Cigar Spirits: Old Ezra 101 7 Year Straight Kentucky Bourbon

25 Aug 2015

Want evidence of a bourbon boom? Look no further than network television. Both Fox and NBC have recently begun development of two dramas based on the industry.

old-ezra-101-7-year-bourbonIf you wanted to make the case for a bourbon bubble, this would be it. Bourbon is hot, there’s no doubt about it, but there are still some hidden gems. While the premium end of the market gets more expensive there are still some excellent values out there if you know where to look.

Old Ezra 101 7 Year fits that bill nicely. It’s available for $20, or even a few bucks less. It weighs in at a solid 101-proof and, unlike many value-oriented bourbons, it carries an age statement, which means all the bourbon in the bottle is at least seven years old.

The golden-hued bourbon features a straightforward nose with vanilla, bananas, and spice. On the palate is a pleasant combination of vanilla, rich oak, and rye spice. Think banana bread and wood spice. It’s surprisingly smooth for the proof, perhaps due to the charcoal filtering (like the process that Jack Daniels undergoes). The finish is pretty nondescript, but for just a Jackson I’m not going to complain.

The bottle isn’t dissimilar to Jack Daniels and I don’t think that’s an accident (Jack Daniels is, of course, the best-selling American whiskey). But it would be a mistake to write off Old Ezra 101 as a Jack Daniels knockoff, as it offers a richer, woodier flavor.

Pair it with any woody cigar and I don’t think you’ll be too disappointed. Here are some recommendations: Aging Room F55 Quattro, Arturo Fuente King T, Coronado by La Flor, El Cedro, and La Flor Dominicana Cameroon Cabinet.

Unfortunately, Old Ezra 101 7 Year can be a bit difficult to find because the distribution seems to be limited (not because of excess demand). Still, bourbon fans in general, especially those on a budget, should definitely seek out this tasty bourbon value.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

Cigar Review: Partagas Aniversario Robusto

24 Aug 2015

If there are any unwritten, hard-and-fast rules in the cigar industry, one must surely be to never let an anniversary go unnoticed. Be it a cigar maker’s birthday, the anniversary of the founding of a brand, or any other milestone imaginable, you can bet any significant date will be commemorated with a cigar—usually a limited edition super-premium.

Partagas AniversarioSince 2015 is the 170th anniversary of Partagas—which is among the oldest extant brands in the industry—it was no surprise to see the good folks at General Cigar unveiling a commemorative smoke with a considerable price tag. The Partagas Aniversario, as it is called, was prominently and proudly on display at the General booth at the premium cigar trade show in New Orleans in July.

Expected to hit retailer shelves this fall, Aniversario sports a proprietary Cameroon wrapper grown specifically for General, plus a Connecticut binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Three sizes will be sold in 10-count boxes with prices ranging from $15.99 to $17.99 per cigar: Robusto (5 x 50), Toro (6 x 54), and Salomone (7.25 x 54).

When you think Cameroon wrapper, you’re likely not expecting anything as dark as the wrapper leaf on Aniversario. It almost looks like a grayish, muted maduro. The surface is oily with a complex network of thin veins and plenty of tooth. The pre-light notes remind me of damp wood and milk chocolate, and the triple-cap clips cleanly to reveal an easy cold draw despite the tight cross-section of filler tobaccos visible at the foot.

Once lit, the Robusto exhibits a medium-bodied profile of cedar spice, black coffee with sugar, cinnamon, and a little black pepper. The flavor is well-rounded and harmonious and, on the aftertaste, there’s a sharp concentration of spice on the tip of the tongue. So, yes, if you’re a fan of Cameroon-wrapped cigars, you’ll find all the expected elements here, including cedar and sweetness with an approachable level of strength.

As far as the physical properties are concerned, the white ash holds incredibly well, the draw has just the slightest resistance, the burn line is straight, and the smoke production is average. In other words, everything is in line with what I’ve come to expect from General Cigar.

I’ve long been a fan of Cameroon cigars and am of the opinion the wrapper leaf is underrepresented in the marketplace and underappreciated. The Partagas Aniversario is a good example of a well-built, tasty Cameroon. That said, I’m unconvinced it’s so significantly better than some of its competition that sells for a fraction of the price. All told, I’m settling on an admirable score of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Smoking Jacket Favoritos

23 Aug 2015

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.”

smoking-jacket-fav

Smoking Jacket is made at Hendrik Kelner Jr.’s Kelner Boutique Factory in the Dominican Republic. The line consists of four sizes each with a unique blend (in part because two sizes use a Brazilian Cubra wrapper and two, including the  Favoritos (6 x 46), use a 9-year-old Dominican Cotuí grown on Kelner family farms). The cigar starts out leathery and spicy, but settles into a medium- to full-bodied blend with cedar, earth, and a feint sweetness. It isn’t the most balanced smoke, but with lots of flavor and excellent construction it is enjoyable.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: MBombay Habano Churchill

22 Aug 2015

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief take on a single cigar.flor-de-valle-sq

MBombay Habano Churchill

My first MBombay was quite a pleasant experience. I was impressed with the cigar’s sweet spiciness and thick, rich smoke. The Churchill (7 x 48) exhibited several changes, keeping it interesting all the way. The wrapper and binder are from Ecuador, while the filler is a combination of Nicaraguan and Peruvian tobacco. My only complaint on the $13.50 stick was a not-so-hot burn that required numerous touch-ups, especially in the second half. Still, I look forward to sampling other lines from MBombay.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: MBombay

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 444

21 Aug 2015

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.

Davidoff1) In November, the MetWest International complex in Tampa will be home to the world’s largest Davidoff store. “The 5,000-square-foot location will be one of only two licensed locations in the U.S., with the other located in Las Vegas,” reports the Tampa Tribune. “The company has plans to open more stores in Atlanta, Houston, and New York… The Tampa Davidoff site will be a partnership with Jeff and Tanya Borysiewicz, owners of the Orlando-based Corona Cigar Co.”

2) Tickets are still available for the W. Curtis Draper Little Puff Weekend, which is held September 25-26 in Washington. The event is limited to 275 attendees, each of whom receive over 20 cigars, food courtesy of Charlie Palmer, and an open bar. Get your tickets here before it’s too late.

3) Inside the Industry: Two years after being announced, the Ray Lewis Legends 52 Cigar by Rocky Patel will finally debut in October. Davidoff has named Martin Kaufmann Senior Vice President of Europe and Global Travel Retail, which includes the responsibility for Davidoff’s presence in airport and duty-free locations.

4) Deal of the Week: Cigar Place is offering an additional 40% off its already discounted clearance section by using the promo code “clearance.” Notable deals include five-packs of the Quesada Oktoberfest 2013 Das Boot, Punch, La Gloria Cubana, Foundry, Dunhill 1907, and CAO.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Davidoff

Cigar Review: Joya de Nicaragua Cuatro Cinco Reserva Especial Toro

20 Aug 2015

A few years ago, Joya de Nicaragua released Cuatro Cinco to celebrate its 45th anniversary. The limited production cigar was a Nicaraguan puro with tobaccos from Estelí and Jalapa, including aged Ligero that had been resting in oak barrels.

Cuatro Cinco Reserva Especial ToroOnly 4,500 boxes of 10 were made in a single vitola: a large, semi-box-pressed smoke that measured 6 inches long with a ring gauge of 54. In addition to earning an exemplary rating at StogieGuys.com in November 2013, Joya reported Cuatro Cinco sold out in just a few short weeks.

Flash forward to 2015. A few months ago, Joya announced Cuatro Cinco Reserva Especial, which started shipping the last week of June to selected members of the Drew Diplomat Retailers program. Reserva Especial, which is a regular production line, features a “carefully modified recipe,” including barrel-aged, Grade A fillers and a shade-grown Habano wrapper from Jalapa. Four softly box-pressed vitolas sell in the $8 to $12.50 range: Torpedo, Double Robusto, Petit Corona, and Toro.

The Toro (6.25 x 50) is a dark, oily specimen with few noticeable veins and a loose cross-section of tobacco visible at the foot. Its band is very similar to the original Cuatro Cinco, except the newer version says “Reserva Especial” across the top, and there’s more white than gold as a secondary color to the black. The pre-light notes remind me of dried fruit, especially green raisin. The triple-cap clips easily to reveal a smooth cold draw.

Once lit, the Reserva Especial exhibits a gritty, leathery profile with hints of red and black pepper along with espresso. The body is full from the get-go, coating the palate with thick smoke and leaving plenty of spice on the aftertaste. After a half inch, some cocoa sweetness joins in, rendering the profile a little more balanced and interesting. The cocoa is a most welcome addition, though it can be elusive, especially if you smoke too quickly.

As I’ve come to expect from Joya de Nicaragua, the combustion qualities are excellent, including a straight burn line, solid ash, easy draw, and good smoke production.

The original Cuatro Cinco—known as “Edición Limitada”—may be the best cigar Joya has ever produced, so perhaps it’s unfair to compare the Reserva Especial to it. On the other hand, Joya is certainly inviting that comparison by maintaining the Cuatro Cinco name (assuredly trying to capitalize on the former’s success). In my humble view, judging by the Toro size alone, the Cuatro Cinco Reserva Especial is quite tasty but not up to the high standards set by Edición Limitada. That said, kudos to Joya for releasing more than one Reserva Especial size; I particularly look forward to seeing how the Petit Corona stacks up. For now, the Toro should be on your watch list. It’s worthy of an admirable rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: My Father Le Bijou 1922 Toro

19 Aug 2015

While StogieGuys.com has taken note of this popular My Father line—including a 2012 mention of the Churchill as a Gold Star smoke—we’ve never actually reviewed it.

my-father-le-bijouI’ve smoked a few of various sizes through the years. Recently, I picked up a couple five-packs of the 6-inch toro with a 52-ring gauge—one of the original vitolas introduced in 2009—at a significant discount over the regular price of about $11 each.

The cigar was crafted by Don José “Pepin” Garcia to honor his father, in the same manner Jaime Garcia did for Don Pepin with the earlier My Father line. Le Bijou 1922 features a Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro wrapper and Nicaraguan binder and filler. The cigars are rolled at the Garcia’s My Father Cigars factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

The dark, oily wrapper is exquisite, with tiny veins and a mouthwatering pre-light barnyard aroma. The presentation is also nicely done, with two ornate bands set off by a cloth orange foot band.

In those I smoked for this review, all but one smoked and burned perfectly. One did develop a tunnel that briefly disrupted the burn and the smoke, though it cleared up after about a half-inch.

I’ve read reviews that make note of pepper, but I don’t really get much of it. To me, there was more light spice than pepper. And the flavors I found tended to be darker and richer, with a sweetness in the second half and some floral notes throughout.

I thought the strength was in the upper-medium level, with a lot of thick, rich smoke.

Overall, this is an enjoyable cigar. The length allows it to develop and display complexity along the way. It’s especially worthwhile if you can catch them on sale.

I’d also recommend trying several of the sizes because there’s a difference among them, enough so that I think some smokers will definitely prefer one over another. I rate My Father Le Bijou 1922 four stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys