Quick Smoke: JFR Corojo Robusto

22 Jul 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.”

Casa Fernandez’s JFR (short for “Just for Retailers”) was originally known for its over-sized vitolas. This 5.5-inch, 50-ring gauge format is a welcome addition for those, like me, who are generally not a fan of 60+ ring gauge cigars. The Nicaraguan puro features a Corojo ’99 wrapper and Aganorsa binder and filler tobaccos. The result is a classic, medium-bodied Nicaraguan profile with sourdough bread, wood spice, and earth flavors. Excellent construction and a reasonable price ($5.50) makes the Robusto easy to recommend.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Caldwell The T. Lonsdale

21 Jul 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.”

Although this cigar is generally referred to as a Caldwell smoke, it’s the result of a collaboration by Robert Caldwell, Matt Booth, and Abdel Fernandez of A.J. Fernandez. All are credited on the cigar’s green and gold secondary band. The T.’s Nicaraguan binder and filler are covered by a San Andrés wrapper. Surprisingly, I noticed none of the “dirt” taste I so often associate with that Mexican tobacco. Instead, I found a pleasing, complex smoke that begins with sweetness reminiscent of chocolate. Along the way, flavors of pepper, wood, burnt coffee, and a little nuttiness came and went. Performance was excellent. At about $10, the 6.5-inch, 44-ring gauge, lightly pressed Lonsdale is a cigar I can recommend highly.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: IPCPR Gets Fired Up, Japan Passes First National Smoking Law, New Cigars from CAO and Hoyo, and More

20 Jul 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 588th in the series.

1) The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) 86th Annual Convention & International Trade Show, held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, wrapped up on Tuesday. The event, which featured the debut of hundreds of new cigars and cigar-related accessories to over 5,000 attendees (up 3% over 2017), was interrupted by an electrical fire on Sunday morning as a sprinkler system kicked on and impacted the booths of 14 exhibitors. There were no injuries. The trade show floor was scheduled to be open that day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. but, because of the fire, it remained closed until 1 p.m. (and stayed open two hours later). Ironically, the tagline for the event this year was “Get Fired Up.” The 2019 and 2020 IPCPR Trade Shows will take place at the Sands Expo at the Venetian in Las Vegas. The Sands Expo last hosted the event in 2016 and had been considered the de facto IPCPR home for a decade. In the past, other host cities have included New Orleans and Orlando.

2) “Japan on Wednesday approved its first national smoking ban inside public facilities, but the watered-down measure excludes many restaurants and bars and is seen as toothless,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “Japan often has been called a smokers’ paradise. Until now it has had no binding law controlling secondhand smoke… The new national law bans indoor smoking at schools, hospitals and government offices. Smoking will be allowed at existing small eateries, including those with less than 1,076 square feet of customer space, which includes more than half of Japanese establishments.” Patrick A visited Japan a decade ago and wrote about his experience here.

3) CAO this week debuted CAO Nicaragua. While the blend actually uses Honduran Jamastran wrapper and binder leaves, the filler is 100% Nicaraguan with a combination of tobaccos from the country’s three primary growing regions. The blend comes in three sizes (Robusto, Corona, and Toro) all retailing for under $7 per cigar.

4) Hoyo de Monterrey and A.J. Fernandez continue their collaboration with Hoyo La Amistad Black. The third A.J.-made Hoyo uses an Ecuadoran Sumatra Oscuro wrapper, Mexican binder, and Nicaraguan Habano filler leaves. It comes in three sizes: Rothschild (4.5 x 50, $7.29) Toro (6.5 x 52, $8.09), and a box-pressed Gigante (6 x 60, $8.49).

5) Colibri is celebrating its past and present with a 90th Anniversary Set that includes engraved “London 1928” and “New York 2018” custom artwork on both sides of the V-Cut and Rally cutters. The cutters will sell for a suggested retail of $128 for the set, or $59 for the V-Cut and $69 for the Rally.

6) From the Archives: Back in 2013, IPCPR proposed a consumer day at the Trade Show that traditionally has been exclusively for the cigar industry, not consumers. No such consumer day ever actually occurred.

7) 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 now to be eligible for the August box.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: IPCPR / General Cigar / Colibri

Commentary: Five Early Standouts from the 2018 IPCPR Trade Show

18 Jul 2018

Despite a small electrical fire that caused a little damage to some booths by setting off the sprinkler system, and a outbreak of the flu at the host hotel, the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) Trade Show is in full roar in Las Vegas. While IPCPR occasionally holds the convention, the biggest of the year for handmade cigars, in other cities, any who attended multiple trade shows can tell you the event is at its natural home when it is in Las Vegas.

Like many, we’re still digging through the many press releases and announcements of new cigars, so we reserve the right to add to this list. But here are five new cigars we’re particularly excited to check out when they hit shelves in the coming months:

Illusione OneOff

Actually announced a couple months ago, OneOff is a reboot of a cigar that was popular in early 2000s but faded away only for Illusione owner Dion Giolito to purchase the trademark last year. The eight-vitola line is made at TABSA and, while Giolito is being tight-lipped about the exact blend, given Illusione’s track-record this is a cigar I’m looking forward to.

Drew Estate Liga Privada 10-Year Anniversario

Ten years, ago Drew Estate introduced Liga Privada and completely changed the way cigar smokers thought about Drew Estate, which up until that point had been primarily a maker of infused cigars. As production and demand increased, many (myself included) felt Liga Privada, while still good, was not as exceptional as when it first arrived. Will the 10th Anniversary release of Liga Privada hearken back to the standout days when the brand first burst onto the scene? I’m looking forward to finding out.

Nestor Miranda 75th Anniversary

Nestor Miranda’s Miami Cigar Co. and Don José “Pepin” Garcia have collaborated to make some of my favorite cigars over the years. So Pepin making a Nicaraguan puro for his longtime collaborator Nestor Miranda is something I’m particularly interested in trying. The large, salomon-sized cigar features a Corojo wrapper and Nicaraguan binder and filler. Only 15,000 are scheduled to be made, and I’m looking forward to trying one.

Partagas Legend

Partagas Legend is a tribute to five legendary cigar men who contributed to the Partagas brand: Jaime Partagas, Ramon Cifuentes, Edgar Cullman Sr., Daniel Nunez, and Benji Menendez. The box-pressed cigar uses a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, Honduran binder, and Dominican Piloto Cubano filler. The Partagas brand is, in my opinion, too frequently overlooked, but I don’t plan to overlook the Partagas Legend.

Aging Room Puro Cepa

To say Rafael Nodal has been busy lately would be an understatement. In addition to his Aging Room brand, he has joined with Altadis’ Tabacalera USA. We could just as easily have picked the new Montecristo Nicaragua for this final pick, but perhaps more interesting is Aging Room’s new Nicaraguan cigar called Puro Cepa. Made with tobaccos from all four major Nicaraguan growing regions (Ometepe, Jalapa, Condega, and Estelí), it is the rare Nicaraguan puro from Aging Room which has made some very under-the-radar cigars in recent years.

Patrick S

photo credit:  IPCPR

Cigar Review: E.P. Carrillo Interlude Natural Rothschild Jr.

16 Jul 2018

I recently moved from the city to Oak Park, a close suburb of Chicago. The whole process, to say the least, has been stressful and time-consuming. Under normal circumstances, it’s hard enough to find time for a cigar when you’re working full-time and raising two small children (with a third on the way). When you add in the daunting task of unpacking about 75 million boxes… well, you can see where this is going.

I know I’m not the only one with a challenging schedule. Chances are you, too, find it difficult to set aside the requisite time to thoroughly enjoy a fine cigar.

Fortunately, if you need to pack a premium cigar experience into a short amount of time, cigar legend Ernesto Perez-Carrillo has your back. In 2016, he launched Interlude, a line of two different blends, each presented in two time-friendly formats: Carrillitos (4 x 38) and Rothschild Jr. (3.75 x 48).

The Natural version of “Ernesto’s shortest cigar ever made” sports a Connecticut wrapper (same as the New Wave Reserva) around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. The Maduro boasts a Mexican San Andrés wrapper (same as La Historia) around an Ecuadorian binder and Nicaraguan filler. Given their small size, both were challenging to blend “because the dimensions limit the amount of tobacco that can be used,” Ernesto Perez-Carrillo shared via email. “So the proportions have to be just right to get the flavor profile sought.”

I smoked a handful of cigars in the Interlude Natural Rothschild Jr. format for this review. This cigar is neatly presented in a regal, compact five-pack that retails for $16.25 (or $3.25 per cigar). Unlike the Maduro version—which has a rustic, highly mottled wrapper that’s wrinkled, veiny, and rough around the edges—the Natural has a clean, dry surface. A standard guillotine cut reveals a smooth cold draw. At the foot, I find pre-light notes of honey and graham cracker.

A cigar of this size needs to get off to a fast start. The Natural Rothschild Jr. does just that. The first few puffs are a medium-bodied burst of white pepper, dry oak, and cereals. The texture is bready. A bit of cinnamon spice helps to add balance.

Into the midway point, while the cigar settles a bit in terms of body and spice, the core flavors remain the same. Not much changes in the finale except for an increase in intensity and heat. Throughout, the combustion properties are excellent. The burn line is straight, the smoke production high, and the draw is easy. Notably, the light gray ash holds really well off the foot; on average, I only had to ash once per cigar.

As expected, the Interlude Natural Rothschild Jr. is a solid choice if you’re low on time but high on desire for a premium cigar experience. I’m not rating the Natural version quite as high as the Maduro—which, in my opinion, is more interesting from a flavor perspective—but this cigar still earns an admirable rating of three 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: Muestra de Saka Exclusivo

15 Jul 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.”

The Nacatamale from Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust’s Muestra de Saka portfolio measures 6 inches long with a ring gauge of 52. It boasts tobaccos from each of Nicaragua’s four major growing regions: Condega, Estelí, Jalapa, and Ometepe. It’s an exquisitely balanced cigar with cinnamon bread, coffee, earth, and pepper. Construction is flawless. Even though I slightly prefer the Nacatamale, the Exclusivo is is an excellent cigar.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: El Titan de Bronze Gold Lonsdale No. 1

14 Jul 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.”

A few months ago, I visited El Titan de Bronze, a factory on Calle Ocho in Miami that’s small in size but big in prestige. El Titan crafts cigars for such clients as Drew Estate, Warped Cigars, La Palina, Cornelius & Anthony, Padilla, El Primer Mundo, Cremo, and many others. Less well known are the operation’s house blends. Gold, for example, sports a Connecticut Shade wrapper around an Ecuadorian binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. As I recall, I paid about $8 for the Gold Lonsdale No. 1 (6.5 x 44). I love the size. The expertly constructed cigar boasts a medium-bodied profile of honey, cinnamon spice, oak, almond, and white pepper with a bready texture.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys