Sunday, August 31, 2008

CAO L'Anniversaire Maduro (rothschild)

Photobucket

.

This morning I had the pleasure of smoking one of the best maduros I've ever tasted. The CAO L'Anniversaire Maduro rothschild is a convenient 50 ring gauge by 4 and 1/2 inches long. The cigar isn't much to look at with it's blotchy appearance and a wrapper seemingly cut too short, but it certainly tastes far better than it looks. The CAO website states that the cigar is wrapped with a rare vintage harvest Connecticut broadleaf wrapper, Ecuadorian binder and a filler consisting of Dominican and Nicaraguan tobaccos. They also say that this cigar is highly sought after for it's rare and luxurious taste. I can't help but agree with them on the taste.

.

The flavor is fantastic right out of the gate with hot cinnamon spice, roasted nuts, powdered mocha and caramel sweetness on the finish. The taste is smooth with no bitterness or harshness detected. The second third comes along quickly in this short cigar with more of the same great flavors of coffee, nuts, cinnamon with a sweet and peppery finish. The final third shows sweet roasted nuts that transitions into leather. I had to break out the toothpick to smoke this cigar right down to it's delicious nub.

.

The construction of this cigar is outstanding. The burn line was sharp and even. The ash was strong and compact and very attractive with the vein lines burning dark against a light gray background. I have a few pictures of standing the cigar up on it's ash and how it held up to almost three inches long.

.

Overall, I would definitely place this cigar high up on my list of favorite smokes. It ranges in price from $5 to $7 depending on where you buy it. I plan on buying a box of the rothschilds which is a great short smoke that packs loads of flavor with each draw. I guarantee you will not waste one inch of this cigar as long as you have some toothpicks handy. By the way, the rothschild size is the only size in this line that is not box pressed. Which may explain why the burn was so even throughout. I highly recommend this cigar for all levels of cigar smokers. It has delicious earthy flavors and just the right amount of sweetness and spice to keep you wanting more.




.
Photobucket




.
Photobucket




.
Photobucket

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Rocky Patel Old World Reserve Maduro (robusto)

Photobucket



.
This 54 ring gauge by 5 and 1/2 inch robusto is sharply box-pressed with a tie-dyed pattern of ebony maduro and reddish brown swirls. But there is nothing remotely "hippie" about it's refined flavor. It starts off with dark chocolate that transitions smoothly into rich leather and aged tobacco. The body is creamy with tasty sweet notes of caramel and molassas. The finish is marathon long. I picked this one up at a B&R for around $11, but I'm sure if you shop around you can find it for a few dollars cheaper. This cigar makes for a wonderful treat.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Miami

Photobucket

.

The La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Miami is a new cigar made at the El Credito Factory in Miami. It is a limited production cigar made by only ten rollers, unlike the regular La Gloria Cubana brands which are made in large quanities in the Dominican Republic. In that respect, it is a boutique cigar with expected maxium production levels of around 250,000 cigars this year. This cigar uses a Nicaraguan grown wrapper, Ecuadorian Sumatra seed binder and a filler blend of mostly Nicaraguan and some Dominican tobaccos.

.

There are five sizes available: Elegante (6 7/8 x 49), Campa Chica Torpedo (5 1/2 x 58), Sabrosos (5 1/2 x 52), Artesanitos (5 x 46), and Gran Corona Especial (6 x 54). So far I have smoked two of the Artesanitos. The prices range from $8 for the Artesanitos to as much as $13 for the Gran Corona Especial.

.

The cigar looks good and well constructed. I really like the vintage looking and understated cigar band. The only words on it are "La Gloria Cubana". No "handmade" or "Made in Miami" any where on it. The wrapper is slightly oily and reddish brown in color, along with some dark brown splotches all over. There are a few medium sized veins and I did catch sight of a large piece of stem when I clipped the cap, but nothing affected the burn overall. The draw was free with nice resistance on it.

.

The cigar produces a nice medium body of smoke. The flavor started off woody with some touches of spice. The finish was very clean and almost undetectable. I tasted an unusual "Ivory soap" like taste initially along with faint notes of coffee, but mostly the flavors were woody and toasty. The flavor intensity was really quite mild in my opinion. I almost thought I lost my sense of taste because the finish was so brief and clean. This cigar could easily be handled by a beginner because the flavors are so gentle. It's only until the last third that this cigar builds in intensity, but even then it was no higher than medium. Aged tobacco is the predominate flavor at the end. I think this would make a great morning cigar because of it's mild flavor and overall smoothness and lack of bite.

.

Overall, I personally find the price of $8 to be overkill for this mild corona sized cigar. It did burn evenly with a slight slant and seemed perfectly packed with no big construction flaws. But the flavors were just too subtle and nothing extraordinary, especially when I compare it to other little smokes with more complexity like the Bolivar Petit Corona (Cuba).

.

Brian from Stogie Review did a review of the churchill size and seems to favor the torpedo size which he also tried. Check out his review. Also, check out Stew's review (of the World According to Stew) of the Churchill. He had problems with the draw and burn and his overall impression was thumbs down.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tabacos Baez Monarcas

Photobucket

.

The Tabacos Baez is a wonderful new cigar brand by Don Pepin Garcia. It is named for the town that he was born. It is unique in that it is not a Nicaraguan puro, instead it uses an Ecuadorian Connecticut seed wrapper. The binder is Nicaraguan and the filler contains Nicaraguan long leaf tobaccos. There are only two sizes available currently, so I had to go against my usual small ring gauge preferences and chose the Monarcas, which is a hefty 52 ring gauge by 6 and 1/2 inches.

.

The cigar's construction is what you would normally expect from a Don Pepin cigar- triple cap and rolled with no noticeable flaws. The cigar feels really solid and smooth. It has a "paperbag" brown colored wrapper with a few medium sized veins and a slight oily sheen. The aroma of the cigar is earthy with a lightly floral scent and sweet and spicy aroma at the foot. This large cigar clips easily with a Palio cutter and the resulting draw was clear with slight resistance. Right away I could detect hot spices on my lips during the pre-light draw.

.

The cigar lit easily and evenly. The smoke was medium bodied and the flavors a bit "airy" in the beginning, which I expected from the large ring gauge. The first inch or so was mainly coffee, cinnamon, roasted nuts and just a smidgen of sweetness. The finish was peppery but not the usual scorching that Mr. Pepin is capable of. I was a little concerned that this was a "ho-hum" cigar in the beginning because the flavors were not complex nor rich. But then after the first inch, the cigar began to develop more richness. Smooth leather flavor and roasted nuts with nice warm spices began to dominate the rest of the cigar. I found it best to smoke this cigar slowly to really enjoy these flavors and to not allow the cigar to get bitter. The cigar stayed nice and cool throughout and I would have nubbed the cigar had I not cracked the wrapper while trying to spear it with a draw correction tool. (bummer!)

.

The cigar burned nice and even throughout. The burn zone was medium at first but then became sharper as I smoked the cigar down. The ash was compact and light gray in color. It held on well past the one inch mark until I was ready to tap it off.

.

Overall, I would say that this cigar performed well. It was not complex but the flavors were very enjoyable past the one inch mark. It's one of those cigars you just want to put your feet up and relax with while you ponder the meaning of life. In other words, it's soothing but it won't slap you out of your daydreaming with interesting transitions in taste. Still, if you like big size cigars that burn well with consistently good flavor this cigar is a must try. Prices range from $7.70 for the Monarcas to $8.10 for the Favoritas (belicoso).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Kristoff Criollo (churchill)

Photobucket

.

Here is still another Nicaraguan Habano Criollo wrapped cigar that I just adore. The Kristoff Criollo is a handsome 50 by 7 inch churchill with an Olor Cuban seed Dominican binder containing Olor Cuban seed Dominican and Nicaraguan filler tobacco. The wrapper is oily and sports a cute pig-tail cap and covered foot. It's reddish brown in color along with dark striations and splatters. It's rustic look goes well with it's cleverly designed vintage fabric looking cigar band.

.

The cigar feels packed full of tobacco and when I clipped it with my Palio, it gave me a perfect draw with nice resistance to it. The pre-light draw flavors showed spiked fruitcake while the cigar itself smelled of sweet cedar with notes of white pepper, floral aspects and mild cinnamon.

.

The cigar's shaggy foot lit easily and evenly. The body of the smoke was in the medium range with light medium flavors. You get a tasty woody flavor with nice sweetness on the finish. The characteristic Criollo flavor is there as well as some hints of cocoa powder. The spice is nice and mild and balances the cigar out perfectly. The flavors are pretty consistent throughout the first half of the cigar as it builds in richness. The body remains in medium but the flavor has nice subtle complexities. I can detect a floral quality, roasted nuts and leather coming through. The Dominican Olor gives the cigar a slightly dry finish that only water can quench. The final third is as smooth as the first two with rich leather, roasted nuts and pepper spice on the finish.

.

I love the easy way this cigar smokes. It burned perfectly straight throughout and formed a nice light gray solid ash.

.


Photobucket

.

The flavors are highly enjoyable and the spices not too extreme, so I think even beginners can enjoy this cigar as well. The Kristoff Criollo is available in three other sizes of stockier ring guages and is priced modestly at around $6.40 to $7.40 a stick. Kristoff also comes with a Brazilian maduro wrapper which is just as oily and scrumptious looking. I hope to eventually review that as well. Until then I'm going to continue to stock up on the Criollos and smoke them down to the nub!

.


Photobucket

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Viaje Delicado (toro)

Photobucket



.

The Viaje Delicado is as it's name seems to imply, "delicate". After having my taste buds bombarded recently by some very full flavored smokes, I was really enjoying the floral quality of this medium to full bodied cigar.

.

Viaje is a boutique cigar company which uses the same Tabacos Puros de Nicaragua factory as the makers of Joya de Nicaragua. I tasted my first Joya de Nicaragua cigar a few weeks ago when I was in Ocean City, Maryland and was really blown away by it's smoothness and great taste. So now, anything related to Joya de Nicaragua, I'm very anxious to try.

.

The Viaje lives up to it's company's philosophy of quality over quantity. I found no flaws in it's construction. It's Nicaraguan Criollo wrapper is nice and oily and exhibits a slight toothy appearance. The aroma is very pleasant with notes of cedar and earth and the foot of the cigar shows some floral character. The cigar feels nicely packed and the pre-light draw was a bit firm with notes of cedar and tobacco being detected.

.

The Delicado is a traditional 50 by 6 inch toro. This cigar is also available in four other sizes and ranges in price from $4.60 to $5.70. (My prices are based on the ones I found on Silo cigars website.) I truly feel you get your money's worth with this cigar.

.

The cigar starts off very nice with a sweetness and spiciness that lets you know you can relax and enjoy this one. It was also creamy and had a floral character which was really interesting. I've had Criollo wrapped cigars before like J. Fuego naturals and Defiance cigars. I think it's great how different blends can make the cigar taste so unique. What wasn't unique was the nice spice on the finish and the very distinctive "Criollo taste" which I am really starting to love.

.

The cigar burned fairly evenly throughout with a medium burn zone producing a flaky gray ash. The ash, while "soft" looking, actually held on well until I was ready to tap it off. The aroma of the smoke was pleasant and you get an overall good feeling when you don't have to fight with burn issues. The cigar had a nice medium body and medium level of flavor in the first half of the cigar. Then, towards the last third, it barely creeps over the line into full. The second third showed more complexity with the floral notes changing over into a rich Criollo tobacco flavor and slight coffee taste with a caramel and spicy finish. The spiciness took a nice upswing and you do get a little tickle to the back of the throat which was not harsh at all. Then the cigar exhibited a leathery body and continued getting richer along with a red wine finish, towards the last few inches remaining. The draw did get noticeably tighter in the last third and was starting to pick up some heat, so I laid it to rest with about two inches remaining.

.

Overall, I found this to be a very enjoyable cigar. I think it's smooth enough to be enjoyed at any time during the day and night. If you want to taste a nice balanced cigar with a Nicaraguan Criollo wrapper then I would highly recommend this cigar.

.

Note:

Kevin over at Silo Cigars tipped me off that some customers had problems with poor draws with the corona sized cigar known as the "Chico". He suggested trying the larger gauge cigars to lessen the chances of having this problem. My own observation is that you should try smoking the cigar even though the pre-light draw seems tight. When I lit up the cigar I found the draw was actually fine even though it had some resistance. I was still able to generate adequate amounts of smoke and enjoy the cigar. But, if you are really struggling with the draw and cursing the cigar, Silo, like all reputable cigar stores, will replace or refund you the cost of the cigar.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Esencia (Corona Gorda)

Photobucket


.

The Esencia cigar is yet another full flavored cigar coming out of this year's IPCPR show. I think that it is following in the footsteps of last year's successful new brand, Illusione. Like Illusione cigars, the Esencia is also a Nicaraguan puro. It uses what the makers call an "Old World Havana" blend of Criollo and Corojo tobacco for the fillers and binder. The wrapper is Nicaraguan Corojo. There are four vitolas available (belicoso, corona gorda, petite corona and robusto) and the prices range from $5.58 to $8 a cigar. They come packaged in boxes of 21.

.

The cigar is the creation of BOTL , suppliers of Palio cutters. I recently heard an interview done by Doc of Stogie Fresh with Marc Aub of Palio cutters. He explains that Esencia is Spanish for essence. Since the fall of 2007, BOTL/Palio wanted to create a cigar whose "essence" would be a throwback Cuban blend of the highest quality. (Very similar to Dion Giolitto's quest to create a throwback full flavored pre-Sandinista Nicaraguan cigar with his Illusione brand.)

.

I decided to try the corona gorda and petite corona sizes for this brand. After having smoked one of each, I decided that I much prefer the corona gorda size because it showed a better balance of flavors compared to the petite corona which had overwhelmingly strong burnt flavors. The corona gorda has a nice feel to it at 46 ring gauge by 5 and 5/8 inches. This cigar benefits well with extra filler and you may want to keep that in mind when you are ready to try it.

.

The cigar overall looks very attractive. It is neatly rolled and has a nice dark wrapper which feels smooth to the touch. The cigar band is simple yet elegant looking except for the cartoon-like white horses on each side of the name. One drawback I had was a small crack near the cap. As long as I kept it covered up when I took a draw, it posed no problem. The rest of my cigars did seem a little dry and some of them had problems with pieces of the wrapper splitting even though I placed them in my humidor as soon as I got them.

.

Examining the cigar, I could see that the ligero is distributed nicely in the center. The cigar has a nice earthy aroma and warm spices can be detected on the pre-light draw. The draw was free and clear with no resistance despite the cigar feeling nicely packed.

.

The initial flavors were similar to an Illusione cigar. It starts off with rich full flavors and a creamy full body. Charred wood and spice with pepper and cinnamon on the back end. There was a nice caramel sweetness and roasted nuts flavor as well. I thought the blend showed nice balance and smoothness. Eventually some rich leather flavor develops while still retaining it's sweetness. The heat tones down a bit in the second third but still remains spicy with cinnamon notes. The last third gets richer and earthier while the spice creeps up on you on the finish. The final stages are not as sweet and there is some bitterness as the cigar burns hotter.

.

The best part of this cigar was the nice easy draw and the thick plumes of smoke that is generated with each draw. I felt bad for my neighbor who was sitting outside the same time I was smoking this cigar. It just happened that he was downwind of my "mini smokestack". Hopefully he found the aroma to be pleasant.

.

The worse part of this cigar was the ash. It was flaky and dirty looking. (Sort of like the Alec Bradley Tempus) It didn't hold on very well and I wouldn't recommend smoking this cigar while driving unless you want to catch hot ash in your lap. I've heard that a pretty ash is reflective of the minerals contained in the soil. If so, this cigar definitely needs a good multi-vitamin.

.

Overall, the bottom line is the flavor and for the Esencia brand I will go against my preferences for thinner cigars and say that bigger is probably better to enjoy what this cigar has to offer. The petite corona was way too strong in burnt flavors. It had nothing in it to balance out the bitterness whereas the corona gorda was just fantastic in it's harmonious blend. The caramel sweetness worked well with the pepper spice to make this cigar interesting. It's earthiness and creaminess will satisfy all lovers of full flavored, full bodied cigars. I would definitely smoke this one again. Plus, it shows great aging potential if you have the patience to do so.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Gurkha Grand Age (Quickie Review)


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

.
This hefty 54 by 7 and 1/2 inch churchill has a pleasant leathery looking five year-old Cameroon wrapper, along with Nicaraguan and Peruvian longfillers and bound by a Nicaraguan binder. Priced at around $11 a stick, it makes for a nice special occasion smoke with it's smooth and consistent chocolatey and wheaty taste with some tart notes and a molassas sweet finish. This is one cigar whose flavors get better and better as you smoke it.
.
Recommend? Yes!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Legend Crusader

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting



.

The Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Legend is a brand new cigar from Honduras which is touted as the most full flavored of the Hoyo Excalibur line. It sports a beautiful and oily Connecticut Havana seed wrapper which is the same tobacco used as a binder in the Dark Knight. This cigar also contains the same Connecticut havana seed as a binder and a filler blend of mainland Nicaraguan tobacco, proprietary tobacco from Ometepe, and a Dominican ligero. This cigar comes in three sizes: The Crusader (45x5 and 3/4), Challenger (50x5 and 1/4), and Conqueror (54x6 and 1/4). The prices range from $6 to $7.50 a cigar or $135 to $150 for a box of 20.
.
I came across this cigar at my local B&M a couple of weeks ago when they just received their supply in. It looked amazing in it's cellophane and I knew that I had to purchase at least two to try them. I just recently smoked both of them and was just ecstatic about how well they tasted. So much so, that I sent my hubby back to the shop to pick up five more to keep in my humidor. Here is my review of the corona gorda Crusader:
.
After unwrapping the cigar from it's cellophane I couldn't help but admire the beauty and aroma of this cigar. The wrapper is a very oily and luscious deep reddish brown hue with a few medium veins. The cigar band is elegant and matches the cigar perfectly with it's dark red and gold accents. The aroma of the cigar is very earthy with notes of dark mocha and spice amidst it's rich compost scent. I couldn't wait to cut and light this beauty.
.
The feel of this cigar is very smooth like suede and quite oily to the touch. When I gave a slight pinch to the cigar, it felt hard and packed with tobacco, probably from the double wrap of Connecticut Havana seed tobacco. The pre-light draw was pretty firm yet manageable and it tasted of sweet and spicy tobacco. After lighting the cigar I was pleasantly surprised at the full body of the smoke being produced despite the tight draw.
.
The flavor of this cigar starts off hitting the full mark immediately. It has a nice richness to it that just grabs your attention. Sweet vanilla over cedar and espresso with a long lingering finish of balanced hot spices like Asian cinnamon. This cigar exudes elegance when you smoke it. What this cigar lacks in complexity it more than makes up for in it's consistent taste of rich chewy leather and spicy peanuts on the finish for most of the smoke. I experienced no bitterness with this cigar.
.
The burn characteristics were satisfactory. I did have to occasionally touch up the burn line but it wasn't anything drastic. The burn zone was nice and sharp as if applied by a pointy eye-liner pencil and blended ever so slightly. (I'm sure the women and a few Goth guys can relate to that description) The ash was tight and compact and very white. Many a cigar lover would appreciate the ash produced by this cigar.
.




Photobucket
white ash right down to the tasty nub..
.
Overall, I would say that this cigar is a strong contender for my favorite cigar of the year. It's a very nice full bodied and full flavored cigar which is smooth and well blended. I smoked both cigars down to the nub without experiencing any bitterness or harshness. The spicy finish should go well with your favorite red wine. If you happen to see this Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Legend at your local tobacconist pick some up. It is worth it and then some.





Monday, August 11, 2008

Rocky Patel Summer Collection (lancero)


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
.
With a name like "Summer Collection", you would think this cigar is catered to women. Believe me, we know all about seasonal collections when it comes to clothing, but cigars? That seems a bit unusual. But Rocky Patel has managed to come out with an unusual concept in his brand new Rocky Patel Seasons Collection. This line will have four unique blends corresponding to each season. I'm lucky to be living in a location where I actually experience all four seasons in a year, so I am curious as to how he envisions a flavor corresponding to each one.
.
The Summer Collection is the first blend to come out. It is composed of Nicaraguan filler tobacco from the three different regions of Condega, Esteli, and Jalapa bound by African Cameroon. The wrapper is Habano seed from Ecuador. This cigar is available in four different vitolas: a robusto (5x50), toro (6 1/2x 52), toro grande (6x58) and lancero (7x42). They retail for about $6.65 to $8.60 and are offered in boxes of 20.
.
My lancero looked "summery" enough with it's "earthy soil" colored wrapper which sported some hard veins and water spots. It would fit right in with the less than perfect looking produce I like to pick from my parents garden every summer. A vine ripened tomato with some blemishes on it still tastes better than an early picked tomato ripened in a grocery store bin. This cigar also tastes better than it looks.





.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
three tiny water spots
.
Before I get into the taste, I should also mention that the lancero has a Cubanesque look to it with it's straight layered cap with pig-tail twist. It has a spicy and earthy aroma with a slight floral hint. The foot smelled of a sweet dark tea. The cigar feels mostly soft with some firmness near the cap. The pre-light draw was a little firm for my liking and displayed some fruity tobacco notes.
.
This cigar actually showed some nice complexity early on. The initial flavors were a nice dark semi-sweet chocolate along with some noticable Cameroon spice and creaminess blended in. Next came some toasted hay flavor which makes you feel like you are down on the farm. The finish is toasty along with a citrus like acidity. The cigar eventually settles into a dark chocolate and leather body with a tea like finish that is short and clean. There are some traces of sweetness but it barely lingers and quickly fades away.
.
The second third develops a nice leather flavor sans any bitterness to take it over the edge. Slow patient smoking is key to enjoying the first half of this stick. Once again I tasted dark chocolate with a tea-like finish with some acidity on the end. The sweetness goes away and is replaced by a tasty roasted peanut flavor after a leathery intro.
.
The final third takes on a more savory character. The draw began to tighten up on me and I was struggling with having to re-light the cigar many times to get adequate smoke. However, I was still getting some nutty flavor with a much longer finish. I would best describe this cigar as being medium bodied and medium strength. The last 2 and 1/2 inches was a struggle as some unenjoyable bitterness crept in and took hold of the cigar. It would probably be best to end it right there lest you want to forget how great this cigar started.
.
Overall, I would say that I am impressed with the blend for the Summer Collection. I could tell that the blender really thought about the taste profile to characterize this season. After tasting this cigar, I am looking forward to trying the rest of the cigars in this line as they come out. I even like the design of the cigar band. It has a shiny aluminum foil like design with a pressing that looks like something you would see on the side of an ice cream truck. Maybe that's just me, but I like it. Great job Rocky Patel and company!


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Macanudo 1968 (robusto)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


.


As a cigar smoking novice, I never really went through a "Macanudo phase". Macanudo seems to be most known for their mild cigars. Now the company is trying to evolve into more richer and darker cigars. Their latest offering is called Macanudo 1968. It was created to celebrate Macanudo's 40 year legacy. If you go on their websiteyou can get three different vitolas of Macanudo 1968's for about $10 including shipping. I received the robusto, toro, and churchill size which normally would retail for about $28 all together minus shipping.


.


The robusto is the traditional 50 ring gauge by 5 inches. The cigar is composed of a Honduran San Augustin Havana seed wrapper, a Habano Connecticut binder and a filler of Dominican and Nicaraguan tobacco plus a proprietary tobacco from the volcanic island of Ometepe made exclusively for General Cigar.


.


The cigar looks fairly attractive with it's deep reddish brown wrapper and brand spanking new cigar band. No old school affiliations for the design of this band. It looks as shiny as a brand new Cadillac with it's bright gold and red accents over black and flat gold background. Upon closer inspection, the wrapper had some minor inconsistencies. There appeared to be a toothy portion up near the cap, while the area below the band looked smooth with a few medium veins. The scent of the cigar was consistently earthy on the wrapper and at the foot. The cigar felt nicely packed and after clipping with a cutter, the draw was firm but free. The pre-light draw exhibited a taste of sun-dried raisins.


.


The flavor of the cigar was pretty consistent and one-dimensional. You get some nice cinnamon spice initially along with a mild leather flavor. As you continue smoking, the leather flavor becomes more rich and chewy with a bitter and tannic finish. I found the bitterness to be a distraction in the enjoyment of this cigar. The leather flavor seemed overwhelming and the spice component was pretty mild. The body is medium to full and the strength a weak medium.


.


The Macanudo website says that the cigars are aged in tercios (thirds) and charcoal-ed wooden barrels to enrich it's flavor. My opinion is they should "char" less and do something to sweeten this cigar. Maybe some long resting time in my humidor will improve the taste of my remaining vitolas of Macanudo 1968s. The positive aspects of this cigar is it's burn quality. It burned mostly even and sharp and the ash is a really pretty light gray with intermittent layers of dark carbon streaks. The ash stayed nice and compact until I was ready to tap it off.



.



Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

As much as I want to love this cigar, (named for the same year as my birth) I find it difficult to justify spending $8.50 for a cigar with bitterness and no complexity. Unfortunately I can't honestly recommend this robusto. Hopefully the other vitolas will fare better with age. I will keep you up to date.

Camacho Corojo Cetros (lonsdale)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


.


Jesse, over at Cigar Jack, is running a sweet contest over on his website. It's called, "Show Us Your Camacho" and he lists the rules for entry which you can read here. The prize is a Camacho travel humidor and four each of four different brands of Camacho cigars. Wooooot! So get your entry in because the contest ends August 31.


.


I have to admit that I was once intimidated by Camacho cigars. My co-worker who loves strong cigars, is in love with the 60 by 6 Camacho Triple Maduro. He is a big strong guy and this cigar just brings him to his knees. That is enough to scare the heck out of me! But then I heard that Camacho uses an authentic Cuban Corojo tobacco in their cigars. A lot of cigar manufacturers call their cigars "Corojo" when in fact they are using a Corojo hybrid to ensure a tobacco free of blue mold which can destroy an entire crop. Camacho has found a way to grow authentic Corojo in the Jamastran Valley of Honduras and the Camacho Corojo cigar is actually a blend of 100% Corojo tobacco in the binder, filler and wrapper.


.


One thing you will notice about the Camacho Corojo is that it smells divine. The aroma is incredible! It smells as earthy as it looks. You get this nice rich spicy tobacco scent on the wrapper and at the foot it smells sweet and fruity. The lonsdale vitola is named "Cetros" and it measures a very comfortable 44 ring gauge by 6 and 1/2 inches. I love how this cigar feels in my mouth. I can hold it comfortably between my teeth and not feel like I need a dental suction instrument to keep me from drooling.


.


The wrapper on this cigar is "Cowboy" rustic. Deep brown as a twig and veiny, I felt the urge to put on my Frye's and some chaps. But it does feel smooth despite it's oily flecked appearance. The pre-light draw was free and the taste was like a spicy and sweet fruitcake. I detected a spicy tingle on my tongue.


.


After I lit the cigar and took a draw, I was wowed by the tangy Corojo flavor. It was rich and creamy and a whole heck of a lot better than any Corojo hybrid I've tasted. The first third showed a nice sweetness before a spicy lingering finish. The spice was not overwhelming but provided a nice tingle to your throat like what you get when you drink a strongly carbonated beverage. The second third was the pinnacle of the smoke. It developed a very smooth and rich leather taste. Ladies, it was like someone ground up a pair of Christian Louboutin minus the red dye and put it in the cigar. No joke, it was that good. The finish displayed a nice mouthful of roasted peanuts and spice.


.


The cigar burned fairly well. The burn line was mostly even and the only ugly thing may have been the ash. It was dark gray and flaky like baked southern biscuits from a can. It held on though, so I wouldn't worry too much about ash in your lap or on your keyboard.


.


Overall, I would say that this cigar is one I plan on keeping in stock for my humidor. It retails for about $6 a stick (at my local B&M) and I've seen it on-line for $92.95 a box of 20 with free shipping. This cigar is worth it. It smokes effortlessly and builds in body from medium to full. It is full flavored without any harshness or bitterness. I highly recommend it. It will make you a fan of Camacho if you aren't already.


.


By the way, Jesse mentions that if you get a cute girl to tattoo his logo or the Camacho logo somewhere on their body, it makes them an instant winner:




.



Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
I think social services would take issue with me tatooing my daughter...

.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Jesse- This should cover #'s 3,4, and 5. That nub is a Camacho Corojo by the way...

El Titan de Bronze Redemption Coronita (corona)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


.


El Titan de Bronze cigar company is based in Miami, Florida and located in the cigar mecca known as Calle Ocho in Little Havana. They have been in business since 1995 and currently employ eight rollers and one master blender. They produce 1000 cigars daily and plan on producing 35,000 Redemption cigars a year. Only 100 retailers will be offering this cigar. The brand name comes from a Cuban General named Antonio Maceo who was fearless in battle. He just happened to have skin the color of bronze and so was given the name El Titan de Bronze.


.


I want to thank Kevin over at Silo cigars for providing me with a sample of this cigar, please visit his website because he stocks some really fantastic cigars and if you don't see what you are looking for, give him a call because he probably has it in stock, just not posted on his website.


.


I am really such a fan of small ring gauge cigars. I try to stock up on coronas and lonsdales as much as possible because I find them to be very flavorful and doesn't take too long to smoke. The El Titan de Bronze Redemption corona which they call the "Coronita" is really one flavor bomb of a smoke. It measures 44 ring gauge by 5 and 1/2 inches and sports a beautiful deep reddish brown wrapper. It wasn't flawless however, the cigar I smoked for this review had one rough looking vein which traveled the length of the cigar. One spot along this vein tore a small hole in the wrapper but it was minor and didn't affect the burn at all. The cap on this cigar is triple layered albeit slightly uneven. The cigar feels a little soft but you get a nice free draw in return. I would rather have this than a plugged, packed cigar anytime.


.


The Redemption wrapper is from Ecuador and is a Sun Grown Habano. The binder and filler is from Nicaragua. When you light up this cigar and take the first puff, you can tell right away that it is a full flavored cigar. The smoke volume that it emits is tremendous and you get a nice big wallop of flavor each draw. The finish though is surprisingly clean and you don't get too much lingering residue of flavor. I tasted a really nice tangy wood flavor with a backbone of hot cinnamon spice. I don't normally blow smoke through my sinuses but I inadvertedly did and boy, what a searing blow! I found this cigar to be equally as smooth as it was powerful. The cigar eventually transitioned into a really tasty, spicy leather with some roasted macadamia nut flavor. The spice was pretty much consistent throughout and you get a nice tingle on your tongue and in the back of your throat. Nevertheless, it was never harsh and I even broke out my toothpick to nub this baby. The cigar, though not packed, still managed to remain cool throughout the smoke.


.


In closing, I would like to say that this cigar is worth every bit of it's $5.70 per stick price tag. I would highly recommend it to experienced cigar smokers. It burns well with a sharp and even burn line. The ash is light to medium gray and holds on despite it's flaky appearance. If you are a fan of spicy full-flavored cigars, then you should definitely give the El Titan de Bronze Redemption a try.

Cabaiguan (coronas extra)- Quickie


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

.


This coffee with cream colored cigar seems tailor made for smoking in the morning with your cup of joe. Rolled in Miami with an Ecuadorian Connecticut seed wrapper and Nicaraguan filler and binder, it exudes smooth coffee flavor with hints of cinnamon and a light honey-like sweetness. While lesser smokes finish with a mouth cringing bitterness, this one transitions nicely into a very tasty leather and warm spice finale.

Arganese Double Wrap (churchill)


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

.


Arganese is a new brand created in 2007 by Gene Arganese, a real estate developer who started out wanting to produce his own private-label cigars. He purchased a factory in 2005, and decided he liked the cigars being made so much that he wanted to start selling them in the open market. The increasing popularity of Arganese cigars demanded that a larger facility be obtained. So in March of 2008, the company moved to a larger facility in Tamboril, Dominican Republic. The new factory produces around 13,000 cigars a day and can hold up to 3 million cigars for aging. Arganese now processes their own tobacco using an experienced grower from Cuba to handle this operation.


.


So far I have only smoked one Arganese cigar and that is the Double Wrap Churchill. This cigar is attractively rolled using two types of wrapper leaf- a Brazilian maduro and a Connecticut shade wrapper. I especially liked the look of the well made striped cap on this cigar. The binder is Indonesian and the filler is from the Dominican Republic.


.


The wrapper on this cigar looked a little dry. When I compared it to the picture of the Double Wrap on the Arganese website, I thought my cigar looked more faded out, like a worn out pair of Levi's. The maduro section especially looked a little pale compared to the deep dark oily version on their website. I'm not sure how old my cigar actually was but when I tried to take a whiff of the wrapper and foot for scent, I barely detected any noticeable aroma. If I was blindfolded I probably would not know that I was smelling a cigar. This is definitely not good.


.


The cigar felt smooth and firm in the first half of this 7 inch Churchill, but loosely packed in the last half. I used a double guillotine cutter to take a small clip off the end. The draw felt really nice and I finally detected some flavor confirming that yes, this was in fact a real cigar in my hands. Lighting the cigar was easy and the initial flavors was quite pleasing. The cigar had a nice charred coffee taste along with a nice creaminess to it. I tasted some creamy hay and a touch of vanilla. Eventually I also tasted a paper-like flavor and bit of cinnamon. The cigar seemed really mild in strength and the body was also pretty weak. The second third showed more woody flavor and some slight bitterness. It was still creamy and coffee-like but I was starting to notice some mild white pepper and tobacco taste on the finish. The body of the smoke was really disappointing by being really wispy and weak. I was really dissatisfied with the mild flavor. The final third was mostly leather with a really bitter finish. I was finding it really hard to keep smoking it to finish this review.


.


When I asked about this cigar, I was told by one of the owners of the shop that the cigar would have problems with un-even burn. I actually didn't have that bad of a time with un-even burn. Maybe the dryness of the wrapper helped with that problem. Unfortunately, the flavor and body of the smoke was more of a disappointment for me. The cigar started off promising, with a really nice creaminess and tasty coffee flavor, but then the paper-like taste and notes of bitterness just lingered far too long. The draw produced a really weak body of smoke which was really annoying when you want more flavor development. This cigar just was not up to the task of satisfying a cigar lovers craving for richer flavors.


.


This cigar retailed for $6.95 a stick. I personally would not smoke this cigar again unless I got one that looked fresher and actually smelled like a cigar. Being that I smoked just one of these cigars for the review, there is always a chance that I got that one bad stick in the box. So I will withhold judgement on Arganese cigars in general, until I sample more in the future. The reviews I've read so far of other Arganese cigars, seem to indicate that my negative review is in the minority.


Sosa Wavell (robusto)


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

.


The patriarch of Sosa Cigars, Don Juan Sosa, had one of the largest tobacco producing haciendas in Cuba in the 1920's. Like many other cigar makers, he left Cuba with his family during the time of political unrest. That was in 1962. He decided to establish a cigar factory in Santiago, Dominican Republic along with operations in Miami, Florida. "Sosa" cigars was their first brand. Once made in Miami, it is now manufactured at the Fuente factory in the Dominican Republic. The natural version has an Ecuadorian Sumatra-seed wrapper, while the maduro is made with a Connecticut broadleaf.


.


The Sosa Wavell natural is a robusto measuring 50 ring gauge by 5 inches. The wrapper is like a brindle color consisting of a creamy light brown and reddish brown combination. The construction is sound on this neatly rolled and well packed cigar. The cap is a gorgeous with it's straight triple layers.


.


The wrapper itself has a slight coarseness to it. It has a network of veins like a complicated highway all throughout. But the neat construction of this rustic leaf lends it an air of dignity. The aroma of the wrapper is like rich compost, while the scent at the foot smells of sweet barnyard hay. The flavor of the pre-light draw is familiar and like dried prunes.


.


The pre-light draw can vary from firm to nice slight resistance, but I have yet to encounter a "plugged" stick in the bunch. The ash is strong and compact and is white to light gray in color. If a contest for longest ash is held, this is the cigar I'm taking with me. It's so perfectly rolled that I could probably smoke the entire robusto by ashing it once.


.


The flavor of this cigar has some unique qualities. It starts off tasting twangy and woody, like toasted hickory. The body is sweet cream with underlying milk chocolate revealed in the finish. Eventually you taste some vanilla spice and nutmeg worked into the creamy mix. At times, some bitterness rears it's ugly head when all you want to taste is some toasty wood or leather. If you allow the cigar to rest adequately you will get rewarded with some lovely rich leather and aged tobacco flavor.


.


Overall, I like this cigar as a nice change of pace from some redundant cigar flavors. It is a pretty damn good value at $75.50 for a box of 25 ($3.02/stick), considering it is made in the same Fuente factory that produces the Opus X. I think it's worth a try. It is medium in body and should be well tolerated by most levels of cigar smokers.


Arturo Fuente Don Carlos No. 3 (corona)


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

.


The Don Carlos line was named for it's creator, Don Carlos Fuente Sr.. It is made in Santiago, Dominican Republic with rare, hand-selected vintage tobacco aged up to ten years. The wrapper is Cameroon, the binder- Dominican, and the filler is all Dominican. The No. 3 is a corona with a 44 ring gauge by 5 and 1/2 inches long. They sell for about $7.75 a single.


.


The oily wrapper is medium brown in color with some dark brown mottling throughout. The wrapper does look veiny and you may find a few tiny water spots here and there. The cigar's appearance leads you to believe that it was rolled expertly. The cap and the wrapper has nice tight seams. However, upon further scrutiny, I did notice some unacceptable sloppiness for a pricey cigar. There were some glue remnants visible and some of the cigars were packed pretty tightly. The draw on my review cigar was just too firm to be enjoyable.


.


The flavor of this cigar started off with a woody tang. It then developed into a nice dark mocha flavor which had a tart acidity to it. Gradually some vanilla spice crept in but the cigar still tasted sharp with not much sweetness detected on my taste buds. The middle of the cigar showed some beginning signs of leather, and some roasted nut. There really was no peppery heat, just some mild spices in the background. The leather flavor continued to be amplified into a nice richness. But extreme care has to be taken to avoid overheating the cigar. Coronas can be tricky due to their tendencies to burn hot. That nice rich leather can easily tip over into burnt bitter coffee syrup if you aren't careful.


.


The strength of the cigar is medium to barely full. The finish is long and reminiscent of dark tea. The burn was adequate with a mostly even, sharp burn line and the resulting ash was a pretty light gray with pepper flecks which held on strongly until tapped off. The body of the smoke was medium and the resting smoke was quite profuse and smelled sharp and pungent.


.


So far I have smoked five Don Carlos No. 3's and I enjoyed all but one of them. The last cigar (the one for this review) seemed to be burning hot and had sharper and bitter flavors than the previous cigars. In fact, I had one this morning that did not taste bitter at all, and I was really looking forward to writing a great review of this cigar. Unfortunately, the last cigar and most mememorable had to be the worst of the bunch. But, for $7.75 a corona, you should expect better quality control and consistency. I was really disappointed in the last cigar. I would be interested in trying a larger size Don Carlos to see if it has a better taste profile. The corona was not all that impressive and I could find a better value elsewhere. But I don't want to give up on the line just yet. Whenever it's a reputable cigar maker like the Fuentes, I always want to make sure it's not me mis-judging the cigar. But taste is very personal and subjective, and when all is said and done, I still have to like it to buy it.


Vega Fina (lonsdale)


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

.


A few years ago my husband and I visited London. One of the touristy things we did was to have afternoon tea at Herrods. It was without a doubt the best tea I've ever tasted in my life. I didn't smoke cigars back then, but if I did I would have lit up a Vega Fina lonsdale as the perfect accompaniment to this exquisite beverage.


.


According to the Altadis USA website, Vega Fina is a popular non-Cuban brand in Europe. Introduced to the U.S. market in 2007, this cigar is manufactured in La Romana, Dominican Republic at the Tabacalera de Garcia factory. The filler blend is composed of tobacco from Columbia, Dominican Republic, and Honduras, all encased by an Indonesian TBN binder. The shade wrapper is Connecticut seed from Ecuador.


.


The band on this cigar is simple yet elegant. It's creamy yellow to match the wrapper, along with a red border and gold accents. When I removed this cigar from it's cello I noticed that it was slightly box pressed and gave off a very nice sweet aroma. The wrapper is vein free and so soft and smooth like a baby's bottom. I did not see any visible imperfections. The cigar felt spongy yet packed, with just one soft spot near the cap. I chose to use a punch cutter and received a firm yet clear draw. The pre-light flavor was sweet and spicy with nutmeg and powdered ginger.


.


I noticed that this cigar starts off tasting a little like a cigarette. It's nice and mild and the finish was clean. Soon after the initial draw, you get strong notes of cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg built into a creamy body with a nice honey finish. This is one cigar where you just want to kick up your legs and enjoy it's pleasant aroma. The first third of this cigar is nice and toasty. Eventually the cigar develops more body but never beyond medium. It gets more leathery and care must be taken to slow down to avoid any bitterness. The warm spices get thrown into the background and the sweetness still remains but not as much. There isn't much complexity to it's flavor but it's still very enjoyable.


.


The burn on this cigar was even all the way. The salt and pepper ash was strong and compact well beyond the one inch mark. No re-lights or touch-ups were necessary. The wrapper burned well without any lifting and stayed cool throughout the entire smoke. The last two inches tasted a little bitter, so stopping at the band would be a good idea. I noticed that the cigar leaves a light tobacco taste in your mouth.


.


The cost of these cigars is a real bargain. I paid like $3.19 for the 43 by 6 and 1/2 lonsdale but you can get them for just under $3 if you buy a box of 25. I plan on getting a box when I get back from vacation. This is a great cigar for anyone who enjoys mild yet flavorful cigars. It is smooth, elegant, and sophisticated. No wonder the Europeans adore it.

Illusione MK


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

.


The Illusione MK, also known as the "Teachin Machine", was once only available during Illusione sponsored events at B&M's. Now, you can purchase them on-line as singles ($6.45) or by the box ($161.25). This corona sized cigar is indeed a great teacher of what Nicaraguan cigars must have tasted like before the Sandinistas took over in 1979. "Strong", "bold" and "clean" are adjectives used to describe the tobacco grown in the Jalapa Valley and Esteli regions of Nicaragua. Illusione cigars contain first generation Corojo 99 and Criollo 98 tobacco.


.


The wrapper on the Illusione cigars are somewhat rustic looking. They look a little veiny but actually feels quite smooth. One of my MK's had some small light colored spots (water marks?) throughout, but that seemed to be the exception rather than the rule. The color on these oily wrappers is a dark reddish brown. The MK's seemed to differ from my other Illusione vitolas by having a dark mottling throughout. The cap on these cigars are triple layered but not in a neat fashion. The feel of the cigar is spongy but packed with tobacco. I chose to Palio cut my cigar and the resulting draw was nice and clear without being too loose.


.


The taste of an Illusione cigar is quite distinctive in that it is so rich and full of flavor. Your taste buds are awakened immediately by the flavor of rich dark coffee, cinnamon and blackstrap molassas sweetness. The full bodied smoke envelopes your mouth with long lingering flavor. Whenever I feel the need for a rich smoke, I always reach for one of my Illusiones. This cigar starts off earthy and builds to a nice creamy body with a nice sweet finish. It's difficult but you have to really try to smoke this slim cigar slowly to prevent it from over-heating and turning bitter. The second half of the cigar develops a more leathery profile but still maintains it's creaminess and sweetness. I did have to re-light the cigar in the last third. However, I think the burn problems would go away with adequate resting in a humidor to allow the oily wrapper to dry out a little.


.


Overall, this is a full flavored smoke without the full strength to give you headache. If you want more heft, you can buy the Illusione MK Ultra which probably contains more ligero. For me, I prefer not feeling dizzy while smoking my cigars, so the regular MK is just right. I even smoke them some mornings because I know they don't give buzz. I highly recommend this cigar. The MK is the perfect size to appreciate this brand's rich flavor.

El Centurion Guerrero (robusto)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


.


It should be interesting to see which of the new cigars being introduced at this year's IPCPR will be actually be worth the hype. I think it would be safe to say that the El Centurion by Don Pepin Garcia, introduced at last year's RTDA, has proven itself to be an absolute winner in looks and flavor. It is the first limited edition cigar for DPG which uses the best leaves grown from Cuban seeds in Nicaragua and contains both Nicaraguan Criollo 98 and Corojo 99. Only 850 boxes per three sizes were made. The robusto size is called the "Guerrero" and measures 5 inches by 50 ring gauge. I happened to get two free when I ordered some San Cristobal's recently but they usually retail for about $11.95 a stick.


.


The El Centurion is probably the most attractive cigar I have smoked so far, and I've smoked quite a few now. The triple cap is just gorgeous and neatly applied. The oily Nicaraguan Habano wrapper is a beautiful medium brown color with hardly any veins and smells of a wonderful sweet and spicy tobacco. The cigars feel nicely packed but still cushiony. Once lighting the cigar you get such a nice warm and spicy aroma that just adds to your smoking pleasure.


.


The flavor of the El Centurion is unique and wonderfully complex. I would call it elegant in the way it captures your attention with it's smooth and well balanced flavors. The cigar has just the right amount of honey sweetness to go along with it's floral and woody tang. Eventually the cigar develops a smooth coffee flavor along with some vanilla, cinnamon and white pepper spice. The burn line was not as straight as I would have liked it but it didn't take away from my enjoyment of this cigar. Just be prepared to torch it to keep it under control. The ash is nice and white and holds on pretty well.


.


The second half of the cigar showed more creaminess with nuts and toasted sweet hay while still maintaining it's spicy profile. It still had some floral notes and some sharp cedar flavors as well. The body of this cigar is mostly medium. I anticipate it to be a sublime smoke with a little more aging.


.


Overall, I would say this cigar is worth the $12 price tag. This cigar is really presented well. The tobacco used is all high quality and the cigar band is a true work of art. It also has unique and complex flavors not commonly found in other cigars. The burn performance, on the other hand, was not perfect or what you would expect for a premium smoke. The burn line was crooked and the wrapper did lift slightly at one point. Plus, towards the end I had to re-light the cigar to get a better burn and more smoke. Despite this, I would buy this cigar again just because I enjoyed it's flavor and complexity so much. When you smoke it you can feel the heart and soul that went into creating this blend. We can only hope as cigar smokers that veteran blenders like DPG will continue to put out new brands that reflect their true passion for making cigars. Otherwise, why bother crowding the market with another crappy cigar.

La Aroma de Cuba (corona)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


.


If you have read the latest news on Cigar Aficionado's website, then you are aware that Ashton is coming out with a new La Aroma de Cuba cigar which will be made in Nicaragua instead of Honduras. This new cigar will be yet another collaboration with Don "Pepin" Garcia. The new La Aroma de Cuba will have a Cuban-seed Ecuadorian wrapper grown by the Oliva Tobacco Co., along with a filler and binder from Nicaragua. It will have strength and flavor but not as full bodied as the San Cristobal, according to the article. Here is a picture of the new cigars:




Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

.

The cigars that I smoked for this review were the original La Aroma's from Santa Rosa de Copan in Honduras. These cigars were introduced in 2002 after a three year blend development period, according to Perelman's Pocket Cyclopedia of Cigars. The original cigars have a dark Cuban-seed Honduran wrapper, a Honduran binder and a filler blend of Cuban-seed Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos. The corona size that I smoked is 5 and 1/2 by 44 ring gauge.

.

The original La Aroma cigars are budget friendly, with all vitolas priced under $5 a stick. The new cigars, however, will be priced at around $6.50 to $8 a cigar, thanks to Mr. Pepin's help. For me, this is good and bad news because while the orginal version tasted great, it did have some construction issues. One of the cigars I recently smoked seemed underpacked and it had a hole in the wrapper. I also experienced problems with the burn, where the cigar needed to be re-lit and the burn line going un-even towards the end of the cigar. These and other flaws in construction would surely be improved under Don Pepin's capable hands. As far as the flavor goes, I was really satisfied with what I got for only $3.75 a (corona) cigar. I personally could put up with a little burn issues and a slightly underpacked cigar as long as I was satisfied with the flavor. In today's tough economy I question Ashton's move towards making this brand a more premium priced smoke. Do they feel like their new bargain priced "Benchmade" line will make up for all the sales they may potentially lose with the new higher priced La Aroma's? Who knows? Maybe "Don Pepin" cigars are recession proof. But that remains to be seen. Sorry for the rant. Now on with the review...

.

The original La Aroma de Cuba cigars are actually very much full of aroma. You smell rich soil coming off the wrapper and a nice spicy and fruity aroma coming from the foot. The cigar is a deep reddish brown color with a visible toothy appearance. It feels like a fine sandpaper and you can feel the bumps under your fingertips. It has a slight box press and looks really attractive with it's beautiful vintage Cuban-style band. I chose to punch this corona and got a nice slightly resisted but free draw. The taste of the pre-light draw was like a yummy gingerbread.

.

The cigar lit up easily with my torch lighter and my immediate impressions of the flavor was that it started off being very rich and full. I tasted a nice rich dark mocha with a touch of spice. Eventually the cigar developed a nice nutty flavor along with a touch of molassas sweetness left in the mouth. The ash of the cigar was a little flaky but it held on until I chose to tap it off every inch or so. The burn line was even up until the last third were it started to go astray. The burn zone, if I was to compare it mascara, would be more like Courtney Love than Christie Brinkley, but not quite Tammy Faye. The strength and body of the cigar is in the medium range, but the flavor is full.

.

Eventually, I also tasted cinnamon and some pencil lead. I don't know if women "draw" on the cigars as forcefully as men do, but I noticed that if I take three puffs of this cigar I tasted a nuts, but on two I tasted pencil lead. Just an observation. The second third of this cigar was when I experienced some burning issues. I had to re-light the cigar a couple of times because it went out. These were normal rest periods and not like I left to change my daughter's diaper or something and came back to a cold cigar. The flavors were pretty smooth but you do get some burn to the back of the throat from the spice. Water really helped with that. The flavors of the second third eventually developed a richer leather flavor along with a more creamy nut flavor which was really nice. It also developed more spiciness and became more tangy. Another bad construction issue was that the cigar was starting to get really soft and squishy which was not good. The final third of the cigar stayed pretty consistent, and if it wasn't for the cigar getting soft, I probably would have nubbed it.

.

In conclusion, I would highly recommend that people try this corona. For the low price of this cigar, you get tons of great flavor. You could almost forgive it's construction flaws, because the taste is so rich and yummy. I'm sure these cigars will be readily available until they are finally replaced by the new and pricier Nicaraguan version. But just in case, I think I'm going to stock up on some if and when I see them at my local tobacco shop. You all may want to do the same.

Update (7/16/08): I just found out from Cigar Aficionado's website that Ashton will not be discontinuing the original La Aroma de Cuba. The new blend was created as an addition to this brand. This is good news indeed.

El Titan de Bronze Gold Connecticut (corona)


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

.

Just in time for the summer Olympics, we have cigars made in the gold medal cigar manufacturing mecca, Little Havana, Miami Florida. The El Titan de Bronze Cigar company which used to sell exclusively from their location in Florida is now making their cigars available to the general public via selected retail tobacco outlets. Established since 1995, the factory employs all "level 9" rollers who make cigars in the traditional Cuban style of tubing the filler (entubado) and then finishing off with a triple cap. The cigars are then inspected by a master roller/blender to ensure a high standard of quality. Their website also states that they only produce in small quantities to ensure quality and consistency of their product.


.


I would have to agree that the cigars made from El Titan de Bronze are quite attractive. The cigar band adorning their Gold line of Connecticut shade wrapper is a stunning design using red and white with gold accents. The band even states, "Handmade, Little Havana, Miami". The cigar itself would do all Americans proud with it's quality construction. The Connecticut shade wrapper is pretty much vein free and smooth to the touch. There were no noticable imperfections on this creamy tan colored gem.


.


The aroma of the cigar wrapper was a sweet, earthy scent, while the foot smelled strongly of raisins. After clipping the cap easily with my Palio cutter and testing the draw, I found the draw to be free and clear. The pre-light flavor was reminiscent of graham crackers. The cigar itself feels spongy yet packed full of tobacco. I took great care lighting the foot to avoid burning too much of the wrapper to start. The amount of smoke you get when you draw on the cigar was nice and heavy. You definitely should not smoke this around anyone who is bothered by cigar smoke because the smoke aroma is pretty smelly and thick.


.


The flavors start out pretty mild with just a slight tingle of spice on the tongue. You get a woody tang along with some vanilla-like sharpness. The finish is clean and dry. I also picked up a slight dried straw flavor. At about the one inch point, the flavors start to smooth out a little. The burn line was sharp yet angled, but not enough to make me touch it up with my torch. I was bothered by the dry finish though. It feels like you're smoking dessicant beads in your cigar because it leaves your mouth void of saliva.


.


The second third of the cigar started off by tasting like vanilla laced paper with a slight bite of leather. You also get a little pepper scratch to the back of your throat. Eventually the cigar develops a more rich leather flavor but the finish remains short and dry. At one point I thought I tasted some nuts, but it never came back so maybe I was "nuts" thinking it was there in the first place. The last third of the cigar moves up in scale to the medium range. The rich leather flavor is front and center with not a whole lot else going on around it. The strength of this cigar is mild and should be tolerated easily by a novice cigar smoker.


.


Overall, the cigar burned fairly well with no touch ups required. It stayed nice and cool to the end, although you probably won't want to nub this cigar. It does get a little harsh at the end, so I would recommend stopping at the band. The flavors aren't very complex and for $4.72 a cigar, I would say that the price is right for this American made cigar. I would probably recommend it to a beginner cigar smoker but not to a more experienced one. I find that the Perdomo Champagne and the Devil's weed cigars are much better choices for mild smokes. But, if you're like me, a person who tries to support family run American businesses, you should give this cigar a try. If not this cigar, then try their "Redemption" line of cigars. This cigar was reviewed by Cigar Jack as well as the Stogie Review. I finally want to thank Silo cigars for providing me with free samples of the Gold and Redemption cigars. I look forward to smoking and reviewing the El Titan de Bronze Redemption corona very soon.

Esteban Carreras Limitada 1961 Reserva (corona)



Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

.

I find it interesting that if you go to the Esteban Carreras website you get a bunch of high profile cigar names thrown about except a description of the person that your company and cigar is named for. What it will tell you is that the El Paraiso factory in Danli, Honduras where some of their cigars are manufactured is owned by Nestor Plasentia and managed by Rocky Patel, Jesus Fuego, Conrado Plasentia and Craig Cunningham. Craig Cunningham is the president and CEO of Esteban Carreras Cigar Co. Who Esteban Carreras is or what the significance of the year 1961 is, does not seem important enough to warrant an explanation on their website. They would much rather tell you that this cigar is rolled and blended in the La Aurora Factory in Santiago, Dominican Republic where Guillermo Leon Jimenez is executive V.P. and Jose Blanco is sales director. Now that you are as thoroughly impressed as I am (reeking of sarcasm), let's get on with the review.


.


The cigar blend contains tobaccos which I personally adore: a long aged Cameroon wrapper, an Ecuadorian Sumatra seed binder and a filler blend of tobaccos from Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and San Andres. The corona vitola is 5 and 1/2 by 42 ring gauge and costs about $6.50 a single. The cigar is medium brown in color, with a slight oily sheen and bumpy appearance. The wrapper is nice and tight and comes with a rounded layered cap. You will find that the cigars are nicely packed with enough room to allow for a pleasant draw.


.


The cigar gives off an earthy aroma with a touch of fruitiness at the foot. Pre-light draw flavors give me the "all too generic" prune taste. This corona is easy to light and burns fairly evenly producing a firm light gray ash. It's medium bodied and medium flavored and should be easily tolerated by all levels of smokers. The initial flavors are sharp yet enjoyable. You get notes of vanilla, dark coffee, cinnamon and a touch of sweetness on the finish. Eventually some spiciness begins to develop at the one inch mark. The second third of the cigar stays pretty consistent and one-dimensional but I do notice a slight bitterness coming through but certainly not over the top. I can also taste some leather and a dry tobacco flavor. The final third of the cigar adds some nice nutty flavors to the mix, all the while maintaining some spiciness in the background.


.


Overall, I would say that this is a mediocre smoke. The cigar is pleasant tasting to smoke to the nub. However, I wouldn't say that this cigar was to the level of a Bolivar petit corona (Cuba) in taste or even better than a Carlos Torano 1916 Cameroon corona. Considering all the high profile names associated with this cigar, I would say that it was disappointingly average at best. And with the market so full of many choices out there, who wants to settle for average.

CAO L'Anniversaire Cameroon (robusto)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting





.

I hope everyone had a nice 4th of July, ours was rainy but we still enjoyed it nevertheless. While I should review the CAO America which I have in my humidor in honor of Independence Day, I decided instead to review the CAO L'Anniversaire Cameroon robusto since as an American, I reserve the right to exert my own independence. The anniversary line was created to celebrate CAO's thirty years in the cigar business from 1968 to 1998. The Cameroon version was introduced in 1999. This cigar is made in Esteli, Nicaragua using a Grade One African Cameroon wrapper along with a Nicaraguan filler and binder.

.

The robustos I smoked had a severe box-press shape similar to Padron anniversaries. The size is 5 inches by 50 ring gauge and retail for about $115.99 for a box of 20. I found them for just over $3 a stick on Cigarbid. The aroma of these cigars is just to die for. I seriously smelled chocolate fudge frosting on the wrapper and even on the pre-light draw. Thank goodness I wasn't blindfolded, otherwise I would've taken a bite out of this cigar for sure. The wrapper had the usually characteristics of an African Cameroon, light brown with a slight greenish tint, along with dark brown mottling. It feels coarse to the touch and has visible tooth. CAO did a wonderful job in rolling this cigar. The cap is nicely formed and the wrapper had no visible imperfections. When I squeezed the cigar it felt "pillow" soft.

.

Once lighting the cigar, I tasted the usual charred wood which then transitioned into a nice dark chocolate flavor. Eventually some creaminess develops along with hints of cinnamon. The finish shows touches of sweetness which is really nice. The burn line was sharp and relatively even. No touch ups were necessary. The cigar picks up a spicier profile in the second half as well as a leathery and vanilla spice base flavor. I had some ice water on hand to quell the heat to the back of my throat. The cigar also shows some nuttiness to go along with the aged leather flavor. These same characteristics continue on into the last third of the cigar but eventually the leather takes on a slight bitter note. The resting smoke is pungent and sharp enough to split your nose hairs. I probably wouldn't smoke it around those easily offended by smoke because this cigar generates volumes of light gray smoke with each draw.

.

Overall, I found this to be a nice medium bodied cigar with medium to full flavors. I would probably let it rest in my humidor for as long as possible to try to take the edge off it's heat but even if I didn't, it still isn't in the range of a Pepin scotch bonnet scorcher. It's not a beginners smoke so I wouldn't recommend it to a newbie. For everyone else, I would recommend this cigar, especially if you can find it at bargain prices on an auction site. Don't hesitate to pick some up because they are definitely worth it.

Perdomo Lot 23 (robusto)- Quickie

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting





.

I got tired of looking at it. The plain jane cigar amongst all the cool kids in the humidor playground. Dressed in a drab colored band lacking more regal adornments, it was begging for a chance to prove itself. I decided today was the day to put it out of it's misery. Not expecting much, I was pleasantly surprised by it's rich flavor and smooth medium body. There was actually some complexity beneath it's "paperbag" colored wrapper. Initial woodiness turned into a "minty" cafe au lait with nice touches of spicy cinnamon and vanilla. I could almost forgive it's "tunneling" burn line. The final third was equally tasty with rich leather and roasted nuts on the palate. My ever lasting lesson: Don't be a cigar snob.


photocredit: ShowMeYourAsh.com

J. Fuego Delirium (robusto)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting





.

I wouldn't say that I experienced any delirium from smoking this Delirium from J. Fuego, but I know that I was cuckoo for cocoa puffs for wanting to toothpick nub this tasty cigar at the end. But let me not get ahead of myself...

This cigar was recommended to me by Kevin over at Silo cigars. I can't say enough good things about the wonderful service you get when you order from them. Not only are they very knowledgable and stock the best cigars, but they really know how to take care of their customers. Even the little things like making sure there is a humidipak to preserve your cigars and a free bag of salty pretzels and a red hot candy with each order make you feel really special and want to order from them again. (Which I do) I highly recommend that you check them out and tell them that Lisa at Her Humidor sent you.

.

I first heard about J. Fuego cigars when Walt from the Stogie Review talked about them on his video review. The Fuego family has been in the cigar business for 130 years and five generations starting in Cuba so I am really not surprised that the cigars they put out are high quality and very flavorful. The Delirium is their latest creation. It is a nice medium to full bodied cigar with a dark Brazilian Maduro wrapper made in Honduras. You should start seeing more of these cigars soon if you haven't already discovered them.

.

The rest of the cigar contains a Costa Rican Corojo binder and a filler blend of Honduran and Nicaraguan Corojo. I would say that right up until the last third the cigar is medium bodied then at the end it kicks up into the full range. The wrapper looks veiny the way a Brazilian maduro normally does and has a toothy appearance. There was a small hole in the wrapper on one of my cigars which probably occured naturally. There was no lifting or any problems with the burn at all. In fact, the cigar burned evenly and formed an attractive tightly compact white ash which matched the white color on the cigar band perfectly.

.

The cigar starts out with a really nice dark coffee flavor, some hickory and slight fruity twang which transitions immediately to a nice bittersweet chocolate flavor. The cigar puts out a thick volume of fragrant white smoke which is sharp but pleasant and spicy. The flavors are really smooth with no harsh bitterness. If you really like maduros you will really enjoy this cigar. There are some notes of vanilla, cinnamon, and tangy fruit which play around with your taste buds. The finish has a nice honey-like sweetness which is not cloying but helps to round out the dark chocolate.

.

I noticed that my J. Fuego cigars are tightly rolled (as evident by it's strongly held ash) which can prolong the smoke time. I was lulled into thinking that this cigar is pretty one-dimensional in flavor. But, by the middle of the second third, the spice level went up and continued going up and some nuttiness started to creep in as well. I also detected a little bit of leather. The sweetness gradually dissipated but the flavors remaining took on a really nice rounded profile. Roasted nuts, dark chocolate, leather and spice all combined for a terrific medley of flavors. Break out the toothpick, because you will really want to nub this cigar.

.

Overall, I would say that I enjoyed this $7.00 cigar. It starts off a little slow but ends in a bang. You get to experience all the flavors in this four country blend, you just have to take your time and let it develop. It may not be something a beginner would enjoy, but definitely put it on your list because you won't be a beginner forever. Trust me, it didn't take me long to develop a taste for fuller bodied cigars. I plan on smoking and reviewing other J. Fuego cigars in the near future. So far, I have not been disappointed.

Ashton VSG (corona gorda)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting





.

Hey! Why doesn't my vitola have a mystical name like "Illusion", "Wizard" or "Sorcerer"? Maybe the makers of Ashton VSG will consider the names "Warlock", "Voodoo" or "Magician" for the 5 and 3/4 inch by 46 Corona Gorda. Fortunately for us they did not skimp on the blending of this cigar. This Carlos Fuente Jr. creation uses the finest Dominican tobacco which was aged 4 to 5 years with extra ligero leaf added for maximum flavor. The show-stopping wrapper is an exclusive sun-grown Ecuadorian tobacco leaf grown by the Oliva family for Ashton VSG. The Ashton website states, "the leaf is taken from the higher primings and matures slowly by sunlight filtered through the region's natural cloud covering". All I know is, this cigar makes me want to dress up in a sexy black dress with long black stilleto pumps.

.

The cigar itself looks very flavorful. The oily dark brown mottled wrapper has a very aromatic earthy aroma along with some white pepper detected at the foot. The wrapper feels smooth and looks well constructed with a nicely formed layered cap. This chunky corona has a spongy feel which makes me certain I'll be getting a nice clear draw. The cigar, which I bought as singles out of the box, did not come encased in cello. It retailed for about $9.95 at my local B&M and was recommended to me by the shop owner as a corona to try. I was somewhat familiar with this highly rated and rare cigar that I had no problems accepting his choice.

.

The cigar lives up to it's reputation immediately when you light it up. The aroma is wonderfully fragrant with sweet and spicy plumes of thick smoke that swirl around magically in the air. The initial flavors start off woody then earthy and you taste nice dark chocolate with warm spices across your palate. This cigar has elegant complex flavors which meld together unlike lesser smokes with their easy to pinpoint oil and vinegar separation of flavors. This cigar needs to be enjoyed with time and patience so you can appreciate it's nuances. You can swear you get a touch of cedar, a touch of cloves, and a touch of cinnamon followed by pure vanilla extract mixed in with it's strong leathery body. It's the same rich leather you find at the end of some cigars when they are trying to build to an impressive cresendo. The VSG gives you that rich chewy leather early on, letting you know this is not an average smoke. The finish is bittersweet chocolate with a touch of red wine dryness. That extra ligero thrown in does show itself as a little pepper tickle to the back of your throat. It's not overwhelming and it doesn't interfere with any of the other flavors.

.

I would not call this a beginner cigar, although anybody can appreciate it's full body and full flavor. The cigar burns fairly well with maybe a few occasional touch-ups for those as anal as I am when it comes to wanting an even burn. The ash is compact and dirty gray. I would definitely smoke these cigars again and even purchase a whole box if I can find them for a decent price. I can hear you laughing, but I've seen big price gaps among retailers for hard to find cigars.

.

The Ashton VSG is a must have for the cigar connoisseur. It's the type of cigar you would want to smoke after an elegant night out on the town along with a fine red wine or a nice aged liqueur, whether it be scotch, whiskey or rum. I highly recommend it and with my birthday around the corner, I hope my family and friends are reading this because it would make an excellent gift. Hello?
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

(so elegant and refined, I had to break out the red nail polish...)

La Riqueza No. 4 (robusto)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting





.

La Riqueza, the new cigar by Tatuaje's Pete Johnson, translates to "the riches". This is an appropriate name for this richly flavored cigar made with the very flavorful Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. To appreciate the dynamite flavor associated with wrapper you have to look beyond it's rough appearance. Expect some variation in looks. Of the few cigars I purchased, one was mostly smooth with very little rough veins and the other looked like "Frankenstein" with ugly veins and wrinkles that looked like scars. There was also some variation in the way they were rolled. One cigar was so firmly packed that no amount of "plumbing" with a draw correction tool would open it up. The best draw seemed to come from those cigars that had some soft spots present.

.

Clipping and lighting the cigar was very easy. I didn't even have to draw on the cigar to get a perfect even lighting. The burn line was sharp but wavering as expected for a broadleaf wrapper. The cigar is medium bodied, medium strength, and full flavored. The initial flavors were rich, earthy and spicy, with a tangy fruitiness. Don't expect a refined elegant approach with La Riqueza, this cigar is all about the flavor even if it means chewing on some sweet "grit" in the process. The aroma of the cigar is sharp and pungent and may be too much for those not enjoying the cigar themselves. Like Walt of the Stogie Review once said, "sometimes the stinkiest cigars are the best tasting".

.

The cigar progresses nicely to a rich bittersweet chocolate, spicy cinnamon, followed by a tannic finish. The ash compactness can vary depending on how packed the cigar is but overall it is mostly white with thin layers of darkness. Eventually the flavors became more nutty with the chocolate overtones turning to vanilla and rich leather. It had a nice chewiness and spiciness to it that was really enjoyable. You definitely want to nurse this cigar so that it doesn't get too hot and bitter. I took time with mine and was rewarded with a very nubbable smoke.

.

Overall, I would recommend trying this cigar but the price does seem a bit steep at $9 a stick for the 5 by 48 robusto. While not as pretty as the Connecticut shade wrapper, the broadleaf does take more work to cure, ferment and sort through to find usable tobacco. This plus the fact that it's Pepin and Pete Johnson may be the reason for it's priciness. I was able to find this box-pressed cigar on-line, sold by the singles as well as in boxes of 25. I'm curious to hear what others think of this smoke.