Archive | August, 2018

Quick Smoke: Bolivar Gold Medal (Cuban)

31 Aug 2018

A couple times each week we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

It’s not too often I get to smoke a cigar that had been in my possession for seven years. But this since-discontinued, lonsdale-sized Bolivar Gold Medal had been resting in one of my humidors since (at least) 2011. It was high-time I fired it up. The result was a bready, medium-bodied profile with notes of graham cracker, cereals, and honey. The draw was smooth, the smoke production average, and the burn wasn’t perfect—but it also didn’t require any touch-ups. I hesitate to compare this to my last experience with a Gold Medal, which was in 2011, since I don’t remember that, and since my tastes have certainly changed. That said, I really enjoyed this aged Cuban and would recommend trying one if you have the chance.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: My Father La Gran Oferta Robusto

29 Aug 2018

Almost like clockwork, the My Father Cigars adds a blend to its namesake line each summer around the annual IPCPR Trade Show. This year’s addition is La Gran Oferta, which translates to “the great offering.”

Made at My Father’s factory in Estelí, Nicaragua, La Gran Oferta employs tobaccos from the company’s Nicaraguan farms along with an oily Ecuadorian Habano Rosado wrapper. While La Gran Oferta may be a new offering, it is inspired by an old cigar brand sold under the same name over a hundred years ago.

Five formats are available: Robusto (5 x 50), Toro (6 x 50), Torpedo (6.1 x 52), Toro Gordo (6 x 56), and Lancero (7.5 x 38). All come in boxes of 20 with individual cigars sold for around $8. I smoked two in the Robusto size, though the inclusion of a Lancero as a regular production vitola is notable.

The firm cigar features an open draw and pre-light notes of wood with a hint of mint. Once lit, it produces loads of smoke and medium- to full-bodied flavors. Construction is flawless, with a sturdy gray ash.

Dominant flavors are toasted bread, rich espresso, and slightly gritty earth. As it evolves, subtle red fruit and citrus notes enter the equation, along with some creaminess. The finish is short with dry, slightly chalky notes.

In comparison to lines My Father Cigars makes for other brand owners, including Pete Johnson’s Tatuaje and Ashton’s San Cristobal, the My Father brand might be a bit overlooked. That’s a mistake. Top to bottom, My Father cigars are excellent, and La Gran Oferta slots in nicely as more full-bodied than the original line, but less so than the Ecuadorian Sumatra-wrapped The Judge or the Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro-wrapped Le Bijou 1922.

Particularly if you are a fan of Ecuadrian Habano-wrapped cigars, this is one to try. With a complex mix of medium- to full-bodied flavors and excellent construction, the My Father La Gran Oferta Robusto earns a rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: CroMagnon Cranium

27 Aug 2018

We’ve been operating since May 2006. As a result, for over twelve years, much of what I’ve smoked has been dictated by necessity for this website. And while I’m sure you won’t shed any tears in my honor (despite being a lot of work, running a cigar site is a rewarding, entertaining endeavor), you can probably appreciate my predicament. Sometimes I just want to smoke—and, yes, write about—an old favorite.

So today I’m reviewing a cigar that most certainly did not debut at the 2018 IPCPR Trade Show. It’s also not new to this website (we previously wrote about it here and here). In fact, there’s no good reason for me to publish this—other than I simply want to, and that I’m secretly hoping to inspire a few readers to pick up a CroMagnon Cranium who maybe haven’t grabbed one in a while.

In the event you’re unfamiliar, the CroMagnon line from RoMa Craft Tobac is handmade in Estelí at the Fabrica de Tabacos NicaSueño S.A. factory. It sports a Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper around a Cameroon binder with Nicaraguan filler tobaccos.

The toro-sized Cranium (6x 54) retails for about $9. It has a dark, reddish exterior leaf with moderate oils, plenty of tooth, and a few large veins. The feel is firm and the foot exhibits a cross-section of tightly packed tobaccos. The pre-light notes remind me of molasses and cocoa power. The rough cap clips cleanly to reveal a moderate cold draw.

Appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes they can be telling. If you were to judge the CroMagnon Cranium based solely on its intimidating looks and menacing presentation, you’d probably expect it to be a full-bodied powder keg. The initial puffs would validate those expectations. The thick, leathery profile is packed with char, black pepper, espresso, and chalky earth.

To write this toro off as a power-bomb, however, would be to overlook the expert blending that so clearly went into the cigar’s creation. There’s a complexity and balance here that’s often missing from many straightforwardly strong cigars. Creamy peanut, dark chocolate, and hickory add layers. And the strength level dips and surges—an effective strategy that ensures interest is not lost.

Along the way, the physical properties are consistent with what I’ve come to expect from RoMa Craft. The white ash holds well off the foot, the burn is straight, the draw is smooth, and the smoke production is above average.

Trying new cigars is important—especially if you write about cigars. But there’s so much out there, and it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. So don’t overlook the tried and true blends that have performed consistently well for years. Your palate, and your wallet, will thank you.

This solid, fairly priced, full-bodied cigar is best enjoyed with a full stomach and a side of brown liquor. I continue to be a fan, and award it a very solid rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Black Label Trading Company Benediction Grand Toro

26 Aug 2018

A couple times each week 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 Nicaraguan puro (6x 60) features a reddish-brown Habano wrapper. It opens with citrus notes, along with coffee, cedar, and damp earth. It’s medium-bodied with little variety from start to finish. Despite excellent construction, I am a little underwhelmed; it’s far from the finest offering from Black Label Trading Company.

Verdict = Sell.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Avo 22 30 Years

24 Aug 2018

A couple times each week we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Visually, this limited edition cigar is stunning: Two predominantly white bands set off the figurado’s honey-brown wrapper, and each canister of 19 is individually tagged. Said to be a revival of the 2002 cigar that was Avo Uvezian’s personal blend, the release is part of the 30th anniversary celebration of the brand’s founding. This cigar features a sun-grown Ecuadorian wrapper, Dominican binder, and four Dominican fillers. The result is a complex, medium-strength experience that builds in intensity along its 5.875 inches. Though it took a few puffs for the draw to fully open as it burned from the small foot to the 50-ring gauge, performance was excellent in all respects. A terrific cigar for $15.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Spirits: Foursquare Principia and Velier 2009 Last Ward Mount Gay Rums

22 Aug 2018

France is known for its wonderful food and wine, and it has both in droves. When I visit France, one of the things I look forward to is, perhaps unexpectedly, finding some excellent rum that would be nearly impossible to find here in the U.S. Today, I review two rums I picked up on a recent visit.

Though France is geographically far from most rum-producing countries, the historic ties between France and its former colonies makes possible a certain a level of access. The result is, if you know where to look, a lot of good rum.

I’ve sung the praises of Foursquare before, and in many ways Foursquare Principia is a follow-up to the highly acclaimed Foursquare Triptych. Principia was distilled in 2008, then spent three years in ex-bourbon casks before being transferred to ex-sherry casks for six years until it was bottled, at barrel-proof, in late 2017.

Principia was bottled and distributed by Velier, which also bottles and distributes The Last Ward 2009, a limited offering featuring some of the final casks distilled at the Mount Gay Distillery under longtime owner Frank Ward. The triple-distilled rum has been aged nine years and is presented at cask-strength.

Foursquare Principia – $130 (62% ABV)
Nose: Oak, candied fruit, and roast almonds
Palate: Salt, pepper, integrated fruits, dates, figs, toffee, and caramel
Finish: Long with stoned fruit, port, and charred oak

Velier 2009 Last Ward Mount Gay – $110 (59% ABV)
Nose: Fresh tropical fruit of pineapple with mango, plus burnt brown sugar
Palate: An initial burst of alcohol heat, followed by apricot, oranges, pineapple, clove, and wood resin
Finish: Funky, almost rubber band-ish, notes with fruit and wood

Both rums are excellent. Despite their significant proofs, they are best enjoyed neat, or with just a few drops of water. The bright tropical flavors featured in Last Ward are like a momentary Caribbean jaunt. Meanwhile, the Sherry cask aging of Principia give it the heft and complexity of a single malt scotch. Both are quite limited with just 5,400 bottles of Principia and 18 barrels worth (after the angel’s share removed 64%) of Last Ward.

Both pair well with a fine cigar. Principia’s wood and sherry heft stands up to a full-bodied cigar like a RoMa Craft CroMagnon, Mi Querida, or Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970. Last Ward’s tropical notes go well with the subtle spice of a Cameroon-wrapper like the La Flor Dominicana Cameroon Cabinet, Partagas Ramon y Ramon, or Arturo Fuente Don Carlos.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Leccia Tobacco Luchador Loco Perfecto

20 Aug 2018

In early 2014, Sam Leccia of Leccia Tobacco announced he was “looking to put the cigar industry in a headlock” with a new blend called Luchador (Spanish for “wrestler”). In keeping with its Mexican wrestler theme, that blend was formally introduced on Cinco de Mayo.

Luchador was the third line to come out of Leccia Tobacco, which also includes White, Black, and Desnudo. It features (as you’d expect) a Mexican San Andrés wrapper around an Ecuadorian Habano binder with filler from Nicaragua, Pennsylvania, and Honduras.

“Centering the blend is a distinctive tobacco from Ometepe, Nicaragua,” reads the Leccia Tobacco website. “Ometepe is an island formed by two volcanoes rising from Lake Nicaragua… Its name derives from the Nahuatl words ome (two) and tepetl (mountain), meaning two mountains. It is the largest volcanic island inside a fresh water lake in the world.”

“I wanted to create something fun, yet different and exciting,” said Leccia in 2014. “With Luchador being a combination of exotic blends and flavors with a Mexican wrapper, I thought it was time to tap into my childhood fascination of Mexican pro wrestling.”

Four regular-production vitolas are available: El Hombre (5 x 54), El Castigo (6 x 60), El Guapo (6 x 50), and Loco Perfecto (6 x 58). Each bears a red, white, and green band (think a Mexican flag) adorned with the image of a Mexican wrestling mask.

A box of Loco Perfectos retails for $180.60 at the Leccia Tobacco store. The cigar I sampled for this review had been in my humidor for four years. It had potent pre-light notes of cocoa, salted caramel, and earth. The pointed cap clipped easily to reveal an impressively smooth draw (especially when you consider the firmness of the cigar).

Given the narrow foot, a single wooden match is all that’s needed to establish an even light. The initial profile is one of black pepper spice, espresso, dark chocolate, and the gritty earthiness that’s so often associated with San Andrés tobacco.

Past the half-inch mark, the core flavors remain the same, but the spice becomes more subdued and a creaminess comes to the fore. From there, as the Loco Perfecto progresses, the profile shifts here and there not because of new flavors, but because the flavors rise and fall relative to one another. The journey concludes with a finale that’s very similar to the beginning.

Notwithstanding its solid construction and consistent combustion properties, the Luchador blend is unlikely to wow. It is enjoyable and serviceable, but falls a little short in terms of complexity or richness if you’re hoping for something memorable. That’s ultimately why I’ve landed the respectable rating of three stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys