Archive | November, 2015

Cigar Review: Nat Sherman 85th Anniversary

30 Nov 2015

85thNat Sherman, long a storied New York name in tobacco, began reasserting itself nationally a few years ago when Michael Herklots was hired away from Davidoff’s Big Apple operation.

Soon, the Timeless series was introduced and that was the beginning of a new chapter in company history. It generated critical and commercial success and other new lines followed.

Then, last year, the company released another hit, a limited edition stick in honor of the company president’s birthday: the $19 Joel Sherman 75th Celebration.

So, when it was announced this year would be marked with another limited edition, anticipation was high for the Nat Sherman 85th Anniversary.

The 6.5-inch toro gordo has a 54 ring gauge and is rolled at the Quesada factory, which has produced other Nat Sherman cigars. The wrapper is Dominican, and the filler and binder are from Nicaragua. It’s limited to 25,000 sticks and also carries a $19 price tag.

Aesthetically, it’s a lovely cigar, with a rich, dark wrapper and classy double bands. Performance in those I’ve smoked (I bought a five-pack) has also been excellent. The draw is nearly perfect, with just the right resistance as thick, rich smoke pours from the cigar. The burn line is straight, the ash tight. Strength is about medium.

It’s in the taste that I found the 85th Anniversary to be somewhat of a letdown. It begins with a heavy, earthy taste and pretty much stays that way throughout. I found very little else along the way. There was very little development or complexity.

If the flavor profile is one that you enjoy, you’ll like this cigar. Otherwise, I think you’re likely to be a little disappointed, as was I. As such—and especially taking the hefty price tag into account—I rate the Nat Sherman 85th Anniversary just three stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Tatuaje Pudgy Monster Wolf

29 Nov 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.”

IMG_20151129_004803

The Wolfman was one of the best Tatuaje Monster Series cigars, and the Pudgy Monster version (5.5 x 52) doesn’t fall far from the tree. The combination of a box press on the torpedo and an unfinished foot creates an airy draw, but it doesn’t impact construction or the flavors. Spice, wood, and leather dominate, but there’s also roasted notes and a hint of cola. With interesting, full flavors, this is a cigar worth seeking out, and fortunately, with a bit of searching, you can still get your hands on this smoke.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Sobremesa El Americano

28 Nov 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.”

Sobremesa El Americano

It has only been a few weeks since I reviewed Sobremesa, the debut blend from Steve Saka’s Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust. But I couldn’t resist the temptation to light up another. Plus, I was eager to see how the blend would perform in a different vitola. This time I decided to try El Americano (6 x 52), a toro that, like the Cervantes Fino, boasts an Ecuadorian Habano Rosado wrapper, a Mexican binder, and a filler blend of Pennsylvania Broadleaf Ligero with four different Nicaraguan tobaccos. The taste is balanced and complex with a syrupy texture and hints of dark cherry, spices, coffee, and some cocoa sweetness. It’s not unlike the Cervantes Fino—which is definitely a good thing—though perhaps the overall impact is a little less full-bodied. With an MSRP of $12.45, this is not an inexpensive smoke, but it’s one that’s worth every penny and teeming with rich flavor.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Tip: Have a Happy Thanksgiving… with Cigars (2015)

25 Nov 2015

With football on the TV, turkey in your stomach, and family gathered, Thanksgiving is a great day to enjoy a fine cigar (or several). So, as we have for the previous eight years, today the StogieGuys.com team tells you what cigars we’ll be firing up after our big meals.

Patrick A: After the big meal, I’m not sure if I’ll be in the mood for some strong black coffee or a dram of full-bodied bourbon poured neat. Probably both, I suppose, and probably in that order. Either way, I think the Neanderthal SPG will be an excellent pairing choice—not to mention a bold smoke for a sure-to-be-full stomach. This Mexican San Andrés-wrapped power-bomb from Skip Martin’s RoMa Craft Tobac is loaded with all the pepper, oak, and espresso I’ll be craving. I look forward to celebrating my favorite holiday with Neanderthal’s intensity and strength, as well as its significant dose of nicotine to get the metabolism moving.

Patrick S: Spending Thanksgiving with family is great, but it does make smoking a post-dinner cigar less convenient. I’ll probably just pop onto the back deck with a whiskey sometime after dessert and  hope it isn’t too chilly. For that reason, I’m planning on sticking with one of my favorite smaller format cigars, the Illusione Epernay Le Petit. The small (4.5 x 44) petite corona shouldn’t last more than 45 minutes, but if the 100+ previous Le Petits I’ve smoked are any indication, the ligero-free Nicaraguan puro will feature a balanced combination of coffee, wood, and creamy notes in the mild to medium range. That should be just right before joining the family inside to watch the conclusion of the Turkey Day football showdowns. Of course, if it isn’t too chilly out, I’ll follow it up with a second, more full-bodied cigar and stream the game on my phone.

George E: Our plans for Thanksgiving are somewhat unsettled, and so is my cigar smoking. I’ll undoubtedly fire one up sometime during the holiday, but when and where I’m not sure. A lot depends on the dining schedule. If we eat at home, I’ll likely smoke on the deck (the forecast is near perfect here in Florida) and my choice will be Nick Melillo’s El Güegüense Robusto. I have smoked only one Robusto, but it was among the best new cigars I’ve had this year—a spicy, strong, smooth Nicaraguan puro. If we go out, I may traipse to the nearby cigar shop afterward to light up and watch a little football. Since I haven’t been there in nearly two months, I’m sure there will be many new offerings to tempt me. If so, I’ll let you know what I had.

Previous cigars the StogieGuys.com team designated as Thanksgiving smokes include:

 

Not a bad list, eh? If you’re so inclined, feel free to let us know what you’ll be smoking tomorrow in the comments below. And be sure to have a safe and joyous Thanksgiving.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: N/A

Cigar Spirits: Tariquet Armagnac XO & Millesime 1993

24 Nov 2015

tariquet

I’ll admit to being far less familiar with brandy as I am whiskey. And yet, when dabbling in brandy, I find myself drawn to Armagnac, as opposed to its better known sibling, Cognac.

Both are made by distilling wine from each region (Cognac from the area surrounding the French town of Cognac, and Armagnac from the Armagnac region in Gascony, which is in the southwest France) and then aging it in oak barrels, often for extended periods of time. But there are key differences between the two that give each its own character.

Cognac tends to be more corporate with a few big name producers, while Armagnac has smaller, family-controlled producers. Traditionally, cognac is distilled twice in pot stills, while Armagnac is distilled only once in a column still. Armagnac fans will tell you the single distillation leaves the spirit with more complexity and character.

Today, I’m exploring two expressions from Tariquet, a well-known Armagnac producer from the Bas-Armagnac subregion (one of three Armagnac geographical classifications). The company relies mostly on a combination of Ugni-blanc (60%) and Baco (40%) grapes, two of the ten grape varietals permitted for Armagnac production.

Tariquet XO Bas-Armagnac ($60)

Aged for 12-15 years (longer than the required 6+ years for the XO designation), Tariquet’s XO (80-proof) expression is light copper in color with a nose that features oak, almonds, and toasted coconut. There are full flavors on the palate with wood, fruit cake, and chocolate followed by a warm spicy finish.

Tariquet Millesime 1993 Bas-Armagnac ($90)

Distilled in 1993 and bottled in 2010, this vintage offering (90.4-proof) features a golden straw color and a nose that is bright with candied orange, honey, and nougat notes. On the palate there is vanilla, soft oak, pie crust, and citrus. The finish on this refined but powerful Armagnac is long and rich with dates and butterscotch.

Both are enjoyable in their own way. The extra age of the 1993 manifests itself as sophisticated, complex, and elegant. The XO is grittier with more wood and spice, but both are worth the extra cost versus the VSOP Tariquet, which is the only expression I was familiar with before this article.

These spirits also make for natural pairings with a fine cigar. The XO calls for woodier, spicier smokes like the Cuban Hoyo de Monterrey or a Dominican Fuente Opus X. For the Vintage 1993, I’d suggest balanced, nuanced cigars like the Cohiba Behike or Nicaraguan Illusione Epernay.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: La Palina H-Town Lancero (Stogies World Class Cigars Exclusive)

23 Nov 2015

Lancero fans have long lamented the trend towards large ring gauge cigars. If, like me, you tend to favor thinner vitolas over thick smokes, you’ve got to be a fan of what the folks at Stogies World Class Cigars have been up to.

La Palina H-TownBased in Houston, Stogies boasts a huge store, a public lounge, an online shop, and a series of exclusive lanceros called H-Town. Stogies has commissioned some of the industry’s best brands to produce its family of lanceros, including Crowned Heads, Quesada, Tatuaje, Room 101, Fratello, and La Palina.

In the case of the La Palina H-Town Lancero, the cigar is an entirely new blend. While the band is similar to the La Palina Black Label, the recipe is decidedly different. Filler tobaccos from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua are wrapped in an Ecuadorian binder and an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. Only 500 boxes of 10 will be made at the Pinar del Rio factory in the Dominican Republic.

In terms of appearance, a few things immediately strike me about the La Palina H-Town Lancero (7 x 38). For one, the cap is a work of art. In addition, the exterior is notably silky, oily, and smooth. Finally, the pre-light notes off the foot remind me of dried apricot, which is certainly unique and interesting.

Once clipped, the moderately spongy cigar yields a cold draw that’s easy, especially for a lancero. After setting an even light with a single wooden match, the initial profile is creamy, nutty, and bready with a significant kick of cayenne spice on the finish. Citrus, oak, and honey play background roles and help add to the cigar’s balanced, rounded, medium-bodied taste. At times the cigar is dry, sharp, and cedary, while other times it’s dominated by mouth-watering creaminess. The final third builds in intensity to a level I’d characterize as full-bodied.

There’s a lot of complexity. Thankfully, the combustion qualities won’t stand in your way of enjoying this lancero. The burn line is imperfect yet serviceable, the gray ash holds well off the foot, the smoke production is solid, and the draw remains clear throughout.

The La Palina H-Town Lancero retails for $8.95 per single, or $80.55 per box of 10. That’s a fair price point for a smoke with so much to offer in terms of intricacy, balance, performance, and taste. Fortunately, if you’re not in the Houston area, you can still give this a try by placing an order online. I highly doubt you’ll be disappointed. I’m awarding this excellent lancero four and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Ashton Symmetry Prism

22 Nov 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.”

ASHTON SYMMETRY

While Ashton Cigars has been busy expanding its San Cristobal and La Aroma de Cuba brands, the namesake Ashton brand was in hibernation from when it introduced the ESG line in 2006 until 2014 when it added Symmetry. The Fuente-made Symmetry uses an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Dominican binder, and a combination of Dominican and Nicaraguan filler. (The Nicaraguan filler is a first for an Ashton cigar.)  The result is a medium- to full-bodied smoke with wood, leather, tea, and sawdust notes. The draw on my corona was a little tight but otherwise construction was good. This was a fine enough smoke but nothing special, which  doesn’t cut it for a cigar that costs $12.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys