Quick Smoke: La Gloria Cubana Serie R No. 3 Natural

21 Feb 2015

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 Gloria Cubana Serie R No. 3 Natural

Made at El Credito in the Dominican Republic with an Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper around Dominican olor and Nicaraguan ligero tobaccos, the No. 3 (4.5 x 56) is the smallest size in the Serie R portfolio, and one of the best. Leather, spice, and oaky wood dominate the profile. Construction is excellent. This La Gloria Cubana is a solid value at $5-6 and a nice reminder why the Serie R blend has struck a favorable chord with cigar enthusiasts since 1999.

Verdict = Buy.

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 418

20 Feb 2015

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.

Portland1) Officials in Portland this week voted to criminalize smoking in many of the Oregon city’s outdoor areas. “Starting in July, smoking or consuming tobacco products in more than 200 Portland parks and nature areas could lead to a misdemeanor citation,” reports The Oregonian. “City officials say that’s unlikely, and that the primary goal of the policy is education and public health-related… City officials plan a five-month grace period, in which offenders will be educated about the new policy. It’s not yet clear how much the city will spend on signs and other enforcement measures.”

2) Cigar Insider reports a new tobacco seed variety has been produced by Cuba’s experimental tobacco institute that’s a cross between Habano 2000, Corojo ’99, and Criollo ’98. Called Corojo 2012, it is elastic, oily, reddish in color, and highly resistant to the plant disease called “black shank.” Hirochi Robaina, grandson of the late Cuban tobacco grower Alejandro Robaina, just harvested acres of Corojo 2012, and he said the yield was excellent.

3) Inside the Industry: Altadis USA will soon be releasing a batch of extra-aged Trinidad cigars dubbed the “Trinidad Lost Blends” (supposedly lost in depths of their aging room) that will sell for $10-12 per cigar. Dante is launching its first limited edition cigar next month: “Purple Mofo” is a corona gorda featuring a sun-grown Criollo wrapper, Corojo ’99 binder, and Estelí filler that will only be available in a handful of shops nationwide.

4) Deal of the Week:  This $25 sampler (free shipping included) features five fine, full-bodied smokes. Included is the Avo Heritage Short Torpedo, Rocky Patel Edge Sumatra Torpedo, Old Homestead Torpedo, Kristoff Corojo Limitada Robusto, and Camacho Corojo Gigante.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Cigar Spirits: Beam Signature Craft Soft Red Wheat Harvest Collection 11 Year Bourbon

19 Feb 2015

The Red Wheat Harvest Collection (or maybe it’s Signature Craft Harvest Collection Red Wheat… it’s not entirely clear) is part of the rapidly expanding Jim Beam Signature Craft line. The name is a mouthful, but it’s actually quite descriptive of the many ways this limited offering differs from your standard-issue Jim Beam.

beam-red-wheat-harvestWhat’s most notable about Red Wheat is the mashbill which, unlike every other Beam bourbon to date, uses wheat instead of rye, along with corn and malt barley. And the 11-year age statement makes it considerably older than every other current Beam offering except its recent 12 Year Signature Craft.

The bronze-colored spirit features a nose full of vanilla, damp oak, and a hint of dried fruit. On the palate there’s a lush creaminess, cookie batter, vanilla, and a hint of red apple. The finish is long with some clove and wood spice.

It’s a got hints of that distinctive Beam yeasty funk, but there’s a lot more going on than just that. There is a soft, delicate edge that adds to the complexity and enjoyability.

It also makes the Red Wheat a versatile bourbon for cigar pairing. All but the strongest cigars would make for an excellent pairing, from a mild Connecticut-wrapped cigar to a medium-full Nicaraguan blend.

It deserves to be tasted neat, as too much water or ice could tame the 90-proof spirit. Really there’s not much to complain about, except maybe the price.

Certainly, $45 for a 375 ml. bottle is very steep. But then when you consider that the only other wheated bourbons with similar age statements (Van Winkle Lot B and Weller 12 Year) are becoming exceedingly difficult to find at retail, the cost isn’t so ridiculous. My recommendation: See if you can try some at a bar before going in on an entire bottle.

-Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Emilio Cigars Mia Dora Toro

18 Feb 2015

These days, Emilio Cigars is a brand that seems to be flourishing—thanks in no small part, I believe, to the warm welcome the outfit has received from the online cigar community.

Mia Dora ToroIn addition to the growing blends in the Emilio portfolio (many of which we’ve reviewed), brand owner Gary Griffith also controls distribution for several other companies under his House of Emilio umbrella. Included are 1502, Bodega, Epicurean, Ezra Zion, Guayacan, and Nomad Cigar Co. It’s hard to imagine Emilio Cigars is just a few years old.

The Emilio family was further expanded last fall with the addition of Mia Dora, a new line that started shipping to retailers at the end of October. Mia Dora is produced by A.J. Fernandez in Nicaragua and features a Habano Rosado wrapper and Nicaraguan filler and binder. It comes in three sizes: a Robusto (5 x 50) and a Toro (6 x 50), which come in 21-count boxes; and the Coronita (5.25 x 44), which comes in a 40-count box.

Mia Dora sports bands with a theme dedicated to the Italian town of Ascoli Piceno, birthplace of the ancestors of the love of Griffith’s life, Dora. They envelop a splotchy, light brown wrapper with minimal veins and moderate oils. The Toro feels firm in the hand, and the foot emits soft pre-light aromas of straw, tea, and syrup.

Setting an even light doesn’t take more than a single wooden match. Once underway, flavors reminiscent of clove, toast, and cinnamon take center stage. The texture is bready and the strength is medium. The aftertaste is ever-so-slightly bitter, and the resting smoke is pleasant and sweet.

About a quarter-inch in, the balance really starts to shine as a creamy sweetness comes to the fore. While a slight cedary spice is present throughout, the finale is characterized by more oak and less cedar.

All of my samples smoked impeccably well with no need for any touch-ups, re-lights, or other maintenance. The draw has just the right resistance, the gray ash holds well off the foot, and the burn line stays true all the way to the nub.

The Mia Dora Toro is a very impressive specimen, and one of the better options from Gary Griffith to date. The $10 price tag is a solid value for a cigar that affords good balance and complexity in a medium-bodied format. It’s worthy of four stogies out of five.

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

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Tip: Warm Up with These Hot Winter Beverages

17 Feb 2015

temp-cold

If you are, like me, in the ever-increasing part of the country where the temperatures have taken a dive, then maybe you’re looking for a fun way to warm up. And what better way than a warm drink that also packs a little boozy kick? Here are my five favorites:

Hot Toddy — A classic that can be made with scotch whisky (save the single malt, use a blend), bourbon, or even brandy. It’s simple to make. Just add sugar, lemon, and cloves to boiling water and your spirit. (Feel free to swap in honey or cinnamon, or even look for a recipe that uses ginger ale.)

Stonewall Jackson — A simple classic consisting of hot cider and bourbon (but rye, Tennessee whiskey, or even spiced rum fill in nicely). Want to kick this up notch? Add some mulling spices to turn it into mulled cider. Just don’t boil the booze out.

Hot Buttered Rum — Perhaps my favorite of the bunch, hot buttered rum is a little more complicated to make than the above drinks, but you’ll find that it’s really not too difficult. If you want, you can make a batch of the batter ahead of time (it will last in the freezer) or just make it as you go directly into a mug.

Mexican Hot Chocolate — While there are lots of recipes out there, “normal” Mexican hot chocolate is spicy and intense with unsweetened chocolate, cinnamon, and chiles. Adding some tequila kicks it up a notch. While I use something similar to this recipe, I might also add a splash of Cointreau.

Spiked Coffee — There are plenty of variations of the basic coffee (milk and sugar optional) with booze. Coffee or chocolate liqueurs are particularly popular options, although there’s nothing wrong with simply adding whiskey, rum, or brandy. Want a recommendation I picked up traveling in Mexico? Add goat milk caramel (you can buy it from Amazon) to coffee and Kahlua.

-Patrick S

photo credit: AccuWeather

Commentary: Ring-a-Ding-Ding

16 Feb 2015

Cigar

First, I have to say I have nothing against cigars with big ring gauges. I’ve smoked quite a few I’ve enjoyed. I’m sure I’ll smoke more.

But as the ring gauge explosion continues, it seems a good time to reflect on what makes smaller sizes special, too.

For example, consider the blend. In a smaller cigar, the wrapper—the most expensive and often most desirable leaf—exerts a greater influence on the overall taste because there is proportionally less filler. This doesn’t make it better. But it does often mean the filler in a large cigar tends to dominate. That’s good if you like the filler. Sometimes, though, to my mind it’s not so good if you’re looking for the greater subtlety and complexity that can come from the mixing of tobacco types.

Then there is the matter of lighting. Big ring gauge cigars can be difficult to light evenly and to keep burning evenly along the way. An uneven burn disrupts the blender’s concoction because the components aren’t working harmoniously the way they were intended.

Another factor that plays a role is the act of smoking itself. As the tobacco burns at the foot and you draw smoke down the body of the cigar, the unignited tobacco traps some of the tar and other byproducts of combustion. They can build up and be unpleasant.

When it comes to bigger ring gauges, it helps to remember some of that high school geometry you probably haven’t used in years. Ring gauge measures a circle, and the area of a circle increases with the square of the radius. That means when you double the ring size you’re increasing the area by four. (It’s the same reason that buying a bigger pizza is almost always a bargain based on what you pay and what you get.)

In the case of cigars, the result is much more tobacco burning and more tobacco trapping, which could lead to bitterness in the final third or so.

Again, I’m not attacking big ring gauges. You should smoke what you enjoy. I’d just urge you to remember the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “A great man is always willing to be little.”

-George E

photo credit: Flickr

Quick Smoke: Drew Estate Herrera Estelí Robusto

15 Feb 2015

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.”

herrera-esteli

Drew Estate’s Liga Privada gets all the attention, but a strong case could made that Herrera Estelí is the company’s most well-made cigar. The Cuban-esque smoke features roast nuts, cedar, cream, and just a hint of spice. It’s a medium-bodied blend that trades strength for balance and finesse. While Liga is the big, bold Bordeaux, Herrera Estelí is a sophisticated, restrained Burgundy. Depending on the time and place, each can be ideal.

Verdict = Buy.

-Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys