Monthly Archives: August 2018

Cigar of the month August

August was a month of 12 published reviews, including one with the name I used as a nickname on forums like Club Stogie and Cigar Asylum when forums were still the place to be.

The cigar with the highest rating last month is:

La Preferida 452 with a 95 score

Now as for the complete list of cigars I published:

1) La Preferida 452 (Nicaragua) 95 points
2) Ave Maria Argentum (Nicaragua) 94 points
3) Guayacan Maduro Robusto (Nicaragua) 92 points
4) Leon Jimenes Don Fernando (Dominican Republic) 92 points
5) Xiphos Habano Robusto (Costa Rica) 92 points
6) Undercrown Sun Grown Belicoso (Nicaragua) 91 points
7) E.L.V.I.S. Torpedo (Nicaragua) 91 points
8) El Titan de Bronze Gran Reserva Maduro Churchill (USA) 91 points
9) Casa Magna Domus Magnus Tiberus (Nicaragua) 90 points
10) Winston Churchill by Davidoff The Artist (Dominican Republic) 90 points
11) Ahuriba Light Corona (Aruba) 90 points
12) Swag Lancero (Dominican Republic) 88 points

 

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

Ave Maria Argentum

Before I started to work for a Dutch cigar importer & distributer, I used to order online from the USA and one of the cigars that I ordered a lot was the Diesel Unholy Cocktail. When I started to work for that importer & distributer I felt like I couldn’t do that anymore since it was not a legal thing to do as its considered tax evading, you are only allowed to import tobacco if you have a license with the exemption of 50 cigars that you carry across the border in person and because all my accounts were cigar shops that feel the pain of this import. But I did miss my Diesel Unholy Cocktails. So I kept asking my employer if there was a way to import these but everytime he would reply “these are made for the wholesaler that is part of Cigars International so they probably won’t sell to us anyway”. Well, after three years of nagging he finally decided to mail Meier & Dutch and much to his surprise and my happiness they were open to the idea. On top of that I ran into the responsible person a few weeks later at Tabacalera Oliva in Esteli, Nicaragua and that sealed the deal.


We started with the Diesel, Manowar and a few other cigars and slowly expanded our business with Meier & Dutch but right before the Cigaragua shop was opened I got fired as my employer had his doubts if I would be a good shopmanager. He’s wrong, but as an employee you don’t always get a chance to prove that. Too bad, because a lot of new items came in just to be sold in that shop and nowhere else in The Netherlands. Amongst those cigars is this Ave Maria Argentum, just like the Diesel Unholy Cocktail and the Manowar made by A.J. Fernandez in Esteli, Nicaragua. I have been to the factory and its very impressive, huge, clean and I could roam free without a chaperone, something that didn’t happen anywhere else. I met Abdel too a few times, now that his English improved we can actually hold a conversation, something that was impossible before because of my lack of Spanish.


What I notice first is the shape and the color, It’s almost a flying pic but there is just a tiny difference in shape. The cigar is a 5×58 perfecto. The color is striking because its almost black, I have never seen a wrapper this dark and you can see that the sun did its work as the surface of the toothy wrapper looks like leather. Well, thats as far as you can see the wrapper because the ring is huge, and to add to that they added a second ring too. The second ring is black with big silver lining and the word Argentum written in font that makes me think of medievel times and knights. The real ring has the same black & silver theme going on with a knight, the english crest and a banner with silver letters ave maria. On the back the ring has a red cross. I like the look of the ring. The cigar feels rock hard I just hope it doesn’t have a tight draw and the strong aroma reminds me of a hay stack in a field surrounded by some cows and an angry bull.


I couldn’t punch the cigar so I had to cut it with my flat cut. The cold draw is great with some pepper on my lips. I lit the cigar carefully, expecting a tight start but from that the start the draw is good and I taste coffee with chocolate. Once the burn gets to the thicker part the flavors open and I taste cedar, pepper, cinnamon and a hint of cacao. I also taste a little sweetness, icing sugar like sweetness. The sweetness is getting a little stronger, just like the cedar. After a third I taste a nice spice mix with sugar and pepper, this is the sweetness I expect from a Maduro wrapper like this. Halfway the base flavor becomes nutty with pepper and a little bit of sweetness. Slowly but surely the cigar gets stronger and so does the pepper, the nuts change to wood.


The draw is wonderful. The ash is light colored, dense and firm. The burn had to be corrected once but that always happens to me when lighting a cigar with a foot like that. The smoke is medium in thickness and volume. The cigar starts out medium bodied but evolved to full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? This is a great cigar!

Score: 94
94

Categories: 94, Ave Maria, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , ,

Xiphos CR Habano Robusto

I did a series of reviews on Xiphos cigars, both of their Costa Rican offerings as well as their Nicaraguan offerings but I missed one. The Costa Rica made Xiphos CR Habano Robusto and I guess it’s time to smoke and review this 5×54 robusto now.


The blend of this cigar consists of Peruvian and Dominican fillers, a binder from Peru and a hybrid Habano wrapper from Ecuador. I liked all the Xiphos cigars that I smoked, even the Connecticut scored high for a Connecticut Shade cigar so I have some expectations for this stick.


The wrapper is gorgeous, a reddish coffee brown color, a few thin veins and a very nice glossy shine from the oils in the leaf. The rings are the blind and silver ones, as mentioned in the other reviews and the Greek theme fits the name. The finish of this cigar is great, a great cap, good shape, it feels evenly packed and well constructed. The aroma is strong, it reminds me of horses and spices.


I flat cut the cap, the cold draw is perfect. I taste some dry sweetness and pepper. After lighting I taste a smooth coffee, very flavorful. After half an inch the flavor changes to more woody with a little lime. Halfway I get spicy cedar with floral notes, some sweetness and a little pepper. The pepper slowly gets a little stronger.


The draw is great. The ash is beautifully layered, light gray in color and firm. The burn is straight. The smoke is medium thick and full. This cigar is mild to medium bodied and medium flavored, very smooth and nice. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, this is a perfect morning cigar.

Score: 92
number92

Categories: 92, Costa Rican cigars, Tabaccos de Costa Rica, Xiphos | Tags: , , ,

Hoyo de Monterrey Hoyo de Tradicion Epicure

Now even though Hoyo de Monterrey sounds Cuban, is a Cuban brand and is named after the plantation at San Juan y Martinez there is also a non Cuban copy, owned by General Cigars, which is part of the STG group and they make their Hoyo de Monterrey cigars in Honduras.


This Hoyo de Tradicion line is made with fillers from Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic wrapped in a Honduran rosado wrapper from Jamastran. The cigar that I am smoking was a gift from an American friend and comes from 2006, so it has been aged for over a decade.


The reddish wrapper looks a bit dry but beautiful with thin veins. The construction feels good, the cigar has the right amount of resistance when I gently squeeze it but the cap isn’t very pretty, then again, it’s not horrible either. The ring is simple, white with red and gold and I would have liked it if there was any mention of Honduras on the ring.  The medium strong aroma has a bit of a manure smell, no ammonia though after more than a decade of aging.


The cold draw is great, mild sweet but also a dry tobacco flavor. Directly after lighting I taste a very sweet coffee. After just a few puffs the cigar turns peppery and a little harsh. And it keeps getting worse, the harshness is growing. There is also a saltines going on. After a third I taste a harsh, young wood flavor, sharp, unrefined and harsh. There’s also a little pepper. Halfway a lemony acidity shows up with the flavors I tastes before. The harshness fades in the final third, I taste pepper with some floral flavors.


The draw is good. The light gray ash is dense and tight. The smoke is thin though, and not a lot in volume. The burn is all right. Medium bodied and medium flavored is what I call this cigar, with an hour and a half smoke time.

Would I buy this cigar again? Damn right I won’t.

Score: 85
number85

Categories: 85, Honduran cigars, Honduras American Tobacco SA, Hoyo de Monterrey | Tags: , , ,

Aruhiba Light Corona

Years ago someone asked me about the Dutch antilles islands and why there isn’t a tobacco culture even though the islands are in the Caribbean. I couldn’t answer and had to guess that the soil or the climate weren’t suitable for tobacco. But then I found out about a small tobacco plantation and factory on Aruba called Aruhiba, the project of one man, Benjamin Petrocchi.


Petrocchi was a cigar salesman for years and in 2004 he decided to start his own cigar company too, so he planted some tobacco on his home island of Aruba and started rolling cigars at his shop in 2008, only in 2010 he started rolling for production but the production is low and the cigars are only sold at his own shop where you can see him roll cigars almost daily. One of my friends went to Aruba and brought me two different Aruhiba cigars, the natural robusto and the light corona where the light has a clearly darker wrapper than the natural, so the name is a bit misleading. I have had them in my humidor for at least 5 years but it’s time to try them now, staring with the Light Corona.


Once I take the cigar out of the cellophane I immediately smell a medium strong tarred wood aroma, the construction feels hard, but evenly hard and the cap is put on nicely. The ring is simple, yellow with brown letters and look photocopied so that the small text ‘cultivated and hand rolled in Aruba’ is hardly readable. Th wrapper is nice and dark, has some shine to it but has a lot of veins and that doesn’t make the cigar look too appealing, but never judge a book by its cover, I had ugly cigars that were amazing and beautiful cigars that I never want to smoke again.


I cut the cigar and the cold draw is fine with a flavor that made me think I lost my mind: peppery fried chicken but after cleaning my palate with cold water and tasting again I come to the same conclusion. After lighting I taste earthy tones with dark wood. After a few puffs I also taste some sweetness and a hefty dose of pepper. After half an inch i taste cedar with pepper with a little bit of a Connecticut Shade mustiness but only a hint. That mustiness fades away almost immediately and I taste cedar with some pepper and lime. After a third the cigar becomes meaty with pepper. Halfway the cigar becomes a little nutty with cedar and pepper. I also get a little hint of cocoa. Near the end I also get a mild cinnamon flavor.


The draw is great and the smoke is thick and plentiful. The ash is quite dark and beautifully layered, the construction is top notch on this cigar. The burn is straight as an arrow. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? If I’m ever in Aruba I will buy some as a souvenir but I won’t stock up with boxes. But the cigar did exceed my expectations.

Score: 90
number90

Categories: 90, Aruhiba, Dutch cigars | Tags: , ,

El Titan de Bronze Gran Reserva Maduro Churchill

There are days that you walk into your man-cave, cigar shop, garage, deck or wherever you usually smoke your cigars and you feel like you want a long smoke, something other than the usual robusto sized smokes. I had that feeling today when I finished dinner, cleaned the kitchen, brushed my teeth and did a load of laundry. I felt like a mindless action movie and a long cigar. And I was lucky enough to have the time for that, the location for that (my fully equiped man-cave) and plenty of cigars, so I walked into my walk-in humidor, looked around and saw this beauty from a factory I rate highly since the day I walked in there, El Titan de Bronze Gran Reserva Maduro Churchill.


Now the first time I ever came across El Titan de Bronze was in may 2009, it was my first trip to the USA, it was well before I found a job in the industry but I was a passionate cigar smoker and cigars brought me to the USA, it was a road trip with a few guys from Cigar Asylum and every night we had a herf in another state with other guys from Cigar Asylum. Our first stop was Miami and you can’t do Miami without going to Calle Ocho, especially when you’re a cigar smoker. We walked to El Rey de Los Habanos, the factory of Don Pepin Garcia, but it was impossible to see the workers there so we crossed the street to El Titan de Bronze, a factory we never heard of, but once we walked in the owner Sandy Cobas welcomed us like old friends and showed us around, told the history of the place and she noticed that we were more interested than regular tourists so she showed us the aging room, let us smell the different tobaccos and her husband got us Cuban coffee. Instead of a 10 minute visit like we expected we stayed over 2 hours. Now the amazing part, 18 months later and about 90lbs lighter I walk into the factory again, Sandy looks at me and says “wow, you lost a lot of weight”, I was surprised that she recognized me a year an a half later even with my weight loss. Since then I make it a tradition to stop by El Titan every time I’m in Miami.


This El Titan de Bronze Gran Reserva Maduro Churchill is a bit longer than the classic Cuban Churchill, 7 1/2×50 instead of 7×50 but I don’t mind. The cigar is made with filler from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Honduras, an Ecuadorean binder and a Brazilian wrapper. The dark Brazilian wrapper has a rustic look to it with tooth and here and there some ’stripper glitter’ shine from minerals. The aroma is strong, it reminds me of a walk in the woods in the late summer, right before the leaves start to fall. The construction feels good and the triple cap is placed very straight and sharp. The cigar has a double ring, the bottom ring is a small red ring with quite thick gold lining and white letters with thin golden shadow saying Maduro in a beautiful font while the regular band has the same red color, a little thinner gold lining, a golden crest with white letters T B accompanied by golden tobacco leaves. On the top there is a white banner with red letters El Titan de Bronze and beneath the crest white curly letters Gran Reserva. On the back there is a white thick banner saying ‘hand made little Havana Miami’. The print quality is pretty good, especially the gold shadow on the white letters.


I punch the cigar and the cold draw is a bit tight, but I can always cut the cigar later if this becomes an issue. I taste pepper on my lips and some raisin on the tip of my palate. I lit the cigar with my Ronson varaflame lighter from the late 1960’s. The first puffs bring me straight back to little Havana, sweet strong Cuban coffee soon with a dark chocolate aftertaste. After an inch I taste peanuts with some pepper and a little honey. On the background I still taste some of that dark chocolate. After a third I mainly taste chocolate with some minor nut flavor on the background. Halfway I taste nutmeg with a little metallic flavor and a bit of salt with the chocolate on the background. Slowly some pepper shows up again. The salty peanut flavor makes a comeback. The cigar gains some strength, mainly the pepper but the peanuts grow stronger too. At the end I taste nuts and a very strong pepper.


The draw is good after I cut the cigar, tried a few puffs with the punch but a cut worked better. The smoke is a little thin with a decent amount. The ash is light, almost white, dense and firm. The cigar is medium plus bodied, medium flavored. There was some nice evolution and the ratio was great. The smoke time was an hour and forty-five minutes, just a little bit longer than that mindless action movie I watched, The Mechanic.

Would I buy this cigar again? When I’m in Miami again I’ll visit Sandy again and buy some cigars.

Score: 91
91

Categories: 91, American cigars, El Titan de Bronze, Tabacalera El Titan de Bronze | Tags: , , , ,

Leon Jimenes Don Fernando

My nickname on several different cigar forums is Don Fernando, my actual name is Ferdinand so it seemed like a good nickname back then.  And when the opportunity rose to buy a couple of the illusive Leon Jimenes Don Fernando cigars I had to bite, I mean, with that name I just had to have them. It was the personal blend and vitola for Don Fernando León Asensio, someone we all know from La Aurora and who passed away in the spring of 2009.


The size of this corona is 5 5/8×42 and that makes it a #4 if you compare it to Cuban sizes, or you can just say corona. The cigar is made with Dominican tobacco and a Cameroon wrapper, which sets it apart from the regular Leon Jimenes Corona which has a Connecticut Shade wrapper.


The wrapper looks very smooth for a Cameroon wrapper and is clearly darker than Connecticut Shade so it is a Don Fernando for sure. There is only one thin, flattened vein on the back. The ring is the same as all other Leon Jimenes, red with gold but for some reason the print quality looks better than any of the other Leon Jimenes cigars I have seen and smoked. The construction feels great, the cap is good just like the shape of the cigar. The cigar has a mild aroma which smells very floral with lavender and other flowers.


I cut the cigar with my Xikar butterfly cutter. The cold draw is fine, I taste floral flavors. A classic vitola deserves a classic light so I used a match. I taste coffee with honey sweetness. The classic Cameroon spice and herbs shine in a cigar with this small ring gauge. After a third the cigar gets a little strength, I taste a little nut, herbs and pepper. Halfway the cigar gets very floral but with a little pepper.


The draw is awesome, the smoke is thick but not crazy thick and a good amount of it. The dense ash is white. The burn is flawless. This cigar is mild to medium bodied and medium flavored but smooth, well balanced. The smoke time is an hour and ten minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? If I can find the real deal, yeah.

Score: 92
number92

Categories: 92, Dominican cigars, Leon Jimenes, Tabacalera La Aurora | Tags: , , , ,

E.L.V.I.S. Torpedo

Years ago, and I mean a decade ago, I joined a cigar forum/board called Club Stogie and it was a fountain of knowledge and friendships. But then some investor bought the place and two other boards, fused them together to puff.com and the vibe was gone, it sucked so I was happy that the 11 Club Stogie moderators decided to start their own new boars, Cigar Asylum and I’ve been a member since day one, somewhere in 2008.


Now because of all the friendships made there me and another Dutch member got the idea to do a roadtrip and when we talked about that on the board 2 Florida based botl’s said they wanted to join in. So in the spring of 2009 we flew to Orlando, picked the other guys up and started on an epic road trip all along the east coast, from Key Largo all the way up to Rochester, NY  with a herf every single night, and then we flew to Las Vegas for the final chapter of the trip. Over 30 people flew from all over the US to Vegas to herf with us those days. Andrew Wood from GDW Cigars, who’s also responsible for the Don Fernando cigars, Reserva Miraflor and Goviada, had a special batch and blend made for the Vegas days called ELVIS, which stood for Epic Las Vegas International Smoke. And I have a few of these cigars left.


Now I can’t tell you anything about the cigar except the looks because I don’t know anything about the blend. And it’s been years since I smoked one so I don’t even know what it tasted like anymore. All I can tell you is that the cellophane started to discolor and that the cigar feels like velvet when I take it out of the cello. The cigar has a medium brown color and a few veins. The top of the torpedo is well finished and the construction feels good. The strong is quite strong for an 8 year old cigar and reminds me of hay and horses. Then the ring, well, it was just a small batch, not for retail purposes so the print quality isn’t super high, but hey, most companies, especially the small ones, wouldn’t even put a ring on for the occasion, and the ring is cool. Its a black and white Elvis but the middle part is turned around, I mean, the top and the legs of Elvis are in black on a white background his torso is white on a black background and in golden lettering it says ELVIS 2009 and then in black Las Vegas Cigar Asylum. Pretty cool right, if you were there.


It’s a torpedo so punching is not an option so it’s butterfly cut time. The cold draw is good and I taste some raisin but then I get a strong pepper on my lips. I taste a strong sweet coffee flavor. After a centimeter the sweetness is strong with some pepper and a little bit of coffee and leather. After an inch I taste a mild chocolate flavor with some pepper. Halfway I taste a metallic flavor, some wood and a lot of pepper and still that sugary sweetness. Near the end the pepper gains more strength.


I would like to see the smoke thicker and more in volume. The draw is perfect. The ash is gray, dense and firm. The burn is straight. This cigar is medium bodied, full flavored, well balanced and with a good evolution. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Thats impossible

Score: 91
91

Categories: 91, E.L.V.I.S., Guillen Cigars/GDW, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , ,

Swag Elite

Swag is one of the brands that falls under the Boutique Blends company of Rafael Nodal, just like the better known Aging Room. And I knew nothing about this cigar when I bought it on a trip to Florida a few years ago, I just saw a lancero that I didn’t know and never smoked so I bought it. The price tag is still attached, I paid $ 6.46 for it, and today I’m smoking it as part of my series of lancero reviews.


A google search taught me that the cigars are made at Tabacalera Palma, which isn’t a surprise considering its part of Boutique Blends and it’s a Dominican puro. The 7×40 lancero is completely made with Dominican Habano Ligero tobacco, from filler to binder and wrapper.


The cigar is almost completely covered with wax paper with the Swag logo, a nice way of wrapping the cigar. The ring is burgundy with white letters and several golden, black and red lines on top and bottom. The foot ring has the same color scheme but says Puro Domincana. The shape is beautiful, well finished head and the construction feels good too. The wrapper is mild oily, has an espresso color but with a reddish glow and it looks smooth. The aroma is mild and woody.


I cut the cigar. The cold draw is good. I taste a peppery flavor. After lighting it with my vintage Ronson. I taste a cinnamon and other spices flavor with some sweetness and pepper. The cigar gets peppery, with some nutty wood and a maple syrup sweetness. After a third I taste sharp wood with pepper. The cigar is a bit harsh and a both ashy halfway because the cigar starts to bleed tar. I cut a piece off to rescue the cigar. The ash flavor is gone but the cigar continues to be peppery and slightly harsh.


The draw is great, the cigar is well made. The smoke is good in volume but could be a bit thicker. The light gray ash is dense. It isn’t firm though. The burn is great. I would call this cigar full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? This isn’t my cigar.

Score: 88
number88

Categories: 88, Dominican cigars, Swag, Tabacalera Palma | Tags: , , , ,

Guayacan Maduro Robusto

In 2013 Noel Rojas, blender and owner of Guayacan and of the Tabacalera New Order of the Ages factory in Esteli, Nicaragua, showcased his Guayacan Maduro at the IPCPR trade show but the cigar never got released due to inconsistency in the tobacco. A year later, July 2014, he showcased it again in a slightly different blend with Nicaraguan tobacco and a Mexican San Andres wrapper and that cigar did hit the market. The cigar were made at the Tabacalera Aromas de Jalapa factory, owned by Rojas back then before he moved on to his new factory after leaving the distribution deal with House of Emilio too. I met Noel in person in Esteli in May 2015 and his cigars are available on the Dutch market because of my involvement. I reviewed the Guayacan Habano earlier this year and I also reviewed some private labels made by Noel Rojas for others like the Kilo made for Barry Stein and Jas Sum Kral made for Riste Riatevski.


Before I got Noel a distribution deal in The Netherlands with my then (and now previous) employer Noel send me a few boxes of cigars as a sampler, most of which I handed out to my employer and some of our regular customers to get their impression but of course I kept a few for myself and in hindsight I should have kept more. The cigar that I’m smoking is a 5×50 robusto that comes wrapped in cellophane. Once I get the cigar out of the cellophane I see a beautiful almost very dark wrapper with a very fine tooth and my mouth starts to water as my brain thinks of a chocolate bar. There are no big veins visible. The construction feels good and the cigar has a pretty triple cap. The ring is also a piece of art, the edge of the paper is printed in a bright and beautiful gold, there is a black backdrop with a golden crown on top and a red banner with the brand name beneath the crown and a smaller red banner with ‘by Noel Rojas” at the bottom. In between there is a scenic picture of a tobacco barn and a tobacco field underneath a beaming sun. The cigar has a mild sweet aroma mixed with wood, I don’t smell any ammonia.


I punched the cigar and find the cold draw to be great. I taste dry raisin with pepper. I lit the cigar with my Ronson varaflame. Instantly I taste coffee. It’s not a bitter coffee but a nice coffee with spices. Soon after chocolate joins the spiced coffee. The flavors are very dry, guess I need to drink a lot of water with this cigar. The flavors remind me of autumn.


After a third I taste wood, autumn leaves and a tiny bit of cocoa. The cigar still gives me a dry mouth. Halfway the cocoa changes into a flavor that reminds me of chocolate paste that you use on a slice of bread. There is also a little sweetness from the Maduro wrapper and warm spices. On the background I also taste some macadamia nuts. After two thirds the chocolate changes back to cocoa powder with the leaves and some spices. There is a nice pepper in the aftertaste without becoming to overpowering. At the final puffs I taste some nuts again with a strong pepper.


The draw is great, close to perfect. The smoke is medium thick and I would have liked to see thicker smoke and more of it. The burn is sharp and leaves a white ash. The ash is firm. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored with a decent amount of evolution and a good balance.

Would I buy this cigar again? I like it but I like the Habano better.

Score: 92

92

Categories: Guayacan, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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