Archive | April, 2016

Cigar Review: Davidoff Nicaragua Short Corona

18 Apr 2016

The spicy start from this cigar comes quicker and stronger than other vitolas I’ve smoked in this line. Of course, when a cigar is only 3.75 inches, starting fast is nearly a requirement.

Davidoff Nicaragua (1)That wasn’t the only difference that struck me as I smoked through a five-pack of Davidoff Nicaragua Short Coronas I’d bought for about $50 last summer. There was less change throughout—again, not unexpected. In the Robusto, for example, I found the spice to lower in intensity at about the halfway point, especially as coffee became more prominent. Not so here; spice continued pretty much as it began, with the coffee maintaining a moderate level.

Other flavors I noticed were chocolate, wood, and the earthy, musty note that seems to be a part of Davidoff’s DNA. The Short Corona finish was velvet smooth, another common Davidoff characteristic.

I drank coffee while smoking a couple, and it was an excellent pairing.

For such a small smoke (the ring gauge is 46), the draw was perfect, as was the burn throughout. Smoke production rivaled that of a much larger stick.

These Nicaraguan puros were introduced by Davidoff in 2013. Originally released in three vitolas, there are now six, including two box-pressed versions and a Diadima.

The wrapper is a ten-year-old Havana-seed rosado, the binder from Jalapa, and the filler a mixture of leaves from Nicaragua’s tobacco growing regions of Estelí, Condega, and Ometepe. Despite the tobacco composition, the cigars are rolled at Davidoff’s Dominican factory.

While a bit late to the Nicaragua tobacco fest, Davidoff knew what to do when it arrived. Our earlier reviews of the Robusto and the Toro each earned four stogies.

When the Nicaragua line was announced, Davidoff said it was part of the company’s goal of bringing “delightful experiences” to cigar smokers. I believe they did just that with the Short Corona, and I, too, give this smoke four stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Eiroa Classic Prensado

17 Apr 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.”

Eiroa Prensado

This little Honduran puro was Cigar Journal’s pick for top cigar of 2015, and it’s easy to see why. Christian Eiroa’s eponymous smoke opens with a peppery burst that gives way to leather and sweetness. Numerous other flavors follow in a blend that’s smooth and balanced from start to finish. The lightly pressed Prensado (4 x 48) smokes like a dream, burning slowly and evenly with a near-perfect draw. The only drawback would be the price, which runs about $10. But for anyone wanting to sample the best of Honduras, this is a stick to smoke.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Kilo Toro

16 Apr 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.”

Kilo Toro Smoke

Eight months ago, I reviewed Kilo in the Toro format (6 x 52) and found it to be worthy of a near-perfect rating given its cool-burning balance, excellent construction, and unique, interesting flavors. You may recall Kilo is the product of a partnership between Barry Stein, a cigar blogger and employee of the New Hampshire-based Two Guys Smoke Shop, and Noel Rojas of the Tabacalera Aromas de Jalapa factory in Nicaragua. The blend features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan Corojo 2006 binder, and three-year-old filler tobaccos from Rojas’ farms in Nicaragua and Aganorsa. Last night I fired up the Toro for the first time in a long time, and I immediately thought, “Why am I not smoking this more often?” This complex, harmonious cigar is a joy to smoke.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 475

15 Apr 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.

BL Conn

1) Yesterday, the oldest cigar maker in the Dominican Republic announced the launch of a new four-blend line called Black Lion. La Aurora Black Lion will be featured in Connecticut, Corojo, Maduro, and Cameroon varieties. Connecticut will pair a Connecticut wrapper with an Ecuadorian binder and filler tobaccos from the Cibao Valley, Nicaragua, and Peru. Black Lion Cameroon will have a Cameroon wrapper with an Ecuadorian binder and fillers from the Cibao Valley and Nicaragua. Black Lion Maduro sports a dark Cubra wrapper with a Brazilian binder and fillers from the Cibao Valley, Brazil, Nicaragua, and Peru. And Black Lion Corojo will pair a Corojo wrapper with an Ecuadorian binder and fillers from the Cibao Valley and Nicaragua. Four sizes will be available: Robusto, Toro, Gran Toro, and Churchill. Each cigar will come in 25-count boxes with modern packaging that’s a clear departure from La Aurora’s typically classic approach, which leans heavily towards traditional.

2) The Tampa Bay Tribune highlights the stakes of the pending FDA regulation of cigars and the potential for warming regulations with Cuba to forestall the devastating impact of such regulations. According to the article, “The regulations would apply to foreign-made cigars, too—perhaps, one day, to now-banned Cuba imports. And that is where hope lies, say some in the industry. They think progress made under the initiative by President Barack Obama to normalize relations with Cuba will lead Congress to end the embargo and the FDA to adopt less restrictive regulations on premium cigars. Cigars from Cuba and those made by Newman are classified as premium.”

3) Inside the Industry: “Gran Habano announces the pre-release of La Colección de Elegancia, a collection of Gran Habano’s best-selling Corojo No. 5 blend in smaller ring gauge sizes,” reads a press release. “The Corojo No. 5 Elegance sizes have the strongest blend in the Gran Habano profile with rich, full-bodied flavors further enhanced by the smaller ring gauge. Gran Habano is now taking pre-orders from retailers for La Colección de Elegancia Sampler containing 10 cigars of each ring gauge size. Gran Habano will also be releasing three new sizes of Corojo No. 5 cigar boxes as part of the Elegance Collection series: Petite Corona (5.5 x 42), Corona (6 x 44), and the Figurado No. 200 (5 x 48).”

4) From the Archives: With summer just around the corner, it is a good time to make sure you are protecting your cigars from the potentially damaging effects that heat can have on proper storage. This tip will walk you through the basics, including providing four suggestions for making sure your cigars are properly shielded from excessive temperature.

5) Deal of the Week: Crowned Heads fans will 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: La Aurora

Cigar Review: Old Henry Gold Label Toro

13 Apr 2016

Gold Label

As I wrote in my review of the Pure Breed Toro last month, Holt’s Cigar Company has a Best in Show sampler that features two Toros from each of the four Old Henry blends for just $29.95 ($3.74 per cigar). For cost-conscious fans of José “Pepín” García, this eight-pack is a total no-brainer.

Old Henry CTAnd whether you’re trying Old Henry for the first time or looking for an excuse to revisit these value-priced smokes, your timing couldn’t be better. This year marks the tenth anniversary of Old Henry, a house blend made for Holt’s by Pepín. Holt’s, as you may know, is the Philadelphia tobacconist that launched the Ashton brand in 1985 and today maintains a strong catalog and online presence. That means you don’t have to traipse to 1522 Walnut Street in downtown Philadelphia to get your hands on some Old Henry smokes.

Today, the Old Henry portfolio ranges from the original Old Henry (Nicaraguan Corojo wrapper), Maduro (Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper), Pure Breed (Ecuador Sumatra wrapper), and the subject of today’s review: Gold Label. Gold Label sports a clean, bright, minimally veined Connecticut-seed Ecuadorian wrapper that provides a silky cover for the Nicaraguan tobaccos underneath. Five vitolas are available in the highly affordable $4.75 to $5.75 range: Belicoso, Churchill, Corona, Robusto, and Toro.

The latter is firmly constructed from head to foot. The pre-light notes are faint with delicate hints of sweet hay, honey, and sawdust. After nothing more than a V-cut, I find the cold draw to be a bit stiff for my liking. A simple guillotine cut, though, reveals a good draw with only moderate resistance.

Right out of the gate, the Gold Label Toro exhibits a well-balanced flavor with an enjoyable interplay between sweetness, spice, and cream. Roasted nut, café au lait, dry oak, and white pepper best characterize the profile. The body is mild to medium with a buttery texture.

As it approaches the midway point, the taste becomes spicier with the additions of cinnamon and black pepper. I also notice that when my puffs become more frequent, a fleeting bitter taste has a tendency to materialize, but only for a moment. Avoiding the bitterness—which is not a flavor of which I’m particularly fond—is as easy as remembering to take your time.

The final third of the Toro has lots more cinnamon and pepper, though the body is still barely verging on medium. Construction across both of my samples was consistent and admirable. Both burn lines were of the set-it-and-forget-it variety, the smoke production was above average, and the gray ashes held firm.

This isn’t the first time we’ve reviewed the Old Henry Gold Label. My colleague examined the Belicoso way back in October 2012, finding it not complex enough to merit a four-stogie rating, but “a good bit better than a fairly routine three stogies.” He ultimately split the difference, and I concur. The Toro is worthy of three and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar News: Davidoff to Make Major Cuts to Its Lines

11 Apr 2016

Davidoff-both-2015-IPCPR

In a major realignment of its cigars, Davidoff is discontinuing 19 vitolas, including two complete lines, across what it calls its “Core Pillar.”

The cuts are likely to be followed by the announcement of new Davidoff releases.

The lines being eliminated are Puro d’Oro, an eight-vitola offering, and the three-vitola Maduro line that dates to 2008.

Also on the chopping block are No. 1 and No. 3 from the Davidoff Classic Series; Grand Cru No. 1 and No. 4; the No. 1 and No. 2 Aniversarios; and the Lonsdale and Lancero Millenium Blend vitolas.

Overall, the Core Pillar will consist of four lines offered in 20 formats after the cuts are completed. Factory production of the discontinued cigars will shut down at mid-year, though Davidoff retailers will continue to sell on-hand stock at regular prices.

Davidoff said there will be no changes to any of its blends.

The information came via email from the office of Orianne Labrick, Davidoff’s Global Brand Manager in Switzerland.

According to Davidoff, choosing the cigars to eliminate was a careful process. For example, while two Aniversarios were eliminated, the highly popular Aniversario No. 3 was retained.

Among the cigars being dropped were some that “felt a bit outdated,” with the changes providing “new opportunities to launch product innovations,” according to Davidoff.

Davidoff hinted that those innovations might include large ring-gauge smokes, as the company noted it plans to introduce “more modern cigar formats that were missing” from its existing portfolio. (The cuts involving Puro d’Oro and Aniversario were first reported by Halfwheel.)

This move comes amid a flurry of recent activity by Davidoff. The company unveiled a third retail shop in Manhattan, followed by its largest store, which opened earlier this year in Tampa. Other U.S. shops are planned.

Davidoff also recently added new vitolas to Nicaragua, and last year introduced Escurio, both of which it calls “Discovery” lines. The “Iconic” Winston Churchill line was revamped earlier, as was Davidoff’s Avo brand.

No changes are planned for the Discovery or Iconic lines.

Puro d’Oro was introduced to great fanfare in 2010. The Dominican puro, with its Yamasá wrapper developed by master blender Henke Kelner, was heavily advertised. The line also featured the fattest Davidoff, called Gordito (3.75 x 58), which was released about three years ago.

Some of the cigars being cut have been highly rated at StogieGuys.com. The Grand Cru No. 4, for example, was a five-stogie smoke two years ago.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: La Flor Dominicana LG Diez Dominicano 2013

10 Apr 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.”

LG-Diez-2013-Dominicano

Not long ago, I was browsing a store that I don’t often go into and came across some well-aged La Flor Dominicana products, including this 2013 LG Diez Dominicano. The Churchill  (6.9 x 50) features a pale sun-grown Dominican Habano wrapper that surrounds Dominican binder and filler tobaccos. The well-constructed cigar is full-bodied, woody, and creamy with lots of red and black pepper spice. With a little leather on the finish, it’s a fine example of the complexity and body a Dominican puro can deliver.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys