Archive | April, 2011

Quick Smoke: Jameson Red Label Perfecto

30 Apr 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.”

These days, when you read about the Jameson Cigar Co., you mostly see information about Santos de Miami, a new Dominican puro blend, or reviews of Declaration. But I still like the re-blended Red Label that came out in early 2009. The Perfecto (5 x 54) combines a Connecticut shade wrapper, a Honduran binder, and Dominican filler tobaccos to produce a balanced taste of cream, cedar, and floral notes. Construction is good, making this a smart buy for $6 apiece.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler CCXXXVI

29 Apr 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) In the useless contest to see who can make the world’s longest cigar, José “Cueto” Castelar is second to none. The 67-year-old already owns four Guinness World Records, with his latest creation measuring over 45 meters long. Now he aims to crush his previous best and set a new record with a 70-meter monstrosity, ensuring that the title remains in his native Cuba. “Cueto said that as long as he lives, the Guinness record has to be in Cuba,” his spokesman told the AFP. “He is very lively now and will get tired as the days go by, but he hopes to reach his goal.”

2) Miami Cigar & Co. has released a new video in its promotion of National Nestor Miranda Cigar Day. “On Friday, May 6, I want you to visit your local tobacconist, buy any cigar you want, and you’re gonna receive from me Art Deco—free, no charge,” says Miranda in the video. “The wrapper is corojo ’06, it’s handmade in Nicaragua, and the size that we’re gonna give you is the size that I love: the Robusto (5.5 x 54).”

3) Inside the Industry: Davidoff is introducing the new Zino Z-Class, a full-bodied cigar with a Dominican wrapper, Peruvian binder, and filler mix of Nicaraguan and Honduran tobaccos. The Economist reports accusations of widespread corruption in the Cuban national cigar industry, which has resulted in the imprisonment of Habanos V.P. Manuel García since last August.

4) Around the Blogs: Smoking Stogie fires up the My Father Belicoso Davidoff NYC Exclusive. Stogie Review reviews the Diamond Crown Julius Caeser. The Tiki Bar kicks back with a Drew Estate Dirt Lancero. Cigar Inspector inspects a Por Larrañaga RE Switzerland. Nice Tight Ash checks out the Punch Rare Corojo 10th Anniversary. The AVO Limited Edition 2011 85th Anniversary Perfecto is the new top cigar at

5) Deal of the Week: This weekly special features two top Dominican robustos. $29 lands you five each of the La Aurora 1495 and the La Gloria Wavell. Or you can double up for just $50.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: AFP

Stogie Reviews: Cigari Corojo Robusto

28 Apr 2011

When I look back on some of the finer smokes I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy over the years, a disproportionate number happen to be relatively unknown at the national level. The cigars made by the Tesa Cigar Co. are a good example.

So I’m always eager to try limited quantity cigars that I’ve never heard of before. Such was my disposition when I received a few samples of smokes in the mail from Cigari Cigars, an outfit based in Southern California.

Cigari was established in December 2009 as an exclusive offering of Zafuto’s Cigar Haven in Ontario, California. These days you can also find Cigari smokes at a handful of other tobacconists in the Southern California region, as well as several fine restaurants and country clubs. While they are currently unavailable online, I’m told that may change (the Cigari website is under construction).

Access to Cigari may be limited for the time being, but those who find these cigars will have their choice of three different wrappers: Corojo, Habano, and San Andreas. The first two are Nicaraguan puros with fillers from Estelí, Condega, and Jalapa. The latter makes use of a maduro leaf from Mexico. Whatever the blend, though, all Cigari sticks are handmade in Estelí under the supervision of a factory owner who owns four different plantations. And each comes in four vitolas: Corona ($5.50), Robusto ($6), Toro ($6.50), and Salomones ($9).

The Corojo Robusto is a beautiful-looking specimen with a silky exterior leaf, few veins, and a well-executed triple cap. Mouth-watering notes of milk chocolate emanate off the foot.

Some of these creamy, cocoa-like tones carry over to the flavor once the Robusto is lit. They are balanced by black coffee, Nicaraguan zing, Corojo spice, and traces of sweetness. Medium-bodied and nicely balanced.

As the cigar progresses, I conclude that the profile is impressive for the price point. The Cigari Corojo is neither dull nor overly powerful, neither too spicy nor too sweet. Most importantly, the combined effect of the various tastes is unique—a complement that escapes many of Cigari’s better-known competitors. And all three of the Robustos I smoked for this review displayed fair combustion qualities.

Suffice it to say that, thus far, I’m a fan of this up-and-coming brand. With hopes for a wider distribution—or at least the ability to purchase Cigari products online—I’m awarding the Corojo Robusto four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys


Stogie Reviews: Punch Rare Corojo 10th Anniversary

27 Apr 2011

I distinctly remember my first Punch Rare Corojo. A friend dropped by with a few Rare Corojo Tubos (thick, magnum-sized robustos, if I recall correctly) to celebrate a birthday. Fortunately, I was able to repay the debt a few years later when I provided some Cubans in celebration of his engagement.

I enjoyed those original Rare Corojos but never smoked very many of them, in part because they have always been difficult to find since they’re only released occasionally. Despite only sporadic releases, General Cigar (corporate parent of the non-Cuban Punch brand) obviously felt there was enough demand for a new Punch Rare Corojo.

Yet instead of rushing out another batch of Rare Corojos, they decided to introduce another blend under the Rare Corojo name—only this time with a proprietary Connecticut-grown “corojo” wrapper. The unique deep brown wrapper surrounds a Connecticut broadleaf binder and a combination of Dominican, Honduran, and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos.

Available in only one size (5.5 x 50), the Rare Corojo 10th Anniversary comes in a box of 25 that sells for around $130 (a reasonable $5.50 per cigar). It features a slight box press and dual bands. I received some pre-release samples of this smoke that tasted a little young but, fortunately, after a few weeks they settled into their own. From then on, the medium-bodied smokes boasted dominant flavors of leather and cream.

While there is little change from beginning to end, I found undertones of roasted flavors and a slight fruit cassis from time to time. It’s a very balanced smoke, even if it lacks complexity. As nearly every cigar from General Cigar tends to be, I found excellent construction with a even burn and nice draw.

Overall, I don’t expect people to be blown away by the Rare Corojo 10th Anniversary—at least not yet, though it does improve greatly with minimal aging. But those who try this smoke will enjoy a balanced, well-constructed, pleasant experience. That’s why the Punch Rare Corojo 10th Anniversary earns a rating of three and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Reviews: Illusione 88 Candela

26 Apr 2011

Just before the annual IPCPR Trade Show last August, Illusione released the “hl” (or “Holy Lance”) in both candela and maduro wrappers. Now, additional Illusione vitolas have started to spring up with candela wrappers.

When asked why he decided to make a candela-wrapped cigar, Illusione creator Dion Giolito said that he loves candelas, enjoys smoking them, and, naturally, wanted to make one of his own. Currently, the hl, 888, and 88 are the only candela-wrapped Illusione vitolas available.

The 88 Candela measures five inches long with a ring gauge of 52—the same dimensions as the original 88. Beyond the green wrapper, the cigar remains the same with an unchanged blend of Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. The wrapper is dull and lacking in oils. Pre-light, the cigar gives off a strong grassy smell, which is to be expected from a candela, as well as a hint of pepper and some earthy notes. The draw is a tad loose.

Upon lighting, the 88 Candela gives of a good volume of smoke that seems slightly less dense than the regular 88. Surprisingly, the initial flavors feature only a slight hint of grass with a core of black pepper, leather, and earth.

One of the biggest changes from the original 88 to the candela-wrapped variant is that a slight sweetness replaces the chocolate and coffee notes that are predominant in the original. The best way to describe this sweetness, which is present on the palate but much more noticeable through the nose, is that it tastes like what fresh cut grass smells like.

While the flavors remain mostly constant throughout, some tea flavors join in for the second half of the smoke. One of the other big differences between the regular 88 and the candela is that the candela has a dry, almost tannic finish, whereas the regular 88 has a creamier, denser finish.

Construction-wise, most of my samples required a number of touch-ups to keep the wrapper burning evenly.

All in all, the 88 Candela is a different yet enjoyable cigar. It doesn’t possess any of the harsh bitterness that’s typical of so many candelas. It’s also a great example of how a wrapper can really change a cigar. At almost $9, I don’t think I’d buy a box, but this Dion Giolito creation is a nice change of pace, worthy of three and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick M

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Tips: The Salt Calibration Test

25 Apr 2011

[Editors’ Note: In celebration of the five-year anniversary of, we’re updating and re-publishing some of our oldest articles, many of which focused on cigar basics. Our hope is to encourage a discussion among readers and reacquaint the community with important cigar fundamentals.]

Even the most amateur enthusiast knows that cigars need humidity for proper storage. Since they are hydroscopic in nature, cigars will, over time, dry out in an arid climate or absorb moisture in a humid one. Dry cigars yield high combustion temperatures, leaving the smoke hot and acrid on the palate. And wet cigars tend to burn improperly and taste stale.

Therefore, we need to aim for a happy medium between too dry and too damp. For the most enjoyable smoke, this equates to 12 to 14 percent of the cigar’s total weight in moisture (or about 60 to 70 percent relative humidity). If you have a humidor, your hygrometer measures relative humidity. But hygrometers, whether mechanical or electronic, can be grossly imprecise and may require adjustment or replacement. So be sure to verify the accuracy of your hygrometer with the salt calibration test.

I’ll begin by mentioning that my degrees in political science and international commerce in no way qualify me to discuss the intricacies of chemistry. So I won’t try to explain why the salt calibration test works. Just please note that it does.

To perform the test on your own hygrometer, you’ll need a few basic items:

(1) Distilled water (purchased from any grocery store)
(2) Coffee stirrer (or other thin, clean object with which to stir)
(3) Bottle cap (Snapple bottle caps work perfectly)
(4) Empty wide-mouth jar with lid (like a clean mayonnaise jar)
(5) Tablespoon of plain table salt
(6) Your hygrometer

Place the tablespoon of salt within the bottle cap and slowly add distilled water to the salt while stirring with the coffee stirrer. Only add just enough water to moisten the salt so that it becomes a thick paste—do not add enough to dissolve the salt.

Next, place the bottle cap with salt/water mixture gently into your wide-mouth jar and add your hygrometer. Make certain the sensor is exposed and is not blocked by the sides of the jar. Seal the jar so there are no leaks, and put it in a place out of direct sunlight and with a stable, cool temperature (like your closet).

Leave the setup undisturbed for a minimum of eight hours. After that, check the reading on the hygrometer through the glass jar. It should read on or near 75 percent relative humidity. Most inexpensive hygrometers are only accurate to within 3 percent, so do not be surprised if yours reads 72 or 78 percent. Whatever it reads plus or minus our 75 percent benchmark is the amount of error.

If your hygrometer has an adjustment meter then, by all means, try to tweak it to exactly 75 percent relative humidity. You should repeat the salt calibration test after making any adjustments. If your hygrometer can’t be adjusted but the reading is close, then my advice is to not worry about it; just remember that your hygrometer is X percent off—either high or low. If the reading is grossly in error and you are unable to adjust it, you need to replace it.

Once you confirm your hygrometer’s accuracy and maintain a relative humidity of about 65 percent in your humidor, your cigars will age properly and be in peak condition when you’re ready to fire them up.

Patrick A

photo credit: Flickr

Quick Smoke: Diamond Crown Julius Caeser Pyramid

24 Apr 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.”

Since the 2008 IPCPR Trade Show, I’ve been reporting on the pending release of this cigar; almost three years later, it has finally arrived. The Julius Caeser is an attractive-looking cigar, with an Ecuadorian wrapper and a “smooth, robust blend of Central American tobaccos.” The profile, far from the “robust blend” that’s advertised, is medium-bodied with cedar, honey, and cream. But that mildness doesn’t make the Pyramid a bad cigar. In fact, I found it to be a well-constructed and enjoyable.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys