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Cigar Tip: Check Out the New Smart Sensor from Boveda

5 Feb 2018

As we recently reported, Boveda, the Minnesota-based “global leader in two-way humidity control,” has introduced what it is calling “the best innovation for premium cigars since the invention of Boveda.” Called the Smart Sensor, the device syncs up your humidor’s humidity and temperature levels with an app on your phone or tablet.

When Boveda asked me to take the Smart Sensor for a test drive, I jumped at the opportunity. After all, I’ve been trusting Boveda with my humidification needs in my various humidors for years. Over that time, the only way I’ve been gauging humidor health is to monitor the many Boveda packets I employ and replace them when they feel like they’re starting to dry out. It’s a sub-optimal, unscientific process, but one that has proven to work. (I don’t trust the hygrometers in my humidors anymore; I’ve been too lazy to perform the salt calibration test for some time, and I found them to be fickle, unreliable instruments in the first place.)

The Smart Sensor is currently available at It retails for about $40, or $50 if you also want four large humidification packets and a calibration kit (you probably do). Once the Sensor arrives, getting started is easy. The first thing you’ll want to do is download the free app and link your Sensor (a process that took me no more than a few minutes.

Next, you’ll want to calibrate the Sensor by placing it in a Boveda-provided sealed bag with a small Boveda packet. After a two-point calibration is completed, the device will be accurate within +/- 1.5% relative humidity; the accuracy goes down to +/- 2.5% with a one-point calibration.

After 24 hours, the Smart Sensor will be ready for use. Simply place it (or mount it) within your humidor. You can now check on your humidor without opening its lid from a range of about 100 feet (or, if you want to extend the reach to anywhere in the world, you can use a second device).

Here are my impressions of the product after a few weeks of testing:

  • The app is beautifully designed and easy to use.
  • The Boveda Knowledge Base, found within the app, is a nice value-add, featuring FAQs about cigar humidification.
  • The sensor is small and unobtrusive; it will not hamper your cigar storage capacity.
  • Cheers to Boveda for including an idiot-proof user guide and accompanying video; setting up the Smart Sensor could not have been easier.
  • One of my favorite features is that the app can be customized to alert you to humidity or temperature changes exceeding a user-defined threshold of acceptability.
  • The app also allows to you create a profile for the humidor (or humidors) you’re monitoring, including a name, picture, quantity of cigars, and notes.
  • The only drawback? As I’ve written before, I operate with multiple humidors. The app is perfect for this, but my setup would require me to spend about $200 on Smart Sensors alone. (This is especially concerning because I think I might do just that.)

As always, please note that while Boveda provided me with one Smart Sensor (and calibration kit), their generosity in no way impacts my opinion of the product. On its own merits, Smart Sensor is a wonderful device that will be enjoyable and satisfying to thousands of tech-centric cigar enthusiasts.

Patrick A

photo credits: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Gran Reserva Robusto Grande

3 Feb 2018

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.”

Last summer, we reported that Joya de Nicaragua’s Antaño series would be expanding with a new line called Antaño Gran Reserva. The main difference between Antaño 1970 (a Nicaraguan puro featuring a Habano Criollo wrapper) and Antaño Gran Reserva is that the filler tobaccos on the latter have been aged for up to five years. I paid about $13 (including outlandish Chicago taxes) to take the Robusto Grande (5.5 x 52) for a test drive. In my book, this cigar exhibits an incredibly rich, balanced, full-bodied flavor with notes of dark cherry, espresso, black pepper, and roasted cashew. And, in typical Joya de Nicaragua fashion, it has superb construction. This is one you shouldn’t miss.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Bandolero Traviesos

29 Jan 2018

Havana-born Nelson Alfonso is the graphic designer behind Selected Tobacco, an ultra-premium outfit that produces cigars under the Atabey, Byron, and Bandolero brands. Even if you’re unfamiliar with these cigars, you’ve almost certainly appreciated Alfonso’s work; his firm, Golden Age Visual Developers, has contributed to the packaging and design of many iconic Cuban brands, including Behike (which explains why Atabey looks so Behike-esque).

Bandolero is handmade in Costa Rica with an undisclosed blend. Here’s the origin of the Bandolero name from United Cigar (Selected Tobacco’s distributor in the U.S.): “Between 1717 and 1817, the Spanish Crown prohibited cigar production in the Caribbean and the rest of the American colonies, and although its precious leaves continued growing on the other side of the ocean, the ‘puro’ cigar rolling that we all know today could only be done at the Sevilla Royal Factory [in Spain]… [This] led to the rising prices of tobacco and the birth of the bandolero, an intrepid figure that hid on mysterious roads with tobacco leaves rolled in other countries…”

The Bandolero Traviesos has the dimensions of a standard robusto (5 x 50), but it actually smokes more like a shorter, stouter cigar given its long torpedo cap. It retails for $12 for a single. The cigar has a dark, mahogany-colored wrapper with moderate tooth and ample oils. The seams are tight and the veins are thin. Once the well-executed torpedo cap is clipped, I find a smooth cold draw. At the foot, the pre-light notes remind me of molasses.

After setting an even light with a couple wooden matches, a woodsy, slightly spicy, medium-bodied profile emerges with flavors ranging from cedar and espresso to black cherry and cocoa powder. The overall first impression is one of harmony, depth, and smoothness of delivery.

As the Traviesos progresses, the flavors remain fairly consistent, save for a cayenne-like heat that comes and goes at will, as well as the introduction of a taste I can only describe as natural tobacco. At times, there’s a roasted peanut flavor that’s borderline brilliant—but it’s very fleeting.

While the ash holds well and the draw is clear throughout, the burn line leaves something to be desired. I didn’t have to perform any touch-ups along the way, but I certainly thought about using my flame to correct the wavy burn a few times. The smoke production is about average.

Of the Bravos size (5.25 x 52), I wrote the following in May 2015: “Given the cost, I was hoping for a memorable, complex experience that would make me reach for this cigar to celebrate special occasions. The Bandolero Bravos falls a little short of those lofty expectations. While I enjoy the flavors, I think the complexity isn’t quite there, and that results in a rating of three and a half stogies out of five.”

My experience might have been a little different with the Traviesos, but my conclusions are identical. I award this cigar three and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: MBombay Corojo Oscuro Robusto

27 Jan 2018

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.”

As we reported a couple weeks ago, MBombay recently announced a new five-count sampler pack that retails for $45. This pack is the only way to get the new Classic Torpedo (full review forthcoming from Not to be overlooked is the Corojo Oscuro Robusto (4.5 x 50), a dark, Ecuadorian-wrapped beauty that retails for about $7. This well-constructed smoke burns well, draws smoothly, and boasts admirable balance. The flavor is thick and leathery with notes of espresso, dark chocolate, nougat, roasted cashew, and red pepper.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Commentary: Random Thoughts from the Humidor (XXV)

22 Jan 2018

In this edition of Random Thoughts from the Humidor, I remember an old foe, lament the health of the industry, and ponder how social media is changing cigar marketing.

Actually, It’s CHIP Now, Not SCHIP

Remember SCHIP? All the news about a looming government shutdown—as I am writing this, the House has passed a bill to keep the federal government funded for another four weeks, but the Senate doesn’t look poised to reach an agreement—has brought back memories of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), formerly known as the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Just search “SCHIP” on this site (our search bar is in the upper right-hand corner) and you’ll find dozens of articles, mostly from the period of 2007-2009. This January 2009 article was published and updated on the day the SCHIP tax increase was announced (the cap is, and was, 40 cents per large cigar). As we reminded you on Friday, although CHIP’s “funding” would expire if a government funding deal isn’t struck, the tax on tobacco will remain either way. Fantastic. One silver lining: If and when CHIP’s tobacco tax funding is restored, we can once again claim to be “smoking for the children.”

And the Winner Is… Nobody

As you may have seen at, the site is not issuing an award for best new cigar company in 2017 because, well, there really wasn’t one. “We’ve given the award each year since 2013 alongside a host of other awards; that will change this year and there’s a good chance that change will be for good,” wrote Charlie Minato. “Due to a variety of reasons, chief amongst them the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) regulation of premium cigars, there simply aren’t many new companies that would be eligible for the award.” We should all be alarmed by this. Creation, innovation, and new blood are signs of a rich and vibrant industry. This is evidence that burdensome regulations and taxes are taking their toll. For those who would stroll the aisles of the IPCPR Trade Show and cite the volume of booths and displays as an indication of industry health, I say this: Think about all the booths and displays that aren’t here. Think about all we might be missing, especially in the form of limited edition smokes. Looking to the horizon, absent major policy changes, isn’t it fair to expect more cigar company consolidation and closures, and fewer new operations?

What Is Skip Martin Eating Today?

Thanks to social media, the way in which the cigar smoking public connects with cigar makers has changed drastically in recent years. In the past, if you wanted to converse with your favorite cigar maker, you’d need to attend a huge gathering like Cigar Aficionado’s Big Smoke, or wait until he hosts an event at a retailer in your area. Today, you can simply log on to Facebook to trade comments, messages, photos, etc. Many cigar smokers even tag the cigar maker when they’re enjoying one of his cigars. The savvy cigar makers are embracing this trend, using Facebook to update their many followers about what they’re smoking, blending, working on—even eating and drinking. In this fashion, social media becomes a powerful tool to constantly stay top of mind with your most loyal customers. It also allows the cigar makers to bypass more traditional media options—like industry magazines, press releases, and, yes, blogs—and take messages directly to the masses. If you doubt this trend, just follow Skip Martin of RoMa Craft Tobac and Steve Saka of Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust on Facebook; they’re constantly posting (some might say marketing). I am surprised more cigar makers don’t wholeheartedly adopt this approach.

Patrick A

photo credit: Flickr

Cigar Review: La Aurora León Jimenes Prestige Churchill

15 Jan 2018

“La Aurora was founded on October 3rd, 1903 by Eduardo León Jimenes, a hard worker who was son and grandson of tobacco growers [who]… decided to go a step further with the creation of a cigar brand,” reads the La Aurora website. “The founder was then 18 years old, inherited some ‘tareas’ of land and, with a reduced roster of six employees, a great enthusiasm, and much effort, began to build his dream.”

La Aurora honored Eduardo León Jimenes and his brother, Herminio León Jimenes (the man who “kept alive the family legacy and tradition when Eduardo died in 1937”) with a cigar brand called León Jimenes. While the line has been around for decades, you could be forgiven if it’s unfamiliar to you. The Connecticut-wrapped blend has enjoyed much better sales in the international market, where smokers, generally speaking, tend to prefer milder smokes.

León Jimenes Prestige was introduced as an offshoot in 2011 with intentions of revitalizing the León Jimenes brand in the U.S. It includes a recipe that’s supposed to be spicier and fuller-bodied than its predecessor (though is by no means built to be a powerhouse): an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper surrounds a Dominican binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

Three sizes available in the U.S.: Robusto (5 x 50, $7.20), Corona (5 x 38, $6.20), and Churchill (7 x 47, $8). There are other sizes listed on La Aurora’s website, but these are only for outside the U.S. All are made at the E. León Jimenes Tabacalera factory in the Dominican Republic.

This cigar’s modern-looking band of black, gold, and red makes no mention of the name “Prestige,” though it is easily distinguishable from the original León Jimenes and the Doble Maduro, both of which have red bands.

I smoked several Churchills for this review. This size has a pale, moderately oily wrapper. Thin veins are fairly common at the surface, and don’t be surprised if there’s a thicker vein protruding from the binder. The feel is moderately firm and the cold draw is smooth. At the foot, there are sweet, delicate pre-light notes of hay and grass.

After setting an even light with two wooden matches, a toasty, bready profile emerges with notes of oak, roasted nuts, coffee bean, and vanilla. There’s a fair amount of spice on the finish courtesy of white pepper and cinnamon. Towards the midway point, flavors of cashew, butter, and cream become more prominent. Things ramp up a bit in the final third, but the strength never crosses the mild- to medium-bodied end of the spectrum.

The physical properties are in line with what I’ve come to expect from La Aurora. The burn line is straight with no need for any touch-ups along the way. The draw is clear. The ash holds firm off the foot. And the smoke production is above average.

Put plainly, the León Jimenes Prestige Churchill is an enjoyable, well-made, laid-back cigar with some spice, good balance, and smooth, enjoyable flavors of cream and roasted nuts. For that, 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: La Gianna Natural Robusto

13 Jan 2018

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.”

United Cigar’s La Gianna brand sports Honduran binder and filler tobaccos. There are two different wrapper varieties: Maduro and Natural. The latter has a pale Connecticut Shade wrapper that’s dry and smooth. Once lit, the Robusto’s (5 x 50) faint pre-light notes of hay and molasses transition to a mild, somewhat papery profile of dry oak, butter, and almond. As it progresses, the cigar picks up a little body and adds flavors of cedar spice, toast, and cream. Construction is outstanding. While the Robusto isn’t a bad buy at around $6, it’s a bit too mild, flat, and dry for my liking, which is why I cannot give it a full recommendation. But feel free to give it a try if you’re looking for an inexpensive mild smoke to pair with morning coffee.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys