Archive by Author

Cigar Review: Evil Genius White Chapel Robusto

30 Mar 2015

We’ll forgive you if you haven’t heard of Evil Genius Cigars until now. Evil Genius is a small, Pennsylvania-based operation that debuted only last summer. Its production is limited, and the retailers are few (mostly concentrated in the Keystone State).

White Chapel RobustoThat isn’t to say, of course, the cigars aren’t worth seeking out. I recently sat down with a couple Evil Genius White Chapel Robustos (5 x 50) to give this new, small-production smoke the fair chance it deserves. I’m glad I did.

Evil Genius has two lines, both made by La Aurora: Black Chapel and White Chapel. The former is a five-country blend with a Brazilian Maduro wrapper that’s aged in rum barrels to add sweetness. It’s billed as medium-bodied and full-flavored.

The White Chapel—perhaps unexpectedly given its less-than-imposing appearance—is fuller-bodied and medium in flavor. It has a Dominican Habano wrapper around a sun-grown Ecuadorian Sumatra binder and filler recipe that’s three-quarters Ligero and one-quarter Seco. (One of the Ligeros, by the way, is grown in Pennsylvania.)

There are four sizes available in each blend, ranging in price from $5 to $9.50: Belicoso, Gigante, Petit Corona, and Robusto. The White Chapel Robusto has a reddish Colorado hue with only thin veins and an oily, textured surface. The feel is moderately firm and the cap seems sloppily applied. Pre-light aromas include syrup, earth, and considerable sweetness.

As advertised, the strength of this cigar is palpable and apparent from the first puff. In addition to a hearty dose of nicotine, the initial profile is characterized by cedar, espresso, and both black and white pepper. The texture is dense and leathery, and the finish tends to linger with notes of warm tobacco and spice. Background flavors of molasses and cream help add balance.

At the midway point, some breadiness comes and goes, as do hints of peanut. The final third witnesses a slight increase in intensity but similar flavors. Throughout, the Robusto’s construction is impeccable. My samples exhibited straight burn lines, solid ashes, good smoke production, and draws with just the right amount of resistance.

To date, Evil Genius is sold at brick-and-mortar establishments only. That means you’ll need to visit or contact one of the 17 retailers who carry their smokes. If you do, I highly doubt you’ll be disappointed by the White Chapel Robusto. It’s a fine cigar at a reasonable price with ample strength to complement an after-dinner bourbon, rum, or scotch. It earns four stogies out of five.

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

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Tatuaje Black Label Corona Gorda 2013

28 Mar 2015

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.”

Tatuaje Black 2

Known as Pete Johnson’s personal blend, the Tatuaje Black Corona Gorda (5.6 x 46) was first sold in 19-count jars in 2007 and met with acclaim and enthusiasm. Then, in September 2013, Johnson re-released the Nicaraguan puro, which boasts a sun-grown Criollo wrapper and is handmade at My Father Cigars. I don’t believe I ever tried the 2007 edition, but I can attest the 2013 Tatuaje Black Corona Gorda is outstanding and well worth the $10 asking price (if you can find it). Flavors include citrus, red pepper, cocoa, and leather. It isn’t hard to understand why my colleague awarded this cigar a rare rating of five stogies out of five.

Verdict = Buy.

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Intemperance EC XVIII The Industry

25 Mar 2015

At this point I can safely say RoMa Craft Tobac is on the short list of my favorite cigar makers in the world. Since RoMa Craft was put on my radar in 2011, I’ve really enjoyed smoking my way through the portfolio—including Intemperance, CroMagnon, Aquitaine, and some retailer-specific exclusives. I’ve also had the pleasure to tour Skip Martin’s small Nica Sueño factory in Estelí to see his scaled-down processes first-hand.

Intemperance The IndustryThere’s undoubtedly a romanticism associated with a small cigar operation that grew from the ashes of a Texas brick-and-mortar store that was decimated by Hurricane Ike in 2008. And it’s hard to not root for a company that began making cigars in one of its employees’ garages, using a shower to store bales of tobacco and working off borrowed molds and presses. But that’s not what makes RoMa Craft so special; RoMa Craft is special because it produces consistently awesome cigars at hard-to-beat prices.

The Intemperance series pays homage to the American movement that overthrew Prohibition (and reminds us to stay vigilant about cigar rights). It comes in two varieties. Intemperance EC XVIII features an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper (hence “EC”) around an Indonesian binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. There’s also an Intemperance BA XXI line that’s wrapped in a Brazilian Arapiraca leaf.

For Intemperance EC XVIII, there are five regular-production vitolas: The Charity (4 x 46), The Virtue (4.5 x 52), The Faith (5 x 50), The Brotherly Kindness (5 x 56), and The Industry (5.5 x 54). The latter retails for $7. It has a light, yellowish wrapper with thin veins, a few wrinkles, and pre-light aromas of sweet hay. Notably, the binder/filler protrude slightly from the foot which, Martin says, gives the smoker the brief chance to sample the blend without the wrapper before it quickly changes.

Before reaching the wrapper, The Industry is dry and woodsy with cedar spice, black pepper, and earth. Once the wrapper ignites, a creamy sweetness provides harmony and complexity. As the belicoso progresses, notes of vanilla, salty peanut, and honey come and go. The texture is bready and the body is mild to mild-medium. To its credit, I only find trace bitterness, even as my puffs become more frequent. But the wonderful creaminess of the profile really shines through only if you take your time.

I’ve never lit up a cigar from RoMa Craft that didn’t have excellent combustion qualities. This was no exception. Across the three samples I smoked for this review, all exhibited straight burn lines, solid white ashes, clear draws, and above-average smoke production.

The Intemperance BA XXI blend has to be my favorite from this manufacturer (I awarded the A.W.S. IV a rare five-stogie rating), but the EC XVIII The Industry is no slouch. It’s an affordable, high-quality, interesting Ecuadorian Connecticut-wrapped smoke that consistently delivers a solid experience. In my book, it’s worthy of four stogies out of five.

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

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Byron Serie Siglo XX Londinenses

23 Mar 2015

So far this year I’ve reviewed two interesting smokes from United Cigar: the Atabey Ritos, an expensive cigar that’s complex and nuanced; and the Garofalo Robusto, a mild-mannered smoke that’s affordable, flavorful, and satisfying.

Byron Siglo XX ReservaBoth creations are impressive, not only in their performance but also in their packaging (more on that later). So I’ve made it a point to try and smoke my way through the rest of the United Cigar portfolio, which includes Bandolero, Fleur de la Reine, La Gianna, and Byron.

The latter is named for Lord Byron, an English poet and a leader of the Romantic movement. The Byron cigar line 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 UK and US markets, which had tremendous demand for premium cigars at the time,” according to the United Cigar website.

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 Siglo XX Londinenses (5.5 x 54) is dark, firm, and clearly crafted with care. Underneath the cedar sleeve and double bands is a virtually veinless wrapper with a well-executed cap and potent pre-light notes of green raisin, cocoa, and earth. The Byron Siglo XX’s wrapper, binder, and filler are undisclosed.

The cold draw is quite tight, which is a bit of a concern, but fortunately it seems to open immediately after setting an even light. The ensuing flavor is medium-bodied and balanced with notes of creamy nut, sweet cream, dried fruit, coffee, cedar spice, warm tobacco, and cinnamon. Yes, there’s a lot going on here. The texture is dense and the smoke production is moderate. The final third witnesses a slight increase in spice and body.

Aside from the draw being a tad too resistant for my liking, construction is absolutely perfect. The gray ash holds well off the foot, and the straight burn line doesn’t require a single-touch up.

Like Atabey, the Byron Serie Siglo XX Londinenses is competing in the ultra-premium market with a sky-high price of about $30. Surely some of that cost is sunk in the flamboyantly elaborate packaging and the humidified tube (which is reusable and excellent for the golf bag, by the way). That said, this is no mediocre cigar on masquerade. No, the flavors are as numerous as they are harmonious, and the experience is downright memorable. Pony up for an indulgence, and be prepared for a cigar that’s worthy 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: Pinar del Rio Small Batch Reserve Maduro Robusto

21 Mar 2015

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.”

PDR

For a little over three years I held on to this specimen in my humidor. That’s about as much patience as I can muster, so it was high time I lit up the Small Batch Reserve Maduro Robusto (5 x 52). This Pinar del Rio creation sports a dark Ligero Habano wrapper from Brazil, a Dominican Criollo ’98 binder, and Corojo filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The result is a well-constructed, pleasurable smoke with notes dark chocolate, peanut, coffee, syrup, and cream—perhaps a little more balanced and subdued than what I remember, and a little more chalky in texture. Whether you plan to smoke it or age it, the Small Batch Reserve Maduro Robusto will be a wise investment at only $7.

Verdict = Buy.

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Cubanacan Soneros Habano Maduro Corona Gorda

18 Mar 2015

Back in January, I was introduced to Cubanacan—a cigar company with a name that means “where fertile land is abundant”—via the Soneros Habano Claro Corona Gorda. I really enjoyed that cigar, and was therefore eager to try the subject of today’s review: the Cubanacan Soneros Habano Maduro Corona Gorda. Even with my high expectations, I would not be disappointed.

Soneros1As a reminder, Cubanacan began growing its own tobacco in Nicaragua in 2006, and shortly thereafter established the Tabacalera Cubanacan factory in Estelí. There, six distinct blends are handmade under the supervision of master blender Omar González Alemán: Cubanacan Connecticut, Cubanacan Habano, Cubanacan Maduro, HR Habano 2000, Soneros Maduro, and Soneros Habano Claro.

Like the Soneros Habano Claro, the Maduro also comes in the same five vitolas: Campana, Corona Gorda, Gran Robusto, Petit Sublime, and Toro. The two blends also share the same tobacco makeup—Habano Ecuadorian wrapper, Ecuadorian binder, and Nicaraguan filler. The difference, obviously, is the Habano Maduro is wrapped in a dark Ecuadorian Maduro leaf.

I sampled two Soneros Habano Maduro Corona Gordas (5.625 x 46) for this review, both of which were provided by Cubanacan. They retail for $7.75 and come complete with oily, toothy wrappers, well-executed caps, and rich pre-light notes of dark chocolate and earth. Aside from the wrapper color, it’s easy to tell the Maduro apart from the Claro; the former has a red band, while the latter is black.

As I said in my review of the Habano Claro, I personally love this Corona Gorda size. I would probably choose its dimensions (or some rough approximation thereof) if I were pressed to divulge my favorite cigar format right now. The slender frame is a nice departure from the (regrettable) trend toward thicker smokes, and the length means you have plenty of time to enjoy the flavor—but the whole experience won’t be overstaying its welcome.

Speaking of the experience, the Habano Maduro Corona Gorda starts with a profile that includes coffee, oak, and cream—not dissimilar to the Habano Claro. However, the Maduro quickly differentiates itself with the additions of black cherry and cocoa. I’d characterize the body as medium to medium-full, especially as a hearty does of espresso enters around the midway point. The texture is leathery, and the resting smoke is incredibly sweet. Construction is virtually perfect. Both of my samples exhibited straight burn lines, solid gray ashes, smooth draws with just the right amount of resistance, and above-average smoke production.

A Habano Ecuadorian Maduro wrapper is, at least to me, a different take on the Maduro concept, and one I definitely appreciate. The Soneros Habano Maduro Corona Gorda is another strong effort from Cubanacan, and one that’s worthy of four stogies out of five.

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

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Guayacan Maduro Toro

14 Mar 2015

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.”

Guayacan Maduro 1

After recently reviewing—and sincerely enjoying—the Sabor de Estelí Habano Robusto from Guayacan, I decided to take another Noel Rojas creation for a test drive: the Guayacan Maduro Toro (6 x 52). Made at Rojas’ Tabacalera Aromas de Jalapa factory in Nicaragua, the Maduro line features a Criollo-seed San Andrés wrapper around Corojo tobaccos. It starts with notes of pepper and campfire, then adds hints of cream, peanut, and just a little cocoa along the way. Construction is excellent. This Toro runs about $9.50. I enjoyed it, but I think it’s a little overpriced and not nearly as enjoyable as the Sabor de Estelí Habano blend.

Verdict = Hold.

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys