. I can’t remember when I last had one. Until now, that is. I was excited to try the new incarnation, with its “classic taste reimagined” by General’s skunkworks, Foundry Tobacco Co. Though I wasn’t able to attend the past summer’s IPCPR Trade Show, General kindly sent me samples of Bolivar and several other new releases. (Don’t pay much attention to the band; General says the sticks were rolled for the Trade Show and the bands don’t represent the final product.)

It’s a nice-looking, dark, oily stick with a pigtail cap and an unfinished foot. According to General, the wrapper is Havano Connecticut, the binder Ecuadorian Sumatra, and the filler from Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. List price on the robusto-sized 550 (5 x 50) is $6.49, lowest of the three sizes. Construction and performance were excellent, with a near-perfect draw.

I found the new Bolivar rich but a bit harsh. That diminished somewhat after the first third but picked up again towards the end. There is some nice tobacco sweetness as well as notes of chocolate and coffee, particularly in the middle. Overall, though, for me the bite was a drawback. While I’d definitely recommend trying it, you might be better served by first letting your tobacconist age them a bit on their shelves.

Verdict = Hold.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar News: FedEx Announcement to Stop Cigar Shipments Part of Stealth Attack on Tobacco

29 Sep 2015


Last week news broke that, starting in January, FedEx would no longer be shipping tobacco. The company cited the “complex regulatory environment” as part of the reason for its decision to cease shipments.

While consumers are unlikely to notice the change, since FedEx is used mostly by manufacturers and distributors to ship cigars to retailers, the change is part of a larger trend that is making it harder for legal businesses that sell tobacco products. (Currently, UPS and USPS are used for most consumer shipments of tobacco sales.)

But almost certainly the same “regulatory environment” that led FedEx to stop shipments will spread. FedEx faced a massive lawsuit from the state of New York for shipping untaxed cigarettes into the state even though the company has no way of knowing the contents of the millions of packages it transports every day. UPS is currently facing a similar lawsuit.

And the ability to ship products is only one way in which legal tobacco sales are under pressure. Tobacco retailers’ access to banking services, which are critical for running any business, are also under attack.

Starting in 2013, the Department of Justice began an initiative called Operation Choke Point with the goal of cutting off financial services to “high risk businesses” for fraud. But critics have said Choke Point has been used by the Justice Department to target many legal businesses deemed undesirable by the current administration.

Multiple cigar retailers have already been dropped by their credit card processors or banks, according to IPCPR. And a Department of Justice list, since taken down from its website, lists “tobacco sales” as one of the targeted businesses.

What makes these attacks so challenging is ultimately banks or shipping companies should be able to decide for themselves what types of businesses they want to do business with. But when activist attorneys general or Department of Justice officials are pressuring them, the result is regulation by fiat, without meaningful oversight or legislative authorization. While the cigar industry faces potentially devastating regulations from the FDA, those regulations are at least authorized by an act of Congress. That gives the industry the opportunity for input in the rulemaking process and the ability to challenge the regulations in court.

Policies like Operation Choke Point and pressure on shippers from lawsuits represent an entirely different challenge. Tobacco is a legal product in America, but there are many elected officials who don’t want it to be and they have initiated a stealth attack on cigars with the potential to be just as devastating as the formal regulations pending at the FDA.

Patrick S

photo credit: Washington Times

Cigar Review: Montecristo White Vintage Connecticut Double Corona

28 Sep 2015

Back in July, Altadis launched an extension of its longstanding Montecristo White line called the Montecristo White Vintage Connecticut. Unlike White, which boasts a Connecticut-seed wrapper grown in Ecuador, White Vintage Connecticut has a shade-grown wrapper from 2008 that was grown on Altadis’ own farms in Connecticut.

Vintage ConnecticutBut the differences between the blends don’t end there. Whereas White has a Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, White Vintage Connecticut has a Nicaraguan binder and a three-country filler blend of Dominican, Peruvian, and Nicaraguan tobaccos. Vintage Connecticut is also easily distinguished from its predecessor by two extra bands—one at the foot, and a large mid-section band with a picture of a red Connecticut tobacco barn. (These three bands combine to conceal the majority of the cigar’s surface.)

White Vintage Connecticut is made at Tabacalera de García in the Dominican Republic and offered in three sizes: No. 2 Belicoso (6 x 50), No. 3 (5.5 x 44), and Double Corona (6.25 x 50). Prices range from $10.50 to $14.50, which makes the line more expensive than White (which, at around $9-11 per cigar, was already considered to be on the pricier end by some consumers).

Once the mid-section and foot bands are removed from the Double Corona, the true beauty of the vintage Connecticut leaf is on full display. The exterior is silky, golden, and smooth with a few larger veins and some wrinkles at the seams. The pre-light notes, as expected, are faint with aromas of honey, hay, and sawdust. The cold draw is stiff at first, but opens right up with a little chewing at the foot.

After setting an even light, the initial profile greets you with flavors of cream, peanut, paper, butter, almond, and vanilla. The texture is bready and the aftertaste is short with moderate cedar spice. As you’d expect from Altadis and Montecristo, construction is perfect from beginning to end.

I’d wager the binder and filler recipe was concocted specifically to not overpower the 2008 Connecticut leaf, which is surely intended to be the showcase. As such, all the traditional Connecticut flavors come through with minimal interference. And that’s ultimately what keeps this cigar from reaching its potential. While it brings you the classic tastes you’d expect from Connecticut Shade—flavors you can get from many cigars for considerably less, mind you—it fails to really complement those flavors with complexity. Instead, you’re left with a cigar that tastes creamy and nutty at its best spots, but also papery and ultra-mild at its low points.

My recommendation? Pick up this cigar if you’re looking for a mild morning smoke to pair with coffee, want to taste a vintage Connecticut Shade leaf, and budget is not a major concern. In my book, the Montecristo White Vintage Connecticut Double Corona earns three stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys