Archive by Author

Quick Smoke: Villiger La Meridiana Toro

13 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.”

Made at the La Joya de Nicaragua factory, this box-pressed toro features an oily, chestnut brown wrapper. The Nicaraguan puro features notes of cedar, pepper, orange peel and roasted nuts. With an even burn and sturdy ash, it’s well-constructed, medium-bodied smoke.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Aquitaine Pestra Muierilor

9 Oct 2019

As the weather cools I find myself looking for smaller cigars to enjoy. Not cigarillos or mini machine-mades, but smaller format, handmade cigars that can be enjoyed in 30 minutes when the time is short and the weather is chilly.

When RoMa Craft Tobac burst onto the scene, the outfit favored large ring gauges; now RoMa has a portfolio of a variety of shapes and sizes. In 2015, RoMa introduced El Catador de las Petite Coronas, a sampler of their five primary blends, all in the petit corona format. Now each is available in its own 30-count box.

One example is the Aquitaine Pestra Muierilor (4 x 46). Like other Aquitaine vitolas, it features an Ecuadorian Habano Ligero wrapper, a Cameroon binder, and Nicaraguan filler consisting of tobaccos from Condega, Estelí, and Pueblo Nuevo. Boxes of 30 have a suggested retail price of $195, but I’ve seen them sell for under $140 (or under $5 per cigar).

The Pestra Muierilor features a chestnut brown wrapper with a little oily shine. Pre-light, notes include coffee, cocoa, and light spice. Once lit, you’ll find a full-bodied smoke with leather, toast, dry earth, and a combination of floral and fruit sweetness.

The cigar sports a peppery retrohale. The finish is long with dry chocolate, baking spices, and creamy notes. Construction is notably excellent, especially for such a compact format, with plenty of smoke production, an even draw, and a mostly even burn.

Pestra Muierilor is a sparkplug of a little smoke, full of flavor even if at times it seems to come at the expanse of balance. I think the depth of the Aquitaine blend is better showcased in larger formats, but that doesn’t mean the Pestra Muierilor isn’t a highly enjoyable 30-40 minute smoke. It earns a rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: L’Atelier Imports MAD 44 Maduro

6 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.”


This Broadleaf wrapper blend from L’Atelier Imports features classic maduro flavors. Beneath the Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper is a Sancti Spiritus leaf around Nicaraguan binder and filler. The result is an earthy, toasty blend with rich earth, cedar spice, and lots of sweetness. When it comes to Broadleaf maduro cigars, lately this one has become a go-to, especially when the price can be under $5 per cigar when purchased by the box.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Spirits: George Dickel Bottled in Bond 13 Year Old Whisky

2 Oct 2019

Introduced earlier this year, George Dickel Bottled in Bond caught my attention for having an attribute few new bourbon offerings have: the possibility of being an excellent value. As the popularity of bourbon has spiked, so have prices.

Some of the best values from five years ago have either dropped their aged statements (so they can include younger whiskey), raised prices, become highly allocated and impossible to find, or have been discontinued. All of which is a long run-up to saying a new 13-year-old bourbon for under $40 is not the type of thing you see every day. (Side note: Tennessee whiskey produced by both Jack Daniel’s and George Dickel meets the legal definition of straight bourbon even if you won’t find the word on the bottle. The key addition to the process that sets Tennessee whiskey apart is the Lincoln County Process, where the spirit is filtered through charcoal.)

Bottled in bond whiskey means the spirit must fit a few qualities. It must all be distilled at the same distillery during the same season (January-June or July-December). must be aged in a federally bonded warehouse for four years, and must be bottled at 100-proof or higher.

Distilled at George Dickel’s Cascade Hollow Distillery in Tullahoma, Tennessee, this mahogany-colored 13-year-old bottled in bond whiskey was distilled in the fall of 2005 with a mash bill of 84% corn, 10% rye, and 6% malted barley. It was bottled in the spring of 2019 at 50% ABV (100-proof).

The nose is full of peanuts and roast corn. On the palate there’s powdered chocolate, dried corn, candied citrus, and vanilla. The finish has ginger and clove with a lingering, velvety mouthfeel.

This is without a doubt an an excellent bourbon, that probably could have been sold for more. But I think long-term it’s a good strategy for George Dickel, which is always in the shadow of its Tennessee neighbor Jack Daniel’s. Reminding consumers of their quality with an eye-catching value only serves to make people more likely to check out their other offerings (which are themselves solid and underrated) in the future.

Despite being 100-proof, it’s not overly strong, even when tasted neat. Pair it with a medium-bodied cigar like the Bolivar Royal Corona, Tatuaje Black, or Davidoff Colorado Claro.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Paul Garmirian 15th Anniversary Corona Gorda

29 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’ve always been a big a fan of the PG 15th Anniversary blend. Yet, best I can remember, I’ve never smoked the Corona Gorda size (5.5 x 46), which is odd considering the corona gorda is generally one of my preferred sizes. Featuring a Nicaraguan wrapper along with Dominican binder and filler tobaccos, it’s a full-bodied blend with leather, pepper, wine tannins, rich cedar, and some Davidoff-esque mushroom and earth notes. It isn’t as eloquently balanced as the Belicoso, but it’s still quite enjoyable.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Commentary: Recommends Jacob Grier’s “The Rediscovery of Tobacco”

25 Sep 2019

I wouldn’t normally recommend a book without reading it in its entirety, but I’m making an exception for The Rediscovery of Tobacco by Jacob Grier, released a week ago (available in hardcover, paperback, or digital on Amazon). Grier, a pipe and cigar smoker, has written about tobacco for years in a range of diverse publications including The Atlantic, Slate, Reason Magazine, and even here at

In a post on his website, Grier explains why he wrote the book, and why it is so timely:

How did things get so bad, so quickly? Well, that’s part of why I wrote the book. The evidence that the anti-smoking movement has become dangerously illiberal has been mounting for years. For the past two decades, this has manifested primarily in alarmist claims about secondhand smoke and boundlessly expanding smoking bans. As smoking has become concentrated among the least well-off, it’s been easy for most people to ignore the stigma that now attaches to the habit and the ways that we increasingly infringe on smokers’ liberties. But as governments react to the moral panic over vaping by banning lower-risk alternatives to the cigarette and threatening to imprison sellers of nicotine products, it has become imperative to question the dominant, dogmatic approach of professional tobacco control.

As I’ve quickly read through the first third of the 220-page book, I found one passage particularly resonant. As someone who enjoys the handmade, artisanal quality of premium cigars, Grier’s exploration of whyin an era when craft seemingly everything is praisedthe same hasn’t happened for craft-made tobacco (specifically, in Grier’s example, pipe tobacco) is a particularly interesting question:

Pipe smoking has not become cool, but it’s easy to imagine that it might have. After all, so many other goods emerged from their twentieth century commodification to be embraced as craft, artisanal, authentic, small batch, etc. The marketing invites parody, but one doesn’t need a long memory to know that things have indeed gotten better. Coffee, beer, wine, cocktails, chocolate, fruits, vegetables, meat, you name it: Practically everything we eat and drink has improved in the past few decades, with consumers rewarding quality and not just convenience. Yet despite the predilection of chefs, cooks, servers, and bartenders to smoke, tobacco has been excluded from this gastronomic revival. Why is that?

The answer, not surprisingly, seems to be complicated. Culture, technology, big business, and politics all seem to play a part in Grier’s nuanced explanation:

The Rediscovery of Tobacco takes a longer and wider view, tracing tobacco back to its origin in the Americas and the diverse ways it was put to use around the world. It turns next to how a single product—the manufactured cigarette—came to take over the market, with disastrously lethal consequences. From there it explores secondhand smoke, smoking bans, and the ways in which the anti-smoking movement began replacing rigorous science with ideological fervor. It then moves on to the changing landscape of tobacco regulation, detailing how the biggest tobacco companies shape seemingly public-spirited laws to work to their advantage. This leads into the heated question of tobacco harm reduction and why many leaders in public health are so hostile to products that massively reduce users’ exposure to toxic tobacco smoke. Finally, the book concludes with a case for a more liberal, tolerant, and open approach to nicotine and tobacco use, in opposition to the increasingly authoritarian and technocratic demands of tobacco control.

For the kind of person who reads websites like this one, which are devoted to an appreciation of the finer details of handmade cigars, this is exactly the type of exploration that we need more of. For that reason, we heartily recommend The Rediscovery of Tobacco. Buy it here.

Patrick S

photo credits: Stogie Guys

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