Author Archives: cigarguide

Flor de Selva Year of the Ox

Flor de Selva Year of the Ox. For the last few years, Flor de Selva is one of the many brands releasing a cigar to celebrate the Chinese zodiac calendar. And just as others, Maya Selva and her team choose to go for a bigger cigar for this year. It is the Year of the Ox, and an Ox is known for its strength and size. So going for a 6×56 Toro Extra does make sense.

It is a very limited release, with most of the boxes going to China and Hong Kong. But special boxes of two cigars were made for relations such as cigar media. And I was one of the lucky recipients of a box. The cigar itself is made in Honduras, with a Honduran binder. There is also Honduran tobacco in the filler, together with Nicaraguan tobacco from Jalapa. Jalapa is bordering Honduras. The wrapper is Nicaraguan as well.

It is a good-looking cigar. Big and impressive. With a nice Maduro wrapper from Nicaragua. Smooth, oily, and no distracting veins. The off-white Flor de Selva ring looks great on the dark wrapper. The Year of the Ox ring stands out because of the yellow and red. But the two rings clash a little. The construction feels great. The cigar has a strong aroma of charred wood with hay and straw.

The cold draw has some freshness, but also green herbs and a mild salt flavor. The draw itself is fine. The cigar starts with a nice, spicy yet sweet coffee and earthy flavor. The coffee gets replaced by cedar very quickly. The flavors are smooth, flavorful but smooth. Leather and coffee return, with a nice Maduro sweetness. The second third has a thick, dark chocolate flavor with some dark spice and pepper. Slowly there’s more wood, leather, and some hay. But the spice is never far away. It is all balanced and smooth. In the final third, there is more black pepper and more leather.

The draw is great. The light gray ash is like a stack of quarters. The smoke is decent in volume and thickness. This is a medium to full-body cigar. The flavor is full, yet smooth. The burn is straight. The smoke time is two and a half hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? If possible

Categories: 92, Flor de Selva, Honduran cigars, Tabacalera del Oriente | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

La Sagrada Familia Maduro Robusto Extra

La Sagrada Familia Maduro Robusto Extra. The second blend of the Dutch cigar brand La Sagrada Familia. Dutch cigar enthusiast Tom Mulder fell in love with cigars on a trip to Cuba. Back home he became a regular at the Van Dalen Cigars shop in Den Bosch where he met Sasja van Horssen. After many years of friendship, Mulder approached Van Horssen with a question. That question was “can you introduce me to cigar manufacturers that can produce a cigar for me?”.

Mulder and Van Horssen talked to Juan Martinez from Joya de Nicaragua. And with Joya on board as a manufacturer, Mulder flew to Nicaragua. The first blend, a Habano version, was a success. It sells well in The Netherlands so a second blend was waiting to happen. And it is this La Sagrada Familia Maduro. Made with filler from Esteli, Nicaragua. Add a Dominican binder and an Ecuadorian Habano Maduro wrapper, and you have the La Sagrada Familia Maduro line. I did review the pre-release many years ago.

The cigar looks good. A slightly rough, yet evenly dark wrapper. Oily and a bit weathered under the scorching sun during the growing process. The black, gold, and white ring pop on the dark background. The aroma is deep and strong. Complex barnyard aromas. The triple cap is perfect. The cigar feels packed, hard.

The cold draw is good, with a mild honey flavor and a little kick in the aftertaste. The first flavors are dark, earthy, and leathery with the bitterness of dark chocolate. But not the flavor of dark chocolate. And there’s a hint of white pepper. The pepper gains power, and some honey supports it in the background. At the end of the first third, there is a bit of a liquor flavor, almost like rum-soaked dark chocolate. The Maduro sweetness kicks in during the second third. But not overwhelmingly. Nicely balanced with spice, wood, and leather. There’s even a milk chocolate flavor noticeable. The flavors become more complex. Wood, hay, chocolate, leather, and spices. Wood becomes the main flavor, with hay, white pepper, and honey.

Due to the thickness of the wrapper and the fact that the cigar is packed, it takes a little effort to get the burn going. But once it goes, it’s beautifully straight and slow. And the draw is fine, even though the cigar feels hard. The ash is light in color and firm. Not firm enough to survive a drop from the ashtray on the desk though. But that’s a user error, not a cigar error. The smoke is good. The strength is medium-full, just as the flavor. The smoke time is three hours.

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

Categories: 91, Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, La Sagrada Familia, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

VegaFina Year of the Ox

VegaFina Year of the Ox. One of the many brands that create a cigar commemorating the Chinese zodiac calendar. And a fitting review for today as the Year of the Ox starts today. VegaFina joined the brands that celebrate Chinese New Year a few years ago. Last year, Ministry of Cigars reviewed the VegaFina Year of the Rat.

This cigar is big, 6¼x56. Just like Davidoff, who started the Chinese zodiac theme cigars, the people behind VegaFina picked a big ring cigar. Maybe because the Ox stands for strength, and because it’s a big animal? The filler comes from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. The binder and wrapper are Nicaraguan as well. As the wrapper, a Habano 2000 tobacco was chosen. Tabacalera de Garcia takes care of the production of the cigars.

I received the samples naked due to plain packaging regulations. But we know that the cigars have the normal VegaFina ring and the second ring in red. With an ox and Chinese characters in golden print. The cigar looks impressive, not only due to its size. But also due to a nice, chestnut brown and oily wrapper with a few thin veins. The triple cap is a nice bonus. The cigar feels well constructed, with no soft spots at all. The medium-strong smell is a mixture of hay and a little ammonia.

The cold draw is great. There are raw tobacco and sultana flavors. After lighting, the first puffs are a little harsh. Wood, leather, coffee, and pepper. But after a few puffs, the cigar mellows out. Salty, herbal with leather, soil, and wood. Evilution moves on to a herbal, spicy, and salty milk chocolate. The mouthfeel is a bit creamy, and cedar is noticeable in the retrohale. The flavor then becomes spicy with young, wet leather as the base flavor. There is some sweetness. It comes close to agave syrup, the vegan alternative to honey. The sweetness becomes a little stronger. The cigar then moves to licorice, sweetness, leather, and herbs. A little salt ties it all together. The flavors are balanced, smooth yet bold. There are more leather and pepper starts to show up as well. The final third starts with wood and dark spices. There is plenty of cedar as well, although pepper becomes the dominant flavor at the end.

The draw is fantastic, open yet with the right amount of resistance. The ash is light-colored. The light-colored ash is decent yet not very firm. The burn is quite straight. The smoke is okay, but not too thick and plentiful. The cigar starts medium in body but turns to full later on. The flavor is full. The smoke time is three hours and thirty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Even though it is a ring gauge too thick for me, yes I will.

Categories: 92, Casa de Garcia, Dominican cigars, VegaFina | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Puro Ambar Legacy Robusto

Puro Ambar Legacy Robusto. Or should it be a Grand Robusto as it’s larger and thicker than the standard 5×50 Robusto Vitola? Anyway, the Puro Ambar brand is part of the portfolio Tabacalera El Artista. Recently the brand got an overhaul. New packaging and a new blend. But this is the old blend, with the old artwork. The line is around since 2011.

Tabacalera El Artista is not only a cigar manufacturer but also a cigar tobacco grower. And they are known for creating new varieties or bringing back old tobacco such as Dominican Negrito. The wrapper for the Puro Ambar is one of these exclusive tobaccos with the name 1900. It’s also part of the filler together with Criollo 98. The binder is Dominican Criollo 98 which is fermented in wine barrels.

The wrapper is dark. But a little rough with a few veins. It isn’t the best looking Maduro wrapper, but the rougher ones are often more flavorful. It’s oily and evenly colored. The white and brass rings match the wrapper, they compliment each other. Simple and clean in design. The cigar feels well constructed. The aroma is deep and dark. Manure and herbs. The herbs are very concentrated like vegetable stock cubes.

The cold draw is great, maybe even a bit on the loose side. There is a very mild cinnamon flavor in the cold draw. Once lit, the cigar releases wood with a dry sweetness. Soon these flavors are accompanied by leather and spice. The cinnamon and nutmeg are pretty pronounced in the retrohale. Halfway the cigar gets notes from dark roast coffee with sweetness, almost honey-like mixed with vanilla. The wood and leather are still in the flavor profile as well. Earthiness shows up with the bitterness and complexity of extra dark chocolate. Much like 80% dark chocolate. There is still spice and a little splash of pepper.

The draw is a bit on the loose side, but still acceptable. The burn isn’t razor-sharp but corrects itself so no touch-ups are necessary. The ash is salt and pepper in color, dense and firm. The smoke is thick and lush. This is a medium cigar, in body and flavor. And for its price, it is a very pleasant smoke. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Most likely yes

Categories: 89, Dominican cigars, Puro Ambar, Tabacalera El Artista | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Liga Privada Unico Year of the Rat

Liga Privada Unico Year of the Rat. Last year I reviewed another Liga Privada Year of the Rat, but that had nothing to do with the Chinese Zodiac calendar. This one does, as it’s a limited edition specifically created for the year. The original comes from 2016 and has a connection to ice hockey and a Drew Estate Cigar Lounge in a hockey stadium.

The 5½x46 Liga Privada Unico Year of the Rat hails from Nicaragua. From La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate. It follows the same recipe as the other Liga Privada cigars, yet with different crops, vintages, or different tobaccos. So the wrapper is Connecticut grown broadleaf. The binder is Brazilian Mata Fina. The filler comes from Honduras and Nicaragua. But by using different crops, or different quantities of each kind of tobacco, the blend is unique.

At first glance, there is not a lot of cigar to see. Only the top inch, with the flag tail, is visible. The rest of the cigar, below the classic Liga Privada ring, is covered with gold foil. The foot is covered with a blue and golden Limited 2020 Edition ring. When the gold foil is gone, a very dark, almost black wrapper is shown. Leathery looking with a big vein. The wrapper is oily and delicious looking even though it’s rough. The construction feels good. The barnyard aroma is very strong.

The cold draw is fine, with an earthy flavor. That earthiness, combined with herbs and sweetness, is the first taste after lighting the cigar. This blend is smoother than the ones in the sampler. There is a hint of charred wood. But in combination with earthiness, leather, spices, and a little bit of pepper. The dark spices slowly take control without becoming overpowering. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, those flavors. The flavors are quite smooth and this blend seems more subtle than other Liga Privada blends. After a third coffee becomes the strongest flavor. Sweetness is getting stronger as well. In the final third, there is more strength and character. That comes with darker flavors, such as a hint of dark chocolate, pepper, and dark spices. The finally is more peppery with some nuttiness.

I left my office to grab a bottle of water, and when I looked back I saw the office filled with smoke. That’s what a Drew Estate cigar does. The smoke is thick, white, and plentiful. The draw is smooth and the ash is white. The burn is straight. This cigar seems smoother and more subtle than other Liga Privada cigars. It’s medium to medium-full in body, full in flavor. The smoke time is two hours and thirty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? If I could, I would. This is everything I want in a cigar. Flavor, balance, elegance, character.

Categories: 93, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Liga Privada, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: ,

My Father Ilja VIII A

My Father Ilja VIII A. I hardly ever publish reviews on Wednesday. But this review has to be published on a special day, to commemorate Ilja van Horssen. Ilja van Horssen was a third-generation tobacconist, one of the founders of the largest independent premium cigar importer in The Netherlands. And before his death at age 36, he was the owner of the Cuesta Rey Cigar Shop (now La Casa del Habano The Hague) and G. De Graaff. In the first ten years after his passing, his brother Sasja released 36 boxes of rare or hard-to-find cigars. He would sell them at cost, and donate the proceeds to charity. Only if you were invited to a special night you could buy a box.

The first 7 editions were hard to find cigars, but for the 8th installment, a special blend was created. And here’s where it gets personal for me. At that time I was working for Longfiller Company and during a trip to Nicaragua, I asked My Father Cigars if they could create a small batch for this cause. Being very close to his family and knowing the meaning, brought tears to Jaime’s eyes. He was honored to be asked and a few months later the test blends arrived at our office. All the cigars are from the hands of Jaime or Don Pepin, they took care of the full production The blend is a secret. Personally, I smoked a few bundles of the remaining stock, for this review I’m breaking my box. And the review is published today as marks the 15th year since Ilja’s passing.

The cigar looks good. A nice dark and oily cigar. With a little sparkle from the minerals in the wrapper. The construction feels great. The ring has the face of Ilja van Horssen, with a cigar. And lots of gold. The sheer size of the cigar alone makes it impressive. There isn’t much aroma after six years of aging.

The cold draw is perfect, with a little salt, spice, and mint. Coffee, leather, and sweet chocolate come to mind after lighting the cigar. There is also a hint of salt, with some pepper. There is a nice umami flavor as well. The chocolate gets a bit more pronounced, with some pepper and wood. But the pepper is mellow. This cigar is considerably more mellow than it was six years ago. But the flavor profile remains the same. For an old review, visit CigarGuide. A little lime acidity shows up, with some wood. The retrohale gives smooth dark spices. The second third starts smoothly and full of balance. A perfect mixture of wood, spice, coffee, chocolate, and lime. And a creamy sweetness of condensed milk. The pepper is smooth but has the profile of red chili flakes. More softwood, dark spices, pepper show up halfway. There is also a little nut flavor, macadamia. Sweetness picks up, dark sugar. The cigar is also a bit meaty, with that umami flavor. The flavor profile is much like the profile six years ago but mellower. Wood and pepper are getting stronger in the final third. There is still a hint of coffee as well. Even now the cigar is easy to retrohale. Coffee with condensed milk is getting stronger, with a good dose of pepper. Slightly creamy.

The draw is phenomenal. The smoke could be a little thicker, but the blueish color is very nice. Although the smoke is getting thicker along the way. The burn is great. The light-colored ash isn’t firm, it breaks off easily. The cigar is smooth and balanced. Medium in body and flavor. The smoke time is four and a half hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? That’s impossible.

Categories: 93, My Father, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: ,

Montecristo Dantes Edicion Limitada 2016

Montecristo Dantes Edicion Limitada 2016. Even though this cigar is part of the 2016 Edicion Limitada program, it is actually a 2017 release. More often than not, special releases by Habanos come to the market with a delay of a year or more. Since the cigar for this review was purchased as a single a few years ago, the exact box code with the manufacturing date isn’t known.

The cigar is a Grand Corona with the Cuban factory name Hermoso No.1. It measures 6⅝x48. It is a size that is not in use for any Habanos regular production. San Cristobal de La Habana had three different releases in this size from 2004 till 2009. Romeo y Julieta’s Edicion Limitada 2003 is this size. And the Hoyo de Monterrey Primaveras 18 for the Chinese year of the Ox is this size.

The cigar looks rough, but that might be the traveling and being stored without cellophane in a full humidor. The wrapper itself is smooth though, Colorado colored and oily. The triple cap is flawless. Due to the gold in the Montecristo logo, the Edicion Limitada ring does not clash appearance-wise. The aroma is mild with hints of hay and wood.

The cold draw is good. It releases dark spices and hay. The first puffs are slightly bitter from coffee but with green herbs. A little salty as well. Slowly some sweetness shows up, but with a salty undertone. There’s also classic Cuban leather. The taste does bite the tongue a little though. Some hay shows up, the leather remains with some green herbs. The cigar is quite boring, one dimensional. After a third, the flavors pick up a little. Wood, soil, coffee with green herbs. The tongue bite is gone. Dark spices show up as well. A mild cocoa flavor follows, with some sort of licorice. Walnuts, leather, and spices push the other flavors away. The cigar is picking up in strength and flavor. It gets more character and depth. Cinnamon, leather, wood, and pepper. A slight hazelnut flavor shows up as well. The last third is really enjoyable.

The draw is fine. The burn is pretty good too. The ash is salt and pepper colored. A stack of dimes structure, but a loose stack. It drops often and won’t make long ash. The light blue smoke is decent in volume and thickness. The cigar starts quite mellow and boring. But the cigar gains in flavor, strength, and character. Overall the strength is medium but grows to full, and so is the body. The smoke time is two and a half hours

Would I buy this cigar again? No, I enjoyed it but I can get the same enjoyment out of cheaper cigars.

Categories: 89, Cuban cigars, Montecristo (Habanos) | Tags: , , , , ,

Liga Privada #T52 Flying Pig

Liga Privada #T52 Flying Pig. The fifth and last cigar from the Liga Privada Year of the Rat sampler for the Chinese zodiac Year of the Rat. I reviewed a lot of Year of the Rat cigars, but not this sampler. The complete sampler went up in smoke. The Liga Privada Nasty Fritas went up in smoke earlier, just as the Ratzilla, the Velvet Rat, and the #9 Flying Pig.

After the success of the Liga Privada #9 Flying Pig, Drew Estate decided to release the Liga Privada T52 Flying Pig a year later. The name comes from Jonathan Drew. When he went to Nicaragua to make cigars, people said “he will be successful when pig fly”. So when Drew Estate was successful, JD named a cigar after the disbelievers. The wrapper comes from Connecticut. It’s a Sun Grown Habano that’s been stalk cut. It means that the whole plant is cut and dried, instead of individual leaves. Brazilian Mata Fina makes the binder. The filler is from Honduras and Nicaragua.

As with the Liga Privada #9 Flying Pig, or for that matter any flying pig in the Undercrown line as well, the cool shape gives the cigar bonus points for looks. Drew Estate makes two Flying Pigs and one Feral Flying Pig for the Liga Privada series. Undercrown has three, Sungrown, Shade, and Maduro. The wrapper is even darker and oilier than the #9, with the same leathery, toothy look. The ring is the same design but the gray is brown and the silver logo is copper now. The cigar feels hard but evenly hard. The aroma is slightly dusty with hay, almost like an empty hay shed after the winter.

The cold draw is fine. Once lit the cigar gives coffee, earthiness, dark chocolate, and leather. Dark flavors. The cigar remains earthy and dark, with a hint of dark chocolate. But some spice and sweetness come in as well. The mouthfeel is warm and pleasant. Comforting almost. The retrohale gives notes of roasted nuts. After a third, there is a slight acidity with the earthiness and coffee. There’s also some pepper, but mellow and in the background. The flavors are complex. There is a slight bitterness that hints at dark chocolate or durian without the dark chocolate or durian flavor. Dark spices and pepper are lingering around the corner. Coffee isn’t far gone either. The mouthfeel is turning creamy. The sweetness gains strength, but smokey with an almost meaty mouthfeel. The smoke feels thick, almost textured. With nice barbecue spices. Near the end, the cigar gets more pepper but with a minty aftertaste.

It’s hard to keep the cigar lit in the beginning. But that gets better after half an inch. But once the cigar is burning, it is on. The smoke fills the office and the extraction fan works overtime. The draw is great. The ash is dense and firm. This is an interesting cigar with complex aromas. It is full-bodied and full of flavor. The smoke time is three hours.

Would I smoke this cigar again? I prefer a slightly thinner ring gauge.

Categories: 92, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Liga Privada, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Hiram & Solomon Entered Apprentice Robusto

Hiram & Solomon Entered Apprentice Robusto. The mildest of all the Hiram & Soloman cigars. Their entry-level cigar so to say. And named after the first degree of the masonry to make it fit. The Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason are the three degrees, and also the three core lines for Hiram & Solomon. The cigars are available in four different vitolas and in many countries around the world. The Hiram & Solomon Entered Apprentice Toro was the subject of a Philip & Ferdy Cigar Show episode.

The cigars hail from Nicaragua. From the Plasencia cigars factory. As the intention for this cigar is to be entry-level, Hiram & Solomon went for a Connecticut Shade wrapper. But not from Connecticut or Ecuador, where most Connecticut Shade wrappers come from. They got the wrapper from Honduras. The binder also comes from Honduras. For the filler, tobaccos from three countries are used. Rare tobacco from Paraguay, tobacco from Pennsylvania, United States. And the last piece of the puzzle is Habano from the Nicaraguan island of Ometepe.

The cigar looks good. The wrapper isn’t as pale as most Connecticut Shade cigars. There is one thick, unsightly vein on the side though. The ring with the Freemason logo is beautiful though. Blue and black with silver. The foot band mentions the line, Entered Apprentice. The cigar feels a bit soft. The triple cap is perfect. The aroma is mild. It smells a bit like a petting zoo.

The cold draw is a bit on the loose side. There is a mild minty flavor with some cedar. The first puff is sweet and bitter. Sugar and young wood, but with that classic Connecticut Shade old book flavor not far away. The sweetness remains and there is a hint of vanilla. The young wood changes to cedar and there is a bit of a moist mushroom flavor. There is no harshness nor pepper, so the retrohale is very pleasant. After a third, a mild nutty flavor shows up. Still with that Connecticut Shade mustiness lingering on the background. The sweetness remains and black pepper shows up. Still with cedar and that slight musty flavor. The pepper slowly gains strength, wood is still around with some leather. And that Connecticut Shade signature mustiness, although it is mild.

The ash is white, dense, and firm. The burn is slow and straight. The draw is good. The smoke is fine in volume and thickness. The cigar is medium in body and strength. The flavor is medium to medium-full. The cigar has some character and the Connecticut Shade mustiness is pretty mild on this one. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, there are better Hiram & Solomon cigars out there. But for a Connecticut Shade wrapper, this isn’t a bad cigar.

Categories: 89, Hiram & Solomon, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacos de Oriente Nicaragua | Tags: , , , ,

Liga Privada #9 Flying Pig

Liga Privada #9 Flying Pig. The fourth cigar from the Liga Privada Year of the Rat sampler for the Chinese zodiac Year of the Rat. I smoked several year of the rat cigars during the year of the rat. But this sampler wasn’t in my possession back then. It is now, so I will smoke the complete sampler now.

The unique shape of this cigar comes from an old, turn of the century, cigar catalog. Steve Saka, then CEO of Drew Estate, found that and decided to use it. The Liga Privada #9 blend is connected to Saka, as it was blended for him as well. He is the jefe mentioned on the ring. The cigar has a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper from the United States. The binder is Brazilian Mata Fina. The filler comes from Nicaragua and Honduras. This fat, short perfecto measures 4⅛x60.

Even after more than a decade, this weird looking cigar stands out. Short and fat, but in a perfecto shape with a pigtail. The wrapper is dark and it contrasts the simple black, silver, and white ring. The wrapper is dark and rough, but it fits the shape. Leathery and toothy, like the previous Liga Privada cigars that Ministry of Cigars reviewed. The construction feels good. The cigar has a medium-strong cedar aroma.

The cold draw is good. With a slightly wooden flavor. After lighting the cigar releases leather, earthiness, coffee, and wood. There is also some acidity and a little bit of dark chocolate. The cigar turns more to coffee and soil but with a little hay and a tiny splash of pepper. The chocolate remains and becomes thick and sticky in the mouth. There’s also a nice dose of pepper in the background. Halfway the cigar gives more wood, earthiness even though there is still a coffee flavor with pepper. Chocolate makes a comeback. And even though there is pepper in the flavor profile, it remains subtle so far. Then a honey sweetness shows up as well. Wood, coffee, and chocolate are getting stronger

The blueish smoke is of epic proportions. But that’s the case with every Liga Privada or the related Undercrown. Due to the thickness of the wrapper, the burn has a few issues staying even. The ash is light colored but turns brownish. It’s frayed but firm. This is a cigar full in body, and medium-full in flavor. The cigar is well balanced. The cigar is perfect to smoke to the nub with a nub-tool. The smoke time is two hours and forty-five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I like it, but I rather smoke a Ratzilla or Velvet Rat

Categories: 91, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Liga Privada, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , ,

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