Archive by Author

Quick Smoke: Drew Estate Nica Rustica El Brujito

23 May 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.”

Nica Rustica

As we reported yesterday, Drew Estate has announced a new Nica Rustica size called Belly (7.5 x 54, $7.95) that will be available nationally in September. For now, the only size in the blend is El Brujito (6 x 52), a toro that boasts a rich, full-bodied profile of black pepper, coffee, and leather with some vegetal notes and excellent construction. This Connecticut Broadleaf-wrapped smoke is an excellent way to help satiate that Liga No. 9 craving at a fraction of the price. Of course, Nica Rustica isn’t quite the cigar Liga No. 9 is, but it’s nice to get some similar flavors and textures without worrying about cost or scarcity.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: La Aurora 1495 Robusto

20 May 2015

The premium cigar industry’s annual trade show is just around the corner, and that means we’ll all soon be bombarded with a bevy of new releases, marketing hype, and dozens of cigars claiming to be the next best thing. Earlier this week, my colleague penned a thoughtful piece about keeping things in perspective this time of year. For me, it was a reminder to revisit some old favorites before the mad rush to sample and size-up the many new blends.

La Aurora 1495 RobustoThat same colleague also recently reviewed the Churchill vitola from La Aurora 1495, a blend that’s been around seemingly forever. It prompted me to dig through my stash, where I was pleased to discover a five-pack of 1495 Robustos that had been aging for at least a year (probably more like three to four years). In the spirit of revisiting old favorites, I decided a review was in order.

By way of background, La Aurora 1495 commemorates the founding of the city of Santiago de los Caballeros in the Dominican Republic (no, the oldest cigar maker on the island hasn’t been crafting cigars for 520 years—more like 112 years). “Made from six different types of tobacco, Aurora 1495 is ideal for connoisseurs who prefer a medium- to full-bodied smoke that combines a variety of aromas and offers a flavor of incredible complexity and richness,” according to La Aurora’s website. It boasts an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper around a Dominican Corojo binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua, Peru, and the Dominican Republic.

The 1495 Robusto (5 x 50) can be found for about $3-4 when bought by the box of 25, or about $5 when bought as a single. Despite those prices, in no way does this cigar look cheap once out of the cellophane. The dark, mottled, sun-grown wrapper has a tremendous oily sheen and great texture. The feel is consistently firm, and the pre-light notes remind me of raisin and cocoa.

The flavor starts with black pepper, leather, and tea, buoyed by a core of natural tobacco and a medium dose of Ligero strength with some spice on the aftertaste. Smoke production is slightly above average. After an inch, the spice calms a bit to make way for oak and a creamy sweetness, both of which add balance. At times some bitterness creeps in. The finale witnesses a return to spice.

The physical properties are befitting a cigar from La Aurora. Expect an even burn, solid gray ash, and smooth draw. I found these characteristics to be consistent across all of my samples.

La Aurora’s 1495 Robusto isn’t going to blow anyone away, but it offers a well-balanced, classic profile with medium strength and enough changes along the way to hold your interest. Keep it in mind if you’re looking for a respectable, cost-effective smoke. It earns three and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Abaddon (Blue Havana Exclusive)

16 May 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.”

Abbadon Blue Havana

In August 2013—about a month before this RoMa Craft creation was launched as an exclusive for Blue Havana, a Chicago tobacconist—I published a glowing review of Abbadon. In December 2014, I found myself buying a 12-pack. I’m glad I did. Six months of age haven’t changed the cigar much, and that’s OK with me. Abbadon (6.25 x 52, $8.15) still packs a good punch, and it brings a lot of complexity to the table. The Nicaraguan Habano wrapper, coupled with a Brazilian Mata Fina binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, yields a supremely enjoyable taste of coffee, roasted nuts, leather, and a touch of sweetness. There’s probably good aging potential here, but I’m probably not patient enough to find out for sure.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Commentary: Random Thoughts from the Humidor (XX)

13 May 2015

In this edition of Random Thoughts from the Humidor, I ponder the proper way to let a cigar die, a method to repair wrapper damage, and beetle season.


Die an Honorable Death

We’ve all read—and probably also heard it said—that you should never stub out your finished cigar. Rather, you should simply let the cigar rest in an ashtray until it has extinguished itself from a lack of puffing. The reasoning behind this, it is said, is that mashing the cigar like a cigarette will produce a stale odor, and the practice is therefore impolite. Perhaps there’s a chemical justification for this policy. I’m not sure. But I decided to do my own personal experiment (albeit with a small sample size) and found that, yes, on the margin, cigars that are stubbed tend to produce a slightly foul odor, whereas cigars that breath their last breaths on their own tend to smell much as they did when they were fully lit. The difference, however, is usually negligible. That said, I never like to stub out my cigars regardless. I just don’t like to see a hand-crafted work of art get crushed into oblivion. I like to think each well-made cigar deserves an honorable death.

Wrapper Damage

As much as we try to avoid it, sometimes a cigar’s wrapper will tear or crack, or the seam will start to unravel a bit. Sometimes this is the result of shipping damage. Sometimes (frustratingly) it occurs when you remove the band while smoking. Sometimes it’s the result of poor storage. Whatever the reason, wrapper damage is going to happen from time to time. If you’re lucky—and if the tear is small—a little saliva could do the trick. If not, you may want to try more drastic measures. For these situations, keep a little pectin or vegetable glue on hand. This is the same non-toxic stuff cigar makers use to glue the bands on their cigars. Having some may mean the difference between smokable and non-smokable.

Meet the Beetles

Temperatures are warming up across most of the country. For cigar smokers, that means it should be a little easier to maintain humidor humidity. But it also means temperature needs to be monitored in order to prevent an outbreak of the dreaded tobacco beetle. Remember: High temperatures, particularly those above 75 degrees Fahrenheit, are conducive to eggs hatching, so keeping your humidors below 70 degrees. The best way to deal with tobacco beetles is to prevent them in the first place. If you’re unfortunate enough to experience an outbreak, you can read our materials on how to battle the beetles here and here.

Patrick A

photo credit: Flickr

Cigar Review: Perdomo 20th Anniversary Sun Grown Churchill

11 May 2015

Perdomo is one of those brands that takes a straightforward, traditional approach to cigar making, marketing, and branding. While there’s nothing wrong with the company’s classic style, Perdomo never quite seems to grab the limelight—at least to me, anyways.

Perdomo 20th Anni ChurchillSo perhaps it’s no surprise that I’m just now getting around to smoking the 20th Anniversary Sun Grown, which debuted back in the summer of 2012 (there’s also a 20th Anniversary Maduro). This Nicaraguan puro includes high-priming tobaccos from Perdomo’s farms in Estelí, Condega, and Jalapa. The Cuban-seed wrapper is aged 6 years, then an additional 14 months in bourbon barrels.

Six vitolas are available: Robusto (5 x 56), Epicure (6 x 56), Gordo (6 x 60), Torpedo (6.5 x 54), Corona Grande (6.5 x 48), and Churchill (7 x 56). The latter retails for about $9 and comes complete with a soft box-press, only thin veins, moderate oils, and faint pre-light notes of hay and cream. The cold draw has just the right level of resistance.

Once lit, you’re immediately hit with a rich sun-grown sweetness and some notes of wood and dried fruit, particularly apricot. The undertones are straight natural tobacco, and the texture is bready. In the background, you’ll find hints of coffee, sweet cream, and peanut. The resting smoke is incredibly sweet. Spice is present—as you’d expect from a Nicaraguan puro—but the black pepper is definitely not as dominant as you’d think.

I’ve plowed through a five-pack of Churchills over the past couple weeks. This is one of those flavor profiles that really grows on you. While all of my samples were consistent in terms of flavor, I found the last to be much more enjoyable than the first. In other words, the 20th Anniversary Sun Grown blend is like an album you need to listen to a few times before you really start to appreciate.

Construction-wise, I have no complaints. The burn line may require a touch-up along the way but, for the most part, the Churchill smokes evenly and slowly. The ash holds firm off the foot. The smoke production is above average.

I haven’t yet tried any of the other Sun Grown vitolas. You can bet I will, especially since my only real complaint is the large Churchill format tends to overstay its welcome a bit—particularly since there are few flavor changes along the way. I’d wager the Robusto or Corona Grande would be more up my alley.

That said, this is an interesting, satisfying, sweet specimen, and a good value at about $9. It earns three and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Epicurean Carnavale Lancero

4 May 2015

CarnavaleOn Friday, it was announced that Gary Griffith had stepped down as head of Emilio Cigars, House of Emilio (the distribution arm of Emilio and several other boutique lines), and the Delaware Cigars retail shops. The announcement referred to this development as Griffith’s “retirement,” noting “his legacy will continue through the brands he’s helped, the distribution company he led, and the cigars that he blended.”

One of the brands Griffith “helped” is Epicurean, which is still part of the House of Emilio. “Epicurean Cigars was created under the careful eye of Steven Ysidron with its focus on handcrafted, small-batch salon cigars,” reads the Epicurean website. “Steven started making cigars in the late 1980s with his father and the Fuente family in the Dominican Republic. In 1999, Steven and his family started producing cigars in Nicaragua.”

Epicurean boasts brands like Gonzo Santeria, AG Vintage 2007, AG Azul Vintage 2008, Santeria Mojo, and Gonzo Vintage 2007. Last September, the Plasencia-made Epicurean Carnavale started hitting retailers in 4 sizes that retail for $9-10 apiece. The blend features a Jalapa Habano Oscuro wrapper around American, Honduran, and Nicaraguan tobaccos (including ASP Estelí Ligero, which are some of the most sought-after leaves around).

The box-pressed Carnavale Lancero samples I smoked for this review all had seamless surfaces and only the thinnest veins. The feel is moderate to moderately soft, and a simple V-cut is all that’s needed to establish an easy cold draw. Off the foot, there’s plenty of pre-light sweetness and earth.

Once underway, the initial profile has plenty of oak and dried fruit with lingering cedar spice. From there, coffee takes center stage, while some sweet chocolaty notes add balance. The texture is bready. Black pepper only becomes evident with frequent puffing, especially if smoked through the nose. At the midway point and beyond, there’s ample bitterness, salt, and earth along with rich tastes of espresso and cocoa.

Construction is solid with average smoke production, a stable ash, smooth draw (especially for a Lancero), and a mostly straight burn line that requires only a few touch-ups along the way.

I’d recommend the Epicurean Carnavale Lancero to anyone looking for a medium-bodied, coffee-centric Lancero. While some additional age would likely round off the edges, right out of the gate this cigar is worthy of an admirable rating of three and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Drew Estate Liga Privada Único Serie UF-13 Dark

3 May 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.”

UF-13 Drew Estate

The UF-13 comes pre-loaded with the pedigree of its Único Serie predecessors. And the cigar is also beautiful, what with its unique cap and gorgeous Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. Fortunately, I can say with a great degree of certainty that you won’t be disappointed by this $14 smoke—that is, if you can find it. Dark chocolate, charred oak, and fleeting sweet notes characterize the full-bodied profile. And in keeping with the Drew Estate tradition, construction is top-notch.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys