Archive | October, 2012

Cigar Review: Partagas Serie P No. 2 (Cuban)

31 Oct 2012

Here’s one of those instantly recognizable cigars that needs no introduction, a Cuban that has received its fair share of praise since it was released as the “Partagas Pirámide” in 2000.

Notable among the Partagas Serie P No. 2’s commendations is the number four spot on Cigar Aficionado’s list of the best cigars of 2011. “The cigar shares the same dimensions as all of Cuba’s pirámides, and the Partagas Serie P No. 2 is currently smoking better than all of them, even the legendary Montecristo No. 2,” wrote the magazine. “It has been transformed into something incredible, a perfect example of the level of top-quality smokes that are being made in Cuba today.”

When CA rated the Serie P No. 2, it was examining samples with box dates of March 2011. I don’t have the luxury of knowing the box date of the two samples I’m smoking for this review. While I’m very confident in the authenticity of the cigars, I did not acquire an entire box. I hope you’ll forgive me since each No. 2 costs about $18.

Carefully sliding the Cuban out of its black, cedar-lined aluminum tube, the first thing I notice is the tremendous amount of oils on the mottled Colorado wrapper. I also take note of the substantial weight of the cigar (6.1 x 52), which is explained by the dense cross-section of filler tobacco that’s visible from the foot. Pre-light the aroma is of hay and syrup.

After lighting the foot, the initial flavor is very well balanced with tastes as varied as white pepper, cream, and roasted nut. The texture is bready. I find a little spice and some kick, but the profile is decidedly medium-bodied. It’s the sort of start you hope for if you spend $18 on a single.

So I wasn’t terribly disappointed to find the Serie P No. 2 remaining consistent in flavor from light to nub. Aside from a gradual increase in intensity as the end draws near, there aren’t many discernible changes in taste, save for a texture change from bready to syrupy. Construction was OK, but the burn—which requires a few touch-ups along the way to stay even—leaves something to be desired.

I guess I was hoping for something a little more exciting given the Serie P No.2’s reputation and price. While I enjoyed the cigar thoroughly, I’m taking into account the fact that you can buy better (non-Cuban) smokes for a fraction of the price when I award it four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Spirits: Balvenie 14 Year Caribbean Cask Single Malt Whisky

30 Oct 2012

Single malt scotch whisky tends to be aged in bourbon and sherry casks, which makes this relatively new addition to the Balvenie line particularly interesting. After a period of aging in a traditional oak bourbon barrel, this 14-year-old single malt is finished in rum casks.

Introduced in 2010 as a U.S.-only release, the 14 Year Caribbean Cask Balvenie sells for around $60. It’s a bit more expensive than their 12 year Doublewood (an excellent value) but similar in price to Balvenie’s 15 year Single Barrel.

The whisky pours a golden straw color that’s not as dark as I would expect. The nose is where the unique character of the Caribbeam Cask starts to shine through as citrus and tropical fruits join with toffee and muted oak.

Once you get down to sipping your dram, you’ll find burnt sugar, a bit of smokiness, oak, dried fruit, and maltiness. It has a great roundness on the palate, not heavy, but crisp and lively. The finish is medium-long with both sweet and dry flavors.

A very good single malt, the lightness surprised me, but it wasn’t a bad thing. It’s the type of Scotch that goes well with a milder cigar, something with a Connecticut shade wrapper and Dominican filler (or a milder Cuban like an H. Upmann). No matter the cigar, the Balvenie 14 Year Caribbean Cask Single Malt is a tasty whisky with it’s own character that leaves a hint of the tropical influence of its production.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Old Henry Gold Label Belicoso

29 Oct 2012

A sibling of Holt Cigar Co.’s house brand created by Don Pepin Garcia, the Gold Label takes its name from the light brown Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper. But if it were receiving medals for the taste/price ratio, I think it could be in contention for gold as well.

With the Connecticut wrapper, it is, as you’d expect, a bit milder than the original corojo-wrapped Old Henry. But only a bit, and in some ways the Gold Label blend accentuates the pepper and spice from the Nicaraguan filler. I used a V-cut to slice the pointed head perfectly, and my lips were tingling before I put flame to the foot. To me, it’s a medium strength cigar that’s full of flavor.

The Belicoso is a 5.5-inch stick with a 52-ring gauge. It’s the only one of the line’s five sizes I’ve tried, and each Belicoso was excellently constructed. They burned straight and even, with a draw that was the way I like it, not loose or tight and full of smoke.

I’ve been a fan of the original Old Henry since the first one I smoked. I suggest you check my colleague’s 2008 review for a somewhat different view. One interesting note: The prices seem to have actually gone down since then!

I think they’re pretty darn good cigars, especially considering the price. Holt’s lists the Belicoso at $5.50 for a single, but it’s more than a dollar cheaper than that by the box of 25.

When you consider that the catalog giant often throws in some freebie with an Old Henry box order, it’s nearly unbeatable. (I remember once they threw in a couple of coffee cups, and I was so disappointed when they arrived because they had the Holt’s logo and not the great looking visage of Old Henry I was expecting.)

I usually have Old Henrys on hand, and now I think I’ll alternate the original with the Gold Label. I find it tough to rate. I’d have to say I don’t think it’s complex enough to be a four-stogie smoke, but I think it deserves a good bit better than a fairly routine three stogies. I guess I’ll split the difference and go with three and a half stogies out of five.

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


photo credit: Holt’s Cigar Co.

Quick Smoke: Espinosa Robusto

28 Oct 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.”

Erik Espinosa’s new factory in Estelí, “La Zona,” is now the home of 601, Murcielago, and Mi Barrio. It’s also producing “Espinosa,” which was released at the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show, a Nicarauan puro featuring a medium brown Habano wrapper. The cigar starts off a bit hot with a sawdusty edge, but very quickly becomes more balanced and pleasant. At its core, it’s a medium-bodied smoke with lots of dry wood and hints of spice, hay, and earth. Construction is good and the price ($6) is reasonable.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: CAO La Traviata Maduro Luminoso

27 Oct 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 remember a lot of cigar enthusiasts being, well, enthusiastic about the value-priced CAO La Traviata Maduro line when it was introduced in 2010. Since, I haven’t heard much about the blend, which features an Ecuadorian wrapper around a Cameroon binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. So when I came across a Luminoso (4.5 x 50) in my humidor that had been resting for about two years, I couldn’t help but fire it up. What I found was a cigar with excellent construction and a surprisingly spicy profile of red pepper, leather, cocoa, nut, and warm tobacco. You can’t argue with that for $5.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 310

26 Oct 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) is pleased to announce Bruce Dyk of Bismarck, North Dakota, as the winner of our most recent contest giveaway. Bruce was chosen at random from among the many Cigar Rights of America (CRA) members who left comments on our October 4 post. Contest sponsor Prometheus will be sending Bruce a fantastic prize: a Prometheus 20th Anniversary Edition God of Fire Serie B five-cigar assortment box (pictured) and a Prometheus Retro 20th Anniversary Lighter (combined MSRP $198). Please join us in congratulating Bruce. We would also like to thank CRA and all of its members for everything they do to support cigar rights, as well as Keith Park of Prometheus for graciously donating the outstanding prize. And remember: Even if you didn’t win this contest, it always pays to be a CRA member.

2) Arturo Fuente is planning an invitation-only event at the refurbished 110-year-old cigar factory in Tampa that will become the company’s headquarters. The building, located at 22nd Street and 3rd Ave. in the historic Ybor City district, was constructed in 1902 and bought by Arturo Fuente a few years later. The restoration has been underway for years and is likely to not be complete until 2014, as the Fox affiliate in Tampa reports. But in November the Fuentes are holding an event to celebrate the building as “a lasting piece of history and a tribute to the city where the company was formed.”

3) Following the dangerous trend of government-imposed outdoor smoking bans, officials in Orange County, North Carolina, are mulling regulations that would criminalize smoking “at bus stops, sidewalks, parks, shopping malls, and any other public domain,” according to the Daily Tar Heel. The regulations will be voted on by the county’s board at a November 20 meeting. If passed, they would apply to the entire county, which includes the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the town of Hillsborough.

4) Around the Blogs: Cigar Fan fires up a Cuban Stock Royal Selection. Cigar Coop checks out a CAO Concert. Cigar Inspector inspects a Romeo y Julieta Petit Pirámides LE 2005. Tiki Bar samples a La Palina Classic. Stogie Review reviews the Dona Flor Puro Mata Fina.

5) Deal of the Week: This Midnight Madness sampler features ten premium maduros for $30. Included are five La Gloria Cubanas and five Romeo y Julieta Vintage Maduros.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Prometheus

Cigar Spirits: St. George Breaking & Entering Bourbon

25 Oct 2012

Bourbon often gets more costly (and usually also better) as you go from large production, to small batch bourbons, to single barrel expressions. Saint George Spirits—a small “artisan distiller” in Alameda, California, that’s been in operation for 30 years—took a different approach when it created its Breaking & Entering bourbon whiskey.

Dubbed a “super-bourbon,” B&E is the result of blending approximately 80 different barrels of bourbons from different sources all ranging from five to eight years in age. Through what they call “barrel thieving,” Saint George selects their favorite barrels from various Kentucky distilleries, then blends them together.

The result, according to their website, is “greater than the sum of [its] parts…a criminally delicious bourbon whiskey shaped by a Kentucky pedigree and California ingenuity.” At around $40 a bottle, I figured it was worth a try.

The first striking element of B&E is its deep bronze color. Even more notable is the nose: sweet fruit and lacking in spice, it has an almost cherry cola aspect to it.

When you finally get down to the business of tasting this “super-bourbon,” you find a chewy combination of corn, moonshine, fig, oak, toast, and caramel. It’s nicely balanced and very complex. The finish is bright and clean.

While it’s different from many other bourbons being made these days, it’s a winner in my book. Dink it neat and you’ll find a sweet, complex whiskey that goes down smooth.

It pairs very well with both the Honduran puro Camacho Corojo or the multi-country blend (super-cigar?) E.P. Carrillo Short Run 2010. But I think you’d be hard-pressed to find many good cigars that don’t go well with this versatile bourbon.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys