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Happy Fourth of July!

4 Jul 2018

flag-fourth

All of us at StogieGuys.com would like to wish you a very happy Independence Day. America’s 242nd birthday is a wonderful occasion to spend time with friends and family. So we’ve decided to take our own advice and barbecue, see some fireworks, and smoke more than our share of celebratory cigars. Have a safe, relaxing holiday.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

StogieGuys.com’s Top Cigars of 2017 (Part II)

28 Dec 2017

As always, the StogieGuys.com list of the absolute best cigars we smoked throughout the year is small: just four. That is, though, the same as in 2016. In fact, through the years, the number of five-stogie cigars has been relatively consistent.

Another constant in our five-stogie ratings is diversity. This year’s list, for example, features the debut of MBombay, a stellar line of cigars rolled in Costa Rica for Californian Mel Shah’s Bombay Tobak, and Cornelius & Anthony, a firm with longstanding ties to the tobacco business but is relatively new to premium cigars.

On the other hand, you’ll spot the familiar name Tatuaje. This marks its 10th five-stogie cigar, quite a few more than any other brand.

In order to achieve a five-stogie rating, a cigar must be better than good. As we note in the explanation of our rating system, a five-stogie cigar is “tasty, complex” and “truly an occasion.”

Here’s a chronological look at this year’s top-rated cigars:

MBombay Gaaja Maduro TorpedoWhile this is the first cigar from MBombay to score five stogies, it is not the first to be rated highly. Two others got four stogies and one received four and a half. The Gaaja Maduro was introduced early in 2017 and made a strong impression. Our review called it “delicious,” “harmonious,” “well-balanced,” and “up there with the finest.” It also urged readers not to be put off by the $15.50 MSRP: “This is one not to miss.”

Tatuaje Reserva Broadleaf Collection Havana Cazadores: When Tatuaje’s Pete Johnson introduced a 100-cigar collection rolled in Miami with a price tag of $1,200, the brand’s devotees were captivated. One of the distinguishing features of these cigars over similar earlier releases was the use of a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper rather than an Ecuadorian. The review found this lonsdale-sized smoke featured “tempered strength that walks the fine line between balance and full flavor.” It also called it “a perfectly constructed combination of full Nicaraguan flavors with the restrained richness that Connecticut Broadleaf provides.”

Cornelius & Anthony Aerial Robusto: In just a few years, Cornelius & Anthony has created an impressive line of cigars. The Aerial—rolled at Erik Espinosa’s La Zona factory in Nicaragua—has a creative combination of an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper with Nicaraguan filler and an unnamed U.S. binder. The Robusto has a $9.25 MSRP. As the review noted, “…the first few puffs are bursting with spice and a strong finish. By the start of the second third, the spice has backed off and tobacco sweetness moves to the fore. In the final third, the spice amps up again, mingling with leather and a light earthiness.”

Muestra de Saka Nacatamale: Since reentering the cigar business in 2015, Steve Saka, with his Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust, has knocked ‘em out of the park like Aaron Judge: a five-stogie rating in 2015 followed by numerous four-and-a-half rated smokes. This year’s entry comes packed in a wooden coffin with an MSRP of $15.95. “What makes Nacatamale so outstanding—and, yes, it is absolutely outstanding—is not any individual flavor,” said our review. “This cigar is a great example of how the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.”

You can find all 58 five-stogie rated cigars with reviews dating back more than a decade here.

Here’s to many more wonderful cigars in 2018!

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

StogieGuys.com’s Top Cigars of 2017 (Part I)

26 Dec 2017

It’s time for the annual StogieGuys.com roundup of the best cigars we reviewed throughout the past 12 months.

As it is every year, the number of cigars that achieved the coveted five-stogie rating is small: only four in 2017. That’s fitting because the top StogieGuys.com rating signifies the cigars are “tasty, complex” and are “truly an occasion” to smoke. The total also dovetails neatly with the results in recent years. In 2016, for instance, there were also four top-rated smokes, while six made it in 2015 and 2014, and only two in 2013.

On the other hand, many more of 2017’s cigars were close to the top. I counted 22 four-stogie cigars and 16 four-and-a-half-stogie cigars. Again, while the numbers go up and down annually, that’s not far off from previous years. Today we’ll take an alphabetical look at our four-and-a-half stogie candidates with a quote from each review. Later this week, we’ll follow up with the five-stogie rated cigars of 2017.

Aquitaine Knuckle Dragger: “RoMa Craft has built its well-deserved reputation on quality, consistency, and great bang for the buck. The Aquitaine Knuckle Dragger lives up to these virtuous characteristics…”

Davidoff 702 Series 2000: “With a perfect draw, solid ash, and even burn, the cigar delivers wonderful medium-bodied flavors from start to finish.”

Davidoff Nicaragua Box Pressed Robusto: “Without question, Davidoff’s first box-pressed line is a winner.”

Davidoff Year of the Rooster Limited Edition: “…the Rooster is incredibly smooth, balanced, and easy to smoke.”

El Galan Dona Nieves Negra Macho: “This is a flavorful, complex, well-made, balanced smoke at a very fair price.”

E.P. Carrillo Elencos Don Rubino: “After an even light is established, the profile is incredibly full-bodied right from the get-go. The bold, spicy flavors include espresso, black pepper, cayenne heat, and dark cherry.”

Illusione Singulare Phantom (Regular Production): “The new Illusione Phantom is a complex and balanced smoke…”

Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Limited Edition 2017: “Fans of Connecticut Broadleaf cigars will want to seek this one out, even if the price means it will probably be only an occasional indulgence.”

Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 Churchill: “… undoubtedly full-bodied, strong, and spicy. But to write it off as a mere heavy-handed powerbomb would be to miss the excellent, balanced flavors that comprise the profile.”

Las Calaveras Edición Limitada 2015 LC50: “The overall impression is one of a well-balanced, medium-bodied, spice-forward smoke with some Cubanesque, old-school personality.”

L’Atelier Imports La Mission 1999: “…La Mission 1999 may be the best L’Atelier to date. I would even encourage those who are typically put off by San Andrés (I know you’re out there) to give this standout specimen a try.”

Padrón Serie 1964 Prototype Maduro (Smoke Inn Exclusive): “I don’t think I’m going to surprise anyone when I say the Padrón Serie 1964 Prototype Maduro is a terrific smoke. It’s a compact, concentrated iteration of a blend we all know and love that delivers exactly as expected.”

Padrón Serie 1964 Prototype Natural (Smoke Inn Exclusive): “Once lit, nutty, creamy pre-light notes transition to a complex, well-balanced profile of oak, almond, sharp cedar spice, and vanilla. Background notes of powdery cocoa and cream help add balance.”

Sobremesa Elegante en Cedros: “Flavors include cocoa, cedar, café au lait, baking spices, creamy caramel, and white pepper. Balanced, harmonious, and delicious.”

Tatuaje Black Petit Lancero: “This classic-tasting, medium-bodied cigar scores very well due to its ample complexity and harmonious balance.”

Tatuaje Reserva Broadleaf Collection Especiales (Laguito No. 2): “All told, this is a wonderful, balanced, satisfying cigar that commands your attention from light to nub.”

You can read about the StogieGuys.com rating system here, find all of our reviews here, and see a curated list of five-stogie smokes here.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Best Wishes for a Merry Christmas!

25 Dec 2017

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From all of us at StogieGuys.com, we want to wish you and yours a joyous, safe, and cigar-filled Christmas. We’re taking today off to spend time with our families, but we’ll be right back here tomorrow with more reviews, news, interviews, commentaries, and tips from the world of cigars.

Until then, you can follow us on our official Twitter feed, on Instagram, and on Facebook, or you can sign up for our free email newsletter.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Happy Thanksgiving!

23 Nov 2017

Thanksgiving

StogieGuys.com will be taking November 23 and 24 off to enjoy that most American of holidays: Thanksgiving. (We will return on Saturday for our regularly scheduled coverage of the world of cigars.) Known for food, family, friends, and football, Thanksgiving is a perfect time to enjoy a fine smoke. Have a safe and happy holiday!

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

StogieGuys.com’s Top Cigars of 2016 (Part II)

29 Dec 2016

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This year’s collection of our highest-rated cigars is, like those in the past, a small set of the many we smoked. Only four achieved the heralded five-stogie rating.

That is two fewer than in 2015 and one below the 2014 number, but double that of 2013.

Obviously, a cigar needs special qualities to get such a high rating. We define them as “tasty, complex … truly an occasion” and worthy of “your full and undivided attention.”

Each year’s stellar crop is different from the past, and 2016 is no exception.

Warped Futuro Selección Suprema

First up is the Warped Futuro Selección Suprema. This Nicaraguan puro represents a collaboration between Warped and Casa Fernandez and is said to use rare Aganorsa tobacco. This vitola is 5.625 inches long with a ring gauge of 46 and an MSRP of $8.75. The review noted that it “starts with an initial burst of creaminess before it settles into a woody flavor with light spice and hints of honey. Occasionally, I even pick up on a combination of flavors that reminds me of banana bread.”

Paul Garmirian 25th Anniversary Connoisseur

Even a casual StogieGuys.com reader would likely be aware of our affinity for PG Cigars. They consistently rank among our favorites, and the Paul Garmirian 25th Anniversary Connoisseur did so in March. Released in a single size (6 x 52) with undisclosed details on the tobaccos, this toro was “characterized by restrained strength. You get the distinct sense that if it had been rushed at all the Connoisseur would have had some rough edges, but instead the full-bodied woodiness is tempered by a cornucopia of other subtle flavors. While $19 is a lot for a cigar, and you’d expect a lot for such a premium price, the PG 25th Anniversary delivers.”

Aging Room Cigars Bin No. 1 B Minor

The next cigar to gain five stogies in 2016 was an echo from an earlier year. Aging Room Cigars Bin No. 1 B Minor was a four-star stogie in 2014 and moved up after aging in my humidor. “All that made the Bin No. 1 such an enjoyable smoke seemed to be sanded down just a tad and locked together in a velvety, even experience,” I wrote. “I couldn’t help but think of the spice and sweetness as having become intertwined in some sort of cigar smoke double helix.” At 6.125 inches long with a ring gauge of 52, it has an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper with Dominican filler and binder. The retail price is about $12.50.

E.P. Carrillo Short Run 2016

The final five-stogie smoke for the year was the E.P. Carrillo Short Run 2016, a limited edition in a line that Ernesto Perez-Carrillo introduced in 2010, not long after starting his new company. With an Ecuadorian wrapper around Nicaraguan tobaccos, this toro-sized (6 x 52) smoke costs $12 and earned high praise in the review: “Exquisite in every way while maintaining incredible balance and offering rare subtlety, I have no reservations about awarding this triumph a rare rating of five stogies out of five.”

To find all our previous five-stogie cigars, click here. And you can read about the StogieGuys.com rating system here.

Here’s to even more great smokes in 2017!

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

StogieGuys.com’s Top Cigars of 2016 (Part I)

26 Dec 2016

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Each year, we round up the top cigars we reviewed over the past 12 months. Only a small number generate our highest rating: five stogies out of five, which signifies a cigar experience that is “truly an occasion” and worthy of your “full and undivided attention.”

Quite a few more cigars come close, rating four-and-a-half stogies out of five. This year, that honor went to a dozen cigars. It’s a rather remarkable mix, encompassing new and older smokes, high-end and budget price tags, small manufacturers and large operations, and limited editions along with wide releases. There’s a variety of tobacco blends, sizes, and strengths as well. During the year, we also awarded 43 cigars four stogies.

Since we don’t hew to a particular number, our top selections vary annually. Last year, for example, five cigars received five stogies, while 16 got four-and-a-half and 40 got four. The lineup in 2014 was four at the top and 15 with four-and-a-half. In 2013, just two got five-stogie ratings and 15 got four-and-a-half.

Here’s an alphabetical look at our selection of four-and-a-half stogies in 2016. We’ll follow up in a couple days with the year’s five-stogie smokes.

Black Label Trading Company NBK“I’m enamored with the flavors, I love the size, and I have no complaints about the presentation or physical properties.”

Davidoff Colorado Claro Aniversario No. 3“All in all, it is an excellent cigar, one with the complexity and strength to please a seasoned smoker while remaining accessible to a newcomer.”

Drew Estate Florida Sun Grown Limited Edition Trunk-Pressed Toro“The Florida Sun Grown Limited Edition Trunk-Pressed Toro is a joy to smoke.”

Drew Estate Liga Privada No. 9 Toro“When you get your hands on a Toro, though, you’ll find a highly pleasurable, full-bodied cigar with tons of flavor and a fair amount of spice.”

Las Cumbres Tabaco Señorial Corona Gorda No. 5: “After setting an even light with a single wood match, a toasty profile emerges with notes ranging from red pepper and cedar spice to cinnamon butter and dry wood.”

MBombay Gaaja Toro: “My advice is to enjoy this in a quiet, solitary environment with little distraction, and be prepared for a rewarding, distinctive experience.”

Mi Querida Fino Largo“It’s highly satisfying if you’re seeking something musty, earthy, rich, well-constructed, and—in the case of the Fino Largo, especially—strong.”

Ouroboros Lancero (Blue Havana Exclusive): “With superb combustion properties and a price tag around $9, this isn’t a cigar you want to miss—especially if, like me, you’re a fan of RoMa Craft Tobac.”

Partagas Ramon y Ramon Robusto: “The subtlety draws you deeper and deeper into the smoking experience.”

Sobremesa Corona Grande: “The complexity is palpable and highly enjoyable, and the sweetness of the resting smoke is mouth-wateringly intoxicating.”

Sobremesa Gran Imperiales“Just make sure you have enough time to smoke before you light it up; you won’t want to extinguish this large smoke before you hit the nub.”

Tatuaje K222“Once lit, you’ll find loads of powdery smoke with lots of oak, unsweetened chocolate, earth, and pepper spice.”

If you want to know more about our rating system, just click here. We maintain an alphabetical list of all our reviews (going back more than a decade) here, and a special list of five-stogie smokes here.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys