Archive | August, 2007

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler LIX

31 Aug 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) Well, there was hope for Houston. Local bar and restaurant owners were seeking an injunction against a senseless citywide smoking ban on grounds that the law “will create an unfair competitive environment for them to operate.” A judge dismissed their case this week and, as a result, America’s fourth-largest city will be smoke-free starting tomorrow.

Nat Sherman Cigar Shop2) Why is moving the contents of a cigar shop only 140 paces away so difficult? As Nat Sherman explains in yesterday’s New York Times, it’s a bit more complicated than simply boxing up the goods and walking them across the street – especially when the owners of your old retail space want you gone for good.

3) Around the Blogs: Keepers of the Flame lights up a Domaine Avo 50. Cigar Beat reviews a La Gloria Serie R. Cigar Monkey puffs on a Toraño Exodus. Cigar Inspector inspects a Griffin Maduro Toro. Velvet Cigar goes with the Oliva Serie O. Cigar Jack torches up a Partagas Black.

4) Deal of the Week: Last week’s deal was out of stock so quickly we replaced it with the “Woodstock Sampler” from Tinderbox. But since many of you may have missed the change, we’re running it again. With nine big name cigars for just $25, it’s a real steal. Get yours here.

The Stogie Guys

Tags: cigars

Stogie News: U.S. Tax Hike Spells Devastation for Estelí

30 Aug 2007

Nicaraguan Cigar FactoryBetween the review of Cuban Crafters’ Don Kiki Brown Label Toro, the cigar manufacturing video, and yesterday’s review of a Don Pepin, this week’s material has almost exclusively revolved around Estelí. Perhaps that isn’t too surprising, especially when you consider the northern Nicaraguan city has some of the best tobacco-growing land in the world.

Since the Cuban Revolution of 1959, Estelí has been an asylum for Cuban cigar manufacturers seeking to escape communism’s stranglehold and maintain ownership of their businesses. As a result, significant segments of the budding population of 120,000 now earn comfortable salaries working in cigar factories to supply American demand. (Nicaragua is among the top three stogie suppliers to the U.S.)

But these jobs are in serious jeopardy. As this Chicago Tribune article explains, Estelí’s economy – and the frail economies of the entire cigar-producing region – would be devastated by Congress’ proposed tax hike.

“Government officials and industry leaders say thousands of jobs are at risk in Nicaragua, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic because of U.S. legislation that would hike taxes on cigars to help fund an expansion of children’s health insurance.”

In addition to the points I made in this July commentary, such looming economic damage is certainly worth noting when Congress reconvenes in September and attempts to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the proposed tax hike. Many of the benefits globalization has bestowed on the cigar-producing region would be forsaken – including high-paying jobs in Estelí.

“With cigars, bosses prize workers who master their company’s recipes and technique. To keep their workers happy, [the] Plasencia [factory] offers child care and tuition assistance for college. A cigar roller typically makes $100 a week, not a fortune but good pay in a country where most people make less than $7.”

While having to pay extra for our beloved hobby would be an inconvenience for cigar enthusiasts like you and me, the far-reaching effects of the tax hike would be nothing short of horrifying for the thousands who rely on the industry for their livelihood.

Not concerned about jobs in Nicaragua? Consider the economic devastation would include not only cigar rollers, tobacco harvesters, and others all across the Caribbean, but also hardworking retailers in the U.S.

Patrick A

Tags: cigars

Stogie Reviews: Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Classic Robusto

29 Aug 2007

Yesterday you got an idea of how many people it takes to make a single cigar. And if you were paying careful attention, you would have seen the care and skill that goes into making each Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Classic cigar.

Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Classic RobustoCommonly called the Don Pepin Garcia “Black” Label to differentiate it from the Don Pepin Garcia Blue Label, this puro is made in Don Pepin’s factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. With classic five inch by 50 ring gauge robusto proportions, this cigar can be had for around $6 per stick.

The Cuban Classic’s looks were similar to the Blue Label, though just a bit darker with fewer veins. The Corojo wrapper is a lovely caramel color.

Power-packed with plenty of slightly salty ligero tobacco, this cigar starts out very spicy but soon it becomes creamier. The robusto is not as complex or balanced as the Blue Label, but it still has a pleasing, full-bodied flavor profile. As the cigar progresses, the spice fades all together, but the buzz-inducing warm tobacco taste remains. Additionally, the finish is noticeably dry and a touch bitter.

Construction was excellent with an even burn and perfect draw. The cigar was a little soft to the touch, but that didn’t seem to result in any ill effects. (Like most cigars utilizing a heavy blend of ligero tobacco, this cigar might benefit from being kept at a slightly lower humidity that usual.)

Overall, this is a quality smoke – as you would expect from Pepin – but I don’t think it is as good as many of his other lines. Still, there is a lot to like in the Cuban Classic Robusto if you enjoy full-flavored cigars.

Additionally, I think there is some serious aging potential with this stick, and I should note that the samples that made up this review were only aged for a few months. Perhaps an additional six months or a year of humidor time and this cigar would score even better.

In the end, for its full flavor and excellent construction, the Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Classic Robusto 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 Commentary: Every Cigar Has a Story

28 Aug 2007

Sometimes you just need to see something to appreciate it. In this YouTube video we visit the Tabacalera Cubana Factory of Don “Pepin” Garcia in Esteli, Nicaragua, whose smokes have taken the premium cigar world by storm:

The speed and ease with which Pepin rolls cigars is most impressive. You also see the dozens of people who are involved in the process of making handmade cigars. They might not all have their name on the band, but it is their hard work and skill that create your cigar.

So the next time you’re enjoying a fantastic smoke (particularly a Pepin-made cigar like the Tatuaje or Pepin’s namesake line) be sure to appreciate the hard work and skill that went into creating your tobacco treat.

Patrick S

Tags: cigars

Stogie Reviews: Don Kiki Brown Label Toro

27 Aug 2007

From the company that brings us such lines as La Carolina and J.L. Salazar comes the Don Kiki Brown Label. Like others in the Cuban Crafters portfolio, these sticks are “made in small batches with attention to each and every detail” from Cuban seed tobacco. The operation is run by Cubans like Kiki who fled the island in search of freedom to produce their own cigars.

Don Kiki Brown Label ToroThe Toro is a six inch by 52 ring gauge stogie that’s six years in the making. Cuban Crafters makes no secret of the fact that they spend three years selecting and curing the best leaves, then another three aging them.

The product is attractive. The sun-grown criollo wrapper is light brown with a rugged, almost sandy feel; in contrast, the gold and brown band is flashy and metallic.

At the amazing price of less than $2 apiece when bought by the box, the cigar is advertised as well-balanced with floral notes of licorice, spice, earth, toasted nuts, and cocoa – much fuller than the White Label. Before lighting my first Brown up, I remember thinking, “If this sub-$2 stogie packs all those flavors, I’m going to have a new favorite everyday smoke.”

With a 2007 rating of 9.4/10 in Smoke Magazine, I was hoping that would be the case. Fortunately, I wouldn’t be disappointed.

The taste begins on the spicy side with prominent notes of clove and graham. Other flavors of leather and earth are quick to join in, rendering a taste that’s fitting for the cigar’s look.

Halfway though, notes of sweet chocolate are also introduced, making the flavors I’m able to pick out – with the exception of licorice – not unlike those that are advertised. Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy, but the bottom line is all 10 or 15 of the toros I’ve smoked in the past few months have been very well-balanced.

The physical properties of this one hour and 20 minute smoke are also favorable. Expect a strong, tightly layered white ash with a loose draw that produces lots of smoke. While the burn starts a bit uneven, it quickly straightens itself out. The only drawback is its inability to perform well in windy conditions, a slight flaw that’s true of most cigars.

In all, this cigar is nothing short of amazing – especially when you consider the incredible complexity versus the bargain price. For tremendous value, I give the Don Kiki Brown Label Toro four and ½ out of five stogies.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here. To purchase this cigar from a affiliate, click here.]

Patrick A


Quick Smoke: El Tiante Natural Belicoso

26 Aug 2007

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

On Wednesday baseball legend Luis Tiant spoke with us about El Tiante, his own special blend of cigars. Like many in the cigar industry, Luis said, “I wanted my cigars to be mild and smooth with lots of flavor.” After smoking a six inch by 54 ring gauge Natural Belicoso, I can tell you he hit the nail on the head. With a habano Nicaragua wrapper and an Indonesian binder, this stogie is smooth and creamy treat with plenty of floral notes. Construction is superb. I suggest finding a retailer near you.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

Tags: cigars

Quick Smoke: Perdomo Reserve “P”

25 Aug 2007

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

Perdomo Reserve

The Perdomo Reserve “P” is an attractive five and 1/2 inch by 55 ring gauge perfecto with a dark maduro wrapper. After lighting this beauty up I was overwhelmed by deep coffee and dark chocolate flavors. The construction wasn’t bad either with a a firm draw and sturdy ash (although the burn was a bit uneven at times). Still, this is a must try for maduro lovers and adventurous smokers.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

Tags: cigars