Archive by Author

Quick Smoke: Rocky Patel Twentieth Anniversary Natural Toro

5 Aug 2017

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.”

Released in 2015 to celebrate Rocky Patel’s 20 years in the cigar industry, this blend is said to have taken four years to develop. Its wrapper and binder comes from Honduras, and the filler is a mix of Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos. The result is a complex, tasty, medium-strength smoke. The severely pressed Twentieth Anniversary Natural Toro (6 x 52, $12) performs excellently, including the generation of lots of smoke. It’s well worth a try.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: A.J. Fernandez New World Navegante

30 Jul 2017

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.”

New World, a lightly pressed Nicaraguan puro, was introduced several years ago by A.J. Fernandez as a budget line to complement his more expensive blends that had gained numerous fans. The New World Navegante (5.5 x 55) is a fairly rough-looking cigar and that appearance carried over to the initial smoking experience. Although it did smooth out a little about halfway down, it remained a bit harsh throughout. Smoke production was also fairly limited. Even at only about $6, I think you can navigate your way to a better cigar.

Verdict = Sell.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Drew Estate Liga Privada No. 9 Belicoso

16 Jul 2017

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.”

Drew Estate’s Liga lines have achieved iconic status among cigar enthusiasts. A complex, multi-country blend, a lengthy aging process, and excellent craftsmanship are hallmarks of the cigars. The No. 9 Belicoso (6 x 52) displays those qualities in spades. From start to finish, it’s rich, deep, and extraordinarily smooth. This is a cigar to savor and enjoy. In fact, the only likely complaint is that they can be tough to find. So when you do spot one, don’t pass it up.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: La Galera 1936 Box Pressed Chaveta

8 Jul 2017

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 line extension from Jochy Blanco’s La Galera is made at Tabacalera Palma and celebrates his family history in the cigar industry. It sports a Habano Ecuador wrapper with a Dominican Criollo ’98 binder and Dominican Piloto Cubano and Criollo ’98 filler. It begins a bit harsh with a spicy finish. But the good news is it smoothes out after a quarter of an inch or so. Construction and performance are excellent. This isn’t a complex smoke, but if you’re looking for an everyday, low-priced cigar—I’ve seen this robusto (5 x 50) online for under $5—this is one to check out.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: La Galera

Quick Smoke: Crowned Heads Le Careme Robusto

24 Jun 2017

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.”

The Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper on this Crowned Heads offering is so rough and gritty you might think the rollers finished their work with sandpaper. Introduced last year, Le Careme features an Ecuadorian Sumatra binder and filler from Nicaragua. (The name, in case you’re wondering, comes from a French chef who pioneered haute cuisine.) It’s a tasty cigar with some sweetness, a bit of spice, and leather. In my hand, the five-inch stick feels smaller than the stated 50-ring gauge, and it tends to burn fast, straight, and with excellent smoke production.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Tip: Don’t Get Slammed on the New-Release Treadmill

19 Jun 2017

[Editors’ Note: The following article was first published at in May 2015, though the advice it contains is as sound now as it was two years ago. It is reprinted today in anticipation of the fast-approaching 2017 IPCPR Trade Show.]

Cigar Shop

One of the great things about cigars is the incredible choice available. Unfortunately, it’s one of the not-so-great things as well.

Every day seems to bring news of a new release, a limited edition, a store special—or, more likely, several of each. One email I received recently touted five new limited cigars. As we approach the annual summer trade show, the stream of new announcements will almost certainly become a flood.

A dedicated cigar lover could go crazy, and broke, trying to keep up.

I suggest you don’t. Go crazy or broke, that is.

Now, I’m not recommending you forgo new cigars. Far from it. I’m just advocating a little thought and preparation to maximize the enjoyment potential of the purchases you do make.

First, remember that selling cigars is not like selling most other consumables. The premium cigar market is small and barely growing, if at all. A large percentage of cigar smokers have only a handful of sticks a week and rarely venture beyond a few brands.

Two companies—Altadis and General—dominate the market; add in a few other big players like Padrón, Fuente, and Rocky Patel, and you see why smaller manufacturers face a tough battle. They’re fighting for a thin slice of a not-so-big pie.

For many of those small manufacturers, social media has had a huge impact. Even though the cigar digerati is a relatively small subset of the market, it’s a vocal and influential component. Generating buzz and producing the next hot stick can make the difference between being a success and an also-ran. All of which leads to more releases, more limited editions, more store exclusives, and on and on.

Here are three thoughts to help you evaluate your purchases:

1) Pay attention to the manufacturers you really like. As any regular reader knows, I am a big fan of Aging Room cigars. Their blends just about always appeal to my taste. I’ve even gone so far as to violate a basic rule of cigar purchases by buying a box of a new offering before I’d tried one. Other favorites, like Fuente and My Father, also always get a close look from me.

2) Pay attention to tobaccos. Think about those you like and those you don’t. This can be tricky, I’ll be the first to admit. For example, I generally dislike San Andrés. But there are some using it, like E.P. Carrillo’s La Historia, that I think are terrific. Still, given the choice between a new smoke featuring that Mexican leaf and one that doesn’t, I’ll usually pick the cigar without it. Similarly, recognizing tobaccos you usually enjoy can be a deciding factor.

3) Look at the manufacturer’s output. Some companies put out so many new cigars, it is difficult to believe they all can be special. On the other hand, when someone like Padrón puts a new smoke on the market, it is worthy of special notice.

George E

photo credit: Flickr

Cigar Tip: Don’t Lose Your Cool This Summer

14 Jun 2017

With Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer in the U.S., now past, most of the country is looking at increasingly hotter temperatures and higher humidity levels.

For cigar enthusiasts, that can also mean rising anxiety levels as they fret over the conditions in their humidors. Here are some tips that I hope can help reduce your stress.

Whether you prefer the “standard” recommendation of 70° F. and 70% relative humidity or something else is, to some degree, a matter of taste. Many smokers these days favor humidity levels in the low- to mid-60s range with temperatures around 65° F.

Significantly higher or lower humidity levels can result in cigars that are too wet or too dry and won’t taste good or perform well. Temperatures much higher than 72° or so risk tobacco beetles hatching if larvae are present.

Only you can decide what settings you prefer.

But once you’ve decided, perhaps the most important step is to maintain relative constancy.

Here are some of the conclusions I’ve reached over the years.

First, I don’t believe cigars are like delicate flowers that will quickly wither and die outside a narrow comfort range of temperature and relative humidity. Sure, leave one resting on the dashboard in July and you can soon kiss it goodbye. But shifts of a few degrees or percentage points aren’t remotely fatal.

So don’t get obsessed. I’ve monitored temperature and relative humidity with two sensors in my cooled cabinet humidor for more than two years. And I can attest what you think is going on inside isn’t always the case.

For example, temperature and relative humidity levels can vary by several points from one shelf to another. (And, yes, my humidor has fans—three of them, in fact—to circulate the air.)

There are also usually differences of a few points in readings at different spots inside the humidor itself, as well as within a cigar box at the same spot. Some boxes hold both incredibly well; others, not so much.

It’s also important to bear in mind a few facts about humidity:

1) It is extremely difficult to measure precisely without very high quality scientific equipment.

2) We’re talking about relative humidity, which means the percentage changes when the temperature changes. That’s why it’s relative.

3) The warmer the air, the more moisture it can hold. So when the same amount of moisture is present at different temperatures, the relative humidity percentage will be lower in the warmer air.

4) Humid air tends to rise.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to keep your cool this summer, at least where your cigars are concerned.

George E

photo credit: Flickr