Archive | April, 2007

Stogie Reviews: Rocky Patel Connecticut Robusto

30 Apr 2007

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m not a huge fan of cigars with Connecticut Shade wrappers. I usually find them to have heavy chemical and nicotine flavors.

For instance, in spite of a whopping 91 rating from Cigar Insider, I gave the Cusano 18 Double Connecticut a substandard two out of five stogies, and said that “the stick tasted more like it was engineered in a beaker than grown from soil.”

On the other hand, I’ve also made no secret of my soft spot for Rocky Patel stogies. They usually live up to the much-deserved hype, and the Vintage 1992 is one of my all-time favorites.

So I wondered how I would like a cigar with a Connecticut Shade wrapper that’s manufactured by Rocky. I picked up a Rocky Patel Connecticut Robusto for about $4 to find out.

This is a light and smooth ochre-colored stogie with Nicaraguan and Dominican filler tobaccos. At five inches with a 50 ring gauge, it sports the classic Robusto size.

Upon lighting, my Connecticut Shade fears were immediately realized. An unpleasant chemical aftertaste overshadowed the creamy grass and hay flavors during the first few puffs.

Fortunately, that unsavory finish faded into the middle of the cigar, and that’s really when this smoke was most enjoyable. The aftertaste came back to haunt me after I smoked past the band (which, on this cigar, I wouldn’t recommend).

Like most Rockys, the physical properties of the Connecticut are admirable. An even burn and a clear draw produced a firm, gray ash.

From what I’ve heard, many people like this stogie as an early morning smoke. With mild flavors and good construction, it’s easy to see why. If you like Connecticut Shade cigars, this is probably right up your alley.

But I’m still not convinced. Call me crazy, but I want to enjoy – not dread – the aftertaste of my smokes. All things considered, I can’t give the Rocky Patel Connecticut Robusto a rating any better than three out of five stogies.

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

Patrick A

Tags: cigars

Quick Smoke: Oliva Serie G Maduro Churchill

29 Apr 2007

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

For $3.75, this was an extraordinary cigar. It would have been extraordinary at twice the price. A medium-bodied smoke, the seven inch by 50 ring gauge stick had all of the sweetness, coffee, and dark chocolate tastes associated with a fine maduro wrapper. Construction was excellent, as seen by the straight slow burn and smooth draw. Even after removing the band it never got hot or bitter. More than once I simply held the cigar up and thought that any maduro fan seeking a bargain stick need look no further. By the box of 25, some Internet prices run to just a shade over $3.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

Tags: cigars

Quick Smoke: Amante Toro Natural

28 Apr 2007

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

At $108 for a box of 20, the Amante Toro Natural from is significantly pricier than your average, run-of-the-mill boutique smoke. Then again, this smooth and flavorful five and ½ inch by 52 ring gauge stogie is better than your average, run-of-the-mill boutique smoke. Now normally I’m not a huge fan of Connecticut Shade wrappers, but Amante has a fine blend of Nicaraguan, Honduran, and Dominican filler tobaccos to back it up with a creamy, almost caramel-like taste that’s just short of exceptional. With solid physical properties, I have no qualms about highly recommending this as a great mild smoke.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

Tags: cigars

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler XLI

27 Apr 2007

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

1) The Cato Institute’s latest issue of Regulation includes an excellent article that exposes the flawed “science” behind the surgeon general’s latest report on secondhand smoke. It goes on to say that “people should feel offended by the complexity and sham paternalism of health authorities and of profitable tax-exempt charities” because “such an officially imposed tyranny has no place in countries that claim and presume to be free, enlightened, and just.” To read the article in its entirety, please click here.

2) Now that the Chicago Bulls are poised to win their first NBA playoff series since the Michael Jordan era, many people are wondering what MJ has been up to. According to the picture to the right (which made the rounds on several popular blogs on Monday), he’s been smoking cigars and grinding on chicks half his age in Cabo San Lucas. Isn’t that what you’d be doing?

3) We wanted to let you know that our friends over at Cigar Jack have a Battle of the Cigars currently in progress, a tournament-style stogie face-off where readers vote for their favorites. Be sure to check it out.

4) Deal of the Week: Our affiliate has been coming through with some great bargains, and this week is no exception. For just $24.95, you can pick up a ten-pack sampler with some real gems, including a Montecristo Platinum, an Ashton Classic, and a CAO Brazila Gol (which alone are worth the price). With other top notch cigars like Hoyo, La Gloria, Bolivar, Oliva, Romeo y Julieta, and Fuente, this is a must buy. To get yours, click here.

The Stogie Guys

Tags: cigars

Cigar Insider: Cuban Crafters National Sales Director Alberto Noguera

26 Apr 2007

Back in February we published two Quick Smokes featuring Cuban Crafters cigars: a Cameroon Robusto house blend and a J.L. Salazar Reserva Especial. Both fared very well.

If you’re not already familiar with Cuban Crafters (and you should be, especially if you like great smokes at inexpensive prices), they are purveyors of premium, boutique cigars that are “made in small batches with attention to each and every detail.” You can read more about how Tabacalera Esteli grows and cures their tobacco here.

Today we’re honored to have Alberto Noguera, national sales director of Cuban Crafters, as the second guest on our Ask a Cigar Insider series. Pictured below with famed cigar legends (from left) Don Kiki and Jorge L. Salazar, Mr. Noguera discusses his cigar-related hero, what makes boutique cigars unique, and why his cigars are “Cuban.”

SG: How long has Cuban Crafters been in the cigar industry?

AN: Don Kiki has been in the cigar industry his whole life. Tabacalera Esteli, our cigar manufacturer, has been in business for 14 years, and Cuban Crafters has been in business for five years.

SG: What’s something all cigar enthusiasts should know about “boutique” retailers like Cuban Crafters?

AN: Boutique premium cigars, like the ones sold at Cuban Crafters, are handmade in small batches and limited quantities. This assures quality and consistency. All this is possible due to the fact that we are the farm and factory of our own cigars. There is no greater detail on quality, and the tobacco leaves are hand-selected to create a distinguished, complex flavor. While difficult to find in many cigar retailers, boutique premium brands are something different from the ordinary mass-produced cigars commonly available in most shops. Their flavor and aroma is unmatched.

SG: Cuban Crafters doesn’t sell Cuban cigars, so what’s with the name?

AN: Cuban Crafters is owned and operated by Cubans that fled the island. All the tobacco grown by Cuban Crafters is Cuban seed tobacco, and all our cigars are made the old fashioned Cuban way.

SG: Who is your cigar-related hero?

AN: Orlando Padrón. His field and factory is close to ours, and he taught Don Kiki how to maintain quality – especially the principle of quality over quantity.

SG: If you could only smoke one cigar (that Cuban Crafters doesn’t produce) for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

AN: The Padrón Aniversario, which has the same floral taste as our J.L. Salazar and Cuban Crafters Cabinet Selection lines. They are made with rich sun grown Habano tobacco, our favorite full-bodied leaves.

Many thanks to Alberto Noguera for taking the time to answer our questions. To get a taste of premium Cuban Crafters cigars, be sure to visit

Patrick A

Tags: cigars

Stogie Reviews: Perdomo Lot 23 Toro

25 Apr 2007

If there was ever a cigar that I was ready to love, it is the Lot 23 by Perdomo. From its lovely wrapper and exquisite ‘30s style sketch on the band to the idea of a cigar lovingly crafted from tobaccos grown on a single farm, Perdomo created a romantic appeal that is hard to resist.

Perdomo Lot 23Including details such as the name of the farm supervisor and when the tobacco was fermented and aged, Perdomo seems to have taken a leaf from the playbook of vintners and purveyors of single-origin coffee. Just holding the stick brought on images of the many people involved in making a fine stogie, from the fields to the factories.

The pre-light aroma was soft and pleasant. The six inch toro I bought for $4.50 at a local shop clipped and lit perfectly. The draw on the 50 ring gauge was smooth. Construction, from cap to foot, would match cigars costing four or five times as much.

The problem came with the flavor. At first, I noticed a pleasing spice on my lips, but that quickly dissipated. What followed was an odd combination of pepper and dryness for about the first third of the cigar. After that, the taste leveled off to such a mild level I found myself drawing deeply to try to find flavors of any kind. But the dryness didn’t fade, so I drank glass after glass of water.

Perdomo touts the cigar as medium to full, with the Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper adding “an elegant creaminess which complements the robust Nicaraguan fillers.” I would have to disagree on nearly all counts.

I am looking forward to the introduction of the Lot 23 maduro. Perhaps it will better suit my palate. I hope so. It really is a beautiful stick, but the lack of flavor means the Perdomo Lot 23 Toro only earns three out of five stogies.

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

George E

Tags: cigars

Stogie News: More Statewide Smoking Bans in the Works

24 Apr 2007

It’s been quite awhile since we last discussed smoking bans. March 27, to be exact. (OK, such nanny state legislation was mentioned in a few Friday Samplers since that post, but that doesn’t really count.)

In case you’re wondering, our 28-day hiatus was no mistake. Writing about the dangers of government-imposed smoking bans is no light subject, and the ferocity with which they grip the nation doesn’t make for pleasant reading – especially if you’re a fan of freedom. Besides, we recognize that many of you could care less about politics and policy.

Today, however, it’s time to break the silence. Take a look at the map below, which features states with some sort of statewide smoking ban highlighted in red, and you’ll see why.

(Please excuse the haphazardness of my map. No credible, updated map of statewide smoking bans could be found, so I had to make this from scratch.)

State legislature after state legislature is passing paternalistic smoking bans that prevent business owners from offering the amenities they so choose and criminalize consenting adults for engaging in a nonviolent behavior. All this based on bogus studies from the AFL-CIO and the Center for Disease Control.

Here’s a look at the latest states hoping to join the ranks of those already with fascist smoking bans.


The state senate recently passed SB0500, a bill that would ban smoking in all public places and private clubs in the Land of Lincoln. On April 9 it was sent to the house, where it currently waits for approval. Nearly 40 Illinois towns have grown impatient of the delay and are implementing their own bans until the statewide law comes through.


St. Paul politicians are considering a slightly toned-down version of an all-out smoking ban that would allow bars and restaurants to apply to local municipalities for smoking licenses. This (arguably) more sensible proposition is drawing heavy criticism for being too lenient.

New Hampshire

A five-person house committee was recently convened to consider Senate Bill 42 – a statewide bar and restaurant smoking ban. Foster’s Daily Democrat wrote a good editorial on Monday stating that “after a string of efforts…to babysit New Hampshire residents…it is time to tell Granite Staters that they are responsible for their own health habits.”

Patrick A

Tags: cigars