Archive | April, 2010

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler CLXXXVII

30 Apr 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.

FDA Badge1) When President Obama signed the “Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act” last summer, many viewed the FDA’s newfound authority over tobacco as a cigarette issue. The law, after all, doesn’t automatically apply to cigars (as it does to cigarettes and smokeless tobacco). Instead, it requires the bureaucracy to issue a specific regulation bringing cigars under its purview. This week the FDA signaled its intention to do so in June. If the proposed rule is adopted, cigar makers, retailers, and consumers worry the government will tightly restrict cigar marketing and events, as well as require cigar “ingredient disclosure”—a move that would cost manufacturers huge sums of money in testing and documentation and likely restrict innovation.

2) Politicians in Mobile, Alabama, are considering a law that would be a new frontier for anti-smoking zealotry. The proposed legislation would empower health inspectors to deduct points from businesses that allow smoking, even though there is no scientific basis for the punitive measure. As Chris McCalla of the IPCPR points out, “The fact is that OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] has set safe levels for smoking that are up to 25,000 times higher than normally found in an average bar or restaurant that allows smoking.”

3) Inside the Industry: Scandinavian Tobacco and Swedish Match will merge their cigar operations later this year, bringing CAO, General Cigar, and retailer Cigars International under one roof. In an effort to lower its prices, United Tobacco—maker of 601, Cubao, and Murcielago—is parting ways with distributor Miami Cigar & Company. Meanwhile, in celebration of Miami Cigar & Company’s founding in 1989, the Nestor Miranda Collection is adding a new blend in three sizes: “1989” will be a Nicaraguan puro made by Don Pepin Garcia that will sell for just $5.

4) Around the Blogs: Stogie Review reviews a Rocky Patel Decade Edición Limitada. Keepers of the Flame fires up a La Aurora 1495. Nice Tight Ash checks out a Viaje Skull and Bones. Tiki Bar kicks back with a Liga Privada Flying Pig. Cigar Inspector inspects a Camacho Triple 11/18.

5) Deal of the Week: Last call for Tax Day Specials at Cuban Crafters. There are a number of deep discounts on our favorites like the Cupido Tuxedo, J.L. Salazar, Cubano Claro, and Miami Medina. Our favorite deal is a box of 25 Don Kiki Brown Label Torpedos for just $55. Grab yours here.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: SCS

Stogie Commentary: You Don’t Have to Raise Your Pinkie

29 Apr 2010

When you see cigars mentioned in a newspaper, it’s often to highlight some study on the dangers of smoking, herald a proposed tax increase, or as a prop in characterizing the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

pict-patricia-rossiSo imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when the Tampa Tribune devoted much of its travel/lifestyle section front to cigar etiquette. The illustrated do’s and don’ts kicked off a new column written by Patricia Rossi (pictured), “America’s etiquette and protocol coach” who who speaks, writes, and appears on TV.

Of course, Tampa calls itself Cigar City and hosts numerous cigar events—often in the Ybor City area that was once a cigar-making hub. Nonetheless, I was intrigued about the subject selection and exchanged emails with Rossi for some insight.

It turns out she’s not a regular cigar smoker, though she does enjoy them on occasion. “Just when my dad visits from North Carolina,” she wrote. “We go to Ybor and have a cigar.” I also wondered whether she was concerned about the reaction her column might draw from anti-tobacco forces. Not at all, she said, adding that smoking cigars is one of “about a billion social situations” that can require subtle navigation.” In fact, Rossi said reactions she and the reporter who collaborated with her received have been positive.

Most of the items in her compilation of cigar etiquette will be familiar to regular smokers, such as admonitions not to crush a stick as if it were a cigarette and not to dip the head in a drink. She also offers suggestions like enjoy the taste and aroma without inhaling.

And what’s the most common faux pas committed by cigar smokers? Rossi said it was handling and smelling the sticks too much. “They touch where people’s mouth will be smoking,” she said. “I think it’s important to take in the aroma from the foot of the cigar.”

You can find an interactive version of Rossi’s full article on cigar etiquette here.

George E

photo credit:

Stogie Reviews: Hammer + Sickle Robusto

28 Apr 2010

The hammer and sickle flew on the flag of the Soviet Union from 1923 until the disintegration of the USSR in 1991. In that period and since it has served as an emblem for communism, intending to represent “proletariat” industrial and agricultural workers.

Hammer + Sickle RobustoThis controversial symbol strikes me as a curious logo to brand a product destined for sale in the U.S.—a country where communism is widely despised. But that’s exactly what the people at Hammer + Sickle Vodka did when they launched their spirit in 2005.

Hammer + Sickle is more than just a luxury vodka, according to company chairman Eric Hanson. The brand is a “lifestyle offering” that crossed over to cigars at the 2009 IPCPR Trade Show. “Like Hammer + Sickle Vodka,” says the company website, “these cigars are an authentic experience for the creative aficionado.”

While the vodka is made in Klin, Russia, the cigars are handmade in the Dominican Republic with five-year-old Connecticut wrappers and three-year-old Dominican binder and filler tobaccos. They are distributed by Victor Vitale’s The Cigar Agency. This New Hampshire outfit is also responsible for Ortsac 1962, a blend named for the Kennedy Administration’s plan for a military strike against Cuba.

Hammer + Sickle is available in four traditional sizes: Churchill, Toro, Torpedo, and a five inch by 50 ring gauge Robusto. Retailing for about $7-9 apiece, the latter features a smooth, caramel-colored wrapper with few veins, a well-applied cap, and pre-light notes of honey. The feel is slightly spongy.

Once lit, the Robusto kicks things off with a medium-bodied flavor that’s very salty and somewhat peppery. The nutty resting smoke smells far more interesting than the cigar tastes. After only half an inch, though, notes more commonly associated with Connecticut tobacco come to the fore: cream and almond. They are complemented by the original salt and pepper profile, making for a lively, mild-mannered cigar.

This well-balanced interplay continues for the remainder of the 60-minute smoke. All the while, the physical properties are near perfect with a straight burn, an effortless draw, and a gray ash that holds firm for over an inch.

I’m always on the lookout for mild cigars that strike a harmonious balance, don’t break the bank, and exhibit consistently good construction. Based on the two samples I smoked for this review (both provided by The Cigar Agency), I’ve found a winner. That’s why the Hammer + Sickle Robusto, notwithstanding its insignia, is worthy of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Spirits: Campari-Based Cocktails

27 Apr 2010

Campari might seem like an unusual suspect for a cigar spirit pairing, but it’s such a classic cocktail ingredient I’m determined to give it a try.

CampariBetween Steve Zissou (played by Bill Murray) ordering up rounds on the rocks in the movie Life Aquatic, and Nick Naylor, the lead character in Thank You for Smoking, ordering up one vodka negroni after another in Christopher Buckley’s classic book on the nanny state, the drink is as cool as they come.

Campari, for those who don’t know, is an Italian aperitif made with a secret blend with plenty of bitters and a distinctive bright red color. It’s the main ingredient for Campari and soda, the Americano (Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda water), and the negroni (both of the gin and vodka variety).

I decided to make a few negronis and see what cigars, if any, they pair well with. The ingredients for a negroni are simple enough: one part Campari, one part gin or vodka, and one part sweet vermouth served over ice with an orange twist.

The result is surprisingly good. The bitter/sweet combination of the negroni (in both traditional and vodka varieties) goes surprisingly well with a variety of mild- and medium-bodied smokes.

My extensive testing proved that mild smokes with creamy flavors, like the Cuban Crafters Medina 1959 and the Perdomo 10th Anniversary Champagne, proved an excellent pairing. Meanwhile, more medium-bodied smokes like the Tatuaje Reserva SW, Tatuaje P2, and the Don Pepin Blue Label also worked well.

Ultimately, Campari cocktails are a surprisingly good complement for cigars. If you like Campari-based drinks (certainly not everyone does) you should go out of the box and make yourself a proper negroni and light up a fine cigar.

No, it won’t replace traditional pairing staples like bourbon, scotch, or rum, but for something different, particularly as a pre-dinner smoke, order up a Campari cocktail. You just may find yourself pleasantly surprised.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Reviews: La Caridad del Cobre 1608 Maduro Natural Robusto

26 Apr 2010

LCDCLa Caridad del Cobre is a fairly new cigar company having debuted at the 2009 IPCPR Trade Show. The man behind La Caridad is Frank Herrera, a South Florida intellectual property attorney and author of Production of the La Caridad del Cobre 1608 Maduro Natural is handled by Luis Sanchez of La Tradicion Cubana.

Sanchez will also be producing a line extension, La Fiera, that La Caridad del Cobre will debut at the 2010 IPCPR. The company’s website is fairly basic but does include the information the consumer would be looking for, which is more than can be said for some others in the industry.

The Maduro Natural Robusto is five inches by 46 ring gauge and covered with a semi-toothy medium brown Brazilian arapiraca wrapper. The binder and filler are both from the Domincan.

The cigar appears to be constructed well with no soft spots and an expertly applied cap. It starts off with a very slight hint of spice and some sweetness typical of many maduros.

As the cigar progresses, the spice vanishes and the cigar settles into a flavor profile of chocolate and espresso. There is also a hint of gingerbread that comes and goes in the final third of the cigar. The burn is straight and gray ash holds firmly.

Overall, the La Caridad del Cobre Maduro 1608 Natural Robusto is an interesting and enjoyable cigar. In the end I would have liked a little more spice to balance out the overall sweetness.

The construction and burn properties are excellent and, with an MSRP of $7 per cigar, the Maduro Natural competes well with other cigars in its price range. It earns four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick M

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: El Triunfador (Original Blend)

25 Apr 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.”


Before Tatuaje creator Pete Johnson released his new El Triunfador line, he was already making a cigar by very same name. Unlike the newer version, the original Triunfador (and Pete says he’ll continue to make it) features a dark, oily broadleaf wrapper and comes in only one size: a classic lancero (7.5 x 38). The cigar starts out with earth and meaty flavors with char. As it evolves, the well-constructed lancero reveals coffee and leather notes along with sweet honey undertones.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: CAO Brazilia Gol

24 Apr 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.”

CAO Brazilia Gol

I always seem to have several Brazilias on hand and, by and large, I’m always impressed with their performance. CAO’s mixture of Nicaraguan tobaccos wrapped in a dark Brazilian leaf usually results in a full-bodied smoke of pepper, earth, and dark chocolate with good construction. But my latest experience with a Gol (5 x 56) suffered from a stale, meaty aftertaste and poor combustion qualities—curious, especially since it had been stored in the same humidor with my other Brazilias for at least a year. I’m hoping it proves to be a mere anomaly.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys