Quick Smoke: E.P. Carrillo New Wave Brillantes

15 Dec 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.”

Perhaps overlooked in favor of some of the E.P. Carrillo brand’s more recent and buzz-worthy offerings, New Wave Connecticut is (unsurprisingly, given its name) a modern take on the classic Connecticut-wrapped cigar. More medium-boded than mild, and with an Ecuadorian-grown, Connecticut-seed wrapper rather than one grown in the Connecticut River Valley, it is in many ways an updated take on the classic, best-selling formula. Roasted nuts, cream, graham, and mild spice round out this balanced smoke. With a price around $5, it’s a real value in addition to being a well-constructed, enjoyable cigar.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Tip: Holiday Guide for Giving the Gift of Cigars

12 Dec 2019

gift

Including today, there are only twenty shopping days left until Christmas. I say “only” because, while that may seem like a long time (to my three-year old it seems like an eternity), rest assured the holiday will be here before you know it.

If you’re like me, you loathe shopping and haven’t bought a damn thing yet. I can’t help you with that. But if you have a cigar enthusiast or two on your list, I am more than happy to offer up some guidance in the form of the following tips:

Only give a box if you’re sure. Some cigar enthusiasts are completely loyal to one brand or one specific blend. If this is the case, you can’t do wrong by buying a box he or she is sure to love. Maybe this isn’t the most original idea—and maybe the box won’t be much of a surprise—but any cigar smoker will tell you that you can never have enough of your favorite smokes, especially if they’re made in limited quantities.

Samplers offer variety. Many cigar enthusiasts don’t have just one favorite cigar. For these folks, we don’t recommend buying a whole box. Instead, samplers are terrific. When you give a sampler of ten different cigars, it’s like giving ten different gifts. The recipient might not love all ten, but chances are he/she will really enjoy at least a few, and you might even be responsible for turning someone on to a new favorite.

Consider cigar accessories. Every cigar enthusiast needs a great table lighter, travel lighter, nice cutter, good ashtray, travel cigar case, humidor, etc. Instead of buying cigars, think about giving the gift of a cigar accessory. Many accessories can be personalized and, unlike cigars themselves, are likely to last for years to come.

Don’t forget cigar rights. Most cigar smokers have a fervent passion for defending cigar rights and opposing tobacco taxes and smoking bans. For these folks, a membership to Cigar Rights of America is an excellent gift. Benefits of membership include supporting professional lobbyists who fight for cigar freedoms, discounts at cigar shops, free cigars, and more.

Many cigar lovers also enjoy bourbon. Cigars and bourbon go together like peanut butter and jelly. I would strongly encourage you to check out our bourbon gift-giving guide, our A-Z Bourbon Guide, and our extensive archive of spirits reviews (all of which also include pairing suggestions). You could do a lot worse than a nice bottle of bourbon and an accompanying cigar or three.

Don’t forget to treat yourself. Lots of cigar purchase opportunities come with a free gift (i.e., a five-pack, a table lighter, a cutter, etc.). Go ahead and take advantage of the offers. You’ve earned it.

Need help? Ask. Find a local tobacconist and don’t be afraid to ask an employee for guidance or suggestions. Any good cigar shop will have helpful, patient, knowledgeable staff. Even if you aren’t a regualr cigar smoker yourself, your visit needn’t be intimidating or unfruitful.

Have other ideas for helpful cigar gift-giving tips this holiday season? Please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Patrick A

photo credit: Flickr

Quick Smoke: Mi Querida Short Gordo Grande

8 Dec 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.”

Following Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust’s 2015 debut cigar, Sobermesa, was a flurry of new releases for the 2016 IPCPR Trade Show, including Mi Querida. Mi Querida was particularly anticipated as it reunited Dunbarton owner Steve Saka with a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper (he famously employed Broadleaf to create Drew Estate’s landmark Liga Privada line). This squat gordo (4.75 x 56) features medium- to full-bodied flavors with notes of coffee, chocolate, light spice, cedar, cinnamon, and black pepper. Excellent combustion and a sub-$10 price makes this an easy cigar to recommend.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Tip: How to Travel with Cigars on a Plane

3 Dec 2019

travel-cigar

Whether you’re taking a week-long vacation to a beach paradise or just flying off for a few days in a distant city for work, you’ll probably want to take some cigars.

Depending on where you are going, you may not have easy access to a cigar shop. Or you may not have access to reasonably priced cigars (taxes can be very high in certain states and countries). Or you may only have access to Cubans, and you may not be sure of their authenticity.

Even if you think you’ll pick up some cigars on your trip, bringing some cigars along with the tools necessary to enjoy them is probably a good idea. So here are some tips to make your air travel with cigars smoother:

Protect Your Cigars

Plane travel can be a traumatic experience for cigars, between the pressurized air and the fact that your bag is probably going to be forcibly jammed in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you. (Don’t check your cigars, as the cargo hold of the plane can have some pretty extreme temperature changes that can do serious damage.) The natural solution is a hard plastic cigar case like those made by Xikar or Cigar Caddy. Each comes in anywhere from a five to fifteen-count, or sometimes more.

If you don’t have a case, or if you can’t fit all the cigars you want to bring in the case you have, a sealed Ziplock bag will do fine. But you’ll want to put the bag in a hard tube or box to make sure they don’t get crushed. If you are traveling for more than few days, throw a small Boveda pack in with your cigars to help stabilize and maintain proper humidity.

Bring a Lighter, Avoid Confiscation

Torch lighters are great, but the TSA will take them from your carry-on or checked luggage. Trust me on this. I’ve accidentally left them in my bag and had them confiscated. But you can bring a soft flame lighter in your carry-on. You can also bring a single box of matches, so I like to stuff one box of wooden matches to the brim as a backup.

My go-to soft flame lighter is the Djeep, which is dependable and has decent capacity. It’s also cheap, so if some ornery TSA agent on a power-trip takes it you won’t be too upset. If you really want a torch lighter, you might consider a Soto Pocket Torch, which can convert a regular cheap lighter into a torch. But bring the lighter in your carry-on and leave the Soto in your checked bag to make sure it isn’t confiscated if the TSA agent figures out what it is. Also, for all lighters and matches, know that other countries might have different rules (Nicaragua, of all places, is known for taking all lighters when you depart from Managua). So no matter what you bring, make sure it is something that, if push comes to shove, you won’t feel too bad about leaving behind.

Check or Carry On a Cutter

Bringing most cutters on a plane shouldn’t be a problem (according to the TSA, blades smaller than four inches are good to carry on), but you never know how the rules are going to be enforced. So fancy cutters, if you must bring them, should go in checked luggage.

Travel is the perfect time to bring along that cheap cutter you got as a throw-in. And remember, if all else fails you can always cut your cigar with your fingernail; just don’t use your teeth.

Be Weary of Fake Cubans

Traveling overseas is great as you have access to cigars from that island south of Miami, but don’t assume you’ll easily be able to find legitimate Cuban cigars. For years, Americans have been buying and smoking Cubans overseas, even though technically this violated the Cuban Embargo. Now, with restrictions being eased, it is perfectly legal for an American to smoke a Cuban cigar while abroad. (Bringing Cubans into the U.S. is still illegal, expect for a small quantity directly from Cuba.)

Fake Cuban cigars are everywhere, especially at vacation spots visited frequently by Americans. The best way to ensure you are buying authentic Cubans is to shop at an official Casa del Habano. Beyond that, here are two easy tips to avoid the most obvious fakes: (1) If the price is too good to be true it is certainly fake, as prices are fixed and nobody’s relative or friend is getting them at a discount straight from the factory; and (2) There has never been any Cuban cigar made with a glass or plastic top box. (I still see pictures of glass top Cohiba boxes in cigar groups on Facebook, only for a dozen or more people to tell the poster the unfortunate news that they were swindled. Repeat after me: All Cuban cigars in a glass top box are fake.)

Carry on Some Booze

Unless you are heading to a country that doesn’t allow alcohol, there is nothing wrong with putting a bottle or three in your checked bag (though you may have to pay taxes on them). But what is often overlooked is that you can actually carry on booze in small amounts.

When carrying on, alcohol is subject to the same rules as other liquids, meaning no container more than 3.4 ounces and all liquids must fit in a one-quart sized bag. Mini bottles (usually 50 ml.) are well under that limit, and you can fit five or six in one Ziplock. If you are planning on cracking these open on the plane, know that most airlines have a rule against alcohol not served by the flight attendants. Practically speaking, though, if you are discrete about it you probably won’t get caught.

Patrick S

photo credits: Stogie Guys


Cigar Tip: The Ultimate Guide to Picking a Thanksgiving Cigar

27 Nov 2019

We have been giving Thanksgiving cigar picks for over a decade. After a large serving of Turkey and a gravy-filled meal, a cigar (or a few) is the ideal way to sit back and digest, whether you are visiting with  family or escaping them.

You may pick a cigar because it is small (it’s cold outside, you don’t have much time, etc.), because it’s American-made (Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday), or because it’s special (don’t let that special cigar sit in your humidor too long). We all have our own reasons. Here are the cigars we’re planning on lighting up after the big meal this year:

Patrick A: I usually turn to an old, tried-and-true favorite on Thanksgiving, but this year I’ve decided to light up a cigar I only found very recently: the Blue in Green Corona from Gran Habano. Its excellent construction and flavor of creamy cashew, dry oak, cereals, and floral notes will go well with a post-dinner cup of black coffee in a cold Chicago garage.

Patrick S: This year I’m planning on lighting up the RoMa Craft Tobac Aquitaine Pestra Muierilor. The small (4 x 46) smoke will work well in the yard after enjoying Thanksgiving with a family full of non-cigar smokers. This “sparkplug of a little smoke” will cut through the heaviness of a heavy meal, and pair perfectly with a peaty whiskey and some football.

Need more suggestions? Here’s every cigar we’ve ever recommended for Thanksgiving, dating back to 2007:

2018: Mi Querida Fino LargoPaul Garmirian 25th Anniversary Short RobustoMy Father Limited Edition 2011

2017: Futuro Selección Suprema, Hoyo de Monterey Petit Robusto, Davidoff 2017 Year of the Rooster Diadema

2016: Señorial Corona Gorda No. 5Paul Garmirian Soirée Short Robusto, Casa Fuente Corona Gorda

2015: Neanderthal SPGIllusione Epernay Le PetitEl Güegüense Robusto

2014: Joya Red Robusto, Tatuaje Saints & Sinners Verocu Robusto, Davidoff Colorado Claro Short PerfectoTatuaje Black Corona Gorda

2013: Leccia Tobacco White 650, Joya de Nicaragua Cuatro CincoEiroa Toro

2012: Emilio Cigars Series H Maduro Robusto, Tatuaje Mummy (Halloween 2012)Aging Room F55

2011: E.P. Carrillo New Wave Connecticut Divinos, Tatuaje Petite Cazadores Reserva, PG Symphony 20th, Arturo Fuente Double Chateau Sun GrownSancho Panza Double Maduro

2010: J. Fuego 777 Corojo Robusto, Padrón Serie 1926 No. 35 Maduro, Romeo y Julieta Churchill Tubo, Padrón Family Reserve No. 45 Maduro

2009: Tesa Havanitas Connecticut No. 1, Tatuaje Reserve J21, Padrón Serie 1964 Exclusivo Natural, Illusione 888

2008: CAO America Monument, PG Gourmet 15th Anniversary Blend Belicoso Extra, SEO 601 “Red” Robusto

2007: Don Kiki Brown Label Toro, Tatuaje Reserva SW, Camacho Corojo Churchill

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Quick Smoke: H. Upmann Magnum 50 (Cuban)

24 Nov 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.”

This toro-sized Cuban H. Upmann vitola started as a limited edition in 2005 before being added as a regular offering in 2008. What starts out with light hay, cedar, and white pepper later evolves with the additions of coffee and cocoa notes. Construction is solid, and the featured flavors are complex. This is one of the better Cubans I’ve smoked in the past few years.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Gran Habano Blue in Green Corona

21 Nov 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.”

Over the fourteen years I’ve been seriously smoking cigars, I can’t say how many Gran Habano creations I’ve sampled. Certainly many. But I can tell you this: The Gran Habano Blue in Green is the best I’ve ever had from the Rico family’s outfit. It is stellar. Released at the IPCPR Trade Show this summer, this line intends to put the “rich nuances of its fillers” on display. Those filler tobaccos are from Nicaragua and Costa Rica. The binder is Nicaraguan, and the wrapper is a golden Connecticut leaf. The Corona (6 x 44) retails for about $9 and boasts a wonderfully balanced, medium-bodied profile of creamy cashew, dry oak, cereals, and floral notes. Construction is impeccable. There are three other Blue in Green vitolas: Churchill, Gran Robusto, and Robusto. I suspect they are all excellent, though I haven’t yet had the pleasure of trying anything but the Corona, which is a limited edition (1,000 boxes of 20 were made). I strongly suggest picking one up at your earliest convenience.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys