Monthly Archives: February 2018

Fratello Bianco II

The first time I ran into the Fratello brand was when I was in Nicaragua in 2015 with my then employer, journalist Marcel Langedijk and photographer Jesaka Hizkia for the Cigaragua book. At the Joya de Nicaragua factory I saw cigars being packed that I never heard of, Fratello, and asked about them since I’m a cigar geek and new brands spark my interest. It turned out Joya de Nicaragua makes those cigars for Omar de Frias.


Last year at Intertabac I met Omar, a huge guy, who used to work for Nasa. I think he launched satellites into space with his bare hands, that’s how tall and strong he is. He handed me one of his Fratello cigars which I reviewed and this year at intertabac he handed me his second line, the Fratello Bianco, a 6×50 Teachers Pet aka Fratello Bianco II. The cigar is made with filler from the USA, Peru and Nicaragua, a Dominican binder and wrapper from Mexico.


While the name Bianco might make you think this will be a Connecticut Shade wrapper, as was my first thought when I heard the name, it is not. The Mexican San Andres wrapper is dark. There is some oil to the wrapper but it’s dry on the tough with a few veins. The unusual shaped white ring with red letters and silver details fits the dark wrapper. The construction feels good and the shape of the cigar looks good, but I have to add that I can’t remember if I ever had a cigar made by Joya that didn’t have great construction. The cigar has a medium strong, vegetable like, aroma, cauliflower, broccoli kinda smell.


I punched the cigar, the cold draw is perfect. I taste dry tobacco with a hint of dark chocolate. After lighting, with matchsticks this time, I taste chocolate. After half an inch some dry vegetable taste joins the chocolate as a supporting flavor. After a third I taste some cinnamon too. Halfway I taste chocolate, pepper and nuts. In the final third I taste wood, a bit charred, vanilla and pepper. The pepper grows near the end.


The draw is perfect and the white ash is firm. The white smoke is thick and medium full in volume. The burn is straight as an arrow. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The smoke time is almost two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Oh Yes, oh yes. I used a nub tool, that’s how good it is.

Score: 92
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Categories: 92, Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, Fratello, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , ,

Flores y Rodiguez 10th Anniversary Figurado

Ten years after Abe Flores and the Rodriguez brothers went into business together and started PDR it was time to release an anniversary cigar and so they created this ‘Reserva Limitada’ line in four vitolas: Robusto, Figurado, Wide Churchill and Gran Toro. For this review I am smoking the 6 1/2×52 figurado that I have had in my humidor for approximately three years.


The cigars are made from tobacco from three different countries. The filler is an aged Nicaraguan piloto cubano, with at least 7 years of age on it. The binder comes from the Dominican Republic and is a Dominican Olor while the wrapper is an Ecuadorian Habano.


This shape makes the cigar look special, somehow figurados make a cigar seem cooler, mor fancy. Add a mind shiny, smooth wrapper and it just rises your expectations. As for the ring, I have said that to Abe on many occasions, the PDR and Flores y Rodriguez cigars are good enough to stand on their own and not having to copy Cuban rings yet Abe Flores did it again, he copied the old green and white Ramon Allones ring, the one that was in place before the make-over by Habano and the secondary ring with the gold and black has a reminiscence with the Cuban limitada ring too, just slightly different. The rings are pretty and well printed, yet not unique. The construction feels and looks great. The cigar has a strong aroma of hay with some spice to it


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is good. I taste raw tobacco and pepper. After lighting I taste coffee and earthy flavors. After an inch the cigar is wood with herbs and a little pepper. Halfway I taste wood with a faint vanilla and some acidity to balance it out. The aftertaste is peppery and I taste a very faint milk chocolate too. The final third starts peppery with some wood as a base for the pepper. An icing sugar sweetness joins the spicy wood and the red pepper.


The draw is great. The smoke is medium thick and full, with a perfect white color. The light gray ash has nice dark rings and is firm. The burn is straight. This cigar is medium bodied and medium to full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and fifty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? This is a pleasant cigar that I will smoke every now and then.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Dominican cigars, Flores y Rodriguez, PDR Cigars | Tags: , , , , , ,

Fundadores Corona

Before Facebook there were cigar forums to communicate with cigar aficionados all over the world and my favorite one was Club Stogie until it was sold by the owner to a investor that merged three big forums into one crappy one with a poor name, puff.com and puff is another word for homosexual in England, the feeling wasn’t the same and the new moderators acted like dictators. So the old moderator team created a new forum, Cigar Asylum and that became my favorite online hangout and I used to trade, bomb, buy and get bombed, visited the USA some times to herf with the guys and thats how I got a lot of cigars that I wouldn’t normally buy.


When I was looking for cigars to smoke for the effffin february month I went through my database at stogierate.com and saw that I had a Fundadores from Jamaica. An online search told me that these cigars are made in Kingston with an American Connecticut Shade wrapper, a Mexican binder and a filler from Mexico and the Dominican Republic. I have the 5 1/2×42 Corona but there are more sizes available on cigarjamaica.com


The cigar is slightly box pressed and has a wrapper that is latte colored, with quite a lot of veins. The ring is simple, white with a drawing of a classic boat, golden letters and a thick golden outline, the sides are green with golden letters too. The construction feels good and the cigar is beautifully finished. The cigar has a musty smell, typical for Connecticut shade, like walking into an old hay shack.


Because of the small ring I had to cut the cigar. The cold draw is fine and I taste pepper on my lips. After lighting I taste a mild coffee with that typical Connecticut Shade mustiness. The coffee disappears and the mustiness changes to a mild and sweet musty cedar. Then the only flavor change is that the sweetness is replaced by a mild harshness. The flavor doesn’t change much anymore.


The draw is good, I expected worse. The ash is quite dark, dense but breaks easily. The gray smoke is thin and only reasonable in volume. The burn is straight as can be. This cigar is mild, both in body and in flavor. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? No. It was nice to smoke a Jamaican cigar for once but it’s not good enough to smoke again.

Score: 80

Red balloons with ribbon - Number 80

Red balloons with ribbon – Number 80

 

Categories: 80, Fundadores, Jamaican cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Falto Delirio

This is the third Falto review this month, but hey, I’m running out of cigars starting with an F for this effffin february series of reviews and I have to make good on my promise to Luis Falto to review the cigars he gracefully send me years ago. I’m already late on my promise. On the website of La Garita cigars you can find their points of sales in the USA, on the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.


The delirio is a 6 1/2×42 Lonsdale, a very classic cigar size that is much underappriciated nowadays just like other classic vitolas like corona and lancero, its a shame because thinner cigar are so much more dynamic and flavorful. This Falto Delirio Cabinet Selection is made from Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers, a Dominican binder and a Dominican Corona wrapper and has been aged in my humidor for 8 years.


The wrapper is dark but dull with a few minor veins. The ring is beautiful, and the secondary ring has the same look. The cigar feels well constructed and is beautifully capped with a nice rounded head. The aroma is quite strong and is a mixture of floral smells with sawdust from dark wood.


I used one of my Xikar cutters to decap the cigar. The cold draw is easy, I taste a peppery dry leaves taste. I lit the cigar with a soft flame. Straight from the start I taste vanilla, icing sugar and coffee. After a third I taste fresh wood, a mild pepper and dried herbs and spices. The flavors gain strength and get a little mean. Halfway the vanilla comes back, with a floral touch. In the final third the dried herbs return with some icing sugar and dried chilies.


The draw is perfect. The smoke is white, thick and full. The light gray ash is firm and dense. The burn is good. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? They aren’t available in The Netherlands so there is no use in answering this question.

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, Dominican cigars, Falto, Tabacalera La Aurora | Tags: , , , , ,

Fonseca 30th Anniversary Toro

You can consider this a vintage cigar since it was a limited edition release to celebrate Matasa’s 30th year in business. Now if Matasa doesn’t ring a bell, maybe Quesada does. And Matasa is the name of their factory on the Dominican Republic, Fonseca is on of the brands they make. And they celebrated their 30st birthday back in 2003, thats 15 years ago.

 


The cigar sports a Dominican wrapper. Now that doesn’t turn heads anymore but when it was released it was a novelty. Fuente just released the Opus X, the first cigar with a Dominican wrapper, and together with this Fonseca Matasa 30th anniversary La Aurora and La Flor Dominicana released cigars with Dominican wrappers and that was it. The cigar was released in two vitolas, a 6 1/2×52 Toro and a 5 3/4×54 Perfecto and in total 30.000 cigars were made.

 


The wrapper is dark and oily, leathery but beautiful. The construction feels good although the cap could have been placed a bit nicer. The ring is pretty, glossy black, popping gold, bright red and clear fonts. I like it. And then the aroma, strong and complex, like a Indonesian rendan spice mix.

 


I punched the cigar. The cold draw is fine, I taste some sweet raising followed by some pepper on my lips. A nice strong coffee is the first thing I taste after lighting. After half an inch I taste herbs, spices and a mild dark chocolate. After an inch it’s herbs and a mild peppery flavor. Every few puffs I taste some chocolate too. The flavors then change to meaty with a mild pepper. At the beginning of the final third the pepper gains a little strength. Slowly the pepper is getting stronger towards the end.

 


The draw is good. The white smoke is medium thick and full. The gray ash is dense and firm. The cigar is medium in body and flavor. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Don’t think that would be possible

Score: 90
number90

 

Categories: 90, Dominican cigars, Fonseca, Quesada Cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Flor de Oliva Maduro Robusto

Oliva is, for me personally, an underrated factory. When you ask me about my favorite factories I won’t spit out Oliva because they are never on top of my mind even though I visited the factory twice, met Jose Oliva and Gilberto Oliva several times and worked for the European distributor for years. Yet, every time I smoke an Oliva cigar, it doesn’t matter if its an O, O Maduro, G, V or Melanio cigar I am impressed and I know I am smoking a great cigar.


And within the range of Oliva cigars there is one cigar that is underrated more than any other cigar and it’s the Flor de Oliva Maduro. I had so many people tell me “I won’t smoke this because it’s a budget cigar and it can’t be good” but when I gave them one they were all impressed by the flavor and quality of this budget cigar. And to be honest, I don’t smoke them often but when I do this cigar, in combination with the low price, surprises me time after time.


The wrapper is dark and oily with some clear veins. It looks much better than some maduro wrappers on premium cigars of other companies. The ring is brown on glossy paper with a shaded Oliva logo and the Flor de Oliva name, in the Flor de Cana font in gold. The details on the edges of the ring are in gold too. Now although the overall look of the ring is much better than the old ones, it does seem to stand out a little less than the old one. The construction feels good and the cap is placed nicely. From what I understand these cigars are rolled by the most inexperienced rollers in the factory but the one that did this one can be promoted. The aroma is quite strong and reminds me of a stable with a mixed aroma of straw, urine, animals and manure.


I punched the cigar. The cold draw is a bit tight. I taste nothing. After lighting I taste a mild coffee with chocolate. After half an inch I taste a nice chocolate and wood flavor with some sweetness. That flavor remains until the final third, when the flavors turn to herbal, the sweetness disappears and a very mild white pepper shows up.


The draw is good. The smoke is white, quite full and I get a decent amount of smoke. The white ash is firm and dense. The burn is flawless. This medium bodied and medium flavored cigar is nice yet not very dynamic. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Great budget humidor filler.

Score: 88
number88

Categories: 88, Nicaraguan cigars, Oliva, Tabacalera Oliva | Tags: , , , , ,

Flor de Oliva Naturel Torpedo

When I was a novice cigar smoker, little over 10 years ago, someone handed me a Flor de Oliva. I think it was a robusto, but I’m not sure. I was shocked to see that a cigar could be so cheap as my experience back then was mostly with Cuban cigars. But boy, I was in for a surprise because back then Flor de Oliva was a sweetened cigar, instead of pectin Oliva used sugar water to glue the Flor de Oliva cigars, maybe to mask the harsher tobacco used for this budget cigar?


Oliva stopped using that method years ago, they updated the whole line with new rings but I am smoking an old one. Unsweetened but still with the old ring so it must have some age to it by now. Not only the ring is a sign that it’s an older cigar but also the tax stamp that has been changed from a single cigar stamp to a box stamp a few years back.


The wrapper isn’t a looker, it has some veins, it looks a bit rough, it feels like dry leather but then again, it is a budget cigar so you can’t expect Oliva to use their best wrapper leaf for this line. The ring is simple, blue and red with thick white borders, golden tobacco leaves in the red part and white letters Flor de Oliva in the blue part. The font is exactly the same als de Flor de Cana font, Nicaragua most famous rum. The construction feels good but the head of the cigar has a weird tip. The cigar has quite a strong aroma of hay and straw.


When I wet the cap before cutting I taste sweetness and that makes me think this is a vintage one. About 7 years ago Oliva changed from sweetened to unsweetened tips and this might be an oldie. After cutting I don’t taste the sugar anymore. The draw is easy and I taste raw tobacco.  After lighting I taste a muted, slightly musty, cedar with cinnamon. The mustiness disappears immediately, I taste nutmeg and cinnamon, slightly harsh. After a third the cigar turns harsh. After I cut a little piece off the cigar is still harsh but now with the nutmeg and cinnamon.


The draw is loose, the smoke is thick, white and full. The burn needed a few touch ups. The light colored ash is firm and dense. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full bodied. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, I love Oliva but this one not so much.

Score: 83
number83

Categories: 83, Nicaraguan cigars, Oliva, Tabacalera Oliva | Tags: , , , ,

Flores y Rodriguez Cabinet Selección Maduro Robusto

Just as the Habano Cabinet Selección, the maduro version of this Cabinet Seleccion all comes from the same tobacco seed originally cultivated in the Vuelta Abajo region of Cuba but now grown on the Dominican Republic, and that makes this cigar a Dominican Puro too, something that was said to be impossible before Arturo Fuente managed to grow wrappers for their Opus X on the island.


The wrapper on the maduro version is of course darker, but also thicker because it has had more sun hours and opportunities to grow. There is more natural sugar in the leaf because of the extra sunlight so I expect this cigar to be a little bit sweeter but it can’t be a one on one comparison with the Habano since I’m smoking a different vitola for this review, the 5×52 Magicos.


The first thing I notice when I get the cigar from the cellophane is that the wrapper is thicker and more leather like than the velvet wrapper on the Habano. The veins are thicker and this cigar looks more manly. The rings are exactly the same. The cigar has a nice aroma of dark chocolate, quite strong.


I punched the cigar, I taste raw tobacco, a little cocoa and pepper with a great draw. I lit the cigar with a torch because my soft flame ran out of gas. I taste coffee with some chocolate bitter sweetness. The coffee disappears but the chocolate gets stronger. Halfway I taste spicy fresh Wood with still a hint of dark chocolate. The final third is woody and peppery with a little bittersweet flavor on the background.


The draw is flawless and the smoke is white, thick and voluminous. The salt and pepper colored ash looks good. It’s very firm and the burn is straight. This is a medium full bodied and flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes I like this one more than the Habano.

Score: 91

Categories: 91, Dominican cigars, Flores y Rodriguez, PDR Cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Flor de Filipinas Corona

Flor de Filipinas is a hand made longfiller from, surprise surprise, the Philippines. Tabaqueria de Filipinas makes an array of different cigars including these Flor de Filipinas since 1993 when Gabriel Ripoll started the factory after working in tobacco for decades.


The Flor de Filipinas is blended with Cuban seed filler and binder, grown on the Phillipines and a wrapper from the Indonesian island Java where a lot of tobacco is grown but most of that tobacco is used for dry cured short filler cigars like Meharis, Olifant, Oud Kampen, Hajenius, Cortes and many more brands that are popular in Western Europe.


The wrapper is medium dark brown, a little darker than milk chocolate, wrinkly and has a sandpaper feel to it. The construction feels good but the cap is poorly handled. The ring is simple, red with a greenish logo and details and in small white letters the name of the cigar. There is a mild woody and barnyard aroma to the cigar. All by all, I wouldn’t pick this cigar up at a shop because of the looks and the mild aroma.


I used a double guillotine to cut the cigar. The cold draw is a bit tight. I taste a weird mild musty yet warm, almost cinnamon like flavor, mild and muted. The flavors change to a pasty mild herbal flavor. After that it’s a musty cinnamon again.


The draw is okay, nothing more than that and the gray ash breaks quickly. The gray smoke is thin and low in volume. The burn is good. There isn’t much of an evolution. This is a mild to medium bodied and flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No

Score: 77
number77

 

Categories: 77, Flor de Filipinas, Phillipian cigars, Tabaqueria de Filipinas | Tags: , ,

Fuente Crucet Habanero 87

Now this is a cigar I had to google to be honest, because I never heard of the brand and that’s no surprise because their Facebook hasn’t been updated since 2009, they have no website and the latest review on a blog that I can find is from 2008 as well. So I guess this boutique brand disappeared as quickly as it emerged to the market.


From what I read this was a mom & pop cigar factory in Miami where mom was in charge of the blend and their two cigars, the habanera 78 and habanero 87 were inspired by their offspring Desiree and Jeyson, who were born in Havana (hence the Habanera & Habanero name) in 1978 and 1987. The filler and binder are Dominican and the wrapper is Cameroon.


The Cameroon wrapper has a dark, coffee, color with some thin veins and feels like dry leather. The construction feels good, the single cap is positioned good and the cigar has a simple yet nice ring, brown with golden print and a backdrop with the map of Havana. The aroma is strong and all I can say is manure.


I cut the cigar, the draw is perfect and I taste a peppery yet mind hay flavor. After lighting I clearly taste the Cameroon wrapper, mild sweet and pretty herbal and spicy. Now the flavor is very nice yet hasn’t changed halfway. After that a mild milk chocolate joins the herbs just like some salt. Slowly the flavors change to cinnamon stick that I used to buy at the candy booth at the carnival when I was a young kid. The cigar also gets more strength.


The draw is great and the white ask is dense and firm. The smoke is medium full in thickness and volume, the ash is white. The burn is great. This is a medium bodied and medium flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and twenty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Won’t be possible. And if I could I wouldn’t, fine tasting cigar yet very one dimensional

Score: 88
number88

Categories: 88, American cigars, Fuente Crucet | Tags: , , , ,

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