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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

Quick Smoke: Cohiba Blue Robusto

4 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.”

In May 2017, not long after it had been introduced by General Cigar, I reviewed the Robusto (5.5 x 50, about $10) format of the then-new Cohiba Blue. This line sports a Honduran Olancho San Agustin wrapper and binder around Honduran Jamastran, Nicaraguan Ometepe, and Dominican Piloto Cubano filler tobaccos. At the time, I called the Robusto a “satisfying, well-made smoke with good flavors,” yet I also remarked, “I don’t think it’s going to wow anyone.” After about 20 months of aging, the flavor remains the same: cinnamon, cedar, roasted nuts, and a bit of honey; well-balanced, spice-forward, and medium-bodied. Enough to merit a recommendation, albeit not a completely enthusiastic one.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Drew Estate Liga Privada Único Serie Papas Fritas

26 Dec 2018

By now, we all know the story. Former Drew Estate chief Steve Saka, now owner of the acclaimed boutique Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust, began work in 2005 on a personal blend for his own enjoyment. After over 50 blends of testing with Jonathan Drew and Nick Melillo (now owner of Foundation Cigar Co.), a final recipe was arrived at: a dark Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper fermented for at least 18 months, a Brazilian Mata Fina binder, and filler tobaccos from Honduras and Nicaragua.

The cigar became known as Liga Privada No. 9. It forever changed the way the cigar world thinks about Drew Estate, which had formerly been known for its infused cigars.

Despite being on the market for over a decade, Liga No. 9 production is still limited (due to tobacco availability) so the cigars can be both tough to find and expensive. In 2012, to help satisfy sky-high demand and capitalize on what would otherwise be waste, Drew Estate launched Papas Fritas, a small cigar (4.5 x 44) that employs cuttings from Liga No. 9 production. Like Liga No.9, it has the same Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, Mata Fina binder, and Honduran and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos.

Spanish for “French fries,” one of Saka’s favorite foods, Papas Fritas is a mixed-filler cigar that, while not on par with the elegance or complexity of the original No. 9, is a quick, cost-effective way to get the core Liga flavors that made that line so successful.

Those flavors include a medium- to full-bodied combination of spice, cocoa powder, espresso, cream, and white pepper. The texture is leathery. The trademark Liga flavor that’s as noticeable as it is hard to describe—the best I can do is “sweet grassiness”—is also present, though it tends to drift in and out.

True to Drew Estate’s reputation, Papas Fritas has an incredibly easy draw with voluminous smoke production. The other combustion properties are also impressive, especially for a mixed-filler cigar. The burn light is straight, and the white ash holds well.

In 2015, to make the cigar cheaper, Drew Estate rolled out new packaging. Papas Fritas can now be found in 50-count boxes, instead of 4-count tins or 28-count boxes. As a result, the per-cigar cost was reduced from $6.40 to $5.25. “We needed something for fans of Papas Fritas who already had plenty of tins and wanted a better value, so now we’re offering the cigar with no tin,” said then-president Michael Cellucci.

If you look around, you can actually pay about $4.70 per cigar, if you buy a box of 50. And why wouldn’t you? Papas Fritas enables you to get your Liga fix in a quick, price-efficient way, and you won’t feel bad about discarding one halfway through. For that, I’m awarding this cigar three 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: Old Henry Gold Label Toro

21 Dec 2018

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.”

For cost-conscious fans of José “Pepín” García, the Old Henry brand from Philadelphia-based Holt’s Cigar Co. is a no-brainer. This Gold Label Toro sells for $110 for a box of 25, $26 for a 5-pack, or $5.50 for a single. It sports a bright Connecticut-seed Ecuadorian wrapper around Nicaraguan tobaccos. The profile exhibits mild- to medium-bodied balance with tastes ranging from roasted nut and café au lait to dry oak and white pepper. The texture is buttery, and the combustion qualities are solid. This cigar won’t knock your socks off, but it gets the job done for the price.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Cohiba Siglo VI (Cuban)

14 Dec 2018

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.”

Siglo VI

The core Cohiba line, also known as Línea Clásica, launched in 1982 with three vitolas: Panetela, Corona Especial, and Lancero. Exquisito, Espléndido, and Robusto were introduced in 1989. The much-lauded Siglo line—which ranges in format from the small Siglo I (4 x 42) to the large Siglo VI (6 x 52)—didn’t come around until later. Aside from Behike, the Cohiba Siglo VI is one of the most sought-after Cubans. If you can get your hands on one, you’ll find a well-balanced profile of honey, white pepper, earth, and cream—but you’ll also find a cigar that turns papery and sour from time to time. In my view, this makes the Siglo VI really difficult to recommend, especially for the tremendous price the cigar often commands.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Tip: Cigars and the Common Cold

10 Dec 2018

[Editor’s Note: The following commentary first appeared at StogieGuys.com on April 7, 2010. Since the author is currently suffering from a head cold, and since he’s not feeling well enough to smoke, he thought today would be a good day to revisit the topic. Conveniently, re-posting an old article would also get him out of having to write anything new for the day. He figures if you’ve been publishing for overa decade, you deserve a little break now and then. By the way, take note of two specific cigars that get mentioned below; in the author’s eyes, at least, they really date this article.]

Some call it a sinus infection. Others call it the common cold. The medical community recognizes it as a “viral upper respiratory tract infection.” No matter what the name, the symptoms are usually the same: runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, mild fatigue, and possibly a fever. And, like the summertime blues, there ain’t no cure.

The average adult experiences two to four colds per year. I got my first (and hopefully last) case of the 2010 cold this weekend. In typical fashion, it came overnight with a scratchy throat, stuffed up my nose for a few days, and left just as quickly as it arrived. No big deal, but enough to cause me to cancel a few weekend activities.

One activity I cut back on while sick is cigar smoking. I’m not really concerned that cigars will prolong the cold’s duration (although doctors say smokers tend to have longer colds—but then again, doctors say a lot of things). I just find cigar smoking a lot less enjoyable when my throat is sore or my nose is clogged.

I’d never attempt to review a cigar when my nose—the best cigar tasting instrument I have—is out of whack. Recently, though, I conducted an experiment. I fired up a Rocky Patel Vintage ’90 Toro to see if I could identify the flavors I normally associate with this cigar (cocoa, spicy wood, etc.). I couldn’t.

Not even close. I could have been smoking pretty much anything and it would have tasted like chalky, billowy air. As expected, this was a reminder of the huge role our sense of smell plays in cigar tasting and how important it is to routinely smoke through the nose.

Aside from being an impediment to appreciating premium tobacco, my cold also reminded me that I’m far from addicted to tobacco. I went a solid five days without smoking (and I’ve gone much longer under different circumstances, like when I was training for a marathon). Never once did I experience cravings, headaches, nausea, anxiety, or other symptoms common to those trying to quit cigarettes. Sure, I missed not being able to thoroughly enjoy a cigar. But it wasn’t an epic battle to lay off the leaf for awhile.

Now I’m feeling much better. I took my nose for a test drive with a 601 Red and everything seems to be back to normal. Health permitting, I’m looking forward to catching up on some new reviews and Quick Smokes in the weeks to come.

The next time I get a cold, I’ll probably get lots of sleep, drink lots of fluids, and avoid cigars—at least expensive ones. I suggest you do the same.

Patrick A

photo credit: Flickr

Cigar Review: Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Dark Corojo La Pesadilla

3 Dec 2018

When you think of Joya de Nicaragua, likely the first thing to come to mind is a storied firm—the oldest cigar maker in Nicaragua, to be more precise—that has built its reputation on bold, full-bodied Nicaraguan puros. For me, the Joya line that immediately jumps to mind is Antaño Dark Corojo.

Antaño Dark Corojo was the first Joya I ever smoked. It would be safe to say it played a big role in shaping my perception of what a Nicaraguan cigar should be. These days, I’ve smoked enough Antaño Dark Corojos to know that the proper setting for this cigar is after a large meal, in the evening, paired with a nice sipping rum or a neat bourbon. This is the best way to enjoy what Joya calls “the embodiment of the Nicaraguan power cigar.”

Antaño Dark Corojo is a Nicaragua puro with a mottled Corojo Oscuro wrapper. It comes in six sizes: Azarosa (4.5 x 52), La Pesadilla (4.75 x 60), Peligroso (5 x 44), El Martillo (5.5 x 54), La Niveladora (6 x 52), and Poderoso (6 x 54). For this review, I smoked several in the format called La Pesadilla, which is Spanish for “the nightmare.”

That’s a fitting name for a dark, powerful cigar that could be mistaken for an enormous rifle round. This stubby, belicoso-shaped smoke is slightly spongy to the touch and not without a few large veins and several surface imperfections. Much of the wrapper is hidden beneath bands of black and gold. At the foot, I find pre-light notes of green raisin and cocoa. The cold draw is effortless.

I typically prefer to use wooden matches but, with La Pesadilla’s 60-ring gauge foot, I opt for a torch. Once underway, I find a spicy, full-bodied profile with hearty notes of espresso, black pepper, dark chocolate, and cashew. The texture is leathery. Smoking through the nose helps bring out the creamy cashew and also some raisin.

Despite its obvious strength, La Pesadilla verges on medium- to full-bodied, whereas the other (thinner) Antaño Dark Corojo vitolas are decidedly full. This won’t come as a shock to those who understand that thicker cigars tend to have somewhat dialed-back strength, whereas thinner cigars tend to be more concentrated and more potent.

The combustion properties are solid throughout, including a clear draw, straight burn line, and good smoke production. My only complaint is a minor one: The ash tends to be a bit flaky.

La Pesadilla may not be a nightmare, but it’s no stroll in the park, either, and should be approached with a bit of caution. Those bold enough to give it a try will find a flavorful, surprisingly balanced, well-constructed cigar that will consistently deliver.

When bought by the box of 20, you can pay under $6 (and maybe even under $5) apiece for the Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Dark Corojo La Pesadilla. That’s a deal for a tasty treat worthy 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