Archive | February, 2015

Quick Smoke: Crowned Heads Four Kicks Piramide

28 Feb 2015

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.”

Crowned Heads Four Kicks Piramide

The Four Kicks Piramide (6.25 x 52) from Crowned Heads is a study in spice. Not so much your common black, peppery spice. But cinnamon, cedar, and baking spices. Other admirable traits of this affordable, Ecuadorian Habano-wrapped smoke include notes of sweetness for balance, excellent construction, and a medium-bodied profile that’s simultaneously approachable and satisfying. I paid about $8 for this cigar at a local shop, and it was worth every penny.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 419

27 Feb 2015

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) On Monday, officials from Habanos S.A.—the Cuban state tobacco company that controls the promotion, distribution, and export of Cuban cigars—said they expect “to immediately gain 25 to 30 percent of the U.S. premium cigar market if the United States lifts its trade embargo, and up to 70 percent of the market within a few years,” according to Reuters. “Habanos S.A. also promised to preserve the quality of its Cohibas, Montecristos, and Romeo y Julietas should it need to ramp up production to meet any new U.S. demand, which it estimated at 70 to 90 million units per year right away if the United States were to strike down the embargo… The prospect of the United States removing its 53-year-old ban on trade with Cuba improved after the United States and Cuba announced on Dec. 17 their intention to restore diplomatic relations.”

2) More details are emerging about Punch Signature, a Honduran line that will ship on March 2 and be a permanent addition to the Punch portfolio. It will feature an Ecuadorian Corojo wrapper grown specifically for the blend that’s related to the original Cuban Corojo seed. The binder is a proprietary Connecticut Habano leaf. As for the filler: “Some of the filler leaves are very aged, and others are less so,” according to a press release from General Cigar. “The aged leaves bring flavor and balance, and the newer leaves deliver more strength. It’s all about incredible, balanced flavor.”

3) Inside the Industry: Altadis USA recently added a corona size (5.5 x 44, $8) to its RyJ by Romeo y Julieta line. Meanwhile, Davidoff continues to expand its retail footprint, this time partnering with Jeff Borysiewicz of of the Orlando-based Corona Cigar Company to open a store in Tampa.

4) Deal of the Week: Here are 5 highly sought-after cigars bundled together for just $47. Included are the Nat Sherman Epoca Prince, Laranja Reserva Corona Gorda, Arturo Fuente Casa Cuba Cinco, Jericho Hill .44s, and Sindicato Corona Gorda.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Cigar Spirits: High West Son of Bourye

26 Feb 2015

When you mix straight bourbon whiskey with straight rye whiskey, what do you get? When High West Whiskey out of Park City, Utah, wanted to sell its concoction, they called it “Bourye,” a portmanteau of bourbon and rye.

high-west-bouryeA quick note on terms for American whiskey: Bourye has no legal meaning. Federal regulations have strict definitions about what certain terms mean, so although a combination of straight bourbon whiskeys can still be straight bourbon (and multiple straight ryes still can be called straight rye), a combination of straight rye and straight bourbon cannot be called straight whiskey, even if it is (as High West calls says on the bottle) “a blend of straight whiskies.”

The original Bourye, first released in 2009, combined 10-year-old bourbon, 12-year rye, and 16-year rye (a tweaked Bourye was just released in the past few months). Son of Bourye, as you might expect, is a younger version.

In Son of Bourye, High West takes a five-year-old bourbon (at least five years, the label says), and mingles it with a five-year rye whiskey (the percentage of each isn’t disclosed). Both spirits are sourced from the Lawrenceburg, Indiana, distillery that provides spirits for many whiskey companies that bottle bourbon, and especially rye, that they don’t distill themselves.

Son of Bourye is bottled at 92-proof. It isn’t easy to find, but is not impossible to locate above retail, which is usually between $45 and $50.

The nose is pleasant, although not particularly distinctive with caramel and hints of pine and citrus. On the palate, some of the interplay between the rye and bourbon comes out with honey, oak, and mint spice. Floral notes, clove, and cinnamon also hit the palate. The finish lingers nicely with dried fruit and wood spice.

There are enough subtleties in Son of Bourye that a full-bodied smoke would overpower it. Instead, try a mild or medium cigar like Cabaiguan, Illusione Epernay, or a Cuban Montecristo.

Ultimately, there is a lot to like about Son of Bourye. The blend of straight bourbon and straight rye is a fairly new category of spirits which has emerged as whiskey companies look to provide a new, unique product to a booming market. When compared to other bourbon/rye combinations (like Jefferson’s Chef’s Collaboration, Wild Turkey Forgiven, and the original Bourye) High West’s Son of Bourye measures up quite favorably in terms of the value it provides.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Camacho Connecticut Robusto

25 Feb 2015

In the summer of 2013, Camacho revamped its cigar portfolio. Known for producing full-bodied cigars and owned by Davidoff since 2008, Camacho unveiled a new scorpion logo and distributed marketing materials that trumpeted “bold is back with a vengeance.” The likes of Mike Ditka, Matt Booth of Room 101 Cigars (Room 101 is made by Camacho), and screenwriter Rob Weiss were added to Camacho’s new “Board of the Bold.”

Camacho Connecticut1Aside from these marketing efforts, Camacho narrowed its offerings from 11 lines down to 6—Corojo, Corojo Maduro, Connecticut, Criollo, Triple Maduro, and Diploma. All but the Triple Maduro and Connecticut were entirely re-blended.

At the time, I remember being pleased that the Camacho Connecticut would remain unchanged. The Toro and Monarca, in particular, were solid smokes, as well as regulars in my rotation. In fact, I had enough of each in my humidors that it was only until recently that I started smoking the re-branded Connecticut. (Full disclosure: Famous sent me a sampler pack of Connecticut Robustos to make this review possible. As always, the samples Famous provided in no way impact my assessment of the cigar.)

For starters, I have to say I prefer the old Connecticut band—which was white, classic, and understated—to the new, bright, modern-looking packaging. That said, once you remove the large, yellow-orange band, you’ll find the Robusto (5 x 50, formerly known as Monarca) looks just like the old Connecticut. The wrapper is clean and golden, the feel is moderately spongy, the cold draw is easy, and the pre-light notes remind me of sawdust and peanut.

After setting an even light, the flavor is familiar, too. The Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper combines with the Corojo binder and Honduran and Dominican long-filler tobaccos to produce a creamy, nutty taste that’s on the mild side—but definitely is no slouch in the flavor department. It’s almost like taking your typical Connecticut-wrapped cigar and adding some black pepper and cedar spice. Very nice balance and complexity.

True to Davidoff form, the Camacho Connecticut Robusto displays excellent combustion properties on a consistent basis. Expect a smooth draw, solid ash that holds well off the foot, average smoke production, and a straight burn line that requires zero touch-ups.

Maybe the best decision Davidoff made when re-launching the Camacho portfolio was to not tweak the blend of the Connecticut. My taste buds can’t tell the difference between the old and the new version, and that’s a good thing in my book. This $7 cigar is worthy of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Ezra Zion Honor Series FHK The Truth

24 Feb 2015

In November, I reviewed the Ezra Zion Tantrum P.A., the first Ezra Zion cigar we reviewed. Today I take a look at another recent Ezra Zion blend: the Honor Series FHK.

ezra-zion-fhkFHK, the second in the Ezra Zion Honor Series, was released at the beginning of 2014. The blend is billed by Ezra Zion as its “first true multi-country cigar blend.”

Made at Plasencia’s factory in Nicaragua, FHK uses a Mexican Maduro wrapper around an Indonesian binder. The filler is a combination of Brazilian and Nicaraguan filler.

Only 2,000 FHK boxes are split between the line’s four sizes: Inspired (5.5 x 50) and Truth (7 x 44) sell for $189, or $9 each; and Stature (7 x 54) and Character (6 x 52) sell for $210, or $10 each.

The wrapper is a mottled medium brown color. The cigar starts out with a combination of clove, cinnamon, and malty sweetness. It is medium-bodied with some cedar spice and a light, earthy finish that lingers on the palate.

Ezra Zion describes the FHK blend as “creamy and malty, reminiscent of a craft beer,” and I’m inclined to agree. The body, spice, and sweetness profile remind me of a Scottish ale.

Before I give my assessment of this particular cigar, let me admit a little bias. The flavor of the wrapper is one that doesn’t frequently impress me. While there are good Mexican-wrapped cigars, if you gave me two cigars (one with a Mexican wrapper and one without), knowing nothing else I’d be inclined towards the one without the Mexican wrapper.

That said, the Ezra Zion Honor Series FHK is well-made, balanced, and flavorful. While I much prefer the Tantrum P.A. from Ezra Zion, the FHK Truth still earns a respectable rating of three and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Commentary: Yes, It Was Time to Smoke THAT Cigar

23 Feb 2015

Opus 2

Many of you, I’m guessing, suffer from the same malady afflicting me: You are less and less likely to smoke a cigar as it gets older and older.

I’ve recognized my affliction for quite some time, but efforts to combat it never worked. It was just too easy to convince myself that, for whatever reason, the time simply wasn’t right to justify burning a special cigar.

Recently, though, I made a breakthrough. I decided a couple of months beforehand that my 65th birthday would be the perfect occasion to light up the oldest cigar in my humidor.

That cigar is—or, rather, was—a nearly ten-year-old OpusX bought at a now-shuttered Clearwater, Florida, shop not long after we moved down here. From the below photo, you can see that the cellophane had yellowed; what you can’t see is the extraordinary plume covering the wrapper.


Frankly, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve smoked a few Opus cigars, but none with that much age. I needn’t have worried. It was truly an extraordinary experience. Even at almost a decade, it still kicked off with some strength. That dissipated early on as the nutty, warm, and creamy flavors ramped up.

It was as complex and smooth as any cigar I can recall. The white ash hung on tightly as the stick burned ever so slowly, producing thick, rich smoke.

All in all, this Opus was everything a cigar should be. Oh, that I had bought a box back then…

Well, I can’t change what I did, or didn’t, do ten years ago. But I can change my behavior going forward and make sure I enjoy the cigars I have in my humidor.

To that end, I recently opened a box of 2011 My Father Limited Edition Toros to share. The cigars were tasty and extraordinarily smooth. Frankly, I can’t imagine them improving with further age, so I plan to smoke the remaining stash in the coming months.

I’ve also identified my next event and event cigar: a Cuban Cohiba Behike I’ll ignite to celebrate the occasion when a friend and former colleague signs her book contract.

Several years ago, my colleague wrote about this very issue, warning readers against “waiting for a perfect cigar moment that may never come.” He was exactly right, and I’m trying to heed his advice.

After all, there’s no shortage of things to celebrate. And no better way to celebrate than with a great cigar.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Nub Cafe Espresso 438

22 Feb 2015

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’ve been curious about Nub’s line of coffee-flavored cigars since its introduction last year. I picked up this short (4 inches), thin (38 ring gauge) Sumatra-wrapped stick for about $3.50. The dominant note is sugar, which lingers on the lips. The coffee flavor is akin to a cup heavily creamed and sweetened. Otherwise, there’s little taste or finish. On the plus side, construction, burn, and draw were excellent. But my curiosity is satisfied.

Verdict = Sell.

George E

photo credit: Nub Cafe