Archive by Author

Quick Smoke: Emilio AF2 Robusto

11 Oct 2019

A couple times each week we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Back in the day, the AF2 line was made for Emilio Cigars owner Gary Griffith by A.J. Fernandez. Since this spring, though, the AF1 and AF2 have been crafted by Black Label Trading Co. (BLTC) at its Fabrica Oveja Negra factory in Estelí, each receiving a “makeover in appearance and flavor,” according to BLTC chief James Brown. In the case of the AF2, the Ecuadorian Habano wrapper envelops a Nicaraguan Habano binder and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos. The result is a wonderfully balanced cigar with notes of cinnamon, cedar, cocoa, and bready cereals. The finish concentrates spice on the tip of the tongue. At $9.50 for a single, the Robusto (5 x 50) is a satisfying treat.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Intemperance Whiskey Rebellion 1794 Hamilton

8 Oct 2019

Nothing says “America!” quite like a tax protest, the most preeminent of which has to be the “no taxation without representation” movement that culminated in the Boston Tea Party. Whiskey is objectively better than tea, though; the 1790s insurrection against the so-called “whiskey tax” shouldn’t be overlooked.

Skip Martin of RoMa Craft Tobac is doing his part to draw cigar enthusiasts’ attention to the Whiskey Rebellion. You need look no further than a certain cigar in his Intemperance line—entirely fitting since Intemperance is an ode to everything the temperance movement was against (namely, booze).

The Intemperance Whiskey Rebellion 1794 cigar line debuted in 2016—approximately 222 years after the actual Whiskey Rebellion was squelched by President Washington. It was initially an exclusive for Famous Smoke Shop, which is headquartered in Easton, Pennsylvania (not far from the route Washington rode through Reading to Carlisle and back west through Womelsdorf to check in on the militia he sent to suppress the uprising).

Starting this summer, the Whiskey Rebellion cigar is no longer exclusive to Famous. It is available to retailers nationwide. It employs an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, an Indonesian Bezuki binder, and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

There are five sizes, each named for a major player in the rebellion. Hamilton (4 x 46, $6.15) is named for Alexander Hamilton, who believed an excise tax on whiskey would help the young nation pay for the Revolutionary War and draw public attention to the negative effects of alcohol. Jefferson (4.5 x 50, $7.10) is named for Thomas Jefferson, a prominent opponent of the tax. McFarlane (5 x 50, $7.35) is named for Major James McFarlane, the commander of the rebels who died in the conflict. Washington (5.5 x 54, $7.85) is obviously named for George Washington. And Bradford (5 x 56, $8) is named for David Bradford, a leader of the rebellion.

The Hamilton is a compact, handsome smoke with the familiar Intemperance band and a dark secondary band denoting the blend. As with other Intemperance lines, the exposed foot shows the binder and filler bunch for about a quarter inch past the wrapper. The cold draw is smooth.

The foot lights easily and immediately offers a unique opportunity to taste the binder/filler combo before the wrapper comes into play. To me, this part of the cigar is drier and spicier and less balanced than when the wrapper is lit—which stands up to reason.

Once fully operational, the Hamilton impacts a profile that’s medium-bodied, dry, and woodsy. Individual notes include cedar, oak, espresso, and thick molasses. The background sweetness has a character of warm natural tobacco. The texture is leathery and, at times, I can pick up a cherry sweetness. Across the three samples I smoked for this review, two had occasional burn issues that were easily corrected with a few torch touch-ups.

From light to nub, this cigar lasts about 45 minutes—which makes it a perfect way to satisfy an Intemperance craving without a significant time commitment. Call me a RoMa fanboy if you like, but this is another winner from Skip Martin, and a great sub-$7 smoke. In my book it’s worthy of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

 

Quick Smoke: CAO Flathead V554 Camshaft

4 Oct 2019

A couple times each week we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

There’s nothing new or especially sexy about CAO Flathead. But that doesn’t mean the V554 Camshaft (5.5 x 54) isn’t a solid, enjoyable value. This blend—which consist of a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper around a Habano Connecticut binder and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos—brings some nice, full flavors to the table. It sports a low-spice, leathery profile of milk chocolate, espresso, black pepper, and cream with a perfect draw. These days, you can find it for less than $6 when bought by the box of 24.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Diamond Crown Black Diamond Radiant

30 Sep 2019

The J.C. Newman Cigar Co., best known for its Cuesta-Rey and Diamond Crown cigars, was founded in 1895. That’s the year a young Julius Caeser Newman crafted his first cigars in the family barn in Cleveland, which is about 1,100 miles from the city that’s been synonymous with the company for decades: Tampa. J.C. Newman has operated there since its 1954 move to a historic cigar factory in the heart of the Ybor City neighborhood.

With so much history—and given this industry’s proclivity to never let an anniversary pass without a new cigar—it’s no wonder J.C. Newman has a few milestone cigars. Diamond Crown, for example, while originally available in the 1940s and 1950s, was relaunched into the super-premium line you know today in 1995 to commemorate the company’s 100th anniversary. Later, in 2010, Diamond Crown Julius Caeser celebrated the 115th anniversary.

Not every Diamond Crown recognizes a milestone, though (which is perfectly fine, by the way; one shouldn’t require a reason to create a great cigar). I am not aware of any special motivation behind the launch of Diamond Crown Maximus in 2003. Nor am I of the newest Diamond Crown addition: Black Diamond.

Launched in 2016, Black Diamond is made at the Tabacalera A. Fuente factory in the Dominican Republic for J.C. Newman. “Eric and Bobby Newman worked closely with Carlos Fuente, Sr. and Carlos Fuente, Jr. developing a new blend worthy of the Black Diamond name,” reads a J.C. Newman press release. The result is a three-vitola line that includes a dark, eight-year-old Connecticut Havana-seed sun-grown wrapper around a Dominican binder and five-year-old Dominican filler tobaccos grown exclusively for this cigar. This “small-batch, epicurean cigar” is made in limited quantities and only available at 150 retailers.

The three sizes are: Emerald (6 x 52), Marquis (5.25 x 56), and Radiant (4.5 x 54). In keeping with Diamond Crown tradition, they are expensive. Per-cigar prices range from $15.55 to $18.25 when bought by boxes of 20; or $17.25 to $20.25 when bought by the 5-pack.

The Diamond Crown Black Diamond Radiant is a stout, pudgy cigar that’s mottled and fairly toothy. It has thin veins and a relatively spongy feel. At the foot are delicate pre-light notes of cocoa and leather. The cap clips cleanly to reveal a slightly stiff cold draw.

At this price, it’s impossible not to have high expectations when you light up your first. Fortunately, the Radiant gets off to a great start with well-balanced notes of espresso, dark chocolate, creamy peanut, and cereals. The texture is bready, the body is decidedly medium, and the spice level is low. The finish is characterized by cinnamon.

As it progresses, baking spices come to the fore and a green raisin note emerges. All the while the combustion properties are admirable. The burn line is straight, the draw opens nicely once lit, the smoke production is good, and the ash holds well off the foot.

I would only change one thing about the Diamond Crown Black Diamond Radiant: the price. I suppose that isn’t a fair way to judge a cigar, though. Price is so subjective. To one wallet, $10 is a lot to spend on a cigar; to another, it’s quite reasonable. At any rate, this is a wonderful cigar worthy of your time, attention, and, yes, hard-earned money. 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: Macanudo Heritage Nuevo Robusto

27 Sep 2019

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief take on a single cigar.

Introduced earlier this summer, the new Heritage Nuevo line from Macanudo sports a golden Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, a Mexican San Andrés binder, and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. The Robusto (5 x 50) starts dry and salty, but quickly settles in to a much more enjoyable profile of creamy almond, peanut, and white pepper. It is mild, balanced, and smooth. The combustion properties are impeccable. While I cannot give my full recommendation given the $13 price point, this Macanudo is unlikely to disappoint if you’re looking for a higher-end morning or mid-afternoon smoke.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: CroMagnon Blockhead

23 Sep 2019

In August 2018, the last time we published a full review of a CroMagnon cigar, I stopped just short of begging forgiveness. “We’ve been operating StogieGuys.com since May 2006,” I wrote. “As a result, for over twelve years, much of what I’ve smoked has been dictated by necessity for this website. And while I’m sure you won’t shed any tears in my honor (despite being a lot of work, running a cigar site is a rewarding, entertaining endeavor), you can probably appreciate my predicament. Sometimes I just want to smoke—and, yes, write about—an old favorite.”

This was how I started my review of the CroMagnon Cranium, a blend that—at that time—had already been the subject of three previous articles at this website. Today, though, I’m not going to any lengths to explain myself. While CroMagnon is nothing new (either, as I’ve already stated, to this website, or to the cigar marketplace as a whole) we have not yet written about the Blockhead vitola. So here we are.

As a reminder, the CroMagnon recipe calls for a dark Connecticut Broadleaf maduro wrapper, a Cameroon binder, and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos from Estelí, Condega, and a small farm just south of the Honduran border. It is handmade for RoMa Craft Tobac under the direction of Skip Martin at the Fabrica de Tabacos NicaSueño S.A. factory in Estelí.

Blockhead (6 x 54) is box-pressed. It retails for about $11 for a single, or $100 for a box of 10. Not unlike the Cranium, it has a dark, reddish exterior leaf with moderate oils, plenty of tooth, and a couple noticeable veins. At the foot, the pre-light notes remind me of dark chocolate and syrup. The rough cap clips cleanly, and the cold draw is nearly effortless—noticeably clearer, in my opinion, than the Cranium.

Once lit, the body seems to be less intense than other CroMagon cigars. While it’s still a thick, leathery cigar with notes of black pepper, espresso, and chalky earth, the familiar char has been replaced with sweet notes: honey, graham cracker, and Cuban coffee with sugar.

In my previous comments about the Cranium, I had written, “To write this off as a power-bomb would be to overlook the expert blending that so clearly went into the cigar’s creation. There’s a complexity and balance here that’s often missing from many straightforwardly strong cigars. Creamy peanut, dark chocolate, and hickory add layers. And the strength level dips and surges—an effective strategy that ensures interest is not lost.”

With the Blockhead, all those supremely tasty flavors are there. But the aforementioned sweetness continues to surge along the way. As the cigar progresses, the combustion properties are stellar. The smoke production is voluminous, the ash holds well, the burn line is straight, and the draw is smooth.

I think this is my favorite CroMagnon vitola—and that’s saying something. What an immensely satisfying, well-balanced smoke. I’m settling on a deservedly wonderful score 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: Hoyo de Monterrey Dark Sumatra La Amistad Media Noche

20 Sep 2019

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief take on a single cigar.

General Cigar Co. has revived the Hoyo Dark Sumatra line—formerly made at the HATSA factory in Honduras—this time in partnership with A.J. Fernandez in Nicaragua. While the factory and country of origin have changed, the blend remains the same as the original Dark Sumatra: a dark Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper, Connecticut Broadleaf binder, and a three-country filler blend of Dominican, Honduran, and Nicaraguan tobaccos. The Media Noche (5.75 x 54, $8.49) is one of three sizes. It is full-bodied, rich, and packed with deep flavors ranging from cocoa and espresso to earth and roasted nuts. Construction is solid, especially for such a large cigar. This isn’t the first time A.J. Fernandez has collaborated with General for the Hoyo brand (La Amistad Gold, Silver, and Black). But it might be my favorite Hoyo collaboration to date.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys