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Cigar Tip: Six Basic Go-To Cigar Accessories

21 Feb 2019

You could spend almost as much time learning about cigar accessories as the cigars themselves. There’s a long history of cigar gadgets, with many of them being mostly useless.

That said, you do need some accessories for a cigar; after all, you won’t get far without a way to cut and light your cigar. To that end, here are five simple, inexpensive accessories worth using.

Djeep Lighter

A lighter is as simple as it gets, and the Djeep is pretty simple. It’s also dependable, has a large capacity, and it’s cheap, especially when you buy in bulk .

Jetlight Torch

Soft flame lighters are great for indoors (or when you’re traveling on a plane), but sometimes, especially outdoors, a butane torch works best. I’ve had a ton of torches over the years, including some very expensive ones, many of which have worked flawlessly. But when it comes to dependability (the key to a good torch), none other than the Ronson JetLite do so much for so less. You can find one for less than $5.

Palio Cutter

There’s nothing worse than a dull cutter that rips a cigar rather than cleanly slicing it. Many fulfill that purpose, though lately I’ve been really enjoying a Palio cutter I managed to pick up for just $10. Not only do the double blades effortlessly and effectively cut my cigar, but the concave design makes it an excellent resting place for a cigar.

Leather Cigar Case

I’ve had this particular case forever. Honestly, I have no idea where I got it. What I like about it is the versatile size (you can fit three coronas just as easily as three Churchills) and the low profile (it fits neatly in the inside pocket of a suit coat). Here’s a similar case on sale for $22.

Travel Case

When it comes to protecting cigars while traveling, nothing works better than a hard plastic case (like one from Xikar or Cigar Caddy). I’m especially a fan of the five-cigar size, which easily slips into a work or golf bag and holds enough cigars to get anyone through a day.

Boveda

Boveda packs aren’t the cheapest way to keep your cigars properly humidified, but they are the easiest. As long as you change them out when they dry out, they will work flawlessly.

Any other accessories you can’t live without?

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: El Güegüense Corona Gorda

17 Feb 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.”

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I was very impressed with El Güegüense when I first smoked the debut from Nick Melillo’s Foundation Cigar Co. in the Robusto format, but for my money the Corona Gorda size is the best in the line. Woodsy with roast nut notes, black pepper, and sweet earthiness. Well-constructed with medium- to full-bodied flavors.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Tip: Smoke Two Cigars at Once

13 Feb 2019

[Many cigar enthusiasts eventually come to a point where they go from being someone who enjoys cigars without thinking about it too much, to someone who enjoys cigars and wants to know why they enjoy one cigar or another. For that person, I recommend a suggestion we first made eight years ago: “Develop Your Palate by Smoking Two Cigars at Once” (which is as true today as when we first published it).]

Developing your palate for tasting cigars comes down mostly to one thing: smoking lots of cigars and paying close attention to the flavors you notice. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to accelerate the learning curve.

For one, you can make sure your palate is clean. Sure, a neat scotch or a good rum on the rocks may be my preferred drink pairings, but there is no substitute for for some sparkling water when I want to make sure I’m picking up the full spectrum of flavors in a cigar.

An excellent, but less traditional, way to improve your ability to pick up nuances in cigar flavors is to light up two at the same time. By that I obviously don’t mean drawing on two cigars at once, but rather lighting up two and alternating tastes to pick up differences and similarities. The concept is standard in wine, where multiple similar wines are sampled either vertically (the same wine in different vintages) or horizontally (where multiple wines of the same vintage and type are sampled). The results can be striking. By tasting similar wines, it becomes easier to focus on the nuances and subtle differences.

The same holds true for cigars. The best way to taste multiple cigars is by smoking similar cigars. (Like tasting a champagne against a full bordeaux, you’re not likely to learn much by tasting a mild Connecticut-wrapped cigar against a full-bodied Nicaraguan puro.)

Light up a full-bodied Nicaraguan cigar and you’re likely to pick up the same general flavors: earth, spice, maybe leather or cedar. However, light up two different full-bodied Nicaraguans (as I recently did in the photo above) and you’ll notice more specifics, such as the type of spice (sweeter cinnamon versus black pepper). Secondary flavors, like cocoa, coffee, and clove will also begin to stand out.

As long as you continue to keep your palate clean, you’ll be amazed at what flavors you can “discover” in a cigar when searching for differences between two cigars that smoked alone would be described in very similar terms. Plus, alternating between two cigars forces you to smoke each slowly, which will also help you notice the distinct qualities of each (smoking too quickly will overheat the tobacco and taint the flavor).

You certainly wouldn’t want to smoke most of your cigars this way, because the fun of cigars is relaxing and reflecting, not having to worry about keeping multiple cigars lit or concentrating on the small details of the flavors. Still, if every so often you smoke two (or more) at once to exercise your palate, I think you’ll find it easier to enjoy all the depth and complexity that fine cigars have to offer.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Alonso Menendez Connecticut Corona

10 Feb 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 smoked my first Alonso Menendez in Brazil in 2003. It would be a few years before I saw the brand again, when Alonso Menendez (and Dona Flor) were brought to the U.S. market. Legal issues and other challenges meant Alonso Menendez was pulled from the market for a time before being introduced again around 2012. This Alonso Menendez blend features plenty of Mata Fina tobacco (for which Brazil is known) and a Connecticut wrapper (though the origin of that wrapper is unclear). The result is a well-constructed, medium-bodied cigar with notes of coffee, toasted walnuts, cream, and light spice.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: La Aroma de Cuba Noblesse Regency

6 Feb 2019

La Aroma de Cuba was first relaunched in 2003 by Ashton, which secured the rights to the old Cuban trademark. Back then, the line was made at the Flor de Copan factory in Honduras. But starting in 2008, Ashton partnered with Pepin to revamp the line.

The first Pepin-made La Aroma was the Edición Especials, introduced at the 2008 IPCPR Trade Show, with the revamped regular La Aroma blend debuting the following year. In 2010 came the Mi Amor line extension, followed by the Mi Amor Reserva in 2012.

We’ve reviewed every blend in the line (including the pre-Pepin original), except for the newest, the Noblesse, which debuted in 2014. Over the years, Ashton has added two new sizes to the blend, which is produced each year in limited quantities.

Like the others it’s made at Pepin’s My Father Cigars factory in Nicaragua. For this review I smoked the Regency, the robusto-sized (5.5 x 50) follow-up to the debut Toro size. Far from the discount origins of the line, it’s a premium-priced offering that will run around $13 per cigar.

The cigar features an Ecuadorian Habano Rosado wrapper around dual Nicaraguan Habano and Criollo binders. The aged filler tobaccos reportedly use tobacco from the Garcia family’s farms in Estelí, Jalapa, and Namanji.

The cigar starts out with roasted cashew, cedar, and leather notes. There’s plenty of spice with white pepper and cayenne, and a finish that includes wood and slight citrus peel.

This is a full-flavored cigar with plenty of spice. Smoked slowly and it will show some balance, but when rushed, even a little, it quickly develops slightly sour notes. The draw was overly tight on one of the samples I smoked, but otherwise the combustion was solid, if not excellent.

I’ve been a big fan of La Aroma de Cuba over the years, but I have a hard time recommending the Noblesse over the earlier and more affordable blends in the line. Still, the Noblesse Regency is a solid and enjoyable offering that 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

Quick Smoke: Drew Estate Herrera Estelí Short Corona

3 Feb 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 cigar frequently gets called “Cubanesque” and I suppose that’s correct but really what makes it stand out is the excellent balance. The original Herrera Estelí (the line has since been expanded) was blended by Willy Herrera using Ecuadorian, Honduran, and Nicaraguan tobaccos. It has a complex, medium-bodied profile with  cedar and cafe-au-lait flavors and hints of pepper and honey. With excellent combustion, I’m reminded that whenever I return to try this blend my appreciation for it is reinforced.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Tip: Four All-Time Great Cigars Before They Were Discontinued

31 Jan 2019

Most discontinued cigars were discontinued because they didn’t sell. Look at the cigars introduced at the IPCPR Trade Show five years ago and you’ll find many that aren’t around anymore, or have been relegated to close-outs.

But other cigars have been discontinued for other reasons. Today we look at four cigars that were discontinued despite being considered excellent.

Cuban Bolivar Gold Medal

This Cuban lonsdale was a cigar connoisseurs appreciated, even though it apparently never was a big seller. Not only is it a bold and full-bodied Cuban, it features iconic gold foil packaging. The pre-1960 release was first discontinued in 1992 only to be brought back in 2007 and then dropped again in 2011. Given its history, don’t be shocked if it makes it back as a limited edition release.

Cuban Davidoffs

Legendary cigars until they were discontinued in 1991, Davidoff was the last company that wasn’t controlled by the Cuban government to make cigars with Cuban tobacco. Davidoff pulled out of Cuba in 1991 because of reportedly sub-standard tobacco, which Zino Davidoff dramatically and symbolically burned to show that it wasn’t up to his standards. Still, prior to that, Davidoff Cubans were the perfect combination of capitalist production standards and the ideal climate for growing tobacco. Today, old Cuban Davidoffs are a preview of what could come when Cuba finally embraces economic liberalization.

Pepin-made Padilla 1932

Production of the Padilla 1932 didn’t stop when Pepin stopped making Padilla cigars in 2008, but the cigar has never been the same. Later versions of the Padilla 1932 were nice cigars, but the original 1932 was one that made me appreciate just how complex, balanced, and exquisite a cigar really can be. (If you want to identify the Pepin-made Padilla 1932, look for “Padilla” in block letters, as opposed to script in later versions.) I smoked many of these cigars before they were discontinued; I wish I had scooped up a few more boxes when I had the chance.

Tatuaje Black Corona Gordo “Ceramic Jar” Release

Not so much discontinued but introduced as a limited edition, the Tatuaje Black line has only expanded over the years, but none match the original 2007 Ceramic Jar release. (Not even the follow up jar release.)  Only 1,000 original jars of 19 were made and, from the dozen or so I smoked, no other Tatuaje quite compares (high praise when you look at all the high ratings Tatuaje has received). One of the overlooked facts about early Tatuajes is that before Pepin and Eduardo Fernandez’s 2010 lawsuit, these cigars included tobacco from Aganorsa farms. As good as many of today’s Tatuaje cigars are, the combination of Aganorsa and Pepin was something really special, even though the subsequent litigation means it probably won’t happen ever again.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys