Quick Smoke: La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor Belicoso

30 Aug 2015

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

ladc-ma-belicoso

Even before Ashton transitioned its La Aroma de Cuba blend from Plasencia to Pepin, I felt the line was a bit under-appreciated. That feeling has only been strengthened by the subsequent additions to the line, including the Mi Amor, which uses a Mexican wrapper. The cigar produces thick, rich smoke with dark earth and chocolate flavors in abundance. It is medium- to full-bodied and is expertly constructed. Even as someone who, as a whole, isn’t a big fan of blends featuring Mexican wrappers, I find this to be a very enjoyable smoke.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

Quick Smoke: Avo Classic No. 2

29 Aug 2015

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

Avo Classic 2

Davidoff recently made some major changes to its Avo brand, including price reductions, price protections, new packaging, and the elimination of the Maduro and Signature lines. The Avo Classic line may look different, but the new iteration has the same Connecticut-seed, sun-grown Ecuadorian wrapper and Dominican binder and filler tobaccos. The toro-sized No. 2 (6 x 50, $9) features the familiar musty, mushroomy notes that are typical of Hendrik Kelner creations, along with white pepper spice, cream, and macadamia nut. Construction isn’t perfect—the spongy smoke has a meandering burn line and a flaky ash—but the balanced, interesting taste is more than enough to earn my recommendation.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

 

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 445

28 Aug 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.

Cuban Trade Embargo1) Fortune recently published an article about how a potential end to the trade embargo with Cuba might impact Cuban cigar prices. “Habanos… may be betting increased demand could drive up global prices on Cuban cigars in general. A sharp increase in purchases coming from the U.S. would be met by the country’s limited hand manufacturing capacity of about 150 million a year, which is about 1% of the world market. Basic economics and high demand for fixed supply could suggest rising prices.” On the other hand, “there is a question of whether Cuban cigars are as superior as memory and myth suggest. Experts often prefer them, but there can be quality control problems and some in the business say Cuban cigars are overrated. If that’s true, wider availability could actually hurt pricing.”

2) Please join us in congratulating Stephen S. from Woodbury, Connecticut, as the winner of our latest StogieGuys.com newsletter giveaway. Stephen has won a Boveda Acrylic Humidor along with some Boveda humidification packs simply for being registered for our newsletter. If you’d like to receive exclusive insights from the StogieGuys.com editors and be eligible to win future prizes, you can sign up for the free email newsletter here.

3) Inside the Industry: Paul Joyal’s Ocean State Cigars is adding a 4.25″ x 41 petit corona size to its J Grotto Silk line, which utilizes an Ecuadorian wrapper around dual Indonesian and Honduran-grown Criollo 98 binders and Honduran and Nicaraguan filler.

4) Deal of the Week: My Father cigar 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 ashtray in your choice of blue or red.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

First Smoke: PDR Flores y Rodriguez Connecticut Valley Reserve

27 Aug 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

fyr-cvr-robusto

At the Pinar del Rio booth this year at the IPCPR Trade Show, the focus was on this new super-premium offering. I’m a fan of Connecticut Broadleaf, so I’ve seen a lot of them, and in terms of dark, oily wrappers, few are as impressive as this seven-year-old wrapper. It surrounds dual binders from Nicaragua and Ecuador and filler consisting of Dominican Corojo and Nicaraguan Criollo. The cigar comes in four sizes (priced $16-19) and I smoked the Robusto (5 x 52).

The cigar starts off with slightly grassy notes, but soon settles into a more interesting combination of sourdough bread, light spice, and oak. It’s medium-bodied and well-balanced. Construction is excellent from the first draw to the final ash. Given the price, I wouldn’t rush out and buy a box of 15 when it is released later this fall. But fans of cigars with Connecticut Broadleaf wrappers shouldn’t hesitate to pick one up at their local shop.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Kilo Toro

26 Aug 2015

If you’re a regular consumer of online cigar media, you’re probably at least somewhat familiar with Barry Stein. He is highly active on social media, the founder (and former proprietor of) A Cigar Smoker, a former employee of Miami Cigar & Co., and a current employee of the New Hampshire-based Two Guys Smoke Shop, a chain of cigar retailers.

Kilo ToroBack in 2013, Stein created a new cigar brand called Kilo, which was made a La Aurora in the Dominican Republic (La Aurora is distributed by Miami Cigar, where Stein served as director of social media). Kilo was considered a test blend and marketed to cigar chops in New Mexico, Texas, and Maryland before it was discontinued when Stein and Miami Cigar parted ways in the spring of 2014. Miami Cigar allowed Stein to keep the Kilo trademark when he relocated to New Hampshire.

Kilo has been re-blended and is now available in nearly 50 cigar shops nationwide. Made at the Tabacalera Aromas de Jalapa factory in Nicaragua by Noel Rojas, owner of Guayacan Cigars, the new version of Kilo sports an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a Nicaraguan Corojo 2006 binder, and three-year-old filler tobaccos from Rojas’ farms in Nicaragua and Aganorsa.

Kilo is offered in two sizes: Robusto (5 x 50, $9) and Toro (6 x 52, $9.50). This newer iteration is easily distinguished from the 2013 test blend Kilo because the attractive band is black with accents of gold and white, instead of completely gold. The back of the band also has a United Cigars tab, which not only identifies the parent company, it makes removing the band refreshingly easy.

I sampled several Toros for this review. This vitola is a firm, handsome specimen with a nice triple-cap and an overall feel of quality. The foot exudes notes of baking spices, cocoa, and hay, and the head clips cleanly to reveal an easy cold draw.

After setting an even light, the initial profile is characterized by a vegetal taste that’s almost grassy with background notes of coffee, leather, and white pepper. Cream and caramel add balance. There’s loads of strength with little spice.

After a half-inch, the Toro picks up some spice and intensity. Still, the vegetal taste is front and center, rounded off now by earth, natural tobacco, and sugary sweetness. The physical properties are perfect throughout, including a solid ash, straight burn line, effortless draw, and voluminous smoke production.

I have to admit, Kilo is a tough cigar to review. I’ve met Barry Stein on a number of occasions, and he’s a likable character with a sincere passion for tobacco. Plus, let’s face it: It’s easy for me to root for a cigar blogger turned brand owner. Take my opinion for what it’s worth, but I honestly think Stein and Rojas did a fantastic job with this blend. It’s balanced, cool-burning, interesting, unique, and superbly constructed. While the centerpiece flavor that I’ve been calling “vegetal”—it’s a difficult sensation to describe accurately—may not be for everyone, it really strikes a chord with me, and it confirms my suspicions that a lot of careful thought went into this cigar’s makeup. As such, I feel confident awarding the Kilo Toro four and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Spirits: Old Ezra 101 7 Year Straight Kentucky Bourbon

25 Aug 2015

Want evidence of a bourbon boom? Look no further than network television. Both Fox and NBC have recently begun development of two dramas based on the industry.

old-ezra-101-7-year-bourbonIf you wanted to make the case for a bourbon bubble, this would be it. Bourbon is hot, there’s no doubt about it, but there are still some hidden gems. While the premium end of the market gets more expensive there are still some excellent values out there if you know where to look.

Old Ezra 101 7 Year fits that bill nicely. It’s available for $20, or even a few bucks less. It weighs in at a solid 101-proof and, unlike many value-oriented bourbons, it carries an age statement, which means all the bourbon in the bottle is at least seven years old.

The golden-hued bourbon features a straightforward nose with vanilla, bananas, and spice. On the palate is a pleasant combination of vanilla, rich oak, and rye spice. Think banana bread and wood spice. It’s surprisingly smooth for the proof, perhaps due to the charcoal filtering (like the process that Jack Daniels undergoes). The finish is pretty nondescript, but for just a Jackson I’m not going to complain.

The bottle isn’t dissimilar to Jack Daniels and I don’t think that’s an accident (Jack Daniels is, of course, the best-selling American whiskey). But it would be a mistake to write off Old Ezra 101 as a Jack Daniels knockoff, as it offers a richer, woodier flavor.

Pair it with any woody cigar and I don’t think you’ll be too disappointed. Here are some recommendations: Aging Room F55 Quattro, Arturo Fuente King T, Coronado by La Flor, El Cedro, and La Flor Dominicana Cameroon Cabinet.

Unfortunately, Old Ezra 101 7 Year can be a bit difficult to find because the distribution seems to be limited (not because of excess demand). Still, bourbon fans in general, especially those on a budget, should definitely seek out this tasty bourbon value.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Partagas Aniversario Robusto

24 Aug 2015

If there are any unwritten, hard-and-fast rules in the cigar industry, one must surely be to never let an anniversary go unnoticed. Be it a cigar maker’s birthday, the anniversary of the founding of a brand, or any other milestone imaginable, you can bet any significant date will be commemorated with a cigar—usually a limited edition super-premium.

Partagas AniversarioSince 2015 is the 170th anniversary of Partagas—which is among the oldest extant brands in the industry—it was no surprise to see the good folks at General Cigar unveiling a commemorative smoke with a considerable price tag. The Partagas Aniversario, as it is called, was prominently and proudly on display at the General booth at the premium cigar trade show in New Orleans in July.

Expected to hit retailer shelves this fall, Aniversario sports a proprietary Cameroon wrapper grown specifically for General, plus a Connecticut binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Three sizes will be sold in 10-count boxes with prices ranging from $15.99 to $17.99 per cigar: Robusto (5 x 50), Toro (6 x 54), and Salomone (7.25 x 54).

When you think Cameroon wrapper, you’re likely not expecting anything as dark as the wrapper leaf on Aniversario. It almost looks like a grayish, muted maduro. The surface is oily with a complex network of thin veins and plenty of tooth. The pre-light notes remind me of damp wood and milk chocolate, and the triple-cap clips cleanly to reveal an easy cold draw despite the tight cross-section of filler tobaccos visible at the foot.

Once lit, the Robusto exhibits a medium-bodied profile of cedar spice, black coffee with sugar, cinnamon, and a little black pepper. The flavor is well-rounded and harmonious and, on the aftertaste, there’s a sharp concentration of spice on the tip of the tongue. So, yes, if you’re a fan of Cameroon-wrapped cigars, you’ll find all the expected elements here, including cedar and sweetness with an approachable level of strength.

As far as the physical properties are concerned, the white ash holds incredibly well, the draw has just the slightest resistance, the burn line is straight, and the smoke production is average. In other words, everything is in line with what I’ve come to expect from General Cigar.

I’ve long been a fan of Cameroon cigars and am of the opinion the wrapper leaf is underrepresented in the marketplace and underappreciated. The Partagas Aniversario is a good example of a well-built, tasty Cameroon. That said, I’m unconvinced it’s so significantly better than some of its competition that sells for a fraction of the price. All told, I’m settling on an admirable score of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys