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Quick Smoke: Intemperance BA XXI A.W.S. IV

5 May 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.”

Much of what I smoke is dictated by which cigars need to be examined for this website. But I also try my best to keep up with old favorites, too. Earning a spot in this select rotation is perhaps one of the highest marks I can give a cigar—a true testament to quality, consistency, and performance. The Intemperance BA XXI A.W.S. IV from RoMa Craft Tobac has been in this elite group for a few years now. This Arapiraca-wrapped lonsdale (6.5 x 44) is the perfect format to enjoy the outstanding Intemperance BA blend, which also includes an Indonesian binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. For the very fair price of about $7.50, you get a well-balanced profile of red and black pepper along with notes of cocoa, sweet cream, roasted nut, and dry wood. Construction is outstanding. A word of warning: If you give this cigar a try, you’ll find yourself buying a lot more.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Debonaire Daybreak Toro

30 Apr 2018

Debonaire got on my radar about two years ago when Drew Estate announced it had entered an agreement to become the exclusive distributor of Debonaire and its sister brand, Indian Motorcycle cigars. Both are produced in the Dominican Republic for longtime industry veteran Phillip S. Zanghi III and Daniel Sinclair, founder of Durfort Holdings, a manufacturer of pipe tobacco, cut rag, and machine cigars.

Of the partnership, Jonathan Drew had this to say: “Phil Zanghi has been a dear personal friend of mine for two decades. When I permanently moved to Nicaragua in 1998, I wasn’t speaking no fancy languages like Spanish, so Phil helped keep me sane, as we scuttled back and forth between Nica and Honduras. He’s been a psychological and spiritual Drew Estate booster from our beginnings.”

Now Zanghi is a booster for his own portfolio of cigars, bolstered by Drew Estate’s extensive distribution network. Along with the Nicaraguan-wrapped Habano and the Connecticut Broadleaf-wrapped Maduro, the Connecticut Shade-wrapped Daybreak is one of three lines in Debonaire’s Ultra Premium collection. It debuted in November and is “the first Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade-wrapped cigar exclusively sold through Drew Diplomat Retailers as part of the Drew Estate portfolio.”

Six sizes are available in the $8.74 to $13.25 price range: Corona (6 x 46), Belicoso (6 x 54), First Degree (4 x 44), Robusto (5 x 50), Sagita-Petite Lancero (5.5 x 38), and Toro (6 x 50). According to Debonaire and Drew Estate, the blend is smooth and tastes of spice, earth, nuts, and sweetness.

I tried a handful of Toros to see how this vitola stacks up. For starters, the appearance is impressive. Underneath the large band of gold, black, and brown is a clean, golden wrapper with tight seams and minimal veins. The cap clips cleanly to reveal a smooth cold draw, and the faint pre-light notes at the foot remind me of honey and hay.

In my book, a good Connecticut Shade cigar has ample creaminess, nuttiness, and a little spice, with (hopefully) some interesting background notes to add complexity. The poor cigars in this class tend to be overly dry, papery, bland, and sometimes medicinal. Fortunately, at the outset, the Daybreak Toro is in the former category. Flavors range from creamy cashew and lightly roasted coffee to white pepper and almond butter. There’s also some cinnamon in the background of the mild- to medium-bodied profile.

After the first third, the flavor settles into the decidedly mild corner of the spectrum with a noticeable drop in both spice and taste. Here, the flavor is smooth and buttery with a dry, oaky character. But it also verges on being too mild and flat. So I find myself hoping for a reprise of the nuttiness and complexity of the introduction.

Fortunately, the anticipated reappearance of the balance, body, and complexity from the first third comes shortly after the midway point and, for the most part, sticks around until the end.

Construction is outstanding throughout, as one should expect from a $13 cigar. The burn line is straight, the ash holds well, the draw is easy, and the smoke production is voluminous.

This is a challenging cigar to review. It has flashes of brilliance, periods of dullness, and a high price tag. In the end, I smoked three Debonaire Daybreak Toros before rendering my verdict of three 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

28 Apr 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.”

CAO Flathead might not be central on your radar anymore, but there’s a lot to like here. 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. The V554 Camshaft (5.5 x 54) sports a low-spice, leathery profile of milk chocolate, espresso, black pepper, and cream with a perfect draw and a straight burn line that requires no touch-ups. These days, you can find this cigar for less than $6 when bought by the box of 24. That makes it an easy recommendation for an everyday smoke.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Fable Fourth Prime Sapta

16 Apr 2018

Back in October, I reviewed the Fable Fourth Prime Mersenne (5.25 x 56), an intense, flavorful cigar that’s a highly enjoyable experience. I made it a point to try other sizes in the blend. Next up is the gran toro-sized Sapta (6.25 x 54), which runs about $11 (not including horrid taxes here in Chicago).

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

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.

The name “Sapta” is “derived from the Indian cultural term Saptarisi, or Sapta Rishi, meaning ‘Seven Sages’—prominent religious figures that parallel the traditional saints of mainstream religion. This size has a personal connection to Mitul Shah through his roots in Indian culture, religion, and tradition.”

Like Mersenne, Sapta 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.

Unlike Mersenne, which starts full-bodied, full-strength, and spice-forward with a meaty texture, Sapta is more airy, almost marshmallow-y, in texture. It tastes of nougat, cream, dark chocolate, and coffee bean. There is little spice or heat. This makes it possible for the aforementioned flavors to shine through in a balanced, harmonious way.

My comments about the construction of Mersenne can be repeated verbatim for Sapta: “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.”

The key differentiation between these sizes is the thick meatiness and grittiness of the Mersenne profile. Sapta is lighter, sweeter, airier, and—in my option, at least—more complex, better balanced, and more enjoyable. I recommend the Fable Fourth Prime Sapta highly and award it 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: Black Label Trading Company Killer Bee

14 Apr 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.”

Killer Bee (4.5 x 46) retails for $7.50 and sports Nicaraguan tobaccos beneath its dark, clean, oily, and moderately veined Ecuadorian Maduro wrapper. Its closed foot, beautiful “linear cap,” and eye-catching band of black, gold, and green makes this a striking petit corona from an appearance perspective. The flavor is bold and powerful with notes of spicy cedar, char, oak, and molasses. Construction is impressive. I’ve had this particular specimen in one of my humidors for nearly 20 months. Time seems to have smoothed it out a bit, resulting in a more complex, balanced experience. Thinking back on my review from September 2016, I enjoyed the Killer Bee more this time around.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Eastern Standard Midnight Express Lancero

9 Apr 2018

Cladwell Cigar Co. was launched in 2014 by Robert Caldwell with a lineup of Dominican blends. The company seemingly came out of nowhere; its cigars debuted only about eight months after Caldwell walked away from Wynwood Cigars, a co-venture with Christian Eiroa, formerly of Camacho. Most people will tell you eight months isn’t nearly enough time to create and execute a vision for a new brand, but Robert Caldwell isn’t most people.

The following year, in 2015, in an effort to reach segments of the market that don’t typically seek Dominican smokes, Caldwell introduced Blind Man’s Bluff. The line is crafted at Agroindustrias Laepe S.A. in Danlí, Honduras—best known as the factory that produces Camacho—using a “their kitchen, our chef” approach. Caldwell says the intention was to make a “Caldwell-eqsue” cigar from tobaccos to which he didn’t previously have access.

Then, in 2016, Caldwell introduced Eastern Standard Midnight Express. Unlike the Dominican Corojo-wrapped Eastern Standard line, which is billed as mild- to medium-bodied, Eastern Standard Midnight Express is marketed as medium- to full-bodied. Its recipe calls for a Connecticut Arapiraca Maduro wrapper, a Habana Dominicano binder, and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua (Habano) and the Dominican Republic (Criollo ’98 and Corojo).

The Caldwell website lists four Eastern Standard Midnight Express sizes—Corona, Robusto, Piramide, and Toro—but, at my local tobacconist, I found a Lancero (7.5 x 42), which cost me $11.85 (not including insane Chicago taxes).

The Lancero is a handsome, firm, moderately oily, Colorado Maduro-colored cigar with a dark band of black and gold and a ring at the foot that denotes “Midnight Express.” While a pigtail cap may have been the intention, the result (likely from packaging and shipping) is more of a twisted tail that’s flattened to the cap’s surface. The foot exhibits faint pre-light notes of honey and dry wood.

A single wooden match is all that’s need to establish an even light. On the palate, the Lancero is moist and woody with notes of oak, damp earth, leather, and some cayenne heat on the finish. There’s also a background sweetness that reminds me of cherry and dried fruit.

There are some changes to the flavor as the cigar progresses. For starters, the spice amps up a bit after an inch or so. Notably, this is a cinnamon spice, not black pepper. Here, I’d classify the body as solidly medium. Then, at the midway point, there’s a heavy dose of charred meat, salt, and black coffee. The meatiness—a taste of which I’m not particularly fond—tends to play  a greater and greater role as the Lancero progresses.

Construction is good throughout. Expect a slow, straight burn, a moderate draw, solid smoke production, and a gray ash that holds pretty well off the foot.

For me, the Eastern Standard Midnight Express Lancero starts complex and promising, only to become overly meaty and salty in the second half. Smoking with a deliberately slowed pace doesn’t seem to noticeably offset this trend. That’s ultimately why I’m settling on a score of two 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: La Aurora Preferidos Corojo Tubo

7 Apr 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.”

There’s no telling exactly how long this cigar had been patiently resting in one of my humidors before I lit it up recently. I am sure the time would be better measured in years, not months. Whatever the case, some age seems to have done the Corojo Tubo (5 x 54) well. I found a well-balanced profile of red pepper sweetness, cedar, coffee, and cream. Construction was excellent. I would absolutely pick up this La Aurora again.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys