Quick Smoke: H. Upmann Legacy Toro

23 Jun 2019

A couple times each week we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

UpmannLegacyToro

My colleague reviewed this release from Altadis when it was introduced. From the one I smoked recently, I largely agree with his conclusion that the H. Upmann Legacy is “a solid smoke at a fair price.” I found the Ecuadorian Sumatra-wrapped Toro to be medium-bodied with woody, roasted, and salted notes, and a little spice. It’s not a tremendously complex cigar, but it provides pleasant enough flavors and nearly flawless construction.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Plascencia Alma del Campo Guajiro

21 Jun 2019

A couple times each week we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

As one of the industry’s leading tobacco growers and manufacturers, it seems only natural that the Plascencia family would want its name on a high-end cigar. It introduced the still-expanding Alma series a few years ago to do just that. The Alma del Campo, a Nicaraguan puro, makes a near-perfect first impression. The wrapper is vein-free, smooth, and gives off an enticing mint aroma before lighting. The Guajiro vitola (5.5 x 54) runs about $16. It begins with a thick, meaty flavor and deep, rich smoke. Some spice and nuts come fairly quickly to the fore. Other notes include pepper and a touch of cinnamon. All are nicely balanced. Construction is excellent, strength is medium, and the the finish is long. I thoroughly enjoyed the Guajiro. The cost, though, is likely to limit my future pleasure. But when you’re looking for a luxe cigar, this is one line not to ignore.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Tip: Rediscover the Cigars You Used to Smoke

19 Jun 2019

Here’s an easy suggestion for anyone who has been smoking handmade cigars for more than a few years: Revisit those that were your favorites but you don’t smoke as often anymore.

If you’re like many cigar smokers (including me), there were certain cigars you used to smoke frequently that you just don’t anymore. You probably haven’t even thought much about why they aren’t in your regular rotation anymore. They just aren’t.

There are lots of good reasons why you no longer smoke certain cigars. Maybe your tastes have evolved. Maybe the blends have changed. Maybe your cigar budget changed.

All those are true for me. But this year I decided to make an effort to smoke more of the cigars that were go-to smokes back when I really got into cigars well over a decade ago. The results are interesting.

Some were disappointing, or at least not as good as I remembered. Despite my colleague’s recent high praise, I found the Gurkha Regent underwhelming. The Rocky Patel 1992, a cigar I often cited as a favorite back in 2005, was pleasant but not as interesting as I remembered. Same for the Maria Mancini, which was the first box I purchased nearly 20 years ago.

Others have stood the test of time. Joya de Nicaragua Antano 1970 is still an excellent full-bodied smoke. The Ashton Classic remains a well-made, mild smoke, even if that profile isn’t one I turn to as often. CAO Brazilia, another go-to from long ago, is still enjoyable, even if it isn’t as full-bodied as I thought it was at the time.

In other words, the result of my exploration of the cigars I used to smoke is a mixed bag. But the exercise was thoroughly enjoyable. Some I plan to smoke more often, others I’ll probably leave alone.

Your experiences may vary, but revisiting cigars from your past is a fun, interesting exercise. Go ahead and try it out and let us know how it goes.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Southern Draw Cedrus The Hogan Belicoso Fino

18 Jun 2019

If you’re here for a cigar with a dominant flavor of cedar, let me stop you before you go any further. This cigar line from Southern Draw celebrates Cedrus Libani, the Lebanese Cedar that’s often used to make cigar boxes. As far as I can tell, it is not intended to suggest the cigar has a cedar-forward taste. That’s good because—spoiler alert—it doesn’t.

Southern Draw introduced Cedrus last summer as the Austin-based company’s fifth regular-production line. In addition to honoring a tree varietal, the single-vitola blend also commemorates Phil and Shelly Hogan, who Southern Draw founder Robert Holt cites for their valuable support of his company. (Further complicating matters—or, if you prefer, tying it all together—is the fact that there is a form of the Western Red Cedar called “Hogan.”)

Cedrus, like all Southern Draw creations, is made at Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A. in Estelí. Its recipe includes a “late harvest” Besuki wrapper from the Jember region of Java, Indonesia. “Our family was blessed to source this rarely available, top-quality wrapper, with its rich brown color, distinct ‘green chili’ spice flavors, and herbal aromas that are attributed from being expertly air-cured followed by a multi-stage fermentation process,” said Holt in a press release. The binder is a Habano 2000 leaf from Nicaragua (grown under cloth), and the filler tobaccos are also Nicaraguan.

Last week, Southern Draw announced new box-pressed vitolas to join the Belicoso Fino (5.5 x 52). They include a Robusto (5.5 x 54), Toro (6 x 52), and Gordo (6.5 x 60). For 2019, 50,000 of each have been produced. Per-cigar prices range from $11.99 to $12.99. Southern Draw’s website hints at a Lancero and a Perfecto due out in 2020.

To date, the only size I’ve had a chance to acquire and sample is the original Belicoso Fino. I smoked three for this review. The box-pressed Cedrus Belicoso Fino is adorned with dual bands of green and gold, the second of which proclaims, “Soli Deo Gloria” (Latin for “Glory to God Alone”). Beneath is a dark, smooth, moderately oily wrapper leaf with thin veins. The sharply pointed cap clips easily to reveal a cold draw with just a bit of resistance.

At the foot, the pre-light notes are mouth-watering and pungent. You won’t have to try hard to notice a musty, earthy aroma with hints of nuttiness and chocolate.

Once lit, the initial profile is dry, earthy, and spicy. Individual flavors include oak, black pepper, cinnamon, earth, and clove. Then, after about an inch, the spice recedes just as quickly as it arrived, leaving behind an earthier taste devoid of cinnamon and replacing black pepper with white pepper.

The next transition is characterized by somewhat of a return to spice—though this time it isn’t black pepper but a medley of baking spices. Still, the overall profile is medium-bodied with a slightly chalky texture. The cigar remains in this state until the finale. Throughout, the physical properties are admirable, including a straight burn. The gray ash has a tendency to fall off prematurely, however.

Robert Holt calls Cedrus Southern Draw’s “most distinguished-tasting cigar.” I will admit this is my first experience with the brand, so I cannot speak to how it compares with his other lines. That said, I like this cigar enough to commit to trying the others in short order, and I will report back as I am able. For now, the Southern Draw Cedrus The Hogan Belicoso Fino earns 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: La Flor Dominicana Suave Maceo

16 Jun 2019

A couple times each week we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

I don’t think I’ve smoked this blend from La Flor Dominicana since it was called the Premium line. (That was two names ago; it was briefly renamed “La Flor Dominicana Light” in 2012.) Long associated with fuller-bodied, ligero-heavy offerings, the truth is Litto Gomez and La Flor Dominicana started off with milder offerings, including this cigar, which features a pale golden Connecticut Shade wrapper and Dominican filler tobaccos. This robusto emphasizes balance and mildness, though it does have honey sweetness with cream, subtle cut grass, and light cedar. It’s not my preferred flavor profile, but it’s a flawlessly constructed example of a premium, mild-bodied cigar.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Drew Estate Herrera Estelí Brazilian Maduro Toro Especial

14 Jun 2019

A couple times each week 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 intense pre-light floral aroma from this cigar’s Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper is a quick tipoff that it isn’t a typical maduro. And that plays out from beginning to end. There’s not a lot of the usual coffee, chocolate, or cocoa frequently associated with other maduros. The Brazilian Maduro Toro (6 x 52, $9.68) opens with a shot of pepper that yields to notes of light spice, some sweetness, and leather in a smooth, well-balanced blend. Strength is firmly in the medium range. It burns slowly, produces lots of smoke, and has an excellent draw. With a Connecticut Broadleaf binder and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos, you might expect more complexity, but I found it to be a fairly straightforward smoke. That’s not a criticism; I thoroughly enjoyed what it presented. This addition to Drew Estate’s Herrera Estelí line was introduced last year. It comes in five sizes, all in boxes of 25. I suggest you pick one up.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Diesel Whiskey Row Sherry Cask Robusto

12 Jun 2019

 

Last year Diesel debuted Whiskey Row, an A.J. Fernandez-made cigar featuring tobaccos aged in bourbon barrels from the Rabbit Hole Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky. This month the follow-up collaboration arrived: Diesel Whiskey Row Sherry Cask.

Like the original, the binder has been aged in Rabbit Hole’s barrels. But this time the casks has been used to age Pedro Ximenez Sherry before being filled with bourbon for a brief finishing period to make Rabbit Hole PX Sherry Cask Finished Straight Bourbon Whiskey. (Look for an upcoming Cigar Spirits article on this bourbon.) Unlike the Mexican San Andrés binder used in last year’s Whiskey Row, this cigar uses an Arapiraca barrel-aged binder from Central Brazil’s Alagoas region.

Like the original Diesel Whiskey Row, the filler is all Nicaraguan. (No word on whether it uses the same three-region combination.) The most visible change from last year’s line is a dark, oily Connecticut Broadleaf maduro wrapper.

Diesel Whiskey Row Sherry Cask comes in three sizes priced from $8.49 to $9.49: the Robusto (5 x 52) I smoked, plus a Toro (6 x 50) and a Gigante (6 x 58). Construction on the three pre-release samples I smoked was outstanding with an even burn, sturdy ash, and flawless draw that had just the right amount of resistance.

Pre-light you can pick up the hints of the barrel-aged tobacco with deep char notes with caramel and dried fruit. Once lit, the charred notes remain and combine with classic earthy Nicaraguan flavors, light pepper, and lots of chocolate and espresso.

As the cigar progresses, there isn’t a whole lot of variation, though some dried fruit notes come and go. The cigar has a finish that lingers on the roof of the mouth, and has a notably cool smoke that seems to temper those full flavors just slightly.

It’s impressive to think how far the Diesel brand has come along: from a catalog house brand (albeit a notably well-reviewed one) to a full line of cigars now with multiple blends in regular distribution. (Read the original Diesel Whiskey Row review for more on that history.) Without a doubt, handing the reins to the prolific and talented A.J. Fernandez is a large factor in that success.

There’s little reason to believe Diesel Whiskey Row Sherry Cask won’t be another success for the blend. Priced fairly, well-constructed, and with deep, rich flavors the Diesel Whiskey Row Sherry Cask Robusto earns an impressive rating of four and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys