Archive | July, 2010

Quick Smoke: Mederos Fifty 3 – Torpedo

31 Jul 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.”

A new cigar company celebrating its first anniversary, Mederos hits all the right notes if you’re looking for a sub-$7 smoke with excellent construction and a mild, complex flavor profile. The Fifty 3 – Torpedo (6.1 x 52) boasts tremendous physical properties with a savory taste of sweet cedar and cinnamon. Like the Fifty 1 – Robusto, this Nicaraguan puro is an easy recommendation.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler CC

30 Jul 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.

Savannah City Hall1) Politicians in Savannah aren’t satisfied with Georgia’s statewide smoking ban, enacted in 2005. So they’ve proposed a city ordinance that would close the “loopholes” of the existing law, criminalizing smoking in all workplaces including cigar bars, tobacco shops, and outdoor sections of restaurants and bars. “What no one needs is more of government telling people what they can and cannot do,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR. “Jobs and businesses truly are at stake here, as well as the rights of business owners to declare whether smoking should be allowed in their establishments.”

2) The final blend has been selected for the Padrón Family Reserve No. 46, a box-pressed corona gorda (5.5 x 56) that honors the company’s 46 years of business. It will debut at the IPCPR Trade Show in August and hit retailer shelves on September 8. Each cigar is made in Estelí, Nicaragua, and will carry a price tag of approximately $25.

3) Inside the Industry: A.J. Fernandez (who has blended cigars for such names as Padilla, Rocky Patel, Graycliff and Gurkha) is releasing  his first solo nationally distributed release, San Lotano. The New York City edition of Cigar Aficionado’s Big Smoke has been announced for December 1 at Pier 92. Cuba’s new Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchill is now available. Cigar Rights of America has improved its website by adding a members-only dashboard, RSS feeds by state, member discounts, and an event calendar.

4) Around the Blogs: Smoking Stogie lights up a San Cristobal O’Reilly. Stogie Review reviews a Don Pepin Series JJ. Nice Tight Ash checks out a Liga Privada Flying Pig. Keepers of the Flame fires up a Nestor Miranda Special Selection Coffee Break. Cigar Jack torches a La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Tabaqueros.

5) Deal of the Week: This “One Stop Shop Sampler” has 20 top smokes for just $75 with free shipping included. Included are cigars by Rocky Patel, Graycliff, Padilla, Gurkha, and many more. Grab yours here.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Commentary: Clearing the Air about the CCA

29 Jul 2010

Last week, the left-leaning Huffington Post published a hit piece entitled “Congressional Cigar Association is Front for Lobbyists.” By sensationally linking lobbyists and tobacco, the article has prompted denials by Congressmen and plenty of hand-wringing by commentators, particularly those who are predisposed to disagree with Republicans (like the one who sponsored the association) and dislike  tobacco. I’ve even seen many of my fellow cigar smokers recently refer to the article as exposing something shady.

congressBut what exactly is wrong with the Congressional Cigar Association (CCA)? So far as I can tell, absolutely nothing.

While I’ve never attended a CCA event, I’ve been invited to them, and have spoken with people who have attended. Far from clandestine or “shady,” the events are described to me as fun and educational. They simply involve Congressional staffers enjoying cigars with a beverage or two. Tobacco, after all, is a legal product, and my experience in DC suggests that a sure way to attract low-level Hill staff and public policy types is with discount drinks.

At CCA events, typically someone from the cigar industry talks about the unique process of making handmade cigars, and maybe gives staffers some insight into the burdens placed on family businesses by cigar taxes and regulations. It’s factual information that they don’t hear from the well-funded and well-connected anti-smoking lobby.

The Huffington Post article makes a big deal of the convoluted House ethics rules (and believe me, as someone who has read parts of them, they are definitely complex and convoluted). But ultimately even that line of inquiry comes up empty, as it seems the CCA has worked with the House Ethics office since its inception, and no violations have been found.

What was conspicuously absent from the Huffington Post article, and the commentary that surrounded it, was any discussion of the fact that communicating with Congress (better known as lobbying) is a constitutionally-protected act. After all, the First Amendment specifically states that citizens have the “right to petition government for redress of grievances.”

Maybe the Huffington Post author’s real agenda is that he doesn’t think cigar smokers and cigar makers should be able to exercise these rights. But fortunately the Constitution doesn’t let the Huffington Post decide who can or cannot petition the government, no matter how they may wish they had that power.

And that seems to be the real story here. Anti-tobacco lobbyists have been circling Capitol Hill for years, pushing legislation to cripple the rights of cigar smokers. And now that the cigar industry has dared to come up to Capitol Hill to defend their product and show congressional staffers the victims of their legislation, the anti-tobacco forces want to shut them up and shut them down.

Patrick S

photo credit: wikipedia

Stogie Reviews: Fonseca Serie F Toro

28 Jul 2010

Fonseca, established in 1974 when the Quesada family opened a Dominican factory, has built a reputation for mild-tasting cigars anchored by its original Connecticut shade blend. These days their portfolio is a bit more diversified.

Fonseca Serie F ToroTheir collection includes Habana Selección, a blend of Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos wrapped in a habana criollo ’98 leaf. I reviewed the robusto-sized Cosacos in March and found it to be uncomplicated and, frankly, rather dull.

Hoping for a better outcome, I’ve set my sights on the Serie F, a three-vitola line launched in 2003 by Manuel Quesada to attract fans of fuller-bodied cigars. It features a Connecticut wrapper with a Mexican binder and Cuban-seed ligero filler—a blend that is said to be only slightly stronger than the original Fonseca. Quesada, after all, is no fan of brute power.

Handmade at the Manufactura de Tabacos S.A. factory in Santiago, the Serie F Toro measures six inches with a 50 ring gauge. It is a sturdy stick with a well-packed cross-section of tobacco, a firm feel, and several prominent veins and protruding seams. The golden, triple-capped exterior yields only the slightest pre-light aroma of sweet hay and sawdust.

The “F” in “Serie F” stands for fuerte, which is Spanish for “strong.” And while the blend is certainly stronger than the original Fonseca, it is a far cry from the bold cigars that have grown in popularity in recent years. I would even venture to say that the Toro leans to the milder side of the medium-bodied spectrum.

But it certainly isn’t without flavor. The profile is characterized by a dry, biting saltiness with warm tobacco and plenty of cedar and spice. A vegetal flavor—one that I can best describe as green pepper—dominates the lingering aftertaste and the aromatic resting smoke. The whole effect is interesting yet lacking in nuance.

As far as the physical properties are concerned, the Toro earns high marks for its solid white ash, straight burn, and clear draw. You’d be hard-pressed to find a cigar in this price range with better construction.

Still, I can’t see myself reaching for another Serie F Toro in the near future. Despite its wallet friendly price tag of $4-6 apiece, it is too salty, occasionally hot and bitter, and, although unique with hints of sweetness here and there, not balanced enough to hold my attention. I therefore award this Fonseca two and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie News: FDA Rules on Cigars Due Soon

27 Jul 2010

I know it has been said before, but FDA regulation of cigars is on the way. On April 26 the FDA published a notice in the Federal Register (Vol. 75, No. 79, Pg. 21794) of intent to regulate cigars under the so-called “Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act” passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama.

Cigars had originally been excluded from the law, passed in 2009, but the law also allowed for the FDA to come back later and establish regulatory authority over cigars at a later date. The specific language of the notice related to cigars is below:


Legal Authority: 21 USC 301 et seq, The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act; PL 111–31, The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act

Abstract: The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (the Tobacco Control Act) provides FDA authority to regulate cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco. Section 901 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as amended by the Tobacco Control Act, permits FDA to issue regulations deeming other tobacco products to be subject to the Tobacco Control Act. This proposed rule would deem cigars to be subject to the Tobacco Control Act and include provisions to address public health concerns raised by cigars.

According to the notice, the FDA should have published a proposed rule in June 2010. At the time of this writing, a proposed rule has not yet been published. So what does all of this mean for the cigar industry? The best way to get some indication of what we can expect is to look at the regulations already in place for cigarettes and the policy reasons behind those regulations.

On June 22, some new restrictions (21 Code of Federal Regulations §1140.1-1140.34) went into effect for cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. Among them is a prohibition on distribution of free samples, prohibition on advertising in newspapers and magazines, prohibition on advertising on billboards and posters, and a prohibition on the sale or distribution of clothing or other non-tobacco items bearing the logo, motto, or other identification of a particular brand.

All of these regulations could easily be adopted for cigars. The regulations mentioned above would seriously change the atmosphere at many of the cigar events I have attended, many of which featured free samples and clothing with cigar purchases.

The only way to combat these intrusions is to speak up and be heard. So be sure to join Cigar Rights of America and contact your representatives as appropriate.

Patrick M

photo credit: FDA

Stogie Commentary: Forget Roses, Smell the Cigars

26 Jul 2010

The aroma from an unlit Mi Barrio was stunning. If my eyes had been closed, I might have believed it was a crème de menthe thin mint near my nose, not a cigar. As perfume makers and aroma therapists can testify, smell is a powerful sense. It’s also one that many of us don’t employ enough when we enjoy cigars.

Smell Your CigarsSince that recent encounter, I’ve tried to be more conscious of the fragrance of cigars before I smoke them. Most cigars have at least some aroma from the wrapper, the foot, or both. But there’s extraordinary variety, and, interestingly, I’ve noticed some significant differences among cigars from the same line.

For instance, I’ve had a 601 Blue, a maduro with a Nicaraguan wrapper, give off a thick chocolate fragrance and I’ve had another stick from the line present almost no aroma at all. On the other hand, some smokes seem remarkably consistent. I invariably inhale the smell of nuts whenever I take one of the Padrón “Thousands Line” in hand.

Another curious aspect is that a lack of pre-light aroma doesn’t indicate lack of taste. I’ve found virtually nothing emanating from the extremely tasty Cabaiguan.

I know there are smokers skeptical of those who detect different tastes in cigars. But it would be hard to argue there isn’t a wide spectrum of aromas from the wrappers and fillers of unlit tobacco. Does anyone think a Cuban Cohiba and a Marlboro give off the same air?

It’s difficult to discount the power of the nose. Brown University professor Rachel Herz, a foremost expert on “olfactory cognition and emotion,” quotes Vladimir Nabokov in one of her books. “Smells are surer than sights or sounds to make your heartstrings crack,” the novelist wrote. (If you’re interested, you will find all sorts of fascinating stuff about scents and smell at Herz’s website.)

If you don’t regularly check your cigar’s aroma before lighting up, give it a try. And if you do, let us know what you find in some of your favorites.

George E

photo credit: Flickr

Quick Smoke: Arturo Fuente Selección Privada Cameroon

25 Jul 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.”

The original Arturo Fuente line, often referred to as the “Gran Reserva” series, sports an affordable portfolio of vitolas in a variety of enticing wrappers. Among my favorites is this Selección Privada No. 1 (6.75 x 44). It combines a Cameroon wrapper with Dominican binder and filler tobaccos to yield a medium-bodied taste of dry wood and spice with a sweet finish. Smooth and aromatic. With good combustion properties, this $5 lonsdale is a trustworthy everyday smoke.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys