Archive | August, 2009

Stogie Reviews: Berger & Argenti Entubar Torpedo

31 Aug 2009

I have a hard time sleeping on airplanes. So flying back after last month’s IPCPR Trade Show in New Orleans, I found myself mentally drooling over all the new releases that I couldn’t wait to try. Needless to say, before we landed at Dulles International, I had pretty much decided that my gorgeous sample of an Entubar Torpedo wouldn’t last long in my humidor.

Berger & Argenti Entubar TorpedoThis blend carries the new Berger & Argenti brand name. Based in Miami, the company was launched in August by Don Kiki Berger—who fashions the Cupido, Cubano Claro, and Don Kiki lines for Cuban Crafters—and Albert and Michael Argenti of Cuban Imports, Inc.

Entubar is Berger & Argenti’s flagship blend. According to materials I picked up at the convention, it is “a tribute to the time-honored Cuban cigar making technique” of the same name. That procedure includes “creating delicate ‘scrolls’ of rich, flavorful tobacco” and tightly bunching the Nicaraguan and Dominican filler leaves within the Nicaraguan binder.

When you glance at the Torpedo (6.75 x 56), the first thing you’re likely to notice is the twisted bunch of filler that protrudes from the foot. Closer inspection reveals a virtually flawless and oily Ecuadorian Connecticut-seed desflorado wrapper, a carefully crafted and sharply pointed cap, and a faint pre-light aroma of sweet hay. These characteristics help explain my eagerness to light up this cigar.

Entubar is marketed as “a superior smoking experience defined by a mosaic of complex flavors, a sweet finish, and an unsurpassed draw.” I won’t disagree. With a balanced variety of tastes, the first third will impress any cigar enthusiast. The profile includes cereals, cream, grass, roasted nuts, and onion spice. And the combustion qualities are downright remarkable.

As the burn line’s thick mascara moves toward the middle of the stick, the Entubar’s flavors increase in intensity. A spicy tingle is present on the lips, and notes of bitter coffee beans join in to add depth down the home stretch. I had all but fallen in love with this traditional-tasting cigar before it was time to lay it to rest.

Brilliant cigars are often expensive cigars, and the Entubar Torpedo is no exception. A single sells for around $11, and a Spanish cedar box of 20 sells for $220. This is money well spent, however, and I wholeheartedly recommend you give this treasure a try when it shows up at your local B&M. For great complexity and construction—and for everything I’ve come to expect from Don Kiki and more—the Berger & Argenti Entubar Torpedo earns five stogies out of five.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here. A list of other five stogie-rated cigars can be found here.]

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: EO Cubao Maduro No. 6

30 Aug 2009

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

cubao-maduro

There’s no hiding that Cubao is a favorite cigar of mine. Every one we’ve reviewed has scored exceptionally, so I was excited to try the new maduro version of this Pepin/Espinoza/Ortega creation. Wrapped with an Ecuadorian broadleaf maduro wrapper, the Cubao Maduro contains a similar binder and filler blend to the original Cubao line. The new wrapper changes the profile significantly, adding more coffee and less woody flavors. But Cubao’s balance and intensity remains. While the overall construction is good, the ash is particularly impressive, which holds flawlessly for an inch and a half. I look forward to giving this cigar a full review in the future.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

Quick Smoke: Arganese ML3 Robusto

29 Aug 2009

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

Arganese ML3 Robusto

With everyone focusing on all the new treats from this month’s IPCPR Trade Show, I thought it appropriate to reconnect with a great bang-for-the-buck release from last year: the ML3 from Arganese. This one’s an all-ligero blend with a dark Brazilian maduro wrapper and Dominican binder and filler tobaccos. Retail on the classically-sized Robusto is $5. When I reviewed it a year ago, I enjoyed this cigar’s solid construction and bold taste of dark chocolate, bitter espresso, and pepper. Not much has changed.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler CLVI

28 Aug 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.

Al Brierly’s Tobacco Plant1) Ever wonder how tobacco would grow in your own backyard? Well, if Al Brierly’s plant is any indication, it might take to the soil better than you think. This 83-year-old is making headlines for a 10-foot-tall tobacco plant with “platter-size” leaves that he grew at his home in Belleville, Illinois. Recalling his days growing up on a Kentucky tobacco farm where his dad would roll makeshift stogies, Brierly, now an occasional cigar smoker, said, “It’s pretty strong stuff. It’ll make you sick if you’re not careful.”

