May 31, 2011

Padilla Black Bear

Padilla Black Bear
I recently received an email from someone I did not know about how it is wrong and unfair for me to rate cigars that are provided exclusively by or Cigars International. The argument was that these cigars are not made for the nation and are often made because of the power these two companies have in the industry. I responded by saying that these cigars are available nationwide as long as you are willing to sacrifice going to your local cigar shop and so on. I found the argument to be fairly idiotic and even went on to ask the person how they felt about me rating Cuban cigars? I find that rating Cuban cigars which are not allowed in the United States to be far worse, but overall I don't care. The Padilla Black Bear is the wonderful counterpart to the Padilla Golden Bear and just like the counterpart it is an equally large parejo. The cigar is a 6" by 60 ring gauge gordo and is just massive in hand. The cigar comes covered in a beautiful Pennsylvania Broadleaf maduro wrapper, which I love, and has a wonderful aroma. Back to the wrapper, the Pennsylvania Broadleaf has wonderful flavors and aromas to it and is just amazing on any cigar. The aroma of the cigar has that distinct earthy rich sweetness that you get with Pennsylvania Broadleaf maduros and is just incredible. I pick up lots of cocoa, coffee, leather, wood and spice in the nose and it is one of the finest aromas I have had in a cigar in some time. Besides the Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper the cigar is comprised of Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers with a Nicaraguan binder.  

The Black Bear begins beautifully with wonderful dark chocolate notes that are accompanied by sweet spices and leather. I picked up a small hint of mint with the opening draws and it went wonderfully with the dark chocolate notes. The first third remained very cool and creamy and was a soft medium in body. As I enter the second third of the cigar the flavors are still similar but I also begin to pick up some nutty characteristics of almonds and walnuts. The cigar still remains very creamy throughout the smoke and still has that wonderful chocolate flavor to it. I am not picking up as much of a mint flavor in this part of the cigar but it was still very pleasant and sweet. Entering the final third of the cigar there is a big change in the smoke with the flavors. The cigar to this point is still burning very cool and evenly and there is a ton of smoke. I wasn't surprised that the cigar was burning smooth because often with large ring gauges the smoke is cooler. The final third has much fuller flavors to it showing lots of oak and toast, and has a strong finish of spices and leather. I found it very interesting to have the flavors change so dramatically but it was a nice little twist or wake up could say.

This cigar would be perfect for a pre-dinner smoke. The cigar showcases wonderful smooth rich flavors for the first two thirds and then BAM! I would give this cigar an 89 and believe it to be a great weekly cigar. The cigar shows wonderful flavors and has an easy body for the most part. I think a lot of people would really enjoy the great flavors this cigar has to offer but some would not care for the large size. This is about the only large ring gauge cigar that I have ever truly enjoyed so that means something to me. If you are a big fan of big cigars then this is a cigar for you.

Available at and Cigars International

My Room 101 LTD Conjura Edition 48*4

Room 101 LTD Conjura Edition
Room 101 Cigars are still pretty quiet in the cigar industry but are becoming larger every year. I find them very enjoyable and when I recommend them to people they are somewhat unsure of what I am talking about. The cigars are made in Honduras by Camacho Cigars and utilize a unique tobacco leaf for its wrapper. The cigar side of the company was founded by Matt Booth who started the Room 101 brand in 2003. The company encompasses cigars, jewelry and other luxurious offerings with an edge. The Conjura Edition, which is Spanish for conspiracy, utilizes a different wrapper from the original line and is more full in body while being box pressed. The wrapper on the cigar is from Honduras and is a special leaf called Semilla. The binder is Honduran with fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.     

The cigar is a very unique size and is almost a blend between a robusto and a petit corona. It measures 4" and has a ring gauge of 48 with a toothy faded brown wrapper. I like this size for a cigar, I have never seen it before but it is very unique and enjoyable. Holding the wrapper and foot of the cigar up to my nose I pick up the wonderful aromas of leather, pepper, coffee and wood. Since this cigar is so short in length I decided once again to review it in halves. The first half of the cigar is very dark with lots of pepper and leather on the front and a finish of coffee and wood. The burn was impeccable and it had a great amount of smoke as well. A cigar that gives off a lot of smoke is usually a winner in my book and when a cigar is burning evenly there are no worries which is another reason for loving that smoke. The cigar is definitely full bodied and showcases some nice balance as well. When I entered the second half the cigar continued to show the full bodied flavors it had in the first half and was still paired with the wonderful balance as well. The leather flavors were present up front with hints of nuts and the cigar finished with spices of cinnamon and coffee. In the second half I had to relight the cigar once but it still was burning evenly and had a nice firm ash.

This was a very enjoyable cigar and a very unique size. If you are looking for very full bodied cigars with rich complex flavors than this is your smoke. I find that this cigar is perfect for the winter time when it is cold outside or if I don't have a lot of time to smoke. I would give this cigar a 92 and really find it worth anyone's while. This cigar has tons of flavor and strength packed into such a small cigar. The only problem with this cigar is that it is not available at a lot of retailers.
Room 101 LTD Conjura Edition
Available at W. Curtis Draper 

May 27, 2011

Cigar Review: Illusione ~4/2g~

Illusione ~4/2g~
I don't think the Illusione brand or the double corona size needs an introduction for me, but I continue to grab Illusione smokes and double coronas because they are great. The double corona size is just amazing, and since it is summer time the size calls out to me. As for the Illusione brand, nothing much to say except that they are great smokes. Now on to the cigar. The 4/2g is a great double corona and how he got the name is pretty sweet. The 4 in the title represents the year in which Dion Giolito opened up his cigar shop, 2004. The 2g refers to his experience he has had with Cuban Ramon Allones Gigantes. The cigar remains very mild/medium in body up until the final third and then it gets really full bodied. The cigar measures 7 1/2" with a 49 ring gauge and has a beautiful triple cap and a wonderful dark chocolate wrapper. There are two versions of the 4/2g, one is the Slam and one is not. The Slam is a bench-pressed cigar while the other is your standard round version.

The first third of the cigar begins very mild-medium in body with wonderful flavors of wood, cream, cocoa and cedar. The cigar is really smooth and easy and burning incredibly well. The burn on the cigar is perfect and producing wonderful amounts of smoke. As I enter the second third the cigar is still fairly smooth and I began to pick up notes of coconut cream pie, chocolate and some wood. Entering the final third of the cigar it really begins to pick up with a hint of dark spices, dark chocolate and seasoned wood. I would say that the cigar was medium all the way through the first six inches and then it was full in body. The cigar was still burning beautifully and had a gorgeous ash.

I would give this cigar a 91 and really look forward to enjoying these throughout the summer. This double corona sells for a great price and really has great flavors. It is not overly powerful but I don't feel that having a lot of power is very important. This is a cigar that can be enjoyed by all cigar smokers and with a long smoke such as a double corona you don't want to be overwhelmed and killed early on. What will make you want toi smoke the final third or two thirds? Try these out, you will love them.
Available at retailers I recommend, I picked up my smokes from Havana Phil's.

May 26, 2011

Gurkha Black Dragon - Imperial Presidente

Black Dragon Imperial Presidente
Most cigar smokers know of the Black Dragon line by Gurkha but the history behind it is still fairly unknown. In 2006 Gurkha launched an extremely limited cigar that was also extremely expensive. Black Dragon was once limited to only 500 cigars. The cigars came in five chests of 100 cigars each and the chests were made of hand-carved camel bone and solid brass. The chests were acquired from an Indian Palace when the magistrate was holding an auction and Gurkha found five matching chests. The cigar was a 7 1/2"  by 52 ring gauge double corona  and was composed of tobacco from  the state of Connecticut and the countries of Cameroon and the Dominican Republic. The tobacco in these cigars had been aged for over a decade and each chest sold for $115,000. I am not aware of who purchased the chests but it is safe to say that they have no issues with cash flow. I have attached an image of the original Gurkha Black Dragon Chest.
Gurkha Black Dragon Chest (2006 Limited Edition)
A year after its release Gurkha decided that it would only be fair if they released a similar blend in a much more affordable price range. The composition of the cigar is same with Dominican fillers, a Cameroon binder and a Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper. The tobaccos in this blend are aged as well for several years but not as extensive as its predecessor. The cigar comes in four sizes, three of them rather large, and one is covered in a gloss tube. I smoked the second largest of the four, the Imperial Presidente, which measures 7" with a 56 ring gauge. The cigar has a nice dark wrapper and has wonderful aromas of sweet tobacco, wood, cherries, leather and a hint of mint.
Black Dragon Band (Original)
As I light the cigar it begins with a lot of cream, earth and leather notes. It is very sweet and mild with hints of coffee and cocoa. The ash is very nice on the smoke and it is burning well so far but nothing to dramatic. With the second third of the cigar chocolate notes become more prominent and I begin to pick up some coconut shavings with still lots of cream. This cigar is big and it is not even the biggest size in the line up so it is definitely a time chewer. Entering the final third I begin to pick up some barnyard notes that pair with the chocolate and cream interestingly. I am having some burn problems and it doesn't seem to matter what I do there are just constant issues. It finishes with this minty taste along the cocoa and is very cool. Overall it was pretty similar throughout and didn't really get any technical issues till the final third.   
Band on the Stick
If you were to ask me if I liked this cigar I wouldn't say yes or no. I believe that there are some who love this smoke but I know there are people who can't stand it. I remember the pre-release of this smoke and the campaign to get it out there. It was huge, I mean it was everywhere and the build up was far bigger than the delivery. I think it could have the potential to be really nice if there was a change in the filler blend but the way it is blended I am not a huge fan. I do like the short robusto version a little more but nothing to dramatic. There is a point in this cigar where it becomes a little to boring. I am going to give this cigar an 87 and probably smoke them on mornings where I have tons of time or give it to guests and friends who like really mild and big cigars. Try one on for size though, you might like it.  I would be interested in trying one of original 2006 Limited Edition smokes to see how they are though, my guess is that they aren't worth the money. - Gurkha Black Dragon

May 25, 2011

Trinidad Reyes (Cuban)

Trinidad Reyes
Sometimes good things come in small packages, not always, but with the Trinidad Reyes it is the case. The Trinidad line is a great line that has managed to fly under the radar for sometime. Like mentioned in my early blog on the Trinidad Robuto "T", the Trinidad line was once a private line similar to the Cohiba. When the line was initially released for the public it consisted of one size but the Reyes vitola was released in 2003 with the next three sizes. The cigar is a beautiful petit corona that measures 4 3/8" with a 40 ring gauge. Like the other Trinidad vitolas it comes with a pigtail cap and amazing flavors. Not only is the Reyes the most affordable Trinidad vitola, but in my opinion can go head to head with any other Trinidad vitolas or petit coronas on the market. The cigar is packed with amazing flavors while remaining very smooth and really showcases the excellence of its blenders. In my research on the line I found it interesting that some say the line was initially released to be popular amongst American smokers who access Cuban cigar illegally. I forgot to mention this earlier but the cigar gets its name from the city of Trinidad in Cuba that is on the southern coast. The city is actually been a UNESCO Heritage site since 1988. The cigar has wonderful aromas showcasing hints of teak, cream, spice, grass and sweet tobacco.

Because the cigar is a small petit corona I will be going by halves. I could go by thirds but I think the middle third would just be a blend of the first and third. The cigar begins with wonderful flavors of herbs, coffee, leather, cedar, spice and grass and has a wonderful smooth mild body to it. The cigar is smooth but still captures a nice spice to it. The burn is perfect for a cigar of this size and it is incredibly complex. As I enter the second half of the cigar notes of hay become prominent and there is a diminish in spice. There are hints of nuts, coffee, lots of grass and a hint of stone fruit. The cigar burned very well and was not hot at all down to the nub.

This was a beautiful petit corona and I would have to give this cigar a 92 rating. This is going to be my new smoke for when I don't have more then an hour to smoke. There are tons of great Cuban petit coronas but this one really intrigued me more than others. A lot of the time with petit coronas it takes a good amount of age before they really get great but I think these are truly worth it.  This cigar really captures lots of flavors in such a compact size. It has a nice body to it and would be enjoyed by all. Imagine a Smart Car with a V8...actually don't. Really a great cigar for your money and a great cigar to have in your humidor.
Infamous Trinidad Pigtail cap

May 24, 2011

Cigar Review: Illusione Epernay Le Monde

Epernay Le Monde
When my local cigar shop, Havana Phil's, got in the Epernay line I headed over as soon as I could. Phil had the newest size in the line, Le Monde, which is a corona gorda that measures 6 1/4" with a 52 ring gauge. The cigar which is not even on their website is much thicker than the rest of the line and I imagine will be more popular as well. Whether he named it Le Monde after the French newspaper or he was just thinking about the world, it is a very enjoyable cigar. For anyone who does not know French, le monde is french for "the world." The cigar like the rest of the line is a Nicaraguan puro and uses no ligero in the composition. The wrapper is very oily and has a light marbled brown wrapper that is fairly similar to the rest of the line. The aroma is very pleasant with a nice hint of Asian spices with coffee and wood.

The cigar begins beautifully with that nice spice from the aroma and has hints of coffee, cocoa and honeycomb as well. So far the cigar is burning fairly even but has some waves here and there. Smoking this compared with the other in the line the cigar is much more fuller in body and somewhat richer. I would say the cigar is still medium in body but still relaxing and light. As I get into the second third the cigar really gets milder but still fuller than the other vitolas. The second third still has nice coffee notes present but it also has some cream in there that pairs well with some chocolate and honey as well. There is a minor hint of lemon zest or orange peel but it is very faint. In the final third now this cigar is really going great. It has picked up a little more in body and almost similar to the first third but still incredibly flavorful. Coffee is a big flavor in this cigar and it is still remaining in the final third but this orange flavor is really becoming stronger and pairs well with this chocolate note. It reminds me of those chocolate orange balls that I got around Christmas time as a kid. Looking back on the cigar I realize that I was probably picking up some hickory notes as well throughout but it was very unique and complex.

This was a real treat of a cigar and very complex. The cigar is definitely a notch above the other vitolas in the line but still very soft. With the intention of having these being paired with Champagne I can see the pairing and would enjoy it very much. I am going to give this cigar a 93 and think it is definitely worth having in your humidor but compared with the vitola, Le Matin,  it is not as good. The Epernay line is incredible and I think one of his best and one of the best on the market. I will say though that this cigar is definitely fuller than the others. Most of the time vitolas in the same line are very similar in flavor profile and strength, but the times where I see variations are in Cuban lines. There are definitely some Partagas, Montecristo and H. Upmann vitolas that are very different than the others. Once example is the Montecristo Petit Edmundo which is completely different then the Edmundo or No. 2. This is a great cigar and definitely a cigar that if you are more into fuller bodied cigars will love. If you usually would pass over the Epernay line because of its mild bodied, than try this on for size.
Available at Havana Phil's

H. Upmann Sir Winston (Cuban)

H. Upmann Sir Winston
I've talked about the history of the H. Upmann brand and its excellence and how it is one of my favorites and it is now time I review one of their most infamous vitolas and also one of the most notable cigars in the Habanos portfolio. Named after Winston Churchill himself the cigar is incredible. The churchill vitola gets its name from Sir Winston Churchill and I believe it is only right and honorable that they name a cigar after him as well. As everyone knows, Sir Winston Churchill was an avid cigar smoker and lover of the churchill size. Though the H. Upmann was not his favorite brand, he preferred Romeo Y Julieta and La Aroma De Cuba (no longer Cuban but made in Nicargua) I believe he would really enjoy this vitola. The cigar is your standard churchill measuring 7" with a 47 ring gauge. The wrapper is chocolate brown in color and has a wonderful aromas of coffee, cocoa and sweet tobacco.

The cigar opens up very smoothly with no spice present and has a rich earthy quality to it. There is a hint of vanilla on the finish and as it gets further in there is an emergence of bitter-sweet chocolate and coffee. The cigar is still as smooth as it began and very flavorful. Entering the second third of the cigar I begin to pick up strong notes of dark chocolate and roasted coffee beans with a sweet nutty finish as well. The creaminess returns halfway through this third and the cigar still remains very rich. I am in the final third now and it is probably the fullest part of the cigar. There are notes of white pepper, coffee and dark chocolate and it has a long nutty finish. The cigar is still very smooth but incredibly rich and showcases true balance in a cigar. The cigar burned evenly throughout and at no point ever got hot.

This was an incredible cigar and with all of its flavors was very balanced as well. I would give this cigar a 96 and definitely think it will be in the Top 25 of 2011. I have a couple of these left in my humidor and the thoughts I have are of saving them or smoking them all right now. I am not one who thinks Cuban cigars are better than non-Cuban but I believe that Habanos S.A. really captures the notion of flavor and balance in cigars over strength. I know that a lot of smokers want really strong and big cigars but I don't share those views. Truly a great churchill and one of the best on the market.
H. Upmann

May 23, 2011

Ramon Allones Gigantes & Punch Double Corona

So if you haven't noticed yet I have been a Cuban spree and so it continues. This weekend was a beautiful weekend which allowed for a wonderful amount of time outside enjoying nice wines and great cigars. When one thinks of Cuban cigars there are names that are frequently brought up but what comes to mind for me is a certain vitola. This vitola offers wonderful balance with complex flavors and a great amount of smoking time.... the Double Corona. Double Corona's are not as popular in the United States and instead of having a cigar like this we go for Churchill's and Gordo's. The Double Corona measures 7 5/8" with a 49 ring gauge and because of the amount of time needed to smoke it, around two and half hours, the flavors and strength of the cigar grow every inch in. The Partagas Lusitnia and the Hoyo de Monterrey are probably the two most well known of the six lines that carry the size but I tend to reach for the two that are in the middle of the road. I have had all six Double Coronas offered by Habanos S.A. and these two always seem to be top notch. I am talking about the Punch Double Corona and the Ramon Allones Gigantes. It was skimming over my latest Cigar Aficionado and seeing the two ratings by these cigar that I decided to review them. These cigars always do well by Cigar Aficionado, actually all the Cuban Double Coronas do, but they never seem to make their final cut. There is a massive amount of speculation/comments/conspiracies by cigar fanatics but I don't fall into that category. I should clarify that last statement by saying that I am a cigar fanatic but I don't fall down the rabbit hole  with all the other Alice's out there by chasing the clothed White Rabbit. The size is probably one of my favorite sizes and is one size that I don't some often because of the size. Both the Ramon Allones and Punch line are one of the oldest in the Habanos portfolio but unlike the Punch line the Ramon Allones portfolio has been cut back dramatically because of lack in demand, fortunately for me they kept three great sizes which are among my favorite.
Ramon Allones Gigantes
The Ramon Allones has a beautiful milk chocolate colored wrapper and is fairly silky to touch with very little oils. The aroma is very pleasant with lots of notes present. Their is a good amount of sweet spices that is accompanied by cocoa and nutty flavors. As I light up the cigar it starts off strong like most Ramon Allones cigars do but the flavors balance it very well. There is a plethora of flavors from the get go showing signs of Brazilian nuts, earth and black pepper. The cigar being so large really blends slowly together so that there is not a clear transition between the first third and the second. When I am around the second third range of the cigar I begin to pick up lots of more coffee and cocoa notes with hints of almonds and fruit bread qualities. The cigar by this point has definitely begun to be full in body and I can feel it in my stomach. Entering the final third the flavors of mocha hit you strong with orange zest and slight notes of dark cherries on the finish. The flavors are incredibly exceptional and the burn was lovely the whole way. I had to relight the cigar a couple times throughout but with a cigar this large I am glad it wasn't burning too fast and hot. A very lovely smoke with a nice cool smoke down to the nub.
Ramon Allones Gigantes
Very different but equally enjoyable is the Punch Double Corona. The cigar is packed with wonderful flavors and like the Ramon Allones great body. The wrapper is not as dark as the Ramon Allones but has a brownish red clay color to it. The aroma is of strong tobacco with notes of coffee and dark fruit. As I light the cigar, flavors of dark cherries emerge right away with notes of coffee and cocoa. The cigars flavor really open the further in the cigar I get and the tobacco flavor is very present. With the second third the flavors of cherries are really strong but there are still nice notes of roasted coffee and spices. The cigar is probably as full bodied as the Ramon Allones but the flavors are not as dark but more lively. With the final third the flavors really become complex showing lots of vanilla, nuts, oak and of course cherries and coffee.  The cigar burned very evenly and like the Ramon Allones I had to relight it a couple times. The smoke was smooth and cool all the way to the nub. Beautiful smoke.
Punch Double Corona
Finishing up these cigars I am glad that I still have a couple left in my humidor. Both of these cigar were equal in quality and body but different in flavor. I would have to give these Double Corona's both 94 ratings and believe them to be the best in vitola in their lines. Both smokes burned evenly and except for some relighting issues on both they were incredible smokes. If you have the opportunity to try Cuban cigars reach for the Double Corona size and set aside a couple hours for a great smoking experience. If I ever owned a Cuban cigar shop I would make a Double Corona sampler and have it available at all times. Hope at least one of you has the chance to try out one of these great smokes.

May 22, 2011

Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2 (Cuban)

Hoyo de Monterrey
When you think of Cuban Robustos the Epicure No. 2 is definitely not at the top of the heap but I believe should be in the Top 5 at least. With more and more people looking for fuller bodied cigars the Epicure No. 2 does not fall into that category but lets think about a more important factor, flavor. Very mild in body the Epicure No. 2 delivers a great amount of flavor while remaining a very easy smoke for all. The cigar definitely takes the back seat to the infamous Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona, but who has time to smoke a double corona on a daily basis? I have enjoyed the Epicure No. 2 on several occasions and find it to be one of the few Cuban robustos to never disappoint, I prefer something with more strength often but consistently this cigar always delivers. Cohiba, Partagas and Bolivar can all be great but when they are off they are off! The cigar is your standard robusto measuring 4 7/8" with a 50 ring gauge and consists of tobacco from the finest growing regions in Cuba. The brand is one of the oldest in Cuba and among the most popular worldwide.

The Epicure No. 2 is a very unique cigar and has one of the most beautiful wrappers of all Cubans in my opinion. The wrapper has a wonderful reddish hue to it and  is practically seamless. If you compare Cuban wrappers they are all fairly similar in color depending on whether the wrapper is dark or softer in color but the Epicure No. 2 always has a beautiful reddish brown wrapper that is similar in color to cinnamon. The bands on top of the cigar are elegant and beautiful and shows the regal qualities to the cigar. The aroma is of cinnamon, cocoa and grass leaving a sweet spicy taste to it. The first third of the cigar begins very soft showing lots of creamy notes with hints of cedar and cinnamon but nothing to overpowering. The strongest part of the cigar, and yet still mild, is the second third the cigar which shows more spices to it. There are signs of coffee present along with allspice notes and an herbal taste to it. The draw at this point has been perfect and has given off a wonderful amount of smoke. The final third becomes softer showing lots of herbal notes of jasmine and rosemary with a finish of rose petals. There is a slight hint of coffee on the finish but overall very floral and herbal. The cigar remains cool all the way to the nub and I gently place it down on the ashtray to show it the respect it deserves.

As I finish this smoke before dinner I can't be in a better place. The cigar goes great with any beverage but a chilled white is my preference. Sitting under our pergola enjoying the beautiful late spring evening makes this cigar even better than smoking it elsewhere. I would give this cigar a 96 and think of it as a great anytime smoke. I would not buy a box of these, and I will explain that later, but it is definitely a cigar to have at least a handful of in your humidor. When buying boxes I tend to look for a cigar that is more in my range of smoke, such as a Ramon Allones, Bolivar or Partagas, and this is not there even though amazing. It sounds silly but as much as I love Pinot Noirs I will buy more bottles of a Shiraz, Malbec and Zinfandel.  If you are a mild cigar fan then this is the best choice. I am skimming over mild cigars on the market, Cuban and non, and believe this to be at the top of the list.
Epicure No. 2

May 20, 2011

Cigar Review: Trinidad Robusto T (Cuban)

Trinidad Robusto "T"

Have you ever experienced something before that was just okay but not spectacular, and then sometime later on find it to be incredible? I am sure you have, we have all seen Jerry Maguire and experienced a rosé…well forget the rosé. Just recently I found myself lighting up a Trinidad Robusto “T” and after cutting I wondered why I was bothering. You see, I have never had one of these cigar really blow my mind but when I finished this smoke I felt like a Crusader that had been part of the sieges of Antioch. On the First Crusade the Crusaders took Antioch but directly after taking the city they had to defend it from another Seljuk Turk Army that was coming as an initial reinforcement. The Crusaders were stuck in the city for several weeks starving and then after a revelation they supposedly discovered the Holy Lance and charged out on the army and defeated the second Seljuk Turk Army. Well maybe that analogy is a little dramatic but I hope you get my point.

The Trinidad brand was released in 1969 with the Cohiba brand as a cigar made exclusively for diplomats and handed out only by Fidel Castro. There is some debate to my previous statement but I have yet to be proven wrong. Eventually in 1998 the line was launched for public consumption and consisted of only one size, the Fundadores, which was a lancero. As years went on the line expended and in 2009 the Robusto "T"  was launched. The cigar is your typical Cuban robusto measuring 4 7/8” with a 50 ring gauge and comes in a nice light milk chocolate colored wrapper. The Trinidad line comes with a pigtail cap and has a wonderful aroma of cream, woods and nuts. The aroma is fairly sweet and the pre-draw is perfect.

The cigar begins with very easy flavors showing hints of lemongrass, hay, wood and a sweet spicy cream note. The cigar had a somewhat uneven burn but with the wonderful flavor it did not matter. As I enter the second third the cigar shows more bread notes and is accompanied by the wood and creaminess from the first third. The cigar is probably medium in body at best but has a wonderful flavor to it. I know most people prefer cigars with more body over this but it is a great cigar that shows wonderful flavors with not being overpowering. Entering the final third the cigar becomes more complex than ever and shows lots of cinnamon and nutmeg notes that are accompanied by hints of wheat and cream. The cigar was burning well towards the middle part of the cigar and at no point got hot.

I find it very enjoyable that I have found a cigar that has thrown me a curveball because I nearly gave up on it sometime back. I would give this cigar a 93 and would probably have to have another to fully judge it properly. I have never had two cigars that are completely identical but when you get some that are bad and one that is great it is unfair to fully judge it because of a one time experience. I would definitely pick up some of these in the future and would probably start with a box of 12 but hopefully those 12 would prove my original theory wrong and want a larger box. Try and enjoy!       
Robusto "T'"


May 19, 2011

Puros Indios Reserva Maxima 2003

Reserva Maxima 2003
Every once in a great while you will see a box of cigars that is selling for a low price. Sometimes these cigars are a treat and sometimes not but you never know until you try one. Once cigar that is wallet friendly and that I have enjoyed over and over again is the Puros Indios Reserva Maxima 2003. The Reserva Maxima was released to celebrate 70 years of Rolando Reyes Sr. being in the cigar industry and the cigar has had mixed reviews, but in 2008 the company did something special. They released the line in three sizes that had been aging for five years since they were rolled in 2003. This special edition cigar became known as the "Anejado 2003" and I have never heard many people go nuts over it. Since 2008 I have been enjoying this cigar and it has only gotten better every years it has been sitting. I have enjoyed the Presidente version along with the Robusto version and I am just now reviewing it. I decided to review the robusto size which measures 5" with a 50 ring gauge. The cigar is eight years old and is comprised of tobacco from multiple regions. The filler is a complex blend of tobacco from Brazil, Nicargua and the Dominican Republic with a Dominican binder. Above all that is a beautiful silky Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper. The wrapper is not very golden but a very light brown that reminds me of my Cuban Cohiba's and Partagas Serie D's.

The aroma of this cigar is heavenly and makes me think of being in the countryside on warm summer day. I pick up lots of grass and hay on the forefront and it closes with hints of cocoa and earth. The cigar shows notes of pepper, cedar and coffee in the beginning and as the cigar progresses more notes of nuts and leather begin to emerge. The cigar remains fairly consistent from that point on with occasional hints of herbs but nothing to dominant.

I would give this cigar an 88 and definitely could smoke through a box of these fairly quickly. This is a great everyday smoke that will keep you entertained. I wouldn't say this cigar is overly complex but  it definitely has a great amount of flavors for being an everyday smoke. This is a great smoke to get your day going and warm up the palate. I don't smoke Puros Indios smokes a lot, in fact this is the only Puro Indios smoke I do but I know plenty of people who enjoy them often. Give this cigar a try and throw it into your rotation you don't be disappointed. 
Puros Indios

Puros Indios Reserva Maxima 2003 - Cigars International

May 17, 2011

El Centurion Emperadores - (Don Pepin Garcia)

El Centurion Emperadores
In 2007 Don Pepin Garcia announced the release of a one time limited edition smoke, El Centurion. It was a cigar that was made at Don Pepin's old factory in Nicaragua, Tabacalera Cubana, before My Father Cigars was even thought about. The cigar would come in three sizes and would be sold in boxes of 20. They limited production to only 850 boxes in each size and the cigar retailed in the double digits. The tobacco for this cigar was carefully selected and would be a Nicaraguan puro. The cigar is covered in a milk chocolate Nicaraguan Habano wrapper that is practically vein free. Underneath the wrapper is a Nicaraguan binder and fillers that are comprised of Corojo '99 and Criollo '98. The cigar is beautiful in hand and with four years of aging under its belt I know it will be a treat. The wrapper has wonderful aromas of dark spices, leather and a flavor reminiscent of s'mores.

The cigar cut beautifully and had a wonderful draw to it. Once lit the cigar hits you with a blast of paprika and wood, but gets softer the further into the first inch it gets. Don Pepin is noted for making his cigars start off with a bang and it makes me think of symphonies that begin with a fortissimo dynamic and quickly decrescendos into pianissimo. From there on the cigar shows its true colors and I pick up lots of roasted coffee, nuts, cocoa, cedar and white pepper. The cigar burns beautiful throughout and remains wonderfully balanced. The cigar is medium/medium-full in body but I remember it was stronger sometime back. The second third is very similar to the first but I picked up a lot more creaminess to it while remaining very complex. This is really a great cigar and it is a shame that it was a limited release. I have maybe a couple more sticks in one of my humidors and if I were smart I would have bought a box a long time ago. I'm in the final third now and the cigar is still going strong, it is has increased in strength since the middle and is now shoring lots more white pepper and cedar with a sweet finish of cafe mocha.

I am very fond of this cigar and give it a high rating of 96. The cigar has aged wonderfully and shows incredibly flavors and body. I would love for everyone to try this smoke but if you don't have them in your humidor good luck finding them. I know that some retailers hold on to certain cigars or they get them and people never notice them but I am not sure where. When I was in Raleigh, NC a year ago at a Tinder Box the shop proprietor had a dozen of them left and I picked up a handful and I am not sure why I didn't get the rest of the box. Overall this is another great cigar that was only with the industry for a short time.   
El Centurion

May 16, 2011

Cigar Review: E.P Carrillo Core Line Club 52

Club 52
This is really just a quick review, but I recently had the Club 52 size of the Core Line by E.P. Carrillo and found that this cigar was much better than its smaller version, the Encantos. The cigar is identical in composition to the other but it comes in a bigger format. The Club 52 has a ring gauge of 52 and measures 5 7/8". It is basically a shortened toro but still falls in the corona gorda category. The cigar displayed wonderful aromas of leather, hay and barnyard and is beautiful in hand.

I found that the flavors in this cigar were a lot more up front than the other and I was able to pick lots of coffee beans and caramel along with lots of wood and leather notes. It was definitely fuller in body and burned incredibly well. When I got towards the nub it was still burning cool so that was a definite perk over the other.

I would have to give this cigar a 92 and think that it is the leader of the pack in the Core Line so far. I love the cigars E. P. Carrillo is making and this is definitely a sign of good work. I am wondering looking at the ring gauge size that I am not a huge fan of the leaf he used for the wrapper so next time I am going to grab the Regalias Real which measures 5 5/8" with a 46 ring gauge, a true corona gorda. If you haven't tried this line yet you need to.

La Perla Habana Morado (Black Pearl) - Belicoso

La Perla Habana Morado

When I first saw the prices of La Perla Habana line on and Cigars International I was somewhat skeptical. I know that the Morado line received high points from Cigar Aficionado and was placed in their Top 25 in 2008 but was still not entirely convinced. Well this month I received one of their sticks in my monthly cigar club. The cigar was of course the Belicoso vitola in the Morado line and the same cigar that did well in 2008. The cigar has your typical torpedo measurement of 6.2” with a 52 ring gauge and has a wonderful dark toothy Cameroon wrapper. The filler in the cigar is entirely Nicaraguan with a Nicaraguan Habano binder. It is a firm cigar with no soft spots and has a sweet aroma with hints of spice and wood.

The cigar begins by showing lots of spicy characteristics to it but it is balanced with the sweetness from the Cameroon wrapper. Cameroon wrappers have a natural sweetness to them and have been very popular for years. I am typically not a huge Cameroon wrapper fan but I still find some cigars with that wrapper that are immaculate. As I get past the first inch and a half the cigar lightens in the spice department and notes of espresso and caramel begin to come forward and when paired with that natural sweetness it is heavenly. The second third begins to become somewhat stronger in body and the flavor profile changes again showing more leather and wood notes with a slight hint of spice. The final third of this cigar really wraps up the great experience bringing together all the flavors that have been present so far, it is very complex and the body is just perfect leaving you wanting another smoke. The cigar has a long finish that is somewhat dry and very pleasant. The cigar burned very well throughout the smoke and was nice all the way to the nub.

I really enjoyed this cigar and give it a 91. This is easily an everyday smoke for some and a good one at that. I won’t say that I will keep these in my humidor at all times but it is a really nice smoke. At no point does the cigar get dull and it is perfectly medium in body. If you are a Cameroon wrapper fan then this is a cigar for you. Balanced is a great word for this smoke and it packs tons of flavors in an enjoyable body. After the Modre line I am curious to see what the other lines are like.      
Black Pearl
Available at La Perla Habana Morado -   

May 15, 2011

Sterling - Vintner's Collection - Meritage 2008

Sterling's Vinter's Collection
Meritage you probably wonder what it means when seeing it on  a bottle but the answer is very easy. Bordeaux, a region in France, has control over the name on any wines made in the Bordeaux-style so the name Meritage emerged. Now to be a meritage wine, or a wine made in the Bordeaux-style, the wine must must be made from a blend of at least two or more of the following varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec or Carmenère, with no varietal comprising more than 90% of the blend. Sterling Vineyards collected grapes from across Central Coast, California in 2008 to make this wine. The wine is 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Malbec. Sterling Vineyards makes wines in Calistoga, California in Napa and is a fairly large winery.

The wine has a wonderful color of Tyrian Purple to it and has aromas of raspberries and dark chocolate. The wine is very round and has a finish that lingers on your palate. Notes of vanilla, chocolate, blackberries and raspberries are present  in the taste. It is medium in tannins and is definitely medium in body.  The finish does have a minor bite to it but it is more flavorful than unpleasant. This would be a great wine with any grilled meats and summer or fall vegetables.

I would have to give this wine a 90 and consider it to be a wine year round. There are some wines that just don't pair well with some seasons but this wine would do wonderfully anytime. I am a big fan of Meritage's/Bordeaux's so I look forward to trying it again and am eager to see future vintages. Every grape in this wine shows its characteristics which is a perk in my book because sometimes wines are not made in a way so that you can pick out the grapes. 
Sterling Meritage 2008


Cigar Review: La Vérité Vintage 2008- Churchill (Tatuaje)

La Vérité Vintage 2008
The concept of a single vintage cigar is incredibly interesting and the idea of tobacco from only one farm is as well. The cigar came about in late 2007 when Pete Johnson saw Don Pepin's first wholly owned farm in Esteli, Nicaragua, La Estrella. After the tobacco was harvested and in fermentation Pete and Don Pepin realized that the tobacco was great and the notion of a single vintage cigar emerged. The tobacco is 100% Habano Nicaraguan and released to the market in 2010.  Available in two sizes, a robusto and churchill, I grabbed the churchill and the cigar measured 7" with a 47 ring gauge.

The cigar has a beautiful milk chocolate colored wrapper to it and has wonderful aromas of spice, wood, leather and coffee. The first third of the cigar begins with lots of leather notes with a strong woody presence and has a very spicy finish. As I enter the second third of the cigar it is a lot more spice present throughout the draws and has definite notes of cocoa and leather as well. Entering the final third the cigar begins to show more in depth spice flavors and I begin to pick up lots of Chinese All Spice notes that are atop a leathery finish.

The cigar was really enjoyable and though it was not overly complex it was really a treasure. The cigar showed wonderful flavors and has a nice medium body throughout. The cigar burned incredibly even and had a beautiful ash to it as well. I would give this cigar a 92 and thought it very enjoyable. I would be interested to see how it would age, like wine, but as of right now you can say this cigar is a "smoke now."
Vintage 2008
La Verite Vintage 2008 -

May 13, 2011

Cigar Review: Padron 1964 Anniversary Series Diplomatico (Maduro)

Padron 1964 Anniversary Series Diplomatico (Maduro)

I’ve decided to follow up with my Padron 1964 Anniversary Series Imperial review and grabbed the Diplomatico (Maduro). The Diplomatico is the Churchill vitola in the line and measures 7” with a 50 ring gauge. The cigar is identical to the Imperial in the fact that it has a maduro wrapper and is a Nicaraguan puro. The wrapper is incredibly dark with no veins present and has wonderful aromas of coffee, nuts and chocolate. Looking at the wrapper I see it is very similar to their Family Reserve No. 45 and makes me want to grab one of those next. I will probably be reviewing most of the Padron Anniversary line since I have decided to open the gift pack I had.  

The cigar begins with a nutty characteristic and begins to show more cocoa and coffee notes as it gets into the first third. The cigar is fuller in body than others I have had and is showing lots of toasty notes on the finish and more and more as the cigar goes on. Once I enter the second third the cigar is really showing great flavors with a lot of cocoa, nuts, coffee and macaroon flavors with that dry toasty finish. The cigar has been burning evenly so far and still full in body. Once I enter the final third the cigar becomes very toasty and leathery with a soft finish of coffee and cocoa. The smoke becomes a little harsh and hot towards the end so I put it down but there are still some nice flavors present and it is burning beautifully.

I love the line and most of the vitolas but the Diplomatico is not one of my favorites. The cigar shows nice flavors in the middle and first third but the last part was not as exceptional. I give this cigar a 90 and I believe that it is possible that I had a stick that was not as good as others but even still it showed great qualities earlier on in the smoke. If you haven’t smoked the line I would grab the Exclusivo or Imperial but every cigar is made very well. Whether you prefer maduro or natural both will present you with lots of flavors and great strength.  I have never had a burn problem with the line or any Padron but from time to time the flavors are lacking or get a little harsh towards the end.  
Available at all retailers I recommend. 

May 11, 2011

Cigar Review: Tatuaje Havana VI - Hermosos

Tatuaje Havana VI
After the successful release of the Tatuaje brand Pete Johnson went ahead with the release of the new Havana VI line in 2007. Both lines are Nicaraguan puro smokes but the Havana VI line is made in Nicaragua at the My Father Cigar Factory while the original is made in Miami at Pepin's El Rey De Los Habanos Factory. The Havana VI is not as full bodied and spicy as the original line but still quite flavorful. I have always enjoyed the line and thought it a great counterpart to the original Tatuaje line. My favorite in the line is the Hermosos which is a true corona gorda measuring 5.6" with a 46 ring gauge.

The cigar is beautiful to look at with a wonderful reddish hue wrapper that has wonderful aromas of leather, spice and wood, and a nice triple cap. The cigar begins with a blast of spice and pepper which has a finish of wood and coffee. The flavor remains throughout the first third until the beginning of the second third when there is an emergence of dark cherries that play off the spice and leather wonderfully. Entering the final third the dark cherry flavors begin to taper off and the cigar becomes much more leathery than before with a nice spicy finish, a wonderful smoke.

The corona gorda is a great size and it is a wonderful vitola for this line. I give this cigar a 91 and I am glad that I have them in my humidor. This cigar showed great flavor and nice body and the burn on it was impeccable. I know most people prefer larger sizes and if that was the case I would grab the robusto or torpedo format but another great vitola in the line that I care for is the petit corona, Angeles. If you love Tatuaje smokes and the flavor profile in them then you should grab this more affordable line.    
Havana VI Hermosos
Available at all retailers I recommend.

PDR 1878 - Cubano Especial & Reserva Dominicana - Double Robustos

PDR 1878 Reserva Dominicana Capa Oscura 
Any cigar that gets its name from the Pinar del Rio region of Cuba better be able to hold up to the name and I believe these cigars do. The PDR 1878 lines are two of the newest releases from the company and what a treat they are. Made in the Dominican Republic these cigars are beautifully made and utilize great tobacco.  I decided to smoke the double robusto format in the two lines and they measure 5 ½” with a 54 ring gauge. Each cigar has a wonderful pigtail cap and the Reserva Dominicana has a large shaggy foot. I don’t know if the pigtail and shaggy foot are making a comeback or not but I love having them on a cigar. 
PDR 1878 Cubano Especial Capa Madura
The Cubano Especial Capa Madura line, black bands, utilizes an Arapiraca Maduro wrapper from Brazil that was harvested in 2007, a Criollo ’98 binder from the Dominican and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The cigar has a beautiful dark wrapper that has wonderful aromas of spice, coffee and barnyard. 
PDR 1878 Cubano Especial
The Reserva Dominicana Capa Oscura is a Dominican puro that utilizes a Habano Oscuro wrapper with a Habano binder and Dominican fillers that are composed of Corojo, Habano and Criollo ’98. The wrapper is dark and marbled brown in color and has an enticing aroma of chocolate mint, leather and spices. 
PDR Reserva Dominicana
Right when the foot is lit on the Cubano Especial you are greeted with tons of coffee, black pepper and wood that I often get with a maduro wrapper from Arapiraca. The finish is very nice and lingers on your palate long after the puff. Further into the cigar notes of leather and cocoa become present and they play off the coffee and pepper well. This is much different than the Dominicana line with darker flavors and more body as well. The cigar stays constant with its flavors and as I draw on the closing mark and the flavor remains for some time on my palate.  
Shaggy Foot on Reserva Dominicana
As I light up the Reserva Dominicana I begin to pick up the aromas of the wrapper from the shaggy foot and it is of cocoa and mint. The initial puffs of the cigar are of spices, leather and that distinct chocolate mint I had from the aroma. The flavor profile continues like such until the end of the first third and the cigar is definitely medium-full in body. As I enter the second third the chocolate mint has dissipated and it predominantly wood, spicy and leathery. The cigar is burning true and the body is still going strong. Entering the final third I begin to pick up lots of café mocha notes that have a hint of spice and wood as well. The cigar burns beautifully and has an amazing flavor profile.

Finishing the Cubano Especial I found that the cigar was very enjoyable but I prefer the Reserva Dominicana more. This cigar definitely had a good amount of body to it and the flavors were nice with it as well. I would give this cigar an 89 and though I don’t prefer it over the other it is still equal in stature. This is a cigar that fans of maduro and full bodied cigars will love. 

It is no surprise to me that the Reserva Dominicana line is selling so fast at Havana Phil’s. The cigar has a great flavor and body profile to them and they are very wallet friendly. This is a great cigar to get a box of and have around. This is a cigar that I could smoke back to back and never be disappointed and be please. I give this cigar a 91 and look forward to picking up a few more and trying a different size also. 

Available at Havana Phil's

May 10, 2011

San Cristobal Seleccion Del Sol

San Cristobal Seleccion Del Sol
There was bound to be a follow up line to the successful release of San Cristobal and in 2009 it happened. Unlike the San Cristobal line the Seleccion Del Sol features a special sun-grown wrapper grown on the Garcia family's "Estrella" farm in Esteli, Nicaragua.  Estrella is located in a area where the soil is thick and dark and there is tons of sunlight. The cigar is 100% Nicaraguan and comes in three sizes. I picked up the robusto vitola in the line and measures 5" with a 52 ring gauge. The wrapper is light brown in color being very oily and silky to touch, with an aroma of leather, wood and pepper.

The cigar begins by showing lots of cinnamon, wood, spicy and coffee notes, and has a very dry finish. The cigar is medium-full in body and very complex. Throughout first third the flavors came and went and occasionally there were bitter moments and a rough dry finish. As the cigar continues into the second third I begin to pick up more coffee notes touched with cinnamon covered almonds. Similar to the first third there was an occasional emergence of bitter and rough dry patches that at this point were becoming unpleasant. The final third of the cigar was very similar to the first third in flavor and at this point the bitterness and rough dry patches were gone.

I was disappointed with this cigar and the stories I heard before about it were finally true. I would give this cigar an 86 and was not happy with it. I thought that the flavors from time to time were nice but at the same time wasn't worth the negative aspects it had. Overall, pick up a different Ashton Cigar, even the San Cristobal, or any other Don Pepin made smoke.
San Cristobal

Available at all retailers I recommend.

Arturo Fuente King "T" Tubo

King "T" Tubo
In 2009 Arturo Fuente released its first tubo cigar, most tubos don't play a factor in the cigar but in this case it was a release of new vitola in the line. The cigar is the same blend as the Chateau Fuente line and is covered in a Connecticut Shade wrapper with all Dominican fillers and binder. The tobacco is all aged and selected tobacco from their farms. The cigar is churchill in format and measures 7" with a 49 ring gauge. The tube is quite ornate and hides the beautiful Connecticut Shade wrapper underneath draped in cedar. The cigar has a creamy and woody aroma to it and the wrapper is very silky and gold in color.
King "T" cap
The flavor profile of the cigar shows lots of wood, predominantly cedar, cream and spice notes. As I get further into the cigar there is an emergence of coffee notes that plays along with cedar and cream but it finished with a slight bitter finish. As the cigar continues the flavors stay very similar with slight bitter notes on the finish occasionally. Burning very evenly and not ever getting hot the cigar remained constant to the end.
King "T"
I would have to give this cigar an 85 and believe it to be not very complex. The cigar was pleasant but thought that it lacked complexity and strength that I look for in a cigar. This would be a great cigar for beginners and would also be a great gift, because of the tubo presentation, to newcoming smokers as well.

Available at all retailers I recommend.

Ashton Estate Sun Grown (ESG) - 21 Year Salute

If you haven't seen my previous blog on the Ashton ESG 20 Year Salute I attached the link here. The 21 Year Salute has the same composition as the 20 Year except the vitola is different. The 21 Year Salute comes in the robusto format and measures 5 1/4" with a 52 ring gauge. The cigar is as gorgeous as the 20 Year and still has that wonderful chocolate brown color to the wrapper while being oily to touch. There are no veins present in the cigar and it is somewhat toothy with aromas of leather, wood, cocoa and spice.
ESG Band
With the 21 Year Salute the flavor profile changes from the 20 Year. The robusto format adds for a thicker ring gauge and more filler tobacco than the churchill making it a little more dominant over the wrapper. I found that the 21 was much more rich and darker than its predecessor but lacked some finesse flavors such as stone fruit and nuts. I picked up lots of leather, coffee, cocoa and spices in this cigar, and they were much more potent than before. It was still a beautiful cigar but I believed that this cigar was definitely more fuller in body. The cigar still burned beautifully and was never hot so construction wise it was as great as before.
21 Year Salute
Looking back on my comments it seems more negative than its predecessor but it is more complex than that. I think this cigar has less flavors present overall but shows them very well and I also believe it is a stronger cigar as well which I prefer. I would give this cigar a 92 and would enjoy it anytime. If I were to compare the two I would say the 20 Year is a great early evening smoke that is more medium in body with a magnitude of complex flavors, and the 21 Year Salute is a great post-dinner smoke that focuses much more on a few flavors and strength than being very complex. I look forward to trying the other vitolas in the line and will get back to you with those results.

I picked up the 21 Year Salute at Havana Phil's but it is available at retailers I recommend.
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