Archive | November, 2016

Quick Smoke: Montecristo Espada Estoque

19 Nov 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.”

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If you’re in the market for a cigar with a whole bunch of shiny, elaborate bands, look no further than the Espada Estoque from Montecristo. This well-dressed cigar debuted last year as Altadis’ follow-up to the 2014 Montecristo Espada. The Plasencia Family made only 5,000 boxes of 10 in a torpedo (6 x 50) format, the only vitola offered. The tobaccos include a 2013 Jalapa wrapper, 2002 Criollo Jalapa binder, and three filler leaves from Estelí (Corojo 2009), Ometepe (Criollo 2013), and Condega (Criollo 2013). I found a single Espada Estoque in one of my humidors, where it had likely been resting over a year. The initial profile is deliciously nutty with a toned-down black pepper spice and some espresso. Thereafter, the nuttiness fades while pepper and leather come to the fore. The texture is gritty and papery. Construction is excellent, but I expect more from a cigar with an MSRP of $14.50.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick A

 

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 506

18 Nov 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.

Sam Leccia

1) Sam Leccia (pictured above) of Leccia Tobacco has launched an online store where consumers and retailers can purchase his products directly. “Since taking over the distribution of my products, I wanted to offer both retailers and consumers a user-friendly experience for buying Leccia Tobacco cigars,” said Leccia in a press release. The release provides further details: “In addition to Leccia tobacco, the store offers other boutique cigar lines to which Sam has a personal affinity, signature Leccia gear, and cigar accessories. A Roll-Your-Own kit is in the works for those who want to try their hand at rolling cigars. New items arrive in-store regularly… [along with] limited small batch cigars… [and] one-off blends.” The store can be found at Leccia-Tobacco.com. Sam Leccia is best-known for pioneering Nub—a concept that was copied widely—and, before setting out on his own, working with Oliva, Toraño (his former distributor), and General Cigar.

2) Here’s some random advice: Don’t order from CigarStorehouse.com. The site features unbelievably low prices—as much as 50% lower than what you’ll normally find at other sites. But it has a “low trust rating” from ScamAdviser.com. Cigarstorehouse.com has been around for a while and has generated complaints and warnings on cigar forums. Although it lists a U.S. address, questions have been raised about possible links to a Chinese operation. One of the biggest red flags: requesting payment via Western Union. That’s a sure sign, say scam-watchers, that you’re unlikely to get what you ordered. We haven’t gotten a reply to an email sent through the site’s contact form. We’ll let you know if that changes.

3) From the Archives: Almost everyone likes to save a buck at least every now and then. We’ve been helping cigar smokers make wise tobacco purchases for years. Here are five tips that are just as relevant today as when we published them back in 2010.

4) Deal of the Week: Limited quantities of our StogieGuys.com-selected sampler are still available at Cigar & Pipes. Included are cigars we enjoyed years ago that still remain staples in our humidors. Just $58.49 gets you 10 cigars, well below MSRP, including some high-end smokes from Padrón, Fuente, and Oliva.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Leccia Tobacco

Commentary: The Smoky Calm After the Storm — A Post-Election Dinner with PG Cigars at Morton’s Steakhouse

16 Nov 2016

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National elections are always a big deal in Washington, where politics is the largest “industry.” It is safe to say this latest presidential election, however, was watched with even more interest with emotions stronger than usual on both sides.

In that context, I was particularly excited when I found out about plans for a cigar dinner the night after the election (November 9) organized by Paul Garmirian Cigars, which has its headquarters inside the Beltway in nearby McLean, Virginia. The dinner was fittingly hosted by Morton’s The Steakhouse at the downtown location just blocks from the White House.

The event was the first seated PG dinner hosted in Washington in a decade, which isn’t a coincidence since the city’s smoking ban went into effect in 2007. Fortunately, Morton’s has a covered balcony which, no matter the weather (it can be enclosed and heated), is without a doubt one of the best places in the city to enjoy a cigar with a fine meal.

Fittingly, the dinner was neither a celebration of the previous night’s election results nor a consolation. Except for a handful of walk-ins, most of the nearly 50 guests had made plans to attend long before the election was settled early that morning.

Over four courses of excellent food, drink, and four PG cigars, guests bonded over their shared enjoyment of fine cigars and food. Politics came up, of course, as not discussing the biggest news of the day wasn’t an option. But the conversation was never heated nor angry.

Cigar smokers can attest that when you’re enjoying a cigar at your local cigar shop, you tend to run into a diverse group. In the chair next to you could be a retiree, a lawyer, a college student, a small business owner, etc.

The same dynamic made the PG dinner so enjoyable, especially after an exhausting, seemingly never-ending, highly contentious election. Does this mean cats and dogs are at peace, and Democrats and Republicans now agree on politics?

Hardly. Especially when you consider that as we lit our PG 15th Anniversary Belicoso Extras, protesters were lighting candles a few blocks away as part of their vigil in front of the White House. Still, it does remind you that cigars have the unique ability to create camaraderie that otherwise wouldn’t exist.

As the night wrapped up, the question on everyone’s mind was when would Morton’s and PG hold their next dinner. Hopefully soon. Anytime people can put their politics and agendas aside for an evening and come together over premium cigars, it is worth celebrating.

Patrick S

photo credit: PG Cigars

Cigar Review: Oliva Serie V Lancero

14 Nov 2016

Occasionally I’ll walk into a tobacconist with a few specific cigars in mind and leave with something entirely different. Or maybe I just end up spending way more than I had anticipated. Such was the case recently when I wondered into one of my local shops only to find a representative from Oliva. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take advantage of the special he was offering and reacquaint myself with some old favorites.

lanceroSerie V has been on the market for a long time. Like many of you, I suspect, the blend was a staple in my rotation years ago, only to be slowly displaced by a constant barrage of newer, trendier smokes. There’s nothing like catching up with a long-lost friend, though, so I decided to re-review a cigar I last wrote about way back in September 2012: the Oliva Serie V Lancero.

This blend is intended “to deliver full body taste while maintaining an unparalleled smoothness,” according to the Oliva website. “This flavorful blend exhibits complex tobacco with rich coffee and dark chocolate tones.” The recipe calls for a Habano sun-grown wrapper around a Nicaraguan binder and Ligero filler tobaccos from Jalapa.

I count seven regular-production Serie V vitolas: Belicoso, Churchill, Double Robusto, Double Toro, Special V Figurado, Torpedo, and Lancero. The latter ran me about $8. It measures 7 inches long with a ring gauge of 38 and sports an oily, reddish, smooth wrapper with tight seams. The feel is moderately firm and the foot shows a cross-section of tightly packed tobaccos. After the well-executed cap is clipped, the cold draw is quite smooth—especially for such a thin smoke. The sweet pre-light notes remind me of chocolate, caramel, and hay.

On the palate, the Serie V Lancero is much bolder and considerably less sweet than the pre-light notes would have you believe. This is a medium- to full-bodied cigar with ample nicotine kick. Flavors include leather, espresso, black pepper spice, warm tobacco, earth, and a touch of sweetness. Background tastes include subtle hints of sweet toffee, dry cedar, and some dark chocolate.

As the cigar progresses, the profile doesn’t change much, but the spice and intensity dip towards the midway point, only to ramp back up in the final third. I would call the texture leathery—borderline meaty—with enough complexity to keep things interesting from light to nub.

Construction leaves nothing to be desired. The burn is straight, the ash holds fairly well, the draw is clear, and the smoke production is average.

I am electing to slightly change my rating of the Serie V Lancero (I originally awarded it four stogies out of five). It’s hard to say if the cigar is different four years later, or if my preferences, taste buds, and/or standards have somewhat changed. I harbor this impression that one of Oliva’s hallmarks is consistency, so I’m inclined to think it’s more the latter and less the former. In any event, taking everything into consideration, this time I’ve arrived at a score 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

Quick Smoke: The Oscar Habano Robusto

13 Nov 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.”

theoscar theoscar-leaf

Oscar Valladares Tobacco & Co. burst onto the cigar scene with Leaf by Oscar, which came wrapped in a tobacco leaf instead of cellophane. The Oscar Habano maintains the same unique packaging, this time with a Candela leaf covering the aqua-colored band. The dark Ecuadorian Habano wrapper surrounds Honduran binder and Nicaraguan and Honduran filler. The resulting smoke features oak, bread, cream, pepper, and earth. It reminds me a lot of the original San Cristobal (a cigar I enjoy), but with an added Honduran grittiness and red pepper spice. Even with a price tag of $11, I’m very impressed by The Oscan Habano.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Pistoff Kristoff Corona Gorda

12 Nov 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.”

pistoff

One of the newer lines from Kristoff Cigars, this is a dark, gritty-looking cigar. From the first puff, that theme continues with a rough, dirty taste typical of its Mexican San Andrés wrapper. The Pistoff Kristoff website lists the other ingredients as an Indonesian binder and Nicaraguan filler. Even after getting past the sophomoric name, I couldn’t find much to like. Though, if you’re a San Andrés fan and like stronger cigars, you might want to give it a try. The Corona Gorda (5.75 x 48) lists for $8.70.

Verdict = Sell.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 505

11 Nov 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.

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1) In addition to the three anti-cigar ballot initiatives that were defeated on Election Day, Donald Trump’s win over Hillary Clinton breathed some life into hopes of stifling damaging cigar regulations. Trump’s running mate, Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN), was a co-sponsor of H.R. 1639 to protect the premium cigar industry from FDA regulation when he served in the U.S. House of Representatives. Trump hasn’t yet made a public statement on cigar regulation specifically, though he has called regulatory reform a “cornerstone” of his administration, and has noted he will impose “a temporary moratorium on all new regulation… and a thorough review to identify and eliminate unnecessary regulations that kill jobs and bloat government.” Furthermore, it is widely expected that cigar smoker Rudolph Giuliani (seen above with cigar maker Rocky Patel at Cigar Aficionado’s Big Smoke event in 2013) will assume an influential cabinet positon. According to Cigar Rights of America (CRA): “While it is expected that the new administration will be inundated with affairs regarding assembling a new government and legislative priorities for the opening of the 115th Congress, CRA is pleased to see the commitment that Donald Trump and Mike Pence have already made to regulatory reform. We look forward to working with the administration to address issues concerning regulation and the premium cigar industry.”

2) Officials in Dallas have criminalized smoking in parks starting March 1. Exemptions were carved out for golf courses, a shooting range, and park events (like the State Fair). Fines for offenders could run up to $200, but enforcement is not clear; according to the Dallas Observer, Parks Department Director Willis Winters cited “‘voluntary compliance’ and ‘peer-to-peer enforcement’ as the solutions.”

3) Inside the Industry: Last month, Christian Eiroa’s Tabacaleras Unidas announced it would be taking over distribution of Puros Indios and Cuba Aliados. This week, shipping of the two brands, both created by the late Rolando Reyes Sr., began under the new arrangement.

4) From the Archives: With presidential politics in the spotlight, it is worth revisiting a recent piece we published on Obama’s legacy when it comes to cigars. As the article notes, despite his recent actions on Cuba, “Obama is no friend of cigars” due to his tax increases and, most importantly, the arbitrary and devastating FDA regulation.

5) Deal of the Week: This weekly deal from Smoke Inn features 10 cigars for just $30. Included are cigars that have a combined suggested retail price of over $90. The featured sticks include the Murcielago Nocturne, Ortega Natural No. 10, Joya Red Robusto, Blind Man’s Bluff Magnum, Swag Black Infamous, La Aurora Maduro Preferido No. 3, Vegafina Corona, Prensado Robusto, and Oktoberfest Das Boot.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Wall Street Journal