Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Vengeance Maduro Ligero (robusto) cigar review

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The Vengeance Maduro Ligero is made by Exclusive Cigars , the same makers of Kristoff cigars, which I really enjoy. This cigar debuted in September of last year. It uses a Brazilian Maduro wrapper, a Cuban seed Honduran binder and a filler of Cuban seed Dominican and Honduran tobaccos. The cigar is available in four sizes: a robusto, torpedo, super toro and a 6 x 60. I had the pleasure of smoking the robusto, courtesy of Silo Cigars.

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The robusto is 50 ring gauge by 5.5 inches long. The cigar comes wrapped in a cedar sleeve with an additional band at the foot. This rustic looking Maduro has a leathery aroma and actually feels like leather as well. The cigar feels evenly packed and has a nice oily sheen.

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The draw on the cigar was just perfect. It was free and clear with a slight resistance. The volume of smoke produced was thick and creamy. The initial flavors showed rich espresso with a balance of sweet cream. There was also a unique floral note (manufacturer describes it as "apricot"?) which comes through at the beginning of each draw. Black pepper shows up on the finish and leaves a slight tickle to the throat. Eventually a helping of walnuts are included with the last half of the cigar showing primarily floral, nutty, hard wood, spicy and sweet notes. I did notice a slight similarity of the floral note of this cigar to the Kristoff Criollo. Nevertheless, it definitely has it's own unique flavor that I've never tasted before. It's quite tasty.

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This cigar is available in boxes of 20 for around $121. You can call Silo Cigars at 1-865-675-7456 to find out more and to order. I would definitely smoke this cigar again. It burns evenly, the ash stays on despite some flowering. The cigar draws like a dream and the flavors are full but nicely balanced. I can see why Exclusive cigars has become a fast growing boutique company.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

La Flor Dominicana Premium Line Grand Maduro #5

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I can honestly say that I haven't tried very many La Flor Dominicana brands. I think the only one I've smoked is the Coronado by La Flor. Back when I first started smoking cigars I was too intimidated to smoke brands known for their full bodied strength, like La Flor Dominicana and their Double Ligero Chisels. But, with the La Flor Dominicana Premium Grand Maduro #5, I've found a cigar that is full of flavor without being over powering in strength.

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The La Flor Dominicana Premium line encompasses two wrapper styles, a USA Connecticut
Shade and a USA Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro. The binder and filler are both from the Dominican Republic. I had the pleasure of smoking the Maduro #5 which is a toro sized cigar measuring 52 ring gauge by 6 and 1/4 inches. This cigar retails for about $183 for a box of 24.

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The cigar itself has a wonderful rich earthy aroma with notes of dark chocolate, while the foot gives off scents of sweet dried fruit. Both of the Maduro #5s that I smoked appeared well constructed. There were no heavy veins and the wrapper feels nice and smooth with a pillow-like softness over a firm inner core. The USA Connecticut Broadleaf had it's characteristic blotchy appearance, but nevertheless I wouldn't call it rustic.

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Initial flavors showed rich espresso, along with a tart woody flavor. After about the one inch point, the cigar begins to develop a leathery body and dried fruit notes. The spice level begins to increase and stays consistent for the remainder of the smoke. The second third settles nicely into a nutty, leathery, spicy smoke that is downright fabulous. A warning though, this is a spicy cigar that made me want to reach for an antacid. The last third showed an enhanced dried fruit sweetness and nice aged tobacco flavor. Overall, the flavors were smooth and well balanced. The strength level was medium to full.

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The burn characteristics was above average with a mostly even burn line that was sharp and an ash that was mostly compact and light gray in color. The smoke volume started off a little thin due to a firm draw, but eventually it opened up into a nice creamy full-bodied smoke.

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Overall, I was really impressed by the quality of this cigar. The construction looked top-notch and the flavors did not disappoint. I am motivated to try more La Flor Dominicana cigars because I enjoyed this one so much. I believe La Flor Dominicana has changed the look of their cigar bands, so my picture may not show the more current design for this cigar. Nevertheless, whatever version you come across at your local B&M, I highly recommend you give it a try, especially if you like spicy and earthy tasting cigars.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cabaiguan Guapos Junior

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This review is sponsored by Silo Cigars, home to rare cigars, aged cigars and hard to find boutique cigars.

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The Cabaiguan Guapos Junior is a 42 ring gauge by 4 and 5/8 inches long "petit corona". It is rolled in Esteli, Nicaragua at Don Pepin's Tabacalera Cubana factory and sent to the El Rey de los Habanos factory in Miami, Fl for additional quality control. The wrapper is a sun grown wrapper from Ecuador, the filler and binder are both from Nicaragua.

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My sample cigar was beautifully rolled and finished off with a neat triple seamed pig-tailed cap. The cigar feels smooth to the touch with no noticeable veins, and also feels evenly packed. The pre-light draw was free with slight resistance and a peppery heat can be felt on the lips and tongue.

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The cigar performed well once lit, with thick volumes of smoke with each draw. The burn line was even and sharp and the gray ash was nice and compact. The flavor profile unfortunately was not as impressive. The taste was too dry and toasty, lacking in sweetness and very one dimensional. The woody body was acidic and slightly peppery without any counterpoint for balance. The final third introduced a tangy leather note and more pepper, which seemed more harsh than enjoyable.

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Overall, I would say that I prefer the flavors of the shade grown wrappers of the Cabaiguan line and larger vitolas of the Guapos version. For example, I would recommend the Guapos Rx which is 50 by 5 and 1/4. However, before I totally write off the Cabaiguan Guapos Junior, I would like to smoke it again under more humid conditions to see if it improves it's taste. I will let you know when that happens and report my findings in an update. Until then, I suggest you save your $7.50 (a stick) for a cigar better deserving of it.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Gurkha Vintage Shaggy (Toro)

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This review is sponsored by Fumeeworld.com/estore.

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The Gurkha Vintage Shaggy debuted in 2006. According to Gurkha's website, it's a Dominican puro with an eight year aged wrapper and a six year aged filler and binder. This cigar comes in four sizes and in boxes of 25. The lovely people at Fumee World provided me with the Toro, which measures the traditional 50 ring gauge by 6 inches long.

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The Gurkha Vintage Shaggy has a novelty look about it. As the name implies, it has a shaggy foot which allows you to light the cigar easily. The rest of the cigar looks and feels purposefully rustic as if it came right off the roller's table. These cigars are priced on the lower end of what Gurkha usually charges for their cigars, with the Toro going for about $7 a stick.

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This cigar had a cedary aroma with notes of peppery gingerbread on the pre-light draw. The cigar felt very firm and coarse to the touch. Nevertheless, I had no problems with the draw, which produced a nice medium to full bodied smoke.

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The initial flavors were of a slightly charred wood and dark mocha. The taste was dry and tart with not much sweetness. After a short period of slight bitterness, the cigar eventually settled down into a nice rich earthy and leathery flavor which remained consistent throughout the smoke. For those who don't want a lot of spiciness in their cigar, I would recommend trying this cigar.

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Overall, this cigar was pretty straightforward. The burn line was even throughout and didn't require any touch-ups. The ash was firm and had an impressive bright white color. It was easy to smoke and should make for a relaxing experience. This cigar would make a great social cigar to be shared among friends.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Cubao No.2 vs. No.5

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Cubao is another fabulous cigar from United Tobacco (EO Brands), maker of the 601 cigars. It is manufactured in Esteli, Nicaragua and was created by the master blender Pepin Garcia. The cigar contains quality Nicaraguan tobaccos with a delicious Sumatra Oscuro wrapper from Ecuador. It is available in six sizes. I smoked the No. 2 and No. 5 sizes for comparison.

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The No. 2 is a beautiful pyramid shaped cigar which is 52 ring gauge by 6 and 1/8 inches long. It has an easy draw and wonderful spicy flavor right off the bat. The cigar starts off woody tasting with nice chocolate notes and roasted nuts. The peppery heat subsides as you smoke past the first third. It finishes well with a nice anise flavor and raisiny tobacco.

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The No. 5 is a robusto extra (longer that their robusto No. 4 which is 4 and 7/8 inches long) which measures 50 ring gauge by 6 and 1/8 inches long. (Sounds like a toro to me!) The No. 5 showed more complexity to the blend with nice strong mocha flavor and creamy sweetness. The draw was also perfect (I haven't had an EO cigar yet which gave me draw problems). Walnuts and cayenne pepper also add to the mix, with some noticeable saltiness. The cigar finishes with full cedar notes.

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The burn line on both cigars was un-even but did not take away from the enjoyment of the cigar. The ash was nice and light in color and slightly flowery but holds on well until you are ready to tap it off.

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If I had to pick a favorite, it would be the No. 5. I feel the torpedo had just a little too much peppery heat for me in the beginning and was not as complex for most of the second half of the cigar, even though the flavors were also good. The No. 5 was the perfect balance of flavors with enough transitions to keep the smoke interesting. I would not be surprised if this cigar makes my list of top ten cigars for this year.

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All Cubao sizes are available at Silo Cigars. The No. 2 retails for $7.10 a stick, while the No. 5 goes for $6.10. If you haven't tried Cubao yet, you definitely should put it on your cigars to smoke list.

Must Reads:

Keepers of the Flame on the No. 5

Cigar Jack on the No. 1

Stogie Review on the No. 5

A Cigar Smoker on the No. 6

Friday, January 9, 2009

Her Humidor's Top Ten For 2008

The following are my top ten picks for 2008:

#10- Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Legend "The Crusader"


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I was immediately attracted to this cigar's gorgeous reddish brown Connecticut Havana seed wrapper. The flavors are deeply earthy with notes of cedar, espresso, leather and nuts with spicy Asian cinnamon lingering throughout the smoke. This cigar retails for about $140 for a box of 20.

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#9- Kristoff Criollo Churchill


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This cigar was one of my favorites last year that was a pleasure to smoke from start to finish. Medium bodied and smooth, this churchill has balanced flavors of cocoa powder, wood, leather and nuts. "Yummy" is a word which best describes this cigar. This cigar retails for $5.75 a cigar at Silo Cigars.

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#8- Illusione 68 "Bombone"


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Sized at 44 ring gauge by 4 inches, the "Bombone" was my favorite "quickie" cigar last year hands down. It was the cigar I pulled from my humidor everytime I needed a smoke before work. Named for the year of my birth, I could not help but love it's sweet smoky flavor with notes of cedar, leather and nuts. It's a great way to wake your taste buds up in the morning! Available at Silo Cigars for $135 for a box of 25.

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#7- Ashton VSG Corona Gorda


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I remember describing this cigar as "elegant and refined", it even had me putting on my reddest nail polish to take pictures of it. Complex with nuances of dark chocolate, cedar, and leather, with a touch of cloves, cinnamon and vanilla. A definite special occasion cigar. Retails for around $216 for a box of 24.


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#6- San Cristobal Classico



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Despite it's inconsistencies, I found myself continuously re-ordering this full bodied cigar with the best looking cigar band ever. But it wasn't it's looks that had me wanting more, it was it's complexity of flavors with dark espresso notes, cedar and vanilla, followed by creamy almond and a tropical banana-like flavor. Wow, that's just so Jimmy Buffett! The Clasico retails for about $158 for a box of 22.

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#5- 601 Maduro Box-Pressed Torpedo (Blue label)


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This was definitely one of my favorite maduros from last year. The quality of 601 cigars in general really impressed me. For what you get (a Don Pepin creation), they are pretty reasonably priced. This cigar smells like decadent milk chocolate and tastes of dark coffee with the signature cayenne pepper zing of a DPG smoke. Sweet vanilla cream adds some balance to this cigar's strong Corojo flavor. I purchased my cigars from Silo, where a box of 20 goes for $178. This cigar should age well in your humidor.

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#4- Carlos Torano Exodus 1959 Silver Edition Toro Elegante


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Usually I am not into "fat" cigars, but this hefty 55 ring gauge by 5.5 inches truly is an "elegant" Toro. This medium bodied box pressed cigar actually felt very comfortable to smoke. The flavors were very smooth and balanced with just the right amount of spice, cream and sweetness to go along with it's woody character. The cigar finished with a leathery note along with roasted nuts and touch of spice. Delicious. This new vitola retails for around $114 for a box of 25.


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#3- Bolivar Petit Corona (Cuba)



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I think I described this as my OMG cigar because if you are lucky enough to get ahold of one either legally or, (ahem) otherwise, you are truly in for an orgasmic experience. Opulent flavors of rich coffee, cocoa, nuts, leather, creamy hay, and balanced spices will have you smoking it right down to the nub. Should be my number one smoke, if it were legal.


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#2- Rocky Patel Renaissance Robusto


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This was a difficult choice, as this cigar could have easily been my top choice for 2007. I feel that Rocky Patel has not been getting enough credit for some of the great cigars that he has produced because he puts out so many brands every year. I personally love the Decade, Old World Reserve, and especially this cigar, the Renaissance. This cigar contains tobacco from locations that Rocky Patel won't name. Nevertheless, this "secret" tobacco gives off tasty flavors of rich mocha, sweet cream, spicy cinnamon, raisins and roasted nuts. The tobacco tastes nicely aged with no harshness or bitterness. This cigar is available at Silo Cigars. Order by phone.

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#1- Liga Privada No.9 Toro


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Who knew that Drew Estates could put out such a fantastic cigar? I believe I described this cigar as "the complete package". Everything from the way this cigar was rolled, to how it smokes, to how this cigar tastes was very impressive. The flavors are wonderfully complex with notes of dark chocolate, espresso, roasted nuts, cinnamon and cherry among the standouts of this well blended cigar. These cigars may be hard to find at your local B&M, and if you do, they won't come cheap. A box of 24 retails for about $216. But what the heck, treat yourself as an executive CEO and make these YOUR personal cigar. (Take that Recession!)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Montecristo White (Rothchilde)

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Handmade in La Romana, Dominican Republic, The Montecristo White was introduced in 2003. The wrapper is an Ecuadorian Connecticut shade, the binder is from Nicaragua, and the filler is from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. There are nine vitolas in this line, with most available in boxes of 27. This review is on the Rothchilde, which measures 52 ring gauge by 5 inches.

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I smoked a handful of these cigars and found that it pays to examine them carefully before buying. If the cigar feels too packed, chances are the draw will be too firm. Try to select a cigar that has some "give" to it and you will be rewarded with a much more pleasurable smoking experience.

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The wrapper on these cigars is a beautiful creamy tan color, mostly vein free, with a neatly done three seam cap. I had no problems with the appearance of the cigar, but the construction can be inconsistent with overpacking being the primary complaint. The aroma of the cigar is pleasant and smells of sweet raisins and cedar.

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The cigar starts off well with a nice sweetness and creaminess that should please those that prefer mild to medium bodied cigars. You also get a slight tartness initially but that fades away eventually leaving you with a woody and peppery smoke, punctuated by notes of dried fruit and nuts. This cigar smokes very smooth right down to the nub.

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The burn characteristics are above average. The burn line was relatively even and sharp looking, as if drawn on by a thin black eye-liner pencil. The ash form was tight and compact and light in color.

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The Montecristo White Rothchilde retails for between $190 to $192 for a box of 27. Based on my experience with smoking this cigar, I would hesitate to buy a box unless I could inspect the contents for "plugged"/overpacked cigars. Maybe Altadis USA was trying to emulate the Cuban's manufacturing inconsistancy with plugged cigars! If so, that would not be a good thing since I'm sure they could afford to invest in a draw testing machine that some smaller companies use with success.

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Overall, I would still recommend this cigar because it has that nice sweetness and creaminess that I favor in a Connecticut shade wrapped cigar. The Nicaraguan tobacco contained in this chubby robusto helps to add strength without being overpowering. The burn characteristics are also aesthetically pleasing with the dark even burn line and white ash going well with the creamy tan colored wrapper. All this makes for one enjoyable smoke.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Gurkha Black Dragon (robusto)

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This review is sponsored by Fumee e-Store.

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The Gurkha Black Dragon was introduced in 2006 when the economy wasn't in shambles like it is now. A special edition of five chests of one hundred cigars, each priced at $115,000. (What have they been smoking?) In 2007, they introduced a more affordable version which came in three sizes: a Robusto (4 and 1/2 by 52), Presidente (8 and 1/2 by 52), and Grand Especial (7 by 56). Prices range around $7.50 to $12.50 a stick.

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The Gurkha Black Dragon is hand rolled with a five year aged dark Cameroon wrapper, a Dominican binder, and long filler tobacco from Nicaragua and Peru. My sample cigar was tightly rolled, with a few medium sized veins, and visible tooth along the surface. The robusto felt firmly packed and coarse to the touch. Gurkha's "dressing up" of this cigar went a tad overboard for a just over four inch long cigar. It reminds me a scene I saw in the movie "The Dutchess" where the Duke (played by Ralph Fiennes) was trying to undress his new wife(played by Keira Knightley) who was wearing layers of clothes and a laced up corsett... While undressing this cigar's three layers of ribbon, cedar sleeve and gigantic band, I kept mumbling to myself, "This better be worth it".

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The cigar had a strong cedary/leathery aroma, and when lit, gave off a nice aged tobacco room note that I would imagine most cigar lover's would appreciate. The initial flavors were tart but not bitter. Cedar, roasted nuts and dark coffee notes were detected with very little sweetness. The second third developed a little bit of sweetness to go along with the toasty cedar and leather flavor, while the last third showed some saltiness which got the juices flowing in my mouth.

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The ash on this cigar was a nice bright white color. It was tightly compact and held on well until I was ready to tap it off. The burn line was slightly wavy to down right un-even in the last third. The draw on my sample robusto was just perfect, free and clear with some slight resistance.

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Overall, I enjoyed the Gurkha Black Dragon robusto. It is rich in cedary flavor without a lot of peppery spice. It will definitely grab your attention and the short size is perfect for a quick flavorful smoke. Check out Fumee's website for availability of this cigar. (I think it's cool that Fumee is owned by a woman.)