Archive | March, 2017

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Lawmakers Target Military Tobacco Use, States Seek to Raise Minimum Age, and More

31 Mar 2017

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post our sampling of cigar news and other items of interest from the week. Below is our latest, which is the 524th in the series.

Veterans Affairs Seal

1) Lawmakers have set their sights on tobacco use in the military. “Legislators held hearings Wednesday on the issue, with Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin lashing out at the Pentagon for not working hard enough to curb tobacco use among young servicemembers,” reports The Daily Caller. “On the House side, members of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs directed their attention to legislation that would target veterans, instead of the usual practice of slapping the Pentagon’s hand regarding tobacco consumption. This new legislation, forwarded by Republican Rep. Brad Wenstrup, would ban smoking inside any VA health facility. Additionally, the bill would ban outdoor smoking at VA medical centers by 2022.”

2) Famous Smoke Shop yesterday announced the debut of a new Cigar Smokers’ Rights Hub. According to a press release, the hub “presents cigar enthusiasts with a history of legal actions affecting the tobacco industry… and offers cigar smokers a detailed understanding of how FDA’s new regulations will negatively impact the premium cigar industry, and the legal challenges that have been mounted against the agency’s sweeping new rules.”

3) According to an article published by Cigar Aficionado on Wednesday, 24 states have “introduced some form of legislation this year that seeks to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21 years old. Currently, only Hawaii and California have enacted such laws, but the sheer amount of proposed legislation is an indication that more states could soon follow suit… The states where active legislation is threatening an age hike to 21 years old include Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington and West Virginia.”

4) Inside the Industry: Perhaps no cigar company has more offerings than General Cigar, which boasts a portfolio of about 5,000 SKUs and 300 blends. According to reports, around fifty of those are being discontinued this year. One notable cut is the elimination of the entire Charlie Toraño Captiva blend.

5) From the Archives: A great cigar shop is like an old friend. Here are some of the attributes that create a standout.

6) Deal of the Week: Tatuaje fans may be interested in this Tatuaje five-pack. The sampler features five classic Tatuaje blends (Red Label, Black Label, Cabaiguan, La Riqueza, and Tattoo) all in a size that’s not regular production (5.5 x 55). Buy two, or simply add another $30 in product to your purchase, and you can add coupon code “StogieDeal” to land a free triple-flame table lighter.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs

Cigar Review: CAO Consigliere Associate

29 Mar 2017

CAO-consigliere- - 1

When The Sopranos debuted on HBO in 1999, the series ushered in a new era of television, one where the most exciting and edgy viewing wasn’t available from the networks or even in the theater, but on cable, especially premium channels (and, later, on streaming services). By 2006, when its sixth and final season began, The Sopranos was a cultural icon, complete with its own licensed cigar.

CAOconsigliere - 1If you watched The Sopranos, you probably noticed how frequently Tony lights up a cigar: in his car (in the opening credits), by the pool, at the Bing, at Vesuvio, outside Satriale’s Pork Store, and on and on. With that as the backdrop, CAO partnered with the show in 2005 to create the CAO The Sopranos Edition line of cigars.

The line featured three sizes: Associate (5 x 52), Soldier (6 x 54), and a belicoso called Boss (7 x 56). Later, a Tony Soprano Signature (6.5 x 60) was added. All were packaged in boxes that looked like the trunk of of an old Cadillac. For what it’s worth, I thought this presentation was extremely unique and creative.

In 2013, six years after the show finale, CAO (now under the STG/General Cigar umbrella) announced CAO Sopranos was being discontinued. But that wasn’t to be the blend’s final act. Last year, the cigar was resurrected as Consigliere. The primary band remained the same, but the red trunk-style box and Sopranos-branded secondary foot band now sleep with the fishes.

The blend, however, remains unchanged with a Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper and Honduran binder around filler from Nicaragua, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic. The three original sizes and names all returned, with prices slashed almost in half (presumably, some of the savings came from no longer having to pay a licensing fee to The Sopranos and/or HBO).

I smoked three of the robusto-sized Associates for this review. Out of the gate, each is dominated by heavy leather notes along with charred oak and light pepper. Bread and rich espresso notes have an extended cameo. The full-bodied smokes featured excellent construction. The flavors don’t change much until the end where the spice and leather ramps up even more, joined by a savory meatiness.

I never smoked the original CAO Sopranos much, perhaps because for $10+ the line was in some pretty elite company price-wise at the time. With the Associate selling for $7 now, it is definitely worth another look.

I often find cigars that were full-bodied a decade ago seem more medium-bodied today. That isn’t the case with this blend, which remains a heavy, leathery (if not exactly balanced) smoke. It’s enough to earn the CAO Consigliere Associate a rating of three and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: E.P. Carrillo Original Rebel Maverick 52

27 Mar 2017

Original Rebel

In March 2009, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo ended his nine-year tenure with General Cigar. The move effectively made the Artesanos de Miami his last blend with La Gloria Cubana, the brand he built from relative obscurity to industry prominence.

Original Rebel MaverickPerez-Carrillo parted ways with General to establish his own family-owned boutique. He wasted no time in that endeavor. With a factory in Santiago and a work-in-progress website, the EPC Cigar Co. was up and running in time to debut its first blend at the IPCPR Trade Show that August.

Few in the industry doubted he would be successful in his new venture. That Perez-Carrillo has done well on his own is no surprise to anyone. One industry insider described him to as the tobacco world’s “mad genius.” Alan Rubin of Alec Bradley is said to have bestowed Perez-Carrillo with another fitting title: “the original rebel.”

Perez-Carrillo evidently appreciated the compliment. Last summer, he debuted a new blend called Original Rebel Maverick (as well as a Broadleaf maduro-wrapped companion line called Original Rebel Rebellious). It sports a pigtail cap, a closed foot, and an oily, clean, medium-brown Ecuadorian wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. Three Maverick sizes are available. I recently sampled several in the “52” format (5.5 x 52), a robusto extra that retails for about $9.

Once lit, pre-light notes of sweet hay and dried fruit transition into a toasty introductory profile of oak, butter, and dry cedar spice. Intermittently, those flavors are accented by a delicious taste that I can only describe as a combination of salted caramel and sweet cream. The effect is one of balance and complexity. I find few changes in flavor or strength from light to nub. At times, notes of leather and some black pepper spice waft in and out, but that’s about it. I don’t consider the consistency in taste a defect, mind you, since the billowy, medium-bodied smoke is satisfying and harmonious.

As for construction, the draw is virtually effortless throughout, and the smoke production is above average—a welcome trait since the resting smoke is sweet and aromatic. The ash holds well off the foot. The burn is imperfect though not troublesome; a torch touch-up is necessary here and there to keep the burn line even.

If the E.P. Carrillo Original Rebel Maverick blend has thus far flown under your radar, I would suggest springing for a single to take it for a test drive. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself buying a box of ten shortly thereafter. In my book, this fine cigar is worthy of an admirable rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Perdomo Double Aged 12 Year Vintage Maduro Robusto

26 Mar 2017

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.”

perdomo-12-maduro - 1

This limited offering from Perdomo features a dark Nicaraguan wrapper along with Nicaraguan filler comprised of Seco from Condega, Viso from Jalapa, and Ligero from Estelí (those details are helpfully written right on the band). The cigar is made with 10-year-old tobaccos, after which the finished cigar is aged for two more years in charred oak barrels. Pre-light, there is an inviting aroma full of rum and raisins. Once lit, the core flavors are dark, rich, and earthy with a very slight sweetness and black coffee notes. Classic maduro in taste; not at all harsh or spicy. Considering this cigar takes over a decade to produce, the $10 price tag is almost remarkably inexpensive.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Smoking Ban Costs Casino Millions, Davidoff Announces Chefs Edition, New Cohiba Siglo, and More

24 Mar 2017

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post our sampling of cigar news and other items of interest from the week. Below is our latest, which is the 523rd in the series.

Harrahs Casino New Orleans

1) According to Caesar’s Entertainment officials, Harrah’s Casino & Hotel in downtown New Orleans—once a favorite hangout among IPCPR Trade Show attendees when the convention is held in The Big Easy—lost approximately $70 million in revenue in the two years following the city’s smoking ban, which took effect April 2015. As reported by the Times-Picayune: “Caesar’s Entertainment president and CEO Mark Frissora said… the ban makes it difficult to compete with venues in the surrounding area, because it only affects Orleans Parish. ‘It’s not fair because everyone else around us doesn’t have the smoking ban,’ Frissora argued. Caesar’s Entertainment president for the south region of the U.S., Dan Real, said the company’s first quarter in 2015 was its best in that property’s history, just before they were ‘hit’ by the ban.” The officials were reporting to the Riverboat Economic Development and Gaming Task Force on Tuesday. “The Northwest Louisiana and New Orleans locations have collectively contributed $2.3 billion to the state in gaming tax revenues. Those two locations also have contributed $52.3 million in other state and local tax fees and $344.5 million in salaries and wages between 2013 and 2016, according to the presentation given by the Caesar’s representatives.”

2) Davidoff has teamed up with six international chefs to create a new cigar line called Limited Chefs Edition, which will be available in April. “The Davidoff Chefs Edition is the equivalent to a culinary masterpiece,” reads a Davidoff press release. “Just like the perfect meal, it begins gently with complex layers of subtle flavors and builds up to a sublime and unforgettable crescendo.” The cigar will be presented in a Toro format with a Habano 2000 wrapper and an Ecuadorian Connecticut binder. The filler is a combination of San Vicente Mejorado Seco, San Vicente Mejorado Visus, Piloto Visus, and San Vicente Visus. Only 3,000 boxes will be made.

3) Medio Siglo—the first new Cohiba since the Siglo VI was introduced in 2002—is now widely available (though the cigar was actually introduced at last year’s Habanos Festival in Cuba). The cigar measures 4 inches long with a ring gauge of 52. Cigar Aficionado reports “it’s probably the most expensive regular-production petit robusto you’re going to find” since Medio Siglo is expected to retail for $14 in Cuba and about $33 in London.

4) Inside the Industry: Also new from Davidoff is a cigar exclusive to Famous Smoke Shop to celebrate the company’s 75th year in the business. The Davidoff Famous 75th Anniversary Cigar is one of several special editions made for Famous to commemorate this milestone. (Romeo y Julieta and Padrón have already announced, and others in the works). The toro (6 x 50) comes in boxes of 10, with cigars retailing for $22 each. Only 500 boxes were made. The blend includes filler from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua surrounded by a Mexican San Andrés Negro binder and an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper.

5) From the Archives: What is meant by Cigar Texture? It’s not flavor, but you’ll notice it on your palate. Find out here.

6) Deal of the Week: Today only, here are 100 deals that include free shipping. Notable picks include the Drew Estate Sampler, Oliva Serie V, Mi Querida, HR Habano 2000, and Tatuaje Tatoo. Plus, at checkout, add promo code “APPRECIATE20” and you’ll save $20 off orders of $100 or more.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: New Orleans Online

Cigar Review: Cornelius & Anthony Meridian Robusto

22 Mar 2017

MerdianWhile you may have encountered the Cornelius & Anthony Meridian in the past, don’t confuse it with this cigar. That’s because the company scrapped the original iteration that debuted in 2015 and replaced it with something new while keeping the name.

That something is a medium-strength smoke with an Ecuadorian wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder, and filler tobaccos from both Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. They’re rolled at Erik Espinoza’s La Zona Factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

For this review, I smoked the Robusto, a 5-inch stick with a ring gauge of 52 and a $9.25 MSRP. The line also features a Gordo (6 x 60), Toro (6 x 50), and Corona Gorda (5.5 x 46). All come in 20-count boxes illustrated in the bygone art style that’s become something of a Cornelius & Anthony trademark. Another familiar touch is the use of a secondary band with the cigar’s name.

The Meridian starts with quite a bit of power that tapers off after about a half-inch, maintaining a medium strength level for the remainder of the experience. The finish is pleasing and lingers a little before dissipating.

My first taste impression is of rich wood mixed with a little tobacco sweetness. A pleasant combination. As the strength wanes as a moderate spice enters the mix. From start to finish, the flavors weave in and out of each other, making for an interesting journey.

Combustion performance was excellent in all of those I sampled. Lots of smoke, straight burn, and an excellent draw.

I’ve enjoyed quite a few Cornelius & Anthony cigars, and the new Meridian is no exception. It’s a cigar I think will appeal to almost all smokers regardless of their level of experience. I rate the Cornelius & Anthony Meridian Robusto four stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Commentary: Take Time to Smoke, Take Time While Smoking

20 Mar 2017

Cigar Watch Time

It’s incredibly cliché but, let’s face it, there just aren’t enough hours in a day—especially if you’re a cigar enthusiast. Between work, commutes, kids, errands, three square meals, taxes, and all the other responsibilities us grown-ups shoulder, how exactly is a human supposed to set aside an hour (more reasonably, 90 minutes) to enjoy some premium tobacco?

The older I get, the harder it gets to find the time. Not only do the days, weeks, months, and years seem to get shorter, but there’s just so much more going on in my life. My job is more demanding. I travel more frequently. And, most importantly, I’m now responsible for the upbringing of two small people I helped make. I would imagine many of you can relate to this (albeit blessed) conundrum.

But we must find the time. We must smoke cigars, even if it means waking up 90 minutes earlier and/or staying up 90 minutes later. We must overcome obstacles like temperature, smoking bans, and—the hardest hurdle of all—the finite number of minutes in each day.

I need my regularly scheduled cigar. Not because I’m addicted to the leaf (unlike cigarettes, I don’t know one cigar smoker who has a physiological dependency on cigars), but because I need to unwind. I need some quiet moments when I can kick my feet up and relish in the aromas, flavors, sights, and sounds of an impeccably made cigar.

I notice many people choose to pair up cigar smoking with another activity, be it golf, driving, walking, or whatever. Some are probably just trying to cram a cigar or two into their busy schedules; others might proactively prefer to not make the cigar the centerpiece of any given experience. Personally, I’ve always found the best way to get the most out of a cigar is to put the rest of the world on hold and just sit down and smoke. Finding the time to do so is the tricky part.

Speaking of time, be sure to take your time while you smoke. Smoke slowly. Cigar enjoyment is not a race, and there’s no prize for finishing first.

Besides, in order to “cook” the tobacco at the right temperature, you should try to limit your puffs to a reasonable pace. When you puff you’re caramelizing the sugars in the tobacco to bring out the flavors. If you puff too often, the temperature will rise, the tobacco will cook too fast, and the smoke may get hot and harsh.

I find this is especially true with full-bodied smokes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone sucking down a ligero-laden cigar like it’s going out of style. I can’t imagine that’s enjoyable. Most things, cigar smoking included, aren’t nearly as pleasant if rushed.

My advice? Carve out some time to smoke a fine cigar and, when you do, make the most of the experience by taking your time.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys