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Quick Smoke: Plascencia Alma del Campo Guajiro

21 Jun 2019

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.”

As one of the industry’s leading tobacco growers and manufacturers, it seems only natural that the Plascencia family would want its name on a high-end cigar. It introduced the still-expanding Alma series a few years ago to do just that. The Alma del Campo, a Nicaraguan puro, makes a near-perfect first impression. The wrapper is vein-free, smooth, and gives off an enticing mint aroma before lighting. The Guajiro vitola (5.5 x 54) runs about $16. It begins with a thick, meaty flavor and deep, rich smoke. Some spice and nuts come fairly quickly to the fore. Other notes include pepper and a touch of cinnamon. All are nicely balanced. Construction is excellent, strength is medium, and the the finish is long. I thoroughly enjoyed the Guajiro. The cost, though, is likely to limit my future pleasure. But when you’re looking for a luxe cigar, this is one line not to ignore.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Drew Estate Herrera Estelí Brazilian Maduro Toro Especial

14 Jun 2019

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.”

The intense pre-light floral aroma from this cigar’s Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper is a quick tipoff that it isn’t a typical maduro. And that plays out from beginning to end. There’s not a lot of the usual coffee, chocolate, or cocoa frequently associated with other maduros. The Brazilian Maduro Toro (6 x 52, $9.68) opens with a shot of pepper that yields to notes of light spice, some sweetness, and leather in a smooth, well-balanced blend. Strength is firmly in the medium range. It burns slowly, produces lots of smoke, and has an excellent draw. With a Connecticut Broadleaf binder and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos, you might expect more complexity, but I found it to be a fairly straightforward smoke. That’s not a criticism; I thoroughly enjoyed what it presented. This addition to Drew Estate’s Herrera Estelí line was introduced last year. It comes in five sizes, all in boxes of 25. I suggest you pick one up.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Cohiba Connecticut Robusto

5 Jun 2019

General Cigar labels its latest Cohiba a “super-premium release” and continues to expand the range of the U.S.-only line. The Cohiba Connecticut would seem to be aimed at luring high-end smokers attracted to cigars such as those produced by Davidoff, Ashton, and God of Fire.

It is a legitimate contender.

The first impression comes from the wrapper, a nearly flawless Connecticut-seed leaf grown in cloudy Ecuador. The pre-light aroma is sweet and floral.

The binder is Mexican San Andrés, which, fortunately for my taste, seemed to have little impact on the cigar’s overall flavor. The filler comes from Brazil (Mata Fina), the Dominican Republic (Piloto Cubano and Olor), and Nicaragua (Jalapa).

At first, there is a touch of the typical Connecticut grassy flavor. It is barely a hint, though, and quickly subsides as other tastes come to the fore.

There’s some spice and a deep, bread-like taste to the thick smoke. Other flavors I noted along the way were a citrus tang, an almost syrupy sweetness, and leather.

Construction and performance were first-rate in each of those I smoked. Strength was in the medium range.

Cohiba Connecticut comes in four sizes, including two different Robustos. The tubo Crystal Robusto (5 x 50) lists at $20.99. The Robustos (5.5 x 50) I smoked have an MSRP of $19.99. The other two vitolas are a Toro (6.25 x 52, $21.99) and a Gigante (6 x 60, $22.99).

Some cigar enthusiasts disdain the non-Cuban Cohiba, viewing it as an overpriced, crass attempt to exploit Cuba’s incredibly successful cigar line originally produced for Fidel Castro. Unlike other Cuban brand names used in the U.S., Cohiba is a post-revolution cigar. Legal wrangling over the trademark between Cuba and General Cigar, initiated more than 20 years ago, continues.

While relatively few of us light up $20 cigars on a regular basis, if you occasionally reach for a high-end smoke I’d suggest you add Cohiba Connecticut to your list of possibilities. It’s a worthy smoke, and one that I rate four stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Pinar del Rio 1878 Cubano Especial Capa Madura Robusto

24 May 2019

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 Pinar del Rio cigar boasts a three-country blend (Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper, Dominican Criollo binder, and Criollo filler from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua), a pigtail cap, and a low price tag. I found the Robusto (5 x 52), which had been in my humidor for quite a while, to have many of the typical maduro (but, yes, they use madura) flavors like coffee and cocoa. But they were marred by a harshness that kept any from shining. Good construction and performance couldn’t overcome the negatives.

Verdict = Hold.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Gran Habano Cabinet Selection Robusto

17 May 2019

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.”

I found this cigar deep in my humidor and have no idea when or where I got it. An internet check appears to show that the line is no longer in production, though I wouldn’t be surprised if a few remain on retailers’ shelves. It’s a Nicaraguan puro with a light brown Corojo wrapper in a mild press. It started with an earthiness that soon gives way to a medicinal/mineral taste that’s not particularly pleasant. Strength was medium at most, and there was little of the pepper and spice typical of so much Nicaraguan tobacco. The draw and smoke production were fine, but the burn required several touch-ups. Not one to seek out.

Verdict = Sell.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: E.P. Carrillo Encore Valientes

3 May 2019

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 was the first Encore I’ve seen since the robusto-sized Majestic was named Cigar Aficionado’s top cigar of 2018, thus creating a shelf-clearing demand. I hope it won’t be my last. It’s an excellent smoke. The Valientes is a 6.125-inch torpedo with a ring gauge of 52. It is dark, rich, and robust, a treat from first puff to finish. The flavors are balanced and smooth, with one surprise, given that it is a Nicaraguan puro: There’s little of the pepper that’s often common to those tobaccos. Another point worth noting is that the Encore line follows Ernesto Perez-Carrillo’s tradition of producing top-flight cigars without sky-high prices. I paid $12.25 for the Valientes. And while the four-vitola line follows La Historia in what’s called the Perez-Carrillo Series, the cigar itself is second to none.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: E.P. Carrillo

Cigar Review: Villiger La Meridiana Toro

29 Apr 2019

Long a major player in the machine-made cigar market, Villiger has for some time worked to raise its profile in the hand-made segment of the industry. For the all-important U.S. customer base, the Swiss company has introduced new cigars and brought some over from Europe.

That’s where La Meridiana comes in. Released in Europe about 20 years ago, the Nicaraguan puro was recently introduced in the United States, albeit with some differences in the sizes.

The U.S. line features five vitolas: Corona (5.5 x 42, $6.50), Robusto (5 x 50, $7.50), Torpedo (6 x 52, $8), Churchill (6.9 x 48, $8.50), and a box-pressed Toro (6 x 54, $10.60). All come in 10-count boxes.

They are rolled in Estelí, Nicaragua, at the Joya de Nicaragua factory. The cigar name itself also celebrates a factory, though it’s a Cuban one that ceased rolling operations years ago.

The wrapper is a smooth, darker brown leaf, highlighted by the prominent orange coloring in both the regular and the foot bands. There’s a mouth-watering pre-light aroma from the filler.

From the start, it is apparent La Meridiana is not a particularly strong cigar, despite its Nicaraguan components. But strength should never be confused with taste. La Meridiana has plenty of the latter.

It starts a little woody, then quickly adds some sweetness and mild spice. The flavors begin with excellent balance and maintain that throughout. Other flavors that crop up include a bit of citrus and some nuttiness.

All of those I smoked performed excellently. The draw was good and smoke production thick and plentiful. The white ash held firmly, and the burn was slow and even.

This cigar would seem to be one of Villiger’s best efforts yet. The prices are competitive, the medium strength makes it accessible, and the flavor profile is one that can appeal to a wide range of smokers. That earns the Villiger La Meridiana Toro four out of five stogies.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys