Quick Smoke: Leccia Tobacco Luchador Frogsplash

18 Sep 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.”

luchador-frogsplash

At the 2015 IPCPR Trade Show, Leccia Tobacco, then distributed by General Cigar, debuted the rotund (wrestling fans should think more Rikishi than Rey Mysterio) box-pressed Frogsplash (4.5 x 79) as an addition to the Luchador series. In case you’re unsure, check out this demonstration featuring Sam Leccia of what a Frogsplash wrestling move is. The cigar, made at the American Caribbean Tobacco S.A. factory in Nicaragua, features a dark Nicaraguan wrapper, Habano binder from Nicaragua, and Ligero filler from Nicaragua and Pennsylvania. Despite the awkward size, the flavors are enjoyable with black coffee, cedar spice, and cinnamon notes. The medium- to full-bodied smoke features excellent construction, although I had to search a while to find a large enough cutter. Those looking for Leccia Tobacco cigars should note that Sam Leccia has recently launched direct-to-consumer sales though his updated website.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

Quick Smoke: La Sirena The Prince

17 Sep 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.”

La Sirena The Prince

I don’t typically remove a cigar’s band before lighting up, but you pretty much have to with The Prince from La Sirena, as the nautical-themed band covers about half of the surface of the robusto (5 x 50). Once lit, the Nicaraguan puro delivers a full-bodied flavor-blast of black pepper and leather. Shortly thereafter, the tobaccos—a Habano Oscuro wrapper, Criollo binder, and filler leaves from Jalapa and Condega—mellow a bit until they settle into a profile that’s strong and rich with heavy notes of char, roasted nuts, oak, and baking spices. Construction is solid. This is a different blend than the Broadleaf-wrapped one launched in 2010 that was made at My Father Cigars for Miami Cigar & Co. Now made at Erik Espinosa’s La Zona factory in Estelí, it’s a solid choice if you’re craving something strong, and it’s a good buy for around $8.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 497

16 Sep 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.

new-jersey-state-house

1) A bill is moving through the New Jersey legislature that would decriminalize the establishment of new cigar lounges in the state. The General Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee recently passed the bill, which now moves to additional readings before potentially heading to the House floor for a vote. Interestingly, Reed Gusciora, a Democrat, is a primary sponsor of the bill, even though he considers himself “anti-smoking.” “Cigar smokers are a devoted and nuanced group of aficionados who gather and socialize in an environment that would be their own,” he told New Jersey 101.5. “This bill would give towns that want to expand their offerings and appeal to this niche market the option to do so. It would also create a new economic engine for entrepreneurs who want to cater to cigar enthusiasts, and give cigar smokers more places to go to and enjoy their hobby without affecting non-smokers.”

2) Pennsylvania-based online retailer Famous Smoke Shop has announced a new house blend that’s made by Plasencia Cigars S.A. in Estelí, Nicaragua. Called Seven Deadly Sins, it is the “brainchild” between Michael Vandenstockt, Famous’ vice president of operations and marketing, and Nestor Plasencia. Offered in all seven sins–Lust, Gluttony, Avarice, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride—each vitola has been given its own unique blend. As a whole, [the cigars] comprise filler and binder from Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Brazil, Mexico, and Pennsylvania, while the wrappers… are from Nicaragua, Honduras, and Cameroon.”

3) This week the FDA announced 55 tobacco sellers nationwide who were receiving warning letters for reportedly selling newly regulated tobacco products to underage buyers. Of the products purchased, only two could be categorized as premium cigars, both flavored. The rest were mostly vaping products with some machine-made mass-market cigars. The FDA announcement did not say how many undercover stings it conducted where tobacco sellers appropriately asked for ID from the buyers.

