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Quick Smoke: La Grand Classe (Original Release)

23 Jul 2017

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

In 2012, Illusione’s Dion Giolito introduced this cigar as a small batch exclusive to his Fumare store in Reno, Nevada. In 2013, a second La Grand Classe Rex debuted. This year, the cigar is back as an Illusione-branded line in a petit corona format with a Ecuadorian Habano wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. Today, I’m smoking my last cigar from an original box of the 2012 release. The un-banded cigars came in a cardboard box with simple stickers for the logo and seal. La Grand Classe 2012 (5.5 x 52, $5.99) features a dark Mexican wrapper with some notable water stains around Nicaraguan tobaccos. The medium- to full-bodied cigar burns flawlessly with charred oak and earthy flavors with ginger and pepper spice. I wasn’t a huge fan of these when they were first introduced, probably in part due to my general aversion to Mexican wrapper leaf, but age has made me appreciate this cigar.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Azan Maduro Natural Campana

22 Jul 2017

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Azan is an old Cuban brand that was revived by Roberto P. Duran and reintroduced in 2013. Today, there are three Azan variations: White, Burgundy, and Maduro Natural. Maduro Natural includes filler tobaccos from Estelí and Jalapa, a Nicaraguan binder, and a dark Ecuadorian Corojo wrapper that reportedly takes over 22 months to process. This Campana (5.5 x 52, $10) had been resting in one of my humidors for about three years (though, with its nearly flawless appearance, I’m not exactly sure how it escaped the flame for so long). Once lit, it exhibits a rich profile of coffee, black pepper, cinnamon, roasted nuts, and cocoa powder. My hesitation in awarding a full recommendation is a result of the temperamental combustion qualities. The draw is tight and the burn line erratic.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Drew Estate Liga Privada No. 9 Belicoso

16 Jul 2017

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Drew Estate’s Liga lines have achieved iconic status among cigar enthusiasts. A complex, multi-country blend, a lengthy aging process, and excellent craftsmanship are hallmarks of the cigars. The No. 9 Belicoso (6 x 52) displays those qualities in spades. From start to finish, it’s rich, deep, and extraordinarily smooth. This is a cigar to savor and enjoy. In fact, the only likely complaint is that they can be tough to find. So when you do spot one, don’t pass it up.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Cubanacan Soneros Habano Claro Corona Gorda

15 Jul 2017

Each Saturday and Sunday 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 acquired this Soneros Habano Claro Corona Gorda (5.625 x 46) over two years ago for about $7.25. I don’t believe time has been particularly kind to its tobaccos. According to my review in January 2015, this cigar had flavors ranging from coffee and cream to roasted nut and milk chocolate. Back then, I really enjoyed it, calling it a “well-balanced treat that provides considerable bang for the buck.” These days, however, I am just getting a heavy dose of leather with a meaty, sour taste that isn’t terribly appetizing. I stored it well, too, as evidenced by the shape of the cigar and its near-perfect combustion qualities. But good construction doesn’t mean much if the profile is off.

Verdict = Sell.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Arturo Fuente Hemingway Short Story

9 Jul 2017

Each Saturday and Sunday 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 Fuente Hemingway is a classic blend that may have introduced more cigar smokers to Cameroon wrappers than any other cigar. I hadn’t smoked one in at least a year, but for whatever reason I decided to pick one up recently. I’m glad I did. Made with a Cameroon wrapper and Dominican tobaccos, the perfecto (4.5 x 49) demonstrated cream and coffee flavors with notes of cinnamon, black pepper, and cedar. Flawless construction and a reasonable price (around $6) make this an easy recommendation for seasoned smokers and newbies alike.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: La Galera 1936 Box Pressed Chaveta

8 Jul 2017

Each Saturday and Sunday 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 line extension from Jochy Blanco’s La Galera is made at Tabacalera Palma and celebrates his family history in the cigar industry. It sports a Habano Ecuador wrapper with a Dominican Criollo ’98 binder and Dominican Piloto Cubano and Criollo ’98 filler. It begins a bit harsh with a spicy finish. But the good news is it smoothes out after a quarter of an inch or so. Construction and performance are excellent. This isn’t a complex smoke, but if you’re looking for an everyday, low-priced cigar—I’ve seen this robusto (5 x 50) online for under $5—this is one to check out.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: La Galera

Quick Smoke: Pinar 1958 Serie B Pre-Embargo Cuban Rothschild

2 Jul 2017

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

If you’ve been smoking cigars for more than a decade, you might remember Pinar, a brand claiming to use pre-embargo Cuban tobacco. This article from 2005 unquestioningly retells the story. Some of their cigars were puros. The Serie B, however, only claimed to use some Cuban tobacco (supposedly 40 or 50 percent) with the rest Ecuadorian or Dominican, depending on what source you read. I purchased a five-pack in 2006 for just $21 and, over a decade later, I’m lighting up one of two remaining cigars. It features leather and sour notes, with underlying damp cardboard. Despite decent burn and combustion, this is simply a poor-tasting cigar. It’s so bad I put it down less than halfway through, which probably explains why I never finished the five-pack I bought eleven years ago. Fortunately for you, you won’t be able to find a Pinar 1958 Serie B Pre-Embargo Cuban Rothschild to buy.

Verdict = Sell.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys