Archive | September, 2012

Quick Smoke: E.P. Carrillo Inch No. 64 Natural

30 Sep 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.”

The first thing you have to do with this cigar is decide whether to smoke it or load it into the bay of a B-2 bomber. It’s big. Huge. The full inch of a 64/64 ring gauge, made explicit by a tape measure band. Obviously, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo has decided that if consumers want large ring gauge cigars, he’ll oblige, though he’s said that limited tobacco means only about 125,000 sticks will be made this year. Oddity aside, though, how is the Inch? Very good, really. Like most massive sticks, the burn can be a problem. But the rich filler mix and fine Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper produce a smooth, full-bodied, and tasty smoke.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: N/A

Quick Smoke: Tatuaje 7th Capa Especial

29 Sep 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.”

Released by Pete Johnson last year, the 7th Capa Especial (5.9 x 46) boasts a rustic Sumatra wrapper around Nicaraguan tobaccos. Creamy nut, espresso, black pepper spice, and a bit of cocoa on the finish characterize the profile, which tends toward the full-bodied spectrum. No doubt there’s a lot going on here in terms of complexity and balance, and the physical properties—including a straight burn and a solid gray ash—are predictably excellent. You can’t go wrong with this cigar, which runs about $8-9.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 306

28 Sep 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) Writing and passing a law is one thing, enforcing it is quite another. This concept is illustrated by the outdoor smoking ban that was passed in New York City. Effectively making the Big Apple the most inhospitable major city in the country for cigar enthusiasts, officials in 2011 criminalized smoking in parks, beaches, boardwalks, marinas, and plazas—and promised petty fines for violators. Over a year later, though, “officials expect New Yorkers themselves to enforce the ban by asking smokers to stop, telling a parks worker, or calling a complaint line about those who don’t,” according to the Wall Street Journal. “The state Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation has kept signs up at beaches and other areas where it says smoking is prohibited. Spokesman Dan Keefe said Wednesday the office isn’t currently issuing tickets for violations.”

2) Cigar Rights of America sent around a newsletter this week praising the International Women’s Cigar Society (IWCS) for making a financial contribution to advance the cause of cigar freedom. “The IWCS is an amazing collection of dedicated shop owners, professional tobacconists, manufacturers, cigar sales staff, and passionate consumers who are dedicated to advancing this commitment for great cigars with the ladies,” reads the newsletter.

3) Inside the Industry: Viaje’s latest three limited release cigars—5th Anniversary, Honey and Hand Grenades, and Satori 2012—landed in stores this week. Global Premium Cigars, maker of 1502 Cigars manufactured in Estelí, will be distributed by the Emilio Cigars sales team.

4) Around the Blogs: Cigar Fan fires up a Toraño Loyal. Cigar Brief smokes the Esteban Carreras Covenant. Stogie Review reviews the My Father Flor de Las Antillas. Cigar Inspector inspects a Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur.

5) Deal of the Week: In case you haven’t checked it out yet, here’s a deal created just for Stogie Guys readers. The “Stogie Guys Cigar Sampler”—offered by longtime supporter Corona Cigar—contains seven cigars for $29.95 (plus free shipping on your entire order). It includes limited edition cigars from Avo and Davidoff, plus cigars from by Rocky Patel, J.C. Newman, Casa Fernandez, and two Corona “house” blends. Pick yours up here.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Cigar Spirits: Wahaka Mezcal Joven Espadin

27 Sep 2012

Almost everyone has a story about the time (usually in their younger days) when they did too many tequila shots and swore they’d never drink the stuff again. Most seem to return to tequila later, albeit likely in smaller quantities of higher quality tequila.

Most people, if they’ve heard of mezcal at all, think of it as bad tequila. The reputation comes because inexpensive mezcal often includes a worm at the bottom of the bottle, a marketing gimmick designed, one can only imagine, to attract frat boys on spring break in Mexico who prove their toughness by drinking poor quality mezcal. But mezcal need not be harsh, cheap, or gimmicky, and Wahaka Mezcal is proof.

Mezcal, for the uninitiated, is similar to tequila. Actually, technically all tequila is mezcal, but all mescal is not tequila. This is because mezcal can be made with any type of agave while tequila must use the blue agave variety. Also, mezcal is known for it’s smokier flavor, because the agave is roasted while tequila is always steamed.

Wahaka Mezcal Joven Espadin, which I picked up for $45 (though it can be had for around $30), is made using traditional means using 100% organic mezcal grown Oaxacao, the center of mezcal production. “Joven Espadin” distinguishes this variety from the other varieties produced by Wahaka. According to a label included with the bottle, after 10 years in the ground the agave is harvested (this batch was harvested in spring 2011), milled using millstone turned by a donkey, cooked and smoked 3-5 days, fermented 12 days, then distilled twice in copper stills.

The resulting spirit has an inviting nose that’s sweet and floral with a hint of smokiness and pine. The taste is clean, with just a bit of sweetness, light smoke, pepper, salt, and butter. The finish is smooth and fleeting.

Despite the harsh reputation of mezcal, Wahaka is a mild spirit that needs a mild or medium-bodied cigar as a pairing. The medium-bodied CAO Concert (pictured), while an excellent cigar, was as full-bodied a cigar as a I would want. A milder cigar like the Oliva Connecticut or a Davidoff Mille series would be an even better pairing.

While Wahaka isn’t as smoky as most mezcal I’ve tried, it makes an excellent introduction to mezcal while being plenty interesting for the more seasoned drinker. If you’re interested in branching out beyond the worm, it’s well worth trying.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Commentary: Random Thoughts from the Humidor (XI)

26 Sep 2012

In the latest segment of Random Thoughts from the Humidor, I share my contemplations about Air Jordan, trends in cigar bands, and the impending change in weather.

I Wanna Be Like Mike

Chicago is about to host the 39th Ryder Cup, the biennial competition that pits the best golfers from the U.S. against the best from Europe. As fun as it would be to trade places with the likes of Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, or Phil Mickelson, there’s no one I’d rather be this weekend than Michael Jordan. USA Captain Davis Love has tapped the “49-year-old, cigar-chomping, billionaire former basketball player” to “keep the players loose, to serve as possibly the greatest role model for success in sport, and to pass out cigars.” Sounds like a good time, and sounds like M.J. will have the best seats in the house at Medinah Country Club.

Bacon-Wrapped Cigars?

I think it’s safe to say manufacturers have gotten increasingly creative with cigar bands in recent years. I understand this trend. After all, without a cigar band, distinguishing cigars from one another is nearly impossible. But how creative is too creative? Yesterday my colleague reviewed a cigar with a metal gear around the band. That’s a significant jump in originality from the days when raised type, glossy surfaces, or even double-bands were beyond the norm. And I’d say it’s even a far cry from the last band that made me do a double-take: the band of jaggedly cut Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper leaf on Tatuaje’s “The Face.” It makes me wonder what’s next. A cigar with a band made of bacon?

Winter is Upon Us

It’s almost October, and that means cold temperatures, icy winds, and low humidity is just around the corner. Over the years we’ve published a number of articles on this subject, and I thought I’d point out a few of them here for the benefit of preparation. First, you may consider finding yourself an indoor winter sanctuary for smoking, especially since smoke-friendly locales are hard to come by these days. Second, if you’re going to be smoking outside, you might want to consider stocking up on shorter smokes. Third, be sure to have the right beverages on hand, including winter beers and ingredients to make hot buttered rum or a Stonewall Jackson. Finally, we’ve also written tips on how to build a temperature-controlled humidor and altering your smoking routines to accommodate the cold.

Patrick A

photo credit: Flickr

Cigar Review: Foundry Talbot

25 Sep 2012

If there’s an award for most unique new cigar from this year’s trade show, I think the runaway winner is Foundry. The one-of-a-kind packaging, inspired by Steampunk style (if you’ve seen League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Wild Wild West—it’s irrelevant that they’re both bad movies—you’ll know the style) with a metal gear around the band, really catches your eye. The cigar itself is just as unique.

Foundry was created by Michael Giannini, the public face of La Gloria Cubana since Ernesto Perez-Carrillo’s departure (and Perez-Carrillo’s former collaborator). While Giannini is tight-lipped about the blend, we know it contains no Dominican, Honduran, or Nicaraguan tobacco. The only component revealed is the wrapper, which is called H-47 Pleno Sol and is grown in Connecticut.

The wrapper is golden brown, but not in the way that most Connecticut shade is. It features plenty of tooth, lots of tiny veins, and just a bit of oily shine. It almost looks as if the wrapper is inside out, with the bottom visible.

The cigar comes in four sizes, all named after Steampunk era icons: Wells (6 x 50, $7.95); Lovelace (6.25 x 54, $8.45); Talbot (5 x 60, $8.95); and Cayley (6.5 x 60 x 56 x 43, $9.45). I smoked four of the Talbot vitola, all of which I received as samples at the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show. It’s a mild cigar with unique flavors. Most notably there is banana bread: yeasty, bready, and slightly sweet. It has a very clean profile that is superbly balanced, very mild, and unlike any cigar I’ve tried before.

Rating such a cigar is difficult. Foundry isn’t trying to be a better version of a cigar already on the market. Instead, it’s trying to be completely different. While it’s not a cigar I’d regularly smoke, I can see myself smoking one every once in a while as a change of pace.

Foundry is not for everyone. It’s different from anything else on the market, which is exactly what Giannini wanted to create. As a cigar that breaks the mold, I really appreciate the unique (there’s a reason I use that word a lot during this review) qualities of the Foundry Talbot, which helps it earn four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Aging Room F55 Quattro Concerto

24 Sep 2012

Sometimes you light up a cigar and feel in sync with the blender, as if he knew exactly what you’d enjoy. Aging Room’s releases do that for me. I’ve written before about how much I like the M356.

So I was excited to try the new Quattro, a tightly pressed line with each vitola bearing a musical moniker. It didn’t let me down.

I was struck from the first puff how unlike the M356 it is. There’s more earth, more chocolate, and more coffee than spice. I’ve been smoking the Concerto, something of a Churchill size at 7 inches in length with a 50 ring gauge. There’s no problem maintaining my interest and attention from start to finish. The twists and turns in tastes are terrific.

Construction, burn, and draw have been excellent in all that I’ve smoked, probably a half dozen or so. They run a bit under $8 down here in Florida with no additional cigar tax.

The bold flavors and punch may surprise some smokers who don’t associate tobacco from the Dominican Republic, where the filler was grown, with that kind of power.

The idea behind Aging Room is to produce limited editions of cigars for which there is special tobacco available, but not in the quantity necessary for a regular line. In this case, the wrapper is particularly special. “We got that wrapper from a German manufacturer of machine-made cigars that was having money issues due to the economic situation in Europe. They were looking to liquidate some of their inventory, sent us samples of that Sumatra leaf, and we jumped on it,” company vice president Hank Bischoff wrote me in an email. “It is indeed a genuine Sumatra wrapper, aged since 2003.”

Right now, he said, they have enough for about 400,000 sticks. That could change, Bischoff added, if they’re successful in negotiations to acquire more of the leaf. If so, that would prolong the production run and the Quattro’s shelf life.

I highly recommend the F55 Quattro. It won’t soften rocks, but its charms will certainly soothe the savage pallet. As such, it harmoniously earns five stogies.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here. A list of other five-stogie rated cigars can be found here.]

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys