Cigar Spirits: Eagle Rare 10 Year Bourbon Single Barrel Select (Saints & Sinners Barrel No. 1)

12 Oct 2016


Whiskey and cigars are a natural pairing, but the connection isn’t usually explicit. Two exceptions include the Cigar Malt Reserve by Dalmore and this barrel selection from Saints & Sinners, the private cigar club for Tatuaje fans.

Saints & Sinners launched in 2011, when I first joined. For $150 each year, members get a cigar kit with 15 smokes (frequently with rare or exclusive picks), access to a private online forum, and plenty of swag (usually cigar accessories, a shirt, and more). Registration for new members opens in early June with only a limited number of spots available.

Occasionally, members also get the opportunity to purchase other items, such as Tatuaje owner Pete Johnson’s private label Tatouage Bordeaux wine. More recently, the club offered a single barrel selection of Eagle Rare 10 Year bourbon, available in 375 ml. bottles that sold for $19.99.

The selection came about after a trip to the Buffalo Trace distillery in June. As I’ve observed before, barrel picks are often particularly excellent bourbons, assuming the person doing the picking has a decent palate. If nothing else, they are getting to try a half dozen or so barrels from which they pick the one they like the best.

Eagle Rare 10 has long been a staple on my bourbon shelf, especially with it available for around $30 for a 750 ml. bottle. For many years,including when I first discovered it, it was distilled at the Old Prentice distillery, which is now Four Roses’ distillery. The brand was purchased by the Sazerac Company in 1989 and for the better part of a decade the bourbon sold as Eagle Rare has been distilled at Buffalo Trace.

Standard Eagle Rare is a classic with heavy wood, lots of vanilla sweetness, and just a bit spice. The Saints & Sinners pick features all of that, but with a particularly aromatic nose featuring mint and caramel, and a palate that has maple, wood, and toffee. The finish is classic Eagle Rare with charred oak spice and vanilla.

You really can’t go wrong pairing any cigar with this tasty, well-priced bourbon. That said, I have to recommend a Tatuaje cigar given that this is a Saints & Sinners Club selection. Personally,I’d turn to the Tatuaje Havana VI Verocu or La Riqueza Cabinet with this bourbon, though there wouldn’t be any bad pairings from the Tatuaje offerings.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

Cigar Review: Hoyo La Amistad Robusto

10 Oct 2016


Justified or not, hardcore cigar enthusiasts will often ignore brands from huge companies like General Cigar and Altadis in favor of offerings from small, boutique operations. Perhaps in an effort to combat this treatment, the two industry giants have both recently partnered with cigar makers who—while certainly not small—manage to maintain a solid rapport among the most dedicated segment of the cigar smoking community.

la-armistadLast year, Altadis tapped Pete Johnson of Tatuaje to help craft Henry Clay Tattoo, a limited run of 2,500 boxes that quickly sold out. This year, General chose to partner with A.J. Fernandez well-known for his operations in Nicaragua, to develop a four-vitola line called La Amistad.

“I grew up very near to the Hoyo de Monterrey farm and I have always had a love for the brand,” said Fernandez in an Altadis press release. “When it came time to develop this blend, I put my heart and soul into it… This cigar represents the best of me and my factory and I am proud to be a part of this collaboration.”

Marketed as “brawny and robust” with “notes of leather and spice,” the recipe for La Amistad includes an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder from Fernandez’s farms in Estelí, and Nicaraguan filler tobacco from Estelí, Ometepe, Condega, and Jalapa. The available sizes are Rothschild (4.5 x 50, $6.49), Toro (6 x 50, $7.79), Gigante (6 x 60, $7.99), and Robusto (5 x 54, $7.59).

I sampled five Robustos for this review. Each had a dark, slightly reddish wrapper with minimal veins and tight seams beneath dual bands of white, gold, and red. As you would expect from both General and A.J. Fernandez, the cigar appears to be expertly built with a firm feel, a cross-section of tightly packed tobaccos at the foot, and a well-executed cap. The pre-light notes remind me of sweet hay and molasses. The cold draw is clear.

The Robusto begins with a hearty dose of Nicaraguan zing. I’d describe the preliminary flavor as black pepper spice, cinnamon, dry wood, and hints of caramel. Spice-forward and dry with a coarse texture, the strength settles after a half-inch. Here, the profile is earthier while still maintaining a fair amount of spice, especially on the tip of the tongue. At the midway point, the cigar is at its best: medium-bodied with citrus, subdued pepper, leather, all balanced by salted nuts and sweetness. The finale brings a reprise of the intensity from the outset.

With solid construction—sturdy ash, straight burn, clear draw, and good smoke production—coupled with a spicy Nicaraguan character and body that sways from full to medium and back to full, the Hoyo La Amistad Robusto is an enjoyable smoke and a good buy at less than $8. I award it an admirable rating of three and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Partagas Ramon y Ramon Robusto

9 Oct 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.”


My colleague reviewed this newest Partagas blend only a few days ago. Having smoked the cigar myself, I wholeheartedly agree that this is an impressive new cigar. Right from the start I found a creaminess combined with light but flavorful spices and a touch of cedar. Although I might classify the cigar as mild in body, it is anything but dull. Add in the excellent construction I’ve come to expect from smokes produced by General Cigar, and it is a new cigar I’d recommend to novices and aficionados alike.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Macanudo Estate Reserve No. III

8 Oct 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.”

Macanudo Estate Reserve

Macanudo launched Estate Reserve in 2013 to challenge the perception that the best-selling brand in the U.S. is only for rookie cigar fans who haven’t yet graduated to fuller-bodied, more complex smokes. At the time, it was a very pricey ($16-18) three-vitola line, but now you can find it for considerably less if you poke around. I recently decided to fire up a No. III (5 x 50) that had been aging in my humidor for a couple years. The blend of Dominican tobaccos surrounded by a golden Connecticut Shade wrapper yielded mild flavors of almond, cream, dry cedar, and a little sweetness. It was not indifferent from how the cigar smoked when I first got it. This is no doubt an interesting mild cigar, but it’s hard to justify a full recommendation given the price, even if you can find the robusto-sized smoke for under $10.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 500

7 Oct 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.


1) On July 14, 2006—over ten years ago— launched the Friday Sampler series, a weekly roundup of news and items of interest from the world of premium tobacco. Today we celebrate a milestone as we publish our 500th iteration of the series. Over the years, our Friday Sampler content has ranged from the latest news on smoking bans, taxes, and tobacco regulations to new releases, noteworthy deals, industry happenings, and—more recently—highlights from our extensive archives of reviews, tips, commentaries, and interviews. It’s been quite a journey, and we’ve covered a lot of ground. We’re not big on commemorating our own achievements (the anniversary of our establishment in May 2006, for example, almost always passes unnoticed), but we thought this was one milestone worth mentioning. Thank you for making it possible. We hope you’ve enjoyed this series as much as we’ve enjoyed keeping our finger on the pulse of the industry and reporting back to you with clear, concise summaries of the most important cigar news of the week.

2) Speaking of cigar news, this week was relatively quiet on the news front, likely in part due to hurricane preparations in Florida (home office for many cigar companies). Hurricane Matthew has already struck eastern Cuba—leaving tremendous damage in its wake—as well as the Dominican Republic. At the time of this writing, the storm is currently barreling towards Florida. Time reports Matthew may even hit Florida twice: “Forecasters say Matthew will likely hit the eastern edge of Florida Thursday night as a powerful category four storm and will continue up the coast through Saturday. But then, instead of shifting toward the Atlantic and slowly dying off, several models show the storm circling back to land and hitting Florida a second time next week.”

3) Inside the Industry: This year’s Tatuaje Halloween release is called “The Krueger” after the bad guy from A Nightmare on Elm Street. The box-pressed torpedo (7.25 x 48) features a Mexican Maduro wrapper. As is tradition, 13 “unlucky” retailers will be getting the majority of the 666 dress boxes, with the list announced on the private Saints & Sinners forum Monday (and publicly soon thereafter). The remaining dress boxes, plus plain ten-count boxes (which make up the majority of the release), will go to Tatuaje retailers nationwide.

4) From the Archives: Since this is the 500th, it makes sense to take a look at our first Friday Sampler, published over a decade ago. In it, we included a link to a video of JFK’s press secretary talking about his mission to buy 1,000 Cuban cigars before Kennedy signed the Cuban Embargo, an item about a cigar butt smoked by Winston Churchill that sold for almost $700, a tasting wheel to help identify cigar flavors, and more.

5) Deal of the Week: This weekly deal from Smoke Inn features 10 cigars for just $30. Included are cigars that have a combined suggested retail price of over $90. The featured sticks include the Aging Room Bin No. 1 B Minor, Nica Puro Robusto, Nestor Miranda Robusto, Asylum Dragon’s Milk, Wild Bunch Warrior Joe, Montecristo Double Corona, La Jugada Maduro Toro, and Rocky Patel Edge Corojo Toro.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Partagas Ramon y Ramon Robusto

5 Oct 2016

This latest addition to General Cigar’s Partagas line has quite the tobacco heritage.

partagasAccording to General, a key filler component is “a special variety of old-world Dominican tobacco” that had been “locked away for nearly 50 years” before company agronomists restored it solely for this cigar.

It’s blended with Nicaraguan Jalapa and Dominican Piloto Cubano leaf. Those, like the Dominican binder, were also grown by Partagas agronomists.

The wrapper—for me, the jewel in this arrangement—is high-priming Cameroon tobacco grown in that country’s Belita region. has enjoyed cigars from Partagas, both regular and limited releases, for more than a decade. Quite a few have garnered high ratings, and you can check them out through our Reviews Archive. This latest offering, a brick-and-mortar exclusive, is no exception.

As I noted, I think it’s the Cameroon wrapper that makes it special. There’s a spicy pre-light aroma that kicks in with the first puff. And it doesn’t let up. The cigar isn’t particularly hot or peppery; the flavors are a mixture of exotic and seasoning spices.

The Robustos I smoked, which weigh in at 5.5 inches with a 50 ring gauge ($7.49), did not change much throughout, aside from a bit of tobacco sweetness intertwined along the way.

With a flavor so enjoyable, that’s by no means a criticism. The subtlety draws you deeper and deeper into the smoking experience.

Construction, draw, and smoke production were excellent. I’d put the strength level at medium. The only drawback I noticed was that it tended to dry my mouth.

As is evident from the name, this cigar is another General tribute to Ramon Cifuentes Toriello. The Cuban cigar pioneer lost Partagas after the revolution and fled to the United States in 1961. He went to work for General, and later produced the first non-Cuban Partagas cigars.

The new line consists of four vitolas and is a regular-production smoke so you should have no trouble finding them at your local shop. I rate this latest Partagas four and a half stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Mi Querida Fino Largo

3 Oct 2016


This summer, cigar makers, brand owners, blenders, and factories scrambled in an effort to rush as many new brands and vitolas to market as possible before the August 8 deadline. (Regular readers will recall that cigars introduced after August 8, 2016, will have to go through the FDA approval process before they can be sold or marketed.)

fino-largoThis mad dash was best personified by Steve Saka of Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust. If you follow him on Facebook—where he is quite prolific—you’ll recall his rapid succession of posts proclaiming new cigars like Umbagog, Maestro de Saka, and Mi Querida. These announcements drew considerable attention among cigar faithful which, of course, was a predictable outcome given the success of Dunbarton’s inaugural line, Sobremesa.

“It has been an incredibly grueling 90 days,” Saka wrote on Facebook on July 7. “I have finalized five marca designs and over 15 ligas between 46 vitolas. Thankfully, I had been buying leaf and working on all of these blends over the past year. While there are some packaging tweaks required, none of any of these cigars are half-baked.”

NACSA is the site of production for Mi Querida, a blend of Nicaraguan tobaccos surrounded by a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper that’s crafted by Raul Disla under direction from Saka. Nine vitolas are available, including the Fino Largo (6 x 48), which retails for about $9. I smoked several for this review, each provided by

Mi Querida sports an understated yet attractive band of blue and gold with corrugated edges. The exterior leaf is dark, oily, mottled, and rustic with plenty of tooth, thick seams, and the occasional splotch of out-of-place color. The rough-looking cap clips cleanly to reveal an easy cold draw. Off the foot, the pre-light notes are rich, sweet, and damp with hints of chocolate and musty earth.

The Fino Largo tastes the way, I believe, many expected Sobremesa to taste given Saka’s history with Drew Estate. It has a moist, full-bodied profile with a grainy texture and ample spice. Notes of espresso, cinnamon, damp wood, and leather are front-and-center from the get-go. After an inch, the cigar is at its best with hints of roasted nut and nougat sweetness adding complexity. Here, there’s still plenty of power, but that power is more refined, balanced, and harmonious. The final third brings a reprise of the intensity found at the outset.

Mi Querida is Spanish for “my dearest,” but in Nicaragua the phrase is most often used to describe a mistress. Kind of fitting, since I almost feel like I’m cheating on Sobremesa when I smoke one. Sobremesa came first, after all, and while it hasn’t been around terribly long, I’ve burned through more than my fair share. We have a history. That said, I foresee a long and meaningful relationship with the dirtier, cheaper Mi Querida. It’s highly satisfying if you’re seeking something musty, earthy, rich, well-constructed, and—in the case of the Fino Largo, especially—strong. My expectations are high whenever I light up a Saka creation, and this one does not disappoint. I award it four and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys