Archive by Author

Cigar Review: BG Meyer Gigantes 56

1 Feb 2016

Gigantes

BG Meyer is an offshoot from Camacho’s “Board of the Bold,” which is comprised of legendary NFL coach Mike Ditka, jewelry maker Matt Booth, and Hollywood writer and producer Rob Weiss. The trio was assembled in 2013—about five years after Davidoff acquired Camacho—when Camacho’s portfolio of 11 brands was narrowed to 6, and when its reputation for bold smokes was underscored by a new scorpion logo.

Gigantes 56Ditka, Booth, and Weiss all have brands that are made and distributed by Camacho, which operates out of Honduras. Weiss, perhaps best known as a writer and producer for the HBO series Entourage, labels his smokes BG Meyer after his dog, Big Meyer. There are currently three BG Meyer blends: Standard Issue, Slackers, and Gigantes.

The latter was introduced last year as homage to the bigger-than-life heroes we admire, hence the name and “amped-up” ring gauges. Gigantes showcases a dark Nicaraguan-grown Habano wrapper from 2007 over a Brazilian Mata Fina binder and filler from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Four sizes are available: 52 (4 x 52), 54 (5 x 54), 56 (6 x 56), and 60 (7 x 60). They range in price from about $9.50 to $12.50.

The Gigantes 56 is a large, thick, bold-looking smoke accented by dual bands of gold and black. While the firm, well-built cigar is not without a minor aesthetic imperfection here and there, it carries an overall impression of quality. The oily, toothy wrapper leaf has a faint leathery aroma, and the foot has a more complex fragrance of dried apricot, cocoa, and earth.

As soon as an even light is established, I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with my colleague’s First Impression: Gigantes 56 “is dominated by earth and oak, though notes of coffee, bread, clove, and hints of red pepper are also apparent.” Medium- to full-bodied from the get-go, I also find some cherry and creamy cashew—especially on the retrohale. The intensity subsides towards the midway point, then ramps up a bit in the final third, which is also characterized by the addition of black pepper and a heavier dose of coffee beans.

The physical properties performed perfectly across my three samples. When you fire up this cigar, you can expect a straight burn, solid ash, easy draw, and good smoke production.

You have to be weary of any cigar with a celebrity name attached to it; you can end up paying for the name, while important aspects like tobacco, blending, etc. are an afterthought. That shouldn’t be your concern with Gigantes, though. Weiss clearly had expert tobacco people guiding him through the development process.

This fine-tasting smoke has a lot going for it. That said, I wish Gigantes was available in some thinner sizes. The 56 is a big smoke, commanding a significant time commitment. Plus, the flavor changes along the way aren’t terribly significant, which means the cigar runs the risk of overstaying its welcome if you aren’t in love with the core profile. All things considered, I’m scoring the BG Meyer Gigantes 56 three stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Illusione *R* Rothchildes

30 Jan 2016

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.”

Rothchildes

I often get asked to recommend cigars with great flavor, low price points, and relatively wide availability. My response always includes the *R* Rothchildes (4.5 x 50) from Illusione, which was released in 2013—and has maintained a welcome home in my humidor ever since. For only $4, you get a balanced, medium-bodied profile with floral notes, cocoa, black pepper, sweet cream, and roasted nuts. *R* Rothchildes is made at Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA) in Nicaragua with a Mexican San Andrés wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. Get yourself a box of 50 and keep them on hand for just about any occasion—or no occasion at all.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: CAO Pilón Robusto

25 Jan 2016

20160118_044238000_iOS

Few cigar brands are as diverse as the current portfolio from CAO. Flathead and Steel Horse are built to attract blue-collar tough guys who fancy muscle cars, pinup girls, and motorcycles. Margaritaville would be most at home with the baby boomer dads and grandpas who occasionally smoke as they grill dinner on the back deck while wearing a Hawaiian shirt. Then there’s Flavours, the country-specific blends (Brazilia, Italia, Colombia, etc.), and holiday limited editions like Angry Santa and Evil Snowman.

CAO PilonOne of the 2015 releases from CAO caught my eye. Called CAO Pilón, the line seems intended for more serious cigar smokers who care about tobacco and probably spend a good portion of their cigar budgets on boutique-made smokes. CAO classifies Pilón in the Classic quadrant of its lineup, which also includes Gold and La Traviata.

Behind the Pilón name is an antique fermentation technique that, according to CAO, comes from eighteenth century Cuba. “This method involved hemming tobacco leaves together and stacking them, layer by layer, in a circular pattern,” reads the CAO website. “While building and tending to the round pilón took as much patience as it did skill, this method of natural fermentation maximized the flavor and color of the leaves.” Over time, “less costly fermentation methods were explored and the standard rectangular pilón was born.”

Crafted by Master Blender Rick Rodriguez, whose name and recipe adorns the attractive CAO Pilón band, the blend consists of an Ecuadoran Habano wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. Three sizes are available in the affordable $6 to $7.25 range: Corona (5.5 x 44), Churchill (7 x 48), and Robusto (5 x 52).

The latter makes a good first impression with a clean, seamless exterior that’s both smooth and dry. Firm to the touch, the Robusto’s foot shows a well-packed cross-section of tobaccos that exude pre-light notes of cocoa powder and musty earth. The head clips easily to reveal a stiff cold draw with a slight sweetness on the lips. I appreciate that the two ends of the band are joined by an external band sticker—which both makes the band easy to remove and prevents any errant adhesive from making its way to the wrapper.

At the outset, the medium-bodied profile carries notes of dry wood, leather, coffee, and sweet cream. The overall effect might be best summed by the phrase “warm tobacco.” The aftertaste leaves considerable cedary spice on the tongue, while the retrohale enables you to pick up a little dried fruit and nuts. As the cigar progresses, I find the flavors remain fairly consistent, save for an increase in intensity in the final third that brings a dose of black pepper.

From light to nub, the burn line remains straight and the gray ash holds well off the foot. However, I find the tight draw and low level of smoke production to be frustrating. These physical attributes were similar across the three samples I smoked for this review.

Draw and smoke production aside, this is an enjoyable—albeit straightforward—cigar with a mellow profile that renders it approachable and somewhat classic-tasting, especially for the friendly price. Some will find it just their speed, others will say it lacks pop and complexity. In my book, the CAO Pilón Robusto is worthy of three stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Sobremesa Gran Imperiales

18 Jan 2016

Sobremesa

I don’t buy many full boxes of cigars. I especially don’t often buy boxes that retail for over $300, or when the only vitola in stock is not one (or unlikely to be one) of my favorites. But in the case of Sobremesa—the debut blend from Steve Saka’s Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust—I’m apparently willing to make an exception.

Gran ImperialesIn December, Florida-based online retailer Smoke Inn had 25-count boxes in the Gran Imperiales (7 x 54) size for just under $303.95, or about $12.16 per stick. It was the only vitola in stock at the time. Normally I’d wait for a smaller size to become available, since my tastes usually skew towards thinner, shorter cigars. After such good experiences with the Cervantes Fino and El Americano, though, I jumped at the chance to stock up on the blend—even if the large size isn’t something I’d typically go for, especially in a box purchase.

After smoking my way through eight Gran Imperiales, I’ve concluded I absolutely enjoy this cigar immensely and do not regret the box purchase in the slightest. That said, the largest Sobremesa vitola is not my favorite format in which to experience the blend, though I’ll relish firing up my remaining stash.

Like its Sobremesa brethren, Gran Imperiales boasts an Ecuadorian Habano Rosado wrapper, a Mexican binder, and a filler blend of Pennsylvania Broadleaf Ligero with four different Nicaraguan tobaccos (Gk Condega C-SG Seco, Pueblo Nuevo Criollo Viso, La Joya Estelí C-98 Viso, and ASP Estelí Hybrid Ligero). It is handmade at Joya de Nicaragua.

More than the smaller Sobremesa formats, the Gran Imperiales looks a little more rustic with its prominent seams and network of veins on full display. Across the samples I’ve smoked, several have had minor imperfections (a tiny hole in the thin wrapper leaf, a little errant adhesive, some ruggedness at the head or foot), but nothing that really detracts from the smoking experience.

Once an even burn is established, pre-light notes of cocoa powder and earth transition to a profile that’s becoming dangerously familiar and pleasing to my palate. Simultaneously creamy, smooth, sweet, and well-balanced, the most noticeable flavors include cocoa, café au lait, cinammon, and nuts, along with hints of both red and black pepper. Sometimes I pick up green raisin, other times caramel or honey.

Notably, in comparison to the Cervantes Fino, the intensity and concentration is toned down. This is the softest Sobremesa in the portfolio so, when you select it, you’re trading strength and fullness for more subtlety and (obviously) a longer smoking experience. Whatever size you choose, though, construction will be perfect. Literally every time I’ve had a Sobremesa—including the eight Gran Imperiales I smoked for this review—the combustion qualities were nothing short of top-notch.

My pledge is to review the remaining Sobremesa vitolas this year (it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it). Many of you, I suspect, are eager to get your hands on this blend if you haven’t already done so, and I’d like to help you select the best size for your palate. In this case, the Gran Imperiales would be your choice for smoothness, intricacy, and approachability. Just make sure you have enough time to smoke before you light it up; you won’t want to extinguish this large smoke before you hit the nub. This awesome cigar is 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: Joya de Nicaragua Cuatro Cinco Reserva Especial Doble Robusto

9 Jan 2016

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.”

Cuatro Cinco Robusto Doble

In 2013, Joya de Nicaragua released Cuatro Cinco to celebrate its 45th anniversary. Only 4,500 boxes of 10 were made in a single vitola (6 x 54) that sold out in just a few short weeks. I consider that smoke to be my favorite Joya ever made, so I was pleased when the oldest cigar manufacturer in Nicaragua decided to revive Cuatro Cinco as a regular production line in 2015—even if the blend isn’t quite the same. Like the Toro I reviewed last summer, the Doble Robusto (5 x 56) sports barrel-aged, Grade A fillers from Nicaragua, a Dominican binder, and a shade-grown Habano wrapper from Jalapa. The lightly box-pressed cigar, which retails for $10.50, is rich, full-flavored, and chalky in texture with bold notes of espresso, dark chocolate, black pepper, creamy peanut, and cayenne heat. It’s well-balanced, well-constructed, and well worth your time and money.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Las Cumbres Tabaco Señorial Corona Gorda No. 5

4 Jan 2016

One of the best cigars I smoked in 2015, and one of only six to receive our top rating, was the Paco Robusto size of the debut blend from Las Cumbres Tabaco: Señorial. So, in 2016, I’m resolving to smoke my way through the remaining four vitolas in the Señorial catalog to see which size best suits my palate. Today I’m reviewing the Corona Gorda No. 5.

Corona Gorda 5To refresh your memory on the background of this blend, recall José Blanco left Joya de Nicaragua in 2013 after creating the critically acclaimed CyB cigar line (formerly Cuenca y Blanco). Some speculated CyB’s sales never lived up to expectations—notwithstanding virtually unanimous praise from the online cigar community.

Blanco, a longtime industry veteran and roving cigar ambassador who is well known for his tasting seminars and extensive travel to cigar shops, headed back to the Dominican Republic (before joining Joya, he spent 29 years at La Aurora). He announced the creation of Las Cumbres Tabaco in February 2014. The venture, which translates to “summits of tobacco,” includes a partnership with Tabacalera Palma, operated by Blanco’s cousin, Jochi Blanco, in Tamboril, Santiago.

The first Las Cumbres blend was officially launched June 2014. Called Señorial (Spanish for “lordly”), it boasts a Habano Ecuardor wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder from Estelí, and Dominican filler tobaccos of the Piloto Cubano and Corojo varieties. Marketed as “full-bodied and truly full-flavored,” it is offered in 5 sizes that retail for $7 to $11: Paco Robusto (5.25 x 52), Toro Bravo (6 x 54), Le Grand (6 x 60), Belicoso No. 2 (6.25 x 52), and Corona Gorda No. 5 (5.5 x 46).

The latter boasts a clean, oily wrapper that’s silky to the touch and traversed by a network of veins that range from thin to prominent. Moderately spongy to the touch, the unlit cigar smells of cinnamon, apricot, and sweet hay. A simple punch cut is all that’s required to reveal a smooth cold draw.

After setting an even light with a single wood match, a toasty profile emerges with notes ranging from red pepper and cedar spice to cinnamon butter and dry wood. Unlike the Paco Robusto, my palate doesn’t find much dried fruit or creamy nut, though there is some molasses and black pepper towards the halfway mark and into the final third. Green raisin makes an appearance from time to time in the medium-bodied blend.

The physical properties were outstanding across the several samples I smoked for this review. Expect a solid white ash, clear draw, even burn line, and above-average smoke production.

In my review of the Paco Robusto, I wrote, “Señorial is the kind of blend that makes you want to expect more from cigars. And it’s the kind of cigar that makes you want to light up another as soon as it’s finished. It delivers handsomely in the departments of flavor, balance, complexity, and construction.” All this remains true in the Corona Gorda No. 5 format, though I have to give the slight edge to the Paco Robusto since—to me, anyway—that shorter, thicker smoke is a little more complex. Still, this is a tremendous cigar, and one that’s worthy of a very commendable 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: Las Cumbres Tabaco Freyja Valhalla

23 Dec 2015

Freyja 2

Emma Viktorsson has a tobacco pedigree that goes far beyond her marriage to José Blanco. “I sort of grew into this business,” she writes on her blog. “Ever since I was barely eight years old, my father, Ake Viktorsson, was a vital part of Swedish Match as a part of the management team and general director of several international areas… Straight out of university, in 2005, I myself took on a job for Swedish Match.”

FreyjaLater, in 2010, Viktorsson joined Blanco in the Dominican Republic, and then followed him to Nicaragua as he left his post at La Aurora to work at Joya de Nicaragua. “I always joined José to the factory, even if it was just for pleasure,” she says. “During the blending of CyB I stayed by his side and watched him do his magic, and when the blends started to be made I was part of the smoking panel.”

In August 2013, Joya de Nicaragua announced Blanco would be leaving Estelí for “his roots in the Dominican Republic.” Blanco later formed Las Cumbres Tabaco in partnership with Tabacalera Palma, operated by Blanco’s cousin, Jochi Blanco, in Tamboril, Santiago.

The first Las Cumbres blend was officially launched June 2014—and it’s excellent. Called Señorial (Spanish for “lordly”), it boasts a Habano Ecuardor wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder from Estelí, and Dominican filler tobaccos of the Piloto Cubano and Corojo varieties.

This summer, Las Cumbres launched Viktorsson’s first brand. Called Freyja after the Viking goddess associated with love, beauty, and fertility, it is intended to bridge Viktorsson’s Swedish roots with her passion for premium cigars. The blend includes a Dominican Criollo ’98 wrapper, a Mexican San Andrés binder, and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

The Freyja Valhalla is a robusto (5.5 x 50) that retails for about $8 (yes, all four Freyja vitolas have names consistent with the Viking theme). Underneath its large, intricate band of gold and blue, it sports a moderately oily exterior that’s light brown, silky, and not without a couple large veins. Fairly spongy to the touch throughout, the pre-light notes remind me of caramel, syrup, and hay. The cold draw is smooth.

After setting an even light with a wooden match, I find a harmonious, mild- to medium-bodied profile of cedar, pecan, creamy sweetness, and white pepper. Neither spice nor sweetness dominates, leaving the overall profile oaky, balanced, and interesting. As it progresses, both body and strength build to the medium level. The flavors also change a little throughout, with varying notes of sweetness coming and going, and hints of tea and clove at the midway point. The finale introduces some cinnamon spice. Construction is good—the straight burn requires no touch-ups along the way—though the ash is particularly flaky.

According to Viktorsson, neither José Blanco nor Jochi Blanco helped her develop the blend; rather, Freyja was produced by the combination of Viktorsson and Geraldito Perez, Tabacalera Palma’s production manager. The duo has crafted a satisfying smoke that’s undoubtedly a solid first effort from Viktorsson—though, to my palate, it’s not at the level of excellence achieved by Señorial, which, to be fair, is one of the better blends I smoked in 2015. All things considered, the Freyja Valhalla 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