Archive | March, 2008

Stogie Commentary: Making Sense of the Hype

24 Mar 2008

If you’re on any cigar mailing lists, or receive any catalogs, you’ve no doubt heard the story: A master tobacco blender discovers a cache of leaves hidden in a dusty corner of his factory. Curious about this long-lost supply, he rolls some of it up and – surprise, surprise – decides that it’s basically the greatest thing he’s ever tasted.

Tobacco LeavesOf all the silly narratives trotted out to hawk new cigar lines, this one seems to be popping up most frequently. If we are to believe it, then given the sheer number of “discoveries” made each month, cigar factories must be pretty shoddy operations – full of missing tobacco, abandoned buildings, and mismanaged supply chains.

It’s time to call BS on this myth. First of all, conditions in most cigar factories are heavily micromanaged. The idea that any supply of expensive, premium leaf – let alone enough to make 100,000 or more cigars – would go missing for a significant period of time is ludicrous. Second, methods for aging cigars are tightly monitored and rigorously controlled. If untouched, unsorted leaf in derelict shacks really matured better than tobacco under the normal aging process, what would be the point of that process? You get the idea. Placing this urban legend under even the slightest bit of scrutiny reveals its glaring implausibility.

What lesson can we learn from decoding the “treasure trove” myth and others like it? Quite simply, we realize that hype should not dictate our cigar purchases. Hype makes for some great reading material, but it should never inform significant investments in an already pricey hobby. Instead, we should buy cigars because we’ve done our homework. We’ve read reviews, scoured the message boards, boned up on the blogs, and solicited opinions from fellow enthusiasts.

Colorful ads are a sexy and enduring legacy of cigar culture. They will always be around, and we can always get a kick out of them. But we would do well to keep them in perspective – and so would our wallets. Until the day we happen upon a missing pile of perfectly aged, hand-rolled greenbacks in our basements, that is.

Jon N

photo credit: Flickr

Guest Quick Smoke: Camacho 10th Anniversary Torpedo

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

Previewed at the 2007 RTDA Convention and released this month, the Camacho 10th Anniversary held the promise of continuing the brand’s revitalization – and it delivers. This line is characterized by all the flavor and complexity of the Corojo Diploma line, but delivered in a medium-bodied blend that is much more approachable for the average smoker. Most interesting is the Torpedo (6.125″ x 54). This beautiful box-pressed vitolla has a great balance in filler vs. wrapper contribution. Its thin wrapper pays off in aroma and in the consistency of the burn. One of the few cigars on the market well worth the $12.25 price tag.

Verdict = Buy.

-Submitted by Skip Martin, Hava Cigar Shop and Lounge, Galveston, TX

Quick Smoke: Vegas Cubanas Invictos

22 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.

This Don Pepin production got a cosmetic makeover last year, apparently an effort to boost the line’s profile. I’m not sure that helped but – judged on its own merits – Vegas Cubanas is a good cigar. The Invictos is a five inch by 50 ring gauge robusto with a lovely Habano Rosado Claro wrapper and a blend that includes Cuban seed Corojo 99 and other Nicaraguan tobaccos. It is lighter than most of Pepin blends, though it begins with his typical pepper. That fades at the halfway point, replaced by a woody flavor. Unlike many of Pepin’s sticks, this one burned just fine. At $6, it’s worth a try.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler LXXXVIII

21 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.

Troops1) With the Iraq War entering its sixth year this week, now is another great time for cigar enthusiasts to think about sending a few spare sticks to the soldiers in the Middle East. One law enforcement official is doing his part: Instead of destroying seized counterfeit Cubans, as is protocol, a Michigan sheriff has decided to send them to overseas troops. A local shipping company has graciously offered its services to safely deliver the goods.

2) Jameson Cigar Co., a new operation, is introducing itself with a sweet deal: two cigars and a T-shirt for just the cost of shipping ($6). You can sign up for the offer here.

3) Around the Blogs: Cigar Jack reminds us to accept no ashtray substitutes. Cigar Inspector lights up an Opus X Robusto. Keepers of the Flame provides an aging report on the Camacho Havana Monarca. Cigar Monkey tries the Emilio Reyes Gold.

4) Deal of the Week: Spring is here and that means one thing: golf season. This Golf Sampler includes two cigars each from Padrón, Hoyo de Monterrey, H. Upmann, and three other brands. You also get a lighter, cutter, and some golf tees. Get yours here.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Reviews: Arturo Fuente Double Chateau Sun Grown

20 Mar 2008

As the weather warms and that winter chill gives way to a cool evening breeze, many cigar enthusiasts start opting for longer, bigger cigars in lieu shorter sticks. So when better to review the six and ¾ inch by 50 ring gauge Arturo Fuente Double Chateau Sun Grown than the first day of spring?

CigarThis large, silky smoke comes wrapped in a cedar sleeve from foot to band. The sleeve slides off easily to reveal a neat Ecuadorian wrapper and a dark, sweet aroma that is characteristic of sungrown tobacco – no surprise thanks to Fuente’s signature black ribbon. You can buy a box of 20 Double Chateaus from for $103.40 ($5.17 apiece).

After clipping the uniquely large cap and toasting the foot, the initial flavor is a tad salty, but evens out with some toffee undertones. Sweetened coffee rounds out the finish into the second third and, if you’re really paying attention, you might pick up on some citrus.

Spicy peppercorn, syrupy tobacco, and cedar tastes dominate down the stretch with a little bitterness coming into play at the very end. All in all, this cigar’s Dominican binder and filler tobaccos nicely complement the sungrown wrapper – a pleasant pairing that produces volumes of thin, flavorful smoke.

The burn performs well during the 90-120 minute smoke, but a few Double Chateaus required touch-ups in breezy conditions. The draw is just about right, if not slightly firm.
And the ash holds as well as you would expect from a Fuente.

Overall, this is an impressive mild- to medium-bodied cigar with a lot of interesting flavor to offer at a reasonable price. It is well-balanced, smooth, relaxing, and satisfying.

Sungrown enthusiasts who require long breaks would do well to work this into their regular rotation. We give the Arturo Fuente Double Chateau Sun Grown four 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 & George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Commentary: Smoking, Drinking, and Thinking

19 Mar 2008

I was smoking a cigar the other day with a cup of coffee. About a third of the way into the stick, it dawned on me that I wasn’t enjoying this one as much as I normally do. I drained the coffee cup and picked up a soft drink and, almost at once, the cigar began to taste better.

Rolled LeafNaturally, it made me think about drinks and smokes and writing for I know there are smokers who think, for instance, that it’s a mistake to drink anything other than water when evaluating a cigar. Some think a review shouldn’t be attempted before smoking at least three of the cigar or that a review needs to contain data such as the time of day the cigar was smoked and what other cigars were smoked previously. I find that kind of information interesting sometimes, too, but you won’t always see it in what I write here.

For starters, I don’t think of myself as a “cigar reviewer.” All I’ve got to do is read and listen to some of the real experts out there to know I’m not qualified for such an appellation. Instead, I consider myself a fellow smoker who goes out of his way to keep up with what’s happening in the cigar industry, to try many different sticks, and to let you know what I think of them – much like someone in the neighboring leather chair at your local B&M might recommend a cigar or offer words of warning as you venture into the humidor.

Sometimes that involves giving you my impressions after smoking a single stick; at other times my thoughts are formed after smoking a dozen or more. Among the things I really like about our format is the flexibility it provides. I can write a full review when it seems appropriate or just give you a short Quick Smoke if that works best. And when readers write in with their thoughts, reactions, questions, etc., it makes it all even better.

For me, smoking cigars and writing about them is a pleasure. I don’t want to be locked in to procedures that would dictate how I do it. The last thing I want to do is turn cigar smoking into work.

George E

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Review: Indian Tabac Nonpareil Toro

18 Mar 2008

IT NonpareilThe French word “nonpareil” literally means “unparalleled,” or “without equal.” I didn’t find the Indian Tabac Nonpareil to be that, exactly. But at $3 per stick, this well-crafted six inch by 52 ring gauge Toro certainly offers a decent value for a modest price.

The Nonpareil is a Nicaraguan puro sold in either a Connecticut shade or a Natural wrapper. I opted for the darker Natural. With a rich brown color, tight roll, and nearly veinless body, this was certainly a good-looking cigar. Pre-light aromas from the foot and the freshly cut head revealed hints of cocoa, butter, and leather. I lit up the stogie and was immediately greeted by a soft air of wood and tobacco.

The initial flavor of the cigar was of leather and faintly burnt cedar – not an altogether complex combination, but certainly acceptable for a $3 smoke. Unfortunately, this combination persisted, more or less unchanged, throughout my two-hour smoke. Toward the middle third, a grassy tone and peppery aftertaste made an appearance. But these new flavors did little to offset the boredom of having experienced the same taste, over and over, for as long as I had.

Perhaps I’m asking too much of this bargain-priced cigar. But I’ve come to expect a great deal from any stick bearing a Rocky Patel brand, much less a “nonpareil” boast.

Still, I don’t want to shortchange the Nonpareil. It is a serviceable, enjoyable, economical cigar that neither asks for, nor requires, your undivided attention. It will make a fine companion on the golf course or at the poker table, so I give the Indian Tabac Nonpareil Toro three out of five stogies.

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

Jon N

photo credit: Stogie Guys