Category: Cigar of the Week

Cigar of the Week: Louixs cigar

Louixs cigar

It’s good to feel like a big macher every once in a while.

When you spend a little extra money on the finer things in life — a fine scotch, a Swiss watch, a luxury car — and you get a great deal, it’s a wonderful feeling. An investment in quality is generally a smart one because you’ll experience that quality, presumably, for a long time to come.

The Louixs ultra-premium cigar — made in Nicaragua for Goldwin, the house cigar of the Beverly Hills Cigar Club — is just built for decadence. There are two reasons why:

1. It’s a 6-inch, 60-ring-gauge smoke. (That measures to about an inch in diameter.) The stick is pretty damn big. George Carlin would have a field day with it.
2. It costs 50 bucks.

The Stats

It’s a magnificent-looking cigar, that’s for sure, with a flawless reddish Rosado wrapper leaf from Nicaragua. The cigar band, which features a portrait of Louis XIV, the famous 17th-century “Sun King” of France, makes it look even more stately.

The Goldwin Web site claims the Louixs is the most expensive cigar ever created. At $50, it’s a hell of an expensive stick. Goldwin’s claim, however, is incorrect. The original Gurkha Black Dragon limited-edition cigar debuted at a whopping $1,150 per stick.

But it’s clear Goldwin isn’t selling these sticks to veteran cigar smokers. They say, “Louixs are special because every part of the manufacturing process is managed by master tobacconists who understand this cigar is the very best: native Cuban torcedores (rollers) handleaf each one; native Cuban catadores (taste testers) check every batch; veteran revisadores (inspectors) monitor every aspect of the production.”

Last time I checked, this is basically the case with every other cigar factory. The good ones, at least.

The Taste

Anyway, back to the cigar. Since it has such a big ring gauge, using a cutter may give you too much smoke on the draw, if you’re not a cigar vet. I used a double punch, and got a great, even draw the whole way through.

The pre-light flavor had hints of cocoa and a touch of spice on the finish, but the stick wasn’t anywhere near overpowering. As I smoked through the cigar — it took about an hour-and-a-half to smoke — I noticed it didn’t really get any more complex, as the cocoa and spice persisted until about halfway in, when the cigar got a touch earthy. But that was it; the Louixs hit a flavor plateau early on, and it never extended past that. While it tasted good, I was disappointed by its lack of complexity.

Was the Louixs tasty? Sure. Could you get a better-tasting cigar for $10? Absolutely. You’ll also have some money left over to buy that scotch.

I originally wrote this review for Asylum.

Cigar of the Week: Casa Fuente Pyramid #2 (Arturo Fuente)

Casa Fuente belicoso cigar

Brand: Arturo Fuente
Line: Casa Fuente
Vitola: Pyramid #2 (Torpedo – 6.38 x 52)
Origin: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Cameroon
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Body: Medium
Strength: Medium

Viva Las Vegas.

I recently took my second trip to Sin City to moderate a panel at CES2009, but before I left, I stopped over at Casa Fuente to try its exclusive Casa Fuente cigar. (Well, there was that, and Pete Rose was signing autographs across the way.)

The Casa Fuente has a sweet-smelling Cameroon wrapper that’s exceptionally smooth, and my sticks had good prelight draws and no soft sports. The Casa Fuente — like most Fuente cigars I’ve enjoyed — is superbly rolled, so the cigars’ caps were superb.

I found the flavor in the first half to be leathery with a sweet, vanilla finish. The second half is leathery and sweet, but it gets a touch peppery.

As far as burn, the Casa Fuente burned a bit unevenly at first, but it evened out about an inch and a half in. It produced solid, light gray ash.

Verdict: Love this Cameroon wrapper on this one, and you will too. It’s a good, consistent smoke.

As far as the proper drink to enjoy this with, I was at the Casa Fuente store around 11am, so I didn’t have a spirit with the cigar the first time around; I just had a couple of Fat Tires. My suggestion is to pair this with something fairly mild so you can savor this consistent, delicious smoke.

At $18-$28 a stick, however, you’d better save this for a special occasion. Weddings, bar mitzvahs — or if you win some money at the blackjack tables.

Cigar of the Week: Gurkha Signature Red 1887 Rothchild

Gurkha Signature 1887 Red Rothchild

Brand: Gurkha Cigars
Line: Signature 1887
Vitola: Red Rothchild (Toro); 6 x 55
Origin: Honduras
Wrapper: Connecticut Shade
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Indian, Peruvian
Body: Mild-to-medium
Strength: Medium

I’ve been on a bit of a Gurkha kick lately. Sue me. Things could be much worse.

Anyway, I’ll just get right into the review. The Gurkha Signature Red 1887 and its maduro brother, the Gurkha Signature Black 1887, seem to be tough sticks to find, but I grabbed a couple of the Red at a recent herf, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The Signature 1887 has a good prelight draw and has a slightly sweet, nutty scent. The Connecticut Shade wrapper was smooth and silky without any rough patches or big veins. The cigar, which just looks like it would be spongy, was consistent and firm.

Burn wasn’t an issue with this stick at all, as the Gurkha Signature Red 1887 produced a solid stack of dark-gray ash. However, about a third of the way in, the draw got a bit tight, and the cigar was tough to smoke just until it hit its sweet spot.

I’m happy the draw opened back up. It was, as they say, luxurious. It was toasty and nutty, with hints of sweetness and had a touch of spice on the finish.

Verdict: I think the Gurkha Signature Red 1887 may be one of my new favorites. At $8 a stick, it isn’t a regular smoke, but if you’re one to splurge on a box occasionally, you may want to check this one out.

(Note: This review originally appeared on CigarJack.)

Cigar of the Week: Gurkha Black Dragon Imperial Presidente

Gurkha Black Dragon Imperial Presidente

Brand: Gurkha Cigars
Line: Black Dragon
Vitola: Imperial Presidente (Double Corona; 7 x 56)
Origin: Honduras
Wrapper: Cameroon
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Nicaraguan, Peruvian
Body: Medium-to-full
Strength: Medium

Gurkha hosted an event a couple of months ago at a local store, so I decided to splurge a bit. What cigar did I pick up? The Black Dragon, of course.

I’m sure you know all about Gurkha’s initial foray with the stick — cough, $115K for 100 cigars — but the company released the not-as-exclusive version of the Black Dragon last year with much fanfare, especially on CigarJack. I figured it was finally time to try it.

What was the occasion, you may ask? I made my own chili — Daniel’s Texas-style New York Chili — for the first time. Ever. This called for a celebration.

The Gurkha Black Dragon is an impressive-looking stogie. The wrapper is pretty smooth, with only a few veins, and slightly oily. It had a good pre-light draw, and a slightly earthy pre-light scent and flavor.

Like Brian Hewitt over at Stogie Review, I experienced some very good, even burns on my Black Dragons, and the cigars produced white, flaky ash. And like Brian, I found the first third — or in my case, half — of the stick to have sweet, creamy flavors with a smooth finish. I also tasted some lingering notes of earth and leather. The flavors intensified more in the second half.

Verdict: The Gurkha Black Dragon Imperial Presidente is a good stick for $7-$8 and a decent cigar for $9-$10. If you can get it for that price range, then it’s worth a try. If not, see if you can get a deal for it online.

(Note: This review originally appeared on CigarJack.)

Cigar of the Week: Alec Bradley Trilogy Authentic Corojo torpedo

Alec Bradley Trilogy Authentic Corojo cigar

Brand: Alec Bradley
Line: Trilogy Authentic Corojo
Vitola: Torpedo (6 1/8 x 52)
Origin: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Costa Rican
Binder: Honduran, Nicaraguan
Filler: Dominican, Mexican
Body: Medium
Strength: Medium
Box Price: $81.95/box of 20

(This is the second of three reviews for Alec Bradley’s Trilogy line of cigars: the Native Cameroon, the Authentic Corojo and the Exotic Maduro.)

Last week, I reviewed the Alec Bradley Trilogy Native Cameroon, and I was impressed, but not blown away. I figured I’d wait a little bit before I reviewed this one.

The Alec Bradley Trilogy Authentic Corojo has a stellar prelight scent: cocoa with hints of hay and leather. The several sticks I tried had good draws, and — call me crazy — but do you know when a cigar just feels good in your hand? This one did. There were a couple of veins in the wrapper, but the Corojo is pretty smooth.

About an inch in, I got walloped by even more cocoa and leather, and about halfway in I got even more spice. Not too peppery, but a steady, subtle spice. It was good.

The Corojo produces nearly white ash, but it’s quite flaky. However, I didn’t experience any of the burn issues Brian at Stogie Review had almost a year ago.

Verdict: Exceptional cigar for the price. I’d smoke this one again, for sure, and you should give it a try.

(Note: This review originally appeared on CigarJack.)

Cigar of the Week: Alec Bradley Trilogy Native Cameroon Robusto

Alec Bradley Trilogy Native Cameroon cigar

Brand: Alec Bradley
Line: Trilogy Native Cameroon
Vitola: Robusto (5 x 50)
Origin: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Cameroon
Binder: Honduran
Filler: Nicaraguan, Italian
Body: Medium
Strength: Medium
Box Price: $72.00 (box of 20)

(This is the first of three reviews for Alec Bradley’s Trilogy line of cigars: the Native Cameroon, the Corojo and the Exotic Maduro.)

I don’t smoke too many sticks with Cameroon binders. The last one, I think, was the CAO Cameroon

So, to say the least, I was excited when I received the Alec Bradley Native Cameroon in the mail from Chris Manso over at A.B.

Not too much information is available on the Alec Bradley site, but the folks at Keepers of the Flame wrote in 2006 that the cigars in the Trilogy line used to be tri-pressed, and thus were shaped like triangles. Pretty cool, huh?

Anyway, the Native Cameroon has a good prelight draw, along with a leathery, woody taste and scent with hints of spice. It also has an attractive, fairly toothy wrapper.

About an inch into the cigar, I was hit with an earthy taste, and the spiciness dialed up a touch, enough for it to linger a bit on the finish, but this spice went away about an inch or so.

The stick had a good, even burn and produced solid, very light gray ash.

Verdict: Smooth and uncomplicated, but for a Cameroon, it’s not quite what I expected. Alec Bradley cigars are generally good bangs for the buck, and this Native Cameroon is decent, but to be honest, it’s not the best Cameroon I’ve smoked, and it won’t be the best one you’ll smoke either. I did enjoy it enough to think about buying a couple to let sit in my humidor. At $3 apiece, it’s a modest investment.

(Note: This review originally appeared on CigarJack.)

Tidbit of the Day: Hanging out in Nat Sherman’s Johnson Club Room

Nat Sherman Johnson Club Room
Mollie hanging out in Nat Sherman’s Johnson Club Room

Earlier this year, I reviewed the Nat Sherman Host Selection, the Nat Sherman Metropolitan Selection, the Nat Sherman V.I.P. Selection and the Nat Sherman Omerta. I enjoy the company’s cigars, but I just hadn’t been to Nat’s new 42nd Street digs.

So I was in New York recently, and in between a Mets game and some family business, my girlfriend Mollie (pictured) and I had some time to kill. We were near the store, so we stopped by for a bit.

Nat Sherman is a cigar smoker’s urban oasis. My contact there, store manager Mike Holba, was there, and he showed us around the store’s retail area, the cave-like walk-in humidor, the private lockers and, of course, the Johnson Club Room.

Think of the club as a cross between the Harvard Club — not that I’ve ever been there — and a Tommy Bahama wet dream. Decadent, no?

Simply put, The JCR is the cigar smoker’s ultimate tax write-off; $1,600 a year gets you membership, a personal locker and a whole bunch of prestige. But if you do a lot of business in New York, and you enjoy a good cigar, membership is a must-have.

There are many creature comforts: There’s the room, which features a full bar, lots of dark wood, comfortable leather chairs and couches and some cool cigar stuff on display. The club also serves up appetizers, a free daily continental breakfast from 9-11am and, presumably, some good conversation. This is the home of the city’s cigar-puffing elite, which include New York icons like Rudy Giuliani and Joe Torre, who both have lockers at Nat’s.

Mollie and I hung out in the room for a little while. She had a Host, while I enjoyed one of the store’s exclusive Blender’s Vault cigars. (I’ll be reviewing some of these later on.)

If you’re in the Big Apple on a weekend, a visit to Nat’s is a must. Period. The sticks are good, the space is nice, and the ice tea’s pretty damn tasty.

But if you tell ’em I sent you, you probably won’t get a discount.

(Note: This originally appeared on CigarJack.)

Cigar of the Week: Man O’ War toro

Man O' War toro cigar

Brand: Man O’ War
Line: Man O’ War
Vitola: Toro (6.5 x 52)
Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Body: Medium-to-full
Strength: Medium
Box Price: $128 (Box of 22)

Several Web retailers have been giving the Man O’ War cigar a bit of a push lately. Perhaps it’s justified, as it’s made by A.J. Fernandez, an up-and-comer in the cigar biz and maker of the Sol Cubano Cuban Cabinet, ITC 10th Anniversary, Padilla Habano and Rocky Patel Fusion cigars.

We at CigarJack like to keep up with the latest trends, and after smoking the Man O’ War, it seems that Fernandez may have snatched the “hot cigar maker” mantle from Don “Pepin” Garcia. Just maybe.

Anyway, the Man O’ War cigar has a slightly oily, slightly veiny wrapper, along with firm construction and a prelight scent of mocha.

Once lit, I found that the cigar drew well and burned an even column of dark gray ash. In fact, the ash was so solid that it stayed on after I shook the stick violently — and I did this several times.

The Man O’ War started out spicy, and then progressed to have an earthy, leathery taste. All through the smoke — which lasted about 90 minutes — I caught hints of cocoa and coffee.

Verdict: A very smooth, very enjoyable, well-made smoke. I didn’t have to re-light this sucker once, even after shaking it around. (I was doing this on the street, mind you, so I must have looked like an idiot.)

Similar cigars: A more complex version of the Sol Cubano Cuban Classic.

(Note: This review originally appeared on CigarJack.)

Cigar of the Week: 5 Vegas Miami toro

5 Vegas Miami cigar

Brand: 5 Vegas
Line: Miami
Vitola: Toro (6 x 48)
Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Cuban-seed Nicaraguan, Dominican
Body: Medium-to-full
Strength: Medium-to-full
Cigar Price: $135 (Box of 20)

Another day, another cigar by “Don” Pepin Garcia. Not that I’m complaining.

The 5 Vegas Miami cigar has an attractive, toothy wrapper and a spicy pre-light scent with hints of cocoa.

Once lit, the cigar had an even burn, a good draw and solid, dark-gray ash. It also gave off a ton of sweet smoke.

Verdict: It’s a good cigar that’s not complex. It tasted a little spicy, a little leathery, and not bad. If you don’t feel like shelling out for a stick from Garcia’s El Rey de los Habanos brand, reach for the 5 Vegas Miami.

Now, I smoked five of these things, and they were all consistently good. But some inconsistencies have been reported around the blogosphere. I didn’t experience any of that.

Similar cigars: It’s a slightly milder version of the Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Classic.

(Note: This review originally appeared on CigarJack.)

Cigar of the Week: Kristoff Criollo Churchill (Exclusive Cigars)

Kristoff Criollo cigar

Brand: Exclusive Cigars (Kristoff)
Line: Criollo
Vitola: Churchill (7 x 50)
Origin: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Criollo
Binder: Cuban seed Orlor Dominican
Filler: Cuban seed Orlor Dominican, Nicaraguan
Body: Medium
Strength: Medium

As you know, not every cigar is a Cohiba or Montecristo, and part of what makes cigar smoking an interesting hobby, I believe, is when one discovers new and boutique brands.

With that, I recently met Glen Case, president of Aurora, Ill.-based Exclusive Cigars, at a local herf featuring his line of Kristoff cigars. Since I had a small lunch, I chose to light up his Criollo stick. (I’ll be reviewing the Kristoff Maduro at a later date.)

The Kristoff Criollo has a slightly veiny, oily wrapper and a bit of a spongy feel, reminiscent of a Graycliff. Its pigtail and shaggy, closed foot give it a rustic, old-time look, but you’ll immediately be drawn towards the Kristoffs because of its box, which features unfinished wood lined with loose tobacco.

Anyway, the first half of the Criollo is spicy, with hints of toasted almonds, but it smooths out in the second half. It’s still spicy, mind you, but the aftertaste is reminiscent of dried fruit and caramel.

Verdict: The Kristoff Criollo is a complex, enjoyable, tasty stick, that I would recommend to experienced smokers. It has an even burn, and some nice white ash, but you may find the draw a tad inconsistent. I smoked four of the Kristoff Criollos, and three of them drew completely well. The last one, however, was a bit plugged.

Anyway, three out of four ain’t bad, and maybe there are some construction issues to work out. In the meantime, I’d smoke Kristoffs again in a heartbeat, depending on the price.

Similar cigars: It’s a bit stronger and more complex, I think, than the CAO Criollo.

(Note: This review originally appeared on CigarJack.)