Archive | March, 2010

Stogie Tips: Five Rules for Introducing Someone to Cigars

31 Mar 2010

I like smoking cigars so much that I cannot for the life of me understand why everyone doesn’t do it. I often recommend that friends and acquaintances try a cigar, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. I’m sure many of you do the same.

FirstCigarNow, we all know smoking cigars is pretty simple. Mostly, it’s step 1: light up; step 2: enjoy. But there are some steps that can help you make a friend’s first smoke a fine and memorable occasion.

1. Size — For an introductory smoke, it’s best not to go too large. Newbies should be introduced with a preview of premium tobacco, not a two-hour commitment. Opting for a smaller size, such as a petit corona or Rothschild, increases the odds of a pleasurable experience.

2. Construction — Chose a cigar that you know draws well and burns easily. A first-time smoker is best served by never having to worry about relighting or drawing hard. A cigar that maintains a tight ash is also a good idea.

3. Setting — I recommend visiting a great cigar shop, but other places can work equally well. Just be sure it’s a spot to relax and have a cigar as part of an enjoyable occasion. Pairing the smoke with a favorite drink almost certainly will enhance the appeal.

4. Strength — While conventional wisdom is to go with a mild stick, I recommend a medium-bodied cigar. With a mild cigar you run the risk that the new smoker won’t really taste much of anything and wonder what the heck it’s all about. And a full-bodied powerhouse is likely to end poorly.

5. Simplicity — Avoid spouting off dos and don’ts. (OK, one reminder not to inhale.) Focus on making sure they realize that smoking cigars is about enjoying yourself and, frequently, enjoying the company of others who like it just as much. It’s not about rules.

George E

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Reviews: Berger & Argenti Clasico Belicoso

30 Mar 2010

The first major shipment of Clasico cigars arrived at the Berger & Argenti headquarters in Miami on March 11. Now this new blend is hitting tobacconists across the country and heading to a retailer shelf near you.

Berger & Argenti Clasico BelicosoLike Exile Wired and Entubar, Clasico is a product of the merger between Albert and Michael Argenti of Cuban Imports and Don Kiki Berger, creator of the Cupido and Don Kiki lines for Cuban Crafters. It is marketed as a “rich and flavorful cigar smoking experience offering exceptional value and affordability for discriminating cigar enthusiasts.”

Affordable it is. Clasico’s four vitolas—Corona Gorda (4.5 x 46), Rothschild (5 x 50), Belicoso (5.75 x 50), and Churchill (7 x 50)—retail for $4.50 to $7.50 apiece. This price range is especially impressive when you consider that the blend’s Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper is of the “desflorado” variety. As you may recall from my review of the Cubano Claro (another Don Kiki line), desflorado is a finicky leaf that requires the buds on its plants to be cut off before they flower.

The result is a clean wrapper, albeit lumpy and a bit splotchy, with few veins and a nicely tailored cap. The Belicoso’s feel is moderately firm and its faint pre-light notes smell of honey.

Snipping less than a quarter inch from the sharply pointed cap reveals an effortless draw. Once lit, the Clasico—sporting a Nicaraguan Havana-seed criollo binder and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos—starts with an attention-grabbing profile of spicy cedar and dry cereals. Tasty yet lacking in balance.

Less than an inch passes before the Belicoso becomes more varied and harmonious. Here, additional flavors of creamy nuts and warm tobacco are complemented by a sweet, toasty aftertaste. The overall effect is of a cigar that’s pleasing to the palate and easy to smoke any time of the day.

As the Clasico grows milder in the final third, only to ramp up in cedar spice down the home stretch, it’s impossible not to notice the cigar’s superior construction. The burn is nearly perfect, the white ash is as stable as they come, and the draw remains easy to the nub.

The MSRP on the Belicoso is $6.50 per single or $130 per box of 20—a smart purchase that won’t leave you with buyer’s remorse. For well-blended flavors and brilliant physical properties, this vitola from the Berger & Argenti Clasico line earns four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Reviews: La Flor Dominicana Air Bender Matatan

29 Mar 2010

A few weeks ago we spoke with La Flor Dominicana head honcho Litto Gomez about, among other things, his latest line. Air Bender, as it is called, was originally a blend exclusive to La Flor Dominicana in-store events. Once Gomez had stockpiled enough of the Ecuadorian Habano wrapper to ensure a few years of consistent production, he launched it with a series of events over the past couple months. Litto has previously used the wrapper on his Double Press cigar.

LFDAirBenderUnderneath the dry, relatively vein-free Ecuadorian wrapper are Dominican binder and filler tobaccos from La Flor Dominicana’s farm in La Canela. Litto says the blend is not as spicy as his well-regarded Double Ligero. Instead, the intended profile is of “refined power.”

Air Bender is offered in four vitolas that retail for $7-8.25 apiece: Guerrero (6.25 x 54), Maestro (5.25 x 52), Valiente (6.25 x 60), and the Matatan (5 x 50). Each name honors a kung fu warrior. “I’m enamored with Chinese culture,” Gomez told us. In addition, Gomez says a thinner size will be available at the IPCPR Trade Show in August.

But contrary to some reports, the “Air Bender” isn’t just a reference to Kung Fu culture. “When we smoke, we bend the air,” Gomez told us. “You can see smoke split the air as it leaves a cigar. That’s why I thought ‘Air Bender’ would be a perfect name for my newest line.”

The robusto-sized Matatan is well-constructed and very firm to the touch. Pre-light there are notes of dried cranberries and cedar. Once lit, you quickly see what Gomez means by “refined power.” The Air Bender has a bourbon-like flavor with lot’s of pepper and dry oak.

It starts out with burst of full-flavored spice but soon settles into a more medium-bodied, balanced profile with continued wood and pepper joined by subtle undertones of cherry and cassis. Despite an occasionally uneven burn, construction was good with a notably solid ash, aptly described in a comment as “made out of cement.”

Between its solid construction, balanced flavor, and “refined power,” there is much to appreciate about Litto Gomez’s latest creation. That’s why the LFD Air Bender Matatan earns a rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Nub Maduro 460

28 Mar 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.”


Introduced one year after the original Nub, the maduro version features a Brazilian wrapper and Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. This “short toro” (4 x 60) starts with a rough burst of pepper. Soon, though, it smooths out into milk chocolate, coffee, and roast nut flavors. Despite its short size, the 460 provides an hour of medium- to full-bodied flavors and excellent construction.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Miami Artesanitos

27 Mar 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.”

LGC Artesanos de Miami Artesanitos

When I reviewed the Artesanitos (5 x 46) in January 2009, it was prone to occasional spurts of intense bitterness—an unwelcome trait that tainted an otherwise delicious cigar. Now, after over a year of aging, this Ernesto Perez-Carrillo creation has a better rounded tone. The balanced flavor of cedar, nut, and spice shines through with flying colors, and the physical properties remain superb. At $8 apiece, this is an easy recommendation if you can be patient.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler CLXXXII

26 Mar 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.

Smoking Gun1) Government officials in Tacoma are trying to close down a local cigar lounge for code violations. Paul Mackay, owner of El Gaucho restaurant, has spent $15,000 on renovations to bring his lounge in compliance with Washington’s statewide smoking ban, effective since 2005. But this week the county health department ordered him to stub out the cigars because of violations: the lounge sells food and is open to the public. “Here we are trying to stay alive, and they keep dumping new rules, regulations, and taxes on us,” said Mackay.

2) Other Smoking Ban Alerts: UK doctors are urging politicians to ban smoking inside all cars. California lawmakers eye a statewide ban for parks and beaches. Michigan’s private clubs are lobbying for a ban exemption. Arizona State may criminalize tobacco on its  four campuses.

3) Inside the Industry: La Gloria Cubana is introducing a new cigar called Artesanos de Tabaqueros, which features a band at the bottom third of the cigar, a Connecticut wrapper below, and an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper above. Rocky Patel is introducing a new Decade Edición Limitada with a richer, spicier blend. Online retailer Thompson Cigars has sold off its non-tobacco retail operations, leaving the company to focus on its core cigar business.

4) Around the Blogs: Stogie Review lights up an Avo Limited Edition 2010. Cigar Inspector inspects a Fuente Work of Art Maduro. Velvet Cigar fires up the D’Crossier Golden Blend. Cigar Examiner examines a Berger & Argenti Classico. Nice Tight Ash smokes a Rocy Patel Decade Edición Limitada.

5) Deal of the Week: We’re not sure why it’s called the “Presidential Sampler,” but it’s still a good deal. You get ten cigars from big names like Montecriso, Romeo y Julieta, Graycliff, Gurkha, Camacho, CAO, Padilla, and Cohiba, for just $60 including free shipping. Grab your here.

The Stogie Guys

graphic credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Reviews: Perdomo Patriarch Corona Extra Corojo

25 Mar 2010

Perdomo Patriarch Corona Extra CorojoThe late Nick Perdomo Sr. was, in the words of his son, the family’s “saving grace.” Formerly an employee in the Cuban cigar industry, he relocated to Nicaragua in 1995 to oversee his son’s once fledgling Miami enterprise blossom into a successful business. He did so occasionally donning a pair of holsters and loaded .45s.

To honor is “father, mentor, and hero,” Nick Perdomo Jr. introduced the Patriarch at the 2008 IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas. The cigar is, according to Perdomo’s website, “traditionally handmade in father’s favorite blends” and “comprised of exquisite tobaccos from the fertile Nicaraguan valleys of Estelí, Condega, and Jalapa.”

Patriarch is offered in three different wrappers—Connecticut, Corojo, and Maduro—and available in six traditional sizes. Included are the Churchill (7 x 48), Corona Extra (5.6 x 46), Epicure (6 x 50), Lonsdale (6.5 x 42), Robusto (5 x 50), and Torpedo (6.5 x 54). I sampled two Corona Extras in the Corojo format for this review. Each Nicaraguan puro sported an oily exterior leaf, a moderately firm feel, a tight cold draw, and pre-light aromas of honey and raisin.

The medium-bodied flavor, spicy and sandy on the palate, tastes of birch and peanut. There’s an underlying creaminess present that helps smooth out what would otherwise be a dry, meaty profile. Without it, the Patriarch would be ordinary at best and somewhat harsh at worst.

Instead, it’s balanced and satisfying with some nuance. And things get a bit more interesting at the midway point when dark chocolate and coffee notes enter the equation.

The taste, somewhat bitter in the final third, mellows as the cigar approaches its end. All the while the physical properties are admirable with an even burn and a solid ash that holds strong for up to an inch and a half. My only complaint is the persistent resistance on the draw.

Overall, the Corona Extra Corojo is a dignified yet simple treat. Fire one up with friends or family, recommends Nick Jr. Heck, given the story behind the smoke, it might make for a thoughtful Father’s Day gift. Whatever the occasion, I suspect it will neither dazzle nor disappoint, earning a rating of three and a half stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here. Cigars for this review were provided by Cigars Direct.]

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys