The Cigar & Spirits Magazine offers a tasting membership, and my wife ordered their five pack of 90+ rated cigars a couple of months back. I’m not certain if this is a recurring program or not, the magazine is bi-monthly (six issues a year), and I haven’t gotten another shipment (or charge) since the initial shipment. I guess we’ll see what happens! The package I did receive last July, came in a humidor bag with a Boveda pack and a little vial of polymer beads, and seemed to be in good shape. I placed the bag, opened, in the drawer of the NewAir CC-100 humidor and got sidetracked with IPCPR samples and other things. This week I decided to smoke them up and include them in a mid-week post. Please note that this was purchased with no promotional consideration by the magazine whatsoever.
The club selections included three cigars I hadn’t smoked before: A Swag S Ego Grande 6½” x 60, a Falto Seleccion Especial Corona Gorda 5¾” x 48 and a Southern Draw Firethorn 6″ x 52. There was also an AJ Fernandez New World Navegante 5½ x 55 and an East India Trading Co. Red Witch Robusto 5″ x 52. I thought it was a very nice selection for $35, although I didn’t go to the trouble of looking up the values, although I know the New World and Red Witch are closer to the $5 price point. That’s not to say that they aren’t great cigars, just that they are reasonably priced. I chose the Falto first as it was the least familiar to me. Apparently this cigar is Falto owner Luis Juan Falto’s preferred cigar, and it was a very nice smoke. It has a Dominican wrapper, Sumatra binder and fillers from Brazin and the D.R. It’s funny how years ago an Indonesian wrapper (or binder) seemed to be the mark of an inexpensive cigar (and one I never cared for personally) and not calling it Sumatra makes it OK, much like Mexican used to be reviled, and now San Andrés is primo. I digress. The Falto Seleccion Especial was a great size, had a nice, clean and sweet flavor that was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. OK, I can see that it would be rated in the 90s. I followed that up on Sunday evening with the New World, which is a great cigar at a great price. Abdel and his dad, Ismael Fernandez, did a great job on this medium to full bodied cigar that is perfectly constructed. definite 90s material.
Monday I came home to a little package from Boutique Blends which contained a cool Xikar Xi1 cutter decorated with the Aging Room and Boutique Blends logos. This cutter has been all the rage fr how many years? 15? I’ve never owned one. I have a Xikar lighter, the XV V-cutter and the MTX scissors, which I love, but never got around to getting one of the nor iconic teardrop cutters. So, I figured I’d try it out on the Swag S Ego Grande. This cigar confuses me a little because I can’t find it listed on the companies website, and a search returns a bunch of references to the Swag S Maduro, which this did not seem to be at all. It looked like a Habano wrapper, milk chocolate in color, and really didn’t strike me as a maduro at all. Any help from the folks at Cigar and Spirits or my friends at Boutique Blends would be appreciated (in the comments of this post would be great!). I liked the cigar, it was really large, and took the better part of two hours to smoke, and the Xikar is sharp and gave a nice, clean cut as expected. It had a nice burn and draw, was pleasantly sweet and on the milder end of medium. I don’t know if this would be in the 90s for me personally, but that’s largely why I don’t do ratings as taste is subjective. Many thanks to the folks at Aging Room/Boutique Blends for the awesome cutter, it will get a lot of use!
Last night I selected the Southern Draw Firethorn Toro from the sampler, this is a brand I’ve heard about, but never seen in the wild. I’ll be honest, in the Southern Draw portfolio, this would probably have been my third choice after the Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapped Quickdraw and the Habano Oscuro Kudzu, but this Firethorn looked good. It’s got a ruddy Habano Rosado wrapper and binder and fillers from Mexico and Nicaragua. I would have done myself a disservice by passing this cigar up, had I had the choice. It smoked sweet and smooth and was quite satisfying. Great construction as one would expect from a cigar coming out of Tabacalera Fernandez. Oddly, the Texas based company’s founder, Robert Holt, has a connection to the area in PA where I live. I look forward to sampling more from Southern Draw as I manage to find some. If I were rating this it would be in the 90s for sure.
One cigar in the sampler left, and that’s the Red Witch from East India Trading Co. EITC is the budget branch of Gurkha, which I suppose if you go by the Gurkha cigars in the big catalogs, doesn’t make much sense. If you look at it from a brick and mortar side, with cigars like Gurkha Ghost, Cellar Reserve and whatnot selling in the 7-10 range, cigars like the Red Witch, Classic Cigar Havana blend and Rogue occupy the $4-7 price point, it makes more sense. This example smoked perfectly, as a matter of fact, I wish it had been longer. It has a nice leathery, woody flavor, and is a perfectly nice cigar, I can’t find fault. I would smoke these on a regular basis.
Overall, I think the Cigar & Spirits Magazine cigar club is a good value, and I’ll be interested to see if another installment shows up automatically, or if it’s a buy as you go sort of arrangement. My wife handled the whole transaction, so I really don’t know what to expect. I think it would be a neat idea for them to charge $40 bi-monthly and include the current issue of the magazine with the sampler, assuming the cigars in the club are rated in the issue. Given that the subscription rate is $19.99 for 6 issues/year, this would pay off for them. Just a thought. I liked that there were cigars that I haven’t smoked that I don’t see in my area, and the ones I was familiar with I liked. I wouldn’t be as pleased if I got five cigars I had smoked before, but I’m not the typical consumer. I have to admit that I’m only interested in half the content of the magazine, being a non-drinker. As always, your mileage may vary.
I’m off to the Baltimore area for a few days, I plan to pay a visit to The Humidour in Cockeysville on Friday, and Davidus in Ellicott City on Saturday. If you are in the area, look me up or drop me a note, I’ll be the guy smoking a cigar.
Until the next time,