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Quick Smoke: La Palina No. 1 Robusto

25 Aug 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.”

No. 1 is a four-country blend: Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, Costa Rican binder, and Nicaraguan and Honduran filler tobaccos. The $9 Robusto is well-constructed with a even burn, easy draw, and sturdy ash. It features a medium-bodied, well-balanced combination of leather, pepper, oak, and cream. Pleasant though hardly overwhelming, you’re unlikely to be disappointed by the La Palina No. 1 Robusto.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Spirits: Probitas Rum

21 Aug 2019

Collaborations between cigar makers are a common way to get consumer attention. If you are a fan of one of the collaborators, you might be turned onto the second brand. If you already like both, the joint effort becomes a must-try new cigar.

Such collaborations aren’t as common in the spirits industry. But that’s the case with Probitas, which is a blend of rums from Foursquare in Barbados and Hampden in Jamaica, blended together by Richard Seale of Foursquare.

The white rum (which sells for around $35 a bottle) sells under the name “Veritas” outside the U.S., presumably due to trademark issues. It is an unusual combination of “coffey column” still rum (from Foursquare) and “double retort pot still” (from Hampden). The resulting blend is 47% ABV.

For a white rum it has a notably yellowish tint, likely because Probitas (and Seale) make a point of unadulterated (and, thus, not over-filtered) rum. The nose features lemon custard, booze, and bananas.

Tasted neat, it shows off tropical notes of pineapple and banana, a pleasant creaminess, and rich molasses with oak. The short finish tingles the tongue with light cedar and caramel.

It’s enjoyable neat, which I’ll admit is unusual for a white rum. But it really shines in cocktails. It’s perfect in a daiquiri (two parts Probitas, one part simple syrup, and one part fresh lime juice) and has just the right amount of funkiness for a Kingston Negroni (equal parts Campari, sweet vermouth, and rum).

Foursquare and Hampden happen to be two of my favorite rum distilleries, so it’s hardly a surprise that I enjoy Probitas. Foursquare is known for not adding sugar to its rums, while Hampden is known for traditional Jamaican funk. Both elements are apparent in this premium-priced white rum.

If you want to treat yourself to a white rum that really shines, Probitas is well worth trying. If you’re drinking it neat, pair it with a balanced, mild cigar like the Cabaiguan, Davidoff Grand Cru, Illusione Epernay, or Paul Garmirian Gourmet. It you’re using it to upgrade your rum cocktail, pair it with any fine cigar you like.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Protocol Themis Corona Gorda

18 Aug 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.”

The Corona Gorda size of the Cubariqueño Cigar Company’s Protocal Themis blend was formerly exclusive to Pennsylvania-based Famous Smoke Shop. Earlier this year, though, it became available to all retailers. Made at Erik Espinosa’s La Zona cigar factory, the cigar’s shiny, golden Ecuadorian wrapper surrounds Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. Ideal combustion qualities reveal a medium-bodied combination of light roast coffee, hay, cream, and nutmeg, backed up with a sneaky green and red pepper spice on the finish. Judging from the one I had this is a versatile cigar that could be enjoyed in the morning with a coffee, after dinner with a whiskey, or anytime in between.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Aganorsa Leaf JFR Lunatic Habano Short Robusto

7 Aug 2019

I was recently smoking a JFR Lunatic Short Robusto and trying to explain the name to someone not familiar with it. Turns out it’s not an easy task; not much about it makes sense.

JFR stands for “Just for Retailers” (brick-and-mortar only). But while that was once true, the line is now sold online and in catalogs. “Lunatic” refers to the absurdly large ring gauge sizes (two 60s, one 70, and one 80), but that doesn’t apply to the more traditionally proportioned Short Robusto.

Even “Short Robusto” is a misnomer as the cigar is 4.75 inches long with a ring gauge of 52, a size far more often designated as just “robusto.” (The Aganorsa site says it is 4.25 inches, but my trusty tape measure confirms it is a half inch longer.) Of course, none of that really matters when it comes to whether or not the cigar is worth smoking.

Weighing in favorably on that side is a value-oriented sub $6 price. Made by Aganorsa Leaf (which, up until a spring 2018 re-brand, had been known as Casa Fernandez) at their TABSA factory in Estelí, the cigar features a Nicaraguan Aganorsa binder and filler wrapped in a rustic Ecuadorian habano leaf.

The cigar starts out with a burst of toast and sweetness as you burn through the closed foot. It soon settles into a medium- to full-bodied profile with notes of roast cashews, honey, light oak, cream, and a slightly metallic note on the finish.

While there isn’t much variation after the first few minutes, the consistent notes still comprise a pleasant combination of flavors with plenty of sweetness until the final third. Construction is also impressive with an easy draw and sturdy ash, although one of my three specimens required multiple touch-ups to correct the burn.

It isn’t hard to see why this cigar has garnered favorable reviews, including being featured at number eight on Cigar Aficionado‘s Top 25 list for 2018. The simple fact is, good cigars that cost closer to a Lincoln than a Hamilton are hard to find, even if it isn’t the best offering in the Aganorsa Leaf/Casa Fernandez portfolio.

While value is always appreciated, we don’t factor price into our full reviews. (Everyone’s sensitivity to price is personal, so we let you factor that in yourself.) Still, solid construction and pleasant flavors earn the Aganorsa Leaf JFR Lunatic Habano Short Robusto a rating of three and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credits: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Cohiba Puro Dominicana Corona

4 Aug 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.”

For many years, the spicy, full-bodied  Dominican puro Fuente Opus X was one of those hard-to-find cigars that consumers constantly asked their tobacconists for, and were just excited to find at close to suggested retail price. At least partially in response to that demand, Cohiba introduced Puro Dominicana, also a Dominican puro oriented towards those seeking a spicier Dominican smoke.  Cohiba Puro Dominicana features dry oak, light spice, restrained pepper, and leather. You won’t mistake it for an Opus X, but it is a well-made, tasty, medium- to full-bodied cigar.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Spirits: Rhum J.M. V.S.O.P.

31 Jul 2019

Rum is available in a wide variety of styles. The lack of strict rules (like those of bourbon, rye, single malt, etc…) make rum a Wild West, for both better and worse. Pure Bahamian rums, funky Jamaican rums, sugar-added dark rums, distilled in pot stills or column stills or both, spiced rums, aged in the tropics or Europe… they’re all rum, as long as they are distilled from one form or another of sugar.

Rhum agricole is the style associated with French Caribbean islands. It is distilled from freshly squeezed sugar cane juice, rather than the more frequently used molasses. Rhum J.M. is made in Martinique, and the V.S.O.P. offering is “created by aging rhum 3 years in re-charred bourbon barrels and finishing the rhum an additional year in lightly toasted new American oak barrels and finally reduced to 43% ABV with pure volcanic spring water from Habitation Bellevue.”

The $50 bottle (750 ml.) features a spirit that is light amber in color with a nose of fresh popcorn, red berries, and baking spices. Flavors include butterscotch, fresh sugar cane, custard, rubber, and banana.

It has a notably velvety mouthfeel and excellent balance. The finish is long and rich with nougat and candied apple sweetness.

I suppose you could use it in cocktail (I’m sure it would be excellent in a daiquiri) but, honestly, that would be a waste of a spirit that is best enjoyed neat. It’s a fine example of aged rhum agricole, worth seeking out (it can be a little tricky to find) for all fans of aged rum, especially for those looking to go beyond the molasses-derived offerings that usually make up the higher end of most run bars’ offerings.

Pair it with a balanced medium-bodied cigar. Suggested pairings include Cabaiguan, Davidoff Colorado Claro, El Güegüense, and the Cuban Romeo y Julieta Short Churchill.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: La Aurora 100 Años Robusto

28 Jul 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.”

Not the oldest cigar in my humidor, but probably among the dozen or so oldest. La Aurora celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2003 with 100 Años. The Dominican puro (fitting, given La Aurora’s status as the oldest Dominican cigar maker) features an oily Corojo wrapper. Remarkably full-bodied given its age, the Robusto sports robust leather, roast nuts, and hints of green pepper. Good luck finding 100 Años, but if you happen across one, smoke it.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys