Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 378

11 Apr 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.

Amadeus1) Iconic Leaf has announced an extension to its Recluse line of cigars called Amadeus. Select retailers will receive pre-IPCPR shipments of the product, which features a Connecticut-seed Ecuadorian shade wrapper, a proprietary binder, and a filler combination of Dominican and Connecticut tobaccos. A press release issued by Iconic Leaf describes Amadeus as “rich and flavorful with a smoothness that is undeniably Recluse.” There will be six vitolas—three box-pressed, and three of the Sidewinder variety (a format pioneered by Iconic Leaf that’s a flattened oval with a slight box press and a bit of a taper at the cap). Amadeus appears to be the company’s first attempt to capture some of the milder premium cigar market. Iconic Leaf launched a few years ago and has kept the identities of its principals private.

2) Customers of Pennsylvania-based online retailer Famous Smoke Shop may notice the recently introduced cigar brand search page. The tool enables browsing of all brands by alphabetical order, by strength, or by country of origin. According to a press release, “Famous Smoke Shop is excited to implement the new cigar brand search page to offer their customers an easier and more convenient way to shop to improve the overall shopping experience.”

3) Inside the Industry: D’Crossier is introducing a new line called Golden Blend Series featuring Nicaraguan and Dominican filler that is comprised 40% of tobacco aged for ten years. The Costa Rican-made cigar has an Ecuador wrapper and Costa Rican binder and comes in five sizes: Robusto, Torpedo, Taino (6.5 x 54), Churchill, and Double Corona.

4) Around the Blogs: Stogie Review reviews L’Atelier Extension de la Racine. Cigar Fan fires up a Cain Daytona. Cigar Inspector inspects the Punch Ninfas. Leaf Enthusiast checks out the Nica Rustica by Drew Estate.

5) Deal of the Week: Famous Smoke Shop has a variety of coupons available ranging from $10 or $20 off (orders of $100 and $200, respectively) to free five-packs and free boxes. The coupons can be combined with sale items or even constantly updating Cigar Monster deals.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Iconic Leaf

Drew Estate

Commentary: Beginner Pipe Blends

10 Apr 2014

Hopefully, after my previous discussion on the different types of tobacco pipes, you were inspired to go pick one up. Now you’re probably realizing you need some tobacco. Well, today I’m going to discuss different types of tobaccos and some good beginner blends.

A quick disclaimer: This article is going to paint in very broad strokes. There are tons of different tobacco “genres,” but I’m going to focus here on the Big Three. This is not to say that they have more merit than the others, or that there is something inherently more important about them. They are simply the most common. Also, the blends that I recommend will be from my personal experience and opinion. If you don’t like them, or if you have another idea, please feel free to discuss it in the comments. Just know I am not trying to say these are the “best” blends; what I am saying is they are good, beginner-friendly representations of the larger groups they come from.

Virginia Tobaccos — Virginias are some of the most common tobaccos. If a blend is not pure Virginia, then it likely has some Virginia leaf in it. What’s great about Virginias is they come in all different shades. Mainly, there are “bright” and “matured” varieties. The difference here is in color and flavor. Bright Virginias are yellows and light brown, and taste sweet, with notes of hay and citrus very common. Matured, dark Virginias have a higher nicotine content and a much richer flavor (full palate sweetness, dark earthiness). There are also reddish Virginias, which seem to be a good in-between. Virginias tend to come in the flake format, or broken flake, which is a bit harder to prepare to smoke, so I’d recommend watching some videos on that before you attempt it (this is a topic we will cover later). For a lighter blend, I’d heartily recommend Orlik’s Golden Sliced, which has great lemon and citrus notes. For a darker version, try H.H. Matured Virginia from MacBaren.

English Tobaccos — This definition is a constant topic of debate, but used colloquially English blends refer to blends which feature latakia. Latakia is a leaf similar to fire-cured (for more info, see my review of the A.J. Fernandez Spectre), and tastes smoky and spicy. These are great tobaccos, but I would recommend you start with a tin containing only a slight amount of lat, to make sure you like it. Luckily, there’s a fantastic series of pipe tobacco which is just that: McClelland’s Frog Morton. Specifically, I’d recommend either the titular “Frog Morton” or “Frog Morton Across the Pond.” Across the Pond is a bit more intense, but still shouldn’t scare anyone away.

Aromatics — Much like flavored cigars, these are blends with something added to them. These are the pipe tobaccos most people associate with their grandfathers (if you ever want to figure out what your grandfather smoked, I’d bet money it was Middleton’s Cherry, which you can still find at drugstores today). Some aromatics are very goopy. What I mean is there’s a lot of flavoring added and they smoke very wet. Also, aromatics tend to “ghost” briar pipes (they leave their flavor in the pipe itself). Due to this, I only smoke aromatics in a corn cob. My favorite aromatics are currently Drew Estate’s Central Park Stroll, which has chocolate and fruit notes, and MacBaren’s Honey & Chocolate, which is the most chocolatey blend I’ve ever tasted (the honey, however, I don’t get).

These should be very accessible blends that will help you get into pipe smoking. If you try any of these, or if you’d like to hear reviews of them, or if you have other suggestions, let me know. Next time I’ll cover packing a pipe and avoiding tongue burn.

-Joey J

photo credit: N/A

Cigar Safari: On Location in Estelí, Nicaragua

7 Apr 2014

StogieGuys.com is once again on location in Estelí, Nicaragua. We’ll return to our daily coverage of the world of cigars on Thursday, April 10. In the meantime, feel free to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, as well as via live Instagram updates:

Be sure to come back to StogieGuys.com next week as we share exciting content from our Cigar Safari, hosted by the fine folks of Drew Estate.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Drew Estate Cigar Safari Personal Blend (2013)

6 Apr 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.”

DE-cigar-safari-blend

Since we’re headed to visit Drew Estate in Estelí today, I thought I’d try out the blend I made during last year’s visit. Truth be told, I don’t remember exactly what the blend is (I have it written somewhere), but I remember it has the same stalk-cut Connecticut Habano wrapper as the Liga Privada T-52 and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos. I also selected an unusual size (6.5 x 46) with a pigtail cap and closed foot. As for flavor, the medium-bodied blend features plenty of classic Habano notes of warm tobacco, bread, and wood with hints of coffee and clove. It’s pretty simplistic and hardly a masterpiece, though it is well-constructed and balanced. Still, there’s a reason you won’t be seeing Drew Estate put this blend into production.

Verdict = Hold.

-Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Camacho Corojo Robusto

5 Apr 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.”

corojo-robusto

I’ve smoked a handful of Camacho cigars since the brand’s re-launch and have yet to find one I enjoy nearly as much as I did when they were leading the full-bodied charge years ago. Unfortunately, the Corojo Robusto (5 x 50) continues that streak. This Honduran puro, with a $7 price tag, is powerful but one-dimensional with not much in the way of flavor.

Verdict = Sell.

-George E

photo credit: Camacho Cigars

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 377

4 Apr 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.

Drew Estate1) For the third time in three years, next week StogieGuys.com will be on location at Drew Estate’s Cigar Safari. The four-day pilgrimage takes place in Estelí, a city in northern Nicaragua that has become a mecca of tobacco cultivation and premium cigar production. Its prominence in the industry has grown considerably in recent years; imports from Nicaragua grew 15% in 2013—an achievement that has the Central American nation on pace to surpass the Dominican Republic as the largest provider of premium cigars to the U.S. market. Patrick A and Patrick S will once again be on hand to learn from cigar icons like Jonathan Drew, visit tobacco processing facilities, walk cigar factory floors, and get a behind-the-scenes look at one of the industry’s most exciting companies. And, of course, we’ll return with lots of content and information to share with you. Before we depart on Sunday, feel free to leave comments on this post with any questions you’d like us to ask while we’re there.

2) La Palina’s “Mr. Sam” is transitioning from an 850-box limited run to a regular production series in the La Palina portfolio. Crafted in Miami at El Titan de Bronze with an Ecuadorian wrapper around Nicaraguan tobaccos, it will be offered in three vitolas: Corona, Robusto, and Toro. The line is named for Samuel Paley, who founded La Palina in 1896.

3) Inside the Industry: Nicaragua took another step towards surpassing the Dominican Republic in cigar imports to the United States. According to Cigar Association of America numbers (published first in Cigar Insider) Nicaragua produced 15% more cigars in 2013 than it did in 2012. Dominican production was flat, while Honduras was down slightly. If the rates of growth remains the same in 2014 then Nicaraguan would surpass the Dominican Republic.

4) Deal of the Week: The Stogie Guys Sampler at Corona Cigar Co. was recently updated. Just $30 gets you 7 cigars, including an Undercrown and the limited Avo Lounge cigar.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Stogie Guys

News: NJ Bill Targets Tobacco Advertising for Special Tax

3 Apr 2014

A New Jersey bill currently under consideration represents a new type of anti-tobacco legislation.The proposed law, introduced March 24, would tax all advertising for tobacco products at a rate of 25%.

750px-Flag_of_New_Jersey.svgWhile a number of states are considering expanded smoking bans and increased tobacco taxes, the New Jersey law would be the first time a state would tax tobacco advertising. New Jersey already taxes cigars at a rate of 30% of the wholesale price and has a $2.70 per-pack tax on cigarettes, the sixth highest in the country.

Advertising directed at children is already regulated, so the ads this bill targets are for adults who can legally purchase cigars and other tobacco products. Revenue raised from the tax would go towards state funding of programs to prevent the use of tobacco products including electronic cigarettes.

Analysis

The bill only has four sponsors out of an 80-member General Assembly. And no companion bill has been introduced in the New Jersey Senate.

Given the current support, it is unlikely it will pass this term, but it should be a warning for advocates of cigar freedom. Anti-tobacco zealots are not happy just taxing tobacco; they also want to silence speech targeted at adults for tobacco products, or at least tax that speech and use the revenue to counter the message.

The proposed legislation also raises free speech issues since it targets one specific viewpoint for a tax and uses it for a message (anti-tobacco advocacy) that would presumably be opposed by those paying the tax. Generally, courts have found laws that target or limit a specific viewpoint to be a violation of First Amendment free speech protections.

It isn’t clear how the bill would apply to national publications where advertising happens to reach New Jersey audiences, but isn’t specifically targeted to them, which would include sites like StogieGuys.com. Further, the proposed tax would likely hit more dynamic and innovative types of tobacco particularly hard, which would include premium cigars where new products utilize advertising to fight for consumer attention.

Even though passage of this tobacco speech tax may not be likely immediately, this is a disturbing new type of anti-tobacco legislation that cigar smokers should be wary of. In the past, far too often seemingly unique and farfetched anti-tobacco proposals have become mainstream only a few years later.

-Patrick S

photo credit: wikipedia