Archive | February, 2018

Cigar Review: Cornelius & Anthony Cornelius Lonsdale

28 Feb 2018

Who doesn’t love a lonsdale?

Well, a lot of cigar smokers, I guess, since the long-ish, thin shape has become less and less popular through the years. Its once-prominent place in humidors has declined even more rapidly with the ascendance of large ring gauge smokes.

But the lonsdale remains an elegant and tempting shape.

This recent offering from Cornelius & Anthony keeps the tradition alive and is a welcome addition to the three sizes of the initial line the company introduced a couple of years ago.

The cigars are rolled in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood at the well-known El Titan de Bronze factory. The Cornelius Lonsdale is the traditional 6.5 inches long with a ring gauge of 42.

As with other C&A cigars, it features two bands, with the thinner one identifying it as Cornelius. The MSRP is $13.50. (The lonsdale name, by the way, comes from an English nobleman, the fifth earl of Lonsdale, who reportedly spent as much as £500 a week on cigars.)

The wrapper is an oily light brown Ecuadorian Habano. The binder is also from Ecuador, while the filler is a mix of Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos.

Like its sibling, the Cornelius Lonsdale begins with a pleasant mixture of sweetness and spice. The sweetness recedes as the cigar burns down, and charred wood and cedar move forward. In the final third, a peppery note comes through as well.

The draw, which can sometimes be a concern with thinner cigars, was excellent in both of those I tried. The cigars also produced a great deal of thick, rich smoke and held their ashes tightly.

The Cornelius Lonsdale paired perfectly with black coffee, and I imagine it would complement any number of drinks (except those that are very sweet).

All in all, I found this vitola a bit more complex and balanced than the Toro I smoked earlier. Strength in all of them was squarely in the medium range.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Cornelius Lonsdale and recommend it for almost any smoker. I rate it a strong four stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Debonaire Maduro Sagita

26 Feb 2018

Debonaire first got on my radar about two years ago when Drew Estate announced it had entered an agreement to become the exclusive distributor of Debonaire and (sister brand) Indian Motorcycle cigars. Both are produced in the Dominican Republic for longtime industry veteran Phillip S. Zanghi III and Daniel Sinclair, founder of Durfort Holdings, a manufacturer of pipe tobacco, cut rag, and machine cigars.

Of the partnership, Jonathan Drew had this to say: “Phil Zanghi has been a dear personal friend of mine for two decades. When I permanently moved to Nicaragua in 1998, I wasn’t speaking no fancy languages like Spanish, so Phil helped keep me sane, as we scuttled back and forth between Nica and Honduras. He’s been a psychological and spiritual Drew Estate booster from our beginnings.”

Now Zanghi is a booster for his own portfolio of cigars, bolstered by Drew Estate’s extensive distribution network. “Debonaire is the culmination of 20 years of research and development to produce the finest premium cigar on the market today,” reads the Debonaire website. “We incorporated the finest, darkest, air-cured tobacco from the most superior tobacco crops of Central America and the Dominican Republic… We are highly critical of every aspect of production to ensure an exceptional experience.”

Along with the Connecticut Shade-wrapped Daybreak and Nicaraguan-wrapped Habano, Maduro is one of three lines in Debonaire’s Ultra Premium collection. It sports a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, a San Vicente binder from the Dominican Republic, and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Six vitolas are available, including the petit lancero-sized Sagita (5.5 x 38).

Sagitta is Latin for “arrow”—a fitting name since the size reminds Zanghi “of an arrow and what the arrow represents in an archer’s quiver.” During production, Zanghi elected to drop a “t” as a celebration of how the word was being spelled by his colleagues in the Dominican Republic.

This oily, moderately spongy, incredibly dark cigar is accented by a pigtail cap and an intricate band of gold, black, white, and brown. At the foot, I find pre-light notes of dark chocolate and green raisin. The cap clips cleanly to reveal an airy cold draw.

After an even light is established—a feat that shouldn’t take more than a single wooden match, given the small ring gauge—I am greeted by an introductory profile of black coffee, warm tobacco, sweet cream, and a bit of cherry. Attentive smokers may also find some white pepper and a gentle cayenne heat in the background. As the Sagita progresses towards the midway point, the body transitions from medium to full and the taste shifts toward espresso, roasted cashew, and black pepper spice. The finale is extremely full-bodied with even more black pepper.

In terms of construction, the petit lancero performs well. The burn line is straight, the gray ash holds solidly off the foot, the draw is clear throughout, and the smoke production is about average. Total smoking time is about 60 minutes if you take your time.

I wish more blends came in a petit lanerco size. This is a fantastic format. The smoke is rich and concentrated, and the length ensures a completion before the flavor wears out its welcome.

Expect to pay about $9 for the Debonaire Maduro Sagita, and expect to be satisfied and impressed. In my book, this cigar earns an admirable rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: La Flor Dominicana La Nox

25 Feb 2018

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.”

La-Nox

This 2015 release from La Flor Dominicana features a Brazilian wrapper, Mexican binder, and Dominican fillers. Nox means “night” in Latin, and with a dark wrapper and deep flavors the moniker is fitting. The Toro (6.5 x 50) produces burnt hickory, licorice, and roast nut notes. Some sweetness kicks in towards the final third. La Nox begins full-bodied, though it mellows slightly to a more medium profile. Rich flavors and excellent construction make this easy to recommend.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro Toro

24 Feb 2018

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.”

This Ecuadorian oscuro-wrapped blend from La Palina starts boldly with a strong pepper blast befitting its Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. Though it never goes away, the pepper backs down somewhat after an inch or so as flavors like coffee, leather, and cedar move forward. Introduced in 2016 in three sizes, Nicaragua Oscuro is rolled at A.J. Fernandez’s Nicaraguan factory. I paid about $8 for a single Toro (6 x 50), though you can find them online for just a shade over $5 each in a box of 20. It is a satisfying smoke.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: La Palina

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Virginia Considers Beverage License for Cigar Shops, Green Cigars for St. Patrick’s Day, and More

23 Feb 2018

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 568th in the series.

1) Lawmakers in Virginia have an opportunity to help retail tobacconists by decriminalizing alcoholic beverage sales at cigar shops. HB 1541—which passed the House earlier this month and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services—would create “a new limited mixed beverage license for retail cigar shops” and require “at least 60 percent of the licensee’s annual gross revenue be from the sale of premium tobacco products.” Cigar Rights of America encourages Virginia-based cigar enthusiasts to take action.

2) For the fifth straight year, Alec Bradley will be releasing the Black Market Filthy Hooligan. The limited edition cigar, which is shipping just now, sports dueling wrappers—one candela, the other Nicaraguan Jalapa—over a Sumatra binder and a filler blend of Honduran and Panamanian filler tobaccos. Only 2,000 22-count boxes have been made for a total production run of 44,000. The retail price for the single Toro size (6 x 50) is $8.75. The Filthy Hooligan tradition began as a candela-wrapped version of Alec Bradley’s Black Market line, and his since shifted to a barber pole style release.

3) Not to be outdone in the candela space, Camacho has announced the nationwide launch of the Camacho Candela Robusto, which officially began shipping today. “Built on the chassis of our original Corojo blend,” Camacho Candela, which originally launched in 2007, sports a Criollo Candela wrapper that’s “cured over a charcoal fire.” A single vitola, Robusto (5 x 50), retails for $8. Only 3,000 boxes of 25 will be made, for a total production run of 75,000.

4) To make whiskey (and many other spirits), you need barrels. But what to do with barrels once their job is done? Scotch frequently reuses barrels. Some cigar tobacco is aged in used barrels. And a growing trend in beer is barrel-aged beer. Here’s a list of 25 beers to try.

5) From the Archives: St. Patrick’s Day is only a few weeks away (hence all the green cigars). If you’re looking for our recommendations on candela smokes, here’s a five favorites.

6) Deal of the Week: StogieGuys.com recommends Bespoke Post, a monthly collection of awesome items (think fine bar accessories, shaving kits, workout gear, and more) delivered for just $45. Of note is the Churchill box, which features four cigars, an ashtray made of reclaimed wood, an odor-eating candle, cedar spills, and a cutter. Once you are signed up, there is no obligation; you can skip or purchase each month. Sign up here in the next five days to be eligible for the March box.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr / Alec Bradley

Cigar Spirits: Isaac Bowman Bourbon Finished in Port Barrels

21 Feb 2018

In November. the A. Smith Bowman Distillery announced a new addition to its Bowman series of bourbon whiskey: Issac Bowman, a straight bourbon whiskey finished port barrels. The Virginia distillery traces its roots to before prohibition, and relocated from Fairfax County (now a suburb of Washington) to Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Today, it is owned by Sazerac, which owns Kentucky’s famous Buffalo Trace Distillery, home to some of the biggest names in bourbon today: Pappy Van Winkle, George T. Stagg, Weller, Eagle Rare, and Blanton’s. Although details are limited, it is believed that most of the Bowman bourbons were distilled at the Buffalo Trace distillery, shipped to Bowman for additional distillation, then aged in Virginia.

The Bowman line is named after the Bowman brothers, who fought in the Revolutionary War: Bowman Brothers Small Batch Bourbon, John Bowman Single Barrel Bourbon, and Abraham Bowman Limited Edition Bourbons. There’s also a George Bowman Revolutionary Rum, named after their father. While youngest brother Isaac had been left out, the popularity of multiple Abraham Bowman limited edition bourbons finished in port barrels inspired the new permanent addition to the line.

While the Abraham Bowman Port Finish bourbons which were aged for over 12 years, the new Issaac Bowman line is reportedly aged for about half as long. The bourbon is copper in color with short legs.

The 92-proof bourbon features a sharp nose of cherry, vanilla, and wine tannin. On the palate, I find a combination of toasted grains, fresh cut oak, cherry cola, and caramel. The finish has roasted flavors and notes of red wine aged in french oak.

Those flavors pair well with an Ecuadorian Habano-wrapped cigar. Some favorites include: Tatuaje Havana VI Verocu, Sobermesa, Illusione Garagiste, and My Father.

One benefit of living in Virginia is the state-run liquor stores carry Bowman bourbons that would otherwise be harder to find. The new Issaac Bowman port-finished ($40) was released first to Virginia, but is expected to roll out to other states soon.

I slightly prefer Angel’s Envy Bourbon ($50) to Isaac Bowman, but fans of Angel’s Envy should try this bourbon, too. Both prominently display the flavors imparted by finishing the bourbon in port barrels, though Angel’s Envy is more balanced while Isaac Bowman is more forward and brash. Neither is as excellent as the limited release Abraham Bowman Port Finish (pictured right) but, of course, that sold out years ago and is nearly impossible to find.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Villiger La Vencedora Toro

19 Feb 2018

A month ago, Villiger announced its first full-bodied cigar. La Vencedora, Spanish for “the victor,” is a Nicaraguan puro made at Joya de Nicaragua. The line is intended as a “follow-up blend” to the Ecuadorian-wrapped La Flor de Ynclan, which debuted last year.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to use our 130 years of experience to create what I feel is a very special cigar in the Villiger La Vencedora,” said Heinrich Villiger, chairman of the Switzerland-based company. Rene Castañeda, president of Villiger Cigars North America, added, “La Vencedora is a palate-pleasing, full-bodied, yet elegant cigar, that will satisfy the cigar connoisseur as well as the casual smoker.”

The introduction of a truly full-bodied cigar is the latest in a series of moves made by Villiger to step up its premium cigar game. For quite some time, Villiger had been known almost exclusively as a purveyor of machine-made cigars. In recent years, though, Villiger has introduced several premium handmade cigar lines, including La Flor de Ynclan, 1888, San’Doro, and, now, La Vencedora. (Quick side note: Three cheers to Villiger for maintaining a clean, updated, easy-to-navigate website to help consumers learn about its blends—a no-brainer that’s unfortunately all too uncommon among cigar makers.)

The three La Vencedora vitolas retail in the $9-10 range: Robusto (5 x 50), Churchill (7 x 50), and Toro (6 x 50). The latter is the subject of today’s review. Beneath its metallic band of silver, black, and red is a dark, moderately oily Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro wrapper. The foot exhibits pre-light notes of black cherry and mesquite. Once the well-executed cap is clipped, I find, despite the Toro’s relative firmness, an easy cold draw.

After setting an even light, a rich, medium-bodied profile introduces itself with flavors ranging from espresso and dried fruit to black pepper and cinnamon. Shortly thereafter, the body ramps up to full, and all of the individual notes—especially espresso—increase in intensity. The midway point is characterized by less spice and more cream, as well as the welcome additions of brown sugar, roasted pecans, and vanilla. The texture is bready. The finale is a heavy dose of spice.

True to Joya de Nicaragua form, the combustion properties are outstanding. Expect an even burn, solid gray ash, smooth draw, and good smoke production.

La Vencedora “represents to Heinrich Villiger the arrival of Villiger Cigars to the premium handmade cigar segment.” To him, it is a “legacy cigar.” To me, it’s the most impressive, complex, encompassing smoke Villiger has produced to date, and it earns four and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys