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Cigar Review: Hoyo de Monterrey Hermoso No. 4 Añejados (Cuban)

19 Apr 2018

The premise of Habanos’ new Añejados line, first introduced in 2015, is simple: Cuban cigars aged for at least five years in their box before being released. The appeal is obvious, too.

Cuba’s national cigar maker has a reputation for distributing cigars that, even if not obviously under-aged, benefited from extended post-purchase aging. Now, rather than age the cigars yourself, you can pay a premium for cigars with five to eight years of age.

The Hoyo de Monterrey Hermoso No. 4 Añejados was introduced in early 2016, along with the Partagás Corona Gorda Añejados. (In 2015, the original Añejados offerings consisted of a Romeo y Julieta Píramides and the Montecristo Churchill.)

The Hoyo de Monterrey Hermoso No. 4 Añejados is a new size (5 x 48) for the Cuban Hoyo de Monterrey lineup. I purchased two samples for about 18 euros each, including taxes.

The cigar features solid construction despite it’s slightly spongy touch, a frequent characteristic of Cuban cigars. But combustion is excellent, with a open draw, even burn, and solid ash.

The dominant flavors include balanced cedar and café au lait. There’s also hickory notes along with subtle clove, especially towards the second half of the cigar.

This is a good Cuban cigar, with medium-bodied flavors, though it’m not sure it is far better than a standard Cuban Hoyo de Monterrey that has a year or two of age.

Ultimately, you pay a premium for an assurance of a cigar that isn’t underaged, but the balanced, rich flavors of Hoyo de Monterrey Hermoso No. 4 Añejados still earns it a very solid rating of four and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Habanos/Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Illusione 888 Maduro

15 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.”

All things being equal, I’m not a big fan of cigars that employ Mexican San Andrés wrappers. But this Churchill-sized Illusione, which has over three years of age and also uses Nicaraguan Criollo ’98 and Corojo ’99 tobaccos, is no average Mexican Maduro. It features a medium-bodied combination of oak, cocoa, slight clove, wood, and leather. The complex smoke has a flawless burn, including a sturdy ash that holds for a full two inches.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Spirits: Talisker Storm Single Malt

11 Apr 2018

In recent years, single malt distilleries have introduced a number of new scotches that lack a statement of age, commonly called No Age Statement (NAS) whiskey. It’s easy to dismiss these new introductions as attempts to grab extra dollars from consumers and sell younger whiskey at premium prices.

In many cases, this reaction is accurate. Single malt distilleries don’t have enough properly aged whiskey, so they release NAS whiskey while discontinuing, or raising the prices of, their offerings with age statements.

But there are some genuinely interesting NAS offerings. For my tastes, Talisker Storm is one of them. The distillery on the Isle of Skye introduced Talisker Storm to its line of offerings in 2013. According to reports, Storm is a mixture of single malt between 3 and 25 years old.

The result is a single malt that shows off the light peat and smokiness of the Talisker 10, but with additional intense sweetness. The nose features light smoke and brine along with honey and floral notes.

On the palate, the complexity shines through with classic Talisker smoke and light peat combined with oak, sticky butterscotch, pineapple, and rum cake. The finish features more intense smokiness mixed with honey and pepper.

Talisker Storm is priced similarly to Talisker 10 ($50-60), but it is the better, more interesting (if less classic) single malt.

For those getting into scotch, I’ve often recommended Taliskler 10 as the gateway (as in, if you like it, try these next) to the more singularly peated Islays like Ardbeg 10, Laphroaig 10, and Lagavulin 16. That would make Talisker Storm a slightly different gateway towards some of my favorite Islays (which feature significant sweetness on top of the classic peat) like Ardbeg Uigeadail, Laphroaig Loreor Cairdeas, and Lagavulin Distillers Edition. (In many ways, Talisker Storm reminds me of a slightly less rich, but more affordable and not limited, Talisker Distillers Edition.)

Pair Talisker Storm with a medium- or full-bodied Broadleaf-wrapped cigar like the Liga Privada No. 9 or Tatuaje Reserva Broadleaf Collection Havana Cazadores.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Tatuaje Blend 4 (Saints & Sinners 2017)

8 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.”

Each year I look forward to receiving the Tatuaje Saints & Sinners member exclusive smoke kit. Details on the blends are limited, but 2017’s “Blend 4” is a robusto with a Broadleaf wrapper. It’s a powerhouse of a cigar with damp earth, dark roast coffee, and pepper. Construction of the full-flavored cigar was flawless, and it’s one of the best cigars I’ve smoked this year.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Spirits: The GlenDronach 18 Allardice

4 Apr 2018

About this time last year I was singing the praises of GlenDronach 15 Revival, “a rich (but not syrupy), balanced combination of figs, raisins, toffee, orange marmalade, and clove.”

Sadly, GlenDronach 15 has been discontinued (or at least put on hiatus). Now the line jumps from the 12 year to the 18 year, and in price from around $60 for the former to $110 or more for the latter.

GlenDronach named its 18 year single malt after John Allardice, founder of the distillery in 1826. Allardice inherited the land where the distillery was built, and named it after the Glendronac Burn, which supplied water for the operation.

GlenDronach is known for its exclusive use of sherry cask-aged single malt in the 12 year and older varieties (more recently, a peated variety, a dual bourbon, and a sherry cask 8 year GlenDronach have been added to the line). Two years ago, the distillery was acquired by American spirits giant Brown-Forman (owner of Jack Daniels, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, and other brands). You might hope this would lead to wider distribution within the U.S. but, so far, anything beyond GlenDronach 12 is still difficult to find.

The 18 year Allardice is matured exclusively in Spanish Oloroso sherry casks and bottled at 46% ABV. It is not chill-filtered and is naturally colored (without the caramel coloring that some scotch whiskies use). The nose is rich with dried fruit, fudge, and caramel.

On the palate, Allardice is subtle, complex, and rich. Dates, prunes, figs, and especially raisins bring classic sherry notes, which combine with orange peel, roast hazelnuts, and pound cake. The finish is long but soft, with fruit cake and caramel.

Price aside, I slightly prefer the 15 year GlenDronach to the 18. But both are excellent, sherry-forward, sophisticated single malts. I’ve touted GlenDronach 18 as similar to Macallan 18 Sherry Oak at half the price; while the cost of both keeps creeping up, this is still true.

This is a single malt that needs a well-balanced cigar pairing, or else you will miss the subtitles. Think a mild- or medium-bodied cigar like the Davidoff Grand Cru, Illusione EpernayPaul Garmirian Gourmet, or Cuban Cohiba Siglo.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: El Galan Campestre Habano Toro

1 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.”

This bundle cigar is made by Felix Mesa of El Galan and features a Habano wrapper around Nicaraguan filler. The value-potential is obvious (20-count bundles can be found for $30) but like all bundle cigars the question is if it can over perform its price. Construction was better than I expected with a slightly spongy feel leading to a loose draw but otherwise it had an even burn that didn’t require any re-lights. Flavor isn’t particularly complex, but it is a medium-bodied and lacking of any bitterness, with earth, wood and mild coffee notes. No one will mistake this for a top, premium-priced offering but its as good as many cigars twice its price.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

News: FDA Again Considers Premium Cigar Exemption

26 Mar 2018

FDA-cigars-large

Handmade cigar industry groups supported President Trump’s appointment of Dr. Scott Gottlieb as the head of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Now they will see if that support was deserved.

On Friday, the agency announced its intent to seek comments about reconsidering existing regulations of premium cigars. The 90-day comment period opens today (Monday, March 26) and runs through June 25.

Here is the FDA’s summary of its action:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is issuing this advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) to obtain information related to the regulation of premium cigars under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), as amended by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act), and regulations regarding the sale and distribution of tobacco products. Specifically, this ANPRM is seeking comments, data, research results, or other information that may inform regulatory actions FDA might take with respect to premium cigars.

In the notice, the FDA asks for “comments, data, research results, and other information related to the following topics: (1) definition of premium cigars, (2) use patterns of premium cigars, and (3) public health considerations associated with premium cigars.”

The request for comments also zeros in on an issue regarding the definition of youth (something we raised about the original 499-page deeming document): “Please provide any evidence or other information supporting your comments. Also, provide the definition of ‘premium cigar,’ ‘youth,’ and ‘young adult’ used for the studies, information, or views provided in your responses.”

The document specifically asks for additional research that might not have been considered when the FDA made the decision to not exempt premium cigars from their deeming rules in 2016. It specifically notes the PATH study published last September that reinforced the idea that different types of cigars have vastly different usage patterns.

Simply considering a premium cigar exemption, of course, doesn’t guarantee that the FDA will ultimately adopt one. The FDA notably considered and rejected such an exemption in its original regulation of cigars.

However, the willingness of the new FDA leadership to spend time and resources considering rolling back its regulations is a good sign for those who make, sell, and enjoy handmade cigars. Over the next 90 days, expect a big push from the handmade cigar industry for comments urging the agency to adopt a premium cigar exemption.

Patrick S

photo credits: Stogie Guys