Cigar of the Week

Cigarchat #7, sponsored by Tesa Cigars

Know it’s been a little while since I’ve done a #cigarchat event (you know, new job and all), but they’re back!

The next chat, sponsored by Chicago-based Tesa Cigars, will be on Monday, September 27 from 7-9pm CST, and the cigar we’ll be smoking is the Tesa Cabinet 312.

Once again, there will be a few sticks to go around. Follow me on Twitter at @DanielHonigman and keep an eye out for my announcement there. The first 10 people who DM me after that (A few from Chicago, 4-5 from elsewhere) will get a Cabinet 312 to enjoy during the event. (Of course, you’ll have to smoke it during the #cigarchat, and provide proof in the form of a photo or video that includes the proper hashtag.)

Hope you can make the chat!

Cigar of the Week

Chicago Cigar Tweetup #1

We’ve been having so much fun with our #cigarchat Twitter events, we’ve decided to expand and hold the first ever Chicago Cigar Tweetup!

We’ll be having it over at Tesa Cigar Co. on Thursday, March 25 from 6-10pm.

Our liquor sponsor will be Wild Scotsman Whisky, who will be sampling the Wild Scotsman Black Label, the 15 Year Vatted Scotch Malt and the Blend No. 888 scotches.

Tesa Cigars will also be running a Buy 3, Get 1 deal on its own cigars. (You can read reviews on their Vintage Especial and the Cabinet 312.)

You can RSVP for the event here, and the hashtag will be #chicagocigar. Hope to see you there!

Cigar of the Week

Cigar of the Week: TESA Cabinet 312 Torpedo

TESA Cabinet 312 Torpedo

Brand: TESA Cigars
Line: Cabinet 312
Vitola: Torpedo; 6 x 54
Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Criollo ’98 Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Body: Medium-to-full
Strength: Medium
Price: About $10-$13

As I said in my recent review of the Liga Privada T-52, I’ve recently been hanging out more at TESA Cigars over on Chicago’s Near West Side.

After only a few visits, it’s already one of my new favorite shops.

When I first went to TESA, I knew the place carried its own boutique line of cigars. Little did I know how good they were. All of TESA’s cigars are blended by store owner Chris Kelly, and the sticks are made at TESA’s factory in Nicaragua.

The TESA Cabinet 312, which is named after the original 312 Chicago area code, has an oily, slightly veiny wrapper. It has a pre-light scent that’s cedary and woody, but also a touch spicy and sweet, and with a good draw.

Once lit, a couple of the sticks I tried, including one at the shop, started to canoe up the side for about 1/2 an inch, but the burn corrected itself quickly. The burn line on the 312 was very dark, and for the most part, it was quite even.

The draw on the cigar, which was quite firm and with no soft spots, tightened up a bit, and as a result, the 312 produced very stringy smoke. (Note: This didn’t happen with all of the Cabinet 312 cigars I tried.)

The 312’s woodiness continued as I smoked the cigar down, and it picked up a bit more spice and tanginess, with a hint of mocha, along the way.

Verdict: The TESA Cabinet 312 is an enjoyable, not overly complex stick. There were a couple of small issues I didn’t experience with TESA’s other cigar lines, and I experienced them with a few of the 312s. Of the TESA cigars I’ve tried so far, this is my least favorite, not because I dislike the 312, but because I like the others so much more.

TESA makes good cigars, and seems to be well on its way to single-handedly restoring Chicago to its proper place as the cigar capital of the midwest, smoking ban and all.

I’ll get some of the other TESA cigars reviewed soon. Promise.

Cigar of the Week

Cigar of the Week: Drew Estate Liga Privada T-52

Brand: Drew Estate
Line: Liga Privada
Vitola: Toro; 6 x 52
Origin: Honduras
Wrapper: American Habano
Binder: Brazilian
Filler: Nicaraguan, Honduran, Dominican
Body: Full
Strength: Full
Price: About $10-$13

I’ve recently been hanging out more at TESA Cigars in Chicago, and the folks there carry their own sticks and Drew Estate exclusively. So, after some prodding from #cigarchat participant Ron Hollatz at a recent Drew Estate event at the store, I picked up a couple of the new Drew Estate Liga Privada T-52 sticks to try.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Liga Privada T-52 is its smooth, shiny wrapper. It’s quite dark and has an oily sheen on it. The T-52’s pre-light flavor has hints of hay, pepper and a touch of sweetness reminiscent of cocoa, and it has a good pre-light draw. The T-52 is definitely a well-made stick.

Once lit, the T-52 produced a mostly peppery flavor, with hints of cocoa, a sweet scent and a thick plume of smoke. As the cigar progressed through the middle third, it got leathery, and towards the end, it became a bit spicier. It burned evenly, and had solid, mostly white ash.

Verdict: I wasn’t sure what to expect after I tried the Liga Privada T-9 not too long ago. (A review for that will come soon.) The Drew Estate Liga Privada T-52 is an enjoyable, full-bodied cigar with a lot of flavor that won’t smack you in the face. It’s a bit pricier than other Drew Estate offerings, at $10+, but it’s definitely worth a try; you may even end up making it a regular part of your cigar rotation.

Cigar of the Week

Cigar of the Week: Gurkha Micro Batch Liga VH-7

Gurkha Micro Batch Liga VH-7
Gurkha Micro Batch Liga VH-7

Brand: Gurkha Cigars
Line: Micro Batch
Vitola: Liga VH-7 (Toro; 6 x 50)
Origin: Honduras
Wrapper: Jamastran Habano
Binder: Ecuador
Filler: Nicaraguan, Honduran, Dominican
Body: Medium-to-full
Strength: Medium

Cigar stores are a great place to hang out and pick up a stick or two, but when you’re buying in bulk, it’s difficult to resist the allure — and the price — of internet retailers. They’ll get great deals many brick-and-mortar shops just don’t.

When I saw a freebie deal on Cigars International for the Micro Batch sticks, I decided to take a shot with the Gurkha Micro Batch Liga VH-7.

The VH-7 is a box-pressed cigar, and is made with a slightly veiny — but mostly smooth — Jamastran Habano wrapper from 2003. According to the site, only 45,000 of these cigars were made.

I typically switch between cutters and punches, depending on the cigar’s vitola and my mood, but I used a punch for this particular stick and I got a great pre-light draw that was extraordinarily leathery.

Once lit, the cigar was earthy and leathery, and its Habano wrapper was quite tangy and tasty. The sweet, caramel taste of my drink, a Bass Pale Ale, brought out the flavors of the stick.

The cigar was maintained properly in my humidor, but I noticed that about a third of the way in, it started canoeing a bit up one side. This evened out after about an inch, though. Otherwise, the Liga VH-7’s burn was even and the burn line was thin.

As the cigar progressed, it got more even more leathery, a hint of nuts, which I enjoyed at first, but then it only got more leathery from there.

Verdict: I found the Gurkha Micro Batch Liga VH-7 too one-dimensional. There was too much leather, which overpowered everything else: the nuts, the earthiness — everything. It tastes good, and there’s some heft to it, mbut if you’re looking for something more complex, you may want to look elsewhere.

(NOTE: This review was originally posted on CigarJack.)

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

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

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

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

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.)