Cuban cigars

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

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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.

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

Cohiba Lancero (vintage)

A few months ago a few friends came over to my place to hang out and smoke a few cigars in my mancave. One of them gave me a Cohiba Lancero with at least 15 years of age on them. Now as you know, I’m not the biggest fan of Cubans but I know that the vintage Cubans are a completely different animal. That’s because back then the tobacco got the time to ferment properly, the cigars got time to marry flavors, the soil wasn’t depleted yet and the strain of tobacco was better and stronger. Add that to my love of lanceros and you’ll understand that I was very pleased with his kind and generous gift.

 


In 1963 the blend was rolled for the first time and it became the   personal cigar for Fidel Castro and it was only available in this lancero vitola. It didn’t have a brand name until 1966 when the Cohiba name was chosen and it became the official diplomatic cigar for the Cuban government but in 1984 the brand was released officially and became available worldwide except for America. New lines were added and Cohiba became the flagship of the Cuban cigar industry.

 


This 7.6×38 lancero has a pale, veiny wrapper and it looks a bit crooked. The ring is an old version of the Cohiba ring, no gold, no embossing, no hologram and I bet that if I posted a picture of it in one of the many cigar groups people would scream FAKE. The cigar has a nice triple cap with a small pig tail and it feels evenly packed. I smell a faint hay smell, but there isn’t much aroma to it anymore.

 


I cut the cigar and the cold draw is a bit tight. An elegant cigar deserves an elegant light, so I grabbed me vintage Ronson varaflame instead of desegregate the cigar by using a flaming hot torch. The flavor is a mild lemon with leather, old flavors, without question this is a vintage cigar. After half an inch I taste gingerbread and some sweetness. Halfway I taste pepper too, still with the sweet gingerbread and a vanilla like sweetness.

 


The draw is good, not perfect. The smoke is quite thin though, costing points in the final score. The light gray ash isn’t very firm. The burn is good, pretty straight and slow. This medium bodied and medium flavored cigar is very smooth and balanced, subtle as only a vintage cigar can be. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? I would love to smoke more, the low score mainly has to do with looks and smoke. Flavors were great. I nubbed it.

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, Cohiba (Habanos), Cuban cigars, El Laguito | Tags: , , , ,

Montecristo Petit Robusto

Through a mutual friend I met Mike Choi at intertabac last september. Mike Choi is an authority when it comes to Cuban cigars, something which I’m not, my knowledge is in the non Cuban brands and more specifically Nicaraguan cigars. Mike opened his travel humidor and said “pick one, these are from the petit robusto selection” of which I never heard off. Anyway, I went for the Montecristo.

 


A search through google, and a little help from my friend, La Casa del Habano Almere owner, Yuri Dijkstra, pointed me in the right direction. It’s a sampler with five different Cuban brands all in the petit robusto size and I must say, the pictures look great. The brands included in the sampler are Cohiba, Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, Partagas and H. Upmann. Two cigars of each brand are included in the sampler. Maybe I should try to find one for a series of reviews.

 


The 4×50 cigars looks cute even though the wrapper is a bit rustic. The color reminds me of milk chocolate and the ring is the simple, regular brown and white montecristo ring. Well printed though, by Vrijdag printing in The Netherlands. The construction feels good and the cigar looks good too. Yet, when I set the cigar on its foot there is a resemblance to the leaning tower of Pisa. The cigar has that typical Cuban manure smell, medium strong.

 


After lighting I taste vanilla, coffee and hazelnut. After half an inch I get some more sweetness, a hint of vanilla and pepper, hazelnut and leather. Halfway it’s leather with a vanilla sugar flavor followed by a strong pepper in the aftertaste. Near the end I taste nuts again with a very peppery finish.

 


I cut the cigar and the draw is great. I taste a mild white pepper. The smoke is full, yet it has a bit of a brownish gray smoke. The ash is dense and has nice layers. The cigar is medium full bodied, medium flavored. The burn is pretty good and straight. The smoke time is fifty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I liked the cigar so I hope I can find that sampler for a fair price.

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

Romeo y Julieta Capuletos Limited Edition 2016

During my last visit to Singapore I met up the very talented designer Nuzli Hakiim, we’ve been Facebook friends for a while and he designed the fantastic Jas Sum Kral rings. He also posts the best pictures on instagram, so if you’re on instagram, follow him. I handed him some swag and a cigar and in return I got this Romeo y Julieta Edicion Limitada 2016, a cigar I have never smoked since I don’t buy Cubans.


In Singapore, where tobacco is very expensive and there is only a very limited cigar culture, Cubans are still the bulk of what’s being smoked and bought but it’s a new market and the more people get educated, the more knowledge they gain and the more non Cubans become available I am sure that people will start smoking better quality cigars in Singapore too. Yes, that is a bias statement but I’m not a big fan of overrated Cuban cigars, poorly fermented tobacco that’s being used without proper aging and all the bullshit Habanos keeps feeding the public. I do appreciate the gift though and smoke this cigar with that nice lunch at ‘Fumee by Habanos’ in Singapore in mind.


Back to the cigar. The wrapper feels soft and oily, it’s quite dark for a Cuban cigar with some discolored spots and a vein on the back. The cap is done perfectly and the cigar feels evenly packed with the same resistance or sponginess all over. The ring is the regular Romeo y Julieta ring with a secondary limitada ring added. The aroma is mild, very mild and smells like a barnyard.


I used a double guillotine cutter to decap the cigar. The cold draw is fantastic, I taste raisin with sharp herbs. After lighting I taste a pleasant and full coffee with a little splash of nutmeg. After a third I taste cedar with pepper and nutmeg, the flavors are sharp. Little over halfway I still taste the sharp, harsh, cedar with herbs but now also with some nuts. The final inch is a vanilla cedar flavor, still a little harsh.


The draw is amazing, especially considering the reputation of Cuban cigars. The burn is not straight though. The smoke is medium full in volume and thickness. The fragile ash is quite dark. This medium bodied, medium flavored cigar has a smoke time of an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Nope!

Score: 86
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Categories: 86, Cuban cigars, Romeo y Julieta (Habanos), Romeo y Julieta Factory | Tags: , , ,

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. The 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

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Categories: 90, Cuban cigars, La Corona, Punch | Tags: , , , , , ,

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