Monday, June 30, 2008

My Weekend Cigar: Arturo Fuente King B

By Gary Korb

Saturday night I got together with my good friend, "Richard-from-up-the-street," to enjoy a couple of good cigars. He does a lot of business traveling, so it had been a while since we'd last smoked, too.

My cigar of choice for the evening was an Arturo Fuente Chateau Fuente Sun Grown King B. Believe it or not, this was my first. I had purchased the cigar at the suggestion of Famous Smoke Shop retail store manager, Jeff Brown, last fall. Richard treated himself to Plasencia Reserva Organica Corona.

The King B is one hefty sucker of a cigar. At 6"x 55 dimensions, this beautiful "Beli," which is part of the Arturo Fuente Chateau Fuente Sun-Grown cigars line, comes wrapped in a cedar sleeve that when removed reveals a flawless Ecuadorian sun-grown Rosado wrapper.

The cigar toasted and lit perfectly. Richard commented that the cigar had a very "Cuban-like aroma." I agreed, and once the cigar got going, I thought it had a very "Cuban-like" flavor, too. The smoke was thick, creamy, and robust; medium to full in body, dominated by flavors of aged cedar laced with sweet tobacco notes. I paired it with Offley's Reserve Tawny Port, which helped bring even more of the cigar's flavor into focus. I think we lit up at about 8:15, and the King B was still going at about 10:45, without a relight.

I don't normally smoke tapered head cigars because I've found a lot of them to be a bit finicky in terms of their burn and draw, but this King B was absolutely magnificent. At about $6.75 a cigar, considering the size, flavor and all the time it afforded me to enjoy it, the Chateau Fuente Sun Grown King B is well worth it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

G.A.R. Cigars by George A. Rico

By Gary Korb

A few weeks ago at the Famous Smoke Shop Cigar Expo & BBQ Bash, I was interviewing George A. Rico from STC Cigar Manufacturers in his booth. If you don't know George by name, then you may be familiar with his Gran Habano cigars or highly-rated 3 Siglos cigars that he created. I've been singing the praises of his cigars ever since I made the Gran Habano Connecticut #1 Gran Robusto one of my regular morning cigar favorites.

When I asked George what he had planned for the upcoming IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas this summer, he handed me a large unbanded cigar that he called "the gar." Actually, it's spelled G.A.R., which cleverly represent George's initials.

Today I finally got around to smoking my first G.A.R. and it was extremely memorable to say the least. When I went to the G.A.R. cigars website to look up the size of the sample he gave me, I found the names of the four sizes in the line (Rico Grande, Corona Gorda, Gran Consul and Robusto Grande), but no measurements. By my measurements the cigar was a 6" x 52, so I’m not sure what name the shape matched up to.

The pre-lit flavor was semi-sweet and leathery. Once lit, the cigar drew perfectly and gave off a wonderful aroma, too. It started out medium-bodied. The smoke was very creamy, earthy and dominated by a mix of well-rounded aged oak and sweet cedar flavors. It burned perfectly, too, and as it entered the third act the flavors really came alive evolving into a full-blown, robust cigar that stayed smooth and never turned bitter or overpowering even down the last inch.

Based on this sample alone, I think George is on his way to achieving another "outstanding" cigar line.

More to come from Vegas when I'll get to try another G.A.R.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bits & Pieces

While I was away last week the news emails piled up. As I was going through them I came across a few nuggets I thought might be of interest to you.

The Cigar Jack Show
If you like cigars and a talk radio format, then you'll enjoy "The Cigar Jack Show, "which was recently launched at CigarJack.net. Hosted by Jesse Nachtigal, the podcast is very professionally done and informative. Check it out and listen to the first episode.

New Lancero cigar from La Aurora
Cigar Aficionado's David Savona recently reported on the new Aurora Preferido Lancero. Limited to a run of only 40,000 cigars, the Lanceros are rolled to a 6 7/8 x 40 and made with the same blend used in the Aurora Preferido Cameroon cigars. To read the full-story click here.

Morton's Steakhouse Dinner
This is more of a local story, especially if you live in the Reston, Virginia area, but if you like cigar dinners, you may be interested in the "Cut and Taste" event that will take place on Monday, July 21 at Morton’s The Steakhouse at the Reston Town Center. It all starts at 6:00 P.M. The cost for the five course dinner, which includes Morton’s signature cuisine paired with fine wines and premium Paul Garmirian Cigars, is $220/person. For more information visit the Morton's Reston website and click on the "Special Events" tab.

Rocky Patel Cigars Dinner
And speaking of cigar dinners, if you live in the Lehigh Valley region of Eastern PA and Western NJ, how about this Rocky Patel Dinner coming up on Friday, September 12, 2008. Starting at 7:00pm, Famous Smoke Shop will welcome the hardest working man in the cigar business, Rocky Patel, for an evening of fine dining and even finer cigars. The event is going to be held at Silver Creek Country Club in Hellertown, PA, and the $125/person price includes some of Rocky's best cigars, an awesome six course meal, four glasses of wine, and a great time with Rocky. For reservations, please call 610-599-8800.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A cigar that's not on my "A" list

By Gary Korb

Well, I'm back from my vacation, and as mentioned in my last posting, I brought 12 excellent cigars with me, and can you believe it?. . .I didn't even get to smoke all of them. Driving from the Lehigh Valley to North Carolina, then two days later down to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and all the way back again, I think I spent more time in the car than I did out of it. The only upside to that, besides the fact that my kids behaved themselves for the most part was, I was able to buy most of my gas at under $4/gallon.

I do want to mention one cigar-smoking experience I had while visiting my friend Benn and his family in Myrtle Beach. About four years ago he hooked into a couple of boxes of the 9¼" x 47 Cuban Montecristo A's. Benn doesn't smoke cigars. He bought a box for his brother, who happens to be an avid cigar smoker, and kept the second box for friends like me.

I had completely forgotten about them since he'd moved away two years ago, but when I walked into his house, a humidor on one of his shelves immediately caught my eye. Curious to see what was inside I opened it up and there they were - the A's - about six cigars left, too. I checked them and they still felt pretty fresh, so after dinner Benn poured a couple of glasses of The Glinlevit and we partook out by the pool.

Truth be told, the cigar had that nice dark, earthy Cuban Montecristo flavor, but on the downside, virtually no draw whatsoever. I must have tried every way possible to get it to draw, but even though I somehow managed to smoke it down to about the 4-inch mark, I'd be lyin' if I said I enjoyed it. I should have gone back into the house and broken out the Perdomo Habano Toro Maduro cigar from my travel case.

And so it goes...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My Weekend Cigar: Tempus "Genesis" and nub Connecticut "460"

By Gary Korb

Because I was working at the "Famous Smoke Shop Cigar Expo & BBQ Bash 2008" this past weekend (June 7 & 8), I was fortunate enough to receive samples of several new cigars. Two standouts I happened to come by were the new Alec Bradley Tempus "Genesis," a 5½" x 42 Corona, and the portly little nub Connecticut "460."

I smoked an Alec Bradley Tempus "Genesis" Friday night and was immediately impressed with this cigar. It really is a beautiful looking cigar, too. The seven-year aged Criollo wrapper is and even, dark-chocolatey color with an oily patina.

From some of the reviews I had read so far, I expected this Corona to be much spicier. It did have some kick to it, but it was exceptionally smooth dominated by dark, cedary, and toasty tobacco flavors with a subtle sweetness on the finish. The smoke was also amazingly consistent. Sometimes a Corona can turn hot on you late in the smoke, but the cigar stayed true down to the 3/4-inch mark when I finally put it down. If full-flavor's your thing, I highly recommend this cigar. For what it's worth, the Tempus Genesis also scored a "90" in the May 20th issue of Cigar Insider. Now I know why.

On Saturday night I tried one of the trendy new nub cigars from Oliva. The nub Connecticut "460" has an attractive blonde Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper that's exceptionally smooth and silky in feel. I like wide-ring cigars, yet despite its short length, it felt balanced in my hand.

As advertised, they sure packed a lot of tobacco inside this 4" x 60 number. The all-Nicaraguan filler and binder blend offered rich, earthy flavors laced with sweet cedar and delicate notes of spice on the finish. The smoke was exceptionally creamy, medium-bodied, and smoked coolly. The cigar also burned perfectly. I really enjoyed it, and look forward to trying the nub Cameroon next.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Retro Smoke: La Fontana Galileo


By Gary Korb

This week's selection is about as "retro" a cigar as it gets for me. This morning, I was at the Riverview Country Club in Easton, PA where Camacho Cigars are hosting the second annual "Camacho Cup" golf tourney, which is part of Famous Smoke Shop's Cigar Expo & BBQ Bash 2008 weekend.

I was out on the course shooting some video of the golfers, when I ran into Camacho sales rep, Joe Holtman. He was driving around in a golf cart checking on the tournament and making sure the players were well-stocked with cigars. He came along just in time, because I needed a ride back to the clubhouse so I could pick up my car and get back to the office. Naturally, he offered me a cigar, and I noticed he had a box of La Fontana Vintage cigars with him - Galileos to be exact. I said to him, "Man, I haven't smoked one of these in I don't know how long."

Once I got back to the office I fired it up. I'd forgotten that La Fontanas, like Baccarat cigars (also made by the Eiroa's), have a lightly sweetened cap. The La Fontana Galileo is a 5 x 50 Robusto. The draw was completely effortless. Once lit the smoke flowed like fresh cream revealing earthy-nutty and sweet cedar flavors with just a smidgen of spice on the finish. I had it with a cup of freshly ground Nicaraguan coffee - a nice complement to this mild to medium bodied cigar.

It's funny, how sometimes when you go back to a cigar you haven't smoked a while, how much more you appreciate it. I can easily recommend this cigar to anyone who's new to premium cigars, as well as more seasoned cigar smokers who want a reasonably-priced cigar with a pleasant little kick.

I'm glad Joe came along. He not only saved me a very long walk, he helped get my weekend off to a great start.

Monday, June 2, 2008

My Weekend Cigar: Cuvée 151 Robusto

By Gary Korb

Last month Mike and Joe Chiusano, along with J.T. Guagliardo of Cusano Cigars, paid a visit to Famous Smoke Shop to introduce some new cigars that they've added to their product line. These included the newly blended Cuvée Rouge and Cuvée 151 cigars, plus two new Cusano cigars: the Cusano Habano LXI Sun Grown and the Cusano 59 Rare Cameroon. (All of these cigars should be arriving at cigar stores shortly.)

This weekend I decided to smoke the Cuvée 151 Robusto after dinner, which consisted of Portuguese-style barbequed ribs and yellow rice. The cigars are so-named for the highest proof liquor sold in the U.S. Like all Cuvée cigars, only the top 10% of prime Dominican longfiller tobaccos harvested are used in this blend, and the wrapper on the 151 is a gorgeous Brazilian Maduro. But despite the origin of its name, this 151 Robusto was in no way overpowering.

The cigar had a nice heft to it; well-packed, with a nice cap, easy draw, and a woody, pre-light taste. Once lit, the cigar offered lots of creamy smoke dominated by strong cedar and oak flavors with a hint of anise. The smoke was medium-bodied at the start, then built to a more full-bodied smoke in the last third. Every so often I'd pick-up an appealing wisp of cocoa in the aroma, too.

I paired the cigar with a Tria 2002 Syrah, a hardy Californian with a nice body and a peppery finish. It complemented the flavors in the cigar perfectly. Next time, I'd like to try a 151 with a good Port, just to see how my palate would react to the cigar with something a little sweeter.

The cigar smoked smoothly, remaining consistent in deep, woody flavors throughout, and reminded me of a Davidoff Millennium Robusto, particularly during the last act, when the flavors were at their peak.

Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable cigar. Highly recommended.