Archive | June, 2008

Stogie Reviews: Romeo y Julieta Short Churchill (Cuban)

30 Jun 2008

The “short Churchill” format strikes me as a very Cuban concept. After all, as far as the size goes, it’s really nothing more than a classic robusto size. By naming this robusto a Short Churchill, it calls to mind a longer, less rushed smoking experience that characterizes the 7 inch Chuchill size.

The Romeo y Julieta Short Churchill was introduced in 2006 at the 8th annual Habanos Festival in Havana, Cuba. It has dimensions similar to that of a robusto: 4 and 7/8 inches by 50 ring gauge. This is different from the classic Romeo y Julieta Exhibición No. 4 which, while also a robusto, is a slightly longer and slightly thinner 5 inches by 48.

The Cuban features double gold-embossed bands that give the cigar a regal appearance and frame a shiny, golden caramel-colored wrapper. The leaf is attractive despite some prominent veins, and the well-proportioned cigar is firm to the touch.

Once I lit, the Short Churchill greets me with a medley of flavors including coffee, cream, leather, honey, and graham cracker. It is medium-bodied and tremendously well-balanced. An easy draw makes it easy to enjoy.

As the cigar progressed, I found strong cedar notes moved in, but never so much as to overpower the rest of the flavors. The smoke lasted for close to an hour and never became bitter or harsh, even as I carefully removed both bands and smoked it down to the nub.

The construction was equally impressive. The ash was solid gray and firm, and the burn was even with a black shiny mascara leading the way.

I’ve read reports that production problems have plagued Romeo y Julieta, and I have even heard that later versions of the Short Churchill featured a box press. However, I found none of these problems in the four cigars I smoked for this review.

I did find that aging helped this cigar become even better. After six months of humidor time, the cream and coffee notes were even more pronounced, adding another layer of depth to this already complex smoke.

Like most Cuban cigars, this one isn’t inexpensive (especially with the inflated American dollar). But for just around $10 per cigar ($111 for a box of ten, or $221 for a box of 25) the price is more than fair for this exquisite smoke.

As much as I try, I can’t find anything wrong with this cigar. The format is fantastic, the blend sweet and complex, and the construction flawless. For all that and more, the Romeo y Julieta Short Churchill earns a rating of five out of five stogies.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Oliva Serie G Cameroon Figurado

29 Jun 2008

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

There’s a tradoff with the 6 inch Oliva Figurado: The nifty, old-world shape closes in the foot so you don’t get the wonderful pre-light aroma that wafts from its more open siblings. But this stick is a slow-smoking, smooth, joy of a cigar. As with the others in this line, it is a bargain at less than $4.50. And there’s just something about a well-rolled figurado that makes it special.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Oliva

Quick Smoke: Montecristo Classic Toro

28 Jun 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 attractive Toro features a flawless Connecticut shade wrapper and impressive construction qualities. The burn is razor-sharp and highlighted by a bright black mascara line. Fortunately, the cigar tastes as good as it looks. Though mild in strength, it has a pleasant sweet grass flavor with honey and a hint of spice, and it features the same marshmallow notes as the Robusto (pictured).

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler CVI

27 Jun 2008

In our ongoing effort to make as entertaining and informative as possible, each Friday we’ll post a mixed bag of quick cigar news and other snippets of interest. We call ‘em Friday Samplers. Enjoy.

1) How could a leather cigar case prompt a major political scandal? Well, it certainly wouldn’t hurt if the former owner of the case was Tarik Aziz, Iraq’s former deputy prime minister under Saddam Hussein. And it would also be helpful if the current owner is the mayor of London (pictured).

2) The City Council in Thousand Oaks, California unanimously voted to ban smoking in “outdoor gathering places” yesterday. The law is intended to “reduce exposure to secondhand smoke in outdoor settings.” Can you imagine a more absurd assertion?

3) Inside the Industry: CAO is introducing a “Four for the Fourth” sampler of its America line, featuring two new sizes: a box-pressed Robusto and a “Reverse Torpedo.” Continuing the lancero trend, La Aurora is rolling out production of the long, slender cigars in its Preferidos line. The Griffin’s made by Davidoff has released its 2008 limited edition cigar, a Torpedo that will run $11 per stick.

4) Around the Blogs: Stogie Review reviews a CI Legends Purple (Graycliff). Cigar Jack lights up a Punch Grand Cru Maduro. Velvet Cigar smokes a La Riqueza. Cigar Spy tries the Gurkha Legend.

5) Deal of the Week: Once again we feel it necessary to draw your attention to some real bargains from our friends at Cuban Crafters. In honor of Independence Day, they’ve cut prices on some of our favorites, including the Cabinet Selection, Don Kiki White Label, and Cupido. Check out the deals here.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: BBC

Stogie Reviews: La Gloria Cubana Reserva Figurados Flechas Especiales Maduro

26 Jun 2008

With a full name that weighs in at a whopping 22 syllables, you’re better off simply calling this stick “delicious.” That adjective, after all, is a more apt description of the cigar (not to mention a lot easier to utter in a single breath).

“This line of smokes is essentially La Gloria Cubana’s take on Fuente’s Hemingway idea,” wrote our friend Chris in a February Guest Quick Smoke. “All the vitolas are perfecto-shaped (barring the pyramid) and are comprised of top-tier tobaccos with specialized and extensive aging.”

The blend includes a sungrown Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper, a four-year-old Nicaraguan binder, and filler tobaccos from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. General Cigar says the five Maduro vitolas “derive their distinctive taste from a special cedar aging process.” Only 1,000 boxes of each size are produced annually, and only “level seven” rollers work on Reserva Figurados under the supervision of the legendary Ernesto Perez-Carrillo.

Judging by the stogie’s impressive appearance, “level seven” must be the designation for the black belts of cigar rollers. The 6.5 inch by 49 ring gauge Flechas Especiales has the look of a winner with a smooth, oily wrapper. Tightly packed, it exudes attention- grabbing pre-light notes of sweet cocoa and coffee, and the yellow band serves as a nice contrast to the dark leaf.

The unique shape offers more than mere aesthetics; it also enhances the smoking experience. The tiny foot makes establishing an even light very easy, which yields a powerful taste of freshly ground black pepper. A cedar spice also comes roaring through, only to smooth out after the first few inches. The meaty flavor takes on burnt steak-like qualities in the final third.

I’ve always thought it is a little more fun to smoke figurados, so take note of how the straight and true burn works its way down the cigar. The draw is on the tighter side (though not necessarily an encumbrance) and the white, finely layered ash holds firm.

When it’s all said and done, this top-quality, full-bodied cigar is a real treat—with or without all the syllables. You can find these for $100-145 per box of 20 or $6-8 apiece, and that’s a pretty fair price. One last word to the wise: The La Gloria Cubana Reserva Figurados Flechas Especiales Maduro isn’t for the timid, so have a few stiff drinks along the way to loosen your nerves. I did, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and I give it four out of five stogies.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Commentary: Cigar Aficionado’s Reviews Are Illegal?

25 Jun 2008

Cigar Aficionado recently released a series of videos on their website about the process they use to review the dozens of cigars that are rated in every issue of the magazine. The problem is, under New York State law, every review is probably illegal.

You see, cigars are usually smoked in their New York offices. They say they make a point of always smoking their cigars in the same place to ensure that the environment isn’t affecting the ratings.

This is a problem because the New York State Clean Indoor Air Act (Public Health Law, Article 13-E) “prohibits smoking in virtually all workplaces.” Unlike an exemption-filled New York City law, the state law does include a few exemptions (including for “retail tobacco businesses” and “cigar bars”), but none that would seem to exempt a magazine’s office (unless the pages of CA are actually printed on paper made from tobacco, which would make the magazine a tobacco retailer).

So, unfortunately, the facts are clear: Technically Cigar Aficionado is likely violating the New York State law. But as you might guess, my purpose in making this observation isn’t to get the magazine in trouble, but to show just how absurd anti-smoking laws are.

The employees of Cigar Aficionado, many of whom are the ones doing the “illegal” smoking, clearly didn’t decide to work there to be in a smoke-free environment. In fact, the writers were chosen for their expertise in cigars, and Cigar Aficionado‘s employees all knew that they would be working in a smoke-filled environment. After all, the word “cigar” is right on the front door.

In other words, there is no victim if and when Cigar Aficionado violates New York State’s smoking ban. Except that having a ridiculous, victimless law on the books diminishes public respect for laws in general. There won’t be—and shouldn’t be—anyone beating down Cigar Aficionado‘s doors to demand that they stop smoking.

Here at, we regularly focus on smoking bans in bars, cigar lounges, and cigar parties, but workplace smoking bans are just as wrong. Surely most employers would, as they rightfully should be able to, ban smoking in the workplace.

And that fact goes to show just how unnecessary and unfair workplace smoking bans are. Instead of letting freedom of choice work by allowing most places to ban smoking voluntarily, one-size-fits-all smoking bans are now affecting places where no reasonable person would ever suggest that smoking should be banned.

Now let’s all light up a cigar in honor of violating unjust cigar bans everywhere!

Patrick S

[Editor’s Note: The article has been updated to reflect the complicated nature of Byzantine anti-tobacco laws and to distinguish between the New York State and New York City smoking bans. Additionally, we have contacted Cigar Aficionado for comment.]

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Tips: Pick Up a Ronson JetLite or Three

24 Jun 2008

As I wrote in January when I recommended readers check out the Zippo Blu lighter, “every cigar enthusiast should have at least one good butane lighter” because “certain situations just call for a burst of clean-burning flame.” All this from the same old-fashioned guy who repeatedly extols the virtues of wooden matches.

As much as I enjoy the novelty of my Zipp Blu, I have to admit it’s a bit finicky. Cold weather seems to diminish its performance, the flame requires a short recharge break before it will ignite again, and replacing the flint every month isn’t all that fun. That’s why, time and again, I find myself reaching for my Ronson JetLite instead.

This product shouldn’t be unfamiliar to regular readers. We first recommended the refillable, windproof lighter in December 2006 and have mentioned it off and on since. But many of the enthusiasts I meet still have never heard of this particular lighter and are always amazed when I tell them about it. In any event, I thought a full post was merited for several reasons.

First, mine has been working exceptionally well. Flame adjustment is a cinch and I haven’t run into the same problems that often befall many other butane lighters—including inconsistency and a general lack of durability. Granted, I haven’t owned a Ronson for a terribly long time (George E was nice enough to send one up from Florida a few months ago), but I’ve really put it to the test.

Second, and perhaps most importantly, the JetLite is surprisingly inexpensive. It sells for under $3 at Wal-Mart (look for them at the register that displays goodies like cigars, cigarettes, and lighters). This is an important quality in an item that often gets lost between seat cushions or “accidentally” commandeered by fellow smokers.

Finally, this lighter proves you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on fancy cigar lighters and other gadgets to get the most out of your smoking experience. You just need to be informed and prepared.

So go ahead and pick up a few Ronson JetLites—for your home, your car, your golf bag, etc. You never know when or where you’ll need one, and you can certainly afford to have several on hand.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys