Quick Smoke: Viaje Summerfest 2010 Robusto

16 Apr 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.”

Viaje-Summerfest-2010 - 1

Today I smoked a cigar you could consider a bit of a unicorn. Only 50 boxes of 30 cigars were ever made of the Robusto edition of the debut 2010 Summerfest cigar, which, according to Viaje brand owner Andre Farkas, was a factory mistake. (Other Viaje Summerfest vitolas, including the 2010 Torpedo, which was the non-mistake version of the 2010 release, are known for having a shaggy unfinished foot.) The Nicaraguan puro features sourdough bread notes along with cinnamon, light spice, and buttery notes. It’s well-balanced and medium-bodied, though there is a peppery spice that builds in the final third. Well-constructed, this is an example of a well-made, well-executed smoke that was good when it debuted and has improved with age.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

Quick Smoke: Crémo Capa Caliente Toro

15 Apr 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.”

Cremo Caliente Toro

In September 2013, I reviewed this Ecuadorian Habano-wrapped, Miami-made cigar and found it to be full-bodied with bold, salty spice and flavors of espresso, black pepper, and charred steak. Back then, I thought it was decent but lacking in balance. Almost four years of humidor time has done wonders for the Crémo Capa Caliente. Now, instead of raw power and a heavy-handed profile without much depth, the Toro (6 x 52, $12) is more medium-bodied with ample sweet cream and roasted nuts to balance out the spicy, savory core. My recommendation? Take this El Titan de Bronze-made cigar for a test drive; if at first you don’t succeed, let the cigars rest and reap the rewards later.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: BLTC Ships Bishops Blend, Unconventional Cigar Pairings, and More

14 Apr 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 526th in the series.

BLTC Bishops Blend

1) This week saw two announcements from Black Label Trading Co. (BLTC). The first, issued on Monday, concerned the shipment of the 2017 vintage of Bishops Blend. “It’s great to get Bishops Blend back in the market,” said BLTC creator James Brown. “This is a very special cigar. It is a representation of how I have grown as a cigar maker… The 2017 Bishops Blend has an extremely rich and sophisticated profile.” Bishops Blend is made at BLTC’s Fabrica Oveja Negra factory in Nicaragua and sports an Ecuador Habano Maduro wrapper, an Ecuador Habano binder, and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Two sizes will be offered: Corona Larga (6.25 x 46, $10.50) and Robusto (5 x 48, $10.00). In addition to Bishops Blend, yesterday BLTC introduced the return of the Ecuador Habano Maduro-wrapped Last Rites Box Press Robusto (5 x 54, $10), which will debut on April 28 and be exclusive to R. Field Wine Co. in Honolulu.

2) NPR published a feature yesterday about how “cigar specialists” are working on unconventional cigar pairings as part of tobacco programs at luxury hotels and restaurants. It includes the tidbit that Tobacconist University is “currently developing a ‘certified cigar sommelier’ degree.” There’s also this: “Because a high pH level makes cigars fairly alkaline, [Mason] Foster [who works as a certified tobacconist at Bourbon Steak, a restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C.] relies on acidity to help balance the flavors, starting with consuming a tart candy, like Skittles, to neutralize the palate. Having only begun smoking cigars less than two years ago, the 25-year-old cigar sommelier has gone full-bore into his new passion, smoking a few cigars each day and going through some two pounds of Skittles or Starburst candies a week.”

3) In case you’ve missed it, bourbon has been experiencing a boom in recent years, with consumers (including quite a few cigar smokers) drinking it up in record amounts. High demand for your product is obviously what every company hopes for. That said, the problem for the bourbon industry is the product requires years to make, and ten or more years for many of the most sought-after brands. So what’s a bourbon producer to do? The anonymous BourbonTruth lays out the many imperfect options.

4) Inside the Industry: Crowned Heads’ Headley Grange Drumstick, their limited annual release, has begun arriving at retailers. One thousand boxes of ten in a lancero format (7.5 x 38, $9.90) are being released this year.

5) From the Archives: Hot, sweltering summer days can take a toll on your stogies if you aren’t prepared. Get your humidor in order with these tips.

6) Deal of the Week: For today only, here are 100 deals including cigars from Fuente, L’Atelier, E.P. Carrillo, Davidoff, Drew Estate, Tatuaje, 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: BLTC

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

Quick Smoke: Joya Red Robusto

9 Apr 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.”joya-red-sq

joya-red-toro

Introduced in 2014, Joya Red represented a new profile for Joya de Nicaragua, and a move away from the longer “Joya de Nicaragua” branding in favor of just “Joya.” The Nicaraguan Habano wrapper has a nice shine that looks good with the gold and red band. Flavor-wise, it’s tasty with toasty wood, cappuccino, and just a touch of pepper. Joya de Nicaragua has always been known for full-bodied Nicaraguan puros, but I’ve always felt their versatility was demonstrated by the mild Cabinetta series. Joya Red continues to show off that versatility with tasty medium-bodied flavors at a fair price.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: CAO La Traviata Maduro Luminoso

8 Apr 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.”

Luminoso

In 2012, General Cigar expanded the La Traviata Maduro line by adding the Luminoso format (4.5 x 50). This particular specimen had been resting in one of my humidors for nearly five years. It sports a thick, dark, toothy Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper around a Cameroon binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Once lit, pre-light notes of cocoa and musty earth transition to a medium-bodied, well-balanced profile of black coffee, oak, pepper, and cherry sweetness. Construction is excellent. The CAO La Traviata Maduro Luminoso is a solid choice if you seek classic maduro flavors but are short on time.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys