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Quick Smoke: Joya Red Toro

26 Jul 2014

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.”joya-red-sq

joya-red-toro

After reading my colleague’s review of the new Joya Red, I was eager to fire up the blend up for myself. The Toro (6 x 52) is impeccably made featuring a shiny wrapper. It’s a tasty medium-bodied cigar with toasty flavors, a hint of creaminess, and a smooth woodiness. It’s very balanced and, as my colleague stated, “Nothing else in the Joya portfolio tastes like this.” It’s a welcome addition to to the Joya brand and an impressive display of the diverse blending capabilities of Joya de Nicaragua without abandoning their core Nicaraguan spirit.

Verdict = Buy.

-Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Eiroa CBT Maduro Robusto

24 Jul 2014

More and more, cigars that used to be introduced for the first time at the annual IPCPR Trade Show are now announced ahead of time. In the case of this new offering from Christian Eiroa, it was not only announced in the months before the show, but it began arriving in shops a few weeks before the show even opened.EIROA-CBT-robusto-sq

EIROA-CBT-robustoThe cigar is the maduro follow-up to the original self-titled Eiroa cigar, a Honduran puro, which debuted last summer. While the exact origins of the tobacco aren’t disclosed, it is 100% maduro, hence the CBT name which stands for Capa, Binda, Tripa (one of many ways to refer to the wrapper, binder, and filler).

The cigar comes in four sizes, each of which will be sold in 20-count boxes. The 4 x 48 will be box-pressed, while the other three sizes (5 x 50, 6 x 54, and 6 x 60) will be traditional parejos. The cigars sell for $9-12 each and, this year, production at the Aladino Factory in Honduras, where this is made, will be limited to 150,000 cigars. I smoked three samples in the robusto size provided by CLE Cigars for this review.

Fans of Eiroa and maduro cigars will note that this is not his first all-maduro cigar. Back in 2007, Camacho Cigars (then owned by Eiroa, before he sold it to Davidoff) made the Triple Maduro with similar undisclosed origins. Though it’s been a while since I smoked the Camacho Triple Maduro, and it has been re-blended since it was introduced, Eiroa seems less full-bodied than the Camacho version.

Hardly the pitch black maduro wrapper you sometimes see, the CBT wrapper is a more natural deep brown maduro color, in part because it uses only primings from the top of the tobacco plants. Pre-light, I picked up a notable cinnamon flavor on the draw.

Once lit, the CBT demonstrates plenty of quintessential deep dark maduro flavors: earth, coffee, and cocoa. There’s also a hint of clove and baking spices. The medium- to full-bodied cigar features consistent flavors from start to finish. Construction was excellent on all three samples I smoked, with a notably razor straight burn.

I’ll admit that given the choice between two cigars and only knowing that one is a maduro and the other isn’t, I’d select the non-maduro every time. Still, this a well-made cigar (if slightly expensive at $10) with straightforward, pleasant flavors and excellent construction. That’s enough to earn the Eiroa CBT Maduro Robusto three and a half stogies out of five.

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

-Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Neanderthal (Pre-Release)

22 Jul 2014

romacraft-neanderthal

At least for fans of boutique cigars, I expect this new release from RoMa Craft Tobac (makers of Cromagnon, Aquitaine, and Intemperance) to be one of the most anticipated cigars from the IPCPR Trade Show that’s currently taking place.

Neanderthal is billed as the strongest RoMa Craft to date, which says a lot since Cromagnon and Aquitaine (particularly the former) are anything but mild. At least for its introduction, the cigar will come in one size: a 5-inch figuardo that has a ring gauge of 56 near the foot and narrows to 52 at the cap. The head of the cigar is completely flat across, and not just from a press… think a bowling pin with the top few inches sawed off. (In fact, a cutter isn’t really necessary; you can just remove the cap from the wrapper and start smoking.)

The blend has a medium brown San Andrés maduro wrapper (a first for RoMa Craft) with a Connecticut Broadleaf binder. The filler is comprised of four types of Nicaraguan tobacco, along with the aromatic Dominican Olor and a Pennsylvanian Double Ligero that provides it’s unique strength.

Neanderthal is very full-bodied with black coffee, damp earth, oak, and pepper spice—especially on the retrohale. It starts out with a heavy grittiness that seems to scratch the roof of your mouth. This reminds me a little of the early versions of Nica Rustica that had a wild form of Nicaraguan tobacco in it. After a third, the strength fades slightly, most likely because you grow accustomed to it.

The strength of the Neanderthal isn’t simply full flavors. It’s also nicotine, which is why the Pennsylvanian tobacco is key to the blend. While not necessarily the most flavorful tobacco, it contains double the nicotine content of a more traditional filler tobacco. Personally, I don’t notice the nicotine at all for the vast majority of the cigars I smoke, so when I did notice it while smoking this cigar, that told me RoMa Craft’s Skip Martin is accomplishing his goal.

I received this cigar while visiting RoMa Craft’s Nica Sueño S.A. factory in Estelí three months ago. I only smoked one, so it’s not clear what, if any, impact a few months of rest had. When I received this cigar, Skip also gave me a puro rolled from 100% Pennsylvanian Double Ligero that he uses for blending, and it’s certainly clear that filler has a huge impact on the cigar. (By itself, it’s really not too enjoyable.)

But as part of the Neanderthal eight-tobacco blend, the Pennsylvanian Double Ligero gives the cigar a unique club-to-the-head strength. It won’t be for everyone, and there isn’t much nuance to it, but if you like full-bodied, strong cigars (especially Cromagnon) you’ll want to give this a try. While at $12 (sold in cabinets of 50) it’s not cheap, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything else like it. That earns the Neanderthal a rating of four stogies out of five.

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

-Patrick S

photo credit: Instagram

Quick Smoke: C.L.E. Signature Series Primera Liga de Miami (PLdM) Robusto

20 Jul 2014

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.”CLE-Signature-PLdM-sq

CLE-Signature-PLdM

The annual IPCPR Trade Show opens in full today (the opening seminars and reception were yesterday), so it’s fitting I’m checking out a new release. C.L.E. Signature Series PLdM is a small-batch line (only around 400 25-count boxes are set to be released, spread between four sizes) made in Miami by three handpicked rollers who work on Christian Eiroa’s personal blends. Details of this blend aren’t disclosed, but the profile and source suggest plenty of Honduran tobacco. The notable pre-draw flavors are an enticing combination of breadiness, spice, and sweetness. Once lit, I found a very refined combination of woodiness, bread, and caramel with a hint of clove spice. The medium-bodied Robusto (4.5 x 50) features flawless construction, which you’d expect from a cigar that retails for $16. It’s not cheap, but it’s a sophisticated step up, even from the high bar that CLE sets.

Verdict = Buy.

-Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Tatuaje Pudgy Monster Tiff

17 Jul 2014

Tatuaje recently shipped it’s Pudgy Monster sampler, a follow-up to it’s Little Monster sampler, which was comprised of smaller versions the Monsters Series Halloween cigars.tatuaje_pudgy_monsters

Tatuaje-TiffThe $95 Pudgy Monster sampler features 10 cigars, six being smaller versions of the prior Monsters, with the remaining four cigars comprised of two each of two new blends. The two new cigars are both based on the Child’s Play villains: “Chuck,” after the main character Chucky; and “Tiff,” after his bride, Tiffany.

Tiff has a golden Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. (Sounds similar to another Tatuaje blend… more on that below.) It’s a petit robusto size at four inches long with a ring gauge of 50.

The cigar has a smooth, complex, mild- to medium-bodied profile. It’s dominated by sweet creaminess, along with roasted nut and woodiness, and hints of paper, graham, and spice.

There have been some questions about just how different, if at all, Tiff is from the standard Cabaiguan blend (which also has an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper around Nicarauan binder and fillers). Tatuaje owner and blender Pete Johnson said Tiff is “blended fairly stronger” than Cabaiguan, and I’d certainly agree, though the profile is very similar.

Over the course of smoking three samples for this review, I also smoked a couple Cabaiguans, and the difference is clear. Is it stronger than the Cabiguan WCD 120 (which is known to be a ramped-up Cabaiguan blend)? Maybe, although I sadly don’t have any samples to compare it too.

Exactly where it ranks strength-wise in the Cabaiguan-esque blends is up for debate, but I don’t think there’s much debate about Tiff being a fantastic cigar. It’s everything I look for in a Connecticut smoke—subtle, smooth, complex—and it earns four and a half stogies out of five.

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

-Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

 

Cigar Spirits: Masterson’s Rye Whiskey

10 Jul 2014

Up until a few years ago, straight rye whiskey distilled from a mash bill consisting of 100% rye was exceedingly rare. That much rye is difficult to distill, which is why many ryes use only slightly more than 50% rye. And up until recently, 95% rye was quite unusual. (You can look through previous rye write-ups here.)mastersons-rye-sq

mastersons-ryeBut as the American appetite for rye grew, older rye was suddenly difficult to find, especially if the whiskey company didn’t have their own distillery. So people began turning to unusual sources. One such source was Canada, where this 100% rye was distilled to be blended into Canadian whiskey.

That 100% Canadian rye found its way into three ten-year-old ryes: Jefferson’s, Whistlepig, and Masterson’s. Each has its own character, but the family resemblance is apparent side-by-side.

Masterson’s is the most expensive at $65 to $80. It comes in an elegant bottle adorned with a photo of old west lawman Bat Masterson, whose relationship to the whiskey is tenuous at best.

The 90-proof Masterson’s is light copper-colored and features a nose with clean floral notes and a subtle honey sweetness.

On the palate, there’s more floral notes, rubber band, licorice, and burnt caramel. The finish is long and floral with a hint of apple and lots of spice on the back-end.

In a way, Masterson’s is a test of your devotion to rye. If you really like the quintessential rye flavors (floral notes, a bit of spice, a lack of sweetness) Masterson’s will probably be right up your alley. If you just want sweet bourbon notes with a little extra spice, the 100% rye mash bill of Masterson’s probably won’t be for you.

Personally, I’m a fan. And although, for the price, I’d rather have the $40 Jefferson’s (which, unfortunately, has been discontinued), on taste alone it may be my favorite of the Canadian 100% rye trio.

As for a cigar pairing, I think a Cameroon-wrapped smoke is perfect for the floral spice of Masterson’s. Specifically, try it with the Drew Estate Nirvana, Fuente Hemingway, or La Flor Dominicana Cameroon Cabinet.

-Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Illusione Singulare Rose Croix LE 2013

8 Jul 2014

One of my very favorite cigars ever was the original Illusione Singulare 2010 Phantom. It was excellent when I first reviewed it, and it has only gotten better as I’ve smoked through four boxes in the past few years.illusione-sq

Illusione-Singulare-2013Because of that, I’ve always looked forward to trying new Singulare cigars—even if sometimes they’ve come out well behind schedule. Maybe the Singulare 2010 Phantom is unfair standard, but it’s only natural to compare an annual release to its predecessors.

While both the 2011 and 2012 Singulare cigars were very good, neither were quite as exceptional as the original. (Of the two, the 2012—which has a Mexican wrapper—came closest to that very high bar.)

Prior Singulare cigars all came in a toro format (with either a 50 or 52 ring gauge). The 2013 Singulare Rose Croix (French for “pink cross”), on the other hand, comes in a format that’s slightly narrower than a traditional Churchill size (7 x 46).

Like the 2012 Singulare, Rose Croix was made at the TABSA factory in Jalapa, Nicaragua. Prior to 2012, all previous Illusione cigars had been made at Raices Cubanas in Honduras. Since then, new Illusione projects (including *R* Rothchildes) have been going to TABSA.

The Nicaraguan puro features a reddish-brown wrapper with numerous visible veins. Of the three I smoked, one was marred by a seriously uneven burn. Otherwise, construction was without incident, although the ash was at times less sturdy than you’d expect.

The Singulare 2013 is dominated by wood and leather notes with just a bit nutmeg and clove spice. There’s also a slight metallic-vegetal tinge that I can best describe as bell pepper-ish (it took a while to identify, but once I did I couldn’t shake the description). This sensation was particularly pronounced in one of the three cigars I smoked.

At it’s strongest, it’s a medium-bodied cigar, although a very balanced one. The finish is notably short and clean.

The inconsistency in construction and flavor is worrisome, but I still think this cigar has good aging potential. As for what the cigar demonstrates today, it has some real question marks you wouldn’t expect from Illusione (especially for a cigar that runs almost $13). It still earns three and a half stogies out of five.

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

-Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys