Month in Review: (Volume 1, Issue 2)
January 2015 Highlights
I am back at the end of February to wrap up the best cigars for the month. These cigars have had a rating of 92 or higher, and these are cigars you will find in my humidor, if still available. I have 92’s as being equivalent to a 5 pack in my rating system, but depending on the price and packaging, they may be box worthy cigars. I had three cigars in January that made the list, but let’s see what February looks like.
Easily the best cigar I have smoked in the month of February and the 2015 year, the illusione ~eccj~ 20th is a fantastic release, and one that I have been waiting for patiently. This Short Churchill is a fantastic size, and I believe it is a size that shows the best of both worlds. The 48 ring gauge is the perfect ring gauge for balance between wrapper and filler, and with the length of 6 1/2″, you are getting this “improved toro” vibe. The Nicaraguan tobacco is used perfectly in the cigar, and the Corojo Cafe Rosado wrapper is used brilliantly over the entire blend. The 20th blend is based off of the ~eccj~ 15th, which is the basis for the Epernay blend, but what makes this particular smoke superior to the Epernay is the amped up body and strength that comes with the cigar. Worthy of a box and then some, the ~eccj~ 20th is a cigar you should not pass on. There is a reason this cigar got a 94 rating.
El Oso is a line that I have enjoyed thoroughly since I first lit it up, but I never felt that it was the best line from Warped Cigars. I prefer La Colmena and Flor del Valle over El Oso, hands down without a question, but when I lit up El Oso Mama, I was blown away. Mama is a unique vitola for the line as it the smallest ring gauge, but it also features a different wrapper. A slightly shorter lancero, Mama features a Mexican San Andres wrapper, and this is a flavorful and well constructed cigar. From beginning to end, the lancero delivers complex flavors, and they are flavors that I love to see with a Mexican San Andres lancero. This is definitely my favorite offering in the line, interesting because it is the odd one out, and it is a smoke that I would keep around in my humidor to smoke young and see how it ages. A solid 92 rating cigar, I am happy I gave this offering a chance.
Friends and Family has been a line/brand that I have enjoyed with each vintage, but it was with last year’s release, the Bel Air, that I found the best release. A classic toro, 6″ with a 50 ring gauge, the cigar delivers impeccable construction and terrific flavors throughout. The Bel Air is lighter overall when compared with past releases, but the flavors are much more complex and there is a nice bit of depth and transitioning from beginning to end. I have never been fortunate enough to pick up a box of these releases, but I have truly enjoyed the sticks that I have smoked. I love the concept of Friends and Family, and appreciate that Andre has never made it more regular than he has. Because of this, he has kept people interested and fascinated with the line/brand. I gave the cigar a 92 rating, and wish I had more of these to smoke. The Dominican Republic is a country I am paying attention to right now because I believe there is a resurgence occurring in the country. You are seeing a lot of veterans who were once part of large companies starting their own smaller boutique companies there, producing cigars the way they always wanted to produce, and along with that, you are seeing some new and young guys head to the country creating new and unique blends that we have not seen from the country. Two of these young guys are Tony Bellatto and Craig Rossi with La Barba Cigars. Originally working in Honduras with Christian Eiroa, the duo moved to the DR to team up with Tabacalera William Ventura to produce a new kind of cigar. La Barba Purple is almost entirely a Dominican cigar, and it is a cigar that shows solid construction from beginning to end. The flavors are simply fantastic, and it shows great spice, caramel, and mineral notes with that. The recent stuff coming out of the Ventura Factory has been really enjoyable, and La Babra Purple is one the best. I gave this smoke a 92 rating, and it is a blend I have been coming back to over and over again.