April 30, 2011

Cigar Review: El Triunfador by Tatuaje - No. 2

El Triunfador No. 2
Wow, I once thought the Epernay line by Illusione could be one of the only lines to make a mild bodied/full flavored cigar, I was wrong. El Triunfador by Tatuaje's Pete Johnson is a flavor bomb. Pete Johnson crafted a cigar that was made in the traditional Cuban fashion and made to be similar to that of medium bodied Cuban cigars, he was successful on all levels. The cigars is made with a Habano Ecuadorian wrapper and Nicaraguan fillers and binder. I picked out the Belicoso Fino vitola, No. 2, in the line and the cigar measure 5 1/2" with a 52 ring gauge. The wrapper is beautiful brown in color and had some minor veins present but none enough to hurt the burn. It is slightly oily to touch and has a wonderful aromas of dark cherries, spices and wood. Of course the cigar is made by Don Pepin Garcia and is made in his My Father Factory in Nicaragua.

The cigar begins very soft with wonderful notes of cherries and leather, and it is accompanied by slight hints of spices. With the first third there are notes of cocoa that play with dark cherry and spices and the cigar still remains relatively mild. Entering the second third the flavor remains very complex with an increase in spices and body. Notes of cherries and cocoa still remain prevalent and a hint of coffee begins to emerge towards the end of the second third. The final third of the cigar is probably the fullest part of the cigar and in some ways the most complex. There are lots of coffee notes but you can still pick up heavy spices with cocoa and dark cherries. The cigar burned incredibly even throughout the whole smoke and never got hot. 

Tatuaje Cigars are meant to be comparable to Cuban Cigars and this cigar definitely shows those qualities. I am not saying that Cuban cigars are better than non-Cubans but they definitely have a certain unique quality to them. I found that this cigar could compete with a Cuban Ramon Allones Specially Selected, Romeo Y Julieta Churchill and the Partagas Serie P No. 2. I give this cigar a 93 and can't speak anything but praise about it. This is a cigar that you enjoy now or even rest and enjoy later on in life, a masterpiece you may say. 
Tabacos El Triunfador
 Available at all shops I recommend.       
 

April 29, 2011

Hoyo de Monterrey Reposado en Cedros

Reposado en Cedros
The newest line to the Hoyo de Monterrey brand, Reposado en Cedros is a medium bodied smoke that has undergone an immersion process post rolling. Reposado in Spanish means "to rest," so the term Reposado en Cedros means "rested in Cedar." The cigar is draped in an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper with a Connecticut Broadleaf binder. Underneath all that is a tri-country filler of Nicaraguan, Honduran, and Dominican (Piloto Cubano) tobacco. Post rolling the cigar is aged for six months in cedar before being packaged. The cigar is covered in a cedar sleeve and has a  significant presentation as well. I smoked the churchill in the line, called Liso, and measure 7" with a 49 ring gauge.

Once I removed the cedar sleeve I noticed the perfect wrapper the cigar is covered in, there are practically no veins present and is very silky to touch. The aroma is of course mostly cedar but there are also notes of almonds and spices. Having being aged for 6 month in cedar post rolling the cigar shows obvious notes of cedar and is accompanied by toast. Along with the toast there is a large present of graham cracker, almonds and cinnamon. I found that the first third of this cigar was the best and most enjoyable. With the second third the cedar remains present but also has toasty characteristics and has a finish of bitter black coffee. The cigar ends with lots of toast notes and cinnamon with less cedar than before but still present. The cigar remains medium throughout with an even burn and at no point got hot.
Hoyo de Monterrey Reposado en Cedros
Overall I was impressed with this cigar, I was not thinking it was going to be as good as it was. The cigar has a nice body and great flavors which I think anyone can enjoy. I wouldn't say this cigar is breathtaking or incredibly unique but I do see it as a sign that General Cigars is making better and better smokes. With the Cru Royale and La Gloria Cubana Serie N line I look forward to future General Cigar releases.  I give this cigar a 90 and really enjoyed it in the churchill format.  The cigar does have a long after taste of cedar by the way.
     

April 28, 2011

Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Classic - 1979

Don Pepin Garcia makes tons of cigars, some bare his name and some don't, but I believe one of his best is the Cuban Classic and the great thing about the Cuban Classic line is that it is also one of Don Pepin's most affordable cigars. The cigar is made in Esteli, Nicargua and a Nicaraguan puro and is covered with a Habano Rosado wrapper and like all of his cigars the cigar is triple capped.  The cigar is beautiful to look at with a silky wrapper that is flawless and has wonderful aromas of leather, cedar, cherries and white pepper.
Cuban Classic 1979
This cigar starts out with tons of pepper and is accompanied by notes of roast coffee, cedar and leather. The first third is a bomb on this cigar and keeps getting stronger but if you can make it through it you are in the clear. Don Pepin is incredible at blending and keeping your palate guessing and this cigar truly puts it to the test. I have had tons of full bodied smokes in my time but they tend to lack the finesse that this cigar possess. When the second third begins notes of wood remain but I begin to pick up lots of spiced peaches in the flavor. Stone fruit is a sign of great flavors in a cigar and with it can add so much to the smoke. The white pepper begins to emerge towards the end of the second third and when I reached the final third the flavors grow even more. Dark cherries begin to become very present towards the end and is accompanied by lots of cedar and allspice. The cigar burned even all the way towards the end with no need to relight and was only hot when burning my fingers on the nub.   
Cuban Classic
I love this cigar and it truly is a Classic. It is in some ways similar to some Cuban cigars but I like to think it is unique in its own ways. I give this cigar a 92 and think this is a cigar you can enjoy now or even age it and enjoy later. I have had this stick for several years now and it is always consistent in flavor and body. I don't really believe that there are tons of cigars that can truly be aged for sometime and still be great but this is one of them. This is a cigar that has everything you could want in a cigar and at the same time not kill your wallet. If you haven't tried this smoke then it is about time you do because once you do you will think nothing but the world of it.

Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Classic - Cigar.com

April 27, 2011

Cain Nub by Oliva

Cain Nub Maduro

Maduro
Some time back I reviewed the Cain line in its orginal vitolas and wanted to compare those with the nub formats. The nub line was designed to be equivalent in smoking time and experience to a standard vitola and have the flavors hit your palate right off the bat instead of having them build up in most cigars. The size has become ever so popular since its initial release and many makers have begun making cigars in that size. The Cain line was designed to be a very full bodied experience packed with tons of flavor. It is available in a San Andres Maduro or Nicaraguan Habano version. Both sizes were similar in body to their standard vitola counterparts but I felt the flavors were lessened in the maduro format and intensified in the habano format.
Cain Nub Habano

Habano 
The Cain Nub Maduro is a heck of a smoke, measuring 4" with a 60 ring gauge it is thick in hand, and has aromas of earth, chocolate and spice. The smoke has a lot of the same flavors as the robusto format but lacks in balance as the standard vitola. I was able to pick up lots of coffee, earth, chocolate, wood and spice, but the body of it diminished the flavors to a degree. I would say the maduro version is much stronger in the nub format but less flavorful. Overall the nub format is made for those cigar fans that love thick cigars and the format itself. A 4" cigar a 60 ring gauge to me doesn't work. I don't feel that you can really treasure the smoke to the same degree as a robusto, double corona, corona gorda, etc. I give this cigar an 88 and if I were going to smoke a Can Maduro I would grab the robusto format.

Finishing up the Maduro I went into the Habano version. The Habano version is the same size as the maduro nub but with a Nicaraguan wrapper. The initial flavors of the cigar start with a blast of black pepper that is accompanied by notes of leather and cedar. It has a long finish of cedar on the back of your palate and is definitely full bodied. The cigar becomes very toasty throughout the first third of the cigar and it is accompanied by earth and cedar.  Towards the end of the first third the cigar begins to show notes of coffee beans and the flavors becomes dominant in the second third. As the second this begins the leather and spice become fuller than before with a long dry finish. One thing I have to say about nub cigars by Oliva is that they are able to create a cigar that packs tons of flavor and never dulls in a such a small stout cigar, most thick cigars are dull at the midpoint. With the final third present black pepper takes front stage and the cigar is rocking with body and flavors. The cigar doesn’t burn hot and remains flavorful with each puff. All in all this is a heck of a smoke and even though I prefer the standard sizes it is a nice smoke and great vitola for the Cain line. I am going to give the Habano nub a 90 rating and critique it in the same way I did the Maduro version. 
 
Overall the cigars were very similar to the standard vitola formats but packed into a format that is not to my liking. If you love short thick cigars then these are your smokes, otherwise I would go with the regular lineup. I felt the nubs lacked balance which to me is crucial in a cigar. The Cain line is meant to be a killer in body but that is not what I look for in a cigar. Try one out though, maybe you will love them    

Cain Nub by Oliva - Cigar.com 

April 26, 2011

5 Vegas Limitada 2010

Every year the 5 Vegas brand releases its limited edition smoke. The smoke usually consists of tobacco that has been aged for several years, minimum of 5, and is crafted by some of the finest makers on the market. Every year the blend changes and is in no way similar to last years. The cigar have become quite a collectible to many and are usually packaged in extravagant boxes. The Limitada 2010 is the first puro they have ever made and is made up of entirely Nicaraguan tobacco that is Cuban-seed. Every year the cigar is released in one size only and it is a 6.2" by 52 ring gauge belicoso.
5 Vegas Limitada 2010
The cigar is incredibly oily and is a dark brown habano wrapper that has minor veins present. There are no soft spots present on the cigar and has wonderful aromas of barnyard and pepper. Upon lighting the cigar you are greeted with lots of spices, predominantly cinnamon, nutmeg and red pepper. When I reached the first third flavors of wood and coffee emerge and add a dryness to the spices that were present when first lighting the cigar. The second third of this cigar really changed for me and I began to pick up lots of herb notes along with toast. I picked up some rosemary and a little pine which was very aromatic and pleasant. There is a slight sweetness with the finish in this part of the cigar as well. The cigar closes similar to how it began with lots of spices and wood notes and is accompanied by a salty sweetness experience.
Limitada 2010
I have had the 5 Vegas Limitada Series for the past four years and I would have to say that this year is the best of them all. I believe that every year the Limitada blend gets better and I look forward to the release of the 2011 line. I would have to give this cigar a 90 because I have had probably ten of these and the wrapper always cracks. The cigar smokes perfectly even and has great flavors but the wrapper on the cigar just always cracks and I know it is not my fault. If you want limited smokes and sit on them for sometime than this is your smoke. 
     
5 Vegas Limitada 2010 - Cigar.com

April 23, 2011

Wine Review: Stag's Leap Wine Cellars - Fay Hillside - Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Napa Valley

Fay Cabernet Sauvignon
Dark, profound, robust, three words that can describe this wine. Stag's Leap Wine Cellars is a very well known winery in Napa and the world and they make some wonderful wines. The winery was established in 1970 and after only six years was voted best red at the Judgment of Paris. Fay Hillside was purchased by Stag's Leap in 1986 and with it they were able to add 66 acres to their vineyard. This Cabernet from 2006 is made up from grapes entirely from the Fay Hillside. The wine is aged in 100% French Oak for 24 months before being bottled and was released in 2009.
Glass of Fay
The wine is beautiful when being poured and when in the glass and has a beautiful dark garnet red color to it. Holding the wine up to your nose you are greeted with wonderful aromas of oak, dark berries and licorice. With the first sip the flavors are dark and profound and you are greeted with blackberries, currants, vanilla, oak and black cherries. The wine is incredibly powerful throughout and the tannins are in your face constantly.

This is not your everyday Cabernet and is definitely not for the faint of heart. This is one of the darkest Cabernet's I have ever had and it really showed how different Cabernet's can be from the main stream ones. I gave this wine a 91 and thought it to be very flavorful but not as balanced as I would hope. Stag's Leap makes amazing wines and I have never thought poorly of any of them, if you ever thought a Cabernet could be similar to a Malbec this would be one of them.   

Blue Label by Gran Habano

Blue Label
Gran Habano makes amazing smokes and with Blue Label they certainly outdid themselves. I love practically everything Gran Habano makes and Blue Label is one of their best I think. The cigar was release in 2008 and is sold exclusively for Cigar.com and Cigars International. The cigar begins with a gorgeous Habano wrapper that is beautiful in color and very toothy. There is a minor vein in the cigar but nothing dramatic. Underneath the wrapper is a Corojo binder and a tri-country filler from Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The cigar is made at their STC factory in Honduras which is considered to be one of the finest cigar factories.

The cigar has wonderful aromas of barnyard and cinnamon, and is gorgeous to look at. Once you light the cigar you are greeted with spicy notes that are accompanied by oak and tea, and it is medium in body. As the cigar develops you begin to taste vanilla beans on your palate and it offers a nice sweetness to the spice, oak, and toast that is prominent in the smoke. Towards the end of the cigar there is an emergence of graham cracker and the final third of the cigar is packed with flavors that overwhelm your palate. The burn on the cigar was even throughout and the cigar produced tons of beautiful smoke.

This is a great everyday smoke and one that should be tried by everyone out there. I think this is the best bargain cigar on the market. This cigar is loaded with flavors and is accompanied by a nice body throughout. I would have to give this cigar a 90 and have it on a regular occasion. I don't think it is possible to be disappointed by anything Gran Habano makes and this is proof of that. If you have not smoked Blue Label hop on the bandwagon and buy a box.

BLue Label by Gran Habano - Cigar.com

April 22, 2011

Cigar Review: E.P. Carrillo New Wave Connecticut - Brillantes

E.P. Carrillo
Well it is official, E.P. Carrillo has done it again. Ever since his departure from General he has been making amazing cigars that show what a quality cigar should be. Every cigar he has made shows great and complex flavors and has a wonderful balance as well. The New Wave Connecticut really is the new wave. This is one of the best Connecticut wrapper cigars I have had in long time. The cigar is packed with tons of flavors and has a great body to it as well. Covered in an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper the cigar is packed with Nicaraguan and Dominican filler tobacco  underneath a Dominican binder. I picked up the robusto in the line, called the Brillantes, which measure 5" with a 50 ring gauge.

The cigar has wonderful aromas of hay, wheat,  and honey, and beautiful to look at. The wrapper has some minor veins in it but has a wonderful shine and silky feeling to touch. As you light up the cigar you are greeted with wonderful notes of nutmeg, earth and cedar, and has a nice medium body to it. Within the first third the cigar shows lots of graham crackers, nuts, wood and cream notes that are beautiful on the palate, and the cigar remains medium in body. Within the second third the creaminess dissipates and is replaced by minor notes of cinnamon and cloves. I have reached the final third and this cigar is kicking butt. The flavors are playing off one another and with the wonderful body of the cigar really making an impression on me.
Brillantes
This cigar was incredible and really showed the skills in making a wonderful smoke. Most people think Connecticut shade wrappers are mild but Carrillo really showed the skills in proved otherwise. I give this cigar a 92 and would definitely recommend this cigar to any person out there. This is a great morning smoke for me and for some a great anytime of day smoke. If you are new to smoking or prefer cigars packed with flavors rather than body this is your smoke. I love it and will definitely pick more of these up.  Pick them up now!

Havana Phil's Cigar Company    

April 21, 2011

JFR Robusto Maduro

JFR Box
I am sorry, I messed up and forgot to take a picture of the cigar but  I assure you that if you look at my previous blog on the JFR Corojo it looks identical except a dark maduro wrapper. Made by Casa Fernandez, the JFR line is made exclusively for retail and is a great cigar. The cigar comes packaged in beautiful 50 count chests and is sold for a great price. Like the Corojo version, the Maduro is made with all Nicaraguan tobacco that is Cuban Seed. The wrapper is a habano leaf that has undergone the maduro process. Like its counterpart the robusto measure 5 1/2" and has a 50 ring gauge.


Looking at the cigar the wrapper is pitch black and vein free, it is pretty incredibly how well the wrapper looks because you don't see maduro wrappers that look as good as this. Besides from being very oily to touch the cigar has a wonderful aromas of barnyard, spices and espresso. Upon lighting I am greeted with tons of wood and espresso and their are dark spices on the back of the palate. As you continue the smoke the flavors grow more and more and there is a beginning note of chocolate that plays of the espresso. At the halfway point the cigar has become fuller in body and is really kicking. Throughout the rest of the smoke you continue to have notes of wood and espresso beans but black pepper begins to emerge more and more and it plays off the chocolate quite well.

The JFR line is really a wonderful line and a heck of a value as well. I give this cigar an 89 and though I prefer the Corojo version it is a great smoke. The cigar definitely shows signs of quality tobacco and quality craftsmanship. This is a cigar that you can definitely buy a box of and have one everyday and be happy with it. The pigtail cap and shaggy foot really offer an old school feeling to the cigar and add a lovely touch. These are definite buys for when working in the yard, fishing, watching a game and all else entertaining events. I would smokes one of these while watching my Ottawa Senators but since they suck they aren't playing hockey anymore. Pick these beauties up at Havana Phil's!

April 20, 2011

Gurkha Centurian

Centurian
When you smoke a cigar that was originally made exclusively for the Sultan of Brunei you can bet that it is going to be a good smoke. Well that is unfair, but you can safely say that it is going to be made extremely well and with great tobacco, whether or not you like it is up to your palate. The Centurian is a beautiful perfecto that 6" in length with a 60 ring gauge in the center. The beauty about the perfecto shape is that you are going to have the initial flavor which is going be dominantly wrapper, and then the center which will impart more flavors from the filler and then the final third which will be dominantly wrapper. The cigar is covered with a Connencicut wrapper that isn't shade grown or broadleaf but a dark natural Connecticut. Underneath the wrapper is an authentic Cameroon binder and filler tobaccos from the Cibao Valley in the Dominican Republic that are all Cuban-see ligero that have been aged for eight years. The cigar is very difficult to roll because of the shaped and because of that is only made by the best torcedors in the factory. The cigar is very limited so it is almost a collector's item but I say screw that and lets light this baby up!

The dark brown wrapper is silky to touch and there are practically no veins present. Upon lighting you are greeted with wonderful notes of earth, herbs, wood and unsweetened dark baking chocolate. As the smoke continues spices begin to engulf your palate and the cigar becomes medium full in body. Smoking on notes of barnyard begin to show up along with wood, toast and apricots. This cigar has a lot of flavors reminiscent of a Cuban Bolivar and Ramon Allones. At the center and thickest part of the cigar the flavors really go full force and the fullness of the body takes the back seat. The apricot taste really comes on strong and is accompanied by cinnamon and cloves. The chocolate from the beginning comes back to the front along with the herbs and this earthy dirt taste. When the cigar thins out on its downward course to the head of the cigar the body kicks back in and it is accompanied by wood, spices and earth. I found myself smoking this all the way to my fingers and desired another Centurian to continue this amazing journey.

If you have never experience a Centurian you need to. It is a pricey cigar but worth every penny. I give this cigar a 94 and would recommend it to every cigar smoker out there. You are not the Sultan of Brunei and because of that you can't smoke it everyday but you can save it for special occasions when a great cigar is called for. Enjoy this cigar in your backyard on a beautiful evening with a great wine after a great meal. Do yourself favor and treat yourself like a Sultan, even if it is for only a couple of hours.
Gurkha Centurian


Gurkha Centurian - Cigar.com 

La Herencia Cubana Oscuro Fuerte

Oscuro Fuerte

La Herencia Cuban Oscuro Fuerte
When it comes to Pennsylvania Broadleaf cigars I believe AJ Fernandez is the only one who is truly utilizing it. It is a difficult tobacco to work with but the results you can get from it are truly incredible. Diesel was his first release using the wrapper but since its success he has begun releasing more and more with that wrapper. La Herencia Cubana was originally realeased with an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper and it was a cigar you loved or hated it. I thought it was a great cigar with tons of flavor and when I heard that he was releasing the same blend with a different wrapper I was eager to try it.

The cigar is draped with the notorious dark PA Broadleaf wrapper that has aromas of spice, wood and earth with some minor veins present.Like its predecessor the cigar still has Nicaraguan fillers and binder but the flavor is changed so much because of the wrapper. The cigar is very robust from the get go giving off lots of earth and pepper notes with hints of cedar and spices. The finishes give of a cafe mocha taste to it which balances the full body that the cigar has. This is a very full bodied cigar but with that it has wonderful flavors and a smoothness which balances it all out. From head to foot the cigar has very similar flavors and doesn't throw any curve balls in your direction.   

I have smoked this cigar several times and in all its sizes and though it is pleasant it is not my cup of tea. I know there are those out there which really enjoy this cigar but to me it is not the best of his cigars. I give this cigar an 88 and would not pick it up again but if someone were looking for a cigar that fit this profile I would recommend it. AJ makes tons of great cigars and I love most of them but I felt that the blend on this cigar could have been better. With that being said if you want to compare two cigars with the same binder and filler this is a perfect case. I won't go on with this review because I have nothing more to say but you might like it so give it a shot.  Cigar.com offers samplers and I think that is the best way to try out cigars.

La Herencia Cubana Oscuro Fuerte - Cigar.com

April 19, 2011

CAO Italia - Ciao

CAO is a well known cigar company that is at the head of the line when coming to marketing and creativity. They have successful lines that are presented wonderfully and have cigars that are complex and balanced. One of their cigars in particular, the Italia, has been a favorite of mine for five years now and is still as good as it was when it was released. I have met the with former President Tim Ozgener several times and he is very knowledgeable and an incredible man to talk to as well. I talked with him years ago about the Italia and  
CAO Italia
The Italia is a wonderful cigar packed with tobacco from all over the world, and of course there is Italian tobacco in it. There are not many cigars that have Italian tobacco in them and I am pretty sure this was the first. The cigar is bold and sweet and gives of wonderful flavors that are accompanied by a beautiful body. To begin with the cigar has filler tobacco from three regions, Nicaragua, Peru and Italy. Nicaragua is a well known tobacco growing region and Peru is somewhat well known as well but Italy is a different category all together. The Italian tobacco adds a nice sweetness, almost pipe tobacco taste to it,  and really plays off well with the rest of the tobacco. The binder and wrapper are both from Honduras and the wrapper on this cigar is gorgeous. It has a beautiful solid color with practically no veins and is very toothy and oily. The Ciao is the robusto in the line measuring 5" with a 56 ring gauge. The aroma is of sweet pipe tobacco, chocolate and bourbon. 
Beautiful Cigar Wrapper
As I light up the cigar I am greeted with notes of chocolate, coffee, spice and some sweetness that dissipates as the second third approaches. As I mention sweetness I want to clarify that the sweetness isn't very overpowering but has a nice way to balance the spice in the cigar. With the second third there is a lot of wood present in the cigar accompanied by leather with some coffee still present. In the final third there is a beginning herbal flavor present with notes of earth. The cigar remained cool throughout and the burn perfect, great smoke. 

I am always eager to light up an Italia. Each cigar is complex and medium-full in body and never disappoints. The cigar does offer flavors that you can pick up in other cigars but it is truly unique because of the Italian tobacco it uses. I give this cigar a 90 and it is a staple in my humidor. I know some people hate this cigar and others have no feeling towards it but it is defintiely a cigar that you have to try. Whether you buy a single of a 5 pack give this cigar a shot and I am pretty sure you will enjoy it.

Available at all my recommended cigar shops.

Cigar Review: Illusione ~mj12~

~mj12~
No you are not confused, the ~mj12~ is wrapped in a material that is silver in color, almost aluminum foil in appearance. The ~mj12~ gets its name from The Majestic 12 which was a secret committee of government officials, military personnel and scientists, that were responsible for the investigation of the Roswell incident. The silver wrapper is meant to be similar to the space metal material that was discovered. Whether you believe there was a UFO landing and that the material found was alien and not weather balloon material that is up to you, all I know is if there are aliens I hope they are like the Transformers. I am pumped by the way for the third Transformers film and hope it is awesome.

April 18, 2011

Cigar Review: Casa Fernandez - (Cigar Rights of America)

To finish the second cigar that was given to me with my membership to CRA I was given a cigar by Casa Fernandez. This Nicaraguan puro is 6 1/2" in length and has a 52 ring gauge. The cigar is 100% Aganorsa leaf and has tobacco from Esteli and the Jalapa Valley. Draped in a 2006 Corojo leaf that is practically vein less and oily the cigar has a wonderful pigtail cap. Tabacalera Tropical or Casa Fernandez has a phenomenal rolling team and every one of their cigars is constructed beautifully. The cigar has wonderful aromas of chocolate, spice and cedar, and is heavy in hand.
Casa Fernandez - CRA
Upon lighting I was greeted by a natural tobacco sweetness along with spices and leather. As the cigar progresses notes of nuts and leather gain prominence and the cigar builds in strength as well. I have found that cigars with a Corojo 2006 wrapper really have nutty characteristics to them, and it is a positive sign. The first and second third are very complex with flavors play off one another leaving you with lots of chocolate, cedar, spices and leather. Once I reached the final third the cigar has lots of dark spices, nut and leather, and is the fullest in body that the cigar has been. Throughout the cigar the burn was impeccable and at no point did I need to relight.
Casa Fernandez
When I finished this cigar I wasn't very surprised with what I got, and I don't mean that in a negative way either. Casa Fernandez makes amazing cigars and I have always had a great cigar by them. Every cigar they make is packed with tons of  flavors and body, and is very complex. I give this cigar a 92 and when I was finished smoking it, I wanted another cigar by Casa Fernandez. If you have never smokes a cigar by Casa Fernandez or even heard of them, check them out and take a look at their stuff. The only downfall with loving these cigars is that they are not carried by everyone, but luckily for me Havana Phil's Cigar Company does.

Coronado by La Flor Dominicana - Double Corona

Coronado by La Flor Dominicana - Double Corona
 When Litto Gomez announced the release of the Coronado line by La Flor Dominicana I am not sure if he knew how successful and popular the line would become. For him it was the first cigar he would make utilizing a Habano Sun-Grown wrapper from Nicaragua. Underneath the wrapper he has a wonderful blend of Dominican Sumatra and Piloto Cubana fillers with a Dominican Corojo binder all from his farm in La Canela, Dominican Republic. Covered in a beautiful golden band that is a crown laced with jewels the cigar starts off right. With the name of the cigar and the band I can't help but think that this a crown that Francisco Vasquez de Coronado wanted to have in his hands in the mid 1500's when searching for Cibola.

Coronado
The cigar is beautiful in hand measuring 7" with a 50 ring gauge and has wonderful aromas of chocolate, cedar and spices. The wrapper is beautiful with no major veins and is very oily. The wrapper is actually grown in Jalapa, Nicaragua by Nestor Plasencia. I told you Nestor Plasencia is involved in almost every cigar out there. Upon lighting the cigar I am greeted with spices and coffee notes and a full bodied backbone. Leather and caramel are two flavors that will remain with you throughout this whole smoke and for the most part is accompanied by coffee beans. The cigar is a big cigar and a long smoke but he has made it well so that it never gets dull. I begin to pick up more notes of cloves, cinnamon and anise throughout the smoke while the flavors of coffee, leather and caramel come back and forth.

After about a 2 hour smoke time I have finished the cigar and I am feeling great and in no way overwhelmed. The cigar remained balanced from head to foot and even though full in body could be enjoyed by any level of cigar smokers. I gave this cigar a 92 and believe it a staple in my humidor. I always have a 5 pack of these in mine and if you have never smoked one you should.

Available at:
Empire Cigars
W. Curtis Draper
Havana Phil's Cigar Company

April 17, 2011

Saturday Night Wines

Irony, Ghost Pines, Gascon
When bringing wines to a social gathering it is always important that you bring wines you want to drink but also a good variety so that others might enjoy them as well. I usually bring a white and red but last night I was down with the reds. For last night I chose a Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and a Malbec. I am  big Malbec and Zinfandel fan and I know everyone loves Pinot Noirs so you can't go wrong with them either. 

For a Pinot Noir I picked up a bottle of Irony from Monterrey County that is from 2009. The wine is still young but letting it breathe for sometime before and drinking out a big glass always helps. This is a great Pinot Noir and I have enjoyed its previous vintages as well. It is medium in body and encompasses lots of stone fruit, strawberries, vanilla and earth notes. It has a very round finish and soft tannins. I gave this wine 88 and find that it goes great with about anything.

The second wine I picked was the Ghost Pines Zinfandel from 2008. 85% of the grapes were from Sonoma while the reaming 15% were from San Joaquin, California. This wasn't my favorite of Zinfandel's I have had partially because it was sweeter than most others. The body was medium-full and had notes of spices and vanilla beans on the nose. Tasting the wine I picked up lots of strawberry jam, spices, mocha and vanilla. The wine was rich in tannins and had a long finish. I gave this wine an 84. Ghost Pines makes a great Cabernet but to me this Zinfandel was just not that great.

Last but not least I picked up the Gascón Malbec. This is one of my favorite Malbecs because it is always consistent from vintage to vintage. It has a beautiful dark velvet color to it with aromas of blackberries, cigar box and mocha. The Malbec is loaded with tons of flavors ranging from blackberries and blueberries to plums and cherries. It finished with notes of mocha and soft round tannins. This is a full bodied wine and is wonderful all the time. I love Malbec wines and this one is no exception, I give it a 90 rating.  

Overall I was very pleased with the wine I chose and I belive others like them as well. Yes you are sometimes going to pick up  bottle of wine that is not to your liking but it may be to others. When in doubt don't be afraid to pick up something new and when I say that I mean a wine from a different winery and even a different grape all together. Next time you are going to a party bring a couple different bottles of different grapes. You may not like one of them but someone at the party might fall in love with it.

April 16, 2011

Casa Magna Colorado Torito

Casa Magna
Any cigar that is all Nicaraguan usually does well in my books. Nicaragua has amazing tobacco growing regions and when you blend great tobacco from those regions together you are gifted with an amazing smoke. The Casa Magna is one of those and when you look at who is involved in the cigar making process it is no surprise. You have most definitely heard of Manuel Quesada and Nestor Plasencia, and when you hear that those two men work together on this blend you will have goose bumps on your arms. The Casa Magna Colorado line is definitely wallet friendly and has incredibly flavors and body. Each cigar is beautiful in presentation and never lacks in flavor.
Torito
Looking at the pictures you can see the oily sheen this cigar has and what little veins are present on it. The reddish hue of the wrapper is gorgeous and it is a wrapper like that that you want on a cigar all the time. It has wonderful aromas of raisins, spice, wood and earth, and is heavy in hand. The Torito is stout cigar measure 4.7" with a 60 ring gauge. I typically don't like big ring gauge cigars because of the size but knowing who is involved in making this cigar I don't think it will kill the flavor department of this incredible line.
Beautiful Torito
From the first puff you are greeted with earth and white pepper and is finished with a soft toasty and spice feeling on the back of your palate. The cigar remains pretty consistent with flavor throughout, bouncing back in forth between pepper and wood and this spicy earth taste, but it is never boring. It burned true and gave off massive smoke clouds that practically engulfed me like a heavy fog. As I finished the cigar it remained cool because of the ring gauge and it smoked down to nothing. It was a cigar that they should put a warning level on, "Warning, due to wonderful blending and rolling this cigar will burn wonderfully right to the end and may cause you to burn your fingers and lips." Don't worry Manuel, I won't sue.

What a beautiful smoke, incredibly balanced. Although this size is not my preferred vitola I gave it a 92 because of its performance. The beauty about this line is that there is a vitola for everyone out there. The Casa Magna has been a hit since its 2008 rating in Cigar Aficionado and is still on the rise. These are definitely everyday cigars I would say and should be a staple in anyone's humidor. I can't think of any retailer who doesn't carry these smokes, and I know all my recommendations do, so if you can't find them at your cigar shop, do these two things.
  1. Slap your retailer
  2. Get a new cigar shop

Perdomo Champgane Noir

Noir

Coming to soon to  a tobacconist near you. If you didn't think the 10th Anniversary Reserve Line from Perdomo could get any better you were wrong. Nick has been discussing this new cigar lately and I have decided to finally post about it. The wrapper is going to be a triple-fermented Cuban-seed maduro leaf from the Jalapa Valley, Nicaragua and will be composed of all Nicaraguan aged tobaccos. It is going to have the smoothness of the Champagne with added spice and hints of dark chocolate.  The cigar is going to come in the traditional sizes of the Reserve line and packaging will be similar. This reminds me of the 5 Vegas Gold and 5 Vegas Gold Maduro, both were great cigars and with the maduro wrapper there is this added layer of flavors. Really looking forward to this smoke.

April 15, 2011

Cigar Review: Liga Privada Único Serie Dirty Rat

Dirty Rat
What's in a name? If I were to buy cigars by their names I would never have bought this; I mean seriously Dirty Rat. I probably would have never smoked Flying Pig as well if I went by names but luckily I don't. This is a cigar that has been around for almost two years and since it was first handed out it was a hit. Now when you smoke the Dirty Rat, it is important to know that the cigar is almost a combination of the No. 9 and the T52. To be honest this makes me think of the movie Pineapple Express when Jame Franco's character is talking about Pineapple Express. Watch clip below to understand what the heck I am talking about. Hopefully you have seen the movie though.

Origin of Pineapple Express

The Dirty Rat is a Corona vitola and measures 5" with a 44 ring gauge. The cigar is finished with a nice fan on the cap, and it is beautiful in appearance. The wrapper to the cigar is Connecticut River Valley Stalk Cut & Cured Sun Grown Habano, and then has a Brazilian Mata Fina binder. Underneath that is a blend of Honduran and Nicaraguan tobacco, and is composed of seven different types of tobacco. The Dirty Rat is the first cigar in the Único Serie and there have been numerous cigars added to the line since this review. I should explain quickly what it means to be stalk cut and cured now, and if you understand what it means then  you can skip the next paragraph.

Most tobacco plants are primed which is a method in which leaves are harvested by hand from the bottom up throughout the growth process. What this does is allow the uppermost leaves, the ligero, to get more nutrients for a longer time and have more strength and flavor. With stalk cutting, the plants are harvested once the plant reaches maturation and it cut at the base. This process has the leaves curing while still on the stalk allowing them to get nutrients for a longer time and thus being richer. This process takes much longer than priming and is more expensive as well.

The corona is beautiful in hand with a nice dark wrapper and fan finish cap. There is a nice texture to the cigar, and it is very toothy and is somewhat dry to touch. There were oils present on the wrapper when I purchased the cigar, but since then they have decreased. The prelight aroma was delicious and smelled of raisins, spice, leather and cedar, and I am getting a rich earthy aroma with spices from the wrapper. The cigar begins by showing some great spice and pepper notes, and it is paired with some solid wood notes too. Eventually I begin to pick up some solid rich earth and dark chocolate notes and it is a very tasty smoke. The cigar is performing wonderfully in terms of construction as well and the draw is perfect. I would say the strength of the cigar is at a solid medium full level and exceptional overall.

When I get into the second third of the cigar I find that the flavors have changed somewhat to show some more creamy aspects, and it is pairing with those rich earth and chocolate notes. The spice and peppers notes have faded as well and it is showing some leather and oak notes too. The cigar is burning wonderfully in this third and it is producing a solid charcoal colored ash that is remaining firm on the cigar. The strength of the cigar is still at a solid medium full level level and smoking cool with a great draw. In the final third of the cigar I begin to pick up some more spice notes that I was getting in the first third and it is showing a lovely sweet and spicy flavor profile. There is a nice balance of oak and cream with the cigar, and it is going back in forth between pepper and spices and rich earth and cocoa notes. The cigar burns wonderfully in terms of construction to the end, and it is producing that wonderful charcoal colored ash. The strength in the final third has increased to being full body and on the last draw it is strong with a cool and flavorful finish.

I am not a huge fan of the No. 9 line and I enjoy the T52, but I think the Dirty Rat is awesome. The cigar really captures the great aspects of both smokes, and does it in a Corona format. I think it is the best cigar in the Liga portfolio, and is the most complex of them all. It is not easy to make a cigar like this in the corona format but they did it and did it well. In terms of construction the cigar was perfect, and I had a razor sharp burn line from the beginning to end, and the ash was gorgeous as well. The strength really was what I look for in a cigar, and more importantly was balanced with the flavors. The flavors were out of this world, and it is a great example of a terrific cigar in a small format. I give this cigar a 92 when they are young after some aging they end up being closer to a 95 and 96. If you can pick up a box of these then do not hesitate!  
Dirty Rat

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