Monthly Archives: January 2019

Cigar of the month January

Since the end of the year is an expensive month for most of us, I decided to smoke and review some budget cigars for the month of January. I wish I hadn’t though, even though some budget cigars preformed really well, and others had a good price-quality ratio, I rather pay a few dollars extra and have an almost guaranteed cigar enjoyment.

As for this month, the cigar with the highest rating is:
Diesel Unholy Cocktail with a 95 score

Now as for the complete list of cigars I published:

1) Diesel Unholy Cocktail Belicoso (Nicaragua) 95 points
2) Calixto Lopez Torpedo (Nicaragua) 91 points
3) Nica Libre Torpedo (Nicaragua) 91 points
4) Blue Ribbon Robusto (Nicaragua) 90 points
5) Joya Black Toro (Nicaragua) 89 points
6) Alec Bradley Spirit of Cuba Corona (Honduras) 89 points
7) Flor de Oliva Lancero (Nicaragua) 88 points
8) Benchmade Toro (Nicaragua) 87 points
9) Schizo Maduro Robusto (Honduras) 87 points
10) Alec Bradley Spirit of Cuba Habano (Honduras) 87 points
11) Alec Bradley Spirit of Cuba Natural (Honduras) 86 points
12) Cuba Libre Epicure (Honduras) 85 points
13) Schizo Robusto (Nicaragua) 85 points
14) Miami Mafia Torpedo (Nicaragua) 85 points
15) Chincalero Fuerte Picadillos (Nicaragua) 84 points
16) Non Plus Ultra Maduro Toro (Honduras) 84 points
17) Berger & Argenti Mooch Maduro Corona (Nicaragua) 84 points
18) Reposado Maduro Toro (Nicaragua) 84 points
19) Oro de Esteli Robusto (Nicaragua) 83 points
20) Jose L Piedro Cazadores (Cuba) 83 points
21) Nestor Reserva Maduro Torpedo (Honduras) 82 points
22) La Flor de Rosa Churchill (Nicaragua) 82 points
23) Don Tomas Clasico Robusto (Honduras) 80 points
24) Reposado Habano Toro (Nicaragua) 79 points
25) La Rica Churchill (Nicaragua) 78 points
26) Cucaracha Nub (Nicaragua) 77 points
27) JR Edicion Limitada Robusto (undisclosed) 77 points
28) Oro de Esteli Robusto (Nicaragua) 77 points
29) Quorum Toro (Nicaragua) 73 points

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Non Plus Ultra Maduro Toro

Non Plus Ultra, as far as I know this cigar was only sold in The Netherlands and it was a private label for the Non Plus Ultra Cigar Shop in Den Bosch, which is now called Van Dalen but still owned by the same owner who’s also a distributor and owner of Van Dalen Cigars in Rotterdam and Cigaragua in Amsterdam. The same cigars are still available in The Netherlands under the Davila name at the Compaenen group.


Now these cigars were made by Carlos Torano in Honduras before Torano was acquired by STG, although the origin of the cigars goes way back. It’s actually an old Cuban brand that has ties to both Hoyo de Monterrey and Ramon Allones. If you google the brand you will find old rings, of the early 1900’s that are similar to the current Hoyo de Monterrey ring and the old Ramon Allones ring.


Now this cigar is aged, at least a decade old but the dark wrapper still looks very tasty. The ring is simple, just glossy paper with red and blue squares and a brushed copper name. The construction feels good, the shape looks good, the cap is nice. The cigar has a mild wood and tar aroma.


I cut the cigar, the cols draw is a little tight. I taste a little pepper. After lighting I taste a dry, old coffee flavor. After half an inch I taste cocoa with a musty taste. Halfway I taste dry toast with nutmeg and pepper, quite dry. The final third starts with some marzipan sweetness, low grade marzipan though with some harshness and mild musty. The cigar gets stronger with more harshness at the end.

Hond
The dense ash is white. The draw is decent. The gray smoke is thin and low in volume. The burn is razor sharp. I would say this is a medium bodied and flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? That’s a firm no!

Score: 84
number84

Categories: 84, Honduran cigars, Honduras American Tobacco SA, Nicaraguan cigars, Non Plus Ultra | Tags: , , , ,

La Rica Churchill

I remember smoking this cigar early in my cigar life and liking it, then I remember smoking it years later and not liking it anymore. Let’s see if this tubed Churchill makes the first category or the latter one. I tried to find some information online and only saw the cigar mentioned on Belgian and U.K. based websites, nowhere else, so I’m guessing these cigars aren’t available in the USA.


The cigars are made in Nicaragua, that I know, because it says so on the tube, Hecho a mano Nicaragua natural. And the tax ring around the cigar tells me I bought this in Belgium, most likely at Huis Verloo in Antwerp for the price of € 7,50.


The milk chocolate colored wrapper isn’t the best looking wrapper I have ever seen, to put it mildly. It has a few medium thick, unflattened veins and a color that looks just a bit off. The ring is simple, yellow and black with a abstract sun and black letters La Rica.  The construction has an even feel but the cap could look better. The aroma is quite pungent, acidic with some milk chocolate.


After cutting the cigar I taste a little sweetness and pepper with a great draw. After lighting I taste coffee, but a bit harsh. The cigar doesn’t improve, no the contrary, the cigar gets meaner. After a third I taste a harsh, mean wood with vinegar. The vinegar fades away. I still taste a mean woody flavor, but bid with some straw and a mild pepper. The flavors are getting meaner and more harsh in the last third, yet there is also a bit sweetness.


The draw is fine, the ash is dark though. The ash is medium in volume and thin. The color is gray. The burn is straight as an arrow. The cigar is medium full bodied and unfortunately medium flavored. It lasts two horrible hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? If it wasn’t for a review I would not have finished the cigar.

Score: 78
number78

Categories: 78, La Rica, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Calixto Lopez Torpedo

When I met the late Don Kiki Berger I thought he was living the life, I mean, the guy had his own factory in Nicaragua and most of what he produced he sold to his own shop, Cuban Crafters, where he had busloads of Asian tourists stop, clean the place out like a flog of locusts and then move on (I saw this with my own eyes). He didn’t have to deal with sales reps, shops owners etc etc, and every time I saw his he was hanging out with his friends playing domino at the shop or having a good time at the lounge.


One of the cigars he made is the Calixto Lopez, named after a famed old Cuban brand, and made with filler from Esteli, Jalapa and Ometepe in Nicaragua, a Sumatra leaf from Ecuador as a binder and a five year aged Cuban seed maduro wrapper from Nicaragua. And they are cheap, one $4.50 if you buy them by the box. Now I didn’t buy a box, I bought a few singles to try and this is the last one I have left so time for a review.


The wrapper is dark, but feels dry and the touch reminds me of old velvet. There are hardly veins and the wrapper just looks good. The ring is classic, red circle with golden outlines, white letters and logo. Simple and not of the best quality, yet clear. The construction feels good and the shape of the cigar is nice. The aroma is strong and deep, an intense barnyard aroma mixed with dark stained wood found on a barn that has been baking in the sun for years.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is good. It tastes a little like a raisin. After lighting I taste a mix of leather, coffee and dates. Slowly it changes to leather with sugar. Then it changes to gingerbread with some pepper and all within the first half inch. The leather is back with pepper and some floral sweetness. The leather constantly varies in strength, with herbs, pepper and a coconut sugar. The final third is dry leather, less sweet, more pepper.


The draw is good yet it’s hard to keep the cigar lit. The smoke is medium thick and full. The evolution is great. The light gray ash isn’t that firm I thought at first, as it broke quickly but then it got firm. The cigar is medium in both body and flavor. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again?  Next time I’m in Miami I’m getting a box.

Score: 91
number91

Categories: 91, Calixto Lopez, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Jose L Piedra Cazadores

This brand is considered one of Cuba’s budget brands and it’s one of the major brands in the Habanos portfolio, with a worldwide distribution except for the United States of course. The brand was started in the 1880’s, it was discontinued 100 years later but within a few years it came back to the market. No limited editions of the Jose L Piedra were ever made.


Everything about this brand screams budget, the packaging in cardboard, the rings, simple in color and design without any embossing, this is just a lower end Cuban cigar and I used to smoke them when smoking was still allowed in bars. It’s a waste to smoke good cigars when you’re drinking with buddies, the Jose L Piedra brand was perfect for those moment.


The wrapper looks rough, the color is nice but a lot of veins and some shading. The ring, which is an old ring that was used between 2002 and 2007, is simple, a brown grayish color ring with white logo and lettering. The construction feels reasonable and the cigar has a below average finish. The aroma is mild, a little bit of a barnyard smell.


The cold draw after cutting the cigars is good, mildly sweet and a little sharp. After lighting I taste a sweet leather flavor. I also taste nutmeg. The flavors are mild. After a third I taste a mild salty peanut flavor with herbs. The flavors slowly change to a salty licorice flavor.


The draw is good. The smoke is thin and low in volume. The light gray ash looks nice and is firm. The burn is decent. The cigar is medium bodied and flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? No

Score: 83
number83

Categories: 83, Cuban cigars, José L Piedra (Habanos) | Tags: , , , ,

Chincalero Fuerte Picadillos

Well, I don’t know where I got this cigar and there is not a lot of information online. And all the information I find is on mainly English websites. I do know it’s for sale in The Netherlands and that it’s a budget cigar with a price tag of 4 euro. I may have gotten it from a customer to try it and give my opinion.


The cigar is made in Nicaragua, but I don’t know by whom. It’s a 4×50 cigar with filler from Panama and Nicaragua, a binder from Nicaragua and a Brazilian wrapper. They come in 24 count boxes.


The wrapper is dark, or is it more of a two tone? Theres a clear difference in the color, it goes from dark to a little lesser dark. The ring is pretty nice, think, black and red, well printed with a simple modern design. The construction is good, the cap is nice, the cigar feels evenly packed. The medium strong aroma is classic cigar barnyard with a little bit of charcoal.


After cutting I get a great cold draw, mild spicy dry tobacco is what I taste. After lighting I taste a sharp mix of spices with dirt. After half an inch I taste dirt or soil. The sharpness fades, it’s just a dirt flavor halfway. The flavors don’t change anymore, just grow a little in strength.


The dense ash is bright white. The white smoke is thick and voluminous. The burn needed a few small corrections. The draw is fine. There isn’t much of development in this medium full bodied, medium flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour.

Would I buy this cigar again? No

Score: 84
number84

Categories: 84, Chinchallero, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , ,

Quorum Toro

Years ago, while on the road as a cigar sales rep, I ran into a sales rep from Davidoff. The cigar game in The Netherlands is small, we all know each other and are all friendly to each other so we chatted a bit and then he asked “do you have something to smoke for me, all I have is this Quorum that we just started distributing and I need something good to smoke now”. I gave him one of my samples and he left me a Quorum, that has been aging since. But now, for budget month, I will light it.


The cigar, supposedly the best selling budget cigar in the world, is made in Nicaragua by J.C. Newman, who are known for their Brick House, Diamond Crown and Cuesta Rey. The Quorum is made from Nicaraguan tobaccos and a Sun Grown Ecuadorian wrapper.


The wrapper looks dusty, like a darker kind of wood where dust settled and it has a velvet feel. The construction is a bit shabby, not perfectly round and the foot is more square while the cap is a but crooked. The ring is an almost black kind of purple with golden outlines and a golden logo with a burgundy banner and the name in gold letters. The medium strong aroma is quite earthy.


After cutting the cigar has a slightly tight draw, mildly acidic. After lighting I immediately think ‘why am I doing this to myself?’. A nasty acidic leathery with some low quality chocolate flavor is what I taste. After a third the flavors are still the same, yet a little less disgusting or maybe I’m getting used to the taste. When the final third starts I know it’s not me getting used to the flavor, as it’s disgusting again.


The draw is a tight, I had to use a draw poker to get the draw going. The light gray ash has nice layers. The burn is pretty straight. The smoke is thin, the smoke is a bit blue. The cigar is mild to medium bodied and flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes. 

Would I buy this cigar again? I rather stop smoking.

Score: 73
number73

Categories: 73, Nicaraguan cigars, PENSA, Quorum | Tags: , , , ,

La Flor de Rosa Churchill

Now when we are talking budget, this cigar falls right into the category. Dirt cheap, mixed filler, unknown in what factory it’s made, all I know it that its a Nicaraguan made cigar with a Sumatra EMS wrapper from Ecuador and a Nicaraguan binder. When I was a sales rep, I did sell these but even I didn’t know which factory produces these budget cigars.


In Europe the cigars are sold as La Flor de Rosa yet in America they are called Rosa Cuba. Why a different name in Europe? Well, the Cuba name is trademarked, just like Habano (that’s why the type of tobacco is called ‘Sun Grown’ in Europe). Trademarks are also the reason why San Cristobal is sold under the name Paradiso and La Aroma de Cuba is La Aroma del Caribe.


The wrapper is brittle, medium brown. The cap is placed sloppy but the construction feels good. The ring is simple, brushed gold with black in a busy patters and white lettering. The cigar has a mild aroma that reminds me of burned wood, like three days after a building burned down.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is good. I taste mild leather. After lighting I taste some warm leather with a little gravy like spice. Then the flavors fade and change to an earthy, leathery and slightly rough. The flavors are very mild. After a third I taste wood with some pepper, slightly harsh. The final third is a bit musty, a bit peppery, a little sweet and with a little lemon.


The draw is great. The ash is almost white. The smoke is white and medium in thickness and volume. The burn is good and I would call this cigar mild to medium bodied and and flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? No.

Score: 82
number82

 

Categories: 82, La Flor de Rosa, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Benchmade Toro

I remember that close to a decade ago people were raving about the new La Aroma de Cuba, blended by Don Pepin but owned by Ashton but back then the cigar wasn’t available in Europe. When it finally got released, under the name La Aroma del Caribe due to copyrights, Ashton simultaneously released their budget medium filler Benchmade, also made at the My Father Cigars factory and I remember that I didn’t dislike them, which is rare for a budget cigar. But I haven’t smoked them in years, time to revisit the cigar for this budget month.


The cigar is a Nicaraguan puro, from filler to wrapper, everything comes from Nicaragua. There are 5 sizes, a 5×50 robusto, a 5 1/2×54 gordo, a 6×50 toro which I’m smoking, a 6 1/2×46 cazadores and a 7×50 churchill. And even though it’s a budget cigar, they don’t come in bundles but in boxes, which make them look worth more than what you pay for.


The cigar has a dark wrapper with some black smears and spots, it looks very tasty. The construction feels good and I like the little pig tail. The broken white ring shows a bunch of drying tobacco leaves and the name benchmade in golden letters. The aroma is faint, I smell a bit of a barnyard aroma.


I just twisted the pigtail off and the cold draw is good, it’s quite spicy and peppery. After lighting I taste spicy strong leather. The leather remains with a little sweetness yet the spice never disappears. After a third I taste cinnamon with still some leather. Halfway I taste some French toast with leather and pepper. The final third is peppery with a hint of sugar and cinnamon. The finale has the leather flavor again.


The draw is good, as can be expected from a mixed filler cigar. The smoke is medium in volume and thickness, it has a brownish color. The ash, with wide rings, has that same brown color. The burn is nice, the cigar isn’t boring due to the evolution. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s a nice snack cigar.

Score: 87
number87

Categories: 87, Benchmade, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Schizo Maduro Robusto

After the success of the Schizo, with a Habano wrapper, it was no surprise that Asylum Cigars, the company owned by Christian Eiroa and Tom Lazuka, built on that brand and released a Schizo Maduro. Unlike the normal Schizo, which is made at the Nicaraguan NACSA factory, most famous for Steve Saka’s Mi Querida, this Schizo Maduro is made in Honduras in Eiroa’s own El Aladino factory.


The cigar is a so called Cuban sandwich, which means that it contains part longfiller and part scrap that was leftover. Not that it means it’s inferior product, just smaller pieces of tobacco. The filler and binder are Honduran, but the wrapper is a Mexican San Andres maduro


The cigar looks a little rough, dark and even a little intimidating. The construction is good, just like the finishing. The ring is the same as the regular Schizo but with an added mint green ring with the word Maduro. The aroma is quite mild, a bit floral and minty.


The draw is quite loose after a cut with a guillotine cutter. The cold draw is a bit minty, but faint. After lighting I taste coffee with chocolate and mint. After a third the mint disappears, I still taste coffee but the dark chocolate gains some strength and I taste some vinegar too. In the final third I taste wood and pepper too.


The draw is a bit loose, but the smoke is thick and white. The gray ash is coarse. The burn is good. I would call this cigar medium at most, both in flavor and body. The smoke time is an hour and ten minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Nah, it’s not a bad budget cigar though.

Score: 87
number87

Categories: 87, El Aladino, Honduran cigars, Schizo | Tags: , , , , , ,

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