Archive | February, 2007

Stogie Reviews: 5 Vegas Limitada 2006

28 Feb 2007

limitada-2006.jpgIt’s no secret that 5 Vegas cigars (pronounced “cinco vegas”) was a thriving brand during the cigar boom, but lost momentum as sales fizzled and ultimately looked like another boom casualty. Fortunately, internet retailer Cigar International scooped in and turned it into one of its best sellers.

Now 5 Vegas makes some of my favorite value cigars. With a bit of age, the 5 Vegas Gold is a good mild cigar, the 5 Vegas ‘Red’ line is a solid medium- to full-bodied cigar, and the 5 Vegas ‘A’ line is comparable to the Partagas Black at a fraction of the cost. All of those are available for under or around two dollars a stick.

Compared to those three lines, the 5 Vegas Limitada 2006 is pricey, but still only $4-5 a cigar. Unlike the other 5 Vegas lines, the Limitadas (which are released annually) are available only in one shape – a 6.2 inch by 52 ring gauge torpedo.

This cigar, with its white band (looking suspiciously similar to the Montecristo White) featured an oily wrapper with a few prominent veins. Pre-light, the cigar gave off a very sweet aroma. Additionally, the belicoso was noticeably dense.

After a swift snip from my double guillotine, the cigar lit easily with my three dollar Wal-Mart lighter. The most prominent flavor was a muted mellow tobacco taste, but there was also a nice sweet spice to this medium-bodied stogie. As it developed, a slight marshmallow flavor became noticeable that reminded me of the Montecristo Classic.

I happened to pair this cigar with a hearty Bordeaux, and the combination went well. The construction was solid and the ash would hold for a full inch before falling off with a gentle tap.

While the 5 Vegas Limitada 2006 wouldn’t be out of place after dinner with a glass of port or brandy, it isn’t such a good cigar that it needs a special occasion. For a quality performance, though, the 5 Vegas Limitada 2006 earns a rating of three and 1/2 out of five stogies.

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

Patrick S

Tags: cigars

Stogie News: American Cigar Consumption on the Rise

27 Feb 2007

An interesting article out of Brunei, of all places, reported yesterday that American stogie sales jumped a whopping 28 percent from 2000 to 2004. This news is even more stunning considering cigarette sales declined ten percent over that same time period.

The article quotes Action on Smoking and Health Executive Director John Banzhaf – an anti-smoking zealot, not an impartial expert – claiming marketing campaigns, low taxes (excuse me?!), and cigar wielding politicians are to blame for the surge in stogie sales.

“Many of the factors that began leading to the [cigar] increase are still present,” Banzhaf said. They include the perception that cigars look fashionable and the fact that high-profile politicians and others are seen smoking them regularly. “We have Arnold (Schwarzenegger, California’s governor), smoking cigars and occasionally, Bill Clinton,” he said. “More and more women are smoking cigars.”

While busybody do-gooders like Banzhaf chalk increasing cigar consumption up as bad news, it’s worth noting there are a few positive health consequences. For one, cigar retailers and various studies suggest the average cigar enthusiast smokes much less than the average cigarette smoker. One to three times per week, to be exact. (My friends who smoke only one to three cigarettes per week consider themselves nonsmokers.)

Also, stogie smokers do not inhale. So while their risks for oral cancers are marginally higher than nonsmokers, heart disease and lung cancer rarely enters into the equation.

The alarmist article provides additional insight when it cites a recent study out of Cleveland that found, out of the 4,000 plus teens polled, 23 percent prefer cigars, compared to only 16 percent who prefer cigarettes.

This research – albeit limited in scope – contradicts two public misconceptions: (1) that teen tobacco consumption is almost entirely composed of cigarettes; and (2) that the average cigar smoker is a senile, porch occupying grandpa.

For those of you who question the validity of half-baked “reporting” out of Brunei – as you should, especially given the local media’s strong ties to Sultan Hassanal Bolkia – the research does square with an October AP article that ran in hundreds of American publications. That article prompted us to write a commentary about avoiding the pitfalls of the mid-90s cigar boom.

Patrick A


Stogie Tip: Beginner’s Guide to Buying and Selecting Cigars

26 Feb 2007

Considering the many tips we’ve given, it isn’t like us to outsource our tips to others. Still, this article from does a pretty good job giving cigar novices a primer on selecting and purchasing cigars.

For the more experienced Stogie Guys, these tips may seem obvious (and some not even applicable). But for those with just one foot in the pool, these four tips on purchasing cigars are worthy of a reprint here:

Get hands on. A quality cigar will have a lustrous sheen and slightly oily texture, says McKee. It’ll feel firm between your fingers, and give off a strong aroma of tobacco. A cigar that’s been stored improperly, on the other hand, will be dull, with a dry, cracked wrapper. “It’ll crumble in your hand, just like a cracker,” she says. A bad cigar won’t have much of a scent.

Stick to specialists. You’ll find an excellent selection of individually priced cigars at tobacconists and cigar shops, says Bettridge. Look for a store with a walk-in humidor, which replicates the temperature and humidity of the cigars’ native country. Bonus: Because these stores sell only smokes, you’re more likely to find knowledgeable staff to make recommendations.

Avoid buying online. There’s no way to know in advance if cigars have been stored properly, says Bettridge, or if you’re getting the real deal (counterfeit cigars — cheap, poor-quality tobacco dressed up with a ring band similar to a legit brand — abound). And even the most reputable online retailers sell cigars primarily in boxes — a costly proposition if you’re trying new brands.

Go late. Unless you have a humidor, any cigar you buy as a gift (or to smoke yourself) should be smoked within a day or two of purchase. The exception: Cigars packaged in tubes. “They put them in the tubes when they’re freshly rolled,” Seise says, “so the moisture is locked in.” So long as you don’t open the tube, these cigars can be kept for a week or so.

Beginners would also benefit from reading the article’s tips on origin, brand, size, shape, vintage, age, and color.

However, please skip the final tip from the article on “Flavor,” where the article incorrectly claims that “there are no chocolate or red fruit notes here — cigars are usually described in basic tastes like sweet, smooth, heavy and rich.”

While it is true that in the beginning noticing more complex flavors is difficult, it’s far from true that the flavors aren’t there. I would challenge the author to try a Carlos Toraño Exodus Gold or an Alonso Menendez and say that there aren’t chocolate flavors in cigars.

For a better look at the often complex flavors in cigars, read this article on our Davidoff tasting.

Patrick S


Quick Smoke: Slow-Aged 826 Robusto

25 Feb 2007

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

Made by Perdomo, this mild cigar featured good construction – an even burn and easy draw. Unfortunately it was seriously lacking in flavor. Which means that despite the bargain price of a buck a stick, overall this particular cigar came up short.

Verdict = Sell.

Patrick S

Tags: cigars

Quick Smoke: Cuban Crafters Cameroon Robusto

24 Feb 2007

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

A select Cameroon wrapper and Tabacalera Esteli Cuban seed tobacco combine to create a unique smoking experience. These five inch by 52 ring gauge boutique cigars boast rich woody flavors, complemented by subtle sweet notes. Construction is admirable. Made in small batches, I’d be hard-pressed to find a cheaper cigar that received so much attention during its production. I’d highly recommend clicking here to pick up six Cuban Crafters Cameroon stogies for under $20.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

Tags: cigars

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler XXXII

23 Feb 2007

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. We call ‘em Friday Samplers. Enjoy.

1) In Tuesday’s review, George noted that he wouldn’t be spending the two hours necessary to smoke a Gurkha “CBid Exclusive” Ancient Warrior again. But since he still has one remaining, he figures he’ll just give it away free to a reader. Here’s how you can claim it:

Be the first to correctly answer this question in the comments of today’s article: What stunt did Braves great Lew Burdette, who just died, pull on his 1959 Topps baseball card?

To win you must leave a valid email (one entry per person), live in the continental 48 states, and agree to write a guest “Quick Smoke” review for the site. The winner will be contacted by George to get a shipping address.

2) Yesterday was George Washington’s birthday, and while he is best known as a great general and our nation’s first President, here are two facts you might not know about Washington: He was America’s number one producer of whiskey in colonial America, and he also grew cigar tobacco at his Mt. Vernon estate. Cigars and whiskey…our kind of guy!

3) New Product Watch: Two new cigars are due to hit the U.S. market in the coming months. Altadis is bringing its VegaFina line (the top selling non-Cuban cigar in Spain) to America. Meanwhile, the Don Lino line is returning to its Honduran roots with a Nestor Miranda-made cigar due to hit the U.S. this summer.

4) As if instituting a state-wide smoking ban wasn’t enough, commenter Jerry from Stogie Review adds that the anti-tobacco activists in the Maryland state government are also increasing the tobacco tax by 25 percent. That said, we’d like to invite all the Maryland cigar smokers to join their DC friends over here in Northern Virginia, where – at least for the moment – you can still light up without being hassled by anti-smoking jack booted thugs.

The Stogie Guys

Tags: cigars

Stogie Reviews: Ashton Virgin Sun Grown Sorcerer

22 Feb 2007

Ashton VSGWhen the Ashton Virgin Sun Grow (VSG) line was released in 1999, it was instantly hailed as a success. Cigar Insider even went so far as to say that “connoisseurs are seeking out the Ashton Virgin Sun Grown with a fervor not seen in the industry for years…”

This particular seven inch by 49 ring gauge “Sorcerer” puts the Ashton VSG’s rich flavors in a classic double corona size. The stogie has a rustic, deep brown wrapper and a slight box press. The press – which isn’t as extreme as a Maria Mancini or a Padrón 1926 (a cigar that the Ashton VSG is often compared to) – lets the cigar sit comfortably in your hand.

Prior to being lit, the cigar had rich roasted mocha notes with a fantastic aroma of vanilla flavors. The band’s classic white, black, and gold give it an almost royal appearance.

Fortunately, when lit, the flavors remained just as impressive. Almost immediately rich earth and mocha flavors were apparent. Over time that was complimented by deep roasted notes.

Overall, the Ashton VSG offers dark, luscious flavors without sacrificing its smooth balance, everything you would expect from a cigar developed for Ashton by Carlos Fuente.

The construction was also notable despite a tight draw. And while initially the burn was a bit temperamental, it quickly evened out until it was straight as a razor by the midway point.

Earlier in the review I mentioned that the Ashton VSG line was often compared to the Padron Anniversary line. I must say that the comparison has merit, as both cigars are known for pairing full flavor with smoothness in a way that is uncommon, even for the best handmade cigars in the $8 and up price range.

While the Ashton VSG Sorcerer doesn’t receive the ultra-rare five stogie rating that the Padrón 1926 does, it still earns a very impressive four and 1/2 out of five stogies.

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

Patrick S

Tags: cigars