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Cigar Review: Sir Robert Peel Maduro

18 Sep 2019

Earlier this year, Cubariqueño Cigar Co. announced its newest line named after Sir Robert Peel, considered the father of modern-day policing. The tribute to the revered British policeman makes sense when you consider that Bill Ives and Juan Cancel of Cubariqueño both have law enforcement backgrounds.

The line 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 surrounding Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. Both are presented in a box-pressed toro format (6 x 52) with a suggested retail price of $12.

Today I’m examining the Maduro edition (which features a red band around the foot). Pre-light, it features golden raisins and light spice. The cigar is firm to the touch and, once lit, produces an even burn with loads of thick smoke from a sturdy ash.

It’s a full-bodied smoke from the get-go. Leather, chocolate, espresso, cedar, and cinnamon notes are all apparent. The finish is long with a woody notes and powdery unsweetened chocolate that lingers on the roof of your mouth. There is little variation from beginning to end.

Cubariqueño is best known for its Protocol line. But with Sir Robert Peel they are taking their partnership with Erik Espinosa’s La Zona beyond the basic Protocol branding. The full-bodied cigar has a lot to offer, and its old-school look is a departure from Protocol’s modern presentation.

Full-bodied, slightly rustic, and well-constructed, the Sir Robert Peel Maduro has a lot to offer. It earns the new Cubariqueño offering a rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credits: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Punch Diablo Scamp

15 Sep 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.”

As noted by my colleague, the Punch Diablo, introduced last year, is billed as “the fullest-bodied Punch to date.” Made by A.J. Fernandez, it uses a dark Ecuadorian Sumatra oscuro wrapper, a Connecticut Broadleaf binder, and a combination of Nicaraguan and Honduran filler tobaccos. The profile is pleasant with plenty of earth, spice, and coffee, although I didn’t find it to be the full-bodied flavor-bomb its marketing materials suggest. Still, with excellent construction, it’s a cigar I wouldn’t hesitate to smoke again.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Spirits: Rhum Barbancourt Estate Reserve

11 Sep 2019

The best aspect of rum might be the variety of styles. Broadly speaking, the three major styles are English, French, and Spanish (associated with the countries that make up the former colonies each country).

Haitian distillery Rhum Barbancourt is proof of this colonial influence. Haiti may be on the same island as the Dominican Republic, but the techniques they use to make rhum (note the “h” as used in French) are closer to the distilleries of Martinique and the Guadeloupe Islands.

As opposed to the English and Spanish styles, which rely on molasses, Rhum Agricole is made by distilling fresh-squeezed sugar cane juice. At Barbancourt, it is distilled in a pot still to 90% ABV (considerably higher than most agricole) before being brought down in proof prior to aging in multiple sizes of barrels.

Barbancourt produces a range of rums with the 15-year-old Estate Reserve being the oldest. Unlike some producers which use suspicious age statements, every drop of spirit in the bottle (which sells for around $50) is reportedly aged at least 15 years.

The 43% ABV rhum pours a deep walnut brown color, which unfortunately is obscured by the black frosted bottle. The nose features cinnamon bread, fresh cut lumber, and butterscotch.

On the palate, Barbancourt reveals a delicate combination of oak tannin, brown sugar, butterscotch, tea, and cherries. The finish is long with wood, leather, orange peel, and the slightest hint of pepper spice.

Between the rhum’s age or Barbancourt’s distillation technique, it lacks the some of the characteristics traditionally associated with agricole, like grassy or floral notes. Still, it’s highly enjoyable, even though though it is far from quintessential French agricole style. In fact, in many ways it is more similar to a Bajan rum like Doorly’s than a fellow Argicole, like Rhum JM.

It’s a rhum to be enjoyed neat, with or without a cigar. I’d lean away from full-bodied cigars that might overpower the delicate notes of this complex spirit. Recommended pairings include: Cabaiguan, Cohiba Siglo, Davidoff Colorado Claro, and Illusione Epernay.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Villiger La Vencedora Churchill

8 Sep 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.”

Produced at Joya de Nicaragua’s factory, La Vencedora (Spanish for “the victor”) is a Nicaraguan puro that employs a dark, oily Habano Oscuro wrapper. It has developed nicely with over a year of aging, featuring bready notes, oak, and cocoa along with hints of citrus fruit, licorice, and smoked meats. Construction is excellent on the $10 medium- to full-bodied cigar.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: REO Robusto

6 Sep 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 remember smoking REO and Vibe 15 years ago, shortly after the two were introduced by EO Brands (before EO teamed up with Don José “Pepin” Garcia for its 601 line). REO is short for the blend’s original collaborators: Rocky Patel, Erik Espinosa, and Eddie Ortega. Later, after EO was split between its founders, the REO mark (along with Vibe and Cubao) became Ortega’s, who brought back REO a couple years ago as a bundle offering. The cigar features an oily Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper around Nicaraguan and Honduran tobaccos. After fruit notes pre-light, the cigar reveals medium-bodied tastes of oak, black coffee, and sweet earth. With adequate construction and a most approachable price (bundles of 20 Robustos sell for around $2 per cigar), it’s perfect for budget-conscious cigar smokers.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Big Johnny by Oscar

1 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.

I’m generally not a fan of absurdly large cigars, and this one (8 x 66) seems to qualify. But I’ve been impressed by Leaf by Oscar. So when I recently had a few hours to kill I decided to give this over-sized beast a try. It features a dark Nicaragua Jalapa wrapper around Honduran binder and filler tobaccos. The profile includes nutty notes, rich earth, milk chocolate, and light oak. It’s a pleasant profile, even as it becomes monotonous when spread out over close to three hours. Given the girth (my Palio cutter was barely big enough) I was impressed by the construction. Still, I have to stop short of a full recommendation.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Tip: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Humidity and Just Focus on Enjoying Cigars

28 Aug 2019


There was a time when I stressed over keeping my cigars at a perfect humidity. These days, I’m not so fussy about monitoring my humidors, as I’ve learned to keep all my cigars smoking well without worrying on a daily basis about the readings of my hygrometers.

When you first get into cigars, you read that 70/70 (humidity/temperature) is the ideal way to store your cigars. Soon, though, you probably realize that a slightly lower humidity (62-65%) is often better.

We’ve covered the fundamentals of proper humidity before, but as the outside temperature gets hotter it’s a good time to recap. Anywhere from 62-70% is generally fine. (You can even go all-out and build your own temperature-controlled humidor, or just buy one.)

It’s often a matter of personal preference if you like your cigars a little drier. On the low end of that range, your cigars are certain to burn easily, but possibly a bit quick and hot.

Of course, the first step in proper humidity is making sure your hygrometer is properly calibrated, especially for the inexpensive spring-loaded hygrometers that come with most humidors. For those you can use the salt calibration test.

Eventually, though, you might get to the stage where you don’t even need a hygrometer. I now keep most of my cigars in humidors without one (or I have one but rarely consult it).

I’ve gotten to the point where I’m really only concerned about keeping a select few cigars at their ideal humidity. Over time, I’ve found certain cigars smoke better at slightly higher or lower humidity levels. Thick Broadleaf wrappers, in particular, tend to benefit from a slightly higher humidity.

Other cigars I may pull out of the humidor a few hours before smoking to let the humidity drop a bit before lighting it up. Cigars with a closed foot, which is becoming more common, tend to hold moisture more easily than traditional cigars, so they may benefit from this. The same goes for cigars with a particularly firm draw.

In the end, it’s a case of trial and error, and you may want to experiment a bit. Of course, you’ll want to keep an eye on humidity, and when it comes time to add humidity you shouldn’t hesitate to do so. My favorite way to do this is adding the extra large 320-gram Boveda packs, which do an excellent job maintaining humidity for months at a time, even for the largest humidor.

Ultimately, it’s about checking on your cigars enough to start to know when it is time to add humidity. Once you know how a cigar smoked properly, smoking them (or, at the very least, checking on them regularly) is the best way to keep your cigars smoking ideally.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys