Friday, February 26, 2010

Camacho Diploma Maduro

Camacho Diploma Maduro- The Diploma is one of Camacho's top premium cigars and has received good press from the smoking community. Cigar Insider rated the Diploma a '93', and some believe this is Camacho's answer to competitors like the VSG and Opus. I'm interested to see how much competition the Diploma presents.
The Diploma debuted as a stick comprised completely of Corojo; filler to wrap. This particular review is on the Diploma featuring a Maduro wrapper.
All the tobacco used in the Diploma is grown in Honduras' Jamastan Valley; an area known for its rich and potent crops. With all the hype, I'm excited to smoke the Diploma.

Prelight- I've seen a lot of these smoked in the shops I frequent, and it seems like a popular go-to for full-flavored smokers. I don't know why I've waited so long to smoke one(it may have something to do with the $10 price tag and only one shop I go to carries Camacho).
Anyways...the cigar has the shade of roasted coffee beans and the wrapper is rustic and veiny. There is almost no oil on this toothy maduro. Overall, the cigar has a good look to it. The band and foot band are gold foiled and have a nice look.
The weird thing about the cigar is that it is soft and spongy all over. I shuffled through the box and found this to be the case with every stick. It feels fresh, and I usually like a firm-spongy feeling on a cigar; but this is a little too soft.
The prelight draw is very loose. There is pretty much no resistance whatsoever. I taste fresh tobacco and a little spice.

Sparking it- The cigar lights up with ease and that loose draw produces tons of smoke. The amount of smoke isn't an issue, but I have to relax my draw to keep the cigar from burning hot or uneven. The body is full and surprisingly smooth. I taste chocolate and leather - it seems like this cigar may have some complexity to it. So far, the burn seems to be favoring one side. I have to touch up the cigar a few minutes after lighting.
The ash is loose and it seems to crumble off when not obsessively maintained. Kind of annoying when you're just trying to relax.

Smoking it- The best thing I can say about this cigar is that the flavoring is pretty complex. I'm not in love with the flavors, but they evolve throughout the smoke. The cigar turns bitter and I taste a little ammonia around the halfway point. I can taste coffee throughout the smoke; black licorice makes some cameo appearances in there too.
Unfortunately, the cigar's construction leads to a couple of issues. The burn is erratic and uneven; I had to touch up the smoke at least 6 or 7 times. The loose draw resulted in a hot burn - which could have caused the bitter ammonia taste I found in there.
I do not care for this cigar at all. At $10 a cigar, I'm not giving this one a second chance. I've read that the issues I ran into are common experiences for some folks.
In my opinion, Camacho needs to go back to the drawig board if they want to compete with the traditional powerhouses and new successful brands out there.

Overall- C

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tatuaje - Havana VI (Red Label)

Tatuaje Havana VI- If you smoke cigars and haven't heard of Tatuaje, you might be living under a rock. Owned by Pete Johnson, the Tatuaje line is taking the cigar world by storm. With limited and exclusive releases, these Pepin-blended sticks are getting rave reviews and raising eyebrows.
The Havana VI is Tatuaje's medium flavored blend and seems to be the easiest to get your hands on. By easiest, I mean the least difficult. I visited almost every notable cigar shop in Maryland and didn't find a Brown Label until I stumbled upon one in Washington D.C.
While visiting friends in Arizona, I found the Havana VI (red label). This cigar is a Nicaraguan puro and is manufactured in Pepin's Esteli factory. I enjoyed the Brown Label -- and I've heard a lot of good things about the brand. I can't wait to try this cigar.

Prelight- The Havana VI is a good-looking cigar with quality construction. The Corojo 99 wrapper has a milk chocolate shade with almost no visible veins. The stick has a little that oil shines nicely on this smooth wrapper.
The prelight draw tastes of cocoa and has a desirable amount of resistance. Time to smoke.

Sparking it- The first few puffs tastes of cocoa with some sweet spice. The burn is even and produces a tight white ash. The flavor is medium, leaning towards full. The body is also medium and the cigar produces an abundant amount of smoke. This Tatuaje burns cool with little resting smoke; I really like where things are going.

Smoking it- The flavors of this cigar are great. It isn't amazingly complex, but at $6-$7 a stick, there is a lot of value in this smoke. I've got the Hermosos size (5.6" with a 46 ring gauge) and the cigar takes a little under an hour to burn. The early cocoa flavor lingers throughout the smoke, but I taste a little cinnamon and mild pepper as the cigar reaches the halfway point.
I smoked this cigar to the point I would've needed a roach clip to continue. It was really tasty, all the while never turning bitter or hot. I tasted a little leather and caramel towards the end.
The Havana VI is one of my new favorite cigars. It is mild enough to be smoked any time of the day, but strong enough to satisfy a full-smoker's palette. I enjoyed every aspect of the smoke and can't find a bad thing to say. From the perfect burn to the creamy smoke, this Tatuaje is a great cigar.

Overall- A


I went on a recent trip to Arizona to visit friends. Leaving the winter chill of Baltimore behind, I enjoyed a couple of cigars on a scenic balcony overlooking Scottsdale and Camelback Mountain. I love Arizona.

I'll be posting some reviews from my time there soon.

601 Green Label

601 Green Label - Yet another cigar blended by Don Pepin Garcia, the Green Label is said to be the fullest flavor of the 601 brand. This 601 is manufactured in Esteli, Nicaragua; and is made completely with Nicaraguan tobacco. The cigar's most interesting feature is the Habano Oscuro wrapper that adorns it.
601's Blue Label found a place on Cigar Aficianado's top 25 list for 2009. I think the Blue Label is a decent smoke,--but I don't smoke them often. I'm interested to see how the Green Label compares to the Blue.

Prelight- The cigar looks great. The oscuro wrapper is one of the darkest wrappers I've ever seen and is covered with oils. There are some small to medium veins, but the juicy wrapper has a smooth look to it. I received three in a Pepin sampler pack and they've been resting in the humi for a couple of weeks. The cigar has a fresh and spongy feel to it.
The prelight draw is peppery on the tongue and has an empty feel to it.

Sparking it- The draw is clear and provides an abundant amount of smoke; almost no resistance. As I take the first few drags I'm a little disappointed. The cigar tastes flat and there is no body on my palette. I can taste pepper, but the smoke feels empty on my tongue (kind of like a diet soda). I find myself staring at the cigar; a little confused about the flavor. I mean, there is "flavor", it just feels weird in my mouth and I can't figure out what it tastes like. It tastes like green vegetables and charcoal.

Smoking it- I'm just past the halfway point of this cigar and am unsure about it. I can't decide what it tastes like, and am pretty sure the smoke feels flat(for lack of a better term). On a positive note....this cigar has burnt like a champ. Tight white ash, smooth even burn; beautiful. The construction and burn on this cigar are great.
I'm beginning to consider dropping this 601 in the ash tray, when it happened...... I tasted something! It is about time! Shortly after the halfway point, charcoal begins to evolve into rich chocolate with heavy spice. There are also hints of wood and licorice. If the entire cigar had tasted like this it would have been a damn good stick.
I received three of these sticks in a Pepin sampler pack and I have to say that I'm not a fan. I put a lot of faith in my local Cigar Shop Owner and he carries everythign else in the 601 series, except for the Green Label. Now I know why. If it wasn't for the stellar burn and construction I would have rated this cigar a lot lower. The last third of the smoke was delicious, but the first two thirds left me wanting more.

Overall- C

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Joya De Nicaragua Press Release: Cabinetta Serie

Esteli, Nicaragua – Joya de Nicaragua, S.A. (JdN), the makers of the respected JOYA DE NICARAGUA® brand of premium handmade cigars, announced today that they will continue to slowly expand their release of their Cabinetta Serie® line to select retailers. Well known for their powerhouse Antaño® line, the Cabinetta Serie is an
unexpected departure from their classic full-bodied style of blends. This new blend is a marriage of a creamy, milder filler recipe of tobaccos complemented by the spicy taste sensation of its unique double-wrapped, Habano-Seed leaf head.

It was due to this dramatic difference from any other Joya de Nicaragua cigar that it was initially decided to release the product on a store-by-store basis. “We believe it is important to not only explain this cigar and its blend to each retailer, but to share this smoke directly with cigar consumers. It is an exceptional smoke, but the customer who is expecting Antaño may not be satisfied, while connoisseurs who might not typically select a Joya de Nicaragua given their notoriety for strength may avoid even trying it out. This would be a terrible shame as it is an exceptional cigar of mild-medium body,” explains Michael Cellucci, Vice President of Drew Estate. Drew Estate is the exclusive importer and distributor of the Joya de Nicaragua brand in the United States. He adds, “We believe educating everyone about this cigar is critical, so we decided to not adopt the typical, nation-wide release approach with this product. Although launched during the late spring of 2009, we did not display it at the IPCPR, nor have we offered it for general sale. To date, it is only available at seventy-five Class A tobacconists, but almost all are experiencing brisk sales of this new cigar. We believe this type of release is in everyone’s best interest and we intend to continue the practice of slowly expanding its availability during 2010.”

At first glance, you will notice the Cabinetta Serie features two wrappers, a top-grade Equadorian Shade which covers its entire length with the head then finished in a second cover leaf of rich, Nicaraguan Criollo. Aptly named by the factory as “Dos Capas”, this technique allows the smoke itself to be creamy and smooth, yet provide a spicy flavor for the consumer without making the smoke itself to strong. “Unlike the common, double-wrapped ‘barber pole’ cigars, which is primarily for appearance sake, this Dos Capas-style actually offers the cigar smoker a different and unique flavor and aroma,” states Dr. Alejandro Martinez Cuenca, JdN’s owner and master blender.

The Cabinetta Serie is cello-sleeved and is available in 24-ct, sliding lid boxes in four sizes:
Frontmark Size MSRP
Cabinetta Serie No. 2 Belicoso 6 x 54 $6.55 p/cigar
Cabinetta Serie No. 4 Robusto 5 x 52 $5.55 p/cigar
Cabinetta Serie No. 7 Toro 6 x 50 $6.05 p/cigar
Cabinetta Serie No. 11 Corona Gorda 5 x 46 $5.05 p/cigar

Dr. Alejandro Martinez Cuenca continues, “We at Joya de Nicaragua have always been known for creating full flavored, full bodied cigars in our Antaño line. I found that there was a demand for a cigar that the consumer could smoke at any time of day. Because of that, we’ve created the Cabinetta Serie; this cigar was exactly what
we were looking for, something that’s not too strong, but still has that distinct Nicaraguan flavor profile. This cigar is almost always my first of every day. As for Drew Estate’s decision to continue introducing it slowly into the marketplace, I am confident that it is the right decision for this particularly unique cigar and will afford it the opportunity to be sampled and enjoyed by all.”

Friday, February 12, 2010

Liga Privada- No. 9

Liga Privada No. 9- Drew Estate is known for flavored cigars and a plethora of different brands; with many falling in the "flavored" or "mild" category. But the Liga Privada, which translates to "private blend", is a completely different story. The band reads "Hecho exclusivamente para el Jefe", which means, "Made exclusively for the King". It is said that Drew Estates' President, Steve Saka, wanted to create a cigar that he would love and want to smoke.
Liga Privada spared no expense with this creation, trying as many as 50 different blends and varieties before settling on, what else, blend No. 9. The cigar is wrapped with dark-brown Connecticut Broadleaf while the filler is blended from seven types of Honduran, Dominican and Nicaraguan tobacco. The final part, which really drew me to the cigar, is the Brazilian Mata Fina binder. Grown by J. Fuego, especially for this stick.
This cigar retails between $10 and $13, depending on size.

Prelight- I've smoked this stick before and was impressed with the larger size. This time I reach for the Robusto to see if the smaller size compresses the flavors. This may be one of the best-looking cigars out there. This stick is straight up beautiful, almost sexy.
The band has a classic-minimalist look with a white background and Liga Privada in handwritten font. The "made for the king" lettering is slightly grey and placed in the background. The wrapper is dark and gorgeous; no flaws whatsoever and amazing construction overall. The cigar has a toothy appearance and presents some nice oils. I reluctantly clip the cap, hands steady as if I'm handling a work of art.
The prelight draw tastes of coffee and dark chocolate.

Sparking it- With a torch to the foot we're in business. The No. 9 takes no time in showing you what its all about. Dark cocoa and delicious coffee flavors pour out in an abundant puff of smoke. The burn begins even, producing a solid and white ash. After a few puffs I taste a bit of roasted nuts and caramel, but the cocoa flavor reigns as king over the flavor so far.
The cigar feels amazingly strong and sexy in the hand. The draw is effortless and fruitful.

Smoking it- I love this cigar! It is so damn good. Definitely fit for a king. While full-flavored, the cigar is never over-powering and has a nice medium body to it. This is a complex smoke, I find myself trying to pin point flavors, but they change every inch or so with sweetness prevailing as a main characteristic.
This cigar burns as good as any great cigar I've ever smoked. The ash holds on as if it were mixed with mortar and the burn stays event. The resting smoke is amazingly sweet and I find myself sniffing the end from time to time. This is an attractive cigar that stimulates all the senses. (except for hearing, haha)
As thecigar burns past the halfway point, a little bit of pepper presents itself, but never plays a major role. I taste roasted almonds and toffee as the cocoa flavor dwindles into the background.
I can't even begin to touch on the complexity of this smoke. If you don't care for peppery smokes, but want lots of flavor, you have got to smoke a No.9. This is one of those sticks that if smoked occasionally, will be enjoyable and delicious. If smoked a lot, you will find yourself disappointed when reaching for a more economical stick.
I recommend this to every cigar smoker out there. While packed with flavor, it is extremely smooth and delicate. If it were a woman, it would be the quietly sexy woman, who acts with class and taste, but is a freak in the sheets.
Hands down, amazing cigar. I will smoking these from time to time when I feel I deserve a special treat. Just make sure you have a nice meal and time to spare before smoking the No. 9. It is a slow burner with lots of subtle flavors. It deserves your time and attention.

Overall- A

Coming Soon - The Liga Privada T-52 -
I cannot wait. The T-52 is supposed to be a great smoke. The cigar is made with "Stalk-Cut" tobacco, which means they cure the entire tobacco plant, stalk and all. This is a seldom-used process as only the bottom leaves are of maturity at the time of the harvest, so many leaves go to waste. But those used are supposed to be a luxury to smoke.

Liga Privada is supposed to have a stick called the Dirty Rat coming out soon. Can't wait to smoke one.

Padilla Habano

Padilla Habano- The Padilla Habano is a Nicaraguan Puro, blended with cuban-seed tobacco and wrapped in a beautiful Nicaraguan Habano wrapper. Padilla doesn't offer as many lines as companies like Rocky Patel and CAO, but they have had some success over the years. Ernesto Padilla (owner and company's namesake), is known for his blending abilities and many of the cigars put out by Padilla seem to offer a nice balance of smoothness and flavor.

Prelight- This cigar is absolutely beautiful. The Habano wrapper is flawless; nice oils, no veins and an attractive-bumpy appearance. I picked up the Robusto and am impressed with look of this stick. I've never smoked a Padilla; not because I've chose not to, I've just never come across a single stick at the shops I go to.
I live in Maryland and have been snowed in the past few days. I got lucky when I came across this Padilla on a beer run. I was jonesin' for a cigar and it just so happened this liquor store had a nice tower humidor with a decent selection. Most of their cigars were of mild flavor, so I ventured to grab the Padilla in hopes of some flavor and a new smoking experience.
The cigar is spongy and consistent in feel. The foot smells of cinammon and earth, while the prelight draw has a sweet spice taste. I'm interested and ready to smoke.

Sparking it- The cigar lights with ease and the initial drags are bland and have no defining taste. The draw is a little tighter than I like, so I clip a bit more from the cap end and gently roll it with my fingers. The draw loosens a bit and provides a little more smoke, but still the flavoring is kind of bland. I taste some spice, but I'm reaching on that. I hope this smoke has more to offer than this.

Smoking it- After about an inch and a half the flavor picks up and does a complete turn around. The absence of flavor is gradually filled by a bouquet of sweet spice. The draw is still a little tight, but the cigar is burning slow and cool while providing an adequate amount of smoke, so I let it be.
The cigar's construction is awesome. The burn is even and consistent, and I put a mean bite on the stick while driving without compromising the end. I really enjoy the flavors after the first bit and am happy with the complexity. Some hints of fruit, almost like an apple-cinammon taste. A little bit of leather and pepper towards the end.
This stick starts as a mild-medium, but slowly builds to a medium-full. Really an interesting smoke for anyone that enjoys flavor change and complexity. I really can't pick a defining flavor, but there is a nice mix of sweetness throughout the smoke. I'll be reaching for another when I'm in the mood for a medium smoke

Overall- B+

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Joya De Nicaragua - Antano 1970

Antano 1970 (Robusto Grande)- You can check out the Gran Perfecto review out if you'd like. I have to say, this is one of my favorite lines out there. I smoke a lot of them and while I prefer the Gran Perfecto there are some interesting differences in the other sizes. Today I will write a short review on the Robusto Grande, comparing it to the Gran Perfecto.

Gran Perfecto Stats- 6 1/8" 50-58 ring
Robusto Grande Stats- 5 1/2" 52 ring

Prelight- The cigar has a nice look, but it has nothing on the Gran Perfecto. The wrapper looks rough and dry with some oils shining off it. The draw is a little more resistant than the GP but it is smooth and steady. The prelight tastes of mild leather and a hint of spice. The cigar has a sweet aroma to it; very similar to the GP. Overall, the stick is not as spongy as the GP, but still feels and looks like a great stick.

Sparking it - The cigar lights easily and the first few puffs have a sweet spice taste. The draw is perfect and delivers loads of smoke. At this point in the cigar, the draw and early burn is a little nicer than the GP. Shortly into the burn, leather mixes in and the spice mellows out.

Smoking it- The Robusto burns like a champ through and through. Overall is has a better burn than the Gran Perfecto. This stick tastes a lot like the GP but the subtle differences in flavor make for an interesting smoke. I tasted some cinnamon, and more spice and leather than the GP. The ash held tight and long. This cigar gets an 'A' for construction. While not as pretty as the GP, it sure is a hell of a stick in its own right.

Overall Comparison- The Gran Perfecto is my personal favorite in the Antano series, while the Robusto falls next in line. The flavors aren't drastically different, but I find the Gran Perfecto to have a creamier, sweeter smoke. Both are packed with flavor and well built, but the Robusto burns a little smoother and tighter. I highly suggest giving this cigar a try. Every smoker out there - run and get one. A lot is said about this being a monster full-flavor, but it isn't overpowering in any sense. Pick up the Antano 1970, you will not be disappointed.

Overall- A-

Friday, February 5, 2010

CAO Criollo

CAO Criollo- The CAO Criollo is CAO's attempt to make an entirely criollo tobacco cigar. Many consider this almost impossible as it difficult to get quality wrapper from criollo, but CAO did it. This is a Nicaraguan puro: binder, filler, wrapper. I haven't heard much about this cigar. In fact, I've never even heard of it.
I picked up this cigar at a random Cigarette Outlet nestled in the shadow of a Giant supermarket in a suburb outside of Baltimore. Many time these stores offer little to no selection in the way of cigars; and what they have is often stale and poorly stored. But sometimes - you can find aged gems. Also, you can get a bargain.
I'm a sucker for a Nicaraguan and I'm intrigued with this mystery find, so I've gotta give it a try.

Prelight- The Criollo wrapper is a bit veiny and dry in appearance, but the seems fresh, albeit a little dry throughout. The band is basic and matches the shade of wrapper, giving it a classy look. I trim the cap and find a perfect draw at the capped end. The cap sports a pigtail, which always adds something to a cigar's personality. The prelight taste is almost undetectable, but I guess I can taste fresh tobacco and earth.

Sparking it- The Criollo lights with ease and my palette is tingled with medium spice. The spice soon subsides and gives way to a very basic earthy taste. The cigar is burning nicely, but the flavor is lame.
Granted this seems to be a mild smoke, but the smoke is just plain dry and unfulfilling. I hope it picks up as the burn progresses.

Smoking it- The best thing I can say about this cigar is that it burns well. It started a tad uneven, but corrected itself and toasted away without a hitch. A loose seam on the wrapper worried me that I might have bits of half burnt Criollo falling on me, but my concerns never come to fruition.
The flavor does not satisfy or suit my palette in any way. Given the smoke is mild, I'm not looking for something that isn't there, but the flavor is non-descript and bland. Halfway through the smoke I taste the body of the cigar pack a bit of a punch to my palette. But the blow is empty; I taste earth with a little leather. Nothing more than that.
I wouldn't recommend this cigar to even a mild smoker. At $7 a stick, the Alec Bradley Family Blend is 10 times better than this cigar. I wouldn't say that it tastes bad, but it tastes like nothing. It leaves my palette feeling empty, dry and bitter.

Overall- E


Onyx Reserve- The Onyx is made in the Dominican Republic and distributed by Altadis US. The cigar is a bargain price at about $4-$5 and has gotten a lot of rave reviews. Cigar Insider rated this stick an impressive 94. The Onyx, like its namesake, is almost black. One of the darkest wrappers on the market. The stick has a unique blend of Dominican, Nicaraguan and Peruvian tobacco. There is some ligero in the fill as well which should pack some punch. The binder is Nicaraguan and the wrapper a blackened Connecticut broadleaf maduro.

Prelight- I've gotta say, this cigar is attractive. The wrapper is dark and oily with some veins. The band is white and black with gold lettering, making it really pop when set against the almost black wrapper. The cigar smells of sweet maduro and cocoa. I usually like sweet maduros, so this should be a good smoke.
The Robusto size is a square-shaped box-press and has solid construction. Really a good looking body shape. I take my cutter to the cap and start to test the draw. Unfortunately, the draw is as tight as can be. I cut a little extra to help open up the pull, but that does nothing. I'll definitely be poking at this cigar to loosen it up. It seems like the problems are coming from the capped end, as the rest of the cigar has a nice spongy feel.
Even though the draw is tight, it is easy to taste dark chocolate and maduro.

Sparking it- The draw makes it a little challenging to light the cigar, but nothing out of control. The first few puffs taste of chocolate, but it doesn't fulfill the palette. It almost feels like I'm eating sugar-free chocolate; the front of my tongue tasted the chocolate, but the back has no sensation to back it up. The ash holds as tight as any cigar I've seen and crumbles off nicely with a roll against the ash tray. The ash itself burns to a peppery white and dark gray. I poke the end to help loosen up the draw. It helps: a little.

Smoking it- This is not a complex cigar. It is tasty though. As the cigar burns, the chocolate flavor becomes more fulfilling and coats the palette. After the first half, I taste some cappucinno work its way into the mix. Great flavor, medium body and strength. It bothers me that the draw is ruining the smoke experience. I think there is a lot of value in this line. I can see myself grabbing this stick when I don't want to shell out much money and know I want a smooth, sweet smoke. I hope that future smokes, don't have such a crappy draw.
The cigar holds up nicely and burns even. Only with about 2" left do I have a little bit of the wrapper pull back and split near the cherry.
I would say that this cigar has points of full flavor, but it so smooth and basic that it would be a great cigar for mild smokers to give a try. There is almost no spice, which surprises me because there is said to be ligero in the blend. If it weren't for the draw, this would be an amazing cigar for the price. I recommend picking one up with hopes of having a better draw than I did. But I've heard that this is a common complaint with the Onyx.

Overall- B-

Thursday, February 4, 2010

La Aroma De Cuba

La Aroma De Cuba- Ashton introduced the La Aroma De Cuba line back in 2002. This series pays homage to the original favorites smoked by Winston Churchill. It is said that Churchill smoked up to ten of these cubans a day. I guess WWII caused him quite a bit a stress.
The cigar is almost a Honduran Puro, but there is some Nicaraguan tobacco blended in the filler. These cigars are priced in the $6-$8 range and have received some nice reviews. Cigar Aficianado have rated these bad boys as high as 93.

Prelight- The wrapper is dark and attractive. Like most cigars produced by Ashton, the construction seems top-notch. The band is very traditional and has a nice look to it. The cigar has some nice aroma to it. Very rich and fresh. The prelight draw tastes of leather and fresh tobacco. The cigar pulls with ease, just the right amount of resistance. Lets see how this thing smokes.

Sparking it- The cigar starts off with a bouquet of spice and some leather flavoring. These flavors are constant through out the beginning of the cigar. The cigar has a nice draw with bounties of smoke. The cigar has solid construction and the Robusto size (which I'm smoking) feels strong in the hand. So far, this is a good smoke. Even though I'm just starting, there are some subtle complexities to the flavor. I like where this is going.

Smoking it- The stick burns like a champ; even, smoky and tasty. It has a medium to full flavor and the body slides down to medium at times. I'm not a fan of spicy cigars, but the spice in this cigar stay at a desirable and varied level, which makes it kind of interesting as you bounce between mocha and leather.
I'm not going to run out and buy a box, but this is a good cigar. The ash holds tight and the resting smoke has a nice smell to it. The cigar has some nice flavor transition, but it isn't as complex as other cigars a tad more expensive.
I recommend this cigar to all medium to full smokers who don't care for spice but are looking to entertain their palette. I'll be smoking this cigar again.

Overall- B

Nica Libre

Nica Libre- Calling all Padron lovers! The Nica Libre seems to be a decent attempt at riding the coat-tails of the Padron 1964 series without the price. This cigar resembles the Padron 1964 from wrapper to band(label). If you're eye-sight is a little off, it wouldn't be hard to mistake the Nica Libre from a short distance. The cigar is wrapped with a San Andes Maduro, filled with long-leaf Nicaraguan tobacco and binded with Habano leaf. I've read rumors that the Nica Libre is manufactured near Padron headquarters and is made up of disgruntled ex-employees. Whatever the connection may be, at $6 a cigar, this could be a cigar with immense value.

Prelight- I have never heard of this cigar. The owner of a nice cigar shop in Bel Air, MD (Main-Street Cigar) recommended this cigar as we chatted in the humidor. It was my first time in the shop, so I had to grab it.
This cigar looks a lot like the Padron 1964. I've grabbed the Diplomatico size (7" with a 50 ring gauge) and it is a beauty of a box-press. The wrapper has some attractive veins and glistens with chocolately oils. The prelight draw has a little too much resistance. I trim the cigar back a bit more to see if that helps the draw ease up, but it does not. The flavor on the prelight is peppery with a hint of cherry. Time to smoke.

Sparking it- The cigar lights with ease, but the tough draw is bothering me before I begin. This is a long ass cigar, so I'm expecting it to loosen up as the stick disappears. The prelight flavors remain during the first part of the smoke. Smooth and peppery with hints of fruit. So far so $6 a stick (single cigar in a shop - cheaper by the box), you can't beat the flavor. It is a little too early to draw comparisons to the Padron.

Smoking it- As the cigar burns I have some burn issues. The draw is a pain in the ass and the cigar almost burns out on occasion. I have to reach for the lighter often. In contrast to the poor burn, the flavors and complexity of the cigar are great. The spice and cherry remain throughout, but the cigar starts to taste like oak through the middle and very spicy in the last third. When I pick a cigar, I'm always looking for complex, full flavors. This cigar has it.
Unfortunately, the stick burns like shit. I'm definitely going to pick some more of these up to see if I had gotten a bad stick because the flavor is so good. I wouldn't go as far to say that the Nica Libre is like a Padron 64, but it has some similar flavors. The construction on the cigar seems solid. The burn was pretty even overall, but I had issues with the cigar burning to a cone or noticing cold spots on the lit end of the stick.
I recommend this cigar to anyone that smokes the 64's and can't afford them, and to those who want to and can't afford them. I'm hoping my cigar was a shitty one and the rest of them burn like champs. The bouquet of flavors are enough to bring me back for more. Before you light up a Nica Libre, make sure you have some food in your stomach and at least an hour and half to kill. At 7", this isn't a short smoke.

Overall- B-

Monday, February 1, 2010

Carlos Torano- 1959 Exodus VS. 1959 Exodus 50 Years

In this write up I will compare the 1959 Exodus in a box-press size to the newer 50 Years edition that was released in 2009. The cigars are of a different blend, binder and wrapper. The original "Gold-Label" Exodus came out in 2001. The newer "Copper-Label" 50 Years Edition came out last year. Although they are linked by name, these are two completely different cigars. Lets see how different.

Carlos Torano 1959 Exodus- The manufacturer's website states..."The Exodus 1959 commemorates the Exodus of expert Cuban cigar families and their impact on the cigar industry after the nationalization of all tobacco farms and cigar factories by the Cuban government in 1959. The Toraños were one of those families. This cigar has rich and bold flavors with a dynamic blend of tobaccos from five different countries."-- I couldn't have put it any better than that without plagiarizing, so there you have it.
This stick is packed full of tobacco from Mexico, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua. The binder is Honduran and the wrapper Nicaraguan.

Prelight- This cigar has an interesting look. Its a box-press, 6" in length, with a nippled foot. I've never seen another cigar with this shape. I like a good box-press, so this should be interesting. The construction feels nice, and the stick is spongy and firm to the touch.
The prelight draw has a weird taste. It tastes of chemicals a little bit. Ewwww, I hope the smoke tastes better than this. The draw itself is a little tight, but that is probably from the nippled foot.

Sparking it- The cigar lights with ease and the nippled end simmers to a nice even burn. The ash is a light grey and solid. This cigar is nicely made. The only problem...I'm not sure if I like the taste. It tastes a little bit like coffee and wood, but that chemical taste from the prelight is lingering in the smoke. Even the resting smoke has a chemical-like aroma to it. I'm not far in to the burn, so we'll see what the rest of the cigar has to offer.

Smoking it- This stick would be great, if it had a completely different blend of filler in it. The cigar burns great, other than a piece of the wrapper lifted up about a 1/3 way through the smoke. Unfortunately, the burn is negated by the fact that it tastes bad. It isn't horrible, but it is bland and tastes like smoke off a campfire. I'm almost certain I got a good cigar...its fresh and from a shop that only carries quality. - I have never read a review on this cigar or spoke to anyone about it, so I'm not sure if this is a popular smoke. But I don't like it.

Overall- C-


CUBAN - Partagas Series P - No. 2

Partagas Series P - No. 2- This cigar is one of most coveted Cubans out there. It took the #10 spot on Cigar Aficianado's Top 25 for 2009, the 2nd Cuban after the Cohiba Siglo IV Tubo. Hand-made in Cuba, Partagas claims these cigars are made with the finest tobacco from the best plantations in the Vuelta Abajo region. One argument against Cubans is inconsistency in quality. I doubt that is a problem with one of Partagas' flagship lines. The Piramade size (basically a flared torpedo), is legendary to the Partagas brand. They stopped making the size in the 60's and didn't re-introduce it until 2000, when Partagas unveiled this line.
I'd like to thank a very close friend to me for supplying me with a few of these cigars from Europe. I've been waiting to smoke a Cuban for sometime now. Here is my chance!

Prelight-I'm very excited to smoke this cigar. My first Cuban! I'm hoping my excitement doesn't skew the results of my taste test. The cigar has an amazing feel to it. Spongy and firm; consistent throughout. It smells and feels very fresh. The wrapper is a lighter brown and has some medium sized veins on it. The Piramade size is beautiful. Looks like a Torpedo, but flares outward toward the foot. The band is classic and minimalist. Pumped up for the smoke, but sad to ruin this piece of work I cut the pointed cap. The prelight draw is fresh and almost has a minty wood taste. My mouth feels a little chalky as I pull the draw, but not in an unpleasant way. There is a very unique flavor on the prelight and I can't quite put my finger on it. Oh well, I'm not dwelling on it. Lets smoke this thing.

Sparking it- With a torch to the foot, we're in business. The flavor on the first few puffs is incredibly smooth and has mild to medium body on it. Not as strong as I expected, but smooth as can be. I blow out full clouds of creamy, light brown smoke. The draw is smooth and has a perfect amount of resistance to it. The burn is even and the ash holds well. The end of the cigar has a great feel when you bite down on it. I'm really enjoying this cigar. Just the smoothness I was looking for.

Smoking it- The burn stays even and cool. Not much resting smoke on this cigar(a thing I like). This stick tastes heavily of cocoa and has a sweet scent to it. There aren't as many flavors as I thought there might be, but the ones that are there taste great. The ash is a little flaky and has a peppery, dark grey color to it. This cigar did not meet my expectations, but I am not disappointed. If thought of as just another cigar; its great.
I've only been smoking cigars for a year or so and have always wanted to smoke a Cuban. I've heard everything from "You'll never want a non-cuban again," to "They are inconsistent in quality and there is nothing special." For me; the cigar is good - not amazing, but there is something special about a Cuban.
Every smoker that hasn't gotten their hands on a Cuban, should do their research, ask some friends and order a 5-pack of the stick that suits their taste. Overall, the cigar has a smooth creamy feel and tastes of cocoa. A good cigar all around.

Overall- A