Archive | February, 2014

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 372

28 Feb 2014

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.

Don Pepin Garica1) Arguably the most celebrated family in the cigar industry today has announced a new cigar that’s slated for release before the end of 2014. The Garcias, including patriarch Don Pepín Garcia (pictured), are planning a line called La Antiguedad (Spanish for “the antiquity”). It will feature an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper around double binders (Nicaraguan Criollo and Nicaraguan Corojo). The filler tobaccos will also be Nicaraguan, and it will be made at the heralded My Father Cigars factory. All five sizes will be box-pressed and the prices will range from $6 to $10.

2) “Hire the trio, experience the quartet.” Such is the marketing pitch for the new Avo Quartet, a four-pack of Avo robustos that’s sold for the price of three. Included in the $30 pack is the Avo Heritage, Signature, Lounge Edition, and a new Avo Mystery Blend. Avo is considering turning the Mystery Blend into a regular line based on feedback it receives via a special website that solicits consumer opinion from those who purchase the Avo Quartet.

3) Inside the Industry: Sam Leccia is, according to a press release, “looking to put the cigar industry in a headlock” with a new blend called Luchador (Spanish for “wrestler”). The four-size line is expected to be released on Cinco de Mayo. It will feature a Mexican wrapper around an Ecuadorian Habano binder with filler from Nicaragua, Pennsylvania, and Honduras. “I wanted to create something fun, yet different and exciting,” said Leccia. “With Luchador being a combination of exotic blends and flavors with a Mexican wrapper, I thought it was time to tap into my childhood fascination of Mexican pro wrestling. Fun branding aside, the Luchador is a seriously unique blend that goes from sweet to spicy in 0 to 60.”

4) Around the Blogs: Stogie Fresh smokes the Padrón Family Reserve No. 85 Maduro. Stogie Review reviews the J. Castañón Mareba. Cigar Fan fires up the Legado de Pepín. Cigar Inspector inspects the Avo 80th Anniversary. Tiki Bar tries the Casa Miranda Chapter 2.

5) Deal of the Week: Here’s a sampler with some high-end, highly-rated cigars. Only $77 gets you one each of the following: La Jugada Habano Robusto, Drew Estate Nica Rustica, Illusione Rothchildes, L’Atelier Extension de la Racine, My Father El Centurion Belicoso, Nat Sherman 1930 Corona Grande, Leccia Black Robusto, Crowned Heads J.D. Howard Reserve Robusto, L’Atelier Maduro 54, and Drew Estate Herrera Estelí Lonsdale.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: My Father Cigars

Commentary: Gold Star Smokes (Part VIII)

27 Feb 2014

It’s been nine months since the team published a new list of Gold Star Smokes. As you might recall, this special designation celebrates cigars that we feel are worthy of strong recommendations. They don’t necessarily have to be five stogie-rated—just commendable smokes we turn to time and again.

Gold Star Smokes

Co-Founder & Editor in Chief Patrick A

The La Musa Μελέτη Lancero is pretty limited (only 200 boxes are made available annually) but it is highly worth seeking out. It is a Nicaraguan puro with dark chocolate pre-light notes that transition to flavors of nougat, bread, espresso, and leather. It’s a bold, fuller-bodied smoke with plenty of complexity and excellent combustion qualities. When I have it on hand, I often reach for it as an after-dinner accompaniment to a cup of coffee.

Co-Founder & Publisher Patrick S

Winter is when I like to turn to corona-sized cigars, and one of my very favorites is the Tatuaje Noella Reserva. This Connecticut Broadleaf-wrapped Nicaraguan smoke is full of chocolate, coffee, and spice. I’ve smoked through multiple boxes and have always found them balanced and well-made. Plus it’s the type of cigar that goes equally well with a cup of coffee or your favorite spirit. It can be a bit hard to find but it’s certainly worth seeking out.

Tampa Bureau Chief George E

Get over your aversion to big ring-gauge cigars and enjoy this moderately priced Nicaraguan puro. I awarded La Gloria Cubana Serie R Estelí No. 54 four stogies in January and continue to enjoy them. The six-inch smoke is consistent, strong, and satisfying with the pepper and spice you expect from Nicaraguan tobacco. Coming from General Cigar, the brick-and-mortar-only offering is easy to find and, at about $6.50, easy on the wallet.

Contributor Joey J

My selection would definitely be the 262 Paradigm Lancero. This is a classic Lancero size (7 x 38) with a beautiful Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper. You’ll love the full flavor and creaminess of the smoke off of these sticks, and the medium nicotine strength means they can be enjoyed at almost any time of day. The Paradigm Lancero is my current go-to smoke, and it also reached #1 in sales in the shop I work at, so it’s clearly doing something right. Whether you’re a lancero fan like myself, or you’ve never tried them before, this cigar should immediately go on your short list of stogies to try.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Spirits: High West Double Rye! Whiskey

26 Feb 2014

I’m working my through a few more rye whiskeys before putting together a Guide to Rye, along the lines of our A-Z Guide to Bourbon (part 1 & part 2). Rye whiskey is increasingly popular these days and we want to help you sort out the over-hyped from the real gems.

High-West-Double-RyeHigh West distills whiskey and other spirits at its distillery and saloon in Park City, Utah, which bills itself as the world’s only ski-in distillery. However, the contents of Double Rye! (like most of High West’s aged whiskeys) weren’t distilled at the slope-side distillery.

Not that they hide that fact. As the back label explains, this is a combination of two straight rye whiskeys sourced by High West. One is a young two-year rye with a high rye mashbill (95% rye), probably from Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana. The other is an old 16-year rye with a more traditional mashbill (53% rye). (My bottle was from batch “13F11” and it was bottle number 599.)

The “blend of straight rye whiskies” sells for around $35 per bottle. And the handsome bottle is notable for it’s old west style with bubbles in the glass that give the handmade appearance. The rye is a pure gold color. The nose is a very unique combination of pine and iodine, but with bits of maple candy sweetness and mint.

The palate is all about the dueling layers. The young whiskey has a raw quality to it, but there’s just enough of the smoothness and sweetness from the older rye to prevent it from being overly acrid or harsh. It’s a fresh combination of pear, honey, cinnamon, and raw wood. The finish is a bit harsh and short.

This is a tough whiskey to judge because it’s so unique. The rough nature of the 2-year-old rye that (I suspect) makes up the majority of this blend is dominant and, at times, harsh and unpleasant. But there are quite a few redeeming characteristics: sweetness, complexity, and unexpected depth.

Cigar-wise, you’ll want a spicy cigar to pair with the Double Rye! (yes the “!” is part of the appeal, and it’s descriptive of this brash whiskey). While there are more than a few better rye whiskeys, for more or less money, High West Double Rye! still has it’s charms as a bold, unique rye.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: La Gloria Cubana Trunk Show Liga MG-08 2013

25 Feb 2014

Trunk ShowIf you’re looking for a cigar that will help you expand your palate, pick up the Trunk Show MG-08. This massive cigar produces a greater variety of spices than you’ll find on the McCormick shelf at the local Safeway. Sit back and let them roll over your tongue.

General Cigar’s Michael Giannini’s four-country blend is satisfying, smooth, and balanced with a light finish. It’s not a powerful cigar, but a subtle treat in a limited edition (500 26-count boxes).

As is not uncommon when Giannini is involved, the tobacco used is designated only as proprietary, with the exception of the wrapper, a “Havano Ecuadoran Ligero.”

I’ve smoked at least a half-dozen or so of these behemoths (7 x 60), which have a most reasonable $9.25 price tag. One side effect has been that, while I haven’t enlisted in the army of large ring gauge smokers, I have given up my conscientious objector status.

I no longer reject a cigar simply because it could pass for a Yule log.

In this case, my view is also influenced by the excellent performance, not always found in big ring gauges. Each MG-08 I’ve smoked had fine draw, burned straight, and held a tight ash.

On the negative side, I would like a bit more smoke production, and I can’t say I’m a big fan of the smokable band. You can get it off, though usually in bits and pieces. Making the necessary time commitment for a cigar this size can also be difficult.

With production so low, you aren’t likely to find this Truck Show—or its sibling, the Liga YG-23 blend by Yuri Guillen—in every shop. (A third, the Liga JD-05, is sold only by catalog and online retailers.) But it is well worth seeking out. I rate this stick four stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: A.J. Fernandez Spectre Robusto

24 Feb 2014

The Spectre by AJ Fernandez is easily one of the most unique, interesting cigars I have smoked in years. Now, we’ll discuss whether or not that’s a compliment in a little, but just go into this review knowing that this cigar is very distinctive and you likely have not smoked something like this before.

A.J. Fernandez Spectre RobustoWhat makes this such a unique experience is the “secret blend” of tobacco used in making the Spectre, which reportedly includes latakia. For those who are not big pipe enthusiasts, latakia is a type of tobacco normally included in what are called “English” blends. It has a smoky smell, like a campfire, and normally has smoky and spicy flavors associated with it. At this point, some of you may be thinking of cigars like the MUWAT KFC or the Leccia Black, which feature Kentucky Fire-Cured tobacco. While the process these two tobaccos go through to achieve their flavor is similar, there is a distinct difference: KFC is American tobacco, and latakia is an Oriental process.

While some details about the cigar were not disclosed to the public, we do know this has a Maduro wrapper with Nicaraguan origin. Three sizes are initially offered: Toro, Robusto, and Gordo. I smoked three Robustos (5 x 50) for this review. The wrapper is very dark and oily, and the band shows a tobacco leaf in shadows, with a bright light coming up behind it. While it’s a small complaint, I don’t really like bands like this which take up more than 50% of the cigar. When clipped the cigar emanates very smoky aromas, with some spice and leather underneath.

Lighting up this cigar straight off the shelves is an insane experience. The flavor is so strong and interesting in the first half that it was honestly a little overwhelming. Your palate is blasted with smokiness, charred meat, leather, cocoa, and earth, with a sharp spiciness dominating the finish. The second half of the cigar burnt a little hot, but also allowed most of the flavors to mellow out and complement each other a bit more.

I feel the need to add in that I smoked the third cigar for this review after it sat in my humidor outside the cello for about two weeks. The experience was really different. That smoky-spicy latakia dominant first half was replaced by rich cocoa and earth, that were overpowered in the previous two I had smoked. Sadly, that experience also felt muted and one-dimensional in comparison to my first two.

This is a cigar that I cannot really recommend to just any smoker, due to the strength of flavor (the nicotine is a solid medium, by the way). However, if you’re looking for a unique experience, these sticks can be picked up at a pretty good price, and it’s worth trying them just to say you have. I personally like them, and they are well rolled, but considering the fact that this cigar would never enter my regular rotation, I will only give it three stogies out of five.

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

Joey J

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Liga Privada Único Serie L40

23 Feb 2014

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 thought I was out of this limited and hard-to-find Lancero edition of the Liga Privada Único Serie until I found this cigar in a box in the bottom of my humidor. The L40 (7 x 40) features a Connecticut stalk-cut Habano wrapper, Brazilian Mata Fina binder, and Nicaraguan filler. It’s a classic combination of cocoa, espresso, wood, and earth. It’s medium- to full-bodied, very smooth, and balanced. While not as powerful as other Liga Privada smokes, this is a must try for Lancero fans.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: La Aurora 100 Años Robusto

22 Feb 2014

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.”

La Aurora 100 Anos Robusto

Back in 2003, La Aurora celebrated its 100th anniversary by launching a new line called 100 Años. The oldest cigar maker in the Dominican Republic chose only Dominican tobaccos for the blend, including an oily Corojo wrapper. The resulting profile—characterized by flavors of bread, dry cedar, cream, and pepper—is bolder than most would expect from a Dominican puro. True to La Aurora form, the Robusto (5 x 50) smokes very well. Even with a price tag north of $10, this is an easy recommendation.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys