Monthly Archives: October 2017

Ortega Wild Bunch Iron Mike I-Beam

Eddie Ortega is a cigar industry veteran and in his years in the industry he met a lot of characters so in 2012 he came up with this idea of a limited edition each month for 2013, all named after one of the characters he met along his journey through the tobacco industry and he named them the Dirty Dozen. Then Drew Estate amicably asked him to change the name just as they did with Alec Bradley’s dirty hooligan because of their Dirty Rat cigar and just like Alan Rubin before Ortega decided to change the name into the Wild Bunch, but the idea stayed the same.

Now these were all micro releases and by the time I visited the USA a lot of them were sold out so I won’t be reviewing the whole series, just the ones that I was able to get my hands on and still have in my possession. I miss a few, namely Crazy Jack, Honest Abe, Tony the Boss, Warrior Joe and Big Bad John although I reviewed the Crazy Jack before in my old rating system. I will post the 7 other reviews in line, one each day, for the next week.

Iron Mike I-Beam


Iron Mike was the february release and the blend of this 4 4/7×54 robusto gordo is made out of all Nicaraguan tobacco with a Habano Oscuro wrapper. The cigar is made at My Father Cigars in Esteli. The cigar is dark and smudgy with a lot of tooth, it feels like sandpaper and leather. There is a small dent in the construction after a third but the cigar looks well shaped with a nice cap. The rings are all great, created by cigars, rd with a silver banner with the name of the cigar at the bottom and a cartoon Iron Mike in the centre. The medium full smell is a little acidic, ammonia with straw.


I decided to punch. The cold draw is perfect and tastes like well fermented tobacco with a little spice. After lighting with a cheap flame classic soft flame lighter I taste coffee. After half an inch the coffee is gone and I taste pepper with cream. The flavors are mild and feel muted, like there is something holding them back. Halfway the pepper turns mild with some cilantro and chocolate.


The draw is a little on the loose side. The white smoke is thick and full. The grainy ash is light gray, close to white, once the ash breaks it becomes very flaky. The burn is great, straight as can be. The cigar is medium bodied yet mild to medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minu


Would I buy this cigar again? Impossible, but if I could I wouldn’t.

Score: 87
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Categories: 87, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars, Ortega | Tags: , , , , , , ,

The mancave

I mentioned my mancave a few times, in posts about the swag I received for example and when I showed off my lancero humidor and a few people reached out to me to show the mancave.

The last two days I’ve been rearranging all the swag because I needed to give Cornelius & Anthony the proper prime real estate after the bomb they send me. And because now everything is nice and tidy I took the opportunity to make a little video and shoot some pictures.

Categories: Misc | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Puros de Hostos Comendador Lancero

A few years ago I was asked to join a tasting for the Belgian magazine El Gusto, that targets both the Dutch and the Belgian market. I accepted the invitation and drove to the beautiful old distillery of Rutte in Dordrecht, a town 20 minutes south of Rotterdam, where we were shown how the Rutte jenever was distilled and how they made their liquors (if you can find it: get their Cuban Coffee liquor, its amazing!) before we were divided into three groups, each group got three different, unbanded, cigars to review and one of them really confused us, it was a fantastic cigar but it none of us could identify where the cigar came from, it was clearly not a Cuban cigar but other than that we were lost. It turned out it was a Dominican private label, Puros de Hostos, made by the Reyes family for Gustavo de Hostos and the tobacco used was fermented four times instead of the regular two fermentations.


Now the cigar had no representation in The Netherlands so I took a few samples for my then employer to try and the international price list that was available. I told my employer about the cigars, calculated the prices on them and he immediately said “No, too expensive, unknown brand, not worth my time and effort” until I cut a cigar for him, lit it and made him smoke it, he was sold. Soon after we got the first shipment in and they sold like hot cakes even though it was an unknown brand (even up till now you hardly find information online) and the price was tough. But unfortunately after a year the sales dropped and the second shipment was of a lesser quality, still good though but not superb anymore. I liked hanging out with Gustavo de Hostos, a very jovial and energetic gentleman, proud to be Dominican and thats why all his lines are Dominican puros.


I still have a few 6 3/4×40 Puros de Hostos Comendador lancero cigars in my humidor and I’m lighting one to review today. As I said, the tobacco has been fermented four times, usually tobacco gets two fermentations, Habanos claims that they ferment the Cohiba tobacco three times but this tops it. The Habano criollo 98 wrapper is dark and oily but also rustic, it isn’t the smoothest cigar you have ever seen. The construction feels good and the cap with the tiny pigtail is placed perfectly. After all these years in my humidor, out of the box and without cellophane most of the aroma has disappeared and I only smell a faint barnyard aroma. The cigar comes with a regular and a foot band, both black & gold. The bottom ring is black with thick golden outlines, golden details and golden letters Comendador while the top ring is black with a thinner golden outline and the Puros de Hostos logo in golden letters. For such a small brand they made nice rings of a good quality.


Due to the small ring gauge punching the cigar is no option so I grabbed my xikar cutter. The cold draw is perfect with a mild raisin and stronger pepper flavor. Once lit with my Ronson varaflame I taste a nice, full coffee that lacks bitterness. After a few puffs I taste coffee with terroir, a little bit of nut and a hint of salt. There is also some wood, the flavors are all very balanced, the cigar has a unique profile. After an inch it’s terroir, vegetable flavors, wood, a little bit of salt, some citrus and a hint of cocoa sweetness. After a third the cocoa sweetness disappears and the citrus grows a little stronger. Halfway I taste nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, cedar and a little bit of lemon. After two thirds the flavors don’t change but they do intensify.


The smoke is thick and full. The ash is white, dense and firm. The burn is razor sharp. The cigar is medium bodied, medium full flavored and very balanced and subtle. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I need to hunt down a box.

Score: 93
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Categories: 93, De Los Reyes, Dominican cigars, Puros de Hostos | Tags: , , , , ,

Cigar Rights of Europe

This is for my European readers, but not Europeans are free to join the cause.

I remember when I was young we had a few campaigns about smoking in The Netherlands. Now I’m not talking cigarette commercials, which were still shown on TV and magazines back then, or billboards with sport games but government campaigns. Now looking back you can actually see the growing influence of the anti-smoke lobby (powered by big pharma) in the sound of the campaigns.

The first I remember was the ‘roken moet mogen’ campaign, which translates to “smoking should be allowed” which turned into a “roken, we komen er samen wel uit” campaign, “smoking, we will figure it out together” to create a society where smokers and non smokers could co-exist and be considerate to each other.

The smokers were and are willing to figure it out together but the anti-smoke lobby doesn’t want anything of that, they want to ban smoking completely. And they managed to push legislation to crazy levels, smoke bans in bars, restaurants, work places and even in outdoor parks and beaches. Crazy warning labels and in a few countries even plain packaging (for example Australia and France). Flavorings can’t be named anymore, a vanilla cigar can’t be called vanilla, rum can’t be rum anymore but have to be color coded. The latest legislation is TPD2 and caused huge, full color, warning labels with disgusting pictures and there is more to come.

Since a few weeks it is not allowed to show open boxes of cigars on Dutch webshops, there are tests being done with tobacco sales behind closed curtains and plain packaging is coming to other European countries too. Now people talk about banning smoking on streets or even in your own backyard or your own balcony.

And to be fair, that cigarettes and roll your own tobacco is beging targeted isn’t strange, those chemically enhanced tobacco is addicting and known to cause several deceases yet every major study shows that it’s not the case for cigars. Yet the anti-smoke lobby and legislation doesn’t make a difference, tobacco is tobacco and it’s beging targeted.

We need to fight for our hobby, our passion and we need to stand up for our rights. The newly started Cigar Rights of Europe is doing that but can’t do it without your help. The CRE needs your help to help them help you! And fight for cigars, protect our rights as cigar smokers. So go to their website and sign up for only €25 a year.

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Categories: Misc | Tags:

Alec Bradley Black Market Esteli Robusto

Years ago, while working for my previous employer, we released the Alec Bradley Black Market in The Netherlands and we couldn’t keep up with the demand, it was insane. Of course the demand dropped a little after a few months but it was still a good selling cigar, nice priced and it scored a 90 when I reviewed it earlier this year. Now there is a new Black Market, the Black Market Esteli.


I got this cigar from George Sosa, VP of Sales for Alec Bradley during the Big Smoke Amsterdam weekend, George and I have worked well together and he always hooks me up with plenty of cigars. He gave me this Nicaraguan cigar with a Nicaraguan wrapper, a double binder, one from Nicaragua and one from Honduras and Nicaraguan fillers. The cigar is made at the Plasencia factory in Esteli, Nicaragua.


The packaging is similar to the regular Black Market, so with a three quarters long paper wrapping on the cigar. That was designed because Alan Rubin, the owner of the brand, didn’t want the cigars in cellophane yet still wanted to protect them from  damaging, hence the huge ring. Eventually the cigars were packed in cellophane too, but the big paper rings remained. The wrapper is smooth, oily, quite dark and pretty. The construction feels good, nice triple cap, evenly filled. The aroma is quite strong and smells like a sheep farm, but not in a filthy disgusting farm, a clean farm with healthy clean animals.


I cut the cigar with my xikar cutter. The cold draw is perfect with a mild minty and raisin flavor. After lighting the cigar with a soft flame I taste a sweet coffee and toast. The sweetness stands out, with an earthy undertone. After an inch I taste that earthy flavor with still a sweetness, a cake like sweetness but also a little black pepper in the aftertaste. Halfway I taste some milk chocolate too. Soon after I taste pepper with the earthy flavor and a little bit of a metallic taste. All of a sudden the cigar changed to earthy toast with some pepper.


The draw is perfect, just the right amount of resistance. The ash is white and layered. The burn is straight. The smoke is medium plus thick. I would say this cigar is medium plus bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Much to my surprise, considering my love for Nicaraguan cigars, I prefer the Honduran Black Market.

Score:  90
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your reviewer with George Sosa and Bradley Rubin (Alec Bradley Cigars)

Categories: 90, Alec Bradley, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera del Oriente | Tags: , , , , , ,

Swag for the man cave

When I was looking for a house to buy I specifically looked for a house where I could have a man cave with a walk-in humidor to enjoy my cigars, my music and my movies. In the apartment where I used to live I smoked in the living room but since everything was on one floor my whole place smelled of old cigar smoke and I wanted to avoid that.

So I found this house, in the town I grew up in, close to my parents and my sister, waterfront garden, 2 minute walk to a supermarket yet not on a busy road that had the perfect set up. The ground floor has a indoor garage and behind the garage there is this room, some call it garden room, some call it sun room but to me its my man cave/office. The living and the kitchen are a storey up, the bedrooms and bathroom even two storeys up so no issues with cigar smoke. As an added bonus the man cave has a double door to the garden so on warm days I can just open the doors and enjoy the fresh air.

Anyhow, I built that walk-in with my father, a friend painted some cigar logo’s on one of the walls and I managed to get some artwork from several companies to dress up the room. My Father Cigars send m an awesome painting, Rocky Patel got me two metal signs, Alec Bradley gave me a table top lighter, two signs and a huge ashtray, Oliva got me a canvas and Jessi Flores hooked me up with several Drew Estate items. Add that to the cigar store indian and the decals I already had I was able to decorate my man cave pretty decent.

But now, today, the doorbell rings and the UPS guy hands me a huge box, and I mean really huge. I see the shipping address and realize it’s from my dear friend Courtney Smith, who works for Cornelius & Anthony and she completely blew my front porch away. I mean, I really have to figure out where to put all the items she send me because they deserve the best spots in the room as they are awesome.

Now what did I get you might ask? I will tell you:
two different ashtrays, a cool poster with Cornelius, a metal Cornelius sign, a beautiful shirt with Cornelius & Anthony logos embroidered  and piece the resistance, a mind blowing woodcarving with the Cornelius & Anthony logo. Pictures just don’t do it justice but I’ll post them anyway.

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Categories: Misc | Tags: , ,

Jas Sum Kral Kralot Toro (pre-release)

I have known Riste, the owner of Jas Sum Kral, for years and even got him his first international distribution deal outside of the USA. Last month he came over to Europe for a two day event in The Netherlands, a few events in Sweden and the Intertabac trade show in Dortmund, Germany. During his days in The Netherlands I was his host and designated driver, a video of that trip can be seen here.


While he was here Riste handed me a handful of the 2018 release, the Kralot, but of course with pre-release rings. Now for fair scoring I rate the official artwork, made by Nuzli Hakiim, and not the simple pre-release ring. As far as I know it’s a Nicaraguan puro made at the Tabacalera Noa factory from Noel Rojas, a factory which never let me down.


The artwork now is simple, but the JSK Lion will be on the ring with added details, it will be the bomb. The wrapper is evenly dark, almost black, and it feels like very fine sanding paper. The construction is flawless, evenly packed, great triple cap and a closed foot. The cigar has a very strong, smoky aroma, not as strong as the Kentucky Fire Cured or Pappy van Winkle by Drew Estate but it reminds me of those cigars.


I decided to cut the cigar using my Xikar butterfly cutter. The cold draw is great and spicy. After lighting I taste a smokey barbecue flavor, a bit sour but strong and spicy, with a sweet finish. The strong smokey barbecue flavor mellows out quickly and some vanilla fights it’s way to the surface.  After a third I taste a carrot like flavor, which I love, with spices and sweetness. The barbecue returns with a nice honey sweetness and vanilla, well balanced and sweet. The final third starts out a little spicier, with a little pepper on my tongue. The pepper grows to a strong pepper, overpowering until I have to put the cigar out because I’m burning my fingers.


The draw is perfect, the smoke is full, I get plenty of smoke but it’s not a super thick one. The ash is almost white, a beautiful contrast with the dark wrapper, and its dense and firm. The burn is beautiful and straight. The cigar starts full bodied and full flavored but mellows out to a medium full blend. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Without a doubt, can’t wait till they get released.

Score: 95
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your reviewer and Riste Riatevski (Jas Sum Kral)

Categories: 95, Jas Sum Kral, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , ,

Cigars of Habanos Custom Rolled 52

As you might have read in a few of my older reviews, my wife is from Singapore so it’s natural that I’ve been to Singapore more than a few times and during my travels I met a few fine cigar aficionados there that I always try to meet up with and have a smoke or two when I’m in town. And since I have a huge stash of cigars and the prices here in Europe are much nicer than the insane prices in Singapore I always bring something to share, on my last trip it was a Undercrown Flying Pig, but one of the original releases, the limited edition for The Netherlands since my friend Jason had never smoked a flying pig.


Jason offered me a cigar in return that I had never smoked, a custom rolled cigar in the Cohiba Behike 52 size, made for the famous Hong Kong based webshop Cigars of Habanos. I guess they are so close to the management of Habanos and such good clients that they can have custom rolls made with Cuban tobacco to sell on their website. Since the best Cubans in general are the custom rolled or farm rolled cigars, because the rollers take time to create something good instead of rushing the cigars out, I am curious about this cigar.


Now the cigar, that comes in bundles and without ring to reduce costs, has no ring and that creates an issue since I rate the ring for my final score. So what I do is don’t rate it and divide the final number with 95 instead of 100 to offset the lack of the ring. The silky smooth and oak looking wrapper has a few veins. The cigar is well packed, quite hard to the touch but evenly hard and the tiny flag cap makes it a nice looking cigar. The mild aroma is quite interesting, it smells like sweet cookie dough with a little vanilla.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is a little on the loose side with a spicy sultana flavor. After lighting with a torch I taste coffee with some sugar. Soon after the flavors change to cedar and cinnamon with some icing sugar. After a third I taste some cedar with fresh cut green herbs, cilantro and basil. Halfway I taste cedar with cinnamon and vanilla, all subtle and balanced. Near the end the cigar gets sweeter and spicier again with a little pepper.


The draw is fine and the smoke is thick and white. The light colored ash is firm and the burn is straight. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The cigar is subtle and balanced. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? I liked it so yeah.

Score: 92
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Categories: 92, Cuban cigars, Custom Rolled (Habanos) | Tags: , , ,

Stoptober

In many countries around the world, October is the month to try to stop people to smoke under the name ‘stoptober’. This morning I got invited to a Facebook group called Aficionados Liberation Front, a group that was founded to troll the yearly anti-tobacco protest in front of the Intertabac trade show. Now the group is targeting the Stoptober movement, and you can join. How? See the copied message below:

“Dearly appreciated fellow partisans,

After a 2 year silence we feel the time is right for another playful guerilla action against the anti smoking lobby. This time we will attempt to hijack the hashtag #stoptober on facebook and instagram.

Plan of action: Share pictures of the cigars you smoke in october on your personal FB page and instagram account and add #stoptober as a comment. When posting on your FB page make sure the post is set to public. Wouldn’t it be fun if people clicked the hashtag all they’ll see is pictures of cigars being smoked? 😂 We feel we actually are with great enough numbers to pull this off but please also invite other aficionados to join us.

Hopefully we can be as successful as with our last playful guerilla action in 2015 against an anti-smoking group that was protesting at Intertabac that year.

As you may remember we hijacked their Facebook page by bombing it with selfies in which we enjoyed our beloved cigars. This is what their paged looked like: http://docdro.id/atjcZ7l

When you scroll through the 137 document keep in mind their page was suposed to be anti tobacco. 😂 They haven’t been protesting at Intertabac in 2016 en 2017. 😂

Let’s see if we can be just as successful.”

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Categories: Misc | Tags:

Montecristo ‘A’

Years and years ago, before I discovered that Cuban cigars and me aren’t a match made in heaven and that I prefer Nicaraguans better I ran into this Montecristo A in a shop in Antwerp, Belgium. It was Huis Verloo, a very renowned shop that is now part of the Davidoff group but back then it was independent and a must visit for every cigar and liquor aficionado due to their huge collection in both items. Now as I said, it was a long time ago and even though I wasn’t a knowledgeable as I am nowadays I knew I had to buy that cigar as it was pretty rare and hard to find as this was pre La Casa del Habano in the Benelux era. I don’t have the box code for the cigar as I did not understand the importance of that either back then, but it is at least 7 years old and I haven’t had the courage to smoke it but today that’s going to change. I’m going to light it and review it.


The cigar is the longest Habanos in production I think as this Gran Corona measures 9.3 inch and it has a 47 ring gauge. Now I smoked a few ‘A’ sized cigars before and I always liked the size. The construction feels ok, there is a little bit of a soft spot at a third but not too much too really complain about, the overal look is good also due to the nicely glued triple cap. The ring is the classic, simple Montecristo brown ring with white letters that has been copied so often. The wrapper is a nice medium brown with tooth and due to the tooth it feels like fine sanding paper. I smell a mild vanilla and wood aroma.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw surprised me, guess this is a lucky day because the draw is flawless. I taste a spicy and peppery hay flavor before I lit the cigar with a soft flame lighter. Those flavors are gone the moment the flame hits the tobacco, it’s all leather then. Due to the size the smoke feels cool in my mouth. After a centimeter I taste leather but with a tiny hint of orange. The structure of the flavors feel creamy. The leather is slowly getting stronger and the orange is gone in a few puffs.  Still in the first third I get a minty flavor with the leather. The draw starts to get a little tight so I cut the cigar to widen the opening compared to the punched hole and that solves the issue. It’s still mainly leather and the minty flavor now also has a hint of orange again.


After a third I the leather fades away a bit and I taste a mild chocolate with the leather. The cigar also has some pepper and a fresh aftertaste. Halfway I taste toast with leather and pepper. Soon after the toast changes to wood, with still leather and pepper. After two thirds I taste nuts with a good amount of pepper.


I’m very happy with the great draw, I’ve had lesser experiences especially with Cuban cigars. The smoke is thin though and low in quantity too. The ash is salt and pepper colored, you can clearly see the layers in the ash and it’s reasonable firm. The burn is straight and slow. The cigar is medium to medium plus bodied with a full flavor. The smoke time is two hours and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, and that has nothing to do with this cigar but I’m not taking a risk of buying a very expensive cigar with my bad experiences with Cuban quality control. On a regular priced cigar I’m willing to take a risk but in crazy €50 or more price tags I won’t.

Score: 88

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Categories: 88, Montecristo (Habanos), Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , ,

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