Archive | February, 2010

Quick Smoke: 262 Paradigm Torpedo

28 Feb 2010

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.”


Relatively unknown, the 262 Paradigm line features a dark, smooth, nearly vein-free Brazilian wrapper. The Torpedo (6.25 x 54) is constructed well and slow-burning with a firm feel and a mouth-watering combination of roast cashews and milk chocolate. Medium-bodied and balanced, there’s little variation in the profile from start to finish, with the exception of coffee notes that emerge at the midway point. This $8 newcomer is a very impressive cigar that I don’t expect to be unknown for very long.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure Especial (Cuban)

27 Feb 2010

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.”

Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure Especial (Cuban)

When I reviewed this Cuban almost a year ago, I wrote, “Even though this is a fine, noble smoke today, something about the flavor leads me to believe it will be slightly better tomorrow.” I’m happy to report it is. The profile of graham cracker, honey, and caramel is more cohesive than I recall. And, as a bonus, gone are the burn issues that once plagued this otherwise well-built cigar. Now I can truly understand why the Especial (5.5 x 50) has been labeled the flagship Epicure.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler CLXXVIII

26 Feb 2010

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.

1) Exclusive: Through its Twitter account, Cigar Rights of America announced the first four cigars in the next sampler available only to CRA members: Alec Bradley Tempus, Cuba Aliados Miami Edition, Avo Classic, and La Aurora 100 Años. has since exclusively verified four other cigars that will be included: Camacho Limited Edition, Perdomo Patriarch, La Gloria Cubana Reserva Figurado,  and Diamond Crown Maximus. And now we hear rumblings (from those that would know) that the final two cigars will be the Vegas Cubanas by Don Pepin Garcia and a rare Fuente Fuente Forbidden X.  Contrary to a photo posted on twitter last week, we’re told the second sampler will not contain the Drew Estate Liga Privada No. 9, which was featured in the original sampler.

Cuba's Habanos SA2) It was reported this week that Cuban cigar sales fell 8% in 2009 to $360 million. Predictably, the global economic downturn has taken its toll on so-called “luxury goods,” and Cubans are no exception. The disappointing performance of Habanos SA, Cuba’s state tobacco monopoly, is more specifically attributed to falling demand in Spain (reportedly the biggest importer of Cuban cigars) and fewer purchases at airport duty-free shops driven by less travel. “This is not what we were expecting, not what we hoped for anyway,” Habanos Vice President Manuel Garcia told the Associated Press. “It’s been a series of negative factors.”

3) Inside the Industry: Toraño continues its “Roots Run Deep Tour” in 2010 with events all around the country that will feature an exclusive Churchill-sized “2010 Tour”  cigar. Camacho has been selected as the official cigar of the Academy Awards Style Lounge, a Beverly Hills event that precedes the Oscars.

4) Around the Blogs: The Stogie Guys, via The Daily Caller, feature the Cuban Crafters Cubano Claro Churchill. Stogie Review fires up a La Herencia Cubana. Cigar Inspector reviews the Vegas Robaina Maestro RE. Nice Tight Ash tries the Oliva Connecticut. Keepers of the Flame smokes the Rocky Patel Renaissance.

5) Deal of the Week: This sale on various five-packs is a great way to try some terrific smokes at an affordable price. Bargain hunters will particularly want to check out the offerings from Fernandez, La Aurora, Rocky Patel, Oliva, and Padilla. Grab yours here.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Habanos SA

Stogie Reviews: Drew Estate Liga Privada Flying Pig

25 Feb 2010

Drew Estate is best known for its line of infused cigars called Acid. But it is the traditional Nicaraguan puro Liga Privada that is winning over seasoned smokers.

flying pigThe Liga Privada No. 9, which means private blend number nine, was originally created for Drew Estate President Steve Saka. It features a seven-tobacco blend with a Connecticut broadleaf maduro wrapper and is aged for a full year before being shipped for sale.

Building on the success of the No. 9, Drew Estate extended the line in 2009 with the release of the Liga Privada T-52, which is a different blend and features a stalk-cut habano wrapper. The Flying Pig, a four-inch by 60 ring gauge perfecto, is a limited release vitola under the original No. 9 line with a production run of 24,000 cigars.

The unique shape was chosen by Steve Saka from a picture of an 1895 cigar salesman’s size selection case. The Flying Pig features more ligero than the No. 9 but the same Connecticut broadleaf wrapper. The changes in the blend give the Flying Pig more strength than the No. 9, and a slightly sweeter flavor profile.

The construction is excellent with a firm feel and no visible defects in the oily wrapper. It smells of earth and leather with just a hint of pepper. Because the Flying Pig is a perfecto, I was a little worried about the draw being tight in the beginning, but the initial draw is good and opens up slightly once you pass the first half inch.

The cigar yields plenty of creamy smoke with initial flavors of leather, earth, and some sweetness. As it progresses, the leather fades and cedar and a nice spice join the mix. A sweetness reminiscent of cocoa also picks up. The burn is consistent with a bit of wavering, but it never requires a touch-up. The Flying Pig burns slowly with an average smoke time of around and hour and a half.

Overall, I am very impressed with the Flying Pig. The flavors are interesting and blended well. Construction and combustion qualities are excellent as well, which you would expect from a cigar with an MSRP of $12 per stick.

My only small complaint is that on one of my two samples the cap came off half way through the cigar. While this was bit disconcerting at the time, it did not affect the draw or the flavor at all. All of these factors combine to earn the Liga Privada Flying Pig four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick M

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Spirits: Hudson Baby Bourbon Whiskey

24 Feb 2010

I’ve won more than a few bets with bartenders and others by knowing that bourbon, by definition, need not be from Kentucky. Hudson Baby Bourbon, made in the Hudson Valley an hour north of New York City, is case in point.


While certainly identified with Bourbon County, the truth is bourbons have to follow only a few non-geographical rules. Most notably, it must be made from 51% corn and aged in new, charred oak barrels.

Tuthilltown Distillery takes those rules to an extreme with its Hudson Baby Bourbon Whiskey. Made from 100% corn whiskey (a rarity for a bourbon),  it is then aged less than two years in a new oak barrel.

Using a 3-gallon barrel, instead of the industry standard 53-gallon barrel, the spirit absorbs flavor from the barrel via more surface area by volume. This results in a copper appearance and sweet flavors more characteristic of bourbon aged at least twice as long.

Still, perhaps because of the limited aging, this spirit had a nose of fresh citrus  and mint. And not surprisingly this whiskey is all about corn and oak.

Sweet corn, vanilla, and oak are the dominant flavors. It’s hot on the roof of your mouth with a bit of smokiness. There’s also a subtle gin-like element with pine and juniper. The finish is long with maple syrup sweetness tempered only by the oak.

The result is a lively spirit unlike many bourbons, but interesting and delicious nevertheless. Instead gaining depth from lots of subtle flavors, the real action with the Baby Bourbon is in the interplay between the few intense flavors, most particularly the oak imparted from the small barrel.

While I’m sure it would make a fantastic Manhattan, this is a whiskey that deserves to be enjoyed neat and unadulterated with, at most, a few drops of distilled water. At $35-40 for a 375 ml “half fifth” size, it’s not cheap, but I’d go so far as to say that every bourbon lover should give it a try.

Those who like cigars with their bourbon will find this a most amicable spirit for pairing. Medium- to full-bodied smokes without too much peppery bite go particularly well. My recommendations include the Ashton Virgin Sun Grown, Cohiba Siglo VI (Cuban), Nestor Miranda Special Selection 20th Aniversario Rosado Danno, Paul Garmirian 15th Anniversary, and the Ramón Allones Specially Selected. Whether with a cigar or without, as a long time New Yorker I’m proud to say that the Empire State makes this fine bourbon that stands proudly next to the best Kentucky has to offer.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Reviews: Cienfuegos Engine #5

23 Feb 2010

Cienfuegos Engine #5Cigar maker Rolando Reyes, Sr. is known throughout the industry for his dedication to quality control. Prior to his retirement in 2007, at the age of 83, his work habits included toiling at his Honduran factory long after hours and inspecting individual cigars up to seven times before they hit the shipping crates.

Today his grandson, Carlos E. Diez, is president of Reyes Family Cigars (formerly Cuba Aliados). He oversees production of all the brands in the company’s portfolio, including Cuba Aliados, Puros Indios, and Cienfuegos.

The latter was unveiled in 2003 as the boldest smoke in the Reyes catalogue. “We wanted to make the strongest cigar we could without compromising the taste and the aroma,” Diez told Cigar Aficionado.

Diez certainly picked a good name for the line. Aside from being a Cuban city, “Cienfuegos” means “one hundred fires” in Spanish. The colorful painting on the band depicts three Cubans in a 19th century tobacco field with a wall of flames on the horizon. And the six vitolas all have fire-inspired names like “Hot Shot” and “Blaze.”

The robusto-sized “Engine #5” (5 x 50) comes dressed in a reddish Ecuadorian Habano wrapper with a Nicaraguan binder and Dominican filler. While soft to the touch and rough around the edges, it nonetheless imparts an overall feel of quality.

Touching fire to the foot, pre-light notes of coffee beans give way to a powerful taste of espresso with a sweet cedar finish. The profile, lacking in complexity, is strong but not nearly as spicy or peppery as most other full-bodied cigars.

This smoothness carries over to the midway point. Here, though, the finish is decidedly meatier with an earthy quality that’s slightly stale. All the while the physical properties are decent with an uneventful burn, a sandy white ash, and a clear draw.

The Engine #5 sells for as low as $4 and as high as $9. It’s a decent buy at the lower end of that spectrum if you’re looking for something authoritative yet smooth, but it doesn’t quite have enough balance to merit a price above $5. That earns it a rating of three stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Insider: Ted King, Author of “The War on Smokers”

22 Feb 2010

“Theodore King has done a yeoman’s job assembling evidence that the success of tobacco zealots has become a useful template for those who want to use health issues to control our lives. The War on Smokers and the Rise of the Nanny State is not only a story about the attack on tobacco users, but a story about how decent Americans can be frightened, perhaps duped, into accepting phony science, attacks on private property rights, and rule of law. One need not be a smoker to be alarmed by the underlying hideousness of the anti-tobacco movement.”WaronSmokers

So writes Walter E. Williams, syndicated columnist and professor of Eeconomics at George Mason University, about Ted King’s book, The War on Smokers and the Rise of the Nanny State. King is a tobacco enthusiast and avid pipe smoker who has worked in politics for three decades in his home state of Oklahoma and in Washington, D.C. He is a writer for The Oklahoma Constitution and lives on a farm with his family, including several dogs. I recently spoke with King about his book and the ever-expanding war on smokers.

Stogie Guys: What made you decide to write The War on Smokers?

Ted King: I wrote The War on Smokers and the Rise of the Nanny State for therapy. Smoking bans are completely unjust, and they drive me NUTS! I had been going to and thought: I can compile these stories I had read there, do my own research, and write a book about this issue. I didn’t know at the time that this would take me to England, Wales, and Ireland to further my research. That part was fun.

SG: In your book, you refer to the anti-tobacco movement as a “war on smokers,” not on smoking. Why?

TK: It is a war on smokers, not on smoking, because smokers are in the crosshairs of these anti-tobacco fanatics. These control-freak bastards want to tax the hell out of smokers, and some of them want to get smokers fired from their jobs. Some want smokers evicted from their domiciles. They even want to make smokers fill out a form for the “right” to purchase tobacco products. They want to screw smokers over. That is why I entitled the book the way I did.

SG: Who makes up the anti-tobacco movement? What drives them?

TK: The American Cancer, Heart, and Lung organizations, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company, are behind this crusade. The American Cancer, Heart, and Lung organizations have, in my humble opinion, subordinated their efforts to cure cancer to the primary goal of stamping out the enjoyment of tobacco products. Power to control, not save lives, is what drives them.

SG: Who funds the organizations of that push these laws?

TK: The American Cancer, Heart, and Lung organizations and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Pfizer are funding these efforts along with allies like the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids,, and federal, state, and local health departments.

SG: What was the most surprising thing you learned while writing this book?

TK: Smoking bans are just the template for more bans, like bans on fireplaces and on certain foods, etc. In other words, they give rise to a bigger and more powerful nanny state. Chapter 9 in my book documents this effort to expand bans beyond smoking.

SG: What is the single most outrageous nanny state law that you came across?

TK: The most outrageous example is that in Holland it is now against the law to smoke tobacco inside public places, even though smoking pot is legal!

SG: What is the one message that smokers most need to tell nonsmokers who are ambivalent about these issues?

TK: They are coming for nonsmokers next! And nonsmokers do not need to be in the very few places where smoking is permitted if they don’t want to be. So smokers should be left alone in what are, for all intents and purposes, the ghettos of these persecuted people. They aren’t bothering nonsmokers.

SG: What will it take for us who oppose the anti-tobacco movement to win this war?

TK: The War on Smokers and the Rise of the Nanny State teaches smokers what they can do to win this war… and it is a war. In this election year, it is especially important to know where local and state candidates stand on smoking bans. Smokers must tell those who support bans they won’t vote for them. We must become the loudest special interest group of this and future elections!

Many thanks to Mr. King for taking the time to talk to us. He wanted readers to know that cigar enthusiasts who purchase a membership to Cigar Rights of America for three years or more will receive a free autographed copy of The War on Smokers and the Rise of the Nanny State. Get your copy by joining CRA or by purchasing a copy from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys