Quick Smoke: Emilio Cigars Draig Cayuquero Toro

3 Dec 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.”

 emilio-toro-2

Before Gary Griffith retired from Emilio—a cigar outfit he founded in 2010 that grew to become a distributor of various boutiques under the House of Emilio umbrella—he introduced Draig Cayuquero. This four-vitola line is comprised of a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. The Toro (6 x 50) retails for about $12 and yields a medium-bodied, straightforward profile of dark cherry, leather, and musty earth notes. Hints of black pepper and cedar spice come and go, and the combustion properties are fine, though the draw can be a bit tight. I was hoping for more, especially in this price range. And I wasn’t terribly impressed with occasional waves of heat, harshness, and bitterness.

Verdict = Sell.

Patrick A

 

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 507

2 Dec 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.

nyc-public-housing

1) On Wednesday, a new federal rule was issued that criminalizes smoking in public housing residencies. “Officials with the Department of Housing and Urban Development said that the rule would take effect early next year, but that public housing agencies would have a year and a half to put smoke-free policies in place. The rule will affect more than 1.2 million households,” according to the New York Times. “The nationwide ban will have its greatest impact in New York, where the New York City Housing Authority—whose 178,000 apartments and more than 400,000 residents make it the largest public housing agency in the United States, has lagged behind many of its counterparts in adopting smoke-free policies. While HUD proposed the sweeping prohibition a year ago, it had been prodding public housing authorities to adopt such policies since 2009.”

2) General Cigar Co. announced on Monday that Alan Willner has left his post as vice president of marketing “to pursue other interests.” Willner had been with General since 2011. “I will provide day-to-day leadership of the marketing team,” said Régis Broersma, president, in a press release. “Change is always uncomfortable, but with this change I have great confidence in the team to drive the business forward. Our strategy and brands are strong, and we are well-positioned to take General Cigar to the next level. It’s time to release the company’s full potential.”

3) Inside the Industry: Gran Habano has released Los Tres Reyes Magos, a limited edition culebra coffin of three intertwined cigars (7 x 32) in the Gran Habano #1 (Connecticut Shade), #3 (Nicaraguan Habano), and #5 (Nicaraguan Corojo) blends. The coffins are packaged in boxes of 10 and available at retailers now.

4) From the Archives: Looking for some great cigars to start the new year? Let StogieGuys.com be your guide. Just click on the Reviews Archive at the top right of the screen and select Top Rated Cigars from the dropdown menu. You’ll be directed to an alphabetical list of all the  cigars we awarded a top rating since the site began more than ten years ago. And stay tuned for our upcoming list of the top-rated smokes of 2016.

5) Deal of the Week: StogieGuys.com recommends Bespoke Post, a monthly collection of awesome items delivered to your door. Past boxes include fine bar accessories, shaving kits, coffee, and more. You can skip or purchase every month. This month features an exclusive cigar offering from E.P. Carrillo, including previously unreleased cigars (along with an ashtray made with re-calimed wood, a cutter, and a smoke-eating candle) available only to Bespoke Post subscribers. Click here to sign up today.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Observer

Cigar Spirits: Old Bardstown and Old Bardstown Bottled-In-Bond Bourbon

30 Nov 2016

old-bardstown

One of the best attributes about bourbon—as opposed to, say, single malt scotch—has always been the value it can provide. Good bourbon doesn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg. Although, as its popularity has grown, there are those who would gladly charge you an arm and a leg for good (or not-so-good) bourbon.

Old Bardstown (90-proof) and Old Bardstown Bottled-in-Bond (100-proof), which cost $18 and $22 respectively, certainly have the potential to provide good value. While the Old Bardstown brand has been around for years in various forms, the bottles I’m sampling are relatively new varieties that are actually distilled at Willett’s distillery.

Willett has bottled many fine bourbons for years (including Willett Family Estate, Old Bardstown, Noah’s Mill, Johnny Drum, Rowan’s Creek, and others). But the distillery stopped distilling whiskey in the early 1980s and didn’t resume until January 2012. Prior to very recently, all of Willett’s bourbons were bought from other distilleries, even if they were aged and bottled at Willett.

The new bottles clearly state they are “distilled and bottled at the Willett distillery.” Given that Willett didn’t fire up its still until January 2012, we know both are barely over four years old (if it was less than four years, it would have to be disclosed). Beyond some Family Estate Rye and bourbon sold mostly through Willett’s gift shop, these are the first bottles to be sold from that Willett distillate. Currently, these bourbons are only for sale in the state of Kentucky. As production ramps up, though, I’d expect them to become available more widely.

The Old Bardstown Bourbon is a dark color for a relatively young bourbon and features a nose with maple sugar and damp cardboard. On the palate, the whiskey shows wood, toasted cereal grain, and malty sweetness. The finish is light with wood spice and eucalyptus.

Old Bardstown Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon features a nose of ethanol, mint, and rock sugar candy. On the palate is burnt corn, rubber, tea, and some bitter green wood. The finish shows even more tea and rubber along with some burnt sugar.

I was shocked to discover I greatly preferred the 90-proof version to the bottled-in-bond 100-proof version, but I can only speculate that the lower proof smooths over some of the rough edges that come from only four years in the barrel. In either format, Old Bardstown shows the promise of the new Willett distillate, especially after it spends a few more years aging. Right now, try it neat, but know that the price means you won’t feel guilty using it in a cocktail.

As for cigars, I’d recommend a full-bodied, earthy smoke to offset some of the unbalanced aspects of Old Bardstown. Specifically, smoke the Drew Estate Liga Privada Único Serie Velvet Rat, El Güegüense Robusto, Montecristo Sublime Edición Limitada 2008 (Cuban), Tatuaje Black, or Warped Futuro Selección Suprema.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Commentary: How Will Castro’s Death Impact Cigars?

28 Nov 2016

fidel

By now you most assuredly know that Fidel Castro—the communist revolutionary who overthrew Cuban President Fulgencio Batista via guerrilla warfare in 1959 and ruled the island nation as a totalitarian dictator until 2006, when he installed his brother at the helm—died on Friday, November 25. He was 90 years old.

Castro’s legacy will be a complicated one. The myriad narratives will be shaped by the biases of the authors who document his life, and by the millions of people who will either mourn or celebrate his demise. These threads of opinion will not abide national boundaries, either; consider that, even among Cubans themselves, there will be those who benefited from Castro’s socialist state, while others did not fare so well.

Those who lost their businesses, land, homes, and even family members will not remember El Presidente fondly. I don’t need to remind you that human rights violations were—and still are—not uncommon under the Castro regime. Consider the following summary of Fidel’s time in power, courtesy of the Washington Post: “It began with mass summary executions of Batista officials and soon progressed to internment of thousands of gay men and lesbians; systematic, block-by-block surveillance of the entire citizenry; repeated purges, complete with show trials and executions, of the ruling party; and punishment for dissident artists, writers, and journalists. Mr. Castro’s regime learned from the totalitarian patron he chose to offset the U.S. adversary—the Soviet Union, whose offensive nuclear missiles he welcomed, bringing the world to the brink of armageddon. Mr. Castro sponsored violent subversive movements in half a dozen Latin American countries and even in his dotage helped steer Venezuela to economic and political catastrophe through his patronage of Hugo Chávez.”

I have my own biases about Fidel Castro. While I do not harbor any personal connection to Cuba, I believe humans flourish in free societies, and the proper role of government is to be limited in power and scope, enabling individuals and businesses to interact with one another on voluntary terms. Cuba lies but 90 miles from America’s shores, yet it serves as a tragic example of the impacts of a politically and economically overarching government. You will not count me among those mourning Castro.

My opinion of the late dictator hardly matters, though. If you’re reading this, you might be wondering what Castro’s death means for your future ability to acquire Cuban cigars—or, perhaps more interestingly, if this event will somehow expedite the ability of non-Cuban cigar makers to start including Cuban tobacco in their blends (assuming this isn’t already happening under-the-radar). Crass as it may seem to think of cigars at a time like this, StogieGuys.com is, after all, a cigar website.

On one hand, perhaps not much will change. Fidel Castro hasn’t been officially running the country for a decade (his brother, Raúl Castro, was appointed presidential powers in 2006). And even though Congress is unlikely to change its tune on the longstanding embargo, recall that President Obama—via executive order—has made it legal to bring back cigars purchased in Cuba or elsewhere, as long as the cigars are for personal consumption. This was the latest step in the gradual progress of diplomatic normalization that also included the reestablishment of embassies in Havana and Washington.

That said, President-elect Trump made promises to reverse the wheels Obama set in motion. “The death of Fidel Castro is putting unexpected pressure on [Trump] to follow through on earlier promises,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “Mr. Trump’s top aides said Sunday that he would demand the release of political prisoners held in Cuba and push the government to allow more religious and economic freedoms. Reince Priebus, Mr. Trump’s incoming White House chief of staff, said the president-elect ‘absolutely’ would reverse Mr. Obama’s policies if he didn’t get what he wanted from Cuba.” Still, Trump “could face pushback from U.S. companies now deeply invested in Cuba under the current administration’s policy. Those companies include major airlines, hotel operators, and technology providers, while big U.S. phone carriers have signed roaming agreements on the island.”

Time will tell how the new administration in Washington reacts to the various competing interests related to Cuba. There are plenty of issues and conflicts at play, and cigars are unlikely to be top of the agenda. For now, what seems certain is that the people of Cuba will continue to live under a regime whose main business is the promulgation of extreme political and economic repression. There was a one-party, socialist state during Fidel Castro’s reign; there is a one-party, socialist state with his brother at the helm; and, barring a new revolution, there will likely be a one-party, socialist state long after the 85-year-old Raúl Castro is gone.

Patrick A

 

photo credit: Flickr

Quick Smoke: Tatuaje The Krueger

27 Nov 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.”

tatuaje-monster-krueger

The latest Tatuaje monster, Krueger (named after the Nightmare on Elm Street villain) uses a Mexican maduro wrapper with Nicaraguan tobaccos. The box-pressed torpedo (7 x 48) has flavors that include light wood, sweet cocoa, slight clove, and spice, all resulting in a powdery mouthfeel on the palate. I admit I’m not a big fan of this wrapper leaf, but I can always appreciate a well-made cigar. The Krueger fits the bill with medium- to full-bodied flavors, a woodsy profile, and excellent construction.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Intemperance EC XVIII The Industry

26 Nov 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.”

industry

I recently found myself at a cigar lounge on an empty stomach midday looking for something affordably priced with ample flavor that wouldn’t bowl me over. I settled on the Intemperance EC XVIII blend from RoMa Craft. The torpedo-sized The Industry (5.5 x 54) ran me about $8 (including ridiculous Chicago taxes). It hit the spot. Construction was impeccable, and the dry, woodsy, medium-bodied flavor of cedar, pepper, vanilla, and honey really hit the spot. This is an easy recommendation.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

 

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Happy Thanksgiving!

24 Nov 2016

Thanksgiving

StogieGuys.com will be taking November 24 and 25 off to enjoy that most American of holidays: Thanksgiving. (We will return on Saturday for our regularly scheduled coverage of the world of cigars.) Known for food, family, friends, and football, Thanksgiving is a perfect time to enjoy a fine smoke. Have a safe and happy holiday!

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr