Author Archives: cigarguide

Herrera Esteli Short Corona Gorda

Whenever I am in Miami, and that used to be once a year, I would always stop by El Titan de Bronze to say hi to Sandy Cobas. And every time I said I went to El Titan people would ask me “did you see Willy, their master blender?” and the answer would always be “no”. For some reason I always missed Willy when I went to that beautiful, cozy, wonderful and small factory on Calle Ocho that I love so much. And then Willy left, Drew Estate made him an offer he couldn’t refuse so he made the transfer. Then I met Willy, at the Drew Estate offices when I dropped by to say hello to Jonathan. Ever since, whenever I’m at El Titan de Bronze I run into Willy there too, it’s weird but funny.


Now back in february 2014 I went to Nicaragua and at the time my then employer had dropped Drew Estate, they didn’t sign with Agio yet so all the new stuff was not distributed in The Netherlands. While at the Gran Fabrica Drew Estate JD gave me a box of the Herrera Esteli Short Corona Gorda with the words “you can’t get these, enjoy them”. Jonathan is a great and generous person and not just because he gave me a box of cigars. These Nicaraguan made cigars with an Ecuadorean habano wrapper didn’t do it for me so fresh but now that I aged them a bit they became much better, so it’s time to do a review.


The wrapper is actually quite mild for a habano wrapper, but I guess the clouds in Ecuador that make their connecticut naturally shade grown did their work on this habano too. I see a thin veil from the bottom almost to the top and it gives the cigar some character, like a scar can make someone more attractive. The aroma is quite strong, it reminds me of hay and a sweaty horse smell. The ring is simple yet beautiful, its a square, white with simple red letters saying Herrera Esteli imported from Nicaragua with a thick golden outline. On the sides there is a whole bunch of text about the cigar being made with the best tobacco at the Gran Fabrica Drew Estate and its too much to copy it all. If you want to read it, go buy a Herrera Esteli.


I punched the cigar, the cold draw is good with a flavor of hay and quite some pepper. I lit the cigar with a soft flame and taste a strong yet mildly sweet espresso. After a few puffs there is also a mild salty flavor to the cigar, which is quite nice. After an inch I taste a mild caramel, some nuts, pepper and cedar. There is a mild harshness to the flavors in the front of my mouth. Right before the halfway point the nutty flavor is getting a little stronger just like the pepper. After two thirds the nuttiness is gaining strength and is now up to par with the pepper. In the aftertaste I get a very mild minty flavor. The nuts are a mix of salted peanuts, walnuts and macadamia.


The smoke is fantastic, just like all Drew Estate cigar this Herrera Estelí has a lot of thick smoke. The ash is white too, dense and firm. The draw is flawless. The burn is good, not perfect though but good. The smoke time is a hour.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, and I know there is a limited edition lancero out there somewhere, I want one or two to try

Score: 90

90

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

H. Upmann Magnum 54

I started to smoke cigars on a vacation to Singapore and Indonesia, on the way there we bought some cigars at Changi Airport to smoke in Indonesia and on the way back I maxed my creditcard with Cohiba, Montecristo, Upmann, Romeo y Julieta and other Cuban marca’s. When I was out, and more knowledgable and learned more of what I liked and not liked, my first purchase was a box of the H. Upmann corona major in tubes and back then the tubes were silver instead of yellow. Digging deep in my memory I recall that the box date was may 2003.


So because of that I still have a soft spot for the H. Upmann brand even though I drifted far from Cuban cigars and call Nicaragua my favorite cigar country for over a decade now. But when my buddy Nasier offered me this aged H. Upmann Magnum 54 my memory drifted back to that box of corona major. Nasier by the way, is the shopmanager of Van Lookeren in Amsterdam, and they have the coolest ‘speakeasy’ lounge in the basement under the shop, I recommend checking it out if you’re ever in Amsterdam.


The shape of the cigar is good and the cigar feels evenly packed, I can’t feel any plugs. The milk chocolate colored wrapper feels brittle but looks decent. The ring is red with golden outlines, a golden logo and white letters and that goes for the secondary ring too. The stable aroma is mild.


I cut a thin slice of the cap. The cold draw, sweet and raisin flavored, is great. After lighting I taste soil with some sweetness. There is a bit of nuts and quite some pepper for a Cuban cigar too. After half an inch I taste cedar with mild pepper. After an inch I also taste the nuts again. Halfway the pepper is really strong, if I smoked this cigar blind I would have guessed it was Nicaraguan. It’s also a little harsh, like the tobacco isn’t fully fermented. At the end I taste cedar with a little pepper and floral flavors.


The draw is great, and the smoke is thick and full. The pepper and salt colored ash is firm. The burn is a bit off, I had to correct a few times. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored.

Would I buy this cigar again? Nah

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, Cuban cigars, H. Upmann (Habanos), H. Upmann Factory | Tags: , , ,

Casa de Alegria Criollo Corona

It’s not hard to figure out where I got this cigar, that must be Cigarworld in Dusseldorf Germany since this cigar is made in Esteli in cooperation with Cigarworld, the biggest lounge in all of Europe as far as I know. It’s a Nicaraguan puro with ligero from Jalapa, Condega and Esteli in the filler and a Colorado Criollo wrapper.


The cigar is a little short for a corona, it measures 5×44 but I’m surprised by the price which is €3,60 at the time that I am writing the review. And that’s cheap, very cheap, for a longfiller cigar. It also makes me worry, can it be any good for that price? Time to find out.


The wrapper is dark and oily but has a waterspot. The construction feels good and the overall looks of the cigar are good too. The ring is simple, its black with a brushed gold ring and shiny golden outlines, black letters saying Casa de Alegria and golden letters saying Criollo on a decent quality print. The aroma is strong, manure, urine, typical barnyard as you could say.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is great. I taste some sweetness with quite some pepper on my lips. After lighting I taste a nice coffee with vinegar, quite sour but not unpleasant. I taste some pepper and nutmeg too after half an inch. After a third it’s a mix between a little harsh spicy and herbal flavor balanced with some powdered sugar and lemon. The final third is slightly harsh with wood, lemon and spices.


The draw is great, just like the thick smoke. The light colored ash has a bit of brownish taint. The ash is firm. The burn is beautiful. The cigar is medium bodied and flavored. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Nah

Score: 87
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Categories: 87, Casa de Alegria, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Cornelius & Anthony Meridian Robusto

I have smoked and review all but one of the Cornelius & Anthony blends, I started with the Cornelius toro, then went on with the Venganza robusto, Daddy Mac robusto, Señor Esugars Toro and the Aerial robusto so all that was missing is the Meridian blend and here it is, a review of the 5×52 robusto.


As all Cornelius & Anthony blends, except for the Cornelius, this cigar is made at the La Zona factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. The Cornelius is made at El Titan de Bronze in Miami, a must visit if you happen to be in Miami. The Meridian is made of Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers, a Nicaraguan binder and finished with an Ecuadorian Rosado wrapper.


As in every Cornelius & Anthony review I rave about the ring and since its the same on every cigar I can only praise the ring again. This time I also praise the secondary ring as it used the same colors as the main ring, the off white and the gold and it makes it a perfect match. The wrapper is like a dark chocolate with a mild shine and a silky feel. The construction feels perfect and the triple cap is beautiful. The cigar has a manure and wood aroma, medium strong.


I decapped the cigar with a cutter. The cold draw is perfect. There is not much of a predominant flavor in the cold draw. After lighting I taste an earthy coffee with a tiny bit of cinnamon. After half an inch I taste a buttery, earthy flavor with a little sugar. Slowly some pepper shows up too. Halfway I just taste earth and pepper. The final third I taste wood with a mild vanilla buttery flavor and pepper, a little sharp on the tongue. The flavors and overall strength pick up.


The draw is perfect. The smoke it thick, white and full. The salt and pepper colored ash is a little frayed yet firm. The burn is good. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? A 92 rated cigar, so yes!

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

Reserva Miraflor Corona

Reserva Miraflor, I wrote reviews about the old batch, aged or even vintage Nicaraguan cigars, about 8 years old. But they are back, made by the same Nicaraguan blender, Raphael Guillen, and again, in cooperation with Andrew Wood, who’s a tobacco broker nowadays and just started his new webshop where brands from small, independent cigar manufacturers will be sold. And with the code ‘CIGARGUIDE’ you will get 30% off on www.untoldleaf.com


The cigar, 5 1/2×42 in size, is made with a wapper from Ecuador, a Habano variety. The binder comes from Indonesia while the filler is all Nicaraguan. I have smoked a lot of Reserva Miraflor in the past, but I don’t think I ever smoked this particular vitola, I did smoke a lot of the robusto and toro though.


The wrapper is dark, almost maduro, with a dark reddish glow. It has a leathery feel to it, probably because it is a sun grown wrapper. The ring is simple, gold on black, glossy. The cigar looks well constructed, the shape and triple cap are perfect and the cigar feels evenly filled. The aroma is strong, barnyard with hay and cows.


I cut the cigar with a guillotine cutter. The cold draw is good, quite peppery in taste. After lighting I taste toast with a hint of cocoa. The flavor changes to spices, herbs but still with that bitter sweetness of cocoa. The cigar is spicy yet balanced, no harshness, it’s a smooth spice bomb. In the final third I also taste a little vanilla. 


The draw is perfect and so is the thick, white smoke which fills the room. The ash is dark though and not to firm. The cigar is medium full bodied and full flavored. There isn’t a lot of evolution but in this cigar I don’t mind, since I like the flavors so much. The burn is straight. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes.

Score: 93
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Categories: 93, Guillen Cigars/GDW, Nicaraguan cigars, Reserva Miraflor | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Xiphos NR Habano

In my previous reviews of Xiphos I explained that the brand is made in two countries, and in the review of the Nicaraguan made Xiphos Maduro I promised to review the other Nicaraguan blend, the Xiphos Habano too. Well, here it is, a review of the Xiphos NR Habano Robusto.


The cigar is made with aged Nicaraguan filler, an Indonesian binder and an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. Only the wrapper is different from the Maduro, so if you really want to see what difference a wrapper makes, get both of these cigars and smoke them back to back. I have done this with a Studio Tobac cigar, two identical cigar and a skilled roller only changed the wrapper, it makes a huge difference.


The ring on this 5×54 robusto is exactly the same as on the other Xiphos made in Nicaragua, black with red and silver, only the text on the secondary band is different. The latte colored wrapper is smooth and mild oily. The cigar feels good, no soft spots and the cap is nice.  The aroma is quite strong and definitely a stable aroma.


I cut the cigar. I taste a fruity and peppery flavor is the cold draw, blackberry, and the only time I ever tasted that before in a cigar was in the original release of the Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Classic. After lighting the cigar with a simple soft flame I taste a sweet toast with the blackberries I tasted in the cold draw. The toast turns to cedar yet the blackberry flavor remains and I like it. Halfway the cigar gets stronger, more spicy and the blackberry mellows out. The spice mellows out again.


The draw is great. The light gray ash is dense and firm. The burn is straight as an arrow. The smoke is medium in thickness and volume. This cigar is medium bodied at most, smooth and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and twenty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I hope they will become more widely available so I can easily get more.

Score: 94
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Categories: 94, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa, Xiphos | Tags: , , ,

Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 Lancero

When I was in Nicaragua in 2015 our group, consisting of journalist Marcel Langedijk, photographer Jesaja Hizkia, my then employer Sasja and me, visited Joya de Nicaragua. Marcel and Jesaja were there for the Cigaragua book while Sasja and I were just visiting our partners. And while we were walking through the factory I noticed boxes of Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 lanceros. I’m a huge lancero fan, Sasja hates them, I look at them from a cigar geek point of view and Sasja looks as a salesman and lanceros are hard to find but I managed to convince him to order 50 boxes anyway with the promise I would sell them all. And I did, but I kept 1 box for myself.


The Antaño 1970 once was the official cigar of the Nicaraguan government and it was considered one of the strongest cigars in the world before the rat race in the early 2010’s to make the strongest cigar possible. Its a Nicaraguan puro with filler from three important tobacco regions, Jalapa, Condega and Esteli and an Habano Criollo wrapper. This 7 1/2×38 lancero is one of the 10 vitolas in which this blend is used.


The wrapper is dark and has a few scars, but thats cool for a mean and strong cigar like this. The ring is simple yet clean, golden with a red and white circle with the Joya logo and a small black banner saying Antano. The cigar feels good, has a nice pig tail but the shape looks a little rough. Again, that fits with the whole “damn strong cigar” motto so I don’t mind. The aroma is strong, floral notes with pepper and manure is what I smell.


I used my Joya de Nicaragua branded cutter, a gift from Juan Martinez, to remove the cap of this skinny cigar. The cold draw is a bit tight with a nice nutmeg and mild peppery flavor. After lighting I taste cinnamon and spices, with a little sweetness. It’s almost like a gingerbread cookie. The flavor then slowly changes to more earthy with some spices. I also taste some very dark chocolate with a high cocoa percentage. The pepper is getting stronger. There is a mild burning sensation on the top of my tongue. Halfway the flavors remind me of rucola with a bit of a charred barbecue taste. Soon after there’s also lemon. The dark chocolate is subtle yet dominant in the aftertaste. The final third starts with an unusual flavor I never tasted before, salty French fries, just for a few puffs though, then the cigar turns to lemon again. The end of very peppery and strong.


The draw is good. The smoke is thick and full. The light ash is dense but not firm. The burn is straight as an arrow. This is a full bodied, full flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I have almost a full box left.

Score: 91
number91

Categories: 91, Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, Joya de Nicaragua, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Quesada Reserva Privada Toro

The Quesada family has honored the previous generations before, in the Tribute series, but this cigar is a tribute too, first and foremost to the father of Manuel Quesada who planted and picked the tobacco for this cigar back in 1997, a year before he passed away, but also a tribute to the new generation in the shape of modern boxes and a hologram logo. And the new generation, in the shape of Raquel Quesada gave me this cigar at the Intertabac trade show.


So the filler is a Dominican San Vincente leaf with Pennsylvania broadleaf ligero, the binder is that vintage, 18 year old, Dominican Criollo with an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper in a 5 5/8×54 size. All the cigars are aged an additional year after rolling before they are shipped to the shops. And I wonder, what happens when the vintage binder is gone? Is there a new stash of a 1998 harvest to continue the blend or will the cigar just disappear?


The mocha colored wrapper looks beautiful yet brittle, with a few thin veins. The ring is amazing, simple, stylish, modern with a black back drop, the Quesada Q logo in golden hologram style and glossy silver ‘Quesada’ and ‘reserva’ prints on the sides. Very tasteful, very well printed. The cigar feels well constructed, evenly packed and the triple cap is flawless. The medium strong aroma is typical manure, Cubanesque manure.


I cut the cigar with my butterfly cutter. The cold draw is perfect and I taste a mild sweet floral yet herbal flavor. After lighting I taste a sweet yet mild musty and floral coffee. After an inch I taste sweetness, Connecticut mustiness and cedar. The sweetness fades, a white pepper shows up with a mild floral sweetness. The cigar gets stronger.


The draw is great. The white ash is dense and firm. The smoke is medium in thickness and volume. The burn is beautiful. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? That darn Connecticut Shade, still not my wrapper.

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, Dominican cigars, Quesada, Quesada Cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Jas Sum Kral Red Knight Soloman

Jas Sum Kral owner has his own two day cigar festival every year, Ristefari, and for the inaugural 2017 edition he decided to make a limited edition of his Red Knight cigar in a Salomon shape, called to soloman. Only 1000 of the cigars were made, 100 boxes of 10, and they were only for sale during Ristefari with a MSRP of $12. And I got two of them now, a gift from Riste.


When these 7×58 cigars were made, Riste still had his cigars made at Tabacalera NOA, owned by Noel Rojas. That partnership has sailed, Jas Sum Kral is now made in the small factory of Roniel Aragon, a previous employer of Noel Rojas who ventured out on his own. As for this vitola, Jas Sum Kral made it again but in a variation of the Zlatno Sonce blend for Ristefari 2018 and I reviewed the cigar last month.


I am not a fan of big ring gauges but in a shape like this I don’t oppose it. I mean, one of my favorite cigars is actually shaped like this. The wrapper is a tad darker than what I’m used to from Jas Sum Kral, it goes towards a dark chocolate color and it has a mild leathery look. The construction feels great, the shape is beautiful. The aroma is quite mild, woody and a bit soapy.


After cutting the cigar I taste a spicy peppery flavor with a perfect resistance. After lighting it’s pepper and coffee, earthy flavors. There is also a cane-sugar tasting sweetness. The sugar is getting stronger with cedar and pepper as support flavors. Secretly the cigar gains strength and I taste something that reminds me a bit of carrots. It’s not exactly carrot but it is similar. I tasted this a few times before in cigars, and I like it. The sweetness remains, the carrot disappears, it’s now a wooden flavor with some green leafy herbs, a little cinnamon and pepper. Little passed the midway point it’s oak with pepper and spicy green herbs, the sweetness is gone. The pepper grows and becomes dominant in the final third, it blows all other flavors away.


The draw is great, the ash is light in color, a little frayed and with clear rings. The burn is good. The smoke is medium thick, grayish and medium of volume. The smoke time is two hours and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? That wouldn’t be possible.

Score: 95
number95

Categories: 95, Jas Sum Kral, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Viking Viking Churchill

Last year I reviewed the Viking Robusto, a Dominican made cigar for a Norwegian cigar aficionado and I loved it, it scored high with a 93 final score. It was a huge step up from the cigars Hawk used to have made by Cabreras, those never scored so high and it was also the best rated E.P. Carrillo cigar for me up to that date, so a double win.


Last september I talked with Hawk and his business partner Arnt and they handed me a few more cigars to review including this 7×54 Churchill. The Viking Viking blend consists of a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper from the USA, a Sumatra binder from Ecuador and aged Habano filler from three different Nicaraguan regions, Condega, Esteli and Jalapa.


The dark wrapper is rough and looks intimidating, like a real viking should and the tin cigar ring with the viking logo enhances that intimidating look, I love it. The construction feels good, the cigar is well shaped. The aroma is deep and dark, fitting with the look, like old manure on an open piece deep inside a dark and scary forest.


I punched the cigar. The cold draw is good, I taste some herbs and sultanas. After lighting I taste sugar with some coffee. After an inch I taste a sweet floral flavor with herbs and wood. After a third I taste wood, herbs, vanilla and chocolate. There is a mild pepper in the aftertaste. The final third starts dry, with dry wood, a little hint of vanilla and pepper. The pepper is getting stronger. Near the end I taste pepper, some mild floral flavors and meaty wood.


The draw is great. The white ash is white and dense. The light and thin smoke is low in volume. The burn is good. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is two hours and ten minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, simply yes.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Dominican cigars, Tabacalera La Alianza, Viking | Tags: , , , ,

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