Monthly Archives: October 2020

Balmoral Añejo XO Gordo

Balmoral Añejo XO Gordo. In 2014, Royal Agio launched the Balmoral Añejo XO series. It was the follow up for the every successful Balmoral Añejo 18 release. The latter had an 18-year-old Brazilian wrapper. But when Royal Agio ran out of that wrapper, they created the Balmoral Añejo XO, still with aged tobacco but in larger supply. And the line was a success from the start. Worldwide, and it put the Balmoral brand on the map in the United States.


Today, there are 4 different Balmoral Añejo lines. The Añejo XO, the Añejo XO Connecticut, Oscuro, and Nicaragua. But the Balmoral Añejo XO Gordo was used as an event-only cigar in several countries. Due to the Covid-19 crisis, Royal Agio decided to release the cigar to all retailers last month. With so many people working from home, and more time on their hands, they could enjoy this Gordo without having to go to events. Events that are prohibited in most countries anyway during the pandemic.


The cigar is impressive. Big, thick, and aggressively looking. Brazilian Arapiraca tobacco isn’t the smoothest looking tobacco in the world. It’s rough and tough-looking with veins. It’s the Danny Trejo under the tobaccos. The ring makes up for it though. contemporary design. Gray, off white and gold. Stylish. The foot ring is in the same style. The cigar feels well constructed, evenly spongy all over. The aroma is peppery with dark chocolate.


The cold draw is very easy. The cigar has a dry tobacco flavor. After lighting there’s an immediate flavor explosion. Coffee, pepper, and sweetness. Slowly a mild spice shows up, herbal almost, with some leather. The herbal flavor starts to dominate and is supported by charred wood and earthiness. Some salt shows up as well, and the mouthfeel is mild creamy. After a third, there’s pepper, wood, grass, and some spices. The sweetness then reappears with more spices, wood, leather, and pepper. The wood flavor is a bit charred, like barbecue.


The draw is open, light, easy. Too open. There is a lot of smoke, white but it’s a little thin though. The burn has to be corrected several times as well. The cigar is smooth and mellow. Due to the wrapper filler ratio, the cigar lacks a bit of character. It is milder than the smaller sizes of the same blend. The cigar is medium-bodied, medium flavored. The smoke time is three hours and thirty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? The blend yes, the size no!

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Categories: 89, Agio Caribbean Tobacco Company, Balmoral, Dominican cigars | Tags: , , , ,

H. Upmann Noellas 2009 LCDH

H. Upmann Noellas 2009 LCDH. Up until the early 1980s, H. Upmann produced the 5⅜x42 Noellas as a regular production. And the packaging was unique. The cigars didn’t come in wooden boxes. Instead, they came in glass jars. In 2009, Habanos brought those jars back in a limited edition. 5000 glass jars were made to be released to the La Casa del Habano franchises worldwide. As is often the case with Cuba, the cigars were only available late 2010, yet are considered a 2009 release.


In 2013 another batch was released in glass jars. Yet with the lack of communication from Habanos, nobody knows for sure if those were another re-release. It could just as well be part of the 2009 release that just wasn’t shipped to the La Casa del Habano tobacconists three years earlier. The cigar that we are reviewing comes from the 2009 release and has been aged in the jar in a humidor for a decade.


The cigar looks good. A Colorado colored wrapper. The wrapper is oily and looks quite smooth. The regular Upmann ring and the secondary La Casa del Habano ring aren’t a match. The triple cap looks good. The cigar is spongy, yet some spots are slightly softer than others. The aroma is mild, with the scent of hay and animals.


The cold draw is good, with a salty leathery flavor. From the get-go, it’s coffee, soil, leather, and some salt. The flavor then slowly evolves to more leather, some wood, and even a hint of chocolate. But the earthiness and salt never disappear. Suddenly the mouthfeel becomes creamy. The flavor remains salty and leathery, with wood but now also with grass. Halfway the flavors change, the cigar gets a hint of pepper, cumin, and a nutty flavor. Still slightly salty, although less pronounced. The leather is still there as well. In the last third, there is nuttiness, spice, pepper, and leather. The final few puffs bring wood, a lot of pepper, leather, and some sweetness.


The draw is great, no complaints about that department. The ash is quite dark though, and not very firm. The smoke is thick and voluminous. The cigar had to be relit a few times though. But the burn is pretty straight. This is a medium-bodied, medium flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and fifty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? If it was 5 euros cheaper, I would
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Categories: 90, Cuban cigars, H. Upmann (Habanos) | Tags: , , ,

Gurkha Marquesa Toro

Gurkha Marquesa Toro, a cigar released by Gurkha Cigars in 2018. In three sizes, 5×52 Robusto, 6×54 Toro, and 5×54 Belicoso. All that Gurkha revealed about the production is that the cigars are made in the Dominican Republic. But since Gurkha doesn’t have a factory, they have to be made at a third person facility. Yet, that facility has not been disclosed. Gurkha uses a lot of producers, and by knowing who’s responsible it’s easier to weed out the bad Gurkha cigars from the good ones. Without knowing the manufacturer, smoking the Marquesa Toro is a gamble.

Gurkha is a very old brand, but the Gurkha brand we know now has been around for 30 years. It started when Kaizad Hansotia bought the brand for a few hundred dollars while enjoying a vacation. He met a guy making the cigars on the beach and bought the whole stock, including the brand name. And in thirty years, he built the brand into a powerhouse with many fans and even more haters. But one thing can’t be denied, if you haven’t heard of Gurkha cigars, you’re not a real cigar smoker. Whether you like them or not is a different question.

This is a beautiful cigar. A smooth, dark wrapper, oily, with little to none imperfections. A beautiful, vintage-looking ring finished this 6×64 Toro. This is an eye-catching cigar. The cigar feels well constructed, with the right bounciness when squeezed gently. The cigar doesn’t feel plugged or underfilled. The aroma is medium in strength. It has manure and a damps forest smell.

The cold draw is great. The taste of the cold draw is dry hay with red pepper. The first puffs give dried out leather with a little vanilla. Some nutmeg shows up too, with a very dry mouthfeel. Some powdered sugar sweetness is there as well. A charred wood flavor is next with lemon-like acidity. After a third, there is a flavor of low-grade chocolate on the back of the palate, with something that comes close to old paper. A very dusty flavor with a little bit of white pepper. The final third starts with softwood, black pepper, and some mild sweetness. The pepper grows in strength, with some herbal sweetness as a supporting flavor.

The draw is good, good resistance in airflow. The burn is straight and slow. Even after the cigar dropped from the ashtray on the desk to the floor. The smoke is good. There is enough volume although the smoke is a little thin. The light-colored ash is firm. The Gurkha Marquesa Toro is a medium-bodied, medium flavored cigar. The smoke time is two hours and thirty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, it scores high due to the construction and the looks, but flavor-wise it’s a middle of the road cigar at best

Categories: 90, Dominican cigars, Gurkha | Tags: , , ,

Casa de Torres Especial 2020 Salomones

Casa de Torres Especial 2020 Salomones. For more than 20 years, the German cigar manufacturer August Schuster has been making Casa de Torres. Well, they don’t make them as they do with most of their other brands in Germany. But the have it made in an undisclosed factory in Nicaragua. And for the last few years, they launch an annual limited edition. For 2020, that limited edition is a Salomones.


The salomones measures 7 inches with a 54 ring. For the blend, Schuster decided on all Nicaraguan fillers. The binder comes from South East Asia, Indonesia to be more specific. And the wrapper is a Colorado Claro colored Connecticut from Ecuador. It is unclear how many boxes were produced.


The shape is amazing. The mild oily, Colorado Claro wrapper looks delicate. Like high grade yet thin leather. The cigar feels well made. And the double ring looks nice on this cigar. The blue, gold and white color scheme works well with the shade of the wrapper. The cigar has a pleasant aroma. Smells from a barnyard but mixed with spiced apple pie straight from the oven.


The cold draw is good. It leaves a very dry raw tobacco flavor with raisins on the palate. But there is also a little mustiness, which is a trademark for Connecticut Shade tobacco. After lighting, there is a lot of sweetness, dry cedar, and that mustiness. Some nutty flavor and pepper show up after a few puffs. The mustiness from the Connecticut wrapper is strong. On the other hand, the Connecticut wrapper gives a lot of cream as well. Slowly but surely, the nuttiness and cream push the mustiness to the background. There are still some cedar, leather, spice, and pepper flavors. At the end of the first third, there is cedar, pepper, spice, leather, and even some grass. All with a creamy mouthfeel. The mustiness makes a comeback with cedar, pepper, sugar, leather, and a little earthiness on top of the mild nutty and creamy flavors. The sweetness and the pepper take over in the last third. But there is also some coffee. The cigar is smooth enough to retrohale, even in the last part. The cigar gets a little salt as well, and a fruity flavor.


The draw is fine, even after cutting a very small bit of the cap. That left only a small smoke channel, yet the draw is good. The smoke is thick, white and there is plenty of it. The burn had to be corrected though. This cigar is mild to medium-bodied, medium flavored. It’s smooth and balanced, but it lacks character. That is the case with most Connecticut Shade cigars. It is hard to blend something mild with character. The cigar is mild to medium-bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is two hours and forty-five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Nope, it’s Connecticut Shade

number89

Categories: 89, Casa de Torres, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Undercrown Dogma 2019 Toro

Undercrown Dogma 2019 Toro. This box-pressed toro was released in 2019 to commemorate the 5th birthday of the collaboration between Drew Estate and the online cigar community Cigar Dojo. In 2014, the two teamed up for the initial release of the Undercrown Dogma, and that collaboration has been repeated several times since. The cigars are expected to be released in The Netherlands soon, as a limited-edition. Although the coronavirus pandemic may cause some delay in the planning.


The cigars are box-pressed. It’s a 6×56 Toro made at Gran Fabrica Drew Estate. The cigars use a Mexican San Andres wrapper. The binder comes from Connecticut. It’s a Habano binder, harvested using the stalk-cut method. That means that the whole plant is cut at the stalk, instead of leaf by leaf. And then hung upside down to dry. For the fillers, Mata Fina from Brazil is used in combination with Nicaraguan tobacco.


The box-pressed cigar has a rustic, rough-looking wrapper. Dark and oily. The rustic look and the darkness make the cigar look very tasty. The rings are impeccable. Dark blue and gold, all printed in high quality. The cigar feels a little soft though. But box-pressed cigars are made with less tobacco than round cigars, so that’s no surprise. The cigar has a strong aroma of hay.


The cold draw is perfect. The flavor is a mixture of raw tobacco and dusty milk chocolate. Very unusual. Once lit, the cigar has a sour coffee and wood flavor. Slowly pepper and sweetness come into play as well. The sourness fades away and is replaced by soft floral notes. There’s even a hint of milk chocolate. The cigar balances out with coffee, sweetness, and wood. But it is a bit rough in the back of the throat. There is also a flavor best described as old leather. The roughness in the back of the throat fades away. The cigar gets more pepper, wood, and leather. But the sweetness hasn’t disappeared either. The second third starts with leather, pepper, and more milk chocolate. American milk chocolate, which is a world apart from European milk chocolate. The cigar moves to a more woody flavor profile, with some acidity soon after. In the last third, the mouthfeel is dry. There is a distinct nut flavor, with leather, wood, and pepper.


The smoke is superb, as is always the case with Drew Estate. Thick, full, and enough to make the fire brigade drop by. The draw is great. The ash is white and firm. And the burn had to be corrected once or twice. The smoke time of this full-bodied, full-flavored cigar is two hours and fifty minutes

Would I buy this cigar again? Nah, I will stick to the regular Undercrown Maduro

number90

Categories: 90, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaraguan cigars, Undercrown | Tags: , , , , ,

Robert Graham 145th Anniversary Robusto

Robert Graham 145th Anniversary Robusto. This cigar celebrates the 145th anniversary of the Scottish liquor shop and tobacconist. They are famous for their own bottling as well. But when whiskey lover and cigar aficionado Stephen Johnstone acquired Robert Graham 1874 in 2014, he started working on private label cigars as well. The Tobacco Lords cigars saw the light. We reviewed the Tobacco Lords Maduro Spiers and the Tobacco Lords Natural Cunninghame before.


The limited-edition Robert Graham 1874 145th Anniversary Robusto, Johnstone looked to Didier Houvenaghel from DH Boutique Cigars. With Houvenaghel, he created a Nicaraguan puro with some vintage tobaccos. All the tobaccos used are from 2012, 2013, and 2014. With a Criollo wrapper, Pelo D’Oro binder and Pilato Cubano and Criollo 98 fillers. The cigars are only available in a 5×50 Robusto. Only 145 numbered boxes of 10 were made. Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez manufactured the cigars.


The cigar looks great. A nice, smooth yet oily Colorado colored wrapper that shows a few thin veins. A very small glossy black foot ring with golden lettering. The regular ring is glossy black to with very detailed golden printing on top. The cigar feels good, with the right amount of bounce when squeezed gently. The shape of the head is immaculate. The aroma is medium strong hay smell.


The cold draw is fine, yet the flavor is musty and dry. Like moldy straw with some spices. That musty flavor remains, although lesser in strength after lighting. It’s accompanied by pepper, coffee, and a lot of leather. After a few puffs, the musty flavor disappears. The cigar now has hints of sweetness, spices, wood, leather, and pepper. It then turns to sweetness, wood, leather, soil, and pepper. The sweetness grows, but with an unusual mixture of spices. The leather, wood, and earthiness are still there as well. At the end of the first third, a nutty flavor shows up too. The cigar is easy to retrohale. The cigar becomes smoother. With balanced, smooth spices, pepper, cedar, grass, and toast.


The draw is very good. The light-colored ash is quite coarse. The smoke is thick, full and white. The burn is pretty straight. The cigar is well balanced. It’s a medium to medium-full bodied cigar, yet full-flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty-five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? They are pricy but I would not mind a box

number92

Categories: 92, Nicaraguan cigars, Robert Graham 1874, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez

Pachuche Liga Roja Robusto

Pachuche Liga Roja Robusto. Pachuche is a brand we had never heard of until last September. The Swiss brand has been available for a few years, but only in Switzerland. Yet they are ready to expand, and secured distribution in Norway so far. Pachuche shared a booth with Viking Cigars at the Intertabac trade show, and Viking introduced us to Camillo Bazzell. Pachuche is Dominican slang for torcedor, a cigar roller.


The Liga Rojo is the second blend created out of the four Pachuche blends. It was created by Christian Bazzell, Camillo’s father, with the help of master blender William Ventura. The cigar is made with Dominican filler and binder. The wrapper is Mexican San Andres. There are three sizes available, we smoked the 5×50 Robusto for this review. The artwork on the cigar is designed by the half Mexican, half Swiss artist Patrick Küng, a childhood friend of Camillo Bazzell. Küng used his Mexican heritage as an inspiration.


The cigar looks good. The pastel green ring has a very detailed Mexican skull. The metallic foot ring makes clear what line of Pachuche you are smoking. The leathery wrapper is dark, almost Oscuro. But it’s oily, with tooth and almost without veins. The construction feels good. The cigar has a strong aroma of leather and wood.


The cold draw is good. It tastes like dry tobacco and raisin. Once lit, the cigar has a nice flavor of dark wood like oak. But with leather, soil and a little bit of a dark roast coffee. All very balanced and smooth on the palate. That changes to more leather, with grass, herbs, sweetness, and pepper. The second third starts with toast, leather, wood, and pepper. The flavors then become leather with pepper. But there’s also some chocolate and floral notes. The cocoa becomes a little stronger. In the final third, there is hay, leather, wood, chocolate, and a lot of pepper.


The white ash is dense and firm. The draw is good. The smoke is decent. The burn is pretty even as well. The cigar is well balanced, smooth and has character. It is a medium-full bodied cigar, full-flavored. The flavors are crisp. The smoke time is an hour and forty-five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes

number92

Categories: 92, Dominican cigars, Pachuche, Tabacalera William Ventura | Tags: , , ,

Hiram & Solomon Fellow Craft Robusto

Hiram & Solomon Fellow Craft Robusto. Freemasons George Dakrat and Fouad Kashouty are passionate cigar smokers. For years they wondered why there weren’t any cigars with the Freemason symbol. After years of research and getting the right approval, they made 1000 cigars as a fundraiser. That was such a success, that it created the idea of a regular production line. And now, just a few years later, Hiram & Solomon has a series of regular production lines. All of the lines are named after ranks in the Freemason society.


The Fellow Craft is the second tier. Like all other Hiram & Solomon cigars, they are made at Plasencia Cigars in Nicaragua. For the Fellow Craft, the duo blended Habano tobacco from the Nicaraguan regions Ometepe and Jalapa with a Habano Ligero from Esteli. For the binder, they chose Sumatra seed tobacco from Indonesia. And the wrapper is Habano Oscuro from Nicaragua. There are four vitolas available in this line, but we smoked the 5½x50 Robusto.


The cigar looks good. It’s dark, but still quite light for an obscure wrapper. The ring is beautiful. Blue, black and silver with the masonic logo. The foot ring is black and silver with the name of the line. The oily leathery wrapper has a few thin veins and a water spot. The shape and head look good. The construction feels fine with a nice spongy touch. The aroma of the cigar is wood with barnyard.


The cold draw is great. Very spicy raw tobacco is the flavor in the cold draw. Once lit, the cigar releases coffee, leather, wood, and green herbs. Slowly sugar comes in play as well, with a little chili pepper in the aftertaste. Some earthiness shows up too. After a centimeter, leather takes over the dominant role. With a hint of milk chocolate. The aftertaste is still pepper, red pepper flakes. The mouthfeel is dry. The rest of the first third is leathery with wood, soil, herbs, and pepper. There’s even a little hay in the range of flavors too. The second third starts with that smooth leather again. The leather gets accompanied by toast, spice, and pepper. Halfway milk chocolate returns as well. With some nuts. Almost like Nutella. Thick and creamy. Then the wood and leather become stronger again, with more pepper. And there is a vegetal flavor, almost like raw carrots.


The burn is good. The draw is very good. The white smoke is thick and full. The construction of this cigar is great. The ash is white and dense. The cigar is medium-bodied and medium-full flavored. The smoke time is exactly two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, I liked it.

number91

Categories: 91, Hiram & Solomon, Nicaraguan cigars, Plasencia | Tags: , , ,

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