August 30, 2011

Cigar Review: La Palina El Diario Gordo

La Palina El Diario - Gordo

When the first cigar you release is La Palina Family Series, and the cigar is incredibly successful, how do you top that? Well, you begin to work with the Raices Cubanas Factory in Honduras. The Raices Cubanas Factory is making incredible cigars for several manufacturers currently, and you can add La Palina Cigars to that. Personally, I think the factory is making some of the finest cigars on the market, and I was so excited to hear that Mr. Paley would be working with them, I was jumping for joy. When you begin to shoot names out like Illusione, Alec Bradley, Padilla and Casa Fernandez, and see how well they are doing by bloggers and major cigar magazines, you can expect good things from this cigar. Like the Graycliff Factory, Raices Cubanas makes their cigars in the traditional Cuban fashion, and use the finest tobacco out there.

The name El Diario literally translates into English as “The Daily.” With this name in place, it is clear to see that this cigar is meant to be enjoyed as a daily cigar, instead of the exquisite La Palina Family Series line which I enjoy only on special occasions. The cigar is offered at a lower pricing than the regular line, and I am sure this was the intention of Mr. Paley. The cigar begins with a Honduran Corojo ’99 Rosado wrapper, and has two binders which are Honduran Criollo ’98. Within the filler is a mixture of Nicaraguan Corojo ’99 and Criollo ’98 tobacco which will add wonderful spice flavors to it I am sure. When you see what this blend is composed of, it is hard not to get excited and I know I am looking forward to this smoke. I love Corojo '99 tobacco and Criollo '98. Along with that, I think wrappers that are Rosado are absolutely beautiful, and it shows with this cigar. This factory has made incredible cigars with these different types of tobacco, and I think we will have a winner with this cigar as well. For this review I was gifted with the gordo size which measures 6.125” with a 58 ring gauge.

The cigar is absolutely gorgeous to look at, it has an awesome reddish brown wrapper that is flawless, and the triple cap is the same. It is slightly oily to touch, and is very firm. Looking at the foot I can see the great fillers in it, and it has a wonderful nose as well. I can definitely get aromas of spice in the nose, and also some sweetness of chocolate and hints of leather as well. As I light up the cigar the spice is surely present, but I am also getting dark cherries, nuts and bread as well. Further into the first third notes of chocolate, leather and wood begin to emerge as well and the cigar is awesome. It is easily full in body, but very balanced and flavorful. The cigar burns evenly, and the ash is a dark gray but very firm. I could stop smoking this cigar right now and be happy. Already it has some of my favorite flavors, and it shows top quality.

When I get into the second third I am still getting a lot of spice, hints of pepper, and the flavors are still very complex. The stoned fruit has died down some, but I am getting lots of coffee, dark chocolate and nuts. It has a long finish of wood and leather, and is still showing the full body that I was getting in the first third. The cigar had a minor burn issue at one point, but it corrected itself in time. I really liked the flavor change from the first third, but at no point did the spice from the Corojo and Criollo fillers overpower any of the other flavors, because the wrapper was there to balance it with its sweetness.

I got lost in the enjoyment of the second third, and when I looked down I was half way into the final third. The spice level kicked back some at this point, and the cigar began to show a lot of hazelnut, chocolate, almonds and whole wheat bread notes. There is a soft spice on the finish, but it is not as dominant as the sweet and nutty notes I am getting. Smoking the cigar down to the nub, it has died down to being medium-full in body, and burning very cool. I had no problems in the final third with burn issues, and I rested the cigar down in my ashtray, letting it put itself out.

Looking back on this cigar, I was thoroughly impressed, and I am giving this cigar a 95 rating. To me, it had everything I could ask for in a cigar plus some. It had great tobacco, was blended perfectly, a nice strength, and a great complex flavor profile. Mr. Paley and La Palina Cigars definitely have a winner with this line, and because of the pricing on this cigar compared with the Family Series, I think this is going to be a huge success. I know that I will be keeping these in my humidor at all times, and I urge all tobacconists to get in touch with La Palina to begin stocking their inventory with this stick.  Mr. Paley is two for two in my book, three for three if you count the limited edition 1896 smoke as a line, and he is up there with Ernesto Perez-Carrillo and Illusione Cigars. I look forward to his next project, and in the meantime will be enjoying these fine sticks on a regular basis when not reviewing cigars for my readers! Once again, I would like to thank Courtney Smith with La Palina for these samples, and thank La Palina Cigars for having great products on the market.     
La Palina El Diario


August 29, 2011

Cigar Review: Quesada Oktoberfest The Bavarian

The Cigar and its Pairings 
When I found out that Quesada Cigars was going to be releasing a cigar named Oktoberfest, that was meant to be paired with Märzenbier, I was very excited. I am a huge fan of Märzenbier, and I always look forward to the season. Märzen is to be brewed during the dates of September 29th and April 23rd, and is then bottled and released in the late summer early fall. Märzen is the beer of choice during Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, and is my favorite style of beer. I find it really shows great flavors, and the fall is the best time to drink beer for me. Now the cigar, Oktoberfest, is a Dominican puro made in the Dominican Republic by Quesada Cigars. The cigar features a dark and oily wrapper that looks like it is undergone the maduro process, which is from the Cibao Valley in the Dominican Republic, and has Ligero and Viso tobacco that is Cuban Seed Criollo and Olor in the filler. They do not specify the type of tobacco for the binder, but it is obviously Dominican. I chose The Bavarian size, which is 5 1/2" with a 52 ring gauge. I paired this cigar with several Märzen style beers, but I have also smoked it on its own. The cigar is very nice on its own, but it really shows great flavors and excels with a nice Märzenbier. The beers I chose were the Sam Adams Octoberfest, Otter Creek Oktoberfest, Saranac Octoberfest, Spaten Octoberfest and Flying Dog Dogtoberfest. Throughout the cigar I am tasting it with the beers I chose. I will be reviewing the cigar, and with that seeing which beer goes the best with it, in my opinion. The beers are brewed in the same style, but I want to see which Märzen is the best fit for the cigar. Prost!
The Oktoberfest Beers - Märzen
The cigar begins wonderfully showing lots of heavy flavors while remaining medium in body. I am picking up a lot of bread and toasty notes, with some bitter chocolate, earth, wood and and malty flavors. The cigar is burning beautifully and is really great with the beers. Throughout the first third all five beers were showing great flavors of caramel, malt, hops, toast, and oak, but they all differed in strength. I found that the Otter Creek was not as strong as the cigar and was being overpowered, but the other four were pairing nicely. At this point I am saying that the Sam Adams, Saranac and Spaten were pairing the best with the cigar, and looking forward to seeing where we go from here. You can see, from the picture above, the different shades of Amber the beers had, and as you can see with Otter Creek, second from left, it is the lightest.

As I got into the second third of the cigar the flavors of the cigar changed a little, but overall it was very constant. I think this cigar is really nice, but it really needs to be paired with beer to shows its strengths. The second third showed a lot of dark chocolate and oak notes up front, but it finished with a nice earth, bread and spice flavor. The second third of the cigar was definitely a lot better than the first third, and because of its increase in strength as well, was pairing even better with the beers. As for beers in the second third, I was still sampling all of them, but I was down to my final three which I mentioned earlier. At this point I think the Spaten is out of the race, and now it goes head to head with the Sam Adams and Saranac. I liked the Spaten, but I just did not think it was pairing as well with the cigar. It was at this point that my wife came out to see if I was still sober, and wanted to taste some beers as well. She sampled the beers and cigar, and found that I was right on with my pairing as well. The cigar was still burning perfectly and producing wonderful smoke as well.

I am in the final third now and the cigar is going strong. It is showing some nice chocolate, spice and bread flavors up front, but it also is showing that malt, earth and wood flavors from earlier. It is probably medium-full in body, but really balanced and unique. I have smoked cigars with beers before, but this is by far the best pairing I have ever had. I have finished most of the beers, well the ones I think did the best, and this has been great. Quesada Cigars did an amazing job with this blend, and I look forward to smoking it with other beers this fall. The cigar burned slow and cool all the way to the end, and when I put it down I was still tasting the wonderful flavors from earlier. A great cigar that was great with these beers. Now which beer did I prefer?
Oktoberfest Band
For drinking Märzenbier and smoking a cigar, this is the best choice, and it gets a 92. I loved the flavors that the cigar gave off, and I love that it went great with each and everyone of these beers. Sam Adams Octoberfest is probably my favorite Märzenbier, but with this cigar I am going for the Saranac. The cigar and beer paired so well together showing wonderful notes of honey, barley, malt, chocolate, toasted nuts and bread. It was interesting to see the flavors that this cigar gave with the beer, and vice versa. I don't think you can loose if you smoke this cigar with any one of these beers, but for my money I would go with the Saranac and have a treat. I think the Otter Creek was a little too weak for the cigar, Flying Dog was a very different style Märzen than I have had, and the Spaten just lacked a little complexity that was needed with the cigar. The Sam Adams was great, but it just didn't produce those unique flavors that the Saranac did with the cigar.    Really a fun cigar, and a great project that Quesada Cigars took on. It had to have been difficult blending a cigar to go with a specific style of beer, but they accomplished it, and did a great job. I look forward to my next Oktoberfest by Quesada and Saranac, and more importantly, I look forward to fall! Prost!
 
The Beers and Cigars

August 26, 2011

Cigar Review: J&D Temptation Maduro

Temptation Band
I really love finding a boutique cigar. There is nothing better than smoking a cigar that is not on the mass market and is only available at a handful of places. There are boutique cigars throughout the nation in stores, but I am talking about cigars that are not in all 50 states. Well I have found that with Temptation, the premier cigar line by J&D Cigars. I was fortunate enough to get in touch with David Insignares, the President of J&D Cigars and he was kind enough to send me some of his cigars for review as well. I have seen past reviews of the cigars and have heard great things, and I was eager to try them out. I immediately went to the J&D Cigars website after talking with him and was checking out their cigars and finding out as much information as I could about them. I was hooked right away when I saw that one of their cigars, the Temptation Maduro was a Nicaraguan puro! I am a huge fan of Nicaraguan tobacco, and I think puro cigars with all Nicaraguan tobacco can easily go head to head with Cubans. The factory that J&D Cigars has is located in Esteli, Nicaragua, and has several Grade 9 torcedores. The factory is observed by partner, Jorge Gil, who is Cuban born and has been around tobacco for most of his life. All the tobacco is grown in Esteli Nicaragua, and is Cuban seed tobacco as well. For this review I smoked the robusto and Churchill vitola. I know I usually smoke one size, but after smoking the robusto I went right for the Churchill. The robusto measures 5” with a 50 ring gauge, and the Churchill is 7” with a 48 ring gauge.
Robusto
Both cigars were beautiful in hand and incredibly dark. I didn’t feel any soft spots with the wrappers, and there were very little veins present in the cigars also. The cigars have wonderful aromas that are very pronoucned and show of rich earth, coffee and cocoa. Upon lighting the cigars, both greeted me with tons of strength and flavor. They are easily full bodied, and they are not kidding when they say these cigars are not meant for rookies. I am greeted with lots of earth, coffee, toast and cocoa flavors in both first thirds and they are very enjoyable. The cigars are burning perfectly even, and both have an incredible ash to them as well. So far these cigars have been kicking, and have caught me off guard with their strength.

When I get into the second third I begin to see a change in flavor profile from the first third, but both cigars are changing as well. In the second third of the robusto I begin to notice some cream notes, and the chocolate really steps up as well. There is still that flavor profile of earth and coffee, but cream and chocolate notes take the charge. The cigar is still easily full bodied, but very balanced. I am feeling it in my gut, but the flavors are so nice that it is not bothering me. The Churchill was quite interesting, and instead of going down that road I began to pick up some bread and hay notes that are accompanied by milk chocolate and orange zest. Both cigars have had positive changes, but I would say that I am loving the direction that the Churchill is going. It was very interesting and unusual to pick up some of the flavors that I did with a maduro wrapper, but very enjoyable. Like the robusto the cigar is burning great and there is a great amount of thick smoke. Right now I am steering towards the Churchill because of the flavors, but both are great. I should also mention that when I was in the second third of the Churchill the strength was somewhat less as well. Not medium, but medium full definitely.

In the final third now, and the robusto has come back to get me. Still showing lots of rich earth, coffee and chocolate notes, I am beginning to pick up a lot of spices as well. I am not getting some pepper, but there are some dark Asian spices present as well. The coffee flavors is probably more espresso, and also more prominent. It burns beautifully all the way down to the nub, burning cool, and remaining full bodied, a great robusto. With the Churchill coming to a close, it finishes showing lovely wood, toast, nuts, and citrus flavors with a hint of dark chocolate. There is some spice with the cigar, but not as much as the robusto.  Like the robusto it burned cool all the way to the end and I let it burn itself out.
Churchill
Both of these cigars were great, and were reallu surpsing. I did not think they were going to be bad, but did not think they would be this great! Each of them was different in their own way, but both equally great. I would give the robusto a 90 rating. The cigar is packed with strength and wonderful flavors. It definitely has more strength than the Churchill, and if that is your cup of tea that is your cigar. Though it has a great amount of strength it still has wonderful flavors which are what is really important, and never showed any signs of trouble while smoking. This cigar is a great robusto that full bodied cigar smokers will enjoy. Like the robusto, the Churchill was packed with wonderful flavors and strength, but unlike the robusto, it showed a lot more on the flavor side than the strength side. I give the Churchill a 92 rating, and would love to smoke them again in the future. When I am not reviewing cigars, I typically grab a robusto or corona gorda, but I might make an exception with this cigar and grab a Churchill. All in all, I love this line by J&D Cigars, and look forward to my next review on their other line, the Habano Claro.    
Band on Cigar
*Cigars for this review were given to me by J&D Cigars. 

August 25, 2011

Cigar Review: Zino Platinum Z-Class 654T

Zino Platinum Z-Class
I have smoked plenty of Zino Cigars in my time, and enjoyed them to a degree, but none of them really caught my attention. When they released the new, more affordable, Zino Platinum Z-Class I was interested to see what it was going to be like. I know the advertising was catchy, but most of Zino's ads are anyways. Well, when my birthday came around and I was gifted one of these smokes, and I was eager to try it. Each vitola in the line is meant to have a different level of strength and their own unique character, so that being the case, this review might not apply fully to other sizes. Measuring 5 7/8" with a 54 ring gauge the Z-Class 654T cigar is just awesome. It is covered in a beautiful Dominican Yamasa Rojiza wrapper that is just dark and oily, and has a binder that is Pelo do Oro from Peru. Underneath that unique wrapper and binder is a combination of Nicaraguan Jalapa Especial and Esteli ligeros. There are also ligero tobaccos from San Vinvente, Honduras in it as well. I love all the tobacco in this cigar, especially the Peruvian, and know that I am in for a treat with this cigar. With their cigars being made by Davidoff in the Dominican Republic, and the amount of tobacco they have access to, it is no surprise that this cigar is going to be special and flavorful.
Z-Class 654T
The cigar is just gorgeous to look at. It has a beautiful dark and oily wrapper that is silky to touch. It has a wonderful aroma of hay and earth with a nice fruity touch to it as well. The first third is really a lovely smoke. There is this wonderful quality of hay and grass to it up front, with a hint of earth and mild spices, but it finished with this red wine flavor that is almost a combination of a Montepulciano and Pinot Noir. It is very subtle and elegant, but still present as well. It really is an incredible first third, and I can tell you that this is one of my favorite Zino Cigars. The cigar is burning very evenly and producing thin smoke, very enjoyable.

The second third remains somewhat similar to the first third but is a little bit stronger. I am picking up  a little black pepper up front with some rich earth present, and finishes with a slight bit of hay and damp wood. The wine notes are still present on the finish, and it really adds a lot to the cigar. As I said, the flavors are still similar, but there was a reverse of the flavors and I liked the twist. You almost thought the cigar would finish with that hay and damp wood note, but instead you are surprised the wine notes. The cigar is still burning perfectly, and you can really pick up the quality tobacco in this cigar and the quality work that has been put into it by the torcedo's in the factory.

In the final third now and the cigar is becoming more full bodied. It is showing some lovely spices up front, predominantly pepper, and it also has a lot of wood and earth notes present as well. The hay and grass flavors have faded away, and the cigar is definitely showing more notes you would pick up from the Nicaraguan and Honduran ligero. I am not getting that wine flavor that I was in the first two thirds, and it is more rich earth and spice. I would say there is a a minor coffee flavor as well towards the end as well, but nothing to major. The cigar has definitely reached a mefium full profile and not the medium body that was present throughout the rest of the cigar. It burns perfectly all the way down to the nub, and I put it down when it gets a little hot on the draw.

Z-Class 654T
Reminiscing on this cigar I am really pleased with it. I have had the Zino Platinum line, and the regular line in the past, but it has never caught me like this blend has. I think this cigar is a little more pronounced than previous blends and definitely is something I would prefer. The cigar definitely shows class, and is a cigar I will smoke in the future as well. I would be interested in trying this cigar with a thinner ring gauge to pick up more Peruvian and the Dominican tobacco, but right now I am loving this size. I give this cigar a 92 and I look forward to picking up sticks of these in the future. I am sure there are retailers who carry this, but right now the only retailer I have seen who has been showing these cigars to customers and recommending them is Havana Phil's. No surprise though, Phil is the man!

Better picture of the band

August 24, 2011

Cigar Review: Montecristo No. 4 (Cuban)


Monte No. 4

When it comes to cigars, the Montecristo No. 4 is the most popular and bestselling cigar in the world. That might be different here in the United States, but throughout the rest of the world the No. 4 is the preferred smoke of cigar smokers. Some say it is the perfect cigar for every smoker, whether you are a true aficionado or a beginner. The sales for the cigar have always been incredible for Habanos S.A., and I can safely say that most Cuban cigar smokers have had it. I know I have had it on several occasions, and every time I have absolutely loved it. Measuring 5” with a 42 ring gauge, it is your standard petit corona. The cigar has been a benchmark for decades, and has always carried the traditional Montecristo flavors. Everything about the cigar is simple but it so elegant at the same time. I have had all of the petit coronas that Habanos S.A. releases, and I am wondering to see, based on my reviews, where this one stands to the others. Let us begin!   

Looking at the pictures you can see that the cigar is gorgeous. It has a lovely light milk chocolate color to it, and there are very little veins present as well. It is slightly soft in the hand, but has a beautiful triple cap to it. Holding the cigar to my nose I can pick out the aromas of chocolate, coffee and almonds. As I light up the cigar it begins very smoothly, remaining mild/medium in body. The first half shows notes of milked coffee, some chocolate, and a hint of vanilla. It’s a very elegant smoke that produces simple and constant flavors. There is an emergence of almonds and walnuts towards the end of the second half, but overall it is very constant and soothing. I know it sounds negative to say simple, but it really isn't an insult. 

As I enter the second half of the cigar, the strength increases some but it is still a soft medium. The flavors during this half show a little more chocolate and coffee bean notes, but I am still getting a soft hint of cream with that. Along with the chocolate and coffee notes, I begin to pick up on some oak and vanilla notes as well, which are awesome. The cigar stays flavorful all the way to the nub and I put it down before burning my fingers and lips. Throughout this whole cigar I never had one burn issue, and the smoke was very thick as well. Though it wasn’t as complex as some cigars out there it definitely had wonderful flavors and performed incredibly well as a stick.

I am going to give this cigar a 91. This is definitely a great cigar, and definitely perfect for in the morning or late in the evening depending on the type of cigars you smoke. I found the cigar was a little bit milder than most cigars I prefer, but still an enjoyable cigar for certain occasions. This is not an overly complex cigar, but what it lacks in complexity it makes up in pronounced and enjoyable flavors that are constant. It is definitely a great petit corona, packed with nice flavors, but I do not think it is my favorite Cuban petit corona. At the end of the day I would most likely be going with a Bolivar or Por Larranaga, but this has some more reliability than those. The Montecristo line is definitely a great one for Habanos S.A. and because of its flavors never seems to fail for anyone. If you have the opportunity to try this lovely cigar I would suggest you pick up a handful.  
The Famous Montecristo Band
   

August 23, 2011

Cigar Review: Graycliff 1666 PG

Graycliff 1666 PG
Earlier on this month I celebrated my birthday, and with that came great cigars. One of the birthday cigars I received was the Graycliff 1666. I have had the line before, and have found the line to always be enjoyable, but I have never reviewed the cigar in depth. For this cigar, the name 1666 is bestowed to honor the year in which the first structure was built on the present Graycliff Resort and Restaurant. The foundation of which is still visible in the current wine cellar. Unlike most of the other Graycliff Cigars, this cigar is not made in the Bahamas, but in Nicaragua. Usually I would worry about this with other companies, but I know Graycliff would not put their name on a cigar unless it was of the highest quality. The cigar begins with a beautiful and dark Jaltepec maduro wrapper from Costa Rica, an Ecuadorian Sumatra binder, and fillers from Brazil, Columbia, Mexico and Peru. It really is one of the most unique blends of tobacco I have had in a cigar, and I know that it will leave the cigar with a lot of complex flavors to taste.

The cigar begins with a wonderful aroma of leather, fruit, espresso and spices, and has a dark and oily wrapper. The cigar is firm in hand and there are minor veins present in a very dark marbled color wrapper. As I light up the cigar, I am greeted with wonderful flavors of cocoa, espresso beans, raisins and spice. Those flavors remain throughout the first third, but I begin to pick up some more flavors of dark stone fruits, and a finish of peanuts, wood and cream as well. I would say the cigar is medium in body, and is producing a thick amount of aromatic smoke. The cigar is definitely burning evenly and is very enjoyable.

When I get into the second third of the cigar, the flavors are still very present, and the strength is still medium in body. The flavors become more complex in the second third when I begin to pick up hints of molasses, chocolate cake and jam notes. It was a very interesting third, and the tobacco definitely is playing a part in it. There are some espresso beans, raisins and spice notes present, but they are more on the finish than right up front. When I finish the second third the cigar is still burning evenly, producing a great amount of smoke, and staying around medium in body. To this point, the first two thirds have been very enjoyable and I look forward to entering the final third and seeing how the cigar will finish.

I am in the final third now, and there is a return of flavors from the first third. I definitely get a lot of espresso, raisin and nutty flavors up front, but there is a nice cocoa spice finish to it as well. It stays fairly consistent all the way to the nub and  I put it down still burning cool. The cigar began to burn a little unevenly in the final third, and I had to relight it once, but to get this far into a cigar before having to relight a cigar is pretty damn great and not that surprising. The cigar finished medium in body, and was still producing a great amount of smoke as well.

Finishing the cigar, I am going to give it a 91. I thought it had some really wonderful flavors, and it was definitely an easy smoke throughout. I think any cigar smoker could enjoy this cigar whether you prefer mild or full bodied cigars. I loved all the unique tobacco in the cigar, and it really made the cigar as great as it was. I would say it is in the Top 5 of Graycliff Cigars, and is definitely worth buying a mazo of if they are on sale, otherwise I would go for it in a mixed sampler. I am a big fan of the Jaltepec wrapper from Costa Rica, and there is a reason why Graycliff uses it. The leaf definitely is packed with flavors, and can be used in many types of cigars. Graycliff Cigars are typically a little out of my price range, but they are great for special occasions or really any time! A must try smoke!
Graycliff 1666

August 22, 2011

Cigar Review: Avion 11 - Tatuaje Fausto

Avion
Only about a week ago I reviewed the new Fausto line by Pete Johnson of Tatuaje Cigars. In the review I mentioned that the limited annual vitola release he had this year, Avion 11, and that there would be an annual release for the next three years. He hasn't yet disclosed what the vitolas will be, but given this years vitola, it is safe to say they will be great. If you missed my recent post on the Fausto line, you can check it out here, Tatuaje Fausto FT127 & FT153. The Avion 11 is composed of the same tobacco as the regular Fausto line, but is unique because of the special edition vitola that it is. This year the cigar was released in a Perfecto Grande vitola and measures 6 3/4" with a 48/52 ring gauge. The cigar has the same beautiful dark Ecuadorian Habano maduro wrapper, and has a Nicaraguan binder and fillers. I should mention that there is special notice given to ligero fillers from Esteli and Jalapa in this blend, which is great because I love those two regions for growing tobacco.

The cigar is beautiful in hand, and has a very oily and dark wrapper that is silky and toothy. There are some minor veins present in the wrapper, but overall it really is beautiful in hand. Along with having a beautiful wrapper, the cigar is box pressed, and has a wonderful aroma to it. I love box pressed cigars, and I love box pressed perfecto's. The great box pressed perfecto out there is the Padron 1926 Serie 80th Anniversary, and they are incredible. I am picking up hints of spices, chocolate, leather and rich earth in my nose, and I feel that this is going to be a full bodied cigar. As I light up the cigar, I get blasted with the typical Pepin spice, showing lots of black pepper up front and followed with  hints of cocoa, earth and leather. As I get further into the first third, the pepper begins to fade away and the rich earth flavors become more pronounced. I would say the cigar is definitely showing the characteristics of a full bodied cigar, but more importantly it really is flavorful.
Avion 11
The second third of the cigar really shows a nice change of direction, and it begins with this wonderful flavor that is reminiscent of Oreo cookies. There is this nice cream and chocolate flavor up front, and it has a wonderful finish of coffee, nuts and toast. The Oreo flavor fades away further into the second third, but it still shows a wonderful compilation of cocoa, coffee, toast and nuts. The cigar has been burning perfectly to this point, and the smoke has been very aromatic and thick as well. I would say the body of the cigar really tuned down when I entered the second third of the cigar and became a steady medium in body than full.
Avion 11 Label
I am looking down at the final third of the cigar, and it is upsetting to know that this cigar is almost over. The flavors are fairly similar to the second third in this part, but the sweetness of the cocoa died down and it remained more nutty, toasty and woody. I didn't care for the first bit of the final third that much, but there was some hint of rich earth on the finish. I love the return of the cocoa flavors, but it was a little too late for me. The finish was somewhat dry, but still fairly pleasant and very aromatic. I smoked the cigar down to the nub, and right near the end, the rich earth flavors returned. All the way to the end this cigar burned perfectly and produced a great amount of smoke as well.

Looking back on this cigar, I am going to give it a 92. I thought the size of this cigar was great and really unique, but not as rewarding as the robusto vitola of the main line. The strength in this vitola is not as much as the regular line, but it definitely has some more flavors to it that make it unique. If I had to choose between the Avion 11 and the Fausto robusto, I would choose the robusto, but otherwise I would definitely pick up a box of these over the other sizes. I thought the first two thirds of this cigar were really incredible, and they did an incredible job blending the cigar, but the final third was its low spot. The final third is still better than some thirds I have had in cigars, but compared with the greatness of the first two it did not deliver as much. Maybe I wanted a bigger ring gauge towards the end, and less wrapper, but I don't know. It just lost some flavor and strength in the end which I would have preferred to have more of. Don't get me wrong, I will definitely pick up a couple singles of this cigar and hold on to them in my humidor for those times when I am looking for something a little special, but I am really looking forward to picking up next years vitola, and enjoying the robusto vitola in the mean time. You can't go wrong with this cigar!  
Tatuaje Fausto - Avion 11

August 20, 2011

Cigar Review: Emilio AF1

Emilio AF-1

I know I have said it before, but Emilio Cigars are on fire right now! I have not had a bad one yet and they are all really complex and flavorful. I have reviewed the Emilio AF-2 which was spectacular and the Grimalkin which was divine, but today I am reviewing the AF-1. Like the AF-2, the cigar is made by A.J. Fernandez in Estelí, Nicaragua, but it is a different blend than its counterpart. This cigar took two years in the making, and as a consumer I can say that it was worth the wait. One thing I love on Emilio Cigars website is that below the description, they have written…

“Due to our stringent quality standards these cigars are of limited production and supplies may occasionally be restricted.”

You do not see that often with cigar companies, if at all, and that is reassuring to me as it should be to you. That is a statement that says, the cigar you are about to smoke is of the highest quality and was not rushed to the market. That is a statement every manufacturer should say and more importantly do. Unfortunately they do not. The cigar is packed full of aged Nicaraguan fillers that I am sure AJ has picked from Estelí and Jalapa to begin with, and is then dressed with a Nicaraguan binder. Finally, the cigar is topped off and draped with a beautiful Mexican San Andres wrapper that has been slowly fermented under the maduro process. For this review I was given the toro vitola, which measures 6” and has a ring gauge of 50.
AF-1
The cigar is wonderful in hand and very dark. It is very firm to touch and not very oily but not too dry. It is a rough leaf in certain spots, but very silky in others. Holding it to my noise I am getting wonderful aromas of cocoa, spice, coffee and earth. I love San Andres maduro wrappers, and AJ makes great cigars with them as well.  As I light up the first third of the cigar, it is very pronounced showing lots of cocoa and spice flavors. There is a hint of toasted nuts and wood present, but it is predominantly that of cocoa and spice. In some ways I find it similar to the Gran Habano Azteca and Mexican Hot Chocolate, and believe me, that is a compliment. The first third remains similar with those opening flavors and has a lovely burn to it. The smoke is very aromatic and thick on the release.

When I enter the second third, I am still getting wonderful flavors and the cigar is still medium, medium-full in body. The flavor profile has changed in this third and the cocoa flavors are no longer at the fore-front. I am picking up a lot more nutty and spice flavors, such as Brazilian Nuts and Almonds, but there is also some Walnut notes present as well. The spices are of cinnamon and cloves and very pleasant. It finishes with a nice subtle hint of cocoa and coffee and reminds you that you are smoking a wonderful maduro.  The final third really brings the first two thirds together with the cigar and there is a nice blend of cocoa and nut flavors present, and a wonderful espresso finish. The spice is somewhat present but not as much so as it was in the first two thirds.  It has been burning perfectly since the beginning and the smoke was nice and heavy as well.

This was a tremendous cigar, and I am hoping that retailers start to carry these cigars more and more. I think Gary Griffith of Emilio Cigars is making some killer smokes, and each one is perfect for a certain smoker. I for one love the Grimalkin, but this one of the best maduros I have had of late along with the EP Carrillo Core Line Maduro. I give this cigar a 93 and would recommend this maduro to any maduro nut out there, which is a lot. I think AJ Fernandez is an excellent blender, and has a great factory, but the applause really goes out to Mr. Griffith for following the process the whole way through and choosing his blend. I look forward to future cigars by Emilio Cigars, and will continue to enjoy his current lines in the mean time!        
Emilio Cigars
Purchase Here

This cigar was gifted to me by Gary Griffith, President of Emilio Cigars

August 19, 2011

Cigar Review: La Palina Alison

La Palina - Alison
When you read or hear about the origins of cigar companies, La Palina has quite an interesting one in my opinion. La Palina Cigars first began in 1896 when Sam Paley started his own cigar shop in Chicago, Illinois. Once he opened his shop he opened a neighboring cigar company called Congress Cigar Company, and the name first product was La Palina, in of his wife, Goldie Drell Paley. Mr. Paley spent his time making the brand one of the best, and continued to do so when he moved the cigar company to Philadelphia in 1910. It was in that year that Sam Paley' son, William S, Paley joined the company as Vice President of Advertisement. While working with the company, he began to do advertisement on the radio for La Palina Cigars, and found the advertisement to be very successful. He eventually went into radio, and started Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). Eventually in 1926 the cigar company his father started came to an end and with it so did La Palina Cigars.

Eventually in 2008y, the son of William Paley and grandson of Sam Paley, Bill Paley began the journey of relaunching La Palina Cigars. During this journey he found himself in the Graycliff Factory with Avelino Lara. It was here that he found the cigar he was looking for, and so La Palina Cigars was reborn and released in 2010. The line is made in the traditional Cuban fashion as all are in the factory, and utilizes some of the finest and rarest tobacco available. The vitola I chose this time was the Alison. The cigar is your standard pyramid measuring 6" with a 52 ring gauge. The cigar derives its name from Bill Paley's wife, Alison Van Metre Paley, who played a large factor in encouraging him to relaunch the cigar line. The cigar features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and a Costa Rican binder. I imagine that the binder is a Costa Rican Jaltepec, but I can not be sure. The filler is a combination of Honduran and Nicaraguan tobacco, and I can say for certain that it is some of the finest tobacco from the prominent regions of those two countries.  

The cigar is beautiful in appearance with a marbled brown wrapper that is oily and silky. The aromas are of leather, stone fruit and chocolate. As I light up the first third of the cigar it begins very elegantly showing wonderful notes of cherries, chocolate, nuts, leather, wood and even some floral notes as well. I would say the cigar is medium in body, but because it is very balanced it is an easy smoke. There are mild spice hints at the end of the cigar, but nothing overpowering. The cigar is burning evenly and producing thick clouds of aromatic smoke as well.
Close Up on La Palina Band
As I enter the second third of the cigar it becomes somewhat more complex, and the strength increases as well. The cigar is a heavy medium in body through the second third, and has a nice long finish. The flavors show a large amount of leather and chocolate, but it also has a finish of coffee beans, cream, cherries and floral notes. There is a hint of wood as well through the second third, but it is not too much. The cigar was still burning perfectly at this point and was incredibly balanced. I thought the second third was tremendous and really hit some flavors which you don't see a lot of in cigars.

In the final third of the cigar now, and the strength has died down some. It is probably more on the mild side of medium but still very flavorful. I begin to pick up some jammy qualities to the cigar, and it pairs nicely with this nutty cream flavor. It has a finish of chocolate, coffee and leather, and is just perfectly balanced. The smoke is very thick and I am getting wonderful smoke rings. It is hard to say if this is my favorite third of the cigar, but I can say that it is a cigar that definitely grows on you when you are smoking it, and is incredibly unique and flavorful.

This cigar has so many wonderful qualities to it and at no point is it boring. The presentation is lovely and classical, but more importantly the cigar is wonderful. I give this cigar a 94 rating, and really would love to try it in a different size. I have smoked the Limited Edition vitola and loved it, and I bet I can safely say the entire line is great. Giving the price range I will not pick them up often, but they really are a treat for those special occasions. I know that some of the other vitolas in the line have a different wrapper, but I love this Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. I think the blend for this cigar is amazing, and you can see the Graycliff quality in it. Very flavorful and a pleasant smoke, it can definitely compete with many other cigars, and this is the first cigar that Mr. Paley has launched! I look forward to his next project and I already know that it will be amazing. If you haven't had a chance to try these cigars, go to their website and find the closest retailers, really a special cigar!
A Beautiful Band

Buy Here

August 15, 2011

1st Annual Digger Day (Unofficial)

This Saturday, August 20th, 2011, the crew at Havana Phil's will be holding the 1st Annual Digger Day. We will be lighting up the new Digger vitola of La Flor Dominicana at 11AM and not leave till we are done! Come on by and pick up the cigar to smoke, and pick out some other great cigars when you are there as well!

Digger
This massive cigar measures 8.5" and has a ring gauge of 60. Packed with an incredible amount of tobacco, the cigar is very full flavored and full bodied!

Do you have what it takes to smoke through a Digger?!

August 14, 2011

Cigar Review: Tatuaje Fausto FT127 and FT153

Fausto Advertisement
Pete Johnson from Tatuaje has had some great releases this year, but the line that really caught my eye was the Fausto line. The line was definitely made to be full bodied and full flavored, and if you see the ad for it, posted above, you begin to understand it pretty quickly. The cigar really caught my attention because of the story behind it and the advertisement, and when I was able to pick them up last weekend when out of town in Washington D.C. I was very excited. A while back, Pete Johnson was asked by a retailer in Hawaii to make a cigar for the shop and he did, the cigar was called T110, and became incredibly popular on the island and all the way back in continental United States. The cigar was made to be entirely ligero, or mostly ligero, and be limited to 200 boxes. The cigar was incredibly strong and very flavorful. The Fausto line is the same exact blend as the T110, and is now available at large.

The cigar begins with ligero tobaccos from Nicaragua, predominantly the Esteli and Jalapa region, and a Nicaraguan binder as well. It is finished with a Ecuadorian Habano wrapper that has undergone the maduro process, and I am not positive as to whether or not the wrapper and binder are ligero as well. I know that cigars need to have some seco and viso tobacco in the cigar just so that it can combust well and evenly, but I am not sure on the breakdown for this cigar. Looking at the cigar, packaging, cigar band and advertisement, I love everything about this cigar. It is very Pete Johnson,very bad-ass. As a friend of mine would say, it is very "macho!" With this line, I wanted to review the two sizes I picked up. Both were absolutely beautiful, and I was eager to see how they would be. I picked up the FT127 and the FT153. The FT127 is the robusto vitola in the line and measures 5" with a 54 ring gauge, and the FT153 is the toro measuring 6" with a 50 ring gauge. Both cigars were rolled incredibly well and had a perfect triple cap finish. The cigars were very firm and were both covered in a beautifully dark and oily wrapper that was both silky and toothy. The aroma on both cigars is similar, and has aromas of coffee, cocoa, leather and barnyard.

Fausto Band
As I light up the robusto, FT127, the cigar begins awesomely. It has a great amount of flavor to it and is very balanced. It is a powerful cigar, but it has so many great flavors present and blended so well that it is very balanced. I am picking up lots of spice, cocoa, nuts and earth, and it has a very long tasty finish. It is medium-full in body I would say, and it continues this way throughout the first third.

The toro, FT153, is a little different in the beginning. I found that the toro was much stronger and though flavorful, it did not possess the great flavors from the robusto. The strength was definitely full bodied in the toro vitola and the flavors more medium than full. I picked up a lot of spice, rich earth and barnyard in this vitola, but not as much cocoa as I picked up in the robusto. Both cigars great so far, but the robusto is winning by a hair.
Fausto FT127 (robusto)
When I enter the second third of the robusto, FT127, the flavors are still incredibly present, but the strength has risen some as well. I would say the strength is now at about an 8 of 10, instead of the 7 in the first third. The flavors present have changed some, and now I am picking up some hay, cocoa and barnyard. The spice is still present, but it is a finish to the sweetness from the cocoa. I really do love the second third of this cigar, and if the cigar continues down this path it will definitely be box worthy. The cigar has burned perfectly to this point and has produced wonderful thick clouds of smoke. It is not harsh at all, but balanced and easy.

Kicking my ass is a term that can easily define the second third of the toro, FT153. The strength is now at an 11 out of 10, and not letting up. I am picking up lots of wood, hay and barnyard notes in this third with tons and tons of spice. There is a beginning spice of pepper, but finishes of Asian spices, so it is still very refined. The cigar is definitely elegant and flavorful, but also so strong. I have only had a couple cigars this strong in my career, and none of them as flavorful as this. The burn has been somewhat uneven in this cigar, but nothing that is major and noteworthy. Like the robusto, there is a ton of smoke, but it is not as smooth as the robusto.

I am in the final third of the robusto, FT127, now, and this cigar has put me in a better place. I will not go out on a limb and say this could be the final cigar I smoked, but it is pretty damn close! The flavors and strength are just so perfectly balanced that someone who prefers milder smokes could smoke it. Well, maybe not that case, but those who smoke medium body smokes could. It is showing an incredibly amount of flavor and yet the strength is just amazing. It is not too over powerful, but it finishes somewhat stronger than the final third. I am picking up lots of flavors at the end, hints of cocoa, nuts, toast, coffee, wood, leather and barnyard. It is incredibly complex and very enjoyable. I smoke the cigar down to the nub, and as I finish it, I notice that the cigar has burned evenly the entire time and that it has burned smooth and cool. I am in such a good place. I really don't want to bother with this review anymore and just enjoy my time,thinking of that robusto.

To be blunt, fucking shit! I haven't had a cigar hit me this strong since I was smoking my first Camacho Corojo back in the early years of this sitcom. This cigar is rocking me around. I feel like I am sailing on the Nina, Pinta, and the Santa Maria! The spices are just blasting me on my palate, and the strength is probably closer to a 12 rather than an 11. I have stepped away from the cigar now, rallied myself, and told myself what my brother says all the time. "Cowboy the fuck up!" The flavors are showing dark notes of chocolate, wood, and leather, but it is the spice that is dominating. There are some toasty notes with the cigar, but overall this cigar has gotten to be a strength bomb. I smoke it down to the nub, and when I am finished, I get the biggest glass of ice water I can. Maybe it was me, and maybe it was the cigar, but this cigar was packed with strength and some really nice flavors as well.

Fausto FT153
I thought both of these two cigars were great, but in the end, I had to go with the robusto, FT127. I thought the robusto provided more flavor and balance than the toro, but it still had the strength that the toro had an abundance of. If you want a cigar that is all strength then I would go with the toro, FT153, but it just lacked some characters in the flavor department compared with the robusto, FT127. I mean the toro, FT153 was good, but not a cigar I could smoke everyday. All in all I think this is a great line, and I can't wait to try the 2011 Limited smoke, Avion 11. It is sitting in my humidor right next to my Digger (maduro), waiting to be smoked. With the Avion 11, he will be releasing a new size every year, but for this year he had a wonderful perfecto grande made, and I love this vitola. I have heard that it is a more balanced smoke and much more flavorful than strong, but I will see. I am going to give the FT127, robusto, a rating of 95 and the FT127, toro, a 92 rating. I thought both cigars were made incredibly well and at no point did they disappoint me, but the FT127 just brought a little more to the game than the FT1253. However, if you want a strong ass cigar then go with the FT153. It will definitely show you the meaning of strength and flavor!

August 12, 2011

La Flor Dominicana Colorado Oscuro - No. 4

Colorado Oscuro No. 4
Litto Gomez is always thinking, and his thoughts always end in success. At the IPCPR Show this year, he had several cigars that looked incredible, and luckily I have had the chance to purchase them all already at my local shop. I have yet to review them all, but they are in my humidor waiting. One cigar that particularly caught my eye was the Colorado Oscuro. Well to be honest, The Digger caught my eye first but we all know the reason for that. I would have loved to review that cigar first, but time was not really on my side. The Colorado Oscuro is the newest line in his companies portfolio, and is also very limited. Intended to be released twice a year, the cigar is definitely going to be of high quality and limited tobacco. The cigar begins with a Ligero Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper, and a binder that is a Sumatra leaf from the Dominican Republic. The filler is composed of Dominican and Nicaraguan tobacco, and I believe this is one of the first times Litto has put Nicaraguan tobacco in the filler. I know he has used Nicaraguan tobacco for a wrapper on previous cigars, but other than that I do not believe so. I chose the No. 4 vitola which measures 5 1/4" and has a ring gauge of 54. Like most of his limited releases, the cigar comes packaged in cabinets of 50, and is a simple but beautiful presentation.

I have smoked several of La Flor's cigars, and I can tell you that every wrapper is always gorgeous and oily, and the same is for this cigar. The wrapper is just amazing to look at, and it is incredibly oily as well. It has some minor veins present throughout but it takes nothing away from the oily toothy wrapper. The cigar is very firm in hand, and has a wonderful aroma of leather, raisins, chocolate and barnyard. As I light up the first third of the cigar it shows these pleasant wood and fruit notes, and has a finish of chocolate and leather. The beginning is almost of moist fruit bread and very pleasant. The cigar is medium in body and really not too strong as some of his other smokes. I have found that most of La Flor's stuff have a great amount of strength which I love, but they also have a nice bit of flavor as well. I feel that this cigar is different than others because he really went for flavor and balance than strength. The cigar still has some strength, but not as much as others. When I get into the second third of the cigar the strength begins to rise some, and the flavors really develop more as well. It begins with these herbal wood notes and finishes with this chocolaty, meaty and leathery finish. There are still some raisin notes present, but it is a little more darker than before.

The cigar is still burning perfectly and remaining very balanced as I finish the second third, and I am looking forward to the final third. As I get into the final third of the cigar, the strength has definitely risen once more and the flavors have become darker as well. Rich earth notes are present up front with hints of chocolate and spice, and the cigar finishes with the leather and raisin flavors that were present at the beginning. It is still burning cool all the way to the nub, and at no point did it ever burn unevenly.

This cigar was truly enjoyable, and I found it a nice change of pace from most of La Flor's works. I would give this cigar a 92 rating, and really consider it to be a great middle of the day smoke. It has enough strength and flavor to satisfy my palate, but it is not too overpowering as a possible first cigar of the day. I would be interested to see how this cigar is in different vitola's, but so far, I think this size is absolutely awesome. I think Litto has definitely got a winner here, and it really sparks my interest on his other new releases. For all cigar smokers out there who want something medium in body and packed with nice flavors, this cigar is for you and I think you will find it being your everyday smoke. If you have the money I would definitely go with a cabinet purchase, and find nothing but joy 50 times over.
Colorado Oscuro

Cigar Review: E.P. Carrillo Core Line Maduro - Regalias Real

Core Line Maduro
When I first head that E.P. Carrillo was going to be launching a maduro wrapper version to their Core Line, I was not disappointed but was curious as to how it would live up to the original blend. I am not a snob, but I feel that sometimes manufacturer's make cigars with different wrappers to increases sales, and because of this, the blend is not as good as it could be, because you are working to keep the cigar decent for both wrappers instead of having it thrive with one wrapper. I know this sounds bad, but that is how I feel. I am pleased to say though, that Ernesto and team did not do this with their maduro line. The filler blend is still a mixture of Nicaraguan and Dominican tobacco, but I believe has been tweaked some for this blend, and the binder is now an Ecuadorian Sumatra leaf instead of Nicaraguan. With all of these changes to the filler and binder we now look at the wrapper. There was debate as to what the wrapper would be on the cigar early on I have found out, and in the end they chose  the Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. I am not a huge fan of Connecticut Broadleaf, but there are times when it surprises me and it makes a hell of a cigar.

With the changes that have been made to this cigar, I feel that the cigar is really its own cigar and because of that E.P. Carrillo is still the man! I am all about the boutique company and he is definitely boutique! He is not selling out to please the masses and I love their cigars for that. The vitola I chose is my favorite, the corona gorda. E.P. Carrillo give it the title Regalias Real and it measures 5 5/8" with a 46 ring gauge. This size should give me a great amount of flavor from the wrapper, and still pick up a good amount of the binder and filler flavor. It is probably not the most popular vitola in the States, but internationally it is a loved size.

The cigar is absolutely beautiful and the maduro wrapper is of high quality. It is very firm in hand and rolled perfectly. The triple cap is wonderful and the wrapper has a nice dark chocolate color to it with a wonderful aroma of barnyard, licorice, spice and coffee. The cigar begins by showing notes of espresso, wood, spice and stone fruit and is burning medium in body, it is burning perfectly even and producing a great amount of smoke. I know I am only in the first third, but I am really enjoying this Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. The cigar thus far is very balanced and if it continues down this road I will be very pleased. I feel that maduro cigars are hard to make and that there aren't a lot of great maduro's on the market, but this cigar so far is absolutely amazing. As I enter the second third of the cigar the flavors grow in complexity and notes of chocolate begin to emerge as well. There is still a nice presence of spice in the cigar but it is accompanied by the stone fruit flavors that were present in the first third making it really balanced, incredibly harmonious. The espresso notes have become more prominent in the this third and the wood notes have softened some.

I found the second third of the cigar really grew from the first and because of this, the cigar is really showing wonderful qualities and great potential for aging. It is burning incredibly well and producing a great amount of smoke also, at no point has it become unbalanced, and is one of the finest maduro's I have had. I am in the final third of the cigar now and the flavors are playing off one another so much that it is more complex than ever, and my palate is in overdrive. It is really hard to pick out one thing, because it is all present, so I am noticing this concoction of nutty characteristics with chocolate, wood, spices, dark stone fruits and a finish of coffee beans. The cigar became more full in the final third but still showed great depth and complexity, really well made.

Wow, what a smoke. When I picked these cigars up from W. Curtis Draper I was told by an employee that it had that "traditional maduro flavor," and I see what he is saying. A lot of smokers say that with maduro cigars, and I think it really doesn't make sense, but this one really brought that statement to life.  It really had the nice balance and flavors you want in a cigar and the maduro played well with all the other tobaccos. At no point was it overpowering and unpleasant, instead it was perfectly balanced throughout. This cigar has all the great qualities you can get from the filler and binder, but the wrapper really shows its dominance  in this cigar and it has currently changed my opinion on Connecticut Broadleaf. Sometimes maduro's are either to full and a lack of flavors, or too sweet with one flavor throughout. This cigar showed how great a maduro can be. I am not saying that I am completely sold on the Connecticut Broadleaf leaf, but E.P. Carrillo definitely makes a great maduro with it. He blended this cigar so well that everything worked together incredibly well. He definitely took his time with this smoke and it shows. I am giving this cigar a 94, and really look forward to trying it in different vitola's. This is definitely. the best new cigar I have had since the Trade Show, and I am in love with the cigars E.P. Carrillo is producing. I smoke this and prepare myself for the 2011 Limited Edition.    
E.P. Carrillo Core Line Maduro

August 9, 2011

Cigar Review: Tatuaje La Casita Criolla HCBC (Corona Gorda)

I know, it has been sometime since a review, but when you are performing Habitat for Humanity for a week and then get a sinus infection, you really don’t have the time or ability to review a cigar. Well, I am back and better than ever and starting out with a new cigar to the market and my humidor.
La Casita Criolla
When I first heard that Pete Johnson of Tatuaje was making a cigar that was 100% Connecticut Broadleaf, I was very curious as to what the cigar would be like. I am not a huge fan of Connecticut Broadleaf to begin with, but the concept of an American puro was pretty exciting. I love cigars that are puros, because it really gives you a sense of that countries tobacco, and what better type of tobacco for America than Connecticut Broadleaf. I think a Connecticut Shade cigar would be like a cigarette, but with Connecticut Broadleaf you could potentially get some good flavors.  The cigar, La Casita Criolla, is Spanish for The Little Native House, and is one of Pete’s newest releases. I was recently up in Washington D.C., and when up there I went to town on his new releases along with some other new cigars by other manufacturers, but I will save that for another time. As mentioned earlier, the cigar is 100% Connecticut Broadleaf, and is available in three sizes. I chose the Corona Gorda format which measures 5 5/8” with a 46 ring gauge, and is my favorite size. Now, when you think of Connecticut Broadleaf, you think that all the tobaccos are going to be dark like typical Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, but this is not the case. Pete discussed this issue earlier on in the year and this is what he had to say…

“Not all broadleaf is dark. The wrapper will be but the binders and fillers are made up of broadleaf tobacco also. When Jaime (Jaime Garcia of My Father Cigars) buys broadleaf, he buys in hopes to get good dark juicy wrapper, some medium color wrapper like La Riqueza and good binder but the other leaf that doesn’t make those grades is sorted by size and texture for filler. Again not every leaf will look like the wrapper. It’s all 100% USA Conn. Broadleaf. Jaime also buys all priming’s of broadleaf. Seco, Viso and Ligero. This is also how we are able to sort the filler to do the blend on the cigar.”

The cigar has a nice chocolate brown color to the wrapper with wonderful aromas of cedar, spice, sweetness and toasted nuts. The cigar is rolled very well with a great triple cap. The wrapper is slightly oily and is very firm to touch. Upon lighting I am greeted with those traditional Connecticut Broadleaf flavors of cedar, nuts, sweetness and espresso, and those flavors continue through the first third. The body of the cigar is probably medium in body and is a very easy smoke. The flavors are somewhat complex, but overall the cigar is a very easy and a pleasant smoke. When I get into the second third of the cigar, it becomes more complex and I begin to pick up some jammy qualities to the cigar which remind me of a Zinfandel. I picked up some blackberries and dark cherries with some nice spices and a finish of wood, nuts and espresso. The cigar was definitely medium in body still, but had many more flavors than the first third.
La Casita Criolla
At this point, the cigar has been burning perfectly even and the ash has been holding on strong as well. So far I am enjoying this cigar and it is really a lot more than I thought it would be. In the final third of the cigar, the spices became very exotic and much more complex and present than before. The cigar does not grown in strength but there is a nice spice kick. I was picking up notes of cinnamon, cloves and anise. The nutty flavors were still present and I began to pick up some chocolaty notes on the finish with the espresso beans. The finish stayed cool all the way to the nub and I put it down with about a quarter inch left. La Casita Criolla was a wonderful smoke that burned incredibly well and was never harsh all the way to the end.
La Casita
This cigar really surprised me, and I am telling you that I think Pete has a winner here, and that this cigar will be very big in the coming months. There are a lot of people who are big Connecticut Broadleaf fans, and they will jump all over this cigar. This isn't a cigar that I will hold on to, but it is definitely a great smoke that I would enjoy again if I found a retailer selling it. I really loved the smoke in this vitola, and I imagine that the sizes in the lines will do very well for the flavors of the tobacco. None of the sizes are that large and that should give the smoker a really good since of the wrapper, and what Connecticut Broadleaf is like on its own. I would give this cigar a 93 rating, and recommend it to many out there. I know a lot of people who usually would not go for a Connecticut Broadleaf cigar who would love this. A really great smoke that definitely caught me off guard.