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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 cigar reviews, please click here.]

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Villiger La Libertad Robusto

3 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.”

Villiger recently updated the dress of its La Libertad line to match its more recent offerings. The blend remains unchanged, with the $6 Robusto (5 x 52) employing an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, a Mexican binder, and filler from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. The cigar, which is made at the ABAM factory in the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo, features a notes of sweet cream, hay, toast, and roast cashews. The mild, well-balanced cigar has enjoyable flavors that would go well with a morning cup of coffee. Despite the need for a few touch-ups (outside in a breeze), construction is largely good.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Curivari Gloria de Leon Dominante

30 Oct 2019

Curivari has grown a reputation as a brand that appeals to fans of Nicaraguan cigars and provides excellent value for the price. They’ve particularly been lauded for the Buenaventura line (which we’ve often praised). Today, though, we’re checking out the Curivari Gloria de Leon line.

Like other Curivari offerings, it is dominated by Nicaraguan tobacco. In this case, it’s a Nicaraguan puro with a Criollo wrapper surrounding a combination of Cuban-seed Criollo and Corojo tobaccos. It comes in three sizes: Fuerza (4.5 x 50), Dominante (5.25 x 54), and Prominente (6.75 x 54). I smoked three of the thick robusto-sized Dominante vitola for this review.

The cigar retails for $6-7 and comes in boxes of 10. (I’m a big fan of 10-count boxes, which I find to be very consumer-friendly.) The medium reddish-brown wrapper is framed by a classic red, white, and gold band that one might reasonably conclude is deliberately similar to the classic Cuban Hoyo de Monterrey.

Pre-light notes include bread and subtle licorice. The cigar opens with a blast of black coffee followed not long after with wet cedar and bread notes. Soon, it progresses to a spicier profile, with gingersnap cookies, red pepper, nutmeg, and clove.

It’s a complex cigar that wobbles back and forth over the line between medium- and full-bodied. Towards the final third, it settles into a more medium-strength profile with some creaminess and fruit notes. Baking spices remain on the finish.

Construction is excellent with a firm (but not-too-firm) draw and solid gray ash. One of the more interesting cigars I’ve smoked recently, and one with flavors that are anything but linear, the Curivari Gloria de Leon Dominante earns a rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Tatuaje Blend 4 (Saints & Sinners 2019)

27 Oct 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.”

Personally, the biggest reason I keep up my membership in the Saints & Sinners club (I’ve been a member since they launched) is the cigars. Membership fees get you access to the members-only forum, a membership card, branded accessories, and 15 cigars (more this year, as the price also includes CRA membership). This year’s smoke kit includes Blend 4, a torpedo with a rich brown wrapper. The cigar features leather, wood, earth, and cinnamon. It’s medium-bodied, balanced, and very tasty.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Spirits: Oban Bay Reserve The Night’s Watch Single Malt Whisky

23 Oct 2019

Pop culture and whiskey have become a natural pairing. Just look at the list of celebrities who have lent their name to recently: Bob Dylan, Drake, Conor McGregor, Metallica, Matthew McConaughey, and even Nick Offerman. Likewise, television shows and movies are hardly immune to whisky crossovers; for example, Lost in Translation (Suntory Japanese Whisky), Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Old Forester Statesman), and Walking Dead (Spirits of the Apocalypse).

Yet no pop culture brand seems to have cashed in on the Hollywood/Whiskey connection more than Game of Thrones. As it entered its eighth and (frankly underwhelming) final season, the HBO series partnered with spirits giant Diageo for an extended line of scotch whiskies. And partner they did.

Three Johnnie Walker blended scotch whiskeys were introduced (White Walker, followed more recently by two others). Most notable, though, is the line of exclusive single malt whiskies, each from a different distillery under the Diageo umbrella. Eight whiskies from eight distilleries represent seven of the major houses from the series, plus the Night’s Watch. (Another Game of Thrones single malt, a 15-year-old from Mortlach, is on its way too.)

Today I’m tasting the Oban Bay Reserve: The Night’s Watch, which seems to be one of the harder to find offerings in the line. Made at the Highland distillery Oban, it is 43% ABV, NAS (no age statement), and sells for $63 per bottle. This makes it more expensive than the NAS Oban Little Bay offering, but less expensive than the popular 14 Year Old Oban.

The single malt pours a dark golden color with a nose boasting orange peel, malt, melon, light smoke, caramel, and solvent. On the palate, it has orange zest, waxy honey, red fruits, sea salt, and oak. The finish is medium in length with clove, oak, and powdered milk flavors.

Oban is known for blending the dry, smoky, peat-influenced style of Islay with the lighter, sweeter malts of the Highlands. While this spirit is no exception, I’d prefer a little more of the Islay influence. Apparently, because it’s hard to find, some stores are selling this for over $100 a bottle. But at that price you are far better off buying the 14 Year Old, which sells for around $70. At its normal MSRP of $63, The Night’s Watch is a reasonable value, considering you are paying for some Game of Thrones marketing. But I wouldn’t rush out to grab another bottle.

It pairs well with a fuller-bodied Dominican cigar. Particularly recommended are the Paul Garmirian Symphony 20th, Arturo Fuente Opus X, and La Aurora 107.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: E.P. Carrillo Selección Oscuro Especial No. 6

20 Oct 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 Selección Oscuro was the first E.P. Carrillo cigar to feature a Mexican San Andrés Oscuro wrapper. Underneath the dark, leathery wrapper is an Ecuadoran binder and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos. The medium-bodied smoke has dark, rich, earthy notes with powdered cocoa, bread, and a tiny bit of spice. The Selección Oscuro was a bit more spongy than I would have expected, although it didn’t negatively impact combustion at all, nor the noticeably cool smoke. As someone who generally isn’t the biggest fan of the San Andrés wrapper, it is noteworthy how much I enjoyed this cigar.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Tips: Five Cold-Weather Drinks to Pair with Cigars

16 Oct 2019

Monday was Columbus Day, which means summer is in the rear-view mirror. With autumn’s arrival, temperatures will be dropping. And if you’re smoking cigars outdoors, you may be looking for a drink pairing that works with the season. Here are five suggestions:

Single Malt Scotch — It is exceedingly rare that I drink scotch when the temperature is warm, but this time of year I find myself pouring scotch to pair with a cigar more often. Depending on your taste, peaty scotch or sherried single malt whiskey both have unexplained warming qualities. Some of my favorites (Laphroaig PX Cask, Ardbeg Uigeadail) are actually both sherried and peated.

Hot Toddy — A classic that can be made with scotch (save the single malt, use a blend), bourbon, brandy, or even mezcal. It’s simple to make. Just add sugar, lemon, and cloves to boiling water and your spirit. Hot toddies pair well with Connecticut-wrapped, milder cigars.

Stonewall Jackson — An American classic consisting of hot cider and bourbon (but rye, Tennessee whiskey, or even spiced rum fill in nicely). As I’ve written before, it’s a late fall drink that pairs with stronger cigars, like the 601 Green or Fausto.

Hot Buttered Rum — Serially underrated (especially by those who have never tried it but think butter in a drink is just weird), hot buttered rum is a little more complicated to make than other hot cocktails. After you make it a few times, though, you’ll find it’s really not too difficult. Drink yours with a medium-bodied Honduran or Nicaraguan cigar, or anytime you are outdoors and it is snowing.

Coffee — Still a classic, coffee (in its many forms) is a perfect pairing for cigars. Coffee in the morning with a mild cigar is a great pairing, same for a Cuban coffee in the afternoon or evening. If you don’t want caffeine late at night give decaf a try. (My bias against decaf stopped me from drinking it for years, but lately I’ve found some excellent decaf roasts from a local coffee shop.)

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys