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Cigar Review: Partagas Heritage Rothschild

24 Apr 2017

Heritage Box

General Cigar’s new Partagas Heritage began with a nod to the past.

HeritageBlender Jhonys Diaz called it a “retrospective blend that celebrated the very best of Partagas.” According to General, Diaz and his team developed the blend more than ten years ago, “patiently saving it for a special release.”

It is a complex concoction. The wrapper is a proprietary leaf, Olancho San Agustin Valley; the binder is Connecticut Broadleaf; and the filler is Honduran Jamastran Dominican Piloto Cubano and Mexican San Andrés. This recipe makes for a tasty smoke.

Most noticable at the start are delicate spices that remain throughout, though they shift in prominence. Other flavors include some sweetness, occasional cinnamon, and leather. I ran across a bit of that Mexican dirt, but not strong enough or long enough to spoil the medium-strength cigar.

I smoked five of the Rothschild size, a 4.5-inch cigar with a ring gauge of 50. All burned superbly, with a tight ash and lots of smoke. I thoroughly enjoyed the size, and it’s interesting to note that when Rothschild commissioned the vitola in the 19th century he was seeking a short, large ring cigar.

This new line has that for today’s smoker. Packaged in boxes of 20, there are three other sizes: Robusto (5.5 x 52), Churchill (7 x 49), and Gigante (6 x 60). Suggested retail prices run from $8.49 for the Rothschild to $9.99 for the Churchill.

However, like many General cigars, list price and real price aren’t always the same. I’ve seen the Rothschild for sale online as low as $22.98 for a five-pack.

General has been producing Partagas cigars of one kind or another for decades. The Cuban brand, dating to 1845, also continues to sell widely around the world. The famed Partagas sign outside the old Havana factory should be familiar to anyone who’s been in more than a couple of cigar shops.

The bands of the two cigars can sometimes be remarkably close. The Heritage bands, for instance, obviously have different wording but otherwise closely echo those on the Cuban Partagas Serie lines.

We have reviewed quite a few Partagas cigars over the years, awarding several high ratings. This little smoke is worthy of joining that group, and I give it four stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: General Cigar Co.

Cigar Review: Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial TAA 2017

19 Apr 2017

Jaime-Garcia-RE-TAA17 - 1

Jaime-Garcia-RE-TAA17 - 1 (1)In 2011, My Father Cigars released a Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial in a box-pressed torpedo size exclusive to members of the Tobacconists’ Association of America (TAA). In 2017, the same size is back again for TAA, a small association of 80 or so cigar retailers that includes many of the most prominent U.S. tobacconists. (In case you come across the 2011 version, you can differentiate the two by noting only the 2017 edition has “TAA” printed in gold on the blue foot band.)

I don’t think it’s unfair to say the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial line is overshadowed by the eponymous My Father lines, much like tobacco patriarch Don José “Pepin” Garcia overshadows the talents his son, Jaime. But my experience smoking four of the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial TAA 2017 cigars serves as a reminder that Jaime Garcia’s talents aren’t to be overlooked.

Like the entire Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial line, the $9.50 TAA edition (6.125 x 52) features a dark, oily Broadleaf wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. The exact differences between the TAA edition and the regular sizes aren’t disclosed, but reports are the TAA blend is tweaked and the 2017 version uses tobaccos that are extra aged (compared to the 2011 TAA).

A savory oak flavor dominates the cigar, which also features an abundance of unsweetened chocolate and black coffee. Other flavors include a subtle syrupy sweetness and pepper that particularly comes through on the retrohale.

Construction on each of the cigars was flawless. The box-pressed torpedo shape concentrates the flavors nicely on the palate. The taste is largely consistent from start to finish, but the chocolate and pepper both build towards the final third as the profile ramps up from medium-bodied to medium- to full-bodied.

The Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial TAA 2017 is a classic Broadleaf maduro smoke. It is rich and balanced with equal parts subtle sweetness and spice. This cigar makes me want to revisit the regular offerings in the Jamie Garcia Reserva Especial line. It earns a rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Lavida Habana (LH) Colorado Lancero

17 Apr 2017

LH Colorado

Founded by Nick Syris and Omar Nasir, LH Premium Cigars arose from a line of custom-made Cuban cigars exclusive to Lavida Habana, a chain of high-end retail shops in the Middle East. The idea was to expand distribution to the U.S. market with non-Cuban blends.

LH Colorado LanceroLH Premium Cigars launched in the U.S. in 2014 with Claro and Maduro lines, and in 2015 debuted the Colorado. Each is crafted at the Tabacos de Costa Rica factory in Costa Rica and was originally offered in three vitolas: Robusto, Toro, and Gordo. Since, Lancero, Petit Gordo, Corona, and Churchill formats have been added to each of the three lines.

The Colorado sports an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder, and filler tobaccos from Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Peru. It is billed as medium- to full-bodied, and the advertised flavors include oak, fig, maple syrup, vanilla, citrus, cloves, pine, melon, cinnamon.

I smoked several LH Colorado Lanceros for this review. This cigar retails for $9.50 and measures 7.5 inches long with a ring gauge of 42. Beneath a band of black, red, and gold is a velvety, clean, reddish wrapper with thin veins. The soft pre-light notes at the closed foot remind me of sweet hay, honey, and graham cracker. Despite the thin ring gauge, the cold draw is clear.

At the outset, I’m greeted by a spicy cedar core that’s dry, salty, and fairly aggressive on the palate. Background notes include cayenne heat, cereals, dried fruit, and sunflower seeds. After half an inch, the salt fades a bit as cream, peanut, and honey become more apparent. Still, the driving force is cedar, the effect of which—for least to me—is very frequent sips of water (and, yes, bourbon). The texture is bready.

Towards the midway point, the Lancero gains complexity with the addition of some faint floral notes and melon. A bitterness is also present, though it is not a focal point of the profile. The body is squarely medium, and the resting smoke boasts a nice aromatic sweetness. There are no major changes in the final third, save for a slight increase in intensity and heat.

Throughout, the combustion qualities leave little to be desired. This is a well-made Lancero with above average smoke production, a fairly stable ash, a smooth draw, and a burn line that—while not perfect—doesn’t really require any touch-ups along the way to stay even.

In many respects, I think the Lavida Habana Colorado Lancero delivers an experience that’s classic and Cuban-esque (perhaps not surprising, given the company’s origins) layered with a little more strength and some Nicaraguan zing. On its own, it falls short of exceptional and, to my taste, could benefit from less salty bite; paired with the right libation, though, it can be quite satisfying. All of this adds up to a score of three and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Drew Estate x Caldwell All Out Kings Smash

12 Apr 2017

All Out Kings - Drew x Caldwell

All Out Kings has been an extraordinarily anticipated cigar since the initial announcement last year. A collaboration between Caldwell Cigar Co. and Drew Estate, the line began shipping only recently.

All Out Kings - 2Here’s how the blend is described on the website set up for the line: “All Out Kings debuts with tobaccos from La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate in Estelí, Nicaragua, including Connecticut stalk-cut and sun-cured Habano wrapper with an Indonesian Sumatra binder and filler comprised of Jalapa Viso, Estelí Viso, Dominican C-98 Seco, and Connecticut Broadleaf Ligero.” Originally, production was planned to take place at the Joya de Nicaragua factory, but ultimately the blend was rolled at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate.

Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?

I thought so before I tried one. But the flavors from this smoke just didn’t line up with what I enjoy in a cigar.

First, there was what I can describe only as a dirty taste that I’m guessing comes from the stalk-cut wrapper, a procedure which can produce heavily earthy notes. Then there was the sharp, back-of-the-throat bite that was particularly intense in the first inch or so and came back in the final third.

Much of the cigar—I smoked three of the robusto-sized Smash (5 x 52), for which I paid $69 for a five-pack—exhibited what I’ve come to think of as a campfire taste with some astringency along the way.

On the other hand, the cigar is an extraordinary performer. The draw and smoke production in all those I smoked were excellent, while the burn was razor sharp. The white ash held on tightly throughout.

I can’t imagine this cigar will engender many middle-of-the-road reactions. If it suits your palate, you’ll likely be a big fan; if not, your reaction will probably be similar to mine. And the only way to find out where you fall on the scale is to try one.

All Out Kings comes in four vitolas. The other three are Gimme Your Lunch Money (5.75 x 46), Foreverlast (6.5 x 54), and The Fourth Pose (6 x 54). All are available in 20-count boxes.

For me, this is a tough cigar to rate. All Out Kings is obviously not a bad cigar. It just doesn’t appeal to me. which is why I give it three stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: Caldwell/Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Lucious Lyon No. 1

10 Apr 2017

Lucious

In October, Meier & Dutch, announced Lucious Lyon. If the Meier & Dutch name doesn’t ring a bell, it is the distribution arm affiliated with Cigars International, which is owned by the Scandinavian Tobacco Group, which is also the parent company of General Cigar.

Lucious LyonLucious Lyon is inspired by the FOX television program Empire. I’ve never seen the show, so, employing my crack research skills, I will rely on the following Wikipedia summary of the premise: “Although filmed in Chicago, the show is set in New York and centers on a fictional hip hop music and entertainment company, Empire Entertainment, and the drama among the members of the founders’ family as they fight for control of the company.”

The Lucious Lyon cigar line—certainly not the first cigar venture aiming to capitalize on a TV series (e.g., The Sopranos, Breaking Bad)—is named after Empire’s lead character, portrayed by Terrence Howard. Along with the cigar, Meier & Dutch also released a line of complementary Empire-themed accessories, including a crystal ashtray, a high-gloss humidor, and a cutter and lighter by Xikar.

The cigar is made in Honduras at the STG Danlí factory and features a Connecticut wrapper, dual Connecticut Broadleaf and Mexican binders, and filler from four countries: the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Mexico. Three sizes are available: No. 1 (5.5 x 50, robusto), No. 2 (6 x 54, torpedo), and No. 3 (6 x 52, toro).

I smoked several Lucious Lyon No. 1s for this review. This vitola retails for $12.50 and comes with a large black band that easily slides off the oily Connecticut wrapper. Underneath is a well-rolled cigar with tight seams and soft pre-light notes of hay and molasses. The cap clips easily to reveal a moderate cold draw. Overall, the robusto makes a good first impression and sets the expectation that it is a high-quality mild cigar worth of your attention.

After an even light is established, the initial profile is dry, spicy, and surprisingly potent. The most prominent flavors include oak, cedar, salt, bread, and more black pepper spice than I was anticipating. After about half of an inch, however, the spice subsides a bit, and notes of cream and roasted nuts start to displace the dry bite. Thereafter, the robusto settles considerably into a mild- to medium-bodied experience with a focus on cream, hay, oak, and occasional hints of peanut.

Throughout, the draw is slightly tighter than I would prefer, and the smoke production is a little below average. That said, the burn line is straight and true from light to nub, and the ash holds very well off the foot.

I can’t help the fact that I’ve always been weary of any cigar bearing a celebrity name, an endorsement from a popular athlete, or a tie-in to a TV show. My sense is you often pay dearly for the name and licensing, while more important aspects like tobacco, blending, construction, etc. can be somewhat of an afterthought. In the case of Lucious Lyon No. 1—while I’m sure a portion of the $12.50 price tag represents a licensing fee to FOX—I’m happy to report the cigar is pretty good. Overpriced, but good.

In my book, this robusto would score better if the price more closely matched the quality of the experience. It would be a much better value in the $6-8 range. As it is, though, the Lucious Lyon No. 1 is a good mild- to medium-bodied smoke that gets off to a fast start and quickly settles into a creamy, nutty profile that’s familiar yet enjoyable. That earns it a mark of three stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: La Gloria Cubana Serie R Black Maduro No. 58

3 Apr 2017

Serie R Black Maduro

I still recall the first La Gloria Cubana Serie R I smoked, lighting it up years ago at the now-shuttered Bethesda Tobacco just outside Washington, D.C. It was undoubtedly the strongest cigar I’d smoked up to that time, and it knocked me for a loop.

Serie R Black MaduroBack then, the natural Serie R, with filler from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, was among the more powerful sticks on the market, as well as a progenitor of the large ring gauge craze.

Ernesto Perez-Carrillo introduced the Serie R in 1999, the same year he sold his El Credito operation to General Cigar.

I suspect the extraordinary success of that original Serie R line is what led General Cigar to introduce numerous variations. The Serie R Black Maduro is one of two that debuted last year. It’s for sale online, with the sibling Serie R Estelí Maduro sold as a brick-and-mortar exclusive.

The Black Maduro comes in three sizes, with the name of each reflecting the ring gauge: No. 60 (6 x 60), No. 64 (6.25 x 64), and No. 58 (6.9 x 58). You’ll find them all online for about $5 apiece by the five-pack—even cheaper by the 18-count box.

No. 58 has a dark Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper with the same Nicaraguan blend of binder and filler found in the original Serie R Estelí line. The colorful band features the familiar updated La Gloria Cubana female image with a secondary red band demoting “Maduro” in silver, as well as a foot covering.

The pre-light aroma of the wrapper is typical of many maduros: rich, warm, and a little sweet. And, after firing the cigar up, the flavors also include those we often associate with a maduro cigar. There’s chocolate and coffee, of course, and a bit of raisin. Mixed in as the cigar progresses is some pepper that tends to remain in the background.

From the start, the burn and draw are excellent, with smoke production first-rate. The burn is fairly slow, and this big vitola lasts a long time.

Coming in at such a low price, this cigar is easy to recommend for smokers who enjoy maduros, or those who haven’t tried them and want to expand their palate. I give the La Gloria Cubana Serie R Black Maduro No. 58 three and a half stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: General Cigar Co. / Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: CAO Consigliere Associate

29 Mar 2017

CAO-consigliere- - 1

When The Sopranos debuted on HBO in 1999, the series ushered in a new era of television, one where the most exciting and edgy viewing wasn’t available from the networks or even in the theater, but on cable, especially premium channels (and, later, on streaming services). By 2006, when its sixth and final season began, The Sopranos was a cultural icon, complete with its own licensed cigar.

CAOconsigliere - 1If you watched The Sopranos, you probably noticed how frequently Tony lights up a cigar: in his car (in the opening credits), by the pool, at the Bing, at Vesuvio, outside Satriale’s Pork Store, and on and on. With that as the backdrop, CAO partnered with the show in 2005 to create the CAO The Sopranos Edition line of cigars.

The line featured three sizes: Associate (5 x 52), Soldier (6 x 54), and a belicoso called Boss (7 x 56). Later, a Tony Soprano Signature (6.5 x 60) was added. All were packaged in boxes that looked like the trunk of of an old Cadillac. For what it’s worth, I thought this presentation was extremely unique and creative.

In 2013, six years after the show finale, CAO (now under the STG/General Cigar umbrella) announced CAO Sopranos was being discontinued. But that wasn’t to be the blend’s final act. Last year, the cigar was resurrected as Consigliere. The primary band remained the same, but the red trunk-style box and Sopranos-branded secondary foot band now sleep with the fishes.

The blend, however, remains unchanged with a Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper and Honduran binder around filler from Nicaragua, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic. The three original sizes and names all returned, with prices slashed almost in half (presumably, some of the savings came from no longer having to pay a licensing fee to The Sopranos and/or HBO).

I smoked three of the robusto-sized Associates for this review. Out of the gate, each is dominated by heavy leather notes along with charred oak and light pepper. Bread and rich espresso notes have an extended cameo. The full-bodied smokes featured excellent construction. The flavors don’t change much until the end where the spice and leather ramps up even more, joined by a savory meatiness.

I never smoked the original CAO Sopranos much, perhaps because for $10+ the line was in some pretty elite company price-wise at the time. With the Associate selling for $7 now, it is definitely worth another look.

I often find cigars that were full-bodied a decade ago seem more medium-bodied today. That isn’t the case with this blend, which remains a heavy, leathery (if not exactly balanced) smoke. It’s enough to earn the CAO Consigliere Associate a rating of three and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys