Archive | December, 2011

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 270

30 Dec 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) ’Tis the season for giving, and the Toraño Family Cigar Co. has stepped up to the philanthropic plate, hosting its second annual toy drive on December 7. The event benefited Neat Stuff for Kids, a nonprofit that provides new clothing to children from abused and underprivileged homes. Over 300 guests attended the Miami event, each bringing an unwrapped toy in exchange for free Toraño cigars, drinks, and gourmet Spanish cuisine. “We appreciate the support we receive from our community here in South Florida and the best way to show that appreciation is to give back to those who need help the most,” said Charlie Toraño (pictured). “Neat Stuff for Kids is truly an amazing organization that touches the lives of underprivileged children every day.”

2) If you like lists, Cigar Journal (formerly European Cigar Cult Journal) has released its Finest Cigars of 2011. The magazine says the 25-cigar list was compiled from its reviews during the year, with only the best chosen for inclusion. The top three include the Padrón Family Reserve No. 85 Maduro, San Lotano Oval Robusto, and Master by Carlos Toraño.

3) Inside the Industry: The highly anticipated Litto Gomez Small Batch No. 4 from La Flor Dominicana is now hitting retail shops. This year’s blend is a Dominican puro with a pelo de oro wrapper. Only 240 boxes of the cigars were made, and each smoke will sell for $19. In addition, La Flor is releasing a Cameroon-wrapped Chisel and the Factory Press IV.

4) Around the Blogs: Cigar Fan examines the Arturo Fuente Sun Grown Magnum R52. Smoking Stogie reveals the top five cigars of 2011. Cigar Explorer reviews the Trinidad Short Robusto T LE 2010. Tiki Bar names the Four Kicks the best cigar of the year.

5) Deal of the Week: To help you ring in the New Year, this special deal gets you 10 cigars for under $30. Inlcuded are smokes from La Aurora, Don Pepin Garcia, La Gloria Cubana, Perdomo, Toraño, Punch, and more. Or you can double-up for a total $50.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Montecristo New York Connoisseur Edition

29 Dec 2011

It’s been a few years since my last Dominican-made Montecristo. Too long, perhaps, since I enjoyed many of them, particularly the Montecristo Classic made by Altadis USA.

With that in mind, I was glad to try the new Montecristo New York Edition, introduced recently by Altadis. The concept, a cigar especially for the the New York market, isn’t new as evidenced by Alec Bradley’s Gotham and Broadway by La Aurora.

The Montecristo New York Edition is a large, box-pressed cigar (6 x 60) featuring the classic Montecristo band accompanied by a black band with the New York skyline. Unlike many box-pressed smokes, it is a square-press, with the cigar as wide as it is deep.

Once lit, the Montecristo New York produces smooth and balanced flavors. I found it to be a medium-bodied smoke (though in marketing materials, Altadis calls it medium-full).

Either way, its a balanced mixture of subtle leather, butter, toast, and honey. The flavors are consistent from start to finish, though the body and some graham spice builds towards the final third.

Normally, I’m not a fan of such large cigars, but the box press on this stick makes it manageable and more comfortable in the mouth. Flawless construction also makes for a trouble-free 90-minute smoke.

At $14 each, it’s not cheap, but then you wouldn’t expect a special edition Montecristo to be. Let’s just hope that the price includes New York’s sky-high taxes.

All in all, this cigar has enjoyable flavors with distinctive packaging, and as a New Yorker I’m a fan of the Gotham theme. That’s why the New York Connoisseur Edition earns a very solid four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Tatuaje La Vérité Churchill 2009

28 Dec 2011

Tatuaje creator Pete Johnson has called his series of Vérité cigars his “most serious project to date.” This statement resonates with the many enthusiasts who consider Tatuaje to be among the world’s best cigar outfits.

I can understand why Johnson holds Vérité (French for “the truth”) in such high regard. “La Vérité Vintage,” as he calls it, brings a vintner’s approach to cigar making, employing a wrapper, binder, and filler all grown on the same farm. “Much like a single vineyard wine, La Vérité showcases the soil where the tobacco was grown,” reads his website. “The seed varietal varies from year to year based on the crop planted and the tobacco yielded.”

