Monthly Archives: May 2020

Talu Signature Toro

Talu Signature Toro. Indonesia has a long history of tobacco. And a long history in cigars, yet not in premium handmade longfillers. Most of the cigars hailing from the South East Asian country are machine-made dry-cured shortfillers. And of the cigar tobacco that’s being imported, most is used for those machine-made cigars as well. These kinds of cigars are extremely popular in Western Europe. But there are a few premium handmade longfillers from Indonesia, and the number of brands seems to be growing. Most are produced in Yogyakarta, at Taru Martani.


Taru Martani translates to the leaf that gives joy to life. The name was given to the factory by the Sultan of Yogyakarta after the independence war with The Netherlands. In the past, the factory produced roll your own tobacco as well. We are not sure if that is still the case. But we do know that there are several Indonesian premium cigar brands made at the factory.

The cigar has a typical Indonesian wrapper. The look and feel are slightly different than its Caribbean cousins. It feels a little more sandy, and the color is a shade that you won’t find anywhere else. The cigar is finished with a pigtail. The ring is beautiful. White, gray and copper. The logo and the brand name are clear. Nothing bad to say about the looks of this cigar. The construction feels good. And the aroma is different too, sawdust and lovage are what comes to mind. Medium-strong.


Just twisting off the pigtail is enough to create a good draw. The cold draw tastes dry, dusty with wood. Sawdust is a good description. Once lit, there is a lot of earthiness with some black coffee and spices. After a few puffs, a heavy, thick old leather flavor shows up. There is some pepper too. But the flavors aren’t balanced and taste charred, burned. The pepper and leather are the strongest flavors of the bunch. The burnt flavor fades away, instead, the cigar now tastes like leather, coffee, pepper, and sweetness. Somewhat later, the cigar turns to toast, leather, wood, pepper, all with a hint of sweetness and hay. In the second third, the cigar turns more to dried leaves with spices, pepper, and sweetness. That mixture continues to last into the final third. But then some hay and milk chocolate join the leaves, spices, and pepper. That’s what lasts until the end.


The draw is great. The ash is white as can be, dense and firm. The smoke is decent. Not very thick, but still sufficient to be pleasant. The burn is pretty straight. The Tambolaka tobacco boosts the strength of the cigar to medium. Flavors are medium too. This is a rare cigar, only a very limited number of boxes were made. It’s nice to have had the chance to smoke it, but our palate is so accustomed to the Caribbean tobacco that this is not a cigar for us. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Nope!
number88

Categories: 88, Indonesian cigars, Talu | Tags: , , ,

Brun del Re 1787 Rainforest Short Robusto

Brun del Re 1787 Rainforest Short Robusto. Brun del Re is a Costa Rican cigar brand, founded in 2006. Carlo Corazzo is originally from Switzerland but has been living in Costa Rica for the longest time. In 2001, he was introduced to the art of cigars on a trip to Cuba. He opened a shop and lounge in San Jose after his trip and a few years later he started making his own brand of cigars. At first with just a roller outside his shop. But in 2007, Corazzo and his business partner opened their factory in the Costa Rican capital and have been making cigars since. Brun del Re cigars are available in over 20 countries worldwide.


Even though Costa Rica doesn’t have the reputation of Nicaragua, Cuba, Honduras, or the Dominican Republic, the country has a huge tobacco history. The first recorded tobacco export from Central America was from Costa Rica. 1787 in the name has to do with a historical fact in Costa Rican tobacco history. And the Rainforest addition comes from the charity that is supported by this cigar. Brun del Re donates 20% of the proceeds of the cigar to The Rainforest Foundation of Costa Rica. The cigar is one of the few Costa Rican puros on the market.

The cigar looks cute. Short, and because of that kind of chubby even though it’s just as thick as a regular robusto. A pigtail and a foot that is folded close around the edges complete the look. The dark wrapper is oily and smooth. Add a green ring for the rainforest theme and a tropical frog as an emblem and the look is finished. The cigar feels well constructed and beautifully rolled. The aroma is medium strong and smells like hay.

The cold draw gives the right amount of resistance. The flavors are spicy raw tobacco with pepper. The first flavors are coffee, soil, pepper, and sweetness. Then a dark flavor shows up, earthy leather, slightly oily but with sweetness. The cigar then evolves into earthy bitterness such as dark chocolate, with sweetness and vegetal flavors. The mouthfeel is slightly buttery. Slowly more wood shows up, but the cigar is a little rough now as well. The wood is slowly replacing the earthiness as a dominant flavor, although soil never disappears. The pepper remains, yet the sweetness fades. The pepper grows in strength and becomes the main flavor. The earthiness keeps fading away.

The draw is great. The burn isn’t perfect but good enough. In the beginning, it looked like a crooked burn but it corrected itself. The ash is dark, very dark. This is a medium-bodied, full-flavored cigar. The flavors are not rounded, not balanced. The smoke time is one hour and forty-five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Nah

number88

Categories: 88, Brun del Re, Costa Rican cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Dondurma Toro

Dondurma Toro. If you haven’t heard of this cigar, that’s all right. This is a limited edition cigar that Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust made for one specific shop. That shop is Secreto Cigar Bar in Ferndale Michigan. However, we got the cigar in Amsterdam during the launch of the Sin Compromiso El Amsterdammer (see the review here). And we loved it so much, that we requested another one to do this review. And there were only 90 boxes of 10 available. Now, we don’t know a lot about this cigar. All we found was this information on the forums of cigarweekly.com, written by Steve Saka himself.

 

Dondurma is a Liga I created back in 2015 – it features what today has become relative rare tobacco in handmade cigars, a variation of Wisconsin Comstock. I tabled the Liga because IMO while it was solid, it really is only extra special when you retrohale it and then it is magnificent. But there is no way I am ever going to get Retailers to explain this, heck I can’t get them to explain Umbagog correctly… anyhow I made about 1,000 of these cigars. I promised Cigaragua 60 of these for our event this week. After that, I just sent a few to Ronnie Haisha of Secreto Cigar Bar a few to sample because he is a retrohaling fiend. Turns out he loved them and asked if he could sell the rest to his customers and I figured heck if anyone can represent or explain this cigar to folks it is him. There are only about 90 10ct boxes – I will be in Detroit at the end of the month to drink The Balvenie US and smoke Dondurma. I can make more, but it will always be in tiny batches like this, I simply do not have enough Comstock, nor do I plan on ever having a lot of Comstock.

The cigar looks fantastic. A dark, Colorado Maduro colored wrapper with some veins. There are also some sparkles from the minerals in the wrapper. And a dark gray ring, and popping golden letters. A nice little pigtail finishes the looks. The wrapper feels very silky. The box pressing gives the cigar a slender look. The cigar feels well constructed. The aroma is strong, it’s the classic barnyard aroma that belongs with cigars.

 

The cold draw is great. Flavors of raw tobacco, powdered sugar and raising come to mind. After lighting it’s a mixture of toast, coffee, nuts, spice, and sweetness. It evolves to spicy leather, and soil, while the coffee and nut flavors disappear. Slowly there’s a sweetness and creaminess appearing. And with that combination, the name Dondurma (Turkish for ice cream) makes sense. Both Steve Saka and Ronnie Haisha (from Secreto Cigar Bar) mentioned that this cigar is perfect for the retrohale. And they are right. The retrohale isn’t aggressive, as it often is, but brings a new dimension to the cigar. In the retrohale, the toast and nuts flavor return but it also enhance the ice cream reference. The main flavors are that creamy sweetness, supported by oak, leather, and soil. After a third, the cigar gets more of a chewy, yet creamy mouthfeel. Still with the sweetness, leather, and pepper. The final third has more wood, more roasted coffee, some vegetal flavors, and that peppery, sweet cream.

 

The draw is great. The smoke is full and white. The burn is almost flawless. The white colored ash is firm. The balance of this smooth cigar is great. Even though there is a pepper, it’s never overpowering. The cigar is medium-bodied yet full-flavored. The smoke time is two hours and thirty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I wish that was possible
number95

Categories: 95, Dondurma, Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , ,

La Gloria Cubana Paraiso Edición Regional Caribe

La Gloria Cubana Paraiso Edición Regional Caribe. From the 2014 Regional Edition program but only released in 2015. And released in the countries supplied by Caribbean Cigar Corporation. That includes the Dutch Antilles, Surinam, Jamaica, Honduras, Panama, Bahamas, Caiman Islands and more. The only other Caribe edition is the 2008 Juan Lopez Short Torpedo. The cigars came in boxes of 25, and are extremely hard to find nowadays.


The size is 135 mm or 5⅓ inches in length with a ring gauge of 52. That size is named Edmundo. And that is a size only used for Montecristo when it comes to regular production. But the same vitola has been used for the Montecristo Travel Humidor and a special Montecristo X Edicion Festival de Habano as well. And for several regional editions. Bolivar had three, for Qatar, for the UAE and the Benelux. Diplomatico used it for The Netherlands. Juan Lopez saw this size for the Benelux and Canada. Pacific Cigar Company, the distributor for the Asia Pacific region used the size for La Flor de Cano. And Ramon Allones saw a regional edition for Libanon and a combined edition for Greece and Cyprus. Then there is the 2011 H. Upmann Royal Robusto in this size, a La Casa del Habano exclusive release.

The wrapper is nice oily, but a little rough to look at. It’s not smooth, it’s like there are pimples under the skin. There’s also slight discoloration. It looks like the wrapper above the ring is darker than the wrapper below the ring. The cigar is very soft, with a harder spot under the ring. The ring is the classic La Gloria Cubana ring and the evenly classic Edicion Regional ring. There is a very, very mild aroma. Just a little bit of a wood smell, but very faint.


The cold draw is surprisingly good considering the plug that was felt underneath the ring. The wrapper is quite salty, and the overall flavor in the cold draw is salted peanuts. The first puffs are overly sweet coffee with some dry leather and earthiness. Soon the leather takes over, with sweetness, mild pepper, wood, and earthiness. There is a little salt too. The coffee returns, but as a supporting flavor to the sweet leather. In the second third, there is a harsh bitterness underneath the sweet leather. There’s also pepper and some nutty flavor. The nuts gain strength, with some salt, pepper, and leather. The sweetness disappears around the halfway point. The leather doesn’t give up though and becomes stronger too. The cigar is very flavorful. The mouthfeel is a bit try, and the bitterness is gone. The final third is less balanced, a little harsh and bitter. With wood as the main flavor, supported by soil, coffee, and a lot of pepper. Unfortunately, the bitterness is growing, and that makes the cigar take a turn for the worst


The draw doesn’t have issues. It might even be a bit loose as the cigar is slightly underfilled. The light gray ash is like a stack of dimes. The burn is straight. The smoke is nothing to complain about either. This is a medium-bodied cigar, yet the flavors are strong. Much stronger than any other Cuban that’s been reviewed recently. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Not for the crazy secondary market prices

number90

Categories: 90, Cuban cigars, La Gloria Cubana (Habanos) | Tags: , , , ,

Brick House Year of the Rat

Brick House Year of the Rat. J.C. Newman is one of the companies that entered the Chinese Zodiac cigar game with the Brick House brand. But unlike the other brands, Brick House is not using a red-colored box or red-colored rings. In fact, except for the size and the flag tail, you can’t tell the difference between a regular production Brick House or this limited edition. Unless you see the beautiful black box with the painting of the rat and the limited-edition text.


We were unable to find any information about this cigar online, so we suspect that the blend is the exact same as the Brick House Classic. And a classic is. An old brand that was discontinued during the Great Depression. But it has been resurrected by Eric and Bobby Newman about a decade ago. This time as a Nicaraguan cigar, with Nicaraguan fillers and binder. The wrapper comes from Ecuador. And this 6¼x52 toro with the flag tail isn’t a regular production size.


The cigar feels silky. The evenly colored Colorado wrapper is smooth and almost veinless. The nice cap, a flag tail, sets the cigar apart from regular production Brick House cigars. Since there is no secondary ring for the year of the rat, the flag tail is the only sign this is a special release. The Brick House ring is a nicely shaped ring with yellow, red, black and gold color schemes. Classic and stylish. The cigar feels well constructed. The wood aroma is strong.


The cold draw is strong. Just as the flavors of raisin, raw tobacco, and pepper. Once lit the mouthfeel is thick. Hints of dark chocolate, leather, wood, soil, and coffee, all with a bit of pepper. It’s a bit hard to keep the cigar lit in the beginning. But once that problem is solved, the cigar releases sweetness with the bitterness of dark chocolate, and some dry wood flavors. Slowly the flavors become more woody with green herbs, pepper, licorice, and some sweetness. After creating more airflow, the flavors are more chocolate, more pepper, and a bit of salt. All with a creamy mouthfeel. Halfway there is coffee with chocolate, spices, pepper and a hint of citrus. The finale is wood, pepper, green herbs, and leather.


The draw is decent, not the best draw but also not bad enough to complain. The smoke is thick and full. Especially after creating a little bit more of a draw using the cigar redeemer tool. The burn is good. The smoke time of this cigar is exactly three hours. This is a medium-full bodied, medium-full flavored cigar.

Would I buy this cigar again? If it’s priced within the same range as the regular production Brick House, yes.

number90

Categories: 90, Brick House, Nicaraguan cigars, PENSA | Tags: , , , , ,

Fratello Arlequin Toro

Fratello Arlequin. Fratello is an American cigar company, founded by former NASA employee Omar de Frias. And for his cigars, he either uses Italian names or bases them on his background in the space industry. For the Fratello Arlequin, both these subjects come together. The cigars are only available in the Fratello Space Pack. A fresh pack with 4 different Fratello toro cigars. The Space Pack draws its name from De Frias his years at NASA, Arlequin comes from the jester at the old Italian theatre.


The cigars come only in a 6×50 size for now. If the public response on the blend is good, De Frias might release the blend in more shape as regular production. For the production of this cigar, Fratello uses Joya de Nicaragua. That’s where most Fratello cigars are made, although some are made at La Aurora in the Dominican Republic. For the blend, De Frias picked Nicaraguan and Peruvian tobacco as the fillers. The binder comes from Ecuador. And the wrapper is Mexican.


The cigar looks good. A nice dark, leathery-looking wrapper. The construction feels good. The ring is recognizable Fratello, yet with a colorful back that is clearly inspired by the harlequins from the Italian theatre. Without knowledge of the name and the harlequin history, the ring may seem a little childish though. But if you are in the know, it makes sense. The aroma isn’t too strong, and the cigar has the smell of old leather.


The cold draw is good. The cigar gives a mixture of leather, spice and raw tobacco in the cold draw. Immediately after lighting, there is marzipan with coffee and leather. Then the flavors change to cinnamon toast with leather and pepper. Coffee appears too, with more pepper and fruity acidity. The flavors continue to develop. Wood and leather show up while toast, pepper, sweetness, and coffee remain. The mouthfeel is a bit buttery. Halfway the cigar is sweet and bitter, with old leather, charred wood, and caramel. The final third starts with wood, leather, and the pleasant bitterness of very dark chocolate. Then there are spices as well, the flavors pick up. The pepper is present yet not overpowering.


The draw is good. The ash is salt and pepper colored, and quite firm. The burn had to be corrected once. The smoke is decent in volume and thickness. The cigar is medium-full bodied and flavored. The smoke time is three hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? For the price, yeah maybe.

number89

Categories: Nicaraguan cigars

Umnum Nicaragua Bond

Umnum Nicaragua Bond. Our motto is quality over quantity. Being the spoiled cigar aficionados that we are, we usually don’t smoke budget cigars. It’s better to smoke less but higher quality in our opinion. But not everybody feels that way considering how many budget cigars are being sold worldwide every single year. And of course, there are budget cigars that are of high quality. And there are premium cigars that offer low quality. But on the average, budget means lower quality. The ‘you get what you pay for’ saying is often true for cigars of low value.


This Umnum comes from the same people that are behind Condega. And Condega is a budget cigar that offers quality, see our review of the Condega Serie F Maduro. The Umnum line is even more affordable. It comes in three sizes, and this Bond is the smallest. It’s made with Nicaraguan filler and wrapper. The binder comes from Indonesia. It measures 4½x44 and comes packed in bundles of 25.


The cigar doesn’t have a budget look. A beautiful black ring with a golden image that reminds us of carvings in Egyptian pyramids. The quality of the ring is much more than expected from such a cheap cigar. Good, thick paper, good quality printing. And the wrapper looks good too. Dark and leathery. There aren’t a lot of veins. The construction feels good and the triple cap looks nice. The cigar has a strong smell, a mixture of dark chocolate and cocoa aromas.


The cold draw is good. It tastes like hay with low-quality cocoa. The first puffs are sour, and then some toasted flavors show up with a little sweetness. There is some pepper as well. The cigar slowly gets an old wood flavor. The sourness transforms into a fruity and citrus acidity while the pepper grows in strength. The second third starts with citrus and chocolate, leather and soil. The milk chocolate grows in strength, it is more American milk chocolate than European milk chocolate. And that is not a compliment. The pepper is still growing. The final third starts with pepper, leather, and more sweetness. There is a faint hazelnut flavor as well.


The draw is great. The ash is white. The burn had to be corrected. This is a full-bodied, full-flavored cigar. Even though it’s a small cigar, it packs a punch. The smoke time is an hour and forty-five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, but if someone gives me one I’ll smoke it

number89

Categories: Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , ,

Black Label Trading Company Royalty Robusto

Black Label Trading Company Royalty Robusto. A relatively new, edgy brand, that saw the light in 2013. James and Angela were tour operators in Costa Rica. But they took their clients to Nicaragua as well and where do you take visitors when you’re in Nicaragua? To tobacco plantations and cigar factories of course. James started to blend cigars and sell them. The feedback was so overwhelming that the couple decided to start a brand. To keep control of everything, they even started a factory of their own.


The Royalty is a core line for Black Label Trading Company and has been there from the start in 2013. The cigar is made with Nicaraguan fillers. The binder comes from Honduras and the wrapper is Ecuadorian. But not Connecticut Shade of Sumatra, Ecuadorian tobaccos that are used a lot, but Ecuadorian Corojo. The cigar is only available in three sizes, we reviewed the 5×54 Robusto.


The cigar is beautiful. Smooth, leathery with a few flats veins. Quite dark. The ring is very dark with a skull, very scary, macabre. The foot ring says Royalty in a font that fits with the skull. The cigar feels a little spongy but evenly spongy. The medium-strong aroma is that of wood, chopped wood.


The cold draw is great. The flavor is dry, spicy and slightly bitter raw tobacco. Once lit, there is coffee, there is some harshness from green herbs and spices. There is some pepper. Slowly wood and pepper show up too. The cigar has a little edge to it. Then honey sweetness comes into play, with more pepper. The rough edge in the flavor is gone. The second third starts with wood, pepper, and some honey. The wood, leather, and pepper are the main attraction. Near the end, the cigar becomes salty.


The ash is like a stack of dimes. Light gray, with beautiful layers. The burn is quite straight and pretty. The smoke is great. Thick and white. The cigar has plenty of character. This is a medium-full bodied cigar, medium-full flavored as well. With a smoke time of an hour and forty-five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes

number91

Categories: 91, Black Label Trading Company, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , ,

VegaFina Year of the Rat Toro

VegaFina Year of the Rat Toro. In the last few years, more and more cigar brands are using the Chinese Zodiac Calendar as a reason to release a limited edition cigar. VegaFina is one of those brands. The Dominican cigars started releasing cigars for the Year Of series with the Year of the Dog. After the Year of the Pig, it’s time for the Year of the Rat. Altadis is part of Imperial Brands, although not for long anymore. Imperial Brands is selling its premium cigar division, which includes the Tabacalera de Garcia factory in the Dominican Republic, their portfolio of brands and their 50% stake in Habanos. According to rumors, a Chinese company acquired the premium cigar division yet by the time of writing this review, nothing has been confirmed.

The cigar measures 5⁹⁄₁₀x52 and it comes with a pigtail. The cigar is made in the Dominican Republic, at Altadis’s Tabacalera de Garcia. Tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic are used for the filler. The binder comes from Nicaragua. Altadis did not reveal from which country the wrapper came. But they did mention it’s a Habano 2000 wrapper.

The cigar looks good. A nice Colorado colored wrapper, oily and smooth. There is one thin, yet very noticeable vein on the back. The regular silver and white ring is used, with the glossy metallic red VegaFina logo. Then there is a secondary ring, red with gold, which represents prosperity and wealth in the Chinese culture. The ring says ‘year of the rat’ and a rat is pictured on the ring as well. The cigar feels a bit hard. The foot of the cigar is cut in a slight angle, making the cigar a leaning tower of Pisa. Now even though that’s an imperfection, we have seen it before with several different brands. The aroma is that of manure and oak. It’s medium-strong.

 

Even though the cigar felt a bit hard, the cold draw is fine. With a flavor of spicy raisins. Once lit, the cigar releases a lot of sweetness, sugar water sweetness. With pepper, green herbs and some coffee. Slowly the cigar gets wood in the flavor palate too. The flavor evolves to nutty toast with soil, leather, pepper, and sweetness. These flavors continue through the first third, with a nice sweet and white pepper aftertaste. The mouthfeel is buttery, creamy. The pepper is very mild and distinct. Halfway the pepper gets more pronounced and a little stronger. The sweetness turns into milk chocolate. The final third is sweet and peppery, with leather, wood, milk chocolate, and grass.

 

The draw is great. And the ash is firm, dense, and white as can be. The smoke is thin too and lacks a bit in volume as well. The burn is pretty straight. This is a medium-bodied, medium flavored cigar. The balance of this cigar is spot on. This cigar would be a good match with a nice smooth sipping rum.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes

number91

Categories: 91, Casa de Garcia, Dominican cigars, VegaFina | Tags: , , , , ,

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