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Cigar Review: Intemperance Whiskey Rebellion 1794 Hamilton

8 Oct 2019

Nothing says “America!” quite like a tax protest, the most preeminent of which has to be the “no taxation without representation” movement that culminated in the Boston Tea Party. Whiskey is objectively better than tea, though; the 1790s insurrection against the so-called “whiskey tax” shouldn’t be overlooked.

Skip Martin of RoMa Craft Tobac is doing his part to draw cigar enthusiasts’ attention to the Whiskey Rebellion. You need look no further than a certain cigar in his Intemperance line—entirely fitting since Intemperance is an ode to everything the temperance movement was against (namely, booze).

The Intemperance Whiskey Rebellion 1794 cigar line debuted in 2016—approximately 222 years after the actual Whiskey Rebellion was squelched by President Washington. It was initially an exclusive for Famous Smoke Shop, which is headquartered in Easton, Pennsylvania (not far from the route Washington rode through Reading to Carlisle and back west through Womelsdorf to check in on the militia he sent to suppress the uprising).

Starting this summer, the Whiskey Rebellion cigar is no longer exclusive to Famous. It is available to retailers nationwide. It employs an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, an Indonesian Bezuki binder, and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

There are five sizes, each named for a major player in the rebellion. Hamilton (4 x 46, $6.15) is named for Alexander Hamilton, who believed an excise tax on whiskey would help the young nation pay for the Revolutionary War and draw public attention to the negative effects of alcohol. Jefferson (4.5 x 50, $7.10) is named for Thomas Jefferson, a prominent opponent of the tax. McFarlane (5 x 50, $7.35) is named for Major James McFarlane, the commander of the rebels who died in the conflict. Washington (5.5 x 54, $7.85) is obviously named for George Washington. And Bradford (5 x 56, $8) is named for David Bradford, a leader of the rebellion.

The Hamilton is a compact, handsome smoke with the familiar Intemperance band and a dark secondary band denoting the blend. As with other Intemperance lines, the exposed foot shows the binder and filler bunch for about a quarter inch past the wrapper. The cold draw is smooth.

The foot lights easily and immediately offers a unique opportunity to taste the binder/filler combo before the wrapper comes into play. To me, this part of the cigar is drier and spicier and less balanced than when the wrapper is lit—which stands up to reason.

Once fully operational, the Hamilton impacts a profile that’s medium-bodied, dry, and woodsy. Individual notes include cedar, oak, espresso, and thick molasses. The background sweetness has a character of warm natural tobacco. The texture is leathery and, at times, I can pick up a cherry sweetness. Across the three samples I smoked for this review, two had occasional burn issues that were easily corrected with a few torch touch-ups.

From light to nub, this cigar lasts about 45 minutes—which makes it a perfect way to satisfy an Intemperance craving without a significant time commitment. Call me a RoMa fanboy if you like, but this is another winner from Skip Martin, and a great sub-$7 smoke. In my book it’s worthy of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys


Cigar Review: Diamond Crown Black Diamond Radiant

30 Sep 2019

The J.C. Newman Cigar Co., best known for its Cuesta-Rey and Diamond Crown cigars, was founded in 1895. That’s the year a young Julius Caeser Newman crafted his first cigars in the family barn in Cleveland, which is about 1,100 miles from the city that’s been synonymous with the company for decades: Tampa. J.C. Newman has operated there since its 1954 move to a historic cigar factory in the heart of the Ybor City neighborhood.

With so much history—and given this industry’s proclivity to never let an anniversary pass without a new cigar—it’s no wonder J.C. Newman has a few milestone cigars. Diamond Crown, for example, while originally available in the 1940s and 1950s, was relaunched into the super-premium line you know today in 1995 to commemorate the company’s 100th anniversary. Later, in 2010, Diamond Crown Julius Caeser celebrated the 115th anniversary.

Not every Diamond Crown recognizes a milestone, though (which is perfectly fine, by the way; one shouldn’t require a reason to create a great cigar). I am not aware of any special motivation behind the launch of Diamond Crown Maximus in 2003. Nor am I of the newest Diamond Crown addition: Black Diamond.

Launched in 2016, Black Diamond is made at the Tabacalera A. Fuente factory in the Dominican Republic for J.C. Newman. “Eric and Bobby Newman worked closely with Carlos Fuente, Sr. and Carlos Fuente, Jr. developing a new blend worthy of the Black Diamond name,” reads a J.C. Newman press release. The result is a three-vitola line that includes a dark, eight-year-old Connecticut Havana-seed sun-grown wrapper around a Dominican binder and five-year-old Dominican filler tobaccos grown exclusively for this cigar. This “small-batch, epicurean cigar” is made in limited quantities and only available at 150 retailers.

The three sizes are: Emerald (6 x 52), Marquis (5.25 x 56), and Radiant (4.5 x 54). In keeping with Diamond Crown tradition, they are expensive. Per-cigar prices range from $15.55 to $18.25 when bought by boxes of 20; or $17.25 to $20.25 when bought by the 5-pack.

The Diamond Crown Black Diamond Radiant is a stout, pudgy cigar that’s mottled and fairly toothy. It has thin veins and a relatively spongy feel. At the foot are delicate pre-light notes of cocoa and leather. The cap clips cleanly to reveal a slightly stiff cold draw.

At this price, it’s impossible not to have high expectations when you light up your first. Fortunately, the Radiant gets off to a great start with well-balanced notes of espresso, dark chocolate, creamy peanut, and cereals. The texture is bready, the body is decidedly medium, and the spice level is low. The finish is characterized by cinnamon.

As it progresses, baking spices come to the fore and a green raisin note emerges. All the while the combustion properties are admirable. The burn line is straight, the draw opens nicely once lit, the smoke production is good, and the ash holds well off the foot.

I would only change one thing about the Diamond Crown Black Diamond Radiant: the price. I suppose that isn’t a fair way to judge a cigar, though. Price is so subjective. To one wallet, $10 is a lot to spend on a cigar; to another, it’s quite reasonable. At any rate, this is a wonderful cigar worthy of your time, attention, and, yes, hard-earned money. In my book it earns four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys


Cigar Review: CroMagnon Blockhead

23 Sep 2019

In August 2018, the last time we published a full review of a CroMagnon cigar, I stopped just short of begging forgiveness. “We’ve been operating since May 2006,” I wrote. “As a result, for over twelve years, much of what I’ve smoked has been dictated by necessity for this website. And while I’m sure you won’t shed any tears in my honor (despite being a lot of work, running a cigar site is a rewarding, entertaining endeavor), you can probably appreciate my predicament. Sometimes I just want to smoke—and, yes, write about—an old favorite.”

This was how I started my review of the CroMagnon Cranium, a blend that—at that time—had already been the subject of three previous articles at this website. Today, though, I’m not going to any lengths to explain myself. While CroMagnon is nothing new (either, as I’ve already stated, to this website, or to the cigar marketplace as a whole) we have not yet written about the Blockhead vitola. So here we are.

As a reminder, the CroMagnon recipe calls for a dark Connecticut Broadleaf maduro wrapper, a Cameroon binder, and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos from Estelí, Condega, and a small farm just south of the Honduran border. It is handmade for RoMa Craft Tobac under the direction of Skip Martin at the Fabrica de Tabacos NicaSueño S.A. factory in Estelí.

Blockhead (6 x 54) is box-pressed. It retails for about $11 for a single, or $100 for a box of 10. Not unlike the Cranium, it has a dark, reddish exterior leaf with moderate oils, plenty of tooth, and a couple noticeable veins. At the foot, the pre-light notes remind me of dark chocolate and syrup. The rough cap clips cleanly, and the cold draw is nearly effortless—noticeably clearer, in my opinion, than the Cranium.

Once lit, the body seems to be less intense than other CroMagon cigars. While it’s still a thick, leathery cigar with notes of black pepper, espresso, and chalky earth, the familiar char has been replaced with sweet notes: honey, graham cracker, and Cuban coffee with sugar.

In my previous comments about the Cranium, I had written, “To write this off as a power-bomb would be to overlook the expert blending that so clearly went into the cigar’s creation. There’s a complexity and balance here that’s often missing from many straightforwardly strong cigars. Creamy peanut, dark chocolate, and hickory add layers. And the strength level dips and surges—an effective strategy that ensures interest is not lost.”

With the Blockhead, all those supremely tasty flavors are there. But the aforementioned sweetness continues to surge along the way. As the cigar progresses, the combustion properties are stellar. The smoke production is voluminous, the ash holds well, the burn line is straight, and the draw is smooth.

I think this is my favorite CroMagnon vitola—and that’s saying something. What an immensely satisfying, well-balanced smoke. I’m settling on a deservedly wonderful score of four and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Sir Robert Peel Maduro

18 Sep 2019

Earlier this year, Cubariqueño Cigar Co. announced its newest line named after Sir Robert Peel, considered the father of modern-day policing. The tribute to the revered British policeman makes sense when you consider that Bill Ives and Juan Cancel of Cubariqueño both have law enforcement backgrounds.

The line is made at the La Zona Cigar Factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. It comes in two wrapper variations—Ecuadorian Rosado and Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro wrapper—each surrounding Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. Both are presented in a box-pressed toro format (6 x 52) with a suggested retail price of $12.

Today I’m examining the Maduro edition (which features a red band around the foot). Pre-light, it features golden raisins and light spice. The cigar is firm to the touch and, once lit, produces an even burn with loads of thick smoke from a sturdy ash.

It’s a full-bodied smoke from the get-go. Leather, chocolate, espresso, cedar, and cinnamon notes are all apparent. The finish is long with a woody notes and powdery unsweetened chocolate that lingers on the roof of your mouth. There is little variation from beginning to end.

Cubariqueño is best known for its Protocol line. But with Sir Robert Peel they are taking their partnership with Erik Espinosa’s La Zona beyond the basic Protocol branding. The full-bodied cigar has a lot to offer, and its old-school look is a departure from Protocol’s modern presentation.

Full-bodied, slightly rustic, and well-constructed, the Sir Robert Peel Maduro has a lot to offer. It earns the new Cubariqueño offering a rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credits: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Partagas Limited Reserve Decadas 2019

16 Sep 2019

Fourteen years ago, General Cigar Co. released a limited edition Partagas called Decadas. Spanish for “decades,” the line featured a ten-year-old Cameroon wrapper. The annual Decadas release was repeated until 2009, when General reportedly ran out of aged Cameroon.

But the 2009 Cameroon harvest was a very good one, according to General. This year it turned ten years old. Decadas has therefore been revived.

The Partagas Decadas 2019 comes beautifully presented in a green, ten-count box that’s protected by a white sleeve. Inside, each robusto extra (5.5 x 49)—the only size offered—is housed in a glass tube. Only 2,500 boxes were made, for a total run of 25,000 cigars.

Out in the open, you can take the measure of the precious Cameroon wrapper, which is surprisingly dark. It’s slightly oily with thin veins and a well-executed cap. The pre-light notes at the foot remind me of molasses. The cold draw is effortless, even if you only snip the very tip of the cap.

Once lit, the Honduran San Agustín binder and filler tobaccos (Dominican Piloto Cubano and Nicaraguan Ometepe) combine to yield a medium-bodied flavor that places the Cameroon sweetness centerstage. Sweet cedar comes to mind, as does the oft-repeated “warm tobacco sweetness” phrase. I don’t want to give you the impression this is simply a straightforward sugar stick, though. It’s not overly sweet, and there’s plenty else going on, including black pepper spice, red pepper heat, cereals, and oak.

I am not picking up a ton of changes at the midway point. Here, the cedar is a bit spicier and a little less sweet. I also believe the profile is earthier and more bready. This carries through to the final third, which is characterized by a slight increase in spice and intensity—still staying solidly in the medium-bodied range, though.

Throughout, the combustion properties are superb. The burn line is straight and requires no touch-ups along the way. The ash holds well, the draw is easy, and the smoke production is wonderful.

I honestly can’t recall if I experienced any of the previous Decadas releases. But that’s neither here nor there. This is a new cigar with a new blend (no previous Decadas employed Nicaraguan tobacco, for example); it deserves to be judged on its own merits. And while some will surely regret the lack of strength and relatively subdued body, I’ve always enjoyed mixing up my rotation with milder smokes and can appreciate their subtlety.

If you share this appreciation, I would suggest picking up a Partagas Limited Reserve Decadas 2019. It retails for $14.99 and shipped to retailers on July 14. And it’s worthy of a very admirable rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Powstanie Broadleaf Toro

9 Sep 2019

Like many of you, I’m sure, I’ve been a huge fan of RoMa Craft Tobac for years. In my estimation, the entire RoMa portfolio is well-made, expertly blended, and relatively easy on the wallet. The Intemperance BA XXI A.W.S. IV, especially, has long been a favorite of mine.

I tend to think of the RoMa Craft Tobac family extending beyond the core RoMa blends (Intemperance, CroMagnon, Neanderthal) to all cigars made at Fabrica de Tabacos NicaSueño S.A. in Estelí. While technically inaccurate, this frame of mind is not wholly inappropriate since, in my experience, I’ve yet to run across a NicaSueño cigar that wasn’t satisfying, tasty, and well-constructed.

Fable is one non-RoMa cigar made at NicaSueño. Powstanie is another. It is made for Pospiech Cigars, a distributor owned by owners Mike and Greg Szczepankiewicz. The name (pronounced poh-stahn-ya) honors the Warsaw Uprising—a 1944 underground operation aimed at liberating the city from German control. It comes in three blends: Habano, SBC16 (barber pole), and Broadleaf.

The Powstanie Broadleaf is available in four vitolas: Toro (6 x 52), Perfecto (5 x 50), Robusto (5 x 50), and Belicoso (5.5 x 54). In addition to a Broadleaf wrapper, these cigars feature Indonesian binders and a filler blend of Nicaraguan tobaccos (Estelí Ligero, Jalapa, and Pueblo Nuevo).

The Toro retails for about $10 and is packaged in boxes of 21. It is an oily, firm cigar with zero soft spots and attractive dual bands of red, white, and silver. The logo and colors are clearly a nod to the “anchor emblem” of the Polish resistance. The thickness of the Broadleaf wrapper results in noticeable seams and a few prominent veins.

The cold draw is slightly stiff with a pre-light flavor of dried apricot. At the foot, there is surprisingly little aroma, save for molasses and an earthy mustiness.

It’s amazing how quickly the draw opens right up as soon as an even light is established. The ensuing smoke production, which is voluminous, has a medium- to full-bodied profile of cereals, roast cashew, green raisin, and some warm tobacco sweetness on the finish. The texture is bready. As the finish lingers, I notice black pepper spice on the tip of the tongue.

As the Toro progresses, the spice remains somewhat muted, yet the body swings more decidedly towards the full-bodied spectrum. The fundamental flavors remain unchanged. Throughout, the combustion properties are solid. I would only add that the ash tends to fall off a bit prematurely, and the burn line does require a touch-up here and there to stay even.

Whatever minor shortcomings the Powstanie Broadleaf Toro has in the physical department, though, are more than made up for in flavor. This cigar has balance and complexity, and—despite the 90-minute plus smoke time—does not overstay its welcome. And here’s the kicker: For over a decade I’ve said the highest compliment I can pay a cigar is wanting to smoke another once I finish it. I feel that way about this one, which is ultimately why I’m awarding it four and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Protocol Official Misconduct Corona Gorda

26 Aug 2019

The Cubariqueño Cigar Company introduced itself to the cigar world in a way that was both humble and, by virtue of its association with a longstanding veteran, firmly grounded. In 2015, the small outfit came on the scene with a nondescript table at Erik Espinosa’s booth at the IPCPR Trade Show in New Orleans.

Back then, Cubariqueño founders Juan Cancel and Bill Ives, both police officers, were not entertaining delusions of grandeur. They set a goal to open 20 accounts and produced at one factory (Espinosa’s La Zona in Estelí). Before the show was over, they had sold their inventory.

Flash forward to today and Cubariqueño is still very much a small, boutique outfit. But, in an indication of their continued success, they’ve just launched a new size of their fourth blend—Official Misconduct.

The blend sports an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper around a Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos from Estelí and Jalapa. Originally, it was only available in a Toro (6 x 50). As of this summer, though, you can also find it in a Corona Gorda format (5.6 x 46). The retail price is $9.95 and the cigar is packaged in boxes of 10.

Beneath the Corona Gorda’s two silver bands and silver foot ribbon is a Colorado-hued, dry wrapper with more than a couple sizable veins. There are no soft spots; the feel is moderately firm throughout. The well-executed cap clips cleanly to reveal a smooth cold draw. At the foot, the pre-light notes are reminiscent of molasses.

Once lit, the initial flavor is chalky, papery, and dry with considerable black pepper spice. The effortless draw seems to contribute to the airy, papery sensation. Fortunately, after half an inch inch, the profile assumes a more interesting stance with the additions of cocoa, black coffee, and peanut. The next transition, which occurs within the first third, is even more welcome: a replacement of dry, airy notes with a creamy richness and more pronounced peanut. From here, there are few changes before the Corona Gorda is complete.

Construction is solid from light to nub. The burn line is straight, the draw clear, the smoke production voluminous, and the white ash holds well off the foot. None of this should be surprising. Cubariqueño might be new, but La Zona is an experienced, well-respected operation.

I’m looking forward to trying additional blends and sizes from Cubariqueño. And while I like the Protocol Official Misconduct Corona Gorda, the way this cigar starts—which was consistent across the several samples I smoked for this review—gives me some pause. That’s ultimately why I’m awarding it a score not greater than three stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys