Author Archives: cigarguide

Joya de Nicaragua Cuatro Cinco

When I was working for the largest independent cigar importer & distributer of The Netherlands one of the brands we handled was Joya de Nicaragua, and the best sellers were the very inexpensive Clasico, Rosalones and Cabinetta series, way better than the still very affordable Antaño and Antaño Dark Corojo lines. So when Joya de Nicaragua released their Cuatro Cinco to celebrate their 45 years in the industry my employer just looked at the prices and said “an 8 euro Joya, lets not do that, that price is way off compared to the 3 euro Clasico of 5 euro Antaño.”. Now a few weeks later I went on my first trip to Nicaragua and one of the factories I visited was Joya de Nicaragua. Juan Martinez welcomed me, we sat down in the conference room where a box of each of their offerings was displayed and asked “do you want to smoke something?”. I said “I don’t see the cuatro cinco, I would love to try that one and I would love a sample for my employer”. Juan got me a box, and the day I got back home, I drove to my employers shop, handed him the box, he smoked one and ordered every box that Joya still had in stock, not that that was a lot, only 80 boxes of the 4500 made were left so I handed him that sample right on time. Today is The Sandinista Revolution day, and since the factory has so much history with the rise of the Sandinista’s, it feels like a good day to publish this review today.


The cigar is a 6×54 toro extra, slightly box pressed and made completely from Nicaraguan tobacco, a true puro. The cigars were so popular that the company tweaked the blend a little, going from a all Nicaraguan cigar to a mostly Nicaraguan cigar with barrel aged ligero fillers, a Dominican volcano binder and the same wrapper as the original release. The new cuatro cinco reserva especial isn’t a limited edition, but will be produced in low numbers on a continues basis and is available in four vitolas instead of the just one in the original cuatro cinco release. I will be reviewing one of the reserva especial too in a later stage.


The ring is something special, they are actually two rings but on top of each other. The bottom ring is a bit bigger than the upper ring so you can see the golden ring with the white Joya de Nicaragua logos stick out on both the top and bottom side of the black ring. Now in the reserva especial this has changed to a silver bottom ring. The black ring has a golden Joya de Nicaragua logo with 4 horizontal lines on each side, one side says 1968 and the other one 2013. Above the logo is says edition limitada in cursive letters and underneath the logo it says cuatro cinco in big letters. This also changed with the reserva especial into white letters and a white logo with some golden details. This is how you can tell the difference when you see the cigars in the shop, and if you find the golden one, get it! On the inside of the ring, and I know this from previous cuatro cincos I smoked, you will find a drawing of either some vulcanos as a tribute to Nicaragua, hands as a tribute to the rollers or the factory. The clark wrapper feels silky and looks amazing with no visible big veins. The construction feels very good and the barnyard aroma is quite strong.


I punched the cigar and got a great cold draw with a pretty strong raisin flavor. I lit the cigar with a soft flame. I taste some earthy flavor, leather, coffee and cocoa. After half a centimeter I taste cedar, spices and a little chocolate. After half an inch it’s cedar with a little nutmeg and pepper. After a third I also taste a mild sugar. Halfway I taste walnut with pepper. Slowly the pepper is getting stronger. At the end I taste cedar with the pepper.


The draw is close to perfect, just the right amount of resistance. The ash is dense and firm, dark gray in color. The burn is good although I needed a touch up halfway. The smoke is thick and great in volume. The cigar is medium bodied and full flavored, well balanced and plenty of evolution. The smoke time is two hours and five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? That would be impossible but I’ll settle for the reserva especial instead.

Score: 92
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Categories: 92, Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, Joya de Nicaragua, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Vegas de Santiago Gran Reserva Maria la Gorda

Over the almost fifteen years that I’ve been smoking I have smoked a lot of brands, a lot of variety cigars, some I liked, some I didn’t like but one of the brands that I smoked almost from day one and still like today is the Costa Rican brand Vegas de Santiago. And they like me, they know my blog and at the Intertabac trade show they asked me to come over and handed me some samplers including this Gran Reserva, a blend unknown to me and I can’t find it on their website either.

 


I did found some information on the website of a German retailer and it turns out that it’s a very budget friendly bundle cigar, less than 5 euro for this 6×60 and the, now discontinued torpedo with the same blend once scored 94 points for Cigar Journal and earned the “best buy” title. I can’t find any information about the blend though.

 


The milk chocolate colored wrapper has a mild reddish glow but no oil. It feels a bit like velvet. The ring is copper colored with dull golden edges and white letters, very simple. The cigar feels well constructed and the shape is good, the cap is nice. The medium strong aroma is typical barnyard.

 


Because of the big ring I decided to grab my punch instead of a cutter. The cold draw is great, the flavor is mild savory. After lighting I taste a sweet flavor with a mild coffee bitterness. Due to the big ring gauge the flavors are muted. A quarter of an inch in I taste pepper with cedar. After a third I taste cedar, pepper and honey. The flavor doesn’t change much, only the pepper grows stronger.

 


The draw is good. The light gray ash is firm. The smoke is medium thick and in volume. The burn on this medium bodied and medium flavored cigar is straight. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Not in this ring gauge, that’s for sure.

Score: 84

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Categories: 84, Costa Rican cigars, Tabacalera Vegas de Santiago, Vegas de Santiago | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Royal Danish Havana Blend Short Robusto LE 2014

Royal Danish, the name would suggest that the cigar comes from Denmark but no, it is a Nicaraguan puro made in Esteli, Nicaragua at the Plasencia Factory for the Danish brand owner Jan Vistisen and that’s the only connection to Denmark as there is. I did a few reviews on the Royal Danish Regal Blend in the past, but now its time to light the Havana Blend Short Robusto, which is a limited edition according to the ring. I can’t find any more information since the company doesn’t have a proper website. I did however found out that today is Jan Vistisen’s birthday, a good reason to publish a review of his brand.


According to a 2014 interview in Cigarjournal  this Havana blend is a cheaper but not lesser blend than the flagship Regal blend that I reviewed before and I recall liking the Regal blend so I got my hopes up high for this 4×52 small cigar. Due to the lack of information I can’t write a longer intro, so let’s focus on the cigar. (edit: after removing the foot ring I noticed an url printed on the inside http://www.havana-blend.com  with a little info but the website hasn’t been updated since 2014 though.)


The first thing that I notice is a nice metallic hologram sticker with a year, 2014, and Royal Danish Cigars written on it. Usually there is a barcode sticker, sticky tape or nothing so this sticker stands out and I like it. The ring is pretty, its black with golden dots, the Danish shield in the centre with a crown and Royal Danish Cigars written in white letters. The ring will not get the exact same and high score as the regal blend even though the rings look alike but that’s because the stone that’s on the Regal ring isn’t on the Havana blend ring. The foot ring is golden with black letters saying Limited Edition and a black oval with golden letters saying Havana Blend. In my opinion the black and gold should have been switched to make it more modest. There is a piece of yellow lint running from the foot of the cigar all the way over the head to the other side of the foot, which is not seen very often and makes the cigar stand out in a humidor. The wrapper has a nice deep brown color and no visible veins but the cap has a slightly lighter color, but it looks good. The construction feels and looks great. The aroma is medium strong and pure straw and hay.


I punched the cigar, the draw is a little tight and I taste raisin with a mild cedar. After lighting the cigar, with a single jet flame for once, I taste coffee with a little citrus. After a few puffs I taste earthy flavors with cocoa, lime and chili peppers. After an inch I taste a mild metallic earth flavor with a peppery aftertaste. Halfway I taste nuts with lemon. The nuts get stronger and a little pepper shows up at the background and aftertaste. The final third starts with pepper, sticky chocolate and a little nuts.


The draw is a little on the tight side and that causes the smoke to be thinner than I like. After a quarter of an inch I decided to cut the cigar and that improved both the draw and the smoke a little. The ash is light gray and reasonably firm. The burn is slow but not completely straight. The evolution is good and this medium full bodied cigar is also medium full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I would like to try one with a better draw before I give my final verdict.

Score: 88
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Categories: 88, Nicaraguan cigars, Royal Danish | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wilson Adams Mr. Wilson Lancero

Back in 2015 I visited Nicaragua for the second time. This time for the Cigaragua book from Marcel Langedijk & Jesaka Hizkia, they made the book but I arranged the whole trip, set up all the appointments, took care of transportation etcetera but when they left after a week I stayed a little longer to hang out with some of the cigar guys, learn more about tobacco and learn a little Spanish too.


On my last day in Esteli Juan Martinez from Joya de Nicaragua drove me to Managua where I stayed in a hotel for 2 days before my flight home. And in that hotel I ran into Skip Martin, whom I met a year earlier. Skip invited me to come over to the patio of his room for a few cigars and one of his friends, Brandon Wilson from Wilson Adams Cigars who gave me this Wilson Adams White Label lancero


This 7×40 Lancero looks good with a milk chocolate colored Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and predominantly Nicaraguan filler. The ring is clean and simple, white with a golden pattern of lines, Wilson written in gold, the a W in gold and red and Adams in gold on a red square. Add a little blue and yellow and it would have been a Mondriaan painting, I like it. The construction feels good, no soft spots, the shape looks good, a well made cigar. The aroma is mild, I smell some dry spur wood and hay.


I cut cigar, the cold draw is great and mild sweet. After lighting I taste a smooth and sweet coffee. I also taste a hint of cinnamon. Slowly I taste more pepper and after a third the pepper is dominant with a bit of cocoa on the background. Halfway I taste more of a vegetable flavor with a mellowed our pepper and some salt. The pepper changes of flavor, the salt fluctuates in strength. The final third it’s salty with oak, herbs and pepper. The strength picks up, just like the spice and pepper.


The draw is perfect. The smoke is full, white and thick. The ash is light gray and it makes a curve to the left. The burn is pretty straight. As expected this cigar offers plenty of dynamics and subtle flavor changes. It’s a medium bodied medium full flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I need to score a few.

Score: 91

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Categories: 91, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacos de Oriente Nicaragua, Wilson Adams | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Navarre Short Robusto

Premium handmade longfillers are usually made in the Caribbean with Nicaragua, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Honduras as main manufacturers but there are also factories in Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Peru but outside those countries you won’t find many hand made premium longfillers made. Shortfiller yes, longfillers no. I know that there is some production on the Canary Islands, I know of two producers in Indonesia and then Hedon in France that produces this French puro Navarre in the border region with Spain.


The company started, went belly up, restarted, disappeared from the scene again and is back again now. I found a short robusto (4×48 according to online sources but a little longer than that on my cigar measuring tool) in my humidor and because of the tax band I recognize I bought this cigar in Belgium a few years ago. I did review several Navarre cigars in the past but never with my 100 point scoring system so here we go.


The wrapper is a bit rough looking but has a beautiful deep, yet not dark, reddish brown color. The construction feels good and the triple cap is immaculate. The ring is beautiful, vertical banners of different shades of red with a copper horizontal line on top and bottom on white paper, white letters saying Navarre and the same copper in a banner saying France. The aroma is mild, a little wood and manure.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw is a bit tight, still within margins. I taste a bit of sweet wood with a little spice. After lighting I taste espresso and cedar. After half an inch I taste mild, dry cedar with a strong cilantro or parsley flavor. After a third the cigar gets a bit nasty, not harsh but just not very nice tasting. The final third doesn’t change much.


The draw is good, better than the cold draw. The ash is smeared but firm. The burn is beautiful but the smoke is only medium in thickness and volume. This is a mild cigar, medium flavored. The smoke time is fifty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, not worth the €7,50 I paid. It’s strange as in my memory the cigar was quite alright.

Score: 82
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Categories: 82, French cigars, Hedon Cigars, Navarre | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Bucanero Z Toro & Churchill

A few years ago Robert Spoden from Bucanero Cigars send me a sampler of cigars and a few of them I reviewed for the blog, but two of them got lost on the bottom shelve of the humidor. I found them while organizing my humidor last year and have been meaning to review the remaining cigars but there is so much to review. Today I was browsing my inventory on my stogierate account and saw the name so I decided to pick the Bucanero Z for a series review.

This Nicaraguan blend is made with Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers and a Sumatra wrapper from Ecuador. I remember enjoying the Canon Cubano and the Treasures of Costa Rica quite a lot, so my expectations for this Bucanero Z are high, and I always root for the underdogs, the small companies that do things their own way like Robert Spoden does with his family owned, veteran run, company that sells their cigars on his own website and doesn’t have sales representatives trying to push the cigars into every humidor in the country.

Bucanero Z Toro


The 6×50 box pressed cigar looks great, a nice milky chocolate wrapper with a few veins and a mild shine from the natural oils. The construction feels good and the cap is placed nicely. The ring is of high quality paper and printing, pitch black with a golden Z and golden outlines and then white letters with a red outline saying Bucanero. The ring is clean, clear and beautiful. The aroma is medium strong after all these years and have a barnyard smell.


I cut the cigar and the cold draw is perfect. I taste a little raisin, dry tobacco and some white pepper. After lighting I taste coffee and earthy flavors with a nice amount of sweetness. After a quarter of an inch I still taste the earthy and coffee flavors but now with a marzipan like sweetness, soft and creamy, and a peppery aftertaste. After an inch the pepper grows stronger, the marzipan and the coffee have disappeared and the earthy flavor has a little lemon in it. Halfway I get a hint of chocolate too, with the lemony soil and the strong black pepper. There is a mild nuttiness too, peanuts to be more precise and the flavor is getting stronger. Near the end the soil and pepper are flavors I taste with a little salt on the background, the chocolate and peanuts disappeared.


The draw is flawless and the smoke is full, both in volume and thickness, with a beautiful white color. The ash is light gray, past dense and part beautifully layered. The burn is razor sharp. The cigar is medium full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? Yes and I recommend everyone to check out this brand.


Score: 92
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Bucanero Z Churchill


The 7×50 Churchill looks thinner due to the box pressed shape and has a nice  light brown wrapper with only a few thin veins. The touch is velvet like. The construction feels good, the cap is placed nicely, all in all this is a good looking cigar with a very pretty ring as described above. The cigar has a mild woody aroma.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is fine. I just taste a bit of a salty tobacco flavor. After lighting I taste a coffee, dirt, lemon and herb flavor. After half an inch I taste herbs, licorice, lemon and sawdust. After a third I taste a nice red pepper. Halfway i taste wood and herbs with a little pepper. The final third starts peppery and with five spice, a little sweetness and lemon. The pepper grows in strength with cinnamon and a bit of a carrot flavor that I happen to like.


The draw is fantastic. The light gray colored ash is layered and dense. The smoke is nice and thick. I would call this cigar medium plus bodied and full flavored. There is enough evolution. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? I prefer the Toro.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, 92, Bucanero, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

E.P. Carrillo Encore Majestic

I have met Ernesto Perez Carrillo a few times, both at the Intertabac trade show in Dortmund and once in Nicaragua where we ran into him at the A.J. Fernandez factory while interviewing A.J. and taking pictures for the Cigaragua book. Ernesto came walking in with Gilberto Oliva, so there was a lot of tobacco knowledge on a few square meters there. And last september at the Intertabac trade show I walked passed the booth, Ernesto called me in and said “I would like you to try this cigar” and handed me this Encore.


Now when I see that the encore is a Nicaraguan puro, even though its made on the Dominican Republic, I think “maybe I ran into him when he was buying tobacco for this line”, I mean, he was with Gilberto Oliva, Angel from ASP and came to visit A.J. Fernandez and those are three tobacco growers. But I could be wrong. The cigar comes in four vitolas and I smoked the 5 3/8×52 Majestic.


The cigar comes wrapped in cellophane and has a cloth band to protect the foot of the cigar. When I release the cigar from the cellophane I notice that it’s slightly box pressed. The cigar has a double ring, a secondary ring in brown with copper colored, dry detailed outlines and white letters saying Perez Carrillo and then a main ring in the same brown with the same copper detailed outlines, different shades of brown and white to detail the ring and the Perez Carrillo logo in the center with encore in white letters. The ring fits perfect with the dark, little rough but oily wapper. The cigar feels evenly packed, the shape is good, the cap is good. And the aroma is great, freshly baked whole grain bread and bell peppers, with a little manure.


I cut the cigar for a very loose cold draw, which tastes mild spicy. After lighting I taste a dry and strong espresso, bitter in a positive way. After a third I taste cedar with a faint cocoa, slightly bitter and harsh. The flavors don’t change after, except for a little pepper at the end.


The smoke is amazing, thick, white, full and a lot of it. The draw is a little loose. The ash is light gray with black stripes. The burn is straight. The evolution lacks a little. I would call it medium bodied and medium flavored.

Would I buy this cigar again? I would like to try one with a draw that is less loose, I expect that the flavors are more refined then due to a lower combustion temperature and it will also lead to a longer smoke duration.

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, Dominican cigars, E.P. Carrillo, Tabacalera La Alianza | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

El Criollito Half Corona

Abe Flores created this blend as a European release, and if the FDA gets their way and their proposed policy on cigars doesn’t get overthrown by the senate and the house of representatives that will be something we will see a lot more, European releases. Even though I’m European and think it’s cool that there are some cigars that we can get that aren’t available in the USA instead of the other way around, I would hate to see that happen.


The El Criollito line is made out of a lot of Criollo tobacco, hence the name. Criollo 98 from the Dominican and Nicaragua as a filler, a Mexican San Andres binder and an Ecuadorian rosado criollo wrapper make this four vitola line. I smoked the 3 1/2 x50 Half Corona, a gift from Abe himself, but there is also a 5×54 Robusto, a 6×60 Double Magnum and a 7×70 Sentenial.


The smooth and oily wrapper has a mild reddish glow over the coffee colored wrapper. The cigar looks good and feels good although the triple cap isn’t glued straight. The ring is simple and small, brown with golden outlines and white letters El Criollito A. Flores. The aroma is very strong, it reminds me of horses that just came back from a run.


I cut the cigar the cleanest cut ever, literally just taking the cap off. I taste a slight salty and spicy cold draw, which has the perfect amount of resistance. I taste coffee with salt. The flavors are bolder and stronger than expected. After a few puffs I also taste nutmeg and cinnamon. The coffee disappears and I now taste a mild salt with wood. The flavor gets a little citrus halfway, with the wood and salt. The final third is stronger, with a lot of added pepper.


The draw is great. The light gray smoke could be a little thicker and more voluminous. The light gray ash is firm. The burn is straight as an arrow. The cigar is medium full bodied and flavored. The smoke time is fifty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes.

Score: 91
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Categories: 90, Dominican cigars, El Criollito, PDR Cigars | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Quesada Reserva Privada Oscuro Toro

Last month I wrote a review on the Quesada Reserva Privada Toro, made with a vintage Dominican Criollo binder. A year after the original release in 2015 the Quesada family released another blend using that same vintage leaf and the same Reserva Privada name, the Quesada Reserva Privada Oscuro with a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper.


Now I am a fan of Connecticut broadleaf, one of my favorite cigars is the La Casita Criolla from Pete Johnson, a cigar completely made with Connecticut broadleaf and I like the La Duena by My Father a lot too so I have high expectations from this cigar. I mean, vintage binder, one of my favorite wrappers and all from a great company. I got this cigar at the last intertabac trade show in a sampler from Raquel Quesada.


The ring is the same as the regular Reserva Privada, black, stylish and gorgeous. The wrapper is very oily, dark and smooth. Halfwheel wrote that the cigar won’t win any beauty contests but this wrapper would certainly catch my eye in a humidor and it screams “i’m delicious, smoke me”. The cigar has a nicely, almost perfect, rounded head, a beautiful triple cap and it feels evenly packed. I live in an area with quite a few cocoa processing plants and when I sniff the cigar that’s what I smell, raw cocoa.


I used my butterfly cutter to decap the cigar. The cold draw is fine, woody and earthy with a mild pepper. After lighting I taste coffee. Soon after I taste wood, a mild pepper, a little lemon and all in a buttery, creamy way. The pepper grows and becomes the dominant flavor while the creaminess disappears. After a third I taste pepper with salt and some wood. Halfway I taste charred dark wood with pepper. The final third is charred wood, pepper and floral flavors. The floral flavor tones down, the pepper gets stronger near the end.


The draw is great while the smoke is very pretty and white, with a great thickness. The light colored ash is firm. The burn is straight. The cigar is medium full bodied and flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Dominican cigars, Quesada, Quesada Cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Don Payo El Baron Toro

A few days ago I smoked and reviewed the Don Payo El Baron Toro and now I’m smoking and reviewing it again. That might look like overkill, but it’s not. The big difference between the cigars is the age, the one that I smoked a few days back was an old one, probably close to ten years old while this cigar is pretty fresh, smoking it a few days apart will really show the difference and what age did to the blend.


Don Payo El Baron is a cigar made by Guillen Cigars and the cigar, just like their other blends, disappeared for a few years but are now back, exclusively for the website Untold Leaf (use ‘CIGARGUIDE’ for 30% off). The batches are still small, just like a decade ago, and the cigar is hard to find, yet under 6 dollar if you use the 30% off code.


The wrapper is not to my liking when it comes to color, a yellowish brown wrapper, with thin veins, quite oily though. The ring could use an overhaul but I do like the fact that Guillen Cigars sticks to the glossy black & gold for all their cigars except for the Don Fernando, which is in the colors of The Netherlands. The cigar feels good, no hard or soft spots, the shape is fine too. The aroma is quite strong, herbal like rocket salad.


After cutting the cigar I taste a mild spicy and grassy flavor with a cold draw that is a little bit tight. After lighting I taste grass with cinnamon and cedar. After a centimeter I taste some cedar with pepper and a mild musty Connecticut Shade flavor. After a third i also taste a honey sweetness. Halfway I taste a bit of marzipan with green herbs and pepper. The final third is cedar with a little pepper again. There is also a mild acidity.


The draw is great. The white ash is medium in thickness and volume. The white with black spots ash is firm. The burn is great. This medium bodied and flavored cigar has a smoke time of an hour and a half approximately, I don’t know exactly since I was forced to take a break, due to the fire brigade evacuating the whole block due to a gasoline smell.

Would I buy this cigar again?  I’m not liking the Connecticut Shade myself, so I won’t, but it you like that wrapper, please order.

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, Don Payo, Guillen Cigars/GDW, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , ,

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