4) Inside the Industry: In what would seem to qualify as a stealth cigar (i.e., a cigar released under-the-radar with little fanfare in order to get it on the market before the August 8 FDA deadline), one retailer is now selling Drew Dominicana by Drew Estate. Atlantic Cigar announced the addition in an email to customers Monday afternoon, but little is known, except that the cigar is made in the Dominican Republic by an undisclosed factory and comes in three blends with different wrappers: Maduro, Shade, and Rosado. (Although it is pure speculation, one potential source could be Royal Agio’s Dominican Factory where the Balmoral Añejo XO is made, as the company has a strong partnership with Drew Estate.) Also announced in the same email was the availability of Drew Estate Factory 2nds, with wrappers described as Connecticut Broadleaf, Connecticut Habano, and Sumatra Sungrown. To date, no details have come from Drew Estate about these blends.

5) From the Archives: Looking for a way to improve your palate? About three years ago, StogieGuys.com explored the unusual strategy of smoking two cigars at once. If you try alternating between two cigars that are relatively similar, the article notes, “you’ll be amazed at what flavors you can ‘discover’ in a cigar when searching for differences between two cigars that, smoked alone, would be described in very similar terms.”

6) Deal of the Week: Looking to try some (mostly) new cigars without committing to an entire box or even a five-pack? This 2016 Premium Sampler may be for you. Included in the 10-pack for $89 are such cigars as the Padrón Family Reserve No. 50 Natural, Caldwell Blind Man’s Bluff Toro, Avo Syncro Nicaragua Fogata Robusto, Gurkha Ghost Asura, New World Toro, PDR AFR-75 Maduro Sublime, and the Illusione Epernay Le Matin.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr


Cigar Spirits: Compass Box Hedonism Quindecimus

14 Sep 2016

cb-hedonism-quindecimus

If you know anything about scotch grain whiskey, you probably know the lack of grain whiskey is what makes single malts so sought-after.

Put another way: Grain whiskey is the less flavorful filler that is blended with single malt to make blended whiskies like Dewar’s, Bells, Johnnie Walker, Cutty Sark, and Chivas Regal, which make up 90 percent of all scotch whiskey sold.

For the most part, that characterization is correct, as most grain whiskey is aged only a few years and then blended with single malt to make blended whiskey. And yet, what if instead grain whiskey was left to age properly, perhaps even for decades? How would it taste?

The answer is found in Compass Box’s Hedonism Quindecimus, which is certainly one of the most unique whiskeys I’ve ever tasted. To celebrate the company’s 15th anniverary, they created a blend of grain whiskies, all of which are at least 20 years old.

The Compass Box website can no longer legally disclose the components of this blend due to some ridiculous rules. But, fortunately, we know what makes up this unique blend:

  • 17.6% North British 20-year-old from first-fill American standard barrels
  • 36.6% Port Dundas 25-year-old from rejuvenated hogsheads
  • 8.4% Dumbarton 28-year-old from American standard barrels
  • 19.4% Port Dundas 20-year-old from first-fill American standard barrels
  • 18% 32-year-old Loch Lomond mystery blended grain from American standard barrels

The resulting whiskey is bottled at 92-proof, with just 5,689 bottles made. Expect to pay $125 to $180, if you can find it.

The nose is quite light with hay, honey, shortbread, and floral notes. On the palate, the immense depth and complexity reveals itself with lemon cake, creaminess, tea, custard, light oak, and citrus. It’s the kind of flavor you want to let linger as long as possible. The finish is clean and elegant with more creaminess, cake batter, and light spice.

Considering the price, this isn’t a whisky for everyone. But I don’t think it was ever meant to be for most people. It’s an extraordinary experiment in what a grain whiskey can be in the right hands. Single malt fans should jump at the opportunity to try a glass if they find it on the menu.

The complex flavors go well with a cigar, but it takes a milder smoke to not overwhelm the Hedonism Quindecimus. Try an Ashton Classic, Davidoff Grand Cru, Illusione Epernay, or Paul Garmirian Gourmet.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Rodrigo Boutique Blend G6

12 Sep 2016

rodrigo-1

Not long ago, Rodrigo Cigars was part of the House of Emilio, an organization headed by Gary Griffith that provided distribution of what Griffith called the “best of the boutiques.” Also included under this allied umbrella were brands like 1502, Bodega, Epicurean, Ezra Zion, Guayacan, Herederos, and Nomad.

20160910_025427652_iosMore recently, Griffith departed the outfit, and the confederated brands—now called Boutiques United—were pared down to four: 1502, Emilio, Ezra Zion, and Nomad. Anecdotally speaking, the social media visibility of all of the involved brands (with the exception of Fred Rewey’s Nomad) has declined considerably since the heyday of the House of Emilio. This observation is based on nothing more than my own personal experience, mind you, but I feel safe making the claim. All this isn’t to say the cigars themselves aren’t any good, or can’t still be purchased.

These were the thoughts jumbling in my brain as I came across several Rodrigo Boutique Blend G6s in one of my humidors. No telling how long they had been there. Since this is not a blend my colleagues or I have previously reviewed, I decided to fire them up.

The story behind the Rodrigo brand is one of a man who loved cigars, flew to Santiago on a whim in 2010, and by chance got connected to a former master blender for Davidoff who taught him the business. That man is George Rodriguez, founder and president of Rodrigo Cigars.

Rodrigo consists of three small-batch blends: Habano Clasico, La Fortaleza, and Boutique Blend. The latter sports a dark, clean, moderately oily, slightly reddish Habano Ecuador wrapper around Dominican binder and filler tobaccos. It is available in three sizes: G4 (6.25 x 54), G5 (5.5 x 56), and G6 (6 x 60). The G6 retails for about $9 and has a spongy feel with pre-light notes of honey and graham. The large, thick cigar boasts a smooth cold draw.

As with any 60-ring gauge smoke, toasting the foot and establishing an even light takes patience. My advice is to enjoy the process and take in the ambient notes of sweetness and spice, which set the tone for the profile to come.

On the palate, the G6 is mild- to medium-bodied and balanced with flavors of bread, honey, cedar, and red pepper. The texture is silky. While there’s ample spice on the aftertaste, the overall impression is mostly creamy and light—similar to a whipped butter sensation. At the midway point, the spice increases and the strength ramps up to decidedly medium. Thereafter, I find few changes.

Construction is damn good for a cigar this large. The burn is immaculate, the draw is easy, the ash holds firm, and the smoke production is about average.

The Boutique Blend line was specifically built to taste best in thick formats, hence the ring gauges of 54, 56, and 60. As someone who prefers thinner smokes, though, I can’t help but wonder what this might taste like in a lancero, or even in a standard robusto frame. I wonder if the profile’s character would hold intact, and if the intensity would be amplified.

Regardless, judging the G6 on its own merits, I feel a rating of three and a half stogies out of five is most appropriate.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: J. Fuego Pennsylvania Broadleaf (PBL) Robusto

11 Sep 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.”

jfuego-pbl-robusto

Made by Jesus Fuego, this affordable cigar ($32 for a bundle of 12) shows off a nearly black Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper. Beneath are Nicagauan binder and filler  tobaccos. The result is a medium- to full-bodied cigar with charred earthy notes along with toast and a very clean finish. Despite some soft spots, the cigar burns fine. An above-average maduro at a fantastic sub-$3 price makes this an easy cigar to recommend for Broadleaf fans in search of a good value.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Coronado by La Flor Double Corona

10 Sep 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.”

capture

La Flor’s original Coronado was a StogieGuys.com favorite, gaining a five-stogie rating in 2007, as well as favorable Quick Smoke reviews. It was reintroduced last year in five reasonably priced vitolas. There’s a different band, but the blend is the same: a sun-grown Nicaraguan Habano wrapper with Dominican filler and binder. I found it every bit as enjoyable as the original.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: LFD