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Quick Smoke: L’Atelier Imports Extension de la Racine ER13

27 Aug 2016

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.”

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Released in 2013, this cigar from Pete Johnson’s L’Atelier Imports was built to have the same dimensions as the Cohiba Siglo VI (5.9 x 52). That said, its makeup—a Nicaraguan sun-grown Criollo wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos—doesn’t yield a flavor profile that resembles the famed Cuban smoke. Still, it’s good in its own right, with excellent combustion qualities and a balanced taste of rich caramel, cream, and dry oak with a bready texture. It originally sold for $9.25. If you can track one down, pick it up.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Drew Estate Liga Privada No. 9 Toro

22 Aug 2016

Privada

I still think of Drew Estate as a newer cigar company, probably due to its modern marketing, sleek packaging, unique fan base, and urban, non-traditional vibe. How many other cigar outfits have an in-house art studio turning out graffiti and tattoos, or their own social media app? How many other brands have such a dedicated cult following among younger clientele?

LigaBut while Drew Estate lacks the history of industry stalwarts like Arturo Fuente or Joya de Nicaragua, it’s no spring chicken, either. It also can’t be considered among the ranks of small boutique outfits anymore. Drew Estate runs the largest cigar factory in Nicaragua—producing over 10,000 cigars a day—and in 2014 it was acquired by Swisher International, the largest cigar company in the world.

Drew Estate’s size and parent carry some advantages. For example, in the midst of all the FDA malaise, I’ve been thinking a lot about what cigars in my current rotation will still be available in a few years. It’s hard to imagine Swisher will have any trouble coming up with the capital necessary to overcome the yet-to-be-detailed-though-surely-onerous approval process for any Drew Estate cigars that are selling.

Surely they’ll do so for the Liga Privada No. 9 blends, which became available in the summer of 2007—just after the February 2007 exemption deadline. Today, I thought I’d revisit my favorite cigar in that line, the Toro (6 x 52). While I might not have much new to say about a cigar that’s been on the market for nearly a decade, it’s helpful to reexamine old favorites. And, heck, I guess I just wanted an excuse to fire a few Toros up.

By now, we all know the story. Former Drew Estate chief Steve Saka, now owner of Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust, began work in 2005 on a personal blend for his own enjoyment. After over 50 blends of testing with Jonathan Drew and Nick Melillo (now owner of Foundation Cigar Co.), a final recipe was arrived at: a dark Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper fermented for at least 18 months, a Brazilian Mata Fina binder, and filler tobaccos from Honduras and Nicaragua.

Liga production is still limited—a limitation, according to Drew Estate, that’s due to tobacco availability—so the cigars can be tough to find and expensive. When you get your hands on a Toro, though, you’ll find a highly pleasurable, full-bodied cigar with tons of flavor and a fair amount of spice. Leathery in texture, the core tastes include black pepper, cocoa, espresso, cream, and that infectious sweet grassiness that can only be found in certain Drew Estate cigars.

Construction is outstanding, including a straight burn line and a solid white ash. Notably, the draw is incredibly easy and the smoke production is intense—welcome characteristics that have become trademarks of Drew Estate over the years.

You can expect to pay $12 or more for the Toro. While that’s a considerable cost, you can be assured of a solid, consistent, tasty experience. I’ve been smoking this cigar for a long time, and I think the most fitting rating is an exceptional 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: MBombay Habano Gordo

21 Aug 2016

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.”

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The five-vitola MBombay Habano line made its debut in 2015, joining several other blends from Mel Shah’s house-brand-turned-national-release. It is made at Tabacos de Costa Rica with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Ecuadorian Criollo binder, and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and Peru. The Gordo (6 x 60, $12.50) has a balanced bouquet of flavors ranging from warm tobacco and roasted nuts to cream, caramel, and a gentle woodsy spice. It smokes OK, though the burn line tends to meander and the draw is a tad tight, especially for such a thick cigar. I suspect I will appreciate the other MBombay Habano vitolas considerably more; my enjoyment of this cigar is limited by its excessive girth.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Avo XO Legato

20 Aug 2016

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.”

Avo

This toro-sized (6 x 54) smoke has the kind of salty flavor I sometimes crave, though I think that same saltiness also makes it unsuitable under certain circumstances. Fortunately, I knew what to expect before lighting up and prepared accordingly, keeping myself within arm’s distance of light sipping rum and a glass of cold water. I was rewarded with a satisfying experience: a medium-bodied profile with a salty taste that’s accented by notes of sweet cream, cedar, café au lait, and traces of trademark Davidoff mustiness. Construction was solid (notably, the Legato burns with an ultra-thick mascara). The Avo XO—which features an Ecuadorian-grown Connecticut-seed wrapper around Dominican binder and filler tobaccos—may not be for everyone all the time, but it’s a good asset to keep on hand if you know how to use it correctly.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Drew Estate Florida Sun Grown Limited Edition Trunk-Pressed Toro

15 Aug 2016

FSG

Earlier this summer, I reviewed the Robusto format of the new Drew Estate Florida Sun Grown line. I mentioned that, in addition to the four Brazilian-wrapped standard vitolas, there is also a Limited Edition Trunk-Pressed Toro with its own unique blend, and that’s the subject of today’s review.

FSG Trunk-Pressed ToroTo bring you back up to speed, two years ago we broke the news that, for the first time since 1977, long-filler cigar tobacco was being grown in Florida. Jeff Borysiewicz, owner of the Corona Cigar stores and a partner in the Sindicato cigar company, began growing tobacco on land he had purchased—out of love of the leaf, and to avoid paying residential taxes on the land, which is outside Orlando.

At the time, while we knew Drew Estate had been selected as Borysiewicz’s partner, it was unclear how the tobacco would be incorporated. In May, we learned it would be used in a blend from Drew Estate aptly called Florida Sun Grown (FSG). Drew Estate Master Blender Willy Herrera paired the Floridian filler tobacco with Nicaraguan leaves, a Mexican binder, and a Brazilian wrapper.

As I mentioned above, however, the Trunk-Pressed Toro (6 x 52) sports a different blend. It has a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, Mexican binder, and filler tobaccos from Florida, Nicaragua, and Honduras. It retails for $15 and is packaged in boxes of 10 (the standard four vitolas retail for $11.50 to $15 and come in 20-count boxes).

The FSG Limited Edition Trunk-Pressed Toro has a beautiful exterior leaf that’s dark, moderately oily, slightly reddish, and covered in a network of (mostly) thin veins. The foot exudes pre-light notes of green raisin and cocoa powder. The cold draw is smooth and clear. Just like the standard vitolas, it is adorned by a handsome band of teal, orange, and gold that interestingly makes no mention of Drew Estate, nor does it designate the cigar as a limited edition in any way.

After establishing an even light, I am immediately struck by how much more Mexican-tasting the Trunk-Pressed Toro is than the regular-production Robusto. This is a gritty, dirty cigar with a highly chalky texture. Background notes include espresso, black pepper spice, and a touch of the sweet grassy sensation that’s prevalent in other Broadleaf-wrapped smokes from Drew Estate. Full-bodied from light to nub, the profile picks up some creaminess at the midway point, only to grow spicier and more intense down the home stretch. Cayenne heat fades in and out throughout.

The gentle box-press renders the Toro almost oval in shape, which I find very comfortable and unique. Combustion qualities are superb, including a straight burn line, solid ash, and an easy draw that yields above-average smoke production.

For now, FSG is only available at Corona Cigar stores, or at Corona Cigar’s retail website. However, rumor has it Borysiewicz would like to see FSG go national. If that happens, the exclusivity at Corona Cigar will likely be remembered as a soft launch.

Either way, you need to get your hands on this cigar. It’s expensive yet highly enjoyable and supremely satisfying, especially if you’re not averse to Mexican tobacco. The Florida Sun Grown Limited Edition Trunk-Pressed Toro is a joy to smoke and worthy of an admirable rating of 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: Aging Room F59 Quattro Maestro

13 Aug 2016

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.”

Aging

Last year, Boutique Blends introduced the Aging Room F59 Quattro, the follow-up to the F55 Quattro (very highly rated by my colleague in a 2012 review of the Concerto size). The F59 Quattro is a Dominican puro that’s marketed as medium- to full-bodied. It’s comprised of Cuban-seed tobaccos that are aged for ten years. The box-pressed, torpedo-sized Maestro (6 x 52) retails for about $10 and features solid combustion qualities with rich, oily flavors of black pepper, cream, coffee, and peanut with cayenne spice on the finish. The strength is evident in the first third, impactful down the final stretch. Pick up the Maestro if you’re looking for a heavyweight companion to a high-proof sipping bourbon after a full meal.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Arturo Fuente Flor Fina 8-5-8

6 Aug 2016

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.”

Arturo Fuente Flor Fina 8-5-8

This isn’t the first time we’ve written about this cigar, and it probably won’t be the last, either. Because as much as it’s important to try the exciting and new, it’s equally important to connect with old favorites—particularly those smokes that offer great bang for the buck. The Flor Fina 8-5-8 (6 x 47) from Arturo Fuente costs around $5, yet it boasts a spicy, toasty aroma with notes of pine, nuts, and herbs. Construction is excellent. Work this smoke into your rotation the next time you have the chance, even if it isn’t sexy or trendy.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys