Archive by Author

Quick Smoke: Hoyo de Monterrey Le Hoyo des Dieux (Cuban)

30 Aug 2014

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.”

Hoyo

There’s no telling how long this Le Hoyo des Dieux (6 x 42) had been resting in one of my humidors before I fired it up earlier this week. I would wager at least a couple years. And that’s a good thing. I typically find—unlike your average Nicaraguan, Dominican, or Honduran—most Cubans are in need of post-purchase aging. In this case, the time I invested (albeit on accident) paid good dividends. The texture is bready and the complex flavors include vanilla, syrup, graham, and sweet hay. This was a good buy for about $10.

Verdict = Buy.

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Leccia Tobacco Luchador Loco Perfecto

27 Aug 2014

In February, Sam Leccia of Leccia Tobacco announced he was “looking to put the cigar industry in a headlock” with a new blend called Luchador (Spanish for “wrestler”). In keeping with its Mexican wrestler theme, that blend was formally introduced on Cinco de Mayo.

LuchadorLuchador is the third line to come out of Leccia Tobacco, which is distributed by Toraño. It’s hard to believe the outfit has only been around for about a year. I know many people who consider Leccia’s Black and White blends to be regulars in their rotations. Time will tell if Luchador performs as well as those inaugural lines.

Luchador features a Mexican San Andrés wrapper around an Ecuadorian Habano binder with filler from Nicaragua, Pennsylvania, and Honduras. “I wanted to create something fun, yet different and exciting,” said Leccia. “With Luchador being a combination of exotic blends and flavors with a Mexican wrapper, I thought it was time to tap into my childhood fascination of Mexican pro wrestling.”

Four regular-production vitolas are available: El Hombre (5 x 54), El Castigo (6 x 60), El Guapo (6 x 50), and Loco Perfecto (6 x 58). Each bears a red, white, and green band (think Mexican flag) adorned with the image of a Mexican wrestling mask.

I paid $43 for a five-pack of Loco Perfectos ($8.60 per cigar). This is the most unique size of the bunch with a pointed cap, a tapered foot, and a firm, bulging midsection stuffed densely with tobacco. The exterior is toothy, moderately oily, and rustic. The pre-light notes include leather and syrup, and the cold draw is easy.

After using a few wooden matches to light the narrow foot, a spicy flavor of black pepper, leather, black dirt, and cinnamon emerges. The texture is bready, and a subtle cocoa sweetness adds balance. Even before Loco Perfecto reaches its widest point, the draw is very airy—and it will verge on a little too easy for smokers who prefer some resistance. The smoke production is excellent.

Towards the end, the sweetness is more pronounced and the spice more restrained. All the while the burn line remains true and the gray ash builds solidly off the foot. The draw couldn’t be more effortless.

I’ve grown to appreciate the fact that Mexican San Andrés wrappers are somewhat divisive. Some love them, some hate them, and some are content with the diversity they afford. I count myself in the latter category. Truthfully, the Leccia Tobacco Luchador Loco Perfecto is a nice smoke that’s a good representation of the San Andrés flavor profile, albeit unremarkable. I score it three and a half stogies out of five.

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

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Room 101 HN 615

25 Aug 2014

About one year ago, Matt Booth’s Room 101 Cigars—which is affiliated with Camacho and manufactured and distributed by Davidoff—launched a new line called Serie HN.

HN 615The line derives its name from its Honduran Criollo ’98 wrapper (the “H”) and the use of Dominican Navarette tobaccos (the “N”). Room 101 describes the unique HN recipe as follows: “Honduran Criollo is widely-known for its signature taste—rich, rugged, and filled with intense spice. By itself, Criollo can be slightly one-dimensional. However, when expertly combined with tobaccos such as Mata Fina from Brazil and a creamy Dominican Navarette, the richness and spice of Criollo comes to life in an unimaginable way.”

HN comes in five formats: 213 (5.5 x 44), 305 (5 x 50), 615 (7 x 48), 808 (6 x 60), and Papi Chulo (4 x 42). (The numbered sizes are named for the area codes of Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, and Hawaii, respectively.) Each vitola is made at the Agroindustrias Laepe factory in Honduras with a production run of 20,000 cigars.

I smoked three 615s for this review. This Churchill-sized smoke costs $7 and comes complete with a milk chocolate-colored, moderately oily wrapper that has tight seams, few veins, and a well-applied cap. Firm to the touch, the 615 shows a solid cross-section of tobaccos at the foot, yet it has an easy cold draw. The pre-light notes remind me of baking spices.

Room 101 describes the HN as “multi-dimensional and full-flavored” with “medium intensity” and “a level of balance unmatched by most.” While such advertising copy is usually an exercise in hyperbole, my experience with the 615 is pretty much in line with that description. I would agree the skinny Churchill has moderate strength with full flavors, and the balance is quite harmonious—especially for a cigar that often retails below $8.

The flavors themselves range from roasted nut and woody spice to sweet cream and white pepper. I’ve grown to really enjoy smokes that have a creamy nut characteristic, and the HN 615 has that in spades. The quicker you smoke, the more a cayenne pepper spice reveals itself. In the final third, the sweetness loses ground to earthy, leathery tones.

Throughout the lengthy seven-inch smoke, the 615 performs admirably in the department of construction. I found a straight burn, solid ash, smooth draw, and good smoke production across all of my samples.

I have two more Room 101 Serie HN 615s left from the five-pack I bought, and I plan to try to set them aside to see how age might impact the cigar. More realistically, I’ll likely fire both up before the summer is over. Because right now, in my book, this smoke is worthy of a commendable raring of four stogies out of five.

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

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Dunhill 1907 Robusto

23 Aug 2014

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.”

Dunhill 1907 Robusto

If this cigar were $5 instead of $8-9, I’d be more inclined to recommend it. But, in my opinion, there are just too many superior options at the $8-9 price level for the Dunhill 1907 Robusto (5 x 52) to be competitive. Don’t get me wrong, though. This Honduran Olancho-wrapped tribute to the storied history of Dunhill is by no means a bad smoke. It has a peppery, woody taste with notes of leather and warm tobacco. But its full potential is blocked by some burn issues and occasional sour flavors.

Verdict = Hold.

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Flores y Rodriguez Habano Magicos

20 Aug 2014

I often get asked by occasional cigar smokers something along these lines: “What’s a good, respectable brand that isn’t too expensive but delivers on quality?” In these situations, Pinar del Rio (PDR) invariably comes to mind.

FyR Habano Magicos 1Consider the many blends in the PDR portfolio (kudos, by the way, to PDR for maintaining an attractive, easily navigable website to help you peruse these offerings). There are many winners—Classico Exclusivo, 1878 Cubano Especial Capa Natural, Habano Sun Grown, etc.—and almost all compete in the affordable $5-6 range.

Another example is Flores y Rodriguez, the first PDR to bear a different name (it’s named for partners Abe Flores and Juan Rodriguez). Handmade at the Pinar del Rio factory in Santiago, Dominican Republic, Flores y Rodriguez comes in three varieties: Maduro, Habano, and an Exclusivo that’s only available at a handful of tobacconists. The latter is essentially the same blend as the Maduro, but the binder is swapped for a Nicaraguan Criollo ’98 leaf and the filler includes Ligero from Estelí.

The Flores y Rodriguez Habano is made entirely from Dominican Habano Vuelta Abajo leaves. The available sizes include Magicos (5 x 52), Genios (6 x 52), Unicos (6.5 x 52), and Canonazo (6.75 x 58). The cigar is described as mild- to medium-bodied with “a touch of sweetness and a soft cedar flavor.”

I sampled three Habano Magicos cigars for this review, all of which had been resting in my possession for two years. The robusto-sized smoke—which can be found for as little as $4 if bought online—has a clean, oily wrapper, a firm packing of tobaccos, a neat cap, and pre-light notes of sweet hay off the foot.

After setting an even light, the Magicos introduces itself with a spicy detonation more characteristic of a Nicaraguan-heavy cigar than a Dominican puro. The spice is dry, salty, and there’s an abrasiveness that lingers on the lips. Rather quickly, though, the spice settles and a more balanced profile takes shape that includes cream and cinnamon.

At the midway point and beyond, the Magicos is even more subdued as the spice seems to fade with each puff. Floral notes and a taste of leather come and go. All the while, the construction is excellent, including a straight burn and a solid gray ash. And, due at least in part to the entubado fashion in which the cigar is rolled, the draw is clear and the smoke production above average.

If you’re looking for a medium-bodied cigar with a dry, cedary spice and an approachable price tag, the Flores y Rodriguez Habano Magicos is a solid choice. This PDR creation earns three and a half stogies out of five.

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

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Commentary: Changing (Cigar) Tastes

18 Aug 2014

I was struck by my colleague’s recent review of the Paul Garmirian Reserva Exclusiva Churchill. And it wasn’t the rare five-stogies-out-of-five rating that caught me off guard.

IMG_4400Rather, it was a link he provided in his review to a Quick Smoke I had written over seven years ago. Amazingly, I actually remember smoking that Reserva Exclusiva Robusto and composing my short assessment. It was my first cigar from Paul Garmirian (PG). I purchased it from a tobacconist in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, and I smoked it while my then-girlfriend (now wife) and I were wasting time before a movie.

As I recall, the cigar was somewhat disappointing, especially considering the lofty price and my high expectations. At the time, I had a small budget for cigars, and I had been hearing good things about PG smokes, which came from a small boutique in nearby McLean, Virginia. So when I found the cigar to be less than exceptional, it was a letdown.

I’ve since grown to love almost all PG cigars, including the Reserva Exclusiva Robusto, and they’ve generally rated very highly on this site among my colleagues and me. Of the nearly 1,000 full cigar reviews we’ve published over the years, only about 40 have earned a perfect rating—and 3 of those have been of the PG variety. I lament not living near the PG shop in McLean anymore, where it’s not only possible to peruse an extensive collection of PG smokes, but you can also find PGs that have been aging for 15 years or more. These days, if I were asked to compose a short list of my favorite smokes, that list would almost certainly include a PG or two.

So it’s amazing to think a cigar I now revere like the Reserva Exclusiva Robusto was once a disappointment to me. It just goes to show how an individual’s preferences for cigars can change with time.

I’m sure you can think of examples of smokes you now like that you once didn’t, as well as cigars you used to love but no longer do. If I were to try to put a finger on how my own preferences have changed in the past seven or eight years, I’d cite the following: less interest in maduros, more emphasis on balance over strength, more importance placed on the ease of draw and smoke production, and more attention to texture.

In thinking about these changes, I can see how a younger me might not appreciate the Reserva Exclusiva Robusto. Like many PG smokes, the focus of this cigar is balance, harmony, and subtlety—desirable characteristics that can be lost on a fresh-faced cigar smoker.

I propose that, in some ways, we’re all dynamic cigar smokers with preferences that shift over time. Take note of how your preferences have changed to better understand your own cigar journey. And don’t be afraid to revisit cigars you tried years ago and didn’t care for. You may find them more desirable now.

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Illusione Epernay L’Excellence

16 Aug 2014

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.”

Epernay1

Dion Giolito’s Illusione Cigars makes some fine smokes, but this might be the pinnacle of Illusione achievement. The Epernay L’Excellence (6.75 x 48) is a fantastic Churchill with floral notes and core tastes of coffee, honey, white pepper, and apple. The absence of Ligero tobacco (the recipe is Nicaraguan Corojo and Criollo tobaccos surrounded by a Café Rosado wrapper) results in a smooth, mild- to medium-bodied experience that’s balanced and creamy. Construction is excellent. This is a fine way to spend about $10.

Verdict = Buy.

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys