Archive | July, 2009

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler CLII

31 Jul 2009

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post a mixed bag of quick cigar news and other items of interest. We call ‘em Friday Samplers. Enjoy.

The Perfect Cigar Storm1) Today’s excessive taxes and wide-reaching bans, coupled with the ramifications of the economic crisis, have created a perfect storm of problems for many cigar makers. While industry-wide particulars are hard to come by, this recent USA Today article sheds some light on the fallout to date. It also profiles Flor de Gonzalez, a Miami-based manufacturer that recently saw its tax bill shipment increase by 700%. Of the government, company president Yadi Gonzalez had this to say: “They don’t realize that…if we start losing jobs, and imports begin to drop, they’re not going to accomplish their bottom line, which is to collect these taxes.”

2) Inside the Industry: CAO announced it would debut a new brand at the upcoming IPCPR Trade Show called La Traviata, a full-bodied blend complete with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a Cameroon binder, and two different ligero filler tobaccos. Other pre-convention announcements include the planned unveiling of the Padilla Dominus—Ernesto’s strongest blend to date—and a new Casa Magna Colorado vitola called the Extraordinario (7 x 58).

3) Around the Blogs: Keepers of the Flame compares both versions of the Padilla Signature 1932. The Velvet Cigar tries a Felipe Gregorio Moroccan Series. Nice Tight Ash reviews the El Triunfador. Cigar Inspector sparks a Quintero Londres Extra. Stogie Review fires up an A. Fernandez Maduro.

4) Deal of the Week: Cuban Crafters is home to one of our favorite Cameroon blends, making this a can’t-miss deal. You get a cedar chest of 25  handsome Cameroon Torpedos for only $85. Grab yours here.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Reviews: Nestor Miranda Special Selection 20 Aniversario Oscuro Ruky

30 Jul 2009

Among the newest additions to the cigar world, Nestor Miranda’s Special Selection 20 Aniversario line ranks near the top. My singular complaint has been that the line, both the Rosado and Oscuro blends, is only available in one immense (7 x 56) vitola called the “Danno.”

Nestor Miranda Special Selection 20 Aniversario Oscuro RukyI can complain no longer. In June, Miami Cigar & Co.—distributor of such acclaimed brands as La Aurora, Don Lino, León Jimenes, 601, Cubao, and Mi Barrio—brought a new, more manageable size to market: a five and 5/8 inch by 52 ring gauge figurado called “Ruky” (Miranda’s childhood nickname).

As with the Danno, this 20 Aniversario vitola celebrates two decades of producing a Special Selection line named for company founder Nestor Miranda. It is crafted by Don Pepin Garcia’s son, Jaime, and made at Pepin’s Tabacalera Cubana factory.

The Ruky likewise features Dominican and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos, an Estelí-grown binder, and an oily Nicaraguan habano oscuro wrapper. Its form and precision imparts an appreciation of craftsmanship, as does its well-executed pigtail cap.

Once lit, the cigar’s pre-light notes of dark chocolate and damp earth give way to a much fuller profile of pepper, bread, and spice. The draw is firm as the gray ash builds down the narrow foot. Each puff yields a decent volume of smoke.

Only a quarter inch in, the burn requires a slight touch-up to stay on track. Then, as the Ruky builds to its widest point, the taste takes on a smooth and creamy contour, only to grow in intensity shortly thereafter with notes of wood and coffee beans. Whether resting or puffed, the rich smoke fluffs off the foot effortlessly.

I was won over before midway point. Both samples that I tasted for this review serve as good reminders that, given the right blend in the right hands, it’s entirely possible to create a full-bodied, balanced stick without harshness. The satisfactory combustion qualities and unique shape only add the cigar’s performance and character.

Like the Danno, the Ruky is intended to be sold exclusively at tobacco shops, not through online retailers or catalogues. It is available in boxes of five with an MSRP of $8 apiece. That cost, in my book, is worthwhile given the Ruky’s complex flavor and high attention to detail. I won’t hesitate to reach for another Nestor Miranda Special Selection 20 Aniversario Oscuro Ruky the next time I’m looking for a powerful after-dinner companion. It earns four and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Commentary: Camacho’s ‘The Black Band Project’

29 Jul 2009

Earlier this year, Camacho Cigars used viral marketing—and a giveaway—to promote three of its cigars. Labeled “The Black Band Project,” it featured three videos and three sticks. The project was, according to company marketing director Dylan Austin, a huge success. “It blew past our expectations,” he said, adding that the massive response was about 500% greater than they anticipated.

The Black Band Project

I got the three robusto-sized sticks, banded A, B and C, about a week ago. As the package requested, I smoked them before checking the website to learn just what they were. Here’s how they struck me:

Triple Maduro: An incredibly dark and oily stick with a nice nutty pre-light aroma. I had high hopes for this cigar. Unfortunately, it didn’t deliver, particularly because it kept scraping the back of my throat with a sharpness that I associate with tobacco that’s not ready for rolling.

Corojo: This cigar was dark as well, though not showing much oil. It began with a pleasant charred taste that soon gave way to a sourness accompanied by a great deal of dryness and heat. Based on this example, using corojo tobacco for the filler, binder, and wrapper seems to be too much of what’s often a good thing.

Connecticut: Like the Camacho Connecticut I smoked last month and the one my colleague reviewed on Monday, this was an interesting, satisfying cigar. The wrapper was flawless, the burn perfect, and the flavors complex and varied throughout. This medium-strength creation was easily the best of the lot.

Whether this marketing effort will sell cigars, I don’t know. But it certainly provides an answer to those who complain that the cigar industry is too hidebound and hampered by tradition. I applaud Camacho for trying something different. And, while the giveaway has ended, you can still watch the videos and seek these sticks out for yourself to form your own impressions.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Reviews: Chateâu Real Maduro Gran Templar

28 Jul 2009

chateaurmNot long ago I gained a newfound respect for Drew Estate. Following a bad experience with an Acid flavored (or “infused,” as they say) cigar, I unfairly wrote off the company as a producer that just wasn’t for me.

Recently, however, I took another look after enjoying a few of their smokes last month, including appreciating—even if it still isn’t my style—a Drew Estate Acid.

With that in mind, I decided to try out the Chateâu Real Maduro. I’d previously tried and enjoyed a Natural that features a Connecticut wrapper and creamy, mild flavors.

This six inch by 52 ring gauge toro-sized smoke features a San Andreas broadleaf wrapper. It is a lovely maduro with just a bit of oily shine.

The predominant flavor is dry dark chocolate and chewy cashew nut. But there’s also an unsettling herbal, vegetal flavor of moist grass that distracts from the otherwise balanced medium-bodied smoke. It’s a combination that persists unchanged from start to finish.

The combustion qualities were quite impressive. An even burn produces thick, dense smoke, and the ash holds for an inch.

While there is a lot to like about this smoke, it is held back somewhat by the herbal and vegetal flavors described earlier.

That earns the Chateâu Real Maduro Gran Templar a rating of three and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Reviews: Camacho Connecticut Monarca

27 Jul 2009

Since it debuted in May as the company’s first Connecticut-wrapped blend, I’ve heard mixed things about Camacho’s Connecticut line. Some folks love it. Some, including one of my local tobacconists, think Camacho invested too much into marketing and too little into quality control. And some think the smaller sizes are great while the larger vitolas are more average. Love it or hate it, it was high time I tried this blend for myself.

Camacho Connecticut Monarca Camacho Connecticut represents a new direction for this Miami-based company. From Corojo and Camacho Select to Triple Maduro and Coyolar, Camacho is known its full-bodied smokes. This line is their “response to countless consumer and retailer requests for something on the other side of the strength spectrum.”

With six vitolas, this blend is intended to fill the niche for a “spicy yet milder mannered Connecticut-wrapped cigar with superb balance and signature Camacho body.” Aside from the smooth, dry, and delicate Ecuadorian Connecticut-seed wrapper, Camacho Connecticut includes a Honduran binder and filler tobaccos from Honduras and the Dominican Republic. It is manufactured by the Eiroa family at the Tabacos Rancho Jamastran in Honduras.

I paid $5.65 apiece in a local shop for two Monarcas (5 x 50). Both include faint pre-light notes of nuts and sawdust off the golden wrapper leaf. The cold taste reveals a clear draw with some tingle on the lips.

Devoid of much resemblance to Connecticut tobacco, the first half inch sports a lot of that Camacho punch, including flavors of black pepper, dry wood, and plenty of spice. Not overwhelming, but definitely attention-grabbing.

Then, as the cigar comes into its own, some of the tastes you’d expect—including cream, hay, and almond—join in to add complexity and smoothness. The interplay between the lighter wrapper and the heavier binder and filler tobaccos is the defining characteristic of this blend. As the even burn progresses and the tight ash builds off the foot, the spice slowly re-builds without overcoming the softer tones.

So, between the love it or hate it extremes, I’m leaning definitively in the complimentary direction. This departure for Camacho, in my book, proves to be a winning strategy—and cigar enthusiasts who appreciate more subtle cigars should put this on their wish lists. For its interaction of mild and medium tobaccos, abundant smoke, and good combustion qualities, the Camacho Connecticut Monarca earns four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Reserva MiraFlor Toro

26 Jul 2009

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

This cigar isn’t widely available but one that’s worth checking out when you spot it. I could find little definitive information online, other than that it’s rolled with all Nicaraguan tobaccos. The Reserva MiraFlor is a tasty medium-bodied cigar with nice touches of cocoa, earthiness, and a little cedar. Very little pepper or spice. While it looks good, I suffered through poor burns in the two sampled I smoked. I paid $6.80 for the Toro (5.5 x 54).

Verdict = Buy.

George E

Quick Smoke: My Father No. 3

25 Jul 2009

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


At Famous Smoke Shop’s Cigar Expo, José and Jaime Pepin gave me this six inch by 49 ring gauge smoke, which they collaborated on to release at the 2008 IPCPR trade show. It features a deep, dark Ecuadorian habano rosado wrapper that practically oozes oils. Once lit, I find a well-balanced combination of rich earth, chocolate, and cedar, packaged in a medium- to full-bodied smoke. The construction is flawless, with an even burn that creates abundant, dense smoke. My Father leaves little wonder why it is the top tier of the Don Pepin Garcia-branded smokes; it is delicious and well worth the double digit price tag.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys