March 30, 2011

CAO Lx2 (Cigar RIghts of America - Rosado Especial)

CAO Lx2 CRA Rosada Especial
So when you join the CRA, you are given two cigars that are made for them exclusively and they send you two at random. One of the cigars I was given was their custom version of the Lx2. Unlike the regular line, the Lx2 CRA version has a rosado wrapper that is lighter than the original. The cigar is your typical toro in size measuring 6 1/2" with a 52 ring gauge. The Lx2 stands for the increase in ligero tobacco in the filler. The wrapper I believe is still Nicaraguan but for certain the binder is from Honduras and the filler tobacco is from the Dominican Republic and Pueblo Nuevo (Nicaragua).
CRA logo
Holding the cigar, you can feel the oil coming out of the wrapper onto your hands and it is beautiful in color. It has a wonderful red hue to it and is very toothy. This is probably one of prettiest wrappers I have seen lately. There were practically no veins in the wrapper, and it was practically flawless. I gave the appearance of this cigar a perfect rating. The aroma of it was very lovely with lots of leather notes and fruit with some mild spices.
Rosado Especial
As you light up the cigar it takes sometime for the flavor to kick in but once it does you are greeted with notes of leather, coffee and cocoa. As the cigar continued it really didn't change much and got a little boring to be honest. It still has wonderful flavors of the leather and coffee but it was just repetitive and uneventful. Around halfway through the cigar the burn began to canoe and become uneven and I had to relight it several times and work on getting it back to normal.

When I finished this cigar I was disappointed, I went into it very positive and the wrapper was beautiful but it just went downhill from there. I feel that the flavor died down and there were some burn problems that really killed it. This is proof that just because a cigar is gorgeous to look at, it doesn't mean it will be a great cigar. Overall it was it's appearance and aroma that kept this cigar as highly rated as it was. I give this cigar an 87. I must say though that you should not using this rating as a reason to not join the CRA, it is an important cause and needs your support. 

Go to the CRA website and take a look around, at least think about joining. If you are a Republican than you should join whether you smoke or not because this what you stand for as being Republican. :-) 

Cigars Rights of America

March 29, 2011

Domaine de Montrabech (Vin de Pays d'Oc)

Domaine de Montrabech
Let's get started with the term Vin de Pays d'Oc.  The term means country wine from southern France. Wines from this region are typically blends of grapes, but are in a higher class than table wines. This wine is 42% Carignan, 26% Grenada, 18% Merlot, 8% Syrah, and 6% Cinsault. The wine has a wonderful ruby color to it and has pleasant aromas of cherries, strawberries and cinnamon. The opening has tastes of cherries, oak, currants and raspberries. It is a very round wine and is very soft on the tannins. This wine leaves your mouth with its wonderful flavors and makes you want another bottle.

Typically France is noted for its Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Rose wines in the South and that is a shame. France has great growing regions and many great grapes in it and they should be enjoyed more commonly. I wouldn't compare this with a nice Pinot Noir from Burgundy or a Bordeaux blend, but it is still enjoyable. I give this wine an 89 and it is a great everyday wine. The truth is that this is a little bit better than a French table wine, and it is better than most upscale American wines. I am not one to say that France is the best wine country, but this sure helps that cause. Give this wine a shot and other wines that are Vin de Pays and Vin de Pays d'Oc. In fact, put aside the wine you often drink and reach out for something brand new.    

Cain F

Cain F

Cain F 550

I realize now that I forgot to take a picture of the cigar, but there are pictures on the web. After the success of the Cain line, the Oliva Cigar Company and Studio Tobac announced Cain F. Cain F is stronger in body than the original line while still remaining flavorful and balanced. While the Cain cigars are comprised of 82% ligero, the original had 25% of that coming from Esteli; the F has 32% Esteli ligero tobacco. Esteli is known for stronger tobacco and this notion will definitely make the F stronger than the original line. The Cain F is a Nicaraguan puro and has filler tobacco from the three prominent regions in Nicaragua. 

I smoked the robusto in the line, it measures 5 3/4" with a 50 ring gauge and is a beauty in hand. The wrapper is very silky and dusty and has some veins throughout. Smelling at the foot and on the wrapper I got notes of wood, leather and spice.  As I lit the cigar, I was greeted with lots of wood notes, mostly cedar, but also got some spice and leather with it.

 As the cigar continues, the strength grows and grows but so does the flavor. There is a large presence of cayenne, pepper, and wood that continues through the first third and it is a perfect pairing with the strength of this baby. Entering the second third, their is a mocha flavor that emerges with the cayenne and it is paired with some oak. The second third of the cigar is probably the highlight of the cigar and it is a beauty of a smoke. I recommend that when you smoke this cigar you do so after dinner or a big lunch because the cigar is very full. Finishing up the cigar, the spice and wood remain, but there is this graham cracker taste now present and it is a nice finish to the smoke.

I was really happy with this cigar, and I believe that this was the best out of the Cain line. This cigar delivered in body and flavor. I give this cigar a 92 and will look forward to future stock piling in my humidor. There was really no burn problem throughout the smoke and it didn't get hot at the end either. This is one of the first real bodied cigars that has tons of flavor. This is a cigar that must be purchaed by all full bodied and full flavored cigar fans.

Cain F -

March 28, 2011

Cain by Oliva

Have you ever wondered what a cigar made of entire ligero would be like? Would it blow you away? Would it be to strong to smoke? Well Oliva Cigars took on the project and that a what treat the cigars have been. Cain, the name of the cigar line, is made with 82% Nicaraguan ligero, which is quite a lot of ligero. They have had several extensions to the line, the Serie F and Daytona, since the original release and both are very different, but I want to talk about the original right now. The cigars come either in a Nicaraguan habano or Mexican Sand Andres wrapper. The two cigars are very different and unique and that is because of the wrapper, but both cigars pack a punch. I was hesitant at first to really get into these because I thought that it would be a cigar that markets very well and has a huge success at first but dies out, but boy was I wrong. Whether you choose the maduro or habano version you are in for a treat.
Cain Maduro

San Andres Maduro
The maduro version as I said earlier is covered in a San Andres wrapper and is a beauty. There are some veins in the wrapper and it is somewhat rough, but it is very toothy and has a wonderful aroma to it. The aroma is of spice, chocolate and woods, and I know that this baby is going be kicking from the beginning because of the filler tobacco. Wow, I jut lit this smoke up and it already is going at you strong. You can expect tons of spice and body, but it also has a nice finish of cafe mocha which smooths it out. Along the halfway point I began to notice some meaty notes which were really nice and a treat that you usually don't get with a maduro wrapper. The cigar grows in intensity as you continue on this journey and for novice smokers it is definitely to much. The cigar remained very nice to smoke though all the way to the end and it never got hot which is not what I was expecting with it. Usually ligero leafs don't burn as well as others leaves, but this one had a beautiful burn and I never had troubles with it. The cigar reminds you that it is a maduro cigar and gives of those definite notes but at the same time has that full body character to it which is similar of a habano. I give this cigar a 90, great smoke!

Nicaraguan Habano
Cain Habano
Finishing the maduro version, I went on to the habano version. The aroma of this cigar is of cedar, leather and of course spices. The wrapper looks in better shape on this cigar and has some veins on it but it very oily and dusty. Like the maduro version it is the same size and measure 5.7" and has a ring gauge of 50. Looking at the shape of the cigar I really like it. It is longer than a normal robusto but it is not the size of a toro. I won't go as far as to call it a fat corona but it a really nice vitola. As I light the smoke up I am overwhelmed by pepper, but also greeted with notes of coffee, cedar and caramel. The cigar is much different because of the wrapper than the maduro but it has the distinct full body and spice from the ligero tobacco. The cigar is very smoky and meaty and really wonderful. As I finish the cigar the flavors remained very consistent to the end and the body stronger than ever. I had not trouble with the burn of this cigar and I am glad I have more in my humidor. Looking at the long term of this cigar I wouldn't age it. Aging this cigar would definitely take away a lot of the power it has, but that is what makes it great. This is a cigar that I would have a couple in my humidor at times and pound through them on a regular basis. I give this cigar a 91, and would say it is better than it it's counterpart. I have yet to rate the Serie F, but this cigar is definitely the strongest of the Cain smokes.

These smokes are also made in the nub format, and though I have not smoked them yet I believe that they will be stronger than the regular vitola's. Enjoy!

Cain Cigars -

Cain Daytona

Cain Daytona

The newest release of the Cain line and from Oliva Cigars, Daytona is beast. The cigar is not meant to be as strong as the other cigars and uses a milder habano leaf from Nicaragua that is toothy and oily. The cigar has a wonderful aroma of mild spices with wood and leather. All the tobacco inside is from Nicaragua's best three growing regions and is all ligero. I smoked the robusto in the line and the cigar was 5" in length and had a 50 ring gauge.

Right when I lit the cigar up I was greeted with flavors that were very similar to that of Jamaican Jerk. I was greeted with intense spices of cinnamon, pepper. nutmeg and cloves, and also notes of thyme and jalapeno peppers. As spicy as the cigar was it still remained very smooth and medium in body  which was very surprising to me. As the cigar continues, I still has a large presence of those spices but was greeted with notes of coffee and cedar as well.

This cigar was a great release and I look forward the Studio Tobac Tour in June so I can really learn more about the smoke. Right now I give this cigar a 92, and I am looking forward to trying other vitola's in the line. This is a must try cigar that should be in all humidors.

Cain Daytona -

La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor

Mi Amor
La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor
Following the success of the original La Aroma de Cuba line, Ashton Cigars has released several line extensions since. The Mi Amor line is box pressed beauty covered in a wonderful San Andres maduro wrapper with Nicaraguan fillers. The cigar is made by Don Pepin in Nicaragua and was recently rated in the Top 10 by Cigar Aficionado. I smoke the Magnifico vitola, which was rated #6 and it measures 6" with a 52 ring gauge. Toothy and dark, the wrapper is placed perfectly and looks wonderful as well. It has aromas of coffee, chocolate and earth, and gives the impression early on that the smoke will be delightful.

Upon lighting, you are greeted with lots of coffee, chocolate and wood notes, and has a wonderful sweetness to it. The cigar is medium in body and very complex, and has a long finish. As the cigar continues the tobacco really shows how well it marries together and you begin to pick up notes of vanilla, cedar and leather, and becomes very peaceful. It isn't till the last quarter where the cigar becomes very hot and I had to put it down.

Looking back on the cigar, I am very impressed with it and believe that it was once of the best maduro cigars on the market. I am not a huge fan of maduro cigars, and I don't hold on to them much in my humidor but this is one that should be kept. I give this cigar a 91, and believe that it will do well with more aging. In about a two years this cigar will be even smoother and be very pleasant all the way to the nub.

La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor - Cigars International

La Aurora 1495 Connoisseur Collection

1495 Series - various wrappers
Do you ever wonder what a cigar would taste like with a different wrapper? Well La Aurora has the answer! With the launch of the 1495 Connoisseur Collection, La Aurora was able to give a cigar smoker the chance to see what impact a wrapper plays on a cigar.  For a long time I have stressed the importance of the wrapper, and how it has such a huge affect on the cigars. I prefer smaller ring gauge cigars because it gives you the opportunity to truly taste the wrapper, and with a great wrapper that is what you want! Now with the Connoisseur Collection, the filler and binder are identical from cigar to cigar but the wrapper changes dramatically from the Ecuadorian Sumatra to the Cameroon and the Corojo to the Brazilian Sun Grown. I have sampled all the cigars, but I have did not have a second of the Connecticut so I will not be rating it.

The 1495 cigar begins with a tri-country filler of tobacco from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Peru, and then dressed with a Dominican Corojo binder. The wrapper I said earlier is different throughout so let's get this going.

The original 1495 Series is covered with an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper. The wrapper is very dark and oily and has an aroma at cold of earth and chocolate. Once you light the cigar up, you are greeted with notes of earth and nuts and remained the same till the halway point when there was eventually a spice presence and it became fuller in body. Overall, I would say that this cigar is medium in body and very solid. It burned very well, and the draw was very nice. I would have to give this cigar an 89. I have had these before, but they never tend to be a humidor cigar for me.

Following the original 1495 I went to the Corojo. The Corojo is very different in that the cigar is much more spicy throughout and very leathery. Overall, the smoke was a lot dryer as well. I still picked up some nuttiness through the smoke, but the earthiness of the original line was not as present. The wrapper was very dusty and dry and lighter in color but constructed very well. The smoke on this cigar was razor even and better than the original. I would have to give this cigar a 90, it is better than the original but not by much. The corojo wrapper merely added more spice and body.

Brazilian wrappers, I love them. If you have never had a wrapper that is Brazilian you should definitely try one. Whether it is a Habano, Arapiraca or sun grown wrapper, they are packed with tons of flavor. The Brazilian sun-grown was beautiful, dark and oily, and smelled of mocha and spices. Right when you light up the cigar hits you with coffee and pepper, but slowly fades and becomes milder. Around a third of the way in you begin to gets notes of chocolate, toast and sugar, and reminds me of nutella. This was a great smoke and very flavorful and I gave this cigar a 91.   

To continue with the tasting I went to the Cameroon wrapper version. I am usually not a huge Cameroon wrappers because they tend to be a lot more mild and one-dimensional, but this version proves that wrong. The cigar is very beautiful and vein free with a nice toothy feeling to it and the aroma is of wood and sugar. Once you light the cigar up, you are greeted with a mild spiciness with some wood and some notes of tropical fruits. The cigar remained very complex throughout and continued to challenge my palate. I would say the cigar was medium in body but closer to the mild say. This cigar was very surprising, and in fact was my favorite of the line. I gave this cigar a 91.

Looking back on the smokes they were all incredible and each of them very unique in their own ways. I think this is a great way to show the impact that wrappers have on a cigar and the differences of tobacco. I would have to say the Cameroon version was the best of them all even though the Brazilian sun-grown wrapper was rated the same as it. I am not sure of these cigars are still on the market, but if you have the chance to pick them up you should. If you have the chance to try cigars that are identical in filler and binder but different in wrapper you should jump on it, it will be a great experience.

March 27, 2011

Wines of the Weekend - Layer Cake Shiraz 2009 and Chateau de Villegeorge 2008

Chateau de Villegeorge 2008

Layer Cake Shiraz 2009
Wines of the Weekend

Layer Cake Shiraz 2009

From South Australia, one the best Shiraz growing regions in the world, comes Layer Cake. Layer Cake Shiraz grapes are grown in the most diverse region of the area, the McLaren Vale, and all the grapes are 100% pure Shiraz. They make note that they never use American Oak but they do use 50% new French Oak. The wine has a wonderful color to it and is very a dark red almost purple. The aroma is of black plums, dark cherries, blackberries, mocha, tobacco, and chocolate. Before I even taste this wine it smells fabulous and I hope the taste meets up to its aroma and color.  

From the first sip, you are greeted with blackberries, spices, cedar, mocha, and so much more. This is a very full bodied and full flavored wine, very complex. I feel that this is a great Shiraz for the wine aficionado and the wine novices. I give this wine a 93, and I am glad I have two bottles of it on my wine rack. Layer Cake Wines makes more than Shiraz and with all their wines they focus on the more popular region of their wines. Their Cabs are from Napa, Malbec from Mendoza, and so on. This is a must try wine.
Layer Cake
Chateau De Villegeorge Bordeaux 2008

I have been digging some Bordeaux’s lately, they have always been great, but recently they have been my must grabs on the wine rack. This Bordeaux comes from the Haut-Médoc AOC region and the wine itself is 56% Cabernet Sauvignon and the Merlot is 44%. Bordeaux has a lot of regions, the Médoc region is probably the most well known, but the Haut-Médoc region is just north of it and similar in weather. The wine is medium full in body and has a beautiful garnet color to it. The aroma is of berries and wood with no spices present. 

The wine opens up with lots of berries and a little mocha and is very soft and dry. The wine is never harsh and though it leaves you wanting more sips, I did not believe it delivered as well as others. I give this wine a 89 and would look elsewhere for another Bordeaux.  
Chateau de Villegeorge

March 23, 2011

Cigar Review: E.P. Carrillo Core Line Encantos

E.P. Carrillo
I am going to jump right into it. I picked up this cigar and the aroma was so much of honey I swore that I might have spilled some on my hand from breakfast. It was just so lovely, I think I was smelling it for 10 minutes. Anyways, E.P. Carrillo has been making cigar forever, but in 2009 he launched his own company and now has his core line on the market. Like most of his cigars, it is covered in an Ecudorian Habano wrapper, then a Dominican binder and filled with tobacco from the Dominican and Nicaragua. The cigar measured 4 7/8" with a 50 ring gauge and seemed small for a non-Cuban robusto.

The cigar has a very interesting appearance, it is has several different shades of light brown to it, but it looks like leather in the light. Very shiny, the cigar is fairly oily with some dry patches. It is constructed very well, and I can find nothing wrong with it. As mentioned earlier the aroma is of honey and is quite pleasant.

Right when you light this cigar you are greeted with characters of wood, predominantly cedar and oak, and it finishes with a nice leather taste as well. As the cigar progresses I was greeted with more nutty notes but it still stayed predominantly woody and leathery. The cigar finished a little warm so I put it down before it got to harsh, but overall very pleasant.

Overall, I think the aroma of the cigar was the highlight of the smoke but the flavors were still pleasant. I would say that this cigar is worth 90 points, but I believe that with age it will become much more pleasant. Rest this cigar for a year to three years and I believe it will be better, the tobacco will marry well with one another.

March 22, 2011

Aurora Puro Vintage 2003

Puro Vintage
Aurora Puro Vintage, beautiful Salomon
Salomon, a great size that you see more and more of these days. The size itself is not in my daily rotation for smokes, but when I want a really relax for several hours and worry about nothing this is a smoke I grab. I have had my fair share of salomones, but the Puro Vintage is probably tied for 1st with the Partagas Salomon by Habanos s.a. The size itself is very unique, and in some ways it looks like a carrot. Typically the cigar measures 7" to 7 1/2" and has a ring gauge between 52 and 58 that diminishes gradually as the cigar goes on. Most salomon's have a little tip that pokes out of the foot so when you first light it has a very tight draw and you can capture the flavor of the wrapper before getting the dominant filler tobacco with a larger ring gauge. With all salomon's the smokes are typically very cool and easy draws because of the massive ring gauge. All in all it is a great shape, but given the amount of time needed to smoke one they are not as popular.
The Puro Vintage is just a beautiful cigar, with a wonderful shiny oily wrapper there are no soft spots, and I almost don't want to smoke the cigar but put it back in the humidor. The aroma of it is pre-dominantly cedar with some coffee notes.  When the cigar was released, they only released 12,000 cigars and it came in boxes of 8. The cigar is pricey, but so good! The wrapper is an Ecuadorian habano and filled with Cuban-seed Dominican tobacco. All leaves in the cigar were harvested in 2003 hence the name "puro vintage 2003."  

Right when you light this cigar up you are greeted with wonderful notes of coffee, cedar, and this wheat beer flavor with an orange. As the cigar builds it becomes more lush and powerful releasing notes of espresso with lemon peel. The cigar is just a flavor bomb passing back and forth between espresso, lemon peel, coffee beans, wheat beer and orange zest. Wonderful smoke. 

As I draw closer to the end, the cigar became a little hot so i put it down but I still had a good long smoke so that was not really an issue. The flavors were impeccable and the smoke itself was wonderful producing this heavy smoke and never having  a burn issue. Easily one of the best cigars I have had in a little while, I give this cigar a 96. Just beautiful!

Aurora Puro Vintage 2003 - Cigars International  


Lillian Ladouys
Bordeaux, the name itself is beautiful let alone the wines it produces. St.-Estèphe is located in the northermost area of  Médoc, Médoc a well known area of the Bordeaux region. The winery itself can trace itself back to the mid 1600's, but it is unclear to me where the name originates from. Most of the vines are located in gravel, but some are in a limestone area. Their vines are broken down into 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc, and that is spread out over 48 hectares or 118 acres. All their wines are fermented in stainless-steel vats before being transferred to oaks barrels, among which 1/3 are new each vintage. They rest their wine fore 18 months before filtration, bottling and fining. Lillian Ladouys is their grand vin, of which they produce 20,000 cases annually.     
Lillian Ladouys 2004
The color of the wine is a beautiful ruby red with soft tears when swirling. Wines typically with higher alcohol content will have more tears or legs. The aroma is of dark chocolate cake with raspberries and is heavenly. The wine is very smooth with tons of rich red fruits, predominantly currants and raspberries, and leaves a smooth soft note of tannins on the finish. Really a wonderful Bordeaux.

This is a fabulous wine, and has rested well since bottling. It is ready to drink now, but I believe it will only get better with age. Try holding on to it though. I give this wine a 92. It's a classic Bordeaux, great with a nice meal or a fabulous cigar. I would pair this with a Padron, Bolivar, Montecristo, Partagas, and even a Alec Bradley Tempus Maduro. Loving this wine right now.

March 21, 2011

Cigar Review: Padron 1964 Anniversary Series Exclusivo (Natural)

1964 Anniversary
1964 Anniversary Exclusivo
The 1964 Anniversary Exclusivo is probably one of the most popular vitola's in the 1964 Anniversary line, and the 1964 Anniversary line is probably one of the most popular lines as well. The line itself is medium in body and very flavorful. I myself prefer the 1926 Serie, but the 1964 Anniversary is still magnificent. The exclusivo measures 5 1/2" with a 50 ring gauge and is beautifully box pressed. The wrapper is silky and beautiful in color with an aroma of coffee and nuts.

Right when you light this cigar up you are greeted with notes of almonds and cream that remains prevalent through the first third. Very mild, it is very pleasant and different than most exclusivo's at the beginning. Right when you get into the second third it steps up a notch with notes of coffee, cocoa and leather, which is more the Padron style.

From there on, the cigar takes on the Padron benchmark flavors and is a bomb. The cigar became medium in body and lots of spice. I often wonder why I don't have more of these in my humidor, but I have no room for more of all the cigars I like. I would honestly have to say that this is one cigar that must be in everyone's humidor. I have a number of cigars that are great but I know some would not care for, but this one that I think everyone would love. I give this cigar a 95 and look forward to my next. You can get these smokes at about any cigar shop, but I bet they are out a lot. You can get these smokes at all cigar shops on my recommended cigar shops, just look for the best prices.

Montecristo Grand Edmundo Edición Limitada 2010

Montecristo Grand Edmundo Edición Limitada 2010
When Habanos s.a. announced the release of the Grand Edmundo I was excited, but it was going to be hard to follow up the Sublime of 2008. The great thing about the 2010 Montecristo Grand Edmundo is that it is in the cañonazo format which is a first, since this size is only available in the Cohiba Siglo VI. The cigar measures 5 5/6" with a 52 ring gauge and is wonderfully balanced. The cigar comes packaged in boxes of 10 and is a sight to see. 
I have been aging these for over a year now and I am going start opening them up. Aroma at cold is of dry tobacco and some sweetness as well. Right when you light the cigar up, you are greeted with this mocha flavor that is reminiscent of a chocolate mousse. After the first third it is still chocolaty, but very light. So far, this is a dessert cigar, I would smoke this after a nice dinner with a port and some chocolate sweet. Really pleasant and easy.

Just finished the second third and the light chocolate has faded away, and is now of toast, fungi, and some dark chocolate. So far, the burn has been wonderful, no issues and the draw has been perfect as well. I am on the last third of the cigar now, and the chocolate has come back and is really pleasant. This cigar has remained a dessert cigar and is really nice. I find that this cigar is not an everyday smoke and limited to certain times. I know you could smoke this anytime, but with it's flavor profiles it would do best with a dessert. The body of the smoke remained very mild-medium and at no point was ever harsh. I give this cigar a 90, and imagine that the others will remain similar. I suggest aging these cigars for a year or two plus and they will be great.
Montecristo Grand Edmundo Edición Limitada 2010

March 20, 2011

Buying Cuban Cigars

Is that a real Cuban? That is a question that will often be asked when buying a Cuban cigar. Depending on if you buy a single stick or a box, there are several things you can do to tell if it is or is not. When looking at the cigar, look at the cap. Is the cap triple cap? If it isn't, then it is not Cuban. The triple cap should have three lines running parallel to one another at the top of the cigar. Notice picture below, three lines/caps at the top of the cigar.
Numbers represent caps
 Besides the cigar, the box is the best place to look. On all Cuban cigar boxes, they will have the Habanos chevron, a diagnol sticker on the top of the box that is white with a gold line slightly on the edge at the bottom and top and between that it will have a tobacco leaf in black, and next to it in writing it will have Habanos in red with yellow outline. Below in black writing it will say Denomacion de Origen Protegida. Sometimes, next to Habanos will be an abbreviation D.O.P, that is not always present though. Notice picture below.
On all Cuban cigar boxes there is a warranty seal as well. Prior to 2009 there was no bar code on it, but that changed, so for any cigar box from 2009 onwards you should see a bar code. The bar code can be divided into four ways. There can be a straight 12 digits, 5 digits - bar - 7 digits, 6 digits - bar - 6 digits, and finally 1 digits space 5 digits - bar - 7 digits. You can test this code at the Habanos website to check if it an authentic box code as well. I have attached the link, Habanos Stamp Verification. Now, I have been in a La Casa del Habano and bought Cubans from a box code and it has come back fraud. It is not entirely accurate but they are working their best on it. See picture below.
Warranty Seal
Now looking at the warranty seal under a black light you should see a picture of the shield of Cuba as well. I know most people don't carry around black lights, but this is what it looks like.  Also, the warranty seal should be on the left side of where you are opening the box of cigars. Whether it is a cabinet or dress box, it will be on the left side of opening, and typically go through the shield's center.
Black Light
Warranty Seal
Underneath the box, there will be several things to look for. Pressed into the box, should be wrriten Habanos s.a. HECHO EN CUBA Totalament a mano. It will in three lines and pressed in. Underneath that is a stamp of when the cigars were boxed and the factory code. Now the factory code is always changing, and they do this for several reasons. Habanos s.a. was getting tired of retailers sending back boxes from certain factories because they were not made as well as other factories and also to prevent fraud. See picture below.
Bottom of box
Inside the box, there are several things you can notice. With all Cuban cigars, they should have an internal notice that talks about the temperature and humidity to keep the cigars at. The languages in order are Spanish, English, French, and German. Along with that, some cigars will have a sleeve that separates the two layers or covers the cigars, there will be a groove on the top right corner and it will either be crescent shape or a straight line.
Habanos Notice
Now if you buy Cohiba's you have to look out for a few things. All Cohiba cigars comes in a cardboard box where the warranty seal is and the boxed date is placed. The bottom of a box of Cohiba's will not have a box date on them, and should not have a warranty seal on them. Now, if the box of Cohiba's has a folding lid and not a slide open lid, it will have a hinge that Habanos is engraved in. See below.
Along with that, Cohiba cigars have a special leaflet on the insides beside the traditional one which tells you why Cohiba cigars are special. They aren't anymore special than others though, just more expensive.
Cohiba leaflet
That covers the basic on buying Cuban cigars, don't freak out too much though. That being said, probably the best place to buy authentic Cuban cigars is from a La Casa del Habano store. Do research through. If you are going abroad, take a look at where you can buy Cuban cigars in the city. If there is a La Casa del Habano go there, and if not look into the authenticity of other options. Don't buy Cuban cigars off the street, and if the store is nice and not sketchy you are probably safe. Enjoy! I have attached a link to see where La Casa del Habano locations are.  La Casa del Habano Franchise Search

March 19, 2011

Ghost Pines Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Ghost Pines
Springtime is in full bloom, and though I am getting ready for the Pinot Gris, Rioja, Chardonnay and Vino Verde's, I am still digging my heavy reds. I picked this wine up sometime ago, and I am glad I did. The wine, as you can see from the label, is made with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Napa and Sonoma and is a definite treat. The wine has a wonderful aroma to it of chocolate and blackberries and a beautiful garnet color to it. Swirling it around the wine glass, the legs are magnificent and I am looking forward to my first sip.

Right from the first sip, you are hit with blackberries, vanilla beans, and dark cherries. It is very round but very full bodied leaving lots of tannins on the aftertaste. It is a beautiful Cabernet, and the fact that it has grapes from Napa and Sonoma is a strength. I would say this is very comparable to expensive Napa Cabernet's and at a fraction of the price.

I give this wine a 92, and was tempted to have it be one of my favorite new wines, but the Naughty Racy and Montelena Zinfandel still outdo it. For you Cab fans out there, go and get it, but a bunch of bottles and throw some in the pantry somewhere. Reading the back of the label you also get to find out where the Ghost Pines name comes from. Louis P. Martin bought the winery in 1968 and it was 178 acres in eastern Napa. Supposedly at dusk, the native gray pines look ghostlike. They hover, solitary, throughout the coastal valley.

Ghost Pines Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Nica Libre Potencia and Partagás Serie D No. 4 Revisited

Nica Libre Potencia Churchill
Partagás Serie D No. 4

So as to be expected, you are going to revisit cigars in your life and get something else out of them. I smoked the Nica Libre Potencia about a month ago in the robusto format, and decided to revisit it in the churchill format. Though the cigar had notes of coffee and spice as the robusto format, it had notes of cinnamon, sugar, and toast as well. I found the body was about the same on this cigar, maybe a little bit stronger but pretty equal. I thought the flavor was as good in the churchill format, and you got a little more out of the wrapper but there were some burn issues with the churchill. I give the churchill a 90, it is not as good as the robusto  but it is still a great smoke. See my previous post on the robusto for the other tasting notes, Nica Libre Potencia Robusto.

Whether in a tube or not, the Serie D No. 4 is an amazing smoke. I picked this cigar out of a box of 25 that I have from 2009, and all the wrappers are amazing. Each and every cigar is beautiful in construction. The aroma of the box is amazing, lots of chocolate, tobacco and spice, really lovely. The flavor is pretty consistent and the body is identical. It is a great smoke, and the fact that they are so close in flavor is great. A lot of people will bash Cuba because of inconsistency but this is proof that they are on the right track. I love this smoke, I give it a 94. Loads of dark cherries, cinnamon, toast, sugar and chocolate. Really lovely. See earlier blog, Partagas Serie D No. 4

March 18, 2011

Cohiba Behike BHK 56

Behike Band

Completing the triumvirate of the Behike's is the 56. Much larger than the other two the 56 is a monstrous smoke. The cigar is a massive 6 1/2" with a 56 ring gauge and heavy in my hand. The wrapper on the cigar is a beautiful light chocolate brown color with the impeccable triple cap and pigtail. The Behike line has been a huge hit and the 52 and 54 have been great and I look forward to the 56.  For more information on the Behike line see my previous posts, BHK 54 and BHK 52

Looking over the cigar, I can see no issues with the wrapper. It is constructed perfectly and the aroma from the wrapper is of wonderful cocoa and cedar. The draw was very easy and cool giving the ring gauge of the cigar and I was no expecting any smoking problems throughout. The burn has a little bit of issues throughout, but nothing dramatic.

Right upon opening, the cigar has lots of tea and nutty notes, and open up into some intense coffee flavors about a third of the way in. From the halfway point, you remain to have those flavors but a macaroon flavor begins to emerge and is very pleasant. Towards the last third, the flavor became a little dull and those previous flavors faded away.

Overall, I was not as impressed with the cigar as I hoped it would be perform a lot more than it did. Looking at my ratings, the construction and smoke appearance carried it a long way, but it was in the last third when the cigar was at a crucial point that it began to have its demise. I give this cigar an 87, and hope that it will age well, but currently disappointing. 

Cohiba BHK 56

Looking at all the cigars I smoked this week, the Juan Lopez Seleccion No. 1 took the gold and I was a little surprised. I thought I picked up some great smokes, and they are, but the Juan Lopez is just a consistent and flavorful smoke. Just goes to show that just because it is pricey, it does not mean it is the best. Of course, these are my opinions.

March 17, 2011

Juan Lopez Seleccion No. 1

Juan Lopez
When you are shopping for Cuban cigars, you will most likely overlook these sticks. They sell for less than most other Cubans but don't let that fool you, they are just as delicious. Named after their founder, businessman Juan Lopez Diez, they were founded in the 1870's and have remained under the radar since. The brand has always been consistent to me and delivered rich and pleasant flavors. Available in a variety of sizes the Seleccion No., or corona gorda, is my preferred size. With all corona gorda's, I believe they offer the best flavor per wrapper/filler ratio.

Juan Lopez Seleccion No. 1
Looking at the cigar, the wrapper is silky and light rustic brown in color. The triple cap is a little rough, but no big deal. The aroma is of wood and earth and the draw is perfect. Upon lighting you are greeted by a sweet spicy note to it, lots of cinnamon, anise and cloves, but that is just a warm up for the flavors to come. As the cigar progresses you begin to get more wood, predominately cedar, but also some nuttiness to it. I get lots of sweeter nuts like almonds, brazil nuts and walnuts, never anything fuller or less sweet. The cigar is very smooth and rich, and though it is medium in body, it is constructed in a way that makes it seem milder than it actually is.

Thole whole smoke went by very easily with no touch ups needed and the ash was a beautiful gray in color. The strength of these cigars is the consistency of them. I find that with some bigger brands such as Cohiba and Partagas, you are more likely to get a cigar which isn't as good as others. Juan Lopez cigars to me are always enjoyable and never dull. This is a great cigar for any smoker. A newcomer would love it because it is very pleasant and easy while an aficionado would love it because of the rich flavors you get with a great cigar. I give this cigar a 93, and consider it to be the best Cuban I have had all week. I look forward to tomorrow to top the week off and see which cigar was the best.

March 16, 2011

Two Great Petit Corona's - Bolivar and Por Larranaga

Bolivar Petite Corona
Por Larranaga Petit Corona
These two petit corona's are in my opinion the best coming out of Cuba. The Por Larranaga brand is one the smaller brands coming out of Cuba, and probably not well known which is a shame. The Petit Corona for this brand is amazing. The cigar comes in cabinet's of 50 and is sold at a great price. I have never gotten a cabinet of these, but I have smoked a handful of these throughout out time and they are all great. The Bolivar is a larger brand, and though noted for different vitola's in the brand, the petit corona is among the best. Both of these petit corona's are very flavorful and very full in body. I have had some major fluctuations in the wrapper color for these cigars, sometime light and sometimes dark, but they always deliver such great flavor. These are great cigar to enjoy when you don't have much time but still want to go for a ride.
The wrapper on the PLPC, Por Larranaga Petit Corona, was in bad shape. When I got this smoke I noticed that this wrapper was not as good in quality, but I smoked the rest of them so this was all I had left. It has a nice color to it with a wonderful triple cap, but it has a tiny crack halfway up and some soft spots in it. The flavor of it was of tobacco, cedar, coffee, and fruits, and remained very full bodied throughout. Even though the wrapper was a little worse for wear, it burned well and remained a great smoke. I give this cigar an 89. If you are a cigar smoker that only has about 45 minuted everyday, then I would go with this cigar.

To me, Bolivar's are the Padron's of Cuban Cigars. They are just full flavored and full bodied all the time. The BPC, Bolivar Petit Corona is no exception. Loaded with a punch and flavor this cigar is hard to compete with. The wrapper in this smoke was very dark and slightly box pressed with no problems on it. Most BPC's need a lot of rest. I have found that they get much better every year. I have had this box for three years, and they are a lot better then when I got them. I don't buy these smokes often, partially due to the fact that they need to age, but when you have an older box then you are set. Right away this cigar hits with you tons of spice, wood and earth, and only gets more complex as it develops. Towards the end I was getting lots of cocoa, spice and wood, and the cigar was getting really strong. I had no problem with the burn on this smoke, and though I prefer the PLPC over it, I would have to give this cigar the upper hand with 90 points.

Overall, if you are going to buy either of these two I would go with the Por Larranaga for many reasons. I think for the most part Por Larranaga has a better Petit Corona, and the Bolivar brand excels in other sizes. The petit corona size is still one of the more popular sizes world wide and though the Montecristo No. 4 is the top seller, I think these two have them beat everyday of the week.     

Newer Posts Older Posts Home