Archive | January, 2011

Stogie Reviews: Toraño Exodus 50 Years Blend Short Churchill

31 Jan 2011

Last year was a big one for Charlie Toraño and his family, as they renamed their company the “Toraño Family Cigar Company” and exercised their option to retake distribution from a deal with CAO. “It belongs in the family,” Charlie told us.

These days the company is getting a lot of attention about its newest creations: Master, a bundle line called Brigade, and Single Region. But the Exodus 50 Years Blend, launched in 2009, still has the cigar community talking. And, as I was told by a Toraño representative last week, it is still selling very well.

This blend is rolled in memory of the Toraño family’s 50-year exile from Cuba. It comes dressed in a Brazilian Arapiraca sun-grown wrapper with a Honduran binder and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos from Estelí and Pueblo Nuevo. The four regular production sizes—Short Churchill, Torpedo, Robusto, and Box Press—are handmade in Nicaragua, retailing for $6-8 apiece.

I picked up three Short Churchills (6 x 48) at a recent Single Region Tour event in Arlington, Virginia. I got them for about $5 each, since they were on special. This firm, slender vitola sports a moderate cold draw, pre-light notes of cocoa, and an exterior leaf as oily as it is dark.

A couple wooden matches gets the foot thoroughly toasted and lit. From there, the flavor displays a profile of black cherry, cinnamon, leather, and pepper. It’s bold, but decidedly medium-bodied and well-balanced. The thick smoke is cool—never hot or harsh—making for a smooth experience.

Despite its length, the Short Churchill’s taste doesn’t change much from light to nub. What you see at the beginning is pretty much what you get throughout, and that’s OK with me. All the while the burn is straight and the gray ash layers evenly and sturdily off the foot.

The Toraños make some excellent cigars, and the Exodus 50 Years Blend may be their finest. Don’t let all of their newest creations prevent you from trying this line if you haven’t already done so. The Short Churchill is an outstanding value and worthy of four and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Cupido Tuxedo Churchill

30 Jan 2011

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.”

When I first acquired this maudro-wrapped Churchill (7 x 52), it cost $180 for a box of 25—a price I was happy to pay given its flavor and quality. Now, almost two years later, the investment seems even wiser, despite the fact Cuban Crafters dropped the box price significantly. With perfect combustion qualities and a taste of cocoa, coffee, pepper, and black licorice, this is a fine smoke that ages beautifully, adding creamy notes with time.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Boris 11 Maduro Toro

29 Jan 2011

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.”

This house brand for the Orlando-based Corona Cigar Company is made by Avo. The Toro (6 x 52) features a Connecticut broadleaf maduro leaf that, while not as dark as many wrappers of that variety, has plenty of oils. The filler is a combination of Dominican Olor, Cubano, and San Vicente tobaccos. The well-constructed, medium-bodied smoke displays a combination of roasted flavors, peanuts, and café au lait.  Even at $10, this is an excellent buy and a reminder that house blends need not be a cheap bundled smokes.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler CCXXIII

28 Jan 2011

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post a mixed bag of quick cigar news and other items of interest. Below is our latest Friday Sampler.

1) Lawmakers in Minnesota introduced House File No. 188, which would provide modest yet much-needed relief from the state’s restrictive smoking ban. If passed, the law would grant an exemption for bars that meet certain ventilation regulations and have separate dining areas. “This is a step in the right direction,” reads a CRA press release. “The bill is currently in the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee. We hope you let committee members know of your support.”

2) We finally have a Facebook page, where you can interact with other readers, comment on discussions, and more. Also, be sure to join our Facebook group, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our newsletter.

3) Cigar Rights Alerts: New Mexico politicians proposed a bill that would boost the state’s cigar tax from 25% to 57%. The Indiana House endorsed a statewide smoking ban, but other legislative hurdles have yet to be cleared. A Nebraska judge declared the state’s smoking ban exemption for cigar bars and cigar shops to be unconstitutional, on the grounds it is “special legislation” for a specific group.

4) Around the Blogs: Tiki Bar smokes the Drew Estate Liga Privada JD4. A Cigar Smoker reviews the Davidoff 2000. Cigarfan enjoys the Toraño Single Region Serie Jalapa. Cigar Inspector evaluates the Ashton VSG Enchantment. Smoking Stogie fires up a Punch Serie d’Oro No. 1.

5) Deal of the Week: Famous Smoke Shop is offering free UPS ground shipping when you buy any box or bundle from almost 200 brands, including Tatuaje, 601, Perdomo, Oliva, Rocky Patel, La Flor Dominicana, CAO, Davidoff, Pinar del Rio, and more. Click here to peruse the possibilities.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Site News: Snow Cigar Open Thread

27 Jan 2011

The storm that hit the Washington area last night not only blanketed snow on the region and made the evening commute hellish, it also knocked out power in much of the area. That means we aren’t able to post today’s regularly-scheduled article. While we wait for power to be restored, we’ll leave you with the following question: What cigar do you turn to when the weather gets really cold?

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie News: Find A Cigar-Friendly Location Near You

26 Jan 2011

It often seems impossible to find a place to kick back with a cigar these days. Here in Virginia, site of’s global headquarters, our state’s politicians have forced hundreds of businesses to enact smoke-free policies, limiting the number of safe havens to just a handful.

It was that Virginia smoking ban that inspired Stephen Boyajian to found, a searchable database of over 2,000 cigar-friendly restaurants, bars, clubs, and cigar shops. And so, on December 3, 2009, just two days after Virginia’s smoking ban went into effect, Cigar Friendly officially launched.

“I didn’t really think the ban would alter my habits very much and assumed my local spot, a cigar lounge on the 3rd floor of a upscale restaurant, would be exempt,” Boyajian wrote over email. “Sometime in November we learned that while the location met the criteria of having doors to separate it from the non-smoking section, it lacked the secondary criteria: ventilation.”

“I hadn’t lived in the area very long and had no idea where else I could go,” Boyajain continued. “I talked to a few people on Facebook and Twitter and came to the realization that many people had the same problem I had. It was really a no-brainer from there. I had been doing web development for over a decade, I might as well use my skills to build something useful.”

Steve is a proud member of Cigar Rights of America and a self-described “cigar enthusiast who enjoys promoting the greatest aspect of the hobby: the friendship.” Through Cigar Friendly and his new magazine, The Cigar Network, his goal is “to educate people and bring the cigar community closer together.”

As a cigar rights supporter, Boyajian opposes smoking bans, but when a new smoking ban is forced onto cigar smokers, he makes sure that Cigar Friendly keeps pace. “We do our best in situations like this, although sometimes it’s unclear who is exempt and who is not. When we aren’t certain we will usually call and verify. We’ll also do this when adding a new location if we can’t find proof online that the business is either still around or can allow smoking,” he said.

“One of the best features we added was the ability for site users to mark a location as ‘No Longer Cigar Friendly’. This can be used for any reason, be it a smoking ban, a smoking establishment that simply no longer allows cigars, or even if the location has gone out of business,” wrote Boyajian.

As of this writing, the site has 2,131 cigar-friendly listings in 47 countries and every state except Vermont and Utah (both have 100% smoking bans in all workplaces). To find a location near you visit today, and if you find a location not yet listed, do cigar smokers everywhere a favor and add it.

Patrick S

photo credit: Cigar Friendly

Stogie Reviews: Rocky Patel Olde World Reserve Maduro Torpedo

25 Jan 2011

One thing’s for certain about Rocky Patel: He makes a heck of a lot of cigars. Rocky’s flashy website doesn’t even bother to mention many of his blends, be they seasonal, limited editions, retailer exclusives, or what have you.

But you can bet his most popular lines are listed online, including Vintage ’90 and ’92, Decade, 1961, Sun Grown, and Olde World Reserve. The latter was introduced at the 2005 industry trade show (back then the IPCPR was called RTDA), and then re-blended and re-introduced in 2006. Since, both Olde World Reserve versions—the Costa Rican-wrapped Maduro and the Corojo—have garnered praise from the mainstream cigar media and enthusiasts alike.

Some even go so far as to compare Olde World Reserve to the Padrón Anniversary series. Rocky, on the other hand, is more interested in internal comparisons. On his website, he lists the line as “a full-bodied smoking experience that combines the smooth complexity of the Vintage series with the earthy strength of The Edge.”

Three vitolas are available in the Olde World Reserve portfolio, each comprising Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos and sleeved in decorative tissue paper: Robusto (5.5 x 54), Toro (6.5 x 52), and Torpedo (5 x 54). The Torpedo is black—and I mean jet black—with an oily, mottled exterior leaf. It has a firm feel, a clear pre-light draw, and a subtle fragrance of sweet cedar.

That subtle fragrance transitions into a bold, full-bodied aroma as the foot is toasted. So it isn’t surprising that the initial flavor is rich and powerful, encompassing notes of black pepper, moist chocolate cake, espresso, and toffee. Later, cream and roasted nuts develop as the cigar’s thick, dense smoke coats the palate. All the while the Torpedo’s combustion qualities are very good. They include a finely layered gray ash and a fairly straight burn line.

When the Olde World Reserve Maduro first came out, it fetched around $10-11 apiece. These days, you can get a box of 20 Torpedos for $160 ($8 per cigar) at Citizen Cigar. That makes this smoke a much more attractive investment, and one that’s a smart buy if you’re looking for a sweet, complex maduro. It may not be on par with the Padrón Anniversary series—most cigars aren’t—but this Rocky Patel creation is worthy of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys