Sunday, December 28, 2008

Taking the Spendy Cigar Plunge

I was in to shop today, picking up a couple cigars for some friends, and I spy a box that read "Work of Art". "Hmmm," says I, and open the box to behold some dark, shapely cigars. I grabbed a pair, and put the box back on the shelf, when I notice that the box beneath it reads "Reserva no 55 Xtra Viejo". Those looked good too, so I snagged a couple of those too.

On my way out of the humi, I spied a beautiful box that read "Master Blends" and grabbed a pair of those as well.

So, I got a wee shock at the cash register, but methinks I still may have scored some decent cigars. What do you think?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Codex Tenebrae (aka My Big List of Maduros)

Camacho Triple Maduro
Ultimate in maduro bliss

Perdomo ESV 1991
Great blend and rich maduro flavor

J. Fuego Delirium

Carlos Toraño Virtuoso
Good smoke, attractive

Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970
Hold on to your pants.

Perdomo 10th Anniversary Reserve maduro
Wow. A great follow-up from the original Perdomo Reserve series.

Carlos Toraño Signature
Great smoke, score when possible

Graycliff 1666

Perdomo Habano
Good smoke, great price.

San Cristobal
Nice Pepin blend, but not big on maduro flavor

CAO Brazilia
Spicy and well blended

Camacho SLR maduro
Like getting hit in the mouth with a cedar 2x4 wrapped in leather and sprinkled in cocoa.

CAO Italia
Spicy, but with a little tang to it

Oliva Serie O
Another good smoke with a great price

Avo #2 maduro
Nutty, creamy blend dusted with cocoa

Padron 3000
Muscular flavors, good maduro

Oliva Serie G
Nice smoke, always a pleasure

Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Dark Knight
Solid, dependable smoke

Romeo y Julieta Reserve Maduro
Nice blend, but a little on the mild side

Camacho Corojo
Corojo heat, maduro sweet

Carlos Toraño Exodus 1959
Good smoke

La Gloria Cubana Serie R
Good smoke, with kick

Alec Bradley Maxx
Nice smoke, fat and cool

Good maduro flavors, unusual blend

Macanudo 1968
Good smoke, but overpriced

Rocky Patel Edge Missile
Good go-to stick

Perdomo Reserve Maduro
Great blend, rich maduro flavor

Perdomo Lot 23
Nice smoke at reasonable price

Hoyo de Monterrey Dark Sumatra
Nice blend, but faint maduro flavors

Gurkha Legend "8-year Aged"
Good smoke, but not much maduro flavor

Arturo Fuente Chateau
Nice blend, but faint maduro flavors

Partagas Black
Peppery blend, more coffee and cedar than cocoa

CAO L'Anniversaire Maduro
Nice maduro flavors, but overpriced

5 Vegas Series A
Great blend and smoke for the price

Cusano 18 Paired Maduro
Mild blend with spunk, soft maduro flavor

Indian Tabac Cameroon Legend
Fat, cool smoke, mild maduro tone

Hoyo de Monterrey maduro
Nice smoke at reasonable price

Sancho Panza Double Maduro
Nice maduro flavor

Flor de Oliva maduro
Budget smoke with a little maduro touch

La Vieja Habana Belicoso D
Nice budget maduro

Occidental Reserve Double Broadleaf
Good starter maduro

Carlos Toraño Exodus 1959 Silver
Nice blend, but tend to explode

Punch Maduro Maduro
Solid smoke, decent maduro flavor

Gurkha Doble Maduro
Starts off great, tasting like Partagas Black, but gets bland after the first third.

Don Pepin Garcia Series JJ
Nice blend, but little maduro flavor

Padron 2000
Good cigar for the price

Omar Ortez maduro
Decent smoke

Chateau Real maduro
Not bad, but you can get better for the $

Drew Estates Dirt
Oddball flavor, sweetened cap

Sol Cubano maduro
Nice value smoke

Alec Bradley Ovation
Not bad. Not great, but not bad.

Arganese Chairman
Decent smoke, but mild maduro flavor

Helix 550 tubo
Airy, with little maduro flavor

Padilla Obsidian
Great taste, but very inconsistent construction

Muira maduro
So-so, wrapper may be dyed

Angel 100

Pirate's Gold maduro
The name is the only redeeming value

Cu-Avana maduro
Like smoking wheat toast

Rio del Pinar "oscuro"
Nothing oscuro about this yard 'gar

Rocky Patel R4
Wrapper tasted super-salty/chemically

Victor Sinclair Reserve
I smoked it out of kindness. Never again

Tierra del Sol maduro
Avoid. A. V. O. I. D.

Nestor Reserve 2004
Dyed wrapper covers crummy blend

Friday, December 5, 2008

Bombing Santa

I was downtown to record a concert, and after setup, decided to cruise by my #2 B&M to see if the new Arganese sticks were in yet. They weren't, but the owner kindly gave me an Arganese CL, left over from the Cigar Festival, to tide me over until the order came in.

So, I'm recording the local symphony's holiday pops concert, and who winds his way through the crowd? Santa!

As he gets closer to where I'm camped out with my equipment, I get an Idea...

I asked him "would Mrs. Claus get mad at you for smoking one of these?" and I offered him the cigar. "No, not at all," Saint Nick replied, so I slipped him the combustible morsel, along with a Social Cigar card, and let him go on his merry way.

He did give me a candy cane, after all. So I returned the favor.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Shout Outs for the Nebraska Cigar Festival 2008

Wow, the Nebraska Cigar Festival was a blast: Good fun, good smokes, and great company. I hope we get to do this again next year.

Shout outs are as so:

1) Our local B&M owners, Cattlemen's Bank, and event planners.

You guys rock! Cattlemen's Bank helping out by literally hosting the event, and our B&M's Cliff's Smoke Shop, Ted's Tobacco, and Capitol Cigar Company. Miles, thanks for bringing out the VSG!

2) Gene Arganese

Gene, you were the star of the evening, and really made the event special. There's a good reason why the word "generous" starts with Gene. Not content with merely bringing a supply of great smokes, including his new CL3 and ML3 smokes for us, and he had several Unos given to several lucky winners.

The highlight of the evening was the raffle, to benefit our lobbying efforts. Gene donated 7 trips to his villa in the Dominican Republic, complete with factory tour, smokes, bar, and being fed by Gene's personal chef. Talk about a vacation in the lap of cigar luxury!

3) Other cigar makers supporting the event

Willy, of Willy Cigars, was rolling smokes through the entire event, and I landed a couple gorgeous looking maduros from his table. Cusano sent a supply of Cuvee and Rare Cameroons for the masses. Palamino Cigars came though, as did Savinelli, Clint's, Conch Republic, and delegations from Filipino and Peruvian cigar makers. Ladies and gentlemen, my hat's off to you.

4) Good friends to share the evening with

Uncle Booga and I were counting the hours until the event, we were that stoked to go. Ditch Digger and Liriel caught up with us later, at the venue. We all smoked and chatted the evening away, and for me, the company really made the evening. After the Festival, DD, Liriel and I had a great breakfast, and while DD diverted my attention, Liriel picked up the tab.

Hats off to you all for a great evening. I didn't take any pictures, but DD did, and so I imagine we'll see those soon enough.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Kraft Foods Announces Record Q3 Profits

Despite the volatile markets and flagging economy, Kraft Foods today announced record earnings in the third quarter, caused by an unprecedented growth in demand of their Kool-Aid product. Sales have been steadily increasing over the last 4 quarters with major jumps in the second and third quarters of 2008. When reached for comment, Kraft spokesman Hugh G. Pitcher said "Oh, yeah!"

With inventories at historic lows, Kraft is ramping up production to meet the surge in demand. Another Kool-Aid production facility is projected to begin operations in Washington D.C. during the first quarter of 2009.

Despite Kraft's optimism, analysts predict that sales may level off after the second quarter of 2009, and may even start falling as early as 2010.

Other sectors reporting increased demand, for differing reasons, are Brie, Chablis, Firearms, and Imported Cigars. Also, California agriculture officials are reporting a bumper crop of sour grapes, just in time for the post-election season.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

San Martin Liberator

Made by Tabacalera Del Oriente, the San Martin Liberator is billed as a Peruvian puro. One of my favorite Gurkha's, the Grand Age, and the RyJ Reserve Maduro both had some Peruvian tobacco in the fillers, so how bad could it be? My great friend and SC brother Ray copped this at IPCPR, and passed it onto me.

The wrapper on the Liberator is fugly. It's a mottled brown, brindle color that would look great on a pit bull, and has veins that a heroin addict would die for. The draw is nice and easy.

The flavor starts out earthy, with a mild nut mixed in. A nice leathery finish creeps in as the first inch burns away. So far, it's turning out to be an alright smoke.

The burn is a little wobbly, but my torch has stayed in my pocket so far. The ash is also decently solid.

There's a hay-like flavor that's been building, and it's starting to get "mouthful of grass" tasting. Thank goodness for the coffee I'm drinking along with the cigar. I'm an inch and a half into the cigar, and tempted to just let it go out.

Halfway through the cigar, the flavor has turned to mostly hay with a little leather. The original earthiness is still in the background, but I've never been crazy about hay-flavored cigars. It reminds me of the Sherpa I smoked earlier this year.

I'm getting to the point where I'm seriously thinking of grocery shopping, which usually doesn't speak well of the cigar I'm smoking. When my coffee is finished, so am I.

I guess that there's a good reason why we don't see many Peruvian puros: The world already has enough yard 'gars.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Playing Catchup

Wow, 6 months goes by pretty quick. I finished the spring semester with a B in Calculus I, and only by the skin of my teeth, and started the summer off with my wife giving birth to our fourth child. I've also been spending entirely too much time at Social Cigar, posting, chatting with friends, and wasting time in general.

In this long interval, I've been smoking some awesome cigars, decent cigars, and a couple crummy ones as well. I've been sampling some Pepin cigars, and I liked the Tatuaje P-Series enough to buy a box after smoking just one. I also smoked a couple of the Tatuaje Havana VI, CI Legends Yellow label, and Benchmade. I'm starting to see the reason's for the Pepin hype. I just hope it doesn't sour, like the hype around Rocky Patel's cigars.

Speaking of Rocky, I've finally landed some RP Sungrown, and liked them, along with the Indian Tabac 10th Anniversary, which I didn't really like.

The biggest revelation of the spring was my discovery of the Arturo Fuente Hemingway. I have found my "Deserted Island" cigar! If I could afford to smoke these on a regular basis, I would. But, they are not the cheapest cigar, so I save them for special occasions.

Other highlights were Oliva Serie V, Perdomo ESV '91 maduro, CAO Brazilia, Camacho Triple Maduro, and Camacho 10th Anniversary Corojo.

Macanudo 1968

Yeah, I've been on a break for a while. Having a fourth child will do that. But, let's keep it about the cigars...

I pounced on Mac's 3/$10 sampler offer when they debuted the 1968. Being an avid maduro fan, I couldn't pass it up. After letting them rest for a month, here I am smoking them.

This is a beautiful cigar, with a milk-chocolate complexion, oily texture, and mild veining. A squeeze here and there reveals a nicely packed cigar, but not overly so. The draw is easy, and the burn is tolerable, with a little wobbling that did not make me reach for the torch.

Flavor-wise, this cigar starts up in earnest, delivering the goods up front: Leather, earth, walnut and a nice, mild spice. and then it holds that chord for an hour. Sure, it's not a thrill ride, but it tastes good.

In a blind taste test, I'd guess this to be an Oliva Serie G or Perdomo Reserve maduro, but never a Macanudo. Still, at an MSRP of $8.50, it's overpriced when compared to an $6 Oliva or Perdomo cigar.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Nebraska Bans Smoking

Following Omaha's and Lincoln's smoking bans, Nebraska's unicameral (and uni-brain cell) legislature passed a ban against smoking in restaurants, bars and other public places, state-wide. If the governor signs it, the law will go into effect in June of 2009.

Really, why not just ban smoking and tobacco products altogether? If it's dangerous enough to ban in public, the State should ban it in private for the health and safety of the citizenry.

As for the bars and restaurants, the greatest health hazards in those places are on the plates...

Update 2/26/08: The Governor has signed the bill, it's law in Nebraska, and takes effect June 2009. It might take me that long to sell my house and move to northern Kentucky, where the nazis haven't completely crushed freedom.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Camacho Corojo Maduro

Camacho Corojo Maduro monarcha
$6, Size: 5", Ring: 50
Honduran Corojo wrapper, binder, and fillers

It's always a pleasant surprise to get a nice cigar in the mail, and it's better yet when the cigars are so appetizingly beautiful. TommyboyMartin, an anchor at Social Cigar, sent me a brace of these maduro lovelies, and they were a great starting point for getting acquainted with Camacho's different lines. The Camacho Corojo is a Honduran puro, stuffed, bound, and wrapped with corojo tobacco, notorious for being a feisty and tasty leaf.

A sumptuous shade of dark chocolate, the maduro corojo wrapper was mildly veined and velvety. Unprompted, my 7 year-old son remarked that it smelled like chocolate. The cigar felt moderately filled, with a draw that's free, without being loose, and the white ash held a bit over an inch beyond the burn line.

The cigar started with sweet leather and toasted nuts, with an initial tease of spice and cocoa. The flavors settled into a robust leather and nuts combo that had a peppery echo. The corojo turned on the afterburners in the last couple inches, pumping some sweet heat into the medium-bodied flavors. The body and flavors of the Corojo Maduro went great with my coffee.

The Corojo Maduro was the first Camacho cigar I've had, and it forebodes made more pleasurable experiences to come.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Rocky Patel Fusion

Rocky Patel Fusion robusto
$5, Size: 5.5", Ring: 50.
Habano wrapper, Ecuadorian Connecticut binder, with Cameroon, Honduran and Nicaraguan fillers.

As we draw near to Lent, a time of thoughtful meditation and self-sacrifice, I wanted to smoke something of repute before donning the sackcloth and ashes. Rocky Patel has been fairly prolific in recent years, and this is one of many different cigars he's blended to different concepts. The Fusion uses two wrapper tobaccos, with the Connecticut tobacco as a binder, and a Habano wrapper jacketing the entire package.

My cigar's Habano wrapper was smooth, had few veins, and was glossy. A light, almost floral aroma issued from it. The cigar felt moderately packed, with a nicely balanced draw once the cap was punched. I had no problems getting nice volumes of smoke, and a white ash stuck over an inch beyond the chronically wobbly burn line. Still, I only had to do a touch-up to the burn once.

The flavors were fairly mild to start, of lightly toasted nut and a mild wood note. There was a pepper flavor lurking, but really didn't come out to shine until after the second inch. By that time, the wood note had become more pronounced and cedar-like, blending well with the spicy white pepper flavor.

The overall flavors were between mild and medium, and the cigar had a bit of nicotine to it. Not a bad smoke, and I've got three more napping.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Alec Bradley Ovation Maduro

Alec Bradley Ovation maduro baron/robusto
$3.50, Size: 5", Ring: 54
Brazilian maduro wrapper, Mexican binder, Nicaraguan and Costa Rican fillers.

Under the ownership of Alec Bradley, Ovation seems to be an older sibling of the current Trilogy brand. Being a little fatter than its newer brethren, and not being listed on Alec Bradley's new website, I dare say this cigar won't be available too much longer, and only then on CBid. But, onto the cigar...

The Brazilian maduro wrapper was a medium chocolate color, had a smooth, matte texture with a faint gloss, and had wispery veins. I was impressed with the craftsmanship of the cap, as it was impeccably cut and applied. Getting more physical with it, the cigar felt nicely packed, and had a draw with noticeable resistance, but didn't feel outright tight. Once lit, the cigar burned pretty straight and held a good inch and a half of silvery ash.

After toasting the foot, the first half inch was extremely mild, with only a light tobacco flavor. Getting to an inch in, the flavor came in as a toasty nut, and as the second inch fumed away, a more present, leathery flavor joined in. Halfway through, a mild pepper flavor started lingering on the palate, and then strengthened with the leather . A dark, wood flavor bobbed in and out as well, while the pepper stayed strong to the finish. Not counting the first inch, I'd say the Ovation was close to medium bodied.

Although it is a slow starter, the Ovation maduro has some nice flavor to it, and is a worthy smoke. While supplies last, that is.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Perdomo Reserve Maduro

Perdomo Reserve Series R maduro robusto
$4, Size: 5", Ring:54
Nicaraguan maduro wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and fillers

I like maduro cigers. Okay, if you've seen the list of cigars I've bothered to write about, you could say that I LOVE maduro cigars. I've got a major-league sweet tooth, so a sweet, toothy maduro wrapped cigar usually hits the spot for me. Perdomo's Reserve series uses some of the best fillers that Nicaragua has to offer. Couple that with a velvety Nicaraguan maduro wrapper, and anyone would be in for a treat.

Onward to my experience, my cigar had a medium chocolate maduro wrapper, which was toothy with a slight gloss, and a few pronounced veins. It was also fairly thick, which is good for keeping all that tobacco inside the cigar. Hefting it by hand,it felt like a solidly build cigar, felt very packed, and the draw was restrained enough to prove it.

Burn needed some touch-up here and there, I've found that the thicker wrappers tend to do that to me, and the densely packed filler took its sweet time burning. There was also lots of rich smoke to be found.

Before lighting, the cigar was mildly sweet on the lips, while earth and cocoa flavors were present in the cold draw. After ignition, the smooth, rich flavors were of earth and dark cocoa. As the first inch fumed away, a spicy note joined the flavors, for a predominantly peppery cocoa flavor that stayed fairly constant to the end. A mild nutty flavor occasionally poked it's way in for a puff or two. The flavors never got overpowering, and stayed robust and smooth.

Overall, the Perdomo Reserve maduro is a densely packed cigar with a rich, medium bodied flavor. The price isn't bad either.

Patrick, guest reviewer at Cigar Jack, smoked the honkin' 7x54 Reserve C churchill.

Bum Cigar Day

Sooner or later, it's bound to happen: Each cigar you grab on that rare day will have a problem, leaving you with a tray of ash and no satisfaction. Statistical probabilities are so that even your most reputable cigars will have problems, and those problems will eventually coincide on the same day. I had that day yesterday.

The first was an afternoon cigar, as I strolled to the office to catch up on a couple things. I hadn't smoked this Dominican brand yet, but had smoked others from the same manufacturer, and so was reasonably confident as to it's quality. I even had someone tell me the night before that I would enjoy that cigar.

I toasted it up on the doorstep, got it lit, then started walking. Right away, the flavor was harsh, grating, and reminded me of a gigantic maduro Marlborough. I toughed it out, thinking that maybe the first half inch or so may be unhappy. It didn't stop there. The burn went all over the place, so I dropped ash after an inch, and retorched the foot to even it up.

It STILL tasted nasty, like a biker-bar ashtray. Another torturous inch later, I needed to ash and touch up the burn again. I'm getting closer to the office, and hoping that this cigar will start tasting better. No such luck. With a block left to walk, I let the cigar die, putting it out of my misery.

Work got done, I got some Chinese take-out for the family, and so elapsed the rest of the evening. I'm looking forward to tucking the kids in bed, and then pulling out another cigar, hoping it would make up for the dud of the afternoon.

Finally, the kids are put to bed, and I pulled the Nicaraguan beauty out of the box. Smelled tasty, and the wrapper tasted mildly sweet as I wet the cap a bit. After punching the cap, I noticed that the draw was a little tight, but the cold draw flavors still encouraged some enthusiasm. I gave the cigar a preemptive poke through the filler's center, then hunted up my torch.

I got her toasted, and started herfing away, while reading a Calculus textbook. The flavors were nice, but the draw seemed to tighten, so I massaged the cigar a bit, and kept the smoke flowing. For some reason, the fillers seemed reluctant to burn, or at least less inclined to burn than the wrappers.

I ended up with a Vesuvius-sized cone emerging from the wobbly burn line. No matter how I tried to correct it, the volcano would persist. I say volcano, because there was a shaft/void down the center of the cone, like a volcano.

The flavors were good, when I could get any smoke out of it. After 30 minutes of fighting with it, I pitched it behind the garage.

Two different cigars, two bitter disappointments. I think there were some obvious and not so obvious construction quirks at work against me. 'Tis a shame they had to coincide and ruin an otherwise pleasant day.

Friday, January 25, 2008

AVO no. 2 Maduro

AVO no. 2 maduro
$25/5-pack, Size:6" , Ring:50
USA Connecticut maduro wrapper, Dominican binder and fillers.

At a smoky gathering, just after Christmas, one of the guys was talking up Avo cigars. I had heard that Avo Uvezian had his cigars manufactured by Hendrick Kelner, whose cigars I have previously enjoyed, and figured it was worth pursuing a sample. I went to $25 for a 5 pack on CBid, which is a little beyond my usual ceiling, but I hoped it would be worthwhile.

The wrapper on the cigar I smoked tonight had some serious veins, and was toothier than a piranha. If the AVO label wasn't on the band, the rough appearance would have made it look like a $2 bundle cigar. Aroma from the wrapper was light and nutty, and while wetting the cap, I noticed that it wasn't markedly sweet.

Post-punch, the draw had a moderate amount of resistance, and though at the 3/4 mark, the draw felt constricted, a little massaging around the cap brought it back around. The burn line was mostly straight, with an inch and a half of silvery ash trailing behind it.

All the way through, the flavors were smooth and buttery, with a mild nut flavor at to start. The mild nut got stronger, and a little darker, as I cruised through the third inch, tasting like roasted hazelnuts. A mild, sweet pepper flavor came in at the last third, and finished spicy at the end. While not terribly complex, the flavors were pleasant and meshed nicely. I'd say that overall, the cigar was on the mild side of medium bodied.

If it were a blind taste test, and with my limited experience, I'd say this was a Kelner blend, from the moderate body to the gradually ramping spice near the end. All in all, a good smoke for a decent price, though if I had to pay $7 or $8, for this cigar, I'd feel a bit let down. I look forward to sampling more of Avo's lines, as budget will allow.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hoyo de Monterrey Rothschild

Hoyo de Monterrey Rothschild
$4.50, Size: 4.5", Ring: 50
Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, USA Connecticut binder, Honduran, Dominican, and Nicaraguan fillers.

Hoyo de Monterrey (HdM) is a huge name in cigars, mainly for Cuban smokes, but also for their fine cigars made in Honduras. Their Honduran cigars are rolled by the General Cigar Co., in the same facility that rolls Punch's non-cuban cigars.

This Hoyo rothschild had a dark tan wrapper, and was toothy with varicose veins. Once punched, I found it had a pretty loose draw, I had to really smoke gently. Usually, I prefer a more moderate resistance in a cigar. Burning was mostly straight, except for a couple forgivable wobbles, and the silvery ash held for over an inch.

I was greeted with strong flavors to start, with wood and roasted nuts. After first inch, a coffee undertone meshed with the wood flavor. Pepper started lingering on the palate after the second inch, then waxed stronger in the foreground. Robust flavors abound from solid start to spicy finish.

Hoyo de Monterrey didn't get their reputation for excellence by accident, and this bold tasting cigar continues the tradition. Being a maduro freak, I can't wait the put my torch to a HdM Dark Sumatra.

Smoke Signals toasted a HdM rothschild back in March 2007

Average Joe, Good Coffee

Since I'm usually chasing my cigars with a cup of joe, I figured that I may post how I get a great cuppa without breaking the bank.


Most of the time, I'm not drinking anything exotic, just Eight O'Clock Bean coffee. Once in a while, I'll get a small bag of Archer Farms coffee beans at Target, or I'll pick up some locally roasted beans for special occasions. The big thing is to get whole bean coffee, not ground. WHOLE BEAN. Remember that, and we'll get back to it.

Some folks roast their beans too harshly (Charbucks), or rarely, leave them a little underdone (tastes grassy, like a Sherpa cigar). I like the range between City Roast and Vienna Roast. If you're picking out beans at a local roaster, look for oily beans. If they look too dried out, they may have been sitting for a long time.

Okay, now that we've got beans, what then, smarty-pants? We grind them. Most folks end up with a whirling blade coffee grinder, which is pretty much the same as using an old Cuisinart food processor on them. You cannot really specify the grind size, like drip coffee versus espresso, with a whirlie. Also, whirlies don't do the best job of getting a consistent grind, where most of the grounds are fairly uniform.

For a more consistent grind, you need a burr grinder, which uses spaced metal cogs to grind beans to a specific texture. This way, you can tailor the grind to your specific situation.

When it comes to filters, I prefer unbleached, or brown, filters. Paper isn't naturally white, and I don't want the bleach in my coffee either. Worse yet is using a paper towel. Don't do it. Just get the brown filters.

CigarSmokingMan, a blogger of the first water, has pointed out the superiority of a gold, permanent filter basket. The basket replaces the paper filter, and holds the grounds during the drip brewing process. Paper filters can absorb the flavorful elements of the coffee as it's being brewed, while a permanent filter will not. Gold is important, as it will be durable and won't corrode, and is usually plated over a stainless steel wire mesh.

Do you LIKE to drink municipal tap water? Then why make coffee with it? Use filtered water for a better cup of coffee. I used to use the pitcher/cartridge systems, and eventually installed an under-sink system. Much better, and it doesn't take up room in your refrigerator.

There are a gazillion different apparati for making coffee. Percolator, automatic drip, French press, vacuum, ibrit (Turkish), cold press (toddy), espresso, and the list could go on. Friends don't let friends percolate coffee. As for the other methods, it's your pick.

I used to use a French Press, and it does yield a great cup of coffee, but it's a little more time-consuming. I bought a Bunn commercial coffee maker, which is automatic drip with a preheated reservoir of water. When I hit go, I have a full pot of coffee in three minutes. I like having coffee quickly.

Whichever kind you get, you'll want to clean it regularly. I find that white vinegar really cuts through the coffee residues on pots and filter baskets. Oxyclean is good as well, minus the loud, bearded guy.

Even brewing something as cheap as Folgers, I can get a decent cuppa by freshly grinding beans, using unbleached filters, and using filtered water. I also like a bit of brown sugar in my coffee, but that's another story. Bottom's up!

Monday, January 21, 2008


My apologies for the misleading calendar entry for February 3, 2008. The original entry was an errant prognostication on my part, which read:

Patriots v. Packers Superbowl

The entry has been amended to reflect reality:

Patriots v. Packers Giants Superbowl

And once again, my humblest apologies.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

GR Specials Red Label

GR Specials Red Label robusto
$2.95, Size: 6", Ring: 54
Nicaraguan Habano '99 wrapper, Colombian binder, Nicaraguan and Costa Rican fillers.

Rolled at Gran Habano's facilities in Honduras, this hefty GR Specials Red Label robusto is big enough to give other robustos an inferiority complex. I found a couple of boxes of these at my local B&M, so I bought one Red Label, and one Black Label, and went on my merry way.

It was hard to tell if this is supposed to be a maduro or not. The wrapper was a glossy, light chocolate color, with moderate veins, and not much aroma from wrapper.

I wet the cap a bit, and proceeded with the punch. I discovered an easy draw with an odd taste. You may think me crazy, but the cap and cold draw tasted like canned spinach. I thought I should drink a V-8 with this cigar. As smoldering got underway, the burn was wobbly and left a spotty, pigeon-grey ash.

There was not much flavor to start, then a toasted white bread flavor sluggishly built after the first inch. After two inches, I decided that I had better things to do, and let the cigar go out (by throwing it into a snow bank behind the garage).

For the brand's sake, I hope this cigar was an anomaly and not the norm for the Red Label. Even so, I don't feel particularly motivated to smoke another to find out. I want my 20 minutes back...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Arturo Fuente Chateau Fuente Maduro

Arturo Fuente Chateau Fuente maduro
$6 single (B&M), Size: 4.5", Ring:54
USA Connecticut wrapper, Dominican binder and fillers.

In searching out other cigar shops in town, I found a joint that's mainly a liquor store with a walk-in humidor. They sold mostly A. Fuente, Macanudo, and Acid by Drew Estate cigars, so I picked up a couple Fuente rothschilds and this Chateau Fuente. While I may have paid a little too much, I like to support the locals who bother stocking decent cigars. In quantity, you can get these cigars for between $3 and $4.

The Chateau Fuente was a nicely presented cigar, sporting a cedar sleeve, bound with green ribbon, and a particularly attractive maduro wrapper. Speaking of wrapper, this one was toothy, medium chocolate-colored with mild veins. As I was wetting the cap, I noticed that this wrapper was noticeably sweet. Was the cap sweetened?

The cigar seemed firm and well packed, and after punching, the draw seemed nicely balanced. Everything about this cigar screamed quality.

As for the burning part, despite a day in the drybox, this cigar burned a bit wobby, but never too severely. A silvery ash, with some dark spots, held for an inch and a half.

In addition to a classy presentation, this cigar tasted great as well. Right away, smooth and substantial flavors of sweet cedar and toasted nut were present, and stayed fairly constant to the end. A sweet, white pepper flavor started lingering on the palate after the first inch, and then flexed its muscles in the last inch.

There was a noticeable nicotine buzz afterwards, which caught me unawares. I hadn't eaten in a while before smoking, and felt the nicotine crest about 15 minutes after smoking. This is definitely an after meal cigar.

Overall, this was a high-quality, medium bodied cigar that smoked sweet and had punch. I'm all for getting a couple more for the humidor.

Update: I was able to score a 5-pack of Chateau Fuente Maduros on CBid for $17 + shipping, which would put the price about $4 each. Happy smoking.

Frigging Cold Outside

This morning, -5&deg, high noon, 5 &deg. I wish I had a space heater in the garage....

I've got an A. Fuente Chateau Fuente maduro set aside to smoke today, but I don't know if I'll do it. Between the local smoking ban, and my own home smoking ban, it looks like it's either bundle up, or shelve the stogies.

I'm sure that the guys at The Velvet Cigar, being in the Twin Cities, are in similar straits.

Obvious update: Well, the Chateau isn't huge, so I decided to brave the garage for a smoke. I took my thermometer from the humi as well, and found the garage to be a balmy 32&deg. I had a couple toro-sized cigars I wanted to try, but stuff of that length will have to wait for warmer weather.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Cuesta Rey Centenario No. 5

Cuesta Rey Centenario No. 5
$4, Size: 5.5", Ring: 43
USA Connecticut wrapper, Dominican binder and filler.

Another cigar I got in a trade, the Centenario no. 5 is rolled at the A. Fuente facilities in the Dominican Republic.

The tawny gold Connecticut wrapper was fairly veiny, and with a texture between glossy and toothy. It also seemed thin and a little flaky when dry. To the touch, the cigar feel very packed, and the draw was restrained, suggesting a tight rolling job.

As the smoking commenced, the Centenario burned fairly straight, holding ash for a bit over an inch. The tight draw stayed that way to the end, while the fillers had swollen enough to split the wrapper in the last third of the cigar. Still, I would venture to guess that the construction issues may be isolated to this single cigar, or the storage or smoking conditions.

Centenario came alive with mellow and toasty flavors of tobacco with sweet cedar and a hint of nuts. After an inch fumed away, a mild pepper flavor came in the finish, but never jumped into the fore. It seemed to dovetail nicely with my coffee. While the overall body of the cigar never got near medium, I'd call it 'present' to denote middle ground between mild and medium.

Like the Casa Toraño, Cuesta Rey's Centenario line proves that mild flavors aren't necessarily missing flavors.

Nestor Reserve Maduro

Nestor Reserve maduro box-pressed torpedo
$8/5 pk., Size:6.5", Ring: 54
Honduran wrapper, Cameroon binder, Honduran and Nicaraguan fillers.

Have you ever smoked a cigar, then realized that writing about it would be twice the waste of time as smoking the cigar in the first place? Yeah, this cigar was that good. However, I shall press on with this review as a public service.

This cigar is darker in person than it seems on a computer screen. It's a shade of brown that only espresso beans aspire to. It may also leave a brown stain on your lips and/or fingers. Still the wrapper was veiny and glossy, as one would expect from a $1.50 cigar.

The cigar seemed awfully light, and the middle parts soft, and the fairly loose draw gave rise to the suspicion that there wasn't much tobacco in there. Once lit, the burn line was all over the place. Still, I didn't want to waste any more torch fuel on it, so I let it meander about. It never canoed, or ran more than an inch, so I let it be. Funny thing about the burn line, for a quarter inch ahead of it, the wrapper swelled like the blistered skin of a hot dog.

As for the flavor; at one point there was one. In smelling the wrapper, and again in the cold draw, I was getting a bitter, dark chocolate taste. Once lit, the flavors were really subdued, almost imperceptible, or maybe so blended that I couldn't pick out anything definite. Somewhere near the middle, a faint pepper flavor emerged for an inch, then disappeared again. That's all I can say for that topic. It was nowhere near the description ".. rich and robust taste with a wonderful aroma and exquisite construction".

The Nestor Reserve is not an H.P. Lovecraft horror story. It just struck me as a somewhat bland cigar. Which is a shame, because a mild cigar doesn't have to be bland. Still, most of the time, you get what you pay for.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Carlos Toraño Casa Toraño

Carlos Toraño Casa Toraño robusto
$5.00, Size: 5", Ring: 50
Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and Honduran, Nicaraguan and mixed Central American tobacco fillers.

A popular internet cigar dealer recently had a special deal on a Toraño sampler, so an associate and I jumped on the deal. Really, better than a horse's head in your bed, 20 Toraño cigars for only $56 is an offer too good to refuse.

So, I took my share of the booty, put most of the cigars in my top-shelf humidor. I threw this Casa Toraño robusto into the dry box to smoke as soon as I wanted.

Overall, the construction of the cigar was nigh flawless. The wrapper was a pale gold, smooth, slightly oily, and with few distracting veins. Squeezing the cigar yielded the impression of a substantial amount of tobacco, well rolled, and the draw was easy without being too loose. While smoking, the cigar burned straight and true, with a silvery ash clinging for over an inch. It was an effortless smoke.

The flavors were smooth, mild and pleasant, of toast and nuts. Midway, a mild, white pepper flavor came in, and got stronger near the tingly finish. The smoke itself was generous and creamy.

Sure, you can get mild cigars that may cost half of what you'd pay for a Casa Toraño, but you won't get the quality. Though I'm more partial to maduro cigars with a little more body, this cigar was a pleasure to smoke. And after all, isn't that why we do it?

Cigar Jack tackled the Casa Toraño robusto in May 2007, and found it pleasant as well.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Miura Directo de Fabrica Maduro

Miura Directo de Fabrica maduro
$2.50, Size: 5", Ring: 50
Tastes like Nicaraguan tobacco, with maybe some Honduran blended in with the Nicaraguan filler.

I was at one of my favorite cigar shops, and saw a couple crates of unbanded cigars, of various vitolas and colors, with a bull emblem and the name 'Miura'. Judging from the colors, bottle-blonde connecticut, impossibly cherry red, and an apparently dyed maduro, I bought a couple robustos of each maduros and blondes, and decided to give it a go. Smoke first, research later.

The wrapper on the maduro was a shade of bluish-brown that I hadn't seen yet on a cigar. There were a fair amount of veins, but still the wrapper felt smooth, with a glossy sheen to it. Nosing along the wrapper, I got a whiff of musty earth. Pre-light draw was similarly musty tasting, and was mildly restrained.

Burning was fairly straight, with an oddly colored ash holding on for almost two inches. The ash was a bluish-grey, slate color and speckled with small white granules, like sugar.

Now, to the flavors while smoking: toasty earth and hay, followed by some spice, which both scream 'Nicaragua' to me. After the first third, a naugahyde flavor comes as well. Naugahyde, you say? You know, almost like leather, but with an obviously chemical aftertaste. The spice flexes a bit during the last third, and then finishes mildly. Over all, the cigar had an almost medium-bodied taste, with a good amount of smoke. Not super thick, but not thin either.

Now, it's time to track down the maker and the specifics of the cigar. First, we hit Google....

Ahh, Miura has a web site, and according to the front page, they're based in Esteli, Nicaragua.

Looking at the product info, the cigar I smoked, a 'Directo de Fabrica', had a Brazilian maduro wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and Nicaraguan and Panamanian fillers.

Okay, so what we have here is another cheap Nicaraguan cigar, which I'd put even with Tierra Del Sol, and a notch under Flor de Oliva. Some could consider Miura cigars to be good yard gars, or even regard it so highly as to be daily smokers. But, since I don't smoke every day, I'm not usually entranced by an everyday smoke.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

5 Vegas Series 'A' Artisan

5 Vegas Series 'A' Artisan robusto
$4, Size: 5", Ring: 52
Costa Rican maduro wrapper, Nicaraguan Binder, Honduran, Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers.

Just one look at the 5 Vegas Series 'A' is enough to make the maduro lover start salivating. The lush, dark maduro wrapper, the large, shiny, embossed band and cedar sleeve combine for a very impressive presentation.

Once liberated from the cedar sleeve, the Costa Rican maduro wrapper appeared a rich chocolate color, smooth and slightly glossy, with only a couple obvious veins. An aroma of cocoa rose from the wrapper, and was also present at a cold draw. I dry-boxed this cigar for a couple days before smoking it, hoping to reverse a trend of sloppily burning cigars. The cigar burned pretty straight, holding a grey ash for 1.5 inches.

From first draw to the last, this cigar was smooth. An appetizing combination of nuts and cocoa are the initial flavors, with cedar joining in soon after. Sweet pepper flavors replaced the nuts after the first inch, with the body building towards medium strength. At the last third, the flavor abated a bit, with the pepper receding and the nuts returning, and ended that way.

The only annoyance, with an inch and a half left to smoke, the wrapper burst ahead of the burn line, and fairly suddenly. I thought it was odd, but some other reviewers of Series 'A' cigars have had similar experiences. The cigar still smoked fine after the split, and I was able to smoke down to a nub.

Series 'A' could stand for affordable, attractive, or even awesome. I would call it an amiable smoke. Just make sure to dry box it for a couple days to keep the fillers from swelling so much as to split the wrapper. I've got a couple more for my future amusement.

A gaggle of folks have reviewed other vitolas of the Series 'A':
Keepers of the Flame smoked the diminuative Anomaly.
Brian Hewitt smoked the Archetype toro, one of which burst similar to my experience.
Stogie Review also smoked the exploding Archetype.
Cigar Jack smoked the larger Apex toro plus.

Googling About

In searching out information on some of my favorite cigars, I started to notice some of my blog entries in the results:

Okay, Alec Bradley's Occidental Reserve Double Broadleaf and Cusano's 18 Paired Maduro aren't huge names, so my paltry contribution doesn't mean that much. How about some more prolific entries:

Indian Tabac Cameroon Legend and 5 Vegas Gold should be bigger names, yet my reviews are still getting front-page billing on Google. Still in disbelief, I pushed on to test bigger names in my humidor:

Wow. To get first page billing for Rocky Patel Vintage 1992 and Oliva Serie G maduro, it's inconceivable. Is there a targeting algorithm at work? Anyone else want to test this out, to see if you get the same search results? Really, how does one so incompetent get on the first page of Gurkha Grand Age search results:

Update: Using a web browser at the local public library, these search results were confirmed. I'm still surprised.

Angel 100 'La Meca'

Angel 100 'La Meca' bellicoso
$3.00, Size:6.5", Ring: 52,
Ecuadorian maduro wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, Nicaraguan and Peruvian fillers.

Though 'Oliva' appears on the band, Oliva Cigar Family may not have had much to do with the Angel 100. Pity, that. Instead, this cigar was made by Oliva Tobacco Co., a farm in Nicaragua that supplies tobacco to the Oliva Cigar Family. Clear?

For starters, this wrapper was fugly: mottled brown, very veiny, tobacco wrinkly, splashes of adhesive. And for the two-point conversion, the wrapper smelled a bit musty, and that taste carried into the cold draw. Quick, fetch the beer goggles....

Once lit, the taste was relatively smooth and medium-bodied, with woody flavors. After a couple inches, a peppery aftertaste would sporadically appear. That's all.

The Angel 100's burn needed divine intervention on several occasions, and seemed to be high-maintenance, requiring frequent puffs to keep it going. An indecisive white and grey ash followed the loopy burn line, dropping after an inch or so. The draw started out medium, but was closing off near the finish of the smokeable portion of the cigar.

While smoking the Angel 100 wasn't a trip into the Abyss, it didn't get me anywhere near Seventh Heaven either.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Yaque Valley, D.R.

Yaque Valley is a cigar tobacco hot spot in the Cibao Valley region of the Dominican Republic, and the cradle of some of Hendrick Kelner's best tobaccos.

View Larger Map

The Yaque Valley is part of the larger Cibao Valley region, which provides tobaccos to some of the biggest names in cigars: Arturo Fuente, Davidoff, Avo, and Gurkha.

Keepers of the Flame have a good article on the Dominican Republic.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Montecristo Dark no. 444

Montecristo Dark no. 444
$ 4.00, Size: 4", Ring:40
Mexican wrapper and binder, Honduran filler.

An orphan I got in trade, I had to do a little research to figure out what cigar this was. Montecristo is another big name in cigars, and the brand is currently distributed by tobacco behemoth Altadis.

The wrapper on this cigar was a light to medium brown, a bit toothy with a touch of oil, and fairly veiny. There was a small sunspot on the wrapper, but it wasn't a big deal. Post-punching, the draw was easygoing, and stayed that way throughout the smoke. A light grey, granular looking ash stuck for a little over an inch past a pretty sharp burn line.

Right away, the cigar was smooth and woody, with a medium body and nice plumes of smoke. Almost 2 inches in, which was third quarter for this cigar, a bold white pepper flavor joined in to ride out the duration.

This is a nice, short smoke. But for the price one would pay over the counter, a comparable cigar could be found for less money.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Rocky Patel OSG

Rocky Patel OSG petite corona
$ ??, Size: 4.5", Ring: 44

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

[cue music]

Rocky Patel: Original Sun Grown

An increasingly successful
tobacco blender, Rocky Patel,
designed a cigar using sun-grown
Honduran wrappers. The project was
interrupted by business issues at the factory,
and the first batch of cigars stored while Rocky
searched for other production facilities. After a new
start at a new factory, and with development of the Vintage
series completed, Rocky returned his attention to sun-grown
tobacco. He started over from the beginning, with the results being
the popular Sun Grown line. The cigars from the initial run at the first
factory were branded OSG, and then unleashed upon an unsuspecting galaxy..

The point is, after these are gone, they're gone, baby. Luckily, I managed to snag one, and now you get to hear about it.

The wrapper was a non-conformist in color: a burl/marbled appearance in tawny colors. Almost like a cafe au lait camoflage. While fairly smooth, there were a few pronounced veins, but they were hard to spot behind the camoflage. A squeeze was met with firm resistance, and the draw was easy. The burn was pretty straight, and ash held for more than 2 inches before thumping to the ground.

At first light, the flavor was immediately present with a sweet, nutty taste with some tangy component that's hard to describe. After the first inch, the tanginess and sweetness subsided, and the flavor became more like cedar and nuts in a medium-bodied presentation. Mid-cigar, a white pepper aftertaste began building, then appeared in the main flavor with the cedar. The cedar taste grew stronger and woodier towards the finish.

Rocky's OSG was a pretty good cigar, and I've heard even better things about its descendent, the Sun Grown.

" Sun Grown, Rocky Patel never told you what happened to your father."

" He told me enough. He told me you killed him."

" No. I AM your father.."

" No. No. That's not true! That's impossible!"

" Search your fillers, you know it to be true."

" Noooooo..."

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Indian Tabac Maduro Tomahawk

Indian Tabac Maduro Tomahawk
$10/ 5 Pack, Size: 6", Ring: 52
Connecticut maduro broadleaf wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, Nicaraguan, Costa Rican and Honduran fillers

Indian Tabac did maduro as dark as other cigar makers' oscuro, and this Tomahawk was no exception. The Connecticut wrapper was a deep brown, with a smooth, matte surface and inconspicuous veins. It looked like a fine Italian leather jacket. It also smelled like a fine Italian leather jacket, with a chocolate bar in one of the pockets.

To a pinch, the body felt very solid, and the draw was mildly restrained. As smoking commenced, the cigar burned irregularly, needing a couple touch-up torch sessions before the midpoint. The draw tightened up at that point, but was relieved by some gentle massaging along the length of the cigar. Ash was light grey, and held for at least an inch, but I had to ash prior to cleaning up the burn, so I don't know how long it would have held.

A cold draw summoned sweet leather and cocoa flavors, echoing the aroma of the wrapper. The cigar started with a mild leather flavor, with a slight note of hay. I wasn't quite impressed. Yet.

After the first inch, the hay overtone disappeared, and was replaced by a woody cedar taste. By the middle of the cigar, the medium-bodied flavors of cedar and leather were dominating, and they continued to strengthen as the smoke went on. By the end, the flavor was a full-bodied, with the faintest spice in the finish.

While the Tomahawk maduro may be a slow starter, it delivers a solid flavor in exchange for a modest price.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Padrón 2000 Maduro

Padrón 2000 maduro robusto
$3.50 single (B&M), Size: 5", Ring: 50
puro Nicaraguan wrapper, binder, and filler

Continuing my trek through Nicaraguan cigars, the Padrón name looms large before me. Still focused on the economical cigar, I found the Padrón 2000 to fit the bill (no pun intended). The 2000 is likely rolled at Padrón's facilities in Esteli, Nicaragua, from puro, sun-grown, cuban-seed Nicaraguan tobacco.

The maduro wrapper was fairly dry and toothy, with minor veins and a rough-hewn looking cap. The wrapper leaves weren't too carefully matched for color, as the leaves nearest the cap formed a bit of the 'barber pole' look that's lately come into vogue. Still, despite its unrefined look, the 2000 was fairly well constructed: the cigar was well packed, draw was easy, and the burn relatively straight. A mottled grey ash extended almost 2 inches past the burn line.

Before lighting, the wrapper gives a light leather aroma, with a cold draw bringing the same flavor. Once smoldering has commenced, the dominant flavor is an almost medium bodied leather taste, with an overtone of sweet hay. After the first couple inches, a mild peppery flavor appears, but never gets particularly spicy. The leather and hay flavors linger a bit on the palate for a medium finish.

The 2000 is a moderate cigar with fairly standard Nicaraguan flavors. Inoffensive, but nothing to jump up and down about either, unless you'd been smoking even cheaper Nicaraguan cigars (like a Tierra Del Sol). Cigar Command likes it though, and I never argue with a Marine when I can avoid it.

Flor de Oliva Maduro

Flor de Oliva maduro robusto
$9/5-pack, Size: 5", Ring: 50
Nicaraguan wrapper, binder, and filler

Yeah, I got goaded into jumping to the Flor de Oliva by the guys at Cigar Jack. After reading their review, and subsequent comments, I decided to smoke one that's been cooling its heels for a week in the humidor.

The maduro wrapper was a dark, chocolate color, with a texture in between toothy and slightly oily. There's a couple pronounced veins, but they didn't look terribly bothersome. After a squeeze, I was left with the impression of a firmly packed cigar.

The first one out of the humi had been unwrapped for a few days, and both layers of cap looked like they were going to peel off. So, I wet the cap generously for a while before punching it, in hopes of avoiding a messy start. The draw was right between medium and almost tight, which wasn't surprising given how firm the cigar felt. The burn line was fairly straight, with first silvery ash staying for almost two inches.

An aroma of mild cocoa rises from the wrapper, and is present in a cold draw. Upon lighting, the flavor is a smooth, mild-bodied mix of roast nuts, hay, and a little cocoa, and there it stays through the first half. At the turn, the flavor changes to a mild, white pepper with the same hay overtone. The pepper flavor lingers on the palate for a medium finish.

This is a better quality cheap, Nicaraguan cigar in terms of smoothness of flavor and burn. Still, I'd rather spend the extra dollar on an Oliva Serie G maduro.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Bock Y Ca Edicion de Oro

Bock Y Ca Edicion de Oro robusto
$1.50 single, Size: 5", Ring: 50
Sumatran wrapper, Nicaraguan Habano binder, Nicaraguan filler

Bock Y Ca is one of the classic cigar brands, and recently resurrected by Altadis with the Edicion de Oro line of cigars.

While rough looking, this cigar felt well constructed. The medium brown wrapper was toothy, with few veins, but pronounced seams. Drawing through the cigar was easy, but not loose, and the cigar burned fairly straight. A silver-white ash held for over an inch and a half.

The Edicion de Oro has a flavor that's I've found in many Nicaraguan cigars: medium earthy, with an overtone of hay. The flavor was smooth and medium-bodied from first light to the 45 minute end. Toward the last third, a spicy flavor started in the palate, and moved to be noticeable in the body of the cigar. Someone once used the term 'Barnyard' to describe a cigar's flavor to me, and I think the Edicion de Oro would illustrate that well.

Not a bad cigar, if you like the chewy, barnyard flavor. And hey, it's cheap.

Keepers of the Flame , gave the history lesson and reviewed this cigar in November 2007.

Top 5 of 2007

In the vogue of other bloggers, giving top 5 lists of their favorite cigars of the year, here are mine:

Top 5 Bundle/inexpensive

1. Occidental Reserve Double Broadleaf robusto - A nice tasting cigar, well blended, and at a great value.

2. Fire by Indian Tabac maduro robusto - A tasty, medium bodied cigar with a price that belies its popular pedigree.

3. Cusano CC robusto - This cigar has bright, present flavors that had been hard to find in cheaper cigars. Kelner's a master blender, even for the budget cigars.

4. Cusano P1 robusto - As with the CC, the P1's smooth, mellow character is top-shelf quality, but at bundle prices.

5. 5 Vegas Gold robusto - Here's a politely mild cigar that has flavor and great construction.

Top 5 better cigars:

1. Carlos Toraño Signature Collection robusto - This nicely aged cigar is full of present and rounded flavors.

2. Gurkha Grand Age perfecto - The Grand age was delicious, and despite the construction problems I had with one, I'd recommend these.

3. Indian Tabac Cameroon Legend - This cigar has rich flavors and rich smoke, but not a rich price tag.

4. Cusano 18 Paired Maduro - This cigar is a tasty convergence of Hendrick Kelner's influences in Cusano and Occidental Reserve bundle cigars.

5. Oliva Serie G maduro bellicoso - Serie G is a sweet and medium-bodied cigar, well made, and decently priced.