Quick Smoke: La Aurora 107 Cosecha 2006 Corona Gorda

11 Nov 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.”

La Aurora 107 debuted in 2010 to celebrate the storied history of the oldest cigar manufacturer in the Dominican Republic. Last year, a limited edition 107 offshoot was introduced called Cosecha 2006. It sports a Habana-seed wrapper grown in Ecuador around a Brazilian Mata Fina binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The Corona Gorda (6 x 47, $10) is my favorite of three sizes. It boasts toasty, medium-bodied flavors of coffee, cedar (six months of age has softened the spice a bit, but it’s still quite sharp), cereals, and citrus. The combustion qualities are superb.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Drew Estate and Debonaire Partner Up on Daybreak, STG Planning Two Retail Locations in Texas, and More

10 Nov 2017

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post our sampling of cigar news and other items of interest from the week. Below is our latest, which is the 555th in the series.

1) Debonaire Cigars and Drew Estate have teamed up to launch Debonaire Daybreak, which is shipping this week and expected to hit retailers this month. It is “the first Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade-wrapped cigar exclusively sold through Drew Diplomat Retailers as part of the Drew Estate portfolio,” according to a press release. “Daybreak offers the ultra-premium quality expected of the Debonaire product line” with “crisp notes of spice and earthiness from the Central American fillers, [and] a nutty and sweet richness from the Dominican tobacco in the binder and filler with a smooth finish.” Six sizes will be available in the $8.74 to $13.25 price range: Corona (6 x 46), Belicoso (6 x 54), First Degree (4 x 44), Robusto (5 x 50), Sagita-Petite Lancero (5.5 x 38), and Toro (6 x 50). “Daybreak has given me a unique and nostalgic feeling of excitement in releasing another quality product into the industry I’ve been blessed to enjoy now for over 25 years,” said Phillip S. Zanghi III of Debonaire. “I cannot begin to express the excitement of the Debonaire lines’ growth, as well as the thanks and gratitude for those who enjoy my product and are willing to work with me.”

2) In an interim report this week, tobacco giant Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG) announced plans to spend up to $7 million to open two new retail cigar shops in Texas. STG owns General Cigar and operates a number of retail outlets internationally, as well as catalog and online operations. In the U.S., STG has three Cigars International shops in Pennsylvania and Manhattan’s tony Club Macanudo. STG did not specify locations or names for the new Texas shops and did not reply to an email seeking further details. The opening for the first new store is planned for the middle of next year. (UPDATE — 10:20 AM ET: STG has confirmed both locations will be Cigars International stores, with one in Forth Worth and the other in the Dallas suburb of The Colony.)

3) Pennsylvania-based retailer Famous Smoke Shop has announced two new exclusive cigar lines, both made at Nestor Plasencia’s Nicaraguan factory and blended by Famous employees. Jim Charnley, director of purchasing and merchandising, created Huntsman Cigars, which is inspired by his Scottish heritage. His recipe includes a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper, a Mexican binder, and Honduran, Nicaraguan, and Brazilian filler tobaccos. Michael Klingerman, Famous’ buyer of exclusives, created Truce Connecticut Reserve to symbolize the “middle ground we turn toward in times of turmoil.” His blend includes a Honduran Connecticut wrapper, a Nicaraguan Habano binder, and filler tobaccos from Honduras and Brazil. Both new lines are offered in three sizes—Churchill, Toro, and Robusto—and retail in the affordable $5.25 to $5.75 range.

4) Apple has removed multiple apps from its app store because of their cigar-related content. Cigar Aficionado announced this week that its “Where to Smoke” app, which provides cigar smokers with listings of smoking-friendly venues, was removed after Apple cited the app as violating its prohibition on promoting tobacco use.

5) Inside the Industry: Gurkha is offering three distinct “Super Luxury Packages” that include first-class accommodations from anywhere in the world to Miami for a three-night stay to blend your own cigars at Gurkha’s headquarters. Depending on your package of choice, you will receive anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 cigars. Prices range from $100,000 to $1,000,000.

6) From the Archives: Cook a steak up right, with the our guide to the perfect steak.

7) Deal of the Week: StogieGuys.com recommends Bespoke Post, a monthly collection of awesome items (think fine bar accessories, hot sauce kits, shaving accessories, wine, workout gear, exclusive cigars, and more) delivered for just $45. Once you are signed up there is no obligation; you can skip or purchase every month. Sign up here to be eligible for the December box.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Drew Estate

Cigar Spirits: Glenfarclas 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky

8 Nov 2017

Glenfarclas is an independent distillery, owned by the same family for 150 years. That’s a rarity in this era of corporate-dominated liquor brands.

The Speyside distillery features a range of aged single malts, from 10 years all the way up to 25 years old. They also make a cask strength version, the Glenfarclas 105, and a more exclusive Family Cask Range of vintage single malts.

Previously, I’ve praised the Glenfarclas 17, which sells for around $100 a bottle. Today I’m sipping a younger, more affordable offering: the 12 Year, which sells regularly for $50. (I recently picked up a bottle on sale for just $36.)

Glenfarclas 12 Year (43% ABV) is light amber in color, and the nose features classic sherried notes (dried fruit and brown sugar) along with pear and eucalyptus.

On the palate, it’s bright, fresh, and complex with melon, marmalade, pound cake, and honey, combined with resinous oak and clove spice. The finish brings out more sherry influence, with praline, classic oloroso, and candied fruits.

No one is going to mistake the Glenfarclas 12 Year for its 17 Year sibling. It lacks the richness and depth of flavor. But the 12 Year does feature a nice combination of enjoyable flavors, approach-ability, and value. Find it for under $40 (like I did) and it’s a real steal.

Pair it with a mild- to medium-bodied cigar, so as to not overwhelm the single malt.

I’d particularly recommend the Davidoff Grand Cru, Illusione Epernay, Tatuaje Black, or Ashton Classic.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Drew Estate Undercrown Sun Grown Corona

6 Nov 2017

Back in July, Drew Estate issued a flurry of pre-IPCPR Trade Show announcements, the foremost being the introduction of the new Undercrown Sun Grown line. Sun Grown makes three in the Undercrown portfolio, joining the Ecuadorian Connecticut-wrapped Undercrown Shade (released in 2015) and the original San Andrés-wrapped Undercrown line (released in 2010), which is now sometimes referred to as Undercrown Maduro.

Sun Grown sports an Ecuadorian Sumatra sun-grown wrapper around a Connecticut stalk-cut sun-grown Habano binder and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos. The filler includes one leaf of “extensively aged Ligero from the Nueva Segovia region along the border of Honduras… selected to enhance the strength of the blend.”

“Challenging [Drew Estate Master Blender] Willy Herrera and the Undercrown blending team to create the new expression after finally securing sun-grown tobacco is extremely exciting, as we have tried to secure this Sumatra Ecuador tobacco for over 15 years,” said Jonathan Drew in a press release. “The new Sun Grown continues the legacy of ‘blended on the factory floor.’”

Sun Grown comes in six traditional sizes—Corona (5.6 x 46), Robusto (5 x 54), Gran Toro (6 x 52), Belicoso (6 x 52), Gordito (6 x 60), and Corona Doble (7 x 54)—plus Drew Estate’s familiar, sought-after Flying Pig vitola. Suggested retail prices range from $8.20 to $12.72.

I smoked three Coronas for this review. This cigar has a smooth, velvety, milk chocolate-colored wrapper with moderate oils and only the thinnest veins. The well-executed cap and tight seams exude quality and careful attention to detail. The cold draw is nearly effortless, and the gentle pre-light notes at the foot remind me of sweet hay, earth, and green raisin.

After establishing an even light, the introductory profile is a medium-bodied combination of roasted nuts, salt, dried fruit, creamy butter, tangy mesquite, and warm tobacco spice. The resting smoke is aromatic and sweet with roasted nuts as the primary note.

After the first inch, a slightly sour, papery, somewhat stale taste creeps in that tends to overshadow the other flavors. The spice is now a bit subdued and reminiscent of a combination of white pepper and cinnamon. This is how the Corona remains until the final third, which sees an acceleration of spice.

As for the combustion properties, I’ve come to expect near perfection from La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate. The Corona doesn’t necessarily disappoint in this department—the draw is smooth and the smoke production is good—but the ash is temperamental and the burn, while self-correcting, tends to be slightly uneven.

When you add it all up, the Undercrown Sun Grown is by no means a bad cigar. There are plenty of interesting flavors, and smoking slowly tends to keep the stale note in the background.That said, it does not live up to the Undercrown pedigree; Undercrown Maduro and Undercrown Shade are both superior blends with more complex tastes.

I am interested to see how some of the other Sun Grown vitolas perform. To be fair, the Corona is the only size I’ve tried to date. For now, though, in my book, I rate it three stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Villiger La Flor de Ynclan Torpedo

5 Nov 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 Torpedo (6 x 52) is made by Villiger in the Dominican Republic using a pale brown Ecuadorian wrapper, Indonesian binder, and filler tobaccos from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. The cigar’s flavors include salted cashew, sourdough bread, citrus, cream, and clove. After a bit of harshness in the first ten minutes, it develops into a pleasant, medium-bodied cigar that pairs up nicely with Zafra rum.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Crux Classic Corona Gorda

4 Nov 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.”

My colleague George E has written favorably about quite a few Crux smokes, including Guild, Sports, Limitada PB5, Passport, du Connoisseur, and Ninfamaniac. My experience with the boutique operation—created by Jeff Haugen and Joel Rogers, owners of the Tobacco Grove shop in Minnesota—is very limited, though. So when my father recently handed me a Crux Classic Corona Gorda (5.375 x 46) and said it had become one of his favorite everyday smokes, I was intrigued. After smoking it, I was impressed. This blend features a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. The flavor is a spice-forward, medium-bodied combination of leather, black pepper, bread, and sweet cream. The combustion qualities are superb. A great bang for the buck and an easy recommendation.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Michael Giannini Joins Ventura, Astros Celebrate with Cigars, and More

3 Nov 2017

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post our sampling of cigar news and other items of interest from the week. Below is our latest, which is the 554th in the series.

1) Michael Giannini has joined Ventura Cigar Co. as the California-based operation’s new creative director. In addition to serving as a brand ambassador for existing lines–including Archetype, Case Study, Psycho Seven, and Project 805–Giannini will help develop new cigars. Previously, Giannini had worked at General Cigar Co. for 17 years, coming over after Swedish Match bought Ernesto Perez-Carrillo’s successful boutique brand that made La Gloria Cubana. Giannini is perhaps best known for his work at the helm of Foundry Cigar Co., a subsidiary of General that launched in 2012 and operated as a boutique with exotic packaging, obscure brand names, baroque themes, limited editions, and elaborate stories about the tobaccos. “I’m super excited to be joining the team at Ventura Cigars,” said Giannini in a Ventura press release. “This is a brand that has been flying under the radar, and I know people are going to love what we come up with next… So stay tuned!”

2) The Houston Astros clinched a riveting World Series on Wednesday and, naturally, celebrated with cigars. Pitcher Justin Verlander, who also happens to be marrying his supermodel girlfriend Kate Upton this weekend, was pictured smoking a cigar in the clubhouse. From the pictures, his cigar of choice appears to be a Cuban Cohiba Maduro.

3) Now is the season for rare bourbon and rye releases. Almost certainly, the most sought-after is the Pappy Van Winkle line. The suggested retail prices range from $60 to $270 each, but all regularly sell for five to ten times those prices. This year, one regular fixture in the lineup won’t be appearing. The sole rye, Van Winkle Family Reserve 13 Year Old Rye, won’t be released due to a lack of sufficiently aged inventory.

4) Inside the Industry: Viaje has released its annual Halloween-themed cigar, Full Moon. The 5-inch, 58-ring gauge Nicaraguan puro features 100% Aganorsa tobacco, including a Corojo wrapper. It comes in a 24-count box. The price has been reduced from last year’s release and now sells for $11.41 each.

5) From the Archives: It’s a few days late to help with this year’s costume, but here’s a list of a dozen cigar-related costumes. Start planning now; next Halloween is only 363 days away.

6) Deal of the Week: Here are 100 deals, including cigars from Ashton, Oliva, CAO, My Father, Tatuaje, Rocky Patel, Padrón, Drew Estate, and more. Free shipping is included on any purchase. If you really want to stock up, add promo code “GBP20D” at checkout to knock $20 off an order of $150 or more.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Facebook