2) Last month, on the heels of a study that proposed banning tobacco in the U.S. military, the Dept. of Defense announced it would not act on that recommendation. But new reports indicate Defense Secretary Robert Gates is still “reviewing the study by the Institute of Medicine, which provides independent advice to policymakers, health professionals, and the public, to see if steps can be taken toward having a smoke-free force some day.”

3) Inside the Industry: Looking for another reason to join Cigar Rights of America? Now, with a new membership (or the renewal of your current membership), you’ll receive two exclusive cigars. The sticks are from CRA’s new exclusive samplers, which feature never-before-released blends or sizes from such makers as Padrón, Fuente, Rocky Patel, La Gloria Cubana, La Flor Dominicana, Tatuaje, CAO, Ashton, and many more. Get all the details here.

4) Around the Blogs: Keepers of the Flame lights up a Casa Fuego. Stogie Fresh tries the Vogel Green. Stogie Review herfs over the CAO La Traviata. Nice Tight Ash tries an Oliva Masterblends III. The Stogie Spy examines the Casa Fuente.

5) Deal of the Week: CheapHumidors.com recently launched this “Gurkha Insane Combo Deal,” which includes five Gurkha Factums, a travel humidor, torch lighter, and a double guillotine cutter for under $40. The best part? For every sampler sold, the website will donate a cigar to the troops. Get in on the action here.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: BND.com

Stogie Spirits: Five Classic Summer Rum Drinks

27 Aug 2009

Summer may be coming to an end, but it isn’t too late to whip up a summer cocktail. And while I’m usually partial to whiskey, nothing says summer like a drink with rum. Something about the result of distilled molasses has just the right combination of sweetness and bite. I find the occasional over-the-top umbrella rum cocktail—like a mai tai, piña colada, rum punch, or Daiquirí—to have too much sweetness to pair well with a smoke. So here are five classic rum drinks that work  fantastically with a cigar:

rums5) Mount Gay Tonic — Want a fresh drink that’s perfect for a warm afternoon? Mount Gay Tonic is the answer. Mix rum and tonic water in nearly equal parts, serve over ice with a lime, and you’ll end up with a versatile and invigorating drink that’s a suitable pairing for most medium-bodied smokes.

4) Dark ‘n Stormy — Made with Goslings rum and tangy ginger beer, this concoction mixes one part dark rum with two parts ginger beer, ideally Barritts. Known as the official drink of Burmuda, you’ll need a full-flavored cigar to stand up to its spice.

3) Cuba Libre — You can just call it a rum and Coke, but when you’re pairing it with a cigar “cuba libre” seems so much more fitting.  (The pairing is so fitting that Nestor Plasencia named a cigar Cuba Libre.) I recommend a spiced rum and pairing it with a spicy Cameroon-wrapped cigar.

2) Mojito — For my money it’s hard to beat a mojito: mint, rum, lime, sugar, and a splash of soda water blended perfectly into a refreshing beverage. Enjoy it with a mild- to medium-bodied smoke, preferably a creamy stick with a Connecticut wrapper.

1) Straight Up or On the Rocks — As well as rums blend with other beverages, it’s easy to forget that the best way to taste a fine rum is straight up or on the rocks. Fine rums offer as much intensity as a fine scotch or bourbon, and only unaccompanied will you be able to discern all the complexity of a well-aged spirit. Each will require it’s own cigar pairing, but with such flavors as honey, banana peel, oak, cedar, and pepper, there are more than enough flavors to pair with a fine smoke.

So there you have it, my favorite rum drinks to accompany a fine cigar. Think I missed one? Let us know in the comments.

Patrick S

photo credit: Wikimedia

Stogie Tips: Time for a (Better) Light

26 Aug 2009

I’m always amazed when I see someone who’s meticulous about keeping the temperature and humidity just right for their cigars and then lights up like a late-night arsonist intent on scorching away all the evidence.

Torch

If there’s a faster way to start your smoke off the wrong way than by overheating and charring the tobacco, I don‘t know what it is. Remember, you’re lighting a cigar, not practicing for a job as a welder.

If you’re a regular StogieGuys.com reader, you know we’re serious about this. Over the years we’ve written numerous times about lighters, matches, and tips for lighting up.

What you use to bring the stick to life, of course, is up to you. I believe it’s possible to light a cigar correctly with nearly any form of flame that doesn’t carry a taste or odor. And there are really only a few points to keep in mind.

First, keep the flame from directly hitting the foot of the cigar, especially if you’re using a butane torch, which can easily exceed 2,000 °F. Such extreme heat can virtually obliterate tobacco on contact, something you have to worry about much less with matches or a burning cedar strip (known as a spill).

Also, don’t light the cigar in your mouth. Hold it in one hand, the flame in the other, and rotate the stick. Stop and take a light draw a couple of times during the process to help make it even.

Finally, take your time—advice that fits with nearly every aspect of cigar smoking. Going slowly will pay off when you take those first few puffs and enjoy the tastes the blender intended, not burned tobacco.

So save the caveman flames for the barbeque grill. I guarantee you’ll enjoy the cigar afterward much more.

George E

photo credit: Wikimedia

Stogie Reviews: EO Mi Barrio El Acere

25 Aug 2009

United Tobacco—also known as EO Brands—has created some great blends since it was founded in 2003 by Eddie Ortega and Erik Espinosa. The 601 Green and Cubao come to mind as particularly outstanding. But before I take a look at their newest lines, Murcielago and Cubao Maduro, I thought it appropriate to review Mi Barrio, which debuted at the IPCPR Trade Show last summer.

EO Mi Barrio El AcereSpanish for “my neighborhood,” Mi Barrio boxes feature the artwork of Edin Gutierrez, a Cuban-influenced artist who is good friends with Don Pepin Garcia and Orestes Espinoza (Erik’s father). The two are portrayed on Mi Barrio bands.

This blend is a limited edition seasonal release, available four times per year in batches of 100,000 sticks. While EO’s website maintains that each release will be the same unique size and shape with a different blend, we have reason to believe the opposite.

The first Mi Barrio, El Puro, was a large (7.5 x 52) Nicaraguan puro. The El Aceres that I sampled for this review, however, are clearly a different size (6 x 50) and probably the same blend. My colleague pointed out this anomaly in a recent Quick Smoke.

At any rate, El Acere hit the market in October 2008 with a price tag in the lofty $9-11 range. It features a Nicaraguan habano wrapper and binder and filler tobaccos from Esteí and Jalapa, respectively. The pre-light aroma of cocoa and vanilla is simply amazing—enough to make your mouth water.

The actual taste of the smoke, however, doesn’t really live up to expectations. While I enjoy El Acere’s unwavering flavor of cedar, spice, and dark chocolate, I wish it included more balance. The overall profile, for instance, is a tad salty for my liking. And instead of being thick and rich, the smoke is light and airy, contributing to its hollow texture.

Perhaps I’m being too critical. This is, by most accounts, a very fine medium-bodied cigar with many of good qualities. The flavor is nice, the resting smoke is intoxicating, and the combustion qualities are top-notch. But I just keep thinking how much better El Acere would be with a little more depth, especially for the price.

Maybe other sizes are better suited for this blend. So, assuming EO’s website is wrong and my colleagues and I are right, I’ll have to try the other Mi Barrio releases (El Forro and El Billetero) to see if they strike the right chord with me. For now, the El Acere earns three stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys