The Bi-annual Must have
Fuente - Anejo #50
Fuente release the Anejos twice a year and I've put off smoking them because I've found most Fuente cigars are extremely well-made but lack anything unique in the flavor department. Frankly, a lot of their cigars taste simiar to the point I couldn't tell you the difference between the Gran Reserva Rosado and the Queen Bee.
However this Spring, my favorite shop owner pulled out some Anejos he had on hold from the Christmas season. I tried a couple of them, none of them blowing me away.......Then I smoked the #50 (Robusto). My perception on Fuente changed within five minutes of lighting my first #50.
The nearly-black brown hued Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper is aged at least 5 years and cured in whiskey barrells. The blend is hand-picked from the finest leaves Fuente has to offer. I've gotta say this is arguably one of the most complex cigars I've ever smoked. From sharp spice to sugary sweetness, the flavor profile on the #50 is unbelieveable. The #50 is worth every penny of its $12 price tag. The scary thing is I've heard the #55 aka The Shark (a slightly quad-pressed torpedo) is even better. Guess we'll see what happens come Christmas time.
The Short on Time and Short on Cash Smoke:
Tatuaje - 4" x 40 Ring Reserva
Released in the Fall of 2010, this little cigar has as much character as it does amazing flavor. A rugged Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper is left unfinished with a shag-foot, giving a small stogie a tough-look. I read (so my source could've been bullshit) that Pepin (cigar master and manufacturer of Tatuaje) approached Pete Johnson (owner of Tatuaje brand) and said, 'Hey Pete, I'm rolling a cigar that leaves a lot of wasted Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. Not enough to make a decent-sized cigar, but enough to make a little something.....' Pete responded 'Hell yeah, I wanna put my Brown-label blend in a 4" x 40 ring package'
All of that is paraphrased and pure speculation.
Whatever the story may be, these little cigars are friggin' awesome. Priced around $4, I could smoke these things all day long. Complex, flavorful and rich. This cigar achieves in 4" what most cigars wish they could even come close to in a traditional size. Kudos to Pete and Pepin for making something so amazing out of the scraps they have laying around.
So if you've only got 30-45 min to spare and a few bucks in your pocket, this cigar will have you satisfied and wishing there were a few more inches and another hour to burn.
The New Go-to Smoke
Room 101 - LTD Conjura
I'm a fan of new cigars. I'm pretty sure I have ADHD, and I like trying new smokes. Every time I walk in the local shops, the first thing I ask is "Any new cigars?" That new cigar is the Conjura - in particular the smallest size out of the selection of four sizes (4" x 48 ring - slightly box-pressed) The price point of $7 is awesome for an everyday smoke. The cigar is as complex as it gets for this price-point. Good flavor, nice construction, bounties of smoke.
The Rare Favorite
Tatuaje - Black Label - Robusto (not the Tubo - the special 3-pack giveaway)
If given a choice to smoke one cigar and one cigar only for the rest of my life - this would be the one. Full-flavored with an amazing array of flavors. From rich spice to a hints of candy apple - this cigar is great. Too bad you can't buy them by the box. :-(
The Medium Priced Flawless Favorite
La Riqueza - Cabinet - Petit Robusto
I love the La Riqueza series by Pete Johnson (maker of Tatuaje) - Usually the La Riqueza is a box pressed smoke and comes in an old-school box made of pressed paper or whatever those cheaper boxes are. But the Cabinet series comes in cedar boxes and are regular shape (non-box press0. Whatever that does to the cigar is worthy of worship. While I enjoy both styles, the cabinet selection smells and tastes of honey. The raw sweetness isn't sugary and over the top, it is balanced and addictive.
The Incredibly Affordable (Great Value) Favorite
CAO - La Traviata - Divino (Robusto)
If this cigar were $10 it would not make the list. But it is only $5. This cigar is an amazing smoke. The flavor, the complexity, the construction make this one of hell of a smoke. But the price tag make it outstanding. While there are others on this list that I would take over the La Traviata in a heartbeat, I smoke this cigar often because I can enjoy it without emptying my wallet.
The Surprised They Made Something This Good Favorite
Liga Privada - No. 9
Drew Estate was known for its seemingly endless amount of flavor-infused cigars. Most smokers I know were skeptical when they heard Drew Estate was looking to make a "real" cigar. I have to admit, I wasn't counting down the days till these were available for purchase, but once I lit one up, my feelings changed almost instantly. A smooth, balanced, delicious, full-flavored cigar.
The Damn I Wish You Were Cheaper Favorite
Ashtin VSG / Padron Anniversary
The title of this one speaks for itself. VSG's and anything out of the Padron Anniversary Series are just plain great cigars. I'll agree that I prefer some vitolas over others, but you can't go wrong when smoking these. You're almost guranteed to have a problem free burn and a delicious flavor profile. Your wallet may suffer a bit though. Yeah, you can catch some smaller sizes around 10-11$, but for the most part, you're kicking Andrew Jackson out and moving Abe Lincoln in when you pick up one of these tasty cigars.
The Introduction Cigar
CAO Brazilia - Box Press or Tatuaje Havana (Red Label)
As an avid smoker and an amateur reviewer, friends often ask what cigar they should buy. Which leads me to ask, what do you like?, do you like this?, do you like that? - The problem is, that these enquirers are not normal smokers and have no idea the difference between Connecticut Shade and Broadleaf.
It has always bothered me, that when I've heard this questioned asked of others, 80% of the time, the person answers with "Macanudo" or something incredibly mild. I dare say that a newbie need not be deprived of flavor and a bit of strength. I'm not trying to put anyone on their ass and turn them green. But I want to give them something to work off of. If its too strong or weak, they can move up or down in power.
Both of these cigars are reasonably priced, offer a decent amount of flavor, strength and complexity. A nice mixture to spark any to-be smoker's interest.
The Not My Favorite, But I Can Find You Anywhere Cigar
Romeo and Juliet, Habana Reserve
Ever been out of your neck of the woods, on the road or whatever, and far away from a known-reputable tobacconist? You gets to jonesin' and the next thing you know you're pulliing in to every strip mall in site hoping someone has cigars. (Black&Milds, Swisher Sweets etc. do not count) You see the oasis ahead, a sign that says TOBACCO SHOP, CIGARS blah blah blah. Alas, your efforts have rewarded you. You park and run inside only to see empty floor space a shitty single column humidor, tons of cigarettes and a TV with KENO on it.
Reality hits.....there will be no Liga Privada, no chance of picking up a Tatuaje, hell no they ain't got Padron. The humidor; poorly kept, barely air-tight and full of empty space. You look through the "variety" to find very little in the way of choice. So you compromise and reach for one of the traditional brands that everyone has heard of but doesn't smoke when given a wider selection.
These cigarette depots usually keep Romeo and Juliet - and I tell ya, the Habana Reserve is a decent smoke. A nice medium bodied smoke. A little light in the way of strength, but they usually cost 5-6$ and have a nice flavor profile. Sweet, creamy with quality construction. You can't be too picky in these situations.
The If I Were Swimming In a Safe of Gold Bullion Like Uncle Scrooge from Ducktales smoke
Padron Anniversary 45th Year Family Reserve
At $30-35 a stick, this cigar is made for men who adorn monocles and light their cigars with flaming Benjies. I've only smoked two of these, and they were amazing. I can honestly say that there are better cigars out there. Also, while they are delicious, the tripled price of a nice cigar is a bit unjust. I would say this cigar is 3X better than a Tatuaje Brown Label, or a Liga Privada No.9.
But the premise of this favorite is I have more money than Bill Gates, but can't hire a decent pilot or find a way to make my 3 bastard nephews disappear. So it is safe to assume I would smoke $35 cigars when I could get one just as tasty for $15.
If you don't remember the cartoon Ducktales, I apologize because that made no sense to you. Just think, lots of money - not enough stuff to spend it on.
MORE COMING SOON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!