Archive | October, 2009

Quick Smoke: La Flor Dominicana Ligero Torpedo

24 Oct 2009

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

La Flor Dominicana Ligero Torpedo

While I’ve had many good experiences with many La Flor Dominicana smokes, this Torpedo (6 x 54)—on this particular occasion—wasn’t up to snuff. I mostly enjoyed its flavor of spice, leather, and cream. But this Ecuadorian Sumatra-wrapped cigar suffered from poor combustion qualities that consistently deteriorated from my enjoyment. I wanted more from a $7-9 cigar made by a premier tobacco outfit and, hoping this was merely a dud, I expect the next one to be better.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler CLXIV

23 Oct 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.

Charlotte1) As North Carolina bars and restaurants brace for a statewide smoking ban in 2010, some Charlotte officials plan to go a step further: They aim to criminalize lighting up on sidewalks around a city community college. The move, according to one anti-tobacco extremist, would “propel the city into the forefront of antismoking efforts around the country” and establish a precedent for sidewalk bans in other cities.

2) Universal Studios’ “Land of the Lost,” a box office flop, is under fire for scenes of Will Ferrell holding a pipe. An arm of the American Medical Association claims the movie’s portrayal of smoking ranks worst among all of last summer’s flicks.

3) Inside the Industry: At a recent event, Don Pepin Garcia’s daughter, Jenny, reportedly told one attendee that next year he will put out a limited release cigar, and that all 20,000 will be personally rolled by Garcia. If the latest figures from tobacco giant Altria are any indication, the increase in federal taxes appears to keep boosting sales of “drug store” cigars—which rose 5% to 333 million in the third quarter.

4) Around the Blogs: A Cigar Smoker lights up the Nestor Miranda Ruky. Nice Tight Ash smokes the Declaration Iniquity by Jameson. Cigar Inspector fires up a Bolivar Belicoso Finos. Stogie Review reviews the Los Blancos Nine.

5) Deal of the Week: Last week we featured a great Halloween special, and this week we’re pleased to tell you about a full-bodied sampler that’s such a great bargain it’s scary. For just $30 you get two each of the Gurkha Park Avenue, Man O’ War, Padilla Habano,  and Rocky Patel Fusion. Get yours here.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Spirits: Canadian Club Reserve 10 Year Old

22 Oct 2009

Generally speaking, I often prefer the bold, rustic taste of American bourbons to Irish, Scottish, or Canadian whiskies. I suspect many of you have the same preference. But, taking a small step outside my comfort zone, I decided to check out the affordable Reserve 10 Year Old from our neighbor to the north.

Canadian Club Reserve 10 Year OldPoking around on Canadian Club’s video-intensive website, I was surprised to learn that this 150-year-old company isn’t as foreign as its name might suggest. It was founded in 1858 by an American, Hiram Walker. Fearing the temperance movement in his home country, which ultimately culminated in an ill-fated 13-year criminalization of alcohol, Walker built a distillery across the Detroit River in Ontario, Canada. From there he exported his popular “Club Whiskey” to high-end bars, restaurants, and golf courses around the world.

Any company this old is bound to have some history, and Canadian Club is no exception. Legend has it that Winston Churchill’s future mother, visiting New York in the 1870s, requested a cocktail consisting of Club Whiskey and sweet vermouth—inadvertently inventing the first Manhattan. And Canadian Club helped fuel Prohibition-era speakeasies in the U.S. by dealing directly with Chicago gangster Al Capone.

Today, Canadian club’s whiskies, including the Classic 12 Year Old, are sold in over 150 countries globally. They are made from a combination of corn, rye, rye malt, and barley malt that’s uniquely blended before aging to enhance the marriage of flavors.

The Reserve 10 Year Old is aged in once-used white oak. These American bourbon barrels were chosen because, by the time they are used by Canadian Club, they’ve lost their aggressive oak profile—making them well-suited for a mellow spirit.

So it isn’t surprising that the nose is bit tough to pick up, especially for a whiskey. But, after a low viscosity pour, careful attention yields elusive aromas of smoke, butterscotch, honey, and citrus. The bright and crisp taste includes oak, vanilla, corn, and toffee. And while the finish is impressively long and warm, the overall effect is nonetheless soft and slightly dry.

Most will enjoy the Reserve 10 Year Old neat or on the rocks—especially for a whiskey that sells for $15-18 per 750 ml. bottle (80 proof). Those of you who are more accustomed to hearty bourbon flavors, though, may find it approachable yet too mellow on its own. So try it in a highball, old fashioned, whiskey sour, Manhattan, or with a splash of Coke.

The success of various cigar pairings will likely depend on your cocktail of choice. But, in its most straightforward form, I can recommend medium-bodied smokes like the Montecristo No. 2, Cuban Crafters Cubano Claro, PG 15th Anniversary, and the La Aurora Barrel Aged.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Reviews: Tatuaje Black (CRA Exclusive)

21 Oct 2009

Tatuaje Black CRAI don’t like to write a full review based on only one stick, but there are times when it’s unavoidable. Case in point: this Tatuaje Black, which is exclusively available in the sampler for Cigar Rights of America (CRA) members (limit one per member).

Like the original Tatjaue Black, known as Tatuaje founder Pete Johnson’s personal cigar, the CRA Sampler edition of the Black is a Nicaraguan puro, made by Don Pepin Garcia. The most obvious difference between the two is that the CRA version is slightly larger  (6 x 50) than the regular version (5.6 x 46).

The Tatuaje Black CRA edition features a dark and oily (though not particularly shiny) wrapper that is folded over the foot, fuma style. Below the plain black Tatuaje band is a second CRA band that reads “Become a CRA Member – CigarRights.org – 818-541-1535” on the side that faces the cigar.

This toro has a delicious pre-light aroma of roasted nuts, a pre-cursor to the roller coaster of flavor that follows.

The profile starts with a burst of heavy leather, followed almost immediately by a strong burst of pepper. Then, about an inch in, it transforms again into a medium- to full-bodied woody combination with some lingering leather. The finish includes  a ramped-up combination of leather, licorice, and earth.

This is an impressively complex cigar, even though it’s not always balanced or particularly nuanced. With so many twists and turns, the Tatuaje Black CRA edition is an immensely interesting smoke.

Thanks to  excellent construction, which leaves those flavor shifts to speak for themselves, the Tatuaje Black CRA Sampler Exclusive earns four and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: CRA

Stogie Reviews: Vartan Zoravar Belicoso

20 Oct 2009

If you haven’t heard of the Vartan Zoravar, you’re not alone. I was sent these cigars as part of a blind tasting and, as of now, they are only available in one shop in the country: Ambassador Fine Cigars in Scottsdale, Arizona.

VartanBut Ambassador owner Vartan Seferian has plans to change that, as a national distribution rollout is underway. The Zoravar (named after an Armenian hero, which translates as “Iron Man”) is a most unusual house blend.

Instead of going the traditional route of simply reselling a low-priced bundle cigar, Seferian employed Henke Kelner, head blender for Davidoff, to make his cigars.

Kelner’s blend uses a deep brown Nicaraguan Cuban-seed corojo wrapper around an Ecuadorian sungrown binder (a Connecticut/Cuban-seed hybrid), and Dominican piloto, olor, and San Vicente filler. It’s lumpy with a sharp taper at its head.

Pre-light, the Vartan is aromatic with a combination of barnyard, cinnamon, and notes of rum. The belicoso starts out with a balanced woody flavor that ends in a long, peppery, toasty finish.

As the cigar evolves, cocoa and cedar appear around the midway point. Then it becomes a bit creamy. Throughout, it’s medium-bodied with an abundance of sweet, aromatic smoke.

Surprisingly for a Henke Kelner creation, I noticed some construction issues in two of the three samples I smoked for this review. While the draw was perfect, an uneven burn and unstable ash distracted from the smoking experience.

Not surprisingly, though, the Vartan carries a price more like a Davidoff than like most discount house brands. But for $17 you get a cigar far more interesting than the average “house blend”—even if that makes it less likely to be your daily smoke.

That complexity earns this unique house blend a most respectable rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Reviews: Rocky Patel “Patel Bros.” Toro

19 Oct 2009

Rocky Patel “Patel Bros.” ToroAlong with 1961 and Corojo Especial, “Patel Bros.” was one of three blends released by Rocky Patel at the 77th annual International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) Trade Show in New Orleans. Inaugural shipments of the new line are arriving at retailers across the U.S. as we speak.

This appropriately named four-vitola blend represents the first collaboration between Rocky and his brother, Nimesh. According to Rocky’s website, “the duo worked for years to find a robust and unique wrapper to accompany a special Nicaraguan filler and binder blend.” They finally settled on an interesting choice: a broadleaf wrapper from the fields of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The result is rumored to taste similar to Rocky’s popular Winter Collection.

I was fortunate enough to grab a Patel Bros. Toro (6.5 x 52) when I was covering the IPCPR event back in August. So please note that this review is based off a single pre-release sample.

As you can see, my sample doesn’t include Rocky’s finished band, which features gold lettering on a black and white background. But it does include a dark and toothy wrapper, an absence of large veins or seams, a heavy weight, and a firm feel.

Pre-light, I find intense, mouth-watering aromas of sweet chocolate and espresso, especially off the foot. The well-constructed cap clips neatly to reveal an easy draw and some spice and sweetness on the lips.

Patel Bros. is full-bodied from the start. The first few puffs greet you with a rich taste of coffee, cocoa beans, and black pepper. Then, after the first inch, the flavor mellows slightly while remaining vigorous. A bit chalky, this profile reminds me of the Cain Habano—but perhaps with a little more depth.

Leather comes to the foreground as the winding yet self-correcting burn works down to the final third. All the while, the draw remains clear and the gray ash holds decently.

I enjoyed the young Patel Bros. Toro today, but I fully expect it to improve with age tomorrow. Still, absent any further development, it is already worth its price tag of $6-9 apiece and worthy of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Avo Classic No. 2 (CRA Exclusive)

18 Oct 2009

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

AvoCRA

With classic Avo looks, this exclusive cigar—featuring an attractive, delicate, vein-free, light brown wrapper—makes you want to join CRA (if you haven’t already). It has the excellent construction you’d expect from an Avo. Flavor-wise, I found graham cracker, grass, and subtle peanut butter notes. With mild to medium notes and a toasty finish, it’s balanced and complex.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys