Quick Smoke: Illusione Singulare LE 2014 Anunnaki

12 Mar 2017

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.”illusione-singulare-2014-sq

illusionesingulare-2014

One of my favorite cigars of all time is the original Illusione Singulare, the Phantom. It was not only excellent when it first came out; it got better and better overtime. Along those lines, I wanted to see how another impressive Singular evolved with age. The Illusione Singulare 2014 earned a rare five-stogie rating when released and has scored well since. The 5.5-inch, 54-ring gauge Nicaraguan puro continues to exhibit excellent combustion qualities. Flavors include sour dough bread, cappuccino, and light cedar. While Anunnaki remains a very good cigar, aging is not improving it. So, if you have this cigar, don’t hesitate to smoke it now, especially since, along with several other popular Singulare editions, it is being re-released.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

Quick Smoke: Mi Querida Fino Largo

11 Mar 2017

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.”

Mi Querida Fino Largo

reviewed this musty, earthy, rich, well-constructed creation from Steve Saka’s Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust back in October. Since, it has become a regular in my rotation when I’m looking for something full-bodied. The profile is characterized by a grainy texture, ample spice, and flavors ranging from espresso and cinnamon to damp wood and leather. The Mi Querida line is handmade at NACSA employing a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper and Nicaraguan tobaccos. If you haven’t tried the blend yet and are a fan of strong Nicaraguan cigars, you’re missing out. The Fino Largo (6 x 48) runs about $9 and is worth every penny.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Avo Adds to Improvisation Series, C.L.E. Announces a Colorado Cigar, Gurkha Celebrates a Cellar Reserve Anniversary, and More

10 Mar 2017

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post our sampling of cigar news and other items of interest from the week. Below is our latest, which is the 521st in the series.

Avo Improvisation

1) Avo is once again adding to its Improvisation Series. Avo Improvisation LE17 is a combination of three previously released Avo cigars: Syncro Nicaragua, Syncro Nicaragua Fogata, and LE05. “The new blend utilizes the same variety of Dominican binder and filler tobaccos that were featured in the Avo LE05, blended with the same Estelí filler tobacco used in the Avo Syncro Nicaragua Fogata, and presented in the 6 x 60 boxed-pressed format of the Avo Syncro Nicaragua Special Toro,” according to a press release issued by Davidoff, Avo’s parent company. Avo Improvisation LE17 is the first Avo limited edition to be presented in a box-pressed format, and the first to feature a ring gauge of 60. The super-premium, Habano Ecuador Marron Claro-wrapped cigar will retail for $18 for a single cigar or $288 for a box of 16. It will launch on March 22 with a limited production of 2,000 boxes available for the U.S. market. European and other markets will launch shortly thereafter.

2) C.L.E. Cigar Company this week announced the continuation of the Eiroa The First 20 line with the Eiroa The First 20 Colorado, which will begin shipping on April 3. The Colorado is a continuation of the Eiroa The First 20 Line that was officially launched in 2016. “I absolutely love the authentic Corojo seed and finally, after decades of trying, I finally have the exact Colorado color I have been looking for my entire career”, says Christian Eiroa. “I want to share these with guys that actually appreciate the work involved. We are not looking to make millions of these, just the right amount of cigars for the right people.” Each of the cigar’s four sizes will be packaged in boxes of 20 and retail in the $12.36 to $14.36 range.

3) Philip Morris thinks this is the future of tobacco: “To use an IQOS, you push a flavored packet of tobacco called a heatstick into the mouth of a tubular, pipelike holder, which is a bit smaller than a kazoo. When you press a button on the holder, it heats up a metal blade inside, which cooks the tobacco to roughly a third of the temperature of a traditional cigarette. Then you puff away. The tobacco is warmed without combusting, so it doesn’t release any fire, smoke, or ash… In between heatsticks, you holster the cyberpipe in a mobile charger, a smooth, palm-size contraption that calls to mind a cigarette pack mated with a smartphone and designed by Apple’s Jony Ive.”

4) Inside the Industry: Gurkha Cigars is expected to reveal a special edition 15-year Cellar Reserve cigar at the 2017 IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas. The cigar is intended to commemorate the Cellar Reserve’s 10-year anniversary. All that is known at this time is that the cigar will be featured in a “special vitola” and be packaged in a 50-count humidor box. “The Cellar Reserve was our very first brick and mortar exclusive cigar and it has had continued success and amazing ratings,” said Kaizad Hansotia, CEO of Gurkha Cigars. “This cigar speaks to the cigar lover and will be created to encompass everything that is loved of our signature cigar.”

5) From the Archives: People primarily think of four or five countries when it comes to cigars, but the list is far deeper. Last year, we counted down our top ten cigar countries (and noted some countries that could have made the list but missed the cut). Check out six through ten, then the top five.

6) Deal of the Week: The Tatuaje Reserva Broadleaf Collection is 100 cigars (ten each of ten sizes) all made in Miami. The $1,200 price tag makes it a major splurge purchase, but with only a limited number available, we wanted to highlight the availability of this rare item.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Avo Cigars

Cigar Spirits: The GlenDronach 15 Revival Single Malt Scotch Whisky

8 Mar 2017

glndronach15 - 1

When it comes to single malt, I like the extremes the various whisky regions of Scotland offer, from the highly peated, bandaid-iodine-smoke flavors  of Islay to the rich, fruity, sherry-focused Highland or Speyside whiskies. In the latter category, one of my favorites right now is GlenDronach 15.

GlenDronach is a distillery that has flown a bit under the radar, although that is changing. The fact that the distillery was recently purchased by American liquor giant Brown-Forman (Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester) will probably raise its profile in the States even more.

GlenDronach is known for its exclusive use of sherry cask-aged single malt in the 12-year and older varieties, though, more recently, a peated variety and a bourbon and sherry cask 8-year GlenDronach have been added to the line. Now for some bad news: The 15-year (known as “Revival”) has been temporary discontinued. It is scheduled to return in 2018 after bottling was put on hiatus in 2015.

Despite that, you should try to find it now; it’s still out there, though much harder to find now than it was a year or two ago. The reason? The distillery stopped production from 1996 until 2002, meaning the contents of the 15-year bottle are probably more like 18-20 years old. (Read this article for a more detailed explanation.)

The Revival pours a rich mahogany color and is 46% alcohol by volume. The nose is classically sherried with dried fruits along with candied nuts and malt. On the plate is more of the same: a rich (but not syrupy), balanced combination of figs, raisins, toffee, orange marmalade, and clove. The finish lingers with ginger, light citrus, and oak.

GlenDronach frequently gets compared to the Macallan Sherry Oak line, and the comparison is appropriate. Both are unapologetically sherry-forward for those who like that style, and GlenDronach’s advantage is the value it provides; The GlenDronach 15 is comparable in age to Macallan 18, which costs over twice as much ($200).

Last year, in our guide for Father’s Day gifts, I wrote, “any single malt fan would appreciate Glendronach 15 which, although it has been discontinued, can still be found and is the closest thing to Macallan 18 available for under $100.” The recommendation still stands, if you can find it, and my hope is when it returns in 2018 neither the price nor flavor profile change.

As for cigars, GlenDronach 15 is as versatile as it gets. It’s perfect after dinner with a mild, classic white label Davidoff, or with a full-bodied Nicaraguan puro. 

I purchased a few bottles of GlenDronach 15 when I found out it was being temporarily discontinued. It earns my full recommendation, especially for fans of sherried scotch. Pick up a bottle if you can find one. I doubt you’ll regret it.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Sobremesa Elegante en Cedros

6 Mar 2017

Elegante

Steve Saka’s Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust still seems like a very new cigar outfit to me. So I was a bit puzzled to realize it has been over a year and a half since the company’s inaugural line, Sobremesa, debuted at the 2015 IPCPR Trade Show.

Elegante en CedrosTrue, that period of time is nothing compared to the history of longstanding industry flagship operations like Arturo Fuente, La Aurora, Joya de Nicaragua, and the like. Personally, though, it feels like Sobremesa arrived long ago, and that the brand is firmly established.

Maybe that’s because I’ve smoked a ton of Sobremesa since Saka announced it in July 2015. That shouldn’t come as a surprise; regular readers will recall my fondness for the Corona Grande, Gran Imperales, and—especially—the Cervantes Fino. Real estate for Sobremesa has been permanently carved out within my humidor, which is, perhaps, the best complement I can pay a particular line.

Until now, though, the Elegante en Cedros (7 x 50) vitola has eluded me. It’s an extension that was added in 2016. As its name suggests, it comes wrapped in cedar. Like its Sobremesa brethren, Elegante en Cedros boasts an Ecuadorian Habano Rosado wrapper, a Mexican binder, and a filler blend of Pennsylvania Broadleaf Ligero with four different Nicaraguan tobaccos (Gk Condega C-SG Seco, Pueblo Nuevo Criollo Viso, La Joya Estelí C-98 Viso, and ASP Estelí Hybrid Ligero). It is made at Joya de Nicaragua.

Beneath the cedar is an oily, velvety, toothy, slightly reddish wrapper leaf with minimal veins and tight seams. The cap clips easily to reveal a smooth cold draw. At the foot, the pre-light notes are cocoa powder, earth, and caramel.

Saka does not subscribe to the blending strategy of trying to make all the vitolas within a line taste as close as possible; rather, he tweaks the core blend to maximize the performance of each format. He calls Elegante en Cedros “the ultimate expression of a sophisticated vitola,” and cites the format is—along with the Short Chuchill (also an extension frontmark)—stronger than the original six sizes.

Out of the gate, Elegante en Cedros is what I’ve come to expect from the Sobremesa blend, but with an added kick of nicotine and concentration on the palate. Flavors include cocoa, cedar, café au lait, baking spices, creamy caramel, and white pepper. Balanced, harmonious, and delicious.

As the white ash builds off the foot and the straight burn moves towards the inch mark, the intensity and spiciness ramps up a bit, though the body still remains in the medium range. Hints of black cherry and cream come and go as the core leans towards stronger cedar and pepper. Beyond that, I noticed few profile changes throughout the 90-minute smoke.

Elegante en Cedros retails for $13.50 and comes packaged in boxes of 13 (cheers to Saka for forgoing the 25-count box presentation for this vitola, making a box purchase more affordable). I may still slightly prefer the Cervantes Fino, but this is another exquisite Sobremesa smoke that’s not to be missed. I award it an exemplary rating of four and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Partagas Black Clasico

5 Mar 2017

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.”

partagas-black - 1

Partagas Black is one of those cigars I used to smoke frequently but don’t anymore. I’m not certain why. When it comes to unique flavors, there’s little else on the crowded cigar market that tastes like this blend (and I mean that as a compliment). The Clasico is a large robusto format (5.25 x 54). The dark, oily, jet-black wrapper hints at the raisin, licorice, and barbecue burnt-end flavors that follow. Full-bodied, flavorful, and unique, my only complaint is the serious burn issues (probably due to the notably oily wrapper) that necessitate multiple relights.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Illusione *R* Rothchildes

4 Mar 2017

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.”

Rothchildes

I often get asked to recommend cigars with great flavor, low price points, and relatively wide availability. My response always includes the *R* Rothchildes (4.5 x 50) from Illusione, which was released in 2013—and has maintained a welcome home in my humidor ever since. For only about $4, you get a balanced, medium-bodied profile with floral notes, cocoa, black pepper, sweet cream, and roasted nuts. *R* Rothchildes is made at Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA) in Nicaragua with a Mexican San Andrés wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. Get yourself a box of 50 and keep them on hand for just about any occasion—or no occasion at all.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys