Quick Smoke: Joya de Nicaragua Clásico Señorita

18 Apr 2019

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.”

To date, I’ve reviewed two cigars from the new Joya de Nicaragua Clásico series: Número 6 and Toro. Generally speaking, while I enjoy mild cigars and think they have a place in any proper cigar rotation, these vitolas scored just OK, both falling short in the flavor department. The smaller Señorita (5.5 x 34), however, seems to hit all the right notes. Its Cuban-seed Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, combined with Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos, yields a smooth, creamy profile that’s subtle and balanced yet tasty. Flavors include cream, white pepper, dry oak, and toasted nuts. So far, this is my favorite size in the line, which launched last summer.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Gurkha 125th Anniversary Rothchild

17 Apr 2019

While cigar companies are well-known for never missing an opportunity to commemorate an anniversary with a special cigar, not many companies can claim a milestone as old as 125 years. Gurkha, despite only being introduced in the U.S. in the mid-1990s, has a better claim than most.

The company’s 2012 125th Anniversary series was meant to celebrate the first association of Gurkha’s name with cigars, as opposed to the anniversary of the cigar company itself. It is made at the Tabacos Don Leoncio/PDR Factory in Tamboril (many of Gurkha’s recent offerings are made at this Dominican factory).

The cigar employs a dark, reddish-brown Brazilian Habano wrapper with some black discolorations but a consistent sheen. Beneath, it has an Ecuadorian binder and Nicaraguan and Dominican filler tobaccos.

I smoked four of the Rothchild size (6 x 54) for this review. This vitola retails for around $10 but, since it has been on the market for a few years now, you’ll be able to find it for significantly less online if you shop around.

The large toro features a complex mix of flavors: medium-roast coffee, toast, pine nuts, slight citrus, and clove. And while there are myriad flavors, the complexity is in the Rothchild’s depth, not its changes from start to finish (which are minimal).

It is medium-bodied with a long, leathery finish. Construction is excellent with an even burn and sturdy ash. (Though I did discard one additional sample that had cigar beetle holes beneath the band; fortunately, thanks to improved quality control industry-wide, this is a rarity these days.)

In certain circles, I think it’s safe to say Gurkha has amassed a reputation as a brand with more marketing skills than cigar-making chops. That said, the Gurkha 125th Anniversary rightfully is seen by many as a turning point. (It was also introduced shortly after the company brought in cigar veteran Gary Hyams to assist in establishing Gurkha in the premium cigar market, a space to which Gurkha has always aspired.)

Complex, well-constructed, and (now) priced around $6-8, this cigar offers good value. That earns the Gurkha 125th Anniversary Rothchild a rating of four out of five stogies.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Diesel Hair of the Dog

15 Apr 2019

The latest Diesel cigar is a single-vitola limited edition with a price tag that belies its quality. With more and more cigars moving toward the $20 and up range, it’s a pleasant surprise to find one this large and this good for only $10.

Hair of the Dog is a lightly pressed, toro-sized (6 x 54) smoke with a smooth, golden brown Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper around an Ecuadorian Habano binder and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos. Sweet hay dominates the pre-light notes.

While the cigar, overall, is in the medium-strength range, it begins with a strong pepper blast reminiscent of some of Don José “Pepin” Garcia’s early smokes. That tapers off after the first few puffs.

Other flavors along the way include cashew, white pepper, toast, a bit of cinnamon and, in the final third, a little licorice.

The cigar’s performance was tops in all respects. The burn was sharp and even, the ash held tight, smoke production was voluminous, and the draw exhibited just the right amount of resistance.

One small complaint: The paper bands, sporting the distinctive lower-case “d” that identifies the brand, were glued so tightly that removing them became quite a chore.

The cigars are rolled at A.J. Fernandez’s factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. The original Diesel was one of the cigars that helped Fernandez rise to prominence through its initial sales by online/catalog giant Cigars International. The line—and its availability—has been expanding. Last year, for example, saw the release of the Diesel Whiskey Row that incorporated tobacco aged in Rabbit Hole Bourbon barrels.

Hair of the Dog is a production with General Cigar (part of the same conglomerate that owns Cigars International) and that guarantees wide release, even with the limited-edition production ceiling.

The name is a bit hard to fathom. Using a phrase that commonly refers to having a day-after drink to ward off the effects of a hangover seems pretty far removed from tobacco. But in these days of odd monikers and trademark lawsuits, I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised by almost any cigar name.

If you see one, give it a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Hair of the Dog checks in at four out of five stogies.

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

George E & Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: La Flor Dominicana Coronado Toro

13 Apr 2019

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.”

I remember first smoking, and being very impressed by, La Flor Dominicana’s Coronado shortly after it debuted in 2006. Years later the cigar disappeared, only to be relaunched in 2015 with new bands and packaging. But Coronado’s basics, including Dominican binder and filler tobaccos around a Nicaraguan sun-grown wrapper, remain the same. The Toro starts out with an intense burst of leather and peppery spice, though it later settles into a medium-to full-bodied profile with bread, oak, and leathery spice.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Spirits: Wild Turkey 101 Straight Kentucky Rye

10 Apr 2019

A few years ago, I wrote about Wild Turkey’s 81 and Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Rye. At the time, I noted that “Wild Turkey also sells a 101-proof rye, but it’s limited in quantity, available only in certain states, and reportedly only comes in one-liter bottles.” Today we look at that offering.

The good news is, anecdotally at least, 101 Rye seems to be getting easier to find than it was only a few years ago when Wild Turkey announced it was limiting 101 Rye to certain states and only one-liter bottles. One of the changes in the shift to only one-liter bottles was an increased price, with bottles selling for around $40 each.

Wild Turkey uses a mashbill that just barely qualifies as rye (which needs to use a majority of rye) with 51% rye, 37% corn, and 12% malted barley. While this is a classic rye recipe, it is at odds with the high rye trend that has become increasingly popular, especially with the 95% rye recipe made by MGP Ingredients used by Bulleit, George Dickel, Angel’s Envy, Templeton, High West, Whistle Pig, and others.

Wild Turkey 101 is a deep copper color that features a nose of fudge, oak, vanilla, and red hot candies. The palate has honeysuckle, roast corn, light oak l, and clove spices. The finish is where you notice the high 101-proof, with a hint of bubble gum sweetness, menthol, cinnamon, and more oak tannins.

Wild Turkey 101’s one-liter bottle is designed to appeal to bartenders looking for rye for use in cocktails, and the rye surely is great in rye cocktails like the Manhattan, Sazerac, or Old Fashioned. However, don’t underestimate this rye neat (or, if you’re sensitive to high-proof whiskey, with a splash of water) as it is a lively, classic, complex rye, similar in many ways to Sazerac Rye, which costs about the same.

Pair it with a spicy cigar of any origin, with suggested pairings including El Güegüense, Illusione Original Documents, La Flor Dominicana Air Bender, or CAO Consigliere.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Tatuaje Nuevitas Jibaro No. 2

8 Apr 2019

Last year, Pete Johnson of Tatuaje re-introduced three cigars he had discontinued in 2007: Nuevitas, Nuevitas Jibaro No. 1, and Nuevitas Jibaro No 2. If you don’t recall them by name, perhaps you will remember them as the Tatuaje cigars not made by Don José “Pepin” Garcia.

Tatuaje is synonymous with Garcia and My Father Cigars. Today even more so, because the three cigars that used to be crafted at Tabacalera Tropical in Nicaragua are now handmade at the My Father Cigars S.A. factory in Estelí.

The trio features a Nicaraguan Corojo ’99 wrapper around Nicaraguan tobaccos. If not for the differences in the bands, you could be forgiven for confusing Nuevitas with Jibaro No 1.; but Johnson threw us a bone and made the former white with orange trim, and the latter orange with white trim. Jibaro No. 1 also has an exposed foot.

But while Nuevitas (5 x 52) and Jibaro No. 1 (5 x 54) are virtually the same size, Jibaro No. 2 is a toro-sized smoke (6 x 52). It sells for just under $10 for a single and also has an orange band and an unfinished foot.

Jibaro No. 2 is a moderately oily specimen with its fair share of thin veins and noticeable seams. The cold draw is smooth. The wrapper has a faint citrus aroma with some dry earth, but the foot is awash with hay and a sweet nuttiness.

After setting flame to the binder and filler, the cigar yields a spice-forward introductory profile with white pepper, black pepper, and cedar at the core. On the palate, the spice hits the tip of the tongue the hardest. Background notes of bread and warm tobacco add some depth, but the overall sensation is very dry and spicy.

If you allow the Jibaro No. 2 to rest between puffs, the smoke will cool and the spice will subside. What’s left, however, is a dry, papery taste that’s in need of… well, flavor. That flavor starts to build around the midway point with soft floral notes, citrus, and cinnamon. A smooth creaminess contributes complexity which, up to this point, had been frankly lacking. The spice recedes, and the texture is bready.

These changes are too little too late, though. They’re also short-lived. The final third is hot, harsh, spicy, and papery. While the physical properties are in line with what we’ve come to expect from My Father Cigars—including a solid ash, clear draw, straight burn, and good smoke production—the flavors simply aren’t up to par.

There are many, many wonderful Tatuaje cigars. Too many to cite here. But I’m sorry to report the Nuevitas Jibaro No. 2 leaves much to be desired. In my book, it earns a disappointing rating of two and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Caldwell Eastern Standard Euro Express

7 Apr 2019

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.”

One of the cigars that put Caldwell on the map, the original Eastern Standard blend features a Connecticut Ecuadorian wrapper that is a hybrid of Connecticut Shade and Brazilian Mata Fina. Underneath are filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic paired with a Domincan binder. The result is a medium-bodied blend with notes of earth, sweetened coffee, subtle spice, and light oak. The corona-sized Euro Express is an enjoyable smoke with integrated, complex flavors and excellent construction.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys