Archive | March, 2013

Quick Smoke: Edgar Hoill EH Cultura

31 Mar 2013

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 well-made Nicaraguan cigar from Edgar “One Shot One Kill” Hoill is a collaboration with Christian Eiroa of Camacho. It’s a short pyramide size that’s 4.5 inches long with a ring gauge of 54 at its widest point. The smoke features dry earth, tea (especially at the beginning), coffee bean, and even a little grassiness. Mild- to medium-bodied with good construction, it’s well worth considering.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: CAO Brazilia Corcovado

30 Mar 2013

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.”

CAO Brazilian Corcovado

Before lighting it up yesterday, I believe this cigar had been resting in my humidor since the summer of 2010, when it was introduced. Corcovado (4.25 x 60) is a stout cigar with a fair burn line and an effortless draw. Like the other Brazilia vitolas, this dark, Brazilian-wrapped smoke packs a full-bodied punch with plenty of peppery spice and notes of bitter dark chocolate and roasted nut. Two-and-a-half years of rest mellowed it some and rounded off the edges, making for a very enjoyable experience.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 329

29 Mar 2013

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.

Cohiba1) The U.S. Trademark Trial & Appeal Board (TTAB) has declined Cubatabaco’s petition to cancel General Cigar’s trademark of the Cohiba brand. This is the latest victory for General Cigar in its 16-year-old legal battle with Cuba’s state-owned tobacco monopoly. At issue is whether the longstanding Cuban embargo enables American companies to sell non-Cuban cigars with Cuban brand names. “This ruling once again affirms what we have believed all along: That Cubatabaco has no merit in challenging General Cigar’s ownership of the Cohiba trademark in the United States,” said Dan Carr, president of General Cigar. We previously summarized some of the trademark battles being waged as a result of the Cuban embargo here.

2) Gov. Mike Beebe signed House Bill 1531 into law on Tuesday, effectively capping the Arkansas excise tax on cigars at 50 cents per cigar. “Arkansas becomes the ninth state to cap its ad valorem tax rate on cigars, joining Connecticut, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin,” according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

3) Inside the Industry: Crowned Heads has been working on the “J.D. Howard Reserve” since October (the blend was finalized in early February) but the new cigar won’t make its debut until the industry trade show in Las Vegas this summer. The cigar will be available in 5 vitolas: HR46 (6 x 46), HR48 (5 x 48), HR50 (5.6 x 50 figurado), HR52 (6 x 52), and HR54 (5 x 54).

4) Around the Blogs: Stogie Review reviews an Inception. Half Wheel fires up an OpusX Football. Cigar Inspector inspects an H. Upmann Legacy. Stogie Fresh smokes the RoMa Craft Tobac Intemperance EC XVIII. Cigar Fan lights up the Trinidad Paradox.

5) Deal of the Week: Normally $65, this La Gloria Cubana deal features six La Gloria cigars and a dual flame torch lighter for $40.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: General Cigar

Cigar Review: Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial 2012

28 Mar 2013

Oliva-VDisappointed is about the only word I can use to describe my feelings about Oliva’s 2012 version of its limited release maduro. I didn’t find a bad cigar, more like Gertrude Stein’s reaction upon returning to her Oakland home.

Start with the pre-light aroma. It was barely noticeable. Move to the opening puffs, where there was a bite and a sharp finish for much of the first third. Then the remaining four inches or so: not much of anything in the way of taste. None of the typical maduro tobacco sweetness or characteristic coffee, cocoa, or chocolate. Nothing else really apparent, either.

My disappointment comes not so much from the stick not making much of an impression. No, it’s more because I’d read and heard so much positive reaction from smokers whose opinions I respect. I’d be less than honest if I didn’t confess that it does make me wonder about my own reactions.

Construction was flawless in the three I smoked. The six-inch, 50 ring gauge smoke retails for about $9.50 and comes in boxes of 10. The Oliva web site appears hopelessly out of date, apparently describing the 2009 version. According to most reports, the 2012 sports the popular Mexican San Andrés wrapper and Nicaraguan filler and binder, as has been the case for several years, with 50,000 sticks rolled.

Two things I can point to for my lack of enthusiasm are that wrapper and maduros in general. It’s been years since I smoked maduros with any regularity and rarely find them more than passable. The same holds for that Mexican wrapper; it’s a rare smoke that utilizes it and suits my taste.

All that being said, I would urge you to consider your own tastes in thinking about purchasing the Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial 2012. For me, though, I can only award it three stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Commentary: Random Thoughts from the Humidor (XV)

27 Mar 2013

In this latest segment of Random Thoughts from the Humidor, I ponder custom torch improvements, patio smoking at one of the country’s most desirable locales, and impending cigar industry price increases.

Jetlite Mods, Start Your Engines!

Ronson JetLiteAs any loyal reader knows, we’re fans of the Ronson Jetlite, a cheap, reliable butane torch. But just about anything can be improved, even this simple device. First, though, a disclaimer. I am simply noting this possibility. I’m in no way suggesting or recommending you do any of these things to your Jetlite. I’m sure it voids whatever warranty might exist, and it undoubtedly will render the lighter unsafe. So, make no mistake, if there’s a problem or accident, you’re on your own. That said, there’s a YouTube video that will explain step-by-step how you can modify your Jetlite. The procedures will make it easier to light and provide greater flame control. If you want to check it out, the video is here.

A Winner in Las Vegas

Good news for patrons of famed Casa Fuente: The shop expects the currently closed patio to soon be open again for smokers. A manager at the high-end Las Vegas shop told me they anticipate having the situation resolved without going to court. The patio was closed earlier this year, after a complaint reportedly from another tenant at the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. Smoking has continued inside Casa Fuente, but, as visitors know, that can get crowded. Casa Fuente, which became an instant international destination for cigar lovers when it opened in 2005, experienced a similar temporary patio blackout once before. That problem, too, was resolved.

Got to Pay to Play

Look for some cigar prices to go up later this year. Cigar news site Halfwheel has reported that some manufacturers have recently notified retailers of increases, and it seems likely others will follow. Higher production and transportation costs are hitting many cigar makers, and some will undoubtedly pass those along to consumers.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Room 101 Namakubi Ecuador Ranfla

26 Mar 2013

Namakubi Ecuador is the latest release from Camacho’s Room 101. It is a combination of two previous releases: OSOK (One Shot One Kill) and the original Namakubi.

Room101-Namakubi-EcuadorThe filler is Honduran and Dominican (the same as the Namakubi), while the wrapper and binder—Ecuador Habano and Honduran corojo, respectively—come from the OSOK. (Though OSOK conspicuously isn’t mentioned by name in Camacho’s press release for the cigar. I’ve heard that trademark will stay with Edgar Hoille, who now makes his cigars separate from the Camacho umbrella.)

The line comes in four sizes: three figuardos and one small parejo dubbed the Papi Chulo that debuted in the Namakubi line. The cigar has the same samuri-inspired packaging as the Namakubi, including paper tubes for the larger three sizes.

For this review, I smoked four of the Ranfla size, a 5.5-inch mini diadema that has a 30 ring gauge at the head, 50 in the middle, and 19 at the tapered foot. The cigars sell for $50 for a 5-pack or $90 for a box of 10 at Emerson’s.

Pre-light the draw shows some woody spice and clove. Once lit, I found roast coffee beans and burnt toast flavors along with oak and slight floral notes.

The cigar starts out medium-bodied but pretty quickly ramps up to medium- to full-bodied. The flavors really hit the front and roof of your mouth, and the interplay between the Ecuador wrapper and Honduran tobacco is evident.

Fans of Honduran tobacco should definitely seek out this new cigar. Others might find the dominating woodiness lacks balance.

Either way, it’s a welcome addition with admirable construction and a flavor combination not replicated by anything else on the market. That earns the Room 101 Namakubi Ecuador Ranfla three and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Iconic Leaf Recluse Draconian Robusto (Pre-Release)

25 Mar 2013

Since the company was established last year, Iconic Leaf has erred on the side of secrecy. At its inception, the identities of its principals were left a mystery, and we were only told the operation was founded by  two “well-respected legends in the cigar industry” who have “chosen to keep their identities private in a pursuit to make the very best premium boutique cigars that can be found anywhere in the world without the influence of their names.”

Recluse Draconian ParejoIconic Leaf’s tradition of secrecy continues with its recent announcement of Recluse Draconian, a new blend that will debut at this summer’s industry trade show in Las Vegas. It follows last year’s release, Recluse. While we know the Draconian wrapper is Ecuadorian maduro and the filler will be a mix of four tobaccos—Brazilian hybrid, Piloto Cubano, Dominican, and an exclusive ligero—the binder is not being revealed.

The sizes/formats will also remain undisclosed until July. This creates intrigue because three will be in a “Sidewinder” shape “that has never been done before in the cigar industry.” Iconic Leaf fans will recall Recluse was likewise rolled out in an inventive format called “Kanu,” which has a head-turning kayak-like shape.

For now, Draconian is being offered to five retailers in three pre-release parejo formats: Robusto, Toro, and 6 x 60. I received two Robustos from Iconic Leaf for this review. The size has an oily exterior that’s textured with tooth and mapped with thin veins. Pre-light, notes of caramel, leather, and red pepper are apparent off the foot. The draw is clear, as one would expect since Draconian is handmade in the entubado fashion by Tabacalera Leyendas Cubanas.

Now I always approach pre-release reviews with some trepidation because, even if the blend stays the same, time may change the way the tobacco smokes before the full release. What’s more, I don’t even know the specs of the anticipated Sidewinder vitolas, much less how their formats will alter the Draconian experience. So I would take the ensuing analysis with a grain of salt.

That said, based on the samples I smoked several days after receiving them in the mail, I think Draconian will be a cigar you’ll at least want to take for a test drive. The Robusto has a bold intro with lots of ligero spice, dry wood, espresso, and earth. The texture is thick and moist with a heavy smoke that coats the palate. The smoke production is excellent—an outcome of the entubado technique.

The flavor settles into the midway point with less spice and some cocoa sweetness and nutty creaminess. Still, it’s firmly medium- to full-bodied with a solid nicotine kick. All the while the construction is solid, save for the gray ash being a little flakier than I’d prefer.

I’ll be very interested to see how the blend develops with time, as well as how it performs in the Sidewinder format (whatever that format is). Judging the Robusto as it is now, I’d award it a solid rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys