Monthly Archives: April 2017

Kristoff Classic Blend Toro

Last september, at the Intertabac trade show I ran into Glen Case and Ward from Kristoff, a brand that I used to represent when I was still employed at my previous employer and Ward gave me their new release for the European market, the Kristoff Classic Blend. Now my American readers might think “I don’t know that one”, well, its just the Kristoff Habano but somehow the Cubans got Habano trademarked so that can’t be used. A lot of brands like Oliva, Perdomo and many others use ‘Sun Grown’ instead but Kristoff decided to go with Classic for this Brazilian Habano wrapped cigar with the Brazilian Sumatra binder and Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers. The brand won an award at the Cigarjournal dinner too, so it was a succesful trip for the company.


Ever since I smoked my first Kristoff cigar I loved the brand, the cigars look good, taste good and are budget friendly priced but unfortunately we can only get a few blends in The Netherlands and this isn’t one of them so I saved the cigar that Ward gave me for a review and today I decided it was time to light it. The cigar, like all but one Kristoff cigars, are made at the Charles Fairmorn factory in Santiago, DR and I guess they are the best client of Charles Fairmorn as I don’t hear a lot about that factory. I know they make Epic cigars too, but that is just a very small brand here in The Netherlands and judging from the Social Media information I get Kristoff if a much bigger brand in the USA too than Epic.


The cigar has the same look as all other Kristoff cigars, that means a closed foot, which I love, and a nice pigtail. The construction feels good and the pigtail and closed foot, combined with the dark, shiny and oily wrapper make this cigar a looker. The ring is silver colored with brown details and beige letters saying ‘hencho a mano dominicana’ and ‘Kristoff’ while the smaller bottom ring says ‘classic blend’ in the same colors. The aroma is a bit manure, a bit horse and a bit freshly plowed farmfield, medium strong.


Because of the pigtail I had no other option than to cut the cigar. The cold draw is very good and I taste raisin and pepper. I used my vintage Ronson to light the cigar and I taste a mild coffee. After a centimeter I still taste the coffee but now with a nice metallic aftertaste. After an inch I taste wood with a little bit of nuts and some lime, in the aftertaste I taste a mild pepper. After a third the main flavor is lemon with some cocoa, cedar and vanilla, the flavors are subtle. The lemon gets a little less stronger while the cocoa turns into chocolate. Later the cigar turns full cedar with pepper and just a little lemon. A few puffs later I taste some lightly salted peanuts too. Slowly the pepper gains some strength. Near the end I taste nuts with autumn leaves and a nice dose of pepper.


The draw is a bit too loose and that leads to a poor amount of thin smoke in the beginning but after a few puffs the draw improved and with that the smoke too. I had to correct the burn too in the first centimeter but after that it was straight and easy going. The ash is beautifully white. I would call this a medium bodied, medium flavored cigar with a nice evolution. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, simply yes. Especially the last third is fantastic.

Score: 91
number91

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Categories: 91, Charles Fairmorn, Dominican cigars, Kristoff | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Kilo Toro

Yes I know, almost exactly 2 years ago I reviewed this cigar too, so lets call this a redux. I wanted to review this cigar with my 100 point scoring system before they were all gone so this was my last chance. Here’s the story, years ago I met Barry Stein when he worked for Miami Cigar & Co when I went to visit Nestor Miranda and Jason Wood at the office and we stayed in touch, actually, everytime I went to Miami Barry and I made time to smoke a stick or two so when I saw him post on Facebook that he was brining back his brand that he was working on before he joined Miami Cigar & Co I asked for more information.


All Barry said that the cigar was being made in Esteli, a town I would visit soon after the conversation and after a little push Barry told me who made the cigars but I had to promise not to tell before he publicly announced it. It was Noel Rojas, back in his old factory Aromas de Jalapa, nowadays Noel works from Tabacalera NOA and Barry was kind enough to get me Noel’s contact information. This all led to the introduction of the Rojas, Sabor de Esteli and Guayacan brands in The Netherlands 18 months later but that’s a side step. I visited Noel at the factory and he gave me a bundle of the Kilo Toro and Barry asked me for pictures because he had not seen the complete cigars with the rings.


Now I can’t tell you anything about the blend as I simply don’t know, but I can tell you all about the looks. The cigar looks cool, the wrapper is has a deep dark brown color with a light oily shine and no noticeable veins, the construction feels great and you can see Noel’s Cuban heritage with the triple cap. The cigar ring is one of the best i’ve seen, high glossy paper, pitch black with a thick golden outline that really pops, white chemistry drawings and KILO in golden letters. On the back you will find the United Cigars logo, think Route 66 with 3 white stars in blue and the classic American red & white stripes. The aroma is great, deep and it reminds me of the rolling tobacco my father used to smoke when I was a kid and before his health made him stop. There is absolutely no acidic aroma at all, no ammonia, nothing.


I decided to punch the cigar. The cold draw is fine, I taste a little raisin with a little spice and honey. I lit the cigar with a soft flame as usual. I taste coffee with some leather and jalapeño pepper. On my lips I taste a very mild honey. After a few puffs I taste pepper, a mixture of spices and some honey with a leathery aftertaste. After a centimeter I taste some cedar too.

After a third I taste some pepper, some cedar, some honey and a little cocoa. Halfway the cigar gets a little bitter on the tip of my tongue and I taste some spices, a little nutmeg, a little cinnamon, and also a little citrus. The flavors are quite dry, I need to drink a lot of water with this cigar. The cigar also gets a little peppery again. Near the end I also taste some freshness and the pepper is gone. There is also a mild nutty flavor


The draw is fantastic and the smoke is too, thick, plentiful and white. The ash is firm, dense and light colored. The burn is a bit crooked though but not too bad, so I don’t need to correct. The cigar is medium full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and 50 minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? That would be impossible as Barry has sold the rights to the name and the cigar has been discontinued.

Score: 94

94

Categories: 94, Kilo, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Cornelius & Anthony Daddy Mac Robusto

The cigar I latest highest this year so far is the Cornelius and Anthony Cornelius Toro, a pretty new brand that I got introduced to by my friend Courtney Smith, who’s working for them, at the Intertabac trade show last september in Dortmund, Germany. I smoked a few of these cigars during the show and actually when we were clubbing on friday night with Courtney, Steven & Todd fro C&A, Tony Gomez from La Flor Dominicana, Riste Riatevski from Jas Sum Kral and the ultimate party guy Rocky Patel I just lit up a Daddy Mac when the DJ started a 90’s hiphop set including Kris Kross Jump “The Mac Dad will make you jump jump, Daddy Mac will make you jump jump”. Gotta love the irony there right? But to cut a long story short, the Cornelius Toro is the best cigar I reviewed so far this year, lets see what the Daddy Mac does.


The Daddy Mac is named after Steven Bailey’s father, Mac, and everybody at the company calls him Daddy Mac. The cigar comes from another factory than the El Titan de Bronze made Cornelius since this cigar, just like the Meridian and Venganza lines, are produced by Erik Espinosa in his La Zona factory in downtown Esteli. For those who know Esteli and know La Zona probably agree with me that there is no better place to sit down and smoke a cigar than on the rooftop terrace at La Zona, with the overview of the city and the mountains on the background, watching the crazy traffic, sipping on a great Cuban style coffee or an alcoholic beverage and listen to the great stories told by Mr. Warmth Hector Alfonso. The 5×52 robusto is made with a Brazilian wrapper, Ecuadorean binder and Nicaraguan fillers. The cigar has a dark oak colored wrapper with a beautiful triple cap and just like the Cornelius it has a double ring, one brand name ring that is just drop dead gorgeous, white, black, gold, grey and very detailed with a second, smaller, black ring with gold lining and golden letters saying Daddy Mac.


The construction feels good and the triple cap finishes the looks of the cigar. The cigar doesn’t have a strong aroma, its a mild to medium hay aroma at best. I used my punch to cap the cigar. The cold draw is good, a little on the tight side but just a little. I taste a wooden and peppery flavor. At first I taste cedar with a little coffee. After a centimeter I taste spicy yet citrusy wood. It’s all a bit musty though, reminds me of Connecticut shade but it isn’t.


After a third cigar is spicy, yet a little musty with a base flavor of cedar. Halfway I also taste a little sweetness. I taste a bitter flavor on the tip of my tongue, which I don’t like too much. When I take a sip of water I taste a flavor that I can’t describe but I like it and it tones down the bitterness on my tongue. The overall feeling of the flavors are creamy. Close to two thirds I taste licorice, a flavor I like. The cigar also gets some pepper. Passed the two thirds mark taste more of the sweetness. The cigar finishes strong with nutmeg, cedar and pepper.


The smoke is thick and more than decent in amount. The ash is light gray, dense in structure and firm. The draw is good, not perfect, it’s slightly to tight for my liking. The burn is great, slow and quite straight. This cigar is medium to medium plus bodied cigar and medium plus flavored, well balanced and with sufficient evolution. The smoke time is about 100 minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I prefer the Cornelius

Score: 88

88

Categories: 88, Cornelius & Anthony, La Zona, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Inca Secret Blend Crystals Lonsdale

I got this cigar from a cigar distributer that asked me for my opinion so he can decide weather to carry these cigars or not. So I went online to learn something about the brand as I never heard of them. I did know that there is some tobacco cultivation being done in Peru, I once met a Dutch pensionado that made cigars in Peru with his Italian business partner, his cigars were okay but way to expensive for what you got. So the claim on the Inca Cigars website that they are the only Peruvian puro on the market isn’t true, Polman Recency is also a Peruvian puro.


What I read on the website is that Inca Cigars is partly owned by Mitchel Orchant, a name that a lot of European cigar aficionados will know as he was (or is) the face of C.Gars LTD and the factory is owned by Gennaro Lettieri which to me sounds quite Italian and what are the odds that two Italians own a cigar factory in a non traditional Cigar producing country? So I expect that the Polman Regency that I mentioned and smoked before is produced in the exact same factory. While browsing for information I got a little confused as the cigars are sold in the UK under the name Inka with a K and in the US under the name Inca with a C and Alec Bradley is handling the distribution in the US.


As for the cigar, its a 6×40 lonsdale btw, once I took it out of its cellophane wrapping I saw a very rustic wrapper with veins in a Connecticut shade like light color. The cigar has a pig tail which I like but the cap is huge and that combined with the rough appearance of the wrapper doesn’t make the cigar appealing. The construction feels good although all along the back I feel a ridge that probably comes from the cigar molds and as I wrote in the previous sentence, the cap looks horrible. The ring is beautiful though, with a nice blue background, white lettering, a picture of an Inca and golden details. It also says 100% puro and the back says “rich, smooth and satisfying’. The cigar has a very pleasant and quite full hay aroma.


I cut the cigar with a flat cut, the cold draw is a bit tight. I taste salty raisin with a spicy aftertaste. I lit the cigar with a soft flame and taste a spicy coffee with a citrus sour aftertaste. After a centimeter it’s mainly lemon like acidity. After an inch I taste some dry wood and a little bit of chocolate. After a third the cigar turns musty, like I’m smoking a Connecticut shade cigar. I also taste some acidity. After two thirds i taste some nuts, a little bit of pepper and still the acidity.


The draw is a little tight. The ash is silver gray and dense, but it isn’t firm. The smoke is medium thick and medium in amount. The burn is straight. This cigar is mild to medium bodied and medium flavored at most. The smoke time is an hour and twenty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, it might be appealing for the lovers of the milder Cubans but it isn’t a cigar for my palate.

 

Score: 82

82

Categories: 82, Inca, Peruvian cigars, Tabacalera del Oriente | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Oliva Classic Naturel Churchill

You might think “hey, it’s a monday so there shouldn’t be a review today” but when I upgraded my blog to a 100 point score and a set schedule of reviews I noticed that my first review I ever posted was on april 17 2007, so its exactly 10 years later and that deserves a vintage review. Years and years ago, it must have been 2008, the Oliva distributer for The Netherlands was blowing out old stock of Oliva Classics in several sizes, and by blowing out I mean literally dump prices. I snagged a few boxes in different sizes and still have a few of the Churchills left. And such an old cigar seemed the perfect fit for a review celebrating the birthday of the blog.Now the Oliva Classic might not ring a bell, but here’s the story. In 2001 Oliva released the Oliva Bold, a Nicaraguan puro in both natural and maduro with a embroided cloth ring. Those bands changed to paper rings and later the name changed to Oliva Classic. A few years later they renamed and repackaged the cigar into the Oliva Series O that we can buy at local retailers nowadays.  I actually have one of the cloth banded maduros in my collection and the infamous “toilet seat’ box with 6 natural and 6 maduro Oliva Bold churchills.


This cigar is so old and rare nowadays that even my friend Maria Jose, who’s the factory manager at Oliva in Esteli, Nicaragua has never seen them. I told her about those while at the factory and she was very jealous, I haven’t been back to Nicaragua since but I promised to save her one of these 7×50 Nicaraguan puros that are at least 10 years old. The cigar has a nice medium brown, mild shiny and oily wrapper with the veins flattened from the inside like Oliva always does, creating a smooth surface of the wrapper. The cap is nicely placed and the double ring looks great on the cigar when it comes to colors, its a brownish red ring with a double golden lining, a thick line and a thin line on both top and bottom of both rings and then a curly golden print on both, the bigger top ring has a golden O and Oliva Cigar Family and the smaller bottom ring says Classic. The back side of the main ring says hand made. Simple yet tasteful, beautifully printed on good quality paper.


The construction feels flawless and once I release the cigar from its cellophane jacket I instantly smell a barnyard manure aroma, when I smell more precisely It smells more like a horse. The cigar has a strong aroma for its age. I punched the cigar and got a great cold draw with a little peppery but sweet hay flavor. And what better way to light a vintage cigar with a vintage lighter? I’m tasting a pleasant, not too strong coffee flavor with sugar and a little woody bitterness. After a centimeter I lost the coffee. The flavors are dry and some nutmeg.


After a third I taste dry wood with a little milky chocolate and the nutmeg. Slowly the flavor changes to the ice tea I make with the Malaysian tea dust I bought in Singapore and that’s not because I’m drinking it as I drink water while reviewing. I also taste white pepper. Soon I also taste some sweetness. After two thirds I taste spices, a little pepper a little lime on a base flavor of cedar. You can tell this is a vintage cigar, the flavors taste old but in a positive way. With 2 inch to go it’s all nuts with white pepper and a little lime. The pepper is building up near the end to a very nice and strong Nicaraguan signature.


The draw is perfect, just the right amount of resistance. The ash is beautiful light gray and dense. The smoke is medium plus thickness and a medium plus amount too, beautifully white. The burn is good, not razor sharp but even enough. The cigar is medium to medium plus bodied and medium flavored. The cigar is well balanced. The smoke time is 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Impossible, even at Oliva they don’t have these anymore

score: 93

93

 

Categories: 93, Nicaraguan cigars, Oliva, Tabacalera Oliva | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Alec Bradley Sanctum Robusto

The cigar market has always seen new blends pop up, some of them stick around, others disappear after a time. Alec Bradley has been one of many companies that have released quite some new blends in the last few years and retired a few too. Only in the last 3 to 4 years we have seen the Mundial, Tempus Nicaragua, Nica Puro, Flithy Hooligan, Fine & Rare, Family Blend, Family Blend Lineage, Coyol, Texas Lancero, Post Embargo and the Sanctum show up plus a re blended and rebranded Maxx. I probably missed some and since Alec Bradley hasn’t been on the Dutch market for so long, only a few years, I don’t now what blends they retired.  Now new lines or brands, I have mixed emotions about that. As a cigar geek I love it, because I always want to try new stuff. And as a cigar salesman I loved it, since its pretty easy to sell something new, easier than building a brand to stay in the market long term but on the other side I hated it too as a cigar salesman because you simply can’t carry all brands, customers request cigars that are not in your portfolio and as a consumer I sometimes got tired of it as well. For example, when Viaje was introduced I hunted down all new releases until there were so many small batches I couldn’t keep up and lost interest, same with a Tatuaje, too many special releases so I couldn’t bother anymore and even Rocky Patel overdid it with his seasonal ‘spring, summer, autumn & winter’ releases. Its a shame because all mentioned brands I love.


Back to Alec Bradley, I worked for a cigar distributer and Alec Bradley didn’t have an importer when they were chosen to be the cigar of the year. The second that happened, I remember sitting at a parking lot refreshing my screen franticly as the #1 is announced late on the working day for us and close to the x-mas period where the company was closed, if one of our cigars was #1 I had a short time frame to push the sales up at the end of the year. Well, Alec Bradley Prensado Churchill, not one of ‘our’ cigars so no nice added turnover that week but we did reach out to them that afternoon and a few days later we were the official Alec Bradley distributer for The Netherlands and in the years after we built a good relationship. I always liked most Alec Bradley cigars but considered them to be a ‘middle of the road’ cigar, good but not fancy, except for the Mudial and the Tempus Nicaragua that I loved. I parted ways with my employer and decided to reboot my review blog, but reviewing demands a different approach to smoking, one with way more attention to the cigars than how I smoked for the past few years and when I did, it changed my mind on Alec Bradley a bit, the ‘middle of the road’ Black Market for example it a much better cigar than I always thought, but I only smoked it casual before. And that happened with more Alec Bradley sticks, so I can’t wait to try this Sanctum Robusto.


The Sanctum is made from Honduran, Colombian and Nicaraguan filler with a Costa Rican binder and a Honduran wrapper and its made at Raices Cubanas in Honduras. When I release the cigar from the cellophane jacket it feels silky. The wrapper looks good but has a long, thin vein, straight in the centre that I personally would have hidden on the back pure for the looks in a humidor. The construction feels good and the cigar is well finished. The cigar has an aroma that reminds me most of the kitchen when I’m boiling cauliflower and its quite strong. The ring is big, covers at least a third of the cigarand maybe even more. It’s black with white and a red Alec Bradley logo in the centre, surrounded by golden details and the test Sanctum in a beautiful font. At first glance the logo with the golden decoraction made me think of a fire department crest.


I punched the cigar and the predawn is a little tight on the good side. The flavor reminds me of old dark chocolate. After lighting the cigar with a soft flame I taste a nice coffee flavor with some cedar and far in the back even a little bit of dark chocolate. After a centimeter the cedar has completely taken over from the coffee, with some pepper and some milk chocolate with some vanilla. The overall flavors are creamy. Halfway I taste wood with a honey sweetness. Slowly the pepper gets stronger and I also taste a little nutmeg Abe cinnamon like spices. After two thirds I mainly taste the spices and some pepper.


The smoke is quite thick and the volume is fine. The ash is light gray. The draw is great, the little too much resistance I had in the cold draw isn’t noticeable after lighting the cigar. The ash is firm and the burn is pretty darn straight. The cigar is medium plus bodied and medium full flavored. The smoke time is and hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s a good cigar but I prefer the Mundial, Coyol and Tempus Nicaragua over this blend.

Score: 90
90

Categories: 90, Alec Bradley, Honduran cigars, Raices Cubanas | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Bolivar Especiales No.2 Exclusivo Alemania

This is the fourth lancero review and it’s a Cuban cigar, a German regional edition. When I started to smoke cigars and was uneducated I smoked a lot of Cubans and my favorite brands were H. Upmann, Bolivar and Punch. And I fell for the marketing too, hunting down regional editions even though it’s not made with limited tobacco, alternate blends, it’s just the regular blend is a limited made vitola, nothing special and nowadays Cuba seems to produce more limiteds than regular production cigars with the anejados, limiteds, gran reserva and regional editions. Once I realized the bull shit of the regional editions I stopped chasing them but when I read about the Bolivar lancero aka Especiales No.2 as a regional edition for the German market in 2009 I knew I had to buy a few as I love that vitola.


So once they were released I got in my car and drove all the way to Dusseldorf, to the biggest lounge in Europe with the biggest selection in Germany including a lot of shop exclusive cigars. Cigarworld is more than just a shop with a huge selection and a beautiful and big lounge, on the second floor they have a smaller lounge and a smaller humidor that is reachable either by a stair from the lounge or from a separate entry on the side of the building and that humidor and lounge are an official La Casa del Habano with all the unique LCDH releases. Since I’m not into Cuban cigars a lot it doesn’t mean a lot to me but I can understand that it’s a great move from owners Marc & Patricia Benden to include a LCDH at their location because it still appeals to a lot of people and now they get all the LCDH releases and way more of the limited editions than non LCDH shops. Completely off topic, but if you are traveling to visit a LCDH, check out the one in Almere, that is most likely the most beautiful shop i’ve seen in my life, their downstairs lounge is the bomb.


Now the wrapper is a nice milk chocolate brown with a few veins and a mild reddish glow, some parts have an oily shine while others don’t. It’s not the most beautiful wrapper I have ever seen but also not the worst. The construction feels good but the proof is in the pudding, especially with Cuban cigars and double with hard to roll vitolas like the lancero. The rings, printed by Vrijdag printing in Eindhoven (NL), are well known amongst cigar smokers, a yellow circle with the picture of Simon Bolivar with a golden dotted outline. The golden outline continue to the back while the inside is red and white striped and covered in the medaille d’or that Bolivar won in the past. The second band is silver colored with a white dotted line on both bottom and top, a big red band with white lettering exclusivo Alemania. The cigar measures 7.6 inch with a ring of 38. It has a triple cap like all Habanos hand made cigars. I cut the cigar with a straight cut and I just took the cap off. The cold draw is good and taste hay with a mild freshness and some spices. The cigar has a mild barnyard aroma.


I lit the cigar with my trusted vintage Ronson soft flame. The first flavor is a spicy yet sweet coffee. It’s a little bit bitter. After a few puffs the flavor changes to a little cedar with far far on the background some milk chocolate but the chocolate disappears quickly. I now taste cedar with dried grass soon to be followed by a cumin flavor. This cigar is dynamic to the extreme and a testament of why I love these thin sticks. After a third I taste spicy wood with a very mild cumin and a little bit of honey. The cumin changes into nutmeg and the wood loses its spice. In the aftertaste I get some black pepper. Halfway I taste spices with caramel and there’s a mild pepper on the back of my throat. Sometime later the flavor changes to salty nuts with some pepper. That is to be replaced with oak and pepper a few puffs later. After two thirds the salty nuts are back with a little bit of lemon.


The draw is surprisingly good, I was expecting the worse. The smoke is thick and abundant, nice and white colored too. The ash is salt and pepper colored and you can see the layers. The ash isn’t too firm at the start, later it is. The burn is straight as an arrow. This is a medium to full bodied cigar and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? It was a regional edition, they can’t be found anywhere unless you go to the collectors market and pay more than top dollar. But this is a great Cuban cigar and it shows that they still can make great cigars.

Score: 92

92

Categories: 92, Bolivar (Habanos), Cuban cigars, Partagas Factory | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Asylum 13 Ogre 770

This is a review I dread, not because of the blend of the cigar or the brand but because of the sheer size. I like the classic sizes, lancero, lonsdale, corona, robusto but anything over ring 55 is 99 out of the 100 times to big for me, unless its a torpedo or perfecto, then it might just work. So this 7 by 70 is way out of my comfort zone. Actually, when we got these cigars in, I worked at the Dutch distributer at that time, and I walked into our retail location in Rotterdam, my employer was there and asked me if I wanted to try one. My initial reply was “if I want to suck a donkey dick, i’ll go to the petting zoo”. But the other day I found one in my humidor, probably left over from a sample I gave to a retailer, so I decided to smoke it. The 7 by 70 was the initial release of the Ogre line, before all the line extensions, and it was in the early days that this happened.


The cigar itself is a cigar made at NASCA in Esteli, Nicaragua for Asylum Cigars, the company of Christian Eiroa and Tom Lazuka. I do like the regular Asylum 13 robusto and I always like the way barber poles look so if this was a robusto size I’d be quick to try one, especially since its a barber pole that doesn’t use Connecticut shade as a contrast wrapper, most of the times that kills the cigar for me because I hate Connecticut shade even more than I hate big ring cigars, although they come pretty darn close to each other.


The cigar, first of all, I love the name, its big, its green, so its an ogre. And it doesn’t come wrapped in cellophane but to protect the foot the foot is wrapped in a piece of wrapping paper. The ring is big, simple, shiny black with white lettering saying Asylum 13 and little drawings of something, but I don’t know what, could be a flower, a cloud of a mental patient from an asylum mooning me. They are all connected by a red dotted line. The ring doesn’t make any sense to me, but maybe thats deliberate to match the name. The quality of the printing is fine though. Then the wrapper, the brown wrapper is nice and dark, like dark oak and mild shiny while the candela wrapper is more rustic with more veins. They make a nice contrast. The construction feels good, and the dark cap is placed razor sharp on the top of the cigar, creating a beautiful horizontal line on the parts with the candela wrapper. The cigar has a mild and fresh smell to it, a little grassy too but I guess that comes from the candela wrapper.


I cut the cigar instead of punching it because I felt punching it wouldn’t be enough. The cold draw is great and tastes a little bit of raisin and a lot of pepper. Because of the ring gauge I opted for a torch flame and it still took a minute to get the cigar properly lit. I taste coffee with grass and pepper. I also taste a little sweetness. After half an inch the cigar gets creamy like butter with a lot of pepper. After an inch and a half I taste some vanilla and with the cream I think of vanilla ice cream but with lots of pepper. Near the end I taste nuts and pepper and the flavors are still creamy.


The smoke is medium thick and medium in amount. The draw is a little too easy, but that’s expected from a 70 ring cigar. The ash is light gray and frayed but very firm. The burn is uneven, but I never had a barberpole with an even burn, the different wrappers all burn with their own speed. I actually have to work to keep the cigar lit. As expected there isn’t a bit of evolution as is always the case with big ring gauge cigars. The cigar is medium bodied at most and medium plus flavored. The amount of pepper surprised me though. The smoke time is less than I expected, only two hours but it’s long enough for me.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, but I would try the lancero or the robusto if they ever make it to The Netherlands

Score: 85
85

Categories: 85, Asylum, Nicaragua American Cigars S.A., Nicaraguan cigars | 5 Comments

Jas Sum Kral Zlatno Sonce Robusto

If you’re a cigar smoker and you’re on Facebook or Instagram you must have seen or heard about the Jas Sum Kral brand, owned by Riste Riatevski. His first release, the Red Knight, took the internet by storm and not without a reason as that cigar is amazing. I reviewed the Jas Sum Kral Red Knight lancero last year, that means it was done with my old scoring system without a final verdict and last february I reviewed a maduro version, with a Mexican San Andrew wrapper that was made for the Minnesota Herf Connection and that one scored a decent 90. I already have a review drafted for the Red Knight toro and without saying too much, that one scored considerably higher than the Maduro and will be a contender for the Cigarguideblog Top 25 of 2017. Besides the Red Knight Jas Sum Kral has two more regular production cigar, the Zlatno Sonce and the CRNA NOK which means something in Macedonian but I haven’t mastered that language yet. Besides these three regular productions Riste also released a limited edition A size, 2 cigars in a coffin, called Seljak. A review of that cigar and of the CRNA NOK will also be published later this year.


Now I hate Connecticut Shade cigars with a passion and this Zlatno Sonce has an Ecuadorean Connecticut wrapper over an undisclosed binder and a filler that has some ligero, some corojo and some undisclosed other tobacco. At the Jas Sum Kral group on Facebook I expressed my hate for Connecticut Shade but everybody who smoked it raved about it and Riste was kind enough to send me a few samples so I could try them out for myself. Just like all the other blends, this cigar is made by Tabacalera New Order of the Ages, the factory of Noel Rojas, in Esteli, Nicaragua. Since I liked Riste’s two previous blends and liked all cigars from Tabacalera NOA that I smoked I hope that this 5×50 robusto can change my opinion about Connecticut Shade wrappers and you’ll find out if you keep reading, or scroll straight to the end of the review if you’re too lazy to read the whole review or too curious to wait my final verdict.


When I take the cigar out of the cellophane the closed foot is the first thing that I notice and I love closed foot cigars, there’s something about the look that makes the cigar so much more appealing. The next thing I notice is the quite strong aroma, that is deeper and stronger than most Connecticut Shade cigars, no hint of ammonia, just raw tobacco and wood, a bit like a walk though the forest in the summer after a rainfall but then with added tobacco. The construction is flawless, but that’s what I expect from Tabacalera NOA, where Noel Rojas stepped away from the classic male female rolling teams where the male bunches and the female applies the wrappers to a full female team and one male to put the cigar in the presses per 8 female couples, a very innovative move in the traditional cigar industry. The wrapper itself isn’t the most beautiful wrapper, but for a Connecticut Shade its good looking with just one big vein at the top of the cigar and a few sparkles from the minerals that the wrapper soaked up from the soil. And then the ring, I love the ring on the Red Knight and CRNA NOK, the ring on this Zlatno Sonce is exactly the same ring, designed by the Singaporean designer Nuzli Hakiim, but then white with golden print. So much detail yet without being too busy, it’s a piece of art.


I cut the cigar with my xikar double guillotine cutter. The cold draw is loose while I taste some raisin and pepper. Completely against my principles I used a torch to light the cigar and I taste a mild bitter coffee flavor with cedar and some spices. After a few puffs I also taste some sweetness but also that typical Connecticut Shade mustiness but just a little bit on the background. After a centimeter I taste mostly sugar with some cedar and a little licorice. The flavors are medium full and subtle. After a third I taste spices, nutmeg and cinnamon with a little bit of sweetness that is best described as chocolate sweetness. Halfway I also taste some salt and the typical Connecticut Shade flavor is gone. Towards the final third the cigar picks up in strength and I taste autumn leaves.


The smoke is full and thick with a good draw that is just a tiny bit too lose but still within reasonable margins. The ash is white and firm. The burn is great, almost completely straight. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored with a nice evolution. The smoke time is an hour and ten minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? This is  the best Connecticut Shade on the market.

Score: 92
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Categories: 92, Jas Sum Kral, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | 3 Comments

Lars Tetens Greenwich Torpedo

I think it was late 2008 or early 2009 when I did a box split with another cigar aficionado from The Netherlands. Now that was something I did more often but this was a special box, the Lars Tetens Gorillafinger and it might be the worst cigar I have ever smoked, although the Cremosa Cubana is a close competitor. And I handed these cigars out as jokes, I have seen people puke after just one puff or turn pale with every puff they took. The Lars Tetens chocolates were good though, but those Gorillafingers were horrible. Then I heard he left the cigar business but the last few months I see his brand pop up on social media again, with new blends, both infused and non infused. Then I got approached by Josh Allison from urbanluxlife.com who’s involved in the distributing of Lars Tetens cigars. He told me that my review of the gorillafinger was giving them a lot of trouble, which was very nice to hear for me as it means that my blog is read, and asked me if I was willing to try the new blends and give Lars Tetens a chance to redeem himself. As a firm believer in second chances I said yes, but I also said that if I didn’t like the cigars I would write that too.


Josh send me both the Greenwich and the Steampunk, the first cigar that I’m reviewing is the Lars Tetens Greenwich Torpedo, a 5 1/2×54 American puro with filler from Georgia, Kentucky and Virginia, a Connecticut Shade binder of high grade and a Pennsylvania broadleaf wrapper. As far as I’ve been told the cigars are rolled in Pennsylvania, in an undisclosed small factory run by Lars Tetens himself. The only other American puro I smoked, as far as I know, is the La Casita Criollo by Pete Johnson and I like that one a lot, so the expectations are rising. Josh also offers a 10% discount on his Lions of Luxury website with the code ja10, I hesitated to post this offer because I used to be working as a sales rep in The Netherlands and in that position I always opposed to order online abroad since its against the Dutch law and I am pro supporting your local B&M, but most of the visitors of my blog are based in the USA anyway. If you’re not from or living in the USA, please check your countries regulations first, I am not responsible for any confiscations of legal issues! And support your local shops too, they are the ones enabling our hobby with their knowledge and hard work.


Now the cigar, which is slightly box pressed and comes protected by cellophane. Once I remove the cellophane I get hit by a strange smell. The aroma reminds me of applejuice, or even more apple cider, and it is that I know this is a non infused cigar otherwise the aroma would make me think otherwise. The aroma is strong. The cigar has two rings, the top ring is beautiful, a metallic shiny colored ring with red metallic lines and golden colors letters, on top is has a latin text and my latin is non existing so I can’t tell you what it says and the main text is Lars Tetens in a curly font with a handdrawn logo that looks like a cartoonesque version of the Rolex logo on one side and a crest with swords on the other side. The backside has a gray embossed and a red dragon printed. I love the band but unfortunately the big foot band doesn’t match up to it and that one looks like a photocopied ring with the same Latin text, a white square with the name and a logo and some full color pictures of art. If it was my brand I would change that bottom ring immediately. The dark wrapper is flawless, no big veins, just beautiful. The construction feels good and I like the point on the torpedo, which is sharp.


Because of the torpedo size I had to cut the cigar, punching is no option, so I grabbed my Xikar and then got a great cold draw. I do taste some sour apple, a flavor I smelled too, but the taste isn’t as strong as the aroma. I also taste some pepper. After lighting the cigar, with a torch this time, I taste a nice sweet earthy flavor with a little bit of that apple, the combination is unique but pleasant. The subtle sourness of the apple makes the cigar refreshing and a great mix with the nutmeg and cinnamon that I taste after a few puffs. After an inch I taste some cocoa and I little pepper. Halfway I still taste some of the apple with the spices. The flavors evolve into more peppery with sweetness, oak and spices.


The draw is great and the smoke plentiful yet medium thick while i like very thick smoke. The gray ash shows beautiful layers and is quite firm. The burn is straight and slow. The cigar is flavorful, full flavored and full bodied. The smoke time is an hour and twenty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? This cigar is quite unique yet the hefty $19 price tag is too hefty for me to purchase a box. But a single every now and then if possible I would. I have to say, Lars Tetens has redeemed himself. I wasn’t expecting a cigar of this quality from his hands to be honest but credit is where credit’s due, hats off.

Score: 93
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Categories: 93, American cigars, Lars Tetens, Lars Tetens Factory | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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