Archive | January, 2008

Stogie Commentary: Perfect Fives

31 Jan 2008

After reading my recent review of the Tatuaje Havana VI Verocu No. 2 (Exclusivo Zona del Este), a reader asked what other cigars had received a heralded five out of five stogies rating. I directed him to our Stogie Reviews Archive where you can see all the cigars we’ve reviewed and the rating each received.

Stogie Guys perfect five ratingBut I kept thinking about it. And it seemed to me that it might be worthwhile and interesting to list all the other cigars that have been awarded five stogies, the reviewer, and a bit from the review.

First, here’s the definition of what a five-stogie rating means, according to our ratings system: “These cigars are truly an occasion. We recommend you give these babies your full and undivided attention. If not, you’d better be at a wedding or some other significant celebration.” Now, on to the list.

The first cigar to achieve a perfect five was the Davidoff Grand Cru No. 3, which Patrick A called “one of the finest stogies I had ever enjoyed.” He praised it for a symphony of tastes that remained a smooth, graceful, and mild smoke. The only drawback, he wrote, was the price tag of around $13.

I praised another Ashton, the Classic Corona, for its finely mixed flavors, slow burn and creamy smoke.

Three Cubans grace the list. Patrick A found the Cohiba Siglo V to have the prelight aroma of “the subtle perfume of a delicate angel,” while the smoke itself yielded sophisticated floral notes as well as “complex salty and sour flavors complemented by an ever-present dark chocolate sweetness.”

Patrick S sang the praises of the Ramón Allones Specially Selected, a robusto with excellent construction, a sturdy ash, and a lower price than many of its Cuban counterparts. “Immediately after lighting,” he wrote, “I enjoyed an abundant amount of leather flavors paired with pepper, earth, and even caramel.”

The relatively new Montecristo Petit Edmundo was “gorgeous in every way,” according to Patrick A. Praising its complexity, he called it “a well-balanced, full-bodied, complex masterpiece.”

The Rocky Patel Vintage 1992 Torpedo was also praised by Patrick A as a cigar that never disappoints and a bargain at about $8.75 a stick. It is, he wrote, “a slice of heaven.”

He also cited the Padrón Serie 1926 No. 6 as a truly complex cigar whose flavors included a “taste that reminded me of moist chocolate cake.” Noting that at about $12 it isn’t an every day cigar, Patrick A said “this terrific smoke certainly qualifies for any celebration.”

Patrick S recommended slowly smoking the Coronado by La Flor Double Corona to savor “the perfectly balanced medley of flavors.” Costing about $8, he said the “tobacco treat…would stand out when pitted against stogies that cost twice as much.”

In addition to the previously mentioned pair, I awarded five stogies to the Partagas 150. I feel lucky to have gotten one of these very expensive, hard-to-find cigars and greatly enjoyed its subtle, complex flavors.

So, there you have it. The top ten (so far). Now, why not leave a comment with your top-notch picks?

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Reviews: Bahia Gold Toro

30 Jan 2008

Not long before our Second Annual Super Bowl Cigar Giveaway, we awarded three fine cigars to the winner of our College Football Bowl Contest: a La Aroma de Cuba, a Graycliff Grand Cru, and a Bahia Gold. I had never tried the latter of the three, so I recently embarked upon this review with two Bahia Gold Toros.

Bahia Gold ToroThis particular stick measures in at six inches with a 50 ring gauge and consistently retails around $8 apiece. – the retailer that graciously provided the cigars for this review – sells five-packs for $39.95.

Bahia is a relatively new brand, which debuted out of Costa Rica in 1997. Production moved to Nicaragua seven years ago, and the Gold series is considered to be owner Tony Borhani’s flagship line.

Based on appearance, it’s easy to see why. The dark, reddish-brown Ecuadorian sungrown wrapper is four years old and sports a few elaborate veins. It is adorned with a bright orange Miami Vice-style band that is as flashy as it is unique.

Pre-light, I noticed the cigar is rock hard to the touch, but surprisingly has a fairly easy draw. A strong floral aroma that is quite similar to an El Tiante makes its presence known right out of the cellophane.

Establishing an even burn is relatively effortless, and the Dominican Cuban-seed filler tobaccos (a combination of liegro, seco, and viso) immediately produce a smooth, flavorful burst of dark chocolate and floral notes. The smoke is cool, abundant, and savory. The slightest bit of black pepper spice adds some complexity, and the full flavor never turns harsh.

If you’re into cigars with changing tastes, though, Bahia Gold probably isn’t for you. The flavors I identified remained consistent into the second and final third of this 90 minute smoke. During that time, the burn remained reasonably even, the draw moderate, and the white ash stable.

This cigar would earn high marks in my book if its price were closer to the $5 range. Still, its aromatic smoke and trustworthy construction won’t leave you disappointed. I give the Bahia Gold Toro a reputable three and ½ out of five stogies.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here. Cigars for this review were provided by, and can be purchased here.]

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Commentary: Go SCHIP Yourself!

29 Jan 2008

A reader recently sent us a response he got from his senator, Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland. He had written to express his concern and disappointment over the proposed approximate 20,000 percent tax increase on cigars.

Here is part of the response he received from Senator Mikulski:

cigar tax“I understand your concerns with the tax provisions in the recent version of the children’s health reauthorization legislation, which included a tax increase on large cigars to up to $10 per cigar. I agree that this would have placed an unfair burden on you or your business.

After reading your letter, I took action. I worked with my colleagues, in a bipartisan manner, and fought to drop the ceiling on large cigars from $10 to $3 per cigar. Though still an increase, I wanted you to know that I shared your concerns and acted accordingly.

You should know that I am extremely concerned for the over 12 million children without health insurance. I firmly believe that all children should have access to high quality, affordable health care and health insurance coverage.”

There are so many things wrong with this response, it is hard to know where to begin. First, Senator Mikulski (or, rather, her staff member who responds to constituent letters) includes a giant non sequitur by noting that she wants 12 million children to have health insurance through SCHIP.

Why do the massive costs of SCHIP have to be paid for by taxing an already heavily discriminated group like smokers? Or why it is a good idea to make health insurance funding dependent on people smoking? She never says. Nor does the Senator address the devastating effects that such a tax would have on the families of cigar factory workers in Central America.

But the biggest problem I have with this condescending letter is that it claims that she has addressed the “issue” by dropping the cap on the taxes from $10 to $3 – meaning that the tax increase will now be just 5,900 percent.

What she doesn’t mention is that her proposed tax rate lowers taxes for only the most expensive cigars, leaving taxes exactly the same for all cigars that usually retail for under approximately $8 – the vast majority of all cigars sold.

In short, this reply is the same political double-speak you’d expect from DC politicos: unresponsive and lacking in substance. An apt comparison would be telling someone that pleading not to be shot will result in only two bullets instead of six. Oh, thanks!

Just another reason why the cigar industry needs to get its act together and start doing a better job of fighting these unjust cigar taxes.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie News: Illinois Smoke-Free, Virginia Next?

28 Jan 2008

CHICAGO — I’m writing to you from my most recent hometown trip and, let me tell you, Chicago is a different place. Well, at least the bar scene is, and – for better or worse – that’s where I spend most of my time catching up with Windy City friends.

The big difference is that ever since January 1, Illinois has been under the same nasty spell that has befallen countless other cities and states: a government- imposed smoking ban. The intrusive statewide law criminalizes consenting adults who choose to smoke and the entrepreneurial business owners who choose to accommodate them.

No SmokingAs a cigar enthusiast, the ban doesn’t severely inconvenience me, aside from the fact that Cigar Aficionado recently had to cancel its 14th annual Big Smoke Chicago event. Most bars and restaurants didn’t allow cigars before the ban (private policies I have always abided by), and I’ve never been a cigarette smoker.

But many of my friends are, and it was odd to see them occasionally excuse themselves into the evening chill of Wrigelyville for a nicotine fix. Maybe they were engaging in “smirking,” a new flirting technique whereby patrons who are forced outside to smoke have approximately three minutes to score a co-ed’s number.

Still, even though the law is just a mild nuisance for me, it is no doubt part of a troubling trend that should worry all Americans who value personal freedoms and individual rights. That’s half of the reason why I will return to my current residence in Virginia with a heavy heart.

The other half? Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine last week announced that he will be backing a “statewide ban on smoking in all restaurants, bars, and public and private clubs.” Ugh.

So I’d like to leave you today with some well-written words from a recent Washington Post op-ed, authored by two employees of the Cato Institute (one of which is a friend of

“Restaurant and bar owners want to make money, and they do so by catering to different market niches. In Northern Virginia, many restaurants and bars advertise that they are smoke-free, while others cater to a smoking crowd. This offering of many different choices is a virtue of open markets. So why would Kaine override the smoking choices of different people and instead impose his preference on all Virginians?”

Patrick A

photo credit: Flickr

Quick Smoke: EO Vibe Robusto

27 Jan 2008

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

The Vibe is something of a soul mate to EO’s Reo. Both feature big and bold bands, multi-country blends, and good pedigrees. The Vibe has a Corojo wrapper and tobacco from Honduras and Nicaragua. It looks nice, has a fine draw, and burns evenly throughout. It just doesn’t have much taste. Even the spice that’s typical of Corojo wrappers is missing. Bland. Too bland, in fact, to make any poor puns about bad vibrations.

Verdict = Sell.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: EO Reo Robusto

26 Jan 2008

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

EO Brands Reo Robusto

Reo was an EO Brands hit before Pepin Garcia began blending for the company and came up with some real home runs like the 601. Its name comes not from the rock group or the old motor car company, but the initials of those involved in its creation: Rocky Patel, Erik Espinosa, and Eddie Ortega. This box-pressed stick sports a large, trendy looking band and a lovely chocolate-colored wrapper from Costa Rica. The filler is a mix of Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos. Sounds interesting. But it wasn’t. After kicking off nicely with creamy smoke, the Reo soon lost all taste for a couple of inches. Then there was a little pepper, but that didn’t continue either. Overall, I found the Reo to be a pretty boring cigar.

Verdict = Sell.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler LXXX

25 Jan 2008

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.

Big Smoke Chicago1. Thanks to the crummy Chicago smoking ban, Cigar Aficionado reports that the previously scheduled Big Smoke Chicago is canceled. According to CA, “Local authorities told Hyatt representatives last spring that the 2008 Big Smoke event could go as scheduled. However, after reviewing a detailed copy of the law last week, the establishment’s lawyers concluded that there was no way to allow any smoking on the premises.”

2. Once again, those pesky politicians up on Capitol Hill tried to pass the SCHIP bill, which includes a massive increase in tobacco taxes. And thankfully, once again, Democrats failed to muster enough votes to override Bush’s veto, meaning that at least for now there won’t be a $3 per cigar federal tax.

3. Around the Blogs: Cigar Jack smokes a Camacho SLR. Stogie Review reviews the Indian Tabac 10th Anniversary. The Smoke Journal goes with the Graycliff PG. Cigar Inspector inspects a Padrón 5000. Keepers of the Flame lights up an Augusto Reyes.

4. Deal of the Week: This week we feature a sampler with some really special cigars. Don Pepin is just about the biggest name in cigars right now, and Victor de la Cruz once blended for Davidoff. With Tatuajes by Pepin, and Cocineros and La Princesa by de la Cruz, this sampler features ten excellent cigars for $50. Grab yours here.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Cigar Aficionado