Archive | July, 2016

Quick Smoke: Nomad Dominican Classic Line Renegade

31 Jul 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.”


This robusto-sized cigar had been in my possession for about 18 months. That modest amount of time seems to have done it some good. The Renegade (5.25 x 54) is creamier and nuttier than I remember, though all of the other flavors from my April 2015 review still hold true: bread, woody spice, earth, and a touch of bitterness on the finish. I paid $9 for this well-constructed Ecuadorian Habano-wrapped Dominican. That’s a fair price, and it’s a good value if you can exercise some patience. (For what it’s worth, if this were a full review, I would bump up my rating from three-and-a-half to four stogies out of five.)

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Royal Agio Balmoral Añejo XO Rothschild Masivo

30 Jul 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.”


Unlike the limited edition Balmoral Añejo 18, the XO doesn’t state the exact age of its Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper. However, we’re told the wrapper, the Dominican binder, and the filler tobaccos from Nicaragua, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic are all “eXceptionally Old,” hence XO. The large robusto (5 x 55) performs flawlessly with a solid gray ash, straight burn, and an open, easy draw.  I’d classify the XO’s flavors as muted and subtle, but also complex. There’s a rich creaminess, raisin bread, and just a hint of wood and cinnamon spice. This is the type of cigar I’d smoke with a rich cup of coffee or a balanced brown ale.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 490

29 Jul 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.

DE Logo

1) Drew Estate has announced an executive-level shakeup. Glenn Wolfson, a graduate of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and a Chicago-area resident, will relocate to Miami to oversee the company’s day-to-day operations as chief executive officer. “Glenn Wolfson is a trusted advisor, and has enjoyed a 36-year career in business as a senior corporate executive and consultant,” said Peter Ghiloni, Swisher’s CEO. “Glenn has worked with our team in the past, helping us transform our business dramatically having experience in managing supply chain and operations, marketing, information technology, business strategy, and human resource.” Michael Cellucci is stepping down from his post as Drew Estate’s president to pursue other opportunities, and Rich Cutler returns to Drew Estate in a sales capacity for “transitional support.” In the fall of 2014, Drew Estate was acquired by Swisher International, the largest cigar company in the world by volume.

2) Cigar Rights of America (CRA) will begin affixing stamp-size labels to cigar boxes from manufacturers who support the cause of cigar freedoms. “The Stamp,” as it is known, debuted at the industry trade show this week. “We wanted to develop a program to recognize those companies that have been and are advancing the cause of CRA as a movement among patrons of great premium cigars, for their resources that have advanced the legislative agenda of CRA in Washington and across the nation, and are giving to this partnership between the manufacturers, community retail tobacconist, and consumers of premium handmade cigars,” CRA executive director J. Glynn Loope told Cigar Aficionado.

3) Inside the Industry: Tons of new cigars were introduced this week, and we’ll have plenty to review in the coming months. Generally, new cigars are a result of the creativity and skill of the blender, and limited by available tobaccos. At the IPCPR Trade Show, General Cigar debuted the results of a new project to expand the types of tobacco available to its cigar makers. “Project Mao” seeks to use archived tobacco seeds to redevelop strands of tobacco that otherwise would be unavailable due to the natural evolution of tobacco strains. Both the Partagas Ramon y Ramon and Macanudo Mao use tobacco developed from archived seeds that are over a half century old to attempt to recreate flavors that otherwise have been lost.

4) From the Archives: first attended the IPCPR Trade Show in 2008, which was also held at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, home to the 2016 show. Check out our coverage of that show here and here.

5) Deal of the Week: Want to fill your humidor with some high-quality cigars on the cheap? This IPCPR 2016 Sampler features ten cigars that will normally run you over $60 combined, for just $29.95.  Included are cigars from Drew Estate Undercrown, Surrogates, Miro, La Aurora, and others.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Drew Estate

Cigar Review: Villiger San’Doro Maduro Toro

27 Jul 2016

For quite some time, Villiger, a big player in the machine-made cigar realm, has been attempting to gain a foothold in the premium, hand-rolled market.

VilligerAnd it hasn’t focused solely on sticks on the shelves. The 128-year-old Swiss-based firm blew up its North American operation, named a new president, ended a brief relationship with Sutliff Tobacco, and relocated its U.S. corporate headquarters to suburban Miami. (Hopefully, Villigar will get its “coming soon” website up and running.)

On the tobacco front, Villiger has introduced cigars, such as Trill and Cabareté, that didn’t feature the Villiger name. And it’s tried with cigars that do, like the Villiger San’Doro.

The three-cigar San’Doro line was introduced at last year’s International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Trade Show and began shipping late in 2015. The Maduro comes in a single vitola, a Toro (6 x 50), with an $8.50 price tag. It’s a Brazilian puro that’s also rolled in Villiger’s factory there. (The other two San’Doro lines—Claro and Colorado—are produced for Villiger by Oliva in Nicaragua.)

In a June interview with Cigar Snob, Villiger North America president Rene Castañeda said 2016 production for each of the lines will be about 25,000 for U.S. sales, with a focus on Florida, California, and the New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania market.

The San’Doro Maduro features a Mata Fina wrapper, Mata Norte binder, and Mata Fina and Mata Norte filler. I smoked three samples, which were sent to me by Villiger.

The cigar makes a strong first impression, with an oily wrapper and a heavy feel. The denseness made me wary of a tight draw, but that proved not to be the case. The cigars did, however, start with fairly airy smoke that gradually gained substance.

It also burned very slowly, making the six-inch smoke last as long as most cigars an inch or more in length.

Villiger promotes the Maduro as the strongest of the San’Doro lines. I’d put it as medium strength and body.

There are many of the typical Maduro flavors, such as coffee and chocolate. It also has a pleasant mix of sweetness and a little spice, with some nuttiness and some wood and leather. The flavors mix and mingle throughout, keeping it interesting along the way.

If you haven’t tried a Villiger cigar, this is a good place to start. I rate the San’Doro Maduro four stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Yaxel Ortiz Y.O. Toro

25 Jul 2016

YO Pic 1

About a month ago, right after LeBron James delivered the Cleveland Cavaliers their first title in the franchise’s 46-year history, pictures and video began to surface of the NBA Finals MVP with a cigar. Since it wasn’t easy to discern the band, I recall seeing some speculation on social media about what cigar LeBron had chosen to celebrate. Several people seemed quite certain it was a Hoyo.

YO ToroThe cigar brand was later correctly identified as Y.O. by Yaxel Ortiz. I think it’s safe to say this choice caught many people by surprise. Even many of those who are regular smokers and enthusiastic readers and followers of the world of cigars had never heard of the brand. How it got on LeBron’s radar—or how the cigar in question made its way to him—is not known.

An employee of Cousin’s Cigar, a five-location tobacconist in the Cleveland area, sent me a handful of Yaxel Ortiz Y.O. Toros, along with information about the brand. Yaxel Ortiz, for instance, has been working with tobacco for a quarter century and has been making cigars in the U.S. for years. Recently, he opened his own factory in Estelí called The Best Cigars S.A. It is there his first Nicaraguan-made cigar is crafted.

Y.O. has been on the market for about nine months and is available at about 30 stores across 9 states. Its recipe includes an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. Four sizes are available, each of which is affordably priced: Robusto (5 x 50, $5.20), Torpedo (6.5 x 52, $6.50), Churchill (7 x 50, $6.50), and Toro (6 x 52, $5.90).

Beneath the glossy band of black and gold that was the subject of much speculation and head-scratching is a silky, oily, slightly reddish wrapper with thin veins and moderate tooth. The several Toros I smoked for this review all had a few lumps here and there, along with a spongy feel. At the foot, the sweet pre-light notes are reminiscent of mocha and caramel.

On the palate, after an even light is established, medium- to full-bodied flavors of black pepper, coffee, and dark chocolate waste no time introducing themselves. The texture is thick and leathery, and there is a little cayenne heat on the finish. After a quarter inch, the intensity fades a bit, a retreat that paves the way for some creaminess and sweetness to enter the equation.

The midway point is lighter on spice and flatter in character with oak, creamy nougat, and bread. Now decidedly medium-bodied, the texture is less leathery and chalkier. The finale witnesses a reprise of some of the initial intensity.

Despite the cigar’s sponginess—which, in my experience, can often portend construction issues—the Toro exhibits excellent combustion properties. Each of my samples had a straight burn, solid ash, smooth draw, and above-average smoke production.

One would think LeBron wouldn’t need to concern himself with cost, especially when selecting a celebratory smoke for one of the greatest accomplishments in his storied career. You and I, on the other hand, are likely in a different boat. So the price points across the Y.O. range are certainly welcome and highly appreciated. As far as the Toro is concerned, it won’t knock your socks off with flavor or complexity. But it will deliver a consistently enjoyable experience that’s worthy of a solid rating of three stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Partagas Serie P No. 2 (Cuban)

24 Jul 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.”

Serie P No. 2

I’ve had this Cuban puro resting in a tube in my humidor for at least a few years. With all the new non-Cuban cigars being introduced this week at the IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas, I decided to check out a Cuban that is anything but new. (Of course, if the cigar could legally be sold in the U.S., it would not be grandfathered as exempt because it was not sold or marketed in the U.S. in 2007.) This pirámide is medium-bodied with a typical Cuban profile with cedar, leather, roasted nuts, and just a bit of woody spice. Although he foot of the cigar has been a little beat up by the metal tube (something I’ve seen before from these) construction was generally without incident.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: H. Upmann Ingot The Banker Private Holding

23 Jul 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.”


This limited edition from Altadis is a standout, far from the stereotype of cigars from an industry’s giant. It’s rich, complex, and nicely balanced with a Criollo ’98 wrapper and Nicaraguan binder and filler. Issued in a single size (6 x 54) with 4,500 eight-count boxes shaped like gold bars, the single-stick MSRP is $9.25. I did experience some minor meandering burn issues and a flaky ash, but the spicy, sweet, and shifting flavors more than made up for it.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys