Monthly Archives: November 2017

Cigar of the month November

It’s the end of the month again, so as in every month before this year I will rank the cigars I reviewed this month from best rated to lowest rated. This month I rated 14 cigars, some old, some very new and with a spread of the four most prominent cigar countries.

The cigar with the highest rating last month is:

Joya Red Half Corona with a 93 score

Now as for the complete list of cigars I published:

1) Joya Red Half Corona (Nicaragua) 93 points
2) Tatuaje RC233 Figurado (Nicaragua) 93 points
3) Long Live the King my style is jalapeño Lancero (Dominican Republic) 93 points
4) Alec Bradley Lost Art Robusto (Honduras) 92 points
4) La Sagrada Familia Maduro pre-release Robusto (Nicaragua) 92 points
6) Todos Las Dias Toro (Nicaragua) 92 points
7) Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Gran Reserve Robusto (Nicaragua) 91 points
8) Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Gran Reserve Torpedo (Nicaragua) 90 points
9) Viaje Zombie Antidote (Honduras) 90 points
10) A. Flores El Trovador Petit Belicoso (Dominican Republic) 90 points
11) Davidoff 702 #2000 (Dominican Republic) 88 points
12) Partagas Serie D#5 (Cuba) 87 points
13) San Pedro de Macoris Ecuador Robusto (Dominican Republic) 87 points
14) San Pedro de Macoris Brazil Robusto (Dominican Republic) 86 points

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Alec Bradley Prensado Lost Art Robusto

When the Alec Bradley Prensado Churchill was picked as #1 cigar of the year by Cigar Aficionado I was surprised. Not that it was a bad cigar, but I never would have imagined it as a winner, it’s good but not that good. But then again, I disagree with reviews and top 25 lists more often than not, it’s all about personal preferences I guess, and I know that people disagree with my list too.


Last month George Sosa handed me a few new Prensado cigars, the Lost Art, in a robusto shape and the first one I lit I loved, I liked it so much better than the regular prensado so I kept one for a review too. And here it is.


The box pressed cigar is made in Honduras, at Raices Cubanas, where the majority of Alec Bradley cigars are made. The cigar has a Honduran corojo wrapper and binder plus filler from both Honduras and Nicaragua. The ring is the same as the Prensado ring, with the red AB logo in the middle, several colored rings around it in a Indian color scheme but with an add ring saying Lost Art.  The coffee brown wrapper has some veins and the head got a few wrinkles because of box pressing the cigar. The aroma is medium strong and it’s clearly a tobacco and barnyard aroma.


I cut the cigar with a double guillotine cutter. The cold draw is perfect, i taste raw tobacco with a little spice on my lips. After lighting with my trusted soft flame I taste a strong and spicy coffee with a soft cedar undertone. After a centimeter I taste a nice cedar with herbs and spices. The aftertaste has a hint of chocolate but very subtle. The whole cigar is subtle with a spicy and peppery layer over the subtle wood and toast flavors. The background flavors are a very delicate mix of flavors, subtle enough to taste but hard to identify since they are balanced and complex.


The draw is perfect, the smoke is thick, white and voluminous. The ash is light gray with dark smears. The burn is straight. This cigar is medium plus bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is little over an hour.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, I love this cigar.

Score: 92
number92

Categories: 92, Alec Bradley, Honduran cigars, Raices Cubanas | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

San Pedro de Macoris Ecuador Robusto

Yesterday I wrote about Agio cigars latest release, the San Pedro de Macoris line and I reviewed the Brazil blend. Today I’ll be smoking the second blend, the Ecuador blend, made with a Connecticut Shade wrapper grown in Ecuador, Dominican Olor as a binder and filler consisting from Brazilian tobacco and Dominican Olor and Piloto Ligero. I got this cigar at the same shop as the Brazil version, Piet van Kuyk in Eindhoven


I don’t know if this budget friendly cigar, €4.50 in The Netherlands, is available on the American market or will be available on the American market. Agio used to be distributed by Drew Estate but recently they parted ways and Agio is on its own now on the American market, although they still distribute Drew Estate in several European countries. I can only imagine that Agio will release these San Pedro de Macoris in the USA too once their office is up and running.


As with the Brazil blend, the designers of the ring made good use of the colors of the flag. The rooster logo is in yellow, the lines on the ring are in red and blue so the Ecuadorean flag is represented, add the silver letters and you have a slick modern ring. The wrapper is slightly pale but still quite dark for a Connecticut shade cigar. I see one vein on this well shaped cigar. The cigar has a strong smell, quite ammonia rich like a stable in the morning when the cows just were released from a night in the shelter and before the farmer cleaned out the sawdust and straw that covered the concrete floor.


I cut the cigar. The cold draw is great, the flavor is mildly acidic with white pepper. After lighting I taste earthy coffee with a sharp edge. There is a woody flavor too and spices. The coffee disappears. After a third I taste lemon with cedar and herbs. Halfway I taste lemon, a mild musty cedar, a little cinnamon and sugar.


The draw is a bit easy.  The smoke is medium full in volume and thickness. The ash is white, dense and firm. The burn is a bit off. The thin wrapper cracks halfway. The cigar is medium bodied medium flavored. There is little evolution. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s better than the Brazil but still not a cigar for me.

Score: 87
number87

Categories: 87, Agio Caribbean Tobacco Company, Dominican cigars, San Pedro de Macoris | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

San Pedro de Macoris Brazil Robusto

San Pedro de Macoris is a city about an hour from Santo Domingo and it is know for the sugarplantations, tobacco and famous Dominican baseball players. And it is where Agio has their factory where they produce the famous Balmoral cigars. It’s also where these San Pedro de Macoris cigars are made, named after the city to honor the workers in the factory and out on the tobacco fields.

 


The cigars got released in The Netherlands a few months ago but I hadn’t tried them until I visited Piet van Kuyk cigars in the city of Eindhoven and got one of each blend for a review. The Brazil blend of the San Pedro de Macoris is made from Dominican Olor, Piloto Ligero and some Brazilian tobacco for the filler, a Dominican Olor as binder and a Sun Grown Arapiraca wrapper from Brazil. The cigars are available in the sizes robusto, corona and perla, I smoked the robusto for this review.

 


I like the ring, which is smooth, black with a green rooster, silver lettering and a good use of the national colors of Brazil, green and yellow. It’s a quite modern looking ring, not a copy of the new Camacho rings, not even in the same style yet it has the same modern feel. The wrapper is dark with some smears, and dull. It is smoother than what I’m used to from Brazilian tobacco though. What strikes me is how well rounded the head of this cigar is, perfect construction. The cigar feels well packed too. The aroma is strong, farmland is what comes to mind, but farmland that’s being worked on when the air is full of aroma.

 


I punched the cigar, the binder and wrapper are thick and the cold draw is a little tight. I lit the cigar with my soft flame and taste coffee.  The coffee turns earthy soon with a mild chemical sweetness, like the aspartame they use in diet sodas. I also taste some lime and some low quality milk chocolate. After a third it’s just the aspartame. Halfway the cheap chocolate return on the background.

 


The draw is good. The ash is quite dark, the layers are very clear and firm. The smoke is medium in volume and thickness. The color is light gray. The evolution is not dynamic, it’s actually quite boring. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? No. Technically the cigar is great, but the flavors aren’t for me. Nice budget cigar for incidental smokers though.

Score: 86
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Categories: 86, Agio Caribbean Tobacco Company, Dominican cigars, San Pedro de Macoris | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Joya Red Half Corona

You might think “hey, its not a Sunday, not a Wednesday nor the 15th of the month, why a review today?” and here’s why. Today my beautiful and lovely wife turns another page and celebrates her birthday, so a great opportunity to review her favorite cigar, the Joya Red Half Corona. When I met my wife she had never smoked a cigar, she’s a cigarette smoker, but open minded enough to try a cigar as she wanted to share my passion with me. She smoked a few cigars, but even a robusto is too big for her as a cigarette smoker so once I gave her this Joya Red half corona it hit the spot, not too big so she can finish it, not too strong that she can’t handle it and still very flavorful. So last year, as a gift, I gave her a box of her own and she bought another box for herself too.


Joya de Nicaragua is the oldest still operating cigar factory, they have a great history and it is a true Nicaraguan company, every employee has a Nicaraguan passport. They have always been big on the international markets, especially eastern Europe due to the Nicaraguan embargo that took place during the reign of the sandinistas and Joya had a very classic, traditional way of doing things and their reputation was also one of tradition. It came to much of a surprise that they partnered up with the least traditional cigar company in the world, Drew Estate, for distribution in the USA and that new style of doing things rubbed off on Joya a bit with the creation of the modern, hip look of the Joya Red, a medium bodied Nicaraguan puro that got released in 2014.


this 3 3/4×46 Half Corona wasn’t included in the original release but became the first and so far only line addition. I smoked several vitolas of the Joya Red but always liked this one best. And its a nice small cigar, perfect for when you don’t have a long time but if you happen to have plenty of time, they are afforable enough to smoke two. The cigar has a smooth mocha colored wrapper with a mild lacquer shine. The construction feels good and the triple cap has been applied perfectly. The aroma surprises me every time, I smell some licorice but also chocolate instead of a barnyard aroma. And then the ring, such a contrast with the traditional Joya de Nicaragua rings, this one is modern, quite large, red (do’h) with golden lining on the bottom and the top, golden lettering saying Joya de Nicaragua on top and Hencho a mano en esteli at the bottom and centre in big white letters and golden shading JOYA red. On the back, that doesn’t end straight but with an arrow there’s the Joya logo in gold. On the inside of the ring it says Rediscover Joya.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw is great. I taste some dry raisins, a little bit of hay and some pepper. After lighting the cigar with my Ronson varaflame I taste coffee with some leather. The flavors have just the right amount of bitterness. After a few puffs the coffee disappears and the flavors are now a mixture of different spices like nutmeg, cumin and cinnamon with a lemon aftertaste. Halfway I still taste all the spices but now with a little sweetness and a little cocoa bitterness. A strong pepper shows up in the aftertaste.


The smoke is thick and white, I get a nice amount of it too. The draw is close to perfect. The ash is light gray and you can see all the layers while the burn is straight as can be. The cigar is medium bodied yet full flavored with a nice evolution and a great strength flavor ratio. The smoke time is 45 minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I love them, my wife loves them so there will always be a box in stock.

Score: 93
93

Categories: 93, Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, Joya de Nicaragua, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

A. Flores El Trovador

Abe Flores handed me this 4 1/2×50 Petit Belicoso of El Trovador when he was in Amsterdam a few weeks ago and to be honest, I had never heard of the cigar. That’s not strange because they haven’t been available on the Dutch market yet even though the cigars were released on the American market over a year ago. The translation of El Trovador is The troubadour which is fitting since Abe Flores used to be a professional bass player when he was younger.


Even though the cigar is made at the PDR factory on the Dominican Republic, there is not a shred of Dominican tobacco in this cigar. The filler is vintage Nicaraguan, the cigar spots a double Nicaraguan binder and the wrapper is from Ecuador. And for the artwork Abe found inspiration in Cuba again, since this is a upgraded and updated version of the Montecristo label. The sad part is, and I told Abe, that his cigars are good enough not to need copied Cuban rings.


The reddish yet dark Ecuadorian Rosado wrapper looks great on this box pressed cigar, you can see the veins in the wrapper but since they’ve been flattened the surface is smooth. The cigar is well rolled with a beautiful top and a simple, clear and well printed dark brown ring with golden details and white lettering. The aroma is strong and dark, charred wood like with a little barnyard aroma.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is perfect, I taste tobacco and pepper.  After lighting I taste coffee and pepper. Soon it changes to leather with a tiny bit of dark chocolate. After a third I taste a carrot like flavor with pepper. Halfway I taste cedar with spices, pepper and a hint of cacao. I also get some floral notes.


The draw is perfect. The light colored ash is firm and dense. The smoke started out thin but turns thicker and filler quick. This cigar is medium bodied, medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour exactly.

Would I buy this cigar again? This is a nice short smoke, I would get more.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, A. Flores, Dominican cigars, PDR Cigars | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Davidoff 702 Series 2000

At the Dutch Big Smoke, which took place in the weekend of 16 & 17 september in Amsterdam & Almere, Davidoff introduced their 702 series to the Dutch audience. Now I was involved with the first 5 Big Smokes before the Dutch FDA shot us down, and my former Big Smoke partner decided for a different set up after a year of absence, a set up that is allowed within the strict Dutch regulations. I wasn’t involved and I didn’t like the set up. I was at one of the participating shops though with Riste from Jas Sum Kral and Juan Martinez (Joya de Nicaragua), Tom Mulder (La Sagrada Familia), Alex Svensson (Cigars International) and George Sosa (Alec Bradley) were there too.


Anyhow, on the second day of the event the Davidoff rep walked in, I have known him for years, and I jokingly say “hey, you didn’t bring me the new cigar?”. He reached into his pocket and handed me the Davidoff 702 series 2000. The binder and filler are the same as the regular production Davidoff as far as I know but the wrapper is a tobacco created from different Cuban strains and grown in Ecuador and it’s the same as the 2009 limited edition, but now in a regular production setting.


When I take the cigar out of the cellophane I notice how dark the wrapper is and it’s thick, creating a wrinkle at the foot because of a vein. The ring is Davidoff quality, classic but well printed and the secondary ring uses the same white and gold by being split in a golden top with white letters 2000 and a white bottom with golden letters 702 series. The cigar has the right resistance when I touch it, the shape is pretty, so the rollers did a good job. The aroma is strong and is definitely a stable aroma, hay, manure, urine, straw, live stock. It sounds disgusting but in a cigar its exactly what you expect to smell.


I decapped the cigar with a Xikar guillotine cutter from the Procigar gift box from a few years back. The cold draw is good, quite spicy. The first puff is coffee and a little chocolate. The chocolate disappears immediately and is replaced by a peanut flavor, still with the coffee. After half an inch i mainly taste a salty peanut flavor. Halfway the peanuts turns earthy and peppery. The final third starts salty again.


The draw is fantastic. The smoke is medium in thickness and volume. The burn needed a touch up twice to correct. The ash is a little frayed yet firm. I would call this cigar medium at most, both in flavor and body. The smoke time is and hour and twenty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s not for my palate, technically a very good cigar though.

Score: 88
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Categories: 88, Cigars Davidoff, Davidoff, Dominican cigars | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Tatuaje RC233

A lot of times people ask me ‘what’s your favorite cigar’ and that is always a hard question to answer as it depends on the moment of the day, the mood I’m in, what I smoked recently and other variables, as cigar smokers you will recognize this, but my answer is always the Tatuaje RC233, not just because its a great cigar but also for a sentimental reason and I’m going to tell why. Back in 2009 I visited the United States for the first time, a road trip all along the east coast and a few days in Las Vegas. And as a cigar aficionado what do you do when you’re in Miami? You go to 8th SW street, aka Calle Ocho, the Cuban quarters of Miami and stroll around the cigar factories, the shops and watch the Cuban seniors play dominos as the Maximo Gomez park. Now back in 2009 La Gloria Cuban was still a working factory, so right there you had a hotspot with El Titan de Bronze, La Gloria Cubana and El Rey de Los Habanos, the factory of Don Pepin Garcia. Now I must say, El Titan was the highlight for me as Sandy Cobas, the owner, took a few hours of her time to show us everything, not just the work floor but also the tobacco storage and the aging room for the fresh rolled cigars but at El Rey de Los Habanos I bought some cigars too including a cigar I had only heard about: Tatuaje RC233.


Now the story goes that only Jaime Garcia and José ‘Don Pepin’ Garcia roll this cigar due to its complicated size. The RC stands for Retro Cuban and the 233 stands for the millimeters length of the cigar, 233 mm is 9.17 inch, and the cigar is perfecto shaped. Its not a cheap cigar either so I was waiting for the perfect moment to smoke the cigar, it had to be something special. That special day came later that year, november 15th, when my first (and only) nephew Simon was born. I smoked the Tatuaje RC233 that night. My next trip to the States I bought a 10 count box and I’ve been smoking one a year, always on november 15th and once he turns 21 I hope he joins me. I smoked one yesterday and decided to write a review even though its not a Wednesday or Sunday, just like I did on a few other special dates.


As I said, the cigar is a figurado, a double perfecto to be precise with a length of 9.17 inch and the thickest part of the cigar has a ring gauge of 55. It is a Nicaraguan puro, but rolled in Miami, even to this date, in very limited numbers. So limited that 3 years back they didn’t even had them in the humidor of the beautiful My Father headquarters. Now the looks of the cigar, apart from the size, makes it stand out in any humidor. The upper part is covered in shiny silver foil, with a simple yet stylish ring, white with a light blue lining on the bottom, black letters TATUAJE RC SERIES and the Pete Hassel Johnson logo and a red and orange lining on top.  The construction is flawless and that feeds my believe in the story that these are only rolled by Don Pepin of Jaime themselves, they are level 9 rollers and I don’t see a lot of people roll a cigar this shape and size so beautifully. The color of the wrapper reminds me of the old dark oak cupboard my grandmother had in her living room, but then with a little tooth and the aroma is a medium strong barnyard aroma.


Because of the shape I had to cut the cigar. The cold draw is fine and i taste some raisin but with some pepper on my lips. I lit the cigar with my soft flame vintage Ronson.  The cigar has a coffee flavor with a little pepper, but it’s mild. After the small tip I taste leather with some herbs and pepper. After an inch I taste some chocolate too but leather is the main flavor. After a third it’s a nice, not too strong, pepper with a little freshness. Slowly the leather changes to cedar, but the mild chocolate, the pepper and the fresh aftertaste still remain. Halfway the chocolate is getting a little stronger but so does the pepper. I taste some leather again too. The chocolate then drops, it’s leather and pepper with some herbs. The cigar makes my mouth dry. Some cedar joins the leather, the herbs and the mild pepper.


The smoke is medium thick at the start but it gets thicker. The draw is perfect. The burn is straight as an arrow. The ash is firm, dense and it’s salt and pepper colored. This cigar is medium bodied, not the full body you expect from Tatuaje but it’s well balanced. The smoke time is little over two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? In 3 years I need to get a new box, anybody has an idea on where to get them?

Score: 93

93

Categories: 93, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars, Tatuaje | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Long Live the King my style is jalapeño

Yes, the title above the review is the name of the cigar. I do like creativity but this is plain insane, it’s just taking it to far, not one step but a couple of yards and if the name of the cigar was reflected in the score you could stop reading right now but Robert Caldwell is lucky I’m not judging on the name of the cigar. What’s wrong with just “Long live the king lancero”? Geez! What I do like, and credit Caldwell for, is that he’s completely open about the blend, on the Caldwell Cigars website you can even see the percentage of certain tobaccos in the filler, so I know that this 7 1/4×40 lancero is made from 40% Nicaraguan Habano Ligero, 10% of Peruvian Pelo de Oro visa and 50% Dominican ligero corojo wrapped in a Dominican corojo binder from 2009 and a Dominican corona wrapper from 2008.


Now this Long Live the King, I saw pictures on Facebook and instagram, I hear good things about it but I have not smoked one yet. The only Caldwell cigar I smoked so far was the Eastern Standard Cakewalk (another crazy name, for someone who doesn’t know the cigars, how could he figure out that I’m talking about a torpedo?) and I didn’t care much for it, mostly because of the Connecticut share wrapper. I only smoked it because Robert Caldwell said “no, its a hybrid, completely different than other Connecticut shade wrappers” and that should have been a warning, I heard that from other cigar manufacturers too and still hated the cigars anyway. So this Long Live the King, I’m going in blank, like I said, I hear good stuff but haven’t read a full review so I’m pretty clueless on what to expect.


When I take the cigar out of the cellophane I notice a tiny pig tail on the cap of this dark and oily wrapper that looks very smooth and tasty, only on the backside I see a vein. The construction feels flawless, quite firm though, but consistently firm. The ring is beautiful, beige colored with burgundy edges and golden lining. The ring has a picture of a teenage boy with a golden crown on his head, but the crown is a couple of sizes to big so you can’t see the boys eyes or above. On the side, in black curly letters, the words ‘long live the king’ are written. As for the aroma, its strong and it reminds me of a hike through a forrest in the spring, horses and spices at the same time. This is one of the most unusual but amazing smelling cigars I have ever smelled.


I cut the cigar since punching isn’t an option. The cold draw is great and I taste a mixture of pepper, toast, raisin and vanilla. I lit the cigar with a soft flame. I taste coffee, hazelnut and a little lime. After a few puffs I also taste some five spice. After an inch the coffee is gone, I taste cedar with spices, pepper and some lime. After a thirds I taste toast with cinnamon and nuts. Close to the middle of the cigar I taste some pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, cedar, toast and a little metallic flavor with a hint of vanilla. After two thirds our only a little cedar and spices with a lot of pepper.


The draw is great. The smoke is quite thick and medium full in amount. The burn is a little off but not too much to complain about. The layered ash is light colored and bends to the left. It’s not firm though. The evolution is great, just like you’d expect from a thin cigar like this lancero. The cigar is medium plus bodied and full of flavor. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes I will, even though the cigar has way less pepper than the name would suggest.

Score: 93
93

Categories: 93, Caldwell Cigar Factory, Caldwell Cigars, Dominican cigars | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Todos Las Dias Toro

If you’re fluent in Spanish you might see the error in the name of the cigar, and brand owner/blender and industry legend Steve Saka explained in a facebook post a few months ago the story behind that name. Now I scrolled back on his Facebook posts but he’s so active that I couldn’t find it anymore, but it was a funny story about misunderstanding the language (which I, as a non Spanish speaker understand), trademarks and eventually using the wrong name as a tribute to a mentor and to bypass copyright laws.


Anyway, I was in Cigaragua in Amsterdam the day the cigars landed in The Netherlands and smoked one right out of the box. Since it was my third cigar of the day I could not do a review on the spot with my tainted taste buds but the next day Juan Martinez from Joya de Nicaragua gave me another cigar that I stashed away for a review, this one.


The wrapper is amazing, like dark coffee but with some sparkling minerals, oily and with only a few very thin veins, this cigar is a looker. That’s being magnified by the simple yet sophisticated rings, a diamond shaped ring in silver van black with a logo and beautiful decorations and a foot ring in the same colors with the Todos Las Dias name in a curly font. The cigar feels rock hard though, but without any softer spots so I figure that won’t be a problem. The head of the cigar is perfectly round. The cigar has a medium strong aroma of hay, grass and charred wood.


My Joya branded cutter is working overtime this week since it’s the 4th Joya made cigar in a row. The cold draw is on the tight side of good. I taste a sticky raw tobacco flavor with a little pepper. The cigar starts out smooth and a little sweetness and coffee. Slowly the flavors pick up, creamy chocolate with some pepper show up too. The cigar is smoother than I expected. After a third I still taste the creamy chocolate and pepper but now with a little splash of lime. Halfway I also taste an earthy flavor, still creamy. The final third starts woody with pepper and a mild salty flavor which is hard to describe. The pepper gets stronger and the dominant flavor.


The draw is great, the smoke is on the thin side though. The burn is straight. The ash is white with dark spots and firm. This cigar is full bodied and full flavored but still smooth. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Another winner from Steve Saka.

Score: 92
number92

Categories: 92, Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, Nicaraguan cigars, Todos Las Dias | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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