Archive | July, 2012

Cigar News: First Look at New Cigars Being Introduced at the 80th IPCPR Trade Show

31 Jul 2012

With the trade show just around the corner (it opens on Thursday), announcements about new releases are coming fast and furious. Instead of our traditional preview article (which would be longer than ever this year), I thought I’d cover some of the new cigars debuting at the show that I’ve already smoked.

Room 101 Daruma

The newest Room 101 blend comes in five sizes (4 x 42, 4 x 48, 7 x 38, 7 x 48, and 5 x 60) ranging from $6.25 to $10.25. It’s an interesting blend containing an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a Brazilian mata fina binder, and Honduran and Dominican filler (utilizing corojo, criollo, and pelo de oro tobacco).

My Take: I smoked one in the “Papi Chulo” (4 x 42) size. It has a unique edge to it that’s hard to put my finger on, and it’s dominated by lots of charred oak and clove notes. Definitely full-bodied.

A. Flores Serie Privada

Via press release from Pinar del Rio: “A. Flores Serie Privada will be released with a Habano Ecuador wrapper and a Maduro Habano Ecuador wrapper. Both cigars will be comprised of Nicaraguan Habano binders as well as Nicaraguan Habano and Dominican corojo filler.” The cigars come in 24-count boxes featuring three vitolas with MSRPs in the $9.75-12.75 range: Robusto (5 x 52), Toro (6 x 54), and Churchill (7 x 58). The Robusto and Toro are box-pressed, while the Churchill is not.

My Take: I smoked one of the Maduro Habano Ecuadors in the Robusto size at Famous Smoke Shop’s Cigarnival event and thoroughly enjoyed it. I remember noting the medium- to full-bodied flavors with excellent balance.

J. Fuego Edición de Familia 2012

Jesus Fuego gave me the details on the Edición de Familia when I saw him at Cigarnival. The cigar features a ten-year-old sun-grown Sumatran wrapper  around Nicaraguan and Honduran tobaccos. It is the most limited (150 boxes of 10 in each of the three sizes) and expensive cigar Fuego has released. It won’t ship until November. The 2012 is the first of what Jesus plans on becoming an annual release.

My Take: Great balance in this smoke. I’d put it squarely in the medium-bodied range. It features a little spice, and heavy bready flavors.

Drew Estate Liga Privada Único Serie Papas Fritas

A highly anticipated new release, “Papa Fritas” (pictured with the prototype “Black Rat” and “Big Black Rat” bands) is a Liga Privada-based blend that will sell for around $6 each. It’s a mixed-filler cigar (5 x 53) with a twisted cap. It uses the same broadleaf wrapper as the original Liga (using smaller second cuttings) and a Habano binder. Sixty percent of the filler is “picadora” using the cuttings from Liga Privada cigars, while the rest of the filler is split between viso and ligero.

My Take: Based on the one sample I smoked (given to me during my visit to Drew Estate in May), it’s certainly similar to the LP blend, but it doesn’t smoke exactly like one. I’m not sure if that’s due to the short-filler or the blend, but either way it’s a tasty cigar.

My Uzi Weighs A Ton +11

This is the second MUWAT without a 60 ring gauge (the first being the Baitfish). At $8 each, the smoke (5.5 x 52) will come in packages of ten, similar to the original My Uzi. Reportedly, the blend will be a little stronger than the original, but not as much as the Baitfish “EF” blend.

My Take: While not officially confirmed, I’m almost certain I smoked one of these in Nicaragua (given to me by Jonathan Drew while touring the Joya de Nicaragua factory). For me, it’s the perfect combination (in terms of both size and blend) of the original Uzi and amped-up Baitfish blends.

Recluse by Iconic Leaf Cigars

There’s mystery surrounding this new boutique cigar maker. Its website says “Iconic Leaf Cigar was founded by two very well-known and well-respected legends in the cigar industry [that] have chosen to keep their identities private.” The box-pressed cigars, made with the entubaro method, are being released in ten sizes. They feature a unique combination of a Brazilian wrapper, Cameroon binder, and Dominican filler.

My Take: I’ve smoked the Toro and found it to be a very interesting cigar, heavily influenced by the Cameroon binder. It features cinnamon-like spice and leather. With a very oily wrapper, this is a cigar I look forward to smoking more of.

 In addition to these cigars, read our reviews of the following cigars, each of which are being released at the IPCPR Trade Show: Dona Flor Puro Mata Fina Robusto, Santos de Miami Haven Parejo, and Dona Flor Seleção Robusto. Our coverage of the 80th annual IPCPR Trade Show will start Thursday with live updates.

Patrick S

photo credits: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Arturo Fuente Work of Art Natural

30 Jul 2012

We’re only days away from the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show, and that means the cigar world is fixed in a forward-looking gaze to the new, the sexy, and the most aggressively marketed. No doubt a few of the smokes released at the event will become favorites for years. Many others will soon be forgotten duds.

My colleagues and I have long encouraged our readers to read about and sample the newest creations on the market, but we’ve also done our best to remind you that there’s something to be said for the tried, tested, and true. That’s why today I’m reviewing a smoke that’s no newcomer, and one that is manufactured by one of the oldest, most consistent cigar makers on the planet.

The Work of Art by Arturo Fuente boasts a unique shape that’s a wonder to behold. With a narrowed foot and a torpedo-style cap, the ring gauge of the Work of Art quickly swells to 60, hits 56 at the midway point, and shrinks to 46 just after the red, gold, and black band. It must take years for torcedores to build the skills to create this complex vitola.

Work of Art is available in two varieties: Maduro and Natural. I picked up a Natural at my local tobacconist for right around $11, which is a considerable price to pay for such a small smoke. It has a toothy, brownish-yellow Cameroon wrapper around aged Dominican binder and filler tobaccos. The foot has a light, sweet aroma of honey and hay.

As you might expect, it’s easy to get the narrowed foot lit with a single wooden match. The draw is a bit stiff at this point. As the ring gauge balloons the draw opens nicely. Don’t be surprised if you have to make a minor touch-up at the outset to get the burn straight. Once you do, though, the burn is perfect to the nub.

The flavor at the beginning is classic Cameroon: plenty of sweetness balanced by notes of spice and cedar. As the cigar widens, the profile builds a bit and some bitter leather notes creep in. All the while a light, creamy nuttiness adds texture.

I really do like this cigar. I think many seasoned cigar veterans probably pass it up because it’s mild and small for its price. But there are times when I want a smaller, milder cigar, and I don’t mind paying $11 every once in a while for such a well-built, nicely balanced, beautiful smoke. If you haven’t tried one lately, pick up an Arturo Fuente Work of Art Natural the next time you get the chance. It’s worthy of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Casa Miranda Robusto

29 Jul 2012

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 highly-anticipated new release from last year’s IPCPR Trade Show seemed to lose its buzz when the man responsible for blending the cigar, Willy Herrera, left El Titan de Bronze (the Miami factory where the cigar is made) for Drew Estate before the cigar even came to market. Still, the Casa Miranda Robusto has been growing on me of late. The “made in America” cigar features an Ecuadorian wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. The flavors are classic, no-frills, and designed (in my opinion) to appeal to cigar aficionados—it’s woody, earthy, and dominated by what can only be described as warm tobacco notes. The medium- to full-bodied Robusto is notable to me in that the more I smoke it the more I enjoy it. Originally selling for an MSRP of $10 per cigar, if you have the chance to pick up a box for half that (as I did), I’d strongly suggest you consider it.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Room 101 Conjura

28 Jul 2012

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 smoked only a few Room 101 cigars, but when I saw this year-old release on the shelf I had to try it. Touted as more powerful than other Room 101 cigars, it reminded me of the first 601 Red I experienced: spicy hot and nearly lip-numbing. I was hooked. I was smoking the 6.5-inch, 54-ring gauge vitola. I couldn’t find much about this line, except that it has a Rosado wrapper, Honduran binder, and filler from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, and that it comes in four sizes. Whichever one you see, give it a try.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: N/A

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 298

27 Jul 2012

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) Politicians in Santa Monica—the unofficial ground zero of anti-tobacco lunacy—were considering a bold regulation that would criminalize smoking for new tenants in apartments and condos, and they had even asked city employees to recommend a date by which all existing apartment and condo units would also be deemed smoke-free. These measures have been surprisingly dropped for the time being, but not because the city didn’t want to encroach on the rights of consenting adults in their own homes. Instead, the city is tabling the regulations because it doesn’t want to interfere with those who smoke medicinal marijuana.

2) With this year’s industry trade show just around the corner, many cigar makers are issuing press releases about the new smokes they plan to bring to market. Gurkha, for example, says it is launching a 125th Anniversary blend of four sizes that will retail for $8-11 apiece. Miami Cigar & Co. is producing a Nicaraguan habano oscuro-wrapped blend called Añoranza. Mercer Cigars is releasing a series of blends handmade by “Handsome Jimmy,” a cigar roller from Cuba. The Toraño Family Cigar Company is rolling out Salutem. And Iconic Leaf Cigar is debuting a line called Recluse. These excerpts are but a few of the many press releases we have received over the past week. Stay tuned in the days leading up to the IPCPR Trade Show for more coverage, and be sure to check back on August 2 when the trade show actually begins, as the team will again be on hand to cover the year’s biggest cigar event.

3) Inside the Industry: Macanudo is sending eight contest winners to Augusta National to watch the 2013 Masters. Each winner and one guest will be whisked away to the mecca of golf from April 10-15 where they will enjoy a golf-lover’s dream come true: all-access tickets to the first major golf championship of the year, including roundtrip airfare and accommodations. Enter here.

4) Around the Blogs: Stogie Review reviews the Casa Fernandez Miami. Nice Tight Ash checks out the CAO LX2 Rosado Especial (CRA Edition). Cigar Brief smokes the J. Fuego Origen Maduro Original. Cigar Fan fires up a Partagas 1845.

5) Deal of the Week: Last call to enter the Hoyo de Monterrey box-a-day giveaway.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Cigar Review: Illusione Singulare 2011

26 Jul 2012

On Tuesday I gave my opinion of the brand new Illusione Singulare 2012. Now I turn to its box-mate, the Illusione Singulare 2011 (which, despite its 2011 designation, is also new). To recap, here’s what I wrote two days ago about the dual release:

The original Illusione Singulare 2010, known as “Phantom,” is one of my favorite cigars of all time, a cigar I bought four boxes of before the the 1,000-box run was exhausted. I remarkably still have half a box left. If ever I’m pressed to give my hypothetical “desert island cigar” (a single cigar that would be the only one you’d smoke for the rest of your life), Phantom is always in consideration.

That makes the 2011 and 2012 Illusione Singulare cigars some of my most anticipated smokes of the year. Both were shipped to stores last week together in boxes of 15, selling for $170 (around $11 per cigar). Boxes apparently randomly have eight of one blend and seven of the other. The two blends can be easily identified because the 2012 comes wrapped in tissue paper and the 2011 doesn’t.

More obviously, the 2012 features a San Andreas maduro wrapper, while the 2011 features a natural corojo wrapper that looks similar to the original 2010 version. Both have a combination of Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. Notably, these are the first Illusione cigars to be made in Nicaragua at the TABSA factory operated by Eduardo Fernández, who also owns the Honduran Raices Cubanas factory where all the previous Illusione cigars have been made.

Like the San Andreas-wrapped 2012, the corojo-wrapped 2011 is a toro (6 x 52), whereas the 2010 was slightly thinner (6 x 50). The wrapper is relatively veinless with a bit of shine. It looks a lot like the original Illusione Singulare 2010 Phantom. Not to mention that Illusione-maker Dion Giolito says both (the 2010 and 2011) use a corojo wrapper.

Flavor wise, there are also some similarities to the 2010 Singulare. Like that cigar, the 2011 strikes me as a combination of the Epernay and original Illusione (natural) line. It’s medium-bodied with a lot going on.

The cigar is a very Cuban-esque combination of cedar and earth. Balanced and complex, with flavors that are hard to identify. There’s a hint of the tannic flavors I so enjoyed from the Singulare 2010, especially in the second half of the cigar, but not as pronounced.

It features excellent construction, with an easy draw and even burn. Though wholly unscientific, I think this cigar has real potential for aging, if you have the patience not to smoke them all too quickly.

While currently I think the Singulare 2012 smokes better than the corojo-wrapped 2011, I suspect (given the experience of the 2010) that the Singulare 2011 will age tremendously. With excellent construction, balanced, complex flavors, and good aging potential, the Singulare 2011 earns a formidable four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Tip: Camping with Cigars

25 Jul 2012

Last Wednesday I posted the below picture on our Facebook page, saying I was camping on the beach. My wife and I drove from Chicago to visit friends in DC, attend a wedding, and camp by ourselves on Assateague Island, a barrier island off the coast of Maryland.

Now I’m not typically what you’d call “outdoorsy.” The camping part of the trip was my wife’s idea. I decided to comply with her request because (1) she always gets her way in the end anyhow and (2) it was high time we got some use out of all the camping gear we received as wedding gifts two years ago. So for three nights we camped in the sand a few hundred feet from the Atlantic Ocean. By and large, it was a lot of fun. It was also a lot of work.

Naturally, I brought along a few cigars to enhance my experience. And while I’m no expert when it comes to camping by any means, I did learn a few things about how best to enjoy premium tobacco when you’re out in the elements. Below are a few tips I’ve compiled.

Bring extra butane. It can be windy out there, especially if you’re camping on a beach. So I brought along a torch, a backup torch, and extra butane. These tools also came in handy for building great fires. (I know some of you die-hard campers will say using a butane torch takes all the fun out of building a campfire, but I guess that depends on your definition of “fun.” I just want to get that fire going.)

Don’t bother with an ashtray. Camping requires you to pack, haul, and set up a ton of gear. So why bother with an ashtray if it’s completely unnecessary? Your fire pit—whether a fire is burning or not—is a fine place to ash or discard a finished cigar. And if you need a place to rest a cigar while you’re smoking it, just improvise based on your surroundings. I typically rested my cigar across the top of the beer can I was drinking. I drank a fair amount of beer.

Keep your stash cool. My wife and I experienced triple-digit temperatures during the day, and that’s no good for cigars. So I kept my stash of smokes in a carefully sealed Ziploc bag, with a humidification pillow, and stored it atop the ice inside our cooler. The bag never had direct contact with ice and never got too cold since I’d rotate the bag between inside the cooler and somewhere else in the shade. This worked pretty well.

Pack short cigars and long cigars. Sometimes I’d want a short cigar, like when I was foraging for kindling before dinner. Other times I’d want a long cigar, like when I was gazing up at the stars at night. I was pleased I brought along an assortment of variously sized smokes to accommodate my different cigar needs. I suggest you do the same.

I’m sure many of you out there are much more experienced when it comes to camping. If you have some tips of your own related to cigars and camping, please feel free to share them in the comments for the benefit of us all.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys