Commentary: Random Thoughts from the Humidor (XXVI)

24 Sep 2018

In this edition of Random Thoughts from the Humidor, I ask for your input on future cigar reviews and lament house guests who don’t finish their cigars.

What Cigars Should I Write About?

I’m in a bit of a cigar funk these days. My stash is running lower than usual and, among the cigars that still reside in one of my five humidors, we’ve already written about pretty much all of them. So that begs the question: Should I buy a bunch of “new” cigars and focus on those (that’s pretty much what I have been doing since we founded this site in May 2006; I’m just falling behind lately)? Or should I start to revisit cigars we reviewed (in some cases) years ago to provide an update and an aging report? Perhaps the best strategy is a bit of both. But I figured I’d throw the question out to you, especially since the cigar blogger space is more cluttered than ever. What do you want to see reviewed?

Let Me Follow Up on That Question…

While you’re thinking on the subject, I’ve always wondered: Do you care about reviews of cigars that are no longer in production (I’ve got a ton of those on hand)? What about super-limited cigars, or exclusives? For example, take the cigars I receive each year as a member of Tatuaje’s Saints & Sinners club. The only way to get these cigars is to belong to the small, members-only club. Either you do, or you don’t. On one hand, I could see some people being interested in what’s out there, even if it’s unlikely they’ll ever get their hands on it. On the other, many people could consider the review a vain act of futility. What’s your take?

What A Cigar Review Isn’t

These words written by my colleague nearly a decade ago still ring true, and I think they’re appropriate to recall as we think about reviews: “These days there are no shortages of cigar reviews online. Seems everyone has an opinion and wants to share. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But before you read every cigar review out there and take each as gospel, let’s keep in mind what a review is… and, just as importantly, let’s keep in mind what a review isn’t. First off, a review can only be as good as the limited inputs that created it. That means whatever review you’re reading is first and foremost limited by two important factors: the reviewer, and the cigars sampled.” You can read the rest of this piece from 2010 here.

And Now for Something Completely Different

Chances are, if you visit my home, you’ll be offered a cigar. My guests are almost never as into cigars as I am, and that’s perfectly fine. I am happy to share nonetheless and, despite my relatively depleted stash, almost certainly have a good cigar for the individual and timeframe in question. This is all well and good. What irks me, however, is when a guest will request (and receive) a top-notch cigar and then proceed to not even smoke half of it. If your time is short, or if you want a smaller smoke, please tell me in advance so I can help you select the best fit for your situation. I feel like this should be common courtesy. Aside from this pet peeve, let me know if you’re in the vicinity of Oak Park, Illinois, and want to stop by for a smoke and/or a bourbon. My front porch is a wonderful place to relax, and cigars are best enjoyed in good company–whether I’m writing about them or not.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Casa Fernandez Arsenio Corojo Robusto Grande

23 Sep 2018

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.”MF-La-Antiguedad-cg-sq

 casa-fernendez-arsenio-corojo

I’m increasingly a fan of of this affordable (around $5 each) offering from Casa Fernandez. (Interestingly, the bands have changed from Nicaragua to Miami, so presumably it is being rolled in Miami now, which makes the price even more impressive.) The Nicaraguan puro, made completely from highly regarded Aganorsa tobacco, features a well-balanced combination of coffee and light cedar. It’s medium-bodied and produces plenty of thick, powdery smoke. Construction is excellent.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Black Label Trading Company NBK

21 Sep 2018

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.”

Right off the bat, the Ecuador Habano Oscuro-wrapped NBK (6 x 46) greets me with a strong, bold profile of espresso, warm tobacco, roasted nuts, and black pepper spice. Just as I think I have the cigar figured out, though, it eases back a bit, and the powdery smoke cools. Still, the soft box-pressed NBK packs plenty of punch through to the end as secondary notes of cocoa add complexity. With excellent construction and a $9 price tag, this creation from Black Label Trading Company has a lot going for it.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Diesel Whiskey Row Robusto

19 Sep 2018

The prolific A.J. Fernandez made headlines with his collaborations lately, including with General Cigar’s Hoyo de Monterrey line. Largely unnoticed, however, is that A.J. Fernandez and General Cigar had been affiliated (albeit indirectly) for many years through A.J. Fernandez-made private label brands, including Diesel.

Diesel was originally a private label made for Cigars International (and its portfolio of sites, including Cigar.com and CigarBid.com) starting in 2009. Cigars International was purchased by then General Cigar parent company Swedish Match in 2007. Eventually, Swedish Match merged its pipe and cigar businesses with Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG), putting General Cigar and Cigars International under the same umbrella, even after Swedish Match sold off its share in the company.

Those close connections explain the integration of some Diesel lines with General Cigar, something that started in ernest last year with Diesel Grind. That was followed up earlier this year by Diesel Whiskey Row, which uses binder tobacco aged in bourbon barrels that previously held Rabbit Hole Bourbon.

In addition to the bourbon barrel-aged Mexican San Andrés binder, Diesel Whiskey row uses a three-region blend of Nicaraguan tobaccos from Ometepe, Condega, and Jalapa, each aged five to eight years. Surrounding it all is an attractive, reddish-brown, five-year-old Ecuadorian Habano wrapper.

The three Robustos ($7.50) I smoked had rich pre-light aromas featuring wood and earth but, notably, little that is distinctly bourbon-y. That would be a theme throughout the cigar which, despite its full-bodied flavors, doesn’t showcase the bourbon barrel-aged tobaccos as much as you might expect.

Leather notes dominate and combine with white pepper, oak, and black coffee. The finish is long with tannic leather notes. From start to finish, the leather creates a slightly unbalanced element to the cigar’s full-bodied cigars.

I didn’t have any Rabbit Hole Bourbon (it isn’t sold in Virginia where I live), but I did have an excellent Four Rose Private Selection that paired well with Diesel Whiskey Row. It may have limited bourbon notes, but the Diesel Whiskey Row Robusto earns a rating of 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 de Nicaragua Clásico Número 6

17 Sep 2018

Back in June, Joya de Nicaragua announced the reintroduction of the Clásico line to the U.S. market. The move to bring back “the first Nicaraguan cigar ever” seems fitting at a time when the company is celebrating its golden anniversary.

“Clásico goes back to America at a moment when we have reached the highest quality standards at the factory in our 50-year history,” said Mario Perez, sales director for Joya de Nicaragua. “But we kept the same blend that the founders of the company created, the blend that once captivated world leaders when it was the official cigar of the White House back in the 70s.”

In a departure from the powerful smokes for which the company is known, Joya is marketing Clásico as “mild” and “creamy.” The recipe remains the same as it did decades ago. The wrapper is Cuban-seed Ecuadorian Connecticut, and the binder and filler tobaccos are, of course, Nicaraguan.

There are a whopping twelve formats, so there’s a size here for everyone. The Toro may have been the first Clásico I tried (and also reviewed), but the thin Número 6 (6 x 41, $6.50) is the most appealing to me in terms of dimensions. I tend to gravitate towards narrower ring gauges, whenever possible, and six inches long seems just about perfect in terms of smoking time.

Like the Toro, Número 6 has a traditional, understated, and—in my opinion—beautiful band that nicely highlights the golden color of the smooth, buttery wrapper. At the foot, I find bright, crisp pre-light notes of sweet hay. The cold draw is smooth, especially for such a thin cigar.

The initial profile is salty and abrasive. Fortunately, after just a couple puffs, things settle down nicely. Individual flavors include creamy butter, warm tobacco, and raw almond. There’s also a green freshness that’s hard to put my finger on. The mild- to medium-bodied cigar has a bready texture.

The Número 6 mostly remains this way until the end, save for the occasional additions of tastes like clove, café-au-lait, and white pepper. Along the way, the physical properties are mostly admirable. I found a straight burn line, smooth draw, and good smoke production. On the downside, the ash is very flaky and prone to fall off prematurely, and the burn requires a few re-lights along the way to stay burning.

As I wrote of the Toro, I enjoy mild cigars. But mild cigars need to have flavor. The Clásico Toro has flavor. At times it shines, and at times it falls a little short. All told, I think the most appropriate rating is three stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Curivari Buenaventura BV 600

16 Sep 2018

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.”

Cigars in the Buenaventura line from Curivari have gotten multiple high marks from StogieGuys.com, including the BV 550 (pictured). This big stick—a lightly box-pressed gordo (6 x 60) Nicaraguan puro—is another one well worth checking out. It’s a bargain smoke. I paid a little over $6 for a single, and you’ll find them online for close to $5 each by the box of ten. It is medium in strength with a smooth combination of a little spice, a little cedar, and a little pepper. I’d say the BV 600 is an ideal candidate for that second cigar to get you through the final half of a football game.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: La Sirena The Prince

14 Sep 2018

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.”

La Sirena The Prince

I don’t typically remove a cigar’s band before lighting up, but you pretty much have to with The Prince from La Sirena, as the nautical-themed band covers about half of the surface of the robusto (5 x 50). Once lit, the Nicaraguan puro delivers a full-bodied flavor-blast of black pepper and leather. Shortly thereafter, the tobaccos—a Habano Oscuro wrapper, Criollo binder, and filler leaves from Jalapa and Condega—mellow a bit until they settle into a profile that’s strong and rich with heavy notes of char, roasted nuts, oak, and baking spices. Construction is solid. This is a different blend than the Broadleaf-wrapped one launched in 2010 that was made at My Father Cigars for Miami Cigar & Co. Now made at Erik Espinosa’s La Zona factory in Estelí, it’s a solid choice if you’re craving something strong, and it’s a good buy for around $8.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys