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Quick Smoke: G.A.R. Opium S.T.K. Toro

7 Sep 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.”

A Nicaraguan puro from George Rico’s Gran Habano, Opium makes a strong first impression. The brown hybrid Habano/Corojo wrapper is smooth and the gold-laced triple banding shines. The first few puffs, though, are a bit harsh, leading me to wonder what will happen as I smoke down the 6-inch, 52-ring gauge frame. Happily, the harshness abates fairly quickly, and sweet spices, wood, and leather emerge. The second half is the most enjoyable, as the cigar becomes more balanced with strength at the medium level. Available at about $7 for a single stick.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Partagas Legend Toro Leyenda

5 Sep 2018

The latest Partagas line extension takes its name, Legend, from the notable men associated with the brand, from its Cuban founding in 1845 to the current versions from General Cigar.

Introduced at the 2018 IPCPR Trade Show, Legend features a three-country blend: Dominican Piloto Cubano filler, Honduran Olancho San Agustin binder, and Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper.

The medium-strength cigar has a light finish, which is somewhat surprising given its thick, smoky mouthfeel. There’s a little spice, but more predominant are flavors of leather, earthiness, and coffee.

I smoked several and found the performance generally good. One had a bit of a tight draw, which opened up a third of the way down. All produced a lot of smoke, burned slowly and evenly, and held a tight, white ash.

Legend is box-pressed and offered in three sizes: Corona Extra Leyenda (5.25 x 44, $11.49); Fabuloso Leyenda (6.5 x 48, $12.49); and Toro Leyenda (6.25 x 54, $14.49).

The ornate white band is set off by the oily, dark wrapper and has little of the traditional Partagas look. The boxes of 20 are also white.

Over the years, StogieGuys.com has reviewed a lot of General’s Partagas cigars. Nine,  in fact. Many received high ratings.

Now, some smokers have an almost visceral negative reaction to a non-Cuban cigar that bears the name of those still being produced in Cuba. They see it as a crass effort at exploitation.

Others, especially those whose companies were nationalized after the revolution and who fled the island, say the trademarks belong to the owners. They believe the Cuban versions are unlawful expropriations. One of those men was Ramón Cifuentes, who owned the Partagas brand when Fidel Castro seized power.

Perhaps all this will be sorted out if and when the U.S. embargo on Cuba ends. In the meantime, I’m not sure it’s fair to judge a cigar by its name. I prefer to take cigars as I find them and try to evaluate without considering baggage.

In this case, I found the Legend to be another fine Partagas addition and give it three and a half stogies out of five.

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

George E

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

Quick Smoke: Davidoff 702 Series Aniversario Special R Robusto

17 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 Davidoff line was introduced last year to employ a special hybrid Ecuadorian wrapper (the 702 in the name) to create a more intense cigar. It’s obviously much darker than the regular Aniversario Special R line and, from the first puff, it’s stronger. The Special R Robusto (4.9 x 50) starts a bit harsh, but that levels out quickly. As it moves along, you’ll find some of the typical Davidoff mushroom flavor, but others such as wood and nuts move to the fore. Performance is nearly perfect. At $21.40, this is obviously is an expensive cigar. If you’re not a Davidoff fan, you might not enjoy it. But for those of us who are, this is a cigar certainly worth trying.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Davidoff

Quick Smoke: Avo Heritage Toro Tubo

10 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.”

Introduced last year, this Avo Heritage vitola can be tough to find. It doesn’t seem to appear on the brand’s website, and a lot of shops don’t have it in their inventory. That’s a shame. It is a terrific cigar, and a near-prefect example of what Avo set out to accomplish with the Heritage line: a stronger smoke that retained the best of Avo. With a sun-grown Ecuadorian wrapper and Dominican binder and filler tobaccos, it begins with familiar notes of grass, mushrooms, and a hint of spice. Along the 6-inch, 50-ring gauge frame those flavors wax and wane as they interact with sweetness, a little chocolate, and some pepper. I found it stronger and bolder than other Heritage sizes I’ve smoked, but Davidoff assured me the blend is the same. At $10, the Heritage Toro Tubo is a bargain.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Tip: Evaluating New Cigars

6 Aug 2018

After smoking several thousand cigars and reviewing hundreds, I have a pretty good idea of what I do and don’t like. That, of course, doesn’t make my opinions any more valid that yours or anyone else.

But it does mean I have a lot of experience. And some of what I’ve learned might help you in evaluating cigars you’re trying for the first time.

These three tips are among those I consider most important.

— Unless you thoroughly dislike a cigar from the get-go, I recommend you hold off on making a determination from a single sample. Most reviewers smoke several cigars, and there’s good reason for that. Obviously, premium cigars are a handmade product and, therefore, subject to some differences along the production line. A poor burn, for example, could be because the cigar was too wet or because a leaf was improperly placed in the bunch. There’s another reason that can be even more important. The situation in which you smoke can exert a profound influence on how you feel about the cigar. Lighting up a celebratory stick after getting that promotion you wanted? It’s almost certain to go well. Trying to smoke while being interrupted by phone calls, unexpected diversions, or your neighbor jackhammering his patio will invariably make the experience less than ideal. An easy way to see this is to picture yourself lighting up as you watch your favorite sports team. They’re off to an early lead and play superbly to the end. Good cigar, right? Now, imagine that same cigar as your team is down almost immediately and hammered constantly to the end. Not nearly as enjoyable a smoke, is it?

— Beware of confirmation bias, the psychological term for the all-too-human tendency toward wanting something to be true and, therefore, deciding it is without weighing the evidence. With cigars, this occurs most often when one of your favorite manufacturers has a new release. You love their cigars, and you know you’re going to love this one, too. Maybe. But maybe not. The reverse can also happen. You pick up one from a brand you haven’t enjoyed—or maybe have just heard or read negative things about—and you subconsciously conclude beforehand that it isn’t good.

— Concentrate, but don’t go overboard. Not only will this help you deal with confirmation bias, it will also put you in a much better position to reach a reasonable conclusion. Getting in the isolation booth and doing nothing but puffing may help you find a somewhat obscure flavor or two, but that isn’t how most of us smoke cigars. I think that approach can actually diminish your evaluation. Smoking cigars should be about pleasure, not subjecting yourself to a tobacco version of the SAT. Enjoy yourself, enjoy your smoke.

And when you’re done, hopefully you’ll have a good idea of whether you want to smoke more of those cigars or not.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Plascencia Reserva Original Cortez

27 Jul 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.”

Plascencia grows lots of tobacco and rolls lots of cigars, mostly for other brands. Through the years, the company has also released a number of its own products, including some using organic tobacco like the Reserva Original. The Nicaraguan puro came out last year and is available in seven sizes, each adorned with three bands. The Cortez is a handsome figurado that measures 5.75 inches long with a ring gauge of 56 and a reasonable retail price around $9. I was excited to try it, but disappointed with the results. I knew it was a relatively mild cigar, so I wasn’t looking for power or punch. But I was expecting more than I got: a fairly bland smoke with little in the way of interesting flavors, spice, or complexity.

Verdict = Sell.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys