Archive | June, 2018

Quick Smoke: La Aurora Preferidos Ecuadorian Sungrown Robusto

30 Jun 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 creation from La Aurora sports a gorgeous sun-grown Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper around barrel-aged Dominican and Nicaraguan tobaccos. The result is a well-balanced, bright array of often hard-to-find floral and citrus flavors with background notes oak, cedar, and cinnamon. The well-constructed Robusto (5 x 50) will run you about $10 for a single. I recommend giving it a try.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: UPS Strike Averted, Bombay Tobak MQBA, Yellow Jacket by BLK WKS, and More

29 Jun 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 585th in the series.

1) While you may soon have to pay sales tax on your online cigar purchases, at least it appears you’ll be able to get them. Teamsters are expected to approve an agreement, effective Aug. 1, to keep the brown trucks rolling and add weekend deliveries. UPS and the U.S. Postal Service are the primary cigar delivery operations to consumers. FedEx limits tobacco deliveries to licensed companies.

2) While the annual IPCPR Trade Show always features numerous new releases, some stand out. That’s the case for Bombay Tobak’s MQBA, a regular-production, four-vitola line to be introduced at the Las Vegas event in July. MQBA is the first cigar blended using only tobacco grown on Bombay Tobak’s farm in Ecuador. MSRPs ranges from $12 to $16.60; the boxes will be 24-count. MQBA, by the way, is pronounced em kyoo bha.

3) Random Read: The top ten “BattleBots” videos to watch on YouTube.

4) Inside the Industry: Black Works Studio (BLK WKS) announced the release of Yellow Jacket, handcrafted at the company’s Fabrica Oveja Negra factory in Nicaragua. According to BLK WKS creator James Brown, the cigar “may not be what you expect from a typical Connecticut cigar. The Connecticut wrapper gives an added creaminess and changes up the spice components quite a bit. Yellow Jacket is very complex and balanced.” The cigar uses dual wrappers, Connecticut and Ecuador Maduro, with binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua. Notably, it has a swirl cap and closed foot. The petite corona (4.5 x 46)  comes in 20-count boxes with an MSRP of $10.00 per cigar.

5) From the Archives: Five good bourbons for under $30.

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 exclusive 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 now to be eligible for the July box.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Wikimedia

Cigar Review: Casa Fernandez Aniversario Serie 2014 Ares

27 Jun 2018

Over two years ago, my colleague reviewed the Casa Fernandez Anniversario Corojo 2015. He was underwhelmed, especially by the poor construction. Despite (or in spite of) that, I decided to check out its predecessor, the Casa Fernandez Aniversario Serie 2014 (6.5 x 52), a box-pressed large toro dubbed Ares.

The Anniversario addition to the Casa Fernandez portfolio started in 2013. That year, 20,000 limited edition cigars were made, and Casa Fernandez decided to make the same amount in 2014. (In 2015, the most recent release of the series, two different sizes were released, but total production was limited to under 15,000 cigars.)

The cigar is made from 100% Nicaraguan Aganorsa tobaccos. (For more on the Casa Fernandez-Aganorsa history, see this recent review.) It features a smooth, medium-brown Corojo wrapper dressed in dual bands, plus a custom paper wrap from band to foot.

Unlike my colleague’s experience with the 2014, I found the construction to be flawless on the 2015 edition. The draw was perfect, and the burn and ash were excellent.

The cigar starts out with a velvety mouthfeel that layers bread and roasted notes on top of oak and very slight pepper spice. As it progresses, the medium-bodied smoke features cafe-au-lait and light leather flavors.

The Casa Fernandez Aniversario Serie 2014 retailed for $12.50 per cigar, but a few years later you may be able to find it for far less. (I paid under $50 for a box of 10 on a prominent auction site.) While price isn’t factored into our rating, needless to say, at $50 for a box, it offers far better value than at $125 for ten cigars.

Balance is the word that most comes to mind in this cigar that now has over three years of age. A look around and you’ll find this cigar didn’t get rave reviews when it was introduced, but with time the Casa Fernandez Aniversario Serie 2014 Ares has earned a rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

 

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: La Palina No. 2 Robusto

25 Jun 2018

If you’ve been smoking cigars for a while, lighting up La Palina’s No. 2 might seem like visiting with an old friend. From the first puff, it brings forth the flavors, mouth texture, and feel of maduros before Mexican San Andrés tobacco became the maduro wrapper of choice.

Interestingly, the wrapper on the No. 2 is from Costa Rica, not a more traditional maduro wrapper, such as Connecticut Broadleaf. In fact, the overall blend is a bit unconventional, with a Honduran binder and filler from Nicaragua and Honduras.

The No. 2 (you’ll also see it referred to as the 02) was released along with the No. 1 last year in what has been referred to as La Palina’s Number series. Both stand out from other La Palina brands with bright, colorfully modernist box packaging and bands.

Each comes in four vitolas and both are rolled by Plascencia in Honduras. The No. 2 sizes are Gordo (6 x 58, $11), Toro (6.5 x 54, $10), Robusto (5 x 52, $9.50), and Petit Corona (4.5 x 44, $7.99).

Ever since he brought back his grandfather’s La Palina brand in 2010, Bill Paley has displayed a willingness to experiment. Along the way, he’s produced quite a few memorable cigars.

I smoked three of these dark Robustos. The draw on each was excellent. I would have liked a little more smoke production, though the level wasn’t bad. The only negative was the necessity for an occasional touch-up, not unexpected with such a thick, oily wrapper.

The No. 2 kicked off with a rich taste of espresso and a light spice. Both remained through much of the length of the cigar, moving from forefront to background as other flavors emerged. Those included cocoa, a bit of charred wood, and some tobacco sweetness.

I thoroughly enjoyed this cigar and would recommend it highly, especially to those who have smoked primarily maduros with Mexican wrappers. It’s a different experience.

I believe the La Palina No. 2 is a cigar suited to smokers at any level of experience. I rate it four stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Paul Garmirian Gourmet Series No. 2 (1997)

24 Jun 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.”

There aren’t many places where you can walk in and buy a cigar aged over two decades, but PG’s flagship shop, located in a easily-missed strip mall, has quite a few. This No. 2 (4.75 x 48) was rolled in 1997 and can be bought for $13.75. I didn’t detect the over two decades of age in the first half, which was mild- to medium-bodied with grass, toast, and mineral flavors. The second half was more integrated and complex with leather, hay, sweet cream, and roasted nut notes. Construction was flawless but, truth be told, I’ve enjoyed other aged PG cigars (including a 1995 version of this same cigar) far more.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Dunhill Heritage Robusto

23 Jun 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.”

In 2015, the year of its debut, this box-pressed cigar earned a spot on Cigar Aficionado’s best-of list. It isn’t hard to see why. The Dunhill Heritage Robusto (5 x 50) has excellent combustion properties with a full-bodied, oily profile of roasted peanut, coffee bean, leather, and cinnamon. It sports an Ecuadorian wrapper around a Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and Honduras. While Dunhill—a storied, historic brand owned by British American Tobacco and distributed in the U.S. by General Cigar—is exiting the cigar and pipe business, you can still find this cigar if you keep your eyes open. Expect to pay around $6-7, and expect to be impressed.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Court Ruling Could End Tax-Free Online Sales, Nat Sherman Gets a Facelift, BLTC Announces Sindustry, and More

22 Jun 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 584th in the series.

1) In a 5-4 decision yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court granted states the authority to require online retailers to collect sales taxes—a major shift in policy that could provide a boost to brick-and-mortar cigar retailers and eliminate internet and catalog tax-free shopping options for cigar consumers. “States have said that they are missing out on tens of billions of dollars in annual revenue under a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that helped spur the rise of internet shopping,” reports the New York Times. “On Thursday, the court overruled that ruling, Quill Corporation v. North Dakota, which had said that the Constitution bars states from requiring businesses to collect sales taxes unless they have a substantial connection to the state.”

2) Nat Sherman has unveiled a new strategy for branding and packaging. While the blends themselves will remain unchanged, the New Jersey-based company’s premium cigars will be organized into three categories—Metropolitan, Timeless, and Epoca—and all will receive a facelift. Metropolitan will include the current Metropolitan Connecticut, Maduro, and Habano lines; Timeless (pictured above) will include Prestige (formerly Timeless Dominican), Supreme (formerly Timeless Nicaraguan), Sterling, and Panamericana; and Epoca, an old brand that was reintroduced in 2014, will continue to stand alone. “This realignment of our cigar brands offers a clearer picture of how our collection of products fits together,” said Michael Herklots, vice president of retail and brand development. The new packaging will debut at the 2018 IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas next month.

3) Black Label Trading Company (BLTC) has announced the second annual release of Sindustry, a San Andrés-wrapped cigar made at the company’s Fabrica Oveja Negra factory in Estelí. Three sizes—Robusto, Toro, and Lancero—will sell in the $10-$10.50 range. “This vintage of Sindustry is the perfect balance between strength and flavor,” said BLTC creator James Brown. “Sindustry is one of my personal favorite cigars, and I’m very excited about this release hitting retailers.” BLTC also this week announced Ligero Hawaii, a single-vitola, Pennsylvania Broadleaf-wrapped cigar that will be exclusive to R. Field Wine Co. in Honolulu starting on July 6.

4) Random Read: Bob Dylan has a line of whiskey, and it might actually be pretty good.

5) Inside the Industry: Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust (DTT) formally announced the debut of the long-anticipated Sin Compromiso, a “series of ultra-premium handmade cigars” set to be released in August. According to DTT founder Steve Saka, “Sin Compromiso is the result of over three years of experimental black tobacco harvests in Mexico, Ecuador, and Nicaragua, and the culmination of my experiences as a cigar blender. The marquee’s name translates to ‘no compromise,’ and that is the exact approach I took when creating this cigar.” The line will debut in five sizes: Selección No. 2 Torpedo (6 x 52), Selección No. 5 Parejo (6 x 54), Selección No. 7 Parejo (7 x 56), Selección Intrépido (5.63 x 46), and Selección Espada Estoque (7 x 44). The soft-pressed, sleeved in Spanish cedar cigars will retail in the $15.95-$18.45 range and are packed in 13-count matte lacquered boxes.

6) From the Archives: The FDA is reconsidering its regulation of cigars (more on that soon), which makes this article on studies about the health effects of cigars particularly important.

7) 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 exclusive 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 now to be eligible for the July box.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr / Nat Sherman / Facebook