July 21, 2011

Alec Bradley Tempus - Quadrum

Alec Bradley
When it comes to cigars, there are those who love box-pressed cigars, and there are those who don't care for them. There is a middle field as well, but no one really cares about the people on the fence, and often are told to choose a side. I am on the fence when it comes to politics, but with cigars I am totally in love with box-pressed cigars. Why do you ask? Well there are several reasons, and none of them include the fact that you can put it down on a table and it won't roll. I have heard so many people say that they love box pressed cigars because they can put them down for a minute and they won't roll away. Here is the answer to that problem, get an ashtray with notches for you cigars! With a box-pressed cigar the wrapper is stretched in the pressing process, and this allows the flavors of the wrapper to magnify. Because of the pressing, the cigar can burn longer with an even burn, and it also provides much more consistent flavors throughout the smoke. I have found box-pressed cigars draw very well all the time and have never had a problem construction wise. The Alec Bradley Tempus Quadrum is not nationally available to all retailers, but it is available to the two of the most well known cigar retailers online and in store. The cigar is 5 1/2" with a 55 ring gauge and is perfect in construction. The cigar is made in the Raices Cubanas factory in Honduras and the production is limited to only the best 20% of the rollers as well. The cigar is composed of incredibly unique and flavorful tobacco from throughout Central America and Southeast Asia. The filler in the cigar is composed of some of the best tobacco from Jalapa, Nicaragua and the Trojes region of Honduras, which is just north of the Nicaraguan border. The binder on the cigar is an Indonesian Embetunada and is draped in a Criollo 98 wrapper from the Trojes region of Honduras. 

The cigar is very firm in hand and has wonderful aromas to it. I love when cigars have aromas of leather, barnyard, earth and spice. To me, those are the best four aromas I can get from a cigar, and I know that a smoke is going to be flavorful when I pick those out. After lighting the cigar up, and getting a little into the first third, the flavors are really pleasant. I am picking up coffee beans, rich earth, sweet tobacco, spices and nuts. The flavors are incredibly strong and complex, and they pair well with this medium-full bodied cigar. The burn is absolutely perfect, and I am getting tons of smoke and blowing smoke ring after smoke ring. I am enjoying this cigar outside, and it is a pretty humid, so that might play a factor in the cigar, but it might not. 

The second third is very exotic giving off lots of eastern spices up front, but it finishes with hints of cocoa, almonds, walnuts and espresso beans. The flavors have definitely magnified in the second third of the cigar but the body is still medium-full. If I were being broad, I would say the flavors remained constant, but since I am paying a lot of attention to the flavors on my palate, I can really pick up flavors here and there. There are tons of spices, and I would almost say it has hints of allspice, cloves, cinnamon, chilies, cloves and pepper. When I get into the final third, I know that the cigar is coming to a close, and I really don't want it to. The flavors have been incredible and the strength just perfect for me. This is an ideal cigar for me, and is great anytime of the day. The flavors show a lot of rich earth and coffee beans up front, but it has a nice nutty spice finish that remains on your palate for sometime. The strength is still medium-full, as it has been the whole smoke, and is burning cool all the way down to the nub. 

I smoked the maduro counterpart to this cigar sometime back and thought very highly of it, you can refer to that post here, Quadrum Maduro, but the Habano version was just much better. I give this cigar a 95, and would buy a box of these in  a heartbeat. This cigar has everything I want in flavor and strength and remains incredibly complex throughout the whole smoke. The cigar doesn't go back in forth between thirds with strength or flavor and is constructed perfectly. If you were never sure about Alec Bradley Cigars of the Tempus line, this a cigar that will make you hop on the bandwagon. I love this cigar, and always have a 5 pack of these in my humidor. The question is, why don't I have a box? 
Tempus Quadrum

July 19, 2011

Cusano 18 Double Connecticut - Toro

Cusano 18 - Double Connecticut
A long time ago in a cigar shop far, far away... I enjoyed my first Cusano 18 Double Connecticut. It has been some time since that encounter and before I lit up this smoke I was a little but judgy. In fact, my firs statement was "Double Connecticut, twice the dullness," but I realize that a comment like that is premature and had to work myself into the "reviewing mode." I don't really remember my first experience with Cusano 18 so this will be a great cigar to come back to. As to be expected, the cigar has two Connecticut Shade wrappers on the cigar. One of the leaves is used as a wrapper, and ther other the binder. The filler is all Dominican, but uses three different types of tobacco. They use Dominican Oro filler tobacco that has been aged for 18 years, and they also use San Vicente Olor and Cuban Piloto. The toro vitola in the line is the size I smoked and it measures 6.5" with a 46 ring gauge. I am looking forward to smoking a Connecticut Shade wrapper that has a thin ring gauge, because I haven't seen many CT Shade wrappers with a thinner ring gauge. It will be nice to really pick out the flavors of the wrapper.

Like most Connecticut Shade wrappers, the wrapper is incredibly silky and has the beautifil goden brown color to it, there are practically no veins present in the wrapper, and it has a wonderful aroma of honey, graham cracker and wood. Upon lighting I am greeted with flavors of hay, wood, cream and spice. It starts off very pleasant for the first half inch. As I get further into the first third, the cigar is medium in body and is burning a little hot. I have tried to see if there is anything I can do to correct this issue but it appears to be the cigar. The cigar burn is perfect, but with it being so hot after each draw the smoking experience is not that enjoyable. When I get into the second third of the cigar the flavors increase some and I am picking up some graham cracker that I got in the aroma from the wrapper along with the hay, wood and cream. The finish is of caramel and spice, but the smoke is still giving some harshness and heat with every draw. It appears that no matter what I do, this cigar is going to burn hot which is really disappointing. I am in the final third now and the flavors have returned from the first third but nothing is wowing me. The cigar is still burning hot, is medium in body, and I see no point in smoking it down to the nub. It didn't seem to matter what I did with this cigar, it was always burning hot and towards the end I could not even pick up the flavors, it was just burning paper.

I was really disappointed with this cigar, I thought that it would be better tasting and constructed much better than this. After re-reading my introduction I find it entertaining that my orginal opinions were dead on. Now Cusano Cigars are being made by Davidoff, and I have never had this problem with any of the Davidoff smokes. I don't know, maybe Cusano Cigars is diminishing in populatiry, so they are not putting as much time and quality into production, but this cigar was not that great. I remember some time back when Cusano Cigars were somewhat popular and really in, but I guess that time has passed. I am not going to give it a rating, but I can tell you that it was not above an 85. I wouldn't spend money on this cigar and if you want a mild Connecticut Shade wrapper cigar I would go with a Perdomo Champagne, anything with the name Davidoff on it, 5 Vegas Gold, Pinar Del Rio Classico, Gran Habano Connecticut #1 and last but not least La Aurora Preferridos Tubos Sapphire.

Cusano 18

July 18, 2011

Padilla Series '68 - Golden Bear

Golden Bear
When I think of Ernesto Padilla and Padilla Cigars, the last thing that comes to mind is a 6” by 60 parejo. The reason for this, is that Ernesto Padilla has often stated that just because the cigar is big, doesn't mean that it has more flavor or strength. He is correct about that statement and I agree with him 100%, but with the Padilla Series '68 Golden Bear, he made a cigar packed with flavor and a nice strength in a heck of a size! The Golden Bear line was originally part of the Series '68 line by Ernesto Padilla, but slowly took its own path, and now is almost its own line I have heard. I kind of wish Padilla would changed the band on the cigar to something similar to the Bear logo on the box, but I am not a Creative Designer. As mentioned in the beginning, the cigar is massive, and is probably one of Ernesto Padilla’s largest smokes. The cigar is made in Honduras, along with most of his cigars, at the infamous Raices Cubanas factory. The cigar is covered with a Cuban-seed Corojo wrapper, and has fillers from Nicaragua’s Condega and Jalapa Valley’s.

The cigar is beautiful in hand with a very silky wrapper and it is finished with a great triple cap. Along with being a massive cigar, there are no soft spots in the cigar, and just looking at it, I know that it is packed full of fine tobacco. The aroma is of cocoa, coffee, spice and wood. Before I light this cigar up I will tell you that with a cigar of this caliber, you will be receiving a lot of flavors from the filler and not the wrapper, the reason for that being is because of the ring gauge on the cigar. Whenever you have a large ring gauge, you get more flavors from the filler. I have been told that the balanced ratio is a 50 ring gauge, and that the length does not play a factor in that as well. The cigar begins very medium in body showing lots of coffee, nuts and wood notes. It has a finish of cream and warm spices, and is very pleasant. I would classify this cigar as medium in body, and it is burning incredibly well.
Entering the second third of the cigar, the flavors remain fairly similar to the first third, with an increase in spice and coffee. I am still picking up a lot of nutty and wood characteristics, but there is a presence of sweet earth flavors that pair well with the creamy finish of the cigar. The second third of the cigar shows a lot more balance and flavor than the first, but it still remains very medium in body. The cigar is burning perfectly through the whole cigar and is smoking cool as well. With a larger ring gauge you typically get a cooler smoke and you can also get a better burn as well. I am really liking this cigar and it feels good in my hand, I typically don't like how cigars of this size feel, but I am comfortable with this. When I get into the final third of the cigar I am still getting similar flavors to the second third, and the strength has picked up as well. The flavors are all intermingled with one another and the cigar is a little more complex than before. I am getting a lot of cocoa, coffee, and wood notes up front, but there is a finish of nuts, cream and floral notes as well. The cigar probably medium-full in body, and still has a wonderful burn to it.
As I finished the cigar, I really went over my notes and thoughts throughout the smoke, and I was debating what rating this cigar should get. In the end I decided to give this cigar a 92, and I really would like to try this cigar again in the future. I felt that the cigar offered a wonderful draw and smoking experience, and more importantly had nice flavors as well. The cigar was not as complex as some of the Padilla Cigars on the market, but what it lacked in complexity it made up for in every other category. If I wanted to be a complete ass I could have given it a lower rating because of my final impression, but I tried to look at the big picture instead of this minor detail. I don’t know if I would buy a box of 50 of these, but I would definitely buy singles from time to time. With a lot of smokers looking for large cigars, I consider this to be one of the best out there, and available at a great value as well. For those looking for large cigars, look no further than the Padilla Golden Bear.   
Padilla '68


La Flor Dominicana Limitado IV

Limitado IV
If there is one manufacturer that I have trouble following it is Litto Gomez with La Flor Dominicana. I really do love their cigars and I am always hearing great things about them, but I just find it difficult to follow all of their new releases. I know that there are several shops that carry their products, but there are few that really follow them closely and get all of his stuff. I have smoked almost all of Litto Gomez’s production, but with that in mind I have had to be in six different states to do that. The most recent cigar of theirs that I smoked was the Limitado IV. This is the fourth launch of the Limitado line and since I have not had the other three versions, I really don’t have anything to compare it to. The cigar features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper with a Nicaraguan binder, and has fillers from the Dominican Republic. The cigar is your standard toro size measuring 6 ½” with a 52 ring gauge and is limited to 2,000 boxes, and each box consists of 48 cigars.

The cigar is constructed very well with no major veins present and the cap placed perfectly. The cigar is very firm in hand and has a color of light brown leather. The aroma is intoxicating and gives off lots of rich eastern spices with a finish of leather, barnyard and earth. Upon lighting I am greeted with a nice level of spice and leather, and the cigar is definitely full in body. In the first third of the cigar I am getting some interesting flavors that are playing off one another. I am getting hints of spice, leather, barnyard, pepper and a good amount of floral notes. The cigar is giving off this unique meaty flavor and is so far quite enjoyable.

Entering the second third of the cigar I get a drastic change in flavor, and I am beginning to pick up a lot of nutty and wood flavors. I am still picking up some leather and floral notes, but the cigar really has changed. Very different from the first third, I wouldn’t say one of them is better over the other but equally enjoyable. The cigar is still full in body and has been burning perfectly this whole time. In the final third the cigar begins to show a lot of flavors from the first and second third and is really a huge finale. It is very complex and there are unique pairings of flavors that confused my palate. I still got that leather and floral pairing, but I also picked up a lot of nuts, pepper, wood, earth, spice and barnyard. Remaining complex to the end the cigar was incredibly full body. It lost some of the balance in strength and flavor at the end but I was still able to enjoy the cigar down to the nub.

With a perfect burn and draw all the way to the end and some wonderful flavors and other qualities the cigar got a 91 rating. Gomez’s cigars are definitely full in body and one can expect to get a cigar that has some strength regardless of the wrapper. I felt that the Limitado IV had some wonderful flavors, unique and incredibly complex. I would definitely smoke this cigar again, but I would not consider it a daily rotation cigar for me. In some ways I thought of this cigar as a little too creative in flavors. I know this is weird, but it was almost like the modern art of cigars for me. The cigar really pushed you in a lot of directions and made you really have to work. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, and I really enjoyed the cigar, but it was just something different than most cigars I am seeing on the market. There weren’t as many rich flavors in the cigar that I feel a lot of cigar smokers are looking for, but quite the opposite. Overall a very enjoyable cigar and something that advanced smokers should try.
La Flor Dominicana

July 16, 2011

Cigar Review: Illusione ~2~ And Crowned of Thorns

I thought it appropriate to follow up my Cruzado review with an Illusione review. I find it pointless to review a cigar and give it a poor review so I figured I would light up another Illusione Cigar that was great. I don't want to write reviews on poor cigars, so there are times when I don't write a review because certain cigars have not impressed me. The Illusione brand is an incredible brand and I think every vitola in the line is incredible. It utilizes Corojo '99 and Criollo '98 tobacco and is a Nicaraguan puro. The ~2~ is not a torpedo, even though looking at the picture and name, but rather a belicoso. The cigar measures 5 1/4" with a 52 ring gauge and has an incredibly dark wrapper. The name is pretty given, but if you have questions you can refer to the Illusione website, Illusione Cigars.

The aroma of the cigar is very rich and heavenly showing lots of cocoa, leather, earth and espresso. I am picking up some stone fruit in the background but it is very subtle. It is a very firm cigar and the draw is perfect after the cut. As I begin the cigar it begins very full flavored and full bodied. There is definitely a lot of spice present, but there is also notes of chocolate, earth, cherries and leather. It is very complex and has a wonderful body. The second third remains as flavorful as the first third but has lessened in body and is a little more complex in flavors. I am getting an elegant finish to the cigar and the flavor is very difficult to pick up. The cigar is producing a lot of smoke and is burning perfectly. In a lot of ways, this cigar is reminding me of a Cuban Ramon Allones. I am in the final third of the cigar now and the strength has returned and the flavors are very dark and flavorful. I am picking some tobacco notes up front, but it finishes with hints of dark cherries, leather, cocoa and spice. I would say this third of the cigar is not as complex as the second but it is definitely more full in body. The cigar is still burning very well and I am able to blow some incredible smoke rings. This was really a great cigar and a great follow up to my last review.

I give this cigar 94 points and I am about to light up another one of these. I think the Illusione line is so flavorful and blended so well that you can't go wrong with any size, but I think the ~2~ is definitely my current favorite vitola. I love the belicoso format and this is a classic belicoso. With a wonderful price range and incredible flavors I don't think there are many cigars that can compete with this line and I know that I will always have these in everyone of my humidor, and will always pick on up in a cigar shop. We should all thank Dion Giolito for these great smokes.    

July 15, 2011

Cigar Review: Cruzado Dantes

Almost three months ago I reviewed the Cruzado Marios, and if you refer to that review, Cruzado Marios by Seth's Humidor, my review was that the cigar was not great but it was far from poor. I think the line is a little more spicy and "raw" than his others lines but still rather enjoyable. The tobacco in the cigar is Nicaraguan and Honduran and is composed of Criollo '98 and Corojo 2006 tobacco. The filler tobacco in this cigar being Honduran and Nicaraguan, the rest Nicaraguan. The cigar measures 5" with a 48 ring gauge it is really nice in hand. The wrapper has a reddish brown color to it and has a wonderful aroma of spice, leather and wood. I must say that I like that the ring gauge is 48. I know that this cigar is technically a robusto, but because of the thin ring gauge it really gives you a little bit more flavor of the wrapper than a typical robusto. I have had a couple of these a few months ago, and I remember them being quite delicious but we will see how this is.

The cigar begins showing lots of spices and leather and is definitely full body. The burn is not quite even but it is not burning poor at all. I do take into account the burn in cigars, but to me it is not as big of a deal. As I get into the second third of the cigar the flavors are a little more complex showing some wood notes as well, but overall the cigar is still dominantly leather and spice. I am getting a tiny bit of harshness in the back during this second third, but it is not to over powering and not too unpleasant. The burn has corrected itself in the second third and it is providing a great amount of smoke. The strength is still full body and probably the most full bodied Illusione I have smoked. I just entered the final third now and the cigar is showing the most amount of flavors that the cigar has shown so far. I am getting lots of nuts, coffee, leather, wood and spice and I am wishing that this third was what the whole cigar was like. It burned perfectly from here down to the nub and the smoke was still great.

I would give this cigar a 90 rating and I wish I had a couple more to see the differences. This is probably the first one of these cigars that really hasn't been consistent, but that happens from time to time. When you make a cigar by hand it is not going to be perfect or as close to perfect as possible, but that is why I love it. I think if I was going to pick up this cigar line again I would choose the churchill vitola, but this is still a pleasant smoke. If you want the fullest bodied Illusione Cigar than this is the cigar for you but if you want the most flavorful I would steer you in another direction. Enjoyable cigar but not my cup of tea.

July 12, 2011

Emilio AF2 - (Toro)

Lately I have been raving about boutique cigars. Well, I have always been on the rave of boutique cigars but this company is like ultra-boutique. I am talking about Emilio Cigars and the cigar I smoked this time was the Emilio AF2. Emilio Cigars has three lines currently, and I have had the pleasure of enjoying two of them. I have yet to review the third line but after these two I am very eager. I can tell you that both lines have been incredible and have impressed me like no other cigar lately. The AF2 is made by A.J. Fernandez in Estelí, Nicaragua and is a very unique blend. The cigar is covered in an Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro wrapper and has a Nicaraguan binder. The filler, is composed of Nicaraguan tobacco and even has ligero from Pennsylvanian in it as well. I have not seen many cigars with Pennsylvania tobacco in the filler and I am looking forward to trying it. Most Pennsylvania tobacco for cigar use is Pennsylvania Broadleaf and it has a very distinct taste and aroma to it, so I am sure I will pick that up in the cigar. For this review I smoked the toro version which is 6” by 50.
Emilio AF2
The cigar is beautiful in appearance and is rolled perfectly. The wrapper has a nice dark brown color to it, but it does not have that really Oscuro color to it like some cigars do. The cigar is very tight with no soft spots and has a nice oily feel to touch with a slightly toothy wrapper. The aroma is heavenly, showing wonderful notes of espresso, cocoa, leather, earth, wood and spice.  After cutting the cold draw is perfect and has a wonderful taste as well. Upon lighting I am greeted with nice notes of peppery spice, but I am also getting this smooth sweet cocoa and wood note as well. The cigar is very refined and balanced, making the cigar smoke incredibly well and at no point having one flavor dominate over all the rest. I am in the first third and I am picking up a lot more flavors than when the cigar started. I am getting notes of chocolate covered raisins and a finish of spice and leather. With a perfect burn and a plethora of smoke this cigar is incredible and I am thinking to myself that Emilio Cigars are better than the cigars manufacturers own cigars. That is my opinion of course, but I think Gary is very attentive and meticulous in what he pus his label on, and it shows with Emilio Cigars. 
As I get into the second third of the cigar the flavors are still picking up and I am getting a little bit of everything. There is a nice beginning flavor of espresso, leather, nuts and wood; but it finished with this chocolaty, raisin, cinnamon and earthy flavor. Really a complex cigar that keeps your palate guessing the whole way through, and it even had me picking up this marshmallow flavor as well. The cigar is still burning great and the smoke is very aromatic and engulfing me. Half way through the final third now and this cigar is still standing strong. I look at this cigar like an NHL player who just played every game through the regular-season and post-season, won the Stanley Cup, and the following day ran a marathon. The AF2 has not lots an inch of strength or flavor and continues to chug along. The final third is not as sweet as the second third but instead shows flavors of espresso, leather, nuts and wood up front and finishes of spice and sugar cane.  Smoking this down to the nub it was definitely a lip burner and I had to put it down when I accidently broke the toothpick holding it because I didn’t want to burn my fingers. 
This cigar gets a rating of 94 points in my book and is definitely a great cigar. Being medium in body this smoke was incredibly complex and balanced. At no point did I think this cigar was going downhill in any area, and if anything it kept me guessing more than most. I would smoke this cigar anytime of the day and find it suitable no matter the time. I could definitely pick up that Pennsylvania tobacco in the cigar and I think it played a huge part in the flavor profile of the cigar. I would be interested to see where the tobacco from Nicaragua in this cigar was from because it really showed great strength, flavor and balance. I think we can expect great things from Emilio Cigars and I can tell you that I will be picking up some of their smokes when I am in Bethesda, MD in early August. What a great cigar and something everyone should check out. Everyone starts somewhere and if Emilio Cigars continues down this road I can see them as popular as E.P. Carrillo, Illusione, Padilla and Tatuaje.              

(This sample was given courtesy Emilio Cigars)

July 11, 2011

Partagas 8-9-8 Varnished (Cuban)

Partagas 8-9-8 Varnished

When one thinks of the Cuban Partagas brand the Lusitania and Serie D No. 4 come to mind, but the cigar that is often forgotten or not mentioned is the 8-9-8 Varnished. Now I should mention that there is an 8-9-8 Varnished and there was an 8-9-8 Unvarnished.  The Varnished is the dalias format and measures 6 ¾” with a 43 ring gauge and the unvarnished measures 6” with a 42 ring gauge. I have had both and I prefer the varnished version merely because of its length and the larger ring gauge. The dalias, or Lonsdale size, has become less popular now a day because of the preference in larger ring gauges for cigars, but I for one am a big fan of thinner cigars. I find that thinner cigar show more flavors from the wrapper, and that is what I love in a cigar. The Partagas 8-9-8 Varnished is probably the most notable of the dalias vitola, but the Cohiba Siglo V is also a dalias, and that cigar ranked #2 in 2009 for Cigar Aficionado Top 25 Cigar of the Year.  When looking at the name Partagas 8-9-8, you might wonder where the 8-9-8 comes from, and the answer is the packaging. The cigars are layered in three rows of 8, 9 and 8. Now you can buy this cigar in ten count boxes and not have it layered like the 25 count box, but it is still the same cigar. My Cuban smoking friends and I have often made the joke they should call those Partagas 3-4-3, but then we decided it wasn’t that funny and should get a life.  

 The cigar is alluring in hand with lots of oils on the toothy wrapper. It is constructed perfectly and has a light brown color to it. The triple cap is beautiful and has almost a flattened head. There is a wonderful aroma of leather, spices, wood, and a faint hint of rich earth. The cigar is lovely to begin with showing a lot of rich flavors. I pick up hints of cocoa, coffee, earth, leather and a lot of spice on the finish. The burn is impeccable and the cigar is producing a thin amount of smoke. When I get into the second third the cigar becomes fuller in body, becoming medium-full, and the flavors are definitely stronger as well. I am still picking up a lot of the flavors I got in the first third, but I am beginning to get hints of cocoa and stone fruit as well. At this point the cigar is still burning very well the flame is beginning to go out so I have to relight it. I am in the final third now and the cigar is showing wonderful flavor notes and is probably more complex than ever. I am picking up citrus notes, cedar and some leather with a nice sweet finish of cocoa, coffee and spice. I was having some burn issues in the final third but overall the cigar was still showing great flavors and strength and the burn did not play too much of a factor in the rating.

I would give this cigar 95 points and consider it to be one of the most favorable cigars in the Partagas brand. I know the size is not to most smokers liking but it really is unique. You don’t see many non-Cuban cigars with such a small ring gauges, so it is nice to see that Habanos S.A. is still making vitola’s in this size. I feel that Habanos S.A. really understands that you can have amazing and flavorful cigars in this format and that you don’t need a huge cigar to give off flavor.  IN fact, most cigar makers will tell you that just because a cigar is big do not necessarily mean it will have more flavors. It will just be bigger! I am not surprised that a cigar like the 8-98 is still popular among worldwide smokers, and I wish that these sizes would be more popular in America. If you have a chance to pick this smoke up I strongly suggest you do, just so you can have the experience of this size. It has a nice length to it and because of that it lets you savor the thin ring gauge for a good amount of time, one of my favorite Cuban cigars. If the trend in cigars for America is that they will all be 56 plus ring gauges, I can see myself smoking only Cubans. Long live the dalias/Lonsdale!  


July 10, 2011

Pinar Del Rio - Seleccion Reserva Limitada 2010 (Toro)

Seleccion Reserva Limitada 2010
I have spoken many times about the rise of Pinar Del Rio Cigars and how great they are, and I feel that it is time that I review my favorite cigar of theirs. I smoked this cigar practically all weekend so I find it fitting to finally review it. I think the Seleccion Reserva Limitada 2010 is their finest blend and most complex of smokes. Like the rest of their core line, the cigar is filled with filler tobacco from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. It has a Criollo '98 Dominican binder and a wrapper from Lancaster County, USA, Pennsylvania Broadleaf. I smoke the toro which measures 6" with a 54 ring gauge. It is a little bit bigger than most toro vitolas I prefer but it is still a great size. The cigar has a wonderful aroma of chocolate, espresso and leather to it, and it is beautiful in hand, almost like a chocolate bar.

From the second I light up the cigar it is incredibly rich showing lots of chocolate, earth, espresso, leather and spice. There is a peppery finish and it is definitely medium in body. The cigar is burning very true and producing wonderful amounts of smoke. As I get into the second third of the cigar the flavors are still strong and incredibly rich. The cigar is definitely producing tons of flavor which are very similar to what was present in the first third, but it is still very pleasant. I am still getting a great amount of smoke with each puff and the cigar is still staying medium in body. The final third really shows the first change in the cigar showing a lot more pepper and earth than the first two thirds, but it still has a good amount of the dominant flavors as well. I would say the final third is more full in body,  but still not full bodied. Smoking this cigar down to the nub I have had no problems with the smoke and it was always flavorful.

This cigar is not really complex in the manner that the flavors are changing, but it is so flavorful that it is. I know I talk about how much I love complexity, but there are two types of complexity. There is the complex cigar that is constantly changing in flavor, and then there is the cigar that is constant but packed with tons of flavors, making it complex. I have no problem with either and sometimes I prefer one version over the other, this weekend it was the latter of the two. This is a great cigar for after dessert because of how rich it is, but in all honesty could be smoked at any time. I would pair this with any port or dessert wine, and even a Shiraz or a rich flavorful stout. I would give this cigar a 93 rating and consider it to be box-worthy. This is a cigar that all smokers would love and no one would find it boring at all. Whether you prefer mild or full bodied smokes it is blended in a way that anyone could smoke. Really an enjoyable cigar that I consider to be a reliable and daily smoke.
Reserva Limitada 2010

July 7, 2011

Oliva Serie V - Double Robusto

Serie V
For four years the Serie V by the Oliva Cigar Co. has been an incredibly successful cigar, and I believe it will continue to grow in popularity as time goes on. Since its release it has received high ratings by critics, professional and amateur alike, and has even made it into the Top 25 by Cigar Aficionado for four consecutive years. Recently they released a sampler collection with two special edition vitolas inside that are phenomenal, but I want to focus on a core production vitola in the line, the Double Robusto. I love almost every vitola in the line but the Double Robusto is possibly tied for first and if not, definitely second. The cigar measures 5" and has a ring gauge of 54. The entire line has larger ring gauges than I typically prefer but this line is probably the one exemption to my usual negative thoughts on large ring gauges. The cigar is a Nicaraguan puro and they stress the important of the Jalapa Valley ligero tobacco in it.

The wrapper is very oily in the hand and has a wonderful aromas of leather, cedar, oak, dark spices and tobacco to it. The cigar is constructed beautifully with no faults in the wrapper and is very firm in hand. The wrapper has a nice reddish hue to it and is gorgeous to look at. As I light up the cigar it begin by showing lots of leather, nuts, wood and caramel flavors. The cigar is probably medium-full in body but it is so balanced and blended so well that it is not overwhelming. Further into the first third I begin to pick up a lot more spice notes and the cigar is burning perfectly well. I love these cigars because they are very aromatic, and they produce tons of thick smoke that is great for smoke rings. When I get into the second third the strength of the cigar definitely kicks up and the flavors become very heavy and dark as well. I am picking up lots of oak, spices, coffee, cocoa and leather. The cigar is still burning perfectly and is still showing incredible balance as well. I am in the final third now and the cigar has definitely increased in strength and I am now really feeling the strength from the tobacco. The flavors the cigar is giving off are very pleasant showing lots of tobacco, chocolate, leather and coffee notes. The finish is definitely long and has been very present throughout. The burn is still perfect at this point and remains great all the way to the end.

This cigar gets a 93 in my book and is definitely one of the best non-Cuban robustos. First of all, this cigar is incredibly wallet friendly and much more than any other cigar that matches it in flavor and strength. I am a huge fan of Nicaraguan puros and more importantly cigars that are packed with great flavors, and this cigar is both of those. If you are a fan of full bodied cigars then this is a cigar for you, and if you have been smoking the Oliva Serie O or G for sometime and never had one of the Serie V smokes then you should do yourself a favor and pick one up. This is really one of my favorite cigars and will always be a cigar that I pick up. Great flavors, great strength and a great price!
Double Robusto

July 6, 2011

Cigar Review: Padron 1926 Serie No. 35 (Maduro)

Padron 1926 Serie No. 35 (Maduro)
I don't smoke Padron Cigars on a regular basis and when I do I usually grab one of their larger smokes, but when I am short of time and want something special I grab the 35. This is the cigar that you will often see Jorge Padron smoking and what a treat it is. The cigar derived its name from the amount of time it takes Jorge to smoke it, 35 minutes. One of their smallest cigars, it measures 4" with a 48 ring gauge, and this particular vitola is known as the Rothschild. If you were wondering where the term, Rotschild, as a cigar vitola comes from, it comes from the infamous Rothschild family which was a successful banking family in Europe. Like all of the Padron Cigars it is a Nicaraguan puro and is packed with incredible flavors and strength. The 1926 Serie is composed of tobacco that has been aged a minium of five years and comes in  a box pressed format. The cigar has a wonderful aroma to it of leather, cocoa and nuts, and is beautifully constructed. There are no major veins present in this maduro wrapper and it is very tight when pressed.

The cigar begins wonderfully. showing lots of spice notes up front and remains complex all the way to the end showing notes of nuts, cocoa and coffee. The cigar burns very evenly through the first half and is incredibly smooth. For being such a smooth and balanced cigar the strength is very subtle but it is present. The 1926 Serie definitely has more strength than the others lines but I feel this size in particular shows the most. As I enter the second half of the cigar the spices remain very strong but the cigar is also showing many more flavors than the first half. I am picking up lots of cocoa, coffee, nuts and toast, but I am also picking up some citrus peel on the finish as well. The cigar burns smoothly all the way to the nub and at no point did I have a burn problem. This was a great cigar that packed tons of flavors and punch in a small format.

I know this is a short review but because of the size I felt that breaking it up into thirds would not be necessary. I give this cigar a 92 and have made it my weekly lunch smoke. I feel that the No. 35 can go head to head with any other Padron Cigar and definitely with any other flavor bomb by any other company. I know that a lot of people out there are looking for big cigars because they think they will have more flavor, but it is just so wrong. People are forgetting that vitolas like the Rotschild and Petit Corona can be just as good or better than a gordo size cigar. If you are short on time then this is a great cigar for you , and if you prefer smaller cigars the same applies. Everyone out there should really give this cigar a chance if they have not. I am sure all of you  big cigar fans will fall in love with this smoke and quite possibly prefer something a little bit smaller in your hand afterwards. This is a cigar that has flavor, stength and is definitely value driven.
No. 35

July 5, 2011

Cigar Review: E.P. Carrillo Short Run 2011 - Canonazos

E.P. Carrillo
2011 has been a big year for E.P. Carrillo and it is only getting bigger. They had announced that they will be having five cigar releases for the year and we have already seen two. The E.P. Carrillo New Wave Connecticut and E.P. Carrillo Elencos Series have both been smash hits and wonderful cigars, but I now turn my attention to the next three. We know that every year E.P. Carrillo launches an Edicion Limitada series and a Short Run, but what we do not know is what the fifth cigar is! I know I just built that up and now I am going to let you down but I have no idea what it will be. Instead of speculating and worrying about that issue right now though I will be focusing on their newest release, the E.P. Carrillo Short Run 2011. Limited to only 1,500 boxes of each size, the Short Run 2011 was released in three vitola’s, the Bombones (4 7/8 by 50), Canonazos (5 7/8 by 52) and the Immensos (6 ¼ by 60).

I chose the Canonazos vitola. I chose the Canonazos vitola because of the name and the size. Some other bloggers did not know this after talking with them but the name is actually the same name the factory works in Cuba give to the Cohiba Siglo VI and Montecristo Grand Edmundo 2010 L.E. The size of the Canonazos is the same size as a Siglo VI and I think it to be a great size. The wrapper on the cigar is Ecuadorian Habano and no matter what certain retailers say, Ernesto told me it is Ecuadorian Habano. Underneath the wrapper is a Nicaraguan binder and a filler blend of Nicaraguan and Dominican tobacco. The great thing about this smoke is that if you hold side by side to the 2010 version you can’t tell a difference in appearance but I know for a fact that we have some major flavor profile changes.
             The cigar is constructed beautifully with some minor oils here and there on the wrapper. There are some veins present but nothing to major that could affect the smoke. The triple cap is perfect and the cigar has a wonderful aroma of rich earth, spices, leather and stone fruit. On the cold draw I picked up some resistance which was great and I also detected soft floral notes as well. Upon lighting I was greeted with wonderful pepper and spice notes and they were accompanied by some coffee and almonds. The beginning was stronger than most E.P. Carrillo’s I have lighted up but in no way was it similar to a Don Pepin beginning. As I get further into the first third I begin to pick up some more woody notes and the cigar begins to mellow out some and really become complex. The cigar is burning perfectly so far and is very balanced. As I get into the second third of the cigar I begin to get an abundance of flavors ranging from spice to stone fruit and coffee to chocolate. I am definitely getting some nutty notes on the finish but it is accompanied by this woody mint flavor. This cigar is really flavorful, complex and burning well. When I get into the final third some of those wonderful flavors from the second third diminish and the cigar increases in strength. I begin to get a lot roasted nuts, spice and wood in the flavor, but more importantly I am getting strong tobacco notes. I smoke the cigar down to the nub and the whole time having a perfect burn.
                I really enjoyed this cigar and I am glad that I chose this vitola for my review. I think that if I picked up a larger vitola I would lose that Habano seed flavor profile, and a smaller one would diminish the flavors from the filler. I wouldn’t say this cigar is worse or better than the Short Run 2010 but just different. The 2010 line was like a Pinot Noir for me and this was more a Cabernet Sauvignon. I would give this cigar a 93 rating and possibly higher on a different stick. I thought that it was perfect in appearance and construction but it was in the final third of the cigar that I thought it lost its edge. The cigar does a great job warming up and building in flavors into the second third, but when I the final third arrives it loses some its greatness. Overall I would smoke this cigar again and possibly buy a box, but it is not his best released cigar. It is funny to give a cigar a 93 rating and have it not be someone’s best work, it just goes to show how great his work is!             
Short Run

July 4, 2011

Perfect Summer Drink

Tanqueray and Tonic
When summertime hits in the South I find it imperative to have a drink that is rejuvenating. The beers that I like tend to be a little bit heavier and it is no time for red wine. Sure I could drink some white wines but every once in a great while you need to take a step forward and getting something a little stronger. Gin and Tonics have been a popular drink since the 18th Century. Originally introduced by the army of British East India Company in India to help fight malaria the tonics then contained a lot of quinine so they added Gin to make them tolerable. Gin has been around since the 11th Century partially because the medicinal properties of Juniper Berries and because it tastes great. Gin is primarily made of three ingredients, juniper berries, angelica and coriander, but it also contains several other botanical s.

One of my favorites gins is Tanqueray. Tanqueray is a London Dry Gin style and been produced sine the 1830's in Scotland. There are many things you can do with gin, the saying goes "anything rum can do gin can do better," but I prefer the classic gin and tonic. Tanqueray was clever enough to use their name in the title and call the drink a T&T. It is rather quite simple to make and wonderfully refreshing on those hot and humid days.
  • 1 oz. of gin
  • 3 oz. of tonic water
  • .25 oz. of lime juice.
  • highball glass filled with ice
  • lime wedge to garnish
You can always modify the amount of gin for your pleasure as well. Oh, it goes great with a cigar as well, enjoy!

July 2, 2011

Cusano 15th Anniversary

Cusano 15th Anniversary
2010 was the 15th Anniversary for Cusano Cigars and it was in that year that they released this limited cigar. Available in only one size, a lancero, this cigar is beautiful to look at. Although the original founders, brothers Mike and Joe Chiusano, are no longer with the company the cigars are in good hands being made in the same factory, and by the same people as Davidoff Cigars. When it was released Joe was still with the company but it had been some time since Mike had left. I like the lancero size and I think it can really be great for certain cigars, but it really has to be blended right. I feel that there are a lot of times where they make a lancero vitola in the line but the wrapper is not that unique for it and the cigar then just becomes dull. With the lancero size you really get the flavors of the wrapper, and I look carefully at cigar wrappers. The cigar measures 7" with a 40 ring gauge and is beautiful in hand. It has a nice pigtail cap, which you see on lancero's quite a bit, and has a beautiful dark wrapper that is incredibly oily. The wrapper is a hybrid Habano-seed grown in Ecuador with a Dominican binder, and has filler tobacco from the Dominican Republic and ligero leaves from Nicaragua.

Holding the cigar up to my nose it has a wonderful aroma of nuts, spices and barnyard to it. The cigar begins very smooth and soft giving off notes of walnuts and cedar. There is a hint of spice with the cigar but it is very subtle and the cigar remains fairly medium in body. Further into the first third and into the second third the cigar begins to show more flavors and I begin to pick up notes of stone fruit and espresso beans as well. In the second third of the cigar I am picking up lots of the flavors from the first third but there is a mild harshness to it which I am not to comfortable with. It is a very interesting cigar with the spice level, it is present but not present as well, very interesting. The cigar is still medium in body but I am beginning to pick up some more harshness to it, it almost seems as if the cigar is still young and needs time to rest. I am in the final third now and the cigar really has picked up in strength and harshness. There are a lot dark flavors present, lots of oak, tobacco, spices and earth. It has definitely lost some balance from the first two thirds and the closer I get to the end the hotter and harsher it gets. Unfortunately I had to put the cigar down long before the nub because of this and it is ruining my impressions on the cigar.

I am not sure with this cigar, and I don't know if it is too young and unfair to rate it, but right now I would give this cigar an 87. The cigar had some nice flavor early on but when I got past the midway point the cigar really went downhill. It burned evenly throughout and looked great but in the most important aspects it lacked. If I were to give this cigar another chance I would want to smoke it a couple years from now and see hot it is but right now I am not feeling the need to try it again. If you are a fan of Cusano Cigars I would choose another one of their lines and if you were a lancero fan I would look elsewhere. Sorry to say it, but sometimes you get something which is just not that great.
15th Anniversary

Grimalkin by Emilio Cigars

When you review cigars you are aware of who else is reviewing and you begin to follow all the others out there. One cigar that I have heard wonderful things about is the Grimalkin by Emilio Cigars. Emilio Cigars is owned and run by Gary Griffith who is an incredible person in the industry. They are a fairly small organization but are working with some incredible people. There are only three lines in their lineup and two of which are made by AJ Fernandez. The maker of the third, Grimalkin, is not disclosed but I have my ideas as do others. There are no details on the tobacco in the cigar released but I imagine there are some wonderful leaves from Nicaragua in there, and I imagine the wrapper is a habano seed grown in either Nicaragua or Ecuador. I smoked the toro vitola in the lineup and I would give you the exact measurements but I did not measure them. I think it was 6" with a 50 ring gauge.

The cigar has a wonderful aroma of leather, spices and cocoa and is rolled beautifully. The triple cap, hint at maker, is just beautiful and so is the wrapper. It is rolled perfectly with no soft spots. As I light up the cigar I am greeted with wonderful notes of leather and spices (cinnamon and cloves) and a nice cedar wood finish. The first third is incredible with a wonderful amount of flavors. I am picking up lots of leather and spice on the front and there is a finish of coffee, cocoa and wood on the finish. It is medium in body and has a wonderful burn to it. As I enter the second third the flavors intensify and I am getting lots more wood and coffee. The spice has decreased some and is now paired with the sweetness of rich earth. There is this cinnamon flavor that I am getting at the midpoint and I am also getting this orange peel as well, really amazing. It is incredibly balanced and complex. It is still medium in body and is smoking wonderfully. The burn is still perfect and I am incredibly impressed with this cigar. I have had cigars with great burns but this cigar is just rolled so well that the burn in phenomenal. I usually don't care that much if there are some waves in the burn but because of the burn in this cigar the leaves inside are really burning like they are suppose to and giving off great flavors. I am in the final third now and just when I thought this cigar could not getting any better it does. I am picking up notes of chocolate, orange glaze, cinnamon, cloves, leather and cedar as well. The cigar burned evenly all the way down to the nub and never got hot. Remaining complex and flavorful all the way to the end this cigar was incredible.

I am in love with this cigar and I am definitely putting it in the running for the Top 25 cigars of the year and looking forward to my next smoke. This is a 96 rated cigar and truly worthy of a box purchase. I don't know who made it or where the tobacco is from and I don't even care. Really worth your time. Follow Gary Griffith on Facebook and Twitter and go to their website and find out where you can get these sticks. Wow, really a great cigar! Emilio Cigars

(This sample was give courtesy Emilio Cigars)