Archive | November, 2010

Stogie Reviews: Los Nietos Luca del Toro Toro Grande

30 Nov 2010

Luca del Toro is the newest release from Los Nietos Cigars, which is owned and operated by Ron Andrews. Los Nietos Cigars are only available online and at Andrews’ cigar store in Punta Gorda, Florida.

The Luca del Toro blend is made for Los Nietos by George Rico of Gran Habano Cigars. The Toro Grande (6 x 54) features a milk chocolate-colored Nicaraguan habano hybrid wrapper and Honduran filler and binder tobaccos. Construction appears to be excellent with no soft spots and very few veins.

Pre-light, the cigar gives off a woody, slightly sweet aroma with just a hint of spice at the end. The initial puff yields a complex sweetness and good amount of spice. After about half an inch the spice fades and is barely noticeable, but the sweetness remains.

The ash is dark gray and very sturdy with a thin burn line. The cigar gives off a good amount of smoke that yields sweetness reminiscent of brioche and caramelized sugar. There is also a woody flavor that reminds me of pine bark and sourness like relish.

Overall, the Luca del Toro is an incredibly complex and impeccably balanced cigar. The flavor profile doesn’t really change and the balance makes it difficult to isolate single flavors. The complexity, however, more than makes up for the lack of transitions. Only towards the very end did my interest  start to wane.

The Luca del Toro is a bargain at $6.50 per cigar, and an excellent way to spend a couple of hours. One of the most complex and balanced cigars that I have smoked in recent memory, the Toro Grande earns four and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick M

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Reviews: Velvet Cigars Bowery Robusto

29 Nov 2010

At 80 East 7th Street, in Manhattan’s trendy East Village, you’ll find the Velvet Cigar Lounge, a self-described “comfortable, welcoming place to relax, unwind, and share a story.” It’s also a place to find a house brand called Velvet Cigars.

Launched four years ago, the brand has sold over 50,000 cigars online and in the Lounge. Each blend within the brand—including Tompkins, Astor, and Cooper—is named for locations in the East Village.

Released in September, the Bowery “is named after the New York City thoroughfare of the same name, just a few short blocks from the Velvet Cigar Lounge,” according to a press release. “Once considered New York’s Skid Row, the Bowery has gone through an incredible transformation, becoming a center for culture and nightlife.”

“For our newest release, we wanted to offer something very different and spent ten months on the development of the blend and manufacturing of the cigar,” said Dan Bsharat, managing partner of Velvet Cigars. Dan and his colleagues came up a recipe of four-year-old Nicaraguan and Honduran filler tobaccos beneath a dark Ecuadorian wrapper.

The Bowery is offered in four box-pressed vitolas: Robusto (5 x 50), Toro (6.5 x 52), Torpedo (6 x 52), and Churchill (7 x 52). Boxes of 20 retail for $195 to $230.

The Robusto is a smooth, oily specimen with a soft box press and a slightly spongy feel. It boasts a pre-light aroma of sweet chocolate and a clear cold draw that imparts spice to the lips.

Once lit, powerful notes of dry wood, black cherry, and powdery cocoa emerge. The smoke is voluminous and chalky—the sort of texture that pairs well with coffee, or cabernet sauvignon. Spice is evident in the aftertaste.

Moving into the second third, the profile transitions from medium to full as a bold taste of leather takes the forefront. A nicotine kick surfaces. This segment of the Robusto has undeniable heft, requiring patience between puffs to keep the foot from overheating and becoming harsh.

As it progresses with a near-perfect burn, this cigar rewards patience and punishes eagerness. A delightful flavor of caramelized walnut is only apparent when smoked slowly. Conversely, if smoked too quickly, the taste gets stale.

That makes this a nice cigar if you can give it the time it deserves. After smoking three samples for this review, the Bowery Robusto, which retails a bit out of its league at just under $10, is worthy of three and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: CAO La Traviata Divino

28 Nov 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.”

These days some seem to have forgotten about the original La Traviata, predecessor to the recently introduced La Traviata Maduro. But this 2009 release has a lot to offer—and it seems to be getting better with age. The Divino (5 x 50) now has a little less pepper than I remember and more pronounced notes of sweet cedar, cream, and roasted nuts. That makes it any easy recommendation, especially with the cigar’s superb construction and $5 price tag.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Illusione Singulare Phantom LE 2010

27 Nov 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.”

One of Dion Giolito’s most recent projects is Singulare. Singulare is a limited edition line that will feature a new blend and size every year. This year’s cigar, the Phantom (6 x 50), is a Nicaraguan puro. The Phantom is on the lighter side of medium-bodied and produces a thick, creamy smoke. The cigar changes frequently, offering up a varying mixture of caramel, cedar, wheat, honey, and some floral notes with a slight spice. Retailing for between $10 and $12 apiece, the Phantom is an excellent smoke and well worth the investment.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick M


photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Tips: Have a Happy Thanksgiving…With Cigars

24 Nov 2010 will be taking tomorrow and Friday off to enjoy that most American of holidays: Thanksgiving.  (We’ll return Saturday with your regularly scheduled Quick Smoke.) Known for food, family, friends, and football, Thanksgiving is a perfect time to enjoy a fine smoke. So as we did the previous three years, today we’re listing the one cigar we’ll each fire up after the big meal.

Gobble Gobble Gobble

Patrick A: This year I’m picking the J. Fuego 777 Corojo Robusto, a Brazilian-wrapped smoke with a Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos. I’m betting its balanced notes of dry wood, pepper, citrus, and cream will pair well with a post-meal cup of coffee and a slice of pumpkin pie. Consistently well-constructed, this cigar won’t let me down on my favorite holiday.

Patrick S: I’ll be visiting family, which means I plan on lighting up a smaller cigar since I’ll be outside in the chilly northeast air. The small Padrón Serie 1926 No. 35 Maduro fits that bill perfectly. Its decadent and rich coffee, earth, and chocolate notes will go perfectly with a cup of coffee, before I head back inside to watch some football and relax.

George E: This year, I’m going to break with tradition and smoke a Cuban, which I’ve had in the humidor for a few months: a Romeo y Julieta Churchill Tubo. It was a gift from a friend who picked it up on a European trip and I’ve been saving it for a special occasion. I think the strength should work well after a big meal, and the size will give me plenty of time to enjoy it on what the weather forecast predicts will be a beautiful day. And, as always, I’ll be thankful for great cigars.

Patrick M: Thanksgiving brings to mind all sorts of comforting thoughts. Time with family, good food, football, and a break from the day-to-day grind. When I think of comfort as it relates to cigars I think of Padrón Anniversary. I never have any construction issues and the balance and complexity are superb. This Thanksgiving after the meal and most of the family has left I plan to sit down and enjoy a Padrón Family Reserve No. 45 Maduro. I think it will be the perfect combination of power to cut through the food, and comfort, to end the day.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Reviews: Tatuaje Anarchy

23 Nov 2010

The secret is out. (OK, really it’s been out since we revealed it back in July.) Tatuaje Anarchy is the latest “shop exclusive” from Tatuaje. Anarchy is made exclusively for Abe Dababneh and his six Smoke Inn stores in South Florida.

Abe said he approached Pete Johnson with the idea and Pete ran with it. After several different test blends, they finally settled on the blend that will be offered for pre-sale on Black Friday (November 26) at Smoke Inn. Cigars ordered on the 26th will ship on December 13, just after the launch party on December 10,  which will be attended by both Pete Johnson and Don Pepin Garcia.

Anarchy is being offered in boxes of 15 with a price of $150 per box. The folks at Smoke Inn were kind enough to send me a couple of pre-release samples to review before they go on sale.

The Anarchy is a salomon-shaped cigar (6.125 x 48-52) finished with an unusual flattened pigtail cap. The blend consists of a dark brown Ecuadorian habano wrapper with a Nicaraguan binder and filler.

As you would expect with a Pepin/Pete Johnson cigar, the construction is excellent. The wrapper is moderately oily with few veins and is smooth to the touch with no tooth. Pre-light it smells of leather, cocoa, and a light spice.

After lighting the cigar, the first thing I notice is the lack of the trademark Pepin spice blast. Initially the cigar offers up flavors of leather, chocolate, and a very subtle spice. The thick creamy smoke is smooth through the nose and decently balanced.

As it progresses, the spice increases along with some sweetness and coffee notes. The burn is a little ragged and requires touch-ups along the way. The spice continues to pick up throughout the entire cigar, especially in the nose, but never becomes unbalanced.

The Tatuaje Anarchy is an interesting and well-constructed cigar. I have a feeling the burn issues may be a result of the lack of resting time between my receiving the samples and smoking them. The first sample that I smoked did hit a flat spot with the flavors becoming muted for a period of time, but that didn’t happen with the second sample. Overall, my experience with the Tatuaje Anarchy was very enjoyable, earning it four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick M


photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Reviews: La Gloria Cubana Serie N JSB

22 Nov 2010

In early 2009, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo ended his tenure with General Cigar to establish his own project. The move left La Gloria Cubana, the brand he built from relative obscurity to industry prominence, without its leader of nine years.

La Gloria is now managed by Yuri Guillen, Benji Menendez, Michael Giannini, and Rick Rodriguez. Collectively known as “Team La Gloria Cubana,” the quartet dreamed up the recently-released “Serie N” line to compliment the popular “Serie R”—an Ecuadoran wrapped blend with full-bodied flavors of black pepper and leather.

“In creating La Gloria Cubana Serie N, our intent was to provide tenured smokers with a flavorful powerhouse of a cigar,” said Debo Mukherjee, vice president of cigars for General Cigar. “We are confident that consumers will respond to the new taste dimension brought forth by the proprietary Nicaraguan tobacco.”

Serie N marries that proprietary tobacco with an Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper. Four vitolas are available: JSB (5.5 x 54), 46 (6.5 x 46), 49 (5.75 x 49) and 58 (6.5 x 58). They carry suggested retail prices ranging from $6 to $7.10.

The Serie N JSB is very firm to the touch—so much so, in fact, that I expected the draw to be onerously tight. After clipping the head with my double guillotine cutter, however, I found an effortless pre-light draw.

The cigar, a heavy stick with ample oils and several large veins, starts with a charred taste of peppercorn, espresso, and raisin. The first impression is of a powerful, almost overbearing smoke that’s singular and lacking in balance.

As the taste mellows, notes of black cherry, leather, and dry wood emerge. I’d hesitate to call the JSB complex. Still, at least it develops nuance into the midway point, adding some character to its raw force.

While the Serie N JSB displays construction typical of a General Cigar product—including a straight burn and a solid ash—it never really matures out of its charred, meaty base. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you’re enamored with this Nicaraguan’s bold framework.

If that sounds up your alley then, by all means, seek this cigar out. I’m sure many seasoned cigar veterans will be pleased with everything the Serie N has to offer. But I was hoping for a little more depth from the three samples I smoked for this review—depth that, if nothing else, would help counteract the high nicotine voltage. That’s ultimately how I arrived at my rating of two and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys