Monthly Archives: March 2017

Cigar of the month March

Over the last month I reviewed 9 cigars and the cigar of the month march is:

Undercrown Flying Pig XLR with a 92 score.

March was the first month I rated a cigar below 80 points, but then again, the Undercrown Flying Pig XLR was a very pleasant surprise so overall it was a good month with two cigars that let me down.

Now as for the complete list of cigars I smoked in March for Cigarguideblog:

1) Undercrown Flying Pig XLR (Nicaragua) 92 points
2) Rocky Patel Super Ligero Lancero (Honduras) 92 points
3) La Flor Dominicana NOX Toro (Dominican Republic) 92 points
4) Kristoff Pistoff Corona Gorda (Dominican Republic) 91 points
5) Alec Bradley Black Market Robusto (Honduras) 90 points
6) Don Labalet Robusto (Netherlands) 89 points
7) Fratello Boxer Torpedo (Nicaragua) 89 points
8) Viaje Circa 45 #1 Robusto (Dominican Republic) 83 points
9) Plasencia Reserva Organica Limitada 2001 Torpedo (Nicaragua) 77 points

The Undercrown Flying Pig was a huge surprise as it was not the gimmick I suspected it was.

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La Flor Dominicana La Nox

Now here I will talk about my previous employer and job again as mentioned in so many of my recent reviews and that’s because I met a lot of great industry people and learned a lot in my 5 years at The Longfiller Company. One of the people I met are the ultimate gentleman Litto Gomez and his son Tony. First time I met Litto was when he came to The Netherlands when The Longfiller Company was distributing La Flor Dominicana and on my yearly vacation to Florida I always went for lunch with Litto, who made time in his weekends just for me & my friends even though his weekends are sacred family time, something I am grateful for. On one of those lunches he brought his sons Litto Jr and Anthony. Tony just started working for his father at the factory in the Dominican and wasn’t involved in the blending process when we met. We had a great lunch at the rooftop of a nice restaurant somewhere in Miami, it was a memorable lunch.


Now for some reason the La Flor Dominicana sales came to a stop, it was like hitting a brick wall and both me and my boss didn’t have a clue why. The quality of the cigars was good as always, the price didn’t change so why the sales came to a stop was a huge mystery and my employer decided not to order anymore, the last new release of La Flor Dominicana we ordered was the Chapter one. The whole sales stop killed the professional relationship, that was so good before that Litto even made a limited Meaner Digger for The Netherlands. Now on a personal level, the relationship stayed intact and I always have a great time with Tony and Litto at Intertabac. As a cigar geek I was bummed that I didn’t get to try all the new releases, and that’s why my former employer is a better professional as me because the geek in me would have ordered anyway and would end up with a warehouse full of cigars just so I could try them myself. Now truth be said, the last few months I worked for The Longfiller Company I did sell all our remaining La Flor Dominicana stock and the demand was definitely up from the consumer and therefore also from the shopowners. Time for La Flor Dominicana to get back on the Dutch market.


Since I read about the La Flor Dominicana La Nox, and seeing the mouthwatering pictures of this stunning cigar, I wanted to try it and at the Cigar Journal Cigar Trophy event at Intertabac, where the cigar won the award for best Dominican cigar of 2016, I had the chance to grab one. Instead of smoking it on the spot I restrained myself and kept it to review it. Today is the day of the review. The cigar looks amazing, the super dark and oily Brazilian wrapper is flawless and the double ring, black with light blue “La Nox” lettering on the bottom ring and the white moon and LFD lettering on the light blue clouds on the top ring are a perfect match to that dark and oily wrapper. The combination is just a 10 out of 10, if I only judged the cigars on their appearance this would be the cigar of the year for many years to come. The rest of the blend consists of a Mexican San Andres wrapper and Dominican filler from their own fields. The construction feels good, no complaints here either. The cigar has a salty aroma to it with some wood, not too strong and not the barnyard aroma that I smell so often in cigars.


I punched the thick wrapper and tested the cold draw, which gave me quite some resistance and a peppery oatmeal with a mild minty freshness. I lit the cigar with a soft flame. I taste a medium strong coffee flavor with sweetness you can expect from Brazilian tobacco and some oatmeal. After a few puffs I also taste some herbs and spices. After a centimeter I also taste a mild chocolate for just a second with herbs and some pepper. I also taste a little sweetness from the Brazilian wrapper. The flavors are thick, meaty and sticky just like I expected just from the looks.

After little more than an inch I taste the sweetness with oak and some citrus and some spicy herbs. Every now and then I also taste some cocoa. The backdrop of the flavors are earthy. After a third I get a flavor that reminds me of slightly salted peanuts with some citrus. The sweetness is gone, I still taste some pepper in the aftertaste. The pepper grows stronger. The cocoa shows up every now and then, just for a puff or two. After two thirds I also taste a mild nutty flavor on that still earthy undertone with some citrus. After two thirds the nutty flavor grows in strength.


The smoke starts out thin but plenty in volume but after a few puffs the smoke gets to a medium plus thickness. The draw is a little on the tough side, probably would be better if i had cut the cigar from the start as it improved greatly after I cut it with my Xikar xi2 cutter. The ash is white and firm. This cigar is full bodied, full of nicotine and full flavored. The burn is good, but I needed to touch up once to correct a little. The body to flavor ratio is great and there is plenty of evolution. The smoke time is two hours and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? If they become available on the Dutch market I’m definitely picking up a few and I want an empty box just as a piece of art for my man cave.

Score: 92

92

Categories: 92, Dominican cigars, La Flor Dominicana, Tabacalera La Flor | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Don Labalet Robusto

After I came back from Intertabac 2016, where I met some old friends, made some new ones, I looked at all the cigars that have been given to me and cataloged them in my online humidor at Stogierate.com. Some of the cigars have been reviewed in the last few months, some others will still be reviewed. The information on most of the cigars was easy to find but I had one cigar, Don Labalet Robusto, that was just no information to be found on and I tried hard but couldn’t remember who gave it to me. And with no information I mean literally no information online I just didn’t have a clue what it was, who made it and where it was from. Fast forward two weeks later, I got a message from Kevin Dooms who works at Gajane, a distributer of premium cigars in The Netherlands, I’ve known Kevin for a few years as his parents own a nice tobacco shop in Zwijndrecht and I used to visit them as a sales rep for The Longfiller Company. At Intertabac we spoke about me being unemployed at the moment, and that I needed a contract to bring my Singaporean wife, whom I just married, over to The Netherlands.


So Kevin, his employer Steph, his colleague Cees and I meet up for lunch at their office and after lunch they give me a cigar, guess what, its a Don Labalet Robusto. And then I found out more about the cigar. Gajane is not only active in The Netherlands but also in Sweden and France and in Sweden they also produce snus (known as dip in the USA) and cigarettes. One of their employees is a Cuban refugee, Osmel Lavalier Castellanos, and it turned out that he used to be a cigar roller back in Cuba. So now, next to his regular job at Gajane, he rolls cigars for and at events. Gajane Netherlands brought him over for a few events and the moment Osmel landed at Schiphol airport he asked “do you have cigar rings?” and that was countered by “do you have a name for the cigar?”. They settled on the name Don Labalet, as that is Osmel’s second name and had bands printed quickly. As far as the blend, I have no idea what tobaccos are used for this specific cigar.


The wrapper has a milky brown wrapper and a very flat head, that makes it great to punch. There is a little damage and I can see a much darker binder. The cigar has a double band, the foot ring is bronze colored with 3 golden stars and black lettering that says “Don Labalet” while the regular ring is black with red and yellow, a white D and a black L. The construction feels great and you can see the Cuban influence in the beatiful triple cap. The cigar has a mild sweet aroma. I’m smoking this cigar during the day instead of my regular routine of reviewing in the evening.


As I said, the head is very flat so I punched the cigar and the cold draw is great, I taste a mild spicy raw tobacco flavor. I light the cigar with my Ronson varaflame. The first flavor is a mild coffee, more latte than regular coffee. After a centimeter i taste a mild and muted cinnamon and a caramel like sweetness on top of a wood flavor. After an inch I lost the caramel but instead I taste a mild milky chocolate with the wood and the muted cinnamon. Halfway it’s a dry wood, muted cinnamon and a dominant caramel sweetness again. After two thirds the wood gets replaced by nuts, the cinnamon is gone and the caramel is still dominant. Soon after there is a herbal spicy flavor too with the retuned cinnamon and the caramel. The last few puffs are peppery.


The smoke is medium thick but I get a lot of smoke. The ash is beautiful light gray, almost white, with some darker accents and quite firm. The draw is perfect and the burn is straight. The cigar is mild to medium bodied and medium flavored, a great morning cigar that I think, would not be suitable after a dinner. The cigar is well balanced and for an ‘event only’ cigar not related to any brand this cigar surprises me pleasantly. The smoke time is little over an hour.

Would I buy this cigar again? That will be impossible since its an event only cigar and I don’t know if the same sort of tobacco is available for the next event.

Score: 89

89

Categories: 89, Don Labalet, Dutch cigars | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fratello Boxer Box Pressed Torpedo

The first time I ever heard of the Fratello brand was in may 2015 when I was visiting the Joya de Nicaragua factory in Esteli, Nicaragua and I spotted the brand. I didn’t know what it was, so I asked Juan Martinez and he explained that it was a private label for a gentleman named Omar de Frias. Fast forward a year later, due to the new then pending TPD2 regulations the company I worked for bought 2 boxes of everything of all the brands we distributed and Joya de Nicaragua included every possible size of Fratello and Sobremesa too just to be sure and have these cigars registered on the Dutch market. Included were two boxes of Fratello lancero, a size that we don’t get a lot but as a lover of that vitola I snagged both boxes for myself


In september of last year I met Omar at the Joya de Nicaragua booth at Intertabac, we chatted a bit and he said “let me give you my favorite cigar” and handed me this 6 1/2×52 Fratello Boxer box pressed torpedo. A quick look on their website taught me that the cigar is made with filler from Nicaragua and Peru, a Ecuadorean Sumatra binder and a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper. As the name suggests, the cigar is box pressed. The wrapper has a nice medium dark wrapper, to reminds me of a bar of chocolate, with a few veins that rolled in a way you don’t see them on the face of the cigar. The ring is great, not a ‘straight’ ring with a diagonal written text but a true diagonal ring with a vibrant red color, white letters and black lining. The footboard is black with red lining and white letters.


The construction of this cigar feels very good, I can’t feel any plugs or soft spots but then again, I can’t recall ever having a bad rolled Joya de Nicaragua cigar. The aroma isn’t strong and quite spicy, a bit like paprika powder and other kitchen spices, quite unique. I used a flat cut to cut the cigar. The foot band was stuck to the cigar so I damaged the wrapper taking the ring off. The cold draw is great and I taste spicy raisins. I use a soft flame to light the cigar. I taste roasted coffee beans and an earthy flavor.


After a centimeter the coffee disappears and I taste that earthy flavor with a nice dose of refreshing lemon. The lemon tones down a little and I taste a little bit of cocoa with it. The earthy flavor is still the base of it all. After a third the earthy flavor is all I taste. Halfway the coffee returns with a little bit of lemon. Slowly the cigar gets a little spicy with a little parsley and pepper. The lemon gets stronger again. The pepper is slowly taking the overhand. I also taste a faint cocoa again. Near the end I taste pepper and a bit chocolate with a little nuts.


The draw is good even though I cut the cigar very close to the top and therefore not opening up all smoke channels. That does effect the smoke, that could be thicker and more luscious. The ash isn’t very pretty at the start but the color and the structure gets better along the way, it’s relatively firm. The burn is pretty straight. The cigar is medium full bodied and equally flavored. The smoke time is two hours exactly.

Would I buy this cigar again? I liked the lancero better.

Score: 89

89

Categories: 89, Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, Fratello, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Kristoff Pistoff Corona Gorda

When I heard that Kristoff came out with a new cigar under de name Pistoff I couldn’t do anything but smile, what a great name. And I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them even thought this Kristoff blend isn’t available in The Netherlands yet. But luckily I had to meet up with Ward Hall from Kristoff Cigars at the Intertabac trade show anyway and I mooched one of these cigars in a 5 3/4×48 corona gordo vitola with the blend of Nicaraguan fillers, an Indonesian binder and a Mexican San Andres wrapper.


At my previous employer I was responsible for selling Kristoff on the Dutch market and I love some of the Kristoff blends, they are very well made and flavorful cigars for a very decent price here and because I like the brand the Pistoff was high on my “to try” list. Now I admit, I’m a cigar geek and everything I haven’t tried yet is on my “to try” with the exemption of Connecticut shade wrapped cigars and the big ring gauge sticks, it’s only a matter on how high the cigar on that list is, this one was pretty high. The cigar looks good, the classic closed foot that all Kristoff Cigars, either made in the Charles Fairmorn factory or the PDR factory, have and a nice and pretty long pig tail. The wrapper is dark and quite intimidating because of the darkness of the wrapper and the placement of the thin veins. The ring is pitch black with red lettering on a good quality paper, if I want to nitpick I can say that the back of the ring was cut crooked, but hey, its a piece of black paper, no lettering at that spot, so it doesn’t matter.


The construction feels flawless and due to the closed foot its hard to determine the exact aroma of the cigar, I would say a mild barnyard aroma. Because of the long pig tail I had no choice but to use my flat cut. It creates a smooth cold draw with just a little raw tobacco flavor. I used my soft flame vintage Ronson to light the cigar. I taste a strong bitter yet sweet coffee, very bold. The sweetness is nice and counter effects the bitterness. After a centimeter I also taste a mild milk chocolate taste.


The bitter coffee has gone, the flavors are now earthy with a spicy sensation on the tip of my tongue, a little tangy too. I also taste a wood and nutmeg flavor, and the flavors are quite dry. Slowly the wood gets stronger, the spices tone down and the tangy turns into a more recognizable citrus. Halfway the nutmeg is back with some cinnamon and some sweetness.


The smoke is a lot, it’s thick too and white. The ash is light colored and well layered. The draw is a little on the loose side but not too bad. The burn is pretty straight. This cigar is full bodied yet never too strong and full flavored. The smoke time is the only thing that could be improved since it’s only little over an hour.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, once they come to the Dutch market.

Score: 91

91

Categories: 91, Charles Fairmorn, Dominican cigars, Kristoff | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rocky Patel Super Ligero Lancero

A few years ago I ran into Rocky Patel at the Intertabac trade show and at the time Rocky didn’t have distribution in The Netherlands so over dinner with Rocky (and Abe Flores from PDR and Courtney Smith from La Paling whom we already distributed) I convinced Rocky to go with us instead of with the other distributer that showed interest. Soon after we introduced Rocky Patel Premium Cigars on the international market and we hit the market hard, with a lot of events with Rocky’s European marketing guy Kolja Kukuk and me. Kolja always brought other Rocky Patel cigars for us to smoke on each of his trips to The Netherlands so I smoked a lot of Rocky Patel cigars that weren’t and still aren’t available in The Netherlands.


One day he brought the Super Ligero, a cigar that made me frown my eyebrows for two reasons, first of all because with that name I expected it to be blended for strength and not for taste and second of all because I automatically thought “that is a twist to the double ligero name La Flor Dominicana uses”. Now the latter was quickly covered as false, the strain of ligero used in this cigar is simply called ‘super ligero’ so the cigar is named after the type of tobacco and the first was countered after I smoked the cigar, it was full bodied but not too strong and it became the Rocky Patel cigar I loved most. On the next trip Kolja surprised me with a handful of Rocky Patel Super Ligero lanceros, a 7 1/2×38 version of this Honduran made cigar with a blend consisting of a Honduras habano wrapper and binder and a filler of Nicaraguan and Costa Rican super ligero. I’m down to my last few so I need to write a review before they are all gone.


The cigar has a nice, quite dark, wrapper with a little shine to it and only a few minor thin veins running over it. The head of the cigar is topped with a single cap. The band is modern shaped with the round RP logo on the back and the words Super Ligero written in the length of the cigar, the ‘super’ is written in a very Miami Vice color green, Ligero is written in bigger letters in white on the black band. Next to that you’ll find a red banner with the name of the factory “El Paraiso Honduras”. The band is beautiful, modern and stands out in a humidor. The construction feels good but since Rocky Patel has every cigar tested before they leave the factory I expect nothing less than perfection from the brand. The aroma isn’t too strong and has hints of a stable with a cow urine drained hay. I use a flat cut to cut the cigar and the cold draw is nice and taste peppery with a raisin like sweetness. I light the cigar with my Ronson varaflame.


First I taste a medium strong coffee flavor with some pepper in the front of my mouth. The flavors soon changes to lime with some spicy flavor I can’t describe. Slowly the lime fades away and the spice changes to spicy green herbs. After a third it’s an earthy flavor with some pepper. Slowly I also taste some cedar too, with some nutmeg a little before I’m halfway. Right after midway the lime returns and makes a nice combo with the earth, cedar and pepper. The nutmeg disappeared. Somewhat later i taste some walnut too that slowly gets stronger. At the two thirds mark the nut flavor is less strong and then main flavor is pepper again with lime. Near the end the pepper gets really strong.


The smoke is medium thick and a medium amount but it gets thicker and more once I passed the halfway point. The ash is pepper and salt colored and quite firm. The draw is a little bit to tight for my liking but not too much to complain. The burn is straight but I had to relight once. This cigar is full bodied and full flavored. The cigar is dynamic, that’s why I love the thinner ring gauge cigars so much. The smoke time is little over two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Unfortunately they aren’t for sale in The Netherlands or surrounding countries so when I travel to the USA again I’ll treat myself to a box.

Score: 92

92

Categories: 92, El Paraiso, Honduran cigars, Rocky Patel | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Plasencia Reserva Organica Edicion Limitada 2001 Torpedo

Plasencia is a very big influence in the cigar industry, the company is now in it’s 5th generation and is one of the biggest tobacco growers in both Nicaragua and Honduras and has factories in both Nicaragua and Honduras. Only a few months ago they came out on the American market with cigars of their own, instead of just making private labels for everybody that wanted private labels done (they make cigars for Alec Bradley, Casa Magna is made by Plasencia but also different other smaller boutique brands like Wilson & Adams and many many more). Jonathan Drew calls them ‘the octopus’ in an endearing way, as everybody has got something to do with the Plasencia family. In Europe however they’ve been on the market with cigars produced under the Plasencia label for a while now and one of the two lines they had out was the Reserva Organica, the brain child of Nestor Andres Plasencia who wanted to make a cigar the way his ancesters did so without chemicals for pest control and no artificial fertilizer, 100% organic tobacco and so the Reserva Organica was born.


When the company I worked for started to distribute Plasencia cigars we got them with the beige ring, as pictured above. When I parted ways with my employer last june I had the time to catalog my huge stash of cigars, sort them out and put them in my online humidor at stogierate.com and much to my surprise I found 2 very old Plasencia Reserva Organica Edicion Limitada 2001. Now don’t ask me how I got them because I wasn’t even a cigar smoker back in 2001. The ring is completely different and the wrapper is darker than the current production. It’s like a nice medium roasted coffee bean. The cigar is 6 1/4 inch long with a 52 ring. The cigar has 2 rings, one simple black band with a bright yellow ring and white lettering saying “edicion limitada 2001’ and the a bigger yellow ring, slightly darker than the yellow used on the bottom ring, with the Plasencia Reserva Organica name written in curly letters and 3 drawings, the vulcanos, the sun and the sea and I think that is ment to represent Nicaragua, since this cigar is 100% Nicaraguan.


The construction feels good, no soft spots noticeble upon touch, there is very little aroma coming from the cigar and it makes me wonder if there is any flavor left since the blend is mild and the cigar is 15 years old, it could be way passed its prime. But I guess I’ll find out quick enough. Because of the shape I can’t punch so I have to cut. The cold draw is perfect but I don’t taste much.


I light the cigar with my Ronson varaflame and I taste a mild coffee flavor and a charcoal flavor. I also taste a little bit of sugar. The coffee and sugar disappear and I’m stuck with the mild charcoal flavor. After a third I taste a dry bark. Halfway the flavor changes to cedar but with a bitter yet mild creamy sensation on the tip of my tongue. Slowly but surely the cigar gets more bitter and it’s really unpleasant.


The draw is perfect and the smoke is medium thick and medium in volume, I’m not to impressed with it. The ash is beautiful, white, layered and firm. The burn is beautiful too, straight as an arrow. The cigar is mild bodied and mild to medium flavored. The smoke time is little over 90 minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, I love the idea of an organic cigar, less workers exposed to chemicals and less chemicals being smoked is nice, but the cigar was way passed its prime. And I hate giving such a low rating, I love the Plasencias, had great cigars from their factories so it sucks rating one of their cigars so low.

Score: 77

77

Categories: 77, Nicaraguan cigars, Plasencia | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Undercrown Flying Pig XLR

Now years ago, before Agio (Balmoral) and Drew Estate partnered up and decided to distribute each others products on their home market, the company I worked for was the official Drew Estate distributer in The Netherlands. Now, don’t think Drew Estate dumped us for Agio, months before Drew Estate and Agio partnered up we decided to stop distributing Drew Estate. Even though we stopped distributing we still maintain a very friendly relationship with everybody at Drew Estate, I’ve been at Jonathans house in Miami, I’ve been to the factory in Esteli twice and all after our professional relationship ended, so we are good.


Jonathan loves The Netherlands and because of that we were able to get something cool, exclusive for the Dutch market back in 2012. We decided to go with Undercrown Flying Pigs, the Flying Pigs made their appearance in the No.9 and T52 blends but were never done in the Undercrown blend. Drew Estate made little less than 200 boxes of 12, just for the Dutch market and they sold out quick. Being close to the fire I snagged a few boxes myself but up till today I have not smoked one myself, time to change that. These cigars have had almost 5 years of age to them. The Flying Pig is a unique shape, a short little perfecto 4 1/2×60 with a pig tail (how can you call it a flying pig if it doesn’t have a pig tail right?). The name comes from the early days of Drew Estate when people said Drew Estate would make it as a company ‘when pigs fly’ and the flying pig series is their answer to the skeptics. The blend is a little tweaked from the regular Undercrown and consist from a San Andres Negro wrapper, a double binder (Connecticut River Valley Stalk Cut & Sun Grown Habano) and filler from Brazil (Mata Fina) and Nicaragua (Habano).


The wrapper is gorgeous, dark, almost no veins, the pig tail is beautiful. The ring is the regular Undercrown right with the up side down crown with a lion head on top in blue and gold, the sides say undercrown but the nice detail is that on one side it’s mirrored and the back of the band shows the Drew Estate logo, the famous Manhattan Bridge. The construction is flawless and thats a testament to the quality of the rollers since this vitola is a pain in the ass to make according to Jonathan. The cigar has a strange but pleasant aroma, a medium strong aroma of a forest after rainfall in the autumn.


Because of the pigtail punching the cigar is out of the question so I used a flat cut to cut the cigar. The cold draw gives me the right amount of resistance, with a hay and pepper flavor. I used a soft flame to light the cigar and straight on I taste some coffee, not bitter though and not too strong with a little pepper and a little wood. Soon I taste a wonderful cedar, a warm cedar with cinnamon, nutmeg and cocoa. Slowly the cocoa is taking the overhand and I also taste some cumin. Soon the nutmeg comes back with some lime.

After a third I taste dry leaves, hay and a little citrus and a little salt. The cocoa is back too, mild and on the background. The citrus is growing halfway. The cedar returns after two thirds again with a little cocoa on the background. Near the end, after I used my nub tool, I taste a nice amount of pepper with the cocoa.


The draw is very good. The smoke starts out medium thin and that surprises me since all Liga Privada and Undercrowns I smoked so far were smoke bombs. The smoke slowly gets thicker though. The ash is snow white and dense. The burn is good, not razor sharp but good enough not correct the burn.

Would I buy this cigar again? I’m glad I gave a few boxes left. I always thought that this was just a gimmick cigar but I like it better than the regular undercrown. This full flavored cigar is full bodied. The smoke time is about 90 minutes.

Score: 92

92

Categories: 92, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaraguan cigars, Undercrown | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Viaje Circa 45 No.1

Now here is a cigar I know nothing about, well, almost nothing. All I knew was what Andre Farkas told me when he gave me this cigar at Intertabac 2016 and that was that this cigar is made for the European market and that it’s made by PDR in the Dominican Republic. Thank goodness for my (little yet sufficient) understanding of the German language and the cigarworld Dusseldorf website so I can provide some information on this cigar. The blend is named Circa 45, I don’t know if I would mention 45 in a cigar that is mainly for the German market but thats just me, and that it consists of a Ecuadorean Corojo wrapper, an Indonesian binder and Dominican fillers and that the line consists from 3 vitolas, of which I’m smoking the 5×52 No.1.


I met Andre a few years ago, when he came to The Netherlands to promote the Viaje brand and I was working for what was then his importer/distributer. That relationship well through, Viaje is no longer available on the Dutch market, but I still hang out with Andre for a bit when we run into each other at the Intertabac trade show in Dortmund. I know Viaje is available on the German market, I have no idea what other countries carry Viaje. The wrapper on this Circa 45 isn’t the prettiest, the color is a bit pale brown and it has a big ugly vein on the side of the cigar, the triple cap is nice though. The band is simple, it doesn’t distinguishes the cigar, at first glimpse I thought it was a Jose Marti or Punch, while the sides and the back are a copy of a Cuban Bolivar ring. I’m used to better rings from Viaje. The construction feels good, not soft spots, no knots and the aroma is a medium strong ammonia.


I used my butterfly cutter from Xikar and that created a loose cold draw without a lot of flavor. I lit the cigar with my soft flame. I taste a nice, strong espresso right from the start, slightly bitter on my tongue. After a centimeter I taste wood with a little lime on the roof of my mouth. I also taste a very mild creamy chocolate flavor. The chocolate disappears quickly and I now taste dry spices like nutmeg with some wood. It bites a bit in the back of my throat and makes my mouth very dry.


Past a third the cigar turns sour and bitter and it’s because I’m reviewing the cigar otherwise I would have put it away. I think Andre had an off day when creating this blend, this is so sub par for Viaje. The bitterness disappears halfway while the sour flavor tones down. Now it’s wood with some lemon. After two thirds I taste some charred wood with the lemon flavor that is gaining strength again.


The smoke is thick and there is a lot, the color is off white. The draw is a bit loose. The ash is light gray with black stripes and clearly layered. It is still firm though. The burn is great on this medium bodied, medium flavored stick. The cigar does has evolution and the ratio is oke. The smoke time is about an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, I had many great Viaje cigars that I would love to smoke again but this isn’t one of them.

Score: 83

83

Categories: 83, Dominican cigars, PDR Cigars, Viaje | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

A great book about Nicaraguan cigars

Somewhere in the autumn of 2014 my then employer Sasja van Horssen was approached by his friend and lifestyle journalist Marcel Langedijk with the question if we could help him setting up a trip to Esteli, Nicaragua for him and photographer Jesaja Hizkia and get him in touch with some cigar manufacturers for interviews and pictures in the factories. Marcel, who has been to Nicaragua more often, thought it was time that Nicaragua got a beautiful coffee table book about the cigar lifestyle too, a book nobody ever did except about Cuba and that the time was right for a book about Nicaragua considering the growing sales numbers, superb quality and the growing appreciation for Nicaraguan tobacco, not just in the USA but also in the rest of the world. Nicaraguan cigars dominate the ‘top 25’ lists the last few years and so a book seems appropriate.

I set up a trip, meetings at Joya de Nicaragua, A.J. Fernandez, Rocky Patel, Plasencia, Oliva, Padron and Drew Estate as requested, personally I would have added Perdomo as a major player too, Nica Suenos from my friend Skip Martin and back then I hadn’t met Noel Rojas yet otherwise I would have added him too and interviews with a few boutique brand owners, and I got to come along as I made all the appointments and had all the contacts, my then employer went along as translator as he’s fluent in Spanish. At our hotel, Los Arcos, I met Hector from Espinosa Cigars/La Zona and after seeing the La Zona factory Marcel and Jesaja decided on the spot that they had to be included in the book too, just as the Fe Y Alegria school we visited, a school that’s being supported by Pronica, a foundation that I helped to get started for with & for my then employer.

The name of the book is Cigaragua, a name that Marcel came up with after a few glasses of Flor de Caña. We were having some drinks and cigars at the courtyard of Los Arcos when Marcel just blurted out that name and immediately said “no, that’s to cryptic” but Jesaja and I were sold, perfect name. The next morning Marcel changed his mind and started to like the name more and more, and decided to go forward with the name.

The 12×12 inch coffee table book is not just about tobacco but also shows Esteli, Jesaja Hizkia took a lot of great pictures that are included in the book. The book is now available in Dutch and English and Spanish, German and possible French translations could follow in th near future. I know there are plans to release it in the United States as well but Marcel didn’t say when even though I asked, so if you want to know when the book is being released in your country contact Marcel or Sasja van Horssen.

Other than setting up this trip and proof reading the book before it went to the printer, I am not involved with the book, I gain no money from sales or promoting the book. But I like the book (and Nicaraguan cigars) so much that I wanted to spread the word about the book anyway.

Here are some pictures I took from the book (with my iPhone):

 

And I shot a little video: Cigaragua video on youtube

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