Quick Smoke: Paul Garmirian Maduro Corona Grandes

18 Oct 2019

A couple times each week we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

The PG Maudro line sports a dark Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper around an Indonesian binder and filler tobaccos from Brazil and the Dominican Republic. The Corona Grandes (6.5 x 46) has a profile that’s both bold and smooth. The most prominent notes include cocoa, espresso, black pepper spice (which begins strong but fades into the midway point), and roasted peanuts. Construction is superb. At just shy of $13 ($320.80 for a box of 25), it is not an inexpensive smoke. But it’s also a complex, balanced treat that’s not likely to leave you unsatisfied.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Tips: Five Cold-Weather Drinks to Pair with Cigars

16 Oct 2019

Monday was Columbus Day, which means summer is in the rear-view mirror. With autumn’s arrival, temperatures will be dropping. And if you’re smoking cigars outdoors, you may be looking for a drink pairing that works with the season. Here are five suggestions:

Single Malt Scotch — It is exceedingly rare that I drink scotch when the temperature is warm, but this time of year I find myself pouring scotch to pair with a cigar more often. Depending on your taste, peaty scotch or sherried single malt whiskey both have unexplained warming qualities. Some of my favorites (Laphroaig PX Cask, Ardbeg Uigeadail) are actually both sherried and peated.

Hot Toddy — A classic that can be made with scotch (save the single malt, use a blend), bourbon, brandy, or even mezcal. It’s simple to make. Just add sugar, lemon, and cloves to boiling water and your spirit. Hot toddies pair well with Connecticut-wrapped, milder cigars.

Stonewall Jackson — An American classic consisting of hot cider and bourbon (but rye, Tennessee whiskey, or even spiced rum fill in nicely). As I’ve written before, it’s a late fall drink that pairs with stronger cigars, like the 601 Green or Fausto.

Hot Buttered Rum — Serially underrated (especially by those who have never tried it but think butter in a drink is just weird), hot buttered rum is a little more complicated to make than other hot cocktails. After you make it a few times, though, you’ll find it’s really not too difficult. Drink yours with a medium-bodied Honduran or Nicaraguan cigar, or anytime you are outdoors and it is snowing.

Coffee — Still a classic, coffee (in its many forms) is a perfect pairing for cigars. Coffee in the morning with a mild cigar is a great pairing, same for a Cuban coffee in the afternoon or evening. If you don’t want caffeine late at night give decaf a try. (My bias against decaf stopped me from drinking it for years, but lately I’ve found some excellent decaf roasts from a local coffee shop.)

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Tip: Turn Your Zippo into a Cigar Torch with a Zippo Butane Insert

14 Oct 2019

It’s well-known that a standard Zippo lighter uses lighter fluid as its fuel. It is also widely understood—among cigar enthusiasts, anyway—that lighter fluid is ill-suited for cigars. This is because, unlike butane, the preferred cigar ignition fuel, lighter fluid (naphtha) contains chemicals and odors that may alter the taste of your fine cigar. You should avoid it, much like you would avoid using a stovetop, a candle, or paper matches.

In order to modify a Zippo lighter for cigars, the first thing you’ll need is… well… a Zippo lighter. Mine comes courtesy of Zippo from the new Woodchuck USA collection. There are eight lighters in the series, each available in brushed chrome with wooden “emblems” on the front and back. Woodchuck has a “buy one plant one” policy, so each lighter sold contributes to the restoration of forests. Mine, a Compass that retails for $45.95, came with a “find your tree” code that can be entered at the Woodchuck website to see where my lighter’s corresponding tree was planted. In my case, it’s Villamatsa, Madagascar.

Inside the decorative Compass shell is a standard Zippo lighter fluid insert. Removing this is as easy as sliding it out of its chrome shell.

When it comes to replacing it, you have two options: a single-flame butane insert, and a double-flame. The former retails for $14.95, and the latter for $16.95. Both are metal, guaranteed for two years, and—once inserted—equipped with the familiar Zippo snap action.

Out of its package, the double-flame butane insert looks like this. It can be filled (and re-filled) with butane via a valve on the bottom, much the same way you’d fill any butane torch. This is also where you’d adjust the flame size with a small flathead screwdriver.

Installing the butane insert is, as you’ve probably guessed, just as easy as sliding it back into the shell. What you end up with is a stylish, simple, reliable, well-functioning torch. At $62.90 assembled (for the double torch, which is my personal preference) this definitely isn’t the cheapest way to light a cigar. But it’s got to be one of the sharpest. What’s more, and while I’m happy to report back later after I’ve used this for several months, I have every reason to believe this will be a reliable torch for many cigars to come.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

 

Quick Smoke: Villiger La Meridiana Toro

13 Oct 2019

A couple times each week we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Made at the La Joya de Nicaragua factory, this box-pressed toro features an oily, chestnut brown wrapper. The Nicaraguan puro features notes of cedar, pepper, orange peel and roasted nuts. With an even burn and sturdy ash, it’s well-constructed, medium-bodied smoke.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Emilio AF2 Robusto

11 Oct 2019

A couple times each week we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Back in the day, the AF2 line was made for Emilio Cigars owner Gary Griffith by A.J. Fernandez. Since this spring, though, the AF1 and AF2 have been crafted by Black Label Trading Co. (BLTC) at its Fabrica Oveja Negra factory in Estelí, each receiving a “makeover in appearance and flavor,” according to BLTC chief James Brown. In the case of the AF2, the Ecuadorian Habano wrapper envelops a Nicaraguan Habano binder and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos. The result is a wonderfully balanced cigar with notes of cinnamon, cedar, cocoa, and bready cereals. The finish concentrates spice on the tip of the tongue. At $9.50 for a single, the Robusto (5 x 50) is a satisfying treat.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Aquitaine Pestra Muierilor

9 Oct 2019

As the weather cools I find myself looking for smaller cigars to enjoy. Not cigarillos or mini machine-mades, but smaller format, handmade cigars that can be enjoyed in 30 minutes when the time is short and the weather is chilly.

When RoMa Craft Tobac burst onto the scene, the outfit favored large ring gauges; now RoMa has a portfolio of a variety of shapes and sizes. In 2015, RoMa introduced El Catador de las Petite Coronas, a sampler of their five primary blends, all in the petit corona format. Now each is available in its own 30-count box.

One example is the Aquitaine Pestra Muierilor (4 x 46). Like other Aquitaine vitolas, it features an Ecuadorian Habano Ligero wrapper, a Cameroon binder, and Nicaraguan filler consisting of tobaccos from Condega, Estelí, and Pueblo Nuevo. Boxes of 30 have a suggested retail price of $195, but I’ve seen them sell for under $140 (or under $5 per cigar).

The Pestra Muierilor features a chestnut brown wrapper with a little oily shine. Pre-light, notes include coffee, cocoa, and light spice. Once lit, you’ll find a full-bodied smoke with leather, toast, dry earth, and a combination of floral and fruit sweetness.

The cigar sports a peppery retrohale. The finish is long with dry chocolate, baking spices, and creamy notes. Construction is notably excellent, especially for such a compact format, with plenty of smoke production, an even draw, and a mostly even burn.

Pestra Muierilor is a sparkplug of a little smoke, full of flavor even if at times it seems to come at the expanse of balance. I think the depth of the Aquitaine blend is better showcased in larger formats, but that doesn’t mean the Pestra Muierilor isn’t a highly enjoyable 30-40 minute smoke. It earns a rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Intemperance Whiskey Rebellion 1794 Hamilton

8 Oct 2019

Nothing says “America!” quite like a tax protest, the most preeminent of which has to be the “no taxation without representation” movement that culminated in the Boston Tea Party. Whiskey is objectively better than tea, though; the 1790s insurrection against the so-called “whiskey tax” shouldn’t be overlooked.

Skip Martin of RoMa Craft Tobac is doing his part to draw cigar enthusiasts’ attention to the Whiskey Rebellion. You need look no further than a certain cigar in his Intemperance line—entirely fitting since Intemperance is an ode to everything the temperance movement was against (namely, booze).

The Intemperance Whiskey Rebellion 1794 cigar line debuted in 2016—approximately 222 years after the actual Whiskey Rebellion was squelched by President Washington. It was initially an exclusive for Famous Smoke Shop, which is headquartered in Easton, Pennsylvania (not far from the route Washington rode through Reading to Carlisle and back west through Womelsdorf to check in on the militia he sent to suppress the uprising).

Starting this summer, the Whiskey Rebellion cigar is no longer exclusive to Famous. It is available to retailers nationwide. It employs an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, an Indonesian Bezuki binder, and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

There are five sizes, each named for a major player in the rebellion. Hamilton (4 x 46, $6.15) is named for Alexander Hamilton, who believed an excise tax on whiskey would help the young nation pay for the Revolutionary War and draw public attention to the negative effects of alcohol. Jefferson (4.5 x 50, $7.10) is named for Thomas Jefferson, a prominent opponent of the tax. McFarlane (5 x 50, $7.35) is named for Major James McFarlane, the commander of the rebels who died in the conflict. Washington (5.5 x 54, $7.85) is obviously named for George Washington. And Bradford (5 x 56, $8) is named for David Bradford, a leader of the rebellion.

The Hamilton is a compact, handsome smoke with the familiar Intemperance band and a dark secondary band denoting the blend. As with other Intemperance lines, the exposed foot shows the binder and filler bunch for about a quarter inch past the wrapper. The cold draw is smooth.

The foot lights easily and immediately offers a unique opportunity to taste the binder/filler combo before the wrapper comes into play. To me, this part of the cigar is drier and spicier and less balanced than when the wrapper is lit—which stands up to reason.

Once fully operational, the Hamilton impacts a profile that’s medium-bodied, dry, and woodsy. Individual notes include cedar, oak, espresso, and thick molasses. The background sweetness has a character of warm natural tobacco. The texture is leathery and, at times, I can pick up a cherry sweetness. Across the three samples I smoked for this review, two had occasional burn issues that were easily corrected with a few torch touch-ups.

From light to nub, this cigar lasts about 45 minutes—which makes it a perfect way to satisfy an Intemperance craving without a significant time commitment. Call me a RoMa fanboy if you like, but this is another winner from Skip Martin, and a great sub-$7 smoke. In my book it’s worthy of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys