Archive | May, 2007

Stogie Reviews: Zino Classic Premium Selection No. 3

31 May 2007

Sometimes, due either to the passage of time or my own sorry excuse for a memory, it’s difficult to remember how a particular cigar came into my possession by the time I get around to lighting it up. This is no such case.

I distinctly remember my girlfriend gifting me a couple Zino Classic Premium Selections because she wanted to help “even things out” on our Archived Reviews Page with a review that begins with a “Z”. Thanks, Melissa.

My favorite vitola in the series is the No. 3, a skinny five and ¾ inch by 38 ring gauge stogie. A lower-end spin-off of the famed company, it sports a simple maroon band that is shaped and decorated in the traditional Davidoff way.

But no cigar enthusiast could mistake the two, even at first glance. Unlike the flawless Davidoff sticks, my Zinos had light brown wrappers that were littered small green splotches, veins, and some uneven bumps (all of which failed to show up on the photo for some reason). Besides, in a nod to my September Commentary, the manufacturer has the decency to write “Classic” across the side of the band and “Premium Selection” on a cellophane sticker.

These soft and spongy cigars are easy to light, even with just one or two wooden matches. After a few easy puffs, I could tell it was going to live up to its billing as an earthy smoke with a smooth, creamy quality.

The Honduran Jamastran and Dominican tobaccos mix to produce a buttery taste with soft notes of toast. Some spice is present, but the exact flavor is indecipherable until smoked through the nose: nutmeg.

It’s interesting to note that the nutmeg spice is much more pronounced in the Robusto-sized No. 6 vitola of the Classic Premium Selection line. If you’re looking for a creamy smoke with a kick, I’d recommend picking one of those up.

In keeping with its loose packing, the draw on this cigar is extremely easy. Maybe too easy. The burn is nice and even, but the gray ash has a knack for falling off at inopportune moments.

Overall, this is a pleasant, mild smoke with decent construction. Id be willing to pick up more if they sold in the $4 range, but these are unfortunately overpriced at around $6 apiece. Nothing to write home about, I give the Zino Classic Premium Selection No. 3 three out of five stogies.

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

Patrick A


Stogie Commentary: We Smoke ’Em So You Don’t Have To (Part V)

30 May 2007

I’ve burned the last cigar in my excursion through cheap diversions, an unbanded Don Gregory Extreme. At $3 it was the most expensive of the five sticks I chose, and it was one of the worst.

Don Gregory ExtremeThe wrapper began to unravel at the foot not long after lighting. The cigar was rolled so tightly that the draw was about on par with trying to suck a quarter through a straw. I used a paper clip to open it up a little and got some smoke. That was unfortunate because it had a sharp, chemical taste that left a bitter finish. The bad taste did go away, though. About a third of the way down, the Extreme tightened up again and I got no smoke at all.

I was curious about the composition, so I peeled it apart after I gave up trying to smoke it. The wrapper was tissue thin and, somewhat to my surprise, the tobacco inside the binder appeared to be long filler.

The shape of this cigar was what attracted me to it at an outlet shop near my home. It was rolled to look like a Hemingway Short Story and the clerk said it had a Cameroon wrapper with Dominican filler. Its resemblance to the Fuente Hemingway — roughly the same four and 1/2 inch length, nipple foot, and tapered body — was about on par with writers like John D. MacDonald and Robert Ruark who copied Papa’s style without coming close to the substance.

Of course, for $3 I suppose one shouldn’t expect a masterpiece. But it would be nice if you could stop smoking and not have an aftertaste reminiscent of a mistake siphoning gasoline.

So, you may ask, what did I learn from smoking these cheapies?

Well, I think the main thing I took away from this experience is that there are cigar bargains to be had. But you’re rarely going to find them in the bargain bin. Really cheap cigars that are enjoyable — as opposed to not as bad as they could be — are rare.

Instead, look for a lower-priced line from a quality manufacturer, such as the new Oliva Serie series or General’s Sancho Panza lines. Spending just a little bit more money can make a big difference. Consider that I could have smoked a Padron 2000 for less than 50 cents more than my Don Gregory Extreme cost.

Also, you shouldn’t expect to enjoy a wide selection of low-priced cigars as you might more expensive sticks. I’d recommend you find one or two with a taste you enjoy and with consistent construction quality, a vital consideration purchasers too often neglect. Then buy by the box to lower the price even more.

Finally, we could all probably benefit by following the advice of Zino Davidoff: “Smoke less, but better…”

[Please click the following links to read Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV of this series.]

George E

Tags: cigars

Stogie Reviews: Tatuaje Reserva SW

29 May 2007

Once upon a time, Pete Johnson had the fantastic job of being the cigar buyer for the ultra-exclusive, invitation-only Grand Havana Room in Beverly Hills. Now, Johnson (still employed by Grand Havana) is also the owner of the hottest new cigar brand in America Tatuaje.

Tatuaje Reserva SWThe Miami-made Tatuajes were created by Johnson with Don “Pepin” Garcia. If you haven’t seen the simple Tatuaje bands in your local cigar store, that’s probably because Tatuaje (Spanish for “tattoo” as in the tattoos that cover Johnson’s arms) only produces a limited number of cigars each year in its small factory in Little Havana.

The Tatujae Reserva SW is a seven inch by 47 ring gauge Nicuraguan puro. The leathery wrapper has a few prominent veins and an expertly crafted Cuban-style triple cap. With its Churchill size and Cuban construction, this cigar’s oily appearance reminds me of a Partagas Lusitania I had the pleasure of enjoying in Spain a few years ago.

After carefully slicing the small top of the triple cap and lighting it up with just two matches, the cigar started out medium-bodied and woody. It isn’t nearly as flavor-packed as the Unicos or Regios from Tatuaje’s Cabinet line.

The woody flavor was consistent throughout, but after an inch or so it was joined by subtle amounts of cocoa and spice. Near the end it became more cedary as it flirted with a more robust profile.

Draw is firm, but it isn’t a detriment to the cigar. The ash was extraordinary – despite the cigar’s length, I only ashed three times before the even burn got to the band.

Overall this is very good cigar – well worth the 90 minute investment. Still, for a cigar blended by Don Pepin Garcia, I was surprised that it wasn’t more full flavored.

If you’re lucky enough to find a Tatuaje Reserva SW in a cigar store near you, you’ll likely pay upwards of $11 apiece. No bargain, but a fair price for nearly two hours of enjoyment.

Ultimately, for its excellent construction and complex, smooth blend, the Tatuaje Reserva SW receives a very solid rating of four out of five stogies.

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

Patrick S


Quick Smoke: Hoyo de Monterrey Dark Sumatra Espresso

27 May 2007

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

With its blend of five tobaccos, including the extremely dark Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, this Honduran line is a viable contender in the seemingly endless release of powerful cigars. But it doesn’t sacrifice strength for taste or deliver a high nicotine punch. The Dark Sumatra provides a smooth experience with a good tobacco taste that’s laced with coffee, cocoa, and leather. While I have enjoyed all the vitolas, I find the Espresso – the smallest at four and ½ inches by 50 ring gauge – the most satisfying. The flavors seem to last just long enough. If you want to give it a try, they go for considerably less online than the $3.70 MSRP.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

Tags: cigars

Quick Smoke: Aquarius Robutso

26 May 2007

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

In addition to the Dona Flor and Alonso Menendez cigars I’ve come to love, Brazil Cigars & Tobacco also makes Aquarius. The five inch by 52 ring gauge Robusto can be found for about $6, and you can get it draped in either a Connecticut or Mata Fina wrapper. Mine had the former, which yielded an interesting honey-glazed spice. With a firm, white ash, a perfect burn, and an effortless draw, I’d be less hesitant to light up another if it weren’t for the frailty of the wrapper. I’m willing to bet the Mata Fina Aquarius will hold up better.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick A

Tags: cigars

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler XLV

25 May 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.

Penton's Dictador Cigar Box1) Remember that high-profile cigar counterfeit case we’ve been talking about for over a year now? You know, the really complicated scenario where Altadis was controversially working hand-in-hand with the Miami-Dade police department to convict Juan Penton for alleged copyright infractions? Well, earlier this month the Miami New Times published a revealing exposé on the matter. It’s worth a read. As it turns out, Penton may not be as guilty as many previously thought.

2) If you’re looking for some new cigars, be sure to scroll down to Monday’s commentary on lesser-known boutique manufacturers. We got a great reader response with even more tantalizing prospects.

3) While everyone else seems to be making bigger and fatter cigars, boutique manufacturer Padilla Cigars has created its smallest cigar ever: the Padilla Signature 1932 La Perla. At four and 1/2 inches long with a 40 ring gauge, the Nicaraguan puro comes in cabinets of 50 unbanded cigars. Check it out at your local B&M.

4) Deal of the Week: Since we highlighted their Father’s Day Sampler last week, Tinderbox has been busy creating other great samplers. Each of these includes ten great sticks for less than $25, including all the big name cigar makers. So check out the Super Sampler, Premium Sampler, Herf Sampler, and the El Torito Sampler today. We’d love to hear which is your favorite.

The Stogie Guys

Tags: cigars

Stogie News: Minnesota Passes Statewide Smoking Ban

24 May 2007

Exactly one month ago, I authored an alarming article about the spread of statewide smoking bans, including a breakdown of three states that seemed close to dropping the axe on individual rights: Illinois, Minnesota, and New Hampshire.

Since then, both the Illinois and Minnesota state legislatures have passed fascist smoking bans, effectively placing business owners and minority smokers under the thumb of the nanny state. Pathetic.

The Illinois ban shouldn’t be news to regular readers. We published a blurb about that in one of our recent Friday Samplers.

But the Minnesota ban is pretty fresh. Governor Tim Pawlenty just signed it into law last week, criminalizing smoking in bars, restaurants, and other workplaces throughout the Land of 10,000 Lakes starting October 1.

State Senator Tom Neuville, on the other hand, is one Minnesota politician who seems to have his head screwed on right. On his website, he explains why he voted against the ban:

Private business owners have a property right that government should not take away lightly. I still oppose smoking. But the statewide smoking ban is an overreaction to a problem which is more of a nuisance than public health issue. Adults can choose to enter or avoid a bar or restaurant that allows smoking.

Good points. Too bad Senator Neuville’s sensible assessment of the law didn’t strike a chord with a majority of his colleagues in St. Paul.

So, in one month, two out of three have bitten the dust. Let’s hope New Hampshire – the so-called “Live Free or Die” state – can hold out a little longer.

Patrick A

Tags: cigars