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Thurman Thomas Hall of Fame

23 Feb

Synopsis:
Maker: General Cigar
Filler: Dominican
Binder: Dominican
Wrapper: Dominican Natural and Maduro
Flavors: Natural: Vanilla, wood, nuts, leather, herbs. Maduro: Dark Chocolate, tangy-sweet, wood, earth, black pepper, herbs.
Draw/Volume/Strength:
  Natural: +1 / +2 / 3, Maduro: 0 / +2 / 3
Rating: Natural: 9.2, Maduro: 9.2

They say the most important element in comedy is timing. I endeavor to apply a certain topical relevance to my reviews, and bring them to you when the timing is most appropriate. Unfortunately this isn’t always possible.

I’ll admit, I did receive these cigars in adequate time to bring them to you in a topical and timely manner, but as regular readers will note, I’ve been on a little forced hiatus lately. Faced with the decision to wait until a more suitable time or to bring them to you now, I opted for the latter: these cigars just won’t wait.

Thurman Thomas Hall of Fame

Thurman Thomas Hall of Fame Natural and Maduro Cigars (6x52)

Yes, I’ve been absent for some months, and to my (one or two) faithful readers who wait with rapt anticipation for each post, I sincerely apologize. As I said, it was somewhat out of my control. No, I wasn’t in prison, nor can I look to any one cause which delayed me. I was just really busy. Regular readers know that this isn’t my day job (oh, if only!), and occasionally, other priorities take precedence over my ability to sit for hours at a time smoking cigars and writing prose.

The cost in this case is that a review which would have ideally come to you in the week leading up to the Super Bowl, comes to you now. It is, after all, football related. But more important than the tie-in, is that these are great cigars, I don’t want you to you have to wait until next football season to try them!

NFL Hall of Famer, 5-time Pro Bowl running back, and consummate cigar lover Thurman Thomas has teamed up with our friends at StogieBoys.com to bring us Thurman Thomas Hall of Fame cigars, handcrafted in the Dominican Republic by the fine folks at General Cigar (Excalibur, Macanudo, La Gloria Cubana, Partagas, CAO, Sancho Panza, and dozens of others).

These exclusive Dominican puros are available in two wrapper shades, a golden Natural and alluring Maduro, each with its own distinct character, but with many similarities between the two. The cigars are available in a hearty Toro size (6×52), in your choice of singles, five-packs, boxes, bundles, and gift packs.

Natural:
The flavors up front are a profound natural vanilla taste over a woody background, with a velvety roundness. The cigar is firmly rolled and solid, but the draw is open (+1) from a cap cut, delivering a large smoke volume (+2) of moderate strength (3).

The first half also shows a hearty complex of nuts and leather. Don’t let the pale dusky wrapper mislead you; this is a remarkably flavorful cigar, though it remains buttery-smooth throughout. The burn is straight or self-correcting, and the pale gray ash is firm and nicely scaled, holding to well over an inch, with double cones.

This flavor pattern continues through to the final moves, when it develops a slightly malted character, with an herbal, hoppy quality augmenting the intense flavor vanilla present early on. The finish is smooth and buttery, with some herbal notes, and a rich but agreeable fresh tobacco close. It smokes to an inch and a half nub in about 65 minutes.

I rate this cigar 9.2; it’s a beautifully made cigar with a smooth, approachable texture and a deceptively complex palate. It’s rich enough to satisfy the most sophisticated tastes, but its moderate body and easy-smoking qualities make it an excellent choice for new smokers as well.

Maduro:
The initial flavors in this cigar replace the Natural’s vanilla notes with a tangy, semi-sweet complex of spice and dark chocolate. The woody, nutty background carries through, but the added piquancy from the Maduro wrapper gives the cigar an earthy quality and added richness. The cigar is dense and firmly packed, and the draw from a cap cut is even (0), delivering a large smoke volume (+2) of moderate strength (3).

The second half evolves to show a similar herbal character present in the final moves of the natural, but, when coupled with the rich Maduro tastes, produces a robust mix of black pepper and subtle anise flavors. The burn is self-correcting, and the salt-and-pepper ash is firm well-formed, easily holding to an inch or more, with pronounced double cones.

The final third produces a rich, roasted, woody flavor, while retaining a hearty measure of the tangy maduro flavors that define this complex cigar. It smokes to an inch and a half nub in about 70 minutes.

I rate this cigar 9.2, equally as well made and delicious as the Natural, but with an enticing depth and robust complexity all its own. The texture is delightfully smooth, but the diverse flavors and the interplay between sweetness and spice make this quite an eventful smoke, highly appealing to an experienced palate, but mellow enough for an adventurous beginner.

Until next time, this is the Cigar Sasquatch saying, “Love what you smoke, and smoke what you love.”

Thurman Thomas Hall of Fame
 

Sublimes Cigars

01 Dec

Synopsis:
Maker: Sublimes Cigars
Filler: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Rosado
Flavors: Coffee, cocoa, cream, wood, leather, spices
Draw/Volume/Strength:
  0 / +2 / 4
Rating: 9.4

The raw consumerism of the Modern Christmas leaves a lot of people wanting. I’m not one to camp out at store fronts to get a good deal, and I don’t leave my family and friends on Thanksgiving night to queue up for Black Friday shopping. I don’t mean to denigrate those who do; for some people, it has become something of a holiday tradition in itself, but they probably wouldn’t let me in at Best Buy with my cigar anyway, and the kinds of gifts that I enjoy giving aren’t sold at Walmart.

Sublimes Cigars

Sublimes Cigars

I prefer to shop local. I’ve mentioned this before. As a small business owner, my clients are the ones who choose quality and service over, well, marketing (I was going to mention price and convenience, but my prices are highly competitive with the national chains, and for my clients, buying from the big brands would be a greater inconvenience than buying from me).

Then there are cigars.

Casual cigar smokers know the big names, which I won’t mention here. And I’ll admit, there’s a reason many of them are big, though much of that comes back to marketing. More serious cigar lovers tend to dig a little deeper, and favor family-owned brands, many of which are also quite big, and also make excellent cigars. I’ve reviewed a great many of those brands here.

But it’s a rare privilege— a joy in fact— when I can present a true boutique house, one that is family-owned, focused on quality above all else, and (I’m thrilled to add) made in America. I present to you Sublimes Cigars.

Sublimes Cigars

Sublimes Cigars Double Robusto (5¾x54)

In years past, the epicenter of cigar manufacture was Florida. In fact, even today, most of the big houses have their offices in Tampa or Miami, while off-shoring production to Central America and the DR. The reason for this is simple: marketing (again). They can get cheaper labor in those countries, without (to a certain extent) sacrificing quality. “But wait,” you say, “what does cheap labor have to do with marketing?” That, friend reader, is the question of the day. The answer is simple: Price. And if you doubt that “Price” has anything to do with “Marketing,” I encourage you to read up on the “Four P’s.”

Now I don’t want to take anything away from the hard working men and women making fine cigars in other parts of the world, but as I said, I take joy from knowing that there are still some companies that value American craftsmanship, both for what it is, and for what it means to our country. I’m glad to know that there are great American products, and great Americans who make them. And I’m glad to patronize them too, and encourage you to do the same.

Sublimes Cigars are hand-made in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami. They feature all Cuban-seed tobaccos, including Nicaraguan-grown Habano longfillers and binder, and a gorgeous, tawny-hued Cuban-seed Ecuadorian Habano Rosado wrapper. They are available in 5 chunky sizes; I’ve smoked the Double Robusto (5¾x54). The cigars are presented in handsome mahogany chests of 30, though the 10-count I received courtesy of brand owner Thomas Jaromirski makes a handsome gift.

Sublimes Cigars

Sublimes Cigars

The first impressions of flavor are an explosion of rich, creamy coffee and cocoa tastes, over a velvety background of wood and leather. The cigars are rock-solid and densely packed with tobacco, and finished in a veinless, seamless roll. The draw from a cap cut is dead-even (0) despite the remarkable density of the cigar, delivering a hearty smoke volume (+2) of above average strength (4).

The first inch also shows a buttery almond aspect, and hints of nutmeg and cinnamon that play towards spice, but rather favor subtlety and smoothness. As the flavors develop, this creamy aspect stands up, and evolves into a crème brulee character, though utterly absent of sweetness. The burn is ring straight, and the pure white ash is solid and finely scaled, holding fast at an inch and a half, with perfect double cones.

In the second half, the coffee flavors have moved to the back, giving the reins to the wood and leather facets, which have grown in depth and richness, developing a roundness in body, while retaining the rich, buttery cream aspect. It smokes cool and slow, with a mellow finish and an inch and a quarter nub at 75 minutes, delivering puff after puff of silky-smooth flavor, despite the better than average fortaleza.

I’m happy to rate this cigar 9.4, one of the best cigars I’ve enjoyed all year. It’s a delight with rich Cognac or your finest Single Malt Scotch. The flavors are voluminous, alluring and expressive, never overly intense, but remarkably pronounced, perpetually smooth, and finely balanced with body and texture.

This holiday season, I encourage you to shop local, buy American, and by all means, try these cigars. And when it comes to gift giving, venture away from the every-day smokes and ordinary gifts. This year, be extraordinary. Give them the gift of pleasure beyond the expected, surprise them with quality and value, and achieve for yourself the satisfaction that only comes from giving the joy of a new and delightful experience.

Until next time, this is the Cigar Sasquatch saying, “Love what you smoke, and smoke what you love.”

Sublimes Cigars
 
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Posted in Dark Natural

 

Nat Sherman Gotham

18 Nov

Synopsis:
Maker: Altadis
Filler: Dominican
Binder: Dominican
Wrapper: Westside: Brazilian Mata Fina Maduro; Eastside: U.S. Connecticut Shade
Flavors: Westside: Cocoa, coffee beans, fresh tobacco; Eastside: Cedar, nuts, fresh tobacco
Draw/Volume/Strength:
Westside: -1 / 0 / 4; Eastside: 1 / 0 / 4
Rating: Westside: 9.2; Eastside: 9.3

The Cigar Sasquatch never visits a city without hitting the local cigar shops. And I travel a lot. It’s one of the benefits of being self-employed, that you can decide for yourself what the best time is to go on vacation. I’ll admit, it’s one of the few benefits, but a benefit it is, so I try to take full advantage of it. And fortunately, Mrs. Sasquatch’s schedule is such that we have a relatively full travel schedule. So I see a lot of cigar shops.

Nat Sherman Gotham

Nat Sherman Gotham #1400 (6¼x44) Westside (Maduro) and Eastside (Natural)

One of the finest in the world is the world-famous Nat Sherman Townhouse in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. There is no denying it, New York is the Capitol City of the world. It’s the very definition of a big city, and its reality is larger than all the movies and TV shows and pictures and post cards and even the stories and legends could ever depict. A dedicated visitor could spend a lifetime of vacations in New York and never see the same scene twice. In fact, I’ve been to New York on five separate occasions, and I’m still crossing items off my short-list of must-sees!

Nat Sherman Cigars have been a fixture of New York City’s cigar history since 1930, and the Townhouse is the epicenter. The venerable location is a fitting tribute to the legendary brand—even the address is legendary, on 42nd St. between Madison Ave. and 5th, adjacent to the stunning New York Public Library Main Building.

Nat Sherman Gotham

The Pipe Wall and Main Lobby

The exterior façade is anchored by a massive clock, flanked by two larger-than-life Cigar Store Indians, beckoning New Yorkers and visitors alike to stop by. Inside is a soaring cathedral to all things smoking, the first icons of which are found on the wall of pipes. The impressive collection of hand-crafted briars includes brands like Savinelli, Peterson, and others, plus a handsome selection of free-hands and meerschaums. From there you’ll notice a dozen or more massive jars of delicious-smelling pipe tobacco, along with a beautiful antique tobacco scale, still in working order and used daily. Across the shop is a selection of accessories, including humidors, cutters, lighters, and other smoking items, and above all is the wrap-around mezzanine and balcony spilling out from the members-only lounge upstairs.

But the ultimate destination for the Cigar Sasquatch is the humidor.

Nat Sherman Gotham

The Humidor

If they only stocked the full range of Nat Sherman cigars, a smoker could fill countless hours enjoying the contents of the massive walk-in, and almost never repeat a smoke. But the huge selection also covers cigars form Alec Bradley to Zino, and nearly everything in between. And don’t be intimidated by the choices you’ll face; every one of their associates is a certified retail tobacconist, ready to help, and very well informed about the brands and blends in stock.

After some 30 minutes of browsing the shelves, patiently assisted by tobacconist Juan, and with comic commentary provided by Mrs. Sasquatch, I left with a choice selection of Nat Sherman cigars, many of which aren’t available anywhere else, along with a few pouches of pipe tobaccos to enjoy. And among the stand-out cigars from my visit are the Gotham line, hand-made in the DR by Altadis.

The Gotham line is available in range of sizes and two wrappers, named Westside and Eastside. They’re identical in blend, with Dominican fillers and binders; the Westside is finished in a chestnut-hued Brazilian Mata Fina Maduro, while the Eastside is wrapped in a beautiful blonde Connecticut Shade leaf. I selected the “#1400” (6¼x44) in both shades.

Gotham Westside:
The cigar is firm and densely packed, perfectly round and seamless, without a vein in sight. The first impressions are a tangy-sweet maduro flavor, with a balancing richness of cocoa and coffee beans. In the first inch, the tangy maduro is still present, but gives command to the rich coffee and cocoa flavors, which have accelerated into the forefront. The draw from a cap cut is slightly firm (-1), not unbefittingly so for a rock-solid Lonsdale, opening up as it goes, producing a moderate smoke volume (0) of above average strength (4).

The second half opens up with a rich, nutty, woody complex, with a hint of spice, and plenty of aged tobacco flavors. This pattern persists to the finish, growing richer and darker in flavor and body, but resisting the bitter plunge until the utmost end. The salt-and-pepper ash is firm and nicely scaled, holding to about an inch with well-formed cones which flatten slightly towards the finish. It smokes cool and slow to an inch and a half nub in about 70 minutes.

This is certainly a hearty cigar. Its diminutive size belies a depth and complexity, delivering flavor beyond its measure. It’s the reason to smoke compact cigars. I’m pleased to rate it 9.2. It’s a delightful shape, perfectly constructed, and it delivers a remarkably robust palate, delicious start to finish.

Gotham Eastside:
The cigar is solid as a rock and veinless, with a buttery smooth, seamless roll. The flavors up front include a sharp cedar taste, with plenty of nuts and fresh tobacco. The draw from a cap cut is light despite the density of the cigar (+1), delivering a moderate smoke volume (0) of above average strength (4).

The first half also shows an interesting balance between the rich, spicy filler blend, in contrast to the smooth, creamy Connecticut Shade wrapper, creating a compelling and complex palate oscillating between leather, tobacco, and buttercream.

In the second half, it develops a toasted character, maintaining the fresh tobacco flavors, and picking up an earthy, peaty quality. But despite the darkening palate, it retains the creamy, smooth background from the handsome Connecticut Shade wrapper. The burn is ring straight for the duration, and the light gray ash is finely scaled, holding to about an inch with perfect double cones, flattening as it goes.

Then in the final act, a hint of caramelized meats comes through on the finish. It smokes to an inch and a half nub in a surprising 75+ minutes, a remarkable duration for a cigar of these dimensions. I easily rate it 9.3, an exquisitely constructed cigar with a diverse palate, balancing the hearty, robust flavors of the Dominican filler blend against subtle, highly-nuanced Connecticut Shade wrapper.

The next time you’re in New York, be sure to stop by the Nat Sherman Townhouse to experience a higher grade of service and luxury, and en excellent smoking experience as well. Not planning to visit New York any time, soon? Maybe you should. You may be surprised how, even in the Big Apple, a great smoke and a great setting can make anyone feel like a big-shot.

Until next time, this is the Cigar Sasquatch saying, “Love what you smoke, and smoke what you love.”

Nat Sherman Gotham
 
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Posted in Lonsdales

 

The Sasquatch-a-Dor

10 Nov

For a couple of years now, I’ve been getting requests for photos of the legendary Sasquatch-a-Dor. Well, here they are.

The Sasquatch a Dor

The Sasquatch-a-Dor

The Sasquatch-a-Dor is modeled after a Spanish War-era soldier’s foot locker, complete with brass handles and fittings.

 

The Sasquatch a Dor

The wood is African teak with beautiful action in the grain.

 

The Sasquatch a Dor

The dovetail joints give it a rustic, mature quality.

 

The Sasquatch a Dor

Inside are 4 Spanish cedar pullout trays capable of holding cigars up to 10 inches long (yes, I said 10 inches).

 

The Sasquatch a Dor

The trays are exquisitely crafted. Each one can accommodate as many as 42 cigars of up to 56 ring-gauge (14 across, stacked 3 high). Below the trays is a 6-inch deep full-width void for storing boxes and bulk quantities.

 

The Sasquatch a Dor

The scale is nearly as impressive as the construction. It can comfortably hold 500 cigars, though it’s total capacity may be closer to 700.

 

The Sasquatch a DorThe inner lining of Spanish cedar is ⅜-inch thick, and the teak exterior is ¾-inch thick. There are no veneers. The lining is raised a quarter-inch at the opening to form a seal that keeps moisture in and climate changes out. As a result, it maintains a steady 68% RH with only 2 small rectangular humidifiers, one in an upper level tray, and one in the open bottom.

I generally keep it well stocked, and monitor the conditions twice a week. At any given time, there are 300-400 cigars inside, many as much as 4 or 5 years old, and a few much older.

The Sasquatch-a-Dor is a true work of art in the natural medium of wood. It is a one-of-a-kind creation, hand made by a master craftsman named Rick Pohlers, and I feel privileged to possess it.

So there you have it: The Sasquatch-a-Dor. I’ll admit, I could never afford to purchase such an exquisite piece of art on a Sasquatch’s salary. The trade arrangement was one that I’ll be paying off for years to come… gladly, I might add.

Until next time, this is the Cigar Sasquatch saying, “Love what you smoke, and smoke what you love.”

The Sasquatch a Dor
 
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Posted in Special Edition

 

Obsidian Belicoso

31 Oct

Synopsis:
Blender: Flores y Rodriguez
Maker: PDR Cigars
Filler: Nicaraguan/ Dominican
Binder: Dominican
Wrapper: Brazilian Habano Ligero
Flavors: Dark chocolate, cappuccino, earth, peppers
Draw/Volume/Strength:
0 / +2 / 4
Rating: 8.9

This review of the Obsidian Belicoso is presented courtesy of Stogie Boys, America’s fastest growing online cigar retailer.

It’s Halloween time, and for the Cigar Sasquatch, it’s one of the best times of the year. I love this season. Halloween (or for adults, the Weekend before Halloween) is the one time of the year when we can forget who we are and be who we want, whether it’s a pirate, Indian, Viking, soldier, or for the ladies, sexy kitten, sexy nurse, sexy she-devil, sexy angel (you get the picture).

Obsidian Belicoso

Obsidian Belicoso (6½x52)

But more than that, Halloween is a time to remember childhood, a season to recall happy days when you and your friends and siblings could wander around the neighborhood and get free candy from your neighbors. It was a time of carving pumpkins and planning costumes with your friends and family, putting them together with your mom or dad, brothers or sisters, wearing funny clothes, eating yourself sick with candy, having as much fun as possible, and generally just being kids. And today, Halloween is a time full of nostalgia, of looking back, and longing for those carefree days of childhood.

Not everyone loves Halloween. Some say it’s born of evil influence and pagan ritual, or desensitizes kids to the influences of the occult. Others say it’s just not safe, citing car vs. pedestrian accidents and urban myths of poisoned candy. And some like my mom just hate seeing people in masks. To them I say take heart! What we know as Halloween indeed has roots in pagan traditions and harvest festivals from the British Isles, but it was St. Patrick (yes, THAT St. Patrick) who tradition holds first pioneered the sanctification of pagan rituals and sacred sites, melding them with his Christian faith as a means of converting the pagans, such that to this day, Halloween has close ties to the Catholic celebrations of All Saints’ Day.

Here are a few other Halloween facts for you:

  • Trick-or-Treating has existed is one form or another since at least 1895 in Scotland, where it’s called “Guising.”
  • Early Halloween traditions involved the carving lantern faces in hollowed-out turnips.
  • The carving of pumpkin lanterns is wholly of American origin, and predates the emergence of Halloween as a popular holiday; they were originally carved for traditional harvest festivals that occurred in the Fall.
  • The urban myths of poison, drugs, needles, or razor blades hidden in apples and candy date to the early 1960s, though to date there are no verifiable records of anyone being harmed by the random distribution of tainted candy.
  • There is one instance of a child being killed by poisoned candy, though it was by no means random. The killer was the boy’s father who was inspired by the myths, and perpetrated the act in an attempt to recover a life insurance claim. The man was executed.

 

As we get older, Halloween takes on new meaning, and for many BOTLs, it’s a perfect excuse to relax with good friends and a great cigar. One fine choice this season is Obsidian from Flores y Rodriguez, the makers of Pinar del Rio Cigars.

The complex multi-nation blend comes masked in a spooky two-tone black sheath that covers nearly two thirds of the cigar. It’s almost a shame, because the wrapper is a beautiful Brazilian Habano Ligero leaf. The sheath slides off easily to reveal a veinless leaf of a rich cocoa color. The balance of the blend includes Cuban-seed Nicaraguan and Dominican longfillers, and a Dominican Criollo 98 binder. I sampled the Belicoso (6½x52), a large torpedo with a beautiful oily sheen. The cigar is tightly rolled and firm, with a bouquet that smacks of fresh tobacco, with a rich cocoa scent to match the cocoa-hued wrapper.

The first impressions are intense dark chocolate, and rich, dark, roasted cappuccino flavors. The first inch also shows plenty of fresh tobacco and a round, nutty quality. It’s not at all spicy, but there is a complex, heavy, earthy background texture that delivers interesting depth. This is a robust cigar.

The draw from a ¼-inch cut of the torpedo tip is dead even (0), producing a hearty smoke volume (+2) of above-average strength (4). Regrettably, I had burn trouble from the very beginning on one of the three that I sampled. It attempted to canoe from the get-go, and a persistent effort was required to keep it on track throughout the first third of the smoke. Despite those difficulties, the ash is one of the whitest I’ve ever seen, and held up to well over an inch, even under heavy bombardment from my BernzOmatic torch.

Thankfully the burn sorted itself out in the second third, and settled down into a reasonable, self-correcting pace, continuing so through the end. The second half shows flavors of roasted peppers, though the roasted coffee and dark chocolate flavors remain quite stable. It smokes cool and slow to an inch and a half nub in about 80 minutes.

Despite the burn difficulties early on for one of the three, this is a delicious cigar, amply robust, but with nuance and subtlety in turn. Its combination of earthy textures and bold flavors makes it an appealing pair to a smoky single malt Scotch, or great over an evening cappuccino. I rate it 8.9.

Until next time, this is the Cigar Sasquatch saying, “Love what you smoke, and smoke what you love.”

Obsidian Belicoso
 
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Posted in Figurados

 

Arsen Pink for Men

11 Oct

Synopsis:
Maker: Arsen Cigars, Santiago
Filler: Dominican
Binder: Dominican
Wrapper: Cuban-Seed Dominican Habano
Flavors: Spices, wood, herbs, anise, fresh tobacco
Draw/Volume/Strength:
0-+2 / +1-+2 / 3
Rating: 9.0-9.3

Editor’s Note: October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. To highlight this important cause, Arsen Cigars is donating 10% of October sales of Arsen Pink for Men to Breast Cancer Foundations.

The Cigar Sasquatch cannot pull off wearing pink. Some men can, but it just doesn’t work for me. It’s not an issue with masculinity, it has nothing to do with any insecurities, and there’s no other meaning that can or should be attached to that statement. I just don’t wear pink.

That being said, there are a great many things which are pink in color that I’m quite fond of. Strawberry yogurt, for example. And I’ll fight anyone who says that pink is not the best flavor of Starburst (yes, when it comes to Starburst, pink is a flavor). And of course, who doesn’t love pigs? The work they’re doing with bacon is second-to-none!

Arsen Pink for Men

Arsen Pink for Men Vertical Selection

It is only in the last 90 years or so that the color pink has acquired its current association with femininity, and even so, it’s mostly a feature of Western culture (and, to some extent, certain Eastern cultures which have been heavily influenced by fashion and styles of the West). There is nothing inherently “feminine” about the color pink (or any color, for that matter), nor is there anything particularly masculine about the color blue. But of course that hasn’t prevented our culture from making those assignments, anyway.

Arsen Cigars has attempted to buck this trend with its recently-released Arsen Pink for Men line of cigars. No mere novelty, this is a serious cigar, a hand-made long-filler premium rolled in Santiago, DR. It’s not a cigar marketed specifically towards women (it’s even says “for men” in the brand name), and it’s certainly not one of those cheap (or even expensive) “It’s a Girl!” cigars.

I was privileged recently to enjoy a vertical brand tasting of Arsen Pink for Men, courtesy of the brand owner. The line features a diverse blend of all Dominican tobaccos, finished in a beautiful shade-grown Cuban-seed Habano leaf. For the record, the brand is available in 4 vitolas, though this review only covers the Robusto, Toro, and Belicoso (omitting the Petite Corona), and as such is not technically a true vertical tasting… but let’s not split hairs.

Robusto (5×52):
The cigar is tightly rolled, firm and weighty. The first impressions of flavor offer a smooth woody texture over a rich, voluptuous floral base. There’s a unique spice (not piquancy, but spice) akin to nutmeg or clove, which evolves into an enticing anise flavor in the first half.

The draw is even (0) from a cap cut, producing a hearty smoke volume (+2) of moderate strength (3). The second movement shows a tangy peppercorn aspect adding interest and depth, while remaining quite smooth despite the complexity of flavors. The salt and pepper ash is firm and nicely scaled, reluctantly giving way well beyond an inch. The cigar smokes cool and slow, finishing at an inch and a half nub in about an hour.

I rate the Robusto 9.0. It shows a true boutique pedigree, delivering complex and interesting flavors with subtlety and smoothness in fine balance.

Toro (6×58):
This beefy cigar is seamlessly rolled, veinless, and solid. The initial flavors are complex and highly evolved, with aspects of cedar, spice, and herbs. The draw from a cap cut is open (+2) producing an excellent smoke volume (+2) of moderate strength (3).

The first inch also shows a floral aspect similar to the Robusto, but with added roundness and depth. The burn is straight, and the light gray ash is firm and nicely scaled, holding to just over an inch, with well-developed cones which flatten as it goes. It smokes to a 2-inch nub in about 80 minutes, developing in richness and complexity towards the finish, when it picks up a roasted oaky quality.

I rate the Toro 9.1. The added depth and roundness make this a somewhat more eventful cigar than the Robusto, and will have a strong appeal based on the beefy ring-gauge and complex flavors.

Belicoso (6×54):
The cigar is tightly rolled, and firm, with light veining, and a very handsome leaf. Its opening flavors show a light cinnamon spice, and layers of other spices much like the Robusto, though with a roundness and depth akin to the Toro. A ¼-inch cut of the torpedo tip delivers a dead-even draw (0), producing an ample smoke volume (+1) of moderate strength (3).

The first half develops considerably in complexity and depth, picking up subtle nuances of flowers and herbs, over a distinct, Dominican-style background of fresh tobacco leaves and light wood. The burn is mostly straight, wandering slightly just before the finish, and the light gray ash is firm and nicely scaled, holding to about an inch, with well-formed cones which flatten towards the end. The cigar smokes to an inch and a half nub in about 75 minutes, finishing with layers of cocoa and anise, and remaining quite smooth and altogether enjoyable for the duration.

The Belicoso is the crowning jewel in the Arsen Pink for Men line. It is a delightful cigar with excellent burn characteristics and a remarkable palate of flavors. I’m pleased to rate it 9.3, an excellent pair with the finest Cognac or single malt Scotch.

I offer my thanks and congratulations to Arsen Cigars for this excellent new line, and I look forward to many more interesting smokes from this up-and-coming cigar maker.

Until next time, this is the Cigar Sasquatch saying, “Love what you smoke, and smoke what you love.”

Arsen Pink for Men
 
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Posted in Vertical Tastings

 

Casa Magna Colorado

12 Sep

Synopsis:
Blender: Manuel Quesada
Maker: MATASA via Plasencia/ Segovia Cigar factory
Filler: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Flavors: Coffee, fresh tobacco, mild spice, subtly sweet
Draw/Volume/Strength:
-1 / +1 / 4
Rating: 9.2

This review of the Casa Magna Colorado Churchill is presented courtesy of the Stogie Boys, the fastest growing online cigar retailer in America.

What makes a cigar great? Is it the leaves themselves, their growing, curing, fermenting, and aging? Is it the construction of the cigar? Is it the hands of the buncher who puts the leaves of the filler together, and rolls them up in the binder, the torceador who puts on the finishing touches, the wrapper and cap? Or is it the blend itself, the work of the master who selects the leaves, assembles them in concept first, then in actuality later, along with countless other blends which don’t make the cut, choosing the one blend, the diamond in the rough, to go into production?

Or is it something more transient? Is it flavor and aroma? Is it its pairing potential, how well it compliments a fine brandy or Scotch? Are there other factors that drive greatness? What’s in a name, and how about the price you paid? Does the band say something about the smoker, as well as the cigar?

Casa Magna Colorado

Casa Magna Colorado Churchill (6⅞x49)

So what exactly is it that makes a cigar great? The answer of course is all of these things. But it’s none of them, as well.

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Casa Magna Colorado
 

San Lotano Oval

28 Aug

Synopsis:
Blender: AJ Fernandez
Maker: Tabacalera Fernandez
Filler: Nicaraguan/ Honduran
Binder: Nicaraguan
Wrapper: Ukn Habano 2000
Flavors:  Aged tobacco, wood, mild spice → oak, leather, anise
Draw/Volume/Strength: +3 / +3 / 4
Rating: 9.2

You think you’ve seen everything, and then… POW! Something new comes along to rewrite the rules. Such is the role of renegades and revolutionaries, challenging the status-quo, upsetting the system of power, and exerting a rebellious influence on everything they touch.

The San Lotano Oval is just one of those cigars.

San Lotano Oval

San Lotano Oval Gordo (6½x60)

At this point, I shouldn’t have to tell you who AJ Fernandez is. If you don’t recognize his name, start here. He created quite a stir recently with his “Best stick of the day” ad, which offended some of the more, how should I say, “repressed” readers of a certain bi-monthly men’s lifestyle magazine. He also created a stir by rewriting what a cigar should look like, taste like, and cost.

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San Lotano Oval
 
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Posted in Magnums

 

Drew Estate Natural Root

10 May

Synopsis:
Blender: Jonathan Drew
Maker: Drew Estate
Filler: Unk
Binder: Ukn
Wrapper: Ukn Maduro
Flavors:  Earthy, cocoa, herbs, coffee, subtle sweet maduro.
Draw/Volume/Strength: -1 / 0 / 3
Rating: 9.0

The Natural line from Drew Estate is an interesting concept, and possibly even more intriguing if you understand its place in the Drew Estate catalog. I selected the Root (5×55), one of 11 cigars in the line, each vitola being a blend unto itself (with the exception of the Root and Root Delux, which are presumably the same blend, as are the Jucy Lucy and Big Jucy[sic], and the Dirt and Dirt Torpedo).

Drew Estate Natural Root

Natural Root (5x55)

If this concept sounds familiar, you may be more right than you know. The Unico Serie (which includes one of my favorite cigars from last year, the Dirty Rat) is set up the same way, with each new incarnation being a unique vitola and blend. It may be going too far to say that the Natural line is the forerunner to the Unico Serie, but I will suggest that they are both born of a similar notion.

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Drew Estate Natural Root
 
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Posted in Maduro, Robustos

 

Padrón Anniversary Series 1964

13 Apr

Synopsis:
Blender: Jorge Padrón
Maker: Padrón Cigars
Filler: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Maduro
Flavors:  Woody, pepper, cocoa, sweet, tangy, earthy, nutty, herbal
Draw/Volume/Strength: -1 / 0 / 4
Rating: 9.5

I’ve been waiting for this moment for the past two years.

Today I’m pleased to present to you the Padrón Anniversary Series 1964. And I’m also please to inform you that today is the 2nd Anniversary of the Cigar Sasquatch. As I noted last year, the Cigar Sasquatch existed as such before this date two years ago, but since no one outside of a small group of my friends had heard the words “Cigar” and Sasquatch” used together before that date, and April 13th being the publication date of our very first review, that is our anniversary date.

Padrón Anniversary Series 1964

Padrón Aniversary 1964 Monarca (6½x46)

I’ve smoked literally hundreds of cigars in those 2 years, and reviewed a total of 69 of them; many of the balance will never make it to review, although a thorough scan of the Sasquatch-a-Dor shows that I could easily double my catalog of reviews without acquiring even one additional cigar. Whether this would take another two years will remain a mystery, but there is one thing I know for certain: This is just the beginning.

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Padrón Anniversary Series 1964
 

Sign the White House Petition

11 Apr

**ACTION ALERT**

Urgent action is required by all cigar enthusiasts to help prevent FDA regulation of cigars!

Click here to sign the White House petition to call on President Obama to contact the FDA in support of protecting premium cigars from FDA regulation.

Once you click on the link, you will need to create an account (required by the White House), including opening a verification email. Follow the link in the email, and click “SIGN THE PETITION.”

The whole process takes less than a minute. A minute, to protect your cigars, to protect American small business, to protect YOUR RIGHTS!

25,000 signatures must be received by May 11 in order for the petition to be brought before the President.

Do it now.

Sign the White House Petition
 
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Posted in Legislative Issues

 

Vote “NO” on California Proposition 29!

20 Mar

California tobacco taxes are some of the worst in the nation. It seems every cigar lover I ever speak to already knows that. And now, a ballot proposition comes before the voters on June 5th which would raise state taxes on cigars and pipe tobacco by 73% (you read that right… 73%)!

Enough is enough! This proposition will drive jobs from California, strapping hundreds of small businesses already struggling with one of the nation’s weightiest tax burdens, while doing absolutely nothing to to resolve the state’s $200 billion (that BILLION, with a “B”) budget problem.

This is a voter proposition, so it’s no good calling, writing, and emailing your state representatives. To do your part to prevent this taxation nightmare, first register to vote (the deadline is May 21st, but don’t wait), and Vote “NO” on Proposition 29 on June 5th. Finally, share this information with everyone you know, and encourage them to do the same.

For more information, visit www.defeatprop29.com, and spread the word: NO on 29!

Vote NO on California Proposition 29!
 
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Posted in Legislative Issues

 

Illusione 888 Claro

17 Mar

Synopsis:
Blender: Don Gioliti/ Arsenio Ramos
Maker: Fabrica de Tabacos Raices Cubanas
Filler: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Candela
Flavors:  Wood, vanila, cocoa, sweet
Draw/Volume/Strength: -1 / -1 / 2
Rating: 9.2

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, and we’re surrounded by clichés: green plastic top hats, novelty green beer mug-shaped glasses, vulgar green T-shirts, shamrock shakes, and the greatest atrocity of them all… green beer. St. Patrick’s Day began as a religious observance commemorating the man who brought Christianity to Ireland, and it has deteriorated into an over-commercialized farce, an excuse to drink excessively, and a chance to make a mockery of Irish culture.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with excessive drinking. In fact I do it all the time. But I do take exception to the bastardization of iconic Irish symbols for the sake of commercialization. And I also take exception to the kinds of stupidity commonly seen around this holiday, and people taking leave of their good senses. Seriously, green beer?

Illusione 888 Claro

Illusione 888 Claro (6¾x48)

But I’m not one to swim upstream. Even in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day has become a sort of national celebration of the culture of the Emerald Isle. So drink up, and and put on a stupid hat, but instead of ordering a green beer, call for a Guinness or a dram of Jameson, and reach for green cigar. And in this case, the green is no novelty.

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Illusione 888 Claro
 
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Posted in Candelas

 

La Aroma de Cuba Edicion Especial

03 Mar

Synopsis:
Blender: Don José “Pepin” Garcia
Maker: My Father Cigars/ Ashton Distributors
Filler: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Flavors: Citrus, mature tobacco, spice → white pepper, minerals
Draw/Volume/Strength: +3 / +3 / 4
Rating: 8.9

It’s been said that Don Pepin is the best cigar roller in the world. I’ve appreciated his work previously in La Riqueza, the Tatuaje Cojonu 2003, and the 601 Habano (and by extension, the My Father line, which was technically blended by his son Jaime, though rolled at the same factory). The La Aroma de Cuba Edicion Especial is a line extension of the brand owned by Ashton.

The core of La Aroma de Cuba is a rich, spicy, complex flavor, and the Edicion Especial, or “EE” as it’s commonly known, is no exception. Replacing the Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper of the original is a thick, oily Ecuadorian Habano leaf. The balance of the blend is Nicaraguan like the original, though whether any other differences exist, is unclear.

La Aroma de Cuba Edicion Especial

La Aroma de Cuba EE #55 (5¾x55)

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La Aroma de Cuba Edicion Especial
 
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Posted in Dark Natural, Robustos

 

Park Avenue

28 Feb

Synopsis:
Blender: AJ Fernandez
Maker: K. Hansotia Cigars/ Tabacalera Fernandez
Filler: Nicaraguan/ Dominican
Binder: Nicaraguan
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade
Flavors: Vanilla, Caramel, cedar → toasted wood, brown sugar.
Draw/Volume/Strength: 0 / -1 / 2
Rating: 9.1

We all have our little secrets. My step-mother has a recipe for Chicken Piccata that would make you positively weep. My brother got the recipe from her, but when he made it, it was missing something. Literally. She left something out of the ingredients. Oh, she won’t admit to it, but there’s something not there, and she’s not telling us.

She’s not the only one keeping things to herself. One of my favorite activities in California is lobster fishing. The season runs from October to March, and whether done with scuba gear or hoop nets, those of us who are willing to challenge the poorly-named Pacific can frequently pull in huge, delicious California Spiny Lobsters, with tails to rival anything Maine or Australia ever put out. Over the years, I’ve heard other lobster fishermen tell me all about the “secret spots” and massive caches of lobsters they “regularly” land. And every one of them is a lie. Oh, they land massive caches of lobsters at a secret spot, but there’s no way they’re telling where it is.

Park Avenue

Park Avenue Presidente (7x52)

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Park Avenue
 
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Posted in Churchills, Connecticut Shade, Natural

 

JFR Maduro

25 Feb

Synopsis:
Blender: Arsenio Ramos
Maker: Casa Fernandez/ Tabacalera Tropical
Filler: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Maduro
Flavors: Tangy maduro, dried fruits, earthy spice → cocoa, citrus, coffee
Draw/Volume/Strength: 0 / +1 / 3
Rating: 9.0

Shop local. There are a thousand reasons to get the things you need every day close to home, and even more reasons to get the things you only need once in a while close to home, too. Now, by “close to home,” I don’t mean at the big-chain grocery store up the street, although for most of us, that’s often necessary. What I mean is, try to support your LOCALLY OWENED businesses as much as possible.

JFR Maduro

JFR Maduro Robusto (5½x50)

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JFR Maduro
 
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Posted in Robustos

 

Casa Magna Domus Magnus Limitada

22 Feb

Synopsis:
Blender: Manuel Quesada
Maker: MATASA
Filler: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Jalapa Sun-Grown
Flavors: Mocha, leather, spice, sweet → cocoa, herbs, nuts
Draw/Volume/Strength: 0 / 0 / 3
Rating: 9.2

Today is Ash Wednesday. So LIGHT UP!

In observance of Lent, the Cigar Sasquatch is giving up moderation.

I don’t mean to make light of religious traditions. To each his own, I say, and if you feel connected with God by rubbing ashes on your head and giving up the things you love, please feel free. I choose to commune with the Spirit by enjoying the fruits of the earth. And rarely were the fruits sweeter than in the Casa Magna Domus Magnus Limitada.

Casa Magna Domus Magnus Limitada

Casa Magna Domus Magnus Limitada Optimus (5¾x52)

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Casa Magna Domus Magnus Limitada
 
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Posted in Dark Natural, Robustos

 

International Pipe Smoking Day 2012

20 Feb

In honor of International Pipe Smoking Day (February 20, 2012), the Cigar Sasquatch has put down his cigar and picked up his pipe. This afternoon’s choice is a robust Burley English blend from the world-famous Racine and Laramie Tobacconists at Old Town San Diego. It’s complex and woody, with cocoa and toffee flavors, and a taste of roasted meats.

ENJOY!

International Pipe Smoking Day 2012

International Pipe Smoking Day

International Pipe Smoking Day 2012
 
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Posted in Special Edition

 

Frank Llaneza 1961

07 Feb

Synopsis:
Blender: Frank Llaneza
Maker: Altadis
Filler: Nicaraguan/Dominican
Binder: Nicaraguan
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Criollo
Flavors: Earthy, espresso, caramel, tangy sweet
Draw/Volume/Strength: 0 / +1 / 4
Rating: 9.1

Look down at the cigar in your hand. Is it Cuban? If not, chances are you wouldn’t be smoking it if it weren’t for Frank Llaneza.

The current issue of Cigar Aficionado magazine lists their top 25 cigars of 2011. Eight of the top 10 contain Nicaraguan leaf (the other two are Cuban puros). There are three Nicaraguan puros, and three other cigars which are Nicaraguan in filler and binder, with a wrapper of another origin. So to say that Nicaraguan tobaccos made a strong showing would be to put it lightly. No other tobacco growing location even came close. Not Honduras, not the Dominican Republic, not even Cuba.

Frank Llaneza 1961

Frank Llaneza 1961 Double Magnum (6½x54)

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Frank Llaneza 1961
 
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Posted in Dark Natural, Toros

 

Cigar Quotes

31 Jan

Cigar lovers are as diverse and complex as the cigars they smoke. Their little bits of lore and witticism have left us a treasure trove of noteworthy quotations, a few of which I will share with you here.

Cigar Quotes

"Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." ~Sigmund Freud

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Cigar Quotes
 
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Posted in Special Edition