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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

Cigar Review: La Palina No. 1 Robusto

23 Jul 2018

This is the second of La Palina’s debut offerings in its Numbers line that I’ve reviewed. There was no reason that I went in reverse order, it just happened that way.

While the two lines share a modernistic approach to packaging and presentation, the cigars themselves are quite different.

The No. 1 is a four-country blend: Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, Costa Rican binder, and Nicaraguan and Honduran filler tobaccos. Like the No. 2, it comes in four sizes, though they aren’t all the same dimensions. The No. 1 Robusto is a 5.5-inch parejo with a ring gauge of 50 (the No. 2 Robusto has a 52 ring gauge), and it retails for $9.50.

My first impression came from the smooth wrapper’s enticing pre-light aroma. To me, it seemed a little like perfume, making me wonder what I’d experience when I lit it.

I tasted none of the perfume. What I did find initially was a little spice, and a little bite—not the pepper often associated with Nicaraguan tobacco. Farther into the smoke I got leather, some sweetness, and pepper on the retrohale.

There was a nice balance to the flavors throughout. Strength was firmly in the medium range. Rolled at the Plascencia factory in Honduras, each of the Robustos I smoked for this review performed perfectly. The burn was sharp, the ash tight, the draw just right, and the smoke production excellent.

La Palina has been an interesting company since Bill Paley revived the brand in 2010 by introducing a high-end, high-priced cigar at a flashy New York party. Since, Paley has significantly expanded his offerings to include a wide range of cigars that run the gamut of strength, size, and price.

The Numbers line is yet another addition and one well worth trying. I rate the No. 1 Robusto 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: Caldwell The T. Lonsdale

21 Jul 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.”

Although this cigar is generally referred to as a Caldwell smoke, it’s the result of a collaboration by Robert Caldwell, Matt Booth, and Abdel Fernandez of A.J. Fernandez. All are credited on the cigar’s green and gold secondary band. The T.’s Nicaraguan binder and filler are covered by a San Andrés wrapper. Surprisingly, I noticed none of the “dirt” taste I so often associate with that Mexican tobacco. Instead, I found a pleasing, complex smoke that begins with sweetness reminiscent of chocolate. Along the way, flavors of pepper, wood, burnt coffee, and a little nuttiness came and went. Performance was excellent. At about $10, the 6.5-inch, 44-ring gauge, lightly pressed Lonsdale is a cigar I can recommend highly.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Crowned Heads Four Kicks Maduro Lancero Limited Edition 2018

8 Jul 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.”

H-Town Four Kicks

Shipped recently to members of the Tobacconists’ Association of America, this Lancero (7.5 x 38, $10) was produced in small numbers: 1,500 boxes of 10 cigars. It’s a handsome, dark cigar with a pigtail cap. (The earlier H-Town Four Kicks LE Lancero is pictured above.) The thin frame packs a lot of flavor and some punch with a Connecticut Habano wrapper and Nicaraguan binder and filler. Performance was excellent. The good news is that Crowned Heads plans to offer its remaining supply to retailers attending the IPCPR Trade Show next week.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Nub Cameroon 358

1 Jul 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.”

Back in 2008, I wrote less than favorably about the Nub Cameroon 358, calling it “an OK cigar, but one I’d rank far behind others …” In the intervening years, Nub has displayed staying power and maintained a strong fan base, so I thought I’d take another look. Two things I notice that haven’t changed: the low price (as little as $3.75 a stick by the box of 24 online) and the tight ash (I finally tapped mine off before it ignited the band). The smoke began a bit harsh, though it smoothed out some after a half-inch or so. I also got a little sweetness and spice along the way. Not a complex smoke, but I can’t help but think I was a little severe before. If you’re looking for a budget Cameroon, give Nub a try.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys