Cigar Review: Evil Genius White Chapel Robusto

30 Mar 2015

We’ll forgive you if you haven’t heard of Evil Genius Cigars until now. Evil Genius is a small, Pennsylvania-based operation that debuted only last summer. Its production is limited, and the retailers are few (mostly concentrated in the Keystone State).

White Chapel RobustoThat isn’t to say, of course, the cigars aren’t worth seeking out. I recently sat down with a couple Evil Genius White Chapel Robustos (5 x 50) to give this new, small-production smoke the fair chance it deserves. I’m glad I did.

Evil Genius has two lines, both made by La Aurora: Black Chapel and White Chapel. The former is a five-country blend with a Brazilian Maduro wrapper that’s aged in rum barrels to add sweetness. It’s billed as medium-bodied and full-flavored.

The White Chapel—perhaps unexpectedly given its less-than-imposing appearance—is fuller-bodied and medium in flavor. It has a Dominican Habano wrapper around a sun-grown Ecuadorian Sumatra binder and filler recipe that’s three-quarters Ligero and one-quarter Seco. (One of the Ligeros, by the way, is grown in Pennsylvania.)

There are four sizes available in each blend, ranging in price from $5 to $9.50: Belicoso, Gigante, Petit Corona, and Robusto. The White Chapel Robusto has a reddish Colorado hue with only thin veins and an oily, textured surface. The feel is moderately firm and the cap seems sloppily applied. Pre-light aromas include syrup, earth, and considerable sweetness.

As advertised, the strength of this cigar is palpable and apparent from the first puff. In addition to a hearty dose of nicotine, the initial profile is characterized by cedar, espresso, and both black and white pepper. The texture is dense and leathery, and the finish tends to linger with notes of warm tobacco and spice. Background flavors of molasses and cream help add balance.

At the midway point, some breadiness comes and goes, as do hints of peanut. The final third witnesses a slight increase in intensity but similar flavors. Throughout, the Robusto’s construction is impeccable. My samples exhibited straight burn lines, solid ashes, good smoke production, and draws with just the right amount of resistance.

To date, Evil Genius is sold at brick-and-mortar establishments only. That means you’ll need to visit or contact one of the 17 retailers who carry their smokes. If you do, I highly doubt you’ll be disappointed by the White Chapel Robusto. It’s a fine cigar at a reasonable price with ample strength to complement an after-dinner bourbon, rum, or scotch. It earns four stogies out of five.

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

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

Quick Smoke: Alec Bradley Connecticut Robusto

29 Mar 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.”alec-bradley-connecticut-sq

alec-bradley-connecticut-rob

Ever dig through the bottom of your humidor and find something you didn’t know was there? That’s how I came across this Alec Bradley Connecticut Robusto, featuring an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper around Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers. The cigar  boasts notes of hay, cream, paper, and cedar. It’s medium-bodied with a straightforward flavor profile and excellent construction. There’s a very slight bitterness that isn’t unusual for a Connecticut smoke. It’s the very definition of a solid, but not exceptional, cigar.

Verdict = Hold.

-Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Tatuaje Black Label Corona Gorda 2013

28 Mar 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.”

Tatuaje Black 2

Known as Pete Johnson’s personal blend, the Tatuaje Black Corona Gorda (5.6 x 46) was first sold in 19-count jars in 2007 and met with acclaim and enthusiasm. Then, in September 2013, Johnson re-released the Nicaraguan puro, which boasts a sun-grown Criollo wrapper and is handmade at My Father Cigars. I don’t believe I ever tried the 2007 edition, but I can attest the 2013 Tatuaje Black Corona Gorda is outstanding and well worth the $10 asking price (if you can find it). Flavors include citrus, red pepper, cocoa, and leather. It isn’t hard to understand why my colleague awarded this cigar a rare rating of five stogies out of five.

Verdict = Buy.

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 423

27 Mar 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.

Hoyo 1501) General Cigar has announced a new Hoyo de Monterrey line will be appearing at retailers starting in April. Called Edición de Cumpleaños 150, the blend includes a Habano shade-grown wrapper—the first ever grown in Estelí—around an Ecuadorian binder and a variety of Nicaraguan filler tobaccos. “The cigar is a study in contrasts, with a hearty, well-oiled leaf that burns to a strong, yet sweet smoke for an unparalleled taste experience,” according to a General Cigar press release. As the name suggests, Edición de Cumpleaños 150 celebrates the 150th anniversary of Hoyo de Monterrey. It will be offered in a single size (6 x 54) for $7.99 and packaged in 15-count boxes.

2) Drew Estate is rolling out new packaging for its Liga Privada Papas Fritas cigar (4.5 x 44) which will reduce the per-cigar price from $6.40 to $5.25. Papas Fritas will now be found in 50-count boxes instead of 4-count tins or 28-count boxes. “Papas Fritas has been a good choice for any Liga Privada fan looking for a short smoke,” said Drew Estate President Michael Cellucci in a press release. “We neede something for fans of Papas Fritas who already had plenty of tins and wanted a better value, so now we’re offering the cigar with no tin. The tins will now become a collector’s item and the Papas Fritas will be a little more budget-friendly. It’s a win-win.”

3) In last month’s “Question of the Month” (which admittedly ran significantly longer than a month), we asked how you feel about year-end best-of lists. “They inform some of my purchases” won with 51% of the vote. The other choices were “I read them only for entertainment” (26%), “I highly value these lists” (13%), and “They annoy me” (10%). Be sure to weigh in on this month’s question by voting in the sidebar to the right. And feel free to contact us if you’ve got a good suggestion for a future poll.

4) Inside the Industry: In April, Espinosa Cigars is introducing the Espinosa Especial. The new blend, which will come in three sizes, features a Mexican Capa Negra wrapper and around a binder and filler combination using tobacco from each of the four main cigar growing regions of Nicaragua: Estelí, Jalapa, Condega, and Ometepe.

5) Deal of the Week: Check out this five-cigar “plethora of flavors” sampler for $25 shipped. Included are the Partagas 1845 Double Corona, La Gloria Cubana Serie N Rojo, Affinity Belicoso, Four Kicks Robusto, and La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor Robusto.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: General Cigar

Cigar Review: Illusione ~eccj~ 20th Anniversary

26 Mar 2015

illusione-eccj-20Illusione has been on a roll lately. The recently released 2014 Singulare Anunnaki earned a rare five-stogie rating. It is the first Singulare that’s in the same class as the original 2010 Singulare, as good and possibly even better depending on how it ages. And the last new full line from Illusione, the Fume d’Amour, was another outstanding release.illusione-eccj-20-sq

In addition to both being good smokes, both the Anunnaki and Fume d’Amour fall in the mild- to medium-bodied range. For that reason, I was particularly interested to try Illusione’s ~eccj~ 20th Annicersary cigar.

The original ~eccj~ debuted in 2008 to celebrate the 15th Anniverary of the European Cigar Cult Journal magazine, now just called Cigar Journal. That cigar blend, which gained a bit of a cult following, would become the popular Epernay line.

So, naturally, when Illusione brand owner Dion Giolito announced a follow-up ~eccj~ would be coming, it was eagerly anticipated. The new ~eccj~ features a tweaked blend and a slightly larger size (6.5 x 48). Boxes of 15 sell for $195, or $13 per cigar.

Using 100% Nicaraguan tobacco, including a Café Rosado Corojo ’99 wrapper, the ~eccj~ 20th Anniversary features some sneaky strength. The flavors are a complex combination of roasted nuts, breadiness, light oak, leather, and cream.

The strength builds towards a solid-medium, bordering on medium-full as it progresses, though the flavors don’t change much. There is a slightly sour edge that particularly lingers on the finish.

While it’s an excellent cigar, it might suffer from the obvious comparison to other Illusione cigars. For my tastes, it isn’t as refined as the Epernay, Fume d’Amour, or the most recent Singulare. But don’t let that high bar fool you. With sneaky flavor, complexity, and good construction, plus the potential to get better with more age, the Illusione ~eccj~ 20th 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 EC XVIII The Industry

25 Mar 2015

At this point I can safely say RoMa Craft Tobac is on the short list of my favorite cigar makers in the world. Since RoMa Craft was put on my radar in 2011, I’ve really enjoyed smoking my way through the portfolio—including Intemperance, CroMagnon, Aquitaine, and some retailer-specific exclusives. I’ve also had the pleasure to tour Skip Martin’s small Nica Sueño factory in Estelí to see his scaled-down processes first-hand.

Intemperance The IndustryThere’s undoubtedly a romanticism associated with a small cigar operation that grew from the ashes of a Texas brick-and-mortar store that was decimated by Hurricane Ike in 2008. And it’s hard to not root for a company that began making cigars in one of its employees’ garages, using a shower to store bales of tobacco and working off borrowed molds and presses. But that’s not what makes RoMa Craft so special; RoMa Craft is special because it produces consistently awesome cigars at hard-to-beat prices.

The Intemperance series pays homage to the American movement that overthrew Prohibition (and reminds us to stay vigilant about cigar rights). It comes in two varieties. Intemperance EC XVIII features an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper (hence “EC”) around an Indonesian binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. There’s also an Intemperance BA XXI line that’s wrapped in a Brazilian Arapiraca leaf.

For Intemperance EC XVIII, there are five regular-production vitolas: The Charity (4 x 46), The Virtue (4.5 x 52), The Faith (5 x 50), The Brotherly Kindness (5 x 56), and The Industry (5.5 x 54). The latter retails for $7. It has a light, yellowish wrapper with thin veins, a few wrinkles, and pre-light aromas of sweet hay. Notably, the binder/filler protrude slightly from the foot which, Martin says, gives the smoker the brief chance to sample the blend without the wrapper before it quickly changes.

Before reaching the wrapper, The Industry is dry and woodsy with cedar spice, black pepper, and earth. Once the wrapper ignites, a creamy sweetness provides harmony and complexity. As the belicoso progresses, notes of vanilla, salty peanut, and honey come and go. The texture is bready and the body is mild to mild-medium. To its credit, I only find trace bitterness, even as my puffs become more frequent. But the wonderful creaminess of the profile really shines through only if you take your time.

I’ve never lit up a cigar from RoMa Craft that didn’t have excellent combustion qualities. This was no exception. Across the three samples I smoked for this review, all exhibited straight burn lines, solid white ashes, clear draws, and above-average smoke production.

The Intemperance BA XXI blend has to be my favorite from this manufacturer (I awarded the A.W.S. IV a rare five-stogie rating), but the EC XVIII The Industry is no slouch. It’s an affordable, high-quality, interesting Ecuadorian Connecticut-wrapped smoke that consistently delivers a solid experience. 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

Cigar Spirits: Lot No. 40 Canadian Rye Whiskey (2012 Release)

24 Mar 2015

Canadian whiskey has never been something I’ve spent much time seeking out. With a reputation for mild flavors, often the result of blending rye whiskey with largely flavorless grain whiskey, I’ve found it’s a bit lacking in the distinctive character I identify with with my favorite scotch and American whiskey.

Lot-40-canadian-ryeFortunately, Canadian whiskey makers have started to see the potential for selling more expressive offerings, many of which are in the same class as good Kentucky or Indiana straight rye. Three stealth Canadian ryes (they don’t play up their Canadian roots) are WhistlePig, Masterson’s, and Jefferson’s, each of which are 10 years old. Each sports a 100% rye mashbill. This is achieved by using the same unmalted rye that goes into all straight American rye, along with a percentage of malted rye, which is necessary for the distillation process.

The 86-proof Lot 40 is similarly a 100% rye (90% unmalted, 10% malted), although it doesn’t obscure the fact that this is Canadian rye. The brand was originally launched in the late 1990s but disappeared for a while until it was reintroduced a few years ago.

For a time it was hard to find in the U.S., but in the past year it has become more widely available. I was able to find a bottle at a Virginia state liquor store for just under $50.

The spirit features a bronze color and a lively nose with fresh bread, banana, anise, and maple. On the palate it has a syrupy intensity with oak, baking spices, fruit cake, and a little floral spice. The finish is subtle with more bread and muted fruit notes. The result is a complex, sophisticated Canadian rye that calls for a similarly complex, yet balanced, cigar. I’d recommend the following: Davidoff Colorado Claro, Illusione Epernay, or Paul Garmirian Gourmet.

I realize, for many bourbon drinkers, a Canadian whiskey is something your grandfather drinks or you mix with cola, not a spirit to be enjoyed neat. But this is a fine whiskey that rye fans should certainly pick up and try.

-Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys