Archive | July, 2012

Commentary: Random Thoughts from the Humidor (IX)

16 Jul 2012

In this segment of Random Thoughts from the Humidor, I look at rare displays of honesty, seasonal changes, and why new releases may be good for your wallet.

Telling the Truth

Sometimes the truth will come out. Check out these descriptions from a recent Holt’s catalog about two of its bundle offerings:

  • “Below average flavor and construction”
  • “Mild and non-descript”

Then there’s the pitch from Corona Cigar Co. for its cleverly named bundle, Don Nobody: “Well here’s the truth…I ain’t no Cuban and these cigars aren’t made by somebody claiming to be Fidel Castro’s personal cigar roller.” You gotta love it.

Summer’s Here

Remember that the changing seasons can mean different things for your humidor. With summer now fully upon us, you may need to think again about humidity levels, temperatures, and humidor placement. Air-conditioning can suck moisture from the air similar to what many heating systems do, possibly reducing the level in your room to as low as 40%. It’s a good idea to frequently check whatever type of humidification system you use. If you have a cooler spot in your home, such as a cellar or basement, that’s often a good location for the humidor. Use a thermometer to measure the ambient temperature rather than rely on the thermostat that’s probably several rooms away. And, remember, fans don’t lower the temperature.

New Cigars, Better Deals?

Buckle up for an onslaught of new cigar releases. With the annual International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers (IPCPR) Trade Show less than a month away, cigar makers will be presenting new lines, new extensions for old lines, new sizes, new tobaccos, new, new, new. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and caught up in the hype. Don’t worry, though, if you can’t find some special cigar you want to try. If it’s any good, it’ll show up sooner or later. (If not, why’d you want to smoke it anyway?) Sometimes August and September can be good for bargain hunters. Some shop owners, fresh from placing orders and anticipating new stock, need to clear out space. They may mark down sticks that haven’t been selling well or are being dropped. So keep your eyes open.

George E

photo credit: Holt’s Cigar Co.

Quick Smoke: Montecristo White (CRA Sampler Edition)

15 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.”

It had been a few years since I last smoked a Dominican-made Montecristo White. My memory was that it’s solidly-made, mild, and creamy, and this CRA Edition, which comes in the latest CRA Sampler, met those expectations. This cigar is exceptionally well made (easy draw, razor-sharp burn, and solid ash) and features a mild-bodied combination with straw, cream, honey, and cedar notes. While this cigar doesn’t fit my profile, there’s no denying that it’s a well-made and well-balanced mild cigar—a safe choice for an occasional smoker.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credits: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: My Father Le Bijou 1922 Petit Robusto

14 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.”


As a big fan of the original My Father series, I was surprisingly disappointed by the Le Bijou 1922 blend when I first tried it. I recently decided to give the line another try with hopes that I’d have a better experience. As I remember, the construction is outstanding and the Petit Robusto (4.5 x 50) is also no slouch when it comes to appearance, with a lovely Ecuadorian Habano oscuro wrapper. But the flavor falls a little flat as notes of earth and pepper fail to develop into something more complex. While the Le Bijou 1922 Petit Robusto isn’t necessarily a bad cigar, I can think of better ways to spend $7-8.

Verdict = Sell.

Patrick A

photo credits: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 297

13 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) Not satisfied with the widespread criminalization of smoking in most places, zealots are now turning their attention to private homes. And they’re starting this trend exactly where you’d expect: California, the hotbed of anti-tobacco lunacy. “The Santa Monica City Council has approved an ordinance that would prohibit smoking for new tenants in apartments and condos,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “The ordinance, passed Tuesday night by a 4-2 vote, would allow existing tenants to continue to smoke in their residences if they seek to have them designated as ‘smoking’…Whether that condition will endure is uncertain. In a related action, the council directed city staff to recommend a date on which all existing apartment and condo units in the city would be deemed smoke-free.”

2) In last month’s “Question of the Month,” we asked readers what matters most when selecting a new cigar. “Word of mouth” topped the poll with 26% of the vote, followed by “written reviews” (24%), “price” (15%), “wrapper type” (14%), “blender” (11%), and brand (10%). Thanks to everyone who voted. Be sure to weigh in on this month’s question by voting in the sidebar to the right. And please contact us if you’ve got suggestion for a future poll.

3) Inside the Industry: 262 Cigars will be launching a new line called Revere in the fall that will be a Nicaraguan puro that sells for $6-9 in three sizes. American Kick Ass Cigars (AKA Cigars) is dropping the prices of its Hybrid and Respect blends by $1 per cigar. Casa Magna is introducing three box-pressed sizes to its Colorado line.

4) Deal of the Week: Here’s a Maduro Sampler with ten top maduro smokes for $35 (or double up for $60). Included are two Drew Estate Undercrowns, two Partagas Black Labels, two La Gloria Serie Rs, and two Boris 11 Maduros.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Commentary: Gold Star Smokes (Part VI)

12 Jul 2012

It’s been too long since the team published a new list of Gold Star Smokes. As you might recall, this special designation celebrates cigars that we feel are worthy of strong recommendations. They don’t necessarily have to be five stogie-rated—just commendable smokes we turn to time and again.

Gold Star Smokes

Co-Founder & Editor in Chief Patrick A

The Nestor Miranda Grand Reserve typically sells for $12 per cigar, but when my local shop put the torpedo (6.1 x 52) on sale for $9.50, I grabbed up a sizeable stash. This wonderful cigar, which debuted about a year ago, has a flavor of spice, cream, earthiness, and sweetness that hits my palate in all the right ways. Expertly balanced and more complex than most realize, this is a fine cigar with excellent construction. It’s too bad only 10,000 torpedos were produced.

Co-Founder & Publisher Patrick S

As soon as I smoked Babyface, the Tatuaje Monsters version of “The Face,” I wished I had bought more than the two boxes of the Little Monsters I purchased, plus the one I was gifted before mine arrived (each Little Monsters box has two Babyfaces). The robusto-sized cigar features tremendous creaminess, graham cracker, and dark chocolate. The finish is deliciously clean and the cigar has excellent construction. I would buy two boxes in a second if this cigar was available by the box for its pro-rated price of $7.50 per cigar.

Tampa Bureau Chief George E

Sometimes it’s necessary to experiment within a line to find one that’s made for you. I tried several of the smaller sizes when Le Bijou debuted; while I enjoyed them, I wasn’t blown away. Then I had the My Father Le Bijou 1922 Churchill (7 x 50), a complex powerhouse that shifts gears, weaves in and out, and continually impresses and delights. For me, the larger size opened up a “new” cigar. And made for a Gold Star Smoke.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Dona Flor Puro Mata Fina Robusto

11 Jul 2012

When I reviewed the new Seleção Robusto last month, I mentioned that Dona Flor, a top brand in Brazil for years, was once a darling of

The company’s blends earned high praise from my colleagues and I back in 2006 and 2007. The Alonso Menendez Robusto was no exception. That smoke might have been my favorite Dona Flor at the time. I remember it as a rough-looking specimen made of mata fina tobacco with a quick burn, good construction, and an aromatic profile of coffee and milk chocolate—a flavor that I’d sometimes describe as “moist chocolate cake.” But my access to the Alonso Menendez Robusto was cut off for years as legal issues halted Dona Flor’s brief distribution to the U.S.

Then, on June 5 of this year, I received a press release proclaiming Dona Flor’s re-introduction to the American market. I quickly scoured the text in hopes of seeing the Alonso Menendez name. No such luck. But there was a new blend that looked and sounded a lot like my old friend. Called the Dona Flor Puro Mata Fina Robusto, it too is made from 100% mata fina tobacco. Save for the updated band, it also looks like the Alonso Menendez Robusto, with a coarse, textured wrapper, a loose packing of tobacco, and a similar cap. And the Puro Mata Fina Robusto is even sold in the same size (5 x 52). The retail price will run around $8.

Before setting fire to the foot, the pre-light aroma of the Puro Mata Fina Robusto does remind me of Alonso Menendez. It’s a potent fragrance of sweet chocolate. The cap clips easily to reveal a predictably airy draw with some sweetness on the lips.

Now the Puro Mata Fina Robusto is a fast-burning cigar, so that means a few things. First, the cigar takes less time to smoke than your average robusto. Second, the burn is perfectly even and requires no touch-ups along the way. Third, each puff gives off tons of smoke. And fourth, I’d typically expect a cigar with such rapid combustion to taste hot and harsh.

Thankfully, though, the flavor is anything but. At the outset the profile is cool, dry, and cedary with notes of allspice, leather, and pine nut. There’s also a fair amount of dark chocolate bitterness present—a contrast to the sweet chocolate that’s so pervasive in the Alonso Menendez. As it progresses, the bitterness and the woodiness ramp up significantly, and charred notes dominate the final third.

Since I started working on this review, I’ve learned that the Puro Mata Fina Robusto is not simply the reincarnation of the Alonso Menendez. Dona Flor aims to eventually reintroduce Alonso Menendez to the U.S. market, but that probably won’t happen for at least another year. In the meantime, the Puro Mata Fina Robusto is a decidedly different cigar, one that’s worthy of three and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Santos de Miami Haven Parejo

10 Jul 2012

At Cigarnival, I made a point of asking various cigar makers what they had planned for the upcoming IPCPR Trade Show. When I posed the question to Brad Mayo of Jameson Cigars, he pointed at a box he had displayed on his table.

Thinking it was the Santos de Miami, which was released at last year’s show, I had overlooked that this cigar was different and new. Brad explained that one of his many experiments was set for release at the show: a non-pressed version of his Santos de Miami blend.

The difference, he explained, is more than just the shape (which, in addition to shedding the extremely sharp box-press, loses the pigtail cap). The round parejo shape’s blend is stronger, he said, because it contains more filler because the box-pressed shape has to be rolled looser in order to be so sharply pressed.

According to Jameson’s website, Santos de Miami is “inspired by the spirit of Miami, particularly Calle Ocho. [It] features all Dominican grown tobaccos with a Havana corojo wrapper, criollo ’98 binder, and corojo and criollo fillers.” The original box-pressed line comes in two sizes: Haven (6 x 54) and Alma (5 x 46). Brad gave me two of the new non-pressed cigars, apparently in the same Haven size.

It’s a well constructed cigar, with just a bit of shine on the corojo wrapper, which is framed by the sharp-looking art deco-style band. The firm construction produces a stiff but not difficult draw and a sturdy ash that holds for an inch and a half. I was worried about possible draw issues since the cigar is so tightly packed, but they never came.

Once lit, the cigar produces charred oak and unsweetened chocolate flavors. It’s medium- to full-bodied with just a hint of spice. As it evolves, there’s a bit of molasses and clove added to the dry coffee and nutty core. It has a unique, very clean, almost minty finish.

It’s been a long time since I had the original Santos de Miami, but I definitely agree that the shape change creates a slightly different flavor profile. The cigar changes only a little from start to finish, but it’s a very tasty, if not overly complex. Assuming this is the same packaging as the original (boxes of 10 for $80), it’s a fair price for a good cigar. With enjoyable flavors and excellent construction the Santos de Miami Haven Parejo earns four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys