Archive | May, 2010

Quick Smoke: Illusione Cuchillos Cubanos 47

30 May 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.”


With a slightly splotchy wrapper, this 7 inch by 47 ring gauge cigar by Dion Giolito of Illusione Cigars isn’t all that much to look at. Fortunately where it matters most, the Cuchillos performs admirably. It’s a combination of leather, pepper, and earth flavors that is very savory, even if the salty notes leave it a bit off balance. Despite being a mixed filler cigar the ash and draw are flawless, helped in part by the fact that two binders are used. At 4 cigars for $18, it could be my new go-to golf cigar, but it’s also good enough to pair with some Cruzan Single Barrel rum after dinner.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Diamond Crown Maximus (CRA Exclusive)

29 May 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.”


Available only as part of Cigar Rights of America’s exclusive sampler, this toro-sized creation of the Newman and Fuente families features an exquisite sun-grown Ecuadorian wrapper selected from the top priming. It’s a balanced medium- to full-bodied smoke that features plenty of earth and savory flavors with undertones of clove and dry cocoa. The Diamond Crown’s flawless construction produces an abundance of thick smoke.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler CXCI

28 May 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.

CRAsmokethevite1) Yesterday, Cigar Rights of America announced the “Smoke the Vote Grassroots Network,” an effort to inform smokers of their candidates’ stances for office on critical cigar issues. CRA Executive Director Glynn Loope described the initiative an email to members: “For the last twelve months, we have all been working to build the needed infrastructure to get to this moment. Now, CRA has members in all 50 states, we have CRA member tobacconists in 47 states, and membership is up 98% from this time last year. We need to build upon that success, learn from other interest groups that also exert their political muscle, and work to build new coalitions with other like-minded groups and allies.”

2) In a rare victory for cigar smokers, yesterday Massachusetts lawmakers voted to prohibit local health departments from banning smoking in cigar shops. The vote was a response to Boston’s law that would have forced all of the city’s cigar bars to close in ten years.

3) Inside the Industry: For the first time, Macanudo is designating a Maduro “Vintage” with the release of the Macanudo Maduro Vintage 1997, which features a distinctive metal band. Father-son team Guillermo and George Rico have reunited to create Azteca, a four-size line utilizing Mexican San Andreas wrapper and binder tobaccos. Reports cite that Arturo Fuente is expanding the sizes in the Rosado Magnum line at the upcoming IPCPR Trade Show in August.

4) Around the Blogs: Stogie Review reviews the Caliber 58. Nice Tight Ash checks out the Alec Bradley MAXX Traditional. Keepers of the Flame fires up an Oliva Connecticut Reserve. The Tiki Bar kicks back with a 262 Paradigm. A Cigar Smoker smokes the La Aurora 1495 BME. Perfect Draw tries a Cuban Stock Royal Selection.

5) Deal of the Week: Cuban Crafters is having an unpublicized Memorial Day Sale. Boxes of the Cupido Criollo and Cubano Claro (both rated 4/5 stogies) have dropped in price to just $60. Grab yours here.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Photo Tour: Behind the Scenes at La Aurora Cigars

27 May 2010

It’s hard to appreciate the cigar making process unless you’ve seen it firsthand. This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit La Aurora’s factory in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

After a tasting seminar with José Blanco, La Aurora’s marketing director, he gave Patrick M, a handful of other cigar writers, and me a tour of La Aurora’s operation. Hopefully the following photos give you some idea of just how much care and attention goes into every premium handmade cigar that we often take for granted:

Tobacco from all around the world arrives at the La Aurora factory

Tobacco from all around the world arrives at the La Aurora factory where it is aged until it is ready.


José Blanco examines Ecuadorian Sumatra leaf in the fermentation room, where tobacco is exposed to 120-degree temperatures for days at a time to bring out the flavors we’ve come to appreciate in cigars.


Before being sorted for rolling, tobacco goes into a special room where moisture is added to the leaf. La Aurora uses this special machine (which is also used in Cuba) to moisten tobacco in just over an hour. In most factories this process takes two days.


In preparation for being rolled into cigars, tobacco is sorted. Note the rum barrels in the background where tobacco for La Aurora Barrel Aged cigars are aging.


Stogie Reviews: Avo Limited Edition 2010 Super Robusto

26 May 2010

The Avo Limited Edition 2010 was created to celebrate Avo Uvezian’s 84th birthday. Production is limited to 10,000 worldwide in boxes of 10.

AvoLE2010The Super Robusto (5.5 x 55) features a gorgeous Ecuadorian sungrown wrapper. The binder is Mexican Sumatra and the filler consists entirely of ligero.

Pre-light the cigar smells of sweet tobacco, earth, grass, and raisins. It is slightly spongy but feels well-packed from head to foot. As you would expect from an Avo the cap is applied perfectly. The wrapper is oily and has some large veins. A pre-light draw reveals earth, wood, and a slight mint taste.

It takes a little bit of effort to get the cigar lit, probably due to the ligero filler. Initially there is quite a bit of spice combined with and earth and wood. The amount of spice is very surprising  for an Avo.

After about the first half of an inch, the spice begins to fade and the musty flavor that is typical of so many Avo cigars begins to emerge. The draw is excellent and the burn is straight. The smoke is creamy and has great mouth feel.

At about the halfway point the flavors start to change from earth and wood to coffee and chocolate. The burn grows a little ragged and requires and occasional touch-up. The spice that’s so prevalent early comes and goes throughout the smoke, but never reaches the same intensity as at the start.

The Avo Limited Edition 2010 is definitely not your typical Avocigar. It is definitely full strength, full bodied, and on the full side of medium in flavor. At around $15 per cigar the Limited Edition is  also not an everyday smoke but its complexity, construction, and flavors earn it four and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick M

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie News: New La Aurora Blend Coming at IPCPR

25 May 2010

La Aurora made a splash recently with its new La Aurora 107, celebrating the oldest Dominican cigar company’s 107th anniversary. But that cigar, which will be expanding beyond the initial three to include a corona, won’t be the only new cigar from La Aurora in 2010.

aurora1During my recent visit to La Aurora’s Dominican factory, José Blanco, sales director and our gracious host, handed me an unbanded smoke. Later he let those of us smoking it know that the cigar would be released at the upcoming International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers (IPCPR)  Association Trade Show in New Orleans.

Blanco disclosed that the cigar will be mostly of Dominican tobacco and would be medium- to full-bodied. The corona gorda-shaped sample I smoked, which I was warned was freshly rolled and not fully aged, featured a lovely, veinless, milk chocolate wrapper. My quick notes (taken, mind you, after four cigars earlier that day) revealed a medium-bodied smoke with dry chocolate notes, a bit of cedary spice, excellent balance, and a clean finish.

I’ve heard rumors the cigar will be named after Guillermo León, La Aurora’s president and fourth generation cigarmaker. However, neither León nor Blanco would confirm the name (but didn’t deny it, either).

Four sizes are expected for the new blend including a corona and a corona gorda. Pricing is also not yet released, but having tried the smoke I think it could be a big hit at the show.

Meanwhile, Blanco also confirmed for me that La Aurora was ceasing production of the La Aurora Barrel Aged. The process of aging the tobacco in rum barrels is extremely complicated and time consuming, he told me, and so they’ll be focusing their resources elsewhere.

Patrick S

photo credit: La Aurora

Stogie Commentary: Cigars and Baseball

24 May 2010

Jim Leyland, manager of the Detroit Tigers and longtime fixture of Major League Baseball, is not above the law. So when Michigan’s statewide smoking ban took effect on May 1, he was barred from smoking cigarettes and cigars in his workplace, Comerica Park.

BaseballLeyland had been known to sneak into the bowels of the stadium for cigarettes between innings. Now, though, this occasional cigar smoker has to remain tobacco-free at the ballpark just like the rest of us.

I’ve always thought it a shame that it’s so difficult to enjoy cigars inside big league parks. (My colleague and I actually petitioned the Washington Nationals to accommodate cigars back in 2006. We failed.) Sure, a few stadiums—including Comerica—have built-in cigar bars, but admittance to these exclusive locales includes a hefty price tag and segregation from the outdoor splendor of baseball.

Too bad. Baseball and cigars are such a wonderful pairing. Unlike faster-paced sports and sports that are played indoors or out in the cold, America’s pastime is meant to take place outside under natural summer sunlight. Nowadays most teams play most games under the lights. But when I think baseball, I think suntan lotion, floppy hats, peanuts, cold beer, and frosty malts.

I also think relaxation. While many criticize baseball for its lazy pauses between pitches, batters, and innings, I’ve always enjoyed those breaks. They give you the opportunity to study the game and have conversations. Is this a hit-and-run scenario? Would the opposing manager consider a pitch-out with this count? How does this hitter fare against left-handers? Are they drawing the infield in to guard against a bunt, or are they staying at double-play depth? The answers to such questions are better pondered over premium tobacco.

That’s one of the reasons why, when I can’t be at beloved Wrigley Field to watch my hapless Cubs, I do most of my baseball watching at home. The laptop computer is such a great resource. For a price, you can watch or listen to any game—live or archived—in the comfort of your patio furniture. The atmosphere is perfect. Cigars are welcome and plentiful, and beers are more modestly priced.

So, notwithstanding the NHL playoffs, now is the perfect time to set aside an evening or a weekend afternoon, spark a big cigar, and relax to the sights and sounds of bats cracking, umps yelling, fans cheering, and beer cans opening. Each team only has about 120 games left. That may seem like an eternity, but baseball season goes by way too quickly.

Patrick A

photo credit: Flickr