Brand evangelist, digital marketer, cigar and spirits expert specializing in consumer tasting and educational events. Matthias made the long trek from his hometown of Portland, Oregon to New York City in 2007, and in nine years has hosted more than 120 events and helped promote and launch dozens of cigar and whiskey brands in the U.S. In 2016, he joined the Cigar Journal Tasting Panel, blind-reviewing pre and new release cigars.
The past few years have seen a wave of new lounges opening (Caballeros, Maraya, and Diamante’s to name a few), each lounge adding its own unique touch to the New York cigar scene. Still, options are few when it comes to finding a good place to smoke during the cold winter months, so the addition of a new establishment is always exciting.
That said, I am pleased to announce that New York City cigar enthusiasts are gaining another shop to buy and smoke cigars. The newest addition to the New York City smoking lounge family is Refugio Cigar House, located in Brooklyn just off of the L, or G train at the Lorimer St. stop. The lounge boasts plenty of space, member humidors, and its own line of cigars (which I have yet to taste). Mike Lopez, a good friend of mine, is the owner of the establishment. In early January, I was able to take a look at the shop before it was renovated. There wasn’t much set up, but I did notice that the shop is at a great location, and that the high ceilings should make for a really great atmosphere.
Refugio Cigar House will be officially open for business next week. However, this Saturday (the 22nd) at 6:00pm – 11:00pm, Refugio Cigar House and FineTobaccoNYC are throwing a grand opening party. All FineTobaccoNYC readers are welcome to attend.
There will be great attractions at this event! You can find all of the details by clicking on the link below:
Some cigar smokers swear that Cuban cigars are the best in the world because of the amazing Cuban soil. Others say that Cubans are all hype and that they are just status symbols for posers. What do you think? Do you have a favorite Cuban? Have you been disappointed?
While I was home for the holidays, a good friend of mine gave me a handful of cigars to taste and review. The Diamond Crown Robusto #3 that you see above is one of them. You may not have heard of Diamond Crown, but it is, in the words of its Public Relations officers, a “super-premium cigar.” I’d describe the production background of this cigar, but the Diamond Crown website does it better than I could with my limited knowledge. The website says that “Diamond Crown cigars are handmade by the Fuente family with an exclusive Connecticut Fermented Wrapper (CFW) selected from the highest grade of silky, smooth, Connecticut Shade leaves. Unlike almost all other wrappers that are fermented once, Diamond Crown’s CFW wrapper is fermented twice to develop a light rosado color and Diamond Crown’s sweet, smooth, rich flavor.”
I smoked this cigar late Sunday night at Velvet Cigar Lounge, located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side on 7th St. between 1st and 2nd Avenue.
Wrapper: Connecticut Shade-Grown
Appearance & Construction:
The light brown wrapper is very smooth and slightly oily. Veins are very minimal, and the gold, maroon, and white band is attractive. The draw is perfect, and the cigar is firm but springy to the touch. Not a lot of smell off of the wrapper, and hints of grass and woodiness off of the foot.
Taste & Smoking Characteristics:
The cigar opens with notes of woodiness, some grass, and faint sweetness. About an inch in, a slight savoriness enters the mix. The cigar produces an adequate but not ideal amount of smoke, but I’m guessing that will correct as I work through the cigar. About 25 minutes smoking proves the prediction true. The ash is light grey and the burn stays razor sharp throughout the smoke. At about two-thirds, the sweetness disappears almost completely, leaving very mild flavors of grass and natural tobacco. The final third picks up the body of the smoke as well as the sweetness. Watch out for the last inch or so, the heat might pick up quickly.
At $13 a stick, this cigar isn’t cheap. Still, it is an excellent smoke, and because I don’t usually dwell in the land of mild and smooth cigars, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this smoke to someone looking to purchase a quality cigar. This stick actually reminds me a bit of the Don Diego Playboy, though it is in my opinion more well-balanced.
About a week before I took the plane home for Christmas break, a good friend of mine handed me a rather mysterious looking cigar and said “tell me what you think.” Seeing no brand on the label, I asked what the cigar was and he told me “just smoke it.” Well, I did smoke it, and later I found out that the beautiful cigar above is a “Red Q Vintage” from Q Cigars. That’s important information, because this is a high quality cigar that I have no problem recommending if you have a few extra bucks to drop on a cigar.
I smoked this stick a few days after returning home to Portland, Oregon. Unfortunately, due to smoking laws, it isn’t much easier to find a place to smoke there, but my neighbor did me a favor and let me smoke on his backyard porch. For the smoke, I paired with the cigar a glass of Jack Daniels Single Barrel Whiskey. A few minutes in to the smoke, my neighbor Andy came out and caught sight of the camera I was using for the shots, (a Nikkon Rebel t1) and he decided to bring out a few items you’d never find in New York City. Scroll down to find out what they are!
Specifications for this cigar are unavailable.
Appearance & Construction:
The rich brown wrapper smells of natural tobacco, with the foot offering a scent of granola reminding me of hiking out in the Cascade Mountains. The pre-light draw reveals hints of woodiness, spice, and sweetness. The cap also has a taste of sweetness to it that is easily noticaeble, and has me wondering whether Q Cigars has added artificial sweetness to the cap (that would be unfortunate). Luckily, the sweetness on the tip disappeared. The cigar is packed perfectly, there is an oily shine on the wrapper and the cigar is springy but firm when pressure is applied. There are a few fairly noticeable veins, as well as two minor imperfections on the cigar, but at this point in my inspection I just want to smoke this gorgeous cigar.
Uh.. is that a gun? (scroll down to the bottom)
Taste & Smoking Characteristics
This cigar opens up with notes of coffee, creme, and a bit of sugar, reminding me of my normal morning brew. The draw produces a substantial amount of white smoke that lights up beautifully in the sunshine. I find it interesting that the smoke off of the foot of the cigar is not harsh as is normal with most cigars – it has a scent which is creamy with hints of coffee and cocoa beans. So far, very good. Ash is a salt and pepper mix. At about two thirds, the cigar becomes more rich, full, and smooth – a really great movement. The final third brings in a spice that mixes well with the creaminess. The last inch settles down a bit, the burn remains razor sharp, and I put the cigar out only after almost burning my fingers.
I would rank this cigar in my top ten for 2010. At about $10 ($185 for box of 20), this cigar is a pretty average cost boutique, though I suspect it is more expensive in store. In any case, I’ll be having another sometime (hopefully soon). Check out Q Cigars at their store in the Financial District, or on their website.
Final Grade: A
Here are a few more pictures I took after my neighbor offered up a few more props for the cigar shots. Some of which are hot!
I would be lying if I said that I reviewed this cigar tonight because I’m behind on my reviews (although I am). I decided to review this cigar because, all joking aside, I was really, really excited to smoke this cigar. A few weeks ago I ran into Barry from acigarsmoker.com, and he gave me some pretty glowing remarks on the new La Sirena line. So, when I found a few of these sticks in the mail when I returned from my Christmas travels, I dropped everything, even postponing cleaning my apartment (pretty impressive, huh?) to smoke this stick.
Part of the Miami Cigar portfolio, La Sirena cigars are a result of the masterful blending technique of Don Pepin Garcia of My Father cigars, and the new cigars were well accepted at ICPCR. On hand with this smoke was a glass of cognac, music from Pink Martini, Melody Gardot, and Coldplay. I also brought along a copy of one of my favorite books, Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton (take a week and give this book a read – it is well worth it).
Specifics: Size: 5 x 50 (The Prince)
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Binder: Nicaraguan Filler: Nicaraguan
Appearance & Construction:
Wow! What a label! It easily takes up half of the cigar and features an oceanic theme with a silver mermaid, an anchor on top and a helm on bottom. Attempting such a daring theme for a label could have been dangerous, but the designers at Miami Cigar pulled it off well. On an unrelated note, I am also a big fan of the name of this particular cigar, only because it is named after one of my all-time favorite works of political philosophy by one Niccolo Machiavelli. But to get back on track: the Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper is a gorgeous, well textured dark brown with minimal veins and clean lines – well put together. The foot of the cigar smells faintly of berry granola, natural tobacco, and a good deal of spice. The draw was excellent, and I couldn’t wait to light this cigar up.
Flavor & Smoking Characteristics:
The first puff of this cigar told me that this was going to be a truly special stick. The taste was flavorful, complex, with dark chocolate, coffee, and a hint of spice taking the spotlight. These flavors were accented with a savory aroma. I’m not sure it is an accent I liked, but I was sure willing to investigate further after such a great opening. About half an inch in, I picked up a bit of leather which is a nice addition, and the savory aroma moved more to mirror the taste – dark chocolate and leather – a bit more enjoyable. I really enjoyed the richness of this cigar. The smoke was smooth and sweet, the burn was great, and the smoke stayed cool. A great combination.
At around 2/3, I turned the lights off and enjoyed the complex flavor and aroma of the cigar. Pink Martini playing in the background was a perfect compliment. I can’t say that I was taken to an underwater wonderland (that wouldn’t jive well with the physics of smoking a cigar), but in any case it was a great place to be. The more I think about it, actually, the more this cigar reminds me of one of my all times favorites, the Casa Magna Colorado (the Cigar Aficionado 2008 cigar of the year). Both cigars have impeccable construction, weigh well in the hand, and generate ultra-complex flavors. At the last third, the spice picked up a bit, and unfortunately so did the heat of the smoke. The cigar was enjoyable down to the end, but wasn’t quite how I would have liked it to end.
I’ve got to agree with Barry’s review of this stick and say that it is simply a stellar smoke. This La Sirena cigar is complex, full bodied, and has a great flavor profile. The construction is great too. The only complaint that I have is that at a few points the savory aroma became a bit too prominent and (to me at least) threw the balance of the cigar off. Even in light of that, I enjoyed this cigar immensely and was sad when the smoke ended. I’ll definitely be buying more of these in the future and recommend you to do the same.