Archive | August, 2006

Stogie Reviews: Rocky Patel Sun Grown Torpedo

31 Aug 2006

In early July I said that a review of the Rocky Patel Sun Grown Torpedo was coming. Now, after nearly two months and dozens of emails, here it is:

Rocky Patel’s reputation for quality cigars has been growing for years because of his consistent quality and smooth, rich tastes. With that in mind I poured myself a rum and Coke and lit up this 6 and 1/4 by 52 ring gauge rounded torpedo. (In hindsight it may have paired better with a glass of port.)

The five-year-old Ecuadorian wrapper was not as dark as many sun growns, but its silky, medium brown sheen was pleasing to admire with its Rocky Patel signature twin red bands. The wrapper had only a few small veins and no soft spots.

Before lighting up, the cigar gave sweet hay notes, but that would soon change. Immediately after being lit, the cigar quickly started to produce an uneven burn (though this occurred in only one of the three that I smoked). Fortunately, the cigar righted itself almost immediately and, after this initial problem, it maintained an even burn to the end.

From the first puff, I could tell that this would be a full, smooth cigar. It had deep creamy mocha flavors with hints of almond and macadamia nuts. These tastes proved consistent throughout, and the cigar had a tight, white ash that held firm for a full inch and a half before falling off. One small disappointment: While I wanted to smoke this cigar down to the nub, it seemed to go out slightly prematurely.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this stogie. It is one of those far-too-rare cigars that is full flavored but not at all overwhelming. Its creamy nutty flavors will be appreciated by both cigar novices and experienced Stogie Guys alike. I suggest you smoke this after a fine steak dinner.

And since I got a five pack of these for less than $4 a stick, it also was a great value. For such great value and flavor, I enthusiastically give this cigar four and 1/2 out of five stogies.

Patrick S


Stogie Tip: Try Before You Buy (A Box)

30 Aug 2006

We have recently received several emails from readers asking us to recommend a cigar for them to buy a box of. This brings me to a simple but important tip that we always follow…and you should, too.

Stogie Guys is about the “average guys’ search for the next great smoke” and Joe Sixpacks usually don’t waste money buying boxes of cigars on a whim. That’s why we suggest you always try a cigar multiple times before you buy a box. After all, if you wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive, why would you buy a box of cigars (something far more subjective) without a few test smokes?

The answer, of course, is that you shouldn’t. So drop by your local cigar shop and pick a few sticks of whatever you’re considering purchasing a box of. Consistency and construction are hard to evaluate with just one smoke, so get a few. Five packs from cigar auctions are a great way to evaluate quality.

Also, don’t neglect online resources. Be sure to check if we’ve done a review of the cigar, or feel free to send us a few sticks if you want our opinion on something we haven’t yet reviewed. And there are plenty of sites out there (some bad, some good) that have cigar reviews. One site I usually check is Top25 Cigar.

While the reviews at Top 25 often lack the detail we provide, the sheer number of cigars in their database (many popular lines and sizes have been reviewed dozens of times) allows you to learn quite a bit about a stogie by providing you with the combined knowledge of many smokers. Particularly, be on the lookout for cigars with poor construction ratings.

But because cigar smoking is a personal experience, and everyone has their own tastes and preferences, remember that reading all the reviews in the world is no substitute for trying a cigar yourself.

Now get out there and start smoking!

Patrick S


Stogie News: Fresh Twists on Old Products

29 Aug 2006

While CAO has lately been the most creative company as far as cigar marketing is concerned, other brands are now putting new spins on old products to try to get more of their stogies into your humidors.

Take H. Upmann, for example. In cooperation with Michael Argenti, the manufacturer recently released a new version of two old lines – the H. Upmann Signature Series and the Por Larrañaga Cuban Grade.

The Signature line is really Argenti’s take on the esteemed Upmann label with a new tobacco blend and a new box. While the Por Larrañaga Grade is also a new blend, the most noticeable change is the unique silver box – a product of Argenti’s obsession with design.

Another current example of cigar manufacturers putting fresh twists on old stogies is that Rocky Patel’s unbanded cigar is slipping out of its birthday suit and into a tiny band. The Edge, which has been naked since its debut in 2004, will now have a thin, pastel yellow band around the foot of each cigar. The first of these newly-packaged stogies are scheduled to arrive in America by early September.

But as fancy boxes, new bands, and other creative marketing tools begin to flood your tobacconist, remember that new advertising strategies can be helpful in prompting you to try new cigars – but they should never dictate your preferences. A great cigar in a new box or band is still a great cigar…and a piece of crap in a new box or band is still a piece of crap.

Patrick A


Stogie Guys Friday Sampler VII

25 Aug 2006

In our ongoing effort to make as entertaining and reader-friendly as possible, each Friday we’ll post a sampler of quick cigar news and stogie-related snippets to tide you over for the weekend. We call ‘em Friday Samplers. Enjoy.

1) After successfully censoring the cigar out of Winston Churchill’s mouth, anti-smoking zealots are now setting their sights on the scourge that is cartoon smoke. At the request of one viewer who objected to two Tom & Jerry episodes, 1,500 cartoons, including The Flinstones and Scooby-Doo, are all being edited to remove scenes that “glamorize smoking.”

2) The sad passing of cigar legend Stanford J. Newman alerted us to a great deal for our readers. For an $18 membership in the JC Newman Connoisseurs Club, you get some Cuesta-Rey cigars, a golf shirt, coupons, a members-only newsletter, and more. And best of all, a portion of your membership fee goes to the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation. Good cigars and a good cause…Who can argue with that?

3) This week we reviewed the Onyx Vintage ’97, highlighting a trend we’ve noticed towards special “vintage year” cigars. But you won’t find Fuente jumping on that train. Here’s why.

4) Here’s a good deal for H. Upmann fans, and the box is perfect for hiding your cigars from the anti-smoking crowd.

5) Finally, we admit there isn’t any plausible reason why a cigar publication like ours should link to this, but we just couldn’t help ourselves. Our apologies in advance for the three minutes of your life you will never get back.

The Stogie Guys


Stogie Reviews: Macanudo Maduro Hyde Park

24 Aug 2006

Of Macanudo’s three main lines, Natural, Robust, and Maduro, I am least familiar with the Maduro series. So, with an open mind, I proceeded to delve into this 5 and ½ by 50 ring gauge Macanudo Maduro Hyde Park.

An initial inspection of the cigar revealed a dark, somewhat toothy wrapper with a few small veins. Unlike many maduros, there is little if any oil apparent on the surface. And, like most Macanudos, this is a solid, dense cigar – not a bit spongy or soft to the touch.

After lighting up, the caramelization of the maduro wrapper’s many sugars deposited a sweet aroma into the air. My first taste revealed a creamy flavor with hints of dark chocolate. The draw was a bit tight, but far from unsmokable.

For a maduro, this is a very smooth and mild cigar. The creamy mocha flavors held consistent throughout. A testament to Macanudo’s high construction qualities, the burn was perfectly even to the end and the white ash held from inch to inch until gently knocked off.

While not a very complex cigar, I would recommend this as an excellent beginner’s Maduro.

For smooth flavor and dependable construction, the Macanudo Maduro Hyde Park receives three out of five stogies.

Patrick S


Stogie Tip: Choose Your Booze

23 Aug 2006

As I often get asked by readers and friends, “What’s a good drink to have with a cigar?” Well, unfortunately, I usually have to answer that question with a barrage of other questions. What kind of cigar are you smoking? What time of day is it? How goofed up do you want to get? And, perhaps most importantly, what sort of adult beverages do you normally like or dislike?

You see, pairing a cigar with a cocktail is no exact science. Just like the celebration of smoking a stogie, the whole idea is to just enjoy the experience and relax. You probably have enough other crap to worry about – so don’t waste your time agonizing over what’s the right cigar to have with the right drink. Doing so completely misses the point.

That being said, in order to maximize your enjoyment, I do have a few bits of advice to offer.

First, when choosing which booze to couple with a smoke, consider the strength of flavors in the cigar versus the strength of the flavors in the drink. A good general rule to follow is that full-bodied smokes should be paired with full-flavored drinks. After all, you don’t want a hefty stogie to completely drown out your cocktail, and you certainly don’t want your beverage to overcome your smoke.

This is a handy rule of thumb because it seems rational and it’s easy to remember. But as Jack Bettridge, an editor with Cigar Aficionado, points out:

Two problems persist with this rule, however. First, like all generalizations, it’s not always true. We’ve been pleasantly surprised in pairings when a big, ballsy cigar made a great partner for a light whiskey and vice versa. Second, it’s a rule that’s more useful for avoiding mistakes than for identifying sublime marriages.

Working off this strength-of-flavors tangent, my second bit of advice is that rum, whiskey, and brandy usually make the best compliments to a cigar. As far as flavors go, a stogie is a very heavy experience. Beer, wine, gin, and vodka are often too subtle to compete for your taste buds’ attention. This 2002 article from CA highlights some great rums, cognacs, scotches, and bourbons to pair with cigars.

In case you’re wondering, I generally prefer Meyers Dark or Chairman’s Reserve rum, while Semmens prefers Knob Creek or Blanton’s bourbon. Try any of those straight or on the rocks with any fine cigar and I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Since so much has already been written on the Internet and elsewhere about rum, cognac, scotch, or bourbon and stogies, and since – from time to time – I enjoy other drinks with cigars, I thought I would share some not-so-mainstream couplings that have become tried-and-true pairings in my relaxation repertoire:

1) A light Macanudo Natural with a refreshing Tanqueray, soda, and lime
2) A smooth Romeo y Julieta with a crisp Estancia Pinot Noir
3) A mild Arturo Fuente with a clean Ketel One and tonic

Feel free to leave a comment and tell Stogie Guys Nation what pairings have worked best for you.

Finally, please remember to take all this “advice” with a grain of salt. Only you can know what drinks you’ll like best with what cigars. Fortunately, this requires a lot of trial and error…which means you’d better get busy drinking and smoking.

Patrick A


Stogie News: Stanford J. Newman (1916-2006)

22 Aug 2006

In a cigar industry full of characters, there are only a few who can rightfully be called icons. With the passing of Stanford J. Newman on Thursday, August 17, the industry now has one less legend:

Newman was a cornerstone of the American cigar industry, and spent more than 70 years in the business. He bore witness to revolutionary changes in the way cigars were sold and made, and had to transform his company several times to ensure its survival. He entered the business in the days when cigars sold for a nickel, and a one-cent price increase could destroy a brand; traveled often to Cuba to buy millions of dollars worth of tobacco on nothing more than a handshake, and changed his blends when the Cuban leaf he used became illegal due to the U.S. embargo; and finally lived through the cigar boom of the 1990s, watching his cigar brands reach heights undreamed of in decades past.

Newman’s company, the owner of Cuesta-Rey and Diamond Crown cigars, makes cigars by machine on the highest floor of its sprawling headquarters in Tampa, Florida, and it distributes the cigars made by Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia., which rolls the company’s premium brands in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

An indomitable spirit, Newman remained active in his family business up until his final days, and was at work when he fell ill.

“He was a pioneer,” said Marvin R. Shanken, editor and publisher of Cigar Aficionado magazine. “Stanford was a true leader in the cigar industry and a man of great class. We shall all miss him.”

Newman took great pride in owning a successful, enduring family business — J.C. Newman Cigar was founded more than 110 years ago — and took special pride in working alongside his two sons.

With the Fuente family, Stanford Newman founded the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation, which is working to improve the lives of the people of the cigar-producing areas of the Dominican Republic.

For more insight into Stanford J. Newman and the important role he played in the American cigar industry, see this extensive interview with Cigar Aficionado from 1997.

Patrick S