Cigar Review: Bodega Premium Blends Reunión Digestivo Toro

16 Jul 2014

About one year ago, Gary Griffith of Emilio Cigars and House of Emilio—his umbrella of the “best of the boutiques”—announced a new partnership with Bodega Premium Blends (BPB). “BPB offers cigars that embody the company’s passion and commitment to the ‘cigar experience,’” reads the BPB website. “Our philosophy is to capture how and when people enjoy cigars and reflect this essence in our blends.”

DigestivoBPB has four founders headed by Gino Domanico, who serves as president and social media guru (@Cigar_G). The founders do not hide from the fact they weren’t born of cigar lineage. “Their blending pedigree stems from passion and vision, not birth right,” says their website. “Maybe it’s their busy family lives, or the harshness of their northern climate, but the guys at BPB understand the value of time and the relevance of the cigar experience.”

BPB’s cigars include Reunión Aperitivo—a Habano Claro-wrapped, three-vitola line that’s intended to be smoked before a meal—and Reunión Digestivo. The latter, as you’ve likely guessed, is intended to be a bolder, post-meal smoke. Also offered in three sizes, it has a Mexican wrapper around a proprietary binder and fillers of Nicaraguan origin.

The Reunión Digestivo Toro (6 x 52) costs about $10 per single. It’s a heavy, oily cigar with rich pre-light notes of raisin and a firm packing of tobaccos. The exterior is dark and silky, and the cap is applied neatly. The cold draw is moderately firm with some spice on the lips.

Once underway, a spicy, leathery profile of black pepper, espresso, and dry wood emerges. The texture is thick and meaty, and the spice-centric aftertaste lingers on the tip of the tongue. As the Toro progresses, background notes of raisin, dried apricot, and sweet earth come and go. The body is medium to medium-full with a moderate nicotine kick. Down the stretch, a sour meatiness becomes more apparent. A background sweetness—which BPB attributes to a longer fermentation process—keeps things interesting.

The Toro’s physical properties do not detract from the flavor it offers. The gray ash holds well off the foot, and the burn is straight and true. At times, though, the draw can be a little stiff, and the smoke production can be a little stingy.

In all, the BPB Reunión Digestivo Toro is a nice smoke that, frankly, I’d be more excited about in the $6-8 range. I think $10 is asking a lot when you consider the many outstanding smokes that can be had at that cost. That said, this is a respectable after-dinner companion that isn’t so spicy or strong it would drown out a full-bodied red like a Cabernet or Bordeaux. For that, I award it three and a half stogies out of five.

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

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

Cigar Review: La Antiguedad Robusto

15 Jul 2014

MF-la-antiguedad

In many ways, Don Pepín García’s latest cigar reflects the inverse of many of the trends driving today’s smokes: no hipster lingo or ironic twist to the name, no urban graphics for the band, a box that’s just, well, a box.

The artwork is Old World. Even the cigar’s name—Spanish for antiquity or old age—harkens to another era.

But La Antiguedad doesn’t dwell totally in the past. This lightly box-pressed new line from My Father Cigars includes a trendy 60-ring gauge Toro Gordo among its five vitolas. And the Robustos smoked for this review—5.25 inches long with a 52 ring gauge—are larger than the more common robusto dimensions.

The Ecuadorian Habano Rosado Oscuro wrapper is lovely, an oily rich brown leaf over a double binder of Nicaraguan Criollo and Corojo leaves. The filler is from the García’s Nicaraguan farms in different regions of the country. According to the My Father Cigars website, the filler tobacco undergoes “a very strict and rigorous curing process of no less than three and a half years,” and it shows in the smooth, balanced blend.

What you’ll experience with the first puff should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Don Pepín’s creations: a blast of pepper. But there’s a darker, richer undertone that stands out as the pepper quickly backs off. The overall strength moves down a notch or two through the first half as well.

A full tobacco sweetness, along with dark fruit and cocoa, braid through the cigar almost from the start, changing depth along the way.

Construction is what you’d expect from My Father Cigars: first-rate. Draw, burn, and smoke production were excellent in each of the examples I tried. The single stick price is a little under $8 and they’re 20 to a box.

This is a fine cigar, one that an experienced smoker is likely to appreciate and enjoy. I rate it four stogies out of five.

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

-George E

photo credit: Corona Cigar

Cigar Review: Tatuaje Tattoo Caballero

14 Jul 2014

Recently I’ve been on a bit of a Tatuaje kick. Reviewing the Tatuaje Black Corona Gorda made me want to try the different Pete Johnson blends I had been aging, and seek out some of the cigars I hadn’t tried yet. I make it no secret that I’m a big fan of Johnson’s cigars, my only problem is the pricing. Most cigars are in the $9 to $12 range, and while that’s not ridiculous, it is out of my comfort zone for a “daily smoke.” Enter the Tattoo.

Tatuaje Tattoo CaballeroThis cigar has been released before in a lancero, but this year Tatuaje released the blend in a robusto (5 x 50) called the Caballero. I’ve heard there are more vitolas coming, reportedly three, but until the IPCPR Trade Show later this month, this Robusto is the only size. Not many details have come out about the smoke. It is rolled by a Don Pepín García-related factory, and features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper with some Nicaraguan filler.

The pre-light experience had me wary, to be honest. While I like the banding of the cigar, the wrapper did not have much oil, and there were large veins on all three samples I smoked for this review. None of them had any burn issues regardless, but they definitely do not compare to the flawless construction I’ve come to expect from Tatuaje. The foot of the cigar contains a light earthy aroma, with a bit of citrus in the back, and the pre-light draw was very similar.

Luckily, my actual smoking experience was better than I thought it would be. All of the samples had a perfect burn line. The draw was a little loose for my preference, but not problematic. The flavor from the Tattoo is simple and enjoyable. What starts out as a profile dominated by cedar and citrus gradually develops into a more earthy core as the stick burns down. By the second third, there were notes of coffee and cocoa present as well. I have often heard these described as tasting like a mocha, which makes a lot of sense to me.

I would also like to note that while I was expecting a peppery retrohale, there was actually very little black pepper present. While certainly some pepper could be noticed at times, this cigar did not start nor develop into a pepper bomb, like many Tatuajes or other smokes made by García.

Overall, I did enjoy the Tattoo Caballero, but it is not something that blew me away. The price point is really what makes this smoke appealing, as it’s cheap enough to work into most tobacco budgets. Before I give this cigar a final score, I’d like to also provide a small tip: Smoke these slowly. Any time I wasn’t paying attention and starting puffing too fast, they became a little harsh. With that said, the Tattoo Caballero is a cigar many will enjoy, and it would make a good lunch break smoke with a nice strong coffee. On that basis, I’m awarding it three and a half stogies out of five.

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

-Joey J

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Crowned Heads Las Calaveras LC550

13 Jul 2014

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.”

LasCalaveras_Box1

This limited edition line represents a departure for Crowned Heads: only 3,000 boxes, and production by My Father Cigars rather than Ernesto Perez-Carrillo. But it certainly fits right in with other Crowned Heads offerings with top quality and great taste. An oily Ecuador Habano Oscuro wrapper blends with Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos for a rich, complex cigar. The robusto (5 x 50, $8.95) burns slowly, produces lots of smoke, and has a great finish. Planned as an annual release, Las Calaveras is one not to be missed.

Verdict = Buy.

-George E

photo credit: Crowned Heads

Quick Smoke: La Aurora Corojo Robusto

12 Jul 2014

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 Corojo

If you are searching for a tasty, mild-to-medium strength cigar that performs like a thoroughbred yet sells for glue-factory prices, look no further. With a little searching, you can find La Aurora Corojos for under $2.50 a stick by the box. The appearance isn’t great, but it has a mouth-watering pre-light aroma and excellent construction. There’s a little spice, some citrus, and a bit of toast, which is fairly consistent throughout. You won’t be blown away, but at these prices La Aurora Corojo will perfectly fit many smoking situations.

Verdict = Buy.

-George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 390

11 Jul 2014

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post a mixed bag of quick cigar news and other items of interest. Below is our latest Friday Sampler.

Captiva1) The 2014 IPCPR Trade Show is just eight days away, and many new releases have been announced in anticipation of the biggest cigar event of the year. Among them is the Charlie Toraño Captiva, the first cigar to bear Charlie Toraño’s name. “Working alongside his father and industry legend Carlos Toraño for 15 years, Charlie has had his hand in creating unique cigar brands under the family name as well as for countless other major distributors,” reads a Toraño press release. “Charlie, who has held the title of President of Toraño Family Cigar Company for over a decade, felt it was time to create a cigar under his own name which represents his personal tastes and pastimes.” Named for a small island off the coast of Florida where Charlie takes his family each summer, Capitva sports an Ecuadorian wrapper around Nicaraguan fillers and will be sold in four sizes for $7.95 to $8.95. Charlie says the cigar “represents the slow rhythms of the island.”

2) Also expected at the IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas is the debut of La Palina Black Label. The line will be available in four sizes—Gordo, Toro, Robusto, and Petit Lancero—and includes a Brazilian Bahaino wrapper around tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The Classic Blend is the only other La Palina line to feature a Brazilian wrapper.

3) Inside the Industry: Kuuts Nicaraguan Blend—which has an Ecuadrian Habano wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler—is ready for release, with shipments to stores starting in August. In a pairing of two up-and-coming outfits, Toronto-based Mombacho Cigars S.A. has entered into an exclusive U.S. distribution agreement with Texas-based RoMa Craft Tobac, maker of Cromagnon, Aquitaine, and Intemperance.

4) Deal of the Week: This Super Ten Sampler takes over 50% off two big-name classic cigars. Just $37 bucks lands you five each of the Montecristo Classic Toro and the Romeo y Julieta Habana Reserve Toro.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Toraño

Cigar Spirits: Masterson’s Rye Whiskey

10 Jul 2014

Up until a few years ago, straight rye whiskey distilled from a mash bill consisting of 100% rye was exceedingly rare. That much rye is difficult to distill, which is why many ryes use only slightly more than 50% rye. And up until recently, 95% rye was quite unusual. (You can look through previous rye write-ups here.)mastersons-rye-sq

mastersons-ryeBut as the American appetite for rye grew, older rye was suddenly difficult to find, especially if the whiskey company didn’t have their own distillery. So people began turning to unusual sources. One such source was Canada, where this 100% rye was distilled to be blended into Canadian whiskey.

That 100% Canadian rye found its way into three ten-year-old ryes: Jefferson’s, Whistlepig, and Masterson’s. Each has its own character, but the family resemblance is apparent side-by-side.

Masterson’s is the most expensive at $65 to $80. It comes in an elegant bottle adorned with a photo of old west lawman Bat Masterson, whose relationship to the whiskey is tenuous at best.

The 90-proof Masterson’s is light copper-colored and features a nose with clean floral notes and a subtle honey sweetness.

On the palate, there’s more floral notes, rubber band, licorice, and burnt caramel. The finish is long and floral with a hint of apple and lots of spice on the back-end.

In a way, Masterson’s is a test of your devotion to rye. If you really like the quintessential rye flavors (floral notes, a bit of spice, a lack of sweetness) Masterson’s will probably be right up your alley. If you just want sweet bourbon notes with a little extra spice, the 100% rye mash bill of Masterson’s probably won’t be for you.

Personally, I’m a fan. And although, for the price, I’d rather have the $40 Jefferson’s (which, unfortunately, has been discontinued), on taste alone it may be my favorite of the Canadian 100% rye trio.

As for a cigar pairing, I think a Cameroon-wrapped smoke is perfect for the floral spice of Masterson’s. Specifically, try it with the Drew Estate Nirvana, Fuente Hemingway, or La Flor Dominicana Cameroon Cabinet.

-Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys