Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Apokalyptic Rating System

Okay, so I don't really give quantitative ratings to the cigars I smoke. I don't really believe in the numeric ratings system used by the big mags, but I guess I should give some sort of indication of how much I like a given cigar. So, I've developed my own system.

Four Horsemen Rating: An excellent cigar in Construction, Flavor, and Value.

3.5 Horsemen Rating: A great cigar in all areas.

3 Horsemen Rating: A good cigar, may have a drawback, but generally good.

2.5 Horsemen Rating: An alright cigar, may not be perfect, but satisfactory in most respects.

2 Horsemen Rating: Eh. So-so. I was hoping for better. you get the point.

1 Horseman Rating: I want my money back. What was I thinking. Never again.

So, I'll be gradually adding these to past reviews, as well as reviews going forward.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Esteban Carreras 10 Años robusto

Walking through the local cigar shop has become painful. I see the cigar prices on the shelves, and I wince as I continue walking towards the bundle cigar section. I love a good cigar, but the prices are getting unbearable.

So, when I plunked down more than $20 for a pair of the Esteban Carreras 10 Años, I had this queasy feeling that accompanies any lightening of the wallet. But, once I got one of these fugly, but tasty sticks lit, the flavors chased away that ill feeling:


Nice flavors, fairly consistent.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Esteban Carreras' rep for the entire middle of the country, Kris Booker. We had a smoke at a local shop, and I got some nice background into the company and the cigars.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Troya Clasico robusto

Ladies and gentlemen; sometimes, a recommendation can get you in trouble. My friend and colleague, Uncle Booga, had the good fortune to be a reviewer for the Winter '09 Cigar Magazine, and one of the cigars to smoke was the Troya Clasico. On his recommendation, and against my better judgment, I picked up a pair of them at the shop.

"Holy crap!"
" $9.60!?"
" Plus tax?!"
" EACH!?"
"For a ROBUSTO?!"

I paced the walk-in humidor. I held the pair of robustos, almost putting them back in the box. Damn, Booga said these were good. How good could they be? Hell, Pepin's got a new cigar out as often as I fart. How good could they be? The La Aroma de Cuba was pretty good, and that was $8, and I still felt it was overpriced.

So, I went ahead and bought the pair of Troya and headed home, wondering if I've just thrown away good money. How good could they be?

So here it was, a month later, and I fished one out of the cooler. (Heh, "Hogan! 30 days in the cooler for you!")

The Troya Clasico robusto has a nice, medium brown Nicaraguan Corojo wrapper sporting moderate veining on an otherwise smooth surface with light tooth. This 5x54 cigar felt hefty in the hand, like it was decently stuffed with Pepin's Nicaraguan fillers, and the draw had some moderate restraint to agree.

The cigar started off with Pepin's trademark white & black pepper blast. Okay, Holt's 'Old Henry' started off this way too, and it only costs half that of the Troya. Great. La Aroma de Cuba, all over again.

And then, after the "Pepin is in da Hizzouse" beginning, the cigar changed. Wow. The flavors were simple: Cedar and leather with a thick, creamy white pepper alfredo sauce. So creamy, that it really coated the palate with a smooth pepper spice. I'd say this cigar was medium to full-bodied, and I didn't notice any outrageous nicotine content.

It was delicious. All the way to the finger-burning nub.

The flavor didn't change much the rest of the cigar, but that was fine with me, as this was a lovely blend. I didn't really want to like it, as I hate falling in love with expensive cigars. But, despite my resistance, Pepin's reeled me in on this one. I hate when that happens.


If the price were a buck cheaper, this would be a solid 4 Horseman stick.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

CI Legends Purple - Graycliff

Well, the University semester has started, so I've been taking my Calculus III exercises to the garage for some smoky cognition. Tonight, it was Cigars International Legends series, the Purple label, a nice and inexpensive cigar from Graycliff.

I had this cigar in the humidor for almost a year, if not longer, and so it's had plenty of time to chill out. The Habano wrapper was a tawny grey/brown color, with some moderate veins and a bit of tooth. A nice nut/leather aroma was faint, but pleasant, and more leathery near the foot. The cigar felt a little on the light side, with a little give to the gentle squeeze, but not spongy at all.

The draw was good for the first half, but then closed up, with the burn getting funky about halfway through. After powering through what seemed like a knot in the fillers, the final third of the cigar smoked as fine as the first.

This cigar sports Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers, and has an unusual flavor profile. On first light, there was a medium-bodied presentation of leather and sweet coffee, with an nutty undertone. At times, I caught a fruity/citrus note, the coffee and leather would interplay a bit. Getting toward the nub, and nice, smooth spice eased in, like fine Dominican ligero.

The flavors were nice, sweet, never harsh, and not very earthy either. The cigar flirted with medium-bodied, but was more on the mild side of medium than anything else. Maybe a function of the age of the cigar?

Still it was a nice smoke, and eased the pain of advanced mathematics quite a bit. Plus, at $5 each (less if by auction), these are a good glimpse at more expensive Graycliff blends.


Good flavors, most of the time, and decent construction with a palatable price.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Camacho 10th Anniversary Corojo 11/18

Special times call for special cigars, and my 10th wedding anniversary was no exception. Being gifted with a cornball sense of humor, I grabbed a Camacho 10th Anniversary Corojo that's been resting in the humidor for almost a year and a half.

Camacho is renowned for the power of their cigars, with Coyolar and SLR being very muscular blends, and the regular Corojo line having some kick to it as well. The 10th Anni is more about finesse than brute force, and the cigar has just become smoother with time:


Tasty cigar, I just wish they were $2 cheaper per stick.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cain Habano torpedo

Woof. The Cain Maduro was quite the mouthful of nicely substantial flavors. I've really come to appreciate Nicaraguan tobaccos, and Oliva Cigar grows some of the best. Along with the great flavors, Oliva has made very reasonably priced cigars, with the Cain line running $7-8 on the B&M shelf. Great flavors + reasonable prices = lots of Oliva boxes in the Humidor of the Apokalypse.

Another great thing is that there's a hustlin' Oliva sales rep on the Great Plains, and we've been getting the new releases of Nub and Cain with really timely speed. It used to take some considerable time for new cigars to get to Nebraska, but not anymore. I just picked up a pair of the Cain maduro 550, and it's only been a week since IPCPR.

Cain is billed as "Straight Ligero", but is really about 82% ligero, but who's quibbling? The boxes have the ligero origins: 25% Esteli, 27% Condega, and 30% Jalapa ligeros. It's a powerful cigar, and they burn for a long time, like the cigar version of the Everlasting Gobstopper. But, with power comes great responsibility. So, after a couple sirloin steaks, I felt sufficiently forearmed to tangle with the Cain Habano.

Cain's habano wrapper was medium brown, with a couple moderate veins and slight oil sheen over its toothy surface. The cigar felt solid and substantial, like a 20MM AA cartridge. While smoking, the burn line was pretty straight until the final third, and the silver-white ash dropped after about 1.5 inches.

Right away earthy wood, with a pronounced peppery Habano tone. Even my wife, catching a whiff as I smoked on the deck, remarked that it smelled spicy. Definitely medium-full bodied. The Habano heat ducked into the background after the first half-inch, leaving the solid, earthy wood and leather flavors to dominate.

In the second inch, the flavors turned leathery, along with the mild spice in the background, but still kept up the full strength. This was not a hard cigar to enjoy at all. As the final inch burned away, the spice got a bit stronger and the burn line started wobbling a bit.

Overall, for all the power of the cigar, the flavors were fairly smooth, and with a subtle spice in the finish. What a cigar!


Good flavor, good price, I bet with some age, these will be sublime.

Perdomo ESV 1991 maduro regente

I can believe that I hadn't written about one of my favorite Nicaraguan cigars yet, the Perdomo ESV '91 maduro. I had first smoked these a couple years ago, got floored by the flavor, and then quickly snapped up a handful off an auction site. Since then, I've only smoked a couple, and the rest have been hiding in the cooler, apparently getting tastier with the time.

It's been at least 6 months since I've smoked one, so I decided to partake.

While not a particularly dark maduro, like the dark but blotchy Partagas Black, Perdomo's Nicaraguan maduro wrapper exudes a sweetness to the profile that's unmatched. The draw was perfectly balanced, and the cigar dropped ash every 1.5 inches or so.

The first flavors presented were a mildly earthy coffee and leather blend, with a mild cocoa note and no obvious spice. It's like a smooth, medium-bodied mocha profile. Paradise. And this flavor was pretty static through the first half.

In the second half, a very smooth spice entered, and I was reminded of a Padron Anniversary 1964 maduro. The flavors were very smooth and refined in that second half. Not bad for a $6 cigar.

The spice gradually built up towards the nub, finishing splendidly. This is definitely a cigar leaves you savoring the aftertaste after the cigar has been long gone.

I will be jealously guarding the remaining stash..


Good flavors, decent construction, and was priced pretty well. 'Tis a shame they're gone.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Joya Cubana 2009 Corojo

Another advance sample from my pal Roger at Joya Cubana, the Joya Cubana Corojo is just that, a Corojo-wrapped torpedo and is a sight to behold. The dark brown wrapper is fairly smooth, with a couple moderate veins and faint sheen of oil. The fillers are a blend of Nicaraguan and Honduran tobaccos.

The cigar had a free draw, without being completely loose. While smoking, the burn line wobbled a bit ahead of the dark gray ash.

First flavors of buttery cedar and leather, with Corojo's red pepper heat lurking in the background. The sinuses picked up the Corojo heat pretty good. Nice volume of smoke. The corojo is nicely balanced with the other flavors, adding a bit of heat without being overpowering. Occasional hints of coffee present themselves. After the first inch, body mellowed a bit, coming down a notch from a solid medium.

But, After a couple inches, it went out. I relit it and a little bit later, it went out again. The cigar kept self-extinguishing. I smoked three inches in all, then got tired of the game.

The following weekend, I broke out another:

I hate to dog on a cigar that I didn't pay for, but it seems that the rolling quality of the Joya Cubana Corojo isn't what it should be. Either that, or the cigars are still 'young' and need a couple months to age/chill/relax to burn better. I now need to re-smoke the Joya Cubana maduro, and see if I lucked out with a good stick the first time around.


A rep from Joya Cubana suggests that the cigars may have been a little too humid still from the factory. True, and a couple days in a dry box won't really fix that. So I'm going to hang onto this last Corojo torpedo for a couple months and smoke it again to see what happens. Joya Cubana seems to have been a hit at IPCPR, which is great; they make a great-tasting cigar. I hope to see these in a shop humidor near me.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cain Maduro torpedo

I've said that I'm lucky, but in all reality, I'm incredibly blessed. Loving wife, healthy children, sustaining employment, and an Oliva cigar sales rep that gives me a holler when he's coming to town. Cory's latest largesse was a pair of the new Cain torpedos, natural and maduro. I am most unworthy.

Cain's bold, earthy flavor profile is intimidating, but it's a smooth smoke that will take a couple hours to savor. The Mexican-wrapped, Nicaraguan cigar is just extraordinary:

Thanks again, Most Honorable Bringer of Premium Smoke. With friends like you, who needs Cigar Aficionado?

A hearty 'shank you' to Sony Music for nuking my first edition of the video. If you would rather Danzig languish in deepening obscurity, that's fine.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Joya Cubana Maduro 2009 torpedo

I'm a very lucky guy. Not only do I have a great hobby, in which the quality and variety have been unparalleled in decades, but I've made friends and acquaintances of the highest caliber as well. My friend Roger whalloped my mailbox with a handful of Joya Cubana's latest offerings, and the maduro torpedo rung my bell from the moment I unpacked the box.

Thanks, Roger and Joya Cubana, keep up the great work. The Joya Cubana Maduro is a great-tasting cigar.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sapa Inca, by Dulce Vida Cigar

Sapa Inca is another blend by boutique cigar maker, Dulce Vida. Peruvian tobaccos are featured in many of Dulce Vida's offerings, and the Sapa Inca is no different. Well, okay, it's a lot different. This line has a much simpler flavor profile, and it's not as heavy and earthy as some of the La Bonita line.

Sapa Inca is another tasty cigar from Dulce Vida, and helps diversify their lineup. Keep at 'em Paula Pia!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Black Band Cigar 'A', aka Camacho Connecticut

Yes, it seemed like an eternity for some of us, but here they are:

I'm not crazy about shade-grown Connecticut wrappers. I'm just not entranced by the sweet hay flavor that I get from them most of the time. Also, many blends that sport a shade-grown wrapper tend to be fairly mild, and some downright bland.

On the other hand, I have grown to love most of Camacho's cigars. Never shy, and most often bold, the Eiroa blending philosophy has tended to suit my palate well. So, when I heard that Camacho was doing a Connecticut shade wrapped cigar, I was willing to entertain the notion. Camacho with a shade-grown wrapper? Some influence from the recent Davidoff acquisition?

The tawny, shade-grown Connecticut wrapper had a couple obvious veins and gave a mild hay aroma with peppery spice on the lips. After cutting the cap, the draw was fairly free. While smoking the cigar had a fairly sharp burn line and mildly flaky silver ash. It seemed like the cigar burned a bit faster than other Camacho offerings, and then dropped ash after an inch and a half.

The initial puffs brought leather and hay flavors, with a present spice for the sinuses. Started medium, but pulled back to mild after the first inch. Occasional puffs brought a medium-bodied hay/leather flavor, but mostly mild, and the spice tailed off as well. The hay flavor was occasionally grassy.

To compare, Camacho's Connecticut seems a little milder and less earthy than Oliva's recent Connecticut release. Connecticut is till not my preference, but the blend had flavor, for those who like the grassier flavor profile. I imagine that it suits Mr. Coffee and Scones just fine.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

First Impressions: ITC Split Decision

I've had these sticks hidden in the cooler for at least 6 months, and decided today was the day. I took my cigar, soda, and chair down to the park to watch the medieval re-enactors beat each other with rattan swords. Once set up, I got down to business with the ITC Split Decision connecticut shade/maduro barberpole.

The cigar gave a pre-light aroma of sweet hay and dry cocoa, and felt a little on the spongy side. The draw felt a bit on the loose side. Once lit, I got some mild flavors of nut, coca, and hay, which would flex to medium at unpredictable intervals.

The cigar burned off on one side, due to the bunching of the fillers, and I could follow a nice void down the side of the cigar. I touched up the slower burning side every inch or so.

I thought the flavors were okay, but a bit mild for my tastes, and I hope the next one is rolled better.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Lars Tetens chBEz C1

An unusual cigar from an unusual cigar maker, the chBEz C1 is a stocky morsel of unique flavors. I got a tasty sampler of Lars' confectionary and incendiary wares from Mr. Travis, which was an eye-opening experience in both flavors and style. The confections were an intro to unconventional flavor combinations that I would experience in the chBEz.

The particular cigar I smoked was a bit soft, and the draw was very free, but once lit, it burned well. The ash left behind was a silver-white, and a bit flaky.

The aroma from the unlit cigar reminded me of the Evil Chocolate Brownie, a confection of chocolate brownie, caramel, and tea leaves. Like chocolate, with an herbal component. Even before lighting the cigar, I knew it would be a unique experience.

Once lit, the flavors were unlike any cigar I'd smoked before; leathery, sweet herbal, with an odd tea-like note. I think I might have liked it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

5 Vegas Relic

One of my most excellent brethren at Social Cigar, Joe Ed., bombed my mailbox recently. The bomb was heavy with Manuel Qesada-made cigars, including the 5 Vegas Relic.

Great smoke, and a great gift from a great friend. Thanks, Joe!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Fonseca Signature Series Robusto

The passel of delights I received recently contained a Fonseca cigar that I've never seen before. Now, I've only had one other run-in with Fonseca, and it was terribly boring, so I've really given the brand no attention since. But, the dark, oily wrapper of this cigar just pushed all the right buttons to stir my interest, so I took it to the office for a lunchtime smoke.

The black band below the Fonseca label reads "Signature Series by Manuel Quesada". This cigar must be either pre-release, or a forgotten run from Fonseca, as there's not much info readily available on the web. Nice dark, oily wrapper, 5.25" x 50ish

The wrapper left a nice tingle on the lips on the cold draw, like the wrapper was a sun-grown Habano, or perhaps Corojo. The draw was fairly loose, and had a nice taste of leather.

After getting it lit, the cigar offered a nice blend of peppery spice and leather for the first inch. The medium-bodied flavors were quite a change from the Fonseca 5-50, which was about as exciting as a bowl of Cheerios.

In the second inch, the spice tailed off, leaving a solid, earthy leather flavor for a while. Getting into the last third, the leather flavor was joined with a sweet hay flavor, which would occasionally bury the leather flavors.

Overall, I enjoyed this cigar's array of medium-bodied flavors. The Fonseca Signature Series is another attention-worthy blend from Manuel Quesada.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Esteban Carreras Habano Maduro Rothman

Upon returning from my travels, I dropped into my local shops to see if there was anything new. Sure enough, there were some new sticks in the humidor. 'Esteban Carreras' is a brand I'm unfamiliar with, but remember a cheap brand called 'Esteban Carrera' (no 'S' at the end) that I bought at an unnamed internet cigar auction site. Esteban Carreras Habano and Dias Ano lines are rolled at the facilities of Abdel Fernandez in Esteli, Nicaragua.

The Habano line are Nicaraguan puros, in either natural or maduro wrappers, and me being a devotee of the Dark Side, I'm smoking the maduro. I bought the 'Rothman' size, a 4 x 54, almost Nubbish looking thing. The shelf price for singles was $6, so I plunked down for a pair.

The wrapper on this cigar was a rich brown color, mildly veined, with a sheen of oil obvious to both eyes and fingers. A cold draw left me with tingly lips, reminding me of some spicy Thai dishes I've enjoyed in the past. The draw was also moderately resistant, indicating a well-packed cigar.

Then, I lit it.

Black pepper.
More pepper.
Black pepper-crusted peppercorns in pepper sauce.

For the first inch, the utterly dominant flavor is pepper. As the first inch wanes, leather and coffee flavors elbow their way into the picture, and by the second inch, the pepper has politely stepped back to allow other flavors to share the stage. All the while, this was a solidly medium to full-bodied cigar.

After the second inch, I did a nub stand on the 2 inches of solid ash, and after picking up the cigar again, the ash dropped off in one piece. Pulling into the nub, and after a couple touch-ups with the torch, the spicy pepper still remained present behind the leather and coffee flavors.

The Esteban Carreras Habano maduro is a powerful smoke, and is the perfect stick for the spice/pepper junkies out there.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Getting Bombed

In the cigar enthusiast community, there's a time-honored tradition of pyrotechnic philanthropy called "Bombing". A bombing usually consists of a mailed package containing cigars and various other implements of enjoyment, i.e. small bottles of Scotch, snack foods, regional tourist trinkets, skid-marked underwear, et cetera. The main focus is the cigars.

Bombings can be pre-announced, holiday or birthday related, though some of the best ones are sneak-attacks on unsuspecting acquaintances.

Well, yours truly got a stealth bomb in the mail today:

This primo bomb, from Social Cigar member Joe Ed., illustrates a great cross section of great cigars, and quality budget cigars. One shouldn't send a bomb of cigars that one wouldn't give to a good friend in person, or of cigars that you, as the sender, wouldn't smoke yourself.

Once one has been bombed, there are some loose protocols about public thanks, aka 'Shout Out' on a social networking or other web site, and retribution to either the sender, or to take out your smoky ire on a third, unsuspecting party.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

La Bonita Red Band robusto

There are times when anticipation and expectation are just barely held in check, creating a delightful tension to the moment. I was at that moment while clipping the cap on the La Bonita Red Band cigar. After such pleasurable experiences with La Bonita's Orange and Purple blends, I was eager to taste Paula Pia's vision in Red.

La Bonita cigars feature the oiliest wrappers I've ever felt, and the dark, sumptuous wrapper on the Red was no exception. The website didn't have the tobaccos listed for the Red, but I'd guess Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers. The cigar itself felt very well-packed, with a fairly resistant draw.

A cold draw brought a forecast of dark earth and coffee, with a mild tingle of spice on the lips from the wrapper. Once lit, rich and earthy flavors of leather and coffee were immediately apparent. After a half inch, the leathery flavor turned woody as a pleasant transition, but kept it's medium-full body.

After a couple inches, a soft, smooth spice eased it's way into the flavor. The earthy leather and coffee stayed fairly constant over the last half of the cigar. This blend is as robust as the Orange or Purple, but I got the feeling there's less ligero in the Red blend.

Once again, another excellent blend from Dulce Vida. Definitely do a couple days of dry box time to minimize burn issues from the fairly stuffed fillers and thick and oily wrapper.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

On the Road: Ohio

I'm traveling with the family, taking the wife and kids to see in-laws and grandparents. I took the opportunity to put together a couple herfs with friends from various cigar sites, and while visitng my wife's kin, I herfed at Woodland Cigar Company, in Delaware, Ohio.

A comfortable and well-stocked shop, Woodland is a great place to meet up and spend an afternoon in smoky luxury. My friend, Brian, from Social Cigar, suggested Woodland, and I'm glad he did. It's a great place to smoke and visit.

I lucked out, and showed up at the same time as a sizable shipment of Perdomo cigars, including the new Grand Cru. I bought a pair of the Grand Cru maduros, as well as a pair of the ever-delicious 10th Anniversary Maduro. Scanning the shelves for things I haven't seen in Nebraska, I also scored a pair of Isla de Cuba maduros and Roxor Deluxe maduro robustos.

The lounge areas at Woodland are quite comfortable, and the owner's a hospitable and friendly guy. Next time I'm in this stretch of Ohio, I'm sure to drop in again.

My wife's kin are mostly in Wooster, Ohio, and we spent a majority of the time there. In Wooster, there's a shop called 'The City News', which has a nice assortment of Fuente cigars (including Hemingway), Romeo y Julieta, Rocky Patel, and Montecristo. I picked up pairs of RyJ Habano Reserve and RP's Cameroon Especial to provide some economic stimulus to the local economy.

Monday, June 22, 2009

La Bonita Purple Band robusto

Sometimes, you come across a quiet treasure, something wonderful that few people know about. I'm starting to believe that Dulce Vida's cigars are just that quiet treasure. I smoked their 'La Bonita' orange-banded, maduro cigar last weekend, and it was a pleasant shock.

The purple band is no less tasty:

I still have a couple more blends to sample from Dulce Vida, and I'm looking forward to them with eager anticipation.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

CAO Black Bengal

Cigars Direct sent me a load of CAO cigars, and half of them cigars I hadn't tried yet. CAO Black is one of the lines I had yet to try, so this checks off one more from the 'try' list. The 6 x 50 CAO Black Bengal is a cedar-sleeved, majestic looking cigar, akin in color to an Altadis Montecristo. At about $6 per cigar, it's not terribly expensive.

CAO cigar's Ecuadorian shade-grown Connecticut wrapper was light brown, had fine veins and an aroma of light hay and leather. This jacketed a blend of Nicaraguan, Honduran and Mexican fillers. The draw had a nice, smooth resistance to it, and the cigar burned darned near perfect.

The first 3 inches of the cigar featured the same general flavor of toasty, woody leather, with a barely perceptible spice in the finish. just a notch shy of medium bodied. Spice/black pepper flexed a bit near the nub, but not enough to make me consider calling this cigar "spicy" at all. Still, it had a little more gusto than your run of the mill Connecticut shade-grown-wrapped cigar.

Like a well-worn, comfortable pair of shoes,this cigar isn't flashy, but it'll get the job done. CAO Black, and a cup of coffee or couple fingers of a good bourbon, and you're good to go.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dulce Vida 'La Bonita' robusto

I love finding, and smoking, cigars that come from off the beaten path of most cigar shop shelves. All it takes is an ear to the ground, and a willingness to try something new.

I first heard of Dulce Vida Cigars on Social Cigar, and contacted proprietress Paula Pia Ventunelli for a sampler. a couple weeks later, the sampler arrived in a unique box with cameo, and the cigars with ribbon bands. I would have smoked it sooner, but seasonal allergies had me plugged up for quite a while.

Being a maniac for maduro, the 'Orange Band' La Bonita is what I dove for first, and I'm glad I did. Here's the description from Dulce Vida's website:

A blend of Peruvian ligero, Dominican Sumatra, Dominican Peloto with a San Andres Morron Limpio binder. The wrapper is a Dominican Sumatra sweated maduro.

The dark brown wrapper was soft like velvet, unlike any cigar I've touched before. It was resting in the humi a month, but still felt like it was either super oily or just wet. Just in case, I threw it into the dry box for a couple days. After the dry box, the wrapper felt like soft, Egyptian cotton terrycloth.

The cigar felt hefty in the hand and well packed, and I got flavors of earth and spice on cold draw.

Once toasted and lit, I had first impressions of earthy leather, Black coffee with nice spice lingering. Definitely in the medium to full-bodied category. Rich, earthy flavor. Lots of smoke. After first inch, flavor shifted a little to an earthy cedar with the spice still singing back-up.

I got the same feeling as when I smoked my first Illusione, like I had discovered a wonderfully complex, yet well-balanced blend. If you like Illusione, I have a strong hunch that you'll like this cigar as well.

Two inches in, and the cigar still was packing a solid medium-bodied punch, and spice still lingered on the palate. This cigar is fairly slow-smoking too, with 2 inches taking at least 30 minutes, so we're looking at an hour-long robusto.

The Dulce Vida 'Orange Band' may have a feminine touch to the exterior, but the blend is no shrinking violet.

Thanks to roller/entrepeneur Paula Pia Ventunelli for the samples. It isn't easy for a small biz to get noticed, and the people with the dream are wagering their backsides to succeed. Boutique cigar fans, best jump on these before they get discovered!

CAO MX2 Robusto

CAO's MX2 is a delicious, Western Hemisphere blend of Brazilian, Nicaraguan, Honduran, Dominican and Peruvian tobaccos. I reviewed the MX2 Dagger cigarillo in my winter short smoke shootout video series, and have smoked a couple of the regular-sized models as well. This sample came via Cigars Direct, so props to the sponsor!

There are certain moments when a cigar becomes a magical experience, and this MX2 got to participate. I was out camping with my son's cub scout pack, and after dinner, I found myself in a quiet stretch of the lakeshore, looking across the water at beautiful sunset. Cigar smoldering at hand, it was a peaceful hour, despite the roving bands of "indians" (aka cub scouts) scouring the lakeshore for rival barbarians (aka other cub scouts).

MX2's dark, Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper had a nice, oily gloss to it, the cigar felt firm, and the draw had a nice resistance to it.

Right away, The MX2 fronted a bold, leathery flavor with some cedary spice and black coffee. After the opening notes, I also detected a bitter, dark chocolate flavor, like those spendy 85% cacao chocolate bars. Heading for the nub, a harsh, ashy spice stared building up on the palate, so I let it go. The cigar was a solid medium-bodied smoke, waxing towards full at the nub.

The first 3 inches of the CAO MX2 robusto are the best, and offer a complex and tasty flavor profile for the maduro fan.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Oliva Omaha Event and Nub Maduro 460

Good things come to those who wait, baby. Boy howdy, do they. Oliva Cigars had their first ever Nebraska event at Ted's Tobacco in Omaha, and it was a blast. A special thanks goes to Cory Horinek, our region's Oliva rep, whose enthusiasm has really been a shot in the arm for Oliva fans here in the Plains.

I had the pleasure of tagging along with Social Cigar pals Ditch Digger, Liriel, and internet cigar veteran Uncle Booga, and we made the roadtrip a party on wheels. We made some purchases, scored some killer swag, and smoked some wicked tasty cigars:

The Nub Maduro 460 is another shining example of killer Nicaraguan maduro, sweet and smooth. Though there's no info on the Maduro on the Nub site, several sites are claiming the wrapper is Brazilian. The wrapper tastes less peppery than the wrapper on the CAO Brazilia or MX2, and tastes more like the maduro Nicaraguan wrapper of the AB Maxx.

The wrapper's that delectable dark brown that bodes sweetness, and the cigar felt fairly firm, but also felt a little light in the hand. The draw was a little loose, so I had to pace myself when drawing on the cigar. Despite the loose draw, the cigar burned fairly evenly, only requiring a minor touch-up.

Once lit, the flavors are immediate; Leather, cocoa, a touch of cedar, and a mild spice in the finish. The flavors don't change much, except maybe in intensity, over the duration of the smoke. But, with such pleasant flavors, that's not an issue for me.

At $7, this is a tasty smoke and a great addition to the Nub line.

Friday, June 5, 2009

CAO Black VR Totem

This dark and tasty toro came to me from Cigars Direct, so hats off to the sponsor!

I admit it; when I'm cruising the cigar store's humidor, I usually look at the prices on the CAO cigars, then keep walking. I'm not cheap, but I am cautious, and when I see a robusto priced at $8-9 I pass. I've smoked the CAO Brazilia Gol! and Amazon, and the Italia Ciao because they're a better price at $5-6. The Black VR can be had online for about $6/each, so it fits better in my budget.

The Black VR shares the Brazilia's deliciously dark maduro Brazilian wrapper, but harbors a blend of Nicaraguan and Mexican tobaccos in the core.

My cigar felt well packed, and drew with noticeable resistance. Before lighting, I caught a musty leather aroma coming from the wrapper, and a light spice on the lips during a cold draw.

Lighting it up, the first inch was a great blend of leather, earth, with some peppery spice in the finish. I would call it solid medium to medium-full, and tasty as well. Getting farther into the cigar, the spice dialed back (as most blends do)and settled into a nice earthy leather with occasional nut flavor.

In the end, I'm left with ashes, and empty coffee cup, and a stupid grin on my face. What more can you ask for?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Partagas Cigar Cave

Help me out, vote for my not-so-sobby sob story!

Partagas Cigar Cave

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Quick Impression: Ambos Mundos

Mmm, nice woody Pepin-esque flavors minus the pepper and spice. Starts mild, and flexes to almost-medium near the end. This would fit somewhere between the Tatuaje P-Series and Havana VI in terms of strength, but paying $6 off the shelf, I'd rather spend the extra buck for a Havana VI.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Nub Habano Torpedo

This cigar is so fat, the band has stretch marks.

Sam Leccia's brainchild, the Nub skips the customary cigar introductions, and gets straight to the sweet spot. Judging from the reviews I've read, and the amount of Nub events I hear about, Oliva Cigars have backed a winner.

Cigars Direct sent me this particular specimen, and I'd been itching to try the Habano line. The Nub Cameroons I had smoked last summer were good, but mild, and didn't wow me.

This cigar is so fat, when I clipped the torpedo's point, the open area looked as big as the foot on a churchill.

The Habano's wrapper is a rich brown hue, with fine veins and an aroma of earthy leather.

First light: Nice, earthy leather tones, with a mild spice on the lips and in the sinuses. Hints of nuts occasionally too.

The earthy leather flavor continued, along with the mild spice for the duration of the smoke. The burn line was a tad wobbly, but I didn't fret about it until the cigar extinguished 1/2" after getting started. I'm glad I filled my lighter before starting out...

This cigar is so fat, it wants Kirstie Alley to be its "skinny friend".

The smoke wasn't particularly thick, and the cigar needed lots of torch touch ups to stay well lit. Maybe with a couple days of drybox time, this stubby cigar would stay lit better.

In the end, as much as I liked the flavors, the high-maintenance factor turned me off. I'll smoke others another time and see if the assessment changes.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Punch Gran Puro Santa Rita

This chubby rothschild from Punch is like a Toyota corolla: it isn't fancy, but you know you'll get where you need to go whenever you get in.

The sun-grown Honduran wrapper was a nice medium brown, lightly veined, and put a spicy tingle on the lips while getting it lit. Drawing on this cigar was easy, without being loose, and the cigar held a nice inch or more of ash, even today's gusty wind.

Once lit, the Gran Puro gave a solid earthy leather flavor, complemented by a mild spice. The flavor and body stayed fairly constant through the 45 minutes I was smoking it. Toward the nub, the leather flexes with a return of the mild spice. Overall, this is a medium to medium-full cigar.

Neither an expensive cigar nor terribly exciting, the Punch Gran Puro is a dependably good stick for those on a budget.

Monday, May 18, 2009

More from Cigars Direct

Okay, so, some of you might remember that I had agreed to write reviews for and link to Cigars Direct. I had agreed to it, then thought better of the whole venture, and e-mailed them to cancel the arrangement.

Four weeks after asking them to cancel, I got a box of 5 cigars. Well, two weeks after that, I come home today to find ANOTHER box of 5 cigars. If it didn't come with loaded expectations, I'd be dancing in the aisles.

So, I feel obligated to smoke these fine cigars, and write my unique brand of critic pap about them. Oh woe is me. [In case you didn't catch it, I'm being facetious.] I guess that we'll soon be seeing some reviews for CAO Brazilia, Italia, MX2, which are some long-time favorites of mine, plus CAO Black and Black VR, which are newcomers to my humidor.

Once again, thanks to Cigars Direct for the cigars! Maybe I should send them cancellations more often.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tatuaje Havana VI Nobles

Pepin Whore (/pɛ,pin hɔr/or /pɛ,pɪn hoʊr/) noun,

1. A cigar smoker that smokes many cigars made by Don Jose "Pepin" Garcia.
2. A cigar smoker that irrationally extols the value and/or quality of said cigars.

Okay, I'm not a complete Pepin Whore, but I'm pretty damn close. It all started with a Tatuaje P-Series, followed by San Cristobal, and then snowballed with Tatujae Havana VI, DPG Serie JJ maduro, 5 Vegas Miami, DPG Black Label, Cigars International Yellow Label, DPG Blue, Benchmade,Vegas Cubana, and La Aroma de Cuba Edicion Especial. I've smoked all but the most expensive cigars by Don Pepin Garcia, and I've managed to enjoy them all.

The Tatuaje Havana VI (aka Red Label) is a Pepin-blended cigar made for Pete Johnson, and a tasty cigar with a personal parking stall in my humidor. This Nicaraguan puro is a flavorful experience.

The lightly toothy, sun-grown Corojo wrapper shows some mild veining, an has a light oil sheen as well. An aroma of cedar and leather rose from this moderately packed cigar, and a pinch revealed a light spring to the fillers.

On first light, I caught an explosion of dry, crisp pepper and cedar flavors. The finish, at first, was crisp and short, but a leathery flavor lingered on the palate as I smoked farther. After an inch, the flavors settled into a dry cedar with leather lingering on the palate. There was a moderate amount of smoke, but being so dry, I'd hesitate to call it creamy.

Smoking to the nub, a spicy pepper rejoins the cedar and leather for a rewarding finish. All through the cigar, the draw was immaculate, and the dove-gray ash held for over an inch.

At $5-8 each, depending on how you get them, the Havana VI line are a great quality smoke, and well worth the expense.

Thanks to Cigars Direct for providing a familiar friend in the sampler.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Cigars Direct

A few weeks ago, under the delusion of grandeur, I accepted an advertising deal with Cigars Direct. After some soul-searching and ego tamping, I decided that my calling is not to be a bloviating sack of cigar opinions. I e-mailed Cigars Direct, and informed them that I was going to ice the blog and pursue humbler aspirations.

Well, sure enough, 7 weeks after accepting the offer, and 4 weeks after informing them to cancel, a box of five fine cigars shows up on my doorstep. So, being a man of my hastily-given word, I'll be placing copious links to Cigars Direct's website from the reviews of the cigars they've sent me.

I've already reviewed the Rocky Patel Fusion, so I've added appropriate linkage within that review. Some of these other cigars I have not reviewed, so those reviews will be forthcoming as well.

Tatuaje Havana VI is a personal favorite, though I haven't written a review for it. Nub Habano and CAO Gold will be new experiences.

As for the Sherpa toro, I've already reviewed once, but am willing to try another. A man can't be dragged through grassy hell TWICE, can he?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fuente Anejo #55, and other thoughts

Well, I made it through another busy semester of work projects, class, kids, cub scout meetings, late night lab sessions, and teeth-grinding exams. I was oscillating between D and C for much of the semester, thanks to a couple disastrous exam results. My lab work an homework assignment grades were my upwards lift.

The final exam consisted of circuits and problems that gave people the most grief of previous exams. The final semester grade came back as 3.0, meaning I did pretty good on the Final Exam. So I felt like rewarding myself, and fished out a Fuente Anejo #55 that I bought before New Years.

Mmmmm, smooooooth. Aside from some irregular burning, the Anejo smoked great, and the flavors were a chorus of leather, cedar, coffee, and mild spice. What a cigar.

I've noticed something about the super-premium cigars that I've been fortunate enough to smoke: the flavor profile seems to be a true blend.

To borrow a musical analogy, I'd explain it as the difference between a small singing group and a choir. Gladys Knight & the Pips, Ray Charles and the Raelettes, or the Bee Gees are all great singing groups, but there are some dominant voices, and others that sink way into the background. That's how I see the flavors of many premium cigars, where there's one very obvious flavor at the moment, with a couple others lurking in the background. The foreground flavor may change here and there, but there's always someone in front, and the others back in the background.

The choir analogy for the super-premium cigars speaks to the complexity and character of the blend. There's a harmonic richness, and individual voices are more difficult to single out. The overall experience is one of smooth, rich texture, without having to be 'strong' enough to kick you in the teeth.

The Anejo #55, Padron Anniversary 1964 maduro, and Oliva Master Blends I strike me as choral masterpieces of cigar blending.

Okay, enough blathering for now..

Friday, May 8, 2009

Isabela Miami Esplendito

Heh. I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer and, at times, it shows bold and obvious. I reviewed the Isabela Miami robusto not too long ago, and the sweetness of the cap befuddled me. I usually associate sweetened caps with Swisher Sweets, but a commenter here set me straight about the construction of the Isabela, and how it follows Cuban cigar tradition. So, here's my mea culpa and obligatory self-effacement:

The Isabela is as good a smoke as it's shorter sibling. Vicente Ortiz and Prime Cigar Co. have a winner on their hands.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Oliva Serie G Cameroon Double Robusto

I smoked an Oliva Serie G Cameroon-wrappered double robusto for lunch, chatting with the region's Oliva super-rep, Cory Horinek. The Omaha event is June 6th, and I'm stoked. Daddy's getting a box of these Serie G cammies for Father's Day.

I usually smoke the maduro lines that Oliva offers, but I felt like switching it up today, and I'm glad I did. I love a Cameroon wrapper almost as much as I love maduro, and the Oliva G is a great blend to sport it. Bright, woody flavors with coffee and gentle spice, the Serie G is shy of medium-bodied, but nowhere near being a wimpy cigar either.

The double robusto (5x54) size smokes nice and cool, so the flavors don't get harsh.

New Arrivals: Dulce Vida

I came home tonight to a pleasant surprise; a box with a double fistful of robustos from Dulce Vida. Some of my favorite cigar blends have a helping of Peruvian tobacco, and Dulce Vida is flashing the Peruvian flag at me. I'm going to let these rest a couple weeks from their travels, then I'll smoke'm up and hollah about it.

Like a Vampire, it Rises Again

I just couldn't let all the reviews just vanish forever. I'm just going to be more casual about the reviews.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

La Aroma de Cuba Edicion Especial

Of the gazillion cigars that have recently announced a Pepin Garcia patrimony, this Ashton cigar falls in the middle of the power/price pack. At $5-7 each, depending on your local taxes, they fall in between the top-shelf San Cristobal and the economical Benchmade, both fellow Ashton brands.

The Edicion Especial is a blend of Nicaraguan tobaccos, jacketed in an Ecuadorian, sun-grown wrapper. The robusto seemed to smoke pretty fast, despite feeling reasonably packed.

With a strength hovering just below medium, this cigar didn't seem to stand out against similar cigars. The Tatuaje P-Series or CI Legends Yellow label may be more affordable alternatives, with similar flavor profiles.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Oliva Master Blends I torpedo

This is a cigar WAY beyond my usual means, and only came into my possession as a gift from my Oliva sales rep, Cory. This is an incredible gift, and I'm grateful. Cory has taken the territory by storm, and is plotting event mayhem in every corner. Oliva is in great hands here.

Back to the cigar, the silver-brown wrapper was mildly veined, and emitted a light leather/hay aroma. A pinch along the cigar's body was slightly yielding, but never soft, and the draw was perfectly balanced.

Toasted and lit, the cigar became an orgy of leather, coffee and mild, earthy spice with occasional caramel and vanilla notes. The flavors weren't too powerful, but they were quite smooth, the body of the cigar being a solid medium, waxing full near the nub. In this way, it reminded me of a Padron Anniversary cigar; great flavors, never overpowering, and incredibly smooth. A Master Blend indeed.

I have had the good fortune to buy a couple Master Blends III robustos, being $9 each, and will be reviewing them soon. If they age as well as this Master Blends I, I'm going to need to put a half-dozen down for a six-year nap, and see what happens.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

CAO LX2 toro

First off, I'd like to give a shout out to Cigar Inspector and Jon Huber of CAO for the LX2 sampler. I won their contest for most comments in a month's period, and a fiver of LX2 was the prize.

On to the toro, things didn't go so well. It tasted great, but despite being kept at 65% and dryboxed for a day, the cigar started tight and eventually plugged up and split a little from swelling. The cigar kept self-extinguishing as well, so the experience ended up being more work than pleasure:

So, I'm looking forward to smoking some of the other sizes in the sampler, to see how rolling is on those. If the toro shows up in my local shops, I'll try a couple more, from a different batch, to see how well they smoke.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Don Francisco Custom Blend robusto

The Custom Blend was a treat to smoke, with dark, earthy flavors abounding. I first heard of Don Francisco cigars on the former Cigar Live internet site, now called Puff.com. The denizens there were quite taken with Don Francisco's offerings, so I ventured to buy a sampler of the most popular blends.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Isabela robusto

A classy-looking cigar, but with a sweetened cap.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Arganese CL3 robusto


I've smoked a lot of corojo: Fire (by ITC), Camacho, Alec Bradley, Cusano, J. Fuego, and Padilla. The corojo and ligero-laden CL3 is one of the best-blended corojo smokes I've had.

The wrapper is mildly veined, medium-brown, and emits a tingle to the lips as you get acquainted. The draw is firm, but perfect considering the ligero in the cigar: It slows down the cigar to make sure all the tobacco burns well. It's a perfect rolling job that takes into account the tobaccos in the blend. That's the mark of a master.

The first half inch is a tasty introduction to the blend, woodsy cedar flavor with mild red pepper notes and a tingly spice in the background. The Dominican corojo is well represented in the blend without being ham-fisted with the heat. The flavors stay pretty much the same through most of the cigar, with occasional coffee notes. Getting to the nub, the corojo heat kicks up, as does the spice.

Eat a meal before this cigar, and while it's not a complete nicotine bomb, there's enough ligero in this to get the ol' midsection moving.

I think I've found my new favorite corojo. And at $5 each, the CL3 (and ML3) is definitely an economical competitor to the J. Fuego Gran Reserva Corojo no. 1 and Camacho 10th Anniversary Corojo.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Arganese ML3 robusto

Wow. Arganese's ML3 has a smooth, but powerful Dominican corojo blend inside a Brazilian maduro wrapper. The ligero is a great team player in the blend, lending a quiet strength to the cigar, with a moderate amount of nicotine.

For $5 you won't find many stronger cigars. I'd give the ML3 a solid B+.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cruzado Dantes: A Cigar Lover's Cigar

I've smoked a couple of these, and while the $9 shelf price goes beyond my usual ceiling, it is quite a cigar.

The blend was unusual, in that the herbal notes and floral notes were predominant. At times, I tasted sage, tarragon, and the earthy, floral notes didn't strike me as over the top, "grandma's gardenia perfume." The gentle spice that held it all together was nice as well, like cardamom. It was not the more common black or white pepper flavor, or the red pepper heat of corojo. It was an unusual blend.

At $9, plus local taxes, it's not an inexpensive cigar, but you do get your money's worth from a captivating and exotic blend.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Oliva Connecticut Reserve robusto

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Through the first half, the Connecticut Reserve is a mild cigar, but at the half, Oliva flexes some medium strength leather and earth. Another great cigar from Oliva.


I'm sitting here, enjoying a fine cigar, just thinking out loud:

As much as they can try to make them the same, no two hand-rolled cigars will ever be EXACTLY alike. There will always be subtle variations in the fillers, wrappers and construction, even in the best cigars. Each cigar should be both enjoyed and judged as if it were a unique individual.

Reviews are a funny thing. If a cigar tastes good or bad to an individual is really secondary for me. What I'm tuning in for is overall quality; was the cigar well made, with care and craftsmanship. If a review is negative, I'd like to know how many the reviewer smoked before rendering judgment. Any cigar maker can have a poorly rolled cigar slip out, but if 2/3 are too tight, or fall apart, that's worth noting.

Ratings are a funny thing too. While I don't put much creedance into any one source, like Cigar Aficionado or Puff.com, I do pay attention to the aggregate, especially in the cigar's contruction quality area. Taste is one thing, but if a good number of reviewers notice that the cigar puffs up and splits after 30 minutes, I pay attention.

I don't chase after the expensive brands, or the latest hits, unless I've got some decent reason for doing so. A good reason might be that I like many of the maker's previous releases, so I give the new stick a shot, especially if it's in my price range. If it's not in my usual price range, I may buy one or two for a very special occasion, and then only on recommendation from a mate whose palate reads similar to mine. I'm not gonna blow $15 on a cigar if I'm gonna hate it after the first inch. That's just stupid.

I don't smoke all the time, only 3-4 per week, which lets me smoke slightly better cigars than if I smoked every day. I also spread it out a bit: cheaper smokes($2-3) mid-week and Friday nights, better cigar ($3-5) on Saturday night, and something nice ($6-10) on Sundays. Something that the cheaper cigars and the premium sticks have in common: I manage to enjoy them all. I am just as excited to hit the garage with a 5 Vegas Series A and a cup of coffee, as I am with a Fuente Hemingway or Camacho Triple Maduro. Well, okay, I may be a LITTLE more excited to get the Triple Maduro smoking.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Joya Cubana Habano robusto

A new cigar from a little-known company. Tastes pretty good, but construction may be an issue:

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Rocky Patel Winter Collection robusto

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It takes a little while for cigars to get to Nebraska cigar shops, as evidenced by the Rocky Patel Winter Collection showing up the first week of March. So, I snagged a pair and smoked them both only days apart.

The first half-inch is magnificent, like my favorite maduros (Camacho Triple Maduro, Oliva Serie O maduro), bold, spicy and earthy. The rest of the cigar is more akin to RP Edge maduro or even RP Vintage 1992, which isn't bad, but it's not near as good as the beginning of the cigar.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Upcoming Reviews

Man, I've got a serious backlog of cigars to be reviewed. if this warming trend continues, I can get cracking on:

Joya Cubana, habano-wrapped and barber-pole versions, courtesy of Roger Toledo
Don Francisco Custom Blend and Pilo
Rocky Patel Winter Collection (just finally getting to Nebraska, in time for spring :-\ )
Arganese ML3 and CL3 (Maduro Ligero x 3 and Corojo Ligero x3)
Willy's Cigars (Ha, let the jokes commence)
CAO LX2, courtesy of Cigar Inspector and CAO's Jon Huber

I can't wait to get smokin' on these fine sticks..

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Props to Cigar Inspector and CAO Cigars

Cigar Inspector, the review website, hosted a comment contest over the last few weeks, and invited us to join in. Jon Huber, of CAO Cigars, spotted the prizes of fivers of CAO cigars.

Really, all I had to do was give my opinion. On EVERYTHING. Anyone who's been around for a few months know's that getting my opinion on something is easy as hitting the enter key. And I didn't wallow in "Ha, Kalutika said _______" post-padding either.

Well, my abundance of opinion impressed the judges, and they awarded me with a fiver of CAO LX2 cigars! Once the weather warms, I'll be smoking , reviewing, and otherwise relishing these fine cigars.

Hats off to Cigar Inspector and John Huber of CAO!

Joya Cubana Bomb

Roger Toledo.

Note the name of this BOTL and hopeful purveyor of Joya Cubana cigars. Roger sent me a sampler pack of some tasty looking cigars from his company, and I'm eager to get these burning once they've rested a little in the humidor.

Roger sent pairs of the Habano-wrapped robustos and barber-pole robustos, and one salomon-sized cigar each of the Connecticut and Sepertina (barber-pole) lines.

I'll likely bring the robustos down to my #2 B&M, who likes smaller, Indie cigar makers, and smokes them with the owner, and see if we can't get these in stores somewhere.

Cheers, Roger, you DA MAN!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Embargo Watch, 2/23/09

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released a draft report Monday saying it is time to reconsider longtime U.S. economic sanctions on Cuba. "The unilateral embargo on Cuba has failed to achieve its stated purpose," Sen. Richard Lugar writes in a letter. "After 47 years ... the unilateral embargo on Cuba has failed to achieve its stated purpose of 'bringing democracy to the Cuban people,' " Lugar, R-Indiana, wrote in a letter that accompanied the report.

"The current U.S. policy has many passionate defenders, and their criticism of the Castro regime is justified. Nevertheless, we must recognize the ineffectiveness of our current policy and deal with the Cuban regime in a way that enhances U.S. interests."

Sounds like either Dick Lugar is tired of paying exorbitant prices for his Montecristo no. 2 shipments, or he's hankering for a box of Ramon Allones Specially Selected and doesn't want to get busted.

I do have to agree, though, that the embargo hasn't done much to change the Communist regime there. But neither has caving in, like we've done with China. What to do?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Small Town Score!

So, I'm in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, and Google says that the place to go to get cigars is a place called 'Cigarette Chain'. So I cruise on up to the unassuming looking building, plastered with beer and cigarette posters. Okay, one isn't expecting much at this point.

Ahh, but the cabinets that make up the checkout counter are filled with familiar friends: Macanudo, Partagas, Montecristo, and a whopping pile of Cusano smokes, including the Habano LXI robustos, of which I scooped up the remainder of a box. I may go back for a half-box of Montecristo Club Cabinet no. 20s that he's got 2 more boxes of. And the best part: Great prices on the singles, even cheaper than my usual stops in Lincoln.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Savinelli Rico y Raro (RyR)

What does two and a half ligero leaves amount to? Really. Savinelli's web page, describing the Ecuadorian Habano-wrapped, Nicaraguan cigar declares two and a half ligero leaves in the Rico y Raro. After lighting the RyR, the answer is immediate.


For the first inch, The RyR is a spicy, peppery treat with loads of leather. After the first inch, the spice subsides a bit to let leather and cedar dominate. Minor nut flavors try to elbow in, but never strongly. The last inch features some pops of spice as you take it into the nub.

The draw on the 5.5" x 54 double robusto was perfect, but the burn wandered a bit. I needed to torch the wrapper a couple times in the hour it took to smoke it.

An inch from the nub, you start feeling the nicotine stalking. Two and a half leaves of ligero, you say? Oh yeah. Two and a half leaves of ligero, and all the nicotine to prove it. I had a huge stromboli before smoking to prepare for a possibly heavy smoke. Good thing too, as I was feeling woozy for a good half hour after nubbing the Rico y Raro, and lightheaded still an hour after finishing the cigar. At times I thought I'd see that stromboli again.

Dang. so that should tell you just what Savinelli's got packed in the Rico y Raro. Two and a half leaves of ligero. And all the flavor to prove it. Despite the great flavor, I'd only recommend this cigar to nicotine hardheads.

Four stars and an air-sick bag.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Savinelli Nicaraguan Reserve

This is a cigar I got from the Nebraska Cigar Festival, and after a month of humi time, it was time to put it to the test. Savinelli's a big name in pipes, but let's see how this cigar stacks up.

a description, copped from Famous:
Handmade in Esteli, Nicaragua, their core consists of a blend of premium Nicaraguan longfiller and binder tobaccos, box-pressed in a specially cross-bred Habano 2000 and Criollo wrapper.

This is an attractive cigar: Colorado wrapper with fine veins, and a dignified, but not overly ornate, label. I'm smoking the robusto, and it starts off phenomenal. Earth, coffee, and a black pepper/spice component. This is a textbook Nicaraguan blend, and it's great. I know that Savinelli collaborated with Oliva on a different line of smokes, but this smoke is reminiscent of the Oliva Serie O, and in all the right ways.

The draw is perfect. Absolutely perfect.

Midway in, the spices are still simmering on the palate, and an earthy nut flavor joins the mellowing coffee. Dang. I wish I'd scored a few more of these.

The burn's been a little sloppy, requiring a little touch-up. I grabbed this guy right from the humi, so maybe a little drybox time would help straighten the burn. Still, the flavor is well worth the bother. Also A little tar has bubbled its way to the cap, but a quick shave with the cutter takes care of that problem.

Going into the home stretch, and nice leather flavor emerges, and the spice is still lingering on the back of my palate. Black pepper comes and goes in the forefront and the leather hangs in there. Did I already say that I wish I'd scored a few more?

As I gaze at the tarry nub of this cigar, I feel satisfied, and yet a little sad that it's over.