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Cigar Review: Shady Moose Toro

June 1, 2023 By Kevin Acuff

Did you hear? The Moose is loose! Well the latest cigar in General Cigars value line “Moose” series cigar is at least.  Originally part of Foundry cigars, the Chilin Moose was released in 2014. The three sizes of the cigar, with a Connecticut Habano wrapper, Ecuadorian Sumatra binder, and fillers from the DR, Mexico, Nicaragua, and the US took off like a herd of moose charging across the Alaskan tundra with its sub $4.00 price point

The original was followed up by the Chillin Moose Too in 2016. Six years later, after the Moose line become part of General’s lineup after the sale of Foundry to Kretek, we saw the all-Nicaraguan big ring Bull Moose line.

Now in 2023, we find the first shade-wrapped version of the cigar, aptly named Shady Moose.

John Hakim, brand manager of Chillin’ Moose, in a press release, said. “With Shady Moose, we built a great, anytime, anywhere blend that takes the smooth-smoking properties of a Connecticut Shade cigar and amps it up with the right amount of complexity and spice, and we didn’t stop there. We added in the cool Moose imagery and locked in an unbelievable price point. Now we’re waiting for Shady Moose to take a run at the internet, just like Bull Moose did last year. We’re ready for it. The question is…are you?”

Under the Lid

Let’s look under the lid of this latest release and see what makes this Moose roar!

Available in three sizes, and manufactured at STG Danlí Honduras, it uses an Ecuadorian Connecticut shade wrapper over a Mexican binder with fillers from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and the United States. Shady Moose is offered in three sizes, including a toro.

  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut

  • Binder: Mexico

  • Filler: Columbia, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and the United States

  • Vitola: Toro 6 x 52 $4.99 (Box of 20 $99.80)

  • Factory: STG Danli

  • Release Date: March 1, 2023

  • Number of Cigars Release: Regular Production

  • Number of cigars smoked for this review: 3

As far as curb appeal, the presentation of this cigar is excellent. Seeing the photos does it no justice, as the bright yellow band literally jumps into your hand from the equally bright yellow box as you are perusing the humidor.

Underneath the eye-catching band, the wrapper of the cigar is a nice caramel tan, with just the slightest amount of oil, quite a few raised veins running throughout, and very cleanly done almost invisible seams. The cigar definitely does not look like a budget cigar on initial inspection. It has the slightest amount of give from foot to cap and no noticeable soft spot on any of the three cigars smoked for this review. The construction seems very consistent

The aromas from the foot are well pronounced, with hints of fresh baked bread, peanut shells, and a little bit of hay. The pre-light draw, which is surprisingly good for a value line cigar, is primarily the same as the aroma from the foot but it has a bit of Nilla wafer cookie with an almost whipped cream creaminess to it without the sweetness.

Performance Notes:

First third: Starting off, a solid pepper blast lets me know that this cigar is blended to follow the trend of amped-up, “not your father’s” Connecticut cigars. The pepper fades after the first few puffs, but not significantly. There are solid notes of toasted bread, peanut shells, and saltine crackers, all brought together with an underlying creaminess on the finish. Burn early on is wavy but acceptable and the draw is spot on. There is a solid cabinet spice component to the retrohale, mostly cinnamon, and nutmeg, with a very smooth white pepper on the finish. Strength is mild early on, while the body hits in the medium-full range. There is quite a bit going on flavor wise as well, putting complexity in the medium-full range as well.

Second third: This portion of the cigar has buttered toast as the primary flavor component, while the peanut shells and saltine crackers fade, remaining barely detectible. Damp hay starts to edge into the profile a little while later, along with some cedar and dry almost “dusty desert-like” earth which I cannot recall experiencing ever before. The
cabinet spices in the retrohale have turned more to black pepper, along with what I would describe as a mineral/floral finish. Burn and draw continue to perform right up to the time to remove the band. Strength, body, and complexity all remain the same.

Final third: This is where I am able to tell this is a budget cigar. The bread and cabinet spice notes that were the start of the show fade in dramatic fashion. It is almost like smoking an entirely different cigar. There are notes of campfire, leather, and earth, with a little bit of stone fruit, and quite a bit of black pepper. The entire cigar turned bitter, with quite a bit of harshness to it. This is actually surprising considering how the cigar had performed up until this point. I thought I might have smoked it a little too fast on the first sample but this was present throughout the samples. Burn and draw continued performing to the end. Strength ended up in the upper end of the medium range, not quite medium-full, while body and complexity remained unchanged all the way to the end.

Core flavors throughout the smoking experience were buttered toast, peanut shells, saltine crackers and cabinet spices.

  • Strength: Medium

  • Body: Medium-Full

  • Complexity: Medium-Full

Smokin Experience:

Ok, color me impressed. This cigar exceeded my expectations. I was not a huge fan of the original Chillin’ Moose or Chillin’ Moose Too cigars. I have yet to smoke the Bull Moose. This cigar was a surprise. I am fairly confident I could take the band off and give one of these to one of my experienced aficionado friends and there is no way they would believe this is a sub $5 cigar. Up until the end of the cigar, it was punching way above its weight class! This is definitely a cigar that will be a regular resident in my humidor and there is no fear in handing one to smokers from any experience level when you have company over.

Smokin Facts:

-According to General Cigar, this is the first time a cigar in the Moose line has been available in the Toro vitola

-When Foundry was sold to Kretek in 2018, General held onto the the Moose line

-Moose creator Michael Giannini now works for Quality Importers

-Shady Moose is distributed by Forged Cigar Company, owned by the Scandinavian Tobacco Group

Additional vitolas available:

  • Robusto 5 1/2 x 50 — $4.79 (Box of 20, $95.80)

  • Gigante 6 x 60 — $5.49 (Box of 20, $109.80)

Smokin Wrap

Cigars smoked for the review: Three

Average smoking time: 1:50

Score: 85

Kevin Acuff was born and raised in Northeast Ohio. Growing up in a rural area, he was able to indulge in some very exciting life experiences at a young age. He acquired his private pilot license before he had a driver’s license, spent several years on the competitive bass fishing tournament trail, and even spent a couple of seasons racing motorcycles. In 2001 he relocated to Las Vegas, spending the better part of the past 20 years working in the sign industry.

It was one of those industry trips, back in 2014 that changed his life for good. His boss handed him a Siglo V and an instantaneous bond was formed. He has spent countless hours since then learning as much about cigars as time would allow. This has resulted in a private collection of cigars that would rival some smaller retailers. Being inquisitive and not afraid to ask questions resulted in being blessed with several opportunities to experience the industry from all angles. Kevin is a regular attendee at the trade shows, has some firsthand experience on the media side, and is a familiar face to many at consumer events throughout the country.

He is married to Barbara, who shares an equal love of the leaf. When they are not in their private lounge enjoying a cigar, they are either in the backyard playing with their fur kids or out exploring the back roads in the Wild West on one of their Harleys.

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