Also like wine, Johnson uses a futures system to sell the cigars before they’re available for consumption. Even though it would not ship until July, the second vintage, 2009, went on sale back in March. That’s when I bought a box of 10 La Vérité 2009s for $150. (I also bought a box of 10 L’Espirit de Vérité 2009s for $120.) These prices respectively increased to $200 and $160 in April, then again to $225 and $180 in May.

Like the 2008 Vintage, all of the tobacco in this cigar comes from La Estrella, the Garcia family’s farm in Nicaragua, and is handmade under the direction of Jaime Garcia at My Father Cigars. Unlike the 2008 Vintage, which was made with 100% Habano Nicaraguan tobacco, L’Espirit de Vérité 2009 is comprised of 50% Habano, 40% Criollo ’98, and 10% Pelo de Oro tobacco.

Visually, the Churchill is very similar to L’Espirit de Vérité. It has a medium brown, somewhat reddish exterior leaf that’s oily and textured. The seams are easy to pick out and several thick veins run the length of the seven-inch cigar. But the overall impression is one of quality, and the faint pre-light aroma of earth and cocoa proves to be a good predictor of the complex smoke that’s to follow.

Where L’Espirit de Vérité 2009 starts with pepper, raisin, and cocoa and later transitions to creamier, nuttier tones, the Churchill is creamy from the get-go. Flavors of cashew, raisin, and mint are apparent at the outset. Later, towards the midway point and beyond, a dry wood taste takes center stage as most of the creaminess dissipates. The physical properties are also excellent, as you would expect from a cigar that now costs over $25 apiece (if you are lucky enough to find one).

If pressed, I’d have to say that L’Espirit de Vérité 2009, a robusto-sized smoke, is slightly more enjoyable than this Churchill. But it’s really close, and that’s high praise. The Churchill has ample complexity, subtlety, and several interesting transitions along the way, earning it a rating of four and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 269

23 Dec 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) Demonstrating the lengths some groups and politicians will go to control tobacco, five U.S. senators are now urging the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to outright ban flavored cigars nationwide. “Cigars with candy-like flavorings such as strawberry, watermelon, vanilla, and chocolate attract kids to smoking and help hook them on this addictive habit,” wrote Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CN) in a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. This move further underscores the need to differentiate premium handmade cigars from cheap machine-made sticks, as well as the need to pass the “Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2011,” which would repeal the FDA’s authority to regulate cigars.

2) Last week we reported that Camacho Cigars signed a three-year deal to become a corporate sponsor of the Orange Bowl. But on Tuesday, ten anti-tobacco groups sent a letter to collegiate athletics officials saying that “the Florida cigar company’s sponsorship of the football games have no place in sports and shouldn’t be allowed under federal tobacco marketing restrictions.” According to an article published yesterday, representatives from Camacho, the NCAA, and the Orange Bowl have not yet responded to the letter.

3) Inside the Industry: Oliva is making a new version of its highly-regarded Series V smoke in its new Miami facility starting early next year. Barry Stein, proprietor of, is joining Miami Cigar & Co. Cromagnon is finally available in boxes that brand owner Skip Martin calls “cubes” with 35 cigars each. (To celebrate, Cromagnon is giving one lucky winner a free trip to Austin, Texas, full of cigars, beer, and BBQ. Details here.)

4) Around the Blogs: Stogie Review reviews El Primer Mundo Epiphania. Smoking Stogie smokes a J. Fuego 777 Corojo Paka. Cigar Inspector inspects an E.P. Carrillo Club 52. Tiki Bar kicks back with a Savinelli Dos Campeones 21. Nice Tight Ash checks out a Casa Magnus Domus Optimus.

5) Deal of the Week: This weekly special gets you 10 quality sticks for just $30. Included are top smokes from Excalibur, Gurkha, Camacho, Romeo y Julieta, Rocky Patel, CAO, and Perdomo.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Cigar Tip: Five Suggestions for the New Cigar Smoker

22 Dec 2011

Last month, we provided some suggestions for finding new cigars. New cigar smokers might get the most out of those tips, but they are lessons even cigar veterans can benefit from.

Similarly, though these five suggestions are aimed primarily at those who’ve recently taken up cigars, I sometimes feel we’re all new smokers at some time or other. I still get a rush walking into a large, well-stocked humidor and a feeling of anticipation lighting up a cigar I’ve not tried before or wondering what experience I’ll find from different tobaccos.

With that in mind, here are five ways to make sure that you get the most out of every cigar experience:

1. Keep your mouth wet. Your taste buds won’t work as well when they’ve dried out. If you’re looking for something that won’t affect the cigar’s flavors try water or club soda.

2. Take time to make sure you have an even light on the cigar’s foot. Keep an eye on the burn as it progresses. If it gets uneven, you won’t experience the cigar the way it was intended.

3. If you find yourself in the proverbial smoke-filled room (and you’re not handing out highway contracts), step out periodically for some fresh air. Too much smoke can overload your senses and dull the experience of your cigar.

4. Try a V-cut or punch when smoking short- or mixed-filler cigars. This can limit the bits of tobacco that end up on your tongue.

5. Enjoy yourself. This might sound silly. But remember that cigar smoking is a hobby of pleasure, not accomplishment. The number of hot new releases you acquire, the size of your humidor, the money you spend or save…all this and more is meaningless unless you find enjoyment in the cigars you smoke.

George E

photo credit: Flickr

Cigar Insider: Matt Urbano of Urbano Cigars

21 Dec 2011

I had the pleasure of meeting Matt Urbano of Urbano Cigars last month while visiting Tampa. He introduced me to his line of cigars and handed me a three-pack sampler with an Urbano Corojo, Urbano Sumatra, and Urbano Connecticut. Urbano Cigars is a boutique line offering three different wrappers. Their cigars are not mass-produced, or rushed into the market for catalog or discount wholesalers. Urbanos are solidly constructed with aged long-filler and binder tobaccos that have been triple-fermented. Urbano Cigars are rolled in the same manner as many Cubans to ensure a cool draw with an even burn, then finished with a double-cap.

I tried the Sumatra right away and was pleased with its bold taste, smooth even burn, and quality construction. Matt was on his way to the Ybor City Cigar Heritage Festival where Urbano Cigars had a tent beside the Arturo Fuente family and across the street from Cigar Rights of America (CRA). We talked cigar blends and production.

Stogie Guys: Urbano Cigars are relatively new to the market. Tell us how you got started.

Matt Urbano: My passion for cigars began 20-plus years ago while working in the restaurant industry. As an executive chef passionate about food, rich flavors, and complex textures, I worked in many restaurants and private clubs throughout the northeast. After I relocated to Tampa I quickly became steeped in the local area’s rich cigar history and became friendly with a master cigar blender that travels regularly between Tampa and the Dominican Republic. Trusting my new friend and his own palate I took my passion for flavor and teamed up with this cigar master to create the ultimate line of cigars. Urbano Cigars has a full line offering three different wrappers that will meet any cigar smoker’s needs from the casual smoker to the aficionado. I invite you to share the smooth draw and rich, complex flavors in each carefully blended and hand-rolled Urbano Cigar.

SG: Tell us a bit about the three different wrappers that you offer and a little bit about your philosophy on blends.

MU: The Urbano Corojo is a true Dominican puro with first-generation Cuban-seed tobaccos aged for three years and triple-fermented. It has a medium to full body with a reddish hue blended from carefully aged Dominican tobacco. You’ll find a hearty, complex flavor with a hint of spice at the open, followed by hints of roasted nuts and smooth cedar undertones. Wait till you spark one up: a Cuban-like flavor with nothing less than a mesmerizing and delectable aroma. Sizes and MSRPs: Robusto $7.00, Toro $7.10, Torpedo $7.20, Churchill $7.40, 6 x 60 $7.50.

The Urbano Sumatra is aged for two years and triple-fermented. It is medium-bodied with an eye-catching, chocolaty, satin wrapper. Enjoy this cigar from start to finish with the continuous flavors and solid white ash, sweet, earthy flavor turning to a creamy chocolaty smoke with a light leathery finish. The wrapper is Sumatra, the binder Indonesian, and the filler is Dominican. Sizes and MSRPs: Robusto $5.00, Torpedo $5.20, Churchill $5.40, 6 x 60 $5.50.

The Urbano Connecticut is aged for two years and triple-fermented with a beautiful, silky smooth wrapper light brown in color. Well-balanced with a cool, slow, even burn. It has tasty floral notes along with a bit of cinnamon and dash of nutmeg. An excellent choice for your morning smoke to accompany your favorite coffee. Wrapper is Connecticut Ecuadorian, and both the binder and filler are Dominican. Sizes and MSRPs: Robusto $5.00,Torpedo $5.20, Churchill $5.40, 6 x 60 $5.50.

SG: For a new cigar business, or for a cigar business in general, what kind of challenges do you currently face and what can you do about them?

MU: I strongly feel in today’s world the biggest challenges to a cigar retailer are the aggressive anti-smoking bans. Every cigar smoker, from the guy that smokes one cigar a year to the person that smokes regularly, should be a member of CRA. As a manufacturer the challenges of getting my line out to new retail shops is much harder than it sounds. You want to get to know your local retailer and get plugged into their event list. I offer brick and mortar cigar shops great deals throughout our product line along with marketing materials and support. We do not have order minimums and are open to working with the retailer to meet their needs.

SG: What sets Urbano Cigars apart from the rest of the marketplace?

MU: Our cigars are not mass-produced. We focus on quality, one cigar at a time. We do not rush the process and all of our tobacco goes through a triple fermentation.

SG: Are you offering any kind of special on your website? If I’ve never tried an Urbano Cigar, what is the best way to get started?

MU: We offer many specials on the website for people to start small and get an introduction to our lines by sample packs. We also offer excusive monthly deals though email to people that sign up to our list. I always say just don’t visit the site, sign up for our list. Our members get specials all the time. Our current special is a mixed box sampler along with a travel humidor and cutter.

SG: You had a booth at the Ybor Cigar Festival. What other trade shows or events do you plan to visit? Where can our readers meet you (other than online)?

MU: The main event that is geared towards retailers it is the yearly IPCPR. We had a booth last year in Vegas and will be in Orlando in 2012. I love to get involved with local events and am always looking to do more local events. I also support many of the local cigar store events throughout Tampa Bay. Cigar stores are my home away from home. Be sure to check out Sign up to follow us and be the first to see what’s new and where we are heading!

Special thanks for Matt Urbano of Urbano Cigars for taking the time to talk with Stogie Guys. You can visit him online here.

Mark M

photo credit: Urbano Cigars

Cigar Review: Toraño Vault Liga A-008 Torpedo

20 Dec 2011

Toraño brought out two new cigars at last August’s IPCPR Trade Show. Loyal, a value-priced cigar featuring an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and Dominican and Nicaraguan filler, came out immediately after the show.

The more highly-anticipated Toraño Vault only shipped a couple of months ago. The Vault concept originates from a book of cigar blends, which according to Toraño documents every blend ever created by the company since the 80’s, including many that never made it to market. Toraño executives Charlie Toraño and Bruce Lewis have now begun using the documented blends as inspiration for new blends.

Liga A-800 is the first such Vault-inspired blend. In the Vault book (now kept in a bank vault, according to Toraño’s marketing materials) the A-800 “recipe” uses a shade-grown Nicaraguan Colorado wrapper, Honduran Jamastran binder, and Nicaraguan filler from both Estelí and Condega.

After tasting their reconstructed A-800 blend, Toraño decided to add one ingredient that wasn’t available to Toraño when it was originally made in 2000: a second binder using Nicaraguan Ometepe tobacco (from the volcanic island in Nicaragua that was previously exclusive to General Cigars). This new recipe comes in three sizes: Robusto (5 x 52), Toro (6 x 50), and Torpedo (6.1 x 52), plus a limited release Corona Gorda (5.6 x 46).

I reviewed the Torpedo, which sells for just under $8 each. The cigar is firm with no soft spots on the dry, reddish-brown wrapper. It has a complex combination of cinnamon, black coffee, leather, and wood. It’s a medium- to full-bodied cigar with a dry, clove-like spice that I associate with Ometepe tobacco.

There’s not a lot of variation from start to finish, though dry chocolate and leather emerge slightly in the blend that is dominated by wood and spice. Construction is superb, which I’ve come to expect from Toraño.

This is a good smoke, but I’m not sure it ranks with Toraño’s best. (My favorite is the 50 Years Exodus.) Still, it’s well-made and complex, and makes me look forward to the next Vault blend. That all earns the Toraño Vault Liga A-008 Torpedo 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