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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

Drew Estate

6 Responses to “Stogie Commentary: We Smoke ’Em So You Don’t Have To (Part V)”

  1. MadMax Wednesday, May 30, 2007 at 7:11 am #

    I've got to say, George, that I've really enjoyed this series. Thanks for taking one — or five, rather — for the team.

    And I agree with your assessment that it's better to pay a little more for premium value smokes than to buy cheapie dog rockets.

  2. Adrianna Wednesday, May 30, 2007 at 7:13 am #

    It's funny that a lot of people out there still think cigars are only for the rich or for special occasions. They should read this series.

    Thanks for posting information of value to those of us on tight budgets.

  3. NWGaEagle Wednesday, May 30, 2007 at 7:14 pm #

    Definitely glad to see the budget smokes getting coverage – although you did seem to pick some of the worst apparently 🙂

    The Te-Amo #4 is a personal favorite of mine @ $10 smokes anyway, so my tastes may be pretty poor on the subject. My favorites of late are the CAO MX2 and the Macanudo Hyde Park Maduro.

    Keep up the great reviews!

  4. NWGaEagle Thursday, May 31, 2007 at 4:39 am #

    Not sure what happened to that comment – got clipped or something. Javascript issues popping up in IE7 FYI. Anyway, the Te Amo #4 falls in to my

  5. NWGaEagle Thursday, May 31, 2007 at 4:39 am #

    Not sure what happened to that comment – got clipped or something. Javascript issues popping up in IE7 FYI. Anyway, the Te Amo #4 falls in to my less than $2 smokes that I enjoy. Also like the Arturo Fuente Curly Head at just around a $1.50. Although I haven't had one of those in a while and I've heard the quality has dropped off in the last few years. Some have suggested the Flor de Oliva Gold to me as a cheapie to try out.

    My favorites (any price) of late are the CAO MX2 and the Macanudo Hyde Park Maduro. I'm by no means a connoisseur of the expensive sticks though.

  6. Adam B. Sunday, October 18, 2009 at 8:53 pm #

    i have indeed heard good things about the flor de oliva line (especially the corojo). spirit of cuba's are also very good for the price and the perdomo factory seconds are a good bargain (some of the time… these are very inconsistent). all of these can be found for under 3 bucks; i feel like maybe the author just made bad choices or did not ask around about good cheep cigars.