Monthly Archives: May 2018

Cigar of the month May

In may I published 19 reviews and this is the the list, ranking from best to worst.

The cigar with the highest rating last month is:

Jas Sum Kral Red Knight Lonsdale with a 96 score

Now as for the complete list of cigars I published:

1) Jas Sum Kral Red Knight Lonsdale (Nicaragua) 96 points
2) Goviado Lancero (Nicaragua) 93 points
3) Jas Sum Kral Zlatno Sonce Soloman (Nicaragua) 92 points
4) Viaje Platino Lancero (Honduras) 92 points
5) Goviado Torpedo (Nicaragua) 92 points
6) La Flor Dominicana Andalusian Bull (Dominican Republic) 91 points
7) Eiroa the first 20 years Prensado (Honduras) 91 points
8) Alec Bradley Post Embargo Robusto (Honduras) 91 points
9) Mayimbe Robusto (Nicaragua) 91 points
10) La Sirena Merloin Robusto (Dominican Republic) 90 points
11) Aging Room Solera Fantastico (Dominican Republic) 89 points
12) Brick House Connecticut Toro (Nicaragua) 89 points
13) C.A.O. Pilon Robusto (Nicaragua) 89 points
14) La Gloria Cuban Duke (Cuba) 87 points
15) Don Ibarra Natural Belicoso (Dominican Republic) 86 points
16) Don Ibarra Natural Robusto (Dominican Republic) 86 points
17) Undercrown Shade Gordito (Nicaragua) 86 points
18) Don Ibarra Natural Gordo(Dominican Republic) 85 points
19) Gurkha 125h anniversary Rothschild (Dominican Republic) 79 points

 

 

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Aging Room Solera Sungrown Robusto

Aging Room is part of the portfolio of Boutique Blends, a company founded by Rafael Nodal. Well, not exactly, Boutique Blends is the new name of the old Habana Cuba Cigar Company, founded in 1996 during the cigar boom and famous for the (then flavored) Oliveros brand. Nodal, who had been selling the cigars in Miami through the internet decided to buy the company in 2002, and over the years released new cigars like Swag, Aging Room and King Habano decided to rename the company and steer away from flavored cigars in 2012, thats when the name Boutique Blends was born.

 


Aging Room is the biggest seller of the company, famous for the small batches but the solera cigars, made with the same solera method as used for liquor, is a regular production cigar that comes in four blends, a shade, a maduro, a sun grown and a corojo. I’m smoking the sun grown version. The cigar is a Dominican puro, with Dominican Habano as both filler and binder with a Dominican sun grown wrapper. I’m smoking the Fantastico, a 5 1/6×54 very blunt torpedo.

 


The wrapper, as far as I can see it, is quite dark, it has some oil but I can’t see much of it because the secondary ring is huge, add that to an average primary ring and two thirds of the cigar is covered. The rings look nice though, yellow with black letters, simple yet tasteful with the golden details. I like the unusual shape, its not really a torpedo because the head it too blunt, yet its not a parejo either because the head isn’t straight. The aroma is faint and floral.


I punched the cigar, the cold draw is good. The flavors I get in the cold draw is are sweet yet with a little lemon. After lighting it’s straight up coffee, a nice tasting coffee with a hint of pepper. After an inch I taste more lemon, some herbs and a little coffee. I get a bit of a bubbling sensation, like I’m drinking a carbonated soda. After a third I taste a stronger pepper with lemon but that carbonated sensation is gone. There’s also a herbal flavor, green herbs. The final third starts very peppery with a little vanilla.


The draw is great. The ash is dense, white and firm. The smoke could be thicker though. The burn is good. I would call this cigar medium full bodied and also medium full flavored with a decent balance. The smoke time is and hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Maybe a single once in a while

Score: 89
number89

Categories: 89, Aging Room, Dominican cigars, Tabacalera Palma | Tags: , , , , ,

Gurkha 125th Anniversary Rothchild

Back in early 2014 I visited Nicaragua and on my way back I spend a week in Florida, a few days in Miami and a few days in Orlando. In Miami I visited Miami Cigar & Co to hang out with Barry Stein and after work we went to a cigar bar downtown. Barry introduced me to Juan Lopez from Gurkha Cigars, a brand that just came to the Dutch market. Since I was working in the industry Juan asked me what my expectations were for Gurkha on th Dutch market and I told him that the prices were insane, three times MSRP and I showed him the prices on a Dutch webshop (prices are fixed, set by the distributer). That was something that said distributer did with all of his brands, he marked it up crazy thinking the end consumer was stupid and would buy it anyway. I have to say, he learned from his mistakes and his prices are now up to par. But it shocked Juan, so he invited me to come over to the office the next day.


I called my employer what to do, I mean, I was there on vacation and I wasn’t about the steal a brand from a competitor, especially not a brand I’m not a big fan off, but we decided that I should hear them out and let them know that if they weren’t happy with their distributer we would be open for talks. The Gurkha offices don’t look anything special from outside, just a boring office building but once you enter, wow, especially their lounge with bar in colonial style blows your mind, and the hidden room with all the blends is a nice feature too. Juan hooked me up with a nice backpack, that I still use, a Gurkha knife that has fallen to pieces after I forgot to take it out of my pocket while doing laundry and a whole lot of cigars. I had smoked several Gurkha’s before and I was, and still am, reluctant to light them due to previous experiences. But heck, here we go, maybe it surprises me.


Now this cigar, 6×54, is made on the Dominican Republic by a factory called Tabacos Don Leoncio, a factory I had never heard of before. I don’t know what else they produce, so I have no idea. And that’s also the problem with Gurkha, they have so many different factories make their cigars that it’s hard to find DNA in their lines. The blend consists of Brazilian, Dominican and Nicaraguan filler tobacco, an Ecuadorean Habano binder and a Cubra Habano wrapper from Brazil. The wrapper had a mild reddish shine to it but looks a bit bumpy. The construction is good and it has, what it looks like, a quadruple cap but that could just be an error from the roller. The ring is typically Gurkha with a drawing of a Gurkha, a black banner with white letters saying the name of the company and a lot of gold, detailed decorations and of course “by K. Hansotia”. The aroma is mild to medium strong and has a mild acidic barnyard smell to it. So far its all good, lets hope the cigar tastes as good as it looks and especially the ring.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw is a little on the tight side. I taste a little floral raisin with a little bite. I lit the cigar with a soft flame. The first puff is cedar with some pepper but with a weird milky chocolate flavor. Soon it changes to rotting leaves with a little chocolate. The chocolate gets stronger after a third. Halfway I taste some honey, that cheap milky chocolate and some bitter spices and pepper. Near the two thirds mark I taste some cedar again.


The smoke is medium thick but I get a decent amount of it. The draw is good, not great but still good. The burn is a bit off. The ash is dark but firm. This is a medium bodied, medium flavored cigar. The smoke time is about an hour and 45 minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No! This cigar confirmed my previous experiences with Gurkha.

Score: 79

79

Categories: 79, Dominican cigars, Gurkha | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Brick House Connecticut Toro

Brick House is a brand with a lot of history and named after the brick house that was the Newman family home back in Hungary, the only brick house in the village. Originally it was a Cuban puro and the brand was discontinued when the embargo hit but since a few years its back as a Nicaraguan cigar, and with such a success that it had offspring, including this Connecticut line.


Again, just like the Perla del Mar Maduro, the Newman website doesn’t even mention this cigar, not even on the dedicated Brick House website except for a banner which says “introducing the Connecticut” but then nothing. I found out that it’s a Nicaraguan made cigar, with Nicaraguan filler and binder and a Connecticut wrapper. Judging from the MSRP, which is around 6 dollar, this won’t be an American grown Connecticut Shade wrapper, but where it’s from I don’t know.


The wrapper is yellowish, pale, combine with my prejudice on Connecticut Shade wrappers and you can guess that I would not grab this cigar in a shop myself. I was given this cigar with the question to tell the gracious giver what my thoughts are. The simple yellow, black, gold and red ring I like, classy, well printed and I also like the American flag style foot ring with the stars and stripes, although there are only 5 stars and 5 stripes but that might be a reference to the history of Connecticut that i’m not aware of. If that’s the case, please comment and share your knowledge. The construction feels good, the shape of the cigar is nice and so is the triple cap. The aroma is surprisingly full and strong, its fermenting grass what I think of when I smell the cigar.


I punched the cigar. The cold draw is fine, it’s sweet yet peppery. After lighting I taste a very mild coffee, smooth yet a little salty. After half an inch just a little bit of sweetness and some mild herbs. After a third a very mild chocolate shows up too. I don’t taste any Connecticut Shade mustiness though which is a plus. Halfway I taste a little more salt. The chocolate is gone, it’s just a mild salt with some sweetness. The flavors don’t change after that, except that the cigar gets spicy and peppery.


The draw is great, the smoke is great. It’s white, thick and plentiful. The light ash is dense and firm. This is a mild cigar, smooth but mild. It lacks some evolution. The smoke time is almost two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s too mild for me but if you’re into mild cigars this is a good choice.

Score: 89
number89

Categories: 89, Brick House, Nicaraguan cigars, PENSA | Tags: , , , ,

Alec Bradley Post Embargo Robusto

In July of 2015 Alec Bradley showed a new line at the IPCPR, the Post Embargo, and Alan Rubin said that the name is based on his hope that the embargo ends soon to create a level playing field for all cigars. Rubin hates that due to the embargo the Cuban cigar is still seen as the benchmark for cigars and all others are labelled as ‘non Cubans’ which makes them sound inferior while non Cubans have won more #1 spots in Cigar Aficionado and other magazines than Cubans for over a decade now. And I agree with Alan on this, while there is no doubt that Cuba is the birthplace of the premium cigar and used to be the best by far it has been surpassed by Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic due to a lack of fertilizer and a mono culture which depleated the soil, unmotivated workers and a lack of quality control. I’m not saying all hope is lost, with the right steps Cuba could become the best cigar producer in the world again as their Vuelta Abajo soil is unique.


When I read about the release and the limited edition lancero I asked my friend George Sosa to bring a few lanceros on his European travels as I’m a big lancero lover. George didn’t but he did give me this robusto when I met him at Intertabac last september. The cigar is made by Raices Cubanas in Honduras with a Honduran wrapper, a double binder, one from Honduras and one from Nicaragua and fillers from the same countries too. The wrapper is quite dark, not maduro or obscure dark but still and it has a few darker smears over it. The construction feels good with a nice triple cap and a beautiful box pressing. The ring, well, its not my kind of art, but it was designed before the United States and Cuba opened embassies and rekindled their relationship so Alan Rubin was his time ahead by a few months when he designed the Cuban and American flag together with the Alec Bradley logo in the middle in all pastel colored decorations around, like on the TV Show Miami Vice. Although it’s not the kind of art I adore I must admit, it is something else than most cigar rings. The cigar has a nice barnyard aroma, medium strong.


I punched the cigar, as I like to do with Robusto sizes and thicker cigars. The cold draw is good with a dry raisin and cedar flavor, the aftertaste is white pepper. I lit the cigar with a soft flame. I taste a nice medium coffee flavor with a strong peppery aftertaste. After a centimeter it’s more spices, with a little lemon on the side. After a third I taste leather, cedar, nutmeg and the flavors are all dry. The flavor now changes into a bit of a corn chips flavor that I like a lot with some lemon. Soon after the lemon becomes stronger with a faint cacao. Near the end the cigar gets bitter, time to let it die in the Alec Bradley ashtray that I grabbed for the occasion.


The draw is very good and so is the smoke, thick, plentiful and white. The ash is silver gray with black smears, layered and firm. The burn is straight. The cigar is medium bodied yet full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, it’s not as good as the Tempus Nicaragua but still good enough to buy again.

Score: 91

91

Categories: 91, Alec Bradley, Nicaraguan cigars, Raices Cubanas | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Jas Sum Kral Red Knight Lonsdale

Another Jas Sum Kral Red Knight review, after the Lancero and the Toro? Yes! For three reasons, first one is that I love this blend, second one it that I haven’t reviewed this 6 1/2×42 Lonsdale yet and the final reason is the change of the factory, from Tabacalera Noa to Tabacalera Aragon, and I want to compare the two.


The blend hasn’t changed, moving from one factory to another, so its still a top secret filler blend with a half Mexican San Andres and half Jalapa seco leaf binder topped with Habano light claro from Ecuador as a wrapper. The toro scored high in my top 25 of last year, but that was still from the old factory I have to add.


I just love the look of this cigar, closed foot, pig tail, there is something about that. Add a shiny, oily, reddish brown wrapper with some thin veins, a drop dead gorgeous, detailed ring that has been edited a little since the first release as it now says ‘red knight’ too, and you have one of the prettiest cigars I have seen. The aroma reminds me of hay, with a little pepper, enough to make your nose tickle yet not enough to make you sneeze.


I cut the cigar. The cold draw is good, I taste some wood, raisin and pepper. After lighting I taste coffee with mild sweetness. Soon it changes to hay, dry wood with a little honey sweetness. Some earthy flavors show up too. The hay disappears. The honey changes to maple syrup and grows a bit in strength. Some pepper joins the flavors. On the background I also taste some vanilla. Halfway it’s soft wood with a maple syrup sweetness, pepper and that vanilla aftertaste. The final third starts woody with a little pepper, the sweetness and vanilla are gone. The few final puffs are full of milk chocolate with a little pepper.


The draw is amazing just like the burn. The ash is light in color. The smoke is medium full in volume and thickness. The cigar is smooth, medium full bodied and flavored. Even a retrohale doesn’t bother me at all. The smoke time is an hour and a forty five minutes, I nubbed it with the JSK Nub tool Riste gave me

Would I buy this cigar again? Hell yeah.

Score: 96

Categories: 96, Jas Sum Kral, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Aragon | Tags: , , , , ,

Eiroa The First 20 Year Prensado

Little over 20 years ago Christian Eiroa entered the cigar business with his father Julio and the brand Camacho. They built the brand to be one of the famous Honduran cigars before they sold it to Davidoff, rumored for a whopping 40 million dollars, in 2008 with Christian being an employee and Julio retiring. But that last part changed. In 2012 Christian started his CLE brands and Tabacaleras Unidas, opening the El Aladino factory in Danli while Julio Eiroa kept growing tobacco and started producing cigars with his other son Justo under the names Aladino, Rancho Luna and Tatascan.


The tobaccos used for this Eiroa the first 20 years lines are all grown by Julio Eiroa in the Jamastran valley of Honduras and that makes this a Honduran puro. I’m smoking the 6×46 Prensado that Christian himself gave me at the Intertabac trade show. The binder is supposed to be a very special tobacco that hasn’t been used in over 50 years, and special tobacco was always a trademark for the Eiroa family, they used specific proprietary tobacco for Camacho too.


The wrapper feels like velvet and is very dark, it doesn’t have much shine and I can see a thin vein. The well printed ring is red with golden letters and some black details. It says the Eiroa name and salut, amor, pesetas that Eiroa uses for all his cigars. It looks very nice. The cigar feels well constructed and the medium strong aroma reminds me of manure.


I cut the cigar and I taste floral notes and pepper. The draw is great. After lighting I taste coffee, mild sweet and mild bitter, with a hint of pepper. After almost an inch I taste earthy flavors with pepper and a mild lemon. After a third I taste a mild sweet earthy flavor, a bit floral and vanilla like. There is pepper on the background. All of a sudden I taste salt too. The final third starts out stronger with more pepper and salt on a bit of earthy flavor.


The draw is great and the smoke is thick and full. The fragile ash is dark. The burn is good. The medium bodied cigar is nice, balanced and medium flavored. The smoke time is ninety minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I wouldn’t mind smoking them more often.

Score: 91
number91

Categories: 91, Eiroa, El Aladino, Honduran cigars | Tags: , , , ,

La Sirena Merlion Robusto

In 2009 Arielle Ditkowich started La Sirena cigars with a cigar made at My Father Cigars in Nicaragua and three years later she released the second La Sirena line, the La Sirena Merlion made on the Dominican Republic at the La Aurora factory which isn’t a surprise because back then the cigars were distributed by Nestor Miranda’s Miami Cigar & Co, who’s the distributer of La Aurora in the USA, and has a few private labels made by My Father. So the connections are all there.


I met Arielle briefly when I visited Miami Cigar & Co a few years ago and she handed me this Merlion Robusto. I had smoked the My Father made La Sirena cigar but never this one and it’s time to do it now. The cigar is made with Dominican, Nicaraguan and Brazilian filler, a Brazilian binder and a corona from Ecuador wrapper.  La Sirena released two more lines, the Oceano and the Old School, the last one is made at NATSA where the Oceano is made at Quesada on the Dominican Republic. Or at least, were made by? Since 2014 there have been stories that La Sirena would move production to La Zona, but the La Sirena website still mentions NATSA, La Aurora and My Father.


The wrapper is a nice reddish brown, soft to the touch with a nice shine and a few thin veins. The ring is amazing, only shaped and huge with lots of shiny silver and just a little red and blue with a drawing of a mythical creature, a mermaid lion mix, a merlion. And since my wife a native Singaporean I have a connection with merlions, as that is the most famous statue of Singapore. The cigar has a mild manure aroma and the construction feels good, evenly packed , the shape is good and the cap is nice.


I used my xikar cutter to decap the cigar. The cold draw is a little loose, mild peppery and woody. After lighting I taste a strong coffee flavor with a little cedar. After a third I taste cedar with a little spice and pepper. Halfway I taste cedar with a nutty flavor and a slightly stronger pepper. The final third is spicier, with more pepper and a hint of chocolate.


The draw is good. The smoke is white with a grayish glow, it’s medium thick and full. The burn is razor sharp. The salt & pepper colored ash is firm. The cigar had a few years of age and it shows, as it’s very mellow and smooth. Medium bodied and flavored. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? A single or maybe a fiver.

Score: 90

Categories: 90, Dominican cigars, La Sirena, Tabacalera La Aurora | Tags: , , , , , ,

CAO Pilon Robusto

A few years back, while I was still working for The Longfiller Company, the largest independent cigar importer in The Netherlands, I walked into the office one day and my employer said “Stijn Elbersen was here and he left a box of CAO Pilon Churchill, I love them, try one”. I was surprised for two reasons, first that Stijn visited our office, Stijn is an important manager at STG, a company that we didn’t do much business with at the time, and that my employer, who’s very loyal to what he likes, only a few brands that he enjoys a lot, liked a CAO. I grabbed a cigar, lit it and I was under impressed.


At the last Intertabac trade show I ran into Stijn and Rick Rodriguez, we spend some time chatting and they gave me the Fuma em Gorda, Anaconda and this CAO Pilon Robusto. The Pilon is quite unique as a very old method of fermenting the tobacco has been used for the Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. Nowadays fermentation is done in huge, rectangle stacks, creating more heat than the Pilon style, which is done in smaller, round, stacks. Due to the smaller stacks the temperature is lower, so it takes longer for the leafs to fully ferment but it also leads to a bigger reduction of ammonia and sugar. Add some Nicaraguan filler and binder from Esteli and Ometepe to the wrapper and there you have the CAO Pilon.


The wrapper feels lacquered, its coffee colored with a nice shine and a long thin vein. The beige ring is big and simple, stylish with black letters pilon in the centre and the CAO logo. The size 5×52 is mentioned as well as Rick Rodriguez’s signature. The triple capped head is beautifully rounded and the cigar feels evenly firm everywhere. The aroma is lacking though, I don’t smell a lot when I sniff the cigar.


I punched the cigar. The cold draw is good, I taste a mild sweet raisin flavor. After lighting I taste a nice smooth coffee. Slowly the flavor changes to smooth cedar with floral notes. Halfway I still taste the cedar, with the floral notes, a little vanilla and pepper. The pepper fades, the floral and vanilla notes are getting stronger. Near the end I taste some toast and pepper.


The draw is great and the white ash is very dense. The smoke is thick and full. The burn is decent. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s better than I remembered but nah.

Score: 89
number89

Categories: 89, CAO, Nicaraguan cigars, STG Nicaragua | Tags: , , , ,

Viaje Platino Lancero

While browsing through my Lancero humidor to pick a lancero for this months “15th on the month” lancero review this Viaje Platino Lancero caught my eye and I decided that it would be the lancero of the month. I’ve had it in my possession for a long time so I don’t know if this is one of the regular release Viaje Platino Lanceros or if it came from the Trifecta release but anyway, its a lancero, it’s Viaje and it’s aged.


The cigar is made in Honduras at Raices Cubanas, where most Viaje cigars are rolled. It’s a Nicaraguan puro though, with a Nicaraguan Corojo 99 wrapper in a 7 1/2 x38 size. Now if this cigar is part of the Trifecta release, then the cigar was rolled in Februari 2011, if its from the regular release the cigar is even older so we can talk about an aged, almost vintage, cigar here, which will have an effect on the flavor, let’s find out.


The cellophane wrapper cigar has it’s foot protected with a piece of cloth. There are two rings, a beige ring with the green viaje logo and silver outlines and a secondary, beige ring with silver letters saying platino. The wapper is quite dark with thin veins all over, it feels like velvet. The cigar feels evenly packed, with the right amount of bounce when you squeeze it gently and it has a nice small pigtail. The medium strong aroma is deep and dark, like dark chocolate with some pepper and a muddy soil.


The cold draw is good, I taste sultanas and white pepper. After lighting I taste a spicy yet mildly acidic coffee. After a few puffs I also taste a honey like sweetness too. After half an inch I taste some soil with a lot of pepper. After a third I taste dry wood with pepper, herbs and a little floral flavor on the background. Halfway the floral gets a little stronger just like the pepper, and I also taste a little lemon. The cigar mellows out to the end.


The draw is great with a thick and full smoke. The dark ash is not very firm. The burn is good on this well balanced full bodied, full flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? I wish

Score: 92
number92

Categories: 92, Honduran cigars, Raices Cubanas, Viaje | Tags: , , , ,

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