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Quick Smoke: Davidoff Anniversario No. 3

26 Jun 2016

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.”

Davidoff-Anni-No3

For at least as long as I’ve been writing about cigars, it seems Davidoff has been introducing new cigars to appeal to fuller-bodied tastes. And yet, at least for me, it remains their milder, Connecticut-wrapped cigars that are most quintessentially Davidoff. The Anniversario blend certainly fits that bill. The cigar features light cedar, hay, a hint of honey, and classic Davidoff mustiness, all elegantly layered and well-balanced. Construction is flawless, including an even burn and an ash that holds for nearly half the cigar. Even if a milder perspective isn’t what you regularly seek, you can still appreciate the perfect execution of the iconic Davidoff style.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Spirits: Knob Creek 2001 Limited Edition Bourbon

22 Jun 2016

Knob Creek 2001

Best I can recall, Knob Creek was my first good bourbon. Which is to say, the first bourbon that wouldn’t qualify as bottom-shelf or rail. Many years later, Knob Creek is still a favorite of mine, with its combination of full flavor, nine years of age, and a price that, if you shop around, can be below $30.

Part of the Small Batch Bourbon Collection produced by parent company Jim Beam, along with Booker’s, Baker’s, and Basil Hayden, Knob Creek (which also comes in rye and barrel-proof varieties) is the oldest bourbon of the collection at nine years. Lately, though, Beam has been leaning on its stocks of well-aged whiskeys, along with the demand from bourbon drinkers, to produce some limited edition older offerings.

Two years ago, Beam released Booker’s 25th Anniversary, which was a ten year, three month version of the uncut, barrel-proof Booker’s that debuted to rave reviews. More recently, as part of the Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve program (where stores can pick their own barrels), some older barrels have become available. And now the national release of the 14-year-old Knob Creek 2001 ($130) follows.

According to the company, Knob Creek 2001 Limited Edition Bourbon commemorates the year the responsibility of stewarding Knob Creek was passed from Booker Noe to his son Fred Noe, who succeeded Booker as master distiller. Made from barrels that Booker laid down in 2001, it was finished by Fred as a tribute to his father, who passed in 2004.

Three batches of the bourbon were released last year in limited quantities (my home state of Virginia got only 150), each with its own distinctive profile. I was able to pick up a bottle of Batch Two.

Knob Creek 2001 pours a deep copper color and features a lively nose full of roast nuts and caramel (think peanut brittle). On the palate, the time in the barrel begins to show, with concentrated oak, woody spice, burnt brown sugar, and pie crust. The finish shows even more depth with oak and caramel combining with dark fruit and more spice.

Knob Creek 2001 isn’t as exceptional as Booker’s 25, even before you factor in the slightly higher price ($130 vs. $100), which is as much a factor of the demand for high-end, well-aged bourbon as anything. Still, it is a tasty bourbon, and a significant step above the regular Knob Creek offering, even if it lacks the value factor that the everyday offering provides.

All that full flavor calls for a full-bodied cigar. I’d recommend the Bolivar Royal Corona (Cuban), El GüegüensePaul Garmirian 25th Anniversary Connoisseur, or Tatuaje Havana VI Verocu.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Pinar del Rio 1878 Cubano Especial Capa Natural Robusto

19 Jun 2016

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.”

PDR-1878-Capa-Natural

This medium-bodied blend from Abe Flores and his team at Pinar del Rio features a pale brown Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper. Underneath is 100% Criollo ’98 tobaccos, including filler from Nicaragua and binder and filler from the Dominican Republic. The cigar has straw and cedar flavors, along with hints of cream and coffee. A pleasant, balanced cigar with solid construction and combustion qualities, the 1878 Capa Natural would go great with a cup of coffee.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Viaje Platino Reserva VPR No. 6

12 Jun 2016

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.”

Viaje-VPR

Viaje is known for small-batch releases, and this is no exception. Made at the Raices Cubanas factory in Honduras, this cigar features a Nicaraguan Corojo ’99 wrapper around well-aged Nicaraguan fillers. The result is a medium-bodied smoke with light spice, dry earth, and a slight raisin sweetness. The box-pressed toro boasts an excellent draw and burn. It’s not the kind of cigar to buy a box of without trying. That said, if a medium-bodied, rounded smoke sounds up your alley, pick up a single when you get the chance.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Tatuaje K222

8 Jun 2016

Tatuaje-K-222

The brand new Tatuaje K222 could make for an interesting test case for the reasonableness of the “substantially equivalent” pathway for approval under the new FDA rules regulating cigars. The blend is a combination of the Tatuaje Cojonu 2003 and the Reserva J21, both of which were sold prior to the February 2007 grandfather date. Under any normal interpretation of “substantially equivalent,” it should meet that test.

Tatuaje-K222Whether the FDA would be so reasonable is another matter. Plus, the small-scale production of the K222 (around 100 boxes a month made in Miami) means if the FDA process proves too costly, there might not be an application submitted to sell the cigar past 2018. Like many cigars produced in small numbers, if the cost of an approval runs into six figures, the math simply won’t work to keep a cigar on the market that only sells tens of thousands per year.

The K222 was released two months ago as a tribute to Pete Johnson’s late dog, Kona, who passed away at 2:22 PM on April 26, 2015. Like the J21 and Cojonu 2003, it features a dark Ecuadorian Habano wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. The toro-esque size (5.9 x 52) comes in boxes of 25 with a retail price of $14.

The wrapper is dark enough to pass for Connecticut Broadleaf, and the cigar is slightly spongy to the touch, although the three samples I smoked exhibited good construction. (If you’re curious about Tatuaje’s use of the “Reserva” secondary band, note that all Reserva cigars made in Miami use an Ecuador Habano wrapper, while Nicaraguan-made Tatuajes designated Reserva have a Broadleaf wrapper. I’m told soon the Broadleaf-wrapped Tatuaje Brown Label cigars will denote Broadleaf on the secondary band to help with the confusion.)

Before firing up the K222, there is little in the pre-light draw (slight grass and a little spice on the lips) that warns of the full-bodied experience to come. Once lit, you’ll find loads of powdery smoke with lots of oak, unsweetened chocolate, earth, and pepper spice.

There is a slight bitterness that reminds me of banana peel. But just as it gets to the edge of the bitterness line, a slight sweetness reveals itself as it settles into a full-bodied cigar with sneaky strength.

Given that Cojonu essentially means ballsy, it isn’t surprising that the K222 (based in part on the Cojonu 2003 cigar) is a full-bodied smoke. Perhaps if you were expecting a more refined smoke you would find the K222 trades balance for full flavors. But if complex, full flavors are what you seek, Kona’s cigar delivers in droves. With excellent construction, deep, enjoyable flavors, and a subtle yet sneaky punch, the K222 earns a rating of four and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Paul Garmirian 25th Anniversary Short Robusto

5 Jun 2016

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.”

PG25th-Anni-ShortRobusto

Ask and ye shall receive… a cigar. In my full review of the impressive PG 25th Anniversary, I wrote, “For now, this is a single-vitola blend, but PG’s 15th and 20th Anniversary blends were later expanded into multiple sizes, and I certainly hope the same happens for the 25th.” Sure enough, PG has already rolled out a Short Robusto size, with very limited numbers being sold at the brand’s flagship shop in McLean, Virginia, and a wider release to come later this year. As you might imagine, the flavors are nearly identical to the toro-sized Connoisseur, including oak, bread, savoriness, and a hint of sweetness. While I’d recommend starting with the Connoisseur if you’ve never had the PG 25th Anniversary blend before, the Short Robusto features all the depth and complexity of the toro in a short, more concentrated version.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: E.P. Carrillo Selección Oscuro No. 6

28 May 2016

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.”

EPC-oscuro

The Selección Oscuro is the first E.P. Carrillo cigar to feature a Mexican San Andrés Oscuro wrapper. Underneath the dark, leathery wrapper is an Ecuadoran binder and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos. The medium-bodied smoke has dark, rich, earthy notes with powdered cocoa, bread, and a tiny bit of spice. The Selección Oscuro was a bit more spongy than I would have expected, although it didn’t negatively impact combustion at all, nor the noticeably cool smoke. As someone who generally isn’t the biggest fan of the San Andrés wrapper, it is noteworthy how much I enjoyed this cigar.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys