Cigar Review: Cohiba Nicaragua N50

14 Oct 2014

Two things stand out immediately about the new Cohiba Nicaragua from General Cigar. The first is, despite the name, this is not a Nicaraguan puro. The second is it’s expensive.cohiba-nic-sq

cohiba-nicThe line extension should be showing up now on retailer shelves. I smoked samples provided by the manufacturer, a 5-pack of the “N50″ robusto size (5 x 50) that is sold in tubes with an MSRP of $12.99. Online prices appear to be roughly 20 percent cheaper for the box of 8.

The name is intended to signify that this is General’s first Cohiba blended and rolled in Nicaragua, the country that continues its red-hot status in the cigar world. While the filler and binder are from Nicaragua, the wrapper is a Colorado Oscuro from Honduras. That may account for another prominent feature: The Cohiba Nicaragua doesn’t really exhibit any pepper, an often defining taste of stronger Nicaraguan cigars. It’s a darker, deeper smoke with the earthy tone common with Honduran tobacco. Other flavors like coffee bean, dry cocoa, and an occasional sweetness are also present, though not always well-balanced.

The cigars are beautiful, with wrappers that are clean and smooth. Unfortunately, I experienced construction problems in two of the three I sampled, though they were major in only one. The second one I smoked needed several relights, probably exacerbated by my conscious effort to smoke slowly.

The third Cohiba Nicaragua was plagued by tunnels severe enough to cause significant difficulties with the burn and smoke production. In all honestly, though, I’m more inclined to attribute these problems to the pre-release timing of the smokes than flaws in General’s quality control.

I would put the strength in the medium category, not near the level of powerhouses from, say, My Father Cigars or Joya de Nicaragua.

I have a feeling this cigar will improve with age, marrying more of that earthy Honduran wrapper with the Nicaraguan filler. I’ll hang on to the remaining pair and smoke one about six months from now, and the other in a year or so. I’ll let you know what I find via Quick Smokes.

If you try this cigar and agree with my aging assessment, here’s a tip: Consider letting your B&M age them for you. Keep an eye on them when they arrive. They may not sell out quickly, and may linger on the shelves long enough for you to pick up aged smokes.

I think the Cohiba Nicaragua will appeal to a limited number of smokers, partly because of the price and partly because of the flavor profile. I’d recommend picking one up if it sounds like it’s up your alley. I give the Cohiba Nicaragua N50 three and a half stogies out of five.

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

-George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

Cigar Review: Roberto P. Duran Premium Line Río Toa

13 Oct 2014

On the heels of last week’s news that Jack Toraño—formerly the director of marketing for the Toraño Family Cigar Company—has agreed to oversee sales in Florida and the Caribbean for Roberto P. Duran Premium Cigars, I figured it was high time we expanded our coverage of this Miami-based operation.

RPD Premium LineTo date, Roberto Pelayo Duran is best known for reviving Azan. Azan is an old Cuban cigar brand that was started by a Chinese immigrant who produced handmade cigars in the Manicaragua area of Cuba prior to Castro taking control. He eventually won a lottery and invested the money in his tobacco operation, only to have the Cuban government nationalize his business.

Today, Roberto P. Duran offers three variations on Azan: White, Burgundy, and Maduro Natural. The company also recently launched the Roberto P. Duran Premium Line, its most expensive brand to date. The four vitolas— Río Toa (5 x 52), La Punta (6 x 54), Tainos (6 x 56), and Cacique Guama (6 x 60)—retail in the super-premium $10-16 range.

The Premium Line sports a Habana Criollo wrapper from Duran’s farm in Ecuador around a Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos from “Nicaragua and other Latin American” countries. It is made at the Nicatabaco SA factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

The Río Toa is a handsome robusto with a well-executed cap and an oily exterior that has only the thinnest veins. Firm to the touch yet smooth on the cold draw, the pre-light aroma features strong notes of sweet hay and peanut.

Once an even light is set, a bold profile emerges of black pepper and espresso. Adding balance are background flavors of milk chocolate, cream, and nut. The texture is leathery and the aftertaste lingers like a high-proof bourbon.

Into the midway point, the spicy pepper recedes a bit and the central taste becomes warm tobacco. Here, I’m reminded of the smell of tobacco pilones—the stacks of tobacco leaves at cigar factories that employ pressure and heat to initialize fermentation. As the body transitions from full to medium, the creaminess and nuttiness become more apparent in the final third.

Save for a burn line that tends to meander a bit, construction is solid on this slow-burning robusto, including a solid gray ash, ample smoke production, and clear draw.

Overall, the Roberto P. Duran Premium Line Río Toa is impressive. And it should be for the price. Across the handful of samples I smoked for this review, all consistently showed interesting flavors, complexity, and balance with surprising intensity. I rate this vitola an admirable score of four stogies out of five.

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

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys


Quick Smoke: Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Robusto

12 Oct 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.”Jaime-Garcia-RE-sq


My Father Cigars makes many outstanding cigars, which might make the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial a slightly under-the-radar offering. The Connecticut Broadleaf-wrapped Robusto (5.25 x 52) has Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. It features rich, smooth flavors with powdery earth, dark chocolate, and oak notes, along with excellent construction. The Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial doesn’t feature much spice, but it does have lots of classic deep maduro flavors, and even though it’s not the most complex cigar, it’s still quite enjoyable.

Verdict = Buy.

-Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Quesada Oktoberfest Das Boot

11 Oct 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.”

The fourth annual Oktoberfest limited edition from Quesada sports a new band and, for my taste, displays the best flavors yet. I’m a confirmed Oktoberfest fan—rating it highly last year and in 2012. This year’s Dominican puro shows a bit more spice and an added graham cracker sweetness. Das Boot (6 x 52) is a toro you shouldn’t miss.

Verdict = Buy.

-George E

photo credit: N/A

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 402

10 Oct 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.

Ray Maybus1) A Congressional proposal to stop attempts to ban tobacco sales on military bases and ships could be decided later this year, Politico reports. California Republican Duncan Hunter, a reservist and author of the provision to keep the Defense Department—whose review of tobacco policy is expected next month—from ending tobacco sales, told Politico that “it’s not curbed for anyone else… Leave us the hell alone. We’re out here fighting for your freedom, and you’re taking away ours.” Meanwhile, a group of Democratic senators wrote the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus (pictured), supporting his proposal earlier this year to ban tobacco sales on ships and naval bases. “Jack Reed of Rhode Island, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the smoking rate for service members is 10 percent higher than that of the general population,” according to Politico.

2) Fresh off the Toraño brands being acquired by General Cigar, Roberto P. Duran Cigars has hired Jack Toraño, formerly the director of marketing for the now-defunct Toraño Family Cigar Company. Jack will oversee the company’s sales in Florida and the Caribbean. “I wanted to take the time to find the company that matches my vision,” said Jack Toraño. “I am excited to be working with Roberto Pelayo Duran, who is as passionate about cigars as I am. Roberto P. Duran Premium Cigars is truly a boutique cigar company which owns its tobacco fields and creates their own cigars. The fact that we will be involved in everything from tobacco field all the way to the valued customer is what brought me here.”

3) Inside the Industry: A number of cigars that debuted at the IPCPR Trade Show this summer are just now starting to ship to cigar shops, including the Rocky Patel Super Ligero and Decade Cameroon, the La Aurora Untamed, and La Palina Black Label.

4) Deal of the Week: If you’re looking to try Crowned Head’s latest cigar, Jericho Hill, this line sampler is a great way to do it.Only $30 gets you one each of the four sizes and, for a limited time, you can get it with free shipping.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Wikipedia

Cigar Spirits: Glenfarclas 105

9 Oct 2014

When it comes to spirit pairings, I’m an unabashed fan of bourbon and rye. No matter the season, fine American whiskey works.Glenfarclas-105-sq

Glenfarclas-105As for other spirits, I’m more seasonal in my preferences. The tropical-influenced rum is ideal for the warmer months, but when it gets a little cooler I’m inclined towards scotch whiskey.

Something about the smokey, warming qualities of a single malt hits the spot. And yet, all that time with American whiskey has left me finding most of the 80- or 90-proof scotch lacking in intensity.

Fortunately, a few scotches have a higher proof. And lately, cask-strength scotches have become some of my favorites. (Unlike American whiskey, where cask-strength can mean 130-proof or higher, cask-strength single malt tends to be in the 110-120 range.) Glenfarclas 105 is one of those cask-strength single malts, weighing in at a hearty 120-proof (60% ABV). Its Highland distillery is one of the few truly independent distilleries left in Scotland, and also one of the few that produces a cask-strength scotch that is readily available in the U.S.

Glenfarclas ($80-90) has a deep golden color. The nose is an inviting combination of toffee with pear and cherry fruit.

On the palate, Glenfarclas really shines. It’s multi-layered on the palate with more pear, lots of sherry, and a slight smokiness. It has a nice, full-bodied creaminess, and a finish that fades off nicely with oak and subtle smoke.

The 105 is very even-keeled for 120-proof. It has plenty of intensity without being over the top. The richness of sherry with a champagne-like balance.

Drink it with a medium- to full-bodied cigar. Think a Cabaiguan, Davidoff Colorado Claro, Intemperance, or Tatuaje Black.

I’m sure cask-strength single malt isn’t for everyone. But if, like me, you like higher proof bourbons and ryes, but still find the smokiness of scotch up your alley, give the Glenfarclas 105 a try.

-Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: JFR XT 654

8 Oct 2014

JFRIntroduced at this summer’s industry trade show, the JFR XT was designed as an addition capable of providing “added strength and body” to Casa Fernandez’s regular JFR line.

That the blenders succeeded is evident from the nice peppery start. The XT is, by no means, a powerhouse, but rather a medium- to full-bodied Nicaraguan puro that’s a pleasure to smoke.

The Corojo wrapper is smooth and has a warm, roasted nut pre-light aroma. The XT isn’t particularly complex, though flavor shifts a bit as the pepper dies down after the first half inch or so. Then there’s a pleasant rich tobacco taste and enough punch to keep it interesting.

I had three samples provided by Casa Fernandez and found them remarkably consistent. Construction is absolutely top-notch, with a straight burn, good draw, and tons of smoke.

The XT is a lightly box-pressed smoke with an untrimmed wrapper that’s folded over the foot, which is covered by an identifying foot band. The head sports a little pigtail. They are rolled at the Casa Fernandez factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

The MSRP is a reasonable $6.92. Two other large ring gauge sizes are available: 6 x 60 ($7.30) and 7 x 70 ($8.80). Maduros with a Mexican wrapper are sized the same and cost a few cents more. All are packed in boxes of 24.

The XT is slated to hit retailer shelves this month, according to the company. I’d recommend this as a good choice for someone who’s been smoking milder cigars and wants to try a stronger smoke. Those who have a regular rotation that includes more powerful cigars should also give it a try to see whether it might find a slot.

I rate the JFR XT 654 a solid three and a half stogies out of five.

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

-George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys