Cuban cigars

Montecristo Tubos 2003

Montecristo Tubos 2003. This is a gift from a collector and trader of Cuban cigars. The man is a friend of Ministry of Cigars, and he donated a few aged and vintage cigars for us to review. This particular cigar was made in 2003 and comes from the collection of a Greek collector, who has a very well designed aging system for his cigars.

Montecristo was founded in 1935 when Alonso Menendez bought the Particulares Factory and the two brands they made: Particulares and Byron. Then he changed the name into Montecristo. Menendez’s favorite book was The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Later on, he bought the H. Upmann factory. And that gave birth to Hunters & Frankau, the exclusive Habanos distributor in the UK. Hunters were the exclusive distributor for Montecristo, Frankau had the rights to H. Upmann. They merged and are still active today. The Corona Grande in the tubos was released somewhere in the 1970s and is still in production today.

The cigar looks good. Colorado Claro in color, no veins that make it unappealing. The wrapper is soft like velvet. The ring is simple, classic. Just a small brown ring with the white Montecristo logo. The aroma is amazing. Strong, cocoa and hay but mainly cocoa.


The cold draw is a bit tight. 2003 is a year where the tobacco wasn’t rushed through fermentation yet, but it was at the end of a period where a lot of new rollers were hired. And with new, unexperienced rollers and not enough quality control, the early 2000s are notorious for having a bad draw. The cold draw has a mild leathery and strong hay flavor. From the moment the cigar is lit, the flavors are soil and coffee with a hint of marzipan sweetness. After a few puffs, leather shows up. A centimeter in, the cigar tastes like leather with chocolate. There’s still some of the marzipan sweetness lingering around in the aftertaste. The cigar than turns to leather with toast and some salt. The flavors are mild, smooth and mild. This is a great morning cigar after a light breakfast. Halfway there’s a strong hazelnut flavor, with toast, leather, pepper, and green herbs. There’s chocolate too. The final third has pepper, wood, leather, toast, and nuts. It’s still smooth but the flavors are much stronger than in the beginning.


The draw is a bit on the tight side, but still acceptable. The ash is light gray and quite dense. But not firm at all, it breaks off easily. The smoke is thick for a Cuban cigar. And white. The burn is very straight. This is a medium-bodied, medium flavored cigar. It starts out mild but grows to medium-full flavored. The smoke time is one hour and fifty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? With 16 years of age? I would love to.

number90

Categories: 90, Cuban cigars, Montecristo (Habanos) | Tags: , , , , ,

Partagas Salomones – Vintage –

In 2008 Habanos introduced the Partagas Salomones as a La Casa del Habano exclusive cigar. But the cigars were not new. They have been released as special releases before such as in the 1995 humidor. And in the late 1990s and early 2000s, you could buy bundles of these cigars on Cuba. Counterfeits weren’t as rampant as today, factories weren’t as strict as now. So it was possible to have real, good quality cigars with the correct blend outside of the regular production portfolio.

The Partagas Salomones has been a regular production since 2008. But exclusively sold in La Casa del Habano shops worldwide. With an extra LCDH ring of course. Other Partagas Salomones releases were the Salomones Espanola in the 1995 Partagas Espanola humidor. A smaller version, one inch smaller to be precise, was released in the Silo XXI Millennium Humidor from 1999. And the 2000 Partagas 155 Aniversario humidor had the 7¼x57 Partagas Salomones as well. Since the cigar that we are reviewing is from 2000, it’s most likely that it is an overproduction cigar for this humidor that was sold in a bundle.

The cigar looks great. The shape is amazing. The wrapper is Colorado colored, mild oily and only has one thin vein. The old Partagas ring is used. That means the cigar is pre-2002. That’s when the rings changed. The touch is great, the right amount of bounce when we softly squeeze the cigar. And the cigar has this mild grassy and hay aroma that you can only find in vintage cigars.

The cold draw is a bit tight, but that has to do with the shape. The flavor is leather with spice. Quite strong for a vintage cigar. Right from the start, I taste salt and leather. This is the leather that was so typical for Cubans back in the day. There’s also a very mild pepper and some cedar. Leather remains, a nice floral sweetness shines through. Complex, well balanced. The mouthfeel is very creamy. Mild cinnamon is there as well. A few puffs later, there is some toast. After an inch, there’s a faint flavor that comes close to Nutella. Hazelnut and chocolate, but it’s very faint. The dry, aged, leather is the base flavor, the other flavors dance around it. Sometimes it’s cedar, sometimes pepper. Sometimes floral flavors and then the chocolate again. All well balanced like a beautiful ballet performance. Sophisticated is the right way to describe the flavors. After a third, the pepper becomes a bit more prominent. Not that it comes close to being a pepper bomb, it remains subtle. Chocolate becomes stronger too, slowly. In the last third, the sweetness is stronger. Almost like drinking a nice, small sip of sugar water. But still, with the leather and pepper. The sweetness mellows out, the pepper gains some strength. The flavors get a little salty as well.

The draw is great. The light-colored ash is firm. The smoke is good. It’s not a Drew Estate smoke bomb, but the smoke is medium in thickness and volume. The burn is straight. The cigar is medium bodied, medium flavored. Very complex, subtle and sophisticated. Delicate almost. And it shows how good Cuban cigars can be if the tobacco is treated the right way. If the soil is well maintained. If no shortcuts are taken in the fermentation and aging. And when quality control is at a high level. The smoke time is three hours and thirty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Buying a rare 19-year-old cigar is impossible

number93

Categories: 93, Cuban cigars, Partagas (Habanos) | Tags: , , , ,

Bolivar Coronas Extra Vintage 2003

Bolivar Coronas Extra Vintage 2003. You won’t find any of these cigars post-2012, as the cigar was discontinued in that year. But the sample that we are reviewing is from 2003. This is one of the many cigars that Habanos and Cubatabaco have discontinued in the last 20 years in favor of thicker cigars that seems to be catered for the American market. The American market is a no-go area for Cuban cigars, yet a big portion of the yearly production of Cuban cigars ends up in the United States through webshops anyway. And Habanos is catering to that market, by making Cuban cigars thicker and thicker as that’s where the demand from the United States is. Small rings suffer the consequences of that trend.


As for this particular cigar, it comes from the collection of a serious collector of Cuban cigars in Greece. The cigars have been aged for 16 years in the box, which led to the cigar being box-pressed. But not a factory box-press, a natural box-press.


The Colorado Maduro wrapper looks great. Beautiful color, nice shine. On the side of the cigar are a few veins. The Bolivar ring is the classic one. The portrait of Simon Bolivar on a yellow background. But honestly, if Simon Bolivar saw the way he was portrayed, the artist would probably be killed on the spot as it’s not a flattering painting. The triple cap is nice and the cigar feels well packed. No hard spots, no soft spots even though the cigars come from some troublesome years when the Cuban industry had a lot of issues with the construction of cigars. That came through an influx of new rollers and declining quality control. The aroma is almost gone, there are a mild forest and barnyard smell.


The cold draw is good and has a spicy flavor. Pepper, cinnamon, and toast. Once lit, the flavors are muted. Mild. A little leather with some spices. A faint pepper. But from Bolivar, more is to be expected. A little sweetness shows up underneath the leather. Slowly the pepper gets a little stronger, and some earthiness replaces the leather. The leather doesn’t disappear at all though, and a mild toast flavor is noticeable after a third as well. Halfway the cigar picks up white pepper. The sweetness is getting more pleasant and the flavors seem to pick up a little. There’s even a hint of milk chocolate and some cedarwood.


The draw is fine and the silver-gray ash is nice. The smoke is good, thick, enough volume and white. The cigar is medium-bodied, and overall medium flavored. It started mildly flavored but the flavors progressed to get better and stronger. The smoke time is two hours

Would I buy this cigar again? Nope
number87

Categories: 87, Bolivar (Habanos), Cuban cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Ramon Allones Superiores

This cigar is an exclusive release for the La Casa del Habano franchise. That is a franchise owned by Habanos. The shops are only allowed to sell Cuban cigars and are held to a high-quality standard. In exchange, the La Casa del Habano shops get a preferred status when it comes to stock. And they get exclusive cigars, that are only available at the La Casa del Habano outlets.

This Ramon Allones Grand Corona is a 5.6×46 cigar and was originally released in 2009. Back then, La Casa del Habano releases were regular production cigars. In later years, Habanos decided to turn the LCDH exclusive releases into limited editions too, so the Gran Corona is no longer being produced. When the cigar was released, the price tag in The Netherlands was €9,70. And that is decent for an exclusive Cuban cigar.

The cigar has a nice Colorado colored wrapper. The cap is slightly darker though, quality control didn’t pick that up. And it passed the color sorting table too. The wrapper has a mild oily shine and thin veins. The construction feels ok, although there is a spot near the head that feels harder. I hope it’s just a piece of the stem close to the binder and will not give draw issues. The classic Cuban barnyard aroma is quite mild. The combination of the Ramon Allones ring and the La Casa del Habano ring isn’t a perfect match.

The cold draw is good. Raw tobacco is what I taste, quite spicy. Right from the get-go, I taste a slightly metallic, pepper with leather and soil. After a centimeter, I taste pepper with some creamy chocolate. The flavors remain in the same part of the flavor wheel. Some nuts, some leather, a little pepper. All smooth and mellow. The metallic and cream are gone though. No real outspoken flavors. The flavors stay the same for the longest time, this cigar is like a slow-moving creek. Pleasant, calming but not exciting. In the final third, the cigar gets more character. More power, more pepper, and a minty aftertaste.

The draw is great. The ash is light colored and beautiful, like a stack of coins. The burn is good. The smoke is decent in thickness and volume. I would say this is a medium bodied, medium-full flavored cigar. The smoke times is an hour and twenty-five minutes

Would I buy this cigar again? Maybe, why not? But not often.

number89

Categories: 89, Cuban cigars, Ramon Alones (Habanos) | Tags: , , , , ,

Bolivar Super Coronas Edicion Limitada 2014

I don’t smoke many Cuban cigars anymore, due to the many issues with Cuban tobacco and cigars. But when I was still smoking cigars, my favorite brand was Bolivar. Not the best Cubans I have smoked, that title goes to the discontinued Punch Black Prince from the late 1990s. But a regular production favorite, that was Bolivar.

A friend gave me this Bolivar Super Coronas Edicion Limitada 2014 recently and I decided to do a review. I like the 5½x48 size, 44 would have been even better but I can live with a 48. And with five years of aging, this has the potential to be a great smoke, if the quality control is up to par.


The cigar looks good, a perfect triple cap on an even brown wrapper. No veins. The specific brown of the wrapper fits perfect with the Bolivar ring. And that ring is one of the nicer Cuban rings in my humble opinion. The gold comes back in the Edition Limitada ring, so it all fits. The cigar feels well constructed. Even though the cigar has been aged for a few years, I still smell some ammonia under the hay aromas.

The cold draw is Cuban. And I mean to say that the cold draw is tight, very tight. And that causes a mild cold draw flavor of just tobacco. After lighting, I taste sweet coffee and leather. The leather and sweetness become the main flavors, all nice and strong, yet smooth. On the background, I taste some minty green herbs, some freshness like lemon basil. About a centimeter in, I taste a mixture of leather, sweetness and white pepper. But the underlying complexity of fruity citrus acidity and fresh herbs make the cigar very interesting. Halfway the flavor is mainly leather, with some earthiness and a little spice. I taste a hint of hazelnuts and still that fruity vinegar. Then suddenly I taste roasted coffee beans. Then I get his with a nice dose of chocolate as well, but with that coffee flavor on the back. A few puffs later, there’s also a faint vanilla aroma off just a short while. The leather is getting a little bit stronger and the pepper turns from white to red. The pepper gains strength in the final third, with cocoa and roasted coffee beans on the background.

The draw is tight. And a tight draw affects the smoke, which was poor. The burn is good, and the ash is like a stack of dimes before it breaks off. The cigar is complex. The smoke time of this medium-full flavored and bodied cigars is two hours and twenty-five minutes

. It scored a 90 but could have been a 93 with better construction and smoke.

Would I buy this cigar again? I would not mind a box, or two

number90

Categories: 90, Bolivar (Habanos), Cuban cigars | Tags: , , ,

Quai d’Orsay 54

The brand Quai D’Orsay has a French name for a reason. The cigars, named after a district of Paris, was created as a mild cigar especially for the French market and still is only available in a select number of countries. The brand was created in 1974, and only low numbers were produced. It almost got extinct in 2015, when only the Coronas Claro was remaining but in December 2017 Habanos revived the brand with two brand new vitolas, the Quai D’Orsay 50 and 54.

The Quai D’Orsay 54 is a Robusto extra, 5.3 inches long with a ring of 54. The blend is supposed to be mild yet complex and refined to go with the refined taste of the French palate. Now I personally like the bolder cigars, strong and with bold flavors so I wonder if this cigar and I will go together. I haven’t smoked the brand in ages, but from a decade ago I remember liking the Coronas Claro. I don’t know the box code of the cigar, but I know it’s at least 9 months old.

The wrapper is yellowish brown. Not as pale as Connecticut Shade, yet still quite light, a little dry with a water spot or two. No thick veins though, and a beautiful triple cap. I love the ring, it pays homage to the classic 1974 label yet with an updated 21st-century feel, due to the refreshed lettering, the added golden logo and the complete shine of the high-quality label. The aroma is mild and I smell quite some ammonia. The cigar feels a bit underfilled.

When I wet the tip of the cigar to properly cut it, I notice that the wrapper is very salty.


The cold draw is a bit loose, with a sweet and peppery raisin flavor. From the start, I taste a metallic flavor, quite strong, with hay, grass, and sugar. The metallic fades away quickly, and then I taste grass, sugars green herbs and mild white ground pepper. Some toast shows up too. After a centimeter, it’s toast with sweetness and white pepper. The flavors are stronger than I expected, the pepper is slowly growing but the flavors are also a little harsh and bite a little due to the young tobacco. The mouthfeel is mildly creamy. The second third has typical Cuban leather, with pepper, walnut, and sweetness. The sweetness has a bit of a vanilla aroma. Halfway the pepper is strong, a little more subtle than a full blast Nicaraguan pepper but it could fool a less experienced smoker. There’s also a hint of cedar in the flavor. The nut flavor is still there, and it’s getting more on the foreground. In the final third, I still taste the nuts but now with cedar and a more balanced pepper. Near the end, the pepper grows in strength again.

The cigar has a loose draw with plenty of smoke coming from the burn. The ash is dark. This cigar is medium-full flavored. Unfortunately, the cigar had a bad case of tunnel burning. Luckily I managed to fix the issue to a point where the cigar remained smokeable. The cigar is medium bodied and has a smoke time of close to two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? The moment Habanos starts to ferment and age the tobacco properly and manages to secure some quality control I will, but in the current state, I won’t.

number83

Categories: 83, Cuban cigars, Quai d'Orsay (Habanos) | Tags: ,

Jose L Piedra Cazadores

This brand is considered one of Cuba’s budget brands and it’s one of the major brands in the Habanos portfolio, with a worldwide distribution except for the United States of course. The brand was started in the 1880’s, it was discontinued 100 years later but within a few years it came back to the market. No limited editions of the Jose L Piedra were ever made.


Everything about this brand screams budget, the packaging in cardboard, the rings, simple in color and design without any embossing, this is just a lower end Cuban cigar and I used to smoke them when smoking was still allowed in bars. It’s a waste to smoke good cigars when you’re drinking with buddies, the Jose L Piedra brand was perfect for those moment.


The wrapper looks rough, the color is nice but a lot of veins and some shading. The ring, which is an old ring that was used between 2002 and 2007, is simple, a brown grayish color ring with white logo and lettering. The construction feels reasonable and the cigar has a below average finish. The aroma is mild, a little bit of a barnyard smell.


The cold draw after cutting the cigars is good, mildly sweet and a little sharp. After lighting I taste a sweet leather flavor. I also taste nutmeg. The flavors are mild. After a third I taste a mild salty peanut flavor with herbs. The flavors slowly change to a salty licorice flavor.


The draw is good. The smoke is thin and low in volume. The light gray ash looks nice and is firm. The burn is decent. The cigar is medium bodied and flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? No

Score: 83
number83

Categories: 83, Cuban cigars, José L Piedra (Habanos) | Tags: , , , ,

Punch LE 2013

I have a lot of people on facebook and one of them, Victor King, I had never met before but when he came to Amsterdam I met up with him and Nasier, from tabaccoshop Van Lookeren to hit a few lounges in the city. When Victor walked in he handed me a Punch Limited Edition from 2013 and he said it was a great cigar. Me, not a big fan of Cubans, decided to accept it and save it for a review. Here’s my review.


The 2013 Edicion Limitada was called Serie D’Oro #2 and it’s a 5 1/2 x 52 Pyramid. It was the first limited edition for the Punch brand, in 2017 a new limited edition was supposed to be released but by the time I was writing the intro to this review (mid january 2018) those cigars weren’t released yet according to the Cuban Cigar Website, so for now I can say the Serie D’Oro #2 is the only Limited Edition of the brand that has been released so far.


The wrapper is quite dark, leathery and veiny. The cigar feels well constructed, I don’t feel soft spots or plugs. And the rings are nice, the regular red & golden Punch ring and the regular golden & black ‘Edicion limitada” secondary ring. The mild aroma is classic Cuban, barnyard and cow dung.


I cut the cigar. The cold draw is great, quite spicy for a Cuban cigar. After lighting I taste a citrus coffee flavor. After half an inch I taste soil, coffee, a little spice and some citrus. Halfway I taste cedar with a little spice and pepper, a little nutmeg too. I also taste a little nutty flavor. The final third is peppery, woody with a floral sweetness.


The draw is flawless. The ash is almost white with a few darker smears. The burn is straight as an arrow. The smoke is medium in volume and thickness, the color is white. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Depending on the price I might want a fiver.

Score: 90
number90

Categories: 90, Cuban cigars, Punch (Habanos) | 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
number89

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

La Gloria Cubana Duke Exclusivo Países Bajos

This cigar was released in september 2017 but it’s in the book as a 2016 release. I guess that’s the Cuban calendar. This cigar is a Duke size, 5.5 inch by 54, a robusto extra as some others would call it. And this cigar was a gift from my friend Nasier, who works at Van Lookeren, a tobacconist in Amsterdam with the nicest lounge in speakeasy style underneath the shop. If you’re ever in Amsterdam, go visit Nasier and the lounge, you won’t be disappointed.


I said it before, the marketing genius that came up with the regional editions is worth his weight in gold, and probably several times. The same, normal blend, just a different vitola, and added ring with the region it’s exclusive to and a limited number of boxes and the whole world goes crazy, everybody is hunting down these cigars. Even I fell for the scheme when the first regional editions hit the market and I’m not a Cuban cigar smoker.


The cigar looks good, the shiny wrapper looks good, light brown, brittle but tasty. The ring is yellow with a drawing of a lady in a red cape, golden outlines and a secondary ring in red and silver with white lettering. On one hand I like the consistency of the Cubans that they use the same design for the edicion regional rings, on the other hand, they don’t fit with the regular rings most of the times. The cigar has a flat head, feels evenly packed and even though it looked like the foot was crooked, the cigar stands up straight. The aroma of the cigar tells me it’s still very young, probably too young.


I used my double blade cutter to decap the cigar. The cold draw is fine and I taste a mild acidic raisin flavor with some pepper on the background. After lighting I taste coffee with nutmeg, a little pepper and dry cep. After half an inch I taste vanilla, nutmeg and leather. After a third I taste leather with a little vanilla and cedar. Halfway I taste cinnamon. The final third starts with a sharp and strong pepper with a citrus and vanilla base flavor. The wrapper tears and I had to remove it. The aftertaste is peppery with a minty undertone.


The draw is great, the smoke is thick and full. The ash is white with black smears, it’s a bit coarse. The burn is classic Cuban, all over the board and I had to correct a few times. This is a mild to medium bodied and medium flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, burn issues, wrapper issues at the final third and the cigar is too mild for me.

Score: 87
number87

Categories: 87, Cuban cigars, La Gloria Cubana (Habanos) | Tags: , , , , , ,

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