Archive by Author

Quick Smoke: Tatuaje The Hyde

1 Nov 2019

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.”

The Hyde Halloween

In 2014 and 2015, Tatuaje’s annual Halloween-themed Monster Series releases were The Jekyll and The Hyde, respectively. The former featured a lighter Ecuadorian Sancti Spíritus wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos, whereas the latter sported a darker Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. I liked both, and was pleased to recently discover I still had one The Hyde (7 x 49) in my collection. Halloween night seemed like an appropriate time to revisit it. What I found was, not disappointingly, similar to the review I published four years ago: a medium-bodied smoke with good construction and delightful flavors ranging from chocolate and mint to graham cracker and cream. A little background pepper helps to add balance. I liked The Hyde when it was released, and I liked it last night. I’m not sure I’ll get the chance to smoke another, though.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Sir Robert Peel Natural

28 Oct 2019

Sir Robert Peel twice served as prime minister of the United Kingdom in the 19th century. He is also remembered as the father of modern British policing for his founding of the Metropolitan Police Service at Scotland Yard. That legacy has earned Peel a cigar bearing his name and image, courtesy of two former law enforcement officials: Juan Cancel and Bill Ives.

Cancel and Ives launched the Cubariqueño Cigar Co. in 2015 with a nondescript table at Erik Espinosa’s booth at the IPCPR Trade Show in New Orleans. Back then, they were not entertaining delusions of grandeur. They set a goal to open 20 accounts and produced at one factory (Espinosa’s La Zona in Estelí). Before the show was over, they had sold out their inventory.

Flash forward to today and Cubariqueño is still very much a small, boutique outfit. But, in an indication of their continued success, their blend lineup includes Protocol, Official Misconduct, and Sir Robert Peel.

The latter is made at the La Zona Cigar Factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. It comes in two wrapper variations—Ecuadorian Rosado and Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro wrapper. Each boasts Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos, and each is presented in a box-pressed toro format (6 x 52) with a suggested retail price of $12.

Today I’m examining the Natural edition, which features a gold band around the foot. (The Maduro edition has a red band; kudos to Cubariqueño for making it possible to easily identify one versus the other.) It is a handsome, regal-looking smoke with a golden wrapper and an ornate band complete with Sir Robert Peel’s portrait. Pre-light, there are notes of sweet hay at the foot.

As we always do for full reviews, I smoked several Naturals in order to judge consistency—the most recent of which was enjoyed last evening with my father. After lighting up, we both immediately arrived at the same word: “smooth.” This is a soft, smooth cigar with a creamy, buttery texture. At the outset, I would call it mild- to medium-bodied. Other flavor descriptors include toffee, peanut, white pepper, salt, and café au lait.

Moving into the midway point, the flavor increases slightly in intensity, but by no means does it venture any further than the medium-bodied spectrum. That profile is consistent until the final third, when the white pepper transitions to black pepper, the café au lait transitions to espresso, and a hint of licorice enters the equation. Throughout, there are no traces of bitterness or harsh heat.

In terms of physical properties, the burn line meanders a bit but requires zero touch-ups along the way. Other combustion attributes are admirable. The draw is easy, the ash holds really well off the foot, and the smoke production is solid.

So far, this is my favorite of the Cubariqueño lot. It’s a wonderful, classic-tasting, Cuban-esque cigar worthy of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

 

Cigar Review: CAO Session Garage

21 Oct 2019

You won’t find too many details about Rick Rodriquez’s career on his LinkedIn profile. Basically, it says he has been at General Cigar since 1999, and the only role listed is “blender/ambassador.” Not exactly the kind of detail I was hoping for.

General’s website thankfully has more information about Rodriguez. There, we can learn that he distinguished himself as a sales rep to the point where “General Cigar’s team of cigar masters unanimously selected Rick to participate in a rigorous cigar master training program” that brought him throughout the cigar world to learn about “tobacco agriculture, cultivation, aging, processing, cigar rolling, and ultimately, cigar blending.” Not a bad gig.

Fifteen years ago, Rodriquez’s training brought him to Yuri Guillen, who is now manager of manufacturing at General Cigar Dominicana. “Since then, Ricky’s become an accomplished master blender, and he’s been all over the world sourcing the finest, most unique tobaccos for his CAO blends like Flathead, Amazon Basin, and many more of your favorites,” reads the CAO Session microsite. “With the new CAO Session, Ricky’s gone back to his roots, blending his new signature cigar in the Dominican Republic alongside Yuri and his original team.”

Session, which shipped to retailers in early July, is a no-nonsense, everyday smoke inspired by the many cigars Rodriguez smoked in his garage. It is marketed as a medium-bodied, full-flavored stick for any occasion. The recipe includes a dark Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, Dominican binder, and Dominican Piloto Cubano and Nicaraguan Estelí filler tobaccos.

There are three Session formats available, each packaged in 20-count boxes: Garage (5.25 x 54, $8.59), Bar (6 x 49, $8.99), and Shop (6 x 60, $9.59). They are handmade in the Dominican Republic and employ a “unique post-fermentation treatment [that] deepens Session’s flavor and darkens its color.”

I sampled three CAO Sessions in the Garage format for this review. As with many Connecticut Broadleaf cigars, it is lumpy and toothy in appearance. The dark, thick wrapper has some noticeable veins and an oily sheen. The dual bands of orange, white, and dark blue—from the perspective of this Bears/Illini fan, a wonderful color scheme—loudly proclaim the blend and invite you to partake in a “session” of your own: “Sit. Smoke. Chill.” Rodriguez’s signature adorns the back.

The cold draw isn’t what I’d call tight but, for whatever reason, I find the Garage slightly more enjoyable if I clip the cap a little further down than I otherwise would.

Once lit, pre-light notes of raisin and damp earth transition to a full-bodied introductory profile of black pepper spice, leather, earth, and a faint sugary note. Sometimes I pick up a hint of citrus. Along the way, these same flavors come and go. At times the profile shines, at times it is muted. Nothing too complex. The final third is hot and somewhat bitter.

While the draw and smoke production are solid, the burn requires multiple touch-ups along the way to keep things burning evenly. As a result, the ash—while holding well—does not layer evenly. I found these physical attributes consistent across all three specimens.

While I certainly respect Rick Rodriquez and all he has accomplished, I think the CAO Session Garage leaves a lot to be desired. The combustion issues could certainly be overlooked if the flavor was consistently exciting. It is not, and that’s ultimately why I’m settling on a disappointing 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: Paul Garmirian Maduro Corona Grandes

18 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.”

The PG Maudro line sports a dark Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper around an Indonesian binder and filler tobaccos from Brazil and the Dominican Republic. The Corona Grandes (6.5 x 46) has a profile that’s both bold and smooth. The most prominent notes include cocoa, espresso, black pepper spice (which begins strong but fades into the midway point), and roasted peanuts. Construction is superb. At just shy of $13 ($320.80 for a box of 25), it is not an inexpensive smoke. But it’s also a complex, balanced treat that’s not likely to leave you unsatisfied.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Tip: Turn Your Zippo into a Cigar Torch with a Zippo Butane Insert

14 Oct 2019

It’s well-known that a standard Zippo lighter uses lighter fluid as its fuel. It is also widely understood—among cigar enthusiasts, anyway—that lighter fluid is ill-suited for cigars. This is because, unlike butane, the preferred cigar ignition fuel, lighter fluid (naphtha) contains chemicals and odors that may alter the taste of your fine cigar. You should avoid it, much like you would avoid using a stovetop, a candle, or paper matches.

In order to modify a Zippo lighter for cigars, the first thing you’ll need is… well… a Zippo lighter. Mine comes courtesy of Zippo from the new Woodchuck USA collection. There are eight lighters in the series, each available in brushed chrome with wooden “emblems” on the front and back. Woodchuck has a “buy one plant one” policy, so each lighter sold contributes to the restoration of forests. Mine, a Compass that retails for $45.95, came with a “find your tree” code that can be entered at the Woodchuck website to see where my lighter’s corresponding tree was planted. In my case, it’s Villamatsa, Madagascar.

Inside the decorative Compass shell is a standard Zippo lighter fluid insert. Removing this is as easy as sliding it out of its chrome shell.

When it comes to replacing it, you have two options: a single-flame butane insert, and a double-flame. The former retails for $14.95, and the latter for $16.95. Both are metal, guaranteed for two years, and—once inserted—equipped with the familiar Zippo snap action.

Out of its package, the double-flame butane insert looks like this. It can be filled (and re-filled) with butane via a valve on the bottom, much the same way you’d fill any butane torch. This is also where you’d adjust the flame size with a small flathead screwdriver.

Installing the butane insert is, as you’ve probably guessed, just as easy as sliding it back into the shell. What you end up with is a stylish, simple, reliable, well-functioning torch. At $62.90 assembled (for the double torch, which is my personal preference) this definitely isn’t the cheapest way to light a cigar. But it’s got to be one of the sharpest. What’s more, and while I’m happy to report back later after I’ve used this for several months, I have every reason to believe this will be a reliable torch for many cigars to come.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

 

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