Quick Smoke: La Palina No. 1 Robusto

25 Aug 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.”

No. 1 is a four-country blend: Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, Costa Rican binder, and Nicaraguan and Honduran filler tobaccos. The $9 robusto is well-constructed with a even burn, easy draw and sturdy ash. It features a medium-bodied, well-balanced combination of leather, pepper, oak and cream. Pleasant though hardly overwhelming, you’re unlikely to be disappointed by the La Palina No. 1 Robusto.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Avo Classic No. 2

23 Aug 2019

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

The Avo Classic line sports a Connecticut-seed, sun-grown Ecuadorian wrapper around Dominican binder and filler tobaccos. The toro-sized No. 2 (6 x 50, $10) 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


Cigar Spirits: Probitas Rum

21 Aug 2019

Collaborations between cigar makers are a common way to get consumer attention. If you are a fan of one of the collaborators, you might be turned onto the second brand. If you already like both, the joint effort becomes a must-try new cigar.

Such collaborations aren’t as common in the spirits industry. But that’s the case with Probitas, which is a blend of rums from Foursquare in Barbados and Hampden in Jamaica, blended together by Richard Seale of Foursquare.

The white rum (which sells for around $35 a bottle) sells under the name “Veritas” outside the U.S., presumably due to trademark issues. It is an unusual combination of “coffey column” still rum (from Foursquare) and “double retort pot still” (from Hampden). The resulting blend is 47% ABV.

For a white rum it has a notably yellowish tint, likely because Probitas (and Seale) make a point of unadulterated (and, thus, not over-filtered) rum. The nose features lemon custard, booze, and bananas.

Tasted neat, it shows off tropical notes of pineapple and banana, a pleasant creaminess, and rich molasses with oak. The short finish tingles the tongue with light cedar and caramel.

It’s enjoyable neat, which I’ll admit is unusual for a white rum. But it really shines in cocktails. It’s perfect in a daiquiri (two parts Probitas, one part simple syrup, and one part fresh lime juice) and has just the right amount of funkiness for a Kingston Negroni (equal parts Campari, sweet vermouth, and rum).

Foursquare and Hampden happen to be two of my favorite rum distilleries, so it’s hardly a surprise that I enjoy Probitas. Foursquare is known for not adding sugar to its rums, while Hampden is known for traditional Jamaican funk. Both elements are apparent in this premium-priced white rum.

If you want to treat yourself to a white rum that really shines, Probitas is well worth trying. If you’re drinking it neat, pair it with a balanced, mild cigar like the Cabaiguan, Davidoff Grand Cru, Illusione Epernay, or Paul Garmirian Gourmet. It you’re using it to upgrade your rum cocktail, pair it with any fine cigar you like.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Tip: Storage Wars (Multiple Humidors)

19 Aug 2019

[Editors’ Note: In the coming weeks, I will be writing about my experience consolidating my cigar storage setup. As a precursor, today I am republishing an article I wrote about managing multiple humidors. It originally appeared here on April 25, 2012.]

Wouldn’t it be nice to have one large humidor in your home, preferably a walk-in, with all the cigars easily accessible, sorted by name, and labeled with received dates? It would make aging simpler, humidification easier to monitor, and your whole stash more organized.

Sometimes I think those of us who regularly visit the online cigar community, or those of us who write for it, automatically assume every reader has one elaborate cigar storage setup that costs thousands of dollars. I’m sure some do. But I don’t. And chances are you don’t, either. That said, I want to be clear that I’m not complaining. As I’ve written before, I’m fortunate to have a wonderful cigar den that allows ample room for my humidors, as well as nice space for indoor smoking during those cold Chicago winters. While I may not have a walk-in teeming with the world’s rarest and most expensive smokes, I’m certainly happy and thankful for what I have.

All this isn’t to say that my setup doesn’t present some challenges. It does, and I think many of the challenges apply to the average cigar consumer. So I figured I’d outline my top two challenges—and the solutions I’ve concocted to confront them—so the information can help others (or with hopes that you have comments and suggestions about how I might improve my own setup).

First, let me say that at any given time I have anywhere from five to seven humidors. The variance is explained by the fact that, depending on inventory, I sometimes outfit two large Tupperware containers with humidification beads and Spanish cedar to store spillover smokes. In a perfect world I would only have one very large humidor to worry about, not a handful of medium- to small-sized humidors. But because the five traditional wooden humidors all carry sentimental value (i.e., the one I got for my wedding that’s engraved with the wedding date) I can’t bring myself to consolidate. Plus, given the space I have in our condo in Chicago, one very large humidor would be a lot tougher to make space for.

One challenge with this setup is monitoring the humidification levels of each individual humidor. Each humidor seems to hold onto humidity differently, and that can make proper maintenance difficult. My solution? Once every so often (more often in the winter, when the natural air humidity is lower) I examine and rotate the cigars in each humidor. I also check to see if the humidification device in each humidor needs to be “recharged.”

The second challenge—especially with all the rotation—is keeping track of which cigars are stored where. I combat this by keeping brands together (i.e., Tatuaje with Tatuaje, PDR with PDR, etc.) and then noting in a spreadsheet which brands are in which humidor. This isn’t perfect because it requires me to reference a document if I’m looking for something in particular. But I’ve found it helpful. I’m considering doing something similar but, instead of organizing the cigars by brand, organizing them by type (i.e., cigars that need to be reviewed, golf course smokes, special cigars for special occasions, etc.).

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on how to improve my setup. Or, if you have a completely different setup/strategy, please feel free to share in the comments below as well.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Protocol Themis Corona Gorda

18 Aug 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.”

The Corona Gorda size of the Cubariqueño Cigar Company’s Protocal Themis blend was formerly exclusive to Pennsylvania-based Famous Smoke Shop. Earlier this year, though, it became available to all retailers. Made at Erik Espinosa’s La Zona cigar factory, the cigar’s shiny, golden Ecuadorian wrapper surrounds Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. Ideal combustion qualities reveal a medium-bodied combination of light roast coffee, hay, cream, and nutmeg, backed up with a sneaky green and red pepper spice on the finish. Judging from the one I had this is a versatile cigar that could be enjoyed in the morning with a coffee, after dinner with a whiskey, or anytime in between.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Avo Unexpected Passion

16 Aug 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.”

As an Avo fan, I was excited by news of a limited-production line called Unexpected with four blends. There’s little info on the tobaccos used in the four, other than one note per offering. For Passion (6 x 50, $10.50) it’s that one of the leaves is 25 years old. Whatever the composition, Passion nails that trademark Davidoff grassy, mushroom-y profile from start to finish. There are other flavors along the way, like a little pepper and a bit of sweetness. But they play second fiddle. Overall, I found this cigar to be just a little too much of the same thing. I’m interested in trying the other three Unexpected blends, though.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Avo

Cigar Review: Espinosa Alpha Dawg Short Churchill

14 Aug 2019

Even without the name and the black-and-white sketch of cigar maker Erik Espinosa on the box top, this cigar would stand out. The Habano Rosado wrapper is nearly flawless and has a nut-like pre-light aroma.

The profile begins with pepper, befitting the Nicaraguan binder and filler. Performance is excellent: solid burn, tight ash, lots of smoke, and a good draw. It does, however, burn a little fast.

There are quite a few changes along the way. The pepper recedes a bit after the start, giving way to woodsy notes and spice. Other flavors include a honey sweetness, espresso, and leather. Strength is generally in the upper range of medium, tending to increase somewhat as the cigar burns down.

I’ve smoked a box of the Short Churchills and found them very consistent from cigar to cigar.

Alpha Dawg comes in three sizes, all packaged in boxes of 10. The Short Churchills (6 x 48) list for $8.75 each. The two other sizes are a Corona Gorda (5.6 x 46) and Robusto (5 x 50).

The cigar began life as an event-only stick, chosen by attendees from three blends presented a few years ago at an event celebrating cigars from Espinosa’s La Zona factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. According to Espinosa, demand pushed it into regular production.

I’ve gone on record before about silly cigar names. And I’d have to put Alpha Dawg into that category, though I probably should add an asterisk.

I can’t say I know Espinosa, but I have met and talked with him several times, and he’s an interesting, larger-than-life sort of guy. It’s that personality that makes me believe the name and presentation overall comes with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

The Alpha Dawg is an interesting, satisfying smoke, especially for those who like Nicaraguan tobacco and appreciate subtlety. I recommend the cigar and give it four stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys