Archive | November, 2017

Tip: How to Smoke a Cigar Without Embarrassing Yourself

29 Nov 2017

Cigars are first and foremost about relaxation, which is why I hesitate to even write this. There really aren’t many hard and fast rules. That’s one of the best things about cigars: Smoking is ritualistic, but you determine the ritual that suits you best.

Still, I often get asked for tips from friends or acquaintances who rarely, if ever, smoke cigars. Inevitably, they are about to find themselves in a situation where they will be smoking a cigar with a regular cigar smoker they’d like to impress. Perhaps a potential business client, future father-in-law, boss, etc… They aren’t trying to pass themselves off as cigar experts; they just want to relax and not worry about embarrassing themselves.

So, if that situation describes you, or if you’re a more seasoned smoker who gets asked that from time to time, here are a few helpful suggestions to ensure what could be a stressful situation is as enjoyable as it should be.

Select Your Cigar

It may seem obvious, but let your host pick your cigar. If they are leading the charge, let them select a cigar they think you’ll like. Just ask them: What do you recommend?

If you’re tasked with selecting a cigar, my recommendation is stick with the classics, like Arturo Fuente, Ashton, Davidoff, Montecristo, or Macanudo. (If you’ve had one of these before and enjoyed it, stick with what works.) If you’re asked what size you want or which size to buy but are unsure, the robusto is a best-selling size for a good reason and is middle-of-the-road in terms of length and ring gauge.

Pick Your Cut and Light

If someone offers to cut your cigar for you, let them. If you are asked, go with a standard straight guillotine. If you have to cut the cigar yourself, the same straight guillotine cut is the easiest to execute properly. No matter the cigar size, just cut where it is still tapered, as opposed to where it is completely cylindrical. When it comes to lighting, nothing fancy is needed, just remember to light the foot, not the sides.

Don’t Inhale

Smoking without embarrassing yourself is easy as long as you follow one easy rule: Don’t inhale. Cigars aren’t meant to be inhaled (that’s why, health-wise, you are far better off being a regular cigar smoker than a cigarette smoker.) Even if you are a cigarette smoker, don’t inhale because a cigar produces far more smoke than a cigarette. Turning green is the opposite of what you are going for.

Don’t Stub Your Cigar

One way to spot someone who probably doesn’t smoke cigars is that they frequently ash their cigar by forcefully rubbing their ash off on the side of an ashtray. A decently made cigar will hold its ash longer than you think, so wait a little longer then tap the cigar with your finger to gently knock the ash into the ashtray. Similarly, when it comes time to put your cigar out, just put it down in the ashtray, don’t stub it out.

Patrick S

photo credit: Flickr

Cigar Review: Crowned Heads Jericho Hill Jack Brown

27 Nov 2017

The Montecristo Ciudad de Música, a new cigar line produced by Crowned Heads in partnership with Altadis U.S.A., is only the latest example among many instances of Crowned Heads invoking its love of music to help market cigars. At this point, it’s hard to think of the Nashville-based boutique outfit without conjuring images of live rock and artists like Led Zeppelin and Kings of Leon.

Let’s add Johnny Cash. Jericho Hill was “inspired by Cash’s rendition of ‘Cocaine Blues,’ found on Cash’s 1968 live album, At Folsom Prison,” according to the Crowned Heads website. “The song is a tale of a man, Willy Lee, who goes down a dark path brought on by the influence of whiskey and cocaine. Willy is captured in Juarez, Mexico, and is brought to justice by the sheriff from Jericho Hill. Cash was the fourth of seven children, and Jericho Hill marks the fourth regular production release from Crowned Heads.”

There are four original Jericho Hill vitolas, all inspired by lyrics and music from At Folsom Prison: .44S (5.1 x 44), LBV (6.5 x 46), OBS (4.75 x 52), and Willy Lee (6 x 54). All are made at the My Father Cigars factory in Estelí with a Mexican San Andrés wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos.

The lightly box-pressed Jack Brown vitola (5 x 56) was added in 2015 and carries a suggested retail price of about $10. I smoked a handful in this size for this review. Each had a reddish, rustic wrapper with thin veins, plenty of wrinkles, and ample tooth. The cold draw was moderate—perhaps just a tad tight for my liking. The foot exhibits a cross-section of tightly packed tobaccos.

Once lit, faint pre-light notes of sweet cedar and oak transition to a medium-bodied, leathery profile. Individual flavors include leather, molasses, earth, dry wood, and banana bread. After only a quarter of an inch, the draw opens nicely and the smoke production is ample, sweet, and aromatic.

Towards the midway point, there is an increase in spice with tastes of cayenne and both white and black pepper. Leather is still the dominant force, however. The burn line is imperfect but not at all troublesome, and the white ash holds firmly off the foot. The final third can be characterized as medium- to full-bodied with additional bright citrus flavors.

When it was introduced in 2014, Jericho Hill marked a departure in strategy for Crowned Heads. It was the first regular production cigar to be produced at a factory other than E.P. Carrillo’s La Alianza in the Dominican Republic, and it was also the first time the company employed a San Andrés wrapper. The result is a well-balanced, earthy, leathery, well-made cigar. The Jack Brown vitola earns 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: Avo Heritage Short Corona

26 Nov 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.”


Prior to Davidoff’s remake of the Avo brand I picked up a box of the Heritage line in this small Short Corona (3.6 x 43) format. (The size seems to have been a casualty of the brand makeover, but the blend remains the same, albeit with updated packaging and bands.) Heritage features a sun-grown Ecuadorian wrapper, Dominican binder, and a combination of Dominican and Peruvian filler. The medium- to full-bodied cigar is both leathery and woodsy with light spice. It provides a 30-minute jolt of flavor that’s perfect for when you’re short on time.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Perla del Mar G

25 Nov 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.”

Another in J.C. Newman’s production of lower-priced cigars, the four-vitola Perla del Mar line marries an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper with Nicaraguan filler and binder tobaccos. The G is a box-pressed 6.25-inch toro with a ring gauge of 54 and a price tag around $6. A little pepper and a little wood are the primary flavors from start to finish. It’s a fairly one-dimensional smoke, but for those who like a mild Connecticut, it is well worth lighting up, especially for the agreeable price.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Perla del Mar

Happy Thanksgiving!

23 Nov 2017

Thanksgiving will be taking November 23 and 24 off to enjoy that most American of holidays: Thanksgiving. (We will return on Saturday for our regularly scheduled coverage of the world of cigars.) Known for food, family, friends, and football, Thanksgiving is a perfect time to enjoy a fine smoke. Have a safe and happy holiday!

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Cigar Tip: Have a Happy Thanksgiving… with Cigars (2017)

22 Nov 2017

With football on the TV, turkey in your stomach, and family gathered, Thanksgiving is a great day to enjoy a cigar (or several). So as we have every year for the past ten years, today the team tells you what cigars we’ll be firing up after our big meals.

Patrick A: My first post-dinner cigar on Thanksgiving is always one of my favorite smokes of the year. Filled to the brim with turkey and wine and surrounded by family, I’ll grab a mug of strong black coffee and head to my parents’ garage with my father and brother-in-law. This year, the three of us will be smoking the Futuro Selección Suprema (5.6 x 46) from Kyle Gellis’ Warped Cigars. This TABSA-made cigar sports a reddish-brown Nicaraguan Corojo ’99 wrapper, Nicaraguan Criollo ’98 binder, and Nicaraguan Criollo ’98 and Corojo ’99 filler tobaccos. Its rich, balanced, creamy, bready flavors of oak, light spice, and honey will pair well with coffee (and probably also set the stage for a second cigar to pair with bourbon). I can’t wait.

Patrick S: This year I decided to select a Cuban: the Hoyo de Monterey Petit Robusto. While I’m not one to get caught up in the Cuban hype, this Habano hits all the right notes for me: woodsy and spicy, with cream and roasted notes. Also, the cigar’s small format that won’t have me sitting out in the cold too long, since I’m visiting family and smoking indoors won’t be an option (and I’ll want to get back inside to watch the Giants-Redskins game). I brought a few of these back with me (legally) from a trip to Europe this summer, and it should go well with some vintage port that tends to get opened after Thanksgiving dinner.

George E: My plan is to light up a cigar that’s been in my humidor for nearly a year: the Davidoff 2017 Year of the Rooster Diadema. When I reviewed it at the start of the year, I awarded it four and a half stogies out of five, and I’m curious to see whether age adds or subtracts from the experience. I plan to pair it with after-dinner coffee.

Previous cigars the team designated as Thanksgiving smokes include:


Not a bad list, eh? If you’re so inclined, feel free to let us know what you’ll be smoking tomorrow in the comments below. And be sure to have a safe and joyous Thanksgiving.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Cigar Review: Aquitaine Knuckle Dragger

20 Nov 2017

Baby, it’s cold outside. For those of us not lucky enough to be living in a tropical climate in the winter, November—with its diminishing humidity and plummeting temperatures—is a stark reminder that this time of year is not the most accommodating for cigars. It isn’t terribly accommodating for cigar smokers, either. Thanks to government-imposed smoking bans, thousands of decent cigar enthusiasts will be thrust into the cold and out of private restaurants and bars that otherwise would have welcomed them with open arms.

One strategy for beating the winter-time blues is to limit your exposure to the elements by smoking shorter cigars. And if you’re looking to pack a mighty punch into a stout format, one excellent option is the Aquitaine Knuckle Dragger from RoMa Craft Tobac.

By now, RoMa Craft—brought to you by Mike Rosales (the “Ro”) and Skip Martin (the “Ma)—needs no introduction. After all, the operation may be small with limited production, but it’s undoubtedly making some of the world’s best cigars. The lineup includes CroMagnon, Intemperance (EC XVIII and BA XXI), and Aquitaine.

Aquitaine has the same filler blend (Estelí, Condega, and Pueblo Nuevo) and binder (Cameroon) as CroMagnon. But instead of featuring a Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper, Aquitaine has an Ecuadorian Habano Ligero wrapper. “This eighth and ninth priming Ligero leaf is thick, oily, and has amazing texture,” according to RoMa.

The Knuckle Dragger (4 x 52) retails for $6.25 and sports a wrapper that’s rustic, toothy, and oily. It is on the firm side and the pre-light notes remind me of dried apricot and cereals. The nicely executed cap, even when only barely pierced, conceals a smooth cold draw.

Right out of the gate, the flavor is bold with a rich, leathery texture on the palate. Introductory notes include leather, white pepper spice, espresso bean, and a bit of a cayenne heat in the back of the throat. A wonderful sweetness, likely a product of the Cameroon binder, adds a touch of cream to balance the blend.

Towards the midway point, the body ramps up from medium- to full-bodied to full-blown full. There’s a hearty nicotine kick. Notes of roasted cashew join the profile. From there, the flavor remains largely unchanged to the nub, save for an increase in spice and heat down the home stretch. All the while, construction is exquisite. Expect a solid ash, even burn, and good smoke production.

RoMa Craft has built its well-deserved reputation on quality, consistency, and great bang for the buck. The Aquitaine Knuckle Dragger lives up to these virtuous characteristics, and it does so in a winter-friendly format that delivers a ton of flavor in a relatively short time span. In my book, it’s worthy of a rating of four and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys