Monthly Archives: January 2018

Cigar of the month January

In 2018 I will do a cigar of the month again and here’s the list for january, 15 cigars, in order from most liked to least liked.

The cigar with the highest rating last month is:

Drew Estate Undergrown Sun Grown Flying Pig with a 93 score

Now as for the complete list of cigars I published:

1) Drew Estate Undercrown Sun Grown Flying Pig (Nicaragua) 93 points
2) C.A.O. Fuma em Gorda Toro (Nicaragua) 93 points
3) Balmoral Añejo XO Gran Magnifico (Dominican Republic) 93 points
4) Plasencia Alma del Campo Toro (Nicaragua) 92 points
5) Quesada 40th Anniversary Toro (Dominican Republic) 91 points
6) Gurkha Ghost Robusto (Dominican Republic) 91 points
7) Kristoff CG Robusto (Dominican Republic) 91 points
8) Epic Maduro Lancero (Dominican Republic) 90 points
9) Vegas de Santiago D8 Corona (Costa Rica) 90 points
10) Micallef Gomez Sanchez Esperiencia Prominente (Nicaragua) 89 points
11) Vegas de Santiago D8 Short Robusto (Costa Rica) 89 points
12) Vegas de Santiago D8 Corto (Costa Rica) 89 points
13) Vegas de Santiago D8 Toro (Costa Rica) 88 points
14) Xiphos Connecticut Robusto (Costa Rica) 88 points
15) Romeo Y Julieta EL 2016 (Cuba) 86 points

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Categories: Cigar of the month | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Undercrown Sun Grown Flying Pig

When I was at the intertabac trade show Willy Herrera, whom I had not seen in a few years, the last time was at El Titan de Bronze in Miami in 2014, handed me one of his latest creations, the Undercrown Sun Grown in a belicoso format (review will follow in a few months) but the next day one of my sources gave me the same blen
d in the legendary Flying Pig format. I thought of keeping the cigar in my humidor, with the other Flying Pigs I have but decided to light it anyway since cigars are meant to me smoked.


The Undercrown Sun Grown is made from Nicaraguan filler, a stalk cut binder from the Connecticut River Valley and a Sun Grown Sumatra wrapper from Ecuador. It’s the third line under the Undercrown label, the first was created by the rollers at the Drew Estate factory after they got told that they couldn’t smoke Liga Privada no more, the second was the Shade. I wonder what the next will be, a Maduro? Oscuro? Cameroon? Rosado? Time will tell.


The shape of the cigar is ace, a little bomb shape with a pig tale, it looks funny and even though other companies use the same shape, everybody recognizes it as “that flying pig shape”.  The wrapper is oily and smooth, dark brown with a reddish glow that’s being enhanced by the red and golden rings. It’s the same ring as on the regular Undercrown and on the Undercrown Shade but in red instead of blue or white. The foot ring is in the same colors and says sun grown. The aroma is quite strong, I smell herbs, straw and some barnyard.


I cut the cigar, punching was no option because of the pigtail. The cold draw is good, i taste spicy raisin, portobello and pepper. After lighting I taste a nice, fresh citrus with coffee. After a few puffs I taste the citrus but now with cedar, nutmeg, a little cinnamon and some dried chilies. After a third I taste vanilla, cedar, the red skin that you find on peanuts and toast, with a citrus and peppery aftertaste. Halfway the cigar is cedar with nutmeg and cumin again. The final third is woody with a sweetness that is best described as icing sugar.


The draw is flawless. The smoke is typical Drew Estate, full, thick, plentiful. The light colored ash is firm and dense. The burn is uneven, not too much though but it’s not straight. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. There is a lot of evolution. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I hope they will become available again.

Score: 93
number93
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Categories: 93, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaraguan cigars, Undercrown | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Fffin’ February

Tatuaje Tuesday, Fuente Friday, we all know those terms and I used that for a theme week in June last year, but why not up the ante and make February 2018 Fffin’ February?

I will post a review for 28 days straight, all brands or cigars with an F, like Fuente, Flores y Rodriguez, Flor de Oliva, Flor de las Antillas en Falto. 28 days of fffin’ reviews in a row. Let’s do this! First review in the Fffin’ February series on Feb 1st.

Categories: Misc | Tags: , , , , ,

Xiphos Connecticut Robusto

Last year I reviewed two of the three Xiphos cigars that are made in Costa Rica, today I will tell you about my experience with the third Costa Rican offering from Xiphos, the Connecticut robusto. And there is a danger in having me rate a Connecticut, even though my dislike for the wrapper is decreasing, its still at the bottom of my wrapper list, even below Candela.


The cigar is made from a Peruvian binder, filler from Peru and the Dominican Republic and a wrapper from Ecuador, a Connecticut as the name suggests. The 5×50 robusto is made at the Tobaccos de Costa Rica factory, just like the other CR cigars from Xiphos.


When I remove the cellophane I notice the shine on the light colored wrapper. The wrapper is beautiful, it feels like velvet and its smooth yet a little too light for my liking. The ring is fantastic, like I wrote on the other Xiphos reviews, these rings are just perfect. In the middle of the cigar I feel a softer spot and the head of the cigar is uneven and the cigar has that typical musty Connecticut shade aroma, medium strong, like in an old, abandoned hay shack that has been empty for years.


I cut the cigar. The cold draw is very good. The cigar doesn’t have a lot of flavor unlit. After lighting I taste a mild coffee. After half an inch I taste a mild cedar with a little bit of the Connecticut Shade mustiness that I don’t like a lot. There is some white pepper in the aftertaste. After a third it’s a slightly acidic cedar. Halfway the acidity is gone, the cigar is more herbal now with a cedar undertone. The final third is mild nutty with some acidity.


The draw is phenomenal, the right amount of air flow. And the smoke is great too, thick and plentiful, the only thing that would make it better was if the color was white. The light colored ash is layered and firm. The burn is straight. This is a mild cigar, medium flavored with a nice evolution. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? No. But if you like mild cigar and/or Connecticut Shade wrappers you will probably like it. It is a good cigar, just not for my palate.

Score: 88
number88

Categories: 88, Costa Rican cigars, Puriscal Factory of Tobaccos, Xiphos | Tags: , , ,

Vegas de Santiago D8 serie

In july I wrote a review on the Vegas de Santiago D8 robusto. I smoked a lot of Vegas de Santiago cigars back before I started working in the industry, ordering straight from the factory in Costa Rica and always liked the cigars especially when you looked at them from a price quality point. And when I consulted for a small cigar importer in The Netherlands I pointed them to Vegas de Santiago as we lack Costa Rican cigars on the Dutch market.

At Intertabac I spoke with Marc Nieman, the owner of Vegas de Santiago and he told me that their cigars will be available on the Dutch market soon and thanked me for my help. He gave me a bunch of cigars to review too, including a couple of sizes of the D8. Instead of writing separate reviews I decided to combine all reviews in one.

Vegas de Santiago D8 Short Robusto


This is the smallest of the cigars I recieved, a 4×50 short robusto that I can’t find on the Vegas de Santiago website. The ring is white with a red square and golden details and letters that quite pop, a nice ring. The wrapper is dark, oily and smooth. The construction looks and feels good. The cigar has a mild straw aroma.

I punched the cigar. The cold draw is perfect, I taste a mild raisin flavor.
After lighting the cigar with a soft flame I taste a mild citrusy coffee. After a few puffs the cigar is floral. After a third I taste the floral flavor but with a mild peanut flavor and a tiny bit of salt. Halfway it’s floral and vanilla with some wood. In The final third I taste some red pepper too.


The draw is fantastic. The burn is equally fantastic. The salt and pepper ash is firm. The smoke is full. This is a medium bodied and medium flavored cigar with a smoke time of seventy five minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? This is a nice cigar, if the price is right I will.

Score: 89
number89

Vegas de Santiago D8 Corto


The corto is a nub sized cigar, 4×60, a size I don’t smoke often because I’m not a fan of big ring gauges. The ring is the same as on the short robusto but the wrapper looks a shade lighter in color and a little less oily. The construction looks and feels good, while the aroma is mild and reminds me a bit of sawdust.


I get a good cold draw, grassy, spicy and raw tobacco flavored. The cigar is so thick that I used a jet flame to light it. I taste toast, cinnamon, chocolate and some honey sweetness. After a third I taste honey cedar. Halfway some mild red pepper shows up in the aftertaste. Near the end the pepper gets stronger but not overpowering.


The draw is good and the light gray ash has nice thin rings, it’s firm and dense. The burn is razor sharp but the smoke is thin. The cigar has a decent evolution for a big ring gauge cigar but it’s not as dynamic as the corona. The body and flavors are medium. The smoke time is a hour exactly.


Would I buy this cigar again? I actually liked the sweetness a lot, I disliked the ring gauge.

Score: 89
number89

 

Vegas de Santiago D8 Corona


I love the corona size, a vitola that doesn’t get the spotlight it deserves and is blown away by the thicker robusto, toro and gordo sizes but it remains in my top 5 of favorite vitolas. Again, the ring is the same and the wrapper has the same shade as the court, yet it has a little tooth to it and feels more leathery because of that. The cigar looks good and the construction feels good too.  A mild acidic aroma with some straw is what I smell.


I decapped the cigar with a flat cut. The cold draw is a little tight and quite peppery. After lichting I taste sweet coffee with pepper. After half an inch I taste cedar, lime, pepper and toast. After that I taste nuts, toast and some pepper. Halfway Its wood with herbs and a rocket salad pepper.


The draw is a little tight. The smoke is good, nice volume, nice thickness, beautiful white color. The ash is light gray, dense and firm. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is and hour and fifteen minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? Apart from the tightness in the draw this is a very pleasant cigar so yes!

Score: 90
number90

Vegas de Santiago D8 Canonazo


A classic toro size, 6×52, yet it has a double name on the Vegas de Santiago website, Canonazo and Toro but ‘m fine with either, call it what you like, a cigar is a cigar. Same ring again and a leathery  chocolate brown wrapper with a beautiful reddish glow. The construction feels good and the cigar looks well rolled. The aroma is mild, its a bit of a barnyard aroma.


I cut the cigar and found a great draw with a mild acidic and raisin flavor. After lighting I taste a mild and creamy coffee. After a few puffs I taste walnuts with coffee. After an inch i taste a creamy vanilla with some honey. Halfway an acidic flavor is dominant with some honey and a little cream. The final third starts with a honey cedar.


The draw is fine and the smoke is thick and white. The burn is pretty straight. The light gray ash is coarse. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored with a nice evolution. The smoke time is two hours.


Would I buy this cigar again? I stick to the robusto.

Score: 88
number88

Categories: 88, 89, Costa Rican cigars, Tabacalera Vegas de Santiago, Vegas de Santiago | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Quesada 40th Anniversary Toro

This cigar, a 6×49 toro, was created to celebrate the 40th year of Manuel Quesada in the cigar business. Now some of you might think “why did I only hear the name Quesada the last few years?” and the answer to that is that before you probably smoked cigars from their Matasa factory before but none of those cigars carried the Quesada name, I think they were most famous for the Dominican Fonseca brand.


I met Patricia and Raquel Quesada at the intertabac trade show, and in the following week after in Amsterdam where we partied with Rocky Patel and a few others and at the trade show Raquel gave me a sampler with four Quesada cigars to review. The Quesada 40th Anniversary is the first in the series. The cigar has Nicaraguan and Dominican ligero filler, a Habano ligero binder and a beautiful Mexican San Andres wrapper.


This cigar is a looker, a dark, almost black, oily wrapper with beautiful veins and a soft leather touch. The ring fits the cigar, the black and gold ring with the gold and silver tobacco leaf in a Q shape that is the Quesada logo and a shiny black ring with a golden 40. The construction feels good, the shape of the cigar is good, the triple cap is good and there are bonus points for the closed foot, something I like in a cigar. The cigar has a strong manure and barnyard aroma.


I cut the cigar, I used my doubly guillotine cutter. The cold draw has a decent resistance and the flavor is quite peppery on my lips. After lighting I taste coffee and chocolate. Soon the flavors change to earthy flavors and herbs. There is still a little sweetness too. After an inch I taste pepper and wood with a minty aftertaste. Slowly the cigar is getting more peppery, with a dry wood and a little raw carrot. The aftertaste is a fresh, minty chocolate. Halfway I taste a lot of pepper with a little wood. This cigar has Nicaraguan tobacco and it shows in the pepper. The final third is wood, a lot of pepper and a little mint.


The draw is perfect. The burn needed a little correction. The frayed ash is gray and black. The ash is firm though. The burn is razor sharp. The smoke is medium in thickness and volume. I would call this cigar medium plus bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is two full and enjoyable hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? I hope this cigar is released in the Netherlands soon.

Score: 91
number91

Categories: 91, Dominican cigars, Quesada, Quesada Cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Plasencia Alma del Campo Guajiro

Last december I did a review on the Plasencia Alma Fuerte, the first cigar they release world wide under their own name after testing the waters in Europe with the 1898 and the Reserva Organica and straight after the second installment was released, the Alma del Campo, a Nicaraguan puro, and again the cigars are priced premium, the msrp starts at $13.50


The line is made in five vitolas, and of the five I was handed the 5 1/2×52 Guajiro by the European marketing director Rodrigo during the Intertabac trade show last september. Now it says 52, but it looks and feels thicker, even though my chart disagrees with me and it’s really a 52. My eyes are deceiving me I guess. Just like the Alma Fuerte it’s wise to buy a 10 count box instead of a single cigar because the lid of the box doubles as a beautiful ashtray.


The wrapper is beautiful, a nice mocha color, smooth and with a velvet feel to it. The three rings are beautiful, from top to bottom a small gray ring with a white circled P, then the bigger main ring in the same gray color with the white P again, the Plasencia name and in smaller letters Alma del Campo and then a white foot ring with gray outlines and Alma del Campo in gray letters, very classy, modern and clean. As for the construction, well, the cigar feels well constructed, evenly filled but its crooked. At first I thought my eyes were deceiving me again just like with the ring gauge so I put a ruler next to the cigar and it has a curve to the right. The cigar has a slightly acidic aroma with hints of hay too.


I used a cutter to decap the cigar. The cold draw is very spicy, acidic and peppery, but with a great airflow. After carefully lighting the cigar with a soft flame I taste a medium strong, slightly acidic coffee. After a few puffs both some sweetness and some pepper shows up, and a spiced biscuit flavor, speculaas as we call it in The Netherlands. After an inch I taste coffee with sweetness and the spices, all balanced and smooth. Halfway it’s a woodsy, spicy and a little pepper with a bit of sweetness. Slowly the flavors change to a smoother version of wood with some raspberry vinegar, spices and sweetness, there is some pepper in the aftertaste.


The draw is perfect. The almost white ash is dense and firm. The burn is straight. The smoke is medium full in thickness and in volume. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The smoke time is little over hundred minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No doubt!

Score: 92
number92

Categories: 92, Nicaraguan cigars, Plasencia | Tags: , , , ,

Micallef Experiencia Habano Prominente

At the intertabac trade show my buddy Nasier introduced me to a brand that was completely new to me, Micallef. He knew them because they visited the shops he works at to find out if there would be place for their brand on the Dutch market, so when Nasier saw them at the trade show he introduced me. I got some cigars for a review and this Experiencia Habano Prominente is my first try of any of the Micallef cigars.


I went to their website to get any background on the cigars and this cigar, 5 1/2×58 is made with a four year old Nicaraguan habano wrapper, a four year old Mexican San Andres Habano wrapper and filler from Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic. As far as I understood from the website, the family has two factories, one in Esteli, Nicaragua and one in Veracruz, Mexico and this cigar seems to be made in Esteli. The msrp for this cigar is $13


The wrapper is a nice, medium brown color, like a coffee with a little splash of soy milk, it has a little bit of tooth. The construction feels flawless and the head is flat as can be. The ring, well, that looks kinda eastern European to me, and let me explain that. There is another brand, Bossner, Russian owned and they have these over the top designed ring, very Russian stylistics and this ring has a bit of that but in a more modest way. The red and gold letters, the crest, the golden medals and yes, maybe its a prejudice because of the name too, I will admit that. The ring is nice though, just not something I would design or have designed for my brand if I had one. The ring is in two parts, the eastern European top with a greenish blue bottom that just said Gomez Sanches Family. The foot ring is in the same color with golden and white lines saying experencia. The cigar has a medium strong smell of horses.


I cut the flattened head. The cold draw is good. I taste raw tobacco and herbs. After lighting the cigar with my vintage lighter I taste sweet coffee. Soon some walnut shows up too. After an inch I get sweet wood, red pepper and nuts. Halfway the cigar gains in strength and the flavors are getting cleaner and stronger. The honey sweetness, the pepper and the wood are also more balanced. The cigar turns more full bodied in the final third. The honey like sweetness is still there with some soft wood, a hint of truffle creamy chocolate all with a little rough edge. The flavors are becoming a little creamy too. The end is very peppery.


The draw is good enough not to complain but not perfect either. The grayish smoke is thin and low in volume but the smoke is getting thicker and white along the way. The ash is light gray with dark smears. The ash is dense and firm too. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored in the beginning but the second part is more full on both accounts and more to my liking. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Not for $13, shave a few dollars off and I’ll be happy to light one again, the last part was very enjoyable.

Score: 89
number89

Categories: 89, Micallef, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Epic Maduro Lancero

A few years ago the Epic brand showed up in The Netherlands and to be honest, I did smoke a few and they weren’t to my liking. But a few friends of mine love the cigar and keep raving about the Epic Maduro line and the lancero in particular so I decided to give it another go and bought a lancero if this line. And I hope that I like it, because it means that I smoked a good cigar and I have met owner Dean Parsons a few time and wish him nothing but success.


Dean chose the Charles Fairmorn factory as his partner to make the Epic cigars and that’s not a bad choice, one of my favorite Dominican brands, Kristoff, is made there too. The Epic Maduro is made with Nicaraguan and Dominican filler, a Cameroon binder and a Brazilian Arapiraca maduro wrapper and just from that blend I expect some sweetness, spices and strength. The sticker on the back shows that it’s a little longer and thicker than the Cuban lancero size, which I see as the official size with an extra added 2 ring gauge and half an inch making this a 7 1/2×40 cigar.


The wrapper is dark but you can see a lighter color under the darker smears and that makes me wonder if the wrapper is cooked, the amount of oil and the way it shines enhance that feeling. The cigar feels well rolled, I do see a few veins and a little imperfection at the cap but I know from experience how hard it is to apply a cap, especially on a cigar so thin. The rings are nice, I like the fact that the black and silver Epic ring, with a nice red accent, isn’t a regular shaped ring but a cut out of the cursive Epic logo. The ring is well printed. The secondary ring has the same black and silver letters with a red accent and red rings on the top and bottom, I personally would have made the red lines smaller but who am i? The cigar has a medium aroma of manure but with a strong and surprising mint smell.


Due to the small ring I had no other option than to cut. The cold draw is fantastic. I taste a little toast, mild spicy. After lighting it’s a dark and earthy flavor profile with mud and coffee. The Brazilian Arapiraca Maduro wrapper provides some sweetness too, a sugar syrup like sweetness. After almost an inch i taste acidic wood with a creamy chocolate on the background and a faint vanilla. Before the first third ends I taste wood and toast with some herbs, all still with a acidic flavor but the chocolate cream is gone. The herbs are gaining strength and that’s probably the Cameroon binder weighing in. Halfway I taste wood with dirt again, no sweetness and a little vinegar. Soon the nuances change again, the dirt makes places for winter spices. The final third starts with pepper and gingerbread. Slowly I get more spices and pepper.


The draw is flawless and the ash is white, which gives a nice contrast with the dark wrapper. The ash is layered. The light gray smoke is thick and full. This is a medium plus bodied cigar, and the flavor is medium plus too. The smoke time is ninety five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? The construction is top notch, the cigar has plenty of evolution but it’s just not for my palate.

Score: 90
number90

Categories: 90, Charles Fairmorn, Dominican cigars, Epic | Tags: , , , ,

Kristoff GC Robusto

I met Kristoff owner Glen Case a few years ago at the Intertabac trade show in Dortmund, Germany right after my then employer decided to distribute the brand. And it sold, like hotcakes, due to the cool look with the closed foot and the pigtail, the packaging with the loose tobacco, the quality of the cigars, the flavor and the price. It was a home run and ever since we always have a little chat even though I no longer work for that company.


The GC series never made it to The Netherlands though, so I was glad that Glen gave me a robusto at the most recent intertabac trade show to review and he said that it was his favorite Kristoff offering. Now I haven’t smoked all of them and so far the Cameroon blend is my favorite but maybe this one will change that, keep reading and you’ll find out. The cigar is available in four vitolas, a robusto, torpedo, churchill and a gordo.


The Brazilian maduro wrapper looks great, dark and a little rough but the roughness fits the color. The pig tail and closed foot are Kristoff signatures by now and add that to an evenly packed cigar for a great construction. The ring is burgundy with golden letters and a silver & white banner. The medium strong aroma reminds me of charred wood and manure.


I cut the cigar since punching isn’t an option with the pigtail. The cold draw is fine, I taste licorice, raisin and pepper. After lighting I taste a strong and full coffee with earthy tones and a sugar sweetness. After half a centimeter I taste wood, sweetness and a hefty pepper. Halfway I taste a wood with a little licorice, some pepper and a little lemon in the aftertaste. The flavors are very meaty and peppery. The final third is peppery with a great dose of lemon.


The draw is good. The smoke is a little thin, light gray but the volume is good. The silver gray ash has beautiful rings, is dense and is firm. This is a full bodied, full flavored cigar with a perfect burn. The smoke time is an hour and fifty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I hope this cigar makes it to the Dutch market.

Score: 91
number91

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

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