Archive | August, 2016

Cigar Review: CroMagnon Breuil

31 Aug 2016

CroMagnon-Breuil

In 2014, RoMa Craft introduced El Catador de las Panetelas, a sampler featuring two each of four cigars all in a panatela (5.5 x 37) size. Included were two different Intemperance blends, along with an Acquitaine and a CroMagnon blend, all made at the Fabrica de Tabacos Nica Sueño.

More recently, each blend was sold separately by the box as a limited editions, with the Intemperance cigars coming boxes of 12 and the Acquitaine and CroMagnon coming in ten-count boxes ($7.50 MSRP per cigar).

I smoked three of the CroMagnon Breuil cigars for this review from a box purchased recently. Like the rest of the CroMagnon line, the cigar features a dark Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, Cameroon binder, and Nicaraguan filler from three separate growing regions in Nicaragua: Estelí, Condega, and a small farm north of Estelí on the Honduran border.

Initial flavors are what I’ve come to expect from CroMagnon: powdered earth, cocoa, and spice. But there are also some unique additions to the flavor profile with a slightly metallic taste and flora notes. The flavors held steady from beginning to end.

Construction was excellent on the hour-long smoke, which is particularly impressive given that the small size can sometimes prove challenging. The cigar featured a sturdy white ash and an even burn.

While I found the Breuil (the name comes from a French archeologist who documented many early human cave drawings) enjoyable, I didn’t think it was better than the larger sizes of the CroMagnon blend. Although generally I prefer smaller ring gauge smokes, I think this shows why the original CroMagnon cigars were almost all thicker smokes. The wider format shows the best of this strong, full-bodied blend.

All told, the RoMa Craft CroMagnon Breuil earns a rating of three and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credits: Stogie Guys

Commentary: Cigar Consistency is No Hobgoblin

29 Aug 2016

Tobacco Field

Consistency with cigars is a trait often observed in the breach. We can all think of manufacturers who’ve had a hard time shaking a reputation for a lack of consistency.

Of course, we can also think of companies whose products are remarkably consistent. Yet it is not often included among the common compliments cited when cigars are reviewed.

Nowadays, with the proliferation of limited editions and one-shot issues where consistency is of little import, I fear it may be regarded even less. I think that’s a shame.

Knowing that a cigar you smoke today will be like one you smoked last month or last year—as well as a year or two from now—is important.

I thought about this the other day when I lit a Perdomo Lot 23 Robusto. I first smoked a Lot 23 (a Toro) more than nine years ago. My review wasn’t particularly favorable. Then, about three years ago, I went back to the line and sampled the Robusto. I changed my mind. It was a most enjoyable smoke.

And, since that time, I’ve almost always had at least a few of the moderately priced Lot 23s in my humidor. When I pick one up I know I’ll have a good experience.

Making consistent cigars is no small trick. It involves a great deal of investment. Investment in time, material, and personnel.

First, there’s got to be enough tobacco to keep making the cigars. And that tobacco must be carefully processed and aged. Only a talented and skilled blender can note the natural variances in harvest years and make the necessary tweaks to get the same results. Only skilled workers can produce the cigars to standards year in and year out.

Consistency, too, seems to be something many cigar smokers don’t value much when looking at cigar prices. Paying $15 or $20—or more—without complaint for a limited edition cigar is quite common. Yet many smokers resent a similar price for a cigar that’s been manufactured to consistent high standards for years.

All of which is something to contemplate the next time you light up or go searching through the humidor at your local tobacconist.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: E.P. Carrillo Capa de Sol Sultan

28 Aug 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.”

EPC-CapaDelSol

This new blend from the new lineup from E.P. Carrillo is part of what they deem their “Elite Series.” It sports an Ecuadorian sun-grown wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler. The large Gordo (6 x 60) was noticeably under-filled, resulting in a uneven burn that required multiple touch-ups. I found an interesting medium-bodied combination of almond butter, toast, earth, and cayenne spice. Flavor-wise, there is a lot of potential here, but the construction issues just detracted from the upside too much. When I try this blend again, I will probably be more inclined to go for a smaller ring gauge size.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 494

26 Aug 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.

El Reloj

1) In a press release distributed on Monday, J.C. Newman—the oldest family-owned cigar maker in the U.S.—announced its new boutique cigar division. The J.C. Newman Fourth Generation Cigar Company, as it is called, began shipping three lines to retailers last week: The American, Admiration, and The 1954. All of the cigars are handmade at J.C. Newman’s El Reloj factory in Ybor City (pictured above). The American has a Florida sun-grown wrapper and is available in four sizes. Admiration is a “bright, bold cigar that marries classic American and New World Nicaraguan tobaccos.” Both will be sold in the ultra-premium $16 to $18 price range. The 1954, which commemorates the year company founder Julius Caeser Newman moved operations to Tampa, will be sold in one size (6.25 x 42). “Our family and so many others make wonderful cigars overseas,” said Drew Newman. “With the J.C. Newman Fourth Generation Cigar Company, our goal is to prove that world-class cigars with unique, heirloom American tobaccos can be hand-rolled in America once again.”

2) Officials in Dallas will soon vote on whether to ban outdoor smoking at all of the city’s parks. “The park board has been working on this ban proposal since November 2014. The proposal will go to the council for a full vote within the next 30 days, at which point exceptions could be added back to the proposed amendment by council members opposed to the outright ban,” reports the Dallas Morning News. While the Park and Recreation Board moved to push forward the proposal with no exemptions, “several council members said they weren’t on board with the ban, calling it unenforceable and nothing more than the nanny state in action.”

3) Although Americans can now legally purchase Cuban cigars while abroad, and can even import up to $100 worth of Cuban cigars when returning from traveling on a visa to Cuba, not everyone has updated their policies. Forbes contributor Nathaniel Parish Flannery found his PayPal account frozen when he reimbursed a friend for a cigar purchased and smoked in Mexico. While PayPal should surely update their policies so as not to flag perfectly legal purchases, it would be wise to not mention cigars at all when transferring funds via PayPal.

4) Inside the Industry: Prometheus has announced the fall 2016 Fuente Aged Selection. In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Fuente Fuente OpusX, an interview book with Carlos “Carlito” Fuente Jr. and 20 Years of Fuente Fuente OpusX will be released. The book will be presented with four Fuente Fuente Forbidden X cigars and six rare vintage Fuente Aged Selection cigars. The price, which will be substantial, has not yet been announced.

5) From the Archives: Last year Steve Saka’s long-anticipated Sobremesa debuted. This year he has a host of new offerings. If you want some insight into those new blends, check out this interview with Saka last year.

6) Deal of the Week: Over the years, West Palm Beach retailer Smoke Inn has partnered with some of the biggest names in the cigar industry to create exclusive cigars for its Microblend collection. If you missed any of those cigars, some of which haven’t been sold for years, you can now obtain the entire collection. Grab yours here.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Tampa Bay Times

Cigar Spirits: Laphroaig Lore

24 Aug 2016

I generally reach for bourbon or rum in the summer months, while reserving single malt for when the weather cools down. Something about the smokey style of Islay Malts especially, like Laphroaig, are perfect for a chilly evening in the fall or winter.

Laphroaig LoreBut I didn’t want to wait to try the new Lore. Introduced earlier this year, Lore fills the vacancy in the Laphroaig lineup left by the 18-year-old expression, which was discontinued last year. A bottle retails for a hefty $125.

Lore doesn’t carry an age statement but mixes older and newer whisky, described on the Laphroaig website as “a marriage of classical Laphroaig styles and many ages of Laphroaig; some as old as vintage 1993. The marriage draws from the peaty power of Laphroaig with the smoothness of double matured stock finished in European oak hogsheads.”

The result is a totally new Laphroaig from what you might be used to, but one I found extremely enjoyable. The classic smoke and peat provide the background of the whisky but there is whole lot more going on here.

The nose features smoke and seaweed along with pear and shortbread. The palate layers sherried notes of fruit and fudge over brine, spice, and maltiness. The finish is both rich and clean with peat, honey, sugar cookies, and oak.

I understand those who are frustrated by the trend towards NAS (non age statement) whiskies on both sides of the Atlantic. That said, Lore is an example of how a whisky not locked into an age statement can provide plenty of depth and complexity by blending old and new whisky.

Somewhat by chance, I smoked a Cameroon-wrapped cigar while sampling Lore, and I can’t recommend the combination enough, as the light spice of the Cameroon wrapper goes perfectly with the rich peat. Specifically, try La Flor Dominicana Cameroon Cabinet, Arturo Fuente Don Carlos, or Drew Estate Nirvana.

Patrick S

photo credit: Laphroaig

Cigar Review: Drew Estate Liga Privada No. 9 Toro

22 Aug 2016

Privada

I still think of Drew Estate as a newer cigar company, probably due to its modern marketing, sleek packaging, unique fan base, and urban, non-traditional vibe. How many other cigar outfits have an in-house art studio turning out graffiti and tattoos, or their own social media app? How many other brands have such a dedicated cult following among younger clientele?

LigaBut while Drew Estate lacks the history of industry stalwarts like Arturo Fuente or Joya de Nicaragua, it’s no spring chicken, either. It also can’t be considered among the ranks of small boutique outfits anymore. Drew Estate runs the largest cigar factory in Nicaragua—producing over 10,000 cigars a day—and in 2014 it was acquired by Swisher International, the largest cigar company in the world.

Drew Estate’s size and parent carry some advantages. For example, in the midst of all the FDA malaise, I’ve been thinking a lot about what cigars in my current rotation will still be available in a few years. It’s hard to imagine Swisher will have any trouble coming up with the capital necessary to overcome the yet-to-be-detailed-though-surely-onerous approval process for any Drew Estate cigars that are selling.

Surely they’ll do so for the Liga Privada No. 9 blends, which became available in the summer of 2007—just after the February 2007 exemption deadline. Today, I thought I’d revisit my favorite cigar in that line, the Toro (6 x 52). While I might not have much new to say about a cigar that’s been on the market for nearly a decade, it’s helpful to reexamine old favorites. And, heck, I guess I just wanted an excuse to fire a few Toros up.

By now, we all know the story. Former Drew Estate chief Steve Saka, now owner of Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust, began work in 2005 on a personal blend for his own enjoyment. After over 50 blends of testing with Jonathan Drew and Nick Melillo (now owner of Foundation Cigar Co.), a final recipe was arrived at: a dark Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper fermented for at least 18 months, a Brazilian Mata Fina binder, and filler tobaccos from Honduras and Nicaragua.

Liga production is still limited—a limitation, according to Drew Estate, that’s due to tobacco availability—so the cigars can be tough to find and expensive. When you get your hands on a Toro, though, you’ll find a highly pleasurable, full-bodied cigar with tons of flavor and a fair amount of spice. Leathery in texture, the core tastes include black pepper, cocoa, espresso, cream, and that infectious sweet grassiness that can only be found in certain Drew Estate cigars.

Construction is outstanding, including a straight burn line and a solid white ash. Notably, the draw is incredibly easy and the smoke production is intense—welcome characteristics that have become trademarks of Drew Estate over the years.

You can expect to pay $12 or more for the Toro. While that’s a considerable cost, you can be assured of a solid, consistent, tasty experience. I’ve been smoking this cigar for a long time, and I think the most fitting rating is an exceptional 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: MBombay Habano Gordo

21 Aug 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.”

20160817_025749571_iOS

The five-vitola MBombay Habano line made its debut in 2015, joining several other blends from Mel Shah’s house-brand-turned-national-release. It is made at Tabacos de Costa Rica with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Ecuadorian Criollo binder, and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and Peru. The Gordo (6 x 60, $12.50) has a balanced bouquet of flavors ranging from warm tobacco and roasted nuts to cream, caramel, and a gentle woodsy spice. It smokes OK, though the burn line tends to meander and the draw is a tad tight, especially for such a thick cigar. I suspect I will appreciate the other MBombay Habano vitolas considerably more; my enjoyment of this cigar is limited by its excessive girth.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys