Archive | December, 2017

StogieGuys.com’s Top Cigars of 2017 (Part II)

28 Dec 2017

As always, the StogieGuys.com list of the absolute best cigars we smoked throughout the year is small: just four. That is, though, the same as in 2016. In fact, through the years, the number of five-stogie cigars has been relatively consistent.

Another constant in our five-stogie ratings is diversity. This year’s list, for example, features the debut of MBombay, a stellar line of cigars rolled in Costa Rica for Californian Mel Shah’s Bombay Tobak, and Cornelius & Anthony, a firm with longstanding ties to the tobacco business but is relatively new to premium cigars.

On the other hand, you’ll spot the familiar name Tatuaje. This marks its 10th five-stogie cigar, quite a few more than any other brand.

In order to achieve a five-stogie rating, a cigar must be better than good. As we note in the explanation of our rating system, a five-stogie cigar is “tasty, complex” and “truly an occasion.”

Here’s a chronological look at this year’s top-rated cigars:

MBombay Gaaja Maduro TorpedoWhile this is the first cigar from MBombay to score five stogies, it is not the first to be rated highly. Two others got four stogies and one received four and a half. The Gaaja Maduro was introduced early in 2017 and made a strong impression. Our review called it “delicious,” “harmonious,” “well-balanced,” and “up there with the finest.” It also urged readers not to be put off by the $15.50 MSRP: “This is one not to miss.”

Tatuaje Reserva Broadleaf Collection Havana Cazadores: When Tatuaje’s Pete Johnson introduced a 100-cigar collection rolled in Miami with a price tag of $1,200, the brand’s devotees were captivated. One of the distinguishing features of these cigars over similar earlier releases was the use of a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper rather than an Ecuadorian. The review found this lonsdale-sized smoke featured “tempered strength that walks the fine line between balance and full flavor.” It also called it “a perfectly constructed combination of full Nicaraguan flavors with the restrained richness that Connecticut Broadleaf provides.”

Cornelius & Anthony Aerial Robusto: In just a few years, Cornelius & Anthony has created an impressive line of cigars. The Aerial—rolled at Erik Espinosa’s La Zona factory in Nicaragua—has a creative combination of an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper with Nicaraguan filler and an unnamed U.S. binder. The Robusto has a $9.25 MSRP. As the review noted, “…the first few puffs are bursting with spice and a strong finish. By the start of the second third, the spice has backed off and tobacco sweetness moves to the fore. In the final third, the spice amps up again, mingling with leather and a light earthiness.”

Muestra de Saka Nacatamale: Since reentering the cigar business in 2015, Steve Saka, with his Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust, has knocked ‘em out of the park like Aaron Judge: a five-stogie rating in 2015 followed by numerous four-and-a-half rated smokes. This year’s entry comes packed in a wooden coffin with an MSRP of $15.95. “What makes Nacatamale so outstanding—and, yes, it is absolutely outstanding—is not any individual flavor,” said our review. “This cigar is a great example of how the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.”

You can find all 58 five-stogie rated cigars with reviews dating back more than a decade here.

Here’s to many more wonderful cigars in 2018!

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

StogieGuys.com’s Top Cigars of 2017 (Part I)

26 Dec 2017

It’s time for the annual StogieGuys.com roundup of the best cigars we reviewed throughout the past 12 months.

As it is every year, the number of cigars that achieved the coveted five-stogie rating is small: only four in 2017. That’s fitting because the top StogieGuys.com rating signifies the cigars are “tasty, complex” and are “truly an occasion” to smoke. The total also dovetails neatly with the results in recent years. In 2016, for instance, there were also four top-rated smokes, while six made it in 2015 and 2014, and only two in 2013.

On the other hand, many more of 2017’s cigars were close to the top. I counted 22 four-stogie cigars and 16 four-and-a-half-stogie cigars. Again, while the numbers go up and down annually, that’s not far off from previous years. Today we’ll take an alphabetical look at our four-and-a-half stogie candidates with a quote from each review. Later this week, we’ll follow up with the five-stogie rated cigars of 2017.

Aquitaine Knuckle Dragger: “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…”

Davidoff 702 Series 2000: “With a perfect draw, solid ash, and even burn, the cigar delivers wonderful medium-bodied flavors from start to finish.”

Davidoff Nicaragua Box Pressed Robusto: “Without question, Davidoff’s first box-pressed line is a winner.”

Davidoff Year of the Rooster Limited Edition: “…the Rooster is incredibly smooth, balanced, and easy to smoke.”

El Galan Dona Nieves Negra Macho: “This is a flavorful, complex, well-made, balanced smoke at a very fair price.”

E.P. Carrillo Elencos Don Rubino: “After an even light is established, the profile is incredibly full-bodied right from the get-go. The bold, spicy flavors include espresso, black pepper, cayenne heat, and dark cherry.”

Illusione Singulare Phantom (Regular Production): “The new Illusione Phantom is a complex and balanced smoke…”

Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Limited Edition 2017: “Fans of Connecticut Broadleaf cigars will want to seek this one out, even if the price means it will probably be only an occasional indulgence.”

Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 Churchill: “… undoubtedly full-bodied, strong, and spicy. But to write it off as a mere heavy-handed powerbomb would be to miss the excellent, balanced flavors that comprise the profile.”

Las Calaveras Edición Limitada 2015 LC50: “The overall impression is one of a well-balanced, medium-bodied, spice-forward smoke with some Cubanesque, old-school personality.”

L’Atelier Imports La Mission 1999: “…La Mission 1999 may be the best L’Atelier to date. I would even encourage those who are typically put off by San Andrés (I know you’re out there) to give this standout specimen a try.”

Padrón Serie 1964 Prototype Maduro (Smoke Inn Exclusive): “I don’t think I’m going to surprise anyone when I say the Padrón Serie 1964 Prototype Maduro is a terrific smoke. It’s a compact, concentrated iteration of a blend we all know and love that delivers exactly as expected.”

Padrón Serie 1964 Prototype Natural (Smoke Inn Exclusive): “Once lit, nutty, creamy pre-light notes transition to a complex, well-balanced profile of oak, almond, sharp cedar spice, and vanilla. Background notes of powdery cocoa and cream help add balance.”

Sobremesa Elegante en Cedros: “Flavors include cocoa, cedar, café au lait, baking spices, creamy caramel, and white pepper. Balanced, harmonious, and delicious.”

Tatuaje Black Petit Lancero: “This classic-tasting, medium-bodied cigar scores very well due to its ample complexity and harmonious balance.”

Tatuaje Reserva Broadleaf Collection Especiales (Laguito No. 2): “All told, this is a wonderful, balanced, satisfying cigar that commands your attention from light to nub.”

You can read about the StogieGuys.com rating system here, find all of our reviews here, and see a curated list of five-stogie smokes here.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Best Wishes for a Merry Christmas!

25 Dec 2017

christmas-2014

From all of us at StogieGuys.com, we want to wish you and yours a joyous, safe, and cigar-filled Christmas. We’re taking today off to spend time with our families, but we’ll be right back here tomorrow with more reviews, news, interviews, commentaries, and tips from the world of cigars.

Until then, you can follow us on our official Twitter feed, on Instagram, and on Facebook, or you can sign up for our free email newsletter.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Quick Smoke: Casa Fernandez Miami Reserva Robusto

24 Dec 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.”

 CasaFernandezMiamiReserva

Casa Fernandez makes some under-rated cigars and lately I’ve been feeling that this Miami-made robusto is one of them. The 5.25 inch by 52 RG Nicaraguan puro utilizes a Medio Tiempo Ligero wrapper and if you shop around you can find a box of 15 for around $75. The features medium-bodied flavors with bread, light spice, coffee and hints of citrus. With excellent balance, pleasant flavor, solid construction and a fair price it is a must-try for fans of Nicaraguan smokes.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Crux Classic Toro Marblehead

23 Dec 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.”

Crux Cigars has rolled out another winner. This Toro (6 x 52) is a medium-strength, flavorful smoke that is, by turns, surprising and satisfying. For instance, you might expect that as a Nicaraguan puro, there’d be a lot of spice. There is spice, but it’s more often a background note than a dominant chord. StogieGuys.com has rated several Crux cigars highly, and this is another one not to miss, especially at a price tag of around $7.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Crux Cigar Co.

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Remembering the Patriarch of Oliva Cigar, Sen. Lindsay Graham Commits to Protecting Premium Cigars, and More

22 Dec 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 560th in the series.

1) Surrounded by family in Miami, the patriarch of Oliva Cigar, Gilberto Oliva Sr., passed away on Saturday. He was 86. Oliva was born into a tobacco-growing family in Cuba and married there before fleeing the island in his early thirties to escape the Cuban Revolution. He lived in Spain, Nicaragua, and New Jersey before settling in Florida. His first cigar—called Gilberto Oliva—debuted in 1995 and was made by the Plasencias. Shortly thereafter, he launched his own factory in Nicaragua and shortened the brand name to Oliva. Gilberto is succeeded by his wife, five children (including future Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva), and fourteen grandchildren. In 2016, the Oliva family sold Oliva Cigar to a Belgian cigar maker, J. Cortès, for an undisclosed price.

2) U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) has signed on as a co-sponsor to S. 294, a bill that would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to exempt premium cigars from harmful FDA regulations. He is the 19th senator to do so. “CRA and the entire premium cigar industry would like to thank Senator Graham for standing with the consumers and small businesses of the premium cigar industry,” reads an email update from Cigar Rights of America. A companion bill in the House of Representatives, H.R. 564, currently has 139 co-sponsors, according to Congress.gov.

3) Lists like this one are frequently full of over-hyped offerings, but this gift guide actually has some pretty good suggestions: 15 bottles that make perfect gifts for whiskey lovers.

4) Inside the Industry: This week CigarAficionado released its top ten cigars of 2017. Number one is the extremely hard-to-find Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Eye of the Shark. Retailers (who usually report a boost in sales for the top selection) are already grumbling about such a limited production cigar being chosen.

5) From the Archives: Next week we’ll release our top cigars of 2017. While you wait, check out our 2016 list: part one and part two.

6) Deal of the Week: StogieGuys.com recommends Bespoke Post, a monthly collection of awesome items (think fine bar accessories, hot sauce kits, wine, workout gear, exclusive cigars, and more) delivered for just $45. Once you are signed up there is no obligation; you can skip or purchase every month. Sign up here to be eligible for the January box; including the “Churchill” box that features four cigars, an ashtray made of reclaimed wood, an odor-eating candle, cedar spills, and a cutter.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Oliva Cigar

Cigar Tip: StogieGuys.com’s Guide to the Holidays

20 Dec 2017

gift

The holidays can be hectic and stressful. But StogieGuys.com is here to help. Over the past decade plus, we’ve written plenty of articles that can help you survive (and thrive) during this time of year.

We’ve scanned our archives to bring you our best holiday-related tips and suggestions:

Been procrastinating and need a last-minute gift? We’ve got suggestions. Cigars (obviously) can be a great gift, and here’s how to avoid the pitfalls of cigar gift-giving. (We also covered some dad-specific gifts here.)

Booze also makes a great gift. Our extensive archive of spirits reviews (all of which also include cigar pairing suggestions) is full of excellent suggestions. Also, check out our bourbon gift-giving guide and our A-Z Bourbon Guide.

Depending on where you are, it can be very cold this time of year, which provides many challenges. Here are some tips for surviving the cold (and here are some additional suggestions).

Looking for new cigar suggestions? The end of of the year is a good time to see if there is a cigar you missed from the past year that you should have tried.

When you’re celebrating New Year Eve, here’s how to pair champagne with a cigar. And if you’re thinking about which cigar to smoke, consider it might finally be time to light up that special cigar.

Finally, looking for resolution for 2018? Take cigar inventory. Maybe watch your cigar budget. Run a marathon, if you want. But whatever you do, don’t quit smoking cigars.

Here’s to a safe, cigar-filled holiday season.

Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr