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Quick Smoke: Pinar del Rio 1878 Capa Oscura Robusto

18 Apr 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 1878

This dark Robusto (5 x 52) is priced very reasonably—right around the $5 mark—yet it has the presentation of a cigar twice the price. The pigtail cap is gorgeous, as is the clean, oily Habano Oscuro wrapper. More importantly, its taste makes this one hell of a bargain. Once lit, flavors of espresso, roasted nut, cinnamon, and dark chocolate fill out the medium-bodied profile. With excellent combustion, the Pinar del Rio 1878 Capa Oscura Robusto is a joy to smoke and a great choice for a solid everyday cigar that won’t break the bank.

Verdict = Buy.

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Fleur de la Reine Maduro Cinq

15 Apr 2015

So far this year I’ve reviewed three smokes from United Cigar: Atabey Ritos, an expensive cigar that’s complex and nuanced; Garofalo Robusto, a mild-mannered stick that’s affordable, flavorful, and satisfying; and Byron Serie Siglo XX Londinenses, a $30 specimen that’s memorable (it should be at that price) and harmonious.

Fleur de la ReineToday my sights are set on Fleur de la Reine, a line that’s intended to be “rich and bold in flavor and strength.” The recipe includes a Dominican binder and filler tobaccos from Honduras and Nicaragua. Two wrapper varieties are available: Natural (Ecuadorian Sumatra) and Maduro (Connecticut Broadleaf). Both iterations are crafted in four sizes: Quatre (4.875 x 52), Cinq (5.5 x 54), Six (5.875 x 60), and Sept (7 x 58).

The Fleur de la Reine Maduro Cinq retails for about $6.50. At first glance, the band colors and design make it hard to not think of La Gloria Cubana (I can’t say for sure if this was done intentionally). Beneath the band, it’s a rough-looking cigar with abundant imperfections on the wrapper, plenty of lumps, and some garish seams. The feel is incredibly firm, and the foot shows a pretty tight cross-section of tobaccos. The pre-light notes are reminiscent of dark chocolate and coffee.

The initial flavor is sweet with loads of cocoa, caramel, and cream, all offset by a gentle black pepper spice and some earthiness. I can also taste black cherry and roasted cashew. Leather comes and goes, and is most prevalent on the finish.

Surprisingly, after about an inch, the flavor really mellows out, leaving behind a soft, sweet profile that reminds me of marshmallow. The cigar is still enjoyable, though not as much as the kickoff. Then, at the midway point, the flavor fortunately ramps up again, and the finish is characterized by a slight increase in spice, though the overall effect is still sweet.

Construction is good throughout. The burn line requires a few touch-ups here and there, but is otherwise well-behaved. The draw is clear, the ash solid, and the smoke production average.

Fleur de la Reine Maduro Cinq is a good choice if you’re looking for an experience that’s high on sweetness and low on strength, and the asking price is fair. In my book it 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

Cigar Review: My Father Limited Edition 2012

13 Apr 2015

In November 2012, Don José “Pepín” Garcia, his son Jaime, his daughter Janny, and Pete Johnson of Tatuaje descended upon Illinois for an event at Casa de Montecristo.

My Father Limited Edition 2012This wasn’t just any event, as you can probably imagine from the attendees. The quartet was helping introduce the My Father Limited Edition 2012, the single-vitola, ultra-premium follow-up to the 2011 and 2010 Limited Edition cigars. (Each of the 24,000 Limited Edition 2010 cigars were actually personally rolled and bunched by Don Pepín and Jaime; but that’s not the case for the 2011 or 2012 iterations.)

Only 30,000 Limited Edition 2012 cigars were made, all of them packaged in boxes of 12 that sold for $240 (or $20 per cigar). Crafted at My Father Cigars S.A. in Nicaragua, the blend features an Ecuadorian Habano Criollo wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. There’s some Pelo de Oro tobacco present, which has a reputation for being incredibly hard to grow given its vulnerability to disease.

The Limited Edition 2012 is a stately-looking cigar with two ornate bands, each adorned with plenty of shiny gold coloring and intricate fonts. Measuring 6.5 inches long with a ring gauge of 52, the toro has a considerably oily exterior with a few thin veins and a clean, well-executed cap. The foot exudes pre-light notes of milk chocolate, coffee, and dried fruit.

After taking note of the smooth cold draw and establishing an even light, I find a balanced, medium-bodied profile of espresso, cream, bread, green raisin, and vanilla. The smoke is dry and woody with a slightly chalky texture. As it progresses, I anticipate more intensity and fuller flavors, but the only major change is the introduction of an earthy note that reminds me of mushroom.

Construction is absolutely flawless (and, frankly, it should be; a $20 cigar with anything less than perfect combustion qualities would be a crime). Both of the toros I smoked for this review exhibited clear draws, good smoke production, straight burns, and solid gray ashes. Also, fortunately, both of the large bands can be removed easily without damaging the wrapper.

The My Father Limited Edition 2012 is a complex, enjoyable—albeit restrained—specimen that I’d fire up again if given the chance. Whether or not it’s worth $20 is a completely different (and personal) question. I can’t help but think of all the outstanding smokes that cost half as much, many of which have more of a wow factor in the flavor department. With this particular cigar I feel like you’re really paying for the My Father name and the decorative packaging. If you’re a Pepín fan, though, and if you’re looking for something with subtlety and an aura of elegance, this is the cigar for you. I award 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

Quick Smoke: E.P. Carrillo Short Run 2015 Vencedores

11 Apr 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.”

EPC 2015

As the name suggests, the Short Run line from Ernesto Perez-Carrillo is an annual release of a one-time, limited production run (see here for our reviews of the 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 Short Run editions). The 2015 release is just hitting retailer shelves now, sold in three sizes—Imperios (6 x 60), Napoleon (5 x 50), and Vencedores (6 x 52)—of which only 1,500 cigars each will be made. The blend includes a Criollo Jalapa ’98 wrapper around Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos. I picked up a Vencedores single for $9 and found it to have a dark, rich profile of black coffee, pepper, dried fruit, and cinnamon spice. In my honest opinion, this is an OK cigar now, but it has some great aging potential.

Verdict = Hold.

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Nomad Connecticut Fuerte Toro

8 Apr 2015

The Orlando-based Nomad Cigar Co. was founded by Fred “GodFadr” Rewey, a man who considers great tobacco and great blending to be the cornerstones of a great cigar.

Nomad Connecticut Fuerte ToroIf you read through Nomad’s website, you’ll notice a theme of quality over quantity. “Nomad cigars are only rolled with the finest tobacco,” says Rewey. “It is because of this fact, from time to time, we have a shortage. Bottom line, if the tobacco does not pass inspection, it doesn’t go in the cigar.”

Rewey will tell you blending the Connecticut Fuerte line has been one of the toughest challenges in his company’s three-year history. That’s because his approach was to create a standout smoke, not just another Connecticut on the shelf. The result is a line that boasts an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, an Ecuadorian Habano binder, and a filler blend from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

Six vitolas are offered: Toro, Lancero, Belicoso, Robusto, Robusto Gordo, and Corona. The Toro (6 x 52) sells for about $8. It’s a clean, moderately oily specimen with only the thinnest of veins and an effortless cold draw that imparts some sweetness on the palate. The pre-light notes are reminiscent of hay and honey. The feel is consistently spongy from foot to cap.

Once lit, the initial profile is mild- to medium-bodied with notes of cream, almond, natural tobacco, and a light pepper spice. While that flavor description may make the Connecticut Fuerte sound like your typical Connecticut, there’s something about the balance, smoothness, and lack of bitterness that makes this Toro unique. The texture is velvety and the resting smoke is sweet.

As the cigar progresses, hints of cinnamon, white pepper, cedar spice, and molasses come and go. At the midway point, the complexity really shines. There’s a slight increase in intensity down the home stretch, though I’d say the body and strength never leave the realm of expectation for a Connecticut blend. Construction is outstanding from light to nub.

Rewey may have put a lot of time, money, and effort into creating this Dominican-made blend. I’m glad he did. The Nomad Connecticut Fuerte Toro is a great reminder that Connecticut-wrapped cigars needn’t be predictable or boring. It earns an admirable rating of four stogies out of five.

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

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Dram Cask No. 2 Double Corojo Toro

6 Apr 2015

Back in January I reviewed the Dram Cask No. 3 Double Habano, a cigar specifically blended to pair with bold, spicy whiskies. Today I’m examining the Dram Cask No. 2 Double Corojo, which is intended for woody whiskies that are more medium in strength.

Dram Cask No. 2Both are relatively new smokes, released by Orleans Group International and C&C Cigars, and intended to “choreograph the flavors of whiskey and cigars,” according to a press release. “Cigar and whiskey aficionados alike will appreciate the depth of each blend’s complementary or contrasting flavors, magnifying the qualities of the cigar and the whiskey.”

Dram—a term referring to a small amount of spirit poured neat, especially scotch—is subscribing to the principal that “body is as essential as flavor,” so there are four Dram blends that are intended to pair with different whiskey intensities. Dram Cask No. 1 Double Connecticut is on the bolder end of the mild spectrum and marketed as a complement to light whiskies like Glenmorangie and Balvenie Single Barrel. Cask No. 3 Double Habano is for spicier spirits like Bulleit Bourbon. Cask No. 4 Double Binder Connecticut Broadleaf is for smoky, peaty scotches like Laphroaig. And Cask No. 2, the subject of today’s review, is intended for woody whiskeys like Wild Turkey 101 and Angel’s Envy.

I sampled three Cask No. 2 Double Corojo Toros (6 x 54, $9) for this review. This particular cigar is crafted in the Dominican Republic and sports a dark, mottled, slightly reddish Corojo wrapper with only thin veins, tight seams, and a well-executed cap. The feel is firm and the pre-light notes are quite sweet, reminding me of milk chocolate. The cold draw is easy and imparts some of the sweetness on the lips. The band is very attractive and of high quality.

Once an even light is set, the Cask No. 2 Double Corojo Toro exhibits a medium-bodied profile of oak, cinnamon, bread, and natural tobacco. A sharp spice lingers on the tip of the tongue, and there’s a medicinal cherry sweetness that reminds me of Luden’s cough drops. The midway point tends towards campfire, and the final third has earthy mushroom and plenty of cedar. Construction is fine throughout, including a solid ash, clear draw, and a burn line that requires a few touch-ups along the way.

I tried this Toro with and without whiskey. Either way, I have to say it really isn’t my cup of tea. The flavor seems simplistic and underdeveloped, and I’m not terribly fond of the medicinal notes. The Cask No. 3 Double Habano is a much more interesting blend. Maybe you’ll have more luck with it, but I’m respectfully settling on a score of two and a half stogies out of five for the Double Corojo Toro.

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

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Joya Red Robusto

4 Apr 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.”

Joya Red Robusto

It was about a year ago that I first got to sample the blend that would become Joya Red. I was wholeheartedly impressed then, sitting around a table at the Joya de Nicaragua factory in Estelí, and I’m still impressed now. One of the best new releases of 2014, Joya Red is a Nicaraguan puro with a Habano wrapper and a profile of roasted nuts, citrus, cedar, coffee, and a little black pepper. With excellent construction and a balanced, complex taste from light to nub, the Joya Red Robusto (5.25 x 50) is easy to recommend, especially at the reasonable asking price of about $6.

Verdict = Buy.

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys