Author Archives: cigarguide

Punch Platino Exclusivo India 2009

If you are a regular visitor of my blow, or if you know me personally and talked to me about cigars, you may have noticed that Cuban cigars aren’t my favorites. Now we are not talking vintage stuff, vintage Cubans are a world of difference with post 2001 production as its completely different tobacco and Cubatobacco has screwed up since, screwed up big time, under pressure of the Cuban government that needs money flowing in. For example, they lack quality control causing quality issues, there is a fertilizer problem so the soil isn’t replenished enough and there is a big monoculture problem where the soil doesn’t get any rest. Were Cubans the best before 2000, no doubt there, do they have the potential to be the best again? Yeah, but they need to change a few things and that will cause a temporary decline in turnover, but Cuba will benefit from it in the end.


Now enough with the criticism, I have to take my hat off for the Habanos marketing program. First of all, they don’t sell just a cigar, they sell the complete country, the vibe, the music, the rum instead of brand x or brand y, and they do an amazing job. Secondly they came up with the yearly limited edition, which was a huge success and is now widely copied by cigar manufacturers in Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominican Republic and anywhere else they make cigars. Third best marketing idea was that whole Behike scam, I mean, after 2000 years of cultivating tobacco a new, very special leaf is discovered? And its used to make a new Cohiba. Everybody buys it, nobody thinks “hey but that leaf was used in the regular Cohiba before, they have taken it out now so my regular Cohiba is less”, I mean, brilliant marketing right? But their best idea was the Exclusivo series, a concept that has been tried by a few copycats, I know General Cigars tried it and Tatuaje, but not to much of a success. And the idea is so brilliantly simple, distributers can choose a brand, pick a vitola that is not made for that brand, have an x amount of boxes made, add a second ring saying “exclusivo” and the name of the country and boom: it’s a collectible cigar that people hunt for. It’s not even a new blend, its just a different vitola. Chapeau Habanos marketing department, you guys are genius, and if marketing was the deciding factor for my reviews this would be a 100 point cigar.


Now the marketing is so genius that I fell for it too and I hunted this Punch Platino Exclusivo India down. I wanted this 7.6×49 Double Corona and found an online vendor that could get me a box. I wasn’t sure if the vendor could be trusted, I had never done business with him in the past so to reduce the risk I turned it into a box split. The vendor was thrustworthy but Dutch customs was paying attention and refused the parcel, we were just lucky that they returned to sender and didn’t confiscate and destroy it. The vendor shipped it again and this time it got through. The ring of the cigar is somewhat different, the top three quarters of the cigars are wrapped in a silver colored foil with a five pointed star embossed in it, the classic Punch ring, golden outline with white surrounding a red circle with white letters saying Punch Habana Cuba. The classic burgundy ring with silver lining and white dots saying Exclusivo India is attached to the foil too, so you can only see a small part of the cigar. Somehow it all fits together though. Once unwrapped I see that the wrapper is quite dark for a Cuban but its beautiful, it feels silky and has a mild oily surface but on the backside it has a more rustic look, and close to the head of the cigar you can feel and see bumps, must be a vein in the binder. The aroma is pretty mild, milder than I expected, and its barnyard, no ammonia though but then again, the cigar is about 8 years old.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw is good, the flavor is medium strong and I taste raisin and some pepper. I used a soft flame to light the cigar and I taste a nice mix of chocolate and coffee. After a centimeter I also taste some citrus. The coffee disappears and I taste a mild chocolate with a little bit of leather. After a third I taste some wood with some spices but all very mellow, I can even taste some pepper on the back of my tongue. Halfway i taste a nutty flavor with a little pepper. The nuttiness gets more refined and it tastes like mildly salted peanuts now. I taste some chocolate too and the pepper slowly gets stronger. Near the two thirds mark the peanuts get stronger.


The draw is great, I’m always concerned about the draw when I smoke a Cuban cigar but this one is great. The ash is gray with black stripes between the layers and it’s reasonable firm. The smoke is medium thick at most and medium in volume. The burn is straight as an arrow. The cigar is medium bodied and mild to medium flavored. The cigar has a very good finish. The smoke time is two hours and twenty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Not falling for the whole marketing trick again, plus this specific cigar can only be bought from collectors for extremely high prices. But if this was a regular production cigar it would be a Cuban i would smoke more often.

Score: 90

90

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Categories: 90, Cuban cigars, La Corona, Punch | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gilberto Oliva sr passed away

I just learned that Gilberto Oliva sr passed away, age 86. I want to wish the Oliva family strength and wisdom during these difficult time.

When I heard the news I thought back to February 2014, when I had the opportunity to meet this legendary man at the Oliva factory in Esteli, Nicaragua.

me & gilberto Oliva

Categories: Misc, Oliva, Tabacalera Oliva | Leave a comment

Colon Especiales Lancero

I think it’s about 10 years ago that the Panamanian brand Colon was introduced to the Dutch market with the release of a super premium perfecto for a crazy €45+ price tag which created some buzz. But the cigar didn’t sell much and neither did their better priced non limited edition cigars even though they were a nice smoke. Maybe it was the unknown brand, the fact that they came from Panana or the market wasn’t ready for it yet but I haven’t seen the brand in the recent years.


The cigar is a Panamanian puro and you could call it organic as the manufacturer claims the tobacco hasn’t been treated with pesticides not grown on artificial fertilizer. The tobacco comes from the mountainous area of Panama and until the 70’s this was the official diplomatic cigar of Panama. I can’t recall how I got my hands on this lancero, but I am looking forward to smoking it. It’s been a while since I smoked the brand, and I recall liking it, and then in my favorite vitola, I have high expectations.


The 7 5/8×40 lancero doesn’t come packed in cellophane, like most non Cubans. The wrapper looks a bit pale but not Connecticut shade pale and has a silky touch.I see one spot at the foot of the cigar like something in the filler is trying to break out, its like a pimple on a teenager but otherwise the wrapper looks beautiful. The construction feels good too and the triple cap is applied perfectly. After all these years of aging without the cellophane the cigar has little aroma left, I only smell a little bit of hay. I like the ring, which is very simple with a white background, a brown band onderneath with white letters saying especiales. On the white ring there are golden dots in the shape of Panama with dark brown letters Colon with a yellow stripe inside and small letters Panama. Very simple yet tasteful and the Panama shape makes it special.


A 40 ring cigar isn’t easy to punch, unless you have a tiny punch, so I cut the cigar. The cold draw is easy with a mild citrus and pepper flavor. After slowly setting fire to the cigar I taste some citrus but after two puffs also coffee, leather and pepper. The strength of the flavors surprise me. After an inch I taste wood with some pepper. After a third I taste spicy and peppery nut flavor. I also taste some caramel. Halfway I taste spices, slightly bitter but in a good way, with just a tiny bit of wood and the pepper has gone. Soon after I also taste a hint of cocoa, the caramel sweetness is gone.


The smoke is quite thick and plenty in volume. The draw is great too. The burn is straight as an arrow. The light colored ash is quite firm. The cigar is medium bodied and full flavored but it could have a little more evolution. The balance is great though. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I liked it but there are better lanceros out there.

Score: 89
89

Categories: 89, Colón, Panamanian cigars | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

C.A.O. Amazon Basin

Back in 2014 C.A.O. released their new special project, the Amazon Basin which is made of an Ecuadorean Sumatra wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder and filler from Nicaragua, Brazil and Colombia but the unique part of the blend is the rare Bragança tobacco that only grows in a small part of the Amazon and is only harvested every 3 years. Now I’m not a C.A.O. fan, I love their concepts, their innovative packaging and all but their cigars never did it for me, except for the La Traviata but still, as always I was intrigued.


In september of that year Rick Rodriguez from C.A.O. was one of the guests at the Dutch Big Smoke, of which I was one of the organizers. And Rick gave me one of the original release cigars, something I appreciate a lot but because of my huge stash of cigars and the C.A.O. brand the cigar got lost in my walk-in humidor. Earlier today I was talking to a friend and he was raving on about the cigar, that he has 2 boxes coming of the 2017 release, so I told him my experiences with C.A.O. but he kept on insisting I should try the cigar, so I dug it up (good thing about having your collection in stogie rate and taking the time to make different collections is that even though you have a huge stash, you can still easily find your cigars) and I’m ready to light it.


The first thing that I notice, and I think everybody notices, is the ring, or the lack of it. The cigar doesn’t have a ring but 4 tobacco leaves rolled into 4 separate wires and then wrapped around the cigar like a ring. It’s this kind of ingenuity that always makes me want to try new C.A.O. cigars anyway. The wrapper is nice, dark and shiny without a lot of veins. The construction feels good and the cap is placed nicely. And then the aroma, that makes my mouth water, dark chocolate and the smell is strong too.


I punched the cigar, my preferred way of decapping and with a 6×52 vitola it’s easy to punch. The cold draw is perfect and I taste some raisin, pepper and a mild minty flavor with a drop of lemon, and that all before lighting it. After lighting it with my Ronson varaflame I taste coffee, chocolate, toast and cinnamon. After half an inch i taste cinnamon, nutmeg, toast, lemon and some pepper. After an inch I taste lime with cocoa and toast. After a third it’s spicy cinnamon with pepper and cacao, the evolution is great. Halfway I taste pepper with cocoa and a little lime and mint in the aftertaste. Every other puff I taste cinnamon too, nice and spicy.  After two thirds the toast returns with the flavors mentioned before. I wonder if the ring is smokable since it’s tobacco and what it will do for the flavor profile of the cigar and the answer is yes and mint, more mint but also some bitterness.


The draw is fantastic, nothing less than perfect. The smoke is thick and full. The ash is light gray and firm, with nice layers. The burn is straight and slow. The evolution is great. This cigar is full flavored and medium full bodied. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? To my surprise: yes!

Score: 92
number92

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Your reviewer with Rick Rodriguez (CAO cigars)

Categories: 92, CAO, Nicaraguan cigars, STG Nicaragua | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Bespoke Traditional Cottontail

Even though we have so many mutual friends and we have been Facebook friends for a while, I never met Jeremy Casdagli in person until my friend Nasier introduced us at the Intertabac trade show in Dortmund last september. We chatted a little about tobacco and Jeremy was so kind to give me the Bespoke Traditional Cottontail for a review on my blog, well, as promised, here’s the review.


The cottontail is a vitola that was extinct for over half a century until Bespoke started making this vitola again, its a 5 inch long cigar that starts out with a ring 52, a robusto you might say but at the foot it’s 62 ring gauge and that makes it a figurado. Now I’m no fan of big ring gauges but because of this shape I’m intrigued on how it smokes and what it does for the development of flavors since the filler to wrapper ratio changes from start to finish.


The moment I take the cigar out of the cellophane I am hit by a strong aroma, hay and straw, very nice. The shape of the cigar and the closed foot are very unique and I love it. The wrapper has a nice coffee color, a little oil and no real visible veins, its a smooth looking cigar. The green and golden ring is very traditional, as the name suggests, not specifically my taste but of a good quality printing.


I used my Xikar double guillotine cutter to decap the cigar. The cold draw is crazy hard but that’s because of the closed foot. I taste spices and pepper. I used my vintage lighter to light the cigar. After lighting the draw opens and I taste a nice, smooth coffee with some nutmeg and a honey sweetness. After a third I taste creamy buttery toast and cedar with cinnamon and nutmeg. A bit lily French toast. Halfway I taste a creamy vanilla, like melted vanilla ice cream with some toast. The final third is more like a five spice mix with a little bit of pepper and some vanilla in the aftertaste.


The draw is fine. The light gray ash is firm and dense. The burn started a little off, it’s hard to get an even burn with a closed door but it corrected itself. The smoke is thin though, unfortunately. This is a medium bodied, medium full flavored cigar.  The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I wouldn’t mind smoking it more often.

Score: 91
number91

Categories: 91, Bespoke, Dominican cigars, KBF | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Viking Nordic Warrior Churchill

Years ago, I’m guessing five or six years ago I met Hawk, a Norwegian gentleman with his own Dominican cigar brands, Hawk and Amero, made by Willis Cabreras, who briefly had his own brand before he had to close his factory down. I tried some of the cigars, they weren’t for my palate but you can’t like them all can you? Then all of a sudden, three years ago, no Amero/Hawk booth at intertabac, just like two years ago. No mentions of the brand anymore so I thought Hawk gave up.


Last year, tucked away in a corner of hall 4 at the Intertabac trade show I saw Hawk, he was busy but his German distributer told me that they parted ways with Willis and teamed up with the legendary Ernesto Perez Carrillo for a new brand, Viking, honoring the history of Hawk’s fatherland. And I smoked the Viking Viking robusto which amazed me, I really liked that cigar. This year I had the pleasure to talk to Hawk again and his business partner Arnt and they handed me a few cigars, the Viking Viking but also the two blends I hadn’t tried yet, the Norseman and the Nordic Warrior, which I am reviewing now.


This 7×54 Churchill is made with Nicaraguan binder and filler and a smooth Sumatra wrapper from Ecuador that feels like velvet to the touch. The color is mocha and the ring is amazing. Its a metal alloy folded around the cigar and its in the shape of a viking with a classic viking helmet. The metal is gold colored with black letters and details. Absolutely unique and a nice touch. The cigar feels well made and the little pigtail on top is always nice to see. The aroma is strong and very spicy and herbal like, cilantro, parsley, those kinds of aromas.


Because of the pig tail I decided to cut the cigar. The cold draw is surprisingly easy for a Churchill and quite peppery. I lit the cigar with a vintage soft flame, I taste a full coffee with nutmeg and spices. After a centimeter I taste lemon with soft wood and five spice, balanced and smooth. I even retrohale without a burning sensation in my nose. After a third I taste pepper, herbs and wood, all balanced. Slowly the pepper tones down a little, the wood gets a little stronger. Halfway it’s just wood with herbs like nasturtium, spicy and full of flavor. The final third sees the return of the pepper. With an inch and a half to go I also taste some floral notes, with the wood, herbs and pepper.


The draw is great resulting in a full, thick, white smoke. The light colored ash is dense and firm. The burn is straight. The cigar is medium plus bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is two and a half hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? I hope they become available in The Netherlands soon, I love this cigar.

Score: 93
number93

Categories: 93, Dominican cigars, Tabacalera La Alianza, Viking | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Manowar Virtue Toro

Years ago, before I worked in the cigar industry, I used to order some Meier & Dutch cigars in America, cigars like the Diesel Unholy Cocktail, Manowar, Reposado and a few others but once I started working for a Dutch distributer I couldn’t do that anymore for a couple of reasons, first one that it’s illigal to import tobacco without a license, secondly that I needed to keep all my customers, the shop owners, happy and ordering online from America was a needle in their eye. But damn, how I missed my Diesels and Manowars.


I started bugging my employer to see if he could import and distribute them. He said “Meier & Dutch is part of STG, they will never allow it” but after more pushing and handing him all contact info he decided to send a mail. A few weeks later I ran into Alex Svenson, general manager of Meier & Dutch, in Nicaragua and that settled the deal. STG saw our success and is now starting to distribute those cigars in other European countries too. Late september the Manowar Virtue was introduced to the Dutch market and Alex handed me this one in person.


The Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper is silky and smooth without veins and the triple cap looks good. The construction feels fine. The cigar has a strong hay and straw aroma with some ammonia or something else acidic. Now I used to be a avid opponent of Connecticut Shade tobacco, but the last few months I finally started to enjoy it, so I’m looking forward to this cigar. The ring is the regular manowar ring, but in silver and white and that makes the mask quite hard to see. An other color combination should have worked better but on the other hand, the combination looks good with the pale wrapper.


I cut the cigar with my Xikar cutter, the cold draw is fine but I don’t taste a lot. After lighting I taste a mild coffee flavor, mild sweet and a little rough around the edge. After a centimeter the cigar remains mild, a little coffee, sweetness and a little pepper. The mild harshness I tasted is completely gone. Halfway The cigar is very creamy with a little vanilla and a little pepper. Near the end the pepper grows in strength, it’s white pepper.


The draw is good, could have been a hair tighter to be perfect. The smoke is thick, full and plentiful. The light gray ash shows clear rings. The burn is razor sharp though. This cigar is mild, both in flavor and body. It’s also a quite monotone cigar. The smoke time is about and hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, this is too mild for me, and not enough flavor.

Score: 89
number89

Categories: 89, Manowar, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cigar of the month November

It’s the end of the month again, so as in every month before this year I will rank the cigars I reviewed this month from best rated to lowest rated. This month I rated 14 cigars, some old, some very new and with a spread of the four most prominent cigar countries.

The cigar with the highest rating last month is:

Joya Red Half Corona with a 93 score

Now as for the complete list of cigars I published:

1) Joya Red Half Corona (Nicaragua) 93 points
2) Tatuaje RC233 Figurado (Nicaragua) 93 points
3) Long Live the King my style is jalapeño Lancero (Dominican Republic) 93 points
4) Alec Bradley Lost Art Robusto (Honduras) 92 points
4) La Sagrada Familia Maduro pre-release Robusto (Nicaragua) 92 points
6) Todos Las Dias Toro (Nicaragua) 92 points
7) Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Gran Reserve Robusto (Nicaragua) 91 points
8) Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Gran Reserve Torpedo (Nicaragua) 90 points
9) Viaje Zombie Antidote (Honduras) 90 points
10) A. Flores El Trovador Petit Belicoso (Dominican Republic) 90 points
11) Davidoff 702 #2000 (Dominican Republic) 88 points
12) Partagas Serie D#5 (Cuba) 87 points
13) San Pedro de Macoris Ecuador Robusto (Dominican Republic) 87 points
14) San Pedro de Macoris Brazil Robusto (Dominican Republic) 86 points

Categories: Cigar of the month | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alec Bradley Prensado Lost Art Robusto

When the Alec Bradley Prensado Churchill was picked as #1 cigar of the year by Cigar Aficionado I was surprised. Not that it was a bad cigar, but I never would have imagined it as a winner, it’s good but not that good. But then again, I disagree with reviews and top 25 lists more often than not, it’s all about personal preferences I guess, and I know that people disagree with my list too.


Last month George Sosa handed me a few new Prensado cigars, the Lost Art, in a robusto shape and the first one I lit I loved, I liked it so much better than the regular prensado so I kept one for a review too. And here it is.


The box pressed cigar is made in Honduras, at Raices Cubanas, where the majority of Alec Bradley cigars are made. The cigar has a Honduran corojo wrapper and binder plus filler from both Honduras and Nicaragua. The ring is the same as the Prensado ring, with the red AB logo in the middle, several colored rings around it in a Indian color scheme but with an add ring saying Lost Art.  The coffee brown wrapper has some veins and the head got a few wrinkles because of box pressing the cigar. The aroma is medium strong and it’s clearly a tobacco and barnyard aroma.


I cut the cigar with a double guillotine cutter. The cold draw is perfect, i taste raw tobacco with a little spice on my lips. After lighting with my trusted soft flame I taste a strong and spicy coffee with a soft cedar undertone. After a centimeter I taste a nice cedar with herbs and spices. The aftertaste has a hint of chocolate but very subtle. The whole cigar is subtle with a spicy and peppery layer over the subtle wood and toast flavors. The background flavors are a very delicate mix of flavors, subtle enough to taste but hard to identify since they are balanced and complex.


The draw is perfect, the smoke is thick, white and voluminous. The ash is light gray with dark smears. The burn is straight. This cigar is medium plus bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is little over an hour.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, I love this cigar.

Score: 92
number92

Categories: Honduran cigars, 92, Alec Bradley, Raices Cubanas | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

San Pedro de Macoris Ecuador Robusto

Yesterday I wrote about Agio cigars latest release, the San Pedro de Macoris line and I reviewed the Brazil blend. Today I’ll be smoking the second blend, the Ecuador blend, made with a Connecticut Shade wrapper grown in Ecuador, Dominican Olor as a binder and filler consisting from Brazilian tobacco and Dominican Olor and Piloto Ligero. I got this cigar at the same shop as the Brazil version, Piet van Kuyk in Eindhoven


I don’t know if this budget friendly cigar, €4.50 in The Netherlands, is available on the American market or will be available on the American market. Agio used to be distributed by Drew Estate but recently they parted ways and Agio is on its own now on the American market, although they still distribute Drew Estate in several European countries. I can only imagine that Agio will release these San Pedro de Macoris in the USA too once their office is up and running.


As with the Brazil blend, the designers of the ring made good use of the colors of the flag. The rooster logo is in yellow, the lines on the ring are in red and blue so the Ecuadorean flag is represented, add the silver letters and you have a slick modern ring. The wrapper is slightly pale but still quite dark for a Connecticut shade cigar. I see one vein on this well shaped cigar. The cigar has a strong smell, quite ammonia rich like a stable in the morning when the cows just were released from a night in the shelter and before the farmer cleaned out the sawdust and straw that covered the concrete floor.


I cut the cigar. The cold draw is great, the flavor is mildly acidic with white pepper. After lighting I taste earthy coffee with a sharp edge. There is a woody flavor too and spices. The coffee disappears. After a third I taste lemon with cedar and herbs. Halfway I taste lemon, a mild musty cedar, a little cinnamon and sugar.


The draw is a bit easy.  The smoke is medium full in volume and thickness. The ash is white, dense and firm. The burn is a bit off. The thin wrapper cracks halfway. The cigar is medium bodied medium flavored. There is little evolution. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s better than the Brazil but still not a cigar for me.

Score: 87
number87

Categories: 87, Agio Caribbean Tobacco Company, Dominican cigars, San Pedro de Macoris | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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