Archive | April, 2013

Question: What Do You Want to Know About Drew Estate?

30 Apr 2013


Last year around this time, Patrick A and I visited Nicaragua as part of Drew Estate’s Cigar Safari. The trip was as fun as it was informative.

We visited the Joya de Nicaragua and Drew Estate factories, toured sorting and processing facilities, made our own blends, and spent time with some of the best cigar people around, including Jonathan Drew, Steve Saka, José Blanco, and Mario Perez.

You can revisit the trip by checking out our coverage here and by watching this playlist of our videos:

But the reason I post this isn’t just for a trip down memory lane. Tomorrow, I’m heading back down for another visit to Drew Estate, Cigar Safari, and Estelí, Nicaragua.

So I wanted to ask our readers: What do you want to know about Drew Estate?

Leave your questions in the comments and while I’m in Nicaragua I’ll work to get you answers. Keep an eye on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and for responses to your questions.

Patrick S

photo credit: N/A

Cigar Review: Joya de Nicaragua Cabinetta Serie No. 27

29 Apr 2013

You know how every time you open your humidor one cigar leers at you, just begging you to smoke it? Lately, for me, that cigar has been the Cabinetta Serie No. 27.

Cabinetta No. 27I’ve had two of these monstrous double coronas situated near the top of my glass-lid humidor. I have no idea how they got there, and I have no idea how long they’ve been resting. But for whatever reason—maybe their generous proportions, maybe their two-tone wrappers—they’ve been catching my eye lately. So I decided to give in to temptation and fire them up for a review.

The Cabinetta Serie is one of a half-dozen lines listed on the Joya de Nicaragua website. Launched before the prolific José Blanco joined the Estelí-based company as senior vice president, the blend is rolled completely in a golden Ecuadorian wrapper and topped off with a dark, sun-grown criollo leaf at the head. The goal of the latter is to add a sweet spiciness to the lips.

When it was introduced in 2010, Cabinetta marked a departure for Joya de Nicaragua, which was best known for its bold Antaño line. The Nicaraguan filler tobaccos are mild by design to “deliver a smoother, more refined smoking experience.”

The No. 27 vitola is not listed on Joya de Nicaragua’s website; only the No. 2 (belicoso), No. 4 (robusto), No. 11 (corona), and No. 7 (toro) appear there. But rest assured the immense (7 x 54) No. 27 does exist, and you can easily find it at tobacconists or at several prominent online retailers, usually for around $7-8 apiece.

This double corona is pale below the band and dark-reddish above it. Several large veins are visible, as are a plethora of modest lumps and bumps. The feel is moderately firm and the foot has a wonderfully sweet pre-light aroma. A punch cut is all that’s needed to free up an easy draw.

After establishing an even light, I find a creamy, toasty smoke of almond, cedar, and honey. The aftertaste is characterized by a sharp spice that lingers on the tongue for a surprisingly long time. To be sure, this is a smooth cigar with a thick, billowy texture. I find the balance interesting enough to hold my attention, though the large No. 27 format may be a bit too much of a good thing.

The physical properties leave nothing to be desired. The draw remains clear throughout as each puff yields ample smoke. The burn line is straight. The ample resting smoke is sweet with an agreeable aroma. And the gray ash holds fairly well (albeit with consistent flaking).

I happen to really enjoy the blend—more now than when Cabinetta debuted—and find the best sizes to be the corona and lancero. The double corona is a fine cigar for sure, but the large size can render the unwavering profile a tad monotonous, and the time commitment is significant. Still, I’m glad the Cabinetta Serie No. 27 was a siren calling my name; it’s worthy of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: La Palina Classic Robusto

28 Apr 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.”


A new addition to the La Palina brand, the Classic is the most affordable La Palina line to date with prices ranging from $7.50-8.50. It’s also the first (and currently the only) La Palina made in the Dominican Republic at Abe Flores’ factory. The cigar features a Brazilian Habano wrapper, Ecuador binder, and Dominican and Nicaraguan filler. The Robusto (5 x 52) demonstrates very smooth, balanced flavors with milk chocolate and coffee notes. It’s an enjoyable mild- to medium-bodied cigar.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Gurkha Ghost Shadow

27 Apr 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.”


Another cigar sporting the seemingly ubiquitous Brazilian arapiraca maduro wrapper, this time encasing a criollo ’98 binder and Dominican and Nicaraguan filler. A medium-strength, five-inch stick, this Gurkha delivers a pleasant experience with only a hint of the dirt that I link to Brazilian tobacco. It also displayed little of the sweetness often found in maduros, though there was a bit of cocoa and coffee. Construction, burn, and draw were excellent in the pair I smoked. Judge it by your own preferences, and if they match up, give it a try. Oh, and check out that stunning black and silver band.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 333

26 Apr 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.

Bloomberg1) Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration is aiming to increase the minimum age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21 in New York City. “That will literally save lives,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn told the New York Daily News. “The more difficult it is for [young people] to gain access to tobacco products, the less likely they are to start smoking.” Bloomberg has a long track record of anti-tobacco zealotry. He spearheaded the successful efforts to ban smoking in huge swaths of government-controlled outdoor spaces, and even proposed plans to prevent stores from displaying tobacco products. Shortly after his latest announcement, officials in Chicago began talks to also increase the smoking age to 21.

2) Today marks the national release of the Room 101 Big Delicious, the latest cigar in Smoke Inn’s Microblend Series. This four-stogie rated large torpedo (6.25 x 54) comes complete with a Habano 2000 wrapper. It was crafted by Abe “Big Delicious” Dababneh of Smoke Inn and Matt Booth of Room 101. The cigar sells for $8.95 (or $134.25 for a box of 15) and will be exclusive to Smoke Inn.

3) Inside the Industry: Macanudo announced it will be sponsoring this year’s season of the Golf Channel’s Big Break Mexico, where players compete for a chance to play on the PGA or LPGA tour. In May La Palina is rolling out the second edition of it’s Goldie line, the Goldie Laguito No. 5 (5.6 x 54), of which only 25,000 will be made at the El Titan de Bronze factory in Miami. La Flor Dominicana announced the release of its 2013 Exclusive TAA Cigar, a double-press maduro available only to those TAA members that attended this year’s conference in Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic.

4) Around the Blogs: Cigar Fan fires up an El Rey de Los Habanos. Cigar Brief smokes the Liga Privada UF-13 Dark. Stogie Fresh rates the Davidoff Puro d’Oro Gorditos. Stogie Review reviews a Los Regalos Quetzal. Cigar Inspector inspects the Zino Platinum Z Class.

5) Deal of the Week: This “Best Cigars of the World Sampler” includes five quality smokes: Flor De Las Antillas Robusto, Alec Bradley Prensado Churchill, La Reloba Sumatra Torpedo, My Father No. 1, and Rocky Patel 15th Anniversary Robusto. Depending on the quantity you decide to pick up, you can get this collection from $4-5 per cigar.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Cigar Spirit: Angel’s Envy Rye

25 Apr 2013

I wrote about Angel’s Envy Bourbon when it was first introduced. The bourbon, created by Lincoln Henderson who previously wielded his talents to produce Woodford Reserve, is unique in that it is finished in port barrels after its traditional aging in new charred oak barrels.

AngelsEnvyRyeThe result was delicious, with just the right amount of traditional, rich bourbon flavor and added complexity due to finishing in port barrels. Now Angel’s Envy is adding a rye to its lineup with a similar twist: This time they finish their traditional rye in Caribbean rum casks.

It’s worth pointing out that while Angel’s Envy and its parent, Louisville Distilling Company, said they had plans to build their own distillery, none of their products are distilled by the company. In fact, according to bourbon writer Chuck Cowdery, any plans for a Louisvile Distilling Company distillery have been put on the back-burner. Of course, that doesn’t mean the whiskey in the bottles isn’t tasty, and clearly Angel’s Envy’s finishing process makes it a unique spirit.

As for the rye, the company wouldn’t reveal the source of the whiskey, but there are some strong hints. The rye uses a mash bill recipe that is 95% rye and, as far as I know, only one company (Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana) makes such a bill, and they happen to make it all for sale to other companies. So it’s fair to say I have a strong suspicion that this is the source of the rye which Angel’s Envy then takes and “finishes” in rum casks.

Whatever the source, the result is a 100-proof rye that will sell for $70 per bottle when it comes out next month in a limited number of states. Even though the rye doesn’t carry a formal age statement, the company reports the it is aged for around 6 years before being transferred to the rum casks for up to 18 months.

The color is a deep golden like well-aged Sauternes. On the nose, Angel’s Envy rye shows a fresh combination of pineapple, pear, pine, vanilla, and rum. A sip reveals plenty of alcohol heat but also sherry, oak, and maple candy. The finish shows soft woodiness, rum, and oak.

It’s a very interesting, unique rye that is dominated by maple sweetness and tropical fruit with hints of characteristic rye spice. Frankly, if you didn’t know what was in your glass, you might find it difficult to identify it as a rye. Still, it’s enjoyable straight with a cigar.

What it calls for is a flavorful cigar cigar with clean balance. I smoked two cigars with this rye that fit the bill: the Paul Garmirian Gourmet Series (well-aged if you can find it), and the Asylum, made by Christian Eiroa, formerly of Camacho. If I had more rye to sample with some other cigars, I’d be looking for other medium-bodied cigars with excellent balance.

Ultimately, this is a far different rye than most (for example Bulleit, which is also made at LDI, the likely source of Angel’s Envy). But it’s uniquely enjoyable. If a rye that will change your opinion of what a rye can be sounds up your alley, then pick up a bottle of Angel’s Envy Rye finished in Caribbean rum casks in May when it arrives on store shelves. I will.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Sencillo Black Pirámide

24 Apr 2013

Sencillo Black Piramide“Sencillo Black is a new twist on the Sencillo theme. Like Sencillo Platinum (the first release of the Sencillo brand), it’s a truly extraordinary cigar that is smooth enough and inexpensive enough to smoke every day. Yet Sencillo Black has a distinctive flavor all its own. If Sencillo Platinum is the cabernet of the line, Sencillo Black is the pinot noir.”

Such is the description of Sencillo Black. The line, which debuted in June 2011 after six months of aging, is a complex blend of five different tobaccos. It features a Habano Colorado wrapper, a Habano Jalapa binder, and a filler mix of Viso San Andreas, Ligero Habano Jalapa, and Ligero Habano Jamastran crops. It is handmade in Nicaragua by Nestor Plasencia Jr. for Keith K. Park, CEO of Prometheus.

Sencillo Black is offered in five sizes that range from $6.95 to $8.95: Robusto, Double Robusto, Gigante, Short Churchill, and Pirámide. “All five sizes…have a similarly smooth character, but each one emphasizes different aspects of the flavor profile,” reads the Sencillo website. The Pirámide (6.4 x 54), for example, is said to have a leathery core with “a slight citrusy tang and undertones of sugar and vanilla.”

Over the past few days I smoked several Pirámides to see how this oily, reddish cigar stacks up with that description. At the outset, my taste buds interpret the profile to be dark, peppery, and a little meaty. The resting smoke strikes a sharp contrast with sweet notes that remind me of burnt sugar. Once settled in, flavors of cream, black cherry, and coffee become dominant. The finish is leathery with a thick texture.

Construction is solid with a firm white ash, an easy draw, and a burn line that requires only a few touch-ups to stay even.

Prometheus is known for high-end accessories and limited Fuente smokes (like God of Fire and Angelenos). But the Sencillo Black Pirámide is proof that Prometheus can compete in the mid-priced cigar market. I would give the edge to Sencillo Platinum given that cigar’s wonderful balance and subtlety. The Sencillo Black is a fine smoke in its own right, though, and clearly worthy of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys