Archive | March, 2008

Stogie Review: Graycliff Crystal PGX

31 Mar 2008

Graycliff is a brand I’d never tried until recently, for unfortunate but obvious reasons. From Profesionale to Château Grand Cru, these cigars are notoriously hard to find, and they’re offered at prices only the richest sheikhs in Qatar would find reasonable. I received my five-pack of Graycliff Crystal PGXs as a gift so, thankfully, I was spared the $22-per-unit sticker shock that would have accompanied an actual purchase.

Graycliff Crystal PGXNow, when I take possession of five exorbitantly pricey cigars, I leave nothing to chance. I go to great lengths to maintain them, and eventually to enjoy them at what I anticipate to be their peak condition. Such was the case for this review. When I finally pulled my Graycliffs out of the humidor, they’d been resting for about six months and were coated with a layer of fine, white plume.

Each six inch by 50 ring gauge stick is quite the sight to see: tightly wrapped, yet almost bulging at the seams. The light brown, sun-grown Ecuadorian wrapper is smooth and moderately oily. A few light veins run vertically down the length of the cigar, but in an unobtrusive and visually pleasing way. The gold and white label lends a very elegant and refined touch. A delicate nose of coffee, cloves, and aged tobacco drifts up from the foot. All in all, this thing practically oozes luxury.

“Looks are all well and good,” you’re probably thinking, “but how does this pretty little bastard smoke?”

Quite impressively, I’d say, albeit with minor kinks here and there. The initial flavor is quite mellow – sort of a thin, tantalizing wisp of graham, honey, vanilla, and spice. This delicate profile, borne on a very mild body, lasts for about the first third of the cigar. By the second third, the smoke picks up a medium strength, and a nutty flavor dominates the palate. Stronger spice and a longer finish make up the final third and, by that point, a very noticeable nicotine buzz kicks in. If you’re not the slightest bit lightheaded after nubbing one of these babies, you should donate your body to science.

Now, about those “minor kinks” I mentioned earlier. The burn has a real tendency to canoe. I had to make five or six significant corrections throughout the 90 minutes that I savored each stick. When you’re trying to enjoy a serene, meditative experience with a smoke of this caliber, the last thing you want to be doing is babysitting an unruly burn.

If I were judging this cigar on flavor and aesthetics alone, I might be tempted to give it a perfect score. But because of its burn problems, inexcusable as they are for a $22 stick, the Graycliff Crystal PGX receives four out of five stogies.

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

Jon N

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Montecristo Cabinet Selección Belicoso

30 Mar 2008

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

Montecristo Cabinet Selección Belicoso

With classic looks and a classic size, this cigar earned an impressive four and 1/2 stogie rating when we reviewed it back in October. When I recently revisited it, I found the same full-bodied richness with plenty of pepper and earth. The construction was also top-notch, with a particularly noteworthy firm white ash.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Davidoff Grand Cru No. 3

29 Mar 2008

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

Davidoff Grand Cru No. 3

It seems like ages since I reviewed this Dominican back in August 2006, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been enjoying more. The classic blend of Olor, San Vicente, and Piloto Cubano tobaccos yields a finely balanced, smooth toasted flavor in a compact five inch by 43 ring gauge format. The lofty price tag puts this cigar out of the everyday smoke category (don’t expect to pay less than $10), but sometimes you just have to treat yourself.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler LXXXIX

28 Mar 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.

Baltimore Cigars1) Cigar smokers are getting hit hard as the slumping U.S. economy seems headed for a recession. Since many B&Ms get their inventories from Europe, prices are on the rise with the dollar at an all-time low to the Euro. And while total premium cigar imports increased about eight percent in 2007, holiday sales were lower than expected, casting uncertainty on 2008 shipment projections.

2) With business suffering thanks to Maryland’s smoking ban, Baltimore County tavern owners are seeking an exemption for enclosed decks, patios, and other outdoor structures of bars and restaurants. The bi-partisan bill won the support of a state Senate committee this week, but – not surprisingly – anti-tobacco zealots are up in arms. “Anything that would dismantle anything built into [the smoking ban] would be horrible,” said one “health” activist. (To think there used to be a Lord Baltimore cigar brand!)

3) Camacho Cigars is offering $2,500 and boxes of their new 10th Anniversary line as prizes for a new contest. All you have to do is create your very own Camacho commercial. More details can be found here.

4) Around the Blogs: Cigar Jack checks out an El Mejor Emerald. Cigar Inspector inspects a Camacho Corojo. Stogie Baby smokes a Tatuaje Havana. Keepers of the Flame lights up a Camacho 1962. Stogie Review reviews the Indian Tobac Split Decision Quad.

5) Deal of the Week: If you like Pete Johnson and Don Pepin Garcia’s Tatuaje brand, you should be drooling over this “Ultimate Tatuaje Sampler.” The deal includes ten of the best (and most impossible to find) Tatuajes for just $89.99 – a bargain considering the double-digit price tag of most of these singles. You can grab yours here.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: iOffer

Stogie News: Defense of Property, Defiance of Smoking Bans

27 Mar 2008

It should come as no surprise to regular readers that government-mandated smoking bans and the anti-tobacco zealots who advocate them get no sympathy here. We’ve made no secret of the fact that such invasive bans limit choice, violate private property, and are justified only by shoddy “science.”

Cigar and DrinksSo when I come across interesting stories about bar owners who either outright defy or creatively sidestep smoking bans, I have to applaud them. These entrepreneurs are rightfully taking steps to regain control of the establishments they risked so much for and worked so hard to open – much to the chagrin of bureaucrats and tobacco-hating buffoons. Below are three of my favorite smoking ban defiance stories from recent headlines; they range from courageous to downright ingenious:

1. Colorado Springs, CO: “Several bar owners around Colorado Springs refuse to go smoke free despite the state-wide smoking ban that’s been in effect for nearly two years. The owner of Murray Street Darts, Bruce Hicks, says he’s not stopping his customers from lighting up. He does however ask that they donate $1 if they do decide to smoke inside his bar. Hicks says he’s using the money to pay smoking tickets and lawyers. Hicks has been going to court to battle his smoking tickets and he believes he’s winning. ‘I’ve gotten 23 tickets and 19 of them have been dismissed so far,’ said Hicks.”

2. Blackpool, United Kingdom: “Hamish Howitt, 55, of Park Road, Blackpool, denied five counts of failing to prevent smoking in his Del Boy Sports Bar. Howitt, a non-smoker, was fined £1,950 and told to pay £2,000 costs. On Wednesday, Preston Magistrates’ Court was told that officers from Blackpool Council found Del Boy’s ‘thick with smoke’ on five occasions in November 2007. A board outside the premises read: ‘Our political conscience will not allow to put smokers and non-smokers on the street. It’s our choice.’ Howitt, who represented himself, said the Health Act 2006 was ruining his business and had left him ‘on the verge of bankruptcy.’”

3. Maplewood, MN: “A new state ban on smoking in restaurants and other nightspots contains an exception for performers in theatrical productions, as long as patrons are notified in advance. So some bars are getting around the ban by printing up playbills, encouraging customers to come in costume, and pronouncing them ‘actors.’ The customers are playing right along, merrily puffing away – and sometimes speaking in funny accents and doing a little improvisation, too. The state Health Department is threatening to bring the curtain down on these sham productions. But for now, it’s on with the show.”

Patrick A

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Reviews: Oliva Serie G Cameroon Toro

26 Mar 2008

Oliva Serie G Cameroon ToroDon’t be too quick to clip and light this Cameroon-wrapped cigar. If you do, you’ll miss the chance to enjoy its delicious, mouth-watering pre-light aroma. It’s a great start for a fine cigar.

While much of the cigar industry often seems focused on producing limited edition sticks at higher and higher prices, Oliva continues to offer cigars that are not just easy on the wallet, but excellent in quality regardless of price. If you are a Cameroon fan, as I am, it’s hard to believe that you can buy this six inch by 50 ring gauge smoke for around $3.25.

After that wonderful aroma, the initial taste is smooth and a little spicy. That quickly settles down and the creamy smoke becomes toasty and almost buttery. About halfway down, a little leather and cocoa waft in and out. The smoke is plentiful. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better complement to a cup of coffee.

In addition to the African Cameroon wrapper, this Toro features a Cuban-seed Habano binder and a Nicaraguan Habano filler – just like the “Special” vitola. Construction is excellent. I wasn’t surprised when the delicate wrapper developed a couple of small splits, but I was pleased that the burn went past them without a problem.

With a tobacco history going back more than 120 years in Cuba, the Oliva family is proud of their heritage and the cigars they make. Last year, Cigar Aficionado (which consistently praises Oliva) reported that the company makes about 5.5 million Oliva cigars annually at its Estelí factory. I’d recommend they crank out a few more of these wonderful Cameroons.

I give the Oliva Serie G Cameroon Toro four and ½ out of five stogies.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Reviews: EO 601 Serie “Blue” Toro

25 Mar 2008

When I named the EO 601 Serie “Green” one of my Gold Star Smokes back in December, I wasn’t exactly going out on a limb. Since it was introduced at last year’s RTDA trade show, the cigar community has widely embraced it as an outstanding, full-bodied powerhouse, and I haven’t met many who disagree.

EO 601 Serie “Blue” ToroBut the oscuro Green can be a bit overwhelming, even for some seasoned cigar veterans. If you fall into this category, I would highly recommend trying the 601 Serie “Blue,” the second strongest in Erik Espinoza and Eddie Ortega’s popular Pepin-blended line of Nicaraguans.

With an oily, practically vein-free Habano maduro wrapper, the Blue is Pepin’s first box press and also his first maduro. Like the Green, it isn’t hard to find praise on the web or elsewhere for this Estelí-made cigar.

The Toro measures a hearty six and ¼ inches with a 52 ring gauge and sells in the $7.40 to $8.50 range. Without its flashy, detailed band, it bears a striking resemblance to an RP Vintage ’90 of the same size.

The smoke starts with Pepin’s signature burst of pepper followed by savory dark chocolate notes. A natural sweetness is present, along with a taste akin to roasted nuts – not dissimilar to the Green.

The Blue, however, isn’t nearly as strong. You’ll find lots of well-balanced flavor, but little of that “Whoa, I need to sit down” feeling. The rich, bountiful tastes remain fairly consistent through the second third, and the finish sees a small increase in bitterness.

Of the six Toros I smoked for this review, half required some touch-ups to keep the burn even and half did just fine on their own. All sported a firm ash and a clear draw throughout the 70- to 90-minute smoke.

All things considered, I am once again impressed with the performance from United Tobacco’s 601 line. I hesitate to chalk up the Blue as an instant classic, but it is no doubt an excellent alternative for smokers who need something stronger than the Red but lighter than the Green. I give the EO 601 Serie “Blue” Toro four out of five stogies.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys