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Quick Smoke: Perdomo Double Aged 12 Year Vintage Maduro Robusto

26 Mar 2017

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.”

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This limited offering from Perdomo features a dark Nicaraguan wrapper along with Nicaraguan filler comprised of Seco from Condega, Viso from Jalapa, and Ligero from Estelí (those details are helpfully written right on the band). The cigar is made with 10-year-old tobaccos, after which the finished cigar is aged for two more years in charred oak barrels. Pre-light, there is an inviting aroma full of rum and raisins. Once lit, the core flavors are dark, rich, and earthy with a very slight sweetness and black coffee notes. Classic maduro in taste; not at all harsh or spicy. Considering this cigar takes over a decade to produce, the $10 price tag is almost remarkably inexpensive.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Curivari Buenaventura Picadores P 52

19 Mar 2017

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.”

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When I’m asked about cigars that provide bang for the buck, I frequently cite Buenaventura by Curivari, a Nicaraguan puro that can be picked up for around $40 for a box of 10. That approachable price would seem to make the blend an unlikely candidate for a mixed-filler version, but here it is: Buenaventura Picadores, featuring the same blend and selling for $30 or less a box. The flavors are similar to the original long-filler version: medium-bodied with coffee, woody spice, and light earth. There are some indications of the use of picadura (scrap cuttings) tobaccos in the construction, including lumpiness under the wrapper, a flaky ash, a wavy burn line, and a little bit of loose tobacco after clipping the head. Given the reasonably-priced original version, I’d probably save the Picadores version for the golf course or mowing the lawn (if I had one). But its hard to argue with the solid flavors this cigar produces for the price.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar News: Cigar Trade Groups Back Trump’s Pick to Head FDA

15 Mar 2017

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On Friday, numerous news reports indicated President Trump intends to nominate Scott Gottlieb to head the FDA. Gottlieb, a doctor, worked at the FDA during President George W. Bush’s administration in deputy roles and is a fellow with the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

Since the FDA was granted authority to regulate tobacco in 2009, and in 2014 moved to exercise its authority to regulate cigars, the position of FDA commissioner has taken increasing importance to the handmade cigar industry. Opponents of Gottlieb are expected to highlight his ties to the the pharmaceutical industry, though his criticisms of the FDA’s oversight of tobacco are also likely to become an issue during his confirmation hearings.

Gottlieb has been critical of the FDA’s authority to regulate tobacco products. In a Forbes.com article, he wrote the following regarding the “faustian” bargain behind FDA cigar regulation:

It always seemed a naïve aspiration—that FDA would ever sanction such products—and even more uncertain that the anti-tobacco crowd would let this paradigm advance. Now, each side’s ambitions (and the law’s spirit) are being tested.

The tobacco industry’s critics are trying to impede a critical first step that FDA must take in creating that new regulatory architecture. The ability to fulfill all of the law’s goals is on the line.

Proponents of the legislation, after all, admittedly supported it as a vehicle to squeeze tobacco firms under the weight of FDA regulation. Their stated aim was always the dismantling these firms.

In an Associated Press article about the bill that authorized the FDA to regulate tobacco products, Gottlieb was quoted criticizing the bill as undermining the FDA’s primary mission: “I believe it’s going to gut the agency’s resources and distract it from its core mission.”

Specifically on cigars, a New York Post op-ed by Gottlieb regarding FDA cigar regulation and its potential impact on the 2012 election has recieved much attention. In it, he wrote:

About 85,000 Americans work in the premium-cigar business, according to the industry’s main trade group. Many of these jobs would be in jeopardy if the FDA’s regulations went forward. About 75 percent of the domestic importers and producers of cigars are located in Florida, where it’s a $2 billion-a-year industry…

Whatever the FDA does, the fight reveals a broader trend of expanding the scope of regulation to cover areas never envisioned by Congress.

Regulators often prefer to enlarge their jurisdiction rather than tend to their chief obligations. Agencies like the FDA thus divert their attention from important but basic duties.

For example, that 2009 tobacco law was crafted as a way to cut down on underage use of cigarettes. It was, in many respects, a forward-looking measure—envisioning that traditional cigarette makers would gradually transition to developing and marketing smokeless-tobacco products that don’t pose the same health hazards as cigarettes.

But the FDA has been loath to accept that alternative tobacco products could pose a lower health risk than cigarettes. Under the law, it should be examining the relative hazards, rather than spending its energies seeking to expand its powers.

In part because of his writings on FDA tobacco regulations, cigar industry groups have already come out in support of Gottlieb. “We think it’s a very good choice that the president made,” said Craig Williamson, president of the Cigar Association of America, which represents cigar manufacturers.

An IPCPR spokesman praised the pick: “We’re very encouraged by the nomination of Dr. Gottlieb. His past statements and articles show he recognizes the difference between premium cigars and other cigar products, and we’re looking forward to having a productive dialogue with him… should he be approved.”

Glynn Loope, executive director of the Cigar Rights of America, also praised the nomination: “CRA is certainly pleased that the president’s administration is moving swiftly to place new management at the FDA. We hope Dr. Gottlieb brings an air of objectivity and balance to the agency. His previous op-ed piece that addressed the role of premium and large cigars in the regulatory process clearly indicates that he has a working knowledge of our issues, and as to why they should be treated differently.”

“2017 is a critical turning point with Congress and the administration, and these new appointments present a unique opportunity to have discussions and to facilitate actions that can work toward protecting the premium cigar industry from the proposed regulations that can clearly have a detrimental impact on this artisan industry that does not deserve the treatment that has been advanced by the FDA,” Loope continued.

Patrick S

photo credits: Scott-Gottlieb.com

Quick Smoke: Illusione Singulare LE 2014 Anunnaki

12 Mar 2017

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.”illusione-singulare-2014-sq

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One of my favorite cigars of all time is the original Illusione Singulare, the Phantom. It was not only excellent when it first came out; it got better and better overtime. Along those lines, I wanted to see how another impressive Singular evolved with age. The Illusione Singulare 2014 earned a rare five-stogie rating when released and has scored well since. The 5.5-inch, 54-ring gauge Nicaraguan puro continues to exhibit excellent combustion qualities. Flavors include sour dough bread, cappuccino, and light cedar. While Anunnaki remains a very good cigar, aging is not improving it. So, if you have this cigar, don’t hesitate to smoke it now, especially since, along with several other popular Singulare editions, it is being re-released.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Spirits: The GlenDronach 15 Revival Single Malt Scotch Whisky

8 Mar 2017

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When it comes to single malt, I like the extremes the various whisky regions of Scotland offer, from the highly peated, bandaid-iodine-smoke flavors  of Islay to the rich, fruity, sherry-focused Highland or Speyside whiskies. In the latter category, one of my favorites right now is GlenDronach 15.

GlenDronach is a distillery that has flown a bit under the radar, although that is changing. The fact that the distillery was recently purchased by American liquor giant Brown-Forman (Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester) will probably raise its profile in the States even more.

GlenDronach is known for its exclusive use of sherry cask-aged single malt in the 12-year and older varieties, though, more recently, a peated variety and a bourbon and sherry cask 8-year GlenDronach have been added to the line. Now for some bad news: The 15-year (known as “Revival”) has been temporary discontinued. It is scheduled to return in 2018 after bottling was put on hiatus in 2015.

Despite that, you should try to find it now; it’s still out there, though much harder to find now than it was a year or two ago. The reason? The distillery stopped production from 1996 until 2002, meaning the contents of the 15-year bottle are probably more like 18-20 years old. (Read this article for a more detailed explanation.)

The Revival pours a rich mahogany color and is 46% alcohol by volume. The nose is classically sherried with dried fruits along with candied nuts and malt. On the plate is more of the same: a rich (but not syrupy), balanced combination of figs, raisins, toffee, orange marmalade, and clove. The finish lingers with ginger, light citrus, and oak.

GlenDronach frequently gets compared to the Macallan Sherry Oak line, and the comparison is appropriate. Both are unapologetically sherry-forward for those who like that style, and GlenDronach’s advantage is the value it provides; The GlenDronach 15 is comparable in age to Macallan 18, which costs over twice as much ($200).

Last year, in our guide for Father’s Day gifts, I wrote, “any single malt fan would appreciate Glendronach 15 which, although it has been discontinued, can still be found and is the closest thing to Macallan 18 available for under $100.” The recommendation still stands, if you can find it, and my hope is when it returns in 2018 neither the price nor flavor profile change.

As for cigars, GlenDronach 15 is as versatile as it gets. It’s perfect after dinner with a mild, classic white label Davidoff, or with a full-bodied Nicaraguan puro. 

I purchased a few bottles of GlenDronach 15 when I found out it was being temporarily discontinued. It earns my full recommendation, especially for fans of sherried scotch. Pick up a bottle if you can find one. I doubt you’ll regret it.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Partagas Black Clasico

5 Mar 2017

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.”

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Partagas Black is one of those cigars I used to smoke frequently but don’t anymore. I’m not certain why. When it comes to unique flavors, there’s little else on the crowded cigar market that tastes like this blend (and I mean that as a compliment). The Clasico is a large robusto format (5.25 x 54). The dark, oily, jet-black wrapper hints at the raisin, licorice, and barbecue burnt-end flavors that follow. Full-bodied, flavorful, and unique, my only complaint is the serious burn issues (probably due to the notably oily wrapper) that necessitate multiple relights.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Tatuaje Reserva Broadleaf Collection Havana Cazadores

1 Mar 2017

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With the FDA deadline just days away at the time, the 2016 IPCPR Trade Show saw a flurry of new cigar announcements, as expected. Pete Johnson’s Tatuaje was no exception with a number of new offerings. But I don’t think I have to go out on a limb to say fans of Tatuaje were most excited for the new Tatuaje Reserva Broadleaf Collection.

Tatuaje-HC-Reserva-BL - 1The Tatuaje Reserva Broadleaf Collection consists of a whopping 100 cigars selling for $1,200, featuring ten each of the six original Miami Seleccion del Cazador (Brown Label) “HUNTER” sizes, plus the J21, SW, K222, and Cojonu 2003 blends. Originally, the cigars were set only to be available in 5,000 master cases of 100 (pictured above). More recently, though, Tatuaje has announced some will be released in boxes of ten of each size.

The master cases of 100 began arriving at retailers recently and StogieGuys.com secured one. In the past, I’ve noted that my favorite Tatuaje Brown Label cigar is the lonsdale-sized (6.4 x 43) Havana Cazadores, so that’s where I decided to start.

Like all of the Reserva Broadleaf Collection, the Havana Cazadores uses Nicaraguan binder and filler with a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper instead of the Ecuadorian wrapper used in the regular Brown Label blend. To differentiate from other Reserva lines (including K222, J21, and SW, all of which use the Reserva secondary band), the Broadleaf Collection bands all say Broadleaf in small letters below Reserva on the second band.

The attractive wrapper is not surprisingly darker than the regular line, and it’s decently oily and dark brown in color with a few prominent veins. Made in Miami, the cigars are well-constructed with excellent combustion, an easy draw, and a solid dark gray ash.

The primary flavors are charred oak, toast, and black pepper. Secondary flavors include red pepper, earth, coffee, and dark chocolate. Flavors are largely consistent from beginning to end of the hour-plus smoke, with tempered strength that walks the fine line between balance and full flavor.

The non-Reserva Havana Cazadores is the fullest-flavored of the original line, in part because it is wet packed in foil. The first Havana Cazadores Reserva is equally full-bodied, but no more. It swaps out some woodiness for more powdery chocolate and charred notes.

I lit up the Broadleaf Havana Cazadores with high expectations. The three samples I smoked for this review didn’t disappoint. My only hope is that the rest of the Broadleaf Collection can live up to this one. A perfectly constructed combination of full Nicaraguan flavors with the restrained richness that Connecticut Broadleaf provides, the Tatuaje Reserva Broadleaf Collection Havana Cazadores earns our highest rating of five stogies out of five.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here. A list of other five-stogie rated cigars can be found here.]

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys