Quick Smoke: La Flor Dominicana La Nox

24 Apr 2016

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-Nox

This 2015 release from La Flor Dominicana features a Brazilian wrapper, Mexican binder, and Dominican fillers. Nox means “night” in Latin, and with a dark wrapper and deep flavors the moniker is fitting. The Toro (6.5 x 50) produces burnt hickory, licorice, and roast nut notes. Some sweetness kicks in towards the final third. La Nox begins full-bodied, though it mellows slightly to a more medium profile. Rich flavors and excellent construction make this easy to recommend.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

Quick Smoke: Quesada Sons of Freedom Maduro Torpedo (Casa de Montecristo Exclusive)

23 Apr 2016

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.”

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This dark Dominican from Quesada is exclusive to Casa de Montecristo, a three-location tobacconist in Chicago with a new retail website. With an ash that holds incredibly well and a razor-sharp burn, the Torpedo (6 x 52) boasts some of the best combustion qualities you’ll ever find. The profile is medium-bodied with ample cedar spice coupled with tea, damp earth, and a little candied pecan sweetness. Strength and complexity increase at the midway point and beyond. At $5.50 for a single, you can’t go wrong.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 476

22 Apr 2016

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.

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1) On Tuesday, Jonathan Drew announced the first three products from his new venture called John Drew Brands (JDB). “The movement that began on the production floor in Nicaragua changed premium cigars forever. From a broken down little green house with five employees to the second largest premium cigar maker in the world, we did it together,” reads the new JDB website. “Today, Jonathan Drew announces his transition to the distillery floor. You may recognize him as JD, Dizzle, SNACKi, Vale Verga—but if you know JD at all, you understand his creative mind, loving heart, and dedication to quality.” For now, JDB will be focused on rum and whiskey. The three inaugural brands will be Brixton Mash Destroyer, Dove Tale Rum, and John Drew Rye. “JD might just be the Bo Jackson of the cigar and spirits industries,” said Michael Cellucci in a press release. “His passion and commitment for the Drew Estate Cigar Company remains 100% intact with no plan to disengage. I have full confidence in his team’s ability to develop a legacy in the spirits world as well.” Swisher International, Inc.—the largest cigar company in the world by volume—acquired Drew Estate in 2014.

2) Cigar Insider reports the U.S. imported 315 million premium cigars last year, up 2.3 percent over the previous year. The Dominican Republic remains America’s largest supplier at just over 126 million cigars, followed closely by Nicaragua at 119 million. Honduras trails at about 68 million. These numbers represent shipments of cigars, not sales, and they do not include the illicit importation of Cuban cigars.

3) Inside the Industry: This week Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed into law a bill to extend the state’s 50-cent-per-cigar tax cap for five years. The state taxes tobacco products at 32% of the wholesale price, but a previous bill limited that to 50 cents per cigar to enable the state’s tobacconists to compete. The previous cap was set to expire in October, which would have resulted in many taxes on cigars doubling (or more) overnight.

4) From the Archives: Mold is a serious threat to your cigars. As temperatures heat up, the risk of mold increases too. Back in 2008, we covered the basics of mold: how to prevent it, how to differentiate it from plume, and what to do if you find it. Eight years later, it is still worth a read.

5) Deal of the Week: Smoke Inn’s newest exclusive Microblend series cigar, the Smoke Inn 20th Anniversary by Davidoff, is available for pre-sale. The Belicoso (6 x 52) features a Connecticut Ecuadorian “Rojiza” wrapper over a complex blend of Dominican binder and filler tobaccos.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: John Drew Brands

News: Three Under-the-Radar Attacks on Cigars

20 Apr 2016

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If you read StogieGuys.com regularly, you’re aware of the danger the seemingly imminent FDA regulation of cigars poses. While we’re proud to have covered this issue in more depth and longer than any other media outlet, the FDA is hardly the only threat cigars face.

Taxes and smoking bans are two other prominent attacks on cigar rights, but even adding those doesn’t encompass the full scale of the multi-front attack on cigar freedom. To that end, here are three under-the-radar attacks on the freedom to smoke cigars.

Limitations on Shipping Cigars

Last year, FedEx announced they would no longer be allowing cigars to be shipped as of the beginning of 2016.  The company cited the “complex regulatory environment” as part of the reason for its decision to cease shipments. Although consumers are unlikely to notice the change since FedEx had been used mostly by manufacturers and distributors to ship cigars to retailers, the change is part of a larger trend that is cutting off legal business from using the necessary tools of commerce.

The same “regulatory environment” that led FedEx to stop shipments is likely to spread with UPS being the next likely target. FedEx faced a massive lawsuit from the state of New York for shipping untaxed cigarettes into the state, even though the company has no way of knowing the contents of the millions of packages it transports every day. UPS is currently facing a similar lawsuit. We’ve heard UPS has attempted to refuse to open accounts with new cigar businesses. While so far these are isolated incidents, if the shipment of cigars were left solely to the hands of the United States Postal Service, it would drive up the cost of business, not to mention leave legal cigar shipments entirely in the hands of a federal bureaucracy influenced more by the whims of politics than the motivation to satisfy customer’s needs.

Restricting Cigar Business Access to Banking and Credit Services

Starting in 2013, the Department of Justice began an initiative called Operation Choke Point with the goal of cutting off financial services to “high-risk businesses” for fraud. But critics have said Choke Point has been used to target many legal businesses deemed undesirable by the current administration, which includes tobacco retailers.

Multiple cigar retailers have already been dropped by their credit card processors or banks, according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR). And a Department of Justice list, since taken down from its website, lists “tobacco sales” as one of the targeted businesses. Running a business without access to reputable banking and credit card services is impossible in today’s environment. Already, cigar retailers have had longstanding relationships severed, the effect of which is a hidden tax that drives up the cost of transactions involving completely legal cigar purchases.

Crackdown on Cigar Groups on Social Media

On Monday, multiple cigar groups on Facebook were shut down. The move was the result of sweeping action by Facebook that shuttered numerous private groups involving cigars, beer, whiskey, and other alcohol. Facebook is a private company and can allow or ban whatever it wants. But it isn’t a stretch to suspect something more is behind the move, especially considering there are any number of ugly and hateful things posted by users on the social media giant’s platform.

In many of those cigar and booze groups, sales and trades were taking place. Facebook’s terms of service note that activity involving tobacco and alcohol must be age-restricted and specific users are responsible for following all applicable laws. Even though surely many transactions were initiated in these groups that weren’t in full compliance with the law, the response wasn’t to ban specific users but to eliminate entire groups with thousands of users. Federal law generally protects internet companies from being held responsible for the postings of its users (otherwise Facebook, Twitter, or even any blog with a large number of comments could be sued out of existence). But likely either in anticipation of, or in direct response to, threats that it would be held responsible by authorities for any such activities, Facebook simply eliminated targeted groups.

Patrick S

photo credit: YouTube.com

Cigar Review: Davidoff Nicaragua Short Corona

18 Apr 2016

The spicy start from this cigar comes quicker and stronger than other vitolas I’ve smoked in this line. Of course, when a cigar is only 3.75 inches, starting fast is nearly a requirement.

Davidoff Nicaragua (1)That wasn’t the only difference that struck me as I smoked through a five-pack of Davidoff Nicaragua Short Coronas I’d bought for about $50 last summer. There was less change throughout—again, not unexpected. In the Robusto, for example, I found the spice to lower in intensity at about the halfway point, especially as coffee became more prominent. Not so here; spice continued pretty much as it began, with the coffee maintaining a moderate level.

Other flavors I noticed were chocolate, wood, and the earthy, musty note that seems to be a part of Davidoff’s DNA. The Short Corona finish was velvet smooth, another common Davidoff characteristic.

I drank coffee while smoking a couple, and it was an excellent pairing.

For such a small smoke (the ring gauge is 46), the draw was perfect, as was the burn throughout. Smoke production rivaled that of a much larger stick.

These Nicaraguan puros were introduced by Davidoff in 2013. Originally released in three vitolas, there are now six, including two box-pressed versions and a Diadima.

The wrapper is a ten-year-old Havana-seed rosado, the binder from Jalapa, and the filler a mixture of leaves from Nicaragua’s tobacco growing regions of Estelí, Condega, and Ometepe. Despite the tobacco composition, the cigars are rolled at Davidoff’s Dominican factory.

While a bit late to the Nicaragua tobacco fest, Davidoff knew what to do when it arrived. Our earlier reviews of the Robusto and the Toro each earned four stogies.

When the Nicaragua line was announced, Davidoff said it was part of the company’s goal of bringing “delightful experiences” to cigar smokers. I believe they did just that with the Short Corona, and I, too, give this smoke four stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Eiroa Classic Prensado

17 Apr 2016

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.”

Eiroa Prensado

This little Honduran puro was Cigar Journal’s pick for top cigar of 2015, and it’s easy to see why. Christian Eiroa’s eponymous smoke opens with a peppery burst that gives way to leather and sweetness. Numerous other flavors follow in a blend that’s smooth and balanced from start to finish. The lightly pressed Prensado (4 x 48) smokes like a dream, burning slowly and evenly with a near-perfect draw. The only drawback would be the price, which runs about $10. But for anyone wanting to sample the best of Honduras, this is a stick to smoke.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Kilo Toro

16 Apr 2016

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.”

Kilo Toro Smoke

Eight months ago, I reviewed Kilo in the Toro format (6 x 52) and found it to be worthy of a near-perfect rating given its cool-burning balance, excellent construction, and unique, interesting flavors. You may recall Kilo is the product of a partnership between Barry Stein, a cigar blogger and employee of the New Hampshire-based Two Guys Smoke Shop, and Noel Rojas of the Tabacalera Aromas de Jalapa factory in Nicaragua. The blend features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan Corojo 2006 binder, and three-year-old filler tobaccos from Rojas’ farms in Nicaragua and Aganorsa. Last night I fired up the Toro for the first time in a long time, and I immediately thought, “Why am I not smoking this more often?” This complex, harmonious cigar is a joy to smoke.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys