Monday, February 20, 2012

Codex Tenebrae 2011

Fuente Anejo #46$12MedA+Ultimate in savory maduro bliss
Camacho Triple Maduro$13FullA+Ultimate in peppery maduro bliss
Perdomo ESV 1991$9FullAGreat blend and rich maduro flavor
Alec Bradley Black Market$9Solid MediumAGreat maduro flavor, body, with good price
J. Fuego Delirium$9MedAMmmmmaaaadurooohhh
Carlos Toraño Virtuoso$9Med+AGood smoke, attractive
Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970$7FullAHold on to your pants.
Perdomo 10th Anniversary Reserve maduro$9MedA-Wow. A great follow-up from the original Perdomo Reserve series.
Carlos Toraño Signature$6MedA-Great smoke, score when possible
Graycliff 1666$8Med+A-Delicious
Savinelli Rico y Raro$8Full+A-Great tasting smoke, big nicotine hit. 2+ whole leaves of ligero per cigar.
Perdomo Habano$6MedB+Good smoke, great price.
Padron Anniversary 1964 maduro$14Med+B+Smooth earth, coffee, cocoa flavors, w/ a little spice. Expected more for the $$.
Panacea Green maduro$6MedB+Earth, leather and spide at the end, nice bang for the buck
San Cristobal$9MedB+Nice Pepin blend, but not big on maduro flavor
CAO Brazilia$7MedB+Spicy and well blended
Camacho SLR maduro$7FullB+Like getting hit in the mouth with a cedar 2x4 wrapped in leather and sprinkled in cocoa.
CAO Italia$7MedB+Spicy, but with a little tang to it
Oliva Serie O$6MedBAnother good smoke with a great price
Avo #2 maduro$8Mild+BNutty, creamy blend dusted with cocoa
Panacea Black Classic$6MedBLeathery, with some earth, but little spice.
Padron 3000$6MedBMuscular flavors, good maduro
Oliva Serie G$5Mild+BNice smoke, always a pleasure
Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Dark Knight$5MedBSolid, dependable smoke
Romeo y Julieta Reserve Maduro$5Med-BNice blend, but a little on the mild side
Camacho Corojo$7MedBCorojo heat, maduro sweet
Carlos Toraño Exodus 1959$6MedBGood smoke
La Gloria Cubana Serie R$7FullBGood smoke, with kick
Alec Bradley Maxx$5Med-BNice smoke, fat and cool
CAO MX2$7MedBGood maduro flavors, unusual blend
Macanudo 1968$10MedBGood smoke, but overpriced
Rocky Patel Edge Missile$6Med+BGood go-to stick
Perdomo Reserve Maduro$5MedBGreat blend, rich maduro flavor
Savinelli Nicaraguan Reserve$6Med+BUnexpected, great smoke, spices, coffee, cocoa. Could be lovechild of Oliva O and Perdomo Reserve.
Perdomo Lot 23$4Mild+B-Nice smoke at reasonable price
Hoyo de Monterrey Dark Sumatra$5MedB-Nice blend, but faint maduro flavors
Gurkha Legend "8-year Aged"$6Med-B-Good smoke, but not much maduro flavor
Arturo Fuente Chateau$5Mild+B-Nice blend, but faint maduro flavors
Partagas Black$6MedB-Peppery blend, more coffee and cedar than cocoa
C&C LRMD Maduro$6MildB-Mild earth and leather flavors; a rookie's maduro
CAO L'Anniversaire Maduro$7.50MedB-Nice maduro flavors, but overpriced
5 Vegas Series A$3Med-B-Great blend and smoke for the price
Cusano 18 Paired Maduro$5Mild+C+Mild blend with spunk, soft maduro flavor
Indian Tabac Cameroon Legend$4Med-C+Fat, cool smoke, mild maduro tone
Hoyo de Monterrey maduro$4Med-C+Nice smoke at reasonable price
Sancho Panza Double Maduro$4Mild+C+Nice maduro flavor
Flor de Oliva maduro$2Med-C+Budget smoke with a little maduro touch
La Vieja Habana Belicoso D$3Med-C+Nice budget maduro
Occidental Reserve Double Broadleaf$3MildCGood starter maduro
Carlos Toraño Exodus 1959 Silver$5Med-CNice blend, but tend to explode
Punch Maduro Maduro$5Med-CSolid smoke, decent maduro flavor
Gurkha Doble Maduro$5Med-CStarts off great, tasting like Partagas Black, but gets bland after the first third.
Don Pepin Garcia Series JJ$7MedCNice blend, but little maduro flavor
Padron 2000$5MedCGood cigar for the price
Omar Ortez maduro$5MedCDecent smoke
Chateau Real maduro$6Mild+CNot bad, but you can get better for the $
Drew Estates Dirt$5Med-COddball flavor, sweetened cap
Sol Cubano maduro$2Med-CNice value smoke
Alec Bradley Ovation$3Mild+CNot bad. Not great, but not bad.
Arganese Chairman$5Med-CDecent smoke, but mild maduro flavor
Helix 550 tubo$4MildC-Airy, with little maduro flavor
Padilla Obsidian$4Med-C-Great taste, but very inconsistent construction
Muira maduro$4MedC-So-so, wrapper may be dyed
Angel 100$3Mild+C-Eh
Pirate's Gold maduro$1Mild+DThe name is the only redeeming value
Cu-Avana maduro$2MildDLike smoking wheat toast
Rio del Pinar "oscuro"$3Med-DNothing oscuro about this yard 'gar
Rocky Patel R4$4Med-DWrapper tasted super-salty/chemically
Victor Sinclair Reserve$4Med-DI smoked it out of kindness. Never again
Tierra del Sol maduro$2Mild+DAvoid. A. V. O. I. D.
Nestor Reserve 2004$2Mild+FDyed wrapper covers crummy blend

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Getting My Way: Panacea Cigars

Sometimes, it takes a bit of persuasion to get a shop owner to carry a cigar that is from a smaller, less renowned company. Not that you can blame them, they already have to cater to a number of whims, and inventory that just sits for a loooong time doesn't really help the shop owner. A guy has to be judicious with his humidor space.

After the Christmas cigar bomb I got from my mother, I started agitating at a local shop to pick up Panacea cigars (by Flatbed Cigar Co., out of eastern PA). None of the shops in town carried them, and I've started buying most of my cigars from local shops. So, if I wanted Panacea, I'd have to convince one of the local shops to pick them up. It took a lot of casual "did you call them yet," and "have you heard from them (I gave them your phone number and address)." I'm sure he got tired of hearing about it, every other visit I'd try and subtly nudge him along.

9 months after the first mention,the shop owner got a bunch of samples in from Flatbed, and had me assemble a puffin' posse to smoke and grade the different samples. I started an 'Event' on Facebook, and invited all my local cigar friends and acquaintances, and on the night of the event, we had 6 fairly experienced cigar enthusiasts gathered to have a go at the Panacea cigars.

The shop owner had printed out info from Flatbed's web site on all the different cigars, and so we each grabbed a cigar that was generally suited to our preferences and started firing them up. Two hours of smoky conversation and comparison ensued, talking about flavors, burn, draw, ash and the advantages of target shooting with a .223 over larger calibers. The whole gamut, you know. Good conversation with friends, and decent coffee, is always a great companion for a cigar.

I had previously smoked, and thoroughly enjoyed, the Red label Habano maduro and Black label maduro. So, I started with the Green label maduro, and PA Broadleaf wrapped cigar; YUMMM!!! Nicely earthy and dark flavors, but was lacking spice until you got to the last third of the cigar, when it finally sauntered in.

The Blue label Grande 6x60 got mixed reviews from the two folks smoking them, for uneven draw and unexpected flavors. The Red label Grande was liked by the folks smoking them, as were the Black label natural and maduro that another pair were enjoying. The lone person smoking the White label Corojo had some extreme wrapper failure going on, so that got panned in the evaluation [I smoked the other White label Corojo the week after, and it was perfect, so better luck next time].

After we were done with our casual evaluations, the shop owner ordered the top 3 lines we recommended. Eventually, should these start selling well, we'll be able to look at a couple lines that ended up a little farther down the list. I liked the White label Corojo, once I got a chance to smoke one. At the end of the day, I got this shop to get on board with a cigar I liked. So, win for me, and I hope it's a win for the shop in the long run as well.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cigar Sniper

Okay, the Social Cigar thread got contentious, with lots of accusation, invective, and slights against the stereotypical behaviors of a certain race/religion. Let's discuss this on the likely facts, please.

First of all Famous Smoke is a business, and their goal is to make money. As a business, their job is to separate a man from his cash while providing that man with incentive to keep parting with that cash. That's their prerogative. So let's not start throwing the greed label around. Your local B&M is trying just as hard to get into your wallet.

The Cigar Sniper format may let one guy buy a box of cigars for $10 (plus the $20 in bids he used to snag it), but hooks in the other 4-5 guys that dropped $20 in bids to roll that into paying the fuller, more profitable price for the box of cigars. The guys that only put $2-5 in bids on the box will likely just leave that $$ on the table for Famous to collect (pure profit, cha-ching). All in all, a profitable venture.

Just not off me. The success of the Cigar Sniper format will depend on wealthy idiots and guys that can't do the math, and I am neither.

Friday, December 9, 2011

C&C Cigars

The C&C Cigars had finally hit the shelves here, so I bought a pair each of the Corojo and Maduro lines. My first impressions, after smoking one of each, are that these are nice, milder cigars, worth about the $5 shelf price.

The Corojo, as noted by many reviewers so far, is reminiscent of the Cusano Corojo 97' (or 96'). There's a sweet, woody flavor with a hint of the roast red pepper flavor I've come to associate with Corojo tobaccos. But only a hint.

There are Corojo wrapped blends from other makers with bolder flavors and sharper, more pronounced Corojo notes. But for a milder, Corojo-with-training-wheels cigar, the C&C Corojo isn't bad.

The C&C Maduro is fairly mild as well, with a light earthy and sweet flavor. Both bear decent construction, being a little on the light side, but with a decent draw despite the undense feeling.

The Dominican fillers are continuing the tradition from the Cusano venture, just recently acquired by Davidoff. The Chiusano brothers, one being sidelined by a non-compete clause, just can't stay away from the cigar biz. We should be glad.

I'll smoke a few more, and keep a few on hand for the occasional guest with milder cigar leanings.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cigar Scene: Lincoln, Nebraska

For a small city, Lincoln has three respectably cigar shops in town, and all withing 10 minutes of the Poor Bastard's Cigar Lounge (my garage).

Ted's Tobacco:
Biggest humidor in town, they carry all the standard Altadis and General Cigar fare, CAO, Drew Estates, Fuente, Ashton, a smattering of Camacho, Oliva, Perdomo, plus some boutique frontmarks like Illusione, and Tatuaje, Plus they have a respectable spread for pipe smokers as well. Despite the large humidor, it seems less than lovingly cared for (depending on who's working) the occasional empty box or empty spaces dot the shelves, despite plenty of stock available.
There's no lounge to speak of, but April through October, the regulars still gather out in front of the shop on Monday and Wednesday evenings for a sidewalk herf. BYOC&B (bring your own chair and beverage). Winter, you're on your own.

Jake's Cigars & Spirits:
A small, 8x8' walk-in humidor, stocked with standards from CAO, Rocky Patel, Fuente, Ashton, Oliva, Perdomo, Torano, and upstarts 262 Cigars and Esteban Carreras. The big attraction is the fact that this is Lincoln's only official Cigar Lounge, with indoor cigar smoke permitted 7/365. The bar is well stocked with craft beers and an impressive collection of single malt, blended scotch, Irish whiskies and bourbons and there's plenty of seating. My only beefs are that the booths force groups of 6 or less, and the music gets too loud @ 9PM. It's nestled in the buttcrack of the UNL campus, and so it's more of a college bar in tone.

Cliff's Smoke Shop:
Prime downtown real estate, Cliff's has a 18x6' walk-in humidor, jam packed with standards Ashton, Fuente, Drew Estates, Oliva, Perdomo, DPG, Patel, and boutique brands Los Blancos, Tatuaje, C&C, and several smaller label releases. The owners aren't shy about branching out, listening to regular customers, trying new cigars and giving them shelf space. The owners actually work in the shop, and frequently give a regular a discount on his sticks. There's a little space for lounging and lingering while smoking a cigar, and the atmosphere is relaxing. I just wish their hours were longer (9-5 M-F, 9-1 S, closed Sunday) and parking downtown were a little easier.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Toraño Single Region - Jalapa

I'm tickled that some new Toraño cigars have reached my little backwater. Unlike fab places like Chicago or Long Island, Lincoln, Nebraska, doesn't get the newer frontmarks very quickly. So, I was pleasantly surprised to find the new Single Region cigar in my B&M's humidor.

Jalapa, Jalapa, oh Eden of Nicaragua! Out of thy rich soils spring such smoky satisfaction!

I love Nicaraguan cigars, and as anyone who has bought any Cain cigars in the past year would know, Jalapa is one of those regions in Nicaragua where delicious tobacco is grown.

The Single Region Serie Jalapa sported a colorado-colored wrapper, and had the aroma of leather and cedar. While burning, the draw was okay, but I did need to relight the cigar a couple times. The ash was fairly dark from this cigar.

The initial blast of flavor was wood and leather, very strong in the retrohale, like someone had bashed me in the nose with a cedar 2x4. Not very peppery, per se, but very present, bright. There were hints of coffee, but the cigar didn't taste as "dark" as other Nicaraguan cigars tend to do.

Being a robusto, the flavors didn't change a whole lot, but were very present the length of the cigar. The flavor profile reminded me of the Tatuaje Havana VI, the bright, woodsy tone of the flavors. I liked it, and will be buying more.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Panacea Red Perfecto

My mother surprised me with a cigar bomb for Christmas. She's normally a tobacco agnostic, but she researched and picked out cigars she thought I'd like. The Panacea Red perfecto was one of those cigars, and I'd never seen them before.

The Panacea Red sports a Brazilian maduro wrapper, Dominican Habano binder, and mix of dominican and Nicaraguan fillers. The Brazilian wrapper on this cigar was not really spicy on the lips like Cao's Brazilia or MX2, but more muted, like on Nub's Maduro 460.

The wrapper's unlit aroma was of leather and potting soil, a dry, earthy smell. Very similar to Don Francisco's Custom Blend line. The draw through the cigar was outstanding, and the burn a little wobbly, but never had to reach for the torch after I initially lit up. The dove-gray ash held for a good inch and a half.

Closer to medium than mild-bodied, the cigar had pleasant flavors throughout; Leather, a dash of coffee, earth. The cigar wasn't noticeably spicy in an way. The flavors didn't vary much, but was a nice companion for an evening cup of coffee and a good book.