Archive | February, 2016

Cigar News: On Location at RoMa Craft Tobac’s New Headquarters in Austin

29 Feb 2016

A couple weeks ago, on February 13, I asked Skip Martin of RoMa Craft Tobac to join me for lunch. We both happened to be in Austin for the weekend (I live in Chicago, he makes his home in Estelí, Nicaragua), and we both happen to enjoy over-eating BBQ.

Our get together—which ended up being almost a whole day—afforded me the opportunity to visit RoMa Craft Tobac’s new headquarters, as well as gather some interesting information about what many consider to be one of the world’s premier boutique tobacco outfits. So today I figured I’d share some highlights from our visit, as well as a few photos.

Stiles Switch

First off, anyone who follows Skip Martin on social media knows he loves to take pictures of his food almost as much as he loves eating. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to snap a pic of him taking a picture of our mountain of meat at Stiles Switch, a top-notch BBQ joint he recommended. If you have the opportunity, make sure to stop by. I’d especially recommend the beef rib and the jalapeño sausage.

Interior

After consuming mass quantities of meat, we took a 20-minute drive north to stop by an office park just off US-183. There, Skip and his business partner Mike Rosales are in the process of transforming a former industrial facility into RoMa Craft Tobac’s headquarters. This destination is expected to be more than just a location to receive shipments from Fabrica de Tabacos Nica Sueño and fulfill orders. The duo is also outfitting the 4,000-square-foot space with a craft beer bar and other cigar-friendly amenities so they can welcome interested tobacconists (by appointment), display their cigar lineup, and entertain.

Storage

Nica Sueño, the Estelí factory managed by Martin, is currently manufacturing 1.2 million cigars per year. Most of these cigars are sold to RoMa Craft, which is a separate company. These cigars will arrive in Austin already aged, boxed, and packaged, where they will be housed in a humidified storage room until they are shipped across the country.

Conference Room

Work at the headquarters is still underway, yet it’s certainly a welcoming space to enjoy a cigar or two right now—especially if Martin shares a little of his extensive craft beer collection (I think he said he had over 2,000 bottles on site). We had cigars at this conference table while sampling a few fine beers.

Jester King

Speaking of beer, Skip assured me no visit to Austin would be complete without a stop at Jester King, a brewery about 40 minutes southwest of RoMa Craft. This place was well worth the drive for several reasons. First, the picturesque grounds struck me as more vineyard than brewery (think Texas hill country), with ample outdoor space to enjoy a cigar while taking in the view. Second, Jester King’s lineup of “wild ales” and “spontaneously fermented beers” is a joy to taste and learn about. And third, Jester King exchanges its rare beers with many other craft breweries, enabling visitors to purchase hard-to-find beers not only from Jester King’s stock, but from breweries all over the world.

While the RoMa Craft headquarters in Austin is not intended for retail or walk-ins, Skip says you should have the chance to check it out at one of the twice-yearly BBQ events he plans to throw starting this summer. These CroMagnon Culture gatherings—which will feature cigars, BBQ, and craft beer—will be ideal for those who want to learn about cigars without making the trip all the way to Nicaragua.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Drew Estate Herrera Estelí Box Press (Lounge Exclusive)

28 Feb 2016

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief take on a single cigar.hel-sq

herrera-esteil-lounge

Liga Privada was the traditional cigar that put Drew Estate’s marker down as a force in the traditional premium cigar market (previously, the company was best-known for its infused cigars). Lately, though, my favorite line from Drew Estate has been Herrera Estelí. The cigar sports an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Honduran binder, and Nicaraguan filler to produce a “Cubanseque” profile in a lineup of five traditional sizes. Recently, Drew Estate added a box-pressed version as part of its line of exclusive box-pressed smokes for the Drew Estate Lounge at Corona Cigar Company’s location in Sand Lake, Florida. The cigar features plenty of cedar along with cream, hay, and roasted nut notes. Although it’s a solid cigar, I prefer the original sizes to this pressed vitola, which burns a little hot, probably because the box-press yields a loose draw.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Intemperance BA XXI A.W.S. IV

27 Feb 2016

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.”

BA AWS

While the small Fabrica de Tabacos Nica Sueño in Estelí makes many excellent cigars, the Intemperance BA XXI A.W.S. IV is my absolute favorite. This Arapiraca-wrapped lonsdale (6.5 x 44) is the perfect format to enjoy the outstanding Intemperance blend, which also includes an Indonesian binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. For the very fair price of $7.50, you get a well-balanced profile of red and black pepper along with notes of cocoa, sweet cream, roasted nut, and dry wood. Construction is always impeccable. Consider this Quick Smoke an affirmation of my review two years ago that awarded this cigar our top rating.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 468

26 Feb 2016

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.

Califf

1) Dr. Robert M. Califf was confirmed by the Senate this week as the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The cardiologist and former FDA deputy commissioner assumes control of the bureaucracy at a time when the cigar industry is bracing for FDA regulations—new rules that have the potential to be devastating. When asked (via Facebook) if this confirmation will have a positive or negative impact on premium cigars, Glynn Loope, executive director of Cigar Rights of America, commented, “We’ll see.” He later told StogieGuys.com via email: “…at this stage, and based upon the meetings held to this point, I doubt [the FDA proposed rules] will be sent back to FDA from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). We are in that magical time of any administration where there is a dash to put out as much rule and regulation as possible, to leave their lasting imprint upon the nation’s bureaucratic landscape… Today we meet with the office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, having had meetings with OMB, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and the White House Domestic Policy Council last month. One more chance to get the message across.”

2) The New York Post reports a “dirty cop” and a “drug dealer” have teamed up to launch a cigar line. “Former officer Michael Dowd, 55, spent 12 years behind bars for shaking down cocaine dealers, swiping their drugs, and reselling them while working in Brooklyn’s 75th Precinct in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Now he’s teaming with a former drug cohort, gang leader Adam Diaz, to sell cigars from the Dominican Republic under the brand name The Seven Five—after Dowd’s old precinct… Printed on their wooden boxes are the phrases, ‘Nobody can touch me. Nobody can touch my crew,’ and ‘The King of Brooklyn.’”

3) Inside the Industry: Procigar, the annual Dominican cigar festival, began this week. Attendees start in La Romana before events move to the heart of the Dominican cigar industry in Santiago. Among the many manufacturers visitors can check out are General Cigar, Davidoff, Quesada, La Aurora, Reyes, Tabacalera La Alianza-E.P. Carrillo, La Flor Dominicana, Tabacalera Palma, and Fuente.

4) From the Archives: As we enter election season, this is a good time to revisit a helpful piece we published in 2011: How to Lobby Effectively for the Cigar Cause. The first tip, and the most important, is to focus on your legislator and others who are seeking your vote. Read the rest here.

5) Cigar Giveaway Update: We are currently running two opportunities for you to land some free cigars. On Monday, our review of the Búho Primero Connecticut included the chance for two readers to win a sampler of Búho cigars. We’re also giving away a box of 20 CAO Pilón Coronas. The giveaway is being run completely through the StogieGuys.com Facebook page, and details on how to enter can be found in this Facebook post.

6) Deal of the Week: Cigar fans looking for more information should consider joining the Montecristo Social Club. Signup is free, and if you provide a verifiable address you will receive a welcome pack including a free punch cutter.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Reuters

Cigar Giveaway: Win a Box of CAO Pilón Cigars

24 Feb 2016

One saying goes, “The best cigar is the cigar you like the best.” Another says, “The best cigar is a free cigar.” This week we’re embracing the latter and hooking up our readers with some fine free cigars.

On Monday, our review of the Búho Primero Connecticut included the chance for two readers to win a sampler of Búho cigars. (It’s still not too late to enter.)

We’re also giving away a box of 20 CAO Pilón Coronas. And if the randomly selected winner happens to be a dues-paying member of Cigar Rights of America, we’ll add a bonus prize, including cigars from our personal humidor and some cool cigar swag.

The giveaway is being run completely through the StogieGuys.com Facebook page. Details on how to enter (it takes approximately 60 seconds to do so) can be found in this Facebook post, which we’ve embedded below.

Free Giveaway: WIN this box of cigars (Details below)We're giving away a box of 20 CAO Pilón Coronas ($120 value)…

Posted by StogieGuys.com on Monday, February 22, 2016

The Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Búho Primero Connecticut Shade Robusto

22 Feb 2016

Buho Box

Few small cigar brands begin with a mild smoke. Sure, the potential audience is larger than that for the powerhouse blends often favored by boutique firms. But it also involves going up against industry behemoths such as Macanudo, Romeo y Julieta, and Montecristo.

BuhoBúho Cigars, run by the father and son team of Eddie and Ryan Dovner in Florida, kicked off at the low-end of the spectrum with a Dominican-rolled line featuring an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, an Indonesian binder, and “a proprietary Dominican blend” for filler.

Ryan told me the inspiration was his father’s love of Cuban cigars and how impressed he became with Dominican tobacco. He thought he could create a Cuban-esque blend and worked with the Abam factory in Santo Domingo to come up with the six-vitola Primero line. (There’s a Maduro with a San Andrés Mexican wrapper as well.)

Búho (“owl” in Spanish) is experimenting with different packaging options. In addition to conventional boxes of 20, sampler packs are available in durable humidified travel cases. The company is also promoting point-of-purchase displays with individual cigars in sealed humidity packs.

Cigars for this review were supplied by Búho, which also sent some we’re giving away in a StogieGuys.com contest. (Details toward the end.) Suggested retail prices for Búho cigars are $8 to $9.

I have smoked three in the Robusto format (5 x 50), and, other than a bit of a tight draw on one, construction was good. They burned straight and slow, producing a great deal of creamy smoke.

The opening is typical of many Connecticut cigars: a little grass, a little hay, a touch of earth, a bit of a bite. Within half an inch or so, though, a rich tobacco sweetness begins to emerge and overlays other flavors, including some light spice along the way. The cigar shines best in the second half.

Now, here’s the contest. For a chance to win a sampler of Búho cigars, simply go to Búho’s Facebook page, like it, and visit Búho’s website and register. Then leave a comment on this post that you’ve done so. We’ll pick two winners at random in a week or so.

And I think the winners will enjoy these smokes, especially if they’re partial to Connecticuts. Búho is well worth trying. I rate the Robusto three and a half stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie GuysBúho Cigars

Quick Smoke: Powstanie Broadleaf Belicoso

21 Feb 2016

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief take on a single cigar.Powstanie Broadleaf

IMG_4946

While the bulk of capacity at Fabrica de Tabacos Nica Sueño is devoted to RoMa Craft production (CroMagnon, Aquitaine, Intemperance, and Neanderthal) the boutique Estelí factory has slowly been adding a few other clients. The Powstanie line is made for the Florida-based retailer Cigar Hustler. The first Powstanie blend (a second Habano-wrapped blend followed soon after) sports a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, Indonesian binder, and Nicaraguan filler. The result is a medium- to full-bodied smoke with sneaky strength. Dominant flavors are wood, earth, and unsweetened chocolate. The finish is short and clean and the construction very solid. It’s hardly my favorite cigar made at Nica Sueño, but it’s still very enjoyable.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys