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Cigar Review: Curivari Seleccion Privada Coronation Corona

17 Oct 2018

Last month my colleague wrote an article that (among other things) sought input on what cigars our readers would like to see us review. I was somewhat surprised by one comment that noted we’ve only reviewed two blends from Curivari’s many offerings.

I’ve long appreciated Curivari’s offerings for the value they provide and, frankly, I expected that in our hundreds of reviews we would have visited the Curivari line more than just twice. But apparently we haven’t. So today we look at another Curivari blend: the Curivari Seleccion Privada Coronation.

Curivari Seleccion Privada Coronation comes in three formats: a lonsdale called Cazadores (6.1 x 44), a Petite Corona (4.4 x 42), and a Corona (5.1 x 44). I smoked three of the latter vitola for this review. Each of the sizes comes in boxes of ten (I wish more cigars were sold this way), which can be found for just $40-50 if you shop around.

The Curivari Seleccion Privada Coronation isn’t listed on the dated Curivari website, but apparently the difference between the Coronation blend and the regular Curivari Seleccion Privada blend is the wrapper and size. The standard blend is frequently cited as using a Habano wrapper and it comes in sizes that are 50 ring gauge or wider, while the Coronation employs a Corojo wrapper and comes in the aforementioned thin sizes. Both blends, like most of the Curivari offerings, are Nicaraguan puros.

The Curivari Seleccion Privada Coronation Corona features pre-light notes of oat bread, hay, and cardamom. Once lit, notes of leather, tannins, and toast dominate the medium-bodied smoke. As it progresses, more cedar, black coffee, and cinnamon spice develop. The finish is long and woodsy.

The band looks like a Cuban Partagas from a distance and, while the cigar won’t be mistaken for Cuban Partagas when smoked, it does have a Cuban-esque element. Construction is excellent with an easy draw and sturdy ash.

Like the Curivari Buenaventura, this is a cigar that offers a lot of flavor for the price (both can be found for around $4 per cigar). With complex flavors and excellent construction, the Curivari Seleccion Privada Coronation Corona earns a rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Spirits: Foursquare 2004 Single Blended Rum & Foursquare Premise Single Blended Rum

10 Oct 2018

I’m both excited and annoyed about the prospect of rum becoming the new bourbon. In recent years, bourbon shortages have driven up prices, as demand has shot up for high end, well-aged, limited-release bourbon.

The plus side of that scenario is more good rum on the market. The downside, of course, is higher prices and standout releases becoming increasingly tough to find. For example, I’ve already heard Foursquare referred to as the “Pappy of Rum,” which isn’t good for rum drinkers considering the price and exclusivity of Pappy.

That said, it isn’t hard to see why Foursquare is so highly regarded. The Barbados-based distillery uses traditional distilling methods, innovative cask usage, and an unadulterated (without added sugar) style.

The Foursquare 2004 Single Blended Rum and Foursquare Premise Single Blended Rum each show off what makes Foursquare a standout for many rum lovers. Prices vary for each, if you can find them (the 2004 will be particularly hard to find), but expect to pay $60-90 for each.

Foursquare 2004 Single Blended Rum
This artisanal pot and twin column-distilled rum has been aged for 11 years in ex-bourbon casks and is bottled at full strength (59% ABV)
Nose: Bourbon-y with vanilla, oak, dried fruit, and a hint of ginger
Palate: Great intensity with nutmeg spice, chocolate, vanilla, and tropical fruit, though surprisingly lacking in heat given the high proof
Finish: Long with banana, nutmeg, and oaky vanilla

Foursquare Premise Single Blended Rum
Distilled in pot and twin column stills, this ten-year-old bourbon was aged three years in ex-bourbon casks before being transferred to ex-sherry casks and bottled at 46% ABV
Nose: Dried fruit, orange peel, and maple
Palate: Sophisticated and balanced with honey, red wine, red apple, marmalade, and pralines
Finish: Long and rich with sherry, vanilla, citrus, and wood spice

These are two great rums, each elegant in their own way, and both perfect pairings for a fine cigar. Personally, I prefer the intensity of the higher-proof 2004, but Foursquare Premise is also one of the best ten or so rums I’ve ever enjoyed.

Pair each with a good cigar and you’ll be in for a treat. Foursquare 2004 can stand up to the strongest full-bodied cigar like the Bolivar Royal CoronaDrew Estate Liga Privada Único Serie Velvet Rat, or Litto Gomez Diez Small Batch. Foursquare Premise pairs excellently with a balanced, medium-bodied cigar like the Paul Garmirian Reserva Exclusiva, Tatuaje Black, Warped Futuro, or Davidoff Colorado Claro.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Paul Garmirian Symphony 20th Connoisseur

7 Oct 2018

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 Paul Garmirian Symphony 20, which celebrates 20 years of the PG brand, debuted in 2009 at a dinner on the final night before Virginia’s smoking ban took effect. It was officially released in 2010 in a single toro-sized format called Connoisseur, with other vitolas added later. This particular cigar comes from the original batch and therefore has at least nine years of age (the wrapper is from 2007). While time tends to have a mellowing effect on cigars, this cigar still has full-bodied flavors with notes of leather, roasted almonds, black coffee, light cedar, and a hint of must. Construction is excellent. Somewhat surprisingly, nearly a decade of age hasn’t changed this cigar as I would have expected. But that’s OK; this was an enjoyable, complex, full-bodied smoke to begin with.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Illusione Rothchildes CT

26 Sep 2018

The original Illusione Rothchildes is a cigar I recommend to a lot of people, for all the reasons my colleague laid out when he first reviewed it in 2014. A flavorful, medium-bodied profile, excellent construction, and a sub-$5 price tag. You can’t go wrong.

It’s a cigar I regularly keep on hand to give to guests since it will be appreciated by cigar veterans, but isn’t so expensive that I’ll resent it if they decide they don’t want to smoke the whole thing. Everyone can appreciate the classic look (the band’s colors and square shape remind me of Henry Clay) and the size is ideal for when you don’t have a lot of time. Plus, it’s not too intimidating for a newbie.

Needless to say, when in 2016 (almost certainly due to the upcoming FDA deadline) Illusione introduced a Connecticut version of the Rothchildes, it became a cigar I wanted to check out, especially since, although I enjoy the original, I find cigars that use Mexican tobaccos generally don’t hit my palate quite right. Although formally introduced in the summer of 2016, it wasn’t widely available for quite a while thereafter.

Like the Mexican-wrapped version, the single CT vitola (4.5 x 50) comes with an affordable price tag ($5.50 MSRP, though you can buy a box for around $200). The Rothchildes CT swaps out that Mexican wrapper for an oily, tan Ecuadorian Connecticut leaf, though it still uses Nicaraguan binder and filer tobaccos, and is made at the TABSA factory in Nicaragua.

Connecticut cigars carry an expectation for mild flavors, but the Rothchildes CT reminds us this isn’t always the case. Pre-light graham cracker notes are followed by significant pepper once lit.

The medium-bodied flavors include buttered toast, cocoa, and oak. It is (unusually) both creamy and quite dry on the palate, especially on the finish. Construction was excellent on each of the three cigars I smoked, with an ash that held for well over an inch.

Like the original, the Illusione Rothchildes CT gives smokers a lot of bang for their buck, which makes it an excellent cigar to have on hand to smoke yourself, or hand out to friends. Enjoyable medium-bodied flavors and excellent construction earn it a rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Casa Fernandez Arsenio Corojo Robusto Grande

23 Sep 2018

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.”MF-La-Antiguedad-cg-sq


I’m increasingly a fan of of this affordable (around $5 each) offering from Casa Fernandez. (Interestingly, the bands have changed from Nicaragua to Miami, so presumably it is being rolled in Miami now, which makes the price even more impressive.) The Nicaraguan puro, made completely from highly regarded Aganorsa tobacco, features a well-balanced combination of coffee and light cedar. It’s medium-bodied and produces plenty of thick, powdery smoke. Construction is excellent.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Diesel Whiskey Row Robusto

19 Sep 2018

The prolific A.J. Fernandez made headlines with his collaborations lately, including with General Cigar’s Hoyo de Monterrey line. Largely unnoticed, however, is that A.J. Fernandez and General Cigar had been affiliated (albeit indirectly) for many years through A.J. Fernandez-made private label brands, including Diesel.

Diesel was originally a private label made for Cigars International (and its portfolio of sites, including and starting in 2009. Cigars International was purchased by then General Cigar parent company Swedish Match in 2007. Eventually, Swedish Match merged its pipe and cigar businesses with Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG), putting General Cigar and Cigars International under the same umbrella, even after Swedish Match sold off its share in the company.

Those close connections explain the integration of some Diesel lines with General Cigar, something that started in ernest last year with Diesel Grind. That was followed up earlier this year by Diesel Whiskey Row, which uses binder tobacco aged in bourbon barrels that previously held Rabbit Hole Bourbon.

In addition to the bourbon barrel-aged Mexican San Andrés binder, Diesel Whiskey row uses a three-region blend of Nicaraguan tobaccos from Ometepe, Condega, and Jalapa, each aged five to eight years. Surrounding it all is an attractive, reddish-brown, five-year-old Ecuadorian Habano wrapper.

The three Robustos ($7.50) I smoked had rich pre-light aromas featuring wood and earth but, notably, little that is distinctly bourbon-y. That would be a theme throughout the cigar which, despite its full-bodied flavors, doesn’t showcase the bourbon barrel-aged tobaccos as much as you might expect.

Leather notes dominate and combine with white pepper, oak, and black coffee. The finish is long with tannic leather notes. From start to finish, the leather creates a slightly unbalanced element to the cigar’s full-bodied cigars.

I didn’t have any Rabbit Hole Bourbon (it isn’t sold in Virginia where I live), but I did have an excellent Four Rose Private Selection that paired well with Diesel Whiskey Row. It may have limited bourbon notes, but the Diesel Whiskey Row Robusto earns a rating of three and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Reviews: Leaf by Oscar Corojo Toro

12 Sep 2018

If you’re familiar with Leaf by Oscar, that’s likely due to the unique packaging. Each cigar is wrapped in a tobacco leaf (hence Leaf) folded around the cigar and held in place by a brown paper band. Opening it is like unwrapping a present with tobacco (the leaf is not wrapper-grade, from the look of it). Beneath is a tobacco treat: a cigar with another brown band.

Leaf by Oscar is a collaboration between Jim “Island Jim” Robinson, known for his Leaf and Bean shop in Pittsburgh, and Danlí, Honduras-based cigar maker Oscar Valladares. The line comes in four wrapper varieties. In addition to the Honduran Corojo (the subject of this review) is a Honduran Connecticut, Ecuadorian Sumatra, and Nicaraguan Maduro Jalapa.

The reddish brown Honduran Corojo wrapper is oily. The line comes in four sizes: Lancero (7 x 38), Robusto (5 x 50), Gordo (6 x 60), and Toro (6 x 52). The Toro sells for around $9 per cigar and comes in bundles of 20.

I smoked four Toros for this review. (The Toro size apparently was adjusted from 50 ring gauge to 52 at some point.) Despite being slightly soft to the touch, the draw was easy, burn even, and the smoke combustion was abundant.

Pre-light, Leaf by Oscar features cashew nuts and pepper spice. Once lit, there is a combination of roasted notes, gritty earth, blackened toast, and slight red pepper.

Pepper is more prominent towards the first third of the cigar, which is medium- to full-bodied. As the cigar progresses, leather emerges as the spice dips slightly. The cigar has a dry element that is particularly notable on the finish.

Distinctly Honduran, but not a one-note cigar, it may not be exquisitely balanced, but it features complex, full flavors. That earns the Leaf by Oscar Corojo Toro a rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys