November 30, 2011

Cigar Review: XIKAR HC Series Habano Colorado Grande

HC Series Habano Colorado Grande
It is safe to say that a majority of you, probably more then 75% have a XIKAR lighter or cutter. If you do not have one currently, there was a time when you did, and you most likely will buy one of their products again in the future. I can't tell you how many XIKAR cutters I have had, and have, and how many of their lighter share that same story. Heck, just the other day I was playing around with their new cutter,  the 3D Mayan Cutter. It is absolutely gorgeous and worth every pretty penny. I know Havana Phil's has them, not sure elsewhere. Well back in 2008 that XIKAR decided that they would delve deeper into the cigar industry and launch their own cigar line. The line was originally called Defiance, but they changed the name shortly after to HC Series, the Defiance is now the HC Series Criollo. At the time XIKAR decided to team up with the genius Jesus Fuego, and decided to produce these cigars at the Segovia Factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. This is Nestor Plasencia's Factory, and they use that factory because Jesus doesn't have a factory of his own. To this day Jesus Fuego is still making the line for them in Nestor's factories. While the Habano Colorado and Connecticut are made in Nicaragua, I am reviewing the Habano Colorado, the Criollo version is made in Honduras at Nestor's factory there.

November 28, 2011

Cigar Review: Padron Family Reserve No. 85 (Maduro)

Family Reserve No. 85
If there is a family that needs no introduction in the cigar world it is the Padrón Family. Since 1964 they have been making cigars in Miami and Nicaragua, and are considered to be at the head of the pack by most. Their cigars have always done well with professional critics, and bloggers like myself, but more importantly they have been smash hits among cigar smokers around the world. Often my international friends ask me to send them Padrón's for Cubans, and in the end I always come out ahead because of their love for them. The company is so successful because they deliver a great product, and they have a great product because they are vertically integrated. I think the Padrón Family really came on to the map in August of 1994 when they released the Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series, and what a time it was to release that cigar. This was right during the Cigar boom, and to produce a product with such high quality was incredible. In July of 2002 they released the 1926 Serie, which was released to honor the companies founding father 75th birthday, José Orlando Padrón. It has been ten years since that date, and we are now celebrating his 85th birthday. Though José Orlando Padrón is no longer President, he has given the reins to his son Jorge Padrón, he is still actively participating in the companies business and is executive chairman of the company.

Cigar Review: El Triunfador Lancero Limited


The original band, Lanceros El Triunfador

“I like my women like I like my cigars. Tall and thin!” That is one of the few hilarious lines I have heard about the Lancero vitola throughout my smoking career. While I believe men agree with what is said about women in this statement, the Lancero vitola is not the preferred vitola for smokers. The Lancero vitola has been popular for some time across the Globe, sometimes known as Laguito No. 1, but in the States it has never really caught on.  Typically measuring 7 ½” with a 38 ring gauge the cigar really captures a lot of its flavor from the wrapper. It is incredibly tough to blend a cigar in this vitola, and when done well it can produce a beautiful cigar. One of my friends from South Korea says it best when he says that you can really tell the difference in the cigar flavors between a Cohiba Lancero and a Cohiba Robusto, between a Trinidad Fundadores and a Trinidad Robusto T. I have done exactly what he has said and it is completely true. If you have never compared a Lancero vitola to another vitola in a line you should. Go smoke a Tatuaje Seleccion de Cazador Especiales with a Regios and see the difference. I love a great Lancero, and I find that in order for it to be great it needs to have a fabulous wrapper.

November 27, 2011

Cigar Review: La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero "Digger" (Maduro)


La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Digger

"Holy shit." That is the verbal response most people get when they see La Flor's "Digger." Typically the face of a customer will be that of shock or humor when looking at it, and when they hold it in their hand their expression intensifies. I for one can't help but laugh when holding the cigar in hand, and often when smoking the cigar I have chuckles throughout. I haven't smoked many of them, less then five, but I feel that those equal out to about a box of any other cigar. In terms of a single cigar I think it was one of the most popular of releases this year, and that is understandable. The cigars had been on the market prior to the 2011 IPCPR, but it was there that retailers from across the nation really got to see and experience them. I for one do not care for cigars with a ring gauge over 52, but when you have a cigar this big you have to try it. The fact that it is available at only $10 is also amazing, and if you break it down by the size that is a heck of a deal!

November 25, 2011

Cigar Review: Alec Bradley Fine & Rare

The new Alec Bradley Logo
Blending a cigar is a difficult task, and when you begin to add more and more different types of tobacco to the blend it is even more difficult. On average, cigars have five to six different types of tobacco in the blend, but Alan Rubin of Alec Bradley took it to the limit and put in ten different types of tobacco. The cigar was originally blended in August of 2010 at the infamous Raices Cubanas Factory, and over the next year they worked on the production and marketing of the cigar for its eventual release. Alec Bradley Cigars has really come along way in its production of cigars in the past years, and there work at Raices Cubanas has shown some of their finest cigars, and cigars in general on the market. The Tempus  and Prensado lines have become staples in my humidor, and I often recommend them to other smokers. Anyways, when I first heard of the Fine & Rare concept I was very excited and eager to try it. The whole thing is a great idea for a limited and one time project, and fortunately I have had the opportunity to do so.

November 24, 2011

Cigar Review: Arturo Fuente Añejo No. 77 Shark Xtra Viejo (Reserva Superior Limitada)

Arturo Fuente Añejo 
Being located in the Caribbean leads to the potential of hurricane destruction, and in 1998 Hurricane Georges did that to the Dominican Republic and the Fuente Family at Chateau de la Fuente. That year the Fuente's had to rebuild their farms and buildings, and though it had an affect on that years production, they knew that they would see the destruction in years to come. In 2000 the wrapper that was typically used on the OpusX was not available because of the hurricane years before, but that did not prevent Carlito from making a great cigar. Carlito Fuente decided to purchase some aged Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper tobacco and construct a new cigar with the same rare and flavorful tobacco as the OpusX but with a different wrapper. That year was the birth of the Arturo Fuente Añejo, and soon to be the most limited of all Fuente Cigars. The line is only released typically around Father's Day or before Christmas, and because of that they go very fast. What makes the Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper so unique on this cigar is that it is aged for five years before use, and aged in cognac barrels. While all these cigars are limited to being released once a year, the most limited vitola in the line is the No. 77 Shark, which was released in 2001, a year after then initial line release.

November 23, 2011

Cigar Review: Rocky Patel Edicion Unica: May 28th, 2011 (Humo Jaguar)

Humo Jaguar
Like the Habanos Festival in Cuba, every year Honduras holds a cigar festival of their own called Humo Jaguar. At the festival manufacturers in Honduras present the cigars they typically make, but they also make a special cigar that will be smoked at the festival, and there is a friendly competition along with that to see who the winner will be. Their is a large panel who reviews the smokes and assesses at the end. You have manufacturers such as Rocky Patel, Casa Fernandez, Camacho, Nestor Plasencia and more taking part, and the result is a great time filled with great cigars.

November 18, 2011

Cigar Review: Nestor Miranda Grand Reserve

Nestor Miranda Grand Reserve
Yesterday I had the fortune of meeting and sitting down with the Miami Cigar & Company cigar rep for the North Carolina area, and what a great guy he was! Besides having a great conversation in regards to cigars, particularly those distributed by Miami Cigar & Company, he was kind enough to gift me with some great cigars as well. One of them was the new and eagerly anticipated Nestor Miranda Grand Reserve. Being a told loser, I find it entertaining to type Reserve and not Reserva. For so long now I have been writing Reserva in regards to certain names of cigars but Nestor decided to keep it all in English and finish it off with Reserve. (Wow, that was pathetic.) Anyways, I have heard nothing but great things about the cigar, and now I have the fortune of reviewing my first of them.

Cigar Review: E.P. Carrillo Edición Limitada 2011 (Dark Rituals)

E.P. Carrillo Dark Ritual
E.P. Carrillo is a name that needs no introduction in the cigar industry, and since 2009 he has been releasing cigars that have been amazing. To me everything he has released has been great, and I consider him to be one of the best manufacturers currently. I have every one of his lines in my humidor, and most of the limited edition and short run smokes as well. He has already teamed up with the team at Crowned Heads, and I imagine it will not be long before he is working closely with other manufacturers as well to produce their cigar. At his factory in the Dominican Republic he is making  cigars in the old Cuban style, and has been utilizing great tobacco from several regions and nations. Besides his three/four main lines he releases two special edition lines each year. One of them is called a Short Run, and the other is that years annual limited edition smoke. I have enjoyed every years limited edition smoke, and this year was the first maduro limited edition. Along with announcing that the cigar would be very rich, complex, and full bodied the Perez-Carrillo Family decided to keep this blend fairly secret and not announce the location of the dark wrapper. With that being said I begin my review of the E.P. Carrillo Edición Limitada 2011 "Dark Rituals."

November 13, 2011

Cigar Review: Fuente Fuente Opus X The Lost City (Double Robusto)

Fuente Fuente Opus X The Lost City - Double Robusto

If you thought the Fuente Fuente Opus X was limited, then you have not tried or heard about the Opus X The Lost City. I believe that the Opus X is probably the most well known name in the cigar industry, and more often than not when a cigar shopper walks into a retail store they ask if the store has any Opus X's. I have always enjoyed the cigars, but I never got into the hype of them that some have. Yes I always have a couple in my humidor, but I do not smoke them that often. They aren't special occasion cigars for me, but they more fall into the category of "I haven't smoked an Opus X in a while, let's light one up." The Opus X story is an incredible story to begin with, and it has been a cigar that has shaped the concept of tobacco growing and Dominican puros. With that being said, the Opus X Lost City takes us down a similar journey, but one that is more incredible in some ways, and if anything a spectacular addition.

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

Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Limited Edition 2011
3,700 cigars may seem like a high number, but when it comes to individual cigar production it is quite low. Heck, even 3,700 boxes of cigars is fairly small. That is why when I had the opportunity to smoke one of 3,700 cigars I was ecstatic. As you know, last month I reviewed the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Limited Edition 2011 cigar, but now I am looking at the Connecticut Shade version tucked away in the box. Jaime Garcia thought it would be entertaining to make a special and limited cigar in an already limited edition run, and that is why each box of 16 cigars had one of them be finished with an alternative wrapper, a beautiful Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper.

November 9, 2011

Cigar Review: Illusione ~88~ (Maduro)

~88~ Maduro
These past weeks I have been smoking the Illusione Maduro line, and I thought it was time for me to review some of the other vitolas in the that line, so I am back to review the Illusione ~88~ Maduro. If you want to see my past review of the ~888~ Maduro, click here. I found the ~888~ Maduro to be a great counterpart to the original line, and a great maduro smoke. The line has been incredibly consistent from vitola to vitola, and all of them have captured that core Illusione flavor with a maduro wrapper. I have smoked the Maduro line side by side with the core line, and to see the difference is truly incredible. The blend is the same for the filler, and the binder is also the same, but the difference comes in the wrapper. The maduro line has a beautiful San Andres maduro from Mexico, while the core line has a Colorado Cafe Corojo wrapper. The filler and binder are all Nicaraguan tobacco, and feature Corojo '99 and Criollo '98 tobacco.  

November 8, 2011

Cigar Review: Guillermo León (Belicoso)

Guillermo Leon Belicoso
When reviewing a cigar, one of the best things about the review is talking about the history of the cigar, and the company. La Aurora is the oldest cigar factory in the Dominican Republic, and was founded by Don Eduardo León Jimenes in 1903. The company has always been family run, and is now run by the founders great-grandson Don Guillermo León Herbert. La Aurora is the cigar side of the company, and is a part of the mother company Grupo León Jimenes. They are known to produce beers and cigarettes, most notably Presidente beer and Marlboro cigarettes. The company La Aurora has always utilized Dominican tobacco, but has also used tobacco from many other regions throughout Central and Southern America. One thing that La Aurora Cigars is known for, is their preferido vitola. They still makes cigars in the shape of torpedoes, and that was once the popular size. The company has made successful cigars such as the Cien Años, the 1495, the Preferidos, the Puro Vintage and the 107. These cigars have all been pronominal, and I have always loved them, but I found my favorite of their cigars in one of their newest line Guillermo León.  

Cigar Review: Gran Habano Corojo #5 Churchill

Gran Habano Corojo #5
The other day I was gifted this cigar by a good friend and smoking buddy of mine. I have smoked the Gran Habano Corojo #5 before, and have always loved them, but I found it time to review the original line. I will say that this is one of the best corojo cigars made. This is a cigar that you buy boxes of, and enjoy everyday. Every person I have ever talked to about this cigar has loved it, and if they have not smoked it they soon love it. To this day I can't find anyone who has not enjoyed this cigar, and if you are one of those people you need help. I am serious, this cigar is amazing! The cigar has been on the market since 2003, and to this day it is still rocking! I love Gran Habano Cigars as a company, and a part of that comes with the fact that they make great cigars. I look at their current portfolio, and I love all of the smokes, and I look at their past production cigars, and I wish they still made them. With all of this, forget my review, don't bother reading it, just go buy some of their cigars!

Actually keep reading, this is a good review.

November 7, 2011

Cigar Review: H. Upmann Magnum 50 (Cuban)

Magnum 50
If you haven't checked out the newest Cigar Aficionado you really should pick one up. It is one of the finest issues they have published in some time, and the main feature throughout discusses the City of Cigars, Habana, Cuba. Well as you can imagine, after reading through the magazine I had to reach for one of my many Cubans and grab one I have not yet reviewed. The H. Upmann brand has always been one of my favorite Cuban brands, and just recently Habanos S.A. has done a lot to get it more attention. Habanos S.A. breaks down its brand in several ways, Global, Multi-Local, Niche and Local, and the higher up the cigar is on that scale, the more production of that cigar. H. Upmann use to be at the Multi-Local level, but it was in 2007 that it moved up to the top at the Global level. In 2008 they launched the new vitola in the brand, the Magnum 50, and the following year the launched two of the vitolas in new tubes, the Magnum 46 and Magnum 50. Both cigars are among my favorite of Cubans, and the same goes with the H. Upmann No. 2 and the Sir Winston.

November 4, 2011

Cigar Review: Diamond Crown JULIUS CAESAR Figurado (Cigar Family Charitable Foundation Dinner 2011)

Diamond Crown JULIUS CAESAR
If you pay enough attention to the nonsense I write about, then you would know that I already reviewed the Fuente Fuente Opus X cigar from the Toast Across America coffin, and I am know here to review the other special edition cigar. This is the first time that I will have ever smoked a JULIUS CAESAR by J.C. Newman, and I have heard nothing but praise about this cigar. It has received great ratings from Cigar Aficionado, and more importantly, those who have smoked one at a Diamond Crown Cigar Lounge have loved it. The cigar itself is the newest release to the J.C. Newman brand, and is meant to honor the founder of the company Julius Caesar Newman. Besides the name of the cigar, the infamous bust of the Caesar has the face of J.C. Newman on the cigar band.

November 3, 2011

Cigar Review: Ashton VSG Wizard 37

The VSG
If I asked you when the Ashton VSG was initially launched, you would be shocked to know that it was in 1999. You would never think that a cigar that has been on the market for over a decade would still be as popular as it is. This is a cigar that is always in high demand, considered top of the line, and is over a decade old. More often than not it is cigars that are brand new that are very popular, and after a year or two they slowly fades away to the more recent releases. This has not been the case with the VSG, and that is also the case with the Padron Serie 1926, the Padron Anniversary 1964, and the Fuente Fuente Opus X. The reason for that is that all of these cigars are classics. These are cigars that I believe will always be at the head of the pack, and always deliver. I will not be surprised if in ten years this cigar is still as good as it is now. I have always enjoyed the VSG line, and beside the Ashton ESG, it is the best cigar in the Ashton Portfolio. I have reviewed the Eclipse vitola in the VSG line some months ago and I found it to be exceptional, but let us look at the Wizard 37. Check out my past review here.      

November 2, 2011

Cigar Review: PDR 1878 Reserva Dominicana Capa Habana (robusto)



You all know the companies I sing praise of, and Pinar del Rio Cigars is one of those companies. I have loved every cigar they have put on the market, and one great thing about their cigars is that they are all rather medium in strength but very flavorful and complex. They had three new releases this year at the IPCPR, and this is the first of those three I will review. The PDR 1878 Reserva Dominicana Capa Habana is one of the two new additions to the PDR 1878 line, and it is the second cigar in this line to be a Dominican puro. I have loved the PDR 1878 cigars since I first smoked them, and I have found them to be great everyday cigars. They are beautifully presented with great pigtails and a shaggy/closed end foot and they have great flavors to them which is the most important factor. I think Abe Flores is a great new addition to the cigar industry, and I am a big fan of the blends he is making with Pinar del Rio Cigars.

November 1, 2011

Cigar Review: Carlos Toraño Exodus 1959 Silver Edition (robusto)

Exodus Silver
Toraño Cigars have been in the cigar industry for a very long time, and not only have them made cigars for themselves, but they have been involved with many cigar companies along the way. Just recently we have seen a rejuvenation from them on the market, and I am ecstatic about that. Their two newest lines have been favorites of mine, and when I look back on their older lines, they are all great as well. My favorite line of the companies is the Exodus 1959. The line has expanded to include three different sub-lines, and each of them have been unique in their own way. The Toraño Family has always made cigars with tobacco from several countries and regions, very rarely puros, and they do this because they want make great cigars with the best tobacco. They believe that not one nation produces the best tobacco, and that each nation has great and unique types of tobacco.