Archive | February, 2011

Stogie Tips: Xikar Plunge Lighter Review

28 Feb 2011

I bought the “Plunge” from Xikar’s website for $29.99 about two months ago. As a cigar enthusiast who vastly prefers wooden matches, I wasn’t looking for much—just a reliable butane lighter that I could use in windy conditions.

The lighter shipped, innocently enough, in a black box complete with instructions. It also included a Xikar catalogue and a sleeve that lauds the product’s “reliable rapidfire ignition, single jet flame, and lifetime warranty.” I was hoping I wouldn’t have to use the latter.

My gunmetal-colored Plunge worked well for about a week or so, producing a powerful, adjustable blue flame when needed. I was looking forward to tossing it in my golf bag once the weather became warm enough to play. Sadly, this lighter never made it that far. Instead, before it was time to refill the butane for the first time, the Plunge began to malfunction. Despite having plenty of fuel—as evidenced by the visible liquid in the circular window and the audible sound of releasing gas—a flame would not emerge.

When I first encountered this problem, I remember pressing down and trying to ignite the flame countless times. Futile. I can also remember peering to see a tiny spark shoot across the stream of gas every time I clicked the ignition. But the spark just wasn’t enough to yield a flame.

I set the lighter aside for a few weeks, hoping it would correct itself if neglected. No dice. Sure, if I pushed my thumb down enough times in rapid succession, a flame would emerge every blue moon. But this is an unacceptable solution.

So now I find myself at the warranty section of Xikar’s website. “If you feel that a Xikar product fails to live up to our promise of fit, finish, or function,” it reads, “simply return it to us and we will immediately and cheerfully repair or replace your product under our total satisfaction guarantee.” Fair enough. But I still have to acquire a bubble wrap envelope, pay for postage, and mail the Plunge back to Xikar’s headquarters in Kansas City.

I’ll be doing so shortly. And I’ll be sure to leave a comment at this post when I receive my new/fixed Plunge. Hopefully it will work properly.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: El Rey del Mundo Choix Supreme (Cuban)

27 Feb 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.”


Eight months ago, I found this attractive Cuban robusto to be too inconsistent and too young tasting to be worth the trouble, but I did note that it showed some potential after “some serious aging.” With that in mind, I lit up another from the same batch to see how it was developing. The cigar has improved, but I think it will be be better still with more age. Some of the bitterness has dropped off revealing a balanced, medium-bodied flavor of cream, cedar, paper, and toast. The construction is significantly improved, with an even burn and an easy draw requiring no re-lights. Despite it’s shortcomings, I’m becoming increasingly confident that after another 6-12 months in the humidor, this Cuban will develop into an excellent smoke.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Nestor Miranda Special Selection 20 Aniversario Rosado Danno

26 Feb 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.”

I’ve been hanging on to a handful of Rosado Dannos (7 x 56) since I obtained a box in June 2009. While I remember this $9 cigar being creamier and a little less salty, these days it still has a medium-bodied profile of hazelnut, coffee, and spice with above average construction. Is this limited release past its peak? Only time will tell. For now, it’s still a fine cigar, even though I’m happy I enjoyed the bulk of my Dannos when they were first released.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler CCXXVII

25 Feb 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) The 13th annual Habanos Festival concludes today, wrapping up a week-long extravaganza of Cuban cigars, factory tours, seminars, tastings, and plantation visits. This year’s event pays special homage to Montecristo, Partagas, and H. Upmann, with each brand debuting new cigars. Forthcoming releases include the Montecristo No. 2 Gran Reserva, Partagas Serie E No. 2 and Serie D No. 5, and H. Upmann Half Corona. Habanos SA is hoping these sizes boost sales in 2011 and continue the Cuban cigar industry’s rebound after tough years in 2008 and 2009. But there is still cause for concern. “Although Cuba’s cigar industry is cautiously optimistic about the future, officials are worried by developments in their biggest market: Spain,” reports The Telegraph. “In the grip of a financial crisis, Spanish cigar smokers are cutting back on Cuban cigars to save money, while a recently introduced ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces has also hit sales.”

2) Last Saturday, Patrick A was a featured guest at The Cigar Authority, a live internet show that’s simulcast on several New England radio stations. Click here to check out the video (Patrick’s segment starts around 1:09 and ends around 1:30, but the whole show is worth checking out). And be sure to tune in to The Cigar Authority every Saturday from noon to 2pm eastern.

3) Inside the Industry: Jon Huber, formerly the marketing manager and all around public personality for CAO Cigars, has joined forces with three other former CAO employees to start up Crowned Heads Cigars, which will be based in CAO’s former home of Nashville (details of Huber’s final days at CAO can be found here). Altadis USA launched a new website as part of their restructuring that splits off their premium handmade cigars from their domestic machine-made cigars. Davidoff of New York is the home of a new limited edition Torpedo (5.5 x 52) from My Father Cigars. The 2011 Avo limited edition will be a Dominican puro in a perfecto shape.

4) Around the Blogs: Tiki Bar smokes La Sirena The Prince. Smoking Stogie fires up the Federal Cigar 90th Anniversary 109 Rosado. Stogie Review reviews the My Father Le Bijou. Cigar Fan lights up the Alec Bradley Sun Grown. Nice Tight Ash checks out the Zino Embassy 2010. Raleigh Cigars enjoys the Liga Privada T-52. Cigar Inspector inspects the Viaje Satori. The top cigar on is the Tatuaje Monster Series The Frank.

5) Deal of the Week: Our friends at Citizen Cigar are offering $5 off any box under $75 and $10 off any box over $75. Signing up for the Citizen Cigar newsletter gets you an additional 10% off, so make your purchase today.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Habanos Festival

Stogie Reviews: Nestor Miranda Art Deco Robusto Grande

24 Feb 2011

Perhaps inspired by the art deco of South Beach not far from the offices of Miami Cigar & Co., this cigar line is tricked out in the style popularized in the 1920s and ’30s. The foil band’s design and colors would be at home on the hood of a Packard or Cord, and the metal container, with 21 sticks, carries the theme along.

I couldn’t find the cigar on Miami’s website, so I am relying on info from retailers and the company’s release announcement in 2010. This cigar is a Pepin Garcia creation that is a mixture of 60% Nicaraguan and 40% Dominican filler, as opposed to his more common all-Nicaraguan blends. The wrapper is a corojo ’06 leaf from Nicaragua and the dual binder pairs Dominican criollo ’98 and Nicaraguan habano ’00 tobacco.

I’ve smoked several of the Robusto Grande, which is 5.5 inches long with a ring gauge of 54. All were good looking cigars, the wrapper dark and the cap nicely applied. Construction was also first-rate, the draw consistently even and the ash tight. The price is a bit over $7.

So, now you know there’s a “but” coming, right? And you’re correct. Perhaps I was expecting too much, because overall I think this is a fine cigar. I just wasn’t bowled over by the taste or complexity. While it isn’t as full-powered as many of Pepin’s sticks, it is no wimp. I’d rank it as medium in strength.

Flavors are certainly pleasant. I found rich tobacco, leather, wood, and a little pepper. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this cigar, especially to someone who’s looking to expand the palate. However, for those seeking a new startling Pepin cigar, I don’t think this is it. For all its positive attributes, I give the Art Deco Robusto Grande three and a half stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Reviews: Puros Indios Rothschild

23 Feb 2011

Cigar maker Rolando Reyes, Sr. is known throughout the industry for his dedication to quality control. Prior to his retirement in 2007, at the age of 83, his work habits included toiling at his Honduran factory long after hours and inspecting individual cigars up to seven times before they shipped.

Today his grandson, Carlos E. Diez, is president of Reyes Family Cigars (formerly Cuba Aliados). He oversees production of all the brands in the company’s portfolio, including Cuba Aliados, Cienfuegos, and Puros Indios.

The latter is a seven-viotla blend that sports an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper and binder around filler tobaccos from Ecuador, Brazil, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic. Affordably priced in the $2-4 range, the Rothschild (5 x 50) is mottled and somewhat spongy with pre-light notes of honey and spice off the foot. The exterior leaf is papery in both appearance and feel, and the well-applied cap clips easily to reveal an easy draw.

After toasting the foot and establishing an even burn, a flavor of dry wood, roast coffee, and peat emerges. At times I also detect a vegetal taste, particularly on the finish. The balance is notable for a cigar in this price range and the smoke is aromatic, cool, and slightly sweet. Nothing too spectacular or complex, but nice for the price.

This profile is a major departure from my previous experiences with this blend. In the past, I’ve found other Puros Indios vitolas to be harsh and salty with sour, disagreeable flavors. But the two Rothschilds I smoked for this review were much, much better.

Perhaps the blend is simply best suited to this format. While that may be the case, I rarely find the performance of blends varies so drastically by size. No, I’m guessing there’s another variable at work: time. Before I lit them up, my Rothschilds had been in my possession for at least two years. My previous experiences with this blend were with much younger cigars.

This is just a hypothesis, mind you. If you decide to pick up a box of Puros Indios cigars in any size, however, I would highly recommend letting them age for a year or more if you find the first specimen to be lacking. Your patience will reward you with a satisfying, albeit straightforward, value cigar with good combustion qualities—one that’s worthy of a rating of three stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Commentary: Manners Don’t Require a Raised Pinkie

22 Feb 2011

Visiting a tobacconist to smoke a cigar is almost always an enjoyable occasion. What could be better than lighting up and relaxing, perhaps enjoying a beverage, good company, or a televised sporting event?

We hear and read a lot about what store owners need to do to maintain a great shop, but I think we patrons have some responsibilities as well. I need to say first that the following are my own three pet peeves. No shop owner suggested any of them to me, nor did I run them by anyone. They’re just a few things I’ve noticed that I would love to see come to an end.

First and foremost, don’t bring cigars you bought elsewhere into the shop to smoke. Why anyone would even consider doing this is beyond my comprehension. Would you go into a bar and pull out your own bottle of Old Overholt? Or hoist your car on the lift in an auto shop and proceed to work on it? A cigar shop is a business. Selling cigars is the major part of that business. A lounge in which to smoke them is a perk for paying customers.

Now, I’ll grant two possible exceptions. If you pay to belong to a “club” within the shop and it includes a cigar locker, then I’d say you’re free to stock it as you see fit unless there’s a prohibition to which you agreed upon joining. But I’d also say you should remove the band when you’re smoking something the shop doesn’t carry. The second exception would be when a shop has a “cutting fee” for smoking outside cigars. Pay the tab and light up.

Second, don’t pocket the cutters or lighters supplied by the shop for customers to use. Let’s face it, putting the five-finger discount on these is stealing, plain and simple. It also hurts all the customers because the owners, faced with frequent replacements, will invariably begin to put out cheaper, and fewer, implements.

Finally, don’t talk loudly about how much higher the prices are at the shop than you can find on the internet. While this is really just common courtesy, like taking your cell phone calls outside, I think it’s particularly tasteless. Instead, why not send an email to your favorite online cigar retailer complaining about how you can’t smoke there?

George E

photo credit: Flickr