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Cigar Review: Fable Fourth Prime Sapta

16 Apr 2018

Back in October, I reviewed the Fable Fourth Prime Mersenne (5.25 x 56), an intense, flavorful cigar that’s a highly enjoyable experience. I made it a point to try other sizes in the blend. Next up is the gran toro-sized Sapta (6.25 x 54), which runs about $11 (not including horrid taxes here in Chicago).

For the uninitiated, Fable comes from RoMa Craft’s home factory in Estelí, Nicaragua: Fabrica de Tabacos NicaSueño S.A. The brand debuted in early 2016 and is made for owners Sean Kremenetski and Mitul Shah.

Fourth Prime is Fable’s inaugural release. (There is only one other line listed on Fable’s website, Fourth Prime Limited Production; but, again, the brand has only been around for about two years, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a small portfolio, especially if that portfolio is really solid.) The line pays homage to “the story of the number seven and the significance it holds in our world.”

Fourth Prime is described as “medium to full strength” with “full flavor” and “full aroma.” It is available in four sizes: Sapta (6.25 x 54), Mi (5.75 x 46), Doc (4.25 x 52), and Mersenne (5.25 x 56). The recipe includes a dark Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper, an Ecuadorian Habano Ligero binder, and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

The name “Sapta” is “derived from the Indian cultural term Saptarisi, or Sapta Rishi, meaning ‘Seven Sages’—prominent religious figures that parallel the traditional saints of mainstream religion. This size has a personal connection to Mitul Shah through his roots in Indian culture, religion, and tradition.”

Like Mersenne, Sapta is toothy and textured yet devoid of anything but the slimmest of veins. It is rectangle-pressed and fairly firm to the touch. Despite that firmness, though, the flattened cap clips easily to reveal an ultra-smooth cold draw.

Unlike Mersenne, which starts full-bodied, full-strength, and spice-forward with a meaty texture, Sapta is more airy, almost marshmallow-y, in texture. It tastes of nougat, cream, dark chocolate, and coffee bean. There is little spice or heat. This makes it possible for the aforementioned flavors to shine through in a balanced, harmonious way.

My comments about the construction of Mersenne can be repeated verbatim for Sapta: “The combustion properties are impeccable, as one would expect from NicaSueño. The burn line is perfect, the white ash holds well off the foot, the draw is super-clear, and the smoke production is ridiculously voluminous.”

The key differentiation between these sizes is the thick meatiness and grittiness of the Mersenne profile. Sapta is lighter, sweeter, airier, and—in my option, at least—more complex, better balanced, and more enjoyable. I recommend the Fable Fourth Prime Sapta highly and award it four and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Black Label Trading Company Killer Bee

14 Apr 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.”

Killer Bee (4.5 x 46) retails for $7.50 and sports Nicaraguan tobaccos beneath its dark, clean, oily, and moderately veined Ecuadorian Maduro wrapper. Its closed foot, beautiful “linear cap,” and eye-catching band of black, gold, and green makes this a striking petit corona from an appearance perspective. The flavor is bold and powerful with notes of spicy cedar, char, oak, and molasses. Construction is impressive. I’ve had this particular specimen in one of my humidors for nearly 20 months. Time seems to have smoothed it out a bit, resulting in a more complex, balanced experience. Thinking back on my review from September 2016, I enjoyed the Killer Bee more this time around.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Eastern Standard Midnight Express Lancero

9 Apr 2018

Cladwell Cigar Co. was launched in 2014 by Robert Caldwell with a lineup of Dominican blends. The company seemingly came out of nowhere; its cigars debuted only about eight months after Caldwell walked away from Wynwood Cigars, a co-venture with Christian Eiroa, formerly of Camacho. Most people will tell you eight months isn’t nearly enough time to create and execute a vision for a new brand, but Robert Caldwell isn’t most people.

The following year, in 2015, in an effort to reach segments of the market that don’t typically seek Dominican smokes, Caldwell introduced Blind Man’s Bluff. The line is crafted at Agroindustrias Laepe S.A. in Danlí, Honduras—best known as the factory that produces Camacho—using a “their kitchen, our chef” approach. Caldwell says the intention was to make a “Caldwell-eqsue” cigar from tobaccos to which he didn’t previously have access.

Then, in 2016, Caldwell introduced Eastern Standard Midnight Express. Unlike the Dominican Corojo-wrapped Eastern Standard line, which is billed as mild- to medium-bodied, Eastern Standard Midnight Express is marketed as medium- to full-bodied. Its recipe calls for a Connecticut Arapiraca Maduro wrapper, a Habana Dominicano binder, and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua (Habano) and the Dominican Republic (Criollo ’98 and Corojo).

The Caldwell website lists four Eastern Standard Midnight Express sizes—Corona, Robusto, Piramide, and Toro—but, at my local tobacconist, I found a Lancero (7.5 x 42), which cost me $11.85 (not including insane Chicago taxes).

The Lancero is a handsome, firm, moderately oily, Colorado Maduro-colored cigar with a dark band of black and gold and a ring at the foot that denotes “Midnight Express.” While a pigtail cap may have been the intention, the result (likely from packaging and shipping) is more of a twisted tail that’s flattened to the cap’s surface. The foot exhibits faint pre-light notes of honey and dry wood.

A single wooden match is all that’s need to establish an even light. On the palate, the Lancero is moist and woody with notes of oak, damp earth, leather, and some cayenne heat on the finish. There’s also a background sweetness that reminds me of cherry and dried fruit.

There are some changes to the flavor as the cigar progresses. For starters, the spice amps up a bit after an inch or so. Notably, this is a cinnamon spice, not black pepper. Here, I’d classify the body as solidly medium. Then, at the midway point, there’s a heavy dose of charred meat, salt, and black coffee. The meatiness—a taste of which I’m not particularly fond—tends to play  a greater and greater role as the Lancero progresses.

Construction is good throughout. Expect a slow, straight burn, a moderate draw, solid smoke production, and a gray ash that holds pretty well off the foot.

For me, the Eastern Standard Midnight Express Lancero starts complex and promising, only to become overly meaty and salty in the second half. Smoking with a deliberately slowed pace doesn’t seem to noticeably offset this trend. That’s ultimately why I’m settling on a score of two and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

 

Quick Smoke: La Aurora Preferidos Corojo Tubo

7 Apr 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.”

There’s no telling exactly how long this cigar had been patiently resting in one of my humidors before I lit it up recently. I am sure the time would be better measured in years, not months. Whatever the case, some age seems to have done the Corojo Tubo (5 x 54) well. I found a well-balanced profile of red pepper sweetness, cedar, coffee, and cream. Construction was excellent. I would absolutely pick up this La Aurora again.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Byron Serie Siglo XXI Elegantes

2 Apr 2018

Havana-born Nelson Alfonso is the graphic designer behind Selected Tobacco, an ultra-premium outfit that produces cigars under the Atabey, Byron, and Bandolero brands, among others. Even if you’re unfamiliar with these cigars, you’ve almost certainly appreciated Alfonso’s work; his firm, Golden Age Visual Developers, has contributed to the packaging and design of many iconic Cuban brands, including Behike (which explains why Atabey looks so Behike-esque).

The Byron line is named for Lord Byron, an English poet and a leader of the Romantic movement. It is the revival of an old Cuban brand from the mid-nineteenth century. “Many cigar factories produced numerous brands with Anglo-American names to attract U.K. and U.S. markets, which had tremendous demand for premium cigars at the time,” according to the United Cigar website (United is Selected’s U.S. distributor).

Today, Byron is made in three different blends—Siglo XIX, Siglo XX, and Siglo XXI—to represent “what Cuban cigars were in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries.” They are handmade in Costa Rica, stored in an aging room for one year, and then packaged in beautifully ornate porcelain jars or individually humidified tubes.

The Byron Serie Siglo XXI Elegantes (6.1 x 55), introduced in 2016, is squarely in the super-premium category, with a per-cigar price that’s north of $30—even when bought by the box of 25 (the box does double as a humidor, though). For that cost, you should expect a lot.

Fortunately, the cigar’s appearance lives up to the lofty expectations set by the price. This is a remarkably beautiful and well-constructed cigar. Beneath three intricate bands of black, blue, and white with silver and gold accents, you’ll find an incredibly smooth, almost vein-free Colorado-colored Ecuadorian-wrapped cigar with a perfect cap. The cold draw is smooth with just the right amount of resistance. At the foot, I find pre-light notes of dried apricot and marshmallow sweetness.

The profile—which is, in my opinion, consistent from light to nub—is medium-bodied and balanced. Flavors range from bread and honey to cedar spice and dry oak. There’s a background note of herbal tea. I also find a range of earthy flavors and a familiar sensation I can only describe as warm tobacco. On the finish, there are warm spices, including clove, cinnamon, and cayenne heat.

As far as construction goes, the white ash can be a tad flaky but, honestly, that’s pretty nitpicky. I don’t think you’ll encounter any issues. The draw is perfect, the smoke production solid, and the burn line requires zero touch-ups.

Only 200 boxes of 25 Elegantes have been made available in the U.S. That makes this cigar not only exceptionally expensive; it’s also pretty rare. Is it worth your money and time? That’s a hard question to answer, and one that likely depends on your own unique circumstances. For me, the Byron Serie Siglo XXI Elegantes is a tasty, interesting cigar, but not one I would regularly seek out at this price point. For that, I’m awarding it three stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Nomad S-307 Corona

31 Mar 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.”

S-307 Nomad Corona

Nomad’s S-307 (“S” is for the Sumatra wrapper, “307” for the square mileage of Estelí, Nicaragua) is the company’s first full-production Nicaraguan smoke, handmade at Tobacalera A.J. Fernandez. In addition to its Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, S-307 sports an Ecuadorian Habano binder and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos. The line comes in five sizes: Toro (6 x 50), Robusto (5 x 50), Torpedo (6.5 x 52), Toro Grande (6 x 58), and Corona (5.5 x 46). The latter is box-pressed, costs about $7, and has medium- to full-bodied flavors of oak, black pepper, creamy peanut, cedar, and leather. The combustion properties leave little to be desired. I’ve had this cigar in one of my humidors for nearly four years. I’m glad I decided to smoke it. This S-307 Corona was spicy and satisfying.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Macanudo Inspirado Red Robusto

28 Mar 2018

Macanudo is one of the most popular cigars in America, and the mild Macanudo Cafe and Gold blends (both of which feature a classic green and white band) are most closely identified with the brand. For better or worse, that popularity shapes the brand’s identity. The upside is Macanudo is a go-to for mild cigar smokers who know they will get exactly what they want. The commercial challenge has been expanding that successful reputation beyond mild offerings, especially as tastes have tended toward fuller-bodied profiles.

Macanudo’s Inspirado line first debuted in 2004 for international markets; it wasn’t available in the U.S. until 2014. Keep in mind, unlike in the U.S.—where General Cigar/Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG) also owns the rights to the Partagas, Punch, Hoyo de Monterrey, and other trademarks that originated in Cuba—the Cuban government still controls those marks overseas. That means Macanudo is far and away the best-known brand owned by STG outside the U.S. This may account for why Macanudo Inspirado was first marketed elsewhere.

Since its U.S. debut in 2014, Inspirado has been building an identity as a sub-brand, with the intention to serve as a bolder, fuller-flavored Macanudo. In addition to the orange-banded original Inspirado, the Black and White lines were added to the portfolio in 2017. (Previously, there had been an online/catalog-only Inspirado Black, which featured orange lettering; but that blend is different from the regular production Macanudo Black.)

Now, as part of Macanudo’s 50th anniversary celebrations, a new Inspirado is rolling out. Called Inspirado Red, it sports an Ecuadorian Habano Ligero wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder from Jalapa, and well-aged filler tobaccos from Honduras and Nicaragua (specifically, 12-year-old Ometepe, 10-year-old Jamastran, and 5-year-old Estelí). Three vitolas will be offered: Toro (6 x 50, $6.99), Gigante (6 x 60, $7.49), and a box-pressed Robusto (5 x 50, $6.49). All are made at the STG Estelí factory.

My first experience with this new line came in the form of a Robusto five-pack. The moderately oily wrapper has a rustic appearance thanks to a rough-looking cap, less-than-perfect seams, and a pretty extensive network of veins. At the foot, the pre-light notes remind me of milk chocolate. The cold draw is wide open; there’s almost no resistance.

The initial profile is medium-bodied and woodsy with flavors ranging from dry oak and cedar spice to warm tobacco and some delightful roasted cashew. There is a bit of creamy sweetness in the background. At times, the short finish has some bitter notes. But when the cashew shines through, as it does about every three puffs, the taste is highly enjoyable and well-balanced.

At the midway point, the Robusto starts to heat up considerably. The body remains medium, and the strength low, yet there’s heat in both temperature (perhaps a result of the ultra-airy draw) and cayenne spice. The finale is characterized by a retreat of heat, more earthy tones, leather, and dry wood. All the while the construction is solid, save for the flaky ash, which can fall off quite unpredictably.

If you’re looking for a woodsy, medium-bodied experience that won’t break the bank, the new Macanudo Inspirado Red Robusto should be on your list to try. I rate it a respectable three stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys