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Quick Smoke: Mi Querida Short Gordo Grande

8 Dec 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.”

Following Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust’s 2015 debut cigar, Sobermesa, was a flurry of new releases for the 2016 IPCPR Trade Show, including Mi Querida. Mi Querida was particularly anticipated as it reunited Dunbarton owner Steve Saka with a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper (he famously employed Broadleaf to create Drew Estate’s landmark Liga Privada line). This squat gordo (4.75 x 56) features medium- to full-bodied flavors with notes of coffee, chocolate, light spice, cedar, cinnamon, and black pepper. Excellent combustion and a sub-$10 price makes this an easy cigar to recommend.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Tip: How to Travel with Cigars on a Plane

3 Dec 2019

travel-cigar

Whether you’re taking a week-long vacation to a beach paradise or just flying off for a few days in a distant city for work, you’ll probably want to take some cigars.

Depending on where you are going, you may not have easy access to a cigar shop. Or you may not have access to reasonably priced cigars (taxes can be very high in certain states and countries). Or you may only have access to Cubans, and you may not be sure of their authenticity.

Even if you think you’ll pick up some cigars on your trip, bringing some cigars along with the tools necessary to enjoy them is probably a good idea. So here are some tips to make your air travel with cigars smoother:

Protect Your Cigars

Plane travel can be a traumatic experience for cigars, between the pressurized air and the fact that your bag is probably going to be forcibly jammed in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you. (Don’t check your cigars, as the cargo hold of the plane can have some pretty extreme temperature changes that can do serious damage.) The natural solution is a hard plastic cigar case like those made by Xikar or Cigar Caddy. Each comes in anywhere from a five to fifteen-count, or sometimes more.

If you don’t have a case, or if you can’t fit all the cigars you want to bring in the case you have, a sealed Ziplock bag will do fine. But you’ll want to put the bag in a hard tube or box to make sure they don’t get crushed. If you are traveling for more than few days, throw a small Boveda pack in with your cigars to help stabilize and maintain proper humidity.

Bring a Lighter, Avoid Confiscation

Torch lighters are great, but the TSA will take them from your carry-on or checked luggage. Trust me on this. I’ve accidentally left them in my bag and had them confiscated. But you can bring a soft flame lighter in your carry-on. You can also bring a single box of matches, so I like to stuff one box of wooden matches to the brim as a backup.

My go-to soft flame lighter is the Djeep, which is dependable and has decent capacity. It’s also cheap, so if some ornery TSA agent on a power-trip takes it you won’t be too upset. If you really want a torch lighter, you might consider a Soto Pocket Torch, which can convert a regular cheap lighter into a torch. But bring the lighter in your carry-on and leave the Soto in your checked bag to make sure it isn’t confiscated if the TSA agent figures out what it is. Also, for all lighters and matches, know that other countries might have different rules (Nicaragua, of all places, is known for taking all lighters when you depart from Managua). So no matter what you bring, make sure it is something that, if push comes to shove, you won’t feel too bad about leaving behind.

Check or Carry On a Cutter

Bringing most cutters on a plane shouldn’t be a problem (according to the TSA, blades smaller than four inches are good to carry on), but you never know how the rules are going to be enforced. So fancy cutters, if you must bring them, should go in checked luggage.

Travel is the perfect time to bring along that cheap cutter you got as a throw-in. And remember, if all else fails you can always cut your cigar with your fingernail; just don’t use your teeth.

Be Weary of Fake Cubans

Traveling overseas is great as you have access to cigars from that island south of Miami, but don’t assume you’ll easily be able to find legitimate Cuban cigars. For years, Americans have been buying and smoking Cubans overseas, even though technically this violated the Cuban Embargo. Now, with restrictions being eased, it is perfectly legal for an American to smoke a Cuban cigar while abroad. (Bringing Cubans into the U.S. is still illegal, expect for a small quantity directly from Cuba.)

Fake Cuban cigars are everywhere, especially at vacation spots visited frequently by Americans. The best way to ensure you are buying authentic Cubans is to shop at an official Casa del Habano. Beyond that, here are two easy tips to avoid the most obvious fakes: (1) If the price is too good to be true it is certainly fake, as prices are fixed and nobody’s relative or friend is getting them at a discount straight from the factory; and (2) There has never been any Cuban cigar made with a glass or plastic top box. (I still see pictures of glass top Cohiba boxes in cigar groups on Facebook, only for a dozen or more people to tell the poster the unfortunate news that they were swindled. Repeat after me: All Cuban cigars in a glass top box are fake.)

Carry on Some Booze

Unless you are heading to a country that doesn’t allow alcohol, there is nothing wrong with putting a bottle or three in your checked bag (though you may have to pay taxes on them). But what is often overlooked is that you can actually carry on booze in small amounts.

When carrying on, alcohol is subject to the same rules as other liquids, meaning no container more than 3.4 ounces and all liquids must fit in a one-quart sized bag. Mini bottles (usually 50 ml.) are well under that limit, and you can fit five or six in one Ziplock. If you are planning on cracking these open on the plane, know that most airlines have a rule against alcohol not served by the flight attendants. Practically speaking, though, if you are discrete about it you probably won’t get caught.

Patrick S

photo credits: Stogie Guys


Quick Smoke: H. Upmann Magnum 50 (Cuban)

24 Nov 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 toro-sized Cuban H. Upmann vitola started as a limited edition in 2005 before being added as a regular offering in 2008. What starts out with light hay, cedar, and white pepper later evolves with the additions of coffee and cocoa notes. Construction is solid, and the featured flavors are complex. This is one of the better Cubans I’ve smoked in the past few years.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Cohiba Siglo I (Cuban)

17 Nov 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 don’t smoke as many Cubans as I used to, even though they are now easier to acquire than they have been for decades (you can import them for personal consumption as long it is in your own luggage). For example, I brought this petit corona back with me last year when I visited France and Germany. One of the reasons I’ve not gone out of my way to smoke more Cubans is the inconsistent construction and quality. Fortunately, this small, 40-minute smoke didn’t suffer such issues, as combustion was excellent. With balanced flavors of cedar, hay, cream, nuts, and light spice, this is a Cuban well worth smoking.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Boutique Blends La Boheme Pittore

13 Nov 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.”

From the makers of Aging Room, La Boheme has earned high ratings, including a showing on a Top 25 list or two. The cigar features an Ecuadorian wrapper around Dominican binder and filler tobaccos. Light cedar, pepper, paper, and cream notes create a medium-bodied smoke. It is well-made but lacks the complexity I had been expecting given the elevated praise. Still, it has solid construction and a pleasant (if unexceptional) flavor profile.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Partagas Ramon y Ramon Robusto

10 Nov 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.”

partagas

My colleague reviewed this Partagas blend a few years ago when it debuted. I agree it is impressive. Right from the start, I find a creaminess combined with light but flavorful spices and a touch of cedar. Although I might classify the cigar as mild in body, it is anything but dull. Add in the excellent construction I’ve come to expect from smokes produced by General Cigar, and this is one I’d recommend to novices and aficionados alike.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Curivari Sun Grown 550

6 Nov 2019

Last week I reviewed the Curivari Gloria de Leon and noted the brand’s “reputation as a brand that appeals to fans of Nicaraguan cigars and provides excellent value for the price.” Now I’m looking at another Curivari line, the (comparatively simply-named) Sun Grown blend.

I smoked three robusto-shaped “550” vitolas. The Sun Grown line consists of box-pressed smokes that feature sun-grown Nicaraguan Habano wrappers around Nicaraguan binder and fillers. The cigars sell for around $6, slightly less when purchased in consumer-friendly boxes of 10 cigars.

The cigar is a medium-bodied smoke with espresso, damp earth, and clove notes. As it evolves, leather and black pepper spice flavors emerge with the pepper spice lingering on the palate.

It’s a gritty flavor profile that at times lacks balance. Construction is excellent, with the firmly box-pressed smoke featuring an even burn, sturdy salt and pepper ash, and good smoke production.

Curivari makes a lot of cigars (with a flurry, including the Sun Grown, introduced at the 2017 IPCPR Trade Show). While there are many blends, all stay true to the brand’s Nicaraguan-centric character. The Curivari Sun Grown is no exception.

While hardly my favorite Curivari blend (I far prefer the Buenaventura and Gloria de Leon lines), it is still a solid smoke, especially considering the price. That earns the Curivari Sun Grown 550 a rating of three and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys