Archive | September, 2007

Guest Quick Smoke: Bolivar Royal Corona (Cuban)

30 Sep 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 StogieGuys.com reader for our Quick Smoke Cigar Giveaway contest. If you’d like to submit your own for publication, please contact us.

Bolivar Royal Corona

Counted among the best Cuban robustos of the 90s, the Bolivar Royal Corona fell off for a time when quality control slipped and ligero shortages watered down its once-potent blend. But the “RC” is back, and many believe recent releases are some of the best in the brand’s history. At four and 7/8 inches with a 50 ring gauge, it features a smooth, nut-brown wrapper, a slight box press, and a nearly flat cap. It is earthy and nutty, with a long, leathery finish. Given its youth, it is remarkably well-balanced. Full-flavored, but without a hint of bite.

Verdict = Buy.

Submitted by Kevin K from Land O Lakes, FL who will receive the second of five Arganese samplers.

Tags: cigars

Quick Smoke: Fonseca Cubano Limitado Robusto

29 Sep 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 Fonseca Cubano Limitado is advertised as full-flavored and robust. To me, though, it was like other Fonsecas I’ve smoked: dull and lifeless. A dry, paper taste predominated. I had a Robusto, which I believe is a five inch by 52 ring gauge cigar. The reason I say that is because I can’t find any information about the Limitado on the Matasa site, so I had to rely on other sites. For considerably less than I paid ($6.45), there are many other, much better cigars.

Verdict = Sell.

George E

Tags: cigars

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler LXIII

28 Sep 2007

In our ongoing effort to make StogieGuys.com 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.

Stradivarius Cigar1) Before the year is out, General Cigar plans to release Stradivarius de los Maestros, a $34 stogie with a 15-year-old Connecticut Shade wrapper. Named for the famous, expertly-crafted violins, Stradivarius will come in three sizes – Churchill, Lonsdale, and Robusto Major – each in its own wooden coffin. (I guess a cellophane wrapping would be inappropriate for a cigar that costs as much as 17 Don Kiki Brown Labels.)

2) From the same big-government state that brought us the Calabasas calamity comes one of the most obtrusive smoking bans yet. Starting November 8, it will be illegal to light up near children in Belmont, California. The senseless law also forbids smoking in apartments, townhouses, and condominiums that share a common floor or ceiling. What’s next?

3) Around the Blogs: Matt lights up a Tatuaje Havana VI. Cigar Command smokes the Cuvee Rouge. Cigar Jack tries the 601 Blue. Keepers of the Flame torches a Fuente Don Carlos. Cigar Inspector inspects a Chateau Fuente Maduro. Stogie Review reviews a Primer Mundo Rosado Obscuro.

4) Deal of the Week: This Papi Sampler from Tinderbox.com has nine great sticks for the very reasonable price of just $49.95. Included is a Montecristo Classic, a Cohiba XV, and the box-pressed, Pepin-made 601 Blue. Grab yours here (and while you’re there, check out the ridiculous photo they have with the sampler).

The Stogie Guys

Tags: cigars

Stogie Reviews: Cuesta-Rey Centro Fino Sungrown No. 9

27 Sep 2007

With Monday’s El Rey del Mundo and yesterday’s Ashton, this week has featured some truly great cigars. I wanted to keep that trend going when I picked out a Cuesta-Rey Centro Fino Sungrown for today’s review.

Cuesta-Rey Centro Fino Sungrown No. 9Surprisingly, we haven’t written much about this brand, save for a February Quick Smoke of a Centenario. Cuesta-Rey got its start back in Cuba in 1884 under Angel La Madrid Cuesta and is now part of the “Cigar Family” that includes Arturo Fuente and Montesino.

At six and ¼ inches with a 52 ring gauge, the Centro Fino No. 9 is a large, torpedo-shaped cigar with some striking aesthetics. The Sumatra-seed Ecuadorian sungrown wrapper is quite nice, despite a few small tears and some discoloration. While I like the classic, portrait-style look of the double band, I had to remove the top half before lighting up because it was too close to the head.

With a few wooden matches, I had an even burn and immediately encountered an interesting and unique flavor of sweet hay and spicy graham – very similar to the first puffs of the Davidoff Grand Cru series (which isn’t at all bad). The Dominican Republic filler tobaccos are airy and mild, and an earthy base of tea adds some complexity at the halfway mark.

My only complaint on flavor is that traces of sour, stale notes rear their ugly head from time to time, mostly towards the very end. I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what this taste is, but I know it’s unpleasant. Fortunately, it doesn’t linger too long, and I found you can help avoid it by smoking slowly.

The physical properties of this cigar are fair. The burn is pretty damn straight (but may require a few touch-ups), the draw is quite loose, and – despite some flakiness – the ash holds pretty well.

Overall, my mild- to medium-bodied smoking experience was enjoyable. The flavor is well-balanced, but the sweet hay notes are what I’ll remember most. In the $5 to $7 range, the Cuesta-Rey Centro Fino Sungrown No. 9 deserves three out of five stogies.

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

Patrick A

Tags:

Stogie Reviews: Ashton Classic Corona

26 Sep 2007

Ashton Classic CoronaAshtonWhenever someone would ask what kind of cigar I prefer, I used to reply, almost automatically, medium- to full-bodied sticks. Lately, though, I’ve been rethinking my preferences. One conclusion I’ve reached is that what I like depends a great deal on the circumstances.

When I want to simply relax and enjoy a cigar, I find more and more that a high-quality mild stick fits the bill. I appreciate the way the cigar repays my attention.

The Ashton Classic Corona is just that sort of cigar. Like every Ashton I’ve smoked, this stick was immaculate, from the exquisite Connecticut shade wrapper to the smooth, creamy smoke. I paid $7 for the five and ½ inch by 44-ring gauge beauty with Dominican filler and binder. It burned slowly for more than an hour and held a tight ash.

To me, the blend was just about perfect. The flavors mixed finely, some just touching the tongue (as with a citrus), while others would linger a while (the case with nuttiness). Smoking slowly and enjoying a cup of coffee proved just the right touches.

If you smoke several cigars a day, this probably isn’t a good one to light late in your rotation. A clear palate undoubtedly helps enjoy the subtlety of this Ashton.

I think every Ashton reviewed here at StogieGuys.com has been rated highly; this one is no exception. Overall, I really can’t think of anything I’d change. So, I give it a perfect five out of five stogies.

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

George E

Tags:

Stogie News: Cigar Tax Vote Today, Bush Veto Threat Stands

25 Sep 2007

[UPDATE 2: Text of the bill can be downloaded here. Provisions on the tax increases begin on page 288.]

[UPDATE: George Edmonson reports there was one small victory in House negotiations, as the “floor tax” was eliminated. The “floor tax” also known as the “store killer” for the likeliness that it would bankrupt many B&Ms was a proposed one-time tax on every cigar a store has in inventory.]

Today the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote and pass an expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) that includes a massive tax increase on cigars and other tobacco products, even though as of late last night the text of the bill was still not available. The Senate is expected to pass the bill on Thursday.

President Bush has promised to veto the bill pledging his support for SCHIP, but opposing the Democrats’ expansion of the program to wealthier families. “Instead of expanding SCHIP beyond its original scope, we should return it to its original focus, and that is helping poor children, those who are most in need,” Bush said last week.

Under the Senate proposal, various tobacco taxes funding the SCHIP expansion are being increased by at least 256%. While as of Friday multiple congressional staffers told StogieGuys’ own George Edmonson that they were still negotiating the House bill and trying to reduce the tax cap on cigars, it is believed the House bill will contain the same tax increases.

Under the plan, federal cigarette taxes were increased from 31 cents per pack to $1.00. The 256% increase was then applied to other forms of tobacco such as “large cigars.” The federal excise taxes on large cigars – like the ones we review here at StogieGuys.com – go from 20.719% with a cap of 5 cents per cigar to 53.13% of the manufacturer’s price with a cap of $3. For a cigar that retails for $7.50, the new tax would increase the price of a box of 25 cigars by about $100. The tobacco tax increases are set to go into effect January 1, 2008.

MoveOn.org used Bush’s veto opposition to blast Republicans, writing: “Stop the Republicans from blocking health care for kids.” But such statements are an inaccurate portrayal of Bush and congressional Republicans’ position. While some outside of Congress have called for SCHIP to be entirely eliminated, that is not the position of Bush or the majority of Republicans that oppose the SCHIP expansion.

Outside critics calling for the elimination of SCHIP cite that the program’s regulations drive up the price of private insurance for all, create incentives for lower-middle class families not to climb the economic ladder in an effort to keep SCHIP subsidies, and cause huge costs that “insure four previously uninsured Americans for the price of ten.” However persuasive such points may be, these are not the arguments made by Bush.

Bush’s veto threat is only in opposition to expanding the coverage from families of four earning as much as $72,000 per year, to families of four earning $83,000 per year. In fact, President Bush has said he approves expanding SCHIP to cover well-off families, but only if the states enroll 95 percent of those lower-income children first.

While the debate continues over SCHIP, there is almost no talk about the use of tobacco taxes as a source of funding.

Stogie Guys Analysis

Here at StogieGuys.com, we’ve always pointed out that if a government program is really in the public’s best interest, it would not be necessary to tax a small, already discriminated-against minority such as smokers. Additionally, there has been relatively little discussion about the fact that a tobacco tax funding health insurance creates a perverse government interest in ensuring that there are enough people smoking to maintain funding of the program.

With the veto threat pending, we will continue to watch this story. It is believed that the Senate might pass the bill with a veto-proof majority, but it is unlikely that SCHIP supporters in the House can muster the 2/3 majority needed to override a presidential veto.

Patrick S

Tags: cigars

Stogie Reviews: El Rey del Mundo Petit Corona (Cuban)

24 Sep 2007

After a couple less-than-thrilling Habanos in the form of a Partagas Serie D and a Romeo y Julieta Exhibición, I was hoping to find a Cuban that would live up to its expectations. I decided to try my luck with an El Rey del Mundo.

El Rey del MundoFor those of you who don’t habla Español, the brand’s name literally means “king of the world.” (How’s that for expectations?) It dates back to 1848 when Antonio Allones – no relation to Ramón – established a tobacco business in Havana. At one time, El Rey del Mundo was the most prestigious and expensive stogie in the world.

These days, the brand is manufactured by Habanos S.A. and advertised to “discriminating” smokers as a woody, leathery stick with a fresh, herbal bouquet.

The Petit Cornona is five inches with a 42 ring gauge, and can be found for as little as $5.70 or as much as $9 apiece. Its appearance is both rustic, with coarse veins and prominent seams, and regal, with a medieval red and gold band.

The preliminary taste is superbly pleasing as heavy notes of roasted coffee and leather dominate. Soft and doughy to the touch, each puff seems to produce just the right amount of earthy smoke. A black pepper spice is quick to join the flavor profile and builds nicely to the midway point.

Some sweet notes would do the cigar good, if only to balance out its woody, spicy taste. I’d recommend pairing this Cuban with a sugary drink, like some El Dorado rum. Even so, this is a wonderful smoke, especially if you take your time.

On construction, the burn is fairly even (but by no means perfect), the draw is loose and clear, and the ash can fall off unexpectedly.

When you get right down to it, this particular stick is a great deal for under $6 and overpriced at $9. Either way, you’ll get a terrific medium-bodied taste in a relatively quick format. I give the El Rey del Mundo Petit Corona four out of five stogies.

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

Patrick A

Tags: