Archive | February, 2008

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler LXXXV

29 Feb 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.

1) Our upcoming DC Stogie Guys Smoke Out is only a little more than a week away: Sunday, March 9 at 4pm to be exact. The event will feature free cigars plus giveaways all provided by Cuban Crafters. Please RSVP here if you haven’t already.

Dick Butkus2) Despite smoking bans, tobacco taxes, and the American trade embargo, sales of Cuban cigars exceeded US$400 million last year – up 7 percent from 2006. To put things in perspective, consider that Cuban sales comprise a whopping 80 percent of the world cigar market (excluding the U.S.), with Spain and France as the largest importers.

3) Windy City readers were no doubt disappointed by the cancellation of Cigar Aficionado’s Big Smoke Chicago. But thanks to the good folks at CAO, NFL legend Dick Butkus, and Cigars & More, they have another great event to look forward to on April 23. Click here to check out the event’s creative marketing campaign.

4) Recognizing the power of tobacco, Tampa’s InterContinental hotel now has a “Big Cigars and Motor Cars” promotion that includes the use of a Maserati or Corvette, a steak dinner, and Fuente cigars for $550 per night.

5) Around the Blogs: Stogie Review reviews a AVO 787. Cigar Inspector inspects a Griffin’s Fuerte. Cigar Monkey checks out the Gurkha Regent. Cigar Jack lights up a Hoyo de Tradición.

6) Deal of the Week: Cuban Crafters (sponsor of our Smoke Out) is running a number of incredible web specials, featuring some great deals on their already reasonable prices. Click here to check them all out.

The Stogie Guys

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Stogie Reviews: Padrón 7000

28 Feb 2008

It’s difficult to decide what makes the strongest first impression with the Padrón 7000: the massive size or the extraordinary weight. But after you’ve been smoking a while, you’ll find it more striking that a six and 1/4 inch by 60 ring gauge behemoth can burn so evenly and draw so well.

Padrón 7000 aDrop a couple of these massive sticks in your shirt pocket and you’ll soon find yourself in position to apply for the bell ringer’s job at Notre Dame. Keep the huge Padrón 7000 in your mouth very long and you might develop an irresistible urge to bark orders at longshoremen and stevedores.

The latest entry in Padrón’s “thousands” line of Nicaraguan puros, the 7000 does not disappoint. From the dark, milk chocolate wrapper to the spice left on the lips, this is an impressive and full-bodied smoke. It isn’t complex. I found the predominate flavors to be leather and wood with the spice diminishing after the first third. Overall, it is remarkably balanced and smooth. From start to finish, there was never a bit or harsh finish.

The only disappointment came at the final third when the fire began to diminish (though it never went out) and the smoke thinned out. The burn line deteriorated as well. My guess is that with such a large cigar, quite a bit of tar and moisture collected and had a significant effect.

Like all the cigars in this line, the price is reasonable for the size, consistency and quality provided. A box of 26 sells for about $162, which is less than $6.25 per stick. Unfortunately, you won’t find anything about this cigar on Padrón’s website. They haven’t even gotten around to putting up data on the 6000 yet.

For my personal taste, the 7000 is too big. I’m not a fan of massive ring gauge cigars. But that did not significantly detract from my enjoyment, and if you’re looking for a cigar to enjoy throughout a poker night, spring baseball game, or afternoon of fishing, the Padrón 7000 might be just what you’re looking for.

On the scale, this cigar earns a rating of four out of five stogies.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here. Cigars for this review were provided by To purchase this cigar, click here.]

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Insider: Dion Giolito of Illusione Cigars

27 Feb 2008

Lately there has been quite a lot of buzz surrounding Illusione Cigars. The company, which is only a few years old, was founded by Dion Giolito. According its website, the idea behind Illusione is to recreate the flavor of Nicaraguan cigars from the period before the Sandinistas took over in 1979. Illusiones are a Nicuraguan puro made in Honduras. To find out more about this brand, I spoke with Dion Giolito.

Dion GiolitoSG: Tell us a little bit about the founding of Illusione. What made you decide to start producing your own cigars?

DG: I’ve been in the retail business for over 15 years. It wasn’t until I decided to open my own shop when I really considered doing my own line. Nicaraguan tobacco has always had my attention from the beginning. Joya de Nicaragua was, and still is, one of my favorite cigars, particularly the original blends. I had pre-Sandanista Joyas and smoked them from time to time. I was very surprised at the life and power of them after all these years. Those cigars kinda pushed me into the arena of manufacturing.

SG: What was the greatest challenge in starting up your cigar manufacturing operation?

DG: Dealing with all of the liars. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in this side of the business is that everybody lies – farmers, factory owners, managers, etc. My biggest challenge has been to get my ideals and approach across to these guys without them cutting corners every time the cat’s away. Sometimes the leaf you choose is mysteriously not the leaf that goes into the cigar. I’ve refused entire orders because of one component. I need to be able to look someone in the eye when they ask me what my favorite cigar is and tell them it’s the one I make. I don’t want to be the guy that makes a cigar and smokes someone else’s. There are a lot of those guys out there.

SG: Excluding Illusione cigars, if you could only smoke one specific cigar for the rest of your life what would it be and why?

DG: Now, you know that’s practically an impossible question to answer! Pre-illusione it would have been around three cigars depending on my mood: the Hoyo de Monterey Rothschilde Double Maduro, the Vegas Robaina Don Alejandro, or the Davidoff Gran Cru No. 1. My number one “desert island” cigar is the Illusione MK (5 1/8″ x 42).

SG: In your opinion, what is the best beverage to enjoy while smoking a fine cigar?

DG: The best alcoholic beverage would be the Zacapa 23 Anejos. For something non-alcoholic, it would be coffee.

SG: How do you keep cigars in your personal humidor: Cellophane on or off?

DG: I’m a Ziploc bag guy, mostly. Long-term storage for one vitola would be cello off. Short term – doesn’t really matter.

SG: If someone has never tried a Illusione cigar before, which vitola would you recommend as the best cigar to introduce them to the brand?

DG: The F9, it’s a Lonsdale. Lonsdales and Coronas are the best vehicle for flavor in my opinion.

Many thanks to Dion Giolito for taking the time to speak with us. For more information and to find a Illusione retailer, please visit

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Reviews: Felipe Gregorio Power Special R

26 Feb 2008

As soon as you slide one of these out of the cellophane, rich aromas of milk chocolate and cinnamon permeate the air. The sensation is almost like taking a whiff of a candy bar. “What enormous potential this cigar has,” I remember thinking to myself before smoking my first Power by Felipe Gregorio.

Felipe Gregorio Power Special RAdvertised as sweet and light, the line is a three-nation blend. The wrapper is Costa Rican, the binder Nicaraguan, and the filler a mixture of Dominican and Nicaraguan tobaccos.

The Special R vitola measures five inches with a 52 ring gauge. It earned an impressive rating of 91 in the March 27 issue of Cigar Insider. Oily and attractive – albeit a bit rustic – the two sticks I smoked for this review seemed slightly box-pressed and a little flat.

Given the heavy pre-light aromas and the line’s confident name, the initial taste is much lighter than you’d expect. The smoke is airy and mild, but I also notice a zesty cinnamon aftertaste. That spice gets stronger and more pronounced the quicker you smoke.

A sweetness begins to fade in and out after the first inch, but it isn’t the chocolate I detected before. It’s accompanied by a woody, smoky cedar flavor. This trend fails to build down the home stretch, rendering the Power unexpectedly subtle and soft.

The physical properties are decent on all counts. The burn requires some early touch-ups to get things off on the right foot, but it takes care of itself from there. The white, flakey ash holds fairly well, and the draw is almost too easy.

I’ve seen 26-count boxes of Special Rs go for as little as $153, but most sell for as much as $9 to $10 apiece. That’s a little steep, in my opinion, for a cigar that’s no doubt fine but probably not excellent.

So, for subtle flavors that don’t live up to the expectations of its pre-light aromas (or its name), I give the Felipe Gregorio Power Special R three out of five stogies.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Reviews: Cohiba Siglo VI (Cuban)

25 Feb 2008

You would hard-pressed to find a list of today’s top cigars that didn’t include the Cohiba Siglo VI. This thick Cuban toro (also known as a canonazo) features generous six inch by 52 ring gauge proportions.

Siglo VIPrior to the three I smoked for this review, my last Siglo VI was on New Year’s Eve a few years ago in Barcelona. That cigar was the most expensive I’ve ever purchased – over 50 US dollars – a function of a bad exchange rate and the inflated prices of a fancy hotel bar.

While never inexpensive (if someone offers you a great deal on one of these be very wary…Cuban deals that are too good to be true usually are), fortunately the Siglo VI is can normally be had for far less than $50 each. Packs of three, presented in cedar-lined aluminum tubes, can be found online for about $75, and boxes of ten or 25 cost around $220 and $480, respectively.

For this review I sampled the Siglo VI that’s presented in an ornate gold and black aluminum tube. Inside I found a wrapper with a beautiful caramel brown color. These particular sticks have a bit of age on them as evidenced by a fine layer of plume.

Pre-light I found an aroma of cedar, barnyard, and a subtle fruit taste that reminds me of cognac. The cigar is firm to the touch and the wrapper has only a few small veins.

After lighting up the canonaza I find a full-flavored smoke with earth, subtle spice, and plenty of cedar. While similar to the flavors found in the Cohiba Robusto or the other Siglo vitolas, the Siglo VI is more full-flavored.

It is also is more complex than the Cohiba Robusto. In addition to the initial flavors, I found that underneath the Siglo VI has deep coffee, earth, Burgundian fruit, and even some creaminess creating a remarkably complex, yet smooth, flavor profile.

The construction was equally impressive. The draw was firm and the solid gray ash was sturdy. On occasion the burn became a little uneven, but never to a distracting level.

This Cuban certainly lives up to its reputation as one of the best cigars in the world. Accordingly, the Cohiba Siglo VI earns an impressive rating of five out of five stogies.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Guest Quick Smoke: La Gloria Cubana Reserva Figurados Felicias Maduro

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

This line of smokes is essentially La Gloria Cubana’s take on Fuente’s Hemingway idea. All the vitolas are perfecto-shaped (barring the pyramid) and are comprised of top-tier tobaccos with specialized and extensive aging. The four and 5/8 inch by 49 ring gauge maduro Felicias is delicious. The cedar aging provides a very rich, woody taste unlike any other. These are not your average maduro cigars, however, especially since they do not have any of the traditional coffee or chocolate flavors. Regardless of your taste this is a phenomenal smoke and, at around $4, it should not be overlooked.

Verdict = Buy.

Submitted by Chris Verhoeven of Washington, DC.

Quick Smoke: Ashton Classic 8-9-8

23 Feb 2008

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

Ashton 898

Ashton’s consistently rate high at And why not? Their lines present consistently high-quality cigars. Ashton Classics, with Connecticut Shade wrappers and a Dominican blend of fillers, are touted as “a consistently pleasurable smoke for all cigar lovers.” That gets no argument from me. The 8-9-8 is a six and 1/2 inch stick with a 44 ring gauge for which I paid $7.25. The burn and draw were perfect and the mild to medium flavors were a rich mix of sweetness, hay, and light spice. A classic, indeed.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Ashton