Archive | September, 2008

Stogie Reviews: Wango Tango Biggie

30 Sep 2008

The name for this cigar line, says company chief Darryl Lieser, “was conceived as something that was fun, edgy, and reminiscent of the good times we had when we were in high school and college.” And this vitola—aptly named at 6.5 inches in length with a ring gauge of 54—would undoubtedly last a long way into a Friday night fraternity party.

It’s one of two new blends from Isla de Cuba, though unlike the Blend 376, the simple silver Wango Tango band carries nothing to identify it with the company. One promotion to introduce it for the October rollout, according to Lieser, will be a four-pack sampler with all three lines that sells for under $10.

Lieser, whose initial Isla de Cuba was inspired by a pre-revolution Cuban Montecristo No. 3, said he was trying to achieve a medium- to full-bodied smoke with the Wango Tango. (The Tampa-based manufacturer launched in February with Classic and Aged Maduro blends.)

“It was inspired by the unique blending process of super-premium distilled spirits, by using the finest, small batch tobacco harvests available,” Lieser wrote in an email. While the wrapper and binder are Connecticut broadleaf, the company identifies the filler only as a proprietary blend from four countries. In addition to the Biggie, which lists for $6.95, Wango Tango comes in one longer and two shorter sizes that range in price from $5.95 to $7.25.

I found the construction to be excellent, with an interesting white ash and a good burn. That last point is important with a cigar this large because it lasts so long you’re almost certain to have to set it down a few times for one reason or another.

The most prominent taste was leather, with a little sweetness edging in at about the halfway point. Strength increased a bit in the final third, and I found that to be the most enjoyable part of the cigar. As with most large cigars I’ve smoked, it was a little difficult to stay interested from start to finish. Ultimately, though, the Wango Tango Biggie earns a solid rating of three and a half stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Reviews: Bolivar Royal Corona (Cuban)

29 Sep 2008

Call it quality or call it hype, but I’m never surprised when I see Cubans rated highly in mainstream cigar publications. I think the greater stogie community, however, was caught off guard when a Bolivar—not considered one of Habanos SA’s flagship brands—was named Cigar of the Year by Cigar Aficionado in 2006.

The four and 7/8 inch by 50 ring gauge Royal Corona earned that title, along with a rating of 94, for its “sophisticated flavor bomb of smoke with an array of rich character, including touches of chocolate, coffee, and leather.” You can watch Gordon Mott and James Suckling of CA profess their admiration in this video.

Produced at the H. Upmann factory in relatively limited quantities (only 300,000 were made in 2006), this cigar has been hailed as symbolic of Cuba’s return to glory and reminiscent of Habanos from the golden ’80s and ’90s. Textured, clean, and firm, a slight box press and a beautifully adhered flat cap add to its character and mystique.

I’ve had the good fortune to smoke six Royal Coronas over the past few months, and I’m happy to report all the accolades and rave reviews are well deserved. This is simply one of the most satisfying cigars around, and the price—about $10 for a single or $215 for a box of 25—is very fair for the tremendous, full-bodied experience.

If the radiant prelight aromas of nuts and milk chocolate don’t make you salivate, toasting the foot certainly will. From there, you’ll find a dry, woody spice with hints of cocoa sweetness. Other tastes also pop in and out, including leather, coffee, and plenty of floral notes.

Aside from being extremely well-balanced and complex, this exquisite smoke doesn’t fall into the same construction traps with which many of its Cuban cousins grapple. The ash holds well, the draw is clear and deliberate, and the burn, albeit imperfect, self-corrects its own missteps. Expect the slow smoke time to be closer to a toro than a robusto.

Awards and ratings aside, this is the sort of creation that makes me proud to be a cigar enthusiast. I’m simply infatuated with the Bolivar Royal Corona, and I have no qualms about adding a rating of five out of five stogies to its growing trophy case.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: EO 601 Serie “Green” La Punta

28 Sep 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 perfecto (5.5 x 52) features the same oily oscuro wrapper as it’s robusto-sized compatriot, the La Fuerza, one of my all-time favorite cigars. It features the same full flavors of leather, pepper, and earth, and the construction is also flawless. Still, I can’t help but think that La Punta doesn’t have the same complexity or strength. But I can still recommend this stick to anyone who enjoys a lively, full-bodied smoke.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Perdomo Habano Connecticut Toro

27 Sep 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 extension of the Perdomo Habano line features a beautiful honey blonde wrapper and a mix of Nicaraguan filler. The most outstanding characteristic of the Toro (5.5 x 54) is how smooth it smokes. But don’t mistake the Connecticut shade wrapper for a bland smoke; while it isn’t particularly strong, it is full and satisfying. At $5.50 a stick, it’s worth a try.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler CXIX

26 Sep 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) After failing in the state legislature, Michigan’s proposed statewide smoking ban will likely be off the docket until 2009. Chris McCalla of IPCPR penned a scathing refute of Michigan legislators’ attempts to enact the law, arguing that deceptive anti-smoking groups are misleading politicians and the public about the so-called dangers of secondhand smoke. He also claims an all-out ban would devastate tobacco retailers, “pillars of the communities they serve…[that] provide thousands of jobs and pay millions of dollars annually in payroll, sales, and excise taxes.”

2) Pete Johnson of Tatuaje supposedly released a “secret cigar” called El Triunfador. Cigar Aficionado reports the stick doesn’t appear on any price sheets or websites, but “started mysteriously finding its way to retailers and smokers in the beginning of September.”

3) Don’t plan on smoking—not even outdoors—if you’re one of the 110,000 college students in the 14 public universities in Pennsylvania. A spokesperson for the state’s higher education bureaucracy said, “We ultimately interpreted the [Pennsylvania smoking ban] to require a campus-wide ban.”

4) Inside the Industry: Don Pepin is partnering with Nestor Miranda to make the Nestor Miranda Signature Selection. Padilla opened its new factory and lounge in Little Havana, Miami. A number of Habanos Limited Edición cigars are now available in tubos. CAO is launching a “Rock and Rolled Tour.”

5) Around the Blogs: Cigar Jack smokes the Isla de Cuba Classic. Keepers of the Flame lights up a Cubao No. 5. Stogie Review torches a Macanudo 1968. Her Humidor tries the Reyes Family Classic.

6) Deal of the Week: Sure we have two presidential candidates who favor various anti-tobacco laws, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the Presidential Sampler. For just $49.99 you get ten super-premium cigars, many of which normally retail for $10-15, including the Cohiba Robusto, Montecristo Churchill, Graycliff 1666 PGX, Romeo y Julieta Viejo, and the Gurkha Legend Churchill. Grab yours here today.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Spirits: Angostura 1919 Rum

25 Sep 2008

As I suggested in previous writings on Rhum Barbancourt and El Dorado, perhaps nothing is as calming as kicking back with a fine sipping rum and a well-paired cigar. And, for my money, perhaps no rum on the face of the Earth is quite as relaxing as Angostura 1919.

Oddly enough, this Trinidad & Tobago-based company is better known for its aromatic bitters—highly concentrated food and beverage flavorings—than its rum. Angostura’s beginnings can be traced back to 1824 when a surgeon general in Simón Bolívar’s Venezuelan army sought to improve the appetite and digestive well-being of the soldiers. It wasn’t until 1947 that Angostura began to ferment, distill, age, blend, and bottle rum in Laventille, Trinidad. According to the company’s history, today Angostura produces over 600,000 cases of rum each year, most of which is shipped to America, Great Britain, and other islands in the Caribbean.

Angostura 1919 is an “añejo made from a blend of light and heavy molasses-based rums aged for a minimum of eight years in charred American oak bourbon barrels.” I picked up a 750 ml. bottle (40% alcohol) for $28. With its square-ish (dare I say box-pressed?) shape, protruding black cork, and golden clarity, the bottle jumps out at you as you walk down the rum aisle.

I find the flavor to be sweet and spicy on the nose with a dry profile that includes caramel, vanilla, and toast. The long, smooth finish opens up after a few seconds to reveal a soothing, rounded heat.

This rum’s subtle complexity can be overshadowed by most full-bodied cigars, so my pairing recommendation is to stick with something in the medium-bodied range. A few winning combinations include La Aurora 1495, CAO L’Anniversaire Cameroon, and Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure. For the blend’s reserved density, though, perhaps the best complementary match I found is with a Cuban Crafters Medina 1959.

I’ll end by noting that Angostura also offers an 1824 blend of more mature rums at a cost of about $55 per 750 ml. bottle (40% alcohol). I look forward to trying that out and reporting back to you. Meanwhile, don’t be afraid to purchase a bottle of 1919; it is affordable and definitely tasty enough to sip neat or on the rocks.

Patrick A

photo credits: Stogie Guys

Stogie Commentary: Nine Reasons to Buy More Cigars

24 Sep 2008

Sure it is tough times economically right now, but that shouldn’t deter you from buying cigars. In case you have any doubts (or need help convincing someone that now is the right tome to stock up), here are nine reasons you should be increasing your cigar reserves right now:

Hurricanes, Floods, and LocustsHurricanes and other natural disasters (including insect infestations or mold) could strike tobacco producing countries at any time, devastating the tobacco crop, limiting supply, and driving up the prices of whatever remains. If you have enough cigars before disaster hits, you can ride out the storm.

Stupid Politicians — They’re only one vote away from levying a massive tax on cigars or outright banning our combustible tobacco treats. There is, however, one sure way to avoid paying the taxes of the future (or having to purchase black market cigars of questionable origin): Start storing up now.

Food and Booze — Enjoying some fine dining or top shelf booze? Everyone knows that a good meal or great spirit is made better when followed by, or enjoyed with, a good cigar. You’re practically throwing your money away every time you eat or drink and fail to top it off with a fine smoke.

Cheap — I’ve said it before: Cigars are cheap compared to most entertainment and would still be even if prices doubled tomorrow (not that I’m in favor of that). Think about it, a trip to the movies can can run $40 for two people, a baseball game twice that much. Yet for five or ten dollars, you can smoke a cigar for an hour or two. Basic economics tells us when something is so under-priced it should be bought up.

Aging — Cigars, at least many good ones, get better with age. Months, years, or even decades can do wonders for the flavor of a fine stogie. The problem is waiting for the cigars to age without smoking them all. Fortunately, there is a solution: Buy so many cigars that it’ll take years to smoke them all.

Celebrations — There are countless reasons to celebrate, and many often come up unexpected. The only way to be prepared is to have a massive stash of cigars ready to go. After all, you can’t plan a drunken Vegas wedding…but you can have enough smokes on hand to celebrate the occasion.

Investment — The stock market is tanking, mortgages are defaulting, and inflation is killing the dollar, but cigars remain a good investment. Think about it. If you bought a box of Opus X cigars one year ago, it would have out-performed pretty much every stock in the Dow Jones. And given all the reasons on this list, demand (and thus prices) will only go up.

Bargains — Nearly everyday there is a great deal on one website or another, or at your local B&M (not to mention the “Deal of the Week” featured in every Friday Sampler). Any of these could expire tomorrow, leaving you stuck paying more for a cigar than you otherwise would have. Therefore, it is always smart to take advantage of these deals, right?

Idiot Repellent — Let’s face it: There are a lot of dumb, annoying people around, and the dumber and more annoying, the more likely they are to give you their unsolicited, unwanted, and uninformed opinions. Fortunately, these stupid people are also the most likely to be annoyed by the wonderful aroma of a fine cigar, making smoking the perfect way to keep such undesirables away.

Got a better reason for buying cigars now? Let us know in the comments.

Patrick S

photo credit: Flickr