Quick Smoke: Drew Estate Liga Privada No. 9 Belicoso

16 Jul 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.”

Drew Estate’s Liga lines have achieved iconic status among cigar enthusiasts. A complex, multi-country blend, a lengthy aging process, and excellent craftsmanship are hallmarks of the cigars. The No. 9 Belicoso (6 x 52) displays those qualities in spades. From start to finish, it’s rich, deep, and extraordinarily smooth. This is a cigar to savor and enjoy. In fact, the only likely complaint is that they can be tough to find. So when you do spot one, don’t pass it up.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

Quick Smoke: Cubanacan Soneros Habano Claro Corona Gorda

15 Jul 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.”

I acquired this Soneros Habano Claro Corona Gorda (5.625 x 46) over two years ago for about $7.25. I don’t believe time has been particularly kind to its tobaccos. According to my review in January 2015, this cigar had flavors ranging from coffee and cream to roasted nut and milk chocolate. Back then, I really enjoyed it, calling it a “well-balanced treat that provides considerable bang for the buck.” These days, however, I am just getting a heavy dose of leather with a meaty, sour taste that isn’t terribly appetizing. I stored it well, too, as evidenced by the shape of the cigar and its near-perfect combustion qualities. But good construction doesn’t mean much if the profile is off.

Verdict = Sell.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Bill Protecting Cigars from FDA Passes Committee, IPCPR Draws to a Close, and More

14 Jul 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 539th in the series.

1) On Wednesday, as the industry gathered in Las Vegas for the 85th annual IPCPR Trade Show, the U.S House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations passed a bill that includes language that would protect premium cigars from harmful FDA regulations. While this vital protection still has a long, uphill journey before it becomes law, Cigar Rights of America (CRA) hailed it as a positive step in the right direction. “The action taken today by the House Committee on Appropriations for a second consecutive year is yet again another clear and definitive statement that Congress never intended for premium cigars to be treated like other tobacco products,” said J. Glynn Loope, executive director of CRA. “Congress continues to recognize the unique differences between premium cigars, and this language is a symbol that any effort by the FDA to regulate them would run contrary to the intent of Congress.” CRA specifically thanked Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) and Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt (R-AL) for their leadership on this issue.

2) The IPCPR Trade Show concludes today, heralding an end to the industry’s biggest event of the year. As in years’ past, StogieGuys.com will make considerable efforts to acquire and review the new cigars that debuted on the convention floor in Las Vegas. Be sure to check back often over the coming months for our concise, conflict-free assessments of many of the new entrants to the marketplace. As you do, however, recall there’s no need to get slammed on the new release treadmill. And remember that many retailers will be announcing (or have already announced) clearance sales on older smokes as they try to make room on their shelves for newer products; this can be a great time to stock up on reliable favorites.

3) British writer Brendan O’Neil is definitely not a fan of his country’s smoking ban: “It is ten years since smoking in public places was banned in England. Ten years since officials decreed that we could no longer light up at work, in restaurants, in pubs, and even at bus stops. Ten years since you could follow your Tiramisu with the satisfying throat hit of a drag of nicotine. Ten years since pubs were fuggy and convivial, packed with hoarse ladies telling stories and old blokes propping up the bar rather than shiny-haired new dads wearing a baby in a sling and wondering whether to treat themselves to buffalo wings or mac’n’cheese balls. Seriously. Babies in pubs. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.” Read the whole thing here.

4) Whiskey writer Fred Minnick says bourbon could be the victim of a U.S.-E.U. trade war over steel: “If President Trump follows through on his threat to impose tariffs on steel imports, expect to see an immediate response from the European Union—including retaliatory tariffs on, of all things, bourbon. This may seem an oddly disproportionate choice. Everyone needs steel; bourbon, on the other hand, is just a hipster fad and a good-ole-boy mainstay, right? In fact, a punitive tariff on bourbon and other American whiskeys would be both a symbolic and a substantive body blow—a strike at a unique American product that is enormously popular overseas.”

5) From the Archives: Forget the latest; stick with the greatest. For over a decade, we’ve given a small percentage of the nearly 1,000 cigars we’ve reviewed our highest rating of five stogies out of five. Check them out here.

6) Deal of the Week: We recommend Bespoke Post, a monthly collection of awesome items (think fine bar accessories, shaving kits, wine, workout gear, coffee kits, and more) delivered to your door for just $45. Currently available is “Toast,” featuring four cigars by H. Upmann and Romeo y Julieta, along with a cigar carrying pouch and a small desktop humidor. You can skip or purchase every month. Sign up to get the July shipment.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Commentary: Five New Cigars I’m Looking Forward to Trying

12 Jul 2017

The IPCPR Trade Show’s first full day was yesterday. By now, information about many of the new cigars expected to hit retailers’ shelves in 2017 has already been released and widely reported. From what I’ve learned so far, here are five new cigars I’m most looking forward to trying. (Of note: This list does not include any cigars of which I’ve already smoked pre-release samples.)

Winston Churchill the Late Hour Davidoff of Geneva

In my experience, Davidoff doesn’t make a lot duds. When they put the Davidoff name on a cigar, it carries a lot of weight with me. (Not to mention the Churchill name, which might be the historial figure most associated with premium cigars.) I very much enjoyed the original Winston Churchill cigar, in addition to the revamped Davidoff-branded blend, so consider me interested in this new cigar with filler aged in single malt scotch casks.

Undercrown Sun Grown Drew Estate

I’m not a huge fan of Mexican San Andrés-wrapped cigars, which makes my enjoyment of the original Undercrown something of a rarity. The later Undercrown Shade is a very well-made cigar too, but the new Sun Grown blend sounds particularly inviting. The combination of an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper and a Habano stalk-cut binder with Nicaraguan filler has excellent potential.

Todos Las Dias  Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust

I haven’t yet had a Steve Saka cigar I didn’t enjoy. True, I may not have loved Sobremesa as much as its many sky-high reviews, but it’s still undoubtedly a very fine cigar. And, for my taste, Mi Querida was the best Broadleaf cigar introduced last year, and I think Umbagog is one of the best values on the market. With that pedigree, I’m looking forward to trying Todos Las Dias, Saka’s new Nicaraguan puro made at Joya de Nicaragua.

Navetta Fratello Cigars

By delivering on an excellent combination of value, branding (one of the best bands around), and flavor, I’ve really come to appreciate Omar de Frias’ Fratello Cigars. Navetta features an Oscuro Habano wrapper and plays into Frias’ NASA roots.

1932 Millisime Padilla Cigars

Even though I smoked my last one over five years ago, the original 1932 Padilla (made by Don José “Pepin” Garcia at El Rey de los Habanos) rates among my all-time favorite cigars. That means my ears always perk up when a new Padilla 1932 is introduced. The price of the Millisime ($47) is more that a little off-putting, but I’ll admit I’m intrigued to try it, even if I’m only smoking one before buying a second.

What new cigars are you most interested in trying?

Patrick S

photo credit: Padilla Cigars

Cigar Review: Ventura Archetype Initiation Corona

10 Jul 2017

Aimed at producing “memorable, complex cigar blends that move the senses and reward discriminating palates,” the California-based Ventura Cigar Co. first got on my radar in 2013 with the release of two less-than-traditional cigar lines: the uniquely presented Psyko Seven and Project 805, which sports an exclusive tobacco called Andullo.

Since, Ventura has added a series called Archetype, a collection of five different blends that are “inspired by the work of psychologist Dr. Carl Jung and mythographer Joseph Campbell who defined ‘archetypes’ as the constantly repeating characters who occur in the dreams of all people and the myths of all cultures.” Three of the cigars—Dreamstate, Sage Advice, and Strange Passage—are made at Davidoff’s Occidental Cigar Factory in the Dominican Republic; the other two—Initiation and Axis Mundi—are crafted at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate in Estelí, Nicaragua.

Initiation is billed as “an adventure in the art of nuanced flavor with a blend of Habano tobaccos that opens up with heavenly aromas, floral notes, white sage, and orange zest that intensifies throughout the smoke.” It sports an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper around binder and filler Habano tobaccos from Nicaragua. Four sizes are available: Churchill, Corona, Robusto, and Toro.

The Corona (5 x 46) retails for about $10. It comes complete with a well-executed cap and sour, musty pre-light notes at the foot. Beneath the metallic double bands of silver, black, and red is a pale, dry wrapper leaf that’s devoid of any large veins. The cigar feels very firm and both the foot and clipped cap exhibit a cross-section of tightly packed tobaccos; not surprisingly, the cold draw is not as smooth as I would have liked.

After setting an even light, the draw loosens a bit, though it’s still a little stiff. Despite this, the smoke production does not suffer in the slightest. Like many Drew Estate-made cigars, the Initiation Corona smokes like a chimney.

At the outset, that smoke is characterized by flavors of dry oak, almond, white pepper, and citrus. Some background floral notes linger, as do hints of tea and salted sunflower seeds. Throughout, the profile wavers from delightful and complex at one end of the spectrum, to bland and papery at the other (most times it’s somewhere between the two extremes). I found this to be true across all three samples I smoked for this review—which, in full disclosure, were provided free of charge to StogieGuys.com.

Aside from the tight yet shockingly non-problematic draw, the Archetype Initiation Corona exhibits solid combustion qualities, including a straight burn line and a solid white ash.

All in all, this is one of those cigars I would hope would improve with some age. I can’t say for sure if it will but, to me at least, it tastes a bit green. While there are undoubtedly some wonderful flavors here, there are also patches of blandness. That’s ultimately why I’m settling on a score of three stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Arturo Fuente Hemingway Short Story

9 Jul 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.”

The Fuente Hemingway is a classic blend that may have introduced more cigar smokers to Cameroon wrappers than any other cigar. I hadn’t smoked one in at least a year, but for whatever reason I decided to pick one up recently. I’m glad I did. Made with a Cameroon wrapper and Dominican tobaccos, the perfecto (4.5 x 49) demonstrated cream and coffee flavors with notes of cinnamon, black pepper, and cedar. Flawless construction and a reasonable price (around $6) make this an easy recommendation for seasoned smokers and newbies alike.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: La Galera 1936 Box Pressed Chaveta

8 Jul 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.”

This line extension from Jochy Blanco’s La Galera is made at Tabacalera Palma and celebrates his family history in the cigar industry. It sports a Habano Ecuador wrapper with a Dominican Criollo ’98 binder and Dominican Piloto Cubano and Criollo ’98 filler. It begins a bit harsh with a spicy finish. But the good news is it smoothes out after a quarter of an inch or so. Construction and performance are excellent. This isn’t a complex smoke, but if you’re looking for an everyday, low-priced cigar—I’ve seen this robusto (5 x 50) online for under $5—this is one to check out.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: La Galera