Quick Smoke: Padrón 2000 Natural

16 Nov 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.”

If you’re looking for classic flavors, reliability, and great bang-for-the-buck value, it’s hard to beat the so-called “Thousands Series” from Padrón. The robusto-sized 2000 Natural (5 x 50) can be found for around $6. That’s a very fair price for a well-constructed cigar with fine medium-bodied flavors of espresso, dark chocolate, dry wood, black pepper, peanut, and raisin. Before firing this one up, I hadn’t smoked the Padrón 2000 Natural in years. I was glad to be reunited.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Davidoff Yamasá Robusto

14 Nov 2018

As one of Davidoff’s black band bunch, Yamasá is immediately identifiable as being outside the company’s typical profile. A bit bolder. A bit more intense. A bit more power.

Yamasá highlights a tobacco that celebrates what Davidoff calls “Master Blender Henke Kelner’s impossible dream to turn the unforgiving swampland of the Yamasá region into a successful tobacco-growing field.” It makes for a smooth wrapper and is also used for the binder. The filler is a combination of Nicaraguan and Dominican leaves.

But it was the Yamasá tobacco that piqued my interest. It was featured in Davidoff’s now-discontinued Puro d’Oro line, one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I smoked a five-pack of the Yamasá Robustos (5 x 50) and, not surprisingly, found them remarkably consistent. Each of the started a little harsh but quickly smoothed out after only a couple puffs.

And that’s when the cigar began to come into its own. I quickly picked up notes of leather, nuts, and coffee with cream during the first third or so. Then the leather and nuts receded as the creamy coffee came on stronger.

At the halfway point, I noticed that typical Davidoff earthy mushroom flavor, which dissipated fairly quickly. Another flavor soon made itself known: a tangy citrus note. It stayed throughout the remainder of the smoke, creating a nice contrast with the coffee and cream.

As you’d expect, construction was excellent, as were the burn and draw. The Yamasá also produced rich, thick smoke.

The line has five vitolas, ranging from a behemoth (6 x 60) to a petit Churchill (4 x 48). MSRP on the Robusto is $19.70.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Yamasá experience, and I would recommend it to any experienced cigar smoker. For me, the Davidoff Yamasá Robusto rates four stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: Davidoff / Stogie Guys

Commentary: Random Thoughts from the Humidor (XXVII)

12 Nov 2018

In this edition of our Random Thoughts from the Humidor series, I fear the immortal words of House Stark: “Winter is coming.”

Find Yourself a Winter Sanctuary

For those of us who live in the northern half of the U.S., winter can be a crummy time to be a cigar enthusiast. The cold, arid air makes humidor maintenance more difficult. And, with a lack of indoor smoking sanctuaries thanks to government-imposed bans, we’re often forced into the frosty outdoors if we want to enjoy a premium cigar. Back in 2011, when I still lived in a condo in the city, had no kids, and was the proud owner of a cigar-friendly den, getting through the winter wasn’t so tough. I had my space. Now, despite being out in the suburbs with more space, there’s no room for an indoor cigar sanctuary; I’ve got three kids (which means I also have precious little time), the youngest of which arrived a mere two weeks ago. I’m on the hunt for a warm cigar space for the winter. Perhaps I’ll try to find a way to get some heat out in the garage without sending the whole thing up in flames. Wish me luck. And hit me up if you have any ideas. (Also: Where are you, cigar lounges?)

Don’t Save Your Best for the Firepit

Here in Chicago, my backyard firepit simply won’t get the job done as a warm cigar sanctuary for the winter. It gets too damn cold, especially at night (typically, the only time I can smoke nowadays is when all three kids and the wife are asleep). The firepit is great on a chilly fall night; when it’s below freezing, however, it just doesn’t kick off enough heat to be comfortable for the requisite 90-120 min. for a cigar. And there’s another problem: The fire obviously emits a lot of smoke and aroma. I find this detracts from a fine cigar, which is why I typically don’t bust out my best when there’s a fire involved. And I certainly wouldn’t ever review a cigar around a fire.

Keep an Eye on Your Humidor(s)

Back indoors, where your cigars are stored, start to pay closer attention to the humidity level of your humidor(s). It’s harder to keep humidity up in the winter—including inside your home. If, like me, you use Boveda packs, check to see if they need to be swapped out (or, as some of you are wont to do, recharged). Boveda’s Smart Sensor is a tech-savvy way to ensure proper monitoring and piece of mind. If you rely on more traditional methods and hygrometers, ensure these notoriously finicky instruments of measurement are properly calibrated. November is a great month to perform the salt calibration test.

Give the Gift of Cigars

Winter is synonymous with the holidays. If you have a cigar enthusiast or two on your list, I have a few tips for you. First, only give a box if you’re sure the recipient loves that cigar and size. Some cigar enthusiasts are completely loyal to one brand or one specific blend. If this is the case, you can’t do wrong by buying a box he or she is sure to love. Second, keep in mind that samplers offer good variety, and good samplers also offer value. You might also consider cigar accessories, or giving the gift of cigar rights. More on this topic can be found here.

Stay warm out there!

Patrick A

photo credit: Flickr

Quick Smoke: San Cristobal Clasico

10 Nov 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.”

san-cristobal-clasico

Sometimes I find the cigars I enjoy the most are the cigars I’ve enjoyed in the past and have neglected for too long. For me, the San Cristobal original line surely qualifies. The cigar features everything I enjoy about Don José “Pepín” Garcia’s blends: rich earth flavors, spice, intensity, and also balance. Specifically, this robusto demonstrates a medium-full body and flavors that include oak, milk chocolate, black pepper, and a hint of coffee. With excellent construction, it will make for an enjoyable hour almost any time of day.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Spirits: Papa’s Pilar Bourbon Barrel Finished Dark Rum

8 Nov 2018

Scotch whiskey has long utilized barrel maturation in casks formerly used to age bourbon, sherry, and other types of wine to add complexity and additional flavors to the finished spirit. More recently, other whiskies have gotten in on the cask finishing game, especially bourbon. Consider Angel’s Envy, Belle Meade, 1792, and Issac Bowman, all of which are finished in port barrel casks after a period of traditional aging in new charred barrels.

But whiskey isn’t the only spirit to leverage cask finishes. Rum has been getting into the game, too, including (but hardly limited to) various Foursquare and Papa’s Pilar offerings.

Today we’re trying a new limited offering from Papa’s Pilar Rum. (The brand is named after the boat owned by noted rum enthusiast Ernest Hemingway.) Papa’s Pilar Dark is an 86-proof combination of “solera blended” rums (sourced from Florida, the Caribbean, and Central America) aged up to 24 years and finished in Spanish sherry casks.

The new limited Papa’s Pilar Bourbon Barrel Finished Dark Rum amps that up with an additional round of finishing in bourbon barrels. Bottled at 95-proof, the $45 rum began arriving in select states in October with 2,000 cases made.

The deep mahogany, reddish-brown rum features a fascinatingly unique nose with vanilla bean, custard, nutmeg, figs, and Dr. Pepper. On the palate, the bourbon influence is evident, with oak, honey, candied almonds, and dry sherry. The finish is long with wood tannins and spice cake.

Distinct is the word that most comes to mind when sipping this rum neat. It’s a testament to the art that is blending and barrel management, resulting in a rum that might not be a regular sipper, but certainly is enjoyable as a unique change of pace.

Pair it with a medium-bodied, balanced cigar like the Arturo Fuente King T Rosado Sun Grown, Bolivar Royal Corona, Illusione Epernay, or Paul Garmirian Reserva Exclusiva.

Patrick S

photo credits: Stogie Guys

Cigar Tip: Cigars on a Plane

6 Nov 2018

travel-cigar

If you’re reading this and will be traveling for vacation or work, you’ll probably want to take some cigars, especially since traveling may mean a lack of access to cigars (or a lack of access to the authentic cigars you want to smoke).

And even if you think you’ll pick up some cigars on your trip, bringing a few along for the ride is probably a good idea. So here are some tips to make your air travel with cigars smoother.

Protect Your Cigars

Plane travel can be a traumatic experience for cigars, between the pressurized air and the fact that your bag is probably going to be forcibly jammed in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you. (Don’t check your cigars, as the cargo hold of the plane can have some pretty extreme temperature changes that can do serious damage.) The natural solution is a hard plastic cigar case like those made by Xikar or Cigar Caddy. Each comes in anywhere from a five to fifteen-count, or sometimes more.

If you don’t have a case, or if you can’t fit all the cigars you want to bring in the case you have, a sealed Ziplock bag will do fine. But you’ll want to put the bag in a hard tube or box to make sure they don’t get crushed. If you are traveling for more than few days, throw a small Boveda pack in with your cigars to help stabilize and maintain proper humidity.

Bring a Lighter, Avoid Confiscation

Torch lighters are great, but the TSA will take them from your carry-on or checked luggage. Trust me on this. I’ve accidentally left them in my bag and had them confiscated. But you can bring a soft flame lighter in your carry-on. You can also bring a single box of matches. So I like to stuff one box of wooden matches to the brim as a backup. (Or, more likely, one in each of my carry-on luggage pieces.)

My go-to soft flame lighter is the Djeep, which is dependable and has decent capacity. It’s also cheap, so if some ornery TSA agent on a power-trip takes it you won’t be too upset. (Every year or two I buy a 24-pack.) If you really want a torch lighter, you might consider a Soto Pocket Torch, which can convert a regular cheap lighter into a torch. But bring the lighter in your carry-on and leave the Soto in your checked bag to make sure it isn’t confiscated.

Also, for all lighters and matches, know that other countries might have different rules. (Nicaragua, of all places, is known for taking all lighters when you depart from Managua. On the other hand, I’ve brought Ronson JetLite torches through U.S. TSA security multiple times.) So no matter what you bring, make sure it is something that, if push comes to shove, you won’t feel too bad about leaving behind.

Don’t Forget a Cutter

Bringing most cutters on a plane shouldn’t be a problem (according to the TSA, blades smaller than four inches are good to carry on), but you never know how the rules are going to be enforced. So fancy cutters, if you must bring them, should go in checked luggage.

Travel is the perfect time to bring along that cheap cutter you got as a throw-in. And remember: If all else fails, you can always cut your cigar with your fingernail; just don’t use your teeth.

Be Weary of Fake Cubans

Traveling overseas means you’ll probably have access to cigars from that island south of Miami, but don’t assume you’ll easily be able to find legitimate Cuban cigars. For years, Americans have been buying and smoking Cubans overseas, even though this practice violated the Cuban embargo. Now, with restrictions being eased, it is perfectly legal for an American to smoke a Cuban cigar while abroad.

Fake Cuban cigars are everywhere, especially at vacation spots visited frequently by Americans (the Caribbean and Central and South America, especially). The best way to ensure you are buying authentic Cubans is to shop at an official Casa del Habano. Beyond that, here are two easy tips to avoid the most obvious fakes: (1) If the price is too good to be true it is certainly fake, as prices are fixed and nobody’s relative or friend is getting them at a discount straight from the factory; and (2) There has never been any Cuban cigar made with a glass or plastic top box. (I still see pictures of glass top Cohiba boxes in cigar groups on Facebook, only for a dozen or more people to tell the poster the unfortunate news that they were swindled. Repeat after me: All Cuban cigars in a glass top box are fake.)

Carry on Some Booze

Unless you are heading to a country that doesn’t allow alcohol (like Saudi Arabia or Iran), there is nothing wrong with putting a bottle or three in your checked bag. But what is often overlooked is that you can actually carry on booze in small amounts.

When carrying on, alcohol is subject to the same rules as other liquids, meaning no container more than 3.4 ounces and all liquids must fit in a one-quart sized bag. Mini bottles (usually 50 ml.) are well under that limit, and you can fit five or six in one Ziplock. (You can even fill your own 2 oz. sample bottles if you want to bring something special.) If you are planning on cracking these open on the plane, know that most airlines have a rule against alcohol not served by the flight attendants.

Patrick S

photo credits: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Davidoff Escurio Petit Robusto

4 Nov 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.”

escurio

Davidoff is as inextricably linked to the Dominican Republic as it is to super-premium luxury and high prices. In recent years, however, the brand—crafted by industry legend Hendrik “Henke” Kelner—has ventured to other soils, namely Nicaragua and Brazil. In 2015, Davidoff launched the Brazilian-themed Escurio, which boasts an Ecuadorian Habano-seed wrapper, Brazilian Cubra binder, and a filler blend that includes Mata Fina and Cubra tobaccos paired with Dominican leaves. The Petit Robusto (3.25 x 50) retails for about $8 and is notable for its short-format, condensed delivery of a spicy, complex profile that includes black pepper, espresso, natural tobacco, oak, and earthy mustiness. Construction is absolutely perfect and the smoke production is voluminous and rich. It’s a delicious, intense indulgence that won’t leave you disappointed.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys