Archive | May, 2007

Stogie Spirits: Sam Adams

23 May 2007

People generally look to the more potent spirits for cigar pairings, but, in my experience, a good beer can be an excellent accompaniment to a handmade stogie. And by good beer I mean a well-crafted, flavorful brew, not that watery stuff that is constantly advertised during televised sporting events.

Sam AdamsNow don’t get me wrong. I’ve had more than my share of Bud, Miller, Natural Light, and PBR…And many times with a cigar. However, when I want a beer that actually adds to my smoking experience, I turn to something a little better. And one of the most dependable makers of excellent flavorful beer is Sam Adams.

Here are three of the many varieties that Sam Adams makes, and some suggestions for pairing them with cigars:

Boston Lager

The Sam Adams Boston Lager is the flagship beer of the line. It is a hoppy brew with little in common with the traditional, watered-down lagers I mentioned earlier. Amber in color and aromatic in scent, it has a nice bite. It also is the easiest Sam Adams beer to find – available on tap in most bars and many restaurants. I would suggest pairing it with a medium-bodied cigar with a little spice, perhaps something with a Cameroon wrapper.

Black Lager

The Black Lager is not one of my favorites. While very smooth, I found the chocolate flavors and grainy finish a bit unpleasant. Still, I know beer lovers who think this beverage is the best made by Sam Adams – so I think this is sort of a love it or hate it brew. If you’re having a pint of the Black Lager with a cigar, you’ll want something that accentuates the chocolate flavors. Try a full-flavored maduro like a CAO Brazilia, a Padron Anniversary (Maduro), or a La Gloria Cubana Serie R.

Boston Ale

The Sam Adams Boston Ale is a classic copper-colored American ale. Crisp, fruity, and well-carbonated, it is a lighter-bodied brew. The Boston Ale is very drinkable and versatile enough to be enjoyed with a meal, or just with a few more Boston Ales. It also is can be enjoyed year round. Pair this beer with a mild, creamy cigar like a Macanudo Natural, a Davidoff Grand Cru, or an Ashton Classic.

Those are just three of the over 30 beers brewed by Sam Adams. (Maybe I’ll pick three more for a future edition of Stogie Spirits.)

Now let me know your favorite Sam Adams beers (and the cigars you suggest they be paired with) in the comments.

Patrick S


Stogie Reviews: Bauzá Pyramide

22 May 2007

Is it possible for a Tabacalera Arturo Fuente product that has been around for over 27 years to completely slip under my radar? I didn’t think so – until I was introduced to Bauzá.

Upon closer inspection, I discovered my former ignorance of the brand was entirely plausible. Bauzá has a truly limited distribution that relegates it to a relatively small number of cigar shops and online retailers. Apparently there just isn’t enough worthy tobacco to satisfy the demand.

Maybe that’s one reason why publications like Cigar Aficionado and Cigar Insider have consistently rated the brand in the prestigious 87 to 92 range. But let’s see how it scores on the reputable Stogie Guys scale before we jump to any conclusions.

The handsome five and ½ inch by 55 ring gauge Pyramide comes in a light-colored Ecuadorian wrapper. One major vein dominates the leaf with a few bumps and uneven spots scattered about.

It may be worth noting that this is one of the few – if not the only – cigars out there that features an entire tobacco plant on the band. Thus, smoking this stogie is like eating chicken while staring at an egg.

Right out of the gate, the Dominican binder and filler relinquished a surprising spice. I guess I didn’t know what to expect because, depending on what source you read, this cigar has been billed as both “full-bodied” and “mellow.” Not too helpful.

After the first inch of the cigar turned into a gray ash, however, I could begin to understand the disparity in information. The initial spice fades into a softer taste of cedar and clove.

Then, just when I thought the stogie could accurately be called medium-bodied, the spice kicked back in at the midway point, and the clove flavor shifted to a zesty graham. To my surprise, this final taste profile remained constant well past the band, and the smoke was never too harsh.

On some counts, this cigar had good construction with an even burn, an effortless draw, and a solid ash. But beware of its fragile wrapper; the leaf has a tendency to tear when the cigar is cut or the band is removed.

In all, this is an impressive smoke – particularly for under $4. Enthusiasts who are fans of cigars with changing flavors will especially enjoy this good, honest stick.

I give the Bauzá Pyramide a solid three and ½ out of five stogies.

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

Patrick A


Stogie Commentary: Who’s Your Boutique?

21 May 2007

boxes.jpgI imagine most of you are familiar with a number of boutique cigar makers, such as Bucanero and Pepin Garcia’s El Rey de los Habanos. But if you’re like me, there are many small operations whose names and cigars come as a complete surprise.

This is an effort to change that. I’ll start by listing three manufacturers whose names and/or cigars I’ve been introduced to. I hope you’ll contribute as well. I think it’s a great way to discover new sticks and to play at least a small, direct role in supporting the art of cigar making.

  • Vegas de Santiago. This Costa Rican operation uses locally grown tobacco and imported leaf, producing four lines. They sell directly and offer a six stick sampler of three of their lines for a modest $14.95, including postage. I’ve enjoyed several of their cigars, particularly the Chaman.
  • Tabacos de la Cordillera. Another Costa Rican operation, this one uses only tobacco grown on its own farm. It also sells direct and offers several samplers. I have yet to try these, but they’re on my list.
  • El Original. A U.S.-made cigar, these beauties are produced by the Island Smoke Shop in Key West. They utilize tobacco from six countries and offer four cigar samplers in natural or maduro for $24.95, shipping included. This is another fine cigar I can recommend. Island also makes two other lines I haven’t yet tried: the Santiago Cabana and the budget Coral Reef line.

Now it’s your turn. What gems can you surprise us with?

George E


Quick Smoke: El Rey Del Mundo Robusto Larga

20 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.

Back in September I gave the the El Rey Del Mundo Robusto Larga an impressive four stogies. Recently, I revisited this cigar for a quick smoke. Wrapped in its obscuro wrapper, the toro-sized El Rey Del Mundo still packs a punch with an abundance of rich chocolate and deep espresso flavors. The draw on this cigar was a bit tight, but it burned well producing thick aromatic smoke and a firm white ash. Available at less than $3 a cigar when purchased in a five pack, this stick is a fantastic bargain that I continue to recommend.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

Tags: cigars

Guest Quick Smoke: Macanudo Gold Label Somerset

19 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. The following is a Guest Quick Smoke, submitted by a reader. If you’d like to submit your own for publication, please contact us here.

Since I’m not yet able to smoke too large of a cigar on my own, I made a stop at a local B&M on my way home from work and picked up a few pint-sized stogies to enjoy. One of which was the Macanudo Gold Label Somerset, a five inch by 54 ring gauge stick with a golden Connecticut Shade wrapper. At $6.50, I hoped that it would have similar flavors to the other milder Macanudos I’ve come to enjoy – just in a smaller package. It did, and it also has a smooth sweetness that stays on your lips and no harsh spice.

Verdict = Buy.

Submitted by Melissa Cook from Arlington, VA

Tags: cigars

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler XLIV

18 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.

1) This week we celebrate the one year anniversary of, which officially launched May 15, 2006. We were considering a one-year retrospective article, but we figured we already did that with our year in review wrap-up in December. So to celebrate we’re just asking that our readers toast us with a fine cigar and a stiff drink sometime this weekend. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

Fred Thompson Cigar2) Last week’s sampler noted that socialist filmmaker Michael Moore was in some trouble for an unauthorized trip to Cuba. That trip has now blossomed into a feud between Moore and unannounced Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson, who has been known to enjoy a Cuban cigar or two. In the latest shot in their argument over Cuban healthcare, civil rights, and cigars, former Senator Thompson released this video where he puffs on an unlit cigar while lecturing Moore.

3) It isn’t exactly Biggie and Tupac, but Tatuaje is pitting East Coast against West Coast with its next cigar release. Due out in late June, the Zona del Este is being released exclusively in the East while the Lado Occidental is only available on the Left Coast.

4) Congratulations to Draper’s Cigars! The DC cigar store is celebrating its 120th anniversary. Kinda puts our one year anniversary to shame.

5) Deal of the Week: Tinderbox has come up with a fantastic 10 cigar sampler for Father’s Day, but we wouldn’t be offended if you bought one for yourself. For under $20 you get two Rocky Patel Sun Growns, two Partagas Blacks, two La Auroras, two Tinder Box La Reservas, a CAO MX2, and a CAO Gold. These have a tendency to sell out so pick yours up here ASAP.

The Stogie Guys

Tags: cigars

Stogie Reviews: Cuban Crafters Cabinet Selection Toro

17 May 2007

In February I published a Quick Smoke on an excellent cigar from Cuban Crafters, a purveyor of boutique tobacco that’s made in small batches from Cuban seed. Since then, I’ve made no secret of my affinity for their Cameroon Robusto and Don Kiki stogies, and their national sales director even graciously agreed to participate in one of our Ask a Cigar Insider articles not too long ago.

With all this in mind, I thought it was about time to try one of Cuban Crafters’ finest creations: the Cabinet Selection Toro.

Up front, this cigar makes a good first impression. Its Ecuadorian Habano wrapper is dark and enticing, though not without its fair share of veins and splotches. A white metallic band serves as a bold contrast to the leaf. Box-pressed, the six inch by 52 ring gauge stick is topped off with a curly head cap – a salute to its Cuban heritage.

Right out of the cellophane, you can just tell this is going to be a powerhouse. As the foot is toasted, the sun-grown Habano seed filler and the Habano 2000 binder combine to produce a rich, aromatic smoke that sets the tone.

Not surprisingly, from the first puff these cigars exude full flavors of chocolate and leather. A fairly substantial spice kicks in shortly thereafter, and – in my opinion – thankfully never fades.

Like other noteworthy cigars, many of which cost up to three times as much, the Cabinet Selection balances these knockout flavors with a subtle sweetness. The taste is even on the palate and by no means harsh.

While the draw and ash are up to par, however, the only downside comes in the physical properties department. The burn requires some surveillance to stay even, and the stogie has a tendency to extinguish itself when left unattended for five minutes or more.

Overall, though, I am very impressed – a judgment that’s based on not one, but five, of these Toros. At under $4 a pop, they pack an outstanding flavor profile into a memorable, slow-burning smoke.

Not to be overlooked, I’m giving the Cuban Crafters Cabinet Selection Toro four out of five stogies.

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

Patrick A