Quick Smoke: Intemperance BA XXI A.W.S. IV

5 May 2018

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.”

Much of what I smoke is dictated by which cigars need to be examined for this website. But I also try my best to keep up with old favorites, too. Earning a spot in this select rotation is perhaps one of the highest marks I can give a cigar—a true testament to quality, consistency, and performance. The Intemperance BA XXI A.W.S. IV from RoMa Craft Tobac has been in this elite group for a few years now. This Arapiraca-wrapped lonsdale (6.5 x 44) is the perfect format to enjoy the outstanding Intemperance BA blend, which also includes an Indonesian binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. For the very fair price of about $7.50, you get a well-balanced profile of red and black pepper along with notes of cocoa, sweet cream, roasted nut, and dry wood. Construction is outstanding. A word of warning: If you give this cigar a try, you’ll find yourself buying a lot more.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Sixth Avo Improvisation Released, Drew Estate Launches Limited Corona Viva No. 9, and More

4 May 2018

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 577th in the series.

1) In celebration of Avo’s 30th anniversary, Davidoff this week announced the release of the sixth iteration of Avo Improvisation, “a limited series inspired by unexpected combinations of music and cigars.” Only 2,400 boxes of 25 cigars have been made in a single ultra-premium vitola (7.5 x 50). The recipe, which is inspired by the Avo Classic No. 3, includes an Ecuadorian wrapper, Dominican binder, and Dominican filler tobaccos. The per-cigar price is $16. Improvisation pays homage to Avo founder and Juilliard-trained jazz pianist Avo Uvezian, who passed away in March 2017 at the age of 91.

2) Drew Estate has announced the pre-release of the Liga Privada No. 9 Corona Viva, which is exclusive to the Cigars International Super-Store in Hamburg, Pennsylvania. The cigar “features a Connecticut River Valley Broadleaf Oscuro wrapper, a plantation-grown Brazilian Mata Fina binder, and Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers,” according to a press release. “Similar in concept to the Undercrown Corona Viva, released in 2012, the No. 9 Corona Viva features the core blend with increased Ligero for a fuller and stronger taste profile.” The Corona Viva was launched as a pre-release yesterday in limited quantities. Boxes of 24 ($290) will be available at Cigars International’s CIGARfest in limited quantities.

3) As the official bourbon sponsor of the Kentucky Derby, Woodford Reserve has again released a special edition bottle for the 2018 Kentucky Derby (which takes place tomorrow). The commemorative bottling is filled with the standard-issue Woodford Reserve bourbon and sells for $44. It is also used in the $1,000 mint juleps sold at the derby in a special edition silver cup (and a $2,500 julep that comes in a gold-plated cup) with proceeds going to charity.

4) Inside the Industry: Gurkha Cigars announced its first Tobacconsits’ Association of America (TAA) exclusive cigar, which is an extension of the company’s Heritage line. It is made with an Ecuador Habano wrapper and blinder around Peruvian and Nicaraguan filler. Only 1,000 of the Toro box-pressed cigars will be made, and they will retail for $100 per box. Look for them this summer.

5) From the Archives: Ever wonder how The Stogie Guys got started smoking  cigars? You can read the full story here.

6) Deal of the Week: Fancy humidors can be great, but when it comes to functionality and value you’d be hard-pressed to beat an acrylic jar like this one, which is currently on sale for $17 (with free Amazon Prime shipping).

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Davidoff

Cigar Spirits: Michel Couvreur Overaged Malt Whisky

2 May 2018

What exactly is Michel Couvreur Overaged Malt Whisky? I’ll let the front label of this enigmatic offering explain: “Distilled in Scotland. Vatted from various over twelve-year-old whiskies traditionally ennobled with sherry oak casks and bottled in our French Burgundian caves.”

Michel Couvreur, who passed away in 2013, produced and sold wine for many years before falling for single malt scotch. He then began buying unaged single malt from various Scottish distilleries and shipping it to his cellars in Burgundy, France, for extended aging in mostly sherry casks before being blended together.

The Overaged Malt Whisky is the Michel Couvreur offering you’re most likely to encounter in the United States. The whisky is aged at least twelve years, though some accounts suggest it is “vatted from 54 whiskies aged 12 to 27.” Because it is hard to find, prices may vary significantly (I found a deal at $50 plus shipping, but $70 or more seems more the norm).

To get at the whisky you’ll have to bust through a traditional wine cork (it’s a product of Burgundy after all) that is sealed with wax. Apparently, the best method is to leave the wax alone and just go at it with a corkscrew. Once open, you’ll find a nose that combines dried flowers, light smoke, damp red wine barrels, and fruit cake.

On the palate, the sherried notes (candied almonds, oloroso, figs) dominate, but with the added complexity of pears, berries, and smoked pork combined with the slightest whiff of peat and musty notes imparted from the wine cellars where the whisky is aged. The finish is lush and long with more red fruit, musty earth and just a bit of unique funk that’s hard to describe.

Supposedly, the folks at Michel Couvreur drive to Jerez to pick out fresh sherry casks from well-known sherry producer Equipos Navazos. At a time when Scottish distilleries are finding it tougher and tougher to find good sherry casks, Courvreur’s small-scale access gives it an advantage that comes through in its whisky.

To me, it outshines most of the twelve year sherried single malt whiskies (including Macallan). So if that’s your style of single malt, don’t be afraid to try Michel Couvreur Overaged Malt Whisky.

It’s a true after-dinner drink, perfect with a well-balanced cigar. A good, balanced Cuban like the Cohiba Siglo VI is an ideal pairing. For a non-Cuban cigar, try the Cabaiguan Robusto Extra, Davidoff Colorado Claro, or Paul Garmirian 25th Anniversary.

Patrick Sphoto credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Debonaire Daybreak Toro

30 Apr 2018

Debonaire got on my radar about two years ago when Drew Estate announced it had entered an agreement to become the exclusive distributor of Debonaire and its sister brand, Indian Motorcycle cigars. Both are produced in the Dominican Republic for longtime industry veteran Phillip S. Zanghi III and Daniel Sinclair, founder of Durfort Holdings, a manufacturer of pipe tobacco, cut rag, and machine cigars.

Of the partnership, Jonathan Drew had this to say: “Phil Zanghi has been a dear personal friend of mine for two decades. When I permanently moved to Nicaragua in 1998, I wasn’t speaking no fancy languages like Spanish, so Phil helped keep me sane, as we scuttled back and forth between Nica and Honduras. He’s been a psychological and spiritual Drew Estate booster from our beginnings.”

Now Zanghi is a booster for his own portfolio of cigars, bolstered by Drew Estate’s extensive distribution network. Along with the Nicaraguan-wrapped Habano and the Connecticut Broadleaf-wrapped Maduro, the Connecticut Shade-wrapped Daybreak is one of three lines in Debonaire’s Ultra Premium collection. It debuted in November and is “the first Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade-wrapped cigar exclusively sold through Drew Diplomat Retailers as part of the Drew Estate portfolio.”

Six sizes are available in the $8.74 to $13.25 price range: Corona (6 x 46), Belicoso (6 x 54), First Degree (4 x 44), Robusto (5 x 50), Sagita-Petite Lancero (5.5 x 38), and Toro (6 x 50). According to Debonaire and Drew Estate, the blend is smooth and tastes of spice, earth, nuts, and sweetness.

I tried a handful of Toros to see how this vitola stacks up. For starters, the appearance is impressive. Underneath the large band of gold, black, and brown is a clean, golden wrapper with tight seams and minimal veins. The cap clips cleanly to reveal a smooth cold draw, and the faint pre-light notes at the foot remind me of honey and hay.

In my book, a good Connecticut Shade cigar has ample creaminess, nuttiness, and a little spice, with (hopefully) some interesting background notes to add complexity. The poor cigars in this class tend to be overly dry, papery, bland, and sometimes medicinal. Fortunately, at the outset, the Daybreak Toro is in the former category. Flavors range from creamy cashew and lightly roasted coffee to white pepper and almond butter. There’s also some cinnamon in the background of the mild- to medium-bodied profile.

After the first third, the flavor settles into the decidedly mild corner of the spectrum with a noticeable drop in both spice and taste. Here, the flavor is smooth and buttery with a dry, oaky character. But it also verges on being too mild and flat. So I find myself hoping for a reprise of the nuttiness and complexity of the introduction.

Fortunately, the anticipated reappearance of the balance, body, and complexity from the first third comes shortly after the midway point and, for the most part, sticks around until the end.

Construction is outstanding throughout, as one should expect from a $13 cigar. The burn line is straight, the ash holds well, the draw is easy, and the smoke production is voluminous.

This is a challenging cigar to review. It has flashes of brilliance, periods of dullness, and a high price tag. In the end, I smoked three Debonaire Daybreak Toros before rendering my verdict of three stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Nat Sherman Metropolitan Habano Toro

29 Apr 2018

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.”

Nat Sherman Walk-In Humidor

Introduced a couple years ago to update Nat Sherman’s Metropolitan series that dates to the 1990s cigar boom, the Habano is a stronger Nicaraguan puro. It makes that heritage known quickly with a spicy start. That continues to dominate through the first half and then becomes mixed with some sweetness and a bit of nuts and wood. Rolled by Plascencia, construction and draw are excellent. Priced at about $7, the Toro (6 x52) is well worth picking up.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: CAO Flathead V554 Camshaft

28 Apr 2018

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.”

CAO Flathead might not be central on your radar anymore, but there’s a lot to like here. This blend—which consist of a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper around a Habano Connecticut binder and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos—brings some nice, full flavors to the table. The V554 Camshaft (5.5 x 54) sports a low-spice, leathery profile of milk chocolate, espresso, black pepper, and cream with a perfect draw and a straight burn line that requires no touch-ups. These days, you can find this cigar for less than $6 when bought by the box of 24. That makes it an easy recommendation for an everyday smoke.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Traverse City Premium Cocktail Cherries, Camacho Reintroduces Coyolar, General Cigar Appoints New VP of Marketing, and More

27 Apr 2018

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 576th in the series.

1) Want to upgrade your cocktail game? One of the easiest ways is to upgrade from those unnaturally neon cherries you are putting in your cocktails. Traverse City Whisky Company’s Premium Cocktail Cherries is easy to recommend for your Manhattan, old fashioned, or sour. (Not coincidentally, Traverse City is the home of the tart cherry festival.) It’s great that it doesn’t use any artificial colors, but really you’ll know the difference when you taste it. Traverse City Whisky Company’s Premium Cherries can now be found at all Meijer grocery locations and numerous other retailers including Amazon.

2) Camacho has announced the national reintroduction of Coyolar. The blend and formats remain the same as the original Coyolar, but the packaging reflects Camacho’s modern, bold look. “Born from the volcanic soils of a small 15-acre farm found at the base of the mountains joining Nicaragua and Honduras, this spicy and flavorful smoke is built from ‘single farm vintage’ Criollo tobaccos,” reads a press release. “The land’s distinctive and mineral-rich soil provides the tobacco its unique color, texture, and intense flavor. Not for the faint of heart, this Honduran Puro is one of Camacho’s most respected blends, a true powerhouse cigar that provides blasts of leather, pepper, rich coffee, and oak.” Coyolar is made at Oettinger Davidoff’s new Camacho facility, Diadema Cigars, located near Danlí, Honduras. The line will begin shipping this week in five formats that range in price from $8.50 to $10.

3) Chris Tarr, a regional sales manager at General Cigar, has been named vice president of marketing. “Chris is the right person to lead the marketing organization and I am very pleased he accepted the position,” said Regis Broersma, president of General Cigar. “He brings a strong background in on-premise marketing, having worked for seven years at Coors Brewing Company before joining General Cigar in 2008. Together with his expertise in managing our 16-state West sales region and his firsthand knowledge of retailer and consumer preferences, Chris has the skills to support me and the executive team in driving the business forward. Chris is also not shy about pushing for his ideas and I am confident that he will be a strong leader for our marketing organization.” Tarr’s responsibilities include brand marketing, innovation, public relations, social media, and events. He will lead the marketing team remotely from Dallas.

4) Inside the Industry: The J.C. Newman Cigar Company has renamed its Nicaraguan cigar factory from PENSA to J.C. Newman PENSA. “This change, while symbolic, reflects the shift that we are making as a company to elevate the J.C. Newman name and use it to tell our story as a 123-year-old, four-generation family business, and America’s oldest family-owned premium cigar maker,” said Eric Newman, president. Eric and Bobby Newman built Puros de Estelí Nicaragua, S.A. (PENSA) in 2011, and the factory has since tripled in size. Today, it employs 840 workers who hand roll 100,000 cigars each day (making it the secord largest Nicaraguan factory next to La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate). J.C. Newman rolls its Brick House, Perla del Mar, El Baton, Quorum, and other cigar brands at J.C. Newman PENSA.

5) From the Archives: Though it should be obvious, a true StogieGuys.com fan respects all cigar smokers and certainly wouldn’t be disrespectful to our fellow cigar smoker’s who are women. That’s the topic covered in this 2014 commentary, which calls out some (hopefully very rare) bad behavior.

6) Deal of the Week: StogieGuys.com recommends Bespoke Post, a monthly collection of awesome items (think fine bar accessories, shaving kits, workout gear, and more) delivered for just $45. Of note is the Churchill box, which features four exclusive cigars, an ashtray made of reclaimed wood, an odor-eating candle, cedar spills, and a cutter. Once you are signed up, there is no obligation; you can skip or purchase each month. Sign up by Monday to be eligible for the May box.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Stogie Guys / Camacho