October 31, 2011

Cigar Review: Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Epicure Maduro


Hoyo

The other day I was smoking an Illusione ~4/2g~ and a Ramon Allones Gigantes side by side when I was asked by a customer what my opinion was on the Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Epicure. I immediately told him that I loved that cigar, and though I hadn’t smoke one in some time it was time to light one up. The cigar for me has always delivered wonderful flavors, nice medium body, and a great affordable price. The cigar did well by Cigar Aficionado in 2007, and I think they are just as great now as they were for the staff at Cigar Aficionado then. Though General Cigars and Altadis are not boutique manufacturers, the fact that they are so large gives them the opportunity to get some great tobacco that smaller manufacturers could never get. The Hoyo de Monterrey is one of the oldest cigar lines in the industry, and is one of the few lines that are made in and outside of Cuba to this day.

October 29, 2011

Cigar Review: Gran Habano VL Robusto (2005)

Gran Habano V.L. Robusto
Some might find it odd to review a cigar that is no longer in production, but you never know, some of you might still be able to see this in their cigar shops, some might remember the smoke, and some might still have some in their locker. These are the last three I have, and where I got them I do not remember. Gran Habano is one of my favorite boutique manufacturers, and I always find it odd that they fly a little under the radar. I think they produce wonderful cigars that are really flavorful and complex. They make a cigar that appeals to anyone out there, and they made one of my favorite cigars of all time Gran Habano 3 Siglos. I think they make the best everyday corojo cigar with the Corjo #5, and they have a great maduro in the Azteca. The cigar I am reviewing, the VL, was a one-time production cigar in 2005, and was limited to 250,000 cigars. I have had these cigars since the beginning of 2006, but these babies have had six years of rest.

October 27, 2011

Cigar Review: Diesel Unholy Cocktail

Diesel
I still remember in 2009 waiting for my Diesel Unholy Cocktail's to be shipped to me. I had pre-ordered them in advance, and I was going to get the first shipment of the cigars. It was one of the most highly anticipated cigars in 2009 for me, and it was featuring a wrapper that in years to come would be one of my favorites. I remember reading about the cigar, and its description, and I just knew I had to have a box. One great thing about the cigar is that it is being made by A.J. Fernandez in Esteli, Nicaragua, and at that time he was still the newest guy on the market making big news. Since then A.J. has released hit after hit, and some would say he is the new Don Pepin. I wouldn't say he is the new Don Pepin, I would say he is A.J. Fernandez, and I would say that he is in some ways a little more experimental then Don Pepin. Don't misunderstand me and think that I am saying Don Pepin is not that great, he is, he is just very old school, while A.J. is younger and more experimental. If you want to see who the new Don Pepin is, look at his son Jaime. In my opinion Jaime is the new Don Pepin, and as he has already proved that in what he makes. Don Pepin will always be a legend, and I imagine his son will be in years to come, but I believe A.J. Fernandez has the potential to really show smokers across the nation his talent, and is able to do so at such a young age.

October 26, 2011

Cigar Review: La Flor Dominicana Cheroot (Ice Pick)

LFD Cheroot (Ice Pick)
There are times during the week where I want to have a cigar during lunch, and I just don't have the time to smoke even a robusto. It is when this time happens that I grab a nice petit corona or something closer to a cigarillo. The cigar usually is between a 36 and 46 ring gauge, and measures between four and five inches. There are a lot of cigars like this on the market made by several manufacturers on the market, but just recently I was gifted with this fabulous cigar by Hal Rubin of Empire Cigars. Hal is a great guy, and I must say that my time with him was wonderful. He is incredibly friendly and knowledgeable and has a great store. If you ever have the time to stop in at his store in Raleigh, NC you should, they really have a great selection and it is a wonderful place just to relax and enjoy a fine cigar or two. You can check out my page on recommended stores for more information, and there is a link to their store as well.

October 25, 2011

Cigar Review: Casa Fernandez Copacabana (Robusto)

Copacabana
When I told Phil that I wanted him to get some Casa Fernandez Copacabanas  in to smoke, I immediately received some crap because of the name. He started going on and on about the song by Barry Manilow, and after a couple of minutes of me finally saying "just get them Phil" he did. I don't know if the cigar gets its name from the Copacabana club in New York City, Barry Manilow's song about the club, or a city in Bolivia, but I am excited about this smoke. I have heard great things about this cigar so far from representatives and other retailers so I thought it would be something worth trying. I really love all the stuff Casa Fernandez is making anyways, and I think they are one of the best manufacturers in the business right now.

October 24, 2011

Cigar Review: Padron Family Reserve No. 44 (Maduro)

Family Reserve No. 44
It has been a couple days since my last review, but I have been smoking some cigars which have not come up to par with the standards for Seth's Humidor. I don't see any point in reviewing a cigar that is not worth reviewing, and I see no point in saying something negative about someone else's work. There are a lot of cigars out there which I would say are solid 80's, and that is okay if you like them, but I am looking for a little more in a cigar. Anyways, after smoking through several cigars I finally reached for a cigar that I know has always been wonderful and never disappointing. In fact, this is the cigar I smoked on my wedding day, and it is a cigar that has been very limited in its production since the beginning. The Padron Family has provided wonderful cigars that I have always enjoyed, and this is one of their best. I figured I should review all of the other Family Reserve lines before their newest, and to do so I need to go back to the beginning. If you have still not smoked the Family Reserve 85, which is meant to honor the birthday of Jose Orlando Padron, I know you are as eager as others, and if you still do not have them at your local shop go in and grab this particular cigar in the meantime. I should note that the Family Reserve 85 was called the Padron Family Reserve 47, but they changed the number because of Jose Orlando's birthday. The Family Reserve 44 was first released in 2008 to honor their 44th year in the cigar industry and was extremely limited at the time. Their intention is to release a Family Reserve line every year until their 50th Anniversary which would be in 2014. All of the Family Reserve lines are sold in boxes of ten, and like all of their cigars are available in either a maduro or natural wrapper.

October 22, 2011

Cigar Review: Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Limited Edition 2011 (Toro)

Jaime Garcia's Limited Edition
As I have said over and over, 2011 was a big year for the cigar industry. I can't think of any manufacturer that did not have a big project being released, and out of all those some of them were destined to be huge. Don Pepin Garcia has become a household name over the years, and since his move down to his sons My Father Cigars Factory in Esteli, Nicaragua, they have been producing some amazing smoke. I have always enjoyed the cigars that Don Pepin has released, especially the ones with his names on the band, but it is in his son that we are seeing some real talent as well. It is no surprise really that Jaime is incredibly knowledgeable in tobacco and cigars, but it is a wonderful thing to see a son/protege really come into his own and take the ranks of the vanguard. We all know of Jaime's huge success with the original My Father line, and to me it is a benchmark cigar. It is a benchmark in the since that if you want to know what a truly great cigar is grab a My Father. There are several other cigars in that category I could list, but we are talking about the Garcia's right now.

October 21, 2011

Cigar Review: Illusione '888' (Maduro)

~888~ Maduro...yummy!
There were tons of great cigars that were shown at the IPCPR this year, and I was excited by so many of them. There was one line though that really just knocked me out of my seat and was eager to try them. I pay attention to all the new releases from manufacturers on the market, and with that there are a couple manufacturers that are on my A-List that I am always following closely, and this cigar and manufacturer was on that list. I am sure you could guess who they are from my site and this review, but I will be the obvious one and tell you that one of them is Illusione Cigars. I think Dion has been making awesome cigars from the beginning with Illusione, and I can't find a cigar of his that I would not buy a box of. I know he has a great relationship with Casa Fernandez and Raices Cubanas, and because of that he is able to use such great tobacco. This year one of his newest blends was an addition to the core Illusione line with a maduro wrapper, Illusione Maduro. He isn't releasing a maduro wrapper on all the vitola in the line, and currently there are only five that will be available in a corojo and maduro wrapper. (The vitolas are the ~88~, ~888~, ~cg4~, ~mj12~ and the ~hl~.) The great thing about that is that all those sizes are my favorite from the line, so I can smoke my favorite sizes in two wrappers. I am typically not one who likes cigars that have several wrappers for a line with the same blend, but in this case I am shutting the hell up.

October 20, 2011

Cigar Review: Alec Bradley Black Market (Toro)

Alec Bradley Black Market Toro
Alan Rubin really got Alec Bradley Cigars on the map when he released the Tempus years ago, and since then he has been rolling out great cigars right after another. This year he launched two new lines, and the first to be released is The Black Market. To begin with the cigar comes packaged in a box that looks like a weapon crate you would find in any war torn country, and it fits the name perfectly. Alec Bradley Cigars changed their logo this year, and it now features a crown on top of the letters AB. Along with a logo change they took a new spin with their advertisement and other marketing aspects, and I find that they are now in the middle between the conservative manufacturers and the new and young manufacturers. Recently Alec Bradley has been having Casa Fernandez make most of their cigars at their Honduran factory of Raices Cubanas, but Alan Rubin went back to an old partnership with this cigar and has it being made by Nestor Plasencia in his Danli, Honduras factory, Tabacos de Oriente.

October 19, 2011

Cigar Review: Sol Cubano Cuban Cabinet No. 4

Sol Cubano Cuban Cabinet No. 4
Finding an everyday cigar that is constantly going to deliver tons of flavor and be incredibly affordable can be pretty tricky. Of course everyone has a different idea on what an everyday cigar is, and that all depends on the pricing and the cigar itself. When I look for an everyday cigar I look for a cigar that is under $5, packed with wonderful flavors, and is typically a short robusto or a corona vitola. With that being said I found the best everyday cigar a little over three years ago and it still is a bomb. If you have never tried the Sol Cubano Cuban Cabinet line then you are missing out, and I strongly suggest you go to Cigars International or Cigar.com and pick up a box. The most expensive box is around $90, and if you want to spend a little more you can get a 10 count box of culebras for $120, that is 30 cigars at $4 a stick. If you are curious, the culebras do rock! My favorite vitola in the line is the No. 4.

October 18, 2011

Cigar Review: Undercrown by Drew Estate (Belicoso)

Undercrown Belicoso, great looking cigar.
It is safe to say that the Liga Privada lines/brand are one of the most popular brands on the market. I remember when it was first released in 2007, and it was still a low profile cigar on the market. In fact, I remember in 2008 when I was up in Bethlehem, PA at Cigars International and the No. 9 was still no where near as popular as it is now. I believe I had my first No. 9 in the Cigars International Super Store while taking with Marvin Samel about the SCHIP tax, great guy by the way! Throughout the years, the Liga Privada lines have become comparable to Fuente Fuente Opus X in the fact that you can never really get them, and when retailers get the cigars in, they are gone as soon as they got there.

October 17, 2011

Cigar Review: Master by Carlos Toraño Churchill

Master by Carlos Toraño
The Toraño Family has been making great cigars for sometime now, and they have definitely been involved with many other manufacturers making cigars as well, but there recent smokes in my opinion have been some of their best work. Their newest line Master has definitely got a lot of attention from cigar smokers across the States, and I found that it was about time that I finally review it.The Toraño Family has been involved in cigars for many years now, back before the Embargo in Cuba, and I am glad to see that their family is still continuing a great tradition and making wonderful cigars in Nicaragua and Honduras. The newest line Master is really a treasure in my opinion, because it is one of two cigars on the market that directly gives credit to those companies master blender. The Master was created by Charlie Toraño and Felipe Sosa, and from what I have heard and read, the two worked very close together for some time to be able to create the masterpiece that the cigar is.

October 14, 2011

Cigar Review: 601 La Bomba Napalm

601 La Bomba Napalm
EO Brands is one of those cigar companies that is known, but keeps a rather low profile for some reason. They have been making cigars for many years now, and I have always found them rather enjoyable, but they  really showed their presence in 2009 when they scored #6 in Cigar Aficionado's Best Cigars of the Year with the 601 Box Press Maduro Toro. Their cigars have always been made in Nicaragua at the My Father Factory by Don Pepin Garcia and his son Jaime, and you can't go wrong when working with a family like the Garcia's. The Garcia's are very knowledgeable about tobacco and also great at making Cuban style cigars. One interesting fact about the company is that Pepin makes their cigars, but half of the company is owned by Rocky Patel. The other half of the company is owned, and was originally founded by two old friends Erik Espinosa and Eddie Ortega. I wouldn't say there were not successful before, but ever since Rocky purchase half the company I think they have really become a market player. Their newest line, and one of the most anticipated releases of 2011 is the 601 La Bomba. The cigar is the strongest of all the cigars they make and is meant to be enjoyed by cigar smokers who really enjoy full bodied smokes. As you can get from the name, La Bomba is Spanish for "the bomb," and this cigar is definitely that. The line is a Nicaraguan puro, with a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper, and from what I have been told is packed with tons of ligero. The cigar comes packaged in 10 count boxes, and is available at a great price.    

October 12, 2011

Cigar Review: Fuente Fuente Opus X Figurado (Cigar Family Charitable Foundation Dinner 2011)

Cigar Family Charitable Foundation
When you are able to buy two great cigars, and have 100% of that sale go to charity, you know the charity is the real thing. The Fuente and Newman Family have been showing their greatness and humanity since 2001 with the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation, and with the help of so many people they are able to continue this wonderful act. The Cigar Family Charitable Foundation is really a great organization that does so much for children in the surrounding community of the Fuente's and Newman's facilities in the Dominican Republic, and if you haven't had the pleasure of attending an event, or being a retailer and hosting the event you really should. Check out the website and do your part in playing a positive factor in these children's lives. (Cigar Family Charitable Foundation website)

Last Monday I had the fortune of attending a Toast Across America Dinner hosted by Havana Phil's Cigar Company and Mark's, and what an evening it was. We all enjoyed a wonderful meal at Mark's in Greensboro, NC, wonderful cigars, and were able to raise a good amount or the children of the organization in the Dominican Republic. While we smoked some great Fuente and Newman Cigars that evening, the gift of the evening was the 2011 Cigar Family Charitable Foundation Coffin Sampler. The 2011 coffin included two special edition figurados, that are not available any other way, and they were a Fuente Fuente Opus X and a Diamond Crown Julius Caesar, the Newman's newest cigar line.
Opus X Figurado
The first cigar that I will smoke is the Fuente Fuente Opus X Figurado. The Fuente Fuente Opus X line is probably the most sought after cigar in the world, and has become a legend since its initial release date in 1995. Quantity is limited on this gem, and it is released only a few times a year. The Fuente Fuente Opus X is the first Dominican puro, and is made at the Chateau de la Fuente. For sometime it was said that you could never grow a high quality wrapper in the Dominican, and that Dominican puros would not be practiced, but Carlito Fuente challenged everyone when this was said and look what he has accomplished. The tobaccos for this cigar are grown in the volcanic and rich soils surrounding the Chateau de la Fuente, and it derives its name Opus from the beautiful rosado wrapper that the cigar has. The Project for this cigar was called Project X.

Holding the cigar in hand it is absolutely gorgeous. The beautiful figurado has that Rosado color to it (reddish brown), and the cigar is oily and silky showing small veins throughout. I don't know the exact measurements of the cigar, but I would say it is around 6" and has a ring gauge at the foot which is around 58 decreasing to the head. It is constructed beautifully with a great cap and a beautiful nipple on the foot. Figurado's really are great cigars to smoke because you get a tight draw at first, and then you are greeted with tons of flavors from the filler tobacco when you are done with the nipple. While smoking the cigar down to a smaller ring gauge you begin to taste more and more of the wrapper, and it is a great way to get lots of unique flavors in each third. The Opus X has a great aroma, and it is showing wonderful spice notes, some chocolate, nice hints of leather, cedar and oak, and some hints of marshmallows on the finish.

As I light up the cigar I let it get past the nipple and a little way into the cigar before analyzing the smoke. Because of the ring gauge right now I am going to be picking up a lot of flavors from the filler tobacco, but as I get further and further into the cigar I will begin to pick up more notes from the wrapper. The cigar is showing a good amount of spice to begin with, and it is accompanied by hints of leather, stone fruit, wood and cocoa. The cigar is definitely medium-full in strength and very complex. I am getting a wonderful amount of thick smoke, and it is giving me great chance to blow smoke rings. So far the burn is a little wavy but it is nothing to bad.

When I get into the second third of the cigar I am beginning to pick up more flavors from the wrapper and the cigar is becoming more spicy as well. There is a lot of leather and spice up front, and the cigar shows some coffee, wood and stone fruit notes on the finish. I am not picking up as much cocoa in this third, but it is still there. I would say the cigar is now full bodied but very balanced and flavorful so it is not overpowering in any way. The burn has tightened up in this third, and it is near perfect now. The smoke is still thick and giving off a great aroma. I have always enjoyed Opus X's, and I have never been one to smoke them constantly, but rather in limited numbers and this cigar is definitely reminding me of how great they are.

I am in the final third of the cigar now, the ring gauge is now  between a corona gorda and a toro, and it is beautiful  The cigar is showing tons of spice, leather, cocoa and wood up front, and there are still hints of stone fruit and coffee throughout, but they are finishing flavors and very subtle. The cigar is very complex and flavorful, and remaining full bodied. It is still burning cool all the way to the end of the cigar, and I am really sorry that I don't have more of these smokes in my humidor. The burn was still great to the end, and I put it down with a little bit left of the nub. I continue to sit in my chair after smoking still tasting the wonderful flavors in my mouth and wanting another one right away, great cigar!
Fuente Fuente Opus X
Even if this was not a great cigar, I would love it because what it stands for, but this cigar was great. I am giving it a 93. The cigar showed excellent flavors, a nice burn, and a beautiful vitola. I don't expect anything less than greatness with an Opus X, and I have always found that they deliver that. Fuente Fuente Opus X cigars are always going to be in high demand, and they are great to buy, but I ask that all of you out there purchase these 2011 Charity Coffins first, attend a Toast Across America Event, or host an event for this cause. This is such a great cause, and something that can never receive enough support along the way. The more that give, the more that can be helped. We should all applaud the Newman's and Fuente's for making great cigars, but we should applaud them more for their compassion, kindness and generosity. Thank you Fuente and Newman Family for being great human-beings and doing the right thing. I am glad that I can help along the way with such a great cause!    
Toast Across America

October 11, 2011

Cigar Review: Brick House Short Torp

Brick House

Making a great cigar is a challenge in these times. Cigar smokers have become very knowledgeable not just in cigars, but also tobacco. Because of this, smokers are challenging manufacturers to make better cigars.  Smokers, not just me, are demanding cigars with tons of flavor, strengths ranging from mild to full and aged and exotic tobacco that adds unique qualities to a certain cigar. With all of that being said they are going to have a difficult time making a great cigar, and to make it even harder, put a price range on the cigar for under five dollars. Not many manufacturers could accomplish this, but the J.C. Newman Cigar Company has, and they did with a cigar that they first made in 1937, Brick House.

October 10, 2011

Cigar Review: Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 (Consul)

Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 Consul
I find myself shocked that I have never posted a review about this cigar, but it is better late than never. I should have posted this review in early September after hearing the news that Jose Blanco, who recently had left La Aurora Cigars, would be joining Joya de Nicaragua S.A. as Senior Vice President. Jose Blanco is a legend in the cigar industry, and I believe he will do well with Dr. Alejandro Martinez Cuenca, who is also a legend, and the rest of the Joya de Nicaragua team. Joya de Nicaragua S.A. is the very first Nicaraguan Cigar Factory, and it was established in 1968. Their company, like most that have been in Nicaragua for sometime has experienced its ups and downs because of the political environment, but to this day it is going strong and making strong cigars. Their cigars are made with some of the most robust Nicaraguan tobacco, and the company has been led by the infamous Dr. Alejandro Martinez Cuenca for sometime now.

October 6, 2011

Cigar Review: Thunder by Nimish (Toro and Robusto)


Thunder

What do you get when Rocky Patel asks you to make a cigar that is both flavorful and very full in strength? Oh yeah, and what do you do when he says that it needs to sell between five and six dollars? The answers is quite simple, Thunder by Nimish. If you are not aware of who Nimish is, his full name is Nimish Desai, and he is Rocky’s cousin and one of the top two guys for Rocky Patel Cigars along with Nish, Rocky’s brother. Thunder is one of the three new releases from Rocky Patel this year, and what a beast it is. I think Rocky really made his first really strong cigar when he made the 15th Anniversary, and this one topples that smoke. The cigar, like all of Rocky’s new smokes is made in Esteli, Nicaragua at Rocky’s new factory Tabacalera Villa Cuba S.A., which he co-owns with Amilcar Perez Castro. Amilcar Perez Castro worked for a long time with his father-in-law, Don Pepin Garcia, before going to make cigars with Rocky Patel, and since then I have loved Rocky's production even more than before. ...

October 5, 2011

Cigar Review: Pinar Del Rio Clasico Exclusivo (Toro)

Pinar Del Rio Clasico Exclusivo
I thought I should finish reviewing all current Pinar del Rio Cigars before taking on the task of their new releases. I will say, that I am excited about their upcoming releases, and after smoking the cigars they currently have on the market, I imagine that they will be just as amazing! Their new line, Pinar Del Rio Liga Especial Reserva Superior, looks amazing, and with the tobacco they have in it, I know it is going to taste great! Pinar del Rio Cigars is still relatively new to the cigar industry, and I think they are on the rise to be a really well known and great company. I love all the smokes they are making right now, and along with that, they are available at such great prices! The factory in which the cigars are made, La Fabrica, is quite small and run by three men, Abraham Flores and the Rodriguez brothers. I think La Fabrica is on the rise to be one of the best factories in the Dominican Republic, and wish the quality of cigars they are making, that will be soon. La Fabrica has been around for over 80 years but it is just recently that it has become the factory for Pinar del Rio Cigars. ...

October 4, 2011

Cigar Review: Sol Cubano Artisan

Sol Cubano Artisan
A salomon barber pole cigar... I'm in! Birthday present from my fabulous wife... I'm in! I am a huge fan of salomon vitolas, and I don't pass on any opportunity to pick some up and smoke them. I find the vitolas offer a very cool smoke, and with its unique shape, it gives you a great chance to really get awesome flavors from the filler tobacco and the wrapper. With that settled, we are now at the issue of the cigar being a barber pole smoke. Typically barber pole smokes are two types, Connecticut Shade and Broadleaf, but with this smoke we have an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper as well. Barber pole cigars are not that common to begin with, but when you make that smoke in the salmon vitola, you are definitely looking at a rare and limited smoke. Barber pole cigars can be made merely for decorative reasons, but occasionally, like this cigar, it is made so that the smoker is getting the opportunity to get a lot of flavors from several wrappers on the same cigar. Typically both styles, barber pole and salomon, are made by the best rollers in a factory because of the time it takes to make the cigar, and that definitely applies for this cigar. ...

October 3, 2011

Cigar Review: Trinidad Reserve Short Churchill

Trinidad Reserve Short Churchill
I will tell you up front that I am not one to smoke many cigars by Altadis or General Cigars. It is not that they are bad cigars, they are all made well, they just don’t appeal to me. I am more into the boutique brands, or in some cases smaller manufacturers that I don’t consider boutique or large manufacturers. Along with that, if I want to smoke a Punch, Montecristo, Partagas or Cohiba, I will smoke the Cuban version of those lines. With that being said, there is one line/brand by the larger manufacturers that I really like, and that is the Trinidad Reserve line. A couple weeks ago my local Altadis Representative Brad was in Havana Phil’s for an event, and I picked some of these sticks up. It wasn’t the featured cigar of the evening, but I wanted to support him and Altadis that evening, and this smoke has always been great for me. ...

Cigar Review: Graycliff Crystal PG

Crystal PG
Graycliff Cigars is a brand that I rarely smoke, but when I do, the cigars I choose I typically really enjoy. All of their cigars are made with aged and flavorful tobaccos, they are made in a great factory in the Bahamas, and they are made in the old Cuban fashion as well. How can you beat that? It was in 1996 that Graycliff Cigars really stepped on to the map when they were joined by Avelino Lara, the blender of many famous Cuban cigar lines and at one point personal roller for Fidel Castro. After retiring from Cubatabaco in 1996, Avelino Lara was hired by Graycliff in the Bahamas, and when he came to join them he brought with him his knowledge of cigars. He was with Graycliff from 1996 to his death in 2009, and created some incredible lines, one of my favorite being the Crystal. The Crystal line was introduced in 2003, and with this line the company emphasized how rich and full the cigar would be, and that it is aimed for the true connoisseurs around the world. ...

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