Costa Rican cigars

Brun del Re 1787 Rainforest Short Robusto

Brun del Re 1787 Rainforest Short Robusto. Brun del Re is a Costa Rican cigar brand, founded in 2006. Carlo Corazzo is originally from Switzerland but has been living in Costa Rica for the longest time. In 2001, he was introduced to the art of cigars on a trip to Cuba. He opened a shop and lounge in San Jose after his trip and a few years later he started making his own brand of cigars. At first with just a roller outside his shop. But in 2007, Corazzo and his business partner opened their factory in the Costa Rican capital and have been making cigars since. Brun del Re cigars are available in over 20 countries worldwide.


Even though Costa Rica doesn’t have the reputation of Nicaragua, Cuba, Honduras, or the Dominican Republic, the country has a huge tobacco history. The first recorded tobacco export from Central America was from Costa Rica. 1787 in the name has to do with a historical fact in Costa Rican tobacco history. And the Rainforest addition comes from the charity that is supported by this cigar. Brun del Re donates 20% of the proceeds of the cigar to The Rainforest Foundation of Costa Rica. The cigar is one of the few Costa Rican puros on the market.

The cigar looks cute. Short, and because of that kind of chubby even though it’s just as thick as a regular robusto. A pigtail and a foot that is folded close around the edges complete the look. The dark wrapper is oily and smooth. Add a green ring for the rainforest theme and a tropical frog as an emblem and the look is finished. The cigar feels well constructed and beautifully rolled. The aroma is medium strong and smells like hay.

The cold draw gives the right amount of resistance. The flavors are spicy raw tobacco with pepper. The first flavors are coffee, soil, pepper, and sweetness. Then a dark flavor shows up, earthy leather, slightly oily but with sweetness. The cigar then evolves into earthy bitterness such as dark chocolate, with sweetness and vegetal flavors. The mouthfeel is slightly buttery. Slowly more wood shows up, but the cigar is a little rough now as well. The wood is slowly replacing the earthiness as a dominant flavor, although soil never disappears. The pepper remains, yet the sweetness fades. The pepper grows in strength and becomes the main flavor. The earthiness keeps fading away.

The draw is great. The burn isn’t perfect but good enough. In the beginning, it looked like a crooked burn but it corrected itself. The ash is dark, very dark. This is a medium-bodied, full-flavored cigar. The flavors are not rounded, not balanced. The smoke time is one hour and forty-five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Nah

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Categories: 88, Brun del Re, Costa Rican cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Skull 77 El Unico

Skull 77 El Unico. The El Unico is the toro size of the Skull 77 by Cigare 77. The brand is made in Costa Rica, at the Vegas de Santiago facilities. But it is Swiss-owned. Laurent Taha is the owner, and he picked the 77 number for a very special reason. He is born on January 1st, 1977. And launched his brand on July 7, 2014. The double seven comes back several times. For now, only three sizes are available. The blends are mostly the same, although a little tweaked for each specific size. None of the three vitolas is thinner than a 58 ring though, the thickest is a ring 66.


For the wrapper, Taha picked a Habano 2000 leaf from Ecuador. Cigare 77 didn’t disclose the binder. For the filler, tobaccos from Peru, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic are used. As mentioned before, the blends vary per size, to create the optimal flavor experience in each of the vitolas. The brand is currently expanding it’s distribution and recently added Sweden as one of the new markets. And from January, the brand will be available in the United Kingdom too.

The cigar looks good. A nice, smooth, Colorado colored wrapper. Oily and there are no ugly thick veins visible. The ring, designed by Taha and his close friend & artist Claudio Capuano, is a nice looking, cigar-smoking skull. The glowing red eye did remind us of Terminator. Even though it’s a big and thick cigar, it feels quite light. The little pigtail cap is a nice detail. The aroma isn’t very strong, it’s both floral and a classic barnyard aroma.


The cold draw is very light, very easy. The flavors from the cold draw are sweetness and sultana at first, with a strong and spicy raw tobacco aftertaste. After lighting, it’s coffee, leather, and soil. Quite dry flavors. The flavors then turn spicy and grassy, still with some coffee though. The flavors then evolve to wood, spice, leaves and mild marzipan sweetness. The flavors are a little rough around the edges. The sweetness is that of powdered icing sugar, with grass and leather after a third. Very mild milk chocolate shows up too, with grass, wood, and leather. In the final third, there’s pepper, leather, and young wood. Still a little rough and the mouthfeel is dry. The harshness grows a bit too. In the end, the coffee returns.


The draw is a bit loose, but not too loose that it’s a problem. The burn is a bit wonky, but again, not too bad that it’s a problem. The smoke is quite full and has a decent volume. The cigar is medium-bodied, medium flavored. It’s a little unrefined and unbalanced. The white ash is flaky yet reasonably firm. The smoke time is two hours exactly, then it turned so bitter it had to be abandoned.

Would I buy this cigar again? I’m sorry but the answer is no

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Categories: 88, Costa Rican cigars, Skull 77, Tabacalera Vegas de Santiago | Tags: , , , ,

Mbombay Habano Robusto

A Dutch friend of mine was raving about Mbombay for a while, a brand that back then, and we’re talking about 4 years ago, never ever heard of. He gave me two to try, I smoked one, which I liked, and kept the other to write a review. But since I have so many cigars, the review had to wait for a while.


The cigars are made in Costa Rica with a blend of Honduran, Nicaraguan and Dominican filler, a Dominican binder and a Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. The owner of the brand is a shop owner in Palm Springs, California, Mel Shah, who decided to open a cigar shop after his career in IT. Now he is a brand owner too, with distribution all over the USA.


The wrapper looks amazing, dark, smooth and oily as far as I can see. And that’s not far because the cigar has a ring that covers most of the cigars. It is a very detailed ring with all Indian symbols and figures I guess. The construction feels good and I love the closed foot. The cigar has a mild manure aroma.


After I cut the cigar I notice a tight cold draw but then I remember the closed foot. I taste raw tobacco with a mild minty flavor. After lighting I taste white ground pepper and soil. Medium in strength. After a few puffs I taste some sweetness with the white pepper and cedar, clean clear cedar. The pepper disappears quickly. After a third I taste more agave syrup like sweetness. Halfway it’s cedar with sweetness and just a little spice. At the end I taste a little nuts too.


The smoke is white and quite thick. The draw is great after the foot opens. The white ash is firm. The burn needed some help, but I blame the ventilator in the back of the room for that. The evolution is subtle, the cigar is medium bodied, medium plus flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Costa Rican cigars, Mbombay, Tabaccos de Costa Rica | Tags: , , ,

Brun del Re Colonial Robusto

Brun del Re is a Costa Rican cigar company that focusses mainly on the European market but they do have a small presence on American soil too. Their factory is in San Jose, Costa Rica and I don’t know if they grown their own tobacco, but they use Costa Rican tobacco in their cigars for sure.


According to Brun del Re this Colonial is the strongest offering they have. Made with a Costa Rican maduro wrapper, an Indonesian binder and filler from Nicaragua and Costa Rica this cigar is supposed to please experienced smokers. I think I got this cigar at one of the Intertabac trade shows, but I can’t recall what year. I know I have aged this cigar for a minimum of two years in my own humidor.


The wrapper is dark, but that’s no surprise when you know that its a maduro cigar. It feels leathery and isn’t the best looking wrapper I’ve seen. The ring is red with gold and tiny, white letters in a curly font. The combination of the colors, the font and the size make the label hard to read and the details are too fine for the print so it looks like a gold blob. The construction feels good, the cap is reasonable, all by all with the construction, ring and wrapper this cigar isn’t the prettiest cigar I’ve seen, but flavor could make up for that. The cigar has a mild smell of dark chocolate.


I cut the cigar. The cold draw is good, relatively spicy and peppery. After lighting I taste earthy and coffee flavors with a hint of cocoa. The flavor is quite consistent in the first third. Halfway some citrus acidity shows up, it reminds me of yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit. I also start to taste oak, and with the yuzu and earthy flavors it’s actually very pleasant. In the final third I taste more cocoa.


The draw is good. The firm ash is gray and black. The smoke is good, nice, white and thick. The burn is great. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.


Would I buy this cigar again? I liked it. The lack of evolution caused the score to be low but the flavors are nice.

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, Brun del Re, Costa Rican cigars | Tags: , , ,

Xiphos CR Habano Robusto

I did a series of reviews on Xiphos cigars, both of their Costa Rican offerings as well as their Nicaraguan offerings but I missed one. The Costa Rica made Xiphos CR Habano Robusto and I guess it’s time to smoke and review this 5×54 robusto now.


The blend of this cigar consists of Peruvian and Dominican fillers, a binder from Peru and a hybrid Habano wrapper from Ecuador. I liked all the Xiphos cigars that I smoked, even the Connecticut scored high for a Connecticut Shade cigar so I have some expectations for this stick.


The wrapper is gorgeous, a reddish coffee brown color, a few thin veins and a very nice glossy shine from the oils in the leaf. The rings are the blind and silver ones, as mentioned in the other reviews and the Greek theme fits the name. The finish of this cigar is great, a great cap, good shape, it feels evenly packed and well constructed. The aroma is strong, it reminds me of horses and spices.


I flat cut the cap, the cold draw is perfect. I taste some dry sweetness and pepper. After lighting I taste a smooth coffee, very flavorful. After half an inch the flavor changes to more woody with a little lime. Halfway I get spicy cedar with floral notes, some sweetness and a little pepper. The pepper slowly gets a little stronger.


The draw is great. The ash is beautifully layered, light gray in color and firm. The burn is straight. The smoke is medium thick and full. This cigar is mild to medium bodied and medium flavored, very smooth and nice. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, this is a perfect morning cigar.

Score: 92
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Categories: 92, Costa Rican cigars, Tabaccos de Costa Rica, Xiphos | Tags: , , ,

Mbombay Vintage Reserve Salomon

One of my Dutch friends is a big fan of Mbombay and he gave me a cigar that I smoked for a yet to be published review just a few weeks ago. And I liked it, I can’t remember the final score but I knew I liked it. And then, while in Singapore two weeks ago, my friend Nuzli, a great designer who’s doing some photoshopping for Mbombay gave me a brand new cigar, the Mbombay Vintage Reserve, both in a Salomon and in a Lancero vitola. I’m smoking the Salomon now.


I reached out to the Mbombay instagram account for some background information, we exchanged two or three messages but I haven’t gotten any information yet. I blame that on the IPCPR which is this weekend so brand owner Mel Shaw is probably crazy busy at the moment. Hopefully I get some information soon. Maybe it’s the same blend as the limited edition Vintage Reseve 1973 that got released at IPCPR 2016, but I simply do not know.


The cigar has a light brown wrapper with quite some thin veins, it looks oily and I have my suspicion that it’s a Connecticut Shade wrapper even though it’s not as pale as most Connecticut Shade cigars. I love the shape of a good Salomon and the cigar feels well packed but with the right amount of sponginess. The ring however, I think a better job could have been done. Whenever you walk into a humidor, all the other Mbombay cigars stand out because of the artwork while this one, well, let me put it that way, if I was browsing a humidor I would, at first glance, think that it’s a Davidoff cigar. White oval ring with dots and a thin secondary ring is kind of their trademark. At second glance you see a peacock, very detailed and nice but a far cry from the colourful and unique artwork from the other Mbombay cigars. The cigar has a strong aroma, straw and hay come to mind with a little pepper.


The cold draw is fine with a woody aroma. After lighting I taste that classic Connecticut Shade flavor, something I don’t like, but the flavor is mild and some sweetness actually make it enjoyable. After a centimeter I taste cedar, sweetness and some lemon, with that Connecticut Shade touch. After a third I taste a creamy, buttery cedar with a hint of vanilla and that Connecticut Shade flavor. Halfway I taste the cedar and Connecticut Shade flavor with a mild chocolate and a growing cayenne pepper. In the final third the cedar is still creamy with a little bit of vanilla and the cayenne but the Connecticut Shade mustiness as I call it is getting the overhand. Near the end the cigar gets spicy and peppery, suddenly it gains strength too.


The draw is fine. The smoke is medium in volume and thickness, but beautifully white. The smoke gets thicker and I see more of it once the burn reaches the thicker part of the cigar. The ash is almost silver and black, with thin rings. The burn is straight as an arrow. I would say this is a medium strong cigar, medium flavored and well balanced. The smoke time is two and a half hours.

Would I buy this cigar again?  Depending on the price, I might. This is one of the few Connecticut Shade cigars out there that I like.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Costa Rican cigars, Mbombay, Tabaccos de Costa Rica | Tags: , , , , ,

Vegas de Santiago Gran Reserva Maria la Gorda

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

 

 


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

 

 


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

 

 


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

 

 


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

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

Score: 84

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

Vegas de Santiago Don Luis Toro & Conchita

I have smoked and reviewed several Vegas de Santiago cigars and I like that I see more and more cigars coming from Costa Rica. I thing that there are some good things happening south from Honduras and Nicaragua and the more choice we have, the better, as long as the quality is good. And I never had a complaint about Vegas de Santiago.

The Don Luis line is named after the Cuban cigar master Don Luis Santana Lamas, who cured the tobacco for Vegas de Santiago and rolled some of their production. The filler is undisclosed Caribbean tobacco while the binder and wrapper both are from Ecuador, the binder is a Habano 2000 and the wrapper a Connecticut.

Vegas de Santiago Don Luis Toro


The wrapper is smooth and oily but has a thin vein popping out which should have been flattened or put on the back side of the cigar. The ring is super simple, just white with gold and a logo, well printed though. The cigar feels like its evenly packed and well constructed. The cigar has a medium strong aroma of barnyard and old wood.


I used my butterfly cutter to decap the cigar. The cold draw is great and I taste pepper and raisin. After lighting I taste coffee with a little salt. The flavor changes to a slightly salt wood, smooth and nice, with a little vanilla. Halfway the cigar is all about cedar with a little salt and a mild acidity. I also taste a little nuts, pepper and sweetness. The nut flavor is getting stronger with a nice mix of pepper, vanilla, sugar and cumin.


The draw is fantastic, nothing to complain about. The ash is light gray and very firm. The smoke is medium to full in thickness and volume. The burn is razor sharp. The cigar is well balanced and smooth. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.


Would I buy this cigar again?  Yes

Score: 90
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Vegas de Santiago Don Luis Conchita


This 5×35 sized cigar looks like something I should enjoy, I love thin ring gauges. The wrapper is Connecticut but with a reddish, almost rosado, glow and quite oily. The ring is simple and the cigar feels well made. The aroma is faint barnyard.


The cigar is so thin that punching isn’t an option, so I grabbed my Xikar butterfly cutter. The cold draw is on the good side of tight. I taste a little tobacco. After lighting I taste a very pleasant, sweet and balanced coffee. Halfway I taste a mild milk chocolate with the coffee and sweetness. In the aftertaste I get some black pepper. At the end I taste some nutmeg and cumin too.


The draw is just a little tight but not tight enough to create problems. The smoke is a little thin because of the draw. The light colored ash is firm and the burn is straight. This is a medium bodied, medium full flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour.


Would I buy this cigar again? I think I will.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Costa Rican cigars, Tabacalera Vegas de Santiago, Vegas de Santiago | Tags: , , , ,

Xiphos Connecticut Robusto

Last year I reviewed two of the three Xiphos cigars that are made in Costa Rica, today I will tell you about my experience with the third Costa Rican offering from Xiphos, the Connecticut robusto. And there is a danger in having me rate a Connecticut, even though my dislike for the wrapper is decreasing, its still at the bottom of my wrapper list, even below Candela.


The cigar is made from a Peruvian binder, filler from Peru and the Dominican Republic and a wrapper from Ecuador, a Connecticut as the name suggests. The 5×50 robusto is made at the Tobaccos de Costa Rica factory, just like the other CR cigars from Xiphos.


When I remove the cellophane I notice the shine on the light colored wrapper. The wrapper is beautiful, it feels like velvet and its smooth yet a little too light for my liking. The ring is fantastic, like I wrote on the other Xiphos reviews, these rings are just perfect. In the middle of the cigar I feel a softer spot and the head of the cigar is uneven and the cigar has that typical musty Connecticut shade aroma, medium strong, like in an old, abandoned hay shack that has been empty for years.


I cut the cigar. The cold draw is very good. The cigar doesn’t have a lot of flavor unlit. After lighting I taste a mild coffee. After half an inch I taste a mild cedar with a little bit of the Connecticut Shade mustiness that I don’t like a lot. There is some white pepper in the aftertaste. After a third it’s a slightly acidic cedar. Halfway the acidity is gone, the cigar is more herbal now with a cedar undertone. The final third is mild nutty with some acidity.


The draw is phenomenal, the right amount of air flow. And the smoke is great too, thick and plentiful, the only thing that would make it better was if the color was white. The light colored ash is layered and firm. The burn is straight. This is a mild cigar, medium flavored with a nice evolution. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? No. But if you like mild cigar and/or Connecticut Shade wrappers you will probably like it. It is a good cigar, just not for my palate.

Score: 88
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Categories: 88, Costa Rican cigars, Puriscal Factory of Tobaccos, Xiphos | Tags: , , ,

Vegas de Santiago D8 serie

In july I wrote a review on the Vegas de Santiago D8 robusto. I smoked a lot of Vegas de Santiago cigars back before I started working in the industry, ordering straight from the factory in Costa Rica and always liked the cigars especially when you looked at them from a price quality point. And when I consulted for a small cigar importer in The Netherlands I pointed them to Vegas de Santiago as we lack Costa Rican cigars on the Dutch market.

At Intertabac I spoke with Marc Nieman, the owner of Vegas de Santiago and he told me that their cigars will be available on the Dutch market soon and thanked me for my help. He gave me a bunch of cigars to review too, including a couple of sizes of the D8. Instead of writing separate reviews I decided to combine all reviews in one.

Vegas de Santiago D8 Short Robusto

 


This is the smallest of the cigars I recieved, a 4×50 short robusto that I can’t find on the Vegas de Santiago website. The ring is white with a red square and golden details and letters that quite pop, a nice ring. The wrapper is dark, oily and smooth. The construction looks and feels good. The cigar has a mild straw aroma.

 

I punched the cigar. The cold draw is perfect, I taste a mild raisin flavor.
After lighting the cigar with a soft flame I taste a mild citrusy coffee. After a few puffs the cigar is floral. After a third I taste the floral flavor but with a mild peanut flavor and a tiny bit of salt. Halfway it’s floral and vanilla with some wood. In The final third I taste some red pepper too.

 


The draw is fantastic. The burn is equally fantastic. The salt and pepper ash is firm. The smoke is full. This is a medium bodied and medium flavored cigar with a smoke time of seventy five minutes.

 


Would I buy this cigar again? This is a nice cigar, if the price is right I will.

Score: 89
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Vegas de Santiago D8 Corto

 


The corto is a nub sized cigar, 4×60, a size I don’t smoke often because I’m not a fan of big ring gauges. The ring is the same as on the short robusto but the wrapper looks a shade lighter in color and a little less oily. The construction looks and feels good, while the aroma is mild and reminds me a bit of sawdust.

 


I get a good cold draw, grassy, spicy and raw tobacco flavored. The cigar is so thick that I used a jet flame to light it. I taste toast, cinnamon, chocolate and some honey sweetness. After a third I taste honey cedar. Halfway some mild red pepper shows up in the aftertaste. Near the end the pepper gets stronger but not overpowering.

 


The draw is good and the light gray ash has nice thin rings, it’s firm and dense. The burn is razor sharp but the smoke is thin. The cigar has a decent evolution for a big ring gauge cigar but it’s not as dynamic as the corona. The body and flavors are medium. The smoke time is a hour exactly.

 


Would I buy this cigar again? I actually liked the sweetness a lot, I disliked the ring gauge.

Score: 89
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Vegas de Santiago D8 Corona

 


I love the corona size, a vitola that doesn’t get the spotlight it deserves and is blown away by the thicker robusto, toro and gordo sizes but it remains in my top 5 of favorite vitolas. Again, the ring is the same and the wrapper has the same shade as the court, yet it has a little tooth to it and feels more leathery because of that. The cigar looks good and the construction feels good too.  A mild acidic aroma with some straw is what I smell.

 


I decapped the cigar with a flat cut. The cold draw is a little tight and quite peppery. After lichting I taste sweet coffee with pepper. After half an inch I taste cedar, lime, pepper and toast. After that I taste nuts, toast and some pepper. Halfway Its wood with herbs and a rocket salad pepper.

 


The draw is a little tight. The smoke is good, nice volume, nice thickness, beautiful white color. The ash is light gray, dense and firm. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is and hour and fifteen minutes.

 


Would I buy this cigar again? Apart from the tightness in the draw this is a very pleasant cigar so yes!

Score: 90
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Vegas de Santiago D8 Canonazo

 


A classic toro size, 6×52, yet it has a double name on the Vegas de Santiago website, Canonazo and Toro but ‘m fine with either, call it what you like, a cigar is a cigar. Same ring again and a leathery  chocolate brown wrapper with a beautiful reddish glow. The construction feels good and the cigar looks well rolled. The aroma is mild, its a bit of a barnyard aroma.

 


I cut the cigar and found a great draw with a mild acidic and raisin flavor. After lighting I taste a mild and creamy coffee. After a few puffs I taste walnuts with coffee. After an inch i taste a creamy vanilla with some honey. Halfway an acidic flavor is dominant with some honey and a little cream. The final third starts with a honey cedar.

 


The draw is fine and the smoke is thick and white. The burn is pretty straight. The light gray ash is coarse. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored with a nice evolution. The smoke time is two hours.

 


Would I buy this cigar again? I stick to the robusto.

Score: 88
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Categories: 88, 89, Costa Rican cigars, Tabacalera Vegas de Santiago, Vegas de Santiago | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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