Author Archives: cigarguide

CAO La Traviata Angry Santa

Yesterday I wrote a review on the CAO La Traviata Maduro Evil Snowman Limited Edition, the limited edition that CAO released in 2013 for the holiday season. But the Evil Snowman wasn’t the only limited edition as STG, the parent company of CAO, released the Angry Santa too at the same day. Where the Evil Snowman is the La Traviata Maduro the Angry Santa is a limited edition of the La Traviata but a little modified.


The modifications are not huge when it comes to the wrapper, as its the same Ecuadorian Habano but just from a higher priming, the blend however is different according to the CAO website. I wonder if this will be as good as I remember the La Traviata to be, that was by far my favorite CAO although the Amazon Basin was good too. I didn’t care for any other CAO though, so I’m hoping they didn’t screw up the blend but then again, if they did, its only a limited edition with a small number of cigars released.


Just like the Evil Snowman the Angry Santa has a huge ring, half the cigar is covered with a ring on black shiny paper and an image of an evil angry santa that makes Billy Bob Thornton looks good as Bad Santa. This santa gives children nightmares. The santa is smoking a La Traviata and the smoke is forming the letters CAO. Th wrapper is oily and shiny with a reddish brown shine. The construction feels good and the cigar is beautifully shaped. The aroma is a mixture of wood, mint and herbs and medium strong.


I punched the cigar and find a loose cold draw, mild spicy. After lighting I taste spices like cinnamon with cedar, lime and some sugar. After an inch I taste cedar with nutmeg. Halfway the lime is getting stronger. The final third starts with spicy cedar


The draw is a little loose but not as loose as the cold draw. The smoke is thick and white and the ash is white too. The cigar is medium bodied yet full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, first of all it’s a limited edition from a few years back and secondly I remembered the La Traviata to be better.

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, CAO, Nicaraguan cigars, STG Nicaragua | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

CAO La Traviata Maduro Evil Snowman

In 2013 CAO releases two limited edition versions of their La Traviata line, one of the only CAO lines that I like. I found both of the limited editions, Angry Santa and Evil Snowman, at Corona Cigars in Orlando, at the downtown location in February 2014 and I bought one of both 6 1/2 x52 Toro sized cigars just to try, as I do with every new CAO line as I do love their creativity in lines, packaging etc although most of their lines turn out to be a disappointment for me. But La Traviata was a good one, so my expectations for this limited edition is quite high.


The Evil Snowman is based on the La Traviata Maduro line, the cigar is made at the STG factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. The wrapper is a Connecticut broadleaf, the binder is from Honduras while the filler is from both Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Only 21.000 cigars were rolled so I guess I was quite lucky that I was able to buy one of the last singles Corona had lying around in their huge humidor and that for the very reasonable price of 7 dollar even though that was little over the MSRP of $6.60


The wrapper is dark, smooth, oily but the construction is a bit wrinkly, yet evenly firmed and the head is beautiful. But lets not kid anybody, the ring catches the eye first. Donald Trump would say “it’s huge” and he’s right because the ring is over 3 inch long. Its shiny black with an image of an angry, evil snowman that could come straight out of a Tim Burton movie and the snowman is smoking a CAO La Traviata. The smoke forms the letters CAO. The aroma is medium strong and reminds me of dark chocolate and hay.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw is perfect. I taste a very mild raisin flavor before lighting the cigar with my vintage Ronson. After lighting I taste a full coffee. After half an inch I taste spicy, peppery wood with a little citrus. Soon after it’s wood with a pepper on the back of my tongue and a metallic flavor. After a third I taste pepper, wood and a faint cocoa powder with a soil flavor. Slowly the cocoa gets stronger and a little more of a chocolate flavor. With an inch and a half to go I taste nuts, spices, pepper and wood with a little lime.


The draw is almost perfect. The light gray ash isn’t really firm but it sure is pretty. The smoke is medium full in volume and thickness. The burn is straight, no touch up needed. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, but I never found the CAO la traviata Maduro worth getting again so that’s no surprise.

Score: 87
number87

Categories: 87, CAO, Nicaraguan cigars, STG Nicaragua | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cornelius & Anthony Señor Esugars Toro

Last year, right before intertabac, my friend Courtney Smith contacted me and asked me if I would be there. Turned out she was coming to the trade show with her new company, Cornelius and Anthony. We hung out a bit and she gave me the three blends they had at the booth, the Cornelius, the Venganza and the Daddy Mac. This year Courtney and her co-worker Todd Vance were at the trade show again and I came home with the other blends, Meridian, Aerial and this Señor Esugars plus some artwork for my man cave.


I love the artwork on the cigars, we talked about how Cornelius looked like H.H. Holmes even though it’s the real Cornelius who’s the brand named after and also on the artwork of this Señor Esugars. It’s the dog of brand owner Steven Bailey, he was holding her while Courtney took a picture. The artist who made the Cornelius artwork took the picture to the next level and the artwork of the Señor Esugars was born.


The Mexican wrapper on this cigar is dark, rustic and a little rough to the touch but it fits the cigar. The sample I had only came with the beautiful Cornelius & Anthony ring, very detailed, well printed but without a secondary ring like all the other blends did. The construction is good with a clear triple cap, the rollers at La Zona did a good job. The aroma is strong, sweet and acidic with a hint of charred wood after campfire in the forest.


I cut the cigar with a double blade guillotine cutter. The cold draw is perfect, the cold draw leaves a peppery flavor on my lips but on my lips only. I lit the cigar carefully with a soft flame and taste coffee with some lemon and herbs. After a few puffs the coffee turns to dry wood with pepper in the back of my throat. Halfway it’s wood, herbs and pepper, balanced but it gives me a dry mouth. The pepper is no longer in the back of my throat but more to the front. Slowly a spice mix shows up, cumin and nutmeg come to mind. The pepper grows a little and so does the lemon. The final third is strong, full of flavor, wood, spices and pepper all balanced out by a little acidity.


The draw is flawless, the smoke is voluminous, thick and white. The burn needed a little correction once.  The salt and pepper colored ash is frayed but firm. This cigar is medium full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is close to two and a half hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Damn right I will!

Score: 92
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Categories: 92, Cornelius & Anthony, La Zona, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Punch Platino Exclusivo India 2009

If you are a regular visitor of my blog, 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

Categories: 90, Cuban cigars, La Corona, Punch | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 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: , , , | 1 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
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Your reviewer with Rick Rodriguez (CAO cigars)

Categories: 92, CAO, Nicaraguan cigars, STG Nicaragua | Tags: , , , , | 1 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: , , , , , , | 1 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: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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