Quick Smoke: Montecristo Nicaragua Series Toro

5 Apr 2019

A couple times each week we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Yes, this cigar is another collaboration involving the ubiquitous A.J. Fernandez and is handmade at Tabacalera A.J. Fernández Cigars de Nicaragua S.A., in Estelí. Yes, you should give it a try. Added by Altadis as a full-production line last year, the Montecristo Nicaragua Series is a puro that bears little resemblance to the brand’s other core lines. From the peppery start to earthiness, floral notes, and cedar along the way, the slow-burning Toro (6 x 54, $12.50) is a finely balanced and well-performing treat. Well worth lighting up.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Commentary: Random Thoughts from the Humidor (XXIX)

3 Apr 2019

Baseball, a return to smoking in sports stadiums, and Fuente Nicaragua… they’re all in this edition of Random Thoughts from the Humidor.

Baseball: The Perfect Pace for Cigars

We’ve written before about the pairing of cigars and baseball. While there are plenty of reasons why the combination works, it comes down to pace. The leisurely pace of hardball is also the pace of cigars. The 20 to 30 seconds between pitches is the minimum amount of time you want to put your cigar down between draws; the minute or two between half-innings or a pitching change is the opportune moment to refresh your drink, use the facilities, or light a new cigar. Sadly, if you want to watch baseball while smoking a cigar, these days your options are pretty much whittled down to your home or a cigar lounge.

A Million Dollar Idea for Billionaire Sports Team Owners

A long, long time ago (in 2006), StogieGuys.com proposed a cigar night at the decrepit RFK stadium. Why let most of the upper deck go completely empty, when you could host cigar smokers there, at least for a game? We were rebuffed and (I’m just saying) the Nationals have yet to win a playoff series since. To this day, when I see scores of empty seats in a stadium I can’t help but wonder, “Why not host a cigar night?” For example, watching my Mets play the Miami Marlins, I noticed the entire upper deck was not just empty but closed. So why not announce that anytime the roof is open at the park a section of the upper deck will be open for cigar smokers? If any town can pull this off, Miami, with its rich cigar culture, can.

Fuente Nicaragua… Coming Soon

Fuente’s new Nicaraguan factory should be coming online soon. The new factory, called “La Bella y La Bestia,” raises many questions. Most (but not all) Fuente cigars are still under the central Fuente name. Will the new Nicaraguan-made cigars carry the same branding? Or will the Fuentes decide to launch a new brand to distinguish their Nicaraguan offerings from those made at their Dominican factories? Only time will tell, but the prospect of many new, Nicaraguan-influenced cigars should be of great interest to all. (For more on the new factory, cigar smokers will find this interview with Carlito Fuente interesting.)

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Cameroon Merlin

1 Apr 2019

The Excalibur Cameroon line seems to be among the least heralded offerings in the vast General Cigar catalog. I think that’s a shame because it is, for my taste, among the most enjoyable.

It makes a fine first impression. The band, featuring a subtle green addition, is a classy variation on the regular Excalibur presentation. And the thin African Cameroon wrapper gives off a pleasant pre-light aroma that blends spices and sweetness.

From the initial puff, the spices are at the forefront. They’re light spices, not peppery. After about half an inch, sweetness begins to mingle. A little farther into the robusto, I noticed some leather, an occasional citrus note, pepper here and there, and a bit of espresso.

The flavors are balanced nicely from beginning to end, and the finish is long and smooth. I’d place the strength squarely in the medium range.

Construction was generally good in the half-dozen or so I smoked for this review. I did experience a little tightness in the draw at times in a couple of Merlins, though it worked itself out in each instance. Smoke production was excellent, as was the burn line. My only real complaint is the often flaky white ash.

It’s an interesting, multi-national blend. The binder is Connecticut Broadleaf and the filler combines leaves from Honduras, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua.

The Merlin, for which I smoked about a half-dozen for this review, is a slightly long robusto: 5.25 inches with a ring gauge of 50. There are three other vitolas: Lancelot (7.25 x 54), Galahad (6.75 x 47), and King Arthur (6.25 x 45).

While the Merlin carries an MSRP of $7.79, bargain hunters can find it for much less. I bought 10 for just a shade over $2.60 apiece.

I’d recommend this cigar to a smoker at any level of experience. I rate it a solid four stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Dunhill Heritage Robusto

31 Mar 2019

A couple times each week we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Few names in cigars can boast the history of Dunhill, though the brand is now being discontinued. One of the last new Dunhill blends before the announcement was the Heritage. The full-flavored cigar was produced in Honduras and made with an Ecuadorian wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and filler tobaccos from Honduras and Nicaragua. The well-constructed, box-pressed cigar is a a spicy, rustic smoke with cedar, clove, anise, and dry dirt.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: 2012 by Oscar Connecticut Toro

29 Mar 2019

A couple times each week we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

There’s no mistaking the Connecticut nature of this smoke, from the light brown wrapper to the first draw. The grassy flavor dominates from the start, receding only a bit in the second half to allow a little spice and leather to come through. The box-pressed cigar from Oscar Valladares, who became known with Leaf by Oscar, features a Honduran binder and filler from Honduras and Nicaragua. The burn and draw are fine. But even Connecticut fans may find the overall experience to be too much a single-note performance.

Verdict = Hold.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Commentary: Mysteries of the World of Cigars

27 Mar 2019

Like the late Andy Rooney, we all occasionally wonder about things that have no real significance but just seem puzzling. Lately, I’ve been mulling a few of those topics related to cigars.

Do cigar makers really believe we want more baseball caps?

I understand that every company likes to get its name out there, especially with virtually free advertising. And I realize that a few years ago baseball caps seemed to be de rigueur as a fashion accessory. Mercifully, that trend seems to have gone the way of mullets. But cigar companies continue to offer branded caps as an “inducement” to buy their cigars. When we moved last year, I must have pulled a dozen or so unworn caps from the back of the closet and dropped them off at a local thrift shop (where they probably went into the trash).

Why do cigars end up connected to scandal after scandal?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in hot water amid allegations of corruption. And what is among the most mentioned illegal gifts he supposedly received? Boxes and boxes of Cohiba Siglo V. One story even estimated how many hours Netanyahu would have spent smoking the storied Cubans through the years. No doubt the most famous cigar appearance in scandal history was with Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. More recently, cigars have come up in the ongoing Mueller investigation. Where did then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, his deputy at the time, and Konstantin Kilimnik meet in the summer of 2016? Where else but New York’s Grand Havana Room.

Why aren’t names like robusto and Churchill good enough?

I never cease to be amazed at the “creative” names cigar makers come up for the different sizes of their cigars. Sometimes weird, sometimes funny, sometimes just odd. But whatever the monikers are, does anyone ever actually speak those names? I can only surmise that they are adapted because the urge to be “creative” is overwhelming. Believe me, though, robusto, Churchill, torpedo, etc., have worked fine for years and years—and they still do.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Arturo Fuente Hemingway Signature

25 Mar 2019

I was recently perusing the extensive StogieGuys.com archives when I came across this tidy piece from 2010 by one of my colleagues. In typical George E fashion, it is as insightful as it is concise.

“For a cigar fan, walking into a humidor displaying new and untried sticks is an enticing moment,” he wrote. “Whether it’s that cigar you’ve been wanting to try since you first heard or read about it, or something that just hit the shelves, smoking a cigar for the first time can be a lot of fun. But if, like me, you don’t smoke several cigars a day, the quest for untried cigars means you can easily neglect those you’ve enjoyed in the past.”

Indeed. It’s easy to get caught up in the bustle and excitement of new cigars, especially in the month or so following the IPCPR Trade Show. So why not take some time this spring to re-acquaint yourself with an old favorite or two?

With this in mind, there were many, many cigars I could have chosen to write about today. But—with a nudge from Holt’s Cigar Co., who generously provided the five-pack for this review—I landed on the Arturo Fuente Hemingway Signature, a perfecto measuring 6 inches long with a ring gauge of 47 and a per-cigar price of $8.30 (or $185.95 for a box of 25).

Handmade at Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia. in the Dominican Republic with a Cameroon wrapper around Dominican binder and filler tobaccos, the Hemingway Signature is a dry, pale brown cigar with a narrowed foot and the classic Fuente band of gold, red, and black. Most of the visible veins are what I’d call thin or nondescript, rendering the cigar relatively smooth—though not without a few bumps and wrinkles here and there. The pre-light aroma is faint with notes of hay and pepper. And despite finding a very tight cross-section of tobaccos at the head after clipping it, the cold draw is easy.

Now some cigar enthusiasts will actually clip the narrowed foot before lighting, presumably to ensure an even light at the cigar’s widest point right from the get-go. I don’t understand this. The Hemingway Signature lights easily and evenly with one wooden match.

As for flavor, the mild- to medium-bodied profile starts dry, woodsy, and very sweet. Individual notes include cherry, white pepper, molasses, and cream. On the finish, the sensation is spicier. The flavors remind me of cedar and cayenne heat—both of which nicely complement the sweetness of the core profile. This taste is remarkably consistent from light to nub.

Construction-wise, the physical properties are aligned with what I’ve come to expect from Arturo Fuente. The burn is even throughout with no need for any touch-ups along the way, the draw is smooth, the ash holds well off the foot, and the smoke production is about average.

The Arturo Fuente Hemingway Signature has stood the test of time, and for good reason. At an affordable price, you get classic medium-bodied flavors, well-aged tobacco, superb combustion qualities, and a nice interplay between the sweetness of the flavor and the gentle spiciness of the finish. For that, I award it four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys