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Cigar Review: Aquitaine Knuckle Dragger

20 Nov 2017

Baby, it’s cold outside. For those of us not lucky enough to be living in a tropical climate in the winter, November—with its diminishing humidity and plummeting temperatures—is a stark reminder that this time of year is not the most accommodating for cigars. It isn’t terribly accommodating for cigar smokers, either. Thanks to government-imposed smoking bans, thousands of decent cigar enthusiasts will be thrust into the cold and out of private restaurants and bars that otherwise would have welcomed them with open arms.

One strategy for beating the winter-time blues is to limit your exposure to the elements by smoking shorter cigars. And if you’re looking to pack a mighty punch into a stout format, one excellent option is the Aquitaine Knuckle Dragger from RoMa Craft Tobac.

By now, RoMa Craft—brought to you by Mike Rosales (the “Ro”) and Skip Martin (the “Ma)—needs no introduction. After all, the operation may be small with limited production, but it’s undoubtedly making some of the world’s best cigars. The lineup includes CroMagnon, Intemperance (EC XVIII and BA XXI), and Aquitaine.

Aquitaine has the same filler blend (Estelí, Condega, and Pueblo Nuevo) and binder (Cameroon) as CroMagnon. But instead of featuring a Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper, Aquitaine has an Ecuadorian Habano Ligero wrapper. “This eighth and ninth priming Ligero leaf is thick, oily, and has amazing texture,” according to RoMa.

The Knuckle Dragger (4 x 52) retails for $6.25 and sports a wrapper that’s rustic, toothy, and oily. It is on the firm side and the pre-light notes remind me of dried apricot and cereals. The nicely executed cap, even when only barely pierced, conceals a smooth cold draw.

Right out of the gate, the flavor is bold with a rich, leathery texture on the palate. Introductory notes include leather, white pepper spice, espresso bean, and a bit of a cayenne heat in the back of the throat. A wonderful sweetness, likely a product of the Cameroon binder, adds a touch of cream to balance the blend.

Towards the midway point, the body ramps up from medium- to full-bodied to full-blown full. There’s a hearty nicotine kick. Notes of roasted cashew join the profile. From there, the flavor remains largely unchanged to the nub, save for an increase in spice and heat down the home stretch. All the while, construction is exquisite. Expect a solid ash, even burn, and good smoke production.

RoMa Craft has built its well-deserved reputation on quality, consistency, and great bang for the buck. The Aquitaine Knuckle Dragger lives up to these virtuous characteristics, and it does so in a winter-friendly format that delivers a ton of flavor in a relatively short time span. In my book, it’s worthy of a 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

Cigar Review: Padrón Serie 1964 Prototype Natural (Smoke Inn Exclusive)

18 Nov 2017

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.”

This Padrón Serie 1964 vitola is exclusive to Florida retailer Smoke Inn. It retails for about $12 and is presented in a small, winter-friendly format (4 x 50). Construction is sublime, and the flavor profile includes notes of cream, almond, cedar, cocoa, and vanilla. About five months have passed since I reviewed it in June, and I can’t really detect any discernible changes. That’s OK in my book, though, as this Nicaraguan puro was unsurprisingly wonderful from the get-go.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: La Aurora 107 Cosecha 2006 Corona Gorda

11 Nov 2017

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.”

La Aurora 107 debuted in 2010 to celebrate the storied history of the oldest cigar manufacturer in the Dominican Republic. Last year, a limited edition 107 offshoot was introduced called Cosecha 2006. It sports a Habana-seed wrapper grown in Ecuador around a Brazilian Mata Fina binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The Corona Gorda (6 x 47, $10) is my favorite of three sizes. It boasts toasty, medium-bodied flavors of coffee, cedar (six months of age has softened the spice a bit, but it’s still quite sharp), cereals, and citrus. The combustion qualities are superb.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Drew Estate Undercrown Sun Grown Corona

6 Nov 2017

Back in July, Drew Estate issued a flurry of pre-IPCPR Trade Show announcements, the foremost being the introduction of the new Undercrown Sun Grown line. Sun Grown makes three in the Undercrown portfolio, joining the Ecuadorian Connecticut-wrapped Undercrown Shade (released in 2015) and the original San Andrés-wrapped Undercrown line (released in 2010), which is now sometimes referred to as Undercrown Maduro.

Sun Grown sports an Ecuadorian Sumatra sun-grown wrapper around a Connecticut stalk-cut sun-grown Habano binder and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos. The filler includes one leaf of “extensively aged Ligero from the Nueva Segovia region along the border of Honduras… selected to enhance the strength of the blend.”

“Challenging [Drew Estate Master Blender] Willy Herrera and the Undercrown blending team to create the new expression after finally securing sun-grown tobacco is extremely exciting, as we have tried to secure this Sumatra Ecuador tobacco for over 15 years,” said Jonathan Drew in a press release. “The new Sun Grown continues the legacy of ‘blended on the factory floor.’”

Sun Grown comes in six traditional sizes—Corona (5.6 x 46), Robusto (5 x 54), Gran Toro (6 x 52), Belicoso (6 x 52), Gordito (6 x 60), and Corona Doble (7 x 54)—plus Drew Estate’s familiar, sought-after Flying Pig vitola. Suggested retail prices range from $8.20 to $12.72.

I smoked three Coronas for this review. This cigar has a smooth, velvety, milk chocolate-colored wrapper with moderate oils and only the thinnest veins. The well-executed cap and tight seams exude quality and careful attention to detail. The cold draw is nearly effortless, and the gentle pre-light notes at the foot remind me of sweet hay, earth, and green raisin.

After establishing an even light, the introductory profile is a medium-bodied combination of roasted nuts, salt, dried fruit, creamy butter, tangy mesquite, and warm tobacco spice. The resting smoke is aromatic and sweet with roasted nuts as the primary note.

After the first inch, a slightly sour, papery, somewhat stale taste creeps in that tends to overshadow the other flavors. The spice is now a bit subdued and reminiscent of a combination of white pepper and cinnamon. This is how the Corona remains until the final third, which sees an acceleration of spice.

As for the combustion properties, I’ve come to expect near perfection from La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate. The Corona doesn’t necessarily disappoint in this department—the draw is smooth and the smoke production is good—but the ash is temperamental and the burn, while self-correcting, tends to be slightly uneven.

When you add it all up, the Undercrown Sun Grown is by no means a bad cigar. There are plenty of interesting flavors, and smoking slowly tends to keep the stale note in the background.That said, it does not live up to the Undercrown pedigree; Undercrown Maduro and Undercrown Shade are both superior blends with more complex tastes.

I am interested to see how some of the other Sun Grown vitolas perform. To be fair, the Corona is the only size I’ve tried to date. For now, though, in my book, I rate it three stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Crux Classic Corona Gorda

4 Nov 2017

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.”

My colleague George E has written favorably about quite a few Crux smokes, including Guild, Sports, Limitada PB5, Passport, du Connoisseur, and Ninfamaniac. My experience with the boutique operation—created by Jeff Haugen and Joel Rogers, owners of the Tobacco Grove shop in Minnesota—is very limited, though. So when my father recently handed me a Crux Classic Corona Gorda (5.375 x 46) and said it had become one of his favorite everyday smokes, I was intrigued. After smoking it, I was impressed. This blend features a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. The flavor is a spice-forward, medium-bodied combination of leather, black pepper, bread, and sweet cream. The combustion qualities are superb. A great bang for the buck and an easy recommendation.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Reviews: Fable Fourth Prime Mersenne

30 Oct 2017

Like many of you, I’m sure, I’ve been a huge fan of RoMa Craft Tobac for years. In my estimation, the entire portfolio is well-made, expertly blended, and relatively easy on the wallet. What’s not to like? So when I came across a cache of smokes from Fable Cigars at my local tobacconist, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try a few.

For the uninitiated, Fable comes from the 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 less than two years, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a small portfolio if that portfolio is really solid.) The line “is the story of the number seven and the significance it holds in our world,” according to the Fable website.

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.

Mersenne (5.25 x 56) is named for Marin Mersenne, a French monk who lived in the 17th century and is known for his work on prime numbers. It is adorned by a simple white band with a curious black emblem. On the Fable website, you’ll find the following: “The triangle logo is a minimalist representation of the fourth prime number—seven. Seven lines that form the letter P when turned sideways.”

The cigar’s exterior leaf 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.

Once lit, the introductory profile is full-bodied, full-strength, and spice-forward with a meaty texture. Individual flavors include a sweet gassiness, espresso, cayenne heat, and cedar.

After an inch, the spiciness tones down considerably, but the flavor remains full. The retreat in spice makes way for some new notes, including caramel and dark chocolate. At this point, the core is a bold combination of earth, black coffee, dry oak, and burnt marshmallow.

As expected, the finale is characterized by a reprise of spice and strength from the outset, plus a grittiness that reminds me of San Andrés tobacco.

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.

To put it plainly, the Fable Fourth Prime Mersenne is an intense cigar that’s loaded with flavor. I paid about $10 per single, which seems entirely reasonable given the quality. I suggest you give it a try. In my book, 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: MBombay Corojo Oscuro Gordo

22 Oct 2017

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.”

This MBombay creation was launched about three years ago and sports a beautiful, dark, oily Ecuadorian wrapper. The Gordo (6 x 60) is one of five vitolas in the Corojo Oscuro line. It retails for about $10. In addition to admirable construction properties, it has a dense, rich profile that’s medium- to full-bodied with hints of dark chocolate, espresso, cereals, dry wood, cayenne spice, and salted sunflower seeds. The finish is smooth and the texture is bready. I’m not a fan of this size in almost any blend, but the Gordo is balanced and interesting enough to keep my attention for the duration of the long, satisfying smoke.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys