Cigar Blog 101

Cigars and cigar aficionados discuss their favorite cigars, humidors, cigar accessories and more.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

3 Regular Guys Cigar Review - Rocky Patel Sun Grown

Super 8 Cigar Sampler Review Courtesy of the 3 Regular Guys at Thompson Cigar.

Compared to some of the ageless names of the cigar world, like the Fuente's and Padron's, Patel is a new surname on the scene. Rocky Patel's bio is quite an interesting one. It also pays tribute to his determination and commitment to the quality of the cigars he makes.

Rocky began smoking cigars with seriousness back in 1990 while working
as an attorney in the entertainment industry. Rocky became a founding
member of the Grand Havana Room in Beverly Hills. With his favorite
stogie hideout located only a block and a half from his office, it was pretty convenient for him to nurture his growing obsession with quality cigars and cultivate his interest in fine tobacco blends.

During the cigar boom, Rocky was approached by a gentleman who had an
idea for a cigar company. It was to be called Indian Tabac and named
after the Indian Motorcycle brand. Being more committed to the quality of the cigars, Rocky bought out his partner in 1997 and poured himself into expanding his knowledge and mastery of cigar making and the development of the Indian Tabac brand.

Rocky spent the next 4 to 5 years in Nicaragua and Honduras and focused passionately on getting his hands dirty in the fields and tobacco barns learning every facet of the business. With the last name of Patel and the shingle of an attorney on his wall it was personal commitment and determination that brought him into the inner circle of the premium cigar business. Passion for cigars may now be in his blood but it wasn't born there. Shortly thereafter Rocky believed strongly enough in his dream to build and run his own premium cigar brand that he sold his law firm, moved to Florida and dedicated himself 110% to cigars.

Leading off with a narrative as compelling as this running through our minds it was with a lot of anticipation that we 3 Regular Guys reached for our Rocky Patel Sun Grown belicosos; admired them for a bit; cut them; toasted, lit and smoked them. All of us immediately took notice of the attractiveness of the wrapper. This cigar was beautiful. The oily slightly-veiny wrapper had Dave smelling hints of oatmeal, and Scott noted it as smelling rich, mellow and leathery.

Even prior to lighting we all remarked that this cigar was absolutely packed with tobacco. The filler was packed beautifully and the binder and wrapper turned into an immaculate stick. Lighting up this cigar was easy and it yielded plenty of cool smoke from a good draw with a full mouthfeel. The ash was a dense grayish-white. The flavors however were trying hard to tell us a different story.

Dave found the initial taste to be slightly sharp on his tongue with lots of peppery and citrus notes. Colm picked up on this cigar tasting young and slightly edgy. He also thought it was rather unbalanced, very peppery and lacking in complexity. Scott found it to be a spicy smoke with a cayenne pepper taste that made this seem like a cajun cigar. Scott found the finish to be medium in length but it left the palate quickly.

The flavors coming from this cigar were strong and threw us for a loop because they were not the rich deep tobacco notes that we had anticipated. The taste of the wrapper was spicy and strong on the tongue and then moved to the back of the throat. Dave even found the spiciness of the wrapper a bit numbing to his gums and tongue.

To sum up, we were thoroughly perplexed with our final estimation of this cigar. From an immaculate construction and stellar appearance we were still encouraged with the zesty smell of the wrapper. Packed full with tobacco there was little risk that this cigar wouldn't yield an ample amount of smoke and a rich complex experience. But somehow it didn't. It was dry on the palate, too peppery, and just off.

We were a bit reassurred when we chatted a few days later with our fellow colleague Kelly from our warehouse -he's a huge fan of the Rocky Patel Sun Grown and had really built us up in wanting to smoke this cigar. He stopped us to let us know that he had just recently smoked one and there was something not quite right about it. It was nothing like he knew them to be and chalked it up that we found ourselves tangled up in an off-box of sticks.

It's not Rocky in general as we like a lot of his product -Scott is a big fan of the Edge (last one he bought was out of the Madison Avenue Davidoff store humidor). We think we've gotta go back and try again because this cigar should be a tremendous smoke!

Get your Super 8 Sampler by clicking here >>.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

3 Regular Guys Cigar Review - CAO Criollo Mancha

Super 8 Cigar Sampler Review Courtesy of the 3 Regular Guys at Thompson Cigar.

We like CAO a lot. All three of us are big fans of the company for our individual reasons; not just because of the Flavourettes they definitely don’t hurt the average. Rather we like CAO because they do an all around great job. They’re not really the new kid on the block; they’ve been in the game since Cano founded the company as a pipe-maker back in 1968. They are kind of the unique kid on the block though; with the headquarters of CAO International in Nashville of all places. But that sets them apart and they seem to like it.

CAO is responsible for testing the waters if not entirely redrawing the borders of the world cigar empire. We all know about the SopranosTM cigars with the sedan trunk styled box and Tim Ozgener’s development of the Brazilia that edged into the ashy-gray area of creating a cigar that showcases Brazilian tobacco instead of merely using it as a component (we’ll get to the Brazilia two reviews from now). Speaking of Tim, we’re sort of blog brothers with him anyway. We write for Cigarblog101; he writes for OzBlog. Or he did, back in the day –however now that he’s president of CAO (kudos!) I’m guessing he’s quite busy and his blogmaster can’t really bribe him with Dominican samplers to write faster since he’s got the key to the top-secret CAO product development humidor.

Back to the real matter at hand -the CAO Criollo Mancha 5 5/8 x 46. Criollo was the first tobacco strain selectively developed by Cuban scientists in the Pinar del Rio region. It was the optimal cigar tobacco. The only drawback was the difficulty in getting good wrapper leaf from the plant. That spurred the development of Corojo leaf. However, this CAO has a Nicaraguan grown Criollo ’98 Seed wrapper. If you think the Criollo is a little bit pricey this is the reason why. It’s a real pain to get criollo wrapper but CAO pulled it off anyway. And that folks is the long version of how this neat little Nicaraguan puro came into being. Oh and we smoked it too.

First off we all really dug the pigtail cap. It’s the cigar equivalent of a pocket square –you don’t have to have one, but it definitely adds distinction and sets you above the crowd. It’s a nice accent and doesn’t get in the way. You can use any type of cutter and it holds up great.

The criollo wrapper is a medium brown color; smooth with few veins. Scott thought it looked a bit like smooth suede; Colm said “fantastic looking cigar;” and Dave zeroed in on it being a solid and well made cigar that smelled rather spicy pre-light. Once we had smoked them for a while we noted a broad variety of tastes. Dave thought the flavor was slightly bitterer than anticipated, even going on to say that it was chalky as was the medium finish (for having a Mother of All Humidors in his dining room –full mind you- we’ve got to listen to his thoughts). He also found the draw to be a little tight which is understandable because this cigar is packed with tobacco –noted by Scott as “uber slow even burn leaving a dense light gray ash.”

Scott strayed considerably from Dave, instead finding this stick to be diverse. The taste was a little tangy and spicy on the tongue. The smoke was woody and hinted at nutmeg and the body had a leathery chewiness to it. The finish was medium in length with a touch of peppery spiciness.

Colm wandered down his usual path of wanting every cigar to be the close kin of a Fuente or a Padron. He thought the Criollo was very smooth and slightly complex with well-balanced flavors. Ending in a perfect ash, this cigar was well liked by Colm except he wished it were fuller bodied like a Padron. Aside from wanting a bit more of everything it is, Colm cited the Criollo as exhibit 4,382 why he’s a huge Nicaraguan cigar fan.

We like the Criollo. It’s not at the top of the list but this cigar certainly occupies a solid spot when we want a spicy and varied smoke that promises consistency and dependability. True to its Nicaraguan pedigree this cigar does have a bit of muscle to it. Scott learned firsthand thinking that it’d be no problem to smoke it standing up. He pulled through but the Criollo gained an extra measure of his respect. So maybe the CAO Criollo doesn’t settle into the annals of history as an epic journey, however it does serve as one hell of a fun detour in the meantime.

Get your Super 8 Sampler by clicking here >>.

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CAO Flavorettes Visit Thompson Cigar

(Back Row) David, Scott, Flavorette 1, Colm, Flavorette 2, Patrick
(Front Row) Flavorette 3 and Darren

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The next big cigar reviews

Ahhh, the fun of being the blogmaster is teasing the 3 Regular Guys about the cigars they get to review for us in the near future. All they (Scott) have to do is finish writing the review of the Super 8 Sampler and they can move to the next challenge.

And, that would be the Ultimate Dominican Sampler, a personal request by the reviewers. Toro, Belicoso, Robusto – all they have to do is name their favorite size cigar, and I'll give them the sampler to review.

But here's the fun part, I gave them special cigars as a bonus before the Dominican Samper. They have to give me a blockbuster review of the Iguana and its three wrapper selections - Candela, Connecticut and Maduro. It was so popular, Colm even came back and asked for more on Wednesday.

We have some great reviews coming. Make sure to subscribe to the cigar blog so you can keep up with the latest news, photos and more reviews.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Playboy Playmate To Appear at Thompson Cigar This Saturday


WHEN: Saturday, December 16, 2006
10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

WHERE: Thompson & Co. of Tampa, Inc
5401 Hangar Court
Tampa, FL 33634

WHAT: Visit the Thompson Cigar Outlet Store in Tampa and meet Playboy’s Miss November 2006 Sarah Elizabeth. Have your picture taken with Sarah and receive 10% off all Cuesta-Rey products. Cuesta-Rey owners Bobby and Eric Newman will also be attending the event to meet and greet customers.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

3 Regular Guys Review - Toraño Exodus 1959 –Silver Edition

Super 8 Sampler Review Courtesy of the 3 Regular Guys at Thompson Cigar.

I recall a lecture I sat through in business school in which some venture capitalists shared insights into their world with us. These guys were horse-traders of companies. It was pure glamour or a money-fueled corporate chop-shop depending on your outlook. One pearl of wisdom was as an entrepreneur you wanted to avoid putting your own name on a business. Reason being when you sell it you’d likely lose rights to your name and control over your presumed reputation thereafter. Valid point and a huge contrast to the world of handmade cigars.

Most of the finest players in the premium tobacco business now bear the singular surname of the founders and current ownership prominently embossed on the cigar’s band. This is because there is an abundance of pride in their product and the highest dedication and most deliberate intent to carry the brand name, family business and legacy forward through successive generations. Countless examples of this exist -perhaps none more fitting than that of Torano.

Don Santiago -the first Toraño cigar man- came to Cuba in 1916. The Toraño reputation then flourished like their fields of tobacco, with their holdings numbering 17 farms. In 1959 Castro’s revolution and subsequent nationalization of the Cuban tobacco industry caused the emigration of Carlos and his family to the Dominican Republic. There Toraño is heralded for introducing Cuban seed to Dominican tobacco growing and taught farmers to grow Piloto Cubano leaf. This impressive agricultural pedigree has branched out to Nicaragua, Mexico and Ecuador and been aptly matched by Toraño factories in Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

From this lineage and in commemoration of the Castro caused exodus emerged the Toraño Exodus 1959 –Silver Edition. This cigar brings together Costa Rican, Mexican and Honduran long-filler with a Costa Rican binder and dresses it out with a smooth Criollo wrapper. We all found the draw of our cigars to be a little tight starting out. Dave liked the double-cap which accented an overall attractive well-constructed cigar. The Exodus burned evenly and generally tasted cedary and toasty with subtle tones of citrus accenting the medium-length dry finish. While none of us really found the ’59 Silver Edition to be overtly complex we unanimously pegged it as a great little noon-time or afternoon smoke. Spice notes of nutmeg and bits of cinnamon punctuate your palate as the flavors of this blend linger politely.

The biography of this cigar maker would dwarf most any stick so we weren’t too upset that the Exodus 1959 didn’t wow and amaze us. However wearing the band of Toraño commands a lot of deserved credibility. We’ve smoked plenty of Exodus and lots of Toraños in general. Scott and Dave have a pretty decent personal stash of them in their humidors and Colm seldom turns one away –although he doesn’t often let any lay around and age because he’s a little concerned Carlito might catch wind that he was betraying his humidor’s Opus X and Don Carlo cache.

Get your Super 8 Sampler by clicking here >>.

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