Archive | August, 2012

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 302

31 Aug 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) Fresh off of hosting the 2012 Summer Olympics, London is considering banning outdoor smoking in the city’s public parks. A meeting between officials and interested citizens has been scheduled for October, though the Community Services Committee has already “overwhelmingly endorsed” the idea. “I am sure you can appreciate this will be a big change for a lot of people,” said Ward 2 Councillor Bill Armstrong. “I am talking about the distance people will have to go for a cigarette. In some cases, they will have to get in their cars and go off the property.” If a ban is passed, London would join New York City and over 500 municipalities in the U.S. that criminalize outdoor smoking in parks.

2) Speaking of outdoor smoking bans, Cigar Cigar, a private club in Sugar Land, Texas, is being forced to close its outdoor patio area for members due to a lease change by its property management company that prohibits outdoor smoking in certain areas. According to the Houston Chronicle, cigarettes are fine, but pipes and cigars are not. Cigar Cigar is currently trying to prevent enforcement of the ban as it pursues litigation.

3) Inside the Industry: Emilio Cigars gives a sneak peak of the upcoming Carpe Noctem, a blend that will be made by A.J. Fernandez featuring a maduro wrapper and “plenty of Estelí ligero in the filler.” Tobacconist University has now certified over 800 tobacconists from 350 different stores nationwide.

4) Around the Blogs: Stogie Review reviews the Montecristo Epic. Cigar Coop smokes the new CLE Corojo. Cigar Explorer explores the Toraño Salutem. Cigar Fan fires up an Illusione Maduro cg4. Cigar Inspector inspects a Cohiba Robusto.

5) Deal of the Week: Hitting the golf course or just got two hours to relax with a fine cigar? Check out this sampler of ten double corona- and Churchill-sized cigars (for just $3.50 a piece) featuring cigars from Hoyo de Monterrey, La Gloria Cubana, Arganese, Rocky Patel, and Berger & Argenti.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Commentary: Don’t Forget H.R. 1639

30 Aug 2012

If I might borrow a phrase from June Cleaver, I’m worried about the bill. H.R. 1639, that is.

I’m concerned because I think many cigar smokers believe there’s nothing left to do on this legislation to bar the Food & Drug Administration from regulating premium cigars. I’ve heard more than once that it’s achieved a majority in Congress, the implication being that we’ve won the fight.

Sorry, that’s not true. The bill hasn’t achieved a majority of support in either the House or the Senate, according to, the Library of Congress site that tracks bills.

In the House, there are 217 voting members who’ve signed on, including the original sponsor, Florida’s Bill Posey. I know you keep seeing and hearing that it’s achieved the threshold of half of the 435 members but, as I’ve pointed out before, the key is voting members. The cosponsor list includes among supporters the representative from Guam, who has no vote, and former Oregon Rep. David Wu, who resigned in 2011. No one’s signed on since Aug. 2.

In the Senate, where the legislation is known as S. 1461, there are but 12 cosponsors to the bill, introduced by Bill Nelson of Florida. That’s a long, long way from 51.

Adding to the pressure is the fact that Congress has only a few weeks of work left in this session. This doesn’t bode well for the chances of such specific legislation as the cigar bill winning approval, even with adequate support. Couple that with the fact that many of the names you see on the lists of supporters in both chambers won’t be back in 2013, and the fight doesn’t appear so certain.

And that last point leads to another consideration. I know some feel that the legislation doesn’t have to pass, that simply the recognition of ample Congressional support will be adequate to force the FDA to back down. I’m not one of them. There might be a tactical retreat, but they’re smart enough to bide their time and strike later.

So, once again, I’m urging all of you to see whether your senator or representative has signed on. And, if not, let them know you want their support. This is a golden opportunity and we can’t afford to settle for silver.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: NHC Surrogates Skull Breaker

29 Aug 2012

If you ever wanted to smoke a cigar that projects the “I’m a total badass” image, you could do worse than to choose the Surrogates Skull Breaker.

This intimidating stick, which is made for Ohio-based online retailer New Havana Cigars (NHC), has a menacing name, the look of a rustic rifle shell, and a dark, frightening band that could be flown from the mast of a pirate ship. But the price—$7.50 for the Belicoso (5.25 x 52)—is intended to be more approachable.

Like the Bone Crusher, the Skull Breaker is called “Surrogates” because it’s supposed to be a premium cigar that’s “consumer price conscious,” one that could be a replacement for an expensive, limited release. “Created to bring the excitement of a limited edition stick at a consumer-conscious price point and be readily available,” reads the NHC website, “these vitolas answer the question of whether to save it or smoke it with a blaring ‘Smoke it! Every day!’”

That’s a tall order. The folks behind Surrogates, though, are some of the best in the business. The line is blended by Pete Johnson of Tatuaje and crafted by the Garcias at their My Father Cigars factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. Other than that, not much is revealed in terms of details, except that the cigar’s wrapper and filler are Nicaraguan.

Aside from its double bands and dark, mottled leaf, the first thing I notice about the Skull Breaker its rough, somewhat sticky cap. I also find a nice pre-light aroma of cocoa powder. Once clipped, the cigar displays a good draw with only the slightest resistance.

While toasting the foot, the sweetness of the pre-light aroma turns into a powerful earthy smell that reminds me of campfire. Fortunately, though, the actual taste of the cigar is more complicated, and it captures some of the anticipated sweetness. Chocolate is apparent when smoked slowly. But if you puff too quickly, the full-bodied base flavors of leather, espresso, and black pepper will drown out any cream or sugar, rendering this smoke too bold and too monotonous.

As Skull Breaker winds down, I can’t help but notice some occasional profile similarities to Drew Estate’s outstanding Liga Privada No. 9 blend—particularly in the Flying Pig format. I’ve smoked a fair number of Flying Pigs this year, and each has a unique flavor, distinctive resting smoke, and chalky texture that I love. While it’s no replacement, the Skull Breaker does remind me of the Flying Pig at times, albeit with less complexity.

You don’t have to take my word for it, though. Go ahead and pick up a single or a five-pack from NHC and try out the Skull Breaker for yourself (or wait a bit until Pete Johnson’s new L’Atelier Imports brings Surrogates national, which is expected shortly, and you my find this cigar in a shop near you). With excellent construction, an interesting taste, and a bold yet controllable body, this cigar earns three and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Don Pepin Garcia Blue Label Delicias

28 Aug 2012

Wandering around a local shop the other day, I spotted an old friend in new dress. The Don Pepin Garcia, known universally as the Blue Label from the band’s predominant color, was sporting a foot wrap and a secondary band reading “Original.” (The old style band is pictured right.)

Enticed, I realized it had been years since I smoked one of these and recalled reading about the company instituting cosmetic changes to make the presentations more cohesive. I picked up the Delicias, a 50-ring gauge Churchill.

This Nicaraguan puro was the first Don Pepin made under his own name. Bursting with flavor and strength, they rolled out of his little factory in Miami’s Calle Ocho and helped propel him to cigar stardom.

Had it changed? I spoke with José Ortega, vice president of sales at My Father Cigars at the company’s headquarters in Doral, Florida, where the cigars are now made, to find out. Ortega confirmed that changes were made to the look of the Blue Label, the Cuban Classic, and the Series JJ lines to create a more unified look.

“The appearance just makes a world of difference,” Ortega said, adding that the blends weren’t altered. Several Blue Label sizes were discontinued, he said, bringing the total now to nine. The Delicias retails for about $7.50 a stick, less by the box of 24.

And how was the smoke? Well, I can answer with a question you’ll likely ask yourself: Why haven’t I been smoking more of these? The cigar has great construction, draw, and burn, working slowly down the 7-inch frame as it produces a wildfire volume of smoke.

That time allows the Blue Label to develop and change several times. Beginning with pepper, it shifts to deep wood and rich leather and even hints of cinnamon and cocoa as it moves along.

Years ago, Patrick S gave another vitola in this line four and a half stogies out of five, and I wouldn’t dream of arguing.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys


Cigar Tip: Make the Heart Grow Fonder

27 Aug 2012

Last night I lit up my first cigar in seven days, and I would wager it was at least twice as enjoyable as it would have been had it been my fourth or fifth cigar of the week.

To get back in the swing of things, I fired up a nice 1495 B.M.E. Dominicana on a stormy night here in Chicago. It was everything I was hoping for and more. Cedar, spice, graham cracker, cream…all with a smooth delivery and near perfect construction. I savored every puff of that La Aurora and enjoyed the heck out of it—probably in no small part due to the fact that I had been on a cigar hiatus.

The hiatus was not self-imposed. Last Monday I woke up with a head cold and battled it all week. In typical fashion, it started with a scratchy throat that turned into a sore throat, then my nose got all stuffed up, and then I just started to feel achy and tired. I’ve read that the average adult experiences two to four colds per year, so I guess I was due.

As I’ve written before, I try not to smoke cigars while I have a cold. Not, mind you, because I think cigars may prolong the cold (although doctors say smokers tend to have longer colds—but then again, doctors say a lot of things). No, I choose to abstain from cigars while sick because, quite simply, I can’t really taste cigars when I’ve got clogged sinuses. My nose is the best instrument I have for tasting cigars, which is why I smoke through the nose when I’m trying to get a complete sense of its profile.

Of course, the timing of the cold wasn’t very good (is it ever?). The same day I started to feel sick was the day my smoke kit from the 2012 Saints & Sinners club arrived in the mail. Last year was the debut of the Tatuaje club, which entitles members to exclusive smokes and members-only forums. This year, the kit included 15 handsome cigars from Pete Johnson, including nice extras like a hat, poker chips, and a lighter. Anyways, the point is it didn’t feel good to have beginnings of a cold right as a nice package of Tatuajes arrives—even if it probably makes sense to let the cigars rest after shipment.

Now that I’m back in the game, though, I’m kind of glad I refrained from cigar smoking for a little while. The brief vacation from cigars reminded me just how lucky I am to have cigars in my life. And that first one I lit up was an absolute treat. So if you’re ailing from a head cold—or if you’re a three-cigar-a-day smoker who’s in a rut—you might try giving cigars a rest for a bit. When you come back, it will be all the sweeter.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Habano

26 Aug 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 is the latest Pete Johnson release in a line that goes back to 2003, and it lives up to both the name and the Tatuaje reputation. It is a full-powered, full-flavored smoke that is smooth and exciting on the palate. The 2012 edition comes with a twist: It is available in three wrappers, with the Ecuadorian Habano shipping only recently. I have yet to try the Ecuadorian Sumatra or the Connecticut broadleaf versions, but I cannot imagine they’re better. I also cannot imagine anyone smoking this strong cigar on a regular basis, unless Iron Man has become a BOTL. But as an occasional treat, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more enjoyable cigar for $13.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: N/A

Quick Smoke: E.P. Carrillo “Red Box” Pre-release

25 Aug 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.”

Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, the man behind E.P. Carrillo Cigars, and before that La Gloria Cubana and El Rico Habano, handed me this cigar when I chatted with him at the IPCPR Trade Show a few weeks back. He said although he wasn’t selling it at the convention, this cigar would be out in September or October. It wasn’t clear the name had been finalized, but he referred to it as the “Red Box” blend (to distinguish it from the black “Core” and white “New Wave Connecticut” blends). I didn’t measure it before I lit this cigar up, but it’s roughly a big robusto size. The taste is notably salty and savory. It is full-bodied with earth, leather, black pepper, and lots going on. While not the most balanced smoke, it offers a full combination of unique flavors and, if the price is similar to its colleagues that come in the black and white boxes, it’ll be well worth picking up.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys