Archive by Author

Quick Smoke: Paul Garmirian 25th Anniversary Connoisseur

15 Feb 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.”

This week I had the opportunity to visit the cigar shop and headquarters of PG Cigars in McLean, Virginia. (If you’re in the area, I’d highly recommend a visit; I’d venture to guess the small, somewhat cramped stripmall storefront has more cigars for sale that have been aged 20 years or more than anywhere else in the country.) Among other items, I picked up a 25th Anniversary Connoisseur (6 x 52), a gorgeous, delicious smoke that was released in 2015 to commemorate—you guessed it—the company’s 25th anniversary. Like most PG offerings, the Connoisseur is not an inexpensive specimen. It costs about $20. But you get an amazing, well-constructed, harmonious experience. Raisin bread, oak, cedar, mushroom, and salt all combine to yield an elegant, unique flavor. When I reviewed this cigar nearly three years ago, I awarded it our highest rating. I don’t feel any differently today.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Diesel Whiskey Row Robusto

8 Feb 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.”

In May 2018, General Cigar announced a partnership between A.J. Fernandez, the Diesel cigar brand, and Rabbit Hole Bourbon. Those entities teamed up to create Whiskey Row, a new cigar line featuring bourbon barrel-aged binder leaves from a “proprietary process” developed by Fernandez. This concept was “brought to life in 2016 when Rabbit Hole Bourbon barrels arrived at Tabalacera A.J. Fernandez in Esteli, Nicaragua,” reads a press release. “A.J. placed the Mexican San Andrés binder in the bourbon barrels in a special configuration. The tobacco was left to rest inside the barrels, and the amount of air inside was controlled at regular intervals to ensure the bourbon flavors were imparted evenly.” In addition to this binder, Diesel Whiskey Row includes an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper aged for five years and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos aged for five to eight years. The Robusto (5.5 x 52) retails for $7.49. It isn’t bourbon-y, per se, but instead features hearty, heavy leather notes with white pepper, black coffee, and dry earth. In my book, I can’t enthusiastically recommend this; frankly, unless you’re a huge fan of leather notes, it’s just OK.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Commentary: Random Thoughts from the Humidor (XXVIII)

4 Feb 2019

What do Jim Mora, the Middle East, Mexico, and all 50 U.S. governors have in common? They’re all in this edition of Random Thoughts from the Humidor.

Excess Humidity?!?

I had to chuckle when I read my colleague’s piece last week about using Liberty cannisters to rid himself of excess humidity. Immediately, my internal monologue took on the voice of former Colts head coach Jim Mora talking about the playoffs. “Excess humidity? Don’t talk about—excess humidity?! You kidding me? Excess humidity?!” George may be warm and cozy down in Florida, but up here in Chicago I can assure you excess humidity is not a concern. Not in the winter months, anyhow. One day last week, the high—the high—in Chicago was -14. Including windchill, it was more like -40. Suffice to say, since cold air can hold less water vapor than warm air, my cigar storage problem is exactly the opposite of George’s right now. I have the anecdotal evidence to back it up. I use Boveda packs to maintain the relative humidity levels within my humidors at home. In the summer, I can go three months or more before needing to replace the packs; in the winter, I’m lucky if they last half as long. Perhaps you have the same experience. Is there any way for George to send his excess humidity up north?

Two New Regional Cubans Launch

Saint Luis Rey Herfing (5.5 x 54, $17) was introduced last week in Cyprus as a Regional Edition for the Middle East. Only 7,500 boxes of 10 have been made. Meanwhile, in Mexico, the Punch Duke becomes the first Regional Edition for the country that’s not an Edmundo Dantes. It has the same dimensions as the Saint Luis Rey Herfing (5.5 x 54), but retails for double the price—$35. Only 6,000 boxes have been made. The three preceding Regional Editions in Mexico were Edmundo Dantes El Conde 109 (2007), Edmundo Dantes Conde 54 (2011), and the Edmundo Dantes Conde Belicoso (2016). If you’re traveling abroad, keep your eyes open for these smokes as they’ll surely be very difficult to find in the U.S.

Dear Governors…

On Friday, Cigar Rights of America (CRA) sent a letter to each of the country’s 50 governors “alerting them to the state impact of federal regulation of premium handmade cigars.” In CRA’s own words: “Given the potential consequences of these regulations on production and consumption as well as the direct ability to shut down small businesses across the country, CRA felt compelled to alert the governors of the fiscal impact on state OTP tax collections and the potential for job losses and business closures in their states. The letter implores the governors to encourage their state congressional delegation to support legislative efforts to protect the industry.” You can see a complete copy of the letter here.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Partagas Serie P No. 2 (Cuban)

25 Jan 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.”

Serie P No. 2

I don’t smoke many Cubans. While there are definitely good Cuban cigars, on the whole they can be expensive, relatively difficult to find, inconsistent, and typically require significant aging post-purchase. Digging through one of my humidors, the first Cuban I came across was a Partagas Serie P No. 2 (6.1 x 52) that had been resting for about three years. Like most other Cubans, it pays to age this pirámide instead of smoking it fresh. If you can invest the time, you’ll be rewarded with a rich, medium-bodied, well-balanced treat of cinnamon, white pepper, nuts, cream, and cedar spice. In other words, this is one of the good ones.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Arturo Fuente Añejo No. 55

22 Jan 2019

In 1998, Hurricane Georges swept through the Dominican Republic. In its wake it left 380 casualties and over $1 billion in damages. The hardest-hit areas included those involved in crop production—including, of course, tobacco.

Not long after the hurricane, Arturo Fuente experienced a predictable and critical shortage of its prized Fuente Opus X sun-grown wrapper leaf. Instead of postponing production until more wrapper was ready, the Fuentes wrapped the Opus X cigars in a dark Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper that had been aged in cognac barrels. With that, the Añejo line was born.

When most people think Añejo, they’ll likely conjure images of the No. 77 vitola—more commonly known as The Shark. This unique format is best described as a tapered pyramid that morphs from a round head to a sharply box-pressed foot.

I didn’t find The Shark at my local shop; it’s rare, so that isn’t surprising. But I did find a box in the No. 55 size, which is a torpedo measuring 6 inches long with a ring gauge of 55. I bought a couple for this review. Not including crazy Illinois taxes, they cost me $15.25 apiece.

In my book, that price tag makes the Añejo No. 55 a super-premium. Expectations are elevated. Fortunately, the cigar comes dressed to impress. In addition to its toothy, rustic wrapper leaf and regal band of red, gold, and white, the bottom two-thirds is embraced by a cedar sleeve and a red foot ribbon.

I used a double-guillotine and found a smooth cold draw. After putting the cedar sleeve to work lighting the foot, pre-light notes of earth, chocolate, and (yes) cognac transition to a medium-bodied profile of cocoa, black coffee, dried fruit, and white pepper. There is body, but the smoothness validates the message on the cellophane that this cigar is “Xtra Aged.”

At the midway point and beyond, the body and spice intensify—though perhaps not to the degree some might expect, especially those who spend a lot of time with Nicaraguan cigars. The white pepper becomes black peppercorn. The black coffee becomes espresso. Dried fruit (think raisin, apricot, fig) and cocoa remain core to the profile.

I never had to go back and adjust the burn in any way after setting an even light with the cedar sleeve. The other physical properties are also exemplary (and appropriate for a cigar of this cost). The white ash holds well off the foot. The smoke production is voluminous. And the draw is clear throughout.

Perhaps, like me, it has been a long time since you fired up an Añejo from Arturo Fuente. Might I recommend you reacquaint yourself? The No. 55 is another stellar smoke from the world’s great tobacco family. It earns a fantastic 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

Quick Smoke: Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Legend Conqueror

18 Jan 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.”


I found this smoke in the corner of one of my humidors, and there’s no telling how long it hid there unnoticed. Perhaps since 2008, the year this blend was introduced as a fuller-bodied version of the original Excalibur line. Setting fire to the Connecticut-wrapped Legend yields a tasty, well-built cigar that goes well with sipping rum. The Conqueror’s (6.25 x 54) profile of seared steak, black pepper, and woody spice pairs perfectly with a sweet spirit, and its superior combustion properties only add to the enjoyment. Expect a 120-minute smoke that’s more complex than your average bold cigar.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

 

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Diesel d. 10th Robusto

7 Jan 2019

I can’t help it. When I think “Diesel,” I think “catalog cigar.” Back when I was single living in an apartment in Northern Virginia, I can remember leafing through thick catalogs mailed to me by Cigars International, each page making its case for whatever disposable income I had (which wasn’t very much at all). I spent many hours longingly studying the photos and descriptions of all the tasty treats. To me, those catalogs were “cigar porn” long before the phrase became a hashtag on social media.

I must have seen enough ads for Diesel because, on more than one occasion, I ponied up for some Unholy Cocktails. “Some liken a fine cigar to a harmonious symphony,” I wrote of the Unholy Cocktail in 2010. “To me, [it’s] more like a ZZ Top song—unpolished, familiar, simplistic, repetitious, and somewhat heavy. But it’s also catchy. And the price rocks. Boxes of 30 sell for just under $100, rendering the Unholy Cocktail a smart buy if you’re looking for a cheap full-bodied torpedo.”

Diesel debuted as an exclusive to Cigars International and Cigar.com in 2009. That makes 2019 the tenth anniversary of the brand. And everyone knows no industry loves its anniversaries more than the cigar industry; no milestone is wasted without a commemorative cigar.

In keeping with tradition, master cigar maker A.J. Fernandez recently added the Diesel d. 10th to the Diesel portfolio—which, over the years, has expanded to include Diesel Unlimited, Unlimited Maduro, Whiskey Row, Rage, Uncut, Delirium S.E., and Wicked. The three-vitola d. 10th is offered in a Short Robusto (4.5 x 52), Torpedo (6 x 54), and Robusto (5.5 x 52).

The latter retails for $115 for a box of 20, or $45 for a 5-pack. Those friendly prices are in keeping with the Diesel value proposition, just like the assurance of a full-bodied experience is in keeping with the Diesel reputation. “100% full-bodied, 100% full-flavored, and 100% Diesel,” reads the copy at Cigars International.

The d. 10th recipe calls for an Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and filler. The Robusto is, put simply, menacing. It’s toothy, firm, rustic, and black. At the foot, I find pre-light notes reminiscent of cocoa and green raisin. The cold draw is clear.

This is not one of those cigars that eases in to its strength. The Robusto is full-flavored from the get-go with tastes ranging from black pepper, espresso, cedar, oak, and a bit of cayenne heat on the lips. Smoking through the nose serves to amplify the intensity and bring out a few additional sensations, including roasted cashew, char, and natural tobacco sweetness.

Just as I’m about to write off the d. 10th as too much power for power’s sake, it backs off the accelerator around the one-third mark. Here, the notes of cashew become more pronounced, and the creaminess comes through more clearly. Even so, I would characterize the body as on the high end of medium, verging on full. It remains this way until the final third, which is characterized by a reprise of power, power, and more power.

I burned my way through a five-pack for this review. Each Robusto exhibited exemplary construction, including a straight burn line that requires zero touch-ups along the way, a solid gray ash, clear draw, and voluminous smoke production.

Anyone who has been following the Diesel brand won’t be surprised to hear the d. 10th is powerful and cost-effective. It packs a lot of punch for your dollar. It’s also not going to wow anyone with its complexity or nuance. In my book, that earns a score of three and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys