Archive | March, 2016

Quick Smoke: Drew Estate Nica Rustica Short Robusto

20 Mar 2016

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

Nica- Rustica Short Robusto

One of two additions (along with the “Big Belly” large torpedo) to the original Toro size, this Short Robusto (4.5 x 50) was introduced last summer. The cigar features a dark, rustic Broadleaf wrapper with plenty of black and brown discoloration. Gritty earth is the dominant flavor, along with oak and pepper, in this full-bodied smoke. Since the Nica Rustica blend yields few flavor changes with each smoking experience, I think the small Short Robusto vitola is the best format for the line to date.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: San Cristobal Ovation

19 Mar 2016

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

San Cristobal

This limited edition, created by Don José “Pepin” Garcia to expand Ashton’s San Cristobal line, features the seemingly ubiquitous San Andrés wrapper, this one said to be subjected to “an intensive two-and-a-half-year double-fermentation.” Only 66,000 of the cigars—a single size (6.5 x 52)—were rolled. While the wrapper didn’t exhibit the dirty taste I often associate with this Mexican tobacco, it also didn’t seem to mesh well with the filler and binder from the Garcias’ Nicaraguan farms. Not a bad cigar, just not a special one, especially for $15.

Verdict = Hold.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 471

18 Mar 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.

Hoyo

1) General Cigar Co. this week announced a new version of Hoyo de Monterrey. Called simply Hoyo, the brand extension will be for brick and mortar retailers only, with four sizes ranging in price from $5.49 to $6.99 shipping on April 1. “We’re taking the legendary brand Hoyo de Monterrey and moving it into the future,” says Alan Willner, General’s vice president of marketing. “The new Hoyo is about keeping the brand’s rich history of Honduran craftsmanship and infusing it with new ideas, new tobacco, and new packaging.” Hoyo will consist of a proprietary wrapper called Estelí Habano Shade, which is a thick, shade-grown, Cuban-seed leaf grown by the Plascencias and fermented for two years. The Ecuadoran Sumatra binder will envelop a filler combination of tobaccos from Nicaragua and Pennsylvania. One has to wonder if Hoyo is General’s answer to Romeo, launched by competitor Altadis USA in 2012. Like Hoyo, Romeo is an updated take on a classic brand with modernized packaging and a shortened name. According to General, though, the inspiration for Hoyo came from within. “Hoyo was inspired by Hoyo Edición de Cumpleaños 150, a successful, limited edition cigar released last year. [That cigar] took the first step toward breaking the conventions of the brand by featuring a new variety of Nicaraguan tobacco, a shade-grown wrapper never used before in any other cigar. With sleek new packaging and a contemporary logo, Hoyo Edición de Cumpleaños 150 represented a new wave of the brand.”

2) New rules announced by the Obama Administration on Tuesday have decriminalized the acts of purchasing and consuming Cuban goods, including cigars and rum, while Americans are abroad. Previously, it was technically illegal for Americans to purchase Cuban goods while beyond American borders. Now, in changes that took effect Wednesday, it is completely legal for Americans to smoke Cuban cigars and drink Cuban rum as they travel internationally. This decriminalization is the latest step the administration has taken in an effort to improve relations between Washington and Havana; diplomatic ties have already been re-established, embassies have been re-opened, and Americans legally traveling to Cuba may bring back $100 worth of Cuban goods, including cigars. An outright end to the longstanding embargo requires an act of Congress.

3) Chicago lawmakers continued their march towards complete tobacco ridiculousness this week, raising the smoking age to 21 and enacting a new $6 million tax on cigars, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco. Chicago also becomes “the fourth city to ban smokeless tobacco at sports venues, joining San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boston in attempting to reduce its use in athletics,” reports ESPN, which also noted Cubs manager Joe Maddon isn’t a fan of the new law. “I’m into personal freedoms,” he said, adding, “I’m not into over-legislating the human race.”

4) Contest Update: Please join us in congratulating Andy K. of Terre Haute, Indiana, as the winner of our latest giveaway: a full 20-count box of CAO Pilón Coronas. Plus, since Andy is a member of Cigar Rights of America, we’ll include a five-pack of select smokes from our personal humidor, plus some cool cigar swag.

5) Deal of the Week: Crowned Heads fans may want to jump on this special from Smoke Inn. For a limited time, buy any box of twelve Crowned Heads blends and get a free five-cigar travel case. Plus, use the coupon code “Stogie10” to knock ten percent off your order.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: General Cigar Co.

Cigar Review: Paul Garmirian 25th Anniversary Connoisseur

16 Mar 2016

PG Cigars 25th

“Boutique” is a word that gets thrown around a lot in marketing, especially cigars. While larger cigar companies fight for big chunks of market share, smaller boutique companies focus on filling the niches.

PG 25th AnniverasryIn many ways PG Cigars, founded in 1990 to coincide with Paul Garmirian’s book A Gourmet Guide to Cigars (which you can steal on Amazon for $4 shipped), could be considered one of the original boutique producers. Over the years, it has developed its niche by bringing well-aged cigars to market, and eschewing the industry norm of introducing a new cigar every year. Walk into the company’s cigar shop and headquarters in McLean, Virginia, and you’ll find numerous cigars for sale with 20 years of age. (I’d venture to guess the small, somewhat cramped stripmall storefront has more cigars for sale that have been aged 20 years or more than anywhere else in the country.)

With 2015 being the 25th anniversary of the company, PG Cigars did what any boutique cigar company would do: release a 25th Anniversary cigar, albeit in PG’s own understated way. The lone announcement for the anniversary smoke came in a pre-Christmas email along with a link to an NPR story about Cuban cigars that quoted Garmirian.

The 25th Anniversary Connoisseur comes in one size, a 6-inch by 52-ring gauge toro. The company hasn’t released details on the blend, but the deep brown, oily wrapper certainly looks similar to the Havana-seed wrapper used on PG’s 20th Anniversary blend.

Each of the four cigars I smoked for this review (provided by PG Cigars, although I walked in intending to buy the samples) featured excellent construction. There wasn’t a soft spot to be found on any of them and the burn and draw were flawless. (I also appreciate that the bands on these were easy to remove without damaging the wrapper, which is a problem I’ve had on other PG smokes.)

Once lit, the Connoisseur starts out with a unique sweet and bready combination  that reminds me of raisin bread. As it progresses, it reveals a combination of oak, cedar, mushroom, bread, and a salty savoriness that especially kicks in towards the second half of the cigar.

More than anything, this is a cigar characterized by restrained strength. You get the distinct sense that if it had been rushed at all the Connoisseur would have had some rough edges, but instead the full-bodied woodiness is tempered by a cornucopia of other subtle flavors.

While $19 is a lot for a cigar, and you’d expect a lot for such a premium price, the PG 25th Anniversary delivers. It demands a slow, speculative pace to be fully appreciated, and each cigar I smoked easily lasted two hours, but the time is well spent.

For now, this is a single-vitola blend, but PG’s 15th and 20th Anniversary blends were later expanded into multiple sizes, and I certainly hope the same happens for the 25th. In my opinion, the 25th Anniversary surpasses PG’s 20th Anniversary blend and is the equal, although a very different cigar, to the 15th Anniversary. That earns the Paul Garmirian 25th Anniversary Connoisseur our highest rating of five stogies out of five.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here. A list of other five-stogie rated cigars can be found here.]

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Crux Sports

14 Mar 2016

Sports-Logo-300-500

Perhaps frigid winters that limit outside smoking time inspired Minnesota-based Crux to craft a Lilliputian cigar that performs more like a Brobdingnagian. Or maybe they were simply looking for a good, small smoke. Either way, they succeeded.

Sports-cigar-650Crux Sports is a 4.625-inch stick with a 35-ring gauge. Don’t let the size lead you to confuse it with lesser cigars. Rolled by Plascencia in Nicaragua, it features a complex, balanced blend. The wrapper is Habano Jalapa from Nicaragua, the binder Indonesian, and the filler is from Nicaragua.

For this review, I smoked five Sports, all provided by Crux. (Despite an expanding retailer base, there’s unfortunately still not one anywhere near me.) Packaging is interesting. They are sold by the box of 30, which consists of six wrapped five-packs. The individual MSRP is $3.75. Crux introduced the line last summer but didn’t begin shipping until quite a while later.

Cutting and lighting both require a bit more attention than might be necessary for a more conventionally sized cigar. I’d recommend matches, a cedar spill, or a soft flame lighter. A butane torch—especially one with multiple jets—is likely to badly scorch the foot.

There’s a hearty fullness to the start, along with a bit of a bite that doesn’t last long. As you’d expect, there’s not a lot of changes in the small smoke. But a little pepper comes and goes. All in all, it’s quite balanced.

Areas where Sports shines are construction, draw, and smoke production. I was amazed at how even and smooth the draw was in each of the five I smoked, and the smoke volume could easily rival many larger cigars.

The five-pack wrapper displays a photo of four sportsmen dressed in what appear to be 19th century garb with the Crux Sports logo emblazoned on their sweaters. I wondered if there was any significance, but Crux’s Logan Drake informed me that they are “just generic sports guys.”

That’s not the case for the cigar they represent. It’s far from generic, and, as such, gets four out of five stogies.

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

George E

photo credit: Crux

Quick Smoke: Romeo by Romeo y Julieta Aging Room F25 Capriccio

13 Mar 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.”

ROMEO-Aging-Room

A collaboration between big and boutique, this Romeo y Julieta is made by Aging Room at La Palma and sold by Altadis under the Romeo label. The thick toro (6 x 54) is expertly constructed, producing an easy draw and even burn. The medium- to full-bodied cigar features earth, cinnamon, syrup, roast nuts, and dry wood. A complex and enjoyable cigar.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 470

11 Mar 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.

Steve Daines1) As the FDA’s proposed final rule awaits approval at the Office of Management and Budget, StogieGuys.com would like to join Cigar Rights of America (CRA) in applauding the federal legislators who are cosponsoring efforts in the Senate and House to exempt cigars from the forthcoming devastating regulations. There are currently 161 cosponsors of the “Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act” in the House—the newest additions are Tom Marino (R-PA), Rick Allen (R-GA), Scott Rigell (R-VA), and Rodney Davis (R-IL)—and 21 cosponsors in the Senate, the latest of which is Steve Daines (R-MT). “With Daines’ support, S. 441 now has five states—Florida, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Montana—where both United States Senators are co-sponsors,” according to a CRA email. “Of those five states, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Montana have bi-partisan delegations, and their support demonstrates that protecting the small business premium cigar industry, the rights of consumers, and the jobs provided by the industry is not a partisan issue, but one that draws from both sides of the aisle.”

2) Avo is adding to its Improvisation Series with the new 90th Classic Covers Volume 3. “Avo XO, a blend that stands as a true mark of quality, has been ‘covered’ with tobaccos from Ecuador and Mexico,” according to an Avo press release. “Presented in an elegant Toro (6 x 54) format, the 90th Classic Covers blend utilizes 6 different tobaccos spanning across 3 different countries, all working in harmony to deliver a remarkably unique and richly complex flavor profile. The filler is composed from rare Dominican tobaccos aged for 10 and 11 years, cradled by the Mexican Negro San Andrés binder leaf and elegantly finished with a Habano 2000 Claro wrapper from Ecuador.” Only 3,500 boxes of 18 cigars will be made with singles retailing for $16.90.

3) Inside the Industry: The Cuban cigar festival wrapped up last week. An announcement by Habanos S.A., the Cuban national cigar company and distributor, gave a glimpse into the size and scope of the Cuban cigar industry. Habanos announced annual revenues for 2015 reached $428 million, a slight increase from the previous year. About 55% of sales were to Europe and the rest were equally split between the Americas (including Cuba), the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia Pacific.

4) From the Archives: With warm weather coming up, even for those of us still suffering through the last vestiges of winter, it’s time to start getting ready for summertime smoking. Back in 2013, we put together a guide to help you with what you need to know, from refreshing your humidor for hot weather to picking out the right chilled beverage to accompany a cigar by the pool.

5) Deal of the Week: One of the harder cigars to find, the Liga Privada Dirty Rat is currently in stock at Famous Smoke. Order a box today and land a free sampler of seven full-bodied Nicaraguan cigars.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: SteveDaines.com